Archives

Tagged ‘Goldman Sachs.‘

Fundacion Pachamama is Dead – Long Live ALBA [Part II of an Investigative Report]

The Art of Annihilation

May 7, 2014

Part two of an investigative report by Cory Morningstar

Fundación Pachamama Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VII  • Part VIII [Final Segment]

[This report references both REDD[1] and the REDD+[2] mechanism. REDD refers to Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation while REDD+ was updated to reflect: “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries; and the role of Conservation, Sustainable Management of Forests and Enhancement of Forest Carbon Stocks.”] For the sake of continuity, the authors of this investigative series will use the original acronym REDD in this series unless REDD+ appears in references or quotes.]

 

No-REDD+-in-Rio+20

Image: No REDD in Rio

REDDy for Hypocrisy

“[REDD is] a policy that grabs land, clear-cuts forests, destroys biodiversity, abuses Mother Earth, pimps Father Sky and threatens the cultural survival of Indigenous Peoples. This policy privatizes the air we breathe. Commodifies the clouds. Buy and sells the atmosphere. Corrupts the Sacred…. It is time to defend Mother Earth and Father Sky. Your future depends on it.” — Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director, Indigenous Environmental Network, October 22, 2013

Industrial capitalists, employing those in the non-profit industrial complex as their personal soft-power sycophants, have every intention of controlling what remain of Indigenous People’s natural resources. Adding to centuries of colonialism, slavery, and genocide, native peoples now face a 21st century corporatocracy that seeks full privatization and commodification of the Earth’s remaining commons. As an example, the creation of ecological reserves on Indigenous land is rampant yet proceeds relatively unnoticed. The theft of biological wealth under the guise of conservation is stealth and must be acknowledged as such – nothing less than a brilliant coup.

In the final frontier of Earth’s last remaining natural resources, with capitalism on its knees with nowhere else to go, a silent war has begun that few yet notice. It can be summarized in two words: environmental markets.

REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) is one such key market. [“REDD+ is a climate change mitigation solution that many initiatives, including the UN-REDD Programme, are currently developing and supporting. Other multilateral REDD+ initiatives include the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and Forest Investment Program (FIP), hosted by The World Bank. Source] This scheme (creating / obtaining permits to pollute via corporate capture of Earth’s last remaining forests) will not mitigate the escalating climate and ecological crises in any way. Rather, it simply allows polluters to continue polluting. REDD allows, and even encourages, our multiple ecological crises to further accelerate while ensuring the seizure / commodification and further exploitation of Earth’s remaining natural resources. Tina Vahenen, from the UN REDD Secretariat, addressed an auditorium of timber executives and foresters at the World Forestry Congress in 2009 and stated, “REDD would be very beneficial for forestry.” Not forests – forestry. Ms Vahenen explained to the room that REDD would be worth $45 billion for the timber industry and insisted that “the forestry sector cannot afford to lose this opportunity.” [Key Arguments Against REDD, 2011- Source]

At first glance it appears that Pachamama Alliance (and Pachamama Foundation by extension) are “more legitimate” than most big greens – and they may very well be, to some extent. Their progressive language is demonstrated in the positions put forward on REDD by Pachamama Foundation that appear on their website and in the mainstream.

August 8, 2011: Pachamama Foundation Website (translated from the Spanish by Google Translate):

“Aware of the urgent need to reduce deforestation in the country, Fundación Pachamama’s participation at international level in the Accra Caucus and national level in the monitoring group UN-REDD and the National Standards Committee Socio-environmental REDD +, aims to participate in advocacy spaces to ensure the inclusion of human and collective rights, self-determination, land rights, and full and effective participation of the subjects of law, and monitoring the construction of political national government for the conservation and the importance of forests. In domestic spaces acts as delegate CEDENMA, representing a sector of environmental civil society organizations to advocate for getting the highest standards of conservation and the guarantee of human and collective rights and the rights of nature. Pachamama Foundation disagrees with any attempt of the Government of Ecuador to participate in carbon markets, is in a stage of preparation and implementation stages. Markets do not do more than consider nature as a commodity and encourage perverse and inequitable business that promotes a model of capitalist development and unsustainable. Pachamama Foundation does not promote any REDD mechanism. Rather, it maintains a very critical position, this being insufficient and incomplete to combat climate change mechanism, whose origin is in a biased account of the forest that does not include the Indigenous world, does not recognize rights for nature and the commodification and intended to be inserted into the woods in the perverse world market.”

This sounds like an honourable, even radical, position. And it is. But consider the following text exactly three months later on November 8, 2011, also from the Pachamama Foundation website:

María Belén Páez, director of Pachamama Foundation, spoke about the REDD mechanism during the plenary of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). In her speech, she addressed the following topics [translated from the Spanish]:

Financing: The REDD finance mechanism should be transparent, reliable, and accessible.

Additionality: The reductions under the REDD mechanism must be in addition to emission reductions required under the Kyoto Protocol for developed countries, ie, [REDD credits providing carbon offsets] should not replace these reductions.

Integrity: It is important that the parties agree that funding for REDD ensures social and environmental integrity, in addition to sustainable development and good governance.

Innovation: Funding for REDD should focus on a variety of innovative sources.

Carbon markets: Carbon trading has been declared as merchandise with the worst performance in the world. Its growth has stagnated and declined. Forests are not within this market due to concerns about leakage and impermanence of the forest.

Offset credits: It has been shown that these loans are prone to fraud and market manipulation. They should not be part of any package of funding for REDD.

Multi-functionality: It is important to recognize that forests have multiple functions in addition to their ability to store carbon. Payments resulting from REDD have to compensate more than the amount of reduced tonnes of carbon, for example, their spiritual and other environmental services. [Emphasis added to the word spiritual.]

Effectiveness: To improve the effectiveness of REDD and the ultimate goal of reducing pressures on deforestation and forest degradation, countries should be compensated not only for reducing emissions, but also for the implementation of measures to improve governance, respect for human and collective rights, and conservation of biodiversity.

Although Páez, executive director of Pachamama Foundation, publicly voices opposition to both carbon markets and offsets, she speaks as though financing/payments for REDD, from sources outside of environmental markets, are a realistic option. The intent of REDD by capitalists is to turn the services provided by Earth’s forests into globally tradable commodities. Sources of REDD finance are intentionally presented as hazy and vague while simultaneously espousing half promises that non-market finance will miraculously materialize from nowhere. The simplistic notion that altruistic REDD finance funds from “innovative sources” will come raining down from the sky is a sugar-coated Venus flytrap that easily lures those that are greedy, extraordinarily naïve or cloaked in denial,particularly those dependent upon the non-profit industrial complex.

Note the phrase “spiritual services” as cited by Páez. One must ask how “payments results in REDD” would/could compensate for the loss of spiritual services. Can an exemplary amount of money compensate for spiritual services? If you are a spiritual capitalist, the answer appears to be yes.

At COP17, Páez “represented civil society” (even though unelected to do so) and Accra Caucus (of which Pachamama Foundation is a member). [1] Accra Caucus on Forests and Climate Change is a network of southern and northern NGOs representing around 100 civil society and Indigenous Peoples organizations from 38 countries, formed at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting in Accra, Ghana in 2008. The Caucus works to place the rights of Indigenous and forest communities at the centre of negotiations on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), and to ensure that efforts to reduce deforestation promote good governance and are not a substitute for emission reductions in industrialized countries. [“A full list of members of the Accra Caucus is available on request.” Source. Note that requests were made to acquire this full list, with no success.] Incidentally, Accra Caucus is also partner to the UN REDD Desk. [2] For further information it provides a link to the partner, Rainforest Foundation. At this link we find that Pachamama Alliance is also an “actor” within the UN for implementing REDD, as is Fundación Pachamama. [3]

As mentioned prior, Pachamama Foundation is also partner with the Coordinadora Ecuatoriana de Defensa de la Naturaleza y el Ambiente (CEDENMA) (Ecuadorian Coordinator of Organizations for the Defense of Nature and the Environment). At COP17, Natalia Greene, program coordinator of “Political Plurinationality and Rights of Nature” at Pachamama Foundation was also responsible for chairing CEDENMA, of which she is president.

“Nationally we have participated as a representative of the Ecuadorian Coordinator of Organizations for the Defense of Nature and the Environment (CEDENMA) in building REDD spaces and policies with a MAE (Ministerio del Ambiente) mechanism to guarantee the rights of Indigenous peoples. — Pachamama Foundation [Source]

The Spanish website of CEDENMA (an “Agency Partnership and political representation of Ecuadorian civil nonprofit organizations”), which represents the Global Alliance for Rights of Nature, “a network of organizations and individuals committed to the adoption and implementation of legal systems that recognize, respect and enforce the rights of nature individuals” (to be discussed further in this report) is registered to an address in West Jacksonville, Florida, US. Under the link “I am Nature,” the website redirects you to Pachamama Foundation’s YouTube channel. The vast majority of the members are of US/foreign origin with masses of tentacles to hegemony. In one instance, the “collaborators” cited are World Bank, USAID, US Fish and Wildlife Service, WWF, Nature Conservancy, Conservation International and many other hegemonic institutions.

Theatre

 “Political rhetoric and sophistries do not exist, after all, in order that they be believed; rather, they have to serve as a common and agreed upon alibi.” Milan Kundera

The matrix of alliances and the repertoire of concerned/attentive language as briefly touched upon above is a brief overview and screenplay of exquisite theatre – theatre also performed for the benefit of the actors and extras themselves, carefully ensuring that all involved can bear to face themselves each morning when they must wake and look in the mirror. As defined by Kundera, it’s an “agreed upon alibi” to alleviate the conscience.

It is a spectacular feat to continually walk the fence wearing Prada heels. The script dictates that corporations, foundations, governments, organizations/NGOs (hierarchal/top down) must unequivocally demonstrate that “civil” society and Indigenous peoples, in particular, have been absolutely involved in the entire process of decision-making. Again, language is instrumental: safeguards; Free, Prior and Informed Consent; transparency; social and environmental integrity; self-determination; sustainable development; cultural integrity; good governance; respect for human and collective rights; rights-based forestry;and conservation of biodiversity, etc. etc. The list of ethical, beautiful and soothing turns of phrase that both ease and suppress well-founded anxieties flows like the River Nile. The i’s will be dotted and the t’s must be crossed. There will be nothing left undone that allows for litigation, that allows for any groups to claim they were not consulted. The capitalists will claim that civil society was not only consulted, they were invited to come to the table, with a heavy emphasis on outreach to Indigenous peoples. It’s all theatre, ladies and gentleman. And everyone in the production knows how the show ends. The ending was written long before anyone was assigned to their roles or studied their lines.

This is not activism. This is corporatized environmentalism – the ultimate oxymoron. A thriving industry for hegemony cloaked under the thin guise of ethics and human rights.

No big greens intend to actually stop REDD. In fact, many NGOs are planning to profit from the scheme just as they have from forestry, for example, Forest Stewardship Council, founded by WWF: “Probus is retained by the Forest Stewardship Council, founded by WWF, to advise on non-conflict of interest global funding mechanisms for environmental stewardship councils and NGO development of global sustainable timber and aquaculture standards. In tandem with the financial aspects of environmental stewardship, Probus develops corporate structuring to enable large NGOs to gain independent revenues via ‘for-profit’ sister companies without impinging upon the impartiality and not-for-profit or charitable status of the NGO.” In the end, “important concessions” will have been made to “protect the Indigenous” and these special considerations will be celebrated as “win win!” victories. Yet, the considerations for concessions were also written into the script with many undoubtedly pre-determined from inception. The predacious capitalist gives nothing he does not wish to give. [Further reading on WWF’s certificationschemes and green washing can be found here, here, and here.]

