Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Main Mission

This editorial on the corruption run rampant in the US Department of Interior is perhaps accurate as far as it goes, but one shouldn't get the impression that the department -- or for that matter the entire federal government -- was ever anything but a system for stealing public resources and indigenous lands for the benefit of America's aristocracy. That always was and remains the main mission of the bureaucracy that day in and day out colludes with oil and gas companies to defraud the US Treasury, the American people, as well as Native Americans. Were it not so, we too -- like other countries -- could afford free national healthcare, public transportation, college education, electricity, Internet, phone and water for everyone.

Monday, December 29, 2008


Ostracizing America

As the US empire continues to disintegrate -- further ostracizing America from the rest of the world -- US relations with Latin America are mired in Cold War tactics, while everyone else has advanced. Nowhere exemplifies that more than Bolivia, where the first indigenous head of state in the world has deported CIA and DEA operatives attempting to overthrow his government in retaliation for nationalizing Bolivia's oil and gas resources.

In the post-war period, coups from Iran to Chile were everyday affairs for the CIA, ousting independent leaders to be replaced by US puppets under the rubric of fighting Communism. Today, everyone at the UN and EU knows that this bogus propaganda was a cover-up for preventing democracy anywhere it might threaten US control of natural resources.

Everyone at OAS and UNASUR knows the current US misbehavior in Bolivia mirrors its Cold War criminal conduct.

Friday, December 26, 2008


Salvation Slaughter

Bruce Wilson observes that the Salvation Army, operating on $2.6 billion/year, has gone over the top on conquering the world for Jesus. Recent alliances signal support for violent conquest of non-believers. Remember that next time you're tempted to drop a few coins in their kettle.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Justifying a Bloodbath

Dr. Dahlia Wasfi, an Iraqi-American, addressed the U.S. Congressional Progressive Caucus recently about the dire consequences of the American occupation of her home country. As Dr. Wasfi observed, the American killing field, funded by the U.S. Congress, is an ongoing project to benefit the American oil and war industries at the expense of innocent civilians. With the death count due to the US invasion now standing at 655,000 it is difficult to comprehend even blatantly corrupt members of Congress justifying such a bloodbath for Dick Cheney's investment portfolio alone.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


20 20 on Prop 8

Surina Khan of the Women's Foundation of California examines the mechanics of California's fundamentalist Christian Right electoral tactics and political strategy. While the Mormons took the heat for the Christian bigots Prop 8 success, Khan observes that the Catholic church played an even larger role, especially among the Latino population. Looking to the future, Khan notes that the vastly superior planning, organizing and fundraising made possible by the multi-ethnic Christian coalition of fundamentalists in California bodes ill for many progressive issues.


Starving Orcas

Mark Anderson of the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor, Washington writes about the plummeting orca population in the San Juan Islands. With brevity and clarity rarely encountered in environmental crises, Anderson demonstrates that the orcas are starving to death due to constant harassment from commercial whale watch operators. His suggestion?--watch from shore.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Mills Endures

Readers with long memories might recall the illustrious theater arts professor unjustly suspended by Western Washington University for allegedly breaking the faculty code of ethics. Those who followed earlier reports and exposes discovered that the whole circus surrounding Professor Perry Mills' suspension consisted of trumped up charges by the administration in retaliation for his whistle-blowing about embezzlement of student fees by his department heads.

While the cover-up, as usual, took on a sordid life of its own, Professor Mills' lawsuit against the university for violating his civil rights to due process steamed ahead. Now that everyone knows he was railroaded to protect higher ups from scrutiny, Professor Mills has been reinstated, albeit in an office outside the theater arts complex, and without his inclusion in the theater arts web page.

Naturally, after being banished for three years, Mills has gone from a nationally-distinguished professor in his field to a relatively unknown entity, no doubt a consequence of great satisfaction to those who framed the professor in order to cover their own shenanigans. Life, as the professor surely understands, is not fair, but perhaps the powers of the judiciary will in time see things differently than the scoundrels of academia, and restore the good professor to financial health if not the prestige he once wielded.


Lethal Concoction

Chris Rodda writes about the impact of fundamentalist Christian religious predators in the US Department of Defense. Now awash with evangelizing mercenaries, the US armed forces are playing dual roles, mixing missions of church and state into a lethal concoction sure to explode in their (and our) faces. Creating a Christian crusade in Afghanistan and Iraq, as Rodda notes, is probably the worst thing the Pentagon could do to protect American military personnel (and civilians) from righteous retribution, in both occupied Muslim countries and elsewhere.

