Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Another Death Hoax !

Morgan Freeman won't go down without a fight. The Oscar-winning actor is still alive and kicking, despite reports of his death. We see more TV and film documentaries in his future.

Morgan Freeman

Why would anyone want to kill Morgan Freeman? The talented actor known for his relaxing voice and acting chops is the latest in a line of celebrity victims. This week, he was at the center of Hollywood's newest death hoax.

Bill Cosby death hoax jokester has the last laugh? >>

Despite the ludicrous claims, the 75-year-old actor is still with us. According to E! Online, Freeman's rep confirmed that reports of his death are false.

"Morgan is alive and well, and joins the long list of actors who have been victimized by this hoax."

We're not sure why Freeman's always at the center of such morbid news. This isn't the first time he's "died" online. Back in 2010, he was also rumored to have passed on.

The news was generated by a false tweet sent via CNN. After hearing of the error, the network quickly apologized for any confusion.

They replied, "CNN did not report Morgan Freeman death. Rumor is false. CNN will aggressively investigate this hoax."

That was then, so what happened this time? One of the main culprits is a Facebook page, which joined the site Sept. 5. It's titled "R.I.P. Morgan Freeman" and has over 66,000 likes. But if you look at its "About" section, you'll see a strange contradiction. It says, "He's still alive and well, stop believing what you see on the internet."

Freeman may be in his 70s, but he's working harder than ever. This summer, he appeared in one of the highest-grossing movies of the year, The Dark Knight Rises. Can we please stop taking him out before his time? He has more narrating to do!

Zombies for Romney !

Mitt Romney'ws Legacy !

Steve Jobs: The Secular Prophet

For every magical thing Steve Jobs revealed in his Apple keynote addresses, there were many other things he concealed. Like the devices he created, his life was more and more opaque even while becoming more and more celebrated. So his death this week came as a shock for nearly all of us, even though we knew that only grave illness could be keeping him from the company he co-founded and loved. He told us almost nothing about his prognosis—right through his last public appearance he was as turtleneck-clad and upbeat as ever. But suddenly, this week, he was gone.


Portrait by Tim O'Brien

Portrait of Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs was extraordinary in countless ways—as a designer, an innovator, a (demanding and occasionally ruthless) leader. But his most singular quality was his ability to articulate a perfectly secular form of hope. Nothing exemplifies that ability more than Apple's early logo, which slapped a rainbow on the very archetype of human fallenness and failure—the bitten fruit—and turned it into a sign of promise and progress.

That bitten apple was just one of Steve Jobs's many touches of genius, capturing the promise of technology in a single glance. The philosopher Albert Borgmann has observed that technology promises to relieve us of the burden of being merely human, of being finite creatures in a harsh and unyielding world. The biblical story of the Fall pronounced a curse upon human work—"cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life." All technology implicitly promises to reverse the curse, easing the burden of creaturely existence. And technology is most celebrated when it is most invisible—when the machinery is completely hidden, combining godlike effortlessness with blissful ignorance about the mechanisms that deliver our disburdened lives.

Brett Arends discusses on Lunch Break why he believes Steve Jobs was the best chief executive of his generation and wasn't just a technology genius but also a hype master.

No company combined simplicity and hiddenness better than Apple under Mr. Jobs's leadership. Apple made technology not for geeks but for cool people—and ordinary people. It made products that worked, beautifully, without fuss and with great style. They improved markedly, unmistakably, from one generation to the next—not in the way geeks wanted technology to improve, with ever longer lists of features (I'm looking at you, Microsoft Word) and technical specifications, but in simplicity. Press the single button on the face of the iPad and, whether you are 5 or 95, you can begin using it with almost no instruction. It has no manual. You cannot open it up to see its inner workings even if you want to. No geeks required—or allowed. The iPad offers its blessings to ordinary mortals.

WSJ Personal Technology Columnist Walt Mossberg joins this special edition of Digits to discuss Steve Jobs's post-PC vision for the future and what his path would have been had he lived longer, as well as what he believes motivated him throughout his legendary career.

And so it came to pass that in the 2000s, when much about the wider world was causing Americans intense anxiety and frustration, the one thing that got inarguably better, much better, was our personal technology.

In October 2001, with the ruins of the World Trade Center still smoldering and the Internet financial bubble burst, Apple introduced the iPod. In January 2010, in the depths of the Great Recession, the very month when unemployment breached 10% for the first time in a generation, Apple introduced the iPad.



A tribute to Steve Jobs in front of a Tokyo Apple store Thursday. The 2000s were defined by disappointments—except technologically, as Mr. Jobs strode on stage always with another miracle in his pocket.

Politically, militarily, economically, the decade was defined by disappointment after disappointment—but technologically, it was defined by a series of elegantly produced events in which Steve Jobs, commanding more attention and publicity each time, strode on stage with a miracle in his pocket.

Steve Jobs was the evangelist of this particular kind of progress—and he was the perfect evangelist because he had no competing source of hope. He believed so sincerely in the "magical, revolutionary" promise of Apple precisely because he believed in no higher power. In his celebrated Stanford commencement address (which is itself an elegant, excellent model of the genre), he spoke frankly about his initial cancer diagnosis in 2003. It's worth pondering what Jobs did, and didn't, say:

Betaworks CEO John Borthwick and Dow Jones's Neal Lipschutz discuss Apple's future and the challenges any company faces after the loss of its innovator-in-chief.

"No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It's life's change agent; it clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now, the new is you. But someday, not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it's quite true. Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice, heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become."

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs died on Wednesday at age 56. Wall Street Journal managing editor Alan Murray and editors discuss Jobs's legacy, early reactions to his death and how his showmanship changed the retail and tech landscape.

This is the gospel of a secular age. It has the great virtue of being based only on what we can all perceive—it requires neither revelation nor dogma. And it promises nothing it cannot deliver—since all that is promised is the opportunity to live your own unique life, a hope that is manifestly realizable since it is offered by one who has so spectacularly succeeded by following his own "inner voice, heart and intuition."

Mr. Jobs was by no means the first person to articulate this vision of a meaningful life—Socrates, the Buddha and Emerson come to mind. To be sure, fully embracing this secular gospel requires an austerity of spirit that few have been able to muster, even if it sounds quite fine on the lawn of Stanford University.

Upon close inspection, this gospel offers no hope that you cannot generate yourself and only the comfort of having been true to yourself. In the face of tragedy and evil—the kind of tragedy that cuts off lives not just at 56 years old but at 5 or 6, the kind of evil bent on eradicating whole tribes and nations from the earth—it is strangely inert.

Perhaps every human system of meaning fails or at least falls silent in the face of these harsh realities, but the gospel of self-fulfillment does require an extra helping of stability and privilege to be plausible. Death is "life's change agent"? For most human beings, that would sound like cold comfort indeed.

But the genius of Steve Jobs was to persuade us, at least for a little while, that cold comfort is enough. The world—at least the part of the world in our laptop bags and our pockets, the devices that display our unique lives to others and reflect them to ourselves—will get better. This is the sense in which the tired old cliché of "the Apple faithful" and the "cult of the Mac" is true. It is a religion of hope in a hopeless world, hope that your ordinary and mortal life can be elegant and meaningful, even if it will soon be dated, dusty and discarded like a 2001 iPod.

It is said that human beings can live for 40 days without food, four days without water and four minutes without air. But we cannot live for four seconds without hope.

It's probably true for nations as well.

Mr. Jobs's final leave of absence was announced this year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. And, as it happened, Mr. Jobs died on the same day as one of Dr. King's companions, the Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth, one of the last living co-founders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Dr. King, too, had had a close encounter with his own mortality when he was stabbed by a mentally ill woman at a book signing in 1958. He told that story a decade later to a rally on the night of April 3, 1968, and then turned, with unsettling foresight, to the possibility of his own early death. His words, at the beginning, could easily have been a part of Steve Jobs's commencement address:

"Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now."

But here Dr. King, the civic and religious leader, turned a corner that Mr. Jobs never did. "I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land! And so I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything, I'm not fearing any man! Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!"

Is it possible to live a good, full, human life without that kind of hope? Steve Jobs would have said yes in a heartbeat. A convert to Zen Buddhism, he was convinced as anyone could be that this life is all there is. He hoped to put a "ding in the universe" by his own genius and vision in this life alone—and who can deny that he did?

