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Author Topic: Fossil Fuels: Degraded Democracy and Profit Over Planet Pollution  (Read 12964 times)

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Jane Mayer / The 🦕🦖 Koch Brothers and the 😈 Weaponizing of Philanthropy

Published on Apr 6, 2016

Why is America living in an age of profound economic inequality? Why, despite the desperate need to address climate change, have even modest environmental efforts been defeated again and again? Why have protections for employees been decimated? Why do hedge-fund billionaires pay a far lower tax rate than middle-class workers? The conventional answer is that a popular uprising against “big government” led to the ascendancy of a broad-based conservative movement. But as author Jane Mayer shows in her powerful, meticulously reported new book, a network of exceedingly wealthy people with extreme libertarian views bankrolled a systematic, step-by-step plan to fundamentally alter the American political system. 

Mayer was in conversation with Rob Reich and Lucy Bernholz to discuss the future of American democracy.

This event was co-sponsored with Stanford PACS, and was part of The Ethics of Democracy series.

The McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society is committed to bringing ethical reflection to bear on important social problems through research, teaching, and engagement. Visit the Center's website for more information: http://ethicsinsociety.stanford.edu

Category Education
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Donald 🦀 Trump has even found a way to ruin the Statue of Liberty

Robert Harrington | 12:01 pm EDT August 15, 2019
Palmer Report » Analysis

I recall a time when white nationalist talking points inserted into any discussion about the Statue of Liberty would have been politically dangerous, even for a Republican. Lest we forget, a mere seven years ago a Republican candidate for president of the United States was castigated endlessly (and, let’s face it, fatuously) for referring to “binders full of women.” We knew what he meant, and, what he meant was clumsily put, albeit innocently intended, and the backlash was a simple case of taking cynicism too far. The truth was then much easier to come by than it is now. Mitt Romney shouldn’t have become president of the United States, not because he kept actual women locked up in actual binders, but because he was a weak-minded fool and a coward, and Americans understood that.

But if one could add another verse to the Book of Ecclesiastes, one would be forgiven for wishing to include “a time to be cynical,” because that time is certainly now. These days there are fewer and fewer instances where extreme reactions to mildly and (ostensibly) innocently-phrased pronouncements are not warranted – barring irresponsible accusations of murder without evidence, of course.

When the concluding lines of the sonnet “The New Colossus,” by Emma Lazarus, was first cast in bronze in 1903, and added to the plinth of the Statue of Liberty 17 years after Lady Liberty first lifted her lamp beside the golden door of New York Harbor, I doubt any realized then how pregnant with dangerous meaning those 17 years “too late” would become, in the hard and humorless eyes of white nationalists a century later. That 17 year gap in time subverted, in their view, “what the statute originally meant,” and hastily, they insist, tacked on this popular nonsense about letting brown people come flooding in, for goodness’ sake.

Never mind that the poem was actually written in 1883, three years before the statue was dedicated. Never mind it was written precisely to raise money for the very plinth upon which Lady Liberty was to rest and to which the poem was ultimately affixed. Just don’t confuse a white nationalist with the facts. Besides, if we destroy this precious little talking point of theirs they’ll jolly well go in search of another.For those of you who don’t know or have forgotten what the plaque says, here is the entire text:

Give me your tired, your poor,
 Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
 I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

All of which brings me to 🐍 Ken Cuccinelli. Cuccinelli is the Trump administration’s acting head of Citizenship and Immigration Services. It was he who in a recent PBS interview changed the words of the poem. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” Cuccinelli began, then he added the words, “who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.”

All of which is to distract Americans into believing that immigrants are an undue strain on the system, despite the fact that they pay billions in taxes, billions into social security, and, for those who are undocumented, are not allowed to vote, collect benefits or qualify for Medicare. It was immigrants who helped build Trump Tower at the below-minimum-wage rate of $4 an hour. And, no, it was not millions of undocumented immigrants who voted for Hillary Clinton. No matter how much Trump would love to blame them for that, Hillary legitimately won the popular vote in 2016.

Donald Trump’s recent disavowal of white supremacy rings hollow in the shadow of Cuccinelli’s rewrite of the Statue of Liberty poem. Insisting that however duck-like the appearance, the walk and the quack may be, that this administration is not a duck is laughable. We know what the poem on Lady Liberty says, we know what it means and we know when it was written. All Americans ought to understand this, particularly a man named “Cuccilini.”

