The three shot latte has kicked in. So has the third eye. Here is next week’s news for those who won’t have time to read the papers next week.

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Burma Myanmar announces name change

Myanmar has decreed a new name change. Again. Since the win by Win, Ne Win, in 1962 over the government you know as U Nu, Myanmar, taken from the short-form name Myanma Naingngandaw, or Myanma to be literally correct, has changed it name once from Burma, or Bama or Bamar as it is known colloquially, to the Union of Myanmar, pronounced pjìdàunzṵ mjəmà nàinŋàndɔ̀, or WTF for short.

The leader of the artist country previously known as Burma, Senior General Than Shwe (the man with the tan), announced the new name at a special event at the capital of Rangoon Yangon Pyinmana Naypyidaw. Senior General Than Shwe, also the Minister of Defence, Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council, Commander and Chief of the Defense Services, and Super Duper Admiral Main Big Dick with the Stick, announced the name as Nothing, or Nṵjəmàntàiŋɔ, or just nothing. Meaning “nothing”. Best way of spelling is ”                      ” and pronounced ”                       “.

Big Dick Shwe made the announcement at a large public execution celebration held at the capital Shitty City of the kings. Big Dick Shwe said that having no name will liberate ”                  ” as it is impossible to declare sanctions against nothing. And even more difficult to invade. A journalist who asked whether this nothing is also related to morality of the government, freedom of people and economic growth of the country could not be reached for comment. Or be reached at all. He disappeared into ”                    “. They dig deep graves in ”                    “.

Big Dick Shwe did disclose that the Military Junta (pronounced åşsħΦļəś) did consider changing their name to the United States of America but that it did not believe that it would be a major move forward under the current global political climate. His exact words were, “Why would I swap my Lada for a Trabant?” He continued by saying that they also prefer to attack their own people without any reason and don’t need to invade other countries to achieve this desired outcome. A collective roll of the eyes could be seen across the whole of Southeast Asia.

North Korea to have multi-party democratic elections

North Korea shocked the world today when it announced the first multi-party democratic elections to be held in North Korea in centuries. If not forever. Chairman Kim Jong-il made the announcement during the Mass Games glorifying his life as the leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. It was attended by his 100,000 most fearful loyal subjects. The elections will be contested by three parties – or as Chairman Kim Jong-Il said, “One more than the Americans”. It is unclear whether he was aware of the Libertarians and the Green Party. Or if Americans are aware of these two parties.

The three parties to contest the elections are The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Party, The Democratic Republic of Korea People’s Party, The People’s Party of the Democratic Republic of Korea. Together they will be known as the Three Socially Trivial Organizations Of Generally Exploited Societies (or the 3 STOOGES). All North Koreans will have the option to vote for any of the three parties. They also have the option to not vote. And they get a free prison sentence with option 2.

In a move that Chairman Kim Jong-il calls “a major leap forward in the evolution of democracy”, a minor deviation from traditional democracies will be part and parcel of the Korean democratic elections. All three parties will be represented by the same people. Each party will receive the same list of people from the Fatherland Accreditation & Representation Team (FART). The parties can decide where they put them on their electoral list. As long as they put them in the same order provided by FART. They can change the header. Almost. As long as it is the same header as provided by FART.

Chairman Kim Jong-il also announced that he will from now on be known as the Uber Chairman, seeing that his now very dead father already took the name of Eternal President. The word “damn” could be heard right after he made this announcement.

Mugabe says he is sorry

From the official Zimbabwean government controlled news agency – the Zimbabwean Information Panel & Intelligence Trust (ZIP-IT): President Robert Mugabe today said that he was sorry. It wasn’t clear what he was sorry about, but is it newsworthy that he said it in any case. We think it was because he forgot to water the plants.

My President kisses this ass 

In a separate development, the Zimbabwean police today arrested Zimbabwe on charges that it is undermining the President of Zimbabwe, Robert “Dick” Mugabe. Police spokesperson, Pa Pitt, said “It is much easier to just arrest the whole of Zimbabwe than continuing with our current practice of indiscriminate arrests. Our police farce, I mean force, is already stretched and we just can’t arrest people fast enough.” Pa Pitt said that the new Constitutional Rules and Accreditation for the Police (CRAP) law “will help cut down on bicycle use as we can’t afford the tyres anymore”. The new law was first mentioned in the Presidential memo known as My African Dictator (MAD). Chaos ensued right after the CRAP law came into force as the police kept on arresting themselves as part of the arrest of all Zimbabweans. President Mugabe introduced a new law to release the police through his ROBERT MUGABE law – Real Oppressive Bastard for Early Release Time: May U Get A Bloody Ending. It declared all military and police personal as non-Zimbabweans and above the law. Presidential spokesperson and brother of Pa, Stew Pitt, said “The puppets of the Big Dick is above the law. And that isn’t too difficult with the law being trampled in the dust”. Journalist were shocked that Stew Pitt actually made sense.

New UN study find Russians to be least corrupt

The UN released their latest study regarding the state of the world economy. The yearly report analyses the latest global development challenges and this year focused on the general health of the world economy. The 2008 report was titled International Trade – Society Under Constant Knowledge & Economic Depression (IT-SUCKED). Apparently the global economy is not doing well.

In a surprise development, Russia was ranked 1st out of 205 countries as the least corrupt country in the world. They were ranked at number 205 in 2007. Russian President Medvedev, not a tennis player, said that it was proof that Russia “is the best country in the world”. Commentators noted that he wasn’t as eloquent as Putin.

In an unrelated story, the UN Research and Empirical Agency for Learning (UN-REAL) was caught in an oil-for-food oh-the-fool controversy. The agency was researching the state of the world economy when they allegedly accepted bribes to influence the research findings. The agency was alerted to irregularities when they noticed that the Russia section included too many unscientific statements such as “wow”, “awesome”, “best ever”, “gnarly” and “wickedly cool”. The intern who wrote the piece, a surfer from Australia, have been suspended until further notice.

US Congress saves US airlines

In another bail-out plan, The White House and the US Congress announced drastic steps in an attempt to rescue the flagging US airlines industry. The steps were outlined in a new report called the Congressional Report on Airline Sustainability Hearings (CRASH). The hearings were initially delayed after most Representatives couldn’t attend the first meeting due to flight delays and cancellations. A number of Congressmen also didn’t have the $25 to pay for their extra baggage. Representative Do Nafin said that it was unfair to charge Congress extra for baggage as “we all carry baggage already and those cash envelopes aren’t that light you know”. Another Representative, Sting Kerr, was overheard saying that “the gravy train is so much quicker”. The new plans outlined in CRASH included charging passengers for landing, planes loaded in commuter rail instead of flying, pay-as-you-breathe slots for oxygen masks, and auctioning safety vest before take-off. The airline coalition, Airline Sillyness Strategy for Humongous Overheads, Legal Excuses and Stupidity (ASSHOLES), said that “it’s about time that politicians listen to us. They should remember who controls their luggage when they fly. And who cleans the toilets before foot tapping at airports.” A spokesperson for passenger rights, New Airline Institute for Luggage and Experience Deficiency (NAILED), responded by saying that “it’s just hot air meeting thin air”.

Republicans lays out deficit plan

In a bold move to try and be relevant again, the Republican Party denied that it was developing a new economic policy that will include the US changing its name.  GOP leader Michael Steele (pronounced My-Kill Steal) said that, “we are a proud nation and won’t do something silly and stupid like that”. He chuckled when reminded of the 2004 Presidential vote.

Mr Steal did acknowledge that they considered various options, including a name change, to be able to finance the budget deficit under a new Republican Party plan to get rid of the deficit. Apparently they realized ignoring it won’t do as it just won’t go away no matter how much you laugh at it or roll your eyes. Steal said they were under the impression that the US won’t have to pay back the debt to China or the Saudis if they changed the name. “How can they make us pay if the contract is under the name of the USA and we are known as something else like America or The Mighty One?”, he said. He said that Uncle Dick Chainy Cheney told him it won’t work. His idea of going under a new name and under the witness protection program would also not work. He is, however, considering this as a personal option after he leaves his current employment as the first African American leader of the Republican Party.

