29 January 2006

Tsunami in the Desert

Common Sense
John Maxwell

Gaza Strip, Israel - Palestinian Hamas supporters chant slogans during a rally celebrating the group's victory in parliamentary elections, in the Khan Younis Refugee Camp, southern Gaza Strip on Friday, January 27, 2006. Hamas leaders have hinted that despite their hardline ideology, they will be pragmatic and not disrupt daily life in the territories they are about to rule. (Photo: AP)

Journalists and statesmen and stateswomen round the world have confessed themselves astonished by the electoral triumph of Hamas in Palestine. There seems to be a general air of dismay, shock, not to say stupefaction, that free, fair and democratic elections could have brought to power and office a group described by the United States and Israel as a gang of terrorists.

I must confess I find this puzzlement difficult to understand, especially since the US and Israel have, for the last five years, done their damnedest to discredit and destroy the Palestinian Authority (PA) and to humiliate and discredit its late leader, Yasser Arafat.Having managed this project, the US and its allies confess surprise that the Palestinians should have opted for the one group which did not seem intimidated by American and Israeli action.

If one remembers the rape of Jenin, the siege of Ramallah, the sequestration of Arafat in his last days and all the other punishments inflicted on the Arafat regime up to and including his death, is it really so strange that the Palestinians, with their backs to the wall, should have chosen to be defended by the only group which promised blood and fire for Israel?

What, exactly, was their alternative?

One of the most nauseating displays of the past few years has been the hypocrisy of an Israeli government under Ariel Sharon.

The Israeli Defence Forces deliberately targeted the PA and specifically its police forces, and having largely destroyed and demoralised the Palestinian armed forces, demanded of Arafat that those same forces should disarm the people Israel described as terrorists.

Since I am well aware that the terminology I just used may well be used to identify me as a supporter and glorifier of terrorists, let me explain myself before I end up in an American gulag or find myself the object of an targeted assassination.

Hamas justifies its behaviour, its armed struggle, as legally sanctioned resistance against an occupying power. It considers itself in a state of war. This is a very asymmetric war, to use current terminology.

Reports in the west suggest that the Palestinians are killing an enormous number of Israelis in various terror attacks and that all of those killed are innocent civilians. According to the Israeli Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (B'Tselem) the reality is somewhat different.

Between the start of the latest intifada in September 2000 and January 15 this year, the Israelis killed 3,392 Palestinians, 670 of whom were minors. During that time,

Palestinians killed 992 Israelis of whom 309 were security force personnel and 683 were civilians, 118 of them minors.
In addition, 112 Palestinians were killed by Palestinians for suspected collaboration with Israelis. The kill ratio, to use the ghastly terminology of statistics, gives the Israelis an advantage of 3.4 to one.

Since the Palestinians, Falastin, the Philistines of the Bible, were on the ground in Palestine long before Joshua led the Jews into the "Promised Land", it would seem that they have some sort of reasonable claim to at least live in Palestine. Unfortunately for them, however, the Zionist movement, founded by Theodore Herzl in Basle, Switzerland in 1897, has other ideas.

Herzl was moved by the idea that anti-semitism was a natural characteristic of European civilisation and proposed that the establishment of a national state for the Jews was the solution. He thought that "The Promised Land" would be the perfect site for a secular, socialist republic which would be a light to the world employing advanced technology and science for the furthering of human progress.

The Zionist organisation, financed by wealthy Jews from around the world, moved its headquarters to Muslim Jerusalem in 1936 and began to buy out Palestinian landowners and householders.

In Europe, three decades after Herzl's death, Hitler had begun to fulfil Herzl's worst fears by initiating an ethnic cleansing programme of wholesale murder, which eventually accounted for more than six million Jews as well as other minorities.

For the Jews, the establishment of a safe haven outside of Europe became an inescapable priority and the Jewish colonisation of Palestine accelerated. Although the British were initially opposed to the idea of handing Palestine over to the Jews, their opposition was soon broken by a campaign of terrorism led by Jewish extremists, two of whom, Shamir and Begin, went on to become leaders of secular Israel.

By the end of the Second World War and the defeat of Nazi Germany, the Jewish position in Palestine had been transformed by a combination of worldwide sympathy for the Jews, coupled with what had by now become a war for independence by a well-armed Jewish guerrilla.

Since the brief and bloody war of independence and Israel's conquest of 78 per cent of Palestine, every subsequent conflict has led to the confiscation of more Arab land by Israel. The result is what some critics of Israel call the bantustanisation of Palestine in which Palestinians were confined to increasingly smaller areas of land entirely surrounded by Israel.

The motive behind this programme was perhaps best expressed by Emanuel A Winston, an American pundit, who in 2002 wrote an article in USA Today entitled "No to a Palestinian State".
"Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organisation, like Syria and Iran, has taught the children of several generations to hate Israel so much that when they grow up they will commit ritual suicide for Islam and kill Jews. Arafat has thus programmed the ongoing genocide of his own young people as well as those of Israel.

