Dubai

A few photos of Dubai. Although our stay was brief a few things struck us about Dubai. Yes there is wealth but there are also tens of thousands of people from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand working in substandard working conditions to keep the whole economy moving. What was most apparent was the disparity of wealth.

Also for example our tour guide’s parents immigrated from Pakistan decades ago. Our guide was born in Dubai, but carried a Pakistani passport with no hope of U.A.E. citizenship. Every two years he would have his passport stamped. That’s okay for now, but conditions change. What happens when they tell his children to go back to Pakistan – a country they have never seen.

Heather – The Burj Khalifa Sunrise
The Burj Khalifa – Tallest Building in the World

154 stories plus nine stories for maintenance.  7,500 skilled workers were employed at the construction site.  Press reports indicated in 2006 that skilled carpenters at the site earned £4.34 a day, and labourers earned £2.84. According to a BBC investigation and a Human Rights Watch report, the workers were housed in abysmal conditions, and worked long hours for low pay.  During construction, only one construction-related death was reported. However, workplace injuries and fatalities in the UAE are “poorly documented”, according to Human Rights Watch. [from Wikipedia]

So – proud of the tallest building in the world?

more photos

Covid 19 & Our Trip to Europe and the Middle East

March 2, 2020 was our departure date from Canada. The next six weeks were to be spent travelling to visit family; son, daughter-in-law and brand new grandson. The plan included London, Cologne, Dubai, Jordan, Oman, the Suez Canal, Greece with a friend, then back to family visiting & home. It looked like a wonderful holiday. Books packed for the time on board ship and ready to go.

In the background the Covid 19 virus was on the move.

Alas most of the trip was not to be.

Completing our family visit in Cologne to see our much awaited grandchild and his parents, on March 11, we headed to Frankfurt to catch our Middle East Airlines [MEA] flight to Dubai via Beirut. From the time of our booking in December the Covid 19 virus had grown steadily.

Uncertain whether to go, I contacted the cruise’s agent. Would they consider a refund given the state of the world in relation to the Covid 19 virus. The answer was a firm no, in spite of the fact that many cruise lines were offering postponements, refunds etc. Given the response of other cruise lines we found their response irresponsible. They were clearly placing money ahead of their guests’ well being.

Whether the cruise was cancelled or not we committed ourselves to visiting Dubai and if need be flying back to Frankfurt if the situation got completely out of hand. So off we went.

We chose Middle East Airlines [MEA] because they offered a reasonable fare and we did not have to fuss around with annoying baggage fees, paying to sit together, pretzels as a meal etc. They have a very generous baggage allowances, allowing two checked bags for the price of each ticket. They did not disappoint. The meal was good, the service was good, the flight was comfortable. And so it was after changing planes in Beirut, we arrived in Dubai about 0200 hours.

Continue reading “Covid 19 & Our Trip to Europe and the Middle East”

Putin’s Next Step

It is December 2019. The impeachment vote is coming. The U.S. Senate is fully expected to dismiss the impeachment of Donald Trump in spite of overwhelming evidence.

Presuming Trump is not impeached and removed, barring health issues or further political complications it is onward and upward for the 2020 U.S. election with Trump as the Republican nominee.

Putin has been extraordinarily successful installing his stooge in the White House. It is safe to say that he has no vested interest in Trump other than how Trump can serve Putin’s needs to protect his oligarchs, create chaos and dissension in Western Countries and thereby increase his personal power and to a lesser extent, Russia’s. In addition Trump serves Putin’s interest to promote right wing causes throughout Europe and North America.

Putin recognizes that he will be ill-served by a Democratic president or Congress. Yet Trump faces significant obstacles to being re-elected. Faced with this what is the best approach for Putin to extend his bonanza of wealth by having Trump re-elected?

Continue reading “Putin’s Next Step”

Kurdish Genocide

October 10, 2019

This is a copy of what I sent to Prime Minister Trudeau yesterday. This follows Trump’s criminal withdrawal of support from the Kurds.

I dealt with many Afghans who risked their lives to cross the rugged mountains overnight to get to Turkey. I have seen refugee situations in Turkey so I am not entirely unfamiliar with the region.

