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Showing posts from October, 2007

A Formal Summons to World States by Indigenous First Nations and Peoples

From Bolivia Rising : From the heart of South America, on this 12th day of October, 2007, the delegates of the indigenous first nations and peoples of the world, meeting in the World Encounter “For the Historic Victory of the Indigenous Peoples of the World”, to celebrate the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples , hereby declare: That, after 515 years of oppression and domination, here we stand; they have been unable to eliminate us. We have confronted and resisted the policies of ethnocide, genocide, colonization, destruction and plunder. The imposition of such economic systems as capitalism, characterized by interventionism, wars and socio-environmental disasters, a system that continues to threaten our ways of life as peoples. ... That a new era is beginning, promoted by the original indigenous peoples, and bringing again times of change, times of Pachakuti , in the times of the culmination of the Quinto Sol . ... Accordingly, the Indigenous

A Worthy Cause

Winter Rabbit , who writes beautifully around the blogs about Native American issues, has asked us to come together to help a very worthy cause. Its the Pretty Bird Woman House on the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota. PBWH is a shelter that provides safe refuge for women who are victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. It is the only such shelter on the Standing Rock Reservation. Unfortunately, they have been the victim of vandalism to the point that the house was uninhabitable and they've had to divert women needing safety to shelters on other reservations. They are trying to raise $70,000 to purchase a new building and you can help by making whatever large or small donation you can here . Surely we can help our sisters do this!! Amnesty International has highlighted the need to help this program as part of their campaign to "Stop Violence Against Women." Artwork from Tigana .

A Dream of Trees

I think its time for some poetry. So here's one of my favorites from Mary Oliver: There is a thing in me that dreamed of trees, A quite house, some green and modest acres A little way from every troubling town, A little way from factories, schools, laments. I would have time, I thought, and time to spare, With only streams and birds for company, To build out of my life a few wild stanzas. And then it came to me, that so was death, A little way away from everywhere. There is a thing in me still dreams of trees. But let it go. Homesick for moderation, Half the world's artists shrink or fall away. If any find solution, let him tell it. Meanwhile I bend my heart toward lamentation Where, as the times implore our true involvement, The blades of every crisis point the way. I would it were not so, but so it is. Who ever made music of a mild day? Image titled "Lamentation and Resolution" from Larren Art .

The Pachakuti Era

The Wiphala are the flags of the Andean First Nation's people. Each variation represents a different territory, or Suyu. I found this description on the website The Aboriginal Andean Nations Council, CANO (or Consejo Andino de Naciones Originarias) : Each color owns a meaning. The Wiphala is not only a flag, but also the representation of the Lunar-Solar calendar of the Andean First Nations. The Wiphala, present in every community event and ceremony, identifies the communitarian system of the Andes, based on equality, equity, harmony , solidarity and reciprocity. Moreover, it is a symbol of the First Nations’ resistance, its use having been illegalized by the Republics, but nowadays it is floating in the wind like never before in the Andean First Nations Territory. It is another manifestation of the Pachakuti Era, the return to the Earth without evil. So, the next time you see a news story about something going on in the Andean countries of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Agentina, Chile,

Blog Voices This Week 10/27/07

I thought I'd do a second installment about news from around some of the smaller blogs - with a special focus on those by people of color. I have to say that the story that gripped me the most is one from The Latin Americanist that I've already blogged about here . That's the one about Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa telling the US that they can keep their military base in Ecuador if he can build one in Miami. Gotta love a guy that can not only reframe the whole "US Empire" thing, but also do it snarkalishously. Kyle over at Citizen Orange reflects on the defeat of the Dream Act and the courageous young people who worked so hard on it. Amidst all of the stories of justice denied, it was great to learn that the Georgia Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Genarlow Wilson , a young man who had been convicted of receiving a consenting "blow job." Speaking of justice denied, Nezua tells us about Abdul Muneem Patel , a 17 year old who was sente

Rest in Peace Paul and Sheila

I still remember the day five years ago today. I was in our lunch room at work when a co-worker called to say that there had been a plane accident involving Paul Wellstone. I ran into my office and turned on the radio. It didn't take long to hear that both Paul and Sheila were gone. I cried the rest of the afternoon and for the first time I understood how people felt when Kennedy was assasinated. The only difference was that, like so many Minnesotans, I had the opportunity to meet Paul and Sheila. Back in the early 90's, after he had been elected to the Senate, Sheila visited with me for the better part of a Saturday, learning about the non-profit I work for. And then Paul joined us at the end of the day. Shortly before that, Paul had lost a lot of friends in the Senate when he forced a roll call vote on a pay raise for Senators. Paul had opposed the raise and wanted our elected representatives to have to go on record with their support. Paul and Sheila set the money from the r

