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Mrs. F. C. Currie "Felicity Currie" (Cheshire, England)

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The European Union and You: Understand the Constitution, the Reform Treaty and the Arguments
The European Union and You: Understand the Constitution, the Reform Treaty and the Arguments
by David Roberts
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £24.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read, 4 Feb. 2009
This is a massively important book because it empowers us with the knowledge we need to understand an institution that involves us all: The European Union. We may not think the EU matters much, or that it concerns us directly: individually or collectively. But it does. Decisions are made, day in, day out, that affect our lives: our freedoms, our rights, our work, our prosperity, our values--or the undermining of all these.

What is particularly impressive about this book is that it is written in a way that satisfies the most rigorous standards of scholarship, while also being clearly understandable to the ordinary reader. It is accessible to all of us: interesting, alive AND sometimes devastating in its revelations. Let me now give some key examples.

Every organisation, especially one as complex as the EU, needs a Constitution (a kind of rule book) embodying the fundamental principles by which a state (or group of states) is governed--and, most crucially, the rights of the subjects of that group of states. What this book so powerfully demonstrates is that the massive documentation which makes up the (so-called) Constitution of the EU is (a) inconsistent; (b) often contradictory and (c) not flexible enough to allow for the changes that inevitably occur in different times and circumstances. There are documents which claim to uphold democracy, but we see all too clearly (thanks to the book's insight and courageous investigation) that "lack of accountability" means that laws can be disregarded, democracy rendered meaningless, and "political wrongdoing", especially among the higher echelons of the EU, allowed to go unnoticed and unpunished. So, what could be an ethical union of states working together for justice and progress all too often becomes a quagmire in which the functioning of democracy becomes impossible.

The EU is supposed to be an upholder of fundamental human rights. And yet there is evidence to suggest that "EU member states are apparently operating with a mindset which suggests that current leaders have little or no commitment" to our human rights. Free speech, for example, can all too easily be curtailed. Any state can make provision in its law for the death penalty if it feels under (manufactured?) threat. There are databases which hold personal information on every Euro-citizen. (Is this the EU of the 21st century or Orwell's 1984?)

Is it a surprise to learn that "what is really at the heart of the EU" is not freedom but so-called Free Trade--"international trading arrangements"? The EU is "about commerce rather than about people". Typically, in a ruthlessly capitalist set-up, "liberalisation" means "privatisation", so that what should be genuine public services are taken into commercial ownership, like "the provision of water, prisons, social services, education and healthcare". And what is the aim of such "liberalisation"? Why, naturally, "to make a good profit and pay shareholders well". How prophetic this book has proved to be! Perhaps most shameful of all is the failure of this Union of prosperous states to help the Third World. The EU makes much of its gifts of surplus produce to Third World countries--but this turns out to be cold charity. "As a result farmers in third world recipient countries" have suffered: they can't sell their own produce, can't make a living--and once they've gone out of business, countries can no longer "sustain themselves". Their very survival is threatened.

The most effective (and ruthless) way governments control people is by manipulating language. Language is power. The book is rich in examples of this abuse. I'm going to concentrate on one subject: war. How fascinating it is to learn that the EU "tends to avoid using the word `war'. It uses the term `operational action'". Hides a multitude of sins, doesn't it? Military invasion becomes "man-made disaster". Vague and escapist--not to say irresponsible and immoral. And yet while it evades the word war, the EU is increasingly preoccupied with military action. "Defence forces are planned to be used for activities which go far beyond defence and far beyond Europe. Defence spending is to be increased year after year". So much for the credit crunch.

These are just a few examples to show you how bold and illuminating this book is. It is a must read. Above all it shows that while a union of states functioning morally and in harmony is possible, it is just not being realised.

Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke
Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke
by Peter Guralnick
Edition: Paperback

13 of 25 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not "Dream Boogie" but Nightmare Boogie, 19 Mar. 2007
2005 brought me two books I had been eagerly anticipating: Peter Guralnick's "Dream Boogie" and Erik Greene's "Our Uncle Sam". Guralnick's had all the promotional fanfare that his connections with the record industry and previous publications virtually (if not justifiably) guarantee. Erik Greene, although he is a member of Sam's family, had to rely on his own resources and (relatively) small-time, self-promotional publication. But only one book tells the truth and does justice to Sam Cooke: Erik Greene's. Guralnick's "Dream Boogie", for all its prolixity and pretensions to a wide range of inside information, ultimately and inevitably presents a diminished Sam Cooke, a demeaned, slandered, betrayed Sam Cooke. Why? Because (contrary to my great expectations that his book would have something new to say) he remains enslaved to the old White lie about Sam's death. He had a chance to put the record straight, but chose instead to remain the (well fed) mouthpiece of the record industry, and obediently reproduce the same old dirty story that so vilifies Sam and denies him his true, full role in history.

