Saturday, September 19, 2015

Going Places Getting Nowhere

Going Places Getting Nowhere

1. Try To Stay Home

- Do you mind if I share your bench?
- No, sit down. Where are you from?
- I've been here many years. Originally I'm from Europe.
- From Italy?
- Yes. Where are you from?
- I'm from here. Though I just got back 10 days ago.
- From where?
- I've been in Europe most of the last 20 years. This time I was away about a year and a half.
- Where were you?
- Budapest, then Tel Aviv.
- What were you doing?
- Writing little stories and looking for a practical basis of life and not finding it.
- Doesn't sound good.
- It was terrible. From an economic point of view. But that's the wrong point of view.
- What's the right one?
- Artistic, emotional, intellectual, actually any point of view other than the economic.
- Everyone has to live.
- Well, in the economic world I live in everyone definitely doesn't have to live. I don't have to live. That's the message the world sends me. I have to live my life on another basis.
- How's that possible? You shouldn't talk that way. Everyone deserves to live. How are you living? Where have you living these past 10 days?
- It's a ridiculous, long story. Do you want to hear it?
- Yes, tell me. I don't often meet people like you.
- Well, first, I was in Tel Aviv and wanted to come home.
- Why?
- I was homesick. I was sick of Israel.
- Why?
- It's a terrible place.
- You had a terrible time there. Why?
- Because Israelis use money to isolate themselves from each other. No one needs to care about anyone or anything but acquiring and holding onto money. It's a catastrophe of human nature. Israelis are blind to each other except as sources of money and power. The human being has vanished.
- I find that very interesting. It explains my experience with Israelis here in Beverly Hills. So you wanted to come home.
- Yes. But I didn't have connections here in L.A. anymore. My family is at war with me. The only person I knew was a childhood friend and one year college roommate who I had lost contact with long ago. I looked him up and called his office in North Hollywood - he's a doctor - but he wouldn't come to the phone. Finally he talked with me. I told him I had to come home, and needed a place to go to. After a lot of protest he finally said, OK, call him when I arrived.  When I arrived three days later and called him at his office he refused to come to the phone.
- So you had no place to stay? And he didn't care?
- That's the economic world. In that world, no one cares about anything except in their spare time. It's not just Israel. Israel is the extremity the rest of the world is moving towards.
- Then what did you do? Where did you sleep?
- I didn't sleep. I spent the night at a 24 hour restaurant in Westwood. The next day I was on the way to see if the Chinese woman I used to teach English to still lived in Beverly Hills when I saw outside a temple down one street a security guard, a sort of philosopher, I'd talked to a few times. I went over and said hello, told him my story, and he said go talk to the rabbi, here's here: he's the top guy, the most powerful rabbi in the city.
- Is that true?
- Probably. It is the richest temple in the city, with its congregation of Jews from Iran who took out all their money and escaped before the revolution. The rabbi was in the temple, sitting on one of the audience benches, and I went over. Explained my situation. He said, what do you want me to do about it? I said I was from this place, and was coming home, and wanted some help to do that. What could he do, he asked? Did I want money? No, I wanted to be treated as what I was. I wanted to believe there was some civilization here, where when someone returns home he is welcomed back in some form. The rabbi looked at me like I was a lunatic and said nothing. Then he said, look around, we're all old people here. Young rabbis will be coming in a little while. Wait. I went outside and waited. In a few minutes first one man, then another, then another came up to me where I stood before the door to the temple, asked me who I was. All three turned out to be rabbis. When the most powerful rabbi in the city came out the rabbis went over to him. The big rabbi simply pointed at me, and throwing out his fingers signaled they should go back to me and take care of the the problem I represented. So they came back, and asked me what I wanted them to do. I repeated what I'd already said. Come to their sport and cultural center they operated, the old YMCA, they told me, at 7:30 that evening.
