Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Good news on the zoo and on property.

A couple of positive news stories caught my eye in the papers this morning.

Zoo relocation

The long overdue relocation of Dubai Zoo seems to be going ahead at last, which will please animal lovers - not to mention pleasing the poor overcrowded animals.

It's the third time in five years that a new location has been announced, so let's hope this is final and the thing gets built quickly. The current zoo is a disgrace, a blot on Dubai's name. It's more like a Victorian zoo with the 1,200 animals cramped in tiny cages.

The new location is to be Dubailand, on a 500 acre block, and it will be constructed in stages with the first stage to be started this year. Stage one will be to rehouse the animals from Jumeirah Zoo and the target is to have that completed within eighteen months.

Real estate

The second story that pleased me was the report that from Sunday the new laws regarding real estate cowboys agents/brokers are to be enforced.

Dubai, and the UAE as a whole, is playing catch-up in so many areas, the explosion of growth forging ahead of infrastructure, laws, rules & regulations. Real estate is one critical area that needed swift action, particularly because of its effect on confidence in Dubai as a place to do business.

There have been complaints from the beginning of the move to allow foreigners to buy property about unscrupulous, unprofessional, untrained agents and brokers. Just over a week ago the government announced its broker registration laws. Now it is announced that as of Sunday the government will refuse to register sales transactions made by unlicenced brokers.

You can read the full stories at:
New zoo to have camel safari.
Real estate brokers face Sunday reality.

But the real big news of the day of course is that the UAE won the Gulf Cup last evening. Mabrook to all involved in the historic achievement. The only goal of the match was very well set up and well taken, worthy of winning the match.

If you're interested in football, the story is at Mattar lights up UAE skies

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Love it!

I've just read this in the (UK) Guardian and I had to post it for anyone who wants a giggle, it sounds like a Monty Python script!

Nuns on the run after their Greek knitting business fails

Helena Smith in Athens
Tuesday January 30, 2007
The Guardian

A group of nuns were last night holed up behind the protective walls of the Xenia monastery in the central Greek town of Volos after fleeing their convent when their knitting business failed, leaving nearly half a millon pounds of debt.

Ignoring pleas and protests to return to the fold from Archbishop Christodoulos, the country's fiery spiritual leader, the order's mother superior signalled that the nuns would be staying put, despite mounting consternation from a number of banks.

Yesterday her stance sparked a mini-crisis for the Greek Orthodox church, which, after convening bishops and other top clerics, described the incident as "a first" for the church.

The order, whose 55 members have been described as a "feisty crowd", are believed to have run up the debt after splashing out on six industrial knitting machines to produce woollens that became highly popular with the local community around their convent, close to the Greek-Bulgarian border. They apparently sold products to some 25 chains around Greece. Store owners complained that the nuns had also run off with a substantial amount in pocketed deposits. Apparently they removed their equipment a few days before they disappeared.

Greece's authoritative Kathimerini newspaper reported that the knitting business began to unravel when the nuns accrued massive debts after attending foreign fashion shows in a bid to keep up with the latest designs in woollen garments. They are then believed to have mortgaged the monastery of Kyrikos and Ioulittis to the hilt to pay off the debt.

With the banks demanding the money back, Greece's holy synod says it is confronting one of its worst crises ever involving an order of nuns.

Last night there was little sign that the nuns would come out of hiding, even if Archbishop Christodoulos agreed to take them under his wing. Religious commentators said their convent would probably have to be liquidated to pay off the debt.

The story is here.

Creek 'water-buses' - a pleasant surprise

When I first read about the new 'water-buses' being planned for the Creek I was afraid they were going to be ultra-modern. That wouldn't have sat comfortably with the historic areas on the Creek banks and the origins of the area. There's so little of historic Dubai still to see and anything modern being introduced dilutes it even more. The lack of historic areas is partly due to the fact that there wasn't much of it anyway. It was a very small town even in relatively recent years, added to which is the fact that the building materials used were not long-lasting.

