Posts Tagged ‘refugee crisis’

Letter From New York 09 25 15 Chasing a perfect sunset…

September 25, 2015

Xi Jinping. Syria. Refugee crises. Pope Francis. Stampede at the Haj. Jeremy Corbin. Greece. John Boehner. And so on…

The world continues to rattle along, mostly badly if you read the headlines. I haven’t for a couple of days, while whiling away my time here in Provincetown. At this moment, I am sitting in the kitchen of my friends Dawn and Gail’s incredible home, sipping coffee and thinking how lucky I am to be alive and in this place today.

It’s the weekend of the Tennessee Williams Theater Festival in Provincetown. Dawn and I went to “The Parade” yesterday, a little known Williams’ play, featuring his emotional hallmarks. Everyone in the play is slightly or greatly tortured. Set on sand dunes, it was performed on a platform on real sand dunes, as the tide was slowly rising. I was facing west, the sun slowly descending in the pallid blue afternoon sky.

It was a near perfect experience. Sitting with a friend, watching performers, outside, with a light wind blowing off the sea.

Later we chased the most beautiful sunset and I stood at water’s edge to take a photo.

Sunset

Before setting off to retrieve our tickets and to attend the play, we watched Pope Francis speak to Congress. Speaking in halting English, sometimes a little hard to understand, Francis called out to all our better angels. At one moment, I felt tears form in my eyes. As they seem to be doing with John Boehner, Speaker of the House.

Just now, I received a flash alert from AP on my phone that he is stepping down at the end of October and not just as Speaker but also from the House itself.

While I slept the night before last over 700 people died in a stampede at the Haj, the holy journey every Muslim is extolled to take once in their lives. Nearly a thousand were injured. If I were Muslim, I am not sure I could be extolled to make the Haj. I don’t like big crowds. I don’t mean to be flip; this is a tragedy and I have said a prayer for those dead and injured.

Tsipras of Greece is pledging to enact the necessary reforms for Greece’s bailout quickly. He needs to move quickly on several fronts. Greece is the center of the refugee/migrant crisis as well as having huge financial issues.

As Pope Francis left Washington for New York, President Xi Jinping of China arrived. Obama is having a busy week with international leaders. It’s being said that China and America are going to strive for cooperation, especially over cyber affairs, after a period of tension over that and several other things.

Russia is settling into being a player in Syria and seems to be working on beefing up its communications with Iran on how to deal with that country.

Jeremy Corbin is the new head of Britain’s Labour Party. He is a staunch Republican and has an upcoming audience with the Queen. He has not decided whether he will kneel, as is traditional.

At his very moment, I am listening to Francis speak at the United Nations, speaking on the environment. He has given so much hope to so many and I am hoping that his words echo with life long after he is gone.

Letter From The Train 09 15 15 Unsettling times…

September 16, 2015

As I start to write this, I am sitting in the café car [which has no service] on the 7:15 train out of New York Penn to Hudson. For the rest of the week, I’ll be upstate. On Thursday, I am driving down to Connecticut to visit with a friend/business colleague.

This morning, I had a lovely breakfast with my friend David McKillop, who had been EVP/GM of A+E. He has since left and they have set him up in a production deal. He splits his time between California and New York and this week he was in New York.

My admiration of David is tremendous. He has an interesting view on what is going on in media and we have great conversations about what’s going on. It’s always an intellectually stimulating conversation and he turned me on to some podcasts I will listen to as I am on my way to Connecticut.

It’s been an interesting few days. I have been a little out of sorts and I’m not sure why. Nothing bad is going on. I just feel a little cranky after many days of feeling quite wonderful. I’m hoping a few days upstate will restore my equanimity.

There is restlessness in the world. Europe is in the midst of an enormous refugee crisis. Even Germany, with its opening arms, has regulated its borders to try to maintain some order. Hungary has raised fences and barbed wire. The flood of people is overwhelming a system that is used to open borders. Their needs are tremendous. And the resources to address those needs are not tremendous.

Putin is placing tanks and troops in Syria to bolster up the Assad regime. They are placing tanks at the perimeters of an airport in Latakia. It looks like they are setting up a base there.

