Archives

Organizations

McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street | Part VII: The Wolves of Wall Street

December 18, 2014

By Cory Morningstar

[Part I of this series, McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street, can be found here. Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI]

wolvesofws1 

 Image courtesy of Mark Gould

“Of all our studies, it is history that is best qualified to reward our research.” — Malcolm X

Prologue: A Coup d’État of Nature – Led by the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

It is somewhat ironic that anti-REDD climate activists, organizations (legitimate grassroots organizations do exist) and self-proclaimed environmentalists, who consider themselves progressive, while speaking out against the commodification of nature’s natural resources also simultaneously promote the divestment campaign. It’s ironic because the divestment campaign will result (succeed) in a colossal injection of money shifting over to the very portfolios heavily invested in, thus dependent upon, the intense commodification and privatization of Earth’s last remaining forests (via REDD), water, etc. (environmental “markets“). This tour de force will be executed with cunning precision under the guise of environmental stewardship and “internalising negative externalities through appropriate pricing.” Thus, ironically (if in appearances only), the greatest surge in the ultimate corporate capture of Earth’s final remaining resources is being led, and will be accomplished, by the very environmentalists and environmental groups that claim to oppose such corporate domination and capture.

Beyond shelling out billions of (tax-exempt) dollars (i.e., investments) to those most accommodating in the non-profit industrial complex (via foundations), the corporations need not lift a finger; the feat is being carried out by both the legitimate and the faux environmentalists in tandem with an unsuspecting public. … a public with almost no comprehension of 1. the magnitude of our ecological crisis 2. the root causes of the planetary crisis, or 3. the non-profit industrial complex as an instrument of hegemony.

The commodification of the commons will represent the greatest, and most cunning, coup d’état in the history of corporate dominance – a fait accompli extraordinaire of unparalleled scale, with unparalleled repercussions for humanity and all life.

Further, it matters little whether or not the money is moved from direct investments in fossil fuel corporations to so-called “socially responsible investments.” The fact of the matter is, all corporations on the planet (thus all investments on the planet) do and will continue to require massive amounts of energies (including fossil fuels) to continue to grow and expand ad infinitum – as required by the industrialized capitalist economic system.

The windmills and solar panels serve as the beautiful (marketing) imagery, yet they are somewhat illusory – the veneer for the commodification of the commons, which is the fundamental objective of Wall Street, the very advisers of the divestment campaign.

Thus we find ourselves unwilling to acknowledge the necessity to dismantle the industrialized capitalist economic system, choosing instead to embrace an illusion designed by corporate power.

+++

Monetizing Natural Capital | Ecosystem Services

You may recognize Mindy Lubber’s name (President of 350.org partner, Ceres) from the Think Progress blog (excellent climate science source, funded in large part by Rockefeller) where she is referred to as “an expert on water scarcity” among the liberal left. Therefore, it should be of little surprise to anyone that a key focus of Ceres appears to be meticulously and cautiously preparing the ground for mass privatization (what Ceres refers to as “monetizing natural capital” or “ecosystem services”) of water in the United States (and beyond). [Restoring Flows, Financing the Next Generation of Water Systems, A Strategy for Coalition Building. Authors: Ceres and American Rovers, DOCUMENT]

“Unlike market development in Europe and Australia, the private sector has had a relatively small role in providing water infrastructure services in the United States. While some communities have entered into a variety of arrangements to ‘privatize’ their water services, there is a wide range of potential roles that private entities may play in the water market that fall short of being an outright full-service provider.” [Emphasis added]

 

Under “Needs and Opportunities” within the report: “Develop alternate model business plans for providers, including public, private and public:private partnerships.”

Preparing a populace – one that strongly opposes water privatization – for water privatization requires calculated language and schemes to keep the public at bay. Schemes that “fall short of being an outright full-service provider,” if outright privatization in its most pure form is not an option, are an imperative for “success.”

As president of Ceres, Lubber is well compensated for the task at hand with an annual salary from the Ceres non-profit of $193,025, with an additional $32,190 in “other compensation for the organization and other related organizations.” [Source: Form 990, 2012].

With Ceres receiving 60% of its revenues from foundation grants in the 2012 fiscal year ($5,233,360) with membership fees ($1,843,052) providing 22% of the revenues [2012 annual report] (conference fees, sponsorship, and individual family and “foundation family” account for the remainder to the tune of $8,316,636), the Ceres non-profit is in a position to pay flush salaries.

+++

The monetization of Earth’s remaining natural resources (or “natural capital,” the carefully applied term that acts as a patina masking the true intent) sounds as though it is far too vile of an idea to ever be accepted by society. Yet, the elite establishment – with the non-profit industrial complex as their pimps of pathological ideologies – have every intent of seeing the commodification of Earth’s remaining natural resources transform into capital, for complete corporate capture in the not-so-distant future.

Consider the behavioural change experiment that took place on September 21, 2014 (branded as “The People’s Climate March”).

WorldBankMarchPhoto

The People’s Climate March in New York City was a mobilization campaign created by Avaaz and 350.org, with 350.org at the forefront. Perhaps never in history have we witnessed 300,000 to 400,000 citizens (whose rights and freedoms are being systematically dismantled every day by a corporate-state that liberal elites continue to prop up) joining hands with their oppressors – literally marching with their oppressors in the streets both knowingly and willingly. This must be considered a benchmark in history by those who study behavioural change – a feat perhaps unmatched since 1929 when Edward Bernays brilliantly transformed cigarettes into “freedom torches” as the symbol of emancipated women for the tobacco industry.

[Video (running time: 2:52). Excerpt from the movie “The War You Don’t See” by John Pilger. Bernays, a pioneer of modern propaganda, persuaded woman to embrace smoking as a symbol of women’s liberation.]

torches-of-freedom--thereby-linking-smoking-with-challenging-male-authority

The Road to Riches | Monetization of Earth’s Remaining Natural Resources

The following excerpts are extracted from the article This Changes Nothing. Why the People’s Climate March Guarantees Climate Catastrophe published on Wrong Kind of Green (September 12, 2014). It serves as an introduction to the PR firm Purpose (Inc.) – as a glimpse into a behavioural change/economics think-tank.

Vision: “Purpose is a global initiative that draws on leading technologies, political organizing and behavioral economics to build powerful, tech-savvy movements that can transform culture and influence policy.”

 

Purpose was born out of some of the most successful experiments in mass digital participation. Our principals are co-founders of Avaaz, the world’s largest online political movement with more than nine million members operating in 14 languages, and the creators of Australia’s GetUp!, an internationally recognized social movement phenomenon with more members than all the country’s political parties combined….” [Source]

Avaaz and GetUp co-founders Jeremy Heimans (CEO) and David Madden are also founders of the New York consulting firm, Purpose Inc. Avaaz co-founder James Slezak is also identified as a co-founder and CEO of Purpose at its inception in 2009.

conformity-is-unity-3

Image courtesy of Mark Gould

The expertise behind both Avaaz and Purpose is in behavioural change. Where the employment of behavioural change infused by Avaaz is on display, the double-breasted, for-profit Purpose, with its non-profit arm, sells their expertise to further the interest of hegemony and capital. Whether it be a glossy campaign to help facilitate yet another illegal “humanitarian intervention” led by the empire’s U.S. militarism (an oxymoron if there ever was one), or the creation of a new global “green” economy, Purpose is the consulting firm that the wolves of Wall Street and oligarchs alike depend upon to make it happen.

 “We’ve been talking in a broader way about the future of consumer activism, of organizing people not as citizens but as consumers.Jeremy Heimans, when asked how he was going to use the $100,000 he received from the Ford Foundation

Purpose (with its co-founders), a favourite of high-finance websites such as The Economist and Forbes, sell their consulting services and branding/marketing campaigns to Google, Audi, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and many others that comprise the world’s most powerful corporations and institutions. In 2012 it raised $3m from investors. Ford Foundation, which has given Purpose’s non-profit arm a grant, “reckons it is shaping up to be ‘one of the blue-chip social organisations of the future.'” [Source] Purpose, like many other foundations such as Rockefeller (who initially incubated 1Sky, which merged with 350.org in 2011) also serves as an “incubator of social movements.” [Further reading on Purpose]

Make no mistake, the Yale (Avaaz co-founder and former U.S. Representative Tom Perriello) and Harvard graduates that comprise the Avaaz boys (many having been groomed by McKinsey and Company) are considered “the dream team” by the globe’s most powerful capitalists, including at the United Nations and the World Bank.

Heimans, the Avaaz front man of Purpose, is a darling of the high-finance corporate world. “In 2011, Jeremy received the Ford Foundation’s 75th anniversary Visionaries Award. The World Economic Forum at Davos has named him a Young Global Leader, and the World e-Government Forum has named Jeremy and Purpose co-founder David Madden among the “Top 10 People Who Are Changing the World of the Internet and Politics.” [Source]

Heimans, like his co-founders at Avaaz, has close relationships with those at the helm of the push toward the illusory green economy, including Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace and Richard Branson, who has founded the B Team, of which Heimans serves as a “team member.” [Further reading on the B Team can be found in an upcoming segment of this investigative report.] Note that Avaaz and 350.org were the first two NGOs signed on to the 2009 Havas Advertising campaign TckTckTck. TckTckTck succeeded in successfully undermining the radical emissions reductions required, put forward by the State of Bolivia and the G77 at COP15. More recently Avaaz, 350.org and Greenpeace joined hands to form the NGO SumOfUs. [Further reading: SumOfUs are Corporate Whores | Some Of Us Are Not]

Like so many other left “progressives” jumping on board the “socially responsible investment” industry, Heimans is no exception, serving on the advisory board of Leap Frog Investments. [Source] On September 29, 2012 a media release announced “The Vital Few” – a new social media platform for The Asset Owners Disclosure Project, an online forum to link individuals who are concerned about their pension fund investments directed towards the fossil fuel industry. The release included statements from both Kelly Rigg (TckTckTck) and Heimans. Supported by the head of the global trade union movement and other key civil society groups the platform, called ‘The Vital Few’ will allow pension fund members to drive transparency and accountability in a $60 trillion industry that has become the largest pool of investment capital in the world…. The Vital Few initiative, by starting with the issue of climate risk, is a milestone in helping restore genuine ownership to capitalism.”

Purpose Avaaz Syria-Campaign-HIRE

The Strategy of “Changing Everything”

In the video published on November 21, 2012, filmed during a lecture on Purpose’s innovative model of “movement entrepreneurship,” Heimans discloses that the “demand for the green economy is in a rut.” He states:

“…how else could movement building and mass participation help transform society? And that’s what we’re working on at Purpose. We’re thinking at Purpose not just how you build political movements but now what are some of the insights from that, that can be used to do things like scale demand for the green economy? Right? Demand for the green economy is in a rut. There isn’t large-scale demand it. What if we tried to build a movement around that and organize people in a systematic way….”

In this Tedx talk (published September 7, 2012) the goal, and the campaign to achieve the goal, are made clear: kill “green” marketing (including the key term “green economy”) in order to push forward the green economy – without saying as much.

Heimans states:

 “…Well, the results of our research really have two main conclusions I want to share with you today, and the first is a little startling and it may create a little bit of a disequilibrium… and that is that I think we need to kill the language and imagery and green in order to have any real shot at scaling sustainable consumption. Sustainable consumption just isn’t working right now as we’ll talk about in a moment. We’re going to have to kill green as a frame for consumers in order to try to rework that problem.”

Hence – you have the new terminology agreed upon and already being employed by both the foundations and the non-profit-industrial complex: The “new economy.”

Heimans continues:

“So they like the idea of green, it’s kind of a value they are happy to cloak themselves in, you know it’s a brand value, but the reality is market share just isn’t there because as soon as it’s even slightly difficult they’re out the door. So what do we do? So here’s some things that I think we can do that might up-end this situation and as I said, it does require starting with killing green as a friend. We can’t lead with green, because most of the green products that are out there start by knocking on the front door and hitting you on the head and saying, you know, ‘We’re green, do the right thing.’ We need a radically different approach to the way we introduce this issue to consumers. We need to put green aside.”

Heimans summarizes the methodology.

“… the answer we think is to get behind the businesses that are at this intersection of mass participation where you can get lots of people in a network, you can grow market share very quickly of the new forms of businesses that are green, but don’t knock on the door and announce themselves as green. If we can do this, if we can create a new economy that takes these models that can very quickly acquire market share and we can give people a sense they’re part of something much bigger, we’ll build the green economy, we just won’t talk about it and we won’t say that we’re doing it.”

As an example of Purpose’s work to build acquiescence and a normalization of the green new economy, we can look at Purpose’s work for Audi. The task at hand is how to take the human right of access to clean water and turn it into a commodity market that a public will embrace: “[Purpose Inc.] helps them to build mass movements to support their favourite causes. Audi, for example, wants to design and promote machines to dispense clean water in India, a market where it hopes to burnish its car brand.” Media is utilized to present the water ATM as an affordable benefit for the disenfranchised, underprivileged and poor: “The perception that rural people won’t pay for quality services is wrong, says Shah. ‘They want to be part of modern society. After a water ATM is set up, 15-20% of the people immediately start buying water. They like to claim “we have a water ATM.”‘” The idea of clean fresh water for all, as a human right rather than an “affordable” commodity, will quickly disappear as fast as the drinking fountains one used to find in our communities not that long ago. (One may wish to note that today, we find corporations writing many of their own articles for media, who in turn present them as journalism. Round and round we go.)

“Purpose also hopes to develop a business promoting ‘new economy’ products such as solar energy. It will recommend to its members that they buy solar power from such-and-such a provider. In return, it will charge a referral fee.” — The Economist, The business of campaigning, Profit with Purpose, January 26, 2013

We can assume this business model will be employed across the board. Purpose tells the story that entices the purchase, Purpose mobilizes the movements building on the foundation of the story, and Purpose receives their referral fee in the mail.

+++Further reading on behavioural change: Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section II [link]

Ignoring the Obvious – The Only Number that Matters Has Always Been Zero

Ceres: “60-90% reduction in GHG emissions from 1990 levels is needed by 2050 to avoid worst case scenarios for global warming” [Source: CERES 2007-2008 Annual Report]

 

Ceres: “Companies will reduce GHG emissions by 25% from their 2005 baseline by 2020, by improving energy efficiency of operations by at least 50%, reducing electricity demand by at least 15% and obtaining at least 30% of energy from renewable sources.… The Ceres Roadmap expectations are aligned with the scientific targets recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that call for the U.S. to achieve reductions of 80 percent below 1990 baseline levels by 2050. —The Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability current webpage [Source]

 

Reality: “There must be radical reductions of emissions starting from now. In our view, by 2017 we should cut, developed countries must cut by 52%, 65% by 2020, 80% by 2030, well above 100 [percent] by 2050. And this is very important because the more you defer action the more you condemn millions of people to immeasurable suffering. So the idea that you start from 4% today and you achieve 80 or 50 in 2050 simply means that you do not care about the lives of those who will be devastated in this period, until you pick up the pace.” — Lumumba Di-Aping, chief negotiator of the G77, COP15, Source

On May 9, 2013, concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the global atmosphere exceeded 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in human history, the highest since the Pliocene. (The daily average for May 9, 2013 was 400.03 ppm)

It is slightly ironic that 350.org succeeded so brilliantly in the complete pacification of a global civil society by promoting 350 ppm as a “safe operating limit for humanity.” Thus, the message so skillfully projected/orchestrated in tandem with media, that global citizens were not/are not in any immediate danger, provided the means to further destroy our shared environment in order to allow the very economic structure systemically destroying all life on Earth to continue unabashed. The message that can be summarized as “continue as you were” was (and continues to be) in stark contrast to the message laid out to humanity in 1988.

