Bill Clinton save the day []

“Thirty hours ago, Euna Lee and I were prisoners in North Korea,” Ms. Ling said in brief remarks to reporters, blinking back tears. “We feared that at any moment we could be prisoners in a hard labor camp. Then suddenly we were told that we were going to a meeting. “We were taken to a location and when we walked through the doors, we saw standing before us President Bill Clinton,” she said, recounting the final moments of her ordeal. “We were shocked, but we knew instantly in our hearts that the nightmare of our lives was finally coming to an end. And now we stand here home and free.”

The two women stepped off the plane in jeans and sweaters, rushing down the stairs to be reunited with their families, who clustered around them. Ms. Lee, in tears, picked up and embraced her 4-year-old daughter, Hana. Mr. Clinton stepped off the plane a few moments later, embracing Al Gore, the founder of the media company that employs the journalists.

President Obama, who contacted the families of the women on Tuesday evening, said that he, too, was “extraordinarily relieved” at the journalists’ return.

“I want to thank President Bill Clinton — I had a chance to talk to him — for the extraordinary humanitarian effort that resulted in the release of the two journalists,” Mr. Obama said outside the White House on Wednesday morning.

Mr. Clinton’s mission to Pyongyang was the most visible by an American in nearly a decade. It came at a time when the United States’ relationship with North Korea had become especially chilled, after North Korea’s test of its second nuclear device in May and a series of missile launchings.

It ended a harrowing ordeal for the two women, who were stopped on March 17 by soldiers near North Korea’s border with China while researching a report about women and human trafficking.

Mrs. Hillary Clinton was deeply involved in the case, too. She proposed sending various people to Pyongyang — including Mr. Clinton’s vice president, Al Gore — to lobby for the release of the women, before Mr. Clinton emerged as the preferred choice of the North Koreans, people briefed on the talks said.

Thank you for that, Mr Clinton, and hopefully you will carry on helping people all over the world ( as you do with your foundation in Africa and Asia).

A Light Goes Out [The Times]

Long after the life has faded from memory, Michael Jackson’s talent will endure

The death of Michael Jackson brings to an end the tragic third act of a remarkable life. The final, reclusive years were a descent into an increasingly bizarre and dysfunctional world of his own devising. The strange, plastic contortions of his face, the tales of sleeping in an oxygen tank, the personal amusement park populated by chimpanzees and children and the allegations of child abuse — a whole life lived out in the glare of publicity had turned in on itself. He was reported to have a critical lung condition and to need a transplant and, on his rare appearances in public, he cut a pitiable figure.

There will be a great deal of raking over of the details, some of them sordid, of the life. But where life is short, art, of sufficient quality, will last much longer. And the music that Michael Jackson created in two phases of fabulous creativity will be the story long after the peculiarities of his life have been relegated to the footnotes.

The first creative flowering began when he was a child. Born in 1958, into a poor family in Gary, Indiana, Jackson was put on the stage, with his four brothers, at the age of 6. The seeds of problems were probably planted at this time. Many years later Michael Jackson accused his father of abuse and it is clear that he had no semblance of an ordinary childhood. For a grown man to call his ranch Neverland is surely the desperate plea of a boy who did not want to grow old, at least not before he had been allowed to be young.

No human being should ever be a repository for the ambitions of another, a father or anyone else. So nobody should say that the music justifies the treatment. But the music is still there, all the same, and the early Jackson Five records have stood the only test of art that matters — the test of time. In a string of magnificent cuts for Motown (ABC, I Want You Back, The Love You Save, I’ll Be There) Michael Jackson established himself, while still no more than a boy, as a vocalist of the first rank.

There are some great recording artists whose reputation rests, and deservedly, on this golden period for Motown records. The reason Michael Jackson ranks higher than his contemporaries is because of the extraordinary second act to his career. Between 1979, with the release of Off the Wall, and 1987, with Bad, Jackson and his brilliant producer Quincy Jones produced a trilogy of albums that both defined a new genre and marked its high point. In between the two, Jackson released the highest-selling album of all time, Thriller. In the process he upset all the usual musical categories, a black artist creating a new market, bigger than any before or since. Sales were helped enormously by the short films accompanying Billie Jean and Thriller that also made Michael Jackson the first great star of the video age.

The tortured circumstances of Michael Jackson’s life meant that his best work had, almost without question, already been done. You need to hear the music, that insistent beat, and suddenly the talent is obvious. The singer dances lithely through the streets. He slides effortlessly up to a lamppost. He touches it and a light goes on.

"Rest In Peace" for ever...

Michael & Janet (1972)

2009 NBA Champoins [Bill Simmons / ESPN]

Well it took me nearly a week to finally open my laptop and write about the NBA Finals and the 2009 Champions : The Los Angeles Lakers.
But, if you don't mind, I would like to say something about the man who was at the centre of this year Playoffs ; Kobe Bryant.

