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The World Should Not Tolerate Modern-Day Slavery in Qatar
Qatar, host of the 2022 World Cup, is constructing event infrastructure with what basically amounts to modern-day slave labor. Where is the outrage?
We've still got seven years to go until the 2022 World Cup and it's already an unmitigated disaster. Allegations of corruption and bribery haven't stopped FIFA chief Sepp Blatter (who is something of a James Bond villain masquerading as a sports executive) from doubling-down on the organization's questionable (and probably corrupt) decision to award the sporting event to the tiny, oil-rich Arab nation.
[EDIT - 6/1/2015: Blatter and his cronies have since been given their comeuppance, though World Cup 2022 plans remain solid.]
The tournament has since been moved to winter due to insane outdoor temperatures during the Qatari summer, a move that places the World Cup smack in the middle of most club league seasons.
Soccer fans who might travel to Qatar are, as of now, offered no guarantee that the human rights they enjoy elsewhere will be protected in a country where, for example, homosexuality is illegal.
FIFA has covered up a report that likely points to ethical lapses that allowed Qatar to win the 2022 bid and for Russia to secure the 2018 event.
You can click any of the above links and spend hours poring over the tangled web of corruption that FIFA has spun. It's hard to make NFL commissioner Roger Goodell look like a saint in comparison, but that's exactly what Blatter and company have done.
Still, in this day and age, corruption is to be expected from powerful sports executives, writes the foul-mouthed yet wisdom-spitting Drew Magary of Deadspin. That said, all the corruption mentioned above doesn't begin to touch the surface of FIFA's greatest affront to basic human dignity:
"Qatar's World Cup infrastructure is being built using Moses-era slavery practices. ... Thanks to FIFA's open fondness for bribery, 4,000 migrant workers are expected to die in service of a shortened World Cup that has been moved right into the heart of the professional soccer universe's regular season schedule. It will be terrible in every conceivable way."
Magary writes that, as a sports fan, he's open to suspending certain ethical apprehensions for personal enjoyment. After all, this is the mindset of all those who follow sports like boxing, where the aim is for each athlete is to give the other a traumatic brain injury. And it's not like the 2014 World Cup in Brazil wasn't itself a mess of ethical violations. But when it comes to slavery, Magary has to put his foot down. He wants the U.S. Men's National Team to boycott the tournament:
"That has to end. I am a sports fan, which means that I am willing to put up with a lot of corrupt jackassery from my owners and commissioners and college presidents. It's baked right into the system. But come the [naughty word] on. This is insane. ... We shouldn't tolerate what's going on over in Qatar. We should pull out, and we should do it now."
It's not like this hasn't been a well-reported story. No one is hiding the fact that migrant workers from Nepal and various Southeast Asian nations are being labored to death while building infrastructure for a World Cup no one is excited for outside of high-class Qataris and fat-cat FIFA execs. But for whatever reason, international outcry has been tepid at best. You hear more about people angry that the event is happening in the winter than outrage over slavery.
Magary is right. If appeals to logic and human dignity won't convince FIFA to step in and/or move the tournament, appeals to their wallet will. Several well-known brands such as Sony have already ended FIFA sponsorship, primarily because they understandably don't want to be associated with slavery. Perhaps if greater awareness were to be spread and organizations such as the U.S. Men's National Team pulled out, FIFA's major partners like Coca-Cola would follow suit.
If world leaders are really as dedicated to eradicating modern-day slavery as they like to think they are, the 2022 World Cup needs to become a more major battlefield in that effort.
Read more at Deadspin.
Photo credit: Philip Lange / Shutterstock
What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
With just a few strategical tweaks, the Nazis could have won one of World War II's most decisive battles.
- The Battle of Britain is widely recognized as one of the most significant battles that occurred during World War II. It marked the first major victory of the Allied forces and shifted the tide of the war.
- Historians, however, have long debated the deciding factor in the British victory and German defeat.
- A new mathematical model took into account numerous alternative tactics that the German's could have made and found that just two tweaks stood between them and victory over Britain.
Two strategic blunders<p>Now, historians and mathematicians from York St. John University have collaborated to produce <a href="http://www-users.york.ac.uk/~nm15/bootstrapBoB%20AAMS.docx" target="_blank">a statistical model (docx download)</a> capable of calculating what the likely outcomes of the Battle of Britain would have been had the circumstances been different. </p><p>Would the German war effort have fared better had they not bombed Britain at all? What if Hitler had begun his bombing campaign earlier, even by just a few weeks? What if they had focused their targets on RAF airfields for the entire course of the battle? Using a statistical technique called weighted bootstrapping, the researchers studied these and other alternatives.</p><p>"The weighted bootstrap technique allowed us to model alternative campaigns in which the Luftwaffe prolongs or contracts the different phases of the battle and varies its targets," said co-author Dr. Jaime Wood in a <a href="https://www.york.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/2020/research/mathematicians-battle-britain-what-if-scenarios/" target="_blank">statement</a>. Based on the different strategic decisions that the German forces could have made, the researchers' model enabled them to predict the likelihood that the events of a given day of fighting would or would not occur.</p><p>"The Luftwaffe would only have been able to make the necessary bases in France available to launch an air attack on Britain in June at the earliest, so our alternative campaign brings forward the air campaign by three weeks," continued Wood. "We tested the impact of this and the other counterfactuals by varying the probabilities with which we choose individual days."</p><p>Ultimately, two strategic tweaks shifted the odds significantly towards the Germans' favor. Had the German forces started their campaign earlier in the year and had they consistently targeted RAF airfields, an Allied victory would have been extremely unlikely.</p><p>Say the odds of a British victory in the real-world Battle of Britain stood at 50-50 (there's no real way of knowing what the actual odds are, so we'll just have to select an arbitrary figure). If this were the case, changing the start date of the campaign and focusing only on airfields would have reduced British chances at victory to just 10 percent. Even if a British victory stood at 98 percent, these changes would have cut them down to just 34 percent.</p>
A tool for understanding history<p>This technique, said co-author Niall Mackay, "demonstrates just how finely-balanced the outcomes of some of the biggest moments of history were. Even when we use the actual days' events of the battle, make a small change of timing or emphasis to the arrangement of those days and things might have turned out very differently."</p><p>The researchers also claimed that their technique could be applied to other uncertain historical events. "Weighted bootstrapping can provide a natural and intuitive tool for historians to investigate unrealized possibilities, informing historical controversies and debates," said Mackay.</p><p>Using this technique, researchers can evaluate other what-ifs and gain insight into how differently influential events could have turned out if only the slightest things had changed. For now, at least, we can all be thankful that Hitler underestimated Britain's grit.</p>
We’ve mapped a million previously undiscovered galaxies beyond the Milky Way. Take the virtual tour here.
See the most detailed survey of the southern sky ever carried out using radio waves.
Astronomers have mapped about a million previously undiscovered galaxies beyond the Milky Way, in the most detailed survey of the southern sky ever carried out using radio waves.
A new study shows our planet is much closer to the supermassive black hole at the galaxy's center than previously estimated.
Credit: NAOJ<p><em>Arrows on this map show position and velocity data for the 224 objects utilized to model the Milky Way Galaxy. The solid black lines point to the positions of the spiral arms of the Galaxy. Colors reflect groups of objects that are part of the same arm, while the background is a simulation image.</em></p>
Apple sold its first iPod in 2001, and six years later it introduced the iPhone, which ushered in a new era of personal technology.