"Regrettably, there is no ready solution for deprogramming the Arab culture that has taught its youth to hate and kill with such ferocity that nothing, including a state of their own, will change their minds or cure their murderous behaviour."
Among solutions suggested by Winston and others is a genteel form of ethnic cleansing, transporting or relocating the Palestinians to Jordan or North Africa, so that secular Israel can more perfectly occupy the geographical position of all the land ever occupied by the nomads brought out of Egypt by Moses.

There is, to my knowledge, no Israeli leader who does not contemplate at some time in the not too distant future, an "Eretz Isrsael" uncontaminated by Philistines/Falastin/Palestinians.

And Eretz Israel includes vast areas of the Middle East, including Cyprus, Syria, parts of Turkey and Iraq.

In little more than a century, Herzl's idea of a secular, socialist, tolerant state has been transformed and is being transformed into a religious construct, fundamentalist and warlike, able to impose its will on its neighbours.

It cannot be strange, therefore, that Israel, having disposed of all rational opposition to its policies, having buried Arafat and the Palestinian Authority in failure and odium, finds that the vacuum it created has been filled by something which is almost a mirror image of itself: a fundamentalist, warlike entity which denies Israel the same recognition that Israel denies to Palestine.

Various newspapers in the Arab world and outside are busy exhorting Hamas to forswear its militancy and to recognise Israel. They, and Mr Bush and Israel, do not realise that these trappings of Hamas are precisely the only cards that the Palestinians hold. Arafat and Fatah were defeated by long speeches, double dealing and wilful misbehaviour on the part of Israel.

The Palestinians, after more than 50 years in the prison of Palestine, can see no way out but violence. The Israeli apologists who have long preached the intransigence of the Arabs are now reaping their fulfilment of their rhetorical excesses.

In the Israeli newspaper, Ha'aretz on Friday, a writer named Bradley Burston presented a novel view of the developments in Palestine by comparing them to Israel in 1977 when the corrupt, futile Labour government was defeated by the Likud of Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir.
"In 1977, the Likud of Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir was derided abroad - and by the left at home - as a group led by terror warlords, a movement with roots in armed wings that had engaged in bombings and cold-blooded shootings.

"It was seen - incorrectly - as inexperienced in everything except opposition. It was seen - ingenuously, by the left - as little more than an outgrowth of the Irgun and Lehi, heirs to Deir Yassin, implacable in its opposition to sharing or ceding land.

"It was on May 17, 1977 that Begin's Likud defeated Labour. Exactly six months and two days later, the first leader of an Arab nation to publicly set foot on Israeli soil - a man who had ordered his armies to attack Israel on Yom Kippur - shook Begin's hand and drove with him to Jerusalem, where he would address the Knesset the next day."
Burston suggests that the unexpected may be the possible, because God, he says, is in the unexpected, and if both Israel and its Arab enemy can claim victory in the same war, they may both be able to leverage that claim into some form of peace. That may be simply wishful thinking, but it may be a wish worth making.

The fact is that both sides are now almost completely out of options other than peace. Unless Israel is willing to 'nuke' the Palestinians and themselves in the bargain, there is now no alternative to peace.

Can the Israelis resume the targeted assassination of Hamas leaders? I think not.

Can Israel survive harbouring in its body an implacable enemy, determined on its destruction? That is not practicable. Some commentators have decided that the Hamas victory means the end of the peace process.

Others say it is the end of dialogue. But there have been no peace process and no dialogue for several years. Mr Sharon kept on saying that he was looking for a partner for peace, but in shunning Arafat and the Fatah, he little knew how well he was preparing the ground for Hamas.

At this moment, the leader of Arafat's party, Marwan Barghouti, is serving several life sentences in an Israeli jail. He can't be a partner for peace. According to Barghouti, "Israelis must abandon the myth that it is possible to have peace and occupation at the same time, that peaceful coexistence is possible between slave and master".

The leadership of Hamas has been under attack, too, with several killed by 'targeted assassinations' carried out by the Israeli Defence Forces. As I pointed out after the 9/11 atrocity, people who kill themselves in order to kill their enemies obviously have nothing to lose.

The Palestinian suicide bombers have been making that clear for years. But those were individuals. The leadership of Hamas are not suicide bombers. And they have moderated their original positions.

Under its founder, Sheik Yassin (assassinated by Israel last year), Hamas offered a long-term ceasefire in return for the withdrawal of Israel from the occupied West bank and Gaza and the establishment of a Palestinian state on that land. They are not asking for a rollback to 1948.

If Israel is serious, there does seem to be room for peace. But - and it is a huge but - the Israeli body politic has moved increasingly to the right and towards fundamentalism in recent years. Less than two years ago, dozens of right-wing Israeli leaders announced the creation of a new political party dedicated to the expulsion of millions of Muslims and Christians from Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

Analysts say that Ariel Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza and part of the West Bank was a ploy to short-circuit such right-wingers; he intended to establish huge Israeli presences in other parts of the West Bank and allow the creation of a Palestinian state which would be a dismembered, dysfunctional entity with little more than a name, a national anthem and a seat, perhaps in the UN.

