Sunday, July 31, 2005

I Remember Jessica McClure

She's Fine, Her Rescuer Isn't

Jessica and Rescuer

TV News coverage of disastrous events has its way of being
connected to memories of our previous 'lives'.
In a 'previous life' in 1987 I was working in a Paramus, New Jersey
hotel that was under total renovation, so I spent approx. 7 out of 8
hours at work just watching TV at the Front Desk.
The non-stop Live coverage of Baby Jessica McClure trapped for
58 hours in a well in Midland, Texas in '87 etched its way into the
memories of American parents and viewers like myself. It really got
to me (since I had nothing better to do at work). What a surge of joy
for all of us when Jessica was rescued by that heroic policeman !
18 years later I'm now in Houston Texas as I learn of the bizarre
follow-up to this event, as reported by the Houston Chronicle via
Bob Campbell/ the Midland Reporter-telegram
P.S. This story is not without ongoing controversy and coverage

"Megapolis Hopes Go Down That Clogged Drain."

Monsoon dampens Mumbai's reputation
Three days after being hit by one of the worst spells of monsoon
rain, the reputation of India's financial capital Mumbai (Bombay)
as a dynamic economic powerhouse has taken a beating.
One of India's leading business dailies, the Economic Times,
put it bluntly: "Megapolis Hopes Go Down That Clogged Drain."
It continues: "Any aspirations, illusions or fond daydreams for
standing up to some of the biggest and best global cities have now
been crashed into smithereens."

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Air India Employee's Report

Sympathies and prayers for Manny DÁbrew of Air India
who sent in this tragic account from Mumbai:

Hi Guys
Just a few lines to let you know how bad the situation in Bombay was.

Life came to a complete halt, and nothing was working for two days.
No electricity, no trains, no phones (including the cell phones)

The streets of Bombay were rivers of DEATH.

We lost a friend’s sister in a drowning case. She and a friend went
into the watchman’s cabin along with two watchmen, to shelter from
the rain, but the rain water rose so fast that they got submerged, and
drowned. Real Sad!

16 people who decided to stay in their cars, got drowned, when the
water submerged their cars. In the Air-India colony at Santa Cruz (east)
all the ground floor flats were under water, as the water rose till the
first floor. Two families died in their ground floor flats as they could not
get out in time.

At Saki Naka near the airport, landslides killed 40 people in their huts.

Half of Bombay's office-goers spent the night in the office, while those
who got stranded on the highway abandoned their cars and walked
home, or should I say “waded” home in waist deep water. 100 school
kids too spent the night in their school.1000 cattle and 15,000 sheep
and goats too died in the floods.

Neil too spent the night at his office, as the water had reached the1st floor
of his office building. His car is completely ruined. Poor guy this is the
second time disaster struck his car, the first being the accident we had in Goa.

The airport which was closed for 3 days, started functioning yesterday
with only one runway being operational, and this morning an Air-India Jumbo
coming from Bangalor on the way to Chicago skidded off the runway, and
blocked it. All pax and crew are safe, but the airport is closed again.

Air India Boeing skids off runway in Mumbai

"The nose-wheel of the Boeing, which was carrying 335 passenger
and crew from Bangalore to Mumbai, hit the runway lights at the
end of the runway before getting stuck in the slushy ground at
around 7 am, Airport sources said here adding it was raining
heavily at that time."
ExpressIndia article

Yahoo News article

I guess if you get onto (registration required)
you will get more news and pictures.

I am still waiting for Air-India to call me for a flight. Till then all I can say is
let's pray for things to get normal soon.


Friday, July 29, 2005

BBC News : Wading all night through Mumbai

Anjali Krishnan, a worker in Mumbai, describes her
night-long trek
home through neck-deep water in
the flooded city.

You Naked ? Come In !


In Austria's Leopold Museum you get Free admission
to the 'Naked Truth' exhibition only if you enter NAKED.....

A Better Butt Can Now Be Yours

If you're like me and love a clean butt in bed, then this is the
number to call.....866-460-BUTT (2888)....really !
"From young to old, this bathroom appliance will become the
most important fixture in the home and will offer a new

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Japanese Female Android

The Island of Dr. Moreau Updated
So there's this Japanese Professor who's busy

perfecting his favourite female playmate. So far
he's got her upper torso to respond......

Read this story

Hello Virtual Poona,

Fred spent some time at our website and has sent you this story link

I love this ! Nameless, faceless people reached out a helping hand to those desperate for a warm touch

Reply to Fred
Visit us at
� 2004: Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd. All rights reserved throughout the world.

Boing Boing: Police publicly humiliate porn patrons in New Dehli

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Barney is Banished !

Foul-mouthed British parrot banished by embarrassed keepers
"He's told a lady mayoress to f..(expletive) off and he told a lady vicar:
'And you can f... off as well'," sanctuary
worker Stacey Clark said.

Mumbai Rains

Mahim station

AP News slideshow

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Heaviest Rains in Mumbai-EVER !

Slideshow from Yahoo Photos

News Leaks

Plumber takes a leak, doesn't fix it
Wed Jul 27, 8:24 AM ET

A British plumber was fined and given a community service
order Tuesday after being captured on hidden cameras
into a vase in a customer's attic and pouring the
contents into the
central heating system. Roy Williams, 47,
was caught in the act by trading standards
officers who
had rented the house in Leatherhead in southern
and rigged it with cameras as part of a sting operation
check on tradesmen.

Hard Rains Falling

MUMBAI, India: The heaviest rain ever recorded in India
down the country's financial hub Wednesday, breaking
lines, closing airports and stranding tens of
thousands of people,
officials said.
As many as 87 people were killed and 130 more were
buried in landslides, according to government authorities and
news reports.
The 28,000 year-old Phallus
A sculpted and polished phallus found in a German cave is
the earliest representations of male sexuality ever uncovered,

researchers say.

Speaking of Germany and phalluses -here's a logo for a frankfurter

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Just had to get Google-ified

Houston Texas floods (pic) same as Pune (article)
Techies shut down after flood alert

Express News Service Pune, July 26:

THE 15,000-odd techies in nearly top 14 IT
companies at phase-I of the Hinjewadi Infotech Park on the outskirts of Pune faced the brunt of the rain havoc with roads and bridges leading to their workstations going under water on Tuesday. And with the district collector issuing a flood warning, the companies reacted instantly by sending their staff back home.

Internut "The forehead inflation is my proudest contribution to the wacky world of body and performance art. I am the only person in the world to do this!!"
InnerActive Program Makes Mo'Money for D-Pak Chopra
The Passage is the first in a series of three "inner-active"
biofeedback programs that teach breathing, meditation and relaxation techniques to improve mind and body wellness. Sit back and enjoy this enchanting and entertaining journey. Demo the Game

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Indian Rap Music!!!

Here are the words to the Rap song:
'Welcome To India'
by MC Vikram

Luda Krishna
Yaa, MC Vikram and Luda Krishna representing y'all,
That's right ... increase the volume please ... thank

Welcome to India, mango juices and lassis, samosa
crazy desis
and little kids that are milking the bhainses.
Toothbrush in my pocket, what is that?
We use our fingers here to keep our teeth so clear,
who said that?

Luda Krishna here, Vikram pulling the Tata gears,
and I am sitting in the Maruti Supreme
with the cooling glass on no one bothers me,
biggest stars since the ever famous Mamooty.

Come with me to a place where we sip Frooties,
and we eat the sweets while monkeys roam the streets.
Old uncle sits - big bellies and burps smelly (burp!)

Thank you Vikram, would you please pass the jelly,
I mean the pickle, hand it down this way ... Namaste
we greet the people as they enter the train!
Sixty-five people hanging out, the doors start coming
Therefore, please don't raise your hand, you are not

I walked into the local corner-store,
bought myself a very nice looking carroms board.
My fingers get sore when I shoot and I score,
and the ladkis all scream coz they all want some more,
of the Luda Krishna and the Vikram MC,
Sweetest thing to hit the States since mango chutney.
We keep the kundis shaking, you better trust me.
The name is Luda Krishna, but my friends call me
Thambi, watch!! (burp!)

Ohhh, Vikram, is that you my friend?!
That is me my friend!
Oh, please enter this rap game!
Ok man! C'mon ... tell me where you're going my

Welcome to India where the cows eat hay,
and we drive auto-rickshaws everyday,
Goat meats, yummy sweets, wild monkeys roaming,
The roosters don't crow till five in the morning! (2x)

Now the kundis don't jiggle till I'm rapping,
So please don't pass the gas when you're laughing.

Up the music charts like mango trees I climb,
With a smooth voice like mine, is it a crime?
Representing FOB-iness since ninety-seven
Rap maharaja, I don't work at 7-Eleven.
Throw your hands in the air if you've got facial hair,
Not just for the guys, c'mon ladies be fair!

