It appears that at least some of the promoters of medicinal colloids are fronting Big Money operations that participate and profit from the debt-for-nature schemes. I was already aware that ‘alternative health’ circulars, particularly on the internet, were a pipeline for disinformation about coming catastrophes like the Bird Flu/Swine Flu Pandemic now upon us. One online magazine in particular that represents this activity is ‘the Natural News’ edited by ‘the Health Ranger’, Mike Adams. Mr. Adams lives in Vilcabamba Ecuador in a paradisical conservation zone that is part of the Andean corridor, an international use-limited area that is quickly maximizing its capacity for private ownership. Adams arranges ‘real estate’ tour trips around Vilcabamba in addition to major eco-tourism enterprises, but if you’re a buyer you’d better hurry up.
The Natural News is owned by Truth Publishing International, Ltd, a corporation chartered from Taichung, Taiwan, that also owns the News Target Network and a radio web, viewable here http://www.islaearth.org/community-action.php?page=49 The material from ‘Truth’ is indicative of interlocking relationships with Agora Publishing (or Agora Group) from Baltimore, Md., a large enterprise for international travel, real estate, investment, and health. Subsidiary, Health Sciences Institute (http://hsibaltimore.com) markets products from Northstar Nutritionals (www.northstarnutritionals.com) that has a few items to sell –like ‘Soothanol X2′ a DMSO/herbal tincture for pain relief, 1 fluid oz. at $49.95– but this appears to be mostly a business of information. Agora, a name taken from the Greek for ‘marketplace’, is first and foremost about making money with money. The owner/founders of Agora have invested deeply to profit from general and specific disasters like economic collapse and the Swine Flu Pandemic. One associate of Agora founder Bill Bonner, a Mr. Addison Wiggin who heads the multi-million dollar financial research, wrote “The Demise of the Dollar..and Why It’s Even Better for Your Investments” and issues special-reports to its membership like the “Single Best Way to Make Sure You’ll Never Run Out of Money” which appears to be a financial mechanism he calls “The Endless Paycheck Portfolio”.
I’ve a feeling this is just the tip of the iceberg in comprehending the business nature of Agora (see http://webindexnet.wordpress.com ); doubtlessly so in the scope of the debt-for-nature activity. According to the wikipedia, Vilcabamba Ecuador became a haven for international expatriates beginning in the 1960s as a community slowly took root there. By the 1990s, the native Ecuadorans themselves were forced to emigrate for lack of work (or finances), many resettling in Madrid Spain and No. America. Were these engineered real estate turnovers? Vilcabamba is a truly incredible location, poised below the reach of the Podocarpus National Park, one of the most bio-diverse and precious places on earth.
http://www.nature.org/wherewework/southamerica/ecuador/work/art5120.html (site of The Nature Conservancy, $5.42 billion in assets for 2007)
Bill Bonner, noted from the wiki link above, wrote in his book “Mobs, Messiahs and Markets” that “mass delusions are part of the human condition”. Capitalizing on them, after all, must be good business.
…and if you’re considering some Vilcabamba real estate, Mike Adams wants you to “get it” first by reading this, “Guiding Principles for People Looking for Vilcabamba, Ecuador Real Estate” http://www.greenlivingnews.com/1057_Vilcabamba_Ecuador.html If you ‘pass go’ here are some of the neighbors you’ll have in Vilcabamba http://newparadigmdigest.com/tag/entrepreneurs/ with their own contact info. Btw, I have no problem with ex-pats, I wish them blessed and happy lives. What interests me are the larger forces at work that make these situations appealing in the first place. It’s in everyone’s purview to have a high-quality life wherever and however they choose to live.
