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Above left  How to live when death surrounds you ~ Photo by Martel   Above right  Mauresmo’s new level  Below right Too much heat from Serena Williams.?

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Multiplicity of problems in Multicultural America 2013

By Bernhard Bartling   Posted  Jan. 2013

The United States seems to be less united now than it has been for a long time. The outcome of the last general elections has shown a wide gap between two visions of America’s future, between two concepts of what the United States should be and should become.

On the one side, the Republican vision offers the image of the hard-working white Anglo-Saxon Protestant, succeeding thanks to his own efforts. A pious man, who would not be afraid of earning money and launching his business at any time, relying on nothing but himself and God to succeed. If you need help, God, your church and your family are there to support you.

On the other side, the Democratic vision shows a multicultural, multiracial nation, where everyone can bring his own added value and try to live the American Dream. Effort is required, but solidarity shall be given to those who cannot succeed only through effort. No one must be left behind in the end. If your gender, age, or social group has more difficulties in fulfilling its dreams, there are other ways to reach them and you’re not left alone to care for your family.

These two visions don’t fit with one another. Worse, they seem to have growing difficulties to live next to one another in the same state, even in the same country. The last elections have clearly shown a gap between the states where the red or blue vision of America dominates. In every state of the union, either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney topped the 50% hurdle. On the nationwide level, the blue way (Democratic) of thinking clearly dominates.

And demographics show that this domination will increase as time goes on. The white population will be a minority by 2030, no later 2050. The share of Hispanics in the US population is dramatically rising, while the share of Afro-American remains stagnant.

The problem for the GOP voter is that its base fears and refuses this evolution. It cannot stand to see that its conception of what the United States should be is becoming a minority opinion. The Republicans want to make English the official language of the United States.  To attract white voters and former Dixiecrats, the Republicans are slamming immigration, bashing the supposed laziness of those who rely on the State to live. Mr. Romney’s famous quote of the 47% is obviously coming from that conception. And in order to flatter the conservative base, the Grand Old Party is defending hard conservative lines on social rights.

Such positions on the issues tend to put the Republicans in trouble with a wide share of the electorate. First women, are not necessarily attracted by a life spent at home cooking and raising children. The Republican message leads them to fear for their rights, reproductive services and workplace equity. No GOP presidential candidate has attracted a majority of the female voters since 1988.       Read Red v. Blue, Black v. White

Meet N. Djokovic: Serbia’s Elvis or future president 

By Caroline Maes  Posted Jan. 2013

The positive image of the tennis world's No. 1 goes beyond his repertoire as a comedic entertainer and his stellar performances on the court. It also comes from his activism off the court. He has never forgotten the war in Yugoslavia, a war that marked his childhood.  So Novak Djokovic seizes the opportunity to help the Serbian population of 7.2 million to distance itself from those dark days. The war in Yugoslavia lasted a punishing 10 years, from 1991 to 2001.

About Djokovic’s public profile, fellow Davis Cup team member Victor Troicki said:  “It’s very big. You cannot even imagine how big it is. Definitely the biggest sports person, biggest athlete in our country’s history….All the people in Serbia, also (those) abroad that are Serbians, feel it. He did a lot in the sport; he did a lot for the country outside the sport. He’s a true figure and really great guy….He’s just a great person, great personality. He might be the future president of Serbia.”

“He's like Elvis Presley,” doubles specialist Nenad Zimonjic added. “And Michael Jordan together,” Troicki continued. “Combined with LeBron (James),” Ilija Bozoljac chimed in. “And Tiger Woods,” captain Bogdan Obradovic concluded.

After Serbia won the 2010 Davis Cup against France, Djoko and his fellow teammates obtained a diplomatic passport from then-foreign affairs minister Vuk Jeremic. And his 2011 amazing  (3 Grand Slam titles, 10 titles in total, 70 victories with only 6 losses) earned him the Order of the Karadjordje's Star of the 1st degree awarded by Serbian president Boris Tadic.

"I may have dreamed of lifting the trophy at Wimbledon, but I could never have thought that my country would reward me with such great honor. I am indebted to my people, and I will do my best to continue representing our beautiful country in the best possible way," Djokovic said upon receiving the nation's highest honor.

