Sunday, March 30, 2014

American Indians also have the right to self-determination

While the world is focused on Crimea and the right of the Crimean people to self-determination there is a group of people that has more of a right to self-determination than any other in the world. These people have had their entire country taken away and all of their lands stolen through invasion, trickery and a twisting of laws that they never agreed to live under and never understood. These people, like the peoples of many colonized nations have been and continue to be the victims of the worst organized genocide in the history of mankind. 
The genocide of these people makes the Holocaust, where approximately 40 million Jews were brutally exterminated, pale in comparison, these people (by maximum accounts) lost up to 800 million individuals. All orders for their annihilation and the laws and documents giving the invaders the self-given right to steal their lands have never been rescinded, and the genocide continues.

These people live in zones determined by the invaders who stole their lands and continue to exist almost voicelessly cut off from modern society purposefully marginalized and treated worse than slaves.
What is left of these proud people are the real owners of their lands and continue to fight the invaders in any way they can but the brutal criminal American state, that has stolen everything they had, continues to oppress them and deny them the rights that any human being is entitled to, especially the right to self-determination.
These people are the Indigenous people of North and South America and the most egregious oppressor is the United States of America. The American Indians, as the natives of their lands, as peoples with their own languages, customs and beliefs have the right to self-determination like any other human beings.
That right, however, continues to be denied to them. There is no super-power which will help them, there is no movement or group which is effectively fighting for them on the international level. They are a quiet and peaceful people so they do not take up arms, kill the occupiers or organize terrorist acts against the invaders and murderers of their people. Therefore they are easy to marginalize and to ignore.
While the world considers and debates the right of the Crimean People, including the Russians, Ukrainians and Crimean Tartars, and is faced with the bald-faced hypocrisy of the United States of America and their leader Barrack Hussein Obama who are supporting neo-nazi fascists in Ukraine and getting away with overthrowing yet another government in a grab for more territory and resources and the continuation of their insane campaign to surround, conquer and divide the Russia, one might pause and consider why it is that the US is so obviously irrational. And, moreover, why the US does not sign or support declarations on human rights or key human rights organizations and those supporting the rule of law internationally and why they continue to slaughter millions all over the world spreading like a cancer devouring everything in their path.
The one simple reason why the United States can not recognize the rights of the people of Crimea or Ukraine, why they continue to run a "secret" system of apartheid and imprison millions of their "minorities" who they execute at will, why they continue to aggressively invade country after country under false pretexts and overthrow governments in violation of international laws and standards is because the United States is an illegal country founded on genocide by drunken outcasts of European society blinded by greed and with an insane blood lust for murder.
If the United States begins to follow the framework of law, respect sovereignty and recognize the rights of people to self-determination (not to mention all of the other laws and rights they are violating) then they will have to respect the right of the American Indian Nations to self-determination. They will have to rescind the orders to exterminate the Indian people and they will have seek the annulment of the Doctrine of Discovery and give the stolen lands back to the Indians. The greedy resource billionaires who control the US Government will never do that.
So the hypocrisy and double standards will continue for it is not possible to for a country and a government to function normally and respect the peoples of the world, when they are themselves living with a psychosis and keeping entire peoples locked in their basement.
For the innocent, oppressed, exploited and subjugated masses yearning to breathe free are not citizens from all over the world who yearn for some false American dream and struggle to reach US shores, but the native people who are kept on reservations and treated as less than human by squatting invaders who committed genocide so that they could never be challenged for all that they have stolen.
The views and opinions expressed here are my own I can be reached at

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Native Landslide Survivor Describes Devastating Wall of Mud; Missing Reduced to 90

Wind and rain over the weekend have been hampering recovery efforts in the one-square-mile debris field that used to be Oso, Washington before it was obliterated by March 22's devastating landslide.

The official count of the dead rose to 18 on Saturday March 29 as more bodies were pulled from the wreckage, but the number of missing was reduced to 30, from 90. One of the confirmed fatalities was 4-month-old Sanoah Violet Huestis, who was being babysat by her grandmother, 45-year-old Christina Jefferds. Jefferds also perished. In all, authorities had confirmed 17 dead by Friday evening March 28, though they had found several others who were not yet added to the total, pending identification. 

RELATED: At Least 108 Could Be Missing in Washington State Landslide Near Sauk-Suattle Territory

Robin Tekwelus Youngblood was one of the survivors, though she lost everything except a painting. The Okanagon/Tsalagi woman was sitting in her house with a friend, she told the Associated Press, when she heard a roar that sounded like a crashing airplane, then looked out the window just in time to see a wall of mud hurtling toward her mobile home. Within seconds, it was all over.

"All I could say was 'Oh my God' and then it hit us," she told AP. “Two minutes was the whole thing."


4.8 earthquake rocks US Yellowstone National Park

A 4.8 magnitude quake rocked Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming near the border with Montana, the US Geological Survey said. There were several aftershocks with a magnitude over 3.

