Adonis Diaries

Archive for June 13th, 2018

World Blood Donor Day!

Note: My adventure securing 3 units of rare B negative blood in Lebanon for a surgery of my 90 year-old mother https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2018/05/26/my-adventure-to-secure-3-unites-of-blood-ab-negative-to-mother-s-hip-surgery-in-a-second-class-hospital/


Happy World Blood Donor Day!
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Countries around the world celebrate, on the 14th of June of every year, the World Blood Donor Day (WBDD).

This occasion, initiated by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2002, aims to thank all blood donors for their selfless heroic acts.

Particularly in Lebanon, our organization been celebrating the WBDD since 2010, organizing big events to honor our donors. No matter how much we do so, we will thank blood donors enough!


The reality in Lebanon
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The blood transfusion system in our country counts on patients and their families to secure the needed blood donors/units for any type of surgeries or treatments…

So, almost all blood donors are donating blood for targeted patients (family replacement donations).

In much rarer cases, blood donors voluntarily choose to donate at a random place and time, for no specific patient (voluntary donations).

However, the voluntary donors are still not accepted at most blood banks – for many reasons.  Thus, such potential donors are frustrated when they are told that “there is no more need” for their donations!


This year’s campaign 
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In line with the daily obstacles faced by blood donors, we decided this year not only to thank those who are giving blood, but also those who have tried and did not succeed!Those people leave all work and studies behind, benefit from the little time off they have and head to blood banks to try and save people…

Even though you get frustrated when you are rejected, we want to say THANK YOU, and keep on trying to donate blood! 

Happy World Blood Donor Day 2018

Join us to donate blood!
To all who wish to join us and donate blood, here is where we will be waiting for you:

– Wednesday 13: Librairie Antoine (Beirut Souks) from 5pm to 8pm
– Wednesday 13: Sassine Square (Achrafieh) from 5pm to 9pm
– Thursday 14: Hotel Dieu de France (Achrafieh) from 9am to 3pm
– Thursday 14: Mike Sport (Zalka) from 7:30am to 12pm
– Sunday 17: Bnachii Lake (Zgharta) from 5pm to 9pm

 

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Our Address
Mount Lebanon, Dekwaneh, Nehme Center, 3rd floor
Need Help?
Send us an email  to info@dsclebanon.org and we will get in touch with you shortly!
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Is there a Secret Deal on Drone attacks? And Sealed in Blood…

The C.I.A. has carried out hundreds of strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

On a hot day in June 2004, the Pashtun tribesman was lounging inside a mud compound in South Waziristan, speaking by satellite phone to one of the many reporters who regularly interviewed him on how he had fought and humbled Pakistan’s army in the country’s western mountains. He asked one of his followers about the strange, metallic bird hovering above him.

Less than 24 hours later, a missile tore through the compound, severing Mr. Nek Muhammad’s left leg and killing him and several others, including two boys, ages 10 and 16.

A Pakistani military spokesman was quick to claim responsibility for the attack, saying that Pakistani forces had fired at the compound. “In Pakistan, things fall out of the sky all the time.”

PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, the former Pakistani president military dictator whose government reached a deal with the C.I.A., allowing it to carry out secret drone strikes in Pakistan.

 

“Mr. Nek Muhammad and his followers had been killed by the C.I.A., the first time it had deployed a Predator drone in Pakistan to carry out a “targeted killing.” The target was not a top operative of Al Qaeda, but a Pakistani ally of the Taliban who led a tribal rebellion and was marked by Pakistan as an enemy of the state.

By 2004, the car thief Mr. Muhammad had become the undisputed star of the tribal areas, the fierce mountain lands populated by the Wazirs, Mehsuds and other Pashtun tribes who for decades had lived independent of the writ of the central government in Islamabad.

A brash member of the Wazir tribe, Mr. Muhammad had raised an army to fight government troops and had forced the government into negotiations. He saw no cause for loyalty to the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence, the Pakistani military spy service that had given an earlier generation of Pashtuns support during the war against the Soviets.

Born near Wana, the bustling market hub of South Waziristan, Mr. Muhammad spent his adolescent years as a petty car thief and shopkeeper in the city’s bazaar. He found his calling in 1993, around the age of 18, when he was recruited to fight with the Taliban in Afghanistan, and rose quickly through the group’s military hierarchy.

He cut a striking figure on the battlefield with his long face and flowing jet black hair.

Nek Muhammad knew he was being followed.

