Thursday, January 31, 2013

 

Viable Targets

To those unfamiliar with the philanthropic world, the pervasive fraud that tarnishes NGOs like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and PEN America might seem like a new phenomenon. But as reported at Wrong Kind of Green, outfits like Human Rights Watch started out bad.

As creations of Wall Street derivatives -- laundered through #1% family foundations like Ford and Rockefeller -- these humanitarian NGOs preempt authentic humanitarian networks from accessing the public resources they need, thus establishing a vertical integration of public policy--controlled by the private equity of the aristocracy and nouveau riche. While this arrangement is not impermeable to subversion, it is nevertheless well-armored to withstand the occasional expose from the alternative press.

To defeat this vertically-integrated adversary, genuine human rights networks will first need to shatter the illusions of the politically infantile public. In the climate of colossal fraud perpetrated from the New York Stock Exchange to the Oval Office, these illusions become viable targets.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

 

Hedging Their Bets

As Matt Taibbi writes at Rolling Stone, Obama's choice of Mary Jo White to head the SEC is putting the fox in charge of guarding the hen house. As a Wall Street lawyer who made her millions at a firm defending Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Chase and AIG, White is about as conflicted in her interests as she can get. As a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, White's choice to become a mouthpiece for the criminals she was once supposed to prosecute was irreversible. As Taibbi notes, her pulling strings at the SEC to quash investigations of insider trading by her clients is reason enough to disqualify her from the appointment, but the fact her nest egg is guaranteed by the people she is now supposed to regulate makes it clear the appointment is Wall Street's way of hedging their bets.

Monday, January 28, 2013

 

The Problem With Evangelicals

In her essay on New Evangelicals and their outreach to the Democratic Party, Sarah Posner examines the motivations behind this right-wing Christian strategy. By discussing such things as taxpayer-funded religious discrimination, Posner reveals the downside of progressives allying with Christian conservatives.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

 

Atonement

Poverty in Indian Country is not an act of God; it is, rather, the result of U.S. policy. While the Puritan heritage plays a role in the setting of U.S. policy, it is the Unfair Dealing of U.S. agencies that has institutionalized American Indian poverty. With poverty of American Indians and Alaska Natives on reservations at 39%, one has to wonder what an impartial God would think of the 2009 settlement of Cobell, in which the U.S. Government reluctantly returned to Indian Country $3.4 billion of the $47 billion in misappropriated royalties from reservation resource extraction.

In seeking absolution for its many sins against Indian Country, the U.S. Government used the gaming industry as a means of ameliorating traditional Indian economies eradicated by Manifest Destiny and the Doctrine of Discovery. While this allowed some parts of Indian Country to prosper, the casinos -- like state lotteries -- were mostly a means of replacing some of the revenue lost to inflation and reductions in federal funding. With per capita expenditures by the US on American Indians and Alaska Natives at roughly half of that expended on other Americans, it is not difficult to understand why poverty remains a significant challenge for Indian governments.

While redemption is important to some American Christian denominations, reparations to Indian Country remain off the table. Atonement for past and present sins continues to be constricted by notions of white supremacy and plenary power. As long as Christian fundamentalists conflate criticism of their political privileges with persecution of their religious beliefs, the only resolution of US Federal Taxation Disparities in Indian Country is for Indian governments to preempt externally applied taxes, and to reserve exclusive Indian government authority over reservation resources. Otherwise -- as noted in the January 2013 report by the Center for World Indigenous Studies Good Government Research Group -- the current level of commitment by the U.S. Government will ensure a significant increase in poverty throughout Indian Country.