Just to digress for a moment to illustrate that point, here's a photo of Dubai taken in 1971. The photo is by Brett Langevad and I found it at

I repeat, this is Dubai in 1971, just 36 years ago.

Anyway, back to the 'water-buses'. The RTA has now issued an illustration of the design and I must say I'm pleasantly surprised. The RTA website says the design "combines the traditional form of Abra which draws from the UAE heritage and between modernity and the latest advances in modern technology in this area" and the illustration tends to support that claim.

They'll be air-conditioned, seat about 35 passengers and they'll initially run in a loop with two stations either side of the Creek. They'll run every 10 minutes between 6am and midnight.

The stations are in key locations in the downtown area, so it looks as though it has a good chance of working well.

They say that there will be tunnels to link the abra and 'water-bus' stations to the Metro too, a very good plan.

Eventually, and it seems the service will be implemented over the next 15 years, the 'water-bus' will be extended to run along the Jumeirah coast and include the three Palm Islands and The World.

The RTA website is here.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Businesses hit again.

The future of Dubai relies on it being an international commercial hub, a centre for businesses to set up in and operate from. Oil will run out very soon, is already only a small part of the emirate's GDP and the plan is for business to develop and prosper to create an expanding economy.

For the objective to become a reality the emirate has to be commercially competitive. Viable alternative locations abound - in the Gulf, for example, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.

Going against the plan and vision for the future of the country, the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) has announced that VoIP will be banned in the commercial free zones. It currently is available there but not in the rest of the country.

That's yet another added cost of doing business in Dubai, added unnecessarily. Doing business internationally means making lots of international phone calls. As from next month, free zone businesses will have to pay high phone call costs.

Keeping costs under control is a vital part of a successful business. I was already hearing from business owners that they were thinking of moving operations to cheaper locations. Now the TRA has come up with another backward step.

Compete in the modern business world? Not with this kind of retrograde attitude.

Gulf News report is here

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Fixed times for construction?

According to a statement in Emirates Today's lead story, there are fixed working times for construction companies.

"The working hours of construction companies are from 6am to 8pm."

That's news to me!

None other than the head of the engineering supervision section of the Building Department of Dubai Municipality is the source. Fawzi Mohammed Al Shahi is the gentleman in question, and if anyone knows the rules it would be him.

He goes on: "Any company that wants to work for more than this has to get permission from our section. In this case, we study the request and see if is going to disturb the residents. If it doesn't, then we grant them permission for extra hours."

If there is a complaint, inspectors are sent to measure the noise levels. The story says that levels of noise should not rise above 55 decibels during the day and 45 decibels at night, as per international standards. It goes on to say that these figures are quieter than a normal conversation between two people, which is said to generally hit levels between 60 and 70 decibels.


Is there any construction site in Dubai that doesn't work after 8pm? Driving around in the evening I see the vast majority of sites still working well after 8pm. I'm surrounded by them too, and I can't think of more than one or two that aren't going through the night. Did they all apply for and receive permission?

I'll add it to my examples of laws not being enforced.

Emirates Today story

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Another construction site death.

What a bad few days this has been for construction workers. The roof collapse, the tower fire, now scaffolding collapse.

One worker dead and two seriously injured, the reports say, when scaffolding they were standing on collapsed. This was on a thirteen storey building in Al Nahda, behind Sahara Centre.

Photo. Asghar Khan/Gulf News

There are suggestions that vibrations from digging for cable-laying nearby might have been the cause. That's another thing for the authorities to investigate.

There's an obvious need for safety standards to be imposed on construction sites as a matter of extreme urgency. The two injured workers are said to have escaped death because they had their safety belts on.

I suppose there are two positives to have come out of the recent tragedies. One is the spotlight that's been focused on safety issues. Hopefully this will mean less accidents in the future.

The other is that the companies involved have been quick to offer compensation to the families of the victims and to injured workers. The company involved in this latest incident say they will cover the medical bills, no wages of workers undergoing medical treatment will be cut and the dead worker's family will be compensated. He was only 25.

