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The Unpopular Opinion
news and opinions at the extremes of the mainstream
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A word on the celebrations

A word on the celebrations | The Unpopular Opinion |
"...One of the nice things about living in Washington is that you often find yourself in the middle of history, so I joined the crowd and followed them to the president's house. The scene there reminded me of a fraternity party—overexcited young people in silly red, white and blue outfits mindlessly jumping around. The whole thing felt a bit tacky, but, importantly, it didn't feel wrong.

...It feels odd to rejoice in a man's death, even someone as heinous as Mr bin Laden.

...Were the crowds outside of the White House celebrating bloodshed, or were they celebrating a perceived end to the bloodshed caused by Mr bin Laden (however wrong that assumption may be)? Were they rejoicing in a man's death, or rejoicing in the fact that this man can no longer cause death? In my observation, the crowd was not so bloodthirsty. "We did it" was the common refrain I heard from those nearby, not "we killed the bastard". Had we captured Mr bin Laden alive, I believe there would have been nearly as much jubilation. Would it still have been wrong?

...But I say the celebration didn't feel wrong because the one I observed did not have the jingoistic feel of so many post-9/11 gatherings in support of the troops, or the war, or the other war, or whatever. The revelers were not pumping themselves up for some future aggression. Sure, it was "America, fuck yeah!", but it was not "America, fuck you!" There was a satisfying sense of closure to an era of mass discomfort caused by our fears and our reaction to those fears. That this era is not actually over is perhaps a good reason to be more staid. But even if it is merely the beginning of the end, that seems like some cause for celebration. A fist pump, at least."
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"Farewell to Geronimo:" op-ed in NYT about Bin Laden's effect (or lack thereof) on young Arabs

"Farewell to Geronimo:" op-ed in NYT about Bin Laden's effect (or lack thereof) on young Arabs | The Unpopular Opinion |
"There is only one good thing about the fact that Osama bin Laden survived for nearly 10 years after the mass murder at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that he organized. And that is that he lived long enough to see so many young Arabs repudiate his ideology. He lived long enough to see Arabs from Tunisia to Egypt to Yemen to Syria rise up peacefully to gain the dignity, justice and self-rule that Bin Laden claimed could be obtained only by murderous violence and a return to puritanical Islam."
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Pakistan criticizes U.S. on "unauthorized" raid - CBS News

Pakistan criticizes U.S. on "unauthorized" raid - CBS News | The Unpopular Opinion |
"Pakistan criticized the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden as an "unauthorized unilateral action" and warned Washington on Tuesday not to launch similar operations in the future.

The comments laid bare the tensions triggered by Monday's attack, which came at time when U.S.-Pakistani ties were already near rock bottom.

The Pakistani government has been assailed by domestic critics, while the fact bin Laden was living in a house in a military town not far from the capital has led to international suspicions that elements of Pakistan's security forces may have been harboring him.

...Washington said it did not inform Islamabad about commando attack early Monday morning on bin Laden for security reasons. The raid followed months of deteriorating relations between the CIA and Pakistan's main intelligence service.

In a statement, the government said "this event of unauthorized unilateral action cannot be taken as a rule."

"The Government of Pakistan further affirms that such an event shall not serve as a future precedent for any state, including the U.S.," adding such actions can sometimes constitute a "threat to international peace and security."

The statement may be partly motivated by domestic concerns. The government and army has come under criticism following the raid by those who have accused the government of allowing Washington to violate the country's sovereignty. Islamabad has also been angered at the suspicions it had been sheltering bin Laden."
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Pa. School to 5th-Grader: No Face Paint Over Bin Laden

Pa. School to 5th-Grader: No Face Paint Over Bin Laden | The Unpopular Opinion |
"A Pennsylvania school district says a fifth-grader's face paint marking the death of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden is too disruptive for class.

Connor Tressler's face paint showed a flag, the date of bin Laden's death and the letters U-S-A. The artwork drew the attention of administrators at Middle Paxton Elementary School near Harrisburg on Monday.

