Sunday, February 28, 2010

Final Protests 2010 Vancouver Olympics

Pic below = "Protest during canada USA hockey No olympics on stolen land." The AmeriKKKans lost!

Fascists sans Turtle suits...

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

8.8 Quake in Chile, Tsunami Warning For Hawaii

Friday, February 19, 2010

Pope's Apology Rings Hollow To Some U.S. Victims

Hat tip: AK48

February 18, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI delivers his address during his annual visit to the Roman Major Seminary
Enlarge Alessandra Tarantino/AP

Pope Benedict XVI delivers his address during his annual visit to the Roman Major Seminary in Rome on Feb. 12. The Murphy Commission Report revealed the Irish Catholic Church had been covering up crimes by priests against young people for decades.

The scandal in Ireland is all too familiar: thousands of children abused and neglected as some Irish bishops protected the allegedly predatory priests.

Over the weekend, Pope Benedict XVI took 24 Irish bishops to task for the sex abuse crisis in that country, calling the scandal a "heinous crime."

They were strong words, and according to the Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Woodstock Theological Center, it is evidence that the Vatican has changed course in the eight years since the sex abuse scandal erupted in the United States. Benedict is now pope, and his attitude appears to be different.

"I think he takes this very seriously," Reese says. "I think he's dealing with it much better than Pope John Paul II did."

Reese says Benedict has been quicker and more transparent in admitting the abuse and cover-up.

"When he came to the United States, he must have apologized four or five times. He met with victims of abuse. This is something that's never happened before. So I think Benedict gets it. I give him pretty good marks for how he's responded."

But some U.S. victims do not. For example, Alexa MacPherson, who was abused by her priest in Boston when she was a child, is not impressed that the pope said the abuse was a "heinous crime."

"I mean, everybody out there knows that's it a heinous crime, it shouldn't have happened; if it happened once, it never should have happened again," she says. "What's he going to do about it at this point? I mean saying it and doing something about it are two completely different avenues."

Given her experience in Boston, where the archdiocese asked her to serve on an advisory board that stopped meeting after the headlines died down, MacPherson does not believe the Vatican has radically changed.

"I think they're just going to pay people to shut them up and hope that everybody forgets about it."

And Bernie McDaid, a victim who met with Pope Benedict when he visited the U.S. in 2008, says he is let down.

"I don't care if they clean up all of Ireland tomorrow. I mean, that’s a good thing," he adds quickly. "But they've got a whole world in front of them that they need to clean up that they haven't. This is 2010! That's what I keep coming back to. And here we are again with the same issue."

McDaid notes that in the U.S., few people were punished. The only Catholic leader to resign was Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston, and he was transferred to Rome. McDaid says he's happy that four Irish bishops have offered to resign.

But "why hasn't that happened across the U.S.?" he asks. "Why did [Bernard] Law run to Rome and sit for cover in the Vatican? Why is he still on a board that votes bishops going in and out? What is going on here?"

If the pope wants to regain trust — and bring Catholics back to church — plaintiff's attorney Mitchell Garabedian says Pope Benedict will have to offer more than words, no matter how strong those words are.

"Let's see if the words are followed by actions here," he says. "Let’s see whether he'll allow testimony to lawmakers, documents to be released and bishops to admit their guilt publicly."

That may not happen. The Vatican's embassy in Ireland has so far refused to cooperate with the parliamentary committee investigating the abuse claims.

The news from Ireland has more than an emotional echo here, says Joe Rigert, author of An Irish Tragedy: How Sex Abuse by Irish Priests Helped Cripple the Catholic Church. Rigert says by the 1960s, half of all priests and two-thirds of all bishops in the U.S. came from Ireland.

"Many Irish priests were exported to the U.S.," he says. "They helped build the Catholic Church in the U.S. And in the last decades, many of these Irish priests became sexual predators."

Rigert has documents suggesting that at least 70 Irish priests in the U.S. were sexual abusers. He believes most have retired, died or returned to Ireland. But one Irish priest is the subject of a case working its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. And that case could force the Vatican to open its secret files to the outside world.

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Joe Stack's Letter Explaining Martyrdom

Joe Stack - mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. The Smoking Gun has Stack's complete letter.

Two bodies found in IRS building hit by plane
By Jim Vertuno
The Associated Press
Posted: 02/19/2010 01:00:00 AM MST
Updated: 02/19/2010 03:29:09 AM MST

Smoke billows from a seven-story IRS office building in Austin, Texas, after an angry pilot crashed his small plane into it Thursday. About 190 IRS workers were in the building. (Associated Press)

* Feb 18:
* Stack's letter on Internet reveals anger at IRS
* Man angry at IRS crashes plane into Austin building
* Small plane crashes into building in Austin housing IRS

AUSTIN, Texas — A software engineer furious with the Internal Revenue Service launched a suicide attack on the agency Thursday by crashing his small plane into an office building containing nearly 200 IRS employees, setting off a raging fire that sent workers running for their lives.

Emergency crews recovered two bodies. The pilot was presumed dead, and one worker in the building had been missing. Austin Fire Department Battalion Chief Palmer Buck declined to discuss the identities of those found but said Thursday night that authorities had "accounted for everybody."

The FBI tentatively identified the pilot as Joseph A. Stack, 53. Law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation

* View images from the Austin plane crash.
* Watch a video report from Austin.
* Examine an AP interactive graphic that details the events of the plane crash in Austin.

was still going on, said that before taking off, Stack apparently set fire to his house and posted a long anti-government screed on the Web. It was dated Thursday and signed "Joe Stack (1956-2010)." In it, the author cited run-ins he had with the IRS and ranted about the tax agency, government bailouts and corporate America's "thugs and plunderers."

"I have had all I can stand," he wrote, adding: "I choose not to keep looking over my shoulder at 'big brother' while he strips my carcass."

The pilot took off in a four-seat, single-engine Piper PA-28 from an airport in Georgetown, about 30 miles from Austin. He flew low over Austin before plowing into the side of the seven-story, black-glass building just before 10 a.m. with a thunderous explosion.

Flames shot from the building, windows exploded, a huge pillar of black smoke rose over the city, and terrified workers rushed to get out.

Fighter jets scrambled

The Pentagon scrambled two F-16 fighter jets from Houston to patrol the skies over the burning building before it became clear that it was the act of a lone pilot, and President Barack Obama was briefed.

"It felt like a bomb blew off," said Peggy Walker, an IRS revenue officer.
The pilot, Joseph A. Stack, 53, is believed to be one of two killed. Stack, above, ranted on the Web about his troubles with the agency. (Associated Press)
"The ceiling caved in and windows blew in. We got up and ran."

At least 13 people were injured, with two reported in critical condition. About 190 IRS employees work in the building.

Sitting at her desk in another building a half-mile from the crash, Michelle Santibanez felt the vibrations and ran to the windows, where she and her co-workers witnessed a scene that reminded them of 9/11.

"It was the same kind of scenario, with window panels falling out and desks falling out and paperwork flying," said Santibanez, an accountant.

The building was still smoldering six hours later, with the worst of the damage on the second and third floors.

Andrew Jacobson, an IRS revenue officer who was on the second floor, said about six people couldn't use the stairwell because of smoke and debris. He found a metal bar to break a window so the group could crawl out onto a concrete ledge, where they were rescued by firefighters. His bloody hands were bandaged.

Acevedo said "heroic actions" by federal employees may explain why the death toll was so low.

The FBI was investigating. The National Transportation Safety Board sent an investigator as well.

In the long, rambling, self-described "rant" that Stack apparently posted on the Internet, he began: "If you're reading this, you're no doubt asking yourself, 'Why did this have to happen?' "

Clashes with IRS

He recounted his financial reverses, his difficulty finding work in Austin, and at least two clashes with the IRS, one of them after he filed no return because, he said, he had no income, the other after he failed to report his wife Sheryl's income.

He railed against politicians, the Catholic Church, the "unthinkable atrocities" committed by big business, and the government bailouts that followed. He said he slowly came to the conclusion that "violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer."

"I saw it written once that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process over and over and expecting the outcome to suddenly be different. I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let's try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well," he wrote.

According to California state records, Stack had a troubled business history, twice starting software companies in California that ultimately were suspended by the state's tax board, one in 2000, the other in 2004. Also, his first wife filed for bankruptcy in 1999, listing a debt to the IRS of nearly $126,000.

