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FLASHBACK | (1982) Audre Lorde, “Learning from the 60s”

BlackPast.org

 

The Scent of a Wildflower

August 22, 2017

by Serena Marie Raphael

 

The dark veil is lifted, light floods in through your eyelids, that red glow signalling to open them. Not to hesitate, but seize that opportunity to look the fuck around. See the bullshit, look at it, directly. Challenge them. The fake, superficial rubbish they’re peddling. The word drugs they’re slinging. Dealing to consumer, war addicts. Hatred, fear and human flesh they feed of. The bones of the Earth they crave to continue this parasitic, self destructive nightmare.

You scratch out the duct tape, you can see. The lacerations that cover you, evidence of a life lived under empire, a child of imperial slavery. Scars of indoctrination, bruises, marks and damaged tissue cover you like scales.

The fresh blood weeps from open wounds. The moment you see, she has them too. The same gashes and gouges. Open cut pits, fractures and industrial shrapnel, broken limbs and septic symptoms which ache her. Killing her. We feel each other, our connection based on torture this culture carries out. On the skin and bark, evidence of abuse visible.

Teeth marks of educators and faux guardians, imitations of nature. Hold on to the veil, pull it down, torch it. Cut into it, as you pull it down with clenched fists to the point of drawing blood with your nails. Once you have it within your hands you tear it, shred it apart, knowing each split equates to acknowledgment. Exposed as a fucking lie, the awareness is liberating. Freeing. Myths, war lord propaganda perpetuated by culture to maintain the hierarchy of power.

The fables and fantasies told to me crumble away to the expose steel bars. The powerful awakening reality, motivation to blossom into a critical thinker. Fierce contemplator. Empire rebel.

Raining questions fall like confetti, covering me softly, with but one staring back at me. Forcing me to critically ask, how do I resist?

As Arundhati Roy said, “once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out.”

It’s burning holes in me. I refuse to stand in line, take orders from above, place the veil back and mindlessly follow hollow shells. Frantically tearing down my life, piece by piece, I needed to strip myself down, feeling naked and exposed. Fragile to the truth, I found my emotional umbilical cord back to nature. I needed to shed away cultures latches. Firstly, I had to accept responsibility for my life, own up to my being, human animal consumption, my existence on Earth, my privilege, in a commonwealth occupied land, responsibility for my actions, words I speak, steps I take, relationships with nonhumans and humans, love for natural communities and personal behaviour.

I’m in a jail cell, bars so high I can’t see where they end. What do I do? How do I act towards the jailer, my cell mates? How do I act? Steel and concrete encapsulates me, humans with guns guard the halls. How do I act in captivity?

Time is too short, I will not allow them to separate me from my mother. Resist the “one way for all” mindset that as an individual animal I must resist the herd mentality and acknowledge my being as independent.

They cannot control my spiritual love, regardless of the bars the build and threats they shout. As prisoners, they will not break the love and spirit for the wild and education. This form of resistance comes with learning, or rather unlearning, washing away the lies dominant culture lacquered within me, listening to new languages, ways to connect, surviving on her terms, letting go, embracing every second. Noting time as the sun moves through the trees, speckled light determines my biological clock. The digital devices that screams at me, tossed into the ether.

Breathing her air in deep, fully within my lungs, expanding my ribs, her peppermint oils coat my insides. As my vulnerability becomes my strength, the natural paced view of her splendour. Silent pondering wander becomes my daily endeavour. Gradually covering myself in her scent of wild flowers and gum. Smells of soil, ocean salt, sweat and southern precipitation. Mental understanding, acknowledging my misconceptions and fear. Fear of judgement and failing, not living up to the idealistic activist hallmark. But rather, be me, my authentic emotional self, naturally wearing my own skin.

It continues, never ending turns and bends, inclines almost break you, the trail curves on. And so, I keep walking. For that is my stride. Trekking into the unknown, she takes my hand. Holds me close. I feel her, around me, next to me, touching my hips. She kisses my skin with rain from the heavens above. Rain that smells foreign, as it falls and soaks me. Saturated in nature’s unfiltered aroma become my signature. No pen name, no separation from her.

She begins to transform me into something that is her. I am an animal. Wandering through her wild, her crazy, and the untamed, no fences or road marks. These paths have no names. My civilised is fading away, disappearing with every step I take, deeper with her. I can’t feel alone, I’m never alone. Bird’s fly above me, kangaroo’s beside me, emus running in front of me. The soil supporting me, and the wildflowers befriending me. She guides me into her embrace.

I’m home.

I’m starting to understand her story, how she speaks through the breeze, the whisper of the leaves, the rustle. A flow the sounds becomes my interpretation of a new language. My teacher’s, brother’s and sister’s. the relationship I need, the balance. I will earn her trust by bleeding for her, my skin is hers, by walking with her. I will feel her, as she feels me, her beauty.

Attracted to the sound of cascading water, I follow…

 

[Serena Marie Raphael is a 25-year-old Veterinary Nurse inhabiting Western Australia: life-long anarchist, radical ponderer, critical thinker, student of life and wilderness. She is a contributor to the  critical thinking collective, Wrong Kind of Green.]

Amnesty International Is Weaponizing Human Rights For The U.S., NATO

TeleSUR

August 13, 2017

by Tortilla con Sal

 

Nicaragua’s current Sandinista government has been the most successful ever in reducing poverty and defending the right of all Nicaraguans to a dignified life.

Over the last year, in Latin America, Amnesty International has taken their collusion in support of NATO government foreign policy down to new depths of falsehood and bad faith, attacking Venezuela and, most recently, Nicaragua. The multi-million dollar Western NGO claims, “We are independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion.”

That claim is extremely dishonest. Many of Amnesty International’s board and most of the senior staff in its secretariat, which produces the organization’s reports, are individuals with a deeply ideologically committed background in corporate dominated NGOs like PurposeOpen Society InstituteHuman Rights Watch, and many others.

Mexico has over 36,000 people disappeared and abuses by the security forces are constant. Colombia has over four million internally displaced people with over 53 community activists murdered just in 2017. Amnesty International generally puts that horrific reality in context by including criticism of forces challenging those countries’ authorities. By contrast, its reporting on Venezuela and Nicaragua, like those of other similar Western NGOs, reproduces the false claims of those countries’ minority political opposition forces, all supported one way or another by NATO country governments.

In Venezuela and Nicaragua, Western human rights organizations exaggerate alleged government violations while minimizing abuses and provocations by the opposition. This screenshot of Amnesty International’s three main news items on Venezuela from Aug. 9 gives a fair idea of the organization’s heavily politicized, bad faith coverage of recent events.

This is identical false coverage to that of Western mainstream corporate media and most Western alternative media outlets too. Amnesty International’s coverage minimizes opposition murders of ordinary Venezuelans, setting many people on fire, violent attacks on hospitals, universities and even preschools and innumerable acts of intimidation of the general population. That headline “Venezuela: Lethal violence, a state policy to strangle dissent” is a pernicious lie. President Nicolas Maduro explicitly banned the use of lethal force against opposition demonstrations from the start of the latest phase of the opposition’s long drawn out attempted coup back in early April this year.

Likewise, against Nicaragua, Amnesty’s latest report, kicking off their global campaign to stop Nicaragua’s proposed Interoceanic Canal, also begins with a demonstrable lie: “Nicaragua has pushed ahead with the approval and design of a mega-project that puts the human rights of hundreds of thousands of people at risk, without consultation and in a process shrouded in silence” That claim is completely false. Even prior to September 2015, the international consultants’ impact study found that the government and the HKND company in charge of building the canal had organized consultations with, among others, over 4,000 people from rural communities in addition to 475 people from Indigenous communities along the route of the canal and its subsidiary projects. There has been very extensive media discussion and coverage of the project ever since it was announced.

That extremely prestigious ERM consultants’ Environmental and Social Impact study, which together with associated studies cost well over US$100 million, is publicly available in Spanish and in English. Two years ago, it anticipated all the criticisms made by Amnesty International and was accepted by the Nicaraguan government, leading to a long period of analysis and revision that is still under way. Amnesty International excludes that information. Recently, government spokesperson Telemaco Talavera said the continuing process involves a total of 26 further studies. Until the studies are complete, the government is clearly right to avoid commenting on the proposed canal, because the new studies may radically change the overall project.

Amnesty International states, “According to independent studies of civil society organizations, along the announced route of the canal, approximately 24,100 households (some 119,200 people) in the area will be directly impacted.” But, the ERM study notes, “HKND conducted a census of the population living in the Project Affected Areas. The census determined that approximately 30,000 people (or 7,210 families) would need to be physically or economically displaced.” But Amnesty International’s report omits that contradictory detail, demonstrating how irrationally committed they are to the false propaganda of Nicaragua’s political opposition.

Amnesty International claim their research team interviewed “at least 190 people” concerned about the effects of the canal. By contrast, the Nicaraguan government and the HKND company have discussed the project with around 6,000 people in the areas along the route of the canal. In that regard, even the local church hierarchy has criticized the way the Nicaraguan opposition have manipulated rural families on the issue of the Canal. But that fact too, Amnesty International omits. Their whole report is tailor made to supplement the political opposition’s campaign for U.S. intervention via the notorious NICA Act.

The Nicaraguan government has made an express commitment to a fair and just resolution of the issue of expropriations. Its 2015 report on the canal in the context of its National Development Plan, states: “The Nicaraguan government and HKND will guarantee that persons and families on the route of the canal’s construction will have living conditions superior to those they currently have (without the canal). To that end, the Government of Reconciliation and National Unity, via the Project’s Commission, will guarantee not just a fair and transparent indemnification of their properties, via negotiations and direct agreements with each family affected, but furthermore will promote actions to improve their economic conditions, health care, education, housing and employment.”

But the Amnesty International report systematically excludes that and any other sources giving the government’s point of view, claiming it was unable to access primary sources either from the government itself or from among the canal’s numerous advocates. However, secondary sources abound that categorically contradict Amnesty’s advocacy against the canal. The report specifically and extensively attacks the Law 840, facilitating the construction of the canal and its sub-projects, but cynically omits a fundamental, crucial detail, while also failing completely to give relevant social and economic context.

The crucial detail is that Law 840’s Article 18 specifically states the canal project “cannot require any Government Entity to take any action that violates the Political Constitution of the Republic of Nicaragua or the terms of any international treaty of which the State of the Republic of Nicaragua is a party.” Amnesty International completely omits that absolutely crucial part of Law 840 from their report because it makes redundant their advocacy of opposition claims attacking the equity and legality of the Canal’s legal framework. The same is true of the relevant political, social and economic context.

Nicaragua’s political culture is based on dialogue, consensus, and respect for international law. All the main business organizations in Nicaragua and all the main international financial and humanitarian institutions acknowledge that. President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo enjoy levels of approval of over 70 percent. There is a good reason for that massive majority approval. Among many other factors, the precedents of how the Nicaraguan authorities have resolved the relocation of populations affected by large projects, for example, the Tumarin hydroelectric project, completely contradict the scaremongering of the Nicaraguan opposition propaganda, so glibly recycled by Amnesty International.

Nicaragua’s current Sandinista government has been the most successful ever in reducing poverty and defending the right of all Nicaraguans to a dignified life. To do so, among many other initiatives, it has mobilized record levels of direct foreign investment. In that context, Law 840 explicitly protects the huge potential investments in the proposed canal, while at the same time implicitly guaranteeing constitutional protections. Similarly, ever since the announcement of the canal, Ortega has repeatedly, publicly reassured people in Nicaragua that any families who may eventually be relocated should the canal go ahead will get every necessary help and assistance from the government.

Just as it has done in the case of Venezuela, on Nicaragua, Amnesty International misrepresents the facts, cynically promoting the positions of the country’s right wing political opposition. In Latin America, under cover of phony concern for peoples’ basic rights, in practice Amnesty International, like almost all the big multi-millionaire Western NGOs, gives spurious humanitarian cover to the political agenda of the US and allied country corporate elites and their governments. The destructive, catastrophic effects of Amnesty International’s recent role in the crises affecting Syria, Ukraine and now Venezuela, are living proof of that.

 

[Tortilla con Sal is an anti-imperialist collective based in Nicaragua producing information in various media on national, regional and international affairs. In Nicaragua, we work closely with grass roots community organizations and cooperatives. We strongly support the policies of sovereign national development and regional integration based on peace and solidarity promoted by the member countries of ALBA.]

Global False Witness – Targeting Nicaragua

Tortilla con Sal

August 2, 2017

 

“Models attend Alexander Soros Foundation’s Global Witness ‘Unmasked’ Gala on July 7, 2012 in Bridgehampton, New York.” Source: Getty Images [Further reading].

Global Witness is a well-established environmental and human rights non-governmental organization based in Britain. As with many other similar organizations, its reports often figure in news media as authoritative sources on international issues. Ever since the 1980s and, increasingly so, after the turn of the century, the status of NGOs as trustworthy information sources on foreign affairs has become increasingly untenable as they have been more and more co-opted by corporate interests and governments to promote the Western elites’ neocolonial global policy agenda.

In the case of Nicaragua, in 2016 Global Witness produced a brief, flawed and unreliable account of land conflicts in Nicaragua’s Northern Caribbean Autonomous Region in a report called “On Dangerous Ground”. In June 2017, they produced a report called “Defenders of the Earth”, with a section on Nicaragua even more poorly researched and false than the previous one.Three main reasons stand out to dismiss the latest Global Witness report on Nicaragua as unreliable and in bad faith.

Firstly, the report itself is clearly biased and flawed, from even a cursory analysis of its references and their sources by anyone familiar with Nicaragua. Secondly, the organization’s human and material resources all come from a very narrow managerial class and corporate funding base, overwhelmingly advocating the foreign policy positions of the United States government and its allies. Thirdly, the history of Global Witness clearly indicates its categorical bias in favor of NATO country governments’ policy positions in the countries that figure in its reports and too its systemic defense of the very corporate capitalism whose destructive effects Global Witness superficially and selectively criticizes.

Global Witness sources on Nicaragua

Before looking at the text of the false Global Witness attack on Nicaragua, it is worth looking at the sources they identify in their footnotes, of which there are 23, composed of a total of 44 references. For anyone familiar with Nicaraguan politics and society since the war of the 1980s many of the sources are wearily familiar and readily identifiable as anti-Sandinista, for example, the virulently anti-Sandinista La Prensa newspaper. Some of the references are duplicates and some disguise the fact that while apparently distinct, ultimately the information they provide comes from one single source. (Here’s a link to the relevant spreadsheet for anyone interested in a more detailed analysis.)

