Adonis Diaries

Archive for August 2017

Forcing face-to-face negotiations with extremist factions are bearing fruits

Question: Can you resume fighting, with the same abstract zeal, after you were squarely militarily defeated, surrendered and negotiated for your life and potential freedom?

Facts on the ground are proving that after surrender negotiation you become more reflective on your previous behavior and start a respectful communication with your previous hated enemy.

USA/Israel strategy and purpose is to maintain this abstract hatred within the extremist factions and prevent any face-to-face communication and negotiations. Iran discovered this evil strategy and worked to counter it.

USA/Israel are scared shit of Iran because it demonstrated the determined capacity to sustain long-term strategies against current obstacles and sustained campaign of “denigrement” (heaping on them all kinds of evil behavior)

Iran has infused to Hezbollah of Lebanon, the Syrian army and Russia this patient capacity to sustain long-term strategy consequences against short-term impatient reactions that the world community is pressuring them to behave accordingly.

USA/Israel can plan for the long-term, but their arrogance in the last 3 decades robbed them from the capacity to sustain any long-term planning with any consistency to destabilizing the Middle-East.

The Syrian regime negotiated countless agreements with extremist factions, after they were militarily and economically cornered, to transfer to the province of Edleb (north-west province of Syria bordering Turkey) and secure its internal security and start the reconstruction.

Hezbollah of Lebanon defeated Al Nusra in the eastern mountain chains of Lebanon (Jroud Ersaal) and negotiated with 1,000 fighters, and 7,000 other extremist supporters, to move to Edlib with their families.

The same happened with Daesh on Lebanon borders (Jroud Al Qaa3) and negotiations allowed 300 fighters to transfer with their families to the border city with Iraq of Boukamal.

USA expressed its ire with this negotiation that it bombed the bridge on the way to prevent the convoy to resume its transfer across the eastern desert stretch in the Euphrates.

In all these negotiations, Syria agreed upon them and provided the necessary buses to accomplish the transfer across her territory.

In the Edleb province, those factions that were allowed to transfer are putting the pressure on the “original” Al Nusra faction to ease up on its control and restrictions on the daily life of the people.

Eventually, with sustained period of peace, Al Nusra there will eventually sit down for meaningful political settlement with Syria administration. Regardless of Turkey refusal, but simply because the people got used to a peaceful life and refuse to resume this mindless war.

Additionally, the Syrian army and its allies are barely finding mush stubborn Daesh fighters’ resistance in their advances. Daesh fighters, when receiving order from their leaders in Raqq to resist, prefer to flee to neighboring towns, hoping that their eventual surrender to Syria Army will save their families from extermination.

Iraq, under the influence of USA, refrained to open channels of communications with Daesh (ISIS) and its victories and liberation of towns and cities resulted in countless casualties on both sides.

It is Not realistic to believe that military victories can eradicate the latent extremist abstract ideology.

While Syria and Lebanon managed to open lines of communications with extremist factions and secure the long-term appeasement of these factions, Iraq may still frequently face reactions of terrorist suicide attacks from Daesh for many years to come.

Note: On August 28, 2017, Lebanon celebrated its Second Liberation Day from concentrations of terrorist factions on all its borders. It can boast to be the first State of achieving this result, with enormous engagement of Hezbollah resistance forces and the Syrian army.

The First Liberation Day is on May 24, 2000 when Israel withdrew unilaterally from south Lebanon without any negotiation after 27 years of occupation since 1982. Israel suffered huge casualties by the Lebanese resistance forces



“It is life that chose me”

It is life that made me survive all the hurdles.

And it is events that directed me in what I selected to follow, in so many forks that led me far away.

Far away from the path my parents wished me to take and strove to guide me at every bend of the roads.

Ease up your judgement on your fellow neighbors.

Your neighbor might seem a tad luckier. He could be more unlucky than you.

Both of you had to struggle to survive and grab a few moments of satisfaction and hope”. (Roman Gary)

This asymmetrical globalization process

Globalization and technologies have been modeled by politics, an asymmetrical globalization that weakened the value of work to the benefit of Capital.

The global value of products per year when exchanged is a mere $5 trillions, excluding financial transactions that amount to $5 trillion per day.

Mostly, the previous colonial powers swap their sovereign debts at 3% interest against 8% when lent to developing countries.

The developing countries are pressured to cough up, Not only the interest portion but also part of the principle, of their debts to the colonial powers, lest they pay dearly in political upheavals, military intervention, and economic sanctions.

(For example, Syria that was economically and financially autonomous had to be destabilized. The same goes for Iran)

The colonial powers merely accumulate sovereign debt and never care to repay any part of the principals: The parliaments just vote to raise the budget to cover payments on the interest.

All countries have national debt, and the colonial powers, including Japan and Germany, accumulated trillions of dollars each, and their citizens never hear of this financial situation.

So far, only China has enough surplus money to lent, and mainly because it is producing and exporting at 7% annual growth.

Countries that managed to regulate the flow of speculative capital acquired more stable economies.

The difficulty is “How to regulate and tame the monopoly of the Dollar in the world market of capital“?

States have to rely more on the politics of budget rather than on the monetary policies.

Taking the easy way for controlling monetary fluctuation is not the best remedy for long-term economic stability.

Philanthropic contributions are a pragmatic expression to the notion “taking care of the people around us is good for business”.

Sloppy science

We can measure it.

For decades, every single year, scientists have visited the Galapagos and measured the beaks of a particular species of finch.

And year after year, with each generation, the beaks change, exactly as we’d expect from the weather patterns of the year before. Evolutionary biology works, and rigorous data collection backs it up.

For hundreds of years, though, science has gotten it wrong about gender, race and ethnicity. Eugenics and its brethren sound simple, but often lead to tragic outcomes.

The sloppy scientist says, “on average, across populations, left to its own devices, this group is [not as skilled] [neurotic] [hard to work with] [not as smart] [not as strong] [slower]” etc. They make assumptions without sufficient data, and the rigor is missing.

The first problem is that human beings aren’t averages, they’re individuals. (They can be Medians when subdivided into a dozen of categories?)

And the bigger problem is that we’re never left to our own devices. We are creatures of culture.

The math that we can do on populations of hedgehogs or pigeons doesn’t apply to people, because people build and change and experience culture differently than any other species.

Your DNA is virtually identical to that of the hordes that accompanied Ghengis Khan, as well as most Cro-Magnon cavemen–pass one on the street and you wouldn’t be able to tell that he’s different from you. The reason you don’t act the way they did is completely the result of culture, not genes.

It’s culture that pushes us to level up, to dig deeper, to do things that we might not otherwise do.

It’s culture that finds and encourages and pushes people to become better versions of themselves than anyone else expected to find.

So it was sloppy/lazy/fearful science that said that women couldn’t handle being doctors.

And it was sloppy science that worked to limit the number of Asian, Jewish, Near-Easterns or African students at various institutions.

And it’s sloppy science that’s been used against black people for hundreds of years.

And sloppy science said that a 4 minute mile was impossible and that a woman could never finish a marathon.

Sloppy because it doesn’t include all the relevant factors. (It is almost impossible to interpret results with even 6 factors and their many interrelations and intersections)

There’s nothing wrong with the scientific method, but everything is wrong with using it poorly (and often intentionally).

What we need are caring human beings who will choose to change the culture for the better.

Not all of it, of course. Merely the culture they can touch. The people they can engage with. The human beings they can look in the eye, offer to help, offer encouragement and offer a hand up.

Once we reset the standard, it becomes the new normal, and suddenly, the sloppy science seems like phrenology. Because culture is up to us.