Since last year (20 months ago to be exact), Kobe has won the league MVP, an All-Star MVP and the 09 Finals MVP awards; he played in two straight Finals and won a title; he starred on an Olympic gold medal team, took over in the most important game against Spain to deliver the victory. Most amazingly, he played in the maximum 164 regular-season games and 44 playoffs games without getting a summer break because of the Olympics. And he did it despite turning 30 in August 2008.

The fact is that we just witnessed one of the great two-year stretches in the history of professional basketball if the determining factors were durability, consistency, individual success, team success, statistical excellence and degree of difficulty. Kobe's 2007-2009 stretch ranks alongside these post-shot-clock efforts (in no particular order): Bill Russell (1961-63), Jerry West (1964-66), Wilt Chamberlain (1966-68), Bill Russell (1967-69), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1970-72), Larry Bird (1985-87), Magic Johnson (1986-88), Michael Jordan (1990-92), Hakeem Olajuwon (1993-95), Michael Jordan (1996-98) and Tim Duncan (2001-03).

Let me tell you something, we will never see another Michael Jordan, just like we will never see another Marlon Brando or John Lennon. It's just not happening. They might compare statistically and stylistically, but Jordan could command a room of 10 people or 20,000 and get the exact same reaction: Every set of eyes trained on him for as long as he was there. His personality, his charisma, his aura, his passion ... indescribable. Like nothing I have ever seen. Jordan was always the coolest guy in the room, and when he would walk to an arena, everybody would freeze, and you would hear screams, and then it would be a sea of lightbulbs. And everyone was saying the same thing, "I get to say I watched Michael Jordan."

Kobe always wanted people to feel that way about him. He shaved his head, made music videos, jumped cars for viral videos, changed his number, stole Jordan's fist pump, created that creepy face where he stuck his bottom two teeth out ... none of it worked. He will never command a room like Jordan did. Sorry. But he does share one crucial trait with Jordan: He's a professional of the highest order. He shows up every single night. It's just ingrained in him. Since they acquired Pau Gasol 17 months ago, the Lakers have not lost three games in a row. Why? Because of Kobe Bryant. He will always try hard. Always. It's the best thing about him. And really, that's what made Kobe's performance special this spring: The degree of difficulty for someone maintaining that intensity for 20 months (without missing a single game or getting a summer break) is absolutely off the charts. It's remarkable.

At this specific point in his career, Kobe Bryant shouldn't have been able to play as consistently well as he did. He shouldn't have been able to survive overtime periods in Game 2 (his 205th straight game in 20 months) and Game 4 (No. 207) and thrived in Game 5. Basketball might be a team sport, but in this specific case, an individual's will stood out and made the accomplishment of the group seem ancillary.

Look, I don't know how much of Kobe's personality is contrived. I don't know if this is the same selfish guy we watched five years ago, only with a freshly polished veneer that hides every demon lurking inside. I don't know if he learned how to play the part of a leader, almost like a trained actor, to throw everyone off his selfish scent. I don't know if he's sitting there tonight thinking, "I won my fourth title!" instead of, "We won the title!" Odds are, we will never figure these things out.

But I do know this: What Kobe Bryant accomplished over the past 20 months ranks up there with anything that ever happened in the National Basketball Association. He walks among the NBA gods now. Like it or not.

GABON : Hope & Pray for my people...

Yesterday, Omar Bongo Ondimba passed away in a private clinic in Spain after a long battle against cancer. After more than 40 years as head of state of Gabon (my home country), we, people of Gabon, are for the first time orphan and afraid that the stability Omar Bongo Ondimba gave us during his time "au Palais du bord de mer" could vanished in the tense struggle to find a successor.

Today, reports from my own family, my friends and relatives, are that Ali Ben Bongo, Defence Minister, decided last night, to send the army in the streets to secure strategic position in Libreville and sensitive state building. Borders are close, vital communication like Internet or Fax network have been disable, which mean that most of us who live in Europe or America, are in a complete dark about what's going on over there.

Having met Ali Ben Bongo before, I trust his judgement and understand that right now his main priority is to secure his family and relatives and reassure the people that what we all want is to have a peaceful transition and keep maintain our politic and economic stability.

Today, we shouldn't think about payback, revenge or anything else which will bring up negative feeling about 40 years of fortune and wealth for a minority ethnic who had the privilege to be related by blood or by birth place to Omar Bongo Ondimba, no, not at all, today we should think about humility and forgiveness, we should think about standing side by side to each other to help our country to move forward and prepare ourselves for the challenge tomorrow will bring.

