30 April 2009

far past the horde

what's made impossible and left undone

becomes the goal of those who cannot know

how fast the little tree will have to grow

to reach its proper place beneath the sun

in this hard age some tasks are never fun

but this one is for more than simple show

it will not leave us with the sort of glow

that brings the punters to us on the run

you have the magic now or so you think

since all the focus is on how you do

this simple task not on our tired fall

from what was grace but still on the last brink

of victory you may not have your due

since none of us get anything at all

a matter of choices

in all the time we take to sit and talk

not one of us has gotten up to look

at what is in the woods just past the brook


it's very simple if only we would walk

out through the gate we would not be mistook

in all the time we take to sit and talk


but then we'd miss the play of mouse and hawk

which is not written down in any book

nor see the creature hiding in her nook

in all the time we take to sit and talk

26 April 2009

lacking much regret

some other cretin gets to play the king

while i look on and take my turn to weep

some little moment and then slowly creep

out of the way to let you have your fling

laugh at the crowd ignore each tiny sting

of subtle words although the hurt goes deep

into my heart and is not soothed by sleep

yet other heroes must go in the ring

so much is read by you upon the page

in one short night beneath a lucky star

when all the symbols come together clear

not so well do things work now in this age

yet we have managed to do well so far

and may yet work our way into clean air

this sudden silence

this sudden silence comes to us as pain

no one is present who can see each turn

take note of anger watch the spirit burn


there's nothing left that we need to retain

of these old lessons yet we have to learn

this sudden silence comes to us as pain


year after year just so the sight is plain

and no old memories are left to churn

in empty hearts that do not cease to yearn

this sudden silence comes to us as pain

Half a Century of Lies

John Maxwell


"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win"
It is one of my favourite apothegms and is credited variously to Mohandas Gandhi and to a spokesman for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. Whoever said it clearly understood the nature of struggle like my illustrious colleague Fidel Castro who has now turned journalist after 50 years inventing a civilisation.
Fidel does not often lose his temper in public, but this week it was obvious he was sorely tried by the results of the Americas Summit in Port of Spain. In a piece of biting sarcasm Fidel questioned the fitness of the Organisation of American States to be the guarantor of any new and just dispensation in the Western hemisphere.
In a reflection entitled "Delirious Dreams" Fidel lets rip:
"Is the OAS perchance the guarantor of the sovereignty and integrity of the peoples of Latin America? Always!
"Did it at any point intervene in the internal affairs of any country in the hemisphere? Never!
"Is it true that it has always represented a docile instrument of the United States? Never!
"Did one single Latin American or Caribbean die on its account? Not one! Those are calumnies of Castro-Communism emanating from Cuba, a country expelled from the OAS because its government proclaimed Marxism-Leninism, a country where there was never an election, nobody votes or is elected, and in which a dictatorship reigns that has had the effrontery to confront a country as weak, defenceless and poor as the United States throughout half a century."
Even from those who claim to be least biased in the ideological contention, it is impossible to get a fair hearing for anyone but the United States. So-called journalists, like Robert Novak and Judith Miller, Wolf Blitzer, Lou Dobbs and Glenn Beck, to name only the most grotesque, have made it almost impossible for the 'average American" to discover what's happening in his own country much less the world outside.
And since the mainstream media determine what most people believe, US politicians are among the most ignorant in the world.
The Council on Hemispheric Affairs, one of the better informed think tanks in the US was constrained to comment on Fidel's reflection on the Summit:
"Fidel's latest interjection follows the almost scientific pattern of Cuban authorities of shooting t themselves in the foot at precisely the moment that meaningful dialogue appears achievable with the U.S. For Fidel to spell out restrictions to discussions with the U.S. at this early stage is premature."
The unspoken assumption is that President Obama was justified in saying that the US had shown willing, now it was Cuba's turn.
Fidel Castro is the only political figure in history of whom it can be said that he fulfilled every promise he made to his people. I am not aware of anyone else whose actions have been at all times guided by the highest principle, by a sense of justice and honour.
If you don't believe me go read his speech in his defence against the charge of treason at Santiago in October 1953.
I wrote about that speech in my column "History will Absolve Fidel" in December 2005. Among other things I said:
"Looking back at the speech today, more than fifty years later, I am struck by two things: the idealism of the aims and the fact that most of those aims have, in fact, been achieved. There have been mistakes made, many of them serious, but overall, if one compares Cuba to its nearest neighbors, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Jamaica, it is clear that Cubans enjoy a far better quality of life than citizens of the others. And in World Bank terms it is poorer than all except Haiti.…
"…The care given to the weakest and most vulnerable is extraordinary and Cuban health care is recognized as among the very best in the world. The same is true of education, and just as Cubans now have a doctor in every neighborhood (1 doctor to every 100 Cubans) they are getting university-level centers set up in every borough. And education is almost completely free."
What is most extraordinary about the Cuban achievement is that it was done while Cuba was (and is) in a state of war –declared by the United States, invaded, infiltrated by gangs of terrorists, bombed and sabotaged, its people and economy attacked by biological warfare agents, hemorrhagic dengue, thrips, tobacco mosaic and other plagues, and its leader subject to at least 637 known conspiracies to murder him.
Some of the leading terrorists against Cuba, Orlando Bosch and "Bambi' Posada Carriles are at this moment under the protection of the government of the United States. These noxious creeps were responsible for murdering Cubans abroad and in Cuba, from fishermen to diplomats, and most horrifically, the destruction of a Cubana plane with 73 people, including the young Cuban Olympic fencing team.
In addition, the US is illegally squatting on Cuban property at Guantanamo Bay and to add injury to insult has used that property as a base to attack Cuba and worse, to set up camps for the criminal denial of human rights to people accused, but never convicted of crimes against the United States.
A bizarre footnote to all this is that while providing aid and protection to known and notorious terrorists the US has imprisoned five Cubans in solitary confinement and in circumstances which constitute cruel and unusual punishment. This, despite the fact that the United States admits that the men have done nothing to injure the interests of the United States.
Meanwhile, the people responsible for killing innocent people by bombing hotels and nightclubs enjoy protected status in the US.
In January 2000, the Cuban government and people launched a lawsuit against the USA claiming $121 billion in damages for, among other thing, the killing of nearly 4,000 Cubans and the maiming of thousands more, the damage or destruction of 294 fishing boats, 78 airplanes, 135 urban and rural schools, and 63 Cuban embassies and consulates – targets of terrorism and sabotage, encouraged and financed by the United States.
Against all this, the American press demands that Cuba should open up, introduce 'democracy' and freedom of the press. It is claimed that there are dozens of prisoners of conscience, people the Cubans say are proven paid agents of the US and criminals under Cuban law.
Unlike the American prisoners at Guantanamo Bay the Cuban 'dissidents' have been charged and tried.
Of course, Fidel Castro and the Cubans do not have a case. Their claims have never been reported by the free American press. On the other hand anti-Castro apparatchiks like John Bolton, Otto Reich, Roger Noriega and Luigi Einaudi, all official representatives of the United States, have between them claimed that Cuba is preparing bio-warfare against the US, that Cuba was supplying Nicaragua with Soviet MiGS to bomb California and have helped to rescue terrorists like Bosch and Posada from the justice they deserve.
Perhaps, just to clear the air, the United States should present Cuba with its own list of grievances.
Copyright©2009 John Maxwell

25 April 2009

ariel to prospero

you want me to be free or so you say

old man magician with your leathern book

who half-way has me but must have mistook

my gratitude for some sort of dismay

you say you will not let me just betray

my anger and my frailty with a look

and yet your words are sharper than a hook

since i am not allowed to go my way

that darker one you tell me is not brave

still you must fear him since the heavy chain

is on his neck and and you lay on his head

not freedom's cap but the straw hat of slave

discounting every thought in his swift brain

as if you can dismiss that way your dread

approaching atlanta

the sight of venus chasing crescent moon

above the city tells us there's no time

for us to wait the morning bell must chime


we have to go the city wakes up soon

our only signal in this horrid clime

the sight of venus chasing crescent moon


no one is hidden now in their cocoon

this city's visible in all its grime

the one reward to justify our crime

the sight of venus chasing crescent moon

true picture this

we find that truth is not inside the frame

since what is seen is not what we were shown

and what is left is just headache and moan

your silence is a kind of purple shame

not even worthy of a single groan

we find that truth is not inside the frame

the founders told us this was all a game

but their intentions like the rose were blown

all our sad purposes still marked the known

we find that truth is not inside the frame

23 April 2009

silver dragon

a silver dragon rests on the dry lawn

marking the place beyond which we must go

to find those facts that each would have to know


simply to choose between the prince and pawn

since the bright river cannot cease its flow

a silver dragon rests on the bright lawn


catching each colour as night turns to dawn

though every movement of the foot is slow

yet steady hand will need to make the throw

a silver dragon rests on the dry lawn

a silver dragon rests on the dry lawn

marking the place beyond which we must go

to find those facts that each would have to know


simply to choose between the prince and pawn

since this bright river cannot cease its flow

a silver dragon rests on the bright lawn


catching each colour as night turns to dawn

though every movement of the foot is slow

yet steady hand will need to make the throw

a silver dragon rests on the dry lawn

where one has been

mistake the angle and things will go green

your heart will turn so many complex ways

yet nothing focuses on the unseen


a master moves his pawn to seize the queen

while rookie player looks on in a daze

mistake the angle and things will go green


with envious laughter breaking on the scene

as every eye is lost in the blue haze

yet nothing focuses on the unseen


appearance of what seems to be a clean

fracture of moments what will now amaze

mistake the angle and things will go green


into the water where the sharks convene

hungry as ever under your bright gaze

yet nothing focuses on the unseen


keeper of hopes that say still they mean

honest exposure and true wealth of days

mistake the angle and things will go green

yet nothing focuses on the unseen

19 April 2009

growing up

not here nor now we learn the final worth

of what we were and how the measure lay

implicit in the moment of first birth


when nothing mattered but the massive dearth

of justice hope and truth we all were prey

not here nor now we learn the final worth


of all the horrors turning into mirth

as means by which we could the hurt allay

implicit in the moment of first birth


as tiny brook proclaims the giant firth

so many miles and many hours away

not here nor now we learn the final worth


of secret things each resting in its berth

not to be spoken of or used in play

implicit in the moment of first birth


the naked fact that soon we must unearth

raw force that's latent in the ruddy clay

not hear nor now we learn the final worth

implicit in the moment of first birth

Canada’s Bloody Hands

John Maxwell

In my teenage years, my stepfather used to buy Colliers and the Saturday Evening Post, I bought Newsweek and occasionally TIME, and those magazines formed for a little while, my window into the modern world. I was never as credulous as my contemporaries and my faith in TIME and Newsweek began to fray with their reporting of the clash between Peron and La Prensa in Argentina. It disappeared almost entirely the first time I read a report in those magazines allegedly about Jamaica. These doubts came flooding back half a century later when I tried to find an address in Managua, Nicaragua. It went something like this: Third house on the left on the second road on the right next to the Esso gas Station on the road by the zoo.
Having read TIME I was expecting a city more advanced that Kingston. Instead I found a ramshackle Spanish Town Road-like mess in which hundreds of thousands of miserable people had contributed to the grandeur alleged in stories in the North American media.
In 1964, promised an interview with Papa Doc, I flew into Haiti, seeing the environmental divide between brown Haiti and green Santo Domingo, a line discovered anew by every foreign journalist since and attributed to Haitian poverty and desperation instead of to the rightful authors, the Americans who strip-mined Haiti's economy flat in in search of riches in the twenty years after 1915. It was smash and grab colonialism.