Sloppy science isn’t science at all.

It’s the lazy or wrongheaded use of the scientific method part of the time, mixing in fear for good measure.

Ignoring culture ignores the part that truly matters.

It’s tempting to judge people by their DNA. It makes a lot more sense, though, to see people based on what they can contribute instead.

Why this tradition to wear distinctive signs?

Il y a tout genre d’auteurs, Juifs ou pas, qui enflamment leurs imaginations sur Israel en se basant sur des idees comme:

“La honte d’avoir ete’ epargnee par le malheur”

” De se sentir pauvre et borne’ d’ etre incapable de se lamenter

“Cette terre tourmentee de collines et de plaines seches, de crevasses arides et de mers mortes”

“Cette terre qui n’ avait engendre’ ni luxe ni opulance” (Les Palestininien ont en engendre’, meme dans cette terre aride)

“Cetter terre ou on ne pouvait y survivre que par un sens rugueux du repos qui ne se distingue pas du perpetuel effort, le sens su sacre’…”

Mais ce sont les Palestiniens qui ont survecu sur cette terre sacre’ depuis des millenaires.

Les juifs venus de l’ Orient, de l’ Afrique, des generations qui ont fui L’ Espagne de l’ Inquisition… ressemblent physiquement aux Palestiniens.

Les juifs d’ Israel furent forces de porter la kippa sur leur tete pour se distinguer des Palestiniens, comme ils ont porter le signe jaune sur leur poitrine pour se distinguer des Allemands durant la periode Nazi.

Israel n’ est autre qu’ une autre horde barbare de coloniaux, avec la meme ideology de transfer, de vole et d’ humiliation, d’aparteid de ” la force a toujours raison et absout toutes les indignations”

Note: Jews were desert tribes who barely mingled within cities and never visited the seashore. They inhabited part of Jerusalem for short periods. They never left any artifacts or anything to prove their existence, even during Babylonian or Assyrian periods



For the customers, nothing has changed in the big, busy McDonald’s on Broadway at West 181st Street, in Washington Heights.

Promotions come and go—during the World Cup, the French-fry package was suddenly not red but decorated with soccer-related “street art,” and, if you held your phone up to the box, it would download an Augmented Reality app that let you kick goals with the flick of a finger.

New menu items appear—recently, the Jalapeño Double and the Bacon Clubhouse, or, a while back, the Fruit and Maple Oatmeal. But a McDonald’s is a McDonald’s. This one is open twenty-four hours. It has its regulars, including a panel of older gentlemen who convene at a row of tables near the main door, generally wear guayaberas, and deliberate matters large and small in Spanish.

The restaurant doesn’t suffer as much staff turnover as you might think. Mostly the same employees, mostly women, in black uniforms and gold-trimmed black visors, toil and serve and banter with the customers year after year. The longtime manager, Dominga de Jesus, bustles about, wearing a bright-pink shirt and a worried look, barking at her workers, “La linea! La linea! 

Behind the counter, though, a great deal has changed in the past two years. Among the thirty-five or so non-salaried employees, fourteen, at last count, have thrown in their lot with Fast Food Forward, the New York branch of a growing campaign to unionize fast-food workers.

Underneath the lighted images of Big Macs and Chicken McNuggets, back between the deep fryer and the meat freezer, the clamshell grill and the egg station, the order screens and the endless, hospital-like beeping of timers, there have been sharp and difficult debates about the wisdom of demanding better pay and forming a union.

Most of the workers here make minimum wage, which is $8 an hour in New York City, and receive no benefits.

Rosa Rivera, a grandmother of four who has worked at McDonald’s for fourteen years, makes eight dollars and fifty cents. Exacerbating the problem of low pay in an expensive city, nearly everyone is effectively part time, getting fewer than forty hours of work a week. And none of the employees seem to know, from week to week, when, exactly, they will work.

The crew-scheduling software used by McDonald’s is reputed to be sophisticated, but to the workers it seems mindless and opaque. The coming week’s schedule is posted on Saturday evenings. Most of those who, like Rivera, have sided with the union movement—going out on one-day wildcat strikes, marching in midtown protests—suspect that they have been penalized by managers with reductions in their hours. But just-in-time scheduling is not easy to analyze.

Arisleyda Tapia, who has been working here for eight years, and makes eight dollars and thirty-five cents an hour, says she was fired last year by a supervisor for participating, on her own time, in a protest. She was reinstated three days later by cooler management heads, but Tapia, a single mother with a five-year-old daughter, says that she now gets only thirty hours a week. She used to average forty. “And they don’t really post the schedule anymore,” she told me. “They just give you these.”

She waved a thin strip of paper in the air. It was like the stuff that comes out of a shredder. Tapia laughed, and mimicked a manager frantically snipping each line out of a printed schedule, for individual distribution. “This way, it’s harder for us to see what’s going on at the store. You see only your own hours.”

Tapia was a nurse in Santiago de los Caballeros, the second city of the Dominican Republic. She had two children, Scarlet and Steven. Her

husband drove a taxi. Her mother, also a nurse, raised orchids. When Tapia’s marriage fell apart, she felt her hopes for her children dimming. It was 2003; a banking crisis had cratered the Dominican economy. With her mother’s blessing, she left her job at a big university hospital where she had worked for twelve years and moved, alone, to New York. She rented a shared room in Inwood, a working-class neighborhood in upper Manhattan, for $50 a week, got a job at a McDonald’s in Inwood, and then a second job, at the 181st Street McDonald’s.

She made minimum wage. Still, she was able to send most of her paychecks home. “I made more in a week here than I did in a month as a nurse there,” she said. Her children were provided for. College remained a possibility. Her Facebook cover photo has a woman’s closed eye with long lashes and a big tear trickling down. “That’s for missing my kids,” she told me.

Tapia struggled with depression. Her immigration status was work-authorized, letting her obtain a Social Security number, and then it wasn’t. She got scammed by a lawyer. She feared she would be deported. Tapia makes friends easily—if you walk the streets of Inwood with her, you will see her merrily accosted by neighbors—but she felt isolated. The sueño americano—the reason she still gives, half-ruefully, for emigrating—had taken on nightmarish colors.

She felt trapped in a cold, foreign, overwhelming place. She felt that people were following her. She went for therapy at public clinics. Tapia, who is deeply religious, found herself looking for a sign from God. One night, in church, she got it. Her anxiety receded. She talks about the experience in awed, fierce tones.

She took up with a man—a taxi-driver—and on New Year’s Day, 2009, she gave birth to a daughter, Ashley. The relationship with the taxi-driver did not last. Tapia was thirty-seven. She found an apartment on Sherman Avenue, in Inwood, across from the 207th Street Subway Yard.

The apartment was small and dark, partitioned to create more rooms, and Tapia shared it with other renters. She and Ashley slept in a single bed in a closet-size alcove. They still sleep there. Tapia had already bought, sight unseen, a small rental house in Santiago; her mother manages it, and the rent helps support Scarlet and Steven.

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With an infant, Tapia had to quit one of her jobs. Money got tighter. She and Ashley received food stamps—a hundred and eighty-nine dollars a month—and, crucially, an earned-income tax-credit refund. But day care was expensive, and Tapia could never get enough hours at work. Wary of the courts, she received no child support. Still, her spirits were strong.

Now she lived for Ashley, who was bright and mischievous. Friends and co-workers deluged the child with love and toys. Somebody gave her a little plastic cash register. She banged away on it, piping, “Welcome to McDonald’s. How may I help you?”

