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Part IV: 350.org’s Friends on Wall Street: The “Climate Wealth Opportunists” – Marketing a Fallacy

By Cory Morningstar

April 23, 2014

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

 

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

 

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

It is somewhat ironic that while anti-REDD climate activists, organizations (legitimate grassroots groups do exist) and self-proclaimed environmentalists – who consider themselves progressive – speak out against the commodification of nature’s natural resources, they also simultaneously promote the divestment campaign. The irony comes from the fact that the divestment campaign will result (succeed) in a colossal injection of money shifting over to the very portfolios heavily invested, 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 “internalizing 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 that 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.

The purpose of this investigative series is to illustrate (indeed, prove) this premise.

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Marketing a Fallacy

 

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It is imperative to understand that the “solutions” being proposed in response to our unparalleled planetary ecological crisis will be only those that have the ability to enhance profits or build brand value, thus increasing revenues/profits. Yet, the fallacy of such “solutions” cannot be understated. The industrialized capitalist system is dependent upon growth. Infinite growth on a finite planet is not possible – a 5-year-old child can understand this fact because it is simple common sense (i.e., he or she would not wish to keep growing forever). Growth is dependent upon destruction of the natural world and exploitation of the world’s most vulnerable people. Violence is inherently built into the system. The idea that a “green economy” under the capitalist system will somehow slow down our accelerating multiple ecological crises and climate change is a delusional fallacy of epic proportion. Ceres allows corporations to continue this delusion and constructs a paradigm that conditions a culture to believe the fallacy.

350.org’s Friends on Wall Street – The “Climate Wealth Opportunists” | Part II of an Investigative Report

Ceres & the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR)

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March 10, 2014

By Cory Morningstar

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

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

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

It is somewhat ironic that while anti-REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) climate activists, organizations (legitimate grassroots organizations do exist) and self-proclaimed environmentalists, who consider themselves progressive, speak out against the commodification of nature’s natural resources, they also simultaneously promote the divestment campaign. The divestment campaign will result (i.e., succeed) in a colossal injection of money shifting over to the very portfolios heavily invested, 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” (Sustainable Capitalism, February 15, 2012, Generation Investment Management LLP). 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 (aka investments) to those most accommodating in the non-profit industrial complex via their 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 populace. (A populace with almost no comprehension of 1. the magnitude of our ecological crisis, 2. the root causes of the planetary crisis, 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.

The purpose of this investigative series is to illustrate (indeed, prove) this premise.

+++

 

INCR_Logo

 “One recent weekday afternoon, three men walked out of the Environmental Defense Fund’s midtown Manhattan office on their way to have lunch together. On the left was EDF’s senior economist. On the right was an environmental expert in the Soviet government. Between them was a businessman, a trader in the nascent enterprise of buying and selling pollution rights. Together that trio forms a picture of how the new environmentalism is shaping up: global, more cooperative than confrontational – and with business at the center.” — ENVIRONMENTALISM: THE NEW CRUSADE, CNNMoney Fortune, February 12, 1990

The present can only be fully understood if one understands the past. Therefore, in order to understand the present day 350.org divestment campaign, we must look at the inception/creation of 350.org’s partner: The Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (Ceres).

Who is Ceres? Ceres is the 21st century puppeteers of Wall Street who, most recently, are pulling the strings behind the 350.org divestment campaign. Ceres represents the very heart of the nexus: millionaire liberals, their foundations, the “activists” they manage, and most importantly, where the plutocrats invest their personal wealth and that of their foundations. [“As a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, Ceres relies on support from foundations, individuals and other funders to achieve our mission to integrate sustainability into day-to-day business practices for the health of the planet and its people.” (Source: Ceres 2010 Annual Report)

On the Ceres Board of Directors we find key NGO affiliations: Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Sierra Club, World Resources Institute, Ecological Solutions Inc. and Green America, to name a few. (The history of the Ceres board of directors is discussed at length, further in this report.)

 “Building climate change risks and opportunities into Wall Street research and analysis is a top Ceres priority.” — Ceres Annual Report 2006

Exxon Valdez: Opportunity Knocks

 “… sceptics of the effectiveness of a voluntary environmental ethics question whether or not the Valdez principles contain more smoke than substance.” — The Valdez Principles. Is it Time to Put Bambi in the Boardroom? California Journal, November 1990

On March 24, 1989, one of the most devastating man-made environmental disasters in Earth’s history, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, shook public confidence in corporate America to the core. This catastrophic event, 5 years after the atrocious man-made disaster in Bhopal, brought corporate misconduct to the forefront. Corporate America found itself in the midst of an unprecedented public relations disaster.

 “…not long after the Exxon Valdez spill, 41% of Americans were angry enough to say they’d consider boycotting the company.” — The Valdez Principles. Is it Time to Put Bambi in the Boardroom? California Journal, November 1990

Within six months of the Exxon disaster, the late Joan Bavaria, then-president of Trillium Asset Management, had formed a coalition that included high profile environmentalists. The Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES) was formed with its 10-point code of conduct in hopes of reigning in corporate power. [Note that in 2003, the organization dropped the CERES acronym and rebranded itself as “Ceres”.] Presented to the public as The Valdez Principles [1] on September 7, 1989, the strategic name brilliantly exploited the Valdez crisis (the Principles are said to have actually been written before the Valdez spill, in 1988) to build its own brand recognition and value. Ceres would be the watchdog and savior, reigning in corporate power and making it behave. Although corporate America was reluctant, due to the growing hostility and resentment from the public it also recognized that this coalition offered a strategy (“a voluntary mechanism of corporate self-governance”) as a means of re-establishing public trust, securing brand reputation and most importantly, protecting profits and power. Its influence was enhanced by the fact that member institutional investors controlled over $150 billion in assets. Yet, the risks did not go unrecognized:

“A new basis for environmentally-related derivative suits may now be emerging. Various social-activist groups are successfully sponsoring shareholder resolutions at many major corporations to mandate greater environmental accountability by the corporations. These resolutions require the implementation of ‘Valdez Principles,’ which call for the corporations to curtail air and water pollution, conserve energy, market safe products, pay for damage caused to the environment, and make regular reports on environmental matters to the shareholders. If directors and officers of corporations which have adopted these Valdez-type resolutions fail to comply with their mandate, derivative suits against the directors and officers are likely to follow.” — ACE Bermuda News, July 1991

Corporate America held out. Ceres eventually buckled. The Valdez Principles became the CERES Principles (a 10-point code of environmental conduct) [2], with the most powerful language watered down and abolished. This was fully understood by Bavaria, who recognized that without the annual public audits in particular (principle #10), the principles would be meaningless. November 1990:

“Joan Bavaria, co-chairperson of CERES, believes that the first 8 principles are meaningless without the tenth principle allowing public accountability. The difference between having the company develop their own principles, then monitoring them internally is like putting a fox in the chicken house.” — The Valdez Principles. Is it Time to Put Bambi in the Boardroom? California Journal, November 1990

In the meantime, environmentalism was changing and becoming big business. The world had embraced Neoliberalism (or had it shoved down their throats by the IMF and World Bank) with a statement of neoliberal aims being codified in the Washington Consensus in 1989. This was to be the means of liberating the market from state intrusion, which would instead serve to shield the expanding corporatocracy. Neoliberalism would prove to be the instrumental tool of choice in what would serve, protect and expand the power of the oligarchy.

From the CNNMoney Fortune article: ENVIRONMENTALISM: THE NEW CRUSADE, February 12, 1990:

“Far fewer activists of the 1990s will be embittered, scruffy, antibusiness street fighters. AS AN EXAMPLE of the new breed, consider Allen Hershkowitz, who freely drops the names of his CEO acquaintances. As a solid-waste-disposal expert at the litigious Natural Resources Defense Council, Hershkowitz has won many legal battles with business. Now high-ranking executives of major companies regularly make the pilgrimage to his office in the elegant, airy, and amply funded New York City headquarters of NRDC, coming to him lest he go after them. As he explains, ‘They come in here to see what they’ve got to cover their asses on. ‘The cocky 34-year-old Ph.D., who serves as an adviser to banks and Shearson Lehman Hutton, among others, elaborates, ‘My primary motivation is environmental protection. And if it costs more, so be it. If Procter & Gamble can’t live with that, somebody else will. But I’ll tell you, Procter & Gamble is trying hard to live with it. ‘Still, for all his militancy, Hershkowitz is no fanatic or utopian. He understands that a perfect world can’t be achieved and doesn’t hesitate to talk of trade-offs: ‘Hey, civilization has its costs. We’re trying to reduce them, but we can’t eliminate them.’ Environmentalists of this stripe will increasingly show up even within companies. William Bishop, Procter & Gamble’s top environmental scientist, was an organizer of Earth Day in 1970 and is a member of the Sierra Club. One of his chief deputies belongs to Greenpeace. Eager to work with business, many environmentalists are moving from confrontation to the best kind of collaboration. In September an ad hoc combination of institutional investors controlling $150 billion of assets (including representatives of public pension funds) and environmental groups promulgated the Valdez Principles, named for the year’s most catalytic environmental accident. The principles ask companies to reduce waste, use resources prudently, market safe products, and take responsibility for past harm. They also call for an environmentalist on each corporate board and an annual public audit of a company’s environmental progress. The group asked corporations to subscribe to the principles, with the implicit suggestion that investments could eventually be contingent on compliance. Companies already engaged in friendly discussions included DuPont, specialty-chemical maker H.B. Fuller, and Polaroid, among others. Earth Day 1990, scheduled for April 22, the 20th anniversary of the first such event, is becoming a veritable biz-fest. ‘We’re really interested in working with companies that have a good record,’ says Earth Day Chairman Denis Hayes, who predicts that 100 million people will take part one way or another. Apple Computer and Hewlett-Packard have donated equipment. Shaklee, the personal and household products company, paid $50,000 to be the first official corporate sponsor. Even the Chemical Manufacturers Association is getting in on the act, preparing a list of 101 ways its members can participate. The more than 1,000 Earth Day affiliate groups in 120 countries propose to shake up politicians worldwide and launch a decade of activism. THE MESSAGE that leading environmentalists are sending, and progressive companies are receiving, is that eco-responsibility will be good for business. Says Gray Davis, California’s state controller, who helped draft the Valdez Principles and who sits on the boards of two public pension funds with total assets of $90 billion: ‘Given the increasing regulation and public concern, there’s no question that companies will eventually have to change their ways. The first kid on the block to embrace these principles will increase market share and profit substantially.'”

The primary NGOs involved in the Valdez Principles from inception were the Sierra Club, The National Audubon Society and the National Wildlife Federation. The necessity of the “environmental movement” as the face and foundation of Ceres cannot be understated. In 1989 it was well understood by all players that NGOs were very much perceived as legitimate in the eyes of the public. The non-profit industrial complex was perhaps the only entity in the position of lending the much needed legitimacy and credibility that could mollify the public and allow the corporate world to continue their raping and pillaging, unregulated, under voluntary compliance. And while there is little doubt that well-intentioned individuals with sincere intentions were present in the formation of Ceres (as the corporate watchdog), many such “activists” will never admit to themselves that they are enablers of the very systems collectively destroying us. There is no acceptable excuse for such lack of judgement and foresight – for if it is ignorance, it is willful. Privilege has a convenient way of convincing one’s self to be blind.

“The New York Times/CBS News poll regularly asks the public if ‘protecting the environment is so important that requirements and standards cannot be too high, and continuing environmental improvements must be made regardless of cost.’ In September 1981, 45% agreed and 42% disagreed with that plainly intemperate statement. Last June, 79% agreed and only 18% disagreed. For the first time, liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, profess concern for the environment in roughly equal numbers.” ENVIRONMENTALISM: THE NEW CRUSADE, CNNMoney Fortune, February 12, 1990

The Valdez Principles, which morphed into the completely watered down Ceres Principles, became the perfect antidote to appease an outraged populace. Corporations could breathe a sigh of relief for a continued voluntary system of corporate self governance – freshly laundered in a light green wash. At a time when public support for environmental protection was unprecedented, restrictive federal regulation power would be avoided. Corporate supremacy would continue apace.

CERES: Clearing House for the Institutionalization of Private Governance

 “It is high time that myths were called what they are. They are stories which may help explain our feelings but they are stories nonetheless and they do us no good.” — Margaret Kimberley

The CERES “Sustainable Governance Project” (SGP) was officially announced to the public in Washington, DC, 2002. The non-profit industrial complex was and continues to be an instrumental tool in building public acceptance for expansion of neoliberal policies. Hence a key focus of SGP in 2001 (prior to the official launch) was “expanding collaboration with climate change experts at groups such as The National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Redefining Progress, Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, World Wildlife Fund, and many others.” (Source: 2001 Annual Report) Jump forward to 2013 and the Ceres network includes over 130 NGOs.

Today, Ceres serves as the underwriter and clearinghouse for the institutionalization of private governance. Such transformation is now well under way and evolving as witnessed under the guise of the “green economy.” Such strategy is calculated and requires tactical execution. For such transformation to be successful, key critical elements must coalesce: the real or perceived (manufactured/purposeful) decline of public regulatory power; the appearance of “civil society” (self-appointed NGOs) to emanate a patina of legitimacy, credibility and trust; the perception of “caring” corporations (see “Who Cares Wins“); and lastly, media to disseminate the compiled elements in endless waves. When these elements coalesce seamlessly, fertile ground is laid for private regulatory institutions to emerge. By stressing the “risks” (i.e. water scarcity, crumbling infrastructure, etc.) Ceres successfully lays the groundwork for corporate takeover of goods, services and now ecosystems.

The Ceres Network Companies (the first pillar) make up the crème de le crème (approx. 70 corporations) of the corporate world. Examples include Citi, Bloomberg, Coca-Cola, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Suncor and Virgin. The Ceres Coalition (the second pillar) is comprised of more than 130 institutional investors, environmental and “social advocacy” groups, and public interest organizations. Examples of coalition members are Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, Rockefeller Financial Asset Management, NRDC, World Wildlife Fund, Rainforest Action Network, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) (a founder of Avaaz) and The Carbon Neutral Company.

 

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Leadership Circle

Image above: Just a few of the 2009 and 2013 Ceres Conference Sponsors.

The Ceres Coalition represents: the Ceres Network Companies, Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR) (publicly launched in November 2003 at the first Institutional Investor Summit on Climate Risk held at the United Nations) and Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP: a coalition of more than 20 leading consumer brand corporations.) [Ceres Membership Requirements] [3]

“Ceres is a national network of over [130*] investors, environmental organizations and other public interest groups working with companies and the capital markets to address sustainability challenges such as global climate change. Coalition members serve on our board of directors, participate on company stakeholder teams and engage with the Wall Street community to incorporate social and environmental costs into their research practices. More than [100*] companies worldwide, many of them Fortune 500 firms, make up the Ceres Network of Companies.” [4] [*Updated to reflect current status]

The network of Ceres companies represents a broad range of corporate interests, including oil and gas, electric utilities, and financial services. More than one-third of the company members are in the Fortune 500. Members include McDonalds Corporations, Bank of America Corporation, PG&E Corporation, Citi Bank, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Nike, PepsiCo, Suncor, Sunoco, Coca-Cola, Walt Disney, Virgin America, and Time Warner, to name just a few. Ceres has close ties with high-level leaders at the New York Stock Exchange, United Nations, World Economic Forum, Clinton Global Initiative, American Accounting Association, the American Bar Association and many of the world’s most powerful corporations. The forté of Ceres is briefing/advising powerful corporate boards, from Nike to American Electric Power, on risk and opportunity.

In addition to working with investors in the Ceres Coalition, Ceres directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR):

“INCR members, whose collective assets total about $[11*] trillion, include many of the world’s largest pension funds and asset managers.” [*Updated to reflect current status]

INCR has grown from 10 institutional investors managing $600 billion (2003) to 100 institutional investors managing more than $11 trillion in assets (2012).

In 1997 CERES launched the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), now the de facto international standard for corporate voluntary sustainability reporting implemented by more than 1,800 corporations worldwide.