All of which puts me in mind of another poem written by another woman, Marya Mannes ✨:

Borders are scratched across the
hearts of men

By strangers with a calm, judicial


And when the borders bleed we
watch with dread

The lines of ink across the map
turn red.

Help fund Palmer Report's editorial takedown of Donald Trump!


Agelbert NOTE: Speaking of PUBLIC 🦕 CHARGES   >:(, you never will hear any members of Trump's Wrecking Crew utter a peep about the MASSIVE CHARGES the Federal Government bills we-the-people for each and every day in the form of "Subsidies"for the Hydrocarbon 🦕🦖 "Industries", which MUST HAVE those GOVERNMENT HANDOUTS in order to "stand on their own two feet". IOW, everything Ken Cuccinelli said is .

But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou
hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Acts 8:20


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Just How Dangerous Is ☠️ Fracking?
« Reply #362 on: August 22, 2019, 06:56:17 pm »
Just How Dangerous Is ☠️ Fracking?

Thom Hartmann Program
Published on Aug 21, 2019

Is there any way fracking can be done safely, for both humans and the environment?

Newly published reports show  that not even the strongest regulations can not  make fracking any safer for the environment or for wildlife or people.

Fracking can be used for both oil and gas and is an industrialized process. Fracking blasts a lot of water and chemicals underground, with hundreds of trucks bring in materials. Fracking is very expensive, and the industry is barely covering its costs. It isn’t always economic to transport the gas produced by fracking and it is burned off, making the whole process pointless while destroying the surface of the ground and deep down.

What Are the Risks of Fracking to People Who Live Close-by?

There are concerns with water and the water table becoming contaminated with chemicals. Wastewater can sometimes be dumped into streams, which could impact drinking water and wildlife.

Environmental journalist, Tara Lohan 👍 joined Thom Hartmann.

📽️ WATCH NEXT: The Science Revolution:
But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou
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🦉 Well, amid that avalanche of horrible news for the biosphere in general, and humans of good will in particular, there is some good news (see below).

🦖 David Koch has died at age 79: Billionaire businessman was influential GOP donor ... cnn.com
CNN tries to frame 🦖 David Koch as the "enemy" of Trump 🦀. That's total BULLSHIT. The well positioned Kochroaches within the Trump Administration, now wreaking hydrocarbon havoc on wildlife, public lands and also very busy sabotaging previously approved large offshore wind renewable energy projects, gives the lie to any claim that the Trump 🐉🦕🦖 Wrecking Crew isn't composed MOSTLY of the following:

But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou
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Make Nexus Hot News part of your morning: click here to subscribe.

August 29, 2019 

But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou
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The Entire Global Economy Is Complicit In The Destruction Of The Amazon
Hundreds of global corporations have promised to help limit deforestation. None of them is meeting that goal.

Name any fast-food restaurant, personal care product or home good you have bought recently, and chances are it contributed to the deforestation of the Amazon. Now name a big bank ― any big bank, really. More than likely it has helped finance that destruction. 

Furniture companies like IKEA and La-Z-Boy, and footwear giants like Nike, Adidas and New Balance, are customers of Chinese manufacturers that source leather from Brazilian cattle ranches. Palm oil, produced in Brazil and elsewhere, is used in everything from pizza dough and ice cream to lipstick and shampoo. Soy, paper and wood products that come directly from the Amazon are omnipresent. 

It’s not hard to pinpoint our unquenchable thirst for cattle, soy, timber, palm oil and other commodities as the main driver of Amazonian deforestation and the underlying cause of the record number of fires this year. 

What’s more difficult is figuring out what to do about it. The sheer scale of the global economy and the complexity of the supply chains and financial systems that make it work mean that nearly every company, corporation and banking and investment institution on the planet is complicit in the destruction of the Amazon and other forest ecosystems around the world. 

Although hundreds of companies have made high-profile public commitments to combating deforestation, none is doing enough to actually limit ― much less end ― the practice. 

“It’s very challenging to live your day without touching deforestation,” said Stephen Donofrio, a senior adviser at Forest Trends, a nonprofit that tracks corporate deforestation.

The world loses 30 football fields of trees to deforestation every minute, but few places highlight the problem quite like the Amazon, a rainforest that has been the subject of extensive global attention and protectionist efforts from past Brazilian leaders and conservation groups for decades. 

Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has reversed many gains made under past administrations. Since taking office in January, he has gutted Brazil’s environmental agencies and moved to strip protections from the Amazon and indigenous land there. But he has not acted alone: A vast network of U.S. and European corporations, backed by large financial institutions and supplied by smaller Brazilian companies, farmers and ranchers, are also playing a part, as the environmental nonprofit Amazon Watch highlighted in an April report.  

Cattle in confined feed lots in a deforested Amazonian area in Brazil’s central state of Para on May 3, 2009. Soon thou
Cattle in confined feed lots in a deforested Amazonian area in Brazil’s central state of Para on May 3, 2009. Soon thousands of cows will graze on the freshly cleared land in Para.

The Amazon Watch report named the world’s largest soy trading companies ― Archer-Daniels-Midland, Bunge, Cargill and Louis Dreyfus, known collectively as the ABCDs ― along with smaller, lesser-known corporations linked to timber, beef and palm oil production that had helped spur deforestation. 

In 2014, Cargill was among the hundreds of global companies that pledged to limit its effect on global forests, including the Amazon, by refusing to purchase commodities from suppliers that deforested the land to produce them. This year, it has touted its efforts to build “deforestation-free supply chains” by 2030 and said it would no longer rely on suppliers that violated that aim. 

But in June, Cargill told Brazilian farmers that it opposed a moratorium on soy production in the Cerrado, a savannah region of Brazil, a priority for environmental groups that had already helped establish a similar moratorium in the Amazon more than a decade ago. Cargill’s justification was that other companies and suppliers would continue producing soy and destroying forests even if it stopped; indeed, other soy giants had also resisted the moratorium. 

Instead, the company committed to spending $30 million to fund new ideas to meet its goal of limiting deforestation, but environmental groups have criticized the company for its inability to choose between its destructive suppliers and its sustainability goals, which Cargill has admitted it is still not on track to meet.

Cargill declined to comment and referred HuffPost to the Brazilian Association of Vegetable Oil Industries, or ABIOVE, which represents its industry in Brazil.

ABIOVE responded late Wednesday that “it is a mistake to affirm that soy crop is a driver of deforestation,” noting that soybean production is occurring in “only 1.14%” of the entire Amazon biome. The statement also said, in part:

“Brazilian environmental legislation is one of the strictest and most complete on the world. The challenge is to prove that this legislation is, in fact, complied and monitored. So, ABIOVE will continue committed not to trade soy produced on properties with deforested areas, or those embargoed by environmental monitoring entities.”

Together, soy and cattle production accounts for almost 80% of Amazon deforestation, and the April report pointed, too, to Brazilian meat giants, such as JBS, a company that also operates in the U.S. and Europe and, together with two other Brazilian corporations, is responsible for roughly 70% of Brazil’s beef exports to the United States and Europe. 

JBS faced millions of dollars in fines for buying cattle raised on protected lands in 2017, and earlier this year, it was among the Brazilian meat companies linked to similar practices in a joint investigation published by The Guardian, Repórter Brasil and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

The financial institutions that provide financing to those companies are also responsible. 

BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, is a “key financier of the agribusiness giants most implicated in deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon,” the report said, noting that it holds more than $2.5 billion worth of shares in Brazil’s largest agribusiness companies.

BlackRock CEO Laurence Fink, the report noted, has earned the reputation as “the conscience of Wall Street” for his public positioning of the company as one committed to sustainability. At the same time, it remains “the common denominator in the financing of some of the most destructive industries on the planet,” said Christian Porier, a program director at Amazon Watch and the lead author of the April report. (Amazon Watch launched a campaign against BlackRock this year, seeking to “hold it accountable.”)

BlackRock, according to the report, has provided financing to both Cargill and Bunge, both of which faced fines from the Brazilian government last year for purchasing grain linked to illegal deforestation. Both companies disputed the fines and said they had complied with the law. 

In a lengthy email statement that never mentioned the Amazon, BlackRock spokesman Farrell Denby said the the majority of the company’s holdings are held through index and exchange-traded funds that are selected by its investor clients and that its “obligation as an asset manager and a fiduciary is to manage our clients’ assets consistent with their investment priorities.” He said BlackRock encourages clients “to adopt the robust business practices consistent with sustainable long-term performance” and, when it has concerns, stands “ready to vote against proposals from management or the board.” Denby did not respond to a question about whether BlackRock is taking any steps in light on the record number of fires in the rainforest.

