Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
Spending a whole day with Bolivian leftist president Evo Morales requires a great deal of stamina.
Morales, an Aymara Indian who has introduced a battery of controversial reforms to give Bolivian Indians more power and has put the state in the driving seat of the economy, is hyperactive, to say the least.
He tends to start the day meeting diplomats or government officials at about 6 a.m. and often wraps up after midnight.
In the three years I have been living in Bolivia he has not been on vacation, and it is not unusual for him to visit three or four far-away places in a day.
Today is one of those days.
Morales, who herded llamas as a child, lost four siblings to poverty and never finished high school, became the country’s first Indian president in early 2006. He is revered by poor Indians, who identify with his moving underdog story and are benefiting from heavy social spending.
But he is frowned upon by the middle classes who fear he may try to install a Cuban-style socialist regime in the country.
Critics see Morales, an ally of Venezuelan leftist President Hugo Chavez and Cuban revolution leader Fidel Castro, as a dangerous socialist.
The day we spent together, he was wearing jeans, a wrinkled short-sleeve shirt and unbranded sports shoes. He was good humored and cared little for protocol; addressing me as “comrade” or “brother” and once simply with a “What’s up, boss?”
“I don’t know how he does it. I can’t keep up sometimes. I’ve got soroche — high altitude syndrome,” said a close Morales’ aide, when I asked about the president’s hectic schedule, which often includes trips from the Andean plateau to the lowlands and back.
I met Morales, a clear favorite to win a presidential election in December, at a campaign rally at 7 a.m. in El Alto, a sprawling shantytown in the outskirts of La Paz.
“Evo governs and plays but does not get tired,” chanted hundreds of supporters while he played soccer after the rally.
Then we took a plane to the country’s constitutional capital, Sucre, to catch a helicopter to Tinguipaya, a tiny Quechua village of adobe houses in the central Potosi region, where no Bolivian president had ever visited before.
After a campaign event in Tinguipaya we flew to the southern town of Tarija, where he presided over an award ceremony for a soccer tournament, and then off to the northern town of Cobija.
On the plane Morales bragged about a penalty he scored in an impromptu kick about.
“I fooled the goalkeeper. Did you see?,” he said.
By 4 p.m. we had visited four places all over Bolivia — a country of 10 million that is roughly the size of France and Spain combined — traveling by car, plane and helicopter. At one point I tried to take a nap but Morales woke me up listening to loud Bolivian pop music on his cell phone.
At times during the day he looked over papers handed to him by a military officer and he also had private meetings with the defense minister and a governer during our travels.
Morales, a bachelor with a mop of thick black hair and copper skin, was going to turn 50 the day after our trip.
“How are you going to celebrate your birthday?” I asked.
“I can’t,” he said. “It’s forbidden. I’ve got to work. I have a meeting at 5 a.m. … you have to be there, let’s see whether you can keep up with me.”
“I don’t think I can. I’m already exhausted,” I told him.
Morales ate little during the morning and early afternoon, just drinking water and popping propolis lozenges, a health food made of resin from beehives. I told him I was hungry, that I could not believe he agreed to take us around for a day but failed to offer us food.
He called a flight attendant, who brought out a take-away plastic container with lukewarm chunks of beef and potatoes.
In no time Morales, Reuters’ photographer David Mercado, an army official and myself were all picking food from the container with our fingers. It was a working-class feast inside a presidential plane.
In Cobija Morales met government officials, dined with supporters and presided over a second sports ceremony.
After 14 hours of traveling throughout the country Morales, a keen soccer fan, was still going strong and decided to play soccer with a local team.
On the flight back to La Paz he finally dozed off for an hour or so. We arrived in El Alto after 1 a.m.
“Comrades, I see you at 5 a.m. at the presidential palace. Don’t let me down,” he said before waving goodbye.
(Photograph by David Mercado/REUTERS, October 25, 2009)
Nobel prize-winning writer Guenter Grass is dressed in a
mustard-brown cord suit and reading his work to a reverent
audience in a hushed Berlin night club.
It feels more like a book launch than a political campaign
event just days before the German election. Yet as far as
celebrity endorsements for German political parties go, this
is as big as it gets.
Getting pelted by eggs or tomatoes is an occupational hazard for most hardened politicians on the election trail.******But German Chancellor Angela Merkel, seeking re-election on Sunday, has been confronted with a new kind of protest during her final campaign rallies: flashmobs.******The mobs, groups of people summoned over the Internet to show up at a specific time and place to do something unusual, have materialised at several election events in the last week to wave flags and banners and heckle the unsuspecting Merkel.******Mostly, they have been chanting “Yeahhhh!” after every sentence she utters and the slogan is meant as an ironic expression of support.******It may not sound like the most damaging critique, but Merkel has cottoned on to the flashmobs and now even addresses them at the rallies as “My young friends from the Internet”.******So is this a new form of political protest or just a bit of fun?******Blogger Rene Walter, who writes for nerdcore, says there is a serious idea behind the light-hearted gatherings.******”We are not just going to swallow the election messages, we are spitting back the rubbish Merkel speaks in the ironic form of a “Yeahhh!”, he says in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily.******Many involved in the flashmobs support the Pirate Party, who are popular among young voters and oppose what they say is censorship of the Internet that has been brought in under Merkel’s government.******One thing is for sure. Flashmobs are injecting some much-needed spontaneity into the final days of a campaign which many voters think has been the most turgid in decades.******But are flashmobs here to stay? Could they become the political protest movement of the Internet age?
By Tim Gaynor
President Barack Obama’s signature battle to overhaul the United States’ $2.5 trillion healthcare industry to extend coverage and lower costs for Americans has met fierce opposition from Republicans.
But a move by Democrat backers to exclude 12 million illegal immigrants from buying health coverage and restrict the participation of authorized migrants has drawn the ire of U.S. Hispanics — a bloc that overwhelmingly turned out to vote for Obama in last year’s election.
With two weeks to go before Germany holds an election, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives have unveiled a new set of election posters, depicting Merkel, Merkel, and more Merkel.
Rather than campaigning on the issues highlighted in their election programmes, the Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) are keeping it simple and hoping to capitalise instead on the popularity of their leader, Germany’s first female chancellor.
Having traded in their woolly sweaters, jeans and sandals for dapper suits and shiny shoes, Germany’s Greens are ready for business, claiming that to be the “party that truly knows its economics”.
The world’s most successful environmental party is eager to get back into power at the federal election on Sept. 27 after a first stint in coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD) from 1998 to 2005.
Are young German voters getting the short end of the stick because the country’s political leaders fall over themselves to placate senior citizens?
Or is it simply a case of democracy pure when politicians listen attentively to what seniors demand because they are the group that votes more faithfully than any other age group?
Strikingly different election campaign styles in Germany and Britain, especially parties’ contrasting use of the media, provide some intriguing insights into the political traditions of the two nations.
in Britain, the parties hold daily news conferences, broadcast live, where leaders attempt to set an agenda for the day — be it on health, tax or education — and then get grilled by the press corps.
from Raw Japan:
Some elections count more than others, and never more than when a longstanding dominant party is sent packing. I've been lucky enough to witness turning points in four countries on two continents.
France, India, Italy, now Japan -- all have rejected one-party dominance for the rough and tumble of alternating majorities. In each case, I was fortunate to behold history.
Between running an election campaign and trying to save European carmaker Opel at the weekend, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was baking a currant cake and writing out a shopping list for her husband.
Merkel has sought in recent months to soften her business-like image by opening up about her life at home, hoping to reach out to more voters ahead of the federal election on September 27.