Via the financial institutions, the media and the non-profit industrial complex, the capitalists perform the most malevolent activities that inflict further pain and destruction onto Earth’s most vulnerable societies, sentient beings and living ecosystems. Yet as long as they appear to be polite, conciliatory, and attentively listening to grievances, feigning concern for the associated plight and risks, alongside the pie in the sky “benefits,” of course, the majority of people will acquiesce to the predetermined, “politically feasible” reformist “solution.” Behind closed doors, the ménage of human drones defending capital do not waver. Tenacious as hell, they quietly shuffle forward – impassive, undeterred, absolutely focused on their strategic objectives. This may take years. It may take decades. It matters little. Time is of no essence. The end justifies the means. Call it Machiavellian. Or call it what it is: steady state pathology.

One simply has to look at The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child to see how such conventions are essentially worthless. Our children today are unlikely to live to old age due to cataclysmic ecological collapse, yet each waking day, the global economic system that ensures our annihilation continues unabated. Which begs the question: Why would anyone in sound mind believe that Indigenous Rights will be respected in the final scramble for the Earth’s last remaining natural resources?

Tragedy is, then, an enactment of a deed that is important and complete, and of [a certain] magnitude, by means of language enriched [with ornaments], each used separately in the different parts [of the play]: it is enacted, not [merely] recited, and through pity and fear it effects relief (catharsis) to such [and similar] emotions. — Aristotle, Poetics, VI 1449b 2–3

“[A]nd through pity and fear it effects relief to such [and similar] emotions.”

The embracing of deception (deception that must be swallowed whole, and willingly, if one is to protect their privilege) is warm and consoling. Not unlike a tightly spun cocoon. A metamorphosis into the same pathology we claimed to oppose.

Lying to oneself is easy for those within the non-profit industrial complex. They profess to oppose it – knowing full well that their funding (meaning their privilege and very identities) is fully dependent on what they claim to contest coming to fruition. In many cases, concern and voiced opposition are sincere. It makes no difference. Everyone understands the rules of the game. They understand from the onset that what they object to (at least publicly), which almost always falls under the expansion of capital, is going to be realized. They will voice their distrust and unease and demonstrate just how incredibly noble and ethical they are (with great concern for the natives, of course – natives in faraway exotic places, that is) prior to the proposed policy/scheme being realized. It’s theatre for the audience. Theatre for our conscience. Theatre for the absurd.

Feeding at the REDD Trough

10264732_1432624356987728_8520994545371387783_n

Image: Accomplices Not Allies: Abolishing the Ally Industrial Complex

It’s easy to talk smack against REDD when one (in this case, Pachamama Foundation) is partnered with UN REDD Desk and funded by Norway Rainforest Foundation (RFN), et al. All it takes is a heightened level of hypocrisy and superiority.[“RFN’s finances are to a significant degree based on multiyear contracts with Norwegian public authorities regarding long-term financial assistance. The organization derives additional funding from individuals and bequests (including from regular private donors designated ‘Rainforest Guardians’); contributions from members of the business community such as Nordic Choice Hotels; and international funds and foundations such as the Ford Foundation and the Rainforest Foundation Fund…. In Indonesia, RFN and its partners have made use of the opportunity presented by the international attention which followed the country becoming a target of many REDD initiatives, including a USD 1 billion bilateral agreement between Norway and Indonesia, in order to provide advice, criticism and input in dialogue with the government and in the media…. As stated by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), ‘the Rainforest Foundation Norway support to the Civil Society National Climate and REDD working group in DRC has brought full Congolese civil society participation and involvement in developing the national REDD+ strategy and all of its components.'”] Norad is a key funder promoting REDD. [4]

“Norway continues to be UN-REDD’s first and largest donor, committing US$52.2million for 2008-2009, US$31 million for 2010, and at least US$40 million for 2011-2012.” [Source: June, 2011]

aftenposten-rufiji-delta

Image: The WWF, REDD and Tanzania

The current/previous Board of Directors on the Rainforest Foundation (US division) include representatives of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, AMG Wealth Partners, George Soros Open Society Foundations, Kingdon Capital Managementamong others. After the billion dollar deal was announced between Norway and Indonesia, it was revealed that Norway’s Government Pension Fund – Global had millions invested in many of the predatory corporations circling in on vulnerable Indigenous land owners in Papua and West Papua. This included a corporation that forced a four year old boy to sign land release contracts (PT Henrison Inti Persada, a subsidiary of the Noble Group, which it purchased from Kayu Lapis Indonesia Group, and Medco International and LG International – which sought 1 million hectares of Papua for industrial timber plantations).

Pachamama Alliance and Foundation may (and do) go far further in their criticisms against REDD and other market mechanisms, but at the end of the day they will fulfill the needs/interests of the foundations (fed by corporate profits). Just like every other NGO whose entire existence is dependent upon those profits.

The necessity for healthy dissent is critical. No one understands this more than the foundation. The oligarchy acknowledges there must be space for dissent and venting. To not ensure these needs are met is to invite elements that could lead to economic sabotage and revolutionary revolt. To have a handful of groups publicly objecting to the implementation of policies/schemes when one funds hundreds/thousands of groups to ensure their success is not threatening to the oligarchy whatsoever – rather, it ensures the populace will continue to believe (the falsehood) that they remain part of a true and healthy democracy. Who cares if a handful of groups highlight dangers of REDD – when the cat is already in the bag and the so-called “opposition” is addicted to and reliant on the foundation dole?

If the UN had a program called UN Climate Colonialism Desk (and that is what the UN REDD Desk essentially is), would we all join as “partners” to ensure we had “our say”? It is common knowledge that partners are sought after to 1) increase credibility, legitimacy and brand, and 2) accelerate the original intent/purpose. [5] Some organizations may attempt to justify such partnerships, but at the end of the day, they have lent much needed credibility and legitimacy to yet another instrument of colonialism that should have been isolated, exposed and scorned.

One can be absolutely certain that a key goal of the oligarchy, which has finally overcome most all obstacles in the indefatigable goal to implement REDD (two decades in the making, sought by Rockefeller, Ford, etc. [6], is to now expand REDD throughout Ecuador, Latin America and the rest of the world now that REDD+ framework has been achieved at COP19/Warsaw. [December 13, 2013: “WWF has worked towards realizing REDD+ for many years, engaging both on the ground in the key tropical forest nations of Indonesia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Peru, Colombia, the Guyanas and Brazil, as well as at the global policy and finance levels.”]

It is essential to note that none of the NGOs (over 100 at this point) participating in the Pachamama “solidarity” campaign disclose the fact that the Pachamama Foundation is financed by US interests. As an example, on December 5, 2013, The REDD-Monitor, demonstrating solidarity with Pachamama Foundation, voices its criticisms of the Ecuador Government, writing:

“As in other countries, REDD in Ecuador takes place in parallel to business as usual, including the suppression of the right to dissent. On its website, the UN-REDD programme reports that, ‘In order to reverse forest loss, Ecuador is implementing a series of initiatives to reduce deforestation in the country as part of good governance of forest resources and to simultaneously contribute to climate change mitigation by reducing GHG emissions related to this activity.'”

The REDD Monitor goes further, correctly spelling out why REDD is a false solution to climate change. Yet the REDD Monitor never mentions that both Pachamama Alliance and Pachamama Foundation are UN REDD “actors,” and financed by the very oligarchs (via foundations) that are heavily invested in REDD. For a poverty stricken state such as Ecuador, the support and pursuance of REDD is, without doubt, misguided and regrettable. For multi-million dollar NGOs (which, although unelected, claim to represent civil society) to support and pursue REDD is without doubt inexcusable. Yet, as far as support for REDD is concerned, the government of Ecuador alone will be the egregious villain while Pachamama Alliance and Foundation will be the virtuous victims. (It must be noted that the REDD Monitor is also a beneficiary of funding from Rainforest Foundation Norway.)

At this juncture it is critical to note two items of great significance.

“According to a recent policy brief from the Overseas Development Institute, $2.72 billion has been pledged for REDD+ since 2007.” — Rich Nations Agree to Fund Forest Protection for Climate, November 20, 2013 [7] [“Since 2007, USD 2.72 billion has been pledged to five multilateral climate funds and two bilateral initiatives that support efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation plus conservation (REDD+).”]

The $2.72 billion that has been pledged for REDD+ since 2007 is approximately the same monetary amount (with a similar timeline) that Ecuador required for the Yasuni-ITT Initiative. The Yasuni-ITT Initiative was the proposal by the government of Ecuador to refrain indefinitely from exploiting the oil reserves of the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) oil field within the Yasuni National Park, in exchange for 50% of the value of the reserves, or $3.6 billion over 13 years from the international community. During the six-year history of the initiative, only $336 million had been pledged, and of that only $13.3 million had actually been delivered. [Source] Hence, the project, however flawed, has failed, opening President Correa up to yet another attack by “the left.” [“It is worth remembering that the first trust set up to receive donations was designed, among others, by Yolanda Kakabadse, president of the World Wide Fund for Nature and trustee of the Ford Foundation, and businessman-environmentalist Roque Sevilla, both well connected in the NGO conservation world.” [Source]

This represents the greatest case of victim blaming, which has been the hallmark identifier of the Western response to the non-Anglo plight the world over. Correa and the state have little choice but to exploit these resources (in the case of Yasuni-ITT, 200 hectares (the actual size to be affected contested by some) directly impacted within the million-hectare National Park). This is due to the fact that the global economic system dictates that Ecuador MUST provide these raw materials for financial capital and everyday goods and services – or face the consequences of the West taking what Ecuador will not give willingly. The weak-willed left will point the finger at the leaders in the Global South who must acquiesce for the lives of their people rather than point the finger at the torturers of the Global North, who turn the screws while continuing to inflict the centuries-long pain of this parasitic relationship. Reparations be damned.

Yet a sister campaign, the international outcry regarding the projected tar sands mining/strip-mining designated to destroy 300,000 hectares of the Canadian Boreal Forest, is nowhere to be heard. [“The projected strip-mining of 740,000 acres (300,000 hectares) of forests and wetlands in the tar sands will result in the loss of breeding habitat for between 480,000 and 3.6 million adult birds. The corresponding impact on breeding will mean a loss of 4.8 million to 36 million young birds over a 20-year period, and 9.6 million to 72 million birds over a 40-year period.” [Source] Rather, we hear only cries against a single pipeline (the Keystone or KXL) – a campaign in large part funded by Buffett moneythat has allowed oil, gas and a 21st century oil-by-rail industrial revolution to expand and flourish. Production stopped at the source (on American soil) is of no focus. International cries for production to be crushed prior to drilling are only directed/applied to resource-rich states and their “dictators” (a phrase only applied to the uncooperative) who refuse to get down on all fours and lick the feet of imperialism. Once imperial states take control of foreign soil and natural resource wealth (via occupation, coercion or puppet presidencies), we never hear of campaigns to “keep the oil in the soil” again. A case in point would be the oil-rich state of Nigeria or recently illegally invaded and now occupied Libya where foreign interests pump and steal the oil as fast as modern day technology allows.

There is valid point to be made that defending the rights of nature cannot be based on the promise of compensation, yet the reality is that we, civil society, have a “movement” that refuses to make anti-capitalism the very foundation of all dialogue. A movement financed in full by the very interests we claim to oppose.

The fact of the matter is, if NGOs had campaigned for Yasuni (with no allowances for carbon offsetting / markets), rather than working behind the scenes with corporate interests and leading greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting Annex 1 statesto sanction / advance REDD, perhaps our situation today would be far different. But of course, this is not why the non-profit industrial complex exists. Instead, these NGOs and their foot soldiers, financed by the oligarchs, attacked the Ecuadorian Government, framing the failure as Correa’s alone, strategically pardoning the leading GHG-obstructionist states from their failed obligation and reparations while simultaneously ignoring the nature of the capitalist beast. [Opinion: Yasuní: Entre el eco-fundamentalismo y el Socialismo del Buen Vivir]

“It is becoming more apparent every day that there is no radical Left in this period, just a bunch of middle class intellectuals, politicians, preachers, businesspeople, and academics, many of whom are seeking or receiving government jobs, grants, contracts, or elevation to high political office from the very corporations or the capitalist state they claim to be fighting. They just want us to replace one group of masters for another, while the system itself keeps humming along.” Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin

And while NGOs such as Pachamama Alliance/Foundation, Avaaz (partner of Rockefellers Pro-REDD Climate Group), Greenpeace, Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, etc. assist in the corporate capture of our commons, consider this:

“The work of environmental scientists supporting the UN’s GEP [green economy program] will give scientific authority to the project, but the important decisions will have already been made…. The project is a deepening commitment to neoliberal free markets…. Meanwhile, scientific institutions, environmental NGOs and government agencies are working to build institutional infrastructure to give scientific authority to the UN’s GEP.… The historical critique of capitalism presented by John Bellamy Foster (2002) and others describes that the appropriation of the commons is an integral aspect of capitalism. Capitalism is always looking for new means of producing profit from activities that were otherwise not managed through commodity relationships.” Dr. Joanna Boehnert, Re-imaging the Commons as “The Green Economy”

The second item of significance is the State of Bolivia’s “Proposal for the Development of the Joint Mitigation and Adaptation Mechanism for the Integral and Sustainable Management of Forests,” which was presented to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)in August of 2012. Although in appearances many organizations have voiced opposition to REDD and carbon markets, it appears that absolutely none have seized the opportunity to campaign on the alternative proposal presented by the State of Bolivia.

Consider this: As the Bolivia delegation stood alone (and continues to stand alone) on the world stage opposing carbon markets (which include REDD) while also developing and presenting alternatives, behind the marketing and branding veneer of the non-profit industrial complex, some realities are crystal clear. “In September 2011, the 64th Annual UN DPI/NGO Conference took place in Bonn, Germany. About 1,500 people from 70 countries turned up. On the third day of the meeting, a remarkable thing happened. Not a single participant at the conference put up their hand to disagree with a declaration which promotes REDD as a carbon trading mechanism.”

“No one raised their hand to object to a single word in the declaration text. In an email distributing the document, Dodd states that, ‘The Declaration was accepted unanimously by the 1500 NGOs and other stakeholders present.'” Manufacturing Consent on Carbon Trading, Chris Lang

The declaration ended with “the call for governments to support forest certification. The ‘gold standard’ of forest certification is the Forest Stewardship Council. Yet FSC has certified vast areas of monoculture tree plantations. FSC also certifies industrial logging in primary forests. But none of the 1,500 people in the meeting objected to any of this – or any of the other statements in the more than 9,000-word declaration.” [Source]

So-called “progressive” media (also financed by and dependent upon foundation funding) apparently have no interest in alternatives to carbon markets either. Bolivia continued to fight for Mother Earth during the 18th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in Doha, Qatar. The Bolivian delegation reaffirmed its rejection of the use and expansion of the carbon market as a tool to reduce emissions that cause climate change in the world and presented a proposal with alternative tools in carbon markets. But what use are such alternative tools in the growth of global capitalism? In the mind of the Western world, this is akin to a child handing a bow and arrow to a warrior who is accustomed to using an Uzi, when in fact the “civilized” is now dependent upon the “savage” for help in solving the problem of Earthly destruction. But it appears we would rather die a thousand deaths than actually take this under consideration. As the world hangs in the balance, there is no more time left for the Western world to hold such ideologies. Yet, this will more than likely be the mindset that the West, as a collective, takes to the grave – taking all of the world with it.

Like Bolivia’s alternative proposal for carbon markets, the essential People’s Agreement (April 2010, Cochabamba), has been also been vigilantly marginalized and buried by the non-profit industrial complex. There has been almost zero support for any of these ground-breaking proposals/declarations. When climate justice groups on an international climate justice listserv were asked openly if there were flaws in these alternative proposals, the response was silence. Rather, the environmental “movement,” dominated by the privileged left while residing in the leading GHG-obstructionist NATO states, prefers to condemn leaders of ALBA states as phony “extractivists.”

“I deeply respect American sentimentality, the way one respects a wounded hippo. You must keep an eye on it, for you know it is deadly.” Teju Cole

Imperialism and enslavement is a narrative as old as time. The transformation of Western influence over sovereign states of the world can be traced back to what transpired after the overthrow of French colonizers by Haitian slaves in 1804.

As a result of their audacious desire to be free – a basic human right co-opted mainly by global white male supremacy – the Haitian slaves traded physical oppression, which had been the norm to that juncture, for an economic domination that they were unable to resist. Since then, this has been the blueprint imposed by the West over all the nation states that have attempted to overthrow physical domination.The forms of subjugation have changed over these past 200 years, yet subjugation remains.

Reddy to Manipulate

Consider the following:

In the February 21, 2013 article (Growing Coalition Joins Indigenous Leaders in Houston) featured on the Pachamama Alliance website, the following information is reported, demonstrating the close relationship between Pachamama Alliance and The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (CONFENIAE). [8]

 

… [O]ther citizen groups also turned out and spoke up to show their solidarity and support Vargas and Narcisa Mashienta, a Shuar leader and coordinator of Fundación Pachamama’s Jungle Mamas program who also traveled to Houston.

 

The leaders brought with them an open letter from the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador’s Amazon (CONFENIAE), which called for solidarity from the national and international community to resist oil exploitation in Ecuador’s remaining Amazon rainforest, among the most biodiverse in the world….

The petition has also garnered positive media coverage in Ecuador and internationally, ensuring that the issue of oil exploitation in what’s left of Ecuador’s Amazon would become part of the popular discourse and debate around Ecuador’s recent presidential election. (That election was held on February 17th and Rafael Correa was re-elected for a third term as President.)

Fundación Pachamama, Amazon Watch, and other allied NGOs have joined forces with Avaaz.org …. [Further Reading: AVAAZ: IMPERIALIST PIMPS OF MILITARISM, PROTECTORS OF THE OLIGARCHY, TRUSTED FACILITATORS OF WAR]

It is clear and reasonable that the Indigenous populations would oppose the drilling of oil on their ancestral land and that they have every right to defend it. Yet, there is another grave threat to the forests and their ancestral lands. And this very real threat is REDD. Pachamama Foundation is certainly “lending a hand” in ensuring that the devastating impacts of drilling oil are understood in the Indigenous populations, yet when it comes to REDD, the market incentive is discussed as though it can somehow be “made to behave” and evolve into an ethical, non-threatening market mechanism. This is a clear example of how foundation dollars and Western interests come into play. Drilling for oil is an obvious threat to forests. However, REDD, although equally threatening, does not “look” like oil. Workers don’t show up in coveralls, work boots and dirty rigs. REDD arrives in a shiny new Land Rover, full of designer suits, new Italian shoes and shiny white faces. Like CO2, the commodification of the forests is invisible.

Video (Running time: 9:26). Chief Aritana Yawalapiti explains how his people and his region are aggressively targeted by NGOs (ISA) to agree on REDD+ projects. [Published August 22, 2010 by documentary filmmaker Rebecca Sommer.]

On August 3, 2009, CONFENIAE (the logo and letterhead list of members includes organizations of the Shuar, Kichwa, Achuar, Waorani, Siona, Secoya, Cofan, Zapara, Shiwiar and Andoa Peoples) demonstrated that they were vehemently opposed to REDD:

 “We reject the negotiations on our forests, such as REDD projects, because they try to take away our freedom to manage our resources and also because they are not a real solution to the climate change problem, on the contrary, they only make it worse.

“We inform COICA, of which we are a part, that, as Ecuadorian Amazonian representatives with the right to voice and vote, that no person, entity, NGO, etc., is authorized to speak on our behalf in favor or against any issue without our knowledge and participation.”

Yet, in a paper titled “Making REDD a Success – Readiness and Beyond” by Woods Hole Research Center published about a year later (December 2009), both CONFENIAE and COICA (Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin (Amazon region) are now identified as REDD partners with Pachamama Foundation, the World Bank, WWF, etc. on page 5. The Woods Hole Research Center’s work on REDD is financed by USAID, The World Bank, Goldman Sachs, WWF and many others (page 2).

[“The WWF, The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, Environmental Defense Fund, Woods Hole Research Center, CIFOR, Wildlife Conservation Society and other ‘conservationist’ NGOs are among those who stand to make billions of dollars from REDD+.” Source]

“In recognition of the vital role of Indigenous Peoples in the REDD process, the Forum, in collaboration with COICA and the national Indigenous network in each country, convened three national-level workshops on REDD for Indigenous Peoples in Ecuador, Colombia and Bolivia. Partners in these workshops include EDF, IPAM and the Pachamama Foundation.” — “Making REDD a Success – Readiness and Beyond” by Woods Hole Research Center [Source]

The “forum” referred to in the above quote is the Forum on Readiness for REDD. EDF refers to Environmental Defence Fund USA and IPAM refers to the Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazonia (Brazil).

Demonstrating further disrespect for the State of Bolivia, which has been ardently opposed to REDD and carbon markets, “The Forum” conducted REDD workshops with Indigenous communities in Bolivia via FAN-Bolívia (Fundacion Amigos de la Natureza) [Funders and Donors] with REDD partner CIDOB (The Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia). [“… various social sectors have been infiltrated by USAID, which openly funded CIDOB, by the NED, and by the army of NGOs, which unfortunately has become another mechanism for hegemony to evade responsibilities.” Source]

[CONAIE was formed out of the union of two already existing organizations, ECUARUNARI and CONFENIAIE. ECUARUNARI, the regional organization of the Sierra that has been functioning for over 20 years, and the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (CONFENIAE), formed in 1980, created that same year the National Coordinating Council of the Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONACNIE).]

As mentioned prior, documents demonstrate that Pachamama Foundation has also partnered with USAID-WCS.

Attorney and writer, Eva Golinger(winner of the International Award for Journalism in Mexico, 2009), speaking in reference to USAID/NED:

“This type of funding/aid/advice is very complex and effective because it enables US agencies to infiltrate groups of all spectrums. I am not alleging all of these groups and their members are US agents or receive US funding, but the evidence is quite clear that certain factions within them have close relations w/ US agencies and receive their funding. And, they share a common agenda, against President Rafael Correa. That is undeniable.

“I have never said all of CONAIE or Pachakutik receives funding from US agencies, I have always said sectors, individuals and elements connected to them do receive such funding and training.

“Anyone who dismisses receiving funding or training from NED/USAID and related agencies as having no impact on politics has no understanding of the complex workings of these US agencies. They attempt to recruit, infiltrate and capture influential groups, parties and people who then promote US agenda. This is fact. Unfortunately, they are quite successful.”

The emphasis on local participation, encouraged and even mandated by the foundations and financiers, laid the pivotal groundwork for Indigenous participation regarding REDD. In the 2007 report led by Ricken Patel, founder of Avaaz, for the Gates foundation (“Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South”), this is referred to as “cultivating the fringe”: “If possible, fund the fringe, but if this is perceived as too high a risk then invite them to the table by including them in conferences and convenings.” [Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South: A Res Publica Report for the Gates Foundation | Source]

It is difficult to place any blame on the Indigenous communities/groups who have entered (or been coerced) into REDD partnerships. The manipulation by the elite foot soldiers within the complex is as smooth as fresh-churned butter. It is important to note that although many Indigenous Peoples are traditional, there are also those “selected” by the World Bank et al that have been completely assimilated by the Western culture and do fully understand that REDD, along with every organization and institution advancing/implementing it, is compromised or fraudulent, or both.

On December 14, 2013, it was reported that “At odds with Ecuador, USAID moves to leave. USAID expects to close its doors in Ecuador by September 2014 due to an increasingly acrimonious relationship with President Rafael Correa. This comes six months after it was kicked out of Bolivia.” The article quoted Steve Striffler, a professor of Latin American studies at the University of New Orleans who studies Ecuador, who stated “[T]hese countries are able to carve out independence from the US in a way they weren’t in the past. The idea they would have kicked out USAID 10 or 15 years ago is unimaginable…. In some ways these actions, and the [USAID decision] can be put in there too, are intended to say that we are an independent sovereign nation…. In the perspective of many in Latin America, and with good reason, USAID is seen as an agent of US imperialism.”