One of Tapia’s closest friends was Dominga de Jesus, her manager. La Dominga, as everybody calls her, is also Dominican. She lives in the Bronx, started at the bottom herself at McDonald’s, and has a daughter slightly older than Ashley. The little girls are friends. La Dominga was kind to Tapia in her despair. In turn, Tapia helped Dominga when she had housing troubles. Between crises, the two women loved to party together.

Tapia was delighted for Dominga when she went off to Hamburger University, the McDonald’s training center, in Oak Brook, Illinois, where she earned a degree in Hamburgerology. The course there “sounded like a good party,” Tapia told me, grinning.

In 2012, community organizers from New York Communities for Change, a Brooklyn-based descendant of ACORN, started sniffing around the McDonald’s in Washington Heights. La Dominga—perhaps forewarned, or simply aware of

the long-standing vigilance at McDonald’s against any stirrings of union sentiment—spotted a suspected organizer on one of her closed-circuit cameras. His name was Alfredo Miase. He was Dominican. Tapia recalled, “She told me, ‘Don’t talk to him.’ ”

But Tapia had recently had a run-in with another manager, who kept her working, even though she had a fever, for hours. “Finally, I couldn’t take it,” she told me. “I just couldn’t stand up anymore, and I went home. She suspended me for a week for that. She’s gone now, but she was abusive. That experience left me ready to do something.” So Tapia met with Miase, down the block, beyond the closed-circuit cameras, skulking, scared. And she was not the only one. “He was a very thoughtful, sympathetic guy,” she said.

A small group of workers, nearly all women, started meeting with Miase and another organizer, Marisol Vasquez, at a nearby Chinese restaurant called Jimmy’s. They discussed their problems and what might be done. Tapia, unlike some American workers, already had a solid grasp of what a union is.

In the D.R., she had been a member of the national nurses’ union during a major dispute with the ministry of health. That fight culminated in strikes that caused a national furor. Doctors had also walked out. “Patients were dying,” she remembered. In the end, the government agreed to meet with the strikers and address their demands.

The Service Employees International Union, the second-largest union in the United States, was quietly funding the fast-food campaign. The first public act was a one-day strike on November 29, 2012. Some two hundred workers, from around forty fast-food outlets in New York City, gathered at dawn outside a McDonald’s on Madison Avenue in midtown, chanting, “Hey, hey, what do you say, we demand fair pay.”

They had walked off jobs at Burger King, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Domino’s Pizza, and McDonald’s. Their goals, they told reporters, were an industry-wide raise to fifteen dollars an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation. It was a day of rallies, walkouts, and a march through Times Square. The Times called it “the biggest wave of job actions in the history of America’s fast-food industry.” Tapia and several co-workers from Washington Heights were in the thick of it.

La Dominga was shocked to see her friend’s face in the crowd in a photograph on her Facebook news feed.

The protests spread to the Midwest, with hundreds of fast-food workers demonstrating in Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Detroit. By the summer of 2013, workers in sixty cities across the United States, even in the traditionally anti-union South, were staging coordinated one-day walkouts and marches with a single message: fifteen and a union. In December, it was more than a hundred cities.

The movement picked up political support. President Obama renewed a long-neglected pledge to raise the federal minimum wage, which is $7.25 an hour—it should be nine dollars, he first suggested, and then lifted his sights, in early 2014, to $10.10.

That’s a modest proposal; in 1968, the minimum wage, in current dollars, was $10.95.

Even so, minimum-wage legislation has no chance of passing in this Congress. But opinion polls show wide public support for a hike. Some cities and states have been bidding up their own minimum-wage laws. In June, Seattle decided to raise its minimum wage to fifteen dollars. Fast-food workers rightly took credit for having made plausible a minimum wage that, less than two years ago, sounded outlandish.

The fast-food giants have seemed clumsy, and wrong-footed by the surge of protest. Their traditional defense of miserable pay—that most of their employees are young, part time, just working for gas money, really—has grown threadbare. Most of their employees today are adults—median age twenty-eight. More than a quarter have children. Particularly since the onset of the global recession of 2009, McJobs are often the only jobs available. And seventy per cent of fast-food workers are indeed part time, working fewer than forty hours a week.

McDonald’s has tried to acknowledge the real lives of its workforce by providing counselling through a Web site (since taken down) and a help line called McResource. A sample personal budget was offered online last year. The budget was full of odd assumptions: that employees worked two full-time jobs, for instance, and that health insurance could be bought for twenty dollars a month. The gesture made the corporation look painfully out of touch. The same thing happened with a health-advice page. Workers

were advised to break food into pieces to make it go farther, sing to relieve stress, and take at least two vacations a year, since vacations are known to “cut heart attack risk by 50%.” Swimming, one learned, is great exercise. Fresh fruit and vegetables are good for you, McDonald’s declared.

A mother of two in Chicago, who had worked at McDonald’s for ten years, called the help line and found herself counselled to apply for food stamps and Medicaid. This was, at least, realistic. A recent study by researchers at the University of California-Berkeley and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that fifty-two per cent of fast-food workers are on some form of public assistance.

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Sensitive to the beating that their brands are taking in the escalating confrontation with employees, the fast-food giants have been leaving the hardball response to their lobby, the National Restaurant Association. “The other N.R.A.,” as it is known, is an enormous organization, with nearly half a million member businesses, but its strategic thinking seems to be dominated by the major chains. It has fought minimum-wage legislation, at every level of government, for decades.

It has fought paid-sick-leave laws, the Affordable Care Act, worker-safety regulations, restrictions on the marketing of junk food to children, menu-labelling requirements, and a variety of public-health measures, such as limits on sugar, sodium, and trans fats. Its press releases now deride the demands of fast-food workers as “nothing more than big labor’s attempt to push their own agenda.” But internal N.R.A. documents, leaked this spring to Salon, show the group’s concern about the “reputational attacks on our industry.”

They say that N.R.A. agents are “closely monitoring social media for any plans or signs of activity,” and are even tracking the movements of one activist. Scott DeFife, the chief N.R.A. spokesman, told me that the crowds at the protests actually consist of organizers: “There’s often not one restaurant

worker to be found among the crowds of organizers.”

McDonald’s has rarely hesitated to act aggressively on labor issues. In 1990, it sued a tiny group called London Greenpeace for libel, because of leaflets the group had distributed attacking the company. According to Eric Schlosser’s book “Fast Food Nation” (2001), McDonald’s had been successfully using Britain’s plaintiff-friendly libel laws to intimidate British mass media for many years.

Two members of London Greenpeace fought back. Although they could not afford a lawyer, the court proceedings went on for more than a decade, revealing, among other things, the extensive use by McDonald’s of spies—some meetings of London Greenpeace apparently had as many spies in attendance as real members. The “McLibel trial” was, from start to finish, a public-relations fiasco. For the second-largest private employer in the world (after Walmart), with more than thirty-five thousand restaurants in a hundred and nineteen countries, McDonald’s can be, in the court of public opinion, remarkably inept.

In recent months, Fast Food Forward and its many partners—Fight for 15 (Chicago), Stand Up KC (Kansas City), STL Can’t Survive on $7.35 (St. Louis)—have been rhetorically thrashing their corporate opponents. The Berkeley-University of Illinois study, commissioned by Fast Food Forward, found that American fast-food workers receive almost seven billion dollars a year in public assistance.

That’s a direct taxpayer subsidy, the activists argue, for the fast-food industry. Taxpayers are also, by that logic, grossly overpaying the industry’s top management. According to the progressive think tank Demos, fast-food executives’ compensation packages quadrupled, in constant dollars, between 2000 and 2013. They now take home, on average, nearly twenty-four million dollars a year. Their front-line workers’ wages have barely risen in that time, and remain among the worst in U.S. industry. The differential between C.E.O. and worker pay in fast food is higher than in any other domestic economic sector—twelve hundred to one. In construction, by comparison, the differential is ninety-three to one.

