Monday, November 30, 2009


Age of Lawlessness

Brazilian cattle ranchers, brazenly bulldozing a UNESCO biosphere reserve in Paraguay, are clearly operating outside the law. The question is, will anyone stop them?

Friday, November 27, 2009


The Pursuit of Progress

A recurring tool of justification for making war on third and fourth world societies is the promotion of backward practices of tribal peoples toward women. Sometimes the assertions are true, sometimes they are not, but mostly they reflect an arrogance of the first world based largely on ignorance of either history or politics. At worst, the accusations are part of a pattern of psychological warfare aimed at undermining third world independence and fourth world sovereignty.

In critiquing the fourth world, one has to be careful not to create the impression that patriarchal traditions are a customary practice of all indigenous peoples, or that because of gender role practices assumed to be backward by modern states, that indigenous systems of law and order are justifiably abolished in the pursuit of progress. Indigenous societies have not been untouched by the prejudices of colonial powers, any more than they have by corporate invasions. While, like us, they have their problems, they did not create such things as global warming or nuclear war. As such, a little humility on our part might be warranted when criticizing them.

Still, when we read about gender discrimination in tribal societies or indigenous cultures somewhere in the world, it is good to first ask ourselves how much we really understand about their world, and whether the news outlet we obtain this information from is a reliable and knowledgeable source on the subject. Chances are that our education and media integrity will also be found lacking.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009



Dreamtime or The Dreaming is a network of knowledge that informs all aspects of Australian Aboriginal life. The Dreaming establishes structures of society, rules for social behavior, and ceremonies to ensure the continuity of life and land.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Catching Up

The project I’ve been working on since 2003 is to engage emerging and established thought leaders in discussions that might lead to sustained, structured analysis of the public health model of civic participation. What I called Communicating Social Transformation in my academic thesis.

Having begun my own blog in 2005, I was able to expand on the comments and conversations I had with people during the previous two years, at various blogs and news sites, on such topics as using research as an organizing tool. The organization of the Skookum sidebar reflects that effort. My subsequent work with the Center for World Indigenous Studies, as well as the Public Good Project, demonstrate what that means.

More recently, I wrote a narrative for a CWIS cinematic documentary proposal to Sundance Institute, but we were not successful in securing any funds. The history of the World Indigenous Peoples’ Movement and specific aspects of that struggle remain viable topics for both cinema and broadcast television, but we aren’t quite there yet. Indigenous-produced media is still restricted to film festivals with occasional exposure on public television, rarely getting into what sovereignty and self-determination are all about.

That will change, and when that wall falls, all hell will break loose. In the meantime, corresponding with people who are key to making that opportunity happen is a regular part of my correspondence. Since many of these people are not indigenous, building their awareness, which in turn serves to motivate commitment, is a step in the process that can’t be bypassed.

My guess is that we will eventually see something akin to the 1960s culture shock over race, environment, gender, and religion. Only this time, the culture shock will bring all of this together in support of the human right to choose a way of life consistent with indigenous or hippie values that reject state and market control. It’s a big step, and it will be chaotic — particularly given the economic panic and religious hysteria that accompany environmental catastrophe — but being intellectually prepared might help.

Monday, November 23, 2009


AIM 40

Indians of All Tribes gathered to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the occupation of Alcatraz, a milestone in the Civil Rights Movement.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Te Ata Tino Toa

Te Ata Tino Toa, a Maori activist collective, is sponsoring a Social and Climate Justice Caravan to drive from Geneva to Copenhagen, December 3-9. Aimed at promoting awareness of the annihilation of indigenous peoples through globalization, Free Trade and market-based solutions to climate change, the caravan will stop in cities like Paris and Frankfurt to recruit and mobilize friends to accompany them.


The Battle Continues

The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle, a new book by David and Rebecca Solnit, includes excerpts from an interview with Public Good Project's former research director Paul de Armond. We haven't seen the book yet, but thought readers might like to know. David Solnit was an organizer for Direct Action Network during the November 1999 Battle in Seattle; his sister Rebecca is a San Francisco based author, a contributing editor to Harper's magazine, and a friend of Zapatismo.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Derailed and Delayed

As Rudolph Ryser notes in his encapsulation of the UN climate change treaty process, one of the largest obstacles to an international treaty aimed at reducing pollution and developing survival mechanisms is also the largest single generator of carbon emissions--the United States.

As one of only four countries in the world to vote against the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the role of blocking progress on environmental sanity in international law is remarkably consistent with America's role in obstructing human rights. When one examines the numerous international initiatives derailed and delayed by the United States -- such as the rights of children, the right to food, or the banning of landmines -- a picture begins to develop of a country whose words don't match its deeds. Indeed, the demonstrable hypocrisy and hubris of the United States is unmatched, and points up the need -- as Dr. Ryser observes -- for indigenous peoples and their friends to act on their own.

One glance at the unreliability of America's government -- over the last half century alone -- in advancing world peace, economic security or sustainable ways of life, should be enough to exclude the US from any leadership role; the key now is to reduce its ability to continue derailing and delaying these essential global initiatives.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Anti-War Then and Now

Figuring Veterans for Peace and others had it covered, I passed on posting anything about Veteran's Day last week. Then, today, I chanced on a post from September 2008 that seems as apropos now as it did then. A Moral Imperative kind of sums up where we are at the end of Obama's first year, as much as it did in Bush's last.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Application to Destroy

In uncharacteristically forthright language, a German mining corporation has applied to the Australian Department of Indigenous Affairs for approval to destroy aboriginal sacred sites and archeological artifacts of the Nyoongar people. Petroglyphs, ancient shelters and ceremonial grounds, pure streams, and dreaming sites are some of the cultural items slated for destruction by the cement manufacturer.