The 25-year-old is involved in a lot of civic activities. In 2007, he created the Novak Fund, now named the Novak Djokovic Foundation, to: “Enable children from disadvantaged communities to grow up, play and develop in stimulative, creative and safe settings, whilst learning to respect others and care for their environment.” In 2009, he created the Serbia Open in Belgrade. Although this tournament disappeared from the 2013 calendar, it boosted Belgrade's positive image in the world.

In 2011, Nole opened a tennis academy in Belgrade to give as many countrymen as possible the dream of becoming tennis pros.  He also launched the “Novak Cafe and Restaurant” in New Belgrade, Dorcol and Novi Sad-- and the “Novak Cafe” in Kragujevac and Kraljevo. 

These investments show Djokovic's patriotism and explain why he conveys such a positive image in his country and also beyond its border. With all these achievements, Nole exudes a globally positive force -- in essence, the current top performer in tennis extends his reach beyond the bounce of the ball.

Questioning Joakim Noah’s loyalty: 'sure of nothing,' he answers about representing France

By Malick Daho

Shall we see Joakim Noah on the

French national team again?  Indeed,

the relationship between the Chicago

Bulls player and the French team

is very ambiguous. He declares

his loyalty, but his actions don't

prove it. Except for the European

championship in 2011, Noah continues

to ignore his selection to the squad.

“I still love our national team, but I have no regret to have missed the European championship this summer. (My French teammates) achieved something special. Many players made sacrifices to reach this goal. I am really proud of them,” Noah said on his website.

Nobody really expects to see the situation changing. The Bulls’ big man split time between his $1.5-million Chicago home and traveling instead of playing more basketball.

Officially, he reported having an ankle injury. He is not Tony Parker, who sacrifices physically and financially to play for France.

Not ready to give up his personal time, Noah visited his father's homeland of Cameroon. He also played a charity soccer game in New York and relaxed in Miami.

“Moreover he is seen as being venal and selfish,” Coach Vincent Collet said on

France won the Euro last September in Noah's absence. “I had a very hard season and my body needed to stop.  Joining the team was not reasonable for me,” he rationalized.

Fellow Frenchman Nicolas Batum suffered during the NBA season also – with an elbow injury – but he put on the national jersey alongside TP in a true act of patriotism.

The situation embarasses his father Yannick Noah, the winner at  Rolland Garros in 1983. “As a great fan of the French team, I would have like my son to go play with his friends,” he tweeted.

“We shall see; I do not know. I am sure of nothing,” said Noah about the World Championships in 2014. “I want to concentrate on this (Bulls) season and I do not want to speak about what could take place in one or two years. I understand who is  complaining. I need to take care of my career and my body. But things can change,” he explained.

Another new obstacle could prevent Noah from giving the answer the French fans want.  Bulls franchise player Derrick Rose is lost for the season with a knee injury.  As co-captain, Noah’s leadership will be crucial for Windy City’s team which won its  last title was in 1998.

So what about the French team? Suspense.

Noah’s poolside paradise

French TV: Out of medal round in Sochi Games

By Justine Soignon

The French fallout of the Sochi Olympic Games goes like this. The Sochi stars weren’t the athletes at all. They were instead the journalists and commentators working for France Télévisions. During two weeks, viewers made fun of their performances. And the constant taunts were justified.

“I’m watching the Sochi Olympics on Russian TV. I don’t understand anything but, at least, I don’t hear Patrick Montel’s comments.” This was a current joke on social networks. This one singled out  Mr. Montel, but criticism spared no one. Lionel Chamoulaud, Gérard Holtz, Jean-René Godart, Nelson Monfort and Philippe Candeloro –  everybody got a severe telling-off. Opinion polls flourished on the Internet unanimously panning the journalists. Viewers called them everything from “old-fashioned,” “vague,” “over-patriotic,”  and “heavy-handed” to even “sexists.”

Worst, the numerous blunders merited the complaints.  Mr. Montel distinguished himself exulting in his interview with Anais Bescond announcing her a medalist. In the end, two competitors exceeded the young woman, putting her off the podium. Mr. Monfort didn’t know any rules and completely improvised covering short-track competition. Not forgetting Mr. Candeloro, who delivered to viewers  his very personal comments during women’s figure-skating competition, saying “I know an anaconda which would have loved to bother this Canadian Cleopatra” or “you can tell her that she’s not the only one to be excited; she has a beautiful smile, this ice skater.”