Steal said that they have instead come up with a much better plan that takes the best of the free market and mixes it with the land of the free. “A bit of freedom for all can go a long way,” was the specific words he used. Instead, he said, the Republican Party has decided to sell the naming rights of states to the corporate sector in a similar way that the NFL runs their stadiums. The initiatives will be led by the GOP-led State Technical Under-secretary of Property and International Declarations (STUPID). Early state name changes include T-eXxon-ASs for Texas, Ben & Jerry’s Taste of Vermont and Kentucky Fried (Virgina is being sought after by a cheap South African wine producer). Steal said that they have already told Mexico that New Mexico is not for sale. They also turned down the Chinese offer for naming the whole of the US “Little China Market”. Steal confirmed that they have yet to receive a single enquiry for either New Jersey and Utah. Not even when they offered to pay for someone to take them.

In another leaf taken from the corporate sector, the Republican Party’s new policy include changing the current Federal system to a Franchise system. The initiative has been dubbed the Federation – Working On Renaming Designations (F-WORD). Each state will be sold as a franchise. Steal said that they have yet to figure out the finer details of what people can do with the franchises, but that they might be able to “sell donuts or hamburgers or maybe even name a potato or orange after each franchise”. A collective roll of the eyes could be seen across the whole of the Americas.

The Republican Party also announced a new financial plan for when they take over again, the New Order: Monetary Obligations for National Economic Yield (NO MONEY), to stimulate* the economy. The NO MONEY plan include drastic measures to increase the budget income without too much of a burden on the expenses side. Some of these measures are:

1. A collection box at the White House. A collection box next to the visitor’s comment book at the White House. Heads of State visiting the White House will be asked to make a donation to their favourite White House charity. They can choose from the White House International Treasury Executor: Government Utilities Yield (WHITE GUY), Dick Cheney’s charity the New Objective: Here Everybody’s A Real Terrorist (NO HEART), and Backhanded Independent Gains: Overt Increased Liquidity (BIG OIL).

2. Dick Cheney to be switched off at night to save on electricity. Steal was especially proud of this step as he called it the Republican Party’s “green legacy”. They strengthened their environmental credentials when they mentioned that the Republican Party head office will also be powered by wind power (hot air) from now on and can’t do any environmental damage (or any damage for that matter) while being “switched off”.

3. New drilling concessions to oil companies. Steal announced that new concession will be given to selected oil companies to drill for oil in the Rose Garden at the White House. The first concession was given to a little known company called Go West: Big Utilities for Social Humiliation (GW BUSH). Ownership of the company is unclear at this stage and only list Real Objective Voice Enterprise (ROVE) as the PR (Political Relic) company handling GW BUSH communications. They could not be reached for comments.

4. Refocus on military spending. Military spending will be tightened under a new plan put forward by the “Shadow” Secretary of Defence, Ivino Eyedee. The plan, named National Obligation: Government Earnings And Redistribution (NO GEAR), will focus on the military equipment for soldiers in the field in Iraq. Eyedee denied that troops will not get the equipment needed to protect them and called the measures “a reversed increase in the procurement procedure for the acquiring of protective garments and other miscellaneous products, goods and services”. Journalist were seen working until late in the evening trying to figure out what the hell that meant.

5. Changes in election procedures. Steal, with rare support from the current Democratic powered Congress, announced drastic changes to the election process that will save millions of dollars – if not tens of thousands. Or “lotsa money honey”, as he called it. Steal and Speaker Pelosi released a joint statement that said the “two-pronged approach makes it easier for people to participate directly in the democratic process and bring some much needed cash into the economy”. Journalist were stunned by the clarity of that statement. They could almost understand it.

Firstly, at a Congressional election level, seats will be sold on a lottery basis at $100 dollars a ticket. Anyone can buy a ticket as long as they are an American citizen or if they have loads of cash they can buy a ticket at a premium price of $1 million per ticket. The national draw will be done on the first Sunday of each November – after church services but before Desperate Housewives. This was a compromise between Steal and Pelosi that threatened to derail negotiations.

The second improvement in the election process relates to the Senate elections. Or better stated – ex-elections. There will be no elections. US companies will participate in a bidding process for the right to nominate their own Senator. Steal said the “removal of the middle man will make the whole system much more efficient and open”. The middle man being the American voter. But the public will still be able to show their support for the Senators by buying products with the Senators faces on it. For example, milk cartons will have the face and name of the Senator on it with the slogan, “Have you ever seen your Senator?”. Although in principle only US companies can bid, Saudi Arabian and Chinese companies have been given permission to participate as they already own half of the US.

* Certain Republicans were seen giggling whenever Steal mentioned the word “stimulate”. Apparently some female White House interns were seen rolling their eyes.

Uzbekistan to privatize corruption

The Uzbekistan state department dealing with corruption, the General Regime of Accounting for Fund Transfers (GRAFT), announced today that all government corruption will be privatized. Minister of GRAFT, the Honorable Itaka da Muni, announced the decision at the yearly Banquet for Respected International Buy-off Executives (BRIBE).

Minister Itaka Damani at the announcement

Minister Itaka da Muni at the announcement

Minister Itaka da Muni said it showed the willingness and commitment of the Uzbekistan government to clamp down on uncontrolled and rampant corruption. He continued by saying that, “this is the end of tax-dodging corruption as you know it. We will be able to tax corruption as it should be by organizing corruption into a single department”. A key part of the policy is that all corrupt officials and the public at large will have to register to practice corruption in future. No corruption will be allowed without a government approved licence. Of course, they could take the option of paying GRAFT a bribe to be excluded from the registering process. Minister Da Muni acknowledged that there were still a few wrinkles that needed to be ironed out.

UK crime down sharply

Crime in the UK has dropped sharply over the first few months of the year. Minister of Police, Weir Pafetik (Welsh), said that the government policies introduced at the end of 2008 is starting to show some real results. He said that, “We kept these policies secret, but it proves our hard work is finally showing results”. He unveiled the policy, the highly confidential State Taxes Utilized for Fighting Felonies and Economic Depression (STUFFED), at a ceremony at Downing Street. (Recently renamed Down Street to cut back on letters and highlight the general health of the economy). Minister Pafetik said the policy had loads of stickers on to show how secret and confidential it was. He also acknowledges that he was forced to unveil it after Prime Minister Brown left it on the London Underground while visiting his gran.

The STUFFED policy was based on the very simple principle of supply and demand. Minister Pafetik said that, “We knew that if we can cut the supply off then there will be no demand and therefore no crime”. The supply in this case is the wealth and goods the average citizen owns in the UK. By slowly but surely strangling the economy to death, the government was able to make each and every UK citizen so poor that there was nothing left to steal or kill for.

Prime Minister Brown released a statement saying that this is more proof that his “tax-them-to-death” strategy when he was Treasurer is at last showing results.

The downside of the success of the STUFFED policy is that millions of criminals will now go on state benefits. Prime Minister Brown shrugged when asked about this and said, “We are what our policy says we are”. He refused to explain any further.

Prime Minister Brown did admit to rumors that he is currently considering removing himself as Prime Minister. He said that he is doing it “for the good of the country”. He went further by saying that there will not be a direct replacement as the government is currently considering outsourcing the role of government to either India or China. “The UK just can’t compete anymore and we have to be realistic that we need to make changes to ensure we remain competitive in the world political market.”

Tony Blair could be seen rolling his eyes, but most of Britain did notice as there was footie on the telly and the announcement was done on a Thursday when they are all in the pub anyway.

Zuma in hospital

Just in: President Zuma has been taken to hospital for urgent lip surgery. Presidential spokesperson, Gota Noklu, said that President Zuma developed a serious infection after kissing the asses of both COSATU and the SACP in “such a very short period of time”. Noklu said that it was serious as the President can lose the use of his lips and that the President will not be kissing any more asses until fully healed.

