Tuesday, November 30, 2010


The Wrong Lesson

One of the myths deposed by the Wikileaks US State Department embassy cable cache is the notion of diplomacy as a benign exercise above the fray of dirty dealing that takes place at the National Security Agency or Central Intelligence Agency. With the revelation of spying on UN officials, authorized by Secretary of State Clinton, we note the continuity of malpractice notoriously conducted under the previous White House by Secretary Powell, with help from his long time associate from the Department of Defense, Richard Armitage. As Deputy Secretary of State, Armitage was responsible for outing undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame in retaliation for her husband Ambassador Wilson’s refusal to go along with the fraudulent Iraq WMD campaign promoted at the UN by Secretary Powell. Apparently, Clinton learned something useful from that sordid betrayal; unfortunately, it was the wrong lesson.

In May 2008, State Department envoys to the newly democratized state of Bolivia — presided over by the first indigenous head of state, Evo Morales — were busy arranging a coup. As reported by The Real News Network, Bolivia deported the US ambassador for funding ruling class rebels trying to overthrow Morales by violence and murder of his indigenous supporters. At the Organization of American States summit a year later, Latin American leaders made it clear to the new US president that they were not going to tolerate further US interference in their countries.

As President Obama and Secretary Clinton continue to block progress on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we must expect they will also continue running covert operations against leaders and organizers of the World Indigenous Peoples’ Movement. With the recommendation two days ago by the European Union Parliament that the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change be given a seat at the table in UN climate change talks, those operations are likely already underway.

Monday, November 29, 2010


Psychology of Waste

The standard response by oil companies for poisoning our environment is to blame consumers for not living a more sustainable way of life. They neglect to mention that the limited choices we have are a result of their bribes to politicians to keep things the way they are.

Shifting the blame onto powerless consumers, who can only do so much to cut their consumption within the economic framework built by the corporations that own our government, not only forecloses discussion about alternatives, but also distracts us from the fact that energy consumption — similar to water consumption — is mostly industrial. If anyone should be changing their lifestyle, it is industry.

If we want to move toward a more sustainable way of life, even more important than driving less and insulating our homes is becoming conscious of the reality of energy use and energy waste, and becoming involved in changing that dynamic. Understanding how corporate media and government undermine our psychological will to fight is a logical place to start.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Muskeg Mayhem

Ben Powless reports from the Alberta Tar Sands, where Environment Canada's blind faith in Canada Natural Resources Limited allowed the oil company to discharge toxic tailings onto the muskeg where First Nations hunt beaver and moose. With indigenous communities experiencing health problems from water contaminated by the oily ooze, politicians in Ottawa are scrambling to find someone else to blame.

Thursday, November 25, 2010



Paternalism toward indigenous peoples isn’t just a right-wing phenomenon. As left-wing publications like Mother Jones demonstrate, the ignorance and arrogance that characterizes the elite of the corporate state is pervasive in the dominant society. Writing on the upcoming UN climate change conference in Cancun, the progressive publication acts as though they never heard of indigenous peoples.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Corrosive Cult

Chris Rodda of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation reports on the religious harassment of cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy, where fundamentalist Christian ministries like Cadets for Christ conduct unconstitutional proselytizing on campus.


Insatiable Greed

The recent decision by the US Senate to settle the Cobell Indian Trust lawsuit for pennies on the dollar is only the latest in a long series of thefts of American Indian properties by the government of the United States. In fact, that goes back to the very beginning of the country, when George Washington and other rebels fought the British Crown's restrictions on land speculation in Indian territories. As Doug George-Kenentiio writes, only the Shawnee Confederacy, led by Blue Jacket and Tecumseh, was willing to continue fighting the Americans to keep them out of their homeland. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy chose instead to make a treaty with the United States, thereby foreclosing the only pan-tribal alliance at the time capable of continuing to defeat the US Army. Now days the battles take place in federal courtrooms, corporate boardrooms, and in the media; the only thing that hasn't changed is the insatiable greed of Americans for Indian land.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Obstacle to Reconciliation

California's largest Indian tribe, the Yurok, has made a bid to become the legal custodian of a portion of Redwood National Park, portions of Six Rivers National Forest, and the national marine sanctuary adjacent to the mouth of the Klamath River where they reside. As inherent custodians of the ancestral homeland, where the Yurok constructed their salmon-based culture over the last ten thousand years, the loss of both salmon and sacred sites -- due to federal mismanagement -- has prompted the tribe to seek to restore its ancient responsibility as steward of the area. Unfortunately, when it comes to fighting turf battles with the federal government, bureaucratic organizations like PEER can be an obstacle to meaningful reconciliation.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Native American Heritage

This Testify Project short video reminds us that the natives of California were first murdered by militias commissioned by the State of California as an ethnic cleansing enterprise, and later sold as slaves to the white ranchers who settled on the stolen land. Something to think about during Native American Heritage month.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Intelligence Inquisition

Nora Barrows-Friedman and Maureen Clare Murphy report on the use of grand juries by the US Department of Justice as a tool of political repression against peace activists. In what amounts to an intelligence inquisition, says Friedman and Murphy, the Obama Administration has upped the ante against domestic critics of US policy towards Israel and other anti-indigenous states.