Gulf News story: Scaffolding collapse kills worker.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Tower fire update

There's better news today about the fire in the inaptly named Fortune Tower.

They now say that two workers died as a result of the fire, not four as earlier reported. And less were injured than the earlier reports, the figure is now thirty-seven.

Still too much death and injury, but better than the original figures.

It's also been announced by the Fortune Investment Group that they will pay compensation to the families of the dead men and to injured workers. That's over and above any legal insurance claims and any compensation that may be paid by the contractors.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Marching forward to the past.

Big news on Page 3 of Emirates Today this morning:

"In a very innovative solution to the rising demand for hotel accommodation, Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) has chartered two cruise liners. It is expected to fill the void in the industry because of forthcoming events and exhibitions in the capital.

The cruise liners will be berthed in the UAE capital as floating hotels from today until the end of February.


Back in 1977, when I first arrived in Dubai, a ship was moored on the Creek on Deira-side that was used for exactly the same reason. There was another in Sharjah too.

Here's my photo taken in 1977...

Friday, January 19, 2007

Reports of four dead in tower fire.

Sadly the fire at Jumeirah Lake Towers yesterday is reported to have cost four workers their lives.

Photo. David Renkwitz. Gulf News.

Many more were hospitalised but thankfully the biggest problems seem to be smoke inhalation and minor burns and all are expected to recover quickly.

The emergency services seem to have done an excellent job, so congratulations to everyone involved. I have enormous respect for the emergency services, especially firefighters. I've said in my posts about the Aussie bushfires that the word 'hero' has been overused to the point of it being meaningless, but firefighters to me are true heroes. They run towards the thing that the rest of us are running away from in terror.

Apart from the deaths and injuries there were some other worrying aspects about the emergency that became apparent.

Safety standards

The first is site safety and safety training for employees. There seem to be several things that need to be looked at as a matter of urgency, not only at this site but at all others, indicated by this report:

Speaking from Dubai Hospital where he was being treated for smoke inhalation, Moataz Khalil, the general supervisor at the site said the first couple of floors were blocked.

"There was a special lift but the workers could not access it," he said.

He said when he rushed in with Civil Defence officers, the place was engulfed in smoke and there was only darkness. "The staircase from the beginning of the 15th floor was locked and I had to unlock all the doors," he said.

He said they ran up through the fire escape staircase and as they reached the 15th floor, one Civil Defence officer started helping the workers stuck on the higher floors.

"The workers were in a very shaky state. The very brave Civil Defence worker and I tried our best to get everyone out," he said.

"Some of the workers escaped the fire and smoke hanging onto wires outside the building and others were taken by the Civil Defence worker and me to the roof," he said.

Lifts not accessible, doors locked, workers not trained where to go, how to escape the fire? Surely that shouldn't be acceptable.

Emergency service locations

The other thing is the emergency services vehicles having to fight the traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road to try to get to the site.

Jumeirah Lake Towers is in the midst of 'New Dubai', with its hundreds of towers, thousands of villas, plus malls, hotels and so on. Surely long ago we should have had fire, police, ambulance stationed in the area. A public hospital too.

They have a hard enough job to do and people's lives depend on their rapid response. To give them the added obstacle of fighting traffic on the busiest road in Dubai to get to the scene is asking too much.

The stories are in Gulf News: Tower fire traps workers.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Major fire at construction site

Not a good week for the labourers of Dubai.

Yesterday we had reports of a roof collapse which caused one death and several injuries, on a construction site in Academic City.

This afternoon there was a fire towards the top of a building under construction at Jumeirah Lake Towers. There are reports of one worker falling to his death, others rescued from the roof by helicopter. The Gulf News story has a photo which I'm afraid seems to show the worker falling.

I just went to check and the fire is out. Emergency services, police, fire, ambulances, are there in big numbers and a helicopter is still buzzing about.

The yellow fire trucks and ambulances in big numbers.