I'm the MFP - Most FOB-ious Player,
Wearing hot lungis, do you think I really care?

Monday night - computer club
Tuesday night - at Akbaar grocery saying "Sweet thang,
what is up?"
Wednesday - I'm out making rupees
Thurday - On lookout for Bharatnatyam queen
Friday - Everybody must know where I'm at, coz I'm
chilling on the field with my big cricket bat.
Saturday - my farts are breezy ... believe me, so
strong they will get you mad dizzy,
Sunday - Yaar, I cannot start weeping because on
Monday I will start the creeping ... Hallo!

Ohhhh ... I love that my friend!
Yaa dawg, that was a funda-stic. Hey thank you, you're fabulous! Oh,
thank you my friend! Oh ...

Welcome to India where the cows eat hay,
and we drive auto-rickshaws everyday,
Goat meats, yummy sweets, wild monkeys roaming,
The roosters don't crow till five in the morning! (2x)

Oh, oh, go Luda, go Luda.
Ah, it's my birthday!
That is your birthday, man!
Yaaaaah. You go boy!
Oh oh oh ... it's great!
Ah, Indian honor my friend. Good night!
All right, goodbye ... kiss my buttocks!!


Thanks Manny and Mike P. !

9/11 : Horrifying coincidence?

Mad Magazine published these covers consecutively

Pune Rickshaws

I found this Pune Rickshaw scene by typing
'Rickshaw' in Google Image Search .

More to come if there are no objections....

Important Note:
Please ask me to remove this image if you
are the rightful owner and object to its use here!

Friday, July 22, 2005

JOHN WILLIAM BALDRY - 1941 to 2005

The Making of a Legend
by Rod Stewart / Readers' Digest

"For me, just shaking his hand – knowing all the great musicians

whose hand he’d shaken before –was mind-blowing.
But so was John. Picture this elegant man with a proper English
accent, never without a tie, a towering six-foot-seven. I was
a huge fan and I was intimidated by his offer. Rod Stewart wasn’t
in demand in those days; no one was interested. I immediately
said yes. John had a knack for discovering talent. Ginger Baker,
Jeff Beck and Brian Jones all worked with him early on.
Elton John played piano in one of his bands, other Rolling Stones
too – Charlie, Ron Wood, and Keith. In 1962, when the
Rolling Stones were just getting started, they opened for him in
London. Eric Clapton has said many times that John was one of
the musicians that inspired him to play the Blues.
And for their internationally televised special in 1964, the
Beatles invited John to perform his version of
'I Got My Mojo Working'. In those days the only music we fell in
love with was the Blues, and John was the first white guy singing it,
in his wonderful voice. It was the true Blues and everyone
looked up to him." -

We're All Animals, Anyway

Will Whiskers and Spot notice when their humans get frisky?

Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

Not that we've been searching for details, but reportedly in Colin Farrell's
homemade sex tape, he turns the camera from his playmate, Nicole Narian,
to focus on her cat.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Porn drive makes audience sit up and notice

Indian police forced around 200 people caught watching
pornography to do sit-ups in public to shame them and keep
them away from theaters that illegally screen smutty movies.

The Hindustan Times reported Monday that police stopped
the screening of a pornographic movie at a cinema in Balasore
district in the eastern state of Orissa and made audience members
-- some as young as 17 -- do 10 sit-ups each at a public square,
watched by onlookers.

The police made the all-male group vow not to watch pornography
again. To make matters worse for the embarrassed teenagers who
were caught, police called their parents to watch them doing sit-ups.

Police officer Sanjeev Panda said authorities carried out the public
shaming after attempts to get theaters in district not to show
pornography had failed.

"So we decided to crack down on the audience," Panda was quoted
in the newspaper, which also reported that police in Orissa planned
to integrate such public punishments into their general campaign
against pornography.

Exhibiting pornography is illegal in India, but it is screened in many
cinemas. The latest craze is pornographic Multi-Media Messaging
(MMS) clips, some of which allegedly show Bollywood actresses
engaged in sexual acts.

Texting under the influence? Drunk dialing goes high tech

Mixing booze with cell phones creates a buzz
Knight Ridder Newspapers

The latest communications technology comes with a new

problem some have dubbed TUI — texting under the influence.

The fallout: embarrassment, regret and the occasional
of relationships.

[Overheard in New York] Those Wendesday One-liners Ain't Got No Home

Yeah ! I miss the pleasure of overhearing the interesting
conversations on the streets of New York city....


