Friday, May 29, 2009


The Story Continues

Mother Jones magazine interviews the directors of We Shall Remain.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Carbon Trading Fraud

As the San Francisco Chronicle explains, the newly-enacted climate change law in the US actually increases pollution while promoting fraudulent carbon trading budget scams. Sounds like the bank bailout all over again. Or the war on drugs, terror...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Survival of Ogoni

The case against Shell went to court in New York yesterday. Watch the video to learn more about the survival of Ogoni people.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Memory of the World

UNESCO's Memory of the World programme aims at preservation and dissemination of valuable archive holdings and library collections worldwide. Documentary heritage reflects the diversity of languages, peoples and cultures. It is the mirror of the world and its memory.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


An Underground Existence

In this article, our colleague Chip Berlet argues that self-identified progressives within the Democratic party are strategically ignorant about what is at stake in battling bigotry in our country. We share Berlet's concerns, but suggest that this apparent ignorance is a symptom of corrupted souls. Principled people have long been excluded from party politics in the US, to the point where those committed to fighting for human rights are being forced ever closer to an underground existence.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Morocco Excursion

As interlude, we take a Morocco excursion.

Monday, May 18, 2009


What They Want

As Tom Burghart notes, the FBI is seeking an additional $200 million for domestic spying next year, enabling what Burghart calls the political police to target dissent more effectively. We have little doubt Congress and the White House will give them what they want.


Strong Society

As Patsy Whitefoot, president of the National Indian Education Association, observes, there are some things you can't learn in school. For the Yakama elder, culture and identity are also important building blocks of a strong society. As the Toppenish leader has demonstrated, teaching those who control education resources is as important as teaching children.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Liberal Illogic

Michael J. Smith looks at the illiteracy and illogic of liberal apologists for Obama. As President Obama moves his agenda of secret, unaccountable government forward, progressives trapped in national security dogma can be counted on to fervently defend his cover-up of high crimes and continued shredding of the Constitution. Obama's cowardice in not prosecuting these crimes is only outdone by his cult's incoherence.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Obama's Black Ops

As Tom Burghart reports, the secret budget for black operations under Obama is set to increase. Already unaccountable to anyone, including Congress, the secret agencies spying on Americans and assassinating foreigners who threaten corporate corruption will now have a budget for these activities alone that is larger than the entire defense budgets of America's allies combined. Looks like the only employment opportunities in the future will be spying on fellow Americans who complain about how our government is mismanaged. Nice, huh?


PBS Pablum?

Is the PBS series on Native Americans, We Shall Remain, yet another noble savage saga, instilling sympathy in whites and hopelessness in contemporary Indians? Is Steven Newcomb of the Indigenous Law Institute correct when he observes that what PBS has done is to present the history of ethnic cleansing in America without adequately holding accountable the perpetrators? While the series oddly omits from culpability some American icons like George Washington, others like Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson do not escape exposure. In fairness, it appears that one can learn much about American history from the program, even though much more is left to be taught. Let us hope this is a new beginning, and not the final word.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


The Last Slave Plantation

While Congress and the media rehash what we already knew five years ago about US torture of war prisoners, little is said in American media about ongoing torture in US prisons. Mother Jones, in a special report from March, looked at systematic torture in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola--what many call "The Last Slave Plantation".


No Justice No Peace

Many of the destabilized societies of the world were once colonized by Great Britain: Afghanistan, Australia, Iraq, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Palestine, Sudan, to name a few. And colonization, as we have seen, leaves lasting traumas and disorders.

Stability, however, can be achieved in former colonies, but only when justice is done.

As Ken Foley of Sinn Fein observes, unity and solidarity are key to undermining injustice, whether in the North of Ireland or in occupied Palestine. As Foley notes, no justice--no peace.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


The Human Condition

One of the things I learned studying effective political leadership -- from South Africa to Northern Ireland -- is that democracy is achieved in large part by communicating. Proposing one's ideas in discussions with others allows us all to enhance our estimate of the situation, and fine tune our plans. Nobody has all the answers.

Another thing that I learned interviewing experienced researchers and organizers is that everyone has something to contribute. The key is bringing people together, a task that is sometimes a challenge in itself.

With the advent of Internet blogging platforms, communicating is easier than ever, although developing deeper relationships is difficult to do online. Still, one can learn and share much via Yahoo, Skype and YouTube.

Having participated in blog discussions for a number of years, I've noticed some limiting but surmountable factors that influence our ability to fully communicate. One is enthusiasm, which fades with time in a culture attuned to what's new. Rather than dig deeper into a topic, it is tempting to be satisfied with a superficial knowledge. Another is despair, which given the state of human affairs, lies in ambush at every turn. Encouraging each other by communicating with respect and recognition, literally makes all the difference. And finally, commitment is hard to maintain without a principled foundation and community support. Surviving the onslaught of church, state and market, without deepening our commitment through discussion of principles and developing a community of support, is more than most of us can handle.

