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Daily Archives: February 26, 2008

UAE jails 45 Indian workers after pay-rise protest

A Dubai court has sentenced 45 Indian construction workers to six months in jail followed by deportation over a violent protest to demand wage increases, a local newspaper reported yesterday.
The Court of Misdemeanour found the workers guilty of endangering public security, damaging property and inciting other workers to strike over pay rises, the Gulf News daily quoted a senior court official as saying.
"There are legal channels and legitimate methods for workers who deem they are underpaid to claim their rights instead of rioting violently and unlawfully," Judge Jasem Baqer, Head of Dubai Criminal Court, told the daily.
"This is a first-of-a-kind ruling," the judge said.
The newspaper did did not say when the ruling was handed down.
But it quoted court records as saying that some of the accused confessed to orchestrating violence and inciting others to riot by distributing and posting pamphlets at workers' accommodation.
The booming city-state of Dubai is going through a construction frenzy and has seen several labour strikes over the past months, with thousands of Asian workers demanding higher wages and better living conditions.
Expatriates from the Indian subcontinent and southeast Asia comprise around 75 percent of the workforce in the United Arab Emirates, where foreigners make up nearly 85 percent of the 5.6-million population, according to a recent unofficial study.

Violence is golden as ‘No Country’ dominates Oscars

by Rob Woollard*

Violent thriller "No Country for Old Men" won the best picture Oscar at the 80th Academy Awards late Sunday as European stars scored a clean sweep in the acting honours in an historic Hollywood night.
"No Country for Old Men" emerged as the biggest winner of the evening, scooping four Oscars including best director for brothers Joel and Ethan Coen, best adapted screenplay and best supporting actor for Javier Bardem.
The film, a bleak and bloody drama about a drug deal that goes wrong and its murderous aftermath, was the overwhelming pre-Oscars favourite.
"Ethan and I have been making stories with movie cameras since we were kids … what we do now doesn't feel that much different than what we were doing," Joel Coen said after collecting the best director award.
"We're very thankful to all of you out there for letting us continue to play in our corner of the sandbox."
The evening's acting awards were dominated by European talent, with France's Marion Cotillard winning best actress for "La Vie En Rose" and Ireland's Daniel Day-Lewis winning best actor for "There Will be Blood.
Cotillard, 32, won for her astounding performance as tragic chanteuse Edith Piaf, becoming the first Frenchwoman to win the best actress Oscar since Simone Signoret in 1960.
It was the only second time in Oscars history that the best actress award had gone to a performance in a non-English speaking role. Italian legend Sophia Loren was the other woman to achieve the feat in 1962.
Cotillard, who received the award from 2007 best actor Forest Whitaker, paid tribute to her director before exclaiming: "Thank you life, thank you love. It is true that there are some angels in this city. Thank you so, so much."
The British-born Day-Lewis received his award from British actress Helen Mirren, last year's winner for her role in "The Queen" quipping: "That's the closest I'll ever come to getting a knighthood."
The supporting actor and actress awards went to Spain's Javier Bardem for his performance as a psychopathic hitman in "No Country for Old Men" and Britain's Tilda Swinton, who played a scheming corporate legal chief in "Michael Clayton."
Bardem's award made him the first performer from Spain ever to win an acting Oscar. "Thank you to the Coens for being crazy enough to think that I could do that and putting one of the most horrible haircuts in history on my head," he added, referring to the bizarre coiffure given to his character in the film.
Bardem also thanked his actress mother after receiving the award.
"My mother's been working for almost 50 years, and she knows everything about all this; the ups, the downs, the dark, the light, and it's a great companion, to have her on my side," he said.
Swinton meanwhile paid tribute to her agent after receiving her statuette with one of the night's best acceptance speeches.
"Oh, no. Happy birthday, man," Swinton said, clutching her Oscar statuette. "I have an American agent who is the spitting image of this. Really truly the same shape head and, it has to be said, the buttocks."
It was the first time since 1965 that European performers won all four of the acting awards.
In other highlights, Austria's "The Counterfeiters" won the best foreign film award for its true story of a group of Jewish prisoners recruited by the Nazis to mount one of the largest counterfeiting operations in history.
Overall, the awards went largely to the form book, with the the grim "No Country for Old Men" making a killing to claim the top awards.
However Paul Thomas Anderson's "There Will Be Blood", which had been nominated in eight categories, finished with only two awards, for cinematography and Day-Lewis.
The second best performing film in terms of Oscars was action movie "The Bourne Ultimatum", which snaffled three prizes in the technical categories.
Oscar host Jon Stewart had opened the show with a joke about the crop of "Oscar-nominated psychopathic killer movies" in his monologue.
"Does this town need a hug? What happened? 'No Country For Old Men?' 'Sweeney Todd?' 'There Will Be Blood?' All I can say is, thank God for teen pregnancy. I think the country agrees," Stewart said in a nod to best picture nominee "Juno", which won a best original screenplay Oscar.
The Hollywood A-list meanwhile was reminded of the grim realities of the world beyond the red carpet as the best documentary Oscar went to Alex Gibney's harrowing "Taxi to the Dark Side."
The film spotlights interrogation techniques at US military facilities, investigating the death in custody of a young Afghan taxi driver, called Dilawar, at a prison in Afghanistan in 2002.
Stormy weather could not stop Hollywood's stars from dazzling the Oscars red carpet, where the celebratory red dress was as popular as ever.
Presenter Dame Helen Mirren wore a red duchess satin dress with a pleated bodice and silver beaded sleeves with diamante clutch. Jimmy Choo red platforms completed a perfect ensemble.