Posts tagged ‘President Obama’

02/10/2012

Romney: Interest, Dividend, Gains Taxes

Gov. Mitt Romney, who earns 22 million a year, almost all of it from interest, dividends, and capital gains, advocates an abolition of those tax sources as to certain taxpayers, by reducing the current rate from 15% to 0%. His strategy is to first eliminate them on people earning less than $200,000 a year, before abolishing them for higher income persons like himself.

Since Romney was pressured into disclosing his 2010 tax returns in Jan. 2012, showing he paid only 14% in taxes on his 22 million dollar annual income, he suddenly went silent about his desire to reduce to zero tax rates on unearned income. What he said however was clearly recorded at five Republican primary debates.

In Tampa, on Sep. 12, 2011, he advocated “for middle income Americans, no tax on interest, dividends and capital gains.”

In Orlando, on Sep. 22, 2011, he stated: “anybody earning under $200,000” (should) “not pay any taxes on interest, dividends or capital gains.” He promoted: “zero tax on their savings.”

In Des Moines, on Dec. 10, 2011, he promised: “I’d eliminate capital gains, interest, and dividends for people in middle income.” He then added without qualification: “I wanna eliminate taxes on interest, dividends, and capital gains.”

In Manchester, on Jan. 7, 2012, he told the audience: “I eliminate any tax on savings from middle income Americans.” He then added, once again without qualification: “No tax on interest, dividends or capital gains.”

In Myrtle Beach on Jan. 16, 2012, he repeated: “Anybody (in) middle income should be able to save their money tax free.” He went on to say once more without qualification: “No tax on interest, dividends or capital gains.”

There is absolutely no good reason for those receiving $200,000 a year from unearned sources, like interest, dividends and capital gains, to pay no tax, while those who must report to work each day to actually earn the same amount, must pay 35% in taxes.

Spin-meisters for Romney are now trying to get us to believe it was only Gingrich who wanted to eliminate taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains, but President Obama cannot let them get away with that, or let go of this issue as to Romney.

Obama should make people aware of the gross unfairness behind Romney’s policies, and help the public understand that any elimination of taxes on unearned income as to the moderately rich, is just a first step towards Romney’s real goal, which is to abolish them completely as to very wealthy persons like himself.

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01/30/2012

Gingrich Supporters Show Racism

At a rally today in Sarasota, one day before the Florida primary, as a Gingrich spokesperson encouraged a crowd to send President Obama back to Chicago, they started chanting “Kenya, Kenya, Kenya,” as if Obama could somehow return to a place he had not come from.

Let me spell out a couple of fundamental facts for the benefit of Newt’s illiterate friends, who do not know how to read. I know it is confusing for them, but President Barack Hussein Obama did not, I repeat, did not, come from Kenya. He was born in Hawaii, in 1961. Hawaii was a U.S State when he was born. This means our President was born in the United States, not Kenya. It means he did not come from Kenya.

Normally, educated people simply ignore comments from idiots and other knuckleheads, like those in Newt’s Florida crowd, but on reflection, we should not remain silent. If we say nothing, while slanderous racially-motivated comments are made, we commit the sin of omission, by doing nothing, like those who remained silent as Hitler rose to power in the 193os, in Nazi Germany.

The ignorance and racism motivating the Gingrich crowd deserves push back. No one would have suggested sending President George W. Bush back to England, where his ancestors came from. No one would have chanted in favor of sending President John F. Kennedy to Ireland. No one would have dared suggest sending President Dwight Eisenhower back to Germany, where his family tree can be traced.

This whole Kenya thing is not veiled racism; it’s obvious racism. Next time some fool suggests sending President Obama “back” to Kenya, give them a piece of your mind. If Gingrich supporters choose to remain ignorant, by failing to read, or learning how to read, it is the obligation of the rest of us to use our voices, so they may perhaps hear true facts. We have the obligation to put an end to their defamatory racist slander.