At the Changing Atmosphere conference in 1988, in Toronto, Canada, scientists, politicians and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) acknowledged the following:

“The stabilizing of the atmospheric concentrations of CO2 is an imperative goal. It is currently estimated to require reductions of more than 50 per cent from present [*1988] emission levels. Energy research and development budgets must be massively directed to energy options which would eliminate or greatly reduce CO2 emissions and to studies undertaken to further refine the target reductions.” [*In 1988 the average CO2 atmospheric concentration was 351.56 ppm.]

They warned that:

“Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment, whose ultimate consequences are second only to global nuclear war.”

Yet the non-profit industrial complex (in which both 350.org and its partner Ceres play leading roles) would have us believe that 25 years (over a quarter of a century) later, with atmospheric carbon emissions having exceeded 400 ppm, with planetary boundaries being surpassed, irreversible feedbacks having been set into motion, disappearing Arctic sea ice, ocean acidification, mass species eradication/extinctions, and hundreds of thousands of climate-related deaths each and every passing year, we can still afford to keep burning fossil fuels under the guise of “clean” energy and so-called carbon “budgets.”

“350 ppm is a death sentence.… The safe level of CO2 for SIDS (Small Island Developing States) is around 260 parts per million.… CO2 buildup must be reversed, not allowed to increase or even be stabilized at 350 ppm, which would amount to a death sentence for coral reefs, small island developing states, and billions of people living along low lying coastlines.” — Scientific & Technical Briefing to the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS), United Nations Climate Change Conference Copenhagen, Denmark, December 7-18, 2009 [1]

The NPIC Stop the KXL (Keystone XL pipeline extension) campaign qualifies as a brilliant and strategic, albeit suicidal, Trojan horse. Simultaneously, the campaign led by 350.org paved the way for our collective denialism to be embraced and embellished. For the past five years this multi-million-dollar campaign was relentless in the quest to ensure it was perceived as the key most important struggle in our climate struggle. Who can forget James Hansen referring to the KXL project as “the fuse to the largest carbon bomb on the planet” and “game over” for the climate? All while dialogue on consumption/growth fetish, industrialized capitalism, militarism, Fukushima/nuclear, transition to a plant-based diet, rapidly destabilizing methane hydrates (literal carbon bombs) and Warren Buffett’s newfound rail dynasty now transporting the same tar sands oil via bomb trains, was nowhere to be found. The focus on a single pipeline granted the American populace full permission to ignore the urgent need to connect the dots, as the window for any possible climate mitigation finally closed. Keep the economy growing was the underlying message. The chosen discourse, that of 350 ppm as our global target (the maximum / uppermost limit) was and remains an excellent way to avoid facing the fact that only by achieving virtual zero carbon emissions can the planet even begin to cool (cooling that would not even begin for centuries, if not thousands of years, after zero was achieved). Not to worry, once atmospheric CO2 reaches unfathomable numbers and the “target” of 350 ppm begins to sound ridiculous, 350.org et al will simply move on to the 400.org campaign. It’s already established and waiting in the virtual wings. [http://400.350.org/]

400.org

Above screenshot: 400.org campaign. It’s already established and waiting in the virtual wings. [http://400.350.org/]

Chalk up the bizarre fact that there appears to be no anger by the public whatsoever in response to this highly-financed recklessness and disregard for life. This is no doubt due to a lifetime of obedience, passivity, subservience and indoctrination – much of it hammered home, drilled into the ever more vacant minds, by the non-profit industrial complex itself. That being said, people will get mad as hell when the grocery store shelves go empty. Of course, that will be far too late.

“Even more disturbing is new research from Ballantyne, Axford et al. which says that during the Pliocene epoch, when CO2 levels were ~400 ppm, Arctic surface temperatures were 15-20°C warmer than today’s surface temperatures. They suggest that much of the surface warming likely was due to ice-free conditions in the Arctic.” [Source] Today, the Arctic sea ice is declining at an unprecedented speed. “Very soon we may experience the iconic moment when, one day in the summer, we look at satellite images and see no sea-ice coverage in the Arctic, just open water” (McKie, 2012).

+++

To clarify, only by achieving virtual zero carbon emissions can the planet even begin to cool. [“In fact, only in the case of essentially complete elimination of emissions can the atmospheric concentration of CO2 ultimately be stabilised at a constant level.” [http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/faq-10-3.html]

The concept of the “carbon budget” (legitimized by the Carbon Tracker et al reports, Bill McKibben (350.org) and the liberal left at large) is nothing more than a crafted mechanism that serves the reckless illusion that global society can continue to “safely burn” fossil fuels for many more decades. Ignore the fact that a “release of up to 50 Gt of predicted amount of hydrate storage [is] highly possible for abrupt release at any time”. [N. Shakhova, I. Semiletov, A. Salyuk, D. Kosmach, 2008] No, the mounting climate emergency is not today. Rather, it’s only a problem that we can put off dealing with until 30 years from now. (The so-called carbon budget will be discussed further in this report).

Apathy is slowly consuming the last vestiges of our humanity – we are slowly drowning in a sea of indifference.

Today, more than 25 years after the Changing Atmosphere conference in 1988, CO2 emissions have reached an all-time high. As corporate profits and corporate power have soared – so have emissions. The global community must acknowledge that the industrialized capitalist economic system cannot ensure our survival – it can only ensure our certain demise.

Ignoring the Fact that the Oligarchs Finance the “Movements”

The following excerpts [Further reading: Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse – Part 1V | Buffett Acquires the Non-Profit Industrial Complex] serve as an example of how the oligarchs fund the movements.

During the last four years, Americans have been coerced into focusing on a single, symbolic campaign to Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline. This campaign was funded in large part by the Tides Foundation, which distributes the funds (from other foundations) to qualifying NGOs and groups. The number one funder of the Tides Foundation leading up to and during this time period was none other than the NoVo Foundation, founded on monies provided by Warren Buffett. [“NoVo was created in 2006 after Warren Buffett pledged to donate 350,000 shares of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. stock to the foundation.”] It is maintained by Warren Buffett’s son, Peter Buffett (co-chair) and partner Jennifer Buffett (president and co-chair).

“Anonymity is very important to most of the people we work with.” — Drummond Pike, Founder of Tides

Drummond Pike founded Tides Foundation in 1976 [2]; the Tides Center in 1996 [3], the Advocacy Fund in 1994, Groundspring.org in 1999; Tides Inc. in 2003 [4], Tides Shared Spaces/Tides Two Rivers Foundation in 2004; and the Tides Network in 2006. [5]

By 2010, the combined cash flow of Tides regularly exceeded $200 million per year. Pike served as Chief Executive Officer of all Tides organizations until November 2010. [Source] Pike received an annual base compensation of $240,000 (2010) according to the 2010 Tides Foundation 990.

More recently, Pike was named a Principal with Equilibrium Capital (a private equity impact investing firm based in Portland – the very kind promoted by 350.org’s divestment campaign. (“Distribution and Sales: We raise and scale institutional-quality capital”) According to Tides, Pike is also volunteering time with Paladin Partners, LLC. Paladin Partners provides financial plans, consulting services, and investment services.

350credo

Pike currently serves on the Board of Directors of Working Assets, which he co-founded with Michael Kieschnick and Laura Scher. CREDO Mobile is a division of Working Assets. Prior to co-founding Credo Mobile (formerly known as Working Assets Wireless), Kieschnick served at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Kieschnick also served as an economic advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown of California (1980–1982), and helped create several “socially responsible” investment (SRI) funds [Wikipedia], again, the same SRI funds promoted by the 350.org divestment campaign.

Klein RAN

Photo: REVEL 2011 Awardee Naomi Klein with Michael Kieschnick. Michael Kieschnick is a co-founder (with Drummond Pike of Tides) and president of Credo Mobile. Image: Rainforest Action Network via Flickr. Rainforest Action Network’s ultra white and ultra elite annual benefit REVEL event. [6]

The Tides Foundation could be described as a priceless, magical, money-funneling machine of epic proportion for the oligarchs. It receives money from donors and then distributes these funds to the recipients of their choice. In this way, donors can strategically fund specific campaigns or specific organizations without ever disclosing their identities. These transactions are called “Anonymous Donor Advised Funds” or simply “Donor Advised Funds.” (Many such transactions are documented in the information that follows. The NoVo Foundation grants to Tides – both Tides Foundation and the Tides Center).

The Tides Foundation focuses on fundraising and grant-making, while the Tides Center operates as a fiscal sponsor (“to promote and support emerging social change and educational programs”), enticing novice NGOs with the shelter of Tides’ own charitable tax-exempt status, and other desirable/coveted benefits.

The far-right website, Activist Cash, is perceptive in their following observation:

“Tides does two things better than any other foundation or charity in the U.S. today: it routinely obscures the sources of its tax-exempt millions, and makes it difficult (if not impossible) to discern how the funds are actually being used…. In practice, ‘Tides’ behaves less like a philanthropy than a money-laundering enterprise… taking money from other foundations and spending it as the donor requires. Called donor-advised giving, this pass-through funding vehicle provides public-relations insulation for the money’s original donors. By using Tides to funnel its capital, a large public charity can indirectly fund a project with which it would prefer not to be directly identified in public…. In many cases, even the eventual recipient of the funding has no idea how Tides got it in the first place.

This fits the Buffett to NoVo to Tides to 350.org et al transactions – to a T.

As the following information will demonstrate, money (in the form of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway stock) was funnelled from Warren Buffett, to the Buffett family’s NoVo Foundation, to Tides, and finally to selected NGOs who led the Stop the Keystone XL campaign, which played a key role in Warren Buffett achieving his 21st century rail empire, thus brilliantly demonstrating the need for covert funding of highly financed “movements.”

Of course, these are not real movements but merely highly financed campaigns presented as “grassroots” movements. The sources of the funding (the wealthy elite, corporations, unions, other foundations, etc.) are “giving” the funds for specific reasons, campaigns and purposes – as the Buffett-NoVo-Tides transaction so clearly demonstrates. Thus, philanthropy should not be considered unbridled generosity, rather it should be considered strategic, long-term investment and tax evasion under the cloak of good will. Further, without an insider and/or documents, it’s almost impossible to follow the money, which is exactly why foundations are so imperative to the oligarchs that finance them to the tune of billions of dollars every year.

In 2010, the Keystone XL pipeline was pushed to the forefront by the non-profit industrial complex, in tandem with both mainstream and so-called progressive media, to become the main focus of the anti-tar sands campaign and indeed, the climate movement as a whole. While it deliberately and strategically captured the full attention of the populace, billionaire Warren Buffett, financial advisor to Barrack Obama, quietly built his 21st century rail dynasty and started shipping tar sands oil by rail with absolutely no dissent or interference. All eyes were on one single pipeline, which was, for the most part, already built.

In keeping with reality, perhaps it is necessary to outline the fact that Tides, recipient of millions of dollars (approximately $26 million since 2004) via the Buffett family’s NoVo Foundation, in turn, also channels hundreds of thousands of dollars into Ceres, with grants spiking up to and during the peak years of the Keystone XL campaign (years 2009, 1010 and 2011). (As disclosed previously, in 2010, Tides granted $150,000 to Ceres, with $100,000 of these funds specifically earmarked for a “tar sands campaign.” [Tides 990, 2010] As well, in 2008 Ceres received $50,000 from Wallace Global, also designated for a tar sands campaign.) [TIDES FUNDS TO CERES (LIST OF GRANTEES): 2011, $120,000 | 2010, $150,000 | 2009, $100,000 | 2006, $17,500 | 2004, $25,000.00]

It is of interest to note that Suzanne Nossel, former Executive Director of Amnesty International USA and trusted instrument of American hegemony, serves on Tides Board of Directors. On October 1, 2012, in the article “Amnesty Coup,” author Jay Taber writes: “As an experienced advocate for neoliberal coercion to achieve American hegemony, she has taken an aggressive pro-war stance over the last decade, including the US invasion of Iraq and the NATO bombing of Libya.”

All while:

“Gary D. Schwartz joins NoVo after fifteen years of service at Tides. He was the founder of the Tides’ New York office and served in many different capacities during his tenure there including Interim CEO before departing in 2014.” [Source]

The interlocking directorate contagion continues to thrive in the non-profit industrial complex.

 

 

 

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, Political Context, Counterpunch, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.]

WATCH | Eritrea: On the Hit-list of the West Because it Serves Eritreans Instead of Serving Empire

Eritrean Open Mic Interview – Mr Andre Viltcheck – Novelist – Filmmaker

Video uploaded December 6, 2014

To compliment this interview, the following is an excerpt from the Counterpunch article “Eritrea – African Ideological Ebola for Imperialists” (Weekend Edition December 12-14, 2014) by ANDRE VLTCHEK:

In the car, I am thinking about what Mr. Omar defined as ‘human rights’. Here, it is in direct contrast to what the expression stands for in the West. In the United States and in Europe, ‘human rights’ were created as an ideological tool, a weapon in the Cold War period. In Eritrea, it has a very simple meaning: feeding the people, giving them free education and medical care, building new roads, supplying them with electric power….

Eritrea is under fire; it is clearly on the hit-list of the West, because it serves its people, and because it is refusing to aid the Empire and the corporate world.

 

The West is using its toxic propaganda to the maximum, in order to smear the country.

 

It is also systematically boosting, financing and manufacturing ‘the opposition’, as it does all over the world.

 

Periodically, huge campaigns from the BBC and other sources of Western propaganda get pointed, directly, at Asmara.

 

For instance, at the height of the “coup” that never was (January 2012), African Strategies served as a defying force that helped patriots around the world counter the barrage of disinformation regarding Asmara and the Government of Eritrea spread by the so-called “experts”.

 

That is the time when the Western news channels and Al-Jazeera were reporting on the ‘rebellion’ in the capital city.

 

My local camera-person, Mr. Azmera, summarized the event:

 

“As the ‘coup’ was taking place, I was just leaving the Presidential compound, after working there for some time. I walked out, ate lunch… Then at 4PM I was called and told: ‘Al-Jazeera is reporting that there was a coup in Asmara!’ I just ignored them, and walked home.”

 

Read the full article: http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/12/12/african-ideological-ebola-for-imperialists/

 

***

 

 

[Andre Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. The result is his latest book: Fighting Against Western Imperialism‘Pluto’ published his discussion with Noam Chomsky: On Western Terrorism. His critically acclaimed political novel Point of No Return is re-edited and available. Oceania is his book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and the market-fundamentalist model is called “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. His feature documentary, “Rwanda Gambit” is about Rwandan history and the plunder of DR Congo. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.]