But Sharon is hors de combat, and with Arafat preceding him, Palestine and Israel are now led by men who do not have to be prisoners of the past. Both sides claim God. Both sides claim Palestine. If they can find a way to share Palestine as they share the same God, they may make it work.

The omens, however, are not propitious. On Thursday morning, as the news of the Hamas upset spread round the world, the Israeli Defence Force shot and killed a nine-year-old girl. Adolf Hitler's ghost must have smiled. They need to make sure he doesn't smile again, ever.

22 January 2006

Whatever Lola Wants

Common Sense
John Maxwell

Most of us tend to think of our environment - if we think of it at all - as simply the natural world in which we live, the trees and flowers around us, the birds, bees butterflies and other living things which we try to tame, exploit or exterminate - whatever fancy strikes us.

Our environment is in reality, a universe of things living and dead, things built and natural as well as the emotional, intellectual and social ambiances in which we must swim to survive.

Crime, for instance - like terrorism - is not some abstraction upon which we can wage rhetorical war; it is part of our evironment and usually a symptom of a diseased environment.

The Jamaican Prime Minister, the Most Honorable and Right Honorable (MH&RH) Percival James Patterson, is, with the exception of Fidel Castro, the only head of state or government still in office who signed the Treaty of Rio - Agenda 21 - in Rio de Janeiro 14 years ago.

Unlike Castro, the Jamaican leader has paid scant attention to his country's environments, with the result that while Cuba is quite close to fulfilling its Millennium Development Goals, Jamaica is about as far away from doing that as it was when the goals were formulated.

So while most Jamaican citizens, wherever they live, are afraid to go into their front yards or gated parking lots at night, most Cubans feel quite easy strolling hand in hand on the Malecon or wherever in their country they happen to want to stroll at midnight.

This week it was announced that the Cabinet has approved a new Town and Country Planning Authority, a group which will have broad authority over whatever is planned, built, planted, excavated or otherwise executed anywhere in Jamaica. That, at any rate is the theory.

In practice, as people all over this country can attest, the government or its organs, like the Urban Development Corporation, or its friends like Roosevelt Thompson and Robert Cartade, get whatever they want. Thompson and Cartade were the developers who wanted to build houses in Hope Gardens.

Foiled in their bid to deface this national treasure, Thompson and Cartade were apparently given, free of cost, land in Long Mountain, Wareika Hill, to build a monstrous gated development which is causing problems for its neighbours in addition to destroying a world-important biodiversity space and the archaeological remains of pre-Colombian aboriginal settlements.

The UDC, known to some of us as the Universal Devastation Consortium, has become a private enterprise style property developer, as well as being itself a local planning authority, answerable to no one but itself.

The UDC is on the board of the new Town and Country Planning Authority, (TCPA) and the chairperson of this authority is the chairman of the Petroleum Corporation of jamaica, an organisation whose compliance with environmental regulations has not been noteworthy.

Most of the other members are representatives of government agencies. One of the few miscreants missing is the Jamaica Bauxite Authority which has been in a sulk since it was foiled in an attempt to build a PCB incineration facility here some years ago.

This of course means that with its TCPA is in a position, like Judge Alito, to give carte blanche to whichever tyrant is in office. The government, despite theoretically being bound by the Natural Resources Conservation Authority law, will, like Lola, get what it wants.

The MH&RH P J Patterson, who glides by giving the impression that 'him can't mash ants' as we say in Jamaica, will leave a legacy of official irresponsibility and unaccountability, public frustration and anger. In his svelte, almost invisible progress through Jamaica's recent history, our MH&RH has mashed many ants, not to speak of assorted iguanas, birds, plants and rare and endangered species of all genera, as well as the rights of his constituents.

His most egregious and visible attempt to suppress our rights was his denunciation of the Optional Protocol on Civil and Political Rights, annexed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He tried, but failed to remove Jamaica from the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, because he wanted to dispatch convicted murderers more expeditiously.

His Universal Devastation Consortium, aided and abetted by the National Environmental Protection Agency (successor to the NRCA) and the Town & Country Planning Authority, has mashed up a sizable piece of the natural heritage in Pear Tree River, St Ann, to build hotels which will be destroyed by the next tsunami to hit Jamaica. The UDC is merrily on its way to annexing important public beaches around the island to sell - for whose profit? - to similar misconceived heavy metal developers.

It is a record of which Herman Goering could be proud. But that isn't all. His Ministry of Water, once headed by Dr Karl Blythe, blithely undertook planning to privatise Jamaica's water supplies and at least two of these are already privatised - for what consideration, no one knows.

In the meantime, the National Water Commission has disconnected water supplies from people who have paid their bills but have the misfortune to live in areas in which other people do not. Ms Sharon Hay Webster, MP for the area, defended the NWC's action saying, "I don't think people understand that provision of water is a service and if we make sure that people understand that then appropriate standards in the community will be maintained."

