Saturday, July 30, 2011

Unexpected torrential tears...

if what you're reading here grips you, holds you, fascinates you, provokes you, emboldens you, pushes you, galvanizes you, discomfits you, tickles you, enrages you so much that you find yourself returning again and again...then link me.

I came to this article re: the true significance of Jack Layton's NDP via mostly water...

i appreciated this author's clarity...

Canada’s NDP leader forced to temporarily step down:

Jack Layton’s right-wing record

By Richard Dufour
30 July 2011

Jack Layton announced earlier this week that he will temporarily step down as head of Canada's trade-union supported New Democratic Party in order to undergo cancer treatment. After a successful battle against prostrate cancer last year, Layton is facing a second, unidentified, form of the disease that has left him in a visibly diminished state, fuelling speculation that he may not resume his functions as Leader of the Official Opposition when Parliament begins its next session in mid-September.

Press commentary has focused on Layton's personal charisma which the press pundits claim set him apart from other politicians and played a key role in the NDP's more than 10 percentage-point increase in its share of the vote in the May 2 election. The main point of Layton's affability, however, is to hide the reactionary nature of his politics. He has been instrumental in the transformation of the federal NDP from a party of parliamentary protest into a respectable right-wing bourgeois party that, if called on to assume government responsibilities in Ottawa, would not hesitate to impose the full weight of the capitalist crisis on the backs of the Canadian working class.

As an NDP “strategist” recently put it, Layton has been able to “change the culture of the NDP from one that's not just about being the [country’s] conscience, but that wants to actually win.”

In the press statement he read to announce his leave of absence, Layton stressed that the aim of Canada’s social-democrats is to “replace the Conservative government a few short years from now” by convincing the ruling class that the NDP is ready to fill the role, hitherto played by Liberals, as its “left” party of government.

Since taking over as NDP leader in 2003, Layton has eagerly pursued an alliance with the big business Liberals, Canada's “natural governing party” during the twentieth century.

In 2004, the NDP propped up a minority Liberal government led by Paul Martin, who as Finance Minister in the Chretien Liberal government of the mid 1990s had presided over the deepest social spending cuts in Canadian history. Four years later, in December 2008, Layton signed a formal agreement to enter into a Liberal-led coalition government, agreeing to drop the NDP's bogus calls for a withdrawal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan and to implement the Liberal-Conservative plan to reduce corporate taxes by more than $50 billion over five years. And at last month’s federal NDP convention, the party leadership mobilized to defeat a resolution opposing a merger or election pact with the Liberals, saying it needs to have “free hands.”

In his press statement, Layton made clear that any government joined or led by the NDP would continue and deepen the ruling class assault on social programs, insisting that “We CAN have a fiscally responsible government.” As the right-wing National Post observed, “Mr Layton has moved the party away from proposals for nationalizing industries, high taxes on the rich or other socialist ideas.”

Layton's other main pledge, in what some commentators have termed his “political testament,” was the affirmation that “We CAN be a force for peace in the world.” The National Post, the most rabid supporter of Canadian militarism, was so taken by Layton’s pledge that it made it part of the headline of the main Post article on Layton’s temporary retirement. In an accompanying article, it noted that Layton has led his party into “becoming a hearty supporter of the military, although somewhat unclear on what missions it should be used for.”

The NDP supported Canada's counter-insurgency intervention in Afghanistan for many years, providing a cover for the attempt by US imperialism, along with its NATO allies such as Canada, to take control of a strategically-located country in the resource-rich region of Central Asia. Only after anti-war sentiment became widespread, and the prospects of a military defeat of the forces resisting foreign occupation grew dimmer, did the NDP issue a call for a gradual and orderly withdrawal of Canadian troops. The Afghan mission, the NDP argued, was draining the resources of the Canadian military and preventing its deployment in other parts of the world.

More recently, in its first major vote as the Official Opposition, the NDP voted to extend Canada's participation in the war against Libya that was initiated by former colonial powers France and Britain with the backing of Washington. The war's aim is to install a regime more pliant to imperialism in a country that is not only a major oil producer but also borders the two North African countries shaken by revolutionary upheavals at the beginning of the year, Tunisia and Egypt. Endorsing the lie that the Libyan war is about protecting civilians, the NDP has emerged once again as a political accomplice in an imperialist war of aggression.

The NDP has never been a party that upholds the independent interests of the working class. Rather it has served as the political voice of privileged layers of the middle class, above all, the trade union bureaucracy. Like social-democratic parties the world over, the NDP has shifted far to the right over the past quarter century shredding even its traditional milquetoast reformist program and unabashedly imposing, when in office in various provincial capitals, capitalist austerity.

Significantly Nycole Turmer, former national president of the Public Sector Alliance of Canada, the largest federal employee union, has been chosen as interim leader of the NDP on Layton's recommendation. The close alliance between the Canadian social-democrats and the treacherous union bureaucracy was on full display last month when the NDP abruptly ended a filibuster campaign to delay passage of the Conservative government’s bill criminalizing job action by 50,000 postal workers and imposing sweeping contract concessions on them.

Just as the unions are playing a direct role in imposing wage and job cuts on workers in the workplace, so the NDP wants to become the party that implements the class war agenda of big business on the political scene.

This is taking place in a definite political context. Despite having won a majority government with the support of barely one out of every four Canadian voters, the Conservatives are pushing forward with an agenda of imperialist war and escalating assault on worker and democratic rights, bringing class tensions in the country to the point of explosion. The Liberals, long the ruling class’ traditional governing party, were routed in the last election and now hold barely 30 seats in the House of Commons. Should the Conservative government falter in the face of mass popular opposition, the Canadian ruling elite will have need of an alternative political instrument so as to press forward with its program of dismantling public and social services, criminalizing dissent, and using the Canadian Armed Forces to assert its predatory interests on the world stage.

This is the significance of a recent editorial by the Globe and Mail, the mouthpiece of Canada's financial elite, hailing Layton's “long and patient struggle” to replace the Liberals as “the centre-left alternative to the Conservatives.” As the 2008 coalition discussions made clear, any government in which the NDP comes to play a major role will be a bourgeois government fully committed to the defence of big business interests at the expense of working people.

In opposition to the NDP and its big business masters, the working class must build its own political party to advance its own, socialist, alternative: the complete reorganization of economic life to make meeting the social needs of the great majority, not the profit interests of the few, its animating principle.

This author also recommends:

The criminalization of the Canadian postal strike and the role of the unions and NDP
[1 July 2011]

Canada's NDP stampedes to the right
[24 June 2011]

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Amplifying the voices of CA prisoners on hunger strike...

Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity

Sign the Online Petition NOW!

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I'm sure some will find the comparison to be a bit inflammatory...

Behind Norway’s Kristallnacht
by Eric Walberg; July 28th, 2011 - Dissident Voice

The massacre in peaceful Oslo was a replay of this earlier horror in reverse – no longer the Jews as victims but as the inspiration of terror against non-Jews – as Israel extends its wars not only to Greek ports and French airports but to Norwegian children’s camps, complete with rabbinical blessings for the murderers, notes Eric Walberg

Norway is in a state of total shock after the 22 July car bombing in Oslo killing seven, followed by the shooting spree at a Labour Party youth camp on Utoya Island killing 69. This terrorist operation, the worst massacre in Norway’s recent history, represents a greater loss proportional to its five million people than 9/11 did to the US. Speaking of which, an initial report in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Guardian, et al attributed the attack to Islamists (resentful of Norway’s democracy, etc), “a terror group, Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami, or the Helpers of the Global Jihad”.

This was according to Dr William McCants, a “terrorism analyst at CNA, a research institute that studies terrorism”, author of a terrorist watchdog blog CNA is too obscure to be found on the web, and expert McCants quickly retracted his claim. The NYT later admitted Global Jihad may not even exist (let alone CNA), but who reads the fine print in subsequent editions or checks if various “organisations” are actually fronts for something much more sinister, as long as it’s a question of “Islamists”?

Perhaps CNA is a typo, for McCants’s feint is a classic CIA media move targeting the current “enemy”, which worked in spades, dominating the world’s mainstream media coverage of the massacre. When exposed, McCants launched a new anti-Muslim angle immediately, noting that the perpetrator, Anders Behring Breivik, admires Al-Qaeda: “Just like Jihadi warriors are the plum tree of the Ummah, we will be the plum tree for Europe and for Christianity,” Breivik apparently wrote. That the world has the CIA and the McCants to thank for the creation and promotion of Al-Qaeda in the first place does not faze the zealous professor of terrorism. Even when Al-Qaeda is not guilty, it is still guilty.