12/27/2011

Health Care Law in Plain English

After reading a Health Care Law article by attorneys Skindrud and Cleary in the Wisconsin Lawyer (12-11), I translated it into a plain English version for ordinary Americans.

“Obamacare,” as Republicans put it, was not written by President Obama, it was drafted by lobbyists, enacted by Congress, and handed to the President on March 23, 2010, for his signature. It is actually two laws: the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” and the “Health Care Education Reconciliation Act.”

The purpose the new legislation is to cover most Americans with private health care insurance, and to reduce taxpayer subsidization for ER services, provided to the growing number of uninsured.

The law contains an individual mandate, requiring the purchase of health insurance. The idea of forcing people to buy insurance is not new. For nearly 100 years in Wisconsin, businesses have been under a government mandate to acquire Workers Compensation Insurance, from private carriers, to cover employees in the event of accidents at work. Employers also contribute to the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) to provide for laid off employees. They must further pay the Social Security-Medicare system, under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA).

What is different about the new health care law is the individual mandate to buy insurance, as opposed to one requiring businesses to do so. The new Act raises Constitutional issues as to whether it exceeds the Congressional power to regulate Commerce, a question that will be ruled upon by the Supreme Court. While states have long mandated the purchase of automobile liability insurance or at least proof of financial responsibility, the opponents of the health care law may be able to show legal distinctions between auto and health.

For the most part, the new law does not kick in until 2014, when individuals must have “minimal essential coverage.” If they do not, penalties may be imposed for each month they went without it. The punishment will be based on a percentage of income, as reflected in annual tax returns.

Although most Americans will see no tax increase as a result of the new law, those earning $200,000, or more, will contribute a certain percent of income to help finance the new Act.

The federal Medicaid program for the poor, administered by states, but paid largely by Washington, will extend coverage in 2014 to those under 65, who are not disabled, if they earn 133% of poverty or less.

Each state will open up Health Insurance Exchanges in 2014, as a place for individuals, and businesses of up to 100 employees, to find affordable insurance. Larger employers must wait until 2017. Individuals and businesses will pay a portion of the premiums, up to certain caps, and to insure affordability, the government will pick up the balance owed to the insurance industry. Those at the poverty level will pay 2% of income in premiums; those at 400% of poverty will pay 9.5%.

Private insurance companies will be required to provide coverage for “essential health benefits,” without lifetime caps. Co-payments and deductibles will disappear in 2014. Children will no longer be subjected to pre-existing condition exclusions, and are now able to stay on their parents plan through age 26. Adults have to wait until 2014 to be free of the pre-existing condition exclusion.

To control health care costs, the government is pushing health care providers through Medicare reimbursements to abandon the fee-for-service system, reduce ER visits, eliminate duplication, and end unnecessary procedures. Payments for excess readmissions for conditions like heart failure will be reduced. The plan is to cut Medicare re-imbursement rates by 30% in 2012.

Although the goal of coverage to all is a noble one, the current conservative majority on the Supreme Court may in a 5-4 vote find the individual mandate unconstitutional. If the law is upheld, some previously without coverage will benefit, but the biggest winner will be the health insurance industry, since the federal government will subsidize their unregulated premiums. The government will probably also lose the struggle with the health care industry to lower reimbursements. While a single-payer system would have been better, and more efficient, we can only wait and see what develops under this law.

10/20/2011

Libya Liberated: Obama Gets A Grade

(Editor’s Note: I wrote this story when Tripoli was taken 8-24-11, and reprinted it today, upon the capture and execution of Col. Gaddafi)

After seven months of fighting, the 42-year regime of Col. Gaddafi has been overthrown, and the Libyan people are now free to establish a democratic form of government. While the rebels obviously deserve the lion’s share of the credit, as they risked their lives, others are also entitled to recognition, including the UN, NATO, France, Britain, the U.S. and President Obama, as the fall of Qaddafi would not have happened without their support.

President Obama, for his part, earned excellent grades throughout, as he made correct decisions at every critical stage of the uprising.

