The letter accused Israel of “advancing on Palestinian territories instead of withdrawing to the 1967 borders.
“Gaza is living through horror… while the international community does nothing.”
The Spanish letter was signed by 100 leading figures in the film industry, including director Pedro Almodovar.
One top producer who has worked with Cruz says he privately has vowed not to hire her again, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Another top Hollywood executive also privately expressed his disapproval, saying he’s “furious at Javier and Penelope” and wasn’t sure about working with the Spanish couple again.
Relativity Media chief executive Ryan Kavanaugh was the only studio head willing to go public with his views: “As the grandson of Holocaust survivors, I know that anyone calling what’s going on in Israel ‘genocide’ vs. self-defense is either ignorant and shouldn’t be commenting or is truly anti-Semitic.”
However, Kavanaugh doesn’t believe the letter will harm either of the actors’ careers as long as their films are box office hits.
As one film producer explained: “I think the thing any executive or producer will try to calculate before working with Penelope Cruz or Javier Bardem in the near future is what their value is in the all-important international marketplace. And what territories they might have alienated people in by what they said. It might not be that many. But it’s really all about business.”
Other Hollywood big names have waded into the controversy, including comedian Joan Rivers. When quizzed by a TMZ reporter on her thoughts about the 2,000 Palestinians who have so far been killed, she said: “Oh my God! Tell that to the people in Hiroshima.
“Good. Good. When you declare war, you declare war. They started it. We now don’t count who’s dead. You’re dead, you deserve to be dead. Don’t you dare make me feel bad about that.
“They were told to get out. They didn’t get out. You don’t get out, you are an idiot. At least the ones that were killed were the ones with low IQs.”
On Memorial Day, politicians will speak at ceremonies all over the country and repeat their favorite mantra: “Support the troops.”
This pledge is hammered into the American psyche at every turn. But there is a hidden, dark history that shows that the politicians are in fact no friend to service members–but their greatest enemy.
An easy way to prove this truth is to look at how they so quickly betray and abandon their soldiers after purposely ruining their lives, and even after using them as literal lab rats.
In this disturbing chapter of The Empire Files, Abby Martin documents decades of experimentation on US troops—from nuclear tests to psychotropic drugs—as well as knowingly exposing them to deadly poisons, from sarin gas to Agent Orange.
Most damning is that the hundreds of thousands of veterans seeking help from the government for the side-effects are always met with lies and denial.
A couple of days I was on Twitter reading and posting comments on the refugee situation we are currently experiencing.Mostly it was an interesting discussion,many differing opinions but also some extremly nasty behaviour.
THIS this is what they are fleeing from,take a good look.
dead Syrian children,according to UNICEF 10% OF THE VICTIMS ARE CHILDREN
Some people said to me they are all just young men and mostly terrorists overrunning our country.Have you ever considered the these young men are simply trying to find a place for their wifes,sisters,mothers and children to come to?They are the ones that have the strength and courage to endure the arduous conditions crossing thousands of miles of hostile lands to find a safe haven.
Also the media will show you what they wish to.Change the camera directicetion and you will see plenty of women and children but it it far more convinient for some parties to whip up fear of the “other” that is going to steal your job your housing.
The reality is we started these wars,on false premises by a lying corrupt government that did not care about the suffering they are causing.
As for the argument that other countries are not taking in refugees why hould we.
It leave we me speechless ,it has nothing to do with what other countries do.What matters is that it is the right thing to do,we have an obligation to these people ,we destroyed their homes,their infrastructure their lives,murdered millions in the name of giving them freedom.
Why not look to those countries like Lebanon that have taken in far more people then us.Instead of using those that to nothing as an example.
We have plenty of space,thousands of empty houses to house our own homeless as well as refugees.These people will bring skills and ideas to country with an aging population.
Are you still going to say we should not help them when they start building concentration camps and gas chambers?
Do you see how broken our young soldiers are that return from these places,how many are left to starve on the streets having done their bit for this corrupt government?Is that OK too?
In my mind it is simply the right thing to do.Nobody leaves their country to end up in filthy refugee camps and those are the lucky ones.How many have drowned on the way,died of cold,hunger or been shot?
You know just stopping those stupid wars on all sides is the simplest solution.Stop killing,stop sending our sons and daughters to kill theirs.
