Adonis Diaries

Archive for September 28th, 2013

I do love sleeping and lying in bed…

Those who says “I’ll have more than my share of sleep when I’m dead…” are missing the great stories when you dream and relax in bed.

Those who actually train for not sleeping, or sleeping short naps, do suffer from mental disorders and need to check with their physicians…

When I manage deep sleep periods, my system needs only 6 hours of sleep, including siesta time in the afternoon.

Otherwise, I love to linger in bed before I fall to sleep, forcing a smile on my face, maintaining the smile as long as my unconscious permit it, re-forcing the smile on, learning to disobey a couple of my unconscious orders, observing how my mind wanders, thinking, and taking my time to breath properly, focusing on my exhaling of the noxious gases that the body generates.

All in all, maybe I spend 9 hours in bed daily, including siesta.

I figured out that inhaling comes natural, but exhaling deeply and properly requires frequent conscious daily sessions. Forceful exhalations are best for relaxing your body and mind.

I believe that my bed is the ideal location for quality time, all mine and for my pleasure and privacy.

Obviously, sweet dreams with colorful images and complex sounds and smiling faces and exotic postures… are always welcomed, but I don’t mind nightmarish dreams, horror and unsettling dreams: It is all part of the game and you have got to join the play, if you wish it or not...

Actually, I refrain from joining in plays or games, and feeling forced to dream whatever comes around is sort of learning to join the game…

I do love sleeping and lying in bed.

Loving the bed is an excellent training ground for the occasional illnesses that rivet you in bed for a few days… and letting your positive reflections make the best of this trying period…

I am learning that if you consciously exhale forcefully, most of the physical ailments and uneasiness are resolved or alleviated…

Occasionally, mother wakes me up in catastrophe, like changing the gas canister, an event that occurs when preparing the morning coffee. After satisfying her desires, I revisit my bed in order to wake up properly, according to my well-oiled habit before starting another day…

Who is Financing Harvard’s Capital Campaign? Taxpayers to the rescue, again?

Public funds for higher education are hard to find.

States have slashed billions from university budgets while the federal government is struggling to keep the Pell Grant program afloat.

It came as a shock when government officials on Saturday announced plans to give $2-billion in taxpayer funds over the next 5 years to a single private university that mostly educates rich people and already has an endowment bigger than the gross domestic product of Bolivia.

Kevin Carey published this Sept. 24, 2013: “How Taxpayers Are Helping to Finance Harvard’s Capital Campaign?”

Actually, government officials didn’t do the announcing. Harvard University did it for them, by launching a $6.5-billion capital campaign, the largest ever.

Harvard, which has an endowment of more than $30-billion, is a “nonprofit” organization, according to a close, technical reading of the law.

That means donations to the campaign are tax-deductible. If we conservatively estimate a 28% marginal federal income-tax rate for donors (the top rate is 39.6 percent), and a similar effective rate for corporate donations, that’s $1.8-billion in forgone revenue.

State income-tax rates vary from zero to more than 10 percent; assuming 5 percent, on average, yields $325-million more, or $2.1-billion total.

Nominally, that represents a savings for donors.

But presumably donors want to give a certain amount of their income to charity. If you reduce the cost of giving by a third via tax preferences, they’ll just increase their donations by that amount.

Which means that Harvard is the real beneficiary of those tax expenditures.

One could argue that the money would have gone to some charity, and therefore the cost to the taxpayers is fixed.

But I feel comfortable asserting that Harvard exists somewhere on the very outer statistical reaches of the universe of nonprofit organizations in terms of wealth and prestige.

The Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless it ain’t. Which means those tax breaks are being diverted either from government services far more likely to help those in need or from nonprofit services far more likely to help those in need.

Most charitable contributions yield no tangible benefit for the donor. Even high-flying social charity balls pay off in mere standing.

University donations, by contrast, are a well-understood part of the shadow admissions-preference market. In other words, taxpayers are spending billions subsidizing the process by which members of the One Percent Club purchase scarce places in the ruling class for their children.

Harvard’s timing is impeccable.

The wealthiest Americans have recovered all the money they lost during the Great Recession and then some, while legions of potentates and businessmen worldwide are eager to buy a piece of the elite American dream for their kids.

Over the last decade, private universities have separated from their public competitors, ramping up spending and poaching faculty members and students. Now they can run up the score.

Plus, they really can’t help themselves.

As the former Harvard president Derek Bok once wrote, “Universities share one characteristic with compulsive gamblers and exiled royalty: There is never enough money to satisfy their desires.”

