Venezuelan navy intercepts three ships suspected of illegal fuel trafficking


“Everything this government does is bad, that’s why now I love the crooks, killers, bachaqueros, and all those who are destroying this country.” Thanks for that, Señora Disociada.

Me oh my, what a bad week it’s been for the disociad@s. And especially their pets, the bachaqueros, those illegal traffickers and speculators in basic necessities from Venezuela, who do such lucrative trade with corruptos across the border in Colombia. Since their preferred overland routes to Narcolandia have been sealed off by the Bolivarian National Guard, they’ve been resorting to corrupting the captains who ferry petroleum products for the state oil company PDVSA. Or rather, trying to…that is, until other state officials stepped in and put the kibosh on that:

Last week, the Venezuelan navy detained three boats suspected of trafficking in contraband subsidized fuel from Paraguaná Peninsula, where the principal refinery of the land is located, a Venezuelan commander said on Saturday.

Sources told Reuters on Monday that seven persons had been arrested for attempting to traffick diesel illicitly in a ship belonging to the state oil company, PDVSA.

Admiral Andrés Gómez, commander of the local navy unit, confirmed that on the ship “Negra Hipólita”, they had found a cargo exceeding 50,000 barrels of diesel from the Cardón refinery, when the ship only had authorization to carry 10,000 barrels.

The situation worsened over the weekend, as it became known that two other vessels, both coming from Panama, had been detained by the Venezuelan navy, also under suspicion of illegal fuel trafficking, Gómez added. It was not immediately clear where they were detained. PDVSA did not respond to requests for comment.

The ship “Mario G”, rented by PDVSA, was detained at the Amuay refinery with more than 1,108 barrels of gasoline, worth some $186,000 US, said Gómez. “Paola Valentina”, likewise, was intercepted for carrying some 4,000 litres of gas oil without the correct invoices, among other anomalies. Nine persons were detained, seven of them in the case of the “Negra Hipólita”.

The arrests come at a time when president Nicolás Maduro is seeking to end contraband-trafficking in Venezuela, and has also closed several border crossings to Colombia in recent weeks.

On Friday, Maduro “ordered that corrupt state officials be prosecuted for collaborating in the illegal trade in gasoline”. He confirmed that “a ship which was transporting 50,000 barrels of fuel was detained, which had only stated it was carrying 10,000; it was the oil ship Negra Hipólita, whose captain and first officer and five other PDVSA workers were detained”.

“They were taking it by way of the Caribbean; we handcuffed them, and they’re in jail.”

Translation mine.

Illegal fuel trafficking isn’t just highway robbery for honest Venezuelans. It’s also dangerous; a ship carrying more flammable material than is allowed is a fire and explosion hazard, a floating bomb waiting to go off. Not to mention that rough seas can sink an overloaded freighter in almost no time. (Remember the Edmund Fitzgerald?) And since fuel traffickers don’t care who they’re ripping off in the name of a couple hundred thousand extra gringo dollars, it stands to reason that they would not hesitate to risk unsuspecting people’s lives, as well. And let’s not even get started on the potential for environmental damage…

What’s really striking in the case of the Negra Hipólita is that they corrupted the captain and first officer of a flagship of the PDVSA fleet. Of all the people who should know better! That’s pretty damn scary. Good luck finding any more oil-tanker jobs in the future, fellas. Which is to say, ROT IN JAIL, CORRUPTOS.

Posted in Barreling Right Along, El NarcoPresidente, Environmentally Ill, Fascism Without Swastikas, Filthy Stinking Rich, Huguito Chavecito, Isn't That Illegal?. Comments Off on Venezuelan navy intercepts three ships suspected of illegal fuel trafficking »

Music for a Sunday: Tunes for Harpo to hate

So, it would appear Harpo really hates it when people sing about him and what he’s done to our fair land. And he’s slapped the censure on a scientist who did just that. Well, it looks like he’s gonna have a lot more protest-songs to hate, because Canadians of all stripes are now Idle No More. And they’re coming up with some good tunes, too.