How would you feel if we were invaded because the UN has criticised our givernment for it’s austerity measures that has killed so many? While those causing it are hoarding wealth in offshore bank accounts ,bleeding the country dry.It is not the refugees you should fear but ,or the poor,the disabled,the jobles.
It is those in power you should fear ,they have shown only too clearly that we are nothing to them but pawns to be used and sacrificed.You can bet their children are not sent to to the frontline,nOr will you see our politicians living on starvation wages.Can you not see they are turning us against each other and those seeking shelter from their wars only to better control and exploit the worlds resources?
War is a buisness and it is the ordinary person paying for it with their lives while they grow ever richer,ever more divorced from reality.By turning our backs on our fellow human beings regardles of their race,religion or colour ,we will all have blood on our hands.
Vietnam jungle saga: Father & son spent 40+ years hiding from US airstrikes in the wild
Having survived a deadly American bombing that killed their entire village, a Vietnamese family of two spent over 40 years hiding in jungles confident the war was still going on and getting close to human settlements was unsafe.
The “Tarzans” were found in 2013 – Ho Van Thanh, now 85, and his now 44-year-old son Ho Van Lang, according to reports in local media. For over four decades they had been living as hermits in a remote area of the Tay Tra district of Quang Ngai region of Vietnam.
The father served in the North Vietnamese Army. In 1972, the US Air Force bombed their village, killing everyone including Ho Van Thanh’s wife and two of his children. He decided to flee to the jungles with his surviving two-year-old son. Nobody set eyes on them again for 41 years.
Through all those years they evaded people they encountered in the jungle and lived in a small wooden hut elevated 5 meters above ground, wearing loincloths, making tools they needed and eating anything that could be gathered, picked and hunted down in the wild forest.
Finally, they were spotted by foragers who reported about the “jungle men” to the authorities. A distant relative was found, who tried to talk them into returning to civilization.
Initially, they refused to come out of the woods, believing the war was still on, but given his age, Ho Van Thanh eventually needed medical attention, which forced the father and son to leave the jungle.
For the next three years, they lived in a village, trying to adapt to civilization.
Last November, their story got the attention of Alvaro Cerezo, managing director of the Docastaway tourist company in Hong Kong, which provides tours to uninhabited parts of Asia.
Cerezo managed to talk the son, Ho Van Lang, into going back to the jungle with his crew to show how they managed to survive for so long in total isolation.
The man said he and his father didn’t lead a Tarzan life per se. They grew corn and cassava, and kept their fire lit, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
In fact, the diet of two Mowglis was extremely varied, as they consumed practically anything that could be found in the forest. The majority of plants and fruits growing there are edible.
They ate fruit, vegetables, harvested honey and cooked a wide variety of meats, including bats, birds, frogs, lizards, monkeys, rats, snakes and fish.
“While I was with him in the jungle I saw him eat bats as though they were olives,” International Business Times cited Cerezo as saying. Practically no creature in the jungle could pose any threat to them.
They also used a number of hand-made tools, collecting items they needed to produce them across the jungle, which included fragments of American bombs.
“They never ate with their hands, but had improvised chopsticks made of bamboo,” Cerezo said.
It turned out they never had any major issues with health, narrowing their concerns to flu once a year and occasional stomach ache.
However, when they got back to civilization, they drank their cup in full, being not immune to the many maladies that spread among people who live crowded together.
Alvaro Cerezo discovered Ho Van Lang is still not interested in any news from the outside world or his own country. He doesn’t use electricity and cultivates a piece of land he was given. He plans to get married, although previously he had never seen a woman.
You can’t stop a ship dead in its tracks, but sometimes you can change its course.
And that’s what happened recently in the Aegean Sea in a new twist in the evolving refugee crisis my colleagues from Amnesty International and I were researching on the Greek islands of Lesvos and Chios.
On 5 April, we were on board a night-time ferry from Mytilene, Lesvos, to Chios, when we were informed that our destination had changed because of “the refugee situation”. Hundreds of refugees and migrants were camping out in the open on the main dock in Chios harbour.
Because our ferry – a towering mass of metal the length of two football pitches – posed a serious threat to them, we were diverted mid-voyage and docked at another port an hour’s drive away.