You can see from the photo below that the building has a flat roof so I guess that many workers would have gone there to wait for the helicopters.

There are burn marks, from smoke I imagine, on the top three floors on the far right of the photo.

Gulf News' story is at Rescue drama after building fire.

The previous day's bad news is at Worker dies as roof collapses.

What is going on?

Just a PS to my post, below, about the road system planning stuff-up at Dubai Marina.

This wasn't a slight misjudgement on the part of the road 'planners' if what they're up to now is any indication. There's some major work going on, ripping up the whole road...

They had a Master Plan of the development, on which they presumably designed the road system. They built the roads a year ago. How could they possibly have got it so wrong?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Aussie bushfire crisis worsening...

...eight homes lost, over one million hectares burnt in Victoria.

Fire crosses into New South Wales, ski resort town evacuated, National Parks closed.

Photo: Angela Wylie. Sydney Morning Herald

Residents of Thredbo were given the bad news this afternoon that bushfires 10 times worse than the 2003 blaze may threaten their properties, but with a typical steely resolve most were determined to remain and fight to save their homes and resorts should the need arise.

All visitors at the town have been evacuated, and entry is closed.

And in Victoria, also fighting the beast:

David Heffer and his partner Andy Corwe watched in horror last night as fire came to the doorstep of their Steiglitz home.

The couple managed to save their home near the tiny township, 80km west of Melbourne, but their neighbours weren't so lucky.

Mark Wilkinson, his wife Helen and their two young children lost their home in the blaze last night.

Today, Mr Heffer's red-brick home is untouched by fire, but the yard and surrounds are scorched and still smouldering. All that is left of the garden, once full of tussocks and native grasses, is stumps and ash.

'Bugger it, this is my place'

Pauline Lorenz and her family were preparing for the worst. They packed two cars full of their possessions and were waiting on the verandah for the fire to come.

"It's like, 'Bugger it, this is my place, and you're not going to have it.'"

Currently there are plenty of urgent warnings:

URGENT THREAT Archerton, Toombullup, Tolmie, Bunstons sub-division, Masons Road, Upper 15 Mile Creek. Spot fires and erratic fire behaviour in the Stringybark Road, Peppermint Road, Spring Creek Road and Bunstons Road areas.

And it's not looking good for the next few days:

'Worst bushfre crisis'

Earlier today, Premier Steve Bracks warned that Victoria is in the grip of the one of the worst bushfire crises in the state's history.

The Premier has cut short his holiday and returned to work after a fire in north-east Victoria cut transmission lines yesterday and sparked blackouts across the state.

Today Mr Bracks attended a briefing with Emergency Services Commissioner Bruce Esplin and Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon.

The meeting was told the next three days were critical and conditions were expected to be even worse on Saturday than they were yesterday, when eight houses were lost and temperatures soared into the 40s, Mr Bracks said.

"When I came back in this morning and had the briefing and learned that Saturday was going to be worse than yesterday, it just sends shivers up your spine because we all saw how bad yesterday was," he said.

"I think it will go down as one of our worst bushfire episodes in Victoria ever, and that's saying something in the state that had the 1939 fires, the 1983 fires and even the 2002/03 fires.

"This is the worst bushfire conditions we have ever had in Victoria's history because it is going to go on and it is going to get worse.

"We have never encountered this in Victoria before.

"This is 48 days ... of fire activity and one million hectares which have been burnt, and of course we are bracing ourselves for some very, very tough conditions."

Fingers crossed...

The stories:

House spared as fire hits neighbours.

Thredbo evacuated as fires cross border

Fire heading for Thredbo.

Monday, January 15, 2007

More planning mistakes.

No prizes for guessing - it's the road planners yet again.

The latest stupidity is in Dubai Marina, so I don't know which particular group of what's hysterically known as planners is responsible - RTA, Emaar, Municipality...

