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Blue-washing the Colonization and Militarization of Our Ocean

How U.S. Marine National Monuments protect environmentally harmful U.S. military bases throughout the Pacific and the world.

The Hawaii Independent

June 26, 2014

by Craig Santos Perez

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B-1 bombers on Diego Garcia

President Obama recently announced plans to expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument from 87,000 square miles to nearly 782,000 square miles. Despite the media framing this move as a victory for ocean conservation, the truth is that these monuments will further colonize, militarize and privatize the Pacific.

Many mistakenly refer to marine “monuments” as “sanctuaries” because they are both “marine protected areas.” However, an official sanctuary is designated by the Secretary of Commerce under the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, which requires “extensive public process, local community engagement, stakeholder involvement, and citizen participation, both prior to and following designation.”  On the other hand, the President unilaterally designates marine monuments through the Antiquities Act of 1906. No public process is required.

The first and largest Marine National Monument was established in 2006: The Papah?naumoku?kea Marine National Monument (140,000 square miles). Three more marine monuments were established in 2009: The Marianas Trench Marine National Monument (95,000 square miles); The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (87,000 square miles); and The Rose Atoll Marine National Monument (13,000 square miles). The total “protected” area, with Obama’s expansion, would be more than a million square miles of “small islands, atolls, coral reefs, submerged lands, and deep blue waters.”

Why has this antiquited, unilateral process suddenly become so popular? Why are U.S. presidents from both sides of the political divide side-stepping Congressional approval and—more importantly—public participation and scrutiny?

It’s important to understand that establishing a marine national monument, reserve, or refuge places our coastal and open ocean waters under federal control. The marine monuments are administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (under the Department of Commerce) or by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (under the Department of the Interior). This ocean and submerged land grab by the federal government severely limits public access and trust. Additionally, these monuments violate the rights of indigenous peoples by separating us from our sacred spaces. Traditional fishing grounds or ritual spaces may no longer be accessible. If there are exceptions for indigenous rites, we will need to apply for a permit and receive federal approval.

How Do Marine Reserves Militarize the Ocean?

As I wrote about in a previous editorial, the U.S. military removed the original landowners of Litekyan (Ritidian), an area in northern Guam, under eminent domain in 1963, and the Navy used the area as a communications station during the Cold War. Thirty years later, 1,000 acres of the land was deemed “excess.” Instead of that land being returned to the families, it was transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and designated a “National Wildlife Refuge.” Today, four thousand acres of Litekyan is now being considered for a live firing range complex.

You see, designating land and water as a monument, refuge, reserve, or even sanctuary keeps the land under federal control as opposed to public (and indigenous) trust. So if the military ever wants to use the land in the future, it can simply be converted (or re-converted in the case of Litekyan) from the Department of the Interior or Commerce to the Department of Defense. This is the “logic of military conservation.”

Many marine monuments house strategic military bases. For example, the marine monuments of the Pacific are home to U.S. bases on Guam, Tinian, Saipan, Rota, Farallon de Medinilla, Wake Island and Johnston Island, to name a few. The reason why military bases can be within marine monuments is because “nothing in the proclamations impairs or otherwise affects the activities of the Department of Defense. Among other things, the DoD is ensured full freedom of navigation in accordance with the law of the sea, and the U.S. Navy can continue effective training to maintain its antisubmarine warfare and other capabilities.” In other words, the military is exempt from most environmental regulations and prohibitions.

Ironically, the public may no longer be allowed to fish in these “protected” areas because it might affect the fragile ocean ecosystem, yet the military can conduct weapons training and testing. Remember, marine monuments are not designed to protect the ocean from the U.S. military, one of the worst polluters in the world. In fact the opposite is true: they are designed to allow easier military access. As activists in Hawai’i know, these national monuments could become “watery graves” for endangered species when military training occurs.

Besides providing more federally controlled space for the U.S. military to train, marine monuments give military bases another layer of secrecy from the public. This buffer strategy is spreading to other nations. During the meeting of the U.S. State Department sponsored Our Ocean conference last week in Washington DC, other countries announced similar plans to federalize massive ocean areas, including Palau, Kiribati, the Cook Islands and the Bahamas. These new marine reserves will become military sanctuaries, buffer zones and watery bases for the U.S. military as it forcefully positions itself in the Asia-Pacific region (and uses “illegal fishing” as justification to militarize these marine reserves).

We need to be critical of these efforts. Read about what happened to the Cayos Cochinos, an island group in the Carribean off Honduras, during the twenty years after they were declared a “protected area.” The Afro-Indigenous Garifuna peoples have been displaced from their lands and fishing grounds. Tourism developers and other private industries have invested in and exploited the islands. And, you guessed it, the U.S. military is using the area for basing and training, providing millions of dollars of aid to the Honduras government. This is what will happen to countries that ally with the U.S. in this colonial conservation scheme.

In 2009, Britian designated a marine protected area around the Chagos islands. However, the waters around the island of Diego Garcia, which is the site of one of the most secretive overseas U.S. military bases, was exempted. How bizarre: a secretive U.S. military base in the Indian Ocean surrounded by a 200-mile marine preserve controlled by the British government. Peter Sand, in “The Chagos Archipelago: Footprint of Empire, or World Heritage?”, pointedly asks whether these new marine reserves are “an anachronistic example of ‘environmental imperialism’, or evidence of an equally outdated variant of ‘fortress conservation’ that disregards human rights under the noble guise of nature protection.” Either way, the Chagossians who were removed from their islands may never be able to return.

How do Private Corporations Benefit from Marine Monuments?

As I mentioned before, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is under the Department of Commerce (DOC). Does that seem strange to you? It certainly seems strange to Obama, when he joked during his 2011 State of the Union address: “The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they’re in saltwater.” Obama wants to move NOAA to the Department of the Interior.

Joking aside, it actually makes perfect (or perverse) sense that NOAA remains in DOC, which promotes trade and economic development. A few years ago, then Secretary-of-State Hillary Clinton dubbed the 21st century: “America’s Pacific Century.” This strategic turn aims to expand trade, investment, and militarization throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The cornerstone of America’s Pacific Century is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade agreement that has been described as “NAFTA on steroids.” As Clinton stated, the continued economic growth of the region depends on the “security and stability that has long been guaranteed by the U.S. military.” It is not surprising that TPP negotiations, as well as militarization proposals in the Pacific, intensified around the same time that President Bush designated the first marine monument in 2006.

So what are these economic opportunities, and what does the TPP have to do with the surge of marine national monuments and reserves designated by the U.S. federal government and its allies?

First, the more military sanctuaries the U.S. has around the world, the more federal tax money will be spent to secure these areas for investment, which means more profit for the military industrial complex and private defense firms.

Second, does something smell fishy? The justification for many of these marine reserves is to prevent illegal fishing and fish fraud, especially from China. With a massive fleet of 2,000 distant-water, state-subsidized fishing vessels, China catches nearly five tons of fish a year, worth more than $10 billion—some legally and some illegally. In contrast, nearly 90 percent of seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported. By establishing marine monuments, and encouraging its allies in the Pacific to do the same, the U.S. could effectively shut out China from Pacific tuna waters. In turn, private U.S. tuna corporations could negotiate contracts with Pacific allied nations to develop Pacific fisheries or to obtain exclusive fishing rights within the marine reserves (as well as access to cheap labor and canneries). This comes at a time when foreign-owned and American-owned canned-tuna companies are battling for control over our kids’ school lunches. Billions of dollars of tuna are on the plate.

Third, wherever you find a national monument, you will find a tourism industry. The Cayos Cochinos is a prime example. The government that controls the marine monument can permit private companies to operate tourism centers, hotels, eco-adventures—all in the name of development and jobs. The concessions throughout the U.S. National Park Service are owned and operated by private companies, which gross over $1 billion annually. There are more than 500 companies, from food to lodging to adventure sports to retail, that have contracts with the National Parks. Of course, the entire National Park system was one way of displacing Native American presence on these lands.

Fourth, the Pacific has long been a “laboratory” for Western science and technology. Since another justification for marine reserves is scientific research, then we will see many more unprecedented grants for oceanography research. This research can be transformed into profit by private industries, such as deep-sea mining, geo-thermal energy, open-ocean (genetically modified) aquaculture, and pharmaceutical drugs derived from ocean microbial bacteria.

New Zealand established a Marine Mammal Sanctuary in 2008 to protect engangered dolphins, yet it is now considering opening the area up for oil drilling. This is not a contradiction; this is exactly what these conservation schemes are designed for.

Lastly, do you want to see Avatar 2 with me when it comes out? In 2012, James Cameron dived in a submarine to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest point on earth, which is protected by the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. He lit up the trench with an eight-foot tower of LED lighting to film 3D footage. In another celebrity sighting, Leonardo DiCaprio made a cameo at the State Department’s Our Ocean conference, donating $7 milllion towards marine reserves. Apparently, he’s a diving enthusiast.

What is Blue-Washing?

In the 21st century, national marine momunents, marine parks, marine preserves, marine refuges, marine sanctuaries and their other iterations are instruments that empower the federal government to take land and water away from indigenous and public access, scrutiny, and trust. The “marine monuments” are especially dangerous because they do not require—nor are they accountable to—legislative or public comment, engagement, or approval.

As David Vine, in “Environmental Protection of Bases,” notes: “For all the benefits that marine protection areas might bring, governments are using environmentalism as a cover to protect the long-term life of environmentally harmful bases. The designation also helps governments hold onto strategic territories.” Furthermore, these designations give the governments of the U.S. and its neoliberal allies the power to create contracts with private corporations to exploit the resources of our ocean for profit and not for the public good. Let’s call this a form of “Blue-washing.”

The word “monument” comes from the Latin, monumentum, meaning “grave” or “memorial.” If our oceans continue to become national marine monuments, our blue ocean will indeed become a watery grave, a memorial to the beauty, richness, and biodiversity that once was.

 

Further reading:

Mauritian socialists’ open letter to Greenpeace — `Don’t help cover up colonialism’s crimes on Diego Garcia’

May the Earth Tremble at Its Core

Zapatista Army for National Liberation

November 9, 2016

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Photo credit: (AP Photo/Moyses Zuniga, File)

To the people of the world:

To the free media:

To the National and International Sixth:

Convened for the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the National Indigenous Congress and the living resistance of the originary peoples, nations, and tribes of this country called Mexico, of the languages of Amuzgo, Binni-zaá, Chinanteco, Chol, Chontal de Oaxaca, Coca, Náyeri, Cuicateco, Kumiai, Lacandón, Matlazinca, Maya, Mayo, Mazahua, Mazateco, Mixe, Mixteco, Nahua, Ñahñu, Ñathô, Popoluca, Purépecha, Rarámuri, Tlapaneco, Tojolabal, Totonaco, Triqui, Tzeltal, Tsotsil, Wixárika, Yaqui, Zoque, Chontal de Tabasco, as well as our Aymara, Catalán, Mam, Nasa, Quiché and Tacaná brothers and sisters, we firmly pronounce that our struggle is below and to the left, that we are anticapitalist and that the time of the people has come—the time to make this country pulse with the ancestral heartbeat of our mother earth.

It is in this spirit that we met to celebrate life in the Fifth National Indigenous Congress, which took place on October 9-14, 2016, in CIDECI-UNITIERRA, Chiapas. There we once again recognized the intensification of the dispossession and repression that have not stopped in the 524 years since the powerful began a war aimed at exterminating those who are of the earth; as their children we have not allowed for their destruction and death, meant to serve capitalist ambition which knows no end other than destruction itself. That resistance, the struggle to continue constructing life, today takes the form of words, learning, and agreements. On a daily basis we build ourselves and our communities in resistance in order to stave off the storm and the capitalist attack which never lets up. It becomes more aggressive everyday such that today it has become a civilizational threat, not only for indigenous peoples and campesinos but also for the people of the cities who themselves must create dignified and rebellious forms of resistance in order to avoid murder, dispossession, contamination, sickness, slavery, kidnapping or disappearance. Within our community assemblies we have decided, exercised, and constructed our destiny since time immemorial. Our forms of organization and the defense of our collective life is only possible through rebellion against the bad government, their businesses, and their organized crime.