In an unrelated development, there were general celebrations in the streets all over South Africa with slogans such as “Read My Lips – No More Blades” and “From Your Lips To Vavi’s Butt”. Celebrations quiet down when people were told that President Zuma might still be able to lip read and blow kisses.

In a seperate political health update, All Most Health or Care hospital announced that the operations on Zuma and Zille went without a hitch. Known as the ZZ-Top operations, Zuma successfully had a brain implant and Zille a personality transplant. Doctor Ai Kutya, said that it was unfortunate that Marthinus Van Schalkwyk was not as lucky. The recent backbone transplant and morals implant both rejected Van Schalkwyk.

New sports announced for 2012 Olympics

London used the hype created by the less than recent Beijing Olympics to announce the new sports that will be introduced at the 2012 London Olympics. London Olympics for Special Entertainment and Recreation (LOSER) spokesperson, Sir Moannallot, said that “the new sports will show the world the true British contribution to sport and the world. We know that we are the world champions in these sports and we hope to build on our medal success at Beijing 2008”. The new sports include long distance queueing; breakfast swimming in fat, oil and lard; wrestling with bad breath; beach volleyball without a ball but with long socks and a rolled-up newspaper; diving like the influence of a lost colonial power; canoeing the flooded streets in a bowler hat because it always rains; sprint for the dole; and the semi-modern pentathlon to include M25 gridlock dodging gymnastics, hunt the immigrant, and knife fencing with a yob. Some of the events will take place at the Superiority Complex. London did consider bringing cricket and rugby into the Olympics but Sir Moannallot said that “we just couldn’t find any Englishmen who are good enough and we are really sick and tired of losing against the South Africans and Aussies”. Sir Moannallot said that Great Britain is proud to bring their own “unique flavor to the Olympics. This will be as exciting as our cooking”.

Painless circumcision

Scientists today found a new method to bring smiles to the faces of millions of young boys and tears to the eyes of grown men – painless circumcision. Russian researcher Ayi Kutof from the Observatory for Unilateral Circumcisional Health (OUCH) said that he believes that the old method “is just a rip-off”. He said that he can’t take all the credit and a special “thanks for the tip” to prof. Klippion the new method. When asked to go into more detail on what the new method might be, Ayi Kutof said that they are still trying to “cut through the” red tape and “that’s a sore point” but that the new procedure is “cutting edge”.

Nigerian 419 scams surpasses oil income

Nigerian 419 email scams has officially overtaken oil as the single largest export product. Minister for Socio-Political Order and Outside Finances (SPOOF), Taika Kash, said that “it is crucial for the Nigerian economy that we diversify our BOGUS* income streams. We can not rely on oil providing us with the only opportunities to RIP-OFF* foreigners”.

Minister Kash said that the new diversification of exports is part of the Nigerian government strategy to reduce their environmental impact. “Every email scam makes us less dependent on oil from the Niger Delta.” When asked what he meant, Minister Kash responded, “have you ever been to the Niger Delta area?” Minister Kash also announced plans to provide training courses for unemployed Nigerians to start their own small scale scam operations. “We will provide them with the training, computers and internet access to start their own scams”. Ministers Kash’s brother-in-law runs the training operations, but Minister Kash denied that he favored his family or that there is any truth in the rumors that people paid for training but never received any training. He said, “my brother-in-law, Runna Wey, is an honorable man and his business, Lessons for African Universities and National Direct Education in Refocusing International and National Graft (LAUNDERING), is known for the hard work they do all over the world. I just received an email from him telling me how hard he is working and that he requires another advance to complete the curriculum. It just shows how hard he works as he always needs more money”.

*After further investigations and pay-offs it was clarified that BOGUS stood for Buy-Off, Graft and Underhanded Strategies and RIP-OFF for Real International Potential: Overseas Financial Felonies. Both these strategies were identified after Minister Kash answered an email from a dying wife of the ex-President of the African Developmental Bank in Bamako. He apparently paid $500,000 to help the woman transfer $24 million dollars to his account. A letter from his bank informed him of the BOGUS transfers and that it was just a foreign RIP-OFF. But only after he paid the bank clerk for the information. Another transfer of $100,000 for the clerk to redo the transfer is currently in process. The clerk, Ura Sukka, told Minister Kash that the transfer is needed to implement the Bank Alliance Strategy for Transferring Accounts and Reversing Dollar Services (BASTARDS). Minister Kash then received a call from a branch manager, Cilli Naimes, informing him to come and pick him up the check in the Niger Delta area. Without any police involvement. Minister Kash said he hasn’t had the chance to pick up the check yet.

Shocking 20/20 religious expose

A shocking expose of religious groups in the US was done by 20/20. The first expose investigated a break-away Mormon sect in Utah that believed in monogamy. The sect leader, Wan Wyfe, denied allegations that he only had one wife and that he preached religious tolerance, respect for individual right and racial harmony. Wan Wyfe said “I deny that we are some group of happy people living normal lives. This is the type of rumor that gives sects all over the world a good name and we won’t tolerate that.

20/20 also showed a evangelical church where the Minister, Nou Maani, asked his congregation to not give him any money and that he was doing God’s work not for personal gain but because of his belief in God’s word. He denied the allegation when approached by the 20/20 team and said that “I have a responsibility towards my own life and greed and will not stand for the false allegation”. He also denied rumors that he is happily married and that he does not pay for prostitutes. “It is a disgusting rumor and I will not stand for these type of attacks on the evangelical right-wing churches”, he concluded.

In their last story on alleged religious mavericks, 20/20 investigated a radical fundamentalist Muslim cleric, Iluva Busch, who runs a Mosque that preaches love to Americans and all Westerners and who condemns terrorist attacks in any form. Imam Iluva Busch is alleged to have called off all jihads against Christian countries and Israel, and to have preached tolerance and love towards all religions in secret meetings at the Mosque where he teaches. Imam Busch refused to answer any questions, but a spokesperson for Imam Busch, Ilah-Ava Peece, said that the Imam has always been a radical and will not stand for the vicious rumors spread by the Western media. He refuse to respond to photo’s showing Imam Busch swimming in swimming trunks that looks like an Americans flag, having a laugh with woman wearing two-piece bathing costumes on the beach and Imam Iluva Busch reading The Satanic Verses.

20/20 stands by their allegation that “there are some pretty normal people out there in religious circles”.

A bumper addition. Can’t help it. Too much news going around I guess. Lost in Africa. And guess what. I am not touching US politics this week! Okay, maybe just a little…

1. Fighting corruption the Nigerian way

Oh Nigeria… Good old Nigeria decided to fight corruption. At last. Get rid of this plague that has been haunting this beautiful country. But it didn’t go according to plan. This week Nigeria’s anti-corruption police had to sack 11 of its own officials. Why? Because most of them lied about their academic credentials and one for trying to defraud a suspect. Or as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) called it “forgery and other fraudulent acts”.  I can think of another word that also uses a “F” and a “C” that might be a better way to describe the Nigerian anti-corruption efforts. I think these guys used to work as consultants for Jack Abramoff’s and worked as Tom Delay’s special advisers.

2. Parliamentary priviledges the Zimbabwean way

What a big week in Zimbabwe. The newly(ish) elected parliamentarians got to go to parliament for the first time. And it was meant to be a changing of the guards. You know. The MDC won the election. Even after loser Bob “I-Murder-Before-Breakfast” Mugabe tried his best to get his party to win. And it was going to be a big day. They had to vote for the Speaker of Parliament. Guess what Bob “Crazier-Than-Bush” Mugabe did? He arrested opposition politicians as they entered parliament to be sworn in. Mugabe’s ZANU-PF hoped that enough opposition politicians would get arrested so that they (the ZANU-PF) would have enough votes to elect the Speaker. And how sad is this? They still lost the vote. Enough ZANU-PF members voted for the opposition MDC. So the new Speaker is from the MDC. I think that these people were the same people who organized the FEMA response to Katrina.