Benefits for corporations adopting GRI “standards” included/include guideline tools for “brand and reputation enhancement, differentiation in the marketplace and protection from brand erosion resulting from the actions of suppliers or competitors, networking and communications.” [Source] Since releasing its first Reporting Guidelines in 2000, its global network has grown to more than 600 organizational stakeholders and over 30,000 people representing different sectors and constituencies. GRI has also developed key strategic partnerships with the United Nations Environment Programme, the UN Global Compact, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the International Organization for Standardization. [Source]

Mindy Lubber is the president of Ceres (2012) and a founding board member of the organization. She also directs Ceres’ INCR. Mindy Lubber’s blog “Sustainable Capitalism” is integrated with Forbes. Lubber is a contributing blogger for Huffington Post (acquired by Time Warner in 2011) and Forbes. Lubber has been honored by the United Nations as one of the “World’s Top Leaders of Change.” (Other award winners were the corporations Coca-Cola, Nike, Walmart and Reebok). Lubber was named one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Corporate Governance” by Directorship magazine and is a recipient of the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.

Skeletons (and Skolls) in the Ceres/1Sky Closet

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Photo [Source: Skoll Foundation]: Green capitalist Al Gore with (left to right) Chris Fox of Ceres, Gillian Caldwell of 1Sky (350.org officially merged with 1Sky in 2011), Sally Osberg of the Skoll Foundation and Alessandro Galli of Global Footprint Network.

In 2009, 1Sky’s campaign director, Gillian Caldwell, a lawyer by training, was paid $203,620 (US) through the Rockefeller Family Fund. Although McKibben often refers to 350.org/1Sky as a “scruffy little outfit” – a salary of more than $200,000 is hardly typical of a legitimate grassroots organization.

In the Dec 3, 2009 article Prepping for Copenhagen as found on the Skoll Foundation website, the author reports, “The Skoll Foundation, along with a number of Skoll social entrepreneurs and partners, will be participating in the Copenhagen meetings on climate change later this month. Reflecting the high caliber of environmental leaders in the Skoll portfolio, some 10 Skoll social entrepreneurs and/or their organizations will be at Copenhagen: ACORE, Amazon Conservation Team, BioRegional Development Group, Ceres, EcoPeace/Friends of the Earth Middle East, Fundacion Gaia, Global Footprint Network, Health Care Without Harm, IDE-India, and Gillian Caldwell (formerly of Witness), representing 1Sky.” [Emphasis added.]

In the December 15, 2009 article More from the Ground in Copenhagen, also featured on the Skoll Foundation website, Skoll CEO Sally Osberg reports:

 Just a couple of highlights from the Climate Leaders’ Summit: Leadership on climate change – both moral and real – is coming from the sub-nation state levels and small countries.

What Osberg neglects to report is the fact that these very states were deliberately and grossly undermined by the non-profit industrial complex, with corporate TckTckTck, 350.org(1Sky) and Avaaz at the helm of the elitist fifth column. [Further reading: The Most Important COP Briefing That No One Ever Heard | Truth, Lies, Racism & Omnicide | Who Really Leads on the Environment? The “Movement” Versus Evo Morales]

 Who Cares Wins

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 “To address the tough environmental and social issues facing global corporations today, we need to hear from a diverse group of stakeholders who challenge us to innovate and operate in a sustainable manner. No one has access to such a vast network of valuable, independent input as Ceres.” — Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo

It is clear why branded agencies such as 350.org, SumofUs, Avaaz et al, who dominate social media, are heavily financed (and in many cases were created by) the oligarchs. Who Cares Wins – The Rise of the Caring Corporation, by David Jones, founder of One Young World, (recently a featured speaker at the 2013 World Form on Natural Capital), makes the case that “social media and corporate social responsibility are not two separate subjects; rather, they are intrinsically interlinked. Businesses that embrace the new rules are set to both make more money and become forces for good in the world.”

“Grow Through Karma Off-Setting: Consumers will actively buy from companies who are good, so they feel that they themselves don’t have to personally undertake social projects, as they have done good by making their purchase with you. Good brands provide a moral alibi for buying.” — Who Cares Wins – The Rise of the Caring Corporation, by David Jones, Global Chief Executive, Havas Worldwide, Creator of the “TckTckTck” campaign and Co-founder of One Young World.

Those born into today’s “young world” are indiscriminately lusted after and seduced by predatory marketing agencies bankrolled by the world’s most powerful corporations and oligarchs, via their foundations. Thus, in stealth synchronicity, the brilliant (albeit pathological) sycophants have created a world where corporate pedophilia runs rampant and indoctrination of youth is perfected and normalized. One cannot deny such a virtuoso performance. Nor can one deny the profound repercussions of such vulturesque exploitation. For adults who willingly offer up their children as sacrificial lambs to appease the corporate gods, denial must be considered the preferred opium of the 21st century.

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The name of the game is this: Corporations present themselves as humble and caring elements integral to society with a fierce determination to “do better.” Rather than refusing to comply with ethical environmental and social conduct, which only serves to tarnish brand image, the corporations embrace and welcome all criticisms. This stratagem is made even more effective when CEOs unabashedly take the first opportunity in any given situation to point out the harmful impacts of their industry, articulated with deep concern, followed by a laundry list of all the magnificent things the corporation is looking at for the future that they believe will alleviate environmental degradation and unbridled exploitation.

 

 [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 GreenThe Art of AnnihilationPolitical ContextCounterpunch,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.]

 

Endnotes:

[1] The Valdez Principles: In September 1989, the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies set forth the following ten broad principles for evaluating corporate activities that directly or indirectly affect the biosphere.

1. Protection of the Biosphere

We will minimize and strive to eliminate the release of any pollutant that may cause environmental damage to air, water, or earth or its inhabitants. We will safeguard habitats in rivers, lakes, wetlands, coastal zones and oceans and will minimize contributing to global warming, depletion of the ozone layer, acid rain or smog.

2. Sustainable Use of Natural Resources

We will make sustainable use of renewable resources, such as water, soils and forests. We will conserve nonrenewable natural resources through efficient use and careful planning. We will protect wildlife habitat, open spaces and wilderness, while preserving biodiversity.

3. Reduction and Disposal of Waste

We will minimize the creation of waste, especially hazardous waste, and wherever possible recycle materials. We will dispose of all wastes through safe and responsible methods.

4. Wise Use of Energy

We will make every effort to use environmentally safe and sustainable energy sources to meet our needs. We will invest in improved energy efficiency and conservation in our operations. We will maximize the energy efficiency of products we produce or sell.

5. Risk Reduction

We will minimize the environmental, health and safety risks to our employees and the communities in which we operate by employing safe technologies and operating procedures and by being constantly prepared for emergencies.

6. Marketing of Safe Products and Services

We will sell products or services that minimize adverse environmental impacts and that are safe as consumers commonly use them. We will inform consumers of the environmental impacts of our products or services.

7. Damage Compensation

We will take responsibility for any harm we cause to the environment by making every effort to fully restore the environment and to compensate those persons who are adversely affected.

8. Disclosure

We will disclose to our employees and to the public incidents relating to our operations that cause environmental harm or pose health or safety hazards. We will disclose potential environmental, health or safety hazards posed by our operations, and we will not take any action against employees who report any condition that creates a danger to the environment or poses health and safety hazards.

9. Environmental Directors and Managers

At least one member of the Board of Directors will be a person qualified to represent environmental interests. We will commit management resources to implement these Principles, including the funding of an office of vice president for environmental affairs or an equivalent executive position, reporting directly to the CEO, to monitor and report upon our implementation efforts.

10. Assessment and Annual Audit

We will conduct and make public an annual self-evaluation of our progress in implementing these Principles and in complying with all applicable laws and regulations throughout our worldwide operations. We will work toward the timely creation of independent environmental audit procedures which we will complete annually and make available to the public.

[Source: A New Agenda for Managers, The Challenge of Sustainability]

[2] Ceres Principles:

1. PROTECTION OF THE BIOSPHERE: We will reduce and make continual progress toward eliminating the release of any substance that may cause environmental damage to the air, water, or the earth or its inhabitants. We will safeguard all habitats affected by our operations and will protect open spaces and wilderness, while preserving biodiversity.

2. SUSTAINABLE USE OF NATURAL RESOURCES: We will make sustainable use of renewable natural resources, such as water, soils and forests. We will conserve non-renewable natural resources through efficient use and careful planning.

3. REDUCTION AND DISPOSAL OF WASTES: We will reduce and where possible eliminate waste through source reduction and recycling. All waste will be handled and disposed of through safe and responsible methods.

4. ENERGY CONSERVATION: We will conserve energy and improve the energy efficiency of our internal operations and of the goods and services we sell. We will make every effort to use environmentally safe and sustainable energy sources.

5. RISK REDUCTION: We will strive to minimize the environmental, health and safety risks to our employees and the communities in which we operate through safe technologies, facilities and operating procedures, and by being prepared for emergencies.

6. SAFE PRODUCTS AND SERVICES: We will reduce and where possible eliminate the use, manufacture or sale of products and services that cause environmental damage or health or safety hazards. We will inform our customers of the environmental impacts of our products or services and try to correct unsafe use.

7. ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION: We will promptly and responsibly correct conditions we have caused that endanger health, safety or the environment. To the extent feasible, we will redress injuries we have caused to persons or damage we have caused to the environment and will restore the environment.

8. INFORMING THE PUBLIC: We will inform in a timely manner everyone who may be affected by conditions caused by our company that might endanger health, safety or the environment. We will regularly seek advice and counsel through dialogue with persons in communities near our facilities. We will not take any action against employees for reporting dangerous incidents or conditions to management or to appropriate authorities.

9. MANAGEMENT COMMITMENT: We will implement these Principles and sustain a process that ensures that the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer are fully informed about pertinent environmental issues and are fully responsible for environmental policy. In selecting our Board of Directors, we will consider demonstrated environmental commitment as a factor.

10. AUDITS AND REPORTS: We will support the timely creation of generally accepted environmental audit procedures. We will annually complete the CERES Report, which will be made available to the public.

[3] [Ceres Membership Requirements: All coalition members must be approved by the Ceres Board of Directors. All coalition members pay annual membership dues that are scaled from $50 to $2,000, depending upon the size and type (non-profit, grant making, or investment firm) of the organization. Coalition members are also strongly encouraged to participate in Ceres’ engagement work, including through our multi-stakeholder dialogue processes, investor engagements and other opportunities.] “The primary direct costs of endorsing the CERES Principles are the payment of annual dues and the completion of the annual CERES report form. The dues for a company differ according to the size of the company, but, for a large multinational corporation, are usually in the range of $50,000 dollars a year. The costs associated with dues are not prohibitive considering the size and the budget of the companies.” [Source.]

[4] “Once companies officially join Ceres, they gain access to exclusive benefits, such as a customized stakeholder advisory team that provides advice on sustainability reporting, strategy, policies and specific initiatives.”

#100% KXL BS | Down the Pipeline Rabbit Hole

Bakken Oil Shale Bomb

Counterpunch

Feb 7-9, 2014

by MICHAEL DONNELLY

The Washington Post ran an editorial Feb. 5th  about the KXL Pipeline issue and the recent State Department study that concluded  that building the northern link Keystone XL, which would run across the Canadian border to Steele City, Nebraska, “is unlikely to have significant effects on climate-change-causing greenhouse gas emissions.”

The WA Post critique had this to say: “Environmentalists try to justify their opposition to Keystone XL with a series of unlikely assumptions. If world oil prices end up significantly lower than projected for a long time, and if the Canadian government proves incapable of establishing any pipeline and sea routes out of the country, and if the price of rail transport remains as high as the State Department’s generous projections, then some tar sands extraction projects wouldn’t be economically viable. Advocates also contend that the passionate movement against the pipeline can be useful to achieve more consequential ends and therefore should be supported, as though cultivating irrational thinking is an acceptable basis for public policy. Neither view — one unconvincing, one cynical — reflects well on the country’s environmentalists.”

KXL BULLSHIT

Immediately, such truths caused the ineffective NGOs that are on the “Stop KXL” foundation dole to freak out and they started sending the editorial around – over and over – with comments as to its being “horrid,” “terrible,” and how they “hate it”…No refutation on the facts was presented, nor possible.

Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse – Part III | Beholden to Buffett

Counterpunch

October 25, 2013

By Cory Morningstar

[Further Reading: Part I | Part II]

Manufacturing Discourse

“North America’s major freight railroads are in the midst of a building boom unlike anything since the industry’s Gilded Age heyday in the 19th century.” – The Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2013

 

“U.S. Refiners Don’t Care if Keystone Gets Built” – The Wall Street Journal, September 5, 2013

The following article is the third installment of an investigative report that demonstrates why billions of dollars are pumped into the non-profit industrial complex by corporate interests, effectively to manufacture discourse in order to protect the ruling classes from systemic change. The first installment outlined the key players: Barack Obama, Hillary and Bill Clinton, Warren Buffett, the Rockefeller family, Bill Gates, and Bill Ackman. The key instruments employed by the state and the oligarchs were/are a cluster of foundation-financed NGOs. These included/include Greenpeace, Sierra Club, NRDC and others, with 350.org/1Sky at the helm leading the cunning and strategic discourse.

“The biggest mystery about the Keystone XL pipeline is why its final stage hasn’t already been approved by the Obama administration…. From following the contentious Keystone pipeline debate, you can be forgiven if you think that the fight is over whether to build it. That’s not quite right. The Keystone system has already been transporting oil sands from Canada to U.S. refineries in the Midwest for three years – with no major leaks.” — USA Today, September 5, 2013

All (Rail) Roads Lead to Profit

“BNSF is the largest U.S. crude hauler, transporting more than one-third of the Bakken production alone with 85,000 barrel capacity unit trains. The company reports that crude and petroleum car loadings are up 60 percent through June. BNSF CEO Matt Rose said that the road is ‘seeing strong double-digit type growth’ in the shale fracking markets. ‘Everything to do with drilling, horizontal drilling, frack sand, pipe, oil – it’s phenomenal.'” —Keystone and the Buffet Rule, August 20, 2012

Warren Buffett | Berkshire Hathaway

As reported in the first installment of this report, on November 3, 2009, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway would purchase BNSF for $44 billion. The acquisition, approved by both boards of both corporations was approved by BNSF shareholders on February 12, 2010.

BNSF061910Q-Copy 

Galesburg Yard just two tracks from the just-arrived loaded oil train. See photo below (loads at left, empties at right). June 19, 2010: Midwestern Crude Oil Moving In Unit Trains Again

Financing the Big Greens Tar Sands Campaign: The Tides Foundation

“Philanthropy, we are told, is to replace the welfare state: instead of attempting to redistribute wealth via taxation and democratic planning, austerity politicians are in the process of dispatching with what they view as an irritating relic of working class history. In its place we are informed that we should rely upon the charity of the greediest and most exploitative subset of society, our country’s leading capitalists. A group of individuals whose psychological temperament is better described as psychopathic rather than altruistic.” — Joel Bakan, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power

Sadly, the far-right is far more interested than the “progressive greens,” and climate justice activists themselves, in the motives behind U.S. foundations funnelling millions of dollars in funding to further promote all energies and focus on the Tar Sands campaign: a campaign that concentrates almost exclusively on the Keystone extension while oil via rail, expedited pipeline projects and fracking continues to skyrocket. The far-right has taken note. Finance/markets and investors have certainly taken note. The only crowd that seems most disinterested in understanding, let alone acknowledging, the millions of dollars being funneled into this campaign are the organizations/activists beholden to 350.org et al – who are in turn, beholden to their funders.

November 8, 2012, Globe & Mail video: Canada’s Pipelines: Beyond Gateway and Keystone (Running time: 2:08 minutes)

“There’s a part of this story you likely don’t know, and people like Bill McKibben – as well as Canadian public figure Tzeporah Berman (who runs an outfit that legally exists as a project of the Tides Foundation called the North American Tar Sands Coalition, a secret outfit that determines both strategy and funding for literally dozens of environmental NGO’s and community groups across North America) – would prefer it stays that way.” — Macdonald Stainsby, Oil Sands Truth

350.org FundingNote: Dirty Oil Sands is now Tar Sands Solutions Network. Graph Source [1]

If we revisit Part I of this investigative report, the condensed timeline may assist in establishing why we see the funding increasingly markedly after 2007.