Saturday, January 26, 2013

 

Poverty in Portugal

When I spent six weeks touring Portugal in 1999, I noted the overwhelming generosity of the Portuguese people. Today, thanks to the financial plundering by elites like those President Obama surrounds himself with, Portugal is starving. As reported in this article at IPS, the globalization of poverty implemented by the EU, IMF and European Central Bank has reduced Portugal to a state of soup kitchens and hungry children.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

 

To Shrink-Wrap Our Brains

Now showing at Wrong Kind of Green is We: A Geopolitical Documentary, a free online video featuring Arundhati Roy recounting the numerous nine elevens that have brought the world crime and chaos through the association of the loyally corrupt. As Arundhati examines a world beyond America, she implores viewers to consider nationalism as a failure of the imagination, and to view globalization as an unaccountable project to shrink-wrap our brains.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

 

PEN America Hypocrisy

When I first joined PEN America ten years ago, I was happy to pay my membership fee to support its work in advancing literature and defending free expression. But over the years, I've become disillusioned with the organization--partly due to its selective human rights agenda, and more recently due to its profound lack of judgment in choosing its new executive director.

As with far too many NGOs, PEN America has elected to wear blinders when it comes to human rights violations by the United States and its militarism projected through institutions like NATO and militarily dependent states like Israel. While I was disheartened by PEN International's former vice president Nadine Gordimer's bias when it came to Israel, the recent choice by PEN America's trustees to install the former U.S. State Department warmonger Suzanne Nossel as its new executive director is the final straw.

As an experienced advocate for neoliberal coercion to achieve American hegemony, Nossel has taken an aggressive pro-war stance over the last decade, including the US invasion of Iraq and the NATO bombing of Libya. When working as a Hillary wannabe at State, Nossel fought hard at the UN Human Rights Council as an apologist for Zionist crimes against humanity in Palestine. If this is the best PEN America can do, then they can do without my support.

Monday, January 21, 2013

 

A Male-Dominated Space

Browse any public library's magazine racks, and you will be inundated with visual images that commodify women. These images for public consumption might be tame compared to pornography, but they send the same message.

While pornography is in theory regulated to exclude minors from ingesting the warped values that degrade women, video games now provide a venue for males of all ages to indulge in virtual abuse of females without the social sanction associated with strip clubs and brothels. In fact, the industry has become a hotbed of misogynistic culture, what media critic Anita Sarkeesian calls bluntly, "a male-dominated space."

In this video, Sarkeesian describes the culture of sexism in the American video gaming industry, and her experience with a cyber mob campaign by participants in this industry to silence her.

Friday, January 18, 2013

 

Money-Laundering

While we're happy that the U.S. Senate Banking Committee plans to hold hearings on money-laundering by major US banks, we are concerned that the collusion by such financial institutions as JP Morgan Chase, HSBC and Citigroup with organized crime to launder the proceeds from drug cartels will receive the same level of scrutiny and punishment as the fraud revealed in the mortgage scandal that brought down the American economy. The subject of a January 22 special investigation to be aired on FRONTLINE, that scandal has not resulted in a single prosecution by the U.S. Department of Justice.

As Steve Colbert remarked, "Just to show how sorry they are for funding murder, HSBC decides to partially defer bonus compensation for senior officials."

Thursday, January 17, 2013

 

Decolonization

Writing at Indian Country Today, columnist Dina Gilio-Whitaker discusses American Indian self-determination and sovereignty and what that means in the 21st Century.

Monday, January 14, 2013

 

The Narrative Form of Scapegoating

In this video, our friend Chip Berlet examines religious politics, secular values, dominionism and conspiracy theory in America. Included in his enlightening half-hour talk, Berlet recounts the Puritan heritage and the evolution of Christian fundamentalism that became the Christian Right. More importantly, Chip discusses how the toxic ideas of conservative evangelicals spreads throughout US society in the form of conspiracy theories as the narrative form of scapegoating.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

 

Real Consequences

Whether its for mining, drilling or dumping toxic waste, mainstream media is always a cheerleader. As corporate owned entities, they know where their bread is buttered.

Even when contrary information and evidence is readily available, corporate editors and publishers go to great lengths to suppress anything that is not supportive of corporate interests.

As Tom Kanatakeniate Cook writes at Indian Country Today, that mainstream malice on the part of corporate media has real consequences. When we're talking about radioactive contamination of aquifers due to uranium mining, those consequences are lethal.

