Friday, February 29, 2008

Why Is Obama's Middle Name Taboo?

By Nathan Thornburgh

Barack Hussein Obama, Jr.: that is the full name of the junior Senator from Illinois — neither a contrivance nor, at face value, a slur. But John McCain couldn't apologize quickly enough after Bill Cunningham, a conservative talk radio host, warmed up a Cincinnati rally with a few loaded references to "Barack Hussein Obama." Asked afterwards if it was appropriate to use the Senator's middle name, McCain said, "No, it is not. Any comment that is disparaging of either Senator Clinton or Senator Obama is totally inappropriate."

The pundits were quick to applaud McCain's fatwa against the use of Hussein, and broadcasters began trying to report on the controversy without actually saying the name too much, dancing around the offending word as if they were doing a segment on The Vagina Monologues. In both cases, the word comes off as not quite illicit, but certainly a little taboo.

So who gets to say Hussein? At the Oscars, host Jon Stewart took innuendo about as far as it can go, saying that Barack Hussein Obama running today is like a 1940's candidate named Gaydolph Titler. But that reference, served up to a crowd that presumably swoons for Obama, got laughs. So maybe the H-word is more like the N-word: you can say it, but only if you are an initiate. Blacks can use the N-word; Obama supporters can use the H-word.

Obama's campaign thanked McCain's for his apology, claiming a victory for the high road. Fine. But McCain might also know that if middle names become fair game, John Sidney McCain III has his own liabilities. Recently, it has been the unmanly middle names that have caused their owners the most political trouble. In 2006, Jim Henry Webb hammered home the fact that his Virginia Senate opponent was actually George Felix Allen — a middle name that conjured up images of Felix Unger, or perhaps the real life Prince Felix of Luxemburg, either one a far cry from the tobacco-chewing good ole boy Allen styled himself as. In the last presidential election, both Bush and Kerry had middle names inherited from elite East Coast families. But Bush's middle name had much more swagger; you'll never see a TV show called Forbes, Texas Ranger.

Online, the onomastics are already in high gear. Lefty bloggers, in full Obama rapture, point out that Hussein means "beautiful". One conservative observer insinuated that Obama, as a Christian with a Muslim name, might be marked for death by even our allies in the Islamic world, if they think he converted from Islam (for the record, he was never Muslim). By that ornately twisted logic, though, one might add that it was the martyrdom of Hussein in the year 680, beheaded at Karbala in a clash with the caliphate, that gave rise to 1400 years or so of Sunni/Shi'a violence. So how on earth could Obama be a fair broker in Iraq?

The real problem is that if the right wants to start a whispering campaign about the name Hussein, Obama is only helping them. By cutting short the discussion, Obama is banishing his name to the voters' subconscious, where the dark opposites of hope — bigotry and fear — can turn the word over and over again in their minds until November.

The same day that Cunningham was dropping H-bombs on Cincinnati, Obama was at the Democratic debate in Cleveland, hastily accepting Hillary Clinton's assertion that she didn't order the leak of a picture of Obama wearing a turban in Kenya. "I think that's something we can set aside," he said.

It was a missed opportunity. He could have explained that he has nothing to hide. Explained why there's nothing wrong with him dressing in ceremonial clothes on official visits — like batik Bill in Indonesia in 1994 or headscarf Hillary in Eritrea in 1997. Maybe even explained why his middle name is Hussein — what his heritage means, and what it doesn't mean. In short, to reintroduce himself to those general election voters who are just starting to pay closer attention.

No matter what his advisers say, Obama wins nothing by shying away from his differences. After all, Obama is the candidate of change. He should take a cue from McCain's courage on Iraq. Say what you will about McCain, but he knows he's the war candidate. And though may have regretted saying it out loud, McCain clearly accepts that if voters don't buy his vision for the war, he'll lose. It's not too much risk for Obama to stake his campaign on voters' ability to rationally understand the difference between a Hawaii-born Christian and Saddam Hussein, the butcher of Baghdad.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

ANALYSIS-Seeds of class war sprout in Kenya's crisis



Kenya is a land of stark contrast: the rich drive gleaming luxury cars, can afford to enrol their children in top British schools and in the case of one local magnate, send suits to London for dry cleaning.

But most live a hand-to-mouth existence and some Kenyans believe the bloody post-election crisis that has exposed the east African country's tribal divisions could also inflame the gulf between classes and further exacerbate instability.

Although long seen as one of Africa's most promising economies, Kenya has a huge wealth gap, with 10 percent of people controlling 42 percent of the economy and the poorest 10 percent holding less than 1 percent, according to U.N. figures."If this issue is not resolved, the worst thing we would hear or see is a class war where these people, men and women, say they have nothing to lose," Abbas Gullet, secretary general of the Kenya Red Cross, told business leaders recently.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga used the argument that many Kenyans have not shared in economic growth under President Mwai Kibaki -- averaging 5 percent a year -- to win support in impoverished areas ahead of the election in December.
The dispute over Kibaki's re-election, in a vote that Odinga says was stolen, became the spark for bloodshed that has killed at least 1,000 people in ethnic clashes and battles between police and poor slum dwellers.

Chief mediator Kofi Annan, the former U.N. Secretary General, hopes for a political solution this week but nobody expects the wounds opened by the crisis to heal so soon.While Kenya's most obvious divisions follow tribal lines, those killed on both sides tend to have much more in common as peasant farmers or slum dwellers than they do with the ultra wealthy Kibaki and Odinga.

Struggle to survive
Almost half of Kenya's 36 million people live on a dollar a day and most struggle to put their children through school or pay for decent health care. Cabinet ministers take home more than 1 million shillings ($13,820) a month.

"All these politicians are using us. We fight one another and die like animals but their children are not on the streets like other Kenyans," said Ouma, a security guard in a middle-class Nairobi suburb. "The people dying are young men who should be working not dying."During the worst fighting, ethnic gangs erected roadblocks and beat up or killed those they caught from rival communities.

But some of the thugs also harassed or robbed people from their own ethnic groups if they seemed wealthier.Around 500,000 young Kenyans join the job market each year, but many fail to find work, swelling the number of disaffected youths ready to seize on any chance they can to profit."Some of them see us riding in our Mercedes or in our Hummers and they want that, just as we want the same thing for our children. T

his is the reality we are dealing with today," Steven Smith, chairman of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, told the meeting of business leaders.Aid workers in Kenya's slums say they have to consult with so-called "emerging informal leadership" for their safety. Simply put, they have to deal with ethnically-based gangs that control slums where police and other normal government services rarely reach.

Poverty is a driving force behind high levels of crime that affect both rich and poor Kenyans.In Nairobi's Mathare slum, the murderous Mungiki criminal gang has long ruled, carrying out extortion rackets and providing illegal water or electricity connections.

Politicians have long used such groups as campaign muscle-for-hire, and did so during the election violence."They have a huge say and sway on the ground in these major slums and they are establishing their own leadership," Gullet said. "I say to many politicians ... today it is quite clear that they do not have the proper control over these people."

A local daily columnist wrote recently that it was naive to expect that pro-Kibaki and pro-Odinga gangs would only fight against each other forever."If there's no political settlement soon, at some point, the gangs will unite ... together attacking, without discrimination, the homes of Kibaki and Raila's middle-class supporters," Charles Onyango-Obbo wrote in the Daily Nation

He cited the example of rival gangs fighting for political godfathers in Congo Republic in the 1990s who sometimes called a temporary truce when their battles led them to a rich suburb. They would then loot it together, before going back to war. (Editing by Bryson Hull and Matthew Tostevin)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The politics of political endorsements

Bill Clinton (R) embraces Congressman, John Lewis at the 35th anniversary of the march on Washington event at Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs, MA, when Clinton was President.

by Godwin Y. Agboka

Why do people endorse the candidature of those seeking political office? I mean what is the criterion (or criteria) for the endorsements from governors, celebrities, civil rights leaders, and members of congress, etc. Do people endorse based on some principle or due to the promise of some material benefit in the future?

I would think that someone endorses a candidate based on some shared principle(s) between the candidate and the endorser. Thus, if I believe in Universal Health Care I am likely to endorse a candidate who shares this principle, as much as I will endorse a candidate who is pro-life, if that is my position.

Civil rights leader, John Lewis is reported to have dropped his support for Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid in favor of Barack Obama. The Democratic congressman from Atlanta is the most prominent black leader to defect from Clinton's campaign in the face of near-majority black support for Obama in recent voting. He is also a super-delegate who gets a vote at this summer's national convention in Denver.