Of the 44 references, some of which are duplicates, not one represents the view of the Nicaraguan authorities or others criticized in the report or any source sympathetic to them. 16 references are to sources inside Nicaragua politically opposed to the Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. 25 of the sources are external to Nicaragua but with a long record identifying them as ideologically opposed to the Sandinista government. Of those 25 sources, one might argue that the Washington-based Interamerican Commission for Human Rights or the EFE Spanish language news agency are impartial, but their record is indisputably biased against Nicaragua’s Sandinista authorities.

For all but imperialist ideologues, the Paris based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) has been discredited in particular, most recently, by its flagrant partisan bias in favor of NATO country government policies attacking the populations of Libya and Syria. One source, a reference to the law authorizing Nicaragua’s Canal, is completely neutral. Only one media source, El Nuevo Diario, is generally independent. Two references are to sources within the Western environmental scientific lobby, which has its own set of highly questionable biases, prejudices and neocolonial hypocrisy.

Methodology”

As if by way of justifying this desperately unfair selection of sources, Global Witness also offer an account of what they call their “methodology”. They aver, “We have recorded data about the cases using the HURIDOCS Event Standard Formats and Micro-Thesauri, an approach which is widely used to manage and analyse material of this nature.”

That Global Witness claim is demonstrably untrue. Whatever their aspirations they certainly did not use the HURIDOCS approach.

HURIDOCS (Human Rights Information and Documentation Systems, International) is a European NGO established in 1982 to facilitate networking between human rights organizations around the world. HURIDOCS says its ?specific role in this capacity-building process lies in improving access to and the dissemination of human rights information through more effective, appropriate and compatible methods and techniques of information handling. HURIDOCS recognises that we live in an age of tremendous advances in information and communication technologies. There is the need to master these technologies to aid us in our human rights work. At the same time, we must be conscious of the fact that the technologies to be applied should be appropriate and responsive to the main focus of the mandates of human rights organisation”

HURIDOCS exposition of their approach includes the following definitions:

Fact-finding is the process of identifying the violations in one event, and establishing the facts relevant to these violations. Fact-finding and investigation are terms that are used interchangeably.

Documentation is the process of systematically recording the results of an investigation or fact-finding in relation to an event or number of events. Fact-finding and documentation are organically related and should not be viewed as separate processes.

Monitoring is closely observing a given situation in society over a long period of time to see whether human rights standards are met. To carry out monitoring, investigation and documentation of a large and/or representative number of events are conducted.”

Global Witness are not in compliance with the HURIDOCS approach because their practice in their reporting on Nicaragua demonstrably violates all of these definitions.

Their fact-finding or investigation is so heavily biased as to make it impossible for them to establish the facts. Consequently, thanks to this gross fact finding bias, their documentation is partial, often inaccurate and categorically incomplete. Nor do they show any sign of having done due diligence in monitoring consistently over time via ” investigation and documentation of a large and/or representative number of events” or the context of those events in Nicaragua.

Other theoretical considerations

Apart from these chronic procedural failures, other theoretical considerations cry out for clarification.

Global Witness say, “This report is based on research on killings and enforced disappearances of land and environmental defenders, who we define as people who take peaceful action to protect land or environmental rights”.

But in a bitter property dispute between competing communities, clarifying who is defending whose rights becomes a fundamentally important question. Certainly in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast, unscrupulous Miskito community leaders are themselves involved in provoking these property disputes by illegally selling land to rural families migrating in search of a better life. Miskito gangs have attacked and murdered many such people, a factor not even mentioned by Global Witness. They completely evade the issue of identifying in a responsible, proportionate way whose rights are being violated.

Similarly, Global Witness state, “cases were identified by searching and reviewing reliable sources of publicly online information”. But  Global Witness obviously used heavily politicized criteria for deciding what is a reliable source, because not one single reference in their report on Nicaragua gives the Nicaraguan authorities’ side of the story and only one reference can fairly be described as ideologically independent. That renders completely incredible the phony Global Witness claim to systematic research.

They claim their investigation is systematic because “We set up search engine alerts using keywords and conducted other searches online to identify relevant cases across the world.” However, in the case of a small country like Nicaragua, a genuinely systematic search can readily be done covering a much wider range of sources than those accessed by Global Witness without recourse to modish, geeky “search engine alerts”. The poverty of sources evident in the report’s footnotes make Global Witness’s procedure look ridiculous.

Global Witness claim they “verify” the results of their investigation because “Where possible, we checked with in-country or regional partners to gather further information”. But they only cross-checked with ideologically and politically biased organizations, apparently using the same highly questionable, politically compromised sources they cite in their report.

Karl Popper, philosophical darling of the Open Society ideology embraced by Global Witness, explained over 50 years ago in “Conjectures and Refutations”  that verification is essentially authoritarian. He argued that a truly scientific investigation requires conjecture and falsification, a search for errors rather than for  justification.

If one goes along with Popper, it should surprise no one that Global Witness uses an essentially authoritarian methodology. Self-evidently, their job is not to discover the facts or to impartially establish the truth via a hypothetic-deductive Popper-style process , but to project a manipulative version of events justifying ideologically loaded interpretations favored by their corporate funders, an inherent bias understandably unacknowledged by Global Witness.

Nor is it surprising to learn from their account of their methodology, “While we have made every effort to identify and investigate cases in line with the methodology and criteria, it is important to add that our research mostly relies on public information and that we have not been able to conduct detailed national-level searches in all countries.”

That is not true either. Global Witness did not make “every effort” to investigate cases in line with their alleged methodology and criteria because they are flagrantly out of compliance with the definitions advanced by HURIDOCS.

A broader range of sources

Nor is is true that they were unable to conduct a detailed national-level search in the case of Nicaragua, because they could easily have included references from sources that contradict much of the information in the Global Witness report. The following is a brief sample of many other relevant sources, gleaned in a few hours searching on the Internet :

 

Even this very limited sample of sources, put together from just a few hours searching on the Internet, gives a very different picture to the one presented by Global Witness. So it is false of Global Witness to suggest they lack the resources to be able to stress test and falsify the version of events they have published in their report. Given the tremendous resources and the numerous skilled, experienced, talented people working at Global Witness, only abject intellectual dishonesty explains their failure to report faithfully on Nicaragua

Incoherent claims

Be that as it may, based on their cynically biased sources and their absurdly deficient methodology, Global Witness proceed in their report to make the following claims:

* 11 defenders killed in 2016 – making Nicaragua the most dangerous country in the world per capita

But, as independent journalist John Perry and others have pointed out, none of those people killed can fairly be described as having being killed for defending the environment. They were in property disputes and all of them were killed either directly or indirectly  in the course of those property conflicts. This is true in particular of the case cited by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (CIDH) , that of Bernicia Dixon Peralta, her husband Feliciano Benlis Flores and their 11 year old son Feliciano Benlis Dixon. Perry mentions some of the context. More context of the property disputes in the RAAN can be found herehere and here. Not a single person mentioned by Global Witness died in Nicaragua for defending the environment in the way that someone like Berta Cáceres did. Even so Global Witness have tended disingenuously to implicitly compare the situation in Nicaragua with that in Honduras, in particular with Berta’s murder.

The bad faith with which they do so is clear from the second claim in their report on Nicaragua:

* 10 of those murdered were indigenous people, with most killed in conflicts with settler communities over land. Meanwhile rural ‘campesino’ defenders faced threats, harassment and attacks, including for opposing the construction of an inter-oceanic canal.

Global Witness fails to make clear that groups from the indigenous Miskito people, whom Global Witness inaccurately portray as defenseless environmental defenders, are themselves guilty of murderous attacks against migrants settling land which in many cases the migrants apparently believed they had bought legitimately. Furthermore, the Global Witness report deliberately and falsely confuses the very specific situation of these property conflicts in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast with protests over the possible displacement of communities along the still to be exactly defined route of the proposed Inter-oceanic Canal 300 kilometers to the south. Global Witness unscrupulously frame their distorted version of events in the two regions to give the impression that in both cases the Nicaraguan authorities may in some way be directly or indirectly responsible for the violence.

In fact, even the New York Times has acknowledged in their otherwise generally hostile anti-Sandinista reporting that the Nicaraguan authorities do what they can with limited resources to protect the rights of indigenous peoples in the Northern Carribean Autonomous Region.

The situation along the route of the Canal is very different from that in the RAAN. Protests against the Canal are exploited by Nicaragua’s political opposition and groups participating in the protest demonstrations have damaged property and attacked police officers. In relation to this situation, completely separate from the property disputes more than 300km to the north, Global Witness claims:

* Activists were increasingly criminalized: foreign environmentalists were expelled, community leaders arrested and legislation passed restricting freedoms of speech and association.

However in the very next paragraph, the report quotes anti-Canal activist Francisca Ramirez saying, ““We have carried out 87 marches, demanding that they respect our rights and we have had no response. The only response we have had is the bullet.”

Thus, the Global Witness allegation that rights to freedom of association are restricted is immediately contradicted by Francisca Ramirez declaring her group has organized over 80 public demonstrations to express their views.

Similarly, Ramirez claims “The only response we have had is the bullet.” But, in the next paragraph, we learn “a member of her community lost an eye and another was shot in the stomach”.

Thus, after 87 demonstrations, some of which supposedly involved many thousands of participants and in which “The only response we have had is the bullet”, Ramirez cites precisely two people suffering serious injury and only one of them with a gunshot wound. Ramirez omits that the protesters on the marches she organizes go armed with machetes and home-made mortars. They block highways, intimidate ordinary people going about their business, damage property and attack police officers.

In no Western country would that be tolerated without, to put it mildly, a robust response from the police and security forces. Even so, Global Witness promote Francisca Ramirez’s account as if she and her movement were non-political and non-violent, which they are not. But Global Witness excludes those facts.

Likewise, as John Perry has pointed out, the foreign environmentalists expelled from Nicaragua were involved in a suspicious incident involving a small explosion. Again, a reasonable question to Global Witness is why they excluded this highly relevant information given that in Britain or the United States any foreigner, especially any non-white foreigner, involved in such a suspicious incident would face prosecution and a potential jail term under those countries wide-ranging anti-terrorist laws.

Inaccuracies and falsehoods

Mixed in with these disingenuous, incoherent claims, Global Witness also allege, presumably as supporting context, that the proposed Canal “would force up to 120,000 indigenous people from their land”. This outrageous falsehood is sourced from the pro-NATO, right-wing dominated European Parliament, but is categorically contradicted by the relevant multi-million dollar Environmental and Social Impact report by the extremely prestigious ERM company based in the UK. The falsity of that claim is further confirmed by the Canal concessionary HKND company’s representative Bill Wild who argues that the route of the Canal has been altered to take local concerns into account in such a way that fewer than thirty indigenous families will be directly affected.

Overall, ERM reckons that up to 7210 families or around 30,000 people are likely to be displaced along the whole route of the Canal, over 270 kilometres. The scandalously untrue figure quoted by Global Witness is propaganda from Nicaragua’s political opposition who are exploiting Ramirez’s quasi-celebrity status among Western environmentalists to amplify overseas the marginal support for their unpopular position against the Canal in Nicaragua. That fact is reflected in the incoherence of the arguments set out by Ramirez and her backers in Nicaragua’s political opposition.

If 120,000 people were really going to be displaced by the proposed Canal then the figure of 30,000 protestors from around the country the same political opposition regularly quote to describe national opposition to the Canal just does not add up. Quoting that same opposition figure, Global Witness state, “Francisca has rallied campesino groups from around the country who will be adversely affected by the canal to call for a meaningful say in its development. In June 2015, 30,000 people gathered for an anti-canal protest – Francisca organized 40 trucks so her community could attend.”

In Nicaragua, the cost of hiring a truck or a bus to carry 60 people or a similar amount of material goods on a round trip of 100km is around US$120, while a round trip of 300km costs about US$175. So hiring 40 diesel-guzzling trucks and buses with their drivers will have cost a minimum of US$4000. But Ramirez is an impoverished mother of five from a similarly impoverished community. Even if only one quarter of the more than 80 protests Ramirez says she has helped organized involved similar costs, the total amount involved runs into tens of thousands of dollars just for Ramirez’s community. Whatever the exact financial accounting, Ramirez is clearly supported by a great deal more than her own resources and those of her community.

Even so, Global Witness completely evade the obvious conclusion to be drawn from that incoherence implicit in their report. Namely, that Francisca Ramirez, far from being a simple altruistic community organizer defending her home is in fact a savvy political opposition activist promoting an inaccurate image of herself as well as concealing her real political agenda. Ramirez alleges that she and her family have been attacked and harassed. Supposing those accusations are true, no convincing evidence points to involvement of the government or the security forces and certainly not the HKND company in charge of planning and building the Canal. That contrasts with the situation of activists in Honduras or Guatemala who can in most cases offer reliable details with corroboration from witnesses to identify their assailants.

The press report cited by Global Witness contains no credible evidence from Ramirez except her say so, no corroborating evidence, no witnesses. Likewise the report’s reference to Frontline Defenders’ advocacy for Ramirez links to a summary profile including the false opposition propaganda, repeated by Global Witness, that the proposed inter-oceanic Canal has been imposed without consultation. But in fact preliminary consultations took place in July 2014 and subsequently a continuing consultative process has developed both before and after the publication of ERM’s Environmental and Social Impact Study, which recommended improvements to the consultation process which both HKND and the government accepted.

The Study did also criticize the handling of the expropriation issue and recommended that international standards be applied to any expropriation of land (reckoned to total 1359km2 of dry land out of Nicaragua’s total  area of 139,375km2) that may eventually be decided. Those ERM recommendations were accepted by the  government and HKND, and the subsequent consultative process has led to several important changes in the precise route of the Canal and to more detailed environmental studies which have been one reason for the delay in the Canal’s construction.

Frontline Defenders’ advocacy of Ramirez, cited by Global Witness, is based on her own account of events with no apparent attempt at corroboration despite the role of Ramirez as a front person for an anti-government campaign openly supported and facilitated by Nicaragua’s political opposition. In the course of framing their benign, heroic account of Francisca Ramirez, Global Witness present an account of the Canal’s origins and procedural progress which repeats virtually word for word the extremely hostile and systematically disingenuous interpretation of Nicaragua’s political opposition.

