Osama Bin Laden — Everyone’s Missing the Point

Osama Bin Laden — Everyone’s Missing the Point | Common Dreams.

Osama Bin Laden — Everyone’s Missing the Point

by Barry Lando

The jubilation of Americans and Western leaders at the death of Osama bin Laden, though understandable, misses the point. In many ways, the figure gunned down in Pakistan was already irrelevant — more a symbol of past dangers than a real threat for the future.

Indeed, from the point of view of America and many of its allies, the most menacing symbol in the Arab World today is not Osama bin Laden but another Arab who recently met a violent death — Mohamed Bouazizi, the 26-year-old Tunisian fruit vendor who chose to set himself on fire after being harassed by corrupt local police.

His act, of course, ignited the storm that has spread across the Arab World and proven a much more serious threat to America’s allies in the region than al Qaeda ever was. Ironically, his sacrifice probably also dealt a far more devastating blow to al Qaeda’s fortunes than the assassination of Osama bin Laden.

The Arab world today bears no relationship to the situation a decade ago after 9/11. Obsessed with bin Laden and al Qaeda, the U.S. has been sucked into a vast quagmire — a disaster for the Americans, their economy, and their standing in the Arab World.

What particularly provoked Osama bin Laden — a Saudi — was the decision of Saudi rulers to accept the presence of more than a hundred thousand “infidel” U.S. troops and their allies in Saudi Arabia following Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. In general, he and his followers were outraged by U.S. support for corrupt, repressive regimes from Saudi Arabia to Egypt to Yemen, as well, of course, for America’s backing of Israel.

As Osama himself told CNN in 1997, “the U.S. wants to occupy our countries, steal our resources, impose agents on us to rule us and then wants us to agree to all this. If we refuse to do so, it says we are terrorists… Wherever we look, we find the U.S. as the leader of terrorism and crime in the world.”

Bin Laden’s message resonated throughout the Muslim world. But U.S. officials remained deaf to its meaning, and continued obsessed with al Qaeda and its Taliban allies. The upshot — U.S. policy was the best recruiter Osama could have asked for. Over the past decade, hundreds of thousands of American soldiers, CIA killer teams, mercenaries, predators, and “diplomats” swarmed across the region from Iraq to Afghanistan to Pakistan to Yemen and Somalia, supported by sprawling new bases and pharaonic embassies.

The bill for all this — for an America crippled by cutbacks in health, infrastructure. and education — will be in the trillions of dollars. But despite this massive effort, none of those targeted Arab countries could by any stretch of the imagination be considered a success story. Hostility to the U.S. is high throughout the region. In polls, the majority of those Arabs queried consider the United States a greater threat than al Qaeda.

In Pakistan, despite the U.S. lavishing tens of billions of dollars on that country’s military, it turns out that Osama bin Laden, rather than groveling as an outlaw in the isolated tribal regions, has been living in a fortified villa near the country’s major military academy and a large army base, just a few miles away from the capital city.

America had also launched an ambitious civilian aid program: $7.5 billion over five years, designed to win Pakistani hearts and minds and bolster the civilian government. But, corruption is so rife throughout the Pakistani government, and its officials so incompetent, that the U.S. has been unable to disburse most of the aid. As the New York Times reports:

Instead of polishing the tarnished image of America with a suspicious, even hostile, Pakistani public and government, the plan has resulted in bitterness and a sense of broken promises…

The economy is failing. Education, health care and other services are almost nonexistent, while civilian leaders from the landed and industrialist classes pay hardly any taxes.

Pakistanis see the aid as a crude attempt to buy friendship and an effort to alleviate antipathy toward United States drone attacks against militants in the tribal areas.

