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Two Winter Tales

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Nobody is talking about it, at least on commercial TV, but when an entire state is without gas or electricity for days on end--and the government's response is matched by the relative slowness of the Red Cross--we should be taking very serious notice.

CNN is usually right there when it comes to interviewing victims, even minor ones.  But it's been mum on the plight of Kentuckians.  Surely many will have died in this freezing weather.  No doubt the powers that be are not eager for the rest of us to realize how very fragile our comforts are.   After a few days, the governor of Kentucky brought in the three or four thousand National Guard he had, and we learned that they were going door to door to identify needs (sound familiar?).  A drop in the bucket.  While Congress debates whether to put money into alternative sources of energy as if this were just one more humdrum issue, imagine what it will be like when three--or ten--states suffer prolonged power outages in sub-freezing temperatures.

Meanwhile, yesterday marked a first on national television: the foreign or prime ministers of a dozen countries attending the annual financial conference at Davos interacted on camera. Fareed Zacharia interviewed them with his usual intelligence and subtlety, but--the result of professional competition?--Christiane Amanpour gathered them for a free-for-all.  Of course, French Prime Minister Bernard Kouchner had to assert France's "exceptionalism" by attacking all comers, and remarking at the end that he had deigned to speak English "even though we are in a French-speaking country." 

My list may not be quite accurate, but I cannot verify it because this morning the program has disappeared from CNN.com. There were Kenya's Odinga, Iraq's Foreign Minister, Iran's Foreign Minister,  South Korea's Foreign Minister, the President of Mexico and the head of the IAEA, Nobel Prize winner Mohammed El Baradei.  Among other things they discussed Iran's nuclear program, and Amanpour repeatedly asked the Iranian Prime Minister if his country would provide the documents spelled out then and there by El Baradei.  Live diplomacy!  What a treat!  Our president should follow suit.

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Born in Phila, I spent most of my adolescent and adult years in Europe, resulting over time in several unique books, my latest being Russia's Americans.

CUBA: Diary of a Revolution, Inside the Cuban Revolution with Fidel, Raul, Che, and Celia Sanchez

Lunch with Fellini, Dinner with Fidel: An Illustrated Personal Journey from the Cold War to the Arab Spring


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