March 5, 2013: Buffett Says Gloat Like Rockefeller When Watching Trains
On Nov 3, 2009, Berkshire Hathaway, the investment vehicle of Warren Buffett, announced its plan to purchase the 77.4 percent of Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) that it did not already own for $26 billion in cash and stock – the largest deal in Berkshire history. The deal, which included Berkshire’s prior investment and the assumption of $10 billion in Burlington Northern debt, brought the total value to $44 billion. Buffett remarked it was a big bet on the United States.
It was TO be a bet that both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, would ensure he DID not lose.
“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” – Warren Buffett →
Firstly, sorry for the long gap between updates. i have been out of the country for almost a week now and before that was busy moving, so i have not had much time or ability to put up new articles. In this time though i have been thinking on many things, and discussing them with comrads. One particular topic that has stuck out has been the recent joint call for a “Sovereignty Summer” by the petty bourgeois, reformist, academic/professional “official leadership” of IdleNoMore and the ostensibly grassroots onkwehón:we organization Defenders of the Land. →
A recent article was posted to an International Climate Justice Now! listserv written by “agent” Jamie Henn of 350.org/1Sky/Tar Sands Action. The 16 January 2012 article titled “Grassroots Strategy Is Key to Winning Keystone XL Fight” gave the impression that the mainstream green groups were a magnificent force to be dealt with due to an unprecedented “grassroots” effort united.
It appears he missed Tom Goldtooth’s (Indigenous Environmental Network) interview published 5 December 2011 by The Africa Report:
“We have challenged, and become very unpopular for raising the issue of, classism, which is [a] source of the problem and requires an economic analysis if the environmental and climate narrative is to be truthful…. Look at 350.org – we had to challenge them to bring us to stand with them on the pipeline issue. Bill McKibben, the ivory tower white academic, didn’t even want to take the time to bring people of colour to the organising. We managed a negotiation that allowed for both groups to unite.” … “Well, it is always the case with the media that ‘white is right’ or that global issues affecting people of color on the frontline should be represented by the type of voices that don’t engage, in a threatening way, the realities of capitalism. There are also many fashionable voices that become part of the establishment in the sense that while they do espouse the truth, it [does] not pose a threat for change, for ending the system, because someone has adopted a cause that they were not born into. The communities that live in the cancer hotspots, in the immediate environment, their voices are too real, too threatening. Meanwhile, infiltration continues – …”
When I start seeing articles posted on an international climate justice listserv from 350.org celebrating NRDC and friends, co-opting MLK (Martin Luther King, Jr.) for their own (branding) purposes and legitimising the Obama tagline “Yes We Can” (language that in turn gives “hope” that citizens may see “a certain young senator from Illinois” re-emerge), with no dissent to be found, it tells me that my good friend and legitimate activist Sandy was right. This Climate Justice Network has become CAN (Climate Action Network) in drag. [January 2012: “But as an openly gay man can I say that sometimes I read the cjn postings and feel like cjn at times is becoming CAN in drag, in other words we have been infiltrated, so I wonder whether it is too late to lock the chicken coop when the fox is already inside.”]
Tom Goldtooth, head of the Indigenous Environmental Network talks to The Africa Report about the manipulation of carbon trading data and the double standards assumed by richer countries.
“The carbon certificate, that says one corporation somewhere in the world now controls and owns what in our culture cannot be owned – land, air, the trees”- Tom Goldtooth/Photo/Reuters
Goldtooth expresses his misgivings about agriculture being included as part of the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD). Arguing that “REDD is going to be the largest legal land grab the world has ever seen”, the indigenous North American warns of colonialism and forced privatisation. And according to him “those with the most money and power can – by remote control, lock up the largest land areas in developing countries”. “They are happiest to work with the most corrupt because it is easiest that way,” he says.
The Africa Report: How do indigenous peoples, such as yourself, perceive REDD?
Tom Goldtooth: There are a number of reasons for profiling REDD as a false solution. For indigenous peoples, and as an indigenous organisation that specialises in environmental issues, and which has consulted with many indigenous peoples from the North of the world to the South, from the East to the West, one of the biggest issues is escalation of global warming. In Alaska, melting ice has forced entire villages to relocate, there is coastal land erosion. It is not an easy situation to pull up your entire life – as a community – and move, especially with the other issues involved like settlers with private land rights. So the biggest issue we feel, is putting a stop to climate change by shutting the valve of GHG. It is a matter of life and death.
So we are very concerned that the second round of the Kyoto Protocol is being held back by the powerful governments of the world, including my own government, the US. Any real mitigation is welcome with open arms because we are the people who are most vulnerable and desperate for a solution. But is REDD a real solution? Already, there has been manipulation of the data, displacement of peoples, narratives driven by industry-funded scientists. We are concerned that the same people who caused the problem are now shaping the solution to fit with their agendas – which is making a profit using the same principles that caused the problem. Look at how it is being implemented as well – corporations know that it is easy to exploit the peoples of the South given the state of their governments, the lack of land rights, the violation of human rights, through that piece of paper – the carbon certificate, that says one corporation somewhere in the world now controls and owns what in our culture cannot be owned – land, air, the trees. How can this belong to a one financier when it belongs – and has a right to belong, to the earth?
Give us your perspective on the US government’s position in the climate talks?
In our country, there has been the expansion of fossil fuel development, so even while they are talking a green policy view, they are expanding dirty industry right in our backyards, which is also the homeland of indigenous peoples. Look at the tar sands in Northern Alberta, Canada – this is within the traditional homelands of the Dine’ people – I’m a Southern Dine’. Another group, the Namate, live downstream and with the immediate zone. They are about 22 corporations – many of them state-funded, including Statoil from Norway, and Total from France. The companies involved are not only polluting the atmosphere and the earth, but they’re depleting water, and the same companies are involved with clearing away the boreal forest. It is a viable option now that the price of fuel is going up. Yet Canada, which has not come close to meeting their commitments and is a signatory of the Kyoto Protocol, has gone ahead with tar sands. These are the governments that are supposed to provide the solution?
Has there been any co-option of the indigenous leadership through corporatising policies such as Alaska’s ‘native corporations’?
Yes – there are many shams, precisely like the native corporation. At the top, our allies in the UN tell us they are still wondering whether it can even scientifically work or not – offsetting biotic carbon in trees for the carbon mine from the earth and burnt through combustion. In the long term, we pay the price. The indigenous peoples in Alaska are very concerned about the destruction of their leadership through the native corporations that was a mechanism by the US government and politicians to gain title to buy them out with money through forming these corporations, which also locates negotiating tactics within these capitalist structures. We work with the Alaskan organisation Redoil – some have resisted becoming part of it and still call themselves traditional governments, they are not part of the regional corporation structures. Some have sold their shares. Others still participate to try and make a difference. These corporations are lobbied and collaborate with the business-as-usual fossil fuel leaders. It has taken us away from our traditional principles and values which is the opposite of commodifying, privatisation resources that are destructive and spell a death sentence. The native corporation heads – we see them in meetings, wearing designer suits, and talking designer talk. We don’t talk because their agenda is the same lethal talk that has caused a global crisis.
If we look at the way in which the UN is structured, is there legitimacy to this UNFCCC event – should it be delegitimised or engaged with?
It is a two-way street for us. Certainly, the UN is what you say. But look – we tried to use it as a way of lifting up issue of human rights, social and environment justice, and bring that to the framework. We know that the first Kyoto Protocol had many problems including that the emissions target that Annex 1 (developed) nations were signatories too, was the bare minimum. It was very hard for us to accept the compromise. Some of the bigger organisations said, ‘Tom Goldtooth – this is the first step, we can strengthen it later.’ But here, it is ‘later’ and the issue of relevant binding agreements holding industrialised countries accountable has to happen. But as indigenous peoples, we cannot wait for another international agreement to be negotiated – another wasted decade. You have petroleum companies now that are investing millions to offset their pollution by owning the environment. Our people end up as renters. But what happens when the carbon market falls apart or collapses? Who is liable? Who pays the price? We are told to safeguard and trust the process, but the advisors in the UN and World Bank, have even admitted that it is going to be very weak.
There is a lot of risk. We fear that at the end of the day, with agriculture now being included as part of REDD, REDD is going to be the largest legal land grab the world has ever seen. Back to colonialism, back to forced privatisation, especially for forest communities. Those with the most money and power can – by remote control, lock up the largest land areas in developing countries. And they are happiest to work with the most corrupt because it is easiest that way.
Do you have representation through large green political muscles – and if so, how, if not, why not?
