Friday, April 26, 2013


The Radical Right

Looking at Howard Phillips' role in using religion to radicalize the political right, Rachel Tabachnick notes the key was uniting Free Market Christians with the white supremacists in the Constitution Party and the Christian Reconstructionists now behind Ron Paul initiatives through The Conservative Caucus.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Christian Hate

The Chairwoman of Republican Liberty Caucus of Washington (the Ron Paul formation), is Sandi Brendale, wife of Philip Brendale--a featured speaker at the regional Anti-Indian Conference held in Bellingham on April 6. 

On a related but separate topic, Rob Boston has an article today on Ron Paul teaming up with the Christian Reconstructionists (Old Testament "stoners"). It might be interesting to know where the Brendales fit within the spectrum of Far-Right Christians. Sandi Brendale, by the way, is an Eagle Forum media expert.

I also notice that other than Cascadia Weekly and Intercontinental Cry, no other media (right-wing radio excepted) has even mentioned the hate campaign conference, let alone its implications.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Family Values

When I did undercover investigation of Christian Right property-rights groups in the 1990s, one of the oddities I encountered was a hostility toward not only sex education in the public schools, but also talking circles used by elementary school educators to acquire indications of any children that might be experiencing sexual abuse in the home. Given the Christian Right philosophy of male-led hierarchy, where his wife and children are considered property, this concern about exposure of some ugly truths was understandable.

While it's commonly understood that psychological abuse of children is rampant in the Christian Right, the horror of sexual abuse in this religious society was rarely discussed by media. That has now changed.

In his article The Christian Right & Child Sex Abuse, Frederick Clarkson shines a light on not only the hypocrisy of the conservative Catholic Bishops in covering up sex offenders in their predatory clergy, but also examines the American poster child of family values, the Southern Baptist Convention.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Anti-Indian History

On September 20, 1992, CBS 60 Minutes aired a segment on the violence of the industry-backed Wise Use Movement, focusing on the threats, intimidation, and assaults against parents and community groups in the US who raised concerns about water and air pollution. Caught on film were movement provocateurs Chuck Cushman and Skip Richards, as well as movement propagandist Ron Arnold — all based in Washington State — and interestingly, David Macintosh, White House staff representing President Bush at a national Wise Use gathering. On behalf of President George H.W. Bush, Macintosh congratulated them for the role they were playing in shaping US policy. As Mr. Macintosh put it, “This is an important movement—one that reflects the American people’s desire to have sensible government.” Part of the footage of Clean Water, Clean Air was shot in Whatcom County, Washington where the April 6, 2013 Anti-Indian Conference organized by Skip Richards was held.

In the Pacific Northwest, the threats in the early 1990s were coming from folks stirred up by the real estate development industry against environmental protection and Indian treaties. In the Fall of 1994, the Committee for Environmental Justice (a militia front group) was hosted by Building Industry Association contract field agent Skip Richards at the Laurel Grange. Days after the Laurel Grange militia revival, there was a cross-burning and shotgun attack at a nearby migrant workers’ camp.

In January 1995, Whatcom County Council member Marlene Dawson — a real estate speculator on the Lummi Indian Reservation — urged U.S. Senator Slade Gorton to “drastically cut Lummi funding” on behalf of her and other white fee land owners. The Fee Land Owners Association (FLOA), in which Marlene was active, had been at odds with the tribe over the sovereignty of Lummi Nation to manage water resources within its own jurisdiction. To the white developers, this interfered with their ability to make easy money at the expense of the tribe.

This situation played out on numerous Indian reservations throughout the state, especially those with waterfront. Puget Sound was notorious for battles between tribes and developers. United Property Owners of Washington (UPOW), which has since become One Nation United (ONU), was the umbrella lobbying and litigation organization for the whites. Former U.S. Representative Jack Metcalf from Langley on Whidbey Island (whose father was a Silver Shirt Nazi-sympathizer during World War II) served on UPOW’s board.