But the rest of us, as grateful as we are for his legacy, still have to decide whether technology's promise is enough to take us to the promised land. Is technology enough? Has the curse truly been repealed? Is the troublesome world simply awaiting another Steve Jobs, the evangelist of our power to unfold our own possibilities?

And, correspondingly, was the hope beyond themselves, and beyond this life, that animated Dr. King and his companions merely superfluous to the success of their cause, an accident of religious history rather than a civic necessity?

For people of a secular age, Steve Jobs's gospel may seem like all the good news we need. But people of another age would have considered it a set of beautifully polished empty promises, notwithstanding all its magical results. Indeed, they would have been suspicious of it precisely because of its magical results.

And that may be true of a future age as well. Our grandchildren may discover that technological progress, for all its gifts, is the exception rather than the rule. It works wonders within its own walled garden, but it falters when confronted with the worst of the world and the worst in ourselves. Indeed, it may be that rather than concealing difficulty and relieving burdens, the only way forward in the most tenacious human troubles is to embrace difficulty and take up burdens—in Dr. King's words, to embrace a "dangerous unselfishness."

Whatever the limits of Steve Jobs's secular gospel, or for that matter of Dr. King's Christian one, our keen sense of loss at his passing reminds us that the oxygen of human societies is hope. Steve Jobs kept hope alive. We will not soon see his like again. Let us hope that when we do, it is soon enough to help us deal with the troubles that this century, and every century, will bring.

—Mr. Crouch is the author of "Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling" and an editor-at-large at Christianity Today.

Lamdscape at NMAI !

Sharing Perspectives at the National Museum of the American Indian

The Building The Landscape The Collection
The Landscape

Special attention has been paid to the grounds of the National Museum of the American Indian. The landscape has been designed to show a close connection to nature and features many native plants, a water feature, and some very important rocks. The museum asked Native communities to choose rocks that had special meaning to them to become a welcoming and culturally important feature of the museum landscape.

Grandfather Rocks

Grandfather Rocks
Grandfather Rocks surround the National Museum of the American Indian.

Many American Indian cultures believe rocks to be the oldest living things in the world, worthy of the same respect you would give to your elders. More than 40 large, uncarved boulders, called Grandfather Rocks, serve as the elders of the NMAI landscape. These Grandfather Rocks welcome visitors to the museum grounds and serve as reminders of the longevity of Native peoples’ relationships to the environment and the past. All rocks have a “memory” of the earth’s past, so it is very important to Native people to honor that memory and the knowledge of the times that humans do not know.

The orientation of the Grandfather Rocks at the museum is exactly the same as that in their original setting of Alma in the province of Quebec, Canada. This was done as a gesture of respect for the rocks, so that they would not become disoriented in their new location. Prior to being transported to Washington, DC, the Grandfather Rocks were blessed by the Montaignais First Nations to ensure a safe journey and to carry the message and cultural memory of past generations to future generations. The rocks were also blessed when they arrived at the museum.

Cardinal Markers

Other special stones have been placed at selected points on the museum grounds to mark the four cardinal directions, east, south, west and north. These very important stones serve as a reminder of all the indigenous peoples of the Americas. The stones journeyed to the National Museum of the American Indian from the far reaches of the Western Hemisphere in collaboration with their Native source communities. Each stone was blessed by the communities before making the journey to the museum.


The stone at the western point is A’a lava from a volcano in Hilo, Hawaii. It is among the youngest of rocks known in the Hemisphere, only about 300-400 years old, and was given to the museum by the Native people of Hawaii. This stone is very important to the Hawaiian people because they believe it is a living member of their community. For this reason, the rock at the museum will be returned to Hawaii in twenty years and another one will be sent to replace it.

The West Cardinal Direction Marker from Hawaii.


The stone at the eastern point was given by Native American tribes from Maryland and Virginia. It is Quartzite that came from Sugarloaf Mountain in the state of Maryland. When the community was looking for a rock to give to the museum, this one stood out for a very special reason. When the people approached it, a great number of butterflies flew up from behind the rock and fluttered around their heads. It was a good sign.

The East Cardinal Direction Marker from Great Falls Maryland


The stone at the northern point comes from Yellowknife in the province of the Northwest Territories, Canada. It is a type of rock known as Acasta Gneiss, and is among the oldest known stones on the earth, over 3.9 billion years, and was provided as a gift by the Dogrib First Nation. This rock had to be lifted from its original location by a helicopter because no trucks or other machinery could get into the area to move it.

The North Cardinal Direction Marker from Northern Canada


The southern stone is another type of Gneiss and it came from Tierra del Fuego in Chile, South America. It was donated by the Yagan people of Isla Navarino. They chose this rock because it once stood in the center of their old village. When they had to move their village to a new location, everyone remembered this rock as an important part of the life of their community. They decided to honor the rock by sending it to Washington, DC.

The South Cardinal Direction marker from Punto Arenas, Chile

The Grounds

Map of Museum

Native people believe that the earth remembers the experiences of past generations. The National Museum of the American Indian recognizes the importance of indigenous peoples' connection to the land; the grounds surrounding the building are considered an extension of the building and a vital part of the museum as a whole. By recalling the natural environment that existed in the Washington, DC, area prior to European contact, the museum's landscape design embodies a theme the runs central to NMAI — that of returning to a Native place. More than 33,000 plants of 150 species can be found throughout the landscape and its four habitats.

A forest environment runs along the northern edge of the museum site. Forests have provided indigenous cultures with important materials for shelter, firewood, medicines, and other purposes. More than 25 tree species are included in the forest, including red maple, staghorn sumac, and white oak.

Culturally important to many tribes, wetlands are rich, biologically diverse environments. Wild rice, morel mushrooms, marsh marigolds, cardinal flowers, and silky willows are among the species planted at the eastern end of the museum site. The wetlands represent the Tiber Creek and tidal marsh that once existed here.

Buttercups, fall panic grass, and sunflowers are among the plants featured in the meadow, located southwest of the museum building.

The traditional cropland area on the south side of the building features medicinal plants and some of the food crops that Native peoples have given to the world, including tobacco and the "Three Sisters" — corn, beans, and squash. The plants in this area are cultivated using traditional Native agricultural techniques.

How the 1 Percent conjured a monster storm !

Chris Williams, author of Ecology and Socialism: Solutions to Capitalist Ecological Crisis, examines the man-made factors contributing to the disaster of Hurricane Sandy.
October 30, 2012
"If the study to which you apply yourself has a tendency to weaken your affections, and to destroy your taste for those simple pleasures in which no alloy can possibly mix, then that study is certainly unlawful, that is to say, not befitting the human mind. If this rule were always observed; if no man allowed any pursuit whatsoever to interfere with the tranquility of his domestic affections, Greece had not been enslaved; Caesar would have spared his country; America would have been discovered more gradually; and the empires of Mexico and Peru had not been destroyed."
-- Dr. Victor Frankenstein, in Frankenstein, or, the Modern Prometheus, by Mary Shelley
Manhattan deluged by flooding as Hurricane Sandy strikes   
Manhattan deluged by flooding as Hurricane Sandy strikes

THERE IS little doubt that freakish and unnaturally assembled storms are a taste of what the future holds under an economic system that has "interfered with the tranquility of domestic affections" and galvanized the forces of nature into a fury of clashing dislocations as we pump ever-more heat-trapping gases into our atmosphere and industrial filth into our lungs.
The riptides of climate change are beginning to tear at the fabric of our biosphere as the earth's climate system lurches, in ungainly and lumbering jerks, from the relatively dormant and benign stability of the last 10,000 years, toward a more volatile, violent and less hospitable new climatic state, previously unknown to human civilization.

It's therefore quite apt to allude to Mary Shelley's great work of gothic horror by giving the name "Frankenstorm" to the confluence of Hurricane Sandy and a cold front crossing the Northeastern U.S. Particularly as Shelley herself offered a symbolic criticism of the inner dynamics of capitalism and class society in Frankenstein, captured in the quote above, as the conflicted Victor recounts his tale and the uncontrollable forces he has unleashed as a result of his compulsion to continue with his project, despite the warning signs proliferating around him.