There's been a Master Plan for years and you would assume the roads were designed to cater for the residences, retail outlets, hotels that are shown on that plan. Designed to cope with the volume of traffic and to direct traffic flow in the most effective way.


The roads were built, finished, in use for a they're being changed completely.

The fourth bridge across the marina has been open a couple of days, the dual carriageway to it for just over a year. The un-named dual carriageway that runs around the edge of Dubai Marina on the land side has also been finished a year or so. Now on both roads the central reservation is being dug up in several places, a new system is being built and traffic flow is totally different from the original plan.

This was a continuous central reservation until yesterday.

On the bridge approach road a roundabout is going in. So what was planned and built as a continuous dual carriageway now has a roundabout in the middle. The traffic flow from adjacent roads has been changed completely from what was originally planned and built.

On the outer road it's anyone's guess what latest change they've come up with, it's a huge confusing mess of cones, flags, bits of timber, chalk marks. Parts of the central reservation have been demolished, lanes changed. No warning signs of course, all but no directional signs. But once again the traffic flow is entirely different from the original plan.

That's Jumeirah Lake Towers in the background.

The traffic lights still work, needlessly because the junction is totally coned off, but they're over-ridden by a flagman. He sits there on a crate all day vaguely waving a green flag at the totally confused motorists. You might just see him in the photo, in a lime-green safety jacket between the third & fourth buildings from the left.

The unrelentingly incorrect planning from the roads agencies is appalling. It should also be totally unacceptable and heads should roll. We obviously need to get rid of the incompetents and bring in designers and planners who can actually work things out and come up with the right answers first time. That's what planners are supposed to do.

It wasn't hyperbole when I said in yesterday's post that transport/roads was one of the two major factors, the other being inflation, endangering Dubai's future as a serious commercial centre. They are the two main topics of conversation in both private and business circles.

Companies don't have to be in Dubai, there are alternative cities in the Gulf and further afield. The cost of our bad road planning is felt by every company - staff regularly caught up in traffic instead of being able to work, time wasted trying to get to and from appointments, salesmen wasting selling time stuck in traffic or looking for parking space, cancelled appointments because of traffic snarls, huge lost productivity.

There's also the frustration, the added pollution, the tens of millions in wasted costs.

Every major city has traffic problems and Dubai's will inevitably be worse because of the endless construction. But to plan and complete roads only to re-design them months later, dig them up and start all over again really is totally unacceptable.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Global Village - the good & the bad.

Went to Global Village on Saturday evening - started off at 4pm to get there before the worst of the traffic and it worked. Plenty of parking available at that time too.

It was well worth visiting I thought, plenty of interesting pavilions, ranging in size from large to huge, from a whole range of countries around the world.

India, the biggest busiest pavilion.

The standard of what's available inside varied enormously of course, but that's to be expected. There's the kitsch, the poor quality, the stylish, the good quality. But there are real bargains to be had on all sorts of items.

A 'parade of the puppets' was well done and there's a big variety of other entertainment. You can easily spend several hours there, so fortunately there are plenty of restaurants, take-aways, snack-food outlets.

A couple of interesting small displays were by Abu Dhabi and Dubai jails. The inmates are being trained to produce handicrafts and there are some beautiful examples on display and sale, especially wooden dhows and ornate wooden chests with hand-worked brass decoration. It's all to do with giving the prisoners a chance at a worthwhile job when they get out, so congratulations to all concerned.

But there's always a but.

Problems are needlessly created, as always, by the people in charge of roads and transport.

Inevitably it's them. Whatever you try to do in Dubai there are problems caused by that same group. We have some good places to go, good things to see and do, but the useless road planners spoil it just about every time.

There are two things that are endangering the entire vision for Dubai's future - inflation, with its disastrous effect on conducting a business in Dubai, and the people involved in our transport and road system.

Global Village throws up a couple of their disastrous contributions to chaos on our roads; their 'planning' and their complete lack of thought.

The tens of thousands of visitors driving to Global Village are given one entrance and one exit. Worse, to come out and go to 'New Dubai' you have to drive 10 km in the wrong direction before you can turn and drive the 10 km back to where you started, now facing in the right direction.