The earthquake occurred 37 kilometers northeast of West Yellowstone, Montana at 6:34 am local time (1234 GMT) Sunday.

The quake was centered almost in the middle of Yellowstone National Park, near the Norris Geyser Basin, said Peter Cervelli, a spokesman for the USGS Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, NBC News reported.

He added that any damage from the temblor would likely be minor, noting there are not many visitors in the park at the moment.

There were no immediate reports of damage.


The Native American Children’s Safety Act Introduced in U.S. Senate

WASHINGTON – A much needed Native American Children’s Safety Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate this past Thursday.

Currently, American Indian tribes do not have uniform minimum procedures and guidelines when an American Indian child is placed in foster care under the direction of a tribal court.

Procedures and guidelines vary from tribe to tribe, with standards at some tribes being more rigorous than others. Unfortunately, some American Indian children in the tribal foster care system have needed protections that have not been afforded them.


Indian Country: Last week's important news stories

DAN SNYDER AND THE 'OAF': With a four-page letter released late in the day on Monday, Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder announced the launch of the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation, taking his stubborn defense of the team's name to a new level. The move has not played at all well in the court of public opinion, with Natives and mainstream media ridiculing the "OAF" as a crude PR tactic. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid labeled it a "phony deal," and satirist Stephen Colbert did a controversial comedy bit in which he announced a fictional charity that would be plainly insulting to Asian Americans.

LANDSLIDE RELIEF: The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe has donated $275,000 to landslide relief efforts, giving $50,000 each to the Darrington, Arlington and Oso fire departments, as well as to the Red Cross, Cascade Valley Relief Foundation and $25,000 to K-9 relief. As the death toll from the devastating landslide in Oso, Washington climbed to 16 and a heartbreaking 90 people remained unaccounted for, Northwest tribes stepped forward with personnel assistance and steady prayer.

SUPAMAN SOARING: Chris Parrish, aka Supaman, an Apsaalooke (Crow) Nation indie rapper with pow wow fancy dancing skills was named Artist of the Week by MTV's Iggy blog, a site that touts the best new music.

EARTHWORKS SAVED: A winning bid of $650,000 by a conservancy group was enough to save the last privately owned Hopewell earthworks site in Ohio from development.

ET TU, HEIDI?: Model Heidi Klum, who was host of Project Runway when Taos Pueblo designer Patricia Michaels made her exciting run on the show, has proudly endorsed an Indian-themed photo shoot for Germany's Next Top Model (of which she is also host) that many Natives are finding patently offensive.

MOOSE FACTORY'S OWN: Equinox, a superhero modeled on real-life First Nation teens, is set to make her debut in the DC Comics publication Justice League United.

UNTO THE BREACH: The Quinault Indian Nation has declared a state of emergency due to flooding via a breach in the seawall at Taholah.

GIVING: The Cherokee Nation donated a total of nearly $200,000 to eight Boys & Girls Clubs within the Cherokee Nation’s jurisdiction, including more than $80,000 to the Cherokee County Boys & Girls Club, on Thursday at a presentation in the Cherokee Nation Tribal Complex.

CONTROVERSIAL LOOK: Johna Edmonds, Lumbee, Miss North Carolina 2013, posted several photos of herself portraying a glamorized version of Pocahontas to her Facebook page, provoking considerable backlash from Natives.

STATE ARTIFACT: "Sandy," an 18-inch sandstone statue of a kneeling male figure that was carved between 1000 and 1350 A.D. during the Mississippian period, is now the official state artifact of Tennessee.

REQUEST DENIED: Tribes have asked for the return of Native scalps on display at the Karl May Museum in Radebeul, Germany, but have thus far been denied.


Rejecting TPP, AFL-CIO’s Trumka Calls for ‘Global New Deal’

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka today called for a "Global New Deal" to fundamentally rethink U.S. foreign trade policies, especially so-called "free trade agreements" such as the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

These treaties in the works are examples of  "a failed model of global economic policies" based on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of the mid-1990s, Trumka said. "We cannot enact new trade agreements modeled on NAFTA. … NAFTA put corporations in charge of America’s economic strategy with the goal of shipping jobs off shore to lower labor costs," he told an audience at the Washington, D.C., offices of the Center for America Progress, an advocacy group closely associated with the Democratic Party. Echoing common progressive criticisms of the trade deals, Trumka called NAFTA, TPP and TTIP "thinly disguised tools to increase corporate profits by poisoning workers, polluting the environment and hiding information from consumers."

"The NAFTA model is not inevitable," Trumka continued. "We have a choice, and we will choose between the world economy of today—with slow growth, high unemployment and obscene levels of inequality—and the world of tomorrow, of broadly shared prosperity. We will choose between a world of wealth for the 1%, with poverty for the rest of us, and a world in which all of us who work hard can enjoy the fruits of our labor."

