UEFA Champions League Time!

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Hey everyone, just a quick reminder. The UEFA Champions League Final, presented by Heineken(R) is just minutes from kicking off.  Log on to www.heineken.com and download the Star Player app for Facebook or iPhone. Prove your mad soccer knowledge & skills on real time.

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What do you mean Flash Gordon approaching?

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Here’s a blast from the past. All I can say is we’ve come a long way in terms of movie production, animation and special effects since 1980.

I remember watching this film as a kid and thinking it kicked ass. Now it looks like a bad Halloween party with that a weird blonde dude with no shirt crashed.

Thank YOU.

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I’ve received great comments from readers, friends and new friends, on my recent post on breaking the hate cycle. I just want to say to ALL of you, that reading them and finding common ground with so many of you, provides a me with beacon of hope. Once again and under the same principle that Global Majority (www.globalmajority.org) was founded, you’ve shown me that a vast majority of us wants to live in peace and believes in peace and reconciliation.

So to all of you and from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU.

Break the hate cycle

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I just spent the last couple of hours watching history unfold. It is well-known by now, that last night (I write these words around 1:30 am of May 2nd) President Barrack Obama told the world that Osama Bin Laden, mastermind of the USS Cole and 9/11 attacks, was dead.

The news leaked about an hour before the announcement and by the time Obama took the microphone, there were already hundreds of people outside of the White House chanting and celebrating the fact. Crowds were also gathering around Ground Zero in New York City in what became an important and emotional chapter in US history.  

As the night progressed, discourse both in mainstream media and on the streets got charged up more and more and before long, what began with chanting of patriotic songs (God Bless America and the Star Spangled Banner) became a rowdy football fan-like behavior. “Yes, we can” evolved to “USA! USA! USA!” and “Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey, goodbye.”  On twitter, new users like OsamaInHell and GhostOsama were created and tweets making reference to the foursquare network  mentioning that Osama Bin Laden was the now mayor of Hell were retweeted all night. “Obama got Osama” T-shirts are already on sale. Admittedly, the trend was contagious and I even fell into it for a second. But we have to be better than this.

I can understand that the US needs to take a moment to celebrate achieving a goal they set a long time ago but we cannot let it become the catalyst of hate.

When the twin towers fell, I remember news media showing footage from Palestine of people celebrating in the streets. Watching Americans do exactly the same today, worries me. Death and vengeance should not be an occasion for joy and as Mohandas Gandhi famously said “an eye for eye makes the world go blind.”

I don’t mean to eradicate extremism. That would be naïve. But we cannot allow ourselves the easy privilege of going with the flow and letting the worst part of our human nature take over. I felt sick reading some racist comments from readers of news media saying that Obama’s speech should have started with “I got that cocksucker towelhead. We got him right between the frickin’ eyes.”  It is irrelevant to look for the root cause of the conflict, to point fingers and say who is to blame for all the hate… but far too quickly we’ve forgotten why the Taliban was in power in Afghanistan in the first place. In most conflicts, no one party is completely innocent and no one party is completely to blame.

Please, dear readers, let’s acknowledge this day in history for what it is and ONLY for what it is. Last night a man who considered his ends to justify his means which included targeting innocent civilians, was killed in a military operation in Pakistan. It was not the triumph of good over evil and it was not Obama “getting a cocksucker towelhead.”

Please break the hate cycle. It is time to call for unity, not vengeance (and you don’t want vengeance coming your way either).

All we are saying is give peace a chance.   

Obama speech transcript here

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REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

ON OSAMA BIN LADEN

East Room

11:35 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening.  Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.

It was nearly 10 years ago that a bright September day was darkened by the worst attack on the American people in our history.  The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory — hijacked planes cutting through a cloudless September sky; the Twin Towers collapsing to the ground; black smoke billowing up from the Pentagon; the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the actions of heroic citizens saved even more heartbreak and destruction.

And yet we know that the worst images are those that were unseen to the world.  The empty seat at the dinner table.  Children who were forced to grow up without their mother or their father.  Parents who would never know the feeling of their child’s embrace.  Nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts.

On September 11, 2001, in our time of grief, the American people came together.  We offered our neighbors a hand, and we offered the wounded our blood.  We reaffirmed our ties to each other, and our love of community and country.  On that day, no matter where we came from, what God we prayed to, or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family.

We were also united in our resolve to protect our nation and to bring those who committed this vicious attack to justice.  We quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda — an organization headed by Osama bin Laden, which had openly declared war on the United States and was committed to killing innocents in our country and around the globe.  And so we went to war against al Qaeda to protect our citizens, our friends, and our allies.

Over the last 10 years, thanks to the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals, we’ve made great strides in that effort.  We’ve disrupted terrorist attacks and strengthened our homeland defense.  In Afghanistan, we removed the Taliban government, which had given bin Laden and al Qaeda safe haven and support.  And around the globe, we worked with our friends and allies to capture or kill scores of al Qaeda terrorists, including several who were a part of the 9/11 plot.

Yet Osama bin Laden avoided capture and escaped across the Afghan border into Pakistan.  Meanwhile, al Qaeda continued to operate from along that border and operate through its affiliates across the world.

And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network.

Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden.  It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground.  I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan.  And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.

Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.  A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability.  No Americans were harmed.  They took care to avoid civilian casualties.  After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.

For over two decades, bin Laden has been al Qaeda’s leader and symbol, and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies.  The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda.

Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort.  There’s no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us.  We must –- and we will — remain vigilant at home and abroad.

As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not –- and never will be -– at war with Islam.  I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam.  Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims.  Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own.  So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.

Over the years, I’ve repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan if we knew where bin Laden was.  That is what we’ve done.  But it’s important to note that our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding.  Indeed, bin Laden had declared war against Pakistan as well, and ordered attacks against the Pakistani people.

Tonight, I called President Zardari, and my team has also spoken with their Pakistani counterparts.  They agree that this is a good and historic day for both of our nations.  And going forward, it is essential that Pakistan continue to join us in the fight against al Qaeda and its affiliates.

The American people did not choose this fight.  It came to our shores, and started with the senseless slaughter of our citizens.  After nearly 10 years of service, struggle, and sacrifice, we know well the costs of war.  These efforts weigh on me every time I, as Commander-in-Chief, have to sign a letter to a family that has lost a loved one, or look into the eyes of a service member who’s been gravely wounded.

So Americans understand the costs of war.  Yet as a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed.  We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies.  We will be true to the values that make us who we are. And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda’s terror:  Justice has been done.

Tonight, we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who’ve worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome.  The American people do not see their work, nor know their names.  But tonight, they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice.

We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism, and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country.  And they are part of a generation that has borne the heaviest share of the burden since that September day.

Finally, let me say to the families who lost loved ones on 9/11 that we have never forgotten your loss, nor wavered in our commitment to see that we do whatever it takes to prevent another attack on our shores.

And tonight, let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11.  I know that it has, at times, frayed.  Yet today’s achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people.

The cause of securing our country is not complete.  But tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to.  That is the story of our history, whether it’s the pursuit of prosperity for our people, or the struggle for equality for all our citizens; our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place.

Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are:  one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Thank you.  May God bless you.  And may God bless the United States of America.

Osama Bin Laden is dead

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Breaking news: The mastermind of the USS Cole and 9/11 attacks is dead.  Sources say the US has his body. Obama to release statement in minutes.

Source says to CNN that U.S. forces killed Bin Laden in mansion outside of Islamabad (Pakistan) before Obama releases statement.

Obama set for a second term if he handles this correctly.