As I said, I trust Ali Ben Bongo to make the right choice about our country and his people, I trust him to make the right decision about tomorrow, I trust him to be as fair as anyone when the time will come to choose and install a new leader and a new government, and I trust him without any doubt to let the people make their own decision about where they want to go from now and who they want to see or elect as our next Head of State.

Save Our Planet : Climate Day 05.06.09

HOME  by Yann Arthurs-Bertrand
Worldwide release on June, 05 2009
Climate Day

Easy life totally Free [BBC]

Another proof that England is a hell of a country if you want to live an easy life with mostly everything free (Benefit, Tax...), the following post is from the excellent Nick Robinson's blog hosted by the BBC website and trust me, this is amazing.

Andrew MacKay has resigned as David Cameron's parliamentary aide after admitting that the taxpayer is paying for both his homes. He was able to double-dip into the public purse because he's married to another Conservative MP, Julie Kirkbride. She claimed for one home; he claimed for another.

This means that all eyes are now on how Gordon Brown handles the case of the former minister Elliot Morley. No-one can claim that his allowances were within the rules.

He claimed £800 a month for 20 months for a mortgage he no longer had. The word last night from Labour sources was that he had made a mistake and that he had done the right thing by rectifying it. The tone today is markedly different.

There is now, I should note, a growing gulf between party leaders and their MPs. Tories are complaining to me about what one calls "summary mob justice" in which all are judged guilty so that the good are punished while the real bad guys escape lightly.

Voluntary repayments by the shadow cabinet of legitimate claims for furniture, repair works or gardening were repaid, I was told, as "the price of David Cameron's press release". The tariff for extravagance has been set high. What will be the tariff for flagrant breach of the rules?

God bless England....

Dikembe Mutombo [TrueHoop by Henry Abbott]

As a fan of Basketball and the NBA, I always looked at Dikembe Mutombo, the older player in the league and one of the few legend of the game still out there today (not anymore after last week knee injury) but as a proud African man, Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo is for me an inspiration in my life on how working hard to help people less fortunate and giving back in my home country to many who don't have the safety me and my family enjoy here in England. I could write all day about Dikembe Mutombo and how he changed the life of so many people in Africa, but I thing the following letter from Chad Ford (a former ESPN journalist), a professor of conflit resolution in Hawaii should tell you how this amazing man from one of the poorest country in the world (Congo) has reach people beyond his own land by being himself, a man with a passion for life and Africa.


I don't know if you remember me. I was the reporter who traveled with you to the first Africa 100 camp in South Africa. I wrote a story about traveling to Mama Jackey's and the impact you had on the children and me. However, I never told you the full story. Watching you go down last night had a powerful effect on me. I wept and my children asked me why ... this is the story that I told them.

"Of all of the professional athletes I've met, Dikembe Mutombo's had the greatest personal impact on me.

I traveled with him and the NBA to the first Africa 100 camp -- a trip that changed my life and ultimately led to me leaving ESPN full time to pursue teaching and practicing conflict resolution.

Before my time at ESPN, I had studied international conflict resolution and was committed to making a difference in the world. I was sure someday I'd be a mediator, out walking into the deepest, darkest areas of conflict, trying to shine a light on the humanity that still connects us together.

However after graduation from my graduate program in conflict resolution, ESPN bought a website that myself and co-founder Jason Peery created, Suddenly I was immersed in the sports world ... and loving every minute of it. After a couple of years, my focus had totally shifted. Trade rumors and draft rankings consumed every thought and ever hour. I had a dream job, but inside I was lost.

When I found out about the Africa 100 and what Mutombo was going to do, I felt compelled to go. The experience changed my life. Seeing the poverty and despair on the faces of children was heart wrenching. But more so, seeing what people like Mutombo were doing inspired me. I was ashamed that I wasn't doing more with what I had. I wasn't the only one. A number of the NBA coaches and scouts I was with were touched deeply as well. I remember long conversations with Michael Curry and Lance Blanks about the ramifications of what we were seeing.

I spent several sleepless nights in the hotel, writing a long letter to my wife, Joanie. I told her about my desires to help people. How I wanted my life's work to amount to more than just basketball. I wanted to make a difference like Dikembe had. I told her that when I came home, I wanted to begin looking at changing professions. I was willing to give up my dream job if it meant a chance to help the lives of others.

I filed that story, which is my favorite I've ever written. I was overwhelmed by the response to it. People offered to help Mama Jackey. Donations came flowing in. ESPN featured the story on the front page of the site. It was my first inkling that sports truly can make a difference in the lives of others.

Within months I was looking for a job teaching conflict resolution program at a university, preparing to travel to Israel to write about sports and conflict resolution there, and thinking everyday about Mutombo and what I saw him do in Africa. In 2005, I left ESPN on a full-time basis to run the McKay Center for Intercultural Understanding in Hawaii. I also began reporting about and ultimately consulting and working with PeacePlayers International in the Middle East -- an organization that has shown the power of sports to bring enemies together.