Breivik is a self-styled Christian Zionist and Freemason, a “martyr” and “resistance fighter” in a “civil war” against the “Marxist-Islamist alliance” taking over Europe, according to his 1,500 page screed signed Knights Templar Europe, available on the internet.

He described members of Norway’s Labour Party as “traitors” like the Norwegian collaborators in WWII because of their alleged support of “multiculturalism and Islamisation” and criticism of Israel, in line with Harvard lawyer Alan Dershowitz’s recent charges against the “Quisling” Norwegian government. Breivik advocates “terror” attacks on mosques, especially during Muslim religious holidays, intended to “trigger Muslim riots” and allowing a right-wing “coup”. The holy month of Ramadan begins 1 August.

Breivik epitomises the new Euro right, which is both fanatically pro-Israel and anti-Muslim. Breivik even approves of a Caliphate for Muslims, as long as it is in the Middle East. This is similar to Hitler’s desire to push Jews out of Europe into their own Jewish state in Palestine, as Zionist collaboration with the Nazis in the 1930–40s makes clear. But Euro neo-Nazism has the startling characteristic of being pro-Jewish, and wishes not to rid Europe of Jews, but of Muslims. If this requires terrorising and even killing a few million in the process, that is a price worth paying to make Europe pure again.

How did this eerie transformation of fascism — from targeting Jews to taking them as allies against Muslims — come about? It is a combination of two factors that have been fermenting in the post-WWII period.

The origins of European Islamophobia lie in anxiety about and hatred felt by many Europeans of their own European “other”, namely European Jewry. Pre-WWII Europe feared a Jewish conspiracy to subvert Christian society. In the post-Holocaust era, this has been displaced onto Muslim immigrants, even by the traditionally anti-Jewish far right such as Le Pen’s National Front, the British National Party and Norway’s own Progress Party which are now Zionist and racist at the same time.

With the rise of a Jewish state far from Europe, which attracted many European Jews, unease about the “alien” other momentarily abated. Jews who remained in Europe had lost their former high profile as media owners, entertainers and industrial magnates, and were now mostly invisible, there no longer being Jewish ghettos in the major cities. Christianity accepted Judaism as its honoured ancestor, no longer a threat or heresy requiring proselytising and/or restrictions on Jews. The 1950-60s saw a European flowering without either Jews or Muslims having much of a profile.

The new “Judeo-Christian” culture of the West (a concept dismissed by serious Christian and Jewish scholars) is supposedly a happy family. Though Islam and Christianity have much more in common, the rescue of millions of Jews from the Nazis created a cultural bond between the former hostile religions. Because the Jewish state in Palestine was created on the dead bodies of Muslims, this cemented the present alliance of Judaism and Christianity against Islam, a war supposedly of cultures, but one rooted in Jewish imperial conquest in Palestine and “Judeo-Christian” cultural hegemony in the West.

But as Europe’s population began to age, by the 1970s the need for cheap labour forced Europe to “import” Muslims, who are close religious cousins of Christians but maintain pre-capitalist traditions. For instance, Muslim women tend to wear veils, and thriving communities of believers need new mosques with their non-European minarets. While these differences are hardly a threat, they are visible, and Muslims make good (cheap) electoral fodder as scapegoats for the real culprits for the mounting economic problems facing Europe – their very own Christian and Jewish elites using banking crises and neo-liberalism to cut living standards.

As the empire wrestles to subdue Islam, its major politico-cultural rival after the collapse of Communism, Islamophobia, like anti-Communism has become rampant. Such bigots as Holland’s Geert Wilders are working to form a Europe-wide International Freedom Alliance, even including the US and Canada; an “Atlanticist Islamophobistan”, according to analyst Pepe Escobar. Considering that Muslims make up less than two per cent of US and Canadian populations, this leads to “the surrealist American phenomenon of Islamophobia without Muslims”.

Muslims indeed pose a threat to both the Zionised Christians like Breivik and the Zionised Jews promoting the expansion of Israel throughout Palestine. But for the rest of us, the real threat is Zionism and Israel. The inspiration behind Breivik’s horrendous deed is in the first place Israel, where the Bible says Jews should congregate to await the end times. Breivik: “The time has come to stop the stupid support of the Palestinians…and to start supporting our cultural cousins — Israel.”

His murders even have a kind of rabbinical blessing. In 2009 Rabbi Yitzhak Shapiro of the (illegal) West Bank settlement Yitzhar published The King’s Torah, which condones killing even babies and children if they pose a threat to the nation. “It is permissible to kill the Righteous among Nations even if they are not responsible for the threatening situation,” he wrote. By analogy, it is fine for those such as Breivik to kill innocent fellow Norwegians, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, if they threaten his vision of a pure Norway. Writes ex-Israeli Gilad Atzmon, “Breivik treated his fellow countrymen in the same way that the IDF treats Palestinians.”

Breivik no doubt noted Israel’s unpunished 2009 massacre in Gaza, an action that coincided with the beginning of his plans to terrorise his fellow Norwegians. He is surely aware that plucky Israel is now fighting a rear-guard action against the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement in Europe, which prompted Israel – just days before the tragedy — to pass a “herem” law, threatening to sue anyone boycotting its products.

Europe’s BDS movement is, in fact, spearheaded by Norway. Two days before Breivik’s massacre, the widely read Dagbladet tabloid quoted Labour Party youth movement leader, Eskil Pedersen, as stating that he “believes the time has come for more drastic measures against Israel, and [that he] wants the Foreign Minister to impose an economic boycott against the country.”

Two days before the massacre, Joseph Klein complained on Dershowitz’s about “The Quislings of Norway … Norway is effectively under the occupation of anti-Semitic leftists and radical Muslims, and appears willing to help enable the destruction of the Jewish state of Israel.”

Breivik was a regular poster at, run by Jewish pro-Zionist Hans Rustad, which warns against “Islamisation”, violence, and other social problems Rustad assumes to be connected with Muslim immigration. According to Atzmon, such Euro blogs “are almost exclusively focused on ‘the problem of Islam’, and on Muslim migrants, all the while relentlessly propounding a propagandistic Zionist agenda”.

Stephan Kramer, general secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, dismissed the pro-Israeli tilt of the likes of Breivik as just skin-deep, used by them to mask their inherent racism. US President Barack Obama dismissed the tragedy as “domestic”. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu turned the tragedy on its head and said Israel “completely identifies” with the suffering.

Netanyahu’s compatriots at the Israeli Hebrew language blog were more honest: “Oslo criminals paid”; “It’s stupidity and evil not to desire death for those who call to boycott Israel”; “To cry about it? Come on. We Jews are not Christians. In the Jewish religion there is no obligation to love or mourn for the enemy.”

While not going that far, Ynet journalist Manfred Gerstenfeld complains about Norway’s “obsession” with Israel as opposed to, say, Russia. He exhorted the Norwegians to learn from “how Israel reacts to such events”. “How to defend oneself against [terror] is an issue that almost by nature draws in references to precedents from Israel,” he said proudly.

But it’s Israel’s criminal activity that inspired the killer. And why must we follow in Israel’s security-obsessed footsteps, making our lives a living hell so that Israel can continue to perpetrate its crimes unpunished?

Breivik boasts he is part of a shadowy network of latter-day crusader knights set up in London in 2002 with cells across Europe, clearly inspired by Israel. It is thus urgent that Western intelligence agencies investigate Israeli and Zionist operatives before this new campaign of terror takes hold.

Eric Walberg is a journalist who worked in Uzbekistan and is now writing for Al-Ahram Weekly in Cairo.

if what you're reading here grips you, holds you, fascinates you, provokes you, emboldens you, pushes you, galvanizes you, discomfits you, tickles you, enrages you so much that you find yourself returning again and again...then link me.

Disgusting white northern racists...

"according to observers many of brevik's views have increasingly moved into the mainstream. right wing parties have also re-entered european politics in recent years including the dutch party for freedom, the sweden democrats, the true fins, the national front in france, the national democrat party of germany. europe's right fringe has secured seats in numerous national region parliaments across the continent."

yup. they're nasty.

if what you're reading here grips you, holds you, fascinates you, provokes you, emboldens you, pushes you, galvanizes you, discomfits you, tickles you, enrages you so much that you find yourself returning again and again...then link me.