The blaze at Stack's home, a red-brick house on a tree-lined street in a middle-class neighborhood 6 miles from the crash site, caved in the roof and blew out the windows.

Elbert Hutchins, who lives one house away, said the house caught fire about 9:15 a.m. He said a woman and her daughter drove up to the house before firefighters arrived.

"They both were very, very distraught," said Hutchins, a retiree who said he didn't know the family well.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

In defense of the black bloc: A communique from Olympic resisters

Yep. What they said.


In defense of the black bloc: A communique from Olympic resisters

February 14th, 2010 – Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories

On February 12th and 13th, 2010, thousands of courageous individuals came together to resist the 2010 Olympic police state and to attack the corporations plundering the land and deepening poverty. We write this communique as participants in and organizers of the black bloc presence at these demonstrations, known as “Take Back Our City” and “2010 Heart Attack.”

On February 12th, the Vancouver Police Department pacified us with a force of mounted police. The next day during 2010 Heart Attack, they deployed riot police armed with M4 carbine assault rifles. They claim this was necessary in order to stop the march from “jeopardizing public safety” – yet the only threats to public safety were in their own hands. Participants in the demonstration only undertook strategic attacks against corporations sponsoring the Olympics and did not harm or attack bystanders.

The media are now busy denouncing the political violence of property destruction, such as the smashing of a Hudson's Bay Company window, as though it were the only act of violence happening in this city. They forget that economic violence goes on daily in Vancouver. People are suffering and dying from preventable causes because welfare doesn't give enough to afford rent, food or medicine, and because authorities routinely ignore the medical emergencies of poor or houseless individuals. This economic violence has gotten worse as we lose housing and social services because of the Olympic Games. In response to this assault, thousands took to the streets, hundreds joining what is known as a black bloc.

The black bloc is not a formal organization; it has no leadership, membership, or headquarters. Instead, the black bloc is a tactic: it is something people *do* in order to accomplish a specific purpose. By wearing black clothing and masking our faces, the black bloc allows for greater protection to those who choose active self-defense. The majority of people involved in the black bloc do not participate in property destruction. However, in masking up they express their solidarity with those who choose to take autonomous direct action against the corporations, authorities and politicians who wage war on our communities.

Participation in the black bloc is an act of courage. With only the shirts on our backs and the masks on our faces, we took to the streets against Canada's largest ever “peacetime” police force. Protected only by black fabric and the support of our comrades, we stood in front of antiriot cops armed with assault rifles, pistols and batons. We proved that $1 billion of “security” couldn't prevent us from clogging the heart of downtown Vancouver and crashing a party of 100 000 people -- and getting away with it.

You won't ever know who was in the black bloc this weekend, but you *do* know us. We are the people who organize community potlucks, who dance during street festivals, who make art, defend the land, build co-ops, bicycles and community gardens. When we put on our black clothing, we are not a threat to you, but to the elites.

Whoever you are, one day you will join us. As long as government and corporations attack our communities, we're going defend – and that means attack.


Two organizers and participants in the anarchist presence of the “Take back our city” demonstration and “2010 Heart Attack” street march, February 2010, Coast Salish Territories

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Women's Memorial March Honours 3000 Missing and Murdered Women

"'A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground. Then it's lost; it's down. No matter what. No matter how strong its warriors; no matter how powerful its weapons,' said Mabel Nipshank. She located intent in violence against women as she spoke from the steps of the police station. The priority for Europeans in first contact with aboriginals, she said, was the disenfranchisement of women.

'They were afraid of the power of the First Nations women because when First Nations women spoke it echoed like thunder,' she said.

Nipshank challenged two groups to collaborate in the demand for justice for killed and disappeared Indigenous women: First Nations leaders and white feminists."

From Vancouver Media Co-op:

Gender February 15, 2010

This Is Where the Revolution Starts

19th Women's Memorial March honours 3,000 missing and murdered women

by Moira Peters Original Peoples, →Poverty Elimination

Families honoured their dead and disappeared relatives at the Women's Memorial March on February 14. // Amanda Zeider
Families honoured their dead and disappeared relatives at the Women's Memorial March on February 14. // Amanda Zeider
5,000 marched in support in Vancouver. // Insurgentphoto
5,000 marched in support in Vancouver. // Insurgentphoto

"This is where the injustice starts."

Dalannah Bowen addressed the 5,000 people gathered today in memory of Canada's 3,000 missing and murdered women. She was standing on the steps of the Vancouver Police Department station on Main Street in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

"This is where it starts for missing and murdered women," she said.

Bowen was followed to the mic by women who told stories of friends and relatives gone missing, or found dead, and of police inaction and disrespect.

"Each and every single person is part of this human family. We deserve to be treated like human beings," Bowen said.

Earlier in the morning at the Carnegie Centre, each and every person gathered for the beginning of the march witnessed a painful aspect of family: loss.

At 11:30 am, 400 people were gathered on the steps of Carnegie, on the corner and down the sidewalk on both sides of the building. Most were women. By 12:20, the crowd quadrupled and took up all four corners. Buses made it through the intersection with difficulty. By 1pm, the entire intersection was blocked, and "Carnegie hosts" in yellow vests linked hands, creating a corridor for the families of missing and murdered women to pass into the centre of the crowd. Most were women.

Drummers were invited into the centre. A cry rose. Hands pointed skyward. Pigeons flapped around the rooftops and seagulls circled. Higher, with unmistakeable white heads and majestic wingspans, two eagles soared.

A woman in a loose pink shirt and black hair stood on the steps of Carnegie, an eagle feather in her hand and a square of paper pressed to her breast. She raised the feather in the air and began a low wail. A song, a heartbreak. She concentrated on the sky, pleading with the sky, crying, her feather trembling.

The drums began. The crowd sang, for a half hour, while families filed out of the Carnegie patio and toward the centre of the intersection, carrying banners. Some were dressed in traditional regalia. Most were women.

The people marched.

"A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground. Then it's lost; it's down. No matter what. No matter how strong its warriors; no matter how powerful its weapons," said Mabel Nipshank. She located intent in violence against women as she spoke from the steps of the police station. The priority for Europeans in first contact with aboriginals, she said, was the disenfranchisement of women.

"They were afraid of the power of the First Nations women because when First Nations women spoke it echoed like thunder," she said.

Nipshank challenged two groups to collaborate in the demand for justice for killed and disappeared Indigenous women: First Nations leaders and white feminists.

"I don't have a whole lot of trust in our aboriginal leaders. They are pushing women off our territories and this" – she pointed to a placard with photos of hundreds of young women lost – "is what is happening to us. We need our leaders to challenge the colonial structures that have put us in poverty."

Nipshank called on feminists to quit talking the talk when they cannot walk the walk.

"Sometimes we don't fall into the white feminist ideology. [They] can't comprehend our oppression because [they] don't live it the way we do."

She asked the crowd to consider that the next case of a murdered or disappeared woman could be anyone's daughter, sister, aunt. "That is why we need to address this collectively. This is our problem as a whole people."

Sirens wailed.

Maggie de Vries told marchers about her sister who had been murdered at Robert Picton's pig farm. She described the last time she saw her sister Sarah. It was December 14, 1998, and her sister was on her way to work. She asked her little sister Maggie to "go home, baby girl."

"The investigation [into Sarah's disappearance and murder] did not have the full support of the province of British Columbia, of the Vancouver Police or of the RCMP. There was a resistance to admit there was anything wrong," she said.

"My sister was picked up, driven along a direct route: down Hastings Street to Boundary Road to the Lougheed Highway and onto Dominion Road. She was driven through a gate, and she never came out."

De Vries said in order to keep women safe the public needs an independent inquiry into the investigation of Vancouver's missing women.

Ann-Marie August read a poem, which she wrote for her best friend who disappeared.

"My sister, my friend. Where are you? What happened to you?"

The drums beat, the people marched. The sun shone. It was Valentine's Day.

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sign Of The Times - No Olympics on Stolen Native Land

Yeah, these folks rock:

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Thoughts About The Olympics In Vancouver

Worth a thousand words... but in sum, No Olympics on Stolen Land!


Thursday, February 11, 2010

An Empire of Immigrants

Hat tip AK48.