This gross misallocation of public resources will only subside under 3 scenarios:

1.  if donating your money to absurdly rich universities becomes socially unacceptable.

2. if the shadow admissions-preference market is abolished, perhaps as part of the emerging framework of legal scrutiny derived from affirmative-action litigation. Or

3.  if policy makers change the tax code.

The hard part is distinguishing colleges and universities that really are worthy of public subsidy.

But the more the rich get richer, the easier that will be.

This entry was posted in Cultural priorities, Money, Politics. Bookmark the permalink

Nepalese Slaves working on Qatar World Cup Infrastructure?

Dozens of Nepalese migrant laborers have died in Qatar in recent weeks and thousands more are enduring appalling labor abuses, a Guardian investigation has found, raising serious questions about Qatar’s preparations to host the 2022 World Cup.

This summer, Nepalese workers died at a rate of almost one a day in Qatar.

Many of them young men who had sudden heart attacks.

The investigation found evidence to suggest that thousands of Nepalese, who make up the single largest group of laborers in Qatar, face exploitation and abuses that amount to modern-day slavery, as defined by the International Labour Organisation, during a building binge paving the way for 2022.

Pete Pattisson published in The Guardia this Sept. 25, 2013 World Cup construction ‘will leave 4,000 migrant workers dead’
Analysis: Qatar 2022 puts Fifa’s reputation on the line

According to documents obtained from the Nepalese embassy in Doha, at least 44 workers died between 4 June and 8 August. More than half died of heart attacks, heart failure or workplace accidents.

The investigation also reveals:

1• Evidence of forced labour on a huge World Cup infrastructure project.

2• Some Nepalese men have alleged that they have not been paid for months and have had their salaries retained to stop them running away.

3• Some workers on other sites say employers routinely confiscate passports and refuse to issue ID cards, in effect reducing them to the status of illegal aliens.

4• Some labourers say they have been denied access to free drinking water in the desert heat.

5• About 30 Nepalese sought refuge at their embassy in Doha to escape the brutal conditions of their employment.

The allegations suggest a chain of exploitation leading from poor Nepalese villages to Qatari leaders. The overall picture is of one of the richest nations exploiting one of the poorest to get ready for the world’s most popular sporting tournament.

Link to video: Qatar: the migrant workers forced to work for no pay in World Cup host country

We’d like to leave, but the company won’t let us,” said one Nepalese migrant employed at Lusail City development, a $45bn (£28bn) city being built from scratch which will include the 90,000-seater stadium that will host the World Cup final.

“I’m angry about how this company is treating us, but we’re helpless. I regret coming here, but what to do? We were compelled to come just to make a living, but we’ve had no luck.”

The body tasked with organising the World Cup, the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, told the Guardian that work had yet to begin on projects directly related to the World Cup.

However, it said it was “deeply concerned with the allegations that have been made against certain contractors/sub-contractors working on Lusail City’s construction site and considers this issue to be of the utmost seriousness”. It added: “We have been informed that the relevant government authorities are conducting an investigation into the allegations.”

The Guardian’s investigation also found men throughout the wider Qatari construction industry sleeping 12 to a room in places and getting sick through repulsive conditions in filthy hostels. Some say they have been forced to work without pay and left begging for food.

“We were working on an empty stomach for 24 hours; 12 hours’ work and then no food all night,” said Ram Kumar Mahara, 27.

“When I complained, my manager assaulted me, kicked me out of the labour camp I lived in and refused to pay me anything. I had to beg for food from other workers.”

Almost all migrant workers have huge debts from Nepal, accrued in order to pay recruitment agents for their jobs.

The obligation to repay these debts, combined with the non-payment of wages, confiscation of documents and inability of workers to leave their place of work, constitute forced labour, a form of modern-day slavery estimated to affect up to 21 million people across the globe.

So entrenched is this exploitation that the Nepalese ambassador to Qatar, Maya Kumari Sharma, recently described the emirate as an “open jail.

Nepal embassy record

Record of deaths in July 2013, from all causes, held by the Nepalese embassy in Doha.  Photograph:  /

“The evidence uncovered by the Guardian is clear proof of the use of systematic forced labour in Qatar,” said Aidan McQuade, director of Anti-Slavery International, which was founded in 1839. “In fact, these working conditions and the astonishing number of deaths of vulnerable workers go beyond forced labour to the slavery of old where human beings were treated as objects. There is no longer a risk that the World Cup might be built on forced labour. It is already happening.”

