Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Yay! We Won! Obama Outed By Choices (Obama Maintains His Cool (Grain Prices = Food Riots in Spring)) Ted Koppel Cop-Out & Ecology Groups Take $

“Washington should not be in the business of picking winners and losers.” Except when it comes to rich people? (Wonkette)
I guess they've figured out that we won't fight back. Sure looked like it last night, didn't it? It especially choked me up when the Boner teared up (again and again) for his good luck (and the opposite for all except his devotees), and the whole room seemed to egg him on. Such good feeling! My heart's in my throat. Let me catch my breath. (Wish I could have been a Rethug dirty-tricks minion last night watching the object of my affection give long wet kisses to the guys who paid me so well. Sweet!) Sorry folks, but I'm out of the Obama camp. And if you tell me whose camp to join (that isn't assaulting the middle class every day), I'll be right over. Too bad Dennis will be busy fighting for his political life next election after Citizens United has untied the financial backers' hands of his opposition. Sure. The speech last night was another smooth, calm, feel-good for the faithful, knock 'em out of the stadium "good news!" egads! roundhouse, but still . . . as I listened carefully all I heard was that the Rethugs had won (and won BIG). Every single thing he could have said to allay my suspicions didn't happen. Cutting the safety net programs? Check! Continuing all the wars (and getting our armed forces ready for more)? Check! And solving those pesky funded programs' problems? Check! Mate!!! (And teach? Are you nuts? Looking for an insanity plea, maybe? We knew you were out of touch, but pleeeaaase get one of your tough new neoLiberal friends to explain the facts of life to you again as in we're laying off teachers by the boatload! Cause we ain't go no money . . . fer nobody . . . 'cept the banksters! Teach! HA! (I guess everyone needed some comic relief right about then?) The recent choices of Jeffrey R. Immelt*, replacement for Jack Welsh of moving-jobs-out-of-the-country GE as his outside economic advisor and William Daley**, Midwest Chairman of JPMorganChase (winner of bankster bingo), (and the MSM non-coverage of the guy who is so linked in to the real Chicago mob), is my final straw (breaking point). Not to mention that Immelt, who helped send all those jobs overseas, hoarded cash and then revived his company with a government (taxpayer) bailout before telling us that Obama would now be more business oriented with him as the spokesperson, has to be the devil incarnate for most Democrats (if there are any left). WTF? You gotta give Obama one more kudo though, don't you? He sure as hell didn't look like anybody who was telling his voters that he was selling out their last interests and from now on would be doing only the interests of those who voted against him. But hey, cut the guy some slack. Er . . . perhaps this is why Obama looks so cool, calm and collected?
A grim report prepared by France’s General Directorate for External Security (DGSE) obtained by Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) states that president’s Obama and Sarkozy have “agreed in principal” to create a joint US-European military force to deal exclusively with a Global uprising expected this spring as our world runs out of food.

According to this report, Sarkozy, as head of the G-20 group of developed Nations, called for and received an emergency meeting with Obama this past Monday at the White House wherein he warned his American counterpart that the shock rise in food prices occurring due to an unprecedented series of disasters was threatening the stability of the entire World and could lead to the outbreak of Total Global War. Just last week French Prime Minister Francois Fillon underlined that one of France’s top G-20 priorities was to find a collective response to “excessive volatility” in food prices now occurring, a statement joined by Philippe Chalmin, a top economic adviser to the French government, who warned the World may face social unrest including food riots in April as grain prices increase to unprecedented highs.

The fears of the French government over growing Global instability was realized this past week after food riots erupted in Algeria and Tunisia and left over 50 dead. So dire has the situation become in Tunisia that their government this morning rushed in massive amounts of troops and tanks to their capital city Tunis and instituted a Nationwide curfew in an order to quell the growing violence.

The United Nations, also, warned this past Friday that millions of people are now at risk after food prices hit their highest level ever as Global wheat stocks fell to 175.2 million tons from 196.7 million tons a year ago; Global corn stocks are said may be 127.3 million tons at the end of this season, compared with last month’s USDA outlook for 130 million tons; and Global soybean inventories will drop to 58.78 million tons at the end of this season, from 60.4 million tons a year earlier. Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank, further warned this past week that rising food prices are “a threat to global growth and social stability” as our World, for the first time in living memory, has been warned is just “one poor harvest away from chaos”.

Important to note about how dire the Global food situation has become is to understand the disasters that have befallen our World’s top wheat growing Nations this past year, and who in descending order are: China, India, United States, Russia, France, Canada, Germany, Ukraine, Australia and Pakistan.

