Thursday, August 31, 2006



Just a reminder that our fiction, short stories, and screenplays have been relocated to our companion blog Endurance located under Access in the sidebar.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Give it Back

Making restitution


Genocide Unabated

The Zionist colonial project expands ethnic cleansing in eastern Palestinian Territory through joint venture of Israeli government, real estate developers, and settlers' terrorist network. West Bank becoming combination of high-end gated communities and giant slums for Orthodox poor used as human shields against dispossessed Palestinian villagers.


Teaching by Doing

Coordinated federal, state, and local police hire assassins and other felons as strong men in breaking Oaxaca teachers' strike. Additional undercover cops used to sow dissension, distrust, uncertainty, and fear through infiltration of teachers' group opposed to government corruption. Teachers already murdered on picket line.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Traveling on Empty

Regular readers of Wampum will know Wabanaki and his family had a setback in the Dakotas on their roundabout from Maine to San Francisco. New readers and old will enjoy this post announcing they've now resumed their journey toward the Golden Gate. We who reside here in the perpetual fog of summer anticipate their arrival, not to mention the next installment in his series about traveling on empty with four kids and a lot of hope.


Finding their Voice

I only just began reading the book Palestinian Identity by Rashid Khalidi, and already I have come across yet another similarity between the American Indian colonial experience and that of the Filastin fellahin. In examining the period prior to the first world war--a time of intense conflict between indigenous peasants and mostly Russian Jewish settlers--Khalidi draws readers attention to the fact that Palestinian peasant farmers and herders were still living under a communal usufruct of land tenure, and that recent changes in land law enacted by the Ottoman empire left them entirely unprotected from absentee merchant landlords, like the Sursuq family of Beirut, that had purchased vast areas from the Ottoman state.

With the advent of the Zionist rural colonization by belligerent immigrants relocated through the efforts of the Jewish National Fund, the fellahin--having only recently adapted to the status of tenant or laborer--found themselves suddenly homeless and unemployed on lands they and their ancestors had cultivated or grazed in common, and more importantly, lands they believed were still theirs. Largely illiterate and relatively powerless compared to their urban countrymen in cities like Jerusalem, Jaffa, and Gaza, the fellahin themselves were unable to counter the steady Zionist propaganda of the previous century culminating in the entirely misleading notion of "an empty land for a landless people."

To be fair, notable families and religious leaders, as well as Arabs from the surrounding area of the eastern mediterranean, made overtures to both the Ottoman state and the post-World War I European inheritors of the Arab provinces, but the fix was already in, and by the time the British assumed control of what was termed the Palestine Mandate, the indigenous peoples of the land of Palestine had completely lost any voice in their own affairs.

Perhaps, as the stewards of the Holy Land, the people of Palestine--Muslim, Christian, and Jewish--had become blinded by their millenia of coexistence, and like the indigenous of North America, were inevitably unprepared for the shock and subsequent trauma of dispossession by European settlers. The story, of course, does not end there, and I look forward to learning more about the construction of modern national consciousness amongst the nation of Palestine.

Monday, August 28, 2006


Progressive Perseveration

Stop Me and friends discuss the childlike belief in magic among evangelical Democrats.


Fervent Fear Factor

Almost without exception, the desire to belong and prosper is stronger than the commitment to democracy. As such, principled people are the Democrats' scapegoats. And sure as the sun came up, the Democrats will figure out a way of sacrificing the Republican immigrant scapegoats on the altar of bigotry. It's just a matter of political timing and electoral strategy.

An interesting illustration of progressive Democrat thinking is found presently in the Orcinus weblog guest columnist Sara Robinson's Nothing to Fear post scapegoating socialists, and Kevin Hayden's Democrat winning strategy post . With red-baiting as their mutual baseline, the recommendation by the American Street weblog editor that we redestroy Afghanistan, ignore grinding poverty caused by NAFTA/CAFTA, and spread energy depletion fear as a means of herding terrified voters to vote Democrat is not surprising, but disturbing nonetheless.

