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Welcome - The International Writers Magazine - November 2008
writing from across the globe.
Welcome to the NOVEMBER Edition of Hackwriters.
The arc of history has spoken. We can all feel a little happier and safer now. It's a good moment in world history.
My thoughts now are really about the post-election period.
Of course we have that odd transition period, the two excruciating months when Obama chooses his team and Bush still runs the show (if he ever did) and so much more could go wrong. I don’t envy Barack Obama. The process must be totally exhausting. The expectations huge but here's a man who knows how to build a good team around him and with a majority in Congress and the Senate - he can get things done.

Better yet, as we saw in Germany in July, the world has been impatiently waiting for him to bring a healing effect to it. You knew then when 200,000 people came to see him in Berlin and give a stirring lucid speech that this was going to be something special.

It has been all about winning for so long, from 2006 onwards Obama has thought of nothing else but ‘Change’ and winning and here we are. But the USA of 2006 was almost a completely different country, seemingly prosperous, with house values almost 70% higher than they are now and employment at a ten year high and all the banks were rich and busy making loans…

Starting work in January he’ll be running Depression America, the Republican's gift to him. It is a poisoned chalice and there is still time for more things to go wrong, but on Nov 3d when the stock market rose on anticipation of a Obama victory, we know that with hope, a hell of a lot can be accomplished. It will be hard to be patient till January.

GM has been refused loans this week, sales are 45% down; Chrysler may have even given up by then (it is cash rich but orders poor). The oil price will still be low as demand falls, but they may not be of any comfort to an administration wondering how to stimulate an economy that is dead in the water. Not just the American economy either, but the European one too and Australia, all of Africa (which is also dependent on selling raw materials). We look to China and the oil-rich Arab states but there’s only so many Cadillac’s and Bentleys they can absorb.

China has many huge infrastructure and quality control problems that will be exposed in a big way by a worldwide downturn. They may well be building one new coal fired power station a week but no one can breath the air and long term health problems will manifest themselves over time. The purity of their food is a huge problem, it has now discovered that melamine is routinely added to animal feed and essentially the Chinese have been eating plastic for years now… They may have trillions of US dollars but they don’t know how to lead and if they did would be like it or follow? The US remains the world’s policeman.

WIll Russia calm down. It does not look like it, even today on the day of his election they have placed an anti-missle system on Poland's border to counter American missiles planted there. What will Obama do? What can he do but just try and bring calm back to the world.

Obama faces a world in crisis and none of it his making. How he deals with home-grown poverty, ambitious trouble making countries like Iran and others will be the measure of him. Luckily, unlike the previous incumbent, he has a brain.
One thing he can do is scale down the Iraq war at a much faster pace and not, please god, get bogged down in Afghanistan. There’s nothing there but trouble and you’d have to seal the border with Pakistan to stop it and there’s no amount of money or manpower to do that.
Walk away and save America first. That should be his motto.

Getting the US economy on its feet is his BIG priority, everything else is a luxury.
Sure he needs to change the tax system. Your average Joe on the assembly line at Ford probably pays more tax that Cindy McCain and that can’t be fair or sensible.

In the UK everyone pays 40% tax on anything over $70,000 per annum. It hurts. But we get free medical and schooling for that. Obama is only proposing that people who earn $200,000 per year should pay a higher tax and just how many middle-class hard-working Americans actually make that after all their deductions? If they do, the very least they could do is contribute to a better and fairer country. Lawyers, bankers, brokers, hedge-fund schemers, foreclosure specialists … they can afford to pay more. You really think is disincentivises them to pay a fair rate of tax on income? People who want to get rich will always get rich. It’s something they have to do. However, in the end it is better to live in a place where all are uplifted than just a few with gunsbehind secure walls.

Of course GM, Ford and Chrysler could have been better run and be actually making vehicles that people want to drive. They clearly don’t teach history to the management or else they would have remembered the last time oil spiked and Japanese cars took a grip on the US car market. Now they have South Korea and China to worry about and the quality is good too. In the UK ( according the the Nov 1st Daily Mail) Chrysler have been offering two for the price of one things are so bad!

