Posts Tagged ‘Tony Abbott’

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 12 15 14 Terrorists or madmen…

December 15, 2014

Last night, my friends Lionel and Pierre came over for dinner – asparagus soup, mashed sweet potatoes, baked squash and a sirloin fresh from the farmer’s market. We were just into the soup course when his phone made a noise; a news alert was coming in.

The alert was that hostages had been taken in Sydney, a drama that would be played out into the morning today. Lionel is from Sydney originally and he excused himself to phone his family to make sure none were involved. All were accounted for and far from the scene.

I arrived in New York this morning and went into the Acela Club at Penn Station as I had a bit of time before I was to meet my friend Mary Dickey for lunch. My arrival at the Acela Club coincided with the moment that the Sydney police stormed the café and I watched events unfold, live and in real time.

It seemed a bit surreal, to be seated in the Acela Club, sipping a coffee, while half a world away this drama was being acted out, in a city I once knew fairly well and which I loved.

Little was known at the time and much is yet to be revealed, even though the crisis is over. There are two dead plus the gunman, an individual who identified himself as a Muslim cleric. He had some of the hostages hold up what appeared to be a black and white Islamic flag in the windows of the Lindt Chocolate Café, an unlikely seeming place for a hostage crisis.

Turns out he was quite the fellow, this Man Haron Monis. He had served community service time for pleading guilty to sending threatening letters to the families of dead Australian soldiers, calling the deceased “child killers.” He called himself a spiritual healer and had allegedly sexually abused some of those he was supposed to be healing and it seems that he was being linked to the murder of an ex-wife. He apparently had no religious training.

A website by Monis or his supporters claim that all the allegations were trumped up.

Some believe he was committing suicide by police, a thing not unheard of. He certainly seemed to have gotten the attention he wanted. From what I can gather, it’s believed in Sydney that he wasn’t really a terrorist but a deranged man.

Whatever the truth, two innocent people are dead.

In a gesture that was affecting, citizens of Sydney began a twitter campaign to combat a potential Muslim backlash. #illridewithyou was the campaign’s hashtag, offering to ride with Muslims needing to get around Sydney on public transportation. It has since gone viral. It seems very Australian.

My eyes watered up when I read the story.

Australia is an “open and generous” country said Prime Minister Tony Abbott and that is how it has struck me and it has struck me as a place removed from the violence of our terror stained world. But it is not. No place is safe from terrorists or madmen, whatever Man Haron Monis turns out to be.

In Pennsylvania, as I write this, a manhunt is ongoing for an individual who apparently killed six members of his family in a domestic dispute. That was happening as I was sitting in the café above the Fairview Market on Broadway, having a delightful lunch, chatting with Mary about the fallout from the Sony hacking scandal.

It is on days like this that I treasure the peace of the countryside and am grateful for the respite it provides from the terrors of the world in which we live, counterbalanced by the incredible human generosity of those who took the #Illridewithyou viral.