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WATCH: Colin Kaepernick is New Power’s 6 Billion Dollar Man [Purpose]

January 9, 2019

“Wall Street should get behind businesses that know how to cultivate their new power community.” – Avaaz/Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimans

Nike’s market cap rose by $6bn after it championed Colin Kaepernick.

ComNet18 Keynote, October 12, 2018: “Jeremy Heimans, Co-Founder and CEO of Purpose and Henry Timms, Executive Director of 92nd Street Y spoke about “new power” frameworks and how social good communicators can leverage this way of thinking.”

Jeremy Heimans: Finally, movements are all about moments. There’s a skill around deploying those moments in order to mobilize people and to build something that’s sustainable. In the book, we identify three kinds of moments. We call them the three storms. The first of those is storm-creating.

Henry Timms: So, think about Nike’s decision to launch the Kaepernick commercial the day before the first day of the season. This was long planned. This was behind closed doors. They were very intentionally deciding to drive this intensity around this moment and their brand has benefited in the tunes of billions of dollars since that moment has come. They were able to decide to create a storm. The second thing is though isn’t just are you able to create a storm when you choose but what you do when they come along.

 

[The full presentations from this event can be found here.]

 

PODCAST: Brazil and the US Left’s Imperial Blindspot

Brasil Wire

December 28, 2018

Interview with Brian Mier

 

 

In an interview on the WNUR Chicago radio show This is Hell, which aired on Saturday, December 22, 2018, Brasil Wire co-editor Brian Mier explained what Jacobin and the Western / Northern left media at large got wrong about politics in pre-coup Brazil – focusing attacks on the country’s leading left PT party and ignoring both voices from the PT itself, and the broader threat of US imperialism as the right set the stage for a takeover. The following are the transcripts, edited for readability:

Chuck Mertz: The US Left, hell all the western and global north left, abandoned Brazil’s left when they were needed most during a fascists coup that overthrew their democratically elected leader. Here to hopefully figure out why this happened and how to make certain it doesn’t happen again is our correspondent in São Paulo, Brazil, Brian Mier, co-author of the article How the US Left Failed Brazil: Why did the US left media bash a successful democratic socialist party during a right wing coup?Brian wrote that article with Sean T. Mitchell and Bryan Pitts.

Welcome back to This is Hell Brian. You write that after an electoral defeat to the far right Jair Bolsonaro fueled largely by fake news and blatantly partisan judicial measures against the PT, the Workers Party, Brazil’s largest leftist party, is now often extolled on the US left for its democratic socialist successes. Yet it is easy to forget what a transformation this was for north American leftist outlets. Before we get to their criticisms, the left’s criticisms of the PT and Jacobin Magazine’s criticisms of the PT, what explains, to you, why it took these leftist magazines and organizations so long to not recognize how unfair the impeachment of Dilma was, how unfair the charges against Lula were, how far right the alternative to Dilma and Lula and the PT was and now is in the form of Jair Bolsonaro and his new government that includes other former members of the military junta? PT aside, Brian, why didn’t the leftist publications you researched realize how justice was corrupted in a strategy by the far right to unfairly put those behind the dictatorship back in control of Brazil?

Brian MierI think that there was some mention – a little bit – that what was going on against Dilma Rousseff was unfair but I think that Brazil is just a very big and confusing country that is not that easy to understand and the media in general, journalism, tends to deal with these kinds of mind stopping cliches to try to break down issues into binary things like, ‘either they are left or they are right’, or ‘either they are good or they are bad’. There is always one simple cause for everything in most of what you read in journalism and that just didn’t work to explain what was happening against Dilma Rousseff. I really don’t know why, I just know that it happened. You’ve been listening to me talking about this for years. When the coup was launching against Dilma Rousseff I remember a listener wrote in and said “why is Brian defending someone like Dilma Rousseff?” I guess the way things have played out it’s pretty obvious now. But I just know what happened – I can’t really explain why. I have different theories which I can get into in more depth as this conversation progresses.

CM: We’ve had conversations where you’re ripped on the New York Times’ coverage of Brazil. Last week we had Cole Stangler on the show, live from Paris, about how we get the yellow vest movement wrong and Cole and I talked about recent New York Times coverage of the yellow vests, framing it as being those who support fighting climate change against those who want lower taxes, which the person who started the movement, on social media, explicitly said the movement was not about in the very beginning in his very first announcement online. As Cole pointed out in Jacobin and the Nation, the yellow vest movement is about the wealthy getting tax cuts while the rest of France has to pay higher taxes, it’s about fiscal fairness, it’s about class. So I asked Cole if that is why the Times gets the yellow vests wrong, because reporting on issues of class is, at the very least, challenging to the Times. How much in what you see wrong in the reporting of the mainstream news media, again before we get to the left, of the paper of record, the New York Times, when it comes to Brazil is the problem because Brazil is a story of class? Is the problem that the Times has problems with reporting on class whether it is in France or Brazil or anywhere for that matter?

BM: No, not at all. The problem with the Times and the Guardian and the Washington Post is that they are just voices for the expanded US State, in the Gramscian, Marcusian sense of the term, which includes the corporations, the government, the political parties and the media which supports all of this mess. So what you are getting in the New York Times is straight up corporate and government propaganda in favor of the coup. The New York Times rarely strays from the State Department line in any country in Latin America and you see that with their reporting on Venezuela and Nicaragua. There is no investigative work being done whatsoever – it’s all just PR favoring corporate interests and the US government and state department interests.

September 30, 2018: “Women in Brazil marches against far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro. Meanwhile, social organizations demonstrate in support of the Workers’ Party candidate Fernando Haddad.” [TeleSUR]

CM: So for you it’s not an inability or an unwillingness to talk about class, it’s a willingness to promote US interests?

BM: Well if you look, they just hired Juliana Barbassa as their Latin America desk editor and she came straight from this Rockefeller founded corporate think tank named AS/COA (Americas Society/Council of the Americas), which was directly involved in the Chilean coup – at one point they offered half a million dollars to Chilean senators in 1970 to block Salvador Allende from taking power, and they’ve been involved in almost every coup in Latin America and they are funded by all the big oil companies, by Boeing, by Microsoft, and they have this corporate PR publication called Americas Quarterly which has a revolving door with the New York Times, so Juliana Barbassa was the assistant managing editor of Americas Quarterly, and now she is the New York Times Latin America desk editor. So what does that mean? It means that the New York Times is simply parroting corporate PR about Latin America in general. I wouldn’t say it’s a failure – I would say they understand what the class issues are, but they have poor intentions. They are not actually doing journalism they are doing PR.

CM: You write that you focus mostly on Jacobin Magazine because it is the publication perhaps most associated with the rise of electorally competitive democratic socialism in the United States and because it so clearly exemplifies the broader trend we identify, so Jacobin, the publication that is the best example of the rise of democratic socialism in the US, is too highly critical of the Brazilian left, and here you are as a member of the Brazilian left being critical of Jacobin. Why is there this kind of disconnect between the US left and the rest of the left or maybe more accurately Brian, it’s the left of the global north and the left of the global south. What explains their disconnect and can there actually ever be international unity or are those two different kinds of leftists existing in two different kinds of environments so the chances of unity are very small?

BM: I think there are all kinds of chances for solidarity and unity in the international left. The whole point of the First International was to foster this, right? I think it´s possible. And I think that in the 1980s, before the internet, we had these publications like NACLA and Covert Action Quarterly which was founded by Phillip Agee, the CIA Diaries author, and there were some really interesting magazines and zines which you could buy in these cool bookstores and the subject number 1 in writing about the leftist struggle in Latin America was always US imperialism. I think it is outrageous that the American left stopped talking about US imperialism in Brazil and in other countries in Latin America. Me and my colleagues Sean and Bryan did a systematic reading of all 38 articles that Jacobin published between 2014 and the end of 2017 about Brazil and none of them mentioned US imperialism. None of them mentioned American petroleum companies. What is the point about even writing about Latin America as an American, or presenting articles by others as an American publication, if you are not going to talk about the elephant in the room which is the fact that the US held 44 successful coups in Latin America over a 100 year period. Hilary Clinton admitted to supporting the 2009 coup in Honduras in her own autobiography last year, and obviously, after Brazil discovered huge amounts of petroleum and developed new technology for deep water drilling that no one else had, obviously the US would be interested in the petroleum, so why would you run 38 consecutive articles that don’t mention US imperialism? Because when you fail to mention US imperialism, all that is left for you really is to just talk about what kind of mistakes the Brazilian left made. “Look, they failed”… This is why the article is ironically called the Failure of the US Left, you know, because you can’t talk about failure of the PT party or the Brazilian left without talking about who they were fighting and what the power differential was. You are talking about a political party that controlled 22% of Congress, never controlled the military, never controlled Congress or the Senate, or the Judiciary, fully, going up against the petroleum interests of the most powerful imperialist nation in the World. So you have to look at who they were fighting if you are going to talk about what they failed to do. But even so, wouldn’t it be better to start by listening to them talk about what they think they did right and what they think they did wrong? Because in all 38 of these articles they didn’t talk to anyone from the PT party once, or the CUT, the largest labor union federation in Brazil which has 7 million members and is the flesh and blood of the PT party really, the base that has been supporting it all along – that Lula came out of. Or even the Landless Peasants Movement [Landless Rural Workers Movement/MST] which is, by far, the largest and most important social movement in Brazil. The one time they ran an interview with someone from the MST, it was a 7 year old interview from a year in which the MST was supporting a candidate from a different political party, PSOL, in the Presidential elections. But in 2017, they were fully behind the PT party. So why would they run a 7 year old interview at that point? Just to build this narrative that the PT is no longer left, the PT is a neoliberal party, it´s failure, its sellout is what caused the coup- all of this kind of line of thinking that permeates all 38 of these articles. And what is ironic is the entire U-Turn that they did in 2018, which I attribute to Bhaskar (Sunkara) visiting Brazil and actually seeing what was going on down here and saying, ‘hey, slow down, we’ve got to give some solidarity to the PT party.’ They are the most powerful left political party in Latin America. They had 47 million votes this year even though they lost, and the party that Jacobin was pumping up as the future of the Brazilian left, which is the PSOL, got 500,000 votes. They were less electorally significant than the American Green Party.