Central Dauphin School District spokeswoman Shannon Leib says the paint violates a requirement that student dress be "conducive to a scholastic atmosphere."

She says the boy's mother decided to remove him from school for the day."
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Teacher Shaves for First Time Since Sept. 11, 2001

Teacher Shaves for First Time Since Sept. 11, 2001 | The Unpopular Opinion |
A middle school teacher vowed after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, that he would not shave his beard until Usama bin Laden was caught.
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Opinion: Bin Laden assassinated not martyred via @CNN

"...For Osama bin Laden's assassination to become a turning point rather than a Pyrrhic victory, the narrative of the event must be dramatically shifted away from rhetorical overtones about a "war of ideas" or "struggle for soul of Islam" towards a more neutral and universal appeal to a global rule of law.

President Obama set the right tone with his statement on Sunday evening that the "United States is not -- and never will be -- at war with Islam. ... Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader. He was a mass murderer of Muslims." For his criminal atrocities, bin Laden was assassinated, not martyred.

That it was American counterterrorism operatives who conducted the assassination on the sovereign soil of a foreign country is an even more important marker. Many see the assassination of rogue individuals as a violation of sovereign immunity and even "playing God," a right that no nation can arrogate to itself. This is false. It is a powerful symbol of our collective evolution that individual perpetrators are targeted for their crimes rather than entire societies punished in wars.

...The arguments against political assassinations hinge on an overly legalistic commitment to sovereignty and a misplaced fear of retribution. It is precisely the accretion of a body of international humanitarian law that justifies interventions from Kosovo to East Timor and assassinations of figures like Osama bin Laden.

In order for new norms to push forward, old ones must die. Furthermore, the presumption that Western leaders will now be targeted in revenge neglects the multiple major terrorist attacks that have befallen Western nations since 9/11, and certainly also threats to heads of state. Terrorists have not needed bin Laden's death to justify such attacks, even if they attempt to construe it as such in the future."
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Threat From al Qaeda Endures -

Threat From al Qaeda Endures - | The Unpopular Opinion |
"Long before Osama bin Laden's death, al Qaeda had adapted itself to survive and operate without him, ensuring the threat his terror network poses will live well beyond his demise.

Bin Laden spent the last decade on the run following the al Qaeda-mounted terrorist attacks in the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001. But his fugitive status didn't render the network impotent. Instead, it forced an evolution: The original group splintered, popping up in new places with new leaders who, in addition to attempting high-profile attacks, encouraged their radicalized followers to strike on their own if the opportunity presented itself.

The expansion of al Qaeda affiliates comes against a backdrop of political upheaval in the Middle East that is disrupting counterterrorism cooperation by onetime key U.S. allies such as Egypt and Yemen and giving terrorists potentially more operational breathing space.

..."We've struck a substantial blow at part of the [radical Islamic] movement, but this is far, far from over," said James Woolsey, a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

..."His martyrdom has the potential to reinvigorate al Qaeda's brand among those already radicalized to the cause," said Leah Farrall, an Australian counterterrorism expert."

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Quote of the Day: Martin Luther King, Jr.on death, hate and love

Quote of the Day: Martin Luther King, Jr.on death, hate and love | The Unpopular Opinion |
UPDATE: this quote was a fake! See this post for more details"

"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Cindy Sullivan's comment, May 3, 2011 12:16 PM
This has since been proven NOT to be a quote from MLK. It has been incorrectly attributed to him and disseminated throughout social media.
Baochi's comment, May 3, 2011 2:00 PM
Cindy, wow, I just learned about this. Thanks for letting me know. Wondering: should I just delete this post?

Mashable article on this controversy:
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Great article on muting our celebration over Osama Bin Laden's death

Great article on muting our celebration over Osama Bin Laden's death | The Unpopular Opinion |
"It is a strange and conflicting emotion to celebrate a death. My professed beliefs include the redemption of evil and the potential good in all humanity. Yet I felt a sense of exhilaration when I read the headline "DEAD" about Osama bin Laden.

