UnKochMyCampus: New Grassroots Effort Launches to Fight Koch Influence on Higher Education

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 07 Oct 2014 15:07:00 GMT

Koch Free ZoneStudents across the country have launched a new effort to protest the influence of the petrochemical billionaire Koch brothers on their campuses. As part of their effort to influence the American political system, Charles and David Koch have flooded hundreds of universities with contributions intended to promote their economic agenda. Although the contributions go back for decades, the spigot has been opened wide in recent years; from only seven universities recorded to have Koch contributions in 2005 to over 250 by 2012. According to UnKochMyCampus, the new grassroots effort to oppose Koch influence on higher education, 390 different colleges and universities have received Koch money.

The UnKochMyCampus effort was launched by three young activists: Kalin Jordan, a graduate of Suffolk University, where the Koch-funded Beacon Hill Institute is housed; Lindsey Berger, a Missouri State University graduate and campus organizer, and Connor Gibson, a University of Vermont graduate and Greenpeace researcher. Jordan founded the Koch Free Zone campaign at Suffolk in 2013 to end the Koch influence over the Beacon Hill Institute, one of a nationwide network of right-wing think tanks. The UnKochMyCampus site has a organizer’s guide to help students launch campaigns on their own campuses, including background research on the Koch brothers.

There are now at least four campuses that have active student efforts opposing Koch influence:

All four universities have clear evidence of Koch influence over the educational system; George Mason houses the Mercatus Center, the Koch-powered deregulatory think tank. Florida State is the center of a scandal over a $1.5 million pledge from the Kochs that gave them control over hiring and curricula at the school. In 2001, the Kochs founded the University of Kansas Center for Applied Economics, modeled after the Mercatus Center, with a Koch lobbyist as its head.

There are also online efforts opposing Koch influence at the University of Arizona, Catholic University of America, and California State University at Northridge.

In September 2014, Gibson and Berger published an extended Greenpeace report entitled “Koch on Campus: Polluting Higher Education,” that detailed the $49.5 million known to have flown from Koch foundations to over 250 campuses, based on IRS filings.

This money is in addition to the $185 million David Koch has given directly to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and $20 million to Johns Hopkins University, primarily for cancer research. Although those seem like substantial sums, those amounts are dwarfed by the billions of dollars in cuts in public funding for cancer research that have come as a result of Koch political advocacy.

In addition to the website, UnKoch My Campus has a Twitter account.

Rally for a Koch-free WGBH

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 01 Oct 2014 19:00:00 GMT

One year ago, more than fifty Bostonians (and Elmo) presented the WGBH board with 50,000 signatures demanding the removal of David Koch as a trustee. One year later, despite an ever-louder chorus of voices demanding Koch’s removal, he remains on the board. So we’ll be returning this year, stronger than ever. We’ll rally outside the WGBH building and present the WGBH board with 400,000 signatures demanding Koch’s removal.

RSVP

3:00pm – 4:00pm ET: Listen to music, speakers, hold signs and engage in fun chants.

4:00 pm: Attend the public portion of the WGBH board meeting with Koch-Free WGBH t-shirts (will be supplied by us, if you don’t have one already).

WGBH’s offices at One Guest Street, Boston (accessible by the 86 and 64 MBTA bus lines)

PBS Pulls Ads From Harper's to Punish Story on Koch's Ties to WGBH

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 26 Sep 2014 19:59:00 GMT

HarpersAccording to the New York Post, the Public Broadcasting Service has suspended advertising in Harper’s Magazine after the journal published a story critical of David Koch’s relationship to public television. The billionaire carbon financier and Tea Party funder is on the board of Boston’s PBS flagship station WGBH, and until a recent New Yorker exposé served on the board of New York City’s WNET. Koch is also on the board overseeing WGBH’s science program Nova.

The Harper’s story, by journalist Eugenia Williamson, detailed the campaign by climate advocacy group Forecast the Facts to get WGBH to drop Koch (including a profile of the protest and petition delivery I led at WGBH’s board meeting last November). Williamson was critical of Koch’s potential influence over the public television station.

The Post reports:
In the past, Harper’s teamed up with PBS to sponsor a kickoff event timed to Ken Burns award-winning World War II documentary.

While there was an ad for the latest Burns saga “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History,” PBS has pulled ads from the November and December issues. The ads were supposed to hype the box set CD editions of the documentary.

