Act Straight and Fly Right


Act Straight and Fly Right !

Now that international sanctions have been lifted in Iran, more and more travel will be destined to and from that country.  And then maybe not for the gay kind.   Iran is one amongst the 79 countries where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by death.  All MENA countries are included in the anti-homosexual list.  One of this morning’s news stories on The Daily Beast is Dana Kennedy’s article, Gay Air France Flight Attendants Say No to Iran.  According to the article:

Air France recently announced that it will resume thrice-weekly flights to Iran from Paris next week after an eight-year hiatus due to international sanctions.

Problems first arose a week ago, when female flight attendants and female pilots were angered by a memo saying they’d have to wear head scarves when exiting the plane in Tehran. Air France, in a compromise negotiated with the unions, eventually agreed to let female flight attendants opt out of the Iran flights if they wanted—without retribution. [1]

So if the females can opt-out, so can they reasoned the gay flight attendants, on the bases of life endangerment.  The airline has not resolved the dispute with this request.  So far more than 15,000 people have signed the petition.  Air Frances policy states that if any crew member refuses to fly to any of their destinations, they are subject to salary decreases and being reprimanded.  Another source wrote:

So far, Air France has given no indication it plans to meet the petitioners’ demands.

In a written reply to FRANCE 24’s request for comment, the company noted that it already flies to a range of countries that “have restrictive legislation regarding homosexuality”, and that none of these routes have presented a problem in the past.

“The cabin crew profession inherently involves working in countries whose cultures and rules are very different from ours,” the airline’s press office said, adding that “Air France management always strives to ensure that staff members work in the safest environment possible”.

Trade unions have not openly rallied behind the petitioners’ demands, though a spokesperson for France’s Union of Civil Aviation Cabin Crews (UNAC) union told French weekly Le Point that the opt-out clause should apply to all workers, “regardless of gender or sexual orientation”.

Unions say Air France cabin crew who refuse to fly a given route are liable to be officially reprimanded and face a salary cut.

Last week, a spokesperson for the cabin crew branch of France’s National Organisation of Autonomous Unions (UNSA PNC) told FRANCE 24 that refusal to work on a route could “damage staff members’ careers and prevent their promotion”. [2]

As I am reading these articles, I cannot help but think about what ever happen to the notion of “don’t ask, don’t tell”.  Is that archaic now days?  Or is that just the US Military’s policy?  A comment on one of the articles mentioned, that Sexual Orientation is not a written disclosure on passports.  So really what is the problem with flying to a destination with a turn around time of several hours to 24 hours? Who needs to know and who cares.  Those countries also have strict rules and customs about interacting with members of the opposite sex as well.  Hotels and apartment buildings can and will interfere with guests of the opposite sex from visiting one’s room and apartment.  Trust my confession as a heterosexual.   So instead of wearing their “I’m Gay and Proud of it” lapel button, the gay flight attendants can wear buttons that declare “Really, I am straight” just as a precaution to save their own lives. Otherwise, who would be the wiser for their sexual orientation?  I have never seen so many men holding hands together, as I had when I worked in the Middle East.  I was forewarned by my former boss that this was not a sign of their homosexuality but just customary for Indian men.  Okay, if you say so.

These countries are just as strict with their moral laws for heterosexuals as well.  What a precedent it will set if the gay flight crew members refuse to go into anti-homosexual territories.  Then the heterosexuals will demand their rights to boycott as well because their freedoms will also be curtailed to various degrees, to be able to rendezvous and mingle with members of the opposite sex. These countries did not just, last week, show up on the earth with their own codes of conduct.  Why is it now a matter of concern for airline personnel?   I would suggest to homosexuals and heterosexuals alike to just consider it a Fast when you are in these countries for 24 hours.  Or change careers if one truly cannot comply with other countries’ culture and customs.  Why go into the international travel business as a career in the first place, if one cannot tolerate or respect foreign diverse cultures?

The same boss, previously mentioned, was the project director for the airports in Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi.  Upon my arrival he offered me some more good advice, “Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore”.  This will only make sense to you if you are familiar with the children’s story, The Wizard of Oz.  So consider OZ as any foreign country with culture and customs different than your own.