It bequeathed to Haiti the barebacked mountains, dried riverbeds, broken streets, pitiful water supply, grinding poverty and misery caused by a century of economic blackmail by France and the US but even now blamed on Aristide – who was actually born into these conditions and determined to change them.
It is almost guaranteed that most contemporary reports on Haiti range from seriously inaccurate to biased to outright lies. This is especially so when they speak Of the 'radical slum priest' turned President, and who 'fled amid a popular revolt". These keywords tell you that you are reading propaganda intended to continue and enhance a two hundred year old programme of defamation officially begun as a counter-attack by the nascent American Republic on the idea of universal human rights promulgated by the brand new, black republic of Haiti. That sentence does sound bizarre, doesn't it?
It appears to contradict everything you've learned about the Enlightenment, the Rights of Man and the American and French Revolutions. It was that great democrat, Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence who, In the Preamble to his original draft of the Declaration wrote:
"     We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable …" And it was he also who wrote about slavery, "We have the wolf by the ears; and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other." And finally, it was Jefferson who, seeing whites and blacks as two distinct nations whose natural relationship was one of war, believed that if slavery was abolished the blacks would rebel due to the long years of intense and cruel oppression. He anticipated racial war if free blacks and whites were not segregated into disparate countries.
SO, while Haiti supplied many if not most of the so-called French soldiers to beat back the British in the American war of Independence, when those blacks defeated Napoleon in their own country, ceasing to be French and becoming "Ayisien" – Haitian – they took on a new colour and a new menace. IF they could beat the French twice and the British and the Spaniards – a Royal Flush of 19th century imperial power – what wickedness were they not capable of?
Henri Christophe who fought for the Americans at Savannah and Yorktown, became labeled, two decades later, with a demoniac personality, a blood-sipping cannibal to be reincarnated two centuries later both as Duvalier and as the anti-Duvalier and as the Catholic Priest Aristide. It was a bonus that Jean-Bedel Bokassa dictator of the Central African Republic (CAR) was also libelously accused of cannibalism. It may have been these propaganda coincidences that persuaded the CIA, as innocent as ever, to arrange the 'extraordinary rendition' of President and Mme Aristide to the CAR, hoping no doubt, that there just might be a real cannibal in Bangui who could accept the Aristides as a 'bonne bouche' from their friends in Washington.




The new American republic felt itself threatened by Haiti, which offered freedom to anyone fleeing from slavery and oppression, and armed and provisioned Bolivar to liberate Spanish America and free the slaves. That alone provoked the idea of an embargo against the Haitians. They needed to sell their sugar to new markets, since France refused to trade with its former colony. The Americans said they would recognise Haitian independence whenever France did, giving France the opportunity for the biggest and most evil act of extortion in human history.
The enormity of the blackmail was breathtaking. France demanded that Haiti pay an indemnity of 150 million French francs – equivalent to nearly US $22 billion in 2004. The ransom was equivalent to France's entire annual budget or ten times the annual GDP of Haiti at its productive best. The French not only extracted a pound of flesh, they took an enormous volume of blood with it.
The first installment – arranged by the French – was for a French bank to lend Haiti the money. The bank deducted management fees and interest up front, so that when the installment was paid to the French it was still 6 million francs short.
The injustice of the arrangement may be further judged by the fact that France's Western design, frustrated by the loss of Haiti, meant that all the French territory below Canada became surplus to requirements. This area, known as Louisiana, was 74 times the area of Haiti, larger than the then United States itself and was bought by President Jefferson for less than half the French demanded from Haiti in Blood Money.
The major effect was the permanent economic and social distortion and stunting of Haitian life and freedom largely due to the imposition of draconian measures to repay the debt. The main measure was the so-called "Rural Code".
J. Damu, writing on the issue reported:
[According to} " Haitian First Lady Mildred Aristide's account in her book, "Child Domestic Service in Haiti and its Historical Underpinnings," the Rural Code laid the basis for the legal apartheid between rural and urban society in Haiti. With the Rural Code, the economically dominant class of merchants, government officials and military officers who lived in the cities legally established themselves as Haiti's ruling class.