Accepting that betrayal is part of the human condition, maybe it's time to begin discussions about what to do given that assumption.

Friday, May 08, 2009


Spooks Gone Wild

Tom Burghart reports on the UK Government Communications Headquarters contract with Lockheed Martin to help them spy on British citizens. Stung by whistleblowers leaking illegal spying memos to the press in recent years, the British government is looking for ways to detect outbreaks of democracy in time to nip them in the bud. Much like their US counterpart, the National Security Agency, GCHQ is counting on Lockheed and telecommunications providers to help the central government prevent pro-democracy, anti-war, anti-fraud, and environmental activists from communicating without their knowing it.



Minority Rights Group International has published a downloadable guide for NGOs on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The manual on ICERD explains how this tool of bringing UN member states into compliance with the treaty is a useful instrument of international law. The 2001 manual also contextualizes human rights development within the UN system.

Thursday, May 07, 2009


Sordid Senate

The Real News Network exposes the hidden game of US Senate politics around health care, and why American workers -- who pay the same amount of taxes as their counterparts in Canada and the UK -- are the only ones who don't get health care as a public benefit.


New Categories

We added some new categories in the sidebar recently, so you might want to browse.


Intentional Ignorance

Michael Cory Davis, director of the documentary films Cargo and Svetlana's Journey, talks about the reality of modern slavery, and the intentional ignorance that allows it to prosper. Somaly Mam, a survivor of the sex slave industry, and actress activist Susan Sarandon talk about what is being done to help the victims.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


Murdering Mayans

The Guatemalan government now admits that 200,000 Mayan Indians were murdered by the Guatemalan army in the 1980s, not because they were rebels, but because they were poor. The reasoning by the US-backed government at the time, was that poor people might become rebels; genocide against Mayans was thus an extended preemptive massacre.


Food for Fuel

IPS looks at the global problem of ethnic cleansing for agriculture. Indigenous peoples, especially in Africa and Mexico, are deprived of land rights by transnationals seeking higher returns from foreign plantations. One quarter of confiscated lands are used for biofuel.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


Anchorage Declaration

On April 24, the Indigenous Peoples' Global Summit on Climate Change issued the Anchorage Declaration. The declaration will guide successive talks between aboriginal nations and the United Nations, notably in the forthcoming negotiations at the December conference in Copenhagen. Key to the evolving relationship between UN member states and stateless nations comprising the Fourth World, will be the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. On Earth Day at the UN, Bolivian President Evo Morales -- a participant in the Indigenous Summit -- spoke with Laura Flanders about decolonizing that relationship.

Sunday, May 03, 2009


Salmon Wars

As an adjunct to their Poisoned Waters special on Puget Sound, FRONTLINE created a short video titled Salmon Wars. We think you'll enjoy it.

Saturday, May 02, 2009


Living with No Tomorrow

The April 21 FRONTLINE special Poisoned Waters looks at the last chance for Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound to avoid becoming dead zones. In that special, Washington's governor remarked that without citizen engagement, Puget Sound will die. As FRONTLINE observed, that engagement revolves around the state's Growth Management Act.

Washington state's Growth Management Act, itself the result of a 1990 citizen's initiative to prevent the crisis aired in Poisoned Waters, was fought tooth and nail by both political parties, unions, and all major business interests. Throughout the state, those of us who heeded the call by organizing concerned citizens in our communities were threatened, assaulted, or harassed by vigilantes organized and funded by the Building Industry Association. In 1996, eight of these vigilantes went to prison for making bombs to murder community activists and elected officials.

The reason these battles are fought over and over again, with the public interest continuously losing ground, is that there is no continuity of leadership in community organizing. The reason leadership is not sustained and nurtured is there is no formalized community support, and thus no means to teach the lessons and skills needed to protect themselves. Rather, leadership is perpetually squandered as if there is no tomorrow--a self-fulfilling prophecy.


Anti-Indian Law

Steven Newcomb at Indian Country Today discusses the Christian bigotry at the core of federal Indian law.

Friday, May 01, 2009


Paying for Sex

Center for World Indigenous Studies Associate Scholar Melissa Farley recently participated in a panel debate on prostitution. You can listen to the debate on National Public Radio by following the link.


Doing Time for No Crime

Obama Administration Defense Secretary Robert Gates suggested yesterday that the detainees held without trial due to lack of evidence against them in Guantanamo, Cuba could be transferred to US soil and held there without due process as guaranteed under the US Constitution. So much for hope and change in the Obama version of the national security state.


Bereft of Humanity

In Human Nature, Mark Dowie discusses the creation of commodified wilderness in the US, wild expanses bereft of humanity. Noting the history of this cultural project of evicting aboriginal inhabitants from the landscapes of our imagination, Dowie describes their indigenous descendants as "conservation refugees". As the UN and its member states prepare to evict natives worldwide in response to the climate change crisis, our unnatural conception of wilderness is once again at fault.

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