·       June 25, 2006: Buffett pledged to donate most of his wealth to the foundation established by Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda Gates, as well as other “philanthropic” organizations.

·       2007: 1Sky (which would officially merge with 350.org in April of 2011) is created by the Clinton and Rockefeller foundations in collaboration with “progressive greens.”

·       2007: Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway begins to acquire the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad stock.

·       2007: 60% of Marmon Holdings (Union Tank Car Co.) was acquired by Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, with the remaining 40% to be acquired in the next five to seven years.

·       Feb 7, 2008: Financial Post quoting Warren Buffett: “The tar sands are probably as big a potential source of production 15 to 20 years from now. It would surprise me if the world wasn’t wanting to use 200 million barrels per day [of oil] in 15 or 20 years. The tar sands are the biggest single possibility to fill the gap that, it looks like, will otherwise develop in the next decade or two.”

·       2007-2008, Warren Buffett: advisor to Barack Obama and major financial backer/supporter of Hilary Clinton [Sources:  Aug 16, 2007, June 27, 2007, March 28, 2008, Dec 9, 2007, May 19, 2008, July 3, 2008, July 19, 2011]

·       Aug 19, 2008: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates make a quiet visit to the Alberta tar sands.

·       Railway Magazine Nov 2008: Burlington’s Manager of Businesses Development, Jane Halvorson, identified an “opportunity to offer rail service as an alternative to pipelines to get the bitumen blend to the refineries.” Depending, she added, on “partnerships with the Canadian railroads.”

·       Cont’d, Nov/Dec 2008: BNSF document: “Alberta oil sands: No sour deal.”

·       Sept 19, 2008: TransCanada submits application to State Department for a Presidential Permit for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The State Department commences the environmental review process.

·       Feb 2009: Thousands of citizens, including many who live along the pipeline route, express to the State Department serious concerns about the proposal in public hearings and in written comments.

·       April 9, 2009: Game-changer: Canadian oil sands will bypass U.S. for Asia

·       April 11, 2009: CN idea a winner for oil sands

·       August 2009: U.S. State Department approves the Enbridge’s Alberta Clipper Pipeline, a key tar sands pipeline. 350.org et al are silent.

·       Nov 3, 2009: Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway proposes to purchase BNSF Railway as a wholly owned subsidiary for $44 billion in the largest deal in Berkshire history. As of June 2009, Berkshire Hathaway was the 18th largest corporation on Earth.

·       Feb 4, 2010: 86 U.S. organizations call on President Obama to reject the Keystone pipeline extension.

Tides Tar Sands Campaign Funding[2]

Deception

Number One Financier of the Tides Foundation: Buffett’s NoVo Foundation

Clinton & BuffettsPhoto: Peter and Julie Buffett with former U.S. president, Bill Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative. What the environmental “movement” does not wish to acknowledge is the fact that the Clintons were integral to the creation of 1Sky (1Sky/350.org) as were the Rockefellers. In the Rockefeller Family Fund 2007 annual report, it is clear that 1Sky is an actual Rockefeller-initiated NGO. Such incubator projects are common within powerful foundations, although the public has little knowledge of such practices.

Peter Buffett, musician and youngest son of investor, Warren Buffett, along with his spouse (who serves as president), are the founders and co-chairs of the NoVo Foundation. NoVo was created in 2006 after Warren Buffett pledged to donate 350,000 shares of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. stock to the foundation (value approximately U.S. $2.5 billion). [Source] As the charts below demonstrate, NoVo Foundation is (as of 2011), the top donor to Tides in the timeframe outlined. [Source: [3][4] Prior to being unveiled as NoVo, Peter Buffett’s foundation was recognized as The Spirit Foundation which was established in 1999 (#EI-0824753).

Ten Top Donors to Tides[3]

NoVo Grants to Tides[4]

McKibben, Peter Buffett & the Green Bourgeois

“The conference will also include a major public address on Friday evening by the noted climate change leader, Bill McKibben, the founder of 350.org, as well as a Saturday concert by the talented musician Peter Buffett, author of Life is What You Make It: Find Your Own Path to Fulfillment and son of investor legend Warren Buffett.” — Strategies for a New Economy Conference, New Economics Institute press release, May 7, 2012

The expression/noun, elitism, fits seamlessly, like a velvet glove, within the context of the above statement.

elitism — n

1.a. the belief that society should be governed by a select group of gifted and highly educated individuals

b. such government

2. pride in or awareness of being one of an elite group

“In this paradoxical, nightmare-like scenario, where ruling class criminals throw back pennies and moral judgements to those whose lives they have destroyed in the name of capitalism, we begin to see the true meaning of capitalist charity.” — Michael Barker

Bill McKibben and Peter Buffet headlined the weekend conference (Strategies for a New Economy Conference). The entire press release reads like a list of “who’s who” in the world of elitist, classist, green bourgeoisie. The relationship between McKibben, the Ceres affiliates and the oligarchs they serve is laid bare for all to see, with Bill McKibben featured with Warren Buffett’s son, Peter Buffett. Let us be clear, neither the Ceres “society” nor Bob Massie chose Buffett’s name from a hat nor did Buffett fall from the (1)Sky. These are extremely interconnected, well-established relationships with strong alliances and loyalties bound together by privilege, philanthropy, and whiteness.

Buffet’s Top Holdings | Media, Water, Lithium, Agriculture

In 2008, Buffett invested $230 million to acquire 10% of BYD Company, which operates a subsidiary of electric automobile manufacturer, BYD Auto. In less than one year, the investment returned a 500% profit. Indispensable to this electric auto industry is lithium, hence it is no surprise to identify a BYD subsidiary (BYD Lithium Battery Co.) that focuses exclusively on lithium batteries. This is of significant importance since the anti-imperialist sovereign state of Bolivia holds 50% to 70% of the world’s lithium reserves. President Evo Morales has vowed repeatedly that, after being oppressed and exploited by foreign interests for centuries, Bolivia will “never cede control” of its lithium reserves. In late 2011, anti-REDD Bolivia rose above what many would cite as an attempted destabilization that was strategically led by U.S. (and pro-REDD) NGOs: Avaaz, Amazon Watch and Democracy Centre. [REDD: A United Nations Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation via carbon markets. REDD has been cited as a new form of colonialism by Indigenous peoples throughout the world. According to The New York Times, in 2011 alone, over 22,000 farmers with land deeds were violently evicted for a REDD-type project in Uganda. Eight-year old Friday Mukamperezida was killed when his home was burned to the ground. The state of Bolivia’s alternative proposal, ignored by NGOs, can be found here.]

In 2012, Buffett acquired Media General, owner of 63 newspapers in the south-eastern United States. This purchase represented the second media purchase by Buffett in one year. Buffet continued media acquisitions into 2013. It is also critical to note that Buffett joined his close friend and confidant, Bill Gates (the number one shareholder in CN Rail), in investing heavily in Deere & Companythe globe’s largest manufacturer of farm equipment.Gates, who became the largest shareholder in Deere in August of 2011, has been actively pumping millions of dollars into GMO research via his foundation as well as owning shares in Monsanto. [The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation purchased 500,000 shares in Monsanto in 2010. The shares are valued at more than $23 million. On July 15, 2012, the UK Daily Mail reports: “British scientists have won a £6.4million grant from Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates to develop genetically modified crops. The Gates Foundation’s donation is one of the largest single investments to the GM project in the UK.”] The interest in industrialized farming-related stocks shared by both Gates and Buffett (and facilitated by the World Bank and Wall Street) perhaps signal the accelerating land grabs as leading GHG-emitting states and corporations attempt to secure/steal agricultural lands and limited natural resources for a growing population on a decimated planet.

BNSF & IBM to Profit Billions on Water Treatment

The North American Indigenous Peoples Caucus (NAIPC) met on March 1, 2 and 3, 2013 in the traditional territory of the Kumeyaay Nation. The meeting was attended by approximately 97 representatives from 54 Indigenous Peoples’ Nations and organizations.

In the final hours of the meeting, delegates presenting and participating reviewed a draft report of the meeting, made amendments from the floor, and the amended draft report was adopted by consensus. The following text is taken from the full report of the NAIPC, which was formally transmitted to the UNPFII Secretariat for inclusion as an official document for the upcoming UNPFII-12, and to other bodies and fora, as needed. [Decisions and Recommendations of the North American Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus to the 12th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and to other bodies and fora, as appropriate] [Emphasis in original document.]

·         The NAIPC recommends that the Outcome Document acknowledge water as a critical element for cultural, physical, and spiritual survival.

·         The NAIPC recommends that the Outcome Document take a position against Aquacide: the killing of the waters by dams, diversions, privatization, deprivations, extractive industrial and mega-agricultural developments, hydraulic-fracturing, toxins, and pollution, and other ways that inhibit or preclude Water’s ability to nurture and support Life. This includes working to immediately halt Aquicide by all forms of exploitation, commodification, and other assaults that impede or destroy the life giving quality of Water.

In stark contrast to such demonstrated wisdom and intelligence, the privileged Euro-American patriarchal male tends to not think in terms of respect for our Earth and shared environment that graciously sustains all life….

“When you start to think like we think, you don’t see water in the pipes. You see dollar signs.” — Eric Berliner, IBM, as quoted in the article, Why GE, Coca-Cola, and IBM are Getting into the Water Business, April 2011

Yet, the stark contrast to wisdom and leadership demonstrated by Indigenous Peoples throughout America and the world, does not limit itself to the privileged Euro-American patriarchal male that dominates the capitalist system. One only has to look at the Tar Sands Solutions Network twitter feed to see who this network (registered to the queen green capitalist, Tzeporah Berman, Forest Ethics) looks to for “leadership” (read from bottom, to view the first chosen/key alliances).

In spite of the rhetoric put forward by Tar Sands Solutions Network claiming “Tar Sands Solutions Network is a growing international network of organizations including First Nations, environmental groups, landowners, farmers, scientists, community leaders, academics, and grass roots groups located throughout North America and Europe,” the facts speak otherwise.

The “solutions” network follows (literally, in all senses of the word) organizations and professional elites that undermine our justice movements from within. The most critical aspect to note is this: Although Indigenous populations are the most impacted by tar sands projects and although Indigenous Peoples have the knowledge and insight to lead us away from global omnicide, there is but one single Indigenous organization being followed by the Tar Sands Solutions Network initial twitter account. (There is one individual Indigenous person – but elitist, groomed, Rockwood Alumni does not truly qualify. No Indigenous, no landowners, no scientists. In order of first added: Pembina Institute, Sierra Club, Dogwood Initiative, Earthworks, Forest Ethics, Friends of the Earth U.S., Greenpeace USA, Honor the Earth, NRDC and RAN with CERES following closely.) On the secondary twitter account, we see a similar pattern (again, from bottom, first chosen, the top big green groups include David Suzuki Foundation, Sierra Club, NRDC, Greenpeace, National Wildlife Federation, Bill McKibben, Centre for Biodiversity, WWF, Climate Reality, 350.org and Nature Conservancy, Greenpeace USA, Conservation International, RAN, WWF, Tzeporah Berman, etc.). The crème de la crème of the big green NGOs and liberal left with not one single Indigenous organization or citizen. [Information on both twitter accounts accessed on September 19, 2013.] Note that Dirty Oil Sands has been rebranded to Tar Sands Solutions Network. It appears that there is no disclosure regarding funding/financing from the Tides Foundation, or any other source, on the site.

Tar sands corporations are licensed to use twice the amount of fresh water than the entire city of Calgary uses in one year. As much as four barrels of fresh water are contaminated for every one barrel of bitumen produced. Toxic fracking chemicals used to leach the last underground pockets of natural gas, necessary to distill the tar sands, are rapidly poisoning the Canadian province of Alberta’s remaining groundwater reserves. [Source]

Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway’s extensive holdings include the corporate entities ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and General Electric – all with close ties to the Alberta tar sands. In the world of capitalism even death and environmental degradation transcend into insurmountable monetary wealth for the world’s leading psychopaths. “General Electric Water & Process Technologies” stands to gain vast amounts of profit by treating immense amounts of fresh water, which is made  toxic/contaminated during the tar sands procurement process. 

“In 2007, GE entered into a $15-million technology development program with the Alberta Water Research Institute and its research funding partners. The program aims to develop technology to improve water reuse and management in in-situ oil sands operations. GE is also actively involved in developing and proving effective technologies for treating tailings water for industrial reuse, in order to help operators improve the efficiency of their operations.” [Source: September 9, 2010 General Electric Press Release]

In addition to its partnership with the Alberta Water Research Institute, GE also owns a water treatment facility in the tar sands patch via its wholly owned subsidiary, Zenon Environmental Inc., which it purchased for $760 million in 2006. Further, in September 2011, Grizzly Oil Sands ULC “selected GE’s (NYSE: GE) produced water evaporation technology for its Algar Lake project near Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada.” [Source]

In 2009, Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, became the largest shareholder in Nalco, a water-services, treatment, and equipment corporation, which has no public profile yet has 12,000 employees and nearly $4 billion in revenue. In late 2011, Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway purchased $10.7 billion of IBM stock. Although this stock has taken a recent hit, one can be assured that this is of no worry to Buffett. Indeed, Buffett is in it for the long haul: “The conventional estimate is that around the world, water is a $400-billion-a-year business. That’s four times the size of IBM’s annual revenue, but that figure includes everything from digging up worn-out water pipes to building billion-dollar desalination plants. IBM says the smart-water market, the information-technology part of water, could be worth between $15 billion and $20 billion a year.” [From the article Why GE, Coca-Cola, and IBM are Getting into the Water Business. Note that Buffett is heavily invested in all 3 corporations, with Coca-Cola and IBM representing Buffett’s top second and third holdings respectively.]

It is of interest that in late 2012 Buffett sold most of his stocks in GE. [Nov 14, 2012, Buffett’s Berkshire Sells Most of J&J and GE Stakes: “The warrants and high interest rates he was able to garner by lending money to General Electric (GE), Bank of America (BAC) and Goldman Sachs (GS) in the depths of the financial crisis are great examples of this investing strategy.”] At this same time Buffett increased his shares in National Oilwell Varco by 47%. National Oilwell Varco is a worldwide leader in providing major mechanical components for land and offshore drilling rigs. As profitable as it is to capitalize on the poisoning/degradation of Earth’s fresh water, it appears the oil industry that destroys the fresh water is too lucrative to not make first priority. 

Rail Tank Car Production

“Amid U.S. Oil Boom, Railroads Are Beating Pipelines in Crude Transport” — Business Week, June 13, 3013

The rail car industry will soon enough finish building the 40,000 oil tankers ordered/required for the tar sands oil. (Growth in crude by rail (CBR) has been rapid, creating a two-year backlog on deliveries of new tank cars.) To accommodate the high pressure loading of the Bakken oil, the oil must be kept thin. For this they need warmers (breakout tanks/oil storage facilities). The specialized heating equipment is used to heat the crude prior to unloading, meaning more crude is shipped and the cost of diluent is saved.

In the September 27, 2013 article A Stronger Network, With More Capacity, How BNSF is leveraging a record $4.3 billion in capital investment, it is reported that “[T]hese capacity improvements will improve service to pipeline operators and short lines, which have built 12 terminals adjacent to BNSF and Canadian Pacific infrastructure in northwestern North Dakota in the past two years, increasing the number of terminals to 16. These terminals are handling crude delivered by truck or pipelines, and according to the North Dakota Pipeline Authority, terminal capacity has increased to 730,000 barrels per day since they were built.” North Dakota produced an average of 821,431 barrels per day in June of 2013. This amount is set to double by 2017.

The average price of a new tank car increased from $74M [thousand] in 2011 to $100M in 2012, increasing to $133M in 2013. The shortage is exacerbated by tank car manufacturers who retain many of the tank cars they produce to lease. Leasing rates in some instances have more than quadrupled to $2,500 a month. The boom is set to continue with approximately 1 MMB/D (Million Barrels per Day) of new rail-unloading capacity being built or planned in the U.S. during 2013, representing three times the current shipping level. [Source]

BNSF announced in September of 2012 that it would be increasing train sizes from 100 to 104 tank cars and in some cases up to 118 tank cars. [Source:BNSFA single tank car carries approximately 660-720 barrels of crude oil. [Source:BNSF] Therefore, 118 tank cars carrying 720 barrels of crude represents 84,960 barrels of oil. Simply put, a mere 10 trains at optimal performance would exceed Keystone XL’s carrying capacity (which is 830,000 barrels per day). On September 4, 2012 BNSF announced that it increased capacity in 2012 to enable the railroad to haul one million barrels per day out of the Williston Basin in North Dakota and Montana.

