Posts Tagged ‘South Korea’

Letter From New York 08 24 15 Of market crashes and treasures ruined…

August 25, 2015

The day started peacefully, coffee on the deck, a reading of the New York Times which presaged the market fall today, with a good article about hanging on, breathing deep and not panicking.   It was that kind of day. I was getting ready to go into a meeting when I had an alert from the AP that the market plunged 1000 points at the open.

With that in my mind, I walked into my meeting and did my best to push that out of my consciousness and center myself in the moment. I’m not sure anything will come of it but the local community college, Columbia Greene, is interested in me as a potential adjunct professor. Their enrollment is down but they won’t really know until the end of next week when open registration ends. They seem to be considering me for two potential positions, Public Communications and/or Intro to Journalism.

There isn’t much pay involved but I would love to go back to the classroom. We’ll see but it has been a fun thought with which to play.

So the big news of the day in the conversations around me is the Dow’s Dive, which follows a dive of similar proportions on Friday.

But that’s not the only news of the day. The Dow will go up; the Dow will go down. But the fluctuations, which do affect us, don’t last for millennia. What has lasted for millennia are the ruins of a temple of Baalshamin, until now. IS planted it with explosives and destroyed it. It may have been yesterday or a month ago but it is gone, destroyed. It was part of the ruins of Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It has seen empires rise and fall, markets rise and crash and it endured. Until now.

Once I walked amongst the ruins of Ephesus and marveled at what they were and Palmyra was so much more. This week, IS beheaded the man in charge of Palmyra’s antiquities and destroyed one of its major temples.

Barbarians walk the earth again.

As I write this, I am in one of my favorite restaurants, Thai Market. It is at 107 and Amsterdam. My friend Lionel, whose New York apartment was not far from here, introduced me to it. I come, about once a week. Some of the staff knows me and it is a good place to come, eat, and write sometimes, as I am doing now.

It is the Chinese slowdown that is so roiling the markets; I thought it would be the Greeks but the market seemed to have, over the years, factored that crisis into its workings. China was not expected.

The Greeks are going through their own drama. Tsipras has resigned, triggering snap elections. Right now an anti-Euro, pro-drachma party is attempting to form a government but without much success. It will be interesting to see what happens in Greece. Tsipras, defiled by some for his U-turn on anti-austerity, is incredibly popular because he represents something “different.”

Also representing something “different” is our Donald Trump.

Howard Bloom, my writer friend, author of “The Lucifer Principle” and three other books, is doing a podcast. The second one taped tonight. I am fresh from that. At the end, we all talked about Trump and Howard posited that he is sending out all kinds of male dominance signals, which are resonating with those who need to have their male dominance plucked up.

It makes some sense.

He holds a resounding lead in the Republican polls and that makes me think Howard may be onto something. The Donald is primal if he is anything.

Three Americans and a Brit have been honored by France with the Legion of Honor for their participation in overwhelming a potential terrorist on a fast train between Amsterdam and Paris. They took him on and subdued him. It prevented a potential tragedy. No one died and no one was critically injured. Bravo!

Ukraine is unsettled even as it celebrates its independence. More trouble will come from there before the year is out.

South Korea and North Korea have reached an agreement to ratchet down their escalating crisis. North Korea has, sort of, apologized for the landmines they placed across the border, which cost two South Koreans soldiers their legs. The South Koreans have agreed to quit their loudspeaker broadcasts across the border. The countries have gone off war footing, a good thing.

And a good thing is that my friend Robert will be coming shortly to join me and we will get some food because I am now very hungry.

Letter From A Train… 08 21 15 Of lights, meeting and trains…

August 21, 2015

It is Friday afternoon and I am on the Acela heading north from Washington, DC. Tuesday I left New York and went to Martha’s Vineyard for a quick visit to see The Grand Illumination, the lighting of the cottages in the Campground in Oak Bluffs. It was a spectacular if short visit to the Vineyard.

Arriving Tuesday afternoon, I ended up immediately going on a sail with Jeffrey and his hired mate, Tim, scudding across the harbor and out into the open waters, a good sail with a good wind. They worked; I watched. We sailed past a boat called “Infinity” which was the first super yacht launched in 2015. It was a beautiful boat, registered in the Cayman Islands and, though we tried, we could not find out who owned it, a secret well shielded.

We went into town, had dinner at Behind The Bookstore, and then headed home. I fell asleep with my Kindle in my hand, the light still on, waking at one and turning it off and drifting from there into a deep, rich sleep.

The next day was spent on the veranda, reading, looking at the stunning views and napping.

Jeffrey drove us to the Grand Illumination and while he looked for parking, Joyce and I wandered amongst the cottages, all lit with lanterns, some older than my grandparents. People sat on their porches, ready to tell you the story of their cottage.

The crowds were deep and only once did I engage with the owners, an elderly couple who bought their place in 1992. She was eighty; I have no idea how old he was. They were dressed in costume. They came from the theatre and had performed in thirty musicals together and had been married for 57 years. They were charming and worth the visit.

Yesterday morning I went with Jeffrey to the restaurant, had breakfast while he had coffee and then off to the airport.

Direct flights from the Vineyard were ruinously expensive on the return so I chose a flight that connected in DC. Alas, all flights yesterday afternoon to LGA on US Airways were cancelled because of “traffic congestion.”

I went to Baltimore, stayed with Lionel and Pierre, and had a lovely dinner with them. Today there was business in DC and now I head home.

The market is swooning, having had its worst day since 2011. There are fears the slowdown in China is worse than thought. The specter of a rate hike by the Fed hovers over the market and the price of oil has slipped beneath forty dollars a barrel, the lowest it has been since the depth of the Great Recession, signaling the world economy is slowing down.

Oh my! Not good. My portfolio is battered as I expect yours is too.

I think I mentioned in my last Letter that the site AshleyMadison.com had been hacked. It’s the site for married people who want to have an affair. One of the married people who wanted to have an affair was Josh Duggar, of “19 and Counting” who has admitted to molesting his sisters and a baby sitter. The kink just goes on.

15,000 of the hacked email addresses are .gov and .edu. Why would people use their work email addresses in a situation like this? I don’t know but it causes me to wonder about the intelligence of the American public.

On a French train a man with an automatic weapon and a knife wounded passengers and was subdued by two Americans on the train. No motive is known at this point for the attack. Kudos to the Americans on the train.

Ted Cruz sparred with actress Ellen Page over LGBT issues at the Iowa State Fair. Scott Walker equivocated about whether he would meet with folks from “Blacks Lives Matter.”

Two women have qualified as Army Rangers, the first time this has happened. I don’t think they can fight with the Rangers but they have qualified and it’s a great first step. Congratulations to 1st Lt. Kristen Griest and Capt. Shaye Haver. Good job!

A male colleague described one of them as a “physical stud.” Wow!

Not a physical stud is the pudgy, petulant dictator of North Korea who has declared his state to be in a “quasi” state of war with South Korea. He is upset about a number of things. The US is staging “war games” with South Korean troops. South Korea has been blaring propaganda over loudspeakers into North Korea.   North Korea is now blaring propaganda into South Korea. If only he didn’t have nuclear weapons…

And, lastly, alas, Trump is moving from sideshow to main stage and that is a particularly harrowing statement about America in the 21st Century. Oh my…

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.