Crossposting from my okc journal...the name of a freedom fighter...

i'm thankful to have come across this woman's name in the journal of another denizen of okcupid. there's so much of excellent quality about this woman's life's work. this is just a bit of what i've seen so far...

Madonna Thunderhawk on KPFA Radio

On Thursday, December 1, Lakota People’s Law Project Organizer and Tribal Liaison Madonna Thunderhawk appeared on KPFA Radio’s Bay Native Circle Program to discuss the dire straits of Lakota children in South Dakota. The entire program focused on issues of native children and, in addition to Madonna, featured Shirley Begay on the NAHC Health Care Outreach and music by Chuna, Star Nayea, and a Radmilla Cody.

Madonna Thunderhawk is a member of the Oohenumpa band of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. She has dedicated her life to working on issues of Native American justice. A grandmother, literally and figuratively, to a generation of American Indian activists, Madonna is currently working with the Lakota People’s Law Project to organize Lakota grandmothers in South Dakota to effectively fight for the rights of their children and grandchildren against the state’s severe ongoing violations of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

Follow the link to listen to the Bay Native Circle program. Madonna begins speaking at approximately the 42-minute mark.

Support Madonna’s work by making a contribution today.

Madonna Thudnerhawk and her granddaughter Decora.


Alcatraz Sunrise Ceremony 2008


The Women of Wounded Knee©
By Duane Noriyuki

Wounded Knee, S.D.

Ribbons representing the four directions dance on a timeless September wind above the graves. Madonna Thunder Hawk scratches the hard, dry ground with the toe of her right shoe. She prefers coming here as seasons change, she says, when time's passage is evident in the leaves and air.

Madonna Thunder Hawk at Wounded Knee for the first time since the 1973 siege.
Photos by BRIAN WALSKI / Los Angeles Times

Thunder Hawk does not return to the memorial to remember those who died here and those buried in this small cemetery. She comes here for herself, to awaken what is buried within. Wounded Knee is a place of death the 1890 massacre of more than 200 Sioux by the 7th Cavalry, the 71-day siege in 1973 by the American Indian Movement in which two more were killed. Yet, to Thunder Hawk, it is a symbol of life, of seasons and time and people moving forward.

"Our people are survivors, you know? This is just another page in the ongoing history of our people," she says. "The struggle never ends. With each changing of the season, we're still here."

It has been 25 years since Thunder Hawk, 58, walked upon these hills through darkness and steep ravines avoiding roadblocks and arrest, her backpack heavy with ammunition for the AIM cause. She remembers how the dull light of a paper-thin moon shimmered off patches of snow. The faint glow of lights on the right was from the town of Pine Ridge, she was told. The lights to the left were of Denby, and the lights in the center would lead her to Wounded Knee.

She was one of a small group hiking 12 miles in from Porcupine. Among those with her was Lorelei DeCora, then still a teenager, who, three years earlier at age 16, became one of the youngest members of the AIM board of directors.

They were distant relatives, but it wasn't until they became involved in AIM, a civil rights movement born in 1968, that they drew close. The two of them traveled together, protested together, were arrested together. And just as the sky was turning pale one winter morning in 1973, they walked together down into this valley and into the siege that would change their lives.

The conflict started as a result of turmoil between two factions on the Pine Ridge reservation. AIM had been called in by a group of traditional Oglala elders who said they were under attack by Richard Wilson, the elected tribal chairman, and his "goon squad."

It was a conflict that came to symbolize the disparity between those adhering to traditional Indian cultures and those living nontraditional lives. But when the shooting started and federal agents became involved, the conflict pitted AIM against the U.S. government. And as negotiations took place, the issues shifted to the rights of American Indians.

It was a conflict that came to mean different things at different times to different people.

Women Moved to the Forefront

About half of those involved in the occupation were women, Thunder Hawk says. And after Wounded Knee, when many of the male leaders, including her cousin Russell Means, whom she grew up with and considers a brother, were arrested or on the run, women took on greater responsibilities in the movement. Thunder Hawk and DeCora helped form Women of All Red Nations when it became dangerous to declare affiliation with AIM.

Madonna Thunder Hawk at her Cheyenne River home.

They fought to save the sacred Black Hills from developers and did a water study on Pine Ridge that indicated dangerous levels of radiation, eventually resulting in a new water system. Thunder Hawk, who earned a bachelor's degree in human services, started a group home / survival school in Rapid City during the Wounded Knee trials. It was primarily for children from out of town whose relatives had been indicted. Eventually, she took in runaways and others with nowhere to go, and the school was moved to Pine Ridge, where she also helped start an independent radio station.

DeCora, 44, earned a bachelor's degree in nursing. She helped establish the Porcupine Clinic. Both remain activists on their home reservations, Thunder Hawk at Cheyenne River in South Dakota, DeCora at the Winnebago reservation in Nebraska.

They are typical, they say, of many women who worked before, during and after the siege of Wounded Knee to secure treaty rights, improve living conditions and renew native cultures that over the years were systematically stripped away by the dominant U.S. society.

Thunder Hawk turns and looks up from the weeds and the small scratch in the dirt next to her feet. Her gaze shifts to the east. What Wounded Knee taught her, she says, is how to look at place and time. The struggle is represented by this land beneath her and, like the wind, is timeless.

"I knew after Wounded Knee what our ancestors meant when they talked about the seven generations. You have to think and plan for seven generations ahead," she says. "This is it for us. Right here." Again, she scratches the ground.

"We don't come from anywhere else. We don't have a gene pool in Europe. This is it. So after Wounded Knee, when I saw the real meaning of land struggle, I knew I had to raise my children and grandchildren to continue the struggle. Before Wounded Knee, I was naive, idealistic. I wanted to see change right now, like young people do, and we did change some things. Somebody had to kick in the door to make those changes happen, but after Wounded Knee, I knew it was ongoing and that each generation has to pick up the struggle."

The sun is warm, but coolness settles into the wind. Thunder Hawk walks slowly among graves. Soon it will be fall.

Activism Began in School

A herd of buffalo moves slowly through cottonwood shadows that line the winding creek. Lorelei DeCora watches their movements closely. She comes here alone sometimes to talk to them to find peace and to pray.

"The kids named the big bull Mike Bison," she says.

Her life as an activist began at age 15, while she was attending high school in Sioux City, Iowa, 20 miles away from the Winnebago reservation. A book titled "Hawkeye Tales" was being used in public schools. It described American Indians as savages and referred to women as "squaws."

DeCora led a successful drive to remove the book from schools. A year later, she helped found a youth center for American Indians and led an effort to stop a construction project on a burial ground.

It was in Sioux City that she met Thunder Hawk and became involved in AIM. They connected immediately and began working together. At Wounded Knee, they became medics, working with volunteer physicians who would fly in for brief stints.

For DeCora, Wounded Knee was a spiritual awakening that shaped her work in the field of health care.

"In my life, what's driven me in the work that I do has always been the spiritual side," she says. "That started at Wounded Knee. When we were at Wounded Knee, I became a medic and I was only 19 years old, and what I saw set the tone for the rest of my life. I saw how dependent Indian people are on non-Indian people for our own health."

In the beginning, Wounded Knee was exciting, even fun, she says. Ironically, there was a sense of freedom.

"We were surrounded by the military might of the United States, but we were a community that had no police, no monetary system, no laws other than what we wanted to make. We were a community that was given a taste of freedom."

All that changed the day Frank Clearwater died in the fighting with federal agents.

"The whole top of his head was blown off," DeCora says. "I had my hands on top of his head trying to hold the pieces together. Everything up to that point was fun, but when I saw that, I thought, 'This man just gave his life, so this better be worth it.' My whole perception of Wounded Knee changed at that moment, and I wondered, 'What are we accomplishing here?' "

The second person killed in the shootout was Buddy LaMonte and it was his death that led to the end of the siege. LaMonte had told his family that if he was killed, he wanted to be buried at Wounded Knee.

"The Feds agreed to let Mrs. LaMonte bury her son there if we agreed to give up the day after the funeral. We had a meeting, and an elder, a medicine man, stood up with tears in his eyes and said it was time to end this. I stood up and said, 'Our chief has spoken to us. We said we would follow the direction of the chiefs.' "

And, with that, the decision was made to end the occupation, but for DeCora, it wasn't the final battle. The one she fights now is against diabetes. She has founded a program that incorporates Winnebago culture into the treatment and prevention of type 2 diabetes.

"Close to 90% of the adults over 45 have been diagnosed as Type II diabetics," she says of the Winnebago reservation. Beyond that, she adds, 48% of the children show signs of a pre-diabetic state.

"That means the future of this tribe is at stake," she says.

The Heroism of Grandmothers

There was a story told to DeCora by her grandfather. It was about his mother, who, in her seventh winter, survived the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee. She spoke of her memories only once, her grandfather said.

She said she remembered gunshots and the cold. Her baby brother was placed on her back by their mother, who then told her to flee. She ran toward a creek, fell and landed on its banks. "Keep going," the baby told her, so she ran.

The snow had drifted into a cornice above the creek, and below it she moved steadily without direction. Sometimes soldiers would ride up to the creek bank, and she would hear them above her and remain still beneath the cornice.

She got very tired, very cold. The snow fell hard. As evening approached, she heard her uncle, whom she had left behind at Wounded Knee, yell at her from the top of a hill. "Keep coming," he shouted. She was happy to see him alive and began to think that her family had survived the gunfire.

She ran toward him, and when she reached the top of the hill, she saw him climbing the hill ahead of her. "Keep coming," he shouted throughout the night. Finally, as the sun rose above the snow-covered ground, she heard her uncle in the distance say, "We're home."

She ran to the top of the next hill and found herself in the town they had left before the attack at Wounded Knee. She could find no trace of her uncle.

There is no humanly way possible she could have made the trip in one night, yet that is the story she told, DeCora says. The uncle who led her home, it turned out, was killed at Wounded Knee. The baby on her back who had spoken to her was dead of a bullet wound. Relatives took the girl in and raised her. She grew up and had 18 children, including DeCora's grandfather.

After that journey from Wounded Knee, she could see spirits, and sometimes, just before sunset, she would look out the window and see her uncle.

There is another story about an ancestor who lived in the 1700s who was the only woman to serve as chief of the Winnebagos. Once when DeCora, her three sisters and an aunt were taking a sweat with their grandmother, she told them about the chief. It had been prophesied, her grandmother said, that every few generations the chief's spirit would emerge through female descendants.

It is that spirit, DeCora says, that has guided her. "Things happen around me and always have," she says. "It's not me. It's something else, something bigger than me that gets people motivated and gets people to believe."

Even as a teenager, people listened to her, she says. During Wounded Knee, even though it was men like Russell Means and Dennis Banks who represented AIM in front of the cameras, they valued the words of DeCora and the other women.

"I never felt resentment that they didn't have women right up there with the men," she says. "I spoke at a NOW [National Organization for Women] conference about the role of women in the struggle of American Indians, and I told them that we don't have the luxury as a people to address issues of equality. If your people are dying and they're hungry, then you have to address those issues before you have time to address other issues."

Thinking of the Next Generation

Still, she says, it is important that women share their stories, pass them to the next generation, so descendants will know about the young girl who trudged through snow to escape death, the woman who was chief, another who held in her hands the head of a dying man.

"The stories that women have to contribute are important. It's a part of history that needs to come out, or it will be lost. If you read the book 'Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,' it's all these stories of all these men. They're not the stories of Crazy Horse's wife. Who was she? What did she do?"

Thunder Hawk, too, has stories to tell about the women in her family. Her role models were her grandmothers, one who had a soft lap, one whom she called Twinkle Star, an outspoken woman unafraid to express her views.

"I grew up thinking all grandmothers wrote letters to the president," Thunder Hawk says. "She told us about the stars, about the sacred Black Hills. She was the one who told me about treaty rights. There were no strong, stoic Indian grandfathers in our lives. There were strong grandmothers."

And now it is Thunder Hawk and DeCora who are grandmothers. They don't see each other as often as they would like. Both are divorced, both living with daughters. Both ready to take up a cause with a phone call.

"It's a hard life," DeCora says, "It's easy to just think of yourself and drive a nice car and have nice things, but the reward is that when the day comes that I have to die or Madonna has to die, and our ancestors are there in the spirit world, we can stand in front of them and say, 'I didn't just look the other way. I did what I could.' "

When that day comes, the struggle will continue in the hands of the young. The seasons will still change. And the wind will still blow hard at Wounded Knee...

if what you're reading here grips you, holds you, fascinates you, provokes you, emboldens you, pushes you, galvanizes you, discomfits you, tickles you, enrages you so much that you find yourself returning again and again...then link me.

Via scission...

i was directed to a pambazuka news article about the death of the chief architect of the total onslaught of the apartheid military. some are saying he should rot in hell. i tend to agree.

Magnus Malan and crimes against humanity in Africa
by Horace Campbell

General Magnus Malan, the chief architect of the total onslaught of the apartheid military, passed away on 18 July 2011. This total onslaught strategy was the idea that South Africa was threatened by a communist conspiracy and that the South African apartheid state must respond with economic, political, ideological, psychological and military tools to defend capitalism and white supremacy. Malan was minister of defence for 11 years (1980–1991), and it was under his tenure that the apartheid war machine spread death and destruction across Africa. Under his tenure as minister of defence this illegal state decided to weaponise biology. The results are still being felt across Africa today with the ramifications of the biological warfare project that was called Project Coast. Malan’s life and death should remind young people that the fight for freedom must be sustained in as much as the economic, military and political vestiges of apartheid still threaten total emancipation. Africans may occupy positions of political power in South Africa but the economic legacies of apartheid are very much flourishing.

Internationally, the crimes of the Nazis are condemned. German society no longer celebrates Hitler and the Nazis as great leaders, but in South Africa the publishing houses and think-tanks that were nourished and financed by Magnus Malan thrive and distort history. Many of these think-tanks have changed their names, but not their basic philosophy. Yet the people of South Africa have tried to transcend the ideation system of revenge and bitterness. The people have attempted to draw on the principles of Ubuntu in practice. Hiding behind the new philosophy of Ubuntu, the war criminals of South Africa have sought to rehabilitate themselves as servants of the South African state and as fighters against communism. The central place of the military in the processes of accumulation and enrichment has been taken over by sections of the African National Congress (ANC). Younger South Africans must work harder to completely understand the real consequences of apartheid and to remember that one cannot dismantle the system with the same ideas that built it.


Magnus Malan was born into white privilege in South Africa in 1930 when the ideas of Hitler and white supremacy had not yet taken over the leadership of the organisation that was to later become the National Party. By the end of the Second World War, the National Party had completely absorbed the ideas and principles of Nazism and codified them into a series of laws and forms of organising society that still cripple South Africa to this day. Operating through a secretive organisation called the Afrikaner Broederbond, some of the adherents of the National Party had been interned during Second World War because of their overt support for Adolf Hitler and the ideas of the Nazis. This National Party came to power in 1948 and through the period 1948 to 1990 this party articulated a set of principles that entrenched white minority rule. Apartheid as a doctrine codified and structured life in society with brutal force and super-exploitation. Malan was born in the period when the administrative system had relegated blacks to ‘reserves’, but the demand for labour brought Africans into the urban areas where they were dumped into marginal and police-controlled areas called townships. Malan matured within the secret order of the Afrikaner Broederbond and became one of the principal thinkers for the military plans for the next three decades.

This system of apartheid controlled every aspect of the lives of Africans and other oppressed peoples called ‘Coloured’ and ‘Indians’. Masters and servants ordinances and the pass laws defined the position of Africans and regulated their freedom of movement. The Group Areas Act, the Native Land Act, the Population Registration Act, the Reservation and Separate Amenities Act and the Suppression of Communism Act were all part of the legal basis for the consolidation of the South African form of Nazism that was called apartheid. When Africans opposed these draconian measures they were shot down in the streets, with the Sharpeville Massacre of 1961 standing as one of the most notorious actions of this militarised society.

Malan joined the military after graduating from the University of Pretoria and was sent to the United States to train over the period 1962–1963. It was during this time that Magnus Malan strengthened ties with conservative and racist military forces within the US military establishment. After rising through the ranks of the apartheid military, Malan was promoted to become chief of the army (1973–1976), and chief of the defence forces (1976–1980). He was appointed minister of defence in 1980 and served in this position until 1991.Those US military personnel who want to establish relations with Africa would do well to research and expose the linkages of Malan to the US military establishment so that the present generation would be aware of the collaboration between the US military and apartheid.


Despite the efforts to crush the resistance of the people, the organised and spontaneous opposition to apartheid galvanised an international movement. Malan fancied himself as a military intellectual who had studied the campaigns of France in Algeria and the British in Kenya and Malaysia. After the independence of Angola and Mozambique in 1975 and the massive uprisings of Soweto in 1976, Malan and the thinkers of the apartheid state came up with the military doctrine of 'total strategy'. This strategy was supposed to be the apartheid regime's response to what it perceived as a multi-dimensional 'total onslaught' against the South African state.

To carry forward this strategy the military became central to the reproduction of state power. This was reflected not only in the links between the military and industry, epitomised in the Armaments Corporation of South Africa (ARMSCOR), but also in the militarisation of the state and society. Under Magnus Malan and Prime Minister P.W. Botha, the management techniques of the South African Defence Forces were harnessed to militarise every aspect of life. Total Strategy meant that the apartheid state mobilised economic, military, political, medical, information, cultural and psychological tools to preserve capitalism and white supremacy. Malan was at the top of an aggressive state organised under a National Security Management System (NSMS). An inner war cabinet called the State Security Council linked the military to local administrative structures through joint management committees and a decentralised system of 'security management' at all levels.

This Total Strategy received a boost after the election of Margaret Thatcher in Britain in 1979 and Ronald Reagan in the United States in 1980. Through a series of meetings with William Casey of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the USA, there was a decision to intensify the wars against the peoples of South Africa and the region as a whole. The long-term plans of the South African State Security Council merged well with the anti-communist policies of the Reagan administration. The United States supported apartheid and acted as a buffer for apartheid when the United Nations wanted to impose stricter sanctions. It was in this period when intellectuals such as Chester Crocker (who was by then the US’s assistant secretary of state for African affairs) became international spokespersons for the defence of apartheid on the grounds that the South African state was in the frontline struggle against communism. The liberation movements of South Africa were labelled as terrorist organisations and Nelson Mandela was kept in jail as the number-one terrorist.


The local struggles against apartheid inspired an international movement, and in this struggle the South African apartheid state became isolated in the court of international public opinion. In 1973 the General Assembly of the United Nations had under the Apartheid Convention declared that apartheid was a crime against humanity and that ‘inhuman acts resulting from the policies and practices of apartheid and similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination’ were international crimes.

Article 2 of the Apartheid Convention defined the crime of apartheid, stating that it ‘shall include similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practiced in southern Africa.’ This extended to ‘inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them’. It then listed the acts that fell within the ambit of the crime. These included murder, torture, inhuman treatment and arbitrary arrest of members of a racial group; deliberate imposition on a racial group of living conditions calculated to cause its physical destruction; legislative measures that discriminate in the political, social, economic and cultural fields; measures that divide the population along racial lines by the creation of separate residential areas for racial groups; the prohibition of interracial marriages; and the persecution of persons opposed to apartheid.

International criminal responsibility was to apply to individuals, members of organisations and representatives of the state who commit, incited or conspired to commit the crime of apartheid.

This position was again stated explicitly at the Second World Conference against Racism in Geneva in 1983.

Under this UN convention Malan qualified as a war criminal for the systematic oppression that had been meted out against the peoples of South Africa and the region as a whole. While South Africa faced diplomatic isolation with the support of the US military and intelligence, the South African military created proxy armies such as the MNR (Mozambique National Resistance) in Mozambique and supported ‘leaders’ such as Jonas Savimbi in Angola.

It was during the tenure of Magnus Malan that the South African armed forces, like swarms of locusts, left death and destruction in their wake. It was estimated by UN sources that by the end of apartheid over $80 billion dollars’ worth of destruction and economic damage had been wreaked across the region of Southern Africa. Over two million persons were killed, maimed, displaced or made refugees as the SADF (South African Defence Force) fought across the breadth of southern Africa. In Angola, SADF fought both a conventional and irregular war (justified in the West as a fight against a Soviet/Cuban threat to Western strategic resources), and in Namibia apartheid South Africa deployed over 100,000 troops to fight a counter-insurgency war against the South West African Peoples' Organisation (SWAPO of Namibia). In Mozambique the apartheid regime organised a war to destabilise Frelimo, and in the other front-line states the South African regime carried out economic sabotage.

Despite this 'total strategy' the military failed to crush the rebellion of the South African masses at their places of work, in the townships and in schools. The resistance of the people took numerous forms. This resistance inspired a large international movement. Magnus Malan deployed troops in the urban townships and unleashed permanent terror against the poor.

The South African armed forces, in collaboration with some elements in the US government, attempted to impose Jonas Savimbi on Angola. They launched a three-phase operation called ‘Modular, Hooper and Packer’ to destroy Angola. This military invasion was stopped at Cuito Cuanavale and the South Africans were decisively defeated. Despite this defeat the propaganda and psychological warfare of the apartheid state had been so entrenched that it was difficult to sell to the white supremacists the idea that the whites were defeated in battle. After the overthrow of overt apartheid, Malan wrote his own memoirs of this battle, claiming that the South African state won at Cuito Cuanavale. This was published in his memoirs, ‘Magnus Malan: My Life with the South African Defence Forces’.


Before the independence of Zimbabwe, the South Africans and the Rhodesian military developed a weaponised form of anthrax that it deployed against the African people. It was under the leadership of Magnus Malan as minister of defence where the dreaded Project Coast was initiated. We now know some of the criminal actions that were carried out from the testimonies at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Malan and P.W. Botha recruited Dr Wouter Basson to coordinate an offensive chemical and biological warfare (CBW) programme. Basson under Malan ran the CBW program during the 1980s and early 1990s in a desperate effort to save this system of oppression. Testimonies before the TRC highlighted the fact that this Project Coast,

‘… developed lethal chemical and biological weapons that targeted ANC political leaders and their supporters as well as populations living in the black townships. These weapons included an infertility toxin to secretly sterilize the black population; skin-absorbing poisons that could be applied to the clothing of targets; and poison concealed in products such as chocolates and cigarettes.

‘… released cholera strains into water sources of certain South African villages and provided anthrax and cholera to the government troops of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) during the late 1970s to use against the rebel soldiers in the guerrilla war.’

In the book ‘Medical Apartheid’, Harriet Washington summed up the extent of this grand plan to weaponise biology. She wrote that in response to the massive anti-apartheid struggles:

‘apartheid politicians and scientists funded research and development of exotic biological and chemical weapons for use against the black majority so that the power of weaponized biological might help the white minority to destroy its opponents without firing a shot.’

Project Coast researched the development of deadly bacteria that would only affect blacks.

With many of the books and articles on these bizarre criminal acts focusing on Wouter Basson – who was the lead scientist of Project Coast – not enough attention has been placed on Magnus Malan, who was the minister of defence and responsible for the massive funds that were disbursed for these biological warfare programmes. The manufacture of illicit drugs, money laundering and the establishment of front companies offshore were all perfected under Magnus Malan. At the international level, the relationships between the work of Magnus Malan, Wouter Basson and biological warfare experts in the USA needs to be placed in the public domain. It is known that William Casey enjoyed a very close and cosy relationship with Magnus Malan, and that through their networks Wouter Basson worked closely with US scientists.


It was an ironic historical twist that Magnus Malan passed away on the 93rd birthday of Nelson Mandela on 18 July 2011. It was under Malan that the biological warfare experts had contemplated how to infect Mandela and other incarcerated leaders with toxins so that they would die shortly after being released from prison and it would appear that they died from cancer.

Even after the release of Mandela when it was clear that apartheid was on its last legs, Malan was still organising death squads and fomenting violence to make the wars seem as black-on-black violence. As minister of defence, Malan was responsible for paramilitary death squads (called the Civil Cooperation Bureau) that operated against civilians in the East Rand townships. Malan organised the financing of the Inkatha thugs who were the instruments of state terror.

Malan was finally removed from his position as minister of defence in 1991 and moved to the Department of Water Affairs. On 2 November 1995 Malan was charged together with other former senior military officers for murdering 13 people (including seven children) in the KwaMakhutha massacre of 1987. After a trial lasting seven months he was acquitted. His acquittal and that of Wouter Basson were striking examples of how the current political leaders were compromised and failed to do the kind of political and information work that would establish the criminal past of these white supremacists.

Ubuntu and the ideas of forgiveness are important principles, but while embracing the principles of Ubuntu, Africans cannot forget the past because the legacies and consequences of the weaponisation of biology are still being felt across Africa. More important is the reality that the ANC has refused to do the kind of educational work that would teach the younger generation about the realities of apartheid. I was pained when I was in South Africa recently when in discussions with very young students there was the view that neoliberal capitalism is what South Africa needs.

The government of the African National Congress integrated itself into the institutions of the apartheid state. One component of this integration is the continued use of the military and weapons procurement as a field for enrichment by political and military leaders. DENEL, the successor to ARMSCOR, has been at the centre of allegations of massive bribery, kickbacks and corruption.


Currently, the history of apartheid is being contested at every level and the passing of Malan has afforded one other opportunity for conservative forces to represent Malan as a ‘military strategist’ who was a technocrat. Throughout the Western world in the obituaries about his passing there was no mention of the criminal actions, especially the weaponisation of biology. It was very painful to interact with younger South Africans who do not know the history of the crimes of white supremacy and capitalism in South Africa. These youths are in institutions of higher learning where the ideas of free-market capitalism and white supremacy are taught as gospel.

Some of the leaders of the liberation movement have forgotten the sacrifices of the people and now send their children to the schools where the ideas of Magnus Malan are celebrated. These same leaders live in gated communities and for them apartheid is over because they have inherited the structures that were built by Hendrik Verwoerd, John Vorster, Magnus Malan and P.W. Botha. The social questions of apartheid are evident in every sphere of life in contemporary South Africa. Whether in the context of the health services, the educational system, housing, transportation or access to water and electricity, the poor and oppressed in South Africa are still struggling to dismantle apartheid. These struggles now manifest in massive confrontations over ‘service delivery’. To blunt these struggles some leaders support xenophobia and hostility towards other Africans in order to maintain the black empowerment clique in the business of making money from tenders. The passing of Magnus Malan offers one other occasion for a summing-up of the crimes against humanity that were committed so that the society can heal itself from these crimes. On the day Magnus Malan met his maker the people of South Africa were called upon to exhibit kindness by committing 67 minutes' worth of service in honour of the 67 years that Mandela worked for freedom in South Africa (from 1942 until his retirement from public life in 2009). We join in the celebration of the 93rd birthday of Nelson Mandela while calling on the next generation to grasp the need to transform the society beyond the traditions of Magnus Malan.

if what you're reading here grips you, holds you, fascinates you, provokes you, emboldens you, pushes you, galvanizes you, discomfits you, tickles you, enrages you so much that you find yourself returning again and again...then link me.

I went out for an e-walk and came across these blogs...

Working Class Self Organisation

if what you're reading here grips you, holds you, fascinates you, provokes you, emboldens you, pushes you, galvanizes you, discomfits you, tickles you, enrages you so much that you find yourself returning again and again...then link me.

Their priorities are clear, their focus unshaken...fearless...

Hackers Unafraid of LulzSec/Anonymous Member Arrests by FBI

if what you're reading here grips you, holds you, fascinates you, provokes you, emboldens you, pushes you, galvanizes you, discomfits you, tickles you, enrages you so much that you find yourself returning again and again...then link me.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

She's alive...she's home...i haven't seen any more than a small percentage of her...

breathtaking yet finite. i am one of her greedy children. i want. i want. i want. i take.

via antemedius...

she's our mother.
she can be saved.
she's worth defending.
she's worth dying for.

if what you're reading here grips you, holds you, fascinates you, provokes you, emboldens you, pushes you, galvanizes you, discomfits you, tickles you, enrages you so much that you find yourself returning again and again...then link me.

A musician in the subway was playing this...

rock classic still going strong in the eighties when i was in high school. oh, i never actually got to do the last dance slow grope with anyone. black girl with oprah helmet hair in a time when black wasn't at all cool in suburban toronto. nope. so, this is more of a melancholy yet still beloved memory than anything else. still a favourite that brings a smile to my face. marking the space between that late blooming overachieving immigrant castaway child and this maturing being steadfastly coming to power with much difficulty, bumps and explosions along the way...incredibly still blooming...

if what you're reading here grips you, holds you, fascinates you, provokes you, emboldens you, pushes you, galvanizes you, discomfits you, tickles you, enrages you so much that you find yourself returning again and again...then link me.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I think her communcation is infused with nationalistic arrogance and white middle class denial about what it means to be kkkanadian...nonetheless...

...she is being aggressively attacked by the kkkanadian government because of her very public views on steven harper's lack of interest in fully tackling climate change...

i found this on dawg's blog who came by it via dammit janet!...

Canadian Government Tries to Silence Franke James

by Franke James

Franke James essay Dear PM

“Who was the idiot who approved an art show
by that woman, Franke James?”

Memorable words from one of Canada’s top officials on hearing that
the Canadian Embassy in Croatia had offered support for Franke’s art show.

Summary of the Problem:

The Canadian Government, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party, is actively working to shut down my solo European art exhibition, which is set to tour 20 cities in Europe. The government’s interference includes phoning the corporate sponsor, and persuading them to cancel their $75,000 sponsorship.

Canadian officials have also bullied the NGO, Nektarina Non Profit, and warned them repeatedly to cancel the exhibition because they are opposed to “Franke James.” They are doing everything in their power to make sure my show is killed. An employee with Amnesty International in Croatia reacted to the news by saying, “This is a sad day for Canadian democracy.”

“Franke James is tackling a great Canadian taboo with humour and culture – insisting Canadians must act on climate protection despite polluting profits from the tar sands. She should be celebrated and supported as a Canadian treasure – instead our diplomatic circles are told to blacklist her from Canadian international auspices. Artists, environmentalists and anyone who cares about Canada’s reputation in the world should rise up to support Franke’s efforts.” ~ Beatrice Olivastri, CEO, Friends of the Earth Canada

Please read the post below to understand the petro-state politics that are underlying this censorship — and see how you can lend your support.

My Reaction to the Blacklisting:

At first I couldn’t believe it. Me? Blacklisted? What?!

I’m the person who wouldn’t even build a green driveway without getting permission from City Hall! I believe in working with the system to change laws, not break them.

alice drawing from Paradise Unpaved by Franke James

How does it make sense to blacklist me? This is crazy!

But apparently, I’ve ignited the Harper Government’s fury by telling the truth about Canada’s footdragging on climate action. And having the audacity to advocate pollution taxes and tougher environmental policies on Alberta’s Tar Sands! (recommendations which are in line with many respected environmental NGO’s including the Pembina Institute.)

Since May 2011, the Canadian Government has been using underhanded, behind-the-scenes tactics to get my “What can one person do?” art show in Europe cancelled.

The goal of the ambitious show, organized by Nektarina Non Profit, is to raise environmental awareness with youth, and inspire teens to make their own climate change art. The show has the support of the Ministry of Culture in Latvia and the Croatian Agency for Environment. It’s a huge honor for me — but I can also see that it’s a direct result of the visual essays I’ve written, and the green conscience workshops I’ve done with students in Canada and the USA.

You would think that Canada would be proud of me. And in fact, the show initially received enthusiastic responses from Canadian embassies in Europe, and a promise of funding. But in mid-May this support was suddenly cancelled by Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa, with the words, “Who was the idiot who approved an art show by that woman, Franke James?”

Here are three examples of the government’s interference to date:

    This past May, a Canadian Embassy official met with the show’s organizer, Nektarina Non Profit, in Croatia. She advised them to abandon the show because my Dear Prime Minister visual essay — created independently by me for the 2008 Federal Election – offended the Harper Government. It did not support any political party. It only asked that carbon polluters pay. (See my press release from 2008.)
    On July 11th, the show’s corporate sponsor was called by a Canadian official in Ottawa and advised to withdraw their support, lest they lose millions of dollars in contracts. They cancelled their sponsorship the same day. Nektarina Non Profit is now missing $75,000 it needs to make the show a success.
    On July 13th, a Canadian Embassy official called Sandra Antonovic at Nektarina, and pressured her. The official reminded Sandra that she could apply for more grants in the future — and said that it was the artist (Franke James) they objected to.

    On July 22nd, Nektarina published an official statement on the bullying by the Harper Government. Here is an excerpt:

  4. “In the past few months we have encountered many difficulties in organizing the exhibitions, usually connected to interventions of the Canadian Government or institutions under Canadian governmental control. We continued to look for ways to collaborate with the homeland of the artist, although at times we felt patronized and even intimidated, as a small NGO trying to reach an understanding with a powerful state. This was most surprising given Canada’s reputation over many decades as a leader in promoting democratic freedoms, the right of free expression and also supporting the international community (through its role as a peacekeeper and in many other ways). It is clear that Canada has a difficult position to resolve in relation to its narrower national interests (in particular the exploitation of natural resources) and its wider responsibility in the international community.” ~ Sandra Antonovic, Nektarina Non Profit

Canadian Embassies can’t even offer me a Handshake

At first I was skeptical that the Canadian Embassies would be so hostile to “me”, a Canadian citizen and business-owner. I’ve even led a Trade Mission to Los Angeles a few years ago… So, I approached them myself asking if they would host a press conference to announce my show (as they do for other artists and authors). Surely, they will greet a Canadian artist with open arms?

But no… I was rebuffed on the phone, and by email. None of the Canadian embassies wants anything to do with me or the show. Not one embassy has agreed to honor the event. They can’t even offer me a handshake, which seems very strange and very ‘un-Canadian’.

Is the show being blocked because the Harper Government doesn’t want Canadians to worry about the tar sands, our largest and fastest growing source of greenhouse gas pollution? All I can think is that it’s a wee bit inconvenient for them if my work shows up just when the European Union is deciding on the EU Fuel Directive which could slap a “dirty oil” label on the Tar Sands. Or the CETA negotiations.

Or maybe, they simply don’t want kids to learn how to protect the environment? Because that’s what the show is about.

Is this the Canada we want? A country that cracks down on artists who speak up when they see a government policy that’s wrong, and that’s endangering our children’s futures?

Dirty oil is making for dirty politics and it’s soiling Canada’s reputation – destroying the Canada we know and love.

This climate change art show is a tremendous opportunity to make a difference. But it’s all at risk because of the blacklisting and interference by the Harper Government.

I could use your help. Whatever nationality you are, and wherever you are in the world, you can help to spread the news of this shocking interference and blacklisting by the Canadian Government. It’s an abuse of power, and a threat to free speech and freedom of expression. In many countries, artists and writers are afraid to speak out for fear of being punished. But few would point the finger at Canada as that type of oppressive country. Sadly, I am being punished for speaking out. I believe this attempt to muzzle me calls for immediate and strong action. Please see ideas below on how you can lend your support.

How can you help? Here are 4 ways:

  1. Leave your comment below about this blacklisting.
  2. PEN International and PEN Canada work to protect writers and artists right to free speech. Consider a donation.
  3. Do you know of a potential sponsor for the show? Would you like the show in your region? Please write to me:
  4. Share this blog post on Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

Support for Franke James

“Franke James is among the tiny handful of really powerful and profound artists who have taken on climate change – the most important topic on the planet, but one so big and all-encompassing that it often defies artistic interpretation. Her work is incredibly important for many of us around the world.” ~ Bill McKibben, Founder

“Franke James’ work is honest, powerful and funny. She has a rare ability to sweep past the polarization and complexity of critical issues and shine a stark spotlight without over simplifying. Her work is not be missed by anyone interested in climate change or the future of Canada!” ~ Tzeporah Berman, Co-director Climate and Energy Greenpeace International

“Artistic communicator par excellence, Franke James is a Canadian visionary and master of inspiration for lighting the passions around the epochal realms of our time. Her visual essays brilliantly pare the broad complexities of climate change down to a human scale narrative that resonates with the Canadian public.” Toby A. A. Heaps, Editor-in-Chief, Corporate Knights Magazine

“The words ‘visual artist’ do too little justice to Franke James. She is a commentator and educator, an entertainer and provocateur. Her thoughtful and thought-provoking work is whimsical, accessible and resolutely non-confrontational – sometimes indignant, but never impolite. Franke can’t make me feel better about climate change, but she’s one of the few people around who gives me hope.” ~ Richard Littlemore, co-author of Climate Cover-up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming

“Franke James is a unique asset to the climate movement: a fearless artist whose work simultaneously bursts with joyfulness and hard-hitting rationale about the current crisis to our planet. Without fail, after reading one of her visual essays, I’m always freshly motivated to address these challenges head-on.” ~ Jess Leber, Environment Editor,

“Franke James is a Canadian treasure whose art has helped to explain the global climate crisis in understandable and even humorous ways. She is meticulous about the facts and substance, but her voice is eminently refreshing and approachable. I love her art, and that she uses it for story-telling to raise awareness of humankind’s urgent challenge.” ~ Michael Noble, Fresh Energy

“Franke James’ artwork is a vital and beautiful tool to awaken greater consciousness and action on the part of people all over the world to confront our greatest challenge: climate change.” ~ May Boeve, Executive Director,

“Franke James has an extraordinary talent for mixing engaging stories and the latest science to make action-provoking climate art. Naturally, it has been a pleasure to work with Franke and Bill James on the CO2 Toaster website widget that has helped get the attention of hundreds of thousands of people to think more about humanity’s single most important environmental data.” ~ Michael McGee, Creator of Earth’s CO2 Home Page

“Our climate experts are desperate to explain their science in a way that promotes action. So are environmentalists, social justice activists, and intellectuals of all stripe. Franke James just might have the key. Her visual essays make detailed, sound arguments, but they are delivered in a way that lets people hear. She eschews polemics, admits her own uncertainties, and draws everyone into the circle of change. Here’s one voice I’d like the whole world to hear.” ~ Cathryn Wellner, This Gives Me Hope

“I have long been a fan of Franke James’ unique brand of storytelling – so much so that I’ve borrowed from one of her best – Paradise Unpaved – and made it a centerpiece of more than 30 presentations on environmental leadership I have made to more than 4,500 people from across Canada. Her story of taking on City Hall for the right to build a green driveway is exceptional for its ability to engage diverse audiences on a very sensitive matter. Her literally “grassroots” activism gets people thinking how each of us contribute to the environmental challenges we face, and also to the solutions – and for doing so in a way that is empowering.” ~ David Noble, Principal, 2degreesC

For more information contact:

Franke James, Artist
Tel: 416-256-9166

Lisa Borden at Borden Communications.
Tel: 416-484-6489

if what you're reading here grips you, holds you, fascinates you, provokes you, emboldens you, pushes you, galvanizes you, discomfits you, tickles you, enrages you so much that you find yourself returning again and again...then link me.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Oh, i'm definitely paying attention to the sister wives and their patriachal priesthood holder....

he doesn't at all pay attention to the dynamics between the sister wives. i think he's immature and self centred. having said that, i figured they were going to launch a challenge. see, amerikkkans tend to test out ideas on tv before they are made real. tracking people's response to a movie or to a television show is considered an acceptable form of market research.

remember how they test ran the idea of a black prez via the hit series 24? or the idea of a white woman prez via battlestar galactica?

basically the powers that be and anyone who knows how to manipulate public opinion via the media know that nothing is real for the couch potato set unless they've consumed it in their living rooms while staring at the boob tube. once they've seen it on the tv and liked it or at least continued to watch it, whoever it is they've been offered becomes a part of the family.

i always wondered if the people behind big love, not the executive producers and director(s?) and such but the people who supported its creation behind the scenes and the people who pushed for the creation of sisterwives had another agenda.

it seemed so from where i was standing.
polygamy way, way out in front, in the public eye, normalized, a familiar relationship configuration we've all seen in our own living rooms, comfortable, made just another part of a thriving multicultural society.
obviously as a poly person with a family, i understand that there are places of connection and places of extreme distance for me when it comes to the link between polyamory and polygamy. all this to say, in some ways i feel i have a big fat stake in how things go down for these people from here on in...

from polyamory in the news...

"Sister Wives" stars challenge anti-polygamy law

Kody, Meri, Janelle, and Christine Brown and Robyn Sullivan, you may remember, are the showpiece family of Mormon polygamists on TLC's reality-TV show "Sister Wives". Since the family went public with the show last September, they have faced a threat of prosecution under Utah's anti-polygamy law and as a result, one wife lost her job. They moved to Nevada to avoid being charged.

Now the five have brought a challenge in federal court to the Utah anti-polygamy laws, and by extension to all similar laws in the US.

The Browns may have a better chance in court than their generations of predecessors — and not just because a top-flight constitutional expert, Jonathan Turley, has signed on as their lead attorney.

Past attempts to legalize polygamy were based on arguments of religious freedom. Originalist Mormons, such as the Browns, hold to the Mormon Church's original doctrine that a man should take three wives. Courts have shot down that approach; the Constitution, as usually interpreted, allows wide leeway for laws to prohibit supposedly harmful religious practices (as opposed to religious beliefs or worship).

Now, however, the Brown family argues that it has a right to be left alone under the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision, which struck down laws against gay sex. Lawrence's language powerfully upheld the right to choose one's intimate relationships. Conservatives, starting with the three dissenting justices, have warned ever since that after Lawrence, laws against polygamy and other supposedly objectionable relationships also cannot stand.

Particularly relevant for polyamorists, Kody Brown is legally married only to his first wife, Meri. The others are just girlfriends in the eyes of the law, though they consider themselves divinely married in the logbooks of Heaven. However, Utah law defines the crime of "bigamy" broadly, to include merely living together while married to someone else.

From the Associated Press:

"Sister Wives" clan challenging anti-bigamy law

SALT LAKE CITY — A polygamous family made famous by the reality TV show "Sister Wives" plans to challenge the Utah bigamy law that makes their lifestyle illegal, a Washington-based attorney said Tuesday.

Attorney Jonathan Turley... represents Kody Brown and his four wives, Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn. Brown is only legally married to Meri Brown.

Originally from Lehi, the Browns, who have 16 children, has been featured on the TLC reality show since last fall. They moved out of Utah to Nevada in January after police and Utah County prosecutors launched a bigamy investigation. No charges were ever filed.

...In a statement posted on his blog, Turley said the lawsuit will challenge Utah's right to prosecute people for their private relationships.

"We are not demanding the recognition of polygamous marriage. We are only challenging the right of the state to prosecute people for their private relations and demanding equal treatment with other citizens in living their lives according to their own beliefs," the statement reads.

...Turley said he believes the case represents the "strongest factual and legal basis for a challenge to the criminalization of polygamy" ever filed in the federal courts.

Utah has not prosecuted a polygamist for bigamy since 2001. Tom Green, who was married to five women and drew the attention of Utah authorities after promoting his lifestyle on national TV talk shows, was convicted on bigamy, criminal nonsupport and child rape charges. He spent six years in prison and was released in 2007.

Polygamy in Utah and across the Intermountain West is a legacy of the early teachings of Joseph Smith, founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormons abandoned the practice of plural marriage in the 1890s as a condition of Utah's statehood.

An estimated 38,000 self-described Mormon fundamentalists continue the practice, believing it brings exaltation in heaven. Most keep their way of life a secret out of fear of prosecution, although over the past 10 years an advocacy group made up mostly polygamous women has worked to educate the public and state agencies in Utah and Arizona about the culture.

The Browns have long said they believed making their life public on cable television was a risk worth taking if it helped advance the broader understanding of plural families. The lawsuit appears to be an extension of that belief.

"There are tens of thousands of plural families in Utah and other states. We are one of those families. We only wish to live our private lives according our beliefs," Kody Brown said in a statement released through Turley. "While we understand that this may be a long struggle in court, it has already been a long struggle for my family and other plural families to end the stereotypes and unfair treatment given consensual polygamy."

Read the whole article (July 12, 2011).

A discussion about whether polyamorists should seek to involve themselves in the case, or give patriarchal, male-ruled polygyny a wide berth instead, has been bubbling in the Polyamory Leadership Network (PLN) for the last couple weeks. Said one commenter, "This is being filed directly in federal court, and the legality of the statute is being put squarely at issue. There are not a lot of other issues [such as underage marriages or coercion] clouding up the case. This is just about a best-case scenario for challenging a law's constitutionality."

Here is the full complaint as filed (39-page pdf document). Some highlights relevant to polyamory:

Paragraph #

49-51 Discussion of polyamory.

59-60 The recent Canadian test case (currently awaiting judge's decision).

92-94 Summary of how polygamy was criminalized in Utah.

Recognition of the role of community in polygamy or polyamory.

110 Another recognition of polyamory, in the context of family.

123-148 The Brown family's personal history with the Utah governor's press secretary and the sheriff, which appears to be one of mutual recognition and respect.

149-156 The family's involvement with Utah's Safety Net program (for dealing with actual abuse in polygamist communities).

163-171 How the investigation of them was spurred by the "Sister Wives" show.

Notes PLN member Anita Wagner, "Jonathan Turley is widely interviewed and quoted on constitutional law, and I believe is or was a syndicated columnist who writes on constitutional law issues. I can't think of a more perfect, powerful attorney to take this on; his media visibility is huge."

Indeed, day before yesterday Turley published an op-ed article about the case in the New York Times:

One Big, Happy Polygamous Family

Since the Supreme Court’s 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas, Americans have enjoyed unprecedented freedom in their lifestyles and private relationships. The decision held that states could no longer use the criminal code for social engineering, dictating the most intimate decisions of citizens in their choice of partners and relations. But even as states have abandoned laws criminalizing homosexual and adulterous relations, they have continued to prosecute one group of consenting adults: polygamists.

Last week in Utah, one such family filed a challenge to the state’s criminal law. That family — a man, Kody Brown, and his four wives and 16 children — is the focus of a reality program on the cable channel TLC called “Sister Wives.” One of the marriages is legal and the others are what the family calls “spiritual.” They are not asking for the state to recognize their marriages. They are simply asking for the state to leave them alone.

Utah and eight other states make polygamy a crime, while 49 states have bigamy statutes that can be used to prosecute plural families. And they’re not a small population: the number of fundamentalist Mormon or Christian polygamists alone has been estimated to be as high as 50,000. When Muslim as well as nonreligious plural families are considered, the real number is likely many times greater.

...While widely disliked, if not despised, polygamy is just one form among the many types of plural relationships in our society. It is widely accepted that a person can have multiple partners and have children with such partners. But the minute that person expresses a spiritual commitment and “cohabits” with those partners, it is considered a crime.

One might expect the civil liberties community to defend those cases as a natural extension of its campaign for greater privacy and personal choice. But too many have either been silent or outright hostile to demands from polygamists for the same protections provided to other groups under Lawrence.

The reason might be strategic: some view the effort to decriminalize polygamy as a threat to the recognition of same-sex marriages or gay rights generally. After all, many who opposed the decriminalization of homosexual relations used polygamy as the culmination of a parade of horribles. In his dissent in Lawrence, Justice Antonin Scalia said the case would mean the legalization of “bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality and obscenity.”

Justice Scalia is right in one respect, though not intentionally. Homosexuals and polygamists do have a common interest: the right to be left alone as consenting adults. Otherwise he’s dead wrong. There is no spectrum of private consensual relations — there is just a right of privacy that protects all people so long as they do not harm others....

Ultimately, the question is whether polygamy is allowed under the privacy principles articulated in Lawrence....

Civil libertarians should not be scared away by the arguments of people like Justice Scalia. We should fight for privacy as an inclusive concept, benefiting everyone in the same way....

Read the whole article (appeared in the July 21, 2011, print issue).

And here's an article Turley published in USA Today in 2004 about a previous case:

Polygamy laws expose our own hypocrisy

By Jonathan Turley

Tom Green is an American polygamist. This month, he will appeal his conviction in Utah for that offense to the United States Supreme Court, in a case that could redefine the limits of marriage, privacy and religious freedom.

If the court agrees to take the case, it would be forced to confront a 126-year-old decision allowing states to criminalize polygamy that few would find credible today, even as they reject the practice. And it could be forced to address glaring contradictions created in recent decisions of constitutional law.

...Individuals have a recognized constitutional right to engage in any form of consensual sexual relationship with any number of partners. Thus, a person can live with multiple partners and even sire children from different partners so long as they do not marry. However, when that same person accepts a legal commitment for those partners "as a spouse," we jail them.

Likewise, someone such as singer Britney Spears can have multiple husbands so long as they are consecutive, not concurrent. Thus, Spears can marry and divorce men in quick succession and become the maven of tabloid covers. Yet if she marries two of the men for life, she will become the matron of a state prison....

Read the whole article (Oct. 3, 2004).

This will certainly be a case to watch in the coming months and years.

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