But the ‘scalability’ of the concept – up to four million barrels per day – means that the railway can ramp up production vastly by just adding rail cars.” — August 21, 2012, Railways ship bitumen to relieve pipeline bottlenecks

Tank cars are owned by either shippers or lessors, not by railroads. At year end Union Tank Car and Procor together owned 97,000 cars having a net book value of $4 billion. A new car, it should be noted, costs upwards of $100,000. Union Tank Car is also a major manufacturer of tank cars – some of them to be sold but most to be owned by it and leased out. Today, its order book extends well into 2014. At both BNSF and Marmon, we are benefitting from the resurgence of U.S. oil production. In fact, our railroad is now transporting about 500,000 barrels of oil daily, roughly 10% of the total produced in the “lower 48″ (i.e. not counting Alaska and offshore). All indications are that BNSF’s oil shipments will grow substantially in coming years.” [Source: Berkshire’s Corporate Performance vs. the S&P 500] [The PROCOR Corporation (Canadian) is the largest tanker owner. The other tanker manufacturers are the GATX and TILX corporations.]

“Investors like Carl Icahn and Warren Buffett have long seen the opportunity coming and are well-positioned in the business…. Mr. Buffett has a controlling stake in Union Tank Car, and has emerged as a major beneficiary of the crude-via-rail boom as the owner of BNSF Railway Co. – one of North America’s largest railway companies. BNSF reportedly earned U.S. $272-million from crude shipments alone in 2012.” — Feb 22, 2013, Demand for tank cars to ship crude oil by rail rises at breakneck speed

“The potential for railway companies to increase its [sic] exposure to the crude oil transportation business can be exponential. The current consensus is that the lack of available tank cars is causing a bottleneck in the crude-by-rail supply chain, while other impediments to growth include the lack of offloading terminals to deliver the product, absence of rail access to origination sites, and the need for coastal refiners to re-configure their plants to be able to process heavier crude that is produced in the U.S. midcontinent.” Jan 18, 2013

“Less than a month ago, Valero said it would own 9,000 rail cars by the end of 2014. That plan already has been revised, as the company will own 12,320 rail cars by the second quarter of 2015, spokesman Bill Day said. The company hasn’t announced its total expenditures to buy rail cars. But Day said Valero will spend about $750 million on the 5,300 cars it has on order now. That’s about $140,000 per rail car.” — Rail picks up steam as a way to move crude, May 27, 2013

Translation: Rail tank cars = $$$. Terminals = $$$. Rail track = $$$ in subsidies. Chemical diluents = $$$. All of the above = planetary ecocide, and slow-scale genocide.

BNSF is set to gain massive profits through building rail tank cars, since one of the only obstacles to the crude-by-rail boom is that the shippers can’t purchase the rail tank cars fast enough. The North American rail tank car manufacturers [Union Tank Car Co., Greenbrier Companies, American Railcar Industries, Inc., FreightCar America Inc., Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corporation, Trinity Industries Inc.]have back orders for 48,000 new rail tank cars through 2014. [Source: Rail Theory Forecasts] When the new rail tank cars emerge into service, North American railroads will have the capacity to ship 2 million barrels of crude oil per day. [5]

The fact that an increasing number of refineries are opting to own or lease these rail tank cars, rather than leaving it to rail corporations, speaks to the anticipated exponential growth. For example, Valero Energy Corp (VLO) announced on January 15, 2013 that they intend to purchase an additional 2,000 railcars, which will bring its current fleet of rail tank cars to 9,000 in order to haul even more of the prolificEagle Ford crudeto its refineries.[Bloomberg, August 22, 2013, Eagle Ford Crude Production Rose 60% in June from Prior Year]. As disclosed in part one of this investigative report, Buffet/Berkshire Hathaway also holds shares in Valero.

“This increasing demand for tank cars means that delivery of tank cars grew significantly in 2012 to approximately 18,000 deliveries, and current backlog suggest[s] more than 23,000 deliveries of tank cars will be completed in 2013. This is in comparison to the less than 10,000 tank car deliveries in 2010 and 2011 and the approximately 20,000 tank cars currently transporting crude oil on railways.” — January 18, 2013, Kapital Wire, 5 Tank Car Manufacturers to Benefit from Crude-by-Rail

One thing is certain: with every gain in profits glorified and celebrated by the industrial capitalists, it is yet another day that our Earth has been savagely plundered for her natural resources – soon, beyond recognition. 

DERAILS

[+++Note from author: The following two paragraphs were written in the spring of 2013, prior to the Lac Mégantic disaster.]

“In 2008, trains carried fewer than 20,000 barrels a day of oil in the United States. But by the end of last year, roughly 500,000 barrels of oil per day moved on the rails. Spills are a key concern.” — The Globe and Mail, July 7, 2013

All pipelines spill. Like 350.org, TransCanada, et al prefer to tell citizens what citizens want to hear. TransCanada predicted the Keystone pipeline would spill once every seven years. However, the reality was that the pipeline spilled 12 times during its first year of production, exceeding 30 spills over its existence. The Keystone XL pipeline will also spill, as rail tank cars spill, and will continue to spill. Corporations could not care less because when they do spill, they will do their best to ensure the taxpayers clean it up. (All while they make billions in unsurpassed profits. All while they continue to access massive subsidies. All while some other states, such as Venezuela, whose governments actually are representative of people, rather than corporations, nationalize their resources. All while other states, already developed – in this instance, a Spanish island – work decade after decade toward a transition from fossil fuels toward zero emissions.) In many, perhaps most, instances, the corporate entity will win(monetarily) and be deemed not responsible for the ecological nightmare.Even when they “lose” by way of a large monetary financial judgement (which is pocket change compared to their quarterly profits), rarely do they ever actually pay any meaningful monetary amounts in the way of settlements. Being the psychopaths that they are, they much prefer to give their money to lawyers rather than the (in many/most cases) impoverished peoples whose lives and land they have completely destroyed beyond repair. Since acquiring former BC Rail lines in 2003 and disconnecting its locomotives’ dynamic engine brakes, CN experienced 11 derailments in 2005 alone. More train wrecks have followed. [Source] Between 1999 and 2010, Enbridge Corp. acknowledged responsibility for 804 spills, releasing at minimum 168,645 barrels of crude oil into integral tributaries, sensitive wetlands and water tables in Canadian and U.S. communities. [Source] Case in point: on March 28, 2013, a mile-long Canadian Pacific Railway train derailed, rupturing three tankers and leaking around 15,000 gallons of fuel. Days later, on April 3, 2013, a Canadian Pacific Railway train derailed in northern Ontario. Two of about 20 derailed cars were carrying light sweet crude but remained contained. LM4

Photo: Welcome to hell. Downtown Lac Mégantic, Quebec, July 6, 2013

“Quebec disaster: Oil shipments by rail have increased 28,000 per cent since 2009″ — CTVNews, July 7, 2013

The relative indestructibility of the oil tanker is the main selling point put forward by the industry. Yet, the horrific oil-by-rail accident in Lac Mégantic, Quebec, Canada, on July 6, 2013, makes this selling “feature” moot. The Lac Mégantic disaster represents the fourth deadliest rail accident in Canadian history, and the deadliest rail tragedy in Canada since the St-Hilaire train disaster in 1864. The catastrophe occurred when an unattended 74-car freight train carrying Bakken formation crude oil ran away and derailed, resulting in the fire and explosion of multiple tank cars, resembling a blazing inferno of hell. Forty-two people have been confirmed dead with 5 more people assumed to have been vaporized by the explosions according to the spokesperson for the Quebec coroner’s office. More than 30 buildings in the town’s centre, roughly half of the downtown area, were completely annihilated. Initial newspaper reports described a 1 km blast radius. This horrific accident – a direct result of oil via rail was of unparalleled magnitude compared to any other recent disaster. Yet this inferno, which demolished an entire downtown core, was barely mentioned by mainstream media as it unfolded. (In one example, CNN did a live broadcast of the airplane accident (Asiana Airlines Flight 214), giving zero coverage to Lac Mégantic. Canadian media, ever so slowly, gave exposure to the nightmarish accident in the days that followed.)

And although 350.org would have you believe they are campaigning against tar sands, what is one to make of the fact that these groups made no mention whatsoever of the apocalyptic remnants of Lac Mégantic to their “followers” / supporters. Aside from an honourable mention to 350Maine, the only reference to the most dreadful accident directly resulting from oil via rail (as of July 22, 2013), is a press release (simply titled “Over fifty groups call for tougher oil transportation safety rules”) quietly sent to media on July 22, 2013.

350SearchResultsLacMeganticJuly272013

Yet, 350’s Canadian counterpart, Leadnow, could not ignore a disaster on such an epic scale. So what did Leadnow instruct their followers to do? Did they demand that the transportation of oil via rail be banned? No, rather they instructed their supporters to:

“Tell Prime Minister Harper and the new Minister of Transport, Lisa Raitt, that you demand an immediate ban on using dangerous 111A tank cars to transport oil, and join the call for a full review of how dangerous fuels like oil and gas are transported through our communities – by train, pipeline, and truck.”

A ban on 111A tank cars (meaning we need new or alternate models of “safe” tank cars)? A full review of “how dangerous fuels like oil and gas are transported through our communities – by train, pipeline, and truck”? After Lac Mégantic, the question must be asked, do we need a “full review” to tell us the horror just witnessed in real life? 

In the meantime, 350.org et al have yet to mention the approval of Keystone’s phase 3 (March 2012) and the construction that is now completed (to be operational in early 2014). [Forbes, Sept 19, 2013: “With three of the four phases of Keystone in operation or nearly complete, only one section remains.”] There is no mention of the consumptive patterns of the West that ensure every drop of oil will find its way to market. 350.org and others campaign strategically and focus on the supply side issues while the demand side is completely ignored.

The Bakken Region

“The battle over pipelines comes as the United States, which imports roughly 1.4 million barrels of crude oil from Alberta every day, is suddenly swamped with its own oil from unconventional sources like the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota. A recent forecast by the International Energy Agency said the U.S. is on track to become the world’s biggest oil producer by 2020, overtaking Saudi Arabia.” — Oil Sands Bust, Macleans, Feb 5, 2013

The anti-Keystone XL campaign “leaders” have ensured that citizens and activists alike will focus almost exclusively on the Keystone pipeline extension, even though it was publicly disclosed, as far back as January 2011, that the majority of the Keystone pipeline was already completed and in operation. If approved, the Keystone XL pipeline will transport 830,000 barrels of Canadian tar sands crude or/and the diluted bitumen (dilbit) from to refineries situated in Port Arthur, Texas, where it will be refined and sold on the global market. Yet omitted is the fact that a large portion of potential oil (approximately 25%) that would flow through the Keystone pipeline would be oil recently discovered (so we are told)in the Bakken shale formation. This formation spans North Dakota and part of Montana– the land of the Lakota Indians. (The same Lakota who are excluded from any meaningful leadership positions/senior advisory roles of the faux environmental groups.) Without the Keystone XL, the only way to get all of the Bakken oil to the refineries is by rail car.

“In another positive sign for the industry, BNSF Railway announced in the first week of September that it plans to expand its crude oil transportation capacity in 2012 to a million barrels per day from the Williston Basin in North Dakota and Montana.” — Sept 18, 2012, Rail Companies in Mad Rush to Meet Demand for Domestic Crude Oil

Oil production in the Bakken region has more than tripled since 2008. [Source: Bloomberg). A 2013 report by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce suggests that oil production in North America is on track to grow at an “incredible rate” of 800,000 barrels per day, per year, through 2016, with more than 50% of production expected to come from the U.S.

Billions upon billions of dollars are being invested in the Bakken oil field (i.e., tar sands oil) yet citizens will not be advised of this fact anywhere, other than perhaps in the finance section of the Wall Street Journal, or the BNSF website itself.

rail-estimate-10-15-2013 

Chart: Estimated rail volumes, August 2013 [Source]

Increasing U.S. oil production, under the false pretense of “energy independence and self-sufficiency,” lends much ammunition to those opposed to the KXL. It is of little surprise that Buffett is working closely with Obama in the framing of a new “energy independent United States of America” while the same U.S. foundations funding the Stop the KXL! campaign aresimultaneously funding the Apollo Alliance, the Institute for America’s Future and Blue Green Alliance. All while the Obama administration continues to invade, destabilize and occupy sovereign states all over the planet in order to steal/secure Earth’s dwindling natural resources. 

Today, BNSF is hauling out the Bakken crude oil from North Dakota and ethanol from Nebraska (announced in 2006). All via rail. On October 31, 2012, it was announced that BNSF would purchase the Nebraska Northeastern Railway, a 120-mile line that connects Siouxland Ethanol LLC in Jackson; NEDAK Ethanol in Atkinson; and Husker Ag Inc. in Plainview.

For centuries, talented magicians have absolutely depended upon ardent distraction in order to convince an enthralled audience that what they are seeing is truly real – not simply stealthy sleight of hand. As long as the major players within the non-profit industrial complex are protesting the Keystone XL, and getting paid to do so, the audience fails to consider the tar sands oil fields, Bakken oil fracking, unit oil tank trains, etc. … along with the very root causes of climate change.

index“Unit ethanol trains use similar tank cars (in fact, tank cars used in petroleum crude oil service were probably built for the ethanol boom c. 2006) so content of these cars is determined by the haz-mat [hazardous material] placard (red-and-white lopsided square seen at right side of car). This placard displays the number 1267, which denotes “petroleum crude oil.” (Denatured alcohol, or ethanol, uses 1987.)” — March 24, 2012, BNSF Galesburg Yard’s New Tracks are in Service Video: Fracking: The Dirty Truth in North Dakota | (Running time: 4:36) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jN_YwQp4pzY Refineries & Further Genocide

“North American energy companies are starting to invest more in railroad terminals than the railroads themselves. A group of oil and natural gas pipeline operators led by Plains All American Pipeline LP (PAA) announced plans just in the past three months to spend about $1 billion on rail depot projects to help move more crude from inland fields to refineries on the coasts. Warren Buffett‘s Burlington Northern Santa Fe LLC, the largest U.S. railroad, spent $400 million on terminals in 2012. For the first time, energy companies that traditionally rented rail capacity are buying the assets because swelling output from Alberta’s oil sands and shale fields in North Dakota’s Bakken region and Eagle Ford in Texas has overwhelmed pipelines.” — Oil Industry Beats Buffett in Railroad Investments Surge: Energy, January 14, 2013 [Disclosed in part I of series]

“Today, the Quinault Indian Nation submitted comments to the City of Hoquiam and Washington Department of Ecology opposing the first of at least three proposed oil shipping facilities that could transform Grays Harbor into an industrial crude oil zone. Westway Terminal Company, based in Louisiana and Texas, seeks authorization for construction of a new oil shipping terminal in Grays Harbor that would give it the capacity to store 800,000 barrels of crude oil at any given time. Westway predicts that it will bring at least ten million barrels of crude oil annually through Grays Harbor, via rail and marine vessels. Two additional facilities for crude-by-rail – amounting to tens of millions of barrels of crude oil annually through Grays Harbor – are also being proposed in the same area, posing major environmental risks to the Grays Harbor community and the Quinault Indian Nation. State and local regulators have decided to allow this proposal to go forward with minimal environmental review…. Crude-by-rail systems are a recent, but booming, phenomenon.” — April 18, 2013, Tribe Opposes Proposal to Turn Grays Harbor into an Industrial Crude Oil Zone

“The boom in North Dakota’s Bakken oil field is speeding to the Northwest, a boon for ports and refineries that could bring in upwards of 200 million barrels of crude each year on mile-plus oil trains. The first oil train arrived last September. Today, all five Washington refineries handle or plan to handle oil trains, called ‘pipelines on wheels’…. BNSF Railway is likely to carry most of those loads. Spokesman Steve Forsberg said BNSF is investing a record $4.1 billion in upgrades nationwide this year.” — May 13, 2013, Oil trains – pipelines on wheels – headed to Northwest terminals and refineries from North Dakota fracking

“In addition, Valero is considering a plan to send light Canadian crude to its Quebec plant by rail, and it is discussing building a rail terminal at its St. Charles refinery in Louisiana to receive heavy Canadian crude…. Tesoro, soon to be California’s biggest refiner when it closes its June 1 purchase of BP’s Southern California refinery, also has launched rail projects to move cheaper crude.” — Rail picks up steam as a way to move crude, May 27, 2013

In 2012, several refineries serving the Northeast faced the threat of shutdown. Today, an influx of cheaper crude oil extracted from Bakken shale rock formations has “saved” most refineries while stabilizing gas ­prices. Just as fracking opened vast reserves of natural gas over recent years, this same toxic process is now unlocking crude oil trapped in shale deposits. The revival of the East Coast refineries is yet another example of how the ecologically devastating drilling process of hydraulic fracturing/fracking is changing the energy equation for the region, nation and world, thus, tragically keeping North America locked into fossil fuels, growth and an accelerating highway of ecological destruction. Further, as mentioned previously, fracking oil is increasing domestic production so dramatically that the U.S. is projected to surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer by 2017. [Further Reading: Shale Oil Reviving East Coast Refineries]

Diluted Bitumen

Another rather unspoken conversation within the Stop the KXL campaign is the (non)discussion surrounding the immense volume of diluent (“dilent eroi”; see below) piped/shipped into the tar sands. Also out of fashion for meaningful discussion is the employment of natural gas. [At present, natural gas is used to heat the excavated sand.] Together, this creates two more sets of environmental hazards while significantly reducing the EROI or energy return on investment ( which is “extremely low, on the order of 5-10%” [compared to] traditional oil recovery”). [Source] [Note that prospects for a nuclear future in relation to the tar sands will be discussed in the next segment of this investigative series.]

