How many trolls does $1 billion a year buy?

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I don’t know, and neither do you. But I bet the Koch Brothers do…

Conservative groups may have spent up to $1bn a year on the effort to deny science and oppose action on climate change, according to the first extensive study into the anatomy of the anti-climate effort.

The anti-climate effort has been largely underwritten by conservative billionaires, often working through secretive funding networks. They have displaced corporations as the prime supporters of 91 think tanks, advocacy groups and industry associations which have worked to block action on climate change. Such financial support has hardened conservative opposition to climate policy, ultimately dooming any chances of action from Congress to cut greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet, the study found.

“I call it the climate-change counter movement,” said the author of the study, Drexel University sociologist Robert Brulle. “It is not just a couple of rogue individuals doing this. This is a large-scale political effort.”

Billionaires spending billions to keep the gravy train rolling…and rolling right over any pesky government that would stand in their way. And how exactly does that work?

“This is how wealthy individuals or corporations translate their economic power into political and cultural power,” he said. “They have their profits and they hire people to write books that say climate change is not real. They hear people to go on TV and say climate change is not real. It ends up that people without economic power don’t have the same size voice as the people who have economic power, and so it ends up distorting democracy.

“That is the bottom line here. These are unaccountable organisations deciding what our politics should be. They put their thumbs on the scale … It is more one dollar one vote than one person one vote.”

Apparently, in the United States of Amnesia, any billionaire can set himself up as a charitable cause, hiring mouthpieces so that the money keeps on rolling…right back to him.

The vast majority of the 91 groups on Brulle’s list – 79% – were registered as charitable organisations and enjoyed considerable tax breaks. Those 91 groups included trade organisations, think tanks and campaign groups. The groups collectively received more than $7bn over the eight years of Brulle’s study – or about $900m a year from 2003 to 2010. Conservative think tanks and advocacy groups occupied the core of that effort.

The funding was dispersed to top-tier conservative think tanks in Washington, such as the AEI and Heritage Foundation, which focus on a range of issues, as well as more obscure organisations such as the Atlas Economic Research Foundation and the John Locke Foundation.

Funding also went to groups that took on climate change denial as a core mission – such as the Heartland Institute, which held regular conclaves dedicated to undermining the United Nations climate panel’s reports, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which tried and failed to prosecute a climate scientist, Michael Mann, for academic fraud.

AEI was by far the top recipient of such funds, receiving 16% of total funding over the eight years, or $86.7m. Heartland Institute, in contrast, received just 3% of the total, $16.7m. There was also generous support to Americans for Prosperity, the advocacy group affiliated with the conservative Koch billionaires, which received $22.7m.

And if you thought Conrad Black was adept at setting up shell corporations to funnel money back into his own overstuffed coffers, that’s nothing…just look at these guys, who money-launder their own “charitable” donations:

The leading venue for those underground donations was the Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, which alone accounted for 25% of funding of the groups opposed to climate action. An investigation by the Guardian last February found that the Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund had distributed nearly $120m to more than 100 anti-climate groups from 2002-2010. The Donors group has now displaced such previous prominent supporters of the climate denial movement as the Koch-affiliated foundations and corporations like Exxon Mobil, Brulle said.

Other conservative foundations funding climate denial efforts include: the Searle Freedom Trust, the John William Pope Foundation, the Howard Charitable Foundation and the Sarah Scaife Foundation, which also promote a free-market approach on other issues.

The sad part is, all this chicanery is apparently perfectly legal. Nobody has closed the loopholes on them…yet.

And in a comic twist, the climate-change deniers are even in the business of denying that they’re all paid hacks:

A number of the groups on Brulle’s list – both as funders and recipients – refused to comment on his findings or disputed his contention that they were part of a movement to block action on climate change.

Whitney Ball, the president of the Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, said the organisation had no say in deciding which projects would receive funding. However, Ball told the Guardian last February that Donors offered funders the assurance their money would never go to Greenpeace. “It won’t be going to liberals,” she said at that time.