Lessons from Correa

I have become convinced that if we want to find courageous leadership these days, we might want to look south. I'm hoping to write a piece about Evo Morales, the current President of Bolivia, when I have a little more time to put it together. But today, I found a wonderful story over at The Latin Americanist. It seems that the President of Ecuador, Raphael Correa, said that he is willing to continue allowing a US military base in his country if we allow him to establish one in Miami. Here's some bits on the story from Reuters : Ecuador's leftist President Rafael Correa said Washington must let him open a military base in Miami if the United States wants to keep using an air base on Ecuador's Pacific coast. Correa has refused to renew Washington's lease on the Manta air base, set to expire in 2009. U.S. officials say it is vital for counter-narcotics surveillance operations on Pacific drug-running routes. "We'll renew the base on one condition: that they le

Someone notify Hallmark

I wonder if anyone notified Hallmark that this is Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week . Seems like the kind of thing they could start a whole new product line around. I suppose that since, to a great part of the world, the other 51 weeks of the year are officially "Imperial US Corprotocracy Week" (no awareness campaign needed), we can give them this one chance to scare us all into oblivion. James, over at Mahatma X Files , has the scoop on how Mr. Horowitz's latest "Klan rallies on Quaaludes" didn't go so well for him. Kinda warms the cockles of your heart that maybe this current generation of students is starting to wake up and smell the true roots of fascism.

Music memories

Years ago a friend and I went to hear Willie Nelson perform at the state fair. I'll never forget all of us in the audience kicking back, looking up at the stars and listening to Willie sing this song. I can still feel that moment when I hear it. I think another reason this song moves me is that it speaks to past regrets and loves left unspoken. Sort of a universal thing for us humans I expect...all the ways we wish we had remembered to slow down and speak from the heart.

On Wars and Borders

I hate filling out forms, especially the ones that limit me to checking off boxes for categories I don’t even identity with. Place of birth? Germany. But I’m not German. Ethnicity? I’m Vietnamese, but I’ve never been to Vietnam. However, these forms never ask me where I was raised or educated. I was born in Germany, my parents are Vietnamese, but I have been American raised and educated for the past 18 years. ... On application forms when I come across the question that asks for my citizenship, I rebelliously mark “other” and write in “the world.” These are the words of Tam Tran (far right in the picture above from USA Today ) as she spoke of her situation in Congress and testified on behalf of the Dream Act. Tam Tran's family fled Vietnam after her father spent time in a "re-education camp" due to his anti-comunist activities. They eventually lived in Germany, where Tam and her brother were born, and came to the US when she was 6 years old. The family applied for asylum

Blessed Unrest

I find this video amazingly hopeful and want to spread the good word. The speaker, Paul Hawken, is author of the book Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw it Coming. I'd probably buy the book for the title and cover alone: His reference to the burgeoning power of indigenous people all over the world is something that resonates in my soul. As Arundhati Roy said in the quote I posted a week ago : But on a quiet day if I listen very carefully I can hear her breathing. UPDATE: From Warrior Publications Eagle and the Condor: a prophecy that when the eagle & condor meet it will signal a re-awakening of Indigenous Resistance. On October 11-14, 2007 more than 500 delegates from indigenous nations across the Americas gathered in Vicam Pueblo in Rio Yaqui, Mexico, at the Gathering of Indigenous Peoples of América. To see pictures of the gathering, click here . UPDATE II: Check out the work of the Pachamama Alliance. What started out

Blog Voices This Week

Over at Latino Politico (Man Eegee's blog) a few years ago Nanette started a tradition of a Sunday Blog Tour that James now carries on when he has the time. I thought it might be fun to start that tradition here and see how it goes. I'll try it this morning and if I have time on subsequent weekends, I might make it a regular effort. There is lots of amazing writing going on at smaller blogs, especially those addressing international issues and those focused on specific communities of color. So, lets start out the tour with a look at a great piece at Latino Politico about the news that the materials being used to build the Great Wall of Amercia were actually made in China. Man Eegee gives us the "low down" on how this whole fiasco is wrecking havoc, not only on the human beings in the area, but on ancestral graves and the environment. Nezua, over at "The Unapologetic Mexican" tells us more about the growing prison/industrial complex and a march that w