Friday, November 19, 2010


US Human Rights Record

Responding to the US record of human rights violations at home and abroad, the US envoy to the UN Human Rights Council noted that the President of the United States is a black man, as though that somehow excuses everything. But being a black man did not excuse US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas when he voted to overturn a federal election in order to appoint as President of the United States the son of the man who appointed him. Nor did being a black man excuse US Secretary of State Colin Powell when he knowingly committed fraud on behalf of that president by lying to the UN General Assembly about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in order to facilitate the invasion of Iraq.

Much has been made about the departure by the Obama Administration from the lame public relations and misconduct of his predecessor, but that claim now rings hollow. Not only does his administration continue every single violation of international human rights law that was violated by President Bush, but it continues to neglect the legal instruments that might be observed in changing that atrocious record.

If this is the best we can hope for, then the United States of America is truly doomed.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Confronting the Warmonger

Veterans for Peace announces its mobilization against the Obama White House on December 16.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Grinding Out Graft

As the private prison industry has corrupted unions and politicians across the country, it now reaches into the highest levels of law enforcement as well. Just like incarceration as an enterprise has lined pockets of crooked cops and corporations, it has recently become an issue with a nominee to head the U.S. Marshals Service.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Two Faced

As Canada announces its endorsement of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), the Canadian government is simultaneously working toward the privatization of Indian Reserves, a move that Native legal scholars describe as disastrous for First Nations. Noting that the endorsement of the landmark 2007 human rights instrument is mainly symbolic, the Canadian government expressly denies the application of international law in Canada--a two-faced endorsement at best.

Much like its anti-Indian partner the United States, Canada has belatedly discovered that part of fighting indigenous sovereignty is to appear sympathetic to the native societies while doing everything in its power to undermine aboriginal freedom and unity. But while the United States pretends it needs more time to consider whether Indians are human beings worthy of equal respect, Canada openly states that it doesn't want to close off any avenues for taking more of the remaining Indian land and resources.

At least the Canadian government got one thing right in its press release: UNDRIP is an aspirational document; by paying lip service to it while marshaling corporate and government forces against it is possibly the worst form of hypocrisy.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Solidarity Forbidden

Solidarity -- expressing support for liberation -- especially if those affinities are fighting US-backed regimes, is now a crime in the United States. Even solidarity in the form of support for the peaceful use of international law to further human rights is punishable by imprisonment when used against US policy. Any contribution toward the resolution of violent conflict through publishing, advocacy, or training on behalf of peoples seeking freedom from repressive regimes receiving US aid is now forbidden.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Reclaiming History

After losing homes and businesses, land and families, it may not seem like much to lose libraries, but for the Palestinians it’s part of reclaiming history. The cultural heritage embodied by the Palestinian libraries, confiscated by the invading Zionists in 1948, constitute a documentation of their intellectual life despite the invasions by Romans, Turks, British and Israelis.

As an expression of their experience leading up to the Nakba, the looting of their libraries is now the subject of The Great Book Robbery, a documentary film project by an Israeli filmmaker and Palestinian journalist. As some of the collections were destroyed by Israeli archivists as unsuitable material, much remains stored and catalogued, and as such has the potential to be restored to their rightful owners.

As a corollary to the restitution to Jews dispossessed by the Nazi bureaucracy, the act of returning these properties could become an important moment in reconciling the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Revitalizing Hostility

Adrienne Pine reports on the Pentagon's Strategic Culture Initiative, a project to develop propaganda favorable to US interests in Latin America. Targeted at recent anti-imperial agreements between a majority of states in South America -- particularly at the democratic independence of Bolivia -- the new psychological warfare partnership with Florida International University enables the U.S. military to go on the offensive against self-determination south of the border. Lauding such enterprises as Peru's plan to assimilate its indigenous peoples by annihilating their cultural land base, the renewed Pentagon partnership with academia is anticipated to revitalize the hostility toward indigenous peoples promoted by the Reagan Administration.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Intercontinental Cry

My colleague Ahni at Intercontinental Cry recently received recognition for his work in covering the plight of indigenous peoples in Kenya that led to police reforms that toned down the violence against them. As an editor and correspondent who reads IC daily, I want to take the opportunity to congratulate Ahni for his fine work, as well as warn of the dangers of investigative journalism. In the comments on the post announcing the award, I relate some precautions those of us in the field have found useful.