I am sure there will be other defections, if what I have heard has any merits. My questions are: what is it that Lewis saw, initially, in Hillary that is missing? Or, which of Hillary’s principles did he share that is no more on the candidate’s cards? I am sure these will remain rhetorical questions forever!

I am told that superdelegates are independent, and, so, are free to support candidates of their choice, but it is also probable that these superdelegates can change their positions if their constituencies support a candidate which they necessarily do not. That makes sense!

However, what signals are endorsers sending to Americans if they make a swift turn to other candidates, once the candidates they endorsed, initially, are not doing as well as they expected? What drives people to endorse: principle (policy issues) or some material benefits?

The text for this piece is set to American English.

Who won, who lost?

by Andrew Romano

Plain and simple, they saved the best for last. After all kinds of ridiculousness (remember the UFO question, anyone?) the last two Democrats standing sat down tonight for a substantive--dare we say wonktastic?--discussion of serious issues ranging from health care (16 minutes!) and NAFTA to Israel and Iraq. It's a cliche to say this, but I think the voters of Ohio and Texas were the "winners" tonight; while pundits and political junkies know much of this material already, I suspect that people in Cleveland and San Antonio and elsewhere actually learned something about where the candidates stand on the issues.

Did Clinton change the dynamic of the race--which, after 11 straight losses, isn't exactly working in her favor? No. But I didn't expect her to, and I'm not sure she could have. Yes, the New York senator made some mistakes. Early on, she complained about getting the first question time and time again, implying that the media is treating her unfairly. Whether or not that's true, it looked whiny, especially when she cited an SNL skit to belittle Obama. ("Ask Barack if he … needs another pillow.") And I can imagine some people carping about her inability to get the name of Putin's successor--Dmitri Medvedev--out of her mouth intact. ("Med-medvedova, whatever.") But by and large,


Clinton was as strong and substantial as ever. It was good to hear her admit that she wants a do-over on her Iraq vote, and I think she was smart to emphasize the fact that she's a "fighter" as early and often as possible. Along with reminding women voters of what her candidacy represents (and carefully casting herself as a victim, New Hampshire-style) it's probably her best remaining option. She made both points clearly and forcefully tonight.

That said, it would be hard not to acknowledge that Obama was at least as effective. As I wrote earlier, the policy focus actually benefited the Illinois senator. One of the most persistent criticisms of his campaign is that it's all style, no substance--so tonight's in-depth discussion gave voters a chance to see his wonky side, which is somewhat difficult to display at a 20,000-person stadium rally. He acquitted himself well. By claiming that she offers solutions, not just speeches, Clinton has set the bar pretty high for herself--she needs to show that she can outwonk Obama every chance she gets. Because that didn't happen tonight, he essentially neutralized her advantage on the "specifics" front. Plus his cool, deflective style--see: the difference between "denouncing on rejecting" Farrakhan's statements, the "turban photo" flap, "bombing" Pakistan, negative campaigning, etc.--served simultaneously to minimize Clinton's attacks and make her sound thin-skinned (which, as Noam Scheiber of TNR notes, is "the opposite of the battle-tested, Republican-slayer she purports to be.")


Take her dismissal of Obama's 2002 speech warning against war in Iraq. When she pointed out that his actual Senate votes--once he actually had to cast them--closely matched hers, Obama showed his skill for parrying. "Once we had driven the bus into the ditch, there were only so many ways we could get out," he said. "The question is: Who's making the decision initially to drive the bus into the ditch?" Simply put, he's far more comfortable as the frontrunner than he ever was as an underdog.

So who won, and who lost (other than the voters)? In my humble opinion, nobody and nobody (although I have to give a shout-out to Tim Russert, who gets my award for best moderator of the season). That's bad news for Clinton, of course, and good news for Obama. But as a reader named Chris wrote near the end of the evening, "Can I say that I find both of these people incredibly impressive and inspirational? I'm very proud of both of them." As divisive as this primary election has been, after tonight I can imagine that many of his fellow Democrats would agree.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Obama: The American Dream

by Etse Sikanku

The good news about the upcoming presidential primaries is that they could present Americans with a chance to elect its first black President. Nearly 250 years after its establishment, Americans are still searching for their first non-white president. Barack Obama is the slick “political rock star,” challenging old norms and seeking to rewrite this country’s history.

Not surprisingly, the political system has mapped out a formula which has seen people from a certain class and race ascend to the White House. But with a woman, a black man, a Latino and a Mormon all front-runners for the presidency, 2008 could be a year of alterations for America.
It’s true that Barack Obama has little experience in Washington as a senator. It’s also true that some of his policies are particularly idealistic. Obama has been running a campaign admired for its style, vigor and inspiration, but is lacking in depth.
Shockingly enough Obama hasn’t earned the full endorsement of the black community and is not trusted by some core members of the democratic community. Others view Obama as too naïve and sincere for his own good, but his personal charm and electabilty credentials — buoyed by his community service, academic and professional background — are just about as appealing (if not more appealing) to a wide cross-section of Americans.

Obama has raised more money than democratic opponent Hilary Clinton, drawing in more than $34 million in the second quarter of 2007, outdoing Clinton’s $27 million. The freshman senator from Illinois seems to be Wall Street’s political sweetheart who has raked in $739,579 from top-investment banks, compared to Clinton's $424,545. Obama is reported to have almost twice as many donors as Clinton.

Consequently, this is a confirmation of America’s belief in Obama’s message. Clinton’s hopes of establishing early dominance in the democratic contest were quickly wiped by Obama’s stellar performance. More revealing about Obama’s donations are that most of them are small-dollar contributions from ordinary Americans who are dying for a change from politicians with corporate interests. Supporters are showing this quest by supporting a candidate they can identify with; that candidate is Obama.

Even more decisive than his ability to match Clinton in the contest to raise money, has been his ability to rival any of the leading democratic contenders in terms of ideas, personality and policy. This is the proof that Senator Obama is a good candidate, since no amount of money (no matter how large) can buy pristine knowledge, workable plans and the cordiality that attracts crowds to campaigns.

What is interesting about the primary race is that it has revealed the nuances of the electoral process in America. America is capitalism in action, but also a democracy on course. These are difficult times in the life of the American polity. To be sure the U.S. is a political institution which has some good intent. If we set aside its unilateral character, this country presents mankind’s best opportunity for self actualization.

Strategic interests have caused the U.S. to ignore the most pressing global issues. One clear example of this is the 1994 Rwandan genocide, during which the U.S., determined to pursue its plans in the Balkans, forced the United Nations not to send troops to Rwanda or even highlight the crisis. This was especially dreadful considering the fact that the ongoing war in Bosnia was in no way comparable to the “cleansing” of over 800,000 people during a hundred days in Rwanda.
The U.S. was swift to send NATO to bomb Serbia but slow to move in Rwanda. It is such acts of indiscretion that so often projects America as the enemy to pursue, thereby making it an unwarranted target for terrorists. Many consider terrorism the greatest thereat to America’s existence and America needs an amiable president who will erase such hateful global sentiments by presenting the U.S. as a worthy nation steeped in consensus building and ready to extend the spirit of camaraderie worldwide.

Obama is the candidate who is preaching neither the liberal nor the conservative message. He is propagating the neo-America crusade, the idyllic enterprise the U.S. was predicted to be.

The ambition originally pined for by the founding fathers — to make America the land of freedom, a symbol of international success and a model for the rest of the world to emulate — is inherently submerged in Obama’s persona which makes him the best person to lead the Democratic Party in the 2008 presidential election.
One of the best ways for the United States to ensure peace in the world is to guarantee peace at home. Obama’s charisma, depth of political experience, global appeal and progressive policies will get that and much more for America. Obama is the American dream.
Change is waiting to happen in America. The question is: will Americans accept it?

Grasscutter chase costs farmer’s life-Joyfm



On the lighter side of life in Ghana-well not so light since someone lost his life-here's a story about how a grasscutter chase led to the death of a farmer. myjoyonline.com has the story.

The Audacity of Hopelessness

by Frank Rich
New York Times Op-Ed Columnist

WHEN people one day look back at the remarkable implosion of the Hillary Clinton campaign, they may notice that it both began and ended in the long dark shadow of Iraq.

