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Unfortunately for the US, the world has seen what these unilateral arrangements can mean, at Abu Ghraib

and Guantanamo Bay, for example, and in the vast gulag archipelago for suspected terrorists

now being operated round the world by the United States.



Book by John Maxwell

How to Make Our Own News: A Primer for Environmentalist and Journalists

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The War Against Civilisation


By John Maxwell


We cannot say we weren't warned. On May 6, 2002, the United States denounced the International Criminal Court, telling the United Nations that it would no longer consider itself bound by the Treaty establishing the ICC – signed by President Clinton in the closing days of his administration.

Clinton had reservations about the court, but he believed that the US could negotiate compromises which would still have left the Court an effective tribunal for the trial of crimes against humanity. The Bush Administration began almost as soon as it took office, to rail against the idea of the Court itself, and began to blackmail smaller countries into signing bilateral treaties to (hopefully) render the Court without jurisdiction in those countries. The reason, according to various spokesmen for the US, was to protect the interest of American soldiers and diplomats from frivolous  prosecution.

Mr Pierre Richard Prosper, a senior US diplomat said the May 6 letter to the UN 'neutralised' Mr Clinton's signature and " … It frees us from some of the obligations that are incurred by signature. When you sign you have an obligation not to take actions that would defeat the object or purpose of the treaty," he said. By unsigning the treaty, the US would no longer have to extradite people wanted by the court, he said.

What we've learnt from the war on terror is that rather than creating an international mechanism to deal with these issues it is better to organise an international mandate that authorises states to use their unilateral tools to tackle the problems we have …

Law Free Zones

Unfortunately for the US, the world has seen what these unilateral arrangements can mean, at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, for example, and in the vast gulag archipelago for suspected terrorists now being operated round the world by the United States.As one of Britian’s most eminent judges, Lord Steyn, has said, the US has created a 'law-free zone" where it can commit any crime against anyone without fear of prosecution. Or so Mr Bush's advisers believe.

Unless Mr Bush and his party seize power in the United States and remain in power forever, prosecution and retribution are always in the offing, as the Chilean usurper/regicide Pinochet is now discovering. One of the key loopholes the Americans believed they had discovered is that resiling from the ICC means that they do not have to extradite their own home-boy terrorists such as Luis Posada Carriles and his accomplice in murder, Orlando Bosch.

But the ICC renunciation was only the most significant act in a concerted US campaign to turn their backs not only on history but on civilisation itself. It is now clear that the US Administration and its dwindling band of fanatics want to turn the world back to medieval systems of governance,  Justice and knowledge.

Global Warming: The US has worked overtime, using bad science, PR spin doctors and the power of money to try to turn back the Kyoto protocol on climate change. It was sheer embarrassment which forced the US  three weeks ago to agree to continue being a part of the negotiating process. The tactic here will be to talk out the decision making process while the US continues to pollute the atmosphere and the seas and mankind's lungs and genes for as long as it is profitable. 

Globalisation: The US is adamant that her merchants and usurers should be free to scrape as much in profit from the rest of the world as possible by arrangements such as the WTO and  GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services) which will allow the Walmartisation and McDonaldisation of the world, destroying local artisans and their craft and substituting the obviously superior American ersatz productions, spreading asthma, diabetes, deformity and unemployment everywhere, while discrete 'Free Zones' provide slave labour for the Cognitive Elite behind their electrified fences and shoot to kill policies.

While Jamaica and India must cough up the 'uttermost farthing' for pirated DVDs and software, Americans will legitimately patent such things as the Neem Tree, Basmati Rice and eventually Reggae music. 

Genetics: The United States and a cadre of rogue scientists will continue to plunder the Earth in search of desirable plants, for food and medicine,  developed over centuries by peasants on the slopes of the Andes or the terraces of Assam. When they have found the most productive strains and patented them, they will then genetically  alter them so that no further development  and evolution is possible. These seeds will have no progeny, except in the tissue culture labs of Monsanto and Dupont. At that point, selective starvation (aka Eugenics) will become possible, as the companies which have patented life protest that they have run out of material and farmers in Peru and Jamaica and Assam and Sri Lanka will not be able to buy planting material. 

"We have a shortage" will be the claim.

And, since Mr Bush and his merry men do not believe in Evolution, All will be for the best in the best possible of all (gated) worlds.

GATS: That desirable green space in front of the University of the West Indies chapel at Mona would be greatly enhanced by a small, efficient Walmart. And American universities will demand subsidies ('national treatment') from Jamaica if Jamaica were unwise enough to give any assistance to the poor and indigent  Jamaican students attending the UWI. If the children of the elite want to go to Harvard, the Jamaican government would have to pay their fees as well, as long as Harvard set up a drop shop in Jamaica.