No doubt, the genealogy of the Roman Empire would have been just as complex, but an empire subjugating the dispossessed, displaced, and imported it still was. The good news is that the complexity, diversity, and multifaceted nature of the grassroots people oppressed by the Amerikan Empire may very well be its undoing. Huzzah!

February 10, 2010
Television Review | 'Faces of America'

Genealogy for a Nation of Immigrants

Eva Longoria and Yo-Yo Ma have a common ancestor.

It takes a long time and considerable patience to get to that surprise denouement of “Faces of America,” a four-part PBS series, beginning on Wednesday, about family roots by the Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. And even with charming celebrities — Meryl Streep, Mike Nichols and Queen Noor of Jordan are among the 12 whose genealogy is explored almost back to Paleolithic times — the telling can at times be a little wearisome.

But that is perhaps fitting for the subject: watching this solemn, painstaking examination of immigrants’ roots is a little like trying to pry juicy family stories from an elderly aunt at Thanksgiving dinner: There are some tedious detours and false starts, but the unexpected details and touching sidebars are worth the effort.

Mr. Gates, the film’s narrator and writer, put a huge effort into this project, which is obviously dear to his heart. The director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard, Mr. Gates is a founder of the genealogy Web site, and the editor in chief of The Root (, a site on African-American news, culture and genealogy. He has also done two previous series about African-American genealogy for PBS.

Some may wonder whether heritage and ethnicity really matter anymore in a society that fancies itself postracial, but Mr. Gates has his recent “beer summit” experience as evidence to the contrary. It was while returning from a trip to China last summer to research Mr. Ma’s ancestry that Mr. Gates was handcuffed after breaking into his own house in Cambridge, Mass. (The arresting officer said Mr. Gates had been uncooperative and said he would speak to “your mama.” That sounded like a slur but could also have been name-dropping, though Mr. Gates later told the New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd that he hadn’t mentioned Yo-Yo Ma in the altercation.)

At the time of the arrest, Mr. Gates was outraged, convinced that he was suspected of burglary only because he was black. Turns out, he isn’t even so black; in the film he reveals that like many African-Americans, he has white ancestors, and more European roots than African.

The writers Malcolm Gladwell, Elizabeth Alexander and Louise Erdrich are interviewed. So are the chef Mario Batali, television’s Dr. Mehmet Oz and the figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi. Ms. Streep’s background is less exotic — but more exalted — than most. On one side of her family her roots go back to founding fathers and a Quaker who left his church rather than cease agitating for independence from the British.

“I know it should make me feel even more important than I already am,” she says self-mockingly.

The comedian Stephen Colbert, raised Roman Catholic in an Irish immigrant family, is surprised to learn that some of his ancestors were Lutheran, or, as he puts it, “heretics.” He is not shocked to learn that he has no African or Asian traces in his DNA, and is of 100 percent European ancestry: “I am the inescapable black hole of white people.”

Mr. Gladwell, whose mother is Jamaican, is a bit chagrined to discover that one of his Jamaican ancestors was a free colored woman who was also a slave owner.

There are all kinds of genetic surprises, though none are truly shocking: Mr. Nichols is related, not so distantly, to Albert Einstein, just as his mother used to claim. He says that he is astounded that “the thing you’ve been bragging on, thinking you’re a liar, is true.”

What is more surprising is how little some people know about their own histories. Queen Noor, who was born Lisa Najeeb Halaby into a family of Syrian Christian immigrants, says she was the only one in her successful, assimilated family to take a real interest in its Arab roots. But she didn’t know that her grandfather Najeeb, a first-generation immigrant, was buried in Brooklyn. Mr. Gates takes her to visit the gravestone for the first time. Queen Noor, who converted to Islam when she married King Hussein of Jordan in 1978, prays at the site.

Her ignorance about her own roots is as telling about the willful amnesia that clouds many immigrants’ assimilation process as anything else she reveals. But Mr. Gates doesn’t ask questions, he answers them.

He tells Ms. Yamaguchi, whose parents were born in California internment camps during World War II, that her grandfather enlisted in the 100th Infantry Division and fought in Europe throughout the war, the only Japanese-American in his unit. She didn’t know he was a war hero and tears up when Mr. Gates shows her a New York Times clip from the period, a news article about the promotion to lieutenant of a nisei, the term used to describe American-born children of Japanese immigrants.

Some celebrities, like Mr. Batali and Mr. Ma, turn surprisingly emotional about remote ancestors, but one refuses to look too closely into ancient roots. Ms. Erdrich, a novelist (“Love Medicine”) and chronicler of American Indian life, declines to have her genome sequenced and decoded, possibly for fear that DNA results would complicate her claim to Chippewa ancestry. She tells Mr. Gates that her relatives said that it was their DNA too, and not hers alone to share with the world.

Ms. Longoria, who is Mexican-American, is not afraid to look at her pie chart and discover that while she is 70 percent European, she is also 27 percent Asian (and 3 percent African). When told that she has a genetic tie to Yo-Yo Ma, she jokes, “He’s Mexican?”

A little like people who claim to have lived past lives, almost everybody in the group seems to have a drop of blue blood: Ms. Alexander, who, like Mr. Gates, turns out to be more European than African, is descended from King John of England. (It may be that Dorothy Parker really was Marie of Romania — at least partly.)

“Faces of America” has moments of pomposity. But America is, after all, a nation of immigrants, and these kinds of stories have a fascination all their own.


With Henry Louis Gates Jr.

On PBS stations on Wednesday nights (check local listings).

Produced by Kunhardt McGee Productions, Inkwell Films and Thirteen for in association with Ark Media. Written and presented by Henry Louis Gates Jr.; Mr. Gates, William R. Grant, Peter W. Kunhardt and Dyllan McGee, executive producers; Barak Goodman and Sue Williams, senior producers.

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From AK48: "It's called 'protocol' and 'consultation' in the Pacific Northwest and people who ignore this practise end up looking pretty stupid."

February 8, 2010
Op-Ed Contributor

Sucking the Quileute Dry

Los Angeles

ALL the world, it seems, has been bitten by “Twilight.” Conservative estimates place revenue generated from Stephenie Meyer’s vampire chronicles — the books, movies and merchandise — in the billion-dollar range. Scarcely mentioned, however, is the effect that “Twilight” has had on the tiny Quileute Nation, situated on a postage stamp of a reservation, just one square mile, in remote La Push, Wash.

To millions of “Twilight” fans, the Quileute are Indians whose (fictional) ancient treaty transforms young males of the tribe into vampire-fighting wolves. To the nearly 700 remaining Quileute Indians, “Twilight” is the reason they are suddenly drawing extraordinary attention from the outside — while they themselves remain largely excluded from the vampire series’ vast commercial empire.

Just last month, issued an apology to the Quileute for intruding on its territory while videotaping a “Twilight” virtual tour in September. sought permission from the Chamber of Commerce in nearby Forks, Wash., but didn’t pay the same courtesy to the Quileute. The video team trespassed onto a reservation cemetery and taped Quileute graves, including those of esteemed tribal leaders. These images were then set to macabre music and, in November, posted on The tribe quickly persuaded to remove the Quileute images.

But this was only one episode in the story of the tribe’s phenomenal, and apparently increasing, new fame. “Twilight” has made all things Quileute wildly popular: sells items from Quileute hoodies to charms bearing a supposed Quileute werewolf tattoo. And a tour company hauls busloads of fans onto the Quileute reservation daily. Yet the tribe has received no payment for this commercial activity. Meanwhile, half of Quileute families still live in poverty.

It’s important to point out that the outside uses of the Quileute name, from the “Twilight” books to the tattoo jewelry, are quite likely legal. American intellectual property laws, except in very specific circumstances, do not protect indigenous peoples’ collective cultural property.

In fact, many businesses use tribal names without involving the Indians themselves. Consider, for example, well-known products like Jeep Cherokee trucks, Oneida flatware and Apache helicopters — none of which are officially associated with Indian tribes. (The Quileute say they have never been contacted by Ms. Meyer or any of those who use the Quileute name for merchandising.)

The most significant federal law that addresses the marketing of Indian cultural goods — the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, passed in 1935 — is meant to ensure truth in advertising. It requires that any artistic products claiming to have a tribal origin are in fact produced by that tribe. Hopi kachina dolls, for example, must be Hopi-made. But it does not come into play for the Quileute hoodies, jewelry or other goods, because there is no claim they were made by the Quileute.