CM: And you mention the difference between the two parties. One is that the PT has had a lot of success and that the other party hasn’t had a lot of success, but also PSOL, they kind of embrace the academic purity of the left, while the PT embraces the more populist left. Is that the delineation that we might be seeing when it comes to the US left criticism of left movements overseas, that they side with the more academic purist left and don’t like the populist left. Is that the big division that is happening within the left more generally, that it is academic left vs populist left?

BM: You know, Chuck, I can’t really talk authoritatively about the rest of the world’s left. What I do know a lot about is Brazil and so I will limit my comments to this and you can generalize accordingly. It is true that the PSOL party is dominated by academic leftists. And you would think that that would naturally appeal to American academic leftists and some of these publications like the Nation and Jacobin and whatever – I don’t know what they pay but they get writers who are grad students who are kind of academically orientated. But the PT party also has a huge and rich intellectual and academic tradition. Paulo Freire was one of the founders of the PT, and if you look at their presidential candidate this year, Fernando Haddad, he is a [Political Science] professor at the best university in Brazil [USP], and they have a lot of congressmen and senators who came out of academia because they were teachers union leaders, like Margarida Salomão, who is a Congresswoman from the PT [Minas Gerais], who has a doctorate and a post-doctorate in linguistics from UC Berkeley and was a teachers union leader, so just saying that it is because they sided with academia against the working class on this left divide in Brazil is not really that accurate. And I think they also missed a lot of nuance which is that the PSOL is a faithful ally of the PT in Brazil. They provide a lot of really needed and good criticism of the PT but when push comes to shove, in Congress, they vote together in over 90% of the issues. After the first round of elections was over this year, the PSOL supported Fernando Haddad in the second round. But if you read these 38 Jacobin articles, that nuance is kind of lost as well.

CM: So, Brian, just a few more questions for you. Does the PT simply not reflect the left that Jacobin supports? What’s wrong with applying ideological purity? Why shouldn’t our allegiance and concert be toward and about ideology first above and beyond everything else including the amazing outcomes that PT has had? Why shouldn’t we focus on ideology and ideological purity first?

BM: Well,first of all, Jacobin has been supporting the PT for the last year- they have done a 180 on the PT. But ideological purity is needed. It’s like how Gramsci said these small political parties serve educational and moralist purposes. I think that they are important for pulling the bigger parties farther to the left. Just as in the US we have these parties like the Libertarians who never get any votes but they pull the Republicans farther to the right, these small parties have an important role. But when you are not from that country, when you are from the country that just caused the coup, whose corporations are benefiting from the coup, for example through the [USD] $300 Billion tax cut that was made after the 2016 coup to US petroleum companies operating in Brazil, you know, then it begins to look like taking this pure left posture is actually just a very non-threatening thing to do that doesn’t threaten State Department objectives or capitalist institutions. In fact, it performs a validating role so that the conservatives can say, “we have a democracy in Brazil because we have these guys”, you know, who never threaten power. So I think it is a complex issue but I don’t think that, in the middle of a coup, adopting a far left ideological posture to attack the one party that has the base and the size and strength to try to counter fascism in a country is very helpful. In fact its like one of the leaders of the MST told me, sometimes this vanguard left posture is not revolutionary, it’s anti-revolutionary. Because if the main reason that the PT didn’t win the election this year was several years of anti-PTism in the media coming from the right, why would anti-PTism on the left help anything? If anything it just feeds farther into the conservative narrative. And you see talking points from Jacobin and from other left American publications being used in corporate media like the Guardian and the New York Times now, saying things like, “the PT has to be more humble. It has to publicly apologize for its mistakes.” And things like that. I believe that issue originated in Jacobin.

CMAnother thing that you point out is the Landless Workers Movement, the MST, another key actor in the Brazilian organized left. It was influential in the legalization of homesteading on unproductive or stolen land and despite constant media opposition and agribusiness violence, has obtained deeds for around 400,000 small farms since the 1980s. When we began This is Hell in 1996, this was the first aspect of Brazilian life that really grabbed my interest, the MST, and I know we had several interviews in the 1990s with members of Friends of the MST and other groups. You say that in contrast to their disdain for CUT, the Labor Union Federation that works, kind of, with the PT (but they are totally two different organizations), Jacobin authors seldom directly criticize what David Harvey, in a personal conversation with one of the authors, called, “the most perfect social movement in the world.” Rather they generally ignore the MST. In your opinion what doesn’t attract the US left in the form of Jacobin or anyone, to the most perfect social movement in the World, the MST.

BM: Well, first of all I worked with the MST for five years and they are much farther left in practice than anyone I’ve ever met from Jacobin. Because they actually squat on land that’s been stolen by ranchers and loggers and start farming on it, and resist, sometimes at gunpoint, to hold on to this land. And they are socialists, they have deep connections with the world left and the Cuban government, they developed a critical adult literacy methodology with direct help from Paulo Freire and they are real leftists who actually practice what they preach and they support the PT. So this puts these ideological purity measurers in an very uncomfortable position when they have to explain that the MST has been supporting the PT all these years.

CM: Just one last question for you Brian. You write that to their credit US left media have unequivocally condemned Bolsonaro and Jacobin is helping lead a solidarity campaign for the PT and Brazilian left, but what if the US left had moderated its criticism earlier to defend the PT against the developing coup. “Would there have been greater solidarity with Dilma Rousseff? Greater resistance to the Temer government’s attack on the working class? An earlier recognition of the threat of Bolsonaro? There is no way to know but perhaps it’s time for the US left to turn its critical gaze back on to itself.” What do you hope the US left would see when it reexamines itself following the way in which it reacted to the rise of Brazil’s right and to what happened to Brazil’s left?

BM: First of all I want to say that we took Jacobin as an example and gave it a high level of scrutiny. And I know Jacobin publishes a lot of good stuff in the US. But regarding your question, I think that these people on the American left who write about Latin America and other places should reflect about what the role of an American leftist really should be in this situation. Does it help to go and tell people in other countries that they are wrong? Or should they be looking at what their country is doing and how its actions are affecting these other countries, especially in the 3rd World. Because if you are just going to be bad mouthing people in another country because their left isn’t pure enough, what is the point? Why not talk about what your country is doing? It takes a little bit more courage to do that. But I think that is what the American left should be asking in terms of how it deals with issues in Latin America. What’s happened since the 1980s when left publications have just stopped talking about US imperialism? Is it because of grant funding? Is it due to all these foundations like the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation who are funding magazines that used to be really hard left like NACLA? I just don’t understand what is going on. What is even the point of doing it if you are not talking about what your country is doing to screw everybody over in the rest of the world? The US is the biggest imperialist country in the World. It’s stealing everybody’s oil, it’s killing people all over the place. And instead of talking about what it’s doing in Nicaragua or Venezuela or Brazil, you are just going to write about the mistakes that Brazilians or the Nicaraguans made? I think that is the question they should be asking themselves. Why aren’t we talking about our own country?

Listen to the interview here:

[Brian Mier is an editor at Brasil Wire and a freelance writer and producer.]

Failed Regime Change in Nicaragua. OAS & Amnesty International: Killing, Torturing Sandinistas Is OK

Cuba-Network in Defense of Humanity

December 28, 2018

by Stephen Sefton

 

Between April and July this year, Nicaragua suffered an extremely violent attempt at regime change supported by the US government and its allies. Crucial integral components of that coup attempt were bad faith reporting by international human rights organizations and extremely distorted news coverage by Western media. Partisan human rights organizations and media falsely blamed Nicaragua’s Sandinista government for almost all the deaths during the coup, when the reverse is true. Over two hundred Sandinista supporters, uninvolved passers-by and police were killed and hundreds suffered intimidation, abuse and torture at the hands of the US supported opposition forces. By default, organizations like the Inter American Commission for Human Rights and Amnesty International make clear they could hardly care less.

The clearest failure in their false reporting of the conflict is the sinister, ridiculous insistence that the Nicaraguan opposition engaged principally in peaceful protest, a claim beyond absurd given the number of Sandinista and police casualties. This deliberately deceitful coverage of events in Nicaragua reflects the broad contamination of Western societies by what economist Bill Black and others call “control fraud” whereby companies, especially powerful financial companies, use superficially legitimate accounts and auditing controls deliberately to mislead investors. Such companies report inflated assets and minimal costs giving a deliberately untrue and misleading view of their company’s financial position. These powerful companies crowd out honest business practice and manipulate political leaders so as to co-opt justice officials and escape criminal prosecution.
The US government’s failed regime change attempt in Nicaragua this year, like the US offensives against Venezuela or Iran, for example, reveal how this corrupt process reaches into Western institutions of all kinds. Western non-profits, news media and multilateral institutions operate as one enormous corrupt combination via an infinite disinformation feedback loop, denying their countries’ peoples a true and fair view of world events. They falsely inflate how good and morally superior they are, their assets, while deceitfully minimizing the costs, the countless victims and the incalculable suffering. So the populations invested in that vast fraudulent concern think the system’s purported controls, like the media and the non governmental sector, work just fine when, in fact, almost everything is corrupt.

In Nicaragua’s case, two events demonstrate this reality very clearly. Firstly, Western reports on Nicaragua either completely omitted or else glibly dismissed the murderous attack last May on a Sandinista media outlet, Nuevo Radio Ya. The attack resulted from a false sensationalist claim by Miguel Mora, of the opposition’s propaganda outlet 100% Noticias, that his TV station was under attack that day. Mora appealed for opposition activists to attack Nuevo Radio Ya, which they did, setting it on fire, holding over 20 radio staff under siege and then shooting at firefighters and police attempting to control the fire and rescue the people inside. Only the bravery of the rescue services and the radio station staff prevented more severe injury and loss of life. That story has never been told in Western media except by probably the only two genuinely independent US writers to visit Nicaragua during the failed coup, Max Blumenthal and Dan Kovalik.

A second incident, among dozens of similar cases, also demonstrates the corruption of the Western human rights industry and their media accomplices. Last week, the Nicaraguan authorities made public the results of a painstaking investigation into one of the headline atrocities the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and Amnesty International attributed to the government when it took place on June 16th. That day a family of six including two children burned to death in an arson attack on their house. Immediately, the virulent opposition human rights organization CENIDH had its activists on the scene falsely accusing the government of the crime. Within hours the IACHR were also attributing the heinous attack to the government. Now, after months of investigation, the police have identified four of the arsonists on the basis of accusations by survivors of the fire, witness identification and testimony, forensic analysis and incriminating material from opposition social media. Two of the accused have been sent for trial and two are fugitives.

Very early during the coup attempt, the Nicaraguan government invited the OAS to send an Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts to assist the Nicaraguan authorities in their investigations as part of the IACHR mission in Nicaragua. But the IACHR presented what it called a final report to the Permanent Council of the OAS before that expert group had even started work. Now, the expert group has presented a report covering events up to May 30th that, predictably, reproduces the self-same false information as the earlier peremptory IACHR report based on reports by opposition media and human rights organizations. Like the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights before it, the IACHR expert group broke the terms of its original agreement with the government by engaging in activities it had no authority to undertake.

The term of the expert group’s visit had already expired when, on December 19th, the government decided to suspend the IACHR bodies’ presence in Nicaragua, accusing them of supporting the country’s minority opposition and its efforts to overthrow Nicaragua’s constitutional government. Earlier, the Interior Ministry on December 14th confirmed the National Assembly’s measure canceling the legal status of nine non-profit organizations who made illegal use of their resources to participate in and actively support the coup attempt. Those NGOs represent 0.2% of around 4300 non-profits registered with the country’s Interior Ministry. In another move to dismantle the opposition networks involved in the failed coup attempt, the government applied the country’s long standing legislation against incitement to hatred and arrested Miguel Mora, head of 100% Noticias, based on dozens of accusations by Sandinista victims of opposition violence, citing Mora for his hateful instigation of attacks suffered by them and their relatives.

As in the case of measures by the Venezuelan authorities to protect their country’s society from similar crimes, Western media coverage of these recent events in Nicaragua misrepresents them as moves by a dictatorship. But for people in Nicaragua they represent legitimate measures to defend the rule of law, economic stability and citizen security. Western media and human rights organization persistently omit sadistic, murderous opposition violence and grotesquely misrepresent steps by the Venezuelan and Nicaraguan governments to protect people from it. By covering up the opposition’s crimes they make themselves accomplices to them, as the Nicaraguan government noted in relation to the IACHR, it “ constitutes a platform for the broadcasting of false information to promote international sanctions against our country as did the IACHR official Maria Claudia Pulido in her visit to the United States last September 27th, promoting from overseas the rupture of constitutional order and the attempted coup d’etat against Nicaragua’s legitimate government, thus violating the impartiality established in the OAS Charter.”

By refusing to acknowledge the reality of wholesale murderous opposition violence during the failed coup attempt, the IACHR and its NGO camp followers like Amnesty International have confirmed they are accessories to the US government’s regime change operation in Nicaragua. They have been willing accomplices to the killing, burning, rape, abuse and torture of hundreds of Sandinistas, which they have tried disgracefully to cover up.

 

[Stephen Sefton lives in Nicaragua and is a founder of Tortilla con Sal.] 

The Green New Deal has an AFL-CIO Problem

January 7, 2019

By Michael Swifte

 

Image: SARAH SILBIGER / eyevine

Not only does the #GreenNewDeal have an AFL-CIO problem, it has an International Brotherhood of Boilermakers problem, an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers problem, a SMART Transportation Division (of the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers) problem, a United Mine Workers of America problem, a United Steel Workers problem, and a Utility Workers Union of America problem. These labor organisations are a problem for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the climate cartel, the Sunrise Movement, and the Democratic Socialists of America because they are all members of the Carbon Capture Coalition which is supporting bipartisan efforts to expand tax credits for carbon capture from coal, gas, and oil for utilization in enhanced oil projects that result in geological storage of CO2.

The Carbon Capture Coalition was formed from the participants in the National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative. Executive Director of the Industrial Union Council at AFL-CIO, Brad Markell made this statement at the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Legislative Education Action Program (LEAP) 2016 conference:

[Carbon Capture and Storage] is something that those of us who work on energy in Washington are spending a lot of time on. It’s a must-have technology; it’s the way we are going to keep coal plants open in this country. It’s the way we’re going to take advantage of our hundreds of years of coal. [SOURCE]

Cory Channon, the Assistant to the International President and Assistant Director of Construction Sector Operations (Canada) for the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers made this statement ahead of last year’s Accelerating CCS Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland:

The Boilermakers can be part of the solution by insuring that, through the expansion and building of CCS plants, we will be there to complete the construction phases, maintain the work on schedule and on budget. This is our responsibility to every person and living thing on our planet. Please share our video and help us spread the word. [SOURCE ]

The video that Channon is championing is called ‘Bridge to a Clean Energy Future’. It’s a production of Boilermaker Videos and features an interview with Ian MacGregor, the Chair and CEO of North West Refining who are leading the development of the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line which is designed to transport liquefied CO2 sequestered from tar sands refining to depleted oil fields in the Williston Basin for use in CO2 enhanced oil recovery.

In the video MacGregor gives his opinion on those who believe we can achieve anything like 100% renewables by 2030 saying:

40% of the people believe that we’re going to be off petroleum in 10 years from now. Is that on Mars that they believe that?

MacGregor is only one of many corporate executives and CEOs engaged with labor organisations around CCS and enhanced oil recovery. Here is a list of some of the better known corporations participating in the Carbon Capture Coalition:

Air Liquide, Arch Coal, Linde LLC, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America, Inc, NRG Energy, Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Peabody Energy, Shell [SOURCE]

Richard Trumka, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations president, addresses members during the quadrennial AFL-CIO convention at Los Angeles Convention Center on Monday, Sept 9, 2013 in Los Angeles. The AFL-CIO plans to open its membership to more non-union groups in an effort to restore the influence of organized labor as traditional union rolls continue to decline. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

 

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka was very specific about his support for carbon capture and storage in his 2016 address to the Boilermakers Convention.

We know carbon capture, use and storage is necessary to reduce global emissions. The truth is, developing countries around the world are building coal-fired power plants as fast as possible. We can address climate change and be an international energy leader by investing in and developing clean emissions technology. It exists. Let’s make it work for us. [SOURCE]

DNC resolutions

In August 2018 only 2 months after it’s June 2018 resolution to reject fossil fuel industry donations, the DNC voted 30-2 in favour of a resolution submitted by DNC Chair, Tom Perez which specifically mentions “fossil fuel workers” and “carbon capture and storage”.

