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Conflicts of Interest

Fariñas, Marcos swap raps of stealing original tobacco fund papers

House Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas has called out Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos for her “very cheap and wild desperation shot,” after she accused him of stealing the original documents on transactions using proceeds from the tobacco excise tax.

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/915402/farinas-marcos-swap-raps-of-stealing-original-tobacco-fund-papers

Marcos claimed in a Wednesday statement that Fariñas’ personnel swiped the original documents from the Commission on Audit’s office inside the provincial capitol. She added that the Ilocos Six officials only declined to give sworn statements on the photocopies presented to avoid the risk of committing perjury.

Sought for comment, Fariñas called out Marcos for “coming up with a yarn” and shot back that “her people stole the original documents and now claim the loss of such as their alibi not to remember the transactions subject of the inquiry”

“Really? Who’s using the loss of the originals as an alibi in not remembering the transactions under question?” he exclaimed.

At the same time, he mocked Marcos for appearing in a July 13 press conference in Manila, where she compared the investigation to the politics of Game of Thrones and quoted: “The North remembers and it never forgets.”

“She even borrowed a line from the Game of Thrones that the North remembers! Really? How come the Amnesiac 6 do not remember the P66.45M cash advances that Imee gave them?” Fariñas said.

“She should appear at the hearing, if she is really from the North, and show the Filipino people how she’ll help the Amnesiac 6 remember their suspicious cash transactions.”

Fariñas also called out Marcos for asking the Supreme Court to prohibit the House good government and public accountability committee’s inquiry while going on “a media blitz for her false statements.”

“The public clearly sees who is spending millions of pesos to cover up the loss of the bulk of P66.45M of tobacco funds,” he said.

The Ilocos Six refers to the following employees: provincial planning and development officer and bids and awards committee chair Pedro Agcaoili, provincial budget officer Evangeline Tabulog, provincial treasurer Josephine Calajate, accountant Eden Battulayan, and treasury office staff Genedine Jambaro and Encarnacion Gaor.

They were detained at the House since May 29 after giving unsatisfactory answers during the committee inquiry on the alleged misuse of P66.45-million tobacco tax proceeds to purchase government vehicles supposedly without public bidding, instead of spending on projects for the benefit of tobacco farmers. SFM

 

Tobacco Industry Makes Strides in Trump’s Washington

President Trump may have promised to “drain the swamp” of lobbyists in Washington, but six months into his administration it seems the swamp is winning.

http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/tobacco_companies_trump_administration_20170713

A new report published in The Guardian exposes how tobacco companies are gaining significant political victories under Trump, due to lobbying efforts and the fact that tobacco business insiders have been appointed to top positions in the president’s administration. Jessica Glenza explains:

America’s largest cigarette manufacturers, Reynolds American and Altria Group, donated $1.5m to help the new president celebrate his inauguration. The donations allowed executives to dine and mingle with top administration officials and their families.

Not long after Trump promised to transfer power from Washington to the American people, a wave of spending in pursuit of influence was unleashed. In the first quarter of 2017, tobacco companies and trade associations spent $4.7m lobbying federal officials. Altria, the company behind Marlboro, hired 17 lobbying firms. Reynolds, makers of the Camel brand, hired 13, according to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.

Since then, tobacco companies have been putting points on the scoreboard. Politicians and officials with deep ties to the tobacco industry now head the US health department, the top attorney’s office and the Senate, even as tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death.

Agencies in charge of reviewing large mergers let a window slip by in which they might have requested information about a $49bn merger between Reynolds and British American Tobacco (BAT). That merger, expected to be voted through by shareholders next week, will make BAT the biggest listed tobacco company in the world, and puts proceeds from eight out of 10 cigarettes sold in the US into the pockets of two companies: Altria and BAT. …

The Food and Drug Administration has twice delayed legal briefs to defend regulations of e-cigarettes, products cigarette makers say are the future. Summer deadlines for cigar and e-cigarette makers to file applications with the FDA, which regulates the products, have all been delayed by the Trump administration.

And the high-profile attorney Noel Francisco, who once argued for Reynolds that including a quit-line phone number on cigarette packs amounted to government advocacy against smoking, has been nominated for the post of solicitor general, the government’s top attorney.

The companies now securing regulatory wins are also partly responsible for Trump’s victory in the 2016 election. “For Trump’s inaugural celebration, Reynolds American gave $1m. Altria Group gave $500,000,” Glenza reports. “The US Chamber of Commerce, which has been fiercely pro-tobacco in recent years, gave $25,000.”

Prior to becoming president, Trump profited from tobacco companies, Glenza says. His past financial disclosures “show he earned up to $2.1m from tobacco holdings in diversified portfolios,” although he has since claimed (without offering any proof) to have sold his stocks.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and members of Trump’s administration including Vice President Mike Pence have deep ties to the tobacco industry. Glenza shows the links between tobacco company donations and pro-tobacco policymaking.