“When indigenous peoples started to call into question the false solutions, we were attacked by large environmental organisations, saying that we were not looking at the bigger picture, at the benefit of REDD. We saw a campaign mounted to disrupt us, and to marginalise what we’re saying. But indigenous people no longer are able to stand back and let the ‘good intentioned’ voices speak on our behalf. In 1999, it used to be five or six people, at most, holding the line. Only when REDD became part of the picture, did indigenous peoples begin to stand up and actively resist. Corporations that fund some of the green organisations know how to play the game, and the organisations play back, to stay in business. The corporations know there is money to be made from investing in privatised trees, and that it looks good in paper. If you look at the NGOs, these are European ‘white’ NGOs, and there is tremendous racism and classism woven into that. When an ethnic person speaks up, they get offended they don’t want a solution from the marginalised. They want to devise the solution they feel is best for the whole system – and we have to ask ourselves what the system they actually represent, entails.
Many have proposed ‘eco-socialism’ and other similar models as the solution. Renowned Marxist David Harvey says it may be necessary to separate indigenous-type peoples living in the commons, like the Amazon, from the ‘natural’ commons – what is he advocating and from what standpoint?
“The white-is-right dogma – where they don’t care to understand what the reality is and the culture and beliefs, of indigenous peoples, all over the world, especially the most marginalised, the forest peoples. We are the ones most anxious to protect, our cultures are principles on the belief that we cannot own and abuse the earth for our short-term benefit.”
Youth from all over the world have flown in – yet many lack understanding of the political economy of pollution, both problem and solution. Why is this?
“Look at the role of the WWF-type organisations. These are educators. Al Gore – pushing for the carbon market, he is an educator on the environment and climate. They are slumming it out in Durban, it is fashionable for a young white kid from the US or UK to be concerned about a global poverty issue, not the reality in their own backyards, but somewhere where they can be special, become heroes. We challenged the big organisations with environmental racism – the top ten movements, including Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, to bring our voices to the board, to the way in these campaigns are shaped. They resisted us. Even when they do appoint a person of colour, it is usually from within the mentality of surburbia, so that they are never questioned or taken out of the comfort zone where ‘white is right.’ And these organisations and their narratives are so popular – you have young kids coming, getting their hands dirty. They leave, feeling vindicated, slumming around – as if they have done their share. But this is our life, and that parachuting in and out of communities, the ruckus society, is destructive and presents the distorted reality. We have challenged, and become very unpopular, for raising the issue of classism which is source of the problem and requires an economic analysis if the environmental and climate narrative is to be truthful…. Look at 350.org – we had to challenge them to bring us to stand with them on the pipeline issue. Bill McKibben, the ivory tower white academic, didn’t even want to take the time to bring people of colour to the organising. We managed a negotiation that allowed for both groups to unite.
Concerning celebrated activist voices like Naomi Klein – they appear to come from a specific formula – What are your thoughts?
“Well, it is always the case with the media that ‘white is right’ or that global issues affecting people of color on the frontline should be represented by the type of voices that don’t engage, in a threatening way, the realities of capitalism. There are also many fashionable voices that become part of the establishment in the sense that while they do espouse the truth, it is not pose a threat for change, for ending the system, because someone has adopted a cause that they were not born into. The communities that live in the cancer hotspots, in the immediate environment, their voices are too real, too threatening. Meanwhile, infiltration continues – how the corporations lend their money to the media – how the media shapes the tones and get the right voices to provide just the right amount of dissent. Meanwhile, Mayor Bloomberg donated millions to the Occupy Wall Street. We need a systems change, not an isolated trendy environmental change. The organisations that speak need to have a real constituency – they need to be accountable to the people they represent. There is no time for egos and games anymore.
As Navaho people, as Dakota people, we are struggling to understand how the problem that created the problem becomes the solution? In our language, we have no translation of ownership for the air – or carbon. One of my elders told me, if you ever have a hard time translating something into your language, beware that it may lack the truth.
“The masses have never thirsted after truth. They turn aside from evidence that is not to their taste, preferring to deify error, if error seduce them. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim” – Gustave Le Bon, 1895
In 2007 Pembina Institute submitted their infamous tar sands Carbon Neutral by 2020 report to the federal government for hearings on energy and greenhouse gas emissions regulations. This report is a most valuable asset to industry as it portrays the false illusion that it is possible for the tar sands to become “sustainable”. Further, it is an environmental “leader” making the claim as opposed to industry – a gift to the industrial capitalists. The false solutions used to perpetuate such a myth are clearly defined under the Pembina “key conclusions” such as: “Carbon neutrality can be achieved by combining on-site GHG reductions using measures such as energy efficiency and/or fuel switching (to lower carbon fuels), carbon capture and storage, and/or purchasing offsets.” On November 14, 2010, Globe and Mail Business reported that Pembina (while standing as a lead ENGO in Climate Action Network ) essentially supports the continuation of the tar sands. In the article, Jennifer Grant, oil sands program director with the Pembina Institute, was quoted as saying: “The government needs to identify what the environmental limits are in a cumulative sense for oil sands development to proceed responsibly….”
“We can only hope that the last vestiges of manifest destiny don’t kill us off completely. Poisoning our earth in the name of profits and billionaire well-being, this is what our capitalist society stands for. Everyone wants their name at the top of the marquee in this play of the grand delusion.” — Harold One Feather
On February 25, 2010, a Globe and Mail article titled “What the forestry industry is teaching the oil sands” is most revealing. In 1996, Tom Stephens was named chief executive officer of MacMillan Bloedel Corporation, whose clearcutting of old-growth forests had provoked rage, as well as the single-largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history at Clayoquot Sound in B.C. Caught up in a public relations nightmare, MacMillan Bloedel had the insight that it would be far wiser to engage with specific leaders: “Rather than continuing to fight the protesters, they decided to engage with them, setting in motion a transformation of forest practices that not only assuaged opponents, but also led to more profits.” One such young protester who made up the “Women of Clayoquot” was today’s “green capitalist” Tzeporah Berman, who now works for Greenpeace International. (Berman is also an endorser of the Ottawa Tar Sands Action) Janet Annesley, who campaigned for Greenpeace on the Clayoquot Sound issue, is now vice-president of communications for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. Today, Stephens finds himself in a new environmental battle: “He is a director of TransCanada Corp., whose pipelines serve the oil sands and whose fortunes ride on their success. He knows the value of an industry confronting its environmental demons.” [Emphasis added]
That’s an understatement.
Video: Paul Watson speaks on Greenpeace (Running Time: 7:20)
“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable …” – George Orwell
Over the past years the original campaign phrase/message of “shut down the tar sands!” has slowly dissolved into much more passive language and verbal communication such as “there must be no more exploration of the tar sands until it can be done without destroying the environment.” On September 15, 2011 Council of Canadians announced the Canadian version of the tar sands civil obedience action to occur on Parliament Hill, Ottawa on September 26, 2011. The announcement calls for “an end to the destruction caused by the tar sands.”
The end of destruction caused by the tar sands is much different then calling for the shutting down of the tar sands. What constitutes destruction is not the same as ending production.
Further, even if it were possible – to extract tar sands without exploiting the Earth (which it is not), the end result is that the refined fossil fuels are burned. Burning equals CO2. Burning equals pollution.
On August 1, 2011 the following excerpt is taken from an article featured on the Indigenous Environmental Network website (quote originates from Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation):
“Until Alberta makes meaningful efforts to protect land, regulate industry and ensure that First Nations are at the table as full partners to develop solutions to the serious environmental challenges that government and industry are creating, they can count on our opposition to further development within the region.” [emphasis added]
Above image: The 2010 Boreal Award was presented to Chief Allan Adam by Boreal Leadership Council member Bob Walker, of Northwest and Ethical Investments. 2009 nominees in attendance included Kimberly-Clark, Suncor Energy Inc. Stephen Harper’s henchman, John Baird was presented with an award in 2008. The 2009 and 2010 gala was sponsored by Nexen, Al-Pac, Domtar and Suncor.
The Inner Workings of Corporate Environmentalism
“Reformers who are always compromising, have not yet grasped the idea that truth is the only safe ground to stand upon.” – Elizabeth Stanton
Philanthropy and its purposes haven’t changed much since Rockefeller millions were dispensed to winch the family name out of the mud, particularly after the Ludlow massacre when Rockefeller minions broke a strike by spraying with oil and then igniting tents filled with women and children.
…Nearly a century later, the environmental movement, supposedly big oil’s implacable foe, found itself on the receiving end of about $50 million a year from three oil conglomerates, operating through front groups politely described as private foundations. 
…In 1948 the family set up the Pew Charitable Trust, based in Philadelphia, with an endowment totalling nearly $4 billion in the year 2000.  …The utility of buying the loyalty of liberals impressed itself on the family rather late, in the 1980s. But since then they have more than made up for lost time. By the beginning of the second Clinton term, the Pew Charitable Trusts represented one of the largest donors to the environmental movement, with about $250 million a year invested.  …Pew rarely went it alone. It preferred to work in coalitions with those other foundations, which meant almost no radical opposition to their cautious environmental policies can get any money. 
