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Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse – Part IV | Buffett Acquires the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

$26 Million Shades of Grey

 

September 10, 2014

 

Part four of an investigative report by Cory Morningstar

Keystone XL Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IV

Tar Sands Action & the Paralysis of a Movement – Investigative Report Series [Further Reading, September, 2011]: Part I Part II  [Obedience – A New Requirement for the “Revolution”] Part III [ Unravelling the Deception of a False Movement]

 

Ignoring the Fact that the Oligarchs Finance the “Movements” | TIDES

The United States of America is not a democracy, but an oligarchy – with the rich controlling government decisions and the average American having practically zero influence over public policies. Some call it a capitalist dictatorship, where “capital” does the dictating.

Here’s a good example of the oligarchy controlling the puppets. During the last four years, Americans have been coerced into focusing on a single, symbolic campaign to Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline. This campaign was funded in large part by the Tides Foundation, which distributes the funds (from other foundations) to qualifying NGOs and groups. The number one funder of the Tides Foundation leading up to and during this time period was none other than the NoVo Foundation, founded on monies provided by Warren Buffett. [“NoVo was created in 2006 after Warren Buffett pledged to donate 350,000 shares of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. stock to the foundation.”] It is maintained by Warren Buffett’s son, Peter Buffett (co-chair) and Peter’s partner, Jennifer Buffett (president and co-chair).

Ten-Top-Donors-to-Tides

Graph [1] [From part III | Beholden to Buffett]

“Anonymity is very important to most of the people we work with.” — Drummond Pike, Founder of Tides

Drummond Pike founded Tides Foundation in 1976 [2], the Tides Center in 1996 [3], the Advocacy Fund in 1994, Groundspring.org in 1999, Tides Inc. in 2003 [4], Tides Shared Spaces/Tides Two Rivers Foundation in 2004, and the Tides Network in 2006 [5].

By 2010, Tides’ combined cash flow regularly exceeded $200 million per year. Pike served as Chief Executive Officer of all Tides organizations until November 2010.[Source] Pike received an annual base compensation of $240,000 (2010), according to the 2010 Tides Foundation 990.

More recently Pike was named a Principal with Equilibrium Capital (a private equity impact investing firm based in Portland – the very kind promoted by 350.org’s divestment campaign. (“Distribution and Sales: We raise and scale institutional-quality capital.”) According to Tides, Pike is also volunteering time with Paladin Partners, LLC. Paladin Partners provides financial plans, consulting services, and investment services.

Pike currently serves on the Board of Directors of Working Assets, which he co-founded with Michael Kieschnick and Laura Scher. CREDO Mobile is a division of Working Assets. Prior to co-founding Credo Mobile (formerly known as Working Assets Wireless), Kieschnick worked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Kieschnick also served as an economic advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown of California (1980–1982), and helped create several “socially responsible” investment (SRI) funds [Wikipedia]. Again, these are the same SRI funds promoted by the 350.org divestment campaign.

Klein RAN 

Photo: REVEL 2011 Awardee Naomi Klein (350.org board member) with Michael Kieschnick. Michael Kieschnick is a co-founder (with Drummond Pike of Tides) and president of Credo Mobile. Image: Rainforest Action Network via Flickr. Rainforest Action Network’s ultra white and ultra elite annual benefit REVEL event. [6]

As illustrated by the intermingling of many of these behind the scenes capital investors, The Tides Foundation could best be described as a priceless, magical, money funneling machine of epic proportions for the oligarchs. It receives money from donors and then distributes these funds to the recipients of their choice. In this way, donors can strategically fund specific campaigns or specific organizations without ever disclosing their identities. These transactions are called “Anonymous Donor Advised Funds” or simply “Donor Advised Funds.” (Many such transactions are documented in the information that follows. The NoVo Foundation makes grants to Tides (to both Tides Foundation and the Tides Center).

The Tides Foundation focuses on fundraising and grant-making, while the Tides Center operates as a fiscal sponsor (“to promote and support emerging social change and educational programs”) enticing novice NGOs to the shelter of Tides’ own charitable tax-exempt status, and other desirable/coveted benefits.

The far-right website, Activist Cash, is perceptive in their following observation:

“Tides does two things better than any other foundation or charity in the U.S. today: it routinely obscures the sources of its tax-exempt millions, and makes it difficult (if not impossible) to discern how the funds are actually being used…. In practice, ‘Tides’ behaves less like a philanthropy than a money-laundering enterprise… taking money from other foundations and spending it as the donor requires. Called donor-advised giving, this pass-through funding vehicle provides public-relations insulation for the money’s original donors. By using Tides to funnel its capital, a large public charity can indirectly fund a project with which it would prefer not to be directly identified in public…. In many cases, even the eventual recipient of the funding has no idea how Tides got it in the first place.”

This fits the Buffett to NoVo to Tides to 350.org, et al. transactions – to a T.

As the following information will demonstrate, money (in the form of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway stock) was funnelled from Warren Buffett to the Buffett family’s NoVo Foundation to Tides and finally, to selected NGOs who led the Stop the Keystone XL campaign (which played a key role in Warren Buffett achieving his 21st century oil-transporting rail empire), thus demonstrating the need for covert funding of highly financed “movements” brilliantly.

Of course, these are not real movements but merely highly financed campaigns presented as “grassroots” movements. The sources of the funding (the wealthy elite, corporations, unions, other foundations, etc.) are “giving” the funds for specific reasons, campaigns and purposes – as the Buffett-NoVo-Tides transaction so brilliantly demonstrates. Thus, philanthropy should not be considered unbridled generosity, but rather strategic, long-term investment and tax evasion under the cloak of good will. Further, without an insider and/or documents, it’s almost impossible to follow the money, which is exactly why foundations are so imperative to the oligarchs that finance them to the tune of billions of dollars.

