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 The Army fired Bunny Greenhouse because she had the temerity to discover billions (with a B)

in fraudulent transactions related to the Iraq war. The press and public ignored hair-raising stories

 of millions of dollars in cash being shipped round Iraq like remaindered books.



 Book by John Maxwell

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

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A Week as Long as the Titanic

By John Maxwell


The behaviour of the Bush Administration and the US  Congress has for the past six years obscured the fact that the United States is home to millions of  some of  the world’s brightest people. And this week, when the US is undergoing one of its intermittent spasms of moral outrage, makes it even harder to appreciate the real torments of a great people.

The paladins of the right, moving effortlessly from equivocation to outright lies, are trying desperately to extricate themselves from a self-made quagmire which is threatening to swallow whole the conservative revolution of Gingrich, Bush and Rove. 

It has not been an edifying spectacle.

The political scene in the US has resembled a solfatara – a mud volcano – spitting steaming gobs of dark matter all over the pristine blueprints of the neocons and the flat-earthers. What could not be accomplished by the revelations about 9/11, the disasters of Katrina, the unholy bloody mess of the Iraq war is being accomplished by  virtual sex – sexual harassment in cyberspace. 

All of a sudden, all the sterling hypocrisies of the American right have turned to dross and the hunt is on for a scapegoat to deflect the astonished public examination of  the entrails  of an unfeeling, uncaring, neo-fascist  corporate state.

Astounding and almost incredible facts have been reported unnoticed: twenty American soldiers have been killed in Iraq in the first five days of October; Congress has given itself 9 pay rises in 11 years while refusing even one rise in the minimum wage since 1996. The average pay of CEOs of top corporations is rising 16 times as fast as the average American’s pay; the icons of American manufacturing industry, General Motors and Ford are unable to compete against Japanese cars made in the United States and the stock market has made its second successive record level in a week while the housing market – one of the real engines of the US economy, is on the point of popping like an overinflated balloon.

Instead, the serious men and women of the American media are mesmerised by the story of a deflated hypocrite, Mark Foley, until this week the representative of one of the safest Republican seats in the US Congress.

There was no such attention given to the meltdown of integrity represented by the indictment of the former majority leader, Mr DeLay or the collateral disclosures attending the exposure of his sidekick, Mr Abramoff, whose antics caused the transfer of millions of dollars into the hands of DeLay, Cunningham, Ney and those whitehaired boys of American fascism, Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed. 

And the odd thing about the latest scandal is that is appears to concern only the indiscretions of one hypocrite who lusted after young men while pretending to be their protector.

It is hypocrisy that has brought the US to this pass, not the high crimes and misdemeanours of the cold-hearted scoundrels at the heart of the American democracy. And the reason is perhaps both simple and complicated.

It is simple because one set of unwise but hardly criminal actions has exposed, more cruelly than any indictment, the rot at the core of the capitalist counter-revolution. It is complicated because, as in the collapse of any house of cards, it is almost impossible to discern where the weakness lay.

Paul Weyrich, one of the gurus of the rabid right, compares what is happening today to what happened in 1974, when the Democrats won a landslide victory, not because their vote increased, but because embarrassed Republicans were too abashed to support the rascals who had led them – the Agnews, Nixons, Haldemans, Ehrlichmans and the ineffable Charles Colson whose immortal dictum was “When you’ve got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.”

It is Colson’s principle which has got the Republicans into all this trouble.

Rove, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and their megalomaniac accomplices never calculated that anyone would have the guts to say out loud that the Emperor had no clothes. The press was squared, the media were all prepared for the triumphant Thousand Year Reich. Mr DeLay gerrymandered Texas, the biggest and one of the most populous states in the contiguous US, and got away with it. 

Two weeks ago, Dr Rice had arrogantly dismissed President Clinton’s claim that he had tried manfully to catch Bin Laden. Dr Rice retorted that her crew had done more in 8 months than Clinton in 8 years about catching Bin Laden. Yet, one week later she had to confess that she could not remember an emergency briefing by Tenet, head of the CIA, who was close to a panic in trying to focus Dr Rice’s attention on bin Laden just two months before the terrorists hit the fan. 

The Administration has denied that it was even considered that generalissimo Rumsfeld should get the boot, and, despite his continuing disasters, he has got yet another vote of confidence from his President.

Bob Woodward’s book has confirmed what was suspected by many of us and revealed by various people including former cabinet member Paul O’Neill and security chief Richard Clarke among others. They had reported that whatever Mr Bush virtues, his were not a safe pair of hands – as the cricketers say.

A year ago when Cindy Sheehan bearded Bush in his Texan desert, it appeared to set in motion some Sisyphean rock which kept threatening to squash Mr Bush. There was Katrina, which was the sort of emergency that Jamaica and Cuba deal with regularly. A year after the disaster the real recovery effort seems to be just beginning. 

