Tagged: vivian krause

Fair Earth

Showing, I suppose, how flexible Vivian Krause’s method of confirmation bias can be, it has been adapted to fish farming, tar sands oil and now rare earth elements by Sam Reynolds citing Krause’s work, in TechVibes.

The gist:

  1. The Intel Corporation seeks conflict-free tantalum for its products.
  2. The Moore Foundation, founded by one of Intel’s co-founders, has given grants to support reform in mining practices including grants to Canada.

Quicker than you can say ipso facto:

Though it is not conclusively proven, it may be the case that the Moore Foundation’s campaign to “reform” mining in British Columbia—by attempting to sour the political climate to further mining exploration and dragging out environmental assessment processes—is to protect the burgeoning American rare earth elements mining industry.

Yes, er, not “conclusively” proven. Quite the qualifier.

What’s missing…

  1. How these grants prevent expansion of tantalum mining in Canada. Given that their stated purpose is to reform mining practices, not stop it.
  2. How these grants are even related to tantalum mining rather than to mining generally.
  3. If there’s a link between the two beyond the original found (and this is never established), why the Moore Foundation would make it difficult for Intel to achieve its stated corporate strategy.
  4. Why attempt to obliquely thwart Canadian tantalum mining when it would be easier, more effective and lucrative for an American mining company to simply buy Canadian tantalum mines?

Fair questions not asked:

  • Where is tantalum mining centred in Canada? [Hint] [Hint]
  • Are there tantalum mines proposed for British Columbia? [Hint]
  • Is the proposed Blue River mine even in area covered by the grant? Here’s the boreal forest region as described by the Canadian Boreal Initiative.

canadas-boreal-2007

  • And here’s Blue River:
  • Does Pew fund mining reform in the United States? [Hint]

Other things I might have asked:

  • What’s the difference between a mine and a smelter?
  • Why the existence of the Canadian Boreal Initiative would prevent the construction of tantalum smelters in Canada, given they don’t actually need to be built beside a tantalum mine but could be constructed anywhere. Such as Pompano Beach, Florida or Goslar, Germany. Or outside the boreal forest zone.
  • Pondering the possibility that smelters in Pompano Beach, Florida or Goslar, Germany are smelting Canadian tantalum.
  • Pondering the possibility that Canadian mining companies can own mines in the United States.

Finally, given the above:

  • Why Canadians, and British Columbians in particular, should be concerned about any of this.

Greenwashing-ton: More U.S. interference in Canadian affairs

Leaving aside whether it’s fair to compare a fundraising dinner to a grant, and leaving aside whether $200,000 is indeed “the average grant” from U.S. based environmental foundations – especially since the Foundation Center reports “nearly half of family foundations (of the kind Krause like to target) reported less than $50,000 in giving in 2010“, and leaving aside whether the average size of U.S. environmental grants to Canadian based groups approaches the overall average, and leaving aside whether the Vancouver Aquarium is in some sort of fundraising difficulty…well there’s this….

In 2010 the Vancouver Aquarium’s top donor – of more than $500,000 – was the  Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

That’s the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation of New York City.

Why is a U.S. based philanthropic organization funding a Canadian aquarium? Surely that’s a fair question?

Wheels within wheels, my friends…wheels within wheels…

Insulting our intelligence

This following quote on the Northern Gateway Pipeline is great, not so much for the what is said rather than the who is saying it. It’s from Jeffrey Simpson:

What’s not standing in the way are U.S. environmentalists, whom the Harper government accused of being the principal reasons for the project’s problems. This wild statement was, then as now, completely at variance with reality, since British Columbians are hardly to be led around by their collective nose by a handful of folks from south of the border. To suggest otherwise is to insult their intelligence.

Subscribe. It’s the details that don’t hold up and the rhetorical excesses that get most of the attention, at least from this observer. But in essence even if you accepted the argument at face value, this whole “foreign meddling” and “greenwashing” charge is, at its heart, simply a deep insult to the intelligences of the majority of British Columbians.