Ignoring the Fact that the Oligarchs Finance the “Movements” | Buffett’s NoVo Foundation

Tar Sands Illustration SM

Above: Illustration courtesy of Stephanie McMillan. Further reading: Offsetting Resistance

In 2010, the Keystone XL pipeline was pushed to the forefront by the non-profit industrial complex, in tandem with both mainstream and so-called progressive media, to become the main focus of the anti-tar sands campaign and indeed, the climate movement as a whole. While it deliberately and strategically captured the full attention of the populace, billionaire Warren Buffett, financial advisor to Barrack Obama, quietly built his 21st century rail dynasty with absolutely no dissent or interference. All eyes were on one single pipeline that was, for the most part, already built.

NorthAmericaPipelines

Image: Pipelines in North American Pipelines (all commodities) Source: The Globe & Mail, Feb 19, 2011

cbr-loadings---annual-2008---2013 

Image: Moving the Crude, March 10, 2014: “Three years ago, there was not that much crude oil moving by rail. Most tank cars were searching for ethanol as demand for the mandated fuel additive dropped. The Bakken oil fields were just starting to show promise, the development rush was just starting, and the Keystone XL was encountering its first real obstacles. Funny what can happen in three years. While pipelines still are the dominant method for moving both crude and petroleum products, rail is growing at an exponential rate.”

It should be of no surprise to anyone that the NoVo Foundation holds shares in Berkshire Hathaway Stock. According to the NoVo Foundation website, in 2006, Warren Buffett “promised to give roughly $1 billion of Class B Berkshire Hathaway stock to each of the foundations his children run as part of a plan to give the bulk of his fortune to charity.” Buffett’s comment would serve to be most prophetic:

“‘They’ve done everything I’ve hoped for and more with the original gifts.’ …Peter Buffett said it’s nice to hear his father praise the charitable work he has been doing and that this latest gift should enable NoVo Foundation to accomplish more. ‘It means we get to go deeper essentially.'”

According to Forbes, Buffett further pledged $3 billion of Berkshire Hathaway stock to his children’s foundations in September of 2012. On July 14, 2014, Buffett “donated 1,160,981 shares of Class B Common Stock to each of the Sherwood Foundation, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and the NoVo Foundation pursuant to his previously announced irrevocable pledges to these foundations.” [Source] “By donating at the market value of the shares, Mr. Buffett gets credit for the appreciation in the shares, but doesn’t have to pay income tax on his gain.” (Buffett is not alone in his understanding of how to sidestep income tax. “Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has done the same thing. Mr. Zuckerberg donated $500 million of his Facebook stock to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Zuckerberg made his donation in the form of 18 million shares, translating to a $500 million tax deduction.”) [Source]

Funding Buys Both Acquiescence and Silence

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

On July 6, 2013 rail tankers transporting Bakken crude oil derailed, annihilating the entire downtown district of Lac Mégantic, Quebec.

Up to this time, the leading NGOs that led the Keystone XL campaign only uttered the word “rail” publicly, when unable to manoeuvre the growing dialogue on the issue of expanding rail. This would be Canada’s worst rail disaster since 1864, killing 47 citizens, including children, 5 having been completely vapourized.

The Lac Mégantic tragedy was so horrific that it could not be ignored. If ever there was a time to campaign on the dangers of crude oil transported via rail, this was it. If ever there was a time to focus on the necessity to end tar sands extraction, at the source of production (which translates to a massive decline in energy consumption and economic growth), rather than a single pipeline, this was it.

Although 350.org would have you believe they are campaigning against tar sands, it speaks volumes that these groups made no mention whatsoever of the apocalyptic remnants of Lac Mégantic to their “followers” / supporters.

Aside from an honourable mention to 350Maine, the only reference to the most dreadful accident directly resulting from oil via rail (as of July 22, 2013), is a press release (simply titled “Over fifty groups call for tougher oil transportation safety rules”) quietly sent to media on July 22, 2013. [Source]

NoVo Grants to Tides

The NoVo webstate states: “Jennifer and Peter have been active philanthropists since 1997. NoVo was created in 2006 after Warren Buffett pledged to donate 350,000 shares of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. stock to the foundation.” Yet 990 forms demonstrate that the NoVo foundation actually filed a tax return in the year 2000 under the name The Spirit Foundation.

NoVo 990, 2012: Warren Buffett contributed $53,089,976.00 to NoVo | NoVo’s contribution to Tides: $795,000.00 (TC); $3,269,685.00 (TF) ($181,040.00 – Anonymous Donor Advised Funds) (TF) (Indigenous Peoples Fund $1,735,000.00) (TF); $350,000.00 (TC); $477,557.00 (TF) ($174,087.00 – Anonymous Donor Advised Funds) (TF) (Grants and contributions paid during the year or approved for future payment.)

NoVoStock2012

NoVo 990, 2011: Warren Buffett contributed $51,808,325.00 to NoVo. | NoVo’s contribution to Tides: $275,000.00 (TC); $75,000.00 (TC); $254,000.00 (TC); $350,000.00 (TC); $180,000.00 (Anonymous Donor Advised Fund) (TF); $500,000.00 (TF); $535,000.00 (Indigenous People’s Fund) (TF); $250,000.00 (TF); $395,000.00 (TF); $100,000.00 (TF); $250,000.00 (TF); $25,000.00 (TF) Approved for future payment: $275,000.00 (TC); $75,000.00 (TC); $700,000.00 (TC); $250,000.00 (TF) (Grants and contributions paid during the year or approved for future payment.)

NoVoStocks2011

NoVo 990, 2010: Warren Buffett contributed $56,167,099.00 to NoVo. NoVo’s contribution to Tides: $293,000.00 (TC); $49,284.00 (TC); $535,000.00 (Indigenous People’s Fund) (TF); $1,425,000.00 (Anonymous Donor Advised Fund) (TF); $25,000.00 (Anonymous Donor Advised Fund) (TF) (Grants and contributions paid during the year or approved for future payment.)