I can trace almost all of it back to that day in Soweto. To those that say basketball can't make a difference in people's lives, I wish they could meet Dikembe. Not only has he changed the lives of tens of thousands in Africa, but he made a difference in my life that I'll never forget."

Thank you brother. You've made an impact on my life and my families that I'll forever grateful for. Here's to many more years of Dikembe Mutombo uplifiting the world ...

My Friend Marc Ona Essangui "Green Nobel" Prize Winner [BBC]

A campaigner who was jailed during his battle to save the rainforest in Gabon has received a top international award.

Marc Ona Essangui was honoured for his fight to stop what he describes as a destructive mining project in the Ivindo National Park.

He is one of seven people from six continental regions to be awarded an equal share of the $900,000 (£600,000) 2009 Goldman Environmental Prize.

It has been described as "the Nobel Prize for grassroots environmentalism".

Mr Ona has campaigned for three years against the Belinga mine project - a deal between the government in Gabon and the Chinese mining and engineering company, CMEC, to extract iron ore.

The project includes the construction of a large hydroelectric dam, which is already underway, to provide power for the mine.

The dam is being built on the Ivindo River, near the Kongou Falls, Gabon's highest waterfall.

Mr Ona, who described the falls as "the most beautiful in central Africa", said that Gabon's government had failed to consult the local population and had not assessed the impact of the development on the environment before it gave permission for construction to begin.

He told BBC News that he hoped his receipt of the Goldman Prize would "draw international attention to just how precious this area is".

Political protest

Mr Ona, who uses a wheelchair, dedicated his early career to improving education and communication infrastructure in Gabon, including working with the United Nations Development Programme. He later turned his attention to environmental issues.

He eventually decided to focus his efforts full time on the work of his own environmental NGO, Brainforest, which aims to protect the rainforest for the benefit local of communities.

"The government established 13 national parks here, and I became interested in all the activities within them," he said.

"In 2006, my colleagues and I noticed that roads were being built within Ivindo."

When Mr Ona investigated, he discovered that there had been no environmental impact studies carried out before the road building started.

On its website, the Gabonese government describes the national parks as having been "classified for the conservation of Gabon's rich biodiversity".

The key goals of the national park scheme, it says, are preservation of "the wealth of the ecosystem… for current and future generations" and stimulating "the development of ecotourism as an economic alternative to the exploitation of natural resources".

Mr Ona said: "All of this construction was carried out illegally and against the code of the national parks."

He also unearthed and leaked a copy of the Belinga mine project agreement between the government and CMEC, revealing that CMEC had been offered a 25-year tax break as part of the deal.

"When we really started to look into the deal, we noticed that it was China, not Gabon, that was the major beneficiary," he said.

Under pressure

He and his colleagues embarked on their campaign, working with other environmental NGOs, holding news conferences and meeting with local communities.

"The government even motivated some protests against the NGOs involved," he recalled.

"They alleged that we were working [on behalf of] Western powers, and we received a lot of pressure to stop the campaign."

This culminated in Mr Ona being arrested and charged with "incitement to rebellion".

He was jailed by the Gabonese judicial police on 31 December 2008; but following an internationally co-ordinated campaign for his release, he was freed on 12 January 2009.

Since June 2006, however, he has been banned from travelling outside the country.

His passport was returned to him only 24 hours before he was due to travel to San Francisco for the Goldman award ceremony.

There has been no construction in Ivindo for almost a year, but Mr Ona says this has more to do with the economic crisis and the price of iron ore than with the Gabon

ese government backing down.

He has no plans to give up his quest.

"Some of the money from this award will go to the functioning of Brainforest, and the rest will be allocated to setting up small- and medium-sized businesses for local communities," he said.

"I want to set up a clinic near Ivindo where the local people can be treated using traditional medicine. Some of the money will serve to establish this health centre for all of those communities."

No fear

The organisers of the Goldman Prize describe the six winners as "a group of fearless grassroots leaders, taking on government and corporate interests and working to improve the environment for people in their communities".

Among the other 2009 recipients are Maria Gunnoe from West Virginia, US, who has faced death threats for her outspoken activism to stop destruction of the Appalachia by the coal industry.

Also rewarded are Russian scientist Olga Speranskaya, who connected NGOs across Eastern Europe and the Caucasus region to identify and safely remove toxic

chemical stockpiles, and Rizwana Hasan, Bangladesh's leading environmental attorney, whose legal advocacy led to tighter regulations on the ship-breaking industry.

Congratulations my dear friend and God bless you...

~ My 10 Favorites Thing ~

Surfing the net today, I stopped by a really cool and colorful Blog call : Someday I'll get there... (I highly advice the visit) and I couldn't help myself to use some of her idea to talk a little bit about me (finally...) by just telling you about my 10 favorites thing :

1. Favorite Sport : Basketball, I'm a huge NBA fan and just love the game. For me any sunny week-end mean playground game with friends or playing with my boys on their hoop in the garden.

