EPA

Earth Day Message to Michigan’s Worst State Senator

On Earth Day most writers choose to cover hopeful topics about greening the planet, but Democracy Tree feels this is the right time to talk about the dark side of Michigan’s environmental future.

Specifically Sen. Tom Casperson (R-38).

Casperson hails from Escanaba, the third largest city in the Upper Peninsula. His family owns Casperson and Son Trucking, a log transportation business. He began his political career in 2002 when elected to the 108th seat of the Michigan House, where he served on the Transportation, Agriculture and Resource Management, and Land Use and Environment committees.

The Senator has been in the news recently for making “birther” remarks about President Obama’s birthplace, claiming it’s suspicious that the media hasn’t explored this important story. Stupid? Yes…but it’s his environmental record that is the most disturbing.

Why not start with Casperson’s birthplace — Escanaba. Located in one of the most forested states in the nation, it is not among the 126 Michigan cities and communities that earned a national “Tree City” designation this year. They were beaten-out by multiple urban communities, including Detroit, Flint, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Novi, Port Huron, Royal Oak, Saginaw, and Southfield. The Escanaba Downtown Development Authority prominently features a photograph of a five-lane road on their website, promoting their “two miles of modern retail stores”. Indeed, Escanaba is a bit of a Northern Michigan anomaly in its urban appearance.

Although Casperson’s campaign finance reports go back a few years, his most recently filed statement tells the tale. Of the over $50,000 raised last year, much of it came from PACs, among them:

Cleveland Cliff Iron Co., MI Petroleum Jobbers, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Michigan Infrastructure Transportation Association, DTE Energy, CMS Energy Employees, Michigan Association of Timbermen, MI Propane Gas Association, Michigan Petroleum, Michigan Energy (oddly, a Wisconsin company), AT&T of Michigan, Michigan Manufacturers Association, Michigan Truck-PAC, and Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

Additionally, he accepted money from MSHA PAC — a Lansing-based lobby firm, Environmental Quality PAC — a hazardous waste disposal company, Save Our Shoreline-PAC — a group fighting for beach grooming “rights”,  Dean and Jewel Oswald — owners of Oswald Bear Ranch, and significant contributions from 19 individuals employed in the petroleum industry.

His legislative record directly reflects his money trail, and grows more shocking by the month.

Casperson launched his Senate career with a doozie — he introduced a Resolution (SR 10 of 2011) asking the United States Congress to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases and to strip the department of its funding. Although the measure is not legally binding, it did pass the Senate.

One month later he introduced SB 248, a bill that became law (Public Act 240 of 2012) which limits the Department of Natural Resources ability to acquire land.

Although Casperson objects to environmental regulation of most any kind, he apparently likes a well-regulated pussy. In June of 2011, he introduced a bill to restrict the availability of the “Morning After Pill”. SB 420 would have prohibited pharmacies from selling RU-486, with only doctors allowed to administer it under the same restrictions found in abortion laws. This foray into reproductive law died in committee.

Then there was SB 470, a bill to preempt local zoning from prohibiting gravel pits. Like the above bill, it did not come to a vote.

Casperson introduced three bills that did become law. One to allow beachgrooming, another permitting the use of raw sewage for landscaping purposes, and a law to remove restrictions on bear cub petting, specifically meant to aid his contributor, the Oswald family.

In the last few weeks, the Senator has upped his game by introducing three bills that have outraged voters across the state. He started his legislative salvo with SB 78 — a bill to prevent the DNR from using science in forest management and from pursuing principles of bio-diversity. The law would require the DNR to promote economic uses of state land such as logging and mining. Next came a related bill, SB 214 which would tap the DNR Trust Fund for the purpose of building logging roads and dredging commercial harbors.

Ahh, but the piece de resistance is SB 288. The bill to allow wolf hunting in Michigan — introduced in the face of a successful statewide petition drive to put the controversial topic to a popular vote. Dealing from the bottom of the deck, Casperson added a bullshit $1 million dollar appropriation to the measure to render it referendum-proof.

What a dick.

So, the “green” message Democracy Tree makes on this Earth Day is: Upper Peninsula voters, please do the planet a favor and don’t re-elect this guy!

Amy Kerr Hardin from Democracy Tree

Deja Vu – Repeat of Teapot Dome

Deja Vu – Repeat of Teapot Dome

We need to learn a lesson from history when it comes to natural resources.  Money, labor, privatization, and politicians operate the same.

Some things never change.

At the time of Presidents Harding and Coolidge, the oil companies, particularly Sinclair Oil was given our nation’s oil resources for a sweetheart deal – no bidding necessary. The oil was in reserve for the Navy in case of war – the Republicans in charge arranged for it to go to oil corporations for profit.

Some things never change.

In our day, international mining corporations are allowed to enter Nevada and stake claims for very small fees . The current Governor of Nevada most recently worked at Jones Vargas – the firm hired to mining lobby. Elected officials on all levels take campaign donations from mining. Mining pays barely anything for billions of dollars in gold and other minerals.

It is estimated that one trillion dollars worth of gold is in the center of the state.
________________.:.__________________

Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 239-240

Out west, one of the navy properties was a great oil field that lay under a butte, officially Naval Petroleum Reserve No 3 but known as Teapot Dome for the butte’s funny shape. Some engineers were arguing that the surrounding private companies were tapping the oil out from under the Dome. The best thing to do might be to grant a concession to drill there; that would both allow commerce to take over the business there and reduce the United States’ dependence on oil drilling in Mexico …. Granting oil concessions to private companies was like granting a great company the right to operate Muscle Shoals, the dam that had been constructed to produce nitrates during the war. It was important to do this now, Harding and Coolidge believed. If they did not then these sectors might forever stay in public hands.

Some things never change.

Resource Land: international mining corporations are staking claims all over Nevada in a mighty land grab. They are allowed by fee simple to patent the land converting public land into private property. At least at teapot dome, there was a lease and they had to pay something. They are not paying anything to tie up the land.

Resource Water: The ancient water is dumped by mining into the the desert while Vegas fights with the North and other states over water rights.

Resource Clean Environment. British Petroleum owns the superfund site in Yerington. The radioactive site will cost billions to clean up. Water has to be brought in from outside for the people living close by to drink. Mercury is polluting the water, fish are not edible, and the EPA is fining the mining industry. Thousands of holes are dug all over the state and abandoned.

Corporations are costing the government and the tax payers billions in Nevada; corporations are reaping only benefits and profits.
_______________________.:.________________

Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 240

Albert Fall, intended to lease the valuable Naval Petroleum Reserve No 3 without putting the project out for bids. The transfer to Interior from Navy had already taken place with the seeming endorsement of all, including the navy secretary and the navy assistant secretary, Theodore Roosevelt, the president’s son and Alice’s half brother …. The Wyoming reserves, some 200 million barrels of high-grade oil, would be leased to Mammouth Oil Co., a company created by Sinclair Oil, the company of a Harding campaign donor, Harry Sinclair

Some things never change.

Nevada is a leading producer of high quality gold. A cash cow for the billion dollar mining industry. Barely a soul spoke against their monopolies hidden out in the desert for decades. Campaign donations were hefty for many Nevada politicians.

Mining does employ a few mostly transient workers and adds some benefit to the immediate communities. It is by no means comparable to the benefit the corporations receive.

Nevada has become a place for out-of-state profiteers.

While leadership is asleep at the switch.

Nevada also has its own “Keystone Pipeline”. This huge natural gas line crosses Nevada leaving a huge scar on the old ground. Yes, we had temporary jobs and a short term boost in the economy. That boost is history. The federal government smoothly permitted the 48″ gas line. Nevada politicians can be proud that Nevada got the burden of the pipeline but not the benefit of buying one gallon of natural gas. North Dakota is not the only state that is covered with pipeline. If you really want to generate and sell electricity, cheap natural gas is the way to do it. Ask California – they got the gas.
_______________.:.______________

Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 240

Senator Robert La Follette of Wisconsin was moving with alacrity to spotlight the transaction and demanded an investigation of the teapot Dome concession …. Coolidge watched from the Senate president’s seat.

Tax issues — the rich did not want to pay.

Some things never change.

The people of Nevada have to take the matter into their own hands because the politicians would not. SJR15 is before the Nevada Legislature. This would remove a cap placed in the Nevada Constitution by miners in ancient times. We hope this will be placed on the ballot and the people will vote — doing the job that our elected officials should have done.

Why has it taken Nevada so long? Mining law from 1872? These laws need to change.
_________________.:.____________

Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 241

In June, the administration won a key case against violent strikers: United Mine Workers v Coronado Coal affirmed that strikers were liable for the damage they inflicted on companies property. On July 1, 300,000 rail workers walked out, shutting down commerce. The strikes halted the upward trend of business; the strike was taking the recovery hostage. The administration had begun to appoint conservative judges who would be a help in the endless battles between companies and unions.

Some things never change.

Under conditions of austerity, labor is taking to the streets, protesting, and becoming unsettled. Activists are activating. Organizers are organizing. Regular people are asking: Why are we giving resources away while we are experiencing severe financial crisis? Vegas experiencing the recession in many ways worse than the rest of the nation. Highest foreclosure. Highest unemployment.