Agora Financial publishes a journal called The Daily Reckoning, editor Addison Wiggin, featuring contributions from ‘staff’ such as Lew Rockwell (LewRockwell.com), Gerald Celente (Trends Research) and Dr. Ron Paul (US Congress) http://dailyreckoning.com/cast-of-characters/ This group, and the extended arms of Agora, advocate nation-building investments in developing countries that often include international projects funded by US taxpayers. Non-profit Agora Partnerships USA, for example, uses ‘micro’ venture capital and US tax-paid grants to seed entrepreneurial programs abroad and build ‘sustainable economies’ for other countries. Agora Partnerships USA shares an office in Washington DC with USAID, United States Agency for International Development, and it’s TechnoServe program.
The same building hosts the Economic Research Services of the US Dept of Agriculture, it’s primary policy, financing and forecasting service for domestic and global planning. Agora appears to be well within the loop, so this is about far more than hiring a Health Ranger to gatekeep for Shangri-la.
USAID: http://www.state.gov/s/d/rm/rls/dosstrat/2004 “August 20, 2003 The Department of State and Agency for International Development (USAID) Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2004 to 2009 sets forth the Secretary of State’s direction and priorities for both organizations in the coming years. The Strategic Plan supports the policy positions set forth by President Bush in the 2002 National Security Strategy and presents how the Department and USAID will implement U.S. foreign policy and development assistance.”….
DEBT-FOR-NATURE, How It Works:
“Debt for Nature was developed by Dr. Thomas Lovejoy in 1987 during his work with the World Wildlife Fund. Environmental groups would purchase shaky foreign debt in the secondary market at the market rate, which would be considerably discounted, and then convert this debt at its face value into the local currency to purchase biologically sensitive tracts of land in the debtor nation for purposes of environmental protection. Most of the world’s largest rainforests are located in poor states such as Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia and Madagascar. ‘The first swap that happened was in 1987 between the Bolivian government and Conservation International’.
There are three main parties involved with a Debt for Nature swap: an international conservation organization, a domestic conservation organization, and a developing country’s government….The three most active international organizations, which are all based in the U.S., are Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund. The steps needed don’t vary much from state to state. The conservation organizations provide a proposal to the developing countries government, seeking an agreement. Once an agreement has been reached, they have the World Bank convert the state’s debt into the local currency. The currency is converted into bonds which go into an environmental trust…
The biggest thing once the agreement’s been reached is then their enforcement. The UN has the United Nations Environment Programme for Environmental Development. Their purpose is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring..informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. They are not an enforcement body, which means there is no international body enforcing the terms of the agreement. No one is there to ensure the developing states will keep their end of the agreement made. And even if there was, once the debt has been paid, the developing country can cut down the rainforests and not have to pay back the conservation organization that paid a portion of their debt…”
http://www.scribd.com/doc/15074774/Debt-for-Nature It should be made very clear that despite this last comment about a country cutting down the rainforests, the conservation organization owns the land, and it is they who may cut down trees or sell the property, depending on whatever discretionary agreements are arranged in the acquisition process.
“In Panama, CI worked with Novartis, Monsanto, and others, in ‘ecologically guided bioprospecting’ seeking pharmaceutical and agricultural products….In Surinam it cooperated with Bristol Meyers Squibb with its ethnobotanists collecting plant samples”….”A June 2003 report by Chiapas-based [social activism org] dubbed CI a Trojan Horse of the U.S. government and transnational corporations. It revealed that CI’s program of flyovers –part of their USAID-supported ‘environmental monitoring’ program– flew over areas occupied by Zapatista communities in planes which bore USAID markings…”
Three of CI’s main personalities:
*Peter A. Seligmann, co-founder, CEO and chairman http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Peter_A._Seligmann, merging ecology, banking and philanthropy
*Mr. Seligmann’s uncle, Henry H. Arnhold http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Henry_H._Arnhold, international banker, CFR member, 1937 German emigre who transferred his business to New York City –history of his banking firm here, Arnhold & S. Bleichroeder, Inc. http://www.asbai.com/firm_history.aspx which is a principal holder of George Soros’s Quantum Fund
*Russell A. Mittermeier, president http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Russell_A._Mittermeier, scientist, World Bank Task Force leader
World Wildlife Fund, founded Sep.11, 1961 in Switzerland
WWF is the world’s largest independent conservation organization, founded by Julian Huxley, Max Nicholson, Peter Scott and Guy Mountfort, who had decades of “experience linking progressive intellectuals with business interests..” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Wildlife_Fund. In 1986 it changed its name to World Wildlife Fund for Nature and issues two yearly publications of the “Living Planet Report”.
