A Balkanization too far: taking back The United Counties of America

By ann summers56889d6dc46188801c8b45b0_1_

Malheur Wildlife Refuge’s standoff even with its indicted malingerers demonstrates the abject FAIL of the Bundystani attempt to create a county-level bantustan near Burns, Oregon. However, chances are the armed farces now cruising Burns in their flag-flying pickup trucks have nothing better to do but plan the next poorly organized manipulation of RWNJ LoFos & ‘baggers looking for the next peckerwoodstock.

BURNS, OR  - JANUARY 30:  Anti-government protesters drive through town during a rally prior to a rolling vehicle protest by self-proclaimed patriots on January 30, 2016 in Burns, Oregon. Eight protestors who had been occupying the Malheur National Wildli
‘neck-mobiles parade around Burns Oregon in support of the Bundys


But if we’re wagering on the next such amalgamated attempt to privatize public land, foment racist secession, and threaten to discharge firearms, it could happen again in the West and with Lavoy Finicum’s death now even more cowboy-romanticized, but probably not with a community clearly opposed to outside agitation and lacking more significant local mass support. More likely it will happen in a red state with more sympathetic law enforcement and local government lined up rather than the Bundy expectation that what happens outside Vegas can happen again in Oregon.

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Word Cloud Resized

by Nona Blyth Cloud

Rita Dove, United States Library of Congress Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, served two terms: 1993-94 and 1994-95. She has the distinction of being the first African-American, AND at age 40, the youngest poet to be appointed Poet Laureate by the Librarian of Congress.**

Rita Dove was a a National Merit Scholar, and received a Fulbright scholarship to study at the University of Tübingen in West Germany. Her verse-novel Thomas and Beulah (1986) won the Pulitzer Prize, and her poetry collection, On the Bus with Rosa Parks (1999), was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Her photograph should be next to the definition of “overachiever” in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.

She wastes not a single scrap of her education, or her personal history. From the Classics and Opera of  the European tradition to American Smooth ballroom dancing and writing lyrics to be set to music by John Williams; from the sensible coat of a woman who just wanted a seat on the bus that was a birth-spark for a movement to her mother’s first job, or her own attempt to bring Romance home from a department store, Rita Dove writes it all down.

Demeter’s Prayer to Hades

This alone is what I wish for you: knowledge.
To understand each desire has an edge,
to know we are responsible for the lives
we change. No faith comes without cost,
no one believes without dying.
Now for the first time
I see clearly the trail you planted,
what ground opened to waste,
though you dreamed a wealth
of flowers.
…………….There are no curses – only mirrors
held up to the souls of gods and mortals.
And so I give up this fate, too.
Believe in yourself,
go ahead — see where it gets you.

demeter-french 15th-16th century

She moves effortlessly from Greek Mythology to American Jazz legend Billie Holiday and Civil Rights icon Rosa Parks:


— for Michael S. Harper

Billie Holiday’s burned voice
had as many shadows as lights,
a mournful candelabra against a sleek piano,
the gardenia her signature under that ruined face.

(Now you’re cooking, drummer to bass, 
magic spoon, magic needle.
Take all day if you have to
with your mirror and your bracelet of song.)
Fact is, the invention of women under siege 
has been to sharpen love in the service of myth.
If you can’t be free, be a mystery.


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Redefining “Substance Abuse” for Fertile Women While Lead Poisoning Investigations Continue


by Nona Blyth Cloud

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) just issued a report that tells all women of child-bearing age they should stop drinking alcohol entirely, even if they have no plans to get pregnant, because they could possibly have an unplanned pregnancy, and any drinking might harm a fetus.

“Drinking too much for women means any alcohol use if you’re pregnant,” said Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director for the CDC, during a conference call with the media. “It’s not as much how many drinks, it’s any drinks if you’re pregnant—at any time during the pregnancy.”

The CDC has taken a hard line stance against any amount of alcohol during any stage of pregnancy—even, essentially, pre-pregnancy or could-be-pregnancy.

But other experts and activists say that such guidelines are too all-encompassing and fail to respect women’s ability to weigh risks.

The CDC has long taken a stance of “better safe than sorry.” When asked about the risk for a woman drinking very mildly while trying to get pregnant—a process that can take months or even years for some—the CDC’s Schuchat said, “We can’t put a number on that for any individual woman, but what we can say is that fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are 100 percent preventable if there’s no alcohol exposure at all,” she said. “So that’s why we say, ‘Why take the risk drinking any alcohol during, any time in the pregnancy, even before you realize you’re pregnant?’”

