Stop, decontaminate and listen: Vanilla Ice tweets from Emirates NYC flight

Vanilla Ice was okay because he was on the upper deck. (AFP)
Updated 06 September 2018

Stop, decontaminate and listen: Vanilla Ice tweets from Emirates NYC flight

  • Vanilla Ice was on the plane, but in the safe confines of the upper deck
  • His video has since gone viral, attracting even more attention than the original story

DUBAI: It was a case of Ice – not so nice – baby for the 1990s hip hop sensation Vanilla Ice – as the Emirates plane he was traveling on from Dubai to New York became the center of a health scare on Wednesday.

The 14-hour long flight on the Emirates A380 hit the headlines when several passengers fell ill – but at the time, what many people were unaware of was that the rapper-cum-TV presenter was on the upper deck.

He had been traveling from Dubai after a day’s stopover from South Africa when the plane was met at JFK Airport by a fleet of emergency service vehicles.

Like all good 21st century celebrities Vanilla Ice’s first reaction was to take to Twitter and tell his people what was happening.

“So I just landed in New York coming back from Dubai and now I’m stuck on the runway with like 1000 police, ambulances, fire trucks, this is crazy,” he tweeted.

His claim of 1,000 police was somewhat over the top – but that didn’t stop it receiving hundreds of likes.

Of course, this didn’t stop him, and moments later he was back on Twitter with an update, reassuring us of his wellbeing.

“This is crazy. Apparently there is over 100 people sick on the bottom floor, so happy I’m up top, it’s a double-decker plane 380.”

Obviously concerned for the passengers down below in standard, he then whipped out his phone to produce a viral video which he also tweeted from the comfort of his flatbed chair.

Adding the comment: “So I just landed from Dubai and now there is like tons of ambulances and fire trucks and police all over the place”

Vanilla Ice rose to fame with his hit single “Ice Ice Baby. He later disappeared from pop stardom, but made a comeback with his own DIY show “The Vanilla Ice Project.”

At the peak of his music career he dated the Queen of Pop Madonna, but the couple split up in 1992.

It is not clear why he spent the day in Dubai, but in an earlier tweet he said it was the longest he’d ever flown for.

“Most flying I’ve ever done in my whole life, 29 hours in the air to South Africa and over to Dubai for one day then back home ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ exhausted,” – which seems odd, given he was once embarking on world tours.

An Emirates airline spokeswoman said 10 passengers fell ill on the flight from Dubai to New York. New York media outlets – and Vanilla Ice - had earlier put the number at about 100 passengers.

“Emirates can confirm that about 10 passengers on board flight EK203 from Dubai to New York were taken ill,” the spokeswoman said. “On arrival at JFK, as a precaution, they were immediately checked by local health authorities and those needing medical attention will be attended to.”

A later statement from the airline said three passengers and seven crew were transferred to hospital for medical care and that all passengers had disembarked from the aircraft.

Eric Phillips, spokesman for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, said it appeared that some of the ill passengers had come from Mecca, which is experiencing a flu outbreak.

“Health officials are processing tests now to determine the cause. Symptoms still pointing to the flu,” he tweeted.

Later it was revealed the cause of the illness was “probably influenza,” New York City acting Health Commissioner Dr Oxiris Barbot said.

He said tests had been taken by officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and most of the passengers were cleared to continue their travels.

In a statement, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said that Emirates flight 203 landed at 9:12 a.m. “with a report of multiple sick passengers.”

“The plane was taken to a location away from the terminal so that medical personnel from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could board the aircraft to evaluate the situation and provide immediate assistance,” it added.

The plane’s return journey to Dubai was delayed by three hours.

Now let's remind ourselves of what he was best known for so Stop.... Collaborate... And listen:

Wedded to debt: Fathers of Indian child brides trapped in bondage

Brides sit during a mass wedding event in Mumbai, India, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019. (AP)
Updated 12 min 1 sec ago

Wedded to debt: Fathers of Indian child brides trapped in bondage

  • Villagers take loans for major expenses, which in most cases are related to health care and or their daughters’ marriages