Taking a global view, Trumka made the broad point that workers in the United States and elsewhere "need new policies to spark a virtuous cycle where rising wages fuel demand, not flimsy debt-driven demand, but healthy demand, which would in turn spark business investment and more jobs and higher wages in a strong cycle of global growth that works for all our families, for the environment and our communities. We need a global New Deal: a worldwide program to bring the basic infrastructure of modern society—electricity, water, schools, roads, Internet access— to everyone on Earth," he said. Renegotiated trade deals could be a means for establishing such a system, he suggested, but that would require an entirely new approach by government officials.


General Motors Cover-ups Result in Motor Vehicle Deaths, and Workplace Abuses in Colombia

Media reports are exposing that GM was aware for over a decade of a design flaw in 1.6 million vehicles which led to upwards of 300 fatalities before announcing a recall of those vehicles.  Though GM re-engineered the part in 2007, it didn't issue a recall until February, 2014.  Meanwhile, complaints were piling up from drivers who suddenly lost engine power causing the power steering, brakes, and airbags to fail.  12 deaths have already been attributed to a faulty ignition switch.  GM explained that it didn't recall the cars because drivers could still maneuver them manually and even turn the ignition back on!

How GM blew off the complaints, injuries, and deaths was no surprise to a group of ex-GM autoworkers from a Chevrolet assembly plant in Bogota, Colombia.   They, too, were victims of GM's disregard for safety - not on the road - but in the workplace.  Workers at their factory routinely suffered disabling injuries to their spines, shoulders and wrists from the intense work pace, 60-80 hour work weeks, the very physical nature of the work, and lack of workplace health and safety standards.  This was particularly true for workers who operated bulky, heavy welding guns, or manually lifted car bodies, or carried transaxles on their backs.


IC Magazine releases "Indigenous Struggles 2013"

Intercontinental Cry (IC) is pleased to announce the release of its long awaited publication, Indigenous Struggles 2013: Dispatches From The Fourth World.
Starting things off with an insightful introduction by Jeff Corntassel, Cherokee Professor in Indigenous Governance at the University of Victoria, this year's volume holds more than 450 dispatches, guiding you through everything from the Ainu's trip to Aotearoa to learn from the Maori; to the Oceti Sakowin's decision to meet after 100 years of silence; to the Munduruku's declaration of war against the Brazilian government.
Whether you're a seasoned land rights activist, a stay-at-home mom or a university student who just can't keep up with their twitter feed, Indigenous Struggles 2013 is an indispensable resource that will make sure you're aware of some of the most pivotal moments in 2013 concerning the world's Indigenous Peoples.
As a show of appreciation to our many readers, friends and supporters, we've decided to give away the online version of Indigenous Struggles 2013 for free! To download the magazine, just click the following link:
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For those who want to want something a little more hands on, you can order a print version of Indigenous Struggles 2013 for $15.00 + shipping:
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Police Killing Inflames San Francisco Community, Revealing Further Divides

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – A police shooting of a 28-year-old man in San Francisco last Friday has left the city divided, angry and uncertain over the fast-changing social and economic landscape of the Bay Area. On Tuesday, frustration boiled over at a community meeting led by San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr after he argued that the officers who shot Alejandro Nieto had "fired in defense of their lives."
The latest police-related violence to hit the Bay Area, last week's shooting and its fallout have residents – especially the non-white community that has long called the Mission District home – fearful of the future.
"We've been here before," said Dario Gomez, an immigrant who moved into the Mission neighborhood 12 years ago, and says he has long faced discrimination from the men in blue. "This is nothing new and the police arguments that Ale was a threat or posed danger is simply not true."
"Police know that young people go up to Bernal Hill to release anger and get away from their troubles," Gomez added. "To be shot there is just a wrong and this is murder."
But Police Chief Suhr argued differently, saying that officers responded to calls from area residents who claimed Nieto had a gun and was waving it around as he sat on Bernal Hill, a short walk from the Mission district.
The police account laid forth in the meeting was confusing, in which officers claimed they responded with numerous shots at Nieto when the young man allegedly reached for his holster, which carried a well-marked taser. Nieto was in possession of the taser due to his job as a security guard at a local bar and nightclub.

A Debate on Torture: Legal Architect of CIA Secret Prisons, Rendition vs. Human Rights Attorney

As the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence feuds with the CIA over the declassification of its 6,000-page report on the agency's secret detention and interrogation programs, we host a debate between former CIA acting general counsel John Rizzo and human rights attorney Scott Horton. This comes as the United Nations Human Rights Committee has criticized the Obama administration for closing its investigations into the CIA's actions after September 11. A U.N. report issued Thursday stated, "The Committee notes with concern that all reported investigations into enforced disappearances, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment that had been committed in the context of the CIA secret rendition, interrogation and detention programmes were closed in 2012 leading only to a meager number of criminal charges brought against low-level operatives." Rizzo served as acting general counsel during much of the George W. Bush administration and was a key legal architect of the U.S. interrogation and detention program after the Sept. 11 attacks. He recently published a book titled, "Company Man: Thirty Years of Controversy and Crisis in the CIA." Attorney Scott Horton is contributing editor at Harper's Magazine and author of the forthcoming book, "The Lords of Secrecy: The National Security Elite and America's Stealth Foreign Policy."


