26 March 2006

The Many Eyes of God

Common Sense
John Maxwell

I have discovered that I may be more important than I thought. The story begins nearly 50 years ago, in April 1959, when I was having lunch in the restaurant of the Dupont Hotel on Dupont Circle in Washington, D C with an amiable gent named David Hoopes.

I was the only black face in the restaurant; Washington had only recently been desegregated and most of the black Americans I met still did not dare to set foot in such a place.

David Hoopes was a liberated man; he had several black acquaintances. He was my handler in a State Department-sponsored fellowship which allowed me to visit the United States for the first time, ostensibly for an internship with an American radio station. They weren't ready for somebody like me, so I got, instead, a series of appointments with bored executives of radio and TV stations in Washington, New York and Utica, in upstate New York and in Puerto Rico.

My talk with David Hoopes got round almost inevitably, to the racial situation in the United States. Having been in Washington for six weeks or so, what did I think of the chances of an America in which all men were equal? This was five years after Brown v Board of Education, not quite four years after Rosa Parkes had been arrested for refusing to give up her seat in a bus in Montgomery, Alabama and a little more than two years after the ensuing 13-month Bus boycott had forced desegregation on transportation in Alabama.

Martin Luther King, who led the boycott, was becoming better known. Ghana and Guinea had been independent for a year and blacks in Washington speculated that that was the reason the US capital had been desegregated. It would not do to have an Ambassador arrested for trying to eat in the wrong place.

Two years before, in Little Rock, Arkansas, Governor Orval Faubus was doing his damnedest to prevent the integration of the Central High School. Someone said Eisenhower could have solved the problem symbolically by taking a little black girl by the hand and leading her into the school.

Satirist Mort Sahl said he knew that Eisenhower was perfectly happy to do that, except that, according to Sahl, the president, an enthusiastic golfer, was preoccupied in trying to decide whether to use an overlapping grip when he held the little girl's hand.

Few people had heard of Senator John F Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson, the Senate majority leader, was still thought to be a simple segregationist wheeler dealer from Texas.

I was pessimistic about the chances of racial equality, integration and peace in the US. Not entirely seriously, I suggested to David Hoopes, who I liked, that perhaps the Black Muslims had the right idea: give Georgia and Alabama to the blacks for an independent nation. It wasn't that I was sympathetic to the Black Muslims, only that I didn't see white America ready to integrate or mate with Black America. I thought divorce was the obvious solution. That was probably a mistake.

I don't know why, but I've had the feeling that since that day in 1959 I became a person of interest to the American intelligence services. There were several signals later, particularly when, during the first JBC civil disobedience demo at Half-Way-Tree in 1964, one of the two CIA photographers present seemed to concentrate on documenting my every move.

Then in 1991, the US Embassy here told me they didn't know why I had been denied a visa, the instructions had come from Washington. "It is political," they said. At that time Gorbachev and Trevor Monroe were honoured guests in Washington. Michael Manley interceded with the ambassador. Surprise! I got a 10-year multiple entry visa.

No one has called me anti-Jamaican for criticising Mr Patterson. The Jamaican yuppie culture, however, abhors the slightest criticism of the president of the United States. He is the fount from which all blessings flow and who must be praised, flattered and brown-nosed whenever the occasion or the fundament presents itself.

Since I was not impressed by Mr Bush either as candidate or as appointed president, I have been sharply criticised for being anti-American, partly because I do not see Mr Bush as representing American values. He does represent Texas oil-man values, but that cannot be an avatar for the United States.

Most Americans have seen their standards of living drop since 1975 and never more precipitously or disastrously than under Mr Bush's programmes to subsidise the rich and devalue the poor.

And my contention is that a war on terror is an oxymoron, since you cannot fight an abstraction. The real meaning of the War on Terror is that Americans - like their prisoners in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Diego Garcia, Bagram and the rest of the gulag archipelago - have been subjected to a psycho-sexual campaign to reduce them - like Pauline Reage's eponymous victim "O" - to be accomplices in their own degradation, abasement and debasement. This Orwellian campaign began to lose its effectiveness when, last August, Cindy Sheehan discarded her assigned victimhood and thereby confined to barracks the inhabitant of the Summer White House in Crawford, Texas. It's been downhill all the way since then.

Here in Jamaica, I managed to collide with the interests of the US Embassy in public debates with their spokesmen before the Iraq war. I clearly have a serious problem. My mentors in journalism, including Hector Bernard, Vic Reid and Peter Abrahams were, like me, people who believed that the proper place for a journalist was between the oppressor and the oppressed and that the first loyalty is to the truth and the public interest. That means that journalists like me are unlikely to be either rich or popular.

Many of us entertain the delusion that our phones are tapped and our electronic communications intercepted. I've actually had proof of both things. A few years ago, I got an apology from a website in Israel which had been messing with my computer. I got no apology from another in Stanford, California or from a number of unused sites/servers apparently owned by respectable entities such as Cable and Wireless, Level Three Communications and America Online.