Monday, December 22, 2008


Limits of the Planet

Like the Hopi and Navajo, the Mapuche Indians of Chile are caught in a crossfire by government agencies beholden to the energy industry. Like their North American indigenous brethren, their irreplaceable vital resources like pristine fresh water are wantonly sacrificed by backward technologies such as coal-fired thermoelectric plants. US and European corporations caught up in the insatiable industrial economic model -- inherently unable to extricate themselves from the wasteful ways of privatized capital -- are throughout the Americas encountering a more sophisticated resistance from tribal conservation economies; the limits of the planet and humanity just can't take any more.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Reversing Termination

Native America notes that the Klamath tribes will soon begin restoring part of their former reservation stolen by the US Department of Interior in the 1950s. Klamath elders observe that this will help in healing the community trauma from ethnic cleansing under the Termination era.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Bolivian Barter

Inter Press Service looks at the informal economy of Bolivia's Aymara tribe, a system that has endured empires, colonialists, corporations, and now flourishes under the administration of Bolivia's Aymaran President, Evo Morales.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Kill the Monster

The extended Quaker campaign to protect American youth from being shanghaied by the military is good as far as it goes, but the whole arms industry needs to be taken on frontally as the evil it is if we're ever going to kill the monster. Of course, just talking to kids about options to becoming mercenaries in exchange for a two-bit college education will probably land the Friends activists on Obama's enemies list. Still, if we're serious about preventing suicides by returning veterans, the only way to head it off is to shame Americans into renouncing militarism from top to bottom.


Words Fail

Barack Obama has selected the homophobic, anti-abortion pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at his presidential inauguration.


What Purpose?

In light of the ongoing murders of Indigenous leaders by the Colombian army, one has to wonder what purpose the UN Human Rights Council serves. If the UN cannot investigate or intervene where atrocities are committed because they are funded or otherwise supported by the United States, then the HRC is a sham. If Americans cannot muster energy to force their own government to disinvest in murderous regimes, then America is a sham.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Shocking Report

Amnesty International has released a report documenting 334 deaths since 2001 in the United States from electro-shock weapons used by police. Also known as Tasers, the weapons -- deployed against civilians for such activities as exercising free speech -- have been used indiscriminately on children, the elderly, and even pregnant women. In nine out of ten cases, those killed by police Tasers have been unarmed.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Message of Resistance

Harry Britt's keynote speech at the Harvey Milk Memorial on the steps of San Francisco City Hall recently reminded me of the courage needed to endure political violence, and the fortitude required to carry on when life goes from bad to worse. In a 2002 interview as candidate for the California State Assembly, Britt remarked on the importance of making the status quo uncomfortable for the privileged in order to make progress toward equality. Watching his former opponent Nancy Pelosi pandering to the powerful while millions of us struggle to survive, it is good to know there are Harry Britts in this world, keeping the message of resistance alive.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Autonomy as a Value

I was reading an article on Zapatista autonomous centers, and I thought about the social centers of Italy and Argentina, where marginalized people give and receive services in health and education neglected by the state and market. While organizing self-help by and for those excluded from employment, healthcare, and education in market economies is not entirely new, it is a relatively new concept in the United States, where mostly religious charities have attempted but fallen far short of filling the gap.

Similar to the direct action concept employed in battling the globalization of poverty, the autonomous zone movement circumvents the ineffective conventional philanthropic system, directing resources to those in need without the parasitic intercession of professional poverty pimps.

As a rejection of the entrenched system of philanthropic paternalism and official corruption that maintains poverty worldwide, autonomy as a value provides the opportunity to struggle with dignity, while at the same time acquiring skills and resources needed to survive and endure the breakdown of modern states.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Maintaining Inequality

A lot of effort and expense goes into maintaining inequality in the world. Heaven knows it's not easy keeping the aristocracy in ermine while the rest of us live in cardboard boxes.

Yet, Congress is still doing it's best to take the food off our plates and the clothes off our backs. Pelosi, Obama and the rest of them are busy making sure no profiteer is prosecuted, no con left behind.

Meanwhile, in the international arena, the World Bank and other UN agencies are stacking the deck on carbon market trading to make certain the transnational corporations that already robbed us once get another shot at us. From the looks of it, the IMF massacres of the 1990s were just a warm-up exercise.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Interior Racket

As Tom Goldtooth remarked in an August 2007 address, the federal racketeering taking place within the U.S. Department of the Interior needs to come to an end. Collusion between Interior and oil and gas companies to steal resources from federal lands, exposed in federal court by Cobell v Kempthorne, is an entrenched criminal enterprise that deprives millions of Americans of their basic needs.