3. Mugabe is a “…”

We all want to say it. Hell. Some of us have actually said it. But you can’t do that in Zimbabwe. A guy got arrested in Zimbabwe for describing Bob “I-Have-No-Morals” Mugabe as a “female genital organ”. In all fairness, I would do it as well. Chuck the guy in jail. I mean really. It is an insult to… hum… “female genital organs”. Here is the clincher. Guess what was the guy’s name? And I am not joking. His name is Pinas. I think these were the same guys who worked for the main-stream media from 2001 to around 2006 in the US. They got fired and some journalist actually started developing a backbone again.

4. OMG! I just switched you off! LOL!

This one puzzles me a bit. The Kenya Power and Lighting Company has introduced new cutting-edge technology to communicate a very third world thing. They are going to text people to tell them that their electricity will be cut thanks to “supply interruptions” – read, we’re outa juice. Now here is the three things that puzzles me. Firstly, why can’t they introduce some new technology to keep the electricity flowing? You know? Buy some new cables instead of the latest iPhone. Secondly, where the hell do you get the electricity to charge your phone? Do you have a long extension cord to a neighboring country with a steady supply? Lastly, how the hell can you send a text if the electricity is down? You know, everything shuts down. Even the towers sending the signals. But then. Logic shouldn’t be part of it right? I think the guys who worked on this plan were the same guys who works on the US energy efficiency and oil independence policies.

5. A trial leading nowhere

Looks like the ANC is pulling the trusted “good cop, bad cop” treatment on the judges looking into Zuma’s corruption trial. First Blade “Short-Shit” Nzimande climbed into the judges for investigating Zuma. Do remember that Blade has a casual relationship with justice. I mean, as the leader of the Communist Party, he has a very old-school communist way of looking at justice. Then Motlanthe came out defending the judges. Okay, I won’t even try to explain it, but according to party leaders these two positions are not at odds with the party line. No idea how that logic works. I know these guys worked for the Bush administration. Why? Because in a Scooter Libby type move, Blade also said he is not going to rule out the possibility of an arms deal amnesty as a way forward. Hello Scooter.

6. Circumcision not a rip-off

And you thought I was joking! They actually found a new way to do circumcision. But, to quote them, “the question that arose was how the procedure could be rolled out universally. The new method is called the ShangRing. I think it is very unfortunate that this is a Chinese inventor. I don’t think anything to do with circumcision should have the sound of a knife as part of its name – “Shang” (can you hear the ring as the knife cuts through the… hum… you know…). How does it work? I am not going to tell you. But if you know what mulesing is… It is something similar. I like the fact that Dr Marc Goldstein said that “Shang promises to be faster, safer and more acceptable to patients than conventional surgical circumcision methods”. I am sorry. No “Shang” will be more acceptable to the guy getting his willy cut. And how about this one by Dr Howard Kim, “The beauty of this device is its simple, innovative design”. Sorry Dr Kim. The ShangRing is not an iPod or iPhone. It is never going to take off. No pun intended.

There is no foreskin toothfairy

There is no foreskin toothfairy

7. What’s in a name?

It seems as if the Thai people are getting fed up with the corruption that is so rife in their government. And like all good people pissed off, they decided to take to the streets. And they protested and ranted and threw their toys. All for democracy. The People’s Alliance for Democracy has drawn the line and want change now. No more corruption. And that is what democrats everywhere would want – a democratic government free of corruption. And with a name like that it is clear they want new elections. Right? Wrong! They aren’t protesting to get new elections. Nope. They are protesting for a “new coup”! They want the military to take over again. Either the Thais just don’t get this democracy thing or something got seriously lost in translation.

8. Canadians are weird

At last. At last they broke one of the major crime mysteries in Canada. A crime that has Canadians on the edge of their seats. Choking on their blubber because of the audacity of this crime. The Canadian version of Capone. The thief of all thieves. You could lock it but he always found a way. No chains could hold him back. But they got this man who terrorized communities all across Moose country. Free. Free at last. They got him. Him. The bicycle thief. Yes. The bicycle thief. But not just a run-of-the-mill bicycle thief. No. They found over 3,000 bicycles. 3,000 bicycles. What the hell was he going to do with 3,000 bicycles? I don’t know. But then, it is Canada. I think he was planning on starting their version of NASCAR.

Be afraid...

Be afraid...

9. Just don’t answer the phone

You sit there in your lounge and the phone rings. Bloody phone. Interrupting American Idol. And who called? The dreaded telemarketer. So you do what every proud American does at least once a week. You hang up on the idiot who phoned. That’ll teach them. You just sat down and settled in for some more Simon Cowell – to see how high he can pull up his pants this time. And the phone rings again. It’s the telemarketer again. But this time they have a message for you. “If you don’t want to get contacted if somebody wins, then don’t put your name in it.  That was just such a girl thing to do. Wimp,” yelled the telemarketer to poor old Randall Whited. And then slammed the phone down. One mistake though. The telemarketer must have forgotten that this is America. In England you just shake your head and say, “How rude.” And then go back to watch EastEnders. But this is the US. Here you will get your ass sued baby. And that is just what Randall is thinking about. I guess it could have been worse. If Randall was in England he would have been called by a telemarketer in India shouting insults at the British version of curry. And you know you should never touch an Englishman and his curry. Mind you, I don’t think they would have understood each other in any case.

10. When Obama is right…

Remember when McCain and Bush laughed at Obama and his plan to get American troops out of Iraq in 16 months? To get a timetable for the pullout of the troops? Well, it seems as if John “100-Years-In-Iraq” McCain has to eat some major humble pie. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani called her bluff just a week after Condoleezza Rice said that America was only in Iraq on the invitation of the Iraqi government. And then the Iraqi government said, “Get the hell out”. And gave them a deadline. Come Condi, you said it yourself. You will leave when you are not wanted anymore. Message clear? Come on McCain? Get the message? You were wrong. And Obama was (and is) right. Now take a cue from the Iraqi pullout deadline and get yourself a pullout deadline. I call it November 2008.

Like I said. A bumper issue! Hope you had fun.

You know me. Pretty much a patriotic South African. Proud of our history. And deeply affected by Madiba – Nelson Mandela. I think the guy did an incredible job starting us off on the right track. Oh, we had a few other great leaders as well. But Madiba was our big daddy. Our Patriot. The John Adams of South Africa. The man who fought so hard to bring freedom to our little country down South. Just like John Adams and the other Patriots did over here in the US. (Oh yes, just like with the US, most of our subsequent leaders have been less “patriotic”, loved, reputable and effective as leaders than those original Founding Fathers.) So, I read with interest the recent flood of opinions regarding Nelson Mandela needing a special waiver to enter the US because he is still classified as a terrorist. As a South African I will refrain from commenting on whether he is a terrorist or not. That should be obvious. I will also refrain from blaming President Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney for this as that would be easy, but also opportunistic and a cheap shot. The fact is that President Mandela’s good friend President Bill Clinton had 8 years to undo this injustice. As did his partner Senator Clinton. I am more concerned with the policy behind this terror list and the message it sends to other “liberation” organizations and individuals across the world.

Nelson Mandela, and the African National Congress that he belonged to, were put on the list because the US government supported the Apartheid regime’s classification of the ANC as a terrorist organization. This indicated support of the Apartheid regime by the US government – both Republicans and Democrats. Again, I will refrain from discussing the Apartheid regime. I think we can all agree that it was a regime based on one of the most unjust and oppressive political systems in modern history. Really, take it from me and the people who suffered and died at the hands of that regime, they were not a nice bunch of guys to be associated with. Trust me, your mother will be most disappointed if you hung out with them.