When the rebellion started in March, 2011, Obama correctly recognized the rebels as the authentic voice of the Libyan people, and viewed Gaddafi as lacking legitimacy, as he took office in 1969 via a military junta, and not through a free and fair election.

Obama’s next decision was to intervene in an internal uprising. Since Libya had not invaded another country, Obama could have said it would be wrong under international law to meddle in their internal affairs, but he did not. For humanitarian reasons, he got involved. If he had done nothing, Gaddafi certainly would have annihilated the rebels.

Obama correctly ruled out U.S. ground forces. Although weapons would have to be used to remove Gaddafi, for a variety of reasons, the President correctly realized the rebels themselves would have to wage the fight. U.S. troops would have only allowed Gaddafi to rally Libyan people against the great infidel.

Obama also refused to act like a crazy Texas cowboy and go it alone. As an early policy decision, Obama set up a coalition of willing NATO partners, before taking any military action.

Obama’s imposition of a No-Fly Zone with our European allies was a smart move, as it saved the rebellious populations in the east from air attacks by Gaddafi and his henchmen. Taking control of the sky was an essential early step towards victory.

Obama’s next policy move was to secure legal authorization from the UN Security Council. A UN Resolution gave NATO the right to use military force to protect the civilian people and authorized the bombings that followed. If the U.S. had not taken the lead in this regard, Europeans would not have followed, or acted at all.

The subsequent decision to covertly arm the rebels with rifles, trucks and other weapons, even though there was an uncertainly as to what they stood for, was also a correct move, as it allowed them to advance from Benghazi in the east, to Tripoli in the west.

Although Obama did not request or obtain a formal Declaration of War from Congress, and arguably violated the War Powers Act by using American air power for over 60 days, (since the U.S. had not been attacked), the Republican-controlled House did not object, or defund the operation, and tacitly approved of it.

No American lives were lost in the operation to remove the regime of Col. Gaddafi, and Obama deserves credit for standing with the rebels, intervening against a 42-year dictator, wisely holding back on the use of U.S. ground troops, refusing to go it alone, using NATO, obtaining UN authorizations, pushing the Europeans to stand up and fight, imposing a No-Fly Zone, and covertly aiding the rebels with arms and technical assistance.

Hopefully, the Libyans will now take it from there, and will create a political system that limits their leaders to relatively short terms in office. Obama did his part. The rest is up to the Libyans.

10/17/2011

Uganda: Obama Fights the Lord’s Army

Uganda, a landlocked country in East Africa, that borders the Congo-Kinshasa (west), Southern Sudan (north), Kenya (east), and Rwanda and Tanzania (south), has just witnessed the arrival of special U.S. military forces sent by President Obama to execute Arrest Warrants, issued by the International Criminal Court, against the leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army, which has been fighting for decades near the Ugandan-South Sudan border.

Historically, Obama’s men are not the first Westerners to enter Uganda, as England sent explorers in 1862, Christian missionaries in 1875, and soldiers in 1894 to establish a British Protectorate. Afterward, more Englishmen arrived, as a 1,081-mile railroad was built through Kenya to the port at Mombasa on the Indian Ocean.

Following independence in 1962, Uganda’s first president (1962-66) maintained relations with Britain and did business with them.

45 years of trouble started in 1966 when Milton Obote (1966-71), overthrew the government, abolished tribal kingdoms, and nationalized businesses. Relations with the outside were severed completely, as Uganda slipped into darkness, when a coup led by the infamous Idi Amin Dada (1971-79), seized control, dissolved parliament, outlawed political parties, and murdered troops loyal to Obote. Amin expelled British businessmen, and 70,000 Asians, who controlled most professions and industries. 300,000 disappeared during his reign of terror, which continued, until the Uganda-Tanzania War (1978-79) forced him into exile.

Outsiders stayed away when Obote returned in 1980, because he reinstated tribal favors, and triggered a civil war (1981-86), which sacrificed another 100,000. Political unrest continued, as a coup headed by Yoweri Museveni ousted Obote in 1985, and imposed one-party rule, fearing many parties would reignite tribal tension.

