Showing posts with label Obama. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Obama. Show all posts

Thursday, February 07, 2013

No drama King Obama by Edward L Fox

Illustration by Richard Wilkinson
In Javanese culure, a ruler must stand chivalrously above strife: cool, intelligent and self-contained. Sound familiar?

 Like a lot of people in the autumn of 2012, I watched the TV debates between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. It was the last big performance in that interminable presidential election campaign in the United States. Every now and then, as Obama did verbal battle with his adversary, I noticed something I didn't expect to see. It was a gesture he made with his hand: for emphasis, he would point at Romney with his thumb. I wasn't the only one to have seen this. In a short piece on the BBC website, a reporter wrote:
Featured in the three presidential debates were Romney, Obama, and Obama's thumb. At the debates, the president frequently jabbed his hand, with his thumb resting atop a loosely curled fist, to emphasise a point. The gesture — which might appear unnatural in normal communication — was probably coached into Obama to make him appear more forceful … And pointing the index finger is simply seen as rude and too aggressive.

But I'd seen this gesture before, and Obama hadn't learnt it from a debating coach. Whether consciously or not, he was revealing his boyhood in the Indonesian island of Java, where it is considered impolite to point with your index finger. Seeing Obama point with his thumb in the debates confirmed something I had suspected for some time. Whatever else he might be, Obama is America's first Javanese president.

Some time ago, I devoted a significant period of time and study to the traditions of Javanese kingship. I was writing a book called Obscure Kingdoms (1993) about traditions of kingship in non-Western societies, and I spent a period of time in Indonesia. One of the book's chapters was about kingship in Java and, in the course of my research, I had become well-acquainted with a certain Javanese mannerism. I was struck to see that mannerism once again, uncannily echoed by Obama during the televised US presidential debates.

Unlike most political analysts, I see the imprint of Java in Obama far more than the imprint of Hawaii (where he was born and later went to high school); more than the imprint of Chicago (where he began his political career), and certainly more than Kenya (a highly popular notion that is particularly far-fetched). Indeed, it was in Java that Obama spent his childhood, had his primary education, and where his mother made her career. It was the country where his stepfather and his half-sister were born, and which he visited several times in his early adulthood. Obama still speaks some Indonesian.

Considerable time and energy has been spent speculating and theorising about Obama's Kenyan background. There is a ridiculous book called The Roots of Obama's Rage (2011) by Dinesh D'Souza. It's a piece of popular controversialism which suggests that the key to understanding Obama — as a man and as a president — lies in his Kenyan background. Obama's father, whom he barely knew, was a government economist in the early days of Kenyan independence. D'Souza argues that Obama inherited his father's Kenyan anti-colonial mindset, and that this is what motivates Obama politically and informs how he sees the world.

Traditionally, the Javanese ruler triumphs over his adversary without even appearing to exert himself

Naturally, the idea caught on in the loony blogosphere, and as a result there are now millions of people in America who hold the view that Obama's political approach is somehow 'Kenyan', and that by the end of Obama's term of office the US will be governed according to a pernicious form of Kenyan socialism. Absurd, certainly, but then again there are also Americans who believe in black helicopters and alien abduction.

It's true that Obama has written comparatively little about his time in Java in either of his books. His first autobiographical book, Dreams from My Father (1995), is principally about his search for Barack Obama Snr's Kenyan roots. In fact, he only went to Kenya to research this book. The search for his African roots was important to him in his journey of self-discovery and self-invention, a process that was completed in his adoption of African-American cultural and social identity, and his choice of the black neighbourhoods of Chicago as the place where he began his political career. Part of the process of forging his own identity and his own path in life involved distinguishing himself from the world view of his mother, Ann Dunham, which was based on her international development work in Java. Most telling of all perhaps, when it comes to Obama's own downplaying of his time in Java, was a comment in his second book,The Audacity of Hope (2006), in which he wrote: 'Most Americans can't locate Indonesia on a map.'

While Dreams from My Father was about the father who returned to Kenya when Barack was a baby, undoubtedly the strongest influence on Obama throughout his childhood was his mother. A truly extraordinary person, Dunham was an anthropologist who devoted her life to the study of small-scale industry in rural Java, while also working as a development economist and raising two children. When Barack was six, he and his mother moved from Hawaii, where he was born, to Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, where he spent the formative years of his childhood. It was in Java where Obama learnt and adopted the cool, calm, unflappable personal and presidential style that has earned him the nickname 'No Drama Obama'. It's a genuinely Javan ideal.

nyone who has visited the island of Java will know what great value the Javanese people place on maintaining a serene demeanour, harmonious social relations, and not appearing visibly angry. Acutely aware of local norms of behaviour, Dunham made a point of ensuring that her son adopted Javanese manners. In his memoir, Obama recalls how his mother 'always encouraged my rapid acculturation in Indonesia. It made me relatively self-sufficient, undemanding on a tight budget, and extremely well-mannered when compared with other American children. She taught me to disdain the blend of ignorance and arrogance that too often characterised Americans abroad.'

But this formative period entailed more than a process of pragmatic acculturation. In Janny Scott's biography of Obama's mother, A Singular Woman, one of her interviewees maintains: 'This is where Barack learnt to be cool … if you get mad and react, you lose. If you learn to laugh and take it without any reaction, you win.' What the young Barack had to take was being taunted by Indonesian children — his classmates and the children he played with in his Jakarta neighbourhood — for his dark skin colour. At first he was often thought of as an Indonesian from one of the outer (racially Melanesian) islands of the Indonesian archipelago. Yet of this period in Jakarta, Obama's biographer David Maraniss wrote that the young Barack 'had become so fluent in the manners and language of his new home that his friends mistook him for one of them'.

The Javanese have a word for this kind of bearing. They call it halus. The nearest literal equivalent in English might be 'chivalrous', which means not just finely mannered, but implies a complete code of noble behaviour and conduct. The American anthropologist Clifford Geertz, who wrote some of the most important studies of Javanese culture in English, defined halus in The Religion of Java (1976) as:
Formality of bearing, restraint of expression, and bodily self-discipline … spontaneity or naturalness of gesture or speech is fitting only for those 'not yet Javanese' — ie, the mad, the simple-minded, and children.

Even now, four decades after leaving Java, Obama exemplifies halusbehaviour par excellence.

Halus is also the key characteristic of Javanese kingship, a tradition still followed by rulers of the modern state of Indonesia. During my period of study in Indonesia, I discovered that halus is the fundamental outward sign or proof of a ruler's legitimacy. The tradition is described in ancient Javanese literature and in studies by modern anthropologists. The spirit of the halus ruler must burn with a constant flame, that is without (any outward) turbulence. In his classic essay, 'The Idea of Power in Javanese Culture' (1990), the Indonesian scholar Benedict Anderson describes the ruler's halus as:
The quality of not being disturbed, spotted, uneven, or discoloured. Smoothness of spirit means self-control, smoothness of appearance means beauty and elegance, smoothness of behaviour means politeness and sensitivity. Conversely, the antithetical quality of being kasar means lack of control, irregularity, imbalance, disharmony, ugliness, coarseness, and impurity.

One can see the clear distinction between Obama's ostensibly aloof style of political negotiation in contrast to the aggressive, backslapping, physically overbearing political style of a president such as Lyndon Johnson.

Traditionally, the Javanese ruler triumphs over his adversary without even appearing to exert himself. His adversary must have been defeated already, as a consequence of the ruler's total command over natural and human forces. This is a common theme in traditional Javanese drama, where the halus hero effortlessly triumphs over hiskasar (literally, unrefined or uncivilised) enemy. 'In the traditional battle scenes,' Anderson notes:
The contrast between the two becomes strikingly apparent in the slow, smooth, impassive and elegant movements of thesatria [hero], who scarcely stirs from his place, and the acrobatic leaps, somersaults, shrieks, taunts, lunges, and rapid sallies of his demonic opponent. The clash is especially well-symbolised at the moment when the satria [hero] stands perfectly still, eyes downcast, apparently defenceless, while his demonic adversary repeatedly strikes at him with dagger, club, or sword — but to no avail. The concentrated power of thesatria [hero] makes him invulnerable.

Even to seem to exert himself is vulgar, yet he wins. This style of confrontation echoes that first famous live TV debate in the election of 2012 between Obama and Romney, in which Obama seemed passive, with eyes downcast, apparently defenceless (some alleged 'broken') in the face of his enemy, only to triumph in later debates and in the election itself.

Like a Javanese king, Obama has never taken on a political fight that he has not, arguably, already won

But such a disposition is not just external posturing. Halus in a Javanese ruler is the outward sign of a visible inner harmony which gathers and concentrates power in him personally. In the West, we might call this charisma. Crucially, in the Javanese idea of kingship, the ruler does not conquer opposing political forces, but absorbs them all under himself. In the words of Anderson again, the Javanese ruler has 'the ability to contain opposites and to absorb his adversaries'. The goal is a unity of power that spreads throughout the kingdom. To allow a multiplicity of contending forces in the kingdom is a sign of weakness. Power is achieved through spiritual discipline — yoga-like and ascetic practices. The ruler seeks nothing for himself; if he acquires wealth, it is a by-product of power. To actively seek wealth is a spiritual weakness, as is selfishness or any other personal motive other than the good of the kingdom.

That's the theory, though highly simplified. The modern Republic of Indonesia is in many ways the direct successor and continuation of the ancient Javanese kingdom. Java remains the political centre of an empire of islands. The first president of Indonesia, Sukarno, was inaugurated in 1945 in Yogyakarta, the Javanese city that remains the capital of the Javanese kingdom, in the very spot in the royal palace where the Sultans of Yogyakarta were crowned. Yogyakarta was briefly the capital of the Republic of Indonesia, and the Sultan of Yogyakarta was its first vice president. Sukarno began his term as president with a policy that combined communism, Islam and nationalism, a weird combination in Western terms, but one that makes sense in Javanese terms: in claiming ownership of these political forces, Sukarno was seeking to subjugate them and harmonise them under his own kinglike authority.