Listed at http://www.worldwildlife.org/who/board/index.html :
*Chairman, Bruce Babbitt, president of *Raintree Ventures, former US Secretary of the Interior (Clinton Admin) and prior Governor of Arizona. [ “Raintree Ventures and Raintree Strategic Consultancy are subsidiaries within the Westcomb Group which focus on private equity transactions”, founded in 2000 by Mr. Pang Seng Tuong as “one of the first boutique investment banks in Singapore” http://www.westcombfinancial.com/AR/ar2008.pdf and http://www.greenglobal-resources.com/cms/files/ec080429.pdf incorporated in Bermuda.] As of June, 2009, Babbitt took a seat on the Board of the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy which concerns itself with “use, regulation, and taxation of land” http://www.lincolninst.edu [press release http://atlincolnhouse.typepad.com/pressroom/2009/06/index.html
*CEO/president (since 2005) Carter Roberts, formerly worked for The Nature Conservancy
*Vice-Chair, Jared M. Diamond, biologist at UCLA, educated at Cambridge (UK) and Harvard, principal spokesman for the Long Now Foundation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Now_Foundation which is a San Francisco based NGO in the process of ambitiously cataloging everything on the planet and integrating information systems ( former*Vice-Chair, Lawrence H. Linden of Goldman Sachs ) Treasurer, Roger W. Sant, co-founder and Chair of AES Corp/utilities…..and on the Board of Directors, Thomas Lovejoy mentioned above, who was a former US Asst. Secretary for External and Environmental Affairs and ‘Science Advisor’ under the Clinton Admin. to (Sec. of the Interior) Bruce Babbitt. Lovejoy was also the Chief Advisor to the President of the World Bank as well as the World Bank ‘Specialist for the Environment for Latin America and the Carribean’. http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=World_Wildlife_Fund_US
The Nature Conservancy, founded 1951
Oldest of the three here, TNC was reformed out of the Ecologists Union by founder Bob Marshall, the son of well-known zionist Louis B. Marshall. It chartered it first chapter in New York in 1954 and made its first acquisition of the Arthur W. Butler Memorial Sanctuary. In 1988 TNC performed a debt-for-nature swap in Costa Rica for $240,000 worth of debt, and in the same year contracted with the US Dept of Defense (DOD) to manage 25 million acres of military lands. The new CEO and president of TNC is Goldman Sach’s Mark Tercek, who took his place in June 2008, following an appointment from The Nature Conservancy’s Chairman of the Board, Hank Paulson, to Goldman Sach’s Center for Environmental Markets in 2006. Tercek joined Goldman Sachs in 1984. http://www.nature.org/pressroom/leadership/art24763.html
“The Nature Conservancy job puts [Tercek] in a position to have a big impact. The Conservancy is by far the world’s biggest conservation group, with an operating budget of nearly $500 million, about 3,600 employees including hundreds of scientists, and chapters in all 50 states and 36 countries…Tercek is looking to build alliances with other NGOs –the Nature Conservancy has joined the US Climate Action Partnership, for example– as well as with business.” http://www.marcgunther.com/2009/09/13/the-nature-conservancys-mark-tercek-sees-redd/
Dubious activities of the The Nature Conservancy are reviewed by author Ron Arnold in his book “Undue Influence”, http://www.undueinfluence.com/nature_conservancy.htm using year 2000 figures which reckoned the assets of TNC worth $2.8 billion –2007 figures show double that amount, and according to answers.com “On average, 1000 acres a day are added to its system of nature preserves, the world’s largest. When TNC cannot buy desired property, it sometimes attains conservation easements restricting use of the land for tax benefits.” http://www.answers.com/topic/the-nature-conservancy
How Does It Really Work?