But these last few days have been more exciting than usual. My computer has been under systematic attack by two servers, one named "Black Hole" and another called "Venera" or "TNT", both owned by the Information Sciences Institute, a division of the School of Engineering at the University of Southern California.

The attacks began a few weeks ago and were apparently initiated through a piece of software called Windows Media Player, which I downloaded to view what turned out to be an X-rated video clip e-mailed to me by a friend. Then, on Wednesday, March 15 the fun started. Instead of my daily burden of 60 to 100 e-mails, I got less than half-a-dozen. Same thing next day.

And I was finding it difficult to send mail. This sort of interference has happened before, especially on the days when I am scheduled to e-mail my column to the Observer. We employ a number of artifices to make sure the column gets through. Very occasionally it doesn't.

To make a long story less boring, I have discovered that Windows Media Player (WMP) is basically spyware, and its preferences included sending back data concerning references to words like 'intifada'.

I deduce that WMP signalled its authors that my computer was an object of interest to Mr Bush's illegal wire-tapping and electronic surveillance programme and therefore introduced my computer to the supercomputers of an outfit named the Information Sciences Institute (ISI), part of the School of Engineering of the University of Southern California.

According to the ISI website: "The Artificial Intelligence Group at ISI is one of the largest in the US, and is continuing to experience rapid growth. Research here follows three main threads: intelligent agents and organisations, information/knowledge management and human language processing."

ISI research areas include knowledge-based systems, natural language processing and machine translation, intelligent agents and robotics, machine learning, virtual reality, polymorphic robots, data mining, information integration, human computer interfaces, interactive education and digital government (!)

In other words, they are perfectly equipped to act as elements of Messrs Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld's international Thought Police, mining data from computers anywhere in the world. ISI has contracts from several US agencies, including NASA and the Pentagon.

Some time ago, I wrote about Echelon, the immense, all pervasive American electronic spying initiative which, in September 2001, was being opposed by the French, among others, because it could mean that other people's trade secrets would soon become available to American entrepreneurs.

As it happened, Echelon was what I was researching on the morning of September 11, 2001, when somebody phoned me to tell me to watch television as the horrific events of that day unfolded.

I have no idea what happened to Echelon, but I doubt that the system has been dismantled since 9/11. What I don't understand is why it is thought necessary to duplicate the system. Or, perhaps ISI is a part of the Echelon system. However, it is not for mere mortals to question the actions of the Lords of the Earth.

What I do know is that particularly since March 15, two Wednesdays ago, my computer has been under systematic, incessant and relentless attack by the supercomputers of the Information Sciences Institute.

Among other things, these supercomputers have tried to change the ownership of my machine and may very well have done so temporarily, in order to instal their own preferences on it. They also attempted - or may have managed - to sign into my machine as "Root User", giving them administrative privileges over my computer.

Here is a snippet of one of my computer's logs on March 19. (I use the 24-hour clock) Mar 19 18:07:06 John-Maxwells-Computer ipfw: 35000 Deny UDP in via en1
Mar 19 18:07:06 John-Maxwells-Computer ipfw: 35000 Deny UDP in via en1

Mar 19 18:07:06 John-Maxwells-Computer ipfw: 35000 Deny UDP in via en1
Mar 19 18:07:15 John-Maxwells-Computer ipfw: Stealth Mode connection attempt to TCP from
Mar 19 18:07:19 John-Maxwells-Computer ipfw: Stealth Mode connection attempt to TCP from

These attempts are made at the rate of between 10 and 15 per minute, which means that my computer spends a great deal of its time in fending off these indefatigable interlopers. This adds up: 15 strikes per minute means nearly 22,000 strikes per day if I keep my broadband connection switched on.

If they e-mailed me and told me what they wanted from me it would save both of us lots of computer effort, but that is not the way of spies. The other possibility is, of course, not that they want something from my machine, but that they want to put something on it.

Eventually, I presume, they will break in again, because although my Mac's security systems are good, they can't, I believe, withstand the persistent electronic frottage of a government suitor.

Sooner or later the resources of the ISI and NASA, the Defence Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the CIA, must overwhelm the resources of an IBook. What happens then is anybody's guess.

I do not intend to go quietly into their baleful night. I am assembling my logs with a view to instituting legal action against those who are trespassing on my intellectual property and those who are enabling them to do so.
I don't think I need to state that I have not, am not, and have never been an associate of terrorists. I am, however, a critic of whatever seems to me to be wrong. If a man's quality is to be judged by the character of his enemies, it seems to me that I must be doing something right.

19 March 2006

A Sense of Perspective

Common Sense
John Maxwell

Three years ago, several millions of us around the world were busy marching and demonstrating our objection to the brutal war we knew was coming in Iraq. We knew then that Mr Bush's reasons for war were bogus.