It’s not just that her candidacy’s central premise — the priceless value of “experience” — was fatally poisoned from the start by her still ill-explained vote to authorize the fiasco. Senator Clinton then compounded that 2002 misjudgment by pursuing a 2008 campaign strategy that uncannily mimicked the disastrous Bush Iraq war plan. After promising a cakewalk to the nomination — “It will be me,” Mrs. Clinton told Katie Couric in November — she was routed by an insurgency.

The Clinton camp was certain that its moneyed arsenal of political shock-and-awe would take out Barack Hussein Obama in a flash. The race would “be over by Feb. 5,” Mrs. Clinton assured George Stephanopoulos just before New Year’s. But once the Obama forces outwitted her, leaving her mission unaccomplished on Super Tuesday, there was no contingency plan. She had neither the boots on the ground nor the money to recoup.

That’s why she has been losing battle after battle by double digits in every corner of the country ever since. And no matter how much bad stuff happened, she kept to the Bush playbook, stubbornly clinging to her own Rumsfeld, her chief strategist, Mark Penn. Like his prototype, Mr. Penn is bigger on loyalty and arrogance than strategic brilliance. But he’s actually not even all that loyal. Mr. Penn, whose operation has billed several million dollars in fees to the Clinton campaign so far, has never given up his day job as chief executive of the public relations behemoth Burson-Marsteller. His top client there, Microsoft, is simultaneously engaged in a demanding campaign of its own to acquire Yahoo.

Clinton fans don’t see their standard-bearer’s troubles this way. In their view, their highly substantive candidate was unfairly undone by a lightweight showboat who got a free ride from an often misogynist press and from naïve young people who lap up messianic language as if it were Jim Jones’s Kool-Aid. Or as Mrs. Clinton frames it, Senator Obama is all about empty words while she is all about action and hard work.

But it’s the Clinton strategists, not the Obama voters, who drank the Kool-Aid. The Obama campaign is not a vaporous cult; it’s a lean and mean political machine that gets the job done. The Clinton camp has been the slacker in this race, more words than action, and its candidate’s message, for all its purported high-mindedness, was and is self-immolating.

The gap in hard work between the two campaigns was clear well before Feb. 5. Mrs. Clinton threw as much as $25 million at the
Iowa caucuses without ever matching Mr. Obama’s organizational strength. In South Carolina, where last fall she was up 20 percentage points in the polls, she relied on top-down endorsements and the patina of inevitability, while the Obama campaign built a landslide-winning organization from scratch at the grass roots. In Kansas, three paid Obama organizers had the field to themselves for three months; ultimately Obama staff members outnumbered Clinton staff members there 18 to 3.

In the
last battleground, Wisconsin, the Clinton campaign was six days behind Mr. Obama in putting up ads and had only four campaign offices to his 11. Even as Mrs. Clinton clings to her latest firewall — the March 4 contests — she is still being outhustled. Last week she told reporters that she “had no idea” that the Texas primary system was “so bizarre” (it’s a primary-caucus hybrid), adding that she had “people trying to understand it as we speak.” Perhaps her people can borrow the road map from Obama’s people. In Vermont, another March 4 contest, The Burlington Free Press reported that there were four Obama offices and no Clinton offices as of five days ago. For what will no doubt be the next firewall after March 4, Pennsylvania on April 22, the Clinton campaign is sufficiently disorganized that it couldn’t file a complete slate of delegates by even an extended ballot deadline.

This is the candidate who keeps telling us she’s so competent that she’ll be ready to govern from Day 1. Mrs. Clinton may be right that Mr. Obama has a thin résumé, but her disheveled campaign keeps reminding us that the biggest item on her thicker résumé is the health care task force that was as botched as her presidential bid.

Given that Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama offer marginally different policy prescriptions — laid out in voluminous detail by both, by the way, on their Web sites — it’s not clear what her added-value message is. The “experience” mantra has been compromised not only by her failure on the signal issue of Iraq but also by the deadening lingua franca of her particular experience, Washingtonese. No matter what the problem, she keeps rolling out another commission to solve it: a commission for
infrastructure, a Financial Product Safety Commission, a Corporate Subsidy Commission, a Katrina/Rita Commission and, to deal with drought, a water summit.

As for countering what she sees as the empty Obama brand of hope, she offers only a chilly void: Abandon hope all ye who enter here. This must be the first presidential candidate in history to devote so much energy to preaching against optimism, against inspiring language and — talk about bizarre — against democracy itself. No sooner does Mrs. Clinton lose a state than her campaign belittles its voters as unrepresentative of the country.

Bill Clinton
knocked states that hold caucuses instead of primaries because “they disproportionately favor upper-income voters” who “don’t really need a president but feel like they need a change.” After the Potomac primary wipeout, Mr. Penn declared that Mr. Obama hadn’t won in “any of the significant states” outside of his home state of Illinois. This might come as news to Virginia, Maryland, Washington and Iowa, among the other insignificant sites of Obama victories. The blogger Markos Moulitsas Zúniga has hilariously labeled this Penn spin the “insult 40 states” strategy.

The insults continued on Tuesday night when a surrogate preceding Mrs. Clinton onstage at an Ohio rally, Tom Buffenbarger of the machinists’ union,
derided Obama supporters as “latte-drinking, Prius-driving, Birkenstock-wearing, trust-fund babies.” Even as he ranted, exit polls in Wisconsin were showing that Mr. Obama had in fact won that day among voters with the least education and the lowest incomes. Less than 24 hours later, Mr. Obama received the endorsement of the latte-drinking Teamsters.

If the press were as prejudiced against Mrs. Clinton as her campaign constantly whines, debate moderators would have pushed for the Clinton tax returns and the full list of Clinton foundation donors to be made public with the same vigor it devoted to Mr. Obama’s “plagiarism.” And it would have showered her with the same ridicule that Rudy Giuliani received in his endgame. With
11 straight losses in nominating contests, Mrs. Clinton has now nearly doubled the Giuliani losing streak (six) by the time he reached his Florida graveyard. But we gamely pay lip service to the illusion that she can erect one more firewall.

The other persistent gripe among some Clinton supporters is that a hard-working older woman has been unjustly usurped by a cool young guy intrinsically favored by a sexist culture. Slate posted
a devilish video mash-up of the classic 1999 movie “Election”: Mrs. Clinton is reduced to a stand-in for Tracy Flick, the diligent candidate for high school president played by Reese Witherspoon, and Mr. Obama is implicitly cast as the mindless jock who upsets her by dint of his sheer, unearned popularity.

There is undoubtedly some truth to this, however demeaning it may be to both candidates, but in reality, the more consequential ur-text for the Clinton 2008 campaign may be another Hollywood classic, the Katharine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy “Pat and Mike” of 1952. In that movie, the proto-feminist Hepburn plays a professional athlete who loses a tennis or golf championship every time her self-regarding fiancé turns up in the crowd, pulling her focus and undermining her confidence with his grandstanding presence.

In the 2008 real-life remake of “Pat and Mike,” it’s not the fiancé, of course, but the husband who has sabotaged the heroine. The single biggest factor in Hillary Clinton’s collapse is less sexism in general than one man in particular — the man who began the campaign as her biggest political asset. The moment Bill Clinton started trash-talking about Mr. Obama and raising the specter of a co-presidency, even to the point of giving his own televised speech ahead of his wife’s on the night she lost South Carolina, her candidacy started spiraling downward.

What’s next? Despite Mrs. Clinton’s valedictory tone at Thursday’s debate, there remains the fear in some quarters that whether through sleights of hand involving superdelegates or bogus delegates from Michigan or Florida, the Clintons might yet game or even steal the nomination. I’m starting to wonder.
An operation that has waged political war as incompetently as the Bush administration waged war in Iraq is unlikely to suddenly become smart enough to pull off that duplicitous a “victory.” Besides, after spending $1,200 on Dunkin’ Donuts
in January alone, this campaign simply may not have the cash on hand to mount a surge.

On the campaign trail


For those who haven’t found it yet, here’s a blog by McCain’s daughter. Not connected with the campaign in any way but will be a good preview. So much for family values.
http://mccainblogette.com/docs/about/

Is Castro truly a hero of the left? Find out from Timesonline:
http://timesonline.typepad.com/comment/2008/02/in-an-extraordi.html

Obama’s negatives pile up. Here’s a bit of information that proves Barak Obama is just as human. The allegations, counter accusation and revelations. Call it dirt but it’s out there:
Obama mansion mistake: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/us_elections/article3433485.ece

Obama in Muslim turban:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080226/ap_on_el_pr/obama_photo

But his campaign says the photo circulating on the internet is smear: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0208/8667.html

A Minnesota man says he and Obama dealt with drugs and he gave the presidential aspirant a “blow job”. Another Clinton hoax or is this the big political killer gradually coming out? Find out:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVeFVtcdSYY

And here's Obama's stance on gay issues, marriage, abortion in an interview with CBS:

Monday, February 25, 2008

OPEN JOURNAL: Campaign goes on

OPEN JOURNAL: Campaign goes on

Can Kenya happen in Ghana?

The upheaval in Kenya has shocked many observers

Link: http://www.myjoyonline.com/politics/200802/13805.asp

by Etse Sikanku

Ever since the Kenyan crisis erupted many have expressed surprise about how easily one of Africa’s exemplar nations could be dogged into such morass.

The question has been asked many times-in private and in public-if such a situation could happen in Ghana.

In as much as I’d hate to be the doom monger I sincerely believe Ghana is way past the question of ‘if’ to ‘when’. It is not so much a matter of if it will happen but when it will.

This may be a hard pill to swallow but take this: Ghana is sitting on a time bomb.

P.V Obeng in his lecture to the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology has said exactly what has been on my mind for quite a while now.

Let’s take a step back and reflect folks, if conscious efforts are not made to address the political, tribal and economic hotspots in Ghana the consequences will be too ghastly to contemplate.

I have covered some of the most violent demonstrations in Ghana and I think the notion that the country can never be plunged into chaos is an invention of a nomadic imagination.

What is more it is not difficult to point to any one region in Ghana which does not have its own land, chieftaincy or some form of conflict or the other.

Indeed I have ceased to delude myself in the notion that Ghana will never be Rwanda or Kenya.
The other thing that makes things worse is Ghana’s willingness to rather shut off any discussion of such notions than address the issues head on.


In truth the Ghanaian state has everything going for it and the people have done well to keep sway for past decades till now.

But the seeming peace may soon fade into oblivion and many Ghanaians will be shocked beyond belief if they choose to play the ostrich while it’s still daylight.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Immigration-a humanist perspective

Dakar, SENEGAL: Yaye Bayam Diouf a sengalese mother grieves the death of her son, 20 May 2006 who perished whilst trying to migrate illegally on board a boat to the coast of spain, in her home in the 'Thiarroye sur mer' suburb of Dakar.

by Etse Sikanku
It was four years ago.
When Tutu lurched unto a plane en route to America, it was with mixed emotions. He was leaving a land he had known for all his life to the unknown. He was leaving his family, friends and a communal system that had shaped and defined his personality for as long as he could remember.

He will always console himself with thoughts of returning to the land of his birth-educated and well to do. Like many others he left without saying goodbye and still owing the landlord rent.Many years have passed since that fateful day.

The day of return is uncertain if ever at all.

There’s still unfinished business. In Africa life is hard, hot and hazy. But just as many others like him discovered, in America life is also hard, cold and foggy. It is a reality that generates serious and sober reflections amidst the whole sentimental and clouded debates over immigration. Why would people leave a land they deeply love and cherish? Like America, life in Africa is engaging, fearless and fun.

In his book doing Business in Africa Steve Shelley is detailed when he says of Africa “many expatriates claim greater professional challenges, more active social lives and a greater variety of leisure activities at more affordable prices than they can find in their home countries”.

So why do people move?

It is an issue that transcends the face valued arguments and daily struggles of immigrants; one that should generate a more thoughtful and humanistic view of the world.It is true that some make the journey overseas because of a desire for a different educational perspective; just like the many study abroad programmes in western universities. Other will move simply because of the geographic and international nature of their jobs; in the same way that we have westerners working in developing nations. Political, social and family considerations may prompt people to make a move abroad and this is not restricted to any particular race or continent.

Yet there are always those who through no fault of theirs have to move as a matter of survival. But don’t westerners also move away from their homes in order to keep ‘body and soul’ together? However the extents and degree to which this necessity exists varies from region to region.

In Africa life can get intoxicatingly squalid.

Last year media agencies reported that about 6000 Africans died or went missing on the sea journey to the infamous Canary Islands in search of opportunities in Europe. Faced with leaden starvation, implacable poverty and devastating hopelessness, contemplating death on the high oceans looks a better option than staying at home. In many African countries people cannot fish anymore because of depleting stocks mainly due to over fishing by massive European trawlers.

Farmers for instance have seen their stocks depleting considerably due to harsh and rigged rules of western agriculture. The daily hustle in the dust and mud becomes a desperate hung to life and all but puts the future in jeopardy.Indeed as the immigration debate heats up in western nations and as many take various stance on immigration reforms there is the need to realize that like anything else that happens in the natural world, the subject matter of immigration is human.

And who other than humans deserve the most to inhabit earth?The African society is inherently paternalistic meaning a man’s right to exist is judged by his ability or inability to provide food, clothing and shelter to his family.

What else is there to live for when a man cannot offer food to his hungry family?

It is at this point that many make the decision to undertake a horrendous path in optimism of prosperity. It’s an escape from nothingness which heralds the staggering, unspeakable and sometimes untold stories across the deserts and oceans of Africa and beyond. Gradually anxiety with life gives way to despair and then at that point any other choice but staying looks palatable.

Yes it is at this point in time in a man’s life that all the hard work with an 18 inch hoe is made meaningless by the 150 horse power tractor in Iowa. It is at this stage that people leave the scrubs and straw laden vegetations in search of hope. Many will bundle themselves in wooden Cayucos making the journey that often leaves some dead along the way. Those on board are not only vulnerable to hypothermis and dehydration but also to coast guards such as the Spanish guardia. The Mexicans will be harpooned by patrol teams on land and in the air- and very soon-the American version of the Berlin wall. Still others will risk journeys across the North African deserts where they could die from thirst or beatings from North African officials.

On the flip side of reality, the system is not helped either by leaders who have betrayed a trusting electorate. These group of inward looking, self serving political demagogues have plunged African nations into unassailable morass where pittance for human life is increasingly non existent. All in all immigration need not be a blood and thunder affair.

If western governments will address squarely the economic injustice that causes poverty around the world, if developing nations will recognize that sovereignty comes with challenges and responsibilities which must be overcome, then people will have no need to endanger their lives and those of their families.

For those already abroad, the burden of uncertainty that people like Tutu contemplate upon settling back home will be no more.

People may still move but more as a matter of choice.

We may not have control over the land of our birth but we should enjoy the luxury of choosing the land of our death with more definitiveness than the biological intercourse that leads to our birth.


Friday, February 22, 2008

Campaign goes on

Clinton’s unexpected graciousness could resurrect her White House hopes

by Etse Sikanku

I hate to break it to you but those who looked at yesterday’s debate as Clinton’s valedictory event should be revising their notes.

The CNN event has confirmed Clinton as the mistress of debate.

Put whatever spin you want on it but it’s quite clear Clinton had the edge. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it will change the contours of the democratic race but give her two more of this and the Obama movement will fade into oblivion.

She had her good and not so good times but she also had the best time as well. It wasn’t so much for her ability to speak out of her heart than her introduction of “faith” and “blessing” into her message.

I have been observing this race for some time now and here’s one clue for the tie break: the religious base.

It's no secret that the Democratic Party has had more trouble wooing the more religiously inclined voters than their Republican counterparts. Now whichever of the two contenders taps into this religious avalanche could add a much needed audience to their support base.

Obama could easily have done this. But once again he allowed Clinton to show the way.
I’m not sure if this is a coincidence but I read something very striking from the bible today from Romans 5:3-5


“…we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces
perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not
disappoint us….”

Obama’s life captures all the elements listed above: suffering, perseverance, character and hope. He could have explained to those who accuse his campaign of promising ‘false hope’ that this hope is rooted in suffering, perseverance and character and above all, “hope does not disappoint”. And it wouldn’t just be Obama saying it but the Holy Book.

Projecting himself as the Bible candidate will have seen Barak racing through the final contests with much less ease.

Clinton’s famous last response did more to her campaign than any political strategist could have done.

To his credit Obama expertly won over the audience with his dismissal of Clinton’s allegations of plagiarism and looked far more presidential but it was Clinton who dominated the decider.

Also Obama looked very confident and seemed to have taken control of the debate right from the start but he could not convert his status as the prohibitive nominee into a match winner.