“I have to say I am shocked,” John “Rick” MacArthur, the president and publisher of Harper’s, told Post media reporter Keith J. Kelly. “You’d think PBS would be above that kind of tit-for-tat mentality.”

“PBS has lost its moral compass,” wrote Forecast the Facts campaign manager Emily Southard in a press release. “Instead of punishing its critics, PBS should pull itself away from the influence of David Koch and others who work to misinform Americans about climate change.”

PBS earlier released a page of talking points which claimed the Harper’s piece was “filled with many basic errors,” but did not name any.

The political organizations founded and run by the Koch brothers — particularly the Cato Institute and Americans for Prosperity — are committed against public funding for the arts, including public television. Their advocacy over the past thirty years has successfully decimated federal and local support for public television. Through these organizations, Koch supports the miseducation of the public, including children, on the existential threat of climate change. Koch Industries is one of the nation’s largest and most toxic polluters, and Koch works to prevent government efforts to protect the public from that pollution.

WGBH is providing David Koch not only a tax write-off but also social legitimacy, despite his being one of their greatest enemies.

Activists with Forecast the Facts and the Better Future Project will be protesting again in Boston and delivering a 400,000-signature petition at WGBH’s upcoming board meeting on Wednesday, October 1.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) at the People's Climate March: "We Have to Stop CO2 From Hurtling Into the Atmosphere"

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 24 Sep 2014 22:15:00 GMT

Taking part in the largest climate march in history, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that Wall Street bankers will only act on climate change if people organize to make them do so. He also expressed succinctly the climate-policy challenge: “We have to stop CO2 from hurtling into the atmosphere.”

During the PeoplesClimate.tv livestream of the People’s Climate March, Hill Heat’s Brad Johnson caught up with Schumer as he chatted with billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer. The senator said that action from pension funds is needed to get Wall Street to stop financing fossil fuels, because the bankers will not lead.

“The leadership has to come from the people,” Schumer told me. “Pension funds could do a lot.”

Wall Street plays a tremendous role making New York one of the richest cities in the world. It drives the global economy, which is powered on fossil fuels. Even as Mayor DeBlasio is working to decarbonize the city’s energy supply, carbon financier David Koch is the richest man in the city. Meaningful global action on climate change, the type Schumer called for, will require Wall Street to fully divest from financing the fossil-fuel industry. Although pension-fund and other private action is helpful, what is truly needed is legislative action from Congress.

PeoplesClimate.tv is a project of Act.tv, the web video activism site.

Transcript:

SCHUMER: We need to stop CO2 from hurtling into the atmosphere. We need do it, we need to work for climate change both globally and locally. Globally, the whole UN is here. Globally, all the leaders of the the world should get together and maybe begin raising consciousness and doing so. Locally, we have to act on our own. We can’t wait for the leaders of the world. Today Mayor DeBlasio did a very good thing by saying he’s going to greatly increase the efficiency of buildings. That’s important.

Q: A lot of people are saying that leaders need to be the first ones to step up. What are you planning to do?

SCHUMER: I’ve been a leader of these things in Congress for a long time. But anybody in New York who doubted the effects of climate change changed their minds after Sandy.

. . .

BRAD JOHNSON: This is the richest city, perhaps in the world. Wall Street plays a tremendous role. It drives the global economy. Right now the global economy is powered on fossil fuels. How can finance, how can Wall Street change the tide?

SCHUMER: Well, one of the ways there’s leverage on Wall Street are pension funds, from the states, from the unions, and others. And if they say some things, sometimes Wall Street listens.

JOHNSON: Do you think there’s going to be leadership from the world of the banks, the bankers?

SCHUMER: No. The leadership has to come from the people, but as I said, pension funds could do a lot. He [Tom Steyer] knows a lot more about this than me.

New York City Mayor Supports #FloodWallStreet Protest: "This Is About the Survival of the Earth"

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 24 Sep 2014 20:03:00 GMT

de Blasio at the People“I think the First Amendment is a little more important than traffic.”

With those words, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio vigorously defended #FloodWallStreet, the Occupy-style climate civil disobedience action that took place Monday on Wall Street.

De Blasio’s remarks came in a press conference after he addressed the United Nations climate summit on Tuesday.

Asked if he thought “the protests are at all going too far,” de Blasio expressed his disagreement.

