Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (Arabic محمد بن راشد آل مكتوم; Muḥammad bin Rāshid al Maktūm), also Sheikh Mohammed, Ruler of Dubai

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Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (Arabic محمد بن راشد آل مكتوم; Muḥammad bin Rāshid al Maktūm), also Sheikh Mohammed, Ruler of Dubai
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Image by A.Davey
This billboard, directly across the street from my hotel, depicts Dubai’s ruler against a backdrop of the modern city he and his family have helped create.

In addition to his role as Ruler of Dubai, he is the Prime Minister and Vice President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Wikipedia has this to say about Sheikh Mohammed’s personal life:

"He is the third of Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum’s four sons (members of Dubai’s ruling family Al Maktoum and descendants of the House of Al-Falasi, of which he is the tribal leader)."

"From the age of four, Sheikh Mohammed was privately tutored in Arabic and Islamic Studies. In 1955, he began his formal education at Al Ahmedia School. At the age of 10, he moved to Al Shaab School, and two years later, he went to Dubai Secondary School. In 1966, he and his cousin, Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al-Maktoum, attended the Bell Educational Trust’s English Language School in the United Kingdom."

"His senior wife is Sheikha Hind bint Maktoum bin Juma Al Maktoum whom he married in 1979."

"His best-known junior wife is HRH Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, daughter of King Hussein of Jordan and half-sister of current King Abdullah II of Jordan, whom he married on April 10, 2004, and has one child, a daughter, AlJalila, born December 2, 2007. Sheikh Mohammed has 19 officially acknowledged children: eight sons and eleven daughters."

"Al Maktoum, his sons, and his daughters are known to be avid in the art of traditional Arabic poems, arts, taking part in projects to aid developing countries such as Jordan, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority and Yemen. They are also sport enthusiasts, especially in horse and camel racing."

"For example, in the 15th Asian Games in 2006, son Rashid took the individual gold in Endurance, sons Rashid, Ahmed, Majid, and Hamdan took the team gold in Endurance; niece Latifa took a bronze in Show Jumping; and daughter Maitha led the UAE team in taekwondo."

"Sheikh Mohammed is a major figure in international thoroughbred horse racing and breeding. In late 1981, he purchased Gainsborough Stud at Woolton Hill, near Newbury, Berkshire, United Kingdom. He owns Ballysheehan Stud in County Tipperary, Ireland. He also owns Gainsborough Farms Inc in Versailles, Kentucky."

"His racing operations includes [sic] the ownership of Darley Stables and he is the leading partner in his family’s Godolphin Stables. Sheikh Mohammed hosts the Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest series of horse races.
In the UK, his horses have won numerous important Group One races including several of the British Classic Races."

"His horses have also won the Irish Derby Stakes and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and in the United States the 2006 Preakness Stakes with Bernardini."

"He recently bought the Woodlands Stud empire, the largest in Australia, for $US 420 million."

/ / / /

"Sheikh Mohammed has been accused of encouraging the abduction and enslavement of thousands of boys for use as jockeys in camel races."

"A class-action suit was filed in the United States in an effort to bring him to justice. However, in 2006, American lawyers representing the UAE raised a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, not on its substance but on the grounds that none of the involved parties resided in the U.S."

"In July 2007, judge Cecilia Altonaga accepted the motion and dismissed the suit."

"Since 2000, international equestrian athletes affiliated with UNICEF have worked to end the ‘scourge of modern slavery in mounted sports,’ by putting public and diplomatic pressure on Sheikh Mohammed and the UAE government."

"In 2005, a UNICEF-sponsored programme with the UAE government resulted in the repatriation of hundreds of children formerly enslaved as camel jockeys, and provided them with social services and compensation upon return to their home countries of Pakistan, Sudan, Mauritania, and Bangladesh."

"The UAE government set aside .7 million in initial funding in 2005 with an additional million for the second phase, and to enforce compliance, adopted a law officially banning the practice with penalties of jail time and a ,200 fine."

"UNICEF endorsed the UAE’s efforts and expressed the hopes that ‘the UAE’s programme will serve as a model to other countries in the region, as a means of ending all forms of exploitation of children.’ "

If you’re interested in the Sheik’s political and business careers and his charitable activities, go to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohammed_bin_Rashid_Al_Maktoum

Fruitvale BART Station
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Image by www78
Named after the many fruit orchards that used to dominate the area, Fruitvale was later incorporated into the City of Oakland and gained large populations of African-American and Latino populations who came to work at the shipyards during WWII. By the 1990s, the Latino community began dominating the area, and the main shopping district, centered around the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station, gained a distinctly Mexican feel. For most of the years I was at Berkeley, Fruitvale was known as one of the best places to get authentic burritos.

On January 1, 2009, after celebrating the New Year in San Francisco, Oscar Grant III was returning by BART when he was involved in a large altercation in the West Oakland Station. By the time the train arrived at Fruitvale, seven officers of the BART police arrived and detained several members suspected of the fight. After several people were handcuffed, Officer Johannes Mehserle attempted to handcuff Grant, who was lying face down on the station floor. Grant was allegedly resisting arrest, and Mehserle stood, said, "Get back, I’m gonna tase him." pulled out his gun, and to the horror of onlookers and witnesses taking cell phone videos, shot Grant once in the back (NSFW). Grant was rushed to the hospital, but was pronounced dead the next day. Oscar Grant was 22.