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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

BBC E-mail: Singer launches career on eBay

Singer launches career on eBay
Indian singer Shayan raised money to release his debut album
by selling shares in his future royalties on eBay.

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Monday, July 18, 2005

Hi! Your friend Fred has sent you a message. Follow this link for more details.

Personal Message:
Some picture galleries that I found interesting.


For any assistance, clarifications or feedback mail to

Hi! Your friend Fred has sent you a message. Follow this link for more details.

Personal Message:
You've come a long way,Baby....and you're barely halfway there !


For any assistance, clarifications or feedback mail to

Picking happiness over the rat race

Many decide stress, sacrifices just not worth it
Associated Press

CHICAGO - The epiphany for Trudy Bourgeois came in the form
of a stinging rebuke from her daughter during a weekend when,
as always, she was preoccupied with her job.

"Mommy, I don't want to be like you when I grow up," the frustrated
sixth-grader told the shocked executive. "All you do is work, work,
work, and you're always stressed."

Bourgeois' career and life turned for the better on that painful
moment — she resigned her high-level position to run a business
out of her Dallas-area home. So did John Gates' life when he left
a corner office for a farm and tractor, and Jim Modica's life when
he turned his back on Madison Avenue to open a pet boutique.

Creative Bar Coding

This site is fascinating on different levels :
Math, Engineering and fun come together .
Check out the Portrait Gallery or download
theVirtual Bar Code Clock.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Article from Tom Dispatch

You can read many more dispatches and join our mailing list so they come directly to your e-mail inbox daily by visiting, your antidote to the mainstream media.

posted July 13, 2005 at 2:47 pm

Tomgram: Mike Davis on a Paradise Built on Oil

Do you remember those childhood books that taught you where the electricity, water, and groceries in your house actually came from (though not where the money went)? Well, perhaps while filling your gas tank at $2.33 a gallon, a record national average for self-service regular (up 41 cents from last year this time) or just considering the $61 a barrel that benchmark light crude is going for, you had a similar urge. Your curiosity peaked (right along with Saudi oil reserves) and you just wondered where all those dollars, those oil mega-profits, were going. As it happens, the news is good. Your pocket change -- a little of it anyway -- is probably contributing to the construction of paradise, a kind of Middle Eastern alchemist's dream (built, of course, by all-too-real indentured serfs) in which sand, gazillions of tons of it, is transmuted into gold -- or animatronic dinosaurs anyway. Curious to know more? If so, check out the latest by Mike Davis, who, from City of Quartz and Ecology of Fear to Dead Cities, has revealed to us the deepest nature of our cityscapes and urban dreams. Tom

Sinister Paradise

Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
By Mike Davis

The narration begins: As your jet starts its descent, you are glued to your window. The scene below is astonishing: a 24-square-mile archipelago of coral-colored islands in the shape of an almost finished puzzle of the world. In the shallow green waters between continents, the sunken shapes of the Pyramids of Giza and the Roman Coliseum are clearly visible.

In the distance are three other large island groups configured as palms within crescents and planted with high-rise resorts, amusement parks, and a thousand mansions built on stilts over the water. The "Palms" are connected by causeways to a Miami-like beachfront chock-a-block full of mega-hotels, apartment high-rises and yacht marinas.

As the plane slowly banks toward the desert mainland, you gasp at the even more improbable vision ahead. Out of a chrome forest of skyscrapers (nearly a dozen taller than 1000 feet) soars a new Tower of Babel. It is an impossible one-half-mile high: the equivalent of the Empire State Building stacked on top of itself.

You are still rubbing your eyes with wonderment and disbelief when the plane lands and you are welcomed into an airport emporium where hundreds of shops seduce you with Gucci bags, Cartier watches, and one-kilogram bars of solid gold. You make a mental note to pick up some duty-free gold on your way out.

The hotel driver is waiting for you in a Rolls Royce Silver Seraph. Friends have recommended the Armani Hotel in the 160-story tower or the seven-star hotel with an atrium so huge that the Statue of Liberty would fit inside, but instead you have opted to fulfill a childhood fantasy. You always have wanted to be Captain Nemo in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

Your jellyfish-shaped hotel is, in fact, exactly 66 feet below the sea surface. Each of its 220 luxury suites has clear Plexiglas walls that provide spectacular views of passing mermaids as well as the hotel's famed "underwater fireworks:" a hallucinatory exhibition of "water bubbles, swirled sand, and carefully deployed lighting." Any initial anxiety about the safety of your sea-bottom resort is dispelled by the smiling concierge. The structure has a multi-level failsafe security system, he reassures you, that includes protection against terrorist submarines as well as missiles and aircraft.