Ramadi, Iraq - Residents salvage their belongings from a damaged house, reportedly after a raid by US soldiers, in Ramadi, Thursday, March 16, 2006. According to residents, US soldiers raided a house Wednesday night in an insurgent-plagued area west of Baghdad. (Photo: AP)

We knew that Iraq had not been involved in the 9/11 atrocities, we suspected that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and many of us, myself included, carried posters reading "No Blood for Oil!" I have been rereading what I said then and I found that I had nothing to regret or correct:

"We are the world, we are the people, and last weekend, for the first time in our half-million years on this planet, humanity found the means to speak with one voice. The global village had suddenly become the global family, able to make its views known, to demand that its conscience be heard.
"It was a giant step forward for the human race.

[Nothing] could have affected the message we sent to our human family councils - to the United Nations and the governments of the world: We want no tribal war; we want no blood on our hands; we want justice and commonsense; we want Peace!

The globalisation of greed has called into existence its antithesis, the globalisation of conscience - the discovery of the international public interest.

While we cannot and will not defend Saddam Hussein, we remain to be convinced that he has shown any predisposition to attack the United States or anyone else, or that he possesses, as the British and American leaders claim, weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them.

Natural justice would seem to demand a true bill of particulars, a credible list of charges, an indictment, not plagiarised theses and hearsay 'intelligence'."
That was then.

The then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US, General Shinseki, was fired out of hand for suggesting that the US needed hundreds of thousands of troops to subdue Iraq. He has nothing to correct or regret either.

The neocons, the chicken-hawks, the Sunday soldiers and armchair generals are in a somewhat different position.
Today, large majorities of people in the United States and among the American soldiers in Iraq believe that the war is a mistake. They want an end to it.

Today, Mr Bush's popularity is way down and dropping like a stone.

Most people in the world were right three years ago, and the generals and their satraps - Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz and Blair - were wrong.

But, if you will forgive me one last self-quotation, most of the rest of us knew what was wrong and what is needed to correct it: "...the mechanisms meant to organise and advance the public interest have been captured by the people we deputed to minister to our needs and to fulfil our aspirations.

They have been captured by our delegates, our boards of directors, by the managers and the politicians, and have been converted into instruments for the aggrandisement of wealth and power, instruments of oppression. Having jettisoned their responsibilities to their constituents - stakeholders, shareholders, electorates, consumers and taxpayers, they now attempt to put themselves above the law and out of reach of the public interest which they say they serve.

"The result is carnage; the wanton destruction, destitution and demoralisation of people by war, slavery, starvation, unemployment and alienation and by man-made plagues and cancers."

What we call democracy has proven to be an empty shell, a zombie's carcase, inhabited and moved by a small horde of apparatchiks who have used our apathy and our decency to hog-tie us, to demonstrate that no matter what we want we will get what they want to deliver - false promises, empty slogans and brutal actions intended to intimidate and silence.

The tide is turning; we are in slack water when it is not clear which way things will go. The gaulieters are in disarray, in as much disarray as we are, but we do not understand that we need to seize the time and to try to ensure that we are not swept away again in a boat piloted by greedy, selfish fools.

We can change governments all we want, but until we change the systems of governance to make them answerable to us, there is no hope that things will be much different five years or five decades or five centuries from now.

What is certain is that if we allow our current leaders to continue on their mad careers, we all will go over the cliff with them.

At this moment, stopping wars is important. Ending the torment of the Haitian people and the Darfur refugees is important. They are the women and children of Lifeboat Earth. But Lifeboat Earth has to be put under new pilotage because if it isn't, we will all sink with it.

The Iraq war in all its brutal fatuity is, in a way, a metaphor for our existence on Earth. Our systems of production and consumption are destroying our environment, our health, our children and civilisation itself. The things that seem so important to the Bushes and the Blairs, to the Rumsfelds and the heirs of Sharon are small potatoes to the real problems that we face.

Pieces of Antarctica the size of Palestine have broken off the ice shelves there, the glaciers of Greenland and Europe are melting at an accelerating pace and the Arctic Ocean is becoming a seaway after 11,000 years.

Bird flu is not a disease of wild birds, as most people imagine; it is the result of factory farming; the DDT and PCB found in mothers' milk all over the world is produced by the same processes. The Earth has been yoked to systems of production which survive only because there is still space in China and India for its final fatal efflorescence.

As the globalisation bird chases its own tail in search of cheaper and cheaper labour, the Chinese are beginning to go through the same disillusionments gone through by workers in New York, watching their jobs flee to Georgia, to Mexico and then to China. Sooner, rather than later, the race to the bottom will end - at the bottom, somewhere in China.

Meanwhile, the treasure spent on war could have stopped the AIDS pandemic in its tracks and could probably also have built a house for every homeless person in the world. While the Jamaican minister of finance glories in having sold 30-year, 10 per cent bonds, people in the US with bad credit records are fighting off mortgage lenders eager to hand them money at eight per cent.

'Every Day Bucket go a well...

...one day the bottom must drop out', as the Jamaican proverb has it. As I get nearer to real old age, and increasingly to understand that the world is just as crazy as I thought many, many moons ago, my one real regret is to watch the depreciation and increasing depravity of what I once called the profession of journalism.