The same reports come from Afghanistan. A decade after the U.S. invaded, tens of thousands of American troops are still fighting what seems to be, at best, a see-saw battle against the Taliban. There also, according to another report in the New York Times , the U.S. is backing incompetent, corrupt, unpopular leaders. Millions of dollars of U.S. funds actually get diverted as payoffs to the Taliban and their allies — bribing them not to attack U.S. projects, such as $65 million highway that may never be completed in Eastern Afghanistan.

The vast expenses and unsavory alliances surrounding the highway have become a parable of the corruption and mismanagement that turns so many well-intended development efforts in Afghanistan into sinkholes for the money of American taxpayers, even nine years into the war.

Now back to Mohamed Bouazizi the Tunisian fruit vendor whose death unleashed the Arab Spring that is still roiling the region.

Though Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda have yet to be credited with overthrowing an Arab regime, the spark provided by Bouazizi has already led to the downfall of American-backed tyrants in Tunisia and Egypt, and continues to threaten other despots in Libya, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain.

Ironically, most of the leaders overthrown or desperately trying to hang on to power had declared themselves implacable enemies of al Qaeda. Yet, again, it was not bin Laden, but Bouazizi, who turned out to be a far greater menace.

Precisely for that reason, it is Bouazizi’s Arab Spring, not sophisticated U.S. killer teams, that most threaten al Qaeda and its allies. By demonstrating that secular uprisings can succeed in toppling the aged, crusty tyrannies, young Arabs across the region have — so far — undercut the appeal of the Islamic radicals.

So far, because despite the early successes in Tunisia and Egypt, the future of the Arab Spring is far from clear. The current process will take decades to play out. The political and economic establishments have been decapitated in Egypt and Tunisia, but not decimated. In the rest of the region, though seriously shaken, the old order still reigns supreme.

The same corrupt Saudi regime that fueled bin Laden’s outrage is still in power, still backed by the United States. Indeed, they have been doing their utmost to tamp the spreading revolt, spending millions to bribe Yemen’s tribal leaders, dispatching their troops to Bahrain to help crush the uprising of the Shiite majority in that country.

Indeed, that brutal repression may radicalize thousands of young Shiites, generating hosts of new recruits for al Qaeda or other extremists Islamic groups — even as the corpse of Osama bin Laden lies somewhere at the bottom of the sea.


Tibet : Monks at a monastery besieged by Chinese police are running out of food.

Tibet : Monks at a monastery besieged by Chinese police are running out of food | dossiertibet.

Tibet : Monks at a monastery besieged by Chinese police are running out of food

Tensions were running high on Monday at besieged Kirti monastery, where Chinese security forces are enforcing a lockdown in an attempt to get hundreds of monks to move out.The siege of the monastery, which is home to some 2,500 Tibetan monks, was sparked by the death of a monk last month in a self-immolation protest against Beijing’s rule.”If any of the monks leave, they will be detained and returned [to the monastery],” said a Tibetan resident of Ngaba, who asked to remain anonymous.”There were [some detained],” he added. “If any of those monks come out without an identity card, they get taken away.”

“They want to take those monks away somewhere and have them study, but their relatives don’t want them to go,” he said.

He said monks inside Kirti were still very short of food.

Strong police presence

A number of monks had left the monastery by disguising themselves as ethnic Han Chinese, though some were discovered and detained by local police, the Tibetan resident said.

“They are being taken to a local jail, where they check to see if they had anything [to do with the protests],” he said. “They lock them up for many days.”

A second Tibetan resident confirmed there was still a strong police presence around the town and monastery.

“Yes, [they are still surrounding it],” he said. “There are dozens of police on each street.”

Interrogation sessions

A Tibetan named Tsering living in exile in Dharamsala said nearly 800 government employees were involved in the campaign.

“The monks were forced stand alone in the middle of the group and subjected to grueling interrogation sessions,” he said.

Previous campaigns have required participants to denounce the Dalai Lama and pledge allegiance to China’s ruling Communist Party.

Exile Tibetans with links to Kirti said local officials had visited the monastery and warned monks that they could face closure or destruction of the monastery.

