Archive | May 5th, 2011

Hollywood has Osama death in its sights



LOS ANGELES: Osama bin Laden’s death is blockbuster news for Hollywood, whose attempts to dramatize the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have largely bombed.Instead of churning out little-seen films about death and destruction wrought upon civilians and military personnel, the studios can now tap into resurgent American pride with movies about the hunt for the world’s most wanted man.


If only John Wayne were still alive or Arnold Schwarzenegger were younger to star in a gung-ho film about the daring strike by dashing Navy SEAL operatives on a compound in suburban Pakistan. Picture “Black Hawk Down” with a happier ending, or “Die Hard” in Islamabad.

Coincidentally, the Oscar-winning director of “The Hurt Locker” — an Iraq war film that earned just $17 million at the box office — has a chance to reach a wider audience with an aptly named follow-up, “Kill Bin Laden.”

According to entertainment news Web site, Kathryn Bigelow and her “Hurt Locker” screenwriter Mark Boal have been working for some time on their project about an earlier, unsuccessful mission to nab bin Laden.

Details about the film’s plot were sketchy, Deadline reported, but the filmmakers will likely need to rework the script to take into account real-life developments. A spokeswoman for Bigelow said she was not talking.

Television will likely rush out a few quick movies if history is any guide. Within six months of the successful Israeli hostage rescue mission in Uganda in 1976, two television movies had been broadcast. The rescue of U.S. soldier Jessica Lynch by Special Operations forces in Iraq also got a similarly quick turnaround time in 2003.

The Navy SEALs — short for SEa, Air and Land – were notably depicted in a 1990 action thriller of the same name starring Charlie Sheen.

The film’s director, Lewis Teague, said that a new movie should be similar to “United 93,” a semi-factual real-time depiction of events aboard one of the ill-fated 9/11 flights, or to “Touching the Void,” which blended documentary footage and recreations to show a mountaineering mishap.

Ideally, the filmmakers should get full cooperation from the Navy SEALs, especially since Teague said they videotape all their operations.

And don’t forget a few good jokes, said Teague, a Middle East expert who spent about a year working closely with Navy SEALs in San Diego on his project.

“I would definitely do it with humor,” he said. “It takes a very peculiar character to be a Navy SEAL — courage, stamina, dark humor, a witch’s brew of a warrior’s mentality.”

Can’t wait for the film? How about the book? In another strange-but-true coincidence, former Navy SEAL sniper Howard Wasdin is bringing forward the publication of his memoir by two weeks to next week.

“Seal Team Six” is about Wasdin’s Navy SEAL training and his service in Somalia during the 1990s. Even though the book has nothing to do with bin Laden, Hollywood studios barraged Wasdin’s agent on Monday.

“This story is really on everyone in Hollywood’s mind right now so it is probably going to be a race about who can do this type of story,” Scott Miller said. (Reuters)

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With bin Laden’s death, U.S. sees a chance to hasten the end of the Afghan war



Washington Post

The Obama administration is seeking to use the killing of Osama bin Laden to accelerate a negotiated settlement with the Taliban and hasten the end of the Afghanistan war, according to U.S. officials involved in war policy.

Administration officials think it could now be easier for the reclusive leader of the largest Taliban faction, Mohammad Omar, to break his group’s alliance with al-Qaeda, a key U.S. requirement for any peace deal. They also think that bin Laden’s death could make peace talks a more palatable outcome for Americans and insulate President Obama from criticism that his administration would be negotiating with terrorists.

“Bin Laden’s death is the beginning of the endgame in Afghanistan,” said a senior administration official who, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal policy deliberations. “It changes everything.”

Another senior official involved in Afghanistan policy said the killing “presents an opportunity for reconciliation that didn’t exist before.” Those officials and others have engaged in urgent discussions and strategy sessions over the past two days about how to leverage the death into a spark that ignites peace talks.

But actually bringing the various Taliban factions to the negotiating table remains a challenge. Omar’s shadowy organization, based in the Pakistani city of Quetta, does not have a political wing or officials who have been publicly identified as interlocutors. The Obama administration is also depending on deft maneuvering by Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government, which is supposed to be leading the process, and the cooperation of the Pakistani government, whose intelligence service — long a patron of various Taliban groups — could easily interfere with peace overtures.