The obsession that took over Victor--his growing alienation from the world, which makes him forsake friends, family, even sustenance--is echoed on a global scale by the unquenchable thirst for profits of the global capitalist monster, which eats through our lives and our planet in search of fresh fields for exploitation and growth.

The fact that Victor's uncontrollable quest consumed him in its flames when his creation turned against him won't stop similar warning signs from preventing capitalism eating itself--and taking the rest of the planet down with it.
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THAT HUMAN-induced climate change is part of the reason for Hurricane Sandy--the "largest hurricane in Atlantic history," according to the Capital Weather Gang, as measured by the 1,040-mile diameter of its gale-force winds--is explained by Dr. Kevin E. Trenberth, a distinguished senior scientist in the climate analysis section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research:
The sea surface temperatures along the Atlantic coast have been running at over 3 degrees Celsius above normal for a region extending 800 kilometers offshore, all the way from Florida to Canada. Global warming contributes 0.6 degrees Celsius to this. With every 1 degree Celsius, the water-holding of the atmosphere goes up 7 percent, and the moisture provides fuel for the tropical storm, increases its intensity and magnifies the rainfall by double that amount compared with normal conditions.

Global climate change has contributed to the higher sea surface and ocean temperatures and a warmer and moister atmosphere, and its effects are in the range of 5 to 10 percent. Natural variability and weather has provided the perhaps optimal conditions of a hurricane running into extra-tropical conditions to make for a huge intense storm, enhanced by global warming influences.
As the climate continues to warm, the effect will only increase, leading to more extreme weather events, flooding and drought, as outlined in two recent Nature articles.

And warm it will. Not because we don't have answers to prevent that from happening and derive our energy from sources other than fossil fuels, but because it's simply too profitable to change.

There is a compulsion inherent to capitalism; the propellant force of profit that powers further growth in a perpetual feedback loop, whereby the colossal forces of production are testing the limits of the planet to absorb the battering its biosphere is taking.

Never has Karl Marx and Frederick Engels' comment in the Communist Manifestoon the nature of capitalism been so apposite:
Modern bourgeois society, with its relations of production, of exchange and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells.
At this point, as a thunderous storm barrels up the east coast of the United States--which still suffers from an unprecedented drought in other parts of the country--it seems indisputable that the capitalist system has put the entire web of life on a collision course with a stable biosphere and climate system. One of those systems has to give, and there is no indication that it will be capitalism.
To the extent that anything is being done internationally to address the inextricably intertwined ecological and social crises, the answer seems to be to hack down the last vestiges of humanity's common heritage via the sword of privatization.
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THIS IS clear in terms of oil production, which, along with other fossil fuels, needs to peak and start to decline in the next five years if we are to avoid irreversible climate change, according to the International Energy Agency. Instead, oil production is projected to rise from its current 80 million barrels per day to 110 million barrels by 2020, as oil companies seek to exploit their reserves and drill for more.

Along with higher profits for oil companies due to the price of oil, the Age of Obama has helped to usher in a gusher of new exploration and increases in output that, according to an Associated Press report quoting research by Citibank, means the U.S. could soon rival Saudi Arabia as the largest producer of oil on the planet and make the U.S. "the new Middle East":
The Energy Department forecasts that U.S. production of crude and other liquid hydrocarbons, which includes biofuels, will average 11.4 million barrels per day next year. That would be a 40-year high for the U.S. and just below Saudi Arabia's output of 11.6 million barrels. Citibank forecasts U.S. production could reach 13 million to 15 million barrels per day by 2020, helping to make North America "the new Middle East."
While Obama repeatedly boasts of his administration's commitment to lay enough pipeline to encircle the earth--and has taken Romney to task with ads accusing the Republican of being "anti-coal," U.S. coal exports are at record highs due to the expansion of another fossil fuel: fracked natural gas.

So even as U.S. carbon emissions have decreased due to coal plants shutting down and being replaced by natural gas, there has been a bonanza for U.S. coal companies exporting their product abroad--leading to no net reduction in carbon emissions for the world as a whole. In fact, quite the opposite is the case, making a mockery of the argument that natural gas is somehow a "transition" or "bridge" fuel to a cleaner energy future--leaving aside the intensely polluting effects of the fracking process itself.

Perhaps this is why the Obama administration recently abandoned its commitment to keeping global temperature increases below the absolutely critical threshold of 2 degrees Celsius, which it had formally adopted just two years ago.

That's no wonder as the number of drilling permits granted in the Gulf of Mexico is set to exceed he number issued in 2007, and production will be higher still, a mere two years after the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. According to the Times-Picayune:
Two years after the White House lifted a moratorium on deepwater drilling in the wake of the BP oil spill, federal regulators have issued the most permits for new wells since 2007, and many in the industry expect oil production in the Gulf of Mexico to soon exceed pre-spill levels.
No doubt all this extra domestic production is helping ConocoPhillips, the world's ninth largest corporation, rake in cash from planetary ecocide. On October 25, ConocoPhillips announced its third quarter profits had come in at $1.8 billion. Meanwhile, the company receives $600 million in tax breaks annually while sitting on $1.3 billion in cash reserves and the former CEO, James Mulva, "earned" $18.92 million in total compensation in 2011.
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IN LIGHT of Frankenstorm Sandy, I bet Obama is now wishing he'd had some small reserve of political principle left to at least mention climate change in one of the stultifying presidential debates. Instead, the two candidates, whenever talking about energy, sparred over who would burn greater amounts of fossil fuels and more swiftly transform the earth into a burnt cinder.

As the New York Times reported, "Even after a year of record-smashing temperatures, drought and Arctic ice melt, none of the moderators of the four general-election debates asked about climate change, nor did either of the candidates broach the topic."

As the Times wrote:
For all their disputes, President Obama and Mitt Romney agree that the world is warming and that humans are at least partly to blame. It remains wholly unclear what either of them plans to do about it...

Throughout the campaign, Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney have seemed most intent on trying to outdo each other as lovers of coal, oil and natural gas--the very fuels most responsible for rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
In fact, even as the science of climate change has vastly improved and the pronunciations of climate scientists become ever more definitive--not to mention desperate--this was the first set of debates not to mention climate change in a generation! Not since before 1988--when even Republican vice presidential candidate Dan Quayle thought it was a problem that should be tackled--has climate change not been addressed by candidates during these national debates.

Not only did the candidates clearly have no interest in addressing the issue, neither did the moderator of the second debate, CNN's Candy Crowley--despite a petition signed by no less than 160,000 people demanding that debate moderators at least include a question on climate change.
Crowley excused her omission on this basis: "Climate change, I had that question...All you climate change people. We just, you know, again, we knew that the economy was still the main thing." Only the candidates did manage to find time to debate the issue of gun control, despite its less-than-direct connection to the economy.

In point of fact, the whole reason why the candidates don't want to discuss climate change is precisely because of the economy'--specifically, the U.S. economy--which depends, as no other in the world, on fossil fuel energy.

Speaking later in an interview for MTV about the complete lack of discussion of climate change in the debates, President Obama expressed his "surprise" that it hadn't come up--as if the president of the United States has no ability to raise issues in a presidential debate!

This effectively puts Obama to the right of the group Young Evangelicals for Climate Action. Members of the group car-pooled their way to the second debate on Long Island in order to pray in the parking lot for a mention of climate change and the adoption of government policies such as taxing carbon emissions and helping the poor deal with the effects of climate change.

While I have a tactical disagreement with regard to the effectiveness of their chosen method, I couldn't agree more with the group's spokesperson Ben Lowe: "This is a long fight that we are committed to fighting."
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SO THE critical question becomes: Is voting for Obama as the lesser of two climate evils part of that long fight? My answer is the same as Chris Hedges' in his excellent article on Truthdig, and consists of a definitive no:
The November election is not a battle between Republicans and Democrats. It is not a battle between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. It is a battle between the corporate state and us. And if we do not immediately engage in this battle, we are finished, as climate scientists have made clear...

The corporate state has successfully waged a campaign of fear to disempower voters and citizens. By intimidating voters through a barrage of propaganda with the message that Americans have to vote for the lesser evil and that making a defiant stand for justice and democracy is counterproductive, it cements into place the agenda of corporate domination we seek to thwart.

