Sunday, August 31, 2008

American politics is very African, thank you!

Of all the industrialised democracies, the one whose politics could be most recognisable to Africans right now is the USA — and Italy, some might argue.

In the run-up, and in the first two days of the Democratic Party convention, a lot of the news was about whether Senator Hillary Clinton who was beaten by Senator Barack Obama in the party’s nomination, would come out unequivocally and urge her supporters to vote for Obama in the November presidential race.

On Tuesday night, Mrs Clinton delivered a rousing speech that left many teary-eyed, and urged her supporters and party to unite behind her rival, Obama.

As one newspaper put it, she “reaffirm[ed] her support for Obama in soaring and unconditional language.”

Hillary and her supporters had been unhappy that she was not considered by Obama as his VP choice, and generally not treated with enough respect.

Former President Bill Clinton, in particular, was less conciliatory in public than his wife towards Obama, and continued to needle him in speeches.

As several commentators have put it, the Democratic Party is still largely a “party of the Clintons”. Obama’s “mistake”, then, is that in beating Hillary, for whom winning the nomination was supposed to be a Sunday walk in the park, he cheated her out of a birthright.

It is quite unusual in a mature democracy for a political party to be considered the private property of a family.

There are two surprising things about this.

First, the American media were content to make a big story of it without the smallest question.

I watched CNN for four hours late on Monday and Tuesday nights. Several Clintonites were trotted out to gripe about how their woman had been treated badly by the Obama camp, and all the talking heads beat up on the issue.

For those two days, hardly a single Obama supporter was interviewed for an alternative view! For both nights, there was just one panellist appearing to argue that the media had made too much of the anger of the Clinton camp.

The second surprising thing about this is that the Democratic Party is supposed to be America’s progressive party, yet it is caught up in feudal politics. If it had been the Republicans, you might have been tempted to say it is understandable.

In Africa, we have seen what is happening in Tanzania where former President Julius Nyerere’s prestige allowed him to continue to be the most powerful force in the ruling CCM after he stepped down, and in fact, he continues to influence some party affairs from the grave.

This influence is not always benign. In Togo, when its long-serving dictator Gnassingbe Eyadema died in 2005, the army suspended the constitution and picked his son, Faure Eyadema, who was already a minister in his father’s government, to succeed him. Inevitably, he later stole the presidential election for himself.

One of the most outspoken critics of Faure’s takeover was Togo’s exiled opposition leader Gilchrist Olympio, considered president-in-waiting should the country ever become truly democratic.

The irony is that Olympio himself is a political heir. His father, Sylvanus Olympio, was Togo’s first president. He was murdered by Faure’s father in a military coup in 1963.

One of the nastiest fall-outs we have seen between a sitting president and his predecessor, who was reluctant to let go of control of the party, was in Malawi where President Bingu wa Mutharika feuded bitterly with former president Bakili Muluzi who still held sway over the United Democratic Front. In the end, Mutharika dumped UDF and formed his own Democratic Progressive Party.

This business of succeeding a relative or spouse, or riding on the political prestige of your relative, however, is very American. It is as rife in the Republican Party as it is in the Democratic Party.

There was President George Bush, Senior. Then now President George Bush, Junior. His brother Jeb is governor in Florida. Then there is the Kennedy clan, and even a firebrand like civil rights leader, Jesse Jackson, has a son who is a Congressman.

That said, if Obama wins and becomes president, going by the performance of his wife, Michelle, at the convention on Monday night, who knows, she might be the future Senator from Illinois.

Talking of making up, we recommend that everyone who wants to learn how it is done should travel to Somerset in England and consult one Mr John Matthews.

Matthews, the Daily Telegraph reports, suspected that his wife, Pam, was having an affair with Mr Neil Edwards, a local cricket star.

Edwards vehemently denies the affair. The couple have since made up.

However, the way Matthews expressed his frustration at Edwards is one for the ages. He went to Edward’s flat and blocked his toilet, the bath plughole, scratched a plasma television screen, tore the curtains, and poured grime over the furniture.

He left the best for last — he went for Edward’s bed, the scene of the crime, as it were, and sawed it into half. With that, Matthews is reported to have “felt an enormous emotional burden lifted off him”.

Old habits die hard

I thought dubya stopped drinking? Or is he letting loose now that his presidency is closing? In any case, he was at Beijing, doing what he does best: making a fool of himself!


It is a very sad day when innocent spirits can be massacred in this manner. The biggest sin is when good people remain silent to these atrocities are committed. What is the human race coming to?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Debunking Jerome ‘Bigot’ Corsi’s Smear Attack Book: ‘The Obama Nation’

LIE: “Obama could offer no explanation of why Rita Rezko bought the vacant lot instead…” [p 169]


Obama Said Rezko Never Explained That He Was Putting The Lot Under Rita Rezko’s Name And Obama Said He Didn’t Discover It Until The Story Broke In The Tribune.
Obama was asked, “Did he ever explain to you what he was doing?” Obama replied, “No. I didn’t discover it until the issue of him purchasing this lot broke through, uh, through you.” [Chicago Tribune Editorial Board Transcript, 3/14/08]

LIE: “As fully expected, the Obama campaign continued to maintain Obama had never met Auchi, saying in effect that Levine had committed perjury.” [p 173]


Auchi Did Not Recall Any Direct Contact With Obama.
“Mr Auchi’s lawyer told the Standard: ‘As far as he
can remember he has had no direct contact with Mr Obama.’” [The Evening Standard (London), 2/27/08]

Pepper: Auchi Had “No Recollection” Of Meeting Obama Or Michelle. The Washington Post reported, “A lawyer for Auchi, Alasdair Pepper, told me by phone from London that his client also had ‘no recollection’ of any meeting with either Obama or his wife.” [Washington Post, 4/16/08]

