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The Breakthrough: How an ICIJ Reporter Dug Up the World Bank’s Best Kept Secret

ProPublica

July 14, 2017

by Jessica Huseman

“Cambodian land rights activist Nget Khun, known locally as ‘Mommy’, hugs her daughter through a window of a prison car at the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh in January this year.” Photo: TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP/Getty Images

ICIJ reporter Sasha Chavkin had been investigating the World Bank for months when he visited a sweltering military post in Honduras and sat with the colonel. Sasha had heard the Honduran military was violently evicting local peasants to make way for a palm oil plantation — a project funded by the World Bank to boost the local economy. The reporter wanted the colonel to answer for these allegations.

But the man knew far more than Sasha expected. He knew who Sasha had been speaking to, and where he planned to travel next. He’d even sent his troops ahead of Sasha, to await his arrival. “If you go there,” the colonel said, “I can’t guarantee your safety.”

Sasha was scared, but he went anyway.

He was chasing a big story — that the World Bank was complicit in violently displacing people from their lands in order to make way for development projects all over the world. When Sasha got to the village in Honduras, called Panama, he heard about the brutal treatment of the peasants firsthand. Their land had been stolen from them, and a local priest had been murdered. His body — which showed signs of torture — was found under palm leaves on the land now taken over by the plantation.

This treatment wasn’t isolated to Honduras. Sasha found similar stories across the globe. In Ethiopia, he heard from villagers chased from their land by the Ethiopian military. Women reported being raped; others said they were beaten.

It was all part of what Sasha had been told was the World Bank’s biggest secret: Around 2009, the bank had stopped requiring governments to fill out detailed forms with a census of how many people were being displaced and what was being done to help them. Instead, it allowed governments to say that some people might be displaced, and that details on relocation would be worked out later. Often, the World Bank offered no clear plan to help displaced communities at all.

Using extensive data analysis and on-location reporting, Sasha and his team published a series that spans three continents and details how 3.4 million people were physically or economically displaced by World Bank projects. Five days after Sasha and his team sent questions to the World Bank, World Bank President Kim Jong Kim held a press conference. He said the organization had taken a “hard look” at the resettlement policies and that it would be reforming supervision procedures.

The series is called “Evicted and Abandoned,” and today, Sasha talks with us about what he found and how he found it.

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Watch: Excerpt from the film War by Other Means by John Pilger (1992). IMF and World Bank are weapons of war:


[Jessica Huseman is a senior reporting fellow at ProPublica. She was previously an education reporter at The Teacher Project and Slate. A freelance piece she co-authored for ProPublica on nursing regulations sparked a bill in the New York legislature that would provide additional oversight for nurses who have committed crimes or harmed patients. Full bio]

“100 Billion for Everyone Who Signs” [McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part XVII of an Investigative Report]

June 27, 2017

By Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

Part seventeen of an investigative series

 

The B Team

The B Team was incubated by Virgin Unite, the foundation arm of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, which had previously incubated such organizations the Elders and the Carbon War Room. In October, 2012, Branson and Jochen Zeitz (ex-CEO of Puma) announced the formation of The B Team. It has since grown to include 23 “leaders” [1] including Kathy Calvin, President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation, Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, Andrew Liveris, chairman and CEO of Dow Chemical, Mary Robinson, Secretary of The Elders and President of the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice, Ratan Tata, Chairman Emeritus of the Tata Group, Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 2010-2016, and several others of elite status. [Source] [Full List]

Mary Robinson (a staunch believer in carbon markets) and Mo Ibrahim[3] were two of those involved in the inception of The B Team. Ibrahim is the British Sudanese entrepreneur who excels in the undermining of Africa and her leadership, “for no other reason than to force African leaders to submit to Western economic and political ideology”. [“Today, Mo Ibrahim tells us that in 2012 and 2013, there was no African leader that qualified for the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. Mo Ibrahim, who has made billions of the back, blood and sweat of Africans, joins the predatory fray, in taking cheap pot shots at Africa’s leadership, in a transparent ploy to present himself as more caring for Africa and its people than those who sacrificed their lives and limbs for the liberation of Africa.” [Source] [The B Team Story: video] Mary Robinson is also a Member of the Advisory Board at Generation Investment.

Former US President Bill Clinton, Christine Lagarde IMF Managing Director, and Mo Ibrahim Founder and Chairman, Mo Ibrahim Foundation attend the Clinton Global Initiative on September 24, 2013 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Mehdi Taamallah

U.S. President Barack Obama presents the Medal of Freedom to former Irish President Mary Robinson during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, August 12, 2009. REUTERS/Jason Reed

The elite associations in The B Team continue to proliferate. In 2015, Marc Benioff, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com and Breakthrough Energy Coalition founding member, Sharan Burrow, General Sectretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, Bob Collymore, CEO of Safaricom and David Crane, ex-CEO of NRG Energy joined as B Team Leaders. In July of 2016, Oliver Bäte, CEO of Allianz Group, Andrew Liveris, Chairman and CEO of Dow Chemical Company and Arif Naqvi, Founder and Group CEO of Abraaj Group (private equity) also joined the B Team. In 2017, Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC 2010-2016 joined The B Team.

The “B Team Experts” include the aforementioned John Elkington, Heather Grady, Senior Fellow, Global Philanthropy for Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors; Alexander Grashow, Clinton Global Initiative, Jeremy Heimans, co-founder of both Avaaz and Purpose, Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres (350 divestment partner), Hunter Lovins, President, Natural Capitalism Solutions, David Jones, co-founder of One Young World, former CEO of Havas Worldwide and creator of the TckTckTck campaign for Global Campaign for Climate Action (co-founded by Avaaz, 350.org, Greenpeace along with 17 other NGOs).

This group and its alliances represent many of the key NGOs tasked with creating/achieving a buy-in from the populace (targeted as consumers) for new markets that will continue to drive growth under the false pretense of a “new economy”. The NGOs are strategically positioned within this hierarchy. For example, Avaaz and 350 are the trusted front groups while their alliances and key leaders/staff are closely affiliated with the corporate world and it’s map for the future. In reality they are all part and parcel of the same circle. A circle of power and elitism that both protects and expands current power structures while continually reabsorbing any/all movements of resistance. They keep their alliances at arm’s length in order to retain the illusion of being representative of civil society. NGOs such as 350.org and Avaaz while being the most powerful NGOs in the world, are actually on the lower rung of the hierarchy. They function in discreet servitude to NGOs such as Ceres and The Clinton Global Initiative that exist at the top of the hierarchy.

Desmond Tutu for We Mean Business partnered with The B Team (redirected to Purpose)

The B Team funders include: The Tiffany & Co. Foundation, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Kering (luxury goods), Unilever, Virgin Unite. Guilherme Leal (co-founder of Natura), Strive Masiyiwa (founder and chairman of Econet) and Joann McPike (Founder of Think Global School). Past supporters include Derek Handley (founding CEO of The B Team) and One Young World. The B Team is part of the Omidyar Network which contributed USD $980,946.00 to The B Team in 2016.

Image courtesy of The B Team

The B Team twitter account is a mix of elite/ appointed “leaders”, green tech, foundation financed super powers, finance, social media experts, finance, etc. Initial “follows” include: The Rockefeller Foundation, The Economist, Jeremy Heimans (Avaaz, Purpose, The B Team), Carbon War Room, John Elkington, B Corporation, Bill Gates, General Electric Ecomagination, World Resources Institute, Gates Foundation, Purpose, Facebook, Ceres, Steve Forbes, Oprah Winfrey, Bloomberg, Trucost, Bill McKibben, Melinda Gates, Pierre Omidyar , Green Biz, David Jones (former Havas CEO, One Young World co-founder), Jeremy Leggett (Carbon Tracker) and the Omidyar Network to name just a few.

Above: Jeremy Heimans Avaaz/Purpose co-founder, The B Team

Behavioural change is a key component of the “new economy”. Recall that the term “green economy” was deemed dead in 2014 by Avaaz and Purpose Inc. co-founder Jeremy Heimans. Heiman’s for-profit public relations firm, Purpose, Inc. consults for institutions such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the ACLU (founder of MoveOn and Avaaz) Google, Unilever, General Electric and Conservation International. A shill for trafficking “prosumers” and “millennials” to the highest bidder, these organizations also have their hands dipped in many seemingly “humanitarian” endeavors.

