McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part VII of an Investigative Report] [The Wolves of Wall Street]

December 18, 2014

Part seven of an investigative series

Divestment Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]:  Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VIIPart VIIIPart IXPart XPart XIPart XIIPart XIII • Part XIV Part XV



 Image courtesy of Mark Gould

“Of all our studies, it is history that is best qualified to reward our research.” — Malcolm X

Prologue: A Coup d’État of Nature – Led by the Non-Profit Industrial Complex


t is somewhat ironic that anti-REDD climate activists, organizations (legitimate grassroots organizations do exist) and self-proclaimed environmentalists, who consider themselves progressive, while speaking out against the commodification of nature’s natural resources also simultaneously promote the divestment campaign. It’s ironic because the divestment campaign will result (succeed) in a colossal injection of money shifting over to the very portfolios heavily invested in, thus dependent upon, the intense commodification and privatization of Earth’s last remaining forests (via REDD), water, etc. (environmental “markets“). This tour de force will be executed with cunning precision under the guise of environmental stewardship and “internalising negative externalities through appropriate pricing.” Thus, ironically (if in appearances only), the greatest surge in the ultimate corporate capture of Earth’s final remaining resources is being led, and will be accomplished, by the very environmentalists and environmental groups that claim to oppose such corporate domination and capture.

Beyond shelling out billions of (tax-exempt) dollars (i.e., investments) to those most accommodating in the non-profit industrial complex (via foundations), the corporations need not lift a finger; the feat is being carried out by both the legitimate and the faux environmentalists in tandem with an unsuspecting public. … a public with almost no comprehension of 1. the magnitude of our ecological crisis 2. the root causes of the planetary crisis, or 3. the non-profit industrial complex as an instrument of hegemony.

The commodification of the commons will represent the greatest, and most cunning, coup d’état in the history of corporate dominance – a fait accompli extraordinaire of unparalleled scale, with unparalleled repercussions for humanity and all life.

Further, it matters little whether or not the money is moved from direct investments in fossil fuel corporations to so-called “socially responsible investments.” The fact of the matter is, all corporations on the planet (thus all investments on the planet) do and will continue to require massive amounts of energies (including fossil fuels) to continue to grow and expand ad infinitum – as required by the industrialized capitalist economic system.

The windmills and solar panels serve as the beautiful (marketing) imagery, yet they are somewhat illusory – the veneer for the commodification of the commons, which is the fundamental objective of Wall Street, the very advisers of the divestment campaign.

Thus we find ourselves unwilling to acknowledge the necessity to dismantle the industrialized capitalist economic system, choosing instead to embrace an illusion designed by corporate power.


Monetizing Natural Capital | Ecosystem Services


ou may recognize Mindy Lubber’s name (President of 350.org partner, Ceres) from the Think Progress blog (excellent climate science source, funded in large part by Rockefeller) where she is referred to as “an expert on water scarcity” among the liberal left. Therefore, it should be of little surprise to anyone that a key focus of Ceres appears to be meticulously and cautiously preparing the ground for mass privatization (what Ceres refers to as “monetizing natural capital” or “ecosystem services”) of water in the United States (and beyond). [Restoring Flows, Financing the Next Generation of Water Systems, A Strategy for Coalition Building. Authors: Ceres and American Rovers, DOCUMENT]

“Unlike market development in Europe and Australia, the private sector has had a relatively small role in providing water infrastructure services in the United States. While some communities have entered into a variety of arrangements to ‘privatize’ their water services, there is a wide range of potential roles that private entities may play in the water market that fall short of being an outright full-service provider.” [Emphasis added]


Under “Needs and Opportunities” within the report: “Develop alternate model business plans for providers, including public, private and public:private partnerships.”

Preparing a populace – one that strongly opposes water privatization – for water privatization requires calculated language and schemes to keep the public at bay. Schemes that “fall short of being an outright full-service provider,” if outright privatization in its most pure form is not an option, are an imperative for “success.”

As president of Ceres, Lubber is well compensated for the task at hand with an annual salary from the Ceres non-profit of $193,025, with an additional $32,190 in “other compensation for the organization and other related organizations.” [Source: Form 990, 2012].

