Saturday, November 29, 2008


Puppet Palliative

Giving Obama the benefit of the doubt gets tougher with each passing day. His tapping of crooked spooks for intelligence wraps up a week where he handed responsibility for economics to the thieves who engineered the fiasco in the first place. Even as a Wall Street puppet, Obama is going to find that recreating the Clinton bubble is well nigh impossible when there's so little left to fleece.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Rewarding Failure

As part of its coverage of rewarding failure, Real News looks at Obama's selection of Clintonistas who created the current crisis to head up his economic team. Obama, who has himself failed to speak out against the financial sector racketeering, is proving to be less a leader than a Wall Street puppet. How he can inspire hope for change while consolidating the corrupt practices of the past is beyond us.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Recurring Problem

Networks -- relatively unresourced, and thus somewhat unsustainable as a political force -- rely more on strategic communication to influence mass consciousness in conflict with institutions and markets. This may be because they have less weapons in their overall arsenal, but I find institutions and markets get away with some pretty sloppy psychological warfare, largely because they have so much ability to overwhelm, given giant financial reserves. Carpet-bombing rather than precision targeting, if you will.

Networks, of course, can tap a greater diversity, which is a strength, but the lack of continuity through mentoring is a recurring problem. Nine years down the road from the Battle in Seattle, pro-democracy networks have diminished rather than expanded, due in part to no means for consolidating intermittent gains.

If we had learning centers to share skills and lessons learned, civil society activists wouldn't have to keep making the same mistakes over again.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Cooperation and Reciprocity

Upsetting the colonial mythology of a generous America, righteous in spirit and conduct, is all the more disturbing because so little is taught about the historical reality in public schools. Even less is taught about the reality of the present.

Non-indigenous Americans need to know there is another choice besides ignorance and resentment. Some learning takes place in mutual conservation efforts, but healing wounded spirits requires cooperation and reciprocity.

Knowing what gifts have been made helps in forming an awareness of what one should give in return.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Inuit Will Attend

Inuit Circumpolar Council will be observers at the Poznan, Poland UN talks on climate change next month. Meanwhile, efforts by the Center for World Indigenous Studies are continuing toward making a place at the table for indigenous representatives at the major UN climate change conference in Copenhagen a year from now. The United States has been a consistent opponent of indigenous peoples' participation in international affairs, and will likely join China in trying to prevent their inclusion.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Subverting Spectacle

Perpetuating systematic fraud on the scale of the US government requires active support by academia, media, and commerce. Indoctrination through education, information and advertising thus bolster official propaganda in a circular reinforcement of the distorted world view required for institutionalized fraud to continue unchallenged.

As a closed loop system designed to prevent penetration of independent ideas, perspectives or analysis, this totalitarian cover-up of crimes against humanity -- exercised to sustain the system -- remains all-encompassing until some unmediated event or thought breaks through. And when that happens, all sectors of the loop scramble to attack the intruder, rapidly responding to explain away the cognitive dissonance introduced by the momentary glimpse of reality.

Producing fantasy in Hollywood and Washington is by now such a prescribed art, that the psychological warfare conducted 24/7 against the minds of all Americans has become child's play. Few even question their fantasies as such.

Competing with this systematic deception by following the rules established by and for the high criminals themselves is ridiculous; that is why Guy DeBord and Kalle Lasn urged subverting spectacle and jamming culture as crucial to free thought. Just offering an alternative point of view is not enough.

Given the total war attitude of those attempting to maintain their unearned privileges obtained by the supreme fraud, we who are not governing authorities can set aside for the time being any notions of diplomacy and concentrate on winning the war. There will be plenty of time to negotiate when we have the strength to make our threat to autocracy real.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Idiot's Delight

A quick perusal of the official US State Department blog reveals it to be an idiot's delight. No surprise there, but as independent scholars of international relations and human rights have long known, US educational institutions and think tanks continually turn these "experts" out of said ideological factories like cookie-cutters. While it's not surprising to find mindless indoctrination the norm in government and academia, it's still amazing that what passes for national intelligence operates largely on an elementary school level of intellect.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Inherent Moral Authority

UN climate change conferences could benefit from indigenous participation, but their traditional knowledge comes with a price, and that price is respect. And respect of indigenous values, while given lip service by modern states, is not an area the UN or its member states want to get into while discussing adaptation to climate change caused by their industrial societies.