Climate Change Already Impacting ‘All Continents’ According To New International Report

The next big report from an ongoing international effort to nail down the science of climate change will be released on Monday. According to the Guardian, the report’s language concludes that climate change has already “caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans.”
An early draft was actually leaked in November. The biggest danger it sees is apparently coastal flooding driven by sea level rise — which could shave 10 percent off global economic production by the end of this century, according to previous research. Climate change also threatens widespread damage to marine life and fish populations worldwide, as bothwarming seas and ocean acidification throw off ecosystems’ natural balances.
Much of the report’s language has already been finalized, including a warning that “both warm water coral reef and Arctic ecosystems are already experiencing irreversible regime shifts.”
The report also sees the potential for droughts, floods, and shifting patterns of rainfall to endanger global food production — again, a finding backed by other studies. Climate change is also cutting down on the globe’s supply of fresh drinking water, and stronger storms pose a danger to human infrastructure.

NAFTA at 20: "A Vehicle To Increase Profits at the Expense of Democracy"

Thursday the AFL-CIO released a new report, NAFTA at 20. The report makes the point that, "On the whole, NAFTA-style agreements have proved to be primarily a vehicle to increase corporate profits at the expense of workers, consumers, farmers, communities, the environment and even democracy itself."

In a press release accompanying the report AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says that working people and democratic governance on all sides of NAFTA's borders are now worse off, and Congress should recognize this before approving any more "NAFTA-style" trade agreements.

"There is no success story for workers to be found in North America 20 years after NAFTA," said Trumka. "The NAFTA model focuses on lifting corporations out of reach of democratic governance, rather than solely reducing tariffs. This report should serve as a cautionary tale to the Obama Administration and Congress as they consider negotiating and implementing new trade deals."


Snoqualmie Indian Tribe Donates $275,000 to Landslide Relief

The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe has donated $275,000 to landslide relief efforts, giving $50,000 each to the Darrington, Arlington and Oso fire departments, as well as to the Red Cross, Cascade Valley Relief Foundation and $25,000 to K-9 relief.

Snoqualmie officials were inspired to donate after tribal members helping in the search efforts spoke of how wrenching the work was, the tribe’s vice-chair, Bob DeLosAngeles, told King5 News. They announced the donation at a press briefing on Friday March 28. The Snoqualmie are among several tribes that have donated money to assist in the crisis, including the Stillaguamish, the Sauk-Suiattle and the Tulalip tribes.


Autospy Reveals Cheyenne-Arapaho Teen was Shot 7 Times by Deputies

CLINTON, OKLAHOMA — Now that the autopsy was released Friday, March 21, 2014, Wilbur and Melissa Goodblanket await news on whether or not there will be any charges brought against two Custer County sheriff deputies who shot and killed their 18-year-old teenager son, Mah-hi-vist “Red Bird” Goodblanket, on December 21, 2013.

Mah-hi-vist "Red Bird" Goodblanket shot seven times by sheriff deputies.The long-awaited autopsy was released on Friday, March 21, 2014, and forwarded to Custer County District Attorney Dennis Smith, who will decide if there will be any charges filed against the shooting deputies.

The Goodblankets called 911 when Mah-hi-vist, who was diagnosed with Oppostional Defiant Disorder four years ago, was experiencing an episode associated with his medical condition.

The police were called so that the teen would not harm himself.

Two Custer County sheriff deputies, Avery Chance and and Dillon Mach, initially responded and entered the Goodblanket home in Clinton, Oklahoma with two Oklahoma Highway Patrol officers. Within moments of entering the home, the teen was shot to death by law enforcement officers.


PROTEST IN THE PLAINS: We Will Die For Our Grandchildren.

Leaders of the Oceti Sakowin say "No more" to the Keystone XL Pipeline Project. They are making their stand and promise the construction of the oil pipeline will not get past them without taking the lives of its defenders.

NYT: That Unfinished Oscar Speech by Marlon Brando, 30 March 1973

March 30, 1973


That Unfinished Oscar Speech


BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- For 200 years we have said to the Indian people who are fighting for their land, their life, their families and their right to be free: ''Lay down your arms, my friends, and then we will remain together. Only if you lay down your arms, my friends, can we then talk of peace and come to an agreement which will be good for you.''

When they laid down their arms, we murdered them. We lied to them. We cheated them out of their lands. We starved them into signing fraudulent agreements that we called treaties which we never kept. We turned them into beggars on a continent that gave life for as long as life can remember. And by any interpretation of history, however twisted, we did not do right. We were not lawful nor were we just in what we did. For them, we do not have to restore these people, we do not have to live up to some agreements, because it is given to us by virtue of our power to attack the rights of others, to take their property, to take their lives when they are trying to defend their land and liberty, and to make their virtues a crime and our own vices virtues.