…But this did not tell the full story of coercion through money. One of the conditions attached to the receipt of Pew grant money was that attention be focused on government actions. Corporate wrongdoers were not to be pursued. With Pew money rolling their way, the environmental opposition became muted, judicious and finally disappeared. As long-time New Mexico environmentalist Sam Hitt put it: “Pew comes into a region like a Death Star, creating organizations that are all hype and no substance, run by those whose primary aim is merely to maintain access to foundation funding.”
Meanwhile, the endowed money held by these trusts was carefully invested in the very corporations that a vigorous environmental movement would be adamantly opposing. An examination of Pew’s portfolio in 1995 revealed that its money was invested in timber firms, mining companies, oil companies, arms manufacturers and chemical companies. The annual yield from these investments far exceeded the dispensations to environmental groups. 
…In the crucial Clinton years, Alton Jones [another oil company that funds environmental groups] maintained an endowment of $220 million and in 1994 handed out $15.8 million in grants. 
…The last of the three big environmental foundations is the Rockefeller Family Fund.  …The Rockefeller Family Fund, in its 1993 IRS filing, held $3.5 million in oil and gas stocks, including Amerada Hess (one of the first companies to drill on Alaska’s North Slope and company convicted of price fixing) … and extensive holdings in the Ten Worst Corporations.  …The Rockefeller Family Fund also maintained hefty investments in mining companies, including ASARCO, an outfit with a distinctly noxious environmental rap sheet. Its activities have laid waste to western Montana, easily overwhelming the yelps of the Mineral Policy Center, which conducted a futile campaign against the company, partially funding by the RFF.
The Ross-run fund also invested money in FMC and Freeport-McMoRan, whose worldwide depredations were on the cutting edge not only of ecocide but – in Indonesia – of genocide as well. The Rockefeller Funds’ mineral and chemical companies holdings exceeded a million dollars in 1993.
In that same year, the RFF had a strong position in timber giant Weyerhaeuser, the largest private landowning company in North America. The potential for conflicts of interests endemic to all foundations with the ability to influence federal policy is sharply illustrated here. The Rockefeller Family Fund was one of the lead architects of the foundation-funded campaign to protect ancient forests on federal lands in the Pacific Northwest. Any reduction, actual or prospective, of timber available for logging on public lands drives up the value of privately-held timber tracts. The Fund was in a position to make a killing by buying Weyerhaeuser stock low and selling it high, before large-scale logging resumed on public lands.
The Family Fund was nicely covered because it also had holdings of $237,000 in Boise-Cascade, which at the time was the largest purchaser of federal timber sales in the Northwest. Indeed, in 1993 Boise-Cascade bought the rights to log the controversial Sugarloaf tract of 800-year-old Douglas fir trees in southern Oregon’s Siskiyou National Forest, courtesy of a released injunction engineered by a deal between the Clinton administration and environmental groups funded and closely supervised Ross’s organization. Ross also played a key role in the hiring of Democratic Party hack Bob Chlopak (another former Naderite) to oversee the conversion of a tough national grassroots movement to fight Clinton to the death over the permanent protection of old-growth forests into a supine national coalition that swiftly draped itself in the white flag of surrender.
Even after Donald Ross left the Rockefeller Family he continued to stride between two worlds. Ross formed a lobby / PR shop called M + R Strategic Services, where his clients, according to SourceWatch, included both environmental groups (the Nature Conservancy, NRD.C., the National Wildlife Federation and Earth Justice) and environmental foundations (Hewlitt Foundation, Patagonia, Lazar Foundation, and Wilberforce – as well as the Rockefeller Family Fund). He didn’t forget the corporations either. In 2009, Ross became chairman of the board of a defanged Greenpeace.
All of these foundations had their bets nicely covered, both politically and financially. The once unruly grassroots green movement was brought under tight control through annual disbursements of funds, rewarded on the condition that these groups follow the dictates of the funders. At times this meant giving up hard-won legal injunctions. In other instances, it meant refraining from filing politically sensitive lawsuits to stop timber sales or gold mines and muting its public criticism of Democratic politicians.
With court injunctions lifted, there was only one way for environmentalists to confront illegal and ecologically destructive operations: civil disobedience. And that was a tactic the big foundations would never underwrite. Disobey these conditions and a group risked the annual renewal of its funding. Precious few did.”
That is, until now. The web of deceit has grown much more sophisticated.
The Precedent for the Tar Sands Sell-Out Has Already Been Set – Junk Environmentalism
This is nothing new and we’ve seen it before.
It is imperative that citizens and grassroots recognize that many of the big greens behind The Tar Sands Action campaign (including RAN, Greenpeace, and the David Suzuki Foundation) are the same organizations that sold out the Boreal Forest in 2008 and 2010. Not all the groups sold out. There were exceptions. Most recently Greenpeace, WWF, and RAN are all under fire for what Dr. Glen Barry calls The Great Rainforest Heist: The FSC and REDD + conspiracy to log Earth’s last primary forests.
Daniel Kessler, the communications person for Tar Sands Action Group, now works for RAN as their Energy & Finance Communications Manager. RAN played an integral role in the sell-out of the Boreal Forest referred to in the above article. Prior to RAN Kessler worked as Manager of Communications at Greenpeace International. Kessler’s view of an environmental “success” mirrors his belief in the false illusion that green capitalism will save us. Kessler: “For Apple to go green would be a tremendous symbolic move for the green industry.”
Video: The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (Corporate Environmentalism in a Nutshell) (Running time: 61 seconds) Posted by The Forest Products Association Canada: The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement – Toronto News Conference highlights, with Avrim Lazar (FPAC) and Richard Brooks (Greenpeace).
Secret Agreement in the Works Between ENGOs and Tar Sands Industry
November 9, 2010: In the article titled “Secret Agreement in the Works Between ENGOs and Tar Sands Industry,” journalist Dru Oja Jay writes:
Will environmentalists continue to allow foundation funding to dictate to the movement? A slew of recent articles have pointed to the likelihood that some foundation-funded environmental groups and the tar sands extraction industry are getting ready to make peace and sign a deal. The precedent, these reports note, has been set with the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement and the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement. What the media coverage doesn’t mention is the actual character of these previous deals, and the unprecedented consolidation of funder influence in the hands of one man that is driving environmental groups toward such an agreement.  
…On October 21, John Spears of the Toronto Star interviewed FPAC’s Avrim Lazar, who told Spears of the calls he was fielding from oil company executives curious about the logging companies’ experience finding common ground with environmental groups. Lazar said that an important precursor to an agreement is for both parties to recognize that tar sands operations have an environmental impact, but for environmentalists to ‘stop calling oil sands extraction an abomination that has to be stopped.’
…Oil companies left no doubt about their interest in an agreement. What about their ENGO partners?
“At Tides Canada we are working to bridge these two polarized camps,” wrote McMillan, referring to environmentalists and oil companies. McMillan, who was also slated to attend the aborted “fireside chat” [see 9] in April, went on to cite Tides’ role in the 2001 Great Bear Rainforest Agreement, which dealt with a massive area of BC’s central coast. When that agreement was signed, ForestEthics negotiators emerged from secret negotiations with logging companies to announce that they had signed a deal for 20 percent protection. That was less than half of what scientists said was the minimum area that would need to be preserved to avoid damaging biodiversity, and it violated protocol agreements they had signed with local ENGOs and First Nations. None of that mattered to the signatories, who proclaimed themselves victorious.
There are two key differences between agreements signed ten years ago, and those anticipated today.
First, deals have become even more transparently meaningless. Greenpeace and company literally declared that they had ‘saved the Boreal forest’ by signing an agreement that actually makes no net change in the amount of logging. No CBFA signatory can say with a straight face that they have protected an area the size of Germany, though press releases on their site still make that claim. Even the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement completely preserved 20 percent of the vast forest. Though some activists say that ENGOs subsequently turned a blind eye to clearcutting on Vancouver Island, negating even those gains.
Second, and most crucially, funders have consolidated control of funding for anti-tar sands campaigns to an unprecedented extent. Anyone who wants foundation funding (which most ENGOs rely on) for their campaigns has to talk to Corporate Ethics founder Michael Marx. Marx and his coordinators set funding priorities through the “Tar Sands Coalition,” a structure that, according to internal documents, is supposed to remain “invisible to the outside.”
All of the money for the Tar Sands Coalition comes through Tides Canada Foundation. We know little about where it originates, though the bulk of it comes from U.S. mega-foundations like the Pew Charitable Trusts, which outed itself as the architect of the CBFA after giving millions to environmental groups doing Boreal forest work. Other big donors include the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation, William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the David & Lucile Packard Foundation.
Together, they have given at least $4.3 million to tar sands campaigns since 2000. Together, they hold vast power to decide the fate of those campaigns.
Control over the vast majority of ENGO funding for tar sands work is firmly in the hands of Michael Marx, on behalf of foundations with a taste for collaborative agreements. Journalists seem willing to print claims about “saving the Boreal forest” or “protecting an area the size of Germany” without seeing any actual agreement. 
350.org Quietly Infiltrates Canada
3 March 2011, as found on The Pearson College website: “Dear Friends, Something exciting is brewing in Canada right now. 350.org is working with a new political organization called Leadnow, spearheaded by our friend Jamie Biggar, and we wanted you to be on the ground floor of this exciting initiative.”
Jamie Biggar is the co-founder and executive director of leadnow.ca. Biggar is an endorser and likely key organizer of, the Tar Sands Action in Ottawa. Adam Shedletzky is founding director and board representative of LeadNow modeled after MoveOn.org (USA) and GetUp.org.au. Shedletsky was the Canadian coordinator for the 350.org 10/10/10 global work party and a former management consultant. His background/education is global strategy and finance. In 2005 he co-founded It’s Getting Hot In Here (asdiscussed in the article Rockefellers’ 1Sky Unveils the New 350.org | More $ – More Delusion).
In the 2 September 2011 article, 350.org/LeadNow: Leadership or Sabotage?, the author states “Leadnow.ca is yet another unfocused, fuzzy, unprovocative and unimaginative organization dedicated to all the good things liberals crave. They are a perfect fit for our 350.org/1Sky group, detached as they are from political reality and dedicated to distracting and detaching the rest of us from meaningful, forceful action on global warming and the environment.”
Big Oil Funds the “Opposition”
“The ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee and I will pay more for that ability than for any other under the sun.” – David Rockefeller, current patriarch of the Rockefeller family and only surviving grandchild of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil
Another big green “leading the opposition” to the Keystone expansion is the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The largest donors to the NRDC include the Pew Foundation (Sun Oil/Sunoco), the W. Alton Jones Foundation (Citgo), and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (Standard Oil/Exxon Mobil). The Rockefeller family initiated the Environmental Grantmakers’ Association. The British Royals (BP) as well as Prince Bernhard (Shell) and the Rockefellers were principal actors in initiating the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) as well as the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWFN). The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) NGO partners with corporations such as Shell and boasts “corporate green” members such as NRDC. The IUCN has funding of approximately $100 million in 2010 with funding from the private sector increasing considerably. The three largest conservation organizations worldwide – The Nature Conservancy, WWF, and Conservation International combined revenues exceed $2 billion (2007), more than double their revenues in 2000. Of this, the three groups received at least $35 million more from their corporate partnerships in 2010 than in 2003, although their annual reports do not clarify all sources of corporate funding. Nature Conservancy’s president and CEO is former Goldman Sachs Group executive Mark Tercek. Former Nature Conservancy presidentHenry Paulson also made his rounds through the revolving doors of Goldman Sachs. Nature Conservancy board member, Muneer Satter, also originated from Goldman Sachs.
Access and control over the environmental movement ensures the ability of capitalism to shape and control the movement. This is why the corporations initiate and fund NGOs, co-opting militant environmentalism, and diminishing possible dissent. Funding NGOs, via tax-exempt foundations, is a good business investment. As an example, the Packard Foundation currently has approximately one billion dollars invested in the false illusion of successfully drilling methane hydrates.
“350.org: $1,661,440.00. 1Sky: $3,425,549.00. The plutocracy owning and controlling the movement? Priceless.”
Since 2000, U.S. foundations have provided approximately $300 million to Canadian organizations to undertake Canadian conservation initiatives and “reform” of Canadian resource-based industries. At minimum $210 million came from five U.S. foundations: the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, and the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation. Over $120 million in U.S. foundations’ money was designated to the Great Bear Rainforest Initiative on the coast of British Columbia and the Boreal Forest Initiative.
Since 2002, The Pew Charitable Trusts has spent $44 million on the Boreal Forest Initiative in Canada. Canada’s forests cover some of the planet’s largest deposits of minerals and energy resources. Two of Pew’s grants for the Boreal Forest Initiative are audaciously titled “British Columbia Mining.”
Many U.S. foundations have made grants that explicitly spell out over-reliance on fossil fuels as a matter of national security.
National security is an understatement.
Burn Your Obama Buttons
“The amount of blood thirst in this country is fucking barbaric.” – Nathaniel St. Clair, Counterpunch
Like victims of abuse, the liberal Left call upon our abusers for a kinder, gentler, more “ethical” abuse. They stand by and support those who continue to tell us to wear our buttons to demonstrate our unwavering support of, and steadfast belief in, our abusers. They work hard to convince us that we, such moral citizens, can appeal to and thus change the abusers. Such illusion will sentence most all life on Earth to certain death.
In a July 2011 article, McKibben told us: “Bring Your Obama Buttons – Momentum Builds for White House Tar Sands Action.”
From the Bill McKibben article appearing July 10 2011, The Great American Carbon Bomb:
If you want to sign up to be part of it, here’s the place to go … Two weeks ago, for instance, a few veteran environmentalists, myself included, issued a call for protest against Canada’s plans to massively expand oil imports from the tar sands regions of Alberta. We set up a new website, tarsandsaction.org, and judging from the early response, it could result in the largest civil disobedience actions in the climate-change movement’s history on this continent, as hundreds, possibly thousands, of concerned activists converge on the White House in August. They’ll risk arrest to demand something simple and concrete from President Obama: that he refuse to grant a license for Keystone XL, a new pipeline from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico that would vastly increase the flow of tar sands oil through the U.S., ensuring that the exploitation of Alberta’s tar sands will only increase.
Lecture by John Pilger: “Obama Is A Corporate Marketing Creation” (Running Time: 5:28). John Pilger is an Australian journalist and documentary maker. He has twice won Britain’s Journalist of the Year Award, and his documentaries have received awards in Britain and the U.S..
And the Oscar goes to Barack Obama, for his portrayal of an African American president …
And anyone to wear an Obama button in 2011 – as U.S. led occupations escalate, as the bombs fall on the citizens of Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Libya, while covert wars are underway in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan – and as corporatism eats us alive – must seriously consider hiding their face in shame.
“If you tremble with indignation at every injustice, then you are a comrade of mine.” — Ernesto “Che” Guevara
If we wish to live in a world free of war, exploitation, oppression and ecological devastation, then we must embrace the reality that the global capitalist industrialized economic system – which serves the small ruling class – must be dismantled. There is no other way. And this is the unabated truth that McKibben and his disciples (think Greenpeace, RAN, NRDC, and on and on the list goes) choose to ignore. These groups, funded by the industrial machine itself, believe in the system; therefore they support the atrocities being committed in the name of profit. Ironically, the very groups that bask in the halo of non-violent civil disobedience are the very ones who constitute the authoritarian social relationships that prop up and defend violence.
Grassroots groups have been co-opted, marginalized, drowned out and made essentially irrelevant, if not invisible, by the institutional Left and their funders. Their symbolic campaigns and “efforts” to convey essential information regarding our ecological crisis have succeeded in ensuring that any attempt to convey the truth of the severity of our crisis is framed, thus perceived by the public at large, as “radical” and “fear-mongering.” (Radical is another term co-opted by the Right and now perceived by the public as a negative trait rather than its true meaning; to get to the root of the problem.) Any real movement to prevent the eradication of all life, from what is now aptly termed by scientists as “the sixth mass extinction,” must insist that all decisions be based on real-life circumstances and not on arbitrary ideologies that allow us to remain aloof.
Essay: Pacifism as Pathology by Ward Churchill; 1984:
 The founding of the Climate Action Network (CAN) in 1988 can be traced back to the early players in the ENGO community, including Michael Oppenheimer of the corporate NGO, Environmental Defense Fund. CAN is a global network of over 700 nongovernmental organizations (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) 2 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 300 groups demanding action on climate change, states instead bask in the comfort of having to deal with only one (that of CAN), which essentially demands little to nothing. CAN has seven regional coordinating 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.
 through  Source: Jeffrey St. Clair is the author of Been Brown So Long It Looked Like Green to Me: the Politics of Nature and Grand Theft Pentagon. His newest book, Born Under a Bad Sky, is published by AK Press / CounterPunch books.
 According to an analysis of financial reports from the Clinton years, the top givers were the Sun Oil Company (Sunoco) and Oryx Energy, which controlled vast holdings of natural gas in Arkansas and across the oil patch. The Pew family once entirely controlled both Sunoco and Oryx, maintained large holdings in both, and was, in fact, sued for insider trading by Oryx shareholders. Excerpted from Green Scare: the New War on Environmentalism by Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank.