Syria grows more complicated by the moment. Half its population are refugees. These are not necessarily poor and uneducated people. They are often the middle classes that no longer feel safe. I listened to a report the other day on NPR; the Syrian refugee interviewed was a successful businessman. He had two homes but no longer felt it was safe for his daughter. They were fleeing so she might have a life that was not marred by barrel bombs.

It is an extraordinary situation; it has not been seen since the end of World War II.

In Egypt, the military killed eight Mexican tourists, mistaking them for a caravan of terrorists. They were on the way to camp in the western desert. There are, of course, conflicting reports on why this happened. President al-Sisi of Egypt has apologized. Another reason not to go see the pyramids this year.

Australia’s Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has been toppled by his own party. The liberals in Australia, including my friend Lionel’s brother, are ecstatic.

There is a new Labour head in the UK who is very left leaning. He is not off to a good start. He seems to be alienating his own party and set some veterans off because he kept a “respectful silence” during the singing of “God Save the Queen.” He is a republican.

But they’re not rid of Queen Elizabeth II yet. He has also put in place a shadow government of a mostly boy’s club and that has been met with derision.

It’s dark now. I can no longer see the Hudson River; it is lost in the darkness. Lights gleam on the west side of the river. I’m tired and will wrap up now.

Letter From New York 06 18 15 From Waterloo to refugees to Laudato si…

June 18, 2015

Sitting at the dining room table at my cottage, I am looking out toward the creek, seeing a grey and moody day outside. It is almost chill and I’m wearing a fleece jacket to ward off the cool. I am in a slightly cranky mood from both the grey and that I am being told I must have flood insurance by the company which just bought my mortgage from the last owners of it who had bought it from someone else. In the fourteen and a half years I have been here, I have never had to have flood insurance before.

Part of me shrugs and goes: just one more thing to deal with and I will. My neighbors to the south of me have had some flooding issues but I am much, much higher than they are. We’ll see. But while I fight it, I guess I am going to have to get it and figure it out from there.

In the meantime, the British Royals have had a busy week. First there was the 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta and then it’s been Ascot this week and then today we have the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo in which Wellington defeated Napoleon once and for all. It was a ghastly, bloody battle in which a full quarter of the combatants were killed.

Many wrote accounts of the battle after it was over. The victors hardly felt jubilant in the wake of the destruction. But it did change history. Since then, the British and French have been allies, not enemies and have not fought each other. Napoleon was ushered into exile and his dreams of European hegemony faded. It ushered in the British Century and the great days of the British Empire.

Today there was a service at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London to mark the Anniversary, attended by Prime Minister David Cameron and the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.

In South Carolina, there is mourning for nine individuals killed at a historic black church in Charleston by a young white man. The suspect, Dylann Roof, has been apprehended in Shelby, North Carolina. It is being labeled a hate crime. It is alleged that Roof entered the church during its Wednesday night Bible Study, stayed for an hour and then began shooting.

Obama expressed sadness and outrage and called for a national reckoning on guns, not that I think that will happen. One of the people killed was the Pastor; Obama knew him.

Laudato Si, Praise be to You, the Pope’s Encyclical, a letter of teaching, was published today and challenged the world to clean up its filth. Controversial even before its official release due to a leak, it is stirring up conversation about man’s relationship with the planet. Conservatives are not happy about it and some have been basically telling the Pope to mind his own business. But he considers this his business and he is going to have his word heard. Addressed not just to Catholics but also to every living human on the planet, Francis took a bold step that will probably only make him more popular to most while infuriating those who disagree with the stances he has taken.

It is the beginning of the Holy Month of Ramadan, a time of fasting, praying and spiritual rejuvenation for Muslims.   It moves with the lunar calendar.

Today there are more displaced people than ever in the world, over sixty million. Over 11 million are from Syria alone, some outside the country and some within the country. If all of them were in the same country together, it would be the 24th largest country in the world.

Lester Holt is now the permanent anchor of the Nightly News on NBC, the first African American to hold such a post. Brian Williams is not coming back to the chair he vacated when suspended in February, at least not for a while. He is going to ratings challenged MSNBC to deliver breaking news. It’s a lot like being tossed out of the Major Leagues in baseball and sent back down to the Minors.

And, apparently, he is getting a lot less money.

Outside, it is still grey, moody and gloomy. I am playing jazz on Pandora to lighten my mood. Soon, my friend Susan will be here and we’re going to Local 111 over in Philmont for dinner and a catch-up.