Thursday, August 23, 2007

Boy, 5, doused in gas, set on fire by masked men

By Arwa DamonCNN

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Five-year-old Youssif is scarred for life, his once beautiful smile turned into a grotesquely disfigured face -- the face of a horrifying act by masked men. They grabbed him on a January day outside his central Baghdad home, doused him with gas and set him ablaze.

It's an act incomprehensibly savage, even by Iraq's standards today. No one has been arrested and the motive remains unknown. In a war-ravaged city torn by sectarian violence and marked by acts of vengeance, this attack's apparent randomness stands out as an example of what life has become in a place where brutality -- even against young children -- is a constant.
"They dumped gasoline, burned me, and ran," Youssif told CNN, pointing down the street with his scarred hands where his attackers fled.
See photographs of Youssif before and after the attack »

As he sucked his thumb, he repeated, "I was burning." He tried to put the flames out himself. It looks as though this boy's face melted and then froze into rivers cutting through swollen hard flesh. It's hard to see the energetic outgoing child his parents describe beneath the sullen demeanor that defines Youssif today.

"He's become spiteful, I am not sure why," said his mother, Zainab. "He is jealous of everyone. If I say the slightest thing to him, he cries. He's sensitive." Watch the mother describe how she cries at night wracked with guilt »

Even things like eating have become a chore. His face contorts when he tries to shovel rice into his mouth, carefully angling the spoon and then using his fingers to push the little grains through lips he can no longer fully open. He has also become jealous of the baby sister he used to dote on. "I sit sometimes at night and cry," Zainab said, her voice heavy with guilt. "If only I hadn't let him go outside, if only I hadn't let him play."

It was on January 15 that masked men attacked her boy, their identities still unknown. Zainab said she was upstairs at the time.

"I heard screaming. I thought someone was fighting or something," she said.
She ran downstairs, saw her son and fainted. When she came to, she barely recognized her child. "His head was so swollen, you couldn't see his eyes, and his nose was pushed in."
"There was blood," she added, shuddering slightly. "The skin was melted off."

He spent two months in the hospital recovering from the severe burns. These days Youssif spends most of his time indoors, in front of the computer. It's only then that traces of the 5-year-old in him emerge. "He can't play outside with the other kids," Zainab said. "The other day they were playing, and he came in crying. I asked him, 'What's wrong?' and he said, 'They won't play with me because I am burned.'"

She said he once wanted to be a doctor and he loved kindergarten. "He used to be the one who would wake me up every morning, saying let's go to school," Zainab recalled.
She coaxed him to tell me the few words he knows in English. "Girl, boy, window, fan," he said, his voice barely audible, the words barely intelligible.
Doctors told the family there is little more they can do to help Youssif. The family can't afford care outside Iraq.

So Zainab has taken a massive risk by telling her story to the world. Her husband works as a security guard, and it's too dangerous for him to talk to the media.
"I'd prefer death than seeing my son like this," Zainab said.
All she wants is for someone to help her little boy smile again

This story just twisted my insides as I read it. What kind of monsters would do this to any person, let alone an innocent child. I cannot immagine the level of depravity that would compel a person to do such a thing.

Then, as I read on, I started to get even angrier.

I'll tell you why in a minute, but first ponder this question: consider how you'd feel if you were to find out that there was a man standing on the street corner watching this take place. Consider if he had a fire extinguisher in his hand, and he just stood there watching this boy's skin melt off of his face, watching as the boy threw his flaming body to the ground, grinding dirt into his melted flesh in a futile effort to extinguish the raging inferno that had become him. Imagine that the boy even cried (screamed) out to the man to help him.
Imagine that this man watched this whole incident, fire extinguisher in hand, and did nothing.

Take a moment to consider how you would feel about that man. Sure he may not have been the one to light the boy on fire, but he could have stopped it. Would you hold him accountable in some way? Would you curse him? Would you worship him?
There were many comments continually left on the website by people. I'll post a just a sampling of the many that got on my nerves:

Thank you, CNN, for making this possible. I am overjoyed at the response this story has had. May God bless this little boy, his family, and his country.

How many unfortunate victims of war are there who never get any help? Great leaders seek peace and harmony -- not war. When are our leaders going to realize this? This child deserves the best -- that is God's way. "Pace e Bene!"

The mom and dad are heroes too. They are risking their lives to get help for their beloved son. God bless!

How could human beings be capable of such violence?? And towards a small child no less. God bless Youssif and his family, and our troops who fight and see this dispicable violence on a daily basis.

Never fear Gary. God takes care of his own - no matter what you call him. He loves this little boy, and yes even those who did this to him. But he is also fair and will provide those people that did this with the opportunity for growth - that they so obviously need.

What is wrong with these people? God bless this boy?!?! Are they even thinking about what happened? If I were to believe that God existed, like these people obviously do, than here's the line of reasoning: God knew before the day these masked men were even born that they would do this act. God knew the time and day that it would happen.

If you said that you would be furious at the man with the fire extinguisher, than why are you not furious with God? God could have intervened in an infinite number of ways. God chose not to prevent those men from being on that street and seeing Youssif. God chose to not give his mother the 'Mother's Intuition' to bring her child inside to protect him. God chose to allow the mens' lighter/matches to strike up a flame with which to ignite this poor child.

If you believe in prayer, pray for this boy's face to be spontaneously restored to the way it was before. This would truly be a miracle, and I would probably have to convert on the spot. Unfortunately for Youssif, prayer is useless.

If this boy recovers, it will be because of the good will and skill of men and women. It is we who will spend the money to try to bring a small piece of normality back to his shattered life. It is our skilled surgeons who will work with our best (yet woefully inadequate) tools to to the best we can for this boy. It is us who will do all we can to stop this tragedy from happening again.

God bless Youssif? No. God had his chance.




Scientology and Me- Panorama (BBC) (29 min)

There, now no one can say that I pick on Christianity.

This is one strange, harmful cult. It is very amusing to me that so many celebrities are so involved in this. John Travolta, Tom Cruise, and the other famous people are covered briefly in the first video. There are a number of websites stating what this strange cult believes. Many of them talk about the ridiculous dogma they secretly believe in, that an intergalactic warlord blew up billions of aliens in pre-historic Earth's volcanoes using hydrogen bombs, and that these alien spirits are flying around, infecting our minds and bodies. Of course, you won't get any of them to admit that to a lay person. I'm sure that they feel we are not ready to hear the truth without having undergone their "auditing" process, through which they can brainwash us, and then they can say anything and it won't sound quite so ridiculous.

Another way they get people to believe all of this nonsense, is to charge such obscene amounts to progress in the organization. It's small amounts at first, and it then gets progressively more expensive. This then creates a 'perceived value' in the person spending the money. By the time you start finding out this stuff about aliens and spirits inhabiting us, you have already spent thousands and thousands of dollars. This would lead us to think, "I've spent $60,000 learning about this, and now they're telling me about space aliens. Well, either I'm a total moron for having spent a fortune on this nonsense or they are right. I'll choose the latter, please."

I'm also amazed by these people who will take these stories concocted by modern people and just believe them. How do they distinguish between which nut is right and which is wrong? Jim Jones, David Koresh, Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda, Joseph Smith, L Ron Hubbard, etc. What makes one of these guys right and the other wrong? They all have the same amount of evidence to back up their claims (none). Of course, this can easily be extended out to more popular world religions. Like the bumper sticker says, "Religions are just cults with more members."

Hopefully no scientologist will declare, "fair game" on me and try to sully my reputation. Luckily, I just cleansed my system with a big Thetan-dump this morning, and I'm feeling pretty good now.