Small Arms and Drugs: While the United States reserves the right to kill people with alcohol and tobacco, it has set its face firmly against ganja and cocaine, which unlike alcohol and tobacco are virulently dangerous substances, notwithstanding the fact that they kill far fewer people.

And citing the immutable laws of Adam Smith and Free Trade, the Americans will refuse to control the export of small arms to places like Jamaica for the very good reason that when Jamaicans   kill each other it is a purely domestic problem

Oil: It is a curious fact that petroleum, which belongs by natural right to the United States, has been secreted by God under the land area and seas of various poor and often 'failing states'. And when reckless and dangerous agitators like Hugo Chavez claim to be the rightful owners of the oil under their feet, they need to understand that  their vain presumptions are entirely without fundamentalist justification and  are in sacrilegious disrespect of the bottom line.

Assaulting Liberty and Civilisation

The US Justice Department has now instituted an official probe with a view to criminal charges against the person or persons who leaked the state secret that president Bush had contravened the laws and Constitution of the United States by illegally ordering his National Security Agency to spy on Americans. A few Americans are agitated that this may mean some infringement of their civil liberties and may turn a few of them into unlawful combatants inhabiting some 'law-free zone" for the rest of their natural lives. Mr Bush has a divine right to break the law and exposing his crime is a crime.

I remember vividly what I was doing on the morning of September 11. My hair was standing on end before the planes struck the World Trade Centre. I was trolling the web and copied several stories about a new project called Echelon, a worldwide network of satellites and computers which had the capability to read  or record the secrets of anyone, any company, any government, anywhere. The European Union was about to protest about Echelon, the stories said. After 9/11 there has been a complete absence of stories about Echelon.

Case Study: The destruction of liberty can be choreographed, as Hitler and Stalin both knew. 'Obedience is good, Control better,' Stalin is reported to have said. And when Hitler began to enslave his people he started with blacks (Yes! Blacks! the 'spawn' of the Senegalese and Jamaican troops of the First World War armies occupying Germany) He next attacked homosexuals, Gypsies and then the Jews; picking them off one by one, choosing the most friendless – as Niemoller said – to begin with.

Mr Alex van Trotsenberg of the World bank infamously described Somalia as  'almost a non-country'.  Haiti is obviously a non-country, and Iraq cannot be far behind. What has happened to these two countries may be instructive. It was in Iraq, 8,000 years ago, we are told, that civilisation as we understand it, first developed.

After suffering defeat in the arranged Gulf War, the Iraqis were starved and  bombed continuously for ten years, their land contaminated by depleted uranium, their children poisoned, the wombs of the women so corrupted by radioactivity that many produced monsters. One American general said in 2002 there was nothing left to bomb in Iraq but the odd outhouse and a few unsuspecting shepherds, yet the US and British unleashed "Shock and Awe" against these people, a barbarous attempt  to cow them into surrender, to un-man them and convince them to greet the 'liberators' with flowers and kisses.

The reality was different. "She was standing in the wrong place, so I shot her" said one 18 year old American GI. Iraq's historic places and museums were looted and vandalised. Mr Rumsfeld was unperturbed: "Stuff happens" he said. Unlike Reichsmarshal Herman Goering, he did not reach for his revolver on hearing the word 'Culture' –  He probably did not understand it.

The Fight Against Slavery

Two hundred and one years after freeing themselves from slavery, the Haitians are once again engaged in the same struggle. The Haitians have been abandoned by their friends, their relatives and the world police, terrorised by the Americans, Canadians, Brazilians  and French, and by the United Nations.

Their president and his family were  kidnapped, transported out of his country as 'cargo' and finally found refuge in South Africa, one of the few places with the cojones to defy the United States in such matters.

The Haitian people are being raped, tortured, falsely imprisoned, brutalised and massacred by known and convicted criminals, one of whom is now running for President under elections sponsored by George Bush and Kofi Annan. The lawful President is being denigrated, vilified and  libelled for building more schools in five years than had been built in a century, for giving the children of Haiti their own radio station, for setting up a medical school open to poor students, for instituting a disaster preparedness network, for liberty and democracy

And, what happened ten years ago when American-sponsored Generals first removed Aristide is happening again. Rape and murder are again instruments of policy under the supervision of the man who oversaw Aristide's kidnapping, former US Ambassador Foley. Lynn Duff, an American journalist reports on a woman she met in Haiti: 

My daughter who is four years old was sleeping on a mat on the floor. They kicked her out of the way. My other daughter is nine years old. She was so scared she didn't even cry. …The police took my husband away because they said he was a chimère. [terrorist] They shackled him and beat him on his head. Then they took him out of the house.

