May 6th, 2004


Disney CEO blocks distribution of new Michael Moore film.

Disney CEO Michael Eisner's decision to block the distribution of Michael Moore's new movie has turned what should've been a slam-dunk, profitable business venture into an ugly example of Disney censorship and corporate politics.

Now, instead of just alienating those who believe in more lenient copyright laws, classic animation, and consumer-friendly digital rights, Michael Eisner (and, as a result, Disney) has alienated numerous free speech organizations, and even prominent Democratic organizations, who are calling for people to Boycott Disney.

And rightfully so, I might add. It's definitely time to Save Disney by dumping Eisner. His ineptitude and ego has cost Disney its legacy as the world's leading producer of quality animation. It has also destroyed Disney's creative and overwhelmingly successful partnership with Pixar -- arguably the most successful film partnership of the last 50 years.

I have an interview on the upcoming King Arthur movie distributed by Disney / Touchstone Pictures in my journal that gets a lot of traffic from fan sites, so I've appended a little message to the beginning of the interview, just to make my views clear on this matter...

Forced labor in Iraq?

The Boston Globe reports that four Indian workers who were hired by a recruiting agency in India as contract foriegn labor in Kuwait arrived there, only to be ordered by U.S. troops to board a bus bound for a base in Iraq.

They were made to wash clothes, cook, do laundry, etc., all while facing frequent attacks on the base, and were paid a fraction of what they were supposed to recieve. When they complained about their treatment, they were denied the right to leave, and were in some cases beaten by U.S. soldiers. They also reported that in some cases they didn't get adequate food and water. They finally escaped after paying a Iraqi truck driver to smuggle them off base.

I saw reports on this in the Indian press a few days ago, but apparently there are 16 Indian contractors who have similar accounts, so the Western media is now taking this story seriously.

What's the proper word for this? Kidnapping? Slavery? Somehow the phrase "bad labor practices" just doesn't cut it. I've seen lots of soldiers complain about how hard it is to get their laundry cleaned over in Iraq, but I have a feeling that if they thought that their uniforms were being cleaned by foriegn forced labor, they would grab a bucket, a bar of soap, a pair of rocks and do the job themselves.

This is a fairly big issue, because the Indian government has barred its citizens from working in Iraq, yet there are apparently thousands of Indian soldiers who are contracting for security companies within Iraq. This may change, however, as India might hold the U.S. responsible for the return of its citizens to India as soon as possible.

Chalk up another 15% of the world's population who have a reason to dislike Americans, I guess.

*** Update: This article identifies the location of the base where the Indians were reportedly held as being Talafar, a town approximately 235 miles NW of Baghdad. The 1st Batalion of the 101st Airborne Division are based out of the airfield located there.