With Ceres receiving 60% of its revenues from foundation grants in the 2012 fiscal year ($5,233,360) with membership fees ($1,843,052) providing 22% of the revenues [2012 annual report] (conference fees, sponsorship, and individual family and “foundation family” account for the remainder to the tune of $8,316,636), the Ceres non-profit is in a position to pay flush salaries.


The monetization of Earth’s remaining natural resources (or “natural capital,” the carefully applied term that acts as a patina masking the true intent) sounds as though it is far too vile of an idea to ever be accepted by society. Yet, the elite establishment – with the non-profit industrial complex as their pimps of pathological ideologies – have every intent of seeing the commodification of Earth’s remaining natural resources transform into capital, for complete corporate capture in the not-so-distant future.

Consider the behavioural change experiment that took place on September 21, 2014 (branded as “The People’s Climate March”).


The People’s Climate March in New York City was a mobilization campaign created by Avaaz and 350.org, with 350.org at the forefront. Perhaps never in history have we witnessed 300,000 to 400,000 citizens (whose rights and freedoms are being systematically dismantled every day by a corporate-state that liberal elites continue to prop up) joining hands with their oppressors – literally marching with their oppressors in the streets both knowingly and willingly. This must be considered a benchmark in history by those who study behavioural change – a feat perhaps unmatched since 1929 when Edward Bernays brilliantly transformed cigarettes into “freedom torches” as the symbol of emancipated women for the tobacco industry.

[Video (running time: 2:52). Excerpt from the movie “The War You Don’t See” by John Pilger. Bernays, a pioneer of modern propaganda, persuaded woman to embrace smoking as a symbol of women’s liberation.]


The Road to Riches | Monetization of Earth’s Remaining Natural Resources

The following excerpts are extracted from the article This Changes Nothing. Why the People’s Climate March Guarantees Climate Catastrophe published on Wrong Kind of Green (September 12, 2014). It serves as an introduction to the PR firm Purpose (Inc.) – as a glimpse into a behavioural change/economics think-tank.

Vision: “Purpose is a global initiative that draws on leading technologies, political organizing and behavioral economics to build powerful, tech-savvy movements that can transform culture and influence policy.”


Purpose was born out of some of the most successful experiments in mass digital participation. Our principals are co-founders of Avaaz, the world’s largest online political movement with more than nine million members operating in 14 languages, and the creators of Australia’s GetUp!, an internationally recognized social movement phenomenon with more members than all the country’s political parties combined….” [Source]

Avaaz and GetUp co-founders Jeremy Heimans (CEO) and David Madden are also founders of the New York consulting firm, Purpose Inc. Avaaz co-founder James Slezak is also identified as a co-founder and CEO of Purpose at its inception in 2009.


Image courtesy of Mark Gould

The expertise behind both Avaaz and Purpose is in behavioural change. Where the employment of behavioural change infused by Avaaz is on display, the double-breasted, for-profit Purpose, with its non-profit arm, sells their expertise to further the interest of hegemony and capital. Whether it be a glossy campaign to help facilitate yet another illegal “humanitarian intervention” led by the empire’s U.S. militarism (an oxymoron if there ever was one), or the creation of a new global “green” economy, Purpose is the consulting firm that the wolves of Wall Street and oligarchs alike depend upon to make it happen.

 “We’ve been talking in a broader way about the future of consumer activism, of organizing people not as citizens but as consumers.Jeremy Heimans, when asked how he was going to use the $100,000 he received from the Ford Foundation

Purpose (with its co-founders), a favourite of high-finance websites such as The Economist and Forbes, sell their consulting services and branding/marketing campaigns to Google, Audi, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and many others that comprise the world’s most powerful corporations and institutions. In 2012 it raised $3m from investors. Ford Foundation, which has given Purpose’s non-profit arm a grant, “reckons it is shaping up to be ‘one of the blue-chip social organisations of the future.'” [Source] Purpose, like many other foundations such as Rockefeller (who initially incubated 1Sky, which merged with 350.org in 2011) also serves as an “incubator of social movements.” [Further reading on Purpose]

Make no mistake, the Yale (Avaaz co-founder and former U.S. Representative Tom Perriello) and Harvard graduates that comprise the Avaaz boys (many having been groomed by McKinsey and Company) are considered “the dream team” by the globe’s most powerful capitalists, including at the United Nations and the World Bank.