“We know where we want to go, but getting there won’t be easy,” the second senior official said. “There’s a long and complicated path ahead.”

Even so, bin Laden’s demise comes at what administration officials deem to be a propitious moment: A surge of U.S. military forces over the past year has pushed insurgents out of strategically important parts of southern Afghanistan, increasing the chances that top Taliban leaders may want to pursue negotiations.

The daring helicopter-borne raid on bin Laden’s house by U.S. Special Operations forces further ups the ante, current and former officials said, by signaling to members of the Taliban’s high command that they are not guaranteed safety by living in parts of Pakistan beyond the typical reach of U.S. drones. Bin Laden had been living near the country’s military academy, in a city in the hills north of the capital, for six years.

“It has a tremendous demonstration effect,” said Vali Nasr, who was a senior adviser to the State Department on Afghanistan and Pakistan until last month. “Mullah Omar has to be wondering when he’ll be picked up.”

Nasr said bin Laden’s death “puts more pressure on the Taliban than all of the counterinsurgency [operations] we’ve been doing in Afghanistan.”

A unified strategy

Although a peace deal has long been the preferred outcome for civilian members of the president’s national security team, many of whom question the sustainability of recent military gains, skepticism from Pentagon officials and ground commanders held up a unified U.S. government strategy until this spring.

In a February speech that elicited little attention because of events in the Middle East, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton articulated the outlines of the administration’s new approach. In a significant shift toward encouraging dialogue, she made clear that the Taliban no longer has to renounce violence, break with al-Qaeda or embrace the Afghan constitution as preconditions for talks; now those terms only have to be “necessary outcomes of any negotiation.”

“Reconciling with an adversary that can be as brutal as the Taliban sounds distasteful, even unimaginable. And diplomacy would be easy if we only had to talk to our friends. But that is not how one makes peace,” Clinton said.

Top military officials have expressed concern in internal discussions that calling for negotiations too soon could jeopardize hard-fought gains on the battlefield. They contend that their aggressive campaign is weakening the insurgency, and that if they are left to pursue their strategy without a significant reduction in troops, the Taliban will be forced into a weaker deal, getting no more than a minority role within a U.S.-friendly, democratic government.

But many of the president’s civilian national security advisers contend that the benefits of incremental gains do not merit the cost — in lives and dollars — of such a large military presence. They say negotiations are an essential part of a new war strategy that will allow Obama to announce a substantial reduction in U.S. forces starting this summer but still ensure that the Taliban will no longer rule the entire country.

“How are we going to get there? We can get there by continuing to fight them. I don’t think that’s actually a strategy that is successful. Or we can get there by negotiating with them in such a way to allow a political settlement where they’re part of the government,” Anne-Marie Slaughter, who was the State Department’s director of policy planning until earlier this year, said at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Tuesday.

Bin Laden’s death, she said, “creates a new opportunity to begin real negotiations.”

Another senior U.S. official involved in war policy said the example of a 12-man team of Navy SEALsdescending into a walled compound and shooting the world’s most-wanted terrorist leader could help keep pressure on the Taliban even as Obama withdraws conventional military forces starting this summer.

As another potential catalyst for talks, the administration is hoping to announce the completion of a strategic partnership agreement with the Afghan government that will endorse the long-term presence of a modest number of U.S. troops in the country to continue to train Afghan security forces and to conduct counterterrorism operations.

Peace talks a priority

After weeks of debate among civilian and military leaders, the National Security Council recently endorsed key elements of the State Department’s reconciliation strategy. Starting peace talks has now become the top priority for Marc Grossman, who succeeded Richard C. Holbrooke as the U.S. government’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

On Tuesday, Grossman met in Islamabad with Pakistan’s foreign secretary and Afghanistan’s deputy foreign minister. The three agreed to constitute a “core group for promoting and facilitating the process of reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan,” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

U.S. officials expressed hope on Tuesday that Pakistan’s failure to find bin Laden — or its possible complicity in sheltering him — could lead Islamabad to adopt a softer position on Afghan reconciliation. They think that Pakistani officials, who have interfered with peace efforts in the past, have an opportunity to play a more constructive role.

“Our hope is that they are so embarrassed by this that they try to save face by trying to help their neighbor,” one U.S. official said.

Pakistani officials have long seen a contradiction in Washington’s effort to target those with whom it wishes to negotiate, and they fear that the U.S. goal is an Afghan government more allied with India, Pakistan’s historical adversary. The Pakistani government believes that Taliban insurgents are the only card it has to play in the game for long-term strategic influence in the region.

Although the Taliban has steadfastly refused to renounce al-Qaeda, U.S. officials think that bin Laden’s death gives Omar an opportunity to distance himself from the group without losing face in front of his followers, because his offer of protection, made more than 10 years ago, was given to bin Laden, not the entire terrorist network.

“It’s not the two-ton gorilla in the middle of the reconciliation issue that it once was,” Nasr said.

And with bin Laden out of the picture, talking to the Taliban could become less politically fraught for Obama. Talking to the Taliban, the second senior official said, “no longer looks like you’re weak on national security.”

“The red lines have become a lot pinker,” Nasr said. “It’s now become a whole lot easier to sell a policy to end the war with negotiations to the American people.”

Correspondent Joshua Partlow in Kabul and staff writer Karen DeYoung in Washington contributed to this report.

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US Refusal of 2001 Taliban Offer Gave bin Laden a Free Pass


by crescentandcross


When George W. Bush rejected a Taliban offer to have Osama bin Laden tried by a moderate group of Islamic states in mid-October 2001, he gave up the only opportunity the United States would have to end bin Laden’s terrorist career for the next nine years.

The al-Qaeda leader was able to escape into Pakistan a few weeks later, because the Bush administration had no military plan to capture him.

The last Taliban foreign minister, Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil, offered at a secret meeting in Islamabad Oct. 15, 2001, to put bin Laden in the custody of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), to be tried for the 9/11 terror attacks on the United States, Muttawakil told IPS in an interview in Kabul last year.

The OIC is a moderate, Saudi-based organization representing all Islamic countries. A trial of bin Laden by judges from OIC member countries might have dealt a more serious blow to al Qaeda’s Islamic credentials than anything the United States would have done with bin Laden.

Muttawakil also dropped a condition that the United States provide evidence of bin Laden’s guilt in the 9/11 attacks, which had been raised in late September and reiterated by Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Salam Zaeef on Oct. 5—two days before the U.S. bombing of Taliban targets began.

There had been sketchy press reports at the time that the Taliban foreign minister had made a new offer in Islamabad to have bin Laden tried by one or more foreign countries. No Taliban or former Taliban official, however, had provided details of what had actually been proposed until Muttawakil’s revelation.

Muttawakil, who was detained at Bagram airbase for 18 months after the ouster of the Taliban regime and now lives in Kabul with the approval of the Hamid Karzai government, told IPS he had also offered a second alternative—a “special court” to try bin Laden that Afghanistan and two other Islamic governments would establish.

Muttawakil was believed by U.S. officials to have had the trust of Taliban leader Mullah Omar. A December 1998 cable from the U.S. embassy in Islamabad said he was “considered Omar’s closest adviser on political issues” and that he had become Omar’s “point man” on foreign affairs in 1997.

The new Taliban negotiating offer came almost immediately after the U.S. began bombing Taliban targets on Oct. 7, 2001. The fear of the bombing—and what was likely to follow—evidently spurred the Taliban leadership to be more forthcoming on bin Laden.

But Bush brusquely rejected any talks on the Taliban proposal, declaring, “They must have not heard. There’s no negotiations.”

Bush rejected the Taliban offer despite the fact that U.S. intelligence had picked up reports in the previous months of deep divisions within the Taliban regime over bin Laden. It was because of those reports that Bush had authorized secret meetings by a CIA officer with a high-ranking Taliban official in late September.

Former CIA director George Tenet recalled in his memoirs that the CIA station chief in Pakistan, Robert Grenier, met with Mullah Osmani, the second-ranking Taliban official, in Baluchistan province of Pakistan.

But Grenier was only authorized to offer Osmani three options: turning bin Laden over to the United States; letting the Americans find him on their own; or a third option, as Tenet described it, to “administer justice themselves, in a way that clearly took him off the table.”

