Posts Tagged ‘Vatican’

Letter From New York 10 25 15 Back and Forth…

October 25, 2015

Diana Sperrazza. Hudson River. My Townie Heart. Catholic Synod. Pope Francis. Vatican. Tony Blair. Iraq as a mistake. George W. Bush. Chris Christie. Amtrak Quiet Car. Law and Justice. Hurricane Patricia. Kristy Howard. Princess Diana. Titanic. Biscuit from Titanic. Maureen O’Hara. Thomas Sternberg. Staples.

The fall colors are luscious as I ride south into the city on this grey day; without those colors the world would be a very drear place. The Hudson River is a sheet of slate grey; the weekend boaters have mostly dragged their boats to land. Sunday morning sails have been discontinued until the spring.

My friend, Diana Sperrazza, is having a book signing party for her recently published book, “My Townie Heart.” She labored for fifteen years, finished it and had no luck finding a publisher until one day she did.

Find it here, on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=My+Townie+Heart

Good read.

A three-week summit, or Synod, of Catholic clergy in Rome has come to an end, finishing with a document that is considered by some to be very ambiguous on matters of divorce and homosexuality. In his closing remarks, Pope Francis seemed to be chastising the conservative faction of the Church, encouraging the clergy to be more generous and understanding. He reminded them that the Disciples of Jesus had ignored the blind Bartimaeus but Jesus did not, stopping to engage him. Francis spoke of the “temptation of the spirituality of the mirage.”

One of the things we like about this Pope is that he asks all of us to be better Christians and, if not Christian, better human beings.

Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the U.K. at the time of the Iraq invasion is offering some apologies for the invasion. He’s sorry about the wrong intelligence and some of the wrong decisions that were made after the invasion. There was a lack of understanding of what would happen when the Saddam Hussein’s regime fell. That’s an understatement. Hello, IS!

Once the U.K.’s most popular politician, he has been since branded by some as a “war criminal.”   It has been a stunning turn for the man who, for a time, seemed more popular here than his counterpart, George W. Bush.

New Jersey’s Governor, Chris Christie, who is also a candidate for the Republican Party’s Presidential nomination, was booted out of an Amtrak “Quiet Car” this morning for talking too loudly. He was returning from Washington, DC, where he appeared on “Face The Nation,” accusing the President of promoting lawlessness because Obama supports “Black Lives Matter.” I would like to have seen him being kicked out of the “Quiet Car.” I am sure it was a small spectacle.

Patricia, the strongest hurricane ever recorded, slipped in status by the time it made landfall and Mexico and Texas have been spared the worst.

In Poland, a right wing party, Law and Justice, seems to have won elections there with 39% of the vote.

A young British woman, Kristy Howard, has died at the age of 20. She had raised millions of pounds for Francis House, a facility opened in 1991 by Princess Diana. She had been born with a back to front heart and was given a few weeks to live when she was 4. Her brief life astounded many, including me.

We have had an unending fascination with RMS Titanic, which sank on its maiden voyage in 1912. Some memorabilia from it will be auctioned this week in London. A biscuit from one of the lifeboats sold for about $23,000. It was saved by a passenger on the Carpathia, which picked up the survivors from the ill-fated liner.

Maureen O’Hara passed away yesterday. I remember her from sitting in front of the television watching NBC’s “Saturday Night at the Movies.” I saw all kinds of great films, including hers. She made it to 95, dying at her home in Boise, Idaho. She had moved there not too long ago to be near her only child, a daughter.

Also gone is the man, Thomas Sternberg, who co-founded Staples.

The world continues moving along.

As I am moving along, now heading back north after the book signing, the sun having come out to play, giving the afternoon a vitality the morning did not possess.

Letter From New York 10 02 15 In rain and mourning…

October 2, 2015

Chill and damp in Baltimore. Oregon shooting. Papal denial. Syrian airstrikes. Allies demand of Russia. Amazon bans rivals. Weak jobs. Market panic?

It is chill and damp here in Baltimore, where I am today to celebrate Lionel’s birthday. It is grey and gloomy, a perfect background for a day which is filled with mourning.

Yesterday, as we all must know by now, a young man, 26, killed nine and wounded 20 before being killed by police. He targeted a Community College in Umpqua, Oregon. Authorities are trying to discern what, if any, connection he might have had to this particular school.