If Clinton wins the Democratic nomination historians will turn back and look to this period of her campaign-just like her moment of ‘tearing up’ before the New Hampshire primary- as her astonishing break.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Obama's Greatest Challenge

Illinois Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama (L) and Republican presidential hopeful Arizona Senator John McCain (R).


by Godwin Y. Agboka

It appears we will be lucky enough to watch history unfold in the United State of America. It looks more likely that a Democrat will win the race to the White House. Should that become probable, we will have the first woman or first African-American President of the US.

It is stunning, however, the manner Senator Barrack Obama has taken the Democratic race by storm. 10 wins in a row—since Super Tuesday—and still counting. He looks unstoppable now. He has ruggedly broken the aura of invincibility around Hillary Clinton, and provided tough answers to the question of electability.

I am not sure if the word ‘destiny’ makes any sense in politics, but that is how I describe Obama’s surge. As the days unfold he becomes increasingly popular, while his opponent, Hillary crashes to the pit of unpopular media analyses, scrutiny, and inevitable corpus of unpopularity. Obama’s movement is growing at a pace faster than a tsunami, and powerful than a whirlwind.

It appears, for the first time, in many decades, the expectations, among voters, are reaching boiling point—call it a crescendo. They need a change, a refrain that has been heightened by Obama’s campaign. Obama talks about hope, but Senator McCain and the Clintons believe that that hope is false. However, Obama believes that “there is nothing false about hope.” The man knows how to say the right thing at the right time.

The greatest challenge Obama faces, however, is how to meet these expectations of the American people, whom he is courting and winning by the minute with his message. Should he finally win the nomination, and, then, the general elections, to become President, will he be able to change the politics in the White House? Can he truly change America? Can he unite Americans?

Some say what Obama is doing is populism, and we all know what that (populism) can do.

Contract Killings-Lets stand up to it

by Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa

I must begin by stating that I am not interested in the many analysis that others wish to subject us to as to what we should be calling this phenomenon of contract killings whether it should be accepted as contract killings or seen as vengeance killings which leads to contract killings or murders or just homicides; all just because the first person to go to town with this terminology is an opposition leader and we don’t want to be seen to be agreeing with him or offending those who never agree with him.

The fact of the matter still remains that over the past three weeks, three people have been gunned down and over the past two years there have been more than a dozen of these bizarre occurrences. Precious Ghanaian lives are being ended by unscrupulous people who do not rob or rape but only flee the scene having accomplished their mission.

Unfortunately for us, since these days even the football team you support shows which part of the political divide you may belong, some “experts” are at pain to engage in frivolous name selection or appropriate nomenclature rather than dealing with how to arrest this frightening phenomenon. It is this objective of arresting the phenomenon of contract killings that I seek in this article.

It is important to observe that in Australia where the most scientific research on contract killings in the world was undertaken and published in 2003 by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC), such a research was done not because too many Australians had been victims of contract killers, indeed from 1st July 1989 to 30th June 2002 the data gathered by the AIC suggested only 2% of all Australian homicides were contract killings. Clearly the principle that every single life is of extreme importance mandated such an extensive research and this same principle must inform the Ghanaian government and her security operatives.

I will admonish all, especially our security agencies to look out for this AIC research because though Australia is the case study, it generally focused on universally relevant questions such as:

1) Factors that differentiate successful and unsuccessful contract killings;

2) The characteristics of attempted and completed contract killings;
including who are the victims, and who are the principal instigators;

3) Typologies of contract killings, including why are contract killers sought

and

4) The nature and level of police intervention in preventing the completion
of contract killings.

It is important for our government and security agencies to acknowledge this new threat and assure Ghanaians that they are able to rise to the occasion.

It has been reported that most of the victims of these contract killings were threatened and that they reported such threats to the security agencies. It is important for us to know what the security agencies did when these complaints were lodged. It is more important for the security agencies to now take such complaints more seriously than before.

Is it possible for the security agencies to establish special units which will grant special advice to people who receive such threats as to how they should lead their lives, what to do and what not to do? Considering that at least two sitting MPs have received similar threats in recent times. People should not just continue to do the same things or live their lives as before when they receive such threats – a professional counseling and surveillance on these possible victims will go a long way to save lives rather than the police sitting back and waiting for the contract killers to strike only to report at the crime scene 45 minutes after to take the dead body to the morgue.

In researching on this phenomenon of contract killings, I was surprised to find out that there is a website where contract killers can be contracted to do whatever elimination a client requires and in whatever form he/she wishes the elimination to take, be it shooting, hanging, electrocuting, poisoning, etc. For obvious security reasons, I shall not disclose this web address here but clearly, contract killings have become an industry with its perpetrators engaged in brisk business and we will require an immediate, committed and sophisticated strategy at nibing this canker in the bud.

The security agencies must also take cognizance of the reward factor. Considering that this is an industry in which money plays a crucial role in wooing contract killers, by now there should be an undisclosed reward package for any person who refuses to accept to be a contract killer and exposes the person or people who tried to contract him/her. This will serve as a major step in making the much needed first arrest ever since these contract killings began.

When a first arrest is made and the appropriate punishment applied swiftly, it will act as deterrence and we can begin to breathe an air of freedom again.

It is important for us to note that those engaged in these contract killings threaten our freedom of expression, they threaten our confidence to live in our own country, they threaten our trust for each other as Ghanaians and they threaten our human resource which we need for development. It is because of these threats they pose that they must not be allowed to win.

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa
(Former President, NUGS)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A little bit more than enough is poison.

Clinton who has not won any election since Super Tuesday is under ‘super’ pressure

by Afeseh Ngwa Hilary

In toxicology, the basic principle is that the dose makes the poison-anything can be a poison-the dose differentiates the remedy from the poison.

This holds doubly true for confidence. Hillary Clinton set out on the race to the Democratic presidential nominee with an almost deriding hubris, with a confidence overdose which almost saw herself crowned before the race began. What a way to pick your own poison!!

Her current opponent who was the underdog is sailing through with enough, just enough confidence to keep him level headed and working hard to earn the nomination from the american people, not being presumptive, not counting victory until it has arrived.

With 10 straight back to back wins in primaries and caucuses, Obama is bursting the Clinton ego and injecting venomous doses of doubt into the veins of the Hillary campaign. While Obama has known streaks of victories and mounting momentum propelling him with unimaginable force, Hillary has known streaks of defeats, setbacks, confusion, and pressure in the inner circles of her campaign.

Many fine and precious stones are born under pressure, so let's see what is hatched out of the extant pressure in the Clinton camp. Meanwhile, Obama is etching in indelible ink for himself and for America beautiful pages in the annals of History. He is showing that when Courage is wedded to Hope many great new things can be born.

Let time sort this out.

The big 'MO'

Obamomentum

Barack Obama has passed a serious test of credentials at Wisconsin and now faces even sterner tests in the weeks ahead.

But Sen. Clinton is a formidable candidate. Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania will certainly present her with a fine opportunity to churn out her proverbial political gamesmanship. For now no one is counting the Clintons out and rightly so.

So what are the headlines saying?



And what does this mean for the race? Some of the best political analysts crack down the electoral code:




Also the big question on everyone’s mind now is: What should/will Hillary Clinton do? Find out here:



Finally, what happens to Obama?


As always send in your reactions and top links!


Ghana’s ‘new’ mobile industry; where those with muscles use them?


by Kwame Gyan


You know what they say, that competition, healthy competition that is, offers consumers the best in terms of choice, etc.

The telecom industry in Ghana has been pretty fascinating over the past 13 years. Within this period, we’ve had MOBITEL with those huge handsets that we used to call TIMBER and weapons? Then there was CELLTELL, an analogous network. Then SPACEFON came in along the line. ONETOUCH was born sometime within the period too.

Those were the times when SIM cards were sold for a million cedis and over; the days when a mobile phone was a mobile phone, regardless of how heavy, big, and if you are lucky, small it was. Most of the initial networks have grown over the years.

Acquisitions have resulted in name changes as well. CELLTELL is now KASAPA. SPACEFON first became SPACEFON-AREEBA, then AREEBA, now it is all mighty, all yellow, MTN!

MTN prides itself as the biggest telecommunications provider in Africa and the Middle East. That certainly is not in doubt. Whoever was in Ghana on the eve of August 1, 2007 could not have missed perhaps what has gone down in Ghanaian corporate industry history as the biggest outdooring ever of any brand, product or service.