Kamran Wazir/Reuters. Nek Muhammad, center, was a Pashtun militant who was killed in 2004, in the first C.I.A. drone strike in Pakistan.

In a secret deal, the C.I.A. had agreed to kill Nek in exchange for access to airspace it had long sought so it could use drones to hunt down its own enemies.

That back-room bargain, described in detail for the first time in interviews with more than a dozen officials in Pakistan and the United States, is critical to understanding the origins of a covert drone war that began under the Bush administration, was embraced and expanded by President Obama, and is now the subject of fierce debate.

The deal, a month after a blistering internal report about abuses in the C.I.A.’s network of secret prisons, paved the way for the C.I.A. to change its focus from capturing terrorists to killing them, and helped transform an agency that began as a cold war espionage service into a paramilitary organization

 The New York Times. Enlarge This Image

REMOTE Wana, in South Waziristan, where Pashtuns live independent of the Pakistani government’s authority and have given shelter to militants. Enlarge This Image

TARGET Mr. Muhammad, a Pashtun militant leader, reached a truce with the Pakistani military in April 2004. But the truce was a sham and two months later he was killed in a C.I.A. drone strike at Pakistan’s behest. Enlarge This Image

Allah Noor Wazir/European Pressphoto Agency. Tribesmen praying at Mr. Muhammad’s grave days after his killing. Enlarge This Image

The C.I.A. has since conducted hundreds of drone strikes in Pakistan that have killed thousands of people, Pakistanis and Arabs, militants and civilians alike. While it was not the first country where the United States used drones, it became the laboratory for the targeted killing operations that have come to define a new American way of fighting, blurring the line between soldiers and spies and short-circuiting the normal mechanisms by which the United States as a nation goes to war.

Neither American nor Pakistani officials have ever publicly acknowledged what really happened to Mr. Muhammad — details of the strike that killed him, along with those of other secret strikes, are still hidden in classified government databases.

But in recent months, calls for transparency from members of Congress and critics on both the right and left have put pressure on Mr. Obama and his new C.I.A. director, John O. Brennan, to offer a fuller explanation of the goals and operation of the drone program, and of the agency’s role.

Mr. Brennan, who began his career at the C.I.A. and over the past four years oversaw an escalation of drone strikes from his office at the White House, has signaled that he hopes to return the agency to its traditional role of intelligence collection and analysis. But with a generation of C.I.A. officers now fully engaged in a new mission, it is an effort that could take years.

Today, even some of the people who were present at the creation of the drone program think the agency should have long given up targeted killings.

Ross Newland, who was a senior official at the C.I.A.’s headquarters in Langley, Va., when the agency was given the authority to kill Qaeda operatives, says he thinks that the agency had grown too comfortable with remote-control killing, and that drones have turned the C.I.A. into the villain in countries like Pakistan, where it should be nurturing relationships in order to gather intelligence.

As he puts it, “This is just not an intelligence mission.”

Alex Wong/Getty Images. SPY CHIEFS George J. Tenet, left, director of the C.I.A., and his deputy, John E. McLaughlin, are sworn in before the 9/11 panel in 2004. Enlarge This Image

Many Pakistanis in the tribal areas viewed with disdain the alliance that President Pervez Musharraf had forged with the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. They regarded the Pakistani military that had entered the tribal areas as no different from the Americans — who they believed had begun a war of aggression in Afghanistan, just as the Soviets had years earlier.

When the Americans invaded Afghanistan in 2001, Nek seized an opportunity to host the Arab and Chechen fighters from Al Qaeda who crossed into Pakistan to escape the American bombing.

For Mr. Muhammad, it was partly a way to make money, but he also saw another use for the arriving fighters. With their help, over the next two years he launched a string of attacks on Pakistani military installations and on American firebases in Afghanistan.

C.I.A. officers in Islamabad urged Pakistani spies to lean on the Waziri tribesman to hand over the foreign fighters, but under Pashtun tribal customs that would be treachery.

Reluctantly, Mr. Musharraf ordered his troops into the forbidding mountains to deliver rough justice to Mr. Muhammad and his fighters, hoping the operation might put a stop to the attacks on Pakistani soil, including two attempts on his life in December 2003.

But it was only the beginning. In March 2004, Pakistani helicopter gunships and artillery pounded Wana and its surrounding villages. Government troops shelled pickup trucks that were carrying civilians away from the fighting and destroyed the compounds of tribesmen suspected of harboring foreign fighters. The Pakistani commander declared the operation an unqualified success, but for Islamabad, it had not been worth the cost in casualties.

A cease-fire was negotiated in April during a hastily arranged meeting in South Waziristan, during which a senior Pakistani commander hung a garland of bright flowers around Mr. Muhammad’s neck. The two men sat together and sipped tea as photographers and television cameras recorded the event.

Both sides spoke of peace, but there was little doubt who was negotiating from strength. Mr. Muhammad would later brag that the government had agreed to meet inside a religious madrasa rather than in a public location where tribal meetings are traditionally held. “I did Not go to them; they came to my place,” he said. “That should make it clear who surrendered to whom.”

The peace arrangement propelled Mr. Muhammad to new fame, and the truce was soon exposed as a sham. He resumed attacks against Pakistani troops, and Mr. Musharraf ordered his army back on the offensive in South Waziristan.

Pakistani officials had, for several years, balked at the idea of allowing armed C.I.A. Predators to roam their skies. They considered drone flights a violation of sovereignty, and worried that they would invite further criticism of Mr. Musharraf as being Washington’s lackey. But Mr. Muhammad’s rise to power forced them to reconsider.

The C.I.A. had been monitoring the rise of Mr. Muhammad, but officials considered him to be more Pakistan’s problem than America’s. In Washington, officials were watching with growing alarm the gathering of Qaeda operatives in the tribal areas, and George J. Tenet, the C.I.A. director, authorized officers in the agency’s Islamabad station to push Pakistani officials to allow armed drones. Negotiations were handled primarily by the Islamabad station.

As the battles raged in South Waziristan, the station chief in Islamabad paid a visit to Gen. Ehsan ul Haq, the ISI chief, and made an offer: If the C.I.A. killed Mr. Muhammad, would the ISI allow regular armed drone flights over the tribal areas?

In secret negotiations, the terms of the bargain were set. Pakistani intelligence officials insisted that they be allowed to approve each drone strike, giving them tight control over the list of targets. And they insisted that drones fly only in narrow parts of the tribal areas — ensuring that they would not venture where Islamabad did not want the Americans going: Pakistan’s nuclear facilities, and the mountain camps where Kashmiri militants were trained for attacks in India.

The ISI and the C.I.A. agreed that all drone flights in Pakistan would operate under the C.I.A.’s covert action authority — meaning that the United States would never acknowledge the missile strikes and that Pakistan would either take credit for the individual killings or remain silent.

Mr. Musharraf did not think that it would be difficult to keep up the ruse. As he told one C.I.A. officer: “In Pakistan, things fall out of the sky all the time.”

A New Direction

As the negotiations were taking place, the C.I.A.’s inspector general, John L. Helgerson, had just finished a searing report about the abuse of detainees in the C.I.A.’s secret prisons. The report kicked out the foundation upon which the C.I.A. detention and interrogation program had rested. It was perhaps the single most important reason for the C.I.A.’s shift from capturing to killing terrorism suspects.

The greatest impact of Mr. Helgerson’s report was felt at the C.I.A.’s Counter-terrorism Center, or CTC, which was at the vanguard of the agency’s global anti-terrorism operation. The center had focused on capturing Qaeda operatives; questioning them in C.I.A. jails or outsourcing interrogations to the spy services of Pakistan, Jordan, Egypt and other nations; and then using the information to hunt more terrorism suspects.

Mr. Helgerson raised questions about whether C.I.A. officers might face criminal prosecution for the interrogations carried out in the secret prisons, and he suggested that interrogation methods like waterboarding, sleep deprivation and the exploiting of the phobias of prisoners — like confining them in a small box with live bugs — violated the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

“The agency faces potentially serious long-term political and legal challenges as a result of the CTC detention and interrogation program,” the report concluded, given the brutality of the interrogation techniques and the “inability of the U.S. government to decide what it will ultimately do with the terrorists detained by the agency.”

The report was the beginning of the end for the program. The prisons would stay open for several more years, and new detainees were occasionally picked up and taken to secret sites, but at Langley, senior C.I.A. officers began looking for an endgame to the prison program. One C.I.A. operative told Mr. Helgerson’s team that officers from the agency might one day wind up on a “wanted list” and be tried for war crimes in an international court.

The ground had shifted, and counterterrorism officials began to rethink the strategy for the secret war. Armed drones, and targeted killings in general, offered a new direction. Killing by remote control was the antithesis of the dirty, intimate work of interrogation. Targeted killings were cheered by Republicans and Democrats alike, and using drones flown by pilots who were stationed thousands of miles away made the whole strategy seem risk-free.