Heimans, the Avaaz front man of Purpose, is a darling of the high-finance corporate world. “In 2011, Jeremy received the Ford Foundation’s 75th anniversary Visionaries Award. The World Economic Forum at Davos has named him a Young Global Leader, and the World e-Government Forum has named Jeremy and Purpose co-founder David Madden among the “Top 10 People Who Are Changing the World of the Internet and Politics.” [Source]

Heimans, like his co-founders at Avaaz, has close relationships with those at the helm of the push toward the illusory green economy, including Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace and Richard Branson, who has founded the B Team, of which Heimans serves as a “team member.” [Further reading on the B Team can be found in an upcoming segment of this investigative report.] Note that Avaaz and 350.org were the first two NGOs signed on to the 2009 Havas Advertising campaign TckTckTck. TckTckTck succeeded in successfully undermining the radical emissions reductions required, put forward by the State of Bolivia and the G77 at COP15. More recently Avaaz, 350.org and Greenpeace joined hands to form the NGO SumOfUs. [Further reading: SumOfUs are Corporate Whores | Some Of Us Are Not]

Like so many other left “progressives” jumping on board the “socially responsible investment” industry, Heimans is no exception, serving on the advisory board of Leap Frog Investments. [Source] On September 29, 2012 a media release announced “The Vital Few” – a new social media platform for The Asset Owners Disclosure Project, an online forum to link individuals who are concerned about their pension fund investments directed towards the fossil fuel industry. The release included statements from both Kelly Rigg (TckTckTck) and Heimans. Supported by the head of the global trade union movement and other key civil society groups the platform, called ‘The Vital Few’ will allow pension fund members to drive transparency and accountability in a $60 trillion industry that has become the largest pool of investment capital in the world…. The Vital Few initiative, by starting with the issue of climate risk, is a milestone in helping restore genuine ownership to capitalism.”

Purpose Avaaz Syria-Campaign-HIRE

The Strategy of “Changing Everything”

In the video published on November 21, 2012, filmed during a lecture on Purpose’s innovative model of “movement entrepreneurship,” Heimans discloses that the “demand for the green economy is in a rut.” He states:

“…how else could movement building and mass participation help transform society? And that’s what we’re working on at Purpose. We’re thinking at Purpose not just how you build political movements but now what are some of the insights from that, that can be used to do things like scale demand for the green economy? Right? Demand for the green economy is in a rut. There isn’t large-scale demand it. What if we tried to build a movement around that and organize people in a systematic way….”

In this Tedx talk (published September 7, 2012) the goal, and the campaign to achieve the goal, are made clear: kill “green” marketing (including the key term “green economy”) in order to push forward the green economy – without saying as much.

Heimans states:

 “…Well, the results of our research really have two main conclusions I want to share with you today, and the first is a little startling and it may create a little bit of a disequilibrium… and that is that I think we need to kill the language and imagery and green in order to have any real shot at scaling sustainable consumption. Sustainable consumption just isn’t working right now as we’ll talk about in a moment. We’re going to have to kill green as a frame for consumers in order to try to rework that problem.”

Hence – you have the new terminology agreed upon and already being employed by both the foundations and the non-profit-industrial complex: The “new economy.”

Heimans continues:

“So they like the idea of green, it’s kind of a value they are happy to cloak themselves in, you know it’s a brand value, but the reality is market share just isn’t there because as soon as it’s even slightly difficult they’re out the door. So what do we do? So here’s some things that I think we can do that might up-end this situation and as I said, it does require starting with killing green as a friend. We can’t lead with green, because most of the green products that are out there start by knocking on the front door and hitting you on the head and saying, you know, ‘We’re green, do the right thing.’ We need a radically different approach to the way we introduce this issue to consumers. We need to put green aside.”