Rebecca Kula, a professor at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics and author of “Mass Hysteria: Medicine, Culture, and Mothers’ Bodies” strongly disagrees: “We don’t tell pregnant women not to drive cars, even though we are much more certain that there’s a risk to their fetuses from each car ride than from each drink,” she said. “….. zero risk is both impossible to meet and completely paralyzing to try to meet.”

pregant woman at the wheel

Kukla argues that such guidelines are also excessively punishing. “The idea that the pleasures and routines that make up women’s days are mere luxuries that are not worth any risk whatsoever is patronizing and sexist,” she said. “And it would also turn their lives into complete hell if really taken to [its] conclusions.”

That hell is already happened to a growing number of women who have been prosecuted for substance abuse during pregnancy.

The first known indictment of an American woman for drug use in pregnancy was in California in 1977. But an appeals court ruled that lawmakers did not intend to include unborn children within the meaning of the word ‘child.’

Women have been put on trial for substance abuse while pregnant in every state except Delaware, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont. Most of these cases have failed. But not all of them.

Arizona — In 2003, a woman was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 10 years in prison after her infant, who tested positive for crack cocaine, died shortly after birth.

Mississippi — In 2014, the state’s high court ruled that a woman whose stillborn baby tested positive for cocaine could not be charged with ‘depraved heart murder,’ but it left open the possibility that she could be prosecuted for manslaughter.

Oklahoma — An Oklahoma mother was sentenced to 15 years in prison for second-degree murder after the 2004 stillbirth of her meth-exposed baby. More recently, drug-using pregnant women have been charged with criminal child neglect.

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Word Cloud: AFRICA

Word Cloud Resized


One of the things that shocked me during my long-ago-summer-back-packing-through-Europe was the vast difference in scale between Europe and the United States.

  • Greece, the “Birthplace of Western Civilization,” is about the size of Louisiana.
  • Italy, wellspring of the Roman Empire, is only a smidge larger than Arizona.
  • Oregon is bigger than the United Kingdom, which sprawled the British Empire around the world.

The African continent is HUGE – so enormous, if you could cover it with the United States, Canada, ALL the countries of Central America (Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama) AND The People’s Republic of China, you’d still have a bit of Africa showing – say, Benin, with a few square miles of Togo, at the western edge.

Africa from Space

When Americans glibly speak of “African Art,” we really have no idea how wide and how deep a subject that is.

Over 40 years ago, I set foot on the African continent for only a few days in a single country – Sierra Leone. There are 16 ethnic tribes in Sierra Leone. Just standing for a few minutes on a corner in Freetown, its capitol city, I began to see how different these tribes are. Facial structure, height, body type, skin color – a whole range of humanity in one smallish city – and that’s just visual – the languages, and the cultural and historical differences, those would take a lifetime of study.

So I wonder about using the term “African poet” – is it like labeling Emily Dickenson a “Western Hemisphere author” – technically accurate, yet fundamentally misleading?

Labels give me an itch between the shoulder-blades, like there’s a scope lining up behind me. And yet – the years of our childhood, the first language we hear, our gender, the very skin we live in, and the whole of our memories – become the bone and tissue of our psyches. And for a writer, they are the ink in our blood.

So there’s a little irony behind choosing “AFRICA” as the title of this week’s Word Cloud. Trying to convey the essence of an article in one word which might also intrigue a reader is sometimes the biggest challenge in writing this series.

Aside from the continent of Africa, our two poets have in common that they left their homelands and now live in English-speaking countries. And shoes as a recurring theme.

Mahtem Shiferraw grew up in Ethiopia and Eritrea, and received an MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. This poet writes in flying word-banners, streaming vivid colors across the page:

look underneath: your feet are roots, your legs a forestyour body
..the earth and your mind thirsty milk for the sorrow-drenched.

Omo child - Erhiopia


Everybody has a story 
about how they didn’t fit 
……………………………..until they do – 
and they want to tell it. 
Here is how it begins; 
how you make monsters out of children 
by telling them stories 
about this other world, a world where 
they sink in clouds and color the earth 
where forests of blue lakes 
give birth to strange animals 
where adults 
are only a bleak version of themselves

where stories
…………are never only stories.

This is how children are made; 

………..without intention or precision 
where orange doors and glass portals 
lead to another dimension, 
another self. 

Look at them command in this other world; 
they don’t hesitate, or quarrel, and they are not afraid – 
they climb trees, and pick up leaves, and speak a language 
made of wild berries and honey nut combs – 
they grow tall, and feed off the earth and 
drink its glazed colors, and swim through all shades of green – 

sodden green, lime green, bruised green, emerald eyes, muddy-greens 
of bedwaters, the blue-green of newborns laughing. 
This is how 
monsters are made – 
…………they fit 
…………………..until they don’t. 