"Under the Rural Code agricultural workers were chained to the land and allowed little or no opportunity to move from place to place. Socializing was made illegal after midnight, and the Haitian farmer who did not own property was obligated to sign a three-, six- or nine-year labor contract with a large property owner. The code also banned small-scale commerce, so that agricultural workers would produce crops strictly for export.
The Haitian Rural Code was all embracing, governing the lives not only of farmers but of children as well.
The Rural Code was specifically designed to regulate rural life in order to more efficiently produce export crops with which to pay the indemnity.
The taxes levied on production were also used predominantly to pay the indemnity and not to build schools nor to provide other social services to the generators of this great wealth, the peasants."

The debt was finally paid off in 1947, 122 years after its imposition.
Between independence in 1804 and Jean Bertrand Aristide's accession to office in 1990 a grand total of 32 high schools were built in Haiti. Under Aristide more than 200 were built, mostly in the countryside. When the Americans kidnapped and deported Aristide in 2004 they found quarters for the Marines by capturing Haiti's new medical school, built by Aristide and run with the help of the Cubans.
The Marines'' allies, who until a few weeks before rejoiced in the name "the Cannibal Army", destroyed all signs of cultural progress, burning down the new museum of Haitian culture and shut down the children's television.
The Canadian representative to the OAS rather gave the game away for Canada when he accompanied the American Quisling – La Tortue - on an American marine helicopter flight to the north where La Tortue and his murderous lieutenants hailed the former Cannibal Army as Freedom Fighters.
Their only role had been their usual banditry, attacking unarmed police stations in the countrtside, robbing peasants and chopping up the innocent cops – giving the American, Canadian British and French newspapers the right to write that the "radical slum-priest (and probable witch-doctor) had " fled amid a popular uprising"
This week, Canada's most popular newspaper the Toronto Star could say, in guilelesss innocence:

"Few countries have been hit harder than Haiti by the global economic slump, and by the sheer force of nature. Last year's hurricanes did $1 billion in damage. Remittances from Haitians working in the United States, Canada and France may drop by $250 million or more this year. And now foreign aid is in danger of drying up.
This adds up to a colossal challenge for President René Préval's government, which was democratically elected in 2006 after years of instability. Despite initial hopes, Haiti's 9 million people are struggling. Eight in 10 live on less than $2 a day. Now they face even worse hardship. The most desperate will turn to argile – patties made from clay, salt and margarine – to stave off hunger pangs. And that raises fears of food riots, soaring crime and instability."


There is not the slightest hint of Canada's leading and bloody role in promoting and creating those "years of instability."
Shortly after Aristide's overwhelming victory in Haiti's first democratic presidential election in 1990, the relicts of the Jim Crow Marine occupation managed to convince the Americans, first John McCain's International Republican Institute and then elements of Bill Clinton's government and various Canadian politico and officials that Haiti under Aristide was a threat to civilisation as they knew it.
Denis Paradis, a Canadian Minister, convened a coven of like-minded fascists, as I am wont to describe them– to develop a doctrine giving civilised states the right to intervene in 'failed states' – the "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine.

Paradis' coven then decided that Aristide must go, and the Canadians through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) among others, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and John McCain's International Republican Institute financed a whole panoply of Haitian francs tireurs, pimps and wannabe-presidents and face-card NGOs to support the programme of the elites which was simply to grab back from the Haitian people, the Universal Human Rights promulgated 200 years earlier for the first time on Earth by Jean Jacques Dessalines and the other illustrious fathers and mothers of the Haitian Revolution.
Sometimes innocence is not merely a sin but a bloody and unforgivable crime.

More next week.

Walk Good.