Viewers could be criticized, themselves, for age-discrimination because they moaned about the average age – 56 years – of the presenters. Pierre Fulla, now 76, could have been one of them to face a working over. But the journalist, well-known for his Nagano Olympics coverage in 1998, retired on time. And during the Sochi Olympics, he didn’t hesitate to knock his former colleagues and mused about taking action  “to lodge a complaint against France Télévisions for noise pollution.” To cut a long story short, France TV sports teams should pass the baton.

Unconscious Superiority and Inequality

Paris worker without papers laments, Omar Sy’s  ‘Samba’ movie «too kind with reality» 

By Philippe Lefebvre


He is named Boubakar and comes from Senegal like the hero of Samba, the movie starring Omar Sy. Like Sy’s character, Boubakar struggles to live in Paris without papers. I discovered the situation of Boubakar in November. We watched the movie together at Gaumont Gobelins theater with nearly 80 other people, only to know how closely the fiction resembles reality.

«When you lead a life without papers for ten years, you’re not cool as Omar Sy. To work hard from 5 am to 8 pm (15 hours each day), you age fast. Believe me? Look at my face, at my hands. You think that I am how old?” he questioned me after the movie.

Looking at him, I had the impression of really seeing him for the first time. I noticed his cracked skin, his wrinkles in the corners of his eyes, his white hair. He was 50, 60 years old? I shrugged to say I don’t know.

“43,” he says.


«Samba is a good movie, my friend,” he continued, “but too kind. You understand? And the character of Omar Sy is too clean! Look how he is dressed: his shirts are always white and he has a leather jacket. A leather jacket!

«Do you know how much it cost? I had the same coat for ten years and when it was raining, it was a real sponge!” he chortled, his laughter sounding in the night.

Then, he calmed down, shook his head and said with a deep voice: “You know, in the real life of people without papers, it’s more difficult than this.” 

So, I questioned him about his job. “I’m not an intellectual; I’m a manual worker. I work sometimes in markets, fruits and vegetables, but especially in construction. It’s obviously moonlighting. Painting, plumbing, electricity. You must know how to make everything because it’s necessary to fight really to have some job.

It’s much more difficult than in the movie. The solidarity between immigrants--  it’s not always true. If you are hungry, the others don’t care. You look at your plate first! But you understand fast that you need others to survive.”

This necessary solidarity does not prevent anyone from taking advantage of the others, however. “If you want the believable false residence cards,” began Boubakar, “you have to pay between $800 – 1370 USD (1000 and 1500 euros). And you never know if you will be arrested. Sometimes papers are phony, that depends if the one who you sold them is honest or not.”

                            Part 2 Why live in Paris’ shadows?

Why live in Paris’ shadows?


After 5 stages of the “survivor complex,” how I learned that life REALLY is what you make of it

By Noisette Martel

There is something worse than dying: surviving. In case of deadly events, the public will only hear about the casualties. What about the ones who made it out alive? 

I have looked at death right in the eyes; it happened on August 23, 2013. At that time, I was a student at the University of Balamand in North Lebanon. That particular Friday, a car exploded a few hundred meters from me as I was heading home.

Rebuilding my life after this terrorist attack turned out to be terribly difficult. I became a victim of what is commonly known as the “survivor complex .” The condition can be broken down to five stages: shock, numbness, denial, guilt and depression.


Stage one, the shock was immediate. My body froze and my brain literally stopped processing what was happening all around. Just like a computer would shut down, I disconnected from reality. I just stood there, in the middle of the street with the smoke moving towards me and the people screaming and crying.

Then came the adrenaline rush. My heart rate accelerated considerably and my survival instinct took over to get me to safety. I ran faster than I thought I ever could. Looking back, that rush would have killed me if I had not raced back home. 

Once back to safety, the shock passed and it was time to go numb. I mean that physically as well as mentally. The adrenaline left my body drained and empty; my muscles were aching, my breath deep and heavy. In my mind, no feeling whatsoever.

On the sofa all afternoon, I had my eyes fixed on a vague point, not paying attention to anything. I was a spectator, hidden up there in my head. The numb stage lasted for about two weeks. I could not process what happened. Bewildered, I did not feel like doing anything.  


                                                Read Stages 3, 4, 5 of «survivor complex»

Men in the shadows in the City of Light


Lebanon, 2013