The NWC used to say that "Water is Life", now it claims to have the competence to pull that plug. Ms Hay Webster did not say how the government was helping to maintain standards in communities abandoned to the dons and 'area leaders' and which get minimal services for the horrendous taxes they pay via GCT.

The issue also raises the human rights issue of "collective punishment" forbidden under a host of Declarations and Conventions.

The same malign inattention to planning and community welfare is apparent in the Shaw Park area of Ocho Rios, where the state and private enterprise are profiting hugely from tourism, but have made minimal arrangements to house the people and families drawn there by the same industry. The government's question must be: What right have they to share in the wealth?

As the prime minister moves ever excruciatingly slowly towards demitting office, he must look back on a record strewn with blasted hopes and wasted popular delusions about the meaning of government. The windfall from Venezuela's generous PetroCaribe arrangements will not go to community development, as was intended, but to saving the bacon of the private developers of the misbegotten Doomsday Highway, otherwise known as the Millennium Highway.

This manic scheme has already had severe environmental effects and threatens even more dangerous disasters. Parts of the highway are, in my unlettered opinion, likely to fail in the same way the dykes (levees) in New Orleans failed, because of the underlying soil conditions.

The underlying soil conditions are making life miserable for the hundreds of thousands dumped at Portmore and Greater Portmore, partly because 30 years ago the NRCA insisted that if more houses were to be built in those areas, they should be properly reinforced against liquefaction due to earthquakes.

The foundations of these settlements, built on top of unconsolidated alluvium, sand and organic detritus may now ensure that the houses do not sink during liquefaction, but provide no guarantee that they will be habitable afterwards; could you live in the Giddy House at Port Royal, with floors sloping every which way?

Additionally, the foundations make it impossible to grow trees in Greater Portmore. Most plant roots simply cannot penetrate the baselines, and if they did, the water they would reach would be brackish anyway.

But Portmore - even measured against the Doomsday Highway, is a greater enormity than any other legacy of the MH&RH. The reason is simple and I personally, warned the government about it nearly 30 years ago, because I had read the Stanley Report on the conditions at Portmore.

The Stanley Report, my copy of which was 'borrowed' from me 14 years ago by a top government adviser - would tell them if any cared to read, that the highest point is Portmore is the gas station at Independence City, which is a majestic 18 feet - six meters - above sea level.

What I warned about then, in my capacity as chairman of the NRCA, was that sea surge from a Category Three hurricane would be at least 20 feet (nearly seven metres) high and with over-topping waves of at least 11 feet (two metres) would drown every house in the Portmore development.

That is why, when Hurricane Allen appeared headed for Portmore in 1980, Richard Thelwell, Franklin McDonald and I dragooned Prime Minister Manley to get him to urge the people of Portmore to get out fast. With his speech, and my effectively capturing the JBC that night, we moved nearly half the population out of harm's way, several hours before we learned that the hurricane had changed course.

As you may imagine, my own personal involvement in and knowledge of these matters does not allow me to be quiet or to ignore the delinquencies of Mr Patterson and his inner circle. They read not, neither do they think and, like the Bourbons of France, they forget nothing and learn nothing.

Despite his initial assurances, the mild-mannered man who is 'just like any other ordinary Jamaican' is the most autocratic governor we have had since Sir Arthur Richard was the officially designated British dictator/governor of this island 60 years ago.

He has taken instruction from the new colonial authorities at the World Bank and the IMF, with the result that Jamaica's education system is a mess, our economics are worse, and the crime rate is among the most horrendous in the world.

Our private sector has fed well at Mr Patterson's table, having been enriched beyond the wildest dreams of any financial monomaniac in the last decade and a half. They have been encouraged to bet against Jamaica, knowing that the Government will always raise interest rates whenever they claim to have lost confidence in Jamaica and by this simple stratagem, have guaranteed for themselves a totally loss-less version of capitalism, risk-free and unaccountable.

And having done that, many still want to avoid the picayune ground rent they pay as income taxes; they want the poorest to pay even more via the poll tax misnamed the General Consumption Tax which weighs disproportionately on them.

We now export, either to the International Financial Institutions or to foreign banks and numbered bank accounts in Cayman and elsewhere, more than 60 cents of every dollar collected as tax in jamaica. As in the days of Henry Morgan and Thomas Modyford, money is Jamaica's chiefest export.

Meanwhile, at the University, lecturers are faced with very bright young people who can't speak English and haven't read a book in their entire lives. But we have exacted GCT on books and magazines.

Mr Patterson wants to protect his legacy by leaving it in the hands of one or other of his closest associates, the three doctors - Phillips, Davies or Blythe. He desires, above all, that he should not be succeeded by Portia Simpson, the only one of his ministers who listens to the people and who, unlike the rest, is a woman and a product of the working class.

That wish is something I have dedicated myself to frustrating, with everything in my power. I love Jamaica too much to want Mr Patterson to have his way again. Above all, it is long past time for the people of this country to be taken into account. The alternative is, as far as I can see, is more frustration, more conflict and ultimately, disaster.

