We are free, in the approved ways, to do approved things.
Going It Alone: The following 14 major US retailers have chosen not to join a world-wide consortium of retail chains that have agreed to a five-year commitment (at $500,000 a year each) to improve the safety and working conditions in Bangladesh garment factories: American Eagle, Carter's, Cato Fashions, The Children's Place, Foot Locker, Gap, JCPenny, Kohl's, Macy's, Nordstrom, Sears/Kmart, Target, VFCorp., and Walmart. Each of whom maintains that they can accomplish more by themselves. For less, of course.
Jokers & Thieves: Afghanistan's leaders, they of the weekly bags of cash, refuse to protect the rights of women and girls because under Islamic practice, they haven't any. In terms of women's rights, 'Islamic principles' is an oxymoron. Isn't time we found some way out of here?
Tied For Last: Syria is hopeless. It's ruled by a cruel and despicable bunch which is embroiled in a baffling uncivil war with several other despicable bunches, with little hope of a workable or understandable solution short of slaughter. The regime has turned to 'Vice & Virtue' police and is accepting militants trained by Hezbollah into its ranks, while the EU (most likely at US urging) is lifting its sanctions on Syrian oil – as long as it is the (or some part of the) rebels shipping the stuff, while the government hires al-Qaida thugs to keep their oil wells pumping and the Kurds are struggling to protect their interests (which may or may not coincide with the Turks') and Iraq posts tanks to protect other oil wells. Confused yet? Are you sure we can't just wall them off and walk away?
Tribal Areas: In Chicago, where teachers, parents and students are marching in the streets to protest the massive school closures ordered by the mayor, a judge has ruled that some schools cannot be closed because to do so would force children to “cross gang lines and endanger their lives.”
Bread & Butter: As usual, we return refreshed from Schaghticoke's Witengamot Farm, despite United's attempts to waylay the unwary traveler – on four scheduled flights they managed to be late six times and cancel once. United’s personnel were admirable in their attempts to keep me in fair humor. Changing planes at Newark is about as much fun as spending two hours of wandering aimlessly in your local Walmart waiting for a script to be ready. Food and service at El Loco in Albany and Bocca Bistro in Saratoga were excellent, as was the food, but not the service, at Amigos in Schylerville. The Tasty Owl in Saratoga was a nice find, as was the young lady there who sold us an ersatz but excellent port. Troy's Farmer's Market on a Saturday is a thriving place; go for the food, both prepared and the stuff you take home to prepare. As always, it is nice to be home and back online, although a week without wasn't nearly as painful as expected.
The Parting Shot:
Washington Park, Albany, NY