We denounce the following:

In Pueblo Coca, Jalisco, the businessman Guillermo Moreno Ibarra invaded 12 hectares of forest in the area known as El Pandillo, working in cahoots with the agrarian institutions there to criminalize those who struggle, resulting in 10 community members being subjected to trials that went on for four years. The bad government is invading the island of Mexcala, which is sacred communal land, and at the same time refusing to recognize the Coca people in state indigenous legislation, in an effort to erase them from history.

 

The Otomí Ñhañu, Ñathö, Hui hú, and Matlatzinca peoples from México State and Michoacán are being attacked via the imposition of a megaproject to build the private Toluca-Naucalpan Highway and an inter-city train. The project is destroying homes and sacred sites, buying people off and manipulating communal assemblies through police presence. This is in addition to fraudulent community censuses that supplant the voice of an entire people, as well as the privatization and the dispossession of water and territory around the Xinantécatl volcano, known as the Nevado de Toluca. There the bad governments are doing away with the protections that they themselves granted, all in order to hand the area over to the tourism industry. We know that all of these projects are driven by interest in appropriating the water and life of the entire region. In the Michoacán zone they deny the identity of the Otomí people, and a group of police patrols have come to the region to monitor the hills, prohibiting indigenous people there from going to the hills to cut wood.

 

The originary peoples who live in Mexico City are being dispossessed of the territories that they have won in order to be able to work for a living; in the process they are robbed of their goods and subjected to police violence. They are scorned and repressed for using their traditional clothing and language, and criminalized through accusations of selling drugs.

 

The territory of the Chontal Peoples of Oaxaca is being invaded by mining concessions that are dismantling communal land organization, affecting the people and natural resources of five communities.

 

The Mayan Peninsular People of Campeche, Yucatán, and Quintana Roo are suffering land disposession as a result of the planting of genetically modified soy and African palm, the contamination of their aquifers by agrochemicals, the construction of wind farms and solar farms, the development of ecotourism, and the activities of real estate developers. Their resistance against high electricity costs has been met with harassment and arrest warrants. In Calakmul, Campeche, five communities are being displaced by the imposition of ‘environmental protection areas,’ environmental service costs, and carbon capture plans. In Candelaria, Campeche, the struggle continues for secure land tenure. In all three states there is aggressive criminalization against those who defend territory and natural resources.

 

The Tzotzil, Tzeltal, Tojolabal, Chol and Lacandón Maya People of Chiapas continue to be displaced from their territories due to the privatization of natural resources. This has resulted in the imprisonment and murder of those who defend their right to remain in their territory, as they are constantly discriminated against and repressed whenever they defend themselves and organize to continue building their autonomy, leading to increasing rates of human rights violations by police forces. There are campaigns to fragment and divide their organizations, as well as the murders of compañeros who have defended their territory and natural resources in San Sebastián Bachajon. The bad governments continue trying to destroy the organization of the communities that are EZLN bases of support in order to cast a shadow on the hope and light that they provide to the entire world.

 

The Mazateco people of Oaxaca have been invaded by private property claims which exploit the territory and culture for tourism purposes. This includes naming Huautla de Jimenéz as a “Pueblo Mágico” in order to legalize displacement and commercialize ancestral knowledge. This is in addition to mining concessions and foreign spelunking explorations in existing caves, all enforced by increased harassment by narcotraffickers and militarization of the territory. The bad governments are complicit in the increasing rates of femicide and rape in the region.

 

The Nahua and Totonaca peoples of Veracruz and Puebla are confronting aerial fumigation, which creates illnesses in the communities. Mining and hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation are carried out through fracking, and 8 watersheds are endangered by new projects that are contaminating the rivers.

 

The Nahua and Popoluca peoples from the south of Veracruz are under siege by organized crime and also risk territorial destruction and their disappearance as a people because of the threats brought by mining, wind farms, and above all, hydrocarbon exploitation through fracking.

 

The Nahua people, who live in the states of Puebla, Tlaxcala, Veracruz, Morelos, Mexico State, Jalisco, Guerrero, Michoacán, San Luis Potosí, and Mexico City, are in a constant struggle to stop the advance of the so-called Proyecto Integral Morelos, consisting of pipelines, aqueducts, and thermoelectric projects. The bad governments, seeking to stop the resistance and communication among the communities are trying to destroy the community radio of Amiltzingo, Morelos. Similarly, the construction of the new airport in Mexico City and the surrounding building projects threaten the territories around Texcoco lake and the Valle de México basin, namely Atenco, Texcoco, and Chimalhuacán. In Michocan, the Nahua people face the plunder of their natural resources and minerals by sicarios[hitmen] who are accompanied by police or the army, and also the militarization and paramilitarizaiton of their territories. The cost of trying to halt this war has been murder, persecution, imprisonment, and harassment of community leaders.

 

The Zoque People of Oaxaca and Chiapas face invasion by mining concessions and alleged private property claims on communal lands in the Chimalapas region, as well as three hydroelectric dams and hydrocarbon extraction through fracking. The implementation of cattle corridors is leading to excessive logging in the forests in order to create pastureland, and genetically modified seeds are also being cultivated there. At the same time, Zoque migrants to different states across the country are re-constituting their collective organization.

 

The Amuzgo people of Guerrero are facing the theft of water from the San Pedro River to supply residential areas in the city of Ometepec. Their community radio has also been subject to constant persecution and harassment.

 

The Rarámuri people of Chihuahua are losing their farmland to highway construction, to the Creel airport, and to the gas pipeline that runs from the United States to Chihuahua. They are also threatened by Japanese mining companies, dam projects, and tourism.

 

The Wixárika people of Jalisco, Nayarit, and Durango are facing the destruction and privatization of the sacred places they depend on to maintain their familial, social, and political fabric, and also the dispossession of their communal land in favor of large landowners who take advantage of the blurry boundaries between states of the Republic and campaigns orchestrated by the bad government to divide people.

 

The Kumiai People of Baja California continue struggling for the reconstitution of their ancestral territories, against invasion by private interests, the privatization of their sacred sites, and the invasion of their territories by gas pipelines and highways.

 

The Purépecha people of Michoacán are experiencing deforestation, which occurs through complicity between the bad government and the narcoparamilitary groups who plunder the forests and woods. Community organization from below poses an obstacle to that theft.

 

For the Triqui people of Oaxaca, the presence of the political parties, the mining industry, paramilitaries, and the bad government foment the disintegration of the community fabric in the interest of plundering natural resources.

 

The Chinanteco people of Oaxaca are suffering the destruction of their forms of community organization through land reforms, the imposition of environmental services costs, carbon capture plans, and ecotourism. There are plans for a four-lane highway to cross and divide their territory. In the Cajono and Usila Rivers the bad governments are planning to build three dams that will affect the Chinanteco and Zapoteca people, and there are also mining concessions and oil well explorations.

 

The Náyeri People of Nayarit face the invasion and destruction of their sacred territories by the Las Cruces hydroelectric project in the site called Muxa Tena on the San Pedro River.

 

The Yaqui people of Sonora continue their sacred struggle against the gas pipeline that would cross their territory, and in defense of the water of the Yaqui River, which the bad governments want to use to supply the city of Hermosillo, Sonora. This goes against judicial orders and international appeals which have made clear the Yaqui peoples’ legal and legitimate rights. The bad government has criminalized and harassed the authorities and spokespeople of the Yaqui tribe.

 

The Binizzá and Ikoot people organize to stop the advance of the mining, wind, hydroelectric, dam, and gas pipeline projects. This includes in particular the Special Economic Zone on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and the infrastructure that threatens the territory and the autonomy of the people on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec who are classified as the “environmental Taliban” and the “indigenous rights Taliban,” the precise words used by the Mexican Association of Energy to refer to the Popular Assembly of the Juchiteco People.

 

The Mixteco people of Oaxaca suffer the plunder of their agrarian territory, which also affects their traditional practices given the threats, deaths, and imprisonment that seek to quiet the dissident voices, with the bad government supporting armed paramilitary groups as in the case of San Juan Mixtepec, Oaxaca.

 

The Mixteco, Tlapaneco, and Nahua peoples from the mountains and coast of Guerrero face the imposition of mining megaprojects supported by narcotraffickers, their paramilitaries, and the bad governments, who fight over the territories of the originary peoples.

 

The Mexican bad government continues to lie, trying hide its decomposition and total responsibility for the forced disappearance of the 43 students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers College in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero.

 

The state continues to hold hostage: compañerosPedro Sánchez Berriozábal, Rómulo Arias Míreles, Teófilo Pérez González, Dominga González Martínez, Lorenzo Sánchez Berriozábal, and Marco Antonio Pérez González from the Nahua community of San Pedro Tlanixco in Mexico State; Zapotec compañero Álvaro Sebastián from the Loxicha region; compañeros Emilio Jiménez Gómez and Esteban Gómez Jiménez, prisoners from the community of Bachajón, Chiapas; compañeros Pablo López Álvarez and the exiled Raul Gatica García and Juan Nicolás López from the Indigenous and Popular Council of Oaxaca Ricardo Flores Magón. Recently a judge handed down a 33-year prison sentence to compañero Luis Fernando Sotelo for demanding that the 43 disappeared students from Ayotzinapa be returned alive, and to the compañeros Samuel Ramírez Gálvez, Gonzalo Molina González and Arturo Campos Herrera from the Regional Coordination of Community Authorities – PC. They also hold hundreds of indigenous and non-indigenous people across the country prisoner for defending their territories and demanding justice.

 

The Mayo people’s ancestral territory is threatened by highway projects meant to connect Topolobampo with the state of Texas in the United States. Ambitious tourism projects are also being created in Barranca del Cobre.

 

The Dakota Nation’s sacred territory is being invaded and destroyed by gas and oil pipelines, which is why they are maintaining a permanent occupation to protect what is theirs.

For all of these reasons, we reiterate that it our obligation to protect life and dignity, that is, resistance and rebellion, from below and to the left, a task that can only be carried out collectively. We build rebellion from our small local assemblies that combine to form large communal assemblies, ejidal assemblies, Juntas de Buen Gobierno [Good Government Councils], and coalesce as agreements as peoples that unite us under one identity. In the process of sharing, learning, and constructing ourselves as the National Indigenous Congress, we see and feel our collective pain, discontent, and ancestral roots. In order to defend what we are, our path and learning process have been consolidated by strengthening our collective decision-making spaces, employing national and international juridical law as well as peaceful and civil resistance, and casting aside the political parties that have only brought death, corruption, and the buying off of dignity. We have made alliances with various sectors of civil society, creating our own resources in communication, community police and self-defense forces, assemblies and popular councils, and cooperatives; in the exercise and defense of traditional medicine; in the exercise and defense of traditional and ecological agriculture; in our own rituals and ceremonies to pay respect to mother earth and continue walking with and upon her, in the cultivation and defense of native seeds, and in political-cultural activities, forums, and information campaigns.

This is the power from below that has kept us alive. This is why commemorating resistance and rebellion also means ratifying our decision to continue to live, constructing hope for a future that is only possible upon the ruins of capitalism.

Given that the offensive against the people will not cease, but rather grow until it finishes off every last one of us who make up the peoples of the countryside and the city, who carry profound discontent that emerges in new, diverse, and creative forms of resistance and rebellion, this Fifth National Indigenous Congress has decided to launch a consultation in each of our communities to dismantle from below the power that is imposed on us from above and offers us nothing but death, violence, dispossession, and destruction. Given all of the above, we declare ourselves in permanent assembly as we carry out this consultation, in each of our geographies, territories, and paths, on the accord of the Fifth CNI to name an Indigenous Governing Council whose will would be manifest by an indigenous woman, a CNI delegate, as an independent candidate to the presidency of the country under the name of the National Indigenous Congress and the Zapatista Army for National Liberation in the electoral process of 2018. We confirm that our struggle is not for power, which we do not seek. Rather, we call on all of the originary peoples and civil society to organize to put a stop to this destruction and strengthen our resistances and rebellions, that is, the defense of the life of every person, family, collective, community, or barrio. We make a call to construct peace and justice by reweaving ourselves from below, from where we are what we are.

This is the time of dignified rebellion, the time to construct a new nation by and for everyone, to strengthen power below and to the anticapitalist left, to make those who are responsible for all of the pain of the peoples of this multi-colored Mexico pay.

Finally, we announce the creation of the official webpage of the CNI: www.congresonacionalindigena.org

From CIDECI-UNITIERRA,

Chiapas, October 2016

For the Full Reconstitution of Our Peoples

Never Again a Mexico Without Us

National Indigenous Congress

Zapatista Army for National Liberation

Translation source: Enlace Zapatista

 

Breaking Free

A New Age Ghost Dance

Salish Sea Maritime

May 15th, 2016

By Jay Taber

 

Clean Energy

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As I noted in the introduction to Hijacking the Environmental Movement: Just Say No to 350, in 2011, when the oil industry tycoon Warren Buffett poured $26 million into TIDES foundation—funder of 350–he was making a strategic long-term investment in public relations (PR), while simultaneously scheming to cash in on the gullibility of young, impressionable activists.

Most recently, 350 has come out with new propaganda to mislead climate activists. As they did with the KXL charade and the fossil fuel divestment hoax, 350 is promoting ineffective disobedience as a means of diverting activist energy from reality-based social change that might actually threaten the 350 funders’ fossil fuel investments.

As a fossil fuel industry-financed organization, 350 is the most insidious Wall Street Trojan Horse since Avaaz and Purpose. The 350 followers, like most activists, are utterly clueless.

The 350 break free moral theatrics, as a follow-up to the college campus fossil fuel divestment fraud, is not going to shut down Pacific Northwest oil refineries any more than divestment was going to shut down the oil industry. Divestment made the oil industry more powerful, and the break free scheme is part of Wall Street’s clean energy scam to build nuclear power plants.

New Economy

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The ‘New Economy’ unveiled by the global financial elite at COP21 has two main components: 1. ‘clean energy’, and 2. ‘sustainable capitalism’. These, in turn, comprise two of the elements of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the 21st Century–a partnership project between Wall Street, the UN and international NGOs, i.e. Avaaz, Ceres, Purpose and 350.

The primary promoters of the ‘New Economy’, ‘clean energy’ and ‘sustainable capitalism’–that form the core of the UN SDGs–are Bill Gates, Jeremy Heimans (Avaaz & Purpose) and Bill McKibben (350). Economic development under the SDGs relies on financial investment from the World Bank, and compliance enforcement from the International Monetary Fund (IMF)–in partnership with Wall Street and regional investment banks.

The results of this ‘sustainable capitalism’ can already be seen in the form of mega-dams, mega-plantations, and mega-mining projects in South America, Africa and Asia. This industrial development–while profitable to the investors–has unfortunately resulted in major deforestation, toxic pollution of fresh water, and ethnic cleansing of Indigenous peoples who formerly called these territories home.

Adjacent to the mega-dams, mega-plantations, and mega-mines of the ‘New Economy’ are makeshift camps for the industrial laborers, as well as rural shanty towns for displaced farmers and fishermen. The Indigenous peoples–those that aren’t murdered by corporate security personnel working in tandem with the police and military–are frequently relocated to urban slums far away, where many die a slow death of poverty and substance abuse.

The mega-dams provide electricity for industry, including the processing of minerals from the mega-mines, as well as the GMO soy and palm oil produced on the mega-plantations. The ‘clean energy’ minerals include gold, copper, and lithium, which are used in consumer electronics, solar panels, wind mills, and batteries for electric vehicles. They also include coal, oil, and uranium that is used to fuel the electrical grids in countries such as France, Japan and the UK.

The ‘clean energy’ plan of the UN, Wall Street and NGOs–that championed the financial elite at COP21–relies on two primary projects: 1. a global nuclear power renaissance, and 2. privatization of Indigenous and public resources worldwide.

Enchanting as the chimera of clean energy might be, it doesn’t scale to meet energy demand, and its use by marketing agencies like Avaaz, Purpose and 350 is to perpetuate the misbelief that Wall Street — which caused all our social and environmental problems — is our only hope for salvation. Sort of a New Age Ghost Dance.

Bomb Trains

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The reason for the glut of Bakken crude now rolling into the March Point and Cherry Point refineries in Washington State goes back to 2012, when Obama opened up millions of acres for gas and oil in 23 states, ushering in the fracking boom that brought us the ‘bomb trains’ owned by Obama’s friend Warren Buffett since 2009, when he purchased Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF) for $34 billion–the same year TIDES Foundation funded 350.

In 2010, 350 launched the campaign to reject KXL; by 2014, crude-via-rail in the US soared to 500 thousand car loads per year, up from 5 thousand in 2008, with trains exploding across Canada and the US.

To refresh readers’ memories, the KXL ‘grassroots’ hoax was funded in large part by TIDES (flush with Buffett money) with 350 at the helm. Funds laundered through Buffett’s foundation NOVO and the TIDES Foundation — a money laundry used by Tar Sands investors and other elites to control NGOs — helped finance the KXL NGO charade, thus eclipsing any discussion about shutting down the Tar Sands, and making possible the explosive growth of bomb trains and other pipelines.

Divestment

dry powder play poster

When Klein and McKibben herded thousands of college students across America to fight climate change by forcing their schools to divest in fossil fuels, no one stopped to ask if that would make any difference. Using the emotive force of the idea of divestment as people power — based on an intentional association with its use in South Africa and Palestine — 350 inducted hypnotic behavior that omitted any critical judgment.

The fact that apartheid was opposed by a combination of boycott, divestment and sanction by national and international institutions in support of armed insurrection was lost on the climateers. Instead, they were hypnotized into believing that colleges selling back fossil fuel shares to Wall Street (where unscrupulous investors could then make a killing) was part of a magical social revolution. The same could apply to the nonsensical demand to end fossil fuels.

As a Wall Street shell game, the global fossil fuel divestment campaign — exposed by Cory Morningstar in Divestment as the Vehicle to Interlocking Globalized Capital — is a PR masterpiece.

As noted in the November 4, 2014 Harvard Business Review,

Were divestment ever to succeed in lowering the valuations of fossil fuel companies, an unintended consequence could be a shift from public markets to private markets… Such a shift could hurt transparency; companies that go private have minimal reporting obligations and they typically become very opaque. This could limit everyone’s ability to engage the management of these companies in a discussion around climate change.

As an indicator of the scale of fraud perpetrated by the divestment campaign led by 350, Exxon in 2014 spent $13.2 billion buying up its own stock. As I noted previously,

Discursive monoculture is the result of investment in private equity media, university endowments, and NGOs. The energy industry understands production and consumption cycles, and makes just as much on low prices as high. When the glut from fracking is burned up by frolicking consumers, they’ll double the price again, and make a killing on the divested shares.

Using hedge funds and other non-transparent private equity trading firms, the aristocracy – that is heavily invested in fossil fuels – is betting on increasing oil and gas consumption, long into the future. Corporate media rarely discusses the American aristocracy and how their agenda affects society. Consumers blame banks, but they have no idea how financial institutions are used by private equity traders to constantly replenish aristocratic wealth at our expense.

Private equity funds are not openly traded in any public stock exchange system, and therefore face considerably less regulatory oversight from institutions such as the Securities and Exchange Commission than their publicly traded counterparts.

Buying energy assets on the cheap as a result of fossil fuel divestment by universities and pension funds, investors such as Goldman Sachs Capital Partners “wield an immense amount of political influence” that divestment on college campuses helps to increase. While students celebrated divestment at their schools, private equity in 2015 raised $34 billion for oil and gas funds—a 94% rise from 2012.

Meanwhile, 350 promotes its ongoing Wall Street-funded revolution. As someone wise once said, “A half-truth is a whole lie.”

Tilting at Windmills

anthro 9

The kids mobilized by 350 don’t understand how they are being manipulated, but that’s the reality of the power elite behind the 350 hoaxes. They might get some token windmills and solar panels–which require fossil fuels to make, maintain, and replace–but those won’t come anywhere near to meeting the electrical demand now met by burning fossil fuels.

The funders of 350 know all this, which is why they finance 350 campaigns that don’t address the consumerism or militarism that drive fossil fuel demand. Instead, they promote the idea that Americans can continue consuming vast quantities of minerals for electricity and electronics, car and jet travel at the expense of the rest of the world. If the kids think Americans are going to tolerate them shutting down refineries, they are going to be unpleasantly surprised.

The oil trains are a problem that can be addressed as a public safety issue, but the refineries will still receive oil by ships and pipelines. Our society would collapse without it. Imagine no fossil-fueled shipping by air, land or sea of food, medicine, clothing or building materials. Where do they think their coffee, kayaks, bicycles, polar wear and yoga mats come from?

France went for fossil-free electricity, and they have nuclear power plants and radioactive waste instead. They have to invade African countries to get uranium, and now they have nuclear contamination to deal with. That’s the reality of breaking free.

 

Recommended viewing

Green Illusions

Recommended reading

A Culture of Imbeciles

Designer Protests and Vanity Arrests

The Society of the Spectacle

 

 

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

Earth Economics

Running with Bad Company

Public Good Project

May 6, 2016

By Jay Taber

Earth-Economics

Earth Economics–founded by Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard–is a partner with the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES), which is in turn 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.

Ceres Sachs Blood Mckibben

May, 2013: “CalSTRS CEO Jack Ehnes, Generation Investment Management Co-Founder David Blood (formerly of Goldman Sachs) 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.

As noted in The Social Capitalists–Part VIII of an investigative report documenting the corruption of the non-profit industrial complex by Wall Street–researcher Cory Morningstar revealed that one third of the CERES network companies are in the Fortune 500, and that since 2001, CERES has received millions from Wall Street corporations and foundations. Further, she observed that CERES president Mindy Lubber is a promoter of so-called “sustainable capitalism” at Forbes. Bill McKibben (founder of 350) was an esteemed guest of CERES conferences in both 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.

Fullerton_ PES _small

As reported in Axis of Evil, the 2016 Investor Summit on Climate Risk—co-hosted by CERES, the United Nations Foundation and the United Nations Office for Partnerships—focused on the ‘New Economy’ unveiled by the financial elite at COP21. The ‘New Economy’–promoted by CERES and the Wall Street-funded social media marketing agencies Avaaz, Purpose and 350—forms the core of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) promoted by Bill Gates, Jeremy Heimans (Avaaz & Purpose), and Bill McKibben (350). The ultimate target of the SDGs is the privatization of Indigenous and public resources worldwide.

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In Building Acquiescence for the Commodification of the Commons under the Banner of a “New Economy”—Part XII of Morningstar’s investigative report—she says, the goal to commodify the commons under what has come to be known as ‘payment for ecosystem services’ and ‘Natural Capital’ will look to the private sector for investment. “The scheme,” she remarks, “promises corporations, private investors and the world’s most powerful financial institutions both ownership and control (i.e. expansion of power) of Earth’s natural resources.”