If you don't believe me, read about Slipe, a peaceful village in the middle of the Great Morass, read about Brown's Town, a peaceful village in the St Ann hills, read about what happens daily in Jamaican communities. Then, tell me I am wrong.

15 January 2006

The Artful Dodger

Common Sense
John Maxwell

My friend, Queen's Counsel Vivian Blake, was a man of unimpeachable integrity, as well as a great lawyer, one of the very greatest. A few years before he died, he told me a joke about his own profession.

Three men, he said, were in line for the chief executive's job at a certain company and the selection board was having a difficult time deciding between them. Finally, the chairman convinced the board to leave the selection to him.

He called in the first candidate, an engineer, bluff and straightforward.

How much is two and two? the chairman asked.

"Why!" said the engineer, "Two and two is four. Any fool knows that!"

The chairman called in the second candidate, an accountant, neat and precise.

"How much is two and two?"

"It depends on whether they are side by side, in which case it is 22, or if they are to be added, in which case it is four."

The third candidate was a lawyer, formal and correct

When he was asked the same question as the others he hesitated, looked carefully round the room, then went to the windows, drew the curtains, made sure the doors were locked and, satisfied that all was secure, asked the chairman: "How much do you want it to be?"

Scalia than Thou

The selection of a new justice for the US Supreme court may seem miles away from Jamaica and our concerns. In reality, it is very important to us. The US Founding Fathers promised that the US would pay a decent respect to the opinions of other nations, to the concerns of the rest of the world.

President Bush's latest nominee to the US Supreme Court, Judge Samuel Alito, has dismissed the rest of the world as of no account. In this, he was going against years of precedent in which the courts of the world, including the US, increasingly look at decisions in other jurisdictions for guidance in deciding difficult or novel questions.

The President of the United States has made it abundantly clear that what happens outside the United States is of no concern to him unless he believes it involves the security interests of the United States. Those interests can be broadly interpreted, as for instance, in the American kidnapping of Aristide from Haiti or the invasion of Iraq.

And the US secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, has made it plain that there is one law for the US and another for the rest of the world. In a speech two days ago, she complained about the offensive behaviour of the Iranian president, who, she said, has been openly confronting the international system since his inauguration. He is clearly not entitled to follow the example of Mr Bush.

And Mr Bush and his minions are quietly closing the curtains and locking the doors against the intrusion of the real world. The appointment of Judge Alito to the Supreme Court is another and decisive move to clothe the president of the United States in an impunity which will protect him against foreign and domestic criticism.

He will be able to order torture, domestic espionage and whatever else he chooses, backed by a Supreme Court which will soon be even Scalia than it has been. The only hope for us is that Judge Alito's finicky nature will put Clarence Thomas in his proper place and provoke him to rebel. Except that Clarence may prove even more Step'n Fetchit than Uncle Tom.

The Senate Judiciary Committee attempted to elicit Mr Alito's views on a variety of subjects, to get a feel of the man they were asked to appoint to a lifetime job as one of the nine supreme arbiters of the Laws of the United States, and increasingly, of the laws governing the planet.

Mr Alito did to the senators what the senators might have thought about doing to him. He filibustered them into impotent frustration. A most meticulous man, who can quote obscure precedents off the top of his head, he could not remember simple facts.

One of them was why he had thought, 20 years ago, that he might gain preferment by mentioning on a job application that he had been a member of a racist, misogynist and activist student 'eating club' at Princeton University. This meticulous man, who can probably remember the last five occasions on which he belched, somehow overlooked his promise to recuse himself from any case involving the mutual fund (unit trust) in which his millions are invested.

Yet, in his sedulous campaign to cover his tracks, Mr Alito did provide some important clues to his probable behaviour of the new right-wing majority on the Supreme Court.

The New York Times, not exactly a fire breathing liberal hangout, said on Thursday:
"Some commentators are complaining that Judge Samuel Alito Jr's confirmation hearings have not been exciting, but they must not have been paying attention. We learned that Judge Alito had once declared that Judge Robert Bork - whose Supreme Court nomination was defeated because of his legal extremism- 'was one of the most outstanding nominees' of the 20th century.

We heard Judge Alito refuse to call Roe v Wade 'settled law,' as Chief Justice John Roberts did at his confirmation hearings. And we learned that Judge Alito subscribes to troubling views about presidential power.

"Those are just a few of the quiet bombshells that have dropped. In his deadpan bureaucrat's voice, Judge Alito has said some truly disturbing things about his view of the law. In three days of testimony, he has given the American people reasons to be worried - and senators reasons to oppose his nomination."
The NYT then goes on to detail serious shortcomings it has detected in Judge Alito's judicial make-up, among them:
  • "Evidence of extremism" in his unqualified praise for Robert Bork, an extreme right-winger who was rejected by the Senate when he was nominated for the Supreme Court in the 80s.
  • "Opposition to Roe v Wade" - the landmark case giving American women the right to abortions.
  • "Support for an Imperial presidency". By backing an extremist concept known as the "unitary presidency", Alito supports almost unlimited power for the president, superseding the idea of checks and balances.
  • Insensitivity to ordinary Americans' rights.
    Professor Martin Garbus says "Alito's muffled views on race and gender, two of the most important issues facing the country, are pernicious. Alito does not attack women or African-Americans directly. He just refuses to believe their testimony."