NoVoStocks2010

NoVo 990, 2009: Warren Buffett contributed $43,874,620.00 to NoVo. | NoVo’s contribution to Tides: $275,000.00 (TC); $25,000.00 (TC); $1,000,000.00 (TC); 606,000.00 (Anonymous Donor Advised Fund) (TF); $2,000,000.00 (Indigenous People’s Fund) (TF); $250,000.00 (Anonymous Donor Advised Fund) (TF); $40,000.00 (Indigenous People’s Fund)(TF); $350,000.00 (Anonymous Donor Advised Fund) (TF); $1,000,000.00 (Anonymous Donor Advised Fund) (TF); $275,000.00 (TC); $500,000.00 (Indigenous Peoples Fund) (TF); $450,000.00 (Anonymous Donor Advised Fund) (TF). (Grants and contributions paid during the year or approved for future payment.)

NoVoStocks2009

NoVo 990, 2008: Warren Buffett contributed $62,765,356.00 to NoVo. | NoVo’s contribution to Tides: $330,000.00 (TC); $250,000.00 (TC); $500,000.00 (TC); $550,000.00 (TC), $500,000.00 (TC), $500,000.00 (TC), $2,600,000.00 (Donor Advised Fund) (TF). (Grants and contributions paid during the year or approved for future payment.)

NoVoStocks2008

NoVo 990, 2007: Warren Buffett contributed $61,745,250.00 to NoVo. | NoVo’s contribution to Tides: $500,000.00 (TC); 4,000,000.00 (environmental fund) (TF); $1,000,000.00 (TC); $2,000,000.00 (environmental fund) (TF) (Grants and contributions paid during the year or approved for future payment.)

NoVoStocks2007

NoVo 990, 2006: Warren Buffett contributed $52,957,500.00 to NoVo. | NoVo’s contribution to TIDES: $2,000,000.00 (Environment Advised Fund)(TF) $6,000,000.00 (Environment Advised Fund) (TF). (Grants and contributions paid during the year or approved for future payment.)

NoVoStocks2006

NoVo 990, 2005: ***FORMERLY KNOWN AS THE SPIRIT FOUNDATION | Spirit’s/NoVo’s contribution to Tides: $3,000,000.00 (Environment Fund) (TF); $8,000,000.00 (Environment Fund) (TF) (Grants and contributions paid during the year or approved for future payment.)

NoVoStock2005

NoVo 990, 2004: THE SPIRIT FOUNDATION | Warren and Susan Buffett contributed $10,020.00 to Spirit. The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation contributed $10,792.00 to Spirit. Spirit’s contribution to Tides: $25,000.00 (TC); $2,940,003.50 (TC); $105,000 (TC) (Grants and contributions paid during the year or approved for future payment.)

NoVoStock2004

 

$26 Million Shades of Grey 

 

NoVo-Grants-to-Tides

Graph [7] [From part III | Beholden to Buffett]

It is important to note that the many of the funds above, from NoVo to Tides, are designated, on paper, to specific campaigns. Yet at the same time one must be cognitive of the observation mentioned prior: “Tides does two things better than any other foundation or charity in the U.S. today: it routinely obscures the sources of its tax-exempt millions, and makes it difficult (if not impossible) to discern how the funds are actually being used….” With $26 million in funding, one can safely assume two things: that Tides and NoVo have a relationship that extends far beyond what is documented on paper, and that Tides will not be funding a campaign against Buffett’s crude-via-rail dynasty anytime soon.

 

Timeline:

 

  • June, 2006: Warren Buffett pledged to donate most of his wealth to the Gates Foundation as well as other philanthropic organizations, including NoVo.
  • 2007: Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway begins to acquire the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad stock.
  • 2007: 60% of Marmon Holdings (Union Tank Car Co.) was acquired by Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, with the remaining 40% to be acquired in the next five to seven years.
  • Aug 19, 2008: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates make a quiet visit to the Alberta tar sands.
  • August 2009: US State Department approves Enbridge’s Alberta Clipper Pipeline, a key tar sands pipeline. 350.org et al are silent.
  • Nov 3, 2009: Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway proposes to purchase BNSF Railway as a wholly owned subsidiary for $34 billion in the largest deal in Berkshire history. As of June 2009, Berkshire Hathaway was the eighteenth largest corporation on Earth.
  • Feb 4, 2010: 86 US organizations call on President Obama to reject the pipeline.
  • 2010-2014: Warren Buffet succeeds in building a 21st century rail empire with no dissent. Crude via rail soars.

350.org-Funding

Graph [8] [From part III | Beholden to Buffett] Note: Dirty Oil Sands is now Tar Sands Solutions Network.

As crude via rail soars, NoVo’s own net worth soars with it. Yet, there has been no reaction to the fact Buffett’s NoVo has been the number one contributor to Tides. Rather, the symbolic “Stop the Keystone XL” campaign still drags on….

With the fight over the Keystone Pipeline still raging in Washington, a Kansas-based rail operator and an oil logistics firm are planning a rail terminal in Port Arthur that could double the number of barrels of oil sands crude flowing to the Gulf Coast from Canada…. Kansas City Southern stock jumped up as high as $110.76 a share following the announcement.” — Keystone? Who needs it? Railroad plans fuel terminal for Port Arthur, Boz Journals, July 10, 2014 [Emphasis added]

All while the majority of the public has no clue that not only has much of the pipeline already been built, much of it is in operation. Again, sadly, it appears that the right of centre is much more astute than the left. On September 5, 2013, an article appearing on The American Enterprise Institute reproduces the following from U.S.A Today:

“The biggest mystery about the Keystone XL pipeline is why its final stage hasn’t already been approved by the Obama administration. There are six things most people don’t know that make the mystery deeper … following the contentious Keystone pipeline debate, you can be forgiven if you think that the fight is over whether to build it. That’s not quite right. The Keystone system has already been transporting oil sands from Canada to U.S. refineries in the Midwest for three years – with no major leaks. The Keystone XL project that has received so much attention is the last phase of a larger project. [Emphasis in original]

Phase 1 has been operating since 2010, carrying oil from Alberta across three Canadian provinces and six states to refineries in Illinois (see solid brown line in map).

Phase 2 expanded the system from Steele City, Neb., to Cushing, Okla., a major U.S. oil refining and storing hub (see solid green line in map). It went operational two years ago, again with no major problems.