Union busting was and is the primary goal. Profit margins widen as the rich take advantage of the work of people’s hands. In a right to work state, unions stand between working people and oblivion.

Resources are allowed to be siphoned away.
________________________.:._____________________

Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 281

It was becoming clear now that the interior secretary had accepted cash via an intermediary. “Not in my time has the country been so startled by the act of a public servant as it has been by the disclosure that Secretary Fall actually took money in a satchel, ” wrote Morrow….

Some things never change.

Closed door legislative meetings. Decisions made at the last minute. Horse trading. Mining lobbyists boldly meeting in the middle of the legislative building as if they owned the place. Some people getting richer and the disadvantaged not part of the discussion.
____________________.:._____________

Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 281

Longworth’s compromise was worse than the White House feared. Republicans teamed up with Democrats, 408-8, to pass a bill that diverged sharply from the Mellon Plan.

Some things never change.

In a move that surprised everyone this Nevada Legislative session a few Republicans are leading the charge to do something about remedying the taxation of Nevada Mining. They are questioning and standing up to the lobbyists.

Where are the democrats?
___________________.:._______________

Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 281

But there again, despite the special prosecutors and the recent resignation of Navy Secretary Denby, the shadow of Teapot Dome was still long. If leasing Teapot Dome to Harry Sinclair had been a corrupt mockery of privatization, then was not the sale of Muscle Shoals to Ford the same? Governor Gifford Pinchot, who had negotiated the coal situation the prior autumn, opposed the sale. Progressives in the Senate found endless reasons to block it.

Some things never change.

In Nevada the progressives are activating around the mining issues. Sheila Leslie and Representative Steven Horsford worked on SJR15. US Representative Steven Horsford participates in the Mining Accountability and Oversight Committee, MOAC.

But the situation is progressing slowly, with the Nevada Governor appointing MOAC auditors and inspectors of the billion dollar mining industries – who do not attend the meetings. It’s lip service to oversight but it is not meaningful.

This reminds me of the Anderson Firm auditing Enron.
__________________.:._______________

Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 295

The Teapot Dome investigations continued: the federal grand jury indicted Albert Fall, Sinclair, and Doheny.

________________.:._________________

Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 296

“We are often told that we are a rich country, and we are,” Coolidge told the crowd. But as in the Gospel of Luke, “where more is given, more is required.” The President laid down the law for those departments that would not cut. “I regret that there are still some officials who apparently feel that the estimates transmitted to the Bureau of the Budget are the estimates which they are authorized to advocate before the Committees.” The only lawful estimates were the president’s Finally Coolidge again stressed his theme: “I am for economy. After that I am for more economy. At this time, and under present circumstances, that is my conception of serving the people.”

Some things never change.

Governor Sandoval is a leader in a state full of gold. The billionaires are allowed to hide, hoard, and stash the wealth. While the Governor cut 5,000 jobs his first months in office. Schools, hospitals, social services, mental health, are all cut cut cut. This definitely serves a few people – it is not serving THE people.
___________________.:. ______________

Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 305

La Follete and Davis might be able to use Teapot Dome to bring Republicans down.

Some things never change.

Scandal will bring politicians down. Careful politicos – ethical consideration and disciplinary rules may bite you.
___________________.:.________________

Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 321

The big question in the Veterans Bureau and Teapot Dome scandals was how much information Coolidge himself had picked up in the cabinet meetings. When Dawes made a show of avoiding the meetings, he raised the question of whether Coolidge had been compromised by attending. The alternative was that Coolidge had been ignorant of what had gone on among men he saw at the White House …. That surmise kept Coolidge’s name clear but also suggested that he was a simpleton.

Some things never change.

The people involved in Nevada Mining issues and allowing the corporations to take American resources like this are either not paying attention or not understanding?
___________________.:.________________

Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 391

Charles Forbes, Harding’s original Veterans Bureau chief, was still in Leavenworth Prison for the fraud he had committed with federal moneys. All over Washington could be found the detritus of war-related scandal, such as the Teapot Dome decision relating to naval reserves.

Some things never change.

Enough is enough. We need to use our Nevada resources wisely and be responsible stewards.

This post was written by Angie Sullivan

Keystone XL Pipeline Reeks of Koch

Keystone XL Pipeline Reeks of Koch

For the public, the entire Keystone XL (KXL) streamliner is washing down easier with a confidential Big Gulp of Koch.

“The too-billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David, usually get what they want, but never what they deserve.” — Gaea

People who breathe the atmosphere, drink water, eat food, are hostages of an increasingly haywire, engineered climate…that’s us, and at the swipe of Obama’s pen, we have a fresh Kochmare coming on-line.

Misinformation, disinformation, emotional manipulation and Kochspeak are railroading us toward the most dangerous diluted bitumen (DilBit) pipeline ever to sell out vital American resources to benefit so few—not to mention the global atmospheric carbon bomb.

How do we stand to gain from KXL?

The greatest known “public benefit” from KXL will be higher gasoline prices. [1]

KXL’s sheer potential for destruction winds along a bleak and tarry road to deliver hell for the unborn, at a “profit”. From melting bitumen out of the ground using vast amounts of natural gas and fresh water…to dilution with natural gas liquids so the DilBit can be squeezed through a pipeline impaling our heartlands…to filthiest of refining leading to a guaranteed crescendo of environmental disaster. At least in scope, it’s all similar to the sheer profit potential for psychopaths with pockets deep enough for politicos to dive in from the high board and wallow around under the thumb of Koch.

Our system of resource allocation is fatally broken (Kochen). Instead of capitol investment in energy with a future, billions are sucked into the deadest of ends—the blackest of fossil-energy black holes…bitumen. [2]

The dominating Koch agenda seems a ruthless assurance that every child not born into wealth like David and Charles has a nightmare future—if they have a future at all. Could there be a more disgusting example of hubris than Kochs cloaking one of their political-subversion fronts as: “Coalition for our Children’s Future”?

Regarding various breeds of euphemism…Kochism virtually defines “sinister”.

Kochspeak In Action

Whenever corporate profit most degrades the biosphere, Koch-brother tentacles are usually winding around nearby—professionally-cloaked, but there’s the smell.

That smell…biocidal mélange of gas, oil, bitumen, diluted bitumen, refining and shipping, industrial chemicals, paper and pulp mills, chemical fertilizer, corporate “Free $peach!” and politicos up to their hairlines in campaign contributions…. Incredible stench, victim discretion beyond advisories.

Spearheading recent Koch-and-dagger denial is the pronouncement that Keystone XL “oil sands” pipeline has “…nothing to do with any of our businesses”. For people paying attention, that might seem much like Santa Claus announcing that Christmas has nothing to do with any of his businesses.

Rep. Henry Waxman of California is the ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Energy and Power Subcommittee.  Declarations by Koch Industries officials, to the tune of KXL has “…nothing to do with any of our businesses”—a song and dance sharpening Waxman’s focus on the guarded KXL Koch connection.

(Editor’s note:  you can watch this confrontation a recorded from C-SPAN2 by clicking here and you really should witness this as a written description does not do this justice.   It is at the Senate Energy and Commerce Committee Meeting 2.1.12.  Members making opening statements on the Obama administration’s decision to deny permission to deny permission to continue with plans to build the Keystone XL Pipeline.  A very partisan committee hearing—apples talking at oranges and vice versa.

Upton comments about Canada building a pipeline toward shipping to China.  But Koch has a refinery in MN that could be refurbished just as they have to refurbish a refinery in Corpus Christi.  So why is the pipeline even necessary?  Because from Corpus Cristi the oil can be loaded into supertankers for shipping the tar sands oil overseas.

Waxman-Whitfield confrontation at Senate Hearing
The Henry Waxman vs. Ed Whitfield battle begins in earnest 17:22 into the C-SPAN2 video, when Waxman starts quoting facts.  You have to watch this to believe it.  This is our government, and that’s very distrubing.)

Waxman sent a letter to Reps. Fred Upton (R-Michigan, Energy and Commerce committee chairman) and Ed Whitfield (R-Kentucky, Energy and Power subcommittee chairman), urging them to seek Koch Industries documents that Waxman’s staff had been denied.

Upton and Whitfield were dancing to the Koch campaign-contribution rag, busy ramming a bill through congress to force an Obama administration decision on KXL by November 1, 2011. The bill passed in the House, but passed away in the Senate.

Stomping on the face of public interest…for such Orwellian aggression, the language of Kochspeak is money, and political intrigue. The 2010 landmark ruling by Supreme Court of the United States in Citizens United -vs- Federal Election Commission [3] maximized the volume of Kochspeak.

According to the L.A. Times, the largest single donor to members of the Energy and Commerce Committee in the 2010 money miasma called “election” was Koch Industries and their employees. $20,000 of that went to Fred Upton, reliable Koch asset also spearheading efforts to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new rules regarding greenhouse gas emissions.

Koch Industries’ response to Rep. Waxman’s interference included:

“As we explained to Representative Waxman’s staff, we have no financial interest in the project (KXL). Given these facts, we are confused about why Koch is being singled out and inserted into these discussions.”

