Friday, November 30, 2012

 

Life and Death

Since looting the US Treasury in 2008 and 2009, the financial elite -- bailed out by the citizens of the United States -- have been breathing their own exhaust to the extent they seem to believe their own rhetoric. As reported in the Huffington Post, CEOs fattened at the government trough are now advocating that government cut loose the poor and elderly. Fixing the deficit caused by their government-sponsored champagne lunch, say CEOs of criminal enterprises like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase, requires cutting Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare.

Meanwhile, as reported at Al Jazeera, tax havens where the financial elite hide the trillions extracted from governments and laundered from criminal enterprises, in order to evade paying taxes, are coming under greater scrutiny. As noted in the article, if we are going to reverse the poverty created by the financial elite, then rules will have to be both changed and enforced. Otherwise, the rigged rules that now starve our schools, hospitals and social programs will mean the death of civil society.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

 

Where All Life Began

Fifty years on since Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, school children today learn that everything is connected. Spray pesticides to control bugs, and you wipe out birds whose egg shells can no longer protect their offspring. Spray herbicides to control weeds, and cancer rates skyrocket.

Indian tribes on the Salish Sea have known this law of nature for some time; as guardians of where all life began, Coast Salish tribes like the Lummi are well aware of the consequences of the industrial way of life on their rich maritime ecosystem. The once abundant herring, salmon and Orca whales are now imperiled from past industrial development, endangered by present industrial practices, and threatened with extinction by industrial plans for the future.

At Cherry Point, within the territory of the Lummi Nation, is an aquatic reserve designated as such due to the abundance of dungeness crab and once abundant herring. As a nursery where these mainstays of the Salish diet spawn and hatch, there was good reason to maintain it in a pristine state--both for commercial and recreational fishing, as well as tourism. In many ways, it's where all life began.

As noted in the November 28 issue of Cascadia Weekly, the endangered Chinook salmon live on herring, and the threatened Orcas live on Chinook. Thus, school children might observe, everything is connected. When the State of Washington allowed two oil refineries and an aluminum smelter to develop on the shoreline at Cherry Point, it didn't take a genius to figure out that all life is vulnerable. When in 1972 there was a Cherry Point oil spill leading to genetic mutation of the herring and a precipitous decline in their biomass, the raucous gulls that feed on the spring spawn of herring were silenced. What you might call the Salish version of silent spring.

Today, while coal companies and shipping companies promote plans to turn Cherry Point into the largest coal export terminal in North America, the Lummi and Chinook and Orca of the Salish Sea are trying to hang on to the remnants of their former abundance. In Salish Bounty -- a traveling food history exhibit of the Tulalip Tribes and the Burke Museum -- Coast Salish food traditions that create good health are juxtaposed with the commodity foods and fast foods that supplanted the native diet of the Northwest tribes that inhabit the territory between Seattle and Vancouver and the Pacific Ocean.

As noted in an article at Indian Country Today, the new exhibit looks at food to explain the history of Northwest tribes and to imagine a future that revives the Coast Salish food traditions that support the good health of families and communities. More information on Coast Salish traditional plants and foods is available through Northwest Indian College.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

 

Power Down

Conservation is more than a sound social practice; to indigenous peoples it’s a law of nature. Common sense terms like waste not want not no doubt have roots in tribal societies.

In fact, conservation, cooperation and reciprocity represent the core values of indigenous nations–something settler societies based on consumption, competition and larceny have a hard time getting their minds around. Observing how the settlers squander finite energy resources like coal, oil and gas, it’s a wonder they’ve managed to survive.

Of course, settler societies were built the world over on other peoples’ land. Their relationship with the resources vital to sustaining life are profane, not sacred.

As the settlers bleed the earth dry of fossil fuels for export, extravagance and warfare, indigenous peoples suffer disproportionately. Their traditional foods, cultural values and sacred sites are diminished if not obliterated.