While Cobell focused on the royalties stolen from Indian Trust beneficiaries, the royalties stolen from the US Treasury by Interior Secretaries, like Gale Norton and James Watt, could have been used for such things as health and education for all Americans.

While Pentagon profiteering rightly makes headline news now and then, the 24/7 larceny taking place at Interior -- right under the nose of Congress -- is a scandal so colossal that no politician will even mention it. Next time you wonder why Americans don't have free college and health care like Norway, or free phone and electricity like Bolivia -- all paid for by those countries' oil and gas royalties -- you'll know it's because American lawmakers are just too corrupt.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Environmental Ethics

Tomorrow, in Poznan, Poland, Tom Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network will address the UN climate talks on behalf of the Indigenous Caucus, gathered there to shed light on the failure of the UN and its member states. Last Spring, Mr. Goldtooth spoke in New York about bringing the indigenous message to the world. Addressing a gathering of grassroots groups, he emphasized using indigenous peoples' traditional knowledge as a tool to leverage environmental ethics in the global struggle against market economics. Listen in.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


First Nations Experts

Inter Press Service reports from Poland on the World Bank's efforts to ram their plan for forests through The UN System. Indigenous observers, caucusing on behalf of a non-market response to climate change, point out that market-based solutions have only made things worse. The governments of Bolivia and Denmark suggest the UN member states could learn something about conservation from First Nations experts.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Growing Pains

In his 1996 treatise Tribes, Institutions, Markets, Networks, RAND analyst David Ronfeldt proposed a framework about societal evolution that viewed the conflict between these primary forms of social organization as something akin to growing pains. Each form, having come about to accommodate human needs or desires, had to adapt to the others as they themselves evolved as a result of both conflictual and cooperative dynamics.

In 2001, Ronfeldt and his associate John Arquilla extended this proposition in a paper titled Networks and Netwars and the Fight for the Future, which compared and contrasted the maneuverability of these varied forms in modern civil society conflicts. Involving the use of psychological warfare, this maneuverability is enhanced by improvements in communications technology as well as new sociological doctrine, strategy and tactics. Netwar in the Emerald City, by their colleague Paul de Armond at Public Good Project, illustrated their theories relative to the 1999 WTO Ministerial fracas, commonly known as The Battle in Seattle.

At the UN climate talks this week in Poznan, Poland, the four social forces delineated by Ronfeldt met on the field of ideological battle, in what might be called a preliminary infosphere skirmish, as prelude to the December 2009 UN Climate Change Conference to be held in Copenhagen. Excluded from participating in the talks themselves, tribal delegates from around the world arrived to observe the institutional negotiations (based on market assumptions), to voice objections to their exclusion, as well as to offer their unique perspective as an indigenous caucus.

Loosely allied with the World Indigenous Movement, whose delegates descended on Poznan, is the network of non-indigenous activists involved in environmental restoration, human rights advocacy, and pro-democracy organizing. Considered distinct issues by the institutions meeting in Poland, the connectivity of these values is consolidated in the tribal worldview under the law of generosity, often noted as comprising conservation, cooperation, and reciprocity.

In the opening section of the Albion Monitor article Black Flag Over Seattle, Mr. de Armond remarked that plans of battle evaporate with the first foray onto the battlefield. Given that the opposing forces mustering around the climate change arena hold diametrically opposed views of how nature, life and humanity should be conducted, it seems inevitable that without a change of heart by institutional and market actors in this supreme human drama, the outcome of the presently myopic negotiations is doomed from the outset. What the more visionary, wholistic non-participants can achieve, depends on their ability to outmaneuver their less-evolved opponents.

Monday, December 08, 2008


Caucusing in Poznan

Indigenous climate change delegates, closed out of UN talks in Poland, meet as a caucus in Poznan to prepare for the Copenhagen conference one year from now. Calling on Bolivia's indigenous president Evo Morales to be the voice of the Fourth World, aboriginal representatives have received a warm welcome from the government of Denmark, a welcome in stark contrast to rude rebuffs by the United States.


Market Myopia

Our friend and colleague, Rudolph Ryser, writes from the UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland. As part of an indigenous observer delegation from North America, Dr. Ryser notes that the conference officials have made a false assumption to begin with--that market incentives can fix what the market created. Instead, he argues, leadership on adapting to climate change can only come from the world's indigenous nations, who still hold inherent title to the forests and oceans currently being destroyed by market myopia.

