Tuesday Reads: Climate Change Action and Impeachment Inquiry News

Good Morning!!

Action on Climate Change

Before I get started on the latest news, I want to share some information about a climate action that is taking place today in several U.S. cities, including Boston. My sister-in-law is a leader in her local chapter of Mothers Out Front, an organization that fights climate change. The group has been working to call attention to Blackrock, a huge asset management corporation whose CEO Larry Fink has tried to position himself as pro-environment, while leading the company that contributes more than any other to the problem of global warming.

My brother made this video to publicize today’s actions.

Some background:

The Guardian, May 21, 2019: World’s biggest investor accused of dragging feet on climate crisis.

[Blackrock CEO Larry] Fink, who was paid $24m (£18.8m) in 2018, began BlackRock as part of Blackstone, the world’s largest private equity group, and spun it out in 1995. Since then, New York-based BlackRock has risen to become an investing behemoth, controlling $6.5tn in assets – a value more than twice the annual output of the UK economy.

That staggering size has placed BlackRock at the heart of the global fossil fuel industry: it is the largest investor in coal worldwide, according to InfluenceMap, an environmental campaign group, and has by far the highest density of coal holdings of the world’s 10 largest investors. BlackRock effectively owns 2.1bn tonnes of thermal coal reserves, based on the size of its stakes in major miners.

In August, two of the country’s fastest growing grassroots groups – Extinction Rebellion and Mothers Out Front – sent a bold message to BlackRock staff at their Boston office.

BlackRock is counted among the top three shareholders in every oil “supermajor” bar France’s Total, and is among the top 10 shareholders in seven of the 10 biggest coal producers, according to Guardian analysis of data from financial information firm S&P.

Yet Fink, 66, who moves in US Democrat political circles, argues it is not his company’s duty to fight the climate emergency. In the real version of his annual letter to shareholders, published in January, Fink said that his overriding duty is to make customers money.

“Our firm is built to protect and grow the value of our clients’ assets,” Fink wrote. “We often get approached by special interest groups who advocate for BlackRock to vote with them on a cause. In many cases, I or other senior managers might agree with that same cause – or we might strongly disagree – but our personal views on environmental or social issues don’t matter here. Our decisions are driven solely by our fiduciary duty to our clients.”

Also from The Guardian, September 17, 2019: Wall Street investment giants voting against key climate resolutions.

Some of Wall Street’s largest asset management companies are failing to live up to commitments to use their voting power to fight the climate crisis, according to a new report.

The report, published on Tuesday by the Washington DC-based Majority Action and the Climate Majority Project, claims that BlackRock Inc, the world’s largest asset manager with more than $6tn under management, and Vanguard, with assets of $5.2tn, have voted overwhelmingly against the key climate resolutions at energy companies, including a resolution at ExxonMobil’s annual shareholder meeting, and at Duke Energy.

Had BlackRock and Vanguard not torpedoed these investor efforts, at least 16 climate-critical shareholder resolutions at S&P 500 companies would have received majority support in 2019, representing a significant corporate shift on climate, the report claims….

“The climate crisis is well upon us, and leading investors are stepping up to press fossil-fuel-dependent companies to align their strategies to the goals of the Paris agreement but some of the largest US investment companies are severely lagging,” said Majority Action’s Eli Kasargod-Staub.

“Blackrock and Vanguard have been using their shareholder voting power to undermine, rather than support, investor action on climate, including opposing every one of the resolutions proposed by the $34tn Climate Action 100+ coalition, calling for significant board room reform in response to its failure to act on climate change,” Kasargod-Staub added.

Unfortunately, it’s raining in Boston today. I expect the mothers will still show up for the demonstration though. I’ll report back if I hear anything about how it went.

UPDATES from the Boston BlackRock protest

Impeachment Inquiry News

Today a White House insider who heard Trump’s call to Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky will testify in the impeachment inquiry.

The New York Times: Army Officer Who Heard Trump’s Ukraine Call Reported Concerns.