So what can be done? Even absent legal protection, the Quileute should be able to have a say in, and benefit financially from, outsiders’ use of their cultural property.

Many Indian tribes develop markets for their own cultural property — or at least the part of it that is not deemed sacred and therefore private. Some have introduced culturally appropriate commercial products — Navajo rugs, for example, or Potawatomi porcupine-quill earrings — to educate non-Indians about their traditions or to earn a living.

The Quileute are likewise eager to share their tribal culture, even if the interest in it was created primarily by Hollywood. The Quileute welcome outsiders, as my own interactions with them have confirmed. When hordes of “Twilight” fans showed up in La Push in 2008, the tribe, as a sovereign Indian nation, could have closed its reservation, but tribal members chose not to do so.

At the same time, like indigenous peoples around the globe, the Quileute want to be meaningful participants in the treatment of their own cultural property. This means, first and foremost, having their sovereignty and their culture respected by outsiders. The Quileute’s Web site tells visitors about the tribal laws that govern Quileute territory. One of these laws specifies that burial grounds and religious ceremonies are “sacred and not to be entered.” Had MSN acknowledged the tribe as a sovereign government, it might not have broken that rule. The Quileute believe that respect for Indian tribal sovereignty could likewise bridge cultural gaps between other Indian communities and outsiders.

Going forward, the Quileute should be engaged in the “Twilight” phenomenon. They should be able, first, to welcome Ms. Meyer to the reservation and introduce her to the Tribal Council and all the Quileute people. They should be consulted on projects where the Quileute name and culture are used to market products. And Quileute elders should be able to share with the world the true Quileute creation story, in which tribal members were transformed into humans from wolves (not vampire-fighting wolves).

Undoubtedly, the Quileute, whose remote reservation leaves them with few options for economic development, would also welcome “Twilight”-based profit-sharing arrangements or other opportunities to capitalize on the phenomenon. They struggle to maintain adequate tribal housing and to support their tribal school, Elder Center and tribal court, all of which are integral to ensuring that their culture continues for future generations.

The ultimate choice, regarding not only the Quileute but all indigenous peoples, is not simply whether outsiders are free to appropriate tribal cultural property. For the sake of fairness as much as law, indigenous peoples must play a significant role in decisions regarding their cultural property.

Angela R. Riley directs the American Indian Studies Center at the University of California, Los Angeles. She has informally advised the Quileute Tribe on a voluntary basis.

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Immigration Organizers Denounce Indigenous/Anarchist Solidarity

"The local and national immigration organizers denounced our project of indigenous/anarchist solidarity. As expressed in the first DOA statement, we welcome diversity of tactics to challenge the violence of the state, and thus welcome diverse groups and communities that are compelled into action. Documented or undocumented, environmentalist or anarchist, whomever so desires it in their hearts to live free from this current existence of the tyranny of the state."

Battlin' Phoenix: OSABC statement on the January 16 Day of Action


Fellow O'odham, Dine, Indigenous, Migrant, Non-indigenous brothers and sisters and concerned people of Maricopa County...

After days of reflection, O'odham Solidarity Across Borders Collective (OSABC) would like to give our thoughts and analysis on what occurred on the January 16th National Day of Action Against Sheriff Joe: March for Human Rights. As we all saw, heard and read, the march turned violent due to calculated moves by Phoenix Police to unfairly, and unjustifiably remove a contingent of marchers that expressed a voice and message that was foreign to them and national organizers, but all too familiar to the original people of the very land they walk on. OSABC called for what we dubbed the “Dine'-O'odham-Anarchist/Anti-Authoritarian” (DOA) contingent, in order to voice what we recognize to be an unending historical condition of forced removal here in the Southwestern so-called United States.

Fellow O'odham, Dine, Indigenous, Migrant, Non-indigenous brothers and sisters and concerned people of Maricopa County...

After days of reflection, O'odham Solidarity Across Borders Collective (OSABC) would like to give our thoughts and analysis on what occurred on the January 16th National Day of Action Against Sheriff Joe: March for Human Rights. As we all saw, heard and read, the march turned violent due to calculated moves by Phoenix Police to unfairly, and unjustifiably remove a contingent of marchers that expressed a voice and message that was foreign to them and national organizers, but all too familiar to the original people of the very land they walk on. OSABC called for what we dubbed the “Dine'-O'odham-Anarchist/Anti-Authoritarian” (DOA) contingent, in order to voice what we recognize to be an unending historical condition of forced removal here in the Southwestern so-called United States.

From the murdering of our O'odham Peoples, the stealing of our lands for the development of what is now known as the metropolitan Phoenix area, to the current relocation attempts against our O'odham along “their” border, and along the west-end of Gila River for a freeway. Or with the ongoing forced relocation of more than 14,000 Diné who have been uprooted for the extraction of natural resources just hours north of here, we recognize that this is not a condition that we must accept. This is a system that will continue to attack us unless we act.

OSABC and our Diné comrades viewed the National Day of Action against this one particular agent of forced removal, Maricopa county sheriff Arpaio, as an opportunity to express our opposition to the extension of this oppressive system towards our immigrant brothers and sisters. DOA felt the best way to show solidarity was to express this broader message and felt that if we started from our voice -- the O'odham voice – it would greatly help to undermine and defeat the white supremacist/colonial positions that Sheriff Joe and his many supporters uphold. In the past, when OSABC engaged other movements – even reactionary ones – with our broader perspective, on immigration and the border, we found we made progress, and that possibilities present themselves that are not included under the generally accepted terms of the discussion.

The national immigration organizers “call for action” seemed to express their willingness to expand the debate because of the many other outside factions that formed that day on the streets, such as National Day Laborer Organizing Network, No More Deaths, Border Action, and Mexica Movement to name a few. Local, regional and national solidarity was called for, and that's why we came, to stand together against forced relocation of all peoples, both immigrant and Indigenous. National immigration organizers appeared to also express that willingness by giving O'odham and Diné members of DOA the opportunity to address the crowd, to express the “Native American Voice” in this struggle. We even gave the blessing of offering a song in the O'odham way, so we could bless the people and the march before we departed. The “acknowledgment” of indigenous peoples of the Phoenix area by the organizers seemed to be a breakthrough, given the national movement's tendency to marginalize local indigenous voices in the many different communities in which they organize, but this acknowledgment was soon erased when the police attacked.

The police oppression that occurred after this great start gives us an idea of what we are up against. The police decision to attack was the State's way of showing who has control. Their attack also shows how the national immigration movement still doesn't get it. That the national immigration movement chooses to work side by side with the same institutions and politicians that oppress and attack our communities throughout the country shows how inconsistent this movement is. The Phoenix organizers' politically convenient decision to not denounce the actions of police, but instead fellow marchers with our bigger message of no more forced relocations and displacement, this reflects the same disconnect that afflicts the overall national movement. If national organizers are for the rights of migrants and overall human rights, most would naturally conclude that they take the same overall position against forced removals and relocations for ALL people and that likewise, they certainly take a line against police brutality.

But as the overall national movement has shown, their decision to work with that State will only yield reformist policies that may benefit some, and hurt many. Remember, the national immigration movement's push for immigration reform and call for the Obama administration to take action includes the militarization of the southern border with a wall surpassing the notorious Berlin Wall. Such a barrier would cause the forced relocation of our people, the Tohono O'odham, and the many other indigenous nations that “their” borders would displace. If the national immigration movement's objectives of reform will hurt our people, then how can their agenda be for human rights? We can't help but see contradiction and hypocrisy when the national movement defends Phoenix as the front line in the struggle against attacks on the rights of migrants, while at the same time it supports politicians that advocate other plans and policies that whose logical conclusions necessarily mean the forced removal and relocation of our fellow Akimel O'odham/Pi'Posh and desecration of our sacred sites (as in the case of the proposed Loop 202 Freeway expansion through Gila River). The State sees in this division the opportunity to further divide and conquer our communities and lands, and to pit immigrant and indigenous against each other, historically, the State has used their non-governmental bodies as the means to accomplish this. If the struggle is in fact for human rights, as the national immigration movement states, how is it that the first people of land, that is now deemed the front line, not even considered into their analysis?