An L.A. Times op-ed by Michael Brume, executive director of the Sierra Club, describes KXL as being backed by the Koch brothers. Koch officials demanded a “correction”, insisting to L.A. Times editors that: “Koch is not involved in the Keystone Pipeline project in any way as we have stated publicly and has been widely acknowledged. This is not a matter of opinion since there are no facts to the contrary.”

(editor’s note:  I thought I would add this screen shot from Koch Industries’ Discovery Magazine, an in-house production.  Just seemed so appropriate.)

Koch Industries - Discovery Mag - Flint Hills Resources

The shibboleth, “…we have no financial stake in the pipeline” is clearly revealed as classic Kochspeak by a form submitted to Canada’s National Energy Board in 2009 by Koch’s Flint Hills Resources Canada. (Flint Hills) “…is among Canada’s largest crude oil purchasers, shippers and exporters. Consequently, Flint Hills has a direct and substantial interest in the application” (for the pipeline under consideration). That pipeline, approved in 2010, is Canada’s 327-mile portion of KXL.

Responding to a Reuters article titled: Koch Subsidiary Told Regulators It Has ‘Direct and Substantial Interest’ in Keystone XL…Koch representatives assured Reuters that Koch has no interest in Keystone XL—even whined about media bias; meanwhile, Koch Industries was spending millions upgrading its Corpus Christi refinery to handle more DilBit….

Realistically, if the Kochs were “…not involved in the Keystone Pipeline project in any way”, why all the denial?  Considering Koch style, denial seems solid admission that Kochs are positioned to make a killing from KXL, after getting a toehold in Canadian bitumen fifty years ago.

Koch Style

Investigator and author extraordinaire Greg Palast relates this precious episode of Koch style from over twenty years ago:

Charles Koch had a contract to glean oil from the Osage Indian Reservation with a “stripper well”. Secret tape recordings of a Koch Industries top executive document Charles demanding drivers of oil tankers to secretly siphon a few dollars worth of oil from every private tank on the Osage Reservation fed by stripper well. The FBI filmed oil thefts with hidden cameras, recorded Koch’s childish giggling over ripping off Native Americans. Koch even snickered about the question of why a multi-billionaire would steal petty amounts of oil from destitute Osage…and in purest Koch style, replied:

“I want my fair share—and that’s all of it.”

The Justice Department, armed with exhaustive evidence, indicted Koch Industries for “Crime on an Indian Reservation”, and racketeering; major prison-time criminality.

Charles Koch simply stroked a couple of senators in his pockets (Bob Dole of Kansas, Republican majority leader; Oklahoma’s Don Nickles)…and the federal prosecutor handling the case was fired. Case closed (giggle).

Koch Style runs in the family. It was Bill Koch, younger brother of Charles and David, that ratted on his brothers…leading to an open-and-shut case for anyone not above the law.

Bill had been promised a cut of what, in addition to petty theft from personal tanks on the Osage Reservation, turned out to be hundreds of millions in oil stolen from Native lands. But brothers Charles and David reneged on the deal, cut Bill out of profits that hardly register in Koch-level crime. So Bill squealed.

Actual steel pipe in KXL is probably free of Koch-Industries fingerprints; refining, shipping and export is where Kochs have set themselves up for KXL windfall.

Kochs already import and refine 25% of Alberta Death Ooze (ADO) pumped into the US. KXL will increase import by over 500,000 barrels per day. Once again, Kochs’ “…we have no financial interest in the project” seems like Kochspin admission of deep involvement with KXL.

Since Koch Industries Inc. (Mother Hydra to a snarl of subsidiary tentacles) is mostly owned by Charles and David Koch, their operations are mostly private (the second-largest privately-held U.S. corporation is Koch Industries). Kochs parlay secrecy with the flair of billionaires who pilfer from impoverished Native Americans…billionaires who consider their fair share to be, “…all of it.”

One thing not secret: Koch Brothers are President Obama’s bitterest political enemies. Often considered architects of the dirty-energy paradigm, Kochs are enemies of anything to do with clean energy. After all, in Kochworld, clean energy is simply potential for filthy lucre, denied. Fossil energy offers nothing filthier than bitumen, the proverbial “bottom of the barrel”.

The entire energy-from-bitumen industry has very effectively perception-managed the public into shrugging off bitumen as “crude oil”. Inculcation of DilBit being “oil” is relentless. Mainstream media (MSM) has been issued progressive, evolving euphemisms to disguise even the massive Alberta bitumen deposits as “oil”. Success at public conditioning was reflected last week in an Associated Press article titled:

Obama disputes jobs on Keystone XL line

Counting the worm-term “Keystone XL oil pipeline” from the first sentence, the word “oil” is used five times. Not a peep about tar, bitumen, DilBit. The article also quotes a draft environmental report released by the State Department this March:

“…no significant environmental impact to most resources along the proposed pipeline route.”

That’s right, they said “most”. Sinister omen, anyone?

Definition from Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition:

Bitumen 1: an asphalt of Asia Minor used in ancient times as a cement and mortar 2: any of various mixtures of hydrocarbons (as tar) often together with their nonmetallic derivatives that are obtained as residues after heat-refining natural substances (as petroleum); specif: such a mixture soluble in carbon disulfide

Among bitumen euphemisms foisted upon the public by MSM, there’s been a whiff of truth; “Alberta tar sands”, or simply, “tar sands” for instance. But Koch-furthering of ADO has tarred and feathered truth.

Diluted Bitumen (DilBit) is NOT Oil Ask the IRS—lone public entity to which bitumen pushers don’t try to pawn off DilBit as oil.

The oil industry pays an eight-cents-per-barrel tax on crude oil produced in or imported to the US; proceeds are earmarked for the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund that covers cleanup costs for oil spills.

In 2011, at the request of a company whose identity is kept secret (smell that smell?), an exemption was made that frees DilBit from this tax—an exemption potentially worth over $60 million annually when KXL is on-line. The secret company insisted that “oil” from Canada’s tar sands is so different (chemistry, behavior, how it’s produced) that it should not be considered crude oil.

Deception and KXL go together like rum and Koch.

Texas is where KXL DilBit will be refined for the global market. Texas, and federal statutory codes, define crude oil as “liquid hydrocarbons extracted from the Earth at atmospheric temperatures”. That certainly excludes bitumen.

As if raw bitumen (almost a solid) isn’t bad enough, the stuff must be diluted with up to 50% natural gas condensates (proprietary liquids called diluents) into an abrasive, sulfurous brew that abrades and rots steel pipeline. DilBit. And no matter where you look, DilBit only gets worse. The biocidal brew must be heated to 160-degrees Fahrenheit to reduce viscosity enough that it can be squeezed through pipeline at 1,440 pounds per square inch (PSI). So, DilBit pipelines don’t leak, they erupt!

The most expensive “oil spill” in US history which, according to EPA, “…permanently polluted thirty miles of Michigan’s Kalamazoo River”—that was “The Marshall Spill” [4], a certain sneak preview what might ultimately finish off DilBit pipelines.

The Bitter End Light sweet crude oil is the cream of petroleum. Globally, the cream has been largely skimmed off, leading to higher profits from lower grades (light sour, heavy sweet, heavy sour)…until bitumen itself has become marginally profitable. Lowest sulfur content is “sweet”, higher sulfur is “sour”, with bitumen being the sourest of all, as well as heaviest. And the term, “profitable” has many dynamics, many interpretations, many costs deferred….

A scale to measure profit in exploitation of petroleum resources is Energy Returned On Investment (EROI); how much energy is gained for how much energy invested. Crude oil has a high EROI, averaging out to about 25:1 (25 units of energy gained from 1 unit of energy invested).

Bitumen pushers shill about ADO having an EROI as high as 5:1 when surface mined. ADO from deeper, mined by steam injection, averages less than 3:1, they say. But when transportation, refining, and other economic costs are factored in, ADO might barely make an EROI of 1:1…not counting “unforeseen” disasters such as the Marshall Spill, or anything else non-economic.

Besides ADO having a zombie EROI…there’s the carbon problem. Climatologists talk about “…game over for the climate” if the Alberta ‘tar sands’ are fully exploited.

EPA estimates that ADO has a “well-to-tank” carbon footprint 82% greater than oil. Canadian bitumen deposits could contain twice as much carbon dioxide as we’ve unleashed so far upon the biosphere in our entire history of using oil.

ADO for energy seems about the worst idea ever to divert billions of dollars from investment in new energies—if not one of the worst ideas in the history of…civilization. When it comes to fossil energy, could there be a bitterer end than bitumen?

In a shocking moment of candor, TransCanada even said of their own baby, (Keystone XL pipeline) would be “…a boon for corporate profits, but a burden for American consumers.” [5]

President Obama has a monster tar baby on his hands. Sure seems like, potentially at least, it would be difficult to convince people that a DilBit pipeline through the heart of their nation is in the public’s best interests. Environmental catastrophe risked for largely foreign corporate profits from a product destined for the global market and expected to increase domestic gasoline prices, tough sell. Illusions of public benefits such as jobs are mostly that, illusions.