 

9 fotos que demuestran que los genios de Greenpeace sí dañaron las líneas de Nazca

Utero.pe

December 9, 20214

by Diego Pereira

 

La noticia más indignante del fin de año ocurrió ayer. Resulta que a esta gente se le ocurrió decorar una zona protegida por donde se supone que nadie debería siquiera transitar:

Foto: AP Images

Imperialism, Arrogance & Privilege on Full Display: Greenpeace Damages World-renowned Nazca Lines in Peru – Peru Seeks Criminal Charges

Associated Press

December 9, 2014

by Frank Bajak

542-ip8Fv.AuSt.55

LIMA, Peru (AP) – Peru will seek criminal charges against Greenpeace activists who damaged the world-renowned Nazca lines by leaving footprints in the adjacent desert during a publicity stunt, a senior government official said Tuesday.

“It’s a true slap in the face at everything Peruvians consider sacred,” Deputy Culture Minister Luis Jaime Castillo said of Monday’s action by the environmental group at the famed drawings etched into Peru’s coastal desert, a U.N. World Heritage site.

FLASHBACK 5 YEARS to 2009: The Most Important COP Briefing That No One Ever Heard | Truth, Lies, Racism & Omnicide

December 10, 2012

The Art of Annihilation

by Cory Morningstar

 

COP20-Logo-1920x1080

“This was nothing less than a colonisation of the sky. $10 billion is not enough to buy us coffins.” Lumumba Di-Aping

 

On December 11, 2009, one of the most important briefings in the history of the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP15) took place in Copenhagen. If we lived in a world in which what we see, what we are told, and what we believe matched our existing reality, this briefing would have become the basis of all future climate negotiations and discussions. Of course, that is not the world we live in. Rather, we live in a world of unfettered illusion that is fed and fetishized by a feast of denial, apathy, subservience, obedience, consumption and distraction.

Leading up to COP15, the institutionalized environmental “movement” united under an umbrella organization/campaign titled TckTckTck, a social media giant, contrived by some of the world’s most powerful corporations and the world’s most powerful marketing executives. (The trademark TckTckTck was registered, on November 30, 2009, by the EURO RSCG firm, a subsidiary of Havas Worldwide). [1] One such TckTckTck partner was the Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change consisting of corporations such as Shell, RBF and Coca-Cola. (Signatories here) When this information was uncovered and made public, TckTckTck removed them from their website. (See screenshot).

The Demands

“350 ppm is a death sentence.… The safe level of CO2 for SIDS (Small Island Developing States ) is around 260 parts per million.… CO2 buildup must be reversed, not allowed to increase or even be stabilized at 350 ppm, which would amount to a death sentence for coral reefs, small island developing states, and billions of people living along low lying coastlines.” AOSIS Briefing 2009 [2]

Despite the “demands” by the hope industry for a “fair, ambitious, binding agreement” – which consisted of an inadequate 40% global emission reductions by 2020, with no disclosed baseline – the G77, AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States), and the Bolivian government (under the leadership of Indigenous president, Evo Morales) aggressively pursued the scientific targets necessary in order for the world to avoid complete ecological collapse and a global genocide of unparalleled proportions. This empty demand of a “fair, ambitious, binding agreement” was the marketing centre of the campaign that grew from that oligarchy’s wet dream, the corporate social engineering creation, TckTckTck.

Bolivia and the AOSIS called for an agreement to keep the global temperature from exceeding no more than a 1ºC rise and to reduce atmospheric CO2 to 300 ppm. In stark contrast, the corporate nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) “demanded” that temperatures not exceed a +2ºC rise and further “demanded” that world emissions peak within 8 years (meaning that emissions would continue to increase, business as usual, for a further 8 years, at which point we would begin an effort to decrease). TckTckTck includes over 350 international partners (280 in 2009) including Avaaz, 350.org (who signed on at inception – see HAVAS pager/press release), Conservation International, Greenpeace International, World Wildlife Fund (and many more pro-REDD advocates and climate-wealth profiteers) as well as Climate Action Network International [3] who represents (and speaks on behalf of) over 700 NGOs. CAN also lobbies governments for REDD – a false solution that breeds a new form of climate racism and climate colonialism. [“In Africa, REDD is emerging as a new form of colonialism, slavery, economic subjugation and a driver of land grabs so massive that they may constitute a continent grab.”] [During COP15, a representative from the IPCC stated that at an increase of temperature just below 2 degrees above pre-industrial level, the poor, the vulnerable and the disenfranchised would not survive, and below 1.5 degrees there would be a chance of survival.]

Regarding the issue of human rights and climate justice, the hundreds of corporate NGOs, by campaigning to convince the public to accept the global average temperature further rising up to a 2ºC limit, thereby sanction most all species on this planet to an unprecedented annihilation within decades. (Note: Consider that at under +1ºC, we are already committed to a minimum +2.4ºC not including feedbacks [Ramanathan and Feng 2008 paper]. Further, note climate scientist James Hansen’s warning that even 1ºC now looks like an unacceptably high risk.)

While the non-profit industrial complex, including the vast majority of the climate justice movement, may have succeeded in keeping both their eyes wide shut, leaders of vulnerable countries did not. [Who Really Leads on the Environment? The “Movement” Versus Evo Morales].

 Truth

Artist: Abezgus E.V., Koretsky V.B. , Title: Neo- colonialism is nation’s robbery, Year: 1965

“I would rather die with my dignity than sign a deal that will channel my people into a furnace.” — Lumumba Di-Aping

One of the most inspiring leaders present at the COP15 was the ever so eloquent Lumumba Di-Aping, chief negotiator of the G77. (The G77 bloc is the major group of developing countries, many of which are among the most threatened by effects of climate change, as well as the largest developing country bloc represented at the COP15.) Although Di-Aping was Sudanese by birth, his parents (who called themselves “Lumumbist”) named Di-Aping after the famous Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba. (Lumumba, the anti-colonialist democratically-elected prime minister of the Congo, was assassinated in 1960 having been deemed a severe threat by the U.S. due to his uncompromising ideas of freedom and African unity. He played a leading role in the struggle for the liberation of Africa and all of Africa’s resources.)

At the historic press conference which took place on November 11, 2009 in Copenhagen, Di-Aping addressed the international NGO community. The conference room was packed with representatives of the non-profit industrial complex and corporate media complex, which includes the so-called progressive media. In a most direct approach, Di-Aping asked NGOs to support the demand that developed countries cut emissions 52% by 2017; 65% by 2020; and 80% by 2030 (based on a 1990 baseline). Further, Di-Aping asked the NGOs to demand GHG emission cuts well above 100% by 2050, which would (perhaps) keep the global temperature from exceeding a rise of no more than 1.5ºC. These targets, if met, would perhaps allow Africa to merely stay alive.

A 2ºC rise in global temperature, which the non-profit industrial complex campaigned upon, would mean a 3.5ºC rise for Africa. This temperature is certain death for the African peoples – certain death for billions. In addition, a 2ºC global temperature rise guarantees a minimum 4ºC+ global temperature for future generations. In the film footage provided below, one bears witness to Di-Aping speaking directly to the Climate Action Network (International) representatives.

One must note the disturbing irony. After the press conference was finished, a standing ovation erupted. The room shook with an audience both inspired and enraptured. Depending on one’s depth of understanding of foundations, corporate power structures and the non-profit industrial complex, one may or may not be surprised at what happened afterwards, which was, quite simply, nothing. The white ivory towers, ever so acquiescent to their hegemonic rulers, wrote off the African people by continuing their “demand” for “a fair, ambitious, binding agreement.” In other words: “Sorry about your bad luck, Africa. Enjoy your future of hell on Earth … and fuck you.”

The non-profit industrial complex, with CAN and TckTckTck at the forefront, stuck to their 2ºC and other suicidal (non)targets. The climate justice groups dared on occasion to demand that temperatures not exceed 1.5ºC, while any discussion demanding that 1ºC be supported and campaigned upon sent this faction, too, running scared like frightened field mice. Climate justice amounted to nothing more than a branded trademark. Silence and compliance reigned as the champagne circuit discussed career options over cocktails.

Below are excerpts from the only transcript that exists.

“The second issue is the issue of reductions of emissions. There must be radical reductions of emissions starting from now. In our view, by 2017 we should cut, developed countries must cut by 52%, 65% by 2020, 80% by 2030, well above 100 [percent] by 2050. And this is very important because the more you defer action the more you condemn millions of people to immeasurable suffering. So the idea that you start from 4% today and you achieve 80 or 50 in 2050 simply means that you do not care about the lives of those who will be devastated in this period, until you pick up the pace.”

“… and I will say this to our colleagues from Western civil society — you have definitely sided with a small group of industrialists and their representatives and your representative branches. Nothing more than that. You have become an instrument of your governments. Whatever you say, whether you think it’s because it’s tactically shrewd or not, it’s an error that you should not continue to make.”

“So ask yourself, are your executive branches climate skeptics, notwithstanding their addresses like the prime minister of the UK that the cost of inaction on climate change is irreparable. His actions say he’s worse than the worst of climate skeptics. If he had asked bankers to pocket 300 billion dollars because of ‘incentivizing’ profit-seeking activities and he says 500 million is the maximum that the United Kingdom government can afford to pay to support climate change, what are we saying? What are you saying? I wonder what the distinguished colleagues from CAN are saying about that.”

“Many of you equally, and I will say this, and I would have never thought that one day I will accuse a civil society of such a thing. Dividing the G77, or helping divide the G77, is simply something that should be left to the CIAs, the KGBs and the rest [not the NGOs].”

“It’s mind boggling, and I say this having been the beneficiary of absolute support from civil society. Many of you may not know this, I come from southern Sudan. We’ve been through wars for almost 90% of our lives since independence, so I’m not sure what happened exactly to the civil society that I do know or at least knew.”

“If you have received help that enabled you to rebuild your economies and to become prosperous, how come suddenly you have turned mean? Because that 2.5 billion dollars is definitely what some of the big western industrialists lose without a sleep over a trade [lose over a trade without losing any sleep].”

Raw Footage, Lumumba Di-Aping, December 11, 2009 [Running time: 12:30]

Three days earlier, on December 8, 2009, a meeting comprised of approximately 100 African representatives of the non-profit industrial complex was announced. At the onset of this impromptu gathering (which also included a small handful of African parliamentarians), it was requested by the organizers that all microphones be turned off in order to ensure that discussions about to take place would not be recorded. (It must be noted that Di-Aping made a point of turning his microphone on.) Following introductions, Di-Aping was given the floor. Standing before the audience, Di-Aping was still. Initially he did not speak. Rather, he sat silent, as tears streamed down his face. After a long silence, Di-Aping spoke in unabashed candor. He cradled his head in his hands and stated: “We have been asked to sign a suicide pact.” The silence was deafening. The audience froze. People had no idea of how one should react to a powerful negotiator, an African elder if you like, exhibiting – in fact sharing – his raw emotions.

“This] is asking Africa to sign a suicide pact, an incineration pact in order to maintain the economic dependence of a few countries. It’s a solution based on values that funnelled six million people in Europe into furnaces.” — Lumumba Di-Aping commenting on the (non-binding) Copenhagen accord

After regaining his composure, in methodical tone, Di-Aping meticulously explained the science demonstrating why the 2ºC target being sought by the leading obstructionist states was not only certain death for Africa, but also representative of a new type of climate fascism being imposed on the African people. Di-Aping pointed out that the African negotiating delegations were weak, due to many having been “bought off” by the industrialized states, while simultaneously members of the South Africa delegation had aggressively sought to disrupt the unity of the bloc. Di-Aping, stressing the urgent need to hold Africa’s negotiators to account and the difficult struggle ahead, was unequivocal in his assessment, bluntly stating, “You have no idea of the powers that are arrayed against you.”

One example of a foundation serving as a front group for US industrialists cited by Di-Aping was the Climate Works Foundation. The CEO of Climate Works is William K. Reilly. Prior to his position with Climate Works, Reilly served as the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, president of the World Wildlife Fund, president of The Conservation Foundation, and director of the Rockefeller Task Force on Land Use and Urban Growth. As well, he headed the U.S. Delegation to the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development in Rio in 1992.

Di-Aping called upon the NGOs to demand that their African leaders reject the agreement and further, to make very clear demands. Di-Aping suggesting campaigning on the slogans: “One Africa, one degree” and “Two degrees is suicide.”

After the meeting was concluded, Di-Aping apologized to those present explaining that as a child in Sudan, he was taught that it was “better to stand and cry than to walk away.”

Plato’s Climate Justice

It is beyond obvious that the word “justice” loses all of its meaning when the “climate justice” movement 1) refuses to support what is necessary in order for the world’s most vulnerable to simply survive, and 2) refuses to represent those on the front lines of climate change who have pleaded with them to represent the interests of the world’s most vulnerable. In Plato’s Republic, Thrasymachus argues that justice is mere trickery – the interest of the strong – nothing more than a name for what the powerful elites or cunning ruler have imposed on the people. This description seems to fit like a velvet glove within this context.

It is interesting to note that the taping of this conference can be found under Rockefeller’s 1Sky (now officially/publicly merged with 350.org) video archives where they highlight under the description: “Pt. 1 includes sections ‘Introduction’, ‘Importance of 1.5 degrees C and 350ppm’, and ‘Unacceptable targets and resulting deaths.’” In both parts 2 and 3 as well as in other video clips of this same press conference, 1Sky neglects to make mention of Di-Aping’s scathing comments regarding the conduct of the NGOs. Thus, 1Sky/350.org provides an inadequate description of the press conference to those they falsely claim to represent – purposely neglecting to highlight the significant fact that the G77 had requested that NGOs campaign on the absolute necessity of deep and immediate emissions cuts. There is no disputing the fact that 1Sky/350.org et al purposely rejected these ambitious emissions targets. [Further reading: Rockefellers’ 1Sky Unveils the New 350.org | More $ – More Delusion andThe Climate Cartel: 1Sky, 350.org and Rockefeller Brothers | Stronger as One]

Of little surprise was the fact that corporate media gave no coverage to the Di-Aping press conference. The so-called “progressive” media, incidentally also funded by the corporate elites via their tax-exempt foundations, were also silent when it came to sharing the very critical issues Di-Aping had spoken of on the international stage. Controlling, manipulating and shaping public opinion has never been such a good investment. It has never been so easy. Ironically, the same “dirty oil money” that funds the “polluters” as decried by “the left” is the same “dirty oil money” that funds the environmental movement. Even the “scruffy little outfits” have lined up to get a taste of the candy. And once they taste it, they’re hooked, bought and sold – all in one breath.

As to be expected, the corporate creation TckTckTck also buried the Di-Aping press conference. TckTckTck boasts 17 million followers. “Followers” is indeed an appropriate description – like sheep to the slaughter. TckTckTck can ask 17 million followers to buy a video game for 9.99 to “save the planet” (“because today you can change the Fate of the world for only $9.99!”) yet they will not and cannot distribute any reports of relevance. 350.org, which claims to have “the most powerful brand in the world,” did not share Di-Aping’s pleas. 350.org promotes climate scientist James Hansen as their “350 messenger” in order to legitimize their “brand,” yet they will not and cannot distribute Hansen’s scientist papers (or even summaries) to their followers. Climate Action Network (CAN) International, “representing” over 700 NGOs, did not share Di-Aping’s pleas. Nor did the climate justice movement itself.