President Obama made a live appearance and was as angry as most had seen him, frustrated by the number of times in his Presidency he has gone on air to offer condolences after a mass shooting.   He warned that his comments would be described as “politicizing” the situation but that this was a situation that should be politicized. It has become routine, said the President, and it has. We have become inured to the tragedies that unfold before us when crazed gunmen slaughter men, women and children.

This young man engaged with others on social media about his intentions. Disgustingly, some respondents encouraged him and gave him tips. No one alerted authorities. Hearing this I was not surprised; my lack of surprise horrified me. I felt thoroughly ashamed of my fellowmen. Who would encourage murder? Are they not culpable?

The young man asked victims if they were Christians. If they said yes, he shot them in the head.

Another young man, a former soldier, Chris Mintz, launched himself at the shooter and was shot seven times.

As I write this, Mike Huckabee is on CNN talking about this tragedy. He has often said that more guns are needed to protect us rather than less. The network’s anchors are giving him a challenging time about his positions.

The Vatican is attempting to push back at the controversy that has bubbled up about Francis’ meeting with Kym Davis, the Kentucky County Clerk who opposes gay marriage. The meeting tarnished the glow among liberals from the Pope’s trip to America. It had been described as a private meeting between the two, with the Pope giving her support and a rosary.

Now the Vatican is saying it was not a private meeting but she was part of a group.

Conservatives, including Huckabee, just now, deny the denial.

Both the U.S. led coalition and Russia are leading airstrikes in Syria. All of the U.S. Coalition’s strikes have been against IS. Russia has been targeting both anti-Assad groups and IS. They are using “dumb” bombs, which will cause indiscriminate damage.

Western nations are demanding that Russia only target IS. My sense is that Russia is shrugging its shoulders and is calling all rebel forces, terrorists.

Friction, of course, exists between Russia, and every one else fighting IS. It’s very messy.

Paris meetings today that were to focus on Ukraine probably will now shift to Syria.

Amazon has its own OTT devices and in a push to get them sold, it has pulled other OTT makers like Roku from its shelves. It will be interesting to see what this will do. Their Fire devices have not been particularly successful in the marketplace.

There was a weak jobs report today with only 141,000 jobs added this past month. It has sent the markets into a wobbly day. Credit Suisse is wondering if the markets are panicking.

They are certainly down.

However, despite the national mourning and the bad economic news I am feeling centered and upbeat today while acknowledging tragedy and grief.   I’m off to have my iPhone screen repaired; I shattered it yesterday. Then I am going to see if I can have my haircut.

Letter From New York 09 22 15 The Pope, Putin, Syria, Refugees and so much more…

September 22, 2015

As I am sitting in the Acela Club at Penn Station, I am watching CNN, which is covering the arrival of the Pope. He landed at Joint Base Andrews and at this moment is arriving at the Diplomatic Mission of the Vatican in Washington, DC, on Massachusetts Avenue.

When Francis touched down, President and Michelle Obama and Vice President Biden were present to greet him, an unprecedented honor. He is waving to the crowd as he slips into the residence for a night of rest.

Tonight is Yom Kippur, the holiest of nights to Jews, and Pope Francis does not want to detract from that. Tens of thousands have been mobilized to keep him safe. The Secret Service sent a man to Rome to watch how Francis interacts with crowds so they might anticipate what they needed to do.

While waiting for Francis to address a Joint Session of Congress [a first], we are, once again, facing a shutdown of the government. The Republicans want to defund Planned Parenthood and the Democrats are opposed to that. Somehow I fail to see why the Republicans are SO against Planned Parenthood.

My Republican respect keeps descending.

While all eyes are watching Francis and his movements, EU leaders have been meeting, working to decide how to handle the thousands of refugees and migrants. I found the information a little confused and oriented to dealing with the future rather than the present.

While the EU is determining what to do with the refugees there, Turkey and the US are working to figure out what Putin is up to in Syria. He intends to start bombing ASAP. They’re not sure who it is he will be bombing. Will it be IS as he says OR will it be the anti-Assad Syrian rebels who are also fighting IS? Turkey and the US fear it will be the latter as Putin and Assad have been playing footsie for decades.

