Author Archive
RIP Robin Williams

RIP Robin Williams

Yesterday, the world lost one of its great talents. Robin Williams was found dead in his home Monday from an apparent suicide. The sadness of his loss is matched only by the joy he brought the world over his life.

While early obituaries I've read have lauded his acting triumphs (i.e., Good Will Hunting, Dead Poet's Society), equally important to my childhood were Robin Williams' less acclaimed works, from Jumanji (50 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) to Hook (31 percent) to Flubber (23 percent). Few actors have achieved such generational impact, making his death all the more painful.

Don’t Underestimate Vladimir Putin

Don’t Underestimate Vladimir Putin

Speaking at West Point on Wednesday, President Obama touted his administration’s response to Russia’s recent belligerence in Ukraine. “Our ability to shape world opinion helped isolate Russia right away,” he said. The public outcry and the pressure exerted by international institutions, he added, have served as an effective “counterweight” to “Russian propaganda and Russian troops on the border and armed militias in ski masks.” In spite of the crisis Ukraine has gone on to hold elections—“without us firing a shot.”

Unfortunately, Obama is mistaken. The momentum is still on Russia’s side. It has forcibly seized and annexed the strategically valuable peninsula of Crimea. It has succeeded in destabilizing eastern Ukraine through a proxy war­—secretively supporting ethnic Russian rebellions against the Ukrainian government there. It is quite possible Ukraine will end up losing more of its territory.

Power Play

Power Play

Russia's actions in Ukraine show that for Vladimir Putin, the Cold War never ended. Now the US and its allies must prepare for another lengthy power struggle. But no international coalition can be effective while Russian energy reserves supply a quarter of Europe's natural gas. A long-term US energy strategy is the best way to counter Russian power.

Playing the Streets

Playing the Streets

Big John plays chess for a three-dollar donation. C bets customers five bucks they can’t beat him. John plays days. C works the chessboard until 5 a.m. John has a family, an apartment, a job. C hustles to survive. These are New York’s street players.