Osmani rejected those three options, as well as a subsequent proposal by Grenier on Oct. 2 that he oust Mullah Omar from power and publicly announce on the radio that bin Laden would be handed over to the United States immediately.

On Oct. 3, Bush publicly ruled out negotiations with the Taliban. They had to “turn over the al-Qaeda organization living in Afghanistan and must destroy the terrorist camps,” he said, adding “There are no negotiations.”

Milton Bearden, the former CIA station chief in Pakistan during the mujahideen war against the Soviets,observed to the Washington Post two weeks after Bush had rejected Muttawakil’s new offer that the Taliban needed a face-saving way of resolving the issue consistent with its Islamic values.

“We never heard what they were trying to say,” Bearden said.

The Bush refusal to negotiate with the Taliban was in effect a free pass for bin Laden and his lieutenants, because the Bush administration had no plan of its own for apprehending bin Laden in Afghanistan. It did not even know what level of military effort would have been required for the United States to be able to block bin Laden’s exit routes from Afghanistan into Pakistan.

The absence of any military planning to catch bin Laden was a function of Bush’s national security team, led by Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, which had firmly opposed any military operation in Afghanistan that would have had any possibility of catching bin Laden and his lieutenants.

Rumsfeld and the second-ranking official at the Pentagon, Paul Wolfowitz, had dismissed CIA warnings of an al-Qaeda terrorist attack against the United States in the summer of 2001, and even after 9/11 had continued to question the CIA’s conclusion that bin Laden and al-Qaeda were behind the attacks.

Cheney and Rumsfeld were determined not to allow a focus on bin Laden to interfere with their plan for a U.S. invasion of Iraq to overthrow the Saddam Hussein regime.

Even after Bush decided in favor of an Afghan campaign, CENTCOM commander Tommy Franks, who was responsible for the war in Afghanistan, was not directed to have a plan for bin Laden’s capture or to block his escape to Pakistan.

When the CIA received intelligence on Nov. 12, 2001, that bin Laden had left Kandahar and was headed for a cave complex in the Tora Bora Mountains close to the Pakistani border, Franks had no assets in place to do anything about it. He asked Lt. Gen. Paul T. Mikolashek, commander of Army Central Command (ARCENT), if he could provide a blocking force between al-Qaeda and the Pakistani border, according to Col. David W. Lamm, who was then commander of ARCENT Kuwait.

But that was impossible, because ARCENT had neither the troops nor the strategic lift in Kuwait required to put such a force in place.

Franks then had to ask for Pakistani military help in blocking bin Laden’s exit into Pakistan, as Rumsfeld told a National Security Council meeting, according to the meeting transcript in Bob Woodward’s bookBush at War.

But Rumsfeld and other key advisers knew it would a charade, because bin Laden was a long-time ally of the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, and the Pakistani military was not about to help capture him.

Franks asked President Pervez Musharraf to deploy troops along the Afghan-Pakistan border near Tora Bora, and Musharraf agreed to redeploy 60,000 troops to the area from the border with India, according to U.S. Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin, who was present at the meeting.

But the Pakistani president said his army would need airlift assistance from the United States to carry out the redeployment. That would have required an entire aviation brigade, including hundreds of helicopters, and hundreds of support troops to deliver that many combat troops to the border region, according to Lamm.

Those were assets the U.S. military did not have in the theater.

Osama bin Laden had been effectively guaranteed an exit to Pakistan by a Bush policy that had rejected either diplomatic or military means to do anything about him.

In an implicit acknowledgment that the administration had not been seriously concerned with apprehending bin Laden, Bush declared in a March 13, 2002, press conference that bin Laden was “a person who’s now been marginalized,” and added, “You know, I just don’t spend that much time on him.”

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Poll: Americans Approve of bin Laden Killing Even if It Brings More Attacks





The daring military operation that killed Osama bin Laden has boosted Americans’ confidence that the United States can succeed in the war against Islamic terrorism and faith in President Obama as commander in chief, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Monday finds.

But those surveyed also are braced for retaliation. More than 6 in 10 say acts of terrorism against the U.S. are likely in the next several weeks, a significant bump and the highest rate of public nervousness in eight years.

