Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Clinton Gets A Statue, Bolt Gets A Cheetah

So if you're the fastest man in the world, what animal to you choose as a pet? A cheetah, of course... Well, Olympic Champion Usain Bolt didn't exactly buy a cheetah as a pet, but he did adopt one at a refuge in Kenya, which he named "Lightning Bolt". Bolt, Usain Bolt that is, was visiting Kenya to help launch "The Long Run", an ecology campaign sponsored by a German charity, the Zeitz Foundation. Bolt was also made an honorary Masai Warrior during his visit.

But if you're looking for honors, it's hard to beat the one that Kosovo bestowed upon former President Bill Clinton. Officials in Pristina unveiled a gold-covered 10-foot tall likeness of the former president, whom many in Kosovo honor as the man responsible for ending their conflict with Serbia and ultimately paving the way for Kosovo's independence. Bill Clinton himself was on hand for the unveiling, along with at least one young Kosovar named "Klinton" in his honor. For the record, the Kosovars also have similar warm feelings for George W. Bush as well, though Bush only has a street named after him in the capital, no giant gold-plated statue.

In his speech, Clinton called upon the Kosovars to forge a multi-ethnic society. So far ethnic relations in Kosovo have focused on keeping the peace between the Albanian majority and the Serbian minority. But there are other smaller ethnic groups in Kosovo as well who say that they are being shoved to the margins of society. The London Telegraph recently ran this story about Kosovo's Ashkali minority, who claim that in efforts to build bridges between the Serbs and Albanians, their plight is being ignored. Like the Roma (Gypsies), the Ashkali have a murky ethnic lineage that stretches back to Central Asia, and like the Roma, the Ashkali often find themselves excluded from society. The Ashkali interviewed by the Telegraph say they have an almost 100% unemployment rate, their children can't go to school and that the Kosovo government largely ignores them, focusing solely on the Serbian minority.

It's something for the Kosovars to keep in mind as they listen to the words of Bill Clinton.
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