Posts Tagged ‘Tunisia’

Letter From New York 06 29 15 “You’re fired!” and other things from the day…

June 29, 2015

We are reaching the end of June and I find that a bit mind-boggling but here it is. On this, the penultimate day of June, the sun has come flirting with us at the end of a day of mostly grey with a refreshing warm/cool feel to the air. Coming in to the city today from Claverack, I rode past the Hudson River, churning brown with all the recent storms, just as the creek was as I left the house this morning for the train station. One of the conductors said the Hudson reminded him of the Danube, and I agreed.

It has been a wild day for the international money markets, all seriously rattled as the Greek crisis is playing out in real time. Prime Minister Tsipras of Greece has called for a national referendum on the deal for Sunday. The banks and markets there are all closed. If you are a Greek citizen you are allowed to only withdraw 60 Euros a day. Foreigners are exempt. The German market was down over three percent as was the French CAC 40. London and New York managed to hold to a 2% loss. It will be interesting, exciting and maybe a little frightening to watch what happens the rest of this week.

Tomorrow could be the day when Greece goes into default. Europe is warning Greek citizens a “no” vote on Sunday means an exit from the Euro. We will all be holding our breath, hoping the Greek conflagration doesn’t disrupt the world economy. Greece’s is a small economy, smaller than many of our individual states but the significance of current events is also around what this means for the Euro overall.

Puerto Rico also says it can’t pay its debts. Wonder what is going to come of that?

Sunday was Pride Weekend in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco with wild celebrations in the cities over the Supreme Court ruling to legalize gay marriage. Not everyone was celebrating. Texas is resisting, to no one’s great surprise, offering to defend clerks who refuse to issue licenses. Texas Senator Ted Cruz is going to make the issue front and center in his campaign for the Republican nomination for President.

Upstate New York is breathing a sign of relief as the second of two escaped murderers was apprehended. David Sweat was captured around 3:20 yesterday afternoon, shot twice when he refused to thrown down his weapon and as he almost reached a line of trees that could have offered shelter. He is in Albany Medical Center in critical condition. His fellow escapee, Richard Matt, was killed five days ago.

Tunisia has arrested some suspected of having offered support and weapons to Seifeddine Rezgui Yacoubi, a 23 year old IS recruit, who gunned down 39 people, 30 of them British. IS has claimed responsibility; Britain is in shock.

While IS has lost a quarter of its territory in its “Caliphate,” it still controls some major cities and has demonstrated its abilities to strike by such actions as the recent taking of Palmyra. And it is exporting its religious terrorism to other places.

Boko Haram in Nigeria, which declares fealty to IS, has been using captured girls as fighters. Some of them have been trained to slit the throats of Boko Haram captives. As some are rescued as Nigeria and its allies experience some military successes, the plight of those who remain in captivity is being revealed.

Egypt’s highest prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, was killed in a bomb attack on his convoy.

“You’re fired,” has become an iconic line in the U.S. due to the popularity of “The Apprentice,” starring Donald Trump, a recent addition to the race for the Republican nomination. He made some choice remarks about Mexicans at the time and today NBC has told him, “You’re fired!” They have dumped his beauty pageants, as has Univision [no surprise] and underscored he will not be part of “The Apprentice” anymore.

And I’m fine with that.

The evening is arriving and I’m going off to have a bite to eat and then continue my consumption of a Louise Penny mystery, “A Fatal Grace.”

Letter From New York 06 28 15 Thoughts on a rainy Pride Day…

June 28, 2015

It has been unremittingly; resolutely grey for the last two days, creating another set of grey days in a summer of grey days. It is so chill; I have actually turned up the heat in my bedroom to warm the room where I am writing. I’m wearing a sweatshirt and it is about to be July! After the long, hard winter it is as if the world is not willing to give us summer. It has been grey and wet more than it has not.

I am at my desk at the cottage, looking out at the verdant green that are my God’s two acres. I just wish it wasn’t this chilly.

Down in New York, it is Pride Weekend and the parade is being rained upon. I’m not there but texts from friends have informed me of the weather conditions. It’s a joyous weekend for gays in this country. The Supreme Court has ruled that marriage is a constitutional right for all.