For a nation battered by bad economic news, the end of the decade-long manhunt for al-Qaeda’s founder has brought at least a moment of good feeling. Approval for the raid on bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan is nearly universal, and overwhelming majorities give credit to the U.S. military and the CIA.

A majority also credits Obama and former president George W. Bush.

In a separate daily survey by Gallup, Obama’s job-approval rating ticked up a percentage point to 47%. The rolling three-day average includes one night of polling after Americans had heard the news from Pakistan. Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport says the president’s ratings Monday were “somewhat higher” than before

“In the short term his (Obama’s) job approval will go up, but once this period of elation subsides, everything we know suggests the fundamentals will take hold and it will decline to about where it was,” says Richard Eichenberg, a political scientist at Tufts who studies polling.

However, the boost for Obama as a commander in chief who can handle national security issues could endure, Eichenberg predicts. “The long, patient planning; the risk-taking to get it done the way he thought it needed to be done — all that portrays a president who is a very competent decision-maker.”

White House officials are trying to reinforce that impression, releasing a detailed timeline and behind-the-scenes photos. Obama will make what is sure to be an emotional visit to Ground Zero in New York on Thursday, his first as president, and he gives an interview today to CBS’ 60 Minutes to be aired on Sunday.

In the poll:

•On who gets credit, 98% say the U.S. military deserves a great deal or moderate amount of credit for the successful operation, and 88% say that of the CIA. Obama gets credit from 71% and Bush from 52%. However, 47% say Bush deserves “not much” or no credit at all; just 28% say that of Obama.

•On the U.S. war against Islamic terrorism, 39% say they have “a lot” more confidence than before and 34% have “a little” more confidence.

•On Obama as commander in chief, 32% say they feel a lot more confident; 21% feel a little more confident.

Bin Laden’s violent demise could affect attitudes toward the war in Afghanistan, launched in 2001 in response to the 9/11 attacks by al-Qaeda. Obama has promised to begin a drawdown this summer, although how many U.S. troops will come home, and how fast, isn’t clear.

In the poll, 45% agree with a statement that the United States has accomplished its mission in Afghanistan and should bring its troops home. Fifty-two percent say important work remains to be done there.

The poll of 645 adults nationwide has a margin of error of +/–5 percentage points.

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A Grumpy Stop the War Coalition And Bin Laden



StWC Tweets

StWC Tweets on bin Laden

I am not the only one to notice that the Stop the War Coalition were not too happy at bin Laden’s death.

StWC’s latest tweet suggests they are decidedly grumpy on this issue.

Carl Packman, at Though Cowards Flinch, ably analyses the problem with the StWC’s approach:

“However many of us are quietly pleased that Bin Laden is history.

That is, of course, with the exception of the Stop the War Coalition, who today put out a statementwhich had the following to say (authored by Lindsey German):

The US and Britain should remind themselves of the grievances which bin Laden claimed in 2001: the presence of US troops in the Middle East; the treatment of the Palestinians; and the continued sanctions against Iraq. All of these grievances have worsened in the last ten years. There are now western troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, US bases all over the region, and an intervention including troops and airstrikes in Libya. The Palestinians suffer even more, and have been subject to aerial attack by Israel. Iraq suffers full scale occupation as a result of the war in 2003.

Why have they chosen to dignify the grievances of Bin Laden? Granted these include worthy grievances, but to put Bin Laden’s name next them, on this day of all days, comes dangerously close to saying “Bin Laden was right” – in the same way the National Front would say Enoch Powell was right.

The way they’ve juxtaposed the name of an evil terrorist with legitimate concerns is tasteless – and should be retracted, and reworded. “

Posted in UK1 Comment

When IsraHell soldiers came to arrest my father



Hanin Ahmad Qatamesh


The Electronic Intifada ,

Last week, on 21 April, Israeli soldiers invaded my home in Ramallah, held hostage all those present, and forced me at gunpoint to call my father, a writer and human rights advocate, in order to demand his surrender. This is common operating procedure for Israeli occupation forces. This time, however, they had taken hostage an American citizen willing to speak out. And I will not be silent.

I was born in New York, but raised mainly in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. I currently study in Cairo, but returned to Ramallah to spend my Easter break with my family. My joy soon gave way to heartbreak.

