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Posts Tagged ‘terrorism’

This morning I climbed the stairs to my aviary to write about the mating rituals of birds and how they compare to a Chinese internet dating site, and then I heard about Brussels.

Instead of listening to conjecture and panic about terrorism, Bob and I set off to the Miller Center in Charlottesville to listen to a taping of American Forum TV, to see what an ex-diplomat and policy advisor to presidents had to bring to the table.

His name buzzed in my head. I knew this man. A long, long time ago, when I was a Rumson-Fair Haven School Board member, I was given the honor to write about him from my friend Bobbie VanAnda (Hi Bobbie!!). We were creating a “Hall of Fame,” a wall near the cafeteria which would permanently show our current students the places our alums had traveled, the numerous avenues to success they walked to get there.

I was assigned Eric S Edelman, an ex-diplomat to Finland. Here is my copy:

Thirty years after his graduation from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School, Eric Edelman was sworn in at the State Department as the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Finland. Amidst friends and family on July 20, 1998, Mr. Edelman said that he hoped his parents would finally be convinced he did the right thing by not going to law school. On August 27, 1998, he presented his credentials to President Martti Ahtisaari in Helsinki.  http://www.rumsonfairhaven.org/about/hall-of-fame/2001-inductees/

I vaguely remember a phone call, and some research back in the day when the internet wasn’t easily available. I loved writing biographies. Many times I would write a “split-page” bio for the newspaper; digging out the qualities and eccentricities of someone who may not have been a celebrity, but may have been infamous nonetheless.

Edelman retired from the US Foreign Service in 2009, and is currently the Hertog Distinguished Practitioner in Residence at the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies at John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. That’s a mouthful right?

Today he really didn’t say much about terrorism. It seems he is part of a Republican group that would like to deny Donald Trump the nomination. I know this type of Republican, very Christie Todd Whitman. Someone who is thoughtful, conservative and reasonable; they are a dying breed.

Edelman spent his time, unfortunately, delivering a critique of our President, saying that Obama has an “…ideological aversion to American power.” And that in his two terms in office, Obama tended to prioritize relations with our adversaries, and not with our allies. There was a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking, even though it’s Tuesday. He is a bit hawkish, wishing we had been more aggressive in Syria from the start. Saying that our policy, or lack thereof,  has allowed “…a major region (the Mideast) to descend into disorder.”

Edelman’s interview will be on our PBS stations this weekend. http://millercenter.org/americanforum

Bob thought he drank the Kool-Aid of the GOP, I thought he was more of a Kissinger-era policy wonk. But I did connect with him afterwards, he told us he was a Democrat in the beginning. He said his parents sold their Fair Haven home in 1980, and that he’s never been back. I wonder if they moved to Florida. He said he’s not on any social media sites, which makes getting national security clearance so much easier!

I wonder if he can succeed at keeping the Donald out of the White House. These are serious times. Good Luck Mr Edelman, and Godspeed. Here is a picture of RFH High School.

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While surfing the worldwide web this morning, I clicked on a Rolling Stone’s article about the best live bands, “50 Greatest Live Acts Right Now.” I think I found this via Facebook. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/50-greatest-live-acts-right-now-20130731

Naturally, one of the best was the Parlor Mob. http://www.disarraymagazine.com/2012/03/live-review-parlor-mob-rocks-house-of.html Alright so I’m prejudiced. Since they parted ways, I hear from my Lovely Leo birthday boy what each band member is up to; who they are playing with, flying off to Sweden with, getting married to…  Aside from scoring films, the Rocker is currently playing with 2 bands:

Sikamor Rooney http://sikamorrooney.bigcartel.com/products and

the Black Jesuses http://blackjesuses.com – http://www.surfingmagazine.com/sounds/sounds-the-black-jesus/

Because music is a part of his DNA. But he is also a writer, writing all of the lyrics to his music today. And I thought back to a time in middle school, when he wrote an exceptional essay on censorship. We were proud that at such a young age, he could feel so passionately about artistic freedom.

So with some sense of danger, I sought out the latest edition of Rolling Stone magazine. Because it’s not OK with me when drugstores try to limit my access to a magazine. I found it surreptitiously bundled in front of the very last cashier at our local Barnes and Noble, not in its usual spot among all the other magazine racks. And somehow the cashier gave off a sinister vibe, or maybe it was me, like I was purchasing contraband. photo

And the article about the Boston Bomber was compelling and answered many questions we’ve all been asking, like how can such a normal looking kid, a kid who was in college and became a citizen last year, become a monster? I know in today’s world that magazine article was a click away, but in a small way, I was making a point. And now we hear that the magazine doubled their news stand sales this month…so you see censors, some things have unintended consequences.

You may not agree with me, but lucky for us we live in a country where writers can speak the truth not only to power, but to the world.