    In relation to a specific case alleging discrimination, Garbus says: "Alito wanted to use Barbara Sheridan's case to do more. He wanted to change the burden of proof in Civil Rights discrimination cases - make the employee prove racial, gender or age discrimination rather than placing the burden on the company to prove they had a valid reason for firing her. That seemingly small procedural change would reverse the result in well over 90% of discrimination suits."
  • Doubts about the nominee's honesty. The Times is concerned about his evasions on his membership of that notorious Princeton club and his evasions about his recusal avoidance in the mutual fund issue. The New York Times is disturbed by all this and says, "The debate over Judge Alito is generally presented as one between Republicans and Democrats.

    But his testimony should trouble moderate Republicans, especially those who favour abortion rights or are concerned about presidential excesses. The hearings may be short on fireworks, but they have produced, through Judge Alito's words, an array of reasons to be concerned about this nomination. They do indeed trouble moderate Republicans and others."
The National Association of Women Lawyers finds Alito unqualified to be on the Supreme Court because of his known and explicit hostility to women's rights:
"NAWL's rating of not qualified from a women's rights perspective is the result of its evaluation of Judge Alito's writings, including his judicial record.

On those women's rights issues that he has addressed, Judge Alito has shown a disinclination to protect or advance women's rights. Our concern also recognizes that Judge Alito will be replacing Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who has been a decisive vote in a number of cases involving the rights of women and laws that have a special impact on women.

Judge Alito's jurisprudence in the area of women's rights has not been restrained, as some have characterised his general judicial approach; rather, he has too often engaged in strained legal reasoning to effect a narrowing of women's rights beyond the intent of statutes and precedent."
By filibustering the committee, Judge Alito has managed to slip under the fence and seems now likely to be appointed to the Supreme Court.

Part of the problem is that the Senate cannot compel the people before it to answer their questions. Another is that the Republicans are breeding a cadre of right-wing apparatchiks who are careful to cover their tracks so that they can indeed slip under the radar and under the fence.

The scenario reminds me of a novel from the 70s -The Boys from Brazil, in which effectively, the notorious Nazi experimenter Dr Mengele, managed to clone a number of little Hitler's in seclusion in Brazil, from where they would be let loose upon an unsuspecting world to inaugurate the Fourth Reich worldwide.

A coup by any other name

One of the more poignant moments in the hearings came close to the beginning, when Senator Patrick Leahy, himself the progeny of immigrants, asked Alito how could he, with his immigrant background, allow himself to be associated with the neo-Nazis of the Princeton undergraduate eating club. As in most other questions, there was no real answer.

When W E B duBois, a century ago, prophesied that the problem of the twentieth century would be the problem of the colour line, he was a hundred years too early.

The problems of lynching and discrimination, of segregation and an apartheid culture were more or less blown away during the twentieth century, although huge elements remain as the prison population of the United States and the economic and electoral disfranchisement of blacks bears witness.

But there was a much more subtle danger lurking beneath all that and it came from an area duBois would never have suspected. It came out of the new American racist fundamentalism (best expressed by the Mormons) combined with the dream of deliverance nurtured by immigrants fleeing persecution or economic distress in Europe, mixed with the myth that wealth was there for the taking ("Go West, young man") and the the nostrums of Horatio Alger plus the preachments of Ayn Rand- "selfishness is the only virtue".

Mr Bush's recommendation that Creationism be taught in schools is simply another excuse to provide another pseudo-scientific justification for Mormon-style biblically 'justifiable' racism.

The world would be perfect if only it were left to the Chosen People, and the German ethnic minority - until quite recently the largest in the US - has historically been more than simply sympathetic to the doctrines of Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels & Co.

It was not an accident that these doctrines were sympathetically embraced by American capitalists, including Henry Ford and President Bush's grandfather, Senator Prescott Bush.

The ties of American and German capitalism were weakened but not broken by the second world war. In time, even the Jews of the United States, mainly central Europeans themselves, began to be seduced by these new gospels. Alan Greenspan keeps Ayn Rand by his bedside and reads a text from it every night before he goes to sleep. The neocons, Jews and Gentiles alike, are trapped in the same hysterical myth.

This noxious mix came to a somewhat premature flowering in Murray and Herrnstein's "Bell Curve" in which paradise was a gated white capitalist world, secure from assault by blacks and other 'races' without the law, pullulating in their indigent misery - without hope of posterity or prosperity.

It is an ideal well expressed by one of my correspondents two weeks ago. He said:
"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 UN from all US 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.

A D Buck"
My reply to him was succinct: "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."

