Posts Tagged ‘Varoufakis’

Letter from New York 04 28 15 Notes on a restless world…

April 28, 2015

As I was sitting at a Producer’s Guild event last night about Multi Channel Networks, I was also texting back and forth with my friend Lionel, who has moved recently to Baltimore where, last night, the city was rocked by violence. One person was critically injured, 235 were arrested and the National Guard was called in to help restore order. AOL, where Lionel works, closed for the day and offered hotels to employees who worked in areas where rioting was occurring. At ten last night, Lionel could hear gunshots from his apartment.

Today, President Obama made an impassioned plea for “soul searching” as another city was rocked by violence over the death of a young black man at the hands of police.

Down the road in Washington, DC, the Supreme Court heard the oral arguments on gay marriage. From what I can gather from reading reports, there was no clear indication from the Justice’s questions as to which way the Court will rule in June. Both sides left cautiously optimistic.

In the turbulent world beyond the US, events keep happening that make it easy to be uneasy.

Iran has seized a Marshall Islands flagged cargo vessel, the Maersk Tigris, operated for the Danish Maersk Line. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, which forced the Tigris deeper into Iran’s territorial waters, claims the move was over legality and not for military reasons. The US has sent the Farragut to observe. No Americans were aboard.

Indonesia executed eight foreigners convicted of drug smuggling, today. They died at the hands of a firing squad. A ninth, a Filipino woman, was spared at the 11th hour. Australia, whose citizens were among those executed, may withdraw their Ambassador to Indonesia in protest.

Prime Minister Abe of Japan is in Washington to help sew up the Trans Pacific Partnership, which includes the US, Japan and 10 other Pacific Rim nations, including our old nemesis, Vietnam. Abe and Obama are also talking strengthening their mutual defense commitments as Obama is accusing China of using its “muscle” on its neighbors.

Tonight there will be a State Dinner for the Prime Minister and his wife.

Tsipras, Prime Minister of Greece, has pushed his Finance Minister into the sidelines as a conciliatory gesture to the Euro Group with whom Greece is negotiating. Mr. Varoufakis is known for his volubility and his strident stands. He has been replaced by Euclid Tsakalotos, an Oxford educated gentleman who is 180 degrees different from Varoufakis.

In Yemen, the number of displaced has grown to 300,000. Saudi warplanes bombed the airport at Sana’a to prevent an Iranian plane from landing.

The number affected by the earthquake is rising. Over 4600 are confirmed dead and the Prime Minister has said that the toll may rise above 10,000.

In the affected area of Nepal live 8,000,000 people. One million of them are children. Nowhere are supplies adequate and people are living in makeshift tents as rain continues to pour down on them. Hospitals are overflowing and lacking supplies. The country’s economy was fragile before the quake and seems ravaged now.

In Rome, Pope Francis’ Pontifical Academy of Science has convened a conference on climate change. In June, Francis will issue an encyclical on climate change that Ban Ki-moon of the UN says will come at a critical time. In September, Francis will address Congress during his visit to the US.

Francis is not the first Pope to take on climate change but he may be the most effective. His is a powerful presence.

Several American conservative groups, including one funded by the Koch brothers, attended the conference in order to refute its findings, not wanting the Pope and the Church to listen only to climate change alarmists.

In a sweet note, Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, sent out pastries and coffee to the scores who are camped out in front of the hospital waiting for the Duchess to give birth to their second child.

The day here in New York is winding down. I am going to a screening of the new version of “Far From The Madding Crowd” tonight and will be looking for a nibble on my way there.

It is relatively quiet in Baltimore, according to my last text from Lionel. Supermarkets are closing at six and most restaurants and bars are not opening, battening down the hatches for another night.

Letter From New York 01 30 15 Tensions and tolerance…

January 30, 2015

To the west there is a pink glow to the horizon, hopefully signaling decent weather. Last night and this morning, four inches of white, puffy flakes fell, once again burying the landscape. According to the weather reports, we might get down to minus 25 degrees wind chill factor, the coldest I remember in my fourteen years at the cottage.

It could be brutal! I’ll leave the cold-water faucet running in the kitchen; that’s the one that tends to freeze.

It’s been a good day albeit not the most productive day I’ve ever had. Lingering for a long time over the NY Times and my coffee, I got a later start on the day than I wanted. But, all in all, it was a pleasant one here in Claverack, a few errands run after shoveling and digging out. After a cup of Earl Grey tea, I sat down to write.

It’s been a busy day out there in the world.

First of all, Mitt Romney shook up the game board of the Republican Party by announcing he was NOT going to make a third run for President, much, I’m sure to the relief of many. It doesn’t make Jeb Bush a shoo-in but it does relieve the tensions some were feeling about having to choose between the two of them.

Speaking of tension, the new Greek Finance Minister, Mr. Varoufakis, has announced that Greece will not negotiate with “the Troika.” That’s the IMF, EU and ECB, who lent the money to Greeks to bail them out after they were on the verge of defaulting over all the other money they had borrowed. The Eurogroup’s Chairman, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, was not amused when he was in Athens yesterday. Not amused at all.

In Pakistan, dozens were killed at a Shia Mosque by some elements of the Taliban who have declared the Shia their enemy even though they are all Muslim. In all the raging within parts of Islam about the West, the real carnage is between Muslims themselves.

In Paris, the “Treatise on Tolerance” by Voltaire is climbing the Best Seller list. He wrote it 250 years ago to address the violence between Catholics and Protestants. Do you think we might get it translated into Pakistani and distributed there?

Rap mogul Suge Knight was arrested last night for murder. He allegedly got very angry with two men and drove over them in his red pick-up.   Violence seems to follow the man wherever he goes; last August he was shot several times in a club.

The NY Times was trying to peer into a crystal ball this morning, speculating on Katy Perry’s half time show at the Super Bowl. One burning question: what color will her hair be? I have friends who will be watching Sunday for the commercials and Katy Perry. Admit it, you have friends who will be doing the same thing!

The NFL has taken into its custody 108 footballs, 54 for each team on Sunday, to ensure there is no Deflategate in Arizona. A graduate student at Carnegie Mellon, Thomas Healy, has published a paper that purports that the deflation of the footballs may not have been an act of malfeasance but rather the result of going from a warm, dry room to a wet, cool field. The Patriots should give him tickets to the Game on Sunday. He will be in Arizona but has no tickets for the game.

With or without tickets, I will not be in Arizona for the game and will probably be wishing I were in a warmer clime on Sunday if the predictions for continued cold hold. I dreamt last night about going to the Caribbean, laying on a sandy, sunny beach with a cold glass of Sancerre at my side.