At the time, the island of Chios was hosting more than 1,600 refugees and migrants, with Lesvos hosting around twice that number. Some 1,200 were being held in prison-like conditions in VIAL, a closed detention centre built around an abandoned aluminium factory 5.5km inland on Chios. Several hundred more people were sleeping rough in the port after fleeing overnight clashes in the camp several days earlier.
complete article at HuffingtonPost please read as it is important we do not loose our humanity, after all we all love our children,would run to save their lives.They are us,no different,they cry,they care,they must be protected.
The reality behind what the US military called a tragic accident.This is an article from one of the DR’s that worked in the hospital in Kunduz in Afghanistan.I could not hold my tears reading it and feel it should be shared as much as possible because people need to see,feel and understand the true price of war
An interior view of the MSF Trauma Center, October 14, 2015, shows a missile hole in the wall and the burnt-out remains of the the building after a sustained attack on the hospital in Kunduz, northern Afghanistan. Photo: Victor J. Blue.
Dr. Kathleen Thomas is an intensive care doctor from Australia who worked in the Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Trauma Center in Kunduz, Afghanistan, from May 2015 until it was destroyed by US airstrikes on October 3. Here she describes a typical day in the hospital and the events that unfolded during the week of intense fighting leading up to the attack.The names of patients and some staff have been changed to protect their privacy.
As soon as the simple distractions of daily Australian life momentarily pause, my mind immediately wanders back to Kunduz, Afghanistan. I am engulfed in a gaping dark pit, which holds me captivated while I try to excavate its contents. It’s not the horrific scenes from that early morning of the attack that I can make out; it’s not the deafening sound of the relentless airstrikes; it’s not the sights of partially amputated limbs, or the permeating smell of blood. It is a feeling of incomprehensible loss and grief that extends down into that bottomless pit.
What Was Lost — A Typical Day in the Kunduz Trauma Center
7:35 a.m. Outside our MSF house: a dozen international staff from all over the world pile into our two MSF land cruisers — one for the men, one for the women. Katrina jumps into the van, late as usual, urgently adjusting her head scarf just in time as the car pulls out of the gates heading to the hospital. I look across at Sally, the general surgeon who has dark circles under her eyes and ask, “You get some sleep?”
She shrugs. “I helped Dr. Hakeem with laparotomy at 2 a.m.” We smile at each other knowingly. It’s hard work… but this is what we are here to do, so no complaints.
We peer through the car windows covered in anti-blast film, for our only glimpse at the hustle and bustle of Kunduz city. I see Mujeeb, the administration officer walking, and Najib, the data entry officer riding his bike, both heading to the hospital to start their day’s work.
We wave politely to several of our hospital guards who greet our vehicles. I note the line-up of people waiting to be checked by security to ensure they are abiding by our “No Weapons” policy before entering the hospital — many men, some with crutches, one pushing a wheelchair which holds a boy with both legs amputated, and several women covered in blue burkas, all holding young children.
As we walk from the Land Cruiser to the morning meeting room, we pass a gardener tending to the beautiful roses that fill the hospital compound. As I slip off my shoes outside the morning meeting room, I am met by the sound of about 30 people chatting away — the heads of every department in the hospital. I enter the room and we all sit together on the floor as the meeting begins. I remember how much it surprised me when I first arrived that we would sit together on the floor for a meeting — now it is just normal.
For a moment, the electricity cuts out and the room goes pitch black. My attention is drawn to the heavy metal windows as one of the staff opens them, flooding the room with light. Ah yes, I think to myself — this is the “safe room” that we are supposed to retreat to in an emergency.
I can’t even imagine what sort of emergency would lead me to ever use this room for its real purpose. How was I to know that on October 3, it would be where we sheltered from the aerial attack on our hospital — and later our makeshift emergency department and operating theater for injured staff, many of whom were present in the meeting that very morning?
Everyone heads off to their respective departments to start the day. The smell of chicken greets my nose as I pass the kitchen, where lunch production is already underway. I stop at the laundry to pick up my freshly cleaned uniform, then over to the women’s dressing room, greeting Suraya, one of our translators, and Sorab, a mental health worker, on the way.