As I have said, I didn’t think this would happen in my lifetime but it has. And I’m grateful for all the people for whom this will mean so much. I never really understood what it meant to be married until two men that I knew, Gary and Angel, got wed and I understood, for the first time, on a visceral level, what it meant to celebrate your relationship in front of other people. Their love, as I said at the time, was incandescent.

On this grey afternoon, I am thinking about marriage and I am thinking about race relations. The murder of the Charleston Nine has caused a reaction in the South I didn’t expect. Alabama has taken down the Confederate Flag and uprooted the flagpole. Time to move on.

The South, which is becoming a haven for so many international businesses, cannot afford to focus on the past but must look to the future. Which is why, in Alabama, they took down the flag of the rebellious South, even though that was the place Jefferson Davis was sworn in as President of the Confederacy.

All the Republican candidates have, I think, denounced the Supreme Court’s decision about marriage. Jeb Bush has been moderate in his comments, as has Marco Rubio. Huckabee has been vitriolic. As have most of them.

Sorry, friends, I think the field of Republican candidates, are an embarrassment. I was raised Republican. Who are these boobs? Narrow minded souls who might win the nomination but I doubt could win the election. And for that, I’m relieved, as I think it would be a catastrophe for the country to have all three parts of the government controlled by Republicans. They’re not intelligent enough.

I am on my soapbox as I am so disturbed by this field of Republican candidates.

Outside, the rain has relented. It will return during the night, I’m sure. Flash flood warnings are in place until 9:00 AM tomorrow morning.

In the background, jazz is playing and I am feeling warm now that I have turned on the heat. Thank goodness. I have been chilled all day.

The world is wobbling on. Greece is a mess and I think we have a not pretty outcome happening there. Hopefully, world markets have factored in the Greek drama so that no matter what happens it won’t shock the markets the way it would have a few years ago.

In Tunisia, a shooter killed something like 39 tourists. He was targeting them. There was an attack in France on an American owned plant that left one person beheaded. A Saudi born suicide bomber killed dozens at a Mosque in Kuwait. Sitting here, surrounded by my trees and the quiet of my world, it is so hard to understand the need to kill. But it is a need for those who do. The Tunisian terrorist was 23 and was dead before he left the beach but behind him were the dead.

Why this hate? Why?

Letter From New York 05 28 15 Things that make me cringe and things that make me smile…

May 28, 2015

I both look forward to the moment in the day when I write my blog and also dread facing the blank digital piece of paper on my screen. Usually, it’s a time to wrap my head around the world and do a bit of sorting out.

Today I am feeling a bit more dread than usual and I’m not sure why. Is it because I have fears about the state of the world today and don’t want to face the news? I’m doing one post a week, at least, on my field, media. I post it on LinkedIn then, too, and it’s been getting some reads.

The media today is filled with the FIFA fallout. Some brands are nervous but no one has cancelled yet while everyone is watching to see what everyone else is going to do.

I wake up in the morning, most days in the city. I have my morning cup of coffee, having cut down from three to one and, with the background of city noises, read from the New York Times and generally take a look at the news on my BBC iPhone app.

Finding out that Boko Haram is using girls they have captured as suicide bombers doesn’t brighten my day – at all. Nor does the plight of women in most countries. Today there was an article on how Tunisian women have endured years of violence, cruelty and rape from the police of that country. The Indian rape problem is well known and well documented and mostly not spoken about there.

Though the Brits have just named the first female Vice-Chancellor of Oxford. Good for them.

There are things in the news that brighten my day. The French have passed a law that rooftops on new buildings must either have a garden or be equipped with solar panels. That makes me smile.

It doesn’t make me smile to know that Putin has declared military deaths a state secret – another step in his plans to keep the lid on Ukraine. Independent researchers using YouTube, Google Street View, Instagram, Twitter and Russia’s version of Facebook, have concluded that the Russians are conducting military moves in the rebellious east. It’s been done by the Atlantic Council, a Washington based research center. It’s all open source data and that’s the kind of thing that makes Vladimir seethe.

Not making me seethe was a glowing report in the U.K.’s Daily Mail, on today’s Royal Garden Party for 8000 held on the grounds of Buckingham Palace. The Queen, accompanied by a bevy of her family, wandered around greeting people, including a 92-year-old survivor of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The Queen will visit there when she makes a state trip to Germany. It sounded so British and regal and so comforting and very, very far away from the fighting that is consuming other parts of the world.