Sam was not just the great singer, composer and sex idol that Guralnick's book portrays him as. Sam fought to create a brave new world in which Black musicians were free agents, independent of the White profiteers who exploited and robbed them, in control of the money they earned and the publishing rights of their music. This was a heroic, innovative and profoundly ethical mission, but because it hit at the rotten heart of big business in White (racist) America, because it would have exposed large scale corruption and, in that process, led to a redistribution of wealth, Sam Cooke had to be got rid of. Sam Cooke could not be bought off or cowed by threats (from the underworld cohorts so invaluable to the ruthless and megalomaniac record industry). Sam Cooke was phenomenally intelligent, and far better educated than the Whites who became his blood-sucking `mentors' (the likes of Jess Rand, Hugo and Luigi, and above all Allen Klein). He knew how to investigate false audits and ferret out the crooked machinations by which he and others were being bled of their hard-earned money and publishing rights. Sam knew too much, and for that knowledge (a knowledge which could and should have changed the world for the better) he was murdered. Brutally murdered under the auspices of the White-dominated record industry, whose financial domination and fraudulent practices had to be preserved at the expense of a moral revolutionary who was Black.

Of course powerful magnates could cover their damning tracks by staging a fictional drama which would feature Sam as a victim of his allegedly uncontrollable sexual drives. Down and out women (one ?Eurasian, one Black), so easy to silence and suborn, would feature as the protagonists instead of the real criminals from befouled White business, in a seedy scenario that the real Sam Cooke would never have gone anywhere near. Ironic, isn't it, that the risibly improbable fiction (invented by White men but forcibly perpetrated by women of `inferior race') has for so long been allowed to stand uncontested, while any attempt to present a truly credible alternative has always been branded a conspiracy theory? In fact the version presented so feebly and docilely in "Dream Boogie" (for the umpteenth time, and with fictional additions which are astoundingly incriminating) is the conspiracy theory. Erik Greene's reconstruction, lucidly, cogently, logically argued from evidence, is what the conspirators and murderers have for so long succeeded in keeping hidden. But the truth will out, and Erik Greene has been courageous enough to out it. Miraculously, enough evidence has survived to present a scrupulously argued, utterly credible case. Any fan of Sam Cooke has moral duty to read "Our Uncle Sam", spread the truth about his murder, and help fight the injustice that robbed him and his family of the rights to his music.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 26, 2012 9:45 PM BST

Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid
Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid
by Jimmy Carter
Edition: Hardcover

34 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In Praise of "Peace Not Apartheid", 5 Feb. 2007
Jimmy Carter's book commands respect not only because of his credentials as a Nobel Peace Prize Winner, but because of his profound knowledge of the Palestine-Israeli conflict and his unremitting commitment to peace and justice in the area. This is as near as you'll ever get to an objective, reasoned and deeply compassionate account. This means that its assessments are uniquely and unquestionably valid. Added to this objectivity is Jimmy Carter's courage in voicing criticism of Israel, when so many people, the press, politicians, religious leaders etc. are too cowardly to do so. Therefore, when this book, with all the evidence and documentation it so scrupulously includes, so clearly demonstrates Israel's deliberate violation of human rights, UN resolutions and Palestinian rights to statehood, we know for certain that this is the truth. This book has to be read for justice to be done. What every one of us can do is recommend it to others, and show that we can bring about peace and justice by boycotting all commerce with Israel. It worked in South Africa, and it can work if Israel is isolated and forcefully condemned. I am a Jew myself, and I feel betrayed by Israel's inhumanity.

Our Uncle Sam: The Sam Cooke Story from His Family's Perspective
Our Uncle Sam: The Sam Cooke Story from His Family's Perspective
by Erik Greene
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The real truth about Sam Cooke, 9 Oct. 2006
This book is a fresh, new, beautifully written account about Sam's life and music, with all the intimate details that only a family perspective can give. More important is the fact that this book has the courage for the first time to tell the truth about Sam's death. Sam Cooke was murdered because he had found out how he and other black artists were being cheated out of the rights to own their own music. Those who stole from Sam and were complicit in his murder are still profiting: the corrupt music industry.

Sam died a hero fighting for justice, and this book has the courage to expose the old dirty lie about Sam's death, using clear and hitherto ignored evidence. "Our Uncle Sam" is a must read. Help in the fight for justice, buy the book and spread the news.

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