Garbage in – Garbage out

Winding up their version of the falsehoods, disinformation and propaganda copied from Nicaragua’s political opposition, Global Witness assert, “Resistance to the canal takes place against a terrifying backdrop of multiple murders in indigenous communities elsewhere in the country which have stood up against the arrival of agricultural settlers and demanded the government guarantee their land rights. Even requests by the Inter-American human rights system haven’t spurred the government into protecting community activists from being disappeared, mutilated and murdered.”

But, as is clear from reviewing a wider selection of sources of information in relation to the complicated land situation in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast, indigenous people themselves are responsible for murderous violence and their own leaders are implicated in corrupt land dealings. It is simply untrue to label the murders as being generically the result of attacks on community activists in the sense in which that term is commonly understood. The general consensus is that the Nicaraguan government has done more than any government in the region, with the possible exception of Venezuela, to protect indigenous people’s land rights with almost a third of the national territory designated as indigenous peoples’ communal land. Global Witness’s allegations on that score are demonstrably inaccurate and grossly unfair.

Similarly, the suggestion that the Canal protest movement is vulnerable to the kind of murderous violence prevalent in Nicaragua’s Northern Caribbean Autonomous Region is egregiously false. The protesters themselves have used violence and intimidation against the general population to carry out their protest actions, so far, thankfully, with no fatalities.

In summary, the Global Witness report in its section on Nicaragua uses politically and ideologically prejudiced sources which could readily have been supplemented with sources offering a contradictory account. The sources used themselves do not always corroborate the claims made in the report. Apart from the ideological bias, various substantive inaccuracies render the report extremely unreliable. The report’s conclusions are flawed because its initial premises are false – Garbage In, Garbage Out.

It remains true that there are serious property conflicts in Nicaragua’s Northern Caribbean Autonomous Region which the government is attempting to address despite a lack of administrative, judicial and security resources, against an intricate social, economic and political context and also the constantly changing opportunistic interaction of corrupt business interests with local indigenous peoples’ leaders, and unscrupulous local officials.

In the case of Nicaragua’s proposed Interoceanic Canal, it is true various issues, including the issue of expropriation, have to be clarified. Protestors claim they want dialog, but Francisca Ramirez sets the precondition that the Canal be scrapped.

The Canal’s critics never acknowledge that Nicaragua is already suffering chronic environmental degradation. The government and many environmentalists argue that the Canal will provide Nicaragua with the resources it needs to reforest deforested areas, better manage its water resources and reverse the current deterioration in Lake Nicaragua, while at the same time helping to reduce poverty.

Foreign and national environmentalists offer no viable proposals to enable Nicaragua to reverse the socio-economic and climate processes already driving accelerating environmental degradation in the country.

Protestors against the Canal exaggerate the number of people likely to be displaced by its construction and often dishonestly claim people affected by displacement will not be compensated. Meanwhile, they themselves are among those responsible for the environmental degradation that will definitely get progressively worse without the resources the Canal is projected to provide.

Corporate funders and the elite NGO revolving door

Featured photo in the Washington Life Magazine (“The insider’s guide to power. philanthropy and society since 1991”) by Tony Powell. Global Witness CEO Gillian Caldwell (far right) sits beside Manana Freyre. Freyre is the 20th General Counsel and Senior Vice President of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. [Source] Berim Fellows Program. Hendi Residence. November 21, 2014.

Manana Freyre, Gillian Caldwell. Photo by Tony Powell. Berim Fellows Program. Hendi Residence. November 21, 2014. “WASHINGTON LIFE is the premier luxury-lifestyle magazine in the National Capital Region, published since 1991 by well-connected life-long Washingtonians who have exceptional insight into the community. Through our established social networks, loyal readership base and long standing relationships, WASHINGTON LIFE offers its advertisers a unique way to target discerning consumers.”
 

Few plausible explanations except intellectual dishonesty offer themselves for the desperate failure of Global Witness, firstly to adequately research the issues involved or, secondly, supposing they in fact did so, to acknowledge the complexity of the issues they examine. Global Witness frankly explain in their financial statement for 2016, they had income of over US$13 million. So they do not lack resources. Similarly, their Board, their Advisory Board and their CEO are all very experienced, smart, talented people. So even if they depend on younger inexperienced staff to do the research, their senior staff presumably review the product before publication. Lack of experience is not a reasonable explanation for the report’s glib dishonesty and inaccuracy.

A review of Global Witness funders reveals that for 2016 the two biggest funders were the Open Society Foundation of George Soros associated with the numerous so called color revolutions in support of NATO country government foreign policy objectives and the Omidyar Network of Pierre Omidyar whose links with US intelligence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton are well known. Less well known is Omidyar’s support for NGOs that fomented the successful right wing coup in Ukraine. The complete list of Global Witness funders is available in the financial statement for 2016 on their web site. That document reports that in 2016 Global Witness received US$3.4 million from the George Soros Open Society Foundation, US$1.5 million from Pierre Omidyar’s Omidyar Network, US$840,000 from the Ford Foundation and over US$3 million from various European NATO governments plus Sweden.

All of these funding sources are unrelenting ideological opponents of Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. A broad pro-NATO bias is very clear in the composition of the Global Witness Board and Advisory Board and CEO. Their profiles make clear they are almost all luminaries from the Western elite neocolonial non governmental sector, while many have a strong corporate business background as well. Just as there is a revolving door between government and corporate business and finance in North America and Europe, so too there is also a revolving door within that region’s elite NGO sector, a sector very clearly serving NATO country foreign policy goals.

Cory Morningstar has exposed the pro-NATO global political agenda of organizations like US based organizations like Avaaz and Purpose. In the case of Global Witness, their Board member Jessie Tolka is also a board member of Purpose and too of 350.org: Current Global Witness CEO Gillian Caldwell was also a very successful Campaigns Director of Sky1, now merged into 350.0rg. Cory Morningstar argues, “the most vital purpose of the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC) has not been to destroy the ecocidal economic system that enslaves us while perpetuating and ensuring infinite wars. Rather, the key purpose of the NPIC is and has always been to protect this very system it purports to oppose from being dismantled. Hence the trillions of dollars pumped into the NPIC by the establishment.”

Confirmation of Cory Morningstar’s argument can be found in the history of Global Witness itself. For example on Libya, despite their superficial anti-corporate gloss, Global Witness relentlessly apply NATO country government criteria here and here. Also on Ukraine, Global Witness project the same anti-corporate message while simultaneously reinforcing NATO country government propaganda. Global Witness has also received US National Endowment for Democracy grants in Cambodia and in Liberia.

Also, a decade ago, writers Keith Harmon Snow and Rick Hines questioned Global Witness’ corporate links in relation to the “Blood Diamonds” controversy and the organization’s role in relation to De Beers and also Maurice Templesman’s diamond companies. No doubt more thorough research would reveal information casting similar doubt on Global Witness’s integrity and independence.

Conclusion

This latest Global Witness report in relation to Nicaragua is  important because it is so readily falsifiable. It thus presents a clear litmus test : no news and information media can use the Global Witness report’s material in relation to Nicaragua without compromising their credibility.

The bias and inaccuracies in the section on Nicaragua in the Global Witness 2017 report call into doubt the integrity of the whole report. No news or information media interested in accuracy or honest reporting can conscientiously rely on Global Witness as a source without thorough cross checking and systematically comparing, contrasting and evaluating information from sources giving a different account of the events and issues in question.

Global Witness is neither independent nor trustworthy. It clearly has a strong but unacknowledged neocolonial political agenda promoting the regional policy goals of NATO country governments, while, conversely, attacking governments and other regional actors opposed to those goals.

NGOs like Global Witness, International Crisis Group, Human Rights Watch, Transparency International and so many others, self-evidently fabricate psychological warfare inputs serving NATO country government policy, itself shaped by the same corporate elites that fund the class of NGOS of which Global Witness is a part.

They operate as the soft, extramural arm of NATO country governments’ foreign policy psychological warfare offensives, targeting liberal and progressive audiences to ensure their acquiescence in overseas aggression and intimidation against governments and movements targeted by NATO. To that end, they deceitfully exploit liberal and progressive susceptibilities in relation to environmental, humanitarian and human rights issues.

Their psychological warfare role supporting the NATO government’s aggressive destabilization of Ivory Coast, Libya and Syria in 2011, of Ukraine in 2014,  and the NATO country government’s low intensity war against Venezuela ever since 2013, as well as the campaign against Cuba over five decades, has been unmistakable.

More broadly their systemic ideological role is very obviously to protect and defend global corporate capitalism while superficially and selectively questioning and criticizing some of its worst abuses. Cory Morningstar’s insight bears repeating “the key purpose of the non-profit industrial complex is and has always been to protect this very system it purports to oppose”.

The coverage of Nicaragua in the latest 2017 Global Witness report is a text book example of that sinister fact.

El Extravío Político de los “Progresistas” que llaman Dictador a Maduro

Mision Verdad

AGOSTO 2 2017

by Bruno Sgarzini

 

Venezuela hoy es un recipiente donde se ponen etiquetas como “dictadura”, “irrespeto a los derechos humanos”, “mal gobierno”, “falta de democracia”, “hambre”, “violencia” y “muerte”. Identificándolas todas con el nombre del Gobierno de Nicolás Maduro cuando no las endilgan al chavismo a secas.

Este recipiente por lo general se le tira a una fuerza política que sea fácilmente identificada con el chavismo para demonizarla. Como se vio en la elección de España con la aparición de Podemos y su mal manejo de esta situación con declaraciones lamentables, como las de Pablo Iglesias considerando a Leopoldo López un preso político por fomentar la destrucción del Ministerio Público en 2014.

Hoy este fenómeno se ha recrudecido debido a la celeridad con la que Estados Unidos necesita imponer que Maduro es un dictador para avanzar con su agenda en Venezuela. Ampliamente sabido es que cuando Barack Obama preparaba la invasión a Libia sucedió lo mismo con Gadafi, avalado por la izquierda y la derecha por igual. Y hoy ese país es un mercado de esclavos a cielo abierto.

Entonces se da la casualidad de que en América Latina comienza a suceder la misma maniobra en países como Brasil, Argentina y Ecuador, por citar los ejemplos más visibles donde el progresismo ha perdido completamente el poder y está en serios problemas para detener las reformas económicas neoliberales que se les vienen encima, como los recortes en programas sociales y la hipoteca del futuro de sus países vía deuda y privatizaciones.

Sin embargo, bastante demostrativo es el caso de lo que sucede en Argentina, en medio de una campaña electoral donde el principal activo del macrismo es desviar la atención con Venezuela, porque hay sectores de la progresía que, asediados por la derecha, se ven obligados a calificar a Maduro como un dictador, entre líneas, para ubicarse automáticamente en la cola de Trump, McMaster y el resto de personajes listos a quebrar a Venezuela en mil pedazos.

Sus argumentos, calcados a los de Eva Golinger, se resumen en que Venezuela se encuentra en una zona gris, donde ninguna de las partes respeta las reglas institucionales. Lo que según ellos es responsabilidad de Nicolás Maduro por no permitir elecciones abiertas y libres, en un momento donde la estrategia contra el país es utilizar este pretexto para vaciar de contenido las instituciones. Bajo el fin de transformar el Estado en una cáscara donde, al igual que Brasil y México, se permita la reconversión de la fuerza laboral de los venezolanos en trabajadores de maquila y sus recursos naturales en baratijas en el mercado mundial, violando todas las normas de la institucionalidad democrática que dicen defender.

Estos sectores progresistas, además, le exigen al chavismo que respete ser eliminado física, moral y simbólicamente con todos sus dirigentes presos. Pero claro está que por una vía democrática de todo o nada, donde no se discuta el modelo de sociedad de fondo, en un contexto en el que el mismo Consejo Nacional Electoral ha abierto dos vías electorales para definir el conflicto y la parálisis institucional: las elecciones a la Asamblea Nacional Constituyente y las regionales del 10 diciembre de este año.

Así es que al chavismo se le critica ser audaz por buscar reinventar el mismo Estado que pretende destruirse desde fuera con anuencia de la oposición local. Con una votación donde las postales son las de millones de personas yendo a sufragar amenazadas físicamente y secuestradas por sus propios vecinos, cuando no por los paramilitares colombianos de frontera, que pretenden iniciar un conflicto civil en ese área territorial, acorde a lo que dijera el jefe de la CIA, Mike Pompeo, sobre el trabajo con este país para una “transición democrática” en Venezuela.

Estos progresistas de clase media se refugian en sus mejores lugares cómodos, sus edificios con vistas panorámicas en grandes urbes, y desde ahí es que se suman al coro para decirle dictador a Maduro con estrambóticas explicaciones académicas para ni siquiera asumir su posición real. Según ellos, Leopoldo López y Antonio Ledezma son, además, presos políticos y en ningún momento se detienen a observar cómo dirigentes opositores han aupado a grupos que queman personas vivas y quieren iniciar una guerra. Porque, como decimos, el único culpable es Maduro y el chavismo, quienes se resisten a hacer una elección abierta como las regionales del 10 de diciembre, paradójicamente.

La cobardía tiene ese lugar común del que no se vuelveEsta crítica cómoda, para sentirse bien con uno mismo ante el pésimo momento regional, en realidad esconde un extravío político mucho más grande en esta matriz de pensamiento progresista, influenciada por institutos de la socialdemocracia europea. Hablamos de la imposibilidad de comprender y actuar sobre la transformación completa de los Estados en la región para evitar su total desguace, una vez que estos buscan ser asimilados en el mercado global para volver a “crecer económicamente” con acuerdos de libre comercio.

Por lo que Venezuela es una hermosa etiqueta de autoconsolación, y el chavismo es todo aquello que estos sectores no pueden idear ni hacer en sus propias realidades concretas, en un momento en el que se han retirado de la militancia activa hacia empleos para producir ideas y opiniones para la maquinaria de sentido común dominante, de izquierda y de derecha, cuando sus propios países son entregados a grandes bancos y pierden cualquier tipo de mínima soberanía.

No es para menos esta crisis de pensamiento, de comprensión real del momento regional, en la que para ellos sólo importan los dirigentes, no los millones de chavistas asediados de muerte, porque es lo que explica que, caído Correa en Ecuador, no haya ningún gobierno progresista en el hemisferio que tenga cuadros altos de conducción que sean de clase media, ni tributen directamente a este pensamiento, por más que los tengan alrededor como consejeros.

Una verdadera crisis de ideas, de construcción de poder, que busca en fórmulas de márketing electoral como Podemos un sustituto a estrategias concretas, en un mundo donde el poder global actúa sobre la política local y nacional para torpedearle cualquier acción que resuelva los problemas reales de la gente a partir de rediscutir su lugar en el mundo.

