January 27, 2013

Paul Gaynor forgets to mention mafia connection

In today’s New York Times, First Wind CEO Paul Gaynor writes:

In 2004, another G.E. colleague asked me to join UPC Wind Management as president and chief executive, and I accepted. Because another wind company had a similar name, we changed our name to First Wind in 2008.
That “other” wind company was in fact its own parent. They changed the name because its deep corruption was coming to light in Italy. That “other GE colleague” was Brian Caffyn  ...

UPC Solar: Our Management
Mr. Caffyn ... was the founder and inaugural Chairman of UPC Wind (now First Wind). ... Mr. Caffyn is also Managing Partner of UPC Capital Partners and UPC Energy Partners. He spent the first part of his career in project financing for wind, cogeneration, hydro, solar, geothermal, waste-to-energy and biomass energy projects with GE Capital, Heller Financial, Inc., and several private companies. Mr. Caffyn personally oversaw the establishment and construction of the largest wind energy company in Italy — Italian Vento Power Corporation.
Brian Caffyn: Executive Profile & Biography, Business Week
Mr. Caffyn is a co-founder of UPC Energy Group and UPC Group. ... He founded First Wind Energy Company in 1996 ... He founded First Wind Holdings, Inc. and served as its Chairman. He founded and served as Chairman of First Wind Energy LLC (UPC Wind Partners, LLC). ... Mr. Caffyn served as Director or Partner of ... Italian Vento Power Corporation (IVPC), Srl, ...
Caffyn, founder and former CEO and [still?] chairman, has been expunged from mention on the First Wind web site.

Italian Vento Power Corporation: Background
The Group [Italian Vento Power Corporation] came to light in 1993 from an idea of Oreste Vigorito who formed the company IVPC Srl on behalf of UPC, an American company which operates in the wind sector in California. ...

Between 1996 and 2000, UPC forms several project companies for the installation of new Wind Farms in the Campania Region, in Sardinia and in Sicily. During this period, the Group develops 241MW. In 2005, UPC sells its assets held in Italy to the Irish group Trinergy and furthermore, sells the 50% of the original IVPC Srl (with its trade mark) to Oreste Vigorito who remains in partnership with Eurus Energy (ex Tomen) which owns the other 50%.

Trinergy, in its turn, in 2007, sells the assets previously acquired from UPC to the English group International Power [IP]. Oreste Vigorito is Managing Director of the ex IVPC Group, previously called Trinergy and now IP Maestrale, until November 2008 when he hands in his resignation.
Anti-mafia police make largest asset seizure, by Guy Dinmore, Financial Times, September 14, 2010
Italian anti-mafia police have made their largest seizure of assets as part of an investigation into windfarm contracts in Sicily. Officers confiscated property and accounts valued at €1.5bn belonging to a businessman suspected of having links with the mafia.

Roberto Maroni, interior minister, on Tuesday accused the businessman – identified by police as Vito Nicastri and known as the island’s “lord of the winds” – of being close to a fugitive mafia boss, Matteo Messina Denaro.

General Antonio Mirone, of the anti-mafia police, said the seized assets included 43 companies – some with foreign participation and mostly in the solar and windpower sector – as well as about 100 plots of land, villas and warehouses, luxury cars and a catamaran. More than 60 bank accounts were frozen. ...

The renewable energy sector is under scrutiny across much of southern Italy. Some windfarms, built with official subsidies, have never functioned. ...

Mr Nicastri sold most of his windfarm projects to IVPC, a company near Naples run by Oreste Vigorito, also president of Italy’s windpower association. Mr Vigorito was also arrested last November on suspicion of fraud and later released.
Green energy tangled in web of shady deals, by Guy Dinmore, Financial Times, May 5, 2009
Over coffee, Mr Nicastri confirms that he has developed the "majority" of Sicily's wind farms, arranging land, financing and official permits. He then sold the projects for construction to IVPC, a company run by Oreste Vigorito, who is also president of Italy's wind power association.