“…[B]eyond 1 degree C may elicit rapid, unpredictable and non-linear responses that could lead to extensive ecosystem damage.” — 1990, United Nations Advisory Group on Greenhouse Gases

The stakes, for all life on the planet, surpass those of any previous crisis humanity has ever witnessed. The disappearance of the 1ºC maximum temperature rise cited in 1990 by the United Nations may well be considered the greatest crime against humanity of all time. [http://theartofannihilation.com/category/articles-2010/expose-the-2o-death-dance-the-1o-cover-up-part-i/] The greatest danger we face today is continued ignorance, denial and obedience, as methane torches erupt and ice sheets disintegrate at an ever accelerating pace.

One may wonder if grossly undermining the ambitious positions put forward by Bolivia, ALBA states, the G77 and small island states was part of the “critical work” the non-profit industrial complex speaks of.

In fact, it was.

What the public and, tragically, what remains in the charred ashes of the environmental movement itself, neglects to understand is that the critical work that the non-profit industrial complex performs brilliantly is not work to advance civil society, who these self-appointed NGOs falsely claim to represent. Rather, the critical work is performed in the spirit of “bread and circuses” for those who the non-profit industrial complex serves first and foremost – their funders.

The Movement is Racist

“It is unfortunate that after 500 years-plus of interaction with the West, we [Africans] are still considered disposables.” — Lumumba Di-Aping

The question must be asked: was this deliberate dismissal of Lumumba Di-Aping’s briefing nothing more than blatant racism? The short answer to this question is an unequivocal yes.

An underlying, perhaps subconscious, yet very real and deep-rooted racism (or at least a complete obliviousness to that which is considered “other”) very quietly hums along beneath the entire system – resulting in the EuroAmerican-dominated environmental “movement” acquiescing to the industrialized capitalist system. Thus the reality of those oppressed and exploited on the receiving end of the system is an inconvenient fact that is ignored at all costs by practically everyone (predominantly the privileged white) within the complex.

“Aversive racism is a term coined by Joel Kovel to describe the subtle racial behaviors of any ethnic or racial group act who rationalize their aversion to a particular group based on majority rules and stereotypes. People who behave in an aversively racial way have beliefs in egalitarianism, but will often deny their racially motivated behavior, or shift behavior when dealing with a member of a minority group. Most of this behavior is considered to be implicit or subconscious. Though Kovel coined the term, most of the research has been done by John F. Dovidio and Samuel L. Gaertner.” [Source: Wikipedia]

There is no other sound explanation for how those who state they are “fighting” for “climate justice” were/are willing to undermine countries like Bolivia, Tuvalu and the G77, AOSIS and ALBA states, with a full understanding that millions more lives will be lost. The true grassroots organizations that actually tell the full truth and fight for what is necessary (Earth Peoples, and Global Coral Reef Alliance as just two examples) are marginalized and isolated to the point of invisibility by the complex.

There is no other sound explanation for the dead silence on the ongoing genocide in the Congo since 1996. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, President Hyppolite Kanambe (alias Joseph Kabila) of the Congo are the three “leaders”  facilitating the Western pillage and occupation of Central Africa, responsible in large part for over ten million people dead since the U.S.-backed invasion of 1996. Of course, these are the African faces of Western occupation and imperialism. [4] This genocide far exceeds that of the Holocaust, which to this day is seared into the minds of all EuroAmerican societies. Yet the question must be asked, what if these men, women and children of the Congo were white? After 19 years of suffering and death, the Congo remains locked under illegal occupation by the Imperialist powers, including the United Nations itself.

On September 11, 2001, 3,000 people, predominately white Americans, were killed when the Word Trade Center’s twin towers were destroyed in New York. This operation opened up the door for an unparalleled slaughter in the Middle East, which only continues to escalate. The illegal occupations and covert wars (Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan) are now expanding far beyond Iraq, Afghanistan, most recently with the invasion and decimation of Libya (2011) resulting in as many as or more than 100,000 deaths. This NATO-led imperialist invasion under the guise of “humanitarian intervention” instilled and incited a most horrific and unimaginable racial “cleansing” of the black population, including black women, whose breasts were cut off their bodies with machetes.

Not only was the NGO community silent, 78 NGOs (again, predominantly white) led the way for the invasion. When the “evidence” (which provided a premise for NATO entry into the country) presented by the NGOs was proven false, was the international community horrified? Did the NGOs apologize profusely for their pivotal role in the slaughter and the obliteration of an entire country that, prior to the invasion, possessed the best living standards in all of Africa? No, not on your life. Instead, they are adamant to carry out a repeat performance in Syria. Yet another imperialist-imposed destabilization. And when an Italian grassroots anti-war group organized an urgent appeal to the UN to demand the opposite – no foreign intervention – and distributed it to the international community of NGOs, how receptive was “the movement”? Although the U.S. and Canada have been integral in placing sanctions upon Syria, with the U.S. chomping at the bit to invade, only one organization in Canada and one single organization in the United States endorsed this appeal, in spite of an urgent call-out for signatures including distribution within an international climate justice network. This is important to note as the so-called climate justice movement has full knowledge of militarism’s massive contribution to our escalating climate crisis.

Also in 2011, the non-profit industrial complex was implicated in an attempted destabilization of Bolivia. The NGOs (Avaaz, Amazon Watch, Democracy Center) who led/lead this charge (demonizing Indigenous president Evo Morales) excel in the manipulation of the public while money channeled from US powers (state and foundations) via USAID and CIDOB (Confederación de Pueblos Indígenas del Oriente Boliviano) focus on coercion and manipulation within Indigenous populations, utilizing soft power where tensions may currently already exist. Hard power is the strategy of coercion via force, whereas soft power is coercing via manipulation and seduction – like a slow, methodical, death dance. There are no organizations in a better position to employ soft power methods than those that comprise the non-profit industrial complex.

npicisdirty

This complex has become an essential tool for the power-hungry imperialist states, ever more threatened by the increasing rise of the Global South who resolutely, in unity, work towards severing the chains of enslavement, imperialism and colonialism, once and for all. A long-term strategic objective of Western policy planners is to prevent such independence by any means necessary. Thus, the destruction of any/all independent sovereign states (such as Libya, Syria, Iran, etc.) and the destabilization, isolation and encirclement of the rising global powers (in particular China and Russia) is crucial. Further, the welfare of the people is of absolutely no concern to those who salivate in the wings, waiting for the opportune moment to invade under the guise of humanitarian intervention. Puppet governments installed by the imperialist states don’t serve their citizens (who are completely irrelevant in the eyes of the corporatocracy), but rather provide a false legitimacy for the occupation of the seized state in order to grant business contracts to the colonial powers and global corporations while privatizing all services. Case in point: Despite the Congo being the world’s largest supplier of both copper and coltan, and many other precious minerals, the total tax revenue on these products in 2006-7 amounted to a miniscule £32 million. “This is surely far less than what even the most useless neo-colonial puppet would have demanded.” [Source: http://www.gata.org/node/5651]

Also Ignored by the Non-Profit Industrial Complex at COP15

  • UNFCCC was already, a binding agreement. So was the Kyoto Protocol.
  • The world was already far beyond dangerous interference with the climate system, according to both James Hansen and John Holdren.
  • Although tipping points were almost always spoken of in the future tense, methane hydrates had already begun venting, shocking the scientific community.
  • Bolivia’s position paper cited that global temperatures must not exceed 1ºC and the world must return to 300 ppm. Ignoring Bolivia’s leadership, the “movement” called for a full degree higher (2ºC) and 350 ppm. 350 ppm is in fact considered the very upper limit / maximum limit for mere stabilization by James Hansen.
  • The fact that climate scientist Kevin Anderson warned the world that by 2050 a mere half billion people would perhaps survive (based on a 4ºC global temperature rise, which is our current minimum trajectory, and a population of 9 billion).
  • That only by achieving zero carbon (as recognized by IPCC) can the Earth even begin to cool.
  • That the Ramanathan & Feng (2008) paper suggests we are committed today to a minimum 2.4ºC rise even if we were to achieve zero emissions tomorrow.
  • That feedbacks, once they are fully operational, are irreversible.
  • That militarism (whose emissions are exempted) is one of the primary contributors to climate change. “My view is that the climate has already crossed at least one tipping point, about 1975-1976, and is now at a runaway state, implying that only emergency measures have a chance of making a difference.… The costs of all of the above would require diversion of the trillions of dollars from global military expenditures to environmental mitigation.” — Andrew Glikson, Earth/Paleoclimate Scientist
  • That industrialized livestock contributes over 50% of all GHG emissions.
  • That the industrialist capitalist system is the very root cause of climate change. The climate crisis can neither be solved nor averted within this economic system.

After COP15 – The People’s Agreement

Why is it that the video of Venezuela’s fiery Claudia Salerno, who refused to stay silent on the bribery and blackmailing taking place within the COP17 corridors, was not publicized by the movement? Why is it that Bolivia’s Forest Proposal received/receives no support from “the movement”? (Instead they chase the REDD scheme, which is being opposed by indigenous groups across the planet.) Why is it, even though “the movement” claims it wants real action on climate change, they absolutely refuse to endorse the People’s Agreement? [5] Further, the same question must be put to civil society: Why is it, although civil society claims to want real action on climate change, they are only interested in symbolic organizations and meaningless token gestures? Why do we have 17 million citizens following TckTckTck and only 438 following the People’s Agreement? Surely civil society must acknowledge that these are the choices we make and that we make alone. No one has a gun to our heads (yet). Is it simply because the world’s most powerful NGOs are composed of largely white “leaders”? We claim disgust at symbolic, empty gestures, yet, when given the choice of what we wish to support – the People’s Agreement or the meaningless “fair, ambitious, binding agreement” – we fall over one another lusting after the shiny green patina that emulates the American empire, an empire of death, racism, genocide and colonialism. And like the empire, with the other rich nations, the international NGO community believes that they are the chosen ones, in control of the world. The champagne circuit is alive, well, wealthy – and predominantly white.

Further Irony

In 1990, an international environmental NGO believed that policy must reflect the understanding that the world must not exceed a 1ºC temperature rise. Approximately two decades later, with a full climate crisis now engulfing the planet, this same NGO “fought” in Copenhagen for a binding agreement that would allow the Earth to further warm to a full 2ºC. Who was this NGO? None other than TckTckTck partner, Greenpeace, at whose helm sits Kumi Naidoo. And who is the chair of TckTckTck? Kumi Naidoo. The token “black” of the non-profit industrial complex, donned with a white mask – the non-profit version of Obama.

Today

Consider the vulgarity of this following fact. One percent of Earth’s citizens are creating 50% of the global GHG emissions. This means that 99% of the non-profit industrial complex and those they protect, in others words, most all those attending the United Nations Conferences on behalf of the wealthy states, are the very ones demanding they be allowed to continue unprecedented gluttony. In the opposite corner, we have Bolivia, many of the African states, and ALBA states – a collective of the poorest people on the planet (in a monetary sense), whose emissions are almost irrelevant – pleading with us to live within reason, simply so they can live at all. Some would describe this as a call for simple decency. While to deny a populace the right to simply live may appear to be normal conduct for state “leaders,” the fact that professional “activists” uphold the same doctrine demonstrates unequivocally that everything can be justified and anyone is disposable when it comes to protecting white privilege.

Three years later at COP18 in Doha, Bolivia once more leads on the world stage. Alone. Again. One would be hard pressed to find even one organization endorsing or promoting Bolivia’s alternate proposal to REDD or any other futurist ideologies that Bolivia has put forward to share with the world – this from one of the most poverty-ridden states in the world. Although poor monetarily, Bolivia’s unsurpassed wealth of knowledge, compassion and visionary philosophies makes it clear that in reality it is the EuroAmerican mindset that is pitiful, starved and depraved.

2ºC = 4ºC = Omnicide

“Truth is treason in an empire of lies.” — George Orwell

Today, states and complying scientists are quietly recommending a 2ºC to 2.5ºC target; although most subtle, this target is now to be perceived and thus portrayed as transient warming. Meaning it is not being thought of/identified any longer as equilibrium warming, as the specific 1996 EU target was meant to be (the EU target was where the 2ºC guardrail came from: policy, not science). This means that “experts” (influential institutions and scientific bodies who obediently tow the line) are now in effect recommending that we heat the planet to 4ºC. While Professor Kevin Anderson explains that to avoid catastrophic climate change impacts, 1ºC is the new 2ºC and while climate scientist James Hansen states unequivocally that 1ºC is the true danger limit, we are now being prepared to submissively accept 4ºC. The fact is that to avoid 2ºC equilibrium we must limit warming to no more than 1ºC this century. [6] We either drastically conserve and sacrifice today or bury our children tomorrow. And of course, we cannot hold the temperature at 1ºC under the current economic system – the industrialized capitalist system, the very root cause of our climate crisis. The crisis is profound and unprecedented. Collectively, we steadfastly refuse to acknowledge the severity of our multiple crises, our most daunting of challenges and the harshest of realities – all staring at us directly in the face. We look back only to see ourselves.

Why it Matters

“NGOs of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your funding.” — Ashwin Desai

The so-called environmental movement refuses to acknowledge, let alone discuss, the fact that it’s been bought, sold and muzzled, and now lies in ruins in a pile of ashes. Civil society remains largely unaware of this truth, let alone the key factors behind it. And this in itself is tragic, because this issue is one of the key factors as to why we, as a global society, have failed to mitigate our environmental crisis, and why we continue to advance further to the very precipice. Trained from birth to not challenge authority, to not offend, to be obedient, to be polite – we remain silent. Yes, impeccable manners, avoid conflict, and above all, do not question those who “know best.” Our deeply internalized passivism is as great a threat as the forthcoming climate apocalypse itself.

Ignorance really is bliss and I do want change as long as that means nothing really changes. Please pass the soma.

Implications

The implications are many. It is clear that those who claim non-profit status, on the basis that they represent civil society, clearly do not. This then presents the question as to who elected these NGOs who falsely claim to represent civil society, all while serving corporate interests? The logical question that then follows, the question that must be asked, is what constitutes criminal negligence? If countries like Bolivia and G77 are prepared to take the radical, necessary positions to avert annihilation, what does it say about our environmental movement when it resolutely undermines them? If we dismiss this factual information, what does this disclose about us? Do we deserve anything more than the representation we are receiving if we deny the facts? Finally, how can governments expect to take the necessary positions if, when they do, they do not receive the support of civil society?

Lastly, what the hell do we expect when our entire movement is funded by the very same interests that are intent on destroying us? We need to stop defending and finding excuses for those selling us out and start defending our children from a future being shaped and moulded by the global oligarchy. We can’t have it both ways.

“So, I want just to say join hands with those of us who really want a real change, because I’m confident it will come. And it will come, let me say this, whether you do or don’t. But let it not be the case that western civil society sided with the powers that be in the West. Thank you. [Thundering Applause]” Lumumba Di-Aping

In the volumes of information that will be left on our finite planet when all traces of life have, for the most part, disappeared, the film footage of Ambassador Lumumba Stanislaus-Kaw Di-Aping of the G77 will serve as a testament to who was responsible for criminal negligence, crimes against humanity, and finally, lastly, a global genocide destroying most all life: the non-profit industrial complex.