First, there’s this one:

And then there’s its sequel, made with a little help from commenters on the first one who contributed their own additional verses:

Twelve-bar blues beat SupposiTory blues anytime. Especially with a native beat at the roots.

Posted in Canadian Counterpunch, Environmentally Ill, Music for a Sunday, Teh Injunz, Uppity Wimmin. Comments Off on Music for a Sunday: Tunes for Harpo to hate »

Nudity blamed for earthquake, AGAIN…


Tourists on Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia, stripping down…very much against local law.

Hey! Remember the Boobquake of a few years back, when some silly mullah in Iran blamed women’s “immodest dress” for causing earthquakes in that land (which happens to be located on a number of major geological faultlines, and therefore, is prone to earthquakes no matter what)? Well, something happened in Malaysia recently that is kinda-sorta like that, and this time, it’s immodest foreigners being blamed:

Rescuers recovered the bodies of 11 more climbers from Malaysia’s highest peak on Saturday, a day after it was struck by a strong earthquake, bringing the total number of dead to 13.

Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan blamed the tragedy on a group of 10 foreigners who “showed disrespect to the sacred mountain” by posing naked at the peak last week. He said a special ritual would be conducted later to “appease the mountain spirit.”

According to a police report, the two Canadian tourists involved in the incident are Lindsey Petersen and Danielle Petersen. Along with two Dutch and a German national, they broke away from their entourage and stripped naked before taking photos at the mountain peak on May 30, officials have said.

Five of the tourists are believed to still be in Malaysia and will be barred from leaving on the offence of gross indecency, police have said.

Actually, silly naked tourists did NOT cause this disaster. Malaysia, like Iran, is situated on top of a VERY geologically active bit of the Earth’s crust, where several tectonic plates are in conflict with one another. This particular hotspot is one of the most volcanically active areas on Earth.

So it’s not too surprising that local natives, who probably don’t have a whole lot of modern geophysical knowledge at their disposal, would have evolved a set of beliefs and superstitions about the frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity that rock their homeland, causing death and destruction. And if the spirits and deities of the mountains aren’t appeased, so the logic goes, bad things happen. Or if uppity foreigners come in, all ignorant of local customs, and offend them — same thing.

Of course, nudity and immodesty don’t cause earthquakes. The ground under our feet doesn’t care what we wear. We could all go starkers anytime we wanted and it wouldn’t make a difference. The only thing that does make a difference is whether your particular patch of dirt is located on or near a massive subduction zone.

But try telling that to the local authorities of Malaysia, who are already none too keen on foreigners coming in and doing idiotic stunts on sacred ground just for the sake of some forgettable postings on Instagram or Facebook. These bozos came with the intent of creating some transgressive memories for life, and got a LOT more than they bargained for, thanks to the worst timing ever. But even if their timing didn’t suck, they still would have landed in deep shit. Why tempt a government that is already itching to prosecute foreigners for the slightest infraction? YOLO is the philosophy of the Hardcore Stupid.

Meanwhile, Mark Morford has the sanest take on the whole loopy tragedy. Read it, and if you take anything at all away from this incident, let it be that you, as a visitor in another country, should still be mindful and respectful of local customs…whether you agree with the beliefs behind them or not.

Aside from local customs, you should also be aware of the dangers if you’re travelling in a region known for its geological hazards, as Malaysia is. Scaling the highest mountain in the region on a lark, only to get blamed for an earthquake, is a seriously stupid way to round out your bucket list.

If you don’t end up kicking the bucket prematurely, that is.


The Harper Legacy: empty monuments, nothing for native women


Meet “Mother Canada”. If you’ve never heard of her, you’re not alone. She’s a figment of Harpocratic imagination, with no real basis in Canadian culture or history. And she’s supposedly meant to honor the veterans and the dead of World War II. But those whom she’s meant to please aren’t so impressed:

“It’s vulgar and ostentatious. It doesn’t do anything for veterans or definitely not for the people who are dead,” says Valerie Bird, a 93-year-old Second World War veteran.