No, I can’t say they’re going too far. I think, first of all, the issue is one of tremendous urgency and whenever you have an urgent issue, people utilize civil disobedience. It’s not a new phenomenon. I thought, clearly, we had a situation where it was civil disobedience as it’s supposed to be, meaning it was peaceful, the police handled it beautifully, and those who really wanted to get arrested got arrested. That was their choice. They were given every opportunity to not get arrested, but they chose to. But I think these are the kind of issues that bring out incredibly strong passions and they should – this is about the survival of the earth.

“The right of people to make their voices heard, regardless of their views, is a fundamental American value,” de Blasio continued. “And we’ll protect that value. I think there’s going to be times, in this city – because we’re an international capital – where we’ll see protests that create inconvenience, but again, it’s part of our responsibility as the hosts of the United Nations to handle that appropriately.”

De Blasio was similarly forceful in his support for the People’s Climate March, in which he participated. “This is not the first time you’ve seen a scenario where the people are leading and the leaders have to get out of the way and follow the will of the people,” he said. “I think there’s been a bad stereotype in public debate that the policy-makers have to somehow pull the people along and the people were unwilling to make change. I actually think the people – years ago – recognized what a profound threat the earth faces and are very comfortable that we have to make change and are ready to do what it takes.”

Transcript:

Question: Mr. Mayor, I’m wondering what you think of – you know, yesterday we went into a second day of demonstrations on the street about climate change, about this issue – I’m wondering what you think about the momentum maybe behind this as a motivating issue for voters, for residents of New York City, and maybe around the world?

Mayor: I think there’s tremendous movement at the grassroots. The march Sunday was extraordinary. What we saw – parallel marches around the world – suggests something is really gelling, that we’re reaching a critical-mass moment on this issue in terms of public opinion. And this is not the first time you’ve seen a scenario where the people are leading and the leaders have to get out of the way and follow the will of the people. I think it’s galloping forward now. So this gathering today is crucially important, but I actually think the march set the stage even more powerfully by suggesting that the grassroots are already there. I think there’s been a bad stereotype in public debate that the policy-makers have to somehow pull the people along and the people were unwilling to make change. I actually think the people – years ago – recognized what a profound threat the earth faces and are very comfortable that we have to make change and are ready to do what it takes. So I think those marches are going to prove to be decisive.

Question: What did you think of the tenor of yesterday’s demonstration on climate change? You know, it seems a little bit more anti-establishment, I guess, than the day before.

Mayor: Which piece? Are you talking about Occupy?

Question: Yeah. Yeah.

Mayor: Look, I think Occupy has an approach and, you know, I respect them and their message, but they have a different approach than a lot of other people. What I was particularly pleased with yesterday is I thought the NYPD did a fantastic job allowing the protesters to make their point, but handling the situation with a lot of flexibility and restraint. And it ended up, obviously, with very few arrests and very little conflict. So I think Occupy was consistent with its previous tradition, but the NYPD, consistent with how they have handled Occupy in the past, did a great job of striking the right balance. On topic, last call. Going once – yes –

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: You were too fast. On topic, going once.

Question: Mr. Mayor –

Mayor: Going twice. On topic?

Question: Yeah. Piggy-backing off that, I think, last I checked – 102 arrests yesterday. Do you think these protests are at all going too far or is that just kind of something to be expected, in your mind, with a protest of this magnitude?

Mayor: On topic, last call. Going once – on topic –

Question: Following up on that, so future protests – you know, I mean, they clogged up a lot of traffic. Are you ok with that? And what happens in the future, when protests want to do something –

Mayor: First of all, I think the First Amendment is a little more important than traffic. The right of people to make their voices heard, regardless of their views, is a fundamental American value. And we’ll protect that value. I think there’s going to be times, in this city – because we’re an international capital – where we’ll see protests that create inconvenience, but again, it’s part of our responsibility as the hosts of the United Nations to handle that appropriately. So, no, I think everything was done the right way. Obviously, as New Yorkers, we would like our streets to keep moving along, and we’re going to do everything we can to achieve that. But we have to respect peaceful protests.

