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Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

hillaryThe results of the US presidential elections prompted writer Aaron Sorkin to write a letter to his daughters. Like Sorkin, and many other fathers, I am very troubled by the victory of a man who, among many qualities, is an overt misogynist. I have not seen my daughters for years and feel I have to reach out to them, for whatever it is worth. This post is addressed to them.

I know you two did vote in the past election, both for your first presidential election. Chloé for the first time.

I did not vote. Although I have been living in this country for 25 years, I am not a U.S. citizen. Laura did become one this year to cast her vote against Trump and what he stands for. I went with her to her citizenship ceremony. I was very moved by it and congratulated her. Yet I could not to do the same as I can not bring myself to swear “to bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law.” I refused to bear arms for France and do my military service there in 1984 when France still had the draft, so I became a conscientious objector instead. I will not swear to do the same for the US, even if it is very unlikely that the lunatic who is now President-elect reestablishes the draft and decides to send men of my age to countries he may fancy to take to war. I do not acknowledge the right of a State – democratic or  otherwise – to tell someone when it is just to kill.

To be honest with you, I would also have a hard time swearing to defend the constitution of the US with the second amendment in it. A constitution is however subject to change.

But back to the earthquake of election day. I accompanied Laura to vote on 152 street and Amsterdam. It felt there like Hillary had 100 percent of the vote as we exited the polling station at 8:00 am. In fact, I only started to smell a rat around 10:00 pm, as Virginia was failing to fall fast enough in Hillary’s column.

Five days after the elections I am still in a state of shock trying to figure out what the triumvirate of fat idiots (Trump, Giuliani and Christie) is going to mess up first. Climate change policy and the US pledge in the Paris agreement? Planned parenthood and the life of women seeking an abortion? The life of the undocumented migrants, who cannot afford to be depressed, have not seen their families for years, and are still here washing dishes, cutting flowers, cleaning tables for miserable wages and paying for Social Security they will never get a penny from?

The thing that strikes me the most is what was going on in the voting booth with the folks who voted for the man. Granted, the democratic party has for too long neglected the working class. Does that justify voting for somebody who has absolutely zero credential with labour, even less  with the poor, and furthermore, has never run an office and is at best a dilettante?  I dare to bet that these poor fellows from Pennsylvania are not about to see their State covered again with steel mills.

Last thing about an image that has been aired over and over again I keep thinking about. In one of Trump’s campaign meeting, a black protestor was expelled, and walked back to the door by security. A man in the crowd surreptitiously threw a punch at him from behind. He knew the protestor could not get back at him. He also knew the crowd was on his side. This was an unfettered, safe expression of hate; The act of a coward. Men like Trump, who lamented the “old times when protesters would go home on a stretcher” call for this type of acts from this type of men.

Be safe girls.

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Introductions

p1030170It has been more than 11 years since my last supervised visitation with you (September 10 2005 to be exact). Since then, our contact have been either inexistent, or imaginary -as when ex impersonated one of you in email exchanges, very recently.

During all this time, your cousins in France you met and may remember have become adults, and one you never met, Romane, is a teen. Let me introduce to you your little cousins, Louise and Théa, who live near Chambéry, in France. In December, Louise will turn 4 and Théa 1.

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SignBetter2

If you walk the streets of Skala, the main town of Patmos, the Holy Island of Greece where I was a few days ago, you will likely bump into these signs that feature a man  -yes, a man – holding the hand of a little girl. These signs are there to tell motorists to slow down.

I am no specialist of Greek culture but these signs tell an interesting story: Greek fathers have a role to play in the life of their children, protect them, and have to be protected as caretakers. I bet Greek family courts are smarter than New York State’s and, as they handle divorces, do not limit fathers’ obligations to their children to paying child support.Sign1Greece

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Happy New Year 2016!

I am no fan of the end of the year holidays. All this family rejoicing used to give me the blues. Fortunately I am in Mexico (Jalpan, State of Queretaro) at the time when Mexican families travel together. There is nothing contrived in family festivities out here, and reasons to think of fathers rights seem almost out of place.

At least, being in Mexico makes me focus on positive family events. My girls are now the aunts of a new niece, Théa-  Louise’s sister- born on December 23, 2015.  They needed to know it!

 

 

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Photo AFP

Memorial to the Paris victims in New York (Photo AFP)

I am shocked by the November 13 Paris attacks, but I am mostly angry and disgusted. I cannot understand the scything of these civilian lives, which according to the nuts who conducted the attacks, was the price to be paid for France strikes in Syria. I cannot fathom the absolute arrogance of these so-called soldiers of God who decide who lives and who doesn’t, and the kind of paradise they pretend to earn with their crimes.

There never were just wars, and the war on terror which is unfolding in Syria is certainly not proof to the contrary, even if Daesh commits daily crimes against humanity. This is a war without soldiers and a lot of civilian casualties. Daesh hectors civilian populations, our strikes add to their misery, strenghten and legitimize Daesh yoke on them. I am tired of the rhetoric of the war on terrorism. One ought not conduct wars against terrorism, but intelligence operations at an international level, and police operations at a domestic level.

As I read the flow of articles about the Paris attacks, I was struck by Omar Ismael Mostefai’s story, one of the killers of so many people in the Bataclan theater, in the 11th arrondissement. Mostefai was twenty nine years old, born in a suburban town I know- Courcouronnes- because close to my hometown. The man happened to have a little daughter. Did he kiss her before going to the Bataclan? I don’t care if he is where he thinks he would be, but I am afraid she will live in hell, and for a long time.

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baby

I am sure many of the readers of this blog have seen this video, featuring a Brazilian father and his baby daughter; one of those moments that ex or family courts cannot steal from us. Enjoy.

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From the Manhattan Bridge, August 2015

From the Manhattan Bridge, August 2015

A long time ago, the Greeks invented tragedy. Tragedy is about irreconcilable positions and impossible goals. Often in the mix there are delusional aspirations, because folks fail to assess their predicament.

Talking about crazy aspirations, take that one: Being “#1 Dad”, as a fellow painted on the roof of his building (see photo), when the divorced ones can barely be dads. When I saw it, I thought of a comment of a reader of this blog. The man had an accident, tried to get disability, lost his job, while his daughter was more than 18. In New York State however, child support is owed until the child is 21, and more…  it is actually owed after the child is 21. Our man still keeps paying back support while his daughter is 24.

Why should he? Simply because for New York State, child support obligations is a gender-based financial yoke, whereby men are non-custodial payers bound to pay support to ex until the child is 21, irrespective of any need.

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Absolutely Uncommon Analysis of Family --and "Conciliation" -- Courts' Operations, Practices, and History