I remember the videos that went viral, the outrage in the street, the long protests that moved throughout the Bay Area, the massive and destructive riots that broke out in downtown Oakland. Mehserle was fired from the BART police force, found guilty of manslaughter, and sentenced to two years, now out on parole. While I give him the benefit of the doubt that he was reaching for his taser and accidentally took out his gun, that is at best gross negligence and two years is far too short. Officer Tony Pirone, who appears to punch the detained suspects, was fired for brutality and is wanted by the state for swindling money. Oscar Grant’s family filed a million lawsuit that was settled.
In 2013, the movie Fruitvale Station was released, coincidentally soon after the controversial verdict of George Zimmerman in the Treyvon Martin case.
Fruitvale, Oakland, California

Coca-Cola’s Talking Waters
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Image by elycefeliz
While in the produce section, I noticed these bottles of water in the "Natural Foods" section of Kroger. What caught my eye were the product names: TAKE US home tonight; CARRY me home; HELP US help you; LIFT US into your cart . . .

mrgreenbiz.wordpress.com/2009/10/01/vitaminwaters-empty-c…

Vitaminwater, Smartwater, Fruitwater and Vitamin Energy are all owned by Coca-Cola, which purchased Glaceau, the maker of Vitaminwater, in 2007 for .1 billion dollars (that’s quite a growing market for sugar water) in order to “upgrade its portfolio of noncarbonated beverages.”

I began to read the contents and had quite an eye-opening moment. Vitaminwater had “natural” ingredients like “processed crystalline fructose,” “natural” caffeine and a lot of other things I didn’t understand like deionized and/or reverse-osmosis water.

And as I did the math, I realized there were 125 calories in one of those sexy bottles, along with 32.5 grams of sugar …”natural” of course. Hmm … that’s almost what a can of Coca-Cola has.

As it turns out, the need for Coke to “upgrade” its portfolio of noncarbonated beverages was motivated in part because of two things that were happening in the market place. First, there has been a drop-off in sales of carbonated drinks like Coke and Pepsi as people aimed to get healthier. According to a Beverage Digest report that came out in March, U.S. carbonated soft drink volume fell for the fourth straight year in 2008. Coca-Cola’s soft drink volume declined 3.1 percent.

And furthermore, sales of bottled water — for Coke it is Dasani, the second-largest bottled water sold in the U.S. (PepsiCo has Aquafina, which has the largest market share) — were also dropping. A key reason: The national campaign by groups like Food and Water Watch and Corporate Accountability International to get people to switch from bottled water, which is an environmental hazard, to tap water, which is often healthier, was working.

The massive advertising effort to scare people into thinking that their tap water wasn’t healthy has been effective, fabricating the need for bottled water. The result is a huge toll on the environment. Americans use more than 50 billion disposable plastic water bottles a year.

The fact that a substantial part of the bottled-water market is shipped from thousands of miles away also creates a huge carbon footprint (think Fuji, and Pellegrino from Italy). San Francisco, Phoenix, Chicago and New York state decided to forbid their governments from spending public money to purchase bottled water. So, instead of continued growth, the bottled-water market started going south.

But Coca-Cola wasn’t about to leave all those customers to drink tap water — no profit there. With tens of millions of dollars invested in celebratory marketing, including the rapper 50 Cent, and with a message consumers wanted to hear — they were going to get healthier drinking the stuff — Coca-Cola launched a very savvy marketing effort to create a mass audience for Vitaminwater.

A key goal was to move two groups — ex-Coca-Cola addicts and reformed bottled-water drinkers — over to the hyped Vitaminwater. But the reality is they were packaging empty calories and caffeine into a slick new bottle that gives the illusion of health.

Class-Action Suit Against Vitaminwater

In January 2009 the Coca-Cola Co. was served notice of a class-action lawsuit filed over what the Center for Science in Public Interest (CSPI) says are deceptive and unsubstantiated claims on its Vitaminwater line of beverages.

“Vitaminwater is more likely to increase a regular consumer’s chances of being obese or developing diabetes,” says the CSPI.

The CSPI states that Coke markets Vitaminwater as a healthful alternative to soda by labeling its several flavors with such health buzzwords as “defense”, “rescue,” “energy” and “endurance.” It also says the company makes a wide range of dramatic claims, including that its line of drinks variously reduce the risk of chronic disease, eye disease, promote healthy joints and support optimal immune function.

CSPI Litigation Director Steve Gardner said, “Coke fears, probably correctly, that they’ll sell less soda as Americans become increasingly concerned with obesity, diabetes and other conditions linked to diets too high in sugar. Vitaminwater is Coke’s attempt to dress up soda in a physician’s white coat. Underneath, its still sugar water, albeit sugar water that costs about 10 bucks a gallon.”

The CSPI also states that Vitaminwater contains 0 to 1 percent juice, yet the names of the flavors include “Endurance Peach Mango,” “Focus Kiwi Strawberry” and “XXX Blueberry Pomegranate Acai,” when in fact, these flavors contain none of these juices.

www.treehugger.com/files/2009/01/vitaminwater_su.php

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