 

 

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, Political Context, Counterpunch, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents.]

 

Notes:

Briefing to Civil Society NGOs by Ambassador Lumumba Stanislaus Di-Aping. December 11th, 2009.

Full transcript:

Thank you for, I suppose, inviting me to address you this afternoon. As you know, the last few days since the beginning of this conference we have witnessed many events. I’m going to go very quickly through what I do consider to be the most critical aspects for a successful outcome in this conference. And this is of particular importance to us. We do believe that civil society and the parliament have a very critical role for our success. Without you the executive branches can get away with anything.

Now, what do we really believe are the critical success factors that we have to unite behind, because these are not simply negotiable for us as developing countries.

The first fundamental that we have to agree on at 5(4) is the issue of the 1.5 degree Celsius and the 350 ppm. And the centrality of this is because a deal that cannot save God, humanity and nature is not a deal that we should entertain in the first place. Those who articulated a perspective and tried to persuade us that the 2 degrees Celsius is a sound choice have made a trade off between life, humanity, and profit-seeking pursuits. It has no base in science. The very reports that they try to persuade us that they are based on, do not support their case. The IPCC AR4 [4th Assessment Report] says that two degrees Celsius will result in Africa warming up to 3.5[C] and the small islands states equally being threatened by the sea level rise. I will say this and I will say it with absolute conviction. Two degrees Celsius is certain death for Africa, is certain devastation of island states.

The policy decision maker, the scientists who try to do that, is definitely not only ill-advising others, he is ill-advising himself. So that’s one fundamental, if not the starting proposition for beginning sound negotiations and discussions.

The second issue is the issue of reductions of emissions. There must be radical reductions of emissions starting from now. In our view, by 2017 we should cut, developed countries must cut by 52%, 65% by 2020, 80% by 2030, well above 100 [percent] by 2050. And this is very important because the more you defer action the more you condemn millions of people to immeasurable suffering.

So the idea that you start from 4% today and you achieve 80 or 50 in 2050 simply means that you do not care about the lives of those who will be devastated in this period, until you pick up the pace. And this is one of the reasons we have asked the American administration, the American people, President Obama to join the effort and to join Kyoto Protocol.

We must defend Kyoto Protocol. And those who think that not defending Kyoto Protocol is the way forward are totally misguided because if you eliminate the balance of obligations between developed and developing countries — and I will say this to our colleagues from Western civil society — you have definitely sided with a small group of industrialists and their representatives and your representative branches. Nothing more than that. You have become an instrument of your governments. Whatever you say, whether you think it’s because it’s tactically shrewd or not, it’s an error that you should not continue to make.

Having said that, we do believe equally that a very significant, substantial financial package, both for short term and long term, is necessary. How do we define that? Simple. We must avail, or developed countries must avail in the next 5 years, fast track financing. That fast track financing is the equivalent of 1% of the GNP of developed countries. It’s around 400 to 500 billion dollars depending on where … what happens to their economies. Of this, 150 billion dollars can be issued with immediate effect because, as we speak today, the IMF is sitting over 283 billion dollars’ worth of SDR’s [Special Drawing Rights or supplementary foreign exchange reserve assets defined and maintained by the International Monetary Fund] that are not allocated. Simply sitting doing absolutely nothing, when we face a threat.

Many of you would say 400 billion dollars is a lot of money. Well, think about how much is being poured into your defence budgets and which wars are you fighting. Is there another war greater than this war on climate change?  I don’t think so. But let me equally give you the fallacy related to how big this amount is. The European [Union] today were proud to announce that there would be 2.3 billion or 2.5 billion dollars available from now until 2012. Well, the sad news is 300 billion dollars was the amount of money that bankers in London city pocketed this year.

So ask yourself, are your executive branches climate skeptics, notwithstanding their addresses like the prime minister of the UK that the cost of inaction on climate change is irreparable. His actions say he’s worse than the worst of climate sceptics. If he had asked bankers to pocket 300 billion dollars because of “incentivizing” profit-seeking activities and he says 500 million is the maximum that the United Kingdom government can afford to pay to support climate change, what are we saying? What are you saying? I wonder what the distinguished colleagues from CAN are saying about that.

Moreover, would you believe that, what is important here, in this particular conference, is decision making. There is a lot of fallacy being spread that we need a new legal instrument. Well, a decision is a legal instrument. A court decision is binding. An executive decision is binding.

A legal instrument means that you as civil society are choosing that there shall be no actions for another 15 to 20 years. Think about the journey from the Stockholm Conference to the UNFCCC [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change]. How many years did it take the environmentalists to convince many decision makers that right action on environment is actually the pursuit of greener, low-carbon, carbon emissions?

Many of you equally, and I will say this, and I would have never thought that one day I will accuse a civil society of such a thing. Dividing the G77, or helping divide the G77, is simply something that should be left to the CIAs, the KGBs and the rest [not the NGOs]. [Applause]

It’s mind boggling, and I say this having been the beneficiary of absolute support from civil society. Many of you may not know this, I come from southern Sudan. We’ve been through wars for almost 90% of our lives since independence, so I’m not sure what happened exactly to the civil society that I do know or at least knew.

Now, I want to go back to other issues because it’s critical that we be very clear to each other. United States and United States people and United States civil society have a very important role to play. One reason is because United States is P1 [pledge 1? page 1?]. Another reason is because United States is the greatest emitter, historically and by per capita. And it is important because it wields huge power, both of influence and of signalling direction.

And that basically [is] what led us to conclude and call upon President Obama to join the Kyoto Protocol. We understand the difficulties he is in. The deep sense of conservative isolationism. It’s an American phenomenon that you all know. United States was reluctant to do anything during the catastrophe of the Second World War, until Churchill managed to persuade them to join in. But when they joined, peace prevailed and came into existence in Europe. They have this notion of exceptionalism. And that I think, this day, is to think of ourselves as one human family.

I thought that [is] what the United States signalled when they voted President Obama into office. So notwithstanding the difficulties in the United States, I think any simple analysis makes one conclude that the problem is not with the Congress, the problem is with the conservative laggard of an industrial complex. So we have to, you have to, play an important role to persuade your Congress and to move forward. Join hands with those children who wrote a letter to President Obama to join, to preserve Kyoto Protocol.

And I want to say something else. We should stop, equally, pushing this notion that the world must continue along the conflict and misguided sense of competition between the Occidentals and the Orientals … that China is the obstacle [right here?]. Three things we say about China and you all know about it. There are more poor people in China than in the entire of Africa. The only way to help China reduce rapidly its emissions is to help it through transfer of technology. Rapid transfer of technology in order to reduce emissions. Because the third neck of this argument: the poor Chinese have arrived, which we must support and that is [the why?] to development.

The conservative thinking that it’s all about nationalists trying to take advantage or starting a competitive advantage is not going to happen. So what I ask of Obama is to join as a president, as the leader of the industrialized nations, is to join Kyoto Protocol, is to refuse a deal based on 2% [degrees] that would condemn Africa and small islands to death, and to help finance the global deal on climate change.

Remember what the United States did, after the war, to Europe. The United States then was … had the size of 66% of the global economy. They launched a Marshall Plan. The Marshall Plan was 3.2% of the U.S. economy.  And that in addition to the fact, when you factor in the fact that Europe had the capacity and the know-how, you can see that the total package necessary as a starting point for addressing climate change, from public finance, is not less than 5%. And it’s commonsensical. Think about it in this way, without going into economics. If you have a house that has decayed or if you have a school in your neighbourhood that has been built or infected by asbestos, how much would it cost to repair? It’s not less than 30% of the price of that.

So, I do believe that if the United States did that before, President Obama should follow in that tradition and say to the rest of the world, “We are able. We have more than sufficient financing and capital to help, not only the poor, but to help ourselves because ultimately after we are destroyed, there will be many Katrinas [hurricanes] in the United States.”

If you have received help that enabled you to rebuild your economies and to become prosperous, how come suddenly you have turned mean? Because that 2.5 billion dollars is definitely what some of the big western industrialists lose without a sleep over a trade [lose over a trade without losing any sleep].

And I do want you to ask President Obama a simple question. Because as much as he’s an American citizen, he is an extended citizen, if there is such a notion, of Africa. Then doesn’t that lay on him any moral obligation to do what he can? Shouldn’t he commit to the principles of which many of us find ourselves fascinated and grateful that there is somebody like him today being the president of United States. Because if it’s because his advisors are part and parcel of the Bush administration, or the [regularized?] Democrats, then he should do something about that. He is the president after all. If it’s because he is thinking that this will save his political life for a next term, then inaction will actually lead to the opposite. A leader acts, a leader helps formulate the right policies, the right direction. That’s why one is a leader. A leader takes the toughest stance. If health care is so important and he is fighting that battle, climate change is as 100 times more important and it is your job as American civil society to help build that momentum. Yes, your task is a tough one because you’re moving from a very low base, but that’s part of life.

We will not give up because the West have power, absolute power, and accept whatever choices they will make.  We will continue to defend the interests of our people and the whole world. This equally applies with Australians, New Zealand and Japan and many other developed countries’ leaders. Many of them have been elected for office because they claim they support climate change, but then you have to give it to the lobbyists — they are definitely smooth operators. They twist their minds in such a short time that somebody like Kevin Rudd suddenly  moves from where he was, somebody who in Bali was the only prime minister who came to Bali to say “Climate change matters.” And then his delegation here is the complete opposite of that.

So, I want just to say join hands with those of us who really want a real change, because I’m confident it will come. And it will come, let me say this, whether you do or don’t. But let it not be the case that western civil society sided with the powers that be in the West. Thank you. [Applause]

ENDNOTES

[1] SIGNIFICANT OMISSIONS IN TCKTCKTCK: As demands for the TckTckTck (http://tcktcktck.org) campaign for COP15, the organizers, allies and partners were calling for developed states to reduce developed country emissions by at least 40% by 2020. While most developed and developing states were calling for developed states to use 1990 as a baseline, the TckTckTck campaign did not have a baseline. Consequently what they were calling for was way below what developing states were demanding. How could an NGO campaign have a percentage reduction without a baseline date? In the TckTckTck campaign demands, it was stated: “Reduce developed country emissions by at least 40% by 2020.” Is that from 2009 levels? Or Canadian 2006 levels, or US 2005 levels? It is far from what most of the developing states wanted, at least 45% from 1990 levels. Apart from calling for stabilization by 2015, the TckTckTck campaign had no commitment for subsequent years, such as calling for the reduction of global emissions by at least 95% from 1990 levels by 2050. The TckTckTck campaign was silent on a 2050 commitment. The key issues at COP15 were i) the need for a common baseline such as 1990, and the need for developed states to commit to a high percentage reduction of greenhouse gases from the 1990 baseline, and ii) the urgent demand to not have the temperature rise exceed 1 degree above pre-industrialized levels and to return to no more than 300 ppm. The TckTckTck campaign seriously undermined the necessary, bold targets that were advanced by many of the developing states.

[2] “Low lying islands and coastlines can take no further sea level rise. The “targets” of 1.5 degrees C rise and 350 ppm CO2 are a death sentence for coral reefs and a suicide pact for low lying islands and coasts. Summary: The long-term sea level that corresponds to current CO2 concentration is about 23 meters above today’s levels, and the temperatures will be 6 degrees C or more higher. These estimates are based on real long term climate records, not on models. We have not yet felt the climate change impacts of the current excess of greenhouse gases produced by fossil fuels, and the data shows they will in the long run be many times higher than IPCC models project. In order to prevent these long term changes CO2 must be stabilized at levels below preindustrial values, around 260 parts per million. Buildup must be reversed, not allowed to increase or even be stabilized at 350 ppm, which would amount to a death sentence for coral reefs, small island developing states, and billions of people living along low lying coastlines. The good news is that all the tools for reversing global warming and reducing CO2 to safe levels are ready, proven, and cost effective, but are not being seriously used due to lack of policies and funding.” [AOSIS Briefing 2009: “350 PPM IS A DEATH SENTENCE FOR CORAL REEFS AND LOW LYING ISLANDS … THE SAFE LEVEL OF CO2 FOR SIDS IS AROUND 260 PARTS PER MILLION.”] — The author is Dr. Tom Goreau, President of the Global Coral Reef Alliance, an international NGO for restoration of coral reefs, and a member of the Jamaican delegation to UNCCC. Previously he was Senior Scientific Affairs Officer at the United Nations Centre for Science and Technology for Development, in charge of Global Climate Change and Biodiversity Issues, where he contributed to the original draft of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Dr. Goreau developed the HotSpot method used for the last 20 years to predict coral bleaching from satellite data. He was educated in Jamaican schools, MIT (BSc in Planetary Physics), Caltech (MSc in Planetary Astronomy), and Harvard (PhD in Biogeochemistry). He has swum and dived on reefs around the world since he was a small child, including most SIDS. His father was the first marine scientist in the world to use diving as a research tool and founded the Marine Science Program at the University of the West Indies.

[3] The founding of the Climate Action Network (CAN) in 1988 can be traced back to the early players in the environmental nongovernmental organization (ENGO) community, including Michael Oppenheimer of the corporate NGO, Environmental Defense Fund. CAN is a global network of over 700 NGOs. The stated goal of CAN is to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels. This goal is severely problematic in (at minimum) two fundamental ways: 1) There is no such thing as “ecologically sustainable levels” of climate change, and 2) as opposed to states having to respond to approximately 700 groups demanding action on climate change, states instead bask in the comfort of having to deal with only one (CAN International), which essentially demands little to nothing. CAN has seven regional offices that coordinate these efforts in Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, Europe, Latin America, North America, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Members include organizations from around the globe, including the largest corporate greens such as World Wildlife Fund [WWF], Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.

[4] “Another glaring contradiction which does not bother America’s conscience (if it has any) is that American trained and paid Rwandan and Ugandan soldiers have been deployed as “peacekeepers” in Darfur and Somalia while at the same time they are making the blood of millions of Congolese flow into the ground, while billions of dollars in minerals are extracted from the earth and delivered to their corporate customers – with Rwandan and Ugandan middlemen pocketing their cut. America is also trying to sweep under the carpet the genocide that Rwanda and Uganda have committed in Congo since 1996. As we know, Rwanda and Uganda invaded the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1996, ostensibly to hunt down Hutu fighters among millions of refugees from ethnic violence in Rwanda. But the invasion became an occupation that has killed six million Congolese – the world’s greatest holocaust since World War Two. The genocide has been very profitable for Uganda and Rwanda, who have plundered eastern Congo’s mineral resources for sale to multinational corporations, most of them based in the United States and Europe.” [Source: Britain and America Target DR Congo, 12/05/2012]

[5] The exemplary People’s Agreement emerged from the April 2010 World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia. It was endorsed by over 35,000 representatives of civil society, indigenous peoples and various states. During that year, the Bolivian Ambassador to the UN, Pablo Solón, participated in numerous UN processes under the UNFCCC, and valiantly struggled to include the conclusions of the Cochabamba People’s Agreement in the negotiating documents.