From China’s disaster: 2010 China drought and dust storms were a series of severe droughts during the spring of 2010 that affected Yunnan, Guizhou, Guangxi, Sichuan, Shanxi, Henan, Shaanxi, Chongqing, Hebei and Gansu in the People’s Republic of China as well as parts of Southeast Asia including Vietnam and Thailand, and dust storms in March and April that affected much of East Asia. The drought has been referred to as the worst in a century in southwestern China. From India’s disaster: A record heat wave and growing water crisis in India are forcing politicians to consider implementing user fees and other measures to conserve water. Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday instructed ministers and officials to prepare a strategic plan to face an impending food crisis as there were signs that the World is to confront a food shortage by next April.

From Russia’s disaster: (10% of total World’s output, 20% for export) they were hit by the highest recorded temperatures Russia has seen in 130 years of recordkeeping; the most widespread drought in more than three decades; and massive wildfires that have stretched across seven regions, including Moscow. From France’s disaster: The French government lowered their wheat crop forecast by 2.7% over last year due to drought and cold weather.

From Canada’s disaster: Record setting drought has affected their main grain producing provinces in the Western part of their Nation.

From Ukraine’s disaster: (the World’s top producer of barley and sixth biggest of wheat) hit as hard as Russia by fire and drought to the point they have halted all their exports of grains in 2011.

From Australia’s disaster: Fears of a Global wheat shortage have risen after the Queensland area of Australia was hit by calamitous flooding. Andrew Fraser, Queensland’s State Treasurer, described the floods as a “disaster of biblical proportions”. Water is covering land the size of France and Germany. It is expected to reach over 30 feet deep in some areas in coming days.

From Pakistan’s disaster: Floods have submerged 17 million acres of Pakistan’s most fertile crop land, have killed 200,000 herd of livestock and have washed away massive amounts of grain and left farmers unable to meet the fall deadline for planting new seeds, which implies a massive loss of food production in 2011, and potential long term food shortages.

Not only have the vast majority of our World’s top wheat producers been affected, but also one of the main grain producing regions on the Planet, South America, has been hit by disasters too where an historic drought has crippled Argentina and Bolivia, and Brazil, that regions largest Nation, has been hit with catastrophic floods that have killed nearly 400 people in the past few days alone.

Even the United States has been hit as a catastrophic winter has seen 49 of their 50 States covered by snow causing unprecedented damage to their crops in Florida due to freezing weather, and record setting rains destroying massive numbers of crops in their most important growing region of California.

And if you think that things couldn’t get any worse you couldn’t be more mistaken as South Korea (one of the most important meat exporters in Asia) has just this past week had to destroy millions of farm animals after an outbreak of the dreaded foot-and-mouth disease was discovered.

To how horrific the Global food situation will become this year was made even more grim this past month when the United States reported that nearly all of their honey bee and bumblebee populations have died out, and when coupled with the “mysterious” die-off of the entire bat population in America means that the two main pollinators of fruit and vegetable plants will no longer be able to do their jobs leading to crop losses this report warns will be “biblical and catastrophic”.

Chillingly to note is that after meeting with Sarkozy, Obama began implementing his Nation’s strategy for keeping the truth of this dire events from reaching the American people by ordering all US citizens to have an Internet ID so that they can be tracked and jailed should they begin telling the truth.

And so today, as agricultural traders and analysts warn that the latest revision to US and Global stocks means there is no further room for weather problems, a new cyclone is preparing to hit Australia, brutal winter weather in India has killed nearly 130, and more snow is warned to hit America, and we’re not even two full weeks into 2011… may God have mercy on us all.

(From Wikipedia~) * Jeffrey R. Immelt was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of Donna Rosemary (née Wallace), a school teacher, and Joseph Francis Immelt, who managed the General Electric Aircraft Engines Division. . . . In February 2009, Immelt was appointed as a member to the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board to provide the president and his administration with advice and counsel in fixing America's economic downturn.

On January 21, 2011, President Obama announced Immelt's appointment as chairman of his outside panel of economic advisers, succeeding former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker. The New York Times reported that Obama's appointment of Immelt was "another strong signal that he intends to make the White House more business-friendly." Immelt will retain his post at G.E. while becoming "chairman of the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, a newly named panel that Mr. Obama is creating by executive order."

* *William M. Daley was born in Chicago, Illinois, and is the seventh and youngest child of the late Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley and Eleanor "Sis" Daley. He is also the brother of former Illinois legislator John P. Daley and Chicago's current mayor Richard M. Daley. . . . In May 2004, Daley was made the Midwest Chairman of JPMorgan Chase, following its acquisition of Bank One Corporation, to oversee its operations from Chicago . . . . and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. I'll have to admit that David Michael Green speaks for me on the use of the newfound virtue of "civility" to cover the fact that what we've had is "capitulation."

Read it and weep. And, then, start taking some kind of action that you think might make a difference and change your life (if not the country's).

Those of us distraught at seeing the president punt on first down in his negotiations with the GOP thugs are making the fundamental error of seeing these conversations as actual negotiations. They are such only in the sense that one self-defining tribal faction wants to be the folks who get the perks from actually holding office and doing the bidding of the overclass, rather than allowing the other faction to perform that role. But substantively? Nah. Obama’s not ‘folding’ in ‘negotiations’ because he is not starting out anywhere fundamentally different than his ‘opponents’ in these conversations. They both want the same outcome, give or take a dollar or two here and there. They both have to manage their public images in order to appeal to their respective voting bases, while in reality simultaneously serving the same puppet-masters.

In this context, the current blah-blah over civility is just another side show, just another diversion.

And, in any case, civility is over-rated. While I agree that it is rarely necessary to employ the sort of ugly ad hominem attacks out of which the likes of Limbaugh have spun an entire career and a small fortune, what is truly lacking in our politics in not civility, but in fact passion. And honesty.

If I believed that the right in America had the interests of the world, or even just the American people, truly at heart, it would be one thing. But I don’t at all. I know instead for a fact that their interest is actually in destroying us folks if it is necessary in the process of looting us. Does that deserve the sort faux civility we arguably practice far too much? We weren’t called upon to be nice to the Japanese after they killed about 3000 of us in a surprise attack, were we? Why am I called upon to treat with respect millionaires and billionaires and the politician whores they’ve bought, when their goal is at least as destructive?

Does that seem like a far-fetched claim? “Worse the Pearl Harbor”, you say? To the hand-wringing centrists in this country, still desperately clinging for reasons of their own precarious emotional well-being to the prevailing ‘civility’ narrative, it’s a ridiculous statement.

Fine. I say, tell it to the perhaps one million dead Iraqis. Tell it to a million dead Americans, the victims of gun violence over the last generation’s time. Tell it to the rapidly proliferating number of species across the planet we are speedily eradicating. Tell it to the American children who can’t get health care or a decent education because public money has been redirected to tax cuts for the rich or ‘defense’ boondoggles of every sort. Tell it to the massive chunk of our population – a greater percentage than in any country in the world – behind bars in order to serve a for-profit prison industry. Tell it to the million of unemployed Americans whose jobs have been shipped overseas where labor is cheap and goon squads ‘disincentivize’ organizing into unions. Tell it to African farmers who starve to death because they can’t compete with subsidized American corporate agriculture. For that matter, tell it to the American family farmer. If you can find one.

You know, it’s bad enough being screwed. But it’s far worse to be screwed and to have to pretend it’s just an honest policy difference between well-meaning patriots with two divergent but equally legitimate and public-spirited positions on these issues.

It’s well past time to be blunt about our situation. Indeed, we cannot even hope to ameliorate it if we cannot even begin by labeling it.

The truth is that there are economic predators out there seeking to take what we have so that they can live ever wealthier lives while ours are short, nasty and brutish because of their institutionalized and legalized theft.

Victims of these crimes can choose to treat their assailants with civility if they want.

I’m not interested.

Neither am I, and since we have a chance to review some other turncoat's life choices, how about Ted Koppel's? (Can you say "Ollie North?" And if you thought this was solely about "politics," relax. It's always about the M O N E Y!!!) (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

Ted Koppel's Timid Take on Iran-gate

Robert Parry January 24, 2011

Ted Koppel, whose broadcasting career got a big boost from the Iranian-hostage crisis in 1980, doesn’t seem aware that the long-running cover-up of how Republicans sabotaged President Jimmy Carter’s negotiations has collapsed – or Koppel may simply prefer to stick with the safer version of the story.

In a Washington Post “Outlook” retrospective on the crisis, Koppel recounted how “the Iranians stage-managed the drama down to the last second. Precisely at noon [on Jan. 20, 1981] as [Ronald] Reagan began to recite the oath of office, the planeload of Americans [who had been held hostage for 444 days] was permitted to take off.”

Explaining the motivation for this strange timing, Koppel wrote, “The Iranians’ message was blunt and unambiguous: Carter and his administration had been punished for America’s sins against Iran, and Reagan was being offered a conciliatory gesture in anticipation of improved behavior by Washington.”

But Koppel said the new Reagan administration wanted Americans to take away another interpretation of the event. “The new president portrayed the hostage release as a long-overdue act by which the Iranians acknowledged the obvious: There was a new sheriff in town. The feckless days of the Carter administration were over and the Iranian mullahs had bowed to the inevitable.”

Koppel ignored the obvious problems with both versions, such as why would Iran – facing pressing military needs because of Iraq’s invasion in September 1980 – extend the stalemate with the United States for four more months simply to snub Jimmy Carter?

Or why didn’t the growling Reagan either bark or bite after taking office. Instead, as Koppel noted, “once the hostages were released, … no reprisal came, and the Iranian leadership offered no evidence of wanting to reconcile.”

Surely, Koppel must know better. The reality was that very quickly after Reagan took office – not only were there no reprisals against Iran – but U.S. military hardware was flowing to Iran via Israel.

Nicholas Veliotes, Reagan’s assistant secretary of state for the Middle East, learned of the administration’s secret approval of these shipments to Iran after an Israeli plane went down in the Soviet Union in July 1981.

“It was clear to me after my conversations with people on high that indeed we had agreed that the Israelis could transship to Iran some American-origin military equipment,” Veliotes said in an interview with PBS “Frontline” a decade after the events.

In checking out the Israeli flight in 1981, Veliotes came to believe that the Reagan camp’s dealings with Iran dated back to before the 1980 election.

“It seems to have started in earnest in the period probably prior to the election of 1980, as the Israelis had identified who would become the new players in the national security area in the Reagan administration,” Veliotes said. “And I understand some contacts were made at that time.”

Koppel also must be aware that some two dozen witnesses – including senior Iranian officials and a wide range of other international players – have expanded on Veliotes’s discovery, providing details of both how these pre-election contacts occurred and how the post-election shipments morphed into the Iran-Contra arms-for-hostage deals in 1985-86. [For details, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege.]

‘Nightline’ Disclosure

Koppel must know all this because his ABC News program “Nightline” – which evolved from his earlier show “America Held Hostage” – unearthed some of the evidence. For instance, in 1991, “Nightline” interviewed Iranian financier (and CIA operative) Jamshid Hashemi about secret 1980 meetings in Madrid involving Reagan’s campaign director William Casey.

“Nightline” even matched up Hashemi’s description of Casey’s first Madrid meeting with high-ranking Iranians in summer 1980 to an unannounced trip that Casey had made to London in July 1980 for a historical conference. In 1991, Koppel noted that the trip meant that Casey was only a short plane flight away from Madrid.

But that broadcast by “Nightline” had momentous consequences. It escalated concerns among vulnerable power centers about the threat posed by the investigation into the mystery popularly known as the October Surprise.

Earlier in 1991, a show that I helped produce for PBS “Frontline” had revealed new evidence to support long-held suspicions that the Reagan campaign had gone behind Carter’s back. And, former National Security Council aide Gary Sick published a New York Times op-ed stating that he had come to believe that a secret Reagan-Iran agreement had been struck.

By fall 1991, Congress was considering investigations to see if the Iran-Contra (or Iran-gate) scandal may have had its origins in a treacherous deal in 1980.

The stakes were high not just for Republicans (because then-President George H.W. Bush was implicated in the affair) but for Israel, which allegedly played a key middleman role in handling the arms transactions and had been motivated by Likud Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s fear that a second term for Carter might have meant intense pressure for a Palestinian state.

The Israelis and their American neoconservative allies also were unnerved by the emergence of former Israeli intelligence officer Ari Ben-Menashe, who had followed his acquittal from a year-long legal battle in the United States by opening up to American journalists (including me) and expressing a willingness to talk to Congress.

Besides his knowledge of the October Surprise deal, Ben-Menashe was revealing secrets about other covert Israeli programs, including giving details about Israel’s nuclear program to investigative journalist Seymour Hersh for his book, The Samson Option. Silencing and discrediting Ben-Menashe became a high priority for the Israeli government and American neocons.

A Frightened Establishment

The October Surprise scandal also threatened key figures of the American Establishment, since the evidence pointed to involvement by banker David Rockefeller, who straddles the worlds of high finance and public policy through his Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

Rockefeller’s Chase Manhattan had been the Shah of Iran’s bank and faced possible bankruptcy if the revolutionary Iranian government yanked the ousted Shah’s fortune from the bank’s vaults in 1980. The freeze on Iran’s money, which resulted from the hostage crisis, proved fortuitous for Chase.