Senator Gorton made a name for himself in the 1970s as the Washington State Attorney General who led the fight to deprive Washington Indian tribes of their fishing rights guaranteed under the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliot. In 1974 Lummi and Samish Indians had their boats rammed and were shot at while fishing salmon. As a U.S. Senator in 1995, Gorton took the action of threatening to deprive the Lummis of funds used to support such needs as health services for their elders and the Head Start program for their children.

After an armed stand-off on the reservation between Lummi Police and Whatcom County Sheriff’s Deputies at the site of a Lummi Nation well, Anti-Indian organizers stepped up their activities. Several Indian youth were harassed and assaulted in the nearby Ferndale School District, and placard-carrying contingents from FLOA, stirred up by Skip Richards’ and his new partner Kris Heintz’ propaganda equating property-rights with civil rights, became regulars at County Council meetings.

In May 1995, Ben Hinckle, who’d opened for Chuck Cushman at a Wise Use Rome Grange revival, hosted an open-to-the-public Citizens for Liberty meeting at Squalicum Harbor Center. Citizens for Liberty — an amalgam of adherents of the John Birch Society, Liberty Lobby, and other racist /anti-Semitic organizations — was waxing as a militia recruiting group, drawing interest from less stable members of Fee Land Owners Association and other property-rights fanatics. The new political climate boastfully created by the Building Industry Association, had clearly signaled it was time for these dormant Minutemen to prepare for action.

In September 1995, Bellingham’s KGMI radio talk-show host, Jeff Kent, led Fee Land Owners Association representatives Jeff McKay and Linnea Smith in an hour-long diatribe against the Lummis. When U.S. Senator Gorton stepped up his attack against Native sovereignty, Washington Environmental Council and the Washington Association of Churches joined the Lummis in condemning this unconscionable act of revenge for losing the fish wars in federal court as a younger man.

In November 1995, Citizens for Liberty sponsored a talk by Ron Arnold, the hate-mongering Wise Use propagandist from the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise in Bellevue. Arnold, Merchant of Fear Alan Gottlieb’s partner, is a not so subtle master of violent rhetoric, who covers himself by claiming his calls to “kill the bastards” (environmentalists) are metaphorical. In December 1991, Arnold had met with Building Industry Association officials Art Castle and Jim Klauser to discuss formation of the Washington Property Rights Network in order to fund and organize an astroturf rebellion.

Shortly after, in May 1992, Castle, Richards and real estate developer Bill Geyer incorporated CLUE — a property rights group — that promptly paid Chuck Cushman $1,000 to incite heckler-filled crowds to storm Whatcom County Council meetings. In June, the Whatcom County Republican Central Committee endorsed their efforts, and a year later Castle and Geyer started Keystone Forum Political Action Committee that captured seven out of eight local council positions in elections that November. In March 1994, Chuck Cushman returned to help with the militia recruiting drive.

Movement entrepreneurs Arnold and Cushman — national players who mobilize ruffians to carry the banner for industry — generate violence toward Indians and environmentalists from coast to coast. According to former Western States Center researcher Jonn Lunsford, crimes including “animal mutilation, property damage, death threats, arson, assault and battery, bombings, and attempted murder” follow in their wake. In May 1988, Cushman was the featured speaker at Protect America’s Rights and Resource’s national convention in Wisconsin, held to oppose honoring Indian treaties. Shortly after his 1988 appearance, Indian fishermen there were assaulted and shot at by sports fishermen.

On November 11, 1995 (Veterans Day), a group calling itself the Washington State Militia met at the Rome Grange just outside Bellingham. As it turns out, they had already scheduled John Trochman to come speak in the near future at the Lakeway Inn in Bellingham. At the time,  John Trochman was the leader of the Militia of Montana, a heavily armed outfit that wasn’t above robbing banks, storming county jails to bust out their buddies, and engaging in shoot-outs with state police when pulled over for traffic infractions.

After intervention by church and human rights leaders in Bellingham and Seattle, the management of the Bellingham Lakeway Inn, cancelled the Trochman reservation, forcing the militia recruiters to relocate their event to Mt. Vernon, thirty miles south. With this advance warning, human rights activists in Skagit County merged with those from Whatcom County in protest on the day of the big event.

