Miscelleaneous Miscellany: Its a Complex World.Or Is It?

17 Aug

Colbert, Stewart and now Key & Peele

One of the art world’s more significant confabs is the Venice Biennale.This year the gathering took a decidedly political direction:

…In building the archive, and a related project called “The Guantanamo Effect,” Ghani (Mariam Ghani, an Afghan-American artist based in Brooklyn, N.Y. explained: “We noticed that ideas, policies and personnel circulated among all the different U.S.-run prisons in the world. So, first you have U.S. corrections officers and U.S. policemen who are deployed as military police to Afghanistan when they’re called up in the National Guard Reserves. They end up in Abu Ghraib, they end up in Bagram,” sites of horrible prisoner abuse and torture. “Ultimately, the policies, the techniques and now even the military equipment circulate back into the U.S., into our domestic sphere,” she continued. “It’s become extremely visible with the recirculation of military surplus equipment from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan into domestic police departments and even into school police departments. We saw this extremely visibly in Ferguson, Missouri.”

HE’s no Bo

Bo Knows

The Gulf

The Gulf

Excerpt from The Gulf edited by Andrew Ross (O/R Books)

The roaring wealth of the Persian Gulf states derives from high-yield petroleum reservoirs far beneath the desert sands. But the lustrous towers and grand villas that support the de luxe lives of the region’s elites are not the direct result of slow organic decomposition underground. The gleaming cityscapes of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha, and Bahrain are being assembled, at boomtown speed, from the hard-pressed labor of armies of migrant workers from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, and, increasingly, North and East Africa. Bound to an employer by the kafala sponsorship system, the laborers arrive, heavily indebted from recruitment and transit fees, only to find that their Gulf Dream has been a mirage1 [see footnotes at end of excerpt]. Typically, the sponsoring employer takes their passports, houses them in substandard labor camps, pays them much less than they were promised, and enforces a punishing work regimen under the hot desert sun. Most of them find ways to endure the exploitation, but many fall prey to suicide, or die from overwork or the heat. If they voice their complaints or protest publicly, they are arrested, beaten, and deported.

More from The Gulf

The Gulf states are hardly alone in their dependence on tragically underpaid and ill-treated migrant workers. Every developed and fast developing country has its own record of shame. But these nations are in a league of their own. The opulent lifestyle of a minority—composed of citizens and corporate expats—is maintained by a vast majority (up to 90 percent in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar) who function as a servant class, with no rights and very little mobility, and whose compliant labor is secured through the fear of abuse and deportation. Their plight is so acute that, in recent years, the push to reform the cruel kafala system (instituted as a temporary guest program in the early 1970s) has become an international cause.

By the end of 2014, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), was facing down a flood of overseas pressure to dismantle the kafala system. Spearheaded by Human Rights Watch, more than 90 human rights groups, many from the workers’ countries of origin, signed a call for wide-ranging reforms of labor migration policies. Following allegations by the International Trade Union Confederation of “exploitative practices that may amount to forced labour,” the International Labor Organization (ILO) launched an official investigation of the UAE.3 Amnesty International released a report, titled There is No Freedom Here, on the treatment of political dissenters in the Emirates.4 In response to the soaring death toll among the Nepalese working on Doha’s construction spree, FIFA, the global football federation, was hotly petitioned by its European members to insist on labor reforms as a condition of Qatar’s hosting the 2022 World Cup.5 Investigative journalists from leading media organizations routinely filed front-page stories about the human cost of importing a workforce so vulnerable to abuse…

And at the Venice Biennale the Gulf Labor Coalition exhorts

The Gulf Labor Coalition panel at the 2015 Venice Biennale on July 29 (all photos by Andrea Avezzù, courtesy la Biennale di Venezia)

The Gulf Labor Coalition panel at the 2015 Venice Biennale on July 29 (all photos by Andrea Avezzù, courtesy la Biennale di Venezia)

“Most of [the workers] discover at their arrival that they will be paid much less than expected and have their passport confiscated by the recruitment agency, which is an illegal procedure anywhere in the world,” explained a representative of the International Trade Union of Building Workers (ITUBC). He went on to describe the Gulf nations as an open prison for migrant workers: “In Qatar also many migrants workers are building the facilities for the FlFA World Cup, which will be held in 2022, in the same conditions as those in Abu Dhabi. Like the Guggenheim and the Louvre do, FIFA claims that the security and well-being of the workers are the local government’s responsibility.”

Ichiro Ties Ty

As far as I can tell the only thing smug Whole Foods CEO Mackey is correct about is the “Whole Foods, Whole Paycheck” joke is as stale as his reactionary views. Would have been to much to ask him about the various thumbs-on-the-scale Whole Foods stands accused of?Though generally credited as a good place to work, there is this kind of thing which is just ugly. Judge for yourself as Historian Mackey
offers self serving analysis and pretzel logic

Position player pitches to Orioles pitcher

Of the things I want to know about the US President, his reading list and Spotify play list are not among those.

RIP Julian Bond

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