“We do not otherwise drive the selection of grantees, nor do we conduct in-depth analyses of projects or grantees unless an account holder specifically requests that service,” Ball said in an email. “Neither Donors Trust nor Donors Capital Fund as institutions take positions with respect to any issue advocated by its grantees.”

Why do I get the feeling that Whitney Ball is lying through her teeth? Oh, maybe because that’s what they all do. That’s what they’re all paid to do. They are being paid extravagantly to lie. And the lies are downright risible:

“Each of the scholars that work on any particular issue speaks for his or hers own work,” said Judy Mayka Stecker, director of media relations at AEI, in an email. She went on to write, however, that most of the AEI scholars who have worked on energy and climate change have moved on and would be unavailable to comment.

Well, that’s convenient!

“We do believe that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and that man-made emissions will lead to some warming,” said David Kreutzer, an energy and climate-change fellow at the Heritage Foundation. “We are opposed to mandatory greenhouse gas emissions cuts.”

He said many conservatives saw a carbon tax, cap-and-trade and other climate policies as a government takeover by stealth.

“What we are not interested in doing is a huge shift of power to the government under the guise of preventing some climate problem,” he said.

Even though the government is the one entity powerful enough to effect any change that would actually stick — and work? Again, how convenient.

The Hoover Institution, which received about $45m, claimed to produce no work on climate change – while displaying on its website an article by a Hoover research fellow on an August 2013 Hoover poll on economic, energy and environmental issues.

“Hoover has no institutional initiatives on climate change,” a spokeswoman, Eryn Witcher, wrote in an email. “Individual Hoover fellows research and write on a wide variety of topics of their own choosing, but we’re not aware of any who are working in that field at this time, nor are we aware of any gifts or grants that have been received for that purpose.”

In the article, the Hoover fellow, Jeremy Carl, who works extensively on energy and climate issues, discussed climate change and fracking, concluding: “Many Democrats and liberals are in denial when it comes to reality on energy and climate policy, endorsing both science and political fiction.”

Funny, Mr. Carl, but any reputable scientist would say the same about YOU.

And, unlike you, they would be right.

PS: Barry Ritholtz has a very helpful map here. It’s a little out of date now, as it leaves the Donors’ Trust layer out of the picture. It would be located between the top tier and the conservative think-tanks (and maybe also between them and the front groups). Perhaps an update would be in order.

You have GOT to hear this speech

El Ecuadorable is absolutely awesome here:

And in case you don’t understand Spanish, or are reduced to a giggling jelly by the sight and sound of the world’s cutest president, here’s the story:

The president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, gave the final speech in the Second Extraordinary ALBA-Petrocaribe Summit, and underscored the necessity for states to work together to place humanity above capital and also denounce the role played by the transnational Chevron in Ecuador.

“To speak of Bolívar is to speak of unity, and it’s true, only unity can help us move forward in the face of a global order which is not only unjust, but immoral,” said the head of state in the plenary, held in commemoration of the 183rd anniversary of the Liberator’s death.

He took a moment to congratulate the Venezuelan people for their recent victory at the polls, and also Michelle Bachelet of Chile, who won the recent elections in her country.

[...]

He also criticized again the role played by the International System of Human Rights, and the Commission whose vision is in agreement with the politics of the seventies, which omits several risks of assault on said rights. “There needs to be a change of mentality in the Inter-American Human Rights Commission…and they have to change their headquarters,” he added, emphasizing the necessity that these topics continue to be discussed in groups such as ALBA and CELAC.

He denounced the blockade against Cuba, calling it “criminal”, and the ongoing colonialism in the Malvinas.

He also rejected what he calls “NGO-ism”, the influence of foreign organizations with the intent of destabilizing democratically elected governments, such as has occurred in Ecuador. “It’s all in the function of power, of the unjust relationship of power at the global level.”

He also spoke of the great struggle Ecuador is waging against one of the largest oil companies in the world, Chevron-Texaco, which, due to its proven environmental devastation in the zones where it operates in Amazonia, has dedicated itself to delegitimizing the Ecuadorian state via sophistries in an attempt to evade responsibility.