This fear campaign, skillfully disseminated by the $2.5 billion spent on political propaganda, has silenced real political opposition. It has turned those few politicians and leaders who have the courage to resist, such as [Green Party candidate Jill] Stein and Ralph Nader, into pariahs, denied a voice in the debates and the national discourse. Capitulation, silence and fear, however, are not a strategy. They will guarantee everything we seek to avoid.
As Hedges points out, throughout history, our side has only won anything when we have independently organized--and built movements and political parties outside of, and in opposition to, mainstream parties and politics.

Such movements have the power to affect the mainstream dialogue in the U.S. One of the best illustrations of this is Richard Nixon's 1970 State of the Union Address, which includes a lengthy discussion on the need to address the "great question of the '70s" and whether we:
shall...surrender to our surroundings, or shall we make our peace with nature and begin to make reparations for the damage we have done to our air, to our land, and to our water?

Restoring nature to its natural state is a cause beyond party and beyond factions. It has become a common cause of all the people of this country. It is a cause of particular concern to young Americans, because they more than we will reap the grim consequences of our failure to act on programs which are needed now if we are to prevent disaster later.

Clean air, clean water, open spaces--these should once again be the birthright of every American. If we act now, they can be.
Though Nixon was an unquestionably right-wing megalomaniac who caused untold suffering, mass murder and environmental devastation in Southeast Asia, he felt compelled, by a growing mass movement on the ground independent of the Democrats, to reign in corporate power with the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, and to sign legislation that established many of the most effective environmental regulations we still have on the books.
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WHILE I think that Nicholas Carne's argument in a recent op-ed article in the New York Times contradicts his claim about living in a "great democracy," the article nevertheless illustrates what's really going on with U.S. elections:
Elections are supposed to give us choices. We can reward incumbents or we can throw the bums out. We can choose Republicans or Democrats. We can choose conservative policies or progressive ones.

In most elections, however, we don't get a say in something important: whether we're governed by the rich. By Election Day, that choice has usually been made for us. Would you like to be represented by a millionaire lawyer or a millionaire businessman? Even in our great democracy, we rarely have the option to put someone in office who isn't part of the elite.
Precisely. And those representatives of the elite will sponsor and push policies which favor their class, not ours. And if those policies contradict a broader reality, such as calling in to question the stability of the entire planetary climate system, so be it.

Which means that I'm far more interested in working with people, forging alliances and building a climate justice movement with anyone who wants to fight against the ruling elite in the intervening 1,460 days before the next competition between two representatives of the corporate 1 Percent than I am in whether someone is voting for the lesser of two evils on November 6.

And in those struggles, I'm far more likely to be doing that by linking arms with the Young Evangelicals for Climate Action than I am with Obama and his coterie of Democratic Party operatives.

For many environmentalists, it seems easier to imagine the end of the world than it does the end of the economic and social system known as capitalism. I disagree with that as a premise, if we don't get rid of capitalism, there won't be much of a world left to imagine.

Therefore, even as we build a broad-based movement to fight for real reforms within the system--to slow down the monster of runaway, fossil-fueled capitalism that is creating Frankenstorms and much else in the way of ecological and social devastation--we need a vision for a completely different social system.

This means locating the practical and ideological operation of capitalism and environmental degradation within a unified framework that requires its replacement with a system based on cooperation, real democracy, sustainable production for need and the earth held in common trust by all the people in the interests of future generations. Only then, by that revolutionary social change, can we hope to avoid cataclysmic dismemberment of global ecosystems via anthropogenic climate change.

The agent of that change is not on the ballot. For there is another way to read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein--the monster that the reader sympathizes with, manufactured and brought to life by the bourgeois Dr. Frankenstein, is so enraged by his oppression and exploitation that he is the representative for the revolutionary overthrow of his creator and antagonist.

In other words, Dr. Frankenstein, much like capitalism, has created his own gravedigger, in the shape of the organized workers, peasants and communities who must fight in the streets, fields and forests of the world for the emancipation of ourselves and our planet.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How to Use Facebook and Twitter Without the Internet

As Hurricane Sandy makes its way up the Eastern Seaboard, many are without electricity. Without power you could lose your access to Internet via Wi-Fi and, potentially, access to mobile networks. If that happens, how can you still post on Facebook and Twitter to let your friends and family know that everything is fine? Or ask for help?

You can use good-old text messages.

To tweet, first you need to enable your mobile phone on, so do it now while you can. Go to your Twitter homepage, then to “Settings” and then “Mobile.” Insert your cellphone number under “Activate Twitter text messaging,” and then you’ll have to text “GO” to the number 40404.

Once you’ve done that, you should receive a text message telling you that your phone is now activated. You should also see new settings on the webpage that allow you to enable or disable text notifications.

Now, to tweet, just write a text and send it to 40404.

To find out more about how to use other Twitter functionalities without an Internet connection, check Twitter’s official guide.

SEE ALSO: Google Launches Crisis Map for Hurricane Sandy:

If you’re more of a Facebook fan, worry not. You can update your status via SMS as well and the social network also gives you the ability to subscribe to your friends’ updates and even use Facebook chat. Again, to access these functionalities, you first need to link your mobile phone to your Facebook account.

Log into and go to your “Account Settings,” which you can find under the arrow next to your name on the top bar. Then go to “Mobile,” introduce your number and click on “Activate Text Messaging.” You’ll have to select your country and your carrier. Once you’ve done that, follow the instructions on the screen and text the letter “F” to the number 32665.

Finally, you will receive a confirmation number on your phone. Insert that number on the page. You should then receive a text message that will confirm that your phone is activated.

Now, to update your status, you simply have to write it in a text and send it to 32665
Twitter Is a Dangerous Lie Generator, Not a Truth Machine

There’s a funny juxtaposition in the right-hand column of Buzzfeed today: One highlighted piece, by staff tech writer John Herrman, is titled, “Twitter Is a Truth Machine,” and it delves into the idea that Twitter, despite its flaws, is a beacon for virtuous honesty in time of need. Right next to that article, ironically, is one by BuzzFeed contributor Jack Stuef. In that one, Stuef uncovers Shashank Tripathi, a New York-based GOP campaign consultant who deliberately spread misinformation about Hurricane Sandy via his Twitter account last night. It makes sense for Stuef’s piece to be on top in the image, because if Twitter is anything, it’s a hive of lies.

In all fairness, Twitter has indeed become a place for private citizens, journalists, corporations, and civic entities to come together and exchange information on the fly. In some cases, that can be wildly beneficial, like when Barack Obama uses his official Twitter account to offer short missives to the nation. Or, as Herrman notes in his piece, like when Con Edison’s Twitter account was used last night to dispel the rumor that several ConEd employees were trapped in a badly damaged power plant.

But what Herrman fails to properly address is the fact that, if it weren’t for Twitter, via which several different news outlets wrongly claimed ConEd workers were trapped in a plant, ConEd might not have had to address the imperiled-workers lie in the first place.

Then there was the rumor, started at around 11:45 last evening, that the Coney Island Hospital was on fire and firefighters had no way of getting there, leaving the structure to burn. Naturally, the thought of sick people roasting to death in the middle of a hurricane was enough to get panicking Twitter fiends to put out a call far and wide for help. There was just one problem: Once again, that rumor was total bullshit. There was no fire in the Coney Island Hospital—it was a car burning nearby. Of course, that didn’t stop thousands and thousands of people and news organizations, apparently tipped off by a police scanner Twitter feed, from tweeting that the Coney Island Hospital was on fire with no chance of rescue.

It’s not always great to trade in “what ifs,” but here, as we continue trying to piece together just what the hell happened last night, it seems appropriate: What if you’d been a New York resident whose mother was in the Coney Island Hospital during Hurricane Sandy? What if you’d read on Twitter, with no way to call and verify the information, that the hospital was burning down? Might you have, against your better judgment, raced into the night and faced the downed power lines and crumbling trees and buildings to try and rescue your mother from smoke inhalation? I think I might have done that, and I think a lot of other people would have, too. When you finally arrived to the hospital—if you had the good fortune of arriving there without dying—and it wasn’t burning, do you think you’d ever call Twitter, whose rotten lies led you to risk your life over bullshit, a “truth machine”? Doubtful. You’d probably wish for Hurricane Sandy to gain momentum and topple Twitter’s San Francisco offices (with no employees inside, obviously), and nobody would blame you.

To be sure, I think Twitter is a very useful tool for disseminating jokes and, less frequently, important information. I also agree with Herrman to a degree when he calls the microblogging site “a fact-processing machine on a grand scale, propagating then destroying rumors at a neck-snapping pace.” But let’s not kid ourselves and claim that Twitter is a safe haven for truth in an otherwise mendacious and reckless hellscape. Twitter is a place, just like the real world, where overeager and wildly faulty rubberneckers spread unchecked nonsense at lightning-quick speeds. The truth eventually yielded there in desperate situations, while welcomed, is also very often only a dab of salve to soothe the burns from countless lies.

Brazil: Homeland or mass suicide, Guarani-Kaiowa tribe threaten suicide over loss of land

Homeland or mass suicide, Brazil’s Guarani-Kaiowa tribe says
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Members of Brazil’s indigenous Guarani-Kaiowa tribe
Members of Brazil’s indigenous Guarani-Kaiowa tribe
About 170 members of the indigenous Guarani-Kaiowa tribe in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul have threatened to commit mass suicide if they are evicted from their agricultural farm.
This week, a Brazilian court ordered members of the indigenous tribe to vacate the Cambar’s farm immediately, but some 100 adults and 70 children said they would kill themselves en masse before leaving the farm, Press TV correspondent Rony Curvelo reported on Tuesday.
The threat was made in a letter to the Indigenous Missionary Council, in which the Indians also said they would not abide by the decision of the court. The Indians say they are not going to leave the region they call tekoha, which means ancestral cemetery.
According to the court's decision, the Indians must leave the farm and if they do not, the National Foundation of Indians (FUNAI) will have to pay a fine of approximately $250 per day.
“We Indians have the constitutional right to occupy our land. We will continue to fight,” Guarani tribal chief Vera Popygua told Press TV.
“We demand respect. Our people have been massacred; they have killed our leaders; and that is sad and unacceptable. We are an advanced society and living in the 21st century. This cannot happen and should not happen,” he stated.
According to the Indigenous Missionary Council, the suicide rate among members of the Guarani-Kaiowa tribe has risen recently, to the point where one commits suicide approximately every six days because of the stress of the threat of being evicted from their land.
In the letter sent to the court, the indigenous group demanded that the decision be overruled, saying they would not leave the land of their ancestors under any circumstances. They also asked the court to secure their right to be buried at the location, so that even in death, they would remain in their homeland.
Carolina Bellinger of the Pro-Indigenous Council of Sao Paulo said, “The rights of indigenous people of Brazil have been under fire for a long time.”
“And despite a series of laws that were created to guarantee their rights, the reality is something else. Brazil must obey international agreements and demarcate their land. Our Congress is slow, and Indians cannot survive until it decides,” she added.
(Source: Press TV)
Brazilian Indians threaten suicide over loss of land
Tue Oct 23, 2012 7:4AM GMT
Rony Curvelo, Press TV, Brazil
 225 39

loss of land
Tue Oct 23, 2012 7:4AM GMT
Rony Curvelo, Press TV, Brazil

More on Savage Israel - please use this updated version

More On Savage Israel — An Analysis (27 October 2012) by Lawrence Davidson 

Part I – Savagery On-Going

In my last analysis I noted that a Zionist organization run by the Islamophobe  Pamela Geller is posting messages on buses and subways calling for support for Israel.  The messages claim that Israel represents the “civilized man” in a struggle against Jihadist “savagery.”  I questioned Israel’s qualifications for civilized status in the earlier piece, but am drawn back to the subject by the almost daily revelations of the Zionist state’s questionable behavior.  It is not that the Jihadist cannot be a savage at times, it is that the Israeli government seems quite incapable of being civilized.  For instance:

– On 16 October 2012 the Israeli organization Yazkern hosted dozens of veterans of  Israel’s 1948 “War of Independence” for a look at what that struggle really entailed.  The veterans testified to what can only be called a conscious effort at ethnic cleansing–the systematic destruction of entire Palestinian villages and numerous massacres.  A documentary film by  Israeli-Russian journalist Lia Tarachansky, dealing with this same subject, the Palestinian “Nakba” or catastrophe, is nearing  completion.  It too has the testimony of Israeli soldiers of the 1948 war.  These latest revelations lend credence to the claims of Israel’s “new historians” such as Ilan Pappe who have written books based on evidence gleamed from government archives showing that, even before the outbreak of hostilities leading to the creation of the State of Israel, the Zionist authorities planned to ethnically cleanse as much of Palestine as possible of non-Jews.   The aim of Yazkern’s effort at truth-telling is to break through the  sanitized “mainstream nationalistic narrative” of 1948  and the accompanying denial of any legitimate Palestinian counter-narrative.” 

– OK.  The Israelis were savages in 1948 and only a small minority will admit it. What about after “the War of Independence”? As it turns out the ethnic cleansing never stopped.  Conveniently, the long-standing denial that it ever started has helped to hide the fact of its on-going nature.  Yet just this week we received the news that Defense Minister Ehud Barak has given the order to demolish eight Palestinian villages with some 1500 residents in the south Hebron hills. The excuse offered by Barack is that the land is needed for military training exercises.  According to the “new historians,” this is a standard Israeli government cover for ethnic cleansing.  Sure, for a couple of years the Israeli army will use the land that held the demolished villages.  Then, almost inevitably, the area becomes the site of a new Israeli Jewish settlement.  

– On 20 October 2012 Al-Jazeera reported on Israeli documents showing that between 2008 and 2010 the Israeli army allowed food supplies into the Gaza Strip based on a daily calorie count that held the basic diet of a million and half people to a point just short of malnutrition. According to the Israeli human rights organization Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, “the official goal of the policy was to wage economic warfare which would paralyze Gaza’s economy and, according to the Defense Ministry, create pressure on the Hamas government.”  Actually, this bit of savagery predates 2008.  Back in 2006Dov Weissglass, then an .,,,.advisor to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, stated that “the idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.”  Of course, precedents for this can be found in the treatment of European Jews in the 1930s and 1940s.  One assumes that Mr. Weissglass was aware of this. 

However, just as with the barbarism practiced in the “War of Independence,” in this case too there is a well practiced capacity for national denial.  According to Gideon Levy writing in Haaretz, “the country has plenty of ways…of burying skeletons deep in the closet so that Israelis shouldn’t be overly disturbed.”  The military authors of the document that turned Weissglass’s hideous “idea” into savage practice,  operated in “a country afflicted with blindness.”  Just so the present Israeli government does not worry about public unease over the fact that it is slowly but surely destroying the Gaza sewage system and rendering its water supply undrinkable. 

– Then there are the petty acts of cruelty that can be considered telltale signs of savagery.  For instance, the fact that Israeli customs officials  held back the the exam sheets for the October 2012 College Board tests bound for the West Bank graduating high school seniors.  AMIDEAST, the organization that serves as the testing agency for the Palestinian territories, had made sure the Israeli authorities had the tests in their hands weeks in advance.  Nonetheless, in an apparent act of petty vindictiveness, the customs officials held on to them until AMIDEAST had to cancel the exam.  One observer has asked the question, “what has the SAT [tests] have to do with Israeli security?”  Well it might be that, in the mind of a savage customs official, the more college bound Palestinians from the Occupied Territories, the more articulate witnesses to Israeli oppression. On the Gaza side of the equation the U.S. was forced to cancel a small scholarship program for Gaza college students because the Israelis refused to let the students leave their open air prison, even if only to go to a West Bank school.  

For anyone who might want to follow the grim procession of Israeli oppressive and barbaric acts on a day to day basis, I recommend the web site Today In Palestine.

Part II – Challenge and Denial

In the face of this persistent savage behavior on the part of Israel, that country’s public support has finally begun to slip in the United States.  Most recently, fifteen prominent church leaders, representing major Christian denominations, wrote an open letter to Congress calling for “an immediate investigation into possible violations by Israel of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act and the U.S. Arms Export Control Act which respectively prohibit assistance to any country which engages in a consistent pattern of human rights violations….We urge Congress to hold hearings to examine Israel’s compliance, and we request regular reporting on compliance and the withholding of military aid for non-compliance.”  