Ghanaians woke to the morning of Saturday August 1, 2007 seeing Y’ello and MTN splashed all over the place. Overnight, everything Areeba (the brand name that Scancom Ghana Limited had used for its mobile network until MTN’s acquisition), had changed to MTN. Billboards, radio and TV ads, vehicles, signposts, you name it. MTN had wanted to buy every front-page of every major newspaper.

They succeeded with some, but sadly for them, the biggest selling and most influential newspaper in Ghana, Daily Graphic, resisted the mouth-watering deal offered them by MTN. Nonetheless they managed to make the frontpages of several newspapers. Simultaneous floats were also held across seven regional capitals throughout Ghana, with live concerts blasting from some prominent stations throughout the day.

The party continued with international dancehall stars Shaggy, Wayne Marshall and Marlon Asher coming down to Accra for two concerts; one, an invite-only concert at Ghana’s International Conference Centre. The other, MTN took advantage of JOY FM’s school’s reunion programme to re-outdoor MTN. (JOY FM’S schools re-union has been described as the single largest gathering of persons in the West African sub-region, and MTN paid handsomely to use JOY FM’s audience for the relaunch/concert). It did not quite end there. MTN’s logo, colours are now found everywhere, on every street corner, kiosk, just name it.

Customers naturally expected an improved service, competitive pricing and all the goodies one should expect with the entry of a big player and the pre-entry hype it had received as a result of the huge advertising and PR machinery it operates. This is not to be, at least not yet. What may perhaps be considered most embarrassing is the continual jamming of the network especially in the immediate aftermath of the outdooring. I have read it has to do with a phenomenon called system jamming.

This happens when there are not enough cell sites within a location where there are several hundreds of people trying to get through a network yes it makes sense and all, but I thought the hall mark of any major industry player was its ability to solve such problems out.

During the old schools reunion, several subscribers were simply unable to get through the network via neither calls nor text. Again, it has become uncommon now to hear the message, ‘You have dialled the wrong number, please dial again’ when you know very well you have dialled the correct number. The usual ‘The Areeba’ sorry, I meant ‘the MTN number you have dialled cannot be reached at the moment. The mobile device is either switched off or out of coverage area’. Even sending text messages has now become cumbersome. I have to send them twice before one gets sent, and if I get lucky, delivered.

So what the heck is all the noise about MTN when they really, do not have that much to offer, except pump money into advertising? The funny part is, it is sort of difficult to switch to other networks. Personally, I have two other SIM cards from Onetouch and Tigo, the other GSM providers in the country, yet, I haven’t quite been able to wean myself off MTN’s addiction. Me, like most others, find it cheaper (even though MTN’s rates are not the cheapest in the country), to reach the chunk of my contacts most of whom are on the MTN network. Others raise the subject of MTN being funky, but really, so are the others, even CDMA provider, Kasapa.

When giants with huge financial muscles like MTN hit the market, I think it is fair subscribers, the media, telecommunications policy makers and watch dogs pay particular attention to a number of issues. Paramount among them is the question; are they practising fair trade? Do we risk burying other competitors because of the monumental financial strength of the player?

How and why do subscribers not make their important voices heard? After all it is the 70 Pesewas right through to the 16 Ghana Cedis credits we buy to send a text or place a call which rakes in their money for them. Excuse me, but to hell with the sponsorship packages, I dare say; the Ghanaian deserves the best, does he not? The media seems tongue-tied when it comes to raising legitimate concerns about MTN? Why? Because the owners of the media will tell you MTN is their biggest corporate sponsor and they cannot and will not do anything which may embarrass them.

But of course, in a country where there seems to be no strong public or state broadcaster who will not be depending largely on corporate bodies to finance their programming, what else do you expect. Let’s take television. A lot of programmes on Metro TV are strongly backed by MTN; their sports programmes, reality TV shows, just name them. Same story goes for TV3. Their Music Music entertainment show flies on the wings of MTN, the many soaps they air, etc. And GTV too, the so-called Station of the Nation. If MTN is the life-blood of all of them, why won’t they keep mute. Same story can be told about radio stations. Those who do not benefit from MTN have such insignificant listenership base that MTN probably cares less what they say.

Why will I not come close to forgetting Ghana’s National Communications Authority, the mandatory institution set aside to referee the industry? We hear most often from them when issues of releasing frequencies arise. But clearly, after these, they sink into their comforting oblivion without giving a hoot to the airwaves above and about them. Perhaps if they got their act together we’d be fine and not worry too much about interconnectivity issues, non-competitive rates and a completely abysmal service delivery.

I love competition. It tends to sharpen a person and makes him better. Competition also offers whoever may be concerned an opportunity to choose the best on offer. But I believe and even love most, fair and healthy competition where the winner is the consumer and not the huge multinational with turnovers ten or more times bigger than the gross domestic product of many countries in Africa.


Kwame Gyan, BA. The writer is currently a Broadcast Journalist with the BBC’s number one radio station for West Africa, JOY 99.7 FM in Accra, Ghana. He had before then worked in a similar position at another Accra based station, CITI 97.3FM. He is awaiting his Master of Arts degree in Communication Studies from the University of Ghana. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Psychology from the same University.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Africa: America’s flop

There will be no such 18 fighter jet aerobatic displays in Africa by the United States

by Etse Sikanku


The definite resistance by African countries to the hosting of the United States’ so called Africa Command is no proof that Africa has come of age-but it is certainly a step in the right direction.

Since the early post colonial days the people of Africa had been imbued with a false sense of hope that the new Africa will go on to become prosperous. But that dream has only remained short lived-a pipe dream-if you want.

With the progression of time many African nations have failed the basics of the governance test and thus became far too weak to resist the pressure of neo-colonialism. Soon western powers were predictably meddling in the affairs of the continent albeit through surrogates.

It sometimes seems as if the rest of the world is playing a cruel joke on Africa. They grant our nations independence but through imperialism, the insidious effects of the slave trade, a shameless exploitation by multi-national corporations and an unjust world order, the west continues to strangle Africa for their selfish gains.


Prof George Ayittey writing on the African paradox cannot hide this perplexity when he says “Africa's deteriorating economic situation is baffling”.

Every foreign policy neophyte knows the hidden agenda behind Bush’s Africom agenda. It is more about protecting American interests than supporting Africa.

Professor Ali Mazrui a reputable African scholar in his book The Africans claims that almost everything that has gone wrong in Africa can be attributed to Western colonialism. An extremist view one might say but certainly something worth considering.

But did Africa really misunderstand Africom and its mission? Can we trust Gen Ward when he says “The key aim of Africom is to build the capacity of African countries for security and peacekeeping”

Why did most African countries resist Africom? Was it the right way to go? Will Africa really come under threats from Al Qaeda if it accepted to host the US military base?
Or have we missed a great opportunity to develop our military and defense capabilities as well as improve peacekeeping missions around the continent.

Is Africa up for the toss?

The decisive stand of African leaders is commendable. This is a good day for African patriotism but will we live to regret it?

Obama, Clinton and super delegates

Former Vermont Governor and 2004 presidential hopeful Howard Dean is the chairman of the Democratic National Committee


by Etse Sikanku


The 2008 democratic primary is far from over.

After several contests in different states nationwide one would have thought a clear front runner would have emerged by now.

Whiles this story line could be applied to the Republican Party, it isn’t the same for the Democrats. Barack Obama currently leads Hilary Clinton in the delegate count 1,262 to 1,213 according to CNN’s election center. A candidate needs 2,025 to win the nomination.

Many political pundits have predicted that none of the candidates is likely to get to that number before the Democratic Convention in Denver. What this means is that superdelaegates are more than likely to determine the outcome of this contest.

However the questions that continues to bog many observers is whether it is fair to allow a group of so called super delegates to determine the outcome of a contest regardless the results of the popular vote.

While some have argued that the super delegates should go ahead and vote for whoever wins the popular vote others do not agree. They contend that this will make the existence of the super delegates null and void since they will only be parroting the views of the outcome of the contest.
The opposing view is that superdelagates should vote with their conscience.


It is amazing how these two views have been split on candidate-support lines. Most Obama supporters side with the position that calls for super delegates to vote according to the popular vote whiles most supporters of Clinton prefer delegates to vote according to their own will. This is because of the projection that Obama could win the popular vote whiles Clinton has the urge with the super delegates.