Heimans summarizes the methodology.

“… the answer we think is to get behind the businesses that are at this intersection of mass participation where you can get lots of people in a network, you can grow market share very quickly of the new forms of businesses that are green, but don’t knock on the door and announce themselves as green. If we can do this, if we can create a new economy that takes these models that can very quickly acquire market share and we can give people a sense they’re part of something much bigger, we’ll build the green economy, we just won’t talk about it and we won’t say that we’re doing it.”

As an example of Purpose’s work to build acquiescence and a normalization of the green new economy, we can look at Purpose’s work for Audi. The task at hand is how to take the human right of access to clean water and turn it into a commodity market that a public will embrace: “[Purpose Inc.] helps them to build mass movements to support their favourite causes. Audi, for example, wants to design and promote machines to dispense clean water in India, a market where it hopes to burnish its car brand.” Media is utilized to present the water ATM as an affordable benefit for the disenfranchised, underprivileged and poor: “The perception that rural people won’t pay for quality services is wrong, says Shah. ‘They want to be part of modern society. After a water ATM is set up, 15-20% of the people immediately start buying water. They like to claim “we have a water ATM.”‘” The idea of clean fresh water for all, as a human right rather than an “affordable” commodity, will quickly disappear as fast as the drinking fountains one used to find in our communities not that long ago. (One may wish to note that today, we find corporations writing many of their own articles for media, who in turn present them as journalism. Round and round we go.)

“Purpose also hopes to develop a business promoting ‘new economy’ products such as solar energy. It will recommend to its members that they buy solar power from such-and-such a provider. In return, it will charge a referral fee.” — The Economist, The business of campaigning, Profit with Purpose, January 26, 2013

We can assume this business model will be employed across the board. Purpose tells the story that entices the purchase, Purpose mobilizes the movements building on the foundation of the story, and Purpose receives their referral fee in the mail.

+++Further reading on behavioural change: Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section II [link]

Ignoring the Obvious – The Only Number that Matters Has Always Been Zero

Ceres: “60-90% reduction in GHG emissions from 1990 levels is needed by 2050 to avoid worst case scenarios for global warming” [Source: CERES 2007-2008 Annual Report]


Ceres: “Companies will reduce GHG emissions by 25% from their 2005 baseline by 2020, by improving energy efficiency of operations by at least 50%, reducing electricity demand by at least 15% and obtaining at least 30% of energy from renewable sources.… The Ceres Roadmap expectations are aligned with the scientific targets recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that call for the U.S. to achieve reductions of 80 percent below 1990 baseline levels by 2050. —The Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability current webpage [Source]


Reality: “There must be radical reductions of emissions starting from now. In our view, by 2017 we should cut, developed countries must cut by 52%, 65% by 2020, 80% by 2030, well above 100 [percent] by 2050. And this is very important because the more you defer action the more you condemn millions of people to immeasurable suffering. So the idea that you start from 4% today and you achieve 80 or 50 in 2050 simply means that you do not care about the lives of those who will be devastated in this period, until you pick up the pace.” — Lumumba Di-Aping, chief negotiator of the G77, COP15, Source

On May 9, 2013, concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the global atmosphere exceeded 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in human history, the highest since the Pliocene. (The daily average for May 9, 2013 was 400.03 ppm)

It is slightly ironic that 350.org succeeded so brilliantly in the complete pacification of a global civil society by promoting 350 ppm as a “safe operating limit for humanity.” Thus, the message so skillfully projected/orchestrated in tandem with media, that global citizens were not/are not in any immediate danger, provided the means to further destroy our shared environment in order to allow the very economic structure systemically destroying all life on Earth to continue unabashed. The message that can be summarized as “continue as you were” was (and continues to be) in stark contrast to the message laid out to humanity in 1988.

At the Changing Atmosphere conference in 1988, in Toronto, Canada, scientists, politicians and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) acknowledged the following:

“The stabilizing of the atmospheric concentrations of CO2 is an imperative goal. It is currently estimated to require reductions of more than 50 per cent from present [*1988] emission levels. Energy research and development budgets must be massively directed to energy options which would eliminate or greatly reduce CO2 emissions and to studies undertaken to further refine the target reductions.” [*In 1988 the average CO2 atmospheric concentration was 351.56 ppm.]