Did you really think we were that weak-minded?

Vivian Krause. New platform, same tricks

Vivian Krause may have retired from blogging, but her Twitter account remains active. To whit:

That’s a link to David Horowitz’s book, The New Leviathan: How the Left-Wing Money-Machine Shapes American Politics and Threatens America’s Future. Horowitz is a bit of risky figure to attach oneself to, given he believes women are bad at math, every Palestinian is a Nazi and that his book is filled with factual and logical errors. But Krause doubles-down:

Alas, Horowitz doesn’t claim a billion dollars at “the Left’s” disposal, but is in fact backed by a near trillion-dollar treasury in America’s oldest and largest tax-exempt foundations, progressives outspend conservatives by a factor of seven to one. Oops, oh well. But note how typical this is of Krause, eliding assets with actual donations1. I suppose theoretically 14 Foundations do have a billion dollars in assets and if they decided to fold up shop and liquidate themselves en masse they could theoretically give a billion dollars to “the Left”. Which of course they would never do. In reality, the non-profit industry – whom I believe Krause is trying to narrowly restrict the debate too – contributed $17.5 million in the 2008 U.S. election. So only off by a factor of 58. It’s true that 78% went to the Democratic Party. So? People contribute to the party they feel will best represent their interests and the Democrats are ever so slightly more friendly to things non-profits consider important than the far-right circus the Republicans have become. Is this supposed to be shocking news?

But $13.6 million just doesn’t sound that scary, dammit, so better add up all the money these Foundations have including presumably the paper value of their office supplies and go with a billion dollars. Of course it would be equally fair of me to add up all the assets of conservative philanthropists Charles and David Koch down to the last paperclip and say these are assets available to conservatives. According to Forbes Magazine that would be $50 billion.

Horowitz claims, approvingly cited by Krause, that “the Right” have zero foundations on their side. Which is nonsense. 8 of the top 10 spending SuperPacs, 501c and 527 organizations identify as conservative, spending  [so far] $139.3m v. $38.9m for liberals in the 2012 election cycle.

And so far the Republicans have raised $435 million vs the Democrats $327 million. So much for progressives outspending conservatives by a factor of seven to one.

However, Horowitz’s book did get a very nice review from at least one reader:

“[A] deeply informed exposé of the powerful, very wealthy network of liberal foundations… read this and be afraid.

—Karl Rove

1 Which is a step up, I suppose, from conflating general expenses with payroll.

Farewell Questions

Vivian Krause is calling it a day. In her words it’s time to get a paying job. I’ve never met the woman, but even critics concede she is likeable on a personal level. So I wish her well in that.

I’ve never been concerned with Krause’s funding, though I note the irony that the first apparent act in her post-pundit career is to appear at the Inuvik Petroleum Show. Nor the veracity of her “facts”. And by that I mean the financial numbers that form the basis of her work. Instead I’ve focused on how she’s spun those facts (before it became trendy I might add) – taking the ordinary, ignoring the simplest most rational explanation, and spinning them into the extraordinary and illogical. Nor have I been impressed by the claims that holding her theories up to scrutiny are “personal attacks” or “hatchet jobs”. That’s a real “tell” that someone is uncomfortable with defending their work and is trying to change the channel.

I’m not sure what her personal politics are, but she has been embraced by the hard right and fronts for the petroleum industry (Ed. note: Can you see the difference? I can’t see the difference!) in this country and her work is being used by power to stifle debate and not, as some of her allies spin it, open it. That has always been my concern, and my motive for examining her work. Not being a mind reader I cannot know her true motivations, but if she is sincere I would hope that what has been the real-world result of her “exposés” has given her pause and played a part in her decision to move on.

But I’m a dreamer, that way.

UPDATE: Please read Sandy Garossino’s outstanding piece.

Ms. Krause is tireless in her pursuit and review of mountains of data, and has found very interesting information. But her interpretation is deeply flawed. She is prone to making huge and unsupported conceptual leaps without rigorous critique, ending up with conclusions that just make no sense at all.