Some questions that have come up out of these two stands are: who determines the winner of the popular vote? Is it the person with the highest number of pledged delegates or the candidate who won the most votes? What about the unfair influence of Iowa and New Hampshire? There are also questions of a ‘civil war’ or pandemonium in the Democratic Party if someone other than the winner of the caucuses and primaries is selected as it is likely the voters will feel short changed.

It is amazing how winding the rules are. Why not go according to the simple majority system. In Ghana candidates have to win their party’s nomination by a certain percentage and the process is not as cumbersome as this. In the last delegates conference of the ruling New Patriotic Party (N.P.P) the winner of the contest did not meet the 50% plus requirement. However the second candidate conceded and that ended everything.

To avoid any feud in the party Clinton and Obama should work out a compromise else the wrangling that may come out of this contest will end up playing well for their opponents-the Republicans.

This is a situation no true blue wants to contemplate.

What are your predictions for today's primaries in Wisconsin? Can Obama continue his winning streak?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Must Reads

Folks!

Good Day to you all wherever you are. For those following the US primaries, here are a some links to some "must reads". This is courtsey The Politico. Here are some of the stories you shouldn't miss:

Economist blog

Clinton forces to make race an issue

Obama brand goes global

Obama cons Edwards

For an update on Bush's trip to Africa:

Bush spends more time with Kufuor

Bush offers more help

For the latest on what's happening in Africa:

Bush just had to visit Africa

Rice meets Annan

America on Zimbabwe

What about the Kenyan situation?

The world lends help

Kibaki will not bow to outside pressure

If you have any updates or information making the rounds please don't forget to send them in or send a comment!

Earth: thoughts and reflections


by Nana Kofi Oppong-Damoah

Looking into the world now, it is not at all difficult to come up with a lot of issues that are of concern. While the biological scientists are concerned about the effects of poisonous gas emissions and global warming, Chinese authorities are concerned with sustaining their recent rates of impressive economic growth.

African Heads Of States just finished the African Union Summit, where, believe it or not, despite the conflict in Darfur and the grave human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, it was considered prudent that the issue to be given the most attention was the debate on the question of whether the unification of Africa should adopt the gradualist approach the European Union has successfully used or it should adopt the much more radical approach, as proposed by the Libyan leader- 'Brother' Col. Muama Al Gadhafi.

The Bush administration in the United States seems pre-occupied with what many, such as Noam Chomsky¹ describe as an attempt to protect its hegemony while the democrats within that same country are acting as their republican counterparts; rallying each other to become the official candidate for the 2008 presidential elections.

All these issues are important to the actors concerned with them in various quarters but to me, I am most concerned about the enemies the American nation seems to be making for itself in its attempts to protect herself against the so-called international terrorists.

It is true that the events of September 11 were brute, rude, and barbaric and that they should be condemned in no uncertain terms by every member of the human race. As the president of America rightly put it in the immediate aftermath of the events, "it was an attack on the civilized world and in general an attack on they rights of freedom, justice and the principles democracy."

However, with as a semi- literate, who happens to have the minutest information, I wish to sound a note of caution to the only superpower in the world currently ,that its actions seem to border on the edge a little bit. As one of the maxims employed in the judicial phenomena of equity goes, “he who comes to equity must come with clean hands” and since it can be proven that America , especially its notorious “the agency” (the CIA) doesn’t have clean hands, I believe it is only fair that it learns to moderate its push for equity before nature.

The current actions of the United States seem to assert its belief in the saying that “the strong is never powerful enough unless it is able to convert might to right and obedience to duty”² and that I believe is a very wrong notion. Respect is won and not commanded.

The foreign policy of the United States of America is very much to blame for its (America's) current problems in a way. The policy has been to use anyone at anytime to achieve desired wants and dump them as soon as their usefulness is done with or their efficiency is found questionable. In doing so, there have been times when grave human rights abusers have been praised as worthy leaders and murderers have been seen to provide “much needed stability and peace in the long run.” ( George bush Snr.)

A typical example is Saddam Hussein who was recently executed in Iraq . In the year 1989, George Bush Snr, declared that “normal relations between the United States and Iraq (which was then ruled by Saddam) would serve the longer- term interests and promote stability in both the gulf and the Middle East just a little bit over a year after Saddam Hussein had gassed thousands of Kurds to death and gone to war against Iran.

Later, when he Saddam Hussein had outlived his usefulness in the eyes of American policy makers and overstepped his boundaries, America declared war against him. Osama Bin Laden was also trained by the CIA for use in Afghanistan against the soviet forces. He was trained in sophisticated terror methods and now he has turned against his masters.

He is like fire, "good servant and a bad master". According to Cooley, John (Pluto, 1999, pp 11,54) Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, one of the criminals who the United States government was protecting and had been slipped into the country had his followers attempt to bomb the world trade center in february1993 using methods he had been taught, once again, by “the agency”. Now those are not exactly clean hands are they?

America is not only guilty on the military and tactical front. Even if one chooses to ignore the support the American government once gave to the apartheid regime in South Africa (a regime that killed over 1.5 million blacks and left damages totaling more than 60 billion dollars), and also overlook other embarrassing episodes such as the cases of Manuel Y.Noriega and others, on the Trade and International Relations front, America is also stinking guilty of violations of international codes and treaties.

The principle of Internal Sovereignty is one that is accepted globally and there are treaties in place for extradition of criminals in any part of the world to any other part of the world. What business then were American Secret Service Agents conducting in Eastern Europe in 2004 abducting nationals of other countries and sending them to Guantanamo Bay ?

That aside, in the early part of the twentieth century, precisely within the first five years of the century, when global warming was a phenomena that was eating up the minds of so many countries. Thus in a rare effort of solidarity and global concern for an issue, the Kyoto treaty was drawn up. All major emitting countries signed and even the ‘evil’ China signed. However, the mighty superpower rubbed the noses of all the others in it by refusing to sign it but rather forming the Climate Change Science Program (CCSP), a travesty that was to regulate emissions in the United States to ensure that through ‘ways and means’, emission rates in the country could grow by 14% annually. In my country, there is an adage that “the impotent man is at peace with himself and all others until his impotence is mentioned.

Then whomever bothered to mention it faces his wrath.” Bearing in mind that most of the third world countries have agrarian economies that are mostly dependent on the natural environment which is being polluted by these same emissions, isn’t it worthy to mention that these countries are likely to harbor ill feelings against the ‘prince’ of worldly power and influence?

It is worth noting that the effects of such actions are grave on the lives of some under privileged people. British Broadcasting Corporation reported on the 30th of July, 2007 in the 7:00 am (G.m.t) news broadcast on its world service via radio that in a new survey, scientist have found out that the number of annual hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean has doubled from four(4) during the 1900–1930 period to eight(8) in the 2000–2007 period. What’s more, human actions such as emissions that cause global climate change are the main causes of such events. If the recent Asian Tsunamis and Hurricanes are anything to go by, can we estimate the number of people who have and will suffer by such actions of a global superpower?

With regards to violations of international codes of ethics and regulations once again, the United Nations has five permanent members of the Security Council that can veto any move by any country and such decisions by convention are respected worldwide. The United Nations works to promote global peace and is an organization that comprises of almost all the countries in the world. As such, one would expect that all nations will respect all decisions of this body whether it suits them or not. But once again ‘The Prince’ has defied this agreement.

Whenever the Security Council moves to take punitive actions against Israel or any ally of the United States , that action is vetoed by the U.S. and is respected by all. However when the United States’ decision to invade the nations of Iraq and Afghanistan were vetoed by France and Russia, our royal and mighty ‘Prince’ disrespected these conventions and went ahead to implement its will. That action, apart from heading the United Nations its own head because it effectively questioned the status and power of the organization, also set a very bad precedent for the world ; one that can eventually lead to a world war.

The above chronicle of events is but a little of the actions of the United States that, to me, threatens its own survival. Undoubtedly, the United States is a nation I love myself. It is a land of opportunities and freedom, one whose existence challenges all other nations to strive to achieve more. However, some of these actions leave much to be desired. I believe that it needs to change a bit from these policies and restructure to sustain its life and importance. In his book “The Prince”, Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) stated, that “the prince should have the people on his side; if the contrary is true, there is no help in adverse moments” and that is what I seek to say in this piece. The metaphor of the prince which I have employed extensively in this article refers to the American nation and its foreign as well as national defense policies. As at now, it seems to be making a lot of valid and potent enemies. And for that, I more than fear for ‘The Prince’ in the dark days which will definitely come.