If these two progressive Democrat bloggers are any indication, it's beginning to look like the Democrats are intentionally going off the rails in advance of November, or even September, anticipating losing once again in the elections. It doesn't get much stranger than having self-confessed ex-fundies and ex-commies turned fervent Democrats projecting their psychoses on critics who stop by to allow some fresh air into their exhaust-breathing exercises.

Between the above nonsense and their Defending Democracy fiasco, I wonder what the grand finale in 2008 will be. Hopefully something more satisfying than another rich white guy taking a dive for plutocracy.

p.s. Stop Me picks up this thread and runs with it.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


More of the Same

It's a widely accepted myth with liberals that noble fighting Democrats brought about the Civil Rights Movement and equal protection under the law, when in fact the Democrats fought tooth and nail to stop the egalitarian measures for which the Far Left shed blood, sweat and tears in the Deep South. Reading the accounts from those who were there risking their lives, not grandstanding from safe enclaves in Washington, people like James Forman, Jack Minnis, John Lewis, Diane Nash, Rosa Parks, Dorie Ladner, Wally Roberts, Bob Moses, Wiley Branton, Gwen Patton, Judy Richardson, Miriam Glickman, Charlie Cobb, Staughton Lynd--these are the heroes of human rights in the US.

The fact that liberal Democrats lacked the moral fiber to stand firm against the conservative onslaught against these hard-won gains is no surprise; they never fought for them in the first place. Now, to demonstrate their common ground with conservatives, liberals express admiration for war-mongering racists like Richard Nixon, Billy Graham, and Teddy Roosevelt, and somehow think this also proves how tough they are. Some have gone so far as to absurdly suggest the New Deal might serve as as a bridge of diplomacy to the right wing.

What they describe is a demonstration of weakness, not strength. Lining themselves up with warmongers who've betrayed the Constitution time and again--people like Murtha and Obama--defines them as conservative, or neo-liberal, which is pretty much the same thing now days. What they advocate is a surrender of values while maintaining the public relations strategy of the Democratic Party, and diplomacy with fascism rather than the courage to fight it. In other words, more of the same.



All fascist regimes rely on collaboration from their ostensible opponents; otherwise, how could a handful of violent criminals gain the uncontested authority to treat others as subhuman?

As collaborators par excellence, NPR and its CPB sibling PBS extend the marginalization of dissidents required for totalitarian control. Lest some think it a mindless oversight on the part of NPR, recall that their programs are 1. discussed and planned in advance, 2. funded and executed by professional staff, 3. edited and polished complete with soundtrack, and 4. scheduled for broadcast and dutifully advertised and archived.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


RNC Mobilization

One difference between Nazi Germany and Manifest Destiny America is that, while both were violent racist societies, the present fascist regime in the US finds it more difficult to rely on preexisting prejudice against its Mestizo scapegoat, and thus must mobilize all national media, hate entrepreneurs, and covert political operatives in fomenting sufficient fear and confusion for the Republican National Committee to prevail in November. It's a monumental task, but no one ever said destroying a democratic republic was easy.

Friday, August 25, 2006


Creating Community

It isn't easy, but it can be done. Join the discussion. Offer your thoughts. Read what weblog researchers have to say about immersion and community.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


P for Pravda

Is the Corporation for Public Broadcasting now the keystone of the FOX/CNN/PBS propaganda axis?


Losing Proposition

It appears that my warning about political partisanship destroying human rights movements has come to pass in the immigration conflict in Washington state. In an attempt to counter sham GOP congressional house hearings in the run-up to fall elections, the Democrats have begun holding Defending Democracy hearings at which they've featured two infamous minorities from academia as spokesmen against the Republican National Committee's scapegoating-for-votes strategy.

While the GOP is deservedly reviled for its bigotry, the use of two university professors--known for self-aggrandizement, subservience to economic elites, and stabbing authentic activists in the back--as the voice and face of the pro-democracy campaign, is a tactical blunder from which there is likely no recovery. In the face of a total media onslaught against immigrants, the authenticity, dignity, and integrity of the human rights movement is all it has going; allowing two well-known sellouts to represent them is a losing proposition.