After the chaos of jammed in & outs, cars that don't need to be there are made to fight the morons on Emirates Road, have to do an extra 20 km, adding to the congestion, just to cross the bloody road!

Even worse is signage adding to the confusion and the dangers.

I've posted about this before and the stupidity just gets worse. It's hardly rocket science is it, having directional signs and locating them in the right place!

The people responsible have either never driven themselves or they don't have a single brain cell amongst them. My money's on the latter.

Example. The huge new roundabout being completed near Arabian Ranches. Not one bloody sign to tell you which exit to take to get to Global Village. Not one.

If you happen to guess correctly you will find, about 500 metres along the road, a sign to Global Village. Confirmation that you guessed correctly, but that isn't the point is it. Of course the reverse works too - drive for a kilometre or so and not see a Global Village sign and the chances are you took the wrong exit.

Stupid, stupid, stupid!

Locate the bloody signs where they inform drivers where to go, not as a confirmation that they've guessed correctly!

There's the same problem with other signage, as there is all over Dubai.

A sign indicates the lane for Jebel Ali & Abu Dhabi. Take it and a little further on you come to a choice of two roads - but now the signs give you other destinations, there's no mention of Jebel Ali & Abu Dhabi. Again you have to guess, again there's a sign later on that tells you you happened to guess the correct road. Or if you don't see the sign, you guessed wrong.

Take the wrong road and it's anybody's guess where you'll end up, with all the dual-carriageways, flyovers, clover-leafs, underpasses. You can spend hours adding to the congestion by aimlessly driving around looking for a sign to get you on the right road.

It really is an absolute disgrace.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Sub crashes into supertanker

An American nuclear powered submarine has crashed into a 330 metre long Japanese oil tanker in the Gulf.

Three hundred and thirty metres long, painted white, weighs tens of thousands of tonnes, makes a noise, can be seen by the naked eye and by radar.

AP/Gulf News

Was a Dubai car driver in control of the submarine?

Nuclear powered folks. It has a nuclear reactor on board. It's not the sort of thing we want crashing into big solid objects.

All the talk seems to have been about the threat of oil leaks, which thankfully appear to be zero.

But I must say I have more concerns about nuclear spillage on my doorstep.

Could we have a serious investigation please, to make sure that it doesn't happen again. And that whoever was responsible has his licence cancelled.

Here's the story: Vessel traffic unaffected

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Tabloid beat-up.

What a lost opportunity!

We have a real need for independent media, but the one paper we have is nothing more than an amateurish tabloid rag.

Another example this morning. The most important thing going on in the world to the editor's mind, deserving of solo front page coverage, is a hotel beach club allowing only members in.

In true tabloid hysterical style that's not how it's presented of course. No, no. They use the emotive word "banned" in relation to maids instead. And in contrast to the headings, the story goes on to more-or-less tell the facts. Apart from obvious inaccuracies that is.

It really is tabloid journalism at its worst.

Briefly, Le Meridien Mina Seyahi is said by the rag to have banned maids from the restaurant, beach club & kids club.

The hotel says that they are welcome in the restaurant as long as they are paying guests. The GM of the hotel says: "If families wish to bring their maids along as normal paying guests and sit and eat with them, then that is fine." Sounds perfectly reasonable to me. A restaurant isn't the place to go just to sit without eating.

But the beach club is for members only, membership is full and people have not enrolled their maids as members. The kids club has space for the kids, who are looked after by trained staff.

So, maids are not banned from the restaurant and only members are allowed into the beach club. Boy, that's a real front page story isnt it!

We've had the misquoting of Sheikh Khalifa, and the subsequent sacrificial sacking of the reporter, we have endless racist letters being printed, we have obvious spoof letters, usually inflamatory, being printed, we've had the distasteful 'up yours' headline. I could go on, there are many, many examples of what a dreadful tabloid rag 7Days is.

