One Hundred Years of Madiba

.NEW. Nelson Mandela, in his lifetime, had a way of getting people’s attention. Whether it was living up to his African childhood name of Rolihlahla — “one who shakes the tree” or stirs up trouble — or serving as the first chief of a liberation army connected to his political party, the African National Congress, or going to prison for nearly three decades for his beliefs, or emerging from that prison hell to become the first elected president of a free and democratic South Africa, he commanded people’s attention and could not be ignored.

The same holds true in death. Mandela died at age 95 in December 2013, but less than five years later, South Africa and the world this year are celebrating the centenary of Madiba, the tribal clan name by which most South Africans affectionately know Mandela, their beloved former leader.

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No Necktie for a Dictator

It was January 1990 and here I was at a conference center in Harare, the capital city of the southern African nation of Zimbabwe, sniffing around for some kind of a good story I might report at a high-level, ministerial meeting of British Commonwealth nations — a gathering of sovereign countries, like Zimbabwe, that still bowed down and answered to their former colonial master, the United Kingdom, out of economic necessity and survival. Nothing much happening here, I thought, and I was just about ready to leave the boring governmental event empty-handed.

Then, luck of all luck, I spied over in an isolated corner of the lobby of the conference center a VIP greeting the occasional straggling guest. But it was not just any old VIP. It was Robert Gabriel Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe, who had just delivered the welcoming speech.

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Happy Thanks-Taking Day, America

Every year on this day, the fourth Thursday of November, people all over the United States celebrate an almost sacred national holiday called Thanksgiving Day. It is a day when American families from all walks of life across the nation take time out of their busy lives to gather together and celebrate all that they have to be thankful for in life.

Turkey is the main dish served at these sumptuous Thanksgiving Day feasts, evoking long-distant memories dating back to the year 1621, when the early Europeans settlers in the U.S. sat down together with members of the indigenous First Nations and made peace and shared the bountiful harvest of the land.

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America’s Oil Coup in Venezuela

The recent utterance by so-called president Donald Trump of the United States about using a “military option” in dealing with the South American nation of Venezuela has shifted a slow-motion coup d’état into crisis mode, with the very real possibility now existing that the socialist government of Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro could fall in the near future.

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Castro’s Most Enduring Legacy: An African Story

Say the words “Cuito Cuanavale” to the average American citizen, liberal and conservative alike, and you’re likely to get a shrug and a blank stare in response. Add the name “Fidel Castro” to that phrase and you’ll instantly notice a nervous tick in their squinting eyes. Dare to throw the word “hero” into the mix and you’ll see a definite jerking motion in their knees and a reddening in the face.

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Time to Reject the Politics of Fear

It was an amazing transformation to see: Here were all these hard-core, politically progressive persons steadfastly maintaining that Bernie Sanders was the best and only viable candidate in the United States presidential election of 2016. And for good reason. He was promising them a revolution, and it looked like he was indeed taking the masses city by city up to the gates of the towering castle, at which point the masses would barge in and seize power from the crooked kings and queens. A new day was indeed coming in which the American people would rule.

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The Presidential Election Cycle Morning-After Blues

It was a rough and wild ride, one you knew you’d never forget, and you drowsily awake in a state of lingering bliss as the sun rises on a Friday morning in late January 2017. It’s a brand-new day. You nudge your partner. “Hey sleepyhead, you awake?”

Your partner groans and stretches, then rolls over to face you, with the covers pulled up to her chin. It’s none other Hillary Rodham Clinton, or more intimately “H♡”, as you always liked to call her in your many illicit love notes to her. Her bleached-blonde hair still perfectly coiffed, she smiles sheepishly back at you.

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Sisters for Hillary, Unite!

A recently published New York Times article reported on how the campaign message this year of a U.S. presidential candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton, is apparently not being embraced by younger generations of women and feminists in the USA.

Two icons of American female success quoted in the story — Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright — in particular caused a bit of an uproar. While it seems that my progressive sisters on social media and elsewhere have this matter well under control and are putting everything into proper perspective for the press, for what it’s worth I offer a few independent observations of my own. After all, if Steinem and Albright are the type of people who are waving the banner for Hillary Clinton, then it’s important that we know all about them.

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The Death of Article 9?

Article 9. [1] Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.

[2] In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.

This historic and important clause in Japan’s postwar Constitution, ratified in 1947, stands unique in the world for its clear renunciation of war and “war potential” as a policy of the state.


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