Posts Tagged ‘Sony’

Letter From New York June 20, 2015 Of Pride Parades and Barbecues…

June 20, 2015

Yesterday, I started but didn’t finish my Letter. I was still writing when it came time to go to dinner and when I returned home from dinner my friend Lionel was here, sharing our traditional “cleansing vodka” before retiring. We got that name from a friend of mine’s grandmother, who would never go to bed until she’d had her “cleansing vodka.”

It is Pride weekend in Hudson, a tradition started just a few years ago here. The day began grey and overcast but at this moment, the sun has broken through with shadows and light playing across the deck, outside the dining room, where I am writing.

Today there will be, of course, a parade down Warren Street, which I will watch in my usual spot outside the Red Dot. In the evening my friend Matthew Morse will be hosting a barbecue at his house. The day is shaping up to be a pleasant Saturday.

Wikileaks had a very busy day yesterday.

They posted on their website 200,000 more Sony documents from the now infamous Sony hacking incident. And they began yesterday to release something like a half million documents from the Saudi government. Plus, yesterday, Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, celebrated his third anniversary holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

Busy, busy, busy…

Not so busy as he was, Prince Harry, the playboy Prince, has left his career in the Armed Forces and is returning to civilian life. He will spend the summer working on conservation projects in southern Africa, where his foundation is based.

Dylann Storm Roof, the young man who allegedly shot to death nine people in Charleston, South Carolina, at a historic Black church, was arraigned to stand trial for nine murders. In court, via video link, families of the dead told him how they felt. At least one family told him that they forgave him.

A long time NRA Board Member, Charles Cotton, posted comments on a website, blaming the Pastor of the Church for the slaughter because he was for gun control. Pastor Pinckney was one of the victims. The comments have since been taken down and Mr. Cotton has been unavailable to reporters.

In Colorado, the prosecutors in the case against James Holmes, on trial for the death of 12 people in the Aurora Theater massacre, have rested their case. It is now the defense team’s turn.

In Oklahoma, Chancey Allen Luna, was sentenced to life in prison for the death of an Australian baseball player attending school in Oklahoma. Christopher Lane was shot in the back while out jogging. At one point, Chancey told police he did it because he was bored.

It is not news that Republicans want to repeal Obamacare. Who knows? They might get their way but if they do, there will be a cost. If they use an accounting method preferred by the GOP, it will cost about $130 billion. Using the Congressional Budget Office’s normal methodology, the cost is almost triple that. Hmmmm.

There has been a possible sighting of the two escaped murderers, Richard Matt and David Sweat, down near the Pennsylvania border. If true, it means they have covered a lot of territory since their escape, 15 days ago. They are on the “Most Wanted” list and there is a $50,000 reward for information leading to their arrest.

On June 19th, 1865, in Galveston, Texas, slaves were informed they had been freed by the Emancipation Act more that two years before. It has become known as Juneteenth, a holiday to celebrate liberation and empowerment for African-Americans. The statement made by Obama yesterday acknowledged the day and referenced the sorrow and mourning that marks the death of the Charleston Nine. We live in a world in which racism and bigotry are still very much alive.

In Australia, a straight married couple has pledged to divorce if same sex marriage comes to Down Under. A wag started a Facebook page asking people to pledge to party if they do divorce. 175,000 have joined the page and pledged to party hardy if the couple divorce, both straight and gay are represented.

Ah, the sun has slipped back behind the clouds and the land has turned a shade of grey again. Soon, I will go off to the Parade and then my barbecue. Hope your day is as pleasant as mine promises to be.

Letter From New York 01 05 15 Pays to be honest…

February 5, 2015

There is a soft, golden light piercing through the trees as the sun begins to set in the west. After several dark days, the sun was out in all its winter brilliance today. As I sit down to write, the temperature is going down with the sun and tonight will be the coldest one of the winter so far. Predictions, without wind chill, are for minus seven. It will be another night of letting the cold-water faucet in the kitchen drip through the night to avoid a freezing of the pipes.

It’s been a busy day, mostly inside busy with emails and conference calls, a few errands that were run and now my time to write. In the world of good intentions, I intended to bundle up and go for a walk but seemed to run out of time to fit that in before leaving for a dinner tonight with friends at Coyote Flaco, a little Mexican restaurant up the road. It is owned by an Ecuadorian and is staffed by folks from Guatemala. The food is good.

As the sun sets, so does the career of Amy Pascal, Co-Chairman of Sony Pictures. She is departing her job but as these things happen in Hollywood, she will have a production deal at her old company, a soft landing after all the leaked emails damaged her reputation in the Sony hacking event of last fall.