Although you have an important business meeting at the Internet City free-trade zone with clients from Hyderabad and Taipei, you have arrived a day early to treat yourself to one of the famed adventures at the Restless Planet dinosaur theme park. Indeed, after a soothing night's sleep under the sea, you are aboard a monorail headed for a Jurassic jungle. Your expedition encounters some peacefully grazing Apatosaurs, but you are soon attacked by a nasty gang of velociraptors. The animatronic beasts are so flawlessly lifelike -- in fact, they have been designed by experts from the British Museum of Natural History -- that you shriek in fear and delight.

With your adrenaline pumped-up by this close call, you polish off the afternoon with some thrilling snowboarding on the local black diamond run. Next door is the Mall of Arabia, the world's largest mall -- the altar of the city's famed Shopping Festival that attracts 5 million frenetic consumers each January -- but you postpone the temptation.

Instead, you indulge in some expensive Thai fusion cuisine at a restaurant near Elite Towers that was recommended by your hotel driver. The gorgeous Russian blond at the bar keeps staring at you with almost vampire-like hunger, and you wonder whether the local sin scene is as extravagant as the shopping�..

The Sequel to Blade Runner?

Welcome to paradise. But where are you? Is this a new science-fiction novel from Margaret Atwood, the sequel to Blade Runner, or Donald Trump tripping on acid?

No, it is the Persian Gulf city-state of Dubai in 2010.

After Shanghai (current population: 15 million), Dubai (current population: 1.5 million) is the world's biggest building site: an emerging dreamworld of conspicuous consumption and what locals dub "supreme lifestyles."

Dozens of outlandish mega-projects -- including "The World" (an artificial archipelago), Burj Dubai (the Earth's tallest building), the Hydropolis (that underwater luxury hotel, the Restless Planet theme park, a domed ski resort perpetually maintained in 40C heat, and The Mall of Arabia, a hyper-mall -- are actually under construction or will soon leave the drawing boards.

Under the enlightened despotism of its Crown Prince and CEO, 56-year-old Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the Rhode-Island-sized Emirate of Dubai has become the new global icon of imagineered urbanism. Although often compared to Las Vegas, Orlando, Hong Kong or Singapore, the sheikhdom is more like their collective summation: a pastiche of the big, the bad, and the ugly. It is not just a hybrid but a chimera: the offspring of the lascivious coupling of the cyclopean fantasies of Barnum, Eiffel, Disney, Spielberg, Jerde, Wynn, and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.

Multibillionaire Sheik Mo -- as he's affectionately known to Dubai's expats -- not only collects thoroughbreds (the world's largest stable) and super-yachts (the 525-foot-long Project Platinum which has its own submarine and flight deck), but also seems to have imprinted Robert Venturi's cult Learning from Las Vegas in the same way that more pious Moslems have memorized The Quran. (One of the Sheik's proudest achievements, by the way, is to have introduced gated communities to Arabia.)

Under his leadership, the coastal desert has become a huge circuit board into which the elite of transnational engineering firms and retail developers are invited to plug in high-tech clusters, entertainment zones, artificial islands, "cities within cities" -- whatever is the latest fad in urban capitalism. The same phantasmagoric but generic Lego blocks, of course, can be found in dozens of aspiring cities these days, but Sheik Mo has a distinctive and inviolable criterion: Everything must be "world class," by which he means number one in The Guinness Book of Records. Thus Dubai is building the world's largest theme park, the biggest mall, the highest building, and the first sunken hotel among other firsts.

Sheikh Mo's architectural megalomania, although reminiscent of Albert Speer and his patron, is not irrational. Having "learned from Las Vegas," he understands that if Dubai wants to become the luxury-consumer paradise of the Middle East and South Asia (its officially defined "home market" of 1.6 billion), it must ceaselessly strive for excess.

From this standpoint, the city's monstrous caricature of futurism is simply shrewd marketing. Its owners love it when designers and urbanists anoint it as the cutting edge. Architect George Katodrytis wrote: "Dubai may be considered the emerging prototype for the 21st century: prosthetic and nomadic oases presented as isolated cities that extend out over the land and sea."

Moreover, Dubai can count on the peak-oil epoch to cover the costs of these hyperboles. Each time you spent $40 to fill your tank, you are helping to irrigate Sheik Mo's oasis.