Although electoral stability returned in 1995, when a multi-party system was implemented, enabling Museveni to win elections in 1996, 2001, and 2006, the country became involved in external conflicts. As the Tutsi Tribe fled from neighboring Rwanda, they were permitted to set up bases in Uganda, from which they later launched the Rwandan Civil War (1990-93), prompting the UN to station observers along the Uganda-Rwanda border.

Uganda then intervened in the 1st Congo War (1996-98) and 2nd Congo War (1998-03) on the side of the Tutsi Tribe, because the Congolese leader was supporting the Rwandan Hutu Tribe. In the Democratic Rep of Congo v Uganda (2000), the International Court of Justice found Uganda violated the ban against unilateral force and the laws of war, when they entered the Congo, killed and tortured civilians, and looted and destroyed property.

Museveni’s Ugandan government remains engaged in a fight with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a brutal Christian group, based in Northern Uganda and Southern Sudan, whose leader, Joe Kony, has evaded an Arrest Warrant, issued in 2005 by the International Criminal Court, and has rejected a peace plan, because his opponents are not willing to dismiss the warrant.

Now, President Obama has intervened in Uganda with 100 Special Forces troops to assist in a kill or capture mission against Kony, an action authorized by the LRA Disarmament Act passed by Congress in 2009. If Obama succeeds in defeating the Lord’s Army, perhaps Uganda will finally move away from their 45-year history of tribal war, anti-Western feelings, civil war, military dictatorship, border area conflicts, adverse court rulings, and other problems, and may finally become a stable political democracy of the sort envisioned when independence was granted in 1962.

09/09/2011

American Jobs Act: Pass It Now

President Obama proposed the American Jobs Act last night to put people back to work in: 1) construction: rebuilding roads, bridges, school buildings, homes and railroads; 2) education: by hiring teachers to train engineers; 3) manufacturing: by increasing exports made in the USA; 4) finance: by restructuring home loans at 4% rates; and 5) in health care: by reforming Medicare.

Obama said our economy has eroded over several decades into a crisis, and it now millions of Americans are out of work. Congress needs to stop conducting a political circus, he said, and advocated several steps they could take right now to fix the economy.

CONSTRUCTION: Obama wants construction crews hired to rebuild roads and bridges, tasks requiring bulldozers and asphalt trucks. Millions of unemployed construction workers could build airports and faster railroads. Carpenters could repair and modernize 35,000 schools, by fixing roofs and windows. They could install science labs, and Internet facilities. Obama advocated putting them to work rehabilitating homes. Next summer, disadvantaged youth could work, presumably as helpers.

CUT RED TAPE: Obama suggested cutting any red tape that gets in the way. He has but two criteria: 1) How badly is the project needed? 2) How much good would it do for the economy? We should have no more rules and regulations than health, safety and security require, he said. He rejected any idea of ending collective bargaining rights, saying we need not be in a race to the bottom.

EDUCATION: He wants to put thousands of teachers back to work in the classroom. We need to train 10,000 engineers a year.

MANUFACTURING: He would expand manufacturing jobs by signing trade deals with Panama, Colombia, and South Korea, so Americans could market more goods abroad. We need to sell more American-made goods around the world, he said. The next generation of manufacturing needs take place here in America.

FINANCE: Obama wants to generate work in the finance sector at savings and loans, and at banks, by helping homeowners refinance their mortgage loans at 4% interest rates. This would create savings, and generate spending, and stimulate the economy.

HEALTH CARE: He wants to keep people busy in the health care industry by making additional changes to Medicare and Medicaid.

OFFSET BY MEDICARE CUTS: The President said his plan would be offset by budget cuts, and it need not add to the deficit. We must make additional cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, he said, because their spending is unsustainable.

OFFSET BY TAXING RICH: Obama said we need to eliminate loopholes, deductions, and tax breaks for millionaires.

