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Weekly Features
Letter from New York
Mathew Tombers is Managing Director of Intermat, Inc., ( a television company which executive produces programs and consults with industry companies on a variety of issues. Intermat, Inc. is currently involved in approximately thirty hours of television in various stages for a variety of networks. He is one of the Executive Producers of OFF TO WAR, a ten hour series for Discovery Times and for a one hour on international adoptions for Discovery Health. He has consulted a variety of companies, including Ted Turner Documentaries, WETA, Betelgeuse Productions, and Creation Films, Lou Reda Productions as well as many others.

April 14, 2008

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Friday night, the sky was sodden, rain fell and the forecast was unremittingly gloomy; rain, rain and more rain at least until Monday. So it was that when I woke on Saturday to the most beautiful day yet of the year, I was more than pleasantly surprised. My friend Raj was visiting for the weekend and we took our coffee and sat on the deck, sipped it, chatted and watched the Claverack Creek flow clearly by.

It was a pleasant breather in a week when almost all the news was, if not dire, slightly unsettling. G.E., the monolith of America, has seen its profits shrink so everyone, of course, is a bit spooked. It seemed as if everyone was surprised! Why anyone was surprised, surprised me. This has been a dreadful financial season and it's not surprising that the largest corporations are being affected. Get your heads out of the sand. It's tough but it's actually looking like we might weather this storm
and, hopefully, we'll use the pause between storms to make some needed corrections, balance the load and learn a few things from all of this.

It's been a week to make me glad I wasn't out there traveling the air lanes. The FAA was found playing cozy with Southwest Airlines and being just a little, shall we say, lax in its enforcement - something that when revealed damaged the good name of Southwest and caused mistrust of the
institution charged with keeping flying the safest form of travel. In reaction, the FAA clamped down tight and hundreds, maybe thousands of American Airline flights were cancelled while its fleet of MD-80's [a plane I've flown all too often and have never really liked] was checked for faulty wiring.

Airports were not the place to be.

The Pope is coming to town and we've been given a preview of all the papal souvenirs being created for his visit: unremittingly tacky. He will go to Ground Zero [note to self: stay off the streets; I hate throngs]. An acquaintance, aware of my Catholic background, asked me if I was
excited about the Papal visit. My absolute incredulity, reflected in a face that clearly communicated: are you nuts? surprised her. I explained to her I wasn't wanted in the church of my origin and that I was actively searching for a faith community in which I could feel comfortable. She and
several others around us had a spirited conversation about wanting the same thing and I found that very interesting. As we braced for a Papal visit, the Olympic Torch was beginning its long journey to Beijing, a passage that has been and probably will always be a rather rocky tour. The placards of protest regarding Chinese suppression in Tibet have been quite creative; for example, one utilized the Olympic Rings so that they were part of an illustration of tank advancing on a lone civilian [shades of Tiananmen Square]. As I find it doubtful [though I won't say I'm not hopeful] that the Chinese will dial back their response or enter into a dialogue with Dalai Lama, I think we're in for watching the Olympic Torch being carried carefully and mostly within well protected vehicles.

And last but hardly least, General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker were in from Baghdad, appearing before Congress. I listened to some of their testimony, read more of it and could only think: what a mess. There is no new thinking from the Bush White House but more of the same; in stating that General Petraeus had "all the time he needed" our President was letting all
of us know that he was washing his hands of Iraq and letting the fate of the war be decided by his successor, who will find him or herself in a damned tight situation.

It rather makes George W. Bush a contemporary Louis XV, who famously said, "After me, the deluge," and who's son, Louis XVI, famously lost his head because no one wanted to deal with the issues of the day - including a huge war debt, lack of social services for veterans and military