Category Archives: Middle East

Future Pop Stars Risk Their Lives To Sing for Freedom

Written by: Bluedog89

Award-winning film "Afghan Star - The Documentary." Promotional poster by Zeitgeist Films.

The award-winning “Afghan Star – The Documentary,” showcases the “American Idol”-like pop competition “Afghan Star” that is sweeping Afghanistan.

Since the TV show’s inception in 2005, its popularity has spread like wildfire, with “Afghan Star” contestants chosen despite gender and voted on democratically by the general public via cell phone.

The documentary follows several contest participants as they literally sing for their lives, particularly the women, who are judged harshly by the still-mostly conservative public that was once dominated by the Taliban.

The film is available on DVD and will be featured on HBO this month.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Documentary, HBO, Middle East, Movies, Music, Pop, Pop Culture, Religion, Sexism, Television, TV Shows, Women's Issues, World

Vice-President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden Visit the Middle East

Posted by: Audiegrl

Jordan King Tells Biden Israeli Settlements Threaten Peace

Vice President Joe Biden (3rd L), meets with Jordan's King Abdullah II (3rd R) at the Royal Palace on March 11, 2010 in Amman, Jordan. Biden's currently on tour of the middle east which has so far seen him meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Shimon Peres. (Photo by Salah Malkawi/Getty Images Europe)

AFP~ Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Thursday told visiting US Vice President Joe Biden that Israel’s new settlements plans threaten peace efforts and could lead to more regional violence.

The king renewed Jordan’s condemnation of Israel’s decision to build new settlements in east Jerusalem,” a palace statement quoted the king as telling Biden at a meeting.

He said “such unilateral actions, which are internationally rejected, threaten the peace process and put the entire region at risk of getting into a new cycle of conflict,” according to the statement.

Achieving peace in the Middle East requires a leading US role. The entire world is paying the price for the troubled peace process,” said the king, whose country, a key US ally, signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.

Israel said on Tuesday it would build 1,600 new homes for Jewish settlers in mainly Arab east Jerusalem, and the announcement coincided with a visit by Biden to the disputed holy city.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly apologized to the vice president on Thursday in a bid to defuse the row over settlements, which prompted a Palestinian boycott of indirect peace talks.

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Filed under Dr. Jill Biden, Israel, Middle East, Peace Talks, Uncategorized, Vice-President Joe Biden

Academy Award® Nominated: The Messenger

Ensemble post by: Audiegrl, Geot, and BuellBoy


In his most powerful performance to date, Ben Foster stars as Will Montgomery, a U.S. Army officer who has just returned home from a tour in Iraq and is assigned to the Army’s Casualty Notification service. Partnered with fellow officer Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson) to bear the bad news to the loved ones of fallen soldiers, Will faces the challenge of completing his mission while seeking to find comfort and healing back on the home front. When he finds himself drawn to Olivia (Samantha Morton), to whom he has just delivered the news of her husband’s death, Will’s emotional detachment begins to dissolve and the film reveals itself as a surprising, humorous, moving and very human portrait of grief, friendship and survival.

Featuring tour-de-force performances from Foster, Harrelson and Morton, and a brilliant directorial debut by Oren Moverman, The Messenger brings us into the inner lives of these outwardly steely heroes to reveal their fragility with compassion and dignity.

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The cast includes: Ben Foster, Jena Malone, Eamonn Walker, Woody Harrelson, Yaya DaCosta, Portia, Lisa Joyce, Steve Buscemi, Peter Francis James, Samantha Morton, and Paul Diomede

Reviews

IMDB member
“The Messenger has incredible acting by Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson, and Samantha Morton.

The film has a curious flow to it. It begins predictable, yet remains engaging, exposing a heart-breaking consequence of war no family wants to face. Although the news remains the same, emotions run just as deep at each door. Every scene is handled marvelously through subtle performances by the actors. As the film unfolds, the viewer sinks into the complex characters on screen, discomforted by the internal struggles that slowly surface.

The Messenger is a non-linear, character-driven film with exceptional performances but might not be for everyone.”

Did You Know?

Sgt. Brian Scott, who was training to deploy to Iraq at Ft. Dix in New Jersey and was a technical adviser in this film, was subsequently injured in an IED attack in Baghdad.