- And you went.
- Yes. They were having a festival for little kids, hundreds of them were milling about in and out of the rooms. The rabbis were there, gave me tea, a sandwich, told me to wait. At around midnight, the kids had gone home, and I was invited into the office, where were the three rabbis from the temple, and the grey bearded head rabbi of this center. The head rabbi proceeded to interrogate me. Was I a child molester? A criminal? Why was I in Beverly Hills, not New York? What happened to my family? I answered all the questions, showed them a background report on me from the same agency employers and landlords use, a cafe acquaintance had paid for the report when she wanted me to work for her a couple years ago and sent me a copy of it. At the end, the meeting broke up without resolution. One of the rabbis asked me if I knew of a cheap hotel in the neighborhood, he'd pay out of his own pocket for night, it was almost 1 in the morning by this time.
- Did the rabbi pay?
- Yes.
- So they're not so bad.
- The next night once more I stopped by the center. Another one of the three rabbis was there. I told him if he really wanted to talk with a member of my family, I'd found the mobile phone number of my brother in New Jersey. Did he want to call? He did. I listened to their conversation on the speaker:
- This is rabbi Yossi in Beverly Hills. There's a man here, he says his name is Rex. Do you know any Rex?
- Yes.
- He says he's your brother. Do you have a brother by that name?
- I do
.- So this man here is your brother?
- I have a brother named Rex. But I don't know if he is there. How does he look?
- He has grey hair.
- Does he look Ok?
- Yes, he looks Ok. Can I ask you some questions?
- Yes
.- Is there anything we should know about him?
- Like what?
- He's told us he's just returned to L.A. and doesn't know any one here. Is that true?
- I haven't seen him in ten years. It could be true
.- Is there anything we should know about him?
- If you want to know if he is violent or steals, the answer is no.
.- You and he have the same mother and father?
- Yes, that's correct.
.- This situation is difficult to understand. You don't seem very interested. Why aren't you interested in him if you really are his brother?
- I got tired of him.
- You got tired of your brother?
- Yes.
- Why, if as you say he doesn't do anything wrong?
- He gets angry sometimes.
.- And does what?
- Says hurtful things.
- Says hurtful things?
- Yes.
.- What do you recommend we do?
- I couldn't say.
- There's nothing more you want to tell me?
- No.
- What did the rabbi decide?
- Not to do anything.
- Where did you go?
- The 24 hour restaurant.
- All night?
- No, I met there a piano teacher who used to give his lessons at a church near where I was living 2 years ago.  He was having dinner with a couple a girls, students of his. He asked me what I was up to, I told him, he wished me good luck, and left. But he returned a little later, and said come to his house for the night.
- That was lucky.
- Yes. The next night, it was the 24 hour restaurant again.
- You can't live that way.
- No. But the day after, the piano teacher came to find me at my usual Starbucks, said he'd decided to pay for a couple nights at a hotel for me. I slept through those days and nights, and when they were up was walking by the Jewish center on the way to Westwood when the rabbis outside asked me in to join in the prayers. This kid was there now they'd suggested I meet before, but who I hadn't be able to reach by phone or email. I ended up staying with that kid that night. The next night he wasn't home, so it was the 24 hour restaurant.
- What about the Rabbis?
- What about them?
- They won't help you?
- There's nothing in it for them.
- What are you going to do?
- I can always go back to Israel.
- I thought you hated it there?
- I was homesick so I came home. I'm glad to be here. But it is an economic world here, and as I said, I don't live in that world. That world doesn't want me, and I don't want it. I can't ask what is impossible.
- But you said it was the same in Israel.
- It is. It's worse. But here the economic world is actively at war with its competition, the human worlds. You can't live here without money or a place to live. You'll be preyed on by the violent, both by violent officials and the violent for the hell of it. Israel is not at that point.
- You should try to stay here. It's your home.
- I'm trying.