Heimans (with his Avaaz co-founders) bears much responsibility in building acquiescence for the deaths of hundreds of thousands Syrian and Libyan citizens.  Purpose (in tandem with Avaaz) has been instrumental in its building acquiescence for war on Syria via it’s many demonization campaigns that serve empire, including the White Helmets [see extensive research by independent researcher Vanessa Beeley]. To demonstrate the interlocking mechanisms between the NPIC and the humanitarian  industrial complex, consider the close affiliation of Richard Branson (The B Team co-founder) with the International Crisis Group. Then consider Heiman’s role as a Branson B Team “expert”. Thus, it should be of no surprise to identify that The B Teams headquarters utilized on all B Team correspondence, is actually the headquarters of Purpose.

We Mean Business

“We Mean Business”  launched in September 2014 in advance of the People’s Climate March

On September 15, 2014, one week prior to the People’s Climate March in New York, Inside Climate News published the article Only $1 Trillion: Annual Investment Goal Puts Climate Solutions Within Reach. From the article:

“Leading up to the UN Climate Summit next week in New York, business groups and investors who manage trillions of dollars published reports and held meetings to call for action. Last week, investment groups publicized the creation of We Mean Business, an umbrella organization of investors urging world leaders to agree on a plan for fighting climate change.”

“$100 Billion for Everyone Who Signs”

Apple CEO Tim Cook at launch of We Mean Business at Climate Week NYC 2014

“Representatives from roughly 130 governments are converging on New York city today to sign the Paris Agreement that was reached in December, and the We Mean Business Coalition says that implementing that agreement will unleash more than $13 trillion in new investment – or $100 billion for everyone who signs. That’s just one reason this year’s Earth Day is completely different from all those that came before.” — April 22, 2016, 13 Trillion Reasons This Earth Day Is Different From All Others – Ecosystem Marketplace

From the Climate Group (incubated by Rockefeller as in-house project that later evolved into a free-standing institution) website:

“The Climate Group is a proud partner of We Mean Business – a coalition of organizations working with thousands of the world’s most influential businesses and investors.”

The founding partners of We Mean Business are Business for Social Responsibility (full membership and associate members list), CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), Ceres, The B Team, The Climate Group, The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG) and World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).

We Mean Business Network partners are Asset Owner Disclosure Project (AODP), CEBDS (Brazilian Business Council on Sustainable Development), Climate Leadership Council (CLC), WWF Climate Savers, EPC, Japan-CLP, National Business Initiative, Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI).

We Mean Business working partnerships were formed with the organizations Carbon Tracker, Carbon War Room, Climate & Clean Air Coalition, Climate Markets & Investments Association, E3G, Forum for the Future, Global Alliance for Energy Productivity, International Emissions Trading Association, Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC/Ceres), Rocky Mountain Institute (now partnered with the Carbon War Room), The Business Council for Sustainable Energy, The New Climate Economy, The Shift Project, United Nations Global Compact, World Bank Group and World Resources Institute.

Ceres, a founding member of We Mean Business is a key partner of the 350.org divestment campaign which was created in consultation with the organizations “friends on Wall Street“. Ceres, 350.org, The B Team, Avaaz, The Climate Group, We Mean Business and CDP partnered under the “Earth to Paris” coalition for COP21. (“Earth To Paris”, a coalition of partners helping to drive awareness about the connection between people and planet as well as the need for strong climate action, announced it will host “Earth To Paris—Le Hub” a two-day, high-impact, live-streamed summit on 7 and 8 December in Paris during COP21 — the United Nations climate conference to deliver a new universal climate change agreement.”) [Source]

The following montage of video clips is evidence of the underlying solution proposed by the leaders of the NPIC:

The ideologies espoused by “We Mean Business” are transparent in the following 1:40 minute interview with Avaaz & Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimans by We Mean Business.

“We’ve been talking in a broader way about the future of consumer activism, of organizing people not as citizens but as consumers.” — Jeremy Heimans, Purpose, 2011

The fact that the 2014 Peoples Climate March was designed and orchestrated as a mass mobilization social engineering experiment financed by the oligarchs to “change everything” (expand capital markets and insulate/strengthen existing power structures) is captured in the next 01:40 minute video titled We Mean Business Momentum:

“And hundreds of thousands of people marched in New York City and all across the world. The momentum became contagious.” – We Mean Business

Additionally, the dystopian focus on perpetual growth via consumption as the solution to climate change is clear in the following We Mean Business video (3:40). Also note the reference to “Natural Capital” which is code for the global privatization of nature via payments for ecosystems services (PES) which is currently being implemented into policies behind closed doors:

“It won’t be about sacrifice. It will be about a new era of clean abundance.” — Steve Howard, Ikea

 

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

The 2016 article From Stable to Star – The Making of North American Climate Heroes  concluded that “The nurtured youth of today’s clearing houses for 21st century environmentalism, which is merely a guise for full-blown anthropocentrism, are the well-intentioned albeit naïve foot soldiers for today’s most powerful oligarchs.” This is again demonstrated by We Mean Business with the participation and promotion of Ikea by groomed 350.org board member and protégé Jessie Tolkan. (Again, as demonstrated throughout this series, 350.org is always kept at arm’s length from those NGOs in the background doing the heavy lifting for the expansion of capitalism while they are in full view cautiously keeping the patina of grassroots mobilization intact):

“Jessy Tolkan, Executive Director of Here Now, said: “With IKEA Foundation’s crucial support, we’re delighted to be launching a rich programme of campaigns that will mobilise millions to help build the world our children deserve to grow up in.” — Ikea Foundation, Climate Change: How We’re Part of the Solution, April 22, 2016

Ikea cites Here Now, as a We Mean Business counterpart:

“We Mean Business is working with thousands of the world’s leading businesses and investors to move towards a low carbon economy. Its counterpart, Here Now, creates campaigns to inspire citizens around the world to support climate change solutions.” — Ikea Foundation, Climate Change: How We’re Part of the Solution, April 22, 2016

In April 22, 2016, as heads of states met in New York to sign the Paris Agreement, the IKEA Foundation announced its new partnership with We Mean Business and Here Now, gifting EUR 9.6 million going to We Mean Business and EUR 3 million to Here Now (Purpose).

Tolkan is the Head of Labs & Executive Director of Here Now, a project of Purpose. [Further reading on Purpose: Under One Bad Sky and SYRIA: AVAAZ, PURPOSE & THE ART OF SELLING HATE FOR EMPIRE] Her foray into the NPIC has been extensive. [4]

In part thirteen of the divestment series [The Increasing Vogue for Capitalist-Friendly Climate Discourse], the report  touched upon the imperative of grooming cherry picked “celebrity leaders” to further serve capital. Akin to her 350.org counterparts Naomi Klein and May Boeve, Tolkan is no exception having been featured in Time, Glamour, and Vanity Fair Magazine. In 2006, Tolkan was named one of the “REAL HOT 100 Women in America”, for her work/influence with young voters. In 2008, Rolling Stone Magazine named her one of the 100 agents of change in America.

Demonstrating her steadfast loyalty to the Democratic Party (and by default the capitalist economic system) Tolkan spearheaded POWER VOTE in 2008, “a campaign to mobilize 1,000,000 young voters around climate and energy issues in more than 30 states across the country.” [Source]

“In addition to working on Capitol Hill, she has been to the White House four times since President Barack Obama took office, most recently for a meeting on energy and climate change last month. Her advocacy also has brought her in close contact with prominent figures such as Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore and NASA scientist James Hansen.” — Journal Sentinel, May 16, 2009

 

“[Tolkan] fuels her 12- to 14-hour work days with Diet Coke. She shuttles from the coalition’s row house-turned-office in the trendy Dupont Circle neighborhood to meetings across the city with other environmentalists, congressional aides and potential donors. During especially busy spells, she has lived out of the office, which she has decorated with personal touches, including an autographed photo of Obama that her staffers got for her as a get-well present when she was going through serious health problems.” — Journal Sentinel, May 16, 2009

The enablers. We Mean Business Twitter status, October 5, 2015

Throughout this series, the interlocking directorate that comprises the NPIC has been shown to be nothing less than formidable.  But perhaps nowhere is this evidenced as in the case of the rather new organization, We Mean Business. From Ceres, to Purpose (Avaaz), to Ikea (a client of Purpose) to Here Now (a project of Purpose), to Carbon Tracker, to The B Team (redirected to Purpose), to the United Nations (divestment partner) to those who have rose up in these very institutions (Jeremy Heimans, Mindy Lubber, Jessie Tolkan, etc. etc.) – the matrix becomes more and more blurred.