WHEREAS, these workers, their unions and forward-looking employers are powering  America’s all-of-the-above energy economy and moving us towards a future fueled by clean and low emissions energy technology, from renewables to carbon capture and storage to advanced nuclear technology; and

 

WHEREAS, to support fossil fuel workers in an evolving energy economy, we must commit to securing their right to a strong, viable economic future, which includes maintaining employment and their health care and pension benefits; [SOURCE]

In June 2018, Democrat Party strategist Christine Pelosi, daughter of Congresswoman and newly appointed House speaker Nancy Pelosi submitted a resolution to the DNC calling for a response to the negative effects caused by the burning of fossil fuel and “grassroots” action that resembles the efforts of the Green New Deal allies.  

WHEREAS, we Democrats have the opportunity to reform and revive our party by empowering diverse grassroots Democrats at the leadership table and in our communities including building on our recent successes with small donor fundraising programs;[SOURCE]

Climate cartel connections

On November 12, 2018 Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was welcomed into the Congressional Progressive Caucus at the AFL-CIO Washington headquarters along with other new ‘liberal lawmakers’. Representatives of Move On and Indivisible were in attendance.

On December 3, 2018 Cortez joined Bernie Sanders, Bill McKibben, Van Jones and others at a ‘town hall’ event organised by the Sanders team. This was the unofficial kick off for the Green New Deal.

Van Jones is a noted author on green jobs, a fellow at John Podesta’s Center for American Progress, a member of the US Advisory Council of 350.org, and a former trustee of the Natural Resources Defense Council who were participants in the National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative for 4 years up until the creation of the Carbon Capture Coalition.

Jones’ connection to Podesta is reason for great concern. Podesta has been instrumental to philanthropic efforts to shape climate activism to suit the ambitions of the fossil fuel  industry. The ClimateWorks Foundation is at the center of a collection of foundations connected through an agenda setting document first published in 2007 called ‘Design to Win: Philanthropy’s role in the fight against global warming’. Indeed this document is the foundation of ClimateWorks’ efforts for the last decade. It lays out the imperatives for philanthropy to instil in the climate justice and environmental organisations that it incubates and funds.

The plain message from the ‘Design to Win’ is that when it comes to climate change, philanthropies should accept the inevitability of the implementation of carbon capture and storage for fossil fuels. In the intervening decade, with the expansive work of granting organisations like ClimateWorks, the global climate justice movement was incubated to be no threat to the left arm of the neoliberal machine (Democrats). Organisations like MoveOn, GetUp, Avaaz, Purpose, and ResPublica (which all share the same co-founders) play a pivotal role in circling climate activists around to the neoliberal agenda. The granting and incubation efforts of the ClimateWorks Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Energy Foundation, Oak Foundation, Joyce Foundation, and Sandler Foundation served to help maintain a concession/capitulation position in favor of fossil fuel and biomass based carbon capture and storage. The following passage shows that the underlying assumption for the authors of ‘Design to Win’ was always that coal could not be stopped:

Reduce emissions from unavoidable coal through carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). Even under the sunniest of scenarios, efficiency gains and expanded use of alternative energy sources won’t displace enough coal in the next two decades to forestall catastrophic climate change, so we must find a way to separate CO2 emissions from coal plants and store them beneath the earth. CCS, which remains in its infancy, deserves a critical push from philanthropy so that it can be rapidly deployed where demand for coal power is the greatest. [SOURCE]

Podesta, as a Clinton Global Initiative insider, and as the leader of a global granting body has been highly influential on the messaging and talking points used by the global climate justice movement. He has on several occasions revealed his leanings in regard to carbon capture and storage. He recently visited with Norwegian CCS promoting NGO, the Bellona Foundation.

ClimateWorks, in telling their own story, leave out the sewn-in concession/capitulation to CCS choosing to emphasize their support for ‘climate philanthropy’.

Committed to seeing these strategies put into action, three foundations — Hewlett, Packard, and McKnight — created ClimateWorks in 2008, with the goal of increasing philanthropic impact on climate change. During our first six years, ClimateWorks made hundreds of grants worldwide, helped build capacity in key regions, and collaborated with a network of partners to support research, policy advocacy, outreach and public engagement, all with the aim of reducing the emissions that cause climate change. [SOURCE]

45Q tax credits

45Q tax credits benefit coal and gas burners who sequester CO2 and pipe it to depleted conventional oil fields for oil drillers who use CO2 miscible flooding to liberate the remnant oil.

The expansion of 45Q tax credits which were first passed into law through the 2008 ‘bail out’ bill was achieved by the passing of the FUTURE Act. The passage of the FUTURE Act and the advancement of the USE IT Act represents the most significant bipartisan achievement of the Trump presidency. They were spearheaded by Democrat Senator for North Dakota, Heidi Heitkamp (outgoing) and Senator for Rhode Island, Sheldon Whitehouse.

Heitkamp’s press release announcing the successful passage of the FUTURE Act contained the following statement from AFL-CIO’s Brad Markell:

This is a good day for the climate and a good day for American jobs. These provisions will advance the use of technologies that significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and will create high-paying jobs in the energy, construction and manufacturing sectors. [SOURCE]

Upon the introduction of the USE It Act Republican Senator for Wyoming John Barasso commended the leadership of Democrat senators and acknowledged the bipartisan efforts that brought the bills to their current state.

 In developing both the FUTURE Act and the USE IT Act, senators on both sides of the aisle have found areas of common ground.

 

I appreciate Senator Whitehouse’s leadership as we worked together to develop the USE IT Act. [SOURCE]

When the USE IT Act passed the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Senator Whitehouse made this statement:

Building on the bipartisan cooperation behind the carbon capture and utilization tax credit, this bill can help get carbon removal projects rolling. It signals to utilities that we mean business and points the way for companies in Rhode Island and across the country finding innovative uses for carbon dioxide. [SOURCE]

Senator Heitkamp also underlined the significance of the bipartisan efforts that delivered the FUTURE Act and have helped advance the USE IT Act:

CCUS benefits a wide range of industries, paves a long-term opportunity for North Dakota lignite coal, and supports enhanced oil recovery efforts in the Bakken – all while reducing carbon pollution. Just as we were able to build strong bipartisan support for the FUTURE Act and eventually see it get signed into law, we’re now on the right track with the USE IT Act. Passage in this committee is an important step forward for jobs and economic progress in North Dakota, and an all-of-the-above energy strategy that supports American jobs and will help the U.S. become a leader in developing and selling CCUS technologies. [SOURCE]

The Carbon Capture Coalition statement on the FUTURE Act and the USE IT Act also celebrates the strength and “breadth” of bipartisan support for carbon capture and storage.

The bipartisan support for both bills was unprecedented for legislation of its kind, spanning the political spectrum from all regions of the country and underscoring the breadth of support for carbon capture. [SOURCE]

Mike Langford, National President, Utility Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO also applauded bipartisan efforts and repeated the call for new CO2 pipelines.

The Utility Workers Union of America applauds the bipartisan work of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in moving the USE IT Act one step closer to becoming law. In seeking to facilitate the build-out of carbon dioxide pipelines and supporting research into carbon dioxide capture and utilization, the USE IT Act promotes cutting edge technology, enabling the creation of entirely new energy systems that will sustain family-supporting jobs and healthy communities for decades to come. [SOURCE]

All the things that wont change

Copper Mines photo(s) Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto EDWARD BURTYNSKY / OTTWP

Exploding oil trains, mountain top removal, poisoned and destroyed aquifers, poisoned rivers, oil spills, gas leaks, exploitation and violence against Indigenous people, and the continued hegemony of fossil fuel loving, consumer-overconsumption-driving global elites will continue if the proponents of the Green New Deal do not address the political will for carbon capture utilization and storage as demonstrated by a large segment of North American industrial labor organizations.

Some people will tell you they don’t think CCS is viable, but it is clearly what the big corporations want. They have convinced the big labor organizations to support their plans with the help of philanthropies who spend money with prejudice to incubate activist groups and NGOs with a built in blind spot for the political will. Activist groups like the Sunrise Movement, and political leaders like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez need to call out those democrats who steered and voted for bipartisan tax credit expansion for fossil fuel energy generation, refining and extraction. If they don’t then the Shangri-La of “100% Renewable” energy will be put even further beyond reach.

Sunrise political director and co-founder, Evan Weber

What we are seeing in the collaboration of the Democratic Socialists of America and the Sunrise Movement – almost certainly incubated by the climate cartel – is the exploitation of a political moment to use ‘climate’ as an object of propagandization to carry particular talking points to the public. The non-profit industrial complex with it’s interlocking directorate of behavior change, movement incubation, and networked governance agencies built this opportunity to propagandize reformist measures to tackle impossible goals while framing out the well funded and impending reality that fossil fools will do everything, absolutely everything they need to do to get their way.

 

[Michael Swifte is an Australian activist and a member of the Wrong Kind of Green critical thinking collective.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canadian Charity Used Donations to Fund Projects Linked to Israeli Military

CBC

January 4, 2019

By Evan Dyer

 

JNF says it has since stopped the practice, which contravenes Canadian tax rules

 

Israeli air force cadets toss their caps into the air during a graduation ceremony at the Hatzerim air force base in southern Israel in 2014. A Canadian charity that funds projects in Israel has faced claims that some of its charitable donations have gone to support projects on Israeli military bases in violation of Canadian tax rules. (Tsafrir Abayov/Associated Press)

The Jewish National Fund of Canada, one of the country’s long-established charities, has been the subject of a Canada Revenue Agency audit over a complaint that it used charitable donations to build infrastructure for the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), in violation of Canada’s tax rules.