And if Obama permits KXL he will handing his bitterest political enemies a tremendous victory. Kochs have declared war on Obama, like to call him Saddam Hussein. [6]

Among the best things Obama might ever say about America—especially describing our energy future:

“Without further ADO.”

Problem is, whether on not the 1,375-mile US leg of KXL will go on-line no longer appears to be question of “if”…only, “when”. Kochs usually get what they want. That means our last line of defense against threats of Canadian bitumen could be the inevitable disaster of DilBit itself.

The main question could involve how much environmental damage, how many lives lost or ruined, and how much stealing from the future will we roll over for? How much kicking in the face will we endure before fighting to make more humane the answer to the question: Is corporate profit more important than Life on Earth?

Power never concedes anything without a fight. Will we ever muster the focus and courage to take the fight directly to such as too-billionaire psychopaths for which their fair share equals, “…all of it”—and that includes the future of life on Earth?

For more information regarding Dilbit, ADO, and illusions of KXL public “benefits”, please see:  Keystone XL: DilBit Through the Heartland by clicking here.

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Footnotes:

[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/22/report-keystone-xl-gas-prices_n_1536227.html

[2] https://www.google.com/search?q=alberta+tar+sands+raw+bitumen&hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=rII&tbo=d&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=qsbjUJH0KMeeiAKfvoHADw&ved=0CAoQ_AUoAA&biw=734&bih=457

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens_United_v._Federal_Election_Commission

[4] http://insideclimatenews.org/news/20120626/dilbit-diluted-bitumen-enbridge-kalamazoo-river-marshall-michigan-oil-spill-6b-pipeline-epa

[5] http://sierraclub.typepad.com/compass/2012/09/transcanada-keystone-toxic-tarsands-flip-flops.html

[6] https://www.google.com/search?q=kochs%27+war+on+obama&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a#hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=2f9&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&q=koch%27s%27+war+on+obama&spell=1&sa=X&psj=1&ei=WbpMUbqBB-HniAKw5oCoDg&ved=0CDAQBSgA&fp=1&biw=734&bih=468&bav=on.2,or.r_cp.r_qf.&cad=b&sei=bDxOUaqNM4LQiwLuo4CgCA
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This article is written by Rand  Clifford and is posted at
http://www.veteranstoday.com/2013/03/23/keystone-xl-pipeline-reeks-of-koch/
veteranstoday

 

 

Cuccinelli and Dominion Move to Repeal Virginia’s Clean Electricity Standard

Proposed legislation would harm environment and, opponents say, constitutes a confession that Dominion has accepted $77 million from ratepayers without properly fulfilling intent of current law

RICHMOND—Dominion Virginia Power has informed environmental groups that the company has reached a tentative agreement with Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to support legislation that would effectively repeal the state’s signature clean energy law. The move, environmentalists said, would not only harm the environment but also represents a de facto admission of guilt by Dominion. The company has already accepted $77 million from ratepayers without making the clean energy investments that the General Assembly first intended with its original 2007 law.

Cuccinelli, a nationally known global warming denier who has sued the US EPA and the University of Virginia in the past to advance a radical anti-environmental agenda, has been critical of the state’s “Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS)” law for some time. Dominion, meanwhile, has been publicly criticized for months by environmental and health leaders in the state for exploiting loopholes in the RPS energy law to gain millions of dollars in incentive payments from customers without developing a single wind farm or large solar project in the state.

Rather than work with lawmakers and advocates to strengthen the renewable energy standard and close controversial loopholes, More →

ALEC’s Right-wing, Extremist Anti-Green Agenda

As we get ready for another year of hearing ALEC legislators defend their membership in this extremist right-wing organization I think it is important to make two points:

ONE

When ALEC legislators defend their membership and attendance in ALEC, they most commonly say something like – It gives me the opportunity to meet with other legislators from across the US and talk and get new ideas.

The correct statement is:  It gives me the opportunity to meet with other extremist right-wing legislators from across the US and reinforce my stance in right-wing extremist beliefs.

TWO

When ALEC legislators defend their membership and attendance in ALEC, they most commonly say something like – It gives me the opportunity to hear informational presentations from speakers from around the world and talk and get new ideas.

When ALEC legislators defend their membership and attendance in ALEC, they most commonly say something like – It gives me the opportunity to hear biased extremist right-wing presentations from speakers from around the world and reinforce my stance in right-wing extremist beliefs. More →

ALEC’s Koch Funded Cabal “Educating” our state and Federal Judges

ALEC’s Koch Funded Cabal “Educating” our state and Federal Judges

A VLTP Special Report – ALEC’s Federal Interference, Part II

August 20, 2012 | by Bob Sloan

Last month I began a two part series that began with “ALEC, the Koch Led CABAL & “The Amicus Project” – Fed Court Interference.” The first segment dealt with identifying and exposing ALEC’s Koch-funded cabal interfering with our judicial processes by filing hundreds of “Amicus Briefs” to state and federal courts in pending cases.  These were cases involving issues under the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th and 14th Amendments and other rights – and submitted by numerous cabal members, such as ALEC, Heritage, Heartland, Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Businesses, CATO, Mackinac, etc.

When they file these briefs it is not sufficient to simply join together and file one comprehensive “brief” or argument in support of whatever position the cabal’s side is advocating for.  No, they file separate briefs making it appear that there is a groundswell of support on the cabal’s side of an issue.  I described this as the “front door” access the cabal uses in their attempts to influence outcomes in judicial cases involving legislative and related pursuits of the cabal.

This diary will introduce everyone to the cabal’s “back door” access to and influence upon state and federal judges through seminars and conferences provided by the cabal members...to in effect “program” judges to rule favorably in key cases.  These seminars are used to “educate” our judiciary as to the positions held by corporations and other matters important to businesses and their wealthy owners.  These seminars are provided to judges prior to important case reviews…the amicus briefs are “reminders” to the judges of what they “learned”through these seminars that were provided along with luxury vacations paid for by many corporations that may eventually wind up as a party before one or more of these judges.

The seminars take place at truly plush resorts (many of them the same used by ALEC for their annual meetings involving legislators) during all expense trips provided to the judges by a number of Conservative funded organizations (click the blue links for more information about these groups); the Foundation for Research on Economics and Environment (FREE Foundation), George Mason University’s Law and Economics Center, Northwestern University’s Northwestern Law Judicial Education Program, James Madison University’s Center for the Constitution at Montpelier and several other, smaller organizations.

These seminars are a way for ALEC’s corporate members and contributors to assist the cabal’s pursuit of influencing judges to render pro-corporate decisions on important issues and cases.  Below the fold I’ll provide some of the information, a video from ABC’s 20/20 and other documents identifying how this entire “system” has been set up, the funders and backers and the impact these maneuvers have had upon our judicial system.

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Since the founding of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in 1973, conservative Republicans have pursued one overall objective – to control all three branches of the federal government.  The reason for seeking to gain total control is obvious.

In this pursuit they began by striving to grab control of state government’s three branches: legislative, judicial and gubernatorial.  In this latter effort, they have been relatively successful in that today they have twenty-one fully controlled state governments.  Many of these states became “Red” after the 2010 election that brought wins to the Tea Party and control to the GOP in more states than ever before.

It isn’t sufficient for anyone seeking control of our government to merely hold a majority in any of the three branches of government – they also need those in the controlling majorities to think like they do, owe their careers to those who worked to put them in office or exhibit a genuine allegiance to an overall agenda.

In 2001 ABC’s 20/20 presented an expose titled “Junkets for Judges” which can be found on YouTube in a two part presentation.  Here is a link to part two.

An important part of the foregoing investigative report is the fact that they claim as of 2001 they had identified more than 500 US judges who had attended these seminars.  Many that attended were at the time sitting in review of cases involving issues that were discussed at the seminars – and some returned to their courtrooms, and ruled favorably on behalf of corporate rights over governmental rights.  This 20/20 report only reports on the GMU seminars.  They don’t address the ones provided by FREE, Northwestern University, Liberty Fund or others.  At that time FREE had not opened their doors to state appellate and Supreme Court Justices and judges, providing the same pro-corporate seminars to them.

These junkets are designed to provide attending judges with an ultra-conservative, pro-corporate outlook on key issues.  During these free trips judges attend daily seminars provided by purported scientists, corporate executives and others advancing a one-sided, pro-corporate, free-market conservative ideology.  The seminars are designed to impart to the attending judiciary, corporate or business points of view on critical issues involving environment, economics, tort reform, EPA and takings law (eminent domain).

The cabal uses these free vacations in the same manner as the travel companies and time share companies do…everyone of us has been subjected to offers of “free vacations” for simply attending a time share presentation.  None of us plan on buying a time share, or joining a “discount” club – but face it, many do and for that reason the techniques are successful and continue to be used year after year.  These judicial education trips are no different.  Judges get an all expense paid trip, thinking they will have fun and can ignore the  propaganda presented in the seminars…but in the end, if they want to be able to take more of these trips, at some point they have to rule as if they’ve “learned” something at the previous ones, and thus be allowed subsequent trips.