To counter the Nyoongar elders' claims, the corporation has hired an overtly racist anthropologist to dispute the legitimacy of Nyoongar knowledge, identity and culture.


Foxy News

I generally avoid the banter about Rupert Murdoch's Fox News or Reverend Moon's Washington Times or Lyndon LaRouche's Executive Intelligence Review. After all, in a free press, even the insane can have their say. But this item about Fox promoting 2008 presidential campaign video clips as though they were live shots from Palin book rallies was just too good to pass up.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Flash Freeze

New information about the history of ice ages, their catalysts and consequences.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Small Justice

Jesuit institutions in the Pacific Northwest brace themselves for imminent legal battles over restitution to Native American victims of sexual abuse at Indian boarding schools.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Fighting Obama

As the Obama Department of Justice attempts to intimidate independent media in the US, it is important for independent media producers to know their legal rights, and more importantly, to get legal advice before communicating with federal officials.


Partners in Crime

In part one of War Made Easy, Norman Solomon examines how American media and government collude in clouding reality.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Cannabis 2010

The California campaign begins.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Mirror Images

Now that progressives have run out of excuses for Obama's betrayal of trust, we might be able to examine the phenomenon that produced both Barack Obama and Condoleeza Rice as political icons. It's really not that difficult when one is willing to look at their mirror images; riding the wave of affirmative action through elitist institutions of higher education, Barack and Condi sold their souls to corporate America, and were then fast-tracked to political stardom. When all is said and done, token Black icons are not a new phenomenon, phony Nobels notwithstanding.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Corrupt by Design

Whether one views American government as corrupt by design or by accident has more to do with political illiteracy than self-interest. Watching American voters habitually fawn over celebrities like California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, or cult figures like US president Barack Obama, is a portentous reminder that citizenship is as endangered a phenomenon as leadership. As a system for fleecing the gullible and complacent, our government may have no equal, but as a model for social harmony, it is sorely lacking. One can always, of course, find failed states to use as examples of what we're thankful we haven't yet become, but as social services and communal values are savaged by politicians like Arnold and Barack, that psychological exercise offers little comfort. Without a radical change in direction, our future is Somalia.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Obama Silencing Dissent

Obama regime fights for the government's right to spy on American citizens. CIA/NSA programs aimed at building dossiers on dissidents in the US and UK are developing new facilities to monitor all communications by pro-democracy, anti-war activists and intellectuals.


Freedom Archives

The Freedom Archives on Valencia celebrates ten years.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Disconnecting Endeavor

John Robb looks at infrastructure systems disruption as a means of gaining social and political concessions in India.

Monday, November 09, 2009


Cast of Thousands

Following Obama’s career since summer 2006, it was clear he represented an illusion, not a possibility. He has not changed, but we must. Grassroots social centers, that developed in response to the malign neglect of the political status quo in Europe and South America in recent years, point the way to creating community here also.

In 1973, Walter Karp wrote Indispensable Enemies, the definitive book on American politics. In that book, Karp argues that the political theatre of feined conflict between the Republican and Democratic parties is necessary to conceal the fact they are both owned by the American aristocracy.

One of the essential facets of this charade playing out in the American media, academia and public square, are supporting actors who help limit the scope of debate and imagination of the American public. Sometimes these actors are aspiring talking heads, ideologues or politicians, but more often than not, they are crass opportunists echoing messages developed by the respective parties or industries they actually represent. Pious progressive poseurs cautioning pragmatism, religious fundamentalists warning of Armageddon, and business-minded authority figures chastising radicals for suggesting fraud is anti-democratic, all play their part in keeping democracy down.

As neoliberals busy themselves with helping neoconservatives rob us blind on behalf of their mutual masters, it takes a lot of extras — perhaps a cast of thousands — to keep up the appearance of democracy. Meanwhile, “futurists” and other noble heroes allegedly guarding us from notorious villains, have to work overtime to maintain the deception.

Leadership, as usual, will never come from Washington.

Sunday, November 08, 2009


Kentucky Cello

I'm trying to remember if the Beatles used a cello in their tune Eleanor Rigby. I forgot to mention that to a doc filmmaker who interviewed me on the plaza yesterday afternoon. She left me her card, thankfully, and her film about a cello player looks interesting--especially since the unusual musician comes from Kentucky, where my dad's side came from.

Saturday, November 07, 2009


Chile's Police State

Mapuche nationalist Victor Ancalaf, unjustly incarcerated by the state of Chile for five years based on an anonymous accusation, testifies before the UN Human Rights Council about Chile's anti-democratic anti-terrorism laws.

Friday, November 06, 2009



The Hugh O’Neill and Hugh O’Donnell Irish postage stamp depicts my sixteenth century relation and his comrade in arms, eminent adversaries of Queen Elizabeth.


Enemies All Around

As Afghan Chief Zazai observes, when the tribes were fighting the Russians, their friends were at their sides and the enemy was in front of them. Same with fighting the Taliban. But now that the Afghan government is composed of criminals imposed on them by the Americans, fighting enemies of the Afghan people is more difficult than ever.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


Commemorating Vengeance

Charles Davis discusses commemorating vengeance as a particularly American pastime.

Monday, November 02, 2009


Findings of Fact

One of the findings of the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict is that Israel not only destroyed everything above ground, but -- by deliberately contaminating the ground and water -- literally made the territory uninhabitable by World Health Organization standards.

Sunday, November 01, 2009


Competing Catastrophes

Maybe the Palestinians should erect a Nakba memorial to impress Ambassador Rice on her next visit to Palestine, but then again, Israel would probably just bomb it.


Patsies for Zion

As patsies for the Jewish republic, Barack and Hillary continue their Zionist goodwill tour in the Eastern Mediterranean.

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