 In its early days the foundation (a collection of seven separate trusts) was vociferously rightwing, with money going to the John Birch Society, to Billy Graham. Excerpted from Green Scare: the New War on Environmentalism by Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank.
 During Clinton’s time, the Pew environmental sector was headed by Joshua Reichert. Reichert and his subordinates, Tom Wathen and John Gilroy, not only allocated money to individual Pew projects, such as the Endangered Species Coalition, but they also helped direct the donations of other foundations mustered in the Environmental Grantmakers’ Association. Excerpted from Green Scare: the New War on Environmentalism by Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank.
 There were some notable foundations that objected to Pew’s leveraged buyouts of environmental campaigns, notably the Levinson, Patagonia, and Turner Foundations. Excerpted from Green Scare: the New War on Environmentalism by Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank.
 Take just one of the seven Pew trust funds: the Pew Memorial Trust. This enterprise made $205 million in “investment income” in 1993 from such stocks as Weyerhaeuser ($16 million), the mining concern Phelps-Dodge ($3.7 million), International Paper ($4.56 million), and Atlantic Richfield, which was pushing hard to open even more of the Arctic to oil drilling ($6.1 million). The annual income yield from rape-and-pillage companies accruing to Pew in this single trust was twice as large as its total grants, and six times as large as all of Pew’s environmental dispensations that year (about $20 million in 1993). Excerpted from Green Scare: the New War on Environmentalism by Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank.
 Next of the big three in environmental funding was an oil company known as Cities Services, which endowed the W. Alton Jones Foundation, based in Charlottesville, Virginia. (In the merger frenzy of the 1980s, Cities was ultimately taken over by Occidental Petroleum, in a move that saved Ivan Boesky from financial ruin. It was later parceled off to the Southland Corporation, owners of Seven Eleven; then finally, in 1990, it was sold to Petroleos de Venezuela). According to the charity’s charter, the purpose of the foundation was two-fold: preservation of biological diversity and elimination of the threat of nuclear war. Although, Alton Jones doled out about $14 million a year to environmental causes during the Clinton years with the same engulf-and-neuter tactic of Pew, this apostle of peace maintained very large holdings in arms manufacturers, including Martin-Marietta ($3.26 million), Raytheon ($1.32 million), Boeing ($1.38 million), and GE ($1.4 million). Alton Jones’ portfolio was also enhanced by income from bonds floated by Charles Hurwitz’s Scotia-Pacific Holdings Company, a subsidiary of Maxxam, which was at that very moment trying to cut down the Headwaters Grove, the largest patch of privately owned redwoods in the world. The charity’s annual statement to the Internal Revenue Service also disclosed a $1.4 million stake in Louisiana-Pacific, then the large purchaser of timber from publicly-owned federal forests. The company had been convicted of felony violations of federal environmental laws at its pulp mill in Ketchikan, Alaska, where L-P was butchering its way through the Tongass National Forest. At the same time, Alton Jones maintained a position (just under $1 million in stock) in FMC, the big gold mining enterprise, whose dousing of endangered salmon habitat in Idaho with cyanide at the Beartrack Mine was greased by Clinton’s Commerce Secretary Ron Brown. Picking up revenue from FMC’s salmon destruction with one hand, in 1993 the foundation gave about $600,000 with the other hand to supposedly protect salmon habitat in the same area. The grants went to the compliant and docile groups in the region, such as the Pacific Rivers Council. At a crucial moment in January 1994, Pacific Rivers Council and the Wilderness Society – another recipient of W. Alton Jones cash – demanded that a federal judge suspend an injunction the groups had – to their great alarm – just won. The injunction had shut down FMC’s Beartrack Gold Mine, from which the company expected to make $300 million courtesy of the 1872 Mining Act, whose reform the Clinton administration carefully avoided. When the Wilderness Society’s attorneys asked Judge David Ezra to rescind the injunction, he was outraged, but had no alternative but to comply. FMC’s stock promptly soared, yielding extra earning for Alton Jones’ holdings in the mining concern. Excerpted from Green Scare: the New War on Environmentalism by Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank.
 “In the Clinton era, the RFF was run by ex-Naderite Donald Ross, who pulled down, according to IRS filings, $130,000 a year, plus another $23,000 in benefits. The relationship of the Family Fund to Rockefeller oil money scarcely needs stating. Though, the Fund dispensed a relatively puny $2 million a year in grants, it exercises great influence by dint of the foundation’s leadership of the Environmental Grantmaker’s Association. The Fund also functioned as a kind of staff college for foundation executives. Pew’s John Gilroy and Tom Wathen both learned their trade under Ross’s tutelage. In the 1980s, when the Multinational Monitor revealed that the ten largest foundations in America owned billions in stock in companies doing business in South Africa, Donald Ross lamented that many foundations “simply turn their portfolios over to a bank trust department or to outside managers and that’s the last they see of it.” Excerpted from Green Scare: the New War on Environmentalism by Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank.
 “… as listed by Multinational Monitor …” Excerpted from Green Scare: the New War on Environmentalism by Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank.
 Things got started back in April, when a secret “fireside chat” was planned between oil industry executives and ENGO leaders, including former Great Bear Rainforest Agreement negotiators Tzeporah Berman and Merran Smith, and representatives from Tides Canada, World Wildlife Fund, Pembina Institute, and others. After word circulated about the “informal, beer-in-hand” discussions, the meeting was called off – temporarily. Excerpt from the “Secret Agreement in the Works Between ENGOs and Tar Sands Industry” by journalist DruOja Jay.
 The idea hit the corporate media in September 2010, with reports that Syncrude Chairman Marcel Coutu had solicited David Suzuki to broker an agreement between environmentalists and tar sands operators. Suzuki rebuffed him, saying that a dialogue was not possible while oil companies were funding lies about their environmental impact. But the idea didn’t die – and neither did the lies. In October 2010, during a major ad campaign from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers that compared tar sands tailings to yogurt, the Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald published a report by Sheila Pratt titled “Is an oilsands [sic] truce possible?” Pratt interviews Avrim Lazar, CEO of the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC), the group of logging companies that signed an accord with Greenpeace, the David Suzuki Foundation, and several other Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations (ENGOs). That was the “Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement” (CBFA). Pratt repeats the false claim that the agreement preserves 72 million hectares of forest. In fact, the CBFA maintains the current rate of logging, simply shifting a small portion (about the size of metro Toronto) to areas outside of the Caribou Range. Furthermore, it requires ENGOs to defend the logging companies that signed against criticism and help them market their products. Of all of Pratt’s interviewees, only Greenpeace’s Mike Hudema states the obvious: it is not possible to green the tar sands. Excerpt from the “Secret Agreement in the Works Between ENGOs and Tar Sands Industry” by journalist DruOja Jay.
 “Our future hinges on the tar sands. Will any level of environmental destruction, loss of human life, or climate change be considered an acceptable cost to continue consumption of fossil fuels? Or is there a limit to the amount of destruction we will accept? If a secret agreement is allowed to go forward, then those who cannot accept ever-escalating destruction will have to fight other ENGOs in addition to fighting the oil companies. Will the Tar Sands Greenwashing Accord continue as planned?” Excerpt from the “Secret Agreement in the Works Between ENGOs and Tar Sands Industry” by journalist DruOja Jay. For more about ENGOs and the collaborative model, read the 2009 report “Offsetting Resistance: The effects of foundation funding from the Great Bear Rainforest to the Athabasca River,” by Macdonald Stainsby and DruOja Jay.
Eyes Wide Shut | The Tar Sands Action Protest & The Paralysis of a Movement
August 30th, 2011
Following is an excerpt from Ward Churchill’s Pacifism as Pathology, first published in 1986. For anyone interested in mitigating the global collapse of all ecosystems and deterring planet-wide and species-wide genocide, this is essential reading.
For anyone wishing to take a critical look at the Tar Sands protests by groups funded (in some cases created) by the Rockefellers and other corporate foundations – who will stop at absolutely nothing to keep the current power structures intact – the excerpt from this essay is sure to wake one from the paralysis trapping and constraining movements and societies to the status quo. The parallels of Churchill’s essay and events in Washington DC being celebrated and endorsed, while the planet rests on the precipice, are nothing less than Orwellian.
The question central to the emergence and maintenance of nonviolence as the oppositional foundation of American activism has not been the truly pacifist formulation, “How can we forge a revolutionary politics within which we can avoid inflicting violence on others?” On the contrary, a more accurate guiding question has been, “What sort of politics might I engage in which will both allow me to posture as a progressive and allow me to avoid incurring harm to myself?” Hence, the trappings of pacifism have been subverted to establish a sort of “politics of the comfort zone,” not only akin to what Bettelheim termed “the philosophy of business as usual” and devoid of perceived risk to its advocates, but minus any conceivable revolutionary impetus as well. The intended revolutionary content of true pacifist activism — the sort practiced by the Gandhian movement, the Berrigans, and Norman Morrison – is thus isolated and subsumed in the United States, even among the ranks of self-professing participants.
