US medal count – blacks v Mormons

With only hours to go to the London Olympics closing ceremony, the United States is way out in front with a total of 46 gold, 29 silver and 29 bronze medals.

I wonder how many were won by black Americans and how many by white Mormons? I doubt whether this will have any impact on the presidential election in November but perhaps it should.

President Obama shares with African Americans a remarkable story of achievement and success while Republican candidate Mitt Romney is a senior member of the Mormon sect, aka the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

The sect’s founder-leader Joseph Smith launched the movement in New York in the 1820s on the basis of “visions” and teachings he wrote in  “The Book of Mormon”.

In 1844 Smith was mayor of Nauvoo, a town in Illinois, when the local newspaper published an expose of the sect’s activities asserting that he supported polygamy and wanted to set himself up as a “theocratic king”. (Both true).

In response he ordered his followers to destroy the newspaper, its building and presses. He handed himself to the authorities in the county seat of Carthage where he was locked up with his brother Hyrum.

Before legal proceedings could start an angry mob stormed the building and shot both of them dead.

What adds piquant tragedy to these events is that, at the time, Joseph was standing as a candidate for election to be President of the United States.

Romney, who regards Smith as a “prophet” and a “martyr”, is hoping to fulfil the ambitions of his co-religionist.

PS: The central demand of Smith’s election manifesto was to enhance the powers of the president. He wanted the president to have “full power to send an army to suppress mobs … (without requiring) the governor of a state to make the demand.”


Another interesting piece of demography to emerge from the Olympics is that Britain now has one of the world’s highest rates of inter-marriage. British men and women are marrying Asians, Indians, Africans, people from the Middle East and West Indians at a high rate. Great for Britain.

Marx observed that the Industrial Revolution between 1750 and 1850 rescued the country from “rural idiocy” when millions of farm labourers were turned off the land to become tradesmen and industrial workers.

Perhaps inter-marriage will have a similar economic and cultural impact on Britain in the 21st century.

Mohamed Farah, who received enormous public support for his double gold medal victories in the 5000m and 10,000m, is the son of English and Somali parents.

His father, from Hounslow in West London, met his mother while on holidays in Somalia in the early 1980s. Mohamed arrived in London when he was eight years old barely able to speak a word of English.

After London, he wants to concentrate on a new distance – the marathon. Go Mo!


Greece’s unemployment climbed to a new peak of 23.1 per cent in May, with youth unemployment at 55 per cent. One year earlier the overall rate was 16.8 per cent, so you can see the rate of joblessness is gathering speed at an alarming rate.

All this comes as the so-called troika – the IMF, the European Central Bank and the European Commission – proposes inflicting a further round of cuts worth 11.5 billion euros on the Greek people, their jobs and living standards.

These cuts, called “savings” by the bankers, will push Greece’s unemployment to 28 per cent in 2013, according to Savvas Robolis, director of the General Confederation of Greek Labour’s Labour Institute.

Just so everyone understands the absurdity of capitalist economics – the world bankers are demanding billions of dollars in cuts to the Greek economy which in turn will deepen its four-year-old recession and drive up unemployment to socially unbearable levels.

This is called a “rescue package”. Makes me think we are living through an Orwellian nightmare where “newspeak” has become the official language of the power elite when they are describing what is happening to the rest of us.


At the museums of Athens we have been able to absorb the wonders of ancient Greece. In the midst of the great works of art and science, I’ve been intrigued by the relics of the practice of ostracism, from the Greek word ostrakismos.

When democracy was flowering in ancient Greece, Athenians would assemble in the Agora, a public space at the foot of the Acropolis, and decide whether to hold an ostracism. If the answer was “Yes” then the locals would scratch the name of a thoroughly objectionable citizen who they wished to expel from the city. His name was scratched on a broken piece of pottery and deposited in giant urns which acted as ballot boxes. After three months of voting, the city elders counted the “votes” and the person with the most number was banished from the city for 10 years.

It started me thinking whether we could adopt a similar practice in Australia, perhaps starting in Canberra.

According to Plutarch, the exercise was only valid if 6,000 voters took part. That would be easily attainable in the ACT and so would a classy field of candidates.

It would probably end up in a photo finish between Tony (The Mad Monk) Abbott and the prat from Adelaide, Christopher Pyne.

The ancient Greeks imposed another rule: if the ostracised person attempted to return to the city he was put to death. That strikes me as too extreme.



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