LIE: “When he was incarcerated in Iraq, Alsammarae contacted multiple elected officials in the United States to help him. Obama’s Senate office has admitted Obama sought information from the US State Department about Alsammarae on October 16, 2006, and got a reply from the US consul in Iraq about a week later.” [p 174]


Obama Senate Office Emails Regarding Alsammarae Appear “Routine.”
Newsweek reported, “Obama claims that his administration would be ‘open’ and ‘transparent.’ To prove the point, his campaign released emails his Senate office exchanged with U.S. officials on behalf of a man imprisoned in Iraq. The intervention had the potential to cause trouble for Obama because the man, Aiham Al-Sammarae, was a business associate of Antoin (Tony) Rezko, the political fund-raiser now on trial for corruption in Chicago. Obama has taken heat for his murky relationship with Rezko, a political fixer who had a part in Obama’s purchase of a house. (Obama now calls that transaction ‘boneheaded’ and says he has given Rezko-related campaign donations to charity.) Conservative bloggers have played up the Al-Sammarae connection as a key to the Rezko story. Despite requests from NEWSWEEK, the Obama camp initially declined to release the e-mails. Late last week they did,
and the e-mail exchange appears routine.” [Newsweek, 3/17/08]

Obama’s Office Contacted State, Forwarded The Reply To Alsammarae’s Daughter And “Took No Further Action.” “Alsammarae’s family contacted multiple elected officials, including Obama’s U.S. Senate office, when Alsammarae was being held in Iraq. Obama’s office sought information from the State Department about Alsammarae on Oct. 16, 2006, and got a reply from the U.S. Consul in Iraq about a week later. Obama’s staff forwarded that reply to Alsammarae’s daughter and took no further action.” [Chicago Sun-Times, 4/29/08]

Obama’s Office Was Contacted By Alsammarae’s Daughter, Sent Letters To The US Embassy In Iraq And The US State Department. The Chicago Daily Herald reported, “The daughter of an Oak Brook man who returned to his native Iraq to help rebuild the country is pleading for the federal government to step in after he was found guilty on corruption charges…Dania Alsammarae said her father, Aiham, is innocent and believes he could be killed if sent to an Iraqi prison. Now, the family is reaching out to Illinois’ U.S. senators, Barack Obama and Dick Durbin, to shield the elder Alsammarae from Iraqi prison…Obama’s office has sent letters to the U.S. Embassy in Iraq and to the U.S. State Department seeking a probe into the matter, said Julian Green, Obama’s spokesman. Green said both agencies are investigating the case. ‘This is an active investigation and we haven’t gotten any additional information to give any type of idea of how this investigation is going to turn out,’ Green said.” [Chicago Daily Herald, 10/19/06]

LIE: “After Kellman hired him, Obama followed Alinsky’s rules by moving into the Hyde Park-Kenwood area he had been assigned to organize.” [p 184]

Obama Was A Community Organizer In Altgeld Gardens. US News reported, “As a community organizer in the Altgeld Gardens public housing project in the mid-1980s, Obama, then 23, quickly emerged as a tireless and pragmatic advocate for the community—traits that characterize the kind of president he says he wants to be.” [US News, 8/26/07]

Obama Lived In Hyde Park-Kenwood When He Was A Community Organizer. The Los Angeles Times reported, “Obama shared a one-bedroom apartment with his gray cat, Max, in Hyde Park-Kenwood - the
racially and economically diverse University of Chicago neighborhood where he lives today in an elegant Georgian revival house with his wife, Michelle, and their two daughters. Back then he owned little more than a bed, a table and crates stacked with fiction and social science books.” [Los Angeles Times, 3/2/08]

LIE: “When the 1995 Chicago Reader article surfaced in 2008, Obama supporters predictably tried to distance him from the Million Man March, arguing Obama had attended the event as an observer, not as a participant. Still, Obama’s reaction at the time was enthusiastic.” [p 191]

REALITY: IN 1995, OBAMA CRITICIZED – AT LENGTH – FARRAKHAN’S MESSAGE Obama Praised The March For Bringing African American Men Together, But Criticized The March For Its Lack Of Positive Agenda And For Its Separatist Goals. Obama said, “What I saw was a powerful demonstration of an impulse and need for African-American men to come together to recognize each other and affirm our rightful place in the society…here was a profound sense that African-American men were ready to make a commitment to bring about change in our communities and lives. But what was lacking among march organizers was a positive agenda, a coherent agenda for change. Without this agenda a lot of this energy is going to dissipate. Just as holding hands and singing ‘We shall overcome’ is not going to do it, exhorting youth to have pride in their race, give up drugs and crime, is not going to do it if we can’t find jobs and futures for the 50 percent of black youth who are unemployed, underemployed, and full of bitterness and rage. Exhortations are not enough, nor are the notions that we can create a black economy within America that is hermetically sealed from the rest of the economy and seriously tackle the major issues confronting us.” [Chicago Reader, 12/8/95]

Obama Said That Solutions For Black America Must Come From A “Multicultural, Interdependent, And International Economy” Because “Cursing Out White Folks Is Not Going To Get The Job Done. Anti-Semitic And Anti-Asian Statement Are Not Going To Lift Us Up.” Obama said, “Any solution to our unemployment catastrophe must arise from us working creatively within a multicultural, interdependent, and international economy. Any African-Americans who are only talking about racism as a barrier to our success are seriously misled if they don’t also come to grips with the larger economic forces that are creating economic insecurity for all workers--whites, Latinos, and Asians. We must deal with the forces that are depressing wages, lopping off people’s benefits right and left, and creating an earnings gap between CEOs and the lowest-paid worker that has risen in the last 20 years from a ratio of 10 to 1 to one of better than 100 to 1. This doesn’t suggest that the need to look inward emphasized by the march isn’t important, and that these African-American tribal affinities aren’t legitimate. These are mean, cruel times, exemplified by a ‘lock ‘em up, take no prisoners’ mentality that dominates the Republican-led Congress. Historically, African-Americans have turned inward and towards black nationalism whenever they have a sense, as we do now, that the mainstream has rebuffed us, and that white Americans couldn’t care less about the profound problems African-Americans are facing. But cursing out white folks is not going to get the job done. Anti-Semitic and anti-Asian statements are not going to lift us up. We’ve got some hard nuts-and-bolts organizing and planning to do. We’ve got communities to build.” [Chicago Reader, 12/8/95]