Eric Ward of the Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment was terrified with, “the idea of militias being able to utilize the electoral force of Wise Use groups” to legitimize racist based policies regionally and nationally. In Whatcom, Snohomish, and Chelan Counties, this epidemic was in full swing.

July 1996 brought several surprises to Whatcom County, not the least of which was a press conference by the U.S. Department of Justice, announcing the bust of eight local individuals for involvement in bomb-making and illegal modification of firearms into fully-automatic weapons—machine guns.

In August 1996, after four and a half years of cover-up by the Bellingham Herald, the Wise Use/militia connection was finally revealed in the Portland Oregonian. This was soon followed by an article in the Anacortes American, the first coverage by a paper inside the Washington State legislative district Skip Richards hoped to represent.

In October, trailing distantly in the polls, candidate Richards chose to play the race card in the general election, insinuating in his campaign literature that the Indians (presumably through guarding their treaty rights) were undermining all that the white people had struggled to build in Whatcom County. His associate Bill Geyer’s County Executive campaign also flopped, in spite of the Herald’s refusal to connect him to Wise Use. The third member of the local trio who’d initiated the faux property-rights rebellion (as well as a key figure in the Washington Property Rights Network that subverted elections in 14 counties) — Building Industry Association executive Art Castle — relocated to the Kitsap Peninsula.

On January 15, 1997, the trial of eight Washington State Militia members began in federal court in Seattle. One of their secretly recorded conversations, introduced as evidence, included a discussion about a route through the heavily wooded Whatcom Falls Park to the rear of the home of Whatcom Human Rights Task Force Chair Damani Johnson. Some of the defendants were set free due to a juror’s inability to follow the judge’s instructions; others went to prison for four years. Bellingham Herald crime reporter, Cathy Logg — who courageously covered the arrests and had her home and computer broken into — eventually moved away from Whatcom County.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


The Right Direction

As I observed in See the Light, the North American Indigenous Peoples Caucus is in a quandary over how to proceed after its failure to achieve a consensus at its March 1 meeting in Sycuan. With the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues expecting a report from NAIPC before its document consolidation meeting next month in Madrid, some of the NGOs participating in the NAIPC don’t know what to do.

With the Global Preparatory Conference looming in Alta, Norway in June, some NGO leaders have suggested making something up–creating the illusion of consensus where none exists. Alas, that, too, is an idea doomed in advance. While it might be uncomfortable for some to admit, Sycuan was a failure, and that is the only honest thing to report.

As evidenced by the official invitation, sent from NAIPC Co-Coordinators Debra Harry and Arthur Manuel to indigenous peoples and nations for the North American Indigenous Peoples Preparatory Meeting in Sycuan, this preparatory meeting for the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples was to be held on February 28 and March 1.

Also in the invitation, is notice of a separate meeting for the NAIPC to be held March 2 and 3. There is no clarification of the different functions of the two separate meetings, nor why the caucus would be in charge of both events if one event was for both the caucus and tribal governing authorities, and one event was for the caucus only.

Nor is there any description of what the caucus is, or how it derived its powers. If ever there was a recipe for confusion, this invitation would be it.

Now that the meeting in Sycuan and its aftermath have blown up in Harry and Manuel’s faces, they seem to be attempting to salvage their failure as the coordinators at Sycuan by promoting the idea that the decisions made by a small group of NGOs at the exclusive March 2 and 3 meeting is somehow representative of North American Indigenous Peoples. It is not, and no amount of sophistry can change that. They can send their report to the UN, and pretend it is legitimate, but that would in essence be fraud.

Sometimes NGOs are so results-driven that they can’t imagine saying something so simple as we failed; we reached no consensus. Yet, that is what is necessary in order to move forward. Admit failure, then ask yourself why. That way, you can avoid failing again. It’s not the end of the world.