Balancing Outrage

Isn't the title a bit of an oxymoron? I think so. But if that's true, then we've just spent the last 6 years trying to find a way to live out an oxymoron. I wonder if others feel that way. Here's a couple of things that kicked off my outrage meter today, but you could probably choose any day in the last 6 years and find multiple events on each one that would serve the purpose. First of all, there is the general degradation of our personhood and dialogue that happens when our tv "pundits" are engaged in calling a presidential candidate a Vaginal-American . And no, I'm not a "Hillary-supporter." But that's not the point. This is an outrage to ALL women. And secondly, there was the "man-who-would-be-king" smirking about World War III as if it was a joke on all of us. I know we're all used to this by now, but isn't that part of the problem? We've been hearing this kind of idiocy for 6 years now and, for our own emotional


To return to harmony...we must realign our gestures into those of dancers. We must become beings who do not wish to control life, but only to listen to its music, and dance it. from The Great Cosmic Mother by Monica Sjoo and Barbara Mor The Wuli Masters know that science and religion are only dances, and that those who follow them are dancers. The dancers may claim to follow "truth" or seek "reality," but the Wuli Masters know better. They know that the true love of all dancers is dancing. from The Dancing Wuli Masters: An Overview of the New Physics by Gary Zukav

Iraqi "Withdrawal" Plan

A recent UN report (click on "Statistics on Displaced Iraqis Around the World, September 2007) tells of the effects our "shock and awful" occupation has had on the surviving people of the country. An estimated 60,000 Iraqis are being forced to leave their homes every month by continuing violence. As of September 2007, there were believed to be well over 4 million displaced Iraqis around the world, including some 2.2 million inside Iraq and a similar number in neighbouring countries (in particular Syria and Jordan) and some 200,000 further afield. Around one million were displaced prior to 2003. The ability of neighbouring states to handle such larger numbers is close to breaking point. In recent months visa restrictions have been considered which, if implemented, will result in Iraqis having greater difficulty finding a safe haven. UNHCR’s April 2007 Conference on Iraqi displacement focused attention on the huge humanitarian crisis developing in the region. Over the pas


A sculpture in Derwent Water, Lake District, England. A safe place for the children.

The Children of Lead

In honor of Blog Action Day and in keeping with my theme about Peru over the last couple of days, I bring you a short documentary about the situation of the people of La Oroya, Peru. Due to the copper smelting plant owned by Mr. Ira Rennert (the billionaire who also owns Hummer), the town, populated by 35,000 people, was identified in 2006 as one of the ten most polluted places in the world. For more on this situation, visit Intercontinental Cry.

Comisión de la Verdad y Reconciliación

The significance of this information to me will be more apparent if you read the diary just below titled Faces from my childhood . In June 2001 Peru's President Alejandro Toledo established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to explore the most violent conflict in the history of Peru. From 1980 to 1995 approximately 69,280 Peruvians were killed in a war between government forces and the communist rebels known as Shining Path . In its final report the CVR points at Shining Path as the major perpetrator of human rights violations (torture, kidnapping, assassinations), with the Armed Forces in second place and Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement in third. The CVR also criticized the performance of the Catholic Church, especially Archbishop of Ayacucho Juan Luis Cipriani, of the Opus Dei. Here is a quote about the Commission's work from its Chair, Salomon Lerner Febres: We are convinced that a future of peace and democracy is possible and it is in our hands to make it come

Faces from my childhood

When my mother was in the hospital giving birth to me, my father was in the jungles of Peru, in the province of Huanuco, setting up a post from which to clear the rain forest, build roads, establish cattle ranches and evangelize the natives. When I was just a couple of months old, my mother, eighteen month old sister, and I joined him. I lived there the first few years of my life and then we moved to Lima, where we stayed until I was 7. Like most people, I have very few actual memories of the first few years of my life. And its hard to distinguish what I do remember from the 8mm home movies that were made of us to send back to my grandparents in the US. I think it was pretty rough going for my mother and an attempt by my father to prove himself worthy to his boss, my grandfather. As an adult, I've been so ashamed of this family history, that I've never wanted to talk to my father about what he was doing. I just wanted to put it in the past and move on. This last week I've d

I can hear her breathing

I just watched a speech by Arundhati Roy titled Come September . Its over 44 minutes long so I don't want to embed the video, but if you haven't already heard it, I'd invite you to follow the link and watch it. She is speaking in September 2002 and begins by aligning herself with anti-nationalism: Flags are bits of colored cloth that governments use first to shrink-wrap people's brains and then as ceremonial shrouds to bury the dead. Roy pays homage to the grief the US is experiencing on the anniversary of 9/11. And then she sadly and kindly says to all of us "welcome to the world" by recounting past Septembers and the griefs we so conveniently forget. She ends her speech with words I have heard quoted before, but still bring tears of hope to me. I'll write them in the form of poetry, because that's how I hear them: The time has come the world has said. Perhaps things will become worse and then better. Perhaps there is a small god up in heaven readying