2. Favorite Shoes : Jordan Brand. I'm a sneakers collector and just love buying vintage Jordan or other brand and just stock them in my room or somewhere around. I've got some shoes since 2004 that I never wore (That's sound crazy...).

3. Favorite place to visit : New York, been there several time and just love it, I mean is there a city in the world more exiting and appealing as NYC!

4. Favorite place to live : Libreville (Gabon)

5. Favorite TV program : Right now I'm really in 24 and Lost, I recently watched all the previous Lost season just to keep up with the last one and man.....I like Fringe (on Sky) and Heroes, but most of the time when I'm home I'm watching sports...sports....

6. Favorite car : Well I had to sale my last one to buy a house (BMW 528i) and I still haven't decided on my new one : New Range Rover Sport or Lexus GS Hybrid. Will probably decide on this pretty soon (hopefully). Until that day my partner red Polo will do the job...

7. Favorite Music : Rap, R&B and African Music, I listen a lot of Nas, Lil Wayne, JayZ, Eminem, Chris Brown.... I like some British stuff too, like Take That, Lily Allen or some old Beatles songs.

8. Favorite holiday spot : Miami Beach, Key Biscayne, Mauritius Island, Venice Beach (the basketball ground...), Capetown, Cannes...

9. Favorite sport Team : Manchester United, Miami Heat, Dallas Cowboys, The NY Yankees, Olympique de Marseille, Houston Rockets, UNC, Nzimba Kaya...

10. Favorite Thing to do in my Free Time : My free time is always about spending quality time with my 2 boys and their Mum.

Les Panthères du Gabon make history

By winning 2-1 against Morocco in Casablanca last Saturday, Gabon took the first place in the 2010 World Cup qualify group A ahead of Togo and Cameroon. This is a huge step forward to try to qualify for the first time for a World Cup and considering that the 2010 World Cup will be hosted in Africa (South Africa) for the first time, the impact of a qualification for a country as small as Gabon would be just amazing, awesome....

I will come back to this later this week on all the expectation people home have and share with you my thought on "Les Panthères du Gabon" chance to make history and be in the first plane for Johannesburg next year.

Well done guys....

Debating on my Iphone last night...

I had a great day yesterday, first I was pretty happy to have finished the work on my Blog and see that it looks cool and fresh compare to the template I had before, the few feedbacks I have already received are all really positive...Will keep the good work going...

Anyway the highlight of my day was definitely the debate I had on another blog (The Wage of Wins) I visit fairly often to learn about statistics and NBA Basketball. As you all know now, I'm a huge NBA fan and spend some of my free time between watching games live on TV (pretty hard to do in the UK because of poor NBA coverage), on my laptop (Thanks NBA pass), or playing on the week-end with some friends... But anyway last afternoon I sent a comment about Allen Iverson being one of the best players ever to have played the game and I even had a go at the person behind the Blog, Prof, D. Berri (nothing personal obviously) just because I thought that some of his comments, about AI's average productivity (which I agree with), were a little bit disrespectful to a player who gives everything night in, night out....

Well to my surprise, everyone came back to me and tried to kill me just because I had the audacity to say that Allen Iverson was a great player and one we will never forget... Man, suddenly I was in trouble and attacked from every front while walking back home from my office I was trying pretty hard to defend myself and explain my thoughts on AI's career, but trust me typing on my Iphone was something really funny (most people on the pavement were probably wondering what was wrong with me laughing most of the time...) and not always easy but I really enjoyed the fight and the experience...

It was fun and I hope to do it again, but not on my Iphone this time, I will wait until my broadband finally works at home...

Take care guys...

Working on my Blog...

Since last Monday I've been working to make my blog look a little bit different, I should say more "Pro" or simply more readable. One of the really positive thing about Blogger is the fact that it's really simple to use for someone with no deep knowledge on HTML or other development language, Blogger give you anything you need to start blogging on your own and it's really easy to use. The only bad point is the lack of template from Blogger, if you want to really change your format or visual and have something more funny or complex, you will need to look somewhere else.

I'm actually trying diferent template from Deluxe Templates which offer you more than 120 free high quality template designed specifically to be use with Blogger and because all template have been tested you can feel pretty confident on downloading any of them by giving your blog a new face. By the way, just a quick thanks to Isaac Yassar for his help on template change and to Klodian (from Deluxe Templates) for his clever advice.

Anyway, if my Blog look a little bit strange or is slow to load image and text, don't worry at all, I'm actually testing some template and have to decide which one to use before finish the Peace Blogger make over.

Take care everyone....