Following Google's Lead, Facebook Plans to Cut Ties to ALEC

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 24 Sep 2014 04:36:00 GMT

Bill Weihl
Facebook green czar Bill Weihl discusses his company at a Greenpeace event
A day after Google CEO Eric Schmidt announced his company had dropped the “liars” at the American Legislative Exchange Council, it appears social media juggernaut Facebook is next. The San Francisco Chronicle received an email from an unnamed representative announcing Facebook’s unhappiness with ALEC on “some key issues.”
We re-evaluate our memberships on an annual basis and are in that process now. While we have tried to work within ALEC to bring that organization closer to our view on some key issues, it seems unlikely that we will make sufficient progress so we are not likely to renew our membership in 2015.

The representative seems to have been referring a key incident at ALEC’s annual meeting in Dallas this July. Michael Terrell, Google’s senior policy counsel for energy and sustainability, made a presentation on behalf of then-members Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and eBay promoting clean energy development. The tech companies are major electricity consumers, because of their need for massive data farms, and have worked to power their installations with renewable energy. Chris Taylor, a state lawmaker attending the presentation, wrote that the lobbyists for Peabody Energy, Edison Electric, and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity in attendance were unswayed.

Google and Facebook are both participants in Greenpeace’s Cool IT effort to decarbonize the data farms. When I pressed the companies’ green energy executives at a Greenpeace event in November of last year as the manager of the #DontFundEvil campaign why they had ALEC membership, they were unable to provide an answer.

The experience of the tech giants is a replay of what happened when renewable trade associations were part of the fossil-driven lobby group in 2012. The American Wind Energy Association and Solar Energy Industries Association were outvoted in a series of decisions that led to ALEC pushing anti-renewable legislation. Chastened by the result, AWEA and SEIA left ALEC when their one-year membership came up for renewal.

It seems that none of these companies bothered to look who is on ALEC’s corporate board — lobbyists for fossil-fuel companies Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil, Peabody Energy, and Future Energy Holdings. One would think they could have Googled it.

Kochs Respond: President Obama's 'Radical International Energy Agenda' Is 'Harmful,' 'Destructive', 'Needless'

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 23 Sep 2014 20:20:00 GMT

Koch at the Met
David Koch at the Met’s Koch Plaza
The political arm of the Koch brothers’ petrochemical empire excoriated President Barack Obama’s address at the UN climate summit today, challenging the science of climate change and the economics of climate policy as “radical,” “ideological,” “destructive,” and “needless.” David Koch, one of the two brothers who run Koch Industries, is the richest man in New York City, with his home and offices a few blocks from the United Nations headquarters.

In an email to supporters, Tim Phillips, the president of the Koch political advocacy organization Americans for Prosperity, decried the president’s “radical international energy agenda for “what used to be called global warming, then climate change, then extreme weather, and now finally climate disruption.” (The idea that the left changes the name of global warming as a propagandistic fiction is a conservative meme.) Phillips then blamed the Republican filibuster of climate legislation on Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.):
The worst part is, President Obama knows that his energy agenda is harmful and will not help our country get back on the path to prosperity. In fact the President’s proposal is so unpopular and destructive, even Harry Reid’s Senate wouldn’t dream of passing it, which is why he has bypassed Congress and taken his short-sighted, destructive energy policies to an international body.

In an accompanying video entitled “Obama’s UN Speech Promises to Kill Jobs and Raise Energy Prices,” Phillips rejects the science of man-made climate change, and falsely claims that reductions in carbon pollution would be economically harmful and environmentally meaningless.

“If all the numbers, facts, and figures that the left claims are true, their own numbers say this will make really no difference in saving the planet. We think they’re wrong on the merits, but even if you accept their numbers, this will be nothing but a lose-lose situation for the American public.”

The email links to a letter campaign in opposition to “the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed regulations calling for a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030,” calling on U.S. Senators to “stop the EPA from forcing more burdensome regulations on our families.”

Text of supporter email:

Subject: Our response to Pres. Obama:
From: Tim Phillips

The President really wants you to believe that his environmental agenda will help the country’s, and the world’s, most vulnerable. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Today President Obama delivered a speech at the United Nations in New York City to promote his ideologically-driven, destructive energy agenda to combat what used to be called global warming, then climate change, then extreme weather, and now finally climate disruption. The President insists that an international climate agreement is in the best interests of the American people. He claims that the United States must act on climate change now to protect future generations and the future of our country from changes in the weather.

What President Obama DIDN’T you (sic) during his speech is the truth about his radical international energy agenda—that it will severely damage the US economy, and that America’s poorest and most vulnerable will end up paying the price. More needless regulations on the energy industry mean costlier electric bills and a higher overall cost of living for everyone.