I can't help but feel the parallels with Obama are striking. He dismayed many liberals in the first term of his presidency, by persisting in a political approach that sought to absorb the Republican Party — his political opponents — into his policy-making, just as Sukarno sought, at first, to absorb all political forces in Indonesia, and as the Javanese king absorbed all natural and human forces. Four years later, of course, with political dramas such as the fiscal cliff behind him, one can see an Obama that has adjusted to American political conditions; he is now playing American, not Javanese politics. But then again, like a Javanese king, Obama has never taken on a political fight that he has not, arguably, already won.

here is, however, another reason why I persist in looking at Obama in the context of traditional Javanese kingship. After Barack left Indonesia to attend high school in Hawaii, his mother Ann Dunham moved from Jakarta to the very cradle of Javanese civilisation, the compound of the palace (Kraton) of the Sultan of Yogyakarta, in central Java. The Kraton is the past and present home of Javanese kings; in recognition of the role of Sultan Hamengkubuwono VIII in the struggle for independence from Dutch colonial rule, the area around Yogyakarta was given special political status inside Indonesia, and the sultans retain political status within the Indonesian republic. Not only does the sultanate of Yogyakarta represent the theoretical and cultural model of government and political power in the modern state of Indonesia, the Kraton is the home of traditional Javanese culture. The Kraton's walled compound — essentially, a densely populated urban village — is traditionally the residence of members of the royal family and of palace servants and officials. Foreigners are forbidden from living here, but Dunham secured the unusual privilege of being allowed to live there because her mother-in-law, Eyang Putri, the mother of her second husband, Lolo Soetoro, was believed to be a distant relative of the royal family and lived in the compound. Although the old lady was in very good health, Obama's mother was allowed to move into her house in the palace compound for the nominal purpose of looking after her.

Let your opponent yell and scream, and listen politely

Now it might or might not be true that Dunham's mother-in-law — Obama's step-grandmother — was a blood relative of the Sultan. Maraniss, Obama's biographer, found no evidence either way. But Obama's stepfather believed it, as did Obama's mother, and so did their daughter, Obama's half-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng. This belief or family myth is by itself significant. It places the family firmly within the system of Javanese kingship. Growing up, in Java or back in Hawaii, Obama would have known about this connection and its meaning.

After leaving Java for his education, Obama visited his mother regularly over the years. The palace compound (bekel, in Javanese) is a beautiful place. While I was researching my book on non-Western traditions of kingship, I would walk around it in the evenings, glimpsing the interiors of the houses, with their green and pink glowing aquariums, and blue and grey glowing televisions. Stars could be seen through the palm-tree branches, the air was filled with birdsong. I looked back at my own book and found the following reflection of the place: 'Tourists are forbidden from staying here, but a few academic researchers had managed it, and I envied them.' I didn't know then about Dunham.

As Obama entered adulthood, he sought to create a new identity for himself that was based on an American and, within that, a black American identity. He distanced himself from what he saw as his mother's 'internationalist idealism'. But the influence of Javanese ways remained, unconsciously perhaps, a crucial part of him. When he was a community organiser in Chicago, working with black churches and local institutions, people noticed his unusual tendency to prefer harmony to confrontation, to bringing all forces together under his quiet leadership. Maraniss quotes an informant who was present at a meeting of church leaders when one of the leaders attacked Obama as a 'do-gooding outsider':
To Barack's credit, he didn't get up from the back of the room and come to defend himself. He left it there and let the guy say what he needed to say …. Barack absorbed it. But then, as soon as it was over, he waited until the guy left, and said, 'Now, what just happened? Let's make sure we understand what just went on so we can go from here.' Civility, being respectful, was always very important to him.

He would use this same technique again and again in later political conflicts: let your opponent yell and scream, listen politely, and then, when your adversary has exhausted himself, somehow end up winning. Indeed, that is halus through and through.

Published on 4 February 2013

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Nelson Mandela and Batik

Mrs Obama and Mandela

Meeting: Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha met with Nelson Mandela at his home in Johannesburg
The First Lady wore a a silk shantung coral suit by Narcisso Rodriguez for her visit to Nelson Mandela. And did you know that Mandela was wearing? BATIK :)

What I saw in the picture, Nelson Mandela wore Batik, an Indonesian traditional fabric. I think Mandela likes batik very much.
Read more:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

It is hailed as a historic victory, but what does the bill really amount to?
By David Cairns

After years of intense debate in the legislature, across the nation
and throughout the media, Barack Obama's healthcare reforms, which
have divided the US as nothing has since the Vietnam war, are to
become law.

A vote last night in the House of Representatives will take the
country closer than it has ever been to universal healthcare and
spells historic victory for the President and his Democrats - while
Republicans believe it will lead to their opponents' downfall at the

"This is what change looks like," said Obama late last night at the
White House, Vice President Joe Biden at his side. "Tonight, at a time
when the pundits said it was no longer possible, we rose above the
weight of our politics.

"This legislation will not fix everything that ails our healthcare
system, but it moves us decisively in the right direction," he added.

In a few hours' time, the President is expected to sign the bill into
law. The bill was passed by 219 votes to 212, with every Republican
voting against it – and 34 Democrats, some of whom feared it as a
vote-loser. When the ballot hit the 216 needed to ensure their
victory, Democrats hugged each other, cheered and chanted Obama's
campaign slogan: "Yes we can!"

What will the bill do?The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,
which will cost $940bn over 10 years, will bring healthcare to 32m
more of the USA's poorest people, taking coverage across the country
to 95 per cent.

Its main provisions are to make health insurance almost mandatory,
targeting individuals and employers; to vastly increase the threshold
that determines who is eligible for financial healthcare support from
the state; to reduce the price of drugs available to them and to
prevent insurers from refusing to cover people with pre-existing
medical conditions.

How are the American public reacting?As the bill came closer to law
over the weekend, thousands of protesters gathered in Washington DC to
heckle congressmen. Some hurled racist and otherwise derogatory
remarks at African-American members including one of the 1960s civil
rights veterans, John Lewis. A congressman was spat on, and another
was calleda "faggot".