 

Next up: Part 18

 

End Notes:

[1]It has since grown to include 23 elites including Kathy Calvin (President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation), Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland (Deputy Chair of The Elders), Arianna Huffington, Chair, President, and Editor in Chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, Mo Ibrahim, Founder of Celtel, Guilherme Leal, Founder and Co-Chairman of Natura, Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Chairman of Econet Wireless, Blake Mycoskie, Founder and Chief Shoe Giver of Toms Shoes, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance of Nigeria, François-Henri Pinault, CEO and Chairman of Kering, Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, Mary Robinson, Secretary of The Elders and President of the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice, Ratan Tata, Chairman Emeritus of the Tata Group, Zhang Yue, Chairman and Founder of Broad Group China, Professor Muhammad Yunus, Chairman of Yunus Centre, Jochen Zeitz, Founder of The Zeitz Foundation, Co-Founder and Co-Chair of The B Team. [Source]

[2] MERCHANTS OF DOUBT is presented by Sony Pictures Classics, in association with Participant Media (a global entertainment company founded in 2004 by Jeff Skoll) [777] and Omidyar Network, a film by Kenner, produced by Kenner and Melissa Robledo, executive produced by Jeff Skoll and Diane Weyermann of Participant Media, and Pierre Omidyar of Omidyar Network, and co-produced by Brian Pearle, Taki Oldham, Dylan Nelson and Youtchi von Lintel.”

[3] “Mo Ibrahim was soon to be a board member of the ONE Campaign and is currently chair of the advisory board for an investment firm focused on Africa called Satya Capital; its small portfolio includes Namakwa Diamonds, a mining group whose board members notably include a former executive vice president of the notorious Barrick Gold. In 2004, Ibrahim founded the Mo Ibrahim Foundation “to recognize achievement in African leadership and stimulate debate on good governance across sub-Saharan Africa and the world.” In this context, “good governance” means implementation of neoliberal reforms.” [Source]

[4]

  • Executive director for the Energy Action Coalition, “a coalition of 50 leading youth organizations throughout the U.S. and Canada (which she joined in 2006)
  • The United States Student Association,
  • Young Democrats of America
  • Grassroots Campaigns, Inc. [Further reading: From Stable to Star – The Making of North American “Climate Heroes”]
  • Political Director for Green For All (founded by Van Jones who also serves on the U.S. org advisory council)
  • 1Sky steering committee
  • Global Director of Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Development for two multi-national automakers for two muliti-national automakers (Renault and Nissan).
  • Citizen Engagement Laboratory’s Co-Executive Director
  • Senior Fellowship with the New Organizing Institute consulting on progressive infrastructure building, the 2012 youth vote, and next steps for the climate & energy sector.
  • The Working Families Party (consultant)
  • Progressive Change Campaign Committee (consultant)
  • GetEqual (consultant)
  • HeadCount Board of Directors
  • 1Sky steering committee, consultant
  • org Board of Directors, consultant
  • Groundswell (consultant)
  • Wellstone Action (consultant)
  • The Culture Group
  • Global Witness Board of Directors
  • Citizen Engagement Laboratory’s Co-Executive Director
  • Instrumental in planning/executing POWER SHIFT 2007, “a conference that brought together more than 6000 youth representing all 50 states, and culminated with the largest single lobby day on capitol hill focused on global warming.”
  • Instrumental in planning/executing – POWER SHIFT 2009, “a conference of more than 12,000 youth representing all 50 states which culminated in the single largest lobby day on Capitol Hill focused on global warming.” (POWER SHIFT has since spread to more than 25 countries, and the first Global Power Shift (now under the direction of 350.org) has since convened in Europe – led by 350.org)
  • State director for the New Voters Project (2004). Tolkan helped to register more than 130,000 young voters and produced one of the highest youth turnout rates in the country.
  • [Sources: org Russia and 350.org US, Purpose, Social Venture Network, World Bank, Journal Sentinel ]

 

 

Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, and Counterpunch. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

[Forrest Palmer is an electrical engineer residing in Texas.  He is a part-time blogger and writer and can be found on Facebook. You may reach him at forrest_palmer@yahoo.com.]

Beautiful Delusions [McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part XVI of an Investigative Report]

June 27, 2017

By Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

Part sixteen of an investigative series

 

Breakthrough Capitalism and Volans

Breakthrough Capitalism – where business is referred to as an ecosystem:

“The first thing to say is that this website is one of several that are part of our close business ecosystem. These include: Volans, Breakthrough Capitalism, The Zeronauts, SustainAbility” — John Elkington Website

“A revolution of capitalism”:

“We need a revolution of capitalism,” said Peter Bakker, former CFOI and CEO at TNT and now President Of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.” – Volans Press Release, Breakthrough: How Business Leaders Can Create Market Revolutions, March 7, 2013

In the 2012 David Blood lecture (video),”Breakthrough Capitalism Forum – David Blood”, one notices the sponsorship in the background. At the top of the screen we can identify speakers/sponsors Jeremy Leggitt of Solar Century & Carbon Tracker, and Jennifer Morgan of WWF, to name two. [See full list of partners.]

Breakthrough Capitalism  is a key project of Volans, a driver of market-based solutions. On the growing list of Volans partnerships, one finds Shell Foundation, Dow, Generation, GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) (Ceres, UN), Tellus Mater, The B Team (A Richard Branson NGO now being operated/managed by public relations firm Purpose, sister org. of Avaaz) and many others. On the Volans Board of advisors we find none other than Robert Massie, former President and CEO of New Economics Institute. [“Our early relationships with partners and clients have critically informed our evolution; the Skoll Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, Allianz and HP, Atkins, Bayer, F&C, Nestlé, PPR and Recyclebank.”] [Source] [Note: Jeff Skoll co-founded EBay with Pierre Omidyar.]

“As public money gets pulled out of health care and education and all of this, NGOs funded by these major financial corporations and other kinds of financial instruments move in, doing the work that missionaries used to do during colonialism—giving the impression of being charitable organizations, but actually preparing the world for the free markets of corporate capital.” — Arundhati Roy, REVEALED: The head of Omidyar Network in India had a secret second job… Helping elect Narendra Modi, May 26, 2014

Showmanship over Science and Facts

Of interest regarding the influence these men have on the environmental movement is that both Skoll (Participant Media) and his EBay co-founder/partner, Omidyar financed the film, “Merchants of Doubt” (acquired by Sony Pictures) [2]

To illustrate how these institutional relationships develop and explain the mainstream media representations we need to look no further than Omidyar. Omidyar’s ties to the previous Obama administration run deep [Source] as does his vast network within the humanitarian industry complex. Humanity United is one such example. Consider that the Omidyar Network has made more investments in India than in any other country since 2009, according to its portfolio. [Source] More recently, Omidyar was a key player in the 2014 coup d’état carried out against Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych having co-funded Ukraine “revolution” groups with USAID and National Endowment for Democracy. [Source] [Source]

The Skoll-Omdiyar film, Merchants of Doubt, which is a condensed cinematic representation of the book it is based upon (published in 2010), focuses on the web of highly financed climate change deniers. The press release states: “Filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the curtain on a secretive group of highly charismatic, silver-tongued pundits-for-hire who present themselves in the media as scientific authorities – yet have the contrary aim of spreading maximum confusion about well-studied public threats ranging from toxic chemicals to pharmaceuticals to climate change.” Note that this same description also aptly describes those at the helm of the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC). It is of interest that at this late juncture in anthropogenic climate disruption, billionaire “philanthropists” decided to highlight the players who reap the profits by burning carbon, rather than the players who stand to make trillions under the guise of an illusory “new economy.” The same new economy both Skoll and Omdiyar stand to reap further profits and market share from. A main prerequisite of the liberal left is that an “other” must always exist. For the divestment campaign the “other” is the fossil fuel industry – the said enemy. For Western imperial states, the “other” is the “terrorist”. For this particular film, the “others” (plural) are the deniers who can shoulder all the blame. For the NPIC as a whole, it matters little, who the “other” at this moment may be, just as long as it means not looking at our own reflections in the mirror.

“Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives.”– Omidyar Network, “A World of Positive Returns”, website

In the Variety September 4, 2014 film review, the author observes that “Kenner is particularly fascinated by the phenomenon of self-described “grassroots” organizations that are actually shilling for specific corporate and political interests (the Koch Brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity, the Exxon Mobile-financed Heartland Institute, etc.).” This blatantly obvious (and accurate) observation, “the phenomenon of self-described ‘grassroots’ organizations that are actually shilling for specific corporate and political interests…” is one that could easily apply to the movements manufactured by and belonging to the NPIC. The shilling in this instance for The Rockefeller Foundation, The Clinton Global Initiative, etc. In the same review, the author writes that by “[P]roviding an accessible, somewhat facile framing device, professional magician Jamy Ian Swiss describes how all sleight-of-hand (including the card trick he performs and demystifies onscreen) is predicated on the audience’s willingness to be deceived.” This same predication fits America’s self-described environmental activists like a velvet glove.

The authors of Merchants of Doubt  found that “one way to effectively remove public fear around a particular issue is to create fear elsewhere — something the tobacco industry managed by aligning itself with the flame-retardant industry, as if unprotected furniture, not cigarettes, were to blame for house fires.” This same tactic is utilized in the building of acquiescence for the “new economy”. It is not the industrialized capitalist economic system causing our environmental crisis, ecological collapse and the Sixth Great Extinction. Rather, it is the lack of technology via “clean energy” infrastructures global in scope (which in reality would/will only further industrialization, thus accelerating both greenhouse gas emissions and planetary environmental degradation).

In a final observation, the reviewer concludes that “There’s perhaps a necessary element of hypocrisy in this approach, given the film’s point that too many Americans, by and large, prefer showmanship over science.”

Above: “Showmanship over science.”

Today’s ever-devolving Western society continues to demonstrate its preference for showmanship over science, celebrity over substance, technology over nature, liberal ideology over radical ideology, human life over all other life, white skin over non-white.

Volans

 

“It’s all very well for me to say the future is environmental excellence, green consumerism, the triple bottom line or breakthrough capitalism, but the many movements and communities of which we are part deserve a deeper explanation of the thinking and experiences that brought us to these conclusions.” — John Elkington, Co-Founder of Environmental Data Services, SustainAbility and Volans

 

“We see signs of breakthrough in … Generation Investment Management CEO David Blood’s spotlighting a five key steps to sustainable capitalism, and in the alliance between Richard Branson of Virgin and former PUMA CEO Jochen Zeitz—who are building The BTeam.” — Volans Press Release, Breakthrough: How Business Leaders Can Create Market Revolutions, March 7, 2013

Partners publicly disclosed upon announcement of “The Breakthrough Capitalism” Program are listed as follows: Generation, Tellus Mater Foundation, Autodesk, HewlettPackard, The Value Web and Innovationarts.

The first “follows” chosen upon the set-up of twitter accounts are always revealing and Breakthrough’s twitter account is no exception. The first four follows are founders, co-founders, directors and the social media outreach of Volans. The fifth person chosen to follow is a partner at Generation Investment. Number six is John B Elkington? (founder and Executive Chairman of Volans and author/creator of zeronauts; a project of Volans). Seventh is Jeroen van Lawick, international consultancy for “transformative CSR” (“corporate social responsibility”) and organization development, as well as founder of Zijn Werkt!. Eighth is David Willans, marketing director at Futerra. Number nine is none other than 350.org’s Naomi Klein who was chosen ahead of number ten: Jeremy Leggett (Solarcentury, SolarAid, and Carbon tracker).

“Breakthrough Capitalism” asks the question as to how to engage the “1,100 or so companies that now control half of the world’s market capitalization.”

Whereas Volans and Generation would have us believe we should give these corporations even more power, the truth is that these very 1,100 corporations more than likely represent the first ones that should be targeted for dismantlement.

“Volans is part think-tank, part consultancy, part broker and part incubator. Based in London and Singapore, Volans works globally with entrepreneurs, businesses, investors and governments to develop and scale innovative solutions to financial, social and environmental challenges. Our Pathways to Scale program aims to identify, map and remove barriers that slow the scaling of innovative solutions to governance, economic, social and environmental challenges.” [Source]

John Elkington is the founding partner and Executive Chairman of Volans, as well as the co-founder of SustainAbility (1987) and Environmental Data Services (ENDS, 1978). He is recognized as a world authority on “corporate responsibility” and “sustainable development.” In 2004, Businessweek described him as “a dean of the corporate responsibility movement for three decades.” In 2008, The Evening Standard named Elkington “a true green business guru,” and “an evangelist for corporate social and environmental responsibility long before it was fashionable.” Of course, only those who serve to benefit from such false narratives bestow these titles and accreditations. For example, “corporate responsibility” is the strategic means to increase corporate domination via marketing.

In addition to the aforementioned credentials, Elkington is identified as a B Team “expert” on The B Team website. [Full bio.]

Elkington’s latest book utilizes/promotes Branson’s The B Team organization. The book titled Tomorrow’s Bottom Line: The B Team Playbook for Market Gamechangers, co-authored with B Team co-founder and former PUMA CEO Jochen Zeitz, was released in 2014.

Elkington has served as a juror for the first Gigaton Awards, developed by Richard Branson’s non-profit Carbon War Room – dubbed the ‘Oscars of sustainability.’ As well, he has completed a Fellowship at the Bellagio Centre awarded to him by The Rockefeller Foundation.

Elkington serves/has served on 70 boards and advisory boards. He co-chairs the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) Breakthrough Innovation Advisory Council, chairs the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Technology Consortium, and is a member of the Advisory Board of the Global Commission on Business & Sustainable Development (GCBSD). He is a member of the Board of the Social Stock Exchange (SSX), and chairs its Admissions Panel. He is also a member of the Boards of organizations such as the Biomimicry Institute and The Ecological Sequestration Trust (TEST), and a member of Advisory Boards for organizations such as 2degrees Network, Aviva, The B Team, Nestlé, Tesco, Guardian Sustainable Business, and Zouk Capital (cleantech fund). [Source]  Elkington has also served as strategic advisor to Bayer Material Science, Gaia Energy, Instituto Ethos, One Earth Innovation, Polecat UK; senior Advisor to the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre; board member of EcoVadis, Recyclebank Sustainability Advisory Council; the Evian Group Brain Trust and the Newsweek Green Rankings Advisory Board.

Elkington’s first involvement in the corporate environmental sector was raising funds at the age of 11 for the newly formed World Wildlife Fund (WWF), where he has for many years served on the Council of Ambassadors. He has written or co-authored 17 books, including The Gene Factory: Inside the Genetic and Biotechnology Business Revolution (1985), Double Dividends? US Biotechnology and Third World Development (1986), The Green Capitalists: Industry’s Search for Environmental Excellence (with Tom Burke , 1987), and The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets That Change the World, co-authored with Volans co-founder Pamela Hartigan (2008).

In 2005 Elkington received the “Social Capitalist of the Year” award from Fast Company, later to be awarded a 3-year, $1 million field-building grant from the Skoll Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, at SustainAbility and Volans.

In September of 2016 Elkington launched “The Breakthrough Innovation Platform” to advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in partnership with UN Global Compact. “The ultimate target of the SDGs is the privatization of Indigenous and public resources worldwide.” [Source]

“Aligned with the UN Global Compact’s priority of translating the new SDGs into business action, the aim of the Breakthrough Innovation Platform is to challenge and stretch prevailing business mindsets into the opportunity spaces offered by the SDGs.” — UN Global Compact and Volans Announce Strategic Partnership on Breakthrough Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals, May 31, 2016

Beautiful Delusions | Zeronaut

Illustration by Stephanie McMillan for Wrong Kind of Green

“Zero offers a powerful key to unlocking tomorrow’s growth markets.” – Zeronaut

Zeronaut was launched in April, 2008. It was founded by John Elkington.

Sophisticated and seductive marketing which appeals to an audience comprised of privilege is of critical importance. The marketing strategist executive, set with the task of selling an illusory “new economy”, employs both market-centric and human-centric terminology, which is alluring when paired with an underlying white saviour pretext – a prerequisite to successfully gloss over and elude the true extent of capitalism’s inherent violence and destructiveness. Market-centric language is strategically enticing as it invokes a “new’ economy” avec with new profit centres, inclusive of carbon emissions credits,  carbon capture storage, and most critically, today, the financialization of nature.