Ordinary Men

One of the methods of mainstream media whitewash of racist vigilantes like the Minutemen is to portray these bigots as normal, middle class, concerned citizens—what author Christopher Browning in his book by the same title called ordinary men. What NPR Morning Edition host Jennifer Ludden failed to note in her program this morning, however, is that this cross section of American society involved in Minuteman workshops on citizenship and the constitution had also murdered some two dozen poor Mestizos for the crime of crossing the border to work for less than minimum wage.

Whitewashing vigilantism in mainstream media is, of course, nothing new in the US. After all, look who owns it. When it isn’t promoting the interests of its underwriters from the petrochemical, military, and nuclear power industry, even NPR now has to kowtow to a fascist Congress for funding—a Republican fascist Congress that has made immigrant scapegoating its number one reelection strategy for 2006. But the white supremacy power structure that controls all US media historically performed the same service for the Klan lynchmobs and the more recent militias as well, that is until they blew up a federal building and daycare center in Oklahoma City.

So it should come as no surprise to find that despite their more genteel manners, NPR has in the run-up to fall Congressional elections chosen to likewise offer its considerable services as a public relations agency to the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps. Nothing personal, just business.

NPR has the boilerplate format of the program down pat: describe the bigots as well-dressed, well-spoken, sincere individuals doing research, monitoring and reporting in cooperation with law enforcement; give the vigilante spokesmen plenty of air time to promote unchallenged bogus claims about cultural vulnerability, national security risks, public health dangers, and budgetary impacts; find a sympathetic sheriff and some national guardsmen to say these Minutemen Militias are OK good old boys; emphasize the socially acceptable advocacy and lobbying of legislatures by this “grassroots” organization; and close the program with the NPR hostess repeating the main Minuteman talking points as though it was a highly scripted and polished PBS commercial.

Come to think of it, that’s exactly what it was.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Means Not End

A reflection on the efficacy of blogging.


Looking Glass Ideas

Blogging as a medium for exposing murderous regimes like that of Arroyo in the Phillipines, or as a means of increasing accountability by transnational corporations like Microsoft, is a topic of increasing concern to anti-democratic movements, states, and markets. Tune in to the video presentation of a case study on blogging in knowledge work by Lilia Efimova to learn more.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Toward Oblivion

On our companion blog Endurance, we look at the persistence of ancient identities, values, and cultures in a positive light for what they continue to contribute to our humanity in the present. But we would be remiss to ignore the fact that other aspects of our human past endure as well, some not so positive, some lethal.

Reading authors Henryk Grynberg and David Albahari and their accounts from the Holocaust, it is not hard to imagine that such traumas can endure for very long periods of time--perhaps centuries. Having listened to American Indian storytellers, I can attest to that reality on this continent. And perhaps the ruthless brutality unleashed on Palestinians by the state of Israel has something to do with that and earlier traumas insufficiently addressed, left to fester and erupt over and over again.

But the madness of the Europeans and their diaspora here and elsewhere suggest something so terrifying in our collective past that even millenia cannot erase it without a concentrated effort of coming to terms with our psychic distress. And the only clue I can locate is in the hysteria surrounding the Black Plague of the 14th century that author Barbara Tuchman wrote about in her classic history A Distant Mirror. Indeed, it is the perpetuation of medieval myths of race and religion still extent in the literature of lunatics and minds of millions that seems to presently propel us toward oblivion.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Consumerist Confusion

A recently related conversation about shockingly different socioeconomic systems encountered by a friend and her workmate during their respective European vacations, pointed up just how far we have to go in reeducating our fellow citizens here in the US. One was pleasantly surprised to find universal healthcare and first-rate education available as a right of citizenship, the other was appalled at the idea of any form of economic support to the non-traditionally employed.

Key to understanding this dichotomy, I suspect, is that the former does not watch television news programs, while the latter does. Yet, poor public education and commercial media alone cannot account for the degree of hostility felt by the latter toward the public benefits of living in a socialist country. That, I imagine, is more of a cultural legacy of a hyper-consumerist society that rewards wage slavery with useless junk, thereby infusing consumerists with resentment toward unconventional social producers.

At a fundamental level of comprehension, it occurs to me that many Americans conflate socialism with communism, rather than distinguishing between civil and criminal societies. Were they able to make that demarcation, they would be capable of perceiving the criminal commonality of communism and capitalism--where the benefits from public resource use and extraction benefit the few--and thus have a basis of comparison with socialism, where the benefits from public wealth are distributed more equitably.

