Friday, November 30, 2012

Maritime Maneuvers

As noted in the November 27 article at the San Juan Islander, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has received a petition to delist the Orca whales of the San Juan archipelago under the Endangered Species Act. The petition was submitted by the California-based Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), one of several right-wing legal foundations in the US founded by industry magnates to undermine civil rights, environmental protection and occupational safety. A number of personnel from these legal foundations found employment in the Reagan/Bush cabinets, including US Attorney General Ed Meese, and Interior Secretaries James Watt and Gail Norton.

PLF, originally funded by the California Chamber of Commerce, was active in undermining the Growth Management Act in Washington state, serving as legal counsel during the 1990s to property rights activists in Puget Sound. I noted their involvement with these hooligans in my memoir Blind Spots.

While the Pacific Legal Foundation petition to remove protections from the endangered Orcas might just be part of their ordinary daily business, I suspect it might also have something to do with the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal coal export facility, that would bring an additional 487 bulk cargo vessels to the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve via Haro Strait and Boundary Pass--a mammoth project that would have profound impacts on the endangered Chinook salmon and Orca whales. Based on experience, that would fit with the PLF strategy, mission and purpose.

Wednesday, November 28, 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.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Asserting Jurisdiction

In this video from Mohawk TV, Cree lawyer Sharon Venne explains indigenous termination in Canada. Discussing the process by which Canada is alienating inherent indigenous governance from indigenous peoples, Venne notes the role some chiefs play in helping Canada manufacture indigenous consent to the termination of their peoples. As Venne reveals, because Canada has no legal title to indigenous lands and resources under international law, the state of Canada is using the subterfuge of racial discrimination to abandon its obligations to respect indigenous human rights as self-governing nations. To stop this legalized ethnic cleansing, says Venne, First Nations must assert their jurisdiction over lands coveted by the corporate state, and impeach indigenous leaders who are selling out their people.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Labor Goons

There are two kinds of unions, those who work for a better society, and those that only care about themselves. The California Nurses Association is an example of the former, the Northwest Washington Central Labor Council an example of the latter.

To illustrate what I'm talking about, the California nurses have put their money and bodies on the line against corporations and politicians who put profits before people in the health care industry. Conversely, the Labor Council teams up with corrupt corporations and politicians in order to get a piece of the action.

I first encountered the nefarious Labor Council in the 1990s, when they joined developers and realtors in undermining environmental law in Northwest Washington. Later, when environmentalists wrested control of the local Democratic Party from the Labor Council, the labor representatives shifted party funds into another account before leaving office. When Lummi Indians were invited by the environmentalists to join the local party, labor goons showed up to make it clear they weren't welcome by physically shoving them around.

Today, as the Labor Council again teams up with developers, realtors, the Chamber of Commerce and Republican Party against the Lummi Nation over the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point, their media campaign has taken on a distinctly hostile tone aimed at mobilizing resentment against environmentalists and Indians. While the Labor Council is entitled to its opinion about the economics of taking a powder to support Chinese industry, setting a tone in the media that pits organized labor against Indians and environmentalists is both irresponsible and inexcusable.

As we witnessed in the past, the anti-Indian, anti-environmentalist bigotry that lies just below the surface in some organized labor milieus can rise in the form of open hostility and violence with little provocation. Deliberately fanning the flames of resentment is something the Labor Council will have to answer for if they don't rein in the inflammatory deceptions of their reckless public relations campaign. Because in the end, the disaster waiting to happen isn't just to the environment; it's perhaps more importantly what happens to the social fabric that matters.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Amnesty International Warmongering

The shame of the human rights industry.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Too Good to be True

In their June 2012 Cultural Risk Alerts for Corporate Leaders, First Peoples Worldwide highlights a UN report that says media campaigns against individual corporate miscreants is counterproductive to affecting systemic change, suggesting instead that indigenous peoples should work within the system, relying on the UN and its agencies like the World Bank to protect their interests. If one was to take FPW's pronouncements at face value, corporations like Shell Oil, Exxon Mobil, BP, Conoco Philips and Suncor have seen the light, and with UN guidance are leading the way to a bright new future.

First Peoples Worldwide, an NGO funded by foundations, corporations and multilaterals, uses all the heartwarming neoliberal nomenclature well. So well, I suspect, that many innocent indigenous peoples are led to believe it is the answer to their prayers. But, as with all things that seem too good to be true, the first thing to check on is where they get their money. Sweet talk is one thing; who they actually work for is another.

FPW's IRS form 990 does not name the source of its half million dollars in annual revenue, but it's a safe bet it's dirty money. I don't know if their employee Nick Pelosi is related to the former US Speaker of the House, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (he's not one of her children), but it wouldn't surprise me. His article about Indians harnessing the economic potential of oil field and refinery development fits well with the Corporate Social Responsibility theme neoliberals love so well.

Looking at the FPW blog, the buzz about Corporate Social Responsibility touted on the home page is reinforced by this post on FPW promoting World Bank and UN co-optation of indigenous peoples through their fraudulent gatherings aimed at undermining the indigenous movement. Something Intercontinental Cry magazine has covered extensively.

A cursory review of the First Peoples Worldwide website reveals one of their Board of Directors to be Gloria Steinem, renowned feminist publisher and CIA operative, currently working to promote humanitarian warfare by the US and NATO, allegedly to "liberate women" in Arab Spring countries. As a recipient of Soros Open Society and Ford Foundation funding (no friends of indigenous peoples), Steinem's organizations help legitimize foreign coups by the US State Department.

The reason I chose to expose FPW is that they are serving to undermine key concepts vital to indigenous sovereignty, thus furthering the neoliberal model of development Clinton, Gates and Ford support through UN initiatives like the Millenium Development Goals--neocolonialism by another name. By engaging in the war of ideas on the side of the financial industry, FPW becomes fair game for criticism--especially when they sell their soul to the forces of privatization.

Promoting capitalism and assimilating indigenous peoples into the capitalist system in the process might be in tune with FPW's funders and institutions like the World Bank, but privatization of indigenous communal property rights is integral to destroying their cultural continuity. And as reported at Mother Earth Journal, the capitalist model of development comes with a social, environmental and cultural cost. As the late Chief George Manuel once remarked, "Assimilation is annihilation."

Tuesday, November 13, 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.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Anti-Fascist Anarchists

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

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.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Experts of the Obvious

With neo-liberal austerity measures sweeping through Western Europe and the US, public resentment isn't hard to find, but mobilizing that resentment effectively requires a commitment to research and analysis of the social situation, as well as painstaking education and organizing. By generating enough nonsensical noise, the neo-liberal press helps prevent that from happening.

In my recent post Masquerading As Agents For Change, I discussed neo-liberal thought leaders of the progressive media and Democratic Party network who marginalize collectivist viewpoints on public policy and governance. As gatekeepers of civil society, this professional milieu influences public perception of neo-liberal fraud at the root of austerity, and is thus a useful tool for the oligarchy.

Using the neo-liberal columnist Sara Robinson at the Huffington Post as an example, I can see where idiotic analysis of social situations as experts of the obvious serves to distract, distort and disorient the distraught. Through the use of equivocation, incoherence and a liberal dosage of bromides, thought leaders like Robinson serve as reliable guardians of the status quo. Following her career, it looks like a certified social futurist is someone who can spot a social movement with potential for hijacking for commercial purposes, position themselves as a leading intellect of the movement they had nothing to do with, then parley that notoriety into corporate sponsored residuals.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Boycotts and Sanctions

Noam Chomsky discusses boycotts and sanctions of apartheid regimes like South Africa and Israel as a tactical tool that needs to be carefully considered and selectively deployed.