Compare, compare & contrast: The Great Green Conspiracy Edition, Pt XII

“When I go through tax returns, I try to find evidence to disprove my theory,” Krause said, adding that after several years of research, she is left wondering “whether American foundations paved [Robertson’s] path to power, in order to control the flow of Canada’s natural resources and trade to Asia, particularly oil.”

-Vivian Krause, Blogger: Tides Canada being reviewed by feds for alleged improper links to Vancouver mayoral campaign

Although the I try to find evidence to disprove my theory strongly suggests someone is starting with their conclusion first and works backwards, there’s, you know, this:

A huge pipeline spill has released 22,000 barrels of oil and water into muskeg in the far northwest of Alberta.

The spill ranks among the largest in North America in recent years, a period that has seen a series of high-profile accidents that have undermined the energy industry’s safety record.

Globe and Mail, May 30th, 2012

Why, oh why, would environmental groups be concerned about pipelines? It’s so unbelievable there must be some other rational explanation, like inserting a Manchurian Candidate for Mayor of Vancouver. A positions which holds no jurisdiction over waterways. [cough]

But, the piéce de resistance…

Do I have a conspiracy for you! Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson is acting on directions from American oil companies to block natural resource development in Canada. It must be true: blogger Vivian Krause has seen the tax records!…

…This would be simply pathetic if this line of kooky thinking hadn’t been picked up by our prime minister and his top ministers.

That would be Peter Ladner. Gregor Robertson’s opponent for Mayor in 2008.

Bonus:

[Tides Canada] gets 30% of its funding from international sources. The biggest amount it ever got, $27 million from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, was mostly spent on a joint provincial-federal-First Nations-industry-NGO planning process for the central coast region, now known as the Great Bear Rainforest. Yes, a federal partnership, with the feds themselves matching with $30 million and holding hands with Tides Canada.

Why are foreigners attempting to influence Canadian driving laws?

Formed in 1989, registered Canadian charity Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada is the sister organization of Mothers Against Drunk Driving USA. Since it’s inception, this “charity” has been attempting to influence the debate on Canada’s drinking and driving laws. After dogged research, I have uncovered circumstantial evidence that MADD Canada may be receiving funds that originate from the United States.

Unless you looked on their public website, you would never know that one of the chief sponsors of MADD Canada is the Allstate Insurance Corporation – the second-largest personal lines insurer in the United States. Why is this American insurance company attempting to sway opinion in Canada, you may ask? It’s clear that reducing the motor vehicle accident rate caused by drinking and driving brings financial benefits to Allstate in the form of reduced insurance payouts. Where do these savings go? No one knows. While true it’s the Canadian subsidiary of the American company, given the clear links between the two can we really be sure funds are not passed from the United States to Canada, funds that might end up in the coffers of MADD Canada?

It’s very suggestive of my belief they are acting out of a sense of patriotism to advance the American interest in Canada.

I want to be clear, I have nothing against drunk driving laws. But I think it’s very important that this debate around the costs and benefits of drunk driving is conducted by Canadians, and Canadians only.

Don’t you?

UPDATE: 30 seconds ago I emailed Allstate Canada CEO Michael J. Donoghue a set of fair questions asking if he could account for the apparent links between Allstate Canada and Allstate USA, whether he would submit to a forensic audit to determine if any monies from the American organization have come to Canada, and if those monies were then passed on to MADD Canada.

Tellingly, I have yet to receive a response.

The Conspiracy of Quack

Vivian Krause recycles another column for the National Post. Previously in response to another remarkably similar column I pointed out that Ducks Unlimited seemed to account for 65% of all foreign donations to Canadian environmental organizations. Perhaps Vivian read my missive because she gives Ducks Unlimited extra attention this time round. And corrects me. It’s actually 69%.

Of the $95-million, $65-million (69%) was reported by a single organization: Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC). That accounted for 34% of DUC’s total revenue for 2009 and 2010. “The majority of this funding has been used directly for on-the-ground projects for the protection and restoration of wetlands and associated habitats,” Ducks Unlimited said in an email.

It’s indeed a startling revelation to discover Ducks Unlimited puts most of it’s focus on habitats for ducks. But Ah hah, you say, there must be more to the story! There always is! Indeed:

Since 2000, the Philadelphia-based Pew Charitable Trusts has granted at least US$57-million to Ducks Unlimited USA for the Canadian Boreal Initiative and the International Boreal Conservation Campaign (ICBC).

This is classic Krause bait and switch. We move from one organization – Ducks Unlimited Canada – to donations made to 3 others. Obviously Ducks Canada and Ducks USA are sister organizations. Does Ducks USA financially support Ducks Canada? Not according to it’s annual report. Well, who supports Ducks Canada? Well, shadowy groups like…The Government of Canada, The Government of Alberta,The Government of British Columbia, The Government of Manitoba, The Government of New Brunswick, The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, The Government of the Northwest Territories, The Government of Nova Scotia, The Government of Nunavut, The Government of Ontario, The Government of Prince Edward Island, The Government of Québec, The Government of Saskatchewan, and The Government of Yukon.

Anyone else of note? Why yes, yes there is -> the EnCana Corporation, Suncor, Transcanada and Irving Oil are “Diamond Legacy” Supporters. Husky Energy is a “Platinum” legacy sponsor.

But there’s more right? Yes!

In 2009 alone, Pew granted US$11.2-million for the International Boreal Conservation Campaign (IBCC), which has called for a moratorium on new oilsands leases and project approvals.

At this point you might be excused for harbouring the thought “There probably isn’t any financial relationship between the International Boreal Conservation Campaign and Ducks Canada, is there?” to which I respond “You is learnin’”. They are partnered on some initiatives, but cooperating on X doesn’t mean they agree on Y. And the sinister Y, for Vivian Krause is this:

…the International Boreal Conservation Campaign (IBCC), which has called for a moratorium on new oilsands leases and project approvals.

Here we have more classic Krause…this is truncated info. The full story:

Implement a moratorium on new tar sands leases and project approvals until long-term mitigation strategies and conservation measures, including those contained in these recommendations, are in place.

So they would be fine with the development of the Tar Sands as long as there are appropriate environmental safeguards. And oh, no U.S. government subisidies for foreign oil producers.

Is the International Boreal Conservation Campaign Canadian or American? It isn’t listed under the Canadian Revenue Agency’s Charity Listings. It’s not listed with the IRS. The contact page on it’s website leaves only phone numbers. 2 are from Washington State. 1 is from Alberta. It looks like it’s not a charity, and is likely American.

Which begs the question why was it mentioned in an article on Canadian charities?

UPDATE: It seems the International Boreal Conservation Campaign also receives funding from the Prince Albert II Foundation. That would be Prince Albert II…of Monaco! What’s his angle? Are we looking at a ploy to place casinos in Canada’s north?

What about the Canadian Boreal Initiative? Other than having “Boreal” in the name, it doesn’t seem to have any financial ties to the International Boreal Conservation Campaign. Who does it have ties to? Well, it’s part of the Boreal Leadership Council. And who is on that? Why…Ducks Unlimited Canada!

AH HAH!

Also on the Boreal Leadership Council…Suncor. Oh. Indeed, for some reason Krause doesn’t mention this partnership between the Canadian Boreal Initiative and Suncor…some highlights:

Ducks Unlimited Canada: Suncor and the Suncor Energy Foundation are also working with Ducks Unlimited Canada to develop and provide information on the health and value of wetlands, hydrology and watershed function. The aim is to identify potential impacts that need to be addressed and the best means of doing so.

Caribou: Suncor and ConocoPhillips will invest up to $1.5 million in caribou habitat and population initiatives in the Little Smoky region of west central Alberta. Activities including restoration of old seismic lines and access roads were implemented in 2006; monitoring and research continue. These linear disturbances have enabled increased human encroachment in the area and may make it easier for wolves and other predators to access the caribou.