The JNF funds numerous projects in Israel, such as reforestation efforts in areas hit by wildfires and the construction of playgrounds for special needs children.

However, it has also funded infrastructure projects on Israeli army, air and naval bases. While no law bars a Canadian citizen from writing a cheque directly to Israel’s Ministry of Defence, rules do ban tax-exempt charities from issuing tax receipts for such donations, and also ban donors from claiming tax deductions for them.

The organization, which disclosed to donors last year that it has been under audit by the Canada Revenue Agency, said it stopped funding those projects in 2016.

A JNF Israel webpage describes Canadian-sponsored projects on Bat Galim Naval Base and Palmachim Airbase in Israel. (KKL-JNF)

That would not protect it from action by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), which in August revoked the charitable status of an Ottawa mosque for promoting “hate and intolerance” by inviting controversial speakers, and for financial irregularities that took place between 2009 and 2014 under a previous group of directors.

Guidelines clear on the law

In its guide for Canadian registered charities carrying out activities outside Canada, the CRA states plainly that “increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of Canada’s armed forces is charitable, but supporting the armed forces of another country is not.”

Yet JNF documents describe some of the charity’s spending in Israel in those very terms.

One JNF Canada document called “Project Opportunities” refers to an “outdoor fitness area at a Gadna military base,” describing Israel’s Gadna program as “a special program for young people in Israel that prepares them for their service in the Israel Defence Forces.” The project included “a fitness area for the regular army staff at the Gadna base in Sde Boker.”

A JNF Canada Youth Leadership Solidarity Mission picked up tools to help build the hilltop outpost of Givat Oz VeGaon in the West Bank, south of Bethlehem, in 2014. (KKL-JNF)

Documents produced by JNF Canada’s Israeli parent organization, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL-JNF), shed additional light on military projects funded by its Canadian affiliate.

They include developing “the new planned IDF Training Base City in the Negev” desert, “helping the development of the Bat Galim training base complex area” at Bat Galim Naval Base, “helping to facilitate the upgrade of the existing auditorium for soldier intake, training and conferences” at the same base and a new “moadon” or mess hall-type facility for the 124th (Blackhawk) Helicopter Squadron at Palmachim Air Force Base (“where crew can relax and refuel”), as well as a similar facility for 131 Squadron at Nevatim Air Force Base.

The logic behind the CRA’s guidance to charities is that issuing Canadian tax receipts for contributions to foreign militaries effectively reduces the revenue available to support Canada’s own defence spending.

In 2014, JNF Edmonton’s Negev Gala dinner was serenaded by members of the Royal Canadian Artillery Band. According to JNF Edmonton’s Facebook page, “proceeds from (2014’s) Negev Gala will develop three areas of the Negev’s Tse’elim army base, the largest military training facility in Israel. The project will upgrade and landscape the family visiting area, intake and release facility and the barracks’ main plaza. The base is the national centre for ground forces training.”

JNF Canada declined an interview request for this story, but CEO Lance Davis told CBC News in an email that while the organization has funded projects that support the IDF in the past, it stopped doing so in 2016 after being informed of the CRA guidance.

“To be clear, we no longer fund projects located on IDF land and JNF Canada operates in accordance with CRA regulations governing its status as a charitable organization,” Davis wrote in the email.

Greening the land

Megan McKenzie says she first came across the Jewish National Fund when she was planning a bequest in memory of her nature-loving Jewish grandmother. The Jewish National Fund is famous for planting trees, “greening the land of Israel.”

McKenzie is a professional mediator and conflict consultant who is married to a Canadian soldier and lives at CFB Shilo in Manitoba. Having worked in conflict resolution from Ireland to DR Congo, she said was “dumbfounded” to find that the JNF was involved in projects she believed did not conform to Canada’s charitable rules.

“I have a PhD and I’m sort of a natural researcher and so I did some online research,” she said. “And the more I did, the more appalled I was.”

Megan McKenzie says she found examples of JNF Canada funds benefiting the Israeli Defence Force when she looked into making a donation to the charity on behalf of her late grandmother. (CBC News)

McKenzie’s online research led her to webpages for both JNF Canada and its parent organization giving extensive details on the charity’s support for the Israeli military and its reforestation projects that have sprawled across the 1949 armistice line (the “Green Line”) into occupied West Bank territory.

In the case of the JNF’s Canada Park project, occupied land forested by the JNF was enclosed on the Israeli side of the barrier Israel built to separate its citizens from the Palestinian population in the West Bank.

A new complaint

Canada Park was JNF Canada’s first large project in Israel and the West Bank, built on the site of three Palestinian villages left empty after 1967’s Six Day War.

Retired physician Ismail Zayid of Halifax was born in one of those villages, Beit Nuba. He has been complaining to CRA about JNF’s charitable status for 40 years.

“I wrote to (the CRA) repeatedly,” he said. “They would say they are conducting an investigation of (the) complaint, and then I would write again and say, ‘What are the findings of your investigation?’ And they would say, ‘The findings are confidential.'”

Retired physician Ismail Zayid has initiated several complaints about JNF Canada, most recently in 2017. (CBC News)

In October 2017, Zayid filed a new formal complaint, this time in concert with an Ottawa professor, a Vancouver rabbi and a retired nurse from Montreal and using some of McKenzie’s research (the complaint has been backed by the activist organization Independent Jewish Voices Canada, which has mounted a “Stop the JNF Canada” campaign). The CRA appears so far to have taken no action against the charity, although it has subjected JNF to an audit.

The CRA declined to be interviewed for this story, citing confidentiality. But JNF Canada’s Davis said in an email to CBC News the charity is “currently engaged in ongoing confidential discussions with CRA.” Davis dismissed the complaint as “a rehash” and called IJVC “a longstanding opponent of JNF.”

Building in the West Bank

The 2017 complaint includes new information about JNF’s contributions to Israeli military infrastructure projects and its involvement in building in the West Bank.

Canada officially opposes Israeli settlement-building in occupied territory. CRA policy statement CSP-P13 states: “The courts have held that an organization is not charitable in law if its activities are contrary to public policy.”

Canada states its position on settlements on Global Affairs Canada’s website: “Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The settlements also constitute a serious obstacle to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.”

JNF Canada missions in Israel also have contributed directly to the construction of at least one hilltop settler outpost that was declared illegal by the State of Israel itself. Givat Oz VeGaon received and ignored at least 18 demolition orders from the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

A JNF Canadian Young Leadership Solidarity Mission visited the site in August-September 2014 and worked with picks and shovels “to prepare the ground for building a residential unit to be used by the security guard.”

‘KKL for IDF’

A JNF Israel document describes construction work carried out within Tel Nof Airbase in Israel in 2015, paid for by its Canadian subsidiary.(KKL-JNF)

In a 2014 document produced by the JNF Canada’s parent organization, the Israeli JNF’s Resources and Development Division lists a dozen “KKL for IDF” projects over the previous decade as “Canada-sponsored,” mostly in the period 2011-14.

One JNF Canada document from 2014 offers donors the chance to participate in the construction of a “meeting point” to enable soldiers to see family members while on active service. Canadian donors are also invited to fund a 900-metre “security road” at Kadesh Barne’a near the Egyptian border that “will improve access to the area for security forces.”

A KKL-JNF document describes its roads in the western Negev as “security roads which serve the armed forces that patrol the border zones … All the work undertaken by KKL-JNF is coordinated with the IDF … Thanks to these roads, military activity is enhanced.”

‘Improving the quality of lives of Israelis’

In an email to CBC News, Davis said these projects were just part of the works funded by JNF Canada.

“Thanks to the generosity of Canadians, JNF Canada has played an important role in a wide range of projects in Israel. We have, for example, supported the building of water reservoirs, collaborated with dozens of educational institutions, built numerous recreational/educational facilities, planted millions of trees and supported pioneering research in green technology,” he said.

Laureen Harper poses with JNF Gala honorees during a group visit to 24 Sussex Drive in 2015. (JNF Canada)

“In keeping with our mission of improving the quality of lives of Israelis, we have in the past funded projects of a charitable nature that indirectly involved the IDF. These projects were built on land owned by the IDF primarily for the benefit of children and youth. When it came to our attention several years ago that supporting these types of projects may not be in keeping with CRA policies, we stopped funding them.”

In a subsequent email, Davis said that “the last project we funded was in June 2016 and it was directed to the Hatzerim Airforce Base for a playground/soccer field for the children living on the base.”

Hatzerim is home to the Israeli Air Force’s flight academy and three combat squadrons.

Low marks for transparency

Kate Bahen heads Charity Intelligence, a Toronto-based NGO that produces a report rating Canadian charities on their transparency and efficiency in spending donors’ money.