“We invite them to come to Ecuador, to Amazonia, and put their hands in the pools left by Chevron, and twenty or thirty years after Chevron-Texaco has ceased to operate, that hand will still come out black with mud and oil, that’s the Dirty Hand of Chevron,” Correa added.

Translation mine.

Coming on the heels of yesterday’s judgment by the Supreme Court of Ontario against Chevron, you must admit that this is mighty satisfying.

Ecuador wins Canadian case against Chevron Texaco

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Big Polluting Oil just lost a major judgment in the last place I expected it to: right here, in Harpolandia. How about THESE apples?

Pablo Fajardo, attorney for the Union of Those Affected by Texaco Operations, announced that the group won a legal case yesterday in Canada, when the Appeals Court of Ontario unanimously recognized that it had jurisdiction and competency to validate the Ecuadorian sentence and execute it in that country.

Fajardo specified that with this recognition, which three trial judges gave, it would be “an important step” to embargo Chevron assets in Canada and make the transnational pay for the judgment in Ecuador. He commented that the multinational has an investment there; that is, it extracts petroleum, an investment worth more than 10 billion dollars.

“This case opens the doors to make the business pay,” Fajardo said.

Fajardo says that this was an appeal presented by the multinational in Canada, and that the corporation could seek another recourse, before the Supreme Court at the federal level, but that it would be “very difficult for them to succeed at the Supreme Court; this case is very important in the battle with Chevron-Texaco.”

The lawyer maintains that the Canadian recognition opens the doors so that those affected can file suits in countries such as Australia, one of the nations in which the multinational has more assets. Of the 60 countries in which Chevron has assets, the Union of Those Affected has filed suit in three: Canada, Brazil and Argentina.

Translation mine.

$10 billion in assets. Of course they’re going to appeal this at the highest level, but if they lose…that’s gonna clean up an awful lot of rainforest in Ecuador. Which, by coincidence, is just what these big-time polluters mucked up.

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Quotable: Dr. David Suzuki on the biosphere

Did the CBC do propaganda-for-pay?

I dunno…you tell me:

I always did find that particular Mansbridge “report” awfully Harpo-friendly (and uncharacteristically so). And conveniently timed, too, as the above video says, with Pooty-Poot laying his own claims to the North Pole’s seabed and all that oil and gas underneath. Funny how the Harper Government™ always threatens to cut off the CBC’s funding on one hand, but then launders a cheque to the broadcaster through, of all things, a federal agency like Parks Canada (which is supposed to be promoting nature conservation, not oil and gas exploration!)

But then again, this is just so stinkingly typical for Harpo & Co. There just isn’t a thing they’ve touched that hasn’t turned rotten and corrupt under their oily, greasy, greedy fucking hands. Not one thing…whether it’s conservation agencies or our news media, who are supposed to be independent, after all.

What does the Fawkes say?

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I’m sure the real Guy Fawkes would be mystified at how his religiously motivated treasonous squib became the basis for secular, nonviolent rebellion. But whatever. This seems a much more constructive way to use this date than burning effigies of English Catholics, anyway.

Quotable: Winona LaDuke on water terrorism

Media Luna-cy: Older than previously thought

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Everybody knows that the governors of the “Media Luna” (Half Moon) of the richest (and crookedest) regions of Bolivia first began to conspire in 2008, after Evo was in power (and as an attempt to get him out of power by killing him in 2009) — right?

Well, not quite. Evo just revealed that the conspiracy is older than his reign, which began in 2006. Three years older, to be precise:

President Evo Morales assured on Sunday that there are documents which reveal that the governor of Santa Cruz, Rubén Costas, planned separatism in Bolivia in 2003, when he was acting president of the Civic Committee of Santa Cruz.

“Rubén Costas, who has been president of the Civic Committee of Santa Cruz, had already planned in September 2003 to separate Santa Cruz from Bolivia. It’s no lie — the documents exist, the recordings exist. I thought that separatism came recently, as of 2008, but no, it came as of 2003,” said Morales, during a speech in the municipality of Laja in commemoration of the 465th anniversary of the founding of La Paz.

Morales explained that this fact was found while reviewing publications and recordings about the so-called “Black October Massacre”, in which at least 67 persons died and more than 500 were injured, after a military repression of movements which opposed the exportation of Bolivian natural gas to the United States through a Chilean port, as proposed by former president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, who later fled the country.

Morales stated that vice-president Álvaro García Linera “is reviewing all the previous documents, the publications, re-examining the documents,” because he will be presenting a conference on this topic in the coming days.

Morales insisted that the documentation reveals that the intention to separate from the country began in 2003 and not in 2008, as previously thought due to the Bolivian federal police breaking up a gang of European mercenaries which was attempting to ignite a civil war in the country and promote, as in the Balkans during the 1990s, the secession of the Department of Santa Cruz from the rest of Bolivia.

Translation mine.

So, it looks like in addition to consorting with crooked US ambassadors, the crooked governor (and former leader of the shady-as-fuck Civic Committee) of Santa Cruz has been an unpatriotic conspirator for a very, VERY long time. And indeed, as Evo’s presidency was getting its feet under it in 2006, at least one deeply silly right-wing English language “news” site was prematurely toot-tootling the horn for the “new nation” of Media Luna, the roughly half-moon-shaped conglomeration of the corruptos’ respective departments. Which, after all this time (and money) has consistently failed to materialize. (Pardon me if I chuckle, but I know why. And so does The Dude Who Abideth in Bolivia.)

The hilarious irony of it is, back then, these weasels were conspiring against “Goni” Sánchez de Lozada, who was just as greedy, crooked, and fascistic as they themselves were (and still are). I’m guessing that the real reason behind that was the dinero. Bolivian natural gas comes from Santa Cruz. With the Media Luna suddenly a separate “nation”, that would have meant that they stood to receive all the profits that would have gone to YPFB, the Bolivian national gas company. And of course, white Cruceños weren’t so much against the gas pipeline per se, nor for legitimate reasons such as national sovereignty, respect for local indigenous peoples, safety, or the environment, but rather that they couldn’t make all the easy bolivianos off it, and render their department (and themselves) even more obscenely rich.

Yeah, NOW we can see why two bands of crooks were at war with each other, eh?

Only — ha, ha — Goni got run out of power by angry Bolivians, not white ones from Santa Cruz or anywhere else in the Loony Moon, but brown ones from Cochabamba and La Paz, who were pissed as hell that he had sold their water out from under them to foreign corporations, who would graciously sell it back to them at preposterous markups. Even rainwater collection was suddenly illegal, because it would prevent Bechtel’s local subsidiary, Aguas del Tunari, from taking its pound of flesh from mostly poor, mostly indigenous locals who were already damn near starved to death by 500 years of capitalism. One of whom, by coincidence, was a certain young Aymara dude — once a coca farmer, then a cocalero union leader, then an elected congresscritter, and eventually the president of the land.

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Yup, THAT guy. The same one who nationalized Bolivia’s gas company for real, so that the profits would finally trickle down to those not part of a small band of crooked corporate execs and corrupt governors. The same one who truly made Bolivia’s gas Bolivian, not Cruceño. The same one whom Rubén Costas, later governor of Santa Cruz, would conspire with a band of Balkan fascists and the US ambassador to have assassinated in the name of Media Luna-cy.

And, that said: I can hardly wait to read more about all these documents and recordings, and their connection to the Black October Massacre — yet another epic fail fine product of capitalistic greed, resource plundering, and imperialism in Bolivia.

Music for a Sunday: A song for Elsipogtog

Daniel Cohn-Bendit and the German Greens’ pedophile problem

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“I stand for sex with children! How about you?”

Meet Daniel Cohn-Bendit. He’s a long-standing, high-ranking member of the German Green Party, as well as the Green faction chief in the Europarliament. And he’s also a major component of its Achilles’ heel: the pedophile contingent, which during the 1970s and ’80s was active in trying to wipe out two paragraphs of German criminal law, specifically those dealing with “sex” between adults and children. You’ll notice I put the word in quotation marks. There’s a good reason for that. You’ll see it soon enough, if you don’t already. Meanwhile, let’s talk a bit more about Herr Cohn-Bendit and the ever-spreading toxic stain he is.

For the past week or so there’s been hard talk about bombing Syria. Bashar al-Assad stands accused of using sarin gas on his own people. Evidence now points to the so-called Syrian rebels, who have al-Qaida ties and are financed and armed by the Saudis and the US. They are a most unsavory bunch. But since Bashar is the designated scapegoat in certain pro-war circles, that’s all been swept under the rug. And in a twist of very strange irony, one of those sweepers is Daniel Cohn-Bendit, who gave an interview to Der Spiegel in which he too beats the war drums, and rails against the “cheap anti-Americanism” of those opposed. It’s not the first time he’s done so, either; right there in the first lines of the interview, Cohn-Bendit shows himself to be the greenest warhawk in Germany:

SPIEGEL ONLINE: You were the first Green to call for western military action in the Yugoslavian war [over Kosovo]. Now the Syrian dictator, Assad, has very probably used chemical weapons against his own people. Can the west take that without a military response?

Cohn-Bendit: Assad has overstepped a symbolic boundary. That has to be avenged. But the reaction of the west must be embedded in a political strategy.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Are you against a punitive action that shows Assad that he has overstepped a red line?

Cohn-Bendit: A punitive action without political strategy would be wrong. But the west has to mobilize militarily. As a prerequisite — either for a military strike or to force a cease-fire and end the bloodshed.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Should Germany also take part in that militarily?

Cohn-Bendit: Yes, the federal government should participate in preparation for a military action with other EU countries.

Translation mine.

I find his phraseology extremely interesting: “overstepped a symbolic boundary”. They accuse Assad of genocide without concrete proof (and the hard evidence, embarrassingly, points the other way), so of course the boundary is merely “symbolic”. Meanwhile, in his own past, Daniel Cohn-Bendit repeatedly overstepped a very real boundary, and remains unpunished for it to this day.

“When a little girl of five or five and a half years old starts to undress you, that’s fantastic. It’s fantastic because it’s a game, an absolutely erotic-manic game.”

With this sentence on a French talk show in 1982, Daniel Cohn-Bendit wanted to provoke the public, in order to stand in the light he regarded so highly, that of the taboo-breaker. He didn’t quite succeed. None of the other guests in the program reacted with any recognizable upset, no one wanted to rein in the chubby-cheeked thug. Even in the press you never read any critical commentaries afterward. The public reacted quite similarly seven years before on the stunning, meanwhile famous-infamous passages from Cohn-Bendit’s “Le Grand Bazar” — not at all.

And why? Among French intellectuals, calls for punishment-free sex with children and adolescents fell on fertile ground. It was “another time”, as Le Monde wrote, somewhat shamefacedly, years later. Eve this reputable paper gave considerable leeway in the 1970s to the pedophilic circles, while the left-republican Libération attested to a “genuine social mission” in sex with children, as historian Anne-Claude Ambroise-Rendu noted in retrospect.

When, in January 1977, three men were facing trial over charges of sexual crimes against 13- and 14-year old children, various intellectuals, including Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Louis Aragon, Catherine Millet, André Glucksmann, Jack Lang, and Sarkozy’s future foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, declared solidarity with them. That was just “the times”, and thus, Cohn-Bendit too is trying to exculpate his then declarations: “The sexual debate knew nothing of sexual abuse.” The sexual-freedom impetus sailed in the years after 1968 in the lee of disappointment over the missing political revolution. So the prophets of fundamental change settled on self-reform, on pedagogy, on the emancipation of individuals from the pressures of a bygone, clerical and bigotry-soured class society. That was the jargon of the day. As always in times of deep political disappointment, the hopes fell on the not-yet-corrupted mindset of youth, now even that of children. Pedophilic affection advanced in the ferment of everyday upheaval, coexistence, and liberating love. So it was in France. Thus they experienced it, most particularly, in the Netherlands. And thus did a part of the German “New Left” also develop.