Mr Nicastri says he has worked on projects resulting in construction of wind farms for International Power (IP) of the UK; Falck Renewables, the London subsidiary of Falck Group based in Milan; IVPC; and Veronagest, another Italian company.

"I am not a prostitute for everyone. There are other prostitutes for the others," Mr Nicastri laughs, mentioning other multinationals with wind assets in Sicily. ...

IP became the single largest wind farmer in Italy with its 2007 purchase of the Maestrale portfolio of mostly Italian wind farms, including five in Sicily, for €1.8bn from Trinergy, an Irish company, which had purchased them from IVPC.
Wind Power, by Joan Killough-Miller, WPI [Worcester Polytechnic Institute] Transformations, Summer 2005
As president and CEO of UPC Wind Management, located in Newton, Mass., Gaynor was tapped to bring the success of the parent company, UPC Group, to North America. In Europe and North Africa, UPC affiliates — including Italian Vento Power Corporation — have raised over $900 million in financing and installed some 900 utility-scale wind turbine generators (WTGs), with a total capacity of more than 635 megawatts. UPC subsidiary companies, positioned across the United States and in Toronto, are currently pursing some 2,000 megawatts in projects from Maine to Maui.
Also of note from Gaynor's NY Times piece: “Some people will always be against development, whether it’s a shopping mall, a condo project or a wind farm.” Yes, “wind farms” are “development”, no different from shopping malls and condo projects, which is why they should similarly never be allowed on the ridges, open spaces, and coasts that wind developers target.

wind power, wind energy

January 24, 2013

Let’s cry for the oxen, not for Green Mountain College

To the Editor, Valley News:

Lisa Rathke's Associated Press story about Green Mountain College (GMC) representatives presenting their case to the Vermont House Committee on Agriculture (“College Pleas for Vt. Aid in Ox Crisis,” Jan. 17) shows how unwilling they still are to take any responsibility for the consequences of their decision to kill the hardworked and beloved oxen Bill and Lou.

It was the cold heartlessness of that decision that outraged first some of GMC’s own students and alumni, and then as the news got out, so many people around the world, especially as the college adamantly refused offers of sanctuary and even monetary compensation to let Bill and Lou live out their lives in peaceful retirement with attentive veterinary care.

In response, the college only invited more outrage: by smearing as “extremists” all those asking them to show mercy; by responding to the offer of sanctuary for these two special oxen as a threat to all animal agriculture; and by characterizing the resulting publicity as “terrorizing” them.

This was a crisis of their own making, in both the inhumane decision itself and the paranoid and misplaced sense of victimization that this latest “plea” exemplifies. GMC’s quest for absolution and vindication only reminds the world — and perhaps themselves — of their guilt.

One hopes that someone on the Committee kindly suggested that they might stop being so childishly stubborn and show some human kindness: and let Bill, who they have not killed yet, retire to a sanctuary.

Eric Rosenbloom and Joanna Lake

environment, environmentalism, animal rights, vegetarianism, veganism, Vermont

Saving Paradise (Murder Is in the Wind)

Ua mau ke ea o ka ’aina i ka pono.
The life of the land is preserved in righteous action.

In this taut and fast-paced thriller about corporate and political greed, corruption, murder and mayhem, Mike Bond keeps the tension high throughout and the evil wonderfully complex (as well as the answer to it). The book also provides a nice tour — and history — of the islands.

Saving Paradise sets the fight against big wind clearly as one of good against evil. Which it always has been, of course, but a lot of people have a hard time believing that the developers really are purely evil, that there really is no benefit to big wind except to the developers, and to the ones who will follow them into the now desecrated lands that were off limits before Enron started buying environmental groups, who are now all about “balance” (their bank balance, in effect) instead of preservation and protection. And those that do see the developers for what they are, often do so through irrelevant political partisan eyes (as do most of those who support wind, even while otherwise decrying everything behind it), so the bigger problem remains: and corporate/political power pits community against community, neighbor against neighbor.