Two Nominations

Best Supporting Actor~Woody Harrelson
Best Original Screenplay

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Filed under 82nd Academy Awards, Afghanistan, Army, Best Orig Screenplay, Best Sup Actor, Culture, Entertainment, Hollywood, Iraq, Marines, Middle East, Military, Movies, Navy, Politics, Pop Culture, Reserve, Uncategorized, United States, US, Veterans, Video/YouTube, War, Women's Issues, World

Nominated for Best Supporting Actor ~ Woody Harrelson ~The Messenger

Ensemble post by: Audiegrl, Geot, Bluedog89, and BuellBoy

Woody HarrelsonWoody Harrelson’s rare mix of intensity and charisma consistently surprises and delights audiences and critics alike for his work in both mainstream and independent projects. Most recently, Harrelson could be seen in Stuart Townsand’s BATTLE IN SEATTLE with Charlize Theron, Andre Benjamin and Ray Liotta, Brad Anderson’s TRANSSIBERIAN starring opposite Emily Mortimer and Ben Kingsley and Gabriele Muccino’s SEVEN POUNDS starring Will Smith and Rosario Dawson. Upcoming films include THE MESSENGER with Ben Foster for director Oren Moverman and BUNRAKU, directed by Guy Moshe and co-starring Josh Hartnett and Demi Moore. Harrelson recently completed filming on DEFENDOR for director Peter Stebbings, costarring Kat Dennings.

Harrleson’s critically-acclaimed portrayal of controversial magazine publisher Larry Flynt in Milos Forman’s THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT garnered him Academy Award, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Nominations as Best Actor. Other highlights from Harrleson’s film career include NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, SEMI PRO, AFTER THE SUNSET, PLAY IT TO THE BONE, THE THIN RED LINE, THE HI-LO COUNTY, ED TV, WAG THE DOG, WELCOME TO SARAJEVO, KINGPIN, NATURAL BORN KILLERS, INDECENT PROPOSAL, WHITE MEN CAN’T JUMP, THE BIG WHITE, A SCANNER DARKLY, NORTH COUNTRY, THE PRIZE WINNER OF DEFINANCE, OHIO, A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION and Zak Penn’s ensemble comedy THE GRAND.

Harrelson first endeared himself to millions of viewers as a member of the ensemble cast of NBC’s long-running hit comedy, CHEERS. For his work as the affable bartender Woody Boyd, he won an Emmy in 1988 and was nominated four additional times during his eight-year run on the show. In 1999, he gained another Emmy nomination when he reprised the role in a guest appearance on the spin-off series FRASIER. He later made a return to television with a recurring guest role on the hit NBC series, WILL AND GRACE.

Woody Harrelson in The Messenger

Woody Harrelson in The Messenger

Balancing his film and television work, in 1999 Harrelson directed his own play, FURTHEST FROM THE SUN at the Theatre de la Juene Lune in Minneapolis. He followed next with the Roundabout’s Broadway revival of THE RAINMAKER; Sam Shepherd’s THE LATE HENRY MOSS, and John Kolvenbach’s ON AN AVERAGE DAY opposite Kyle MacLachlan at London’s West End. Harrelson directed the Toronto premiere of Kenneth Lonergan’s THIS IS OUR YOUTH at the Berkeley Street Theatre. In the winter of 2005 Harrelson returned to London’s West End, starring in Tennessee Williams’ NIGHT OF THE IGUANA at the Lyric Theatre.

A committed environmentalist, Harrelson joined his activism with his film efforts in Ron Mann’s GO FURTHER, a road documentary following Woody and friends on their bicycle journey down the Pacific Coast Highway from Seattle to Santa Barbara.

Along with being a father to his three beautiful daughters, closest to his heart is http://www.voiceyourself.com, a website Harrelson co-created with his wife Laura Louie which promotes and inspires individual action to create global momentum towards simple organic living and to restore balance and harmony to our planet.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Army, Best Actor, Best Orig Screenplay, Culture, Entertainment, Hollywood, Iraq, Marines, Middle East, Military, Movies, Navy, Politics, Pop Culture, Reserve, Uncategorized, United States, US, Veterans, Video/YouTube, War, Women in the Military, Women's Issues, World

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal Activist Lt. Dan Choi Recalled To Active Duty

Posted by: Audiegrl

Lt Dan Choi

Lt Dan Choi

In a sign that momentum behind a repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy is having an impact, openly gay U.S. Army National Guard Lieutenant Dan Choi has been recalled to active duty.

Choi, a West Point graduate and trained Arabic linguist, was dismissed from duty in the spring of 2009, because of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” Since then, he’s been a leading voice for the cessation of the policy.

The Advocate has more……

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Filed under Army, Barack Obama, Change, DADT, Gay (LGBT) Rights, History, Law, Marines, Media and Entertainment, Middle East, Military, Navy, News, Obama Administration, Politics, Pres. Barack Obama, Presidents, Veterans, War, Women in the Military

Obama Outsmarts the Terrorists

Posted by: BetsM

President Obama isn’t nearly as scared of the terrorists as Bush was—and that’s precisely why al Qaeda is falling apart

Peter Beinart

Peter Beinart

The Daily Beast/Peter Beinart~Republicans think about terrorism the way Democrats think about poverty. Democrats know their anti-poverty policies don’t always work. But they tell themselves that at least their hearts are in the right place, at least they care about the problem.