I head to the Emergency Room (ER) where the ER doctors and nurses are working through the line-up of over 100 patients that will come through our doors that day, all victims of accidental and violent trauma. I pop my head into the resuscitation room. Mohibulla and Lal Mohammed, two skilled, efficient ER nurses, are assisting Dr. Amin to insert a drain into the chest of a young man who has been shot. The monitor above his head beeps reassuringly and two bags of blood hang next to the bedside.
I quickly look at the patient and his radiology. “All under control Dr. Amin?” I ask, knowing the answer.
“Of course,” he replies without looking up.
After four years in existence, the hospital has trained many skilled medical staff — Dr. Amin, Mohibulla, and Lal Mohammed being three of them. Dr. Amin regularly impressed me. Nothing seemed to faze him. He was competent and confident and worked at an extremely fast pace.
I leave the ER and am greeted by the smiling faces of two of our cleaners, Najibulla and Nasir, who are wiping the floors diligently in the hallway. Neither speaks much English, and I speak little Dari so we have limited verbal communication, but I greet them with my hand over my heart as a sign of respect. I note their positive work ethic and good attitude.
I enter the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) just behind a caretaker (a family member of a patient who stays with the patient 24/7, providing some of the basic nursing duties). I notice he is walking with a limp and uses crutches. As I follow him in I realize that he is a bilateral amputee and has two prosthetic legs. I wonder when and how his injury had occurred. Caught in cross fire? A stray missile? A random roadside explosion?
As he heads over to bed four, I see he is the father of a young boy who had stepped on a landmine, also losing his legs. I feel a sense of hopelessness at this demonstration of transgenerational violence and suffering, resulting from over 30 years of war.
I gather the ICU doctors to commence our ward round. Out of the corner of my eye I note Naseer and Zia, two hardworking, bright young nurses, helping a patient from his wheelchair back into bed. He is a large man who had become extremely weak after a prolonged stay in ICU following a bomb blast. Zia had taken him outside to get some much-needed fresh air.
Before I can stop him, Naseer cradles the large man in his arms, then with one big heave, lifts him up from the wheelchair onto the bed. Rushing over to make sure Naseer hasn’t hurt himself, I tell him to please get help next time. He just smiles his big childish grin, laughs, and waves me away. Strongman Naseer, I call him from that moment on.
By 10 a.m. the hospital is its usual flurry of activity. I leave the ICU to review a patient on the ward. I pass a lab technician bent over a microscope in pathology, walk through the ER, and past the Operating Theaters (OT). A patient from the wards is being pushed through the OT doors by a stretcher-bearer and greeted by Abdul Salam, a gentle, skilled OT nurse. The patient is about to undergo specialized trauma surgery that will be performed by a team of expert international and national surgeons. This is the only facility to offer this type of surgery in all of northern Afghanistan.
Beyond the OT, I pass the X-ray and outpatient departments, both of which are overflowing. Nurses are busy removing casts and applying new ones, dressing wounds, fitting crutches. I recognize a patient, nine-year-old Esmatulla, who walks in front of me being assessed by a physiotherapist. His limp looks better than the last time I saw him. Esmatulla had spent many days in intensive care after a serious car accident left him with a shattered pelvis, damaged lung, and completely sheared off the soft tissue on his back. His uncommon back injury required numerous operations, and we had called on guidance from experts from across the world to help with his case. It was a long hard road for Esmatulla, but he looks great and is almost back to his normal childhood life.
I move on past the mental health, physiotherapy, and medical records departments prior to exiting the main building, and finally arrive in ward four, a small building lined with about 20 hospital beds. I see a physiotherapist instructing a middle-aged man on exercises for his newly amputated leg. I find the bed of my recently discharged ICU patient, Roshan, who I am here to review, but the bed is empty.
The nurse explains that Roshan is out walking and goes in search of the patient. This is music to my ears — Roshan is walking! Roshan had spent much time in ICU after he was stabbed in the heart. Remarkably, the surgeons were able to repair the 2 centimeter tear in his left ventricle, but there was very little hope for his recovery. Yet here he is, slowly but surely walking back into the ward. I make some minor adjustments to his medications and advise Roshan that he will be going home tomorrow. He plays a tune on his hand flute to express his excitement.
For the rest of the day, the hospital melodiously hums as all the staff work together, each in their different roles, looking after the patients staying in and visiting the hospital that day.
When we return home at the end of a long day, I remove my headscarf and walk out to the balcony with a few of the other international staff to enjoy the remaining daylight. The sky is filled with multi-colored kites darting around, controlled by young children on top of the neighboring rooftops. As the sun goes down, the mountains surrounding Kunduz are lit up by pink haze.
The Imam in a distant mosque starts his call to prayer, closely followed by the more local Imams joining in, until there is a symphony of sound filling the sky. It’s a lovely moment in my day.
The Final Week in the Hospital, Six Days before the Airstrike
It was about two in the morning when I was woken from sleep by the sounds of intense fighting. Having been in Kunduz for five months of the “fighting season” I had grown accustomed to the sounds of war… but this was different. It was close, heavy, and coming from all directions. So, as had also become a habit when fighting became audible, I waited for the phone call from the ER announcing the onslaught of patients and the request for help.
It took many hours for that phone call to arrive — the fighting was too heavy for anyone injured to actually get to the hospital… but then, as the sun rose on Monday, September 28, the fighting slowed momentarily, the phone call came, and began what would be the longest week of my life.
The first day was chaos — over 130 patients poured through our doors in only a few hours. Despite the heroic efforts of all the staff, we were completely overwhelmed. Most patients were civilians, but some were wounded combatants from both sides of the conflict.
When I reflect on that day now, what I remember is the smell of blood that permeated through the emergency room, the touch of desperate people pulling at my clothes to get my attention begging me to help their injured loved ones, the wailing, despair, and anguish of parents of yet another child lethally injured by a stray bullet whom we could not save, my own sense of panic as another and another and another patient was carried in and laid on the floor of the already packed emergency department, and all the while in the background the tut-tut-tut-tut of machine guns and the occasional large boom from explosions that sounded way too close for comfort.
Finally, at about 10 p.m. that night, the hospital slowed enough for me to sit down with some of the senior staff to consider the implications of what was shaping up to be quite a bit more than the usual “fighting season” conflict. We realized that it was not safe to move in or out of the hospital. This meant that no new staff could relieve the exhausted doctors, nurses, cleaners, stretcher-bearers, lab technicians, guards, etc., many of whom had already worked for over 24 hours straight. So we began what would become the twice-daily ritual of organizing a roster of sleeping shifts, reluctantly accepting that this was likely to be a marathon, not just a quick sprint.
The hospital swelled far beyond our capacity that week. On the wards, all the beds were pushed close together to place additional mattresses on the floor. The OT ran all day and night to accommodate the ever-expanding list of injured patients. The demand for intensive care treatment was constant. We did our best with our limited resources, but helplessly watched numerous patients die who, in normal circumstances, would have survived. Some needed certain rare blood types but no one could get to the hospital to donate that particular blood group; some needed life support from a ventilator, but we had only four machines — not enough to go around; some had been stuck in their homes unable to come to hospital for several days, and by the time they arrived their wounds and bodies were overrun by infection which couldn’t be saved with surgery or our strongest antibiotics.
Dr. Osmani, a bright young open-minded doctor full of infectious energy, was my right hand man in ICU that week. He took great interest in his country and the rest of the world. A few weeks earlier he had mentioned the new Australian Prime Minister to me, before I had even heard the news of the changeover. He was treasured by all ICU staff, past and present, because of his skill, work ethic, dedication, and compassion. He had actually resigned from the hospital several months earlier to start Ophthalmology training in Kabul, but had generously agreed to return to Kunduz every weekend to work in ICU, helping us to train the new doctors who were hired to replace him. He had told me, “MSF has given me so many opportunities and I have learnt so much, now I wish to give back to them.”
Dr. Osmani was the senior doctor in the unit the night the fighting started and decided to stay with us, camping out in the hospital throughout the week. He had nothing with him except the clothes on his back, not even a toothbrush. His family was extremely worried for his welfare. He had a constant flow of phone calls checking on him, probably asking him to leave.
When I expressed my concern about his lack of sleep and begged him to take rest, he just smiled his big broad smile and said to me, “Don’t worry Dr. Kass, I am fine. When I am here, I am happy. We are like a family.” Then laughing, he added, “And besides, I now have this,” he pulled out an old, tattered short wooden stick whose end had been frayed. It appeared to have teeth marks all over the frayed end. I picked it up, looked at it inquisitively and asked what it was. This made him laugh even harder. “It’s an Afghani toothbrush. One of the patients gave it to me when he heard me mention I didn’t have a toothbrush. Clearly, I couldn’t refuse.” We both laughed hysterically. It was precious moments like these that kept me going throughout the week and my heart now breaks when I realize just how precious they really were. These were perhaps the final moments of humor in Dr. Osmani’s life.