Barack Obama and March Madness [ESPN]

You know what I really like Barack Obama as a man, I think the guy is just awesome and America should be pride and lucky to have a President like him who is so natural and so down to earth. I mean I was watching the latest ESPN NCAA report on my laptop last night and I was just amaze to see the most powerful man on the planet, talking with a journalist in the White House Map Room and filling is own NCAA bracket before the March Madness begin.

I mean, the man is really like you and me, you know, a modern man never too far from keeping up with everything, like the latest college basketball injury updates, the depth issues of Oklahoma, the strong finish by Florida State and the late entry into the NCAA tournament by Arizona.

And amazingly, when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates were holding meetings nearby, and a state dinner with Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen to come (according to ESPN) , The US President slipped down to the Map Room to break down his own bracket and he proved to be as educated and knowledgeable as those who make this for a living.

Barack Obama pick for the 2009 Finals Four : Louisville, Memphis, UNC and PITT

The US President will spend the next few weeks in Europe for the NATO Summit in France then will visit England, Germany and Czech Republic, quite a busy schedule but nevertheless he is already planning on watching most of the game on Air Force one at a pretty late time, around 2 in the morning, or just on checking the scores.

Coming back to his final prediction, the president had Louisville beating old rival Memphis in one semifinal and North Carolina outlasting PITT in the other.

And like many of us, the most powerful person in the world predicts the Tar Heels will be cutting down the nets in Detroit, as the 2009 NCAA Champions.... And then he was off, with his bracket in hand, folded and ready to reference on Thursday as the first-round results come trickling in.

The report on ESPN lasted 20 minutes and it was just unreal, I mean you don't always surf on the net and expecting to see one of the world leaders doing something so usual for many of us who love basketball or sport in general, I mean the guy is just awesome, you know, and.....He is just awesome....

Quote of the Day [Laissez Faire]

Evolved individuals know that people who are not intuitive can be dangerous to work with, since they are guided solely by the current appearance of things that are in reality, changing. Evolved individuals seek out others who have intuition and vision - a form of intelligence that comes from cultivating the instincts, observing the direction of change, apprehending the evolution of ideas.”

[Lao Tzu]

Our new Home.....

I'm finally back to post some news on my blog again...And this time I'm in for real (hopefully)....
Anyway I've been really busy in the past few weeks, first I went in Paris to visit one of my old friend from my home country (Gabon) who flew from Libreville to spend some time with me, talking about the past and the prospect of going back home. Jean Kombila, my friend, is one of the most important senior advisor of the new Mayor of Libreville, the former Prime Minister : Jean François Ntoutoume Emane.

Meanwhile I'm working pretty hard, since last November, to start a sport project in my country which should involve investor from Europe and Africa to provide a lot of different stuff like goods, financial advice or sponsorship for the 2012 African Cup organisation. After 6 years in England it is maybe time for me to get ready to go home and share the joy of my land with my family...

Back in England 3 weeks ago, I had to get ready to move house, pack boxes, clean our rented flat, clean our new home, set our billing papers with our new address and let the removal men doing the hardest part of the job. Last Friday we finally moved and since then we just enjoy the area upgrade from a popular and busy downtown to a more calm and "posh" surrounding.
In today economic fear, buying a house can be a risk and can bring more tears than smile, having someone on your side who can help you settle in a new and comfortable house while you can use that opportunity to save money is a unique opportunity and a sign that luck is on your side. But to be honest with you luck has nothing to do with that in my case, Philip Pettitt made this happen.

Thank you Philip....

Viewpoint : A word of caution to Obama [BBC]

Desmond Tutu, the first black South African archbishop of the Anglican church and veteran campaigner against apartheid, gives a lecture in London this week to mark the 75th anniversary of the British Council.

I make no apology for talking and writing, in the UK, about a foreign leader. But expectations of him are so high and attention worldwide is glued to his every step as he reaches the end of his first month in office. He is the story of the moment.

I am obviously referring to Barack Obama.

Three months ago as I watched the news that could define an era, I rubbed my eyes in disbelief and wonder. It could not be true that Barack Obama, the son of a Kenyan, was to be the next president of the United States.

During the previous administration's term, I'd been asked to suggest one unilateral magnanimous gesture or action that the incoming US president might make to counteract anti-Americanism abroad. I said that while there were clearly pockets of anti-Americanism around the world, this was definitely not a global phenomenon nor was it directed towards the American people.

What I certainly could attest to was substantial resentment and indeed hostile opposition to the policies of a particular US administration.

I contended, as I do now, that the two are quite distinct and separate.

An elucidating example dates back to the years of the anti-apartheid struggle. The Reagan White House was firmly opposed to applying sanctions against the South African apartheid regime, preferring what it described as "constructive engagement". Many of us were incensed by this policy and opposed it with every fibre of our being.