On the other hand, the ANC was a peaceful organization for most of its history. It was established in 1912 in direct reaction to being excluded from having any political rights under the Union constitution of 1910. They remained an organization who believed in peaceful protest against the oppressive governments that gave no political rights to black South Africans. They did not even revert to violence when widows of black soldiers who died fighting in WWII received no pension whatsoever. It was only after 69 people were shot, mostly schoolchildren shot in the back, on 21 March 1960 in Sharpeville that the ANC got banned for calling a national stay-away campaign. Note, still no violence called for by the ANC – just a stay-away. It was only after more murdering by the Apartheid government and the arrest of more than 2,000 people that the ANC took up the armed struggle against the Apartheid government – while they were banned from South Africa. Their “military wing”, Umkhonto we Sizwe(Spear of the Nation), was only established in 1961. They officially took up arms when exiled. They took up arms when their people got murdered, arrested and taxed to death and they were banned from being in South Africa to represent the oppressed in even a peaceful way. Remember this bit – people being taxed, not represented in government, no ownership, murdered and arrested left, right and centre AND their “party” being banned even though they are promoting peaceful resistance.

In short, the ANC was a peaceful organization for 48 years before they took up arms. And only after they got banned and people were murdered in public did they take up arms. And they continued this armed struggle against the Apartheid regime for the next 30 years. So yes, they were peaceful for much longer than what they were in the armed struggle. But still the US and many other Western governments declared them a terrorist organization. And before you get on your high horse – they only started taking in money and support from the old USSR when all those Western governments refused to provide them with any support against the Apartheid regime. Many, many years after they got banned and classified as a terrorist organization. A case of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend…”

Let me put this in language and context you might get. A bit closer to home. Imagine you live in the US. Peacefully. Oh, there is a colonial power in charge, but you don’t care much for them. But then they start shooting your people when they protest against the unjust laws and taxes these colonial powers instituted against your people. And, of course, you don’t have full representation – only token representation. So after many years of continued oppression you say “enough is enough” and you stand up and have a big old war for independence. And you take support from anyone – even those who also have oppressive systems in place in their own country. Let’s say like asking the French monarchy for support even though they did not give their own people the rights you were fighting for and who were an oppressiveregime to their own people. Oh, wait – that happened here right? Imagine that, those Patriots who stood up against the British rule would have been branded a terrorist group if the current US application of the term terrorist was used by the colonial master back then. See, the ANC was like the Patriots back when you fought for your independence… And I for one will defend John Adams and anyone else who dare call them terrorists. They were freedom fighters on the side of the good and the brave. On the side of the oppressed. They were the good guys. They were the brave guys. Full stop. Not terrorists.

But the problem they would face today is that there is no clear guidelines on what will constitute a terrorist organization in the eyes of the US government.

So, does the US classify organizations based on their opposition to legitimate governments? No. As the case in South Africa highlights, the US government supported an oppressive regime and not those seeking democracy. It did the same in Angola and in Mozambique. It supported the warlords in both those countries who fought the legitimate governments. Governments who continued to win the popular democratic votes in elections from before, during and after the wars that ravished these countries. And, of course, the US supported the Taliban, Saddam Hussein and many Latin American dictators who were as oppressive as these African and Middle Eastern dictators. Yes, it was during the Cold War, but it still… The US build their partnership in the same way the ANC did – not being picky, but just picking anyone who will fight against the injustice they believe their own people will or are facing. Both picked dirty friends. And neither of them can claim that the other one had “worse” friends than the other. You willing to make a call on whether you would prefer the Taliban or a Communist? Not an easy choice is it? A bit like a pan and a fire choice I think. Hello pot, cheers kettle.

But it still leaves the question open – does the US classify organizations as terrorist if they take up arms against any type of government then? No. The US government is not averse to supporting organizations who take up arms. As mentioned before, they supported violent groups in Mozambique and Angola. And they have continued to do so – who can forget the call to arms of Iraqi’s during the first Gulf War? And the direct or indirect support for those who take up arms against oppressive regimes.

So what is a terrorist in the eyes of the US government? Who knows? And that has been the problem with declassifying Nelson Mandela as terrorist. We have no clear guidelines. How can we declassify someone when we don’t know the classification in the first place? It’s a bit like just building a road and seeing where it takes us. Or a railroad. And remember the big railroad bubble of 1893? This road is just waiting to blow up in our face and create panic.

At the very least we need to know what a terrorist is. I don’t mean some global definition we can all agree on. I am not that naive. All I can ask is for the US to have a clear definition. But there isn’t. Do yourself a favour – try and find a clear definition anywhere in the US laws. Too vague and too many loopholes. How can we win a war against terrorism if we can’t even define who or what is a terrorist? So far we have been more or less lucky. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban were relatively easy calls. Sadam not so easy. And the more we go into this “War Against Terrorism” the more fuzzy it will become. I would really like Nelson Mandela to not be classified as a terrorist. And I really don’t want us to start a war against the next John Adams and his group of Patriots. He was a Patriot. And so was Mandela. Let’s not shoot at anything that moves. Not every shadow is a threat. Let’s know who we fight. Because how else would we know when we have won?

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You Americans. You are a damn funny bunch. Doomsayers. Hehehe! The world isn’t going to come to an end. Your life will still be fine. Really. I promise you. No, I am not talking about the economy. I’m talking about the election coming up in November.

I find it amazing how people paint the worse possible outcome if any of them wins. Oh, it’ll be the end of America as we know it. Depending on who wins the scenarios are either America will be taken over by hardline Christians or fundamental Muslims. Far-right racists or a bunch of bleeding heart liberals. Abortions will take place left, right and centre or individual rights like choice will be taken away forever. America will go into more wars and stay in Iraq forever or be to weak to attack anyone who threatens. Americans will be forced to pay through their necks for a proper health-care system that will cover everyone or the poor will be left behind to die alone without any care. America will be taxed to death to look after the poor or the rich are going to get richer. The corporate world will be regulated to a level where they won’t be able to compete or corporate interests in DC will reach new highs. A black guy or a women… Oh, wait – that one might actually be true. Hahaha. Come on people. Stop drinking the Kool-Aid. You remind me a bit of South Africa back in 1994 when we had our first democratic election.

My dad and my wife’s dad panicked. What will happen if the ANC wins the election. What will happen if we have a black government. Oh God forbid that ever happens. It will be the end of the world as we know it. Oh the country will come to a standstill. Traffic lights (or robots as we call it) will stop working. Electricity will stop running.  Gas stations (petrol pumps back home) will run out of petrol. Taps will run dry. And worse of all – the grocery stores will have empty shelves. We will even run out of beer. And that would be bad. Especially if you are South African.

So they stockpiled. They bought canned food – corned beef (or bully beef as we call it) and candles were all the rage back then. Man, my dad bought so much of the stuff he could have opened his own little underground shop if he wanted. And then they started with us. Telling us we must stockpile. Get ready because it is the end of the world as we know it. But they didn’t know the next line of that R.E.M. song – And I feel fine. Because this election was what I fought for and dreamed of. Free, free at last. But we were poor then – my wife and myself. So we couldn’t really say no to any money they were going to throw our way. But it was a bit of a dilemma – we couldn’t lie to them either. Just not ethical. So we divised a little plan. We took the money and stockpiled. Let me qualify that a bit. We did the alternative version of stockpiling. We bought mussels, prawns, perlemoen, crayfish, steak and champagne. All those things we could never afford to buy! We stockpiled to celebrate the win! In style baby.

Well, as you might know I didn’t get along with my dad. But when he died he still had candles and bully beef stuck in his grocery racks. All from back in 1994. Because the stores were stocked and open the next day. And the taps ran crisp clear water. And the electricity kept on going. And the petrol pumps were ready to fill you up. And the banks still had your money in their vaults. Yes. South Africa carried on as the usual. Just as a free and democratic country for the first time. Oh, we had one little problem. We had one huge hang-over from the parties that just went on and on. But no one bitched about that!