I’m now on the train, heading north, on my right the Hudson River glides by with the setting sun glinting off its surface. It’s been mostly a grey day in New York but now the sun is bursting out from behind the clouds as it descends in the west.

All the way out west, in Burbank, CA, a 24 year-old man was taken into custody after he punched a 78 year-old in the face over Nutella Waffle Samples at a Costco. It seems like something that should be in “The Onion” and not real news. But it is real. The young man could face up to 11 years in prison.

There is a soft, golden glow in the west as we move north. The landscape is inescapably beautiful. I am closing down now for the night, wanting to enjoy the beauty around me before the sunset and we are gathered in the dark.

I am coming to the end of reading Steven Saylor’s Roman novels – at least all the ones he’s written so far. Another one is coming out in October. But they remind me that world has always been full of travail and that gives me hope that we will survive this time and find our own next future.

Letter From New York 05 27 15 FIFA in trouble with Germany “a bordello”

May 27, 2015

It is a warm day in New York City, a day that started cloudy and is ending with sun shining down. In not so very long, I’ll be off to a restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen to meet my friend Caroline Ely for a drink. It’s been awhile since we have seen each other and time to catch up.

While drinking my morning coffee, the news was being splashed all over the place that FIFA officials had been arrested early in the morning in Zurich, Switzerland. The Swiss made the arrests in an understated way, giving the men time to dress and gather their belongings and, in at least one case, had the hotel staff hold up a sheet to shield the arrestee from the news people who had started to gather.

It’s another blow to FIFA, an organization that has been dogged by rumors of corruption for years. American officials are seeking the extradition of a number of FIFA officials for having taken over $150,000,000 in bribes, “year after year, tournament after tournament,” according to Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

In Texas, hundreds have been ordered to evacuate after at least fifteen people have died in weather related accidents, as storms pounded the state with torrential rains. Oklahoma, too, is suffering from the pounding from Mother Nature, who, my friend and writer, Howard Bloom, has pointed can be a b**tch.

The Republican race for the Presidential nomination has become more crowded now that Rick Santorum, last seen in 2012, has thrown his hat into the ring also. There will be enough of them soon that they can form their own team though I don’t think they will want to as they’ve got some intense competition going on between them. Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana set off a storm when he tweeted that Rand Paul was unfit to be Commander in Chief.

I don’t see the two of them cooperating on the field of play.

Jindal is only thinking about joining the Republican fray but it’s likely he will. Rand Paul is already in.

The Vatican has declared that the Irish vote to constitutionalize same sex marriage is a “defeat for humanity.” I feel a little defeated that they feel that way.

The Queen, Elizabeth II of Great Britain, arrived today in great pomp and circumstance to deliver “The Queen’s Speech,” which she has done sixty times during her reign. Before she arrives, the Houses of Parliament have their basement swept by the Queen’s Guard to ensure there is no Guy Fawkes in waiting. He led the Gun Powder Plot in 1605 to blow up the Houses of Parliament.   He has a day named after him in England.

What the Queen said was dictated by what Cameron wants but it gets said with such grand style.

Tony Blair, once Great Britain’s Prime Minister, has been, for the last eight years, the envoy to the Middle East. He will step down next month. He resigned to Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General of the UN. He had been working on the behalf of the Quartet [Great Britain, the European Union, the United States and Russia]. Diplomacy gets complicated.

Angela Merkel is the most powerful woman in the world, according to Forbes, ruling a country that has now become known as “the bordello of Europe.” Germany legalized prostitution in 2002 and a huge sex trade has built up worth $16 billion a year. There are fancy places for the prostitutes to practice their trade and sex tourists load onto busses and head for Germany. It doesn’t seem to bother Angela much.

Also in Germany, there was an evacuation of part of Cologne today when WWII bombs were found undetonated while working on a construction project. Apparently happens not infrequently. Something like a thousand bombs were defused last year. They are a hazard out in the North Sea where wind farms are being built. Clearing bombs is more than a cottage industry in Germany.

I had coffee with a friend this morning who told me that Germany blew up two “dirty” nuclear bombs during the final days of the war. I had never heard that and when I attempted to research it, I found stories about it, including one that Hitler was a German traitor, actually an Illuminati and he did what he set out to do, break Germany’s back.

There is a lot out there on the Internet and it’s not all true or pretty. Beware.

And now I am going to publish this and head for drinks with my friend Caroline.