Posts Tagged ‘Xi’

Letter From Claverack 09 04 2017

September 4, 2017

It is an excruciatingly beautiful day at the cottage, the sun is warm, a wind blows to temper it, the only sound is soft jazz in the other room.  I have just finished a late lunch of eggs, sunny side up, steak and toast, eaten on the deck.  The first leaves have begun to fall, scattered on the table top, reminding me of the fleetingness of time.

Soon we will be in another season, fall, which I love and loathe, as I always seem so alive in the fall and, at the same time, so painfully aware life is short and death is long. It’s been that way ever since I was a kid, walking down the leaf strewn streets of south Minneapolis, knowing winter was coming and being entranced by the magic in the air.

It is Labor Day, 2017.

“According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the holiday is ‘a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.’ Labor Day is a ‘yearly national tribute’ to the “contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and wellbeing of our country.          Newsweek, 9/04/2017

And it is a holiday with a bloody history.  “Labor” wasn’t always celebrated.  Suggested reading: Walter Lord’s “The Good Years.”

The summer is unofficially ending when this day becomes part of history.  When I was a kid, it meant school was starting the next day so this was a day I always endured fearfully.  Today, I am not fearful about returning to school.  There are other things…

Kim Jong-Un has me a little fearful as does having Trump be the president who is facing him.  There was some analysis this morning that the timing of Kim’s tests of bombs and missiles has more to do with tweaking President Xi of China than with President Trump.  The latest bomb test came just as Xi was greeting officials from the BRIC countries, Brazil, Russia, India and China.  Took the wind out of Xi’s sails in terms of making news.  Kim does these things lately just as Xi is set to make some news.  Hey, I’m HERE, President Xi!  Got it?  I’m here and I’ve got some pretty big toys!

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has said North Korea “is begging for war.”  President Trump is saying, “All options are on the table.” This might not end well.

Down in the Caribbean sits the Dutch island of Saba, part of the Leeward Islands, which I visited in February.  Friends have retired there and are sitting directly in the path of Hurricane Irma, now a category 4 storm.  An email today said they will be in the eye of the hurricane tomorrow and were busily preparing, friends helping friends prepare for what could be a very nasty ride.  If you pray, think of them.

Michael Eros, son of my longtime friends, Mary Clare and Jim Eros, is returning to Houston today after the Burning Man Festival.  He left Houston before Harvey hit and he will now find out what it has done to his city.  He and friends built a giant figure which they burned, leaving behind the metal shell.

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Harvey will likely be the most expensive storm in history; it is believed 180 billion dollars of damage has been done.  Ted Cruz is having a hard time now explaining why he voted against Sandy help now that he is asking for Harvey help.  The phrase, “people who live in glass houses,” comes to mind.

There are joyful things happening in the world. Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child.  Peggy Whitson has returned from the International Space Station, having notched more time in space than any other American.  There will be another Indiana Jones film, without Shia LeBeouf’s character.  A young girl in Harvey’s floodwaters got herself and her family rescued by asking Siri to call the Coast Guard, which rescued her as she was slipping into a sickle cell anemia crisis.

Bad things will happen.  Good things will happen.  All we need to do, to keep moving forward, is not to blow ourselves up.  I’ll pray for that.

 

 

Letter From New York 05 15 15 Of sunny afternoons and death sentences…

May 15, 2015

There was no Letter from New York yesterday; the day was simply too full for me to pound one out. From fairly early in the morning until deep into the evening, I was scurrying from one end of Manhattan to another. There was a breakfast, a lunch, a wine meeting, a couple of conference calls and everything else in between.

Today is a sunny afternoon on a spring like day in New York City and in a couple of hours I’ll begin to make my way to Penn Station to head up to the cottage for a weekend retreat. I’m looking forward to a weekend of catching up. I’ve spent the day plowing through all manner of emails but don’t feel like I’ve managed anything too productive.

B.B. King died today, the man who brought blues into the mainstream, the man whose name emblazons a club here in New York, an 89 year old living legend is now gone. Fans went to his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to lay flowers but most were washed away by the rain sweeping through Los Angeles, a welcome wetness though according to meteorologists not enough to break the drought.

The Iraqi city of Ramadi seems to have been mostly overrun by the IS forces. Suicide bombers killed ten police officers. Washington calls the situation “fluid.” It’s been a back and forth battle for weeks and this is probably one more of those. In the meantime, nearly 150,000 people have fled the city, mostly to Baghdad. Ramadi lies in the center of the area where many Sunni Muslims live.

To the east of Ramadi, in Syria, IS is advancing on the area where lie the ruins of the ancient city of Palmyra, a city that was at the crossroads of the Greeks, Romans and the Persians. The ruins there are probably the best set of extant classical ruins in the world today. IS is not directly targeting the ruins but if the area falls under their control it is feared they will have more opportunities to film themselves destroying ancient artifacts, as they did in Nineveh.

We are now halfway through the five day truce that was to allow for the dispensing of emergency aid in Yemen and it is looking as if there will not be enough time to get all the emergency aid needed, dispersed.

On Tuesday of this week, a U.S. helicopter on an aid mission in Nepal went missing. It has been found on a mountainside at 11,200 feet. It does not appear that there are survivors.

In the U.K. David Cameron met with Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the SNP [Scottish National Party]. He will consider more powers for Scotland but won’t think about another referendum on independence, thank you very much.