Big wind is nobody’s friend. They don’t even care about their own giant wind turbines, as they move on to destroy the next crest and plain and coast. It is only about destruction and robbery. The developers are vandals. Their supporters are fools or worse.

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights

It’s Time to Jail the NRA

Mike Bond writes:

It’s time to jail the National Rifle Association Directors as accessories to mass murder. For once again a madman with automatic rifles has slaughtered our children. And we rid ourselves of the NRA’s political accomplices, the Senators and Congressmen who vote to legalize weapons of mass murder. The time has come.

If the United States were a civilized, rational nation this horror could never have happened. But we have become an errant, self-pitying, dysfunctional, and emotionally and fiscally bankrupt society run by a corporate-political clique that sells us nice visions of ourselves while they rob us blind and inject our minds with poison.

Over 13 years ago, after the Columbine School Massacre, I wrote in The San Francisco Chronicle that as a hunter and gun owner I recommended the following:

  • Private ownership of handguns and assault rifles be prohibited. Their sole purpose is to kill people.
  • Ownership of rifles and shotguns be registered, like automobiles, and limited to those who have passed a licensing program and mental and criminal background tests.
  • Advertisement of guns be prohibited in all media.
  • Gun-related political contributions be prohibited.
  • All media, particularly the Internet, be controlled for the level of violence. We spend billions to restrict trace chemicals in our children’s foods but scarcely a penny to govern what goes into their minds.

Obviously, none of this has happened. There have been 36 major massacres since then, each bloodbath aided and abetted by the National Rifle Association. Mass murder weapons are far easier to obtain now than they were then.

We are talking about murder here: cold, calculated murder. For even the NRA fanatics – even our pay-for-hire politicians – know that every law they pass to legalize mass murder weapons will result in many more deaths. This is premeditated murder. It’s time we jail them for it.

We have descended to the ninth circle of Hell, a place where so many crazy people have guns you fear you need to have guns yourself, because it’s obvious the society cannot protect us. The politicians will not protect us – they have no interest in our welfare, only in the corporate contributions they use to sell us nice visions of themselves so we keep them in office.

The police cannot protect us – they’re targets themselves. At Sandy Hook the police were earnestly reporting that they were going to do “a detailed investigation” – who cares about an investigation when your child is dead, and you know who did it and it keeps happening over and over again? And when for a long time everyone has known the cause?

Just like the insane murderer at Sandy Hook, the NRA and their fully-owned politicians have developed a pathological personality disorder, an emotional disconnect – they cannot understand the impact of their actions. They are immune to other people’s pain.

And the media is equally at fault – there’s lots of talk about emotional connections, how people are helping each other, lots of nice photos of teary mothers hugging rescued children. But what about the little girls with their heads blown away by high-powered bullets? Where are those pictures, so we can see what it’s really like? Where are the pictures of the little boys with their intestines spread across the classroom? So we can fully understand the horror?

Because until we fully understand the horror we can never change the evil in ourselves, in our nation, in our way of looking at ourselves, in our way of being governed.

The simple truth is that we are owned, and our politicians work for, Colt Arms, Ruger, Remington and all the other murder industries and their lobbyists. We are owned by the National Rifle Association.

It’s time to take our nation back. To do so, the first step is to jail the criminals. All of them.

January 18, 2013

A friend writes ...

A friend writes, about Democrats' "tepid support for any gun regulation":

If a classroom of children were obliterated by the Taliban in Afghanistan, they'd be appalled at the savagery, and say it's just a barbaric society and we must DO SOMETHING to civilize them. When it happens here, they confirm that the USA is indeed a barbaric society by the way they shrug their shoulders and move on, life as usual, ho hum. Yesterday in the Times there was an essay (or a comment) where someone wrote that someone in Europe said to them that "life is cheap" in the US, and how sad that made them feel. But it's true, and it's reflected in the cruel policies everywhere here, from accepting warlike levels of gun violence, not providing universal health care and higher education, wrenching people's homes and property away when they are old and go into a nursing home, the level of incarceration and homelessness and poverty that is astounding in a nation that is so "rich". The list is endless, really. Cruelty and violence is all the US really stands for anymore.