Phase 3, under construction, extends the pipeline from Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast refineries in Texas (see orange dashed line in map). President Obama even gave a speech in Cushing in March 2012 — during his re-election bid — praising the pipeline extension as good for the economy.

Phase 4, the Keystone XL, would build another extension to the pipeline system from Alberta, crossing only three states (Montana, South Dakota then Nebraska, see blue dashed line in map).”

Tides-Tar-Sands-Campaign-Funding

Graph [9] [From part III | Beholden to Buffett]

In keeping with reality, perhaps it is necessary to outline the fact that Tides, recipient of millions of dollars (approx. $26 million since 2004) via the Buffett family’s NoVo Foundation, in turn, also channels hundreds of thousands of dollars into Ceres (350.org divestment campaign partner), with grants spiking up to and during the peak years of the Keystone XL campaign (years 2009, 1010 and 2011). (As disclosed previously, in 2010, Tides granted $150,000 to Ceres, with $100,000.00 of these funds specifically earmarked for a “tar sands campaign.” [Tides 990, 2010] As well, in 2008 Ceres received $50,000 from Wallace Global, also designated for a tar sands campaign.) [TIDES FUNDS TO CERES (LIST OF GRANTEES): 2011, $120,000.00 | 2010, $150,000.00 | 2009, $100,000.00 | 2006, $17,500.00) | 2004, $25,000.00]

One could argue that since the NoVo Foundation was established with Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway stocks (it continues to receive bulk shares), it therefore dismisses any just questioning of the funneling of revenue from Warren Buffett, into his family’s NoVo Foundation and then into the Tides Foundation. One may wish to deem this as completely irrelevant, despite the fact that the Tides Foundation was/is the key distributor of anti-pipeline campaign financing for the non-profit industrial complex. Yet the fact that the NoVo Foundation’s wealth (and power) increases when and as long as the Berkshire Hathaway stock increases (with expanding rail transportation of oil) – surely demonstrates a devious strategy on the part of both benefactor and recipient. At minimum, it demonstrates an almost criminal conflict of interest.

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

The media’s glorification of those who profit the most from the rape and pillage of our planet acts as a shield for brilliant albeit pathologically rich human beings. The media’s glorification also applies to those selected and assigned to leadership positions within the non-profit industrial complex. The media assures us that everyone we know adores and trusts these manufactured celebrities. In Rockefeller We Trust – meekly, and cowardly, we collectively kowtow to the implanted meme insulated within the masses.

We have to consider that in 2002, prior to Buffett’s foray into concern over the environment and previous to his focus on rebuilding North America’s rail empire, there were no contributions from the NoVo Foundation (operating under the name Spirit Foundation) to Tides, whatsoever. (Warren Buffett contributed $300,000.00 to the Spirit Foundation that same year.)

It is of interest to note that Suzanne Nossel, former Executive Director of Amnesty International USA and trusted instrument of American hegemony, serves on Tides Board of Directors. On Oct 1, 2012, in the article, Amnesty Coup, author Jay Taber writes: “As an experienced advocate for neoliberal coercion to achieve American hegemony, she has taken an aggressive pro-war stance over the last decade, including the US invasion of Iraq and the NATO bombing of Libya.”

All while:

“Gary D. Schwartz joins NoVo after fifteen years of service at Tides. He was the founder of the Tides’ New York office and served in many different capacities during his tenure there including Interim CEO before departing in 2014.” [Source]

 

The interlocking directorate contagion continues to thrive in the non-profit industrial complex.

 

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, Political Context, Counterpunch, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.]

 

Endnotes:

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

[2] “Tides Foundation’s primary exempt purpose is grantmaking. We empower individuals and institutions to move money efficiently and effectively towards positive social change”. – Tides

[3] The said purpose of the Tides Center is “to promote and support emerging social change and educational programs.” – Tides | As the Capital Research Center explains:”Under the Tides Center umbrella, the new group can then accept tax deductible contributions without needing to apply immediately to the IRS for tax-exempt 501(c)(3) public charity tax status…. Besides giving a new project its seal of approval, the Tides Center performs a notable service in showing new groups how to run an office, apply for grants, conduct effective public relations, and handle the many personnel, payroll, and budget problems that might baffle a novice group.” The Center also functions as a legal firewall insulating the Tides Foundation from potential lawsuits.

[4] The said purpose of Tides Inc. is “to provide economically, programatically and environmentally sustainable workplace facilities and other value-added social and real estate services to the Tides Family of Organizations and other nonprofit organizations that further similar charitable purposes. The said purpose of Tides Two Rivers Foundation is that it “acts as a supporting organization to the Tides Foundation, a grant making foundation, and the Tides Center, a comprehensive fiscal sponsor of non-profit activities.” – Tides | “Tides Canada is a Canadian charitable organization established in 2000 by a founding board that included Drummond Pike, also founder of Tides US. While Tides Canada’s name was inspired by Tides US, it is an independent entity with separate management and distinct organizational structure. With headquarters in Vancouver and offices in Toronto and Yellowknife, Tides Canada is made up of two separate legal entities. Tides Canada Foundation is a national public foundation that focuses on social justice and the environment and Tides Canada Initiatives Society is a shared administrative platform for 40 in-house social change projects with field staff across the country.” [Wikipedia]

[5] “The specific purposes of Tides Network includes charitable and educational activities exclusively to support Tides Foundation, The Tides Center, and Tides, Inc. and Tides Two Rivers Fund.” – Tides

[6] The REVEL award is a creation of the Rainforest Action Network’s ultra white and ultra elite, annual benefit REVEL event (“It was a gorgeous affair.”) To illustrate the long relationship between various leaders of the faux environmental movement, Credo’s Kieschnick (“eco” capitalist extraordinaire) and Bill McKibben (as noted earlier, Klein’s primary establishment counterpart at 350.org/1Sky), go back to at least 2007 during the days of Step It Up, McKibben’s first nationwide campaign. [After one year in operation, Rockefeller “awarded $100,000 to McKibben and Step It Up on March 13, 2008 to support its new project, an initiative called Project 350”. Source] This should come as no surprise considering Credo Mobile is a financial supporter of Democratic Party and key partner of 350.org (This relationship is strikingly similar to Avaaz, which was co-founded by Democrat and former congressman Tom Perriello, and is also a key partner, financier and ally of 350.org/1sky).