I’m sure that those behind this activity involving the programming of judges, will no doubt claim that everyone has the right to advance their own arguments on important legal cases…that there are numerous other organizations providing seminars, conferences and work shops for judges.  Just as they’ve done in defense of ALEC’s operations and pursuits of proposing and passing state laws favorable to their conservative political agenda.

There are important differences between the cabal’s efforts of influencing the judiciary – and legislation – and the efforts put forth by others; the partisanship of their efforts.  All of their activities are designed to advance a pro-corporate, conservatively political position.  The claim of bi-partisanship or non-partisan makeup of the cabal’s members is delusional.  ALEC for instance has conservative leaning Democratic members, but they hold no positions of authority within the ALEC hierarchy; no chairmanship of ALEC’s task forces, on their Public sector board, etc.

Though the 20/20 expose concentrated upon George Mason University’s involvement in providing these trips for our judges,we found several additional universities and private, non-profit organizations participating in these efforts at both the state and federal level.  All but one are provided by conservative organizations, foundations or schools:

•    George Mason University(Law and Economics Center – LEC)   (Recipient of Koch funding totaling $20,297,143 from 1986-2006 ), Earhart Foundation, JM Olin Foundation.
•    Foundation for Research on Economics and Environment (FREE).  Funded by ExxonMobil, GE Foundation, Koch Family Foundation  ($1,305,500 through 2006), JM Olin Foundation, Earhart Foundation and Castle Rock Foundation (Coors). ($65,000 in 2009) and the Claude Lambe Foundation ($1,540,000).
•    Northwestern Law Judicial Education Program (funded by many key ALEC members, including Koch) .
•    Liberty Fund providing judicial conferences and seminars to/for Judges.
•    Federalist Society  (Koch funded   $1,437,200 through 2006)
•    Aspen Institute (Koch funded  $1,115,000 through 2006 with David Koch on the BOD).
•    University of Kansas, Law and Organizational Economics Center (LOEC) begun in 1995 by Henry Butler  with a $1,000,000 grant from the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation (see section on Henry Butler below).
•    International Judicial Academy which provides seminars for judges on the International level.

Supporters of the IJA have included; JEHT Foundation and Foundation to Promote Open Society.  JEHT Foundation ceased to operate in 2009 due to the Madoff ponzi scheme where their money was invested.  Foundation to Promote Open Society gets some of their principal funding from George Soros. Much of their contributions and donations received – along with their expenditures – are to/from other countries and include non-Soros’ funding.If you would like to know if a specific federal judge has attended one or more of these seminars, please visit http://tripsforjudges.org/ where you can input a judge’s name and search by organization, foundation, etc.  This link is somewhat outdated and does not have current information for 2012, but much of the information is in there and worth a look.

Other organizations provide judicial “training” to state and federal judges, but the foregoing seven are those with ongoing regularly scheduled seminars and trips.  Some completely reimburse judges for travel, housing and food while others reimburse to a set amount (such as U of K’s LOEC that reimbursed state judges up to $500.00 cap for travel).

The funding for six of the seven providing such judicial trips are funded with money from one or more of the Koch controlled family foundations.  In addition many known conservative foundations also fund these trips and seminars for judges, including; John M. Olin Foundation, Inc., M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Castle Rock Foundation, Claude Lambe Foundation (Koch controlled) and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.

A sampling of topics presented in the seminars to these judges – state and federal – include; environment, takings laws (imminent domain), economics, tort reform, juror selection and jury decision making, The presentations are made by speakers from various colleges, universities and of greater importance from corporate CEO’s and executives representing Shell Oil and other major ALEC member corporations.  In addition many of the presentations are made by those representing; Heritage Foundation,  American Enterprise Institute, National Center for Policy Analysis, George Mason University, Brookings Institute and several other mostly conservative entities.

Trip/seminar funding listed by George Mason University include most of ALEC’s for profit corporate members, and the non-profits that fund ALEC – and most have ties to the Koch and related foundations previously mentioned.  (Those in bold are known ALEC/Koch benefactors, affiliates or corporate members). These funders are:

3M (former ALEC member)
Abbott Laboratories  (ALEC member)
Aequus Institute
Armstrong Foundation  (ALEC funding source)
AT&T (ALEC Member)
Atlas Economic Research Foundation
Batchelder III, Hon. William G. (current Speaker of the Ohio House)
Batchelder, Hon. Alice M. (Chief Judge, United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit)
BP America, Inc. (ALEC member)
Brunswick Corporation
Castle Rock Foundation (Coors, ALEC funder)
Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation (ALEC Funding)
CIGNA Corporation (ALEC affiliated through Nickles Lobby firm)
Coca-Cola Company (former ALEC member)
Commonwealth of VA Tax Donations
Cortopassi Institute
Dow Chemical Company  (ALEC member)
Earhart Foundation
Exxon Mobil Corporation (ALEC member)
FedEx Corporation (ALEC member)
General Motors Corporation (ALEC member)
Gillette Company
Goodrich Foundation
John M. Olin Foundation
John William Pope Foundation
Johnson & Johnson (ALEC member)
Lilly Endowment, Inc. (ALEC member [Eli Lilly parent])
Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
Oblon, Spivak, McClelland, Maier & Neustadt (Koch Ind. Patent Atty)
Pepsico Inc. (former ALEC member)
Pfizer, Inc. (ALEC member)
Property and Casualty Ins. Ass.
Randolph Foundation
Roe Foundation
Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Inc.
Sarah Jane Humphreys Foundation, Inc.
Sarah Scaife Foundation, Inc.
Searle Freedom Trust
Sharp Foundation
Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation
Shell Oil Company (ALEC member)
State Farm Insurance Companies (ALEC member)
Sunmark Foundation
U.S. Chamber of Commerce (ALEC member and joint amicus brief filings)
Unilever United States, Inc. (former ALEC member)
Verizon Communications (ALEC member)
William E. Simon Foundation
J.P. Humphreys Foundation

And when we researched Northwestern Law’s Judicial Education Seminars we found many of the same funding sources:

American Petroleum Institute (ALEC affiliate)
AT&T Inc. (ALEC member_
Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation
 (ALEC benefactor/member)
Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
Exxon Mobil Corporation (ALEC member)
LyondellBasell Industries (ALEC member)
McDonald’s Corporation (former ALEC member)
Microsoft Corporation (ALEC member)
Pfizer Inc. (ALEC member)
Searle Freedom Trust (ALEC affiliate – Heritage Foundation funder)
Shell Oil Company (ALEC member)
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (ALEC member)
The Dow Chemical Company (ALEC member)
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation (ALEC/Koch affiliate & funding)
U.S. Chamber of Commerce (ALEC affiliate and joint amicus brief filings)

Here is a picture from FREE’s 2007 website that listed their funding sources for the judicial education program:free 2007 funding

Again, we see many of the same sources that are funding GMU and Northwestern University’s programs.  Note the corporate donors are all ALEC members – or were in 2007 – and the $100,000 annual contribution from the Koch’s Claude Lambe Foundation.

In 2006 federal courts began requiring that all “seminars” provided to judges had to be reported.  The reports required submission of the organization providing the seminars, topics presented and the name and organization presenting, where the funding came from for each.  A current listing of seminars held and reported to the US court since 2009 is found here.  As you’ll find if you visit, there are page after page of such seminars directed at “educating” our judges – state and federal.  Each one has basically the same funders, presenters, and you’ll also see that in many cases funding is provided by federal judges and their wives for these events.

The FREE foundation was uncomfortable filing such reports with the court system, so after we exposed them in 2010-2011, FREE decided to stop dedicating their seminars to judges.  Now they provide the same seminars, with the same topics and presenters but provide that these are for “Religious Leaders”.  Judges are still free to attend these FREE seminars – but since FREE lists them as for Religious Leaders, there is no requirement to submit reports to the US court system about them…no list of benefactors, topics, presenters, attendees, etc.

George Mason, Northwestern, Liberty Fund all continue to report their judicial seminars to the federal court as required.  FREE is the only one to cease their reporting by now claiming that their seminars are no longer dedicated to judicial education – but the seminars are “still open to judges” that wish to attend.

As with the ALEC model legislation, many of the titles provided for the topics covered in these judicial seminars are worded innocuously so they sound non-partisan and beneficial to the public as a whole.  We learned with ALEC to be suspicious of the wording of their proposed legislation and look instead to the content.  One has to do the same with the titles of the seminars and subjects listed for educating judges.  Below are just a few.  Those in bold are known ALEC/Koch affiliates:

Center for the Constitution at Montpelier June and December 2010 (Funder: Robert H. Smith)The Future of Executive Authority
Historical Context of the Constitution Related to Modern Technology
Future of the Fourth Amendment
Bioengineering and the Future of 14th Amendment Personhood

Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment August 2011 (funded by MJ Murdock Charitable Trust)
Taking the Long View of Progress

Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment July 2010 (funded byMJ Murdock Charitable Trust)

George Sack (John Hopkins University)
Addiction: A Disease of the Brain or a Disorder of Choice?