Indigenous values come with inherent moral authority that nation-states and state-centric international institutions cannot avoid if confronted by indigenous delegates, so the standard solution is to exclude indigenous representatives from international proceedings. Not a wise choice, but better for public relations.

But indigenous peoples have a lot of experience with exclusionary measures devised by modern states, and, armed with access to unmediated global communication, they are prepared to kick the door in, like it or not. Patronized by UN bromides of brotherhood for two decades now, the indigenous movement is ready to exercise its moral authority in ways yet unseen; the gatekeepers of power won't know what hit them.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Plains Pitch

Due to the early blizzards in the Dakotas, we're making our annual Christmas pitch now for Changing Winds clothing and heating fuel drive for the remote Indian reservations there. You know what to do.


Step Into the Fray

All the treaties between the United States and Indian tribes are binding international agreements, yet international institutions formed to serve modern states and media international disputes require that original nations like Indian tribes in the Americas first exhaust remedies established by and for the states within which they exist--an inherent conflict of interest. Nevertheless, that remedy has long been exhausted throughout the Americas, especially in Canada and the US, and the time has come for international bodies to step into the fray.

Indeed, some have already condemned nation-states of the Americas for institutional racism and other violations of international human rights law. With the evidence of genocide and ethnic cleansing practiced by these states over the last century alone, judgments by international courts and commissions are bound to follow, but what will these entail in terms of enforceable remedies?

Judging by the hostile response of Canada, Mexico and the US to exposure of crimes against humanity by agents of their respective federal governments, we can only expect continued official harassment of whistle-blowers and active suppression of this sordid story. So where does that leave us in implementing a 21st century human rights regime? How do we get to truth and reconciliation? How do we remedy past injustice and prevent its recurrence in the future? What can we achieve in the present?

Given the ongoing betrayal of treaties and trust agreements throughout North America, it is not surprising that some tribes in Canada are mirroring those of Oaxaca, Mexico through the use of direct action to bring the unsatisfactory situation to international attention. Over the last year, highways and railroad lines have been blockaded by First Nations in British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario. Meanwhile, the Blackfeet of Montana proved systematic embezzlement of American Indian resource royalties by the US Department of Interior only to have a federal court tell them, "So what".

Indigenous tribes of Bolivia now have a government that acknowledges and supports their inherent rights as aboriginal peoples, and is finally using that country's assets to benefit them. In fact, they are directly involved in revising Bolivia's constitution, as well as in official acts to redistribute the wealth that was originally theirs alone. Indeed, the entire process of governance is being democratized in ways corporate-controlled Americans can hardly imagine.

But Bolivians were not handed this power over their lives by the landed aristocracy or the US corporations that helped them steal the indigenous wealth in the past. Rather, it was the indigenous people themselves who decided they'd had enough, and took to the streets to put an end to the infamy that plagued their lands.

North American Indians are not in a numerically strong position as the indigenous of Bolivia are, but they are in a morally and legally superior position to the states of Canada, Mexico and the US, and in the end that is likely to be the key to victory over corporate autocracy and official corruption. They will, no doubt, need some help from mainstream civil society to implement economic security and environmental sanity, but the leadership on human equality is theirs to take, and they are apparently headed in that direction. It now remains for the rest of us to decide whose side we are on; fence-sitting is going to become increasingly hard to pull off with a clear conscience.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Model of Hope

Evo Morales spoke yesterday at the Organization of American States about the democratic changes taking place in Bolivia and Latin America that provide a model of hope for humanity.


A Profound Difference

Evo Morales met yesterday with indigenous leaders of North America at the National Museum of the American Indian. Contrasting the legitimacy and authenticity of indigenous leadership with that of non-indigenous leaders, Bolivia's president said that, "In indigenous culture, equality is sacred. It’s a profound difference between our model life in indigenous communities and the model of life put forward by a capitalist society".