As I said at the beginning, it's a lost opportunity when the need is so great.

I must add the head-shaking description by 'one family' - they don't have a maid, they have...wait for it..."our lovely Filipino resident house assistant." When I read that I nearly had to go and change my underwear.

The 'story' is here.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Muslim Congressman - bigots out from under their rocks.

The good ol' US of A has its first Muslim Congressman, Democrat Keith Ellison. An American, born and bred in Detroit who can trace his American ancestors back to 1742.

Inevitably the paranoid bigots have crept from under their rocks - first there was Virgil Goode (Republican, Virginia) who sent this letter to supporters:

When I raise my hand to take the oath on Swearing In Day, I will have the Bible in my other hand. I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way. The Muslim Representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran. We need to stop illegal immigration totally and reduce legal immigration and end the diversity visas policy pushed hard by President Clinton and allowing many persons from the Middle East to come to this country. I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped.

Save us from the evil and the stupidity of these people! Apart from claiming a link between illegal immigrants and Muslims (taking a lead from BushW's 'link' between Saddam and Al Qaida) and the xenophobic racism, there's the basic stupidity. Ellison is a Muslim, how can he swear on a Christian Bible! Equally, Goode is a Christian (obviously in name only) so he can't swear on the Quran.

Then in a CNN interview there was this:

CNN's Glenn Beck: OK. No offense, and I know Muslims. I like Muslims. I've been to mosques. I really don't believe that Islam is a religion of evil. I -- you know, I think it's being hijacked, quite frankly.

With that being said, you are a Democrat. You are saying, "Let's cut and run." And I have to tell you, I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, "Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies."

And I know you're not. I'm not accusing you of being an enemy, but that's the way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way.

Beck, you prat, I have a request for you. Prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.

It's one of the most serious problems the world has - racists and bigots. They hypocritically claim to defend but actually don't believe in or follow the standards of their own societies or their countries' constitutions.

No tolerance. Only they are right, only they can be trusted, only they are patriots. Everyone who doesn't agree with their feverish bigotry, anyone of a different faith, or even a different branch of their own faith, is an enemy of the state.

Not only in America of course, it's an international evil.

In a clever riposte from Rep. Ellison, as the Washington Post reports:

Yet the holy book at tomorrow's ceremony has an unassailably all-American provenance. We've learned that the new congressman -- in a savvy bit of political symbolism -- will hold the personal copy once owned by Thomas Jefferson.

THE bigots always claim to speak on behalf of many others, and there's an interesting comment about Goode's constituents here: Not all of his constituents are narrow-minded bigots.

Other links:

But It's Thomas Jefferson's Koran!

Goode's letter.

Beck's interview.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A 'good service' story!

Parked near the cafe for my early morning two-double-espressos, trotted out of the cafe when I'd finished, jumped into the car, turned the key...nothing.

Not even a suggestion that it was going to start.

Lights, radio, windows all worked, which suggested it wasn't the battery. Starter motor? Probably.

I have insurance with AXA which gives me breakdown recovery, so I called the number. Gave the details, they said the recovery people would call within 10 minutes.

Guess what? They did!

They'd had a few call-outs and were busy but they'd be there as soon as possible.

One hour later the driver called my mobile - he was close by and wanted precise details of where I was parked marooned. He told me the Dubai depot fleet was all tied up so he was from the Sharjah depot. He'd made it from Sharjah to Knowledge Village in an hour at 9am. Amazing.

I'd called the dealer, Galadari Mazda, to tell them the car was on the way. They said they were fully booked today but they'd inspect it tomorrow.

Fair enough.

At 3pm they called: "Mr Seabee, your car needs a new battery. Give me the go-ahead and it'll be ready for you at 4pm."

I called for a taxi, which turned up in ten minutes, got to Galadari at 4pm and there was my car, fixed, ready and waiting.

Not much of a story, but I complain when service isn't up to scratch so it's only fair that I acknowledge this good service delivery.