So, you see, the more things change the more they stay the same. America will not face what we faced back in 1994. A moment that defines our place in history. The end of an oppressive system. And freedom at last. You don’t need to stockpile. Because whoever wins will not be the worse case scenario you are so frightened of. Yes, McCain will be more ready to go to war and stay in Iraq. And yes, some of the rights America fought for so hard will remain under pressure. And he’ll pander to the right and flip-flop when he doesn’t “misspoke” or forget who is who. And he’ll be bad from a foreign policy perspective. And Hillary will be a hawk. Ready to go to war and obliterate anyone who steps on her toes. And she’ll be more of an empty bag of little substance than most. Dodging bullets and making peace/war wherever she goes (you pick – war in Iraq and peace in Northern Ireland). And yes, Obama is more of an idealist. And idealist who paints a picture of what America should look like tomorrow. And he’ll be more likely to speak and seek peace and compromise than go into war. And he is more wonky than he other two. And yes, he and Hillary are more likely to bring in a universal health-care and strengthen social services. But come one people. They are proud Americans who will give their all to make this great country even greater.

Your water will still drip from the taps. Gas will still flow from the pumps – even if it is a bit more expensive than yesterday. Food will still be at a reasonable price. Your lights will still burn when you flip the switch. Roads will still be fine even if you need to invest in them a bit more. You’ll still have unemployment – but at a low rate. The dollar will still be the global standard. And the world will still catch the flu if you sneeze. You will be just fine. Just fine. Really no need to stockpile.

In actual fact, you will be better than where you are today. And you will hopefully rally behind your new President and tell him/her to go and make you proud. To run this country like a President. Remember. They are willing to do so. They are willing to stand the public attacks from you and their election opponents. They are willing to be scrutinized. At least show some respect for that. You deserve better.

No. Your country deserves a better you. A you that act like a proud and patriotic American. Not like a spoilt child that fears anything and everything. Your country deserves a you that remembers that this country is about what you do to make it better. And it starts with how you will support your new President. And how you treat your own people. Those who are willing to stand up and be counted. Be critical, but don’t be destructive. That is not the American way. Or so I was told.

You don’t need to stockpile. Maybe just a little on decency and on guts. But don’t fear tomorrow. It’s not the of the world as you know it and you’ll feel fine.

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Today we celebrate our freedom in South Africa. The freedom we achieved officialy in 1994. On 27 April 1994. Oh, what a day that was. The day of our freedom. Our 4th of July. Our Bastille Day. Free! Free at last! And to celebrate that day I am reposting and old blog of mine. A reflection of my experience of that beautiful day. My little contribution to our history. My memories of the birth of my country. It was an honour. And it was something to behold. And what a day it was. Oh, what a day it was.

A vote at last! (1994)

Four long years. That’s how long we had to wait before we got our first election in 1994. Okay, we had to wait forever during the struggle against Apartheid, but we had four long years of negotiations from when Nelson Mandela was released until we got our date – 27 April 1994. But now the date was set. And I just had to be part of that. So I registered myself as a volunteer to work on election day. And what a day it turned out to be.

I could feel that their was something special in the air. Something that I will never see again or experience again. I got up ready to be part of history. I rushed to put on some decent clothes and unmatched socks (that was my image back then!) I am a voting officer – please step back from that voting booth and put your X when I can see them. The power! I even had a special badge to say what I was – Voting Officer. My first badge. Plastic – but still a badge.

First I had to go for a session with the two guys in charge. Yes, two guys. The Apartheid National Party didn’t trust the ANC and the ANC didn’t trust the NP. So we had one from each side co-managing each voting station. I was stationed at Stellenbosch central – the town hall. The biggest turnout of our town for the day was going to be there. And we had a bureaucrat from the Nats leading their side and a cool guy from the ANC leading from the other side. (Okay – you don’t get extra points for knowing who I voted for). And these two guys was going to tell us what we can do and what we can’t do – and the role of each person.

But what a sight when I turned the corner that leads to the town hall. People waiting in lines for as far as the eye can see. There was still a few hours before we opened the doors and the people was already waiting to vote. The hair on my neck stood up. History. You could smell it. You could taste it. And now you can see it.

What struck me was how quiet people were. No partying. No shouting and hardly any laughing. Just a silence as people stood in the queue waiting for the doors to open so that they could go and vote. People just staring at that door. A little wave when people recognized each other. But it was deadly silent most of the time. I expected people to celebrate. Come on – we are in Africa. We make a noise and party when the kid drools for the first time. Only later did I realize why. People still couldn’t believe that it was happening. And they did not want to do anything until they saw those doors open. After so many years of hardship they still could not believe that the Apartheid regime won’t try and pull a fast one. I managed a few smiles and got a few back-slaps – and off I went to get this baby started.

Oh man. That guy from the Nats was the pits. Telling us the obvious things and being as wet and square as Spongebob Squarepants. Really, it was like pulling teeth. We just wanted to get on with it. At least the guy from the ANC got us all worked up and rallied us by reminding us what this day was all about. And that we had a big responsibility in helping people today. Today we make history. And then the representatives from all the political parties came in. The serious ones had their suits on – the Nats and the Democratic Party. The ANC had their more relaxed African shirts on. And the rest just came with whatever they could find in the closet. And they were a bunch of oddballs!

We had the Right Party (slightly leftie politics), the Green Party (the vegans), the Minority Party (basically one guy), the Merit Party (old head-boys), the Federal Party (wanted their own land), the KISS party (Keep It Straight and Simple), the Soccer Party (almost got my vote) and a bunch with names no one could pronounce. Hey, we figured that if everyone could vote then everyone should be able to register as a party as well. Maybe not one of our better ideas. But they were all there – ready to join in the fun. Except for the KISS Party who took things way to seriously – especially with a name like that. No hugs and no kisses.

My first job was to help the people outside. Especially the older people. I was allowed to move them up the line and help them vote. It was a nice one – I got to mingle with the crowd outside. There was no trouble – except for a few political parties who broke the “no canvassing within 500 meters” rule. They just drove past and honked and waved flags. Not really canvassing – just having fun on the day.

And people had fun by now. Almost everyone got their identity books in the months leading up to the election. And I mean everyone. I’ll never forget one of the first guys who came outside after he voted. He was what we called a bergie– a homeless guy. I guess he was way up in the lines because he slept outside the town-hall. He came out beaming with his two front teeth missing. And as he got to the top of the steps he looked at the crowd, threw his arms in the air and shouted “my vote is my secret – I voted DP (Democratic Party)” (For those who know Afrikaans – he was a Capie and shouted “My stem is my geheim. Ek vote die DP”). The crowd packed up laughing. It summed up the day perfectly – everyone having their say and starting to having fun.

There is a story why his words were particularly funny at the time. We had a long running campaign about people voting for whoever they wanted to vote for – and that their vote would be in secret. The slogan was – Your Vote, Your Secret. It was everywhere because people thought that with the fingerprints and everything that the Apartheid government will come and get them – that they will know who voted for who and get them if they voted ANC. The ads obviously worked. And he remembered this, just not all the detail.

The queue never got any shorter during the day. People just kept on coming – 1,000+ people standing in line at any time during the day and all waiting to vote. Waiting patiently. It was hot, even though it was autumn. I was handing out water when I saw him. An old, old man standing in the queue – almost right at the back. He must have been close to a hundred. He was frail and leaning against his walking stick. You could see he came from a tough background – a farmworker most likely. I went up to him and took him by his hand and told him I’ll take him to the voting booth. He smiled and off we went – walking slowly.

We talked a bit while we took our slow walk to the voting hall. Not politics of course – I wasn’t allowed to talk politics because I was an “independent” voting officer. It became apparent that he couldn’t read or write. But he wanted to vote – that was his right. And it was likely not only his first time of voting, but his last one. I promised I would help him – that was my job. I took him to the booth and asked him to look at the pictures and tell me who he wanted to vote for – any faces or parties he recognized? He looked carefully and then shook his head. No, his man wasn’t there. He said it as if he knew who his “man” was. I asked him if he could tell me who his man was as I might be able to tell him what party his man belonged to. He looked at me and said, “I want to vote for Jannie Smuts”. I felt like hugging the guy. Smuts died in 1950. And Smuts was a racist who tried everything to stop this old man from getting his right to vote.