Perusing stories online today, I found one from the Telegraph in the UK positing that Europe is “too civilized” to take on Putin. There are more high-level meetings happening in Kiev. Angela Merkel of Germany and Hollande of France were in Kiev today and are flying on to Moscow tomorrow to have a sit down with Putin, who will probably nod as he listens but will go on doing what he wants.

The Russian voters are standing with him; they have a history of standing by their besieged leaders and they are used to suffering after centuries of it under the Tsars and the Communists. Even though they are buckling from the collapse in oil prices and the effects of Western sanctions, the majority of Russians are standing by their man. And he seems quite determined to either take part of Ukraine or have part of it as a vassal state.

Dreams of empire dance in Putin’s head. NATO is putting rapid response forces in a number of former Communist countries that feel threatened by Russia’s aggression, reassuring countries like Moldova that they chose the right side at the end of the Cold War.

In the hot war world, Jordan launched an air assault on the city of Raqqa and other ISIS targets today in retaliation for the gruesome murder of their pilot in January. They promise more. ISIS apparently was thinking that the death of Moaz al-Kasaesbeh would turn Jordan from continuing on with US led coalition bombing them.

They were wrong.

Preaching peace, the President and the Dalai Lama were both at the National Prayer Breakfast in DC but they were not “together.” Acknowledging the Dalai Lama though, Obama irked the Chinese.

That other great proponent of all things peaceful, Pope Francis, will become the first Pope to address Congress this fall when he visits the United States.

In the category of it pays to be honest, Brian Williams, NBC News Anchor, apparently had told the world he had been on a helicopter that was hit during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He was corrected by the crew of the stricken helicopter; the newsman had not been onboard. Apologizing for his “confusion” Williams has damaged his credibility and has been made fun of by jokesters who have shown him broadcasting from the moon.

One man who was aboard the group of helicopters with Williams just shrugged his shoulders and said, “Whatever.”

The light has faded and I am leaving soon to go to Coyote Flaco and have something different than my usual chicken fajitas. I am going to do some culinary exploring.

Letter From New York 12 18 14 Things groundbreaking and things not so funny…

December 18, 2014

When I was in high school, THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA was required reading in one of my English classes. I was an adolescent fan of Hemingway though I preferred THE SUN ALSO RISES to THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA. But it did cause me to think of Cuba, the Cuba of Hemingway, before Castro. I wanted to visit but I couldn’t because travel to Cuba was prohibited.

After a pleasant evening at the Red Dot with a varied group of friends, I retreated home to sleep, waking this morning to the news that President Obama was moving to normalize relations with Cuba, which has lived under draconian sanctions from the United States. As far as I have been able to tell, fifty plus years of this policy has resulted in almost no effect. A Castro still rules in Cuba and the island limps along. It is a treasure trove of ancient, classic American cars.

The decision to normalize will be hotly debated. Some of Cuban descent feel this is a betrayal; some welcome the change. GOP lawmakers threaten to make it as difficult as possible to accomplish.

It will be interesting to watch this change. My friends, Larry and Alicia, have just returned from Cuba where they were on a government-approved excursion. They will be among the last that will have seen the “old” Cuba – the Cuba before this pronouncement. It will all begin to change now, slowly but surely and, in my opinion, in a change that is long overdue.

The Pope facilitated the long overdue change; he wrote letters to both Obama and Raul Castro encouraging normalization. And they listened. A prisoner exchanged helped.

Fifty years of sanctions hasn’t done much good. It’s about time to try a new policy, don’t you think?

There were other items in the news that caught my morning coffee attention.

New York, to my surprise, has banned fracking, the controversial process by which natural gas can be extracted from the earth. A group that opposed fracking had a spontaneous celebration in Manhattan this morning outside some state offices.

The news was full of chatter about the scrubbed release of THE INTERVIEW. One reviewer who saw it back in October felt that Rogen/Franco could become the Hope/Crosby team for Millennials.   We might never know now.

The trail of evidence for the Sony hacking caper leads right back to North Korea having ordered it.

While I have found some aspects of the Sony hack story amusing, much of it is deadly serious. And not very funny. It has called into question the sensibility of the executives who agreed to make the film. More than one person in Hollywood is asking: what did they expect from making a movie about assassinating a real life dictator who has a known reputation for unpredictable actions of a nasty kind? And who has nuclear weapons.

Kim Jong-Un said it was an act of war to release the movie and he has attacked.

Now the question is: what do we do about it? Do we start the first cyber war? Probably not. Whatever it is thinking, the Obama Administration is holding its cards close to the vest right now. And probably keeping its options open. There have been daily briefings at the White House on the affair.

The reports out of Hollywood that I have been reading have been scathing toward Sony and its actions from start to finish.

I wish I could find some amusing turn of phrase to end today but whatever it might be, it is eluding me. North Korea has, apparently through proxies, attacked a major business and brought it to its knees. It is unprecedented.