Sally Satel (American Enterprise Institute)
Delusions and Dreams vs. Consumer Driven Health Care

Regina Herzlinger (Harvard Business School)
Foundations for Understanding Health Care Policy

Regina Herzlinger (Harvard Business School)
Genetics and the Future of Medicine

Raymond Gesteland (University of Utah)
Genetics and the Future of Medicine

George Sack (John Hopkins University)
Information, Incentives & Health Care Decision Making

John Goodman (National Center for Policy Analysis)
Perspecives from a Medical Entrepreneur

George Herzlinger (Belmont Instrument Corporation)
Potentials for Policy Reform

John Goodman (National Center for Policy Analysis)
Potentials for Policy Reform

Regina Herzlinger (Harvard Business School)
Practical Problems with Organ Donation

Sally Satel (American Enterprise Institute)
Reflection on Science and Policy

Raymond Gesteland (University of Utah)
Reflection on Science and Policy

Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment August 2010 (funded by MJ Murdock Charitable Trust – Seminar title: Terrorism, Civil Liberty and National Security [08/08/2010 – 08/12/2010] (continued))

James Carafano (The Heritage Foundation)
Cyber-Screwed- Why We Can’t Fight Cyber-terrorism

James Carafano (The Heritage Foundation)
The Unhappy Marriage: Civil-Military Discord in Fighting Terrorism

Charles Fried (Harvard Law School)
Sunni and Shi’a: There Are Differences and Why They Matter

Richard Stearns (United States District Court)
Terrorism and the Allocation of Public Resources

Richard Stearns (United States District Court)
The Limits of Law- The Necessity of Executive Disobedience

Charles Fried (Harvard Law School)
The Limits of Law- The Necessity of Executive Disobedience

George Mason University Law & Economics Center
Seminar title: Economics Institute for Judges, Week 2 [03/10/2012 – 03/16/2012] Funded by xyz corp.

Todd Zywicki (George Mason University School of Law)
Mortgage Markets

Todd Zywicki (George Mason University School of Law)
On the Efficiency of the Common Law

Todd Zywicki (George Mason University School of Law)
The Not-So-Good Old Days of Consumer Credit

Henry N. Butler (George Mason University School of Law)
Economic Thinking

Henry N. Butler (George Mason University School of Law)
Economics of Insurance

Henry N. Butler (George Mason University School of Law)
Law & Economics in the Courts

Henry N. Butler (George Mason University School of Law)
Supply, Demand & Mutually Beneficial Exchange

Northwestern Law Judicial Education Program Seminar title: Advanced Law and Economics Institute: Environmental Economics [09/21/2009 – 09/23/2009]

Funders
American Petroleum Institute
AT&T Inc.
Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation
Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
Exxon Mobil Corporation
LyondellBasell Industries
McDonald’s Corporation
Microsoft Corporation
Pfizer Inc.
Searle Freedom Trust
Shell Oil Company
State Farm Mutual Automobil Insurance Company
The Dow Chemical Company
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Speakers/Topics

Henry Butler (Northwestern University School of Law)
Environmental Federalism

Henry Butler (Northwestern University School of Law)
Externalitites

Henry Butler (Northwestern University School of Law)
Markets in Action

Henry Butler (Northwestern University School of Law)
Review of Economic Concepts: Incentives Matter

Northwestern Law Judicial Education Program
Seminar title: Economics Institute for Judges [10/11/2009 – 10/16/2009]

Henry Butler (Northwestern University School of Law)
Corporate Governance

Henry Butler (Northwestern University School of Law)
Economic Evidence

Henry Butler (Northwestern University School of Law)
Forensic Economics

Henry Butler (Northwestern University School of Law)
Information and Prices, Allocative Efficiency, Equilibrium

Henry Butler (Northwestern University School of Law)
Principal-Agent Problems and Contracting

Henry Butler (Northwestern University School of Law)
Risk, Injury, and Liability

Henry Butler (Northwestern University School of Law)
Scarcity, Mutually Beneficial Exchange, Comparative Advantage

George Mason University Law & Economics Center
Seminar title: The Strategic Constitution [10/21/2009 – 10/24/2009]

Robert Cooter (Boalt Hall School of Law, Univ of CA, Berkeley)
The Strategic Constitution

George Mason University Law & Economics Center
Seminar title: Economic Analysis of Law [11/06/2009 – 11/12/2009

Charles Goetz (University of Virginia School of Law)(Member American Family Business Foundation)
Analyzing Human Choice

Henry Manne (George Mason University School of Law (Emeritus)
Corporate Law

William Landes (University of Chicago Law School)
Economic Structure of Tort Law

Charles Goetz (University of Virginia School of Law)
Fairness vs Efficiency

William Landes (University of Chicago Law School)
Intellectual Property

William Landes (University of Chicago Law School)
Negligence, Strict Liability and Causation

Charles Goetz (University of Virginia School of Law)
Rivalrous and Risky Decisions

Charles Goetz was a signatory to Milton Friedman’s letter: “Top Economists Agree: It’s Time to Repeal the Death Tax!” letter sent under the letterhead of the American Family Business Foundation in 2001.  Other signatories included ALEC, Jonathan Williams (ALEC), Art Laffer (ALEC Scholar), Henry N. Butler (review of the US Court’s Seminar reports linked to above, reveals that Butler is a frequent speaker at most of the seminars given to judges).  His credentials vary, sometimes listing him as GMU School of Law, Northwestern U’s School of Law, etc.It is important to know who these people are who are lecturing our judiciary.  Let’s look closer at Henry N. Butler.  As noted above, Butler founded the University of Kansas’ Law and Organizational Economics Center (LOEC) in 1995 with a $1,000,000 grant from the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation.  Here is more on Butler from Wiki:

Henry N. Butler (born c. 1955) is an American professor of law, economics, and public policy. He currently serves as the executive director of the Searle Center at the George Mason University’s School of Law. He formerly served as the Director of the Judicial Education Program at the American Enterprise Institute-Brookings Institution Joint Center for Regulatory Studies. Butler is a conservative and a supporter of free markets with little regulation; he has acted as an expert witness in a legal cases involving antitrust, restrictive covenants, damages, joint ventures, and other issues.Butler ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia’s 11th congressional district in the 1992 elections; he lost the general election to Democrat Leslie L. Byrne.

Butler received his Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from the University of Richmond in 1977. He then attended Virginia Tech, where he earned a Master of Arts in 1979 and a Ph.D. in 1982. There he studied under Nobel Economics Laureate James M. Buchanan. Butler received his Juris Doctor law degree from the University of Miami School of Law in 1982, where he was a John M. Olin Fellow in Law and Economics.

Butler spent three years at Texas A&M as an assistant professor of management before becoming a John M. Olin Fellow in Law and Economics at the University of Chicago Law School during the 1985-86 academic year. From 1986 to 1993, Butler was a professor at George Mason University School of Law. After 1992 Butler was a Fred C. and Mary R. Koch Distinguished Professor of Law and Economics at the University of Kansas School of Law and School of Business, and for a short time served as dean of the Chapman University, Argyros School of Business and Economics and Chairman of the Chapman University Law and Organizational Economics Center before moving to Chapman in 2001.

Butler has been involved in the political and legal spheres. While at George Mason University, he served as director of the Law and Economics Center at the George Mason University School of Law, which operates the Economics Institutes program for federal judges, which is controversial. In December 1995, Butler introduced the Economics Institute for State Judges at the University of Kansas’ Law and Organizational Economics Center.

Butler has written extensively on law and economics. He has written a casebook, Economic Analysis for Lawyers (with Christopher Drahozal, Carolina Academic Press), used at the Economics Institute for State Judges. Other books by Butler include Unhealthy Alliances: Bureaucrats, Interest Groups, and Politicians in Health (1994,American Entreprise Institute) The Corporation and the Constitution (with Larry E. Ribstein; 1995, American Entreprise Institute); and Using Federalism to Improve Environmental Policy (with Jonathan R. Macey; 1996, American Entreprise Institute).

Butler serves on the Legal Advisory Council of the AEI Legal Center for the Public Interest and the Advisory Board of the Atlantic Legal Foundation.

Butler has been cited (report to the Kansas Insurance Commission) in key reports involving insurance and spoken to the Federal Trade Commission on economic issues.University of Kansas, School of Law…”a Fred C. and Mary R. Koch Distinguished Professor of Law and Economics at the University of Kansas School of Law.  Know who else is now advocating “Excellence in Advocacy” at U of K’s School of Law?  Shook, Hardy and Bacon – the law firm that advances ALEC’s “Tort Reform” model legislation through the Civil Justice Task Force.  The CJTF is directed by Victor Schwartz of SHB, and another SHB attorney sits as the CJTF “Advisor” – Mark Behrens.