 

Next: Part III

 

[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, Counterpunch, Political Context, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

Edited with Forrest Palmer, Wrong Kind of Green Collective.

 

EndNotes:

[1] “Since 2008, we are a member of Accra Caucus, a coalition of civil society in countries with tropical forests, seeking recognition and respect for the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities to their lands, territories and resources, and traditional uses of forest policies in fighting climate change.” [Source]

[2] “The UN-REDD Programme was launched in September 2008 to prepare and implement national REDD+ strategies in developing countries and was formed by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). UN-REDD currently has 29 partner countries in Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America, of which 13 are receiving support for national programme activities, worth US$55.4 million.” [Source, June, 2011]

[3] The Pachamama Foundation is listed as an “actor” on the UN REDD Desk website, which states: “The Pachamama Foundation was created in 1997 in Ecuador as the sister organization of the Pachamama Alliance that was itself born in Ecuador following the visit of a group of tourists from California, USA, to the Achuar territory, home of an indigenous group that maintains its traditional lifestyle within the tropical rainforest in a remote region of the Ecuadorian Amazon.” [Source: http://theredddesk.org/countries/actors/pachamama-foundation]

[4] “Furthermore, through its ongoing REDD project, which got under way in May 2009, RFN and its local partners have sought to influence the REDD process in the DRC by disseminating information at the grassroots level on the opportunities and challenges of REDD – to local communities, small NGOs, and members of government and research institutions. RFN has also strengthened the capacity of a large number of Congolese civil society organisations to influence the REDD agenda of the DRC, both at the national and at the international level and has, alongside its partners, succeeded in securing civil society participation in the DRC’s National Steering Committee for REDD.” [Source] “There are many more layers that are pushing for legitimizing and expanding REDD+. For example, key funders that are promoting REDD+ are the Climate and Land Use Alliance (Ford Foundation, Packard Foundation, Climate Works, Betty and Gordon Moore Foundation), the Clinton Foundation, the Norwegian Agency for Development and Cooperation (NORAD), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ, Germany), the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) to name a few.” [Source: Some Key REDD+ Players]

[5] “This multi-donor trust fund states that “the final phase of REDD+ involves developed countries paying developing countries carbon offsets for their standing forests,” making it clear that they see REDD+ as a carbon trading scheme. [Source: June 2011]

[6] The following text appears March 8, 2010 in an article titled Getting REDDy to Cross the Finish Line, Two Decades in the Making: “It’s hard to imagine with all the progress REDD has achieved, that it all started less than 20 years ago with the Rio Summit in ’92, when the makings of a global sustainability architecture in the form of a climate treaty began to take shape. But a forestry treaty had yet to happen …. With over 20 years of experience in the forestry sector, Michael Northrup, Program Director of Sustainable Development at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, was invited by the Pinchot Institute for Conservation to give a Distinguished Lecture, ‘After Copenhagen: Implications for U.S. Climate, Energy, and Forest Policy’ at the high brow, exclusive Cosmos Club. Northrup casually described to the 30 or so people in the room where we are with REDD today and how we got here. Plus he played the ‘name game’ as he knew most of the people in the room.”

[7] “Rich Nations Agree to Fund Forest Protection for Climate: Promises turn into ‘definite’ dollars. REDD+ finance, the money needed to set up and implement a system that pays countries to leave forests standing, has followed a long road since the 2007 U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Bali, Indonesia, where nations pledged to take meaningful action to reduce emissions from deforestation. A 2008 study found it would cost between $17.2 billion and $28 billion per year to cut the global rate of deforestation in half. According to a recent policy brief from the Overseas Development Institute, $2.72 billion has been pledged for REDD+ since 2007 through five multilateral funds and two bilateral funds, more than half of it to Indonesia and Brazil. About one-tenth of the pledges have been disbursed to projects on the ground.” http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=rich-nations-agree-to-fund-forest-protection-for-climate&WT.mc_id=SA_DD_20131120

[8] The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (Spanish: La Confederación de las Nacionalidades Indígenas de la Amazonia Ecuatoriana) or CONFENIAE is the regional organization of indigenous peoples in the Ecuadorian Amazon or Oriente region. Nine indigenous peoples present in the region – Quichua, Shuar, Achuar, Huaorani, Siona, Secoya, Shiwiar, Záparo and Cofán – are represented politicalily by the Confederation. CONFENIAE is one of three major regional groupings that constitute the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE). It is also part of the Amazon Basin indigenous organization, COICA. [Source: Wikipedia]

 

Da’esh : Washington’s Proxy Army Trained to “Occupy” Syria [Brookings Institute]

Libya 360

November 27, 2014

By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
Smoke rises from the the Syrian town of Ain al-Arab, known as Kobane by the Kurds, after a strike from the US-led coalition as it seen from the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern village of Mursitpinar, Sanliurfa province, on October 14, 2014. (AFP Photo/Aris Messinis)

Is the US planning the occupation of Syria by training an unconventional insurgent invasion force?

Think regime change in Syria is off the drawing board? Think again. The bombing of the ISIL or ISIS in Syria is part of a brinkmanship campaign leading up to a potential non-conventional invasion, parallel to the re-introduction of the US military to Iraq.

The ISIL and the other anti-government forces in Iraq and Syria are not the only ones to disregard the Iraqi-Syrian border drawn by the British and French by Sykes-Picot in 1916. The US also disregarded the border and international law when it began to illegally bomb Syria.

The bombing campaign was not enough for some in the US Congress. In a joint statement on September 23, the arch-hawks US Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham called for US troops to be sent into Syria too. Both of them praised the Pentagon’s illegal airstrikes in Syria and then argued for US ground troops as well.

Although McCain and Graham went out of their way to say that this would not be an occupation of either Syria or Iraq, this is almost exactly what they were calling for when they said that the military campaign had to also be directed against the Syrian government.

Since, and even before the calls for an invasion of Syria by McCain and Graham different suggestions have circulated about an invasion of Syria.

The dilemma is that Washington does not want the Pentagon to directly invade Syria itself. It wants to pull the strings while another force does the work on the ground. Candidates for an outsourced invasion of Syria include the Turkish military or other US regional allies. There, however is also an impasse here as Washington’s allies are also afraid of the consequences of an invasion of Syria.

This is where a third opinion comes into the picture: the construction of a multinational insurgent army by the US.

Using non-state actors to invade and occupy Syria

While there seems to be no consensus on a Syrian strategy within the US political, intelligence, and military establishments, the objective of regime change is universally adhered to across the board. Regardless of the existence of a consensus, the US is moving ahead with the creation of an anti-government invasion force.

The third option is slowly emerging.

A few days after the US began the bombing of Syria, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey made it clear that the Pentagon also planned on creating a viable anti-government army in Syria consisting of 12,000 to 15,000 insurgents.

There also seems to be a growing consensus among the realist and neocons for US President Obama’s preference of using a rebel army to invade Syria. The Brookings Institute has been a major cheerleader for this.

During this same timeframe, the Brookings Institute released an opinion piece clearly calling for US intervention. The text, authored, by former CIA analyst for monitoring the Persian Gulf and US National Security Council official Kenneth Pollack, stipulated that Washington’s “strategy cannot require sending U.S. troops into combat. Funds, advisers, and even air power are all fair game — but only insofar as they do not lead to American boots on the ground.”

Pollack played an influential role in getting support for the illegal 2003 invasion of Iraq. He worked at the Council of Foreign Relations as its director of national security studies. He made the above statement as the director of research for the Saban Center for Middle East Policy and goes well beyond it by publishing a drawn-out October 2014 proposal for creating a US-made rebel invasion force as a means of taking over Syria and eventually conducting regime change in Damascus.

The Brookings Institute proposal suggests that a rebel Syrian army “is best not done in Syria itself. At least not at first” (p.9). The report points to the US and NATO success in “covertly” creating armed forces around the world, including the assembly of a Croat military, and deduces that these experiences would make it “entirely realistic for the United States to build a new Syrian opposition army” (p.8). It also says that the ideology of the fighters does not matter by stating the following: “A great many of those recruited may well be religious, even highly religious, including Salafist. That is not the issue” (p.9).

Welcome to the Brookings Institute and its Saban Center

What is the Brookings Institute exactly and why do suggestions from this think tank and others like it, matter?

The Brookings Institute is an influential think tank that has a revolving door of personnel with the US government and major corporations. All that one needs to do is look at its trustees and executives, which include interlocked directorships with the Carlyle Group, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan Chase.

Brookings also has ties to Israel and a full branch dedicated to Washington’s Middle East strategies and policies called the Saban Centre for Middle East Policy. Martin Indyk – the former US ambassador to Israel, a former high-level lobbyist for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and the founder of AIPAC’s research arm (the Washington Institute for Near East Policy) – is the Director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings. Like Indyk, Kenneth Pollack was involved in shaping the Middle East policies of the Clinton Administration.

It is also worth noting that the Brookings Institute’s Saban Center is named after US-Israeli businessman and media mogul Haim Saban. Saban himself is on the board of trustees for Brookings.

There is a Qatari connection too. One may remember that Washington was hostile towards Al Jazeera when it first emerged as a news broadcaster, because of its coverage of US actions in the Middle East.

Saban tried to buy half of the Al Jazeera network from Qatar in 2004 and 2009, but failed. In the same timeframe as the 2003 Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, the first set of negotiations happened when he went to Qatar with Bill Clinton in 2003.

It is possible that Brookings may have played a role in pacifying Al Jazeera. In 2009, the Institute setup an overseas branch in Qatar called the Brookings Doha Center. The new chapter in Doha included Qatar’s ruling Al-Thani family alongside people like Madeleine Albright, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Fareed Zakaria as chairs and advisors.

It was in the same year that the Brookings Institute published a report, which included Pollack and Indyk as authors, called Which Path to Persia? The report outlined a map for confronting Iran and alluded to the neutralization of Syria, in one way or another (including the procurement of a peace agreement with Damascus by Israel), to “mitigate blowback” from Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the Palestinians, specifically Hamas, as a prerequisite for an enabling an attack on Iran.

All in all, the ideas that come out of the Brookings Institute are discussed at the highest levels within policymaking and corporate circles.

Is the Syrian Invasion Force Slowly Emerging?

Is a rebel invasion force emerging to attack Syria? In no uncertain terms, Brookings argues that it is.

Pollack’s report stipulates the following: “Adopting such a strategy would mean first and foremost that Washington would have to commit itself to building a new Syrian army that will rule Syria when the war is over. Although [Obama’s] description of his new Syria policy was more modest and tepid than his explanation of the Iraq piece of the strategy, he does appear to have committed the United States to just that course. More than that, it will mean putting the resources, prestige and credibility of the United States behind this effort. The $500 million now appropriated is a good start, but it is only a down payment on a much larger project” (p.8).

The US goal of training rebels in Saudi Arabia and Turkey is an indication of this too. On September 10, about two weeks before it started bombing Syria, Washington declared that Saudi Arabia had given it the green light to train a rebel army in the Arabian Peninsula. “We now have the commitment from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to be a full partner in this effort — the train-and-equip program — to host that program,” one official was quoted as saying by the New York Times.

The Brookings Institute in its proposal for an invasion of Syria: “The Saudi offer to provide facilities to train 10,000 Syrian opposition fighters is one of reasonable possibility, although one of Syria’s neighbors would probably be preferable. Jordan already serves as a training ground for America’s current training program and it would be an ideal locale to build a real Syrian army. However, Turkey could also conceivably serve that purpose if the Turks were willing” (p.10).

About two months later, in November, after US Vice President Joe Biden met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul, it was announced that Kirsehir would be used by Turkey to train Syrian anti-government forces that the US would equip against Damascus.