Last Wednesday night, just past midnight, my mother and I were chatting when we suddenly heard pounding on the door and someone shouting in chillingly familiar broken Arabic, “iftakh bab!” (open the door). We looked carefully from behind the slit-open curtain to realize that many Israeli occupation soldiers were surrounding the house, heavily armed and in combat formation. Shortly afterwards, they broke in and occupied the house.

They pointed their machine guns at us and told us they wanted to search the house. My 14-year-old cousin, Nai, and 69-year-old aunt were sleeping inside. Without thinking, I rushed to my room to alert Nai so that she would not wake up with a gun pointed at her face. That was the most haunting experience in my own traumatic childhood, when Israeli forces arrested my father many years earlier.

Nai still woke up trembling and speechless, though silence is not one of her virtues. Simultaneously, as if on cue, my mother jumped to wake up my aunt. The visibly agitated soldiers considered our moves hostile and ordered us to stop, aiming at our heads. Fortunately, my mother and I succeeded in waking the two before the soldiers reached them.

After a futile search, the soldiers went to the apartment right above ours whose owners — also US citizens — were away. They knocked down the main door and wrecked the place.

There we were, four Palestinian females of different ages stuck in a room with a bunch of guns pointed at us. They confiscated our phones, disconnecting us from the outside world. I could not prevent some tears from slipping down my cheeks, despite my attempts not to let that happen in front of the soldiers. I thought to myself, I shall not get a chance to say goodbye to my father — he is more than my beloved baba, he is my mentor. My vacation will be over in a few days, and I’ll head back to my college. He was dreaming of me getting my diploma, so I must continue at all cost, I convinced myself.

Nai suddenly interrupted my thoughts and said, “Look, we can either cry or talk non-stop” — the latter being her pastime. She and I transcended our fear and decided to talk, laugh, make jokes and talk more, enough to make the soldiers regret the moment they cruelly invaded our home. To help calm us down, Nai played “Li Beirut,” a charming song by the Lebanese diva Fairouz, on her iPod. A visibly angry soldier shouted at her “Give me the [expletive] thing or else!” She handed it to him — but not before poking fun at him — “Cowards! Even Fairouz scares you!”

As they were about to enter my room, I warned the commander, “My MacBook and Blackberry are inside; I hope they’ll still be there after your search.”

“We never take anything that is not ours,” he irately shot back. I could not resist shouting, “Aside from stealing our land on a regular basis, nine years ago, Israeli soldiers were caught lifting valuables from many Palestinian homes. Don’t you dare tell me you do not steal what is not yours!” Pointing his US-made M-16 at me, he silenced me. How ironic, a weapon made in my country of birth is being used by Israeli soldiers to silence me while they ransack my own room in the middle of the night.

They told us that they were looking for my father, Ahmad Qatamesh.

Unsurprisingly, they did not explain why they wanted to arrest him. They kept us against our will in the living room, insisting that he must “turn himself in” before they would leave. My mother told them, “He is not here, and he is not wanted!” Only then did we realize that we were taken hostage.

My father is a sixty-year-old political scientist, writer and human rights advocate who is widely respected in Palestinian society. This whole commotion took me back to when I was nine, anxiously waiting at the gates of an Israeli prison for his imminent release. He had been held for almost six years under “administrative detention,” without charge, without trial, without a chance to defend himself or even know what he was accused of. Amnesty International and other human rights organizations condemn the procedure as an affront to justice. I hugged him then like I was meeting him for the first time and asked him to promise not to be gone for so long again. Being impeccably honest, he said: “I wish I could. They must first get out of our lives before I can make such a promise.”

The commander forced me at gunpoint to call my father, who was at his brother’s house. I did. He then grabbed my phone and shouted at him, “Surrender yourself or we’ll destroy the house!”

My father shouted back, loudly enough so I could hear him, “You and your soldiers are tools of the occupation. You are violating our basic rights. You have no right to be in our home. Come arrest me here and leave my family out of this!”

Some of them went to arrest him, and only after they held him did the soldiers who stayed at our place prepare to leave. Before the last one exited, however, he rubbed it in my face, saying “We got your father, and we are gonna take care of him!” Almost crying, I shouted, “He takes care of himself! You are criminals!”

