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Welcome - The International Writers Magazine - April 05

There seems to be a surge of democracy going on right now. Not only is the UK undergoing national elections with possible upsets, Europe is preparing for referendums on the proposed new constitution and of course in Italy, once again they are searching for a new government as Berlusconi quits. Can he form another government without an election? We shall see.
The Year of the Rat always brings change - it seems.
As President Chirac has discovered, the mood for closer integration in Europe has passed, almost as the bigger it gets, the 500 million or so in this new Europe want less control from Brussels (and de factor France), not more. As satellite countries race to join the club and get a finger in the slush funds, the established members' populations grow more cynical about the whole thing and especially the politicians that run it. The Club is 25 strong now and we could be 30 by 2009, with or without Turkey. This is Empire building without war, but I can't help feeling that some of these new members may not be so clubbable and everything might just end in tears. Already we have political parties in the UK (UKIP and Veritas) campaigning for the UK to leave Europe altogether. One hopes they don't get votes but there are a lot of small minded 'little englanders' out there who just won't be happy until the Channel Tunnel is filled with water and we are all reduced to drinking Dandelion and Burdock instead of 'foreign' wine.

As reported this month by our Spanish correspondent, Spain is lurching further and further left, Portugal has already done so and one wonders if either country can afford to do this. A year ago the Spanish economy was leaping ahead but after the Madrid bombing and the change of governments, everything has turned sour and now Spain is in danger of breaking up into little feudal 'kingdoms' with all the layers of patronage and corruption that will follow. Some 300,000 Brits have homes in Spain and Portugal. I wonder how safe that 'investment' will be in the future.

Here in the UK the bookies are giving the socialist Labour party 1.20 on odds of winning the next election and returning lame duck Blair as Prime Minister. If you are looking for a surprise, the UK could deliver it. Blair is unpopular, the Iraq war is deeply unpopular and his role in lying about WMD. On top of which the UK economy is turning off, so to speak, never mind Rover and MG biting the dust along with 20,000 associated jobs, major retail stores are going into liquidation (Index being the latest) and sales are permanent on the High Street. (Rumours are rife about Jaguar being given the chop with the year by Ford if thiongs don't improve). People are so obsessed with the value of their homes they haven't noticed that every day now some company or another is laying people off. The Conservatives should be using this as a stick to beat Labour with but they don't seem to have noticed this either. Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats (who cannot win) are promising the gullible (my students in particular amongst them) that they will abolish University fees and build paradise on earth (mostly by taxing the rich). The trouble is the rich can leave and will, for friendlier places to live and work and the only way Universities can be free is if they reduced the number of places available at them and raise taxes.

There is no perfect political party. No perfect solutions, but it would be nice to think that a party that has so consistently lied and spun and generally destroyed moral values as much as Blair's government will be voted out of office. My hunch is that many Labour voters will sit on their hands, many young people will vote Liberal Democrat (if they vote at all) and the Tories will get out their votes in sufficient numbers to make a difference and we could have a narrow win for the Tories or a hung parliament. Let's hope so. Yes I put my money where my mouth is on this and I shall either weep or shout for joy on May 6th.
Er... Weep - loudly 05.06.05 Sigh

Meanwhile in Canada Paul Martin might call an election in June. He has discovered that he is unloved and that Chretien's legacy of sleaze has tainted the Liberals so much the extreme right Tory party looks like they can get in. Stephen Harper has battled hard to build a united right and it looks like he will be rewarded. The sad part of this is that it will speed up the Americanization of Canada and the complete surrender to Bush's paranoia. No doubt they will suddenly be converted the 'Star Wars' boondoggle, and other Homeland terror methods. Let's see if the Liberals can rally at the last. Meanwhile back in BC can Premiere Campbell beat of the challenge from the NDP (Canadian Socialists) . Let's hope so. Going back to the strike bound BC of yesteryear wouldn't be nice at all.

On the horizon we can see China suddenly becoming belligerent about Japan ( will the second world war never go away). Protest movements will not be contained and this tiny rumble could get out of hand. One can understand that China is practicing the age old distraction method as they try to put a lid on explosive economic growth, but things have a habit of going wrong and this Chinese government is being provocative in the extreme of late, threatening Taiwan and now Japan. Could this lead to a regional war? Are they testing to see if the USA will come to either's aide in time of war? For some time now some pundits have been saying that China will want to flex it's muscles in the region as it becomes economic top dog. No one quite predicted it would happen now, but we could be seeing the first plays in a regional conflict. Remember both are competing for the same world supply of raw materials and oil. This 'test' could get nasty. Watch that space. Could it go global? Let's see if any Japanese pundits clue us into that. And do we feel sorry for Japan, the nation that promises to kill off the worlds remaining whales to increase their sexual prowess? I think not. For now the Chinese are content with the Japanese PM's repeated apology but for how long?

Well, we do live in interesting times. This month it is 60 years since the West discovered the horrors of Belsen and other concentration camp crimes. The consequences of the Second World War probably don't go away for some time yet. We also remember the slaughter in Gallipoli - 90 years ago this week. It's sixty years since we had a world war. Perhaps we are just waiting for the last people who remember them both to die beforfe we start another. Maybe that's why it's slowly being deleted from our children's history books... Those that cannot remember -fight the battles all over again.

Sam North April 26th 2005

This month in Hackwriters:
Retail Therapy, Travel to Guatamala,Buenos Airies,Remagen revisited,Tuscany, Paris 19th Arrondissement even Stonehenge and Bogota. Remember Charlie Brown. Discover why men wear rings and there's fiction from Bali, Morocco, even the life of a Cricket, and the loneliness of a guitar solo. James Campion on the Brain Dead and meanwhile reviews on new musicals in London notably The Far Pavillions, and old favourites such as A Tree in Brooklyn and Touching the Void. The Great Beyond is now at Chapter 13 and there's more First Chapters too. 10,000 readers a week drop by Hackwriters not bad for a little magazine. More to come...

We at Hacks are self supporting and if you want to support us, buy Sam's book - All the funds from the sale of the book go back into the site. See below.

If you are looking for a good read Sam North's new book Diamonds - The Rush of '72 is available now.
$19.95 from in the USA or on special offer from the publishers direct - see box below.

Sam North - Editor

Or buy direct from the publisher from only $12.95 plus shipping

Diamonds - The Rush of '72
By Sam North

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'a terrific piece of storytelling' Historical Novel Society Review

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