Saturday, August 19, 2006



Fans of Dashiell Hammett won't want to miss the new DVD Brick by Rian Johnson. Not often that crime novellas focus on the American teen lifestyle.

Friday, August 18, 2006


Janaka Jayawickrama

Janaka Jayawickrama of the Trauma Risk Reduction Programme Disaster and Development Centre at Northumbria University wrote about his experience organizing relief in the wake of the Sri Lanka Tsunami, including a remarkable Rapid Assessment Report produced by a group of young indigenous volunteers that was crucial in mobilizing UN and NGO resources effectively amidst bureaucratic chaos. Illustrating once again the critical role played by what is termed convergent responders.


Rudolph C. Ryser

Dr Rudolph C Ryser (Cowlitz Indian Tribe)
Founding Chair, Center for World Indigenous Studies
Principal architect of the new discipline of Fourth World Geopolitics


Another Way to Help

As one of our more thoughtful supporters from across the country reminded me the other day, some of our readers and correspondents might want to help us to maintain and develop our communications infrastructure which is sorely in need of repair. In addition to buying our books, one group of our informal distance-learning students recently made a joint contribution for that purpose.

As part of a volunteer research and education network, we can't offer tax-deductible receipts, but then again, we don't charge tuition for our services either. If the idea of making pro-democracy skills, lessons, and connections accessible in a casual popular education format (as we do here and on our companion blogs Archipelago, Continuity, Endurance, and Meitheal) appeals to you or your group, please consider making a contribution for that purpose.

For further information about ways to help, drop a line to our publisher at the e-mail address listed at the top of the page.


Military Madness

National Guard and Border Patrol invade Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation in Arizona. Malicious harassment of tribe now routine.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Deadly Distractions

In his essay Post 9/11 Conspiracism Chip Berlet observes, "The tendency to explain all major world events as primarily the product of a secret conspiracy is called conspiracism." He goes on to note that, "conspiracism impedes attempts to build a social movement for real social justice, economic fairness, equality, peace, and democracy."

Discussing left wing radio complicity in promoting conspiracism as opposed to critical, more productive social engagement, Berlet remarks, "I oppose censorship, but editorial judgment by radio station editors is not censorship."

As media analyst Norman Solomon warned KPFA Berkeley about the dangers of their investigative news magazine host Dennis Bernstein repeatedly featuring reckless promoters of conspiracism:

“...such programming, when it is successful, encourages people to fixate on the specter of a diabolical few plotters rather than on the profoundly harmful realities of ongoing structural, institutional, systemic factors. When logic becomes secondary to flashy claims, and when assertions unsupported by evidence become touted as hard-edged fact, any temporary sizzle hardly compensates for the longer-term damage done to the station's standards. A key question remains: Aren't the well-documented crimes of the U.S. government and huge corporations enough to merit our ongoing outrage, focused attention and activism?”

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Broken Record

When my colleague Chip Berlet first wrote his seminal report Right Woos Left , I had yet to encounter the fascist right wing of American politics, but having seen up close and personal since then the virulent madness and ferocity of New Right adherents in the form of gun-toting devotees of Liberty Lobby and rabid anti-semitic Larouchians, I can readily appreciate the value of the sobriety Mr. Berlet brings to the study of the fascist movement in America.

While it may seem like a tiresome broken record observing the vapid nature of liberals lured by the secret knowledge of the Populist Party, it is not an unimportant task to clarify how right wing ideas penetrate the minds of self-declared progressives, thus undermining our movements for civil and human rights. When these confused and misguided people start sending checks to Lyndon LaRouche, we have a problem.

Influenced by uncritical left wing media, such as Pacifica Radio, unschooled liberals are led down a path of titillating unfounded conspiracies that land them on the doorsteps of right wing recruiters, thereby depriving humanist social movements of support and providing fascist social movements with an ideological bulwark against exposure, a lose-lose scenario.