Copyright 2009 John Maxwell

15 April 2009

story in the house

from heavy silence the ancestral tale

slowly emerges not in open sound

but in hard wood that pushed out of dark ground

in the hot years when work was all travail

life turned to shit and choices all seemed stale

you could buy humans at so much per pound

no honest passion in the goods they found

gods had no words but devils all were pale

this is the age when each bill is redeemed

in honest cash straight on the barrelhead

so we were told at rising of this sun

miracles now that old folks never dreamed

an end to terrors there'd be no more dread

but now it seems the whole thing was in fun

12 April 2009

The Eighth Book of Moses

John Maxwell

Fundamentalist religion has helped deform many societies over thousands of years. It was Jesus of Nazareth who warned his disciples against the holier-than-thou, the zealots who would 'strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel'. He especially disapproved of those who advertised their sanctimonious observances by flashing their phylacteries, pretending to be holy but who were really sinks of iniquity – whited sepulchers he called them, immaculate on the outside but full of corruption.
Christianity itself, in the Spanish Inquisition and in the reign of 'Bloody Mary, became the incarnation of bigotry and of criminal wickedness as it attempted to seize control of the most intimate aspects of human life to the greater glory of Christ the King – or so it was alleged..
The death toll from Christianity and its true believers is staggering. To name only two of God's self-appointed subagents on Earth, Leopold of Belgium and Adolph Hitler, we are talking in terms of more than a hundred million human sacrifices – dedicated to a man who said that he bequeathed one commandment to humanity – "that ye love one another".
In the behaviour of the Taliban, of Al Qaeda and George Bush we have more recent examples of the inversion of the love we are told that flows from God, however described and named. Last week in Pakistan the Chief Justice was roused to fury by the news that officers of his court had colluded in the judicial flogging of a young woman on suspicion that she had had 'improper contact' with a young man.
She was lucky, I suppose, to have been in Pakistan. In Saudi Arabia and in some parts of Nigeria she was very likely to have been sentenced to be stoned to death.
The people responsible for these grotesqueries do not ever appear to be even slightly conscious of the enormity of their idiocies and of the inhuman, even bestial consequences. It is only, as in Pakistan and Afghanistan last week, when the gaze of the outside world is focused on the parochial outrage that those responsible seem to realise that their prejudices are not shared by most people and that that their ideas seem outrageous and even wicked to the rest of us.


Defining Women's Rights

Just last week the Afghan government found itself in a ton of trouble from its western sponsors. The reason, a new family law for Shiites that drastically restricted the rights of women "The husband can stop the wife from any unnecessary act" and requires wives to get the permission of their husbands before they leave the house, except in cases of emergency. In addition, the legal age of marriage for Shiite women has been lowered from 18 to 16.
Article 132 mandates that "the wife is bound to give a positive response to the sexual desires of her husband." Furthermore, if her husband is not travelling or sick, the wife is required to have sex with him at least every fourth night. The only exception is if the wife herself is ill.
The law is the ideological twin of the new Jamaican definition of women's sexual rights, lovingly if not lustfully, defining the precise parameters under which a woman is entitled to refuse sex to her husband and precisely limiting the parameters of rape within a marriage.
The Jamaican attempt to put the state into the marriage bed is just as nasty and bad-minded as the Afghan law, the only difference being in the actual definition of woman's servitude.
The Jamaican law is a determined attempt to reduce women to the status they 'enjoyed' just before slavery was abolished.
The question in my mind is whether the framers of the Afghan law had any contact, and if so, how much, with their Jamaican counterparts?
I am no lawyer, but I seriously question the jurisprudential bona fides of those who designed this new law.


The Phantom Rapist


In the first place the law attempts to reintroduce mandatory sentences, already found to be unconstitutional in respect of the 1964 so-called Rape Law. That particular piece of idiocy was stimulated by a middle-class panic over a 'sweet-smelling' so-called Phantom Rapist. This perfumed wraith was reported to have broken into several houses of the haute bourgeoisie and to have had his way with the chatelaines. These eminent ladies complained not to the police, but to their hairdressers and the result was a serious decline in the sales of after-shave and cologne.
One unfortunate young insurance salesman (Fred M) was arrested – presumably for suspicious parking – but was released without charge. His reputation was ruined and he soon left for Canada while the Phantom Rapist continued his career.
As I understand the law, new regulations are intended to codify accepted standards of behaviour and not to impose on the population the views of any particular section of the society. It would clearly be against the public interest for any sectoral interest to legislate in its own interest against the interest or generally accepted standards of the rest of society. The Taliban and the George W Bush administration, both representing minority interests, attempted and in many cases managed to subvert the general standards of their societies in favour of their own bigoted beliefs and sectoral interests.
IN THE United States, the Bush administration subverted the intent and in some cases the letter of the law by the strategic appointment of prejudiced judges and by simply rewriting administrative law to suit the interests of their patrons. That is why the US is now having to work its way back to civilisation by striking down rules, regulations and practices that allowed torture, short circuited due process and interfered with freedom of speech.
If laws are to be obeyed they must have the general approval of the community and should not strive to introduce division and conflict between citizens.
It is, for me, abhorrent that any government should attempt to arrogate to itself, the right to decide how I should behave or think – if my behaviour does not damage the interests of anyone else.
That for me means that people have an absolute right to decide who they will associate with, who they will mate or have intercourse with.
In Jamaica's homophobic society the bigots depend for their success on the fact that most people will not defend the rights of homosexuals for fear of being taken for homosexuals themselves. And in Jamaica, to be publicly identified as a homosexual is tantamount to being 'marked' for physical abuse up to and including murder.
This pervasive intimidation is a corrupt basis on which to make any decision, most of all, legislation.
Our parliament, as cowardly as the general population, is unable to speak out against the outrageous coercion and blackmail represented by the criminalisation of certain acts. Our lawmakers, anxious to pretend a non-existent evenhandedness, have proscribed buggery, whether between heterosexual or homosexual couples.
The state has no right to concern itself with private behaviour between consenting adults unless that behaviour is taken into the public arena, outraging decency and encroaching upon the rights of other people.
Likewise, it is uncivilised for the state to attempt to intervene in a woman's decisions about her own body; to introduce nonsensical, unscientific and hypocritical notions about when humanity begins cannot be an excuse except for emotionally stunted and scientific illiterates. There is obviously a point beyond which a foetus has attributes of personality but until then it is obviously a part of a woman's body and not a separate being.