And environmental experts are even less enthused:

“It will be a huge scientific loss to the whole Canadian scientific community if this project goes ahead.”

The statue by the Never Forgotten National Memorial Foundation, dubbed Mother Canada, would be 30 metres high and feature a woman with her arms outstretched toward Europe. The plan also includes parking for 300 vehicles, a restaurant, souvenir shop and an interpretive centre.

Howard said the complex isn’t compatible with Parks Canada’s mandate to preserve and protect the land for future generations. He believes it will deter visitors who are attracted to the region and the Cabot Trail for its geography and natural beauty.

“It will go right over the most precious part of the geological formation,” he says. “There’s nothing like it in national parks before. They’ll do a lot of damage by Christmas, unless we stand up now.”

But hey, guess who loves it? Yup, Cons with a fetish for war…and European immigration:

Lewis MacKenzie, a retired major-general, is one of the prominent backers of the project. He said the location is ideal because it may have been one of the last parts of Canada seen by people leaving for the First World War and the Second World War, and one of the first seen upon their return.

“The design, when you see it, is extremely attractive,” he said. “It’s extremely welcoming not only to the souls of those interred abroad, but also for new Canadians. If it’s a spot for reflection, I can’t think of a better one.”

And what about new Canadians coming from Africa, Asia, Oceania, the US, Latin America and the Caribbean? What monuments do they get to see, beyond the arrivals centre of whatever airport they flew in through? Will there be a replica of this statue on every baggage carousel, or what? Somehow, I just can’t see any Mother Canada figures facing west or south. Apparently, people from those directions are less likely to be white, and since we didn’t fight on their behalf during the world wars, but only for England, well…sorry, folks, you just don’t count.

But don’t feel too bad. You’re not the only ones who don’t count for Harpo & Co.:

Federal Conservatives have suggested they will reject calls from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) for both a public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women and Canada’s implementation of a landmark United Nations document on First Nations’ rights.

On Tuesday, the TRC released a long-awaited report on the shameful legacy of the residential school system. The push for a national inquiry and adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People were both included among 94 wide-ranging recommendations.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has previously ruled out taking both actions and, in question period, hinted its position was unlikely to change.


Canada was the only country to flag objections about the declaration at a special UN General Assembly meeting in September. Ottawa expressed concern at the time over legal wording that could be construed as giving a possible “veto for aboriginal groups.”

Last month, Conservatives also voted down a private member’s bill from Cree NDP MP Romeo Saganash — a residential school survivor — that sought to align Canadian law with the declaration.

So there you go. Native Canadians, especially missing and murdered women (who were often sold in human trafficking and prostitution) get nothing. No monument, no public inquiry, and certainly no say in what gets done about the injustices done to them over many decades. Nothing. Nada. Bupkus. Zippo. Zilch. Nothing but empty words of “apology” from Harpo, and an even emptier “I already said it, what more do you want?”

And this even though an indigenous child’s chances of dying horribly in residential school were roughly equal to a Canadian servicemember’s odds of dying in World War II, which “Mother Canada” is meant to commemorate.

So, there’s the Harper Legacy in a nutshell. You’ll get hideous monuments to war and Europeanism, and even to the “victims of Communism”. But if you don’t fit Harpo’s narrow, racist definition of a “real Canadian”, you get bugger-all. And a tanked economy, too.

Mother Canada really ought to turn Harpo over her knee and spank him. Too bad she’s not his real mom, eh?

Posted in Canadian Counterpunch, Environmentally Ill, Isn't It Ironic?, Isn't That Racist?, Not So Compassionate Conservatism, Teh Injunz, Uppity Wimmin. Comments Off on The Harper Legacy: empty monuments, nothing for native women »

Bill C-51: Are you on Harpo’s enemies list yet?