Now it is the Kurds who face genocide because of Trump, Putin and Erdoğan. Kurds fought long and hard against ISIS.

________________________________________

It is better to say something than nothing.

________________________________________

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

I am writing to draw your urgent attention to what is going on in Turkey and Syria in relation to the Kurds.

It is of critical urgency that you engage with European leaders to take all necessary steps to intervene on behalf of the Kurds.

We witnessed genocide in 1995 at Srebrenica – and nothing was done.  We watched genocide in Rwanda in 1994, and the world stood by and watched.  In World War II we watched 6,000,000 Jews perish, while the Canadian interior Minister announced that in terms of accepting Jews fleeing Europe, none was too many.

Now it is your turn to act or not act – you must act now.  I urge you to on an urgent basis speak to your European counterparts to intervene.  Tomorrow is too late.

Garry Mitchell

________________________________________

U.S. Capitulates to the Taliban in Afghanistan

September 2, 2019

In 1997 I recall speaking with a young Afghan woman. She wanted help getting her father out of Turkey. The Taliban had given him a death sentence. His crime – as a teacher he taught girls in Afghanistan.

Now, well past 9/11, and after years of war we have the U.S. negotiating with the Taliban for a peace agreement.

Remember when Trump suddenly announced the U.S. was leaving Syria? The U.S. and West abandoned the Kurds in Syria who had fought side by side with the U.S. against Assad. Jim Mattis, after a distinguished career left the Trump administration over that withdrawal. Since then Syria and Russia have triumphed while the U.S. and Europe sat on their hands. The win by Assad and Putin has resulted in war crimes and crimes against humanity with the repeated bombing of hospitals and children.

The U.S. will no doubt soon sign an agreement with the Taliban. Within a short time after that the Taliban will resume their murderous ways in Afghanistan. They will call it an agreement – but it will be a capitulation by the U.S.

It will cost many lives and eventually we will once again see girls banned from education and many more refugees fleeing Afghanistan.

Want more? https://www.newsweek.com/donald-trumps-afghanistan-peace-process-called-losing-fox-news-analyst-says-we-completely-1457184

GLM

UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 15, 2019

Donald Trump unilaterally cancelled the talks with the Taliban. He cited their terrorist violence. At this point according to the BBC, the two sides were close to an agreement. He specifically cited an attack in which an American soldier and 12 Afghans were killed by the Taliban.

With sycophants to advise him Trump is lost because he has never had an interest in world affairs. This is a symptom of foreign policy that operates in an atmosphere of winging it based on ignorance with no plan and no knowledge and worst of all no interest.

With hundreds dead and hundreds injured by the Taliban – it seemed rather stupid for the president to choose one incident when so many have been killed continuously over the months and years. In my opinion the Taliban simply use his ignorance and stupidity to advance their cause. Too bad they missed their great PR opportunity he was going to provide at Camp David.

As a comment it is really bad when you have to use a spreadsheet to count the incidents, dead and injured.

Below are incidents in January 2019 by the Taliban. Note some were in Pakistan, most were in Afghanistan. Regardless it is the same group.

You have to ask what kind of ‘negotiation’ was going well given this degree of bloodshed by the Taliban.

For January 2019
TOTAL DEAD from Taliban attacks: 252 – 437
TOTAL INJURED: 401-534

January 1 [four incidents]
January 2 [two incidents]
January 3 [one incident]
January 5 [three incidents]
January 6 [two incidents]
January 7 [two incidents]
January 9 [two incidents]
January 10 [one incident]
January 12 [two incidents]
January 13 [one incident]
January 14 [one incident]
January 15 [one incident]
January 16 [one incident]
January 17 [one incident]
January 18 [three incidents]
January 20 [one incident]
January 21 [one incident]
January 22 [one incident]
January 23 [one incident]
January 24 [one incident]
January 26 [one incident]
January 28 [one incident]
January 29 [one incident]
January 31 [one incident]

For other months in 2019

February: Dead = 138+
Incidents: 23

March: Dead = 221+
Incidents: 22

April: Dead = 114+
Incidents: 19

May: Dead = 252+
Incidents: 42

June: Dead = 263+
Incidents: 32

July: Dead = 129+
Incidents: 7

August: Dead = 93+
Incidents: 9

So Mr. President how is it that one incident set you off or were you just ignorant of what was and is going on?

