I don’t know how to express how I feel about what happened at the Boston Marathon. I have a hollow empty feeling in my stomach. It is not only because it was the first place we lived in when we got to the US. It’s not only because I see Boston as my US hometown. It’s not only because I am part of Red Sox Nation. It’s not only because I have so many friends who live there and watch the race each year. It is not only because I was worried sick about them all. It’s not only because the 2nd bomb went off 25 yards from my old office. It’s not only because I started running to one day do “The Boston”. It’s not only because I am angry and sad because of the death and injury to all of those out on a beautiful Patriots Day. It’s also because I am a runner…

My first marathon in 3:59:32

My first marathon in 3:59:32

I am a runner…

I am a runner. I run because we have no politics. We runners represent the world. We don’t represent any organization or country. We run as runners. We run and we are equal. We just run. No hidden agenda. Nothing but us and the road. We run because we can. We run as equals whether we are at the front or the back – we all run the same path. We are comrades battling ourselves and not each other. We are ordinary people doing an extraordinary thing for a few hours of running. And cheering each other on. We run for many reasons but in a single spirit. I am a runner free.

I am a runner. I run and I smell. I hear my wife and kids complaining and moaning about how I stink when I get back from my run. But I do it for the smile and kiss I get when I’ve done a race. I run for my kids to say how cool the medals are even though everyone got one. I run because my wife makes a little shrine of my running stuff. I run for them.

I am a runner. I run when I travel. I used to stay in my hotel room and just do nothing. Now I run. I see the cities and places that used to just flash by while I sit in a cab on my way to my meeting. Now I run and find the beauty in places so unexpected. I am a runner for beauty.

I am a runner. I run with my mates and sometimes we talk and sometimes we just run. When the world and all our problems feels a little bit too heavy – we run. All we need is the road and our running shoes to make it a little bit lighter. I am a runner for friendship.

I am a runner. I can run in silence or listen to the music of the world flash by. It can be on the road and cars roaring past or on a treadmill listening to my latest playlist or the trails and nothing but wind through the leaves and grass.  I am a runner for music.

I am a runner. We don’t run to write long stories because we know that we can never really tell you how we feel while running. Runners know. We just know. It’s freedom. Just you and the road. And sometimes a few mates.  I am a runner in silence.

I am a runner. I run and think of the funniest most politically incorrect jokes I will never tell the world. I think of the funny runners I have met on the road – the guy with the long socks or the girl with the fairy wings. I am a runner for jokes.

I am a runner. I imagine I am as graceful as a gazelle running free. I see myself gliding over hills and mountains. I know none of that is true. But I run sweating and struggling, and I run free. I am a runner running free.

I am a runner. I think I run alone but I never do. I hear the voices of my friends telling me to push a little harder. I hear the voices of strangers encouraging me to do one more mile. I am a runner with others.

I am a runner. I know I am no Haile Gebrselassie and won’t even win my age group in a local race. I won’t even get close. But I run because I can. I am a runner for me.

I am a runner. I run to be free of the worries of the world – even though it is just for a few miles. To clear my head and recharge. I am a runner for tomorrow.

I am a runner. It isn’t complicated. It’s a very simple thing. It’s just you and the road. We put our shoes on and we run. I am a runner because I can.

I am a runner. For every mile we fight pain and ourselves. Never others. We push and pull each other to do 26.2. I am a runner for marathons.

I am a runner. For the people cheering us on. Feeling our pain and giving us strength. I am a runner for them.

I am a runner. For every mile that will never be the same. I will never run alone again. I am a runner.

I am a runner. For every mile. For them.

I am a runner. For every mile.

I am a runner.

I am.

Running in my Red Sox cap

Running in my Red Sox cap

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The news isn’t getting any better is it? Time to have a closer look. I must apologize first though. I do get a bit worked up today. So please excuse the anger. But some of this stuff just isn’t funny anymore. Don’t worry though, some of it is still pretty funny. Hey remember, no news is good news. So some news is slightly crap news. I’ll start with the crap news first.

Same old, same old...

Same old, same old...

