Posts tagged with: As You Sow

By now, readers should be aware of the campaign waged against the Competitive Enterprise Institute led by Al Gore and a cadre of attorneys generals with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman at the top of the rogues’ gallery. The subpoena goes so far as to demand CEI produce “all documents or communications concerning research, advocacy, strategy, reports, studies, reviews or public opinions regarding Climate Change sent or received from” such specifically named think tanks as the Acton Institute, The Heartland Institute and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy as well as industry organizations the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Oil & Gas Association and the American Petroleum Institute.

It’s the latest volley from the left – including religious shareholder activists’ often successful efforts to force corporations withdraw financial support and cede membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council – to stifle any whiff of opposition when it comes to the hypothetical, manmade catastrophic climate-change theory. ALEC, in fact, joins Acton and many other groups named in the subpoena, and leaders from these organizations have joined CEI in a strongly worded full-page advertisement that appeared in the New York Times last week:

This abuse of power is unacceptable. It is unlawful. And it is un-American.

Regardless of one’s views on climate change, every American should reject the use of government power to harass or silence those who hold differing opinions. This intimidation campaign sets a dangerous precedent and threatens the rights of anyone who disagrees with the government’s position – whether it’s vaccines, GMOs, or any other politically charged issue. Law enforcement officials should never use their powers to silence participants in political debates.

For those who haven’t been shocked out of complacency by this latest, blatant abuse of politically empowered legal authority marshaled in an effort to shut down free speech and exchange of scientific public policy, allow your writer to recap briefly. U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude E. Walker – one member of Gore and Schneiderman’s lawyerly goon squad, which also includes AGs from California, Connecticut, District Of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Washington State – issued a subpoena to CEI in late March. (more…)

From your writer’s experience covering religious shareholder activism the past few years, the phrase “enlightened engagement in the capital markets” is a trigger warning for a whole lotta hollow slogans to follow. Therefore it wasn’t a surprise to read on the website of Arjuna Capital that the aforementioned “enlightened engagement” is about “sustainability” and “social equity” – euphemistic buzzwords for an agenda that typically threatens hundreds of thousands of jobs, company and shareholder profitability, and drives up costs for consumers. Such is the puffery exercised by Arjuna – an affiliate of religious-based activist group As You Sow – not only on its website, but as well in the recently defeated shareholder resolution the investment group submitted at the Entergy Corporation annual shareholders meeting.

Entergy is an energy company providing Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi residents with 30,000 megawatts of electricity each year, including 10,000 mw generated from nuclear power plants. Entergy serves approximately 2.8 million customers and employs 13,000 workers. It oversees an estimated 15,500 circuit miles of high-voltage transmission lines.

In April, Entergy was ranked 18th overall on Corporate Responsibility Magazine’s 2016 100 Best Corporate Citizens list. In the philanthropy and community support category, Entergy was ranked 4th. No one-time Charlie they, Entergy made the magazine’s list for the past seven years, measured according to 260 performance metrics that include environment, climate change, employee relations, human rights, corporate governance, financial performance, and philanthropy and community support. The press release linked above also notes: “Along with philanthropy, Entergy’s highest-ranked areas are environment, climate change and employee relations.”

So it’s rather interesting that Arjuna’s resolution at this year’s Entergy annual shareholder meeting, which was held Friday, May 6, sought the following: (more…)

dead_gadflyIt’s been a while since your writer began reporting on religious shareholder activism in this space. The term “religious” is used here to describe the vocations of the priests, nuns, clergy and other religious involved in shareholder activism – rather than serving as an accurate descriptor for essentially progressive political and social activities. These shareholder activists pursue agendas having little to do with the true nature of the faiths they no doubt believe, but too often relegate beneath their pursuit of liberal causes.

The above occurred to your correspondent upon following a link on the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility homepage. A quick click later, I was immersed in the progressive banalities of Rev. Jim Conn, “Spring Awakening: Uniting Against Climate Change” over at the website Capital & Main: Investigating Power & Politics. Rev. Conn’s essay champions what he perceives as a Risorgimento – a resurgent unification of political and social efforts. In essence, the Risorgimento Conn envisions applies to mitigating climate change by any means necessary, including shareholder activism as practiced by ICCR:

People with surplus incomes have been investing ever since the first stock market was invented, but now networks of socially responsible investors have gained clout in the marketplace. The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment acts as a research tool and clearinghouse of information for such funds. Their list includes a number of regular mutual fund companies that have established green or socially responsible investment services. (more…)

Hoo boy … this campaign season is exhausting enough already without reporting the efforts of religious shareholder activist groups uniting to undo the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. But, to quote Michael Corleone in the third Godfather film: “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!”