… One policeman showed his identification card and said, "See what this is? It means that I can do with you whatever I want." But it was too dark for us to see the name on the card, even though we recognized it as a  policeman's identification card.

… one police officer said to me, 'Don't worry, you'll enjoy it.'  I think you can imagine what happened next. All of the police officers raped me, both in the natural place for having sex and also in the unnatural way, in my rear. 

The whole time my children were there watching. When the police officers finished with me, they went for my oldest girl, the one who is here with me today. They wanted to violate her as well but she is too small. One police officer put his fingers up inside of her and she bled.  

Today we are here at the clinic to see the doctor because my daughter is in a lot of pain since the attack. She has pain in her body and pain in her heart.

Paul Farmer, an American professor of medicine and medical Anthropology has spent two decades in rural Haiti, teaching people to deal with HIV/AIDS. He has devoted his life to curing the world, starting in  Haiti. At this moment he is in Rwanda, pursuing his mission.

I got an email from him last week. He said that he had examined the priest, Father Gerard Jean Juste in a prison in Port au Prince. Jean-Juste has committed no crime apart from being a pastor and leader of the Haitians,. He had also decided to run for President. He was arrested and held on no charge. Farmer examined him in prison and discovered that Father Gerry is suffering from cancer, probably leukemia. According to Farmer  

… he is not only a prisoner of conscience, one of hundreds in Haiti, but a sick one who needs more than prayers and letters of support. He needs proper medical care and, probably, chemotherapy. It's hard enough, as we know from our own long experience in central Haiti, to deliver chemotherapy anywhere in the country, but it's simply not possible to do so in a Haitian prison.

It was the Haitians who first abolished slavery and first proclaimed the universal rights of man, the doctrine enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 149 years later. If their very right to Liberty is now in question, can yours be far behind? If civilisation itself is under attack in Iraq, where next? If Liberty itself is smothered in Haiti, where does that leave you?

Copyright©2005 John Maxwell

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Hey John,

In reference to your recent Jamaica Observer article "The war against civilisation" all I can say is why don't you go and perform a physically impossible act on yourself. In other words, go screw yourself.

As a WHITE American who happens to own guns, a big comfortable single family home, three cars, and an annual income in the six figures, I don't much care what you think of me or President Bush. As a supporter of Bush I am a proponent of cutting off the U.N. from all U.S. funding and cutting foreign aid to 0%. That would include all funding to squalid backwater countries like Jamaica. Sorry John but as a well-off white anglo-saxon protestant male American I don't much give a shit about places like Jamaica, Africa, and other countries of their ilk. I especially don't like places with so many people "of color".  That's the way the majority of we Americans are. We're the best and we've got it good and you don't.  Get over it. Best, A D Buck

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Dear A.D. Buck

If you don't give a shit about what I say why are you writing?

I should be beneath your notice.

You have a six digit income and a double digit mind – a lethal combination.

You can't get over that.

John Maxwell

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John, to tell you the truth, I'm not amused by this anglo-saxon. He sent a chill through my limbs. I'm afraid there is a growing number with this kind of mentality in America. It is becoming more and more difficult for me to watch and listen to the tv news and talk programs. There's an outrageous arrogance growing by leaps and bounds in this country.

Your response was excellent. I'm not sure how I would have responded to this kind of rabid White Nationalism.Rudy

*   *   *   *   *

Critical thinking at its best. Everybody talkin' 'bout Heaven ain't goin there.Joyce

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For those of you who are concerned, as I am, about the increase in rabid racism (White nationalism) in this country, read the following exchange, as well as John Maxwell's cogent piece, "The War on Civilisation." The Bush administration has unleashed these hate-mongers, who feel free to vent their vitriol in this repressive climate.Miriam

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A.D.Bucks' response to John Maxwell's article, "The War Against Civilisation," portends the power and significance of ChickenBones. Bucks and "his kind" need to be exposed. His chilling response may help to wake the walking dead.  Thank you John Maxwell and thank you Rudolph Lewis for smoking out "the enemy." Thank you for holding up the serpent in the wilderness.Jeannette 

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Hi Rudy, A D Buck - (Also Demented with Assorted Disturbances!)

This fella is a loser in every possible way. He's no 'MAN!' (and he'll never spell M.A.N.) He's a racist and an ignorant hate monger, He's not pro President Bush or the Republicans or even the Constitution of this country. He's using those affiliations as a shield to make himself feel good when in actuality, he's the devil. He should sell those 3 cars, the Pinto, the Gremlin and the El Camino and use ALL those guns on himself and get over it. PS. 'Cuse me while I light a black candle. Bye, bye, bye! Buck's outta luck. Somebody, got a rope?Fuming in AZ

posted 31 December 2005 / comments added 2 January 2006

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Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—WashingtonPost

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Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don't know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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