Book by John Maxwell
How to Make Our Own News: A Primer for Environmentalist and Journalists
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the Road, Jack!
What can anyone say about Ray Charles that
has not already been said, more eloquently and at greater
length? One of my favourite tributes was paid to him on the CBS
programme “Sunday Morning” and I was so stunned by the
eloquent simplicity and truth of the commentator’s words that
I neglected to write them down or to write down his name.
His point was simple, that Ray Charles had
been a major influence on every major strand of modern
American music, from Rock to Country while confecting Soul
out of the Blues. That’s pretty much my opinion too, and I
shall not rest until I identify the author and the story.
The truth wasn’t what was most prominent
in the obituaries for Ronald Reagan, who died the week before
Ray Charles. I must confess to being completely unable to
encompass the 'greatness' of a man who could consider Grenada a
threat to world peace and whose pursuit of Freedom and Democracy
was responsible for the deaths of nearly a hundred thousand
peasants,(and some intellectuals and nuns) in Salvador, Honduras
Perhaps Reagan’s chiefest
distinction was that he made respectable the primitive idea that
government was the problem and not the solution to mankind’s
efforts to survive.
Like his sidekick, Margaret Thatcher,
Reagan was against the whole continuum of modern
civilisation which is based on the idea that human beings must
cooperate to survive. There is an old, politically incorrect,
nineteenth century joke told against the Irish:
An Irishman is shipwrecked on some foreign
coast. After being dragged from the sea and restored to
consciousness, his first words to his rescuers are:
“Is there a government in this place?”
On being informed that
there was, he replied:
“Well, I’m agin
The problem was that Reagan was no joke.
It is his pernicious ideology which is
right now tearing the world apart, reducing working people to
slaves and transforming the middle classes of the world into
disinherited casual labour. Last week th US Congress approved a
tax cut which will take even more from the poor to hand to the
rich –the Reverse Robin Hood syndrome, so popular these days
among governments in the Third World which, having been
castrated by structural adjustment, willingly yield to the most
grotesque excesses of globalisation. We in Jamaica are
particularly unfortunate in being one of the test beds for these
processes. Haiti is another.
It is clear from the results of the G8
meeting in the Sea Islands, Georgia, last weekend, that the rich
and powerful of the world see no reason to change anything.
Their reasoning is simple: In the long run,
as Keynes said, we are all dead.
Here in Jamaica, we are busy starving
ourselves to build a monument to Reaganism-Thatcherism called
the Millennium Highway, or as I prefer to call it, the Doomsday
By the time this highway is finished
petroleum products will be affordable only by the wealthiest and
we will have a stretch of concrete right across Jamaica which we
should be able to sell for advertising when space travel becomes
an everyday phenomenon.
What'd I say?
One if the delights of being Commander in
Chief is that when you address the troops, any heckler will face
court martial. As I watched Mr Bush addressing his military
audience on Friday, I suddenly realised what
'captive audience really means.
Mr Bush told his troops that the
United States was faced by enemies, who, among other things,
wished to replace all religions with their own (presumably
Islam) and to subjugate women. He seemed to be unaware that in
invading Iraq the US was invading the one Middle Eastern country
in which all religion were tolerated and in which women
were completely free.
As I pointed out in a column on March 23,
“If Saddam’s regime was characterised
by decades of neglect, perhaps we could use some of that neglect
in other countries.
“In 1960, the Iraq life expectancy was 45
years. By 1975, 6 years after Saddam’s takeover, it had moved
to 59 and by 1987 to 65. The under 5 y.o. mortality rate
had moved from 224 per 100,000 in 1960 to 94 in 1987.
Adult literacy overall was 34% in 1970 and 85%
fifteen years later. Most impressive of all, for a country
(supposedly) with rape camps, is the fact that literacy among
women moved from 18% in 1970 to 87% in 1985. Enrolment in
primary schools had tripled. Women, as a proportion of the Iraqi
parliament were 13.2% in 1987, as against 11% in Jamaica
today. (UNDP Human Development report 1990)”
And when Mr Bush spoke of his troops
respecting the cultures of others I couldn’t help but be
reminded of Field Marshal von Rumsfeld’s casual aside
“Freedom is untidy” when told of the rape and looting of
8,000 years of human history in the museums of Iraq.
As Mr Bush said, on Friday, “When the
President of the United States speaks, he must mean what he
says.” He was happy that he had destroyed the Taliban,
but didn’t say much about Al Qaeda, (almost an American
invention) which is reported to be proliferating, strengthening
and just as determined to slaughter its enemies as ever.
There are, of course, people who don’t
think that the President of the United States has been
saying what he meant, or, if he has, that he has been
speaking the truth.
The New York Times, for example, on
Friday took Mr Bush to task in an editorial entitled “The
“Mr. Bush is right when he says he cannot
be blamed for everything that happened on or before Sept. 11,
2001. But he is responsible for the administration's actions
since then. That includes, inexcusably, selling the false Iraq-Qaeda
claim to Americans. There are two unpleasant alternatives:
either Mr. Bush knew he was not telling the truth, or he has a
capacity for politically motivated self-deception that is
terrifying in the post-9/11 world.”
There are others too, highly placed and of
some significance in Mr Bush’s world, who seem to think that
the 'War President' is not as good for the United States
as he thinks.
Hit the Road, Jack, …!