Pipelines require dilution of heavy tar sands crude. This requires expensive chemicals to make the crude oil flow more easily.

No doubt seeing an opportunity, Buffett commenced buying BNSF stock in 2006 and continued to buy/increase stock during the following years. This enabled the railway to start transporting the diluting agents/chemicals necessary to thin the tar sands bitumen from U.S. refineries in the Gulf Coast, California and Kansas to the Canadian border (at Superior, Wisconsin; Noyes, North Dakota; Sweetgrass, Montana; and New Westminster, British Columbia) where the rail tank cars of diluents were/are then transferred to CN rail, and finally, via rail to Edmonton, for shipment to the tar sands.

Industry officials claim that rail tank cars offer the single most important advantage for transporting bitumen: because of its thickness, it must be diluted with other petroleum-based chemicals in order to flow through pipelines. But, as Buffet knows full well and has understood for years, bitumen can be transported in special rail tank cars without dilution.

In November 2008, mere weeks after the Gates/Buffet tar sands expedition in Alberta, Canada, BNSF’s Manager of Business Development stated the following in BNSF’s Railway Magazine: “We’ll continue moving diluents, but there is opportunity to offer rail service as an alternative to pipelines to get the bitumen blend to the refineries,” adding that for such opportunity to be effective “partnerships with the Canadian railroads” would be necessary.  

Thick as Thieves

The rest is now history. In 2010 Buffett bought the rest of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Rail for $44 billion while Gates *increased his stake in CN and, by April of 2012, became CN’s single largest shareholder. (*By 2006 approx. $1.4 billion of Gates’ $3.4 billion portfolio was invested exclusively in CN Rail.) Gates and Buffet are considered as “thick as thieves” and often speak to the fact that they consider each other best friends.

On August 13, 2013, Journalstar reported:

“Buffett buys into Canadian tar sands oil company – Berkshire Hathaway Inc. reported a new half-billion-dollar stake in Suncor Energy Inc., which started the Canadian tar sands oil industry, after Chairman Warren Buffett and his deputies spent the most money on stocks in a quarter since 2011. Buffett’s firm owned 17.8 million Suncor shares June 30, a stake valued at more than $500 million in the Calgary-based producer of heavy oil from the Alberta tar sands, according to a federal filing. Suncor is Canada’s largest oil and gas producer. With the Suncor investment, Buffett further injected himself into the debate over tar sands oil and the Keystone XL pipeline, which, if approved, would carry the bitumen condemned by environmentalists.”

McKibben’s Obama Fetish

90 Days, 90 Reasons is an initiative by Dave Eggers and Jordan Kurland who believed that “many of Obama’s voters and donors from 2008 needed to be reminded of all he has accomplished, and all he will do if given another term. They asked a wide range of cultural figures to explain why they’re voting for Obama in 2012, in the hopes that this might re-inspire the grassroots army that got Obama elected in the first place.” Bill McKibben was one such “cultural figure” they approached for an Obama endorsement. McKibben’s endorsement/statement was made approximately 45 days before the 2012 election.

REASON 45: MITT ROMNEY WILL APPROVE THE PROPOSED KEYSTONE PIPELINE.

McKibben states:

“A year ago, 1,253 Americans were arrested outside the White House while protesting the proposed Keystone Pipeline, which would run from the tarsands of Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. Liberating that pool of carbon would, in the words of NASA climatologist James Hansen, mean it’s ‘game over’ for the climate. Mitt Romney has promised that, if elected, his first act would be to approve the project. Barack Obama hasn’t said one way or the other what he’d do, which holds out some hope, anyway.” — Bill McKibben, Middlebury, Vermont

In March of 2013, Obama issued an Executive Order to have the southern half of KXL built [New York Times, March 22, 2012: In Oklahoma, Obama Declares Pipeline Support]. To be clear, about six months after Obama expedited the KXL southern half, McKibben publicly stated, in order to promote/endorse him, that Obama had yet to voice an opinion on whether or not he would support the pipeline. 

“In March of last year, President Obama stood among KXL pipe produced by workers in Arkansas and famously announced that he was approving the Southern portion of KXL. Extolling the virtues of the pipeline extension for job creation and economic prosperity when he announced, ‘Today, I’m directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles, and make this project a priority, to go ahead and get it done.’ President Obama not only approved KXL, he issued an executive order to expedite the project….” — Forbes, September 19, 2013

It is not as though progressive green “leaders” have not lied in the public sphere prior to this; such political theatre is the name of the NGO game. Yet, because McKibben has been placed upon a pedestal in the balcony section of the ivory tower, it is important to point out that he clearly lied through his teeth on this one, almost as blatantly as his blatant lie told to Karyn Strickler in an interview on Climate Challenge TV when he pretended to have no idea if his “scruffy little outfit” received funding from the Rockefeller foundations. 

I See Humans – But No Humanity

nohumanity

As well-intentioned, albeit naive, citizens join 350.org et al, in the massively financed campaign to “Stop the KeystoneXL!” and “Defend Our Coasts” (this campaign, as discussed in the first installment of this report, is very much led by Rockefeller’s McKibben, focusing on Canadian pipelines and the illusion of “sustainable” tar sands production), CN is already shipping 10,000 barrels of bitumen daily to Gulf terminals and refineries. “The flow of crude oil from the Williston Basin’s Bakken shale field, centered in North Dakota, has confirmed that its transportation by rail is a viable alternative to its movement by pipeline. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that the total takeaway capacity from the Williston Basin grew from about 678,000 barrels a day at the end of 2011 to over 1.1 million barrels a day by the end of 2012. Transportation by rail represented most of this expansion, increasing from an estimated 265,000 barrels a day in 2011 to approximately 660,000 barrels a day in December 2012. The principal beneficiary has been BNSF Railway Co., whose daily volume of crude oil is expected to reach 500,000 barrels moving in eight unit trains by the end of this year.” [Source: Keystone Pipeline is not key to importing Alberta crude oil, August 2013]

In the meantime, as we collectively wave our protest signs at the tree branches while ignoring the root cause, CO2 emissions from tar sands production continue to accelerate as the planet passes irreversible tipping points.

Echoing the corporate sentiment “we can do it cheaper” will be easy for the holdings of both Buffet and Gates since corporations continually (and legally) externalize all waste, pollution and ecological damage to citizens, planet and failing ecosystems. CN, BNSF, CP and other transporters of oil will also ignore the fact that the risk of high magnitude derailments is increasing, since corporations spend no more than what is absolutely necessary in order to increase their profits in each and every quarter. The disaster at Lac Mégantic cements this fact. In addition,we must consider the age of many of the existing tracks and the massive weight of the rail tank cars as a factor in any further disasters. Like pipelines leaks and spills, deadly derailments and spills are also disasters waiting to happen – disasters that are absolutely imminent, as we have recently witnessed – and ignored, at our own peril.

With speciesism dominating the collective landscape of human consciousness, consideration for wild animals that will perish as a result of the increased rail traffic appears to be of no concern to capitalists, environmentalists or society as a whole. [“Wild species wandering onto the tracks to their maiming or slaughter [remain] an ongoing problem in both of Canada’s two westernmost provinces, where carnage on the tracks remains a disturbing problem.” Source]

Not to worry, relentless public relations campaigns, branding, green-washing, marketing and intense social engineering (on behalf of the Avaaz Ivy League death squad) will no doubt continue to ease the guilt that sits beneath our collective consciousness. In regard to oil via rail, one can be certain that “National Public Relations” will protect the Enbridge Corporation and ensure damage control when future rail spills incite bitterness and hopelessness in the small communities impacted. Conveniently, CN Rail, Imperial Oil and Encana are also represented by the National Public Relations firm, which is, ironically, the Canadian affiliate to Burson-Marsteller. The irony lies in the fact that Burson-Marsteller is the public relations agency infamous for its cloaking of Union Carbide in Bhopal, Philip-Morris tobacco and the Three Mile Island nuclear accident. [Source]

Isn’t It Ironic

Welcome to the 21st century of philanthropic colonization:

“As Barker notes, the philanthropic colonization of civil society is a clear and present danger to democratic governance, and the first step in countering their insidious influence is for progressive activists to dissociate from their foundations. As Barker admits, creating democratic revenue streams won’t be easy, but it is necessary in order to free ourselves from the corrosive social engineering of liberal elites.” — Jay Taber, Philanthropic Colonization, January 10, 2013

I would like to end this segment (part III) with a taste of delicious irony.

On July 26, 2013, Peter Buffett penned a provocative opinion piece for the New York Times titled The Charitable-Industrial Complex.

Buffett writes:

Early on in our philanthropic journey, my wife and I became aware of something I started to call Philanthropic Colonialism….

Inside any important philanthropy meeting, you witness heads of state meeting with investment managers and corporate leaders. All are searching for answers with their right hand to problems that others in the room have created with their left….

“As more lives and communities are destroyed by the system that creates vast amounts of wealth for the few, the more heroic it sounds to ‘give back.’ It’s what I would call ‘conscience laundering’ – feeling better about accumulating more than any one person could possibly need to live on by sprinkling a little around as an act of charity….

“I’m really not calling for an end to capitalism; I’m calling for humanism….

“What we have is a crisis of imagination….

“Albert Einstein said that you cannot solve a problem with the same mind-set that created it. Money should be spent trying out concepts that shatter current structures and systems that have turned much of the world into one vast market. Is progress really Wi-Fi on every street corner? No. It’s when no 13-year-old girl on the planet gets sold for sex. But as long as most folks are patting themselves on the back for charitable acts, we’ve got a perpetual poverty machine. It’s an old story; we really need a new one.”

Yes – an absolute crisis of imagination. Although Buffett recognizes that the complex ensures that the structure of inequality be kept intact, Buffett’s own imagination will not allow him to see outside capitalism … even when he is able to understand and acknowledge many direct results of capitalism. It must be understood that such a call for humanism can only be achieved by dismantling and crushing capitalism. Otherwise, we continue to wade in the blood of our brothers and sisters, all while ecosystems continue to fail and die all around us. Buffett cannot manage to cross the line to stand against capitalism. Like so many others, Buffett simply cannot bring himself to step over. Privilege blinds. Yet, there are honest and important critiques in Buffett’s opinion piece and one can be quite certain that they were not met with open arms by the white saviours who dwell within the complex.

One thing is certain. Peter Buffett is far more honest than Bill McKibben.

“If activists fail to address the crucial issue of liberal philanthropy now this will no doubt have dire consequences for the future of progressive activism – and democracy more generally – and it is important to recognise that liberal foundations are not all powerful and that the future, as always, lies in our hands and not theirs.” — Michael Barker, Do Capitalists Fund Revolutions?



[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.]

 

End Notes

[1][2][3][4] Activists should take note of the information/funding sources, disclosed in far-right Canadian Vivian Krause’s investigative reports/research. (“Vivian Krause is a Vancouver researcher and writer. Her work raises fair questions about the science and the funding of environmental campaigns. During the 1990s, Vivian worked on community health and development in Guatemala and Indonesia. She holds a Bachelor of Science from McGill University and a Masters Degree from l’Université de Montréal. Vivian is also a contributor to The Financial Post.” Source: Huffington Post. From the PowerPoint presentation “Rethinking Environmental Activism Against Canadian Energy.”)

[5] In the third quarter of 2012, 4,500 tank cars were delivered and the time for an order to be processed and the tank cars to be manufactured has now lengthened to around 15-18 months.  

Must-Read White Paper: The Politics of a New York State Fracking Moratorium

sierraclub2

Above: A picture worth a thousand words ….

“[P]romoters of “safe fracking” like the Natural Resources Defense Council (“we need better information”), the National Sierra Club (“let’s secure strong safeguards”), and the National Wildlife Federation (“reasonable compromise”; the parent organization of Environmental Advocates of New York), Environmental Defense Fund (partnering with Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, and other industry players in the “Center for Sustainable Shale Development,” PDF), Citizens Campaign for the Environment (pushing for a moratorium, “Let science guide the process”), and New York League of Conservation Voters (whose 2013 spring gala partners included Chesapeake Energy, Scotts Miracle-Gro, and other industry polluters) would like to have an apparent easy win to headline their fundraising letters. Even while many of their staffers recognize the need for a ban, these same staffers have been discouraged from publicly supporting a ban. The grassroots must stand firmly for this position to help these staffers use the courage of their convictions.”

CPNY | Coalition to Protect New York

June 16, 2013

Knowing that the whole country, indeed the whole world, is looking to New York State to stop fracking and lead the way for others to piggyback on our success, we find it especially important that we get it right. We can help not only ourselves but also every other citizenry affected, and we can change the course of history. We cannot waste time; too much is at stake. We can’t play games. We must demand what we need to survive. And we must win.

1. What is the effect of calling for a moratorium? Doesn’t a moratorium buy us time to organize for an eventual ban?

We understand and are tempted by the respite that a moratorium seems to promise. Who wouldn’t like to buy time for rest and recuperation, and to fight more fiercely down the line?

However, after careful examination of the political and economic landscape, we realize that the price of a statewide moratorium is clearly too high — it works against our achieving our ultimate goal of a total and complete ban.

Working for Warren: Corporate Greens

 

buffet

Intercontinental Cry

June 4, 2013

By Jay Taber

 

In Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse–Part II, Cory Morningstar examines the political theatre of the non-profit industrial complex around the transport of oil, and how corporate greens — financed by oligarchs like Rockefeller, Gates and Buffett — are effectively destroying any meaningful activism in the US. At a time when half the total energy produced in the US is wasted due to inefficiencies, protesting pipelines only to have oil shipped by rail is arguably a meaningless activity. But as Morningstar explains, it is funded.

 

[Jay Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, an author, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as the administrative director of Public Good Project.]

 

Under Empire, All Life is Imperiled


index6

One Year On

Counterpunch Weekend Edition May 24-26, 2013

by JAVIER SETHNESS CASTRO

“After the catastrophes that have happened, and in view of the catastrophes to come, it would be cynical to say that a plan for a better world is manifested in history and unites it.”

– Theodor W. Adorno, Negative Dialectics

Channeling Adorno, it would I think prove difficult today to characterize the prevailing world-situation as anything other than highly negative.  Such an interpretation is arguably seen most readily in reflection on environmental matters—specifically, the ever-worsening climate emergency, not to mention other worrying signs of the ecological devastation wrought by the capitalist system.

Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse – Part II

Manufacturing Discourse

The following article is the second installment of an investigative report that demonstrates why billions of dollars are pumped by corporate interests into the non-profit industrial complex, effectively to manufacture discourse in order to protect the ruling classes from systemic change. The first installment outlined the key players: Barack Obama, Hillary and Bill Clinton, Warren Buffett, the Rockefeller family, Bill Gates and Bill Ackman. The key instruments employed by the state and the oligarchs were/are a cluster of foundation-financed NGOs. These included/include Greenpeace, Sierra Club, NRDC and others, with 350.org/1Sky at the helm leading the cunning and strategic discourse.

Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse – Part II

Counterpunch

June 4, 2013

By Cory Morningstar

[Further Reading: Part I| Part III]

2013-04-15-NGO-is-born

Illustration courtesy of Stephanie McMillan, Minimum Security

On April 8, 2013, PRWatch asked the question: “Seven State Keystone XL Resolutions – Where Are the Environmentalists?” The author reported the following observations:

The cleanup is still underway from a massive pipeline spill in Mayflower, Arkansas, but you don’t hear anything about it at public hearings across the nation dealing with the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline. Resolutions supporting the controversial KXL pipeline have now been introduced in seven states, but while TransCanada, the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Chamber of Commerce have been lobbying in force for the bills to pass, there have been few opposing voices by either Democrats or environmentalists at public hearings dealing on the measures….

In February, CMD reported on state resolutions calling for the approval of the KXL pipeline project in Mississippi, Michigan, Minnesota, and Missouri. The language in three of these resolutions closely matched a “backgrounder” from TransCanada. The forth resolution, introduced in Missouri, mirrored a resolution from the American Legislative Exchange Council….

In the last few months, Ohio, Kansas, and Indiana have introduced very similar resolutions, which also feature paragraphs from TransCanada’s own materials. Although these resolutions are non-binding, they will be showcased by industry lobbyists as evidence about how state legislators (and by extension the public) feel about the pipeline project in an attempt to influence the pending State Department decision on KXL. While opponents of KXL have been active on many fronts, their absence from state legislatures nationwide has been notable….

Industry Turns Out in Force, But Face Little Opposition…

[P]ro-pipeline groups certainly seem to be organized in a coordinated national effort, with lobbyists from TransCanada, the American Petroleum Institute (or their local affiliates like Kansas Petroleum Council), and the Chamber of Commerce all attending committee hearings. But the attendance from environmental groups has been patchy at best and the support for their efforts from Democratic lawmakers has been weak.

On February 12, 2013, the Michigan resolution – SCR6 – received a hearing in the Senate Energy and Technology Committee, at which industry groups turned out in force. Lobbyists from the API, TransCanada, the Detroit Regional Chamber, and DTE Energy were all there to make the case for KXL, but as shown in the minutes there was not a single member of the public recorded as opposing KXL. The vote passed 5-1, with two committee members leaving the room just five minutes before the vote. And when two weeks later a vote was held on the House version of the bill in the House Energy and Technology Committee, again lobbyists from API, TransCanada, the Detroit Regional Chamber, and DTE Energy – as well as from Michigan Laborers Union – turned up to support the resolution. There was not a single voice of opposition and the Committee passed the resolution 16-0. The bill passed a floor vote in the House 88-20 on March 5, 2013. [Emphasis added]

The author of the above article makes reference to the fact that although 58,000 activists have pledged to be arrested, there is little opposition at the state level. Perhaps never before has there been such a clear case study that solidifies the fact that “clicktivism” is slowly and effectively destroying any meaningful activism. In the Havas Worldwide (global media giant and creator of TckTckTck) 2010 report, Who Cares Wins, The Rise of the Caring Corporation, one key element to further corporate loyalty and profit is to “Grow Through Karma Off-Setting: Consumers will actively buy from companies who are good, so they feel that they themselves don’t have to personally undertake social projects, as they have done good by making their purchase with you. Good brands provide a moral alibi for buying.” One could draw strong analogies to the 5 second “click” campaigns, which require (and demand) zero analysis and an abhorrence for critical thinking, when the Havas Worldwide campaign affects the psyche in a very similar fashion.

As found in the Nov/Dec 2012, Jan 2013 issue of Bakken Oil Business Magazine:

BNSF has been hauling Bakken crude out of the Williston Basin area for over five years. ‘In that time, we have seen the volume increase nearly 7,000 percent, from 1.3 million barrels in 2008 to 88.9 million in 2012,’ said Dave Garin, BNSF group Vice President of Industrial Products….

 

I received the following response from Jane Kleeb after contacting her about Bold Nebraska’s oppositional stance to the KXL pipeline’s new suggested route through Nebraska: “We are waiting for all the conservative politicians who say they care about property rights and family farmers and ranchers to actually give a damn and stand up against this pipeline. We welcome pipeline infrastructure (not in the Sandhills or that crosses the Aquifer) to ensure ND and MT oil is getting to U.S. markets.”

 

The leg from Cushing, OK to the Gulf Coast refineries has already been approved by the states through which it is being laid, as it did not require presidential approval and does not run through Nebraska. On March 12, 2012, President Obama personally announced his approval of “fast tracking” the southern leg of the KXL pipeline to relieve pressure on the WTI crude oil inventories for shipment to the Gulf Coast. Construction has started and is expected to be completed sometime in late 2013….

 

The main contributor to Bold Nebraska is Dick Holland, who has financially supported this progressive political movement in its opposition to the KXL pipeline. Bold Nebraska’s NIMBY approach will only cause further delays in completing the KXL.

 

Mr. Holland is a good friend of Warren Buffett, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, and one of the world’s most successful investors. Any delay in the process by the U.S. State Department in recommending approval for the completion of the full route of the KXL by the President of the United States, will solely benefit the BNSF.

Holland and his wife were two members of the small group that invested with close friend Warren Buffett in the original Berkshire Hathaway, which dates back to the 1960s. University of Nebraska Omaha reports: “[O]ne version of Buffett’s “Oracle of Omaha” story says $10,000 at the start (less than the Hollands invested) grew to roughly $280 million.”Forbes states that the BOLD Nebraska campaign has been largely funded by Dick Holland.

Jan 26, 2012, Forbes, Obama’s Keystone Rejection May Provide A Buffett Bonanza:

The Obama administration’s original decision to postpone Keystone approval until after the 2012 elections followed loud opposition on environmental grounds led by an anti-pipeline group called “Bold Nebraska”….

The BOLD Nebraska campaign was largely funded by Dick Holland, a close Buffett friend and business associate since the 1960s and an original Berkshire Hathaway investor.The two men share a similar political philosophy and are strong Democratic Party contributors.

Although BOLD Nebraska has openly stated “[W]e welcome pipeline infrastructure (not in the Sandhills or that crosses the Aquifer) to ensure ND and MT oil is getting to U.S. markets,” it is nonetheless a partner of both 350.org [1] and Tar Sands Action.org [2]. Yet in real life, this is really no big deal. Where BOLD Nebraska may receive funding directly from a corporate interest, all organizations involved in this campaign are also funded via corporate interests, the only difference being that the funds (i.e. investment) are funnelled through foundations, which essentially serve as tax-exempt marketing agencies for neoliberal ideologies, programs and policies. It is perhaps somewhat ironic that Holland is actually forthright and transparent in his financing of BOLD Nebraska and doesn’t feel the need to conform to the political theatre in which the foundations are a key prop. 

A far more serious issue is that a non-elected, self-appointed NGO, who claims to speak on behalf/represent of civil society (as all NGOs claim), that is in reality, founded/initiated/financed by elite families of hegemony (Rockefellers and Clintons predominantly at onset) has declined to disclose the source of certain monetary “donations”. The fact that an NGO that claims to represent civil society refuses to disclose all funding sources, demonstrates unequivocally a great lack of respect not only for full transparency, but for the “followers” they claim to represent. [“What 350.org’s list of donors fails to convey is that some foundations provide only US$5,000 or US$10,000, while two unidentified donors provide half of 350.org’s budget for 2011, according to its financial statements. Four grants accounted for two-thirds of 350.org’s budget. 350.org declined to identify the donors of those grants” [as referenced in part I].

Behind the curtains of the political theatre we find the prestigious marketing agencies and public relation firms that “grassroots” groups are miraculously able to afford. These firms and agencies write and develop the scripts and design the sets. They bring the stories to life, strategically exploit and manipulate and our emotions, ultimately ensuring we come to accept and partake in their politically acceptable means of discourse discourse sanctioned (and financed) by the empire. In the case of BOLD Nebraska, partner and marketing agency, Justin Kemerling Design Co, boasts a client list of 350.org, MoveOn.org, Avaaz, the Obama campaign and many more. Another example is the corporate communications and public affairs agency Hoggan & Associates (DeSmogBlog co-founder Jim Hoggan is president and founder), whose client list includes corporate creation TckTckTck, Canadian Pacific (Rail), Shell, AMEC and many more. A planetary crisis for our Earth, which is on the verge of unprecedented, global ecological collapse, has never felt so far away. And the hustle, polished and refined in an emerald green patina, has never made us feel so damn good. Destruction of the planet and the oppression/displacement/annihilation of non-white peoples has been internalized as a completely normal, day to day part of our everyday existence.

The name of the game: allow us to subconsciously (and consciously) protect our privilege all while we’re up to our necks in blood, drowning within a system where violence and exploitation of people and planet are inherently built in. We may fiercely chastise Apple – but we’re not about to actually give up any of the corporations products. In our collective, oblivious minds, the Congo does not exist nor do the Congolese, just the SumofUs petition which Westerners sign (click) dishonestly knowing it will have no meaningful effect. (Instead we toss the latest iPhone sweatshop accessory to our average eleven year-old Euro-American populace, sanctioning rampant corporate pedophilia and indoctrination, all while we steal their very future out from under them.) DeSmogBlog may “expose” Shell on occasion, yet Hoggan & Associates has no problem raking in Shell cash to perhaps, in their own words, “…help clients identify the optimum frame and establish it in the public mind. In a crisis, we can help lift a story out of a frame that might have been set up by critics.” Not surprisingly, note that Hoggan has been a member of the David Suzuki Foundation Board since 2001 and has served as Chair since 2007. It’s all one big happy, delusional, and very privileged, family. 

YES LOGO | The McKibben-Klein Doctrine

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Above: 350.org DC rally signs (far right and bottom two) clearly promote the powerful Obama brand. Above left: MoveOn.org (founder of Avaaz), front group for the Democratic Party. Image to right of MoveOn.org poster: 350.org “Forward on Climate” poster/logo. Top image: Obama 2012 campaign poster/logo.

“Together, the team has marshalled every tool in the modern marketing arsenal to create and sustain the Obama brand: the perfectly calibrated logo (sunrise over stars and stripes).” — Naomi Klein, author of No Logo (10th Anniversary Edition). Klein now sits on the board of directors of Rockefellers’ 1Sky/350.org

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“… A lot of times when he’s at a podium what you’ll see is, centered right beneath him, at the very top of the blue field that usually says something like ‘Change You Can Believe In,’ it’ll be just that little symbol, functioning in the same way the Nike swoosh does. People look at that and know what it means, even though it’s just an ‘O’ with some stripes in it…. The thing that sort of flabbergasts me as a professional graphic designer is that, somewhere along the way, they decided that all their graphics would basically be done in the same typeface…. If you look at one of his rallies, every single non-handmade sign is in that font. Every time you look, all those signs are perfect. Graphic designers like me don’t understand how it’s happening. It’s unprecedented and inconceivable to us. The people in the know are flabbergasted.” — Expertinent: Why the Obama “Brand” Is Working, Feb 27, 2008

“Attitude” branding is essentially defined by the ability to elicit/represent/instill a larger, more powerful feeling on an emotional, subconscious level. It need not be connected with the product or the consumption of the product whatsoever. At a deeper level, attitude branding drills into the consumer psychology of (“attitude”) choiceas much as the term “choice” is applicable in the 21st century of accelerating social engineering. The brand “Obama” does not represent nor sell a president, rather it embodies an emotional chimera of “hope” and “change” that we can choose to believe in. One could quite safely describe attitude branding as a very sophisticated and calculated method of indoctrination, perhaps one of the highest (and most subtle) forms of psychological manipulation/brainwashing.Corporations excelling in “attitude” branding include Apple and Nike, to name two. Branding a person is not fundamentally different from branding a product. In 2008, Obama-the-brand beat out the aforementioned Apple and Nike, capturing first place for Advertising Age’s marketer of the year.

The Obama brand utilized by 350.org et al for the Forward in Climate – Reject Keystone XL Pipeline was strategic and cunning. Anyone who believes otherwise is beyond naïve. Perhaps this feat could be considered a unique and compelling example of the indoctrinating attitude branding that Naomi Klein describes as “fetish strategy” in her 2000 book No Logo.  

Video: John Pilger – Obama is a Corporate Marketing Creation (running time: 5:29)

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Although it is obvious that the No KXL campaign logo shares remarkable and purposeful semblance to the infamous Obama logo (sunrise over stars and stripes), allowing the pro-Obama, pro-Democrat veneer to illuminate at almost 100% transparency, a natural line of defence by 350.org would be that of course they utilize what 350.org board member, Naomi Klein, refers to as “the perfectly calibrated logo” to their advantage, as, they would argue, the Obama administration is the target of their campaign.

And anyone who understands advertising, social engineering and the power of the brand, such as Klein, would understand that this line of defense is bullshit.

The KXL campaign imagery absolutely reinforces Obama’s ubiquitous “brand.”

“Brand recognition is most successful when people can state a brand without being explicitly exposed to the company’s name, but rather through visual signifiers like logos, slogans and colors.” — Investopedia

The money that the modern power elite have pumped into 1Sky/350.org via their tax-exempt foundations has proven to be an investment with such incredibly high dividends, it would make even Warren Buffet blush. [“Reports make it official: Oil and gas are booming…. the Railroad Commission issued 3,722 permits during the first two months of the year, ‘the strongest start to a year in the entire history of the TPI [Texas Petro Index],’ he said.” [April 4, 2013]

The Obama branding/marketing campaign was planned and executed with clinical precision. The Obama marketing team established brand leadership by ensuring Obama owned the “change” ideology in the voters’ minds. The KXL campaign successfully reinforced/reinforces the illusion that this same iconic “change” is still sitting right in front of us, ours for the taking, if only we believe. Like the Obama brand, the 350.org brand (along with many thousands of other NGOs) recognizes and focuses on the desire for an authentic “product,” which simultaneously reinforces our society’s collective thirst for the lies that enable the populace to continue to ignore reality – and perhaps more importantly, disregard our collective role in it.

On 16 January 2010 the Guardian publishes the article Naomi Klein on how corporate branding has taken over America. Ten years after the publication of No Logo, Naomi Klein switches her attention from the mall to Barack Obama and discovers that corporate culture has taken over the US government [Extracted from No Logo (10th Anniversary Edition) by Naomi Klein, to be published by Fourth Estate on 21 January at GBP 9.99]

When Obama was sworn in as president, the American brand could scarcely have been more battered – Bush was to his country what New Coke was to Coca-Cola, what cyanide in the bottles had been to Tylenol. Yet Obama, in what was perhaps the most successful rebranding campaign of all time, managed to turn things around. Kevin Roberts, global CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, set out to depict visually what the new president represented. In a full-page graphic commissioned by the stylish Paper Magazine, he showed the Statue of Liberty with her legs spread, giving birth to Barack Obama. America, reborn….

So, it seemed that the United States government could solve its reputation problems with branding – it’s just that it needed a branding campaign and product spokesperson sufficiently hip, young and exciting to compete in today’s tough market. The nation found that in Obama, a man who clearly has a natural feel for branding and who has surrounded himself with a team of top-flight marketers. His social networking guru, for instance, is Chris Hughes, one of the young founders of Facebook. His social secretary is Desirée Rogers, a glamorous Harvard MBA and former marketing executive. And David Axelrod, Obama’s top adviser, was formerly a partner in ASK Public Strategies, a PR firm which, according to Business Week, “has quarterbacked campaigns” for everyone from Cable­vision to AT&T. Together, the team has marshalled every tool in the modern marketing arsenal to create and sustain the Obama brand: the perfectly calibrated logo (sunrise over stars and stripes); expert viral marketing (Obama ringtones); product placement….

