Are you like me fed up of hearing about the “American Dream” and seeing Barack Obama’s face everywhere? Are you sick to the teeth of hearing american commentators squawking “BRRAAAAAACK” all over the show? Sick isn’t it all this fanfare? Remember the turn out for him in Berlin earlier in the summer? I mean what the hell? He is simply a bloody opposition politician for god’s sake.
Anyway, the excessive media noise is useful when it comes to burying real news stories. And yesterday there was a real belter of a story which should remind everyone of the shape and colour of the so-called American Deam. A law suit has been filed in Los Angeles
One of America’s biggest military contractors (KBR- once a Halliburton subsidiary) is being sued by a Nepali labourer and the families of a dozen other employees who say they were taken against their will to work in Iraq. All but one of the Nepalese workers were subsequently kidnapped and murdered….
The 12 Nepalis were seized by a group calling itself the Army of Ansar al-Sunna. The men were taken hostage on 20 August 2004 and shortly afterwards the kidnappers released a video of one being beheaded and the other 11 shot.
Many Bangladeshis were similarly tricked and made to work in Iraq. I posted a story earlier.
I am hereby submitting my anti-slip shower and bath mats for any imminent Government of Bangladesh tenders for suppliers of these products. This high quality product is guaranteed to prevent traffic explosions, deaths, train engines catching fire etc. Additionally the mat features a textured anti-slip surface with a special bubble design to massage and soothe your body should you happen to take a fall anyway given the pressures of life in government facilities. The mat makes a strong lifestyle statment and can, if judiciously used, preempt helpless spouses from appearing on national and international TV pitching for the sympathy vote. All for a very reasonable price.
I was in Berlin last month for my yearly dose of Curry Wurst. And whilst at a concert I came across some MTV literature called “MTV Exit.”
I finally had the opportunity to visit the Exit web site. The site is about trafficking and features three films about trafficking in 3 different parts of the world. Bangladesh is covered in the South Asia section. Introduced by Lara Dutta the film tells of a teenager trafficked from Bangladesh to work in domestic servitude in Calcutta. Angelina Jolie presents the horror stories from Europe and Lucy Liu about the far east. The site is very informative and the documentary films (sadly of very low resolution and irritating MTV style editing) serve as a good introduction to the issue
Adviser M Anwarul Iqbal has announced that trade union activity ( which was banned after the Emergency promulgation of January 2007) will be permitted to a limited level.
“The workers’ organisations will be able to hold elections after obtaining permission from their local police stations, after official approval has been announced to the public,” said the adviser.
Talk about a police state….what is interesting is that the same minister will talk about good governance, transparency and accountability in the presence of donors without even batting an eyelid.
As for the trade unions themselves, well I sincerely hope the last 20 months or so have provided then with ample time to reflect on the consequences of being so intimately aligned to one political party or the other. That is no basis for organising workers who have their own interests. But I seriously doubt our trade union leaders have the capacity to understand that.
During 2004-2006, etcetera in Gulshan was a fantastic place to buy books. Lots of local and indian titles and indeed titles from further afield. My memory fails but the branding may even have had Books in front of etc. Soon after the emergency promulgation, and some regulation about parking, drastic changes appeared in the Gulshan outlet, including the conversion of half the shopping area into a parking area. Indeed well before emergency, they restructured to bring in more general stuff for the consumer to buy. When Etcetera opened a swank new outlet in Dhanmondi, the “etcetera” component of their products had emphatically taken over from books. Don’t get me wrong - it is still a great place to find some gems but the book section has been becoming smaller and smaller. They still had their Harry Potter midnight opening sessions but things were decidedly going down. And now we have the latest addition to their non-book range of products - The Smokey Joe Sandwich. Card holders have been sent a marketing email about the arrival of this wonderful “sandwich.” Not about some bestseller or some forthcoming book event but The Smokey Joe Sandwich. Great. Mr Syed Maher Murshed has been an innovative entrepreneur but this??
This is how the BBC commentator introduced Bangladesh: “The largest nation in the world never to win a gold medal in the Olympics.”
Eh? Has Bangladesh even won a medal in the Olympics??
Here is an item about the hurdles faced by Bangladeshi athletes including the swimmer who trained in ponds.
“We had an image as a strike-prone country. Buyers from all over the world used to worry a lot about whether our manufacturers could meet shipment deadlines,” Export Promotion Bureau chief Shahab Ullah told AFP.
“But the state of emergency brought much-needed stability as there have been hardly any strikes.”
Some stats from the same article:
Remember that nonsense survey by the pollster Robert Worcester? It must be the most meaningless survey ever funded and its findings are about as useful as a chocolate teapot. Well that statistical nonsense still has currency. Here you have Major General Md. Ishtiaq, Bangladesh’s ambassador to Turkey, repeating it for the benefit of his Turkish audience.
But do read the interview. It is quite interesting otherwise.
The usual story is that foreign companies are exploitative and couldn’t give two hoots about working conditions and salaries etc. But in Malaysia, even foreign companies with very dodgy labour relations histories are appalled at the behaviour of their local partner and the state. Read this story from the Herald Tribune about Bangladeshi workers (as well as workers from Vietnam and Myanmar) and their treatment at the hands of Hytex Group.
The guy is a maniac even in the poetry he writes:
I surmise the sun is wounding me
With its sharp malignant rays
I surmise the stars are healing me
I am the deity of dark cosmic space
A horned cow reveals a faithless goddess
Everything’s turned against me the one true god
I created the world to tear my head off
Judges torture me for insignificant acts
I am disgusted by the souls who radiate nothing
Like a small nasty puppy puny death
Is approaching from afar
I don’t know what to make of all these things
But I can’t stand the sight of you you file of scum
You file of snails
Well hurry up in your slime
Because if I can turn my words into thunder
I can turn you into a pool of stagnant water
Now that I am in this crazy fervor of mine
I could do just about anything
So your stupid rotten your vain souls
Wouldn’t stare at me with their stupid peaceful eyes
If you take women out of the equation
I don’t even know what
These slimy creatures are for
What all their words are for
What their lectures are for
I demand and I want just as God rightfully wants
The immediate abolition of all things
Without a purpose and with no beauty
Without a purpose
And no soundness