“When you look at JNF Canada, it’s fine for cost efficiency,” said Bahen. “It really falls down on financial transparency and accountability. For financial transparency, it gets zero.”

Bahen said the charity has done the right thing by disclosing to donors that it’s being audited, but it is “an utter black box” when it comes to providing a breakdown of how its money is spent.

“Any Canadian donor who knows of JNF automatically thinks of planting trees. And there is a lot more to JNF than planting trees.

“We have absolutely no information on how much it’s spent planting trees, how much goes for irrigation, or education, or how much is diverted to military bases. And that information, I think, is critical, and it’s not provided to Canadian donors.”

Support in Canada

JNF has had strong relations with successive Conservative and Liberal governments. One of its recent projects in Israel is the Stephen J. Harper Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary in Galilee. Another is John Baird Park in Sderot.

Stephen Harper helps to lay the cornerstone of the JNF’s Stephen J. Harper Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary in the Galilee region of northern Israel in January 2014. Harper played the keyboard at a Toronto JNF dinner to raise funds for the project, which remains uncompleted.(JNF)

Although the group enjoyed particularly strong links with the Harper government, it also has been close to the Trudeau government.

Last July, Ralph Goodale, Canada’s minister of Public Safety, planted a pistachio tree at the JNF’s VIP Tree Planting Center in Jerusalem. He was accompanied by fellow Liberal MP Michael Levitt, a former board member of JNF Canada.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Liberal MP Michael Levitt plant a tree at JNF’s VIP Tree Planting Center in the mountains above Jerusalem in July 2017. (KKL-JNF)

 

[Evan Dyer has been a journalist with CBC for 18 years, after an early career as a freelancer in Argentina. He works in the Parliamentary Bureau and can be reached at evan.dyer@cbc.ca.]

Organ Theft, Staged Attacks: UN Panel Details White Helmets’ Criminal Activities, Media Yawns

In Gaza

December 25, 2018

By Eva Bartlett

 

Utter silence. That is the sound of Western corporate media days after a more than one-hour-long panel on the White Helmets at the United Nations on December 20.

Journalists were present, so the silence isn’t due to lack of access. And in any case it was live streamed on the UNTV channel, and remains available on Youtube for keen observers to watch.

More likely, the silence is due to the irrefutable documentation presented on the faux-rescue group’s involvement in criminal activities, which include organ theft, working with terrorists — including as snipers — staging fake rescues, thieving from civilians, and other non-rescuer behaviour.

On the panel was one of corporate media’s favourite targets to smear, British journalist Vanessa Beeley, who gave a fact-based lecture on her years of research into the founding, funding and nefarious activities of the White Helmets, research which includes numerous visits to White Helmets centers, countless testimonies from Syrian civilians, and even an interview with a White Helmets leader in Dara’a al-Balad, Syria.

Maxim Grigoriev, the director of the Foundation for the Study of Democracy (a member of the UN’s Global Counter-Terrorism Research Network) spoke at length, detailing some of the over 100 eyewitnesses his foundation has conducted interviews with.

These include over 40 White Helmets members, 15 former terrorists, 50 people from areas where terrorists and WH operated, with another over 500 interviewed by survey in Aleppo and Daraa.

Among testimonies presented by Grigoriev were numerous accounts of the White Helmets’ involvement in organ theft.

A head of nursing in Aleppo is cited as seeing the body of his neighbour who had been taken by the White Helmets to Turkey for “treatment”. “I lifted the sheet and saw a large wound cut from the throat to the stomach… I touched him with my hand and understood there were clearly no organs left.”

Another interviewee said: “A person receives a minor injury, is rescued… and then brought back with their stomach cut open and with their internal organs missing.”

The interviews with civilians, White Helmets and terrorist members themselves put to rest NATO’s and their lapdog media’s explanations that in the White Helmets there are a few bad apples but in general these are humanitarian rescuers.

For example, a Syrian civilian, Omar al-Mustafa, is cited as stating:

“Almost all people who worked in nearby White Helmets centers were al-Nusra fighter or were linked to them. I tried to join the White Helmets myself, but I was told that if I was not from al-Nusra, they could not employ me.”

Still more testimonies detail staged fake rescues and staged chemical attacks. Omar al-Mustafa was cited as stating:

“I saw them (White Helmets) bring children who were alive, put them on the floor as if they had died in a chemical attack.”

The testimonies incriminate not only the White Helmets organization, but also the doctors who, in 2016, Western corporate media fawned over.

According to one interviewee, Mohamed Bashir Biram, his attempt to take his father to a White Helmets affiliated al-Bayan hospital, failed. He said: “Since my father was not a fighter, the doctors in the hospital refused to help him and he died.”

But in 2016, the Western media was praising the same valiant doctors, in their crescendo of war propaganda around Aleppo.

Many other independent journalists have corroborated aspects of what the panelists — also comprising Syrian journalist Rafiq Lotef, and Russian and Syrian Representatives to the UN, Ambassadors Vassily Nebenzia and Bashar al-Ja’afari — described in detail.

In my own visits to eastern Ghouta towns last April and May, residents likewise spoke of organ theft, staged rescues, the White Helmets working with Jaysh al-Islam, while an Aleppo man likewise described them as thieves who steal from civilians, not rescuers.

Copy-paste corporate media silence

Journalists present at the panel were not interested in asking follow-up questions on organ theft, staged rescues, or any of the content presented, unsurprisingly, instead asking questions about other Syrian issues.

A CBS journalist didn’t have a single question about what had just been presented, although CBS has previously repeatedly reported on the White Helmets. But their reporting, like most in corporate media, spun the transparent propaganda that is corporate media coverage of the group.

Four days after the UN panel, to my knowledge, not a single corporate media outlet has covered the event and its critical contents.

This is in spite of the fact that the Western corporate media has been happy to propagandize about the White Helmets for years, and to attack those of us who dare to present testimonies and evidence from on the ground in Syria which contradicts the official narrative.

Russian, Syrian, and Lebanese media did report on the panel, and of course if Western corporate journalists ever do bother to mention it, they will ignore the incriminating evidence presented by panellists and instead accuse Russia of bullying the White Helmets.

Prior to the panel, a number of publications came out with articles echoing one another, and in fact echoing claims already repeatedly uttered about a “Russian disinformation campaign against the White Helmets.

That’s right, that’s the best they’ve got.

‘Big bad Russia’ tarnishing the pristine image of the White Helmets, a theme rerun ad nauseum over the last year or two, and one which I addressed in early January 2018 when I was under attack for questioning the White Helmets.

In my rebuttal to a mid-December 2017 Guardian smear, I pointed out that it was not Russia which began looking into the White Helmets’ affiliations, funding, and role in the propaganda war, but two independent North American researchers.

Canadian journalist Cory Morningstar in September 2014 exposed the role of the New York based PR firm, Purpose Inc, in marketing campaigns for the White Helmets.

And as I wrote, “In April 2015, American independent journalist revealed that the White Helmets had been founded by Western powers and managed by a British ex-soldier, and noted the “rescuers” role in calling for Western intervention—a No Fly Zone on Syria.”

These, and the subsequent numerous investigations by Vanessa Beeley, including on the ground in Syria, taking countless testimonies of Syrian civilians on the matter of the White Helmets, far precede any Russian media reporting on the group.

That Russian media and bodies have since done their own investigations does not equate to a “disinformation campaign”, but rather doing the job corporate media are clearly incapable of, and unwilling to do.

Why haven’t the media written about the panel, or as per the corporate media norm, issued yet more smears against panellists?

They haven’t because they are cornered, and while they can always try their standard juvenile character smears and libel, they cannot refute the facts, the countless testimonies which corroborate yet still more testimonies taken by independent journalists over the years.

Or as Ambassador Nebenzia said:

“We understand why #WhiteHelmets are being defended by #Western capitals. They do not hide that they provided substantial financial support to this organization and instrumentalized it to pursue political goals under humanitarian cover. It’s logical to protect your asset.”

Last week, it came out that German reporter for Der Spiegel, Claas Relotius, winner of the German Reporter Award 2018, had falsified a number of his articles. One article on the fakery noted Relotius had, “confessed to have fabricated at least 14 of 55 articles,” including a “story about a Syrian boy who believed he triggered the civil war in the country with his graffiti, an article that won the German Reporter Prize just three weeks ago but which was made up.”

Former German journalist, Udo Ulfkotte, in 2014 reached his tipping point and admitted to having for years lied for Western, anti-Russia interests, admitting to making propaganda against Russia after having been bribed by billionaires, and by the Americans, to “not to report exactly the truth.”

As 2018, a year of staggering corporate media fake news, draws to a close, so do the last vestiges of credibility of media lauding the White Helmets.

Given the scandalous depth of their lies, it is unlikely corporate journalists will have an Ulfkotte moment and admit to their manifold deceptions.

But it doesn’t really matter, because more and more, Western corporate media, and the propaganda construct known as the White Helmets they support, are becoming irrelevant.

