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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

GAWA Day #36A: World News Today

This morning I read USA Today and the International New York Times.  If you put aside American football, the Major League Baseball playoffs and the victory of Canada's new leader, Justin Bieber...well, he is Canadian and young...but of course I mean 43 year old Justin Trudeau, everything else is happening in the Middle East and Europe.  It was such a stunning rout of the Conservatives, that Republicans in America are getting concerned.

The Middle East, from Israel to Syria to the Iran nuclear agreement, this is the region of newsworthy activity today. In case you haven't kept up, Iran's Parliament approved the deal, and the U.S. Congress will vote this month.  Will the Republican Congress approve this legislation?  No, but no matter, for all Obama has to do is veto the bill, and the mere inability of the U.S. Senate to overturn (there are just enough Democratic votes to cause this) is sufficient for treaty approval.  Yes, this sounds unconstitutional, but that's the way our system works.  This is like ping-pong, for Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is awaiting American action before he commits..and he will if the US. does.

The migrant problem--62% from Syria, Eritrea and Afghanistan--continues to fester, and Hungary, my stop after Germany, has closed its border.  Best as I can tell, Hungary at one time only allowed immigrants to pass through the country, not stay.  Germany has already accepted 630,000.  France?  500.  Sweden?  20,000.  The total immigrants this year is a mere 0.03% of the total European population, at 740 million, more than double the number of people living in the USA.

You say, why don't those Arab countries do their share?  Well, they are:
  • Turkey--more than 2 million
  • Jordan--almost 1.5 million
  • Lebanon--more than a million (25+% of its population)
  • Saudi Arabia--perhaps half a million
  • Iraq--quarter million
The USA? 1,700.  But we have provided more than $3 billion, versus $4 billion+ for the European Union.  Winter is coming and the crisis will only mount.  Well, maybe Russia can help end that war so those desperate souls can stay home.

General Secretary and President Xi Jinping of China is now in the United Kingdom.  The gossip news is that Prince Charles refused to join the State Banquet, where Xi sat next to Elizabeth II, the Queen.  However, Charles will officially later meet with the Chinese leader twice. Something to do with Charles' relationship with the Dalai Lama.

And further in the UK, the final four for the Rugby Cup will compete this weekend:  Argentina and the usual suspects, New Zealand, South Africa and Australia.  Who could have predicted Argentina?  Well, me.  Read my posting of GAWA Day #18.  I am now a rugby authority.  I glanced at my crystal ball and saw that Australia would beat Argentina, then lose to New Zealand for the World Cup.  However, if South Africa somehow prevails, then Japan can gain ever greater respect, for they beat South Africa last month.

Finally, a bit more about Venice.  Seems like my problems are so manini (small) compared to the above, but life is not fair and I am blessed.

Anyway, when you arrive in Venice, except for getting to and from the airport or train station (right), or need to go to Murano for their glassmaking, don't bother with any water transport.  They are kind of dangerous getting on, off and just standing on the boat, and do cost about $10/trip.  The stations are confusing and the boat is always full.  You can get a 2-day pass for $30, but you'll hardly use it.  Venice is made for walking, although there are a lot of steps over bridges.  You say, how can the locals afford this?  Well, they only pay the equivalent of $1.50.  The gondolas, incidentally, cost around $100 for six people for 40 minutes.  Some have professional singers, but the gondoliers also serenade.


For example, after lunch yesterday at Quadria, I asked my waiter what was the best way to get to Rialto, where the markets are located.  That is eight boat stops from San Marcos, and looked like it would take an hour, or more, if you tried to walk along the canal.  Well, it turned out to be a leisurely 10-minute walk, slow because there were so many tourists.  You need to cross the Grand Canal on this bridge to the left.

I bought some wine, beer, bread, cheese and salami to tide me over for dinner.  However, lunch ended at 3PM and I was not hungry that night.

So instead, I brought the assortment to the St. Regis and here is my picnic on San Clemente Island:


Even the blue bar pigeon followed me here:


This is what the water shuttle looks like, coming back from Venice.


You can see the 323 foot tall St. Mark's Campanile, which means that the Westin is located a little bit to the right.  It looks almost brand new, but was originally built in 1514, with an earlier version in the 9th century.  Lightnings keep destroying this tower.  Galileo  Gaililei demonstrated his telescope from this Campanile in 1609.

Dinner is another truffle risotto meal, this time with the enhancements I suggested to the sous chef when I saw him a few days ago.  I know they just hate to adjust perfection...but I'll see if any enhancements were honored.

I had one more decision to make.  How do I get back to Marco Polo International Airport from the St Regis?  It cost me $250 for them to pick me up.  It was worth it, but I asked them to reserve something called a water taxi that will pick me up here and drop me off at the dock near the Marco Polo International Airport, for $125.  It will still be a half mile, but smooth, walk to reach the terminal.

Next Frankfurt.  Then on to Budapest and my two-week Tauck river cruise to Amsterdam.

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Wow, Hurricane Olaf just east and south of Hawaii is up to 130 MPH, but all projections, except one, shows a movement north, then east:


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