The report also makes it clear that building the new opposition army “should not mean bolstering the existing ‘Free Syrian Army’” (p.10). Instead, the existing US-backed insurgent groups will slowly be swallowed or destroyed by the new opposition force that the US and its allies are constructing.

In mid-November, the Pentagon also presented a proposal to the US Congress, saying that it wants to arm Iraqi tribesmen with Kalashnikov rifles, rocked propelled grenades, and mortars. What is omitted is the cross-border dispersion of these tribes in both Iraq and Syria and the possibility that these weapons could be used in an attack on the Syrian government.

What moderates?

The talk about supporting “moderates” is very misleading. It is already clear that the ideology of the proposed insurgent army is not a key issue in practice for many US officials. There is also enough evidence to show that the Free Syrian Army, Al-Nusra, the ISIL, and the other insurgent forces are also collaborating and trading fighters.

The Telegraph, for example, had this to say on November 10 about Saddam Jamal, a US-backed Free Syrian Army commander that became an ISIL commander: “Before joining ISIL, Jamal had been a drug dealer, then a commander in the western-backed Free Syrian Army, claiming contacts in the CIA.

It is also clear that religion is a mask for the ISIL too. The same British article writes the following testimony from Saddam Jamal’s body guard about his massacre of a Syrian family: “The ISIL commander felt no remorse for killing this Syrian family, his bodyguard said, nor did he believe he was fulfilling a God-given creed: for him being a member of the extremist group was a matter of business, not religion.

In the end the ISIL may be used to incubate fighters or collapse, like the Free Syrian Army, into the proposed invasion force to occupy Syria.

Invasion army or armies?

General Dempsey said that “the anti-ISIL campaign could take several years to accomplish.” Leon Panetta, the former head of the CIA and Pentagon, has also claimed that this war will turn into a thirty-year US military project that will extend to North Africa, West Africa, and the Horn of Africa.

According to Brookings: “At some point, such a new Syrian army would have to move into Syria, but only when it was ready. Only when a force large enough to conquer and hold territory – something on the order of two to three brigades -were ready should it be sent in” (p.11).

A war of attrition that that will take years of fighting is underway. This matches up with the ideas about training an insurgent invasion force over the years.

In their joint statement Senators McCain and Graham said that President Bashar Assad will not stop fighting the so-called “moderate” US-backed insurgents “that remain committed to his ousting- especially when the United States and [its] partners still, correctly, share the same goal and will now be arming and training Assad’s moderate opponents.” In other words, the US-trained Syrian forces will ultimately target the Syrian government.

 

[Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is a sociologist, award-winning author and geopolitical analyst.]

Greenwashing Wall Street: CERES, Tides and 350

A Culture of Imbeciles

February 7, 2015

Wall_Street

 

Excerpts from the McKibben’s Divestment Tour: Brought to You by Wall Street series by Cory Morningstar:

 

+++ Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES) is a partner of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). CERES funders are associated with Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America.

+++ WBCSD is part of a Wall Street strategy to dislodge the United Nations Center on Transnational Corporations, and prevent enforceable rules governing the operations of multinational corporations.

+++ One third of the CERES network companies are in the Fortune 500. Since 2001, CERES has received millions from Wall Street corporations and foundations.

+++ CERES president Mindy Lubber promotes “sustainable capitalism” at Forbes. Bill McKibben (founder of 350) was an esteemed guest of CERES conferences in 2007 and 2013.

+++ 1Sky, which merged with 350 in 2011, was created by the Clinton Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Betsy Taylor of 1Sky/350 is on the CERES board of directors.

+++ In 2012, Bill McKibben and Peter Buffett (oil train tycoon Warren Buffet’s son) headlined the Strategies for a New Economy conference. Between 2003 and 2011, NoVo (Buffet’s foundation) donated $26 million to Tides Foundation, which in turn funds CERES and 350.

+++ Suzanne Nossel, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State under Hillary Clinton, is on the Tides board of directors.

 

 

McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part III of an Investigative Report] [McKibben: Red, White, Blue & Gold(man Sachs)]

The Art of Annihilation

March 11, 2014

Part three of an investigative series by Cory Morningstar

Divestment Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VIIPart VIIIPart IXPart XPart XIPart XIIPart XIII

 

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

 

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

It is somewhat ironic that anti-REDD climate activists, faux green organizations (in contrast to legitimate grassroots organizations that do exist, although few and far between) and self-proclaimed environmentalists, who consider themselves progressive will speak out against the commodification of nature’s natural resources while simultaneously promoting the toothless divestment campaign promoted by the useless mainstream groups allegedly on the left. It’s ironic because the divestment campaign will result (succeed) in a colossal injection of money shifting over to the very portfolios heavily invested in, thus dependent upon, the intense commodification and privatization of Earth’s last remaining forests, (via REDD, environmental “markets” and the like). This tour de force will be executed with cunning precision under the guise of environmental stewardship and “internalizing negative externalities through appropriate pricing.” Thus, ironically (if in appearances only), the greatest surge in the ultimate corporate capture of Earth’s final remaining resources is being led, and will be accomplished, by the very environmentalists and environmental groups that claim to oppose such corporate domination and capture.

Beyond shelling out billions of tax-exempt dollars (i.e., investments) to those institutions most accommodating in the non-profit industrial complex (otherwise known as foundations), the corporations need not lift a finger to sell this pseudo green agenda to the people in the environmental movement; the feat is being carried out by a tag team comprised of the legitimate and the faux environmentalists. As the public is wholly ignorant and gullible, it almost has no comprehension of the following:

  1. the magnitude of our ecological crisis
  2. the root causes of the planetary crisis, or
  3. the non-profit industrial complex as an instrument of hegemony.

The commodification of the commons will represent the greatest, and most cunning, coup d’état in the history of corporate dominance – an extraordinary fait accompli of unparalleled scale, with unimaginable repercussions for humanity and all life.

Further, it matters little whether or not the money is moved from direct investments in fossil fuel corporations to so-called “socially responsible investments.” The fact of the matter is that all corporations on the planet (and therefore by extension, all investments on the planet) are dependent upon and will continue to require massive amounts of fossil fuels to continue to grow and expand ad infinitum – as required by the industrialized capitalist economic system.

The windmills and solar panels serve as beautiful (marketing) imagery as a panacea for our energy issues, yet they are illusory – the fake veneer for the commodification of the commons, which is the fundamental objective of Wall Street, the very advisers of the divestment campaign.

Thus we find ourselves unwilling to acknowledge the necessity to dismantle the industrialized capitalist economic system, choosing instead to embrace an illusion designed by corporate power.

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

+++

Poisonous Apples and Agent Oranges

In the explicit plan by the fund portfolio managers to consult with universities to continue investing in the market albeit in “divested” portfolios [Document: Do the Investment Math: Building a Carbon-Free Portfolio], Patrick Geddes, Chief Investment Officer of the Aperio Group, compares apples and oranges, presenting two separate arguments, masquerading as one: 1) Is it worth investing in “environmentally sound” funds from a financial standpoint? and 2) Are “environmentally sound” funds environmentally sound?

In the document, the first question trumps the second. In fact, the paper, in its entirety, is framed in these terms. The fact that there is no such thing as an “environmentally sound fund” is moot. Rather, it’s all about whether a fund makes profit.

The webinar “Do the Investment Math—Building a Carbon-Free Portfolio” explores in detail the risk impact of divesting from a range of carbon-intensive companies, from the Filthy 15 to the Carbon Tracker 200. The panel, moderated by Andrew Behar, CEO of As You Sow, features Geddes (who explores the risk impact of divesting from carbon), and Dan Apfel, Executive Director of the Responsible Endowments Coalition, who highlights the trend of students calling for divestment and college interest in responsible and sustainable investing.

Activist Robert Jereski wrote to Apfel of the Responsible Endowments Coalition and asked what the “clean tech” that Apfel speaks of actually is, in precise terms. Apfel’s response is as follows: “We interpret clean tech broadly so that investors can find solutions, but also work hard with students so that we can make sure schools avoid things that we consider to be false solutions – fracking, clean coal, as well as trying to figure out what is a good way to do other investment in clean tech. We’re also trying to bridge the gap to more local investments that are not always seen as investable.” The interpretation is so broad that they are apparently unable to actually define it.

In both the webinar and the Q&A period, the word “equity” arises over and over again. Yet in this divestment campaign, brought forward by the oligarchs’ appointed “leader” on climate change, the meaning of equity is that of finance, accounting and ownership. The word equity, as in fairness, does not exist in this patriarchal paradigm: white privilege harnessing climate wealth, as the solution to our global accelerating ecological crisis.

8738207633_7e3d000913_z

May, 2013: “CalSTRS CEO Jack Ehnes, Generation Investment Management Co-Founder David Blood and 350.org’s Bill McKibben have a lively conversation about how investors can influence the transition to a low-carbon economy.” Ehnes also serves on the Ceres board of directors.

McKibben: Red, White, Blue and Gold(man Sachs)

Saturday Keynote Address by Bill McKibben at the Guiding Lights Weekend 2011.

“What can our ‘socially responsible’ investment managers say when they invest in the stocks of banks, like Citibank and JP Morgan-Chase, and government contractors, like IBM and AT&T, who are running critical parts of government as these manipulations occur – including the disappearance of $4 trillion from government bank accounts and the manipulation of the gold markets and inventory in a silent financial coup d’etat?” — Catherine Austin, March 14, 2006

McKibben opens his 2013 Ceres presentation (McKibben was also a Ceres guest speaker in 2007) with some welcome honesty, speaking of his long-standing friendships/relationships with many Wall Street darlings. Prior to co-founding Generation Investment Management, David Blood served as the co-CEO and CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management. Prior to this position, Blood served in various positions at Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., including “Head of European Asset Management, Head of International Operations, Technology and Finance, Treasurer of the Goldman Sachs Group, L.P. and Head of Global Private Capital Markets. Mr. Blood was the first recipient of the John L. Weinberg Award in 1990, an award given to a professional in the investment banking division who best typifies Goldman Sachs’ core values.” [Source]

In the same 2013 Ceres presentation, McKibben furthers his irresponsible and negligent lie, basing it on the illusion of staying below a deadly +2ºC within an economic system dependent upon growth and the further allowance of burning fossil fuels. In reality, we’re committed to far past 2ºC today, not including feedbacks, [+2.4ºC, Ramanathan and Feng 2008 paper] and looking at a +6ºC future void of most all life.

“[But] we should accept the fact that we have actually written off some of the southern hemisphere communities as a consequence of sticking to 2 degrees centigrade.” — Kevin Anderson

McKibben Promotes 2C

 “No scientist believes the 2 degree limit is safe, just corporate NGOs.” —Chris Shaw, writer/researcher | Note that the red square highlighting “2 degree Celsius” and the arrow appear in the original image/presentation.

McKibben proceeds to cite his long-time friend/associate, Bob Massie [1], an integral supporter/promoter of the 350.org divestment campaign.

Global Reporting Initiative

gri_logo_2006_bcereslogo1

In 1994, Bob Massie won the statewide primary election and became the Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts. He served as Executive Director of Ceres from 1996 to 2003, and was on the Ceres Board of Directors from 2001-2009. [Note that in 2003, the organization dropped the CERES acronym and rebranded itself as “Ceres”.] During his tenure as executive director of Ceres, Massie increased the Ceres organization’s size and revenue ten-fold. Massie also “proposed and led the creation of the Investor Network on Climate Risk and the Institutional Investor Summit on Climate Risk, a major gathering of public and private sector financial leaders held every two years at UN Headquarters in New York City. In 1998, in partnership with the United Nations and major U.S. foundations, he co-founded the Global Reporting Initiative with Dr. Allen White of the Tellus Institute, and served as its Chair until 2002.” [Source] [Dr. Allen White is also founder of Global Initiative for Sustainability Ratings (GISR) – a joint project of Ceres and Tellus Institute.]