Justamente lo que hoy le sucede al chavismo en Venezuela, en su asedio, es esto mismo, a partir de utilizar sus puntos débiles en la administración, y las incongruencias en discurso y acción para destruirlo como fuerza política, con aval ahora de parte del progresismo que habla más de Leopoldo López que de las amenazas de Donald Trump.

Sin embargo, el chavismo debería tomar nota de estas posiciones porque parte de sus errores, en lo enunciativo y la aproximación al problema venezolano, parten de esta misma matriz progresista que hoy no puede actuar sobre la realidad, y ha quedado totalmente carcomida por el avance de la historia. Así lo muestran intelectuales, ideólogos y arribistas asesores de esta misma matriz, que viven de usar a Chávez como baratija, para generar influencia en un circuito cultural del chavismo, que si no se transforma ante la luz de estas posiciones, está solamente destinado a comer los recursos del Estado, sin generar las respuestas ni iniciativas para afrontar los embates contra Venezuela.

En ese sentido, la convocatoria a la ANC para reencausar el conflicto a la vía política es más propio del chavismo que las fantasías incumplibles de sectores, cuya única utopía actual es que sus empleados domésticos tengan seguro social para sentirse menos inseguros de sí mismos, como si fueran tutores de pobres por la vía positiva (eso que Diego Sequera llama secamente como la dictadura del bien).

Porque si a Venezuela la bloquean por ser una dictadura, ellos estarán lo suficientemente cómodos en sus edificios siguiendo las noticias por Twitter con un pote de helado en la mano y un Le Monde Diplomatic en la mesa para contrastar “fuentes”. La cobardía tiene ese lugar común del que no se vuelve.

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¿Por qué es necesario derribar a Venezuela?

http://misionverdad.com/columnistas/por-que-es-necesario-derribar-a-venezuela

 

Why Are All the Black Faces in Conservation in the Background?

Oyunga Pala

May 3, 2017

 

Nairobi National Park is the only park on earth bordering a capital city. It is the world’s wildlife capital and one afternoon in December 2016, it was celebrating 70 years of existence. Nairobi National park was the first gazetted park in the country, started in 1946. Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) was throwing an evening party in the park to commemorate the event. The small gathering, comprised conservationists, friends of Nairobi national park, assorted Kenyans who earn a living in the wildlife industry and uniformed KWS staffers who appeared to be attending more out of protocol than choice.

There was an air of resignation about the place. Out at the Impala observation point, a panoramic view of open savanna grassland, guests mingled awaiting the arrival of the dignitaries as the catering unit from the Ole Sereni hotel hurried about setting up.

The Impala viewpoint offers a compelling sight and I trained my eyes, trying to spot some wildlife. A few KWS staffers who were gathered all seemed to be taking a good long look into the horizon. One wildlife photographer, captured the sentiment with a nostalgic comment,

“This used to be the place to take the best pictures. Now instead of shooting animals, we will be shooting the SGR”.

There were few chuckles. Mostly at the inevitability of the Chinese built Standard Gauge Railway line changing the ecosystem of the park forever. I sensed a deep sense of failure among some KWS staffers, many voicing their concern in hushed tones, certain the park would not survive the onslaught of ‘development’.

The ceremony was running fashionably late and I bumped into former KWS director Juluis Kipng’etich, who is now the Uchumi CEO in the parking lot.  Juluis Kipng’etich (Kip) was the poster child of Kenyan conservation during his tenure as director at Kenya Wildlife Service from 2005 to 2012 when he resigned to take up a position at Equity Bank.

Julius Kipngetich in the KWS strong room. Courtesy of Vanity Fair magazine.

Kip was credited with transforming KWS from a malfunctioning organisation into a respected corporate brand. During my stint as the editor of the now defunct Adam magazine, we had Kipng’etich on the cover.

There was a vibrancy to Kip in the midst of the lethargy in public service that we had not witnessed previously. But what made him material for a cover story, was the refreshing face of a competent African, getting the conservation accolades for a change.

I was in attendance, when he unveiled a Heroes statue in memory of KWS officers who had died on the frontier. KWS was on the move then. Today, not so much. Kipng’etich was reflective when I asked him about the anniversary celebrations.

“It feels like we are attending a funeral”.

When the ceremony eventually started, the KWS director Kitili Mbathi anchored his address around a breakfast in the park special visit made by the Togolese president Faure Gnassingb’e and the special place Nairobi holds as the only city in the world with a national park. The guest of honour Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Prof Judy Wakhungu managed to deliver an optimistic speech without making a single reference to the impending railway line construction.

The audience listened, all too aware of the elephant in the room that everyone was pretending not to see.

I was the guest of Jim Justus Nyamu, the founder of the Elephant Neighbors Centre, who had become the face of a campaign dubbed “Ivory belongs To Elephants”. Nyamu was a former KWS elephant scientist and researcher whose primary job was reduced to counting elephants and tracking their movement. He eventually resigned to start his own organisation, once he realised the limitation of the existing conservation model.

The big beasts that had for centuries, roamed the country on dedicated paths were now in constant conflict with ordinary rural folk. The narrative of protecting elephants for tourist dollars was not persuasive among local people suffering loss of property and lives after encounters with elephants. There was a big disconnection with the reality of public in understanding the value of wildlife conservation but conservation could not left solely in the hands of the ‘experts’.

People had to get involved. 70 per cent of the Kenya’s wildlife lie outside KWS parks and the service is stretched in capacity and resource. Jim was seeking to create a different model around the problem.

“The people who can make a real difference are the communities but no one is talking to them. Especially the children. They are the only ones who still have time to make a difference”.

So he decided to walk and talk to local people urging them to take ownership of their wildlife heritage and have a say. Jim has so far covered over 9000kms in Kenya, 900kms in the US, in addition to an epic 3200km foot journey across East Africa.

Jim Nyamu leads the International March For Elephants walk in the US.

When I met him last, in early April 2017, it was at the flag off of his 13th walk (617kms) to Marsabit at the National Museums of Kenya headquarters in Nairobi.  The Museum was the home to the iconic Ahmed of Marsabit, a living monument and the only elephant to be put under protection by a presidential decree. In 1970, President Jomo Kenyatta ordered state security to protect this giant beast against poachers. Ahmed died at age of 65 four years later. A giant fiberglass cast of Ahmed is on display at the National Museums. Jim’s was drawing his inspiration from Ahmed and raising awareness on the dwindling numbers of elephants in the Marsabit eco-system.

The Irish ambassador, Vincent O’Neill was the guest of honour, a lanky man, who set off Jim after reading out an Irish travellers blessing. After walking with the small group of volunteers and supporters, blowing whistles, blaring horns, hogging a lane marshalled by police outriders on BMWs, I bid my farewell to Jim on Thika Road and wished him journey mercies.

Ahmed of Marsabit

Moments before the flag off, I had walked into a bookshop at the Museum in search of a book that had caused a stir in the African conservation world. It was a thought provoking book co-authored by John Mbaria and Dr. Mordecai Ogada titled “The Big Conservation Lie”.

“The Big Conservation Lie” was a book challenging the western paradigms and values that had dominated the management and conservation model since Kenya was declared a British colony. I had heard of John Mbaria by reputation. He was an investigative journalist who had earned his stripes as fury critic of the ‘western’ conservation model and a staunch advocate of a return to an indigenous inspired model.

I had met his co-author Mordecai Ogada, during a panel session at British Institute of Eastern Africa, where he presented a very compelling account of the racial tainted difference between a bush meat hunter and a sports hunter. The man who hunts for his food is ‘bad’ while the other who hunts for trophies is ‘good’. Mordecai Ogada was a carnivore ecologist and a big advocate of community based conservation.

The book is a page turner and revolves around a central argument of historic racial prejudices in the Kenyan conservation industry which alienate indigenous people as important partners in conservation. It goes on an investigative discourse of Kenya’s conservation legacy, showing how the inherited conservation model was intertwined with colonial power structures.

“Many modern wildlife parks were initially hunting grounds and created for recreation for the settler communities”.

The establishment of national parks was a form of land grab that disregarded the local communities’ ancestral claim to the land.

Mbaria and Mordecai confront the conservation crisis head on. They question the unholy alliance of wildlife conservation NGOs and Western funding streams pushing the paradigm that states that resident local communities must earn money from wildlife as motivation for conservation.

Mbaria poignantly asks, “How did wildlife survive for millennia in Kenya rangelands together with people who never earned anything from it?”

They poke large holes into the legacies of conservation stalwarts, Richard Leakey, George Adamson, Douglas-Hamilton, Dr. Daphne Sheldrick and Ian Craig. They accuse single species focused organizations earning substantial incomes as engaging in tourism under the guise of conservation activities.

The Launch party of the book

Dr.Ogada was frank when I asked him about his motivation for writing the book.

“I think it is when I realized that because of the colour of my skin, I was not likely to ever be acknowledged as a significant contributor to our conservation discourse in Kenya”.

Some of Dr.Ogada’s inspirations were the late Samson Ole Sisina, the KWS officer killed by Tom Cholmondeley and Elizabeth Leitoro who used to work for KWS and busted a poaching ring east of Nairobi National park that used to supply game meat to high end Nairobi restaurants. John Mbaria added that KWS has some of the best scientists that no one outside the industry ever gets to hear about.

Mbaria and Ogada are keen to start a national conversation. “Our mission is not an avenue for accolades but for our survival. It is a national security issue”, stresses John Mbaria.

“The big problem with our conservation model is that it is alien, not inspired by traditional culture”.

The conservation crisis in Kenya is real and it can only get worse in the face what Dr. Ogada describes as the perfect storm of climate change, a policy vacuum, ethnic politics and elitist approach to conservation.

But hopefully, there is a quiet uprising of local Kenyans moving from the back of the bus to their rightful place as leaders in conservation. It seems clear in the minds of all these men I have encountered that Kenyans can no longer be bystanders, outsourcing conservation knowledge.

Article first published in the Standard Media Newspaper on April 30th, 2017. This version has been updated.

 

[Oyunga Pala is a Kenyan newspaper columnist. The blog examines the texture of everyday Kenyan life and the challenges of modernity and disillusion. The writings commonly feature the struggle of the Kenyan male to maintain integrity in contemporary society.]

 

The Pygmalion Virus in Three Acts [2017 AVAAZ SERIES | PART II]

August 3, 2017

By Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

 

Act One

In Greek mythology, Pygmalion was a sculptor who carved a statue of a beautiful woman out of ivory. A statue so beautiful, that Pygmalion fell in love with it. The symbolism in the play by George Bernard Shaw is premised on Henry Higgins falling in love with his own creation. [Source]

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According to The B Team report, Keith Tuffley manages the day-to-day operations of The B Team.

In his LinkedIn profile Tuffley states he is “Managing Partner & CEO of The B Team, a not-for-profit initiative headquartered in New York.” (Here, we must again recall that the headquarters as spoken of by B Team affiliates is that of the PR firm Purpose.) He is the former Managing Director and Head of Investment Banking at Goldman Sachs in Australia with over 25 years experience in investment banking, finance, and capital markets. Tuffley is founder & chairman of NEUW Ventures, an impact investing company based in Switzerland. He also serves as Director or Governor on various NGOs including WWF-Australia.

Tuffley is a member of the Corporate Advisory Panel of the World Forum for Natural Capital[Full bio] and is identified as belonging to the “wider project team” of co-founders Polman and Malloch’s Business and Sustainable Development Commission. [Source: BETTER BUSINESS BETTER WORLD, the report authored by the Business & Sustainable Development Commission, January 16, 2017]

The B Team executive committee [1] is comprised of the executive chair (Jochen Zeitz), three senior partners (Jean Oelwang, Joanna Rees and Keith Tuffley) and Managing Director Rajiv Joshi, who “oversees the organisation’s strategy”.

Where White Polar Bears Meet White Helmets

“Ultimately, this is a cultural challenge—linked to our own culture and to wider cultural dynamics. In the good old days, we saw NGOs as leading indicators of change, but today it’s the Millennials, whatever NGOs or networks they may belong to.” — The Stretch Agenda, Breakthrough in the Boardroom [Source]

“Mikael Fraenkel, Rajiv Joshi, Arianna Huffington, Shalini Mehan, Felix Stellmaszek during DLD15 FOCUS Nightcap at Steigenberger Grandhotel Belvédère in Davos on January 21, 2015.” Foto: Hubert Burda Media / BRAUER PHOTOS. Flickr

From the aforementioned Better Business Better World report:

“Rajiv Joshi is a Managing Director and has been with the organisation since its inception. He previously served as Executive Director for the Global Call to Action Against Poverty. Joshi served six years as a Trustee of Oxfam and as a Board Member of CIVICUS. He is currently on the Board of the Centre for Scottish Public Policy, and has served on the Equality and Human Rights Commission and as chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament.”

Joshi has an extensive background pushing forward both the UN Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs/”Global Goals”). He has been groomed by the United Nations, Skoll (2017 Skoll Awardees Convening, 2017 Skoll World Forum) and Branson. From the Skoll website:

“During this time he led global action towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), mobilizing over 173 million people as part of the ‘Stand Up: Take Action’ initiative. He also supported ‘The Elders’ with their Every Human Has Rights campaign and helped spearhead citizen participation in creating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as co-founder of ‘The World We Want 2015’ platform and founding Chair of the Post-2015 Policy and Strategy Group.”

Let this section serve as an introduction to where 21st century environmentalism (which today is, in reality, anthropocentrism) meets the 21st  humanitarian industrial complex. [Further reading: The Humanitarian Industrial Complex School of Thought | A Fish Analogy] Where white polar bears (the emotive veneer for economic growth, land and resource theft, privatization, the financialization of nature) meet white helmets (the emotive veneer for economic growth, land and resource theft, privatization, war). This is the intersection where today’s anointed “thought leaders” cut their teeth.This is the intersection where today’s anointed “thought leaders” cut their teeth. Akin to the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, today’s so-called environmental leaders and human rights activists are not (yet) genetically engineered, rather they are socially engineered experiments decanted from Harvard, Yale, Rockwood Leadership Institute and other institutions of indoctrination that serve and expand the global hegemony. One could theorize that today’s 21st century activism is a new process of mimesis – the millennial having assimilated into spectacle – far removed from both nature and reality.