That’s the way Republicans think about terrorism. In unguarded moments, honest Republicans will admit that not all of the Bush administration’s anti-terror policies worked. But they tell themselves that at least they know America is at war; at least they know the terrorists are evil; at least they really care about the problem.

In a sense, the Republicans are right: they do worry more about terrorism than Democrats. You can see it in the polls. Democrats–especially liberal Democrats—focus part of their foreign policy anxiety on things like climate change, global pandemics and financial collapse. For many Republicans, by contrast, the terrorists are today’s equivalent of the Nazis and the communists: they’re the only threat that really matters. Everything else is an afterthought.

But as conservatives used to say during the poverty debates of the 1960s and 1970s, intentions and outcomes are not the same thing. Sometimes, ironically enough, not worrying quite so much can produce better results.

Which brings us to Barack Obama’s “war on terror.” Conservatives keep saying that Obama doesn’t really believe we’re at war; that he sees terrorists as mere criminals, not the epic evil-doers that they really are. But here’s the irony: It’s precisely because he doesn’t see the terrorist threat as quite so epic that al Qaeda is falling apart.

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Filed under 9/11, Al-Qaeda, Barack Obama, Change, Conservative, Democrats, George W. Bush, Homeland Security, Media and Entertainment, Middle East, Military, News, Obama Administration, Partisan Politics, Politics, Pres. Barack Obama, Presidents, Republicans, Robert M. Gates (Sec of Defense), Terrorism, Uncategorized, War

Shoshana Johnson Pens Her Story In “I’m Still Standing”

Posted by guest contributor: Shanti

Shoshana Johnson poses for a picture in New York, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010

Shoshana Johnson poses for a picture in New York, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010 (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

“In March of 2003, when Operation Iraqi Freedom was only days old, world headlines were made when a U.S. army convoy was attacked in the city of An-Nasiriyah en route to Baghdad. Several soldiers were killed and others were taken prisoner.

Jessica Lynch became the face and name associated with this tragedy, but another female soldier, Shoshana Johnson, was also wounded and captured in the ambush. A video of Shoshana being interrogated by her captors was soon broadcast on Spanish-language television and then picked up by American media. Shoshana had become the first black female prisoner of war in United States history. She was held for twenty-two days.

When Shoshana returned to the United States, she received numerous awards for her valor, including the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Prisoner of War medals. She appeared on news networks and national television shows such as Oprah, Ellen, The Tonight Show, and Larry King Live, but she was bound by a military gag order. She was unable to discuss what really happened in Iraq — until now.

Shoshana holds nothing back in this harrowing account of an ordinary woman caught in an extraordinary circumstance. She reveals decisions made by higher-ups that may have led to the capture, describes the pain of post-traumatic stress disorder, and shares the surprising story of how a specialist in a maintenance company ended up on the front lines of war.

Divulging personal emotions and frustrations while raising fresh political issues, I’m Still Standing is the never-before-told and much anticipated story of the headline-making ambush, capture, and rescue described with the exceptional bravery and candor of a single mom and soldier who became an American hero. Source

CNN’s Larry King Live ~ Transcript of Interview with Shoshana Johnson aired February 2, 2010

KING: We welcome Shoshana Johnson back to LARRY KING LIVE. She is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. She and other members of the 507th Maintenance Company were taken captive March 23, 2003. She was held prisoner 22 days. Author of a terrific new book I’m Still Standing; From Captive US Soldier to Free Citizen, My Journey Home.”

Before we get into this, what do you make of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell controversy?

SHOSHANA JOHNSON, FORMER POW: Silly. If men and women want to serve in our military, I really don’t care who they want to sleep with. It’s all about serving your country.

KING: So you would repeal it?

JOHNSON: Yes, definitely.

KING: It’s been seven years since you were a POW. Do you think about it a lot?

I'm Still Standing by Shoshana JohnsonJOHNSON: Still. Very much so. The conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq is still in the media, so it’s hard to forget.

KING: How were you caught?

JOHNSON: During an ambush, vehicles were disabled. Basically, it seemed like the whole city of Nazariyah came out and participated in the ambush. I was shot and — shot and caught, basically.

Read the entire transcript here
Read a sample chapter

Shoshana Johnson tells her side of the story to Matt Lauer of The Today Show

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Shoshana Johnson actually said she wanted to tell her story, because there were a lot of distortions and half truths about the details of her capture. She wanted to set the record straight. I appreciate Shoshana’s resolve and passion for not only surviving the trauma of being a POW, but her courage and drive to THRIVE.~Shanti

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Filed under African-Americans, Army, Books, CNN, Culture, Entertainment, History, Iraq, Larry King, Larry King Live!, Marines, Media and Entertainment, Middle East, Military, NBC, News, Politics, Television, Terrorism, The Today Show, TV Shows, Uncategorized, United States, Veterans, Video/YouTube, War, Women's Issues