Litovsky_ PES

“The implementation of payment for ecosystem services,” Morningstar observes, “will create the most spectacular opportunities that the financial sector has ever witnessed.” This new mechanism for generating profits for the wealthy, she says, represents “the commodification of most everything sacred,” and “the privatization and objectification of all biodiversity and living things that are immeasurable, above and beyond monetary measure”—a mechanism that, “will be unparalleled, irreversible and inescapable.”

Money Can Buy You Nature

In Hijacking the Environmental Movement, I wrote that the ‘New Economy’ privatization cheerleaders, i.e. 350, Avaaz and CERES, all have fundamental ties to Wall Street moguls and finance sector criminals, and are “currently pressing for changes in international law that would give the finance sector carte blanche in privatizing all of nature.” What this so-called ‘sustainable capitalism’ is in reality sustaining, I observed, “is totalitarian corporate control of world governance and human survival.” Earth Economics, initially founded by TIDES, is a key player in promoting this scheme.

earth economics 1

Earth Economics: “We Take Nature Into Account”

As I noted in Architects of the Final Solution, “For ubercapitalists like Bill Gates and their sycophants like William Jefferson Clinton, who promote the false hope of neoliberal globalization, terminating the collective ownership of indigenous nations in exchange for totalitarian corporate control of the planet’s resources is a dream coming true.”

Global Goals 11

 

 

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

Hijacking the Environmental Movement

Just Say No to 350

April 25, 2016

By Jay Taber

 

Introduction

When the oil industry tycoon Warren Buffett poured $26 million into TIDES foundation, he was making a strategic long-term investment in hijacking the environmental movement. Like the Rockefeller Brothers and Buffett’s close friend Bill Gates, they know how important it is public relations (PR) wise to appear as benefactors of humanity, while scheming to cash in on the gullibility of young, impressionable activists.

Financially compromised non-governmental organizations (NGOs), i.e. World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, and 350, promise the largest return on investment Wall Street has ever seen. While some international NGOs still take money directly from corporations, it is more effective to launder money through foundations, i.e. NoVo, TIDES, Gates, Ford and Rockefeller.

This investment induces self-censorship and fraud by NGOs that appear genuine to the public, while kowtowing to their Wall Street funders’ agenda. In terms of climate change activism, the funding by foundations like NoVo (Warren Buffett), TIDES (an oil industry money laundry) and the Rockefeller Brothers enables cons like the college campus fossil fuel divestment scam, in which 350 and friends function as ‘grassroots’ front groups.

350 began its dark career betraying the G77 at COP15 in 2009, and continued its shady dealings by sabotaging the 2010 Indigenous peoples’ climate conference in Bolivia, then proceeded to choreograph the KXL PR campaign, with funding from oil train magnate Warren Buffett, laundered through NoVo and TIDES. More recently, 350 has come out with new propaganda to mislead climate activists. As they did with the KXL charade and the fossil fuel divestment hoax, 350 will no doubt promote ineffective disobedience as a means of diverting activist energy from reality-based social change that might threaten the 350 funders’ fossil fuel investments.

As a fossil fuel industry-financed organization, 350 is the most insidious Wall Street Trojan Horse since Avaaz and Purpose. The 350 followers, like most activists, are utterly clueless.

Ten Top Donors to Tides

Just Say No to 350

When 350 targeted Bolivia and The Peoples Agreement on Climate Change for subversion in 2010, it was an act of aggression with roots in the 2009 attempted coup — funded by the U.S. State Department — in reaction to the 2008 constitutional revolution of Bolivia’s Indigenous peoples. The inspiration for the Indigenous uprising, that saw the world’s first Indigenous head of state elected, was the 2005 attempt at privatization of Bolivia’s water by the US-based Bechtel Corporation that foreshadowed the “new economy” promoted by 350 in 2014.

Next System New Economy

That “new economy” builds on other privatization schemes on a global scale; REDD and other carbon-market shell games, like fossil fuel divestment, are the ultimate institutionalization of the theft of public resources by the finance sector. The finance sector – that in 2008-2009 devastated the US and EU economies through loan fraud and bank bailouts – has now set its sights on privatizing all aspects of life on earth.

Cheerleading global privatization — enabled by UN agencies like the IMF and World Bank — are financier-sponsored NGOs like 350, Avaaz and Ceres–all of which have fundamental ties to Wall Street moguls and finance sector criminals. Having hijacked the environmental movement on behalf of Wall Street, these false fronts are currently pressing for changes in international law that would give the finance sector carte blanche in privatizing all of nature.

Global Goals 3 cropped

With the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – a threat to globalization – the finance sector immediately began co-opting the Indigenous peoples movement through foundation grants to compromised NGOs approved by the UN. These compromised NGOs and individuals are paid to legitimize the annihilation of Indigenous nations via UN agencies in partnership with Wall Street.

As Indigenous nations challenge Wall Street and the UN over globalization, compromised NGOs like 350 distort reality through social and mainstream media. The “new economy” they promote is essentially what used to be called fascism. While finance sector puppets like Naomi Klein charm gullible liberals with bromides and syllogisms about sustainability, what they are in reality sustaining is totalitarian corporate control of world governance and human survival.

KXL Hype

better place

The tribes that kept KXL out of their territories are understandably pleased by the momentary suspension of that pipeline project. Their illusory ‘victory’, however, requires that we temper the euphoria around the KXL rejection with a dose of reality. To not do so only sets up the naive to be hoodwinked again.

Delaying KXL does not halt the annihilation of the Athabaskan peoples, whose territory is a carcinogenic wasteland. It merely means the Tar Sands toxic bitumen will make its way to the Gulf of Mexico by other routes, which incidentally are already operating, making KXL redundant for now–the real reason for the celebrated KXL ‘rejection’.

The suspension of KXL coincides with a glut of oil reaching the Gulf, necessitating development of greater storage and terminal capacity there. That, and plans to develop pipeline and oil train terminal infrastructure on the West Coast of Canada and the Northwest US, is why KXL rejection no longer matters to oil exporters, but made Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and their Tar Sands pals a bundle.

The reason for the glut goes back to 2012, when Obama opened up millions of acres for gas and oil in 23 states, ushering in the fracking boom that brought us chemical injection aquifer contamination, and ‘bomb trains’ owned by Obama’s friend Warren Buffett since 2009, when he purchased Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF) for $34 billion–the same year Tides Foundation funded 350. In 2010, 350 launched the campaign to reject KXL; by 2014, crude-via-rail in the US soared to 500 thousand car loads per year, up from 5 thousand in 2008, with trains exploding across Canada and the US.

As noted in Railroading Racism, BNSF is embroiled in conflict with the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians that opposes Buffett’s bomb trains and associated oil train terminals in Washington State. BNSF has responded by helping fund Tea Party-led political action committees (PACs) deeply involved in promoting anti-Indian white supremacy.

To refresh readers’ memories, the KXL ‘grassroots’ hoax was funded in large part by Tides (flush with Buffett money) with 350 at the helm. Funds laundered through Buffett’s foundation NOVO and the Tides Foundation — a money laundry used by Tar Sands investors and other elites to control NGOs — helped finance the KXL NGO charade, thus eclipsing any discussion about shutting down the Tar Sands, and making possible the explosive growth of bomb trains and other pipelines.

As noted at Wrong Kind of Green, There Was Nothing Key About Keystone XLExcept Diverting Our Attention For More Dirty Profit. As noted at The Real News Network (TRNN), regardless of Keystone XL, Tar Sands Oil Will Still Flow to the Gulf.

Interestingly, the TRNN cover-up of the Klein/Buffett charade remains for the most part unexposed by all media other than CounterPunch. As I observed in April, Distorting Reality is what liberal gatekeepers like TRNN do. That’s why two-thirds of its ongoing operating revenue comes from the rich, i.e. Ford Foundation. Ford, Rockefeller, and Buffett essentially own the entire ‘grassroots’ KXL NGO milieu.

Charms of Naomi

Klein TIFF

Hypnotic induction — getting a person into a trance or state of increased suggestibility — during which critical faculties are reduced and subjects are more prone to accept suggestions, might help to describe the current fascination with Naomi Klein. While the popularly-expected cultural rituals of celebrity worship in America are familiar to anyone who watches television or reads People Magazine, its application to social media has become a powerful new tool of social engineering by Wall Street. The process of influencing a mass audience to respond reflexively to induced prompts — like marching in parades or flooding financial districts wearing the color blue — requires looking beyond the civil society fad of I-pad revolution, and examining modern social “movements” as cults. Icons like Klein are as interchangeable as Hollywood starlets, but mass hypnosis of social activists by Wall Street titans using foundation-funded NGOs is a troubling development.

When Klein and McKibben herded thousands of college students across America to fight climate change by forcing their schools to divest in fossil fuels, no one stopped to ask if that would make any difference. Using the emotive force of the idea of divestment as people power — based on an intentional association with its use in South Africa and Palestine — 350 inducted hypnotic behavior that omitted any critical judgment. The fact that apartheid was opposed by a combination of boycott, divestment and sanction by national and international institutions in support of armed insurrection was lost on the climateers. Instead, they were hypnotized into believing that colleges selling back fossil fuel shares to Wall Street (where unscrupulous investors could then make a killing) was part of a magical social revolution. The same could apply to the nonsensical demand to end fossil fuels.

The mystery of the KXL distraction, revealed by Cory Morningstar to be a choreographed hoax funded by Warren Buffett, is yet another example of hypnotic behavior absent critical judgment. As noted by Morningstar, the KXL protests and hoopla promoted by 350 made it possible for Buffett to develop an oil-by-rail empire, now threatening communities across North America with bomb trains, like the one that devastated the town of Lac Megantic, Quebec in 2013. As a diversion calculated to lessen effective opposition to fossil fuel export and over-consumption, seductive energy tales and celebrity-laden photo-ops in front of the White House substituted for popular education and political organizing. By the time Klein’s followers figure out they were duped into being Buffett’s pawns, he and his friend Bill Gates will have made a fortune shipping Tar Sands bitumen and Bakken Shale crude. For the present, the climateers have taken up poster-coloring and holding hands.

SusanRockefeller-2066-676x450

Susan Rockefeller, Co-Executive Producer of the “This Changes Everything” documentary film and founding partner of Louverture Films, LLC. Louverture is the production company for the documentary film “This Changes Everything” (with The Message Productions, LLC / Klein Lewis Productions ). Photo: Rockefeller at her home on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, New York, on Sept. 8, 2015. Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times) Further reading: Financing “The Message” Behind Naomi Klein’s ‘This Changes Everything’ Project

Klein’s aura, meanwhile, has taken on a life of its own. Having memorized her mantra This Changes Everything, climateers and other devotees are now all abuzz over her mesmerizing campaign against capitalism. No one asks how that meshes with Klein’s 350 being the darling of Warren Buffett and the Rockefeller Brothers, but suspension of disbelief is nothing new to Klein groupies. As gullible left-wing media begins yet another social media gossip fest over how far left the new incarnation of rhetorical revolutionary fervor might go, 350’s Blue Team and other Klein followers double down on dubious diversions. As Klein and her colleagues work feverishly in creating cover narratives that lefties can flog as insightful op-eds to coincide with the never-ending anti-capitalist revolutionary historic Rockefeller-financed 350 events, it is hard to avoid comparisons with George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth in his novel, 1984.

After the groupie chatter and celebrity banalities of climate week subsided, trite starlets like Klein carried on with their Wall Street-backed charades. The question is whether their adherents will reject the fantasy world of vapid luminaries become famous by stating blatantly obvious platitudes, or continue to be wowed by their cult-like mastery. For now, the hoax endures.