Here’s a picture of Victor Schwartz of SHB giving a presentation on Tort Reform to ALEC’s Civil Justice Task Force working group in 2010 in San Diego:

Schwartz at ALEC TF Meeting in SD

Today as yesterday, pictures say a lot…here are three pictures of Henry Butler.  In the first, he’s speaking at ALEC’s 2010 Meeting in San Diego, CA.  In the second he is speaking at a Searle Center judicial seminar in 2010 and in the third are judges sitting in attendance at that seminar…

Henry Butler speaks at ALEC

Henry Butler speaks at Searle Economics Institute seminar

Judges at Searle 2010 Butler Seminar

Another frequently used speaker at these judicial education seminars is Todd Zywiki, professor at GMU.  Here is Zywiki’s bio provided by the FREE Foundation where Zywiki sits upon their Board of Directors:

Todd J. Zywicki is Professor of Law at George Mason University School of Law ands Co-Editor of the Supreme Court Economic Review.  From 2003-2004, Professor Zywickiserved as the Director of the Office of Policy Planning at the Federal Trade Commission. He has also taught at Vanderbilt University Law School, Georgetown University Law Center, Boston College Law School, and Mississippi College School of Law.Professor Zywicki clerked for Judge Jerry E. Smith of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and worked as an associate at Alston & Bird in Atlanta, Georgia, where he practiced bankruptcy and commercial law. He received his J.D. from the University of Virginia, where he was executive editor of the Virginia Tax Review and John M. Olin Scholar in Law and Economics. Professor Zywicki also received an M.A. in Economics from Clemson University and an A.B. cum Laude with high honors in his major from Dartmouth College.

Professor Zywicki is a Senior Scholar of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Senior Fellow of the James Buchanan Center, Program on Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, at George Mason University, a Senior Fellow of the Goldwater Institute, and a Fellow of the International Centre for Economic Research in Turin, Italy.  During the Fall 2008 Semester Professor Zywicki was the Searle Fellow of the George Mason University School of Law and was a 2008-09 W. Glenn Campbell and Rita Ricardo-Campbell National Fellow and the Arch W. Shaw NationalFellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace.

Professor Zywicki is the author of more than 60 articles in leading law reviews and peer-reviewed economics journals.  He is one of the Top 50 Most Downloaded Law Authors at the Social Science Research Network, both All Time and during the Past 12 Months.  Heserved as the Editor of the Supreme Court Economic Review from 2001-02.  Hehas testified several times before Congress on issues of consumer bankruptcy law and consumer credit and is a frequent commentator on legal issues in the print and broadcast media, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, andThe Laura Ingraham Show.  He is a contributor to the popular legal weblog The Volokh Conspiracy and The Atlantic Business Channel of The Atlanticmagazine.

Professor Zywicki is a member of the Governing Board and the Advisory Council for the Financial Services Research Program at George Washington University School of Business, the Executive Committee for the Federalist Society’s Financial Institutions and E-Commerce Practice Group, the Advisory Council of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Program Advisory Board of the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment.  He is currently the Chair of the Academic Advisory Council for the following organizations: The Bill of Rights Institute, the film “We the People in IMAX,” and the McCormick-Tribune Foundation “Freedom Museum” in Chicago, Illinois.  He serves on the Board of Directors of the Bill of Rights Institute and in 2005 he was elected an Alumni Trustee of the Dartmouth College Board of Trustees.

Federal Judge Jerry E. Smith that Zywiki clerked for, attended many of the GMU and FREE trips and seminars: http://tripsforjudges.org/….  Click on judges, select Jerry E. Smith and look for yourself: trips and seminars from FREE, Liberty Fund, Federalist Society, etc.  Here’s a partial screen shot of some of his attendance:Judge Jerry Smith trips for judges screen shot

The Chairman of FREE is John Baden.  Baden and FREE are not only important as a part of programming our judges, he has shown he has great influence at the SCOTUS level as well (remember I began this with a segment on the use of Amicus briefs used at the federal and SCOTUS levels of our judiciary).  Here is Baden, his wife and FREE’s Associate Director Pete Geddes with Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas at a Heritage Foundation President’s dinner:

SCOTUS Thomas at Heritage Presidential Dinner

Here is a muckety chart showing the connections between Justice Thomas and the Koch cabal…

Harlan R. Crow affiliations

Notice that near the center of this graph, you find beside Thomas: Charles G. Koch foundation, Searle Freedom Trust, American Enterprise Institute, Coors and Castlerock Foundation, Scaife Foundation, Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and from there it widens out to include most of the cabal organizations, foundations and individuals involved.

In this graph, you’ll find the connections between Justice Thomas’ law clerk, Naomi Rao and other organizations. (RAO was a witness against the confirmation of Justice Sonia Sotomayor – and links to the Bush administration:

Neomi Rao

Much of the policy, legislation and resolutions the seminars provide to judges are based upon pro-corporate pursuit and are/were financially beneficial to not only the Koch brothers (personally), but to ALEC’s corporate membership; ExxonMobil, AT&T, Koch Industries, PhRMA, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson and Johnson, their Insurance company members, etc.  Not only is Koch’s interests and that of the corporate members assisted through this form of judicial influence, but also other Conservative “foundations” which help fund the cabal’s overall “free market” pursuits.

Arguments that “we’re only doing what other bi-partisan organizations are doing” is bullshit.  As the above demonstrates, all of this is being done to advance an agenda that is totally partisan and dedicated to the views and positions held by one political group – a minority view.  This is how the conservative faction has become able to successfully pursue their vision of democracy and America over the objections raised by the majority.  We now can clearly see all their activities; the model legislation, resolutions, judicial and legislative influences and the corruption bought through campaign contributions.  It all has a purpose, design and end goal…none of which any of us as true Americans will accept or condone.  One glaring example of their pursuits and influence is demonstrated by looking at the Citizen’s United SCOTUS decision and how that has benefited the GOP party – and in particular the conservative faction of that party owned, operated and controlled by the likes of Grover Norquist and Karl Rove.  Look what has happened in America since that single SCOTUS decision brought to us in part through the cooperation of Thomas, Scalia and Alito – all with ties to the Federalist Society and Koch money.

Between ALEC’s Federal Forum Task Force, their Amicus Project and these seminars, our federal judiciary is continuously “educated” in the ways of the cabal and the pro-corporate positions advanced.  At the core of these efforts are several key players; the Koch brothers (obviously), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, George Mason University, Heritage Foundation and Mackinac Center, etc.  The tools used include not just pro-corporate seminars and filing briefs to the same judges – it also includes placement of key “clerks” and “interns” close to these judges and SCOTUS.  With the constant pressure, influence and being in close proximity to individuals representing the cabal, the trend of our courts to lean to the right in many of their decisions and opinions is not surprising.  What is surprising is the fact that all of this has been ongoing for decades and operating quietly under the radar of us all.  They have been so successful that by 2012 this has become the “norm” for political and judicial reporting.  Too many of our large media outlets are now compromised and for those of us operating in “alternative” media outlets, our audiences simply are not large enough to have a substantial impact.  This all works to the benefit of the cabal – who collectively now own or control more than 85% of the US news outlets.

We can ill afford to allow this status quo to continue.  VLTP and our Abolish ALEC group on DK have worked for months on end to research, compile and prepare these investigative reports for Daily Kos readers and Progressive voters.  It is important to make this material available to all – yes, even Republicans who are blissfully unaware of the corrupt influences such as those described above, being wielded under the GOP banner, should be made aware and forced to make a choice as our country moves forward.

In upcoming segments we’ll introduce many to the cabal’s involvement with foreign government representatives (without the knowledge of those nations) to develop U.S. policies and laws…and we’ll provide a true and accurate comparison between the NCSL and ALEC.

Be sure and visit our website at www.vltp.net for the latest news, articles and opinions on ALEC and the cabal.  If interested in research interning, send us an email through the website.  If you have information, ideas or documents, contact us through the website and let’s all work together to disinfect ALEC and the cabal and remove them from our democracy altogether.

Sierra Club Releases “Clean Energy Under Siege” Report – ALEC Responds

VLTP Special Report By Bob Sloan

Last Friday, the Sierra Club released a report on clean energy that was critical of the efforts of what has become known as the ALEC Koch led “Cabal.”  One article on this provided a rundown of key points released in the report.  These include:

  • Growth in clean energy in has made it a threat, and therefore a target from “oil, coal, and gas interests.”
  • Those interests have launched a coordinated and well-funded, multi-pronged assault at the federal level (e.g., Congressional attacks on the Production Tax Credits, harping on theSolyndra non-“scandal”), as well as in the states, by groups like the dirty-energy-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which “provide[s] state lawmakers with ‘model legislation’ that will carry out the goals of its corporate members.”
  • Many of the self-appointed “experts” and anti-clean-energy groups “masquerade as think tanks,” (Heartland, Heritage, Mackinac and Manhattan Institute) maintaining a veneer of impartiality while being funded by oil and gas interests – people like the Koch brothers (ALEC member), etc.
  • The oil and gas message is now focused on touting the benefits of fossil fuels – including a veritable fountain of cheap natural gas from hydrofracking – while constantly pushing out tired and inaccurate lines about clean energy being too expensive, unworkable because of intermittency, and the like.”

The report cites Exxon as contributing heavily to “think tanks” pumping out false science claims about renewable energy and our environment:

“Exxon (an ALEC member) has contributed more than $600,000 since 1998 to the Manhattan Institute, and approximately $676,500 since 1998 to the Heartland Institute…”

It also provides a primary reason why such contributions are helping oil and gas companies prevent clean energy efforts from taking hold – and just why our Congress seems so ineffective in legislating anything involving gas, oil and renewable energies:

“The oil and gas industries contributed to 387 — or 88 percent — of all members of the House of Representatives in the 2010 election cycle. The industry also contributed to 89 out of 100 senators. In both chambers of Congress combined, Republicans received 86 percent of all oil and gas donations.”