A White House national security official who is a decorated Iraq war veteran plans to tell House impeachment investigators on Tuesday that he heard President Trump appeal to Ukraine’s president to investigate one of his leading political rivals, a request the aide considered so damaging to American interests that he reported it to a superior.

Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, arriving Tuesday on Capitol Hill.Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman of the Army, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, twice registered internal objections about how Mr. Trump and his inner circle were treating Ukraine, out of what he called a “sense of duty,” he plans to tell the inquiry, according to a draft of his opening statement obtained by The New York Times.

He will be the first White House official to testify who listened in on the July 25 telephone call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine that is at the center of the impeachment inquiry, in which Mr. Trump asked Mr. Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

“I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine,” Colonel Vindman said in his statement. “I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma it would likely be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained.”

52 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: Climate Change Action and Impeachment Inquiry News”

  1. bostonboomer says:

  2. bostonboomer says:
  3. bostonboomer says:

    Bloomberg: Joe Biden in Danger of Humiliating Loss in Iowa, Top Democrats Warn

    Joe Biden risks a humiliating third or fourth-place finish in Iowa early next year, according to nearly a dozen senior Democrats in the state who attribute it to what they see as a poorly organized operation that has failed to engage with voters and party leaders.

    With fewer than 100 days until the Feb. 3 caucuses, Biden is failing to spend the time with small groups of voters and party officials that Iowans expect and his campaign’s outreach has been largely ineffective, according to 11 senior Democrats in the state. They worry that could send Biden to a crippling loss behind Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg, who have highly organized campaigns in Iowa, said the Democrats, most of whom spoke on condition of anonymity to speak candidly about the campaign.

  4. bostonboomer says:

  5. dakinikat says:

  6. bostonboomer says:

  7. dakinikat says:

    • dakinikat says:

      • quixote says:

        Right down there with the mentality that knew all Japanese-Americans were foreign agents who had to be interned.

        I just cannot grasp how we (the world, really) managed to circle back to fascism in a mere three generations.

  8. bostonboomer says:

  9. bostonboomer says:

    • bostonboomer says:

      • dakinikat says:

        I NEVER EVER nor would I EVER miss a chance to give little kids in costumes their halloween treats. It’s the absolute best time ever! And little kids are human barometers of character like dogs. If little kids and dogs like you and you are seeing interacting terrifically with them then you’re probably a real decent human being.

        I haven’t even see a pix of Trump holding a grand baby

        • NW Luna says:

          The Obamas are actually looking at the kids, and enjoying the event. Trump spends most of his time looking anywhere but at the kids. Then, putting candy on top of the kid’s costume where the kid can’t see it or get at it? What a bastard.

        • Enheduanna says:

          Now that you mention it – I’ve never seen him in the same picture as Ivanka’s kids. Does Don Jr. have any kids?

          You’d think they’d trot those pics out to humanize him. Waste of time, I know….

      • dakinikat says:

        and how do you not know that the candy goes in the bag, not on the kid’s head?

        • bostonboomer says:

          And why are they so dressed up? Spike heels for Halloween?

        • quixote says:

          And why does Melania do the same weird thing? Flashback to that bizarre Pence video where Dump puts his water bottle (or whatever it was) on the floor for no obvious reason and Pence immediately does the same.

          I can’t stop my brain from trying to figure out what they thought they were doing, even though it’s obviously pointless. Did they think it was funny? Is headgear the usual receptacle for offerings on their planet? Was the Dump just being demented and Melania was covering for him by imitating? I mean, *what*?

  10. bostonboomer says:

  11. dakinikat says:

    Okay … I’m fainting right now!

  12. dakinikat says:

    Perry caught with his pants on fire!

  13. dakinikat says:

  14. dakinikat says:

    BB: John’s Video is great. He really knows how to use the music to emphasize the pictures. It’s like staccato punctuation. Which is a kinda out there description but I hope you get what I mean …


  15. bostonboomer says:

  16. dakinikat says:

    and there is this …

  17. dakinikat says:

  18. bostonboomer says:

    5,000 children taken from their parents with no records kept.

  19. dakinikat says:

  20. dakinikat says: