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Justin Trudeau’s Billion-Dollar Scandal Is a Story of Power, Branding, and Charity

Vice

July 22, 2020

By Justin Ling

 

“In Justin Trudeau, WE Charity had a prominent booster. In WE, Justin Trudeau had a powerful platform popular with young people.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (right) along with WE co-founders, Craig (middle) and Marc Kielburger, WE Day Ottawa, November 9, 2016. MARKETWIRED PHOTO/WE Day

 

It’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s summer scandal. He and his finance minister are under investigation from an ethics watchdog. Two Parliamentary committees have started investigating the affair and Trudeau will testify.

In the middle of it all is a $912 million contract, awarded without competition to the Canadian-founded WE Charity, a household name thanks to a powerful origin story that has morphed into a huge youth-oriented movement with celebrities like Meghan Markle and Prince Harry attached.

It’s an organization with close ties to the prime minister himself. The scandal unfurled as it was revealed Trudeau’s own family received large speaking fees from the organization and while Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s daughter worked at the charity.

“I made a mistake in not recusing myself,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau himself announced the Canada Student Service Grant program, which would award grants to students and youth for doing volunteer work amid the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. WE would have earned between $19.5 million and $43.5 million for just running the program. WE has already withdrawn from its government contract with a promise to “return to its roots” of international development.

From the outside, it may seem like a very Canadian scandal: Money for a charity stymied by an alleged ethical lapse caused, in part, by the prime minister’s famous mother being paid to speak to legions of teens.

Dig a little deeper, and this scandal, Trudeau’s third such ethics investigation, says an awful lot about both his government and the WE organization.

VICE News reviewed hundreds of financial disclosure documents and internal presentation decks, consulted a forensic accountant regarding WE’s books, and spoke to several past employees about how the charity—and its less-understood corporate arm—does business.

As VICE News started asking questions about WE’s financials, WE announced it would be reorienting its charity and business divisions, acknowledging that its years of rapid expansion has led to a “organizational structure that is more complicated than it needs to be.”

At the centre of this scandal is the story of WE, a unique charitable-corporate hybrid, and its symbiotic relationship with the prime minister.

Friends in high places

The WE Charity origin story is the stuff of legend. A 12-year-old Craig Kielburger, per the WE account, was flipping through a newspaper in 1995 in search of the comics. He happened upon an article about a 12-year-old Pakistani labour rights activist, Iqbal Masih, who had been murdered.

“Craig convinced a handful of Grade 7 classmates that together they could make an impact, and WE Charity was born,” WE writes on their website. Soon, his older brother Marc was in on the family charitable business.

They called the organization Free the Children (it would be renamed WE Charity in 2016), and they set out to do the kind of altruistic development that was du jour in the late 1990s—building wells, schools, and clinics for the underprivileged in the Global South. On a tour of East Asia, Craig would cross paths with then-prime minister Jean Chretien, whom he challenged to take a stand against child slavery.

The inspiring story drove international attention, and donations. But international development is a saturated market—Oxfam, Unicef, World Vision, and a host of others have been doing this work for decades.

The Kielburgers pioneered a new way of financing their charitable efforts: ME to WE Social Enterprises. It would be, according to their website, “a new model to support the long-term charitable goals of WE Charity.” This related corporate entity would organize trips, sell sustainably made goods, run events, and donate much of its profits back to WE Charity.

For about $5,000, students could fly to various destinations in Central and South America, Africa, and South Asia and stay at WE ranches and facilities. The trips mixed the air of a sleepaway camp, focusing on team building and leadership, while also offering day trips where students would contribute to building schools or wells. WE would eventually start offering corporate retreats as well.

Those trips faced criticism familiar to other so-called “voluntourism” organizations—that poorer communities need investment and opportunity, not privileged children from North America and Europe to contribute their unskilled labour. WE brushed the criticism aside. “When done properly and in partnership with communities, trips can be beneficial,” its executive director once wrote.

ME to WE expanded to run WE Day, which blends stadium-sized motivational speaking tours with the vibe of a children’s day camp. Celebrity cameos have included Kendrick Lamar, the Dalai Lama, Martin Sheen and Al Gore. ME to WE opened shops, selling sustainably made goods. It opened WE Schools, which provided slickly made, development-minded curricula to teachers.

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An internal WE document.

 

WE’s stock rose steadily through the 2000s and early 2010s, and it incorporated its charity-corporate model in the United States and United Kingdom. Both Kielburgers were awarded the Order of Canada. It published books with contributions from Richard Gere and Oprah. 60 Minutes profiled the brothers.

The organization is not outwardly political. Its U.K. board of directors boasts a Liberal Democrat lord and a Conservative Member of Parliament. But in Justin Trudeau, it had an early champion. He appeared at the first-ever WE Day in 2007, when he was running for Parliament for the first time. He appeared again after he was elected in 2008, per a list compiled by iPolitics.

Just days after he spoke at WE Day Toronto 2012, Trudeau launched his bid to lead the Liberal Party of Canada. Craig Kielburger contributed $1,200, the maximum allowed, to Trudeau’s campaign.

When he became prime minister in 2015, one of Trudeau’s first public events was WE Day Ottawa.

Trudeau wasn’t the only one in the family joining WE Day. Trudeau’s partner, Sophie; mother, Margaret; and brother, Sacha, all spoke at various WE Days. Sophie Grégoire Trudeau even co-hosted a WE podcast. Canadaland and CBC reported that Me to We paid $312,000 for Margaret Trudeau’s appearances, and $40,000 for eight engagements with Sacha Trudeau. The prime minister was, according to the government, not paid for any of his appearances.

As Trudeau’s family became functional ambassadors for the organization, the government of Canada began an enthusiastic WE partnership.

Before his election, Ottawa had paid less than a million dollars in grants to WE. After Trudeau assumed office, that changed.

In 2016, Heritage Canada awarded WE Charity $1.5 million to participate in the lead-up to Canada’s 150th anniversary, as part of a program to “commemorate and celebrate historical figures, places, events, and accomplishments of national significance.” As part of that program, WE put out a video prominently featuring the prime minister himself.

VICE News asked if any Government of Canada money was spent on that ad. WE said it didn’t know.

“We are getting a significant number of requests from media at this time,” a spokesperson said. “While we remain committed to providing as much information as possible, we are still in the process of gathering and reviewing our internal records of contracts of years past in order to fully cooperate with various inquiries from official sources to which we are legally required to respond.”

When Canada Day rolled around, the Kielburger brothers were featured heavily at the Parliament Hill celebrations. Days later, at the WE-branded celebrations, Trudeau graced the stage.

Ottawa offered WE Charity non-competitive and sole-sourced contracts, too, for “management consulting” or “public relations services.”

Overall, the Government of Canada paid WE Charity and ME to WE more than $5.8 million.

On Wednesday, Finance Minister Morneau told a House of Commons committee that he and his family accepted invitations by WE to visit their high-end camps in Kenya and Ecuador. There, they lent a hand in building nearby schools. While the committee seized on some $40,000 in expenses that Morneau did not reimburse WE for, the trips say so much more about just how close WE and the Trudeau government really are.

A cash flow crunch

As WE became a household name for many, its finances showed signs it had expanded too fast.

In 2017, the Canadian arm of WE Charity posted a $3.8 million surplus, thanks to more than $45 million in annual donations and $10 million in private grants.

By 2019, though, the charity fell into the red, according to WE Charity’s unpublished audited financial statements provided to VICE News. Donations and grants stayed mostly flat, but spending rose rapidly. The charity posted a $2.3 million deficit, plus an additional $4 million in bank loans.

That has all the hallmarks of a “cash flow crunch,” says Kate Bahen, the managing director of Charity Intelligence, an organization devoted to analyzing the financials of Canadian charities. She obtained and analyzed WE Charity’s 2019 financial statements.

The Government of Canada was there to help, however. Three days after the WE Charity fiscal period ended in September 2019, Employment and Social Development Canada awarded it a $3 million grant.

It was the biggest contribution from the Canadian government to WE up to that point.

WE disagrees there was an issue with its finances. “WE is not experiencing a cash flow problem and it would be incorrect to say so,” a spokesperson said.

The spokesperson told VICE News that part of the problem came from WE’s own decision to shift its fiscal year. Until 2013, WE ended its fiscal year in March; then it moved to December; and finally, in 2018, it took the unusual step to align with the academic year, ending in August.

Bahen calls the frequency of that change “highly irregular.” WE acknowledges it makes it impossible to compare one year to the next—in 2018, WE posted a $400,000 deficit, but only over eight months, not 12.

WE says that, because of the shift in fiscal year, some $21 million in donations had to be deferred “from one fiscal year to another, to account for the fiscal year in which the program would occur,” the spokesperson explained. “Because of these larger deferrals, we had…run a deficit, on paper, in 2018 and 2019.”

The deficit was due to the fiscal year shift, they said, “not because of the financial health of the organization.”

Yet the shift happened in 2018. The 2019 year was a full 12 months. It’s not clear why WE would have to keep deferring revenue.

WE says the decision to shift the fiscal year was a decision taken by the board of directors. That board is now mostly gone.

Michelle Douglas, the former chair of WE Charity’s board, left earlier this year. In April, she tweeted skepticism of WE’s accounting of its impact abroad.

Of the 15 directors who sat on the boards of the Charity’s Canadian and American arms in 2018, just four remain. WE has told CBC that the new board was selected to “address issues such as diversity, inclusion, and range of competencies.” Douglas, a former member of the Canadian Forces who was purged from the ranks due to her sexuality, said most of the board had resigned or been replaced. The new chair of the Canadian board is Greg Rogers, formerly with Toronto Catholic District School Board.

Even with its back-to-back deficits, WE is not about to go bankrupt. Part of the financial health of the organization is its real estate holdings, totalling nearly $50 million across North America, including a sprawling Arizona ranch and a much-celebrated, newly-renovated office in Toronto’s Corktown, where it plans to keep expanding. Abroad, WE owns a constellation of properties through local corporations.

“All real estate purchases were made possible by targeted gifts from donors who believed that owning its own facilities would make WE more sustainable and effective in the long term,” WE wrote to VICE News. On top of savings on rent, WE says it serves as a nest egg that provides “long-term financial stability and a value fiscal reserve to underpin its operations.”

Several of those properties, however, still carry mortgages. Those mortgages require that WE maintains enough profit to comfortably cover the payments. (“One of the covenants of the mortgage provisions is that WE Charity generates positive EBITDA [Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization] to cover 1.3 times the mortgage payments in the fiscal year,” WE wrote.)

WE failed to meet that condition in both 2018 and 2019, and had to seek a specific waiver to avoid breaching their mortgage agreements.

“If our fiscal year end was either October 31 or December 31, this would not have been an issue; there would have been no ‘deficit’ and/or need for a waiver,” WE said. “This was simply an operational decision that we made consciously and still support.”

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An internal WE powerpoint slide.

 

This was all before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Real estate values took a beating, international travel was shut down, and WE Day 2020, a massive revenue source for the organization, was cancelled. Sources told the Toronto Star that donations had slowed significantly, and WE started mass layoffs.

In April, a lifeline appeared. The Trudeau government was looking to incentivize volunteer work for students who may have lost jobs and internships due to the global pandemic—the Canada Student Service Grant would award them between $1,000 and $5,000.

Exactly who proposed WE to run the program is still a matter of debate. Trudeau says it was the bureaucracy who suggested the organization administer the program. WE initially suggested it was Trudeau’s office who first offered them the contract, but later recanted that story.

Privy Council Clerk Ian Shugart, the head of Canada’s civil service, told a parliamentary committee Tuesday that the government did not kick the tires on WE’s financials before awarding them the contract. “To the best of my knowledge, officials did not engage in detailed scrutiny of the financial affairs of the organization,” he said. “No financial flags were raised through this process about the WE Charity.”

WE would have received between $19.5 million and $43.5 million of the $912 million program, which would have gone a long way towards addressing their increasing debt load and decline in donations.

The willingness to go with WE is curious. The organization encourages volunteer work, through WE Schools and WE Day, but largely by encouraging students to organize and execute work on their own. Many other charities like Kiwanis, the Lion’s Club, and Volunteer Canada all either link up with local organizations or have existing infrastructure in communities and schools.

WE’s power, however, is in the branding.

‘We brought them to WE Day’

A page of WE’s website, advertising Marc Kielburger as a paid speaker, touts his insights into “purposeful and profitable business strategies.” The page, which has since been updated to remove that language, boasts that Marc can help teach strategies to “inspire brand fanatics to stay loyal to you, your company, and your cause (and) add a halo effect to your product.”

That halo effect is core to WE’s strategy.

WE lets its partners co-brand international development projects, grace the stage at the ebullient WE Day celebrations, and even help craft school curricula. All for a fee.

The corporate arm of WE does not proactively publish corporate financial information. But internal PowerPoint presentations provided by a former employee reveal that by summer 2017, ME to WE boasted some 206 active partnerships with an annual revenue of $47.5 million.

Of hundreds of sponsors, just 20 large sponsors comprised nearly 90 percent of ME to WE’s revenue, including insurance vendor Allstate, RBC bank, movie chain Cineplex, Microsoft, accounting firm KPMG, and resource companies PotashCorp and Teck Resources.

WE insists WE Day and WE Schools are empowering and educational. To potential sponsors, however, WE is pretty blunt that it offers a big branding opportunity.

In an internal pitch presentation, WE said its youth-oriented programs “improve partners’ brand reputation particularly by increasing consumer perception of partners’ investment in their local community.” WE further suggested that partnerships “can drive consumer exploration, consideration, and purchase of products and services.”

Internal polling of students and parents about its corporate-branded in-school programs bragged that “60 percent of (WE) teens spoke positively about the company with their parents.”

The internal polling suggests that WE Schools and WE Day also pushed teens to complete a “social action”—such as “connected with an Allstate agent in my community,” “bought a Surface [tablet] or other Microsoft product,” and “used Skype”—yet most had no clear social component whatsoever. The only non-corporate examples listed were “learned more about computer science and coding” and “took action to live more sustainably (i.e., conserving water, reducing waste).”

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An internal WE document.

 

WE’s programs are present in some 18,000 schools throughout North America. WE Day, meanwhile, engrossed attendees with its high production value, socially conscious messaging, and big-name guests.

“Any time I wanted to sign a new company, we brought them to WE Day,” a former employee told Canadaland last year, for a series of stories about WE’s corporate partnerships and its work in schools across North America. (Disclosure: I contributed some reporting and editing to Canadaland on those stories, and am relying on some of the information I learned for this story.)

The corporate branding is obvious, however.

At WE Days, students may watch short documentaries about their corporate sponsors. One video played at WE Day 2017 showed a student shopping at a Walgreens, encouraging her peers to purchase WE-branded goods at the retail giant. WE Day Montreal this year was co-branded by seven companies, including KPMG and steakhouse chain The Keg.

These partnerships aren’t cheap.

A pitch deck prepared for household goods company Unilever suggested partnerships starting at $800,000 to get co-branding at WE Schools, with add-ons that could have brought the total value of the deal to more than $4 million. For that money, Unilever would get a six-minute onstage segment at WE Day New York, involvement in a national schools speaking tour, which allows for “exposure to the full student body,” and a redrafting of the WE Schools program to ensure a “stronger tie-in to (Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan).”

Some partners are more controversial than others.

“WE Charity has a policy to carefully review potential corporate funders,” a spokesperson said. Resource extraction companies for example, “provide critical inputs for global industries such as food production and infrastructure development.”

Canadian oil sands company Teck Resources contributed $400,000 to ME to WE in 2017 that helped buy a national battery recycling program in Canadian schools.

PotashCorp, a resource extraction company and former Crown corporation, was a sponsor of WE for five years, contributing $1 million in 2017 alone. This, even as the company faced criticism for extracting hundreds of millions of dollars of natural resources in occupied Western Sahara. “We do not see how the association with a company that aids and abets in the occupation of Western Sahara, resulting in tremendous human suffering, relates to the views and values of Free the Children,” reads a 2013 letter from the Western Sahara Resource Watch. PotashCorp and WE remained partners until the company merged with a rival in 2017.

WE says its partnership with PotashCorp “enabled farmers in developing countries to provide 15 million meals.”

WE also partnered with Dow Chemical to help middle and high school students “develop solutions to the world’s largest sustainability issues.” The curriculum prepared by WE suggests teachers ask students questions like, “How do Dow scientists approach problems?”

WE told VICE News that Dow is “ranked as one of the top companies in terms of sustainability performance,” pointing to the fact that it was listed as part of the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index for the 20th year.

The U.S. arm of WE Charity raised $5.3 million from Valeant Pharmaceuticals—now Bausch Health—seemingly in support of the Passion to Heal program, which sent American dermatologists to Kenya and India to provide skincare to those in need. The program came just after Valeant was accused of inflating drug prices by as much as 3,000 percent, and just before its executives were being charged with running a sprawling fraud scheme.

These PowerPoints themselves note the “challenges” present in their corporate relationships: The list included “sacrifices to WE program integrity.”

Last week, the company announced that WE Schools would shift to a “digital-only format.”

A corporate web

For its ingenious model of charitable giving, WE’s labyrinthine corporate structure makes it a difficult organization to untangle. When you begin pulling it apart, questions remain over just how effective an organization it truly is.

The organization’s own material suggests the structure is simple: There’s the charity, WE Charity, and there’s the company, ME to WE. Yet even WE has a hard time telling them apart. It strenuously denied that WE Charity had ever paid Margaret Trudeau for her speaking engagements, only to later admit it had cut her a $7,500 cheque in 2017. WE says it was an accounting error.

On Wednesday, Global News revealed that the Canada Student Service Grant contract was actually awarded to the WE Charity Foundation, not WE Charity itself. It’s not clear why the Foundation was incorporated at all, aside from an oblique reference in a 2018 financial statement about its goal “to promote the efficiency and effectiveness of other registered charities by providing and maintaining facilities to house their operations.” Global has reported it is primarily used to hold real estate.

ME to WE, meanwhile, is actually owned by a holding company, and it, in turn, owns five subsidiaries that run various aspects of its business.

Its Russian nesting doll structure aside, ME to We claims that, by donating 90 percent of its profit—$9.4 million between 2016 and 2019, WE says—it finances WE Charity’s important work.

Drill down on those numbers, however, and it’s not so clear-cut.

For starters, lots of money flows in the opposite direction. The charity actually paid its corporate arm $7 million over those three years. WE says it’s “largely due to an increase in donor trips, which resulted in a significant increase in donations to WE Charity.”

It means that the net transfer of funds between ME to WE to WE Charity over those three years is closer to $2 million.

What’s more, not all that money is cash contributions. In 2019, WE Charity reported nearly $5 million in contributions from ME to WE. Of that, more than $3.5 million is in-kind donations, such as “travel and leadership training services,” promotional goods, rent, and the purchase of books. ME to WE sells these things to WE Charity “at or below wholesale prices.” WE reports the dollar value of those goods and services.

WE insists that focusing on those figures is incorrect. “The holistic social good created by ME to WE Social Enterprise is clear,” a spokesperson said. At the same time, as Bahen notes, “ME to WE overstates how much it contributes to WE Charity.”

According to a libel notice sent to Canadaland, WE has said the reason for ME to WE is “due to the structure of the Canadian tax code limiting the ability of charities or foundations to engage in commercial enterprises to raise funds for their cause.”

Yet, in the U.S., ME to WE is also a registered charity. It’s called the ME to WE Foundation. (Not to be confused with the Canadian ME to WE Foundation, or the WE Charity Foundation.)

It’s not clear what differentiates the two U.S. entities. The U.S. WE Charity reports $33 million in revenue, and its audited financial statements are posted to the WE website; while the U.S. ME to WE Foundation reports some $10 million, and its financials are not posted. Both share significant overlap in their mandate and donors. Victor Li, WE Charity’s chief financial officer, is a director of both charities.

WE says the foundation is responsible for “domestic WE Schools & WE Day activities supporting student service-learning programs in schools and International development activities to support education, clean water, healthcare, food security, and alternative income programs.”

The foundation reports very little overseas spending.

Garbage bag company Glad announced in 2018 that anyone using its chosen hashtag or buying specific trash bags would “trigger a donation to WE Charity,” capped at $315,000. Yet according to contracts filed with state regulators and obtained by VICE News, the funds were paid to the ME to WE Foundation, not WE Charity.

WE insists that “the ME to WE Foundation has helped to provide millions of dollars of funding to WE Charity over the years.”

Yet, over the most recent two years for which there is information, it was WE Charity that made a huge contribution to the ME to WE Foundation. The charity gave nearly $400,000 to the foundation in 2016 and another $1.25 million in 2017, while only $100,000 in contributions from the foundation to the charity were reported over the same time.

So much of WE’s branding is wrapped up with its overseas work. Yet, in recent years, WE’s Canadian and U.S. charities reported that just about a third of their overall spending went to international development—about $35 million, including administrative costs.

Still, WE’s holistic vision for international development—which includes funding clean water, food security, education, healthcare, and economic opportunity—has done good abroad. It has even attracted other, smaller, charities.

In its 2017 financial statements, WE Charity reported it, by mutual agreement, “took control” of Imagine 1 Day, another charity “providing children in Ethiopia with access to quality education.” As part of the agreement, WE Charity received $10 million from the organization, with the stipulation that “the amount transferred is to be used towards initiatives in Ethiopia.”

Normally, such a transfer would be considered a “restricted” donation—meaning the contribution could only be used for a specific purpose for which it was gifted. That’s how WE accepts its real estate gifts.

The $10 million however, was included in a general line item on the charity’s financial statements as unrestricted contributions.

Per its financial disclosures and statement to VICE News, some $6.8 million of Imagine 1 Day’s assets have been absorbed into WE Charity to date. But not all of that money has gone to Ethiopia.

“$4.2 million has been spent in support of projects and programming in Ethiopia, $1.2 million has been transferred back to Imagine1Day for targeted core operations, and $1.4 million has been spent on WE Charity’s support and integration of Ethiopia into WE,” a spokesperson said. That last figure has included staff salaries in Canada “to manage program and project design support, monitoring and evaluation, and other management expenses.” It has also covered travel costs between Ethiopia to Toronto.

Asking tough questions of WE

WE, like any multi-million dollar charitable organization, especially one that benefits from tax-exempt status, deserves scrutiny.

In 2019, Canadaland did exactly that. It asked questions about WE’s corporate partners, its education programming, and allegations that it has a “toxic” workplace culture. WE provided lengthy responses to those questions, but also started proceedings to sue the media company for libel in litigant-friendly Manitoba.

Part of the claim sent by WE’s lawyers to Canadaland alleges the company showed malice “by misrepresenting our clients as litigious.” (WE had previously sued now-defunct Saturday Night magazine, which settled in 2000.)

WE has, this week, demanded an apology from Postmedia News and Toronto Sun columnist Brian Lilley, after they ran a series of stories taking a critical look at WE’s real estate holdings.

Even Bahen, who has delved deep into WE’s financials, has earned herself a threatening letter from WE. “We are respectfully asking you to please stop making incorrect, misleading, and incomplete statements when we have repeatedly provided you with accurate information,” reads the letter.

When VICE News sent multiple requests for comment to WE, it initially heard back from their lawyer, Howard Winkler, demanding that “you disclose to our clients for response any purported statements of fact or allegations you intend to publish of and concerning them which contain a negative innuendo.” Later, it provided lengthy and detailed responses to VICE News’ questions.

After Canadaland ran critical stories about WE, including its attempt to discourage critical coverage, curious campaigns to discredit the news outlet sprang up.

Op-eds popped up in U.S. publications, calling Canadaland “fake news.” Around the same time, a deluge of tweets, all with similar messages, poured in from a slew of accounts. (Those accounts are all now suspended for violating Twitter’s rules.) Some of this campaign appeared to be linked to a Republican consulting firm, according to Canadaland.

Private investigators, hired by one of WE’s law firms, also conducted background checks on Canadaland publisher Jesse Brown and reporter Jaren Kerr, according to the outlet.

VICE News asked WE if it ever paid for positive news coverage or social media campaigns to target its critics. WE came back, asking for specific examples, “as we are unclear and require context,” a spokesperson wrote. VICE News tried again, asking pointedly if WE had ever paid writers to pen columns or editorials without disclosing their funding, or if it had ever run an “astroturf” campaign using social media bots or fake accounts.

WE refused to answer. “WE Charity has engaged several leading companies to help with communication over the years,” a spokesperson wrote. “WE Charity has sought further clarification and/or any examples regarding this question without success. If there are specific examples of note, we would be pleased to respond and provide context.”

A friend in need is a friend, indeed

From its inception, WE has worked hard to cultivate an ethos around itself. To great effect, it has parlayed its commitment to international development, volunteerism, and social awareness. In the process, it has brought onboard an array of multi-billion dollar partners to finance its operations.

At its core, WE offered brands a chance to tap into a network of hyper-engaged, well-intentioned youth. The Faustian bargain meant that WE’s millions in donations would build clinics and schools half a world away, in exchange for advertising products and services to a captive, and otherwise difficult to reach, audience.

Allstate and Dow Chemical couldn’t otherwise tell schoolchildren of their community programs or sustainability efforts. Even if they could, there is little chance the students would much care.

WE is a perfect vehicle for exactly that kind of work.

Justin Trudeau understood that. His commitment to volunteering is undeniable, dating back to his time with youth program Katimavik. Equally undeniable is his mastery at winning over young voters, or soon-to-be voters. The 18-to-34 voting block is the only one Trudeau managed to carry in both his 2015 and 2019 electoral victories, according to pollster Ipsos.

This story is not about who got rich. It’s about how an organization that has been integral to the prime minister’s personal brand was selected for a program that it did not appear to be best-suited to run, even amid serious questions over its own financial structure and corporate practises.

Next week, the Kielburger brothers are expected to testify before a House of Commons committee.

Shortly after this story was published, Trudeau agreed to testify as well.

 

[“Justin Ling is an investigative journalist who has worked across the country, focusing on stories and issues undercovered or misunderstood. For the past year, he has been covering the investigation into Bruce McArthur. His forthcoming book on the case will be published by McClelland & Stewart in early 2020.?”]

Additional research: An extensive thread on WE by Cory Morningstar, Wrong Kind of Green:

How Tides Canada Controls the Secret North American Tar Sands Coalition

Tzep

[photo] Ms. Berman presenting a “Green” Award to former Liberal Party of B.C. premier, Gordon Campbell … the man who privatized British Columbia, sold it to General Electric and other international corporations, who built highways across farmland and called it “green;” who reversed dioxin effluent safeguards that we fought for and instituted in B.C. to protect our water; who sold off the public and natural heritage of British Columbia and opened the doors to General Electric to occupy hundreds of watersheds, devastate riparian ecosystems, and destroy forests for transmission lines to carry expensive power to mines in the north and to sprawling cities in the U.S. – Photo source: BC government.

Repeat This Aloud

Counterpunch

October 16, 2013

By Macdonald Stainsby

Before Tzeporah Berman began her current position as head of the North American Tar Sands Coalition, Tides Canada had already established these structures to create near-total control over budgets– and therefore, most decisions– for staggering numbers of organizations. Berman was around at the time, working for PowerUp pushing forward offsets garnered by river destruction. Some of the participant organizations already had working partnerships with multiple tar sands producers. The over-whelming majority were already greased by primarily high donors and foundations. Thus, joining the NATSC meant, essentially, double dipping.

The Tides Foundation began the NATSC as a project with earmarked funding coming from other large philanthropic foundations. This unelected and unseen structure was created to stand as a vehicle to help forge a similar backroom strategy for and likely negotiation of a “final agreement” to end campaigns against either certain segments or corporations involved in tar sands, likely borrowing from concepts involved in crafting similar deals with forestry corporations.

In 2009, as a part of producing Offsetting Resistance, a full strategy paper document was leaked to myself and Dru Oja Jay. It was an internal paper from a few months prior that outlined the secret nature of the coalition, the internal structures, the over-all short, middle and long term goals of a foundation funded, and foundation directed entity that was earmarked as a project of Tides Canada, and not as a separate NGO.

The pressure applied and leveraged would be out of the hard work of other people. The people who had worked at a community or first nations grassroots level were not only to not be consulted, if deal negotiations were to happen it was without anyone but a select few ever knowing anything about it. Until the press conference.

The documents make this point specifically: “This document is confidential” reads the front page of the strategy paper for the single most important climate campaign of their multi-million dollar philanthropy. But the real kicker is the breakdown of the structures. Under the heading “Enroll key decision makers while isolating opponents” : We will not make the decisions to slow and clean up the tar sands – those in positions of authority will.”

Though there are many problematic proposed solutions contained within the program (carbon offsets, for example), this was written by Michael Marx, then head of Tides’ Tar Sands Coalition in 2008. Specific demands, strategy and more may well have moved on, especially in the face of new coalition partner, Bill McKibben, and the PR group that has brought the world 350.org. Pipeline struggles, in years past, were not as heavily focused upon as now. Keystone (both of them) gets only a whiff in the paper by name; Enbridge Gateway is described but not named. Indeed, how times have changed.

Instead of predictions about the terms of a sell-out, the focus here should be on the structures as they are described. We know automatically the terms will be detrimental to the needs of the climate or of community, simply because the Canadian Boreal Initiative, Environmental Defense, WWF, CPAWS and other organizations who do more than negotiate backroom deals– but publicly embrace and partner with corporations like Suncor, Nexen, Dow Chemical and more– are leading members. The coalition groups are now under the twin auspices of Tides and Pew funding, as well Tides and Pew membership as further “partners.”

This further blurring of foundations who are increasingly “activist” in their own right, speaking and campaigning as “just another green group” is accelerating. In the past few years, new brazen language has come from Tides Canada, previously unthinkable: “At Tides Canada we are working to bridge these two polarized camps (environmentalists and tar sands corporations– MS). As a convener of diverse interests, we’ve played this role before, most notably in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest.1”

The quote above was a letter penned by President and CEO of Tides Canada, Ross McMillan. When the Great Bear Rainforest backroom deal was announced, it was publicized as a triumph of “Rainforest Solutions Project,” then comprising ForestEthics, Sierra Club BC, Greenpeace Canada and the Rainforest Action Network (RAN has since withdrawn support for the agreement). Tides was then, to use their jargon, “invisible to the outside,” but now speaks publicly as both a “stakeholder” and financial lifeblood. Now they advertise prior secretive involvement.

When looking at the real structures of the “North American Tar Sands Coalition” remember that it “shall remain invisible to the outside and to the extent possible, staff will be “purchased” from engaged organizations.”

“Purchasing” staff means that a person who is acting in the capacity of the directives of the paymaster coalition is never to public refer to the actual job, or even the organization. As such, even though someone took a leave from, say, the Pembina Institute to become a coordinator within the Tar Sands Coalition steering committee, and cashed paycheques from Tides referencing this work, they would publicly identify with their former employing organization, the Pembina Institute.

In fact, the above perfectly described the Canadian tar sands coordinator for Tides previously, Dan Woynillowicz. Google his name and he appears only as Pembina. The fact that demands, media, talking points, statements and interviews and paydays all then came from Tides direction was to “remain invisible to the outside.” He stepped aside for Jennifer Lash, who appears publicly as Executive Director of Living Oceans BC. She is, in fact, coordinator of Tides Canadian section.

Michael Marx is the former “lead coordinator” from the tar sands steering committee, above the American and Canadian coordinators. These three, in collaboration with media coordinators, form the power nucleus. Other foundations centralize campaign contributions to the Tides Coalition, and will re-direct appeals for tar sands funding to the national coordinators from this one group. This has effectively narrowed the overwhelming portion of all tar sands funding from foundation sources, leaving astronomical power in the hands of an unseen entity.

How does the final say evolve? According to Marx while he was still coordinator: “While NGOs generally prefer a network structure that allows for maximum communication, and minimal centralized control, foundations investing most heavily in the campaign have a vested interest in exercising some control over the process”(emphasis mine).

Michael Marx has moved on as mentioned, for Tzeporah Berman to become head of the North American Tar Sands Coalition. Marx himself is officially a campaigner once again with the Sierra Club in the United States.

The “Tar Sands Solutions Network” appears to be the vehicle for a public face to negotiate a “win-win” deal. A couple of years ago, the Mediacoop.ca and later on the Globe and Mail reported a leak of an attempted “fireside chat” that was to happen with no fanfare, media or record of its existence. This chat was to involve some of the largest players in energy corporations operating in the tar sands, “with beer in hand” alongside some of the more compromised and right wing environmental organizations.

That particular meeting was aborted after the leak.

There are other secret meetings as well, ones where you have to sign before hand not to release any information about what is discussed. There– without the input of the multiple indigenous communities and other active community resistance movements that target tar sands on both sides of the colonial border– strategy for the short, middle and long terms are drawn up.

Foundations spring for the event, foundations also “influence” talking points, strategy is laid out and so on. Recently, for example, there was such a meeting held off the coast of British Columbia. People who organize in other areas would likely know many of those who attended. Attendees are all sworn overtly not to speak out about its mere existence.

The coalition is the same invisible Trojan Horse that so many “collaborative model” agreements have come from in the past. Berman is simply the public face of capitalism’s last ditch attempt to save itself. The system needs reinvention as it collapses under strain, and the new class of would be green capitalists seek to emerge out of this crisis like Henry Ford did from the Depression. Exploitation of the working class, continued indigenous colonialism at home, war mongering imperialism, permanently expanding growth economics– all with climate effects being transferred onto the over-exploited majority world– this is all “just the way things are,” because “we don’t have time to try and transform the system,” and so on are invoked in defending a strategy of accommodation to capital.

The reality is it results in defeat; the tar sands are a cornerstone– as is all oil– to a growth economy. Fracking, tar sands, offshore, coal to liquids, mountain top removal and the prize of Utah and Colorado’s oil shale, every last bit of it and more must be opposed. Growth is the problem. Green capitalism is a false promise to unite a growth economy with a healthy atmosphere. It is a lie.

If the economic framework of assigning value to land to be converted to resources for dollars is not challenged, oil will continue. It is not a renegade or rogue industry. It is a perfectly normal, capitalist industry.

Big Energy’s power is a reflection of the centrality of energy, leading to influence. It is a logic completely at peace with accumulation of profit and the dominance of capital. More than “not a rogue industry,” it is the flagship, the pinnacle of industries under late industrial capitalism.

Oil exploitation has existed in every industrial society of the last few centuries; however, like the arms industry, the power nexus of its placement in the over-all economic structure of the West makes it absolutely impossible to decouple a dismantling of the power structure with any hope of weakening some falsely labelled “rogue” industry. We need at minimum to declare no right of any backroom negotiation around tar sands. Nothing can green them, nothing can legitimize discussions. Public or private.

Growth is the elephant in the living room we must confront. We must reject a “green shift” that panders to “have your cake and eat it too” eco-populism, the lefty-green rhetoric of a new green bourgeoisie trying to burst forth.

By making capital sacrosanct (“[F]oundations investing most heavily in the campaign have a vested interest in exercising some control over the process.”), the negotiation process cannot do anything about the situation of capital dominance.

Capital is most dominant in the North American political party system. The pro-Obama language of the “Tar Sands Solutions Network” likely indicates a nod to board member Bill McKibben, whose own Rockefeller funded, pro-Obama organizing in 350.org has become stuck on a hamster wheel chasing the Keystone XL. Simply put, the same PR professional thinking below the border that designed the Democrats’ Moveon.org are now more than likely having influence on crafting part of the over-all trajectory of tar sands big money organizing. Brand Obama sells, but the products are made of oil.

Let us ask: Can choreography win the day? In the excellent article “The Climate Movement’s Pipeline Preoccupation” from last week, four Rising Tide community organizers pointed out:

“[T]he mainstream Keystone XL and Northern Gateway campaigns operate on a flawed assumption that the climate movement can compel our elected leaders to respond to the climate crisis with nothing more than an effective communications strategy.”

The people who would negotiate away the work done in other diverse communities are unseen, unelected, unaccountable and have friendly relations with large corporations for a reason. They are not even a large minority of those organizing in opposition to tar sands and the energy industries, however. Those whose resistance have done the most to create this situation?

Some have warm relations with certain facets of Big Green, but all have organized independent of Big Green structures, built separate movements of their own, evolving community directed demands. Through a process of building, what it is that cannot be negotiated has evolved for every different movement in their own manner. There is not just one movement, and there are just as many different sets of principles.

Impacted indigenous communities are building opposition to Line 9 expansion with allies of theirs from outlying communities; People in Utah & Texas are engaged in creative responses of resistance to proposed tar sands mining or pipeline construction; indigenous territory has been reclaimed and rebuilt blocking all energy pipeline construction: Tar sands oil, fracked gas, none of it is being allowed across Unist’ot’en Territory near the Pacific Ocean coastline. There are other paths being walked.

People can now raise a clear voice in opposition to further moves to negotiate a final agreement that no one has any mandate to work on. We must reject the collaborative model succinctly for the tar sands, whether expressed by pipeline deals or in Alberta and Saskatchewan at the source of developments. The impacts globally from setting a North American tar sands collaborative process in motion could irreparably damage resistance to tar sands in places where it is now just getting off the ground around the world.

The current Big Green structures are undemocratic and cloak and dagger in appearance. The participants are organizations and certain individuals with a history of bad democratic practice and serious pro-corporate sympathies.

There comes a time, as has been said, when silence is betrayal. Let this be known as just such a time. Let us celebrate the existing diversity of the movements in opposition to tar sands and fossil fuels, and that have targeted the immediate, essential need to make clear the impossibility of parceling the land as a solution.

We must make certain solidarity is a true bottom line for those who are seen as allies in the battles over tar sands and climate. Solidarity cannot come from secret conversations with the enemy. Let us speak too, of this reality: Big energy is the enemy. Not bad practices within it, but the energy and growth economy itself.

The equivalent of the Canadian Tea Party crowd has filled newspaper columns with stories to frighten you and I about the power of American money. Much of the foundation-led anti-tar sands cash has been coming from the United States, and as such we are supposed to cringe at the origin. Yet it would not matter if the paper trail led one to the moon– resources in and of themselves are not the issue. Were spending resources to be the issue, big energy companies and the federal government within Canada itself have vastly outspent the foundations on both sides of the 49th parallel, promoting unfettered tar sands. The problem is the distortion of active resistance, and the hi-jacking of a public process.

These are battles that determine whether or not we can make a grim situation survivable. Capital has caused this near calamity, we surely need to stop trying to save it from itself any longer. Capital has also polluted our own thinking– and actions– from within. We must reinvigorate a democratic environmental movement through a refutation of back room deals– and organize active resistance to those who would try and negotiate one.

 

[Macdonald Stainsby is an anti-tar sands and social justice activist, freelance writer and professional hitchhiker looking for a ride to the better world, currently based in Vancouver, Canada. He can be reached at mstainsby@resist.ca]

 

2011 | The Big Green Race to Extinction

Published February 17th, 2011 by Political Context under the headline: 2011 | The Race to the Bottom Accelerates

By Cory Morningstar | http://bit.ly/i35O4J | http://bit.ly/gh2HRe | http://bit.ly/i8HdXq

 

2011 | The Race to the Bottom Accelerates

 

Illustration courtesy of Stephanie McMillan | CODE GREEN

“The Earth isn’t dying, it’s being killed, and those who are killing it have names and addresses.” – Utah Philips

As we now stand firmly on the precipice – staring irreversible climate catastrophe and natural resource depletion squarely in the face – the world accelerates its pace in a mad race to the bottom. Running with the baton are the world’s largest environmental NGOs – non-profit organizations. Although the industrial non-profit complex claims to speak for civil society, in reality these groups are the sanctioning agents of a planet which is rapidly becoming completely dominated by corporate control. These groups have been integral to lending legitimacy and credibility to the very corporations hell bent on destroying and commodifying what little remains of our increasingly fragile planet. What we are now witnessing is a race for the last remaining shared commons. Commons which should be protected and held ‘in trust’ for future generations – if only our governments were not mere puppets of corporate power and control.

WTF WEF: “Defining Civil Society, Once and For All”

“We are blinded, enchanted and finally enslaved by spectacle.” – Empire of Illusion, Chris Hedges

In the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting of 2005 one topic of significant importance was ‘Defining Civil Society, Once and For All’. The moderator Bassir Pour cited there was a 15 minute delay as many of the participants had been listening to the panel titled ‘The G8 and Africa: Rhetoric or Action? ‘ This panel had highlighted an example of ‘civil society in action’ in the form of a demonstration by Greenpeace, which Pour said put a smile on her lips because it was so peaceful. To be sure, there is nothing that makes a corporation or corporate-controlled government happier than a passive, unthreatening demonstration with no fighting spirit. Mind you, the same corporate entities do not uphold such similar peaceful ideologies for themselves to abide by. For example, in Columbia and other developing countries, Coca-Cola has murdered hundreds of union leaders. Dole has had no qualms in knowingly exposing banana workers to toxins resulting in sterilization. On December 26, 2009, Dora “Alicia” Recinos Sorto, age 32, was assassinated. Dora was the second anti-mining activist killed that week in the small community of Nueva Trinidad. Recinos Sorto was eight months pregnant and carrying her two-year old child when she was shot on her way back from doing laundry at a nearby river. Canadian Mining Company Pacific Rim has come under fire for these accelerating assassinations which continue today. In vulnerable countries such violence has become a daily part of life. Activists are targeted and become the invisible victims of the murderous economic system. Demonstrations have morphed from the fierce unwavering determination witnessed in the sixties to the ‘acceptable’ demonstrations now recognized today which are overwhelmingly ineffective. Such assembly line ‘protests’ undoubtedly inspire reactions from the global elite such as, “look at the cute proles who believe they can make a difference – adorable. Now let’s get back to business.” Touching on today’s ineffective movements, on 3 February 2011, Mr. Fish of truthdig.org asks the question: “What do we have now? An anti-war movement that is so gutless and so savagely unimaginative that, rather than gaining purpose and momentum in the face of our government’s ever-increasing disdain for peace in the Middle East, it has proved itself to be too lazy, even too cowardly, to face down the very disease of oligarchy that it had concocted itself to cure.” This statement can easily be applied to today’s environmental movement.

Pacific Rim Corporation: Above: Anti-Mining Activist Recinos Sorto – Assassinated

WEF: “Organizing Their Dream World”

One response to the question of ‘how to define civil society’ was that since big business foundations are incentivized by the tax code, corporations are not civil society, but foundations are. Therefore it should be no surprise the ‘big green’ groups who claim they receive no corporate funding can legitimately do so, merely because foundations serve as corporate front groups. The big greens are funded by the very foundations set up by the corporations who essentially serve as a money laundering service in what the elites proclaim as philanthro-capitalism. Others questions in the WEF discussion were: “Could an NGO formed by a corporation be part of civil society? Does acceptance of government contracts make an NGO an extension of government? Are the big NGOs still members of civil society?” In the summing up period, Pour said, Kofi Annan’s advice was the main point: to keep “organizing our dream world.”

The following year, at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of 2006 a topic of significant importance was ‘Building Trust in Public and Private Institutions’. Richard Edelman, President and CEO of Edelman, USA, reported that opinion leaders now trust NGOs more than business, media and government for information. “NGOs are the most trusted institution in nearly every market,” he stated. (Edelman’s Trust Barometer 2006 Seventh Global Opinion Leaders Study). He further reported that “Information conveyed by CEOs is at the bottom of the list, even lower than politicians, with organizations such as Amnesty International, WWF World Wide Fund for Nature, Greenpeace, and Médecins Sans Frontières at the top of the ranking.” Guy Ryder, General Secretary, International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), Brussels, corroborated the Edelman survey: “Trust matters. There is a feeling of bewilderment which dramatically impacts on people’s lives. They feel powerless; we do not have a means of expressing opinions. ‘Trust proximity’ is the thing that you are familiar with; it includes the things you understand.” Ryder further explained that for the ordinary person, “NGOs seem ‘more like me’ and convey the things that matter to me.” He noted that the fall of confidence in public institutions is the most alarming. “53% of people in the US want to be represented by trade unions, but corporate America stops this.” (Corporate America certainly does stop this. Corporate power has been utilizing corporate-owned media to its absolute advantage in a major attempt to turn the public sentiment against unions – the last remaining collective to threaten corporate power. The rhetoric spewed out by the corporate media is nothing less than incredible.)

Make no mistake, NGOs are recognized by corporate power as an absolutely essential element – indispensable for ensuring corporate power can quite easily advance their agenda.

First Place: Nature Conservancy

 

“Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate” – Bertrand Russell

At the front line of the race to the bottom we must recognize The Nature Conservancy for accepting the challenge of “protecting nature” in an announced new partnership with Dow Chemical who have generously gifted Nature Conservancy with a cool $10 million. Unfortunately, this ‘bankrolled consent’ most likely means Dow will be too financially strapped to clean up Bhopal – whose citizens continue to suffer to this day. Never mind last week it was announced that Dow’s profit has tripled. The corporation reported a profit of $511 million for the quarter ending in December 2010. Nature Conservancy’s president and CEO is none other than former Goldman Sachs Group executive, Mark Tercek. Perhaps not coincidentally, former Nature Conservancy president Henry Paulson also made his rounds through the revolving doors of the Goldman Sachs Group. Yet another Nature Conservancy board member, Muneer Satter, also originated from Goldman Sachs. You may recall the name Goldman Sachs – most known for their role in the brilliantly executed 2008 financial crisis which threw millions into poverty as the rich became even richer. As well, Nature Conservancy just hired a new marketing director in 2010 — former executive vice president for marketing at World Wrestling Entertainment. Prior to that position, he served as senior vice president for marketing at Showtime Networks. Showtime indeed. Fiction? Satire? Unfortunately not. If such organizations were not so dangerous, one would have to laugh. However, considering we are on the brink of exterminating our own children, this is truly sickening and no laughing matter. (Fyi – The Nature Conservancy has more than $3.7 billion in assets, annual revenue of $860 million – remember that when they ask you for your last 20 bucks.)

Second Place: Greenpeace International

And what does the world’s most recognized NGO plan to do in the face of cataclysmic climate change, as the opportunity to avoid irreversible planetary collapse slowly dissipates? It launches an international campaign to ‘green’ Facebook by Earth Day, April 22, 2011.

Enough said.

Update! 11 February 2011: “Today we need you to join a very special photo petition — … no, call it a competition — The 10 most-liked photos on Wednesday, 16 February at 17:00 CET will feature in an upcoming Greenpeace activity… (say no more, nudge nudge, wink wink). We also have campaign t-shirts for the top ten, and a CD of “Amchitka, The 1970 Concert that Launched Greenpeace,” featuring Joni Mitchell, Phil Ochs, and James Taylor, for the most popular photo of all. The funniest, weirdest, and most provocative photos will probably get the most ‘Likes’, so have some fun with it, submit your photo and get “liking” right away! Happy snapping, Team Facebook (at Greenpeace!)”

Third Place: WWF Presents National Sweater Day

 

“It’s time to Get Sweatered!” WWF-Canada announces a brand new campaign for Sweater Day, February 17, 2011. And after this you can look forward to shutting your lights off for that one hour a year in WWF’s annual Earth Hour campaign. As always, big greens frame the conversation on what an individual can do while vehemently neglecting to discuss the root cause of climate change – the current economic system. In this campaign, our youth is led to believe that small individual actions will help solve our environmental crisis. They can’t. Further, the crisis is framed to be most unthreatening, simply because the solution proposed requires so little effort. Of course, this campaign isn’t complete without prizes to feed the insatiable need to consume – which this campaign endorses by way of participation. (WWF International’s operating revenue totalled 224.2 million in 2010. Carter Roberts, CEO and President, took home a meagre $486,394 in 2008.)

Honourable Mentions: Friends of the Earth International


Courtesy of Keith Farnish’s Unsuitablog

“Find out about the Good Shopping Guide application: http://bit.ly/hH44mK Plus win an iPod touch! ” – Friends of the Earth via twitter

Friends of the Earth, 1970-2011
RIP

Worst Video

 

The video featuring a 2 minute summary of the COP16 conference and highlighting the brand TckTckTck makes light of our planetary emergency and tells the viewer… absolutely nothing. Further, the video frames Bolivia as an obstructionist to the negotiations when in fact Bolivia stood alone rejecting an agreement which will lead to mass genocide. Alone, Bolivia fought for life using powerful, ethical arguments, defending the people’s agreements adopted in Cochabamba which would protect Mother Earth, all species and future generations. All big greens have declined to endorse the People’s Agreement which places people before corporate profit. It appears this video, being promoted widely, was created by TckTckTck partner UKYCC.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76BgKe1naFc

First Prize for Most Dangerous: Greenpeace at the World Economic Forum

“Capitalism justified itself and was adopted as an economic principle on the express ground that it provides selfish motives for doing good, and that human beings will do nothing except for selfish motives” – George Bernard Shaw

In the frontline of global economic forums such as the WEF, commonly referred to simply as Davos, you will recognize the exceptionally orchestrated Greenpeace demonstrations. This is the Greenpeace that rides today on the coat-tails of the legacy laid down by the original Greenpeace founders decades ago.  A Greenpeace which in reality no longer exists. Before being co-opted by corporate power, Greenpeace consisted of grassroots activists who were not interested in discussing compromise. One such founder, Bob Hunter, wore a ‘fuck off’ sign around his neck in a public meetings. These real-life eco-warriors had no fear of ripping to shreds those who were destroying our planet.

A headline on an image posted on 10 January 2011 reads, “Sixty Greenpeace activists dressed in skeleton suits protest in front of the World Economic Forum conference against Dow Chemical”. The banners reads, “Clean up Bhopal Now!” The images are moving. Yet, in the background something much different is going on … behind the scenes … for those who dance in the elitist circle … the champagne flows almost as fast as the money.

 

7 February 2011, Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International and chair of the Havas creation TckTckTck ‘speaks to power’ in Johannesburg, South Africa. Naidoo explains that at the World Economic Forum in Davos he had meetings with no fewer than 15 chief executives of major corporations, men whose decisions help shape (destroy) our environment and affect workers’ rights (exploitation) and ultimately what kind of world we pass on to our children and grandchildren (irreversible climate hell with collapsed ecosystems). Naidoo states that the first meeting was a breakfast briefing with Unilever. Naidoo states he was invited by the chief executive to speak of the curious relationship his company enjoys with Greenpeace.

Curious. Yes. It is most interesting that TckTckTck creator Havas serves the world’s most powerful clients such as Unilver and EDF (nuclear).

For an excellent briefing on why Greenpeace working with corporate power for a better world is bullshit slash greenwash, Richard Samans offers an astute analysis in “Running the World After the Crash,” in Jan 2011 Foreign Policy. “Two years ago the elites were scared to death by the global crash, their economic nostrums discredited. Thousands of citizens took to the streets. Governments fell. Others desperately promised a new era of financial re-regulation, world cooperation on the environment and food crises created by neoliberalism and exponential growth. Then they regained confidence. Banks were “too big to fail”. The taxpayer was told to pay the bill for the playboys of the Western world. Trillions of private debt were transferred to the taxpayer (socialism for the rich) – a bill that our children and their children will have to pay. A further consequence: there is “no money left”, we are told, to finance climate action, international aid, schools, healthcare, housing, job creation and infrastructure. The elites are laughing all the way to the bank. And the high priests of the system (at Davos Jan 2011) say the next whirl of the financial wheel will be based on carbon credits.”


First Prize for Most Tasteless | Greenpeace Makes Light of Tibetan Oppression

Under attack for the tasteless 30 second Super Bowl commercial using Tibet, the corporation responsible, Groupon, stepped into the defensive mode. As images of Tibet were shown, actor Timothy Hutton read, “The people of Tibet are in trouble. Their very culture is in jeopardy.” The scene cuts to Hutton inside a restaurant: “But they still whip up an amazing fish curry. And since 200 of us bought at groupon.com we’re each getting 30 dollars worth of Tibetan food for just 15 dollars at Himalayan restaurant in Chicago.”

Although this ad is clearly distasteful and trivializes the incredibly serious issue of human rights violations in Tibet, Greenpeace, who also uses Groupon, defended the ad. “Greenpeace is happily participating in the campaign. The truth is that the ‘Save the Money’ campaign and the commercial are really helping us save the whales,” Greenpeace’s John Hocevar said in a blog post. He added, “They loved the idea of poking fun at themselves by talking about discounts as a noble cause.”

People aware of how the Tibetan culture is being destroyed in the conflict with China understand struggles of Tibet deserve respect.

From the Free Tibet website: “For Groupon the commercial has generated a lot of free media coverage and it could be argued that the advert has helped raise the profile of what is happening in Tibet, after all awareness is the first step to accountability. But it does put Tibetans and their suffering at the heart of the joke and when it’s used for commercial purposes that is exploitative. The commercial also exposes that fact that across the US and arguably the world the public know what is happening inside Tibet. But that leaves the uncomfortable fact that not enough of us are holding the Chinese Communist Party accountable for the suffering in Tibet, nor for that matter are our own governments being held accountable for their failure to hold China accountable for its appalling human rights record in Tibet.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reLqtMb4-e8&feature=related (What Remains of Us: This film was shot without the knowledge of the Chinese authorities, using small digital cameras, during nearly a dozen secret forays into Tibet between 1996 and 2004.)

First Prize for Most Predictable

 

Reformers who are always compromising, have not yet grasped the idea that truth is the only safe ground to stand upon.” – Elizabeth Stanton

 

Rockefeller funded 350.org wins hands down for the predictable launch of their Businesses For 350 Campaign.  How to get to 350?  You won’t find the answer on this site … maybe just keep recycling or consuming. It appears Bill McKibben of 350.org neglected to read our 10:10:10 critique from October 2010.

First Prize for Most Undetected Greenwash of 2010

TckTckTck – partner of 350.org, WWF, Greenpeace and hundreds of other NGOs – was created by Havas, one of the largest marketing and PR firms in the world. Havas clients include a torrent of the largest and most powerful corporations on the planet. Given that economic growth is the root cause of greenhouse gas emissions growth (they have been neck and neck for the last 50 years); and the raison d’etre of Havas is to ensure TckTckTck founding partner corporations including EDF (the largest nuclear corporation on the planet) increase profits through economic growth; TckTckTck was fatally compromised at its inception. In the 2010 ‘Public Eye’ campaign it states, “Organized since 2000, Public Eye reminds corporations with destructive business practices that actions have consequences, presenting ‘name and shame’ awards to the nastiest corporate players of the year and through these awards presents to the world the immoral nexus between corporate power and the political elite.” In 2010, following the Copenhagen disaster, Greenpeace Switzerland participated in naming the Public Eye Award to “the nastiest corporate player of the year”.  The nominees included GDF Suez and Roche – TckTckTck founding partners. In summary, Greenpeace, partner of TckTckTck (Kumi Naidoo chairs both Greenpeace International and TckTckTck, also known as GCCA) is in partnership with these same corporations (GDF Suez and Roche). Such campaigns and organizations make a mockery of those suffering on the front lines of the climate emergency today. The layers of deceit are breathtaking.

As of today there remains a shortcut link on the Havas website to www.tcktcktck.org to “join the fight for climate justice”. And business for Havas has never been better – new business remains strong. (€1.6 billion for the first nine months of the year, compared with €1.1 billion for the same period in 2009 (+42%)).

 

TckTckTck has removed their partner, the Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change, from visibility on the www.tcktcktck.org website after screenshots and information of this collaboration were released to their supporters and partners using their own listserv. The TckTckTck partners within the Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change group include Shell, Coca-Cola and RBC. RBC is the number one financier of the most destructive project on the planet – the tar sands.  Over 1,000 corporate entities make up this TckTckTck partner group.

 

Eradicating Stupidity | Going Forward

“As for the bourgeois state, we are seeking to overcome it, to overthrow it.” Salvador Allende, 1970


 

 

Just as wearing sweaters will not make any meaningful dent in our climate crisis; just as turning Facebook green amounts to essentially nothing; just as ‘green’ shopping and more i-pods only serve to further destroy us; and just as the Nature Conservancy – Dow partnership will only serve to greenwash; consuming as a means of helping will not save whales or anything else. Every day, our current economic system continues brings us one day closer to cataclysmic, irreversible climate change and ecosystem collapse on a global scale.

And while we may not expect truth from the bloated NGOs, we should not accept it. Importantly, while we recognize the demise of ethics within the vast monopoly of NGOs who protect the very system that grips us securely in a stranglehold, we must also recognize that within these corporate structures are well-intentioned citizens and even activists who are just as frustrated by the censorship and symbolic ‘feel good’ campaigns that appeal to our society’s worst traits. Such traits such as individualism, greed, apathy and narcissism are integral for a profoundly weak and divided society. Therefore, such traits are kept fed and nourished by the corporate powers who are, in turn, completely dependent upon society’s successful indoctrination and feelings of powerlessness. Fortunately, for the ethical, yet repressed, campaigners on the inside, in 2011 we now have Enviroleaks – enabling those within the system to leak imperative documents, without fear of repercussion.

What else is new in 2011? To date, there are no mainstream NGOs who are willing to campaign on militarism and its massive contribution to climate change. One would think that this would be a sure ‘win’ upon which the NGOs should love to attach themselves. Really, how many people do you know that would oppose a campaign to end occupations and war? Known to most citizens, militarism in the US represents such a massive chunk of the budget, there is little money for anything else. Healthcare and education remain mere irritants of the lowest priority. Although this reckless budget will no doubt contribute to bankrupting the US sooner rather than later – only to line bank vaults of the corporations and the controlling plutocracy – the big greens are silent on the issue. It appears that millions of lives lost count for little.

And like we must stop the soothing yet false illusion that governments will someday do what they are supposed to do – represent their constituents and act in their best interests – we must also stop the false illusion that NGOs will confront the system and inspire a desperately needed uprising of the people who reject all false solutions while also demanding nothing less a new system which functions to serve only the essential needs of the people while protecting all life and our planet.

To date, the big greens refuse to tell supporters what the most critical aspects of climate change are, in spite of the insistent urging from climate justice activists. These are the imperatives every citizen has the right to know … and are not being told.

1)    In order to stabilize the planet, the world must achieve zero carbon emissions. Zero is the only number that matters and it must be achieved in a matter of years, not decades.  We are in a planetary emergency at less than 1ºC rise.

2)    The current economic system is the root cause of climate change.

3)    A mass mobilization on a global scale is needed to convert to a clean, perpetual zero carbon economy which rejects all false solutions including green capitalism.

The destructive campaigns of the big greens highlighted within this article are just a drop in the bucket of symbolic brand-building nonsense. Therefore the easiest direct action of 2011 is this: hit unsubscribe. The industrial non-profit complex claims to represent and speak for you in economic forums and government institutions around the world. They don’t. And if they have no members of civil society, they immediately lose their power to speak for us.  If they no longer speak for us, they can no longer use civil society as a tool allowing the expansion of the corporate agenda.

The pursuit of profit verses our responsibility to protect nature brings us to a tragic reality that is difficult to accept. Decades of doing nothing means it is now too late to stop climate change. Yet, perhaps it is not too late (we hope) to avert the magnitude of long-term impacts by cutting emissions to zero at break-neck speed. If we miss this closing window of opportunity, feedbacks take over, at which point cataclysmic climate change becomes irreversible. Nature takes over, and our planet becomes a living hell.

Message to the Youth: do-or-die


 

“But we won’t spend a buck a dime a single cent to preclude disaster for our children. As a mother and a grandmother this is the line that grips my heart. I see this as ageism gone viral. We don’t really care about our kids just our credit rating and OUR pensions. I guess Queen Victoria was totally effective when she said, “Children should be seen and not heard. Our so called economic system doesn’t hear the children at all. I guess soon we won’t have to see them either. Good for us adults, our campaign is a BIG success.” – FB comment

Why does society expect the next generation to clean up this mess of unparalleled magnitude – especially considering instead of being given essential tools for life skills, they were given remotes, posters of corporate prostitots, and truckloads of made-for-landfill plastic stuff bursting with toxins, chemicals and everything else that makes one ashamed to be human. This apocalyptic nightmare should never have been left to a generation of youth who have been raised and indoctrinated by corporate America – yet here we are – and the wrath of insatiable greed is about to grab our youth by the throat.

While we listen to Maude Barlow and other wise owls who tell us the next generation is the one that will change everything, we must recognize that today’s youth have become a reflection of our morally bankrupt society – beautiful children who have succumbed to become, most comfortably numb. Millions have come close to over-dosing on social media such as Facebook and texting. Ironically, social media is a wet dream for the globe’s largest marketing public relations firms who represent the world’s most powerful corporations. Marketing executives and corporate super-powers are salivating over what they envision as the greatest opportunity to exploit the planet’s youth. The corporate powers are masters in the art of acclimatizing civil society into believing that we have no control. They methodically hypnotize us to believe resistance is hopeless and therefore should be given up. This very system that enslaves us can continue its existence only if we accept that resistance is futile. Not unlike pedophiles who prey upon children, the plutocracy preys upon and is dependent upon a society easily lured with candy.

Things can change. 2011 marks a paradigm shift. The Egyptians have taught the world how to use the very social media tools corporate gods had hoped would serve to manipulate, control and distract us – and use these tools, instead, as weapons of mass-resistance. We now have WikiLeaks and Anonymous, bound to inspire creativity, coupled with revolt, in ways not yet imagined. The Egyptians have also taught the world what a revolution requires – nothing less than the courage and conviction of hundreds of thousands and even millions of bodies in the streets that refuse to leave until victory is achieved.

Today’s youth have, not only a right, but a moral obligation, to rebel and destroy the current power structures that exist. This is necessary in order to salvage what is left of a raped and pillaged planet on the brink of ecological collapse. Martin Luther King once said that you cannot commit an act of violence against a non-sentient object. Today, police states and corporate controlled governments protect property, corporate interests, and industrialized economic growth over life itself. Drastic times require drastic measures; thus, our youth have the right to destroy the suicidal structures now threatening humanity. Echoing the words of Malcolm X, they must defend that right “by any means necessary”. And we must support them as they seize this right, for we have failed them.

“Liberties are not given, they are taken.” – Aldous Huxley

Go forward in self defence. No longer can we passively witness the rape, abuse and desecration of our Earth Mother.  No longer can we passively witness the exploitation, violence and oppression subjected on our brothers and sisters. In our fight  for survival and for all life, love is the guiding principle, illuminating the centre of our struggle. We will not negotiate life. We reject all compromise. We will practise non-violence in the spirit of the Buddhist concept of aggressive non-violence understanding that one cannot commit an act of violence against a non-sentient object. Although we will exercise compassionate wrath, we recognize we have the right to defend ourselves and our Earth Mother. We intend to do so. Self-defence is not a crime. We will attack the economic system – as this is the only language it understands. We will collectively fight to reclaim our dignity and power. The burning flame at the heart of our fight for life will not be smothered, rehabilitated, co-opted, or psychologically marginalized. There will be no dilution of our fervour, no lowering of the flames, or any muting of our essential collective voice. And if our fire destroys, it is for the sake or protection and healing and bringing us together as one. Our love will burn brilliantly. The time is now.

“Individually we may see ourselves as free, yet as a collective, we are slaves. The point where we free ourselves from our own animal is that moment when we become enlightened, where we see ourselves not as a person at a single point in time, but as a continuity in blood and in thought, spanning generations and time.” Harold One Feather

It is past time to start enacting civil disobedience on a massive scale. Knowledge is the weapon and it is time to arm the masses. Fuel distribution centres, pipelines, the industrial-military-complex, banks, the stock exchange: all must be targeted. Go forward. Don’t look back. Be courageous. Be strong. The truth is on our side. Our parents could not find the courage, which means we must. The Earth, and all life on this planet, pumps through our veins. To feel it, go outside and lie under a tree. Look up at the sky. We are nature. Nature is us. Our time is running out.

“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 

Cory Morningstar is climate justice activist whose recent writings can be found on Canadians for Action on Climate Change and The Art of Annihilation site where you can read her bio. You can follow her on Twitter: @elleprovocateur

Published February 17th, 2011 by Political Context under the headline: 2011 | The Race to the Bottom Accelerates

By Cory Morningstar | http://bit.ly/i35O4J | http://bit.ly/gh2HRe | http://bit.ly/i8HdXq

This piece continues the series being presented by Cory Morningstar and Gregory Vickrey and is part of their anticipated and controversial book and multimedia project due out in 2011.

2011 | The Race to the Bottom Accelerates

Illustration courtesy of Stephanie McMillan | CODE GREEN

“The Earth isn’t dying, it’s being killed, and those who are killing it have names and addresses.” – Utah Philips

As we now stand firmly on the precipice – staring irreversible climate catastrophe and natural resource depletion squarely in the face – the world accelerates its pace in a mad race to the bottom. Running with the baton are the world’s largest environmental NGOs – non-profit organizations. Although the industrial non-profit complex claims to speak for civil society, in reality these groups are the sanctioning agents of a planet which is rapidly becoming completely dominated by corporate control. These groups have been integral to lending legitimacy and credibility to the very corporations hell bent on destroying and commodifying what little remains of our increasingly fragile planet. What we are now witnessing is a race for the last remaining shared commons. Commons which should be protected and held ‘in trust’ for future generations – if only our governments were not mere puppets of corporate power and control.

WTF WEF: “Defining Civil Society, Once and For All”

“We are blinded, enchanted and finally enslaved by spectacle.” – Empire of Illusion, Chris Hedges

In the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting of 2005 one topic of significant importance was ‘Defining Civil Society, Once and For All’. The moderator Bassir Pour cited there was a 15 minute delay as many of the participants had been listening to the panel titled ‘The G8 and Africa: Rhetoric or Action? ‘ This panel had highlighted an example of ‘civil society in action’ in the form of a demonstration by Greenpeace, which Pour said put a smile on her lips because it was so peaceful. To be sure, there is nothing that makes a corporation or corporate-controlled government happier than a passive, unthreatening demonstration with no fighting spirit. Mind you, the same corporate entities do not uphold such similar peaceful ideologies for themselves to abide by. For example, in Columbia and other developing countries, Coca-Cola has murdered hundreds of union leaders. Dole has had no qualms in knowingly exposing banana workers to toxins resulting in sterilization. On December 26, 2009, Dora “Alicia” Recinos Sorto, age 32, was assassinated. Dora was the second anti-mining activist killed that week in the small community of Nueva Trinidad. Recinos Sorto was eight months pregnant and carrying her two-year old child when she was shot on her way back from doing laundry at a nearby river. Canadian Mining Company Pacific Rim has come under fire for these accelerating assassinations which continue today. In vulnerable countries such violence has become a daily part of life. Activists are targeted and become the invisible victims of the murderous economic system. Demonstrations have morphed from the fierce unwavering determination witnessed in the sixties to the ‘acceptable’ demonstrations now recognized today which are overwhelmingly ineffective. Such assembly line ‘protests’ undoubtedly inspire reactions from the global elite such as, “look at the cute proles who believe they can make a difference – adorable. Now let’s get back to business.” Touching on today’s ineffective movements, on 3 February 2011, Mr. Fish of truthdig.org asks the question: “What do we have now? An anti-war movement that is so gutless and so savagely unimaginative that, rather than gaining purpose and momentum in the face of our government’s ever-increasing disdain for peace in the Middle East, it has proved itself to be too lazy, even too cowardly, to face down the very disease of oligarchy that it had concocted itself to cure.” This statement can easily be applied to today’s environmental movement.

Pacific Rim Corporation: Above: Anti-Mining Activist Recinos Sorto – Assassinated

WEF: “Organizing Their Dream World”

One response to the question of ‘how to define civil society’ was that since big business foundations are incentivized by the tax code, corporations are not civil society, but foundations are. Therefore it should be no surprise the ‘big green’ groups who claim they receive no corporate funding can legitimately do so, merely because foundations serve as corporate front groups. The big greens are funded by the very foundations set up by the corporations who essentially serve as a money laundering service in what the elites proclaim as philanthro-capitalism. Others questions in the WEF discussion were: “Could an NGO formed by a corporation be part of civil society? Does acceptance of government contracts make an NGO an extension of government? Are the big NGOs still members of civil society?” In the summing up period, Pour said, Kofi Annan’s advice was the main point: to keep “organizing our dream world.”

The following year, at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of 2006 a topic of significant importance was ‘Building Trust in Public and Private Institutions’. Richard Edelman, President and CEO of Edelman, USA, reported that opinion leaders now trust NGOs more than business, media and government for information. “NGOs are the most trusted institution in nearly every market,” he stated. (Edelman’s Trust Barometer 2006 Seventh Global Opinion Leaders Study). He further reported that “Information conveyed by CEOs is at the bottom of the list, even lower than politicians, with organizations such as Amnesty International, WWF World Wide Fund for Nature, Greenpeace, and Médecins Sans Frontières at the top of the ranking.” Guy Ryder, General Secretary, International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), Brussels, corroborated the Edelman survey: “Trust matters. There is a feeling of bewilderment which dramatically impacts on people’s lives. They feel powerless; we do not have a means of expressing opinions. ‘Trust proximity’ is the thing that you are familiar with; it includes the things you understand.” Ryder further explained that for the ordinary person, “NGOs seem ‘more like me’ and convey the things that matter to me.” He noted that the fall of confidence in public institutions is the most alarming. “53% of people in the US want to be represented by trade unions, but corporate America stops this.” (Corporate America certainly does stop this. Corporate power has been utilizing corporate-owned media to its absolute advantage in a major attempt to turn the public sentiment against unions – the last remaining collective to threaten corporate power. The rhetoric spewed out by the corporate media is nothing less than incredible.)

Make no mistake, NGOs are recognized by corporate power as an absolutely essential element – indispensable for ensuring corporate power can quite easily advance their agenda.

First Place: Nature Conservancy

“Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate” – Bertrand Russell

At the front line of the race to the bottom we must recognize The Nature Conservancy for accepting the challenge of “protecting nature” in an announced new partnership with Dow Chemical who have generously gifted Nature Conservancy with a cool $10 million. Unfortunately, this ‘bankrolled consent’ most likely means Dow will be too financially strapped to clean up Bhopal – whose citizens continue to suffer to this day. Never mind last week it was announced that Dow’s profit has tripled. The corporation reported a profit of $511 million for the quarter ending in December 2010. Nature Conservancy’s president and CEO is none other than former Goldman Sachs Group executive, Mark Tercek. Perhaps not coincidentally, former Nature Conservancy president Henry Paulson also made his rounds through the revolving doors of the Goldman Sachs Group. Yet another Nature Conservancy board member, Muneer Satter, also originated from Goldman Sachs. You may recall the name Goldman Sachs – most known for their role in the brilliantly executed 2008 financial crisis which threw millions into poverty as the rich became even richer. As well, Nature Conservancy just hired a new marketing director in 2010 — former executive vice president for marketing at World Wrestling Entertainment. Prior to that position, he served as senior vice president for marketing at Showtime Networks. Showtime indeed. Fiction? Satire? Unfortunately not. If such organizations were not so dangerous, one would have to laugh. However, considering we are on the brink of exterminating our own children, this is truly sickening and no laughing matter. (Fyi – The Nature Conservancy has more than $3.7 billion in assets, annual revenue of $860 million – remember that when they ask you for your last 20 bucks.)

Second Place: Greenpeace International

And what does the world’s most recognized NGO plan to do in the face of cataclysmic climate change, as the opportunity to avoid irreversible planetary collapse slowly dissipates? It launches an international campaign to ‘green’ Facebook by Earth Day, April 22, 2011.

Enough said.

Update! 11 February 2011: “Today we need you to join a very special photo petition — … no, call it a competition — The 10 most-liked photos on Wednesday, 16 February at 17:00 CET will feature in an upcoming Greenpeace activity… (say no more, nudge nudge, wink wink). We also have campaign t-shirts for the top ten, and a CD of “Amchitka, The 1970 Concert that Launched Greenpeace,” featuring Joni Mitchell, Phil Ochs, and James Taylor, for the most popular photo of all. The funniest, weirdest, and most provocative photos will probably get the most ‘Likes’, so have some fun with it, submit your photo and get “liking” right away! Happy snapping, Team Facebook (at Greenpeace!)”

Third Place: WWF Presents National Sweater Day

“It’s time to Get Sweatered!” WWF-Canada announces a brand new campaign for Sweater Day, February 17, 2011. And after this you can look forward to shutting your lights off for that one hour a year in WWF’s annual Earth Hour campaign. As always, big greens frame the conversation on what an individual can do while vehemently neglecting to discuss the root cause of climate change – the current economic system. In this campaign, our youth is led to believe that small individual actions will help solve our environmental crisis. They can’t. Further, the crisis is framed to be most unthreatening, simply because the solution proposed requires so little effort. Of course, this campaign isn’t complete without prizes to feed the insatiable need to consume – which this campaign endorses by way of participation. (WWF International’s operating revenue totalled 224.2 million in 2010. Carter Roberts, CEO and President, took home a meagre $486,394 in 2008.)

Honourable Mentions: Friends of the Earth International


Courtesy of Keith Farnish’s Unsuitablog

“Find out about the Good Shopping Guide application: http://bit.ly/hH44mK Plus win an iPod touch! ” – Friends of the Earth via twitter

Friends of the Earth, 1970-2011
RIP

Worst Video

The video featuring a 2 minute summary of the COP16 conference and highlighting the brand TckTckTck makes light of our planetary emergency and tells the viewer… absolutely nothing. Further, the video frames Bolivia as an obstructionist to the negotiations when in fact Bolivia stood alone rejecting an agreement which will lead to mass genocide. Alone, Bolivia fought for life using powerful, ethical arguments, defending the people’s agreements adopted in Cochabamba which would protect Mother Earth, all species and future generations. All big greens have declined to endorse the People’s Agreement which places people before corporate profit. It appears this video, being promoted widely, was created by TckTckTck partner UKYCC.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76BgKe1naFc

First Prize for Most Dangerous: Greenpeace at the World Economic Forum

“Capitalism justified itself and was adopted as an economic principle on the express ground that it provides selfish motives for doing good, and that human beings will do nothing except for selfish motives” – George Bernard Shaw

In the frontline of global economic forums such as the WEF, commonly referred to simply as Davos, you will recognize the exceptionally orchestrated Greenpeace demonstrations. This is the Greenpeace that rides today on the coat-tails of the legacy laid down by the original Greenpeace founders decades ago.  A Greenpeace which in reality no longer exists. Before being co-opted by corporate power, Greenpeace consisted of grassroots activists who were not interested in discussing compromise. One such founder, Bob Hunter, wore a ‘fuck off’ sign around his neck in a public meetings. These real-life eco-warriors had no fear of ripping to shreds those who were destroying our planet.

A headline on an image posted on 10 January 2011 reads, “Sixty Greenpeace activists dressed in skeleton suits protest in front of the World Economic Forum conference against Dow Chemical”. The banners reads, “Clean up Bhopal Now!” The images are moving. Yet, in the background something much different is going on … behind the scenes … for those who dance in the elitist circle … the champagne flows almost as fast as the money.

7 February 2011, Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International and chair of the Havas creation TckTckTck ‘speaks to power’ in Johannesburg, South Africa. Naidoo explains that at the World Economic Forum in Davos he had meetings with no fewer than 15 chief executives of major corporations, men whose decisions help shape (destroy) our environment and affect workers’ rights (exploitation) and ultimately what kind of world we pass on to our children and grandchildren (irreversible climate hell with collapsed ecosystems). Naidoo states that the first meeting was a breakfast briefing with Unilever. Naidoo states he was invited by the chief executive to speak of the curious relationship his company enjoys with Greenpeace.

Curious. Yes. It is most interesting that TckTckTck creator Havas serves the world’s most powerful clients such as Unilver and EDF (nuclear).

For an excellent briefing on why Greenpeace working with corporate power for a better world is bullshit slash greenwash, Richard Samans offers an astute analysis in “Running the World After the Crash,” in Jan 2011 Foreign Policy. “Two years ago the elites were scared to death by the global crash, their economic nostrums discredited. Thousands of citizens took to the streets. Governments fell. Others desperately promised a new era of financial re-regulation, world cooperation on the environment and food crises created by neoliberalism and exponential growth. Then they regained confidence. Banks were “too big to fail”. The taxpayer was told to pay the bill for the playboys of the Western world. Trillions of private debt were transferred to the taxpayer (socialism for the rich) – a bill that our children and their children will have to pay. A further consequence: there is “no money left”, we are told, to finance climate action, international aid, schools, healthcare, housing, job creation and infrastructure. The elites are laughing all the way to the bank. And the high priests of the system (at Davos Jan 2011) say the next whirl of the financial wheel will be based on carbon credits.”


First Prize for Most Tasteless | Greenpeace Makes Light of Tibetan Oppression

Under attack for the tasteless 30 second Super Bowl commercial using Tibet, the corporation responsible, Groupon, stepped into the defensive mode. As images of Tibet were shown, actor Timothy Hutton read, “The people of Tibet are in trouble. Their very culture is in jeopardy.” The scene cuts to Hutton inside a restaurant: “But they still whip up an amazing fish curry. And since 200 of us bought at groupon.com we’re each getting 30 dollars worth of Tibetan food for just 15 dollars at Himalayan restaurant in Chicago.”

Although this ad is clearly distasteful and trivializes the incredibly serious issue of human rights violations in Tibet, Greenpeace, who also uses Groupon, defended the ad. “Greenpeace is happily participating in the campaign. The truth is that the ‘Save the Money’ campaign and the commercial are really helping us save the whales,” Greenpeace’s John Hocevar said in a blog post. He added, “They loved the idea of poking fun at themselves by talking about discounts as a noble cause.”

People aware of how the Tibetan culture is being destroyed in the conflict with China understand struggles of Tibet deserve respect.

From the Free Tibet website: “For Groupon the commercial has generated a lot of free media coverage and it could be argued that the advert has helped raise the profile of what is happening in Tibet, after all awareness is the first step to accountability. But it does put Tibetans and their suffering at the heart of the joke and when it’s used for commercial purposes that is exploitative. The commercial also exposes that fact that across the US and arguably the world the public know what is happening inside Tibet. But that leaves the uncomfortable fact that not enough of us are holding the Chinese Communist Party accountable for the suffering in Tibet, nor for that matter are our own governments being held accountable for their failure to hold China accountable for its appalling human rights record in Tibet.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reLqtMb4-e8&feature=related (What Remains of Us: This film was shot without the knowledge of the Chinese authorities, using small digital cameras, during nearly a dozen secret forays into Tibet between 1996 and 2004.)

First Prize for Most Predictable

Reformers who are always compromising, have not yet grasped the idea that truth is the only safe ground to stand upon.” – Elizabeth Stanton

Rockefeller funded 350.org wins hands down for the predictable launch of their Businesses For 350 Campaign.  How to get to 350?  You won’t find the answer on this site … maybe just keep recycling or consuming. It appears Bill McKibben of 350.org neglected to read our 10:10:10 critique from October 2010.

First Prize for Most Undetected Greenwash of 2010

TckTckTck – partner of 350.org, WWF, Greenpeace and hundreds of other NGOs – was created by Havas, one of the largest marketing and PR firms in the world. Havas clients include a torrent of the largest and most powerful corporations on the planet. Given that economic growth is the root cause of greenhouse gas emissions growth (they have been neck and neck for the last 50 years); and the raison d’etre of Havas is to ensure TckTckTck founding partner corporations including EDF (the largest nuclear corporation on the planet) increase profits through economic growth; TckTckTck was fatally compromised at its inception. In the 2010 ‘Public Eye’ campaign it states, “Organized since 2000, Public Eye reminds corporations with destructive business practices that actions have consequences, presenting ‘name and shame’ awards to the nastiest corporate players of the year and through these awards presents to the world the immoral nexus between corporate power and the political elite.” In 2010, following the Copenhagen disaster, Greenpeace Switzerland participated in naming the Public Eye Award to “the nastiest corporate player of the year”.  The nominees included GDF Suez and Roche – TckTckTck founding partners. In summary, Greenpeace, partner of TckTckTck (Kumi Naidoo chairs both Greenpeace International and TckTckTck, also known as GCCA) is in partnership with these same corporations (GDF Suez and Roche). Such campaigns and organizations make a mockery of those suffering on the front lines of the climate emergency today. The layers of deceit are breathtaking.

As of today there remains a shortcut link on the Havas website to www.tcktcktck.org to “join the fight for climate justice”. And business for Havas has never been better – new business remains strong. (€1.6 billion for the first nine months of the year, compared with €1.1 billion for the same period in 2009 (+42%)).

TckTckTck has removed their partner, the Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change, from visibility on the www.tcktcktck.org website after screenshots and information of this collaboration were released to their supporters and partners using their own listserv. The TckTckTck partners within the Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change group include Shell, Coca-Cola and RBC. RBC is the number one financier of the most destructive project on the planet – the tar sands.  Over 1,000 corporate entities make up this TckTckTck partner group.

Eradicating Stupidity | Going Forward

“As for the bourgeois state, we are seeking to overcome it, to overthrow it.” Salvador Allende, 1970


Just as wearing sweaters will not make any meaningful dent in our climate crisis; just as turning Facebook green amounts to essentially nothing; just as ‘green’ shopping and more i-pods only serve to further destroy us; and just as the Nature Conservancy – Dow partnership will only serve to greenwash; consuming as a means of helping will not save whales or anything else. Every day, our current economic system continues brings us one day closer to cataclysmic, irreversible climate change and ecosystem collapse on a global scale.

And while we may not expect truth from the bloated NGOs, we should not accept it. Importantly, while we recognize the demise of ethics within the vast monopoly of NGOs who protect the very system that grips us securely in a stranglehold, we must also recognize that within these corporate structures are well-intentioned citizens and even activists who are just as frustrated by the censorship and symbolic ‘feel good’ campaigns that appeal to our society’s worst traits. Such traits such as individualism, greed, apathy and narcissism are integral for a profoundly weak and divided society. Therefore, such traits are kept fed and nourished by the corporate powers who are, in turn, completely dependent upon society’s successful indoctrination and feelings of powerlessness. Fortunately, for the ethical, yet repressed, campaigners on the inside, in 2011 we now have Enviroleaks – enabling those within the system to leak imperative documents, without fear of repercussion.

What else is new in 2011? To date, there are no mainstream NGOs who are willing to campaign on militarism and its massive contribution to climate change. One would think that this would be a sure ‘win’ upon which the NGOs should love to attach themselves. Really, how many people do you know that would oppose a campaign to end occupations and war? Known to most citizens, militarism in the US represents such a massive chunk of the budget, there is little money for anything else. Healthcare and education remain mere irritants of the lowest priority. Although this reckless budget will no doubt contribute to bankrupting the US sooner rather than later – only to line bank vaults of the corporations and the controlling plutocracy – the big greens are silent on the issue. It appears that millions of lives lost count for little.

And like we must stop the soothing yet false illusion that governments will someday do what they are supposed to do – represent their constituents and act in their best interests – we must also stop the false illusion that NGOs will confront the system and inspire a desperately needed uprising of the people who reject all false solutions while also demanding nothing less a new system which functions to serve only the essential needs of the people while protecting all life and our planet.

To date, the big greens refuse to tell supporters what the most critical aspects of climate change are, in spite of the insistent urging from climate justice activists. These are the imperatives every citizen has the right to know … and are not being told.

1)    In order to stabilize the planet, the world must achieve zero carbon emissions. Zero is the only number that matters and it must be achieved in a matter of years, not decades.  We are in a planetary emergency at less than 1ºC rise.

2)    The current economic system is the root cause of climate change.

3)    A mass mobilization on a global scale is needed to convert to a clean, perpetual zero carbon economy which rejects all false solutions including green capitalism.

The destructive campaigns of the big greens highlighted within this article are just a drop in the bucket of symbolic brand-building nonsense. Therefore the easiest direct action of 2011 is this: hit unsubscribe. The industrial non-profit complex claims to represent and speak for you in economic forums and government institutions around the world. They don’t. And if they have no members of civil society, they immediately lose their power to speak for us.  If they no longer speak for us, they can no longer use civil society as a tool allowing the expansion of the corporate agenda.

The pursuit of profit versus our responsibility to protect nature brings us to a tragic reality that is difficult to accept. Decades of doing nothing means it is now too late to stop climate change. Yet, perhaps it is not too late (we hope) to avert the magnitude of long-term impacts by cutting emissions to zero at break-neck speed. If we miss this closing window of opportunity, feedbacks take over, at which point cataclysmic climate change becomes irreversible. Nature takes over, and our planet becomes a living hell.

Message to the Youth: do-or-die


“But we won’t spend a buck a dime a single cent to preclude disaster for our children. As a mother and a grandmother this is the line that grips my heart. I see this as ageism gone viral. We don’t really care about our kids just our credit rating and OUR pensions. I guess Queen Victoria was totally effective when she said, “Children should be seen and not heard. Our so called economic system doesn’t hear the children at all. I guess soon we won’t have to see them either. Good for us adults, our campaign is a BIG success.” – FB comment

Why does society expect the next generation to clean up this mess of unparalleled magnitude – especially considering instead of being given essential tools for life skills, they were given remotes, posters of corporate prostitots, and truckloads of made-for-landfill plastic stuff bursting with toxins, chemicals and everything else that makes one ashamed to be human. This apocalyptic nightmare should never have been left to a generation of youth who have been raised and indoctrinated by corporate America – yet here we are – and the wrath of insatiable greed is about to grab our youth by the throat.

While we listen to Maude Barlow and other wise owls who tell us the next generation is the one that will change everything, we must recognize that today’s youth have become a reflection of our morally bankrupt society – beautiful children who have succumbed to become, most comfortably numb. Millions have come close to over-dosing on social media such as Facebook and texting. Ironically, social media is a wet dream for the globe’s largest marketing public relations firms who represent the world’s most powerful corporations. Marketing executives and corporate super-powers are salivating over what they envision as the greatest opportunity to exploit the planet’s youth. The corporate powers are masters in the art of acclimatizing civil society into believing that we have no control. They methodically hypnotize us to believe resistance is hopeless and therefore should be given up. This very system that enslaves us can continue its existence only if we accept that resistance is futile. Not unlike pedophiles who prey upon children, the plutocracy preys upon and is dependent upon a society easily lured with candy.

Things can change. 2011 marks a paradigm shift. The Egyptians have taught the world how to use the very social media tools corporate gods had hoped would serve to manipulate, control and distract us – and use these tools, instead, as weapons of mass-resistance. We now have WikiLeaks and Anonymous, bound to inspire creativity, coupled with revolt, in ways not yet imagined. The Egyptians have also taught the world what a revolution requires – nothing less than the courage and conviction of hundreds of thousands and even millions of bodies in the streets that refuse to leave until victory is achieved.

Today’s youth have, not only a right, but a moral obligation, to rebel and destroy the current power structures that exist. This is necessary in order to salvage what is left of a raped and pillaged planet on the brink of ecological collapse. Martin Luther King once said that you cannot commit an act of violence against a non-sentient object. Today, police states and corporate controlled governments protect property, corporate interests, and industrialized economic growth over life itself. Drastic times require drastic measures; thus, our youth have the right to destroy the suicidal structures now threatening humanity. Echoing the words of Malcolm X, they must defend that right “by any means necessary”. And we must support them as they seize this right, for we have failed them.

“Liberties are not given, they are taken.” – Aldous Huxley

Go forward in self defence. No longer can we passively witness the rape, abuse and desecration of our Earth Mother.  No longer can we passively witness the exploitation, violence and oppression subjected on our brothers and sisters. In our fight  for survival and for all life, love is the guiding principle, illuminating the centre of our struggle. We will not negotiate life. We reject all compromise. We will practise non-violence in the spirit of the Buddhist concept of aggressive non-violence understanding that one cannot commit an act of violence against a non-sentient object. Although we will exercise compassionate wrath, we recognize we have the right to defend ourselves and our Earth Mother. We intend to do so. Self-defence is not a crime. We will attack the economic system – as this is the only language it understands. We will collectively fight to reclaim our dignity and power. The burning flame at the heart of our fight for life will not be smothered, rehabilitated, co-opted, or psychologically marginalized. There will be no dilution of our fervour, no lowering of the flames, or any muting of our essential collective voice. And if our fire destroys, it is for the sake or protection and healing and bringing us together as one. Our love will burn brilliantly. The time is now.

“Individually we may see ourselves as free, yet as a collective, we are slaves. The point where we free ourselves from our own animal is that moment when we become enlightened, where we see ourselves not as a person at a single point in time, but as a continuity in blood and in thought, spanning generations and time.” Harold One Feather

It is past time to start enacting civil disobedience on a massive scale. Knowledge is the weapon and it is time to arm the masses. Fuel distribution centres, pipelines, the industrial-military-complex, banks, the stock exchange: all must be targeted. Go forward. Don’t look back. Be courageous. Be strong. The truth is on our side. Our parents could not find the courage, which means we must. The Earth, and all life on this planet, pumps through our veins. To feel it, go outside and lie under a tree. Look up at the sky. We are nature. Nature is us. Our time is running out.

“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Cory Morningstar is climate justice activist whose recent writings can be found on Canadians for Action on Climate Change and The Art of Annihilation site where you can read her bio. You can follow her on Twitter: @elleprovocateur Published February 17th, 2011 by Political Context under the headline: 2011 | The Race to the Bottom Accelerates

By Cory Morningstar | http://bit.ly/i35O4J | http://bit.ly/gh2HRe | http://bit.ly/i8HdXq

This piece continues the series being presented by Cory Morningstar and Gregory Vickrey and is part of their anticipated and controversial book and multimedia project due out in 2011.

2011 | The Race to the Bottom Accelerates

 

Illustration courtesy of Stephanie McMillan | CODE GREEN

“The Earth isn’t dying, it’s being killed, and those who are killing it have names and addresses.” – Utah Philips

As we now stand firmly on the precipice – staring irreversible climate catastrophe and natural resource depletion squarely in the face – the world accelerates its pace in a mad race to the bottom. Running with the baton are the world’s largest environmental NGOs – non-profit organizations. Although the industrial non-profit complex claims to speak for civil society, in reality these groups are the sanctioning agents of a planet which is rapidly becoming completely dominated by corporate control. These groups have been integral to lending legitimacy and credibility to the very corporations hell bent on destroying and commodifying what little remains of our increasingly fragile planet. What we are now witnessing is a race for the last remaining shared commons. Commons which should be protected and held ‘in trust’ for future generations – if only our governments were not mere puppets of corporate power and control.

WTF WEF: “Defining Civil Society, Once and For All”

“We are blinded, enchanted and finally enslaved by spectacle.” – Empire of Illusion, Chris Hedges

In the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting of 2005 one topic of significant importance was ‘Defining Civil Society, Once and For All’. The moderator Bassir Pour cited there was a 15 minute delay as many of the participants had been listening to the panel titled ‘The G8 and Africa: Rhetoric or Action? ‘ This panel had highlighted an example of ‘civil society in action’ in the form of a demonstration by Greenpeace, which Pour said put a smile on her lips because it was so peaceful. To be sure, there is nothing that makes a corporation or corporate-controlled government happier than a passive, unthreatening demonstration with no fighting spirit. Mind you, the same corporate entities do not uphold such similar peaceful ideologies for themselves to abide by. For example, in Columbia and other developing countries, Coca-Cola has murdered hundreds of union leaders. Dole has had no qualms in knowingly exposing banana workers to toxins resulting in sterilization. On December 26, 2009, Dora “Alicia” Recinos Sorto, age 32, was assassinated. Dora was the second anti-mining activist killed that week in the small community of Nueva Trinidad. Recinos Sorto was eight months pregnant and carrying her two-year old child when she was shot on her way back from doing laundry at a nearby river. Canadian Mining Company Pacific Rim has come under fire for these accelerating assassinations which continue today. In vulnerable countries such violence has become a daily part of life. Activists are targeted and become the invisible victims of the murderous economic system. Demonstrations have morphed from the fierce unwavering determination witnessed in the sixties to the ‘acceptable’ demonstrations now recognized today which are overwhelmingly ineffective. Such assembly line ‘protests’ undoubtedly inspire reactions from the global elite such as, “look at the cute proles who believe they can make a difference – adorable. Now let’s get back to business.” Touching on today’s ineffective movements, on 3 February 2011, Mr. Fish of truthdig.org asks the question: “What do we have now? An anti-war movement that is so gutless and so savagely unimaginative that, rather than gaining purpose and momentum in the face of our government’s ever-increasing disdain for peace in the Middle East, it has proved itself to be too lazy, even too cowardly, to face down the very disease of oligarchy that it had concocted itself to cure.” This statement can easily be applied to today’s environmental movement.

Pacific Rim Corporation: Above: Anti-Mining Activist Recinos Sorto – Assassinated

WEF: “Organizing Their Dream World”

One response to the question of ‘how to define civil society’ was that since big business foundations are incentivized by the tax code, corporations are not civil society, but foundations are. Therefore it should be no surprise the ‘big green’ groups who claim they receive no corporate funding can legitimately do so, merely because foundations serve as corporate front groups. The big greens are funded by the very foundations set up by the corporations who essentially serve as a money laundering service in what the elites proclaim as philanthro-capitalism. Others questions in the WEF discussion were: “Could an NGO formed by a corporation be part of civil society? Does acceptance of government contracts make an NGO an extension of government? Are the big NGOs still members of civil society?” In the summing up period, Pour said, Kofi Annan’s advice was the main point: to keep “organizing our dream world.”

The following year, at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of 2006 a topic of significant importance was ‘Building Trust in Public and Private Institutions’. Richard Edelman, President and CEO of Edelman, USA, reported that opinion leaders now trust NGOs more than business, media and government for information. “NGOs are the most trusted institution in nearly every market,” he stated. (Edelman’s Trust Barometer 2006 Seventh Global Opinion Leaders Study). He further reported that “Information conveyed by CEOs is at the bottom of the list, even lower than politicians, with organizations such as Amnesty International, WWF World Wide Fund for Nature, Greenpeace, and Médecins Sans Frontières at the top of the ranking.” Guy Ryder, General Secretary, International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), Brussels, corroborated the Edelman survey: “Trust matters. There is a feeling of bewilderment which dramatically impacts on people’s lives. They feel powerless; we do not have a means of expressing opinions. ‘Trust proximity’ is the thing that you are familiar with; it includes the things you understand.” Ryder further explained that for the ordinary person, “NGOs seem ‘more like me’ and convey the things that matter to me.” He noted that the fall of confidence in public institutions is the most alarming. “53% of people in the US want to be represented by trade unions, but corporate America stops this.” (Corporate America certainly does stop this. Corporate power has been utilizing corporate-owned media to its absolute advantage in a major attempt to turn the public sentiment against unions – the last remaining collective to threaten corporate power. The rhetoric spewed out by the corporate media is nothing less than incredible.)

Make no mistake, NGOs are recognized by corporate power as an absolutely essential element – indispensable for ensuring corporate power can quite easily advance their agenda.

First Place: Nature Conservancy

 

“Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate” – Bertrand Russell

At the front line of the race to the bottom we must recognize The Nature Conservancy for accepting the challenge of “protecting nature” in an announced new partnership with Dow Chemical who have generously gifted Nature Conservancy with a cool $10 million. Unfortunately, this ‘bankrolled consent’ most likely means Dow will be too financially strapped to clean up Bhopal – whose citizens continue to suffer to this day. Never mind last week it was announced that Dow’s profit has tripled. The corporation reported a profit of $511 million for the quarter ending in December 2010. Nature Conservancy’s president and CEO is none other than former Goldman Sachs Group executive, Mark Tercek. Perhaps not coincidentally, former Nature Conservancy president Henry Paulson also made his rounds through the revolving doors of the Goldman Sachs Group. Yet another Nature Conservancy board member, Muneer Satter, also originated from Goldman Sachs. You may recall the name Goldman Sachs – most known for their role in the brilliantly executed 2008 financial crisis which threw millions into poverty as the rich became even richer. As well, Nature Conservancy just hired a new marketing director in 2010 — former executive vice president for marketing at World Wrestling Entertainment. Prior to that position, he served as senior vice president for marketing at Showtime Networks. Showtime indeed. Fiction? Satire? Unfortunately not. If such organizations were not so dangerous, one would have to laugh. However, considering we are on the brink of exterminating our own children, this is truly sickening and no laughing matter. (Fyi – The Nature Conservancy has more than $3.7 billion in assets, annual revenue of $860 million – remember that when they ask you for your last 20 bucks.)

Second Place: Greenpeace International

And what does the world’s most recognized NGO plan to do in the face of cataclysmic climate change, as the opportunity to avoid irreversible planetary collapse slowly dissipates? It launches an international campaign to ‘green’ Facebook by Earth Day, April 22, 2011.

Enough said.

Update! 11 February 2011: “Today we need you to join a very special photo petition — … no, call it a competition — The 10 most-liked photos on Wednesday, 16 February at 17:00 CET will feature in an upcoming Greenpeace activity… (say no more, nudge nudge, wink wink). We also have campaign t-shirts for the top ten, and a CD of “Amchitka, The 1970 Concert that Launched Greenpeace,” featuring Joni Mitchell, Phil Ochs, and James Taylor, for the most popular photo of all. The funniest, weirdest, and most provocative photos will probably get the most ‘Likes’, so have some fun with it, submit your photo and get “liking” right away! Happy snapping, Team Facebook (at Greenpeace!)”

Third Place: WWF Presents National Sweater Day

 

“It’s time to Get Sweatered!” WWF-Canada announces a brand new campaign for Sweater Day, February 17, 2011. And after this you can look forward to shutting your lights off for that one hour a year in WWF’s annual Earth Hour campaign. As always, big greens frame the conversation on what an individual can do while vehemently neglecting to discuss the root cause of climate change – the current economic system. In this campaign, our youth is led to believe that small individual actions will help solve our environmental crisis. They can’t. Further, the crisis is framed to be most unthreatening, simply because the solution proposed requires so little effort. Of course, this campaign isn’t complete without prizes to feed the insatiable need to consume – which this campaign endorses by way of participation. (WWF International’s operating revenue totalled 224.2 million in 2010. Carter Roberts, CEO and President, took home a meagre $486,394 in 2008.)

Honourable Mentions: Friends of the Earth International


Courtesy of Keith Farnish’s Unsuitablog

“Find out about the Good Shopping Guide application: http://bit.ly/hH44mK Plus win an iPod touch! ” – Friends of the Earth via twitter

Friends of the Earth, 1970-2011
RIP

Worst Video

 

The video featuring a 2 minute summary of the COP16 conference and highlighting the brand TckTckTck makes light of our planetary emergency and tells the viewer… absolutely nothing. Further, the video frames Bolivia as an obstructionist to the negotiations when in fact Bolivia stood alone rejecting an agreement which will lead to mass genocide. Alone, Bolivia fought for life using powerful, ethical arguments, defending the people’s agreements adopted in Cochabamba which would protect Mother Earth, all species and future generations. All big greens have declined to endorse the People’s Agreement which places people before corporate profit. It appears this video, being promoted widely, was created by TckTckTck partner UKYCC.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76BgKe1naFc

First Prize for Most Dangerous: Greenpeace at the World Economic Forum

“Capitalism justified itself and was adopted as an economic principle on the express ground that it provides selfish motives for doing good, and that human beings will do nothing except for selfish motives” – George Bernard Shaw

In the frontline of global economic forums such as the WEF, commonly referred to simply as Davos, you will recognize the exceptionally orchestrated Greenpeace demonstrations. This is the Greenpeace that rides today on the coat-tails of the legacy laid down by the original Greenpeace founders decades ago.  A Greenpeace which in reality no longer exists. Before being co-opted by corporate power, Greenpeace consisted of grassroots activists who were not interested in discussing compromise. One such founder, Bob Hunter, wore a ‘fuck off’ sign around his neck in a public meetings. These real-life eco-warriors had no fear of ripping to shreds those who were destroying our planet.

A headline on an image posted on 10 January 2011 reads, “Sixty Greenpeace activists dressed in skeleton suits protest in front of the World Economic Forum conference against Dow Chemical”. The banners reads, “Clean up Bhopal Now!” The images are moving. Yet, in the background something much different is going on … behind the scenes … for those who dance in the elitist circle … the champagne flows almost as fast as the money.

 

7 February 2011, Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International and chair of the Havas creation TckTckTck ‘speaks to power’ in Johannesburg, South Africa. Naidoo explains that at the World Economic Forum in Davos he had meetings with no fewer than 15 chief executives of major corporations, men whose decisions help shape (destroy) our environment and affect workers’ rights (exploitation) and ultimately what kind of world we pass on to our children and grandchildren (irreversible climate hell with collapsed ecosystems). Naidoo states that the first meeting was a breakfast briefing with Unilever. Naidoo states he was invited by the chief executive to speak of the curious relationship his company enjoys with Greenpeace.

Curious. Yes. It is most interesting that TckTckTck creator Havas serves the world’s most powerful clients such as Unilver and EDF (nuclear).

For an excellent briefing on why Greenpeace working with corporate power for a better world is bullshit slash greenwash, Richard Samans offers an astute analysis in “Running the World After the Crash,” in Jan 2011 Foreign Policy. “Two years ago the elites were scared to death by the global crash, their economic nostrums discredited. Thousands of citizens took to the streets. Governments fell. Others desperately promised a new era of financial re-regulation, world cooperation on the environment and food crises created by neoliberalism and exponential growth. Then they regained confidence. Banks were “too big to fail”. The taxpayer was told to pay the bill for the playboys of the Western world. Trillions of private debt were transferred to the taxpayer (socialism for the rich) – a bill that our children and their children will have to pay. A further consequence: there is “no money left”, we are told, to finance climate action, international aid, schools, healthcare, housing, job creation and infrastructure. The elites are laughing all the way to the bank. And the high priests of the system (at Davos Jan 2011) say the next whirl of the financial wheel will be based on carbon credits.”


First Prize for Most Tasteless | Greenpeace Makes Light of Tibetan Oppression

Under attack for the tasteless 30 second Super Bowl commercial using Tibet, the corporation responsible, Groupon, stepped into the defensive mode. As images of Tibet were shown, actor Timothy Hutton read, “The people of Tibet are in trouble. Their very culture is in jeopardy.” The scene cuts to Hutton inside a restaurant: “But they still whip up an amazing fish curry. And since 200 of us bought at groupon.com we’re each getting 30 dollars worth of Tibetan food for just 15 dollars at Himalayan restaurant in Chicago.”

Although this ad is clearly distasteful and trivializes the incredibly serious issue of human rights violations in Tibet, Greenpeace, who also uses Groupon, defended the ad. “Greenpeace is happily participating in the campaign. The truth is that the ‘Save the Money’ campaign and the commercial are really helping us save the whales,” Greenpeace’s John Hocevar said in a blog post. He added, “They loved the idea of poking fun at themselves by talking about discounts as a noble cause.”

People aware of how the Tibetan culture is being destroyed in the conflict with China understand struggles of Tibet deserve respect.

From the Free Tibet website: “For Groupon the commercial has generated a lot of free media coverage and it could be argued that the advert has helped raise the profile of what is happening in Tibet, after all awareness is the first step to accountability. But it does put Tibetans and their suffering at the heart of the joke and when it’s used for commercial purposes that is exploitative. The commercial also exposes that fact that across the US and arguably the world the public know what is happening inside Tibet. But that leaves the uncomfortable fact that not enough of us are holding the Chinese Communist Party accountable for the suffering in Tibet, nor for that matter are our own governments being held accountable for their failure to hold China accountable for its appalling human rights record in Tibet.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reLqtMb4-e8&feature=related (What Remains of Us: This film was shot without the knowledge of the Chinese authorities, using small digital cameras, during nearly a dozen secret forays into Tibet between 1996 and 2004.)

First Prize for Most Predictable

 

Reformers who are always compromising, have not yet grasped the idea that truth is the only safe ground to stand upon.” – Elizabeth Stanton

 

Rockefeller funded 350.org wins hands down for the predictable launch of their Businesses For 350 Campaign.  How to get to 350?  You won’t find the answer on this site … maybe just keep recycling or consuming. It appears Bill McKibben of 350.org neglected to read our 10:10:10 critique from October 2010.

First Prize for Most Undetected Greenwash of 2010

TckTckTck – partner of 350.org, WWF, Greenpeace and hundreds of other NGOs – was created by Havas, one of the largest marketing and PR firms in the world. Havas clients include a torrent of the largest and most powerful corporations on the planet. Given that economic growth is the root cause of greenhouse gas emissions growth (they have been neck and neck for the last 50 years); and the raison d’etre of Havas is to ensure TckTckTck founding partner corporations including EDF (the largest nuclear corporation on the planet) increase profits through economic growth; TckTckTck was fatally compromised at its inception. In the 2010 ‘Public Eye’ campaign it states, “Organized since 2000, Public Eye reminds corporations with destructive business practices that actions have consequences, presenting ‘name and shame’ awards to the nastiest corporate players of the year and through these awards presents to the world the immoral nexus between corporate power and the political elite.” In 2010, following the Copenhagen disaster, Greenpeace Switzerland participated in naming the Public Eye Award to “the nastiest corporate player of the year”.  The nominees included GDF Suez and Roche – TckTckTck founding partners. In summary, Greenpeace, partner of TckTckTck (Kumi Naidoo chairs both Greenpeace International and TckTckTck, also known as GCCA) is in partnership with these same corporations (GDF Suez and Roche). Such campaigns and organizations make a mockery of those suffering on the front lines of the climate emergency today. The layers of deceit are breathtaking.

As of today there remains a shortcut link on the Havas website to www.tcktcktck.org to “join the fight for climate justice”. And business for Havas has never been better – new business remains strong. (€1.6 billion for the first nine months of the year, compared with €1.1 billion for the same period in 2009 (+42%)).

 

TckTckTck has removed their partner, the Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change, from visibility on the www.tcktcktck.org website after screenshots and information of this collaboration were released to their supporters and partners using their own listserv. The TckTckTck partners within the Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change group include Shell, Coca-Cola and RBC. RBC is the number one financier of the most destructive project on the planet – the tar sands.  Over 1,000 corporate entities make up this TckTckTck partner group.

 

Eradicating Stupidity | Going Forward

“As for the bourgeois state, we are seeking to overcome it, to overthrow it.” Salvador Allende, 1970


 

 

Just as wearing sweaters will not make any meaningful dent in our climate crisis; just as turning Facebook green amounts to essentially nothing; just as ‘green’ shopping and more i-pods only serve to further destroy us; and just as the Nature Conservancy – Dow partnership will only serve to greenwash; consuming as a means of helping will not save whales or anything else. Every day, our current economic system continues brings us one day closer to cataclysmic, irreversible climate change and ecosystem collapse on a global scale.

And while we may not expect truth from the bloated NGOs, we should not accept it. Importantly, while we recognize the demise of ethics within the vast monopoly of NGOs who protect the very system that grips us securely in a stranglehold, we must also recognize that within these corporate structures are well-intentioned citizens and even activists who are just as frustrated by the censorship and symbolic ‘feel good’ campaigns that appeal to our society’s worst traits. Such traits such as individualism, greed, apathy and narcissism are integral for a profoundly weak and divided society. Therefore, such traits are kept fed and nourished by the corporate powers who are, in turn, completely dependent upon society’s successful indoctrination and feelings of powerlessness. Fortunately, for the ethical, yet repressed, campaigners on the inside, in 2011 we now have Enviroleaks – enabling those within the system to leak imperative documents, without fear of repercussion.

What else is new in 2011? To date, there are no mainstream NGOs who are willing to campaign on militarism and its massive contribution to climate change. One would think that this would be a sure ‘win’ upon which the NGOs should love to attach themselves. Really, how many people do you know that would oppose a campaign to end occupations and war? Known to most citizens, militarism in the US represents such a massive chunk of the budget, there is little money for anything else. Healthcare and education remain mere irritants of the lowest priority. Although this reckless budget will no doubt contribute to bankrupting the US sooner rather than later – only to line bank vaults of the corporations and the controlling plutocracy – the big greens are silent on the issue. It appears that millions of lives lost count for little.

And like we must stop the soothing yet false illusion that governments will someday do what they are supposed to do – represent their constituents and act in their best interests – we must also stop the false illusion that NGOs will confront the system and inspire a desperately needed uprising of the people who reject all false solutions while also demanding nothing less a new system which functions to serve only the essential needs of the people while protecting all life and our planet.

To date, the big greens refuse to tell supporters what the most critical aspects of climate change are, in spite of the insistent urging from climate justice activists. These are the imperatives every citizen has the right to know … and are not being told.

1)    In order to stabilize the planet, the world must achieve zero carbon emissions. Zero is the only number that matters and it must be achieved in a matter of years, not decades.  We are in a planetary emergency at less than 1ºC rise.

2)    The current economic system is the root cause of climate change.

3)    A mass mobilization on a global scale is needed to convert to a clean, perpetual zero carbon economy which rejects all false solutions including green capitalism.

The destructive campaigns of the big greens highlighted within this article are just a drop in the bucket of symbolic brand-building nonsense. Therefore the easiest direct action of 2011 is this: hit unsubscribe. The industrial non-profit complex claims to represent and speak for you in economic forums and government institutions around the world. They don’t. And if they have no members of civil society, they immediately lose their power to speak for us.  If they no longer speak for us, they can no longer use civil society as a tool allowing the expansion of the corporate agenda.

The pursuit of profit verses our responsibility to protect nature brings us to a tragic reality that is difficult to accept. Decades of doing nothing means it is now too late to stop climate change. Yet, perhaps it is not too late (we hope) to avert the magnitude of long-term impacts by cutting emissions to zero at break-neck speed. If we miss this closing window of opportunity, feedbacks take over, at which point cataclysmic climate change becomes irreversible. Nature takes over, and our planet becomes a living hell.

Message to the Youth: do-or-die


 

“But we won’t spend a buck a dime a single cent to preclude disaster for our children. As a mother and a grandmother this is the line that grips my heart. I see this as ageism gone viral. We don’t really care about our kids just our credit rating and OUR pensions. I guess Queen Victoria was totally effective when she said, “Children should be seen and not heard. Our so called economic system doesn’t hear the children at all. I guess soon we won’t have to see them either. Good for us adults, our campaign is a BIG success.” – FB comment

Why does society expect the next generation to clean up this mess of unparalleled magnitude – especially considering instead of being given essential tools for life skills, they were given remotes, posters of corporate prostitots, and truckloads of made-for-landfill plastic stuff bursting with toxins, chemicals and everything else that makes one ashamed to be human. This apocalyptic nightmare should never have been left to a generation of youth who have been raised and indoctrinated by corporate America – yet here we are – and the wrath of insatiable greed is about to grab our youth by the throat.

While we listen to Maude Barlow and other wise owls who tell us the next generation is the one that will change everything, we must recognize that today’s youth have become a reflection of our morally bankrupt society – beautiful children who have succumbed to become, most comfortably numb. Millions have come close to over-dosing on social media such as Facebook and texting. Ironically, social media is a wet dream for the globe’s largest marketing public relations firms who represent the world’s most powerful corporations. Marketing executives and corporate super-powers are salivating over what they envision as the greatest opportunity to exploit the planet’s youth. The corporate powers are masters in the art of acclimatizing civil society into believing that we have no control. They methodically hypnotize us to believe resistance is hopeless and therefore should be given up. This very system that enslaves us can continue its existence only if we accept that resistance is futile. Not unlike pedophiles who prey upon children, the plutocracy preys upon and is dependent upon a society easily lured with candy.

Things can change. 2011 marks a paradigm shift. The Egyptians have taught the world how to use the very social media tools corporate gods had hoped would serve to manipulate, control and distract us – and use these tools, instead, as weapons of mass-resistance. We now have WikiLeaks and Anonymous, bound to inspire creativity, coupled with revolt, in ways not yet imagined. The Egyptians have also taught the world what a revolution requires – nothing less than the courage and conviction of hundreds of thousands and even millions of bodies in the streets that refuse to leave until victory is achieved.

Today’s youth have, not only a right, but a moral obligation, to rebel and destroy the current power structures that exist. This is necessary in order to salvage what is left of a raped and pillaged planet on the brink of ecological collapse. Martin Luther King once said that you cannot commit an act of violence against a non-sentient object. Today, police states and corporate controlled governments protect property, corporate interests, and industrialized economic growth over life itself. Drastic times require drastic measures; thus, our youth have the right to destroy the suicidal structures now threatening humanity. Echoing the words of Malcolm X, they must defend that right “by any means necessary”. And we must support them as they seize this right, for we have failed them.

“Liberties are not given, they are taken.” – Aldous Huxley

Go forward in self defence. No longer can we passively witness the rape, abuse and desecration of our Earth Mother.  No longer can we passively witness the exploitation, violence and oppression subjected on our brothers and sisters. In our fight  for survival and for all life, love is the guiding principle, illuminating the centre of our struggle. We will not negotiate life. We reject all compromise. We will practise non-violence in the spirit of the Buddhist concept of aggressive non-violence understanding that one cannot commit an act of violence against a non-sentient object. Although we will exercise compassionate wrath, we recognize we have the right to defend ourselves and our Earth Mother. We intend to do so. Self-defence is not a crime. We will attack the economic system – as this is the only language it understands. We will collectively fight to reclaim our dignity and power. The burning flame at the heart of our fight for life will not be smothered, rehabilitated, co-opted, or psychologically marginalized. There will be no dilution of our fervour, no lowering of the flames, or any muting of our essential collective voice. And if our fire destroys, it is for the sake or protection and healing and bringing us together as one. Our love will burn brilliantly. The time is now.

“Individually we may see ourselves as free, yet as a collective, we are slaves. The point where we free ourselves from our own animal is that moment when we become enlightened, where we see ourselves not as a person at a single point in time, but as a continuity in blood and in thought, spanning generations and time.” Harold One Feather

It is past time to start enacting civil disobedience on a massive scale. Knowledge is the weapon and it is time to arm the masses. Fuel distribution centres, pipelines, the industrial-military-complex, banks, the stock exchange: all must be targeted. Go forward. Don’t look back. Be courageous. Be strong. The truth is on our side. Our parents could not find the courage, which means we must. The Earth, and all life on this planet, pumps through our veins. To feel it, go outside and lie under a tree. Look up at the sky. We are nature. Nature is us. Our time is running out.

“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 

Cory Morningstar is climate justice activist whose recent writings can be found on Canadians for Action on Climate Change and The Art of Annihilation site where you can read her bio. You can follow her on Twitter: @elleprovocateur

“Nature Conservancy” merges with Dow Chemical

Dow Chemical Partners With The Nature Conservancy ‘to Improve Sustainability’

DETROIT, Michigan, January 24, 2011 (ENS) – The Dow Chemical Company and The Nature Conservancy today announced a new collaboration between the two organizations to help Dow recognize, value and incorporate nature into its business goals, decisions and strategies.

Speaking at the Detroit Economic Club, Andrew Liveris, Dow’s chairman and chief executive officer, said the company and its foundation are committing $10 million to the collaboration over the next five years.

"This collaboration is designed to help us innovate new approaches to critical world challenges while demonstrating that environmental conservation is not just good for nature – it is good for business," Liveris said.

Mark Tercek, chief executive of The Nature Conservancy, said his nonprofit organization will provide strategic, science-based counsel and technical support to help answer questions about the value and benefits of natural areas on or near where Dow works – such as the benefits of a forest to ensuring clean water for towns and factories, and the role natural wetlands and reefs play in preventing damage from storms.

"This project is an example of the type of cooperation required to make real, long-term progress in protecting the Earth’s natural systems and the services they provide people," said Tercek. "As the world population surges, it will take public and private sector collaboration like this to make the health of the environment not just an afterthought, but a fundamental consideration in everything we do in every part of our society."

The aim of the collaboration is to advance the incorporation of the value of nature into business, and to take action to protect the Earth’s natural systems and the services they provide people, for the benefit of business and society.

"Companies that value and integrate biodiversity and ecosystem services into their strategic plans are best positioned for the future by operationalizing sustainability," Liveris said.

"At Dow, we see sustainability as an adjective and one that we apply to almost everything we do: sustainable manufacturing, sustainable solutions and sustainable opportunities to constantly add to the quality of life for our communities and fellow citizens," he said. "Today, tomorrow, always."

Dow operates a group of specialty chemical, advanced materials, agrosciences and plastics businesses in electronics, water, energy, coatings and agriculture. The company’s more than 5,000 products are manufactured at 214 sites in 37 countries. In 2009, Dow had annual sales of $45 billion and employed approximately 52,000 people worldwide.

The collaboration will use scientific models, maps, and analysis for biodiversity and ecosystem services – the benefits that nature provides for people, like clean air, water, and food – and apply them to Dow’s business decisions, said Liveris, who is originally from Australia.

He said the collaboration will inform Dow on setting new policies and approaches in the areas of land and water management, siting considerations, the benefits of natural resources on Dow lands and waterways, and more explicit management of biodiversity.

Scientists from both organizations will implement and refine ecosystem services and biodiversity assessment models, initially, on at least three Dow manufacturing sites.

One of the major objectives of this collaboration is to share all tools, lessons learned and results publicly and through peer-review so that other companies, scientists and interested parties can test and apply them.

Tercek, formerly a managing director at Goldman Sachs, where he headed the firm’s Environmental Strategy Group and Center for Environmental Markets, said, "We hope that the results of this effort will demonstrate to other organizations and companies that incorporating nature’s services into decisions is a responsible, smart and viable business strategy."

Discussion on The Nature Conservancy (2003): http://groups.yahoo.com/group/earthfirstalert/message/13939

http://www.dow.com/ Nature Conservancy DOW site

http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jan2011/2011-01-24-091.html

Action Alert: LIVE EARTH GREENWASH – Stop Dow Chemical from Hijacking Live Earth

Dow LIVES…
EARTH dies.

This April 18, Live Earth, a series of events “to help solve the water crisis,” will be held in locations all over the world. It is the ultimate irony that these events’ main sponsor is Dow Chemical, a corporate criminal responsible for the continued contamination of drinking water for 30,000 people in Bhopal, India and for causing severe water crises by poisoning the sources of water for people all over the world…

  • In Bhopal, India roughly 30,000 people are still drinking water contaminated with heavy metals and organochlorines, resulting in an epidemic of health problems and birth defects while Dow refuses to take responsibility.
  • In the North America, Dow is responsible for dangerous dioxin contamination around its global headquarters in Midland, Michigan, vinyl chloride contamination in Louisiana, dioxin & furan contamination in Western Canada.
  • Dow toxins are poisoning people and ecosystems in Vietnam, South Africa, New Zealand, Brazil, and Central America.

Go to http://www.bhopal.net/liveearth

Join us to expose Live Earth as Dow’s greenwashing front! Stand in solidarity with the people of Bhopal against this corporate propaganda! Here’s how you can get involved…

Live Earth will consist of 6 km runs/walks (the average distance many women and children walk every day to secure water), concerts, and water education activities around the world. We want to expose Dow’s lies by spreading the word about Dow’s crimes in Bhopal and beyond to those participating in Live Earth events, and we need your help!

Find a Live Earth event near you at www.liveearth.org.

1) Sign the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal’s (ICJB) petitionagainst Dow’s sponsorship of Live Earth. www.bhopal.net/petition

2) Use our stencils to make t-shirts, signs, banners, tags, headbands, Bhopal pamphlets, etc. Attend a Live Earth event near you wearing a Bhopal t-shirt an anti-Dow t-shirt under another t-shirt. When the run starts, take off your first layer and make your statement. http://bhopal.net/petition/application/views/toolkit.html

3) Go on to live earth website and register your comments on their blog and website

4) Document your actions! Send your pictures and videos to ICJB at justiceinbhopal@gmail.com to share with the international community of Bhopal supporters.

5) Where else has Dow poisoned with its toxic waste? http://bhopal.net/petition/application/views/index.html

6) See the photo exhibition & spread the word on Dow’s legacy of pain & poison http://bhopal.net/exhibition/

7) Log on to friends of live earth website (www.friendsofliveearth.org) and register yourself and post on their discussion forms and expose Dow Chemical’s green wash to rest of their members.

6) Truly help solve the water crisis by donating to ICJB, a grassroots organization composed of survivors of the Bhopal gas disaster and environmentalists worldwide working to ameliorate the crisis in Bhopal and prevent future industrial contamination.http://www.studentsforbhopal.org/?q=node/50

6) Act on your own ideas on scuttling Dow’s greenwashing attempts through Live Earth. Send us your ideas too, at justiceinbhopal. or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=348498538304&ref=ts

Access all these tools and more at www.bhopal.net !

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