 

[Eva Bartlett is an independent Canadian rights and justice activist and freelance journalist. She has spent years in occupied Palestine, documenting Zionist crimes against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and volunteering with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM).]

Nicaragua and the Corruption, Cooptation of Human Rights

Tortilla Con Sal

January 5, 2019

By Stephen Sefton

 

Carrie Reichardt & The Treatment Rooms Collective “Power to the People” Quote by Berthldt Brecht  –  Disobedient Objects exhibit, 2014

 

Since the demise of the Soviet Union, almost 30 years ago, abuse and debasement of human rights concerns have served increasingly to create pretexts promoting Western dominance around the world. From former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, to Iraq and Sudan, to Ivory Coast, Libya and Syria, to Myanmar and Ukraine, Western governments have used non governmental human rights organizations and abuse of the United Nations system to attack countries resisting the demands of US and allied elites and the governments they control. In Latin America, that dynamic has long targeted Cuba, more recently Venezuela, now Nicaragua and will soon attack Bolivia and probably Mexico too, if the new progressive government there shows too much independence. The US and European elites have stepped up their efforts at regime change in Latin America and the Caribbean so as to guarantee access to and control of the region’s abundant natural resources, because Chinese and Russian influence is blocking their accustomed control of the majority world in Eurasia and Africa.

Like Venezuela previously, Nicaragua has been targeted by the US dominated Organization of American States using local US and European funded non-profit proxies inside Nicaragua and Western corporate dominated non-governmental organizations. They have manipulated international and regional human rights institutions so as to violate fundamental precepts of international law like self-determination and non-intervention. Just as in the 1980s in Nicaragua, Angola, Mozambique and elsewhere, and now both Venezuela and Nicaragua again, violent armed non-governmental actors have been used to destabilize the country and create a context allowing false reporting of human rights concerns so as to discredit revolutionary governments.

As independent US writer Max Blumenthal pointed out in an interview in July last year, “…how I know that there was a regime change operation afoot – and when I say “regime change operation,” I mean an attack not just on a government but on the nation-state, a plan to reduce a country to a failed state like Libya – is that Ken Roth surfaced after the Nicaraguan government had essentially won and removed the roadblocks, allowing the economy which had bled $500 million to start functioning again, allowing citizens to start moving around. Ken Roth, the dictator of Human Rights Watch, who has been in the same position for 25 years, catering to a small cadre of billionaires and elite foundations with almost no constituency base, blamed the government for every single death.  Meaning that zero Sandinistas died according to Ken Roth.”

Blumenthal’s insight into the inextricable relationship between human rights NGOs and Western corporate elites suggests a series of points which categorically undermine glib acceptance of false human rights accusations against Nicaragua. The Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and NGOs like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are all guilty of extreme bad faith, non-compliance with basic norms and adherence to long discredited theoretical nostrums. In effect, they are themselves all accomplices to very serious human rights violations by Nicaragua’s US supported armed opposition. Four main considerations apply.

Firstly, on technical grounds none of these organizations have adhered even to the Huridocs guidelines, a tool created by and for Western government and corporate funded human rights organizations. The guidelines propose concepts and good practice in relation to fact-finding, documentation and monitoring of human rights violations. The IACHR, the UNOHCHR. Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have categorically failed to comply with  the HURIDOCS guidelines. In terms of fact finding, they systematically omit sources and facts that contradict or exclude their preferred finding. In terms of documentation, they systematically exclude abundant documentation from Nicaraguan government ministries, from the public prosecutor’s office, from the legislature’s Truth and Justice Commission, from the Institute of Legal Medicine and from the Office of the Procurator for Human Rights.

All that information to a greater or lesser extent contradicts the bogus fact finding of the OAS, the UN and foreign NGOs. In terms of monitoring the situation in Nicaragua, all those institutions and organizations depend exclusively on virulently politically biased local media, NGOs and opposition activists. So even on their own terms, their methodology does not comply with basic concepts and standards and, thus, the kinds of cases they have built to justify their findings would never stand up to impartial legal scrutiny. One farcical aspect of their approach has been to accuse the Nicaraguan government of repressing local media when their main sources by far are abundant citations of false reports from those same local media, relayed via dishonest local human rights NGOs.

Secondly, in theoretical terms, the approach of the IACHR, the UNOHCHR and foreign NGOs like Amnesty International has been to exclude violations by non-State actors, exactly the same faithless alibi they all used during the Cold War. But that theoretical framework has been outdated since 1993 when the UN Human Rights Convention in Vienna explicitly recognized the role of non-State actors in human rights abuses (thus recognizing how the US government and its allies used irregular forces, like the Contra in Nicaragua, RENAMO in Mozambique and UNITA in Angola, to apply systematic terrorism against civilian populations). As Carlos Emilio Lopez a leading Nicaraguan human rights activist and legislator has pointed out:

“In 1993, with the approval of the Vienna Declaration of Human Rights, the subject of respect for human rights was re-conceptualized. For many years it was considered that only States should respect human, rights but that understanding is already out of date. The reconceptualization of human rights is that States must respect human rights but companies, churches, organizations must also do so, social organizations, oligopolies, the media, people as individuals. In other words, we are all obliged to respect human rights, not only State institutions.” Thus, every time Amnesty International or the IACHR claim their remit excludes non-State actors, they are appealing to a theoretical framework 30 years out of date deliberately so as to wash their hands of abuses by political actors with whom they sympathize.

Thirdly, specifically with regard to Amnesty International, their organization has been corrupted and co-opted over many years now by corporate influence via links through their senior personnel with corporate globalization advocates whose explicit aim is to undermine and diminish the role of sovereign nation states. Amnesty International’s Secretary General and senior directors, their International Board and its Secretary General’s Global Council freely advertise their background working either directly with multinational corporations, or with corporate funders  or with other heavily corporate funded non profits. In this, Amnesty International, like Human Rights Watch, is very similar to the Purpose/AVAAZ corporate human rights conglomerate. Their human rights activities are guided by emphatic neoliberal hostility to nation-State governments, such that their reporting deliberately sets out to exclude or discredit information from government or other official sources. More broadly in Latin American and the Caribbean, accompanying the encroaching cooptation of NGOs by corporate predators like Purpose, the overtly political Atlas network supports NGOs promoting extreme right wing policies across the region, thus facilitating the ascent to power of fascists like Jair Bolsonaro.

Above: Par for the course marketing. No expense is spared by in the multitude of Amnesty International demonization campaigns targeting leaders that defy US foreign policy. This 2011 ad was created by the advertising firm Euro RSGC (Havas Creative), co-founder of TckTckTck (GCCA).

Fourthly, that corporate corruption and cooptation of Sean MacBride‘s original vision of the role and work of Amnesty International and similar organizations, is clearly manifest in their demonstrable bias in favor of US and allied countries’ foreign policy priorities. In that regard, Professor Francis Boyle, among many others, has been an authoritative and trenchant critic of Amnesty International’s role in Palestine and elsewhere, whereby it downplays or minimizes violations by States allied to NATO countries. On the other hand, institutions like the IACHR and the UNOHCHR and organizations like Amnesty International, systematically exaggerate and even invent violations in countries targeted by NATO member country governments. Thus in Latin America, the current horrific record of human rights violations in Colombia and, until AMLO, in Mexico, has been played down and minimized, while events in Cuba, Venezuela and now Nicaragua have been systematically misrepresented.

All these concerns about the practical bad faith, theoretical dishonesty, corporate co-optation and outright political bias of human rights institutions and organizations should give any intellectually honest person of progressive views pause. People genuinely concerned about human rights should reassess what they think they know about Nicaragua and about Venezuela too. The US and allied country corporate elites are determined to use the governments, institutions and NGOs they have bought, to destroy resistance to their domination in Latin America and the Caribbean. However, the 60th anniversary this year of Cuba’s revolution, together with the 40th anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua and the 20th anniversary of Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution suggest they will not have things all their own way.

 

[Stephen Sefton lives in Nicaragua and is a founder of Tortilla con Sal.] 

A Quick Note from WKOG

December 24, 2018

The Snowman , 1966 [Source]

 

To all our subscribers-

We would like to apologize for the recent email glitch. While making some much needed improvements to the Wrong Kind of Green website, an email was inadvertently sent to our subscribers in the process of making these modifications.

The post was due to implementing some software changes that will allow the website to be a much better viewing experience for our loyal followers. In that vein, we would like to say that although this was a momentary mistake, we will take all necessary precautions to ensure that this will not happen again.

Since its inception, we have worked for WKOG in a voluntary capacity – paying for all expenses out of our own shallow pockets. We have recently set up a Patreon account with a modest goal to obtain 200 loyal supporters (Patrons) who appreciate our efforts. If you are able to spare a few dollars a month – please consider us.

Over the past eight years, we have provided approx. 85 in-depth, researched investigative pieces on the environmental movement and the misguidance provided by the modern NGO movement in addressing the most significant problem facing mankind today. In the coming years, we will strive to continue to furnish much more original content.

We greatly appreciate your understanding and your support. We look forward to providing our readers better and improved content in the near future.