“TEDxSkoll on Twitter: #TEDxSkoll TALK: ‘White Helmets @SyriaCivilDef: The Power of Trained Volunteers'”[Source]

Indicative of the accolades and tutelage showered down upon the aforementioned millennial Joshi, today’s thought-leaders are groomed, molded, and managed – specifically to manufacture and mobilise/engineer world views as desired and designed by the world’s most powerful hegemons. Ego, celebrity fetish, access, wealth, luxury are all Western desires that are fostered and cultivated in today’s assembly-line “activists”. Together, these desires, when nurtured, are an opiate that lures, beguiles and hooks the freshly-engineered plastic “activists” that today flourish like cells within the walls of non-profit industrial complex. The complex is the vehicle for the continued expansion of capital markets (infinite growth) and the protection of existing power structures.  Today we witness the world’s richest 300 people having more monetary wealth than the bottom 3 billion people. The same ruling elite invest trillions into the NPIC to ensure this existing power structure not only stays firmly intact, but expands. This is not “philanthropy”, a word created by and utilized by the rich to make theft of labour and commons not just acceptable, but illustrious. Rather, this is the best investment money can buy.

The aforementioned Stand Up and Take Action is an annual global mobilization coordinated by the United Nations Millennium Campaign and the Global Call to Action against Poverty. In addition, the Elders is another Richard Branson NGO, a person who has his tentacles wrapped around an innumerable amount of NGO endeavors owned and sanctioned by the global elite. “The World We Want” is a United Nations SDG campaign.

“Most funding and direction come from the wealthy nations. Often the donors form a conglomerate creating mutual responsibility and considerable ambiguity. CIVICUS, a partnership to promote “civil society” worldwide, is funded by, among others, American Express Foundation, Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, Carnegie Corporation, Canadian International Development Agency, Ford Foundation, Harvard University, Oxfam, and United Nations Development Programme.” — Joan Roelofs [Source]

 

As the grooming is underscored by the collaboration of mentors and mentees in private and public endeavors, it is of course no surprise to find Rajiv Joshi in the company of Avaaz/Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimens in a We Mean Business video series (since We Mean Business is an NGO founded by The B Team registered to Heiman’s Purpose). However, the following excerpt from the book The Myth Gap: What Happens When Evidence and Arguments Aren’t Enough  demonstrates the unity and alliances of multifarious NGOs that prosper in a highly centralised manner outside of the public spectrum (see excerpt below). Public perception is critical for the brand. Thus, NGOs that serve on the forefront of the manufactured movements make a concerted effort to not publicly align with NGOs openly chasing capital and economic growth. The reality is this: the cherry-picked and highly groomed “leaders” of the world’s most influential NGOs, the ones with the faux radical veneer such as 350.org, Avaaz and Greenpeace, run in the same circles as the openly capitalist NGO models such as the B Team – which run/operate in the same circles as the International Crisis Group. NGOs that publicly promote and accelerate market-based solutions that will only further perpetuate our multiple ecological crises. NGOs that perpetuate the myth of “humanitarian interventions” and spontaneous popular revolutions.

Above: Screenshot from The Myth Gap: What Happens When Evidence and Arguments Aren’t Enough By Alex Evans

Here we witness the social-organizational psychology experts grooming tomorrows “new champions“, “global shapers” and “new power” “thought-leaders” as determined and ultimately dictated by the world’s most powerful elites. In the 21st century, psychology is not only an extremely important tool in influencing public opinion, it is now considered to be perhaps the single and most important tool. The necessity to comprehend the mental processes, desires and social patterns of the populace at large cannot be understated. Working in lock-step with controlled media and the best marketing executives foundation money can buy, today’s faux activists, thought-leaders and media lapdogs are the very mechanisms of modern-day perception.

Consider the following claim by Avaaz that “BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera reported that at one point 40% of the images that were used in their coverage of the Arab Spring were generated by the Avaaz-supported citizens’ journalist network”. (See below screenshot.)

If this claim is verifiable, it is indisputable truth that the establishment is able to use its resources to maneuver, influence and control untold portions of protests. Thus, it is critical to question what is a legitimate protest versus what is a protest  orchestrated by outside influences.

“We’ve trained them. That translates into diplomatic leverage.”— Supremacy by Stealth, Robert Kaplan

As an example of the opacity prevalent in these various movements, the race to implement the financialization of nature (payments for ecosystem services) under the guise of UN’s “Global Goals” is nothing less than frenetic. Yet for all of the ongoing activity, this corporate triumph is being conducted in the background, with zero dissent, due to the fact that at the forefront of the manufactured movements – there is complete silence. Zero opposition. The non-profit industrial complex being the wall that protects and insulates the coup d’état of nature itself.

“Surveying this new landscape, it is clear that the true role of the thought leader is to serve as the organic intellectual of the one percent—the figure who, as Gramsci put it, gives the emerging class “an awareness of its own function” in society. The purpose of the thought leader is to mirror, systematize, and popularize the delusions of the superrich: that they have earned their fortunes on merit, that social protections need to be further eviscerated to make everyone more flexible for “the future,” and that local attachments and alternative ways of living should be replaced by an aspirational consumerism.” — The Rise of the Thought Leader – How the superrich have funded a new class of intellectual, June 28, 2017

[Further reading: From Stable to Star – The Making of North American “Climate Heroes”]

Establishing New Norms: Future Stewards, Pathfinders and Deep Practitioners

Perhaps there is no better snapshot of the congregation of all this grooming of the next generation of NGO leaders than the 2015 Avaaz retreat. This retreat finds The B Teams Joshi in the company of his peers and “movement builders”. Those identified in the aforementioned book excerpt are as follows:

Robert Gass: co-founder of the Rockwood Leadership Institute, former President of ARC International, a global consulting and training company specializing in transformational change with Fortune 500 companies. Robert has a doctorate in Clinical Psychology and Organizational Development from Harvard University. [2]

Judith Ansara:  A former facilitator for the Rockwood Leadership Institute’s The Art of Leadership trainings, she has facilitated organizations and leaders Avaaz, Witness and UNICEF. She has taught Transpersonal Psychology at Naropa University and Strategic Communications at the University of Massachusetts. [3]

Maura Bairley: Leads the Organizational Development Team for Move to End Violence, a project of the NoVo Foundation. [4]

Rachel Bagby: A Stanford Law Degree in Social Change and  leadership consultant whose clients include leaders from organizations such as Google, the Sierra Club and Rockwood Institute. [Source]

Radhika Balakrishnan: Faculty director of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University. Past experience includes working for the Ford Foundation as a program officer in the Asian Regional Program.

Ian Bassin: Former Associate Counsel to President Obama, General Counsel and Campaign Director at Avaaz, Current director of United to Protect Democracy [“United to Protect Democracy, which draws its name from a line in President Barack Obama’s farewell address that urged his supporters to pick up where he was leaving off…] Signatory to the Economic Security Project. [5]

Dalia Hashad: Attorney and a campaign director at the global advocacy group Avaaz.org. Prior to Avaaz Hashad worked for Amnesty International UK (Director, USA Program) and ACLU  American Civil Liberties Union.

Jamie Henn: 350.org co-founder, Strategy and Communications Director.

“I thought I’d never live to see the day when you could strap on a rocket pack and fly through the air… but then I met Avaaz. They supercharge work across the world, sending campaigns and movements soaring to new heights.” — Jamie Henn, co-founder, 350.org, Avaaz website

Paul Hilder: Avaaz co-founder Paul Hilder is the former Vice President of Global Campaigns for Change.org, a for-profit social venture started in 2006. He is co-founder and Chief International Officer of Crowdpac, “the platform for new politics”. He cofounded 38 Degrees and openDemocracy.net. He played leadership roles at Oxfam, Purpose, Here Now (Purpose) and the Young Foundation. His background in the NPIC and the Middle East is extensive. [6]

Joanna Kerr: Executive Director of Greenpeace Canada. Former Chief Executive of ActionAid International, Policy Director at Oxfam Canada. [7]

Adauto Modesto Junior: Brazil Student Ambassador, Lemann Fellow, at David Rockefeller Center for Latin America Studies, Brazil (Harvard). Served on the Civil Cabinet of the Presidency of the Republic and the Ministry of Finance in Brazil. [Source]

Luis Morago: Campaign Director at Avaaz (Spain). Former head of Oxfam International’s EU Office (2007: “EU institutions are in a unique position to promote the R2P principle and give leadership,” Source] Previously worked on “the concept of rights-based approach in an emergency context” with British Red Cross Society and ActionAid (Research and Programme Learning Officer). [Source]

Heather Reddick: Avaaz Chief Operating Officer, Avaaz. Former Director of Finance & Administration at Let’s Get Ready, International Operations Director at Students for a Free Tibet, and National Operations Director at League of Young Voters. (Avaaz salary in 2014: USD$148,323.00 & USD$5,736.00 misc. expenses)

Carolina Rossini: Coordinates the Brazilian Open Educational Resources Project: Challenges and Perspectives funded by the Open Society institute. [Source] [Source]

Esra’a Al-Shafei: Bahraini civil rights activist, founder and executive director of Mideast Youth and its related projects, including FreeKareem.org  and CrowdVoice.org. Featured at the 2009 Clinton Global Initiative University. Featured in Forbes’ 2014 “30 Under 30” list of social entrepreneurs making an impact in the world. Listed by the World Economic Forum as one of “15 Women Changing the World in 2015.”[8]

Theo Sowa: An independent advisor and consultant, specialising in international social development. An international consultant for NGOs such as as UNICEF, The Stephen Lewis Foundation, The African Union, Department for International Development, and UNDP. Awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in June 2010. [Source]

Tristram Stuart: English author and campaigner.

Farhana Yamin: International lawyer specializing in global climate change law and policy. Founder and CEO of Track 0, Associate Fellow at Chatham House, Visiting Professor at University College London. [Source]

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For further proof of strategic and highly organized grooming, consider the We Mean Business, Leaders’ Quest and Mission 2020 (under the direction of The B Teams Christiana Figueres) document Future Stewards – The Case for Partnership and Investment 2016-2020. The document outlines the desired behavioural change strategy to implement the “new economy”. The term “Deep Practitioners” is applied to a cohort of “30 senior leaders of influential private, public and civil society organizations, who are willing to collaborate across sectors and change their own patterns of behavior.” The budget thus far to train “future stewards” is 10 million. In the sample list of participants from the document outlining the “Pathfinders and Deep Practitioners Programs from 2017, we find recognizable names such as Jamie Henn, Strategy and Communications Director, 350.org, former co-director of Greenpeace International’s Global Climate and Energy Program and corporate pet Tzeporah Berman, Grant Advisor, New Venture Fund and Rajiv Joshi, Managing Director of The B Team. As the machine works to churn out the next generation of leaders more beholden to the system than their predecessors yet with better and increased obfuscation, the following quote from the document best summarizes the goals and aspirations of gatherings such as the Avaaz retreats: “Global Influencers will create public and private opportunities for influential leaders to join the collective movement. Committed leaders will increase pressure on their peers to engage – establishing a new norm.”

Here, in these circles, there is no conscious belief in American imperialism, but only American “exceptionalism”, a description that is beyond debate and unquestionable in mainstream circles. Trees, whales and bees no longer exist except as a means of achieving sought metrics. All/any remaining anti-war sentiment having been replaced with the pathological cheerleading of  “coloured revolutions”, exporting “American democracy” and “greening” the military. The NPIC is the vehicle of “transformational change” which can only be honestly described as that which is designed, sought and financed by the world’s most powerful elite. The ideologies underpinning the dream of “ethical globalization” (a term utilized by the group Res Publica),  a globalized “deliberative democracy” has been the said driving force of Avaaz co-founders since their founding of Res Publica. Here, in these circles is where the myth of American exceptionalism is perpetuated. This faux belief, is the tie that binds. Here, in these circles, the power of conformity takes hold.

Nowhere is the role of Avaaz more apparent in the advancement of the Nations Sustainable Development Goals (the financialization  of nature, global in scale) than in the following paragraph written by Patel in 2014:

“The vision put forward by the UN High-Level Panel on the Post- 2015 Development Agenda is a beautiful one, and one I believe the vast majority of people share. But now comes the hard part: getting our governments to get behind this plan, first rhetorically, and then with actual budgets and political will. And to stay behind it until the job is done. To make that happen, we need one of the largest, most comprehensive and sustained political campaigns the world has ever seen. One that captures public imagination like never before. It won’t be a single campaign or coalition that does this, but a vibrant network of governments, NGOs, businesses and individuals that come together around this shared vision and coalesce into fit-for-purpose groups as needed, to seize opportunities and meet threats. These groups will need to use every tactic in the book, because that’s what entrenched interests who oppose progress will be doing. The threads that tie all this together likely won’t be a single brand, but memes and narratives that define and embody the zeitgeist. One popular meme, often offered tongue-in-check, is the idea of saving the world. It’s a narrative deep in our psyche, the theme of many of our most popular epics. But if ever there were a time to use this meme and its power in all seriousness, it’s now. It’s time for a movement to save the world.” —  p. 17, Ricken Patel, Global Development Goals, Partnerships for Progress, 2014

 

Act Two

 

“Establishing “heroes” and “villains” adds a moral element that will advance advocacy efforts.” — “Mobilizing Climate Action, To Paris and Beyond” retreat, March 4–6, 2015, New York

Here it is critical to highlight the “Mobilizing Climate Action, To Paris and Beyond” retreat held March 4–6, 2015, in Tarrytown, New York. As it is here that the hierarchy is laid bare and cannot be contested. The organizer of the retreat was the United Nations [9] with the retreat itself being financially facilitated by foundations (in this instance, the Clarmondial Foundation and The Stanley Foundation). The congregation consists of numerous participants that all play a vital role: corporate financiers that rule the corridors of power by way of their purse strings, public relations and media, and the institutions and NGOs that reside at the helm of the socially influential non-profit industrial complex: the United Nations, World Bank, Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, We Mean Business (represented by co-founder Callum Grieve [10]), 350.org (represented by co-founder Jamie Henn) Upworthy (co-founded by Avaaz co-founder Eli Pariser), Avaaz, Here Now (Purpose, sister for-profit arm of Avaaz) World Economic Forum, GCCA (TckTckTck), World Business Council for Sustainable Development (chaired by Unilever CEO Paul Polman), Greenpeace, Unilever, and The Climate Reality Project (founded by Al Gore, co-founder of Generation Investment).

