Drone strike survivors from Pakistan speak to Congress; only five lawmakers bother to show up (video)

In the video above, Rafiq ur Rahman, a drone strike survivor from Pakistan, speaks at a congressional briefing in Washington, DC convened by Rep. Alan Grayson (FL-09). The primary school teacher spoke with his daughter Nabila (9) and son Zubair (13). One year ago, they were injured in the same drone strike that killed their 67-year-old grandmother, Rafiq's mother, as she was tending crops in her garden.

Kevin Gosztola of Firedog lake attended the briefing, and writes: "It is heart-wrenching to hear a 13-year-old boy say, 'Congressman Grayson, I no longer love blue skies. In fact, I now prefer gray skies. The drones do not fly when the skies are gray,' because this is one of the few times he is not afraid he will be targeted by a drone."

From Kevin's report:

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Red carpet: rug made from slaughterhouse images


Rashid Rana's "Red Carpet 1" is a 2007 piece that appears to be a beautiful, intricate woven rug, but which actually consists of thousands of graphic images from Pakistan's slaughterhouse.

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At least 34 people have died in earthquakes in Iran

A 6.3 earthquake and one with a magnitude of 7.8 hit Western Iran in the course of just a week. These are largely rural areas, with a lot of mud brick buildings that tend to collapse when the earth shakes. It's hard to say how many casualties there are, in total. Scientifically speaking, the earthquakes were also fairly interesting, writes Chris Rowan at Highly Allochthonous. They happened in different — in fact, totally opposite — ways, with the smaller one happening as plates crashed into one another and the larger caused by tectonic plates moving away from each other. This was along the same plate boundary. How's that work? Rowan has the details.

YouTube unbanned in Pakistan for 3 minutes

Salman Masood: "A ban on YouTube, which Pakistan imposed after an anti-Islam video caused riots in much of the Muslim world, was lifted Saturday, only to be reinstated — after three minutes — when it was discovered that blasphemous material was still available on the site."

CIA fake vaccine program will have wide-ranging effects on health of Pakistani children

Remember how the CIA used a phony vaccination campaign in order to collect DNA samples from Osama Bin Laden's family? (If this is news to you, there are lots of places to get the backstory. Suffice to say, it's morally grotesque. A doctor working with the CIA went around the region near the Bin Laden compound and gave inadequate doses of the vaccine, leaving behind kids whose parents thought they were protected from Hepatitis B, but who were, in fact, not.) This month, Taliban military leaders banned a U.S.-funded polio vaccination campaign from operating in the regions of Pakistan that they control. Polio is endemic in Pakistan. (Via Emily Willingham)

Osama Bin Laden's lady problems

An AP article out today details the intimate and internal conflicts in the Osama bin Laden household, prior to his assassination at the hands of US forces last year. Snip: "He spent his last weeks in a house divided, amid wives riven by suspicions." ISI officials describe his eldest wife, Saudi-born Khairiah Saber, whom they interrogated after the raid: "She is so aggressive that she borders on being intimidating."

Pakistani newspaper ad seeks bids for a Great Firewall of Pakistan


The ad, clipped from one of the national Pakistani newspapers today (it apparently ran in all of them), seeks bids for a national censoring firewall: "Each box should be able to handle a block list of up to 50 million URLs (concurrent unidirectional filtering capacity) with processing delay of not more than 1 milliseconds."

(Thanks, Shari!)