Monks are currently being confined to their dormitories after 8 p.m., with beatings for any found breaking the curfew, the paper said.

Around 300 local people had signed a petition vowing to protect the monks with their lives, with officials intervening to stop the signing process because of gathering crowds lining up to sign.

20 Quotes to Inspire Change

They’re profound thinkers who spoke powerful words. But they also lived their lives as an example, putting these words into action every day. From Africa to the Americas, here are quotes from 20 famous–and not so famous–people, living and dead, who spent their lives thinking about and contributing to social justice movements.

1. “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” -Audre Lorde

2. “We must not allow ourselves to become like the system we oppose.” -Archbishop Desmond Tutu

3. “When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?” -Eleanor Roosevelt

Photo: Sepperer Markus

4. “Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.”- Paulo Freire

5. “People must take a modicum of public responsibility for each other even if they have no ties to each other.” -Jane Jacobs

6. “We have a world to conquer…one person at a time…starting with ourselves.” -Nikki Giovanni

7. “We must use time creatively, and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.”- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Photo: meanestindian

8. “It is not enough to be compassionate – you must act.”- His Holiness The Dalai Lama

9. “The people are the only ones capable of transforming society.”- Rigoberta Menchu

10. “Do not wait for extraordinary circumstances to do good; try to use ordinary situations.”- Jean Paul Richter

11. “There will be no Homeland Security until we realize that the entire planet is our homeland. Every sentient being in the world must feel secure.” -John Perkins

12. “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming it.” -Helen Keller

13. “Take your easy tears somewhere else. Tell yourself none of this ever had to happen. And then go make it stop. With whatever breath you have left. Grief is a sword or it is nothing.” -Paul Monette

14. “Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope.” -Reinhold Neibuhr

15. “During times of universal deceit telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” -George Orwell

16. “To be human, at the most profound level, is to encounter honestly the inescapable circumstances that constrain us, yet muster the courage to struggle compassionately for our own unique individualities and for more democratic and free societies.” -Cornel West

Photo: Amor Ministries

17.”If you are trying to transform a brutalized society into one where people can live in dignity and hope, you begin with the empowering of the most powerless. You build from the ground up.” -Adrienne Rich

18. “Wisdom lies neither in fixity nor in change, but in the dialectic between the two.” -Octavio Paz

19. “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.” -Elie Wiesel

20. “The more you move, the stronger you’ll grow….” -Ha Jin


20 Quotes to Inspire Change.

yours truly,


Afghanistan…How much longer?

Notes on Temperatures in a Warzone

Curated by Stillmind

-12/23/10- by Jake Reed
The first writer published in response to Matador’s recent call for nonlinear narratives, Jake Reed reflects on his experience in Afghanistan through different temperatures.
Afghanistan. Photo: US Army

125° Fahrenheit

Doha, Qatar, summer 2010. My bottle of frozen water is warm after the 100-yard walk from the chow hall to my tent. My flight to Afghanistan leaves in fifteen minutes. I won’t return for six months. They issue me my weapon and body armor. They give me my final instructions. I walk across the runway and feel the heat resonate up my legs. The C-130 lowers its cargo door and we shuffle inside.

-65.2° to 176° Fahrenheit

The operating temperature of the 5.56mm round that goes into my M4 Carbine. I have ninety of them hanging on my vest. This means that when everything else breaks, I can still shoot something.

I haven’t shot anyone yet. Most of us haven’t. We awkwardly sling our rifles over our backs and slam them into doorways and kneecaps. We attach scopes we hope to never use. I make sure it’s in the background whenever I’m on Skype.

14° Fahrenheit

The temperature at which my iPod officially stops working. I throw it across the room and it bounces off the plywood wall. I’m on a random mountain in Afghanistan. I haven’t slept in 32 hours. I curl into my sleeping bag and try to shiver myself to sleep. My M4 is a foot away. It’s loaded. I stare through the bullet holes in the tin door and see the full moon outside.