The main conclusions of the World People’s Conference were incorporated into the document of United Nations on Climate Change that became recognized as a negotiation text for the 192 countries that congregated in Bonn, Germany, during the first week of August 2010. The most important points that were incorporated for consideration in the negotiations before Cancun were:

1) 50% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by developed countries for a second period of commitments in the Kyoto Protocol years 2013 to 2017

2) Stabilize the rise of temperature to 1ºC and 300 ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere

3) Guarantee an equitable distribution of atmospheric space, taking into account the climate debt of emissions by developed countries for developing countries

4) Full respect for the human rights and the inherent rights of indigenous peoples, women, children and migrants

5) Full recognition to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

6) Recognition and defense of the rights of Mother Earth to ensure harmony with nature

7) Guarantee the fulfillment of the commitments from the developed countries though the building of an International Court of Climate Justice

8) Rejection of the new mechanisms of carbon markets that transfer the responsibility of the reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases from developed countries to developing countries

9) Promotion of measures that change the consumption patterns of the developed countries

10) Adoption of necessary measures in all relevant forums to exclude from the protection of intellectual property rights all technologies that are ecologically sustainable useful to mitigate climate change

11) Developed countries will allocate 6% of their gross national product to actions relative to climate change

12) Integrated management of forest for mitigation and adaptation, without market mechanisms and ensuring the full participation of indigenous peoples and local communities

13) Prohibition of the conversion of natural forest to plantations, since monoculture plantations are not forest; instead encourage the protection and conservation of natural forests. [Source: Joan Russow, PEJ News]

[6] The equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) refers to the equilibrium change in global mean near-surface air temperature that would result from a sustained doubling of the atmospheric (equivalent) carbon dioxide concentration (?Tx2). This value is estimated by the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) as “likely to be in the range 2 to 4.5°C with a best estimate of about 3°C, and is very unlikely to be less than 1.5°C. Values substantially higher than 4.5°C cannot be excluded, but agreement of models with observations is not as good for those values.” This is a change from the IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR, 2001), which said it was “likely to be in the range of 1.5 to 4.5 °C.” A model estimate of equilibrium sensitivity thus requires a very long model integration; fully equilibrating ocean temperatures requires integrations of thousands of model years. A measure requiring shorter integrations is the transient climate response (TCR), which is defined as the average temperature response over a twenty year period centered at CO2 doubling in a transient simulation with CO2 increasing at 1% per year. The transient response is lower than the equilibrium sensitivity, due to the “inertia” of ocean heat uptake.

 

What the Fake Syria Sniper Boy Video Tell Us About Media “Experts” (& HRW)

NEO – New Eastern Outlook

November 27, 2014

by Maram Susli

“Instead of humbly accepting blame for spreading disinformation, many western journalists and their experts reacted by blaming the producer of the film. The collective rage of the entire mainstream media forced the film’s producer to delete any trace of this 30,000 dollar experiment.”

 

Media Caught in a lie Syria

Many mainstream media websites helped a fake video go viral this month. The video showing a young Syrian boy running through sniper fire to save a little girl, was exposed as a fake when the Norwegian producer Lars Klevberg made the fact public. One of the stated aims of the Norwegian film makers was to “see how the media would respond to a fake video.” This article examines how that experiment went.

The western press very quickly accepted the video as real and used it to support the US administration’s narrative on Syria. Many top US news sources began to spread the story. Even though the producer said he explicitly added big hints that the video was fake, like the children surviving multiple gun shots.

Propagating false stories on Syria, is nothing new for the western press. In the lead up to the conflict many stories were exposed as frauds, such as the Anti-government activist “Gay Girl in Damascus” which turned out to be a middle-aged American man in Scotland. Syrian Danny Abdul Dayem which was frequently interviewed by CNN was using fake gun fire and flames in his interviews.

The fake sniper video wasn’t enough to support US government narratives by itself, as the now deleted original upload didn’t suggest the identity of the snipers. So the west’s media suggested that it was Syrian military snipers that were targeting the children without any evidence. Journalists failed to mention how they reached the conclusion that an actor in Malta was shot by the Syrian military. It may be that the western press is quick to trust pro-rebel sources, as the video was uploaded by the pro-rebel Sham Times along with their own twist.

The Guardian’s headline for the video was “Syrian boy ‘saves girl from army sniper’” and the Telegraph delicately suggested the Syrian military was responsible for the fake bullets. The International Business (IB) times stated, “the snipers, who reportedly are said to be the government forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.” IB Times never explicitly mentioned who reported this information. They then took it a step further and concluded the article with “the incident certainly is not the first time that Pro-Assad gunmen have targeted children”. Well it is at least not the first time the mainstream media has presented false reports as fact. In 2012, CNN claimed a bullet that killed a four year old girl in Aleppo was shot by government snipers even whilst admitting the bullet came from rebel held buildings.

Other journalists took to Twitter to make unfounded claims about army snipers targeting the boy. Vinnie O’Dowd who has done work for Channel 4 and Al Jazeera tweeted “Syrian Regime Targets kids. Liz Sly of the Washington Post tweeted incredulously that “Soldiers kept shooting” at children.

These tweets were inline with an official State Department Twitter account @ThinkAgain_DOS which blamed Assad for the fictitious bullets in the film. This casts doubt on how deeply the US administration scrutinizes information it bases it’s policy on. In 2013 they relied heavily on video footage provided by rebels to support its planned attack on Syria in the wake the Ghouta chemical attack.

Scrutinising the Scrutinisers (Experts)

1But it isn’t just the mainstream media that was easily duped by the convenient propaganda film. The video experts that were asked to scrutinise the video, failed to recognise that the video was a fraud. The Telegraph stated that upon enquiry ‘experts told them they had no reason to doubt that the video is real”. International Business Times went a step further spinning the statement to “experts told The Telegraph that they have no doubts on the authenticity of the footage.”

This is very strange since both children in the film walk away after being directly and repeatedly hit by bullets. The creators of the film said he purposely scripted this as a big hint that the video is fake. The lack of scrutiny the media experts employed suggests incompetence or the same level of bias as the media that employs them .

Heather Saul of the Independent wrote that one of the ‘Middle East experts” she showed the video to was from Human Rights Watch. Indeed, Human Rights Watch European Media Director Andrew Stroehlein, showed no doubt on the authenticity of the film when he tweeted it out to his followers. The New York based human rights organisation is not new at tweeting false information, last month they used an image of the Odessa fire, where US-backed militia’s burned thirty two people to death, as an example of ‘Putin’s repressive policies’. In 2008 Venezuela expelled two HRW staff members accused of “anti-state activities” after producing a report against the Chavez government. Guardian journalist Hugh O’Shaughnessy accused HRW of using false and misleading information in the report, as well as pro-Washington bias. In 2009 HRW received financial donations from the Saudi government which may, in part, explain the anti-Syrian slant.

11HRW employed so called video expert Eliot Higgins and his colleague Daniel Kaszeta to investigate the August 21 chemical attack in Ghouta, and quickly reached the conclusion the Syrian government was behind the attack. Daniel Kaszeta was referred to as a fraud by prominent physicist and MIT Professor Theodore Postol. HRW’s CEO Kenneth Roth recently used a report by Eliot Higgins to make unfounded claims about Ukrainian rebels shooting down Malaysian flight MH17. Heather Saul did not respond to questions on whether Eliot Higgins was one of the expert she asked for advice. However the mainstream media’s most often quoted video expert, did not recognise that the video was a fraud, tweeting cautiously that he wasn’t sure if it was authentic but gave the video a reaction non the less.

However many viewers who aren’t referred to as video or Middle East experts, immediately recognised the video was a fraud and flooded social media sites Twitter and Youtube with doubts on its authenticity. If Heather Saul had used these individuals as experts rather than HRW, she would have reached the correct conclusion about the video. But perhaps it is this unbias eye that the mainstream media avoids. The vast majority of Higgin’s conclusions support US government narratives and agendas, and that’s the kind of bias the mainstream media prefers.

Blaming the Producer

Instead of humbly accepting blame for spreading disinformation, many western journalists and their experts reacted by blaming the producer of the film. The collective rage of the entire mainstream media forced the film’s producer to delete any trace of this 30,000 dollar experiment. Some journalists took to Twitter to express their rage at being exposed as easily duped by convenient propaganda.

The experts that were fooled by the video also strongly protested. HRW posted a complaint that the fake video “eroded the public trust in war reporting’, in other words blind trust in HRW analysis and war propaganda. Eliot Higgins posted an open letter to the producer of the film on his website Bellingcat, condemning the film.

GlobalPost referred to the film as ‘irresponsible and dangerous’ but not because it could be used to promote wars and make false accusations. What the real danger to the mainstream media and their experts seems to be, is that as a result of the films exposure as a fraud, future video claims may now have to be properly scrutinized and the public may not be so unquestioning in future. However it is the journalists’ lack of scrutiny that is truly what is irresponsible and dangerous. Had the director not admitted the film was fake, these journalists more than likely would have kept promoting the story as an example of Syrian Army war crimes.

 

[Maram Susli also known as “Syrian Girl,” is an activist-journalist and social commentator covering Syria and the wider topic of geopolitics. especially for the online magazineNew Eastern Outlook”.]

Faking It: Charity Communications in the Firing Line [Purpose (Avaaz) | SYRIA]

Further Reading: SYRIA: Avaaz, Purpose & the Art of Selling Hate for Empire

Duckrabbit

November 21, 2014

by Benjamin Chesterton

Purpose Avaaz Syria-Campaign-HIRE

‘Truth is the first casualty of war’.

So the saying goes.

It’s always been that way.

Leading up to and then during the first world war citizens were fed a series of lies, usually centred around atrocities committed by the ‘enemy’ as governments prepared to unleash hell on the world:

As one British general pointed out after the war: “to make armies go on killing one another it is necessary to invent lies about the enemy”. These atrocity stories were then fed to newspapers who were quite willing to publish them. British newspapers accused German soldiers of a series of crimes including: gouging out the eyes of civilians, cutting off the hands of teenage boys, raping and sexually mutilating women, giving children hand grenades to play with, bayoneting babies and the crucifixion of captured soldiers. Wythe Williams, who worked for the New York Times, investigated some of these stories and reported “that none of the rumours of wanton killings and torture could be verified.”

The outcome of all this lying was that after the war citizens became more savvy, less trusting of overt propaganda. Newspapers were weary of the most extreme propaganda that didn’t come with evidence and  when TV came into popular existence broadcasters signed up to the principle that their reporting should be impartial.  The public developed a false sense of comfort that it was harder for people to lie to us and get away with it.

Along came the internet and with a it a massive proliferation in both the amount of material published and also who could do the publishing. The internet is a propagandists paradise:

  • Social media means that well constructed propaganda can spread faster than Road Runner on steroids.
  • Newspapers looking to profit are less interested in verifying whether massively popular videos are fake then they are in the page views they bring.
  • But propagandists don’t have it all their own way. When a video/picture/article  is published on-line that is in some way fake before too long someone will be shouting about it in the comments section.

Here’s what I mean:

A week ago a friend shared a video by The Syria Campaign on his Facebook page. The video starts with the words:

‘What you are about to see is shocking. This happened this week in Syria’

The film shows a boy being shot, then heroically  getting up and rescuing a girl, whilst still being shot at. You can see it here.  

The Syria Campaign’s version of this film has been shared several hundred times and has over 10000 views. The original version of the film, which was not made by The Syria Campaign, was first posted to  Youtube and  had over 4.1 million views. The film  has been shared widely by newspaper websites (Daily Mail, Telegraph, Independent) who in the first instance showed no interest in verifying whether the video was real. The Telegraph embedded the film and included this commentary

The Telegraph cannot independently verify the footage but it is thought the incident took place in Yabroud – a town near the Lebanese border which was the last stronghold of the moderate Free Syrian Army. Experts tell the paper they have no reason to doubt its authenticity.

At the end of the film The Syria Campaign asked us to share the story and sign a petition. This was my response to them on November 11th

Fake Syrian Video Purpose Avaaz

Apart from the too clear sound, the obvious special effects and the movie staging, you don’t fall forwards like you’re in a Hollywood movie when shot, then get up unbloodied and keep walking. Despite this three days later the BBC was reporting that the film might well be legitimate.

In an interview Amira Galal from BBC monitoring Middle East  said “we can definitely say it is Syria and we can definitely say that it’s probably on the regime frontlines, was almost certainly shot on the front lines in Syria…I think it would be very difficult to give a definitive opinion about whether it’s fake or not.”

Ten hours later the BBC put out another story stating that the film was indeed a fake, made by Lars Klevberg, a 34 year-old film director based in Oslo. He says he deliberately presented the film as reality in order to generate a discussion about children in conflict zones:

“We shot it in Malta in May this year on a set that was used for other famous movies like Troy and Gladiator,” Klevberg said. “The little boy and girl are professional actors from Malta. The voices in the background are Syrian refugees living in Malta … By publishing a clip that could appear to be authentic we hoped to take advantage of a tool that’s often used in war; make a video that claims to be real. We wanted to see if the film would get attention and spur debate, first and foremost about children and war. We also wanted to see how the media would respond to such a video.”

Pretty soon afterwards the story that the film is fake became the most shared article on the BBC website. In a further twist the Youtube channel (Shaam News Network) on which the video went viral has been suspended.

What interests me most is when and how some NGO campaigns reached the point where they are willing to trick people  in order to get them to sign a petition/get behind a cause?

syria

What is the validity of a petition signed by people under false pretences?

Surely The Syria Campaign not only loses any moral authority it might have gained through its important work but also torpedoes their own objectives by seeking signatures this way?

The Syria Campaign gave me this response before the video was outed as fake:

‘As far as we’re concerned, the video depicts experiences that are real. Though the video hasn’t yet been verified, we know incidents like this occur every day.’

In other words kids are getting shot in Syria so what difference does it make if this is fake but it makes you think about all the awful things that are going on over there?

The Syria Campaign continues to share the video, despite protests such as this.

This strategy of bending the truth to fit your cause is well trod. Afterall it’s what we often do when we debate a subject.  I would go as far as to say not only is it acceptable, to a greater or lesser extent, but it’s expected.

Here are a few extreme examples:

Several years ago a well respected advocacy organisation put out a video of a woman (shot in shadow) calling for the Syrian soldiers to put down their weapons. The video appeared embedded on a UK newspapers website, with the accompanying text that the film was the direct plea of a Syrian mother and was shot inside Syria.

Infact the video was shot in London; a second woman’s voice with a more authentic accent was dubbed over the original woman’s voice and the script was not written by a Syrian mother but an American living in Beirut.  Pure propaganda. At roughly the same time this video was released the founder of the advocacy group gave a high profile interview in which he stated  they were playing a ‘verification’ role for citizen media coming out of Syria.

Recently Oxfam ran an online ebola campaign on Facebook using a picture of an MSF medical worker, taken in one of their clinics,  helping a child:

oxfam

 

The backlash in the comments was swift and severe.

Oxfam realised their mistake, put out a sincere statement apologising and eventually took down the offending post.

I appreciated Oxfam’s response and it made me have more respect for them. It wasn’t the first time something similar has happened though. A few years back Save The Children ran a print advert calling for donations that featured a picture of a half dead child being cared for in a an MSF hospital in Dadaab, Kenya. Had they published the picture in the same way on their Facebook page I suspect they would have faced a similar backlash.