Mobilizing Climate Action, To Paris and Beyond retreat participants:

  • Emad Adly, General Coordinator, Arab Network for Environment and Development
  • Susan Alzner, Officer in Charge, Non-Governmental Liaison Service, United Nations
  • Robert Bisset, Senior Communications Officer, Climate Change, The World Bank
  • Roberto Borrero, UN Programs Coordinator, International Indian Treaty Council
  • Karl Burkart, Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation
  • Patty Carnevale, Senior Account Strategist, Upworthy
  • Joel Finkelstein, Communications, Climate Advisers
  • Nick Gaylord, Data Scientist, Idibon
  • Rhys Gerholdt, Communications Manager, Climate and Energy Program, World Resources Institute
  • Callum Grieve, Director of Communications, We Mean Business
  • Michael Hanley, Editorial Director, World Economic Forum
  • Fletcher Harper, Executive Director, GreenFaith
  • Jamie Henn, Strategy and Communications Director and Co-Founder, 350.org
  • Antonio Hill, Executive Director, Global Call for Climate Action
  • Wael Hmaidan, Executive Director, Climate Action Network
  • Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, College of the Marshall Islands, Co-Founder, Jo-Jikum
  • Ruth Jones, Head of Leadership Programme, The Climate Group
  • Iain Keith, Campaign Director, Avaaz.org
  • Amy Keller, Strategic Partnerships, Live Earth
  • Ann Kobia, Advocacy Team, Secretariat, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance
  • Kate Lappin, Regional Coordinator, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development
  • Carina Larsfälten, Managing Director, Global Policy and Strategic Partnerships, World Business Council for Sustainable Development
  • Patricia Lerner, Senior Political Advisor, Greenpeace International
  • Marie L’Hostis, Global Hub Coordinator, action/2015
  • Thomas Lingard, Climate Advocacy and Sustainability Strategy Director, Unilever
  • Tracy Mann, Consultant, MG Limited, and Project Director, Climate Wise Women
  • Michael Mathres, Director, World Climate Ltd.
  • Nelson Muffuh, Head of Outreach and Stakeholder Engagement, Post-2015 Development Planning Team, United Nations
  • Margaret Novicki, Chief, Communications Campaigns Service, Department of Public Information, United Nations
  • Nicholas Nuttall, Coordinator, Communications and Outreach, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
  • Jonathan Rich, President, JCR Communications
  • Mila Rosenthal, Director of Communications, Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy, United Nations Development Programme
  • Naysán Sahba, Director of the Division of Communications and Public Information, Office of the Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme
  • Peter Sargent, Campaigns Director, The Climate Reality Project
  • Dan Shepard, Information Officer, Development Section, Department of Public Information, United Nations
  • Robert Skinner, Executive Director, New York Office Operations and UN Relations, United Nations Foundation
  • Sean Southey, Chief Executive Officer, PCI Media Impact
  • João Talocchi, Campaign Director, Here Now
  • Denise Young, Head of Communications, International Council for Science
  • Stanley Foundation Staff [10]

 

Par for the course, the report includes the standard disclaimer: “Affiliations are listed for identification purposes only. Participants attended as individuals rather than as representatives of their governments or organizations.” This rhetoric is standard across most (if not all) boards that serve non-profit industrial complex. It is best understood as protectionist rhetoric. In reality, participants are absolutely representative of their governments or organizations. Otherwise, they would not have been chosen for, nor would they retain, these lucrative positions.

The purpose of this retreat was preparations for COP21, Paris. 2015 was chosen by the elites as the year to formally implement the necessary policies that would accelerate growth and create new markets. This will be achieved via the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (Global Goals) under the guise of environmental protection and poverty eradication. From the report: “Progress on climate change negotiations will take place within the context of broader efforts to establish a sustainable development agenda that addresses the differentiated needs of all countries and provides adequate financing for development projects that will enable growth without negatively impacting the environment and humanity. Therefore, efforts to address climate change will be enhanced by integrating them with the post-2015 development agenda also being negotiated this year.” [Source]

“The retreat will bring together communications and advocacy leaders to discuss how best to communicate about and inspire climate action as an accelerator of sustainable development in the context of the post-2015 agenda.” Mobilizing Climate Action: To Paris and Beyond, Stanley Foundation Website

The “global goals” of the elites requires approx. 90 trillion dollars (90 trillion between now and 2030 that is required for planned mega-infrastructure projects, which is up from initial estimates of $60-70 trillion as of 2015). The Ceres (partner of the “We Mean Business” project, as well as a partner and advisor of the 350.org divestment scheme) “Clean Trillion” campaign “encourages investors, companies and policymakers to invest an additional $1 trillion per year globally in low-carbon energy alone.” The development projects are contingent on furthering extractive industries (all of which are dependent on fossil fuels from cradle to grave). The most important items to note here are the following:

1) the “global goal” to unleash developments projects that “enable growth without negatively impacting the environment and humanity” is a proven and irrefutable oxymoron, and

2) most critically, the main pillar of the “new economy (“global goals”) is the financialization of nature. That is, privatizing and assigning monetary value to all services on the planet that nature provides. Make no mistake, the financialization of nature is the unspoken, yet absolute key goal of the United Nations (in servitude the oligarchy) that today is being implemented behind closed doors.

“Paris is not the end point. It’s a launching pad”, said Robert C Orr, principal policy advisor to the UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.” — Paris Meet will be a Launching Pad: UN official, March 8, 2015

 

“Nick Henry, CEO of Climate Action, said: “Climate change not only presents the single largest threat to mankind, it also creates the greatest economic opportunity since the industrial revolution. ” —  Businesses and Investors Pioneering the Green Economy Highlight Multi-trillion Dollar Opportunity in Tackling Climate Change, December 7, 2015

The emphasis at the retreat was the building of societal consensus for the Paris outcome by establishing new climate “leaders” and “subgroups”, the incorporating of “storytelling”, and the further targeting of youth, as identified in the highlights:

Climate change messaging should be reframed and rebranded. Messages of despair ought to be transformed into scenarios for hope and opportunity, particularly in the context of sustainable development.”

 

Increasing mobilization and amplification are critical leading up to COP21. This will include new media strategies as well as outreach to new audiences and advocates.”

 

“Identifying leaders of all kinds in their respective spheres of influence will heighten awareness for newly acknowledged subgroups of climate change actors as well as political leaders; storytelling will incorporate a personal, emotional element of climate change that has been missing from the narrative.”

 

“It is widely agreed that engaging youth is of central importance to encourage future constructive climate action—for the youth of today are the decision makers of tomorrow.”

For anyone who believes local grassroots groups are not prone to be influenced, led or even manipulated by international organizations, the following “broader approach” highlighted in the report demonstrates otherwise: participants acknowledged that the agreed upon broader approach “can then be tailored at the local level so that the varied campaigns are connected”.

To further the continuous targeting of youth, the retreat participants identified key targets “to deepen the pool of activists by mobilizing leaders across the world in their respective spheres of influence and reaching out to even more groups of stakeholders”. The two key “international actors” identified to achieve this goal were trade unions and public-private partnerships. [12]

One particular campaign strategy identified in the report was the shared aspiration to develop a “ribbon symbol” (“create a climate change symbol that is equally pervasive and can be used broadly across all public campaigns to escalate collaboration and solidarity.”) Here, one can recall the “Climate Ribbon Campaign” of the People’s Climate March and Cop21 Paris. Although the document identified blue as the sought colour for the ribbons, the end result was red as outlined in the 350.org “Redlines for Climate Actions Manual Draw the Line for Climate Justice” document. [13]

“Symbols are powerful, inspirational and instantly recognizable. When harnessed effectively by companies, symbols can have a strong impact on corporate culture, recruiting, morale and brand longevity.” — Forbes

 

“No matter what action you do, please also share your action on social media?so the rest of the world can see it. Take a photo or video and post on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook (if it’s on Facebook, please make sure it’s public) ­­and then use make sure you add #D12 or #redlines. You can also send an email to socialmedia@350.org

[COP21 – Wear Red. Further reading on the Climate Ribbon Campaign: Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits [Part 3]]

“We perceive, understand, and negotiate the world around us by investing meaning in all manner of signs and symbols.” — The History of Logos and Logo Design by Dan Redding

“As people interact with a symbol — whether brand, religious, or otherwise — it gets packed with meaning. It becomes a heuristic of what’s to come.” — Make Your Brand Iconic: The Power of Symbols in Branding, Sticky Branding website

United Nations Development Programme, A Look at the Sustainable Development Goals, 2015

Other essential tasks as highlighted in the report are to “identify business leaders who are willing to take the spotlight and reveal their support for climate change efforts up to and beyond COP21”. This is more than simply greenwashing. Short-term, this is the growing strategy to bring corporate power into the fold of “activism”. The Avaaz partner, Ben & Jerry’s, owned by Unilever and a client of Purpose, is a prime example of this mind-fuck. Long-term, as the  financialization of nature is implemented at a global scale, financial markets and business will be assigned as the new “stewards of national natural capital.” Hence, the transformation (in appearance only) of corporations from psychopathic institutions into our future “stewards of nature” has already commenced.

Here, it is of special interest to note the role of media. Journalists are simply to be trained. From the report:

“Train media and establish a rapid response team: Spend time with media organizations to train them on climate change messaging.”

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary, UNFCCC at launch of ‘We Mean Business’ at the Climate Week NYC 2014

The report identifies specific language that can be utilized by all NGOs. Repetitive language has long been key to successful social engineering. Consider the “de facto slogan”, agreed upon by the participants: “together we can, together we must, together we will“.  Examples of the agreed upon terminology have been utilized by the NGOs and can be found in the following excerpts:

“I believe that with clear leadership together we can, and we must, continue to deliver multilateral breakthroughs time after time after time,” — Christiana Figueres, July 18, 2016, former UN climate chief, B Team leader

 

“It will take all of us. But together, we can — and we will — blaze a bright path through this dark day.” — May Boeve 350, November 9, 2016

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Here it is critical to reflect upon the “leadership void”, a concern highlighted by those in attendance at this retreat and their allies, such as The B Team. To this end, there are no limits on who or what the elite and market forces are prepared to exploit in order to fill the niches that will further advance their desired agendas. As par for the course for the further expansion of industrial civilization, Indigenous People will, as always, be on the front lines of those most impacted by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Hence, in regard to the aforementioned need of the NPIC to “reach new audiences and advocates”, to have an Indigenous face as an exotic veneer to one’s brand is a marketing achievement of such grandeur, it is fetishized by those that comprise the non-profit industrial complex. An Indigenous face to brand/market the SDGs – is the ultimate acquisition.

Activism is the New Sex – But Sex Still Sells

Photography Dan Martensen, “Xiuhtezcati wears Jeans, belt and bracelets (worn throughout) model’s own.”

“That’s the crux of successful marketing today: activism is in. ‘Our activism is currently mediated by brands,’ says Will Fowler, creative director of Headspace. ‘Brands are allowing people to pat themselves on the back without them personally having to sacrifice anything.'” — Sex Doesn’t Sell Any More, Activism Does. And Don’t the Big Brands Know It, February 3, 2017

Today, selling “environmentalism” utilizes the same successful formula utilized to sell designer blue jeans decades ago – as well as the same formula used to promote white superiority in the mid-1800’s.

“This childish figure, outfitted in a short skirt, with pretty moccasins on its dainty feet and a single feather in its long, flowing hair, represents a quintessential, sexually undifferentiated Indian—although the bare breasts and the bow and arrows strewn along the ground reveal this to be a nonthreatening male Indian. The woman is pointing at a map in a book held open in her lap. Following her gaze, the Indian is also looking at the book, and his posture, more than the unreadable expression of his face, suggests that he is open to, if not exactly eager for, the instruction about to be dispensed.” — White Women’s Rights, evolution, woman’s rights, and civilizing missions, page 23

Consider the case of the 17-year-old Indigenous youth Xiuhtezcatl Martinez made famous by the media, who made his debut in the “environmental movement” at age six. Today, Martinez is the youth director of Earth Guardians, a worldwide conservation organization – an NGO which at COP21 shared the stage at the United Nations with international NGO “leaders” including Al Gore (The Climate Reality Project) and 350.org’s May Boeve. Martinez has been sought by, coddled and courted by those most powerful and influential including Barack Obama, Leonardo DiCaprio, The United Nations, Mark Rufallo, Bill McKibben, etc. etc.

At the tender age of 15, Martinez was photographed for a VICE feature (July 11, 2016), with images that deliberately seek to invoke a suggestive, hip prowess. One may recall a very contentious 1980 Calvin Klein ad featuring a 15-year old Brooke Shields (shot by photographer Richard Avedon). What was controversial in 1980 is today lost in a system where sexualisation is used to sell most everything including so-called environmentalism. Jeans yesterday. Faux environmentalism today – both in servitude to capital. The sexualization of children and teens is not so much problematic as it is sought, idolized, and even worshipped by a culture in decline. With almost four consecutive decades of social engineering and conditioning, this exploitation and sexualisation is not only of very little interest, it is rarely, if ever, noticed at all.

“His work has been featured on PBS, Showtime, National Geographic, Rolling Stones, Upworthy, The Guardian, Vogue, Bill Maher, Skavlan, CNN, MSNBC, HBO, VICE, and more. In 2013, Xiuhtezcatl received the 2013 United States Community Service Award from President Obama, and was the youngest of 24 national change-makers chosen to serve on the President’s youth council. He is the 2015 recipient of the Peace First Prize, recipient of the 2015 Nickelodeon Halo Award, 2016 Captain Planet Award and the 2016 Children’s Climate Prize in Sweden. Bill Mckibben of 350.org calls Xiuhtezcatl ‘an impressive spokesman for a viewpoint the world needs to hear.'” —  Earth Guardians Website

“Viewing sexualized images tend to elicit a variety of sensations that lead one to making an association of possible pleasurable outcomes for him/herself.” (Adams 1916)

Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez, Earth Guardians speaks at UN Climate Reception – 21 April 2016

 

“Now that you’ve been denied your former way of life, and can only play at being Indian, let me teach you some geography in accordance with our remapping of a wilderness that once was yours.” — White Women’s Rights, evolution, woman’s rights, and civilizing missions, page 23

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Rebranding Capitalism. Above: The future is here: Corporations as the new “stewards of national natural capital.”

 

The Final Act

 

At this juncture, we must take a moment to circle back to 2014. In the report (Towards a Plan B for Business, June 2013-June 2016) on page 32 we find the section titled Fostering Collaboration by Joshi. Here, we can examine exactly why the This Changes Everything project (strategically launched in September of 2014 in unison with the People’s Climate March and the UN Climate Summit) was financed by The Rockefellers, Ford, etc. and how they’ve successfully utilized it.