Perhaps the most important principle that I learned from my dad was never to allow obstacles to keep me from realizing my dreams. I will continue to dream of Palestinian freedom. Along the way, I will continue to expose the brutality of Israel’s occupation of our land — and houses.

Hanin Qatamesh was born in New York in 1989. She lived under occupation, in Palestine, until she finished high school. She is an undergraduate student at the American University in Cairo (AUC), majoring in Mass Communication.


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Bahrain: Medical Professionals On Trial




The Bahraini government has broken so many international conventions in terms of attacking civilians, putting down legitimate protests and quashing freedom of speech, now they are putting doctors and other medical professionals on trial, CNN reports:

“The justice ministry in Bahrain said 47 medical professionals will be tried for crimes that include incitement to overthrow the regime, deadly assault and refusal to help persons in need.

Twenty-four doctors and 23 nurses and paramedics have been charged.

During the protests in the Gulf kingdom, witnesses say security forces in Bahrain stormed the Salmaniya Medical Complex in Manama beating doctors and demonstrators. Bahraini officials deny those accounts.

Activists and human rights groups have alleged that medical personnel have been targeted by Bahraini officials for treating protestors. “

The Physicians for Human Rights report on Bahrain goes into greater detail:

“Thousands of protesters in the small island Kingdom of Bahrain in the Persian Gulf took to the streets calling for government reform in February and March 2011. The Government’s response was brutal and systematic: shoot civilian protesters, detain and torture them, and erase all evidence. On the frontline, treating hundreds of these wounded civilians, doctors had first-hand knowledge of government atrocities.

This report details systematic and targeted attacks against medical personnel, as a result of their efforts to provide unbiased care for wounded protestors. The assault on healthcare workers and their patients constitutes extreme violations of the principle of medical neutrality and are grave breaches of international law. Medical neutrality ensures

1. the protection of medical personnel, patients, facilities, and transport from attack or interference;
2. unhindered access to medical care and treatment;
3. the humane treatment of all civilians; and
4. nondiscriminatory treatment of the injured and sick.

While in Bahrain, PHR investigators spoke with several eyewitnesses of abducted physicians, some of whom were ripped from their homes in the middle of the night by masked security forces. For each doctor, nurse, or medic that the government disappears, many more civilians’ lives are impacted as patients go untreated.

Armed security forces abducted Dr. Ali El-Ekri from the operating room while he was performing surgery at Salmaniya Hospital on 17 March. Another doctor was abducted in the middle of the night from his home in front of his wife and three children. Police and masked men in civilian clothes stormed the home of Dr. Abdul Khaliq al-Oraibi on 1 April. The security forces dragged him out of bed, handcuffed, and then blindfolded him. They did not say where or why they were taking him. His family has not heard from him since.

Physicians for Human Rights uncovered egregious abuses against patients and detainees including torture, beating, verbal abuse, humiliation, and threats of rape and killing. For example, security forces shot Ali in the face and head at close range with birdshot. He woke up later in Salmaniya Hospital where he was held for five days. On his second day, three armed security forces handcuffed Ali and a dozen other wounded men behind their backs with plastic wrist ties and began to beat them. Then the security forces threw Ali and the other patients face first onto the floor and dragged them out into the hallway, leaving trails of blood on the floor. Interrogation, torture, and forced confessions followed. “

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Top Ten Reasons Why Men Prefer Guns Over Women


by crescentandcross



And here we go…

#10 – You can trade an old 44 for a new 22.

#9 – You can keep one gun at home and have another for when you’re on the road.

#8 – If you admire a friend’s gun and tell him so, he will probably let you try it out a few times.

#7 – Your primary gun doesn’t mind if you keep another gun for a backup.

#6 – Your gun will stay with you even if you run out of ammo.

#5 – A gun doesn’t take up a lot of closet space.

#4 – Guns function normally every day of the month.

#3 – A gun doesn’t ask, “Do these new grips make me look fat?”

#2 – A gun doesn’t mind if you go to sleep after you use it.

And The Number One Reason Why Men Prefer Guns Over Women…..

You can buy a silencer for a gun.

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