About: the world this week, 1 August to 7 August 2021, a Governor’s fight for his reputation, blazing fires, and fabulous stories from the Olympics.
With the Olympic Games now showing in Tokyo, Japan, drawing to a close on 8 August 2021, it was sporting news that galloped through the week, overwhelming and submerging most other events in the World.
In New York, USA, Governor Andrew Cuomo could not lift the weights on sexual harassment, misconduct, and toxic environment creation allegations – of touching, groping, kissing, and hugging women without their consent – against him. The charges were laid on the table by New York’s Attorney General (AG) – on concluding an investigation in to the allegations. The AG said the Governor had violated State and Federal Laws.
In response, Cuomo denied doing anything out of the ordinary – whatever he did, was part of the job of being in public life, which has been misconstrued, and vowed to stay on in office. Occupational hazard?
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden and the political class, added more weight, lit the fires to turn the heat on, and called for his resignation.
The great fall comes after Andrew Cuomo’s popularity reached dizzying heights in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, as millions of Americans tuned in to his daily no-nonsense TV briefings, when New York was the epicentre of the virus spread. I too, from faraway India, religiously watched his daily sermons, to learn about the pandemic and enjoyed the camaraderie that he brought to such talk, with stories of his daughters, one of his daughter’s boyfriend, and the family dog. I trusted his words more than the India’s honchos – who hardly dished out anything at all in the early days – and I believed Andrew Cuomo led by example.
I particularly admired Cuomo’s Secretary, Melissa DeRosa, who was seemingly always by his side, working her smartphone, shuffling paperwork, and offering responses to any questions passed to her by her boss. She brought a brilliant, unruffled diligence to the job and I confess I sometimes used to watch the briefings more for Melissa than Andrew Cuomo. Like her boss, DeRosa’s developed a national reputation as an avatar of competence and calm and steered the Governor’s ship awfully well, over troubled waters.
Before the sexual harassment allegations climbed-up the headlines (and down their backs), the dream team of the Governor and his Secretary were whiplashed on allegations of tampering with the data on COVID-19 cases in private hospitals. These were about under-counting COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents in New York State.
Melissa has not been affected by the sexual harassment allegations on her boss and has stood steadfastly by his side, defending him.
A skimpy brief on Andrew Cuomo: He has previously served as Attorney General of New York State and is a two-time Governor of the State. He married Kerry Kennedy, one of the seven daughters of Robert F Kennedy, and has three daughters with her. The couple first separated and then divorced in 2005. Cuomo’s brother, Chris Cuomo, is a CNN News Anchor.
Now, I am devastated that such a solid public life person could do so much harm and am left clueless on what to believe. But I still cling on to the good in Andrew Cuomo…and the brilliance of Melissa DeRosa.
Israel Strikes Again
Lebanon has multiple problems of its own making, and despite that dared to launch rockets into Israel this week. And in a first, after seven years, the Israeli Air Force carried out retaliatory air strikes on its neighbour following a second of rocket fire from across the border. Lebanon’s militant group, Hezbollah, claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks and said it fired the rockets into ‘open areas’ of Israel. There were no casualties on both sides, but this is provocation enough to trigger ‘open’ retaliation, isn’t it?
Why do they keep doing this? This is such a fragile region that even the snap sound of a gun is enough to invite return fire!
After stories of getting wet in the rain, swept away by floods, and carried away by landslides, it’s the turn of getting dry by fire – wildfires, turning into towering infernos.
Most than 100 blazes have erupted in the Southern parts of Turkey over the week, many of which have been watered down. The blazing fires in Manavgat, Marmaris and the inland town of Milas, prompted the evacuation of some residential areas and hotels.
Wildfires in forest in Turkey are common in summer in the Mediterranean and Aegean regions, but May 2021 was the hottest May for over 50 years and followed a drought in Turkey. There were earlier fires in Kas, Tarsus and Marmaris on 26 and 27 June, and the maximum temperature for 60 years occurred in Cizre at over 49 degrees Centigrade,
You just need to look beyond the tip of your nose to find the reason: climate change, of course. These fires follow other extreme weather conditions recently reported around the world.
The Tokyo Olympics 2020
Once upon a time, the only gold medal guaranteed for India in the Olympic Games was the Men’s Hockey Event, winning as much as eight gold medals, over the years. That was when the game was played on natural grass and stick-work mattered the most. Then astro-turf was invented, the game became faster, India could not keep pace with the change and ended up losing to smarter countries, especially Australia and Germany. This Olympics, India finally got the closest to winning gold, reaching the semi-finals and going down to Belgium. However, they got their sticks together to beat Germany 5-4, and to win the bronze medal. This is the first medal win for the Indian Hockey Team after a 41 year Olympic medal drought. Well done India.
Indian Women are known to bring Home the gold – a great Indian Family tradition – and true to nature they almost did it but ending up losing in the semi-finals to Argentina. And then the fight for the Bronze, to Britain. Whatever, the fact that they made it this far is testimony to their new-found capabilities, and are a bellwether of better outcomes in the future. Leave alone the gold medal, the women won our hearts – that’s real gold!
Wondering how India’s hockey fortunes are suddenly looking bright again? Behind the success lies the ravishing support of the Odisha State Government, who has since 2018 sponsored both the men’s and women’s national hockey teams, stepping in as sponsor when business group Sahara withdrew. Naveen Patnaik, 74, who has been the Chief Minister of Odisha for the past 21 years, without a break, is the invisible force keeping the goal – He was a hockey goalie during his school days!
This is truly a ‘high jump’ in sportsmanship. Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim, 30, and and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi, 29, both cleared the highest bar of 2.37 meters (m), but when it came to deciding a winner, the two Olympic high jumpers opted not to take it to a tie-breaker. Instead, they asked to share the gold medal, prompting cheers beyond their home countries of Qatar and Italy.
After both jumpers cleared the highest bar, they attempted to match the Olympic record of 2.39 meters for sole ownership of the title. However, after three attempts, neither succeeded. The two athletes then approached a Games Official. “Can we have two golds?” Barshim asked. The Official nodded in agreement, and the rest is Olympic History.
Australian swimmer Emma McKeon won seven medals in the Tokyo Olympics. And adding to her previous medal stock of four, she now has a total of eleven Olympic medals – five gold, two silver, and four bronze – making her the most successful Australian Olympian at the singles Game events.
Amazing stories of grit, perseverance, and fortitude on display at the Olympics beginning with the determination of Japan to go ahead with the Games. Shows how much we are capable of if we lend a shoulder to ourselves. Never underestimate yourself, we are capable of doing more than we think we can.
More gold, silver, and bronze stories coming up in the weeks ahead.