Friday, January 11, 2013

 

Sunny Places for Shady People

First there was Wikileaks, now there is Tax Justice Network. No wonder the US and EU want to join China is censoring the Internet. With the ability to go around the customary gatekeepers of the Fourth Estate and intelligence agencies, hackers and researchers now pose the greatest threat to the plutocracy since 1968. Yet, while Swiss banks and State Department officials scramble to conceal assets and deflect investigations, even a sombre scene like the British Parliament occasionally dishes up some delightful humor. One of the remarks by an honorable MP recently described offshore tax havens like the Channel Islands, Cayman Islands and Gibraltar as, "sunny places for shady people."


Thursday, January 10, 2013

 

A Dangerous Game

Under the tribal government system imposed on indigenous nations by the U.S. Government, governance of the Navajo Nation has long been corrupted by the corrosive influence of the coal industry. Now that tribal members are challenging their corrupted government, the U.S. Government and the coal companies in court as well as on the ground, Navajo Nation officials are attempting to silence their own people and limit the jurisdiction of federal courts over the application of environmental protection laws on Indian reservations.

By asserting sovereign immunity over its territory in order to accommodate expanded coal mining -- and thereby the depletion of Navajo aquifers and degradation of air quality -- the Navajo government is playing a dangerous game. While sovereignty carried to its logical end means the Navajo could set its own environmental policy at lower standards than those of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the message that would send to Wall Street and Main Street could set off a firestorm in the midst of a coalescing indigenous environmental alliance centered around new instruments of the international human rights regime.

Given Wall Street's inordinate influence on national and international institutions, the global indigenous liberation movement is understandably fragile and chaotic; sowing the seeds of indigenous disintegration within America's most populous tribal nation is an act the Navajo government will someday have to answer for.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

 

Araucania Rising

As much of the world's attention is on the indigenous uprising in Canada, the conflict between indigenous peoples and settlers at the southern tip of the hemisphere is escalating. While less intense than say Gaza or Chechnya, the battle between the indigenous Mapuche and the European settlers -- who were given stolen lands within the territory of Araucania by the Chilean government -- remains intractable. With the government putting its police and military forces behind the settlers, the disputed territory continues as a locus of unresolved and ongoing human rights violations.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

 

Neoenvironmentalism

Twenty years ago, market propaganda promoted what Wall Street called Free Market environmentalism. As a capitalist philosophy, it laid the basis for shell games like the UN Millenium Development Goals and pyramid schemes like the REDD carbon market trading programs. Today, neoliberals are promoting neoenvironmentalism, essentially a recycled Free Market environmentalism imbued with a harsh criticism of collective cultural values and indigenous spiritual traditions. In his essay Dark Ecology, Paul Kingsnorth reflects on neoenvironmentalism and neoenvironmental propaganda aimed at romanticizing the future through its pseudo optimism and promotion of green technology populism. Rejecting the false hope of market hype, Kingsworth recommends ways of weathering socioeconomic and ecosystem collapse that keep one's values and psyches intact.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

 

Idle No More

In case Prime Minister Harper and the Government of Canada are confused about the demands of the First Nations, Defenders of the Land -- the predecessor to Idle No More -- lays it out in a handy twelve point list.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

 

Another Form of Doing Politics

The bad governments, which belong to the entirety of the political spectrum without a single exception, have done everything possible to destroy us, to buy us off, to make us surrender... As was made evident on December 21, 2012, all of them failed...

A new form of social life is blooming in Zapatista territory, Chiapas, Mexico. This is a flowering that attracts the attention of honest people all over the planet...

It will be up to the people of Mexico who organize in electoral struggles and resist, to decide if they will continue to see us as enemies or rivals upon which to take out their frustration over the frauds and aggressions that, in the end, affect all of us, and if in their struggle for power they continue to ally themselves with our persecutors; or if they finally recognize in us another form of doing politics.

--From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast
For the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee
General Command of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.
Mexico. December 2012 – January 2013.

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