Thursday, February 28, 2013


Constructively Re-ordering the World

The opportunity now exists for nations to fulfill their obligations as mature members of the international community to work toward a peaceful world. States, the children of nations, must turn now to realistically work with nations to build a democratized international community, which ensures broad support by all of the peoples of the world.

This is not simple idealism. The means exist for representatives of nations and states to begin the process of constructively re-ordering the world. A new political order is before us. We need now only to understand our purpose to establish a peaceful and creative political climate for human development. We must put aside our fears and exercise maturity and courage to take the next step in the new era of nations and states.

--Indigenous Nations and Modern States by Rudolph C. Ryser

Monday, February 25, 2013


The Spiritual Dimension

One can argue that hierarchical religions are not an improvement on the spiritual dimension inhabited by humankind's indigenous ancestors, but one should not conflate religious discipline with an appreciation for this dimension. Religions, like modern states, are artificial constructs, developed for political control--not for the benefit of humanity. As unnatural entities, religions and states serve as superficial counterpoints to the authentic indigenous nations and their spirituality that both church and state have attempted to annihilate. Indigenous nations do not own this sacred dimension, but they do serve as caretakers of the ports of entry to accessing its magical and mysterious powers. While the majesty of creation is available to everyone, an appreciation of the humility required in order to comprehend its powers is foreclosed by the arrogance and ignorance of hierarchical religions.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Liquidating the 1%

There is no disputing the crimes of the 1%; they are already part of the public record. The only question is the punishment. Do we settle their debt to humanity by determining their liabilities and applying their assets to their discharge, or do we merely terminate the operations that enabled them to defraud us in the first place? We could, of course, eliminate the aristocratic perpetrators as other generations have done with nooses, bullets and guillotines, but we'd still have to deal with the residuals of their grand larcenies.

Perhaps a combination of the three would be most efficacious.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


The Ultimate Sin

While the institutionalization of theft as an economic practice is centuries old, its enshrinement in international law since the founding of the United Nations in 1945 has increasingly lent legalized larceny an air of inevitability if not legitimacy. Yet, as UN-backed austerity measures sweep the planet, the globalization of poverty generated by institutionalized theft is creating the conditions for a vast mobilization of resentment. While institutions and affiliated networks work hand in glove with markets to consolidate theft as a way of life, the environmental, pro-democracy and indigenous peoples movements are finding common ground in opposing this colossal fraud. Even as institutions market the glorification of theft and its icons like Microsoft and the Open Society Institute, they are finding it difficult to contain the indignant rage of the world aimed at tax-dodging, money-laundering market entities dependent on the policies of institutionalized theft. As the breakdown of modern states accelerates in large part due to institutionalized theft, there is a window of opportunity for indigenous nations to take the lead in reversing this corrosion of human values. As the delinquents of institutionalized theft are slowly called to account, networks of integrity are positioned to recreate the international regime in ways that return a public sense of theft as the ultimate sin.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Ill-Gotten Gains

While tens of millions of Americans on food stamps go hungry trying to eat on less than $200 a month, American corporations are using their $700 billion gift from the US taxpayers to award themselves bonuses while lounging on the beach outside Cayman Island Banks where they avoid paying taxes and launder ill-gotten gains. Calling to account such beneficiaries of taxpayer largesse as Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders has introduced the Corporate Tax Dodging Prevention Act. We wish him well.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Rightful Owners

Likening indigenous usage of landscapes to indigenous application within ideoscapes, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples James Anaya informed the World Intellectual Property Organization that property rights bias towards the individual rather than the collective in international law is fundamental to the historic lack of recognition accorded to the accumulated traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples that produced such products as the four thousand varieties of the potato. Where outmoded doctrines like terra nullius have been rejected under contemporary international law as a discriminatory colonial rationalization of theft of indigenous peoples lands, insistence on legal patents acquired through expensive legal processes continue to exclude indigenous peoples from benefiting as rightful owners of traditional knowledge and genetic resources they developed collectively over time. Allowing the colonization of their intellectual properties through international legal regimes is in essence a continuation of the largely European process that historically alienated their rights to their inherent territories.

Friday, February 08, 2013


A Labor of Love

In their report Growing A Resilient City, Solidarity NYC examines possibilities for collaboration in New York City's solidarity economy. The ideas and insights of interviewees, who are first responders to the crises confronting their communities, form a pragmatic vision grounded in values of cooperation, mutualism, ecological sustainability, social justice and democracy. This report about another world -- coexisting with the dominant way of doing things -- is their love letter to you.

Thursday, February 07, 2013


Closing the Loopholes

With the failure of the US federal government to police financial fraud by American corporations, state governments suffering financial losses and declining public services are looking for ways to close the loopholes created by Congress. Instrumental in that effort is closing down tax havens and money-laundering. In their latest report on the subject, Public Interest Research Group examines The Hidden Cost of Offshore Tax Havens, and recommends remedies US states can take toward recovering their losses and restoring fairness to the tax system.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013


Public Mental Health

More than once, America has been likened to a vast insane asylum, where race, religion and revenge run rampant in a vortex of violence. If one wants to understand this uniquely American form of mental instability, one can of course turn to reports by the World Health Organization or the Archives of General Psychiatry, but one doesn't have to be a scholar to appreciate the fact that America's public mental health problems are related to American history. All one need do to comprehend why American prisons are full of young Black men, or why American Indian youth are three times more likely to commit suicide is read documents from the history of US policy. The consequences were inevitable.

So living in the land of Puritans, Pentecostals, Scientology and Mormonism, where even the mainstream religions played a part in dehumanizing us and our ancestors, one might reasonably ask what are we to do. Since it is a matter of public policy, approaching public mental health should arguably be a public concern, addressed in public venues by public officials, and attended by the public.

The State of Maine and the Wabanaki Nation recently initiated a public process to address the mistreatment of Wabanaki communities by church and state through the child welfare and residential school systems. As a means of healing some of the wounds caused by this inhumane treatment of American Indian families, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission jointly established by Maine and the Wabanaki hopes to move forward together by recognizing historical injustices and the present traumas they caused. As a process of improving public mental health, the commission will begin with a period of reflection and prayer, followed by public testimony and listening. Maybe in time there will be healing, but as the director of child welfare observed, that will take work, changes in policy, and public learning. The same might be said for all the many other public ailments that afflict us.

Monday, February 04, 2013


A Tenuous Proposition

As former Guatemala president Rios Montt goes on trial for genocide against the Maya, repression of indigenous rights in Guatemala continues. As reported at Americas Quarterly, murder of indigenous activists by the national army at Maya protests over discriminatory policy on access to utilities and education happened as recently as last October. As Mayans of Guatemala seek political recognition, economic opportunity and cultural protection, their dispossession and displacement by the state for industrial projects perpetuates the poverty established earlier by tyrants like Montt. As Mayan communities seek greater autonomy from this malign neglect, the new president of Guatemala -- Otto Perez Molina -- is busy reconstructing the military counterinsurgency infrastructure to use against them. The only hope is that the efforts by Guatemala's Attorney General to improve the justice system, combined with the determination of the Maya to avoid another civil war, will eventually lead to democracy. For now, it is still a tenuous proposition.

Friday, February 01, 2013


Towards Tax Justice

Tax revenue on wealth held in tax havens could halve world poverty in a decade, but that will only happen if the tax justice campaign brings accountability to the international tax regime. In the 2nd Edition of Tax Us If You Can, published by the Tax Justice Network, the causes of tax injustice as well as key players in creating and maintaining tax injustice are examined along with a list of agencies addressing global tax issues and methods to move towards tax justice worldwide.

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