Before long the C.I.A. would go from being the long-term jailer of America’s enemies to a military organization that erased them.

Not long before, the agency had been deeply ambivalent about drone warfare.

The Predator had been considered a blunt and unsophisticated killing tool, and many at the C.I.A. were glad that the agency had gotten out of the assassination business long ago. Three years before Mr. Muhammad’s death, and one year before the C.I.A. carried out its first targeted killing outside a war zone — in Yemen in 2002 — a debate raged over the legality and morality of using drones to kill suspected terrorists.

A new generation of C.I.A. officers had ascended to leadership positions, having joined the agency after the 1975 Congressional committee led by Senator Frank Church, Democrat of Idaho, which revealed extensive C.I.A. plots to kill foreign leaders, and President Gerald Ford’s subsequent ban on assassinations. The rise to power of this post-Church generation had a direct impact on the type of clandestine operations the C.I.A. chose to conduct.

The debate pitted a group of senior officers at the Counterterrorism Center against James L. Pavitt, the head of the C.I.A.’s clandestine service, and others who worried about the repercussions of the agency’s getting back into assassinations. Mr. Tenet told the 9/11 commission that he was not sure that a spy agency should be flying armed drones.

John E. McLaughlin, then the C.I.A.’s deputy director, who the 9/11 commission reported had raised concerns about the C.I.A.’s being in charge of the Predator, said: “You can’t underestimate the cultural change that comes with gaining lethal authority.

“When people say to me, ‘It’s not a big deal,’ ” he said, “I say to them, ‘Have you ever killed anyone?’

“It is a big deal. You start thinking about things differently,” he added. But after the Sept. 11 attacks, these concerns about the use of the C.I.A. to kill were quickly swept side.

The Account at the Time

After Mr. Muhammad was killed, his dirt grave in South Waziristan became a site of pilgrimage. A Pakistani journalist, Zahid Hussain, visited it days after the drone strike and saw a makeshift sign displayed on the grave: “He lived and died like a true Pashtun.”

Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan, Pakistan’s top military spokesman, told reporters at the time that “Al Qaeda facilitator” Nek Muhammad and four other “militants” had been killed in a rocket attack by Pakistani troops.

Any suggestion that Mr. Muhammad was killed by the Americans, or with American assistance, he said, was “absolutely absurd.”

This article is adapted from “The Way of the Knife: The C.I.A., a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth,” to be published by Penguin Press on Tuesday.

A version of this article appeared in print on April 7, 2013.

MP lives on £18 a week food bill, and we love her for it

Gareth On March 1, 2013 REVIEW OVERVIEW

A rare breed.
Could you imagine Boris (Johnson) and DavCam shopping around for food on £18 a week?

That’s why we love Helen Goodman, who did so during parliamentary recess to better understand her constituents.

It’s not often we find an MP we like. More often than not, we’re found frothing at the mouth about some tosspot who’s calling for poor people to be shot, or for millionaires (“wealth creators”) to receive tax cuts – often at the same time.

Wealth creators lavish money upon poors, it’s a well-known fact isn’t it?

But sometimes, we find someone who DOES THEIR JOB, and what’s more, goes beyond it.

Let’s all meet Helen Goodman, then, Labour MP for Bishop Auckland, who decided to live on £18 a week for food during the recent recess.

Yes, while DavCam and Boris were stuffing their porky pink faces full of fondue in Switzerland, one of our MPs was living like her constituents.

While David Cameron was, probably, supping on oysters and complaining about the bits of caviar in between his pearly white, recently treated teeth, Helen Goodman was suffering from headaches due to not having eaten enough.

Shocked at the bedroom tax and the other methods your government is using to basically pay for its millionaires’ tax cut and the RBS bonuses, she did what every MP should –tried to understand what her constituents are going through.

Never mind what we have to say, we could blather on all day about what fuckwits most MPs are – here’s the official extract from the Hansard. In full.

Helen Goodman, MP for Bishop Auckland

I was so shocked when I read what my constituents wrote to me about the implications for them of the bedroom tax, and about how little they would have left to live on, that I decided during the week of the recent recess to see if I could survive on £18 a week, which is what they will be left with to buy their food after 1 April.

That figure of £18 is entirely based on the experiences of my constituents, in particular women on employment and support allowance who are about the same age as me, but who had to stop working owing to chronic health conditions, perhaps after 20 years of working life.