Sustainable Alternatives

The plan by Chevron and other investors to raze a quarter million acres of the Mojave for solar development illustrates the challenge of renewable energy within an unsustainable culture. Tidal, wind and solar projects elsewhere take into account environmental and indigenous resources, thereby maintaining a balance between consumption and conservation, but when market economics are the driving force behind government decisions, these human concerns are often dozed along with the landscape. As the makers of this documentary note, there are more sustainable alternatives.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Interfaith Leaders

Chicago interfaith leaders condemn FBI raids against peace activists.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


Canadian Disgrace

Responding to the growing international criticism of Canadian mining corporations for human rights violations, the government of Canada has explicitly rejected establishing rules for corporate conduct that might impact profits.

Monday, November 08, 2010



It's really too late for both parties. They're unreformable. They've squandered their legitimacy just as the US enters the fat heart of the long emergency. Neither of them have a plan, or even a single idea that isn't a dodge or a grift. Both parties tout a "recovery" that is just a cover story for accounting chicanery and statistical lies aimed at concealing the criminally-engineered national bankruptcy that they presided over in split shifts. Both parties are overwhelmingly made up of bagmen for the companies that looted America.

--James Kunstler

Sunday, November 07, 2010


Obama's Death Squads

While Indonesian military forces torture and murder West Papuans, President Obama decided to lift the military assistance ban to the country’s elite death squads. With the release of video footage of these killers in action, Survival International is asking that Obama reverse his decision to ignore these human rights abuses.

Saturday, November 06, 2010


Opting Out

Bay Area youth fight to opt out of the military database.

Friday, November 05, 2010


The Thought Police

I began my morning reading about Tibetan journalists imprisoned and tortured by Chinese security agents for interviewing Tibetans about their cultural disintegration. The next news item was about the U.S. Department of Justice witch hunt against anti-war organizers, who were served subpoenas to appear before a grand jury to give coerced testimony against their friends and fellow peace activists. It seems that the Obama Administration has much in common with the Chinese dictatorship in how it handles criticism.

Thursday, November 04, 2010


Nations Versus States

A while back, Bill Weinberg wrote that the 4th World War, characterized by NAFTA and other instruments of colonial reconquest, is an extension of previous genocides against indigenous peoples--a conflict of nations versus states.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


Carving Up Canada

To anyone who’s paid attention, the fact that globalization is an agenda for privatizing all wealth and resources into the hands of transnational corporations is nothing new. Nor is the architecture of the privatization assault: US Aid for International Development, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank remain the heavy hitters. What is new, in a sense, is the message: the propaganda promulgated by the United Nations and its member states in the previous half century promoted the industrial scale conversion of assets as a humanitarian enterprise, lifting the Third World into the sunshine of peace and prosperity. Now, as seen in Peru and Canada, the natural wonders coveted by corporations are represented in their marketing campaigns as being held captive by tribal peoples.

Neglecting the fact that these resources don’t belong to the corporations, omitting the fact that these very same corporations have created scarcity through their wanton acts of destruction elsewhere, and hiding the fact about the end result of privatization being extreme poverty for most and obscene wealth for a few, the banks, politicians and developers behind carving up collective properties in Canada are out to destroy First Nations forever.

If Peru is to be an example for the new posture of modern states toward indigenous peoples, a holocaust of unprecedented proportions is about to descend worldwide. If that happens, the Fourth World will never be the same.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


Seventh Heaven

In 2006, San Francisco’s US Senator Dianne Feinstein sponsored a bill criminalizing any type of activism targeted at corporations. Unable to push it through under President Bush, she had to wait for that year's keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention to become president before her dreams of a totalitarian state could begin to come true. With the recent arrests by Homeland Security of anti-war and environmental activists for the crime of showing documentary films criticizing the arms and energy industries, Feinstein must be in seventh heaven.



After airing a video of Indonesian troops torturing West Papuans, Survival International suspects the government of Indonesia as the culprit in the latest cyberattack against their website.

Monday, November 01, 2010


New Look

Our friends at Center for World Indigenous Studies have a new look. Check it out.


Gas Pains

In perhaps the perfect example of why excessive energy consumption is a poor plan, the EPA study of toxic chemical groundwater contamination by natural gas drilling companies might end up classified as top secret by the Department of Homeland Security. Having targeted environmental activists as terrorists for showing documentary films about the harmful practice, Homeland Security may have to arrest members of Congress for discussing the public health problem.

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