As Oldwoman Bear remarks at the NAIPC list serv, good points  have been raised regarding a need to look at the way things are done. “As Treaty Nations,” she states, “we have long been concerned about the issue of Free, Prior and Informed Consent [and that] applies not only to state governments but to organizations that attempt to speak for Indigenous Nations without proper authorization. We are not an organization”, she says, ” we are Nations.”

As Oldwoman Bear reminds them,  “Indigenous Peoples are spiritual peoples – we always have to remember who we are – as spiritual peoples – we have asked spirits to help us with the work ahead – to my mind – it is too late to start thinking about changing that decision. If we start playing around with the spirits – we can cause problems for ourselves and the future generations – so it is with great respect that I write this email – think about our future generations – think about what will happen if we constantly  change our minds after the gatherings because things did not go your way – think about it – because it might be the right direction that cannot be seen in the immediate time after the gathering – so take the time and reflect – we need to think together for the future generations – that was the meaning of the ceremonies at the beginning of the gathering – it was to bring our minds together – it was not a “ceremony” for the sake of a “ceremony” – it was for a purpose – it is for us to understand and work with it. ”

As Richard C. Powless of Wolf Clan, Mohawk Nation suggests, “I still think its time we started to push for change in the international/UN/Indigenous process. Why,” he asks, “are we content to be forced to come up with just ONE position for the over 100+ Indigenous Governments in North America? The UN member states aren’t forced to come up with one position. Its time we pushed for each Indigenous Government to speak for themselves.”

Powless goes on to say, “The issue of who is or represents an Indigenous Government is our business and in itself will not be an easy task and will take some time to sort out,  but it won’t happen if it doesn’t start. Maybe an interim solution,” he suggests, “is to continue with the NA Indigenous Peoples forum but also to start a North American Indigenous Governments’ forum.”


Looking After His Own

While Switzerland is criticized for frustrating tax haven abolition efforts in Europe, President Obama continues playing corporate loophole shell games to cover for his lack of initiative to end tax avoidance. After failing to prosecute a single individual in the wake of the banking fraud scandal, one wonders if Obama would even lift a finger to go after proven perpetrators of tax evasion.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Anti-Indian Conference

The April 6, 2013 NW Round-Up Regional Educational Conference held at the Lakeway Inn in Bellingham, Washington was sponsored by the foremost Anti-Indian organization in the United States. Citizens Equal Rights Alliance is one of several Anti-Indian organizations operating in Washington State.

As the registration form for the conference states, the conference was for learning about how to fight American Indian fee to trust, casino gambling, water rights, land acquisitions and sovereignty. CERA vice chair Butch Cranford of Plymouth, California and CERA board member Elaine Willman from Hobart, Wisconsin were featured speakers at the Bellingham conference on Federal Indian Policy Issues.

Interviewed live from the April 6 CERA conference on Far-Right Christian Anti-Indian Radio KGMI, Willman characterized tribes as casino bullies who now want half the water, stating that the only way to stop them is to strengthen states’ rights and private property rights and get rid of Federal Indian Policy.

Philip Brendale, another speaker at the April 6 CERA conference in Bellingham, has considerable experience fighting tribal sovereignty, as evidenced by this U.S. Supreme Court case against Yakama Indian Nation. Brendale is noted in this article from the Klamath River Basin water dispute, as is Elaine Willman. Interviewed by Tea Party activist Kris Halterman on the same live radio podcast with Willman, Brendale said tribal fishing rights should be eliminated, along with other treaty rights.

On the March 30 episode of Halterman's program Saturday Morning Live, Willman stated that secret collusion between Washington State, the Federal Government and Indian tribes through government to government relations -- otherwise known as Tribal Centennial Accords -- is, "taking down Washington State." She closed by saying that the April 6 CERA conference would teach local officials and citizens how to take on tribal governments.

On a November 3, 2012 KGMI podcast about Native American tribes, Willman distorted American Indian treaty history beyond recognition, stating that their special, taxpayer-funded, race-based perks allow them to, “confiscate natural resources.” Not satisfied with calling for the elimination of tribal sovereignty, Willman went on to state that, “Tribalism is socialism [and] has no place in our country!”

Brendale’s wife is a lobbyist and media expert with Eagle Forum, a Far-Right Christian organization. This phenomenon of Free Market, Far-Right Christian Indians used by white supremacists for cover in subverting tribal sovereignty is a sad but true aspect of American political insanity.

Using Indians who oppose tribal sovereignty as speakers is a key strategy of CERA, giving them cover from accusations of being white supremacist. As Brendale admits in this video where he was helping to fight the Nisqually Tribe, his mission is to “take down federal Indian policy.”

Reverend Tom Grey is an anti-gambling missionary. He might have been the Tom Grey who was listed as a speaker at the CERA conference in Bellingham.

Lana Marcussen, CERA legal counsel, asserts destroying tribal sovereignty is a civil rights struggle to free the Indians. As this article shows, she is a states’ rights, anti-sovereignty advocate. She has been active in fighting tribes in California.

The local organizers for the Anti-Indian conference were CERA board member Tom Williams of Lynden, Washington and Skip Richards, a Bellingham consultant with a twenty-year history of Anti-Indian organizing as both a property-rights advocate and a collaborator with Christian Patriot militias. His photo on his LinkedIn page is from a militia recruiting meeting he hosted at the Laurel Grange in October 1994.

On the March 30 episode of Wealth Wake Up with KGMI’s Dick Donahue, Tom Williams said the facade of tribal sovereignty allows Indians citizenship privileges without paying taxes. Accentuating his ignorance about treaties, taxation and Indian law, Williams revealed his underlying bigotry, stating, “We should not support them; they should be citizens like the rest of us.”

Skip Richards got his start as a merchant of fear in the early 1990s when he was a paid field agent provocateur of the Building Industry Association, which had teamed up with the Washington Association of Realtors to undermine Washington State’s Growth Management Act. From 1992 to 1996, the industry funded and organized field agent provocateurs who went on a rampage inciting vigilantism against Native Americans and environmentalists in 14 counties, culminating in the arrest and conviction of eight individuals on federal firearms and explosives charges.

Sometimes the spear-carriers, those who believe the hoax and get excited enough to threaten opponents, are looking for a windfall economic opportunity. But the only ones who usually profit from these hate campaigns are the social movement entrepreneurs and their industry backers. What you’ll often see in their aftermath is a rightward or criminal shift in public policy rules and regulations as a result of the consolidation or seizure of political power. In a July 1996 High Country News interview, Skip Richards stated the two things he needed to know in politics were, "who to threaten and who to bribe."

The other local Anti-Indian activist on the event billing was Marlene Dawson. In January 1995, as a Whatcom County Council member, Marlene — wife of a realtor on the Lummi Indian Reservation — urged U.S. Senator Slade Gorton to “drastically cut Lummi funding” on behalf of her and other white fee land owners. The Fee Land Owners Association (FLOA), in which Mrs. Dawson was active, had been at odds with the tribe over the sovereignty of Lummi Nation to manage water resources within its own jurisdiction. To the white developers, this interfered with their ability to make easy money at the expense of the tribe. Had Dawson succeeded in her vindictiveness, drastic cuts to Lummi funding could have imperiled such services as Head Start for their kids, as well as elder care programs.

For background on Richards, readers might find the following Public Good Project special reports useful.
Reign of Terror
Common Sense About the Richards Militia Controversy
Militia and CLUE Activity in Whatcom and Snohomish Counties
Skip Richards’ Years of Contact with Christian Patriot Militias
Wise Use in Northern Puget Sound
A Not So Distant Mirror

Anti-Indian Organizations in Washington State

CAPR Citizens Alliance for Property Rights
CDFE Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise
CERA Citizens Equal Rights Alliance
CERF Citizens Equal Rights Foundation
CSE Citizens for Safety and Environment
EFF Evergreen Freedom Foundation
IJ Institute for Justice
ONU One Nation United
PEP Private Enterprise Project
WFB Washington Farm Bureau
WPC Washington Policy Center

Anti-Indian Roster by State

Tony Bowman, Holbrook–CERF
GB Saucerman, Phoenix–CERA
Dennis Williams, Fort Defiance–CERA
Butch Cranford, Plymouth—CERA
Rheba Hewitt, San Bernardino—ONU
Wally J Leimgruber, El Centro–ONU
Chip Worthington, Rohnert Park—ONU
Nicholas H Mullane, North Stonington–ONU
Frank Messersmith, Crawfordville–ONU
John Furbee, Harrison–ONU
Daniel M Johnson, Nez Perce–ONU
Rich Porter, Paxton–ONU
Carol Kelly, Plymouth—CERA
Kim Shea, Carver–CERA
Clare Fitz, Onamia–CERF
Howard B Hanson, Minneapolis—CERA
Chris Kortlander, Garyowen–CERA
Naomi Brummond, Roselie—CERA
Joel Lamplot, Pender–CERA
New Mexico
Charlotte Mitchell, Jemez Pueblo—CERA
New York
Judy Bachman, Vernon—CERA
Richard Tallcot, Union Springs—CERA
Jerry Titus, Little Valley—CERA
David Vickers, Erieville—ONU/UCE
Dick Platfoot, Wapakoneta–ONU
Larry Boggs—ONU
Mike Cantrell–ONU
Marla R Peek, Oklahoma City–ONU
LeeAnn Ragains, Kingfisher—CERA
Mickey Thompson–ONU
David Jacques, Winston–ONU
South Dakota
Jim Petik, Keldron—CERA
Darrell Smith, Mobridge–CERF
Jackie Allen, Toppenish—CERA
Elizabeth A Campbell, Seattle—ONU
Janet Devlin—CSE
Trent England–EFF
John Fleming–GOP
George Garland, Gig Harbor—ONU
Paul Guppy—WPC
Steve Hammond–CAPR
James Johnston, Oak Harbor–ONU
Kim Halvorson, Marysville—ONU
Tom and Carol Lewis–ONU
Barbara Lindsay, Tacoma—ONU
Fairalee Marcusen–ONU
Linda Matson—ONU/PEP
William Maurer–IJ
Tom and Patty Mitchell, Marysville–ONU
Alan Montgomery, Seattle—ONU
Glen Morgan—EFF
Doug Olson–ONU
Kent Pullen–ONU
Cynthia Rasmussen, Port Ludlow–ONU
Marilyn Sherry, Normandy Park—ONU
Dennis Swanson—CSE
Brent Warwick—CSE
Dan Wood—WFB
Bob Williams–EFF
Tom Williams, Lynden—CERA
Lyle Zeller–CSE
Curt Knoke, Gresham—CERA/CERF
Marianne D Pender, Keshena–ONU
Scott Seaborne, Neenah—CERA
Nancy Smeleer, Menominee–ONU
Elaine Willman, Hobart—CERA

CAPR Citizens Alliance for Property Rights
CERA Citizens Equal Rights Alliance
CERF Citizens Equal Rights Foundation
CSE Citizens for Safety and Environment
EFF Evergreen Freedom Foundation
GOP Republican Party
IJ Institute for Justice
ONU One Nation United
PEP Private Enterprise Project
UCE Upstate Citizens for Equality
WFB Washington Farm Bureau
WPC Washington Policy Center

Monday, April 08, 2013


See the Light

The recent implosion of the North American Indigenous Peoples Caucus over its mismanagement of responsibilities associated with hosting the North American Preparatory Meeting for the 2014 UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP) should come as no surprise. Since the beginning, the UN has undermined indigenous peoples and nations efforts at achieving self-determination, first by denying their existence, and later by treating their political entities as the equivalent of NGOs.

Even as the UN issues bromides about indigenous sovereignty and human rights, its agencies like the World Bank scheme to plunder their wealth and ruin their health. No longer able to simply exterminate indigenous peoples with impunity, the UN and its member states now rely on instruments of Free Trade and market economics to alienate indigenous peoples property and to terminate indigenous nations.