Precisely because Dubai is rapidly pumping the last of its own modest endowment of oil, it has opted to become the postmodern "city of nets" -- as Bertolt Brecht called his fictional boomtown of Mahagonny -- where the super-profits of oil are to be reinvested in Arabia's one truly inexhaustible natural resource: sand. (Indeed mega-projects in Dubai are usually measured by volumes of sand moved: 1 billion cubic feet in the case of The World.)

Al-Qaeda and the war on terrorism deserve some of the credit for this boom. Since 9/11, many Middle Eastern investors, fearing possible lawsuits or sanctions, have pulled up stakes in the West. According Salman bin Dasmal of Dubai Holdings, the Saudis alone have repatriated one-third of their trillion-dollar overseas portfolio. The sheikhs are bringing it back home, and last year, the Saudis were believed to have ploughed at least $7 billion into Dubai's sand castles.

Another aqueduct of oil wealth flows from the neighboring Emirate of Abu Dhabi. The two statelets dominate the United Arab Emirates -- a quasi-nation thrown together by Sheik Mo's father and the ruler of Abu Dhabi in 1971 to fend off threats from Marxists in Oman and, later, Islamists in Iran.

Today, Dubai's security is guaranteed by the American nuclear super-carriers usually berthed at the port of Jebel Ali. Indeed, the city-state aggressively promotes itself as the ultimate elite "Green Zone" in an increasingly turbulent and dangerous region.

Meanwhile, as increasing numbers of experts warn that the age of cheap oil is passing, the al-Maktoum clan can count on a torrent of nervous oil revenue seeking a friendly and stable haven. When outsiders question the sustainability of the current boom, Dubai officials point out that their new Mecca is being built on equity, not debt.

Since a watershed 2003 decision to open unrestricted freehold ownership to foreigners, wealthy Europeans and Asians have rushed to become part of the Dubai bubble. A beachfront in one of the "Palms" or, better yet, a private island in "The World" now has the cachet of St. Tropez or Grand Cayman. The old colonial masters lead the pack as Brit expats and investors have become the biggest cheerleaders for Sheikh Mo's dreamworld: David Beckham owns a beach and Rod Stewart, an island (rumored, in fact, to be named Great Britain).

An Indentured, Invisible Majority

The utopian character of Dubai, it must be emphasized, is no mirage. Even more than Singapore or Texas, the city-state really is an apotheosis of neo-liberal values.

On the one hand, it provides investors with a comfortable, Western-style, property-rights regime, including freehold ownership, that is unique in the region. Included with the package is a broad tolerance of booze, recreational drugs, halter tops, and other foreign vices formally proscribed by Islamic law. (When expats extol Dubai's unique "openness," it is this freedom to carouse -- not to organize unions or publish critical opinions -- that they are usually praising.)

On the other hand, Dubai, together with its emirate neighbors, has achieved the state of the art in the disenfranchisement of labor. Trade unions, strikes, and agitators are illegal, and 99% of the private-sector workforce are easily deportable non-citizens. Indeed, the deep thinkers at the American Enterprise and Cato institutes must salivate when they contemplate the system of classes and entitlements in Dubai.

At the top of the social pyramid, of course, are the al-Maktoums and their cousins who own every lucrative grain of sand in the sheikhdom. Next, the native 15% percent of the population -- whose uniform of privilege is the traditional white dishdash -- constitutes a leisure class whose obedience to the dynasty is subsidized by income transfers, free education, and government jobs. A step below, are the pampered mercenaries: 150,000-or-so British ex-pats, along with other European, Lebanese, and Indian managers and professionals, who take full advantage of their air-conditioned affluence and two-months of overseas leave every summer.

However, South Asian contract laborers, legally bound to a single employer and subject to totalitarian social controls, make up the great mass of the population. 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 expos� 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"

In addition to being super-exploited, Dubai's helots are also expected to be generally invisible. The bleak work camps on the city's outskirts, where laborers are crowded six, eight, even twelve to a room, are not part of the official tourist image of a city of luxury without slums or poverty. In a recent visit, even the United Arab Emirate's Minister of Labor was reported to be profoundly shocked by the squalid, almost unbearable conditions in a remote work camp maintained by a large construction contractor. Yet when the laborers attempted to form a union to win back pay and improve living conditions, they were promptly arrested.