Ambasha Ethiopian bread
White is a color, 
black is art. Nod to those before you. 
Brown is a sense of being, and dark only 
hovers beneath the shadows of necks – those 
who fear it most. Here is to fear. 
Red are the tip of shoes of the woman 
who waited in the bathroom patiently when I was 
only three – to steal my mother’s ruby earrings. White is 
the unsafe silence of bathroom walls, and their 
morbidly cubic nature. White is water running under 
my feet, the innocent screams of school children at 
lunch hour. 

Brown is the anomalous texture of curtains from my 
childhood home. Brown is also the parched wood 
of a small coffee-grinder my mother used. Brown as in 
the intimate angles of sharply cut ambasha my grandmother 
made, flour and water, lemon skin and cinnamon shreds, the 
dark heads of raisins, while on a cargo plane back to Ethiopia, 
the tired eyes of war-victims and their slow recovery. Brown 
is also the color of my skin, but I didn’t know it then. 
Blue are the waters embedded in my grandmother’s eyes. Blue is 
the whisper of the Nile, Abbay. Blue is the color of the brave. Blue 
are the walls of empty neighbors houses and the insides of their 
living room. Blue is skimmed milk tearing the sky. 
White sometimes comes back at odd hours. White are strangers eyes 
drenched in sadness. White is the uniform of doctors, the smell of 
alcohol and something mad. White is absence. Purple comes back 

as shoes, American shoes. Sky and blood under a quiet shadow. The 
shadow of a young tree planted in memory of a murdered teacher in 
high school. And the milky paste of over-ripe figs spurting prematurely, 
spiking insides. Purple is warmth in mid-July, when rain hails on corrugated 
tin roofs and the leaning green arms of lonely corn plants. 
Yellow is crying; it’s a bell, a cathedral in Asmara? A school? Or the 
shriek of a mass funeral. Yellow is dead. But listen to black. Listen to 
black notes, black heart, listen. Black is art. Not of the artist, the art of 
being. The painful art of memory. Here’s to remembering.

 Kayombo “Kayo” Chingonyi was born in Mufulira, Zambia and moved to Newcastle in the UK at the age of six. After going to school in London and reading English Literature at the University of Sheffield, Chingonyi is now based in Essex. His poems are full of sound – music is only one of them.

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The beginning of Turner Diaries II(I) or the end of the Bundy insurgency

By ann summers

“Avenge me…” the Red Dawn protagonists’ father cries out, and with his passing, will LaVoy Finicum’s legacy be a 2015 novel that could become The Turner Diaries for a new generation of RWNJ. m9ya1rdyigkc78thwm5e_1_

Finicum’s 241-page apocalyptic cowboy thriller titled “Only By Blood and Suffering” is a how-to on surviving after a electromagnetic pulse or nuclear attack when your Escalade stops driving, the government has bought back all of your guns, President Bill Clinton signed away your country’s missile technology to the Chinese, the Supreme Court is loaded with lefty judicial activists and you don’t have an adequate amount of gold and “junk silver” to get by when the stock market implodes, interest rates balloon overnight and the value of the dollar collapses.


The major figures in the Bundy bantustan occupation were arrested and one was killed in a shootout during a “traffic stop” although it now appears to have been a tactical warrant-serving arrest on the road to Grant County, Oregon.

That this event occured away from the siege area at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge seems to suggest that the take-down was a planned FBI action executed while minimal protection was available to the Bundystani during the trip to a meeting with a sympathetic Sheriff from a jurisdiction outside of Harney County.

No LEO casualties were reported and that it was primarily a Federal action provides cover for the Oregon state and county authorities.

This may have taken place because of the resistance of the insurgency to negotiate an actual end to the armed occupation and the nature of their demands as well as a willingness to extend the siege for many months, leaving the FBI to blink first.


One militia member—LaVoy Finicum, a.k.a #TarpMan—was shot and killed, though authorities have not released details about who fired the fatal shot. According to NBC News, Finicum had previously said he’d rather die than be arrested: “I have no intention of spending any of my days in a concrete box. There are things more important than your life and freedom is one of them. I’m prepared to defend freedom.” (Finicum, father of 11, was also the author of a novel, Only By Blood and Suffering: Regaining Lost Freedom.)



More interesting will be whether the fate of the insurgency will resemble that of the Montana Freemen in 1996 with multiple year jail sentences, although the death of an insurgent after none were killed in the prior Bundy standoff in Nevada could encourage or deter further sovereign insurgency activity.

The last wound-up: (Trigger(sic) Warning) Continue reading

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Bundystani Barbarism – Going Medieval, new materialism & land jumping piracy

12522936_792911377481034_1758586121887666608_nBy ann summers

The prototypical crypto-fascists terrorizing Eastern Oregon in the USA represent largely symbolic, yet armed, direct actions performed with the occupation of federal land and structures in order to promote issues of anti-governmental resistance on the behalf of land-owning individuals and their contracts with the Federal Government.

They are attempting to establish local states as quasi-governmental entities resembling but not identical to the county land divisions in the US with legal systems based only at the local scale. They have attempted to bring their own unofficial, anti-federal legal and judicial apparatus so that its current libertarian manifestation more resembles Medieval Vehmic Law applied like interwar National Socialists rather than a revival of vigilante frontier justice for land jumping in the 19th Century.

A key component of the followers of this cult-like group call themselves Sovereign Citizens which losely overlaps a variety of US hate groups. But the ideological purposes and the appropriation of public lands resembles more of an ethnic settlement program more familiar to those in Western Asia. That it is also anti-modern is anachronistically quaint in an age that still uses small arms technology from the 19th Century but also reactionary in its pre-modern bigotry that makes racial identity still at risk in the US 21st Century.



Other than attempting to impose a fictive justice and system of laws based on some quasi-religious texts couching itself in secular law, they are seeking a putative kind of relative autonomy for an often not so disguised religious and racist ideology which culturally recodes or dual codes a kind of inverted apartheid secessionism that creates rural enclaves or gated communities/compounds. As though county sheriffs could be the sole source of law enforcement in any US counties pretending to be sovereign and self-governing local states.

Such a separatism is derived from an evangelizing admixture of 19th Century American religions that attempt to revise history in often fantasic origin narratives. Not unlike other fundmentalist religious ethnicities in other global areas, the return to feudal legal practices is only the first stage in the attempt to revive stylzed versions of pre-modern value that somehow ignore property claims that exclude force.

While there is some structural similarity to the utopian socialist experiments of that same period, like a variety of ideologically driven cults, a series of institutional histories help to colonize nearly entire western regions dominated by such ideologies (the state of Utah). This of course was connected to the US subjugation of native peoples common to European colonial expansion resulting in the current system which the sovereign citizens have attempted to culturally annihilate. Some versions of republicanism supporting a variety of religious evangelisms often claim to be organized in these institutional gaps created during the American age of so-called Western Expansion.

The ideological backgrounds of the extremists.  About two-thirds of the occupiers appear to have the anti-government “Patriot” movement – and more specifically, the militia wing of that movement – as their primary ideological affiliation.  The remaining one-third of the occupiers have an anti-government ideology centered on opposition to federal regulation of public lands, a movement often referred to as the Sagebrush Rebellion or the Wise Use movement.  Some of the occupiers also have associations with other right-wing extremist movements, such as anti-immigrant border vigilantes or the sovereign citizen movement.  Almost a quarter of the takeover participants have expressed some sort of racism, anti-Semitism, or anti-Muslim bigotry.

one person’s little read Constitution


That this current group has not been taken into custody or prosecuted should in terms of history signal why the federal government (The State) is acting cautiously even to the point of apparent negligence. Libertarians as a nostalgic pre-modernizing sect might see this as the “redemptive” attempt of which Sovereign Citizens are a more extremist form, to return to earlier capital forms like metals or new fiat money like Bit-Coin. That these groups could even ally themselves with certain varieties of resistant anti-capitalist sentiment shows the fluidity of false consciousness as race and class contradictions become the defining feature of the collection of right-wing groups now holding the Malheur Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon. Continue reading

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After week III, another two months of Bundystani insurgency, now with moronic extra-Constitutionality

oregon-militia_1_By ann summers

Evoking New York language values, Slate magazine has now labeled the East Oregon Bundystani as Jamokes trying to enforce Shania(sic) Law in an incursion by outsiders.

We may not understand public land laws, but we understand how to be outraged about linguistic dog whistles. We may not want to worry about gun-toting crazies, but we are happy to worry about Fox News’ lopsided vision of terrorism. And while our preoccupation with getting the language right might seem depressing in this context, it’s not entirely quixotic or useless. Language represents an island of control in a vast sea of helplessness, and debating language is a way of thinking more clearly through aspects of society that elude our control. It’s a better way, at least, than marching, armed, into a building in Oregon like a bunch of … well.

As the Feds continue to maintain a low profile at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, the Oregon governor has called for their intervention and the game of non-cooperation continues. With further jurisdictional lines being better defined, and at the risk of being called “outside agitators”  the Bundy bantustan now has begun to lose the support of the Harney County community. The meeting on Tuesday that featured a visit from militia leaders in the town of Burns allowed many to see the erosion of support and rising friction between local residents and the largely non-Oregonian occupation force.  Continue reading

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