It is important to note that the Zeronaut mission/philosophy/marketing scheme is beguiling: “a new breed of innovator, determined to drive problems such as carbon, waste, toxics, and poverty to zero.” Yet, such beautiful delusions can only be afforded by the privileged. Not those who are oppressed under the capitalist economic system. Not the earth herself whose natural resources are destroyed in the creation of commodities for capital. Not for those now referred to as “human capital”. Not for those murdered by empire in the race for what’s left of our planet’s rapidly declining rare Earth minerals and resources.

Those praising the Zeronaut book include (in the order that they appear) Paul Hawken, David Blood (Goldman Sachs, Generation Investment), Jochen Zeit ( The B Team co-founder/Chairman of PUMA), David Grayson, Chair and Director of the Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility and Peter Bakker, the President of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

The Zeronaut 2012 Roll of Honor list includes Bill and Melinda Gates (GMO seeds), Al Gore and David Blood (Generation Investment, environmental markets), Ban-Ki Moon (environmental markets, carbon markets, methane extraction, REDD+), James Hansen (nuclear), Paul Hawken (“natural” capitalism), Pavan Sukhdev of TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity – commodification of the commons) and many more of those in elite positions of power and influence. [Full list.]

An example of the ideology espoused by Zeronaut, is highlighted in the sample chapter formerly found on its website. The author tells the reader that the Kraft Corporation has achieved “zero waste” at 36 food plants, thus “it’s happening.”

In the Kraft Beaver Dam plant in Wisconsin (that manufactures Philadelphia Cream Cheese) Kraft built an anaerobic digester – the digester processed waste into energy that was fed into the local grid. Yet, this is hardly a solution for Kraft’s toxic waste. Rather, it is a mechanism that serves to perpetuate the production of excess waste, because the excess waste has become profitable.

Kraft plants in Cikarang and Karawang, Indonesia, where plastic packaging film creates most of the waste, found a recycler that turns the material into bags and buckets. Yet another market was found. Yet, what about the oil required to produce the film in the first place? The planet continues to be drilled and decimated. The bags and buckets which need infinite growth, to consume the infinite waste, also require infinite consumptive patterns.

Kraft plants in Fresno and San Leandro, California that make a variety of Kraft products including Cornnuts, Capri Sun and Kool-Aid (toxins in, toxins out), have collected more than 100 tons of food waste like corn skins to be used as animal feed since 2009. Yet this food, not fit for human consumption, is therefore certainly not fit for animal consumption either. Further, one can be almost certain that these corn skins are derived from genetically engineered corn, as will be the soy, sugar beet and canola. In addition, we must take into account other hazardous, chemical intensive, biodiversity destroying industrialized crops.

The deluge of half truths and misinformation propagated by the NPIC is the reason why it is necessary to analyse and define what the term “zero waste” truly means. In that regard, what is not mentioned is the mandatory mass-consumption of the product leaving the manufacturing plants and warehouses. Of no mention or consideration is the waste of energy to produce this “food” and transport this “food” that very likely has little to no true nutritional value. In fact, one could quite easily make the argument such processed foods and “edible” oils, key products/ingredients of Kraft, actually poison whole societies, inducing cancers, sickness/disease, and obesity. (In essence, products under the guise of “food” that amount to no more than toxic sludge.)

Of course reducing waste may add to Kraft’s bottom line, but even more so if they can achieve this by finding markets for their waste – which they have. In 2012, at a Kraft coffee plant in Vienna, Austria, the facility sent 250 tons of used coffee bean husks to a local biomass plant that generates heat and electricity. Yet biomass is a false solution with the waste externalized onto our health. “Biomass incineration is one of the most expensive, inefficient and polluting ways to make energy — even dirtier than coal in some ways. Forests are destroyed, the climate is cooked, crop lands are wasted, resources are destroyed and low-income communities and communities of color suffer increased health problems from this unnecessary dirty energy source that poses as renewable energy.” [Source]

Kraft’s direct and/or indirect support of the corporations that push monoculture and/or genetically engineered crops, is complicity to the immense social and environmental impacts destroying both communities and life of every form.

In 2012 a Kraft coffee plant in St. Petersburg cut waste sent to landfills by 90 percent by reusing coffee bean shipping bags and pallets and by sending off 15,000 tons of coffee grounds to be turned into fertilizer for farms in the area. The reusing of the bags and pellets is common sense and good practise. Yet, one must also remember this same 15,000 tons of coffee contained pesticides and chemicals which would have leached into the earth’s soil, underground aquifers, water systems, our air and inevitably, our bodies and the bodies on non-human life. This is not to mention Kraft, like all multinational food corporations, make billions on the backs of farmers. Starbucks five dollar lattes are full to the brim with the blood and sweat of the farmers that barely survive under the industrialized capitalist system. Support of corporate power dominating agriculture ensures the continuance of exploitation while furthering negative social and community impacts.

Therefore, beneath the layers of Kraft’s zero waste “feat” is little more than green washing with highly evolved and a most sophisticated marketing.

http://killercoke.org/

According to the excerpt, Coca-Cola has also achieved “zero waste”. Yet corporate media fails to report Coca-Cola distributing free “fertilizer” in India, later analyzed to be nothing more than toxic waste. Does the BPA (a known carcinogen) that lines the Coca-Cola cans not qualify as waste? How much one-time use, disposable (including recycled) packaging by Kraft and Coca-Cola alone, ends up in landfills and oceans once it leaves the processing plants? Recycling, a billion dollar energy intensive industry which also creates massive volumes of waste, is not a true solution to the real problem: that of producing items that are simply not necessities in any way shape or form. As a further concern to the environmental issue which is the human rights violations committed by this corporation, do the union leaders assassinated under Coca-Cola’s reign of terror in Columbia constitute waste – or is “human capital” nothing more than a tax write-off under the “third industrial revolution”, that being the “new economy”?

The idea that the same corporations that have brought the apocalypse to or doorstep are the same corporations who will now usher in a new green utopia is just that – a utopian fantasy.

Under an industrialized capitalist economic system, zero waste cannot and will not ever be achieved. To varying degrees, every one of these corporate entities, and the junk they produce (which are things we do not need to survive), have to go. Bare essentials in the most radical sense must be our collective goal.

Next up: Part 17

 

Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, and Counterpunch. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

[Forrest Palmer is an electrical engineer residing in Texas.  He is a part-time blogger and writer and can be found on Facebook. You may reach him at forrest_palmer@yahoo.com.]

Industry-Funded Indians

Salish Sea Maritime

March 3, 2017

by Jay Taber

credo 350 ien nov-15-find-a-nodapl-action-near-you-photo-stephanie-6046238

Above. Credo represents just one corporate player of many in the ongoing Standing Rock co-opted “free for all”. “CREDO is proud to have strengthened this movement through our donations program – which funds organizations on the leading edge of the climate movement – and through the Keystone XL Pledge of Resistance, which trained hundreds of activists around the country to organize and lead civil disobedience and direct action. It was in this same spirit that we launched CREDO Climate Heroes...”

350 and IEN, both of whom are funded by Dakota Access Pipeline investor Warren Buffett, issued a joint statement on DAPL February 7. Tides Foundation, a money laundry for tar sands investors and oil industry magnates such as Buffett, is used to corrupt NGOs such as 350 and Indigenous Environmental Network. While they are allowed to oppose pipelines in order to maintain credibility as so-called “water protectors,” they are noted for maintaining silence about their benefactor’s investments in pipelines and bomb trains.

 

[Jay Thomas Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a correspondent to Forum for Global Exchange, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and journalists engaged in defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations.]

 

Further reading:

#askwarren

.

Nature is Priceless, Which is Why Turning it into ‘Natural Capital’ is Wrong

The Conversation

September 21 2016

by Bram Büscher and Robert Fletcher

 

Natural capital a dangerous illusion that masks the way capitalist growth undermines conservation itself. Shutterstock
An increasingly popular line of argument is that, by turning nature into capital, it is possible to reconcile a capitalist growth economy with conservation. In this way, proponents assert, conservation can be expressed in a language that economists, policy-makers and CEOs understand.

But this strategy is not just self-defeating. It is a dangerous illusion that masks the way capitalist growth undermines conservation itself.

The concept of natural capital is hot. Over the past decade a growing network of actors and organisations has banded around promotion of this concept as the key to the future of sustainable development. At the recent World Conservation Congress, natural capital was front and centre, with a launch celebration of the Natural Capital Protocol and announcement of yet another new coalition to develop private finance for conservation.