We all knew that at times, our hospital was in the middle of the rapidly changing frontline — we could feel it. When the fighting was close — the shooting and explosions vibrated the walls. I was scared — we were all scared. When a loud BOOM would sound a bit closer to the hospital we would all drop to the floor away from the large windows that lined the ICU walls, looking around at each other with anxious expressions, half crying, half nervously laughing, finding a small amount of shared humor in the precarious situation that we had found ourselves in.
We also tried to move the patients and large (flammable!) oxygen bottles away all from the windows, but the layout of the ICU prohibited doing this effectively. I worried constantly about the exposure from those windows — yet never thought to worry about the exposure from the roof — where the attack would come from several days later.
Halfway through the week, a life-threatening injury to one of our ER nurses, Lal Mohammed, who had been struck by a stray bullet after leaving the hospital, brought about an emergency staff meeting. “But he is one of us — he can’t be injured,” is the deluded thought process I experienced while we worked on him in the ER. After he was settled in ICU, over 80 of us gathered together for the meeting. I noted a few fresh faces amongst the crowd that night.
By this point in the week, many of the staff who had been with us for the first few days, had found some periods of decreased fighting to escape to their homes and take their families to safer places. In exchange came other staff who had been unable to reach the hospital until that point. Some had been trapped in their houses as fighting crisscrossed through their streets. Many staff were coming from other provinces, risking the dangerous roads to enter Kunduz. But in spite of all of this, they had turned up to work.
In particular I noted Dr. Satar, our deputy medical director, and Tahseel, our pharmacy supervisor, both who had made the treacherous journey from Kabul that day to help us run the hospital. Seeing everyone standing together was a powerful reminder of just how many of us there were, all doing our individual jobs, working together to make the hospital run. I felt a welling of pride and honor to be standing beside these brave men and women — my colleagues, my friends — during such a challenging time in both their lives, and our trauma center’s history.
The persistent fighting took its toll on all of us. By the end of the week we were physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. There were moments when a sense of hopelessness overwhelmed us. Dr. Osmani expressed these sentiments on the final day, following a tragic incident where a family trying to escape Kunduz was caught in crossfire, killing several children at the scene and two more who died in our ER and OT. The remaining children were being treated with severe injuries, he stated: “the people are being reduced to blood and dust. They are in pieces, oh God, is there anybody who can hear their cries?”
I will never forget that a few hours later, I was passing through the ER when Dr. Sohrab, the ER supervisor, called me over. He was holding a six-month-old baby. After five months working side-by-side, it was the first time I had ever seen him look distressed. He told me that he had just declared the baby’s mother dead. When a bomb exploded in the road she had thrown herself over the baby, taking her life but saving his.
As we walked towards the female ward to leave this beautiful baby in the female nurses’ care, he confessed to me, “It’s too much Kass, it’s just too much. This was the first time I couldn’t hold back my tears.”
We walked the rest of the way to the ward in silence as tears fell down both our cheeks. I felt hollow. I desperately wanted to hug him and tell him that everything would be ok, but firstly, it would not have been culturally appropriate, and secondly I knew that my words would have been lies. No one could predict the future.
When we returned to the ER Dr. Sohrab told me about the staffing situation. We were down to only four doctors. Many of the others had fled Kunduz by that point. My concern must have shown on my face because he then looked at me and said, “But I am here, and I will stay. I will not leave the hospital or my people.”
What a remarkable, brave, young doctor. He also informed me that Dr. Amin had returned after getting his family to safety earlier that day. I felt relieved knowing that two of our most skilled doctors, Dr. Sohrab and Dr. Amin, were two of the four remaining.
Day five, the final day, was also one of unexpected optimism in ICU. Most of our patients were recovering from their serious injuries and were on track for imminent departure from ICU.