Seeing their name mentioned in this report on Friday, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) immediately released a response to the Sierra Club’s findings on Saturday.  In their response, ALEC began by saying they support renewable energy as does many of their members…

“ALEC has state legislative members that are very supportive of the renewable energy industry.  In addition, ALEC has private sector members that represent renewable energy technologies and even more private sector members that work with and supply products and services to the renewable industry as whole.”

However the next paragraph “explains” ALEC’s position on renewable energy…

“ALEC’s stance on renewable energy has been very clear. ALEC believes that free markets in energy produce more options, more energy, lower prices and less economic disruptions. Also, ALEC believes that mandates to transform the energy sector and use renewable energy sources place the government in the unfair position of choosing winners and losers, keeping alive industries that are dependent on special interest lobbying. ALEC opposes mandates and therefore opposes infighting among fuel sources. ALEC also believes that government programs designed to encourage and advance energy technologies should not reduce energy choices or supply. They should not limit the production of electricity, for example, to only politically preferable technologies.”

No denial of the involvement of the Koch brothers, or campaign contributions by them and ExxonMobil.  No denial of their influences in our Congress or upon members of either house as Sierra claimed.  Research over the past few years has shown that when it comes to “special interest lobbying” ALEC itself is the leader in that category.

Further down, ALEC went on to claim:

“Sloppy research, half-truths and fabrications are found throughout the Sierra Club report. The report shows the very partisan approach and, unfortunately careless, nature behind the Sierra Club’s publications. It is important to point out some the glaring errors regarding the references to ALEC and the Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force within ALEC.”

These are similar claims ALEC has made regarding the very public exposure they have been receiving due to extensive research and fact checked disclosures that have been in the news over the past 18 months.  In dozens of articles published by ALEC and think tanks mentioned in the Sierra Club report (and others) they have accused “leftists, Liberals and Progressives” of leading an uncalled for attack upon ALEC and the cabal.  However, in each case the documentation, model bills, reports and articles published about them have been found to be accurate and well supported, resulting in 40 corporations, private foundations and more than 50 legislators to resign from ALEC.  Led by the Center for Media and Democracy’s “ALEC Exposed” and the efforts of other national and  activist organizations – including Occupy groups – researchers have published hundreds of informative and factual articles and reports to the public.  In April of last year more than 800 pieces of until then hidden ALEC model “bills” were turned over by a whistleblower and publicized by CMD and the Nation Magazine.

“Sloppy research, half-truths and fabrications” are what ALEC and the Koch-led cabal operate upon, not the Sierra Club, SourceWatch, CMD, Occupy or other organizations making the actions and activities of ALEC public.  Examples of this are seen in the Sierra report:

“In May, ALEC invited a Who’s Who of anti-clean energy advocates to a meeting in Charlotte to plot strategy. The Heartland Institute was there, even after its internal documents had been exposed and the damage of its self-inflicted wound with the Unabomber billboard had been done. The field general for the Koch brothers, Americans for Prosperity, was there. The first-string squad for the anti-clean energy team was suited up and on the field….

In response to this claim, ALEC did not bother to deny it – just “falsely” claiming it was false – then saying:

Fact Check: This is demonstrably false.  The American Legislative Exchange Council has three conferences a year for its members to discuss pressing public policy issues affecting the states. One of these three conferences is our Spring Task Force Summit which was held in Charlotte, NC on May 11-12.  Our private sector members who attended this conference consist of a wide variety of industries including renewable energy companies. Our agenda for the meeting covered many topics that are of interest to our state legislators from agriculture policy, smart grid deployment and what causes gas prices to streamlining permits for solar installations.”

Did they deny the Heartland Institute was there?  That Americans For Prosperity was there?  That the agenda did not include anti-clean energy advocates?  No, they just attempted to water it down by claiming they discussed many topics of interest to their legislative and private sector members.

The report identified Todd Wynn as ALEC’s staffer (actual title is Director) of their Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force  and gave a history of Wynn’s past affiliations:

“…The staffer behind ALEC’s energy task force is Todd Wynn. Wynn’s resume is a journeyman’s travelogue through the world of ultra-conservative advocacy. Wynn’s opposition to wind energy is well documented from his time with the Cascade Policy Institute….While with Cascade, Wynn wrote reports with titles like, “The Dirty Secret Behind Clean Jobs” and “Renewable Energy Failure: Why Government Mandates Don’t Work and What They Will Do to Our Economy.” Before that, he worked for another “free market think tank,” the American Tradition Institute (ATI).”

ALEC’s response?

“Fact Check: Mr. Wynn has never been on the staff at the American Tradition Institute. He like many of the other fellows of ATI serves in an unpaid advisory capacity to the ATI staff”

No denial about;  Wynn’s control of the ALEC Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force, didn’t deny his previous position with Cascade Policy Institute, the reports written by Wynn or his previous affiliation with the ATI.  No, their response was limited to “…Wynn has never been on the staff” of ATI, instead he’s just an “unpaid fellow” that served in the capacity of advisor to ATI staff.  Possibly Wynn was then “underpaid” for his valuable anti-renewable energy work while at ATI.

As with nearly every press release, claim, false denial or other response to the articles and reports critical of ALEC, the organization once again responded with several paragraphs of double talk and unsupported denials.  Whereas the Sierra Club report is well documented with 94 end notes supporting their claims.  ALEC’s response had…0 facts, no foot or end notes or links to where a reader could find where their claims or denials were substantiated.

Conclusion:  the Sierra Club has accurately identified the problem, the players involved with ALEC, the agenda of this cabal and how many of our Congressional officials are helping them to enrich the oil and gas companies and maintain their stranglehold on consumers’s dollars at the pump and our tax dollars paid out in needless and expensive government subsidies.

The foregoing helps us understand why it has been so difficult to separate the oil and gas companies from ALEC.  They cherish the power and influence they are able to wield upon state and federal lawmakers through their membership in ALEC.  They aren’t as worried about their “brand” as Kraft, Coke and Pepsi were when they quit ALEC.  When it comes to the oil companies, we are so dependent upon them for our fuel needs, they believe we’ll buy it because we have no other choice.  That is why it is so important to push for renewable energy and break the stranglehold upon us that ALEC has given them…and above all, understand that any press release, statements or claims coming from ALEC and their sycophantic cabal members are well thought out and designed to misinform and help them succeed in their conservative agenda.

The fact that global warming is real and oil companies and manufacturers are helping to further increase pollution, bringing us to the point of no-return – where the harm done becomes irreversible – has become undeniable.  This summer’s national drought has demonstrated this better than any report could ever do, with Americans from coast to coast experiencing the very real effects of climate change first hand and personally.  It’s time all of us begin to understand that the arguments put forth by the Koch/ALEC Cabal are nothing more than hollow words meant to distract us from realizing they will sacrifice us all – and the very planet – in pursuit of continued enrichment.  They simply must be stopped!

ALEC Protecting GMO Pollution Through Legislation

The act or process of polluting or the state of being polluted, especially the contamination of soil, water, or the atmosphere by the discharge of harmful substances.

reduces the amount of any hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant entering any waste stream or otherwise released into the environment (including fugitive emissions) prior to recycling, treatment, or disposal; and reduces the hazards to public health and the environment associated with the release of such substances, pollutants, or contaminants.

To read the entire post from 2old2care, please click here

Tell Reckitt Benckiser – #DumpALEC

An article that brings up MANY excellent points

1.  …Now WE THE PEOPLE are taking to the free market

The Free market is a summary term for an array of exchanges that take place in society. Each exchange is undertaken as a voluntary agreement between two people or between groups of people represented by agents.

and our actions will hopefully lead to a reductions in expectations from ALEC Corporate Profit Sector members on their use of our legislators…

2.  But if the companies didn’t want to publicly support ALEC’s preferred policies, why were they supporting ALEC in the first place?

3.  Most of us have never heard of Reckitt Benckiser, but this may be a time to re-introduce ourselves to this Profit Sector Member of the American Legislative Exchange council (ALEC).  We were introduced to them in this story published by CMD: Kids Eating Rat Poison Is an “Acceptable Risk” for ALEC

To read about these an other insights from MNDem999, please click here

 

Clean-Energy Requirements Targeted by ALEC, Norquist

By Jim Snyder – Apr 23, 2012

Small-government groups including the American Legislative Exchange Council, whose advocacy for Florida’s Stand-Your-Ground law and other measures have drawn calls to revoke its tax-exempt status, are taking aim at state mandates requiring renewable energy use.

While environmentalists view the clean-energy standards as vital to reducing the country’s reliance on fossil fuels, groups like ALEC and the Grover Norquist-run Americans for Tax Reform say the mandates are a hidden tax on consumers and a drag on state economies.

To read more about ALEC’s latest threat, please click here

One of our VLTP members has already mad a very appropriate comment:  “Always Remember —The British East India Company Never Dies …It Merely Changes Its PR Firm …”