Blackmail – a no-brainer


Jamaica has expressed astonishment about the level of corruption of the police force. Some of us have been trying to get people to notice, for decades. Forty years ago, in Public Opinion I said that most poor people then regarded the police as simply the largest and best organised gang of all. Forty years ago I condemned the judges because they knew of, tolerated and condoned the corruption.
So when the Gleaner, forty years late, suggests that perhaps we need a new police force, I don't laugh, I want to weep. Too much blood and too many tears have flowed under that bridge.
And what really pains me is knowing that the key to police corruption is in the very law that we are now attempting to make even more ridiculous and unenforceable. The point about the illegality of certain kinds of homosexual conduct is that it gives the police easy entree into corruption. A great many cops started on their corrupt careers by spying on and blackmailing homosexuals. It's a no-brainer.
We Jamaicans have a gift for making bad situations intolerable. Instead of dealing with the societal dissolution, inequity and illiteracy behind criminal violence what we did was to vituperate about human rights activists and then, in a supreme act of ignorant defiance, we resiled from the Optional Protocol to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a gesture hugely satisfying to Messrs Patterson and Knight and approved no doubt, by the ghosts of King Canute's courtiers.
The Afghans are under intense pressure to withdraw their misbegotten Shia family law. No doubt our 'donors' will find polite excuses to punish us for our idiotic intransigence. Perhaps, to elevate the whole issue to its proper level of importance, the government should simply incorporate the entire book of Leviticus into the Jamaican criminal code. They could then contend that anyone opposed to the new law was simply anti-God.

THAT should settle the matter.

Copyright©2009 John Maxwell

10 April 2009

tornado watch

this is no echo

spring storms in the far distance

their thunder is real

silent bird

the hummingbird with brilliant rufous throat

outside our door seeking the early flower

becomes bright marker of the clearing hour

faster than word the first inhuman vote

that's confident or that we could just quote

against such forces as would remain dour

to say that time and light will cease to glower

the world will move upon a better note

such are the themes of what was never said

in open space but still we must announce

the visitor so that when others come

they will not feel that existential dread

nor have the sense that tigers wait to pounce

as they are escorted here by the dumb

now listen very hard

this is the warning you'll not get one more

refreshing breeze turns into raging force

and little creek rages out of its course


there's wind enough to shake down any door

it won't go back in silence to its source

this is the warning you'll not get one more


we know this is a matter you abhor

the kind of thing you find wretched and coarse

we bring it to you lacking all remorse

this is the warning you'll not get one more

09 April 2009

buteo jamaicensis

brown speckled white the hawk has found his prey

beside the road and looks around with pride

he lives to hunt and soar another day


just sight of him makes northern air less grey

this happy king on campbellton roadside

brown speckled white the hawk has found his prey


just as in times of marl hole or red clay

this ruling bird with nothing here to hide

he lives to hunt and soar another day


just one more immigrant who makes his way

in colder places but still mice abide

brown speckled white the hawk has found his prey


no creature pauses to contest his sway

the turnings of the circles coincide

he lives to hunt and soar another day


you find the name i know that i can say

and all the facts that cannot be denied

brown speckled white the hawk has found his prey

he lives to hunt and soar another day

06 April 2009

disaster report



at least i know my friends are fine

the dead were others' friends not mine


so much to see upon the screen

the pain is palpable and clear

i hear the words know what they mean

the suffering comes through the air

to dwell on this seems quite obscene

while i'm at work and in my chair

their lives were wiped out clear and clean

so i say words of grief and care


at least i know my friends are fine

the dead were others' friends not mine


the hurricane was on the news

so many folk thought it was fun

to treat the poor as plain refuse

face their despair with blade and gun

pretend they had the right to choose

the easy way to flee or run

announce these were the only views

and that the time for talk was done


at least i know my friends are fine

the dead were others' friends not mine


chaos is hidden by the door

turn off the radio and you're fine

the way of good is to ignore

all painful things be struthionine

they do not touch us at the core

no matter how the angry whine

nobody keeps a final score

or lets us see the bottom line


at least i know my friends are fine

the dead were others' friends not mine

05 April 2009

another saturday passing

the morning's broken by a single chime

of postman at the door or message come

to tell us to beware of horrid crime


you'd think the passage of this clearer time

would lead to meanings with a higher sum

the morning's broken by a single chime


before we set our feet to the next climb

allowing those with faces ever glum

to tell us to beware of horrid crime


beneath the shade where matters in their prime

are not disturbed by sound of wind or drum

the morning's broken by a single chime


ignored by snails leaving their trails of slime

and much too ignorant for those who succumb

to tell us to beware of horrid crime


bewailing our appearance in loud rhyme

until their tongues and faces have turned numb

the morning's broken by a single chime

to tell us to beware of horrid crime

nine secret rhymes about oracles

i ask the oracle simply to define

the honest truth with difficulty won

coming in second is as hard to do

but the green tree has given me the word


absent the factors that came in before

we find the knowledge built into the hive

but cannot tell just what there is to fix

our vision on this well-caught bit of heaven


so much of what we say is down to fate

but raise your chin and do not ever pine

a sudden alertness

this bang and clatter signalling hard rain

must wake you up and bring you back alert

right to the point at which you would assert

the need for honour and the weight of pain

rise from the desk and not seek to constrain

all of the patterns no longer inert

since what is left must have no time to hurt

for what you seek in heart of storm is gain

no wisdom here since what is seen must die

within the gap that our small time has left

for us to speak with those who want to learn

the tiny truths that peek out of the lie

receive the gains remaining from this theft

still each of us knows what it is to yearn

The Audacity of Hopelessness

John Maxwell

It is as idle to define the problems of Haiti as problems of economic development as it is to contemplate the problems of Elisabeth Fritzl as a problem of delinquent parenting.


It will never be possible to disentangle Elisabeth Fritzl from the treachery and cruelty of an evil and incestuous father, a man willing to steal the lives and souls of his own child and his children by her, to suck the very breath of freedom, to steal the light and air to which they have title as human beings; to unleash even in those outsiders who have merely heard of these horrors the potential for an infinitely complex self-generating concatenation of Mandelbrot images of sheer terror which, if we had the capacity to pursue, would lead us down endless nights and days into a chaos of unimaginable horror.

It may be possible – with sophisticated help – for the mind of Elisabeth Fritzl to begin to repair itself and perhaps even for her children to obtain some limited version of what we call sanity. It may be possible, but not, I think in one lifetime.


Hold on tight to your screams !


Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, an otherwise excellent human being, I am sure, is among those, like the burbling boobies of the world Bank and other International Financial Agencies (IFI), who believes that what ails Haiti is simply a case of distorted economic development and that there is a simple formula to fix things. Free zone development and regular voting will be surefire cures.

The poorest country in the Western hemisphere got that way, according to an eminent gaggle of politicians and private sector experts, by native mismanagement and the incompetence of the black Haitian population and its leaders.
Among these are such as Colin Powell, Condolleezza Rice and their advisers including the toxic spawn of Jesse Helms – Roger Noriega and Otto Reich and the International Republican Institute and before them were Thomas Jefferson who defined blacks as three fifths human and William Jennings Bryan, three times Democratic party candidate for the Presidency of The USA and who, as Secretary of State, was astonished at the pretensions of the Haitians who he saw as a bunch of "Niggers speaking French."

There are also some people who believe that women who are raped are at least partially responsible for their own misfortunes and there are, I am sure, people who will tell you with absolute certainty, that Elisabeth Fritzl must have in some way contributed to her father's delinquency. Haiti too, conspired in its own catastrophe.
It takes two to tango, they will tell you.


Hold on tight to your screams !


In the New York Times last week Ban Ki Moon:
"Yes, Haiti remains desperately poor. It has yet to fully recover from last year's devastating hurricanes, not to mention decades of malign dictatorship. Yet we can report what President René Préval told us: "Haiti is at a turning point." It can slide backwards into darkness and deeper misery, sacrificing all the country's progress and hard work with the United Nations and international community. Or it can break out, into the light toward a brighter and more hopeful future."


Last August the Secretary General was full of hope:
"The time has come to rebuild the institutions that have been destroyed by years of neglect, corruption and violence, to strengthen them so that the State is able to deliver the services that the people need."

In his latest visit Ban said "It is easy to visit Haiti and see only poverty. But when I visited recently with former President Bill Clinton, we saw opportunity.
"My special adviser on Haiti, the Oxford University development economist Paul Collier, has worked with the government to devise a strategy. It identifies specific steps and policies to create those jobs, with particular emphasis on the country's traditional strengths — the garment industry and agriculture.…creating the sort of industrial "clusters" that have come to dominate global trade dramatically expanding the country's export zones, so that a new generation of textile firms can invest and do business in one place. By creating a market sufficiently large to generate economies of scale, they can drive down production costs and, once a certain threshold is crossed, spark potentially explosive growth constrained only by the size of the labor pool. That may seem ambitious in a country of 9 million people, where 80 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day and half of the food is imported. "

Can anyone really be so ill-informed? Can anyone believe that a country of 9 million poverty stricken people living on less than $2 a day and importing half their food can generate thriving markets for anything but subsistence production?
Ban Ki Moon is our new Dr Pangloss: All is for the best in thus best of all possible worlds.