[7] [8] [9] See [1] above.

A Sober Assessment on the Tar Sands Campaigns

NGO-is-born

Media Co-op

January 8, 2013

by Macdonald Stainsby

In thinking about a new rant on the tar sands to begin 2014, thinking of trying to sum up the previous year seems nearly impossible. So that, really, is a summation. Let me explain.

In previous eras of tar sands resistance we had a few flash points. This, of course, is in the time since it began to get attention beyond the families it ravaged through disease, or families it kept separate through cross-country employment. Since the call of climate change made attention to tar sands inevitable the “flag” of tar sands resistance has sprung up in such a varied, continent-wide and even international manner that even betrayals from Big Green would likely not do much more than wound resistance that has sprung up in locale after locale.

The Climate Movement’s Pipeline Preoccupation

Yes, Keystone XL is horrible – but so are plenty of other fossil fuel infrastructure plans

Earth Island Journal

by ARIELLE KLAGSBRUN, DAVID OSBORN, MARYUM ADRANGI AND KIRBY SPANGLER

Architecturally, a keystone is the wedge-shaped piece at the crown of an arch that locks the other pieces in place. Without the keystone, the building blocks of an archway will tumble and fall, with no support system for the weight of the arch. Much of the United States climate movement right now is structured like an archway, with all of its blocks resting on a keystone – President Obama’s decision on the Keystone XL pipeline.

The Problem With Bill McKibben and John Kerry

obama2ObamaBranding

Decisive Indecision

Counterpunch

Sept 3, 2013

by Macdonald Stainsby

Ah, so the Obama administration announced yet another delay in the Keystone XL pipeline review. And what a brilliant decision is this non-decision. If you have been opposed to climate change, tar sands or the oil and gas industry and live in the United States, you now know– thanks to Obama and Bill McKibben– what you are supposed to do for the next minimum several months. Isn’t it wonderful to have strategy handed to you by the US administration, and your so-called leaders?

I hope that I don’t date myself too harshly by referencing Peanuts right off the bat. Hopefully you recall the famous comic strips featuring Snoopy, Linus and the gang. There was that famous routine where Lucy, who had lied and lied many times before on the same promise, would swear to Charlie Brown that if he attempted to kick a football that she was holding, she would not pull it away– despite the fact she had done exactly that countless times before.

Of course, the joke is that we all know Lucy will pull the ball away, and Charlie will miss, falling on his rear after sailing through the air having just whiffed on kicking the ball. His injury, for us apparently, is part of the humour. He gets up, dusts himself off and we all well know it will happen again soon enough.

What we don’t know, since the ball never gets kicked, is if Charlie Brown can actually boot a football in any meaningful sense. Can he get it very far, will it be an effective kick? Since Charlie Brown has never kicked the ball it can’t be said he has failed. The anticipation of what may happen, should he get to kick the damn thing, keeps him coming back. Lucy has him right where she wants him.

Moving Beyond Keystone XL

Direct Action on Line 9

Counterpunch

September 04, 2013

by DAVID OSBORN

On the morning of June 20th a group of people walked onto the Canadian energy corporation Enbridge’s North Westover pumping station and occupied the facility. They called this blockade “Swamp Line 9”. The facility is part of what is called Line 9, a pipeline that moves oil west towards Sarnia and the refining facilities there. However, the industry has been engaged in an effort to slowly gain regulatory approval to reverse the pipeline, allowing it to carry tar sands oil east for refining or to the Atlantic coast for export. The pumping station for Line 9 had been shut down for work and remained shut down during the occupation as Enbridge employees were unable to access the site. The direct action effectively stopped all activity at the pumping station until June 26th when the Canadian authorities raided the occupation and arrested twenty people (you can support their legal fund here).

Direct Action and Line 9 Final Draft_html_537a1758

This action came after over a year of growing grassroots opposition to Line 9 and represents another escalation in the climate movement to address the failure of existing political institutions to deal with the climate crisis. It also has had the effect of continuing to raise the profile of the various efforts to move tar sands oil out of Alberta and engage people in Ontario about the issue. Here, outside of Hamilton in Ontario, much like in East Texas, Maine, Washington State, Oklahoma, British Columbia, and elsewhere communities are taking direct action to confront the root causes of the climate crisis.

In confronting the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure we also resist the devastating ecological transformation that occurs in service to markets and profit. In this sense this action, like those taking place across North America and the world, also represent people resisting the transformation of their communities by capitalism, which fundamentally drives the climate crisis with its need for exponential growth, its utilitarian view of the natural world as human-centered “resources” and its value of profit above all else.

The Reformist Approach Dead End – The Absolute Enemy

Feb 27, 2013

Activist/artist Roxanne Amico writes: While the BP Reality Show rolls on, and a recent news report tells us about “assassinations of environmental activists…doubling over last decade”, this terrific cartoon by Stephanie McMillan communicates why the BP “trial” is a farce. Stephanie writes, “Reformist approaches, though misguided, have traction because most people don’t grasp how the system actually works, and that it’s structurally unreformable. They don’t recognize it as the absolute enemy that it is.

Hey 350.org: Um, We lost. You lost.

Keystone XL Pipeline Construction Begins

Excerpt:

“The Canadian pipeline company TransCanada has quietly begun construction of the southern leg of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, installing segments near Livingston, Texas, company officials confirmed Thursday.”

See full story: “Keystone XL pipeline construction begins amid protests” by Kim Murphy, August 16, 2012: LA Times

And then recall the following announcement as found on the 350.org site:

BREAKING NEWS: Keystone Rejected. We Won. You Won. Thank you.

 Posted by The 350.org Team – 11/10/11, 2:18pm

Amazing news — check out the email we just sent out below, and signup for the 350 email list here.