When Slobodan Milosevic died last week, it soon became known that he had been protesting against the medical treatment he had been getting. One of the things he protested against was the fact that his blood had shown the presence of rifampicin, a drug which is used to treat tuberculosis and leprosy. Milosevic, in a letter to the Russians, complained that he couldn't understand why he was being given this drug.

A New York Times story on his death reported that "Preliminary autopsy results said he had died of a heart attack, although doctors who examined him just months ago said they did not believe he had significant heart disease. Likewise, tests done before he died detected the presence of a medicine he had not been prescribed, one that would have put him at grave risk by reducing the effectiveness of his blood pressure pills.

"Court officials and some scientists have been quick to insinuate that Mr Milosevic was secretly ingesting the extra medicine to exacerbate his medical problems, so that he could be transferred to a clinic in Moscow, where his family now lives."

According to the NYT, Mr Milosevic's blood pressure had become increasingly difficult to control and prison doctors had long suspected that he wasn't taking the medicines prescribed for him.

The NYT says: "After several weeks of sleuthing, the toxicologists recently determined that Mr Milosevic ingested the antibiotic rifampicin, which would blunt the effect of his blood pressure medicine. Dr Uges, as well as tribunal officials speaking on condition of anonymity because an investigation is under way, suggested that the antibiotic was taken intentionally, smuggled in by visitors."

It is an odd story. Mr Milosevic complains that he was wrongly being given the same drug which the responsible officials suspect that he was taking intentionally. Something doesn't make sense here, but my fellow journalists do not care.

In another story, this one from the Iraq war, the New York Times reported on March 16 that American soldiers demolished a farmhouse after encountering unexpected resistance from insurgents, killing a number of civilians in the process. "The American military said that only three civilians had been killed, while Iraqi officials said an entire 11-member family - from a 75-year-old grandmother to a six-month-old baby - had died in the attack."

The Reuters version of the story begins: "Iraqi police accused US troops of killing five children in a raid on an al-Qaeda suspect on Wednesday as ousted leader Saddam Hussein used his televised trial to call on people to "resist the invaders".

"The judge promptly cut off the cameras and barred the press." After a diversion about the court proceedings, the Reuters story returns to the raid:

"A senior Iraqi police officer said autopsies on the bodies, which included five children, showed each had been shot in the head. Community leaders said they were outraged.

"Television footage showed the bodies of five children, two men and four women in the Tikrit morgue. One infant had a gaping head wound. All the children seemed younger than school age.

"Troops were engaged by enemy fire as they approached the building," US spokesman Major Tim Keefe said. "Coalition Forces returned fire utilising both air and ground assets.

"There was one enemy killed. Two women and one child were also killed in the firefight. The building ... (was) destroyed."
Keefe said the al-Qaeda suspect had been captured."'

Reuters perseveres with the story however, and makes it clear that the US version is not accurate. Under the subhead "Horrible crime" Reuters reports that "Major Ali Ahmed of the Ishaqi police said US forces had landed on the roof and shot the 11 occupants. Colonel Farouq Hussein, said autopsies found all had been shot in the head.

"Their hands were bound and they were dumped in one room before the house was destroyed, Hussein said. "It's a clear and perfect crime without any doubt," he said.

"Ishaqi town administrator Rasheed Shather said. 'We want the Americans to give us an explanation for this horrible crime.'"
Nothing more has been heard of this grisly incident. Nothing.

The pictures of the civilian bodies, including the children, were shown on American television, at least on CNN, but no American reporter seems to have been concerned that every person in the building had been killed, except, apparently, the wanted al-Qaeda insurgent.!!!

After all that I am afraid there is no room for my own personal saga of mystery and intrigue, concerning how my e-mail appears and disappears. Cable and Wireless has no explanation.

I am, however, writing it up to ask both my Internet service provider, C&W, and my mail service provider, Mac.com, to try to explain some mysterious happenings which have dogged my communications with the outside world.

I suppose I should consider myself lucky, however. Had I been practising my profession in Iraq I would no doubt by now, be among the more than 100 journalists caught in the crossfire and murdered by accident.

One needs an appropriate sense of perspective. I promise to try harder.

12 March 2006

Shame and Scandal

Common Sense
John Maxwell

In a most important comment on the Haitian situation, Brian Concannon, head of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, points out that "February 7 was the fourth consecutive landslide victory for a presidential candidate from the Lavalas movement. In any other country, such electoral success would translate into a long period of stability, and an opportunity for the victors to implement the policies they were elected on.

Instead, for three of those terms, there have been two coup d'etats leading to five years of exile for the elected president, a nearly perpetual controversy over legislative elections and very little progress on the root causes of Haiti's misery." Source

The reason is simple; a tiny group of people, some of them Haitians, has managed to engage the money and power of a tiny but powerful minority in the United States to develop strategies which have made government - as most people understand it - impossible in Haiti.

Since the Duvalier dictatorship was brought to earth by popular protest and mass action 20 years ago, a group of mostly white people, some of them Haitians, have successfully conspired to produce in the Caribbean the most extreme ideal of the libertarian fringe - a country without a functioning government.