For the last 10 years Osama bin Laden has exemplified the absolute worst of religion. He was a fundamentalist and a zealot in his own belief and willing to kill those who believed differently; he recruited young people into his ranks by preying on their despair; and he carried out violence in the name of God. Through actions and belief, Osama bin Laden profaned the name of God and denigrated all people of faith.

Osama bin Laden never felt any remorse for his murderous ways and the heartbreak that trailed behind him. He viewed his actions as part of a struggle that allowed him to transcend any moral concerns. He and his followers routinely slaughtered the innocent. He was ruthless in using faith as a means to the very worst ends. To reiterate what the President said in his announcement of bin Laden's death: "Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader, he was a mass murderer of Muslims." His death is satisfying not only because of what he did, but because it prevents him from doing any more violence in the future in the name of religion.

When I think of bin Laden I think of evil.

...All humans have the potential for grace, but we also all have the potential to sin and do evil. It is a tempting yet dangerous practice to look around the world for evil people and target them. That is just what Osama bin Laden thought he was doing. We must be vigilant that we do not become what we despise. We must be careful in the way we use religion and the name of God to further our own causes or to ever manipulate people into hate or hate.

So, let us mute our celebrations. Let any satisfaction be grim and grounded in the foundation of justice for all who have suffered at bin Laden's bloody hands. And also justice for crimes against God -- for using God as an instrument of terror and and promoting distrust between peoples of different religions and nations. Let us put bin Laden's body in the ground, and in doing so bury his disastrous and blasphemous religious legacy.

Ultimately, judgment is not ours to make. But I believe in a just God and I believe that Osama bin Laden, for all the talk of rewards in heaven, will not be enjoying his meeting with the God of Creation."
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Osama Bin Laden Dead: Muslim Scholar Says Al Qaeda Leader's Sea Burial 'Humiliates' Muslims

Osama Bin Laden Dead: Muslim Scholar Says Al Qaeda Leader's Sea Burial 'Humiliates' Muslims | The Unpopular Opinion |
"Muslim clerics said Monday that Osama bin Laden's burial at sea was a violation of Islamic tradition that may further provoke militant calls for revenge attacks against American targets.

Although there appears to be some room for debate over the burial – as with many issues within the faith – a wide range of senior Islamic scholars interpreted it as a humiliating disregard for the standard Muslim practice of placing the body in a grave with the head pointed toward the holy city of Mecca.

Sea burials can be allowed, they said, but only in special cases where the death occurred aboard a ship.

Bin Laden's burial at sea "runs contrary to the principles of Islamic laws, religious values and humanitarian customs," said Sheik Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand Imam of Cairo's al-Azhar mosque, Sunni Islam's highest seat of learning.

A radical cleric in Lebanon, Omar Bakri Mohammed, said, "The Americans want to humiliate Muslims through this burial, and I don't think this is in the interest of the U.S. administration."

A U.S. official said the burial decision was made after concluding that it would have been difficult to find a country willing to accept the remains. There was also speculation about worry that a grave site could have become a rallying point for militants.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive national security matters.

President Barack Obama said the remains had been handled in accordance with Islamic custom, which requires speedy burial, and the Pentagon later said the body was placed into the waters of the northern Arabian Sea after adhering to traditional Islamic procedures – including washing the corpse – aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson."
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Osama bin Laden is killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan

Osama bin Laden is killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan | The Unpopular Opinion |
"Osama bin Laden, the longtime al-Qaeda leader and chief architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, was killed Sunday by U.S. forces, President Obama announced late Sunday night.

Acting on an intelligence lead that surfaced last August, Obama said he authorized an operation to kill bin Laden, 53, who was hiding in a compound deep inside Pakistan. In a rare Sunday night address to the nation, the president said U.S. forces killed bin Laden during a firefight and had his body, ending a 10-year search for the most-wanted terrorist in the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan."
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Senator Chuck Grassley's "interesting" tweets >> asinine or awesome?