January 16, 2013

Means and Ends: The films of Kathryn Bigelow and Quentin Tarantino

With Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty in theaters at the same time, it is revealing to compare them. Both are manipulative entertainments profiting from a taste for violence, but they get away with it — that is, they are actually honored — in different ways.

Bigelow wallows in the violence of imperial war exploits with just enough ambivalence that discerning viewers can comfort themselves that her movies raise important questions about that violence. What is never questioned, however, is its justification. In other words, the end justifies the means, though maybe not any means.

Tarantino has also landed on the formula that the end justifies the means: any means as long as the end is unquestionably justified. Thus, in the context of the Nazi holocaust or American slavery, few people would begrudge the vengeful violence that Tarantino obsessively presents.

In short, Tarantino avoids questioning the means, and Bigelow avoids questioning of the end. Thus each of them allows an unquestioned indulgence in violence as entertainment. There is no reason to consider their films as anything more serious. Bigelow and Tarantino are poseurs.

Embed: Gun deaths reported in U.S. since Newtown

January 14, 2013

Freedom to Connect

From speech by Aaron Swartz, May 2011, University of Chicago, about the fight against COICA/SOPA/PIPA, by courtesy of Democracy Now:
I was at an event, and I was talking, and I got introduced to a U.S. senator, one of the strongest proponents of the original COICA bill, in fact. And I asked him why, despite being such a progressive, despite giving a speech in favor of civil liberties, why he was supporting a bill that would censor the Internet. And, you know, that typical politician smile he had suddenly faded from his face, and his eyes started burning this fiery red. And he started shouting at me, said, "Those people on the Internet, they think they can get away with anything! They think they can just put anything up there, and there’s nothing we can do to stop them! They put up everything! They put up our nuclear missiles, and they just laugh at us! Well, we’re going to show them! There’s got to be laws on the Internet! It’s got to be under control!"

Now, as far as I know, nobody has ever put up the U.S.'s nuclear missiles on the Internet. I mean, it's not something I’ve heard about. But that’s sort of the point. He wasn’t having a rational concern, right? It was this irrational fear that things were out of control. Here was this man, a United States senator, and those people on the Internet, they were just mocking him. They had to be brought under control. Things had to be under control. And I think that was the attitude of Congress. And just as seeing that fire in that senator’s eyes scared me, I think those hearings scared a lot of people. They saw this wasn’t the attitude of a thoughtful government trying to resolve trade-offs in order to best represent its citizens. This was more like the attitude of a tyrant. And so the citizens fought back. ...
I'm pretty sure that deranged senator was Patrick Leahy of Vermont, lead sponsor of COICA and PIPA (SOPA was the House version of PIPA).

January 13, 2013

Mental Health Screening for Gun Ownership

Mental health screening as part of the "background" check for gun purchasers requires only one (1) question:

Do you want to own a gun?

If the answer is "yes", it is clear that the person should be not allowed to have a gun.

January 7, 2013

One way to look at it

William Blum writes:

Capitalism can be seen in historical evolutionary terms, independent of any moral point of view or judgement. Broadly speaking, the organization of mankind's societies has evolved from slavery to feudalism to capitalism. And it's now time for the next step: socialism.

Socialism or communism have always been given just one chance to work, if that much, while capitalism has been given numerous chances to do so following its perennial fiascos. Ralph Nader has observed: "Capitalism will never fail because socialism will always be there to bail it out."

Capitalism gave rise to some very important innovations, such as mass production and distribution, and many technological advances. But now, and for some time past, the system has caused much more harm than good. It's eating its young. And our environment. We can take the advances instituted by capitalism for the purpose of profit and use them to create a society based on putting people before profit. Just imagine.

human rights, anarchism, ecoanarchism, anarchosyndicalism