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Welcome - The International Writers Magazine - April 06

Sat in Café Parisien in Portsmouth as April begins and my eyes stray to a leaflet left on the counter. A Rough Guide to a Better World and I was thinking that there’s a few people in this world who should probably read that.

Sometimes the newspapers fill you with dread. You cannot face another item about suicide bombers and mass killings by Shias or Sunnis or ‘insurgents’ in Iraq. Certainly you don’t want to hear any more moronic platitudes from the mouth of George W Bush or mealy squirming from master criminal Tony Blair. Are they building a better world? I think not. Israel has just had an election and of course they have gone for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is not one to compromise. The division between Hamas and Israel will only grow deeper until something really bad happens.

In Spain, we have a youth movement dedicated not to politics but to mass nihilism and alcohol, where thousands get drunk to the state of oblivion on weekends and weeknights. Their opposites in France are rebelling in the streets for the right to permanent jobs in an impermanent world. Neither group is really thinking about a better world. But then again ETA has disarmed so not all is lost.

Nevertheless there could be a malaise affecting us all. Perhaps when America fights an unpopular war the world catches a virus of discontent. There are many parallels to the Vietnam War era happening right now. Young Americans and British solders dying for nothing, to bring peace to a country that certainly doesn’t seem that interested in the concept. Democracy has not brought the happiness those in Washington thought it would.

So what can we do to make this a better world?
The Rough Guide suggests that volunteering can make a difference.
Not just to the people you might help, but to yourself. You might think about ethical savings, making sure that your bank doesn’t invest in companies that make weapons that will kill the people you are helping for example. You could switch to fair trade coffee, tea, chocolate and help those who produce the raw materials get a fair price for their produce and labour. Elsewhere in this issue to can find out about helping people to build homes in Costa Rica with Habitat. There are schemes to help children in India or in this issue Kenya. We can find ways to make a better world and make outselves feel better too.

Rough Guide reminds us that two billion people on this planet do not have access to clean safe water or sanitation. A hundred million kids never go to school. AIDS/HIV is destroying whole countries in Africa where it creates orphans with one hand and kills the adults with skills necessary to administrate and create the wealth with another.

You could give money to charities that try to something about that – see the article on Kenyan orphans in this issue of Hackwriters for example but more importantly, you can give time or expertise. To make a better world, we first need to want one and we need to know how to share it and overcome the political and religious blockades to that end.

Direct action, whether overseas in Africa or Asia is one thing, but also look closer, look at those people sleeping in doorways, kids who don’t have places to go at night, or getting into deeper trouble in your neighbourhood. How do you halt that decline? Moan about it a little more?
Neighbourhood watch is one thing, being proactive, getting involved, making time to listen and finding solutions to problems near to home is another. Kids say they have no place to go. Well work on that with your local council, perhaps there are unused spaces and volunteers who can supervise...?

If we all do something, however little, it will make a difference and instead of famine, war, pestilence and civil disturbance, you will read success stories, about people learning how to conserve their environment so that another generation can use it. You may have to forego a bauble or two, deny yourself an extra pint of beer, or glass of wine, or even one packet of cigarettes a month, but if that money went to a charity that was helping others instead, the whole world would quickly become a better place. You can do it. I can do it. We can make a difference and it isn’t hard.

April 5th: Since I wrote this last week someone was nearly murdered outside my door at 1am Monday morning - and drunken kids went on the rampage and destroyed car mirrors, smashed windows in cars in my street. Let it be recorded that the cops were unavailable to 'attend' the incident and recommend that one places plastic bags over the mirror remains for 'possible' fingerprinting. So I can tell you it is sometimes hard to stay positive about what we can do to make the world better at home - but it also serves as a reminder that it has to be done - the alternative - as they say - is too awful to contemplate.

April 24th:
Servers back on-line. We shall be putting the May edition together this week, we hope. Time willing.

© Sam North Editor April 2006

We at Hacks are self-supporting and if you want to support us, buy Sam's books - All the funds from the sale of the book go back into the site. If you live in New York it is stocked at the Mysterious Bookshop at 58 Warren Street. In the UK these titles are able to be ordered at Waterstones bookshops anywhere. Or to order on-line from Amazon who keep stock see below.

The Curse of the Nibelung - A Sherlock Holmes Mystery
by Sam North

ISBN 1-4116-3748-8
$19.98 Retail - 300 pages - Lulu Press USA

'Chocolate will never be the same again' - Sunday Express

Buy from your favourite on-line retailer
Amazon UK
Amazon USA
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Or buy direct from Lulu Press plus delivery charges

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

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

Diamonds - The Rush of '72
By Sam North

Buy now from
'a terrific piece of storytelling' Historical Novel Society Review

Now printed in the UK and available from

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