Another suspect in the mystery was Rockefeller’s most famous protégé, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who had built his own influential network of political/media connections including Katharine Graham, the publisher of the Washington Post/Newsweek Company, and even Koppel at ABC News.

Kissinger had been named as an operative in the October Surprise case in 1980 much as he was linked to a similar sabotage of a sitting Democratic president when Kissinger allegedly collaborated with Richard Nixon in derailing President Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam peace talks in 1968. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “How Two Elections Changed America.”]

So, in 1991, an intimidating phalanx of powerful individuals was arrayed against the October Surprise investigation, a troublesome matter that had to be dispensed with. The task of “debunking” the growing body of evidence about a Reagan-Iranian deal (with Israeli support) fell to the neoconservative New Republic and the Establishment-oriented Newsweek.

The New Republic commissioned an article by Steven Emerson, known even then for his close ties to Likud and Israeli intelligence, while the Newsweek article was personally overseen by executive editor Maynard Parker, himself a CFR member and a Kissinger ally.

The two articles came out on the same weekend in November 1991 and touted matching alibis that supposedly debunked the October Surprise allegations – by proving that Jamshid Hashemi was lying about a Madrid meeting between Casey and senior Iranians in July 1980.

The two magazines reported that Casey couldn’t have attended the meeting in Madrid, as Hashemi described, because Casey was at the London historical conference on one key morning (July 28, 1980) when Hashemi’s account would have placed him in Madrid. In other words, the New Republic and Newsweek were saying that Ted Koppel had been played.

Typical of such moments, there was a great deal of career tumult at “Nightline,” with some neocon-oriented producers swaggering around with an I-told-you-so smirk and one of Koppel’s producers on the Hashemi interview out of a job and unwilling to talk about the ordeal.

The two magazine articles and their over-the-top ridicule of the October Surprise mystery had a powerful effect, too, on Congress, where the Senate backed away from a full-scale investigation and the House acted as if it would only go through the motions.

Collapsing Alibi

Little of this political/media dynamic changed even when it was demonstrated that the New Republic/Newsweek alibi for Casey was false, based on sloppy reporting and a rush to a preordained judgment.

In follow-up work at “Frontline,” we discovered that the New Republic and Newsweek had misread the evidence of attendance reports for the London conference and had failed to do the interviews with participants that would have shown their “reporting” was completely wrong.

Our key follow-up interview was with historian Robert Dallek, who had given the presentation on the morning of July 28, 1980. Dallek told us that he had looked around the conference room for Casey but that Casey was not there.

The real evidence showed that Casey did not arrive at the conference until the afternoon, thus opening up the time “window” for the morning meeting in Madrid as described by Hashemi.

In other words, the New Republic and Newsweek alibi was bogus, a point that even the House investigation was forced to admit as it scrambled to concoct a different (and equally false) alibi to fill the hole. [See Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege or Consortiumnews.com’s The Bushes & the Death of Reason.]

Later, I was told by investigative reporter Craig Unger, who had been hired by Newsweek to work on the October Surprise story, that he had been shocked by the magazine’s disingenuous assessment of Casey time “window.

“They knew the window was not real,” Unger said of his Newsweek editors. “It was the most dishonest thing that I’ve been through in my life in journalism.”

We also know a lot more today about the “journalism” of the New Republic, which was owned then (and still is) by neocon Martin Peretz, a staunch advocate for the interests of Israel. Plus, in 1991, Emerson was still regarded by many in Washington as a serious journalist although he has since exposed himself as a right-wing baiter of Muslims.

Recently, Emerson has boasted about his role in helping to structure Rep. Peter King’s planned hearings into alleged Muslim radicalism in the United States. In one of the more bizarre developments in that extraordinary targeting of an American religious group, Emerson lashed out at King for not including him on the witness list and vowed to withhold further assistance.

"I was even going to bring in a special guest today and a VERY informed and connected source, who could have been very useful, possibly even critical to your hearing, but he too will not attend unless I do," Emerson wrote. “You have caved in to the demands of radical Islamists in removing me as a witness.”

In a particularly weird twist, Emerson somehow envisioned himself as the victim of McCarthyism because he wasn’t being allowed to go before the House Homeland Security Committee and accuse large segments of the American-Muslim community of being un-American. [Politico, Jan. 19, 2011]

It should now be clear that Martin Peretz, Steven Emerson and Maynard Parker (at Newsweek) had ideological and personal agendas in pushing a false alibi to “clear” Casey and the Reagan campaign.

But the strategy still worked. Twenty years ago, the October Surprise case was consigned to the loony bin of conspiracy theories.