All this started coming back to me the other day listening to our landlady talking on her cell phone to a friend about how Lynn Cheney and Hillary Clinton were both part of the Illuminati. Having started out on this path with the 9/11 conspiracy crowd, this card-carrying member of the ACLU and regular donor to Southern Poverty Law Center was already well on her way. Yesterday I noticed her first issue of LaRouche's magazine.

While I do not expect this politically correct, liberal senior citizen to join one of the LaRouchite fascist street gangs in beating socialists and homosexuals with chains and baseball bats, I am appalled at how easily the weak-minded are led astray by the entertaining intrigues of madness run amok--an epidemic we had better inoculate against with all due diligence.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Loretta Ross

Women in Media and News
A friend and colleague of the Public Good Project


Anica Vesel Mander

Ani was my instructor during my final undergraduate semester. Anica is Serbo-Croatian for Grace.

Monday, August 14, 2006


Repeat that Fact

Laws are important, as are standards, rules, and regulations. But absent a social system that excludes criminal networks from positions of power and influence, they don't really mean anything. Just look at how many career bureaucrats with integrity have resigned or become whistleblowers in the last five years.

Our society hasn't been privatized, it's been criminalized. We need to repeat that fact until Americans cease accomodating felons and start incarcerating them.


Free Market Sex

Legislators leap onto the legalization bandwagon because they think nothing else is successful. However, as Scotland Yard's Commissioner has stated: 'You've got to be careful about legalizing things just because you don't think what you are doing is successful.

We hear very little about the role of the sex industry in creating a global sex market in the bodies of women and children. Instead, we hear much about making prostitution into a better job for women through regulation and/or legalization, through unions of so-called sex workers, and through campaigns which provide condoms to women in prostitution but cannot provide them with alternatives to prostitution. We hear much about how to keep women in prostitution but very little about how to help women get out.

Governments that legalize prostitution as sex work will have a huge economic stake in the sex industry. Consequently, this will foster their increased dependence on the sex sector. If women in prostitution are counted as workers, pimps as businessmen, and buyers as consumers of sexual services, thus legitimating the entire sex industry as an economic sector, then governments can abdicate responsibility for making decent and sustainable employment available to women.

Rather than the State sanctioning prostitution, the State could address the demand by penalizing the men who buy women for the sex of prostitution, and support the development of alternatives for women in prostitution industries. Instead of governments cashing in on the economic benefits of the sex industry by taxing it, governments could invest in the futures of prostituted women by providing economic resources, from the seizure of sex industry assets, to provide real alternatives for women in prostitution.

Read more about why legalization doesn't work in
10 Reasons for Not Legalizing Prostitution
by Janice G. Raymond
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women International (CATW)
March 25, 2003


Rigged Game

Socially developed law and order is an attractive alternative to simply shooting people who violate norms of morality. That said, a system whereby government can create such things as radioactive wastelands and industry can leave behind petrochemical dumps, illustrates just how little is socially developed anymore.

Almost all land use regulatory regimes have become a means for insider trading and tax evasion, as well as a way to dissipate public participation through adversarial activities designed to produce an anti-democratic outcome. In other words, virtually all public interest conflict is now a rigged game at which only lawyers, lobbyists, and politicians benefit.

Which is not surprising, given that they mostly work for the same clients.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


A Place for Everything

You might have noticed we've been relocating some of our sidebar materials to our special purpose companion blogs (presently listed under Access) in order to focus on particular themes that have developed in our writing over the past two years. This new arrangement is partly in response to the occasional comment about being overwhelmed with information here, and partly in response to our need to have designated locations to write and deposit materials that suit our assorted frames of mind.

Let us know if you find this reorganization helpful.

Friday, August 11, 2006


Whose Message?

American conservatism has been breathing its own exhaust for two generations, so they can be excused for imbecility, but repeating their absurdities in order to mock or refute them is counterproductive. If we wish to induce constructive thought in our target audience, we need to provide consistent ideology, coherent analysis, and sober reflection for them to consider.

We need our message to be discussed, not our enemy's.


Setting Priorities

Two of the people with the most on the ground experience in dealing with white christian nationalists in the United States--Devin Burghart and Eric Ward (both currently with Center for New Community's Building Democracy Initiative in Chicago)--will tell you that the formula they've found to be effective is Isolate; Inoculate; Educate. Borrowed from the public health model, they will tell you it is a sequential formula for good reason.