It is no exaggeration to say the reforms have split America. While the
anti-Obama 'Tea Party movement' (some say it is less a movement and
more a Republican-orchestrated campaign) might still have come into
being with or without the reforms, they have provided a focus for it -
and for all Obama's opponents. The Republicans believe their staunch
opposition to reform will hand them power at this year's mid-term
elections, though Democrats argue that once the bill is law it would
be political suicide for anybody to attempt to withdraw it. And the
bill will certainly silence critics of Obama as a 'do nothing

Is the bill now certain to become law?Yes, it is - but a second bill,
containing amendments to the first, still has to be passed. It's
thought it easily will be, because of a deal between Democrats in the
US's two legislatures – the lower 'House of Representatives' (or
'House') and the upper 'Senate'. But Republican voices have already
been raised in complaint that this deal is "unconstitutional".

Last night's vote in the House was on a version of the healthcare
reform bill already passed by the senators, who have made changes that
Democrats in the House don't like. They agreed not to argue about
those changes when Senate leader (and Democrat) Harry Reid promised
that if they instead submitted a second bill with their amendments,
his senators would pass that unopposed. This second "reconciliation"
bill will go before the Senate later this week and could be wrangled
over for weeks – but will almost certainly become law.

What about truck-driving reform-killer Scott Brown?Many observers
thought Obama's healthcare reforms bill had been scuppered by the
shock election victory in January of Republican former male model and
self-proclaimed truck driver Scott Brown. Brown took the veteran
uber-Democrat Ted Kennedy's seat in the Senate on the latter's death,
busting the Democrats' majority of 60 out of 100 seats. To pass
without incident, a Senate bill needs a 60 to 40 majority, not 51 to
49, so this looked disastrous for Obama.

Obama's great escape was via the reconciliation bill deal. By couching
their amendments to the healthcare bill in a separate,
'reconciliation' bill, the Democrats found a procedural loophole: this
type of bill only needs a simple (51 to 49) majority to pass, and
their 59 Senators should manage that without upset.

Has the bill been watered down?As the BBC's North America editor, Mark
Mardell, writes in his blog today: "Many liberals feel there have been
so many compromises the bill is hardly worth it." Some wanted to go
much further, instituting an NHS-style system. But Obama's supporters
say he has achieved reforms which eluded Presidents including Teddy
Roosevelt, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.

In January, the Democrats almost withdrew the bill in its current
form. After the news came in that they had lost their 60-seat Senate
majority, some in the party wanted to amend the bill to a safer
version more likely to be passed. But, after some internal wrangling,
the idea was rejected and they pushed ahead with the bill as it stood.

The bill's final victory was only assured after Obama cut a deal with
anti-abortionist representatives, including a proviso that prevents
federal money being spent to "encourage" abortion. An exception was
made for forced or incestuous pregnancies.


Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Barrack Obama will be in Indonesia in March 2010

Us President Barack Obama will visit Indonesia and Australia in March

(Obama will visit Indonesia in March. During his childhood, Obama lived in Menteng Jakarta for 4 years. Therefore, he can speak Indonesian language. The childhood connection have made him hugely popular here. Even we have some Obama statues placed in Yogyakarta and Jakarta. Though some people protested it and asked the statues to be replaced by Indonesian genuine hero.  )

US President Barack Obama will will visit Australia in March after a trip with his family to his childhood home in Indonesia.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Mr Obama looked forward to discussing issues including green energy, climate change, economic recovery and non-proliferation with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Mr Rudd and Mr Obama have met a number of times since Mr Obama became President last year and have forged a close diplomatic relationship.

Mr Rudd welcomed the President's visit.

"President Obama will be a most welcome guest in Australia on his first official visit," he said.

"Australia's relationship with the United States of America is our most important international partnership.

"We are allies, we are trading partners, and we cooperate on the international challenges confronting all nations."

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This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between Australia and the US.

"Our formal military alliance, the ANZUS Treaty, has been in force for nearly 60 years," Mr Rudd said.

"The President's visit will underline the strength and breadth of the relationship."

Mr Obama, who was known as "Little Barry" when he lived in Jakarta with his mother in the 1960s, said last year in Singapore that he was looking forward to visiting his old haunts in Indonesia.

He was invited to make the trip by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and both sides have said they plan to use Mr Obama's childhood ties to the country to further tighten a crucial pan-Pacific relationship.

"This trip is an important part of the president's continuing effort to broaden and strengthen the partnerships that are necessary to advance our security and prosperity," Mr Gibbs said.

Mr Gibbs said that Mr Obama would inaugurate the US-Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership during the visit, which is intended to further deepen ties between the two countries.

It is possible he will introduce his wife, Michelle, and their daughters, Malia and Sasha, to neighbourhoods he knew as a boy and also to some old school friends.

Mr Obama's visit will be greeted with massive expectations in Indonesia, and a comprehensive security operation in the world's most populous Muslim nation.

The childhood connection and his knowledge of a few words of the Indonesian language have made him hugely popular in the country of 234 million people, 90 per cent of whom are Muslim.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Row over 'biblical' weapons in Afghanistan

Row over 'biblical' weapons in Afghanistan | The Australian
AUSTRALIAN special forces soldiers are using gunsights with biblical references etched on to them as they fight the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.

