Thursday, December 31, 2009


The Meritocracy of Mediocrity

One of the Bay Area mystery writers I read tends to wear her political correctness on her sleeve, which when it comes to denouncing racial and homophobic bigotry is OK, if a little trite. But for some reason she concurrently disparages hippies, as though that type of bigotry is somehow acceptable.

Perhaps it is a symptom of her age, brought up during rather than after World War II, caught between the generation that fought the war against the Nazis and the generation that demonstrated against the war in Vietnam. A generation known more for its corporal compliance than for its quest for philosophical transformation.

Undoubtedly their limited understanding of transcendent relationships is due in part to their lack of entheogenic exploration, but this does not entirely explain their propensity to disparage what they do not understand; that, unfortunately, is a widespread symptom of the regularized rewards of superficial social status--what some would call the meritocracy of mediocrity.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Times Change

For Americans, World War II remains the good war—in fact the only US war where a demonstrably evil foreign power was defeated. Today, looking around for a similarly evil regime, the State of Israel seems a close match. Yet, the latter genocide is somehow excused by the former, a rationale that readily falls on its face. Were America to now apply the same standards to Israel as we once did to Germany, we would soon be bombing Tel Aviv and sending an expeditionary force to liberate Gaza and the West Bank. Funny how times change.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


A Parroting Parody

As President Obama -- like his fellow synthetic sycophants Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell -- becomes little more than a parody parroting corporate cliches, his ability to con (let alone inspire) innocents abroad and at home will diminish. And perhaps that is his unintended legacy--to set the pattern firmly in mind for all those infantilized by public relations and superficial education designed to create compliant citizens as consciousless consumers. If so, then maybe it will have been worth suffering his bombastic bromides and silly syllogisms; a silver lining for Goldman's golden boy.

Monday, December 28, 2009


How It Is Done

Given the repeated failure of corporate states to effectively deal with issues of major import like climate change, the proposal to shift leadership on climate adaptation to stateless nations merits serious consideration. As governing entities with a history spanning thousands rather than hundreds of years, they have had more time to reflect on effective governance and conflict resolution. As governing institutions that dwarf those of corporate states in terms of legitimacy, authenticity and integrity, they also are more immune to the corruptions and conflicts of interest readily apparent in state-centric decision-making.

While it is often argued that centralized states and exclusionary decision-making in state-centric bodies like the EU and UN is more efficient than the dispersed, consultative consensus-building typical of indigenous governance, one should look carefully at the results of concentrated power before endorsing it as the ideal governing process. Inclusiveness and power-sharing are one and the same; excluding those who are less powerful cannot result in anything but conflict and hostility.

Yet, there is no need to be unwieldy, given the propensity of indigenous nations to organize representative bodies from tribal councils to regional affiliations, national congresses and assemblies. The Inuit Circumpolar Conference, Nordic Sami Council, Assembly of First Nations, National Aboriginal Council, and National Congress of American Indians to name a few. Indeed, in the recent COP 15 debacle in Copenhagen, it was the International Indigenous Peoples' Forum on Climate Change that spoke with one coherent voice, while states and their corporate masters haggled over indigenous biodiversity resources they hoped to steal through carbon market trading.

Once citizens of corporate states no longer conflate power with leadership, we might finally be able to make some headway on human rights and climate change. Until then, it is up to indigenous nations to show us how it is done.


Buying Stolen Property

In this informative article from New Zealand about American Indians buying back stolen lands, the only interviewee to make a misleading remark is a spokesman for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Figures.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Heart of Darkness

Chris Floyd examines the punitiveness of racism in America.

Friday, December 25, 2009


Fate of the Planet

Carbon Watch, a joint project of FRONTLINE and the Center for Investigative Reporting, examines carbon market trading--the largest commodity exchange in history. The big question in light of the recent bank bailout scandal is, Why would we want to put the fate of the planet in the hands of Congress and Wall Street?