1. Mr McCain, act your age – or maybe not

It’s becoming a bit tedious. Every week I tell myself that I will leave McCane alone. His an old man after all. And I am not being nice. My mom won’t be impressed. You know, she always said I should show respect to old people. And I really want to. But then he does it again. Or maybe I should say, “Oops he did it again”. Yes, McCane has scrapped right through the bottom of the barrel and is now digging up old cat crap from the garden soil below. He is reaching a new low. Even for a Republican. Okay, maybe I am wrong. You can’t really reach a new low as a Republican. Or at least not this type of Republican. They boldly go where no one has gone before. Anyway, let’s get back to the Mac. McCane decided to take Obama on by focusing on the issues. Not. No, he decided to tell us nothing of his own policies or why he might be a good President and instead compared Obama to Britney and then said Obama is playing the race card. Sigh. (I wish my wife would allow me to swear in my blog. McCain deserves one.) Come now Mista McCane, what the hell do you stand for apart from anything anti-Obama? The USA actually needs someone to stand for something and not just against everything. Look what happened the last time you picked a President that stood for nothing but anti-everything. You are living in that world right now. Who are you McCane? Who are you when you look in the mirror apart from an angry old man with no life or policies? If Obama is Britney, are you the wino old hag who hangs around Britney trying to catch a bit of her “shine”? Get a life of your own please. And saying Obama is playing the race card… Have you actually been on the “internets” as your buddy calls it? Have you seen and heard the things people are saying of Obama? Have you not heard how that stupid blond woman called Ann Coulter play “funny” with Obama’s names? Have you seen the original racist comments that Rooster99 left on this blog? Obama playing the race card… Bah! Wake up and smell the roses. Grow up and act your age. No wait. Please don’t. We don’t need another President asleep behind the wheel. I guess the next thing you should start bitching about is that Obama is playing the intelligence card and walking the leadership path. That is so unfair hey? Ek is gatvol van MyPyn se wyn.

2. UK decides not to prosecute corruption

Imagine if this happened in South Africa. Or anywhere in Africa… The anti-fraud agency starts to investigate allegation that the largest national arms manufacturer and dealer offered bribes to a potential buyer. A bribe to get the buyer to buy some weapons. Maybe even a few weapons of mass destruction? And the buyer? A Middle Eastern buyer. With a really bad human rights record. And then the agency drops the investigation. Why? Because the buyer blackmailed the investigators by saying that they won’t give any anti-terrorism support or intelligence info in the fight against terrorism. What would you expect the agency and your government to do? Don’t answer – let’s first look at what the UK did. The UK government actually supported the investigators decision not to probe a bit deeper into the bribery case. Even though they already had good evidence. And they are so happy the agency dropped the case. The reason? National security. Bull. Let any African government do this and guess what – everyone will be all over them and throw their toys. They will talk about the corruption by African governments. And say it is just “the way these Africans are”. Well, stuff you. Go put it where the sun don’t shine. You Mr Brown and gang, the bribes are on your hands and for the whole world to see. The blood of those who die because of these weapons? One your hands. National security? Guess what. Did you know that Osama bin Laden comes from that country involved in this corrupt arms deal, terrorism threat and blackmail case? To the UK – you just lost your right to bitch about corruption anywhere else in the world. Especially in Africa. Go clean your own house first.

Oh, in a new development… This same UK arms manufacturer (BAE) was just caught in another case. One that involves their links to a Zimbabwean arms trader. A Zimbabwean arms dealer with strong ties to Robert Mugabe. Sweeping that one under the carpet as well now shall we? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Right? No reason to investigate this one if you didn’t want to look at the Saudi one. “Nothing to see here folks. Please move on.” Spineless bigots. Murdering bastards. What a pair they make. The UK and Zimbabwe caught necking behind the barn. Brown and Mugabe seen doing some heavy petting in the hay. Blood on your hands you stupid gutless Pom.

3. UK crime levels fall

I know I joked about it in my Next Week’s News Today II, but it is actually true. Crime rates are falling in the UK. It has done so by 10% over the last year. I stand by my original assessment that the economic crunch is behind it all. There is just nothing to steal anymore. I just wonder if the nanny state UK government will provide the criminals with some economic “stimulant” package as well. I mean really. It’s bad if the mob can’t even squeeze anything out of the dry UK well anymore. See? Crime doesn’t pay. Not now. At least they will have the dole to fall back on.