Wrong Kind of Green

“The first duty of a revolutionary is to be educated.” –Che Guevara

 

The Role of Salvation Army in Shameful Forced Post-Second World War Adoptions

December 23, 2018



The Salvation Army remains active in the adoption industry today. Photo: Salvation Army

 

July 19, 2018: “‘Shameful period in Canada’s history’: Report released on forced post-Second World War adoptions”

Excerpt:

“On Thursday, the committee released a report titled “The Shame Is Ours” detailing Canada’s post-Second World War adoption mandate. It is estimated that more than 350,000 mothers were affected by agency policies and the “common practice” of forcing unwed mothers into maternity homes and coercing them to give up their babies.

 

In a press conference Thursday, committee chair Art Eggleton called it “another Scoop,” referring to the Sixties Scoop in which Indigenous children were separated from their parents. Eggleton said that nearly 600,000 infants were born to unwed mothers and recorded as “illegitimate births” between 1945 and 1971, though the committee does not know the exact number of forced adoptions due to “prevailing secrecy.” Some of the institutions that carried out the policies no longer exist. But the committee heard evidence during hearings that as many as 95 per cent of unwed mothers in maternity homes surrendered their babies to adoption, compared to two per cent today.

“It has led to lasting and life-altering psychological distress for both the mothers and adoptees,” said Eggleton.

 

July, 2018, Canada: “THE SHAME IS OURS: FORCED ADOPTIONS OF THE BABIES OF UNMARRIED MOTHERS IN POST-WAR CANADA”:

“The committee heard from witnesses who have an in-depth knowledge of historical Canadian adoption practices and they affirmed the accounts that members heard from mothers and adoptees. Young, unmarried mothers who found themselves without financial means or the support of family found their way to church-run maternity homes for unwed mothers, after seeking help from family, friends or their churches. Catholic, United, Anglican and Presbyterian churches as well as the Salvation Army, operated such homes. Members were told that in some instances a fee was requested from the young woman or her family to be cared for at the home. In all cases, it appears that the facilities implemented strict schedules for the residents. The women were required to perform assigned chores, attend “classes” that prepared them for domestic tasks, rather than help to further their education, and participate in religious services. However, the strict schedules were not intended as a structured and regimented environment. Rather, the young women were described as being treated more like prisoners. Some homes had bars on the windows and the movement of residents was strictly controlled. They were often not allowed to use their surnames, only first names, and were not permitted to speak to each other about their own circumstances. Committee members were told that these young women were often subjected to shaming and abuse by the nurses, sisters, social workers, matrons and church leaders. They were told they had no value, they were societal outcasts, they had sinned and deserved the treatment they were getting, and that, in fact, they must be psychologically unwell and unfit since they got pregnant in the first place.

Members acknowledge that some work has been done in this regard. The maternity homes for unmarried mothers were run in Canada by several churches, including Catholic, United, Anglican, Presbyterian and the Salvation Army. Members heard that only the United Church of Canada has studied its role in the forced adoptions of post-war Canada. Among the witnesses who appeared during the committee’s study, the United Church was the only religious organization willing to attend….

The committee was told that while other churches have listened to the concerns of individuals and organizations about the forced adoption practices, they have not reacted with apologies or concrete actions. In this respect the committee acknowledges the written submission from the Salvation Army which describes the services offered by the organization and the adoption policies in Ontario from 1940 to 1980. In describing its role and response to the forced adoptions in post-war Canada, the organization stated that it “regrets the prejudices and harsh attitudes” of the time and that it “never supported the deliberate breaking of… the bond between a mother and a child”.”

Report:

THE SHAME IS OURS FORCED ADOPTIONS OF THE BABIES OF UNMARRIED MOTHERS IN POST-WAR CANADA

Britain: June 10, 2018: Sixty years after half a million British babies were forcibly removed, calls for decades of pain to be recognised

“More than half a million children were given up for adoption at a time when “unmarried mothers” were often rejected by their families and ostracised by society. Adoptions were generally handled through agencies run by the Church of England, the Roman Catholic church and the Salvation Army.”

Article:

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jun/10/mps-demand-apology-for-unmarried-mothers-forced-to-give-up-children

Sydney, March 1, 2012: Stories from the mothers who had their babies taken away. Here is a selection of women explaining just what it was like for a young Australian girl or woman in the 1950s-mid 1970s facing pregnancy as an unwed mother.”

“About 150,000 babies were put up for adoption in Australia during 1951-1975, the large majority from single, unwed girls and women. The practice of “forced adoptions”  involving coercion and institutional policies that encouraged babies to be taken away from their mothers, has been the focus for a Senate committee for the past 18 months. Yesterday the Community Affairs committee tabled it’s final report, Commonwealth Contribution to Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices, to the Senate yesterday.”

 

https://www.crikey.com.au/2012/03/01/forced-adoption-stories-from-the-mothers-who-had-their-babies-taken-away/

Uproar Over Sexy Picture On Magazine From Amnesty International’s Dutch Arm

NPR

December 21, 2018

 

Amnesty International Netherlands published a magazine about refugees (left) and ran a cover photo of a woman wearing a few strategically placed life jackets. A Dutch actress, she fled Syria as a child. After criticism for sexualizing women in the image, the group apologized — and replaced the photo on the online version with a photo of the same woman encircled with barbed wire. Glamoria/Amnesty International Netherlands

 

How do you get people to pay attention to the plight of refugees?

The Amnesty International arm in the Netherlands had an idea. With the help of a Dutch media agency called Tosti Creative, they self-published several hundred copies of a 36-page magazine called Glamoria. It looks like a glossy fashion magazine, with a name that seems to be a spin on the word “glamour.” But Glamoria also references the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. The organization’s goal was to focus on the plight of refugees now living in camps on Greek islands.

On the cover, Dutch actress Jouman Fattal, who fled Syria as a child, is wearing a couple of strategically placed orange life jackets (which refugees use when traveling by boat). She’s wearing makeup and her hair floats above her head. Her midriff is exposed.

The magazine, published on December 12, contains articles about the plight of refugees. About 200 copies of the 36-page magazine were distributed to “relevant organizations, influencers and politicians,” according to Amnesty International Netherlands. In addition there was an online version.

The aid organization got plenty of attention – but not in the way they’d hoped.

Zaid Muhammadwho in his Facebook profile identifies himself as a refugee and is now living in the Netherlands, wrote on Facebook, “I’m not exactly sure why the lady in this photo looks … relaxed? … I also don’t know if you realize that most of the life jackets refugees [use] are just useless … I believed that they will never do the job in case our little lovely small crowded plastic boat drowned.”

Shaista Aziz, the co-founder of the nonprofit group Safe Space, which addresses issues of sexual harassment, abuse and violence, wrote an op-ed on the U.K. blog Media Diversified: “The woman’s only function in this photograph is to look like a passive sexualized object – she exists only to please all those who gaze at her.”

On December 17, Amnesty International Netherlands wrote in a tweet: “We apologise for any offence this may have caused. We never intended to offend anyone and regret that the choice for the cover has been a distraction from our ongoing work to end the dire situation for many trapped on the Greek islands.”

The print editions of the magazine were withdrawn from circulation.

In an email statement to NPR, Amnesty International Netherlands explained that the magazine “attempted to draw attention to the sharp contrast between the luxurious lifestyle portrayed in magazines and the terrible situation of people in the camps.”

On December 19, the main office of Amnesty International also issued an apology: “The magazine, produced by Amnesty International Netherlands, was in extremely poor taste and entirely at odds with our values and objectives as a global human rights movement. It is clear that the magazine trivialized the suffering and trauma refugees have experienced fleeing their homes, particularly women. We realise the images also compounded sexualized gender stereotypes that harm and objectify women, specifically women of colour. We are conscious that the use of life jackets as a prop was particularly hurtful to people who have depended on these for their survival. We are profoundly sorry for this.”

The publication was part of a campaign that pointed people toward a petition, “Don’t Look Away,” calling for the Dutch government to bring 1,000 refugees from the Greek islands to the Netherlands. Over 44,000 people have signed the petition so far.

Assessing the ad and the reaction it sparked, Ludek Stavinoha says, “It was effective at getting attention but perhaps the wrong kind of attention.” Stavinoha is a lecturer in media and international development at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England.

It is difficult to get the world to focus on refugee issues, says Stavinoha: “They chose this image precisely because they knew a traditional photo of a refugee camp would not get people’s attention.” The use of celebrities and ironic photos to raise interest in a humanitarian issue is a response to the perceived failures of using graphic, realistic photographs that some critics say exploit suffering people.

“On the one hand, Amnesty has sought to break through perceived compassion fatigue by using this provocative image,” he says. “Yet the outcome has been the very opposite.” Stavinoha says the “shock factor” has brought the focus to the image itself rather than the underlying issue.

In addition to withdrawing the magazine and apologizing for the Glamoria cover, Amnesty International Netherlands has replaced the image on the digital publication with another shot of Fattal. In the new cover photo, Fattal has barbed wire wrapped around her face.

 

[Freelance writer Rachel D. Cohen is a former intern for NPR’s Science Desk.]