It seems to me that these fears are baseless.  I don’t know for a fact but my gut instincts tell me that the number of gay flight attendants that have had their heads chopped off after landing in one of these anti-homosexual countries is zero (0).  So don’t come out of the closet, I mean the plane, in a flaunty gay manner and you should survive.  I think.  Moving on, let’s read more about what Air France thinks:

Air France said it has no plans to change policy in this instance. The airline already flies to nearly 20 other countries that have “restrictive legislation relating to homosexuality,” including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, India and Nigeria, it said in a statement emailed to CNNMoney.

“We have not had any issues in recent years in [these] countries,” it added. “Air France management carries out constant monitoring to ensure that all members of its flight crews can perform their duties in the safest possible conditions.”

Lufthansa (DLAKY) has been flying to Iran for years. A spokesperson for the German carrier told CNNMoney it has never heard about any staff concerns related to homosexual persecution in Iran. [3]

The late Nat King Cole and his daughter, Natalie Cole sang a little catchy song called, Fly Right.  Air France and all other airlines whose staff signed the petition may want to play it on their plane’s intercom and in-flight music choices.  I don’t know what it was supposed to mean, but it somehow seems appropriate for this breaking news.  It goes like this:

A buzzard took the monkey for a ride in the air
The monkey thought that ev’rything was on the square
The buzzard tried to throw the monkey off his back
But the monkey grabbed his neck and said, now, listen, Jack

Straighten up and fly right
Straighten up and fly right
Straighten up and fly right
Cool down papa, don’t you blow your top

Ain’t no use in divin’, what’s the use of jivin’
Straighten up and fly right

Of course, I would change the title of the song to Act Straight and Fly Right.



The Daily Beast, Gay Air France Flight Attendants Say No to Iran by Dana Kennedy

France 24, Middle East section, Air France’s gay stewards join protest of Iran flights by Boris Horvat

CNN, Gay Protest Over Air France Flight to Iran by Alanna Petroff



Mr. Trump would not be the first to be trumped


To be trump or not to be trumped, that is the question I ask of thee

He was a dog of a presidential candidate…an underdog that is.  The publishers for the top 50 American newspapers unanimously predicted that he would lose the race. H Truman campaign His opponent was consistently ahead on all the polls even up to the day of the election.  So confident that he did not have a chance in the dog fight, The Chicago Tribune printed and distributed the front page story announcing his opponent as the winner.  On November 3, 1948, the headliner read “Dewey Defeats Truman.”  Yet, against all odds, Harry S. Truman won the Presidential election of 1948.  But that was not the first time that an underdog candidate became a US President.  He was elected by the popular votes of the voting citizens of the States, as opposed to media moguls or other establishments.  Mr. Trump would not be the first to be trumped.

Back in 1828, the first US president to win by the popular vote of citizens was Andrew Jackson.  Up until that time, the President was elected and voted by the body of Congress.  In the previous election of 1824, although he won the popular vote, the election was overruled by the elite leaders in Congress who handed the plum job to a more suitable, educated, sophisticated, and politically-established John Quincy Adams. . .  

This article is available to members of MENA-Forum only.

Touching story about an all-girl school


The Dash of Zaha Hadid

This week on one of the national news TV stations, I saw a touching story about an all-girl school in Jordan which was already overcrowded.  When all the Syrian refugee girls started showing up, the principal of the school declared that the refugee girls could attend only if they brought their own chairs.  Of which they did.   It did not take long for the girls to feel welcomed and have a sense of belonging.  The atmosphere was prime for learning and making friends.  The following is a touching story about an all-girl school where Zaha Hadid started her life.

Desperately wanting to go to school is not the normal plea of most British, American and Canadian children.  But in the Middle East where oppression is the norm, I can imagine that girls must hunger and thirst for a sense of significance.  I venture to say, their sense of significance is derived by either being supported by their father or marrying well.  Given the chance, they cherish any opportunity for an education…it’s their ticket to a dream-life of independence.

Zaha Hadid was born to a wealthy Muslim family on 31 October 1950 in Baghdad, Iraq. . .

This article is available to members of MENA-Forum only.