LIE: “Kessler claimed he and Obama both heard Wright preach a sermon that day in which the preacher blamed the ‘white arrogance’ of America’s Caucasian majority for the world’s suffering, especially the oppression of blacks.” [p 196]

REALITY: OBAMA WAS IN FLORIDA THE DAY OF WRIGHT’S SERMON New York Times: Obama Was In Florida On The Day That Kessler Said He Was In Chicago. The New York Times reported, “Mr. Obama, however, was giving a speech in Florida that afternoon, and his campaign reported he had not attended Mr. Wright’s church that day.” [New York Times, 8/13/08]

LIE: “Axelrod most likely liked how the speech worked with his client in Massachusetts and so decided to try it once again with Obama, perhaps thinking no one would notice.” [p 227]

REALITY: PLAGIARISM ATTACK WAS A “BASELESS AND DESPERATE PLOY” Obama And Patrick Have Admitted To Trading Each Others’ Lines. Obama said, “But you know in the end, don’t vote your fears. I’m stealing this line from my buddy (Massachusetts Gov.) Deval Patrick who stole a whole bunch of lines from me when he ran for the governorship, but it’s the right one, don’t vote your fears, vote your aspirations. Vote what you believe.” [The New Republic, 2/18/08; ABC News, 12/21/07]

Melber: Attack “Panned As A Baseless And Desperate Ploy.” Ari Melber wrote, “The Clinton Campaign’s attack on Obama’s use of the line ‘just words’ was widely panned as a baseless and desperate ploy. Her coverup might go over even worse.” [The Nation, 2/19/08]

Jimmy Carter Speechwriter Fallows: Plagiarism Charge Is “Bogus And Overstated.” James Fallows wrote, “The “plagiarism” flap over Barack Obama is bogus and overstated. It makes me think worse about whoever is pushing this complaint, rather than about Obama himself…Moreover, on the specific Patrick/Obama point at issue: it’s not as if no one had thought of this argument (about hope and inspiration), or these examples -- FDR, JFK, MLK Jr -- before Deval Patrick uttered them. Speechwriters could hardly exist without this theme or these illustrations!...The list goes on and leads to this: Talk about hope and inspiration, and you are going to use the examples both Patrick and Obama used -- and that I, as just one political speechwriter among legions, have used many times.” [James Fallows, 2/19/08]

Bill Clinton Speechwriter Kusnet: “Next Scandal, Please.” Bill Clinton speechwriter David Kusnet wrote, “If plagiarism is borrowing rhetoric without permission, Patrick most likely is happy to have Obama sound similar notes, such as hope and inspiration being more than “just words.” Even if Obama and Patrick didn’t know each other, they might use some of the same phrases because similar public figures frequently draw on common streams of public rhetoric…Next scandal, please.” [The New Republic, 2/18/08]

Big Brother is watching...

Convinced that it encouraged immorality former Namibian President Sam Nujoma called for the ban of Big Brother Africa television reality show. But the NBC channel that was airing it resisted the veto orders.

The Malawian parliament went farther and banned it too but the country’s high court later lifted the ban. Elsewhere, a church leader prayed for Ugandan participant Gaetano Kagwa to be voted out in a bid to stem the show’s popularity.

He should have spared his breath.

“Gae” never won, but he became Uganda’s top celebrity and a continental icon landing flashy jobs and minting lots of dough in the process. We recently had him here emceeing the Tusker Project Fame 2 music reality show.

The third edition of Big Brother Africa began last Sunday on DStv. Welcome to another round of cheek, chutzpah, lovey-doveys, treachery, debauchery, decadence, fun, fame, infamy…name it. It is time once again for the voyeuristic excitement that only a television reality show starring 12 strangers from different countries holed up together under the constant scrutiny of TV cameras, provides. As you brace yourselves for another three-month slew of screened, snoopy, “sleazertainment”, a word on the babes and dudes gunning for the show’s KSh6.5 million top prize:

SHEILA (Kenya)
“Sheila is cool but has some weird sense of entitlement. She must slow down,” is what one-viewer thinks of sassy Sheila Kwamboka, Kenya’s poster girl in the Big Brother House. Other viewers, according to their two cents worth posted on the show’s website, also think she’s carving out a bad, Tomboy image. Listen to them: “At least Sheila is better than Jeff… but she’s a loud mouth, and should let others shine.” Another goes: “I know it is an adult show, but surely Sheila should cut down on her vulgar language… and please stop smoking, its not good for your health,” goes the advice.

Indeed, the 23-year old extroverted Nairobian’s bad habit is poking fun at others. Thumb through her book shelf and you will find John Grisham’s, The Client and Iyanla Vanzant’s Yesterday I Cried --- the novel on how yesterday’s tears can be today’s hope. As for music, just give the outspoken “people person” a collection from the Material Girl and Scarface. Brian de Palma’s violent, granular classic starring Al Pacino does it in the movies department.

Buying her parents a house and starting a marketing firm would be on the cards if this former television reporter struts away with the Sh6.5 million prize. After all, teachers often told the international relations degree student that she “has potential”. If that happens, Sheila will be the first big Kenyan sister to win Big Brother Africa. Kenya hasn’t provided the luckiest housemates, you know. In the last outing, we were bestowed with a “disaster” answering to the name Jeff Anthony Omondi Kariaga, from Kisum City. He was the second evictee in Big Brother Africa 2 after only 28 colourless days in the house last year. Jeff woke up early to entertain viewers with a suspicious set of press-ups — some cheekily accused him of molesting South African earth. Big Brother Africa 1 in 2003 had Alex Kasembeli Holi of the “I don’t care” fame who rattled others with his bratty attitude that made him the third housemate to be shown the door. As for Sheila. Let’s wait and see.

MORRIS (Uganda)

Big Brother buffs feel Morris Herbert Mugisha is being harassed by Tanzania’s Latoya. “She’s trying too hard,” writes one. Morris is the straightforward hater of racism, war mongering, hypocrisy and failure. The 29-year old from Kampala plans to use Big Brother to “elevate myself more in terms of my profession to tap into the international market.” He is dying to visit Hollywood. “Choose your friends wisely,” was the best advice the sometimes-irritable photographer, model and father of one daughter, ever received. He will need it. Uganda has produced arguably the most visible Big Brother contestant in Gaetano Kaggwa. And they will be looking for another Gae in Morris. Who still remembers the mind-numbing Maureen Namatovu in BBA2 last year?

LATOYA (Tanzania)
Don’t mistake her for La Toya Jackson, the sister to Wacko Jacko who posed nude for Playboy under duress from her hubby, Jack Gordon. Latoya Lyakurwa, a 21-year-old liberal, vivacious secretary from Arusha thinks she has the “right ingredients to spice up the house.” And viewers already think she’s, “gorgeous… really promiscuous... and already seems like a drama queen.” Tanzania has produced two unforgettable housemates: Mwisho Mwampamba, the runner up in Big Brother Africa 1, and amorous Richard Bezuidenhout, the winner of BBA2 last year.

UTI (Nigeria)
One viewer hates the big brother house green themed décor, which reminds him of algae. But most buffs like Uti Nwachukwu, the ‘broda’ from Lagos who has been a good fella, besides being the hunk of the house. “Uti shouldn’t hang out with (Ghanaian) Mimi when (Namibian) Lucille is there,” goes the advice of one who has already chosen him a partner. Nigeria gave us “Bayo” Adetomiwa, the sixth evictee in Big Brother 1. Then Ofunneka Malokwu, the ‘mother’ and the hitherto sinless housemate who eventually became a drinker (famously shagging Richard's leg on that fateful Friday, in the process) and runner up of BBA2.

THAMI (South Africa)
The way Kenyans got tired of Jeff appears to be the same way viewers down south are feeling towards Thamsanqa Prusent, 26, from Jo’burg who aspires to become a millionaire this year. “You have no game. Show these guys what SA can do…” one touts him. The opinionated entrepreneur who is “hardly ever wrong” has special talent too in “pretending to listen.” If Thami wins, he will spend the money globetrotting to Asia, South America and other African destinations. Won’t that surely reduce him to a “thousandnaire”? South Africa has had Abergail Plaatjies (Abby)– the one who got all cheek and jawl with Gaetano in BBA1. Then there was the over-confident Lerato Sengadi, the collector of Converse sneakers in BBA2. Both were fifth evictees.

This rapper from Lusaka thinks he’s charismatic, but can be insulting at times. Takondwa Nkonjera loves the colour of money, meaning he abhors brokenness. But viewers think “TK” and Tawana “must watch out....they might be going home very soon.” No reasons are given. Zambia produced the first winner in Big Brother 1 via Cherise "Tumba" Makubale. Call centre operator Maxwell Chongu became the fourth evictee in BBA2.

RICCO (Angola)
Some think Ricco has Kenya’s “Sheila on a golden platter,” whatever that means, while others think he’s “such a baby, like Alex (Holi) of BBA1.” Ricardo David Ferreira Venancio is the mouthful name of this 21-year old self confessed disorganised and lazy dude who has lived in four countries, on two continents. The cute, but retiring Angolan, Bruna Estivão, was the first ejectee out of BBA1. Remember the memorable Tatiana Durão, the siren who pulled a tryst with the married Bezuidenhout in BBA2? Tatiana was the 10th evictee. These Angolans!

TAWANA (Botswana)
By far the most salacious comments have been thrown at Tawana Lebani, a qualified microbiologist and goat farm owner, who at 31, doubles as the grey head of the house. She admits to “speaking before she thinks.” Listen to the “tubed” tantrums: “Tawana should stop smoking if her aim is to win the Sh6.5 million… Tawana rocks God!... she has the best attitude towards life. But her weakest point is not knowing what is not worth yelling for.” Botswana had Warona Setshwaelo, the seventh evictee of the very big chest fame in BBA1. There was also the vertically challenged Justice Motlhabani who was ran out first of BBA2.

MIMI (Ghana)
Another “Jeff”: “Mimi sucks, Ghana brothers deserve more than this… This Mimi girl should not disgrace us… Mimi is too fake and should be herself,” are what some viewers’ think of Wilhelmina Abu-Andani, 27, whose strategy for winning is “being very complicated.” But here is the winner: “Mimi should hook up with Uti since Ghana and Nigeria are like cigarette and lighter….give us more fire!” Sammi Kwame, the musically talented radio presenter was Ghana’s first contestant and the fourth evictee in BBA1. Next came Kwaku Asamoah, the back-stabber who felt he was God’s gift to women. He was the seventh evictee in BBA2.

HAZEL (Malawi)
Hazel Warren, 25, is said to be casting a roving eye at Thami. This lass from Lilongwe runs a bridal-oriented business on the side, but would spend her win on property. Malawi’s Zein Dudha, a marketing manager, was evicted second in BBA1, while Code Sangala, a DJ, Was booted eighth in BBA2.

LUCILLE (Namibia)
“Lucille is cool and hotter than hot… she’s low on airtime that she has resorted to keeping quiet… portable Lucille… goes the views on Lucille Naobes who “embarrasses herself almost daily” and “may do anything to get what is mine.” Stefan Ludik was Namibia’s first contestant and eighth evictee in 2003. Meryl Shikwambane, the girl who couldn’t hold her drink, but had a great pair of tits & ass, was the third housemate shown the door in BBA2.

MUNYA (Zimbabwe)
Voted so far as one of the most intelligent and mysterious housemate. Passionate about acting, film, and television, the ambitious, 22-year-old Munyaradzi Chidzonga from Harare believes he was made a housemate because of his charm, enthusiasm and confidence. Remember the hushed, reserved Zim girl Tapuwa Mhere who finished second runner-up in BBA1? What about pretender Bertha Zakeyo, the treacherous and abrasive hated housemate who was sixth on eviction rota I BBA2?

Big Brother Africa is a three month long television reality show in which a group of strangers live together in the Big Brother House, under the continuous stare of 27 cameras and ‘ear’ of 48 microphones, except when using the toilet. Eligible contestants are normally vocal, fluent in English, fun-loving, creative, original, articulate, and tolerant of views and lifestyles of others. No contact with the outside world is allowed, except access to a psychologist, doctor or dentist. Even attending a funeral of a loved one equals self eviction. The contestants attempt to win a hefty cash prize by avoiding periodic, usually publicly voted, evictions.

The show’s idea began in 1997, and the first Big Brother show eventually aired on the Veronica TV channel in Netherlands two years later. The African edition made its debut in 2003, and the franchise has been a crossover success in over 70 different countries. Last years’ BBA2 received over 900,000 text messages, over 14 million page impressions registered on the show’s website and over four million video clips viewed online. Revenues generated via text message votes are split between the producers after offsetting expenses.

The show’s name comes from George Orwell’s 1949 novel, 1984, that features an all seeing, all-controlling, Big Brother.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Transcript of Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic convention

Transcript of remarks as prepared for delivery

To Chairman Dean and my great friend Dick Durbin; and to all my fellow citizens of this great nation; With profound gratitude and great humility, I accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States. Let me express my thanks to the historic slate of candidates who accompanied me on this journey, and especially the one who travelled the farthest - a champion for working Americans and an inspiration to my daughters and to yours -- Hillary Rodham Clinton. To President Clinton, who last night made the case for change as only he can make it; to Ted Kennedy, who embodies the spirit of service; and to the next Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, I thank you. I am grateful to finish this journey with one of the finest statesmen of our time, a man at ease with everyone from world leaders to the conductors on the Amtrak train he still takes home every night. To the love of my life, our next First Lady, Michelle Obama, and to Sasha and Malia - I love you so much, and I'm so proud of all of you.

Four years ago, I stood before you and told you my story - of the brief union between a young man from Kenya and a young woman from Kansas who weren't well-off or well-known, but shared a belief that in America , their son could achieve whatever he put his mind to. It is that promise that has always set this country apart - that through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams as well.

That's why I stand here tonight. Because for two hundred and thirty two years, at each moment when that promise was in jeopardy, ordinary men and women - students and soldiers, farmers and teachers, nurses and janitors -- found the courage to keep it alive. We meet at one of those defining moments - a moment when our nation is at war, our economy is in turmoil, and the American promise has been threatened once more.

Tonight, more Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less. More of you have lost your homes and even more are watching your home values plummet. More of you have cars you can't afford to drive, credit card bills you can't afford to pay, and tuition that's beyond your reach. These challenges are not all of government's making. But the failure to respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and the failed policies of George W. Bush. America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this.

This country is more decent than one where a woman in Ohio , on the brink of retirement, finds herself one illness away from disaster after a lifetime of hard work. This country is more generous than one where a man in Indiana has to pack up the equipment he's worked on for twenty years and watch it shipped off to China , and then chokes up as he explains how he felt like a failure when he went home to tell his family the news.

We are more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our streets and families slide into poverty; that sits on its hands while a major American city drowns before our eyes. Tonight, I say to the American people, to Democrats and Republicans and Independents across this great land - enough! This moment - this election - is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive. Because next week, in Minnesota , the same party that brought you two terms of George Bush and Dick Cheney will ask this country for a third. And we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look like the last eight. On November 4th, we must stand up and say: "Eight is enough."

Now let there be no doubt. The Republican nominee, John McCain, has worn the uniform of our country with bravery and distinction, and for that we owe him our gratitude and respect. And next week, we'll also hear about those occasions when he's broken with his party as evidence that he can deliver the change that we need. But the record's clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush ninety percent of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than ninety percent of the time? I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to take a ten percent chance on change.

The truth is, on issue after issue that would make a difference in your lives - on health care and education and the economy - Senator McCain has been anything but independent. He said that our economy has made "great progress" under this President. He said that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. And when one of his chief advisors - the man who wrote his economic plan - was talking about the anxiety Americans are feeling, he said that we were just suffering from a "mental recession," and that we've become, and I quote, "a nation of whiners."

'Discredited philosophy'
A nation of whiners? Tell that to the proud auto workers at a Michigan plant who, after they found out it was closing, kept showing up every day and working as hard as ever, because they knew there were people who counted on the brakes that they made. Tell that to the military families who shoulder their burdens silently as they watch their loved ones leave for their third or fourth or fifth tour of duty. These are not whiners. They work hard and give back and keep going without complaint. These are the Americans that I know.

Now, I don't believe that Senator McCain doesn't care what's going on in the lives of Americans. I just think he doesn't know. Why else would he define middle-class as someone making under five million dollars a year? How else could he propose hundreds of billions in tax breaks for big corporations and oil companies but not one penny of tax relief to more than one hundred million Americans? How else could he offer a health care plan that would actually tax people's benefits, or an education plan that would do nothing to help families pay for college, or a plan that would privatize Social Security and gamble your retirement?

It's not because John McCain doesn't care. It's because John McCain doesn't get it. For over two decades, he's subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy - give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is - you're on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps - even if you don't have boots. You're on your own. Well it's time for them to own their failure. It's time for us to change America.

Paying the mortgage
You see, we Democrats have a very different measure of what constitutes progress in this country. We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage; whether you can put a little extra money away at the end of each month so you can someday watch your child receive her college diploma. We measure progress in the 23 million new jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was President - when the average American family saw its income go up $7,500 instead of down $2,000 like it has under George Bush.

We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a new business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off to look after a sick kid without losing her job - an economy that honours the dignity of work. The fundamentals we use to measure economic strength are whether we are living up to that fundamental promise that has made this country great - a promise that is the only reason I am standing here tonight.

Because in the faces of those young veterans who come back from Iraq and Afghanistan , I see my grandfather, who signed up after Pearl Harbour , marched in Patton's Army, and was rewarded by a grateful nation with the chance to go to college on the GI Bill. In the face of that young student who sleeps just three hours before working the night shift, I think about my mom, who raised my sister and me on her own while she worked and earned her degree; who once turned to food stamps but was still able to send us to the best schools in the country with the help of student loans and scholarships.

'My heroes'
When I listen to another worker tell me that his factory has shut down, I remember all those men and women on the South Side of Chicago who I stood by and fought for two decades ago after the local steel plant closed. And when I hear a woman talk about the difficulties of starting her own business, I think about my grandmother, who worked her way up from the secretarial pool to middle-management, despite years of being passed over for promotions because she was a woman. She's the one who taught me about hard work. She's the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life. She poured everything she had into me. And although she can no longer travel, I know that she's watching tonight, and that tonight is her night as well.

I don't know what kind of lives John McCain thinks that celebrities lead, but this has been mine. These are my heroes. Theirs are the stories that shaped me. And it is on their behalf that I intend to win this election and keep our promise alive as President of the United States.

What is that promise?

It's a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have the obligation to treat each other with dignity and respect.

It's a promise that says the market should reward drive and innovation and generate growth, but that businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road.
Ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves - protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology.

Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who's willing to work. That's the promise of America - the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper. That's the promise we need to keep. That's the change we need right now. So let me spell out exactly what that change would mean if I am President.

Workers' tax cuts
Change means a tax code that doesn't reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it. Unlike John McCain, I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America. I will eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and the start-ups that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.

I will cut taxes - cut taxes - for 95% of all working families. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class. And for the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as President: in ten years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.

Washington's been talking about our oil addiction for the last thirty years, and John McCain has been there for twenty-six of them. In that time, he's said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, no to investments in renewable energy, no to renewable fuels. And today, we import triple the amount of oil as the day that Senator McCain took office. Now is the time to end this addiction, and to understand that drilling is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution. Not even close.

As President, I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I'll help our auto companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America . I'll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars. And I'll invest 150 billion dollars over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy - wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and five million new jobs that pay well and can't ever be outsourced.

America, now is not the time for small plans.

Now is the time to finally meet our moral obligation to provide every child a world-class education, because it will take nothing less to compete in the global economy. Michelle and I are only here tonight because we were given a chance at an education. And I will not settle for an America where some kids don't have that chance. I'll invest in early childhood education. I'll recruit an army of new teachers, and pay them higher salaries and give them more support. And in exchange, I'll ask for higher standards and more accountability. And we will keep our promise to every young American - if you commit to serving your community or your country, we will make sure you can afford a college education.

Paid sick days
Now is the time to finally keep the promise of affordable, accessible health care for every single American. If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don't, you'll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves. And as someone who watched my mother argue with insurance companies while she lay in bed dying of cancer, I will make certain those companies stop discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.
Now is the time to help families with paid sick days and better family leave, because nobody in America should have to choose between keeping their jobs and caring for a sick child or ailing parent.

Now is the time to change our bankruptcy laws, so that your pensions are protected ahead of CEO bonuses; and the time to protect Social Security for future generations. And now is the time to keep the promise of equal pay for an equal day's work, because I want my daughters to have exactly the same opportunities as your sons.

Now, many of these plans will cost money, which is why I've laid out how I'll pay for every dime - by closing corporate loopholes and tax havens that don't help America grow. But I will also go through the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less - because we cannot meet twenty-first century challenges with a twentieth century bureaucracy. And Democrats, we must also admit that fulfilling America 's promise will require more than just money. It will require a renewed sense of responsibility from each of us to recover what John F. Kennedy called our "intellectual and moral strength." Yes, government must lead on energy independence, but each of us must do our part to make our homes and businesses more efficient. Yes, we must provide more ladders to success for young men who fall into lives of crime and despair. But we must also admit that programs alone can't replace parents; that government can't turn off the television and make a child do her homework; that fathers must take more responsibility for providing the love and guidance their children need. Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility - that's the essence of America 's promise.

And just as we keep our promise to the next generation here at home, so must we keep America 's promise abroad. If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament, and judgment, to serve as the next Commander-in-Chief, that's a debate I'm ready to have.

For while Senator McCain was turning his sights to Iraq just days after 9/11, I stood up and opposed this war, knowing that it would distract us from the real threats we face. When John McCain said we could just "muddle through" in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights. John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin Laden to the Gates of Hell - but he won't even go to the cave where he lives.

And today, as my call for a time frame to remove our troops from Iraq has been echoed by the Iraqi government and even the Bush Administration, even after we learned that Iraq has a $79 billion surplus while we're wallowing in deficits, John McCain stands alone in his stubborn refusal to end a misguided war. That's not the judgment we need. That won't keep America safe. We need a President who can face the threats of the future, not keep grasping at the ideas of the past. You don't defeat a terrorist network that operates in eighty countries by occupying Iraq . You don't protect Israel and deter Iran just by talking tough in Washington . You can't truly stand up for Georgia when you've strained our oldest alliances. If John McCain wants to follow George Bush with more tough talk and bad strategy, that is his choice - but it is not the change we need.

We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don't tell me that Democrats won't defend this country. Don't tell me that Democrats won't keep us safe. The Bush-McCain foreign policy has squandered the legacy that generations of Americans -- Democrats and Republicans - have built, and we are here to restore that legacy. As Commander-in-Chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm's way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.
I will end this war in Iraq responsibly, and finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan . I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts. But I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression. I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation; poverty and genocide; climate change and disease. And I will restore our moral standing, so that America is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.

These are the policies I will pursue. And in the weeks ahead, I look forward to debating them with John McCain. But what I will not do is suggest that the Senator takes his positions for political purposes. Because one of the things that we have to change in our politics is the idea that people cannot disagree without challenging each other's character and patriotism.

The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America - they have served the United States of America .
So I've got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first.

America, our work will not be easy. The challenges we face require tough choices, and Democrats as well as Republicans will need to cast off the worn-out ideas and politics of the past. For part of what has been lost these past eight years can't just be measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits. What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose - our sense of higher purpose. And that's what we have to restore.

We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. Passions fly on immigration, but I don't know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers. This too is part of America 's promise - the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort.

I know there are those who dismiss such beliefs as happy talk. They claim that our insistence on something larger, something firmer and more honest in our public life is just a Trojan Horse for higher taxes and the abandonment of traditional values. And that's to be expected. Because if you don't have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.
You make a big election about small things.

And you know what - it's worked before. Because it feeds into the cynicism we all have about government. When Washington doesn't work, all its promises seem empty. If your hopes have been dashed again and again, then it's best to stop hoping, and settle for what you already know.

I get it. I realize that I am not the likeliest candidate for this office. I don't fit the typical pedigree, and I haven't spent my career in the halls of Washington. But I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring. What the nay-sayers don't understand is that this election has never been about me. It's been about you.

For eighteen long months, you have stood up, one by one, and said enough to the politics of the past. You understand that in this election, the greatest risk we can take is to try the same old politics with the same old players and expect a different result. You have shown what history teaches us - that at defining moments like this one, the change we need doesn't come from Washington . Change comes to Washington . Change happens because the American people demand it - because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time.

America, this is one of those moments.

I believe that as hard as it will be, the change we need is coming. Because I've seen it. Because I've lived it. I've seen it in Illinois , when we provided health care to more children and moved more families from welfare to work. I've seen it in Washington , when we worked across party lines to open up government and hold lobbyists more accountable, to give better care for our veterans and keep nuclear weapons out of terrorist hands.

And I've seen it in this campaign. In the young people who voted for the first time, and in those who got involved again after a very long time. In the Republicans who never thought they'd pick up a Democratic ballot, but did. I've seen it in the workers who would rather cut their hours back a day than see their friends lose their jobs, in the soldiers who re-enlist after losing a limb, in the good neighbors who take a stranger in when a hurricane strikes and the floodwaters rise.

Martin Luther King
This country of ours has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military on Earth, but that's not what makes us strong. Our universities and our culture are the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores.

Instead, it is that American spirit - that American promise - that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend.

That promise is our greatest inheritance. It's a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night, and a promise that you make to yours - a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel west; a promise that led workers to picket lines, and women to reach for the ballot.

And it is that promise that forty five years ago today, brought Americans from every corner of this land to stand together on a Mall in Washington , before Lincoln 's Memorial, and hear a young preacher from Georgia speak of his dream. The men and women who gathered there could've heard many things. They could've heard words of anger and discord. They could've been told to succumb to the fear and frustration of so many dreams deferred. But what the people heard instead - people of every creed and colour, from every walk of life - is that in America , our destiny is inextricably linked. That together, our dreams can be one. "We cannot walk alone," the preacher cried. "And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back."

America, we cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done. Not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for. Not with an economy to fix and cities to rebuild and farms to save. Not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend. America , we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone. At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise - that American promise - and in the words of Scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.

Thank you, God Bless you, and God Bless the United States of America.

Obama launches historic campaign

Barack Obama has accepted the Democratic Party's historic nomination to run for president of the US in front of a crowd of some 75,000 people.

In an address at the party's national convention in Denver, he promised he would do his best to keep alive the American dream of opportunity for all. "America, we are better than these last eight years," he told cheering crowds. "We are a better country than this." Mr Obama is the first African-American to be nominated by a major US party.

In his speech at Denver's Invesco stadium, Mr Obama promised to reverse the economic downturn afflicting the US and restore the nation's standing in the world. He also attacked the record of the Bush administration and his Republican rival for the presidency, John McCain. "We are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look just like the last eight years," he said. "This moment - this election - is our chance to keep, in the 21st Century, the American promise alive." Mr Obama criticised Mr McCain as out of touch with the concerns of ordinary Americans and said he had failed to help them on issues such as the economy, health care and education. He also stressed that he would call for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, whereas Mr McCain stood "alone in his stubborn refusal to end a misguided war", he said. "I will restore our moral standing, so that America is once again that last best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, who yearn for a better future," he said.

He rejected criticism by the McCain campaign that he is a "celebrity", pointing to his family's past financial hardships, and said his rival should stop questioning his patriotism. In a final rallying call, Mr Obama recalled the message of Martin Luther King, who - 45 years ago to the day - gave his "I have a dream" speech in his historic march on Washington. "America, we cannot turn back," he said. "We cannot walk alone. At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to walk into the future." Joined on stage by his family and running-mate, Joe Biden, Mr Obama was given a standing ovation by the crowds.

'Not ready'
Earlier in the day, Mr McCain ran a TV advert in which he congratulated Mr Obama on the historic nature - and date - of his nomination, saying it was "truly a good day for America". The political truce was short-lived, however, with a spokesman for the McCain campaign issuing a statement following Mr Obama's address that dismissed his words as "misleading". "Tonight, Americans witnessed a misleading speech that was so fundamentally at odds with the meagre record of Barack Obama," spokesman Tucker Bounds said. "The fact remains, Barack Obama is still not ready to be president."

This needed to be a serious speech by Mr Obama and it was. One feature was that Mr Obama made frequent reference to the future. The Obama camp know that Americans are worried about Mr McCain's age and ever so subtly they are making an allusion to it. Martin Luther King's eldest son, Martin Luther King III, had earlier told the convention that his father's dream lived on in Mr Obama's candidacy. He said: "We are all the children of the dream and he is here in all of our hearts and minds. But not only that, he is in the hopes and dreams, the competence and courage, the rightness and readiness of Barack Obama."

Former Vice-President Al Gore also called on the Democrats to "seize this opportunity for change" and elect Mr Obama. Linking Mr McCain firmly to the policies of President George W Bush, Mr Gore said it was vital that Americans changed course if they wanted to tackle a "self-inflicted economic crisis", protect the rights of every American and halt global warming. "If you like the Bush-Cheney approach, John McCain's your man. If you want change, then vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden," he said. Mr Gore added that the US was "facing a planetary emergency" and that the ties of Mr McCain and the Republicans to big oil firms meant they would not act to end the country's reliance on fossil fuels. "So what can we do about it?" he asked. "We can carry Barack Obama's message of hope and change to every family in America."

'Open convention'
Mr Gore's address, warmly received by the crowd, followed performances from singers Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crow and John Legend. Mr Obama's vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden made an unscheduled appearance on stage to tell the crowds: "When we talked about an open convention, this is what the Democrats meant."

The Obama campaign took the unusual move of holding the closing night speeches in the sports stadium to allow ordinary voters, as well as party delegates, to attend. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who himself ran for the Democratic nomination before withdrawing and eventually endorsing Mr Obama, used his speech to attack the Republicans. While Mr McCain should be respected for his wartime service, he told the convention, that was no reason to elect him president. Mr Obama's much-anticipated appearance was the highlight of the party's carefully choreographed four-day event.

Clinton endorsementQuestions remain as to whether Mr Obama can cement his standing within his own party, and reach out to those parts of the electorate that are yet to be convinced by him. He was resoundingly endorsed by ex-President Bill Clinton on Wednesday, which may help consolidate his standing. Earlier that same day, in a moment of high drama, his defeated rival Hillary Clinton cut short a roll-call vote to endorse Mr Obama's candidacy by acclamation, in a powerful gesture of unity.

The presidential election on 4 November will pit Mr Obama against Mr McCain, who will be nominated next week at his party's convention in St Paul, Minnesota. Republican officials say Mr McCain has chosen his running-mate, but the person's identity has not yet been announced. Mr McCain is due to hold a 10,000-strong rally in the swing state of Ohio on Friday, at which it was expected he would present his vice-presidential candidate. Rumours swirled on Thursday amid reports that a front-runner for the role, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, had abruptly cancelled several appointments for the next day.

45 years ago today...

On 28 August, 1963, Martin Luther King delivered his magnificent "I have a dream speech" on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. Below is the full text of his famous speech:

"I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation. Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

But 100 years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land.

And so we've come here today to dramatize an appalling condition. In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a cheque. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of colour are concerned. Instead of honouring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad cheque which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we've come to cash this cheque - a cheque that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

Sweltering summer... of discontent
We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. 1963 is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual.

There will be neither rest nor tranquillity in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: in the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvellous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realise that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back.

Trials and tribulations
There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights: "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "For Whites Only". We cannot be satisfied and we will not be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

The dream
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed - we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.

With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day, this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning: "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring." And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California.

But not only that.

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: "Free at last! Free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Green frog angers Pope

ROME - A modern art sculpture portraying a crucified green frog holding a beer mug and an egg that Pope Benedict has condemned as blasphemous may have its days numbered.

The board of the Museion museum in the northern city of Bolzano were meeting on Thursday to choose whether to side with the pope and other opponents of the frog or with proponents who say it should be defended as a work of art. The wooden sculpture by the late German artist Martin Kippenberger depicts a frog about 1 metre 30 cm (4 feet) high nailed to brown cross and holding a beer mug in one outstretched hand and an egg in another.

Called "Zuerst die Fuesse," (Feet First), it wears a green loin cloth and is nailed through the hands and the feet in the manner of Jesus Christ. Its green tongue hangs out of its mouth. Kippenberger's work has been shown at the Tate Modern and the Saatchi Gallery in London and at the Venice Biennale, and retrospectives are planned in Los Angeles and New York. Museum officials in the northern bi-lingual Alto Adige region near the Austrian border said the artist, who died in 1997, considered it a self-portrait illustrating human angst.

Pope Benedict, who is German himself and was recently on holiday not far from Bolzano, obviously did not agree.

The Vatican wrote a letter of support in the pope's name to Franz Pahl, president of the regional government who opposed the sculpture. "Surely this is not a work of art but a blashphemy and a disgusting piece of trash that upsets many people," Pahl told Reuters by telephone as the museum board was meeting. The Vatican letter said that the work "wounds the religious sentiments of so many people who see in the cross the symbol of God's love".

Pahl, whose province is heavily Catholic, was so outraged by the sculpture of the pop-eyed amphibian that he went on a hunger strike to demand its removal and had to be taken to hospital during the summer. The museum then moved the statue out of its foyer and into a less trafficked area on the third floor. But Pahl's opposition was unflagging and he has threatened to resign as regional president unless it is removed altogether.

Art experts defend the work. "Art must always be free and the artist should not have any restrictions on freedom of expression," Claudio Strinati, a superintendent for Rome's state museums, told an Italian newspaper on Thursday.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

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