OFFSET BY ENDING CORPORATE LOOPHOLES: Obama said the Tax Code could be reformed so big corporations paid their fair share. Do we really need oil company loopholes?

TAX BREAKS FOR NEW HIRES: The President suggested tax advantages for companies that invest and create jobs in America. He would give tax breaks to companies who hire new workers, or raise wages. Companies will get a $4,000 tax credit if they hire someone who has spent more than six months looking for a job.

CUT INDIVIDUAL TAXES: Obama proposed cutting in half payroll taxes for working Americans. Families would get a $1,500 tax cut next year, under his plan, again to stimulate the economy.

MUST ACT NOW: Although the next Presidential election is 14 months away, Obama said the people do not have the luxury of waiting that long and they need help now. He asked Congress to pass his plan right away, saying: “Doing nothing is not an option.”

08/29/2011

Sub-Saharan African Dictators Must Go

Following the demise of North African dictators in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt, President Obama should now focus on greater democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa, where many have held office for more than 10 years, and well beyond the growing international standard of no more than two 5-year terms.

CAMEROON: Paul Biya has been in public office in Cameroon since the early 1960s. He became Prime Minister in 1975 and President in 1982. He seized control of his political party in 1983, drove his rival into exile, convicted him of plotting a coup, and sentenced him to death. Biya won 99% of the vote in 1984, because he had no opponent. He survived a coup, before being re-elected in 1988. In a multi-party contest in 1992, Biya claimed a plurality, despite cries of fraud. After a two-term constitutional limit was imposed in 1996, Biya won 92% of the vote in 1997, because his opponents boycotted the election. He won another 7-year term in 2004, again under a cloud of suspicion. Biya called term-limits undemocratic in 2008, and simply removed them. It’s now time for the people of Cameroon to remove Biya.

EQUATORIAL GUINEA: Teodoro Obiang Mbasogo seized power in 1979 in a bloody coup, sentenced the previous leader to death, and became president. After winning a full 7-year term in 1982, he was re-elected in 1989, as the only candidate on the ballot. He claimed nearly 100% of the vote in 1996, 2002 and 2009, in contests marred by fraud. He keeps control by denying a free press and an opposition party. Obiang considers himself a god. It is time for the Equatorial Guineas to end his 32-year rule.

ANGOLA: Jose Eduardo dos Santos, became Angola’s second president in 1979. He won a plurality in the 1992 election, under allegations of fraud, and caused the civil war to continue. He said in 2001 he would step down before the next presidential election, but remained by amending the constitution to allow his ruling party to pick the leader. After 32 years, Santos has to go.

ZIMBABWE: Robert Mugabe, age 87, has been president of Zimbabwe since 1980, when the white government collapsed. Media controls were created in 2002, to ensure ongoing election victories. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was arrested in 2003, as Mugabe was accused of running a dictatorship. When Tsvangirai claimed victory in 2008, Mugabe managed to stay in office by creating a power-sharing arrangement in 2009. After 31 years in power, it’s time for Mugabe to step aside.

UGANDA: Yoweri Museveni has been Ugandan President since the prior government was overthrown in 1986. He promised a return to democracy, but held no election for 10 years, and then claimed 75% of the vote in 1996. In 2001, he accumulated 69%, in a race that was not free or fair, according to the Ugandan Supreme Court. Afterward, he said he would not run again, but he then abolished term limits and took 59% of the vote in 2006. He was re-elected again in 2011, with 68%, a tally disputed by outsiders. After 25 years, it’s time for Museveni to leave.

BURKINA FASO: Blasise Compaore of Burkina Faso came to power in 1987 in a bloody coup, during which the incumbent was executed. His opponents boycotted the 1991 election. After he was “re-elected” in 1998, the constitution was amended in 2000 to reduce presidential terms from 7 to 5 years, and to limit presidents to a total of two terms. Compaore argued the changes did not applied retroactively, so he ran and won again in 2005, and was re-elected in 2010. After 24 years, it’s time Compaore left.

Three more Africans have ruled since the 1990s, including: Yahya Jammeh of Gambia (1994-); Denis Sassau Nguesso of Congo-Brazzaville (1997-); and Pakalitha Mosisili of Lesotho (1998-).

President Obama is uniquely qualified to speak directly to the African people regarding the virtues of term limits. He should encourage the U.S. Congress and the EU to suspend all aid to any country ruled by leaders who have been in power more than 10 years, until they choose new leaders, and adopt term limits.

08/05/2011

Obama Turns 50 Despite Opposition

The following story from The Onion, Issue 47-31, Aug. 4, 2011, was so good, I had to reprint it:

WASHINGTON—After months of heated negotiations and failed attempts to achieve any kind of consensus, President Obama turned 50 years old Thursday, drawing strong criticism from Republicans in Congress.

“With the host of problems this country is currently facing, the fact that our president is devoting time to the human process of aging is an affront to Americans everywhere,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who advocated a provision to keep Obama 49 at least through the fall of 2013. “To move forward unilaterally and simply begin the next year of his life without bipartisan support—is that any way to lead a country?”

According to White House officials, Obama attempted to work with Republicans right up until the Aug. 4 deadline, but was ultimately left with no choice except to turn a year older.

06/24/2011

Afghanistan Withdrawal Like Vietnam’s

Although I respect President Obama and would vote for him over any Republican, his schedule to withdraw from Afghanistan looks more like a political timetable, than anything connected to the reality on the ground, and it resembles Nixon’s Vietnam plan.

Richard Nixon was elected in 1968, based on a secret plan to end the War in Vietnam. At the start of President Johnson’s last full year in office, in Jan. 1968, the U.S. had 486,000 men in Vietnam. When Nixon was sworn in, he first increased troop strength from Jan. through April 1969, to a peak of 543,000, before starting a very slow de-escalation. By Jan. 1970, 475,000 boots were still on the ground and nearly as many as there were two years earlier.

Instead of just getting out of Vietnam immediately, as he implied in the 1968 campaign, Nixon broadened the war in April 1970, by conducting an invasion into neighboring Cambodia. That surge, if you will, accomplished nothing, but more death and destruction.

While Nixon told the American people in Jan. 1971, the U.S. was pulling out, the number of troops still stood at 234,000, two years after he took office. Instead of simply withdrawing, which is what most Americans wanted, Nixon re-escalated the war again in Feb. 1971, by backing a South Vietnamese invasion into Laos. Among other losses, that effort destroyed 89 U.S. helicopters and crews.

As of Jan. 1972, three years after Nixon was sworn in, the U.S. still had 156,000 troops in Vietnam. When the North Vietnamese launched an offensive across the DMZ in March 1972, instead of just letting it go, Nixon resumed the bombing of North Vietnam, which President Johnson had halted 3½ years earlier. Nixon then ordered the mining of Haiphong Harbor, in May 1972.

To insure a political victory, Nixon instructed Sec. of State Henry Kissinger to announce: “peace is at hand” in Oct., just before the Nov. 1972 election. This helped Nixon defeat Democratic Sen. George McGovern, a decorated WWII combat pilot. Once Nixon was in his second term, in Dec. 1972, he quickly resumed a vicious full-scale bombing campaign over Vietnam, known as the Christmas Bombings. Nixon finally gave up in Vietnam on Jan. 27, 1973, under the same terms he could have had 4 years earlier.

Two years later, after Nixon had resigned, the inevitable occurred on April 30, 1975 as the North reunited all of Vietnam and finally ended the conflict for the Vietnamese. President Ford acknowledged: “America is no longer at war,” on May 7, 1975.

Like Nixon, Obama gave the impression he would end the war, sooner than later. Under the recent plan however, it will take at least four years to get out of Afghanistan. Like Nixon, Obama increased troop strength, before starting to reduce it, a cleaver plan someone in the Pentagon must have dreamed up. Like Nixon’s incursion into Cambodia, Obama’s cross-over into Pakistan was without legal authority.