When viewed as a social disease, aggression based on unreasonable fear that leads to hate can only be constrained by isolating the transmitters (social movement entrepreneurs), inoculating their targeted audiences (potential recruits), and educating society at large in prophylactic praxis. Continuing the analogy, they find it almost impossible to conduct education amidst a full-blown epidemic; hysteria is also not a conducive atmosphere in which to reach out to fundamentalist constituencies.

Beginning with the assumption that right wing followers aren't especially more misinformed than liberals, it is their behavior that must be addressed first and foremost. It's not OK to threaten, harass, or assault people who think or believe differently (a non-negotiable principle). If we find we can recruit some to support standards of public conduct where all can feel safe and welcome to participate, great, but we should be cautious in our hopes for conversion of our present self-declared enemies; many are damaged beyond repair.

And so it becomes a matter of setting priorities: do we focus on stopping the instigators of the anti-democratic movement in America, or do we emphasize efforts to persuade those who hate us that they are wrong? In the end, I am convinced that the network of churches in the Midwest who tithe to the Center for New Community have it right: keep an eye on the bad guys, listen to what's going on in their communities, report suspicious organizing activities, and keep lines of communication open with conservative moral authorities who have the ear of those most vulnerable to hate mongering.

Because the message we need to make abundantly clear is that hate crime and political violence will not be tolerated. Their followers need to understand that not heeding this message will have consequences: loss of job, loss of family, loss of freedom. If we are not willing to back up these warnings, then we do not deserve to be self-governing.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Righteous Folly

I just read the preface to Richard Heinberg's new book Oil Depletion Protocol, in which he presents a plan for systematic international cooperation in transitioning from energy abundant industrial economies to a more sustainable way of life. Professor Heinberg's a knowledgeable writer on the subject of peak oil as well as economics, so I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt.

I also recognize the importance of international cooperation and the institutional protocols required to carry out joint ventures in preventing such things as pandemics and genocide, so I respect the need to put forth collectively responsible proposals as a way of countering the rampant cynicism and apathy that only serve to make things worse. That said, given the global disintegration of civil society to date over energy exploitation and militarism, I find it hard to imagine any greater success with this project than with others that pit humanity and reason against indifference and greed.

Indeed, before any sensible solutions of scale can take place on this or any other vital issues facing mankind, we will first need to address the criminalization of public institutions and private markets transnationally, as well as in the US. To do otherwise is folly.


Fighting Chance

The first step to learning, I always tell my students, is to stop listening to corporate media. The second is to locate unmediated discussion that meets academic standards.

With all due respect to celebrity pundits like President Nixon's former counsel and other born-again ex-cons, the right-wing milieu or anti-democratic movement in the US has been examined thoroughly by such noted writers as Chip Berlet, Paul de Armond, and Jerome Himmelstein.

Their less-titillating exposure of the methods of right-wing acquisition of power and influence suggests they primarily consist of violence financed by crime. Positioning themselves to take advantage of the opportunities crime and violence present, though, required considerable and continuous long-term investments in ideas, something progressives do not do, thus handing conservatism victory after victory by default.

As enemies of democracy, it is the misbehavior and criminal enterprise of the Far Right with which we should primarily concern ourselves, not so much with what sociopaths may or may not believe. A general understanding of the views of authoritarians damaged by various forms of physical and psychological abuse should suffice to illustrate that their dreams are our nightmares, and that negotiation is an inappropriate response to people who are determined to destroy nearly everything we value.

The challenge before us is to engage intelligently in the present war of ideas before it can become an armed conflict. What little is left of our civil society might still have a fighting chance.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


White Power

When it comes to obstruction of justice by the Bush administration, we needn't wait for a Supreme Court ruling to subvert the Constitution any more. Now a U.S. Court of Appeals has fallen in line with the Tony Scalia court.

Those who once agonized over an independent federal judiciary as an obstacle to corruption can now relax. The appellate court for the D.C. district just removed a federal judge from the Indian trust fund case for calling one hundred years of proven theft by the U.S. Department of Interior a "serious injustice."