But we sorted that out – I called all the parties together and got them to argue it out. The old man voted in the end. For the National Party – the party who denied him his right to vote for all those Apartheid years. And the party who defeated Smuts in the general election back in 1948. I don’t know how Smuts would have felt about that one.

The rest of the day went off smoothly. I helped people to vote and spoke to people in the queue. It was all fun and games by now. Friendly bantering and sharing of good times. It felt as if this was the most natural thing we could do – voting. Of course it should be, but this was a special day.

I eventually went to vote myself. I stood in that booth for a few minutes – like almost every other voter that day. This was my turn and our time. I knew who I was going to vote for. With Biko dead for so many years already the Africanist still had a leadership vacuum. Even with Hani assassinated I knew that there was only one man and one party for me. I made my cross next to the ANC and had a lump in my throat. I was shaking slightly. Done. It is done. A vote at last. Take us where you want Madiba.

That night I turned into an accountant. Okay, not that exciting. I turned into a Counting Officer. Off we went to get locked up in a huge hall and start counting those votes. And we counted and we counted. And the parties looked on to make sure that we didn’t miss anything. No idea why the Kiss Party and the other small ones hung around – we couldn’t exclude their votes even if we wanted to. No one voted for them. Come on – the Right Party got less than 1,000 votes across the whole of South Africa. And then they started moaning and bitching – the smaller parties – and we had to count all over again. And it went on and on. Till early in the morning. All they gave us was crap coffee and even worse hamburgers. But it was worth it. Because eventually it was all done. Votes counted and our work done. Our first election was officialy over – done and dusted.

I have been busy at the elections for almost 24 hours by now. First helping the voters and then counting their votes. I was knackered. I just wanted to sleep. But as I hit the bed it hit me. I was part of history. I was part of the greatest day in our country’s life. Each person that voted that day did it with passion – for the right and the wrong reasons. But each of us – all of us – had our day to vote at last. And each one of those votes was done for a reason. People did it because this was the most important election of their lives. There will never be another. I was there when we became a nation. No. I was passing the bricks as we build that nation on 27 April 1994. Smuts would not have been proud.

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Look. This isn’t the Rumble in the Jungle. It’s not World War II. It’s not even Tom & Jerry. It’s more like Wrestlemania. A little bit of fireworks and a laser display. But it is really just make-believe. A show. A show that happens every few years. Lots of noise and lots of action. But fundamentally still just a show. Nobody gets hurt. Yes, I am talking about the US Presidential election.

Obama and Hillary and Mac tries. Oh man they really try hard. Trying to convince everyone that they are so different from the other one. I am more conservative/liberal than him or her. I am the most experienced. I am from outside the DC mentality. I will be the one answering the phone at 3 am. I am so different from those other two. Sorry people. You are not that different from each other. Apart from the obvious bits – black, white, male, female. But when it comes to politics in America? About as different as Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. Pretty much the same difference – car crashes, flashing underwear, rehab sessions and bad movies excluded.

Let me be open and honest here – full disclosure. I am all for Obama. I think he will be a great leader and will bring something new to the table that has been missing in American politics for a while. But that doesn’t make it him that different from HillBillary or Mac. They are all proudly American. And will defend this country to the end. And anyone who thinks otherwise should get out of the chicken coop and start scraping the poop of your shoes. It’s starting to smell. Where have you been all this time? Your head in the sand or up your …? Don’t drink the Kool-Aid – whether served by Fox and Rush or Bill Maher and Jon Stewart. It’s still Kool-Aid. Just a different flavor.

This election isn’t about what kind of political system America should have. Or what would be the best economic model. This isn’t a debate on whether the USA should have a monarchy or a republic. This isn’t about every person having a vote or America being run by a tyrant. This isn’t about America being a communist state or free market. I know, some would argue that a vote for the Democrats will make America more “socialist” or “communist”. Sorry people. Just not happening. You think the US will be more like China or Russia or even Sweden under either Obama or Hillary? Get real. Go read up on world politics a bit baby. The world is a bit more complicated than your backyard – even during hurricane season.

It’s like saying a vote for the Republicans would be a vote for an Apartheid-type system. Just not gonna happen. Go watch a French movie and get educated. Except maybe the Asterix and Obelix movies. Those are closely based on the France of today. And what’s this about a free market? Neither will America (or any other country) ever be a free market system. Too many regulations and too much protection for that. And I mean protection for big companies and not the little guy – read the you can’t sue them rulings and subsidies for big oil. So, the US will basically remain a semi-free market with slightly more or slightly less interference from government. With a failing health system that neither business or government can sort out. Except if you start cutting down on those Whoppers and start dying before you actually get ill. America won’t change that much under any of these three. Politics in America is less like a seesaw and more of a sandpit – you don’t really move much, you just get a little bit dirtier the longer you play.

The fight between Hillary and Obama is more of a slapfest than a slugfest. Like the Poms did way back when with the old white handkerchief through the face. A little bit of “how’s your mother” – but in a nice way. Nothing serious. A bit like when my wife and myself don’t agree. Yes, we get all worked up – but we know that we are still on the same side. Okay, our makeup is better than theirs… I hope! And I know I am wrong most of the time in any case. Hillary and Obama- pretty much the same with slightly different clothes on. And Obama looks a bit cooler than Hillary and way cooler than McCain. Come on, admit it. I know you want to.

You think Mac will be so different from Hillary or Obama? Sorry to disappoint you again. Why would you think that? Because he is Republican? Again, you’re confusing it with The West Wing. That wasn’t true you know. Remember, Mac is more progressive than what JFK was back in the old days. He will tinker around the edges and call it the Big Mac version. And you will swallow it faster than a hotdog in the bottom of the 9th at Fenway Park. (Huh? That didn’t even make sense. But you get the picture. You wanna get it down as quickly as possible before it all ends.)

Come to think of it. There is actually very little to bitch and moan about the “fundamentals” of the US. Yes, gas prices are up and housing down. The economy is a little shaky. Or as Bush calls it – a “slowdown”. But you think any of these candidates will solve it by themselves? You think they will come and wave their magic wand and make everything all hunky-dory again? Hum, sorry to disappoint you but things are never hunky-dory. There is always a little bit of doggy poo walked into the carpet in every house. Yesterday wasn’t better, it was just different. Okay, today is pretty crap, but we know that none of the candidates can be any worse than what you currently have. (My less than heartfelt apology to the 28% who actually approves of the job President Bush is doing. The lowest in recorded history. Yes, even lower than Truman during Korea and Nixon at any stage.) There is only one way and that is up from here. But they’ll tinker around the edges and call it a new dawn, but they won’t change what America is all about. Don’t worry. Baseball won’t turn into cricket at any stage soon. You’ll play ball your style for a few years yet.

And if you think there are major problems in the US – think again. Almost everyone in the world pays more than Americans for their gas. And pay more in tax. And more for food. And more for… well.. damn nearly everything. And the majority of the world would love to have your “problems”. Take the candidate you dislike the most and ask yourself – would I rather live in that America or in Zimbabwe or China? Or even in the UK? There are but a handful of countries in this world that can offer you a better life than in the US. (Okay, maybe only Luxembourg.) No matter who rules the country it will still be a pretty damn good place to live in. I mean come on. President Bush couldn’t f*ck mess up this country any more than he did and it is still pretty awesome to live here right?

So there isn’t really much of a fight going on in the Presidential race. Just a bit of name-calling. Oh, like with any good fake fight they’ll try to build it up. To get you all excited. But it’s like the ad on television for some crap April movie. They’ll show you the good bits, but you know that it is the same old lame formula as before. The media and the bloggers will tell you that this is the time. That this is about the heart and soul of America. But it isn’t. Americans are more than politics. And the soul of America is more than a few wise words and a pretty face. The media and blogs do it to sell you their ad space. And you buy baby. Buy.