Prime Minister Xavier Bettel of Luxembourg has married Gauthier Desteney, his long time partner. He is the first EU Prime Minister to have married his gay partner. The first European Prime Minister to do so was Johanna Sigurdardottir, Premier of Iceland, back in 2010. Luxembourg legalized gay marriage in January.

Having met with Putin at Sochi, Kerry jetted back to D.C. for meetings with Arabic leaders and he is now heading to China, where he will arrive tomorrow. He and his Chinese counterparts will be hammering out details of the Chinese leader’s visit to Washington in September.

They will also be working to defuse the situation in the South China Sea. Like good little beavers, the Chinese are building up some small islands into bigger islands. On one of them, it is constructing a runway that could land even the largest planes. It is a source of tension, particularly with Japan and the Philippines. Both sides are eager to defuse the situation but this seems to be a must do project for Mr. Xi and not something he can gracefully back away from. Tensions will mount.

Boko Haram in Nigeria has been in retreat the last few weeks but now is in a counteroffensive and has retaken a key village. They just won’t go away.

In Pakistan, the military has begun an attack on the Taliban in the Shawal Valley while the President of that country has issued a rare public rebuke of the Taliban, calling them “terrorists.” Imagine that. But it is evidence of new toughness toward the group.

And in an ending note, the jury has returned a judgment on young Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in Boston for the Marathon bombings. He has been sentenced to die.

I have never felt the death penalty accomplished anything.

It is closing in on four o’clock. I am going to post this and then probably gather my things and head toward the train station, rolling north to sit tomorrow on my deck and admire the new grill I will be acquiring.

Letter From New York 04 22 15 From robotics to singing in the rain…

April 22, 2015

Last night, on a balmy New York spring night, I went at 5:00 to Junior’s Deli on 45th Street in the heart of New York’s theater district and met Cathy, my middle niece, her husband and their two daughters, Clare and Isabel, for a pre-theater dinner. They were off to see “Matilda” and I was off to see “It’s Only A Play.”

Cathy and Michael live in Portland and my brother is there watching after their two sons who had just accompanied he and his wife to Machu Picchu. I don’t get to see Cathy and her family very often so it was a cheery visit and then we went off to our respective performances.

Amazingly, after the performance, as I threaded my way through a hideously congested Times Square, I ran into them on the corner of 44th and Broadway. We laughed and hugged and then moved on.

I curled up in bed and started to read a Peter Wimsey mystery but soon feel asleep, Kindle in hand, only to wake later to turn out the lights.

This morning I had breakfast with David McKillop, who recently stepped down as GM of A&E and stepped into the role of Chief Creative Officer at a new production company called Propagate, which is being funded by A&E. He’s partnered with Howard Owens who used to run Nat Geo.

It was a glorious spring morning and we walked around Union Square for a while after breakfast, strolling past all the vendors that form the Union Square Farmer’s Market, then walked over to 7th Avenue where we parted. He off to a meeting and me to day of talks called “Imagination,” being held in conjunction with the Tribeca Film Festival.

The morning was devoted to robotics. While Elon Musk is terrified of intelligent machines, all these speakers were gung-ho enthusiasts of artificial intelligence and robots, as long as every one followed Asimov’s Three Rules of Robotics.

It was fascinating. The demonstration of Watson, IBM’s Supercomputer, was impressive. The video they showed reminded me of “Star Trek.”

Tim Armstrong, CEO of AOL, spoke in the afternoon about the technology advances they are making in serving ads and video content to their 250,000,000 users and that was impressive, too.

After the 3-D printing talk “Eating Your Way Into 3D Printing” I had to leave to go view a cut of a sizzle reel my friend Todd’s company is working on.

While I was involved in all these fun and rather joyful activities, the world ticked on.

Yesterday the Saudis said they’d stop bombing Yemen but this morning bombs were still falling there, with the country lurching toward a humanitarian crisis as supplies are floating out at sea because of the Saudi embargo.

When I was in India there was lots of news about a land development law that the Modi government is attempting to pass. It would ease the government’s ability to expropriate land belonging to farmers for other uses. It is hugely controversial and hotly debated and stridently opposed by the Congress Party, the opposition to Modi’s BJP.

Today there was a rally in Delhi protesting the bill. At it, an Indian farmer committed suicide, hanging himself from a tree. He left behind a suicide note saying the recent extraordinary rains and hailstorms had ruined him. Rahul Gandhi raced to the hospital and the PM, Modi, is said to be “shattered” by the incident but probably not so much that he will withdraw the law.

Britain, which is facing elections on May 7th, is working overtime to figure out what is going to happen if the Tories lose. If the Scots become the power brokers in the formation of a new government, there is a concern about the results. “Constitutional crisis” is on the lips of a few.

Thousands of Ethiopians have taken to the streets to march in protest against IS’s killing of thirty of their countrymen for being Christian.

Prime Minister Abe of Japan paid slight attention to Japan’s wartime responsibility in a speech in Jakarta, which raised the ire of Japan’s neighbors but not so much that Xi of China wouldn’t meet with Abe. The two had a thirty-minute meeting and stressed their determination to continue working on their relationship. It almost sounded like an estranged couple continuing their therapy sessions.

The Vatican announced today that Pope Francis would stop in Cuba while en route to the US for his visit here. Cuba will probably go mad for the Pontiff.

The bright spring morning turned to afternoon clouds and rain, which has now stopped though the grey continues. I am off to dinner tonight with my friends David and Annette Fox, celebrating my return from India with take out from Indus Valley, our favorite neighborhood Indian restaurant. Will be a good time.