It has taken much of the last two decades for a body of evidence to accumulate that should – in a rational world – far outweigh the discredited debunking of this scandal. [See, for instance, Consortiumnews.com’s “October Surprise Cover-up Unravels”; “The Tricky October Surprise Report”; and “The CIA/Likud Sinking of Jimmy Carter.”]

Safe Approach

However, the safe conventional wisdom continues to be the acceptance of the false history that was created in the early 1990s as the easy way for all the various powerful players to avoid painful clashes over accountability and guilt.

That is the manufactured version of events that Ted Koppel repeated in the Washington Post’s “Outlook” section, even drawing conclusions for the future from the false premises.

So, instead of facing up to the evidence that the Iranian mullahs and the Republicans struck a deal in which Reagan and Bush cleared the way for a clandestine Israeli-run pipeline of U.S. weapons for Iran, Koppel concluded that the Iranians simply timed the release of the hostages as a sign of disdain for Carter, while risking U.S. military retaliation from Reagan.

Koppel acknowledged that the expected reprisals against Iran were not forthcoming from Reagan, but concluded that was just a case of Reagan’s empty threats, what Koppel called “Reagan’s broad-shouldered bravado.”

Perhaps still singed by the ugly attacks from the New Republic and Newsweek in 1991, Koppel has chosen to shy away from a more realistic assessment of this history: that the Republicans promised the Iranians a flow of weapons if they kept the hostages until Reagan was sworn in and then released them for maximum propaganda effect for the incoming administration.

Under that scenario, Reagan and his team would talk tough – about how the Iranians caved rather than face Reagan’s wrath – but the behind-the-scenes reality was that the Republicans would let Israel make shipments of U.S.-manufactured weapons to Iran. That’s the version that matches up best with the known evidence.

All sides got something. Reagan was assured the White House; Israel’s Begin got rid of the despised Carter and got to control a lucrative supply line to Iran for its war with Israel’s bigger enemy, Iraq; and the Iranians got both the weapons they desperately needed and – for Tehran’s inner circle – huge profits from the secret arms sales.

But that reality would require a more rigorous and courageous analysis than the safe and fallacious one embraced by Ted Koppel in the Washington Post on Sunday.

[For more on these topics, see Robert Parry’s Lost History and Secrecy & Privilege, which are now available with Neck Deep, in a three-book set for the discount price of only $29. For details, click here.]

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there.

Did you enjoy the description of Irael's biggest threat then, Iraq, that led it to make arms deals with Iran? Oh yes. Politics? HA! And then there's always this that our dear leaders hope you won't disturb their reverie (and money grubbing) with:

The Wrong Kind of Green

Johann Hari

Editor's Note: As the Washington Post reports today, the major conservation group The Nature Conservancy faces "potential backlash as its supporters learn that the giant oil company and the world's largest environmental organization long ago forged a relationship that has lent BP an Earth-friendly image and helped the Conservancy pursue causes it holds dear."

The Nation's Johann Hari recently investigated financial ties between environmental groups and environmentally unfriendly corporations for the magazine, offering a wider lens on the relationship between BP and the Nature Conservancy. Hari's piece appears below.

Why did America's leading environmental groups jet to Copenhagen and lobby for policies that will lead to the faster death of the rainforests - and runaway global warming? Why are their lobbyists on Capitol Hill dismissing the only real solutions to climate change as "unworkable" and "unrealistic," as though they were just another sooty tentacle of Big Coal?

At first glance, these questions will seem bizarre. Groups like Conservation International are among the most trusted "brands" in America, pledged to protect and defend nature. Yet as we confront the biggest ecological crisis in human history, many of the green organizations meant to be leading the fight are busy shoveling up hard cash from the world's worst polluters - and burying science-based environmentalism in return.

Sometimes the corruption is subtle; sometimes it is blatant. In the middle of a swirl of bogus climate scandals trumped up by deniers, here is the real Climategate, waiting to be exposed.

I have spent the past few years reporting on how global warming is remaking the map of the world. I have stood in half-dead villages on the coast of Bangladesh while families point to a distant place in the rising ocean and say, "Do you see that chimney sticking up? That's where my house was... I had to [abandon it] six months ago."

I have stood on the edges of the Arctic and watched glaciers that have existed for millenniums crash into the sea. I have stood on the borders of dried-out Darfur and heard refugees explain, "The water dried up, and so we started to kill each other for what was left."

While I witnessed these early stages of ecocide, I imagined that American green groups were on these people's side in the corridors of Capitol Hill, trying to stop the Weather of Mass Destruction. But it is now clear that many were on a different path - one that began in the 1980s, with a financial donation.