In the end America will be better. No matter which one you decide you want as your President. Your choice. Little will change and America will continue to be a great place to live in. All three are great Americans. It’s not about who will give you the best tax break. It’s not about gay marriages. It’s not about racism or sexism. It’s not about religious intolerance. It’s not about universal healthcare. It’s not about immigration. Those are minor issues that doesn’t define what America stands for. Or what the world needs. Those are at the rough edges. The crazy uncle stuff every family suffers from. That’s not what you want to ask yourself. You want to ask yourself…

Who will inspire Americans to be the best it can be? Who will be more likely to bridge the political divide? Who will get the world to respect America again? Who will protect your freedom of speech even when it hurts? Who will get rid of laws that allows your privacy to be exploited? Who will be the least likely to get you into a stupid war? Who will fight against torture even when they torture you? Who will put you above the pigs crawling in the mud below? Who will protect your right to carry weapons even if they don’t like it? Who will most likely ensure that church and politics don’t mix? Who will protect the individual rights of people – whether they are gay or KKK? Who offers you the best hope for a future your children can be proud of?

I am sure there are more questions than these few. Feel free to fill in the gaps. Just make sure you don’t fill in the gaps with the Kool-Aid the candidates and parties and media are trying to force down your throat. They are all the same and they are all different. They are mostly good, with a few bad spots. They are all perfect in their own little way. And all flawed in their own little way. But they are all American – and as different as Americans can be. And proudly so. Anything else they say is just a little storm in a teacup.

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Shortest Italian book ever written? Great Italian War Heroes. No wait, I have another one. Great post-war Italian political leaders. Longest Italian book ever written? Post-war Italian governments. Man, they have had a few.

Yes. Italy was at it again. Another year. Another election. And another new government. Guess how many governments Italy has had since the end of World War II? Hold on before you answer that one. Remember, it has been 63 years since the end of the war. You would think maybe 20 odd right? One every four years and maybe one or two that didn’t last the whole 4 years – or whatever the term in office might be. Try again. 30? Nope, try again. 40 maybe? No sirree. Come on, be bold. 50? Nah, but getting slightly warmer. 60! Almost there. It’s 62 in fact. Yes, 62 governments in 63 years… America has only had 43 Presidents since 1789… Bah! Call that a democracy? Only 43 in 219 years. Amateurs.

Guess who won? Berlusconi won again… How does he do it? I mean this guy make Bush sound like Shakespeare. He once told a German member of the European Parliament, ““Mr Schulz, I know a movie producer in Italy who is making a movie about Nazi concentration camps. I will suggest you to play the role of a Kapo. You are perfect!”. And he also said that he had to “dust off my playboy skills” when he met with the (female) Finnish president, Tarja Halonen. And here is a favourite one… At an awards dinner in January 2007, Berlusconi was quoted as saying, “If I wasn’t already married, I would marry you right away,” and “With you, I’d go anywhere” to Mara Carfagna, a representative of Forza Italia and former showgirl. These flirtatious comments prompted his wife Veronica to demand an apology in a front-page letter to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, one of Berlusconi’s rival publications. In a statement released through his political party, he begged for forgiveness and stated that he would “always protect [Veronica’s] dignity.” And he has been rumoured to be linked to the mafia and a (previously) secret masonic lodge. How does he do it? Well, I guess it helps a bit that he owns about half of the media in Italy.

But really. 62 governments in 63 years? Can you even say that they had a government at all? Imagine you are the new Prime Minister. You just won the election. Start getting all your sh*t together and get ready for the move into your grand new palace, Palazzo Chigi. Picked out the new Italian designed furniture and drapes. Bought the Fiat and Ferrari to fit into the garage. Got the new pizza pans and pizza pots. Had the last party in your home town in Sicily – to show respect to the Don. Said goodbye to mamma because you are at last leaving the house. And just as you arrive to move into your new government residence and take up office they tell you that a new government has just been elected and you are outta there. Damn. You blink and you are out.

I think I know why they keep on changing governments in Italy. You see, Italians are very community orientated. The family is very important. And the uncles and aunts and sisters and brothers and nieces and nephews – all of them. They are close. Share meals together. Go to the market together. Fight and lose together. Make a noise together. Throw their arms up in disgust and annoyance together. They do everything together. So they love all equally and truly believe in the principle of a government by the people, for the people and of the people. But the push it just a tad too far. They also want everyone they know to have a chance to be in government. Today Papa Prodi, tomorrow Uncle Giuseppe. And don’t forget little Rosalina wants a chance too.

And don’t forget, Italy is run by men. Women hardly ever try to enter politics in Italy. The last well known Italian female politician was porn-star Cicciolina. And there is a very good reason for this. Women have brains. They know that trying to be an effective politician in Italy is like trying to win a major modern war. It just doesn’t happen in Italy. And someone must run the actual Italy. Seeing that the men are always busy with the move in and out of parliament – women might just as well do the real work to keep the country up and running.

You know why the men move in and out of Palazzo Chigi apart from losing the vote before they even won it? Because Italian men can never stay away from their mothers. They live with their mothers until they get married at age 40. And then hope that their wife will treat them like their mother did. They don’t, because they have their own sons to look after and spoil so the men go into politics to get away from their wives who don’t adore them day in and day out – rather just a clip behind the ear. Then they “fix” the results so they can lose quickly and move back in with their mothers. Sigh… Italian men and their mothers…

These Italian politicians won’t be able to organise a piss-up in a brewery. They just don’t organize anything. Blame their mothers who organized their lives including their drawers and selection of hair-gel. These men manage to run nothing and do nothing in politics – and then ride of those credentials for years. Thank god they don’t run the economy. But it leaves me with another problem. How can they call the mafia organized crime? How do they organize crime? I mean really, these guys can’t organize jack. How the hell do they organize crime?

But here is the thing. I actually think that the Italians are way ahead of us. They know what happens when a government gets too comfortable. Or when government actually tries to run a country. It is all downhill from there. They believe in a “light touch” government the conservatives in America and UK can only talk about (but never actually do or want). And how do you ensure that you never get a government who actually govern? Just don’t give them a chance to settle in. Change them as often as you do your underwear. Or as quickly as what you surrender. “Hey, Prodi is talking about politics and people in one sentence – I think it is time to elect a new government before they get some weird idea of actually doing something as a government”. And, in any case, we are into the fourth month of 2008 and need to change the sheets. Might just as well change the government as well. It’s called Spring Cleaning in my house. We did it last weekend – and so did Italy.

And we can learn a few things from them. Let’s look at Zimbabwe compared to Italy. Zimbabwe has had three governments since World War II – the Queen of England, Ian Smith and Robert Mugabe. Three in 63 years. And see where that got them! Stability in government = instability of country. Italy? 62 governments in 63 years. Instability of government = stability of country. I say let’s hire a few Italian political consultants to advise a few leaders in Africa on how to run their countries. Bye-bye Bob…

This might be tongue in cheek, but I love Italy for being Italy. They give me an easy target to shoot at. But they win in the end. I would rather be them than against them (except in war). What’s the alternative? Switzerland? Let’s see… mm… With all the turmoil, lost battles, animated talking, general chaos and joke politics Italy has given us what? Well, they have given us Thomas Aquinas, Machiavelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael, Picasso, Vivaldi, Verdi, Versace, Armani, Pavarotti, Domingo, Carreras, Bocelli, Ferrari’s and pizza and pasta, to name but a few. And Switzerland? Land of continuous peace and stability? Where nothing ever happens and it carries on for months? Well, all that peace and stability gave us Swiss cheese and the bloody cuckoo clock.

Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll stick with the Italians. I think they are on to something. It could be the next election for all I know.

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