2. A Place Of Their Own In Other People's Places

- Who was that guy you were talking to? It sounded like you were mentoring him. I do that myself.
- No, just met him. I saw him at Ralphs last night after seeing him here at the café, said hello, and he told me about his life.
- What did he say?
- His life was going about looking for a place for himself in other people's places. The first place was a Zen Buddhist monastery, across the street from the aged Filipino woman he was taking care of in Hilo, on the big Island of Hawaii. He hung out for years there at the monastery. Then he had some legal difficulties with the ethnic Hawaiians, and switched to hanging out around the Hilo courthouse, the only place he felt safe from the police. He became an expert in local crime. Then he returned to the mainland and lived, he claims, six months in the San Francisco airport.
- Why?
- He said he was afraid people wanted to hurt him. Then he spent another six months living out of an administration building of the University Of California at Berkeley, until he got caught and charged with trespassing. A public interest lawyer he found got him off, and he came down to L.A. He's been hanging out at Malibu, attending the Habad Center there. The rabbi had agreed to help him convert to Judaism and go live in Israel at a Yeshiva. He was copying the entire bible by hand so as to memorize it.
- What did he get angry with you about? Sorry, I didn't mean to eaves-drop...
- I pointed out that he kept talking about Jesus, and about himself as someone chosen by fate to be a significant religious force, and that this didn't look much like Judaism to me, rather it looked like ego mania. He began insulting me and I asked him to leave.
- There's a lot like him around here.
- What about you? What do you do? Are you also a messiah?
- No. I have several projects I'm developing.
- What kind of projects?
- Music, movies, a hedge fund, many things. An entire conglomerate actually. I've put it into lockdown now while I get my life in order.
- While you're hanging around here. Ok. It's really a remarkable crew that passes the nights at this Starbucks. Do you know any of them?
- I keep to myself, do my own things.
- They do too, mostly. In front of me is the computer programmer, in a moment you see him go into his routine of wrist twitching, finger pulling and joint cracking. At the far right corner is an old con artist who acts like he is my friend. He tried to trick me out of 500 dollars when I returned from Europe a couple of years ago. Around the corner in the other room is the grey bearded man being treated at the University hospital whose medical expenses ruined him. Ahead of you is the black family, mother, father, two teen aged daughters, who work quietly at their table on their individual projects.
- What kind?
- I don't know. At the window is the Russian, or maybe only Russian reading man who spends his days at the UCLA library, nights here, also sometimes in a sleeping bag in a doorway on Westwood Blvd. Three or four women regularly spending their nights in village doorways come in here as well. I'm sure you've seen them. They don't talk to anyone.
- They talk to themselves.
- Yes. There's the guy who never takes off his ear speakers, and is writing a screenplay, seems to live somewhere hidden on the UCLA campus. There's the black guy who sits smoking outside giving everyone provoking hostile looks. Last night a woman sleeping on the street began screaming Help! Someone called the police. This smoking provocateur was throwing garbage at here while she tried to sleep. He didn't even bother to leave. The police came and took both him and the woman away. More people stay here, but enough for now, right?
- I was the one who called the police. Are you going to put me on your list?
- Do you think you belong? What they all have in common is their great similarity to the orthodoxy of our world.
- They're victims of the powerful. The government gives them free food and no place to live so they can scare the rest of us into conformity.
- They do the work of scare crows. And like scare crows resemble real men and woman, so these people on the street resemble those they are meant to scare. What they have in common is their attachment to social role, despite the fact that in their present way of life there is no one along with them up on stage, and in fact, there is no stage either. I'll tell you what I mean. In the last week, there have been two more scandals about UCLA. Scandals are nearly continuous these days. The first was the hospital being fined 250,000 dollars by the state of California for endangering the lives of their patients through negligence. It seems that in one out of every three thousand operations surgeons leave inside the bodies of their patients a sponge or towel or some instrument or other object. That is ten times the state average, with most hospitals reporting no cases at all.
- The surgeons are in a hurry to move on to their next operation.
- That's what the nurses I talked to about it said. The other scandal isn't even reported. At the California Nanoscience Institute there is one out of only two in the world x ray microscopes which can make three dimensional images at the atomic level, can actually see molecules. Though developed by public funding, maybe in the billions of dollars, it is being rented out exclusively to drug companies to do research at the price of 200 dollars an hour.
- About the cost of a cheap car repair.
- Yes. I've told you about these things because I want to make a point: the overnighters here at Starbucks each have their role, they'll tell you about it if you ask. Some are messiahs, others, many others actually, are writers and filmmakers. We think there is something pathetic about this self conception they have because no one else in the world has a role to play with them, to give the writers a job, the messiah a people to save, whatever. And they don't have any regular place they live to perform their roles in. But look at the UCLA surgeons and scientist administrators. Surgeon is supposed to be functioning with patient, scientific administrator with the California public. Instead the surgeons treat their patents like disposable garbage bags and the scientific administrators are no different than the con artist I pointed out to you. The con man doesn't run from me, the man attacking the woman on the street for the fun of it doesn't run from the police, because there is no place they are performing their role in. They don't live anywhere. They can play their solitary role anywhere. But if the people here overnight don't have a stable place to play their roles, neither do the surgeon and administrator. They couldn't be scared so easily if they did by the show of these scare crows wandering the village and campus. Administrators and surgeons know no one is really safe. That's why they go for the money in the first place. The real difference between the people down here at the cafe and those up at the university is possession of property, and property can easily be taken away.


