Book by John Maxwell
How to Make Our Own News: A Primer for Environmentalist and Journalists
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New Orleans was, I'm told, a place of myth and
place where moral, ethnic and social certitudes evaporated,
where the only reality was the city itself.
It was a world city, a place apart from the United
States, embedded in it, but breathing
an atmosphere richly
distilled by centuries of separation from the mainstream of the Protestant, puritan, Anglo-Saxon United States. It was a place
of French and Caribbean and black culture, history and folklore.
It was the American
interface with the Third World.
Last week we lost New Orleans.
At least the Speaker of the US
House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, thinks we
should lose New Orleans. It's not worth rebuilding, he said, it
should be bulldozed.
Even if he's wrong, the old New Orleans is gone.
Even the Louis Armstrong International Airport
was under water, along with thousands of houses and the people
who lived in them. Most were simply too poor to escape Hurricane
Katrina, inevitable victims of a disaster long foretold,
predicted and expected.
According to Professor Paul Krugman in the New
York Times, "Before 9/11 the Federal Emergency
Management Agency listed the three most likely catastrophic disasters facing America: a
terrorist attack on New York, a major earthquake in San
Francisco, and a hurricane strike on New Orleans."
"The New Orleans hurricane scenario," The
Houston Chronicle wrote in December 2001, "may be the deadliest of all." It described a
potential catastrophe very much like the one now happening."
The New York Times quotes
Eric Tolbert, formerly a top official of the Federal
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). According to Tolbert, FEMA
officials, having just returned from helping in last December's
Tsunami relief, drew up a list of probable disasters in the
United States: "New Orleans was the No. 1 disaster we were
talking about, "We were obsessed with New Orleans because
of the risk."
But FEMA and all the other agencies of the US
government were caught flatfooted by Hurricane Katrina. It wasn't
because they hadn't drawn up plans, or because they hadn't
rehearsed what they would do in case their fears came to pass.
It was because the Federal government had downsized FEMA and
had, over the last five years, refused to heed New Orleans'
pleas for money to defend the city against exactly such a
The National Guard which would have been among
the first responders, is largely in Iraq, fighting a war they
were not meant to.
many layers. Physical destruction and the consequent disruptions
are one part. There are also the psychological, social,
political and economic disruptions which follow. Natural
disasters become catastrophes when human beings don't act
intelligently or in time.
Twenty-five years ago, when Hurricane Allen
seemed headed for Jamaica's south coast and specifically for
Portmore, I was one of a group which convinced the Prime
Minister to come to our assistance
in an emergency movement of about 50,000 people from
low-lying Portmore within about fourteen hours. At the time we
were in the throes of planning what later became the Office of
Disaster Preparedness . Most of what we managed to do was seat
of the pants improvisation. But had the hurricane struck
Portmore we would have saved the lives of thousands of people.
New Orleans had much more warning and many
thousands were evacuated. But
most of the people in New Orleans were too poor to arrange their
own evacuation. They stayed behind because no one had thought to
prepare for their problems.
But the catastrophe now developing in New Orleans
has been years in the making and most of it is directly
attributable to the idea that man can tame nature and that
"development" consists in putting down capital
intensive works without considering other factors, like the
weather, the geography and geology and most of all, the people.
The point of sustainable development is to
increase economic prosperity while making sure that the
benefits gained do not get wiped out by foreseeable hazards.. In
New Orleans, greed and capital prevailed over common sense.
When New Orleans was first settled
nearly three centuries ago, the land on which it was
built was ten feet above sea level. Today it is about ten feet
below. The reasons are fairly simple. The city is built on land
formed by the Mississippi River, part of its delta and like
Portmore, (on the Rio Cobre delta) much of it is underlain by
peat which is infinitely compressible. When water is abstracted
from peat, the land above it sinks. Further, the federal
government in an attempt to tame the Mississippi, has tried to
force it to behave like a gully, constructing, restricting and
redirecting its flow so that the river no longer nourishes the
watertable underneath the city as it did when the city was
younger and sat more lightly on its foundations.
Beyond the physical disaster is the human
calamity. The US Congress is giving express passage to a bill
providing more than 10 billion dollars for emergency relief,
about twice as much as has been requested to shore up the defences of New Orleans and, possibly, moderate the effects of
what is now
estimated to be a 28 billion dollar disaster.
Meanwhile, the people on the ground in New
Orleans are angry, the officials as well as the ordinary
citizens. Law and order no longer exists
as desperate people
take the law into their own hands to ensure their own
On Thursday night the city's Mayor, Roy Nagin
told a television interviewer, "I need reinforcements, I need troops, man.
I need 500 buses, man. This is a national disaster. This is a
major, major, major deal. And I can't emphasize it enough. It's
awful down here, man."
Of President Bush he said: "We
have an incredible crisis here and his flying over in Air Force
One does not do it justice. Excuse my French - everybody in
America - but I am pissed."
New Orleans' emergency operations chief Terry
Ebbert called the situation a national disgrace, "We can send
massive amounts of aid to tsunami victims, but we can't bail out
the city of New
New Orleans is the largest area of disaster, but
there are others scattered through Louisiana, Mississippi and
Alabama. Stories abound of people waiting in
miles-long lines for hours for gasoline, water or ice.
Worse were the stories from the Superdome, which has been
sheltering thousands of people driven from their homes: people
dying, women and children being raped, and outside, human bodies
rotting on the flooded streets.
Four days after the disaster there was no organised
The psychological toll will be enormous. In
places like Jamaica more accustomed to natural calamities, people
may be a little more tolerant of official delay. But in the United
States where food comes out of a supermarket or a take-out
restaurant, life is more complicated.
The poorer you are, the more complicated it gets.
And in New Orleans and Biloxi and most of the affected areas, the
poor, the ones left behind, are overwhelmingly black.
In neighbouring Mississippi black people earn half as much as white people, "Race is becoming the fulcrum for criticism of the
government." The Rev. Jesse Jackson said cities had been
dismissed by the Bush administration because Mr. Bush received few
"Many black people feel that their race,
their property conditions and their voting patterns have been a
factor in the response, I'm
not saying that myself, but what's self-evident is that you have
many poor people without a way out."
A vignette: Two photographs; one from Associated
Press captioned A young man walks through waist deep water after
looting a grocery store the other from Agence france Presse:
Two residents walk through waist deep water after finding bread
and soda from a local grocery store: The AP photo was of a black man.
Professor Krugman suggests that "At a
fundamental level. our current leaders just aren't serious about
some of the essential functions of government. They like waging
war, but they don't like providing security, rescuing those in
need or spending on preventive measures."
"Yesterday Mr. Bush made an utterly
fantastic claim: that nobody expected the breach of the levees. In
fact, there had been repeated warnings about exactly that risk.
So America, once famous for its can-do attitude,
now has a can't-do government that makes excuses instead of doing
its job. And while it makes those excuses, Americans are dying.
Europeans have been stunned by the America
revealed by Katrina. Suddenly,
the hurricane has blown away the facade of Hollywood, CNN, and
McDonalds and revealed an America, in living colour and
dire destitution, which they had never imagined.
Others outside of the United States watch in
fascinated horror, as things fall apart in the country whose
leader has proclaimed it his mission to "spread democracy".
Is this, they ask, what democracy looks like?
Meanwhile, In Haiti
One of the places where Mr Bush is spreading
democracy is Haiti, tied by history and culture to New Orleans in
a way few other countries are. It is now tied by another bond:
catastrophe following the decapitation of democracy..
As Jesse Jackson points out, the Republican
administration of President Bush has neglected the cities because
essentially, there are too many Democrat voters there and not
enough Republican. In Haiti the situation is somewhat different.
The head of state, the popularly elected President, was removed by
the US Ambassador and a platoon of Marines, because, in the words
of the American
diplomat Luigi Einaudi, "the only thing wrong with Haiti is
that it's run by Haitians."