If not, shame on you. Watch this and learn why it behooves you to become an enemy of PetroState Canada and Fortress North America:

Democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and political association, the indigenous peoples, the right to a clean and healthy environment…all these and more are now under fire. And if you believe in them, and take your belief in them to the streets, congratulations: You are An Enemy of the State. USA PATRIOT Act North, otherwise known as Bill C-51, is aiming to make YOU illegal.

And if you couldn’t make it to the streets, don’t worry. You can still put a fire under your Member of Parliament. Use this letter-writing tool and in a few minutes’ time, you too can be a proud member of the Enemies list.

Now go, and be the best fuckin’ subversive you can.


Good news (and not so good) from Australia…

…courtesy the Angry Aussie, who knows how to say “fuckwit” with the perfect amount of juicy relish:

Yikes, Australia…didn’t you just HAVE a catastrophic fire season? And now you’re having another? And your conservative politicians don’t want to accept it? Yeah, keep trying to deny that global warming exists, you fuckwits. I hope your houses burn first.

On a happier note, one “Julien Blanc”, serial harasser and sex-assault “instructor”, has been turfed from The Land Down Under after video of him putting chokeholds on women in various countries went viral in the worst possible sense. A firsthand account from the scene is here. And here’s a hilarious satirical summation of what didn’t happen (but we all wish did):

The cruise left Melbourne harbour early last evening for a seminar that The Backburner understands was a dedicated homage to The Little Rascals’ He-Man Woman Haters Club. According to initial reports everything was running according to plan with participants receiving top quality lessons on dehumanising women when the unthinkable happened and the boat was able to complete its journey without becoming shipwrecked.

“It’s truly a disaster,” said a representative of the Ports Authority. “We train for nights like this but you hope it never happens. Seeing all those men return to shore without incident just breaks my heart.”

“Obviously there will be an inquiry into safety standards of all boats in the region. This cannot be allowed to happen again.”

The controversial cruise, which set out on an important journey to ‘neg’ the ocean, had been hotly protested by a group of activists who claim that women were human and shouldn’t be treated like the victims of a creepy hypnotist. The Pick Up Artists are contesting this claim.

Negging the ocean. Yeah, that’s what all the Real Men™ are doing these days. “You know, you’d look so much hotter if you were less green and more blue.”

But hey! I suppose that beats trying to strangle it. The worst thing that could happen is the tide could go out and leave these guys high and dry. Oh, if only.

Posted in Environmentally Ill, Isn't That Illegal?, Karma 1, Dogma 0, Men Who Just Don't Get It, Oceania, Schadenfreude. Comments Off on Good news (and not so good) from Australia… »

A few random thoughts on yesterday’s Ontario election


So, the Ontario Liberals have formed our new government. And it’s a majority. We now have our first elected woman premier (who is also our first elected out gay premier). Tim Hudak was handed his Not-So-Progressive Conservative ass, and has resigned in the wake of his resounding defeat. Meanwhile, Andrea Horwath, who led the provincial NDP — supposedly the most progressive of the three mainstream parties — got handed an object lesson in how NOT to win new friends and influence people. People who neglected to vote got just what they deserved, too: NOTHING.

And I, who swore over a decade ago never again to hold my nose and vote for a Liberal when the party lost to Ernie Eves and his nasty band of Harrisite leftovers (of which Hudak was one), have voted for a Liberal. I did not hold my nose this time.

And I’m not even sorry.

I didn’t leave the NDP; they left me. And they did it right around the time that Andrea Horwath decided it was clever to court the business vote and maybe pick off a few disgruntled SupposiTories, and throw the real, long-time NDPers under the big orange bus. And to cap off the ignominy, the provincial New Democrats ignored my demands to be taken off their call list, and instead deluged me with donation requests by phone and e-mail, as well as robocalls trying to rope me into an “unscripted” town-hall that I had no desire to take part in. I was pissed as hell over that. And yesterday, around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, I finally took my frustrations out in the only way I knew. I voted for the local Liberal in my riding. And he won.