Environmental groups used to be funded largely by their members and wealthy individual supporters. They had only one goal: to prevent environmental destruction. Their funds were small, but they played a crucial role in saving vast tracts of wilderness and in pushing into law strict rules forbidding air and water pollution. But Jay Hair - president of the National Wildlife Federation from 1981 to 1995 - was dissatisfied. He identified a huge new source of revenue: the worst polluters.

Hair found that the big oil and gas companies were happy to give money to conservation groups. Yes, they were destroying many of the world's pristine places. Yes, by the late 1980s it had become clear that they were dramatically destabilizing the climate - the very basis of life itself. But for Hair, that didn't make them the enemy; he said they sincerely wanted to right their wrongs and pay to preserve the environment. He began to suck millions from them, and in return his organization and others, like The Nature Conservancy (TNC), gave them awards for "environmental stewardship."

Companies like Shell and British Petroleum (BP) were delighted. They saw it as valuable "reputation insurance": every time they were criticized for their massive emissions of warming gases, or for being involved in the killing of dissidents who wanted oil funds to go to the local population, or an oil spill that had caused irreparable damage, they wheeled out their shiny green awards, purchased with "charitable" donations, to ward off the prospect of government regulation. At first, this behavior scandalized the environmental community. Hair was vehemently condemned as a sellout and a charlatan. But slowly, the other groups saw themselves shrink while the corporate-fattened groups swelled - so they, too, started to take the checks.

Christine MacDonald, an idealistic young environmentalist, discovered how deeply this cash had transformed these institutions when she started to work for Conservation International in 2006.

She told me, "About a week or two after I started, I went to the big planning meeting of all the organization's media teams, and they started talking about this supposedly great new project they were running with BP. But I had read in the newspaper the day before that the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] had condemned BP for running the most polluting plant in the whole country . . . . But nobody in that meeting, or anywhere else in the organization, wanted to talk about it. It was a taboo. You weren't supposed to ask if BP was really green. They were 'helping' us, and that was it."

She soon began to see - as she explains in her whistleblowing book Green Inc. - how this behavior has pervaded almost all the mainstream green organizations. They take money, and in turn they offer praise, even when the money comes from the companies causing environmental devastation. To take just one example, when it was revealed that many of IKEA's dining room sets were made from trees ripped from endangered forests, the World Wildlife Fund leapt to the company's defense, saying - wrongly - that IKEA "can never guarantee" this won't happen. Is it a coincidence that WWF is a "marketing partner" with IKEA, and takes cash from the company?

Likewise, the Sierra Club was approached in 2008 by the makers of Clorox bleach, who said that if the Club endorsed their new range of "green" household cleaners, they would give it a percentage of the sales. The Club's Corporate Accountability Committee said the deal created a blatant conflict of interest - but took it anyway. Executive director Carl Pope defended the move in an e-mail to members, in which he claimed that the organization had carried out a serious analysis of the cleaners to see if they were "truly superior." But it hadn't.

The Club's Toxics Committee co-chair, Jessica Frohman, said, "We never approved the product line." Beyond asking a few questions, the committee had done nothing to confirm that the product line was greener than its competitors' or good for the environment in any way.

The green groups defend their behavior by saying they are improving the behavior of the corporations. But as these stories show, the pressure often flows the other way: the addiction to corporate cash has changed the green groups at their core. As MacDonald says, "Not only do the largest conservation groups take money from companies deeply implicated in environmental crimes; they have become something like satellite PR offices for the corporations that support them."

It has taken two decades for this corrupting relationship to become the norm among the big green organizations. Imagine this happening in any other sphere, and it becomes clear how surreal it is. It is as though Amnesty International's human rights reports came sponsored by a coalition of the Burmese junta, Dick Cheney and Robert Mugabe. For environmental groups to take funding from the very people who are destroying the environment is preposterous - yet it is now taken for granted.

This pattern was bad enough when it affected only a lousy household cleaning spray, or a single rare forest. But today, the stakes are unimaginably higher. We are living through a brief window of time in which we can still prevent runaway global warming. We have emitted so many warming gases into the atmosphere that the world's climate scientists say we are close to the climate's "point of no return." Up to 2 degrees Celsius of warming, all sorts of terrible things happen - we lose the islands of the South Pacific, we set in train the loss of much of Florida and Bangladesh, terrible drought ravages central Africa - but if we stop the emissions of warming gases, we at least have a fifty-fifty chance of stabilizing the climate at this higher level. This is already an extraordinary gamble with human safety, and many climate scientists say we need to aim considerably lower: 1.5 degrees or less.