Clean Energy

mining2

“Clean” energy. Above: The Tampakan mining project for copper and gold (Mindanao island, southern Philippines). The push for solar and wind will ensure global copper markets (and many other mining projects of rare Earth minerals) will continue to expand – along with the further plundering of the planet. This mining project threatens to displace thousands of people and destroy 10,000 hectares which are home to rainforest and the source of five rivers. Security forces have committed atrocities against local B’laan indigenous communities which oppose the project. 

BDS against Israel, and formerly against South Africa, used the three-part formula of Boycott Divestment Sanction. Divestment, as used by 350, omits boycott and sanction, and limits divestment to meaningless, symbolic acts.

When it comes to the 350 agenda, they leave out the boycott of fossil fuels, and the sanction of fossil fuel corporations, and instead press for divestment by institutions like colleges and universities. All this divestment does is make once publicly-held shares available on Wall Street, which allows trading houses like Goldman Sachs to further consolidate their control of the industry.

BDS, when applied against apartheid states by other states and international institutions, includes cutting off access to finance, as well as penalties for crimes against humanity. What makes 350 so devious, is that they hijack public emotions (and ignorance) using phony “divestment” as a disorganizing tool to redirect activism away from effective work.

The inheritors of the Standard Oil fortune (Rockefeller Brothers) would not be funding 350 were they not thus disempowering their naive followers.

Enchanting as the chimera of clean energy might be, it doesn’t scale to meet energy demand, and its use by marketing agencies like Avaaz, Purpose and 350 is to perpetuate the misbelief that Wall Street — which caused all our social and environmental problems — is our only hope for salvation. Sort of a New Age Ghost Dance.

Consumerism as Activism

Consumption As Religion 5

The cult of consumerism, through which 350, Avaaz and Purpose adherents identify with their brand, is similar to religion, in that becoming a follower is an act of faith. By unquestioningly accepting the propaganda as truth, they form beliefs that comprise the doctrine supporting this ideology of false hope.

It is not unlike hierarchical religion, in that it is patronizing of the believers, who desire to remain infantile in their psychological and financial dependencies. Political illiteracy reinforces this relationship.

It is, to say the least, unhealthy.

YouTopia

The Syria Campaign Facebook PURPOSE Screenshot

Social engineering in the digital age is amazingly simple for those who have the money and media at their disposal. Wall Street’s Mad Men can easily herd millions of progressives via social media to support catastrophic environmental policy, war, and crimes against humanity. Sold as conservation, “humanitarian intervention”, or development, globalization can then be marketed as a progressive choice, albeit leading to totalitarian corporate control of all life.

The driving force behind privatization through social engineering is the non-profit industrial complex, funded by Wall Street derivatives, and disbursed through tax-exempt foundation grants. Hundreds of millions have been invested by these foundations in the last decade to convince progressives that war is peace, conformity is unity, and capitulation is resistance.

Slogans like “350”, “New Economy”, and “Sustainable Capitalism” are promoted by Mad Men via foundation-funded front groups, and echoed by media, thus generating enough noise to overwhelm critical judgement. Symbols that appeal to progressives’ emotional vulnerabilities, like rising sun logos used to symbolize hope and change, are recycled to mean “This Changes Everything”, thus creating the impression that neoliberal reform is socialist revolution.

Privatization Strategy

Global Goals -PrivateProperty

World Business Council for Sustainable Development 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.

A partner of WBCSD is Ceres (Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies), whose funders are associated with Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America. Ceres and 350 are funded in part by TIDES, whose largest donor is NoVo–Warren Buffet’s private foundation.

Recently, WBCSD launched another initiative to privatize ecosystems — Natural Infrastructure for Business — and to capitalize on the Breakthrough Energy Coalition boondoggle hyped by the financial elite at COP21.

The privatization of public process and policy — which led to economic collapse in the US, and bank bailouts from the U.S. Treasury that eviscerated the general welfare — is now being enacted at the UN.

The Clean Energy Ponzi Scheme and the ‘new economy‘ — false hope marketed for the financial elite by Havas, Avaaz and 350 — now has its sights set on privatizing the planet.

Fossil Fuel Divestment

Investment Choices

As a Wall Street shell game, the global fossil fuel divestment campaign — exposed by Cory Morningstar in Divestment as the Vehicle to Interlocking Globalized Capital — is a PR masterpiece.

As noted in the November 4, 2014 Harvard Business Review,

Were divestment ever to succeed in lowering the valuations of fossil fuel companies, an unintended consequence could be a shift from public markets to private markets… Such a shift could hurt transparency; companies that go private have minimal reporting obligations and they typically become very opaque. This could limit everyone’s ability to engage the management of these companies in a discussion around climate change.

As an indicator of the scale of fraud perpetrated by the divestment campaign led by 350, Exxon in 2014 spent $13.2 billion buying up its own stock. As I noted previously,

Discursive monoculture is the result of investment in private equity media, university endowments, and NGOs. The energy industry understands production and consumption cycles, and makes just as much on low prices as high. When the glut from fracking is burned up by frolicking consumers, they’ll double the price again, and make a killing on the divested shares.

Using hedge funds and other non-transparent private equity trading firms, the aristocracy – that is heavily invested in fossil fuels – is betting on increasing oil and gas consumption, long into the future. Corporate media rarely discusses the American aristocracy and how their agenda affects society. Consumers blame banks, but they have no idea how financial institutions are used by private equity traders to constantly replenish aristocratic wealth at our expense.

Private equity funds are not openly traded in any public stock exchange system, and therefore face considerably less regulatory oversight from institutions such as the Securities and Exchange Commission than their publicly traded counterparts.

Buying energy assets on the cheap as a result of fossil fuel divestment by universities and pension funds, investors such as Goldman Sachs Capital Partners “wield an immense amount of political influence” that divestment on college campuses helps to increase. While students celebrated divestment at their schools, private equity in 2015 raised $34 billion for oil and gas funds—a 94% rise from 2012.

Meanwhile, 350 promotes its ongoing Wall Street-funded revolution. As someone wise once said, “A half-truth is a whole lie.”

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

YouTopia

Public Good Project

February 15, 2016

by Jay Taber

 

mad men 2

 

In Pathways to Spectacle: Consumerism as “Activism”, I noted that the cult of consumerism — through which international NGOs like 350, Avaaz and Purpose adherents identify with their brand — is similar to religion, in that becoming a follower is an act of faith. By unquestioningly accepting NGO propaganda as truth, these followers form beliefs that comprise the doctrine supporting this ideology of false hope.

Social engineering in the digital age is amazingly simple for those who have the money and the media at their disposal. Wall Street’s Mad Men can easily herd millions of progressives via social media to support catastrophic environmental policy, war, and crimes against humanity. Sold as conservation, “humanitarian intervention”, or development, globalization can then be marketed as a progressive choice, albeit leading to totalitarian corporate control of all life.

The driving force behind privatization through social engineering is the non-profit industrial complex, funded by Wall Street derivatives, and disbursed through tax-exempt foundation grants. Hundreds of millions have been invested by these foundations in the last decade to convince progressives that war is peace, conformity is unity, and capitulation is resistance.

YouTopia: A Documentary About Social Engineering in the Digital Age — a SIRIUS VIDEO project of the Situationist Art Collective* — needs public support to begin production. If you would like to be a part of providing seed money to take this vital message from the storyboard to the screen, please contact us.

*(affiliated with Public Good Project)

 

 

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

Don’t Put a Price Tag on Nature

Take Part

March 11, 2016

by Richard Conniff 

 

The ‘ecosystem services’ idea devalues the natural world by trying to monetize it.

(Photo: Lena Trindade/Brazil Photos/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Not too long ago, Mexican free-tailed bats seemed like a perfect example of how conservationists could use the “ecosystem services” idea to save the natural world. These bats feed on insect pests in the Southwestern United States, and researchers have calculated that they provide a benefit to cotton farmers that was at one point worth about $24 million a year.

It would, of course, have taken a miracle worker to get the farmers to pay for a service they had always gotten for free. But before that could happen, technology and market forces intervened: BT cotton, a strain of cotton genetically modified to produce the insecticide BT, came on the market. The BT took over the job of controlling insect pests on cotton farms, and suddenly the free-tailed bats were like buggy-whip makers in the automotive age or newspaper reporters today. The value of their services plummeted by 80 percent.

Cases like this have led a lot of biologists to wonder, as the title of a recent article in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution put it, “Have Ecosystem Services Been Oversold?” These critics increasingly question the validity of the entire ecosystem services movement on practical and moral grounds. They ask, among other things: What happens when technological and market forces make the services a species provides, and thus the species itself, seem worthless? Is it even right to monetize and in some cases privatize nature, the ultimate public good?

The questions are worth asking because the ecosystem services idea is a movement, beloved by many conservation organizations, and the subject so far of more than 15,000 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals. Schemes to pay for ecosystem services, such as REDD, are also a big deal in global financial markets. You might think REDD is a brand of apple ale with really stupid television advertising. But it’s an international program, arguably overhyped, called Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Forest Degradation.

The idea behind REDD is twofold: Forests sequester carbon, harbor biodiversity, and otherwise provide ecosystem services. So why not get corporations, governments, and others to pay to protect those services, if only to offset their own carbon emissions or earn public relations bonus points? Thus Norway, a leader in the movement, has pledged $3 billion under REDD schemes to protect threatened tropical forests in Brazil, Indonesia, and other countries. This is serious money being put to work to protect natural resources, so you can understand why conservation groups might love the idea.

But much as was the case with the free-tailed bats, “there are no markets for many of the goods and services that ecosystems provide,” Jonathan Silvertown, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Edinburgh, points out in the “Oversold” article. The solution for ecosystem services proponents, he writes, has typically been to “invent a market” like the REDD scheme for carbon credits. Or they “pretend there is a market” and ask people how they would value ecosystem services in hypothetical situations. But “make-believe markets” are highly likely to fail when people are otherwise, he writes.

But make-believe markets are highly likely to fail when people are otherwise relentlessly focused on nickel-and-dime realities. The market mentality also degrades nature by attempting to turn it into a commodity. “People are not allowed to sell their organs or their children,” Silvertown writes, citing the 2012 book What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets. “These have intrinsic value that is beyond price.” That’s true of species and habitats too.

The attempt to sell nature went spectacularly wrong for the government of British Prime Minister David Cameron. When he came to power in 2010, he pushed to sell off the roughly 1,000 square miles of forest that until then had been owned and protected by the national Forestry Commission. The ecosystem services idea seemed to offer the new government a bright, shiny “technocratic rationale for the deployment of its natural capital,” Silvertown writes, with the added likelihood of putting bright, shiny millions into government coffers.

Some conservation groups went along, “taking the view that it is regulation” of the forests “and not ownership that matters.” But Cameron, a conservative, was slashing regulations at the same time. The response from the British public was furious. It turned out that no amount of money could make up for what it perceived as the loss of its forests, and no amount of monetizing could capture the value of simply being able to walk in the woods. Cameron quickly backed down, with one government source describing the whole idea as “a cock-up,” or what Americans might call a FUBAR: “We just did not think.”

So, let’s think. Where does all this leave the ecosystem services idea? Trying to “unbundle” all the things we get from the natural world and put a price on them cheapens nature, and it cheapens us. The people who first developed the idea in the mid-20th century meant that conservation could benefit from showing people how their lives depend, in all sorts of unseen ways, on the natural world: Intact wetlands save downstream cities from flooding, coastal marshes serve as nursing grounds for offshore fisheries, and that air you breathe? Yes, it’s an ecosystem service, provided by healthy forests and obscure ocean microorganisms.

This is the only sense in which the ecosystem services idea deserves to live—as a constant reminder of how utterly we all depend on the priceless blessings of the natural world.

 

 

[Richard Conniff is the author of House of Lost Worlds: Dinosaurs, Dynasties, and the Story of Life on Earth, and other books.]

Pathways to Spectacle | Consumerism as “Activism”

Wrong Kind of Green

February 7, 2016

by Jay Taber

 

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

 

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“Tesla’s Model S is powering our US-based Save Our Swirled Tour, aimed at bringing climate action – and free ice cream! – to people’s doors all across the country in partnership with Avaaz.” — Ben & Jerry’s Website, May 27, 2015

 

Consumption As Religion 5

Bottom Illustration: “To Change Everything, We Need Everyone” illustration. Source: Ben & Jerry’s website.

Ben & Jerry’s (Unilever) is in partnership with United Nations, 350.org, Avaaz and BICEP (a coalition of more than 20 leading consumer brand corporations created by divestment campaign partner Ceres). Campaigns include Save Our Swirled campaign and the recent Pathway to Paris campaign. Ben & Jerry’s is also a client of the Avaaz sister organization, Purpose Inc. – the for-profit marketing firm.

 

Pathways to Spectacle

“Purpose also has roots in Avaaz.org a global movement boasting 25 million subscribers worldwide, which Jeremy co-founded. We work with partners with a social mission, ranging from the ACLU to Ben & Jerry’s, to inspire mass participation and build movements for social change.” — Forging Ahead with the Food Revolution, September 26, 2013

Pathway to paris ben & jerrys
PathwayToParis_2016_Poster_Web_v7

 

The cult of consumerism, through which 350, Avaaz and Purpose adherents identify with their brand, is similar to religion, in that becoming a follower is an act of faith. By unquestioningly accepting the propaganda as truth, they form beliefs that comprise the doctrine supporting this ideology of false hope.

It is not unlike hierarchical religion, in that it is patronizing of the believers, who desire to remain infantile in their psychological and financial dependencies. Political illiteracy reinforces this relationship.

It is, to say the least, unhealthy.

 

“As the lead developer, you will be joining a startup team of hyper-committed food-interested people evangelizing a better food system through an exceptionally beautiful user experience.” — Purpose job posting for a Lead Developer for “The Food Movement” – a Purpose Start-up/ Incubation

 

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YouTopia

Social engineering in the digital age is amazingly simple for those who have the money and media at their disposal. Wall Street’s Mad Men can easily herd millions of progressives via social media to support catastrophic environmental policy, war, and crimes against humanity. Sold as conservation, “humanitarian intervention”, or development, globalization can then be marketed as a progressive choice, albeit leading to totalitarian corporate control of all life.

The driving force behind privatization through social engineering is the non-profit industrial complex, funded by Wall Street derivatives, and disbursed through tax-exempt foundation grants. Hundreds of millions have been invested by these foundations in the last decade to convince progressives that war is peace, conformity is unity, and capitulation is resistance.

 

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Slogans like “350”, “New Economy”, and “Sustainable Capitalism” are promoted by Mad Men via foundation-funded front groups, and echoed by media, thus generating enough noise to overwhelm critical judgement. Symbols that appeal to progressives’ emotional vulnerabilities, like rising sun logos used to symbolize hope and change, are recycled to mean “This Changes Everything”, thus creating the impression that neoliberal reform is socialist revolution.

 

Coming soon: YouTopia: A Documentary About Social Engineering in the Digital Age

 

Further Reading:

 

 

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

 

Meet the Two Brothers Making Millions Off the Refugee Crisis in Scandinavia

Hero Norway’s for-profit model offers lodging for asylum seekers

Bloomberg Businessweek

January 6, 2016

By Bill Donahue

“Brad Henderson of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees notes that in recent months NGO care providers have frequently collaborated with for-profits to meet the needs of asylum seekers, stepping in to provide phone and Internet service, as well as to charter flights from Syria and elsewhere.”

It’s a scene that could possibly warm even the two-sizes-too-small heart of the Grinch. Here in a little village in Norway, as dusky midday light filters in through the forest outside a classroom, a half-dozen Afghan teenagers hunch over a long wooden table, assiduously scissoring colored sheets of construction paper. These are 15- to 18-year-old boys who’ve endured miseries no child deserves—gunfire, explosions, the killing of a parent by Islamic State—and they’ve traveled here from their homeland on foot and in suffocatingly crowded vans. They sneaked through the woods on the Turkey-Bulgaria border, and they’ve been chased and bitten by police dogs and beaten by their smugglers. Now they’re celebrating Christmas and inscribing cards with some of the very first Norwegian words they’ve learned: God Jul. Merry Christmas.

Are they happy to be here?

“It is calm and peaceful,” says Bilal, 15, in Pashto.

“It is nice,” says Ahmad, also 15, “but why isn’t there a cricket pitch?”

In Rade, refugees registered this December to receive clothing, food, and health care, before getting transferred to Arendal
In Rade, refugees registered this December to receive clothing, food, and health care, before getting transferred to Arendal, three-and-a-half hours away by bus.
Photographer: Espen Rasmussen for Bloomberg Businessweek

Their middle-aged teachers—a Syrian and an Eritrean, both onetime refugees themselves—hover over them, benevolent, smiling, as a commuter train rattles in the distance. This, arguably, is the Scandinavia that the self-proclaimed socialist presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was referring to in October when he suggested that Americans “should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished”—particularly when it comes to government programs that assist those in need.

Except there’s this other guy in the room, standing off to the side, almost invisible as he handles incoming e-mail on his smartphone. Kristian Adolfsen, 55, wears a V-neck sweater, a striped button-down, and glasses. This is his first visit to this refugee center in Hvalstad, but he owns the operation with his brother, Roger, 51, and they run 90 such centers in Norway and 10 more in Sweden. Refugees represent a huge opportunity for them; the Adolfsens’ Oslo-based company, Hero Norway, is the leader of a burgeoning Scandinavian industry that charges the Norwegian and Swedish governments a fixed fee—$31 to $75 per person per night in Norway—to house and feed refugees.

Bloomberg Businessweek cover, Jan. 11, 2016
Featured in Bloomberg Businessweek, Jan. 11, 2016. Subscribe now.
Photographer: Espen Rasmussen for Bloomberg Businessweek

In Norway, Hero operates several different kinds of refugee lodging, among them short-stay dormitories where asylum seekers sleep a few nights, waiting to be screened by police after crossing the border; a second phalanx of facilities where refugees wait a couple of weeks to be interviewed by immigration officials, taking their meals in a cafeteria; and longer-term camps where they live more independently, in detached houses, cooking their own meals, as they wait, often for years, to be settled in Norway with protected refugee status.

For 2015, Hero Norway expects revenue of $63 million, with profits of 3.5 percent. In the rest of Europe, where asylum seekers typically are cared for by nongovernmental organizations such as the Red Cross, only one for-profit is larger than the Adolfsens’ operation, ORS Services, a Swiss company that in 2014 generated $99 million in profit caring for refugees in Switzerland, Austria, and Germany. (ORS won’t disclose its 2015 profits.)

The Adolfsens have succeeded in part because they have a background in hospitality. In the three decades since they founded Adolfsen Group, Kristian and Roger have built an $800 million-a-year network of businesses that includes preschools and nursing homes, as well as hotels, apartment buildings, cruise lines, and ski resorts. The two entered the refugee sector in May 2014, when they paid a Danish company, ISS Facility Services, $22 million for Hero Norway, a 27-year-old company that ran 32 refugee centers.

A country of 5 million, Norway received more than 31,500 asylum seekers in 2015.

At first the Adolfsens set their sights on Sweden. Almost immediately, though, refugee arrivals in Norway exploded, and they’ve kept arriving since. A country of 5 million people—a relatively sleepy, snow-clad, 1,600-mile-long, lutefish-eating kingdom that had never seen more than 17,000 refugees in a single year—received more than 31,500 asylum seekers in 2015 as Syria continued to fall apart and wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Eritrea drove refugees to Europe. The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) can’t cope with the influx, so it’s turning to entrepreneurs, desperately, lest more refugees sleep in the streets. “UDI calls for capitalists,” blared a recent headline in Oslo’s Aftenposten newspaper.

For-profits now care for about 90 percent of Norway’s refugees. A gold rush has commenced, and it’s also a bit of a circus. Just outside Oslo, a savvy entrepreneur named Ola Moe recently rented a vacant hospital for $10,000 a month, did minimal upgrades, and began charging the government $460,000 a month to house and feed 200 refugees. At a refugee center in Southern Norway, 50 resident asylum seekers went on a two-hour march in November to protest the poor food, prompting one politician, an Iranian Norwegian named Mazyar Keshvari, to proclaim, “These ungrateful people should immediately leave the country.”

Amid such controversy, the Adolfsens appear like poised professionals. In press photographs, they flash can-do smiles as they sit before gleaming conference tables in airy office towers. One Oslo paper, Dagens Naeringsliv, has called them “Norway’s least known billionaires.” Yet concerns remain. In their monetization of the refugee crisis, will the Adolfsens provide superior, more efficient havens, or will they cut corners and skimp on services to improve profits? And does their bottom-line approach threaten a depth of caring that transcends hard cash?

The Hero facility in Valdres was a hotel until 1999, when it was converted to refugee housing.
The Hero facility in Valdres was a hotel until 1999, when it was converted to refugee housing. Here the company offers displaced families shelter for months, even years.
Photographer: Espen Rasmussen for Bloomberg Businessweek

Kristian and Roger grew up in Northern Norway, a sparsely peopled region imbued with a provincial, gloomy, Southern Rock vibe. Moonshine is popular there, along with fishing and hunting, and the Adolfsen brothers pride themselves on speaking a northern dialect, which Kristian says “is filled with swear words—not bad ones, but you know, stuff like ‘devil hell.’?” Their hometown of Andenes, population 3,500, situated on Andoya Island, is so windy there are almost no trees. Their father, Kolbjorn, an engineer, worked days at the Andoya Space Center, launching rockets to study the northern lights. In the evening, he ran a TV sales and repair shop. Eventually he built a hotel. “A lot of people in Norway have cabins,” says Kristian. “Our second home was the TV shop. That’s where we saw our father.”

When Kristian was 5, he began selling the local newspaper, the Andoya Avis. At 7, he got involved with the production of a Northern Norway ocean delicacy, cod tongue. It was his job each winter afternoon to jab hundreds of cod down onto a metal spike, one by one, before lopping off the fish’s tongues with a knife. “As soon as the last bell rang at school,” he says, “I began sprinting. You had to be the first on the pier. There were only so many fish.” He cut quickly, running behind his wheelbarrow in the 10F to 15F air to fetch loads of fish. After three hours, he’d spend three more selling cod tongues door to door. “But that wasn’t so bad,” he says, “because then you could wear gloves.”

Kristian and Roger Adolfsen at their office in Oslo.
Kristian (left) and Roger Adolfsen at their office in Oslo. The brothers own Hero Norway.
Photographer: Espen Rasmussen for Bloomberg Businessweek

Roger stayed out of the cod tongue industry (by the time he came of age, his mother was weary of living in a household smelling of fish), but he soon followed his brother into competitive running and cross-country skiing. The brothers served as delivery boys, Kristian carrying groceries on his sled and Roger baked goods. Both worked as salesmen in the TV shop, and during the late 1970s—as Norwegian conservative Kare Willoch rose to power, eventually becoming prime minister in 1981—the brothers grew infectiously excited over his staunch opposition to the social democratic state that took root in Norway after World War II.

Kristian and Roger ran for the Andenes City Council as teenagers. Both won seats and fought for the privatization of road services and garbage pickup in Andenes. “My first speech was about privatizing the road grading,” Kristian says. “I spent hours writing and correcting many times what I would say. I tried to memorize every word.”