Our long-term patient in bed one, a man who had been severely injured in a car accident over a month earlier, was making great progress. After a series of life-threatening complications, he was finally strong enough to start the several-day process of weaning him off the ventilator. That morning after I told him that he was ready to start breathing on his own, he looked at me with such excitement and offered his hand to shake (a custom uncommon for Afghan men to a woman) — he was showing me his respect and appreciation. I had no doubt that he would get off the ventilator completely in a few days and he would go home soon after.
Lal Mohammad, our injured ER nurse in bed two, had done remarkably well over his two day admission. I was extremely relieved to find him showing reassuring signs of a good recovery and made the plan to wake him from his induced coma the following morning.
Shaista, a three-year-old girl, was in bed seven. She had her left leg and buttock blown apart by an explosion. She had lost almost her entire blood volume from the injury and had undergone a series of operations and blood transfusions to save her life. She was recovering remarkably well. I was extremely happy with her progress and planned to send her to the ward the following morning. Her mother, a beautiful young woman with a welcoming smile, never left her side and was visibly relieved when I told her that her daughter would go to the ward tomorrow.
Wahidullah, in bed eight, was my miracle boy. He was a 12-year-old, the “top of his class,” his father had proudly told me, who had suffered a traumatic brain injury about two weeks earlier from a car accident. Despite our best efforts, he had remained in a comatose state, with no signs of recovery. He had been moved to the ward prematurely due to the demand for ICU beds and the need to rationalize our limited resources to those who had the best chance of survival. Unfortunately, we didn’t think he was one of those who would survive.
That morning, Dr. Osmani and I were called to the ward for a cardiac arrest. My heart sank when I saw that it was this child. Resuscitation had already been commenced so we debated the futility of the situation. His father begged us to continue. To our surprise, he was quickly revived and somewhat reluctantly we agreed to take him back to ICU for a limited, short period of treatment.
That afternoon, the miracle happened. His father got his mother on the phone, put it to Wahidullah’s ear and his mother spoke to him for some time. Immediately after that conversation, he woke up. He literally opened his eyes, starting mouthing words, followed commands appropriately, and shook my hand. Everyone from the ICU gathered round to watch this child, for whom we had pretty much given up hope for any meaningful recovery. It was a miracle. Flabbergasted, I told his father that we would remove his airway the following morning and he would then go to the ward. We smiled together, stunned but so happy. Tomorrow would be a good day.
But tomorrow never came for most of those patients. Nor did it come for most of the ICU staff working that night. When the US military’s aircraft attacked our hospital, its first strike was on the ICU.
With the exception of Shaista, all the patients in the unit died. The caretakers with the patients died. Dr. Osmani died. The ICU nurses Zia and Strongman Naseer died. The ICU cleaner Nasir died. I hope with all my heart that the three sedated patients in ICU, including our ER nurse Lal Mohammad, were deep enough to be unaware of their deaths — but this is unlikely. They were trapped in their beds, engulfed in flames.
The same horror that rocked the ICU rocked the rest of the main building as the plane hit with alarming precision. Our ER nurse Mohibulla died. Our ER cleaner Najibulla died. Dr. Amin suffered major injuries but managed to escape the main building, only to then die an hour later in the arms of his colleagues as we desperately tried to save his life in the makeshift operating theater set up in the kitchen next to the morning meeting room.
The OT nurse, Abdul Salam, died. The strikes continued further down the building, tearing through the outpatients department, which had become a temporary sleeping area for staff. Dr. Satar died. The medical records officer Abdul Maqsood died. Our pharmacist Tahseel was lethally injured. He also made it to safety in the morning meeting room, only to die soon after, having bled to death. Two of the hospital watchmen Zabib and Shafiq also died.
Our colleagues didn’t die peacefully like in the movies. They died painfully, slowly, some of them screaming out for help that never came, alone and terrified, knowing the extent of their own injuries and aware of their impending death. Countless other staff and patients were injured; limbs blown off, shrapnel rocketed through their bodies, burns, pressure wave injuries of the lungs, eyes, and ears. Many of these injures have left permanent disability. It was a scene of nightmarish horror that will be forever etched in my mind.
Back home in Australia, I sip a cappuccino in a café overlooking the ocean. I hear a plane above but don’t bother to look up — there is no need — I know it is just a standard commercial plane and I am safe. How easy it is to adjust to the luxury of peace.