4. Scientific proof that Conservatives are sick

A new study from the University of New Mexico (Albuquerque!) has just linked religion with diseases. Basically, the study “proves” that there is a link between the number of religions and the “control” of diseases. Apparently, society organizes itself in religious groups to limit the spread infectious diseases and other health risks. That’s a bit of a bummer. It makes the US a pretty sick society. I mean really, the Christian churches over here are worse than Trotskyists – they split into two separate groups every time two Christian conservatives/evangelicals get together in a room. Aah, now I get the whole anti-science thing amongst some of the more fundamentalist Christian groups in the US. You see, some science actually focus on healing people. Get rid of diseases. So the basic fibre of religion will fall apart. The healthier we are the more secular we will become. I hope Hagee and Bush don’t read this. Or maybe they knew about this all along. You know – denying evolution and denying global warming. Very Christian of them.

5. China and US sync laptops

China. What can I say. Loved it over there. Just don’t take your laptop with when you go and visit. They don’t like free information that much. Like to control it a bit. Can’t get access to all the sites on the internet. Including this one. (Wonder if they lifted the “ban” on this one when they relaxed their control a bit this week?) Anyway. They like control. And they have a bit of a habit of taking laptops at airports. You know – to check for “information”. And good luck if you can get it back. They go a bit further though. They check what you do and download your information, contacts and everything they can get their hands on. It helps that they control the networks you have to use. They are checking for anything that can “threaten” China. I call it no freedom and control freaks. So no surprise that American politicians are a bit unhappy about that. America is build on the foundations of freedom. Free expression and information are the cornerstones of this great country. I was even happier to see that it was a Republican being pissed at the Chinese for doing this. Senator Sam Brownback from Kansas was really pissed at the Chinese and their attempts to get every single piece of information they could get their hands on. Good on you Senator Brownback. Freedom of expression and information should always be protected. It’s the American way. But… Hang on a minute… What do we have here? It can’t be. The US doing the same? Yes! You see, first it was invasion of privacy with the “Patriot” Act. Like the Chinese, they will track your info like a true Chinese autocrat. And now it seems they are taking another leaf from the little red Chinese book of control. They are ready to take your laptop at the airport. And do pretty much what ever the hell they want to do with it. And they go a step further. They’ll take your iPod as well. Not to control your music as if it is some 50’s rock ‘n roll clampdown. No, just to check what info you have on there. (I would be so embarrassed by my playlist.) So there you go. Information control. China and the US dancing to the same tune. And I bet it ain’t to the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. Closer to the Grateful Dead I guess. George W Bush and Hu Jintao, both President and Commander in Chief of the two most powerful nations in the world, dancing the slow dance of control. It’ll make Mao so proud. He didn’t even have to invade the US for the Red Revolution to take over. First they took over the economy and now exported they own special brand of information control and freedom suppression. Tangle or tango anyone. Any wise words of wisdom now Senator Brownback?

________________________

That’s it folks. More pissed than usual. But can’t help it – they keep on feeding me crap.

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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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Barack Obama. It gets people talking. Just mentioning his name creates debate. But we know where I stand. I know he is the right person at the right time for the right job. But the debate will continue on whether he is the right person and whether he as the experience and whether he is who he says he is. But let’s bring it back to basics. Let’s remind ourselves what this is all about. And to Barack – never ever forget what this is all about.

1. It’s about race

Don’t let anyone tell you that this is not about race. That America has moved beyond race. This is all about race. But for all the right reasons. Let’s never forget Harold Ford Jr. He was one of the first guys I looked at and thought – wow, this guy could be it. But Tennessee decided no.  But this time America has the opportunity to show the world, and itself, that it has moved beyond race. It doesn’t matter – and it shouldn’t matter. It should send the message to people like greyrooster99@bellsouth.net who emailed me a few times after my last piece on Obama and wrote in his last email: “You’re a f*cking traitor and should be hung from the nearest tree. Drop dead you sorry piece of sh*t.” Obama is America’s chance to tell the world that people like that is not part of the American psyche. Obama – never forget this. People will look at you a bit more closely than the usual. But that is okay. We want people to pay close attention. Because you will show them what an American President should be about. Race counts. But by the time you are done as President – it won’t. You have the opportunity to be remembered as one of the greatest Americans Presidents. And not the first African American President. We don’t want you to be remembered for that – because that is who you are. Redefining race in the race to become the next great American President.

2. It’s about the future

Everyone else reminds us of the past. Mac is essentially a good guy. But he is about the past. The difficult times of the past. The past where he became a hero in a war many people didn’t want. He stands for many of the things that are good about America. But that is the good things of the past. And he reminds us that he lost against a man that reflected an America of the past – an America at constant war. Cold War or real war – it doesn’t matter. It is a past that is over. America can redefine the world. But does it want to redefine the world at war? Or a world of peace and prosperity? And Hillary reminds us of a more recent past. A past where Presidents divided people. President Bill Clinton was loved by many, but he also brought out the worst in the conservative and right-wing politics we still suffer from today. Hillary will be a reminder of that past. A past where the American people remain divided between Democrats and Republicans – and every ugly bit that goes with that. What America needs is a future it can look forward to. A future of hope and a future of change. A future where Americans can be what they are – a powerful nation united for the good of the world. Obama – never forget that you must redefine the future. Take America to a better place and a better future all Americans can be proud of again. 

3. It’s about America

Yes, this election is about America. It is about the heart and soul of America. It is about a President that can be an American President. And not a Democratic or Republican President. And not a President of the few. And not a President of the corporate world. And not a President of the rich and privileged. And not a President of horseless cowboys and fake toughness. No. America deserves better. America deserves a President for all of America. An American President. Elected by the people and for the people. Obama – never, ever turn your back on the people. America needs you. Needs you to make them proud of their President again. Fight the vested interest each and every day – and in every corner. Americans love a good fight. Americans will always be behind you as long as they know you are fighting for them and not fighting for a corporate or party interest. America deserves better. America deserves an American President.

4. It’s about the world

But it is not only about America. It is also about the world. We, the world, need a strong America. But we need that strong America to be on our side. On the side of justice and peace. Not an America that divides the world and who leads the world into war. The world hasn’t been this divided since the Cold War. America must be better than that. It must be – that is the burden of leadership. It must be better than the radicals of the left and the radicals of the right. It must be better than the radicals of religion and the radicals of terrorism. That is what the world expects – an America that can point us in the direction of peace and prosperity. An America that can rise above the challenges thrown at us day in and day out. An America that can be the beacon of hope in a world divided. People across the world respect and love what Americans stand for. But we don’t know how to feel about what America stands for today. We know that Bush is not America. But we also want to know what America means to the world and what the world means to America. The world needs America to be on the side of the plain and simple people. We can’t survive the wars you make against the extremist of the world. But we can’t survive without a just and friendly America either. Obama – never forget that America needs to take its rightful place in this world. We expect it and America needs it.

5. It’s about you and me

This is the Last Chance Saloon. People are giving up on democracy. It is a joke in Russia. It is a joke in Zimbabwe. It is a joke in Iraq. And it has been a joke in America since 2001. People are losing hope. Losing hope that good people will run our world again. Because everywhere they go they see lies and more lies. It would have been called propaganda if it wasn’t for the facade of democracy. People like myself look at the world and hope and pray we can have another Mandela. Another Kennedy. Another Ghandi. Another world leader to be proud of. Another world leader that can give us hope of a better world. But more importantly – a better us. Obama – this election is about you and me. I put my trust in you. I am a cynic. I don’t think the world will get better. I just do what I do to make sure it doesn’t get too much worse. It feels like we are treading water. Not actually drowning. But not moving. We know that we will tire and eventually die fighting the waves of injustice, hunger, illness, poverty and war – all the worse things we face each day in this little globe of ours. Yes. I am a cynical and angry African. Angry because the world is not as complex as they would like us to believe. Angry because the problems we face are not that difficult to solve. Not if we all stand together and follow a leader we can believe will give it a good shot. Angry because our leaders laugh at us behind our backs. Yes. I am a cynical man. But I believe in you. I believe you are the man you say you are. But this is the last time I will do this. You will be the man and President we want you to be. You owe this to us. You owe this to me. You owe me the same belief in yourself that I have. You owe me another chance to believe in our leaders. You owe yourself a chance to be the leader I believe in. Obama – never forget that this is about you and me. My belief in you as the last chance for our political leaders to make me believe in them again. Don’t disappoint me. I don’t think I have it in me to believe in another one again. It’s you and me, Obama.

I know that this is a heavy burden to carry. The burden of hope. Hope of a better world. Hope of a better America. Hope of a better President undefined by race. Hope of a better future. My hope in you. But I know you have it in you. Stand strong and we will stand with you. We are the voices you hear when it goes quiet. We are the faces you see when the lights go out at night. We are you. Be strong. Be us. Be with us. Don’t ever forget the burden of hope. Our hope.

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