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Savannah Savant

Author Juli Maria Kearns has republished an earlier essay that first conveyed the potential literary value of weblogs to me a year and a half ago. As a sampler of her exceptionally creative style, Growing Up in the Shadow of Mt. Fuji should whet your appetite for her debut novel Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World


Still No Honor

Most Americans, I suspect, are at least vaguely aware of the health and education services that federally-recognized Indian tribes receive as an annuity for lands ceded under various treaties, but I wonder how many understand what a bewildering process it can be for these first nations in dealing with the federal bureaucracy. The cases of the Chinook and Samish nations of Washington state illustrate this point quite well.

The Chinook were unable to gain recognition due to a requirement that they had maintained residence on ancestral territory without interruption, but when white settlers came to their lands on the heels of Lewis and Clark, the US Army forced them off at gunpoint. After finally obtaining federal status in the last days of the Clinton administration and being invited to represent the Columbia River tribes at a Voyage of Discovery bicentennial celebration at the White House, the Bush administration unceremoniously dropped the Chinook from the federal roles.

The Samish people of the renowned San Juan Islands vicinity had sent one hundred plus representatives to the treaty-signing ceremony a century and a half ago, but did not receive recognition until 1974, only to have it revoked a few years later do to a clerk's error in not publishing them on a list. It took the Samish 25 years and a fortune in lawyer's fees to get back on the list, and even then their rights guaranteed by treaty were only partially restored.

To read the indignities suffered by American tribes in government to government negotiations and transactions concerning the contractual liens incurred for the purpose of obtaining title to a continent would make Catch-22 seem almost straight forward by comparison; to see how little concern is given to finally establishing honorable relations is truly perplexing.

Monday, August 07, 2006


How to Help

As one of the premier online political learning houses in the US, we offer a lot of free stuff for humanitarians, scholars, activists, and journalists. For those who want to dig deeper, we offer our books as well as links to those of our esteemed colleagues. We don't pocket much on our paperback editions, but at least we know our work is being put to good use.

For those who'd actually like to support what we do, we offer all our books in an attractive hardcover Donor Edition.

For new guests, take a look around, and feel free to contact our publisher at the address listed in the weblog title above. We're here to communicate.



Indigenous Andean leaders from Mexico to Chile unite in opposition to Free Trade colonization by US.


Four Letter Word

Marx and Jesus together again. Join the discussion on work.

Friday, August 04, 2006


More Harm than Good

In April 2000, the UN Commission on Human Rights adopted a resolution to establish the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Three months later the UN Economic and Social Council endorsed the resolution and created the Permanent Forum as a high level advisory body to ECOSOC. The first meeting of the Forum was held in 2002.

At the May 2005 convening of the Permanent Forum, 1500 indigenous representatives gathered at UN Headquarters to focus on the Millenium Development Goals of eradicating poverty and to emphasize the need for development models needed by indigenous people. As one of these delegates observed, "the model of material wealth propagated by modern economies is not a model that can work in indigenous settings; it tends to bring more harm than good."


Taking the Lead

At the 1999 UN Development Programme workshop on indigenous peoples, Fourth World participants observed that as long as Western society doesn't understand their need to protect the environment from capital interests still exploiting their natural resources, no resolution on development is possible. To illustrate their common philosophy, indigenous representatives from around the world made presentations highlighting indigenous peoples' spirituality and the special relationship that exists between spirituality and the environment--the spirituality that makes indigenous peoples particular as a group.

The sacredness natural resources hold in their communities and the constant threat by government sponsored economic interests, they noted, is what motivated the indigenous movement to work in partnership with the UNDP, explaining to the international institution how to own things collectively, "because it is the owning and the becoming rich that has been destroying the earth for the last few hundred years."

In essence, the indigenous delegates observed, "it is an unbalanced world governed by greed. Development as it is known today has perpetrated this devastation." "There is," they insisted, "so much potential for creating alternative economies on a local level, and indigenous communities could take the lead."


Appreciate Success

Viktor Kaisiepo, my fellow associate scholar at the Center for World Indigenous Studies, discusses the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People.