Joining the anti-Citizens United religious shareholders are public-sector unions, riding high after the eight-justice Supreme Court split evenly this week on Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. The split decision ensures that public-sector unions may continue to collect compulsory union dues. Any honest guesses as to how this money will be spent must include political activity.

For its part, religious shareholder activists As You Sow continue to hold up their end of the bargain, openly working with unions to squelch opposition voices. Although AYS proxy resolutions on corporate political activity have fallen from a record high of 139 in 2014 to 98 resolutions thus far this season, readers may rest assured, as AYS warns in its 2016 ProxyPreview: (more…)

Sometimes clearer heads prevail, but at considerable costs to individual stock portfolios and corporations who have to mount a defense against uninformed, nuisance shareholder resolutions. Last week the Securities and Exchange Commission slowed the progressive roll of religious activist group As You Sow by denying an AYS proxy resolution seeking a detailed nanoparticle risk assessment by Mondelēz International Foodservice.

Mondelēz successfully convinced the SEC that its use of food whitener titanium dioxide (TiO2) in its Dentyne Ice chewing gum does not meet the dimensional criteria of nanoparticles as established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Furthermore, the company hedged its bet by asserting that TiO2 use is “ordinary business, preventing shareholders from requesting information about the risk of these materials,” according to the AYS press release.

AYS’s resolution was predicated on two 2014 studies that concluded all food-grade TiO2 contained “a significant proportion of nanoparticles,” that AYS claims “may also result in greater toxicity for human health and the environment.” Note the qualifier “may,” which sums up the degree of scientific accuracy and disingenuousness throughout the AYS’s fear-mongering release. But there are others: (more…)

Former Indiana Governor and current Purdue University President Mitch Daniels

Former Indiana Governor and current Purdue University President Mitch Daniels

If it seems your writer is obsessing over genetically modified organisms in this space, it’s only because the progressive side of the equation won’t let it go. Team Anti-GMO includes the radicalized religious shareholder activists of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and As You Sow. Whether it’s misrepresenting the science or ignoring it completely, these groups celebrate every GMO labeling initiative and perform handstands every time a corporation commits to producing organic products.

Even more distressing than cherry-picking science to support incorrect conclusions is Team Anti-GMO’s failure to address the morality of their campaigns against disease-, pesticide- and drought-resistant foods. In fact, it’s amazingly distressing that nuns, priests, clergy and other religious affiliated with ICCR and AYS would circle their wagons around an initiative so deleterious to efforts to alleviate world hunger.

So imagine the delight conjured by the Feb. 25 remarks made by Purdue University President Mitch Daniels at the Agriculture Department’s Agricultural Outlook Forum in Arlington, Va. The former Indiana governor succinctly makes the case for GMOs, which was excerpted last weekend in The Wall Street Journal: (more…)

bananaMuch real estate on this blog has been devoted to extolling the scientifically proven safety and morally indispensible qualities of GMOs, and much shade cast by your writer at the religious shareholder activists acting to curtail or eliminate GMO use.

No legitimate scientific research has proven GMOs unsafe, and the promise GMOs hold for feeding the world’s poorest is extraordinary. Why, then, the reservations of such progressive groups as As You Sow and Green America? Could it be they simply are intent on being a fly in the ointment of corporations responsible for bringing GM seeds resistant to drought, pests and pesticides to market?

The previous question was prompted by actions by student activists at Iowa State University. As reported by Julie Kelly in the Wall Street Journal, ISU students collected more than 57,000 signatures for a petition opposing human-feeding trials that paid $900 to students willing to eat fortified superbananas for four days. The superbananas contain copious amounts of beta carotene, which the human digestive system converts to Vitamin A – as in: the letter “A” that stands for “Absolutely necessary for preventing blindness and other inconvenient Third World problems not quite prevalent on the ISU West Lawn.

However, blindness, stunting and deaths resulting from Vitamin A deficiencies are prevalent in Uganda. Notes Kelly: “40 percent of children under age 5 are vitamin-A deficient, according to a 2011 health survey by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics.” To which the ISU students respond: “Tough beans, no superbananas for you, Uganda.” The ISU students also submitted their petition to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, “which is investing more than $2 billion to improve agriculture in the developing world, including through the banana project.”