Senator Chuck Grassley's "interesting" tweets >> asinine or awesome? | The Unpopular Opinion |
I got wind of this story via a discussion thread on Gizmodo, which claims that Senator Chuck Grassley, who had vowed to tweet more often, is a bad tweeter. So I checked it out, and pasted a few of Grassley's precious tweets below. What do you think? Asinine or awesome?

"Talk is CHEAP b/c supply xceeds demand."


"I've had lot of Qs abt my "Z" tweet yestrday. It is as simple as a mistake. Evrybody: get a goodnite sleep"

"#99CountyTour Shefield 43Ppl Issues: Deficit Illegals Earmarks Toomany chinaimports GasPrices Czar Iraq ObamaCare"

"#99CountyTour CentralSpringsHS of Msnly 45Students Very good Qs similar to what nonstudents ask. Student askd personanal and process Qs"


"Reports of Gaddafi using Cluster bombs Nato'stimidity to stop means "blood on" Nato hand for every legles kiod. That is what clusters do"

"Previous tweet shld read every legless kid having steped on cluster is because Nato not aggressive enuf going aftr Gaddafi"

"EPA is more crying ovr"splilld milk" EPA no longer including dairy far$mer undr petroleum spill Rules commonSense prevails"
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America's Third War: Is the U.S. Arming Mexican Cartels?

America's Third War: Is the U.S. Arming Mexican Cartels? | The Unpopular Opinion |
"You can't buy this stuff at a U.S. gun store. So where do the cartels get it? According to leaked diplomatic cables, there are three sources.

1. U.S. Defense Department shipments to Latin America, known and tracked by the U.S. State Department as "foreign military sales."
2. Weapons ordered by the Mexican government, tracked by the State Department as "direct commercial sales."
3. Aging, but plentiful arsenals of military weapon stores in Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
Even though these facts were well-known by the Obama administration, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder, it blamed much of the violence in Mexico on U.S. gun stores."
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Signs Point to Pakistan Link to bin Laden -

Signs Point to Pakistan Link to bin Laden - | The Unpopular Opinion |
"U.S. and European intelligence officials increasingly believe active or retired Pakistani military or intelligence officials provided some measure of aid to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, allowing him to stay hidden in a large compound just a mile from an elite military academy...

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Quote of the Day: CIA director on working with Pakistan

Quote of the Day: CIA director on working with Pakistan | The Unpopular Opinion |
"It was decided that any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardize the mission. They might alert the targets."

- LEON PANETTA, CIA director, speaking to TIME about the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound
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U.S. Considers Whether To Release Bin Laden Photos : NPR

U.S. Considers Whether To Release Bin Laden Photos : NPR | The Unpopular Opinion |
What do you think? Will releasing the photos incite violence from Osama supporters?

"The White House chief of counterterrorism said Tuesday that the U.S. is debating whether to release photos of Osama bin Laden's lifeless body and expressed concern over how the al-Qaida leader was able to remain hidden so close to the Pakistani capital for so long.

John Brennan, the president's top adviser on homeland security, said the Obama administration was considering whether to release the photos to provide "visual proof" of bin Laden's death."
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Altered Martin Luther King, Jr. Quote Goes Viral After Osama Bin Laden's Death

Altered Martin Luther King, Jr. Quote Goes Viral After Osama Bin Laden's Death | The Unpopular Opinion |
Whoa. Talk about the power of social media. Yesterday, a very poignant Martin Luther King quote circulated all over social networks. I even featured the quote as a Quote of the Day. As it turns out, however, MLK didn't really say this quote verbatim.
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Name Fail: The Media's Most Embarrassing Obama/Osama Gaffes via @Mashable

Name Fail: The Media's Most Embarrassing Obama/Osama Gaffes via @Mashable | The Unpopular Opinion |
The U.S. president was prematurely reported dead and otherwise mixed up with the terrorist that he had ordered killed late Sunday evening.
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Top 10 Defining Moments of the Post-9/11 Era

Top 10 Defining Moments of the Post-9/11 Era | The Unpopular Opinion |
1. The Death of Osama Bin Laden

2. The War in Iraq

3. The War in Afghanistan

4. Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay

5. 7/7

6. The Mumbai Attacks

7. The Madrid Bombings

8. The Bali Bombings

9. The Department of Homeland Security

10. A Trio of Near Bombings
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Peru leader credits late pope for bin Laden death - CBS News

Peru leader credits late pope for bin Laden death - CBS News | The Unpopular Opinion |
"Peruvian President Alan Garcia said Pope John Paul II should get credit for the death of Osama bin Laden.