Hold on tight to your screams !


"It is easy to visit `Haiti and to see only poverty" It probably isn't much harder if you live there and like a parish priest named Jean Bertrand Aristide, become inflamed with the idea that you and your people are going to change things, to "build utopia on a dungheap'.

The only problem is that there are people who want Haitians to remain in the misery they have been made to embrace.

The facile American journalistic exlanations for Haiti have always been lies, launched by no less than Thomas `jefferson and sedulously cultivated by generations of racists intent on keeping Haitians in their proper place.

The Haitians were always presumptuous: two hundred years ago they fought above their weight and won, abolishing slavery, destroying France's ambitions in the New World, doubling the size of the USA and above all, being the first nation anywhere to enshrine the rights of man, woman and child, the fundamental `universal rights of human beings, in their constitution.

The almost contemparaneous American and French revolutions did not do what the Haitians did. Slavery persisted in France and in the US, and, thirty years ago the US gave up trying for an Equal Rights Amendment a few years after narrowly forcing through a voting rights act to give all Americans title to their democracy.
The Haitians were a serious threat to American slave based capitalism, promising freedom to any person who set foot in Haiti, naming a main street after John Brown and arming Simon Bolivar to go liberate latin America

Like the Cubans a century and a half later, the Haitians needed to be contained.

The Americans and the French went about solving the Haiian problem in a very businesslike way. The Haitians had sugar to sell, but their only real market was the US. The US agreed with the French that they would buy nothing from the Haitians unless the French recognised Haitian independence.
This extortionate double play worked. The Haitians would starve unless they could sell their sugar.


Hold on tight to your screams!


The solution guaranteed the Haitians would starve anyway, committing themselves to pay a ransom equivalent to $120 billion US to the French, buying their freedom in cash having bought it in blood, pauperising themselves for another century.

When they defaulted – as they had to – the Americans and their accomplices intervened, seizing the Haitian Treasury and Customs services, abolishing the Haitian constitution, dive-bombing the Haitian peasants when they rose to assert their rights, stealing Haitian land, cutting down Haitian forests to plant sisal, installing a fascist army to maintain the rule of a minority, light skinned elite who despised the black Haitians upon whom they battened and fed.


They had great plans, the elite and their foreign friends. They were going to revolutionise pig rearing in Haiti, but first they needed to get rid of the native Haitian pigs. The experts replaced the Haitian pigs with large white hogs, pigs that needed better housing than the Haitian peasants who suposedly owed Them. The experts, in the interest of cheap food, then completed the ruin of the Haitian peasantry by importing subsidised American rice, destroying the Haitian market in hill rice.
Then, when the Haitians were once again pauperised the experts and their elite allies introduced the nearest thing to slavery known to this century – free zones, where Haitians laboured for the price of less than one Jamaican patty a day. THe women were injected with drugs which stopped their monthly periods so they wouldn't need time off to have babies. They were prohibited from joining unions.


Hold on tight to your screams!


This is the new dispensation.of Mr Ban ki Moon and of Mr Collier, of Mr Zoellick of the World Bank and the IDB, of Mr Kofi Annan and Mr Colin Powell, of Mr Patterson and Mr Manning.

It will be led by a most unsavoury collection of those George Soros describes as gangster capitalists, who paid for the terror that has murdered thousands, driven thousands more into exile, used rape as an instrument of political enforcement and twice destroyed the Haitians desperate attempts to recover their rights – the rghts they were the first in the world to proclaim, a century before the UN, that every human beings is entitled to the same rights and privileges as every other.


The security situation is fixed according to Mr Ban ki Moon. Gangs of convicted and unconvicted murderers and rapists in concert with so called UN peacekeepers and child molesters will again control Haiti in the interests of the largely expatriate elite, the market makers whose older brothers have brought the world to the brink of moral and financial disaster people with the divine right to be rich and to suck the blood of the poor.


Haiti's democracy was beheaded in a conspiracy between the US State Department, John McCain's International Republican Institute, and the governments of France and Canada. THey shut down the development process, destroyed the nascent medical school, blocked Haitian access to clean water. In an initiative reminiscent of King Leopold's intervention in the Congo a century ago – a kind of mission of the Red Cross as Leopold described it, they set back development in Haiti by half a century. They didn't kill quite as many people as Leopold.


Hold on tight to your screams!


The poor, as Condolleezza Rice points out, can always vote.
It won't do them much good but will provide western journalists with a deep sense of smug self-satisfaction.

Meanwhile to Elisabeth Fritzl and the Haitians we can say :

Hold on tight to your screams!

One day, somebody may hear them.

They may not know what they mean – but they may make a paragraph in the New York Times.

Copyright ©2009 John Maxwell