Paradise, however, has even darker corners than the indentured-labor camps. The Russian girls at the elegant hotel bar are but the glamorous facade of a sinister sex trade built on kidnapping, slavery, and sadistic violence. Dubai -- any of the hipper guidebooks will advise -- is the "Bangkok of the Middle East," populated with thousands of Russian, Armenian, Indian, and Iranian prostitutes controlled by various transnational gangs and mafias. (The city, conveniently, is also a world center for money laundering, with an estimated 10% of real estate changing hands in cash-only transactions.)

Sheikh Mo and his thoroughly modern regime, of course, disavow any connection to this burgeoning red-light industry, although insiders know that the whores are essential to keeping all those five-star hotels full of European and Arab businessmen. But the Sheikh himself has been personally linked to Dubai's most scandalous vice: child slavery.

Camel racing is a local passion in the Emirates, and in June 2004, Anti-Slavery International released photos of pre-school-age child jockeys in Dubai. HBO Real Sports simultaneously reported that the jockeys, "some as young as three -- are kidnapped or sold into slavery, starved, beaten and raped." Some of the tiny jockeys were shown at a Dubai camel track owned by the al-Maktoums.

The Lexington Herald-Leader -- a newspaper in Kentucky, where Sheikh Mo has two large thoroughbred farms -- confirmed parts of the HBO story in an interview with a local blacksmith who had worked for the crown prince in Dubai. He reported seeing "little bitty kids" as young as four astride racing camels. Camel trainers claim that the children's shrieks of terror spur the animals to a faster effort.

Sheikh Mo, who fancies himself a prophet of modernization, likes to impress visitors with clever proverbs and heavy aphorisms. A favorite: "Anyone who does not attempt to change the future will stay a captive of the past."

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.

Mike Davis is the author of Dead Cities and the forthcoming Monster at the Door: the Global Threat of Avian Influenza (New Press 2005).

Copyright 2005 Mike Davis

Monday, July 11, 2005 Article: N.Y.'s 'other expats' in search of a home

from The New York Times

In this city of dozens of convivial ethnic neighborhoods,
there are some people who do not have one.

New York can be a particularly lonely place for certain expatriates
like Australians, British, Japanese and Norwegians who are without
neighborhoods because, unlike true immigrants, so many are there
for a limited run, either working for a few years for a native company
or jump-starting a career in fashion, art or the news media.
Many have left large families behind and some vacillate painfully
between staying in New York permanently or returning.

Spilling Her Guts

Frida Kahlo:
Talk about a tortured artist


Photo: Nickolas Muray, 1939; Rochester (NY),
International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House

An international icon and a cult favourite of millions worldwide,
she led a fascinating and tragic life,
contracting Polio at an
early age and later being impaled by a metal rod while in
a bus accident.

The paintings are very personal, and the results are mostly
primitive and surrealistic.
Although married to the great
Mexican painter
Diego Rivera, she had numerous affairs with
men and women, many of them famous.
Leon Trotsky while in exile was a guest in her home, and
Picasso stated that she was ''almost as good" a painter as he was !

In 2002 Salma Hayek portrayed her in the film 'Frida' but the
earlier film version starring
Ofelia Medina is the one I would
recommend viewing
( only on VHS ? ).

This unibrowed, mustachioed bisexual daughter of a
German-Jewish father and a Mexican mother was constantly on
the pain-killer Demerol, alcohol, and other drugs.

There's an exhausting set of Frida links displayed at

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Our Deepest Fear

This seems fitting in the wake of the London Bombings

Our Deepest Fear
by Marianne Williamson
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is
that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness
that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't
feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make
manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is
in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give
other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our
own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

From A Return To Love: Reflections on
the Principles of A Course in Miracles

Saturday, July 09, 2005

What, I Say ?

My Saggitarius Horoscope July 7, 2005
Or, why I insist on doing this...

" Your sign is in charge of far off places, people and cultures, and when you're not on the road, your only consolation is to be in touch with
or something that reminds you of a distant place you love.
So when it comes
to long-distance communications, whether they
come about by email, phone
or surprise visits, you can bet they're
very much on your top ten list of
most favorite things "

The Scientific Approach to Didgeridoo Playing
It's easy to produce a simple sound but virtuoso didgeridoo playing
involves tricky breathing and a certain way of opening the vocal tract,
Australian physicists said on Wednesday.

The unusual instrument, which originated in northern Australia and is
made from the trunk of a tree hollowed out by termites, usually plays

only one note.
But skilled performers can produce a range of resonating sounds.