BUXWAHA, INDIA: For his 16-year-old daughter’s wedding last year, Makhanlal Ahirwal bought Bhawani saris, bangles and anklets, got her in-laws a water cooler, a bed, and utensils as dowry and threw a feast for 500 people in his village in central India.
The celebrations added 200,000 rupees ($2,800) to an unpaid debt of about 100,000 rupees that he’d already taken on for the wedding of another daughter.
To repay the original debt he had traveled 800 kilometers (497 miles) to Delhi the previous year, where he was lured by a promise of good pay at a construction site.
Instead, he was held against his will and denied wages and food for three months before he was rescued.
His experience is not uncommon in India, which is home to 8 million of a global estimated total of 40 million slaves — and where many poor families take out loans to cover marriages and then fall into modern slavery while trying to repay the money.
“I worked over 12 hours and lived in a tent, but wasn’t paid a penny,” Ahirwal said, sitting outside his clay hut in Dharampura village in the central state of Madhya Pradesh.
“I had taken that loan to get my elder daughter married. She was 14 then. But I did not get paid. I had another four daughters to marry, so I took one more loan last year,” he said.
“There is no way I can repay the loan if I don’t migrate and look for work again.”
Landless, and at the bottom in the hierarchy of the Indian caste system, the Ahirwals in Dharampura lean on local landlords who lend money at 4 percent interest.
Villagers take loans for major expenses, which in most cases are related to health care and or their daughters’ marriages.
With no work in villages, many migrate to cities and send earnings home to repay the money lenders, campaigners say.
But in many cases, unscrupulous employers dupe them into working long hours with the promise of good money, knowing they have debts to repay.
Bosses sometimes withhold pay — a practice that can trap villagers for years and is widely seen as a form of slavery.
Makhanlal Ahirwal was among the 22 people from Dharampura who were rescued from bondage two years ago and are entitled to government benefits such as cash compensation and housing.
Each of them had outstanding loans when they migrated.
“Most of us had taken loans for weddings of our children. One daughter’s marriage means four years of debt,” said Nirmal Ahirwal, who was trapped in bondage along with Makhanlal.

Many parents in Dharampura plan debt cycles around their daughters’ ages, ensuring the older ones are married before the younger ones attain puberty to avoid clustering wedding loans.
Despite being illegal, nearly 27 percent of girls get married before they turn 18 in India, accounting for the highest rates of child marriages across South Asia.
The practice is especially prevalent among the poorest and the most marginalized and officials said they lean on awareness drives to enforce the law as action against the parents would further victimize families.
Madhya Pradesh is among India’s poorest states and in Chattarpur district — home to Dharampura village — more than half the women were married before 18, government data shows.
Weddings cost up to 200,000 rupees and in many cases push entire families into modern slavery even as young girls are pulled out of schools and pushed into adulthood.
“Both parents and their daughters are victims in these cases ... they are both bonded in different forms of slavery,” said Nirmal Gorana, convener of the National Campaign Committee for Eradication of Bonded Labour.
“Workers we rescue from bondage often cite loans they took for their child’s marriage for taking up the work,” he added.

Bhawani, Makhanlal’s 16-year-old daughter, comes across as a coy new bride as she walks into her parents’ home, dressed in a pink sari and faux gold bangles, a streak of red vermillion along the parting of her hair and her eyes lined with kohl.
“I never liked dressing up. But now I do what they (her in-laws) like,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“I wanted to study. I never said I wanted to get married. But people start talking of even 15-year-olds as 20.”
Teenage girls in the village fetch water, cook, and clean and roll “beedis” (traditional cigarettes) to supplement family income. Most drop out of school young and are wed soon after.
Child marriage without consent is a form of slavery as it pushes children into sexual and domestic servitude, experts say.
“We don’t ask our parents anything. We do as they say,” said Rekha Ahirwal, 14, who dropped out after the ninth grade.

Many parents do not see a future for their young daughters so take loans to marry them off, said Bhuwan Ribhu, an activist with the non-profit Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation.
“Besides, the girl’s marriage is a moment of pride for the family in the village as they discuss with the community what all they did, what they gave her,” he said.
Awareness drives have checked the practice, but only to some extent, according to activists and officials.
“We explain there are cash incentives if they get their daughters married after 18, but parents believe the right age ... is 12,” said Ramesh Bhandari, Chattarpur district head.
Bhawani recalls feeling crushed when her father returned exhausted and penniless from Delhi after he was rescued.
“His debt has only increased after my marriage,” she said.
But she has another loan to worry about — that of her in-laws. She will take the risk of migrating “to some city wherever there is work” with her husband to repay the 150,000 rupees they borrowed for their son’s own wedding festivities.
“This is not a big amount,” her husband Paras, 22, said.
“Weddings cost as much. We will find work soon to repay the loan.”