If President Obama is truly committed to helping those in need, he should seriously rethink his energy agenda. Affordable energy is essential to human well-being and prosperity not just in the United States, but around the world. But if President Obama has his way, the cost of electricity will only continue to rise.

With every policy decision, it becomes more and more clear that President Obama is only concerned with his own legacy—not about the quality of life of the American people and future generations.

The worst part is, President Obama knows that his energy agenda is harmful and will not help our country get back on the path to prosperity. In fact the President’s proposal is so unpopular and destructive, even Harry Reid’s Senate wouldn’t dream of passing it, which is why he has bypassed Congress and taken his short-sighted, destructive energy policies to an international body.

Text of suggested email to senators:
Subject: Please oppose the EPA’s new proposed regulations

Dear Senator,

I urge you to oppose the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed regulations calling for a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.

If these regulations pass, hardworking Americans and their families will end up paying the price. The Chamber of Commerce estimates that the proposed regulations will increase electricity costs by $289 billion and lower families’ disposable incomes by $586 billion through 2030, based its assumptions on a similar proposal by the Natural Resources Defense Council. Household budgets are already stretched thin – now is not the time to raise energy bills on American energy consumers.

A new report from the US Chamber of Commerce found that the proposed regulations will cost billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs, based on its assumptions on a similar proposal by the Natural Resources Defense Council. The report found that carbon regulations will lower US gross domestic product by $1 billion and lead to a loss of 224,000 US jobs on average every year through 2030.

Please stand with American taxpayers and stop the EPA from forcing more burdensome regulations on our families. Thank you.

People's Climate Justice Summit

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 23 Sep 2014 13:00:00 GMT

The Climate Justice Alliance, together with our friends and allies, is hosting the People’s Climate Justice Summit, featuring the voices, strategies, and solutions of climate-affected communities around the world.

On September 23, political and corporate leaders will meet at the United Nations in New York City for Climate Summit 2014. This summit represents yet another step towards the corporate takeover of the UN climate negotiations and the privatization of land, water, and air resources under the guise of a global climate compact. The climate crisis is a symptom of a deeper problem: an economy based on extraction and exploitation of resources and people. This economy benefits a few at the expense of communities and the planet.

While heads of state meet at the UN, communities across the country are united for a just transition away from an economy based on fossil fuel extraction and other dirty industries, and towards clean community energy, zero waste, public transit, local food systems and housing for all.

Schedule:

Church Center for the United Nations, 777 1st Ave at E. 44th St

10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

PEOPLES TRIBUNAL
  • Dr. Robert Bullard, Dean of the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University
  • Lisa Garcia, Friends of the Earth
  • Jeremy Brecher, Labor Network for Sustainability
  • Rex Varona, Global Coalition on Migration
  • Rosa Guillen, World March of Women
  • Julia Olson, Our Children’s Trust

Hear hard-hitting testimonies from affected peoples around the globe as we indict political leaders and corporate polluters for their failure to protect our health, communities and planet. We will hear from those living with the real and immediate impacts of climate change and people living on the frontlines of extractive industries that are contributing to climate change.

Opening
  • Julia Beatty, Center for Social Inclusion

10:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Climate Change: Place-based Experiences, Impacts/Adaptation/Migration

  • Laquan Thomas/Andres Felipe Hernandez, Ironbound Community Corporation (United States)
  • Cynthia Moices, UPROSE (United States)
  • Beryl Thurman, North Shore Waterfront Conservancy – Staten Island (United States)
  • Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Earth Guardians (United States)
  • Mamadou Goita, Institute for Research and the Promotion of Alternatives in Development, (Mali)
  • Antolin Huáscar Flores, Confederación Nacional Agraria (Peru)
  • Representative, Black Urban Growers (United States)

1:00 PM – 2:30 PM

Corporate Root Causes to Climate Change

  • Patricia Gualinga Montalvo, Kichwa leader, Sarayaku, Ecuadorian Amazon (Ecuador)
  • Jihan Gearon, Black Mesa Water Coalition (United States)
  • Kelsey Julian, Our Children’s Trust (United States)
  • Katherine Eglund, NAACP Gulf Port Chapter (United States)
  • Venancia Cruz Jimenez, Movimiento Indígena Santiago de Anaya (México)
  • Alex Cardoso, Movement of Recyclers/Catadores – MNCR (Brazil)