These, and many other initiatives, describe natural capital in simple terms as the nature, water, or the air that we live with on a daily basis. The Natural Capital Forum, for example, says the concept refers to

the food we eat, the water we drink and the plant materials we use for fuel, building materials and medicines.

This example – and indeed most others are premised on the fundamental assumption that “natural capital” can become the basis for a sustainable economy.

Clearly, things are not this simple, as even many proponents of these initiatives acknowledge. What’s worse is that the two main assumptions in this agenda (nature can become capital and provide services, and this could be the basis for a sustainable economy) are based on fundamental fallacies. They will not reverse the negative effects of our global growth-economy. They will in fact make them worse.

What “capital” really means

The fact that the food we eat and the water we drink apparently need to be labeled “natural capital” only becomes meaningful in the context of capitalist growth. In this context everything should, in principle, become “capital”.

It is therefore vital to be clear on what “capital” really means. In daily conversations and some economic theory, the term is frequently defined as a “stock” or as “assets”. More accurate, however, is to see capital as a process, a dynamic. It is about investing money (or value) in order to make more money (or value). In short, capital is “value in motion”.

Capital in a capitalist economy is therefore never invested for the sake of it. The aim is to extract more money or value than had been invested. Otherwise it would not be capital.

It follows that the move from “nature” to “natural capital” is not an innocent change in terminology, another word for the same thing. Rather, it constitutes a fundamental reconceptualisation and revaluation of nature. Natural capital is about putting nature to work for capitalist growth – euphemistically referred to as green growth.

The move from nature to natural capital is problematic because it assumes that different forms of capital – human, financial, natural – can be made equivalent and exchanged. In practice – and despite proponents’s insistence to the contrary – this means that everything must potentially be expressed through a common, quantitative unit: money. But complex, qualitative, heterogeneous natures, as these same proponents acknowledge, can never adequately be represented in quantitative, homogenous money-units.

And even if we try, there is an untenable tension between the limitlessness of money (we can always generate more money) and the limits of natural capital (we cannot exchange evermore money-capital into natural capital, for all eternity).

Natural capital is therefore inherently anti-ecological and has little to do with giving value to nature, or rendering this value visible. It is the exploitation of nature to inject more value, and seeming legitimacy, into a faltering capitalist growth economy.

Natural capital is inherently anti-ecological and has little to do with giving value to nature. Shutterstock

Failing capital markets

Another assumption is that natural capital can form the basis for a sustainable society. In practice, however, it has become clear that investing in natural capital is not all that attractive for most companies, investment firms or even governments. So, even if a price tag has been put on nature – which can never adequately capture its total value – recent research shows that markets for natural capital and ecosystem services are mostly failing. In practice they are usually not even markets at all. Rather, they are subsidies in disguise.

Further, actual private investments in natural capital are negligible compared to investments in unsustainable economic activities. This is because these are much more profitable, and hence a much better form of capital or “value in motion”.

When Ecuador, for example, asked government and private actors to invest in conservation of the Yasuni protected area, the promised investments stayed far below what was hoped for. Actual donations were much lower still. As a result, the country is now allowing companies to drill for oil in the park.

The common argument made by proponents of natural capital, namely that it helps to make the value of nature visible, is therefore deeply flawed. The value of nature is perfectly visible to investors. They know that destroying it is far more profitable than saving it.

Destruction for protection?

An even more fundamental point is that destruction of nature is increasingly becoming the basis for the conservation of nature. Programmes built on natural capital are usually geared towards offsetting the destruction of nature, which becomes the main source of the money needed for investing in conservation. In the logic of natural capital, investments in unsustainable economic activities are therefore “compensated” by equal investments in sustainable activities.

This practice, which in theory should lead to no net loss of – or better yet, net positive impact on – nature and biodiversity, leads to an untenable contradiction. It means that nature can only be conserved if it is first destroyed.

But as indicated above, this is still mostly a virtual problem since actual investments in conserving natural capital have remained insignificant. Even worse, companies generally invest much more in strong lobbies to keep environmental regulation to an absolute minimum. If they really believed that conservation would be profitable, there would be little incentive to pursue this lobbying any more.

From quantity of growth to quality of life

The conclusion is clear: natural capital is no practical or realistic solution to integrate nature into the economy or make its values visible. It is a dangerous illusion that will not only worsen but also legitimate the environmental crisis. And while some probably really believe in its potential, most of those at the helm of the current economic system must see on a daily basis that natural capital is illusory.

But by participating in it, they also know that more fundamental questions about the logic of our economy and who benefits from it are not asked. And hence they do not have to provide any answers.

But we do have to ask these questions: should we not start weaning ourselves off an economy predicated on an unsustainable quantitative growth-fetish? Should we not build an economy focused on people, nature and equality rather than one based on putting forth money only to ultimately make more money? Most especially, should we not build an economy focused on quality of life rather than quantity of growth?

With some imagination, the answers are not only straightforward but also practical, logical and truly sustainable.

 

[Bram Büscher: Professor of Geography, Environmental Management and Energy Studies, University of Johannesburg; Research Associate, Stellenbosch University; Professor of Sociology of Development and Change, Wageningen University]

[Robert Fletcher: Associate Professor, Sociology of Development and Change, Wageningen University]

 

Just Passing Through

Public Good Project

February 25, 2017

by Jay Taber

bubonic plague0

“bubonic, plague, smear, demonstrating, presence, yersinia, pestis, bacteria” Source: Margaret Parsons, Dr. Karl F. Meyer, USCDCP

Descending into a New Dark Age—an era ruled by transnational criminal networks—total chaos is becoming our new social reality. Due to the corroding influence of Agents of Chaos, we are already beginning an apparently permanent period of total war worldwide.

Escalating instability—caused by state-imposed austerity, internally displaced persons, war refugees, climate change, and a skyrocketing membership in religious fundamentalism—means our ability to mentally cope is diminishing. And the agents of chaos are in the driver’s seat.

Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria–a documentary about antibiotics misuse that has promulgated untreatable lethal disease—suggests human overpopulation, and its attendant climate change impacts, might not be a future problem. Perhaps, as a species, we are just passing through.

[Jay Thomas Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a correspondent to Forum for Global Exchange, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and journalists engaged in defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations.]

Cuba’s Achievements Over the Decades

TeleSUR

March 18, 2016

Despite a fierce U.S. economic blockade, Revolutionary Cuba has made tremendous gains.

 

 Gender equality: Cuba was the first country to sign and the second to ratify the Discrimination against Women convention. Nearly half of the parliamentary seats in the Cuban National Assembly are occupied by women.
Gender equality: Cuba was the first country to sign and the second to ratify the Discrimination against Women convention. Nearly half of the parliamentary seats in the Cuban National Assembly are occupied by women. Photo:EFE
Health: For all Cubans, healthcare is completely free. Cuba created the Meningitis-B vaccine in 1985, and later the vaccines for Hepatitis-B and Dengue.
Health: For all Cubans, healthcare is completely free. Cuba created the Meningitis-B vaccine in 1985, and later the vaccines for Hepatitis-B and Dengue. Photo:EFE
Global humanitarian programs: Since 1969, a total of 325,710 Cuban health workers have participated in missions in 158 countries.
Global humanitarian programs: Since 1969, a total of 325,710 Cuban health workers have participated in missions in 158 countries. Photo:EFE
Under Cuba
Under Cuba’s constitution “any form of discrimination harmful to human dignity” is prohibited and gender reassignment surgeries have been available under its national healthcare, free of charge, since 2008. Photo:EFE
Education: The literacy rate in the country is 99 percent. Cuba offers free education from elementary school through university.
Education: The literacy rate in the country is 99 percent. Cuba offers free education from elementary school through university. Photo:EFE
Employment: The unemployment rate in Cuba as of 2014 was 2.7 percent. International Worker
Employment: The unemployment rate in Cuba as of 2014 was 2.7 percent. International Worker’s Day, or May Day, is a major national workers celebration in Cuba. Photo:Reuters

White Pedagogy: The Exclusivity of White Hegemony

Odyssey

October 18, 2016

By Patrick J. Derilus

“Most persons have accepted the tacit but clear modern philosophy which assigns to the white race alone the hegemony of the world.” — W.E.B. Du Bois

White Hegemony is a systemic structure administered in pedagogical and societal practice, which emphasizes and reinforces the racist ideology of White superiority linguistically, socially, and intellectually. Within White supremacist culture, formal English is the so-called “perfect” and “articulate” and “intelligent-sounding” way most individuals are subject to learn how to speak. In a White eugenicist context, this racist notion suggests that Whiteness is the apex of both genetic and intellectual life. Moreover, it is indicative of White normativity.