Dear Friends,

Um, we won. You won.

Not completely. The President didn’t outright reject the Keystone XL pipeline permit. My particular fantasy — that he would invite the 1253 people arrested on his doorstep in August inside the gates for a victory picnic by the vegetable garden — didn’t materialize.

But a few minutes ago the President sent the pipeline back to the State Department for a thorough re-review, which most analysts are saying will effectively kill the project. The president explicitly noted climate change, along with the pipeline route, as one of the factors that a new review would need to assess. There’s no way, with an honest review, that a pipeline that helps speed the tapping of the world’s second-largest pool of carbon can pass environmental muster.

And he has made clear that the environmental assessment won’t be carried out by cronies of the pipeline company — that it will be an expert and independent assessment. We will watch that process like hawks, making sure that it doesn’t succumb to more cronyism. Perhaps this effort will go some tiny way towards cleaning up the Washington culture of corporate dominance that came so dramatically to light here in emails and lobbyist disclosure forms.

It’s important to understand how unlikely this victory is. Six months ago, almost no one outside the pipeline route even knew about Keystone XL. One month ago, a secret poll of “energy insiders” by the National Journal found that “virtually all” expected easy approval of the pipeline by year’s end. As late as last week the CBC reported that Transcanada was moving huge quantities of pipe across the border and seizing land by eminent domain, certain that its permit would be granted. A done deal has come spectacularly undone.

Our movement spoke loudly about climate change and the President responded. There have been few even partial victories about global warming in recent years so that makes this an important day. We need to let the president and oil companies know that we’re ready to take action should they try to push this pipeline through in a couple of years. There’s a pledge to take bold action against the pipeline up on our site, and I’ll be keeping your names an emails safely stored away so that you’ll be the first to know about anything we need to do down the road.

Please sign the pledge here.

The President deserves thanks for making this call — it’s not easy in the face of the fossil fuel industry and its endless reserves of cash. The deepest thanks, however, go to you: to indigenous peoples who began the fight, to the folks in Nebraska who rallied so fiercely, to the scientists who explained the stakes, to the environmental groups who joined with passionate common purpose, to the campuses that lit up with activity, to the faith leaders that raised a moral cry, to the labor leaders who recognized where our economic future lies, to the Occupy movement that helped galvanize revulsion at insider dealing, and most of all to the people in every state and province who built the movement that made this decision inevitable.

Our fight, of course, is barely begun. Some in our movement will say that this decision is just politics as usual: that the President wants us off the streets — and off his front lawn — until after the election, at which point the administration can approve the pipeline, alienating its supporters without electoral consequence. The president should know that If this pipeline proposal somehow reemerges from the review process we will use every tool at our disposal to keep it from ever being built; if there’s a lesson of the last few months, both in our work and in the Occupy encampments around the world, it’s that sometimes we have to put our bodies on the line.

In the meantime, since federal action will be in abeyance for a long stretch, we need to figure out how best to support our Canadian brothers and sisters, who are effectively battling against proposed pipelines west from the tar sands to the Pacific. And we need to broaden our work to take on all the forms of ‘extreme energy’ now coming to the fore: mountaintop removal coal mining, deepsea oil drilling, fracking for gas and oil. We’ll keep sending you updates; you keep letting us know what we need to do next.

Last week, scientists announced that the planet had poured a record amount of CO2 into the atmosphere last year; that’s a sign of how desperate our battle is. But we take courage from today’s White House announcement; it gives us some clues about how to fight going forward.

And I simply can’t say thank you enough. I know, because of my own weariness, how hard so many of you have worked. It was good work, done in the right spirit, and it has secured an unlikely victory. You are the cause of that victory; you upended enormous odds.

I’m going to bed tired tonight. But I’ll get up in the morning ready for the next battle, more confident because I know you’re part of this fight too.

Onwards,

Bill McKibben for the 350.org Team

P.S. Victories need to be shared. Let’s make this one fly all over the web: share it on Twitter here and share it on Facebook here.


MORE INFORMATION AND LINKS

U.S. to Delay Decision on Pipeline Until After Election – The New York Times

The Hives – “Hate to Say I Told You So” …

Inscrutable Icons of Liberaldom by Cindy Sheehan

“Are you a good witch or a bad witch?”- Glinda the Good to Dorothy Gale, Wizard of Oz

June 16, 2012

Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox

“In all affairs, it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.” – Bertrand Russell

I am always happy to get feedback about my radio show, Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox, even if it’s bad—because I am happy that someone is listening—we work really hard to produce a relevant show.

Recently, I featured a young author/activist named, Edmund Berger, who has written two thought-provoking pieces that featured something that I am very interested in: the co-option, or “astro-turfing” of movements and I received some very hostile comments from readers/listeners who were offended that Berger could criticize some icons of “Liberaldom” (my word, not theirs).

First of all, the thought that anyone is above analysis and criticism is wrong, especially people who make a living from notoriety. For example, it’s one thing to attack a person for perceived character or physical flaws, but when one points out iffy connections to foundations with known and deep ties to the establishment, that is, in my opinion, fair game.

Everyone makes mistakes…everyone, with no exception. However, a line is crossed when that person, or organization, leads others astray by not being totally honest about from where the money comes or where partisan political loyalties lie. I will quote examples for some of the seemingly inscrutable ones that I got in trouble for allowing to be criticized. (Apparently, and thankfully, I am highly “scrutable.)

Again, why is the messenger being crucified instead of the information being read and analyzed with some balance instead of some people “pedestalizing” others with knee-jerk adoration?

If we want to have any success as movements and people, we need to realize that there are forces loyal to the Democratic Party that glom on to people and movements to steer what could be actually affective towards electoral politics, usually in favor of the Democrats on the Liberal side of the political spectrum.

There were especially two Inscrutable Icons of Liberaldom that my listeners were offended about being analyzed by my guest, Edmund Berger: Naomi Klein and 350.org. We’ll start with 350.org because Ms. Klein is now on the national board of that NGO.