The national immigration movement's decision in Phoenix to evoke the 1960's Civil Rights Struggle further demonstrates their misguided attempt for true change. The national movement tends to forget that Martin Luther King Jr and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's fight to end segregation in Birmingham were done in opposition to the police and the State. The Birmingham campaign demonstrated the nature of the police and the State when confronted with the threat of true change. They too, were attacked by the police, and still, they took that risk to go against them. Just imagine if they had not? So why does the national movement proudly support the same police oppression not just here in Phoenix, but all around the country? It would be hard to imagine, in the initial years of the Civil Rights movement, if Martin and even Malcolm would ever have worked hand in hand with the police and the State. They stood their ground and their courage lead to the start of change (we are far from being done). Their courage led to the successes that the national organizers now wish to replicate.


The national movement's organizing relationship with the police left them to support the oppression released on the 16th, just as the National Movement did in Los Angeles in 2007, when the LA Police attacked peaceful marchers on May Day. The dynamics are very similar and further show how this national movement of hundreds of thousands in the mid-00's has now declined to the thousands, while simultaneously thousands of migrants are being deported south of the border. A lack of understanding of the police and state infiltration in the immigration movement has lead to a narrow message that prevents this movement from being a true movement of human rights. The national movement determines, with the cooperation of the State, what level of action can be taken, and who and how one can participate in “their” movement, while at the same time calling for a National Day of Solidarity. One example of such “gatekeeping.” is a call for a Pan-American Indigenous voice that in fact marginalizes the local Indigenous voice, in the case of this area, the O'odham. Most would think, the overall indigenous presence would be amplified by the local Indigenous voice being present, and the participants being supported, in this case the DOA contingent . If themes of indigenous liberation are used, it’s should be expected that would include a true solidarity with the indigenous people, and an understanding of this very land they organize on. This inconsistent message the national immigration movement organizes around gives the State the power to divide and conquer all people, and provides an avenue through which the State can attack the overall movement.

The police's brutal use of force on the 16th is a wake up call, not just for what corporate media and national immigration movement leaders deemed “an outside factions of anarchists” but to everyone who marched that day, which is that we are living in a police state in which all forms of resistance that address the root problem will be targeted. What happened here in Phoenix can and has happened in communities throughout the country.

The local and national immigration organizers denounced our project of indigenous/anarchist solidarity. As expressed in the first DOA statement, we welcome diversity of tactics to challenge the violence of the state, and thus welcome diverse groups and communities that are compelled into action. Documented or undocumented, environmentalist or anarchist, whomever so desires it in their hearts to live free from this current existence of the tyranny of the state.

The police attack led to the wrongful arrest of five of our comrades. But as the weeks go by, more evidence is showing the contradictions in the police's account on the 16th. Recently, two of the arrested cases have been scratched, we continue to stand by the three who are still facing charges and ask that national immigration organizers join us in this latest struggle against state repression.

OSABC at this time is asking that the points of the DOA statement be addressed. The 16th showed what happens when fake gestures of solidarity are expressed, the State sees this as a chance to further divide movements and people. OSABC hopes if the points are addressed, then it will lead to a stronger movement that does not do the State's job by dividing us. We understand many are upset by corporate media and politicians’ accounts of what happened, but we would refer that you ask the youth, that the national immigration organizers used as security, for their accounts of what transpired. They also became subjected to the brutality of the Police State unleashed.

The OSABC call for the DOA contingent will hopefully challenge all those who marched, against Joe or for Immigration Reform, to think about the root problem that spawns this system of forced removals.

OSABC is an autonomous collective and no way speaks for anyone but ourselves, families and elders, but will continue to address what appears to be the marginalization of our people and attack on our Him'dag, again. So when these victories for Human Rights happen, it’s not built on our backs. So our hajen can be able to freely travel in our lands, free of Border Patrol sweeps, just as migrant familias should be able to travel freely in Maricopa County, free of Sheriff Joe/MCSO sweeps. We, as young O'odham, along with young Diné, recognized the national climate around the immigration issue and felt this was the best way to support not only our fellow migrant brothers and sisters, but fellow O'odham, and all Indigenous peoples that are all affected by the white supremacist/colonial policies of the forced removals and relocations.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Why The Oscars Are A Con

Why The Oscars Are A Con
By John Pilger

February 10, 2010 "Information Clearing House" -- Why are so many films so bad? This year’s Oscar nominations are a parade of propaganda, stereotypes and downright dishonesty. The dominant theme is as old as Hollywood: America’s divine right to invade other societies, steal their history and occupy our memory. When will directors and writers behave like artists and not pimps for a world view devoted to control and destruction?

I grew up on the movie myth of the Wild West, which was harmless enough unless you happened to be a native American. The formula is unchanged. Self-regarding distortions present the nobility of the American colonial aggressor as a cover for massacre, from the Philippines to Iraq. I only fully understood the power of the con when I was sent to Vietnam as a war reporter. The Vietnamese were “gooks” and “Indians” whose industrial murder was preordained in John Wayne movies and sent back to Hollywood to glamourise or redeem.

I use the word murder advisedly, because what Hollywood does brilliantly is suppress the truth about America’s assaults. These are not wars, but the export of a gun-addicted, homicidal “culture”. And when the notion of psychopaths as heroes wears thin, the bloodbath becomes an “American tragedy” with a soundtrack of pure angst.

Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker is in this tradition. A favourite for multiple Oscars, her film is “better than any documentary I’ve seen on the Iraq war. It’s so real it’s scary” (Paul Chambers CNN). Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian reckons it has “unpretentious clarity” and is “about the long and painful endgame in Iraq” that “says more about the agony and wrong and tragedy of war than all those earnest well-meaning movies”.

What nonsense. Her film offers a vicarious thrill via yet another standard-issue psychopath high on violence in somebody else’s country where the deaths of a million people are consigned to cinematic oblivion. The hype around Bigelow is that she may be the first female director to win an Oscar. How insulting that a woman is celebrated for a typically violent all-male war movie.

The accolades echo those for The Deer Hunter (1978) which critics acclaimed as “the film that could purge a nation’s guilt!” The Deer Hunter lauded those who had caused the deaths of more than three million Vietnamese while reducing those who resisted to barbaric commie stick figures. In 2001, Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down provided a similar, if less subtle catharsis for another American “noble failure” in Somalia while airbrushing the heroes’ massacre of up to 10,000 Somalis.

By contrast, the fate of an admirable American war film, Redacted, is instructive. Made in 2007 by Brian De Palma, the film is based on the true story of the gang rape of an Iraqi teenager and the murder of her family by American soldiers. There is no heroism, no purgative. The murderers are murderers, and the complicity of Hollywood and the media in the epic crime in Iraq is described ingeniously by De Palma. The film ends with a series of photographs of Iraqi civilians who were killed. When it was order that their faces be ordered blacked out “for legal reasons”, De Palma said, “I think that’s terrible because now we have not even given the dignity of faces to this suffering people. The great irony about Redacted is that it was redacted.” After a limited release in the US, this fine film all but vanished.

Non-American (or non-western) humanity is not deemed to have box office appeal, dead or alive. They are the “other” who are allowed, at best, to be saved by “us”. In Avatar, James Cameron’s vast and violent money-printer, 3-D noble savages known as the Na’vi need a good guy American soldier, Sergeant Jake Sully, to save them. This confirms they are “good”. Natch.

My Oscar for the worst of the current nominees goes to Invictus, Clint Eastwood’s unctuous insult to the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Taken from a hagiography of Nelson Mandela by a British journalist, John Carlin, the film might have been a product of apartheid propaganda. In promoting the racist, thuggish rugby culture as a panacea of the “rainbow nation”, Eastwood gives barely a hint that many black South Africans were deeply embarrassed and hurt by Mandela’s embrace of the hated Springbok symbol of their suffering. He airbrushes white violence – but not black violence, which is ever present as a threat. As for the Boer racists, they have hearts of gold, because “we didn’t really know”. The subliminal theme is all too familiar: colonialism deserves forgiveness and accommodation, never justice.

At first I thought Invictus, could not be taken seriously, then I looked around the cinema at young people and others for whom the horrors of apartheid have no reference, and I understood the damage such a slick travesty does to our memory and its moral lessons. Imagine Eastwood making a happy-Sambo equivalent in the American Deep South. He would not dare.