So far the Congress has turned a deaf-ear to this request, but the Zionist reaction was loud and clear.  Leading the way in this effort was the head of the misnamed Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Abraham Foxman.  Charging the Christian leaders with a “blatant lack of sensitivity” (one might ask just how sensitive one is suppose to be to a oppressor?) Foxman decided to punish the offending clergy by refusing to engage in on-going “interfaith dialogue.”  The Zionist reaction to being called out for their own savage behavior is a classic example of denial. 

Part III – Conclusion

 Having “big brains” is a two edge sword for human beings.  It means we can think all manner of creative thoughts and even exercise some self-control over our own inappropriate impulses if we care to try.  However, it also means that we can be manipulated into thinking that we need not try–that we are the victims even as we are oppressing others and that any criticism of our actions is just another example of our victimization. Israeli culture, and indeed the culture of Zionism generally, is one on-going project of self-manipulation to achieve just such a state of mind.  And, to a great extent, it has succeeded.  A recent poll taken in Israel shows that “a majority of the [Israeli Jewish] public wants the state to discriminate against Palestinians….revealing a deeply rooted racism in Israeli society.”  

The Zionists are not the only experts in denial.  The United States, Israel’s chief ally, has always been good at this gambit as well.  After the 9/11 attacks any consideration of the possibility that United States foreign policy in the Middle East might have helped motivate the terrorism was anathema, and it still is over a decade later.  Instead of taking a hard look at our own behavior we are simply expanding our capacity to kill outright anyone who would challenge our policies in a violent fashion.  Our answer is targeted killings by drone or otherwise.  A bit of savagery we learned from the Israelis.    

Machiavelli, who can always be relied upon to see the darker side of things, once said, “Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events resemble those of preceding times.  This arises from the fact that they are produced by men who ever have been, and ever shall be, animated by the same passions, and thus they necessarily have the same results.”  

But yet, is it really inevitable? 

Lawrence Davidson
Professor of History
West Chester University
West Chester, PA 19383-2133

"I Am Not a Leader": Russell Means' 1980 Mother Jones Cover Story


"I Am Not a Leader": Russell Means' 1980 Mother Jones Cover Story

In a provocative piece, the American Indian Movement activist lashed out at European "death culture" and the left.

By Russell Means | Monday, Oct. 22, 2012 1:33 PM PDT


Russell Means Lionel Delevingne / Picture Group

Editor's note: This article originated as a controversial speech given at the Black Hills International Survival Gathering on the Pine Ridge Reservation in July 1980. A member of the Oglala Lakota tribe, Russell Means was perhaps the most outsized personality in the American Indian Movement, beginning with the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee. He also had an acting career beginning with his role as Chingachgook in Last of the Mohicans [1]. He died Monday morning at age 72.

The only possible opening for a statement like this is that I detest writing. The process itself epitomizes the European concept of "legitimate thinking": what is written has an importance that is denied the spoken. My culture, the Lakota culture, has an oral tradition, so I ordinarily reject writing. It is one of the white world's ways of destroying the cultures of non-European peoples, the imposing of an abstraction over the spoken relationship of a people.

So what you read here is not what I've written. It's what I've said and someone else has written down. I will allow this because it seems that the only way to communicate with the white world is through the dead, dry leaves of a book. I don't really care whether my words reach whites or not. They have already demonstrated through their history that they cannot hear, cannot see; they can only read (of course, there are exceptions, but the exceptions only prove the rule). I'm more concerned with American Indian people, students and others, who have begun to be absorbed into the white world through universities and other institutions. But even then it's a marginal sort of concern. It's very possible to grow into a red face with a white mind; and if that's a person's individual choice, so be it, but I have no use for them. This is part of the process of cultural genocide being waged by Europeans against American Indian peoples today. My concern is with those American Indians who choose to resist this genocide, but who may be confused as to how to proceed. (You notice I use the term American Indian rather than Native American or Native indigenous people or Amerindian when referring to my people. There has been some controversy about such terms, and frankly, at this point, I find it absurd. Primarily it seems that American Indian is being rejected as European in origin—which is true. But all the above terms are European in origin; the only non-European way is to speak of Lakota—or, more precisely, of Oglala, Bruleě, etc.—and of the Dine, the Miccosukee, and all the rest of the several hundred correct tribal names.

(There is also some confusion about the word Indian, a mistaken belief that it refers somehow to the country, India. When Columbus washed up on the beach in the Caribbean, he was not looking for a country called India. Europeans were calling that country Hindustan in 1492. Look it up on the old maps. Columbus called the tribal people he met "Indio," from the Italian in dio, meaning "in God.")

It takes a strong effort on the part of each American Indian not to become Europeanized. The strength for this effort can only come from the traditional ways, the traditional values that our elders retain. It must come from the hoop, the four directions, the relations; it cannot come from the pages of a book or a thousand books. No European can ever teach a Lakota to be Lakota, a Hopi to be Hopi. A master's degree in "Indian Studies" or in "education" or in anything else cannot make a person into a human being or provide knowledge into the traditional ways. It can only make you into a mental European, an outsider.

The European materialist tradition of despiritualizing the universe is very similar to the mental process which goes into dehumanizing another person.

I should be clear about something here, because there seems to be some confusion about it. When I speak of Europeans or mental Europeans, I'm not allowing for false distinctions. I'm not saying that on the one hand there are the by-products of a few thousand years of genocidal, reactionary, European intellectual development which is bad; and on the other hand there is some new revolutionary intellectual development which is good. I'm referring here to the so-called theories of Marxism and anarchism and "leftism" in general. I don't believe these theories can be separated from the rest of the European intellectual tradition. It's really just the same old song. The process began much earlier. Newton, for example, "revolutionized" physics and the so-called natural sciences by reducing the physical universe to a linear mathematical equation. Descartes did the same thing with culture. John Locke did it with politics, and Adam Smith did it with economics. Each one of these "thinkers" took a piece of the spirituality of human existence and converted it into a code, an abstraction. They picked up where Christianity ended; they "secularized" Christian religion, as the "scholars" like to say—and in doing so they made Europe more able and ready to act as an expansionist culture. Each of these intellectual revolutions served to abstract the European mentality even further, to remove the wonderful complexity and spirituality from the universe and replace it with a logical sequence: one, two, three, Answer!

This is what has come to be termed "efficiency" in the European mind. Whatever is mechanical is perfect; whatever seems to work at the moment—that is, proves the mechanical model to be the right one—is considered correct, even when it is clearly untrue. This is why "truth" changes so fast in the European mind; the answers which result from such a process are only stop-gaps, only temporary, and must be continuously discarded in favor of new stop-gaps which support the mechanical models and keep them (the models) alive.

Hegel and Marx were heirs to the thinking of Newton, Descartes, Locke, and Smith. Hegel finished the process of secularizing theology—and that is put in his own terms—he secularized the religious thinking through which Europe understood the universe. Then Marx put Hegel's philosophy in terms of "materialism," which is to say that Marx despiritualized Hegel's work altogether. Again, this is in Marx' own terms. And this is now seen as the future revolutionary potential of Europe. Europeans may see this as revolutionary, but American Indians see it simply as still more of that same old European conflict between being and gaining. The intellectual roots of a new Marxist form of European imperialism lie in Marx's—and his followers'—links to the tradition of Newton, Hegel, and the others.

Being is a spiritual proposition. Gaining is a material act. Traditionally, American Indians have always attempted to be the best people they could. Part of that spiritual process was and is to give away wealth, to discard wealth in order not to gain. Material gain is an indicator of false status among traditional people, while it is "proof that the system works" to Europeans. Clearly, there are two completely opposing views at issue here, and Marxism is very far over to the other side from the American Indian view. But let's look at a major implication of this; it is not merely an intellectual debate.

The European materialist tradition of despiritualizing the universe is very similar to the mental process which goes into dehumanizing another person. And who seems most expert at de humanizing other people? And why? Soldiers who have seen a lot of combat learn to do this to the enemy before going back into combat. Murderers do it before going out to commit murder. Nazi SS guards did it to concentration camp inmates. Cops do it. Corporation leaders do it to the workers they send into uranium mines and steel mills. Politicians do it to everyone in sight. And what the process has in common for each group doing the dehumanizing is that it makes it all right to kill and other wise destroy other people. One of the Christian commandments says, "Thou shalt not kill," at least not humans, so the trick is to mentally convert the victims into nonhumans. Then you can proclaim violation of your own commandment as a virtue.