3:00 PM – 5:00 PM

The People Face the Tribunal- Statements and Decision by Judges
  • Damaris Reyes, Good Old Lower East Side (United States)
  • Miriam Miranda, Organizacion Fraternal Negra Hondurena – OFRANEH (Honduras)
  • Stanley Sturgill, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (United States)
  • Melina Laboucan-Massimo, Cree, Greenpeace (Canada)
  • Mithika Mwende, Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance, Kenya (Nigeria)

New School, Alvin Johnson / J.M. Kaplan Hall Auditorium, 66 West 12th St

9:00 AM – 11:30 AM

TOWARDS LIVING ECONOMIES 1: SYSTEMS ALTERNATIVES

Speakers:
  • Casey Camp, Ponca Tribe (United States)
  • Michael Leon Guerrero, Climate Justice Alliance Our Power Campaign (United States)
  • Lidy Nacpil, Jubilee South Asia Pacific on Debt and Development (Philippines)
  • Sandra Van Niekerk, Public Services International (South Africa)

Moderator:

Juliet Rousseau, Bizi, Alternatibas Process (France).

In the face of climate change, communities everywhere are experimenting with new and time-tested approaches to energy, waste, transit, and the provision of peoples’ needs that protect people and the planet. But to counter the systemic causes of the climate crisis and meet the scale of the problem, movement forces are also developing bold proposals for systemic alternatives. Join us for an exploration of new economic, organizing and worker-centered models that could help us all weather the storm as we build the next economy together.

12:30 PM – 2:30 PM

TOWARDS LIVING ECONOMIES 2: JUST TRANSITION STRATEGIES

Speakers:
  • Al Weinrub, Local Clean Energy Alliance (United States)
  • Monica Wilson, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (United States)
  • Juan Camilo Osorio, New York City Environmental Justice Alliance (United States),
  • Beth Grimsberg (Brazil)
  • Rosa Miranda, Bus Riders Union (United States)

Confronting the climate crisis effectively – and building a climate movement strong enough to do so – will require us to take on the social, economic, and political inequities that have allowed the dirty energy economy to persist. And we must address these issues with a particular lens focused on how these systems have led to communities of color and low-income communities bearing the brunt of climate impacts. While we fight against the old energy economy rooted in inequity, we must continue to build a better and stronger vision that can both can work for all of us and is led by communities most marginalized and impacted by climate change. This requires a just transition from the old to the new. A transition into a new economy rooted in the foundation of racial and social justice, invested in people and the planet, and on that is regenerative and life giving. To do so, we must begin to think intersectionally and build cross-sectoral alliances for making change.

From transit to energy, in this panel and conversation, participants will learn from people who are envisioning a just transition and building towards a more sustainable and just future.

Google Drops American Legislative Exchange Council Over Climate Denial: 'They're Literally Lying'

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 23 Sep 2014 06:24:00 GMT

On Monday, Google chairman Eric Schmidt announced that his company has ended its support for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) because of its persistent climate-change denial. The decision came after a Schmidt made the announcement in response to a listener question on the Diane Rehm radio show.

“I think the consensus within the company was that that was some sort of mistake,” Schmidt said of Google’s support for ALEC, “and so we’re trying to not do that in the future.”

Pressed to explain further, Schmidt harshly described the conservative lobbying organization’s opposition to climate action as “really hurting our children” and “making the world a much worse place” by “literally lying.”

Well, the company has a very strong view that we should make decisions in politics based on facts — what a shock. And the facts of climate change are not in question anymore. Everyone understands climate change is occurring and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. And so we should not be aligned with such people — they’re just, they’re just literally lying.
Listen here:

ALEC president Lisa B. Nelson issued an angry press release following Schmidt’s announcement, blaming the decision on “public pressure from left-leaning individuals and organizations who intentionally confuse free market policy perspectives for climate change denial.”

Disclosure: As the campaign manager for Forecast the Facts, I founded the “Don’t Fund Evil” campaign in June 2013 challenging Google to stop funding climate-denial groups such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute and ALEC, and climate-denial politicians such as Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

For over a year, Google representatives stonewalled over the company’s conflicting stand on climate change and its political support for climate deniers. Google’s clean-energy lead Gray Demasi had no answer for why his company supported ALEC, when I asked him at a November 2013 Greenpeace green tech event.