The Duvalier dictatorship (1957 to 1986) began as a popularly elected government led by a man with impeccable credentials - a medical doctor and sociologist who was an authority of sorts on his country's culture. Over the years, Dr Francois Duvalier forged important ties with Haitian businessmen and important figures on the racist right of US politics, which culminated in Duvalier's son's dictatorship.

Duvalier II developed into an extreme version of primitive fascism in which the state and the business community combined to terrorise and parasitise the poor people of Haiti.

The people brought down "Baby Doc" but, no matter how hard they have tried, they have not in the two decades since, succeeded in having a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

The major reasons are to be found in the so-called 'Elite' of Haiti, ideological and spiritual descendants of the French mulattos who, from time to time, made alliances with the black majority or simply bought off their leaders in order to more efficiently exercise the power once held by the French slave-owners.

The interests of the slave-owners have been paramount in Haiti for much of the time since the Haitians abolished slavery. Thomas Jefferson and other founding fathers of the United States ensured that Haiti would not provide a 'bad' example to the restive slaves of the Southern United States.

The French, formerly the colonial masters of Haiti, combined with the British and the Americans to ensure that Haiti could not export its produce and therefore not develop industrially. They simply insisted that the Haitians should pay France for their independence before they were allowed into the world markets.

The American bankers came to the "assistance" of the Haitians, lending them the money to pay off the evil French levy on their freedom. Soon enough, because of the crippled economy, Haiti ended up owing most of its GDP to American banks.

In the interest of the US Banks the American government intervened in 1915, attempting ruthlessly to obliterate any vestige of freedom from the people who had abolished slavery. The US even perfected its martial skills by dive-bombing unarmed Haitian peasants in 1919 to suppress their demand for freedom. The US left behind an army which was a bad carbon copy of the racist Marines who had occupied Haiti, and that army, allied with and at the service of corrupt politicians and the Elite, has tormented Haiti ever since and made true freedom impossible.

Jean-Bertrand Aristide, fashionably denigrated as a slum priest, a ghetto priest, was the symbol of Haitian resistance to the army/Elite repressive coalitions which succeeded Baby Doc. When the pressure of the masses finally forced free elections in 1990, Aristide came from nowhere, it seemed, to win the election with 67 per cent of the vote. He was Haiti's first freely elected president. He didn't last long. Haitian freedom was too much for the Elite and the army, and in 1992, after failing to assassinate him, they managed to overthrow his government and send him into exile.

Then ensued a saturnalia of oppressive violence, in which the targets were members and leaders of the popular movement, Lavalas, which had supported Aristide.

The conscience of US President Clinton was finally touched by the agitation of black Americans, led by Randall Robinson, president of TransAfrica, who began a fast unto death which terrified Clinton, because if Robinson had died, his support among African-Americans would have been wiped out or, at least, seriously damaged. Clinton excused his intervention by referring to the fact that in Haiti, "people were having their faces chopped off".

Aristide was restored to the presidency of Haiti in 1994, but his mandate was so circumscribed by concessions extorted from him by the Americans that his remaining time was hobbled by the lack of money, the inability to enforce law and order and by the machinations of the Elite and their American friends now operating in force in Haiti. There were 5,000 Mormons alone, on the ground.

Official and unofficial organs of the US government, including USAID, the National Endowment for Democracy and the Haiti Democracy Project, financed and organised anti-Aristide groups and political action committees made up of some who were legitimate opponents of Aristide and his movement, but also of left-over Duvalierists and easily bribed rabble rousers in all sectors of the society. During the term of Aristide's successor Preval, these groups kept up a steady drumbeat of propaganda and provocative actions which, they said, were in response to the authoritarian nature of the Lavalas governments.

Their propaganda, exemplified by a website called wehaitians.com called Aristide a criminal, the chief bandit, prehistoric, a 'bestial' dictator, a murderer, among other things, and claimed that he had made himself a millionaire. They even installed spy cameras in his Presidential residence, and published a photograph of Aristide, naked, in his bathroom. Some claimed he drank the blood of babies in some Satanic sacrament. When they weren't foaming at the mouth, presumably, they were busily enhancing democracy.

They employed the Haitian constitution, rewritten with American assistance, ambiguous and full of holes, to paralyse government action. During most of Preval's presidency, Parliament was, for all practical purposes, non-functional.

Part of the reason for this is that Haitian democracy is very new, and since so many people were illiterate, as well as unaccustomed to any kind of representative government, those who controlled the mass media and the non-governmental organisations - 'civil society' - were able to spread confusion and disunity. There were no organised parties, as we understand the word. The results of those campaigns continue to bedevil Haitian politics to this day.

In the latest presidential elections, the Elite and their American tutors made it as difficult as possible for the ordinary Haitian to make his voice and will heard and understood. Their leaders were murdered or jailed. The murderers and thugs of the Duvalier and post-Duvalier regimes were brought back into play. The army, disbanded by Aristide, was resurrected, an undisciplined gang of cutthroats who are in fact, mercenaries employed by the Elite.