And that’s why I’m not sorry. My riding is a swing riding; it could go either way in any given election, and vacillates between Lib and Con. An NDP vote would be wasted here, and doubly so under the circumstances. The Liberal I voted for unseated the Conservative doofus who’d been squatting uselessly in Queen’s Park on our supposed behalf, making idiotic proposals to attract more tourists to our area by building covered bridges. Yeah, that’s right: he was shooting for The Bridges of Madison County. Only this is NOT Madison County, and it doesn’t have a lengthy tradition of covered bridges to preserve, let alone add to. But hey — wouldn’t it have looked cute? Guess that would have created maybe a couple dozen of those million new jobs Timmy promised us. No wait, that would be public-sector jobs. And Timmy was for chopping 100,000 of those. He seemed to think that with fewer taxes to pay and less accountability than ever, the private sector would pick up the slack. Since when has it ever done that? Since, oh, about NEVER. The only thing that trickles down from Uncle Miltie Friedman’s economics is raw sewage — and, if you have the misfortune to live and work in Alberta, tar-sands waste.

And Ontario voters, those who showed up yesterday at any rate, aren’t stupid. You can’t piss on our heads out here and tell us it’s raining. Which is what Tim Hudak was trying to do. And Andrea Horwath, too. The one was handed a harsh lesson in how not to do economics, and the other, in how not to do progressive politics. On both counts, they are bullets that I chose to dodge. As for the Greens, they’ve long been off the progressive radar here, because their environmental solution boils down to too much capitalism and not enough socialism. And again, Ontario voters not being stupid, we know that that’s not enough to keep our province clean and healthy. Trying to appeal to the goodness of a businessman’s heart is a losing proposition, because they don’t have one. Big Business will almost always pay only the merest of lip service to progressive causes, and very rarely do things differently out of a knowledge that the common good is also good for business. If you don’t believe me, watch The Corporation. If corporations are legally persons, then the kind of persons they are is diagnosably psychopathic. (And just think: That’s who Andrea Horwath was trying to court, too. Oy.)

So, all bullet-dodging and ass-handing aside, what was this election about?

In the end, the “surprising” Liberal majority tells me that there was something more at work here than just avoiding the worst and punishing their fellow-travellers for jumping on the dumb populist bandwagon. Hazel McCallion, the mayor of Mississauga (and the longest-serving mayor in the country), nailed it when she picked Kathleen Wynne for her endorsement. Hurricane Hazel is no lightweight; she shepherded her city through the great train derailment of 1979, when she was newly elected, and Mississauga was newly amalgamated. It could have been the kiss of death for her, but it proved to be her finest hour, because that was when she proved not only her political mettle, but her unswerving dedication to her constituents. Hazel McCallion has never lied or played her people false. She always stood up for them, and that’s why they kept voting for her, term after term after term. So her recommendation bore some weight with me. And lots of other Ontarians too, it seems.

And then there was the Globe & Mail’s editorial board. They all endorsed Wynne too, in a consensus that took time and thought to reach, only to have orders come down from on high to throw their weight behind Hudak instead. Now, those board members were not idiots, either. Whoever told them they were going with Hudak was. But then, the Grope & Flail has always endorsed the Tories, so I guess that was to be expected. Even though the party leader was a complete twit, it didn’t matter; tradition is tradition. And the editorial high command ended up mopping egg yolks out of their beards for that.

