Today I was doing my usual surfing around "the net" and from my previous blogs y'all know what that means. I end up on a wacky circuitous drive down the internet highway and I never know where I am going to end up.
Having just watched the amazing Spike Lee documentary "When the Levees Broke" this past weekend. I decided to see what some of my favorite "non-right wing" news websites were writing about on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina sinking New Orleans. Rewinding a bit, if you can get the chance to see Spike Lee's documentary, I suggest you watch it. It is an incredible piece and I think one of his best works ever. It is at times heartbreaking to watch. I had to keep getting up to find kleenex. The interviews with famous jazz musicians, leaders, black leaders, regular people on the street, are so incredible it will put you through a whole range of emotions. You will find yourself shaking your head and wondering why on earth and how on earth GW Bush is still President of the US.
Anyway......I thought to myself "hmmm, I should check out "Mother Jones" site as I have not checked it out in a while. I was reading the "special coverage" page on Katrina and deciding on which of the articles to read first when out of the corner of my eye I noticed an animated "ad" for another Mother Jones article.
What caught me was the catch phrases to get you to click on the animation and take you to the article: "Worlds largest theme park....Biggest Mall.....Tallest Building.....Despotic Ruler....Indentured Labour.....Dubai....Welcome to Paradise" these words are animated across the artistic rendering of what the Dubai skyline will look like in 2008 when the 'Burj Dubai' (worlds tallest building) is completed by 2008 . Now, I don't mind if Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum wants to invest and spend gazillions of his dollars to build a city that is essentially Disney World in the dessert or as the article suggests putting up buildings like "Donald Trump tripping on acid" but I do mind the not so nice reality of that old 18th century thinking that indentured labour is okay. Even more shocking the use of women as sex slaves and the use of child labour. As the article states: Dubai lifestyles are attended by vast numbers of Filipina, Sri Lankan, and Indian maids, while the building boom is carried on the shoulders of an army of poorly paid Pakistanis and Indians working twelve-hour shifts, six and half days a week, in the blast-furnace desert heat.
Dubai, like its neighbors, flouts ILO labor regulations and refuses to adopt the international Migrant Workers Convention. Human Rights Watch in 2003 accused the Emirates of building prosperity on "forced labor." Indeed, as the British Independent recently emphasized in an exposÃ© on Dubai, "The labour market closely resembles the old indentured labour system brought to Dubai by its former colonial master, the British."
"Like their impoverished forefathers," the paper continued, "today's Asian workers are forced to sign themselves into virtual slavery for years when they arrive in the United Arab Emirates. Their rights disappear at the airport where recruitment agents confiscate their passports and visas to control them"
Can it be true or is it just another attempt by the lefties and left wing media to bring down yet another succesful businessman? Cause, according to the Sheiks own website, where you can read his poetry and share his "vision" (he appears to be marketing himself as the Anthony Robbins of the Middle East) it states: Through leadership, vision and innovation, Sheikh Mohammed hopes to guide the people of Dubai, the United Arab Emirates and, indeed, the Middle East, toward a brighter future. That's great! This guy can't possibly be the ruler of a country that is abusing workers as all the investigative reporting states. How can it be so. I will let you read the article and check out the Sheiks website yourself and draw your own conclusions. I can only say that I am leaning toward the "left wing media" on this one. The ending paragraph of the article says it best.... "Yet the future that he is building in Dubai -- to the applause of billionaires and transnational corporations everywhere -- looks like nothing so much as a nightmare of the past: Walt Disney meets Albert Speer on the shores of Araby."
I do want to throw a big "F---K YOU" to the likes of Rod Stewart and David Beckham for supporting this despot (David Beckham owns a beach front property on Dubai and Rod Stewart, an island (rumored, in fact, to be named Great Britain)). I guess they both really, really, really, want to forget their working class British upbringing. You would hope that when folks like that start making oodles of cash that they would try to remember where they came from and do something to make the world a better place rather then supporting a country where there is forced labour and forced child labour to boot. Ooooops, guess I just gave away which way my thinking really is leaning towards on this issue, as if there was a doubt.
Quote of the Day:
Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question,
'Is it politic?' But conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?' And there
comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic,
nor popular but because conscience tells one it is right.Â
Martin Luther King Jr.