Representing the indigenous peoples of Papua in Europe, the United States, and at the United Nations, since 2003 he has served as a consultant to the World Bank Grants Facility for Indigenous Peoples. Cultural Survival Quarterly Managing Editor Tara Tidwell spoke with Kaisiepo in May 2004 during the third session of the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.


Risky Business

Gabriel Kolko's recent article on the likelihood of a global financial meltdown like that seen previously in Asia, Argentina, and the Enron debacle, has the International Monetary Fund and World Bank crossing their fingers. But they're not counting on luck or law to save the deregulated world financial structure from what the world's second richest man called "financial weapons of mass destruction."

The fact of the matter is, given the global state of monetary piracy, regulating institutions that once provided some degree of stability have no idea what to do. Feral Scholar hosts a discussion:


Ways and Means

When Buffy Saint-Marie came into a windfall fortune as an anti-war folksinger forty years ago, she dumped it into a foundation for American Indian scholarships and K-12 Native American curriculum development and teacher training.

When John Kerry chose to take a dive on his electoral charade and pocket the ten or fifteen million of campaign contributions, I wonder what good deed he did with his windfall?

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Needless Neuroses

Optimism isn't required for happiness. Heck, some people are happy being cranky.

What I think tips the balance, though, is what is termed social exclusion--that no matter how hard they try, millions of Americans are lacking in opportunities to make meaningful human connections, be they economic, intellectual, or social. As a barometer of the state of our society, the fact we become more and more isolated as the need to resolve problems collectively increases exponentially, this paradox can literally drive people nuts.


Sheep to Slaughter

Imagine explaining American free speech cages to Lech Walesa, Gerry Adams, or Nelson Mandela without cracking a smile.

Hard not to picture Democrats stepping up into the cattle cars still trying to convince each other they're going on a state-sponsored picnic.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006



The final semester of my senior year at New College in San Francisco began eleven days after September 11, 2001. My professor, Ani Mander, set aside the planned lesson for the day to discuss the situation in America, where ten innocent immigrants had been murdered by vigilantes unable to contain their misguided rage.

As it turned out, there were others in the room who'd experienced war atrocities themselves. Amongst my fellow students were survivors of the Khmer Rouge death camps in Cambodia and the civil war in Ethiopia.

Nine months later--while I was in grad school--Ani passed away, and some time later I recalled she'd written a memoir of her childhood in Sarajevo and decided to read it. Since then, I made a promise to myself to see Sarajevo someday from the Jewish cemetery Ani described visiting on a trip ten years earlier.

A month ago I came across a weblog of photography from Sarajevo published by a woman who goes by the pseudonym of Seesaw, and was captured by the simple elegance of her work, having in the intervening four years since Ani's passing forgotten all about the cemetery story. Prompted by this tenuous connection, though, I dug through my files for the obituary from the June 22, 2002 San Francisco Chronicle.

In the article, Nanette Asimov noted that Ani had gathered key evidence that led an international tribunal to declare rape a war crime. "In the early 1990s," wrote Asimov, "Professor Mander traveled to what had been her native Yugoslavia. Her interviews with Bosnian rape victims were later used to transform the legal interpretation of that crime during war."

"Born in Yugoslavia five years before World War II,"Asimov continues, "Professor Mander fled the Nazis with her family at age 7 and hid for years on an island in the Adriatic Sea. When the Nazis threatened that hideout, the family wound its way through Europe and, in 1949, arrived on Ellis Island."

By chance, I had just finished reading a book by a Bosnian poet, and mentioned this to Seesaw in the following email: "I just read Sarajevo Blues by Semezdin Mehmedinovic who mentions the Jewish cemetery overlooking the city. My San Francisco professor who grew up in Sarajevo prior to the Nazi occupation went back to this cemetery before her passing in 2002. Her grandfather was once the head rabbi for the city. Maybe someday you can show us this place."

Seesaw sent this remarkable response:

Today, taking a second look at the title page to check the date of publication, I noticed Sarajevo Blues was published by City Lights Books in San Francisco.


Down the Drain

Wabanaki illustrates with a short story how gigantic US corporations, awash in huge profits, literally work to find ways of wasting surplus millions rather than become socially responsible with their wealth.

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