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West Indies fans cheer at the World Cup opening ceremony on Sunday - but few think they have a real chance of winning. Photograph: Andres Leighton/AP
What happened to the Windies?
Three years ago, during an evening celebrating the West Indies' 75th anniversary as a Test-playing team, Viv Richards took to the stage of Birmingham's Symphony Hall to receive an award as one of the Caribbean's top five players of all time.
The web works for the grassroots, but political power still lies with the few
"I have the boldest plan to get us out of Iraq and a long-term policy for energy security to keep us out of future oil wars," said Vilsack in his concession speech. This is not true. Vilsack was a fairly ordinary candidate with fairly ordinary policies. His plans were not bold. In a free and fair contest of content, charisma and character the voters would probably not go for him. The issue is that they will never get the chance. Before he could get his name on a ballot, money had the final say.


A woman holds up a Kenyan flag as Barack Obama greets supporters during a Democratic rally in Austin, Texas. Photograph: LM Otero/AP
Is Obama black enough?
Nine years later, the US has its best chance yet to elect an actual - as opposed to metaphorical - black president in the Democratic senator for Illinois, Barack Obama. Born to a Kenyan father and a mother from Kansas, Obama's favourite book as a teenager was Malcolm X's autobiography. After graduating, he did grassroots campaigning work in the black community in Chicago; after he was elected to the Senate, he joined the Congressional black caucus. Yet somehow Obama's racial identity remains a subject of perennial scrutiny. His mixed-race heritage and solid midwestern timbre have left some claiming he is not black at all. His background - raised by his white mother and grandparents in Hawaii and Jakarta, he attended Ivy League colleges and then taught constitutional law at university - fits no known mould of black American life.
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Stranger in a Strange Land – Encounters in the Disunited States
book review
'It often takes an outsider to look inside. This is especially true of the United States.'
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