Translation mine.

Here’s the interview (not embeddable, sorry), in French with German subtitles, where Cohn-Bendit raves to his host, Paul Guth, about sex with children. He sounds pretty stoned, which stands to reason; he also brags that he ate hash brownies a short time before he went on air. (The Greens were also in favor of legalizing soft drugs.) Apparently the dope not only loosened his tongue, it got him to proudly reveal things most people would keep a deathly silence about, even if they were not personally ashamed of having done them. That is, most people who’ve actually perpetrated child sexual abuse. Not he! He seems to revel in having done not only that, but in bragging about it.

But here’s the thing: This man truly doesn’t see that what he did there WAS abuse, just because no physical force was involved. His definition of what’s abusive is remarkably narrow, and takes no account of what happens years down the line, when sexually abused children become emotionally disturbed adults. So convinced is he that what he did was not wrong that he even tried to get the laws against it struck off the books in the name of the Sexual Revolution.

And for a while there, it looked as if Germany might go his way. Alice Schwarzer, editor-in-chief and publisher of EMMA, Germany’s leading feminist magazine, knows the dark side of Daniel Cohn-Bendit all too well. She has been watching him and his ilk for decades now, presciently warning of the dangers of their plans, and she recounts:

It was the Greens who, at their second party congress in 1980, were already debating the striking-down of Paragraph 176, which levied punishment for sex with children under 14 years of age, as well as that of Paragraph 174, against sexual abuse of minor wards of the state.

[...]

On the basis of §176, which punished child sexual abuse with up to 10 years’ imprisonment, according to Der Spiegel, some 20-25,000 perpetrators a year were sentenced. Considering that this is just the tip of the iceberg — because most child victims are too confused, intimidated or dependent to fight back — then you get an idea of the magnitude of the crime.

Even non-pedophilic men — that is, those whose desire is not compulsively fixated on prepubescent children — were already frequenting the “kiddie stroll” of Zoo Station [in Berlin], or flying to Thailand or Mexico, in order to buy children even more cheaply there. The women at home had become just too inconvenient — and the children were not so available anymore.

Translation mine.

I caught the tail end of those “revolutionary” but in fact counter-revolutionary times when I started reading grown-up German magazines around age 12 or so. I even read Christiane F.’s now famous “Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo” (“We Children of Zoo Station”), a firsthand account of teenage prostitution and heroin addiction on the streets of West Berlin, published in two parts in the magazine Stern. (It was later republished in book form.) It was a harrowing read. A lot of the words were unfamiliar to me, but the meaning was clear enough. I was appalled that anyone would do such things to helpless children, especially girls not much older than I was. If I ever had to credit any cautionary tale with keeping me off drugs and out of trouble, that’s the one. (Amazingly, Christiane F. is still alive, and in 2008 she gave this interview at age 45. This despite a decades-long battle with addiction and HIV. She finally got off heroin in 1993, and she has a teenage son whom she credits with giving her the strength to do so. My hat is off to her; she is a survivor in the fullest sense of the word.)

The idea that anyone would want to normalize and legalize sex, and specifically commercialized sex, with children of any age, is appalling. The realization that more than one prominent German Green who did advocate for just that is still on the loose and sitting in the Europarliament? Disgusting. And the fact that this monster is squatting there, beating the drums for war against Syria? Well, let’s just say that even I don’t have a bad enough word for it in my extensive vocabulary. In no sense does Daniel Cohn-Bendit have any moral right to condemn other countries or their politicians. What he’s done in Germany, and to Germany, is bad enough without him dragging the country into yet another horrific war. And if the Greens care about being electable, they’d do well to jettison him…and all his fellow Old Greens who beat the drums for legalized pedophilia, back in “another time”.