They warned that:

“Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment, whose ultimate consequences are second only to global nuclear war.”

Yet the non-profit industrial complex (in which both 350.org and its partner Ceres play leading roles) would have us believe that 25 years (over a quarter of a century) later, with atmospheric carbon emissions having exceeded 400 ppm, with planetary boundaries being surpassed, irreversible feedbacks having been set into motion, disappearing Arctic sea ice, ocean acidification, mass species eradication/extinctions, and hundreds of thousands of climate-related deaths each and every passing year, we can still afford to keep burning fossil fuels under the guise of “clean” energy and so-called carbon “budgets.”

“350 ppm is a death sentence.… The safe level of CO2 for SIDS (Small Island Developing States) is around 260 parts per million.… CO2 buildup must be reversed, not allowed to increase or even be stabilized at 350 ppm, which would amount to a death sentence for coral reefs, small island developing states, and billions of people living along low lying coastlines.” — Scientific & Technical Briefing to the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS), United Nations Climate Change Conference Copenhagen, Denmark, December 7-18, 2009 [1]

The NPIC Stop the KXL (Keystone XL pipeline extension) campaign qualifies as a brilliant and strategic, albeit suicidal, Trojan horse. Simultaneously, the campaign led by 350.org paved the way for our collective denialism to be embraced and embellished. For the past five years this multi-million-dollar campaign was relentless in the quest to ensure it was perceived as the key most important struggle in our climate struggle. Who can forget James Hansen referring to the KXL project as “the fuse to the largest carbon bomb on the planet” and “game over” for the climate? All while dialogue on consumption/growth fetish, industrialized capitalism, militarism, Fukushima/nuclear, transition to a plant-based diet, rapidly destabilizing methane hydrates (literal carbon bombs) and Warren Buffett’s newfound rail dynasty now transporting the same tar sands oil via bomb trains, was nowhere to be found. The focus on a single pipeline granted the American populace full permission to ignore the urgent need to connect the dots, as the window for any possible climate mitigation finally closed. Keep the economy growing was the underlying message. The chosen discourse, that of 350 ppm as our global target (the maximum / uppermost limit) was and remains an excellent way to avoid facing the fact that only by achieving virtual zero carbon emissions can the planet even begin to cool (cooling that would not even begin for centuries, if not thousands of years, after zero was achieved). Not to worry, once atmospheric CO2 reaches unfathomable numbers and the “target” of 350 ppm begins to sound ridiculous, 350.org et al will simply move on to the 400.org campaign. It’s already established and waiting in the virtual wings. [http://400.350.org/]


Above screenshot: 400.org campaign. It’s already established and waiting in the virtual wings. [http://400.350.org/]

Chalk up the bizarre fact that there appears to be no anger by the public whatsoever in response to this highly-financed recklessness and disregard for life. This is no doubt due to a lifetime of obedience, passivity, subservience and indoctrination – much of it hammered home, drilled into the ever more vacant minds, by the non-profit industrial complex itself. That being said, people will get mad as hell when the grocery store shelves go empty. Of course, that will be far too late.

“Even more disturbing is new research from Ballantyne, Axford et al. which says that during the Pliocene epoch, when CO2 levels were ~400 ppm, Arctic surface temperatures were 15-20°C warmer than today’s surface temperatures. They suggest that much of the surface warming likely was due to ice-free conditions in the Arctic.” [Source] Today, the Arctic sea ice is declining at an unprecedented speed. “Very soon we may experience the iconic moment when, one day in the summer, we look at satellite images and see no sea-ice coverage in the Arctic, just open water” (McKie, 2012).