The late pope was beatified on Sunday and Garcia said: "His first miracle was to remove from the world the incarnation of evil, the demonic incarnation of crime and hatred, giving us the news that the person who blew up towers and buildings is no longer."

Garcia made the comment Monday as he inaugurated a hydroelectric power station.

Garcia also says bin Laden's death also vindicates President George W. Bush's decision "to punish Bin Laden and patiently continue this work that has born fruit."
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Why Bin Laden’s Death No Longer Really Matters - Global Spin

Why Bin Laden’s Death No Longer Really Matters   - Global Spin | The Unpopular Opinion |
"...But where killing or capturing Bin Laden might once have been imagined to be a decisive turning point in a struggle between the U.S. and its challengers in the Muslim world, today, the death of America's erstwhile nemesis is little more than an historical footnote -- a settling of accounts for a spree of ugly crimes and the elimination of a symbol of global jihadist nihilism, perhaps, offering justice and closure for the victims of 9/11 and other atrocities. But it does little to alter the challenges facing the U.S. and its allies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan or any other major country in the Muslim world. That's because much to his chagrin, Bin Laden and his movement have achieved only marginal relevance to power struggles throughout the Muslim world. The strategy of spectacular acts of a terror had briefly allowed a band of a few hundred desperadoes to dominate America's headlines and its nightmares, but on the ground in the Muslim world al-Qaeda had largely been a sideshow, failing miserably in its goal of rallying the Islamic world behind its banners and finding itself eclipsed by such despised rivals in the battle for Islamist leadership as Iran, Hizballah, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

...the story of Bin Laden's rise is a cautionary tale of perils that persist despite the elimination of a man who had, of late, come to personify them.

...No decent people will grieve at Bin Laden's passing. But nor will his elimination alter the challenges facing Washington in an Arab world that has found its own ways -- quite different from Bin Laden's -- for challenging the writ of the U.S. and its allies in the Muslim world. Bin Laden may have desperately sought the mantle of champion of Muslim resistance to the West, and a traumatized American media culture may have briefly granted him that role in the months that followed the horror of 9/11, but where it mattered most, among his own people, Bin Laden was an epic failure.

...Bin Laden's problem from the very beginning was that while (polls show) a majority of Muslims around the world might have agreed with his charge of U.S. malfeasance in its dealings in the Middle East, only a tiny minority identified with terrorism as a response. Despite the virulently anti-American attitudes revealed in opinion surveys in parts of the Muslim world after 9/11, very few people were prepared to condone attacks on innocent civilians. That's why so many people in Egypt and Pakistan bought into conspiracy theories about the CIA or Israel's Mossad being behind the attacks."
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New Mideast Turns Away From Terrorist -

New Mideast Turns Away From Terrorist - | The Unpopular Opinion |
"...For many in the Middle East, the kind of violent jihad pursued by Mr. bin Laden had become increasingly unacceptable, with growing public disgust for suicide bombings and civilian targets, and the success of nonviolent rebellions that led to the ousters of authoritarian leaders in Egypt and Tunisia...

"...Mr. bin Laden's loyalists found a fertile recruiting ground across much of the Middle East. They argued that an ideal world of justice and righteousness was being perverted by authoritarian governments in the Mideast—and infidel governments in the West—interested only in their own selfish policies instead of the public good...

A Saudi official said he hoped that "elimination of al-Qaeda leader is a step towards combating terrorism, dismantling its cells, and destroying the deviant ideology and those who support it." Many other Arab governments did not publish officials statements, but some officials said privately that they celebrated Mr. bin Laden's demise.