The film most nominated for an Oscar and promoted by the critics is Up in the Air, which has George Clooney as a man who travels America sacking people and collecting frequent flyer points. Before the triteness dissolves into sentimentality, every stereotype is summoned, especially of women. There is a bitch, a saint and a cheat. However, this is “a movie for our times”, says the director Jason Reitman, who boasts having cast real sacked people. “We interviewed them about what it was like to lose their job in this economy,” said he, “then we’d fire them on camera and ask them to respond the way they did when they lost their job. It was an incredible experience to watch these non-actors with 100 per cent realism.”

Wow, what a winner.

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Monday, February 08, 2010

Latuff Stuff

Fantastic! I found this latest from Latuff at Desert Peace.

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Sunday, February 07, 2010

Bono Supports Israeli Apartheid With Planned U2 Concert

Yeah, we all know Bono's a Free Stater, imperialist, greedy, alcoholic dick.

Thankfully, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel has stepped up to challenge him on his pro-Zionist bigotry.

From the blog Desert Peace:

PACBI Issues Open Letter to Bono: “Entertaining Apartheid Israel…U 2 Bono? “
Dear Bono,

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)was deeply disturbed to learn that that you are scheduled to perform in Israel this coming summer. Two years ago, you were invited by Israeli President Shimon Peres to attend a conference in Israel marking Israel‘s contributions to medicine, science, and conservation; we urged you then, as a prominent activist on issues of global inequality and a campaigner for basic human rights, to say no to Israel, especially since the invitation coincided with celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state.[1] You did not go to Israel then; we call on you now not to grant legitimacy to a state that practices the most pernicious form of colonialism and apartheid.

Performing in Israel would violate the almost unanimously endorsed Palestinian civil society Call for Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.[2] This Call is directed particularly towards international activists, artists, and academics of conscience, such as yourself. Moreover, it would come a year and a half after Israel’s bloody military assault against the occupied Gaza Strip which left over 1,440 Palestinians dead, of whom 431 were children, and 5380 injured.[3] The 1.5 million Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip, the overwhelming majority of whom are refugees who were expelled from their homes by Zionist forces in 1948,[4] were subjected to three weeks of relentless Israeli state terror, whereby Israeli warplanes systematically targeted civilian areas, reducing whole neighborhoods and vital civilian infrastructure to rubble and partially destroying Gaza’s leading university and scores of schools, including several run by the UN, where civilians were taking shelter.

This criminal assault comes after three years of an ongoing, illegal, crippling Israeli siege of Gaza which has shattered all spheres of life, prompting the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, Richard Falk, to describe it as “a prelude to genocide”. The UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, headed by the highly respected South African judge, Richard Goldstone, found Israel guilty of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity, as did major international human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. The Goldstone report concluded that Israel’s war on Gaza was “designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability.”[5]

In a recent New York Times op-ed[6], you wrote of your hope “that the regimes in North Korea, Myanmar and elsewhere are taking note of the trouble an aroused citizenry can give to tyrants.” You went on to further elaborate on the hope that “people in places filled with rage and despair, places like the Palestinian
territories, will in the days ahead find among them their Gandhi, their King, their Aung San Suu Kyi.” Rather than shifting the blame from the violence of the colonial oppressor to the resistance of the indigenous oppressed and characterizing the Palestinians as a population filled with “rage and despair,” it is more apt to consider them among the “aroused citizenry” responding to tyranny – Israel‘s regime of occupation and apartheid.

As to your hope that the Palestinians will soon find their own leading figure to champion nonviolent resistance, the Palestinian civil society Call for Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions against Israel is one of the largest nonviolent, morally consistent movements for ending Israel’s system of apartheid and colonial oppression. It is endorsed by a majority of Palestinian civil society. As a leading artist who is concerned about human rights, it is your moral obligation to honor this call and not to cross our “picket line.”

A whole generation was affected by your musical activism, when you sang of the civil rights movement in America, the everyday human heroes in El Salvador and the brave struggles in Ireland – you filled a space that forced political morality into pop culture. Entertaining apartheid Israel despite all the injustice it is committing against the Palestinians would significantly smear this great legacy of yours.

Through systematic repression and incarceration of human rights defenders without due process, Israel has made sure that those Palestinian “Gandhis” and “Kings” do not rise to prominence. Activists such as Mohammed Othman, Abdallah Abu Rahma, and Jamal Jum’a, to mention only a few recent examples, have been imprisoned without charge or trial, a practice that has been harshly condemned by Amnesty International.[7] Historically, successive Israeli governments went even further in suppressing civil and popular resistance: one of Yitzhak Rabin’s strategies in the First Intifada, for instance, was to “break the bones” of young Palestinian protestors, often “preemptively;” more recently, Israeli military forces have brutally dispersed weekly nonviolent Palestinian protests against Israel’s Wall—which was declared illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004—by firing rubber bullets, teargas canisters, and sometimes live ammunition onto protestors. Such methods have resulted in the injury of hundreds of peaceful protesters, including some internationals and Israelis, as well as the death of several Palestinian civilians. American human rights activist, Tristan Anderson, was shot in the head with a high velocity tear gas projectile while protesting peacefully in the village of Ni’lin against the Wall.

Your appearance in Israel would lend to its well-oiled campaign to whitewash all the above grave violations of international law and basic human rights through “re-branding” itself as a liberal nation enjoying membership in the Western club of democracies. Above everything else, it would serve to deflect attention away from Israel‘s three forms of oppression against the Palestinian people: the legalized and institutionalized system of racial discrimination against the Palestinian citizens of Israel; the military occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; and the continuous denial of the Palestinian refugees’ UN-sanctioned right to return to their homes and to receive just reparations.

As a promoter of peace and justice, you are a distinguished member and co-founder of the ONE Campaign to end extreme poverty in Africa. The international patron of this campaign, South African Nobel Laureate and celebrated anti-apartheid activist, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, remarked[8] that “the end of apartheid stands as one of the crowning accomplishments of the past century, but we would not have succeeded without the help of international pressure– in particular the divestment movement of the 1980s…a similar movement has taken shape, this time aiming at an end to the Israeli occupation.” He concluded that “if apartheid ended, so can this occupation, but the moral force and international pressure will have to be just as determined. The current divestment effort is the first, though certainly not the only, necessary move in that direction.”

We urge you to heed the wise words of Archbishop Tutu and to honor the Palestinian Call. Your performance in Israel would be tantamount to having performed in Sun City during South Africa’s apartheid era, in violation of the international boycott unanimously endorsed by the oppressed South African majority. We call on you not to entertain Israeli Apartheid!


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Friday, February 05, 2010

Fade To White

Hat tip AK48.

Fade to White
New York Times Op-Ed Contributor
Published: February 4, 2010

Oakland, Calif.

JUDGING from the mail I’ve received, the conversations I’ve had and all that I’ve read, the responses to “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” fall largely along racial lines.

Among black men and women, there is widespread revulsion and anger over the Oscar-nominated film about an illiterate, obese black teenager who has two children by her father. The author Jill Nelson wrote: “I don’t eat at the table of self-hatred, inferiority or victimization. I haven’t bought into notions of rampant black pathology or embraced the overwrought, dishonest and black-people-hating pseudo-analysis too often passing as post-racial cold hard truths.” One black radio broadcaster said that he felt under psychological assault for two hours. So did I.

The blacks who are enraged by “Precious” have probably figured out that this film wasn’t meant for them. It was the enthusiastic response from white audiences and critics that culminated in the film being nominated for six Oscars by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, an outfit whose 43 governors are all white and whose membership in terms of diversity is about 40 years behind Mississippi. In fact, the director, Lee Daniels, said that the honor would bring even more “middle-class white Americans” to his film.

Is the enthusiasm of such white audiences and awards committees based on their being comfortable with the stereotypes shown? Barbara Bush, the former first lady, not only hosted a screening of “Precious” but also wrote about it in Newsweek, saying: “There are kids like Precious everywhere. Each day we walk by them: young boys and girls whose home lives are dark secrets.” Oprah Winfrey, whose endorsement assisted the movie’s distribution and its acceptance among her white fanbase, said, “None of us who sees the movie can now walk through the world and allow the Preciouses of the world to be invisible.”