To clarify, only by achieving virtual zero carbon emissions can the planet even begin to cool. [“In fact, only in the case of essentially complete elimination of emissions can the atmospheric concentration of CO2 ultimately be stabilised at a constant level.” [http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/faq-10-3.html]

The concept of the “carbon budget” (legitimized by the Carbon Tracker et al reports, Bill McKibben (350.org) and the liberal left at large) is nothing more than a crafted mechanism that serves the reckless illusion that global society can continue to “safely burn” fossil fuels for many more decades. Ignore the fact that a “release of up to 50 Gt of predicted amount of hydrate storage [is] highly possible for abrupt release at any time”. [N. Shakhova, I. Semiletov, A. Salyuk, D. Kosmach, 2008] No, the mounting climate emergency is not today. Rather, it’s only a problem that we can put off dealing with until 30 years from now. (The so-called carbon budget will be discussed further in this report).

Apathy is slowly consuming the last vestiges of our humanity – we are slowly drowning in a sea of indifference.

Today, more than 25 years after the Changing Atmosphere conference in 1988, CO2 emissions have reached an all-time high. As corporate profits and corporate power have soared – so have emissions. The global community must acknowledge that the industrialized capitalist economic system cannot ensure our survival – it can only ensure our certain demise.

Ignoring the Fact that the Oligarchs Finance the “Movements”

The following excerpts [Further reading: Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse – Part 1V | Buffett Acquires the Non-Profit Industrial Complex] serve as an example of how the oligarchs fund the movements.

During the last four years, Americans have been coerced into focusing on a single, symbolic campaign to Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline. This campaign was funded in large part by the Tides Foundation, which distributes the funds (from other foundations) to qualifying NGOs and groups. The number one funder of the Tides Foundation leading up to and during this time period was none other than the NoVo Foundation, founded on monies provided by Warren Buffett. [“NoVo was created in 2006 after Warren Buffett pledged to donate 350,000 shares of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. stock to the foundation.”] It is maintained by Warren Buffett’s son, Peter Buffett (co-chair) and partner Jennifer Buffett (president and co-chair).

“Anonymity is very important to most of the people we work with.” — Drummond Pike, Founder of Tides

Drummond Pike founded Tides Foundation in 1976 [2]; the Tides Center in 1996 [3], the Advocacy Fund in 1994, Groundspring.org in 1999; Tides Inc. in 2003 [4], Tides Shared Spaces/Tides Two Rivers Foundation in 2004; and the Tides Network in 2006. [5]

By 2010, the combined cash flow of Tides regularly exceeded $200 million per year. Pike served as Chief Executive Officer of all Tides organizations until November 2010. [Source] Pike received an annual base compensation of $240,000 (2010) according to the 2010 Tides Foundation 990.

More recently, Pike was named a Principal with Equilibrium Capital (a private equity impact investing firm based in Portland – the very kind promoted by 350.org’s divestment campaign. (“Distribution and Sales: We raise and scale institutional-quality capital”) According to Tides, Pike is also volunteering time with Paladin Partners, LLC. Paladin Partners provides financial plans, consulting services, and investment services.


Pike currently serves on the Board of Directors of Working Assets, which he co-founded with Michael Kieschnick and Laura Scher. CREDO Mobile is a division of Working Assets. Prior to co-founding Credo Mobile (formerly known as Working Assets Wireless), Kieschnick served at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Kieschnick also served as an economic advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown of California (1980–1982), and helped create several “socially responsible” investment (SRI) funds [Wikipedia], again, the same SRI funds promoted by the 350.org divestment campaign.

Klein RAN

Photo: REVEL 2011 Awardee Naomi Klein with Michael Kieschnick. Michael Kieschnick is a co-founder (with Drummond Pike of Tides) and president of Credo Mobile. Image: Rainforest Action Network via Flickr. Rainforest Action Network’s ultra white and ultra elite annual benefit REVEL event. [6]

The Tides Foundation could be described as a priceless, magical, money-funneling machine of epic proportion for the oligarchs. It receives money from donors and then distributes these funds to the recipients of their choice. In this way, donors can strategically fund specific campaigns or specific organizations without ever disclosing their identities. These transactions are called “Anonymous Donor Advised Funds” or simply “Donor Advised Funds.” (Many such transactions are documented in the information that follows. The NoVo Foundation grants to Tides – both Tides Foundation and the Tides Center).