But there is one thing which is beyond the reach of this perversity and that is the tremendous verdict of history. And history will surely judge us. But do we care? What kind of moral schizophrenia is it that allows us to shout at the top of our national voice for all the world to hear that we live up to our commitment when every page of history and when all the thirsty, starving, humiliating days and nights of the last 100 years in the lives of the American Indian contradict that voice?

It would seem that the respect for principle and the love of one's neighbor have become dysfunctional in this country of ours, and that all we have done, all that we have succeeded in accomplishing with our power is simply annihilating the hopes of the newborn countries in this world, as well as friends and enemies alike, that we're not humane, and that we do not live up to our agreements.

Perhaps at this moment you are saying to yourself what the hell has all this got to do with the Academy Awards? Why is this woman standing up here, ruining our evening, invading our lives with things that don't concern us, and that we don't care about? Wasting our time and money and intruding in our homes.

I think the answer to those unspoken questions is that the motion picture community has been as responsible as any for degrading the Indian and making a mockery of his character, describing his as savage, hostile and evil. It's hard enough for children to grow up in this world. When Indian children watch television, and they watch films, and when they see their race depicted as they are in films, their minds become injured in ways we can never know.

Recently there have been a few faltering steps to correct this situation, but too faltering and too few, so I, as a member in this profession, do not feel that I can as a citizen of the United States accept an award here tonight. I think awards in this country at this time are inappropriate to be received or given until the condition of the American Indian is drastically altered. If we are not our brother's keeper, at least let us not be his executioner.

I would have been here tonight to speak to you directly, but I felt that perhaps I could be of better use if I went to Wounded Knee to help forestall in whatever way I can the establishment of a peace which would be dishonorable as long as the rivers shall run and the grass shall grow.

I would hope that those who are listening would not look upon this as a rude intrusion, but as an earnest effort to focus attention on an issue that might very well determine whether or not this country has the right to say from this point forward we believe in the inalienable rights of all people to remain free and independent on lands that have supported their life beyond living memory.

Thank you for your kindness and your courtesy to Miss Littlefeather. Thank you and good night.

This statement was written by Marlon Brando for delivery at the Academy Awards ceremony where Mr. Brando refused an Oscar. The speaker, who read only a part of it, was Shasheen Littlefeather.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Lessons Not Yet Learned: New Washington Redskins Foundation CEO Under Federal Investigation

Earlier this week, The Washington Redskins announced that in light of the increased criticism regarding their racially offensive team name, they had created a “Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation” intended to “offer genuine opportunities for tribal communities”.  New revelations show that Gary L. Edwards, the recently hired CEO leading the foundation, is currently under federal investigation for “defective contracts” said to have cost the Bureau of Indian Affairs nearly 1 million dollars.

While Team Owner Dan Snyder claims to have visited over 26 tribal reservations in 20 states prior to coming to the conclusion that a foundation was the best way to address protests regarding the team’s name, it’s hard to believe that the takeaway was to create a foundation bearing the same team name. The Washington Post editorial board also weighed in saying as much:
But no matter how much Mr. Snyder’s foundation accomplishes, it cannot make his team’s name any less offensive — or negate the need to change it.
We take Mr. Snyder at his word that he doesn’t see the name as a slur. It has a storied tradition, polls show it retains many supporters, it is not intended to wound. None of that changes this fact: You would not, by any means, call an Original American a “Redskin” to his or her face. Why not? Because it is a slur — a hurtful, demeaning label. Language changes over time. The respectful response is to acknowledge that and move on.
What makes the situation so infuriating is the team’s indignation in the face of hurt feelings and racial stereotyping.  Earlier this year NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell explained that the league was reviewing feedback regarding the team name.  I didn’t find his rationale credible then and I don’t find the reasoning behind bypassing a name change and creating a new “Redskins Foundation” credible now.  Yet that’s what happened.  The team claims that they’re listening to the feedback from audiences and they’re paying attention.  Yet they couldn’t even manage to properly vet the person they put in charge of the foundation?