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Everything is Connected

Reading about the $200 million Justice Department agreement with oil and gas companies resulting from federal whistleblower lawsuits that showed the companies deliberately falsified records to steal royalties due American Indians and the US Treasury, I couldn't help thinking about the third world conditions on many Great Plains reservations, where kids go hungry and elders freeze to death every winter due to the highest poverty levels in the US.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Murderous Missionaries

American evangelicals, including friends of President Obama, are busy promoting the criminalization of homosexuality in Africa. In Uganda, where homosexuality is already a crime, these US missionaries are pushing for the death penalty.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Breathless Buffoonery

As the progressives' avant garde, futurists like Sara Robinson supply expertise in superficial semantics. In the leadup to Copenhagen, Ms. Robinson not only predicted the planetary prognosis, but also rewrote the past. All in a swoop, she asserts our carbon society has been cranking for 2,500 years and is thus the basis of all civilized humanity, which serves double duty in marginalizing indigenous peoples past and present, especially those who came to Copenhagen with solutions. She then proceeded to reassure those of us not blessed with her exceptional foresight, that the magical process she has discovered is already on autopilot thanks to her heroic efforts. Breathless buffoonery at its best.


Laundering Derivatives

Russian mafia hacks Citibank. Hostile takeover, acquisition, or merger?

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Exhausting Exercise

As humankind prepares to polish off the last fossil fuels and fresh water over the coming decades, FRONTLINE examines in detail the magnitude of our consumption. Looking at the actual uses of fossil-fueled power enables us to make some vital choices. While individuals can unplug unnecessary power hogs like television, municipalities can up the ante with renewable generation. As for the ever intractable industrial sector, they at least won't make what we won't buy.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Extinction History

UC Berkeley examines the history of species extinction in North America.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Stories from Ireland

Enjoy Stories from Ireland podcasts by Eddie Stack.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Real News

Real News has a new look, new features, and as always, real news. Join today.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Dipnote Deception

As U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issues threats to the government of Bolivia for continuing to exert its independence, even in the face of the continental reconquest planned for U.S. Southern Command from its new bases in Colombia, the official State Department blog Dipnote is running happy face posts about an imaginary Colombia under joint US-Colombian military rule.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Nowhere Here in the Middle

Indigenous living on the land in the Northern Territory of Australia is currently threatened by an international radioactive waste dump proposal pushed by the Australian government onto Aboriginal communities. Reminiscent of what happened to the Yakama Indian Nation in Washington state, United States of America, Muckaty Station could be the next Hanford Nuclear Reservation. As observed by one of the Aborigines interviewed, "It will destroy our dreaming, and we'll have nothing left."

Monday, December 14, 2009


Quakers Renounce Doctrine

The Quakers join the Episcopalians in renouncing the Doctrine of Discovery, the 16th century principle of international law that sanctioned genocide of indigenous peoples. As the legal tool that justified European colonialism, the doctrine underlies present day state boundaries, as well as most claims and counterclaims to land and resources in much of the world.

In essence, it was the precursor to state terrorism and free markets, uniting corporations and governments in unbridled theft worldwide. Only in the last half century, under the rubric of the UN human rights regime, has this divine notion of Christian white supremacy begun to lose ground.

Ramifications of the doctrine still reverberate in instruments like Free Trade, carbon markets, and patents that expropriate indigenous intellectual property.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Maintaining the Myth

Maintaining the myth of Obama the good, the noble and the prince of peace is getting tougher for Madison Avenue now that Goldman Sachs' golden boy has been caught with his pants down so many times on Wall Street. But Nobel prizes and other trappings of phony philanthropia aren't enough for the bankers' buddy to bamboozle us any more. Soon, as former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown remarked, they'll have to get the Pope to make him a saint.


Privilege Has Its Privileges

Mob princess Katrina van den Heuvel (editor of The Nation magazine) voices support for organized crime.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Obama and Bush

As Pepe Escobar elaborates on The Real News Network, Obama is a liar. America is in Central Asia for the oil and gas companies and military contractors and nothing else. Obama may lie more fluently than his predecessor, but the lies he tells are the same.