If they were not enough, the American-Canadian-French coalition to destabliise Haiti brought in Kofi Annan and the United Nations Security Council, which established a so-called peace-keeping force whose function seemed to be to eliminate the grassroots leaders of Lavalas on the pretext of restoring law and order by killing gang leaders.

We in Jamaica know that this doesn't work. We also know that when Europeans of high rank come to our countries, they tend to talk mostly to other Europeans or to people who look most like Europeans.

MINUSTAH is not recorded as having any dealings with leaders of Lavalas, the majority of Haitians. They did converse with the light-skinned Elite, who, of course, must be witnesses of truth because they look like witnesses of truth. One such consultation had an unfortunate consequence. The newly appointed head of MINUSTAH, a Brazilian general, killed himself after a conversation with leaders of the Elite.

"After having assumed command of the UN military mission less then four months ago, the body of Brazilian officer Lt Gen Urano Teixeira da Matta Bacellar was found sprawled out on the balcony of the Hotel Montana, the apparent victim of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. According to several sources in the Haitian press, Bacellar had participated in a tense meeting with the president of Haiti's Chamber of Commerce, Dr Reginald Boulos, and Group 184 leader Andy Apaid the night before. Source

In May last year, in a meeting between the business community and Haiti's Chief of Police Leon Charles, Boulos demanded that the US-installed government of Gerard Latortue allow the business community to form their own private security firms and arm them with automatic weapons. This clearly was a demand for the Elite to be given licence to go hunting "chimères" and "Bandits" as the Elite describe Lavalas grass roots leaders.

After the recent election, Boulos, described by the Associated Press as 'one of Aristide's most ardent foes', said the private sector is "prepared to support and to unite behind the president . . . whoever it is, provided the international and national observers sanction this election as a fair one". Before the votes were fully counted, the campaign began to label the elections as "flawed".

This despite the incontrovertible fact that Preval got four times as many votes as his nearest rivals, even if the votes dumped and not counted are ignored. And this despite the fact that ordinary campaigning was impossible.

The Elite have long experience in understanding how the claim of "flawed" elections can bring immediate help - money and materiel - from those Americans who ensured that votes for Gore were not counted in Florida six years ago and votes for Kerry in Ohio were not counted two years ago.

The real problem is not only will the Elite pretend that Preval's legitimacy is in doubt, their expensive ploughing of the electoral landscape ensures that Preval will not have a parliamentary majority to carry out the programme on which he was elected. Since the local Lavalas leaders and organisers have been murdered, jailed, driven into exile or into hiding or otherwise intimidated, no coherent electoral campaign was possible across Haiti.

By separating the parliamentary and presidential elections, the Americans and their Elite friends have ensured that there is no 'coat-tail' effect - that people voting for Preval could not simply vote also for people who were pledged to support him.

This means that if Parliament is to function, Lavalas members or those supporting Lavalas will be subject to effective vetoes by Boulos and his gang, including Andy Apaid and Charles Henri Baker, Apaid's brother-in-law who came third in the presidential elections with less than 10 per cent of the vote.
It seems clear to me that this scenario is not intended for Haiti alone. As we have seen, elements of the 1970s anti-communist campaign in Jamaica have turned up in other places, including Venezuela, Lebanon, and Ukraine.

If the new Fascist programme for neutralising the majority works as expected, we may confidently expect that it will be introduced in one form or another into other parts of Latin America and after 'Lessons Learned' sessions, in carefully selected test beds in the United States itself, complete with bogus voting.
Mr Preval has two serious handicaps. Unlike President Bush, he was clearly the choice of his people, and unlike President Bush, he has no dependable Supreme Court to bail him out of trouble.

On the other hand, Mr Apaid, the real Gauleiter of Haiti, will continue to rule from behind the scenes. As an American citizen who fraudulently obtained Haitian 'citizenship' in 1986, Mr Apaid cannot run for election. However, Apaid and his stand-in, brother-in-law Charles-Henri Baker, decisively rejected by the Haitian electorate, and Reginald Boulos, will continue to have the decisive voices in the governance of Haiti.

USAID, the National Endowment for Democracy, the International Republican Institute and the Haiti Democracy Project can be proud of the results of their Democracy Enhancement Project in Haiti. They will be invigorated for the trials ahead, including Jamaica, where they have already set up shop.

05 March 2006

Portia Faces Life

Common Sense
John Maxwell

Most people who know me are aware that I have been a partisan of Portia Simpson's for a very long time. The reason is simple: I believe that she is the only leader in the People's National Party who really understands what the PNP was founded to achieve and who realises that those original aims and objectives are not only unfulfilled, but in urgent need of fulfilment.

The PNP was always a small people's party despite the propaganda generated by Bustamante's 'dutty shu't' (dirty shirt) rabble-rousing of the 1940s which allowed Ulric Simmonds and almost every other journalistic commentator in Jamaica to label the PNP 'the intellectuals party' or the 'middle-class party' or 'the schoolteachers' party' or even the 'policeman's party'. If that were true, the PNP could never have won an election in Jamaica nor could it have become by the 1960s the natural majority party in the country.