I stare at the expansive ocean trying to understand my sense of heavy, pervasive loss. My eyes tear up as the raw grief I feel for my friends and colleagues tugs at my heart. And the patients! Oh the patients. So many bright young lives ripped viciously from this world.
But it’s so much more than that; it’s the grief of the families of those lost on October 3; it’s the grief of all the Kunduz people who have suffered so many losses over their long history of conflict; it’s the loss of the four years of hard work by both the national and international staff to make the hospital what it was.
I can’t help but think that every day the hospital is a burnt out shell is a day that could have seen dozens of lives saved and hundreds of patients treated. What will they all do — the survivors and future injured patients of Kunduz? What on earth will they do?
Who will save the lives of all the people needing complex trauma care? Who will put their crumpled bodies back together? This is incomprehensible. I can only force my mind to move on before I fall too far into that bottomless dark pit of loss.
On October 3, 2015, MSF’s trauma hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, was destroyed by precise and repeated U.S. airstrikes. The attack killed 42 people, including 14 MSF staff members, 24 patients and four caretakers, and wounded dozens more. The facility was a fully functioning hospital at the time of the attack.
The attack has had devastating consequences for the victims, their families, MSF teams and the entire community of Kunduz. Six months later, the hospital remains closed until further notice, leaving thousands of people without vital medical services.
That Time Soviet School Children Bugged the US Ambassador’s Office By MessyNessy
who by the way has the coolest blog 🙂
Did you hear the one about the Soviet school children who presented a US Ambassador with a wooden plaque of the Seal of the United States as a gesture of friendship in 1945? It hung in his Moscow office for 7 years before discovering it contained a listening device. True story.
Man, that’s cold! Get it? Anyway, after discovering the bug, they called it “The Thing”, because it was the kind of technology which was borderline sci-fi for its time. One of the first covert listening devices to use remote technology to transmit an audio signal, the device didn’t have a battery and was both activated and powered from a remote source outside the embassy. Allegedly holes were drilled under the beak of the eagle to allow sound waves to reach the membrane.
It was discovered accidentally by a radio operator at the British embassy who began overhearing American conversations on an open radio channel as the Russians were beaming radio waves at the embassy of their World War II ally.
State Department employees were sent to Moscow in 1951 to investigate and conducted sweeps of the American, as well as the British and Canadian embassies, also suspected of being bugged. During this sweep, they found the Great Seal Bug, a.k.a The Thing.
The Great Seal bug before its detection, visible to the left on the office wall beyond the Ambassador’s desk.
The CIA then hired a British scientist to run an investigation on the bug, which had an extremely thin membrane, and had actually been damaged during handling by the Americans, who were bewildered by the device. The British scientist’s examination of “The Thing” would later lead to the development of a similar British listening system used throughout the 1950s by the British, Americans, Canadians and Australians.
In 1960, at the United Nations Security Council, the Soviet Union confronted the United States about a spy plane which had entered Russian territory and been shot down (you might remember it being heavily referenced in the recent Tom Hanks filmBridge of Spies). In response to the accusation, the U.S. ambassador essentially proceeded to give a show & tell of the bugging device they had found in the Great Seal gifted to them by the Young Pioneer organization of the Soviet Union. The ambassador successfully pointed out, that it takes two to tango.
You can see the ambassador giving a live demonstration of the listening device in the seal in this archive news reel below…
t’s quite the story, right? And yet it’s only half of an even more intriguing tale– that of the inventor behind the bug which managed to go undetected for seven years in the US embassy. But hang on a minute. Shouldn’t the US Ambassador’s office have been regularly swept for bugs even back in 1945?
The Thing was very difficult to detect. Like I mentioned, the technology was borderline sci-fi for its time; extremely small with no power supply, unlimited operational life and no radiated signals. It was made by a somewhat tragic Russian genius, Léon Theremin, who as a high schooler had built a million-volt Tesla coil and by the 1920s was working on wireless television, demonstrating moving images by 1927.
He was most famous for a pretty cool invention, the self-titled theremin, one of the first electronic musical instruments. The first to be mass-produced, it’s a very strange but beautiful instrument which involves using a magnetic field to control the pitch in one hand and the volume with the other.
You can see him in action with his theremin below, which even today, seems like something in between sci-fi and hocus pocus.