Saturday, November 13, 2004
The Mexican government is lauded in this piece for making their biggest conservation purchase ever; but the roster of the Nature Conservancy Board of Governors (see pdf link here) -- which put up more than half the purchase price -- makes you wonder if anti-Fed/anti-"environmental mafia" hypercapitalist property rights wonks aren't onto something despite the sometimes self-serving motives of landowners and the superheated and often delusional rhetoric of their screeds
People like the vice-chairman of NASDAQ, the vice-president of Con Agra and the CEO of Georgia-Pacific Paper just might have something else in mind than protecting the environment.
The Nature Conservancy receives its seed money to buy land from many of our country's largest corporations. By giving TNC grant money and outright gifts those companies hope to cloak themselves in a green veil. It quickly became apparent to TNC's President McCormick that begging for dollars the old fashioned way, with phone solicitors and junk mail, was not the most cost efficient way of doing business. So, McCormick went after corporations. "It's just a greater return," he says. Audio of NPR report on the Tallgrass Prairie preserve linked on this page.
This author obtained records from 1994 through 1999 to see what companies, groups or foundations gave money to TNC. The biggest contributor by far was the David & Lucile Packard Foundation who gave TNC grants on 34 occasions totaling over $45 million between 1996 and 1999. The John and Catherine MacArthur Foundation gave money 18 times. General Motors donated nearly five million dollars and more than 100 trucks. Canon U.S.A. contributed $10.3 million in cash and equipment.
Some readers were appalled to read in this publication a few months back that The Nature Conservancy was involved in developing up-scale homes for sale on the coast of Virginia. TNC is also involved in oil production and receives oil royalties. In fact, TNC has gone to the well quite often. From 1994 through 1999 the following oil companies contributed land, mineral rights or money to TNC: Amoco Foundation four times, Texaco Foundation five times, Arco Foundation five times, Mobil Foundation four times, Phillips Petroleum Foundation 10 times, Chevron Foundation 13 times, Unocal Foundation and Exxon Mobil one time each.
The Georgia-Pacific Foundation and Weyerhaeuser Company Foundation, both businesses built on what environmentalists prefer to call "resource extraction," were also major donors.
More recent donations to TNC include those of the Doris Duke Foundation, Wolf Creek Charitable Foundation and the Morgridge Family Foundation who all gave between $10-20 million to TNC's Campaign for Conservation. Five to ten million dollar donors for the same campaign included the Paul G. Allen Forest Protection Foundation, the Mary Flagler Chary Charitable Trust, Central & South West Corporation and the George S. & Delores Dore Eccles Foundation. Charities and corporations donating $1 million or more include the Ahmanson Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Georgia Pacific Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Victoria Foundation and the William Penn Foundation.
The Nature Conservancy's business model of extracting large sums of cash from companies and then using the money to buy up conservation easements, is brilliant and quite effective. But doesn't it seem ironic that this nation's businesses, the product of free enterprise and private property rights, are financing the potential lock-up of vast areas of this country? Is this what our founding fathers had in mind?
Land owners and ranchers who might be considering donating development rights or a conservation easement on their land to the TNC, believing it will be protected forever, might want to consider The Nature Conservancy's seemingly unquenchable thirst for land, money and power. Who's to say what the TNC will do with your land in 10, 50 or even or even 100 years from now if they need the cash? [link]
See this is one of the reasons I let go of my political blog, charging the canvas: trying to get to the bottom of things was becoming like grabbing ice cubes out of a furnace. The places you have to go, the rhetoric you need to cut through, the whole Alice on a Sleigh Ride to Hell got to be too exhausting.
Still can't resist sometimes though...
1:58 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
Surreal park in Ljubljana, Slovenia [via Zippy, thanks to David Kurtz for the image]
1:03 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
Movie gangsters try last ditch effort to put over disposable DVDs with indy Noel release
1:02 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
Friday, November 12, 2004
Can you say "paper trail"?
Peter Coyote's letter on what you have to believe to think Bush won the election legally [xymphora]
Or media censorship?
9:13 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
Thursday, November 11, 2004
The darkness takes her
Historian and author of The Rape of Nanking Iris Chang has apparently killed herself
I always knew it was a fine book and meant to read it, but if you know anything about the atrocities committed by the Japanese army in 1937 China, you know how depressing a read it would be. Things are intense enough these days. But Chang's book was a landmark about events little known outside China, and an impassioned plea for reparations.
I guess she passed one too many windows.
R.I.P. Ms Chang.
8:30 PM - [Link] - Comments ()
Sunday, November 07, 2004
The CyberTimes Navigator from the New York Times
A decent reference guide.
2:12 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
American Way of Death file
For as little as $1500 you can have your or your loved ones' cremains interred in an underwater column, part of an elaborate, baroque city beneath the waves
The project is aimed squarely at America's Baby Boomers, a 76 million-strong group who, in the delicate language of the funeral industry, "have finally come of age for death-care purposes". Somewhere, Jessica Mitford is rolling on the floor laughing.
Mr Levine was inspired by a report that between six and seven million cremation urns sit on American mantelpieces, in cupboards, or in attics and garages.
He believed that relatives would welcome a more creative final resting place.
AfterLife Services, will also encourage relatives to don scuba gear and pay their respects at the watery graves.
Mr Levine hopes that maintenance costs will be low. The concrete used will be twice normal strength to withstand the most violent seas. In any case, some of the columns will be deliberately snapped off at the base to suggest a city in glorious ruin.
The small print, however, warns clients that they will have no redress if the columns are toppled by "acts of God or man".
12:32 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
A belated R.I.P. John Mack
If the name doesn't ring a bell, he was a Pulitzer prize-winning biographer and professor of psychiatry at Harvard who was pilloried for writing about alien abductions.
Chances are, his "intellectually questionable" interest in the spiritual experience and the nature of reality will be what he's remembered for by future generations.
Asked what his message would be if he could broadcast to the world, he replied, "I would be humbled", but offered the following prescription: "Wake up, find your way, whether it is with prayer or psychedelics or abductions or shamanic journeys or talking with gurus or seeing movies like The Matrix and The Truman Show, whatever it is, find your way to break out of the program, the commercial materialist program."
12:09 AM - [Link] - Comments ()