When the Adolfsens made their first major business move in 1991, purchasing the 44-room Andrikken Hotel in Andenes, the gesture had an almost holy resonance: They were buying the very hotel their father had built. In 1981, Kolbjorn had lost the business to bankruptcy. But he kept its giant sign in his basement. It depicted a long-necked duck flying into the midnight sun. The brothers rehung it—then staffed the hotel with old friends from Andenes, establishing a tone. “We have a coast culture in our companies,” Kristian says. “We are professional but informal, and we base everything on trust. When you grow up in a small place, you can’t do anything wrong. You get a bad reputation.”

Over the next decade, the Adolfsens built Norlandia Hotel Group, which now manages about 30 establishments, many of them Best Westerns, throughout Norway and Sweden. As the Norwegian government started allowing private companies to make money on social welfare work, they ventured into nursing homes, then preschools. “We are like sportsmen,” Kristian says calmly and clinically, explaining his and Roger’s drive. “We set goals, and then we reach our goals, and then we have to set new goals. It is not about the money. It is about the excitement.”

Europe’s refugee crisis has been bubbling since the Arab Spring of 2011. When it boiled over last summer, many Norwegians traveled to Lesbos, Greece, on the edge of the Aegean Sea to help refugees land their boats in Europe. They set up tents, served food, and offered trauma counseling. Back in Norway, groups such as Refugees Welcome to Norway supplied the newcomers with clothes and toys as other volunteers taught them to knit. The Adolfsens, meanwhile, enlisted an aide to cast about Norway’s hinterlands for abandoned or little-used properties: defunct boarding schools, onetime rehab centers, hospitals, mountain hotels that go dead in autumn—any and all structures where refugees could be housed temporarily or permanently at a profit. As Roger tended to other aspects of the Adolfsens’ business, Kristian expanded the refugee services. “We see it as a niche in the health and care industry,” he says.

On Norway’s political left, the Adolfsens are regarded as distasteful and greedy, especially by Linn Herning, deputy director of Norway’s Campaign for the Welfare State and the author of a 2015 book, Velferdsprofitorene (The Welfare Profiteers), which traces the gradual expansion since the late 1990s of entrepreneurs in Norway’s preschools and nursing homes. The cover features detailed, anatomically correct drawings of creepy insects—parasites—and Herning devotes several pages to the Adolfsens, who, she says, are “the biggest players, the only welfare profiteers in every sector.” In early December, she helped Norway’s Socialist Party and Social Democratic Party call in Parliament for a study looking into the feasibility of banning profiteering in refugee care.

Asylum seekers play billiards at the Hero reception center in Valdres.
Asylum seekers play billiards at the Hero reception center in Valdres.
Photographer: Espen Rasmussen for Bloomberg Businessweek

Still, Herning could point to only one specific example of the Adolfsens’ supposed treachery. In the small Norwegian city of Moss, an hour south of Oslo, Orkerod, a respected, publicly owned, 88-bed nursing home for dementia patients, went into tumult after the Adolfsens’ Norlandia Care Group began managing it in 2014. “The focus on specialized dementia care disappeared,” says Lorentz Nitter, the clinic’s lead doctor until he quit in June. “Such care is very expensive,” about $125,000 annually per person, he says, “and Norlandia didn’t want to pay for it.” When highly paid nurses trained in dementia work quit, Norlandia replaced them with cheaper nonspecialists. “They began treating all patients the same way,” Nitter says, and this was dangerous. About 30 percent of all dementia patients are “aggressive,” he says, “and they walk around causing many problems.”

In Orkerod’s first 12 months under Norlandia’s guidance, 19 nurses quit. In a recent op-ed in Moss Avis, Nitter joined two other Orkerod doctors in complaining that the clinic’s excellence, built over its first 13 years of operation, had been “torn down in a single year.”

Kristian denies that the quality of the service at Orkerod declined and argues that departed staffers were disgruntled simply because Norlandia shook them from long-standing work habits. “These were people who’d been there for many years,” he says. “They were used to doing things their way, and then we made changes. It’s a lot more demanding to work for a private company because we focus on providing better quality at lower prices.”

Clothes are handed out to new arrivals at Rade. The clothes the refugees are wearing have to be put into a freezer for 48 hours.
Clothes are handed out to new arrivals at Rade. The clothes the refugees are wearing have to be put into a freezer for 48 hours.
Photographer: Espen Rasmussen for Bloomberg Businessweek

Could Norwegian refugee centers suffer similar changes? It’s apparently already happened. From 2006 to 2014, as reported in the Oslo paper Ny Tid, one of Norway’s largest for-profit refugee care providers, Link, habitually broke binding budget promises to the Norwegian government. In 2014, Link, which operates 14 refugee centers, signed on to a budget that would cap its profits at $230,000. By skimping on promised services—child care, for instance, homework help, and the supervision of people with disabilities—it ended up $1.15 million in the black.

Ny Tid’s figures came from an anonymous source within UDI, a 20-year veteran at the agency. When I met with this man, he said of Link, “Every year they overestimate what services will cost them. That is how the game is played, and if new operators don’t understand that, they’re going down.” Hallstein Saunes, the leader for Link’s refugee centers, disputes the figures presented by Ny Tid, calling the paper’s interpretation of them “misleading” and saying that Link didn’t skimp on social services. Rather, he says, it saved elsewhere—on utilities, for instance. “Our aim,” he says, “is to operate good reception centers within the financial framework of our agreements as we develop the company and contribute towards solving an important task in our society.”

UDI’s monitoring of corruption is minimal, according to the UDI source. “We can only concentrate on opening new refugee centers,” he said. He had no special knowledge on Hero Norway, but in discussing the company, he was uncharacteristically sunny. “They’ve been a good partner for UDI,” he said. “They’re very flexible. When we need them to expand, they do. It’s easy.”

“We need Hero, and it’s totally illogical to say they can’t make profits.”

Brad Henderson of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees notes that in recent months NGO care providers have frequently collaborated with for-profits to meet the needs of asylum seekers, stepping in to provide phone and Internet service, as well as to charter flights from Syria and elsewhere. He’s carefully optimistic about the profiteers. They can “create a long-lasting, mutually beneficial partnership with UNHCR if they can be aligned to shared goals and values,” says Henderson, who is UNHCR’s European lead on fostering relations with for-profits. “They can bring new ideas and vital energy to the refugee cause.”

It’s not clear whether others will embrace or reject the Adolfsens’ refugee riches, but several insiders predict that Norway’s Parliament will allow refugee entrepreneurs to continue but will cap their earnings. “I wish we could operate with only NGOs and municipalities running refugee centers,” says Marte Gerhardsen, the director of Oslo-based Tankesmien Agenda, a think tank closely aligned with Norway’s Labor Party, “but right now, right here, we need Hero, and it’s totally illogical to say they can’t make profits. That would be like Prohibition in America—it won’t work.” She adds, “we do need to regulate them, though.” Gerhardsen argues that private operators be limited to a 3 percent profit margin. The Adolfsens claim that theirs is 3.5 percent, but Herning calls that figure “highly unlikely. All the other refugee companies that I’ve looked at have a much higher profit margin.” She says that in handling revenue from nursery schools and nursing homes, the Adolfsens have played a shell game, shifting profits from one business within their conglomerate to another. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they were doing that for Hero as well,” she says.

Mikal Tedros, 19, and her siblings Bethelhim, 12, Evenezer, 8, and Salina, 17, from Eritrea, in their room at the Refstad reception center in Oslo. Mikal takes care of her sisters and brother, and they have been staying at the center for a month.
Mikal Tedros, 19, and her siblings Bethelhim, 12, Evenezer, 8, and Salina, 17, from Eritrea, in their room at the Refstad reception center in Oslo. Mikal takes care of her sisters and brother, and they have been staying at the center for a month.
Photographer: Espen Rasmussen for Bloomberg Businessweek

It’s 2 p.m. on another Norwegian afternoon, and Kristian and I are driving south out of Oslo in his Porsche SUV. The car is new, with only 2,800 miles on it, but Kristian is fast to point out that he got a huge tax credit; the car is a hybrid.

“We live like normal people,” he says. “I have a regular house and a mountain apartment and cabin, but for all these I paid less than 10 million kroner,” about $1.1 million. “I have never hired a nanny. My brother and me, we just take small salaries”—about $230,000 a year. “We work too hard to spend the money.”

Rich people always say things like this, of course, but coming from Kristian, the humble talk is somewhat believable. For a man who could reasonably cast himself as the Donald of Norway, he’s a remarkably bland and polite presence, even by taciturn Norwegian standards. When we confer with the heads of three refugee centers, he scarcely speaks. He doesn’t harry anyone, and he asks very few questions. His focus seems far away, ensconced in a netherworld of ledgers and spreadsheets.

He and Roger are almost monklike in their devotion to business. Both work about 70 hours a week, following achingly methodical routines. “Monday to Thursday,” Kristian says, “I work in my office at home until 1 a.m. I leave for work between 7:20 and 7:25. When I am on vacation, I work for an hour in the morning and an hour at night.”

Adnan Mousa, responsible for the stock of clothing at Rade, and Kari-Anne Andersen, community worker at Hero, organize clothing that is handed out to newly arrived refugees.
Adnan Mousa, responsible for the stock of clothing at Rade, and Kari-Anne Andersen, community worker at Hero, organize clothing that is handed out to newly arrived refugees.
Photographer: Espen Rasmussen for Bloomberg Businessweek

Neither brother has smoked a cigarette or tasted alcohol, and in 2011, when Kristian crumpled to the ground while running a half-marathon, stricken by a heart attack that stilled his pulse for 10 minutes, he didn’t resolve to slow down. Rather, as he lay recovering in a public hospital, he stewed over its inefficiencies. “The building was very old, and the highly paid nurses spent hours walking the corridors, serving food,” he says. “I thought, You could sell the building for apartments and use the money to build a new hospital with better logistics.”

Right now, we’re driving to Hero Norway’s biggest refugee center, in Rade near the Swedish border. In recent weeks up to 1,200 new arrivals have crowded into a vacated supermarket, living in indoor tents as they wait for interviews with the Norwegian border police. I feel like I’m descending into the maw of history. I’m aware now of all the wars, the bloodshed, the human struggle that have brought so many to remote Rade, which is little more than a scattering of ugly chain stores by the highway. Kristian’s remarks drift toward the international only once, however: when he thrills over a new app, SayHi, which translates spoken words into more than 100 languages. “It will save so much money,” he says.

Next year, Hero Norway hopes to open 5 to 10 refugee centers in Sweden. The campaign could be spotted with difficulties. In Sweden, arsonists have torched more than 40 centers since July, in part because in 2015 Sweden accepted about 160,000 asylum seekers, more per capita than any other European nation. Still, the prospects for Hero Norway’s continued success are high. Neither Sweden nor Norway has plans to stanch the flow of newcomers, and the Swedish government has said it will spend up to 30 percent of its 2016 foreign aid budget on resettling refugees.

Mikiyas, 12, and his brother, Nahom, 7, are from Ethiopia and have shared a flat at Vang for five years with their mother.
Mikiyas, 12, and his brother, Nahom, 7, are from Ethiopia and have shared a flat at Vang for five years with their mother. The two attend local schools and love to ski.
Photographer: Espen Rasmussen for Bloomberg Businessweek

Kristian stands back, aloof, chatting only with administrators, conferring about their plans to build a health clinic here to screen refugees for tuberculosis and other diseases.

In time, we’re given a tour by the camp’s director. Helge Ekelund is a large, hulking fellow with a tight ponytail, and he’s a no-nonsense guy who’s well aware that the great migration to Norway can continue only if there are functioning toilets. “Here are the tents we got free from the army,” he says. “Here is where we take away everyone’s clothes. We put the clothes in these freezers here, to kill off the bedbugs.” The freezer is set at -30F, he says. The clothes stay in there for 48 hours, while the asylum seekers wear borrowed garments.

When Kristian and I step back into the rain, I ask him what about the refugee center intrigued him the most. “The freezers,” he says. “I thought those were interesting.”