Insanity is sometimes described as continuing to do what didn’t work before in the hope that maybe it will next time. Carbonizing the Tar Sands oil and Powder River coal energy reserves of North America in Chinese industrial ovens is perhaps the only thing crazier than burning a million barrels per day of our fossil fuel invading Asia and Africa to plunder theirs. If humans are going to survive climate change, we need to power down in more ways than one.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

 

The Finance Curse

What do Google, Amazon and Starbucks have in common? They're tax cheats! But they're not the only ones. As Taxcast reports on tackling tax havens and the finance curse, the Tax Justice Network is just getting started.

Politicians beware! You can't cover up their crimes anymore.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

 

A Hope and a Dream

In his American Indian Law Journal article Of Whaling, Judicial Fiats, Treaties and Indians: The Makah Saga Continues, Jeremy Stevens recounts the development of federal Indian law in the United States, and its intersection with conservation regulatory schemes by both the federal and state governments. Of particular focus, is the evolution of treaty-reserved whaling by the Makah Tribe of Washington state.

As Stevens writes, "Whereas once the Makah were warriors, mastering the storms and calms and collecting for their kin the giants of the deep, now the Makah have only their bit of earth, the rain, and a whisper, a hope and a dream." Denied by federal courts their practice of whaling, once proud and active Makah youth have turned to drugs and alcohol.

As Stevens notes, the absence of whaling presents devastating consequences on Makah health and their collective psyche. Prohibited from hunting whales in exercise of its treaty-reserved right, Makah tribal sovereignty and cultural distinction -- linked with whaling as a critical part of its spiritual profile -- live under the stress of a concerted effort to derail a religious activity and an important aspect of tribal identity.

Monday, November 19, 2012

 

World Bank Fraud

As the World Bank proceeds apace with Free Market neocolonialism, its public relations bureau scrambles to maintain the illusion of respect for international law in the realm of human rights. Even as this UN institution colludes with the US and the EU to undermine the sovereignty of modern states and indigenous nations opposed to Free Market tyranny -- conducting coups d' etat under the guise of Rainbow Revolutions -- the allegedly inclusive proceedings of the UN continue to exclude and marginalize the Third and Fourth World. So it comes as no surprise that the World Bank now fetes us with more empty promises about yet another deceptive process aimed at increasing transparency and concern for human rights--by the very body that has treated them with utter contempt.

Hypocrisy seems to soft a word.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

 

Tax Evasion and Austerity

The Tax Justice Network looks to be doing some public good exposing tax evasion worldwide. Meanwhile, AC reports on tax evasion and money-laundering coverups by governments in Europe, including Greece, where IMF/EU-imposed austerity measures against workers are creating desperate poverty, while the rich are routinely protected from criminal prosecution.

Back in America, Paul Jay of The Real News Network interviews Bill Black on Obama’s great betrayal. As the Obama 2012 agenda released just before election day is to cut social programs, bringing economic and social ruin to the United States like austerity has already done in Europe, Black says we must prepare to fight Obama tooth and nail.

While we are understandably relieved to have kept the social monsters Romney and Ryan out of the White House, we need to remember Obama is Wall Street’s boy, and they want nothing more than to get their hands on the trillions of our dollars in the Social Security account.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

 

Utah

The state where a white, male, Mormon, Democratic incumbent Congressman was challenged by a black, female, Mormon Republican? If you guessed Utah, you were right.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

 

The People's Bailout

Even the oligarchy's paper of record, the New York Times, couldn't help but notice that #Occupy -- not FEMA, the Red Cross, or the city government -- is leading the disaster relief effort in New York City, where two weeks into the tragedy people are still without power. Directing the provision of emergency food, medicine and clothing, #Occupy volunteers are now setting their sights on a telethon to raise funds for debt relief. Having test driven the method of buying debt for pennies on the dollar, The People's Bailout benefit for Rolling Jubilee is already sold out.

Friday, November 09, 2012

 

Contempt

Contempt: a Hollywood benefit to be held on November 13 for political prisoners railroaded by the U.S. Attorney in Seattle.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

 

Beyond All Reason

Chaos isn't a result of freedom, it's a consequence of control. When people are free to create and cooperate, a natural and benign order obtains. It's only when those who fear freedom as a threat to their privileges or control of others obstruct our capacity to create and cooperate that chaos ensues.