Qatar has the highest ratio of migrant workers to domestic population in the world: more than 90% of the workforce are immigrants and the country is expected to recruit up to 1.5 million more labourers to build the stadiums, roads, ports and hotels needed for the tournament. Nepalese account for about 40% of migrant labourers in Qatar. More than 100,000 Nepalese left for the emirate last year.

The murky system of recruitment brokers in Asia and labour contractors in Qatar leaves them vulnerable to exploitation.

The supreme committee has insisted that decent labour standards will be set for all World Cup contracts, but underneath it a complex web of project managers, construction firms and labour suppliers, employment contractors and recruitment agents operate.

According to some estimates, Qatar will spend $100bn on infrastructure projects to support the World Cup. As well as 9 state-of-the-art stadiums, the country has committed to $20bn worth of new roads, $4bn for a causeway connecting Qatar to Bahrain, $24bn for a high-speed rail network, and 55,000  hotel rooms to accommodate visiting fans and has almost completed a new airport.

The World Cup is part of an even bigger programme of construction in Qatar designed to remake the tiny desert kingdom over the next two decades. Qatar has yet to start building stadiums for 2022, but has embarked on the big infrastructure projects likesuch as Lusail City that, according to the US project managers, Parsons, “will play a major role during the 2022 Fifa World Cup”.

The British engineering company Halcrow, part of the CH2M Hill group, is a lead consultant on the Lusail project responsible for “infrastructure design and construction supervision”. CH2M Hill was recently appointed the official programme management consultant to the supreme committee. It says it has a “zero tolerance policy for the use of forced labour and other human trafficking practices”.

Halcrow said: “Our supervision role of specific construction packages ensures adherence to site contract regulation for health, safety and environment. The terms of employment of a contractor’s labour force is not under our direct purview.”

Some Nepalese working at Lusail City tell desperate stories. They are saddled with huge debts they are paying back at interest rates of up to 36%, yet say they are forced to work without pay.

“The company has kept two months’ salary from each of us to stop us running away,” said one man who gave his name as SBD and who works at the Lusail City marina.

SBD said he was employed by a subcontractor that supplies labourers for the project. Some workers say their subcontrator has confiscated their passports and refused to issue the ID cards they are entitled to under Qatari law.

“Our manager always promises he’ll issue [our cards] ‘next week’,” added a scaffolder who said he had worked in Qatar for two years without being given an ID card.

Without official documentation, migrant workers are in effect reduced to the status of illegal aliens, often unable to leave their place of work without fear of arrest and not entitled to any legal protection. Under the state-run kafala sponsorship system, workers are also unable to change jobs or leave the country without their sponsor company’s permission.

A third worker, who was equally reluctant to give his name for fear of reprisal,  added: “We’d like to leave, but the company won’t let us. If we run away, we become illegal and that makes it hard to find another job. The police could catch us at any time and send us back home. We can’t get a resident permit if we leave.”

Other workers said they were forced to work long hours in temperatures of up to 50C (122F) without access to drinking water.

grieving parents Nepal

Dalli Kahtri and her husband, Lil Man, hold photos of their sons, both of whom died while working as migrants in Malaysia and Qatar.

Their younger son (foreground photo) died in Qatar from a heart attack, aged 20. Photograph: Peter Pattison/

The Qatari labour ministry said it had strict rules governing working in the heat, the provision of labour and the prompt payment of salaries.

“The ministry enforces this law through periodic inspections to ensure that workers have in fact received their wages in time. If a company does not comply with the law, the ministry applies penalties  and refers the case to the judicial authorities.”

Lusail Real Estate Company said: “Lusail City will not tolerate breaches of labour or health and safety law. We continually instruct our contractors and their subcontractors of our expectations and their contractual obligations to both us and individual employees. The Guardian have highlighted potentially illegal activities employed by one subcontractor. We take these allegations very seriously and have referred the allegations to the appropriate authorities for investigation. Based on this investigation, we will take appropriate action against any individual or company who has found to have broken the law or contract with us.”

The workers’ plight makes a mockery of concerns for the 2022 footballers.

“Everyone is talking about the effect of Qatar’s extreme heat on a few hundred footballers,” said Umesh Upadhyaya, general secretary of the General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions. “But they are ignoring the hardships, blood and sweat of thousands of migrant workers, who will be building the World Cup stadiums in shifts that can last eight times the length of a football match.”

• Read the official response to this story

Note: Scale of abuse in Qatar

• The Guardian’s investigation into modern-day slavery is supported by Humanity United. Click here for more information




September 2013

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