Democratic National Convention, Denver, Day One

Finally it is here. The months of preparation, and the agony. Day One of Denver's DNC opened. Kevin and I have just finished watching the highlights on TiVo. Senator Edward Kennedy gave a magnificant speech. For a guy teetering on his death bed he gave a riveting speech - better than Senator John McCain on a good day! There wasn't a dry eye in the house (including Kevin and I.)

I was waiting to see how Michelle Obama would handle her speech. I remember the disaster of Theresa Heinz Kerry's speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention - what a disaster! Michelle's speech was pitch perfect - a nice balance of her life, but lots of why she wanted Barack to be the next President. Michelle included a tribute to Hilary which I thought was very classy. Then it finished with a nice touch of having a live feed to Barack in Kansas City.

Tomorrow Hilary is due to give her speech. Can't wait.


Unrest in South Africa

I received two emails from friends before I realized that this was happening in South Africa. Violence erupted in Alex against foreigners who are believed to take jobs. The violence then spilled over into Johannesburg and Durban. 24 people have been killed, scores wounded and thousands have sought refuge in Churches and police stations.

Here are some moving photos of refugees in the Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg sent to me by my friend, Alison van Molen (DA Councillor, Ward 102)

Trying_to_the_best_they_can

"Trying to the best they can"

Central_methodist_babies_sleeping_o

Central Methodist Babies Sleeping
Central_methodist_sleeping_on_the_f

Central Methodist Sleeping on the Floor
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Jeppe Police Station - Monday

Food, blankets and baby food donations are pouring in.

Money donations are welcome. (I don't think donations from overseas will get through due to SA's foreign exchange rules, but it never hurts to try.)
MONEY DONATIONS CAN BE MADE TO:
Randburg Methodist Church
Standard Bank Randburg
A/C: 021649995
Branch Code: 01800590

For more news go here and here.


Zimbabwe -Where Everyone is a Millionaire

There has only been limited news coverage in the USA about the recent elections in Zimbabwe. The short of it is that Robert Mugabe Zimbabwe's life president is clinging to power despite the will of the majority of the people, who have amazingly withstood the most unbelievable brutality and violence by Mugabe and his goons. Most people with the means have already fled the country taking with them the much needed skills to repair this damaged nation.

Zimbabwe was a beautiful county. A country rich in natural resources. However 28 years of corruption, gross mismanagement and misrule have lead to a country starved and brutalized. Now, recent news reports indicate rising concerns of increased violence while the people wait for the election recount. (Results have been delayed by Mugabe in a last gasp effort to retain power.)

In Zimbabwe the hyper inflation makes everyone a millionaire.

Zim_front

But don't get too excited. 1 week ago this $10 Million Zimbabwe dollar note was equivalent to about $1 (one US dollar.)


Colorado Caucus Experience

Kevin and I have just gotten back from our first caucus.

It was held at the Erie High School. We had been warned to arrive early. We got there just before 6:30pm and the parking lot in the front of the school was full. We managed to find parking round the back. We followed the crowds - young, old, families with babies and toddlers through the glass doors. 2 Counties were caucusing - Weld County and Boulder County. Weld County was in the cafeteria. We line up to see whether our names are on the lists. Kevin is I'm not. I had been warned that this could happen as I am a first time voter. So we go over to the Site Leader table with some other people who are not on the lists. He is talking on his cell phone. Hard to tell who he is talking to, but he seems to be getting telephonic confirmation of their eligibility. I tell him my story - he okays it, and says that I have to sign an oath of affirmation, and then sign in. We have 3 precincts all caucusing in the same room. We are waved over to a corner of the room were about 20 people are sitting around in a circle. Some are wearing Obama stickers, some have Hillary stickers. We sit down. The Precinct Coordinator is very organized and manages to get everyone to sign up/ register, I get my oath of affirmation completed and then you get a sticker which says:

CAUCUS VOTER PRECINCT 306

Then we start chatting to people sitting around. We have a Hillary supporter on one side of us. We have a long debate why Hillary is a better candidate.

Then Ken the Site Leader starts to speak. The Cafeteria is full. There must be about 150 people there. He is looking a little bewildered. He states that usually they are lucky to get 20 people to show up. Loud cheers and applause.

Some precincts haven't registered their voters properly. They get registered. Each precinct is assigned a corner of the room. We are the smallest with 28 people. The other groups are loud and noisy.

Ken the Site Leader recites the rules.

We then start to Caucus:

First step to elect a chair and secretary. Since our Precinct Coordinator appeared so organized we elect her and her assistant.

Then we have a good idea. We group ourselves - Obama supporters to the one side, and Clinton supporters to another.

We take a straw poll. They count it three times.

Obama = 21. Hillary = 7

THen we take the official vote. They have to read each candidates names out including "uncommitted". They take Obama vote, and Hillary.

We then decide on delegates. This is based on a complicated formula. But we are told based on the vote that Obama gets 4 delegates and Hillary gets 1.

We are then asked who wants to be a delegate and who wants to be an alternative. The delegates get sent to the County Convention where they can decide to vote. The votes tonight are non binding, so they can in theory change their votes. Some people volunteer. We ask the candidates whether they promise not to change their minds, they promise, we vote them in.

Then the Chair and Secretary, tally the votes, and write the delegates names down on their forms.

Then the Presidential Caucus is over. Now they tell us they will move on to the Senate Caucus. Since I haven't been following the Senate caucus, we leave the caucus. Once you leave that is it, you cannot be let back in. It is bitterly cold outside as we make a mad dash to our car, and home to Maddie the Cat.


First Iowa now...? Hope has returned to politics

As a first time voter (I got my USA citizenship August 22nd) I am watching the process by which Americans select their our nominees with absolute fascination. I would love to attend a caucus. Amazing to see democracy at work.

We held our breath for the Iowa caucus results and yippee - Obama beat out both Edwards and She Who Seemed Inevitable... First Iowa next New Hampshire.

I've been doing my usual blog surfing to see what the blogosphere is saying about the presidential hopefuls and came across this interesting post from South Africa (linked by Andrew Sullivan.)

Oh, say! Can you see by the dawn’s early light … o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave: hope has returned to politics.

(*What joy it would be to reverse my New Year’s prediction that Hillary Clinton wins the US presidential elections and to see Obama win)