These swaps appear to have complex arrangements involved concerning ownership and stewardship. Though I have a whole lot yet to learn and documents to find, for example, the USAID website here describing recent debt-for-nature swaps looks like an incredibly good deal for the conservation NGOs, another stick-it-to-the-US-taxpayer and an Agenda 21 social experiment in affected people who must relocate. http://www.usaid.gov/our_work/environment/forestry/tfca_descs.html
A deal made with Costa Rica in September of 2007 has “the U.S. government, Costa Rican government, Central Bank of Costa Rica, Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy agree[ing] to reduce Costa Rica’s debt payments to the US by $26 million over the next 16 years. In return, the Central Bank of Costa Rica committed to pay these funds into a debt-for-nature program to support grants to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other groups to protect and restore the country’s important tropical resources”.
According to this article, http://www.prweb.com/releases/conservation/nature/prweb562087.htm the United States Treasury paid $12.6 million “appropriated by the Tropical Forest Conservation Act (TFCA), with Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy providing an additional $1.26 million each to the purchase of the debt at a discounted rate..” So the US actually paid a total of $38.6 million for the deal. IC and TNC bought themselves 16 years of privileged ‘work’ at a combined cost of $2.5 million to run an eco-concession out of Costa Rica. And then what? We have yet to see the conclusion of any one of these debt-for-nature swaps. If you think that’s a bargain for restoration, consider that the ‘prweb’ article assesses the progress already made in Costa Rica without the swap, which had reforested more than 30% of lands previously cleared. The amount of land actually coming under NGO management through the swap is not named; 6 areas are
broadly referred to, however, in this blog item of the Tierra Pacifica community, which appears to reference a reputable media source, the acreage involved is noted to be 1000 acres. Is this possible, or just a local piece? http://tierrapacifica.blogspot.com/2007/10/costa-rica-and-us-trade-debt-for-nature.html Tierra Pacifica is a newly developed master-plan enclave on 220 acres poised between a protected mangrove estuary and the Pacific –fully gated with a guard house, modern amenities, new public paved road that runs directly to the Liberia International Airport– http://www.tierrapacifica.com/ . Is this the kind of ‘sustainable’ development that USAID and the TFCA approve in determining a mandate that “developing countries with critically important tropical forests meet certain political and economic requirements to be eligible for debt-for-nature swaps.”?
Guatemala 2006 – the U.S.’s first swap
“In the..deal, the United States government contributed about $15 million toward the cancellation of [$24 million of] Guatemalas’s debt, said Clay Lowery, assistant secretary of the Treasury…” (that’s a $39 million start-up cost )…”The bulk of the money generated by the debt forgiveness will go to private organizations… Eligible countries must have democratically elected governments and a suitable economic reform program in place and they must cooperate with the United States on drug enforcement and counterterrorism efforts.” http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/02/world/americas/02conserve.html
Guatemalans in the way: “Since the Maya Biosphere Reserve..was created in 1990, people have steadily moved in… To stem this flow,..The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Guatemalan government, and [a Guatemalan NGO], experimented with a new strategy in 1996..to see if [people] were open to the idea of small-scale voluntary resettlement. While resettlement is common in the develop realm, it is not we encounter much in conservation. In fact, we generally shy away from it..due to the social stigma it carries. Most resettlement projects..continue to be non-voluntary. The voluntary..Guatemala initiative maes it fundamentally different..and it may be the key to resettlement finding its place among conservation strategies.
“..The idea was to move families to areas more appropriate for development [where non-voluntary relocations tend to occur].. closer to public services. Most of the families..never truly settled down because they were unable to buy land and, therefore, were always squatting and living with..uncertainty… As such, land title is crucial for resettlement.