Indeed everything Obama and his family touches turns to branding gold…. “We have the best brand on earth: the Obama brand,”…. “Our possibilities are endless”….

Obama, in sharp contrast not just to social movements but to transformative presidents such as FDR, follows the logic of marketing: create an appealing canvas on which all are invited to project their deepest desires but stay vague enough not to lose anyone but the committed wing nuts (which, granted, constitute a not inconsequential demographic in the United States). Advertising Age had it right when it gushed that the Obama brand is “big enough to be anything to anyone yet had an intimate enough feel to inspire advocacy”….

Yet rereading No Logo after 10 years provides many reminders that success in branding can be fleeting, and that nothing is more fleeting than the quality of being cool. Many of the superbrands and branded celebrities that looked untouchable not so long ago have either faded or are in deep crisis today. The Obama brand could well suffer a similar fate. [Emphasis added]

The task at hand is to ensure Obama does not suffer this similar fate that Klein aptly describes. Hence, the millions funneled into MoveOn.org, the front group/non-profit organization for the Democratic Party. MoveOn.org takes the visible pro-Democrat position, at the forefront of the non-profit industrial complex which, for the most part, keeps their political ideological leanings hidden in order to appear both non-partisan/independent and legitimate. One should note that MoveOn is the key founder of Avaaz along with Res Publica. Both MoveOn.org and Avaaz are partners of 350.org, Avaaz being a 350.org key partner/affiliate. [FURTHER READING: AVAAZ: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War] 

When Klein stated that Obama followed the logic of creating “an appealing canvas on which all are invited to project their deepest desires but stay vague enough not to lose anyone but the committed wing nuts,” who would have known she was describing, with astounding accuracy, the very faction that she affiliated herself with, the following year on April 7, 2011. Whether Klein’s words were a self-fulfilling prophecy or simply bad judgment, one can only speculate. However, one thing is certain, the “committed wing nuts” Klein speaks of have only become more delusional in the years that have followed as Obama leads the world in the race to the bottom. Who knew that fascism, invasions, occupations, corruption and drones could be so appealing?

Hypocrisy Knows No Bounds

“Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” — Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Brilliant is the person that could inspire a nation to stand up and systematically destroy the system that is killing us. These people are not brilliant. Rather, they are diabolical. The foundations that support them depend upon industrialized capitalism to grow their investments. The non-profit complex can only be sustained if the foundations’ wealth continues to reap the “rewards” of infinite growth. It is unsustainable (not to mention deadly). Without infinite growth,the non-profit complex will collapse. Gone will be the six-figured salaries of the progressive greens. Yet, every day that this system remains intact, turning Earth’s remaining natural resources into monetary capital, we are one day closer to our collective annihilation. There will be no winners in this game of 21st century Russian roulette.

 

+++

After the first segment of this report was published on April 12, 2013, there was still much difficulty in acceptance for the privileged few, especially those with affiliation to the corporate greens behind the KXL campaign. The dominant belief that still encapsulates the progressives is that rail is not a viable option in the future. Therefore, let us, one more time, delve back into reality.

Stock Markets and Media Tell the Story

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National Post Opinion (April 9, 2009) |CN idea a winner for oil sands:

Within months, CN will be shipping 10,000 barrels daily from producers whose reserves are now stranded. The railway will deliver the oil sands production through the use of insulated and heatable railcars or by reducing its viscosity by mixing it with condensates or diluents.

But the “scalability” of the concept – up to four million barrels per day – means that the railway can ramp up production vastly by just adding rail cars. Shipping four million barrels a day is possible with current rail capacity, said Foote. [Note that this article (cited in part 1 of this series) appeared simultaneously with the April 9, 2009 Huffington Post article titled Game-changer: Canadian oil sands will bypass US for Asia written by Diane Francis. Francis was also the author of the National Post opinion piece. Although Huffington Post is now a Time-Warner acquisition, green progressives remain quite devoted to it.]

Feb 7, 2011, CN, CP push for a pipeline on rails, Globe and Mail:

[CN] has begun sending oil sands bitumen to California; heavy oil from Cold Lake, Alta., to Chicago and Detroit; and crude from the Bakken, a fast-growing play in southern Saskatchewan, to the U.S. Gulf Coast…. CN boasts that its tracks lie within 80 kilometres of five million barrels a day of refining capacity, which is more than double Canada’s entire U.S. exports….

The idea of a “pipeline on rails” has been quietly pursued by both CN and CP in recent years…. “Our unparalleled market reach and flexibility, we feel, gives shippers, buyers … and refineries new options to explore and new ways to reach different markets,” James Cairns, vice-president of petroleum and chemicals with CN, told an Insight Information conference….

Rail cars can also ship pure bitumen, the very heavy crude produced in the oil sands. Bitumen is so thick that it needs to be mixed at about a 70-to-30 ratio with a thinner hydrocarbon – called diluent – to flow in a pipeline. Diluent then needs to be returned to the oil sands, creating substantial additional pipe costs. Rail cars, which are already used to transport asphalt, can take undiluted bitumen….

“There’s a lot of talk about is it pipe? Is it rail?” Mr. Cairns said. “Our view is pretty simple. It’s a big pie.” [Emphasis added]

Nov 3, 2011, Oil aboard! Railroads shipping more Alberta crude:

A year ago, almost no Alberta crude traveled by rail. Now, Canadian railroads can’t find enough cars to ship the gooey stuff. That’s part of the reason Canada’s two biggest railroads, CN (Canadian National Railway) and CP (Canadian Pacific Railway) are wrapping up the year on an upswing. CN’s third-quarter profit climbed 19 percent… Some 2 million barrels of Canadian crude go through pipelines to the U.S. daily, and estimates are that only 10,000 to 20,000 go by rail. But as oil companies grow more comfortable shipping by rail, analysts say, there’ll be a lot more crude in – actually, on – their pipelines on rails.

March 1, 2012, Bloomberg News:

Gains in mineral and chemical carloads helped BNSF pay a $1 billion distribution to Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway last month….

Oil and gas-field servicing are “exploding very healthily” for BNSF, said Paul Bingham, economics practice leader at consultant CDM Smith in Arlington, Va. “In the West I think the BN disproportionately benefits from that.”

March 24, 2012, BNSF Galesburg Yard’s New Tracks Are In Service:

Okay, it’s time to reveal the big secret. Last Saturday (March 17), while waiting at Galesburg for the expected arrival of a rare (for the past several years anyway), Decatur-bound Canadian National “haulage” (by BNSF) grain train, I decided to check out the new tracks that have been built at BNSF Railway’s Galesburg Yard during the past several months….

Anyway, the three new long tracks were empty, and just as I thought how cool it would be to see a train actually using one of the tracks, a North Dakota oil train came into view and pulled onto one of these tracks!

 A BNSF Railway petroleum crude oil train uses one of three new “Long Tracks” at Galesburg, Illinois classification yard Saturday, March 17, 2012

June 27, 2012, Southern Pacific Resource Corp. completes arrangements to transport and market bitumen via CN to the U.S. Gulf Coast:

Southern Pacific Resource Corp. (“Southern Pacific” or the “Company”) (TSX: STP) announced today completion of a long-term arrangement to transport its bitumen to the U.S. Gulf Coast via the rail network of CN (TSX: CNR) (NYSE: CNI)….Given recent regulatory delays around additional pipeline capacity to accommodate growing bitumen volumes from Alberta, the Company has now secured direct and immediate access into the Gulf Coast market….In 2012, CN expects to move a total of approximately 25,000 carloads of crude oil, up significantly from approximately 5,000 last year.

August 21, 2012, Railways ship bitumen to relieve pipeline bottlenecks:

It also allows producers additional options for getting oil to market. Some 2 million barrels of Canadian crude go through pipelines to the U.S. daily, and estimates are that only 10,000 to 20,000 go by rail. Some estimates say it costs $3 to $6 to move a barrel of crude through a pipeline versus $15 to move it by rail. The rail option, that did not exist even 2 years ago, will continue grow.

Jan 3, 2013, UPDATE 1-U.S. petroleum rail shipments up nearly 50 pct in 2012

Shipments of petroleum on U.S. railroads rose more than 46 percent in 2012 as shale oil producers put record amounts of crude on trains to overcome pipeline capacity constraints…. Major U.S. freight railroads carried 66,000 carloads of crude in 2011, up from only 11,000 carloads in 2009. By the third quarter of last year, daily shipments of crude oil were exceeding 500,000 barrels per day, roughly equivalent to the output of OPEC’s smallest member, Ecuador. If growth patterns hold, crude by rail could “easily” blow past 600,000 barrels per day by early 2013, AAR said… By the end of the third quarter last year, about 430,000 barrels per day of crude moved out of North Dakota’s Bakken shale play by rail, up from nearly nothing in mid-2010, according to the North Dakota Pipeline Authority. [Emphasis added]

January 7, 2013, Alberta bitumen makes it to Mississippi by rail:

EDMONTON – The first oil from Southern Pacific Resource Corp.’s startup thermal oilsands facility near Fort McMurray reached Mississippi by rail this week after a 4,500-kilometre, two-week journey. The Calgary-based firm was in the news this fall when it announced it would avoid the bitumen pipeline bottlenecks and very low prices being paid to Canadian oilsands producers by contracting for new terminals and a fleet of rail cars to carry its product to the U.S. Gulf Coast. The first shipment of diluted bitumen left the Lynton rail terminal, located just south of Fort McMurray, on Dec. 22 and landed in Mississippi on Jan. 6. It will be off-loaded at the Genesis Natchez terminal where Southern Pacific has exclusive terminal capacity, the company announced Monday. Initial production at the firm’s steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) facility 45 km northwest of Fort McMurray was 1,200 barrels per day in December. It could take at least another year before the design capacity of 12,000 bpd is achieved. [Emphasis added]

Feb 5, 2013, Macleans Canada: Oil Sands Bust:

Meanwhile, another group of businessmen is backing a $10.4-billion plan to construct a new, 2,400-km “purpose built” railroad to carry oil from Alberta to Alaska, where it could then be shipped overseas on tankers. [Emphasis added]

Feb 18, 2013, Price differentials boost rail transport of blended bitumen:

A surge in rail delivery of crude oil and oil products in the US last year reflects, in part, a textbook system of price leapfrog, known more formally as location arbitrage. Although oil is far more expensive to move by railcar than by pipeline, tracks connect more places than pipes do. So when production surges somewhere not fully served by pipelines, such as the Bakken play in North Dakota, oil finds its way into tank cars. The Energy Information Administration reports Association of American Railroads data showing last year’s rail delivery of crude and oil products exceeded the prior year’s total by 46%. [Emphasis added]

March 6, 2013, If Buffett Were Canadian, He’d Want This Stock:

In late 2009, Buffett’s buy big mentality led him to a well-positioned railroad play. But instead of just adding to his shares, Buffett bought out Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF)…. Since his purchase, railroad stocks have been burning up the tracks. For reference, the Dow Jones Transportation Average, which started as a simple gauge of railroad activity, is booming….Railways across America are booming from a sea-change of energy flow. In fact, things are going so well for the rail industry, besides hitting brand new highs yesterday, something else amazing is happening. Today, in Houston, the CEO for BNSF, Matt Rose, is giving a talk on North American energy, “The New Abundance and What it Means.” This is huge. Just the fact that an executive for a railroad company is speaking at the IHS Cera Week event, is an amazing milestone. [Emphasis added]

May 13, 2013, Oil trains – pipelines on wheels – headed to Northwest terminals and refineries from North Dakota fracking:

Enter trains. In 2008, the largest railroads carried 9,500 carloads of crude. Last year: more than 200,000….

If all the proposed oil terminals are built, the traffic could hit nearly 3,000 loaded trains a year, not counting direct trips to refineries.

That could come on top of coal traffic. Three proposals for Northwest coal export terminals would generate nearly 7,000 coal train trips a year at full capacity on already congested tracks in Spokane, the Gorge and along Interstate 5.

BNSF Railway is likely to carry most of those loads. Spokesman Steve Forsberg said BNSF is investing a record $4.1 billion in upgrades nationwide this year. [Emphasis added]

Let’s take one moment to acknowledge that there is truth in the first article cited above (CN idea a winner for oil sands, November 9, 2009) when it states “As for Canada’s environmental concerns, the oil sands is absolutely essential to maintaining the future living standards of Canadians.” And while the progressive greens bitch about the Venezuelan government utilizing their oil wealth to lift their people, who have been oppressed and exploited under imperialism for centuries, out of poverty, perhaps this is a good time for reflection and some unadulterated “truth”. Demand & consumption is what pushes extraction. As long as professional activists and all other privileged activists/citizens that fall into the 1% category (with the 1% essentially being anyone who can afford to get on an airplane) continue to fly all over the world and while activists and celebrities fly in and out of KXL protests on the front lawn of the White House (which have been nothing more than state-sanctioned photo-ops and pro-Democratic parties), don’t expect anything to change – except for more pipelines and extraction. It is the wealthy that create the climate crisis. As an example, Venezuelan emissions account for only .056% of global emissions while the wealthiest 8% emit 50% of all GHG emissions … and the 3 billion poorest people emit essentially nothing. More recently (no doubt after the engineered financial crisis of 2008), esteemed scientist Kevin Anderson has stated that 50% of emissions come from 1% of the world’s population. [3] Rib-eyed steaks, Coca-Cola, shopping malls, air conditioners and western consumption do not correspond with mitigation on climate change. Perhaps one of the very few options left is to eat the rich.

Language

The pipeline corrosion and safety issues (the primary focus being that of pipeline oil spills) have been the focus points in the Keystone XL debate. This is not by accident. Again, let us for a moment consider the language used in 350.org et al’s “Defend Our Coast” campaign.

The stated goal of the campaign is essentially that they want the Obama administration to “reject a Canadian company’s application to construct the $7 billion, 1,702-mile pipeline, which would carry heavy crude from the oil sands mines of Alberta to refineries along the Gulf Coast.”

Meaningful language would state unequivocally that the main reason to shut down the production of all tar sands is simple: if we do not shut down all tar sands production, we will annihilate our species. It is that simple. By framing our demands with “reasonable” and “politically correct” language, we lock ourselves willingly into the “acceptable” limits as dictated by the industry operating within the industrialized capitalist system – which we must oppose and destroy if we are to simply continue to live. Working within the confines of the acceptable language as constructed by the system ensures absolute subservience, obedience and, always, failure. 

Video: Using the Discourse of Revolutionary Opposition (Running time: 2:16)

The intent of the language employed by corporate greens is to create a feeling of trust/safety, effectively pacifying resistance, and to “normalize” our acquiescence to corporate culture and abuse. The state will never fear what it can control. [Further Reading:  Tar Sands Action & the Paralysis of a Movement | Part I]

Avoiding Systemic Change Promises Global Ecological Collapse

“Reformers who are always compromising, have not yet grasped the idea that truth is the only safe ground to stand upon.” — Elizabeth Stanton

Internationally, 32,000 km of new pipelines are constructed each year: this is a $US28 billion business, and 50% of these new builds are expected in North and South America. Additionally, 8,000 km of offshore pipelines are being built per year: this is a $5 billion business with 60% in northwest Europe, Asia Pacific, and the Gulf of Mexico. [Source: OIL AND GAS PIPELINES: Yesterday and Today by Phil Hopkins, Chairman, 2006-7]

 

Considering that the Keystone XL represents a mere 1,702-mile pipeline out of a yearly 32,000 km of pipeline being constructed each year globally, and considering that stopping the KXL will not stop the expansion of the tar sands as we now have a booming rail industry in place, it might be worth asking why we are focusing on a single pipeline rather than the root causes of climate and environmental disruption. Yet, if we are to be honest with ourselves, we do know why (greed, lack of ethics, lack of respect for/separation from our natural world, trappings, denialism), so instead, why don’t we re-visit the root causes of our multiple crises. 

