Monday, January 31, 2011


Pilgrims and Indians

Examining the conservative media backlash against Native American spirituality, Indian Country Today looks at the language of savagery and its roots in US history.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Social Enterprise

Much has been written about the privatization of the Balkans, especially the violent dismantling of Yugoslavia, but Bosnia -- now half privatized and half collective -- still serves to contrast socialism and capitalism. Given the mission of the World Bank and IMF is to privatize economies and eliminate social benefits like pensions and public health, the odds are stacked against successful social enterprise.

While the precepts of privatization have roots in slavery and colonialism, control of mass communication enabled the private equity movement to rebrand itself from slaver to entrepreneur. In the age of the Internet, that brand is coming under greater scrutiny.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Rekindling the Spirit

A few years ago, I spoke about the world indigenous peoples’ movement and how their spirituality and its relationship with the environment makes them particular as a group.

In 2003, Minnesota Public Radio produced an eight-part series on American Indian traditional spirituality and how it provides moral guidance, a sense of belonging, and a commitment to community among the Ojibwe. As indigenous societies worldwide struggle to heal from the impacts of religious colonization, for the Anishiinaabe, walking the Red Road has led to a renaissance of traditional medicine and healing that western medicine is at a loss to explain.

But as Ojibwe healers note, one needn’t explain the power of prayer; all that is required is a grateful attitude.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Guantanamo Continues

As President Obama continues to imprison suspects without trial at Guantanamo, US and European centers for constitutional rights have filed a petition with a Spanish court to have the former commander of Guantanamo charged with violation of international law prohibiting torture and abuse of prisoners. After running the illegal program at Guantanamo, Major General Geoffrey Miller went on to initiate the notorious abuses at the infamous Abu Ghraib US military prison in Iraq.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


High Crimes

Five years ago, as we hoped in vain that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald would indict officials in the White House for high crimes in the Plame affair, there was a moment when we thought Vice President Cheney might join former President Nixon in the Justice Department's hall of shame. That didn't happen.

Today, as Fitzgerald prepares to drag peace activists before a grand jury for the trumped up crime of opposing US militarism, we can see that advocating for peace is a much more serious offense in the eyes of the FBI than leading our country into wars based on fraud.

As the movie Fair Game documents the White House scheme to destroy the lives of a CIA agent and her US ambassador husband for shining a light on the lies that led to hundreds of thousands of needless deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq, we might rightly ask what values the US government now stands for. While conscientious former FBI agents like Mike German, Colleen Rowley and John P. O'Neill risked their careers and lives to protect Americans from real enemies foreign and domestic, the Department of Justice under Obama has chosen to harass the innocent.

Monday, January 17, 2011



Tim Fontaine of Media Indigena reports on the unusual banning of native spirituality by a Cree community in northern Quebec, what one of his readers says is the ultimate act of assimilation.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Obama's Enemies List

The US Department of Justice Friday ordered Twitter to rat out Wikileaks. Reminds me of the Nixon White House and his enemies list.

Friday, January 14, 2011


Obama's Moral Cowardice

Moral cowardice is nothing new for President Obama, it defines who he is. In providing amnesty for right-wing purveyors of bigotry, Obama followed in the anti-intellectual footsteps of his philosophical mentor Ronald Reagan. Speaking on the Tucson massacre, President Obama, Attorney General Holder, and Homeland Security Director Napolitano provided religious bromides, but no hope for change.

As noted by Patrick Martin, this cover-up of the social context by the top officials in public security and law enforcement amounted to a calculated detour to avoid their constitutional duties, as well as deter public discussion about what is happening in America.

Bamababies like to think of their hero as a reincarnated FDR, but rather than face down fascism, Obama -- along with his cabinet -- is doing everything he can to placate fascism, and has done so since the inception of his administration. As FOX News and Christian Identity websites host advocates of murder day in and day out, without interference from federal regulatory or law enforcement agencies, Americans find they are on their own in battling the Christian Patriots unleashed on the targets these purveyors provide. That is the price of Obama's moral cowardice.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Punishable by Death

Bruce Wilson reports on American Christians behind the campaign in Uganda to make homosexuality punishable by death.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Collective Punishment

The Goldstone Report, an abridged copy of the UN report on the 2008-2009 attack on Gaza by the State of Israel, is now available in book form. Edited by Adam Horowitz, Lizzy Ratner and Phillip Weiss -- with a foreword by Desmond Tutu -- the documentation of collective punishment against Palestine also serves as a primer on war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Saturday, January 08, 2011


Patriots 6 Traitors 0

Author Frederick Clarkson reminds us that when Christian Patriot friends of Sarah Palin do things like murder federal judges or attempt to assassinate members of Congress, there's a reason. Part of that is brain damage, but the catalyst for Constitution Party members and other vigilantes is demonizing by right-wing demagogues, especially Christian Reconstructionist preachers.