“We can achieve great things when unlikely bedfellows come together, like last December at COP21 when the Executive Director of Greenpeace International, Kumi Naidoo, joined leading CEOs, including The B Team, to call for an ambitious, long-term goal in the Paris Agreement, standing in solidarity with low-lying island communities in calling for ‘1.5°C to stay alive’.” — The B Team Progress Report June 2013 – June 2016, p. 11 [Source]

The 350.org/Klein slogan This Changes Everything (“to change everything we need everyone”) launched simultaneously with the hype surrounding the 2014 People’s Climate March, served as the foundation to merge corporate ideology with modern day activism – which is now reduced to nothing more than anthropocentrism. This pathology, which has gone largely undetected, is today completely normalized. Full collaboration (and even adoration) of those at the forefront of environmental devastation and exploitation of the most vulnerable, is gradually becoming “the new normal“. This is a prime example of successful social engineering and behavioural change – the foundation of public relations firm Purpose.

“Today’s leaders increasingly recognize that we are all in this together. Transforming the economic system is impossible without enlightened consumers, innovative progressive companies, brave politicians, and visionary civil society leaders working together, putting individual interests aside for collective gain.” — The B Team Progress Report June 2013 – June 2016, p. 11 [Source]

Here we can also reflect on how those that funded Klein’s This Changes Everything Project – formerly marketed as “The Message” – is successfully utilized by the elites to rebrand capitalism. Following the 2014 People’s Climate March, in which Klein’s book served as an integral part of the “new economy” launching pad, “caring capitalism”, “breakthrough capitalism”, “ethical capitalism”, “compassionate capitalism” and a host of other grotesque and paradoxical phrases sanitizing the word “capitalism” came pouring out of the floodgates. By far the brand with the most money behind it (those present represented one-third of the world’s investable assets, approx. £18tr.) is the Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism (the coalition held its first conference on May 27 2014, just ahead of the release of Klein’s book and The People’s Climate March that would follow approx. 4 months later). This highly orchestrated strategy by the global elite is unsurprising since after all, what brand could be more inclusive to build on the motto of the People’s Climate March “to change everything, we need everyone” than the idea of “inclusive capitalism”? Not sure? Perhaps ask 350.orgs Jamie Henn, “deep practitioner” for We Mean Business, or Klein herself. After all, Klein, deep in the pockets of 350.org, (which merged with 1Sky, a Rockefeller incubator NGO in 2011, when Klein joined the board) has clearly stated: “But I have never said that we need to “slay” “ditch” or “dismantle” capitalism in order to fight climate change.”

It was never about “inclusive capitalism” or other “compassionate forms of capitalism, it was always about saving the global capitalist economic system, which is hovering close to stall speed. With nowhere else to go. Hence, the financialization of nature (natural capital/payments for ecosystem services) that very few within the NPIC speak of (although most are fully aware), is achieving its goal of creating and reaching new untapped markets. This task is at the front and centre of most all institutions, foundations, corporations, investment firms, banks and governments on Earth.

“The Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism was founded in 2014 by Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild. Beside her in this noble task are, according to the Coalition’s website, a Working Group comprised of such luminaries of social justice as Sir Evelyn de Rothschild of E.L. Rothschild, Dominic Barton from McKinsey and Company, Ann Cairns of MasterCard, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles of HSBC, Paul Polman of Unilever, along with CEOs of various pension plans and philanthropic foundations, like the eponymous Ford and Rockefeller foundations.” — Cynthia McKinney, September 15, 2015

 

“Prince Charles, Mr Clinton and Mr Carney will make speeches, along with the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, and Larry Summers, the former US Treasury secretary, who is now a Harvard professor. Panellists include the chief executive of Unilever, Paul Polman; the chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline, Sir Andrew Witty; Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt; Prudential chief executive Tidjane Thiam; Sergio Ermotti, group chief executive of the investment bank UBS; and Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership.” — London hosts world leaders in debate on ‘fairer’ capitalism, May 26, 2014

Should we be surprised that Klein’s book slogan would be used to advance capital? Should we be surprised that key funders of The Inclusive Capitalism, the Ford Foundation and The Rockefeller Brothers Funds also financed “The Message” project and the This Changes Everything film? [14] Don’t be. It’s all par for the course. This is how the system is designed. This is why today’s “leading activists” are 6-figure jet-setters if not multi-millionaires, or even billionaires. This is why the NPIC exists. It’s not a coincidence that Klein’s book was released in the year that the re-branding of capitalism by the world’s most powerful oligarchs took centre stage. The scripts are written years if not decades in advance by those we pretend to oppose, to advance or implement what we pretend to oppose. Or at least what we would have opposed in another lifetime. Behavioural change works wonders on the collective psyche.

And to illustrate how the next generation of leaders have been schooled in the proper rhetoric, consider Joshi’s vision for the Ford Foundation on “reimagining  capitalism.” Even the task of re-branding capitalism is instead re-framed as redesigning capitalism.

“We believe there is a bright future for business—an inclusive model of capitalism that could really drive sustainable prosperity. It looks like a world in which business has the right aspirations, where we’re celebrating the right kind of leadership and where there’s true accounting.” — Rajiv Joshi on Reimagining Capitalism for the Ford Foundation

In a desire to elicit converts to this project of “redesigning” capitalism,  the “to change everything we need everyone” image accompanying Rajiv Joshi’s “Fostering Collaboration” article (highlighted in The B Team 2013-2016 report) speaks volumes in regards to the propaganda being utilized to appropriate converts to this ultimately benign message of impossible reformation:

Photo Courtesy: Alisdare Hickson, entitled To change everything we need everyone.

Narcissus Redux – To Catch A Glimpse Of Our Beautiful Self No Matter The Cost

In an interview with Avaaz co-founder Ricken Patel, December 9, 2011, it is noted that Avaaz was embarking on a 20-year planning cycle. In the same interview, Patel also disclosed that “Avaaz is also studying organizational models not typically followed by civil society organisations – such as Apple and Walmart.”  Note the last sentence cited in the paragraph below: “…thus its potential to influence politics and opinion at a global level is completely unprecedented.”

Interview with Avaaz co-founder Ricken Patel, December 9, 2011 [Source:  Pathways to Systemic Change]

The B Team is a shining example of what could be described as a “shell NGO”. A virtual construct with its “headquarters” in the real world, better known as the Purpose public relations firm. An office where the architectural drawings for the further destruction and privatization of nature, are drawn up by The B Team and carried out by the groomed “up-and-comers”. The main institutions that propel the desires of hegemonic power can be recognized throughout reports, founders bios, boards, advisory and executive committees. In the previously mentioned B Team report (2013-2016) honourable mentions include Heather Grady who works at the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and also serves as advisor to The B Team. One of the original founders of The B Team, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the former Minister of Finance of Nigeria and Coordinating Minister for the Economy. She was also Managing Director of the World Bank and Finance Minister and of Foreign Affairs Minister in Nigeria. Currently, she is chair and member of boards including the UN’s Post 2015 Millennium Development Goals High-level Panel, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the ONE Foundation (the brainchild of singer Bono and Microsoft owner Bill Gates). The same report boasts glowing reviews/endorsements for The B Team from those such as Gillian Caldwell, (p. 18) [15] co-founder of 1Sky (A Rockefeller incubator NGO that merged with 350.org in 2011) and current CEO of the elite financed Global Witness. Over and over, we see this interlocking directorate which essentially creates the “ties that bind”.

Perhaps the most sobering analysis and insight as to what drives the non-profit industrial complex itself comes from The B Team’s Joshi himself, as highlighted by the Ford Foundation:

“We live in a world where most of the world’s population doesn’t have the ability to participate in the economy. The opportunity to market your services to the 3.5 billion people who are not currently participating actively in the economy is the biggest economic opportunity of our generation.” — Rajiv Joshi for the Ford Foundation

And this fact is vital.

Although the global economy is nothing less than sacrosanct in the west which is in direct contrast to the 3.5 billion people at the bottom of the food chain, the global economic system, the capitalist economy, the green economy, the new economy – regardless of whatever lovely term is assigned to rebrand it, is completely irrelevant to the well-being of at least half the planet’s human population. They have everything to lose – and nothing to gain. Further, to non-human life, the global economy has zero benefit whatsoever – but only the severest of repercussions. Hence, we are sacrificing all life on Earth, including our own, to serve an economic system that benefits a very small percentage of people (a mere 1-5%) – the same people responsible for the bulk of ecological devastation and the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions. (The approx. 45% that do actively participate do not so much as reap benefit, but are merely and most effectively trapped.)

In the Ford Foundation interview series “#InequalityIs”, Rajiv Joshi speaks to “how inequality hurts business.” This statement is inane – yet in a world now completely conditioned to steady-state insanity, such a ludicrous statement is not only questioned, it is even presented as genius. The capitalist system is built upon, and dependent on the exploitation of those most vulnerable. Exploitation & capitalism – one cannot exist without the other. Joshi’s corporate ideology is so strong, he views short life spans of those most disenfranchised not as unjust in a social justice context, but rather as an impairment to corporate profit. His observation that business cannot thrive in a planet whereby those most affected by inequality have life spans that “are so short that they’re not able to provide the value companies need” is refreshing in its brutally honesty although chillingly cold. Note that in the same Ford Series we find other alleged luminaries, such as May Boeve (Avaaz, Res Publica, 350.org, ), Richard Branson (B Team), and Paul Polman (Unilever, The B Team, We Mean Business, chair of The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), co-founder of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission), and Gloria Steinem (C.I.A.) in amidst Hollywood celebrities and global institutions.

The Ford Foundation (incidentally, one of the main financiers of Naomi Klein’s documentary film This Changes Everything) and the hegemonic realm it resides in, does not give a flying fuck about environmental protection, ecological preservation, mitigation of climate change or social justice. What they care about is creating new avenues whereby they can successfully exploit those not yet fully exploited – under the guise of sustainability and alleviation of poverty. Targeting and preying upon those not living up to their “free market potential” in a global economic system in crisis – a system that continues to barely sustain itself as it is on the brink of collapse.

This “new economic paradigm” extolled by the NPIC is also the very reason for the recent and feigned new “concern” over equality for women – and the manufactured movement designed to access women’s labour for global economic growth and new markets for the expansion of consumer goods. [“Keeping women out of the workplace costs the global economy around US$17 trillion, the head of a leading NGO in Canada has told the International Monetary Fund.” Source] Women represent another source not yet tapped to their full exploitation potential. Another recently identified and now sought solution to expand a suicidal economic system so intertwined and dependent on infinite growth, it will eventually fail at the very moment such growth comes to a grinding halt.

“Furthermore, it seems there exists a significant cognitive dissonance between liberal universalism proclaimed through cosmopolitan humanitarianism, and liberal imperialism expressed through high-sounding principles of humanitarian intervention that, in reality, functions as a vehicle through which all forms of life that do not conform to liberal ideals are eradicated or expelled (McCarthy, 2009: 166).” [Source]

Further, and perhaps even most important, is the recognition that 3.5 billion people “are not currently participating actively in the economy”. This means that all the hype for so-called “green” consumerism, eco-tourism, electric cars, wind turbines, solar, etc. etc. – serve only half the global population –  with only 1% of this population (anyone that can afford to get on a plane) creating 50% of greenhouse gas emissions. Meaning – our race to “save” the Earth today, must be considered “anthropocentrist economics”. We give a fuck about no one and nothing if it should interfere with our privilege in any way, shape or form. The economic system, for which a tiny portion of people are willing to trade nature, all sentient and biological life, and the lives of entire non-Anglo populations – inclusive of children – is sacrosanct. Appointed, falsely labeled environmental leaders that assure us more growth is necessary and can also be “green”, are our gods who conveniently cleanse away the guilt. Those who dare speak out against a fourth industrialization are divisive iconoclasts. In the age of acquiescence and apathy, our collective priorities constitute phones, cars and flat screen televisions . Eco-luxury homes and wood-fired Jacuzzi tubs for everyone. We want it all and more. We want shiny, beautiful, and perfect at any and all cost. Plastic opulence for plastic people. We stare hypnotically into the gleaming screens, in love with our own reflection. Fuck nature, fuck the Congolese, fuck the Earth’s last vestiges of sand and the sand wars we hear nothing about.

Payback is going to be a bitch.

 

End Notes:

[1] “Co-chaired by Richard Branson and Jochen Zeitz, the Board of 20 Leaders provides the overall governance for The B Team and sets the high-level strategic direction. An Executive Committee, comprising the Executive Chair Jochen Zeitz, three Senior Partners, Jean Oelwang, Joanna Rees and Keith Tuffley, and Managing Director Rajiv Joshi,

oversees the organisation’s strategy. The Managing Partner & CEO, Keith Tuffley, manages the day-to-day operations of The B Team.”

[2] Robert Gass is co-founder of the Rockwood Leadership Institute, where he designed and delivers “Leading from the Inside Out,” a year-long leadership training for top social change leaders. Graduates of this program form the core of STP’s network. He is the former President of ARC International, a global consulting and training company specializing in transformational change with Fortune 500 companies. Robert has a doctorate in Clinical Psychology and Organizational Development from Harvard University. [Full bio]

[3]Judith Ansara:  A former facilitator for the Rockwood Leadership Institute’s The Art of Leadership trainings, she has facilitated organizations and leaders including Search for Common Ground, Center for Community Change, Global Fund for Women, Avaaz, Witness, Just Vision, Spitfire Strategies, UNICEF, the University of Colorado and the City of Boulder. Judith has taught Transpersonal Psychology at Naropa University and Strategic Communications at the University of Massachusetts. [Full bio]

[4] Maura Bairley: Leads the Organizational Development Team for Move to End Violence, a project of the NoVo Foundation and serves as a Plan Consultant with Flexible Leadership Awards Program of the Haas Jr. Fund, the 21st Century Fellows Program of the Pipeline Project, and on CoreAlign’s consultant design team for the Speaking Race to Power Fellowship. [Bio]

[5] Ian Bassin Former Associate Counsel to President Obama, Ian Bassin is General Counsel and Campaign Director at Avaaz, Current director of United to Protect Democracy [“United to Protect Democracy, which draws its name from a line in President Barack Obama’s farewell address that urged his supporters to pick up where he was leaving off, has already raised a $1.5 million operating budget, hired five staffers and has plans to double that in the coming months. They’ve incorporated as both a 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4), allowing them to operate as a nonprofit but participate in some forms of political advocacy as well.”][Source] Signatory to the Economic Security Project. “[M]ost recently a member of the education policy working group for the transition team. He earlier served as the Florida policy director for the Obama Campaign for Change.”[Source]

[6] Paul Hilder bio: Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section III

[7] Joanna Kerr: Greenpeace Canada (GPC) as Executive Director. Former  Chief Executive of ActionAid International, a global development organization based in South Africa and operating in 45 countries. Policy Director at Oxfam Canada. Executive Director of the Association of Women’s Rights in Development. Senior Researcher at The North-South Institute. [Source] [Source]

[8] Esra’a Al-Shafei is a Bahraini civil rights activist, blogger, and the founder and executive director of Mideast Youth and its related projects, including CrowdVoice.org.  Recipient of the Berkman Award for Internet Innovation from Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School in 2008 for “outstanding contributions to the internet and its impact on society.” In 2012, she received a Shuttleworth Foundation Fellowship for her work on the open source platform CrowdVoice.org.Recipient of the Monaco Media Prize, which acknowledges innovative uses of media for the betterment of humanity. In 2014, she was featured in Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list of social entrepreneurs making an impact in the world. The World Economic Forum listed her as one of “15 Women Changing the World in 2015.” That same year, she won the “Most Courageous Media” Prize from Free Press Unlimited.Selected as a 2017 Director’s Fellows at the MIT Media Lab. [Wikipedia]

[9] [Tracy Raczek, Climate Policy Advisor, Secretary-General’s Climate Change

Support Team, United Nations and Dan Thomas, Senior Communications Officer, Secretary-General’s Climate Change Support Team, United Nations]

[10] Elaine Schilling, Program Assistant, Jennifer Smyser, Director of Policy Programming, Richard H. Stanley, Chair, Board of Directors

[11] Callum Grieve is global director of communication for The Climate Group (co-founder of We Mean Business) and Communications Director at Sustainable Energy For All – ?Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL).