Response was mixed in the Arab world, where Mr. bin Laden was alternately praised as a folk hero for standing up to an unpopular U.S. superpower and a scourge for bringing the wrath of a vengeful West to Muslims across the world...

...The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's most powerful Islamist political group, condemned what it called the assassination of Mr. bin Laden. The group, an outlawed political and charitable organization before mass demonstrations removed Egypt's former regime from power in February, said Muslims everywhere have "suffered" from a perceived association between Islam and terrorism.

...The Palestinian group Hamas, which has run the Gaza Strip since 2007, gave one of the sharpest responses to Mr. bin Laden's killing. Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister in the Hamas government, said the killing "continues an American policy that is based on the bloody oppression of Arabs and Muslims," according to a statement...

...The response surprised some Palestinian analysts. Hamas has long sought to distance itself from al Qaeda, seeking to gain acceptance as a resistance movement against Israel, rather than an international terrorist organization. Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization by the Israel, the U.S. and the European Union."

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The mythos of Obama and Osama - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

The mythos of Obama and Osama - Opinion - Al Jazeera English | The Unpopular Opinion |
Thank you, Cindy Sullivan, for referring this excellent article. Here's an excerpt:

"Obama and Osama. Two names that will henceforth be coupled.

The hunter, Obama, is leader of the most powerful and feared nation on earth.

Osama, the hunted, was leader of a borderless state – a non-state actor – and probably the most feared religio-political association of the modern world since the rise of the Ismaili Hashashin assassins between the 11th and 13th centuries.

Obama and Osama may rhyme, but that is not their only correlation.

The Pygmalion syndrome

A Pygmalion resides in both of them. They are, to an extent, sculptors.

In turn, these two sculptors, Obama and Osama, are examples of how extraordinary men – when struck by the power of ideas, ideals and dreams, regardless of the cause – go on about sculpting their Galateas – their statues, dummies or puppets.

Each is in love with a statuesque vision, a set of ideals or dreams that they have sought to breathe life into.

Otherwise, how can one explain why a man who could have nymphs, Bentleys, yachts, and everything money can buy opts for the "illusionary" - to paraphrase Marx - rewards of the hereafter?

Osama could have opted for Al-Walid bin Talal's lifestyle. This is where he puzzles. It has to be the power of faith.

Not unlike Osama in complexion and "otherness", Obama dazzles. A hyphenated US citizen par excellence rises to occupy the Whitehouse.

Neither his colour nor his paternal roots, nor possibly the suppressed Islamic identity, have stopped him from mastering the art of political sculpture of self and public."
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"500 Taliban Prisoners Just Escaped Through a Long Underground Tunnel—Built Using No Heavy Machinery" via @Gizmodo

"500 Taliban Prisoners Just Escaped Through a Long Underground Tunnel—Built Using No Heavy Machinery" via @Gizmodo | The Unpopular Opinion |
"In their biggest prison break since 2008, nearly 500 Afghani detainees (mostly Taliban members) escaped from the Sarposa Prison through an underground tunnel, dug from the outside. Now the U.S. military is searching high and low, hoping to corral the escapees back in. The crazy thing is that they built this long tunnel using nothing but basic tools—no machinery.
UPDATE: Two of the imprisoned Taliban members reveal all about their escape through the underground tunnel.

According to Al Jazeera, Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said that a group on the outside spent five months digging a 320 meter tunnel that circumvented numerous security checkpoints (the length of the tunnel varies between 320 and 360 meters in different reports). "
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Quote of the Day: legislative director of Indiana Right to Life

Quote of the Day: legislative director of Indiana Right to Life | The Unpopular Opinion |
"This is a really exciting day for unborn Hoosier children."

- SUE SWAYZE, legislative director of Indiana Right to Life, on a bill that passed the state house, which would cut off funding to Planned Parenthood; Gov. Mitch Daniels said he is unsure whether he'll sign it into law.

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