Beyond 2 degrees, the chances of any stabilization at the hotter level begin to vanish, because the earth's natural processes begin to break down. The huge amounts of methane stored in the Arctic permafrost are belched into the atmosphere, causing more warming. The moist rainforests begin to dry out and burn down, releasing all the carbon they store into the air, and causing more warming. These are "tipping points": after them, we can't go back to the climate in which civilization evolved.

So in an age of global warming, the old idea of conservation - that you preserve one rolling patch of land, alone and inviolate - makes no sense. If the biosphere is collapsing all around you, you can't ring-fence one lush stretch of greenery and protect it: it too will die.

You would expect the American conservation organizations to be joining the great activist upsurge demanding we stick to a safe level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere: 350 parts per million (ppm), according to professor and NASA climatologist James Hansen. And - in public, to their members - they often are supportive. On its website the Sierra Club says, "If the level stays higher than 350 ppm for a prolonged period of time (it's already at 390.18 ppm) it will spell disaster for humanity as we know it."

But behind closed doors, it sings from a different song-sheet. Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, in Arizona, which refuses funding from polluters, has seen this from the inside. He told me, "There is a gigantic political schizophrenia here. The Sierra Club will send out e-mails to its membership saying we have to get to 350 parts per million and the science requires it. But in reality they fight against any sort of emission cuts that would get us anywhere near that goal."

I've got to quit or have a stroke (a mini-one anyway) as I can't take much more today on top of last night's excitement (major disappointment). Please read the whole article for these astounding facts to take root in your psyche by clicking here. Suzan _____________________

4 comments:

Tom Harper said...

I didn't see Boner weeping during last night's speech. I kept watching for it; guess I missed it. Every time he clapped his hands (both times) it looked so painful, I wondered if he has excruciating arthritis in both shoulders.

When Dennis Hastert was Speaker, I thought he was the most wooden lifeless person I'd ever seen, but Boner makes Hastert look almost hyperactive.

It was a nice feelgood SOTU speech; I guess that's the most we can expect these days.

Suzan said...

Tom,

I don't think his hands hurt - it was his brain trying to stop his hands.

And sorry you missed the tearing up as I even heard the commentator say "Here he goes" the first time on the station I was viewing it on (maybe CBS?).

But, yes, it wasn't his usual boo-hooing, rather a slim emotional take on his further good luck. After all, Obama had made the decision some time prior to that moment to act as though they were all statesmen that he respected.

And that's saying a lot for Boner and the rest of the jackals.

And a "feel-good" SOTU? Have I been reading you correctly prior to now? You know there is no feel-good about this state of the union. It's all kabuki madness necessary to keep the bombed-out population lulled into lassitude as they begin another round of tax cuts, war, and slashing of programs that will give the poor any relief from the effects of such at all.

But you know this.

Are we really this hard up for solace?

S

buelahman said...

Out of the camp, eh? Glad to have you out here with me (I never joined).

What we have here is the ultimate salesman... groomed for this very day. He has adoring fans/sycophants praising his every word.

But everything he told us leading up to POTUS was a lie. Damn near everything. Everything he says now is a lie or continuation of his original ones.

He is a far better salesman than W, but W had his part to play (with Cheney mastering the strings). They took us over the line... tested the reaction and pushed even further.

The insouciance is stifling.

And now we have O'Man The Great promising the same lying shit they all promise. The exception is that now is so much worse than virtually any time in modern history.

But he is a really good salesman. Keeps the look in his eyes, the smile, the assurance in his voice that so many seeking a Savior find irresistible.

Some of us know people just like him and didn't fall for it.

Glad you have joined me, my dear.

Suzan said...

Insouciance?

Well, all righty then, dear.

Although my word for it would be that smug smirkiness that Dumbya so aptly personified (whether it was a pose or not hardly matters in its full effect).

But you're right, sweetheart. It's that look of either naivete or complete confidence in BS that slays 'em every time (as who can believe either coming from this guy who's been through so much personal angst - cognitive dissonance rules!).

As you may remember, I said the second week after his "selection" by the adoring masses that it was over for me with the Geithner/Summers appointments.

Gates sealed the deal.

So, I guess I'm just one more on board now who just didn't want to give up the ghost until we had a replacement candidate.

Which we don't.

Love ya,

S

Keeps the look in his eyes, the smile, the assurance in his voice that so many seeking a Savior find irresistible.

P.S. Yes, I'm pretty sure they showed him the tape of Dallas.

From a different direction.