More than half (58%) of the total energy produced in the US alone is wasted due to inefficiencies (Phys.org – April 2011). The US military (alone) consumes as much as one million barrels of oil per day (source: author Barry Sanders) to steal resources from sovereign states while simultaneously moving trillions in tax dollars from hard-working people into the hands of global corporations. Millions of men, women and children have been murdered in the process. Approximately 51% of all GHG emissions are created from industrialized livestock. Butwhereas bio-fuel (aptly coined agro-fuel) is an acceptable topic within the constructed left paradigm, industrialized livestock is not.Theblatant hypocrisies of the privileged once again shine transparent on this critical yet unspoken issue. Progressive greens correctly identify that running our cars, etc. on ethanol has already contributed to the world’s food shortages and that the consequences of converting forest land for growing corn for ethanol, etc. are profound. Most activists would agree with these excellent observations and argue against corn ethanol based on these facts and further damning facts simply because it is common sense. Yet, it is clear that the progressive greens are unwilling to collectively identify these very same arguments when it comes to industrial livestock. [4] What are our proposed solutions to the fact there has been a 158% increase in methane (72-100 times more powerful than CO2 in the short-term) as we approach and surpass accelerating feedbacks and irreversible topping points? Maybe the current NOAA methane graphs are terrifying only to the atolls slipping under the rising oceans. The root cause of climate disruption is our global, industrialized capitalist economic system. Yet on these issues, the most critical issues of our lifetime, there is no discussion within the non-profit industrial complex. There is a reason. The complex is financed to the tune of billions of dollars to ensure the right discourse in order to protect the system.

Timing is Everything | Sierra Club and Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Company Landmark Settlement

January 13, 2013, Indigenous Environmental Network:

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 DES MOINES, IA – Today, the Sierra Club and Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Company announced a landmark settlement that requires the Iowa utility to phase out coal burning at seven coal-fired boilers, clean up another two coal-fired boilers and build a large solar installation at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. The announcement also pushes the total amount of coal generation retired or announced to retire since 2010 to over 50,000 megawatts, almost one-sixth of the nation’s coal fleet….

“Iowans are joining a growing number of citizens around the country who are helping to end our nation’s dependency on coal and move the U.S. toward a cleaner energy future,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, whose Bloomberg Philanthropies has contributed $50 million to the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign….

“Today’s settlement marks an important national milestone to end the scourge of coal, as well as an important milestone in our ongoing discussion with the Warren Buffett family of companies about combating climate disruption,” said Bruce Nilles, Senior Director of the Beyond Coal campaign. [Emphasis in original]

Most interesting is the fact that Nilles makes absolutely no mention of Buffet’s expanding rail empire transporting oil across North America. Rather, the release goes on to state:

However, Nilles also took aim at two other parts of Mr. Buffett’s holdings, his western utility, Pacificorp, that owns and operates six existing coal-fired power plants and Mr. Buffett’s BNSF, the largest hauler of coal nationwide. “Pacificorp continues to be a laggard on clean energy and BNSF is one of the very worst actors when it comes to lobbying and promoting expanded coal use nationally and internationally,” Nilles said. “Over the coming months we will be stepping up our engagement with Paciforp and BNSF to urge them to follow the examples of other forward-looking parts of Mr. Buffett’s holdings.” [Emphasis in original]

One might wonder what holdings appear “forward-looking” in the eyes of Nilles. One must also contemplate which undisclosed non-profit was chosen as the beneficiary of a massive financial contribution from Warren Buffett.

On Feb 4, 2013, Time-Warner/AOL’s Huffington Post reports:

Buffett revealed the donations Monday. Buffett, who is Berkshire’s chairman and CEO, made donations of Class B shares to four unnamed charities and three individuals between September and December.

The biggest single gift reported Monday was 172,375 shares worth $16.6 million given to a nonprofit.

These gifts are in addition to the 22.4 million Class B Berkshire shares Buffett gave to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the four Buffett family foundations that are slated to eventually distribute most of Buffett’s fortune. [In progressive green foundation-funded fashion, Huffington Post includes under the aforementioned article a 14-page online photo album titled “Adorable Warren Buffett Photos.”]

All those within the non-profit industrial complex brand the Sierra Club – Buffett landmark settlement as a victory (even more so on the heels of Obama’s 2013 inaugural address), when in reality it is nothing more than a strategic component of new investment hijinks: get paid to retire the old and reap even more billions to build new – all under the guise of the illusory “green economy.” Let us not forget how the non-profit industrial complex strategically whitewashed “clean coal.”

On August 31, 2011, environmentalist Gregory Vickrey posed a question in response to a legitimate grassroots organiser demonstrating public support for the very NGOs undermining the grassroots. This question was put forward by Vickrey before it was disclosed on Feb 12 2012, that the Sierra Club raked in $26 million from the natural gas industry and following the announcement (July 21, 2011) that Michael R. Bloomberg’s “Bloomberg Philanthropies” contributed $50 million (over 4 years) to the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign (initiated in Spring of 2010). Vickrey asks:

My primary concern lies with providing a tract of general legitimacy for those sellouts. Right or wrong, when we vocalize support or otherwise endorse these sanitized events and the players behind them, we are seen as sanctioning them on the whole, and it makes walking the fine line of organizing an effective movement tough. Our present reality is tough to swallow in context.

On coal, I understand some of the stronger points of messaging from, say, the Sierra Club, but am concerned that much of that movement is likewise funded primarily with Rockefeller Family money (Bill himself states this, and proudly) and defines (dilutes) success in increments that, in the grand scheme of things, mean little. We can’t tolerate another 6k mW of coal active in FL, for example, but that is a victory to the Beyond Coal campaign because they managed to stop another 13k mW. In the next cycle, industry will again ask for 20k mW, and will get 5-8k mW. And that will be labeled another victory. At which point are they pyrrhic?

It is significant to note that massive “gifts” (i.e. investments) by philanthropists (i.e. capitalists protecting their power/privilege) are rarely if ever given in one lump sum. Rather, as in the case of Sierra Club/Bloomberg above, the “gift”/investment is staggered in installments over many years, thus ensuring that dependence on the funding source is created (if not established prior). This quickly translates into obedience and convenient cognitive dissonance on behalf of the recipient. 

Off to the Next Campaign

When the KXL campaign is all said and done (it almost is), progressive greens will proclaim they’re mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore. They mayfly away to a retreat in the Netherlands in order to go through their crafted agenda as TckTckTck(GCCA)/Greenpeace (faux environmental leader Kumi Naidoo chairs both) did after the COP15 United Nations climate conference where they grossly undermined the most powerful positions put forward by leading states and the G77.

One should take note that, like many professional activists who move freely through the revolving doors of the non-profit industrial complex and corridors of empire, TckTckTck/Greenpeace chair, Naidoo is no exception. Of special interest to the Keystone XL analysis is Naidoo’s board position on the 350.org international advisory council. Further, Naidoo was an advisor to the chair of the Clinton Global Initiative [Source: May 26, 2007]. Recall that in 2007, the Clinton Global Initiative undertook an instrumental role in the development of 1Sky, now 350.org.

Naidoo’s high profile board and advisory positions and appointments with renowned institutes of empire include/included but are not limited to: Amnesty International (Soros-funded), the World Economic Forum, the United Nations UNDEF, UNIFEM, the Panel of Eminent Persons on UN Civil Society Relations (appointed by the UN Secretary General),  international adviser for the CarnegieUK Trust, secretary general and CEO of CIVICUS (Ford-funded) and the SumOfUs Advisory Board. [Further reading: The Most Important COP Briefing That No One Ever Heard | Truth, Lies, Racism & Omnicide.] The agenda would look something as follows: 1) Discuss key points arising from evaluation of the KXL campaign 2) Power Analysis & Critical Pathway 3) Overall Strategic Framework 4) Draft 2013 Action Plan 5) Communications/Mobilization: Vision, objectives and options for next steps, and 6) The next campaign.

With certainty, the NGOs within the complex will abandon the Natives and the Earth’s most oppressed peoples in their centuries old fight for basic human rights. This will be especially true in the case of outright treaty violations involving the theft of Native land guaranteed by a contract, as well as the genocide brought about by poisoning Native drinking water. McKibben et al will internalize that such contradictions are not within their scope, nor their jurisdiction, nor their mission statements – when in fact it is these very violations that are the integral basis for the entire controversy.

TckTckTck is not the only organization “fighting against climate change” whose leading “activists” jet-set to retreats in order to “regroup” as demonstrated in the 350.org’s 2011 990 tax form that reported $53,000 in retreat expenses.

While pipelines are being built all around the entire planet, the US (and even international)media focuses on just this one as the single pipeline that will push us over the precipice – the infamous KXL (ultimately, only an extension of the newly built and already operational Keystone pipeline no less). With the Shut Down the Tar Sands campaign now essentially defunct, having been tossed to Polaris Institute on Feb 6, 2013 by Indigenous Environmental Network (who is now focused on managing pacifying the Idle No More movement campaign), we can expect that the remaining NGOs will be abandoning the KXL campaign in relatively short order.

The Polaris Tar Sands Watch is another NGO entangled within the massive non-profit industrial complex web. As an example, Anuradha Mittal serves on (to name a few) the board of Polaris Institute, International Forum on Globalization, World Future Council, Ben and Jerry’s (Ceres partner) and Natural Capital Institute which has, as of January 1st, 2011, been officially renamed WiserEarth! (Seeing that the illusory “green economy,” “climate wealth” and other terms of delusion are now exposed and frowned upon by many,including eco-footprint founder/scientist Bill Rees and Kevin Anderson, a name change was imperative.) In 2012, Wiser.org, in collaboration with Earth Day Network, “challenged” members and citizens around the world to make a pledge toward the “Billion Acts of Green” campaign. Key partners/supporters included TckTckTck, 350.org, Anonymous – Tides Foundation, Ford Foundation, and many more. Confused? That’s all right, you’re supposed to be. Don’t think. Just open up your mouth and say “ahhh….” Prepare yourself for the bitter taste of “green capitalism.”

A Scruffy Little Outfit Swimming in Money

Grassroots has never been so prestigious. Joining McKibben and Ms. Klein on the 350.org/1Sky board/US advisory councilare representatives of the Rockefeller Brother Fund.

Elizabeth Butler earns $93,144. as the 350.org campaign director. Yet this is somewhat a poverty level when one compares Butler’s salary with 350.org partner and Avaaz founder Ricken Patel, whose earnings in 2011, from Avaaz alone (not including consulting or other income), amounted to $183,264. Patriarchy is alive and well within the non-profit industrial complex. These fat salaries are typical, as well as incredibly illustrative. The NGO professional elite “99 percenters” most always receive high salaries when they’re in “leadership” positions.

Self-Destructive and Collective Deception

In the past, issues of critical importance were discussed at the dinner table, on living room floors, at the community school, at the town hall, etc. Today, comfortable citizens (taking solace in the fact they make an automatic payment of 25.00 per month to their favourite NGO brand) are under a gross misconception that NGOs such as Greenpeace and 350.org are actually representing civil society,as they claim. They are not. First and foremost, these self-appointed NGOs represent and protect the interests of their funders. 350.org and friends successfully take the issues away from the dinner table, where the issues need discussing, and instead, they make the issue about them. Then, after poisoning it, they’ll blame someone else for it. This is narcissism, which flourishes like a cancer within the complex. A complex built on a foundation of whiteness and aversive racism. It is ugly. Perhaps the late George Carlin summarizes the second half of this investigative report far better on stage than in typeface: “It’s a big club and you ain’t in it.”

And as an apt expression of how we have regressed from the first Earth day in 1970 to the most recent one in 2013, perhaps activist Jeff Weinberger sums it up best:

“Tomorrow being Earth Day, just want to wish you all a relaxing, thoughtful day peacefully focused on how we’re going to avoid ANNIHILATING EVERYTHING : ) …in other words, a calm day spent considering – amidst the other joy! – that aside from the obvious villains, the system creates smiley villains in green-face, floating about in the alphabet soup made in the non-profit industrial complex kitchen…this shit is BOILED for consumption…don’t be fooled because it tastes good at first…NGO’s are more toxic than fossil fuels and radiation…consider perspectives like this so we can have some hope of uniting to rip the ecocidal tendency out at the root, to affirm Life – Happy Earth Day!

[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. You can follow her on twitter: @elleprovocateur ]

Notes:

[1] “Many thanks, [from] Bill McKibben and May Boeve, 350.org; Michael Brune, Sierra Club; Naomi Klein, author; James Hansen, climate scientist; Tzeporah Berman, author; Jane Kleeb, BOLD Nebraska; Michael Kieschnick, Credo Mobile; Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network; Gus Speth, author and professor of law, Vermont Law School; Maura Cowley, Energy Action Coalition; Rebecca Tarbotton, Rainforest Action Network; Joe Uehlein, Labor Network for Sustainability; Mike Tidwell, Chesapeake Climate Action Network; Michael Mann, Penn State University Earth System Science Center; Stephen Kretzmann, Oil Change International; Brad Johnson, Forecast the Facts; Phil Radford, Greenpeace US; Erich Pica, Friends of the Earth; Cherri Foytlin, Bridge the Gulf Project; Tar Sands Blockade.” Source

[2] “Many thanks, [from] Michael Brune, Sierra Club; Naomi Klein, author; James Hansen, NASA; Tzeporah Berman, author; Jane Kleeb, BOLD Nebraska; Michael Kieschnick, Credo Mobile; Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network; Gus Speth, author and professor of law, Vermont Law School; Maura Cowley, Energy Action Coalition; Rebecca Tarbotton, Rainforest Action Network; Joe Uehlein, Labor Network for Sustainability; Mike Tidwell, Chesapeake Climate Action Network; Michael Mann, Penn State University Earth System Science Center; Bill McKibben and May Boeve, 350.org; Stephen Kretzmann, Oil Change International; Bridge the Gulf Project; Tar Sands Blockade.” Source

[3] This is especially appalling considering that globally, the wealthiest 8% emit 50% of all emissions and the 3 billion poorest people emit essentially nothing (Professor Stephen Pacala of Princeton University). Simply stated, the development of the desperately poor is not in conflict with solving the climate crisis. The wealthiest 15% emit 75% of all emissions and areresponsible for three-quarters of global emissions. The top 500 million people [7.5% of humanity] emit half the greenhouse emissions. The remaining 85% of humanity emit only 25% of all emissions. Theglobally wealthy must solve the crisis as there is absolutely no other way. The emission cuts necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change must be made by the wealthiest 7½%, because they are using almost all of the greenhouse gas-emitting fossil fuels. In contrast to this gross injustice (aka “The American Dream”) we have the “living well” concept by the Bolivian government. There is a growing movement in downshifting – citizens who reject consumerism outright, exchanging materialism for values. Millions are embracing a simple quality of life that builds and nourishes our character rather than eroding it.

[4] How can we argue that it makes sense to feed livestock – to then be eaten by people – instead of feeding people directly while we face a planetary climate emergency … during a global water crisis, while all the pollutants and environmental damage from this industry continue to be externalized onto the planet, people and all life? Why is the environmental movement (and especially the climate justice movement) not vocally opposing a system that does not make sense, in the same way as ethanol does not make sense? Especially given we are in a massive methane emergency … with escalating food crises … escalating food shortages … agriculture that will only continue to decline, not to mention a severe health crisis in North America (half of Americans will be diabetic or pre-diabetic by 2020; Type 2 diabetes is strongly associated with being seriously overweight or obese, and in the US the report estimates 68.3 percent of Americans were overweight or obese in 2008, with this figure rising each year) all while over 1 billion people are starving/dying, with no access to clean water.

 

The John Stauber Interview

johnstauber-newleftnow-

New Left Now

April 25, 2013

 

New Left Now: It’s great to talk with you today, John. I came across your Counterpunch article, The Progressive Movement is a PR Front for Rich Democrats recently, and New Left Now is keen to talk to you about it and related fronts. So, if I understand your take on this, the progressive movement is largely ineffectual, and for some fairly obvious reasons. What role does the Congressional Progressive Caucus have to play in the mix here? Why have we not seen more efficacy in what they purport to do or represent?

Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse | Part I

Counterpunch

April 12, 2013

An investigative report by Cory Morningstar

[Further Reading: Part II | Part III]

Gloat Like Rockefeller When Watching Trains

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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