The problem is, of course, that the world cannot get rid of the Alitos and their ilk by sarcasm.

In his opening statement, Senator Patrick Leahy said that he would be asking questions to ensure that the American people got a judge worthy of the Supreme Court. "That means knowing more about Samuel Alito's work in the government and knowing more about his views. I will, as the judge knows, ask about the disturbing memorandum he wrote to become a political appointee in the Meese Justice Department. In that, he professed concern with the fundamental principle of one person, one vote, a principle of the equality that's the bedrock of our laws."

He got no answer to that question nor to any other.

08 January 2006

Justice not Blind, but Dumb

Common Sense
John Maxwell

I have no confidence in the Jamaican machinery of justice. I have no confidence in the Jamaica Constabulary whose job it is to enforce the law and maintain order.

I have no confidence in the court system, which is meant to deliver justice equally to all: to the rich and poor, equally to the ordinary citizen and to the officers and agents of the state. I have no confidence in the politicians and other deputies of the public interest.

I have no confidence in my own profession of journalism; no confidence that we will unhesitatingly and consistently defend the public interest, no matter how powerful the forces against us.

I am confident that my views reflect the views of a majority of Jamaicans, rich and poor.

The fact that we have no confidence in the systems does not mean that we have no confidence in most of the individual people who make up these systems. I believe that the systems have been corrupted over time and that they have no present intention of correcting themselves.

I am certain, from my conversations with thousands of people, that most Jamaicans believe that justice in Jamaica is a kind of lottery and not a fair one. It is a lottery in which the dice are loaded against the ordinary citizen, against the poor, the unfashionable, the deviant and the dissenter, against all those who are unwilling - or more likely - unable to try to corrupt the system further in order to achieve due process and equity. Some of us have been saying these things for years, and the Press, generally, has ignored us.

Such critiques do not count in the general public discourse. People who rock the boat obviously mean to overturn it and drown everybody in it.

The Police

The police have been dysfunctional ever since their foundation. The Jamaica Constabulary was formed after the 1865 rebellion to replace militias left over from slavery.

These militias were manned by the descendants of the white slavemasters and their servants whose job it was to defend slavery and later, the rights of the propertied classes. The constabulary was founded to give a human face to the rules of the oppressors. Colonialism was supposed to be a benign dictatorship. It was a dictatorship all right, but never benign.

If you have enough money you can still hire policemen - special constables - to do your bidding. And they come complete with firearms, and as ferocious as Dobermans.

The police control the bases of the courts systems, deciding when they will appear to give evidence and when they can't be bothered, without penalty and at great expense and discomfiture to the ordinary citizen.

The police still control the jury system, although in the 70s the system was supposedly reformed to guarantee fairness. Summonses to jury duty are still controlled by the police who can therefore foil the democracy of the electoral rolls from which jurors are supposedly randomly selected.

The police have, so it is said, been de-politicised and democratised, but all that process has done is to allow an evil 'old boy' network to develop in the police force, against democracy, against the interest of anyone except the mid-level controllers of discipline within the police force itself. The police force is against the idea of raising its general educational and cultural level. In the JCF, the law of Buggin's turn is firmly entrenched.

Quality is secondary to seniority and cronyism.Though there is, I believe, a majority of good people within the force, a perverted esprit de corps silences dissent and perverts the public interest.
The futility of the JCF is best demonstrated by one simple statistic.
According to the JCF itself, the police are now 'clearing up' just over one third of crimes reported to them, and one suspects in the case of murder that the fraction cleared up, even taking into account all those newly-wanted-men shot dead, is probably less than one in five.

There were nearly 1,500 murders in 2004. If the police 'cleared up' even one fifth (20%) of those without killing the perpetrator, we should expect that there would have been 300 murder trials more or less, in that year. Since 80% of the murders occurred in the Kingston metropolitan Area, we should be seeing nearly 250 murder trials annually in the Home Circuit Court, or five every week.

I would like to ask the Commissioner of Police, the Chief Justice and the Director of Public Prosecutions to tell us exactly how many murder trials there were in the Home Circuit Court last year? I doubt that any of them knows.

The whole world knows, however, that the major deterrent to any crime is the probablity of being caught. If we were sure that our sins shall find us out, few of us would ever embark on any kind of transgression. It is the threat of being caught that deters, not the punishment. The Jamaican police believe, against all evidence, however, that nothing deters as effectively as the threat of a policeman's bullet.

They are obviously, catastrophically wrong, but they will not learn.
It was reported last week that peace broke out almost as soon as the police established a presence in Arnett Gardens/Jones Town. Did that surprise you?

For those of us who have been saying that the state has abandoned the poor, it was no surprise.

If a security vacuum exists, somebody will fill it, and those somebodies are not trained to be policemen, they depend on traditional slave-era violence, the fundamentalist rubrtic that if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out. Unfortunately for those in the ghetto, it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish the bad gunmen from the 'good'.