How the FBI Routinely Breaks the Law and Endangers Lives

If you or one of your close friends were the possible target of a sniper assassination, and if law enforcement knew about it, shouldn’t law enforcement have an obligation to tell you? And if they deliberately didn’t tell you, wouldn’t you be legitimately concerned that your potential assassin may be part of law enforcement?
In November of 2011, I arrived at Tranquility Park in downtown Houston about 15 minutes late for Occupy Houston’s nightly general assembly. I was having trouble finding a parking place when I noticed that the park was bathed in the flashing red and blue lights of the Houston PD's cars surrounding the park, and there were television news trucks adjacent to the park broadcasting live. I thought we were being evicted, and ran to the scene.
Just moments before I arrived, a 21-year-old man named Joshua Anthony Twohig had walked into the park, dressed in a suit and carrying a .40 caliber assault rifle. He pointed his gun at several of my Occupy Houston comrades, fired several shots into the air, and was shot by police before being taken into custody. As someone with a history of mental illness, Twohig was ruled incompetent to stand trial in January of 2012. The incident spooked a lot of people at the camp, many of us wondering if any of us were targets of a larger plot.
In December 2012, documents revealed by a FOIA request from the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund showed that the FBI was investigating the Occupy Wall Street movement – a movement that explicitly operated on principles of nonviolence and direct democracy – for “criminal activity” and “domestic terrorism.” Those documents also revealed the FBI’s knowledge of a November 2011 assassination plot in which leaders of the Occupy Houston movement were targeted. In these public documents the FBI redacted the names of the individuals and/or groups plotting the assassination with high-powered rifles, and never approached anyone at Occupy Houston alerting them that their lives were in danger.

Assembly-Line Injustice

Dozens of tired, bedraggled men line up in shackles to plead guilty en masse. A judge claims his personal best is sentencing 70 people in 30 minutes: an average of twenty-five seconds per person to review the charges, hear his or her plea, and hand down a sentence.

No, this is not Egypt or Russia. It's the United States, in federal courthouses along the Southwest border.

What's driven our courts to adopt such assembly-line justice? Operation Streamline, a "zero tolerance" program that began under Bush and expanded under Obama.

Traditionally, federal authorities handled illegal immigration through the comprehensive enforcement scheme available under civil immigration laws. That enforcement scheme—which has deported about 2 million people over the past five years—already results in significant unfairness. But under Operation Streamline, authorities both process apprehended migrants for deportation and refer them for criminal prosecution for crossing the border.

Last week, the Pew Research Center hinted at the impact of Operation Streamline when it reported that felony convictions for unlawfully reentering the United States accounted for 26% of the federal convictions tracked by the U.S. Sentencing Commission in 2012—a 13-fold increase over two decades ago, when they accounted for just 2% of the total. But as stunning as this number is, it's less than half of the story. There's been an even bigger explosion in misdemeanor convictions for unlawfully entering the country (which are not tracked in the Sentencing Commission database examined by Pew).


White House opens door to new rules to cut methane emissions

The White House on Friday opened the way to cutting emissions of methane from the oil and gas industry, saying it would study the magnitude of leaks of the powerful greenhouse gas.

The announcement seemed designed to please the international community – which is meeting in Yokohama to finalise a blockbuster climate report – as well as environmental groups suing to force the Obama administration to regulate the oil and gas industry.

The new strategy announced by the White House on Friday did not immediately direct the Environmental Protection Agency to begin drafting new climate regulations for the oil and gas industry.

Instead, the White House said the EPA would undertake a series of studies to determine the magnitude and prevalence of methane leaks from fracking sites, compressors, and gas pipelines.

The agency would decide by the autumn of 2014 whether to propose new controls on the industry.

“In the fall, we will determine the best path forward to get reductions,” a White House official told a conference call with reporters.

If the EPA does go ahead and propose new rules, the White House official said the agency would aim to complete the process by the time Obama leaves office.

Methane – the primary component of natural gas – is more than 80 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time frame. Oil and gas sites are the biggest industrial source of methane.


Anti-Indian CERA Doesn’t Like the Law of the Land in United States, or Us, Apparently

The Citizens Equal Rights Alliance (CERA) took its anti-Indian rhetoric to Washington State last spring in a follow-up to the Lummi Nation’s opposition to the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point in northwest Washington.

Millions of tons of coal would ship to Asia per year through the terminal, but its location has been proposed in a setting sacred to the Lummi people.

RELATED: Lummi Nation Officially Opposes Coal Export Terminal in Letter to Army Corps of Engineers

CERA kicked off with Bellingham tea partiers promoting the “Citizens Equal Rights Alliance Educational Conference; Regional Conference Speakers on Water and Property Rights, Federal and Indian Policy” on April 6, 2013 in Bellingham, close to the Lummi Nation.

RELATED: Anti-American Indian Politics, Washington State Style

CERA and its sister, Citizens Equal Rights Foundation (CERF), are the foremost anti-sovereignty, anti-treaty organizations in the U.S. anti-Indian movement. CERA’s website indicates they are active in 15 states and Canada.

The featured speaker was CERA’s former chair, Elaine Willman, author of, "Going to Pieces, the Dismantling of the United States of America." Willman claims to be of direct Cherokee descent.

Willman has held positions in local government in Toppenish, Washington near the Yakama Nation, and is currently director of Community Development & Tribal Affairs for the Village of Hobart, Wisconsin. The Village has been involved in several lawsuits aimed at undermining the sovereignty of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin, according to Chuck Tanner in his April 2013 report, “Take These Tribes Down”: The Anti-Indian Movement Comes to Washington State, for the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights. 

Willman told Bellingham’s KGMI Radio host and tea party activist Kris Halterman the conference would teach local officials and citizens how to take on tribal governments, according to journalist Jay Taber. Taber told Indian Country Today Media Network that Willman characterized tribes as casino bullies who want half the water. Willman told Halterman that the only way to stop the tribes is to strengthen states’ rights and private property rights and to get rid of federal Indian policy.

On a November 3, 2012 KGMI podcast about Native American tribes, Willman said that their special, taxpayer-funded, race-based perks allow them to “confiscate natural resources.” Willman added, “Tribalism is socialism [and] has no place in our country!”


So, the Pope and Obama Walk Into a Slum ...

In the 1990s, I was part of a wave of investment bankers that invaded Argentina, evangelizing the mantra of the unregulated free market, which had made us millions. Free markets had become the religion of politics, and simple economic numbers like gross domestic product, the saints.

Our days were spent lecturing Very Important People, our nights at fancy restaurants with tango dancers to entertain us. During one trip from my five-star hotel, which was in Buenos Aires but looked like Manhattan, my cab got caught in a swarm of banners and megaphones: political protestors from the neighboring slum.

With the taxi stopped, the shacks clustered next to the road were no longer just a dark blur of concrete and reflective tin. They were homes. Sheets operated as doors. Bare bulbs dangled from live wires, illuminating a few choice items discarded by the wealthy and the faces of slight children. A mother of Mary statue sat in a corner.

Slums are carved into the lands of Buenos Aires that others don’t want: directly under an airport’s flight path or huddled next to busy train tracks and highways. They are anathema to most Argentinians. As the local bankers who dared not visit would say, slums are “dangerous places filled with squatters who have no respect for the rule of law”.

It was in these places, in those times and for much of his life, where the auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, became a regular.

Now he’s the pope, and they call him Francis. He has used that larger platform to focus on the ugly side of the free markets, the side he saw all those years in the slums. He has called the free markets [1] “a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power”.

In the United States, since the election of Ronald Reagan some 33 years ago, the bulk of policy has been written primarily for the benefit of the wealthy. Taxes have been made more regressive, labor laws relaxed, markets deregulated. The shift changed this country and the world, profoundly and yet simply, giving more power to those with capital at the expense of those who labor. Voters were sold the idea that growth, no matter how it was generated, would eventually lift all boats.

Until, of course, the financial crisis that began some seven years ago exposed the economic costs behind growth at all cost. The crisis enabled the election to this nation’s highest office a community organizer with Catholic roots [2] who had spent his fair share of time looking at the ugly side of unregulated free markets.

These two men, President Obama and the pope, know what a recovering i-banker like me has learned: that income inequality is one of the most morally corrosive issues facing the world today – “the defining challenge of our time”, as the president says [3]. Except that when they met today for the first time at the Vatican, when the president told the pontifex he was "a great admirer" [4], Francis had the upper hand because of what he knows that Obama and the bankers do not.

Barack Obama is not Pope Francis, and not just because the slums of Buenos Aires are so much worse than the South Side of Chicago. Pope Francis knows, in a visceral way, that the income equality we have in the US and Europe will get much worse if nothing changes. More importantly, he knows that these first-world problems are embryonic relative to those back home in Argentina.


¡Yasuní Depende de Ti!

Spread the word: Support Ecuadorians in signing for an oil-free Yasuní!

The White House Announces “The Climate Change Impacts & Indian Country” Webinar Series

WASHINGTON — Climate change is real. It impacts are world-wide. American Indians and Alaska Native feel the impact in Indian country.

In November 2013 President Barack Obama established the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience through an Executive Order.

The White House Office of Public Engagement and Council on Environmental Quality, in conjunction with the U.S. Departments of Energy, Agriculture, the Interior, Health and Human Services (DHS), Housing and Urban Development, and Transportation; the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is pleased to announce a webinar series entitled “The Climate Change Impacts and Indian Country.”

This webinar series will focus on topics and issues related to President Obama’s Executive Order.

The Task Force is charged by the President with providing recommendations on “removing barriers to resilient investments, modernizing federal grant and loan programs to better support local efforts, and developing the information and tools they need to prepare, among other measures.”



All of the webinars will be held from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Mountain time. There is no charge to participate in the webinars, but registration is required.

Disaster Response and Recovery Webinar 
April 3, 2014 1:00PM to 2:30PM EDT

Built Systems and Other Infrastructure Webinar 
April 10, 2014 1:00PM to 2:30PM EDT

Natural Resources and Agriculture Webinar 
April 24, 2014 1:00PM to 2:30PM EDT

Communities: Human Health and Community Development Webinar
May 1, 2014 1:00PM to 2:30PM EDT

Friday, March 28, 2014

U.S. Human Rights Advocates Respond to U.N. Human Rights Committee’s Report on US ICCPR Review

U.S. Human Rights Advocates Respond to U.N.
Human Rights Committee’s Report on US ICCPR Review
Concluding Observations come two weeks after the Committee’s review of the
United States’ human rights record in Geneva
For Immediate Release
March 27, 2014
Atlanta, GA – Today U.S. human rights advocates are responding to the newly-released list of concluding observations by the United Nations Human Rights Committee, following its review of the United States’ human rights record on March 13 and 14.
The review scrutinized the United States failure to comply with its legal obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a treaty the US ratified in 1992. The primary focus of the review was on a series of questions put together by the Committee and informed largely by members of the US Human Rights Network, which has been advocating for full implementation of the treaty at the federal, state and local levels.
“We welcome the UN Human Rights Committee's recommendation that the US ensure effective remedies for violations under the ICCPR and to take steps to bring U.S. domestic law in line with its human rights obligations,” said Ejim Dike, Executive Director of the US Human Rights Network (USHRN). “We urge the Administration to follow up on the recommendations by the Committee which make clear that the US has significant work to do to fully comply with its human rights obligations in a broad range of issues including racial discrimination in the criminal justice system, gun violence, excessive use of force by law enforcement in communities of color and on the border, access to healthcare for immigrants, criminalization of the homeless, and forced psychiatric treatment.”
The USHRN-led ICCPR Task Force served as lead coordinator of the U.S. delegation to Geneva, which included human and civil rights organizations, activists, and everyday citizens who have suffered -- or are presently suffering – from the devastating effects of unchecked human rights abuses. Their core mission was to underscore the United States’ failure to create an infrastructure for monitoring, tracking, and addressing human rights violations in an urgent and efficient manner, and to seek meaningful reforms and solutions to address ICCPR violations at the local, state and national level.
While certain key issues were not covered in the concluding observations, the list is overall a strong reflection of the important work being done by human rights defenders across the country, including those who sent in reports in advance of the ICCPR review to inform the committee of critical rights violations across the country.
"The committee’s recommendations highlight the gaps between U.S. human rights obligations and current laws and practices,” Said Jamil Dakwar, Director of the ACLU’s Human Rights Program and Co-Chair of the ICCPR Task Force. “The Committee rightly called out the United States for setting dangerous examples from counterterrorism operations to an unfair criminal justice system to inhumane treatment of migrants. President Obama now has an opportunity to reverse course and reshape his human rights legacy by taking concrete actions like declassifying the Senate report on CIA torture, and ending dragnet surveillance and unlawful targeted killings."
Notably the U.N.’s observations includes the human rights implications of gun violence, which many members of the U.S. civil society delegation to Geneva were advocating for. The Human Rights Committee has identified four issues, including gun violence, to be followed up on within a year to evaluate any steps taken by the federal government to implement policy changes that would address these issues.
The Dream Defenders and the people of Florida and the U.S. are welcoming of the statements and support of the committee members,” said Ahmad Abuznaid, Legal and Policy Director for Dream Defenders. “We are hopeful that our own officials in Florida and the U.S. will follow the lead and take action on this life or death issue."
For more information about the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) visit here.
The US Human Rights Network (USHRN) is a national network of organizations and individuals working to strengthen a human rights movement and culture within the United States led by the people most directly impacted by human rights violations. It is a network of over 250 organizational members that is working to popularize human rights in communities across the United States in order to secure dignity and justice for all.
Ejim Dike      
Executive Director
Description: USHRN Logo NEW
250 Georgia Avenue, Suite 330
Atlanta, GA 30312
office - (404) 588-9761
Cell: 917-861-7540
Fax - (404) 588-9763         

Rise of Vermont's Fracked Gas Battle: Communities Organize Against Pipeline Plans

Nate and Jane Palmer's farm sits in a clay plain basin adjacent to one of the many wetlands in Monkton, a rural Vermont community known for, among other things, its annual salamander migrations and amphibian road crossings. In addition to raising animals and growing crops for small-scale biofuel experiments, the couple runs Palmer's Garage, a repair shop and community fixture in nearby North Ferrisburgh.

Jane Palmer recalls the controversy when Vermont Gas first announced its intention to construct a gas pipeline down the western side of the state, a route which would require a right-of-way through the center of Monkton. "We thought it was a dumb idea that would undermine alternative energy efforts," she says.

But it wasn't until a neighbor stopped by in late January 2013 with maps showing the pipeline running through their fields and 150 feet from their house that the Palmers began to really pay attention. Shortly thereafter, an agent from the gas company called the house, seeking permission to survey their land for the pipeline. The Palmers refused, stating they had no intention of allowing a gas pipeline to be built across their land. Nate notes that, "we essentially flipped them the bird from the beginning."

With their gesture, the Palmers joined a growing list of landowners and community members opposed to the largest expansion of Vermont's fossil fuel infrastructure in decades. If built, the proposed Addison-Rutland Natural Gas Project would extend Vermont's gas pipeline grid south into Addison and Rutland counties, with the possibility of further expansions linking up with the US pipeline network in the Albany, New York area.