The Tides Foundation focuses on fundraising and grant-making, while the Tides Center operates as a fiscal sponsor (“to promote and support emerging social change and educational programs”), enticing novice NGOs with the shelter of Tides’ own charitable tax-exempt status, and other desirable/coveted benefits.

The far-right website, Activist Cash, is perceptive in their following observation:

“Tides does two things better than any other foundation or charity in the U.S. today: it routinely obscures the sources of its tax-exempt millions, and makes it difficult (if not impossible) to discern how the funds are actually being used…. In practice, ‘Tides’ behaves less like a philanthropy than a money-laundering enterprise… taking money from other foundations and spending it as the donor requires. Called donor-advised giving, this pass-through funding vehicle provides public-relations insulation for the money’s original donors. By using Tides to funnel its capital, a large public charity can indirectly fund a project with which it would prefer not to be directly identified in public…. In many cases, even the eventual recipient of the funding has no idea how Tides got it in the first place.

This fits the Buffett to NoVo to Tides to 350.org et al transactions – to a T.

As the following information will demonstrate, money (in the form of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway stock) was funnelled from Warren Buffett, to the Buffett family’s NoVo Foundation, to Tides, and finally to selected NGOs who led the Stop the Keystone XL campaign, which played a key role in Warren Buffett achieving his 21st century rail empire, thus brilliantly demonstrating the need for covert funding of highly financed “movements.”

Of course, these are not real movements but merely highly financed campaigns presented as “grassroots” movements. The sources of the funding (the wealthy elite, corporations, unions, other foundations, etc.) are “giving” the funds for specific reasons, campaigns and purposes – as the Buffett-NoVo-Tides transaction so clearly demonstrates. Thus, philanthropy should not be considered unbridled generosity, rather it should be considered strategic, long-term investment and tax evasion under the cloak of good will. Further, without an insider and/or documents, it’s almost impossible to follow the money, which is exactly why foundations are so imperative to the oligarchs that finance them to the tune of billions of dollars every year.

In 2010, the Keystone XL pipeline was pushed to the forefront by the non-profit industrial complex, in tandem with both mainstream and so-called progressive media, to become the main focus of the anti-tar sands campaign and indeed, the climate movement as a whole. While it deliberately and strategically captured the full attention of the populace, billionaire Warren Buffett, financial advisor to Barrack Obama, quietly built his 21st century rail dynasty and started shipping tar sands oil by rail with absolutely no dissent or interference. All eyes were on one single pipeline, which was, for the most part, already built.

In keeping with reality, perhaps it is necessary to outline the fact that Tides, recipient of millions of dollars (approximately $26 million since 2004) via the Buffett family’s NoVo Foundation, in turn, also channels hundreds of thousands of dollars into Ceres, with grants spiking up to and during the peak years of the Keystone XL campaign (years 2009, 1010 and 2011). (As disclosed previously, in 2010, Tides granted $150,000 to Ceres, with $100,000 of these funds specifically earmarked for a “tar sands campaign.” [Tides 990, 2010] As well, in 2008 Ceres received $50,000 from Wallace Global, also designated for a tar sands campaign.) [TIDES FUNDS TO CERES (LIST OF GRANTEES): 2011, $120,000 | 2010, $150,000 | 2009, $100,000 | 2006, $17,500 | 2004, $25,000.00]

It is of interest to note that Suzanne Nossel, former Executive Director of Amnesty International USA and trusted instrument of American hegemony, serves on Tides Board of Directors. On October 1, 2012, in the article “Amnesty Coup,” author Jay Taber writes: “As an experienced advocate for neoliberal coercion to achieve American hegemony, she has taken an aggressive pro-war stance over the last decade, including the US invasion of Iraq and the NATO bombing of Libya.”

All while:

“Gary D. Schwartz joins NoVo after fifteen years of service at Tides. He was the founder of the Tides’ New York office and served in many different capacities during his tenure there including Interim CEO before departing in 2014.” [Source]

The interlocking directorate contagion continues to thrive in the non-profit industrial complex.




Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, Political Context, Counterpunch, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents.