Beware all of those women who choose to fly in comfort…
“What is happening today is the writing of a history written by every Syrian citizen.”
Surely things have gone too far…
The Kanye saga keeps getting weirder and weirder…
A duffel bag containing weapons and drugs was allegedly thrown from Brown’s house.
“For their own safety, women foreign tourists should not wear short dresses and skirts.”
“I saw bodies flying like bowling pins along its route.”
Right now, Australia doesn’t know who will be Prime Minister.
The World Health Organization’s declaration will trigger funding for research.
“His words are not comical, his words are not funny. His words are poisonous.”
A lot happened in 2014. The world lost some amazing talent, Aussies got a royal visit and experienced terrorism first hand. Plus, the world readied itself for the spread of Ebola and flying via Malaysia Airlines became a risk many wanted to avoid. We spare a few moments on this final day of the year to take a look back at some of the big events which got our attention during 2014.
The Ukraine and Crimean Crisis
Political events in Ukraine and Russia seemed to dominate global news from late 2013 and continued for most of 2014. Crimea announced its independence from Ukraine on March 17 and over 300 000 Ukraine protesters gathered in Kiev’s Independence Square, against the decision. The authorised slaughter of over 100 protesters saw the fall of Ukraine’s President, who fled the country to avoid criminal charges. The residents of Ukraine elected themselves a new President with the hope of stopping the civil and political unrest, however tension in the region remains.
In February, the spread of Ebola – which began in West Africa – startled health officials as they scrambled to contain the outbreak. Fearing the next AIDS epidemic, the World Health Organization implemented treatment protocols as health care workers began contracting the deadly virus. Thankfully Ebola hasn’t progressed to be the global epidemic, many health officials had feared.
The trial of Oscar Pistorius
The world watched on as the Oscar Pistorious trial began is South Africa on March 3rd. Accused of killing his lover, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14 2013, the trial took many months, concluding with a guilty verdict of culpable homicide. Sentenced to five years imprisonment, the former Paralympian is said to be appealing his sentence.
The mystery of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 began on March 8, when the plane disappeared with 227 passengers and 12 crew members on board. A massive search and rescue operation was performed, but failed when the plane and its occupants literally vanished from the sky.
The Australian Royal Visit
In April, Aussies got a glimpse of William, Kate and little Prince George. For die-hard Royalists, it was an opportunity too good to miss. There was a little controversy about the royal trio skipping Melbourne on their travels, but all in all the royal visit was reasonably well received.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over the Russian/Ukraine border on July 17, on route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. All 283 passengers and 15 on board lost their lives. Officials are currently investigating and the report is due to be released in August 2015.
The death of Robin Williams
The world was stunned by the sudden death of Robin Williams on August 11. Most of us had a tear to shed and fondly remembered the talented actor/comedian. His much loved characters were forever immortalised in history by his passing and quotes like “Captain, my Captain”, “Good Morning Vietnam” and of course “nanoo nanoo” reigned across social media.
Terror in Sydney
On December 16, Australians experienced a first-hand account of terrorism. A lone gunman stormed a local Sydney coffee shop in Martin Place, holding hostages and the city captive. Aussies across the nation watched breaking news in disbelief as events unfolded. The following day, the resilience of Australian residents was revealed to the world. Millions of flowers were laid in honour of the two victims who tragically lost their lives and displayed sheer determination as they reclaimed their beloved city.
Image via downloadwindows8themes.com/
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
“I’m not racist, I just hate Chinese people – oh and all the Muslims, of course.”
A heinous outlook, isn’t it? I’m not kidding – someone recently said this appallingly racist, stupid and ignorant statement to my face.
And in the wake of Monday’s 16-hour Sydney siege – which saw three people die, including two innocent hostages and the gunman at the centre of the siege at the Lindt Chocolate Café, Martin Place, in Sydney’s CBD – let’s look at Australia’s dark, ugly underbelly of racism, which has once again surged to the fore of public consciousness.
The siege, when ended in tragedy in the early hours of last Tuesday morning, has caused an outpouring of public grief and inevitable finger-pointing and conflicting opinion.
On the positive, the site of the siege has now become an ever-expanding sea of beautiful floral tributes as far as the eye can see. And the widely supported #illridewithyou hashtag, in support of peace-loving Muslims now scared of public retaliatory attacks and abuse on public transport, reflected great solidarity in the face of terror and mad extremism.
But nothing can bring back the dead – the innocent victims of the bloody siege – café manager Tori Johnson, 34, and barrister and mother of three Katrina Dawson, 38.
Their loved ones must be experiencing unimaginable grief and our hearts go out to them. And some of the 17 hostages held during the siege have returned to the scene of their terrifying ordeal to leave tributes. But their lives will never be the same – it will take great courage and strength to put this torment behind them.
But at a time for the nation’s sorrow, reflection and unity – and respect for the siege victims and their families – those who peddle racial vilification found a new hate target.
“All muslims are evil!” ranted some. And: “Refugees should go back to where they came from!” And the old racist’s standby: “You’re type aren’t welcome in our country!”
Police have also reported an increase in anti-Muslim sentiment and racial attacks since the siege. I like to think and hope that the majority of Australians will not tolerate such senseless, rampant racism peddled by the stupid, uneducated, prejudiced and uninformed.
Let’s all rise up to defend fellow peace-loving citizens in our community, no matter what their culture, race, religion or creed.
For the terrible atrocities committed by a mad, evil and lone Muslim gunman with a violent past is no excuse to let senseless and vile hatred infiltrate our lives. Many many peace-loving and law-abiding moderate Muslims live among us and have condemned the Sydney siege.
And sure, standing up to racist bullies isn’t easy – especially if it’s someone you know, as in my case – but we owe it to ourselves and our children to do what’s right.
Let’s hope the inherent good in most people triumphs over illogical, blind, bitter and baseless racial vilification.
For racism has no place in multicultural, modern Australia. I won’t stand for it. Will you?
What do you think?
COS (Collection of Style) will open their first Australian store on Friday 28th November in Melbourne. The much-loved international label is renowned for it’s essentials which include both an extensive mens and women’s collection.
The first store in the Southern Hemisphere will follow in the COS design aesthetic, and bring modern sophistication to Australian’s all year round. Similarly, the store will follow with a minimalist approach; the exterior will use glass and steel, and create a welcoming environment to customers once it opens.
Marie Honda, COS Managing Director says of the expected opening;
“Opening our first store in Australia and the first in the Southern Hemisphere is an exciting step for the brand and we hope that people will enjoy exploring and experiencing the brand”.
Where: The Strand Melbourne
Elizabeth Street and Little Bourke Street
Time: Friday 28th November, 12pm
Share with us some of your purchases by commenting below!
American Apparel mannequins in New York have been stopping passers-by in their tracks thanks to their more ‘natural’ appearance.
Yep, the mannequins are sporting pubic hair. And it’s been a few weeks since Ms. Mannequin has had a waxing appointment too.
The mannequins in American Apparel’s Valentine’s Day-themed windows in their Lower East Side store are showing off something we haven’t seen on mannequins before – generous 1970’s-style pubic hair under their sheer white lingerie.
“American Apparel is a company that celebrates natural beauty, and the Lower East Side Valentine’s Day window continues that celebration,” the company said in a statement to Elle.com.
“We created it to invite passerbys to explore the idea of what is ‘sexy’ and consider their comfort with the natural female form.
“So far we have received positive feedback from those that have commented and we’re looking forward to hearing more points of view.”
Publicity stunt, sure, but is it cool or confronting? What do you think of the American Apparel mannequins?
Squats in exchange for free public transport – sound like a good thing?
That’s the idea that’s been implemented in Moscow to promote the upcoming 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Passengers who do 30 squats will get a free train ticket.
Train stations in the Russian capital have installed new machines which track your squats and dispense a train ticket once your 30 are done.
And it’s not just those lazy squats most of us try and get away with – the machines make sure you do proper, butt-burning squats. You’ll be sure to feel it on your commute home, that’s for sure.
So a free train ticket and a tight butt without stepping foot into the gym – we think that’s a pretty good deal!