The real point about the PNP is that it began to work to create out of the disinherited masses of Jamaica - the 'labourers', the peasantry and the unemployed, a productive and relatively prosperous community of Jamaicans united to work together for 'the good and welfare' of all. What you might call, perhaps, a 'populist' movement towards a plural society with fair shares for all and no one left out.

Populism has become a dirty word - under the influence of American fundamentalist capitalists and the Washington Consensus of international financial institutions - the IFIs. The World Bank has even paid a West Indian scholar, whose name escapes me at the moment, to write a learned disquisition about the evils of populism. I doubt, however, that any of those bandying the word about recently could provide a coherent definition of 'populism'.

Which is sad, since it is a reputedly fatal affliction from which Portia and so many others of us suffer. Writing before last week's election, in my column published last Sunday, I referred to one of the priorities I believed our next PM would have to confront. I was confident enough to refer to that person as 'she' - because I had no doubt that despite the scads of foreign and local money against her campaign, you can almost always trust the ordinary Jamaican people to do the right thing, or, as her adversaries might say, the 'Left' thing.

Fortunately for us, Portia is neither right nor left, not an ideologue, except in the more barren wastelands of American journalism. But, realistically, anyone who champions the cause of the poor must be 'Left' in one way or another.

It isn't all over, even if the fat ladies of the PNP have sung. It hasn't even started in real terms. Winning the leadership of the PNP was the easiest thing Mrs Simpson Miller will have to do for a very long time. Facing her are all kinds of expectations, not least from the most well-off in the society, who think the gravy train has got to keep running on their tracks. Realism should tell them different.

The major problems facing Portia are problems neglected by every government of Jamaica since 1980, including Michael Manley's third term. Our governments have chosen to fight irrelevant wars, on battlegrounds chosen by their opponents and with everything stacked against them. We have bought into deregulation, privatisation, liberalisation, globalisation and the continuing devaluation of the Jamaican people - and their currency.

As the financiers, loansharks and usurers would say, we are 'not competitive' and we won't be competitive until the free market has reduced us to the condition and status of Haiti and the Central African Republic.

Portia has said she wants to "make Jamaica work", and I understand from this not only that she wants to get people back to gainful employment, but that she wants Jamaica to begin to function again as a civilised, safe and peaceful community of productive and happy people.

To do this she has proposed that she will work to get the people to plan and design their future themselves, to get them to be wholly involved in the making of the significant decisions which order their lives. She says she wants to end patronage politics, the Lady Bountiful politics in which members of a distant middle-class are intermediaries between the people and the power.

What she appears to be suggesting is that the people should name their own deputies - worker delegates or shop stewards as it were - and that local government should be where the action is. We are, of course, speaking of popular empowerment - a prospect which terrifies the haut bourgeoisie in its less rational moments.

Yet, the paradox is that for all of us, and for the wealthy elite most of all, Jamaica cannot continue business as usual without an almighty explosion. Jamaica cannot continue the bleeding of its resources into foreign bank accounts. Carl Stone projected a bloody explosion if Michael Manley's PNP had not won the 1972 election. I wonder what he would say now, after 17 years of 1960s laissez faire capitalism?

Children First

So Portia will need volunteers from every class if she is going to be able to listen to the ordinary Jamaican people and help them organise themselves out of penury, misery, disease dependency and crime. I believe she will need to set up a special secretariat to organise the sampling of Jamaican public opinion, to harvest the wisdom of the people. And I also believe that if she calls on Jamaicans to help she will get an enthusiastic response from all classes.

It is my belief that the first thing that people will say is that they want safer, cleaner, more harmonious communities because without them, we cannot protect our children and nurture them so that they can fulfil their best selves - the most basic prerequisite of a civilised society.

We - the Jamaican community in Jamaica and abroad - have long understood that we must put children first. That is the reason so many of our brightest, most vigorous young people go abroad in search of a better life - for their children, even more than themselves. What we need are the facilities to do this.

We need nutrition programmes, so that mothers can be able to breastfeed their babies for at least six months, giving them a headstart on life. The World Bank on Friday, published a report on health, nutrition and population which says it is now provable that nations can add between two and three per cent to GDP simply by improving the nitrition of the poorest.

"Children are irreversibly damaged by malnutrition by age two, long before they begin primary school. Programmes begun after two can never reverse the stunting, physical and mental, that occurs in the first two years of childhood.

If mothers are going to be helped to nurture their children they will clearly need better organised, safer and healthier communities with more convenient schools and sports facilities. Much of this work can be accomplished by the people themselves, although programmes of this sort (like the "Crash Programme of the 70s) are regarded by some boobies as giveaways and handouts. If we expect people to work for nothing we should realise that they know that getting a firearm is easier and more cost-effective.

Which brings us to crime. Healthier communities means that we've got to stop burning garbage as well as to stop turning young people into garbage. I keep saying that there are Einsteins and Colin Powells cutting cane in Jamaican fields. There are Mozarts and Muhammad Alis on Death Row, as the Barnett Report on Jamaican prisons suggested 30 years ago.