3. What's In A Name

- Hi.
- Sit down.
- Ok. Have you seen Donny?
- Donny is the old guy? No, not since this morning. Why do you ask? Did he make you a business proposal?
- How did you know?
- I should have warned you. You didn't give him any money?
- What should you have warned me about?
- A few years ago he was working as a professional confidence man. I know because he tried his tricks on me. He saw me sitting with my computer in at the cafe window, came in, asked me if I was a writer and if I was, did I want a probationary job writing a TV serial at minimum wage. I said yes, of course. He said he was in the Producers Guild and could only hire writers in the Writers Guild. Was I in the Writers Guild? I was not. No problem, his lawyer's office was just around the corner from the Guild; he'd call him and send him over to buy for me a temporary membership, $500 instead of the regular $2,500, and I'd be hired there and then. Let's go to the ATM and get my money.
- You didn't give it to him?
- Didn't have it, and wouldn't if I had. But he was good, very good. Something in me wanted to believe. He taunted me, told me I'd regret this, I was missing a chance of a lifetime, my doubts pathetic weakness, my irresolution contemptible.
- But last night you were sitting down at the same table as him as if nothing had happened.
- He pretends we just met. I let him.
- He said he'd get me a job managing a hedge fund and I'd be making $50,000 a month.
- I doubt he has a dollar in his pocket. You know, last night at the café is the last for us. They're closing the terrace.
- Really? They're taking in the tables?
- Yes. This morning I overhead the policeman who comes at closing ask them if they wanted him to clear everyone off the terrace.
- What did Starbucks say?
- No.
- Why?
- People living on the street must serve some function if they are allowed to accumulate in such visible numbers. After all, we live in a society whose god is efficiency and profit. Coming in here I stopped when I saw a new guy. The security guard looked to see what I was looking at. She pitied them, she said, these people, we were all only one step from sleeping on the street.
- The job they do is scare people.
- That's my conclusion.  Too much tolerance defeats the purpose: the powers that be don't want objects of their tolerance enjoying themselves with the Starbucks terrace to themselves in the middle of night.
- If they enjoy themselves they don't scare anyone.
- Exactly. Thus the rules must be changed. The rules are changing everywhere in the neighborhood. The university seems to have hired a police informer, a tall long bearded foreigner about 60 years old who rides a skateboard in the middle of the night. He claims to be Scandinavian but if you ask which country he won't say.
- I haven't seen him. How does he talk?
- I can't identify his accent. Perhaps South American. I've seen him many times in many places late at night riding his skateboard. He's generally in a hurry, not friendly. But a couple nights ago he skated right up to me and said, Hey, I was looking for you. You look like a bohemian, like someone who'd knows things I need to know. I got evicted last night from my studio. Can you tell me where I can crash on the street?
- What did you say?
- I said I couldn't help him and he shouldn't do it. He said why not, it wasn't forever, looked at in the right light it was romantic. I said if he tried it he'd find himself being hunted 24 hours a day, always on someone else's property, in a permanent fight with the world and his own building paranoia. And tonight, as I walked here a woman who sleeps in a doorway on Weyburn called out my name and demanded, why don't I get a job?
- How did she know your name?
- Don't know. A few days earlier a habitué of the research library who'd always waved off my attempts at conversation did the same thing, practically chased after me saying he'd forgotten my name, what was my name, would I tell him? I expect this dining area here at the market soon will be closed too.
- This is making me uncomfortable. How do all these people live?
- They keep track of cultural events where they can get free food, they know the library's where they can get some sleep during the day, and where's to be found the strongest wifi...
- So the University hires old bearded spies, and businesses in Westwood are pulling back on their tolerance. This because the people living on the street weren't frightening enough. Too many of them were smart enough to keep themselves alive and not die promptly and publicly.
- At Starbucks last night there was you, recent University graduate, employed part time. Me, reader who claims to write. Donny, elderly confidence man. And the Tunisian refuge waiting on a visa to Australia. No drug addicts or alcoholics. Neat and presentable all.
- Not dying to order.
- We're disappointments. Now, do you want to know what I think is most interesting about this situation?
- What?
- You, me, the con-artist, the Tunisian, we don't know each other and we aren't ever going to know each other.
- But you know all about us!
- Observation goes with the job.
- The job of writing?
- Thinking. The writing's just for the Internet. What I wanted to say is we live in a society of doing for the sake of doing. Nothing is respected but producing and profiting from what is produced. Only technical skill and achievement. But skill and achievement for what? For its own sake. And if you look at this little group of ours you see the same thing: people who have skillfully managed what you'd think were intolerable circumstances and making what looks like a lark out of it, a romantic vacation.
- Gathered together on our private middle-of-the-night Starbucks terrace.
- Yes. We too are doers for the sake of doing. Working not to make profit upon profit we can't use, but working profitlessly simply keeping ourselves alive.
- What's wrong with that?
- The Tunisian is well up on political theory. He is in favor of direct democracy, is against any form of representative government. He asked, was I interested in politics, what did I think? I agreed with him that only community decision making was safe from representatives using their power against the people who they were supposed to represent. But democracy was only a sharing of power. It was always in the interest of some to jump ship, form a faction and force themselves on the people. This would always happen as long as people only thought of their power, their ability to do things.
- What else should politics be concerned with?
- With why we wanted power to do things. With the reasons we become so expert with our techniques. With what we do things for.
- And that is?
- Our relations to people and the world. Our loves, our sense of beauty, of truth, goodness.
- Abstractions.
- Realities. There is nothing more abstract and senseless than doing things without being able to say what you are doing them for.
- What did the Tunisian say?
- Human nature was bad, so maybe I was right. I said No, our nature was both good and bad. When we know ourselves better we can take steps to protect ourselves from unwanted political developments.
- Give me an example of what we can know.
- Two examples: hoarding and employment both predestine any politics to totalitarianism. But we'll get into this some other time. What I want to say is that our defunct middle of the night Starbucks society was a microcosm of the society at large, we too were politics without knowledge. We were extremely efficient people with nothing in common, were even former antagonists, who had established the most efficient society possible in the circumstances but had no real relation or knowledge of each other. No sympathy, friendship, admiration, nothing. Or do you not agree?
- I agree. You don't even know my name, do you?
- I don't.