James Baldwin v. William F. Buckley Jr. Debate

“Throughout, and especially in its higher reaches, higher education is a White and male dominated system. The reproduction of Whiteness and White (and male and upper-middle-class) dominance is part of the ‘hidden curriculum’ of higher education.” — Jessica M. Charbeneau, Enactments of Whiteness in Pedagogical Practice

If I, an American-Haitian man, speaks formal English, White people will find it patronizingly enlightening and sometimes surprising to understand that I’m able to articulate myself so eloquently. White people have not seen my humanity because of my Blackness. White people have recognized my Blackness in the way they have been conditioned to perceive me. Thus, I supposedly have sounded like them, which was conforming to the White hegemonic standard. In the past, Black people have shied away from me here and there, while having the assumption that I talk “white.”

In retrospect, I had not acknowledged a lot of white supremacist ideals that I have been living with. Because of this, my past assumption on the way that I spoke and carried myself, made me feel as though I was exceptional among Black people. On the contrary, using big words never made me smarter. I’ve always been smart. The whole time I was unconsciously pacifying myself to appease white overseers who are both covertly and overtly racist. But language is the universal tongue of human interaction which brings us to understand one another beyond face value. White Hegemony is not inclusive. White Hegemony is exclusive. Additionally, White Hegemony racializes linguistics. White Hegemony makes it so that people who cannot speak properly, are both incomprehensible and incompetent.

Malcolm X - Who Taught You To Hate Yourself Speech
White people, unable to see their particularity, cannot take account of other people’s; white people don’t quite see that they thus construct the world in their own image. — Richard Dyer, Whiteness: The Power of Invisibility

Growing up and city-hopping through suburban neighborhoods most my life, and being surrounded by racist White people and being victim to internalized racism, I had previously conceded with the bigoted sentiment that, for instance, slang is a “sub-par” way of articulating oneself.

Kai Davis - Fuck I Look Like (Poem)

You looking at me like I’m not supposed to be standing here next to you
like, we in the same class but your idea of advance is too advanced
and my mind can’t match you, I think it’s my vernacular,
how I got half the consonants and twice the apostrophes
so my philosophy can’t be valid. — Kai Davis, F*ck I Look Like (Spoken Word Poem)

I’ve been practicing to unlearn the ignorance I’ve been taught, slowly understanding that slang is not a substandard way of talking or writing. It never was. Ebonics, or perhaps a more politically correct way of phrasing the term, A.A.V.E. (African American Vernacular English), is the language of the Black diaspora. Oftentimes, if someone from a country (that was once colonized) is coming to America, they are required to speak correct and fluent English. The idea is, if someone from outside the United States is not speaking “correct” English, and yes I quoted the word “correct” because the correct pronunciations of words are subjective, the person will be ridiculed by Americans (predominantly White Americans), presuming that the language or the way the individual is talking is “inferior” or “wrong.”

Language is language. Outside of White supremacist culture, there exists no “perfect” or “superior” language.

Hands Off! Russian Envoy Stands Against Imposing Color Revolution on Venezuela

Libya 360 | Internationalist News Agency

October 3, 2016

 

hands-off

© AFP 2016/ FEDERICO PARRA

Foreign Ministry statement on the situation in Venezuela

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

The recent political developments in Venezuela are evidence of attempts by the irreconcilable internal forces to escalate tensions using external support. Their goal is to remove the Venezuelan Government from power at all costs.

The pretext used for the latest attempt to fuel tensions was the National Electoral Council’s decision on a procedure for preparing a nationwide recall referendum, which is the equivalent of a popular no-confidence vote.

We must state in this connection that respect for the Constitution and the law is the only basis for dealing with internal political issues in Venezuela, or any other country. Sidestepping the legal framework or using external pressure to provoke this are unacceptable, no matter the pretext for justification. Only the Venezuelan people, as the holders of sovereignty, can determine their future based on constitutional processes.

As for the international community, including some of Venezuela’s neighbours, it would be good if their policies helped normalise the internal political situation in Venezuela. In turn, this would help bring about the Venezuelan people’s hopes for peace and stability, a settlement of their economic problems and the continued development of their country.

Operation Condor: For More Than 50 Years the CIA Went Deep into Ecuadorean Society

teleSUR

June 8, 2016

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), according to declassified documents and testimonies of previous agency officials, had a permanent operation to intervene in political and social decisions of Ecuador.

Starting from the 60s, the CIA infiltrated governments, police, civilian groups, and NGOs to advance U.S. interests in the country, and continues to fight for its power and influence in the region.

Unfortunately, few have knowledge of the political moves that led to the intervention of foreign intelligence forces and the deadly consequences it had for South and Central America, as well as the impact on the new world order.

Background

The Cuban Revolution had succeeded in 1959 and anti-colonial resistance groups began to flourish in Latin America. The Soviet Union maintained its geopolitical strength in part through supporting its new ally, Cuba. It was the beginning of another Cold War for the U.S.

In the early 1960’s, nationalist Ecuadorean President Jose Maria Velasco Ibarra and his later successor, Vice President Carlos Julio Arosemena Monroy, were pressured by the agency to break diplomatic relations with the new socialist government of Fidel Castro in Cuba. When both refused to isolate Castro’s government, both were successively ousted by the country’s military forces, backed by CIA operations.

Ecuador, like other South American countries, was part of the U.S.-backed Operation Condor in the 1970s. This plan endorsed state-sponsored terror to control what was perceived to be the threat of communism and eliminate subversive sectors of society.

Operation Condor’s targets were activists, organizers, and opponents of the dictatorships the U.S. helped set up in the region. Two prominent presidents in Latin America, Panama’s Omar Torrijos and Ecuador’s Jaime Roldos, strongly opposed the U.S. measures.

Roldos and Torrijos were both killed in a plane crash, and according to declassified CIA documents their deaths could have been connected to this plan, as other leftist leaders were also targeted throughout the region.

Investigators continue to believe that Roldos’ death is tied to a CIA operation in the country, since the president wanted to reorganize the hydrocarbon sector, a strong threat to U.S. interests in Ecuador.

CIA Going Deep

Among the agency’s less known activities include the infiltration of hundreds of its agents into diplomatic offices, political parties and military forces in Ecuador.

Agents at airports would report on passengers traveling to socialist countries such as Cuba and Russia, and mail sent to these countries was opened and recorded for the CIA to analyze. Any “special interest” guest in a hotel would be surveilled constantly. Even the medical staff in charge of President Velasco Ibarra reported on their weekly tasks to a CIA station in the country.

Spies kept extensive lists of data on targets such as full name, residences, workplace, phone number, preferred leisure activities and locations, hobbies, the name and dossier of spouses, and the names of schools attended by the children of targets, among other information.

Relevant information of interest to the agency was then passed onto U.S. headquarters.

The agency’s main targets at the time were the young socialist or communist political groups in universities. The Revolutionary Union of Ecuadorean Youth (URJE) was considered the most dangerous organization and the main target for destabilization, along with its parent party, the Communist Party of Ecuador.

Agents would infiltrate social groups and systematically work to discredit their popularity while fabricating or planting evidence to ensure that leaders were falsely prosecuted for crimes such as the bombing of right-wing political headquarters or even churches.

The CIA counted on the support of right-wing media outlets who published false information and didn’t question the sources or veracity of facts.

It was through such methods that the leftist movement lost unity and power in political and social spaces in the country.

Despite the documentation and testimonies verifying these activities, the CIA so far hasn’t acknowledged that its mission in the country also involved infiltrating social movements, radio stations, airlines, hotels and even hospitals.

New Methods, Same Strategy

The current Ecuadorean government has maintained that U.S. financial aid groups linked to the CIA are acting against leftist organizations in Latin American.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) are seen by many as tools used by the U.S. government to advance their political, economic and social interests.

Many opposition groups and media networks in Latin America are funded by USAID, the NED or other U.S. based private and public institutions. In addition to Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, other leftist presidents have denounced that these institutions are operating to destabilize their governments as was the case with the late Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and NED funding to opposition groups, and more recently the civil liberties groups behind the impeachment process against Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff.