Banks including Santander, JPMorgan Chase and Barclay’s have also provided financing to JBS, according to the report. Other large financial institutions, including HSBC, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Credit Suisse, have underwritten Marfrig and Minerva, two other large beef companies based in Brazil, over the last five years, the report said.

Many of the world’s largest banks, especially those based in Europe and the United States, have in recent years announced plans to reduce their financing of companies linked to deforestation. In 2017, for instance, HSBC implemented a “no deforestation” policy in response to a Greenpeace report that linked the bank to more than $16 billion in investments into firms accused of illegally deforesting land. Barclay’s and Credit Suisse were among a group of financial institutions that in 2014 committed to reaching zero net deforestation, meaning they’d help mitigate the loss by replanting elsewhere. 

Marfrig, meanwhile, has touted its compliance with Amazon conservation standards but has been linked to ranchers and beef suppliers who have recently faced fines for illegal deforestation from Brazil’s environmental ministry. 

A truck transports logs that were illegally extracted from Amazon rainforest on Tuesday.
A truck transports logs that were illegally extracted from Amazon rainforest on Tuesday.

But that highlights a larger issue with corporate efforts to limit their destructive practices: Though they claim to meet sustainability standards, they often only account for the practices of their immediate partners and don’t take responsibility for what happens further down the supply chain. 

Many companies “can demonstrate [compliance] in terms of their primary suppliers, but...their supply chain due diligence ends there,” Porier said. 

That isn’t always a result of nefarious practices. Companies often simply don’t have the information they need to get on board with efforts to better protect ecosystems like the Amazon, said Michael Coe, an earth system scientist and director of the Amazon program at Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts.  

“We have to think about all the different players and ask what levers are there that we can try to apply to reduce the demand to deforest,” he said. 

Intact ecosystems are becoming increasingly key. The United Nations warned in a report this month that unsustainable land use has helped drive atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations to their highest levels in human history and devastated natural buffers against planetary warming. And even before the U.N.’s warnings turned increasingly urgent, the global environmental crisis had led to an increased focus on sustainable products from consumers and corporations alike. 

Whether the cause is a lack of information or a drive for profits, there remains a significant gap between what companies say they are doing to combat deforestation and what they’re actually accomplishing when it comes to limiting it.

In 2014, hundreds of companies pledged to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains and financial portfolios by 2020. But less than six months before that deadline arrives, not a single one of them is on track to meet the goal, according to Global Canopy, a British nonprofit that tracks more than 500 companies and financial institutions that put forests at risk through their reliance on or financing of commodity-rich supply chains. 

The Carbon Disclosure Project, another British nonprofit, has attempted to persuade corporations to be more transparent about their environmentally destructive practices in an effort to improve them. 

But more than 70% of the 1,500 companies it asked to disclose information on timber, palm oil, cattle and soy production in 2018 didn’t share data, and more than 350 of them ― including companies like Dominos Pizza and Mondelez, the Illinois-based food company whose top brands include Oreo, Nabisco and Kraft Foods ― haven’t disclosed information in any of the last three years.  

Nearly 25% of the companies that did share data said they have taken no action at all to limit their effect on deforestation or have moved to address it on only one of the four commodity groups. The survey also showed that a third of the responding companies had yet to start working with suppliers to limit deforestation.

More than half of the 865 companies whose practices risk contributing to deforestation have committed to relying on sustainable commodities, Forest Trends said in a June report

But it found than less than 10% of them have committed to net-zero deforestation, and fewer than a third of those have reported making substantive progress toward the goal. 

“Despite the commitments that have been made,” Global Canopy said in its annual “Forest 500” report, “evidence shows that rates of commodity-driven deforestation have not decreased.”


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Biden, 🐍 Biden, you can’t hide, we can see your 🦕 greedy side!”

Protests Erupt Outside Fundraiser for 🐍 Biden Co-Hosted by 🦕 Natural Gas Executives


Dozens of environmentalists gathered outside the New York home of investment banker David Solomon on Thursday to protest 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden's decision to attend a fundraiser there. Biden attended the event despite calls for him to cancel it following news of the co-host's deep ties to the fossil fuel industry. The high-dollar fundraiser came just 24 hours after Biden participated in a CNN presidential town hall on the climate crisis.

Read the Article →


But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou
hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Acts 8:20


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