The new Haitian regime run by American satraps,
is busy trying to eliminate and terrorise the Haitian population
to exterminate support for President Aristide.
weeks ago a crowd at a football match applauded when they saw
members of the Haitian police entering the stadium. Since the
match had been arranged by USAID as a peacekeeping, conciliatory
gesture, the crowd thought that the cops were there to protect
No such luck. Gunfire broke out, and behind the
police came machete wielding masked men dealing death and
dismemberment to random members of the stadium crowd.
It is still unclear how many people were
butchered inside the stadium and outside as they ran for their
lives. There is no body count coming from either the government,
the Haitian police nor the supervising authority, the United
Nations Mission MINUSTAH.
In Haiti, as in New Orleans, chaos reigns.
But, whereas in the New York Times and other the
US media, pundits like Professor Krugman are calling for
accountability for the disaster in New Orleans, no one is calling
for accountability in Haiti.
Last year, because the legitimate government had
been destroyed, more than 3,000 Haitians lost their lives to
flooding from rain. The reason?
The Bush-sponsored regime
had chased into exile or murdered the community leaders whose duty
it was to warn and prepare the people in the event of threatened
disasters. They have not been replaced
The US weather service tells us by the way, that
the "bulk" of the current Hurricane Season is still
ahead of us; that there are more hurricanes,, more dangerous
hurricanes, in the offing.
And, of course, the debate goes on. Is there such
a thing as global warming? And doesn't global warming mean more
hurricanes and more dangerous hurricanes?
For President Bush, the jury is still out. He
sees no danger there. Meanwhile he will be visiting some of the
hurricane stricken areas this weekend. He will not go to New
That is too dangerous.
Copyright©2005 John Maxwell firstname.lastname@example.org
posted 2 September 2005
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Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption, and the Hijacking of America
By Charles H. Ferguson
If you’re smart and a hard worker, but your parents aren’t rich, you’re now better off being born in Munich, Germany or in Singapore than in Cleveland, Ohio or New York. This radical shift did not happen by accident. Ferguson shows how, since the Reagan administration in the 1980s, both major political parties have become captives of the moneyed elite. It was the Clinton administration that dismantled the regulatory controls that protected the average citizen from avaricious financiers. It was the Bush team that destroyed the federal revenue base with its grotesquely skewed tax cuts for the rich. And it is the Obama White House that has allowed financial criminals to continue to operate unchecked, even after supposed “reforms” installed after the collapse of 2008.
Predator Nation reveals how once-revered figures like Alan Greenspan and Larry Summers became mere courtiers to the elite.
Based on many
newly released court filings, it details the extent of
the crimes—there is no other word—committed in the
frenzied chase for wealth that caused the financial
crisis. And, finally, it lays out a plan of action for
how we might take back our country and the American
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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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The Warmth of Other Suns
The Epic Story of America's Great
By Isabel Wilkerson
Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a
sharecropper's wife, left Mississippi
for Milwaukee in 1937, after her cousin
was falsely accused of stealing a white
man's turkeys and was almost beaten to
death. In 1945, George Swanson Starling,
a citrus picker, fled Florida for Harlem
after learning of the grove owners'
plans to give him a "necktie party" (a
lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing Foster
made his trek from Louisiana to
California in 1953, embittered by "the
absurdity that he was doing surgery for
the United States Army and couldn't
operate in his own home town." Anchored
to these three stories is Pulitzer
Prize–winning journalist Wilkerson's
magnificent, extensively researched
study of the "great migration," the
exodus of six million black Southerners
out of the terror of Jim Crow to an
"uncertain existence" in the North and
Midwest. Wilkerson deftly incorporates
sociological and historical studies into
the novelistic narratives of Gladney,
Starling, and Pershing settling in new
lands, building anew, and often finding
that they have not left racism behind.
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The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
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Ancient African Nations
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Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
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update 31 May 2012