According to President Correa, these organizations were acting politically to promote social unrest and opposition towards his government’s policies. In 2012, Correa threatened to kick out the USAID after accusing it of financing opposition groups and of involving itself the country’s internal politics.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) are seen by many as tools used by the U.S. government to advance their political, economic and social interests.

Many opposition groups and media networks in Latin America are funded by USAID, the NED or other U.S. based private and public institutions. In addition to Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, other leftist presidents have denounced that these institutions are operating to destabilize their governments as was the case with the late Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and NED funding to opposition groups, and more recently the civil liberties groups behind the impeachment process against Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff.

According to President Correa, these organizations were acting politically to promote social unrest and opposition towards his government’s policies. In 2012, Correa threatened to kick out the USAID after accusing it of financing opposition groups and of involving itself the country’s internal politics.

He said other progressive governments were analyzing whether or not to take the same actions.

Some reports also indicated that President Rafael Correa could be targeted by the CIA, given his strong opposition to U.S. intervention in the country and region. Since taking office, he has closed a U.S. military base in Manta and expelled two U.S. diplomats who worked for the CIA. He has also given asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in London to Julian Assange.

As it did 50 years ago, the CIA continues to intervene and infiltrate through new methods and new assets in Ecuador.

Operation Condor: An Era of State Terror Made in Washington, DC

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For those who opposed U.S.-backed dictatorships in South America, “Operation Condor” was either a living nightmare or a death sentence — or both.

Officially, Operation Condor was an intelligence-sharing arrangement that was established in 1975 among Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay, later joined by Ecuador and Peru. However, it is now widely understood that the notorious Cold War-era “black operations” plan was masterminded, funded, and backed to the hilt by the U.S.A.

Operation Condor was the culmination of a U.S.-orchestrated campaign that entailed the ruthless silencing, murder, torture, and disappearance of tens of thousands of left-wing opponents of U.S. imperialism and the fascistic military dictatorships backed by the CIA and supported by infamous Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

As the U.S. renews its attempts to dislodge democratically-elected governments through various means in a continuation of its historic offensive against the popular movements of Latin America, we look back at the still-fresh memories of Operation Condor and the major human rights abuses perpetrated by Washington and its allies.

The logo of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency is shown in the lobby of the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Declassified documents have revealed that U.S. security agencies viewed Operation Condor as a legitimate operation designed to "eliminate Marxist terrorist activities."
The logo of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency is shown in the lobby of the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Declassified documents have revealed that U.S. security agencies viewed Operation Condor as a legitimate operation designed to “eliminate Marxist terrorist activities.” Photo:Reuters
According to the CIA "the consensus at the highest levels of the US Government was that an Allende Presidency would seriously hurt US national interests (in Chile)." In this photo, Supporters of President Salvador Allende are rounded up by General Augusto Pinochet
According to the CIA “the consensus at the highest levels of the US Government was that an Allende Presidency would seriously hurt US national interests (in Chile).” In this photo, Supporters of President Salvador Allende are rounded up by General Augusto Pinochet’s troops following the former’s ouster. Photo:EFE
Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet shaking hands with U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 1976. Pinochet
Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet shaking hands with U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 1976. Pinochet’s dictatorship lasted 17 years and claimed thousands of lives. Photo:Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Chile
Paraguayan dictator General Alfredo Stroessner (L) and Chilean dictator Gen. Pinochet (R) wave to crowds in Santiago, Chile.
Paraguayan dictator General Alfredo Stroessner (L) and Chilean dictator Gen. Pinochet (R) wave to crowds in Santiago, Chile. Photo:Reuters
In Bolivia, a CIA-backed military coup led to the overthrow of leftist President Juan Torres. Following the coup, dictator Hugo Banzer had over 2,000 political opponents arrested without trial, tortured, raped and executed.
In Bolivia, a CIA-backed military coup led to the overthrow of leftist President Juan Torres. Following the coup, dictator Hugo Banzer had over 2,000 political opponents arrested without trial, tortured, raped and executed.
Members of the "Madres de Plaza de Mayo" human rights organization hold a banner demanding information on their missing sons and daughters before marching from the Congress to the Presidential Palace, Oct. 28, 1982.
Members of the “Madres de Plaza de Mayo” human rights organization hold a banner demanding information on their missing sons and daughters before marching from the Congress to the Presidential Palace, Oct. 28, 1982. Photo:AFP
Worker being arrested during a protest against the Argentine dictatorship in Buenos Aires, March 30, 1982
Worker being arrested during a protest against the Argentine dictatorship in Buenos Aires, March 30, 1982 Photo:AFP
Photographs of the disappeared in Argentina.
Photographs of the disappeared in Argentina. Photo:Colección AGRA, Archivo Memoria Activa
Graffiti in Buenos Aires, 2011 demanding justice for victims of the "Dirty War" and a trial for the military junta.
Graffiti in Buenos Aires, 2011 demanding justice for victims of the “Dirty War” and a trial for the military junta. Photo:Wikipedia
One of the cells used during the reign of Paraguayan Dictator Alfredo Stroessner, now a museum in Asuncion dedicated to those murdered under Operation Condor.
One of the cells used during the reign of Paraguayan Dictator Alfredo Stroessner, now a museum in Asuncion dedicated to those murdered under Operation Condor. Photo:EFE
An exhibit of photographs displaying the victims of Operation Condor in Sao Paolo, Brazil, Sept. 23, 2014.
An exhibit of photographs displaying the victims of Operation Condor in Sao Paolo, Brazil, Sept. 23, 2014. Photo:EFE
An exhibit of images relating to human rights violations during Operation Condor in Sao Paolo, Brazil, September 23, 2014.
An exhibit of images relating to human rights violations during Operation Condor in Sao Paolo, Brazil, September 23, 2014. Photo:EFE
Argentine forensic expert Rogelio Agustin Goiburu (r.) of human rights group
Argentine forensic expert Rogelio Agustin Goiburu (r.) of human rights group ‘Verdad, Justicia y Reparacion’ (Truth, Justice and Amends) works with others to excavate human remains discovered in the grounds of a police barracks in Asuncion, Paraguay in August 2010. The skeletal remains of 11 people were found based on information that they were victims of the government of General Alfredo Stroessner, dictator from 1954 to 1989. Photo:Reuters
Flowers are left behind on the memorial of disappeared persons at a general cemetery in Santiago, Chile.
Flowers are left behind on the memorial of disappeared persons at a general cemetery in Santiago, Chile. Photo:Reuters
Former Argentine dictator and general, Rafael Videla (2-R) and other defendants are seen during their trials to investigate crimes committed during Operation Condor, in Buenos Aires.
Former Argentine dictator and general, Rafael Videla (2-R) and other defendants are seen during their trials to investigate crimes committed during Operation Condor, in Buenos Aires. Photo:AFP
Former Argentine military members Santiago Riveros (2-L) and Eugenio Guanabens (C) are seen in Buenos Aires in 2013 among other defendants during their trials over crimes committed during Operation Condor.
Former Argentine military members Santiago Riveros (2-L) and Eugenio Guanabens (C) are seen in Buenos Aires in 2013 among other defendants during their trials over crimes committed during Operation Condor. Photo:AFP
A man holds a sign with the image of Chile
A man holds a sign with the image of Chile’s late former president Salvador Allende during the May Day demonstration in Valparaiso city, Chile, May 1, 2016. Photo:Reuters
A group of victims of the Stroessner dictatorship in Paraguay meet in downtown Asuncion, February 2, 2013.
A group of victims of the Stroessner dictatorship in Paraguay meet in downtown Asuncion, February 2, 2013. Photo:EFE
Protester holds sign listing deceased dictators that notes "One common past, one destination."
Protester holds sign listing deceased dictators that notes “One common past, one destination.” Photo:Reuters
Brazilians take part in an annual national march commemorating the anniversary of the 1964 coup, which overthrew President Joao Goulart from the progressive Labor Party in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2016.
Brazilians take part in an annual national march commemorating the anniversary of the 1964 coup, which overthrew President Joao Goulart from the progressive Labor Party in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2016. Photo:Reuters
A woman holds up a portrait of U.S. President Barack Obama with the words "persona non grata" during a demonstration to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Argentina
A woman holds up a portrait of U.S. President Barack Obama with the words “persona non grata” during a demonstration to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Argentina’s 1976 military coup in Buenos Aires, March 24, 2016. Under Barack Obama’s tenure, Brazil has seen the installation of a new, unelected, and unpopular right-wing coup government.