Having made an issue of celebrating indigenous peoples, though, the UN has had to accommodate indigenous activists and diplomats by providing harmless venues for them to vent their rage. While the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) and Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provide much-needed discussion, keeping indigenous nations away from the table where decisions are made ensures that the UN and its members won't have to walk their talk.

Reading my 2009 essay Prepared to Lead, written in collaboration with Dr. Rudolph C. Ryser and Renee Davis at the Center for World Indigenous Studies, one can see the pattern of betrayal set by the UN toward indigenous peoples. This pattern, where NGOs are given UN privileges to represent indigenous peoples, while indigenous nations are treated as non-entities, continues to this day.

Even in the lead-up to the World Conference, indigenous nations have to deal with the dysfunctional system the UN has put in place as an obstacle to their self-determination. While some of the NGOs are working cooperatively with indigenous nations, others function as an impediment, sometimes venting their incoherent rage at those they should be supporting.

Given the history of UN hypocrisy toward indigenous peoples, and the devious schemes of philanthropic foundations that fund opportunists, charlatans and troublemakers, it is no surprise that fora like the UNPFII and processes like the WCIP preparatory meetings seem incoherent at best. While these challenges test the resolve of indigenous diplomats and political leaders, in the end, it is the UN system and corporate conduct that must be their focus. Holding the institutions of international law accountable for the unpunished travesties by UN member states remains the target.

In the meantime, confused activists and immature advocates who mistakenly see indigenous nations as their adversaries must be brought along as part of the indigenous peoples movement. That isn't always pleasant, but apart from a few malicious miscreants, most of them will eventually see the light.

Saturday, April 06, 2013


I Scream Social

Reading the news from the World Social Forum held recently in Tunisia, I was reminded of kindergarden soccer teams, where the entire group of kids runs after the ball from one end of the field to the other. No positioning, no strategy, just endless exhaustive pursuit.

In world social circles, where NGOs discuss and debate the latest political ball to be chased, the one thing that isn't discussed is how to actually change corrupt governments into good governments. They make pronouncements and publish plans about what latest evil they will oppose, but no one talks about actually organizing political movements to redistribute or seize power from those they oppose. While this might be a safe position to take, it is not revolutionary. Revolutionary is when you can mount a real challenge to established power, not when you merely make pious pronouncements.

As I noted in my editorial Fighting Intelligently, liberating social change can only happen when we democratize our institutions and governments, and that means working on the inside as well as outside. While advocacy is good, it is not enough. Until NGOs and civil society realize this, all their efforts and gatherings accomplish is to widen the sense of despair and bewilderment when so-called revolutions are betrayed. While these international gatherings have some educational benefits, if they don't lead to political organizing that actually changes government policies and corporate conduct, they are arguably a waste of time.

Friday, April 05, 2013


Today's Headlines

While Money Laundering Banks Still Get a Pass From U.S., The Growing Sentiment on the Hill For Ending 'Too Big Too Fail' is gaining momentum. In Banks Gone Bad, our capacity for moral indignation is shown to have evolved in tandem with institutionalized bribery, to the point we must now ask, 'What happens when lawbreaking has been embedded in the system?'

Thursday, April 04, 2013


Communications Management Units

While Americans have become inured to illegal abductions, torture and murders of innocents by the CIA in legal black holes like Afghanistan, Poland and Macedonia, for most people in the US, these human rights violations are something that only happens elsewhere. But as whistle-blowing and civil disobedience become increasingly targeted for harassment by law enforcement in the US, torture of Americans targeted for their political beliefs is becoming standard procedure for the U.S. Department of Justice. As Will Potter reports, there is a black hole in the land of the free.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013


State of Stall

For twenty years, Washington State Department of Ecology has stalled on protecting the public health of consumers of seafood. As a result, people at risk -- like children, pregnant women, and Indian tribes -- have to wonder if the fish they eat is toxic. Given the water quality loopholes that allow businesses like Boeing to contaminate public waters are largely the result of stalling and knowingly inaccurate estimates of seafood consumption by Ecology, one has to wonder what can be done. For some, the answer seems clear: bring in the feds. Since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been after Ecology to do something for two decades, it might be time they did more than just talk.

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