“‘Working increasingly with the business sector as a partner, we in the UNDP welcome the Global Reporting Initiative as a critical effort to strengthen the practice of monitoring and measuring corporate sustainability.’  —United Nations Development Programme” (in Ceres 2001 Annual Report)

The Global Reporting Initiative website outlines the timeline and key events as follows:

GRI’s inclusive, multi-stakeholder approach was established early, when it was still a department of CERES. In 1998 a multi-stakeholder Steering Committee was established to develop GRI’s guidance. A pivotal mandate of the Steering Committee was to “do more than the environment.” On this advice, the framework’s scope was broadened to include social, economic, and governance issues. GRI’s guidance became a Sustainability Reporting Framework, with Reporting Guidelines at its heart.

 

The first version of the Guidelines was launched in 2000. The following year, on the advice of the Steering Committee, CERES separated GRI as an independent institution.

 

The second generation of Guidelines, known as G2, was unveiled in 2002 at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. GRI was referenced in the World Summit’s Plan of Implementation. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) embraced GRI and invited UN member states to host it. The Netherlands was chosen as host country.

 

In 2002 GRI was formally inaugurated as a UNEP collaborating organization in the presence of then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and relocated to Amsterdam as an independent non-profit organization. Ernst Ligteringen was appointed Chief Executive and a member of the Board.

It is of interest to note that the GRI Secretariat is headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands while “Ceres continues to serve as the U.S. advocate for corporate and investor use of the GRI, and Bob Massie from Ceres serves on the GRI board of directors.” [Ceres 2003 Annual Report] The GRI’s Board of Directors [2] met for the first time on April 3, 2002. The directors included, but were not limited to, representatives from Deutsche Bank Group, Royal Dutch/Shell, Bob Massie for Ceres, and American Federation of Labor–Congress of Industrial Organizations.

GRI is financed by its global network; corporate and governmental sponsorships, Organizational Stakeholders, revenue from GRI products and services and its core support and grants from governments, foundations and international organizations including the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Germany’s state-owned Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Australian government. Previous institutional supporters include the European Commission, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, UN Foundation, World Bank, International Finance Cooperation (IFC), John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Ford Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Foundation, United States Environment Protection Agency, V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation, the Soros Foundation, and governmental bodies from the United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, Germany, and Australia.

“With South Africa liberated, Massie went on to other things. Lots of other things. He became an ordained Episcopal minister; he was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in his native Massachusetts (in a bad year, up against the Gingrich contract-with-America GOP groundswell). And he took up the global warming fight, bringing his expertise to bear as president of Ceres, a national coalition of environmental and investor groups. He went on to found the Global Reporting Initiative, one of the first attempts to hold businesses accountable for their carbon emissions.” — Bill McKibben, Nov 2012

In the above quote, McKibben states “With South Africa liberated, Massie went on to other things.” McKibben either failed to recognize that the transition was from racist apartheid to economic apartheid or, perhaps, simply viewed/views the transition to the hegemonic nature of neoliberalism as a “success.” [Video source: John Pilger, Apartheid Did Not Die. An analysis of South Africa’s new, democratic regime.] It is also imperative to acknowledge that the “attempt” by Massie (as cited by McKibben above) and others within the non-profit industrial complex with their “first attempts to hold businesses accountable for their carbon emissions” has proven to be an epic fail of unparalleled proportions. Despite relentless rhetoric and marketing of such schemes/collaborations/partnerships as success stories, emissions since the launch of the Ceres (1987) and GRI (2000) guidelines have skyrocketed, having increased over 40%; atmospheric CO2 has been pushed to its highest in 15 million years, at an unprecedented rate; ocean acidification has increased 30% with the oceans being acidified faster than at any time in the past 800,000 years and soon, faster than in the past 300 million years. All the marketing and hype will not make this fact any less so. “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” Failure is success. George Orwell lives on.

In 2002, Massie was named one of the 100 most influential people in the field of finance by CFO Magazine. In 2008, Massie was awarded the Damyanova Prize for Corporate Social Responsibility by the Institute for Global Leadership at Tufts University, and in 2009 he received the Joan Bavaria [founder of Ceres] Innovation and Impact Awards for Building Sustainability in Capital Markets.

In January 2011, Massie declared his candidacy for the United States Senate and began actively campaigning for the Democratic nomination for that office. McKibben actively supported Massie’s campaign utilizing his brand 350.org. [Fundraiser with Bill McKibben, Founder of 350.org: “Mark your calendars: Thursday, June 2nd, Bill McKibben, a founder of the grassroots organization 350.org, is coming to Massachusetts to speak at a fundraiser for Bob’s campaign for US Senate.”]

In March 2012, Massie became the president of the New Economics Institute.

“Ceres and GRI pursue an innovative approach to corporate responsibility which relies on transparency and reputational incentives as opposed to traditional bureaucratic regulation alone. Initially considered impractical, this approach has proven far more effective and efficient at improving social, environmental and human rights performance than traditional regulatory methods alone. More than two thousand major corporations and institutional investor groups now voluntarily participate in Ceres and GRI corporate disclosure standards.” [Emphasis added] [3]

If the voluntary approach as described above has “proven far more effective and efficient at improving social, environmental and human rights performance than traditional regulatory methods alone,” it is hard to imagine what a failure would look like as we edge ever closer towards the final curtain call on what many scientists refer to as Earth’s sixth extinction or the Holocene Extinction .[4] If Coca-Cola and other like-minded corporate psychopaths receive accolades under the Ceres banner of “[H]uman rights performance” (which they do) as they continue to assassinate union leaders in Latin America, what does Ceres consider to be human rights violations? Ceres, although clearly audacious, also understands the psychology of one pining for and readily accepting what one wishes to hear – regardless of whether the facts state otherwise. Like kittens lapping up a bowl of fresh milk, psychopaths have a tendency to lap up such luxurious lies.

Seduction by Omission

In the divestment lecture by McKibben and Massie titled Divestment and the New Economy, it is relatively easy to understand why activists, well-intentioned students and citizens are easily seduced. Language is everything and both McKibben and Massie are extraordinarily experienced, perhaps even gifted, at using palatable and acceptable terminology. Key words that are recognized by many as false solutions (i.e., “green economy”) are omitted, with terms such as “sustainable enterprises” and “fossil-free portfolios” used and exercised in their place. Yet, what is far more stealthy is the language that is purposely omitted: critical discussion as to how colonialism, imperialism, racism and patriarchy are propelled forward and normalized in our commodity culture, via non-fossil fuel investments. Under the economic system of industrialized capitalism, infinite growth of any investment dependent upon Earth’s natural resources is not, and cannot be made to be, sustainable. This is the elephant in the room that no one dares speak of.

Socially Responsible Investing Options: McDonald’s, ConocoPhillips and Nike

“To assess the ‘personality’ of the corporate ‘person,’ a checklist is employed, using diagnostic criteria of the World Health Organization and the standard diagnostic tool of psychiatrists and psychologists. The operational principles of the corporation give it a highly anti-social ‘personality’: it is self-interested, inherently amoral, callous and deceitful; it breaches social and legal standards to get its way; it does not suffer from guilt, yet it can mimic the human qualities of empathy, caring and altruism. Four case studies, drawn from a universe of corporate activity, clearly demonstrate harm to workers, human health, animals and the biosphere. Concluding this point-by-point analysis, a disturbing diagnosis is delivered: the institutional embodiment of laissez-faire capitalism fully meets the diagnostic criteria of a ‘psychopath.'” —The Corporation, The Pathology of Commerce, Case Histories Divest for our Future, 350.org’s divestment website, recommends “environmentally and socially responsible funds.” [5]

Social responsible investing (SRI) is to serve one purpose: the human purpose. SRI serves/benefits only those with the monetary means to invest – meaning those of privilege. In 2009 Forbes provided a list of the top ten “Socially Responsible Buys.” Number 4 was Energen – a diversified energy company involved in natural gas distribution and oil and gas exploration and production. Number 10 was Apache, which develops and produces natural gas, crude oil and natural gas liquids. In 2013 things don’t look much different when we view the top 25 ranked socially responsible dividend stocks. Number 20 is Consolidated Edison (natural gas). On Feb 4, 2013 Forbes reported Northeast Utilities a top socially responsible dividend stock. Note that on Feb 20, 2014, it was reported that “Northeast Utilities (NU) Opposes Solar to Protect Profits” [Source]. Most SRI funds are heavily invested in one type of fossil fuel or another. Examples are Parnassus Equity Income Fund (approx. 14% of assets are held in oil, natural gas and electric utilities), TIAA-CREF Social Choice Equity Fund (owns shares in dozens of oil and gas corporations including Hess, Marathon and Sunoco, and shale gas corporations, Devon Energy (named the “producer of the year” by Oilsands Magazine) and Range Resources), Calvert Equity Portfolio (approx. 10% of its portfolio comprised of fossil fuels with Suncor one of its largest holdings, which says on its website that it was “the first company to develop the oil sands, creating an industry that is now a key contributor to Canada’s prosperity”) and the Domini Social Equity Fund (among its top 10 holdings is Apache Corp). [Source]

Green Money Journal cited the following as one of five “top socially responsible investing news stories of 2004” as reported by SocialFunds.com:

“While shareowners have for years withdrawn resolutions when companies comply with their terms, 2004 saw an increasing number of such instances. Energy companies Cinergy (CIN), American Electric Power (AEP), TXU (TXU), and Southern Company (SO) agreed to prepare reports on the risks posed by climate change and company plans to mitigate such risks, and Reliant (REI) agreed to increase climate risk disclosure.”

In light of this top news story of 2004 applauding Southern Company’s corporate responsibility, one might wonder, eight years later, how this lauded corporation has since evolved.

It has evolved the way one would expect any psychopath to evolve:

“To insulate themselves against charges of environmental racism for poisoning poor blacks in Burke County, Southern Companies doesn’t just make wild claims about how many [new] Homer Simpson jobs … its nuclear plants will produce. Southern Companies purchased its very own civil rights organization, the Atlanta-based Southern Christian Leadership Council, originally founded by Dr. Martin Luther King himself. A Southern Companies CEO headed up SCLC’s building fund and raised over $3 million to pay for its new office buildings on Atlanta’s Auburn Avenue.” June 27, 2012, Black On The Old Plantation

Giving Up Nothing

KillerCoke

“Walden Equity (WSEFX) illustrates the variety among SRI funds. Its holdings include McDonald’s, energy giant ConocoPhillips and Nike, which has had its own labor problems…. Walden, which charges 1.0% per year, has beaten the S&P 500 by 2.8 points a year over the past five years…. So, giving up practically nothing, you can get a warm feeling that your money is serving a useful purpose – even if the fund manager or index composer is deciding what that purpose should be. Not a bad deal.” — 5 Mutual Funds for Socially Responsible Investors, May, 2012

 

“Responsible But Still Profitable – Investors, however, don’t want to suffer losses on their investments, even if they are socially responsible ones. With that in mind, here are five stocks currently listed on the Dow Jones Sustainability United States Index that have produced positive returns over the past year…. limiting your investment selections to companies listed on an index such as this will likely not create an investment portfolio that perfectly matches all of your political and ethical concerns, but it will ensure that your investment capital goes into companies that are regarded as socially responsible on average compared to most companies.” — 4 Socially Responsible Stocks To Watch, Investopedia, June 26, 2012

Stocks

Image: Investopedia

Most all social fund portfolios claim that the funds will consider a company’s performance with respect to environmental responsibility, labor standards, and human rights. This claim must be acknowledged as nothing but marketing rhetoric given Coca-Cola – one of the top offenders on environment degradation, labor and human rights on the planet – is considered a “socially responsible” investment.

