Posts Tagged ‘Zarif’

Letter From New York 03 10 15 Some feeling pressure…

March 10, 2015

It is late morning and I am settled in at the Acela Club at Penn Station, having done some emails and doing some work before I go to my afternoon appointment. I’m catching up with my old friend, Peter Kaufman, who was one of my first clients. The day is pretty grey but it’s going to warm up to fifty degrees here in the city and that’s pretty marvelous! Rain may come this afternoon.

The ride into the city on Amtrak was a feast for the eyes. Near Hudson, the river was an almost solid sheet of ice. A Coast Guard icebreaker had cut a narrow line through the ice and a barge was majestically threading its way down the river. Further south, the ice became loose with small floes bobbing on the water.

As the train’s Internet service was going in and out, I often found myself staring out the window at the magnificence rolling by. Lately, bald eagles have been flying along the river, across from the train. A lone coyote has been seen making his way across the open ice. West Point sails by in all its sturdiness.

It will be a long time and perhaps never before the ice thaws between the current President and the current Congress. There is brutal chill right now due to the open letter sent to the Leaders of Iran by 47 Republican Senators suggesting any agreement with Iran wouldn’t outlast Obama. It resulted in a blistering response from Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif, pointing out to the Senators that what is being negotiated is not a unilateral agreement with the US but with the US and the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.

Zarif has a point.

Four officers rescued an 18-month-old baby who had survived for fourteen hours upside down in her car seat while in a vehicle in a river. Her mother had passed away. After the ordeal, she is gradually improving. All four officers claim they heard someone calling for help within the car. They are not sure where the voice was coming from.

In another accident, 55 were injured when an Amtrak train struck a semi stalled at a crossing. The accident was in North Carolina. The train was New York bound.

In Argentina, three French sports stars and five members of a French television crew, along with the pilots of two helicopters, died when the two copters apparently collided. They were on the way to shoot an episode of a French reality show called “Dropping.” France is in mourning.

Ukraine has been quiet the last few days though today the Ukrainian military authorities are claiming that the rebels are using the truce to amass major weaponry.

Reaching critical mass is the cry for Hillary Clinton to say something about the email fiasco. She is expected to do so today. The right is digging its teeth into this, hoping, I expect, for another Benghazi moment. Some on the left are rising in support but most are just asking her to explain herself. Quickly, before it gets worse.

Wikipedia and the ACLU are suing the NSA over privacy concerns. Among the thousands of documents Edward Snowden leaked was one that showed the NSA was particularly targeting Wikipedia, among others, including CNN.com. Wikipedia joins a long list of corporations and foundations suing the NSA over their snooping. It will probably keep growing unless some come to court and receive rulings.

What is definitely growing is pressure on “Bibi” Netanyahu at home, facing elections. They promise to be extremely close. Some recent polls have shown him falling behind and he is claiming a worldwide effort to get him out of office. Commentators in Israel see him showing the stress.

Also facing pressure from a crumbling economy is President Maduro of Venezuela, who is facing the challenge by asking Parliament for extraordinary powers to face down “imperialism.”

Not looking very imperial today is the Euro, which has hit a twelve year low against the American dollar. It costs $1.08 to buy one Euro, a bargain for travelers but a challenge for businessmen attempting to sell their goods on the continent. The market is responding by diving lower.

And now it is time to close up for the day and head off to meet my friend Peter up by Columbia University. He suggested hot cocoa but it may actually be a day for iced tea.

Letter From New York 02 19 15 As the temperature drops…

February 19, 2015

I am at a friend’s office this afternoon, working on a project for him. It is bitterly cold here in New York and the wind chill will be fierce by this evening. Weather Underground is predicting wind chills of minus eighteen tonight, which will be worse down on Riverside Drive, where there is a micro-climate due to its proximity to the Hudson. I can only imagine how chill it will be getting home tonight.

It is the beginning of the Chinese Lunar New Year, a forty-day celebration that will result in THREE BILLION trips during these forty days. It is the largest annual migration of people from one place to the next as individuals travel to be at home for the season.

This year is the Year of the Sheep [or the Goat or the Ram, depending on your translation]. Most people are going with sheep this year, because they are cuddlier than goats or rams. It is not a particularly auspicious sign so there is a bit of hesitancy going into this New Year.

Earlier today I had a fascinating conversation with my friend, Kay Rothman, about the recent apocalyptic comments made by IS [ISIS or ISIL]. They have pointed across the sea to Rome and are gathering around a place marked in Revelations as the place where the battle will be fought that will mark the beginning of the end.

They are clever in exploiting our fears. They are clever in their use of social media, far cleverer than the West according to comments made at Obama’s anti-terrorism conference. The Russians unexpectedly attended it, much to the surprise of Washington.

Obama suggested the world address the “grievances” terrorists exploit.