In terms of the despiritualization of the universe, the mental process works so that it becomes virtuous to destroy the planet. Terms like progress and development are used as cover words here, the way victory and freedom are used to justify butchery in the dehumanization process. For example, a real estate speculator may refer to "developing" a parcel of ground by opening a gravel quarry; development here means total, permanent destruction, with the earth itself removed. But European logic has gained a few tons of gravel with which more land can be "developed" through the construction of road beds. Ultimately, the whole universe is open—in the European view—to this sort of insanity.

Most important here, perhaps, is the fact that Europeans feel no sense of loss in all this. After all, their philosophers have despiritualized reality, so there is no satisfaction (for them) to be gained in simply observing the wonder of a mountain or a lake or a people in being. No, satisfaction is measured in terms of gaining material. So the mountain becomes gravel, and the lake becomes coolant for a factory, and the people are rounded up for processing through the indoctrination mills Europeans like to call schools.

But each new piece of that "progress" ups the ante out in the real world. Take fuel for the industrial machine as an example. Little more than two centuries ago, nearly everyone used wood—a replenishable natural item—as fuel for the very human needs of cooking and staying warm. Along came the Industrial Revolution and coal became the dominant fuel, as production became the social imperative for Europe. Pollution began to become a problem in the cities, and the earth was ripped open to provide coal whereas wood had always simply been gathered or harvested at no great expense to the environment. Later, oil became the major fuel, as the technology of production was perfected through a series of scientific "revolutions." Pollution increased dramatically, and nobody yet knows what the environmental costs of pumping all that oil out of the ground will really be in the long run. Now there's an "energy crisis," and uranium is becoming the dominant fuel.

Every revolution in European history has served to reinforce Europe's tendencies and abilities to export destruction to other peoples.

Capitalists, at least, can be relied upon to develop uranium as fuel only at the rate at which they can show a good profit. That's their ethic, and maybe that will buy some time. Marxists, on the other hand, can be relied upon to develop uranium fuel as rapidly as possible simply because it's the most "efficient" production fuel available. That's their ethic, and I fail to see where it's preferable. Like I said. Marxism is right smack in the middle of the European tradition. It's the same old song.

There's a rule of thumb which can be applied here. You cannot judge the real nature of a European revolutionary doctrine on the basis of the changes it proposes to make within the European power structure and society. You can only judge it by the effects it will have on non-European peoples. This is because every revolution in European history has served to reinforce Europe's tendencies and abilities to export destruction to other peoples, other cultures and the environment itself. I defy anyone to point out an example where this is not true.

So now we, as American Indian people, are asked to believe that a "new" European revolutionary doctrine such as Marxism will reverse the negative effects of European history on us. European power relations are to he adjusted once again, and that's supposed to make things better for all of us. But what does this really mean?

Right now, today, we who live on the Pine Ridge Reservation are living in what white society has designated a "National Sacrifice Area." What this means is that we have a lot of uranium deposits here, and white culture (not us) needs this uranium as energy production material. The cheapest most efficient way for industry to extract and deal with the processing of this uranium is to dump the waste by-products right here at the digging sites. Right here where we live. This waste is radioactive and will make the entire region uninhabitable forever. This is considered by industry, and by the white society that created this industry, to be an "acceptable" price to pay for energy resource development. Along the way they also plan to drain the water table under this part of South Dakota as part of the industrial process, so the region becomes doubly uninhabitable. The same sort of thing is happening down in the land of the Navajo and Hopi, up in the land of the Northern Cheyenne and Crow, and elsewhere. Thirty percent of the coal in the West and half of the uranium deposits in the US have been found to lie under reservation land, so there is no way this can be called a minor issue.

We are resisting being turned into a National Sacrifice Area. We are resisting being turned into a national sacrifice people. The costs of this industrial process are not acceptable to us. It is genocide to dig uranium here and drain the water table—no more, no less.

Now let's suppose that in our resistance to extermination we begin to seek allies (we have). Let's suppose further that we were to take revolutionary Marxism at its word: that it intends nothing less than the complete overthrow of the European capitalist order which has presented this threat to our very existence. This would seem to be a natural alliance for American Indian people to enter into. After all, as the Marxists say, it is the capitalists who set us up to be a national sacrifice. This is true as far as it goes.

But, as I've tried to point out, this "truth" is very deceptive. Revolutionary Marxism is committed to even further perpetuation and perfection of the very industrial process which is destroying us all. It offers only to "redistribute" the results—the money, maybe—of this industrialization to a wider section of the population. It offers to take wealth from the capitalists and pass it around: But in order to do so, Marxism must maintain the industrial system. Once again, the power relations within European society will have to be altered, but once again the effects upon American Indian peoples here and non-Europeans elsewhere will remain the same. This is much the same as when power was redistributed from the church to private business during the so-called bourgeois revolution. European society changed a bit, at least superficially, but its conduct toward non-Europeans continued as before. You can see what the American Revolution of 1776 did for American Indians. It's the same old song.

Revolutionary Marxism, like industrial society in other forms, seeks to 'rationalize" all people in relation to industry—maximum industry, maximum production. It is a materialist doctrine that despises the American Indian spiritual tradition, our cultures, our lifeways. Marx himself called us "precapitalists" and "primitive." Frecapitalist simply means that, in his view, we would eventually discover capitalism and become capitalists: we have always been economically retarded in Marxist terms. The only manner in which American Indian people could participate in a Marxist revolution would be to join the industrial system, to become factory workers, or "proletarians" as Marx called them. The man was very clear about the fact that his revolution could occur only through the struggle of the proletariat, that the existence of a massive industrial system is a precondition of a successful Marxist society.

I think there's a problem with language here. Christians, capitalists, Marxists. All of them have been revolutionary in their own minds, but none of them really mean revolution. What they really mean is a continuation. They do what they do in order that European culture can continue to exist and develop according to its needs.

So, in order for us to really join forces with Marxism, we American Indians would have to accept the national sacrifice of our homeland; we would have to commit cultural suicide and become industrialized and Europeanized.

At this point, I've got to stop and ask myself whether I'm being too harsh. Marxism has something of a history. Does this history bear out my observations? I look to the process of industrialization in the Soviet Union since 1920 and I see that these Marxists have done what it took the English Industrial Revolution 300 years to do: and the Marxists did it in 60 years. I see that the territory of the USSR used to contain a number of tribal peoples and that they have been crushed to make way for the factories. The Soviets refer to this as "The National Question," the question of whether the tribal peoples had the right to exist as peoples: and they decided the tribal peoples were an acceptable sacrifice to industrial needs, I look to China and I see the same thing. I look to Vietnam and I see Marxists imposing an industrial order and rooting out the indigenous tribal mountain people.

I hear a leading Soviet scientist saying that when uranium is exhausted, then alternatives will be found. I see the Vietnamese taking over a nuclear power plant abandoned by the US military. Have they dismantled and destroyed it? No, they are using it. I see China exploding nuclear bombs, developing uranium reactors and preparing a space program in order to colonize and exploit the planets the same as the Europeans colonized and exploited this hemisphere. It's the same old song. but maybe with a faster tempo this time.

The statement of the Soviet scientist is very interesting. Does he know what this alternative energy source will be? No, he simply has faith. Science will find a way. I hear revolutionary Marxists saying that the destruction of the environment, pollution and radiation will all be controlled. And I see them act upon their words. Do they know how these things will be controlled? No, they simply have faith. Science will find a way. Industrialization is fine and necessary. How do they know this? Faith. Science will find a way. Faith of this sort has always been known in Europe as religion. Science has become the new European religion for both capitalists and Marxists; they are truly inseparable; they are part and parcel of the same culture. So, in both theory and practice, Marxism demands that non-European peoples give up their values, their traditions, their cultural existence altogether. We will all be industrialized science addicts in a Marxist society.

I do not believe that capitalism itself is really responsible for the situation in which American Indians have been declared a national sacrifice. No, it is the European tradition; European culture itself is responsible. Marxism is just the latest continuation of this tradition, not a solution to it. To ally with Marxism is to ally with the very same forces that declare us an acceptable cost.