After eight years of anger and despair, American progressives now face eight years of disillusionment and betrayal. As they withdraw from the fray, or seek solace in their Gore-Dean comfort zone, the Bamababies may not be readily ripe for another round of false hope and chump change, but their resentment will be ready to mobilize toward suitable scapegoats. Any bet that red-baiting will win out?

As Hans Magnus Enzensberger remarked in his book Civil Wars, “When the moral demands made on an individual are consistently out of proportion to his scope for action, he will eventually go on strike and deny all responsibility. Here lie the seeds of brutalization, which may escalate to raging aggression.”


Managing Chaos

As we watch UN member states flail around trying to deal with climate change and globalization, it is perhaps worth revisiting a paper by our colleague Phil Williams from June 2008. In From The New Middle Ages To A New Dark Age: The Decline Of The State And U.S. Strategy, Dr. Williams examines the spread of disorder and discusses the need for a more holistic approach and a more coherent organizational structure. Rather than continue to focus on defeating enemies, notes Professor Williams, the US and other states will soon need to learn to manage chaos.

Friday, December 11, 2009


AMA On Cannabis

The American Medical Association thinks that maybe the federal controlled substance statutes are out of whack on marijuana. They'd like to see some clinical studies on its medicinal use before they take a position for or against legalization. Given that pot is classified by the feds as more dangerous than cocaine or methamphetamine, we'd say that's a reasonable request.


Keys to the Vault

Mariah Blake writes in Mother Jones about the looming nuclear boondoggle brewing in the halls of Congress. While we all know nuclear power is the most expensive to produce, requiring colossal public subsidies for construction, operation, and waste disposal, none of this is deterring politicians on the take from the nuclear lobby. Neither radioactive waste, cancer zones, nor monetary meltdown is enough to dissuade them from handing over the keys to the vault.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Abolishing Free Trade

Guatemalan indigenous peasants equate free trade with persecution and poverty. They are hoping climate change discussions between indigenous and industrial societies in the US, EU, and UN will lead to abolishing free trade.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


Blindsiding COP 15

As Rudolph Ryser observes in his column at Fourth World Eye, the United States government is still undermining international initiatives aimed at environmental sanity. Teeming up with the US government in this scandal are the governments of China and India, all of which are committed to ransacking the remaining resources of the third and fourth worlds. As long as the UN remains captive to the wishes of the first world and its transnational criminal network, initiatives on climate change, economic and social development will continue to be blind-sided by backroom deals concocted in Washington.


Charity Tip

If you want a tip on a charity that gives 100% of donations to recipients, Changing Winds is a safe bet. I give what I can each December when it starts getting real cold in South Dakota. Changing Winds gives heaters, blankets, coats and shoes to the poorest kids in the US, Sioux Indians.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


In the Native Way

Watching Indigenous Environmental Network director Tom Goldtooth sing a cleansing ceremony song to the UN delegates in Copenhagen today reminded me of an article Tom wrote in 2001 about the native way of keeping spirituality in his work and relations.


Cobell Settlement

The thirteen year lawsuit by Native American plaintiffs against the U.S. Department of Interior has reached a negotiated settlement. The misappropriated royalties from the plaintiffs' 56 million acres, administered by Interior under the Indian Trust Fund, will be partially restored and distributed, possibly by year's end. The willingness to settle for $1.4 billion of the estimated $47 billion stolen by the U.S. government since 1887, notes Cobell, reflects the desperate poverty of the plaintiffs as a class, as well as the realization that it's probably the best they could do given the American political system.

Monday, December 07, 2009


Indigenous Exclusion

Under international law, 80% of biodiversity on planet Earth is the property of indigenous peoples. Their governments, their efforts, and their exclusion by the UN and its member states are not mentioned in mainstream media.

Given the deceitful efforts of the United States government -- as well as UN officials -- to block participation by the International Indigenous Peoples' Forum on Climate Change at the UN talks in Poznan, Poland one year ago, it is unlikely that any agreements by UN member states at Copenhagen can move forward with a likelihood of environmental success. Indeed, given the prominence of carbon market Ponzi schemes on the UN climate change agenda, the only thing the UN conference can guarantee is escalated conflict between nation-states and the indigenous peoples of the world.

In the interests of transnational corporations, UN agencies like the WTO, IMF and World Bank have done their best to annihilate First Nations and indigenous peoples. Until this criminal enterprise is suspended, no progress can be made.


Transforming the Settler State

Native feminist and UC professor Andrea Smith discusses sovereignty, indigenous nationhood, and transforming the settler-state. In her videotaped presentation, Professor Smith examines the logic of sexual violence at the root of colonialism and the nation-state, as well as the multiple logics of white supremacy.

Sunday, December 06, 2009


Turning Things Around

Renowned filmmaker David Lynch talks about consciousness, creativity and the brain.

Saturday, December 05, 2009


Starting Anew

As noted in Indian Country Today, it’s time to bury the American hostility toward the Sioux Nation, and a good way to start is by establishing a new national monument in the Black Hills. Recognition of the sacred as the motivation for designating a monument may be new for the National Park Service, but it is age old for the tribes who sought solace and inspiration there. Allowing for that difference would be a sign that multiculturalism is more than just words on paper.

Friday, December 04, 2009


Nuu Chah Nulth Fish

A few years before we moved from Bellingham, Washington to San Francisco in the late 1990s, we took a trip to the remote fishing village of Tofino on Vancouver Island's west coast. Nearby, in the heart of Nuu Chah Nulth First Nation, is the now famous Clayoquot Sound, where Indians and environmental activists together saved a magnificent old growth forest.

In more recent years, the Nuu Chah Nulth gained media attention when a disoriented orca whale (Luna) was tangled in a farmed salmon net pen, and tribal members led Luna away to safety.

Today, the Nuu Chah Nulth are celebrating their court-affirmed right to catch and trade salmon as they have done for millenia, despite Canadian government interference. As someone who as a tenderman bought salmon from Washington tribes during the 1970s fish wars there, I hope the recognition of aboriginal human rights in British Columbia will be less volatile. I somehow sense our consciousness has expanded enough since then to allow for indigenous ways of life to flourish unimpeded.

Thursday, December 03, 2009


American Dream

We take this Reuters story on the Somali piracy stock exchange with a grain of salt, but the similarity with how pirates on Wall Street operate did not escape us. Pool resources with friends and family and private investors to create the administrative infrastructure to steal resources from others, arm yourselves to guard against reprisals, and subvert the ability of centralized governments to counter corruption. Maybe someday the Somali pirates -- like their Wall Street counterparts -- will succeed in placing their man in their White House, thereby consolidating their ill-gotten gains. After all, isn't that the real American dream?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


America's Business

As Margaret Kimberley of Black Agenda Report notes, war is America's business, and Wall Street stands to do very well by America's first black president. As the president increasingly identified as a promoter of false hope and dispenser of chump change, Obama has now retreated behind the cowardly photo op of West Point cadets and soldiers he will soon ship off to die for the Dow-Jones. Having abandoned main street to the ruthless carnage of foreclosures, layoffs, and other manifestations of economic meltdown required for the banking bailouts, the Goldman Sachs presidency is gaining its stride in getting back to America's business.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


Coal Man and Tar Baby

Tzeporah Berman discusses engaging climate change with Paul Jay. As coal man Obama and tar baby Harper head for Copenhagen to blow more smoke up our rears, Berman says real hope is on the streets, not in the elected leaders of the US and Canada. Only committed civic engagement, she notes, will help us turn away from fossil fuel gluttony toward a more sustainable way of life.

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