The Running of the Nudes A holdover from a very different time,
the "Encierro," as it is known in
Spanish, has been denounced as
barbaric and has spawned a protest
complete with its own annual race.

Organized by People for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals, the
"Running of the Nudes" takes place this morning in
To traditionalists, it's an affront. To activists, it's a call to
Here's a look at how the two races compare.
The Usual Suspect
Pune, July 7:
What is the Army jawan up to? Looks like he is trying
to threaten this vendor of umbrellas and helmets on Solapur Road
(behind the Race Course) into giving him a free gift! And when our
staff photographer, Arul Horizon, clicks him, the jawan claims he was
only trying to “evict the vendor for selling goods on Army land”.
Later, after an argument, he even chases Horizon on his motorbike
for “obstructing” his work.

When contacted, Public Relations Officer, Ministry of Defence,
V K Abdullah said the land did not belong to the Army. “Anyway, it is
not the duty of the Army to remove encroachments.
That is for the Cantonment Board or the Pune Municipal Corporation
to do,” he clarified."

From Express News India

Thursday, July 07, 2005

BBC E-mail: In pictures: London blasts

Fred saw this story on BBC News Online and thought you
should see it.

** In pictures: London blasts **
Two people have been killed and scores injured after at least
seven blasts on the underground network and a double-decker bus in London.

** BBC Daily E-mail **
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in one daily e-mail

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Wednesday, July 06, 2005 Article: An avatar of rock \'n\' roll history

An avatar of Rock 'n' Roll history
He bluffed his way, playing an organ he didn't know
how to turn on, into the most famous sideman turn
in rock history: the Hammond B-3 cascades that
helped define Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" and
then "Blonde on Blonde." He was present at the creation
of the New York rock scene with the still-beloved
Blues Project; concocted perhaps the best rock horn
band ever - the original incarnation of Blood, Sweat and
Tears - and discovered and recorded Lynyrd Skynyrd,
the Southern rock avatars. He played the French horn part
at the beginning of the Rolling Stones hit
"You Can't Always Get What You Want" and recorded
with George Harrison the day after John Lennon died.

At 61, almost no one alive has lived as much rock 'n' roll
history as Kooper in his assorted lives as performer,
producer, sideman, songwriter, hustler, author, talent scout,
enthusiast, critic and muse.

HIRSHHORN::Visual Music:: June 23 to Sept 11

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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Fun Fun Fun

Indo-Pak Accident

A Pakistani and an Indian get into a car accident and it's a bad one.
Both cars are totally demolished but amazingly neither of them is hurt.
After they crawl out of their cars, the Indian sees the Pakistani's car
and says, "So you're a Pakistani. I'm an Indian. Just look at our cars.
There's nothing left, but we are unhurt. This must be a sign from God.
God must have meant that we should meet and be friends and live
together in peace the rest of our days."

The Pakistani replies, "I agree with you completely, this must be
a sign from Allah."

The Indian continues, "And look at this. Here's another miracle.
My car is completely demolished but this bottle of Johnny Walker
Black Label didn't break. Surely God wants us to drink this wine and
celebrate our good fortune." Then he hands the bottle to the Pakistani.

The Pakistani says "Alcohol is banned by Islam but it looks like Allah
wanted us to drink." He takes a few big swigs, and hands the bottle
back to the Indian.

The Indian takes the bottle, immediately puts the cap on, and hands it
back to the Pakistani.

The Pakistani asks, "Aren't you having any?"

The Indian replies, "No... I think I'll wait for the police!

BOSS : "Do you believe in Life after Death?"

EMPLOYEE : "Certainly not! There's no proof of it !"

BOSS : "Well, there is now. After you left early yesterday to attend
your brother's funeral, he came here looking for you."

He Failed the Breast Exam

For Illustration Purposes Only
This Russian dude decides to help his sister pass an exam so he
dresses up in drag and sits in on the exam....but then he overdoes
it and gets 'busted' !

"Yasen Zasursky, a head of department in the university's journalism

faculty where the exams were being held, said the man's
"especially protruding female features" gave him away."

Dazed and Confused
Police in Germany thought they had an open and shut case
of drunk-driving when the dazed and confused owner of
a wrecked car appeared before them badly hung-over
and wearing nothing but his underpants.

But in fact the 54-year-old man had been the victim of
a bizarre car theft which saw him driven around, while
passed out drunk in the trunk of his Ford, by a car thief
who was himself inebriated and high on marijuana.

Monday, July 04, 2005 - A few warnings about blogging

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