Quote for the day 10/12/07

I just saw a video of Al Gore speaking today about receiving the Noble Peace Prize (what great news!!). He quoted an African proverb that I had never heard before and I wanted to note it. If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. And today, in honor of this great moment, this one's for you Al:

Comedians as My Link to Sanity

I wonder if you're like me and think we might be living in some kind of crazy alternative universe where the inmates have taken over the asylum. And perhaps that's why the only people who seem to be making sense these days are our comedians. I mean really, have you watched one of the so-called morning "news shows" lately? You don't have to take a digital trip over to the likes of Malkin or Drudge or Fox News to feel like your head is spinning with the crazies. Because, while the current occupation in Iraq continues and Cheney has his sites set on Iran, while the best Dems can do on healthcare reform excludes even legal immigrant children from coverage, while the Dem-contolled congress gets ready to pass yet another bill approving spying on US citizens, while global warming threatens to destroy the planet, while the Supreme Court continues to uphold the concept of executive priviledge, while New Orleans residents contine to either suffer at home or remain in the d

Quote of the day 10/09/07

We are molded as much by the histories we stifle as by the myths we create to exalt ourselves. Those who ignore the truth about their past are condemned to replicate, over and over, their crimes. The devastation in Iraq is the legacy of lessons unlearned, from the genocide of Native Americans, to slavery, to the Mexican war, to the invasion of Cuba and the Philippines, to Vietnam. America's brutal cycle of imperial invasion and occupation is as enduring as the cultivated illusion of its goodness. And the first step toward breaking this cycle and exposing this illusion is facing our history and ourselves. The Great Forgetting by Eunice Wong h/t to Nezua

Smartypants meets the real world

Every once in a while I get blasted with the reality that I am, at heart, naive and entirely too trusting of people. Today is one of those days. I'm not bragging about being trusting, it has been a real problem for me on more than one occassion. I expect that I've had the luxury of trust in that while growing up it was clear that I had all of the priviledges associated with whiteness and money. Every day of my young life, it looked to me like I could expect that the world was a just and honest place. Now, as I've grown up, I've learned that isn't true - but not usually in a real personal sense. So I continue to approach people thinking the best of them until I'm proven to be wrong. I won't go into the gorry details, but today I learned that some people are not who I thought they were. It looks like their deception was calculated and not merely a misunderstanding. Lots of people are used to this kind of thing. I'm not. So it tends to rock my world a bit

The Economics of Growth

I am not an economist, nor do I play one on the blogosphere. But sometimes it takes someone from the outside to see through the groupthink that has developed in the bubble. So here's my take on the end of empire: If global warming doesn't beat everything else to the punch in bringing down the empire(and the fact that it was 90 degrees in Minnesota in early October yesterday sure rings a bell that something's on the way), then the limits of perpetual growth certainly will. Our capitalistic system is all built on the concept that growth can be sustained infinitely - and that's a lie from the get-go. At home in the US, that means that the corprotocracy has to continue to sell us all on the idea that consumerism is god. We need to keep buying more and more in order for the "growth" model on which our whole economic system is based to succeed. If we ever say "enough" the whole thing comes crashing down. And abroad, this means that our military/industrial

John Mellencamp on Jena

Apparently John Mellencamp, a white man from Indiana, lives in Jena too. Here's what John says about the song on his web site: I am not a journalist, I am a songwriter and in the spirit and tradition of the minstrel, I am telling a story in this song. The story is not strictly speaking, about the town of Jena or this specific incident but of racism in America. Sounds like Jena Mayor Murray R. McMillin is more upset about this video than he is about the idea of nooses in a "white" tree. 73rd virgin has the whole story over at Docudharma. Check it out.

My friend Pat

This morning I've been thinking about my friend Pat. A couple of years ago, she died of lung cancer. And I miss her. Pat was a member of a book group I've been a part of for the last 8 years. She was the ultimate hostess and nurturer, always wanting to have us meet at her house for our annual "holiday" gala where she would treat us to a splendid table of food all decorated in the spirit of the season. We have a tradition of exchanging small gifts for the season, and Pat's were usually homeade. There would be baskets full of "goodies" she made, or mittens she had sewn, or flannel vests she had designed...with special attention to the uniqueness of each of us. Pat was also an amazing listener. What I will always remember about her is that she would be listening intently as I was talking about something important to me. When I took a moment to pause, she'd say, "Tell me more about that." Always drawing you in and digging deeper into your essen

What happened to Ciara Durkin?

Here is a story that needs more attention. From The Patriot Ledger : Ciara Durkin was home on leave last month and expressed a concern to her family in Quincy: If something happens to me in Afghanistan, don’t let it go without an investigation. Durkin, 30, a specialist with a Massachusetts National Guard finance battalion, was found dead last week near a church at the Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. She had been shot once in the head, the Army says. Fiona Canavan, Durkin’s older sister, said today that when her sister was home three weeks ago, she told family members that she had come across some things that concerned her and had raised objections to others at the base. ‘‘She was in the finance unit and she said, ‘I discovered some things I don’t like and I made some enemies because of it.’ Then she said, in her light-hearted way, ‘If anything happens to me, you guys make sure it gets investigated,’’’ Canavan said. ‘‘But at the time we thought it was said more as a joke.’’ The family d

Words Matter

Here are some words that I'm focusing on alot lately and would like to hear more often: connect unite bond join tie associate relate alliance union partnership link attachment interact cooperate coalition negotiate conversation collaborate traverse dialogue discuss exchange Get my drift? Here's Daniel Beaty taking on a few of these words. Now that's what I'm talkin about!!

Rest in Peace

Alice Walker had to defend herself from fierce attacks after she wrote "The Color Purple." Mostly these came from folks who didn't like the fact that she was writing about a black man (she just called him "Mr.") abusing a black woman. I think it probably was difficult work to do, since it would very likely be used as fuel for racism. But she explained, in her book of essays, "Living by the Word" that she carefully portrayed Mr.'s father as "light skinned" in both the book and the movie. Her point was that Mr.'s father was the son of a slave and a slave owner - a son of both the oppressed and the oppressor. All of this came from deep in Alice's soul where she battled for years to accept her own white great-great-grandfather, who had raped a girl of 11 and she bore him a son, her great grandfather. Here are Alice's words in the essay: We are the African and the trader. We are the Indian and the settler. We are the slaver and

The most beautiful blog post I've ever seen

Nezua over at The Unapologetic Mexican has an amazing diary titled One More Moment Before We Bomb that is full of amazing photos of people and places in Iran. I posted a couple of examples below to whet your appetite. But PLEASE click the link and go look at the whole thing. I promise you will be glad you did. Its just a little dose of reality to counteract the mindnumbing noise we are treated to daily. And to top this off, I think the Iranian people must have some wicked sense of humor and spunk. How else would they have managed to respond to the demonization of their country and their leader by returning our favor and inviting GWB to speak at Ferdowsi University in Mashhad, Iran? Think he'll accept the invitation? Nah, neither do I. UPDATE: Along these same lines, KrisC has a beautiful diary over at Docudharma titled Land of Golden Temples and Pagodas that provides us with a pictoral view of some of the Buddhist temples in Myanmar.

Join the Movement

Click the picture and engage!!

Meanwhile, back at the war

While our media and politicians are obsessed with MovenOn, Rush and BillO, Iraqis say Basra quieter after British troop pullout : Residents of Iraq's southern city of Basra have begun strolling riverfront streets again after four years of fear, their city much quieter since British troops withdrew from the grand Saddam Hussein-era Basra Palace. Political assassinations and sectarian violence continue, some city officials say, but on a much smaller scale than at any time since British troops moved into the city after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. Mortar rounds, rockets and small arms fire crashed almost daily into the palace, making life hazardous for British and Iraqis alike in Iraq's second-largest city. To many Basrans the withdrawal of the British a month ago removed a proven target. "The situation these days is better. We were living in hell ... the area is calm since their withdrawal," said housewife Khairiya Salman, who lives near the palace. Civil servant Wi

Just because

Just because I love this song: I don't know exactly what it is about this song, but it stirs something deep inside. Maybe someday if someone figures out what the hell they're talking about I'll understand its draw. There are whole message boards I've seen dedicated to trying to unravel the meaning of this song. It was released in the summer of 1967, so I think that I associate the song with a time in my life when I was too young to intellectually know what was going on in the world around me, but I felt the tension to my bones. That's the funny thing about music, tastes, smells. They can completely bypass our logical thinking and take us back immediately and emotionally to a place and time that may have receeded from memory. Perhaps this is part of their power.

Quote for the day

Years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free." Euguene V. Debs as he was being sentenced for violating the Espionage Act of 1917 for speaking out against US involvement in World War I by saying things like this: Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder...And that is war in a nutshell. The master class has always declared wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. UPDATE: I'd just like to add that if you visit the wiki article linked above at Mr. Debs' name, you'll find that his conviction for exercising his so-called right to free speech was upheld by the Supreme Court. Just goes to show that this country has a long history of NOT walking our talk.