The ADF has several hundred of the sights, which are prized by elite troops for their accuracy over long range.

Their use by US, British and New Zealand troops has raised alarm among military leaders that it could reinforce views among extremists that the West is waging a crusade against Islam.

The Australian Defence Force is investigating how to remove biblical references etched on to gunsights, without damaging the weapons.

The ADF and military authorities in the US, Britain and elsewhere thought the letters and numbers on the sights were simply stock or model numbers until a US soldier in Afghanistan complained to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation that the initials referred to passage from the Bible. One example was JN8:12 which turned out to be a reference to chapter eight, verse 12 in the Book of John: "When Jesus spoke again to the people he said 'I am the light of the world.

" 'Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life'."

While coalition soldiers were unaware of the significance of the initials, military officials quickly became alarmed that religious extremists could take some propaganda advantage from them being proof the West was waging a crusader war against Islam.

The ADF confirmed yesterday it had been unaware of the meaning of the inscription when the sights were issued to troops.

"The Department of Defence was unaware of the significance of the manufacturer's serial number," the spokesman said. "The sights were procured because they provide mature technology which is highly reliable, in wide use by our allies and best meet Defence requirements. Soldiers are confident in the utility of the sight and the positive and proven effect which it is having on operations."

The spokesman said Defence was conscious of the sensitivities over this issue and was assessing how to address them.

Another inscription was 2COR4:6, which is an apparent reference to Second Corinthians 4:6 of the New Testament. The passage reads: "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

US military rules prohibit religious proselytising in Iraq or Afghanistan and were drawn to prevent criticism that the US was on a religious crusade in its war against al-Qa'ida and Iraqi insurgents.

The sights are used by US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the training of Iraqi and Afghan soldiers.

The maker of the sights, Trijicon, has a $US660 million ($725m) multi-year contract to provide up to 800,000 sights to the US Marine Corps, and additional contracts to provide sights to the American Army.

Trijicon issued a statement saying: "As part of our faith and our belief in service to our country, Trijicon has put scripture references on our products for more than two decades.

"As long as we have men and women in danger, we will continue to do everything we can to provide them with both state-of-the-art technology and the never-ending support and prayers of a grateful nation."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Obama and Joshua Generation

Obama to parishioners: Keep faith in hard times -
President Barack Obama is mixing lessons from the work of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. with reminders that those pushing for change must take heart and recognize progress when it comes.

The president stood in the pulpit of Washington's Vermont Avenue Baptist Church on Sunday, the eve of the federal holiday marking King's birthday.

Calling King and those who fought for civil rights the "Moses generation," Obama urged his audience - those he called the "Joshua generation" - to "get back to basics" as Americans face the challenges of a new age.

King himself spoke in 1956 at Vermont Avenue Baptist Church, located less than 2 miles north of the White House. Freed slaves founded the church the year after the Civil War.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

How to Grow Marijuana is taught at Detroit's new cannabis college

Students taught how to grow marijuana i | Society |

It goes without saying that there's no smoking in class. But there is a good deal of sniffing of leaves, discussion of the finer points of inhaling and debate over which plant gives the biggest hit.

Welcome to Detroit's cannabis college, recently opened with courses on how to grow marijuana – and harvest, cook and sell it too – after Michigan legalised the drug as a medicine.

Students get instruction from horticulturalists, doctors and lawyers as well as hands-on experience cultivating plants and guidance on how to protect their stash from the criminal element.

"Growing pot by chucking seeds in the garden is fine for the recreational industry," says the college co-founder, Nick Tennant, whose wholesome and youthful appearance, including acne-covered cheeks, startles some of the more ragged-looking students. "But when we're using this from a medicinal standpoint, you really need to document your strains and your genetics. The horticultural process is very complex. If you want to do it right you're going to need to learn. There's a lot of money in this if you do it right."

With more than 1,000 medical marijuana certificates issued each month in Michigan for users and growers to sell to them, there is demand for places at MedGrow Cannabis College, located in a small office block.

Among the first students paying $475 (£285) for six evening classes are people reliant on marijuana for pain relief and those who help them, including a clergyman who runs an Aids clinic.

Then there are young men such as Ryan Hasbany, a 20-year-old business student. He's still a year too young to get a grower's licence but he wants to learn the trade. "My father is a family practice doctor and he is issuing medical marijuana cards so I know there are a lot of people getting them. It could turn into a very lucrative business. The street prices are ridiculously high," he says of medical grade marijuana, which sells at $250 (£150) an ounce in Michigan. "There's Harvard economists who say this is what we need to bring the economy back."

Hasbany has no hesitation in admitting that he might be in a good position to judge the quality of what he grows. "I smoke it. In my high school graduating class, I'd say 25% of them were smoking it," he said.

Michigan became the 14th state to legalise medicinal marijuana this year after about two-thirds of voters supported the measure in a referendum. The move reflects growing acceptance of the drug in large parts of the country. In the past week, the US's first marijuana cafe opened in Oregon and Colorado ordered cannabis sales subject to tax.

The path was carved by California, where permission to buy marijuana requires little more than telling a sympathetic doctor it would make you feel better. Attitudes are changing in Washington too, where the Obama administration has told the FBI and other federal agencies to adhere to state marijuana laws in deciding who to arrest.

For all that, there is still hesitation over identification with what is now a legal industry in Michigan.