Black role models

I probably dismayed many people when on one occasion I was told of the latest Reagan rejection of our call for US sanctions against Pretoria. I retorted, out of deep exasperation, "The West can go to hell!" I was then Bishop of Johannesburg, and some thought it was decidedly un-episcopal language.

I was very angry toward the Reagan administration, but that did not make me anti-American. And that is the point, anger and resentment toward the policies of a particular administration do not necessarily translate into anti-American sentiment.

When I was nine or so, I picked up a tattered copy of Ebony magazine. I still don't know where it could have come from in my ghetto township with its poverty and squalor. It described how Jackie Robinson, a black man like us, had broken into major league baseball and was playing scintillatingly for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

I did not know baseball from ping-pong. That was totally irrelevant. What mattered was that a black man had made it against huge odds, and I grew inches and was sold on America from then on.

Remember the extraordinary outpouring of sympathy and concern after 9/11? That surely could not have happened, certainly not on such a vast global scale if people hadn't genuinely cared. Everywhere, virtually.

But what happened that all these positive warm feelings toward the United States were disrupted and turned into the negative ones of hostility and anger?

'Bully-boy attitude'

I never imagined in my worst dreams that I would live to see the day when the United States would abrogate the rule of law and habeas corpus as has happened in the case of those described as "enemy combatants" incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay. Or that I would hear an American government and its apologists use exactly the same justification for detention without trial, as had been used by the apartheid government of South Africa - a practice that the United States at the time condemned roundly, as was so utterly right to have done.

So, it was a devastating case of deja vu for some of us, thoroughly disillusioning.

The Bush administration managed to rile people everywhere. Its bully-boy attitude sadly polarised our world.

Against all that, the election of Barack Obama has turned America's image on its head.

On US election night last November, I wanted to jump and dance and shout, as I did after voting for the first time in my native South Africa on 27 April 1994.

My wife cried with incredulity and joy as we watched a broadcast of the celebrations in Chicago, after the election results came through. A newspaper here ran a picture of Obama from an earlier trip to one of our townships, where he was mobbed by youngsters. It was tacitly saying that we are proud he once visited us.


Because the Bush years have been disastrous for other parts of the world in many ways, Obama's victory dramatises the self-correcting mechanism that epitomises American democracy. Elsewhere, oppressors, tyrants and their lapdogs can say what they like and, for the most part, they stay put.

But ordinary citizens living in undemocratic societies are not fools; they may not always agree with US foreign policy, but they can see and register the difference between the United States (where people can kick an unpopular political party out) and their own countries.

Obama's election has been an epoch-making event that filled the whole world with hope that change is possible.

People everywhere identified Obama as the bearer of a new hope, someone who could electrify crowds with spellbinding oratory, galvanizing many out of their lethargy.

His election also said more eloquently than anything else that we black people are not God's step-children, despite so much evidence to the contrary. That whatever we attempt, we can do it, yes we can.

In the midst of this celebration, however, a word of caution is appropriate. In the first days after 9/11, the United States had the world's sympathy, an unprecedented wave of it. President Bush squandered it.

Obama too could easily squander the goodwill that his election generated if he disappoints.

Bridge building

For many of us, an upright US was a great inspiration in our fight against the iniquity of apartheid. I pray that President Obama will come down hard on African dictators, especially because they cannot credibly charge him with being neo-colonialist.

The US administration needs to reach out to other nations, build bridges, listen.

Obama and his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, have spoken of the importance of smart power and the role of cultural diplomacy in their foreign policy toolbox. The sounds and gestures coming from them are most welcome, but they must now carry through on these.

Keeping the relationships alive between different peoples, and the dialogue going in difficult times is essential. They pave the way for better times. In a world of increasing instability and mistrust and in the face of shared global challenges, we need to build understanding and collaboration between ordinary people, to forge the ties which can last a lifetime whatever is happening on the political stage.

We owe our glorious victory over the awfulness of apartheid in South Africa in large part to the support we received from the international community, including the United States and United Kingdom, and we will always be deeply grateful.

The British Council, where I will speak today to mark their 75th anniversary, worked with us during those years providing educational and cultural activities. These included training in the UK for 200 black South Africans and working with local groups on language teaching and reading in black primary schools. The British Council supported Nelson Mandela's work in reforming the post-apartheid diplomatic service and education system.

UK standing

And here I must comment on the UK government's role as the US's biggest ally this past eight years, in particular in the war on terror. Your standing in the world has also suffered as a result of this close co-operation, although perhaps to a slightly lesser degree thanks to other more favourable actions in tackling climate change, interest in Africa's problems and campaigning on debt relief.

The problem today is that you don't have the redeeming Obama factor and although you perhaps don't come from such a low point, you don't have his advantage of international goodwill in restoring the UK's perception overseas.