Now, Schmidt’s words echo an opinion piece I wrote in December 2013 on the eve of ALEC’s annual DC conference, which featured a keynote by Cruz:
Unlike ALEC and Cruz, Google employees support scientific facts. Unlike ALEC and Cruz, Google employees are investing in a future powered by 100 percent renewable energy.

The “Don’t Fund Evil” call to drop ALEC was joined in December 2013 by the Sierra Club, SumOfUs, RootsAction and the Center for Media and Democracy. The coalition of climate, corporate, and good-government organizations mobilized over 230,000 citizens to petition the search giant. In addition, Google was the target of a shareholder resolution brought by Walden Asset Management challenging Google’s support for the anti-climate group.

Added pressure came in August when Google competitor Microsoft left ALEC. At the beginning of September, over 50 organizations, including several labor unions, environmental organizations, racial justice groups, and other progressive organizations signed on to a public letter asking Google to follow suit.

Google’s decision to drop ALEC is an important first step in restoring the integrity of its ‘don’t be evil’ motto. Unfortunately, the company is still financing extremist groups like the ‘CO2 Is Life’ Competitive Enterprise Institute and dozens of denier politicians. If Eric Schmidt wants to be taken seriously, he has to do a lot more cleaning up. It’s time for Susan Molinari, who pushed Google into this situation, to go.

Forecast the Facts and SumOfUs have since expanded the Don’t Fund Evil campaign into the Disrupt Denial campaign, which calls on all corporations to stop financing climate-denial politicians.

Transcript of the Diane Rehm Show:

Diane Rehm: Ok, and I think we have time for one last caller. Let’s go to Kristin in Syracuse, NY. Quick question, Kristin.

Kristin: Hi, yes, thank you so much for taking my call, Diane.

D: Sure.

K: Um, I’m curious to know if Google is still supporting ALEC which is that fund, they’re, um, lobbyists in DC that are funding climate change deniers.

Eric Schmidt: Um, we funded them as part of a political campaign of something unrelated. I think the consensus within the company was that that was some sort of mistake and so we’re trying to not do that in the future.

D: And how did you get involved with them in the first place and were you, then, disappointed in what you saw?

E: Well, the company has a very strong view that we should make decisions in politics based on facts — what a shock. And the facts of climate change are not in question anymore. Everyone understands climate change is occurring and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. And so we should not be aligned with such people — they’re just, they’re just literally lying.

Transcript of ALEC press release:
“It is unfortunate to learn Google has ended its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council as a result of public pressure from left-leaning individuals and organizations who intentionally confuse free market policy perspectives for climate change denial.

“At our recent Annual Meeting in Dallas, we were pleased to host a roundtable conversation between a variety of companies—including Google—regarding renewable energy deployment and climate change. The conversations held in Dallas were intended to build understanding and pioneer future policy approaches where organizations could find common ground on issues of climate change, energy generation and government mandates. And, I personally intend to continue this work.

“In the case of energy generation, ALEC believes renewable energy should expand based on consumer demand, not as a result of a government mandate. Many misunderstand the American Legislative Exchange Council and its legislator-led, free market priorities. ALEC members believe the Federal Government exerts too much control on state and local decision-making. Google’s renewable energy commitment—as well as those found throughout private industry—is completely consistent with ALEC policy because the companies in question chose renewables absent a mandate.

“ALEC believes in freedom of speech and opinion. Google is an important voice on these and many other issues, and we will miss their perspective in our discussions. However, ALEC and its members will continue to advance limited government, free markets and federalism through dialogue, debate and model policy formulation.”

#FloodWallStreet

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 22 Sep 2014 13:00:00 GMT

#FloodWallStreet

Wear Blue.

As world leaders meet in New York for a historic summit on climate change, communities across the globe will flood financial centers to confront the corporate and economic systems that are causing the climate crisis.

Join a united global movement to attack the root causes of the climate crisis and build an economy based on justice and sustainability. We need climate justice. Take action in solidarity with communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis for a day of:

Massive Coordinated Direct Actions Against Climate Profiteers.

9:00am – Gather at Battery Park for Breakfast and Music from Rude Mechanical Orchestra

9:30am – Speakers including frontline community leaders of the Climate Justice Alliance, Naomi Klein, Rebecca Solnit, and Chris Hedges

11:00am – Non-violent Direct Action Training and March

12:00pm – Flood Wall Street and Mass Sit-in at the New York Stock Exchange

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