The first class of the evening at cannabis college is led by a physician who wants to be known only as Dr Powell. "Don't mention my first name. It'll make it harder for them to identify me," he says.

Powell explains to the students the range of conditions that permit him to issue a medical marijuana certificate, from cancer and Aids to a broad category of severe chronic pain. "If someone's had back surgery or a gunshot wound," says Powell.

There are questions. "Can I get it for gout?" asks a student. Powell thinks it unlikely.

The doctor says he is not concerned about addiction but regular cannabis users should find an alternative to smoking. That's why the course also includes a cookery class with recipes as varied as hash cakes and marijuana sushi.

The horticulture lecturer is even more wary than the doctor about being identified. "They might ask how I know how to grow all this stuff," he says. "I've been doing it for rather longer than it's been legal."

He, like many of those who lecture at Cannabis College, is also a consumer because of severe injury in a bad sporting accident. Tennant obtained a medical marijuana certificate to deal with a stomach condition that causes nausea. It is what brought out his acne.

The horticulturalist pulls open a couple of large white doors that act as an entire wall at the front of the classroom. Bright white light streams through the cracks and across the classroom to reveal a den of silver-lined walls, air conditioning ducts, fans and intense lights. At the heart sit a handful of plants – some of them bushes really.

The teacher runs through soil versus hydroponics, lights (red and blue better than LED), pruning (pluck, don't cut) and the intricacies of cloning. There's an explanation of ozone generating devices to cover the smell. "You might not want the neighbours to know. You don't want them raiding your house for your supply," he says.

Pasted to the wall is a chart of the labyrinth of marijuana species, their effect on different diseases and their particular tastes.

The horticulturist explains that there's money to be made from the trade in medicinal marijuana but growers must tailor the plant to the customer's need. "There's pot that makes you not shut up for five hours. There's pot where you sit on the couch and drool for five hours. That's not what you need if you're going to hold down a job. There's thousands of people getting patient cards and they all have needs. If you can work out how to meet those individual needs you're gonna get rich," he says.

Monday, September 28, 2009

"indoctrination of our nations... children" and "fanaticism"

In Indonesia, it is common kids are asked to sing the praises of president.  I never thought that it is a kind of indoctrination of children until tonight  I read this article (
oh politicians....can't say more..good night !

Republicans have been in an uproar recently over video footage of children at a New Jersey elementary school singing the praises of President Barack Obama. The outrage has been fueled mainly by a constant drumbeat from conservative media. But on Friday it boiled over into the realm of political opportunism when the Republican National Committee sent out a fundraising appeal calling the episode an "indoctrination of our nations... children" and "fanaticism."

"Friend," RNC Chairman Michael Steele wrote, "this is the type of propaganda you would see in Stalin's Russia or Kim Jong Il's North Korea. I never thought the day would come when I'd see it here in America."

Alas, such "propaganda" has not been limited to despots, dictators and the Obama White House. As a savvy source points out, back in 2006 children from Gulf Coast states serenaded First Lady Laura Bush with a song praising the President, Congress, and Federal Emergency Management Agency for their response to -- of all things -- Hurricane Katrina. The lyrics were as follow:

Our country's stood beside us People have sent us aid. Katrina could not stop us, our hopes will never fade. Congress, Bush and FEMA People across our land Together have come to rebuild us and we join them hand-in-hand!

Friday, September 25, 2009

An American voice regarding the Obama's tax policy

Matt Lesser: Give Me Your Money! | Meet Matt Lesser
Times are tough and money is tight in households across Connecticut. Despite that fact the Democrats in the legislature insisted on a record tax and increase of $1.42 billion.

Democrats chose to tax everything from cigarettes to job-creating corporations in their zeal to grow government and attempt to increase their grip on the lowly taxpayers and residents of Connecticut.

Despite paying lip service to looking out for “working families,” Democrats have initialized a 10 percent surcharge on corporations like Pratt and Whitney, among others. So Pratt indicates it may leave the state (and take thousands of jobs with them) due to the onerous and burdensome taxes and regulations, and the Democrats pile another tax on them, all the while claiming to be “fighting” to keep Pratt in Connecticut.

The film tax credit program recently put into place has been one of the few bright spots in our economy. But guess what? Democrats reduced the film credit to get more “revenues” to feed their bureaucratic beast.

If you are one of the lucky ones in Connecticut and actually have a decent job, they’re coming after you, too. Nursing certificate fees, daycare license fees and all other occupational license fees have been doubled in many cases. Oh, and bus and train fares will go up also.

And when you are out of work, the Democrats want to crimp your leisure time by doubling your fishing license fee, for example.

The examples are endless, but the picture is quite clear: Democrats can care less about the average Connecticut citizen. All they care about is staying in office, and they have proven they are willing to tax you to death to accomplish that goal.

Democrats ignored the Republicans’ no-tax increase budget proposals, in a disgusting gesture that reeked of arrogance. Let’s be sure to return the favor and ignore Democrats’ pleas for votes at the polls in November.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Obama's message is "If you want us to do anything nice, then don't whinge when we do horrible stuff to everyone"?

Barack Obama's UN speech: Help US help you | World News |
BARACK Obama has sent a clear message to the world: it's time to stop whining about America.

In the US President's debut speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, he threw down a challenge to critics who have compained that his country throws its weight around and rams its agenda down the world's collective throat.