GLM

WHERE WAS IMMIGRATION LAW WHEN IT CAME TO JEFFREY EPSTEIN

Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his jail cell August 10, 2019. He had been convicted in 2008 of procuring for prostitution a girl below age 18.

It is well known that he travelled extensively. At various times he owned a black Gulfstream jet, a private helicopter and twin-engine Cessna 421. He also owned a Boeing 727-200.

According to flight records his planes traveled after 2008 sometimes many times to the following countries:

Bahamas [Exuma]

France

Germany [Bittung Airport]

Mexico

Dubai

Abu Dhabi

United Kingdom

Slovakia

Morocco

There is little doubt that he was on most if not all of these flights.

So there is the simple question for authorities. How was he allowed into those countries? Usually Immigration laws are focused on keeping criminals out – so if you or I show up at the border and tell them we have a conviction for procuring girls for prostitution who were under the age of eighteen there would be a simple refusal of your admission to that country and probably detention while they arranged for your deportation. While true for all countries you would thought that particularly Arab countries would have greater hurdles.

This raises the question how did he travel to these countries? Why was he not refused admission? Why was he allowed in?

If it is because he was flying on his own private jet, how many other convicted criminals are part of this system of less thorough immigration examinations for the wealthy?

NBC and their complicity in electing Trump

They make money no matter what happens.

Good Morning America

This is a message from a Canadian resident of a small city of your northern neighbour, Canada. As with any good neighbour, we need to have a chat.

Speaking to the Press Club in Washington D.C. In 1969 then Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, father of Canada’s current Prime Minister, said:

“Living next to you [referring to the U.S.A.] is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt. ”

What has changed since 1969? The elephant is no longer as friendly. Nor is it even tempered. We see a country often at odds with itself thrashing about – and elephants thrashing about do not conjure good images – nor do they make good neighbours.

From whence came this change?

Of course the obvious answer to the question is Donald J. Trump. But he did not come from nowhere. He was aided and abetted, moulding him into a figure that millions could vote for, by distorting the truth about who he was, and giving him a national podium to become a nationally known figure.

Let’s start with the ‘star’ system in the U.S. Entertainment personalities are a preoccupation of many Americans. It is no wonder we find media stars splattered across the American political landscape – Jesse Ventura, Shirley Temple, Arnold Schwarzenegger , Ronald Reagan and your latest gift to the world, Donald Trump. To have a name that is known, is a significant part of the battle for office. In the social mind, we confuse the characters they play with their true character. It would be nearly impossible for an actor who portrayed devious villains to be elected. The sad element that escapes many voters is – they are ACTING.

ETHICS AT NBC

Prior to becoming an NBC TV personality on the apprentice, Donald Trump was a showman, very much like the hucksters at your state fair or local exhibition of 60 years ago. Snake oil, wondrous cures and ‘almost’ free stuff they were giving away – for a very small price. In other words lots of lying, persuading, rewriting and distorting reality.

In 2004 Trump began hosting The Apprentice. Trump was already known as an opportunist, and a con man who reneged on his debts, avoided the draft, and was truly a racist and misogynist. Concerning misogyny, one defense has been he comes from a different generation. Sorry, I come from that generation and we had a lot of education about how to deal with the traditional pattern of male privilege. Was Donald Trump not alive in the 1960s. In other words, this is a lie rather than a defense.

At the time of signing with NBC his behaviour with women was already well known. Author Harry Hurt in his book “Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump,”cited an incident that occurred with Ivana Trump in 1989 Hurt obtained a copy of Ivan Trump’s sworn divorce deposition, from 1990, in which she stated that, the previous year, her husband had raped her in a fit of rage. In Hurt’s account, Trump was furious that a “scalp reduction” operation he’d undergone to eliminate a bald spot had been unexpectedly painful. Ivana had recommended the plastic surgeon. In retaliation, Hurt wrote, Trump yanked out a handful of his wife’s hair, and then forced himself on her sexually.

[- New Yorker – October 16, 2016, Author Jane Mayer.]

