Sunday, May 11, 2008

Through The Suez Canal Tomorrow On My Cruise

Written on M.S. Prinsendam Approaching Suez Canal--

So far, my cruise from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., across the Atlantic, and then around Africa, has gone more than 18,000 miles, and now one of the climactic moments will come tomorrow, the passage in convoy through the Suez Canal.

At the moment, we are in the Gulf of Suez about 50 miles below the anchorage at which convoys through the canal are formed. What happens is that the northbound convoy enters the canal about 6 a.m., proceeds to a holding spot near Ismailia, lets the southbound convoy pass, and then proceeds to the Mediterranean Sea, reaching it about 5 p.m.

In the convoys, according to our captain, any warships go first, then passenger ships and cruise ships and finally freighters.

It's highly evident we are in the Middle East. Earlier this morning we passed the offshore oil wells developed by both the Israelis, during their Sinai occupation (1967-73), and Egyptians just off the Sinai peninsula. Then, the first big sight tomorrow is supposed to be all the Egyptian tanks and other military equipment destroyed by the Israeli army in three wars. You can be assured I'll be out on deck to see this.

My trip is also reaching a significant personal milestone. Egypt was my 99th country yesterday, and Malta, next Friday, will be my 100th. Naturally, I'm happy about this, and will take a few friends from the ship to a gala luncheon on Malta, renowned for its gallant resistance to the Axis powers in World War II.

--

Now Rupert Murdoch has dropped his bid to buy Newsday, and the New York Times this morning says that Cablevision might have the inside track to the purchase from the faltering Tribune Co.

But, alas, it is not faltering enough to divest itself of the L.A. Times to someone who would run it with more ambition and more competence.

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Sen. Barack Obama's chances against Sen. John McCain have, in my view, been underestimated. I notice he is ahead of McCain in a poll out this morning, 46% to 40% -- and that's even before Hillary throws her support to him.

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