"Those who used to chastise America for acting alone in the world, cannot now stand by and wait for America to solve the world's problems alone," Mr Obama said.

"We have sought, in word and deed, a new era of engagement with the world. Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response, to global challenges."

His message is being boiled down to this: President Obama's America is more respectful of world opinion than that of George W. Bush - and now he wants some payback.
He was speaking ahead of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who in another speech elsewhere in New York has called for the US to lead an overhaul of how the world responds to major threats. Mr Rudd has said the G20 - which is Australia is a part of - would be well placed to take on more responsibility.

Earlier, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi used his first address at the UN in his 40 years in power to deliver an abrasive attack on the body. He said the UN Security Council was actually the global "terror council".

Mr Obama spoke as several international crises reach a critical point, including the need to agree on a new agreement on fighting climate change at the end of this year.

There is also the effort to thwart Iran's nuclear program, with talks between world powers and Tehran due on October 1. And despite repairing transatlantic divides, it has also failed to win substantial promises of troops from NATO partners for the unpopular war in Afghanistan.

Experts have said the "jury is still out" on how effective Mr Obama will be in living up to its promise to engage multilaterally in a world of mounting diplomatic challenges.

Making his case, Mr Obama started his speech with a list of "deeds" he had made to back up his words, since coming to office - clearly playing on his own personal popularity abroad.

"I prohibited ... the use of torture ... I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed ... I have outlined a comprehensive agenda to seek the goal of a world without nuclear weapons ... I appointed an envoy for Middle East peace ...," he said.

He then issued a call to action from others: "Make no mistake: this cannot be solely America's endeavour".

In a nod to critics inside the US who have accused him of embarking on a global "apology tour" since taking office, he said he would never apologise for defending his nation's interests. "But it is my deeply held belief that in the year 2009 - more than at any point in human history - the interests of nations and peoples are shared."

UN chief Ban Ki-moon had a similar message in his speech to open the assembly. "Amid many crises - food, energy, recession and pandemic flu, hitting all at once - the world looks to us for answers," the Associated Press quoted him as saying.

"If ever there were a time to act in a spirit of renewed multilateralism, a moment to create a United Nations of genuine collective action, it is now."

Brazil's President "Lula" da Silva used his speech to acknowledge no country can go it alone these days, but that a dramatic reworking of the current system was needed. "I have no illusions that we might solve our problems alone within our own borders because the global economy is interdependant we are all obliged to intervene across national borders and must, therefore, re-found the world economic order."

Friday, May 22, 2009

Michelle Obama

Interview with the First Lady - TIME
Mrs. Obama: Welcome. Thanks for taking the time to come.

TIME: Well, thanks for making time.

This is a good day. It's pretty outside, a little sun.

So, I've been following your events, I've been talking extensively with your staff. One of the things I wanted to get at actually goes back to something you said on Tuesday night at the poetry jam. You said it's one thing for people to be speaking in their own spaces. It means something different ... I'm paraphrasing ... but it means something different for them to be speaking in this space. I wonder if you could elaborate on it. What is the meaning of being able to bring these new different voices?
I kind of think back to my childhood, and I tell this story a lot. I mean, I grew up in Chicago on the South Side, and literally a 10-minute drive away was the University of Chicago in all of its grandeur. And I never knew anything about that institution that was a few minutes away from me, and that was so telling, even to the point that my mother worked there. She worked there for four years as a secretary to the legal office. But I never set foot on campus. We came through, we picked her up, we left. It was sort of like another world that didn't belong to me. I didn't think about college in that sense when I was younger. So it was a very foreign place even though it was a stone's throw. It had an impact on my life. (Watch TIME's video "Election Day in Chicago's South Side.")

And there are so many institutions like that around the world, and so many kids like that who are living inches away from power and prestige and fame and fortune, and they don't even know that it exists. And the White House, all these wonderful buildings, these monuments and capitols ... I'm sure there are children who feel that way. I'm sure there are people in this country who feel the same way about these places that I did about the University of Chicago.

And I have probably dedicated more of my life to trying to break down those barriers for people. I think that might be one of the small themes in my professional life, is to try to be the bridge so that more people feel like they have access; that their voice, that their faces, that their worlds count in places like this, and that there is understanding across those divides.

And as I grew up and came to work in those places, right, and got to know them, I realized that the misunderstanding or the disconnect goes both ways; that folks outside of these communities have no idea what goes on within these institutions, and sometimes the people in the institutions have no real understanding of the people who live outside. You know, everybody is dealing in these misperceptions about one another because there is no bridge.

And I just feel like through the small things that we can do here at the White House, we can start exemplifying the importance of building those bridges, in real meaningful ways, so that when you come ... when young people come here, they don't have to come here and be something they're not; they can come here and be who they are, and the folks here will listen. And we can go out and be ourselves and listen in their communities, as well.

Well, you know, that makes me wonder, because you've said so many times, especially to groups of kids, "I'm not supposed to be here." It makes me wonder whether in the last couple of months, maybe you've thought, "Maybe I am supposed to be here." (Laughter.)
You know, I don't know if I have thought that deeply about it, but I think that now that I'm here, there's a whole lot that hopefully I can bring to being here, because of, you know, the differences in the way that I've grown up, the different perspectives that I bring.

And I think that Barack and I and ... you know, I think all of our staff, they're just trying to think about what are the things that we can do differently here, the things that have never been done, the people who've never seen or experienced this White House. How do we make that possible for them?