The Afghan withdrawal, scheduled to be done by Oct. 2012, is timed to insure victory in the Nov. 2012 election, just like Kissinger’s peace is at hand statement in Oct. 1972 was made to seal a win in Nov. 1972. The saddest part of the whole thing, is just like Nixon, Obama could have obtained the same result, if he had withdrawn immediately, upon taking office in Jan. 2009. The sad truth is we will not have gained anything but more body bags by staying another four years. The reality on the ground is we can never “win” in Afghanistan, no matter how long we stay. It was a lesson most Americans learned about 40 years ago already.

06/23/2011

South Africa: The Obamas Meet Mandela

As I watched the news of Michelle Obama and her daughters visiting Nelson Mandela in South Africa, it occurred to me Michele was born in 1964, the same year Mandela went to prison, and her children, ages 10 and 12, were not even alive in 1990, when he was released. Since the South African story is no longer new, and young people may not know it, it is time for a review.

When the all-white Nationalist Party won the 1948 South African elections, they ushered in a new era of racial prejudice, known as apartheid, which divided South Africa into black and white districts, under a Group Areas Act (1950). Separate residential areas were mandated based on race, as blacks were evicted from their homes, and forced to relocate. Blacks were not allowed to hold certain jobs, or receive equal pay for equal work. They could not use white buses, trains, restaurants, restrooms, theatres, or beaches. They were not allowed to vote, or permitted to protest.

When unarmed blacks, inspired by independence in other parts of Africa, protested an ID papers law, they were shot and killed by the police, in the Sharpsville Massacre (1960). The UN called the event a danger to peace, and asked South Africa “to abandon their policies of apartheid and racial discrimination.”

The white South Africans instead conducted searches without warrants, and authorized 90-day detentions, without trial (1961). Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid African National Congress leader, was sentenced to life in prison, for allegedly plotting sabotage (1964). A UN admonition to release political prisoners, and an end arbitrary trials and executions, was ignored.

Another 600 blacks were later slain, as 10,000 marched through the Southwest Township (SOWETO), near Johannesburg (1976).

Hope spread when the all-white government in neighboring South Rhodesia abdicated (1980). Anticipating change, the UN warned South Africa not to carry out death sentences against African National Congress inmates, and asked them to drop treason charges against political prisoners, like Nelson Mandela (1980).

As forced relocations continued in the townships, blacks were killed near Johannesburg and Cape Town, and a state of emergency was declared. The nation came close to civil war (1985). 25 million South African blacks were no longer willing to be governed by 5 million whites. They kept up the pressure by torching the cars and houses of collaborators, as the government detained hundreds without trial, accused them of treason, and denied them due process. Many black activists were hung (1986).

Democrats in the U.S. House voted to impose sanctions, as the UN urged members to suspend investment, discontinue using the South African currency, and embargo military equipment (1985). American corporations, who controlled 125,000 jobs in the oil, auto, and computer industries, withdrew from the country (1986).

The final push for freedom began when President F. W. de Klerk replaced Prime Minister Botha (1989). Beaches were opened for blacks and they were no longer barred from four communities, exclusively white for 39 years (1989). De Klerk lifted the ban on Mandela’s African National Congress and started talks.

On Feb. 12, 1990, after 27 years in prison, Mandela was released, in an act praised around the globe. He flew to the U.S., appeared before Congress, and requested American support (1990-91). After the Parliament repealed racist legislation (1991), De Klerk announced the end of apartheid, as some whites left the country (1992). A National Peace Accord was signed (1992), and De Klerk and Mandela received Nobel Peace Prizes (1993).

Once the blacks of South Africa gained majority rule, they elected Nelson Mandela president (1994-99). Mandela, a man of peace and great patience, set retribution aside, and instead created a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which held hearings on what happened during the apartheid era (1996). The recent Obama audience with Mandela gave us the opportunity to reflect upon the South African struggle, and their first black president, a man of great conviction, who spent over a quarter of a century in prison.