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One of the most insightful questions we might ask ourselves, when confronted with a big decision, is how would one feel afterwards. A year from now, ten years from now, would we regret that decision or be happy we made it, no matter the outcome?

It was simply serendipitous that I signed up for twitter this past week. And I had to stop looking at one point, because the things people say in the aftermath of a tragedy like the Boston bombings left me numb. And I wanted to feel for myself, think for myself, not be bombarded with everyone else’s thoughts, in real time. Plus, instead of spurting out the first thing that comes to mind, I’ve discovered, with age, that I need some time to reflect, to analyze my thoughts before putting pen to paper, or tongue to teeth…or fingers to keyboard for that matter. I realize that once dementia sets in, all bets will be off.

Only one tweet rang true to me. It had to do with our failure in the Senate to pass a meaningful background check bill that would help stem the tide of gun violence in our country, compared to locking down a city like Boston to look for a nineteen year old terrorist. Bob tells me that approximately 80 people a day die on our streets and in our homes because they could easily pick up a gun; about 2/3 of these people are suicides. On Monday 3 people died in Boston. I know, it was a cynical calculation, a malevolent ratio 80:3 – with a whiff of truth. I wondered how Americans would feel ten years from now. Sometimes it takes someone outside of our culture, to articulate a different point of view.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/21/boston-marathon-bombs-us-gun-law?CMP=twt_gu

“After all, it’s not as if this is the first time that homicidal killers have been on the loose in a major American city. In 2002, Washington DC was terrorised by two roving snipers, who randomly shot and killed 10 people. In February, a disgruntled police officer, Christopher Dorner, murdered four people over several days in Los Angeles. In neither case was LA or DC put on lockdown mode, perhaps because neither of these sprees was branded with that magically evocative and seemingly terrifying word for Americans, terrorism.”

This week the lilacs bloomed in memory of my foster mother, Nell. There were lilacs outside my bedroom window in Victory Gardens. I always had to kiss her goodbye whenever I left the house, because she said we never knew if we’d ever return. Certainly I knew accidents could happen, I was living proof, because a drunk driver had hit the Flapper’s car a few months after my father died. At the age of 10 months, about the Love Bug’s age, I left my PA home and became a Jersey girl.

But I never thought terror could happen here, until I heard about my Jersey neighbor’s husband. He left one morning to go to his office at Cantor Fitzgerald. She didn’t wake up before dawn to say goodbye to him on that beautiful morning in September for some ridiculous reason. At another wake without a body, I saw “what ifs” playing out again and again. Someone had dropped their child at school first and was running late, another friend was on a ferry that docked at Wall Street and picked up its fill of ash-covered commuters before returning to Highlands. And I knew that asking “what if” was a futile exercise in blame.
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Yesterday brought me to tears, unexpectedly. I was replying to a friend on Facebook who had told me that her daughter was moving to Nashville, when I noticed a new tweet from Carol Costello of CNN about the bombing in Boston. Boston, my first foray into adulthood: attending Emerson College on Beacon Street; taking the MTA to Harvard Square for a Garbo festival; watching the swan boats in the Boston Common; walking to Filene’s Basement.

When Bob and I married, he accepted an offer in the Berkshires because I felt like a New Englander at heart. I wanted to go back, our children were born in MA. Bob was running the medical tent at the Josh Billings Memorial Run (aground) when the Bride was born. He tended to the usual ailments of elite and weekend athletes. He even entered a few marathons as well back then, when his back was cooperating. Last night as we watched an interview of yet another ER doctor, he said, “I know him.”

“From the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP)?” I asked, since he was the MA chapter president. “No,” he said, “from Shock Trauma.”

This morning I am trying to make some sense of this horror. But the reporter in me gets frustrated. There are too many news organizations swarming over those historical cobblestone streets. Everybody wants a new lead to the story. It’s so close to the WACO anniversary, so maybe it’s a domestic terrorist. They are searching an apartment in Revere of a Saudi nationalist. And always the same question, why?

Does it matter if the “reason” is domestic, anti-government terror, or jihadi fundamentalism? One racist, religious group wanting to avenge a perceived danger in the US vs another racist religious group trying to dominate the Middle East? They both think God is on their side, and there is no reasoning with someone like that. Asking why makes no sense. An 8 year old boy died yesterday because?

Today is the 6th anniversary of the VA Tech shooting. It’s a reminder that violence is a thread that runs through every state, every country. Boston, our hearts are with you as you heal from this. Sandy Hook, our souls are forever yours, and Blacksburg, we are still in mourning. Yesterday I felt helpless, in the same way I felt when the planes hit the Twin Towers and I heard there was one heading for DC where the Bride had just started her new job. Tears came spontaneously, because now we are all Americans, united in every city, on every street corner. Here is the MIT green building sitting across the Charles River last night.
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