We begin driving north. It’s 3 p.m. There are still 10 hours to go before his workday is over.

The De-Klein of a Revolutionary Writer: From Subcomandante Marcos to Angel Gurria

Wrong Kind of Green

January 25, 2016

 

Shock and awe (technically known as rapid dominance) is a military doctrine based on the use of overwhelming power and spectacular displays of force to paralyze the enemy’s perception of the battlefield and destroy its will to fight. (Shock and awe – Overview”, Oxford University Press). In the context of today’s completely top-down environmental/climate “movement” funded by the world’s most powerful institutions, we have a soft-power doctrine serving western hegemony based on the use of overwhelming power and spectacular displays of force via the non-profit industrial complex, that succeeds in paralyzing the public’s perception of the “battlefield” (power structures) and destroy its will to fight. Further this doctrine coupled with social engineering and behavioural change tactics manipulates the populace in not only acquiescing to, but even demanding further servitude and oppression.

“I continue to dream what many say is impossible.  I’m sitting in a hotel in San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico writing this blog post a week after the Cancún mess.  In Chiapas, when the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect on New Years Day in 1994, a band of  Indigenous Peoples called the Zapatistas started a revolution in Chiapas stating that NAFTA ‘is a death sentence for Indigenous Peoples.’” — Running to Catch a Bus to the Apocalypse by Orin Langelle

In 2007 Naomi Klein visited Chiapas, sharing a platform with Zapatista spokesperson Subcomandante Marcos and the EZLN (Zapatista Army of National Liberation) at a conference in CIDECI (Das Centro indígena de Capacitación Integral) on the outskirts of San Cristobal, Mexico. [Source]

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December 2007: Coloquio Internacional Inmemoriam Andrés Aubry: “Planeta tierra, movimientos antisistémicos”

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Klein in Chiapas, December 2007 | No Logo Website: “At the end of the conference, Zapatista spokesperson Subcomandante Marcos issued a communiqué warning that “the signs of war on the horizon are clear” and noted, “In the words of Naomi Klein, we need to prepare ourselves for the shock.”

However in the actual physical manifestation of a person doing a proverbial 180 degree turn regarding ideological allegiances, it was only a scant eight years later, on November 24, 2015 where an exuberant Klein is photographed with Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). To illustrate the difference between the rebel comandante and Klein’s current ally in “revolution”, Gurría served as Mexico’s Minister of Foreign Affairs (under the Zedillo administration) from 1994–1998. Prior to his appointment in 1994, Gurría served as the party’s foreign affairs secretary. Gurría “co-chaired [the] financial affairs team for NAFTA” (World Economic Forum) and “also took part in negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)” (AACSB International). In January 1998 Mexican President Zedillo appointed Jose Angel Gurría as Minister of Finance.

As Gurría was a person who not only supported NAFTA, but negotiated it, there is no more telling a statement regarding Klein’s change as far as who and what she supports than the following:

“The Zapatistas chose January 1, 1994, the day the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) came into force, to “declare war” on the Mexican army, launching an insurrection and briefly taking control of the city of San Cristobal de las Casas and five Chiapas towns. They sent out a communiqué explaining that Nafta, which banned subsidies to indigenous farm co-operatives, would be a “summary execution” for four million indigenous Mexicans in Chiapas, the country’s poorest province.” — The Unknown Icon, Naomi Klein, March 3, 2001

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Photo: 24 November 2015: Naomi Klein (left) and Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). [1]

Further evidence in terms of the establishment Garria and Klein’s blatant about-face regarding her current cooperative relationship with the establishment can be found in the following responses:

“One top official at Nomura Securities summed up Wall Street’s euphoria upon hearing of Gurría’s appointment. ‘He’s one of ours.’” — Our “Man in Mexico” and the Chiapas Massacre, 1998

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“Long considered a fortress of nationalism, Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has now been taken over by the neoliberal elite. José Angel Gurría is a technocrat through and through, a specialist in financial affairs with almost no real experience in the traditions of Mexican foreign policy. This would seem to be the future of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the post-NAFTA era.” — ROMAN LOPEZ VILLICANA, Mexico and NAFTA: The Case of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, March 1997

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“In December 1997, there was the brutal Acteal massacre in which 45 Zapatista supporters were killed, most of them women and children. And the situation in Chiapas is still desperate, with thousands displaced from their homes.” — The Unknown Icon, Naomi Klein, March 3, 2001

In addition, the subsequent statement is an excerpt from the 1998 article Our “Man in Mexico” and the Chiapas Massacre written by James Petras:

“The massacre of 45 Indians in Chiapas by government-sponsored paramilitary forces has to be viewed within the broader context of regimes’ vigorous implementation of the socio-economic model and its growing political isolation within Mexican society. While there was worldwide condemnation of the massacre (over 58 cities and several parliaments in Europe) and its perpetrator in the Mexican government, Wall Street, the city of London, and other financial centers around the world have been lauding the “economic recovery” and the 5 percent to 6 percent growth rate over the past two years. The polarization within Mexico is reproduced overseas. The very essence of “the model” is the attraction of investment based on lowering living standards to cheapen the costs of the booming exports sector. The policies that attract investors deepen poverty in Mexico: the opening of markets has led to a flood of cheap imports, particularly basic grains, while privatization has meant the sell-off of public enterprises. The former has condemned millions of peasant producers to poverty while the latter has led to the concentration of wealth, the firing of hundreds of thousands of wage and salaried workers and the growth of the informal economy…

Outside of government circles he is called the “Angel of Dependency,” for his generosity with foreign investors and his willingness to give free sway to U. S. police, military, and drug officials within Mexico’s borders. To ensure continued growth to guarantee the continued flow of overseas funds and to consolidate foreign investor confidence, President Zedillo appointed Jose Angel Gurría as Minister of Finance, the position directly responsible for negotiating with the international banks and U.S. Treasury. Outside of government circles he is called the “Angel of Dependency,” for his generosity with foreign investors and his willingness to give free sway to U. S. police, military, and drug officials within Mexico’s borders. One top official at Nomura Securities summed up Wall Street’s euphoria upon hearing of Gurría’s appointment. “He’s one of ours.”…

The Angel of Dependency

To emphasize his determination to maintain the lopsided dependent growth model, President Zedillo appointed the above mentioned Jose Angel Gurría to head the Finance Ministry. After learning of Gurría’s appointment the Mexican newspapers reported “euphoria on Wall Street,” and a financial advisor in the city of London gloated that “It couldn’t be better.”

Why does Gurría come so highly recommended? First and foremost was his role in sabotaging a Latin American debtors cartel that was in the process of being organized in 1986. While the rest of Latin America’s finance ministers were preparing a | document to collectively I reduce the percentage of debt payments to the overseas bankers, Gurría went ahead and signed a new agreement with the IMF in which he committed Mexico to following a strict payment plan. In the follow-up, he supported the strict subordination of the Mexican economy to all the articles and clauses of the IMF austerity plan, in effect becoming an unpaid functionary of IMF policy makers. He was particularly generous in setting the terms for the privatization of Mexican public enterprises, thus providing speculators with prodigious windfalls.

More than any official in recent history he has been instrumental in undermining Mexican sovereignty. While foreign minister between 1995-1997 he abolished Mexico’s traditional respect for political asylum for refugees. He eliminated constraints on the operations of the DEA, FBI, and CIA operatives in Mexican territory (in the name of international cooperation)…

As further proof of Garria’s complicity in the Mexico’s oppression of the indigenous, the aforementioned author James Petras goes into detail about deepening social crisis and the role of the state in the Chiapas Massacre within his previously referenced article. He summarises his research as follows:

“U.S. military doctrine and training of the repressive forces accompanies U.S. support for the free market economic policies of President Zedillo. The massacre in Chiapas highlights the real meaning of U.S.-Mexican cooperation; free markets and machine guns. On the other side of the barricades, the continued struggle of the Chiapas Indian communities, their growing allies in the countryside in Mexico City and overseas represents another kind of international cooperation: popular solidarity in defense of autonomous self-governing communities.” [Read the full article here]

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Angel Global Goals

“OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría and UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi signed a partnership agreement while attending the Summit taking place at UN headquarters in New York from 25–27 September. Building on each other’s comparative advantage, the OECD and UNCTAD have joined forces to help decision makers take actions towards inclusive growth.” [Photo: Julien Daniel / OECD] [Dr. Kituyi Echoes His Master’s Voice in Mombasa]

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Sustaining Privatization

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Today Gurría serves as Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Gurría launched the “New Approaches to Economic Challenges”, “an OECD reflection process on the lessons from the crisis with the aim to upgrade OECD’s analytical frameworks and develop a comprehensive agenda for sustainable and inclusive growth.” [2] Gurría’s background is extensive, currently serving on the Advisory Board for the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF). 3GF’s works on building public-private partnerships for a “global green growth agenda”: “This industrial transition has the potential to unlock new growth engines and spur global economic growth… Studies on green growth opportunities from the OECD, UNEP and the World Bank conclude that the economic opportunity in ‘going green’ is worth several trillion dollars between now and 2030.” ” [3Gf website]

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The epitome of the black bourgeoisie. December 1 2015: “OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría and UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi signed a partnership agreement while attending the Summit taking place at UN headquarters in New York from 25–27 September. Building on each other’s comparative advantage, the OECD and UNCTAD have joined forces to help decision makers take actions towards inclusive growth. [Photo: Julien Daniel / OECD]

Today “Klein is the Oprah Winfrey of the Toy Che Brigades–another vapid luminary on the cover of Vogue.” Immersed and drowning in a society of spectacle, the increasing vogue for capitalist-friendly climate discourse flourishes like a cancer. Celebrity fetish coupled with sophisticated (yet evasive) holistic linguistics is further mobilized to protect, expand and strengthen capitalism and growth under the guise of a “new economy”. Blinded by privilege, while enraptured with one’s own ego, fame and fortune entice today’s environmental “leaders” who are appointed/chosen and bankrolled by the world’s most powerful oligarchs and are nothing more than recherché brands serving as valuable commodities insulating current power structures. As writer Milan Kundera once wrote: “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.” An alibi shared amongst those who reap the benefits of white supremacy and privilege.

 

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[1] Klein came to the OECD in the context of the “Coffees of the Secretary-General” series. Paris, France. “Since 2010 some of the world’s foremost thinkers–economists, historians, environmentalists, writers, artists, photographers–have come to the OECD to meet Secretary-General Angel Gurría and chat about the world over a relaxing cup of coffee… After coffee, the conversation then opens out into a lively discussion with a packed audience of OECD experts.” [Source: OECD]

[2] “In 2008, Geoffrey Lean wrote that a UN plan for a Green New Deal “will be formally launched in London next week.” He noted that the GND “draws its inspiration from Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, which ended the 1930s depression.” UN leaders promised that “‘green growth’ will rescue the world’s finances.” The very next spring the UN released its core description of a world-wide plan for recovery called the Global Green New Deal (GGND). Its list of collaborators included the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization (WTO)…. The GGND was designed to expand Green Capitalism and the Green Economy. It emphatically states that economic issues must be understood as a compilation of techno-fixes: “Technological solutions will be essential drivers in the transition towards a green economy.” Nowhere are problems presented as caused by social relationships of domination. Instead, it seeks to tie economic “improvement” to global carbon markets and REDD…. With no plan to actually restrict the extraction, refining and sale of fossil fuels, the UN hopes to add the alternative fuel market on top of the existing fossil fuel market as a way to expand the total energy market…. For indigenous peoples around the world, the fight is often against corporations extracting minerals. By the second decade of the twenty-first century, hundreds or perhaps thousands of struggles against economic growth of extraction industries broke out.” [Source: So How Green Is the Green New Deal?, July 11, 2014]