Are Mrs. Bush and Ms. Winfrey suggesting, on the basis of a fictional film, that incest is widespread among black families? Statistics tell us that it’s certainly no more prevalent among blacks than whites. The National Center for Victims of Crime notes: “Incest does not discriminate. It happens in families that are financially privileged, as well as those of low socio-economic status. It happens to those of all racial and ethnic descent, and to those of all religious traditions.”

Given the news media’s tendency to use scandals involving black men, both fictional and real, to create “teaching tools” about the treatment of women, it was inevitable that a black male character associated with incest would be used to begin some national discussion about the state of black families.

This use of movies and books to cast collective shame upon an entire community doesn’t happen with works about white dysfunctional families. It wasn’t done, for instance, with “Requiem for a Dream,” starring the great Ellen Burstyn, about a white family dealing with drug addiction, or with “The Kiss,” a memoir about incest — in that case, a relationship between a white father and his adult daughter.

Such stereotyping has led to calamities being visited on minority communities. I’ve suggested that the Newseum in Washington create a Hall of Shame, which would include the front pages of newspapers whose inflammatory coverage led to explosions of racial hatred. I’m thinking, among many others, of 1921’s Tulsa riot, which started with a rumor that a black man had assaulted a white woman, and resulted in the murder of 300 blacks.

Black films looking to attract white audiences flatter them with another kind of stereotype: the merciful slave master. In guilt-free bits of merchandise like “Precious,” white characters are always portrayed as caring. There to help. Never shown as contributing to the oppression of African-Americans. Problems that members of the black underclass encounter are a result of their culture, their lack of personal responsibility.

It’s no surprise either that white critics — eight out of the nine comments used on the publicity Web site for “Precious” were from white men and women — maintain that the movie is worthwhile because, through the efforts of a teacher, this girl begins her first awkward efforts at writing.

Redemption through learning the ways of white culture is an old Hollywood theme. D. W. Griffith produced a series of movies in which Chinese, Indians and blacks were lifted from savagery through assimilation. A more recent example of climbing out of the ghetto through assimilation is “Dangerous Minds,” where black and Latino students are rescued by a curriculum that doesn’t include a single black or Latino writer.

By the movie’s end, Precious may be pushing toward literacy. But she is jobless, saddled with two children, one of whom has Down syndrome, and she’s learned that she has AIDS.

Some redemption.

Ishmael Reed is the author of the forthcoming “Barack Obama and the Jim Crow Media.”

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Epic Fail: Crocodile Tears Don't Intimidate Dr. Normal Finkelstein

"If you had any heart in you, you would be crying for the Palestinians!"

Epic fail for Zionist Nazis as Normal Finkelstein refuses to back down on his stance against Israeli genocide and terrorism.

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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Colorado Lawmaker Turns Coward On Indian Mascot Bill

Racist Mascot of the Fightin Reds in Greeley, Colorado

Colorado Senator Suzanne Williams would no doubt object to this degrading image of sexual mascotization, but she has turned coward on confronting racial mascotization.

Colorado lawmaker to withdraw Indian-mascot bill
By Lynn Bartels
The Denver Post
Posted: 02/04/2010 01:00:00 AM MST
Updated: 02/04/2010 02:14:36 AM MST

A state lawmaker plans to withdraw a bill that would legislate public high schools' use of American Indian mascots, saying she has already achieved her goal of igniting community discussions over whether the mascots are appropriate.

Sen. Suzanne Williams, D-Aurora, also said Wednesday that her measure isn't needed anymore because the Colorado Indian Education Foundation plans to work with schools that have Indian mascots.

"I fervently believe we can build on our knowledge and expand our appreciation of our Native American ancestors," said Williams, who is one-quarter Comanche.

Williams ignited a firestorm of controversy last month when she introduced a bill that would have required all public and charter high schools with Indian mascots to get approval from the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs.

Yuma High School pointed out that its mascot was changed in the 1920s from the Cornhuskers to the Chiefs to honor American Indians.

Democratic Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien said the commission didn't have the staff to handle mascot work.

And Republican Sen. Scott Renfroe of Greeley said mascots were an issue for local school boards and that the state had more pressing needs to worry about.

But Williams had her supporters, including Katherine Bauer, 78, whose seven children attended Eaton High School, home of the Reds. The school mascot features a large-nosed, scowling Indian in a loincloth and leather pants.

"I think it's very degrading to people whose land we are living on and we all enjoy," Bauer said Wednesday.

The Greeley Tribune on Sunday editorialized on the mascot, saying, "It's unfortunate Williams even had to introduce the legislation."

"It's time for the Reds to go," the editorial began.

Williams still must formally withdraw her bill during a committee hearing.

Senate Bill 107 included a provision that schools would be fined $1,000 a month if they used Indian mascots past July 2013 without commission approval. Williams said if she had proceeded with her bill, she would have stripped that provision.

Williams estimated about a dozen schools in Colorado have Indian "mascots" — a term defined in the bill as "a name, symbol or image that depicts or refers to an American Indian tribe, individual custom or tradition." Among them: Lamar High School, home of the Savages, and Montbello High School, home of the Warriors.

"I introduced this bill because I feel very strongly that we need a conversation about the subtle discrimination between races and cultures," she said.

Lynn Bartels: 303-954-5327 or

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Bigger than the Games: One woman's mission to create hoopla for treaty talks

Hat Tip AK48:

Bigger than the Games: One woman's mission to create hoopla for treaty talks
If Sophie Pierre can get politicians and the public excited about the economic benefits of settling treaties in British Columbia, she'll deserve a medal.


VICTORIA — From Friday's Globe and Mail Published on Friday, Jan. 15, 2010 12:00AM EST Last updated on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010 3:49AM EST

It's bigger than the Olympics: That message will be featured in an ad barrage to be launched next week.

The campaign is meant to draw attention to an issue that generates no hoopla, pulls no cheering crowds. If Sophie Pierre can get politicians and the public excited about the economic benefits of settling treaties in British Columbia, she'll deserve a medal.

When Ms. Pierre took over as head of the BC Treaty Commission nine months ago, she had already concluded that the process of treaty talks is being smothered by complacency. As one of the architects of the present system, she's watched in frustration over two decades as treaty-making has become just another program.

The ad campaign is her latest effort to shake up the institution she now heads.

But it wasn't her first choice. She started her campaign in Ottawa, where she tried last fall to appeal to the economist in Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The pitch: B.C.'s unfinished business of settling aboriginal land claims is holding the province's economy back.

Wherever she spoke, with MPs and bureaucrats, she had to explain why treaties are such a dogged issue in B.C.

Most of the province is still subject to land claims. A handful of treaties were signed in the 1800s, but, with just a few exceptions, the treaty process has been a money pit that has produced little benefit for aboriginal people or the province as a whole.

"First nations have been duped," she said in an interview yesterday. With $350-million in loans to pay for their negotiators, many aboriginal groups are poised at the point where their debts begin to outweigh the potential benefits.

The benefits of certainty are not just for the aboriginal communities themselves. Resource companies routinely find their efforts stymied by outstanding disputes over rights to the fish, the trees or the minerals underground. "We can be a positive force in the economy," she said.

Ms. Pierre, former chief of the entrepreneurial-minded Ktunaxa Nation in the Kootenays, knew that she needed more than her own experience to sell the concept. Her office commissioned a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers that calculated the economic benefits of treaties could more than double the return to B.C. for hosting the Olympic Games next month. That's based on settling with the 60 aboriginal groups now in the treaty process over the next 15 years.

But her call for Mr. Harper to intervene in the name of the economy produced only radio static.

"I do question the Prime Minister's commitment," she said yesterday.

The ad campaign to be launched next week will appeal to Mr. Harper the politician, who has shown a more diligent interest in the province's voters.

The ads are simple. They ask: What has a bigger economic impact than the Olympics? If you want the answer, you're directed to the treaty commission's Web page,, where readers can find a dozen arguments in favour of ending uncertainty over land and resources.

Since 1993, the treaty commission process has resulted in one treaty, with the Tsawwassen First Nation. The Maa-nulth First Nations treaty has been approved but is not yet implemented.