Photo: US Army

3.56° Fahrenheit

The amount the temperature drops with every thousand feet of altitude. The loadmaster opens the Blackhawk doors so the gunners can respond to any threat during takeoff. The wind whips through the helicopter and smacks me in the face. My helmet is the only reason is doesn’t rip off my cap. I shove my hands into my pockets and fold my legs into my chest. I left my gloves in the tent.

I look at the soldier across from me. He’s carrying a sniper rifle. He looks up and smiles – he’s just as cold as I am. The higher we fly, the colder it gets. I look out the door and see mountains. They’re covered with trees. In the distance I see taller mountains covered in snow. The sun rises over the range and everything is colored gold. I’ve never seen a more beautiful landscape.

208° Fahrenheit

The steeping point of Rooibos tea from Teavana. Someone must have sent it in a care package. I don’t care about the perfect cup – I just want something warm. I pour boiling water over the tea leaves. I set my stopwatch for 5-6 minutes and look around. I just landed back at the front office and I’m the dirtiest thing in this room. I unsling my M4 and lean it against my desk. I take off the forty pounds of armor and drop it to the floor.

I need a shower. I need sleep. I need to slow down before I burn out.

I log onto my computer and start responding to emails. The phone rings. My colleagues come back from lunch. I don’t get to sleep for another fourteen hours. I forget all about my tea.

98.6° Fahrenheit

The operating temperature of the human body. The temperature of the blood that flows through your veins. The temperature of the blood that pours from shrapnel wounds and seeps along the floor of the Heath Craige Joint Theater Hospital in Bagram. I’m here to get an infection on my foot looked at. Two soldiers are being medevaced to Rammstein after an IED went off during a routine patrol. The ambulance idles outside. The flight crew is fueling a C-17 on the runway. Angry passengers walk out of the air terminal complaining that their flight was being rerouted to Germany. I step over the trail of blood and fill out the sign-up sheet for sick call.

My plane leaves in a month. 

For more wartime writing, please see Daniel Britt’s notes on traveling overland through Iraq and Afghanistan.

    About the Author

Matador ID: jakeallreed

Jake is a workaholic travelphile whose idea of a good time is sleeping on a dirty cot in the middle of nowhere. He’s been shot at, homeless, stranded in a blizzard, and pushed off a cliff.


Remembering Gandhi

Remembering Gandhi

Posted by Stillmind via Wikipedia Gandhi arrives in LondonGandhi first employed civil disobedience while an expatriate lawyer in South Africa, during the resident Indian community’s  struggle there for civil rights. During this time, he wrote articles for Indian newspapers about black people that some modern readers consider racist. After his return to India in 1915, he organised protests by peasants, farmers, and urban labourers concerning excessive land-tax and discrimination. After assuming leadership of the Indian National Congress in 1921, Gandhi led nationwide campaigns to ease poverty, expand women’s rights, build religious and ethnic amity, end untouchability, and increase economic self-reliance. Above all, he aimed to achieve Swaraj or the independence of India from foreign domination. Gandhi famously led his followers in the Non-cooperation movement that protested the British-imposed salt tax with the 400 km (240 mi) Dandi Salt March in 1930. Later, in 1942, he launched the Quit India civil disobedience movement demanding immediate independence for India. Gandhi spent a number of years in jail in both South Africa and India.

His story, life and triumph are one of the most fascinating in the history of  Humankind.

full story: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohandas_Karamchand_Gandhi

4 Holocaust videos that will blow your mind

The secret life of Hitler

post by René Volpi  ~stillmind.

Children of the Holocaust

Videos on The Holocaust that changed the world.