350.org

The below is from my friend and radical environmentalist (integrity of vision and not co-opted by foundation money), Gregory Vickrey, of Wrong Kind of Green, about the establishment environmental groups:

President Obama has a bevy of support from environmental groups, many of whom (like the Sierra Club) have already endorsed him for a second round of degradation and destruction. This fawning for a Democratic President is certainly not without precedent, but it is particularly egregious when one looks at Obama’s environmental record.
Unlike his over-arching abilities to pre-emptively criminalize the common protester, this President has neither the wherewithal nor the spine to hold BP to account in the ongoing Gulf of Mexico tragedy. Rather, he continues to exacerbate the destruction, fast-tracking oil and gas leases in Alaska and additional deep water drilling in the Gulf.
Notwithstanding the rhetoric over a temporary suspension of the final phase of the Keystone XL pipeline, President Obama gave an enthusiastic pass to a significant portion of the tar sands pipeline (already operational) in 2009, shortly after being inaugurated.
And he (Obama) is more effective than a denier when it comes to climate change, avoiding or stalling mandatory mitigation and adaptation practices that should have been deployed years ago.
His inaction-with-a-purpose preserves the status quo for his corporate, corrupt base of financial support, thus making him the greatest enabler of environmental destruction on the planet, and no resonant speech from on high changes that reality.
And here I must correct myself – stating above that the President has an “environmental record” is almost as recidivist as the man himself.Not to be outdone by the Sierra Club and other corporate-environmental organizations who have endorsed President Obama and his despicable policies, faux “grass-roots” organizations such as the Rockefeller (think oil) funded 350.org likewise lift President Obama up whenever he tosses a rhetorical bone their way. 350 and its corporate marketing arm were quick to praise the President with the Keystone XL delay (“We won! What a brave man you are, Mr. President!” author’s note: there’s a far more complex story behind this), but never utter a word about the realities on the ground of, say, fracking in New York; Or mountaintop removal in West Virginia; Or $2 Billion in coal subsidies to the President’s home state of Illinois; Or those fast-tracked wells in the Gulf; Or those leases in Alaska. Like their partners at Sierra Club and elsewhere, at the end of the day, 350 are nothing more than a faux-roots front for the President and his party, insane environmental policies be damned.

And as Edmund Berger points out in his article published in Swan’s Commentary called: Harnessing People Power Continued: the 99% Spring and the Professional Left:

The first organization to be looked at is 350.org, a climate change awareness advocacy organization launched in 2007 by the author and environmentalist Bill McKibben. McKibben’s approach to environmentalism is positioned firmly in the ideology of “green capitalism,” advocating a return to localized market economies while eschewing the notions of collectivization or wealth redistribution. Halting catastrophic climate change, he argues, “will not mean abandoning Adam Smith” and “doesn’t require that you join a commune or become a socialist.” Espousing this moderate viewpoint has led 350.org’s subsidization by large liberal philanthropies, primarily, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF). This is an important connection, as RBF’s current president, Stephen Heintz, is the founding executive director of Demos: A Network for Ideas & Action, a “non-partisan public policy research and advocacy organization committed to building an America that achieves its highest democratic ideals.” Deepening the ties, Demos, funded by the RBF and Ford Foundation, hosts 99% Spring material on their website and also counts Rebuild the Dream founder Van Jones on its advisory board. Furthermore, in 2011 350.org merged with another environmental coalition, 1Sky, where Jones can be found yet again on its director board.

350.org is what it is, but, please, let’s stop pretending that it is on the side of revolutionary change.

 Naomi Klein

I know Naomi personally and I think she is a sweet person and she has contributed a lot to the world’s understanding of neo-liberalism. There’s no doubt about it, she’s brilliant, but when it comes to being on the board of 350.org and Obama, in my opinion, she is off the track.

In a speech Naomi gave at Loyola University in February of 2009, she was advocating for “collectivism” and “nationalization,” but, as pointed out above her alliance with 350.org is at odds with those goals.

Here is Berger’s analysis of Klein’s connection to 350.org:

However, a close reading of The Shock Doctrine reveals her glaring refusal to attack capitalism’s production modes; instead, she prefers to refer to her “emergent Keynesianism” and waxes poetically about the days when “young men from Ivy League schools sat around commanding table… having heated debates about the interest rate and the price of wheat.” This vision of a benevolent technocracy is at odds, certainly, with the desires for true democracy that she expresses elsewhere in the text, and her longing for Ivy League-directed economics should be contrasted with the sociological analyses of the liberal contingencies of the elite establishment as presented by C. Wright Mills and G. William Domhoff. While Klein’s critique is undoubtedly vital to helping undermine the grand narrative of neoliberalism, it is ultimately deflective in nature — did imperial ambitions (the Vietnam War, for example) not exist during the “heyday of Keynesianism,” and was this economic system not wrought with its own internal tensions and structural flaws? Regardless, her discourse is completely compatible with viewpoint of the moderate American left.

In an article called, Criticism of Shock Doctrine from the Left, the author points out:

Most critics of the war believe the notion of exporting democracy to a hostile Arab country was doomed in its conception. Some war supporters counter that the occupation could have succeeded, but bungling and incompetence caused it to fail. Klein is staking out a third, esoteric, highly original position. She says that the occupation could have succeeded, but the Bush administration did not want it to succeed. She is explicit about this:

“Had the Bush administration kept its promise to hand over power quickly to an elected Iraqi government, there is every chance that the resistance would have remained small and containable, rather than becoming a countrywide rebellion. But keeping that promise would have meant sacrificing the economic agenda behind the war, something that was never going to happen.”

My question is “small and containable” to whom? In the beginning of the US plague on Iraq called, Shock(ing) and Awe(ful), tens of thousands of Iraqi were killed—war is never “containable.”