Apple Pleaded the Fifth


Still no comment from Apple since the news broke on March 28, 2016 that the FBI was able to unlock the iPhone without the cooperation from Apple. They must still be trying to get their foot out of their mouth.  Yes, you have the right to remain silent.  Anything you say can and will be used against you, Apple.  For the sake of the international readers who are not familiar with the term,

“Pleading the Fifth”, I’ll explain.  Simply put, the US Constitution’s Bill of Rights, 5th Amendment declares the citizen’s right to remain silent and not testify against himself.  In this context, it’s a colloquial expression often used if one doesn’t want to comment, speak or engage in conversation, for example he may sarcastically mutter, “I’m pleading the fifth”.

Oh! wait.  There’s breaking news that Apple did comment after all, according to USA Today, 1:51pm (EST) article, “FBI hacks into terrorist’s iPhone without Apple.“  And here is what they had to say:

“This case should never have been brought,”  Apple said in a statement released late Monday. . . 

This article is available to members of MENA-Forum only.

Data Security Precedent


Not, Apple vs. FBI

Yesterday, Apple unveiled four new products at their headquarters in California.  With the introduction, CEO Tim Cook adamantly declared that he would not “shrink back” from their stance with the Feds in the next day’s court hearing.  Apple has taken an unwavering stance to not cooperate with the FBI, insisting a “master key” creates cybersecurity threats to other iPhone users and accuses the Federal government of overstepping the boundaries of the law.  FBI’s demand might help establish a Data Security Precedent.

Today’s much anticipated court hearing between Apple and the FBI was cancelled yesterday afternoon at the FBI’s request.  Due to the case’s international news coverage and publicity, numerous parties have approached the FBI to offer support and technical aid in hacking the phones of the San Bernardino mass killers.  Thus, the FBI is now working to test the methods with a “third-party” in order to obtain critical evidence from the killer’s phones.  For the time being Apple’s cooperation, input, expertise is not needed.

So what was Apple’s reaction to this?  Hard to believe that Apple’s lawyers wanted to know the identity of the third-party and their methods for hacking the iPhone! They cannot be serious.  Apple refuses to cooperate with the FBI due to their insistence on privacy to consumers and now they want the FBI to reveal the privacy of information to them.  Why should they?  Would that be like Apple overstepping the boundaries of the privacy laws to know?

I wonder how long it will take Apple to realize the absurdity of their hypocrisy in this twist of events.  According to the Bill O’Reilly, commentator of the O’Reilly Factor, he stated that 38% favor Apple’s position and the majority of 62% are siding with the FBI.  Bill Gates clearly advocates with the FBI’s.  Presidential candidate, Donald Trump called for a boycott and ban on all Apple products until the Apple fully cooperates with the law to assist in this terrorist attack.

Last week, the police in Brussels attended the funeral of one of the Paris terrorist suicide bombers not out of paying respect for the killer.  They were there to identify all the families, friends, sympathizers, and conspirators of the deceased terrorist…and by the way to confiscate all their mobile phones.  Which were then able to lead them on the recent raid of Salah Abdeslam.

By coincidence, on the same day that the Apple vs. FBI case was scheduled, this morning there were several ISIS led attacks in Brussels.  Suicide bombers targeted first the airport and then an hour later the subway train claiming the lives of 31 people and wounding 180 others.  Reporting that these attacks are well orchestrated and sophisticatedly planned, it should also be obvious that they are well “communicated”.  I agree phones were a great invention.  There are 6 billion active cell phones in the world and 7.3 billion people.  Granted the majority of people are using their phones for personal and business purposes but when phones are being used as instruments to commit terrorist attacks and murders then they are turned into weapons of mass destruction…or simply weapons.  That would and should also constitute a different treatment by manufacturers and by the law.

There’s an American saying, “too many cooks spoil the broth.”  I heard someone on TV say, “too many Cooks spoil the stew.”  The inference being made for Apple’s CEO, Mr. Tim Cook as the Cooks and the stew could be…

Anyway, you get the idea; like I said before, one rotten apple. [MENA-Forum, One Rotten Apple!, dated Feb. 27, 2016]

And come to think of it I also wrote, “Yes, let’s start with rounding up the Apple phones and products which are obviously being used by terrorist.” [MENA-Forum, Apple Computers vs. FBI, dated March 9, 2016], I wonder if the Brussels police read my article.

Read more on a similar case on Fortune of 25 March 2016.