And above all there is the continuing bloodletting in Iraq, a civil war concurrent with an insurgency which is killing Iraqis at the rate of 30 thousand a year and killing hundreds  and maiming thousands of American youth in a war that is unwinnable.

The problem with getting the hearts and minds to follow is that the grip on the gonads has to be consistent, firm and inexorable. No human apparatus of government, not Hitler’s, Stalin’s nor Franco’s or any other has proved to have the sheer remorseless will to maintain the pressure. And when there is the slightest relaxation, whenever people realise that their masters are human after all, there is hell to pay.

It is interesting to note what has happened to one piece of the democratic process in the United States. According to Congresswoman Sanchez, the Republican leadership presented the Congress with just one copy of an omnibus National Security Bill and gave the house one hour to debate and pass it. Naturally, nobody noted that there was in this bill an item of 20 million dollars for a celebration of victory in Iraq and Afghanistan.

With the impending collapse of the coalition war effort in both countries, it would seem a little premature to be setting aside millions for victory celebrations.

The problem of course is that if no one gets to read the bill, a document of hundreds of pages, no one will ever notice even twenty million dollar mistakes. But even if anyone had noticed, would it have made any difference ?

The Army fired Bunny Greenhouse because she had the temerity to discover billions (with a B) in fraudulent transactions related to the Iraq war. The press and public ignored hair-raising stories of millions of dollars in cash being shipped round Iraq like remaindered books. A million here, a billion there, and pretty soon you are being tiresome.

What will stick in the craw of the average American  is the simple callousness revealed by the official inattention to reports of Mr Foley’s indiscretions. Billions are being wasted, hundreds of young men are being killed, and now they hear that their kids are being sexually harassed in the Congress! 

Somehow, this is the straw that has broken the elephant’s back and made even Mr Bush irrelevant. While he is trying  to scare the daylights out of his people by dwelling on the Democrats inability to shoot straight, his speeches are falling into the wind, as irrelevant as flypaper in an igloo.

In the past few weeks Americans have been startled and saddened by the slaughter of children in schools and I believe that this fact is of powerful importance in the breakdown of confidence. It is a short jump from Lancaster County and the slaughter of little Amish girls by a sex-crazed milkman to the depraving of little boys by one set in authority over them and all America. IUT is this sort of unconsidered trifle that sparks revolutions. 

Jamaica: No Problem? 

I was disappointed in the Presidential speech at the recently concluded PNP annual conference. I am not alone. There are a great many Jamaicans who had looked to the Prime Ministerr to blow a fresh wind of change through the politics of Jamaica, as she had promised in the speeches before her election.

Instead, the Prime Minister declared forthrightly that she proposed to continue with the heavy metal development which is now destroying what is left of Jamaica.

In the first place, as someone who says she treasures the Jamaican countryside, Mrs Simpson must know that these developments have never been properly examined before they were put on track The government of Jamaica is continuing the trend started by Mr Patterson in disobeying ,disregarding and ignoring  its own rules.

What is worse is that if as they say, Mrs Simpson Miller and the PNP are serious about sustainable development, they do not seem to understand what that means. 

Last week I reported on the government’s intention to destroy the Cockpit country in the effort to scrape the last pound of bauxitic earth from Trelawny. And there are apparently plans to create some mad theme-park based on the Maroon heritage, no doubt in carefully packaged, plastic and concrete monstrosities built on the bones of some of our heroes.

Mrs Simpson Miller has welcomed Mr Patterson’s  parachuting himself back  into the electoral direction of the PNP. That sends the wrong signal to those who  support the new Prime Minister across party lines. And when Mr Patterson claims to be the dean of election  winners in Jamaica, Mrs Simpson should not forget that while she won her seat against the odds in 1980, Mr Patterson lost his – the seat of FLB Evans – to an unknown.

The egregious disclosure of the financing of oart of the PNP’s campaign by Trafigura SA is another bad sign. I don’t care whether Trafigura does not expect a quid pro quo. No foreign body has any business in Jamaican politics. That was my position when the CIA inserted itself into Jamaican politics in 1975 and it is my position now.

And it does matter that Trafigura is currently involved in a noxious affaire in the Ivory Coast in which several people have died. Since Trafigura is not unconnected to Glencore – which mines bauxite in Jamaica, and both are not unconnected with Marc Rich, I find it even more difficult to stomach any connection between them and the governing party of this country.

Political parties should not accept gifts from people with whom they may have to deal later. Whether the dealing is honest or not, justice will never appear to have been done.

Coincidentally, the German word for poison is gift.

Copyright ©2006 John Maxwell / 

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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Sex at the Margins

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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 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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posted 7 October 2006




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