The idea that one can divest from Suncor and Exxon and re-invest it into top ranked socially responsible dividend stock such as Pepsi and McDonald’s, and that this is going to somehow develop a “sustainable” economy that will help tackle climate change, is more than a little hopeful. It’s delusional. Don’t like Pepsi? How about Apple? One need not worry about the modern day slaves in China jumping to their deaths from the sweatshop rooftops, just click over to SumOfUs where you can click a petition “to Apple telling them to make the iPhone 5 ethically.” [SLIDESHOW: 25 Top Ranked Socially Responsible Dividend Stocks, Nov. 22, 2013] All is good for the privileged hyper-consumer in the world of make-believe where “real change” is only a click away.

582-ipod-sweatshop-large1

Make no mistake, one can divest from Exxon and reinvest in Coca-Cola, but infinite growth – a requirement of the industrialized capitalist system – will not and cannot become tamed under a “good” investment or a “bad” one. Nor can the violence and oppression upon the world’s most vulnerable and Earth’s ecosystems, also inherently built into the system.

Under Michael Bluejay’s list of socially responsible stocks, the author writes:

“On the other hand, some say that no large company is completely clean — some are just “less bad” than others. For example, the largest plastics recycler in the world is also the largest producer of virgin plastic. And while producing bicycles is a laudable goal, critics allege that a major bicycle manufacturer uses sweatshop labor to produce its bikes….

 

“There are still yet other complications: Over the years the small eco/responsible companies I list on this site invariably seem to get bought out by a larger company, or themselves grow bigger and then attract multinational investors, or go out of business. As an example of the second case, natural foods maker Hain Foods merged with tea maker Celestial Seasonings a while back and then continued to swallow up dozens of small natural foods makers around the country, and is now a big enough player that their biggest investor is Wellington Management, whose primary investors include Exxon Mobil, Pfizer, Alcoa, Gillette, Pepsi, McDonald’s, and Wal-Mart! Who would have guessed?”

Does divesting from fossil fuels ensure one does not invest in nuclear? Not necessarily. From the Sustainable & Responsible Mutual Fund Chart, let’s randomly look at just one fund, in this instance, Calvert International Opportunities Fund Y. Under the heading Environment: Climate / Clean Technology we find:

“Restricted/Exclusionary Investment – No investment in companies that own or operate new nuclear power plans, but may invest in companies with existing nuclear power if they are demonstrating leadership in alternative energy.” [Emphasis added.]

Under the heading Social: Human Rights:

“Restricted/Exclusionary Investment: Avoids investing in companies that directly support governments that systematically deny human rights, including those under international and/or US sanction for human rights abuses.” [Emphasis added.]

The irony is grandiose: “Avoids investing in companies that directly support governments that systematically deny human rights.” If this were true, most every U.S. corporation would be “avoided” seeing that the U.S. government has the most appalling history of human rights abuses of all states in the entire world. Never has a single country inflicted so much pain and suffering in almost every corner of the globe.

The Right “Track” for Green Investors

On October 12, 2012 the Guardian featured an article titled How to invest ethically (“As National Ethical Investment Week begins, we look at the latest thinking on green finance and joining the ethical revolution”). Reflecting the fact that water will become exceedingly scarce as planetary tipping points continue to be crossed, perhaps it is of little surprise that the second choice for the opportunistic ethical investor is water. The article states: “Desalination will be a significant investment play for ethical investors, naming GE, Suez and Siemens as potential stock beneficiaries. And most green funds now have a portion of their portfolio dedicated to water stocks, while others, such as Pictet Water, invest only in water.” And what was the number one choice for the ethical investor? Incredibly, it is rail. Rail is highlighted as “[T]he right track for green investors.” The irony is rich – literally. Not only did those behind the creation of the Keystone Pipeline campaign distract the populace long enough for Obama’s financial advisor, Warren Buffett, to build a 21st century North American rail empire, hell, now one can even invest in his rail company BNSF under the guise of ethical investment. Move your money from tar sands investments over to the rail. This way you can watch the oil roll down the tracks, but without holding a direct investment in the oil itself. And the best part is you can feel like you’re saving the world. [From the article: “Shares in railroad companies have soared… In 2009, legendary investor Warren Buffett bought America’s second biggest rail operator, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, in a deal valuing the company at $44bn, while CSX, the third biggest operator, has seen its share price quadruple since 2004.”]

DeRailment @ Vandergrift, Pa.

February 13, 2014: A 120-car Norfolk Southern Corp train carrying heavy Canadian crude oil derailed and spilled in western Pennsylvania. On January 6, 2005  a Norfolk Southern train hauling chlorine through Graniteville, South Carolina, derailed. The result was toxic gas that poured into the town. Nine people lost their lives on the day of the accident. On June 10, 2010, a Norfolk Southern train derailed in Liberty, SC spilling toxic substances.

Both Norfolk Southern and CSX rail corporations are listed among the “Top 25 Socially Responsible Dividend Stocks” in a recent ranking by the Dividend Channel (August 21, 2013). Norfolk (“Giving Mother Nature a High Five”) has also been named in the “Top 100 Military Friendly Employers list” by G.I. Jobs magazine while CSX (“See how CSX is driven to protect the environment”) is the largest coal transporter east of the Mississippi River. CSX is also prepared for growth in the oil by rail market: “CSX’s recently announced capacity expansion will support crude oil growth to the Northeast. The $26 million investment in 2013 adds passing sidings along our River Line running south from Albany, NY to provide even more train capacity to serve the crude oil market. Overall, CSX is investing $2.3 billion into our network and strategic assets in 2013. Currently, CSX has the ability to handle more than 400,000 barrels of crude per day into the Philadelphia market alone. Additionally, our network is capable of handling the largest capacity tank cars (286,000 gross weight on rail), maximizing your barrels loaded per car. This gives you the ability to ship more crude per train and lowers the per barrel transportation costs.”

The SRI Mutual Fund Industry: A Free-for-all

“Colonization, imperialism, slavery, and virtually all wars are directly attributable to oligarchies trying to achieve the highest return on investment. It is called ‘sacred hunger’ in Barry Unsworth’s prize-winning novel of the same name on the slave trade. How the SRI industry came to believe that it could use avarice to reverse the suffering that greed causes has everything to do with marketing and nothing to do with philosophy.” — Paul Hawken, 2004

 

“Clearly no large company has changed its fundamental business practices due to SRI retail investing.” — Paul Hawken, 2004

In 2004 Paul Hawken wrote:

“Imagine an organic food trade association any company could join. Members set the standards to suit themselves. Thus, any store or company can label their products ‘organic’ if they choose because there are no rules defining what organics mean. If your company does anything to improve its production methods, no matter how inconsequential, it qualifies for membership and can use the word ‘organic’ on its labels.

 

The association gives an annual prize to an academic paper, showing that if you eliminate six of the twelve pesticides commonly used on lettuce, you still get as much lettuce as before. Consumers who want to know about the food they buy can’t find out how it is grown or how it is certified. Instead of an independent outside agency, association members hire private for-profit ‘screening’ companies to determine what’s organic. The screening companies compete, each has a different screening method, and none reveal how they define or determine organic. The screening standards allow 90% of all the food produced in the world to be labeled organic. Inside this organization a small group of core producers believe organic should mean ‘no use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.’ The big food companies are amused by this group’s romanticism and see them as ‘idealists.’

 

Sound ridiculous? Yes, but this trade association exists. It doesn’t sell food, it sells investments. It is the international socially responsible investing (SRI) mutual fund industry. Like the imaginary trade group, it has no stands, no definitions, and no regulations other than financial regulations. Anyone can join; anyone can call a fund an SRI fund. Over 90% of Fortune 500 companies are included in SRI mutual fund portfolios.”

Hawken’s summary:

1.     The cumulative investment portfolio of the combined SRI funds is virtually no different than the combined portfolio of conventional mutual funds.

2.     The screening methodologies and exceptions employed by most SRI funds allow practically any publicly-held corporation to be considered as an SRI portfolio company.

3.     Fund names and literature can be deceptive, not reflecting the actual investment strategy of the managers.

4.     SRI in advertising caters to people’s desires to improve the world by avoiding bad actors in the corporate world, but it can be misleading and oftentimes has little correlation to portfolio holdings.

5.     There is a lack of transparency and accountability in screening and portfolio selection.

6.     The ability for investors to do market-based comparisons of different funds is difficult if not impossible.

7.     There is a strong bias towards companies that aggressively pursue globalization of brands, products and regulations.

8.     The environmental screens used by the portfolio managers are loose and do little to help the environment.

9.     The language used to describe SRI mutual funds, including the term “SRI” itself, is vague and indiscriminate and leads to misperception and distortion of investor goals.

10.  Although shareholder activism is cited as a reason to invest in SRI mutual funds, few SRI mutual funds engage in shareholder advocacy or sponsor activist shareholder resolutions.

Perhaps the single most important and overlooked statement within Hawken’s report was as follows:

 “The single most important criterion for a company is whether its products or services should exist at all.”

The report is damning – especially in light of the fact Hawken is an avid supporter/promoter of “natural capitalism.” “In keeping with their longstanding commitment to green capitalism, in 1982 Hawkin’s coauthors Hunter and Amory Lovins founded the green think-tank and consultancy Rocky Mountain Institute, which has worked with all manner of large and small companies including Royal Dutch Shell and Walmart, and with governmental clients such as the Pentagon.” [Source]

Following this report, Hawken went on to found the Highwater Global Fund with Michael Baldwin. Highwater, with Portfolio 21, are considered to be two of the most ethical funds that exist. Yet both funds have holdings in Banco Bradesco – an investor in REDD. [“The FAS is an innovative institution, created by the state government of Amazonas and Bradesco Bank, also the maintainer. Among the other organizations that support it are Coca-Cola, Amazon Fund – BNDES, Marriott International, Samsung, and other operational partners.”] [WATCH: Indigenous Peoples Aggressively Targeted by Manipulative NGOs Advancing REDD Agenda]

“[REDD is] a policy that grabs land, clear-cuts forests, destroys biodiversity, abuses Mother Earth, pimps Father Sky and threatens the cultural survival of Indigenous Peoples. This policy privatizes the air we breathe. Commodifies the clouds. Buy and sells the atmosphere. Corrupts the Sacred… It is time to defend Mother Earth and Father Sky. Your future depends on it.” — Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director, Indigenous Environmental Network Oct 22. 2013

Portfolio 21 also has holdings in gas: “Portfolio 21 Investments will invest in companies involved in the transmission and distribution of natural gas as well as in utilities that utilize natural gas as a fuel source.” [Source]

The top ten equity holdings of Highwater are: Apple; Banco Bradesco; Cisco; EnerNOC; Ford Motors; Hyflux; Natura Cosmetics; Novozymes; SSL International; and Vivo Participacoes (Highwater Global Fund, 2010). Although addressing poverty appears to be a predominant area of interest in Hawken’s extensive CV, those with limited funds need not contact Highwater Global Fund anytime soon. The minimum investment bar creates yet another exclusive venue where only the monetarily rich have access to Highwater’s services, furthering class distinction and division.

It’s not that Highwater or Portfolio 21 are “evil,” rather, it is simply the nature of capitalism. The nature of the beast. Profit comes first.

“Some claim that the SRI label has become a little too elastic. In 2010, a report from ethical financial advisers Barchester Green said many UK funds cannot justify the labels applied to them. It was particularly critical of the Zurich Environmental Opportunities pension fund, whose top holdings – Shell, BP and miner Rio Tinto – resembled ‘an environmental investor’s blacklist.’ Conservative investors might approve of the Ave Maria Catholic Value fund’s screening out of supposed sin stocks, but not be keen that controversial oil company Halliburton is one of its biggest holdings.” — Ethical wrapper can contain some surprising names, October 22, 2013

From Exxon to BP

It is somewhat ironic that Ceres was launched in 1989 (presented to the public as The Valdez Principles), exploiting the Exxon Valdez spill to build its own brand recognition and value as the corporate watchdog. Jump forward to the April 20, 2010 BP oil spill, which is considered the largest, most catastrophic, accidental marine oil spill in history – surpassing the cataclysmic Exxon oil spill of 1989. How many people know that up until this disaster, BP was a top holding SRI fund. Also not to be forgotten as a top holding SRI investment before its demise in 2004 was none other than Enron – the poster child for corporate malfeasance.