As an Australian, it would be fair to say Americans hardly think of us at all. We are quick to call them culturally insular for this oversight, but consider the fact they have 320 million people of their own to consider. We see them through the kaleidoscope of American TV, and they do much the same thing with us. Steve Irwin is largely responsible for the perception of Australia as a land filled with poisonous animals. There is some residual fear they’ll be met at Arrivals by a gigantic spider and stabbed through the heart. Most people have seen the Australian version of Kath and Kim and they like our accent. They’ve heard of Tim Minchin and they’ve listened to ACDC. They say we never stop complaining about how expensive video games are in Australia and they admire our liberal use of the c-word. Then they usually say the c-word aloud. They say it just the once because they’ve always wanted to try it out. I usually nod and don’t bother explaining we’re not that liberal with it.
They say they would like to visit but don’t expect they ever will. And this is where the conversation gets wistful.
They ask about healthcare… ‘Is it true you have socialised medicine over there?’ They ask about long waiting lists and people dying of cancer, unable to access oncology doctors in time. No, I tell them, if it is urgent enough treatment will begin right away. That’s when they sit back in their chairs and start blinking. The TV show, Breaking Bad, ran for five seasons in the US as Walt raised the money to pay his medical bills by cooking meth. I like to tell Americans if they made the show in Australia it would go something like, ‘You have lung cancer.’ ‘Well, I’d better get chemo.’ End of season. Walt could have received subsidised chemo from a less reputable doctor his health insurer covered, but his wife wanted the best. There would still be deductibles and leave without pay, putting them in the red.
Healthcare is expensive for the self-employed, but often covered by an employer in the US. They take poorly paid jobs, ‘with great benefits.’ The major benefit is their medical bills will be covered by the employer. If they need to see a specialist, they’ll be assigned only those doctor covered by their insurer. If they want an expensive procedure like an MRI, the doctor will weigh a patient’s request against how much money it will cost their practice, should the health insurer not cover it. The patient will seek a second and third opinion, because they know treatments get denied because of the expense. The doctor bills the health insurance company at inflated rates to cover their own personal liability costs, in case they get sued for malpractice. Everybody is doing advanced math. When I call a doctor in the US, I haggle with the receptionist. “How much will he do a blood test for…What if I pay cash?” Usually, I do it on-line and pay a doctor I’ve never met in Texas for the referral.
The next line of enquiry is about college. If you have watched American TV, ‘saving for college’ is a plot device that comes up a lot. According to a Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 2012, the average US student graduates with $24,000 of debt. That is a four-year bachelor’s degree, a Master’s program can run it into six figures. Over 40% of people paying back loans are between 30 and 50 years of age. 17% are over 60.
The debt is a mix of government and private loans and here is where it gets ugly: the interest rate varies between 3.8 to 10 percent on these loans. These loans cannot be defaulted on, even with bankruptcy. Americans watched on television as houses slid into the canals of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and I heard one woman say, “And you know, they are still going to have to pay back their student loans.” If you are injured and receiving a government disability cheque, they will garnish this income. If you default on your student loan and your future employer runs a credit check, you might not get the job with a poor credit history.
But the taxes are low. The food and petrol is cheap. It has to be. It is the most wonderful place to visit for the diversity and the natural beauty and their courage, which looks a lot like cheerfulness. I admire the cheerfulness of the old man packing my grocery bags with his gnarled hands. It’s not what he expected to be doing at his age, but cheerfulness is the enemy of entitlement. It says, I’m getting on with it.
So they see us funny and laid-back. Our humour is blunt and we take the piss, which sometimes confuses them. Making fun of an American is a bit like teasing the girl with an anxiety disorder. She looks bewildered at first and then her feelings get hurt. And they see Australia as a place they wouldn’t mind living but can’t afford to visit and they hope to get here someday and know they probably won’t.
Vivienne Walshe is an Australian playwright and screenwriter. Her plays have been highly awarded and published by Currency Press. As an actress she appeared on The Secret Life of Us and many other television shows and performed in plays at the Melbourne Theatre company, Sydney Theatre company and Queensland Theatre company.