500 bodies were exhumed from mass graves in Iraq while IS killed twenty more at the ruins of Palmyra.

Perhaps we should feel better that the Al Qaeda chief in Syria has no plans to attack the West? He has received instructions from Al Qaeda central, wherever that is, not to but if the bombing keeps up, who knows?

What is also fearsome out there in the world is Mother Nature. People are digging out in Texas even as it continues to rain. In India, 1500 have died in the current heat wave and hospitals are being asked to make victims of the heat their priority.

And lest we forget, aid has still not reached some of the remoter parts of Nepal, which is now trying to get back to some normalcy though it will take years. Classes are being held under tarps, with the first weeks devoted to play and talking about the earthquake that ravaged the country. Many schools were destroyed and those standing have been used as shelters. Three million people are homeless in Nepal. The World Food Program has hired 20,000 porters to carry supplies to where the roads have gone.

$423 million was pledged to Nepal but only a little over $9 million has arrived.

In the tech world, Yahoo will have to face a class action lawsuit for spying on people’s emails in order to better target advertising. Google is going deeper into Virtual Reality.

What is not virtually real but actually real is that I need to clear up and go off to a meeting.

It’s a wild world out there. I think a martini is in order.

Letter From New York 03 19 15 Hard to believe…

March 19, 2015

It is a little after eight in the morning and to my left is the Hudson River with morning sun glinting off the water as we roll south. I am heading into the city for a few meetings and to organize for my departure to India. Most of the clothes I will be taking are in the apartment in the city and I need to sort and organize them, deciding what I will take. I have been warned to bring sweaters and a jacket or two as the nights will still be cool.

It is definitely still on the chill side today in New York. Sometime this winter will end but it is not today. It is good though that the sun is out and the day is bright; it lightens the feel of the day against the cold. Snow will come tomorrow, the first day of spring.

While I find it hard to believe after the winter the Northeast has had, this has been actually the warmest winter on record.

The front page of the NY Times is filled with exegesis of the victory of Netanyahu in Israel and attempts to parse what directions he will take as well as what twists and turns will come in his relationship with President Obama.

There is still a manhunt in Tunisia for accomplices in the killing there of 19 outside a museum. No one has claimed responsibility. Just now, as I was searching the news, my iPhone sent a breaking news alert from the BBC announcing that four people had been arrested.

The UN has stated that IS may have committed genocide against the religious minority Yazidis. There were about a half million of them, living mostly in the plains of Nineveh province in Iraq. They captured the world’s attention last year when many fled ahead of IS to Mount Sinjar where they remained trapped until the US led coalition managed to break the siege via aggressive airstrikes coupled with an offensive from the Kurdish Pesh Merga.

Hundreds have been killed. Women have been given to IS soldiers “as spoils of war.” That’s if they were lucky; many, including girls as young as six, were regularly raped. Boys as young as eight have been abducted and sent away to train as IS soldiers.

On the other side, the Iraqis have not been so innocent either if UN reports are correct. They have been taking revenge on Sunnis for the killings of Shia.

The land between the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers, the “cradle of civilization,” is a bloody mess.

The British have sent 35 trainers to Ukraine to help Ukrainian forces in defensive tactics. Putin’s spokesman has said this does not “strengthen trust.” He says it with a straight face, too.

In other British news, Charles, Prince of Wales, and Camilla, his wife and Duchess of Cornwall, are making a visit today to the Oval Office.

Office productivity will probably take a nosedive today as March Madness descends on America. There are sixteen games today and sixteen tomorrow. Many will be hunched over their computers, not working but watching the games stream.

Apple is part of the Dow Jones index, as of today. The Times noted that blue chip stocks in the index tend to underperform. Not happy news, I’m sure, to my friends who have Apple stock.

In Basel, Switzerland, Buddy Elias passed away. He was the closest living relative of Anne Frank, who left behind a diary before being transported to Auschwitz, where she died.

The French are considering legislation to set minimum body index measures for models to fight anorexia. Over the last few years several models have died, including a French model that weighed 55 pounds at one point.

I am finishing this in the Acela Lounge, where I retreated after arriving in New York. The day is going to be a busy one and it would be challenging to find another time to write.