Housing & Environment

For 30 years we have 'solved' our housing problem by putting people on cheap, barren and unstable land in overcrowded communities without humane facilities. There are churches, but no bars, swimming pools, playing fields and schools.

Global warming and the collateral natural hazards it brings is going to cost us millions in evacuating people ahead of hurricanes, and in rebuilding houses made uninhabitable by earthquake and flood.

Most communities know very well why people haven't built houses on seemingly attractive property; but Jamaica's mania for property development and capital gains keeps driving more and more people into 'affordable housing' in areas which are totally unsuitable for houses, like Kennedy Grove and similar government housing schemes.

We need to strengthen our environmental management and remove control from the hands of ministers and their toadies. NEPA, it seems, will approve anything in the name of "Development", destroying valuable natural habitats, wetlands, reefs and beaches - all of which are, even in the medium-term, much more valuable intrinsically than as sites for housing. We need to have binding Environmental Impact Assessment procedures so that the government can no longer build a dam across Jamaica and call it a Milennium Highway.

We need to stop the government from stealing public beaches and to make the Universal Destruction Corporation accountable to the people who must pay for its egregious mistakes. We need to ratify the SPAW Protocol of the Cartagena Convention, which would give us the muscle to protect the immeasurably precious Jamaican natural heritage against the depredations of the ignorant and the greedy.


Jamaica is a country which created fabulous wealth for Englishmen over three centuries, mostly by using windpower to grind sugar cane. The wind patterns have not changed and we might do much better to put windfarms where we now site housing developments.

In a few years it will become much too expensive for most people to own their own transport; the cost of fossil fuels will be too high. If we are to transport people across this remarkably rugged land we need more efficient public transport, and much more of it.

Wind generated electricity can drive trains as well as cable cars, an option which proved enormously profitable to Reynolds Jamaica Mines until its foreign extravagances shut it down.


Jamaica has been whoring after all kinds of fantastic developmental panaceas peddled by the United States and other wealthy countries. CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Area) is almost moribund, because the people it was originally touted to help, in Central America, have recognised it for the snare and delusion it is.

If we want to destroy the pathetic remains of our farming, we should pursue this option as we have done so assiduously and also the even more monstrous Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTTA). All that these two will bring us is more plastic garbage defacing the landscape and choking the fish. And more slave labour in "Free Zones".

We have manoeuvred ourselves into a most dangerous situation, where our food supply depends on American 'asphalt farmers' who fly their own private aircraft to inspect their property. Yet it doesn't surprise anyone that poor people and many not so poor, are seriously malnourished because they cannot afford wholesome food, subsisting on American rejects in our supermarkets and junk food and drink exported by Diabetes Inc.

Meanwhile, we have attending Jamaica, a number of tourists almost equal to our native population. It would seem reasonable that this should be our 'export market' of choice, which we should be able to supply if we were properly organised. No expensive transatlantic transportation costs.

We would save ourselves billions in foreign exchange and reduce the expensive working capital requirements of the tourist industry and of our local food merchants as well. And we would eat food that is immeasurably healthier for us, our children and our economy.

We need to start building communities around the production of food, self-supporting, caring, co-operative communities where all children would go to school, the boys would stay in school and not drop out illiterate. We need to create parks and playing fields, where the old would keep an eye on the young, where people would get to exercise their muscles and brains rather than their seduction techniques. We might have fewer unwanted children and a lot less crime.

The World Bank has estimated that reducing crime to manageable proportions could save us an amount equivalent to six per cent of our GDP. If we looked at criminals as people who have made the wrong choices or been forced into them we might save a great many lives.

As an advertisement from the '50s used to say: The life you save may be your own - if you live with consideration for your neighbours and your brothers. Jamaica's GDP hasn't increased by six per cent in one year for nearly 40 years. Add three per cent from better nourished kids- the mind boggles.

Which brings me back to Haiti. Haiti's situation is remarkably like Jamaica's, only worse. I am sure that in Haiti, as in Jamaica, there are old (probably West African) traditions like Day fe' Day, where the whole community pitched in to plough each other's fields, getting the job done faster and better.

If we were to examine some of these traditions, developed by human beings over thousands of years, because they worked, we may really be able to get not just Jamaica but Haiti and the rest of the Caribbean to work again.

We are encouraged to believe that our problems are singular and owe their genesis to some peculiar malformation of the national psyche. We need to understand that our problems resemble the problems of the disinherited of the entire planet and that until all of us are free, none of us is free.

Our next most imperative is to take up our duty of internationalist solidarity, as Cuba, even poorer than us, has demonstrated. By developing their people instead of painting buildings and building highways, the Cubans are raising the levels of living and civilisation not just for themselves, but for millions of people around the world, training doctors in Haiti, teaching illiterates in Venezuela, curing endemic disease in Africa, giving back Jamaicans their eyesight.

We can help Jamaica to work again and in doing so, help the whole world to work better. We don't need cash so much as the inspiration and the will. Which is why I believe Portia Simpson Miller, if she gets a fair chance, may transform our civilisation.

She has what it takes.