Out of their £71.70 in allowance, they have to find £10 for electricity, £20 for heating—gas or coal—£6 for water rates, £4 for bus fares in the case of those who live in villages and have to get to the main town, and £10 for the bedroom tax, which left them with £23 for weekly living expenses.

That £23 has to cover more than food, of course. We did a calculation, and set aside £5 for all the non-food things everyone has to buy—soap, washing powder, washing-up liquid, toothpaste, loo paper—plus a small amount in order to save £50 a year for clothes or a pair of trainers, or in case the iron breaks. That leaves £18.

I therefore took up the challenge of trying to live on £18, and I want to tell Members what it is like. It is extremely unpleasant. I had porridge for breakfast every morning, as I usually do, but I make my porridge with milk; now I was making it with water.

I had to eat the same food over and over and over again. Single people are hit particularly hard, because cheap food comes in big packs.

I made a stew at the beginning of the week, and I ate the same food four nights a week.

I had pasta twice a week. I had baked potatoes.

I had eggs on six occasions.

It was completely impossible to have meat or fish; that was out of the question. It was also impossible to have five portions of fruit and vegetables a week.

I therefore also have a message for the Under-Secretary of State for Health, Anna Soubry, who is responsible for public health. She was criticising people on low incomes for obesity.

Of course people on low incomes are more likely to have that problem; they have to fill up on toast and biscuits.

I found myself waking up in the middle of the night absolutely ravenous, having to make cups of tea and eat biscuits.

I had a headache for five days in that week, and I was completely lethargic and exhausted by 4 pm.

Some people are on jobseeker’s allowance and are looking for a job. Looking for a job is a job in itself; it takes time and energy.

The people whom DWP Ministers want to do workfare are being expected to work 30 hours a week, yet they are not going to have enough to eat properly.

Most shocking of all was the fact that come Sunday I ran out of food—there was literally nothing left to eat that night.

If Ministers are happy with the notion that 660,000 of our fellow citizens are literally not going to have enough to eat by the end of the week, all I can say is that I pity them because they have no pity and no conception of what they are going to do to the people in our constituencies who will be faced with this bedroom tax.

The Minister has been very free and easy in talking about all these wonderful alternatives, such as the fact that people can move.

In my constituency more than 1,000 people will be affected by the bedroom tax, but there are fewer than 100 smaller properties to which they could move. In my constituency, it is not possible for all these people to increase the number of hours they work, as 7 people are chasing every job;

People are in part-time work because they cannot get full-time work. Government Members have shown their complete ignorance of the benefits system by saying, “You just have to work a couple of hours a week on the minimum wage.

Of course that is not true, because these people would get then into the tapers and the disregards, and their benefits would be cut or they might find themselves paying tax. The numbers simply do not add up.

Of course some individuals or couples have properties that are larger than they need, but the so-called under-occupancy is in one part of the country and the overcrowding is in another.

It simply is not credible to suggest that all the large, over-occupying families in London will move up to Durham, particularly given that the unemployment rate there is more than 9%. What would they be moving to? What would they be moving for?

I made a video diary of my week, so I got a lot of feedback from people affected by this policy. Interestingly, they said, “Yes, this is the reality of our lives. We are not able to survive properly now and things are going to get worse to the tune of £10 a week from 1 April.”

In 2006, I did the same experiment under the previous Labour Government, living on benefits to see what life was like for young people on the lowest rate of income support.

I found that difficult, but there was enough money to get through the whole week. I wish to point out to the Minister that we have reached a new low, because the £21 that people had in 2006 is equivalent to £28 now, and that should be compared with the £18 with which people are going to be expected to feed themselves.

The Minister has made much, too, of the discretionary housing benefits, which many hon. Members have questioned.

In County Durham, £5 million of income will be taken out of people’s pockets and out of the local economy. The size of the discretionary fund is half a million pounds, so once again there is a huge gap between actual need and the resources being given to people to deal with it.

Many hon. Members have pointed out the unfairness of the policy for people who are disabled and need to sleep separately, be they adults or children; people who have children in the Army; foster carers; and separated parents.

This policy is a fundamental attack on the poorest people in this country. People are going to lose between £500 and £1,000 over the course of next year, through no fault of their own.

But the really disgusting thing is that on the same day that the bedroom tax is being introduced millionaires are being given a tax cut that will be worth £1,000—not over the year as a whole, but every single week.

Note: In Lebanon with have No allowance for the needy people: They have to manage any which way


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