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Where's Harry?

San Francisco Bay Guardian asks, "Where's Harry?" According to San Francisco Supervisor Tom Ammiano, the main man pulling the city's gay community together when Harvey Milk was assassinated was Harry Britt. Yet Britt doesn't appear in the new feature film Milk.

Britt doesn't seem concerned.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Sami Sound

Sami recording artist Mari Boine sings rock joik music from Lappland.


Staying the Course

Illustrating the principle of subsidiarity, Sinn Fein and the DUP have reached a deal on the devolution of policing and justice powers from Westminster to Belfast. The creation of a Department of Justice in, by and for the people of Northern Ireland is a key element of continued stability and cooperation between the indigenous Irish and British settlers. The Irish and British governments both support the deal.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Call and Response

Justice is what love looks like in public.

--Cornell West

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Delivery of Justice

The Chief Justice of India has released a resource book on the legal framework for dealing with human trafficking. The book is intended to aid law enforcement officials in better understanding their role in the human rights issue.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


A Future Without Hope

WNET New York's Wide Angle looks at the Iraqi Exodus. Neglected by the US and recruited by fundamentalists, the children of this exodus and their families face a future without hope. At two million refugees in Syria and Jordan, and growing daily, their presence poses humanitarian crises in the present, and perhaps more disturbingly, stability consequences for the future.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Put On Notice

Indigenous peoples challenge new Canadian government over sovereignty. Harper put on notice.


Indigenous Rights

The National Congress of American Indians is seeking support from the Organization of American States to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the United States. Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States were the only four countries in the world voting against the 2007 UN declaration.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Latter Day Saints?

Real News looks at Prop 8, the Mormon-sponsored, California initiative to deprive homosexuals of equal rights.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


A Possible Opening

Political analyst Forrest Hylton discusses a possible opening for improvement in relations between the US and Latin America. An improvement that could emphasize social development rather than military intervention.



It wouldn't be the first time organized labor got into bed with organized crime, but the unions licking their chops to get a piece of the action from prostitution might be biting off more than they can chew. Taking a lesson from the SEIU nursing home scandal a few years back, CLUW and other AFL-CIO affiliates might want to think twice about the blowback -- let alone ethics -- of making their bed with the capos.

If for no other reason, at some point the membership of San Francisco's labor union women in the hotel and restaurant service industries, for example, might take issue with union bosses using their dues to lobby for legalizing an industry that traffics other immigrant women of color (and girls) to be held in bondage as prostitutes. While it may be a lucrative attraction for bolstering union coffers, the morality of unions abetting crimes against humanity, in the city where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed, somehow seems out of synch.

San Francisco's working women might want to talk about that.

Sunday, November 09, 2008



Politics is about relationships. Relationships can be honest, respectful, cooperative, and reciprocal. Or they can be the opposite.

On all issues of major import -- both foreign and domestic -- relationships have been the latter. As such, nothing can be positively resolved until the relationships are altered, and altered 180 degrees.

Tyrannical governments prefer foreign policies of belligerence, because war is easier than negotiation. They also like elitism at home for similar reasons. Our job is to make those choices more painful than doing the right thing. Whether Americans are up to it is another matter.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


A Human Rights Plan

Amnesty International recommendations to the Chilean president include ending discrimination against indigenous peoples and the development of a human rights plan for the country. These recommendations could easily be applied to the three nation-states of North America as well.

Friday, November 07, 2008


Dead on Arrival

San Francisco's Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein explain why the promises made by Democrats during the campaign are DOA.