The inclination of humanity toward empathy and generosity, however, is not a narrative the privileged and their institutions promote. They, rather, invest heavily in indoctrinating others with a message of fear, counseling compliance, not compassion.

As Rebecca Solnit remarks in this 2009 Bombsite interview, the usual pessimistic view of human nature serves the status quo of authoritarianism, state violence, and fear incredibly well, but that what actually happens in disasters demonstrates everything an anarchist ever wanted to believe about the triumph of civil society and the failure of institutional authority.

Elite panic during natural disasters, projected in the media as social disaster, turns out to be a fabrication that Solnit attributes to elite fear of monsters of their own making. Given the elites are often venal and selfish people, it is not difficult to understand the projection of their psychoses on society as a whole. The fact they are wrong doesn't deter them from violently opposing collective efforts aimed at recovery and restoration. Collectivity in providing human needs then becomes a threat to their sense of control.

The choice between charity and solidarity, Solnit says, pits paternal authorities against mutual aid. Finding fulfillment as citizens helping others is something some elites find so anathema to their psyches that they routinely mobilize armed force to prevent it's spread among communities struck by natural disasters. The beauty and love of collectivity in public and political life scares them beyond all reason.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

 

Anti-Fascist Anarchists

Journalist Will Potter reports on anti-fascist anarchists in Athens who are protecting immigrants from neo-Nazis and Greek police.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

 

Mali Update

While the UN Security Council debates military intervention in Mali, it appears regional peacekeepers in West Africa are headed toward some sort of military intervention in order to allow the interim Mali government and indigenous rebels to sort things out, without creating further humanitarian tragedies. In a region plagued with poverty, drought and remnants of European colonial misrule, negotiating transitions to indigenous autonomy or independence is further complicated by US State Department focus on Islamic terrorism to the exclusion of legitimate human rights grievances. Given both France (the former colonial ruler of Mali) and the US are both Security Council members, reining in their tendency toward blind aggression demands that African states and civil society in the West curb the unreasonable use of force to protect state privilege at the expense of indigenous nations and their right under international law to self-governance.

Monday, November 05, 2012

 

Above the Law

In 2006, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein sponsored a bill to make activism against corporations illegal. 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 2010 arrests by Homeland Security of anti-war and environmental activists for the crime of showing documentary films criticizing the arms and energy industries, Feinstein was in seventh heaven.

Today, as Obama seeks another term as president, Abby Martin interviews author and journalist Will Potter about recent US federal law enforcement targeting of anti-corporate activists, using terrorism legislation and secret grand juries to intimidate and incarcerate people who’ve committed no crime. In another interview at Escape Velocity Radio, Potter talks about direct action environmental activists who’ve received multi-year prison sentences for non-violent crimes under the new terrorism laws.

As someone who has personally been intimidated by FBI agent threats, Potter notes that by making environmental activists political prisoners, and torturing them with solitary confinement in special Communications Management Units where they are denied human contact, the government is singling them out for human rights abuse by federal prosecutors precisely because of their success at inspiring public involvement and opposition to corporate wasting of the planet. Observing that actual domestic terrorists who commit murder because of their political beliefs — like anti-abortion activists and militias — are merely charged with the crimes they commit, without enhanced sentences for terrorism, Potter says this is because they don’t interfere with corporate profits.

As federal prosecutors and law enforcement escalate their harassment of anti-war, pro-environment, pro-democracy activists attempting to influence domestic and foreign policy, public involvement in movements like #Occupy is bound to wane. As corporations continue to push politicians toward their goal of total corporate control of government and absolute repression of dissent, the defense of civil and human rights will inevitably move from the courts to the streets.

As noted at Defending Dissent, where dissent is a crime, there is no freedom.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

 

Intercontinental Cry

Since February, I've been writing frequent op-eds for Intercontinental Cry, an independent, volunteer-run magazine dedicated to the struggles of Indigenous Peoples. Reporting essential news and film daily, IC is currently the only online grassroots journal devoted to the global indigenous movement. If authentic, uncompromising news and views are something you value, you might consider donating to IC.

 

Criteria for Solidarity

As Zapatista autonomous communities struggle to survive attacks by Mexican police and vigilantes, speakers for the Zapatista movement of liberation are reaching out to the world to prevent further massacres by the stormtroopers of Free Trade. When the choice is between assimilation or annihilation, one has to reconsider non-violent restrictions as criteria for solidarity. As privileged members of the first world, do we have a right to insist that the people of the Fourth World not defend themselves?

Saturday, November 03, 2012

 

Just Business

While I can see where some might have a problem with Romney's fortune accruing from his association with Central American financiers involved with the notorious death squads, it is Romney's investment in promoting ill health in Russia, Ukraine and the Balkans on behalf of the big three American tobacco companies that might be his undoing. As Joanna Brooks writes at Religion Dispatches, even Mormons might have a problem with that.

Friday, November 02, 2012

 

Subverting Sovereignty

As reported at Wrong Kind of Green, the expulsion of USAID from Russia and Latin America is long overdue, and given the history of USAID's involvement in overthrowing and destabilizing governments unwilling to yield to US dictates, it's surprising that it took so long. This doesn't mean that the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency will stop spying on governments that seek independence from the US; it simply means that US spies and provocateurs will no longer be able to work undercover as USAID operatives.

As noted in other WKOG articles and special reports, though, US spies and provocateurs will still be able to work undercover as employees of NGOs, funded by foundations established by US elites to undermine opposition to US hegemony. With help from the Rockefellers, Ford and Soros, subverting sovereignty and derailing democracy worldwide will continue, albeit in a manner that puts authentic non-profits and independent journalists at risk.

While this is a risk that US elites are more than willing to take, it is understandable that some countries will see classifying all Americans visiting their countries as possible spies as a precautionary principle. It's merely the logical consequence of a half century of perverted US foreign policy.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

 

Masquerading As Agents For Change

In 2008, I cobbled together some discussions from comments on a now defunct blog that in 2006 had an incredible ongoing dialogue amidst the chaos of the second Bush/Cheney Administration. Titled American Psyche, my compilation admittedly lacks the context of the missing posts they were discussing, but they nevertheless contain some perhaps interesting and useful ideas.

Much of what we were talking about was focused on discussions led by Sara Robinson, a neo-liberal guest columnist hosted on Orcinus blog, who wrote about such things as fear-mongering.


At the time in 2006, the Democratic Leadership Council was setting Obama up to be the president-elect in 2008, by arranging for him to sell his soul to Goldman Sachs. Harper's magazine covered the deal, and traced it back to meetings in 2004, but 2006 was when Obama was first introduced to a national audience as the new golden boy.

With this as background, the Democratic Party network was funding fake grassroots groups like the Campaign for America's Future -- of whom Sara Robinson by 2009 was an up and coming pseudo anti-fascist -- with a two-pronged agenda. One, to promote the idea that Republicans were the equivalent of Nazis, and two, that anyone who didn't support neo-liberals wasn't worthy as citizens of full participation in public policy development.

As the Nazi theme faded as a hot topic, Ms. Robinson shapeshifted into a Hillary wannabe on climate policy, offering cover for corporate states planning to undermine civil society and indigenous nations at the climate change talks in Copenhagen. Her effrontery as a self-proclaimed visionary futurist was something to behold. If the incoherence of this capitalist activism sounds bizarre now, imagine our encounter at the time.

As it turns out, she apparently hasn't been writing anything for almost a couple years, which is just as well.With all the environmental, civil society and human rights corporate sycophants running around, though, I thought it might be good to talk about how the propaganda of this professional milieu I sometimes call capitalist activists influence public perceptions and policy regarding indigenous peoples. Sara Robinson may be defunct as a mouthpiece of the political status quo masquerading as an agent for change, but others like her abound.

The examples of her particular nonsense, nonetheless, are illustrative of the techniques of marginalization that help insulate the oligarchy and their institutions from social disapproval and civil indignation. The red-baiting and other anti-collectivist memes they propagate help legitimize the neo-colonial brutality toward the Fourth World we see worldwide, and characterizing the Fourth World as illegitimate obstructionists to progress is likely to accelerate with the concomitant depletion of key resources. While neo-liberals like Robinson are careful not to express their bigotry openly, their ideological arrogance serves the same purpose.

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