There is another way. There is the traditional Lakota way and the ways of the other American Indian peoples. It is the way that knows that humans do not have the right to degrade Mother Earth, that there are forces beyond anything the European mind has conceived, that humans must be in harmony with all relations or the relations will eventually eliminate the disharmony. A lopsided emphasis on humans by humans—the Europeans' arrogance of acting as though they were beyond the nature of all related things—can only result in a total disharmony and a readjustment which cuts arrogant humans down to size, gives them a taste of that reality beyond their grasp or control and restores the harmony. There is no need for a revolutionary theory to bring this about; it's beyond human control. The nature peoples of this planet know this and so they do not theorize about it. Theory is an abstract; our knowledge is real.

A wolf never forgets his or her place in the natural order. American Indians can. Europeans almost always do.

Distilled to its basic terms, European faith—including the new faith in science—equals a belief that man is God. Europe has always sought a Messiah, whether that be the man Jesus Christ or the man Karl Marx or the man Albert Einstein. American Indians know this to be totally absurd. Humans are the weakest of all creatures, so weak that other creatures are willing to give sip their flesh that we may live. Humans are able to survive only through the exercise of rationality since they lack the abilities of other creatures to gain food through the use of fang and claw. But rationality is a curse since it can cause humans to forget the natural order of things in ways other creatures do not. A wolf never forgets his or her place in the natural order. American Indians can. Europeans almost always do. We pray our thanks to the deer, our relations, for allowing us their flesh to eat; Europeans simply take the flesh for granted and consider the deer inferior. After all, Europeans consider themselves godlike in their rationalism and science. God is the Supreme Being; all else must be inferior.

All European tradition. Marxism included, has conspired to defy the natural order of all things. Mother Earth has been abused, the powers have been abused, and this cannot go on forever. No theory can alter that simple fact. Mother Earth will retaliate, the whole environment will retaliate, and the abusers will be eliminated. Things come full circle, back to where they started. That's revolution. And that's a prophecy of my people, of the Hopi people and of other correct peoples.

American Indians have been trying to explain this to Europeans for centuries. But, as I said earlier, Europeans have proven themselves unable to hear. The natural order will win out, and the offenders will die out, the way deer die when they offend the harmony by overpopulating a given region. It's only a matter of time until what Europeans call "a major catastrophe of global proportions" will occur. It is the role of all natural beings, to survive. A part of our survival is to resist. We resist not to overthrow a government or to take political power, but because it is natural to resist extermination, to survive. We don't want power over white institutions; we want white institutions to disappear. That's revolution.

American Indians are still in touch with these realities—the prophecies, the traditions of our ancestors. We learn from the elders, from nature, from the powers. And when the catastrophe is over, we American Indian peoples will still be here to inhabit the hemisphere. I don't care if it's only a handful living high in the Andes. American Indian people will survive: harmony will be reestablished. That's revolution.

At this point, perhaps I should be very clear about another matter, one which should already be clear as a result of what I've said. But confusion breeds easily these days, so I want to hammer home this point. When I use the term European, I'm not referring to a skin color or a particular genetic structure. What I'm referring to is a mind-set, a world view that is a product of the development of European culture. People are not genetically encoded to hold this outlook: they are acculturated to hold it. The same is true for American Indians or for the members of any other culture. It is possible for an American Indian to share European values, a European world view. We have a term for these people; we call them "apples"—red on the outside (genetics) and white on the inside (their values). Other groups have similar terms: Blacks have their "oreos"; Hispanos have "coconuts" and so on. And, as I said before, there are exceptions to the white norm: people who are white on the outside, but not white inside. I'm not sure what term should be applied to them other than "human beings."

What I'm putting out here is not a racial proposition but a cultural proposition. Those who ultimately advocate and defend the realities of European culture and its industrialism are my enemies. Those who resist it, who struggle against it, are my allies, the allies of American Indian people. And I don't give a damn what their skin color happens to be. Caucasian is the white term for the white race: European is an outlook I oppose.

There are people who are white on the outside, but not white inside. I'm not sure what term should be applied to them other than "human beings."

The Vietnamese Communists are not exactly what you might consider genetic Caucasians, but they are now functioning as mental Europeans. The same holds true for Chinese Communists, for Japanese capitalists or Bantu Catholics or Peter "MacDollar" down at the Navajo Reservation or Dickie Wilson up here at Pine Ridge. There is no racism involved in this, just an acknowledgment of the mind and spirit that make up culture.

In Marxist terms I suppose I'm a "cultural nationalist." I work first with my people, the traditional Lakota people, because we hold a common world view and share an immediate struggle. Beyond this, I work with other traditional American Indian peoples, again because of a certain commonality in world view and form of struggle. Beyond that, I work with anyone who has experienced the colonial oppression of Europe and who resists its cultural and industrial totality. Obviously, this includes genetic Caucasians who struggle to resist the dominant norms of European culture. The Irish and the Basques come immediately to mind, but there are many others.

I work primarily with my own people, with my own community. Other people who hold non-European perspectives should do the same. I believe in the slogan, "Trust your brother's vision," although I'd like to add sisters into the bargain. I trust the community and the culturally based vision of all the races that naturally resist industrialization and human extinction. Clearly, individual whites can share in this, given only that they have reached the awareness that continuation of the industrial imperatives of Europe is not a vision, but species suicide. White is one of the sacred colors of the Lakota people—red, yellow, white, and black. The four directions. The four seasons. The four periods of life and aging. The four races of humanity. Mix red, yellow, white, and black together and you get brown, the color of the fifth race. This is a natural ordering of things. It therefore seems natural to me to work with all races, each with its own special meaning, identity and message.

But there is a peculiar behavior among most Caucasians. As soon as I become critical of Europe and its impact on other cultures, they become defensive. They begin to defend themselves. But I'm not attacking them personally; I'm attacking Europe. In personalizing my observations on Europe they are personalizing European culture, identifying themselves with it. By defending themselves in this context, they are ultimately defending the death culture. This is a confusion which must he overcome, and it must be overcome in a hurry. None of us have energy to waste in such false struggles. Caucasians have a more positive vision to offer humanity than European culture. I believe this. But in order to attain this vision it is necessary for Caucasians to step outside European culture—alongside the rest of humanity—to see Europe for what it is and what it does.

To cling to capitalism and Marxism and all the other "isms" is simply to remain within European culture. There is no avoiding this basic fact. As a fact, this constitutes a choice. Understand that the choice is based on culture, not race. Understand that to choose European culture and industrialism is to choose to be my enemy. And understand that the choice is yours, not mine.

This leads me back to address those American Indians who are drifting through the universities, the city slums, and other European institutions. If you are there to learn to resist the oppressor in accordance with your traditional ways, so be it. I don't know how you manage to combine the two, but perhaps you will succeed. But retain your sense of reality. Beware of coming to believe the white world now offers solutions to the problems it confronts us with. Beware, too, of allowing the words of native people to he twisted to the advantage of our enemies. Europe invented the practice of turning words around on themselves. You need only look to the treaties between American Indian peoples and various European governments to know that this is true. Draw your strength from who you are.

A culture which regularly confuses revolution with continuation, which confuses science and religion, which confuses revolt with resistance, has nothing helpful to teach you and nothing to offer you as a way of life. Europeans have long since lost all touch with reality, if ever they were in touch with it. Feel sorry for them if you need to, but be comfortable with who you are as American Indians.

So, I suppose to conclude this, I should state clearly that leading anyone toward Marxism is the last thing on my mind. Marxism is as alien to my culture as capitalism and Christianity are. In fact, I can say I don't think I'm trying to lead anyone toward anything. To some extent I tried to be a "leader," in the sense that the white media like to use that term, when the American Indian Movement was a young organization. This was a result of a confusion I no longer have. You cannot be everything to everyone. I do not propose to be used in such a fashion by my enemies; I am not a leader. I am an Oglala Lakota patriot. That is all I want and all 1 need to he. And I am very comfortable with who I am.

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Historia Chicana

Mexican American Studies

University of North Texas

Denton, Texas


Russell Means l 'I Am Not a Leader' - Russell Means' 1980 Mother Jones Cover Story l 10.22.12.docx
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