The fast-food chains insist that if they were to pay their employees more they would have to raise menu prices. Their wages are “competitive.” But in Denmark McDonald’s workers over the age of eighteen earn more than twenty dollars an hour—they are also unionized—and the price of a Bi

g Mac is only thirty-five cents more than it is in the United States. There are regional American fast-food chains that take the high road with their employees. The starting wage at In-N-Out Burger, which is based in Southern California, and has two hundred and ninety-five restaurants in California and the Southwest, is eleven dollars. Full-time workers receive a complete benefits package, including life insurance—and the burgers are cheap and good.

McDonald’s, throughout its history, has denied responsibility for the labor practices of its franchisees, who own and operate nearly ninety per cent of its more than fourteen thousand outlets in the United States. In March, seven class-action lawsuits were filed against the company in three states—California, Michigan, and New York—alleging wage theft and other violations of labor law.

In late July, the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board ruled, in connection with another set of complaints, that McDonald’s is a “joint employer” with its franchisees. The corporation exercises, through its standard contract, the most elaborate possible control over virtually every aspect of its franchisees’ operations, and the pay and the treatment of workers are very largely determined by that control. Indeed, the lawsuits allege that the crew-scheduling software that McDonald’s franchisees are required to use leads directly to the cost-cutting practices that amount to wage theft.

McDonald’s will fight the ruling and its implementation, both on its own behalf and on behalf of other major franchisors. The implications of the ruling, if it is upheld, are profound. Not only will the responsibility of corporations for millions of workers be increased sharply but the prospects for fast-food unionization will brighten. Shop-by-shop organizing in what the economist David Weil calls “the fissured workplace” is a Sisyphean chore. Having the legally chosen representatives of the industry’s workforce sit down with the leaders of McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s, all of whom are capable of a cost-benefit analysis of their business model, makes more sense.

I asked Arisleyda Tapia who she thought could raise her pay. “Bruce,” she said immediately. “He’s rich.”

She meant Bruce Colley, the owner of the McDonald’s where she works. Colley owns twenty-nine McDonald’s franchises, including nineteen in

Manhattan. He grew up in Westchester County, and graduated from the Trinity Pawling School and Cornell. When he joined the family business, in 1980, his father, Dean, owned more than a hundred McDonald’s franchises in the Northeast. Dean was master of foxhounds of the Golden’s Bridge (New York) Hounds. Bruce is a polo player. His net worth is not a matter of public record. Still, you can see where Tapia got her impression.

Colley found himself in the news when, in 2003, he was reported to be having an affair with Kerry Kennedy Cuomo, triggering her divorce from Andrew Cuomo.

According to the Post, Kerry was “crushed” when Bruce decided not to leave his then wife for her. Otherwise, Colley does a good job of staying out of the papers. (He declined to comment for this article.) In July, 2013, during a heat wave, Sheliz Mendez, one of Colley’s employees at the McDonald’s in Washington Heights, fainted in the kitchen and had to be hospitalized.

Some of her co-workers walked off the job, protesting the lack of air-conditioning, and began chanting on the sidewalk outside. Reporters showed up. So did Colley. CBS New York described him as a “McDonald’s spokesman.” He apologized for the inconvenience to customers and employees and said that two of the store’s three air-conditioning units were already repaired. His workers said that they had been complaining about the heat for months and that the units were turned on only because camera crews had appeared.

Jamne Izquierdo, who has worked at the Washington Heights outlet for nine years, said she had never seen the air-conditioning on before.

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A year later, on another hot July day, I stopped in the store and found it stifling. Managers were setting up big portable fans near the counter. Colley did not want another labor incident. I was waiting for Tapia to finish her shift. There was a new freestanding sign,

touting the Bacon Clubhouse with a cryptic boast: “Artisan is how this club rolls.” On the workers’ uniform caps, multicolored stitching declared “FAMOUS CRISPY FUN LOVEABLE.” Was William Burroughs writing ad copy from the next world? Having clocked out, Tapia emerged, looking drained, and eating Fruit and Maple Oatmeal from a paper cup.

We walked south on Broadway. A rainstorm had broken the heat. We passed through the spooky, puddled maw of the George Washington Bridge Bus Station, its concrete arms hulking overhead like a Soviet brutalist ruin. Tapia had sent Ashley, her five-year-old, to visit her grandmother in the Dominican Republic. She couldn’t afford to go.

It had been 11 years. She Skyped with her kids and her mother several times a day, but it was strange, this free time that she suddenly had. There was a national conference of the fast-food workers’ movement coming up, in Chicago. The union was sending a couple of buses from New York. Maybe she could go. We found a Dominican restaurant down Broadway.

Did she really believe that Bruce Colley could unilaterally raise the pay of all his employees to fifteen dollars an hour?

Tapia looked down. “He used to give us just one shirt,” she said, finally. “We tried to give a petition to La Dominga about people getting their hours reduced, but she wouldn’t accept it. Then Bruce came and had a meeting with us. He came because we have a strong union committee. He didn’t go to any of his other stores. He listened to us. Then they gave us each a box with four uniforms. That was a real strike victory.” She sighed. “But we know who our real opponent is. It’s the corporation. McDonald’s.”

The space between franchisees and a parent company is nowhere more opaque than at McDonald’s, where the price of admission is exceptionally high: applicants must show at least seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars of

unborrowed money even to be considered for a franchise, and the investment costs go up from there. Very few franchisees fail to observe the code of omertà that governs their relationship with the corporation. One disgruntled franchisee in California recently broke the silence, telling the Washington Post that McDonald’s executives had advised her to “pay your employees less” if she wanted to take home more herself.

Two former McDonald’s managers recently went public with confessions of systematic wage theft, claiming that pressure from both franchisees and the corporation forced them to alter time sheets and compel employees to work off the clock.

Having a union will put a stop to this type of injustice, Tapia believes. And she was not wrong, I thought, about the importance of tangible victories, however small. Building confidence was crucial, even in the fissured workplace—showing doubters that standing up for yourself need not always bring down the wrath of the bosses on your head and could actually achieve benefits.

“Some people are too scared to say anything,” she said. “They’re scared to talk to you, for instance—the media.” I could confirm that. “It’s not that everybody working there supports the union. But they all want us to keep fighting. They’re afraid to fight themselves, but they know they’ll benefit when we win.”

But would the boat parties be reinstated?

Tapia laughed. Bruce Colley was famous for taking his employees on an annual summertime cruise on the Hudson. Tapia had to admit that they were a blast. Colley danced with all the women. But last year, she said, she had not been invited. She blamed her activism. And this year there had been no boat party at all, as far as she knew.

More important to Tapia—far more important—was her friendship with La Dominga. Things between them had cooled lately, she said, but not really, not in her heart. It was only this situation at work. On Dominga’s birthday, Tapia and some of her co-workers had given her a big bunch of flowers. Dominga understood the message: none of this conflict was personal. When the fight for a union was over—after the workers had won their rights—“things between me and Dominga will be just like they were before.”

The modern American labor movement rose out of the struggle over the eight-hour day. Mary Kay Henry, the president of the Service Employees International Union, told me, “This fight for fifteen is growing way beyond fast food. It’s getting to be what the eight-hour day was in the twentieth century.” That may be so (or it may be a stretch), but labor unions, the centerpiece of the movement to improve working conditions in the last century, have definitely shrunk to the margins. Fewer than seven per cent of private-sector workers are union members today—that’s the lowest density in nearly a century.

The landscape of American business has changed, reflecting the shift from a manufacturing to a service economy, but unions have not changed with it. The S.E.I.U., with more than two million members, has probably done the best job among large unions of adapting to the new workplace, organizing health-care workers and janitors, for instance, in circumstances that did not allow for traditional industrial organizing.

The Justice for Janitors campaign of the nineteen-nineties offers a good precedent for the current fast-food campaign, Henry said. The janitors were fissured by the broad move of commercial property owners to subcontracting, much as fast-food workplaces are fissured by franchising. Their nominal employers, small cleaning companies, had no power and thin profit margins.

The tactics of the janitors were unorthodox, and included mass civil disobedience: closing freeways in Los Angeles; blocking bridges into Washington, D.C. Their goal was to get building owners to the table, and in time they succeeded, in some cases nearly doubling with their first contract the compensation they had been earning. The movement was largely Latino, and crucially strengthened by undocumented immigrants who stepped up, risking deportation.

But big-city janitors had been unionized, historically—and in some cities, like New York, still were—so the fight was really to reorganize and rebuild. There is no comparable history in fast food. More important, the fast-food workforce is just under four million and growing, and the main companies are so rich and powerful that the stakes are higher than in any labor struggle in recent memory.

To date, it’s been “more air war than ground war,” as Ruth Milkman, a sociologist of labor movements at the City University of New York Graduate Center, puts it. The one-day strikes, which aren’t really strikes, since they don’t usually close shops or try to shame (nonexistent) strikebreakers, get larger each time. This May, the fast-food workers staged simultaneous protests in two hundred and thirty cities worldwide.

They have gathered endorsements from a very long list of labor groups and others, including the seventy-six-member Progressive Caucus in the United States Congress and the Boston Wobblies. For the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington, an editorial in the Times declared, “The marchers had it right 50 years ago. The fast-food strikers have it right today.” The percentage of the workforce actually committed to the movement still seems quite small, however, and the organizing tactics still decidedly nontraditional. None of this acclaim will translate anytime soon into a shop-floor union vote presided over by the National Labor Relations Board.

The S.E.I.U. leadership sometimes suggests that it is merely following the lead of a spontaneous workers’ movement, but it invested about two million dollars in organizing in New York before the first public protest, in November, 2012, and it has continued to fund organizing nationwide—to the tune of more than ten million dollars. It has retained the services of BerlinRosen, a progressive political-consulting firm that helped propel Bill de Blasio from dark-horsedom into the mayor’s office.

In the vacuum left by the subsidence of labor unions, a rough movement sometimes known as Alt-Labor—community groups, “worker centers”—has

emerged. New York has an abundance of such groups, including the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, launched in 1998, which has successfully defended drivers against exploitation by medallion owners, and the Restaurant Opportunities Center, or ROC, which was originally founded as a help center for displaced restaurant workers after the September 11th terrorist attacks and has since grown into an all-purpose resource for food-sector employees, offering training, conducting research, and filing complaints and lawsuits. Thirty-two cities now have their own ROC. The group has thrown its energy behind the fast-food movement. The National Restaurant Association has targeted ROC, apparently considering it a serious threat.

Alt-Labor groups, by legal definition not unions, will never be bargaining units. Fast Food Forward and its numerous allies in the fast-food campaign, though all closely tied to their funding source, S.E.I.U., are in many ways Alt-Labor, which makes the movement’s path forward rather difficult to picture. Mary Kay Henry told me that the S.E.I.U. is supporting the movement “because it helps our members.”

She said that “6.5 million workers have already had their wages increased owing to minimum-wage increases” driven by fast-food activism. Minimum-wage legislation is great, she said, but “collective bargaining can set a standard that obviates legislation.”

So is she hoping to sign up millions of new members from the food industry?

“Membership is not our foremost question,” she said. “Our first concern is winning $15 and a union. The workers will then choose whom they want to represent them.” That answer seems to dodge the question. Henry, like other labor leaders, likes to sketch a climactic meeting with the big fast-food employers: “The Big Three”—McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s—“are going to have to see the union part, and not just the minimum-wage part, and get their heads around that, before they come to the table.”

The golden arches glowed at dawn above Danville, Pennsylvania, and, later, above other towns—Sharon, Mercer. For Tapia, they were a familiar touch in an unfamiliar land. Also Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts. Tapia napped on and off all morning. She was near the front of the charter bus. It had departed from downtown Brooklyn at 2 A.M., in a convoy with another bus. It got stuck in 3 A.M. traffic on Canal Street, but now they were flying westward. The driver and his alternate were chatting in Chinese.

Tapia was the only person from her McDonald’s going to the conference. Across the aisle was Corina Garcia. She worked at another McDonald’s—at Broadway and 145th—that was owned by Bruce Colley. Garcia, who is fifty-six, looked very put-together, with a sweet smile and a sharp little travel bag. She had been an executive secretary for ten years in the Dominican Republic, she said. Stacked on the seat next to her were cases of water, bags of apples, and a box full of small cans of Pringles. People from farther back in the bus, which was packed, made occasional raids on the supplies.

Tapia was excited about going to Chicago. She had never been west of New York. The cornfields of Ohio seemed to go on forever. It was so different from el campo back home. No grasslands, rain forest, cane fields, coffee farms. She wondered about the cost of living out here. It was surely cheaper than New York. But you would probably need a car, which was expensive. Hearing that South Bend, Indiana, had a famous Catholic university, she made a mental note—possible college for Ashley.

At the rest stops, the younger men sauntered across the strangely wide Midwestern forecourts, wearing baggy basketball shorts, neck pillows still in place. But most of the conferencegoers were older. Alvin Major, the father of four teen-agers, was from Guyana and worked at a K.F.C. in Brooklyn.

His oldest was going to college upstate this fall. He sometimes worked three jobs, collecting three paychecks, all from K.F.C.—but no overtime, which wasn’t right. Jorel Ware worked at a McDonald’s in midtown. He was thirty-one. He still made minimum wage, after two years. “They say the franchisee is just a small man in the middle,” he said. “If that’s true, then who am I? I’m just a dot on the wall. I just want to be able to get an unlimited MetroCard. I can’t afford nothing.”

Shantel Walker, who works at a Papa John’s in Brooklyn, jumped up as the bus approached Chicago. She wore a gold-billed cap and a big crucifix. She had a microphone. “I work too hard,” she chanted, “for a little income.” The bus erupted, workers chanting the lyrics after her. “Your story is an inspiration / People are with you / New York is proud of you, Hey.”

Tapia, who speaks little English, chanted softly: “People are with you / New York is proud of you, hey.” She was looking pretty sharp herself, in form-fitting jeans, black suède loafers, a black shirt with a cheetah-print panel, long gold earrings.

Walker: “You got to work hard, Hey / To get a union and fifteen.”

Tapia: “You got to work hard, hey / To get a union and fifteen.”

Walker: “Detroit’s gonna be there, remember. Chicago. We gotta represent. We the original starter of this movement.”

Cheers, shouts,whistles.

Chicago, to Tapia’s disappointment, never appeared. Was it a very small city, then? No, the conference was in a convention center out in a western suburb, Villa Park, and the bus took a route that never went near Chicago proper.
October 18, 2010“Looks like someone’s eyes are bigger than his liver.”Buy or license »

The conference, however, did not disappoint. Buses pulled in from every direction—St. Louis, Detroit, Greenville, North Carolina. Delegates in red T-shirts practiced their chants in the late-afternoon sun. Inside the convention center, twelve hundred workers filled one end of a vast space. There were elaborate shout-outs from each delegation, a ritual that seemed to go on for hours. But the energy stayed high. There were videos, rappers, a driving beat. The proceedings were directed by an organizing committee of a dozen-plus people on a stage. They never seemed to call for order. They just drove the thing forward.

The New York rep, Naquasia LeGrand, a twenty-two-year-old K.F.C. employee from Canarsie, said, “I got to be on my feet all day, and you don’t want me to go to the foot doctor? You want me to smile at customers, but you won’t give me a dental plan?” Mary Kay Henry gave a passionate speech, declaring, “I am proud to bring into this room two million workers who are in this with you to win it!” After Henry’s speech, Tapia was on her feet, along with the rest of the crowd, chanting, “We believe that we can win!” She was rocking, clapping, smiling excitedly.

On the second day, delegates were directed to sit at tables with people from other cities. Tapia found herself at a Spanish-speaking table with workers from Denver and Chicago. The best part of the conference, she told me later, was sharing stories with Martina Ortega, who was originally from Guerrero State, in Mexico, and Otilia Sanchez, from Denver, about raising families on minimum wage in El Norte, and what their respective union committees were doing.

Tapia filled a notebook with names and contact information. Each table was asked to report to the conference as a whole, and Otilia Sanchez rose and delivered a forceful speech, in Spanish, about how this would be not an armed struggle but a political fight waged by peaceful means—strikes, boycotts, media—and how if the workers stayed strong they would make history.

Tapia said afterward that she was surprised to see that the movement was predominantly African-American. “That’s good,” she told me. “Because they’re not afraid. They have nothing to lose. We’re all afraid of getting deported. They’re not.”

The history of the civil-rights struggle was constantly invoked. The N.A.A.C.P. had just formally endorsed the fast-food workers’ movement at its national convention (without mentioning the central demand for fifteen dollars an hour, possibly to spare the fast-food franchisees among its leadership the shock of that stark figure). The Reverend William Barber II, the head of the North Carolina N.A.A.C.P., gave a stand-up-and-shout sermon after lunch. Barber talked about President Franklin Roosevelt’s belief that a minimum wage should allow American workers to “live decently,” then offered his own gloss on that idea.

“I want to be able to live,” Barber said. “I want to be able to pay my rent, feed my kids, put gas in my car, maybe buy a house—and every now and then fix my hair!” Representative Keith Ellison, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, was on hand. “Income inequality is an existential threat to the American Dream,” he told me. “And these people are doing something about it.” In his conference speech, he said, “In the richest country in the world, you should not be working full time and still be on food stamps.”

I noticed Tapia nodding seriously when this was said, as she did when Terrence Wise, a Burger King worker from Kansas City with three children, said, “Most of us are doing this for our kids. For the next generation. If somebody was hurting your kid, you would crush them. And that’s how we need to think about these corporations. They’re trying to destroy our families, hurt our kids.”

The return bus left that afternoon, arriving in New York at nine the next morning. Tapia took the subway directly to work. She stashed her travelling bag under a storage bin, where the manager was unlikely to see it and ask questions. Fortunately, it was Sunday, La Dominga’s day off.

Tapia applied to ten charter schools for kindergarten for Ashley. She got into none. She was wait-listed at three, though, including at Tapia’s first choice, a new Success Academy school opening on Fort Washington Avenue, in Washington Heights. The school’s Web page wouldn’t load on Tapia’s phone. “I need to get Internet,” she said. We were in her apartment, and she pointed out an old Dell desktop wedged among other appliances on the dresser she shares with Ashley. Internet access is about twenty dollars a month. Something would have to give.

It could not be her unlimited-ride MetroCard. That was a hundred and twelve dollars a month—a giant bite out of her paycheck, and a purchase that many people couldn’t manage, but it was indispensable. If she rode the train or the bus (she preferred the guagua, as everybody in her neighborhood calls the bus) eighty times a month, it cost less than half what it would for individual rides.

If she got a raise to fifteen dollars an hour, she could buy new work shoes, help her mother, get Ashley a good winter coat. Even so, fifteen dollars an hour is not considered adequate for a basic household budget by economists who study the matter. Not in New York City, anyway. A recent study found that, assuming you get forty hours a week, which Tapia never does now, it might be enough for a single person living in Montana. In New York, the bare minimum comes to $22.66. For a single parent with a child, it’s $30.02.

I didn’t mention these figures to Tapia. We were sitting in her tiny railroad kitchen, talking in whispers, because the other renters might be asleep. A message came in on Tapia’s phone. It was a photograph of her son, Steven, now a strapping fifteen-year-old and a serious baseball player. He was a lefty, looking snappy at bat, in full uniform. “I could not live without Facebook,” Tapia said. “I’ll get a photo of Steven when I’m at work, and McDonald’s cannot bother me.”

She had told La Dominga about Chicago, after all. “She understands,” Tapia said. “We’re not fighting her. But she’s getting all this pressure.”

I had asked La Dominga for an interview. When we spoke, on a busy Saturday afternoon at the store, she had agreed that her own story was a good one for McDonald’s. But she needed Mr. Colley’s permission to talk, and that had not come.

Tapia pointed to the light switch on the kitchen wall. It wasn’t a sign from God, but it was, in her opinion, close. Under many layers of paint, there was, still discernible, a raised plaster decoration around the switch which, after a moment’s study, revealed itself as a traditional depiction of Christ. Tapia carried a photograph of this odd little miracle in her phone.
August 3, 1998“It’s not enough that I succeed. My friends must also be drawn and quartered.”Buy or license »

We took a walk through Inwood. Her church, the Church of the Good Shepherd, stands above Broadway. It is big, imposing yet sedate, Romanesque Revival, beautifully maintained. Wooden confessionals are built into the walls, along with a poor box with a brass door. Many of the Masses are in Spanish. Tapia tries to come every Tuesday evening. “They welcome you especially, and individually,” she whispered. “It’s a community of brothers.” She has done a great deal of crying here.

“I had so much rancor toward my ex-husband,” she said. “It has finally left me now.” One of the best things about Good Shepherd was the number of young people it attracts. “I came here to pray when my mother said that my kids were becoming impossible teen-agers. I prayed for help. Now my mother says they are acting better.”

We stopped at a McDonald’s on 207th Street. Tapia had worked here, long ago. We started talking about local politicians who now reliably show up at fast-food protests, and also at the next-morning “walk-backs,” when strikers are escorted by sympathetic crowds back to their restaurants. Some of the politicians are sincere; all want the media attention.

Then Tapia shushed me. She texted me from across the table: Don’t talk union—the store manager had spotted her, and he was eavesdropping on us. I saw that she was right. Her expression was strangely mixed: fear, paranoia, mischief, pride. What could this manager possibly do to her? Her activism wasn’t a secret. But struggles for dignity are complex. We talked about Ashley. Tapia was praying hard for that charter school.

Speaking at a Laborfest rally in Milwaukee on Labor Day, President Obama declared, “All across the country right now, there’s a national movement going on made up of fast-food workers organizing to lift wages, so they can provide for their families with pride and dignity.” The President was blunt about the central issue. “You know what?” he said. “If I were looking for a good job that lets me build some security for my family, I’d join a union. If I were busting my butt in the service industry and wanted an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, I’d join a union.”

A few days later, the fast-food campaign mounted actions in a hundred and fifty cities. In New York, there was an early-morning sit-in outside a McDonald’s in Times Square. Nineteen strikers were arrested for blocking traffic. Tapia missed it, because she was busy taking Ashley to school. (Her prayers had been answered. Ashley was admitted to Success Academy—a high-powered bête noire of New York’s teachers’ union.)

Among the several hundred protesters, there were a fair number of labor organizers, but many more fast-food workers. I noticed Jorel Ware, Naquasia LeGrand, Shantel Walker, and other activists from the conference in Chicago, and an all-female delegation from the Washington Heights McDonald’s. Workers were also being arrested in Detroit, Chicago, Little Rock, and Las Vegas. Among those arrested in Times Square was an eighty-one-year-old McDonald’s janitor named Jose Carrillo.

Tapia made it to the day’s second sit-in, a few hours later, outside a McDonald’s at Eighth Avenue and Fifty-sixth Street. The protesters first marched up Eighth, beating on drums, blowing vuvuzelas and kazoos, and chanting, “What do we want? Fifteen and a union!” There were rabbis, priests, preachers, a Buddhist monk, and a full complement of local politicians. Some of the marchers wore their McDonald’s uniforms. Tapia was in civilian clothes. It was midday, hot.

She and the rest of the protesters were steered by police into a containment pen, built of interlocking metal barricades, on the east side of Eighth. Diners on the second floor of the adjacent McDonald’s looked out on the scene, chewing distractedly, and returned to their phones. Cars honked. Then fifteen protesters, quietly avoiding the pen, made their way into the center of the intersection, which was in full blazing sun, and sat down in a circle on the asphalt. Most were dressed in black. Most were women. Nearly all looked to be African-American. Shantel Walker was among them.

Tapia, at the front of the pen, watched closely, her face full of anger and admiration, as the demonstrators were brought to their feet one by one, not roughly, by police, and had their hands cuffed behind them. The police used disposable restraints—white plastic “flexicuffs.” They led their captives toward two large white vans, herded them inside, and shut the doors.

The energy level of the protest dropped. Tapia and the other women from the Washington Heights McDonald’s checked their phones. Some had shifts to work. Tapia had to pick up Ashley from school. ♦


William Finnegan has been a contributor to The New Yorker since 1984 and a staff writer since 1987.

Notes and tidbits on FB and Twitter. Part 57

Comme si on savait assez dans l’interval pour alléger nos angoisses.  Tout se hâte de disparaitre,  sauf skyscrapers and highways

Même l’univers a un début et aura une fin: On se ressemble tous.

Sauf les religions inventent le re-venu de quelqu’un vers la fin de quelque chose.

Ne jamais appeler sans espérer le coeur battant.

Si les postes existent toujours, une letter est un meilleur moyen d’ésperer avec un coeur battant normallement

On ne doit pas attendre les anniversaires pour exprimer la folle, tender et profonde passion des amours

Ce siècle sera “Ou tu lis mes notes, ou pas”

Être libre est distinct de la puissance. C’est vouloir ce que l’on peut. Plus on acquiére de pouvoir reflective, plus on éleve notre liberté de choisir

Non, la liberté N’est pas une: ou alors tout le monde la défendra. La liberté depend de l’expérience de la situation privilégiée, ou une notion abstraite au cas óu l’experience vient de manquer.

Le proper du réaliste, c’est qu’il n’agit pas, ne s’engage pas: Il est neutre dans son contemplation, un témoin impartial.

Si le “vrai”est intrinsic á notre espéce, il doit être affirmé pour exister. Avant mon jugement, il n’existe rien que des idées neuter.

Mon engagement rend ces idées des verities. Le procédé pedagogique qui emoustille l’intelligence encourage la volonté d’attention, le refus de la distraction de tous les acteurs extérieurs.

Conjointment  á la formation de l’intelligence, la pédagogie n’est pas suffisante si elle néglige le procédé de la production de l’intelligence.

Etre libre signifie qu’on a la puissance de bien juger et de distinguer le vrai d’avec le faux: La democracie sous-entend que ceux qui votent sont éduqués avec un niveau acceptable de réflechir. Sinon, la seule idée de continuité des acquis sociaux se degrade.

La revolution se déclenche a 50% d’ alphabetisation des regions urbaines. Au dessus de 70%, on se rally aux Réformes.

Never eat industrially grown meat: they contain a multitude of super resistant bacteria and germs to any kinds of anti-biotics when you badly need anti-biotics

Les partis politiques demandent de s’engager aux catéchisme de leurs ideologies, qui deviennent les bourreaux du libre réflechir.

Sound cannot propagate without matters (air): we can test this hypothesis by making the void. How can we test that liquid waves cannot propagate without liquid?

May 15 is Memorial Day for desolation and loss of homeland for the Palestiniens: The newly created Israel killed and terrorized 750,000 civil Palestinians to take refuge in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria in 1948. It is called Al Nakba

Ne m’étourdissez pas de vos “pieds sur terre”. Le réel est insipide  et tous le fui comme la peste, sans l’avouer.

Ce sont les illusions qui donnent cette saveur inoubliable des moments enchantés et traumatisants, et que nous emmagasinons comme des moment réels.

Il est “sous le choc”: il n’a rien ressenti. C’est après le choc, la reconstruction imagée de notre imagination de l’ événement qui nous décompose.

Abréger les “moments choc” des news media. Ca ne marche pas: if faut que vraiment on fut “sous le choc”

L’art de conter? C’est le sum mum de l’art, toujours inaccessible et le plus touchant, et qui suffit pour créer un univers

Ce sont ces fait-divers, commun partout et qu’on observe fréquemment, qui nous détraquent á un moment donné, comme touts les moments, par un hazard que l’on ne peut comprendre.

Les gens n’ont rien á vous dire: vous essayez de les entendre et connaitre á travers les romans.

Les écrivains imaginent pour vous des alternatives de conversation

Comment peut-on distribuer des miettes de gentillesse sans une réserve de bonheur intérieur?

“Dieu calcule et le monde se fait?” Est-ce que le Un peut imaginer le Zéro? L’aspect quantitative du nombre enracine son essence qualitative de classification en clan, tribu, sect, status…

Imaginer le future et reconstruire le passé.

L’espace s’accroit á une grande vitesse: les galaxies s’expandent. Et nos “espace vitaux” se rapetissent grace á la resistance de la notion d’autonomie.

“Burkini”? Swimming suits covering most of body banned in many beaches

Ghada El Yafi updated her status.

Je sais que ceux qui me connaissent savent à quel point je suis pour la laïcité, la sécularité.

Mais j’estime que cette campagne contre ce qu’ils ont appelé le “burkini” est une campagne inspirée par le sentiment de suprématie, de domination, de supériorité, de racisme.

Je défend le port du bikini à la plage, certes je défend la liberté des femmes dans les milieux islamistes fermés qui, sous prétexte de religion, se permettent d’abuser de leurs droits envers leurs épouse, soeur, fille et même mère.

Le problème des femmes arrivées en Occident est dramatique. Elles ne l’ont jamais choisi. Elles arrivent dans un monde dans lequel on leur demande subitement de changer leurs habitudes, leurs croyances, leur manière de vivre!

Ont-elles choisi de quitter leurs pays ou sont-ce les circonstances qui les y ont forcées? Dans le cas de la Syrie par exemple, auraient-elles subi de leur plein gré ces voyages de la désolation avec la traversée de mers en y laissant leurs proches enfants, parents, personnes aimées, ou est-ce la guerre qui les y a forcées?

Une guerre entièrement organisée par l’Occident à des fins politiques que je ne veux pas évoquer ici.

La terre ou qu’elle soit est la terre de Dieu. Les hommes qui se l’ont appropriée ne l’ont fait que par le fruit de hasard et ensuite en raison de la rapacité, de l’avidité et du fait d’une priorité arbitraire.