(Please note duckrabbit have worked for and trained the staff of both Oxfam and MSF. I’ve witnessed  the terrific work they both do on the ground. A donation to either of them is well spent)

Another large charity recently ran a fundraising campaign which showed a successful generic African woman whose family they claimed they had helped climb out of poverty. It was a conceptually interesting TV advert but it wasn’t a winner as a fundraiser. So when the same woman appeared in online advertising we were asked to give money to help bring her and her family out of poverty. The same ethnic woman was presented to audiences in diametrically opposite ways to try and have the same impact, raise more money.

Maybe we should be forgiving of charities, PR and advertising agencies, advocacy organisations and journalists who fake (or twist) stories to get our attention. Do audiences really care? Doesn’t the end justify the means? This is certainly how some people responded to the suggestion that it was wrong to fake the Syrian boy hero. Maybe they are right. If the Oxfam post raised much needed cash for the fight against ebola isn’t that a good thing?

But I think it’s also true you are less likely to change your point of view if you feel the person trying to persuade you is in some way deceiving you.  There’s a failure in communication if we are talking about whether a video is fake as opposed to the suffering of the people in Syria or the 1800 kids that are not actors who have been shot dead during the war.

And one question leads to another. If you are really helping people; if your cause is just; if you want an honest relationship with me, why do you feel the need to make stuff up?

One possible reason that NGO’s pump out so much overt marketing propaganda is because there is more of a budget for spin then authentic storytelling.

In NGOS often the marketing and fundraising departments have more money and power than the communications teams.  They are judged on short term goals that largely revolve around growth of revenue and brand reach. The pressure is immense. People’s jobs are dependent on them bringing the cash in. Very few of these people will have ever lived or worked in the places the charities are set up to benefit.  This is even more true in the agencies that they contract who belong to the Band Aid school of advertising:

Make shit up (There is no peace and joy in west Africa this Christmas). Put a famous face (or 30) to it , and screw the unintended consequences (we maintain a colonial relationship with black people who live in poverty).

The better communications departments  in charities are themselves masters in spin because newspapers and broadcasters are so susceptible to it. If you want to get the media’s attention just make up a figure about how many kids might be catching ebola a week by Christmas. The higher the number the better, even if it’s based on tenuous research.

I don’t blame them.  It’s a game and if you pay me I too will play it to win. But not by faking it.  And not because it can’t be justified, but because I’m not cynical. The charities we work with have a very positive impact on the lives of the people they serve. The sector as a whole just needs to invest in better ways to tell those stories of change.

 

Let Them Eat Pizza [“People’s Climate March” & “Flood Wallstreet”]

Wits End

September 25, 2014

by Gail Zawacki

I would have gone to the People’s Climate March in Manhattan, even though, as a permitted Sunday parade, I didn’t expect it to amount to anything more than tilting at windmills (ha!) – but I had already missed all of first daughter’s competitions this season, and her last show for the year, in Saugerties, NY was scheduled for the same day.  I had a lovely weekend with her and was very glad I went, especially as she took two firsts.

Thus, I was happy having learned there was to be another protest on Monday that I could join, #FloodWallStreet, especially because the plan was for mass civil disobedience and arrests.  I met up with a Wit’s End reader, Lucas, who had come all the way from Hawaii and was willing to serve as jail support for me.

However, the march from Battery Park to the Stock Exchange was deflected, and the big banner buckled backwards around the barricaded Bull while we watched, incredulous, as the organizers negotiated with police.  Apparently the Mayor informed them that there would be no arrests, and we could have the street space AROUND the Bull, but were blocked from approaching Wall Street.  Astonishingly, the organizers informed the crowd that they had made a decision to stay obediently in place, and…declare victory!  Whatever happened to consensus?  There was no discussion, no mic check, we were just informed that rather than exercising our rights, we were to behave just like the Sunday Paraders and, as one commenter phrased it, whimper in a fucking free speech zone.

source

At one point they encouraged us to sit and thump our chests like our beating hearts, I’m not sure why.  Was I the only one who found the comparison with this scene just a tad ironic?

Reactions to the capitulation ranged from indifference to mild surprise to utter fury.  Luckily I had come across a friend from the Age of Limits Conference, Cameron Kelly, who also had traveled a great distance at non-trivial expense to take part in the mass civil disobedience.  She was decidedly in the latter category.  We pointed out to the organizers that the action was presented as mass CD – and the response was that if we still wanted to get arrested, we were free to dive over the barricades flanking the Bull.  However, if my goal was to be arrested for a single personal criminal act, I would rather choose my own symbolic icon…and it wouldn’t be about capitalism.  When I pointed out that the action was titled #Flood WALL STREET, and we were stymied at Broadway and Morris, I was informed by several indignant organizers that we actually were *on Wall Street*  – since the financial district and Wall Street are synonymous.  So they conveniently redefined the very meaning of the words “Wall Street”…uhhhh, but what about this MAP they handed out to the marchers (that Camus so rightly wishes to chew up into mush)?   Do you see the arrow for the 12 PM ACTION pointing directly to the NYSE on the actual WALL STREET??

Apparently to mollify the disgruntled, we were informed that 100 free pizzas were being delivered, and that we would sing and dance.  Finally one courageous fellow named Sparks who, having come all the way from Fridley, Minnesota was not about to slink meekly away, bellowed “MIC CHECK” and urged the boisterous but confused assembly to move along to Wall Street.  Here he is with the famous firecracker Cameron, having finally made it to the intersection.

Even after we arrived though, other than a short tussle over the barricades leading to one incident of pepper spray, the pizza party continued in place for hours unmolested, presided over by glowering phalanxes of billyclub-wielding and mounted police.   Not wanting to wait hours more for the order to disperse and having long trips home, Cameron and Lucas and I left around sunset.  It wasn’t until after darkness had fallen that finally about 100 people were “allowed” to relinquish their freedom, and were cuffed and bussed to jail.   The Sans Culottes must be rolling in their graves at this pathetic excuse for a revolution.  I don’t suppose we’ll ever know why the protest turned into a cheesy picnic – whether the organizers were outsmarted by the Mayor, lost their nerve, or are completely intoxicated with ego gratification from media attention – “…oh, we’re on the front page of HuffPo right now!” one told me, by way of explaining that no further action on our part was necessary.  Actually, some of the slick promotional material makes the project smell suspiciously of moveon.org funding, which makes me wonder if the Sunday and Monday events, despite their ostensible differences, aren’t both just mirrors of each other’s deliberate ineffectiveness, like the two political parties in the USA.

The climate activist insiders were in short-lived heaven following the huge turnout for the PCM in New York and other cities around the world.  (Short-lived because nobody has the vaguest idea what to do next and the UN meeting is being widely denounced as a useless corporate festival.) Privately they are rejoicing what they see as the triumph of the climate movement over the environmental movement, something they been trying to eclipse for years. To put the rosiest perspective on this, you might say that they have shunned any association with holistic ecology simply because they believe that being tainted by tree-huggers is detrimental to progress – since hippies have a bad reputation for extremism and dirty toes.

To look at it in a slightly more cynical way, you might conclude that the motivation stems from two pernicious influences…first, that climate change in theory lends itself to continued growth via a technological fix (if you ignore the fact that it’s too late to avoid catastrophe, which virtually all activists and scientists do), which leads to the second motivation, a corollary to the first…there is oodles of money from corporate foundations, governments, book sales and speaking engagements for research and political activism in climate “solutions”, as long as none of them include reducing population and consumption.

source 

This strategy has always struck me as an epic failure, since climate change is only one symptom of a more general, lethal overshoot.  The single-minded focus on carbon emissions over other issues, such as pollution, habitat destruction, and overextraction of everything from lumber to fish to minerals simply enables more of the same destruction to proceed even as it pretends to challenge the status quo, Naomi Klein and Chris Hedges notwithstanding.  In fact their supposedly more radical critique of capitalism is a red herring, and an insidious deflection of the true dimensions of the tragedy of the commons that has ensnared humans into ecocide.  Underlying their exhortations to change or even dismantle the economic system is the false belief that “green energy” will ensure free pizza forever.  While chants like “We are Unstoppable, Another World is Possible” and “Put up Your Fist, Resist, Resist” are rousing good fun, really, as Candide would say, we ALREADY are in the best of all possible worlds…as in, it ain’t gonna get any better than this…and there is no obvious way to resist OURSELVES.  Here’s all you need to see of Naomi Klein and her own special brand of bullshit.  (Well, hey, it sells books, apparently.)  [update:   OMG this is too funny.  This video has been taken down – in it, Klein is interviewed on HuffPo saying that so many people have reacted to her book by saying IT’S TOO LATE.  I guess that message was too scary so the record has been deleted.  TOO hilarious!]

Here’s a screenshot from the video that has been removed, and here is a link to the clip still up.  This quote from John Gray’s Straw Dogs sums up why the narrative she peddles is so wrong:  “The destruction of the natural world is not the result of global capitalism, industrialisation, “Western civilisation” or any flaw in human institutions. It is a consequence of the evolutionary success of an exceptionally rapacious primate. Throughout all of history and prehistory, human advance has coincided with ecological devastation.”

It seems like this cohort of so-called activists, whether prancing in costumes for Sunday’s celebrity climatepalooza photo-ops or moaning ineffectually about capitalism on Monday, is persuaded that all we have to do is WANT things to be different (you know, close your eyes and say I DO believe in fairies!  I DO!  I DO!) which is really just an extension of everything that is wrong with the very consumerist society we are urged to reject.  Mention the word “sacrifice” and the entire spectrum frowns.  When I was on my way to the city I was thinking about how many in the doomer community (invariably white middle-class) appropriate the culture of indigenous peoples and claim affinity with their supposed peaceful, sustainable, harmonious and spiritual relationship with nature when actually, most if not all hunter-gatherers (other than those who were defeated by overshoot, natural disaster or neighboring tribes) were proud warriors who trained boys from an early age to be fierce, and to defeat enemies.  The accumulation of ancient weapons, armor, fortifications, skeletal remains and artifacts testify to this universal human attribute.  Contemplating arrest with its very real potential for bodily injury is nerve-wracking, to say the least, and I took comfort from thinking about how tribal people prepared for conflict with an infinite variety of rituals to embolden them.  Too bad this willingness to confront harm isn’t the inspiration taken by so many who claim to be “fighting” climate change by tapping on their computer keyboards or designing posters and t-shirts.  Hell, most of them can’t even be inconvenienced, let alone put their safety in jeopardy (Tim DeChristopher being a shining exception).  I don’t know if it is iphones or football or Cheetoes, but something has turned us into spineless wimps.

Following are some pictures of trees and leaves around Wit’s End.

Remember the trees?

They are supposed to hit peak autumn color around the third week of October hereabouts.

Instead the leaves are falling off even earlier than they did last year, and those that remain look terrible.

The Virginia creeper lit by the setting sun into a bright scarlet from a distance actually looks dreadful close up.

The world is dying all around us, and most people still think there is time, if they think at all.

Let Them Eat Pizza!

 

A New Version of an Old Christmas Song Is Going Viral — But You Shouldn’t Listen to It

Music.Mic

November 18, 2014

Decades after the first “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” collected world-famous musicians to pity Africans, song cowriter Bob Geldof admitted that it was one of the worst songs in history. But four years later, Geldof resurrected the song — this time to help Africans dying of the Ebola virus. Released Monday, this latest version is still terrible.

Leave it to the cofounder of Live Aid to replicate what’s become an insanely damaging charity cliche during the past few decades. Geldof rounded up One Direction, Bono and more than a dozen other pop stars (Adele reportedly refused) to re-record the 1984 song and reinforce the idea that Africa really just needs some Western star power to make things right. The feel-good project is directed toward a good cause, but it’s so culturally tone deaf that it actively reduces the diverse experiences of African people to a basic racial trope: They live on a dark continent, waiting to be saved.

Source: YouTube

“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” asks a question about a holiday that the majority of people don’t even celebrate in countries affected by the Ebola virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the three West African countries with widespread Ebola transmission include Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia — two of which are predominately Muslim, so the holiday probably isn’t on the top of their minds. And the Christians in those countries say they do, in fact, know it’s Christmas.

But for Geldof and Midge Ure, the two white men from the United Kingdom who wrote the song, it’s easy to assume that everyone around the world is or should be paying close attention to a commercialized Christian holiday — and that if they aren’t, they’re in need of help. For a composition that’s purportedly supposed to help Ebola-ridden countries, that’s a shocking lack of actual awareness about the people you’re saving.

The song was originally written to address issues of famine and hunger, especially in Ethiopia. The lyrics painted a culturally diverse continent rich in various natural resources as one monolithic wasteland filled with doom and gloom. Africa was described as a place where nothing ever grows and where the “only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears.” Bono even belted, “Tonight, thank God it’s them instead of you.”

This time around, words that recall images of famine were instead replaced with sentiments rooted in common fears about Ebola. The stars sing of West Africa as a place where “a kiss of love can kill you, and there’s death in every tear.” It’s indeed true that Ebola can be transmitted through direct contact with various bodily fluids, but that doesn’t mean death is in every tear from a West African person. Sometimes, people just cry.

Source: Band Aid via YouTube

Adding insult to injury, images of aid workers in Hazmat suits carrying away an unknown, unconscious and barely clothed African woman from a bed soaked in fluids are sharply contrasted with rich and healthy pop stars emerging from flashy vehicles, pushing past the lights of the paparazzi and moving toward a recording studio — a place where their love can save, and there’s only compassion in every tear.

Source: Band Aid via YouTube

Raising money for Ebola is a good thing — if it were necessary, raising awareness about Ebola would be good too. But “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” is just as problematic now as it was 30 years ago. And in the process, Geldof and his collaborators perpetuated what Nigerian author Teju Cole has dubbed the “white savior industrial complex.” Instead of focusing directly on the needs of West African communities and encouraging people to support them, the song reflects a thoughtless attempt at intervening in an otherwise complicated public health issue.

It’s emblematic of a long-standing issue with Western humanitarianism that just won’t go away — and it’s an important reminder to be a lot more intentional before helping others who are suffering. Because if we haven’t moved past this in the last 30 years, then there’s a lot more the West should be worrying about than the tears of African men and women.

Correction: Nov. 24, 2014
An earlier version of this article implied that Liberia is a majority-Muslim nation. The population of Liberia is 85% Christian.

[Derrick Clifton is a Staff Writer at Mic covering identity, culture and politics. A news commentator and reporter on race, gender, feminism and LGBT issues, Derrick is also a master’s candidate at the Medill School of Journalism. He’s also writing his first book, HEART WERK, a autobiographical collection of essays about navigating life and love within multiple marginalized identities]

The Intercept’s Interference: Notes on Media, Capitalism, & Imperialism | Part II: Non-Governmental Force Multipliers

Cats, Not War

April 6, 2014

civil-participation-in-policy-making-ucranian-examples-3-638

In wondering whether Marcy Wheeler could plausibly claim legitimate doubt about the activities of Pierre Omidyar’s NGO in Ukraine, Tarzie asked whether an NGO could ever be anything other than an arm of soft imperialism. The answer to that latter question is actually yes, conceivably and even probably, although I can’t think of any such NGOs off the top of my head. The reason to believe that an NGO can be something other than a soft arm of imperialist power is that there are just so damned many of them. To shine a light on this, we have Eyal Weizman, to whose work I will return several times in this post. He offers specifics on the explosion of NGOs in just a few slivers of the world:

‘While in 1980 there were about 40 NGOs dealing with the Ethiopian famine, a decade later 250 were operating during the Yugoslavian war; by 2004, 2,500 were involved in Afghanistan.’