On November 11, 2011, despite Obama’s delaying tactic (until 2013, after the 2012 elections, conveniently) Naomi Klein touted a “victory” on the show of another Inscrutable Icon of Liberaldom, Amy Goodman:

Environmental activists are claiming victory after the Obama administration announced Thursday it will postpone any decision on the proposed 1,700-mile Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline until 2013. The announcement was made just days after more than 10,000 people encircled the White House calling on President Obama to reject the project, the second major action against the project organized by Bill McKibben’s 350.org and Tar Sands Action. In late August and early September, some 1,200 people were arrested in Washington, D.C., in a two-week campaign of civil disobedience. “We believe that this delay will kill the pipeline,” says the Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein. “If it doesn’t, if this pipeline re-emerges after the election, people have signed pledges saying they will put their bodies on the line to stop it.” Klein notes that, “I don’t think we would have won without Occupy Wall Street… This is what it means to change the conversation.”

But guess what? This from a news article on March 12, 2012:

Barack Obama will speed up approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline during his “all of the above” energy road trip, White House officials said.

The president will use a stop in Cushing, Oklahoma on Thursday morning to announce an executive order directing government agencies to speed up permits for the southern US-only segment of the pipeline, running from the town to Port Arthur, Texas…

The article also claims the environmental groups were “angry,” but in searching the internet, I see that there was no angry response from Klein, McKibben, or 350.org to the speech Obama gave in Cushing, Oklahoma. Parts of the pipeline were in construction long before the “protests” in front of the White House last year, anyway. Apparently Obama is more afraid of his puppet-pay masters and the Republican Party than a group of activists who make light demands on him with no consequences attached to Obama’s non-compliance.

There are many other “Inscrutable Icons” of Liberaldom who range from being nearly perfect, in my view (ie, Noam Chomsky), to almost always being an astro-turfer for the establishment (ie, Van Jones)…and I would like my readers to put on their Critical Thinking Caps and research anything that anyone says. That’s not being “divisive,” it’s being responsible.

Keystone XL Theatre | Why did Obama Choose NRDC Founder John Bryson as his Commerce Secretary?

Keystone XL Theatre | Why did Obama Choose NRDC Founder John Bryson as his Commerce Secretary?

Published January 26, 2012 by Political Context

By Cory Morningstar

Frances Beinecke, president of NRDC, on the nomination of NRDC founder John Bryson by President Barack Obama: “As one of the founders of NRDC, John Bryson is a visionary leader in promoting a clean environment and a strong economy. He has compiled an exemplary record in public service and in business that underscores the strong linkage between economic and environmental progress.”

“The ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee and I will pay more for that ability than for any other under the sun.” – David Rockefeller, the current patriarch of the Rockefeller family

As 350.org/1Sky/Tar Sands Action Coalition continue to fill the self-proclaimed “progressive media” airwaves with self-congratulatory articles of strategic grassroots efforts and so-called victories, many are aware of the fact that a key player collaborating with the “Tar Sands Action” coalition is the NRDC (Natural Resources Defence Council). Forgetting for a moment the beginnings and correlation between 350.org/1Sky, the Rockefellers, the Clintons and big business, what other ties to the very industry and administration could these “environmental groups” such as NRDC behold? One such revelation known to few is the fact that NRDC’s John Bryson was confirmed as Barack Obama‘s Commerce Secretary on 20 October 2011. Who nominated Bryson to fill this position? President Barack Obama himself nominated Bryson as Secretary of Commerce on 31 May 2011. Obama’s nomination was endorsed by key corporate players including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Bryson co-founded NRDC in 1970 by way of a $400,000 grant, courtesy of the Ford Foundation. Bryson has served on the United Nations Secretary-General’s Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change alongside other elite associates of powerful corporations such as Tata (India) and ESKOM Holdings (South Africa). (And as Rio+20 will prove, the United Nations has become as corrupt an institution as the nations that control it; an instrumental tool for serving the world’s powerful oligarchy. It is nothing less than a Greek Tragedy that it has taken 20 years to figure this out – a further tragedy being that we citizens still delude ourselves that we can influence these negotiations, in any meaningful way. We cling to denial, our fingers blue, eyes wide shut. [1])

Keystone XL | The Ivory Towers Crushing the Last Remnants of Climate Justice

By Cory Morningstar

January 20, 2011

 

A recent article was posted to an International Climate Justice Now! listserv written by “agent” Jamie Henn of 350.org/1Sky/Tar Sands Action. The 16 January 2012 article titled “Grassroots Strategy Is Key to Winning Keystone XL Fight” gave the impression that the mainstream green groups were a magnificent force to be dealt with due to an unprecedented “grassroots” effort united.

Really?

It appears he missed Tom Goldtooth’s (Indigenous Environmental Network) interview published 5 December 2011 by The Africa Report:

“We have challenged, and become very unpopular for raising the issue of, classism, which is [a] source of the problem and requires an economic analysis if the environmental and climate narrative is to be truthful…. Look at 350.org – we had to challenge them to bring us to stand with them on the pipeline issue. Bill McKibben, the ivory tower white academic, didn’t even want to take the time to bring people of colour to the organising. We managed a negotiation that allowed for both groups to unite.” … “Well, it is always the case with the media that ‘white is right’ or that global issues affecting people of color on the frontline should be represented by the type of voices that don’t engage, in a threatening way, the realities of capitalism. There are also many fashionable voices that become part of the establishment in the sense that while they do espouse the truth, it [does] not pose a threat for change, for ending the system, because someone has adopted a cause that they were not born into. The communities that live in the cancer hotspots, in the immediate environment, their voices are too real, too threatening. Meanwhile, infiltration continues – …”

 

When I start seeing articles posted on an international climate justice listserv from 350.org celebrating NRDC [1]and friends, co-opting MLK (Martin Luther King, Jr.) for their own (branding) purposes and legitimising the Obama tagline “Yes We Can” (language that in turn gives “hope” that citizens may see “a certain young senator from Illinois” re-emerge), with no dissent to be found, it tells me that my good friend and legitimate activist Sandy was right. This Climate Justice Network has become CAN (Climate Action Network)[2] in drag. [January 2012: “But as an openly gay man can I say that sometimes I read the cjn postings and feel like cjn at times is becoming CAN in drag, in other words we have been infiltrated, so I wonder whether it is too late to lock the chicken coop when the fox is already inside.”]

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