Pour ce qui est de la guerre, que ces combattants étrangers se retirent des pays où ils prétendent combattre pour l’Islam. Que les occidentaux, français inclus, cessent de leur prêter main forte.

Que les grandes puissances respectent les lois de Nations-Unies, et ces femmes avec leurs familles seraient les premières à vouloir rentrer chez elles.

Assez de “polémiquer” autour du “Burkini” qui n’est qu’une manière d’exprimer un racisme, un chauvinisme, ou simplement un ressentiment de ce qui ne nous ressemble pas.

Imaginez un peu un monde monomorphe, qui aimerait y vivre? Il serait des plus plats, des plus ennuyeux et les gens y inventeraient des zizanies pour se distraire.

Mais soyons sérieux. Dans un pays qui sacralise l’égalité et la liberté, le voilà qui commence à les restreindre. Pourquoi? parce que la propagande anti-Islam ainsi que le terrorisme -entretenu, bien-entendu- de Al-Qaida et succursales, a fait long feu?

Gardons à l’esprit qu’il a été utilisé par les USA pour servir ses causes mais a dérivé par la suite et n’est plus l’enfant obéissant qu’il était.

Pourquoi l’accoutrement de ces femmes qui déplaît (aux libanais, encore plus qu’aux français, toujours plus royalistes que le roi!) les dérange-t-il, au point de vouloir faire des lois à leur encontre?

Laissez donc la liberté vestimentaire à chacun dans l’espace public. Mais vous, européens, aidez donc vos dirigeants à arrêter leur ingérence dans les guerres si loin de chez vous, que la paix s’installe enfin, et toutes ces femmes “ridicules” seraient les premières à vouloir rentrer chez elles.

En attendant, il n’est pas inutile d’avoir un peu de compassion.
Boost indisponible

Am I a professional? Am I a generalist scholar? Who am I?

Do you think if you feel fully cognizant of the array of your emotions or your lack of talents (passions) in many aspects of the living that you are set for a boring death?

This post is based on facts that you can gleam in transcripts and documents…

With 14 years of university study, a PhD in Industrial/Human Factors, a couple of Masters in Operations research, physics and chemistry.

With taking many graduate courses in psychology, marketing, accounting,economy, higher education…

Can I consider myself a professional?

I still cannot claim this title: I didn’t work for a company for any substantial duration and just taught a few courses at universities.

Reading 3 hours per day at libraries, taking notes, reviewing books, writing posts and articles (about 7,300 articles on my blog in 45 categories), and keeping track of the political systems in countless countries, human rights performance, ecology…

Can I consider myself a professional?

At least, I should come to term that I am a generalist scholar

By mastering 3 languages, English French and Arabic (reading, speaking and writing), I’ll be a fool to deny myself knowledge of 3 cultures and civilizations

Most of all, I have an experimental mind and read and comprehend scientific papers in many fields and can evaluate the extent of their research or scientific validity.

I had to learn and get trained on various types of designing and conducting experiments with objects and subjects in many fields (engineering, psychology, marketing) and I am familiar with the particular statistical analysis packages that each of these fields feel comfortable applying and interpreting results. (That was some time ago)

Can I consider myself a professional?

And yet, I cannot claim to be a professional in the restrictive sense that hiring companies evaluate that term.

At least, I should come to term that I am a generalist scholar

I discovered that “professionalism” makes me physically sick, sustained stomach aches and recurring periods of catching cold… I would have died early on.

I am enjoying this freedom of expressing my opinions and feelings, and taking positions as a free man: Frequent confrontation with bullying people and the powers flaunting my rights and human rights

I don’t miss “professionalism”, excepting the retirement money

Notes and tidbits on FB and Twitter. Part 56

Comments on social platforms that people consider direct or indirect tightly reflect how you perceive your status in your community

Reflecting is great. If you fail to knock on doors and share your thoughts and ask what you want, you’ll forget this reflection.

“L’amie prodigieuse” by Elena Ferrante. Great read. Waiting to read tome 3. Apparently, it’s a pseudonym

“Un été avec Victor Hugo” by Laura El Makki and Guillaume Gallienne

“Les raciness du ciel” byRomain Gary

“Il ne restera de l’infirmité et du défi d’être un homme qu’une dépouille de plus sur le chemin”

In this global financial world, ma fi shi aktar min massareh 3ala wara2. Plenty of paper money with no real value

Ce fair mal est ume maladie dans les societies qui survivent toujours d’une geurre civile.

Une guerre sans vainqueurs: Tous sont vaincus, humiliés et invisible.

Je ne suis pas nostalgique de mon enfance: elle était pleine de violence, surtout d’être invisible et sans opinions

C’est á toi que je dédie mes posts, comments and notes. Tu es pensif en lisant: cherche la rebellion, l’insomission et le désir d’écrire (c’est un act puissant)

La Liberté de m’exprimer sans mensonge est mon drapeau et ma patrie

Le mot vivant (le mot que tu sens profondement) est une trompette. Il tremble sur les murs qui séparent les vivants

“Dans une mer sans fond, par une nuit sans lune, Combiens ont disparu, dure et triste fortune” Les réfugiés qui prennent la mer ont déja lu Victor Hugo: ils continuent de tenter leur chance.

This French government must be discussing hard with all concerned parties: The volatile French are keeping quiet

“If you want, I want”. Let us find a trade-off

Quantum physicist, Angela Merkel of Germany, needed 2 decades to figure out that the EU cannot rely on the USA and the UK.

The ancient concept of EU took flesh in 1956 after the Suez canal debacle. France realized it could no longer rely on the USA and the UK. Actually, during the Soviet dominion, the USA and NATO were totally impotent to refrain the Soviet Union from entering several European States with their tanks and imposing their brand of communism.

Trump blames Germany for accumulating surplus export to USA: As if it is Germany problems to produce quality products at affordable prices

Les petits enfants ne savent pas parler. Ils se chuchotent et semblent se comprendre. On se sent stupide.

Je n’hésite pas á me rallier á la vierge conscience contre la prostituté de la raison d’Etat

La peine de mort est la punition du vengeur: une affaire politique qu’on croit satisfaire le désir de la communauté.

Le gros du people est miserable et il souffre: la maladie de l’ origine des crimes est mal traitée

Existence est conscience: de ce qu’on sait, ce qu’on vaut, ce qu’on peut, ce qu’on doit á la communauté

Aprés le premier et le dernier chapitres, je préfere lire les autres haphasardement. J’estime la discontinuité qui me permet de ré-écrire le livre

A US veteran: Today and every day I remember all those Iraqis I helped kill.

I didn’t serve my neighbors, family or friends, I served only empire and the oil, arms and infrastructure firms that got rich. I didn’t protect anyone, least of all Iraqis, and certainly not any U.S. citizens who were never under any threat.

Those we murdered were mostly civilians. Lose the vet fetish and remember what we actually did and do, which is kill people for empire.

A well designed Robot should be able to say: “I’m hearing new words, new technical terms, new slang, the kids are disturbing my knowledge… I definitely need a sabbatical from all that tantrum”

Suppose Google-dumped all the community laws, new and old, in an AI Robot in order for people to behave as “Good citizen”, what could be its reaction with all the contradictions? Total impotency. Maybe burn a few fuses?

Sure, life is complex, and the living is more so. And yet, the process is pretty simple: We go on living with successive binary decision at each moment: Go/ stay put, yes/no, get up/take a snooze

What plagues kids is the platitude of the adults. Most adults don’t believe kids can be impressed by experienced opinions. Kids are left to discover their ways on their own. There is No such an idiotic kid who cannot be impressed by adult heart delivered suggestions and positions.




August 2017

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