Low Expectations

Political analyst David Swanson explains to Real News why high expectations from an Obama presidency are unrealistic. According to the noted anti-war activist and pro-impeachment organizer, Obama's first two choices -- Biden and Emanuel -- spell disaster.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


More of the Same

Gift Hub's article Illusion of Democracy is a sobering counterpoint to the nonsensical promotion of the US election as a "vindication of representative democracy". Obama may inspire hope in those desperate for change, but he is still a tool of those determined to change little. That is why Obama joined McCain in making sure no challenge to the corporate message was heard during the debates. That is why Obama raised no objection to police silencing dissent in the streets of his party's national convention. That is why Obama refused to meet with Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Obama and Congress will not close our military bases in half the countries on earth in order to provide health care for all Americans, nor will they stop Wall Street from looting the US Treasury so all Americans can pursue higher education without going into debt. They will not invest in first rate public transportation, maternity leave, social security or full employment either. What they will do is make it yet harder to fight to gain these human rights.

Being grateful that the criminally insane failed to take over the White House doesn't mean it's time to rest on our laurels, unless more of the same seems good enough.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Fire in the Belly

Real News interviews Ralph Nader about changing our reality. Check out the November 5th movement.


Out of the Box

March Point, the award-winning documentary film by three Swinomish Indian teens, airs November 18 on PBS.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Endure and Engage

Conflict is a much misunderstood concept. Put simply, conflict is disagreement. Disagreement can be about how or whether to solve a problem. Disagreement can be resolved by discussion, cooperation and reciprocity. It can also be resolved by force.

No conflict means that no disagreement is allowed. That is totalitarianism, not democracy.

Some progressives only want to rule, not negotiate. They are anti-democratic. All theocrats are anti-democratic by definition. Given the degree of disagreement we have in our country, there is not now nor ever likely to be a post-conflict situation about anything important. That is the political reality we endure and hopefully engage.

Monday, November 03, 2008


Commitment to Injustice

Furthering its commitment to injustice, the US Department of Justice blocked the release of admittedly innocent Uyghur prisoners held in Guantanamo. Defying a federal judge's order to release the men, the action by DOJ could mean life in prison, even though everyone admits there is no evidence they ever committed any crime. I guess that's what the US Attorney General considers standing on principle.


Side Effects

I was attempting to limit my focus on San Francisco's Prop K to the influence of organized crime on a community where trafficking in prostitution is allowed to run rampant, but the endorsement of Prop K by the San Francisco Democratic Party led me to look into how side effects of trafficking (like racketeering) can corrupt more than morals. While I doubt that the SFDP will post "SF Dems Welcome Organized Crime" on the marquee at their convention, the fact that the city hosts a lot of conventions from which the party gets donations through the still strong local unions, is enough of a connection to not rule it out. Fog City may not be able to compete with Las Vegas in recruiting criminal enterprise to service tourists and conventioneers, but then, why would they want to? Unless the Democrats figure a piece of the action is worth a few thousand adolescent immigrant girls living in slavery in their city.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Communicating Consciousness

In this article about sustainable living, Indian Country Today looks at such things as sacred site preservation on federal lands.

Torn between revealing secret sacred practices to US courts and seeking support in international human rights regimes, the Indigenous Environmental Network and numerous tribes are building alliances with the mainstream environmental movement. That doesn't necessarily make their work any easier in persuading white judges to respect indigenous religious customs, but it does make it more difficult to marginalize them.

Wrestling with religion in America is a challenge at best; communicating consciousness across cosmologies requires a commitment to creating effective dialogue under duress.

Saturday, November 01, 2008


Salmon People

The American Carver, a documentary feature film about Lummi carver Jewell James, debuts at the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco, Sunday, November 9. In the early 1970s, I worked alongside Jewell's father and brother harvesting salmon in the Salish Sea between Vancouver Island and the Cascade Mountains. Jewell is also a fellow associate of the Center for World Indigenous Studies in Olympia, Washington.


The Righteous Racist

Kathryn Joyce, Esther Kaplan and Sunsara Taylor discuss Sarah Palin, white supremacy and Christian fascism in the United States.


Doing the Right Thing

In this trailer from Rocking the Boat, Studs Terkel describes the unending battle of fighting fascism in America. Terkel's friends Stetson Kennedy, Hazel Wolf and Jessie de la Cruz reflect on the rewards of doing the right thing.

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