One must now imagine how many NGOs are operating worldwide. They serve a wide range of purposes, receiving money from a wide range of donors. The question as it pertains to Marcy Wheeler and The Intercept more generally is not about any old NGO; it’s about an NGO funded by USAID, a worldwide organization that shares funding and partnerships with the CIA and the State Department, and, in Ukraine, an oligarch, Pierre Omidyar. Therein lies the proper question: can this specific kind of NGO ever be anything other than the soft arm of imperialism? Of course not, I say.

A ‘transparency’ NGO against a rival regime of the United States plays a very particular role, which is why I mentioned multiple locales of NGOs in my last post about The Intercept. The meaning of an NGO funded by USAID in Ukraine is quite different from the meaning of a humanitarian NGO operating in the West Bank. The first is, in Ames’ words, ‘a force multiplier’ for the goal of regime change; the second is mainly a humanitarian agent, very often nominally aligned against Israel’s military occupation, or at least against the general spirit of it, but nonetheless tolerated by Israel. In both cases, the NGOs, as I mentioned before, obscure class consciousness; the reason is that the fascist state–as an absorber of superfluous capital and, through its police forces, protector of private property–is fundamentally opposed to the emergence of the communistic movements of the societies they are tasked with governing, by which I mean controlling and containing.

I’ll begin with the Israeli case and then work back to Ukraine. In the case of Israel, NGOs exist in lieu of the military policies and architecture that have ghettoized hundreds of segments of society within historic Palestine. Palestinians have been separated from Israelis; Druze have been separated from Palestinians; Palestinians have been separated from Palestinians (think of the distance between Gaza and the West Bank); Palestinians have been separated from Ethiopian refugees, which have in turn been separated from Israeli Jews, and you are beginning to get an idea of the utter fragmentation that Israel’s divide-and-conquer strategies have produced. But one more fragmentation must be mentioned, among the most crucial: class fragmentation, which includes even the strategic placement of the Israeli working and under classes in relation to the upper classes. In physically organizing its society according to relatively modern identities it’s helped to shape, Israel has thus far successfully thwarted communistic threats to its power (albeit not very often with ease), and that success increases if these respective identity groups embrace as political projects in themselves the various identities given to them by power. The political dilemma of identity cannot be ignored, as there are real differences between the marginalization of the Israeli working class and that of Palestinians under Israel’s racializing project. (As the Palestinians experience a more advanced form of alienation, it is the job of the Israeli working class to offer proper solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.) But this is not to say that the procurement of identity makes for a worthy political end goal in itself. Should these groups treat identity formation as a critique and a resistance in itself, they will, as subjects of Israeli power, from Israeli working classes to the Druze to the Palestinians, overlook the demands of their own struggles, as well as the possibilities hinted at by famed Palestinian revolutionary Ghassan Kanafani in a 1972 interview (a possibility again hinted at by the Qassam Brigades on November 17, 2012, as mentioned in the above-linked article by Max Ajl):

‘So you do see contradictions within the Israeli population which can divide them in the future, and provide the Palestinian resistance with allies within Israeli society?

‘Of course. But this will not happen easily. First of all, we must escalate the revolution to the stage where it poses an alternative to them, because up to now it has not been so. It is nonsense to start talking about a ‘Democratic Palestine’ at this stage; theoretically speaking it establishes a good basis for future debates, but this debate can only occur when the Palestinian resistance is a realistic alternative.

‘You mean it must be able to provide a practical alternative for the Israeli proletariat?

‘Yes. But at the moment it is very difficult to get the Israeli working-class to listen to the voice of the Palestinian resistance, and there are several obstacles to this. These include the Israeli ruling class and the Arab ruling classes. The Arab ruling classes do not present either Israelis or Arabs with a prospect of democracy. One might well ask: where is there a democracy in the Arab world? The Israeli ruling class is obviously an obstacle as well. But there is a third obstacle, which is the real, if small, benefit that the Israeli proletariat derives from its colonialist status within Israel. For not only is the situation of Israeli workers a colonialist one, but they gain from the fact that Israel as a whole has been recruited to play a specific role in alliance with imperialism. Two kinds of movement are required to break down these barriers, in order for there to be future contact between an anti-Zionist Israeli proletariat and the Arab resistance movement. These will be the resistance movement on the one hand and an opposition movement within Israel itself; but there is no real sign of such a convergence yet, since, although Matzpen exists, what would be necessary is a mass proletarian movement.’

Within the primarily Palestinian space of the West Bank, countless NGOs have cropped up, which leads to another Tarzie question: can’t the Israeli working class work with NGOs in the West Bank? The answer is, once again, conceivably, but that’s as far as it goes. This has not been the case, and we must account for the reasons. The first question worth asking is, why does Israel, a state that typically gets away with whatever brutality it wishes to exact, tolerate so many NGOs working nominally against it in territories under its direct military control? Answering that question requires another question: what do these NGOs do? There are two primary types of NGOs in the West Bank: humanitarian ones, those which offer general health supplies to the brutalized Palestinian population, and informational NGOs, those which provide the brutalized population with a space for political organization, things like publishing pamphlets and setting up lectures and panel discussions.

The humanitarian NGOs working in Palestine have, according to Weizman, adopted an essentially theological ethos to address the issue of suffering. (This would not be the first or only time social justice movements have adopted monotheistic tenants to meet the world’s problems; I hope to address this in a future post.) Weizman proposes that the main theological presupposition animating humanitarian impulse in an occupation situation is St. Augustine’s principle of lesser evil: lesser evils are to be tolerated when they are deemed unavoidable. More:

‘The lesser evil is the argument of the humanitarian agent that seeks military permission to provide medicines and aid in places where it is in fact the duty of the occupying military power to do so, thus saving the limited military resources. The lesser evil is often the justification of the military officer who attempts to administer life (and death) in an “enlightened” manner; it is sometimes, too, the brief of the security contractor who introduces new and more efficient weapons and spatio-technological means of domination, and advertises them as “humanitarian technology”. In these cases the logic of the lesser evil opens up a thick political field of participation bringing together otherwise opposing fields of action, to the extent that it might obscure the fundamental moral differences between these various groups. But, even according to the terms of an economy of losses and gains, the concept of the lesser evil risks becoming counterproductive: less brutal measures are also those that may be more easily naturalized, accepted and tolerated—and hence more frequently used, with the result that a greater evil may be reached cumulatively.’

So there it lies. A calculation that seeks to alleviate a suffering tacitly accepts the endurability of that suffering and ultimately prolongs it. The Israeli ruling class is, like most imperialists, not stupid; it knows that humanitarian NGOs pose zero threat, and so it tolerates them.

Informational NGOs in the West Bank are more so the hangouts of those foreigners too politically savvy to get caught up in the obvious pitfalls of liberal humanitarianism, which is really just so Daily Show and Obama ’08. Here is where young foreigners of a more radical bent can go to exchange political ideas with Palestinians, perhaps even to set up times and dates for attending demonstrations so that they can make themselves useful by obstructing an IDF’s soldier’s path when he attempts to arrest a Palestinian. And these young internationalist activists will likely help with lectures from guest speakers around the world and will help to publish pamphlets detailing the harsh realities of Israeli occupation. It is telling how these outlets are staffed so overwhelmingly with volunteers from around the world, as opposed to Israeli proles, but not necessarily surprising. This is the class makeup that can be expected in the wake of Israel’s forcible fragmentation of the society underneath it: the class makeup of the propaganda NGO is first of all a function of Israeli structure. After all, who can afford to take up life in the West Bank, an area deprived of water and job opportunities (outside these NGOs, of course) and right to movement? Not Israeli proles, generally speaking, but rather upper class students from the United States and Europe. And Israel tolerates this form of Palestinian political expression because it allows Palestinians a vent for their frustrations without forming the kinds of political bonds that can easily (if at all) upend the Zionist system. In this sense, these NGOs play the same role as state-sanctioned demonstrations in the United States, allowing people the illusion of impact because people are, at the end of the day, ‘doing something.’ There simply is no comparison between a bond formed between a Palestinian and an international student only in Palestine for a semester or two (and with a bright future to lose) and a bond formed between a Palestinian and an Israeli worker condemned to existence in Israeli society for the long haul. Not all bonds are equally dangerous.

The role of NGOs in places where the U.S. desires regime change is markedly different, because the situation is markedly different. Admittedly, when examining the situation in Ukraine, claims about U.S. regime change require more work to prove, because the policy there is less overt than was regime change in, say, Iraq. As I mentioned in a previous post, this is the main dilemma of detailing imperialism in the age of Obama. But it is worth noting still that even in those instances of overt regime change, brought about through land invasion and long-term occupation using ground troops, NGOs played an important role in U.S. policy. To quote Weizman once again, ‘After the fall of Baghdad in 2003, American NGOs funded via USAID were informed by the US Administration that “their cooperation was linked inextricably to America’s strategic goals.”‘ Weizman notes that Colin Powell referred to these NGOs operating in Iraq as a ‘force multiplier,’ which perhaps explains where Mark Ames picked up the phrase.

One way of knowing that Pierre Omidyar knew what he was getting into when he decided to share an investment with USAID in Ukraine is that USAID’s worldwide purpose is openly available knowledge, especially to those money men with a direct financial interest in USAID’s purpose. Powell and the ‘U.S. administration’ acknowledged it. If one fails to be satisfied by the open declarations of the U.S. regime, one can of course consult its ‘private’ correspondences about USAID, revealed in leaked Wikileaks cables. As with open declarations, the private dialogues of the U.S. regime are loaded with euphemism; ‘regime change’ is described as a ‘transition to democracy.’ Over at the Anti-Empire Report, William Blum quotes a cable mentioning USAID’s activities in Venezuela:

‘During his 8 years in power, President Chavez has systematically dismantled the institutions of democracy and governance. The USAID/OTI program objectives in Venezuela focus on strengthening democratic institutions and spaces through non-partisan cooperation with many sectors of Venezuelan society.’

Blum goes on to describe these initiatives as ‘a transition from the target country adamantly refusing to cooperate with American imperialist grand designs to a country gladly willing (or acceding under pressure) to cooperate with American imperialist grand designs.’ These initiatives were to be taken against Chavez and ‘his attempt to divide and polarize Venezuelan society using rhetoric of hate and violence. OTI supports local NGOs who work in Chavista strongholds and with Chavista leaders, using those spaces to counter this rhetoric and promote alliances through working together on issues of importance to the entire community.’ Eventually the cable becomes mercifully frank about the efforts USAID and OTI must take against this hateful rhetoric (also know as class conscious agitation): ‘1) Strengthening Democratic Institutions, 2) Penetrating Chavez’ Political Base, 3) Dividing Chavismo, 4) Protecting Vital US business, and 5) Isolating Chavez Internationally.’ Sounds like a recipe for regime change to me.

As I mentioned in my previous article, NGOs participate in PsyOps. Among the most common forms of PsyOp is the attempt to convince a subject population (or potential subject population) that the United States supports it. One way this is done is by providing aid to underclass populations; the example I provided was the aid Junglas provide to rural Colombians. As these PsyOps are simple and common, one can easily learn about them–and USAID’s role in them–by doing a simple Wikileaks search. Here USAID’s PsyOps efforts in Nigeria are described:

‘Nigerians reacting to Mission-sponsored media reports June – September 2003 on U.S.-Nigeria partnership successes on health, HIV/AIDS, agriculture, education, and conflict resolution, say they are amazed at the level of support given to Nigeria by the U.S. Government.  They expressed similar sentiments on their assessment of media reports on the Ambassador’s Self-Help and the Ambassador’s Girl Scholarship programs, as well as the Widernet’s university interconnectivity program.  The positive impact of the success stories was clearly evident during the recent defeat of stiff conservative northern opposition to the August polio vaccination rounds.  Reactions have been very positive on USAID’s contributions towards revival of agriculture, especially gum arabic trade, and the LEAP program to upgrade primary educational standards in northern Nigeria.  The Basketball for Peace Project is another success story that Nigerians say they value greatly because the program targets jobless youths in the crisis-prone Kaduna State.  Radio listeners, television viewers and Hausa readers in 19 northern States, including conservative Muslim radicals in Nasarawa, Kano, Kaduna, Sokoto, Katsina, Borno, Plateau, Zamfara, and Jigawa States, say the success stories surprised them because they never knew the U.S. was doing so much for Nigeria. Hopefully, these images may change some of their negative views about the U.S.’

I especially like this example because it includes mention of a basketball program–my Colombia example included mention of basketball courts constructed for poor Colombian youth. So because the function of USAID’s programs is so obvious, it is reasonable to say that Omidyar knew what he was getting into when he decided to collaborate with USAID in Ukraine. So reasonable that it is not necessary to assume anything. USAID’s goals in Ukraine are clearly described in other leaked cables; they are economic goals in which any sensible billionaire would interested–the most salient example being intellectual property rights to be ensured by the World Trade Organization, that is, ‘types of intellectual property rights that will be protected by the State Customs Service… or the customs regimes in which Customs will intervene to protect these rights. Customs reform that is anchored into a modern code consistent with international standards, will be critical for greater market integration.’ In other words, in order for international investors to make profits off of investments in Ukraine, the legal standards must first exist by which corporate conduits can extract those profits and deliver them to individual oligarchs. If you’re wondering how intellectual property accomplishes this, do yourself a favor and read Kevin Carson’s definitive essay on the subject.

Those are just a few examples. I. Could. Go. On. All. Fucking. Day. About. This. USAID. Shit.

We know what kinds of interests Omidyar held in the Ukraine, and we know even more about the means by which he tried to secure them. But even if we didn’t know these matters exactly, we’d have enough information to reach reasonable conclusions about the activities of this billionaire. That some progressive journalists think we don’t seems to me, well, counterintuitive. Either that, or the effect of a billionaire buying progressive journalists is that progressive journalists cease to be skeptical of billionaires, which rather cancels out the ‘progressive’ part. It’s a matter of rich men removing ‘Eat the Rich’ from the political program, for self-explanatory reasons. In addition to that, the employees of rich men are marshaling group acceptance and ostracizing those hungry for the rich. More on that, specifically on our favorite celebrity journalist, Glenn Greenwald, in the next and final post of this series. See you tomorrow for that one, everybody.

 

Further Reading:

Introduction: The Intercept’s Interference: Notes on Media | http://catsnotwar.blogspot.ca/2014/03/the-intercepts-interference-notes-on.html

Part 1: Financial Capital is Destructive Capital | http://catsnotwar.blogspot.ca/2014/04/part-i-financial-capital-is-destructive.html

Part 2: Above

Part 3: A Return to Conspiracy and Its Theories | http://catsnotwar.blogspot.ca/2014/04/part-iii-return-to-conspiracy-and-its.html