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From Chicago

It was not that hard to predict Obama would be elected. But still, it was daring to make t-shirts picturing him as a winner before the 4th. In Chicago streets, “Yes we did” t-shirts were on sales even before Barack Obama’s victory speech. The first Black President’s  election already benefits to the economy!

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By Charlotte Pudlowski, from Chicago

It sometimes happens that journalists are not watching the event, but embody it and are watched by people.  It was the case this morning at Grant Park, Chicago. 

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Grant Park is where Barack Obama will pronounce his speech on Tuesday evening – either a victory or a concession one. Thousands of foreign reporters gather to attend the event. 

To get access to the media zone, the price goes from $715 for a blind radio position (table space and chair behind the riser, power, two credentials and a radio line) to $1870 if you are a rich outlet (that includes a main riser position services, two unlimited long distance/local phone lines and one wired high speed internet connection). If you can’t afford this, you can still go to the free general media area: “outdoors, unassigned and may have obstructed views”

Outside the golden area, joggers and passerbys look at crews’ arrival, from as far as Africa and Italy. They will set up in order to be ready for the expected historical moment. But no pictures from the inside, until 4AM tomorrow. 

Except a few: here_dsc8086

 

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By Charlotte Pudlowski from Chicago

Zariff, Barack Obama’s hairdresser

 

 

 

A few blocks away from Obama’s house, in Chicago, you would think that the second most famous man after the Democrat candidate is John McCain. Well, you would be wrong. That’s the Black senator’s barber.

At 5234 S. Blackstone stands “Hyde Park hair salon”, where Zariff has been cutting Obama’s hair for fifteen years. And now that the presidential candidate is traveling all over the country, journalists have been taking over

I entered the shop this morning, along with a TV crew working for an African channel, and another one was already waiting to talk to Zariff. When I came back around noon, a journalist from Hong Kong was there, and four journalists from Netherlands were in action. Everybody was looking forward to asking questions about Obama. What conversations did he have with his neighbors? Has his haircut changed in fifteen years ? Has  Read More

By Charlotte Pudlowski

White America’s guilty conscience” : this is the title of an excellent article published last Sunday in a French paper that comes out every Sunday: Le Journal du dimanche. The author, Antoine Malo, spent some time in Saint-Louis, Missouri, to end up with a colorful intelligent report on how a country that was living in segregation less than half a century ago may be ready to elect a Black president.

Mary remembers it as if it was yesterday. She remembers everything: Bismarck, her small town in South Missouri; her friends at school, all Whites, just like her, and those Blacks she used to see working along the railroad. When the night would come, she would watch them step quickly up the train that was leaving Bismarck. They were not allowed to spend the night in town. She also remembers the first time she talked to a Black person. He was an elevator operator in Saint-Louis. She was eighteen years old. (…)

Mary is a hard-core Republican. (…) She doesn’t like Obama too much. (…) But what about the color of his skin?  I don’t mind” she assures. “Whether our President is White, Black or Yellow doesn’t matter. In my Church, there is plenty of Black people whom I get along with very well.” Would have Mary done tabula rasa? Most Republicans, in the very conservative state of Missouri, where segregation at school has been cancelled only in 1954, talk likewise. Obama’s race doesn’t count and the White America is ready to see a Black man in Washington. Is this a lie? Does skin color remain the ultimate taboo, or has America really entered a new post-racial era? “Most Republicans are not racist at all”, contends Dave Robertson, a political scientist in Saint-Louis University, who moderates right away “Anyway, Americans shall never dare saying openly that barrack Obama’s origins disturb them”.

“And yet. In a recent poll, 20% of Missouri inhabitants– where Obama has skyrocketed in the polls- considered that United States were not ready “to elect an Afro-American as president”. In Missouri, as in the rest of the country, all along the electoral campaign, the racial issue has come back regularly. Of course, Republicans have never directly evoked their rival skin color. But it has been hammered during meetings that his middle name, Hussein, was not very Christian. There have also been suspicions concerning his wife patriotism, Michelle. (…) Read More

By Charlotte Pudlowski

Yesterday, while presidential candidate John McCain was having burgers in a dinner in Columbia, MO, a small crowd had gathered to welcome him. Not only Democrats and Republicans (read here) but also a libertarian:Wes Upchurch.

This 21 years old web-designer actually runs for Missouri secretary of State. And he supports Bob Barr, the libertarian candidate. In a recent Gallup poll that was listing Third-Party candidates, Bob Barr is said to be receiving 1% of voter choices (just as Cynthia McKinney, Green Party). But according to Upchurch, “A vote for either of the main candidates is a wasted vote“, and he claims, against what Gallup, CNN/Time, Fox News/Rasmussen and any other polls found say, that Bob Barr is polling 6% nationally

But you may think that still, between John McCain and Barack Obama, there is a difference- and that Bob Barr being a former Republican, Libertarians are closer to Republicans than to Democrats. It is not Upchurch’s opinion. John McCain, despite the appearances, also pushes for big government, Upchurch contends, and he adds: “McCain seems fake, and I want something real“.

When I asked him if, since third-party candidates kept on losing elections, maybe there was another way to change the system, he started explaining the improving situation of small candidates, through Ron Paul‘s relative success during the Primaries.

So with all his libertarian ideas and ideals, Wes Upchurch runs for the Secretary of state and is hoping -very optimistically- to get 4% of the votes.