Sunday, December 07, 2008


Collaborative Learning

In Learning by Blogging, Earth News looks at the collaborative learning environment enhanced by blog platforms. As many readers already know, they are particularly well-adapted to international and otherwise dispersed networks. Now they are being used to broaden the scope and perspective of mainstream academia.

Saturday, December 06, 2008


Absence of Decorum

As Ken Silverstein at Harper's notes, there's more than one way to rob the U.S. Treasury. For those with the wherewithal to open secret Swiss bank accounts, tax evasion is perhaps a less conspicuous form of fraud than cooking the books on Wall Street.

But, alas, as we know all too well, the money-laundering racket goes much smoother when helped along by Congressional oversight committees. Still, you'd think a few of our elected officials would have the good sense not to take campaign contributions from the crooks they're investigating.

Unfortunately, that no longer seems to be the case.

Friday, December 05, 2008


Shortchanging Change

Goldman Sachs’ golden boy has now removed one of his top campaign promises from his website. The windfall profits tax on oil companies, promised often by the Obama campaign as a means for providing energy assistance to poor Americans, disappeared from Obama’s website four days after he became the President-Elect. Maybe Goldman Sachs’ colossal holdings in oil had something to do with it.


Society So Askew

One of the reasons Americans invest so much in hope that their dreams will be fulfilled by Wall Street water boys, is the invisibility of authentic leadership for change. It exists, mind you, in almost every community, but is denied access to resources by career poseurs who court the cult philanthropique, and is thus marginalized from the mainstream milieu.

Without resources, authentic leadership is unable to build sustainable infrastructure, and continuity is largely hit and miss.

Under these circumstances, authentic leadership is relegated to preventing mischief by the corporate chosen, occasionally scoring popular victories over the perpetual felons and criminally insane that populate the political parties of power. Operating in a society so askew, who can blame them for enjoying a little sabotage now and then?

Thursday, December 04, 2008


Working Against the System

Abolishing slavery is an easy position to take: pass some laws, and sent out the cops; any politician can do it. Abolishing poverty -- the desperate condition that makes slavery possible -- is another matter.

Abolishing poverty entails challenging the system of power that creates sweatshops and brothels where slavery flourishes. Challenging the institutions and markets that protect the powerful is not as easy as running promotional campaigns that generate big emotions and little change.

The poverty that drives the deprived into prostitution, for instance, is partly the result of intentionally-created disparities between societies, and partly the consequence of internal disparities--all supported by the institutions and markets benefiting from the arrangement. Human rights parasites -- those who promote themselves and their organizations to the detriment of the movement -- ignore the engines of exclusion, allying themselves with official foreign policy sanctions against such things as human trafficking, while ignoring domestic policy that is contrary to the human rights they champion.

Poverty is not an accident. Pretending it is, in order to please powerful philanthropists who bankroll high profile campaigns to distract us from their role in creating poverty, only perpetuates the system.

Authentic activists do not have the luxury of choosing to support only what is permitted by the powerful; they are, after all, working against the system.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Dangerous Undercurrents

American News Project looks at the dangerous undercurrents of white supremacy. For more on violent actors of the anti-democratic movement, see Putting the Far Right into Perspective by Paul de Armond.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Divide and Conquer

One of the facts about British Columbia you're not likely to hear in the 2010 Winter Olympics promotion is that the land being developed for the games does not belong to Canada. It in fact still belongs to the First Nations of the region, and is currently in dispute at international bodies like the Organization of American States.

Indeed, the lack of valid title to so much of the country has compelled the Canadian government to hastily negotiate treaties with tribes, often offering bribes to more compliant, non-traditional leaders and other members of the largely impoverished indigenous communities. Divide and conquer.

The rift created by colonialism and perpetuated by greed is not a new phenomenon, but the scale of the conflict in the era of newly-recognized, international indigenous rights represents a new opportunity to reconcile the inequality that still exists. But reconciliation can only take place in an atmosphere uncharged by boosterism bolstered by bigotry, and that necessitates a pause for reflection on the qualities of respectful relations--something that has yet to transpire.

Monday, December 01, 2008


Sociopathic State

Northern Irish Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire spoke recently in Jerusalem about the need for the UN to suspend Israel from its memberships for non-compliance with the Geneva Conventions. Maguire also chastised the EU for failing to fund humanitarian aid to Palestine, and the US for pouring $10 million/day of military support into Israel.

Observing just how far the sociopathic Israeli state has strayed from international norms on human rights, Maguire cited the current exhumation of an entire Muslim cemetery in West Jerusalem for the purpose of building a Museum of Tolerance.

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