Many others, however, have given up. Last fall, two aboriginal communities cut their losses on negotiations to try their luck in the courts. Others are taking the B.C. government up on its willingness to cut deals on resources and shared decision-making.

Ms. Pierre calls those deals progressive, but warns they can't replace the security of a constitutionally protected treaty.

Chief Bill Cranmer, of the 'Namgis First Nation, believes a treaty is the only way to dig his Cormorant Island community out of poverty and misery.

His people first made contact with Europeans in 1792, when Captain George Vancouver came up the Nimpkish River as he charted the west coast for the British Royal Navy. "He found a healthy, industrious people," Chief Cranmer said.

Today, half of the 1,700 'Namgis don't live on reserve because there aren't enough homes or jobs. The band is involved in a gravel pit operation and ecotourism, but it's not enough. "If we continue under the Indian Act, we are just managing poverty," he said.

"The treaty we are looking at is going to allow the 'Namgis to remain a distinct people within our territories." It is within reach, he believes, but it will require just what Ms. Pierre is demanding: a fresh negotiating mandate from Ottawa.

"We recognize we aren't going to get all our land back," Mr. Cranmer said. But with a commitment to settle, he believes he can see within his lifetime a community that is once again physically, spiritually and economically healthy.



Yale First Nation This deal could be announced any day now, but already there is trouble brewing with other aboriginal groups over fishing rights in the Fraser Canyon. The 145-member band would receive treaty lands of 1,140 hectares and $6.5-million in cash. But the most contentious details regarding fishing rights have yet to be made public.

In-SHUCK-ch Nation The group includes about 900 members living in the Lillooet River Valley between Harrison Lake and Pemberton. The current proposal would provide 14,500 hectares plus $21-million.

Sliammon First Nation A deal with this 1,000-member Vancouver Island community, near Power River, has been hung up over fishing rights, but insiders say a settlement is close. Then again, the Sliammon have been close before - the community voted down a deal in 2001. The new proposal includes about 6,000 hectares, $2-million and a commitment to negotiate revenue sharing.

Yekooche First Nation Most of the 214 band members live on a remote reserve on the shores of Stuart Lake. The proposed treaty lands would work out to about 30 hectares per person - more than 6,400 hectares in total, plus $6.5-million. But the pine beetle epidemic has since wiped out much of the timber stands, and the province is now looking at ways to sweeten the offer.

Lheidli T'enneh Band This Prince George-area band, with 320 members, celebrated an agreement in 2006. But the package, including 4,330 hectares of land, was narrowly rejected by band members in 2007. Now the community may hold a second vote this year on the same package.

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Monday, February 01, 2010

Haitians Successfully Organize Themselves

That Haitians would so successfully organize their own communities in the face of a devastating earthquake should come as no surprise. Haiti staged one of the greatest slave revolutions in history, a revolution that gives white imperialists nightmares to this day - as evidenced by the gangbanging thugs recently deployed to Haiti by the Pentagon.

Haitians in makeshift camps organize 'platoons' to provide services
The Christian Science Monitor

Airlifts of Haiti quake victims to resume AFP – A man washes on the street in Port-au-Prince. The US military is to resume medical airlifts of critically-injured …
By Howard LaFranchi Howard Lafranchi – Sun Jan 31, 11:41 am ET

Port-au-Prince, Haiti – As Haitians have accepted the stark reality that the camps that sprang up after the horrific Jan. 12 earthquake will be their home indefinitely, people have moved to get their new communities organized.

Enter any camp here, from the sprawling, stewing expanse of perhaps 10,000 people in the capital’s central Champ de Mars, to others on soccer fields and golf courses and inside the security barriers of now-crumbled public buildings, and in most cases you’ll find “the committee” – the small group of men and women who have taken it upon themselves to establish security, organize assistance deliveries, and maintain a minimum of sanitation.

Behind these spontaneous and often basic attempts at self-government is a very human desire to put some order – and maybe even a bit of hope – into disrupted and disoriented lives.

“The first distributions of food here were complete chaos. The groups got out of here before emptying their trucks because it was such a mess,” says Ben Constant, president of the “committee” at the Sylvio Cator soccer stadium camp, a few blocks west of the collapsed presidential palace in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince. “That’s when we knew we had to get this thing organized.”

Mr. Constant, a well-known Port-au-Prince deejay who before the quake managed the stadium for the Haitian Federation of Football, sat down to figure out who was living in the camp – about 700 families, more than 2,500 people – what was needed, and who could do what.

Clean-up 'platoons'Clean-up and security "platoons" were established – the word “platoon" harking back to Constant’s years serving in the US Army and Vietnam (he’s a Haitian citizen who lived in the US for a number of years). A clinic with what he claims is now some of the best emergency pediatric care in the city was set up – open not just to the camp population but to Haitian kids in need.

And families were assigned a number – it’s all written down by hand on a neat ledger – so that numbers are called when aid arrives, and the distribution is more orderly.

Constant says he felt compelled to organize day-to-day living at the camp because frustration was building “and something bad was going to happen.” The fact he and his family live at the stadium as well was another motivation. “We lost everything like everybody else,” he says. “We’re just trying to make what we can of this situation.”

In some cases, the camp committee members were involved in neighborhood governing boards before the quake, and simply transferred their skills and social-organizing tendencies to their new residence.

Kermly Hermé is one of those people. Active in the Bel Air neighborhood before the quake, she is now the doyenne of at least a section of the sprawling Champ de Mars camp.

A large woman with a colorful muumuu and a massive bun fashioned of tight braids, Ms. Herme says the “committee” of nine she sits on has assigned itself such tasks as keeping the nearby port-a-johns “orderly” and getting the sick and wounded to clinics.

She herself has taken on the job of going to market to buy provisions – with the small “dues” the committee collects of camp residents – to prepare a daily hot meal.

Indeed, Herme suddenly excuses herself from an interview and moves to the bubbling pots a few steps away, where a rather forlorn-looking man holds out a Styrofoam takeout container. Without a word she scoops rice onto the plate and then ladles chicken in chickpea sauce over it. The man thanks her and walks on.

Camps outside of Port-au-PrinceThe camp organizing is not limited to Port-au-Prince, but appears to have sprung up wherever Haitians find themselves without a house and obliged to join others in makeshift communities.

In Jacmel on Haiti’s southern coast, the 13 individuals attempting to put some order into the lives of 600 homeless people in the crushed center city have even given themselves a fancy title: Management Committee of the Victims at Toussaint Louverture Square.

As was the case with the stadium camp, impending anarchy prompted the committee’s formation.

“A truck from Doctors without Borders came with kits of supplies to hand out, but it was such terrible disorder they left in a hurry,” says Michelet Jerôme. “That got us going.”

The committee now has a security team – petty theft by “outsiders” was becoming a problem – and food, shelter, and health subcommittees.

Another important committee function is to advocate for the camp with the dozens of international assistance organizations that are bringing supplies and services into the city. “We have a serious lack of tents, but if you go into some of the streets in the higher [up the hill] neighborhoods, you’ll see them lined with red tents because they had good contact with the organization that provided tents,” Mr. Jerôme says. “We need a committee to establish relations with these groups.”

Longer-term housing needsThe camp organizing is taking hold just as the Haitian government plans for the longer-term housing needs of perhaps 1 million Haitians during the country’s reconstruction period. Last week Haitian officials said they had already secured 400,000 tents from international donors, and had so far selected sites in Port-au-Prince for two large camps.

Some of the camp organizers say they expect many of the makeshift camps to remain, in part because they are often close to people’s neighborhoods. Others say they will be happy to turn over management to the government. Some, however, fear any attempt to build camps of several thousand families make things worse. Among the concerns: The new camps will be located far from the city center, transportation won't be adequate, and distribution of food and other needs – still a problem in the makeshift camps – will deteriorate in camps with more people.

Hermé of the Champ de Mars says she can understand that 10,000 people can’t continue living in the city’s central public space, but she also says that past experience suggests to her that the government will have a hard time getting the new camps right.

“If they organize things well from the beginning, with good services and transportation, it can work,” she says. “But already we only find out about their plans on the radio, so it’s not a good start.”

And at the stadium camp, Constant is even less hopeful. “They’re going to try to do something that is impossible,” he says. “I know what we’re going through here with 800 people,” he says. “Can you imagine what it will take to succeed with 5,000 people living in the same camp?”

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