Such a situation must abort whatever limited utility pacifist tactics might have, absent other and concurrent forms of struggle, as a socially transformative method. Yet the history of the American Left over the past decade shows too clearly that the more diluted the substance embodied in “pacifist practice,” the louder the insistence of its subscribers that nonviolence is the only mode of action “appropriate and acceptable within the context of North America,” and the greater the effort to ostracize, or even stifle divergent types of actions. Such strategic hegemony exerted by proponents of this truncated range of tactical options has done much to foreclose on what ever revolutionary potential may be said to exist in modern America.
Is such an assessment too harsh? One need only attend a mass demonstration (ostensibly directed against the policies of the state) in any U.S. city to discover the answer. One will find hundreds, sometimes thousands, assembled in orderly fashion, listening to selected speakers calling for an end to this or that aspect of lethal state activity, carrying signs “demanding” the same thing, welcoming singers who enunciate lyrically on the worthiness of the demonstrators’ agenda as well as the plight of the various victims they are there to “defend,” and – typically – the whole thing is quietly disbanded with exhortations to the assembled to “keep working” on the matter and to please sign a petition and/or write letters to congress people requesting that they alter or abandon offending undertakings.
Throughout the whole charade it will be noticed that the state is represented by a uniformed police presence keeping a discreet distance and not interfering with the activities. And why should they? The organizers of the demonstration will have gone through “proper channels” to obtain permits required by the state and instructions as to where they will be allowed to assemble, how long they will be allowed to stay and, should a march be involved in the demonstration, along which routes they will be allowed to walk. Surrounding the larger mass of demonstrators can be seen others — an elite. Adorned with green (or white, or powder blue) armbands, their function is to ensure that demonstrators remain “responsible,” not deviating from the state-arm banded sanctioned plan of protest. Individuals or small groups who attempt to spin off from the main body, entering areas to which the state has denied access (or some other unapproved activity) are headed off by these arm-banded “marshals” who argue — pointing to the nearby police – that “troublemaking” will only “exacerbate an already tense situation” and “provoke violence,” thereby “alienating those we are attempting to reach.” In some ways, the voice of the “good Jews” can be heard to echo plainly over the years.
At this juncture, the confluence of interests between the state and the mass nonviolent movement could not be clearer. The role of the police, whose function is to support state policy by minimizing disruption of its procedures, should be in natural conflict with that of a movement purporting to challenge these same policies and, indeed, to transform the state itself. However, with apparent perverseness, the police find themselves serving as mere backups (or props) to self-policing (now euphemistically termed “peace-keeping” rather than the more accurate “marshaling”) efforts of the alleged opposition’s own membership. Both sides of the “contestation” concur that the smooth functioning of state processes must not be physically disturbed, at least not in any significant way. All of this is within the letter and spirit of cooptive forms of sophisticated self-preservation appearing as an integral aspect of the later phases of bourgeois democracy. It dovetails well with more shopworn methods such as the electoral process and has been used by the state as an innovative means of conducting public opinion polls, which better hide rather than eliminate controversial policies. Even the movement’s own sloganeering tends to bear this out from time to time, as when Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) coined the catch-phrase of its alternative to the polling place: “Vote with your feet, vote in the street.”
Of course, any movement seeking to project a credible self-image as something other than just one more variation of accommodation to state power must ultimately establish its “militant” oppositional credentials through the media in a manner more compelling than rhetorical speechifying and the holding of impolite placards (“Fuck the War” was always a good one) at rallies. Here, the time-honored pacifist notion of “civil disobedience” is given a new twist by the adherents of nonviolence in America. Rather than pursuing Gandhi’s (or, to a much lesser extent, King’s) method of using passive bodies to literally clog the functioning of the state apparatus — regardless of the cost to those doing the clogging — the American nonviolent movement has increasingly opted for “symbolic actions.”
The centerpiece of such activity usually involves an arrest, either of a token figurehead of the movement (or a small, selected group of them) or a mass arrest of some sort. In the latter event, “arrest training” is generally provided – and lately has become “required” by movement organizers – by the same marshals who will later ensure that crowd control police units will be left with little or nothing to do. This is to ensure that “no one gets hurt” in the process of being arrested, and that the police are not inconvenienced by disorganized arrest procedures. 
The event which activates the arrests is typically preplanned, well publicized in advance, and, more often than not, literally coordinated with the police — often including estimates by organizers concerning how many arrestees will likely be involved. Generally speaking, such “extreme statements” will be scheduled to coincide with larger-scale peaceful demonstrations so that a considerable audience of “committed” bystanders (and, hopefully, NBC/CBS/ABC/CNN) will be on hand to applaud the bravery and sacrifice of those arrested; most of the bystanders will, of course, have considered reasons why they themselves are unprepared to “go so far” as to be arrested. The specific sort of action designed to precipitate the arrests themselves usually involves one of the following: (a) sitting down in a restricted area and refusing to leave when ordered; (b) stepping across an imaginary line drawn on the ground by a police representative; (c) refusing to disperse at the appointed time; or (d) chaining or padlocking the doors to a public building. When things really get heavy, those seeking to be arrested may pour blood (real or ersatz) on something of “symbolic value.”
As a rule, those arrested are cooperative in the extreme, meekly allowing police to lead them to waiting vans or buses for transportation to whatever station house or temporary facility has been designated as the processing point. In especially “militant” actions, arrestees go limp, undoubtedly severely taxing the states repressive resources by forcing the police to carry them bodily to the vans or buses (monitored all the while by volunteer attorneys who are there to ensure that such “police brutality” as pushing, shoving, or dropping an arrestee does not occur). In either event, the arrestees sit quietly in their assigned vehicles – or sing “We Shall Overcome” and other favorites — as they are driven away for booking. The typical charges levied will be trespassing, creating a public disturbance, or being a public nuisance.
Image: A shop assistant from Lush Cosmetics is doused in “oil.” In March 2011, Lush shop assistants doused themselves while draped in Canadian flags, launching Lush’s new campaign in the UK against the Canadian tar sands. The campaign expanded this month to cities across Europe.
In an unlikely alliance, Lush Cosmetics joins theIndigenous Environmental Networkin rallying against the Canadian tar sands.The Lush campaigntargets the tar sands, yet the CEO of Lush North America fails to target his own family’s dynasty built on the continued exploration of oil, gas and mining.
Today, the environmental movement has become inundated with front-groups, financed by dirty industries. These front groups often fall under the guise of foundations. Unfortunately, not even the best of the long-standing environmental groups are above becoming ensnared in such webs of deception as corporations, governments and, in this case, the global Lush brand. Such entities seek to become celebrated as “green” in a system that cannot be changed by the illusion of “green” growth. This system is destined to ultimately collapse – or kill us – whatever comes first. And this is where we are today.
The CEO of Lush, Mark Wolverton, belongs to the Wolverton family – of Canadian Wolverton Securities. The president and CEO of Wolverton Securities is Brent Wolverton, Mark’s brother. Wolverton Securities was founded in the early 1900s and continues to thrive today with an annual revenue of $20,735,400.
From the Wolverton website:
“Taking advantage of our expertise. Western Canada may well be the venture capital centre of the world, especially when it comes to mining and oil and gas exploration. Wolverton is a primary player in that market for this simple reason: If you look at mining operations in Siberia, South Africa or the jungles of South America, Canadians are running and financing the operations.”
“On the research side, Blackmont hired [an investment analyst] away from Wolverton Securities. The oil and gas analyst has 29 years of experience in the sector, including executive stints in the industry at NAL Oil and Gas Trust and Easton Drilling Fund.”
Ironically, Wolverton Securities Ltd’s Calgary office is actually situated in the Royal Bank Building. Royal Bank Canada is one of the world’s largest financier of the tar sands.
Time Magazine article 2003: “Lush first made its way to North America thanks to brokerage scion Mark Wolverton of Canada’s Wolverton Securities.”
Wolverton has controlled Lush’s North American operations since 1996 – 50% in Canada and 40% in the US.According to the Retail Merchandisers, Strategy for Growth website, approximately $90 million of the company’s global annual sales of $350 million come from its North American operations, comprising manufacturing facilities and distribution via storefronts, malls, airports, and the store-within-a-store concept in which Lush has a 300- to 500-square-foot store in the cosmetics department at 38 Macy’s stores.
The reason Lush CEO Mark Wolverton would support such a hypocritical campaign is nothing new. It’s fantastic branding. It makes people feel good when they buy a bar of soap. It raises awareness – without threatening the industry (or his family’s fortune) in any meaningful way. It builds brand loyalty. And I will be the first one to say – Lush executes such branding/marketing brilliantly.