I am not sure what Obama can do about the arrogance that certain CEOs have from bankers to auto-makers or whatever, but certainly what America needs is better forecasting. It’s not just the climate changing, but the demographics and there is a huge birth explosion from the incomers that will need schools, jobs, and I hope that all those delayed big infrastructure schemes that have been put on hold get started. New roads, bridges, fast rail…fiber-optics, it all needs building fast and there are people hungry for jobs so the costs should be contained.

Obama arrives at a moment of political opportunism. Trouble has already flared Africa in the Congo and South Africa's political elite is splitting. Middle East and elsewhere are calm today but Iran is still itching for trouble. It’s all as a kind of test and with the American economy flat or broke and militarily stretched, you really wouldn’t want his job next year. Of course you’d be glad it isn’t McCain, a lame duck who has already promised his job to Palin in 2012, who’s solution to all world problems would be to shoot or press the button, or hell, both.

So, we will be thankful Obama is there, calm, collected, willing to consult and listen and not over react and you’ll be glad it isn’t you who has to deal with the steaming pile of garbage that Bush has left on his doorstep. Just don’t expect to enjoy 2009; it’s going to be tough for all of us.

As for the UK:

It’s gets real interesting now. We have just about survived the most tumultuous October since 1929 and as I write this, although we are at the cliff edge in the world economy, we are not, as the media would have it, ready to jump.
I know this because the shopping malls are full, the high streets are choked with people buying and none of my students have actually cut back on drinking. Today I went to Westfield Mall, West London - the newest and biggest Mall in the UK, probably Europe and it was packed. But I am not sure people were buying, just looking at it and the amazing glass atrium roof and upscale shops. It's either a triumph of hope or last gasp of the boom years but it is well worth getting off at Shepherd Bush Tube and taking a look. Even if from Texas, you will be impressed.

The November edition of Hackwriters is here. Explore new fiction from our new Masters students and reviews from our undergrads as well as travel, fiction, lifestyle features from writers right across the globe. It's already a great issue and there's more to come.
*We have a guest writer this month coming to visit, Patrick Ness the author of the brilliant Knife of Never Letting Go. If you haven't read it, you are missing one of the best books of the year. Order it now. **The visit was great, we learned a great deal and can't wait to read the next one inthe series out in May.

Sam North - Editor November 4th 2008 -
If you want to help us keep going, buy my new book Mean Tide. A young adult ghost story set in Greenwhich, London.
Published Summer 2008 - Mean Tide by Sam North
'Extraordinary novel about a child's psychic awakening'

Lulu Press - ISBN: 978-1-4092-0354-4
Review: 'An engaging, unusual and completely engrossing read'
- Beverly Birch author of 'Rift'
Order now

Sent to live with his spooky Grandma by the river in Greenwich, Oliver (12) discovers a whole world of disturbed people who are probably even crazier than the ones he left behind. When he finds a dog with its throat cut on the beach, everything changes.
Age range 12-16 and adult
Borderlines Vol 2 A Literary Spark -
ISBN: 978-1-4092-0494-7
A University of Portsmouth publication from the School of Creative Arts, Film and Media- Buy now - available from Lulu Press & Blackwells, Amazon on-line

Borderlines Vol 2 - A literary Anthology of new fiction, travel writing and poetry from the Creative Writing Programme and invited writers at the University of Portsmouth, UK under the editorship of Freya Scott, Ryan Sirmons, Aby Davis and Sam North

'An exciting insight into the amazing talent and diversity of new writers out there today'
Stuart Olesker - Playwright
Submit for Borderlines 09 now

Meanwhile, are you worried about your health? Read my book 'Another Place to Die'' . If you have the slightest worry about how to survive the coming flu pandemic, you need this book and all the proceeds go to keep Hackwriters going. See the review from Calvin Hussey
Diamonds - The Rush of '72
By Sam North
ISBN: 1-4116-1088-1

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

Also printed in the UK and available from
& Waterstones

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 books go back into the site. If you live in New York they can be ordered at the Mysterious Bookshop at 58 Warren Street. These titles are able to be ordered at Amazon who keep stock see below and can be ordered from Waterstones all over the UK and Hatchards in London and for less cost direct from in the UK and USA Back to Index

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