But then, is that really so shocking? Ontarians can’t afford to vote based on tradition anymore. And neither can politicians rely on conventional, traditional strategies for roping them in. The conservative base is aging and dying. They can’t be counted on in the numbers they once had. And that’s a good thing for progressives, even in this ludicrous first-past-the-post system we have. Because we younger voters of Generations X and Y are informed by grassroots movements like Occupy, Uncut, and the 99%. We are restless, and we don’t give a hang for party loyalty when the parties betray us. We are the untapped progressive vein that the traditional party strategists are missing. They think we’ll fall for some right-wing yutz when, in fact, we are much further to the left than any of the big parties. And we are the ones with an increasing power to force the most progressive candidates to the top. In this case, it was Kathleen Wynne…who ran as a Liberal, but sounded a lot more like a New Democrat than the NDP did. For me, she was a no-brainer choice.

My polling station was surprisingly busy, given that I live in a fairly small town. Line-ups are uncommon on voting day at any station here. Usually you’re in and out in less than five minutes. But yesterday, I found myself waiting behind another woman, who was waiting for yet another woman to vote. I wonder if we all voted for the same candidate. I wouldn’t be surprised if we did! I smelled motivation in the air…and desperation in the Conservative camp, which indeed there was. Maybe my single vote wasn’t much on its own, but then again, lots of others were probably thinking the same thing. And, quite possibly, that was what put our local Liberal very soundly over the top, with several thousand votes over the incumbent Conservative doofus. If you vote, you can still make a difference; if not, you might just end up getting not the government you want, but the one you deserve.

And now that that’s all over, it’s time for the next step: holding all the new electees’ feet to the fire, as well as those of the losers, and making sure they don’t get away with more of the same old. Which is to say, politics by, of and for the money, rather than by, of and for the people. We have to make sure they don’t go throwing a “surprise” austerity budget at us. Let’s hope they’re learning a thing or two from the Eurocrisis, and specifically, the French, who are throwing debt out the window in favor of the public interest. Ontarians should get a referendum on whether a “balanced budget” is really a worthwhile priority, instead of an inflexible law. It’s time to scrap the legacy of Mike Harris and Ernie Eves once and for all. No more tax cuts for big business, and no more austerity budgets to appease the suits. For that, we’ll need concerted action.

And a lot more of it than just dutifully turning out on election day.


Peace and order restored in Mérida


So, how’s that coup going in Venezuela? Not so well for the putschists, ha ha:

Security corps have restored calm to the Venezuelan state of Mérida, following a spate of far-right violence dating back to last February, according to the Minister of Interior Relations, Justice and Peace, Miguel Rodríguez Torres.

“Mérida is liberated. Our Bolivarian National Guard will guarantee the right of free transit to its citizens. We want peace,” wrote the minister on his Twitter account, @RodriguezT_MIJP.

In another message, Rodríguez wrote: “There has been a tremendous effort on the part of our GNB officers to return peace to the city of Mérida.”

Rodríguez Torres congratulated the commanding general of the GNB, Justo Noguera, and the Bolivarian National Police “for their excellent work in re-establishing order in Mérida”.

The minister stated that “opposition radicalism has brought environmental and social disaster to this beautiful city.” Later he reflected: “This is how they try to gain power.”

Extortion, homicides, kidnappings and undue use of firearms stand out in the list of crimes perpetrated by the vandal groups who were operating in the sectors of El Rodeo, El Campito, and Cardenal Quintero, in the Libertador municipality of Mérida.

On April 25, Major-General Justo Noguera announced that more than 2,000 members of the GNB were active in the region to guarantee peace there.

To date 41 people have been killed, between February 12 and April 21, 2014. They were victims of violent blockades, traps set by the opposition, obstacles, and coups de grâce executed by terrorists.

Also, 5,000 trees were cut down indiscriminately, and damage was done to infrastructure and public property, causing losses totalling approximately $10 billion.

Translation mine.

All that death, all that wasted money, and what has it accomplished for the opposition? Nada. Zippo. Zilch. Bupkus. Madurito is still firmly in power, and democracy isn’t about to bow to terrorism. Or imperialism.

And those of you in the northern hemisphere supporting these violent so-called “protests” — don’t you feel like idiots now?


How many trolls does $1 billion a year buy?


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.

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