4. Migrant Minds

The Atrophy Of Good 

- Everything alright?
- Fine. Why do you ask?
- It's been a while since our last conversation. Last month* you proposed that like there was atrophy of muscles and memory in their disuse, so there was an atrophy of good.
- You wonder if I've atrophied. You're welcome to test me.
- Then I will. Here's my question: Is the same true of societies as for individuals? Is there an atrophy good in a society? I've been reading the Scottish Enlightenment philosopher Adam Ferguson who seems to have thought so. His 1757 book is called Essay on the History Of Civil Society. I've marked a few passages:​
There have certainly been very few examples of states, who have, by
arts of policy, improved the original dispositions of human nature, or
endeavoured, by wise and effectual precautions, to prevent its
corruption. Affection, and force of mind, which are the band and the
strength of communities, were the inspiration of God, and original
attributes in the nature of man. The wisest policy of nations, except
in a few instances, has tended, we may suspect, rather to maintain the peace of society, and to repress the external effects of bad passions, than to strengthen the disposition of the heart itself to justice and goodness. It has tended, by introducing a variety of arts, to exercise the ingenuity of men, and by engaging them in a variety of pursuits, inquiries, and studies, to inform, but frequently to corrupt the mind. It has tended to furnish matter of distinction and vanity; and by incumbering the individual with new subjects of personal care, to substitute the anxiety he entertains for a separate fortune, instead of the confidence and the affection with which he should unite with his fellow creatures, for their joint preservation.
If to any people it be the avowed object of policy in all its internal
refinements, to secure only the person and the property of the
subject, without any regard to his political character, the
constitution indeed may be free, but its members may likewise become unworthy of the freedom they possess, and unfit to preserve it.
 