Former New York Mayor Giuliani declared today that Obama “doesn’t love America.” That has kicked up a firestorm, not unexpectedly.

Giuliani was not as unruly as the Iranian Ambassador at the nuclear talks has been at times. Apparently is has been so bad that Ayatollah Khamenei has ordered Ambassador Zarif to stop it.

Also, not unexpectedly, the German Finance Minister is accusing the Greeks of using “Trojan Horses.” I have been waiting for someone to pull that one out. It happened today. There will be another “extraordinary” meeting of finance ministers to discuss Greece. The Germans are adamant about holding firm with them and so a Greek exit from the Euro is possible.

Walmart has agreed to raises wages for employees and to improve customer service. It will cost about a billion dollars but the CEO of Walmart feels it’s an essential investment in their work force. Sales were not so good last quarter and customer service complaints were up. He’s hoping the raises make good sense.

The Ukrainian truce is as fragile as ever. While fighting around Debaltseve has quieted because the Ukrainians have retreated, shelling seems to picking up south of that city, with fears the separatists are making a move on the port city of Mariupol.

The only good thing in this situation is that the four leaders still talk. Merkel and Hollande are determined to make the truce work. Putin seems removed and Poroshenko is infuriated.

Reportedly, the retreating Ukrainian soldiers are saying they felt abandoned by Kiev and were left without help. Regardless, Poroshenko is flying from the capital to personally greet and thank them.

Thankful in Texas is a lesbian coupled that were allowed to marry on the grounds that the denial of a marriage license was causing them irreparable harm. One of the two is suffering from ovarian cancer. It is a one-time event; no others will be done until the stay on granting marriages licenses to gays in Texas expires.

Congratulations to Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant!

In Los Angeles, there is an outbreak of CRE, a bacterium that is resistant to antibiotics. Seven are infected; 179 may have been exposed. Two have died. Another reminder that antibiotic resistant bacterium are on the rise.

The temperature is falling in New York, the afternoon sun is beginning to fade and I am prepping for chilly journey to Thai Market, where I will be meeting some friends for dinner. Wherever you are, stay warm and cozy.

Letter From New York 02 08 15 As the snow falls…

February 8, 2015

About fifteen hours later than was predicted, snow has begun to fall in Claverack. We are supposed to get another eighteen inches tonight if the forecast actually holds. It will be interesting to wake up in the morning and see what we actually have gotten. I am supposed to go into the city tomorrow but have a feeling I may have to cancel my meetings and reschedule them.

Freshly back from the Red Dot, my favorite local place, I am sitting at my desk, looking out at the small snowflakes which are falling, growing slowly in their intensity and size. It’s been another one of those grey and gloomy days and I went down to the Red Dot for both a bite to eat and a bit of company. Living alone sometimes leads to a bit of isolation, which I do my best to counter with forays into the world.

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany and the de facto leader of the EU, is facing her biggest challenges right now. Desperately, Europe is attempting to defuse the growing crisis in the Ukraine and the leaders of Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine are meeting tomorrow in Minsk to see if they can avert a spiral into chaos. Meanwhile, she is also attempting to manage Greece’s rebellion against austerity. The former chairman of the Fed, Alan Greenspan, has predicted that Greece will leave the Eurozone and that the Eurozone itself is doomed unless there is greater political connectivity – in effect, a United States of Europe. That’s grim.

Brian Williams’ problems continue to grow. More and more folks are calling for him to resign and it seems that he will be irrevocably damaged even if he keeps his job, which is becoming more doubtful by the day.

Out in the Mideast, Jordanian planes continue to pound ISIS. Jordan is claiming it has destroyed 20% of ISIS’s military capacity. The immolation of the Jordanian pilot, Moaz Al-Kasasbeh, has apparently united the Arab coalition against ISIS, which is the opposite of what they expected. The globe is uniting in their condemnation of ISIS in a way they haven’t before.

In Australia, Prime Minister Tony Abbott is facing a crisis and may well lose his leadership position in his party, echoing what happened to his predecessors. Internecine warfare seems to becoming the norm in Australian politics, regardless of party.

Iran is indicating this is the best opportunity there will ever be for a nuclear agreement. President Rouhani of Iran, a moderate, is walking a fine line against the religious leaders of Iran while our Congress is talking about more sanctions, which could scuttle the talks. President Obama has said that he will veto such sanctions but everyone is walking a tightrope right now. Rouhani’s Foreign Minister, Zarif, was criticized for taking a walk with Secretary of State John Kerry. Rouhani struck back at the critics but he is playing a very limited game of cards. He is not the final say in Iran. Khamenei, the religious leader, has the final say.

Ah, what a world in which we live, full of discord and violence, while at the same time, so full of beauty. My deer are crossing the yard as the snow falls around them, moving slowly off to the west, beautiful in their passage and innocent in their lives. Jazz still plays on Pandora and soon I will leave to watch the Grammies with friends.