And, As the ghetto becomes increasingly blind, so does the rest of the society, who are perfectly content to suggest that the police can do no wrong even when they kill a few innocents in protection of the higher economic and societal powers.
We need a new police force.

The Courts

The court system is flawed, flawed to the point almost of breakdown. The judges are generally recruited from the ranks of prosecutors, who regard judgeships as the society's reward for their years of thankless labour in the courts offices and the offices of the Duirector of Public Prosecutions.

The judges are obviously, generally biased towards the prosecution, unless it is a policeman or a rich person who is before the court. Apart from that, there are not enough trained judges or other court personnel, so cases take an eternity for resolution adding to public frustration and anger and to Injustice.

Mr Kent Pantry, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), obviously feels, like me, that justice was not done in the Reneto Adams/Beckford Kraal murder case.

In what I regard as a most unwise and uncharitable speech before the Kingston Rotary Club, Mr Pantry effectively claimed that murder was committed at Beckford Kraal.

He suggested strongly that the prosecution had proved its case by proving the following points:
  • That [at least] one person was undoubtedly killed AFTER the police had control of the crime scene;
  • That a firearm had been planted by the police
  • That the dead people were shot by guns fired inside the room rather than from outside;
  • That the wounds of the deceased contradicted the unsworn allegation of a 'shoot-out" and disclosed, instead, "controlled" [murderous] shooting
Mr Pantry said there was other unchallenged evidence presented by the prosecution - in spite of which the jury found the accused not guilty.

My questions to Mr Pantry are simple:

Why, when it was known that the defence was being funded to the tune of millions by the Crown, did the Crown not ask for funds to brief leading counsel, QCs - to help present its case? Was it possible that this gave a signal to the jury that the Crown was not serious?

It is known that the defence seemed to have a free hand with public money and that other leading counsel were approached for the defence team, but refused to join the Adams bandwaggon - forswearing millions in fees. Why didn't the prosecution call such eminent counsel to its assistance? Isn't that what QCs are for?

And why did not Mr Pantry's office take the available steps to bring Danhai Williams - a crucial material witness for the prosecution - to testify about the planted gun? He could legitimately have been arrested and brought to court.

In regard to Mr Pantry's dispute with Dr Carolyn Gomes, head of Jamaicans for Justice, I have to say that I believe Dr Gomes and I do not believe Mr Pantry. I believe that the DPP could have done much more to bring a prosecution in the case of Michael Gayle (among several others) and that J4J should not have had to seek justice outside the jurisdiction.

The Jamaican "State Parties" have over decades, been notoriously delinquent in cases brought before the UN Human Rights Commission and the Inter American Commission for Human Rights.

When those ineffable Queen's Counsel, Messrs Patterson and K D Knight decided to withdraw from all international Human Rights jurisdictions several years ago I lambasted them, because it seemed to me that they were, contrary to their solemn political undertakings, reducing the chances of Jamaicans enjoying Universal Human Rights.

Patterson and Knight belatedly discovered that they couldn't withdraw from the IACHR without withdrawing from the Organisation of American States and hurriedly abandoned their inexcusable and utterly despicable positions. But they still withdrew from the UN's Optional Protocol on Civil and Political Rights - an act which should have revealed to the world their, true character.

When the DPPs office was established in 1962, at independence, it was protected from political partisanship on the ground that it was too important a function to be left to the vagaries of political weather. That now seems to me a mistake and I am now feel that the American system of electing prosecutors has a great deal to recommend it.

The protection of the DPP from political harrassment appears to have produced a sentiment that the DPP has no need to take public opinion into account. He thus becomes the sole judge of what may or may not be in the public interest. And this of course, can provoke the sort of bad tempered disputation between Mr Pantry and those of us who feel that in Jamaica, as in Haiti, human rights are under attack, not least from the Government and its agents.

My final questions are for the Chief Justice.

If what Mr Pantry says is true, did you adequately emphasise to the jury the crucial importance of the points he has now raised? And if you didn't do that, why didn't you?

Justice does not belong to the judges, any more than freedom of the Press belongs to the Press. They are both the inalienable property of the people, on whose behalf, from time to time, authority is delegated in the hope that Justice will not only be done, but manifestly be seen to be done.

In the Adams trial I submit that Justice was not manifestly seen to be done and in this, I call Mr Pantry as my first witness and Danhai Williams as my second.

In the discussion of the public interest, every single jamaican has the right to be heard. It is, after all, our interest - the interest of the poor and the rich, of the magnificoes and the most humble, of those with power and those without, and especially of those who are the weakest, most friendless and most vulnerable.

Journalists, policemen, judges and other lawyers, and politicians are only temporary caretakers of that interest. If we fail to deliver, we have no business pretending that we are doing our duty and the public interest demands that we either get out of the way or be removed.

01 January 2006

The War Against Civilisation

Common Sense
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 Gunatanamo 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 prosecuition.

Or so Mr Bush's advisers believe.

Unless Mr Bush and his party seize power in the United States and remain in power for ever, 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 exstradite 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 recognised 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?