[12] “Participants agreed they could expand their current partnerships, reaching out to an increased variety of international actors (e.g., trade unions). They recognized that public-private partnerships in particular can leverage a great deal of influence in the decision-making process to affect policy change.

[13] “Ribbon Tree: What is your red line? We all have things we are not willing to compromise on, we all have things we love too dearly to let be lost to climate change without putting up a fight. Inspired by the Climate Ribbon Project, organize an event where you invite people to answer the question: “What do you love and hope to never lose to Climate Chaos?” Invite them to write their response on a strip of red fabric and hang them on a tree in a public space. Invite people to read out what others have written out loud, to share the sense of what we risk losing if our planet’s ecological limits are crossed. People can also tie the ribbons around their wrist as a reminder of their commitment to organise for climate justice. Invite press, and invite kids ­ they often have the best sense of how big this crisis is and the details we risk losing. Be sure to upload your photos to TheClimateRibbon.org” [Source.]

[14] “This film was supported by major grants from: JustFilms|Ford Foundation, The Seth MacFarlane Foundation, The Schmidt Family Foundation, 11th Hour Project, The Park Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Wallace Global Fund, Vivienne Westwood, Pamela Anderson Foundation, Chorus Foundation, Oak Foundation.” [Source]

[15] “The B Team has played a lead role in making the business case for beneficial ownership transparency, and their strategic interventions have bolstered international efforts to combat corruption at a critical time. Their leadership has been a vital element of our combined efforts to ensure transparency and accountability become the guiding standards for business and  governments around the world.” — Gillian Caldwell, CEO, Global Witness

 

 

 

 

 

Legitimacy and False Witness in a Multipolar World

by Tortilla con Sal

July 31, 2017

 

“The crumbling legitimacy of the US government and its allies in the European Union is reflected in the blatant false witness of Western news media and their NGOs.”

 

July 19, 2016: Cuba VP Leads Delegation To Nicaragua For Anniversary Of Sandinista Revolution. Source/Prensa Latina – Del Sur News

The United States government is currently applying sanctions to Cuba, Iran, Russia, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. Last week, on July 27th the US Congress moved to include Nicaragua too. Apart from these sanctions, the US is also enforcing a variety of sanctions in relation to Belarus, Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, former Ukraine and Yemen. Some of those sanctions are supported by the UN but, in any case, US allies cooperate applying sanctions in a selective way to suit their own interests.

At the highest level, Western strategic thinking in general and US policy making in particular is intellectually and morally corrupt, narcissistic and irrational. Corrupt, because it is so deliberately intellectually ingrown and materially self-serving; narcissistic because it cannot engage other legitimate rationalities; irrational because it operates on the basis of “with us or against us” paranoia. The recent US Department of Defense report At Our Own Peril is the clearest expression of that reality.

US planners really believe that following World War Two the US and its allies shaped and controlled a benign world order and that currently the US and its allies abide by and defend international law. They also assert they project a legitimate, truthful account of world events. Given these insane false beliefs underpinning Western strategic planning, actual and potential targets of Western aggression are bound to work out active measures and alliances based on realistic self-defense.

For the foreseeable future, demented Western foreign policy is in a stage of aggravated desperation as US policymakers adapt to what the DoD report says “can only be described as the early post-U.S. primacy epoch…..This new reality has far-reaching implications for American defense policy, strategy, planning, and risk calculation.” Among the factors contributing to the new risk environment, the report highlights “the weaponization of information, disinformation, and disaffection.” US military leaders now believe they are already losing their long taken for granted global ideological dominance.

Bringing together progressive and revolutionary movements from across Latin America and the Caribbean, the recent Sao Paulo Forum in Nicaragua also recognized the fundamental importance of the West’s global psychological warfare campaign against the majority world. The Forum’s final declaration notes,

“We should create an anti-hegemonic cultural and communications front incorporating the initiatives of progressive governments as well as the efforts of progressive political forces and social movements, a true revolution is impossible if not accompanied by a deep cultural and communications revolution.”

In this context, reality has definitely caught up and overtaken the wishful rhetoric of the Western corporate elites, their carefully groomed governments, their inept, dysfunctional financial system and, perhaps most clearly of all, their dishonest, counterfeit media. In all of these arenas, strategic analysis, economic policy, news reporting, financial dealings, across the West Gresham’s Law has operated relentlessly, with bad practice forcing out good, progressively exposing the falsity and corruption of Western society under corporate capitalism. That falsity is most immediately obvious in Western information culture including not just mainstream and alternative media, but also reporting by governments and non-governmental organizations.

The crumbling legitimacy of the US government and its allies in the European Union is reflected in the blatant false witness of Western news media and the non-governmental organizations which have now largely displaced legitimate foreign news reporting. Few dispute that Western monopoly corporate interests, control and shape government policy as well as mainstream and alternative news media. Less self-evident is the way those elites and their proxies in government promote “the weaponization of information, disinformation, and disaffection” via humanitarian and human rights NGOs.

A few writers have exposed the role of NGOs in promoting the psychological warfare agenda of the United States and allied governments. Cory Morningstar, for example, has exposed the pro-NATO global political agenda of organizations like Avaaz and Presence. She argues,

“the most vital purpose of the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC) has not been to destroy the ecocidal economic system that enslaves us while perpetuating and ensuring infinite wars. Rather, the key purpose of the NPIC is and has always been to protect this very system it purports to oppose from being dismantled. Hence the trillions of dollars pumped into the NPIC by the establishment.”

The campaigns led by NATO powers in 2011 against Ivory Coast, Libya, Syria share the same psy-warfare characteristics used against all the countries targeted by US sanctions. Right now, Venezuela is the target at the most vulnerable stage where a shift could happen very abruptly from current low-intensity NATO country covert, diplomatic, economic and media warfare to outright military aggression either direct or by proxy. Ever since the 2002 coup, opposition non governmental organizations have been key players in destabilizing Venezuela falsely exploiting the motifs of human rights, corruption. They have done so with consistent support from Western NGOs like Human Rights Watch, International Crisis Group, Transparency International and many others.

“Alexander Soros and Silas Kpanan’Ayoung Siakor attend The Alexander Soros Foundation’s Global Witness ‘Unmasked’ Gala on July 7, 2012 in Bridgehampton, New York.” Source: Getty Images [Further reading].

In Nicaragua’s case the decision to introduce the so called NICA Act applying economic sanctions against the country was preceded a month earlier by publication of a report from the Global Witness organization falsely alleging that Nicaragua is the most dangerous country in the world for environmental activists. In 2016, Global Witness had a budget of over US$13 million, receiving US$3.4 million from the George Soros Open Society Foundation, US$1.5 million from Pierre Omidyar’s Omidyar Network, US$840,000 from the Ford Foundation and over US$3 million from European NATO governments plus Sweden. The Global Witness Board and Advisory Board and CEO are all luminaries from the Western elite non governmental sector.

Despite these tremendous material and human resources, the Global Witness report in relation to Nicaragua is inept, poorly researched and downright inaccurate, as occasional Guardian columnist John Perry, among others, has explained. In 2016, Global Witness brought out a similarly false account of problems in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast. But traditional reporting methods, like cross-checking sources or comparing competing accounts of events, are irrelevant for weaponized NATO country news media and the disinformation NGOs they increasingly rely on for foreign news. Now a decision has been taken by the US elites to attack Nicaragua, the campaign may well unfold with sanctions steadily being ratcheted up, damaging the same Nicaraguan people these phony Western advocates of human rights claim they want to protect.

That is what has happened to Cuba for well over 50 years. More recently, those same Western elites and their advocates have supported the corrupt oligarchs and Nazi shock forces who destroyed Ukraine. They supported equipping, supplying and training the organized crime gangs and pseudo-Islamist terrorists that destroyed Libya and Syria. They give support covering up the crimes of fascist Venezuelan paramilitaries setting people on fire and attacking hospitals and preschools, just as they did the massacre in the labor union building in Odessa in May 2014. Morally, intellectually, ethically the Western elites are worthy successors to their genocidal colonialist forebears using the same bogus claims of moral and cultural superiority to justify their crimes. The false witness of their media and their NGOs is a clear signal they know they have no legitimacy.

 

Further reading:

Nicaragua:

https://libya360.wordpress.com/category/world/latin-america/nicaragua/

Global Witness:

BLOOD DIAMOND DOUBLETHINK & DECEPTION OVER THOSE WORTHLESS LITTLE ROCKS OF DESIRE | Rick Hines & Keith Harmon Snow, Part One (June 1, 2007).

DOWNLOAD:

Keith Harmon Snow Global Witness pdf-203BD Combd Final July 21, 2007

 

 

Exploitation of Bana al-Abed: Parents Use Child to Whitewash Terrorists in Aleppo

Usual Suspects

Public Good

June 26, 2017

by Jay Taber

“Automaton Conformity” by Erich Fromm

As noted at WKOG, the most recent fake news about chemical weapons attacks in Syria recycles the 2015 myth–propagated by the NATO-funded, White Helmets terrorist acting troupe–with ongoing assistance from the Soros-funded NGO, Human Rights Watch.

Before one jumps on the pro-war bipartisan bandwagon, as a reaction to alleged chemical warfare in Syria, one should examine the record of falsehoods created by the humanitarian-military-industrial complex. A good place to start is The Wall Will Fall. The US/UK intervention has been a Wag the Dog show since the outset.

As UK Professor Tim Hayward notes in his op-ed at WKOG, he, like many former Amnesty International supporters, took AI at its word when alleging war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Government of Syria. Reviewing the basis for such claims, Hayward easily discovered that AI had no evidence for them, and in so doing violated its own protocol to “collect evidence with our own staff on the ground,” thus failing to ensure that “every aspect of our data collection is based on corroboration and cross-checking,” as stated by Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

Eva Bartlett and Vanessa Beeley, independent journalists who covered the mainstream media fraud in Syria, shoot holes in the BBC/CNN/FOX promotion of terrorists as heroes.

The creation of discursive monoculture—intended to dominate all discussion of vital issues—is the result of a strategy by the power elite to prevent counter-power narratives from entering mainstream consciousness. Through hostile takeovers of government, media, and the non-profit industrial complex, the financial sector in the last decade has accomplished what official censorship and political repression could not: totalitarian control of social media, and the mobilization of progressives in support of neoliberal fascism.

As I noted in Preventing Discursive Monoculture, the financial sector capture of media, academia, and civil society indicates a future of diminishing consciousness—a future where fantasies about political power enable the murder of Indigenous activists and unembedded journalists with impunity. More recently, in A World of Make Believe, I elaborated on the fact that privatized mass communication now dominates public opinion to such a degree that all public discussion of vital issues is choreographed by PR firms.

In Controlling Consciousness, I observed that the donor elites that set the civil society agenda benefit from Wall Street’s vertical integration of controlling consciousness, allowing them to fabricate news, as well as to integrate advertising with government propaganda. In order to maintain credibility, the non-profit PR firms subservient to the power elite, i.e. Avaaz, need to first establish a noble reputation, often using the tried-and-true method of poverty pimping—an effective and largely undetected tool in the art of social engineering.

As I remarked in R2P: The Theatre of Catastrophe, under the neoliberal model of global conquest, social media marketing agencies like Avaaz, Purpose, and Amnesty International function as stage managers for the power elite in choreographed productions where neoliberal heroism can be enacted. These constructed events–that urge neoliberal military interventions in countries like Mali, Burundi, Libya and Syria—then draw in civil society as participants of moral catastrophe, where they actually become complicit in crimes against humanity.

The ulterior strategy of Avaaz as the ‘Great White Hope’ in other venues, subsequently allowed this social media marketing agency to easily herd so-called progressives to line up behind the neoliberal imperial campaigns in Libya & Syria—where Avaaz literally designed and managed the PR campaign for NATO and the US–in order to present the Al Qaeda affiliate Al Nusra as the good guys in ‘white helmets’. Networked psychological warfare (Netwar) is not hard to grasp; it just isn’t discussed anywhere, making Communication: The Invisible Environment.

In Smart Power & The Human Rights Industrial Complex, Patrick Henningsen reveals ‘perception management’ by the NGO sector as ‘co-marketing’ of foreign policy objectives of the US State Department, Pentagon and NATO. As Henningsen notes, leading human rights organizations—such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch—“have become virtual clearinghouses for interventionist propaganda”.

Says Henningsen, in the Balkans, Ukraine, Syria and Yemen—where they supported regime change—“NGOs function as public relations extension to a United Nations western member Security Council bloc, namely the US, UK and France”. To successfully frame geopolitical narratives on which these NGOs derive their fundraising campaigns, the lucrative revolving door between NGOs, government and media “converge to form a highly efficient, functioning alliance”.

Underwritten by some of the world’s leading transnational corporations, these organizations have well-developed links “leading straight into the heart of the military industrial complex”. Blinded by the fog of mass media and bombarded with faux moral imperatives, public opinion is led by these NGOs into supporting western-backed rebels and terrorists “under the banner of ‘human rights’.”