“Regenerative Capitalism”

The December 27, 2012 article (Greenbiz), Why 350.org’s divestment campaign is on the money, is written by Michael Kramer of Natural Investments, another firm of mention in the 350.org divestment documents (Institutional Pathways to Fossil Free Investing).

Kramer (“Regenerative Capitalism“) makes the argument to move fossil fuel divestments to SRI funds. The article ends with Kramer announcing his firm has created a fossil-fuel-free portfolio for investors who can’t bear to invest in fossil fuels. “The time has come to put our money where our values are, and money managers and mutual funds that claim to be sustainable or socially responsible should look very closely at what these words truly mean and reflect upon whether they should use such terminology if they don’t measure up to such a standard.”

Upon further research it was found that the Natural Investments Fossil Fuel Free Portfolio is comprised of ten fixed income and equity funds and that the fund also supports a non-profit organization) (10%). When asked what actual investments comprised the fund, here was the response:

“Thanks for your inquiry. We have identified 10 such funds that meet our financial and broader environmental, social and governance criteria, but it’s certainly possible that there are other fossil fuel free funds that don’t apply such ESG criteria. But given our universe of about 200 sustainable and responsible funds, we’ve indeed found very few that qualify for inclusion. We certainly provide the names of all investments we use to our clients, but not otherwise (though all the responsible funds we consider are listed in the Heart Rating section of our website). As far as the nonprofits we donate to, 350.org is the recipient of a portion of the management fee for the fossil fuel free portfolio, and many other recipients for the rest of our 1%- of- revenues donations are listed here: http://naturalinvesting.com/charitable-contributions. Feel free to be in touch if we can be of further service. Thanks, Michael Kramer, Accredited Investment Fiduciary, Managing Partner, Natural Investments LLC

The transferring of investment funds from fossil fuel investments to SRI investments is not a solution to our unparalleled ecological crisis, with the planet already having crossed a multitude of planetary boundaries. Rather, it is a two-fold distraction with epic consequences. First, it distracts from the very root causes of our ecological/planetary crisis. Second, under this veil, the illusory “green economy,” – the commodification of the planet – is going forward, full throttle, with almost no opposition. This brilliant and diabolical marketing feat employing behaviour change strategies is being carried out by the organizations, firms and NGOs working with and promoting the divestment campaign, while on the surface, 350.org’s “hands” remain clean. SRI fund promoters are not activists. One must never lose sight of the simple fact that their primary duty as a fiduciary is maximum shareholder return.

The SRI industry is not interested in reversing the anguish resulting from colonialism, imperialism, racism, patriarchy, oppression and decimation of environment, as all of this ugliness is inherently built into the system (which then externalizes these costs). The task at hand is the continuance of individualism and greed, normalized into a commodity culture, where all those with monetary means can acquiesce in our collective path to self-destruction. Such a vogue fabrication of, in essence, a kinder, gentler, more compassionate capitalism, is achievable and even preferred in a corporatized society where lies are preferred over truth. Exquisite fabrication, wrapped in opaque vellum, bestowed with a shimmering green bow. It’s not high-gloss marketing over philosophy. High-gloss marketing is the philosophy.

The Mythology of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Such crafted veneer as the Ceres Principles can be categorized under the similar heading/guise of “Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR). In the article Corporate Social Responsibility as a Political Resource (February 22, 2010), author Michael Barker writes:

“In June 2003 Gretchen Crosby Sims completed a vitally important Ph.D. at Stanford University titled Rethinking the Political Power of American Business: The Role of Corporate Social Responsibility. Hardly counting herself as a political radical – Sims’s doctorate thesis was supervised by Morris Fiorina, who is presently a senior fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution – the findings of her unpublicized study provide a critical resource for progressive activists seeking to challenge the mythology of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). As the British non-profit organization Corporate Watch states, CSR ‘is not a step towards a more fundamental reform of the corporate structure but a distraction from it.’ Indeed, Corporate Watch advise that: ‘Exposing and rejecting CSR is a step towards addressing corporate power….’

 

As [Weinstein] demonstrated long ago, corporate elites adopted the principles of ‘cooperation and social responsibility’ to sustain capitalism’s inequalities, not to remedy them. To campaign for Corporate Social Responsibility in this present day is akin to demanding the institutionalization of elite social engineering. Capitalist corporations will never be socially responsible, this fact is plain to see; thus the sooner progressive activists identify their enemy as capitalism, not corporate greed or a lack of good-will, then the sooner they will be able to create an equitable world whose political and economic system is premised on social responsibility, not to corporate elites, but instead to all people.” [Emphasis added]

 

Next: Part IV

 

[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, Counterpunch, Political Context, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

 

EndNotes:

[1] Bob Massie is the President and CEO of the New Economics Institute. An ordained Episcopal minister, he received his B.A. from Princeton Unversity, M.A. from Yale Divinity School, and doctorate from Harvard Business School. From 1989 to 1996 he taught at Harvard Divinity School, where he served as the director of the Project on Business, Values, and the Economy. His 1998 book, Loosing the Bonds: The United States and South Africa in the Apartheid Years, won the Lionel Gelber prize for the best book on international relations in the world. He was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor of Massachusetts in 1994 and a candidate for the United States Senate in 2011. During his career he has created or led three ground-breaking sustainability organizations, serving as the president of Ceres (the largest coalition of investors and environmental groups in the United States), the co-founder and first chair of the Global Reporting Initiative, and the initiator of the Investor Network on Climate Risk, which currently has over 100 members with combined assets of over $10 trillion. [Source: New Economics Institute]

[2] ROGER ADAMS (United Kingdom) Executive Director-Technical, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, JACQUELINE ALOISI DE LARDEREL (France) Assistant Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme, Division of Technology, Industry, and Economics, FABIO FELDMANN (Brazil) former Secretary of Environment, São Paulo, TOSHIHIKO GOTO (Japan) Chair, Environmental Auditing Research Group, JUDY HENDERSON, CHAIR (Australia) immediate-past Chair, Australian Ethical Investment Ltd, former Commissioner, World Commission on Dams HANNS MICHAEL HÖLZ (Germany) Global Head of Sustainable Development and Public Relations, Deutsche Bank Group, JAMSHED J. IRANI (India) Director, Tata Sons Limited, ROBERT KINLOCH MASSIE (United States) Executive Director, CERES, MARK MOODY-STUART (United Kingdom) retired Chair, Royal Dutch/Shell, ANITA NORMARK (Sweden) General Secretary, International Federation of Building and Wood Workers, NYAMEKO BARNEY PITYANA (South Africa) Vice-Chancellor, University of South Africa, former Chair, South African Human Rights Commission BARBARA SHAILOR (United States) Director of International Affairs, American Federation of Labor–Congress of Industrial Organizations, BJORN STIGSON (Sweden) President, World Business Council for Sustainable Development PETER H.Y. WONG (China) Senior Partner, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Hong Kong; and Board Member, International Federation of Accountants.

[3] Source: Wikipedia

[4] “However these debates will unfold, the Anthropocene represents a new phase in the history of both humankind and of the Earth, when natural forces and human forces became intertwined, so that the fate of one determines the fate of the other. Geologically, this is a remarkable episode in the history of this planet.” [“Geologists from the University of Leicester are among four scientists – including a Nobel prize-winner – who suggest that Earth has entered a new age of geological time.”] Source: Science Daily, March 26, 2010

[5] Are SRI funds as clean and green as you think? by Marc Gunther, December 4, 2012

“Doctors” Behind Syrian Chemical Weapons Claims are Aiding Terrorists

msf

Land Destroyer

August 25, 2013

by Tony Cartalucci

The “evidence” upon which the West is propping up its narrative of the Syrian government using chemical weapons against large numbers of civilians hinges so far entirely on claims made by “Doctors Without Borders.” In the New York Times article, “Signs of Chemical Attack Detailed by Aid Group,” it is reported:

An international aid group said Saturday that medical centers it supported near the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack near Damascus received more than 3,000 patients showing symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic nerve agents on the morning of the reported attack.

Of those, 355 died, said the group, Doctors Without Borders.

The statement is the first issued by an international organization working in Syria about the attack on Wednesday in the suburbs northeast of Damascus, the capital.

While it is often described by the Western media as “independent,” nothing could be further from the truth.

To begin with, Doctors Without Borders is fully funded by the very same corporate financier interests behind Wall Street and London’s collective foreign policy, including regime change in Syria and neighboring Iran. Doctors Without Borders’ own annual report (2010 report can be accessed here), includes as financial donors, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Google, Microsoft, Bloomberg, Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital, and a myriad of other corporate-financier interests.

Tawakkul Karman: A Tool for Farcical Democratic Initiatives in the Middle East

By Samra Nasser

02.23.2012

The Arab American News

Who is Tawakkul Karman and more importantly, how and why has this religiously-dressed Yemeni woman come to be the darling of Western-oriented democracy movements?  To understand who is actually reaping the rewards of this activist, we should begin by following the money.  Mrs. Karman has a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Sana’a, Yemen called Women Journalists Without Chains (WJWC).  However, for those of you who may not know, an NGO is not always non-governmental because many NGOs invariably receive all or most of their funding through various departments within the government.

Tawakkul Karman

In Mrs. Karman’s case, her WJWC organization asserts it is a non-governmental organization in Yemen that seeks to advocate for rights and freedoms, especially freedom of expression with the aim of improving media efficiency and providing skills for journalists, and particularly women and youth.  Such work, however, should be considered in the correct context being that its funding sources are through U.S. foreign policy organizations. The organization has been funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) since 2008.

NED is a quasi-governmental foundation created by the Reagan Administration in 1983 to channel millions of Federal dollars into anti-Communist ‘private diplomacy.’ It is funded primarily through an annual allocation from the U.S. Congress within the budget of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), a subsidiary of the U.S. State Department.

NED has a vast influence over U.S. foreign policy initiatives, by way of its Board of Directors who simultaneously represent numerous powerful multinational corporations (MNCs) ranging from AT&T to Boeing to Fannie Mae. 

Agribusiness: The Corporations that Control Conservation [WWF, Conservation International, Nature Conservancy]

“So, who are the individuals guarding the mission of global conservation nonprofits? US-WWF boasts (literally) that its new vice-chair was the last CEO of Coca-Cola, Inc. (a member of Bonsucro) and that another board member is Charles O. Holliday Jr., the current chairman of the board of Bank of America, who was formerly CEO of DuPont (owner of Pioneer Hi-Bred International, a major player in the GMO industry). The current chair of the executive board at Conservation International, is Robert Walton, better known as chair of the board of WalMart (which now sells ‘sustainably sourced’ food and owns the supermarket chain ASDA). The boards of WWF and Conservation International do have more than a sprinkling of members with conservation-related careers. But they are heavily outnumbered by business representatives. On the board of Conservation International, for example, are GAP, Intel, Northrop Grumman, JP Morgan, Starbucks and UPS, among others.”

Way Beyond Greenwashing: Have Corporations Captured Big Conservation?

Beyond Greenwashing

by Jonathan Latham
Independent Science News

February 7, 2012

Imagine an international mega-deal. The global organic food industry agrees to support international agribusiness in clearing as much tropical rainforest as they want for farming. In return, agribusiness agrees to farm the now-deforested land using organic methods, and the organic industry encourages its supporters to buy the resulting timber and food under the newly devised “Rainforest Plus” label. There would surely be an international outcry.

Virtually unnoticed, however, even by their own membership, the world’s biggest wildlife conservation groups have agreed exactly to such a scenario, only in reverse. Led by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), many of the biggest conservation nonprofits including Conservation International and the Nature Conservancy have already agreed to a series of global bargains with international agribusiness. In exchange for vague promises of habitat protection, sustainability and social justice, these conservation groups are offering to greenwash industrial commodity agriculture.