According to a report by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, which examined the divorce records, Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination approximately a hundred times when Ivana’s lawyers asked him about adulterous relations with other women. [dailykos.com – October 18, 2016]

In 1993 Trump was his former business partner in one of his children’s bedrooms at Mara Lago. According to her, he groped her breasts and grabbed her genitals. This was cited in an 1997 lawsuit. [The Guardian – July 20, 2016]. Then there were alleged incidents in 1997 [three incidents], 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005 [three incidents], 2006 [three incidents] and 2007. [The Guardian June 24, 2019]

Currently there are twenty four women who have accused your president of sexual misconduct [ABC News June 25, 2019.]

But that seems to have been okay with NBC because it was all about NBC making money. The program made Trump a national figure and laid important ground work for his rise on the national political stage. A soulless character for a soulless media.

It is ironic that Trump initially resisted joining The Apprentice, because in his view, reality television was for bottom feeders. It now seems a perfect match given his personality disorder and lack of ethics. Also perhaps he realized that bottom feeders are easier to fool.

Trump’s cheating small contractors, and other persons is well known. Jennifer McGovern, a former employee of Trump Mortgage, brokered a $26,500,000 financing, for which she earned more than $500,000 in commissions for Trump Mortgage. Trump Mortgage collected the commission, but stiffed McGovern, who filed a lawsuit. In 2009, McGovern obtained a judgment of $298,274 against Trump Mortgage. As of March 2016, the judgment remained unsatisfied.

In 1984, Trump opened Harrah’s at Trump Plaza. According to ‘This Week’, in an article, ‘A brief history of Trump’s small-time swindles’, Jeff Spross tells the story of Trump refusing to make the final payment to a cabinet maker. That cabinet maker subsequently went bankrupt. In Trump’s business history there is a list of lawsuits. These include a suit from a painter for an upaid bill, unpaid. It also includes unpaid bills from servers at functions, a drapery supplier, toilet partition installers, a chandelier company and previous law firms he dealt with. Over the years over 3500 law suits have been made by contractors, women and financial institutions.

Once on the air, according to Allen Salkin and Aaron Short in their book The Method to the Madness, Season 1 came down to two possible winners, one black, one white. Trump as further corroboration that he is a racist according to the authors said:

According to Pruitt, during the huddle, “Trump says, ‘But will America buy a Nigger (Pruitt would not repeat but did confirm Trump’s use of the word) — ‘winning?’ He’s staring right at Carolyn, who is standing in silence. Her alabaster skin turned a deep shade of red. We were hanging on her words, and she says nothing. Carolyn was standing, leaning two hands on the table supporting her. And she says nothing.”

-from USA Today, July 8, 2019

But his history had no apparent effect on NBC’s decision making. Or perhaps made him more enticing. After all, eyeballs are everything because they translate into revenue. Ethics appear to have been tossed out the window, if they were ever there in the first place.

Try Googling how much money NBC made from the Apprentice. What we get is a listing of how much money Trump did or did not make [there are claims he exaggerated his paycheck]. What is stunningly absent is how much NBC made from the show.

NBC received and continues to receive a double dividend from Trump. Not only did they presumably make money from the original show, now that they promoted a huckster they derive profit from eyes glued to MSNBC outlining what a criminal president he is. Good work if you can find it, although at a significant cost to American democracy.

Anyone who has in the past hired staff, knows one factor we look at is ‘personal suitability’. Personal suitability encompasses a number of factors but clearly a bully and a misogynist would would rule out an applicant for most companies. It appears the sole issue for NBC in hiring Trump was audience size and revenue. That is a familiar refrain when criticizing Trump, that he is obsessed with audience size and popularity. It is those same values that NBC sought and then propelled Trump to the national and international stage.

Is it not time for Americans looked into what is left of their souls and ask questions about what kind of values they and their media cultivate for profit at any cost?

A Return to North America – Awakening

The need for political change

Travel is one thing, which we love but so also is the state of political crisis in the United States that flows over to Canada and the rest of the world. Over the coming weeks we will write our assessment of what is going on in the United States. It is dire.

In the meantime we urge you to listen and support a U.S. activist and blogger, Elizabeth Cronise McLaughlin.