I must however employ a caveat to state that the views I express in this article are not static. These are my convictions as at today the 31st of July 2007 with respect to the information I have at hand. Solomon, who is said to be the wisest man ever to have lived on the face of the earth once said that “a wise man changes his mind sometimes” so I admit that as I grow academically and socially I may change my views on this issue but for now, here they are.

Concluding, I will urge the policy makers of the current paradise on earth to go back to the declaration that proclaimed their very independence and rediscover the truth in these words; “We hold these truths as self evident, that all men are created equal and are endowed with certain inalienable rights.” and respect it. National security and national peace are important. But truth rules above all. Human life must be paramount in all things and the protection of all human life, all of it and not just American lives must be the prime objectives of all policies.

Earth: thoughts and reflections





by Nana Kofi Oppong-Damoah



Looking into the world now, it is not at all difficult to come up with a lot of issues that are of concern. While the biological scientists are concerned about the effects of poisonous gas emissions and global warming, Chinese authorities are concerned with sustaining their recent rates of impressive economic growth.

African Heads Of State just finished the African Union Summit, where believe it or not, despite the conflict in Darfur and the grave human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, it was considered prudent that the issue to be given the most attention was the debate on the question of whether the unification of Africa should adopt the gradualist approach the European Union has successfully used or it should be much more radical, as proposed by the Libyan leader- 'Brother' Col. Muama Gadhafi.

The Bush administration in the United States seems pre-occupied with what many, such as Noam Chomsky¹ describe as an attempt to protect its hegemony while the democrats within that same country are acting as their republican counterparts; rallying each other to become the official candidate for the 2008 presidential elections.

All these issues are important to the actors concerned with them in various quarters but to me, I am most concerned about the enemies the American nation seems to be making for itself in its attempts to protect herself against the so-called international terrorists.

It is true that the events of September 11 were brute, rude and barbaric and that they should be condemned in no uncertain terms by every member of the human race. As the president of America rightly put it in the immediate aftermath of the events, "it was an attack on the civilized world and in general an attack on they rights of freedom, justice and the principles democracy".

However, I with my little semi- literate mind and the minute information I possess wish to sound a note of caution to the only superpower in the world currently ,that its actions seem to bother on the edge a little bit. As one of the maxims employed in the judicial phenomena of equity goes, “he who comes to equity must come with clean hands” and since it can be proven that America , especially its notorious “the agency” (the CIA) doesn’t have clean hands, I believe it is only fair that it learns to moderate its push for equity before nature.

The current actions of the United States seem to assert its belief in the saying that “the strong is never powerful enough unless it is able to convert might to right and obedience to duty”² and that I believe is a very wrong notion. Respect is won and not commanded.

The foreign policy of the United States of America is very much to blame for its current problems in a way. The policy has been to use anyone at anytime to achieve desired wants and dump them as soon as their usefulness is done with or their efficiency is questionable. In doing so, there have been times when grave human rights abusers have been praised as worthy leaders and murderers have been seen to provide “much needed stability and peace in the long run.” ( George bush Snr.)

A typical example is Saddam Hussein who was recently executed in Iraq . In the year 1989, George Bush Snr, declared that “normal relations between the United States and Iraq (which was then ruled by Saddam) would serve the longer- term interests and promote stability in both the gulf and the Middle East just a little bit over a year after Saddam Hussein had gassed thousands of Kurds to death and gone to war against Iran.

Later, when he Saddam Hussein had outlived his usefulness in the eyes of American policy makers and overstepped his boundaries, America declared war against him. Osama Bin Laden was also trained by the CIA for use in Afghanistan against the soviet forces. He was trained in sophisticated terror methods and now he has turned against his masters.

He is like fire, "good servant and a bad master". According to Cooley, John (Pluto, 1999, pp 11,54) Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, one of the criminals who the United States government was protecting and had been slipped into the country had his followers attempt to bomb the world trade center in february1993 using methods he had been taught, once again, by “the agency”. Now those are not exactly clean hands are they?

Not only is America guilty on the military and tactical front. Even if one chooses to ignore the support the American government once gave to the apartheid regime in South Africa (a regime that killed over 1.5 million blacks and left damages totaling more than 60 billion dollars), and also overlook other embarrassing episodes such as the cases of Manuel Y.Noriega and others, on the Trade and International Relations front, America is also stinking guilty of violations of international codes and treaties.

The principle of Internal Sovereignty is one that is accepted globally and there are treaties in place for extradition of criminals in any part of the world to any other part of the world. What business then were American Secret Service Agents conducting in Eastern Europe in 2004 abducting nationals of other countries and sending them to Guantanamo Bay ?

That aside, in the early part of the twentieth century, precisely within the first five years of the century, when global warming was a phenomena that was eating up the minds of so many countries. Thus in a rare effort of solidarity and global concern for an issue, the Kyoto treaty was drawn up. All major emitting countries signed and even the ‘evil’ China signed. However, the mighty superpower rubbed the noses of all the others in it by refusing to sign it but rather forming the Climate Change Science Program (CCSP), a travesty that was to regulate emissions in the United States to ensure that through ‘ways and means’, emission rates in the country could grow by 14% annually. In my country, there is an adage that “the impotent man is at peace with himself and all others until his impotence is mentioned.

Then whoever bothered to mention it faces his wrath.” Bearing in mind that most of the third world countries have agrarian economies that are mostly dependent on the natural environment which is being polluted by these same emissions, isn’t it worthy to mention that these countries are likely to harbor ill feelings against the ‘prince’ of worldly power and influence?

It is worth noting that the effects of such actions are grave on the lives of some under privileged people. British Broadcasting Corporation reported on the 30th of July, 2007 in the 7:00 am (G.m.t) news broadcast on its world service via radio that in a new survey, scientist have found out that the number of annual hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean has doubled from four(4) during the 1900–1930 period to eight(8) in the 2000–2007 period. What’s more, human actions such as emissions that cause global climate change are the main causes of such events. If the recent Asian Tsunamis and Hurricanes are anything to go by, can we estimate the number of people who have and will suffer by such actions of a global superpower?

With regards to violations of international codes of ethics and regulations once again, the United Nations has five permanent members of the Security Council that can veto any move by any country and such decisions by convention are respected worldwide. The United Nations works to promote global peace and is an organization that comprises of almost all the countries in the world. As such, one would expect that all nations will respect all decisions of this body whether it suits them or not. But once again ‘The Prince’ has defied this agreement.

Whenever the Security Council moves to take punitive actions against Israel or any ally of the United States , that action is vetoed by the U.S. and is respected by all. However when the United States’ decision to invade the nations of Iraq and Afghanistan were vetoed by France and Russia, our royal and mighty ‘Prince’ disrespected these conventions and went ahead to implement its will. That action, apart from heading the United Nations its own head because it effectively questioned the status and power of the organization, also set a very bad precedent for the world ; one that can eventually lead to a world war.

The above chronicle of events is but a little of the actions of the United States that, to me, threatens its own survival. Undoubtedly, the United States is a nation I love myself. It is a land of opportunities and freedom, one whose existence challenges all other nations to strive to achieve more. However, some of these actions leave much to be desired. I believe that it needs to change a bit from these policies and restructure to sustain its life and importance. In his book “The Prince”, Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) stated, that “the prince should have the people on his side; if the contrary is true, there is no help in adverse moments” and that is what I seek to say in this piece. The metaphor of the prince which I have employed extensively in this article refers to the American nation and its foreign as well as national defense policies. As at now, it seems to be making a lot of valid and potent enemies. And for that, I more than fear for ‘The Prince’ in the dark days which will definitely come.

I must however employ a caveat to state that the views I express in this article are not static. These are my convictions as at today the 31st of July 2007 with respect to the information I have at hand. Solomon, who is said to be the wisest man ever to have lived on the face of the earth once said that “a wise man changes his mind sometimes” so I admit that as I grow academically and socially I may change my views on this issue but for now, here they are.

Concluding, I will urge the policy makers of the current paradise on earth to go back to the declaration that proclaimed their very independence and rediscover the truth in these words; “We hold these truths as self evident, that all men are created equal and are endowed with certain inalienable rights.” and respect it. National security and national peace are important. But truth rules above all. Human life must be paramount in all things and the protection of all human life, all of it and not just American lives must be the prime objectives of all policies.