From the Lush website: “We believe in protecting people, animals and the planet, so when we learned about the tar sands, we knew we had to take a loud and proud LUSH stand against ‘the most destructive project on earth.’ … Here at LUSH, we know it’s time for an oil change!” Displaying extraordinary bravado, the Lush site even states: “Major oil companies, banks and investors are pouring billions of dollars into the development of the Canadian tar sands and the government has created tax breaks and incentives for them to do so.”
In the Tar Sands Blow (Lush Remix) video below,Lush ironically asks the question“Who is Behind This?”
March 2011 from the Gallo Communications Group: Gallo “offers communication skills coaching for the world’s most admired brands.” Gallo states: “To raise awareness of such issues, Lush staff at some stores have stripped down to nothing but an apron to protest over-packaging, storefronts have been converted into giant blood spattered placards, and protests have been held to end Canada’s tar sands project and encourage investment in clean energy.” … “Wolverton acknowledges that Lush’s tactics might turn off some customers (Lush has stores in Alberta and some employees have family members who work in the oil sands). But they are also passionate about their values and communicating those values. ‘We strive for a substantial amount of transparency in the business. We must act in a green fashion and the causes we support. It all fits together,’ says Wolverton…. Above all, Lush teaches small business owners that it’s not enough to sell a product. Sell a story as well.”
IEN members, Indigenous Peoples and average citizens may share the opinion that it is quite outrageous for Lush, partnered with IEN, to campaign to the public about how bad the tar sands are – without addressing the issue that the CEO of Lush has deep ties to industries that are destroying our planet, as his own family fortune is owed to the continued mining, gas and oil exploration industries… industries that exploit the most vulnerable and the Indigenous Peoples while raping the Earth beyond repair.
It appears that an effective and meaningful campaign would be for IEN’s partner, Lush, to demand that Wolverton Securities divest from all fossil fuel investments and only invest in alternatives to industrial energy sources – rejecting investments in all false solutions.
Industrialization can only succeed when traditional communities are successfully destroyed. And as society’s attention is focused on Lush branding and products, the article titled Aboriginal Industry Workforce Expands is published 14 June 2011: “An increase of Aboriginal workers in the oil sands industry is proving to be very beneficial for business. A survey by the Oil Sands Developers Group shows over 1,700 aboriginal people were employed full-time in the oil patch last year. ‘Through the work of Aboriginal people and with the support of oil sands firms the capacity has grown. So year over year, more and more aboriginal people are getting more training, more education, that allows them into the workforce,’ said OSDG President Don Thompson. By partnering with oil sands operators, local aboriginal companies have earned more than $5 billion since 1998. In 2010 alone, oil sands companies contributed $5.5 million to aboriginal communities in Wood Buffalo and the Lac La Biche region.” The industrial employment of aboriginals in the tar sands is simultaneously lethal for Indigenous cultures – eroding ancestral practices, knowledge and spirituality to the point where they eventually deteriorate altogether – and critical to the success of industrial capitalism.
Lush: Growth, growth growth …
“We believe our products are good value, that we should make a profit and that the customer is always right.” – “We Believe” from the Lush website
And as wonderful as Lush itself might be, it is still a perfect example of “green” capitalism that seeks continuous growth. This in spite of the fact that Lush continues to be a privately owned company (shareholders: Mark Constantine 37%, Margaret Constantine 25%, Andrew Gerrie 12%, others 26%). In February 2009, BNET reported: “British cosmetic retailerLush just opened its 100th store in the United States that also happened to be its 37th operating in a Macy’s, and, despite the recession, is looking forward to opening up to 30 more outlets in its current roll out across the country…. One benefit of recession, at least for Lush, is that better real estate is coming available as weaker retailers fail.”
As with most capitalists, no matter how profitable one venture such as Lush (702 locations in 44 countries worldwide) might be, the desire for additional wealth is insatiable. In 2007 in an article titled Mark Wolverton: Bath Bombs and Beer, the reporter writes: “A descendant of the founder of Wolverton Securities Ltd., Wolverton spent his high-school summers on the trading floor of the Vancouver Stock Exchange, fully expecting to step into a long career at the venerable brokerage firm. Today, he and his brother manage a real-estate portfolio that includes a number of downtown office buildings and West End residential buildings. More recently, he bought a brewery in Kamloops and partnered with Vancouver restaurateur Mark James to open brew pubs in Whistler, Yaletown, Surrey and North Vancouver.”
Wolverton: “The Body Shop has more than 2,000 stores in the US, and we have 104. So we have a lot of room to reach out and develop further. We will continue to add extensively to the store base, continue to deliver new brands to the customers, and create a much bigger following globally.”
It is interesting to note that the original founders of Lush were the Body Shop’s biggest supplier (under the business name “Constantine and Weir”) until 1994, when Body Shop bought them out for £6m. Then, after one failed concept (“Cosmetics to Go”) Lush emerged – to stay. In the 2007 Guardian article Lush couple with a shed load of ideas in an interview with Lush founder Mark Constantine, Constantine states: “There wasn’t the scope for all the bullshit. It was much more realistic. If you have got no money there is a constant focus on making a profit, which is so much more healthy.” … “In 2001 Lush tried to buy Body Shop and Mark bristles when recalling that his offer was dismissed by the Roddicks as “an early April Fool’s joke”. Upon making the official announcement that a bid by Lush (£175m) for the Body Shop was “speculation” Constantine added: “Lush is an ambitious company and we are looking at different ways to expand our business, either through wholly owned shops, deals or, indeed, through acquisitions.”
The Lush growth plan and sales as reported by the New Zealand Herald: As of August 2010 Lush had acquired 680 stores in 44 countries, including eight in NZ with plans to open 100 more in the next five years. In 2009 the revenue for Lush was $595 million. The Sunday Times Rich List estimates Mark Constantine’s monetary wealth at £50 million.
From the Wolverton Foundation website: “He [Mark Wolverton] graduated from B.C.I.T. in Financial Management in 1986 and worked alongside his father and brother in the expansion of their family-owned brokerage business, Wolverton Securities…. Recognizing the potential of the Lush brand, Mark moved out of the brokerage business in 1997 and began working full time for Lush. Mark and his wife Karen, embrace the challenge of the development and exploitation of the North American market for the Lush brand and hopes [sic]to work closely with the U.K. in the coordination of the brand globally.”
We can expect that the true success of the Lush campaign against the Canadian tar sands will be measured by whether consumers were convinced that Lush is greener and better than The Body Shop. (Incidentally, The Body Shop is now owned my multinational corporations L’Oréal, which continues to test on animals, and major human rights offender Nestlé, which owns 30% of L’Oréal.) After all, the Lush campaign won’t have the slightest effect against the tar sands, butit could help Lush surpass The Body Shop in socio-environmental branding.
“Lush didn’t tout its ethics much in the past, but as green initiatives become mainstream, and greenwashing more plentiful, the company has started to shine a light on its credentials as a values-based organization. In some cases, that means taking a highly visible stance on a social issue such as Canada’s controversial commercial seal hunt.” – from Do Good and Do Well, Retail Merchandisers, Strategy for Growth website
Unfortunately, no matter how beautifully packaged, how creamy, magnificent and “eco-friendly” a Lush product may be, at the end of the day, capital has only one imperative, and that is to grow. Under the current economic system, the ultimate measure of success is profit. Corporations exist to maximize profits while externalizing costs. That is their nature. They cannot behave otherwise. Waste, pollution, and ecological destruction are built into the system. A system that requires infinite growth cannot last forever on a finite planet defined by ecological and social limits. Market-driven growth is driving us toward collapse.
And, we must address the mining industry – listed as a key area of Wolverton Securities’ expertise and specialty. The track record of Canadian mining companies perpetrating exploitation in developing countries is most horrific.
Uploaded 13 June 2011: Testimony of Rosa Elbira: Gang-rapes at a Canadian-owned mine in Guatemala;Rosa Elbira and 10 other Mayan women were gang raped by security personnel at a mine in Guatemala during a violent eviction requested by Canadian mining company HMI Nickel (now owned by Canadian company HudBay Minerals). Rosa tells their story:
16 May 2011: From the Wolverton website under NEWS: Hudbay Minerals Releases First Quarter 2011 Results: “Hudbay Minerals Inc. (“Hudbay”, the “company”) today released its first quarter 2011 financial results. Net profit attributable to shareholders increased to $16.8 million or $0.11 per share in the first quarter of 2011, compared to $10.6 million, or $0.07 per share, during the first quarter of 2010.(http://bit.ly/jP4hS3)
The example above is just one example in thousands of the horrific abuses and murder of activists and Indigenous Peoples in which Canadian mining companies bear responsibility. At the same time, those most oppressed by the system and “free” markets will never have the ” luxury” of wasting $7.00 on a Lush bath bomb … nor, I believe, would they choose to do so. Surely the vulnerable and exploited would consider it the greatest of luxuries to simply have access to uncontaminated water for drinking – a basic human right. Water, free of contamination from mining, gas, oil and all other pollutants, is an impossibility within our industrialized capitalist system – in which both Lush and Wolverton Securities are key participants.