Embed: http://www.youtube.com/v/ps64xxJq0mg?version=3

BERGEN BELSEN :  http://auschwitz.dk/Bergenbelsen.htm

NAZI TERROR :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaCdKwFcHnw&feature=related

(to view more, just click on any link)

The Internet World

When the Internet Becomes Too Much

posted by René Volpi on August 30th, 2010

One of the top tech trends for 2008 will be internet addiction, prognosticates J. Walter Thompson, the advertising agency powerhouse. What’s old is new again. “Internet addiction has been a concern since the dawn of the Web,” acknowledges Ann Mack, the agency’s director of trendspotting.

It may not be a new trend, but it remains an important one. Mack points to online discussions, internet gambling, online porn, and interactive role-playing games. But just about everything about the internet can snag you in one way or another.

Are you an internet addict? A surprising number of people are. Between 5% and 10% of web users suffer from some form of internet dependency, estimates Maressa Hecht Orzack, who has studied computer addiction at McLean Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Belmont, Mass., affiliated with Harvard University.

There’s even a name for it: Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD). It first made waves in 1995, 2 years after the web went graphical with the introduction of the browser Mosaic. Ironically, the disorder was suggested by New York City psychiatrist Ivan Goldberg as a joke, parodying the bevy of new psychiatric conditions that had been recently recognized by the American Psychiatric Association.

But his thoughts struck a chord, with colleagues telling Goldberg that his descriptions were right on target, and Goldberg came to accept IAD as a serious affliction. People were, and are, going overboard, spending too much time online to the detriment of their work, academic, family, and social lives.

IAD hasn’t yet been accepted by the American Psychiatric Association as a formal diagnosis, and the term “Internet overuse syndrome” is probably better descriptively. But there are ways to tell if you’re so afflicted, according to Goldberg, who maintains a website titled Depression Central (www.psycom.net/depression.central.html).

You may be addicted to the internet, says Goldberg, if you need to spend more and more time online to achieve the same level of satisfaction or if you feel anxious when not connected. You might grasp your situation but find it difficult to cut down on your internet use.

If you’re an addict, says Goldberg, you’re probably reducing or forgoing important social, occupational, or recreational activities in favor of your time online. You may even be experiencing sleep deprivation, facing marital difficulties, losing friendships, and neglecting your job or schoolwork to the point of possibly being fired or flunking out.

Some experts dispute that IAD is a true addiction, but Kimberly S. Young differs. “It’s like other addictions,” says Young, director of the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery (www.netaddiction.com) and a professor at St. Bonaventure University. “It has the same qualities as compulsive gambling, shopping, even smoking and alcoholism.”

Before you can be cured of internet addiction, as with other addictions, you have to recognize that you’re hooked, according to Young.

Common warning signs, she says, are compulsively checking your email, always anticipating your next internet session, and complaints from others that you’re spending too much time or money going online. As with any other addiction, you have to be motivated in order to kick the habit. “You have to really want to change,” says Young.

Re-establishing a healthy relationship to the internet depends to a great extent on your individual circumstances. In some cases, all you may need to do is develop time management techniques to help you better control yourself, says Goldberg. You could, for instance, set a daily online time limit of an hour a day.

In other cases, you may need to deal with any underlying reasons that cause you to feel compelled to spend so much time online. There may be problems or conflicts you’re consciously or subconsciously trying to avoid, which may be dealt with best through therapy.

“Internet addiction can be an attempt to deny or avoid another more serious problem in your life,” says Goldberg. “People spend excess time in front of their computer[s] to avoid thinking about such difficulties as what they will do when they graduate from school, the infidelity of [a] spouse, the drug abuse of their children, and so on.”

The key concept here is the surrendering of the will. If you no longer control your relationship to it—whether it’s the internet or a pharmaceutical drug—you’re in trouble.

The internet is a fantastic medium, dramatically improving our ability to communicate with one another and find information to help us with our careers or studies. But, as with most things in life, there’s a need to keep things in healthy balance.

Thank you reidgold@comcast.net or http://www.reidgoldsborough.com. for your cooperation on this research