Letter From New York 12 17 14 Up to ourselves…

December 17, 2014

It is dark and drear here in the Hudson Valley. The temperature is relatively mild but seems much colder due to the damp. Across the creek, wisps of fog play through the barren tree branches. Almost all the snow has been wiped away by the steady days of rain.

After my morning coffee, I built a fire and put on jazzy Christmas music and sat down and wrote out my Christmas cards, taking them to the post office and sending them off on their way. It feels like a night to curl up with a good book but I won’t be doing that until later; I am off to the Red Dot tonight with friends for a mid-week get together.

While grey and drear in the Hudson Valley, it is peaceful in Claverack. I feel far from the madding crowd and am grateful that I am. I have one more trip into the city tomorrow for a Holiday party and then I’m here until the New Year begins. I’m looking forward to that.

It will be another extended respite from the world.

And that will be appreciated. It’s not all quiet out there in the world.

The Sony hacking situation seems to get worse, with violence threatened against theaters that show THE INTERVIEW. Most large theater chains are “suspending” their showings of the comedy. Warnings were given to stay away from theaters because there might be 9/11 style attacks.

JUST in from CNN is the news that Sony is canceling the December 25th release of the film due to the threats.

Current and former employees are suing the studio over the damage while they are scrambling to protect accounts by changing passwords as fast as their little fingers can type.

Other studios seemingly aren’t pleased with Sony and aren’t rushing to its defense. Is it every man for himself?

Helen had the face that launched a thousand ships. Sony has the picture that seems to be sinking a studio.

There are other exciting things happening that I will delighted to explore from the comfort of Claverack Cottage. The Rover has detected methane on Mars, one of the building blocks of life. What will Rover find next? I’m hoping that it is a Christmas discovery.

And I will bow my head today and say prayers for the children who were murdered in Pakistan. The country has declared three days of mourning post massacre and has called meetings of all political sides to deal with the Taliban threat. In the last decade, the Taliban, driven on by their absolute belief that they alone are right, have killed 50,000 Pakistanis.

Absolutism is hard to contradict and elusive to defeat.

Before leaving for the Red Dot, I will turn on my Christmas lights. North America burns brighter in December and January with all the Christmas decorations and the difference can be seen from space.

We are perhaps combating the psychological darkness with Holiday lights, defying the literal and figurative night with joyful decorations. I would like to think so; it has been a hard year for many and I know lots of people who would like to see 2014 disappear in the wake of their lives.

It’s not easy though. The end of the year is a marker but doesn’t magically change anything.

That we have to do ourselves.

Letter From New York 12 12 14 Not all storms come from nature…

December 12, 2014

In the background I am listening to Christmas Carols playing softly on Pandora. I have three Christmas stations bookmarked there and I rotate between them and before the Holidays are over, will probably add one or two more to keep me company as we count down to Christmas.

The tree is up, the crèche is set and almost all the Christmas presents are taken care of…

This afternoon I will go out and purchase the last couple of things I intend to give and probably will go on to do Christmas cards tomorrow and wrap the few presents that remain to be done.

I am in pretty good shape this year.

Outside it is a winter wonderland. White, crisp and clean. A family of deer just ran by my window. All is tranquil.

It isn’t tranquil in Los Angeles. They had heavy rains there last night and northern California was pummeled. 200,000 people are without power and there are fears of mudslides due to all the land that was burned clear during the summer fires sliding away.

On the front page of the L.A. Times, there are stories about the storm but there are also headlines about the hacked emails of Amy Pascal of Sony Entertainment and Scott Rudin, the producer. There is open speculation that she may not be able to keep her job post the “racially insensitive” emails about President Obama the flowed between her and Rudin.

Both have come out and apologized but apologies may not be enough. Shonda Rimes, she of the golden fingers who created Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy and owns Thursday nights on ABC, tweeted something almost unquotable about the situation. It was something like: you can put a cherry on a pile of s*it but it don’t make it a sundae.

Wow.

Lots of unpleasant things were said about talent, including Angelina Jolie. And Kevin Hart. And Mark Ruffalo. And and and…

Apparently a lot of executives are spending time on the phone with agents and managers apologizing while also letting them know there might be more to come.

Ouch.

I think the group claiming responsibility for this hacking mess is something called Guardians of the Peace. They object to a comedy coming out on Christmas Day called The Interview, which is about an attempt to assassinate the leader of North Korea. Just how assassination attempts become a comedy I’m not sure but it stars James Franco and Seth Rogen so I am sure there is some bumbling involved.

North Korea denies responsibility for the hack while at the same time praising whoever did it. Good on you, they say.

So it is storming in California and not all the storms are of the natural kind.