In December of 2010, Rainforest Action Network [RAN], issued a press release that was full of praise for the Royal Bank of Canada adopting a new framework around investments in companies involved in tar sands production.
RBC was coming under increasing pressure to end their investments in tar sands extraction, and on December 22nd of 2010 RAN announced an end to the campaign to force RBC to divest from tar sands production, citing a ‘victory’ when RBC announced their intentions to use Free Prior and Informed Consent [FPIC] in evaluating future investments in energy and related projects.
FPIC means many things, but the core component of the concept is the ‘right to say no’ to development on the part of an affected community. RBC uses many words to describe how they interpret FPIC– but the absolute right of a veto is nowhere in their description. “The policy also recognizes the importance of community relations, and in particular aboriginal community relations, in operating and growing a business, and we look at how our clients consult and meaningfully accommodate these communities,” said Gordon Nixon, the CEO of RBC in their announcement.
This is the same exact language used by the Federal government of Canada: the language of consultation and accommodation, which is different from Free, Prior and Informed Consent. That RBC wants to end the public pressure and remake their image as one of friendly to indigenous and frontline communities is of no surprise– but why would an organization like RAN want to help in this endeavor, and even go so far as to counsel other activists to “lay off for awhile”?1
This question of the impacts of RBC’s new policy was urgent from the get go of the RAN announcement– but is made even more urgent by the recent moves of RBC in Trinidad and Tobago– where the government has recently begun advertising for possible tar sands mining.
(The glossy advertisement from the current Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs for Trinidad and Tobago is available here.)
RBC involvement in Canadian tar sands has not abated, nor has there been any actual commitment to removing any level of investment, but RBC can now publicly state they have been given “applause” from the Rainforest Action Network in Canada. “RBC is raising the bar for the financial sector and signaling to oil and gas corporations that it is time to take environmental and human rights seriously,” said Brant Olson, campaign director of RAN, in a release applauding the policy.
RAN’s involvement in such a climb down has no small implications. Not only have many of the activists opposed to RBC tar sands investment become dormant, confusion about what exactly is Free, Prior and Informed Consent has been sewn. FPIC means the right to say no, something that the communities near tar sands in T&T have already done through social struggle to developments such as smelter plants and steel mills.
In Trinidad and Tobago, it was in 2009 (during the annual Carnival) that then Minister of Energy and Energy affairs Conrad Enil announced that the People’s National Movement [PNM] government would be opening tar sands mining to exploration. Previous work on deposit evaluation came from a joint venture consisting of Canadian based Western Oil Sands alongside T&T’s own Petrotrin in the early 2000s. After Marathon Energy of the US bought out Western Oil Sands the arrangement with Petrotrin was abandoned in 2008.
On February 13 of 2009, Enil announced exploration blocks of pilot projects extracting bitumen for synthetic petroleum production. During the announcement of licenses for the Parrylands and Guapo Field, Enil also stated that T&T was trying to follow the Canadian model, a model that people of all stripes across North America have labelled the most destructive industrial development on earth today.
Having seriously slowed down the campaign against them without divesting a single penny, RBC has moved on to other sources of energy revenue. Having bought the Royal Bank of Trinidad & Tobago [RBTT], RBC recently attended a “Green Business Forum” held by the T&T Environmental Management Authority [EMA] in Port of Spain (the capital of the Twin Island Nation).
RBC sent their “Director of Corporate Environmental Affairs” Sandra Odendahl to the forum, to tout their socially and environmentally responsible policies as potentially large investors in Trinidad and Tobago (one of 58 countries in which RBC operates).
As reported in the T&T Newsday on March 31, 2011 “Now that RBTT is part of the RBC umbrella, Odendahl would like to introduce RBC’s Capital Markets Policy (CMP) to TT, once the integration process has been completed. [….] It was developed after extensive stakeholder consultation, much of it headed by Odendahl, on Canada’s oil sands energy sector.”
The Royal Bank of Canada has received further publicity help from environmental organizations as well, with Odendahl recently appearing on panels held in Canadian cities alongside well-known environmental organizers to ostensibly debate whether bank funding for major industrial developments can be made socially responsible. Given the small attendance at such events, the appearance of environmental organizers along side Ms Odendahl will further help the RBC spokeswoman shore up the image of the bank that only months ago was in dire straits.
In the months right prior to the 2009 announcement around possible tar sands development in Trinidad’s South there was a major turning point in the so-called battle over tar sands in Canada. A campaign was launched by grassroots groups and environmental Non-Governmental Organizations [ENGOs] alike to force the hand of RBC out of their tar sands investments.
The campaign was effective, and RBC took serious hits to their credibility thanks to RAN and grassroots organizers– even going so far as to target the ostensibly green sensibilities of RBC chairman Gordon Nixon’s wife, Janet. In recent months RAN has ended their participation in the activist campaign against the Royal Bank of Canada.
Like Canada, in Trinidad and Tobago companies that wish to develop are required to go through a hearing process with affected communities. In the recent past Trinidad has seen such hearings into a now cancelled plan to construct an aluminium smelter in Southern Trinidad, the same region where bitumen deposits exist at a depth suitable to the energy industry for mining.
From Canada, with neither divestment nor the right to say no established for indigenous and frontline communities, RBC may attempt to start investments in Petrotrin for the development of tar sands in the south of the island. If such were to happen, RBC may try to use such applauded policy at the Trinidadian Environmental Management Authority [EMA].
In environmental struggles against industrial development in Trinidad the Rights Action Group has been front and centre as a part of the resistance. “The EMA said you had to have consultation, but really didn’t define what consultation was. So they would do something and say they had consultation,” said Rights Action Group executive Burton Sankeralli.
Regarding the piecemeal approach to approvals, Sankeralli says that the EMA would give licensees a certificate to clear, and a separate certificate to build, so they can clear without disclosing they will put there. This approach scattered the permitting process. “It would be like you were getting one certificate for the first project you were planning, another certificate for the port, another certificate for the power plant so it was like a jigsaw puzzle,” he said. “There was no overall assessment on cumulative impacts and all that, it was a mess.”
How the EMA holds such hearings would fit RBC fairly well.
“The environmental impact assessment [EIA] is done by a company hired by the corporation or the government agency who want the land cleared or who is putting up the structure. So they do the EIA and they anticipate the ending. And then they do the consultation. With this whole farce of consultations when the decision has been made and no clear things on all these consultations has been done,” said Sankeralli.
According to Attilah Springer, journalist at Gayelle TV in Trinidad,
“There was one extra consultation that happened which the head of the EMA attended. This meeting went on for about four hours and at some point somebody came up and said ‘Can you tell me what I said at 3:05pm?’, then it was discovered that nobody was taking notes. So there was this long meeting going on that was not being properly documented or recorded. At that point people had no more faith in the consultation process and realized that it was completely flawed.”
This breakdown led to more determined resistance to the Smelter outside of the consultation process.
“After the consultation began a new phase, outside the process that started with a replanting of areas cleared for the proposed smelter, in a buffer zone on the edge of the proposed site,” explained Springer. Also important in the resistance was community level cultural activities and gatherings.
“Culture played a huge role in everything that we did and we used a lot of things in our cultural landscape to drive the point home.”
When permits were granted resistance did not stop, but increased. Springer explains in this quote:
“It was soon after that it was announced that the CEC had been granted and that’s when the shit really hit the fan and things went into high gear and there were protests and general wildness that I don’t think it’s appropriate to talk about considering some of the parties involved are still alive.
People would go on the site, you know, and liberate things… a lot of the stuff that happened we didn’t share information on.”
“What started happening was that the government of the day started to accuse some of the more prominent environmental activists of being outsiders, when the case was that these communities had asked for help. Here you had two communities that absolutely and unequivocally said to Hell with Y’all and Hell no.
Nobody was ever convinced that the EMA was concerned with protecting the interests of communities.”
The EMA is now getting ready to help the RBC use their recently applauded “policy” developed around tar sands for effected communities in Trinidad. Despite the retreat of RAN, and the greenwashing of tar sands projects in Canada, perhaps the first victory against tar sands developments will take place in the Caribbean– which would not only protect dwindling water supplies and the forests themselves near La Brea, it may indeed help Canada reverse course on the tar sands gigaproject right from the global ground zero of Alberta, where a global fate tied to locking into the worst fossil fuel developments around the planet has begun to export.
Macdonald Stainsby is a freelance journalist, social justice activist and the coordinator of http://oilsandstruth.org. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org