But, apart from these considerations, the separation of professions,
while it seems to promise improvement of skill, and is actually the
cause why the productions of every art become more perfect as commerce advances; yet, in its termination and ultimate effects, serves, in some measure, to break the bands of society, to substitute mere forms and rules of art in place of ingenuity, and to withdraw individuals from the common scene of occupation, on which the sentiments of the heart, and the mind, are most happily employed.
That last sentence has the most weight for me. Specialization, the division of labor, tends to corrupt the mind: make people selfish, self absorbed, and vain of their power within their speciality. Without deliberate attempt to strengthen the disposition of heart to justice and goodness society atrophies. Do you think he was right?
- A muscle atrophies by poisoning itself, one chemical process interfering with another. Is there a parallel in society? Looking at our times, is there some regular process in which one part is poisoned by the other? Is the free market the poisoning mechanism?
- Many people say so. The free market creates conditions that make a good life, a life of confidence and affection, more difficult. People even say that the disruption of everyday life is deliberate: market societies deliberately start wars, grant unpayable loans, cause economic depressions, so as later to move in, cheaply pick up the pieces, increase their market share acquiring businesses and properties.
- A market society, letting good atrophy, deliberately poisons itself, together with the soon to be incorporated world around it.
- Yes. So the argument goes.
- And like the invisible hand of the market place in which everyone seeking their own advantage is, it's claimed, to the advantage of all, this process of poisoning also is automatic?
- Yes. Market society makes a life doing good difficult or impossible, which incapacity opens further markets to the society of trade, making life of doing good even more difficult. Wouldn't a good example would be today's news, the mass migration of refugees from war-torn Syria towards Germany? Market society creates huge disorder with two big wars, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, and refugees stream from newly opened war zones out to market society's home territory, to Germany, Europe's most powerful market society. Along their way in Hungary the migrants encounter mistreatment by the market society's own home grown disruption, neo-fascist anti-immigration political parties. The German government is now showing signs of willingness accept the migrants for the very sake of creating further internal disruption, a new labor pool to lower the wages of workers, the cost of the surplus migrants presence paid mostly by workers themselves who unlike the rich can't bribe the government to lower their taxes. The surplus remain in the country as internal, eternal migrants, forced to move place to place, no place their own, functioning like the American army of the dying on the street as a source of permanent fright and disruption of everyday life.
- How can a process like that be automatic?
- The disruption is restricted to economic realms that are still uncontrolled: local businesses not yet taken over by a chain store, undeveloped countries invaded militarily or their markets conquered by import of subsidized grain. The desire for profit, and the ability to control government war making and subsidies, bring the rest.
- An automatic process in which government in control of big business creates disruption, inside the country and out, which disruption creates conditions of expansion. And expansion brings progressive atrophy of good.
- Which I, doing all the talking, was supposed to be testing you on.
- But giving you the exercise, saving you from atrophy, wasn't that good of me?


Migrants Local & International

- This time I'll do all the talking. The international migrant crisis happening in Europe does in fact closely parallel the local crisis happening with the street dying here in Westwood Village. Three of the largest corporate owned businesses in the U.S. - Starbucks, Ralphs Grocery (Kroger Corp.), Target Department Stores - have recently been overrun by those who die on the streets. One large group sleeps on the sidewalk directly in front of the department store's main entrance. This situation developed because the formerly tolerant beach city Santa Monica adopted the policy of sending their police to wake the street sleepers every hour, with the result that they moved to neighboring Westwood Village. Starbucks was the first to take action: formerly open 24 hours (this is said to be the busiest Starbucks in the country), they began closing for two hours between 2 and 4 AM to force the street sleepers to sleep in the street and not their store. When the street sleepers simply moved outside to the terrace, Starbucks closed the terrace. The street sleepers then slept under the marque of the historic movie theater next door. The police were called in to clear them out. Meanwhile the expelled had been gradually moving over to the dining area of the Ralphs 24 hour open supermarket. Ralphs in response began closing the dining area 2 hours in the middle of the night, then closing from 2-6 AM, and then, after Starbucks and the movie theater had taken action, hiring new security guards who suddenly appeared early in the evening and ordered everyone out. These policies had immediate effect. Within a couple of days almost all the foreign street sleepers were gone, the Westwood Village ones remaining. The articles on the international crisis I read this morning all pointed out that Germany, different from the other EU countries, had both a large budget surplus and an aging population, putting the economics clearly in favor of taking in immigrants. No similar safe harbor exists for the American street sleepers, said to be over one million now, about one third former soldiers. The French government issued a statement yesterday that the cause of the refugee crisis should be addressed: the persecution of minorities in Syria. No one in authority talked about what was behind that persecution, the US and NATO's Middle Eastern wars, just as in Westwood Village there is no chance the corporations will take responsibility for bribing the government into economics leading to breakdown of families and people dying on the street.