Going forward, as we strive to create a stable, prosperous world for all, we need to work together with other nations for justice, equity and peace. We need to believe that the values of fairness and compassion are not only yours and mine; they are shared by all humanity.

Most of us do want to see peace.

And here I want to end with what seems so utterly obvious about what we learned from our particular situation in South Africa. Peace does not come from the barrel of a gun but is achieved when cultural differences are respected and the fundamental rights of all are recognised and upheld.

NBA reflects social changes [LA Times]

Last month, on Martin Luther King Day, just before the Lakers-Cavaliers game, LeBron James stood in front of a swarm of reporters, his light banter turning serious when the subject turned to this week's historic inauguration, and to the wise preacher whose struggle made President Barack Obama a possibility.

"It's not even about playing basketball on this day," James said. Martin Luther King saw "change before change even happened . . . saw the future before the future happened. . . . You talk about leaders in the NBA, but no leader in the NBA or any others sports can be compare to Martin Luther King or what he did for this world."

In 1968, when his life was cut short, such acceptance was still far off. A professional basketball team starting five African Americans would nearly be national news. When Martin Luther King was killed, only the Boston Celtics great Bill Russell, named Boston's player-coach in 1967, had reached that level. In that era, the notion of a black star such as Russell being used in a national advertising campaign would have been laughable.

Yes, Martin Luther King would have been well satisfied by the great progress of blacks in sport. But I'm guessing he would be just as pleased by the strong wave of globalism we're witnessing on our fields, stadium and courts. I say this because globalism in pure form is the idea that everyone on the planet is part of one tribe, helped form the foundation of Martin Luther King's philosophy.

"We are challenged to develop a world perspective," King said in a sermon at Washington's National Cathedral only days before his death. "No individual can live alone, no nation can live alone. . . . We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality."

Years before the Internet, Martin Luther King pounded at the point that as the world shrinks, we must pay stronger attention to how we treat our neighbours.

The sports world gives us that chance.

It's no secret, of course, that foreign players now have a big effect on the NBA, but sometimes we forget how profound that impact is. On Monday night, the Cavaliers' starting five included Serbia's Sasha Pavlovic and Brazil's Anderson Varejao. Usually it includes Zydrunas Ilgauskas, from Lithuania, held out by an injury.

The Lakers, meantime, started Serbian Vladimir Radmanovic and Spaniard Pau Gasol. These days in the NBA, roughly 20% of the league's current players are foreign-born and many more are on the way.

Much is made of basketball and the NBA being the near exclusive province of African Americans. Sadly, a guy like Canada's Steve Nash wins an MVP award, heads turn and some cry conspiracy. But the fact is, with each passing year, basketball becomes more a world game, its international players bigger and bigger stars. Wonderful. It may not be long before someone from Europe or South America or China is coaching an NBA team. It might not be long before a player with the brilliance of a LeBron James cruises through his prime years in Paris or Istanbul or Shanghai.

And here we return to Martin Luther King's vision, because it should not be forgotten that while he focused his energies on the plight of African Americans during the 1950s and 1960s, he always thought in deeper, broader terms.

King studied Gandhi, the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and many others from beyond our shores. While American culture tends toward the insular, he clung to the idea that there was an arc of justice that swept far beyond national borders (even out into the universe), and frequently reminded that all citizens of the world are connected in very real ways, which is partly why he opposed the war in Vietnam.

When I asked the thoughtful Lakers center Pau Gasol about King, he admirably focused on the progress made by American blacks since the civil-rights era. Ironically, it appeared that it was lost on one of our great global stars that Martin Luther King dreamed of days when the entire planet would begin coming together in new ways. A guy like Gasol (born in Barcelona, seasoned as a player in Memphis, and blooming into a global star in the shadow of Hollywood) is the very embodiment of this dream.

During the game, I watched Sasha Vujacic, a son of Slovenia, have a layup swatted away by Lebron James, a descendant of African slaves who is now one of the most recognizable figures in the sporting world. Vujacic retrieved the ball, stepped back, and launched a three-point jump shot: "Swish". The crowd rose as one, and let loose a thick current of cheers. I imagined Martin Luther King sitting next to me. I imagined a huge smile on his face.

MICHAEL JORDAN : Just enjoy it....

Happy New Year 2009

So it is time to finally wish everyone an HAPPY NEW YEAR for 2009. First a quick apology to have forgotten about my blog in the past few weeks, but Christmas was my kids time and I made sure to be there with them as much as possible (I think everyone will understand).
Well now it's time to list my new year resolutions (have to think about that...) and try to stick to them, like :
  • Listening my kids
  • Helping at home
  • Publishing 1 or 2 post a week
  • And.....Well will have to think about the rest later....
Anyway, if you have any ideas or advice for me, don't hesitate to mail me, until then Happy New Year 09.

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