You mean the grand conspiracy actually seems to be Ducks Unlimited Canada working with some of the Tar Sands biggest oil companies?

Yes, it looks like it.

BONUS:

Krause then moves on to usual targets. It’s quite tedious. However, this is too precious to let pass:

With 251 employees and an annual payroll of $10-million in 2010, Tides Canada is a powerhouse. It has more than twice as many employees as the Vancouver-based Fraser Institute and the Vancouver Foundation combined.

There’s some problems here. First of all is so what? The United Way probably employs more people than Tides Canada, the Fraser Institute and the Vancouver Foundation put together. The second is she seems to have confused payroll with expenses. Tides Canada’s 2010 General Expenses were $10 million. Of those it’s staffing costs  – aka “payroll” – were $2.1 million. Third she neglects to mention, that while it only has 52 staffers, the Fraser Institute’s 2010 expenditures were also $10 million. How much of that is payroll I can’t say – the Fraser Institute is very miserly with the information it makes publicly available. However, I really can’t see its overhead for physical assets like office space being that much. Note to self: The pay is probably better at the Fraser Institute. Of interest: 9% of it’s revenues came from foreign sources.

And if we are going to play the guilt-by-association game, we could mention the Vancouver Foundation is a member of the German-based Transatlantic Community Foundation Network, which is an initiative of the German Bertelsmann Foundation, who hold 77% of Bertelsmann AG.

Who like to invest in privatized education, amongst other neoliberal things.

Quid pro quo whoa

Vivian Krause got a lot of [semi]-positive press this week. Of note, yesterday’s Globe article. But I’m going to begin with her January 7th article in the Vancouver Sun. First graf:

According to my analysis of Canadian tax returns, Canadian green groups get nearly $50 million in foreign funding every year.

A number is established – $50 million/yr. Next:

Ducks Unlimited Canada reported $65 million and Tides Canada reported $8.3 million in foreign funding for 2009 and 2010.

I’m not sure how the numbers break down exactly for the 2 years cited, but let’s assume a 50-50 split b/w 2009 and 2010 for Ducks Unlimited. My primitive math skills indicate this is $32.5 million per year. Or, put another way, Ducks Unlimited accounts for 65% of the $50 million of foreign funding of Canadian environmental groups each year. Quack quack!

But that’s just the nitty-gritty details that make it seem completely underwhelming. At heart, it’s this that is at the heart of Krause’s arguments:

The problem that I see with the foreign funding is that it is skewing the public debate because the American foundations are playing favourites, supporting only the Canadians whose position aligns with American interests.

What the “American interests” are and how they deviate from Canadian interests is never, of course, mentioned. Another way you could – accurately – phrase the above is this:

The problem that I see with environmental funding is that it is skewing the public debate because the Environmental foundations are playing favourites, supporting only the Environmental groups whose position aligns with Environmental interests.

But that’s no fun. Switching to the Globe article, there’s this:

Ms. Krause said she’d ultimately like to see the Gateway pipeline succeed, but after decisions made by Canadians alone.

Could it be Krause started with a conclusion and is working backwards? You see, I believe a lot of Vivian Krause’s objection flows from an assumption – that the objections to the Northern Gateway pipeline or fish farming are in part phoney-baloney. A cover for U.S. economic interests. This is never demonstrated, only implied.

Nor has she ever established a quid pro quo: that Canadian environmental groups held Position X before receiving U.S. based funding, and Position Y after. That would be a skewing of the debate. Instead, the simplest and most plausible explanation is ignored – that environmental groups hold their positions for environmental reasons. And, of course, foreign corporate interests interfering in the debate – whether they be Norwegian fishing conglomerates or Chinese oil companies – are never explored. (A very telling passage of her testimony to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources starts here)

She (and Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver) won’t, and can’t, argue on the merits of the science. So they attack from the sides.

At least she tries to distance herself from Ezra Levant’s “Ethical Oil” clown show.