Well, that day that you started in Anacostia and then ended up with all these amazing women and girls, can you talk a little bit about that day and what it meant to you and what you think it meant to them?
Yes, I think it's a part of this theme. You know, I had this vision when ... as we were going through the campaign and you started thinking about, okay, what if my husband wins and I'm the First Lady, what are the kind of things that I'd like to do? And you always get that question ... or, I got that question a lot over the course of the campaign. But one of the things that I thought was, well, how powerful would it be for young girls to come into this space and hear from other really powerful, impressive, dynamic women, and to have that conversation go on here in the White House?

And as we sort of started thinking through the event and thinking about how I wanted to relate to the D.C. community, as well, I always thought whenever we invited somebody in, I wanted to go out to their space, too. I wanted that to be a mutual exchange; that it's not just people coming here where I live, but it's me going out to where they live.

So we've tried to do that in almost every event that we've done from, you know, the White House Kitchen Garden to whenever we go to a school and read to kids. Either their teachers or the kids will be invited back here very soon. That's sort of a theme. (See pictures of the White House kitchen.)

So the event started coming together. And it came off so beautifully. I think it was ... it's one of those events that stand out in my mind as, this is why I'm here ... to help make this possible and to see the faces on those girls as they entered the East Room in all its glory, and to be sitting around these tables with women they saw on TV, or saw on the news, and to have them having real conversations. Alicia Keyes, who's the idol of every single girl under 30, probably, when she came in, she literally walked around to every single table, because everybody is still a little sort of ... I'm in the White House, let me behave, I can't get up.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Obama and Brown

Brown, Obama attempt to halt financial slide |
THE British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, and the US President, Barack Obama, were due to meet overnight in a renewed effort to prevent a global depression, as sharemarkets touched new lows amid fears of a deepening financial crisis.

Top of the agenda during the first meeting between the two men since Mr Obama assumed office was to be hammering out an international action plan for the London meeting of the Group of 20 nations next month.

Mr Brown has said he wants the 20 largest economies to agree to a "global new deal" involving much more co-ordinated efforts to stabilise and regulate the teetering world financial system.

Mr Brown was to press Mr Obama to back plans for an international college of supervisors to monitor the activities of multinational banks and for action against tax havens. "We want to ensure there are no regulatory gaps," a Downing Street spokesman said.

Mr Obama was likely to be highly receptive to at least the second idea, having last year campaigned vigorously against tax havens.

But how far he would go on global regulation remained to be seen. Mr Obama has established his own taskforce to overhaul the US financial regulatory system, and he has strongly criticised the performance of US regulators.

However, he faces his own domestic challenges in tightening financial oversight as it will require legislation, and he needs Republican support in Congress.

The Guardian reported that Mr Brown would use a speech to Congress to admit failings in Britain for which he held some responsibility.

He would also focus on the need to create green jobs, a theme that has been taken up by Mr Obama in his 2010 budget, to be presented to Congress soon.

The outcome of the talks between the two leaders will be important in restoring confidence in the short term. Fears of a new wave of financial instability were sparked on Monday as the giant American Insurance Group reported a history-making $US61.7 billion fourth-quarter loss.

The company has received an extra $US30 billion in assistance from the US Government, which has also relaxed the terms of an earlier bail-out of $US150 billion.

Despite repeated questions, a White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs, refused to say whether this was the last assistance that would be necessary to keep the insurance giant afloat. "The President has said that we'll take steps to ensure that there's not an economic catastrophe," he said.

AIG's problems stem from insurance written on credit default swaps and other derivatives. But a collapse of the group would cause dislocation throughout the world economy because it would throw into doubt all manner of insurance policies, from business and personal insurance to large policies covering the operations of big companies.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Obama's mission

Obama's mission: deal with the now on cars, Kabul and banks |
* Thomas Friedman
* December 16, 2008

IF THERE is anything I've learned as a reporter, it's that when you get away from "the thing itself" — the core truth about a situation — you get into trouble. Barack Obama will have to make three mammoth decisions after he takes the oath of office — on cars, Kabul and banks — and we have to hope that he bases those decisions on the things themselves, the core truths about each. Because many people will be trying to throw fairy dust in his eyes.

The first issue will be whether to bail out Detroit. What is the core truth about Detroit? Car executives will tell you that it's the credit crisis, health care, retirement costs and unions. Sure, those are real. But the core truth is that for way too long Detroit made too many cars that too many people did not want to buy. As even General Motors conceded in its apology ad last week: "At times we violated your trust by letting our quality fall below industry standards and our designs become lacklustre." Walk through any college campus today; you don't see a lot of Buicks.

Over the years, Detroit bosses kept repeating: "We have to make the cars people want." That's why they're in trouble. Their job is to make the cars people don't know they want but will buy like crazy when they see them. I would have been happy with my Sony Walkman had Apple not invented the iPod. Now I can't live without my iPod. I didn't know I wanted it, but Apple did. Same with my Toyota hybrid.

The car consultant John Casesa once noted that Detroit's management has gone from visionaries to operators to caretakers. I would say that they have now gone from caretakers to undertakers. If they are ready to bring in some visionaries and totally restructure — inside or outside of bankruptcy — so they can make money selling cars that people will want to buy, then I say help them. I'd hate to see the Detroit car industry go under. But if all we are doing is prolonging car undertakers, then we have to let nature take its course