As political analyst Chip Berlet observes, there's also a history.

A while back, Paul de Armond -- helping to put the far right into perspective -- examined the logic of Christian Patriot incoherence, and took a close look at the mostly Christian anti-democratic movement in America.

Researcher Devin Burghart notes the response to the shooting by Tea Party and Minutemen militia leaders is that they have no intent of toning down their violent rhetoric. Rather, they are calling for vigilantes across the country to go on the attack.


Small is Beautiful

Over the last century, the number of states in the world has doubled, while the number of governments has remained roughly the same. Many of these new states represent administrative units of colonial empires, that unfortunately do not correspond with original political realities. As such, the enduring aboriginal nations incorporated into empires and the states that emerged in their aftermath continue to represent the only natural political entities.

These political entities, belatedly recognized by the United Nations and most of its member states, have seen empires come and go, from precolonial Inca and Mali, to Roman, British and Soviet. Throughout these powerful exchanges, original nations like Basque, Ogoni and Cherokee have learned much about scale and authenticity, which relates to political endurance, diversity and sustainability.

Perhaps the greatest lesson they learned is that small is beautiful.

Thursday, January 06, 2011



Black Agenda Reports notes that while all African states but Liberia have opposed AFRICOM -- the US initiative to establish military bases throughout the continent -- proxy militaries like that of Uganda continue to do America's bidding. As control of the resource rich continent increasingly becomes a contest between states like China and the US, AFRICOM (currently based in Germany) bears watching.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


Fighting for Freedom

In what might be termed a classic neoliberal response to the peaceful quest for freedom by indigenous peoples, the government of Chile recently attacked the Rapanui parliament, clubbing women and children in the process. For Chile, which is facing the reality of indigenous autonomy in the form of resistance to neocolonial development on property belonging to indigenous nations like Mapuche and Rapanui, getting unstuck from the conquistador model is proving troublesome. Rather than face up to the moral challenge of respectful reconciliation in a forthright manner, Chile has chosen to follow the US lead in declaring any move by indigenous governments toward full autonomy or independence as terrorism. In the case of the Rapanui, who are non-violent, Chile has had to result to guilt by association, claiming (without any evidence) that they are in contact with ETA, the Basque liberation army.

As the liberation of indigenous peoples proceeds apace with neoliberal assaults on their dignity and integrity, friends and allies of indigenous freedom need to attack the notion that by fighting for their freedom indigenous nations pose a threat to economic stability or world peace. In fact, the reverse is true; when states like China, Israel and the US stop denying indigenous peoples their human rights, then peace can prevail.

But the friends and allies of the World Indigenous Peoples’ Movement must also recognize the right of indigenous nations to defend themselves and their territories against neoliberal states and corporations. While we’d all prefer that fight take place in peaceful proceedings, the fact remains that violent police, vigilante and military assaults by states sometimes force indigenous societies to resort to arms. As the leading proponent and perpetrator of armed aggression, as well as the least sincere in its endorsement of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the United States has long ceased to be a beacon of freedom; its failed attempt to mount a coup against the indigenous head of state in Bolivia should serve as a warning to indigenous freedom fighters worldwide.

Sunday, January 02, 2011


The Kosovo Connection

Antifascist Calling examines how US protection for the criminal syndicate running the state of Kosovo has enabled the Albanian Mafia to traffic in narcotics, human body parts, girls and women, with little interruption from either NATO or the Hague. Given the heroin pipeline controlled by Kosovo political elites, this exception to the rule of international law, blessed by Washington and Bonn, promises to undermine both US and EU moral prestige.

Saturday, January 01, 2011


An Interesting Journey

My New College of California cohort was part of the class of 2001, an illustrious gathering of poets and scholars engaged in remaking the world. 2011, being a traditional time to reconvene and reflect on our lives ten years after, may hold some surprises.

When the school closed in 2008 due to money-laundering by the board of trustees, other members of my former cohort chose not to participate in the alumni online discussions about our alma mater. To each their own.

Today, looking back on the path I took as a result of my graduate work at New College, I can see where my studies and subsequent publications were critical in elevating my status to formal participation in world affairs. I imagine others, likewise, have had an interesting journey.

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