“In an unprecedented broadside, more than
two-dozen top retired US. career diplomats and military
commanders, many of whom reached their top positions under
former President George H. W Bush, have called for George W Bush
to be defeated in his re-election bid in November.’ (Jim Lobe,
In a statement which has put a tiger among
the Bush chickenhawks, a representative slice of the American
Establishment – former generals, admirals, ambassadors
and other high-ranking former officials of the US government,
have come out to tell Mr Bush to hit the road. In an open
letter to their President, the signatories complain that his
administration is destroying the good name and reputation of the
United States at home and abroad.
''It is time for a change … Never in the
two and a quarter centuries of our history has the United States
been so isolated among the nations, so broadly feared and
''Over nearly half a century we have
worked energetically in all regions of the world, often in very
difficult circumstances, to build piece by piece a structure of
respect and influence for the United States that has served our
country very well over the last 60 years … Today we see that
structure crumbling under an administration blinded by ideology
and a callous indifference to the realities of the world around
"… The Bush administration has shown
that it does not grasp (the) circumstances of the new era, and
is not able to rise to the responsibilities of world leadership
in either style or substance'', the statement concluded.
The statement is significant particularly
because it represents the feelings and reasoning of people who
are expected to be conservative and many who could be
described as ‘rock-ribbed Republicans.”
There are no anarchists here, no
socialists, certainly no one who could remotely be suspected of
harbouring anti-American feeling, no one who would not pass the
highest security clearances of the United States.
Among them are Admiral William Crowe,
former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President
Reagan, General Joseph Hoar, head of the US Central Command
under President Bush senior. And there is General Merrill McPeak,
former chief of staff of the Air Force, who, four years ago, was
a member of the “Veterans for Bush” campaign but who is now
advising the Kerry campaign.
Chaos on 9/11
I was involved in a kind of 9/11 scenario
34 years ago, when, as one of two copytasters in th BBC
External Newsroom, we were hit by four aeroplane hijacks. The
Copytaster is the man or woman through whom all raw news passes,
who selects and rejects teletype reports and decides whether to
send material to the Senior Editors who direct the subeditors to
write the stories. As you may imagine it is a nervewracking job
and most people don’t survive long in it. As I reported on the
Sunday following 9/11
“On September 6, 1970, on a bright and
sunny day much like last Tuesday I was Copytaster for the BBC's
World Service in London. One of the teletype attendants
ran to me with a piece of tape – a flash from Agence
France Presse reporting the hijacking of an American
airliner, Before that incredible day was out, we knew that four
airliners had been targeted and that three of them were sitting
at an airfield in Jordan with more than 300 hostages in
the hands of agents for the Popular Front for the Liberation of
Palestine. (PFLP) On Tuesday, my mind leapt back thirty years to
that day, with the same frisson of horrified fascination.”
I therefore have a good idea of what
the American air traffic controllers felt on September 11, 2001.
They did pretty well. In a situation where nothing is known
until you are hit by a new fact; they kept their cool, got
the word out, and managed to bring down safely, the more than
3,000 planes then in the air over the United States. It was
fortunate for thousands of people that 9/11 did not happen
in the weeks following Ronald Reagan's firing of all unionised
air traffic controllers in the US. These had had time to learn.
Outside of these people, however, systems
broke down. The White House itself and the President were out of
the loop for huge slabs of time. The North American Air Defence
System NORAD, malfunctioned. It was a huge failure of
Even had there been no failure of
communication, however, it is hard to see what could more
have been done on the day. You cannot order an airliner to be
shot down if you aren't pretty sure that its pilot’s
intentions are malign. And you can’t shoot down planes whose
position you don’t know.
The real failures were before the attack
when the White House, the FBI and the CIA made mistakes which
were to prove fatal. And some of those mistakes were made
because of wishful ideological thinking.
The 9/11 Commission is a month away from
issuing its final report. Life in the White House is going
to get much worse than it already is, when that
report comes out. And the fact that the White House tried to bar
any 9/11 Inquiry or Commission, and that it placed one of its
own as the chief executive of the commission are facts which are
unlikely to help Mr ush and friends.
Although the Bush Administration is
in trouble, it may be that the rest of us are even worse
straits. Perhaps we all should imitate Louis Jordan, one of Ray
Charles'’ predecessors: “Ain’t nobody here but us
chickens, ain’t nobody here at all …!”!
Copyright 2004 John Maxwell /
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The Price of Civilization
Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity
By Jeffrey D. Sachs
The Price of Civilization is a book that is essential reading for every American. In a forceful, impassioned, and personal voice, he offers not only a searing and incisive diagnosis of our country’s economic ills but also an urgent call for Americans to restore the virtues of fairness, honesty, and foresight as the foundations of national prosperity. Sachs finds that both political parties—and many leading economists—have missed the big picture, offering shortsighted solutions such as stimulus spending or tax cuts to address complex economic problems that require deeper solutions. Sachs argues that we have profoundly underestimated globalization’s long-term effects on our country, which create deep and largely unmet challenges with regard to jobs, incomes, poverty, and the environment. America’s single biggest economic failure, Sachs argues, is its inability to come to grips with the new global economic realities. Sachs describes a political system that has lost its ethical moorings, in which ever-rising campaign contributions and lobbying outlays overpower the voice of the citizenry. . . . Sachs offers a plan to turn the crisis around. He argues persuasively that the problem is not America’s abiding values, which remain generous and pragmatic, but the ease with which political spin and consumerism run circles around those values. He bids the reader to reclaim the virtues of good citizenship and mindfulness toward the economy and one another.
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Sex at the Margins
Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry
By Laura María Agustín
This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London
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update 16 June 2008