“Tobacco industry influence in Washington is pervasive, in many different ways,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., a longtime opponent of smoking, tells The Guardian. “As in so many areas, the promise to drain the swamp has been an extraordinary hypocrisy.”

House summons Imee Marcos to tobacco fund hearing

If she fails to attend the July 25 hearing, then the Ilocos Norte governor will be arrested by the House, where her accuser Rodolfo Fariñas is majority leader

http://www.rappler.com/nation/174196-house-subpoena-imee-marcos-ilocos-norte-tobacco-funds-probe

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives has issued a subpoena for Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos to appear at the July 25 hearing on the alleged misuse of P66.45 million worth of provincial tobacco funds.

The subpoena was signed by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, House committee on good government and public accountability committee chairperson Johnny Pimentel, and House Secretary-General Cesar Pareja on Tuesday, June 27. A copy of the document was given to reporters on Wednesday, June 28.

Capture

Marcos is allowed to bring a lawyer to assist her in answering the lawmakers’ questions. Should she refuse to be assisted by a legal counsel, the governor must issue a waiver.

She must also give the House a copy of a written statement she plans to read as testimony two days ahead of the hearing. Marcos may also request for a conference with any member of the House good government and public accountability panel.

If Marcos fails to show up on July 25, the committee will cite her in contempt and move to detain her in the House. Her detention room is already being prepared.

The House is investigating the province’s tobacco funds after Ilocos Norte 1st District Representative Rodolfo Fariñas, the House Majority Leader and former Ilocos Norte governor, uncovered various documents indicating the money was used to purchase 40 mini-cabs, 5 secondhand buses, and 70 Foton mini trucks.

Under Republic Act Number 7171, 15% of tobacco excise taxes shall be allotted for a special support fund for tobacco farmers in the identified provinces, mostly in the Ilocos region. The money, however, should only be used for cooperative, livelihood, agro-industrial, and infrastructure projects.

Marcos has ignored previous invitations to appear in the hearings, only sending a letter to the committee maintaining the purchases were aboveboard and benefitted farmers.

Rappler, however, discovered documents showing Ilocos Norte’s tobacco funds go to Marcos’ pet projects.

The House is preparing her detention room after she said her brother, former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, had advised her against testifying before lawmakers.

Six Ilocos Norte officials have been detained for giving “dismissive” answers during the hearings. The Court of Appeals had ordered their provisional release, but this was ignored by the House leadership.

This prompted the Ilocos Norte Provincial Board to declare Fariñas persona non grata. Fariñas, in turn, plans to sue the officials for voting in favor of the resolution against him. – Rappler.com

Himachal govt bars its officials from participating in tobacco industry’s activities

The circular has been issued recently in view of the fact that different government departments end up taking sponsorship from tobacco industries, knowingly or unknowingly.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/himachal-govt-bars-its-officials-from-participating-in-tobacco-industry-s-activities/story-4YLg9v87SRBtgk0Rw5411I.html

Himachal Pradesh government has issued a circular barring its officials from participating in any activity related to tobacco industry.

“All the heads of departments in Himachal Pradesh are instructed not to participate in any event organised by tobacco industry and also not to accept any kind of direct or indirect sponsorship or funding from corporate engaged in tobacco business,” the circular read.

The circular has been issued recently in view of the fact that different government departments end up taking sponsorship from tobacco industries, knowingly or unknowingly.

“Sponsorship from tobacco companies will weaken our tirade against tobacco, in which, Himachal is doing really well,” director health safety and regulation department Raman Kumar Sharma said.

Sharma said there are some events organised by tobacco companies where doctors are invited as technical experts. “Head of departments should refrain from participating in such events. It is equal to endorsing their products,” he added.

The directions have been issued in view of the implementation of The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply, and Distribution) or COTPA Act, 2003.

“Under the act, the direct and indirect advertisement of tobacco product is prohibited. But some tobacco giants sponsor government programme, which is a kind of endorsement of their activities,” health activist Ramesh Badrel said.

Investing in tobacco firms not banned, LIC tells Bombay HC

Mumbai city news: LIC was replying to a public interest litigation objecting to public sector insurance companies investing in firms manufacturing tobacco products

http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/investing-in-tobacco-firms-not-banned-lic-tells-bombay-hc/story-ceFSeRSF8q5YNeiRTPRfKL.html

Investing in tobacco companies indirectly is neither prohibited nor banned by any authority, the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) said in an affidavit filed in the Bombay high court.

LIC was replying to a public interest litigation objecting to public sector insurance companies investing in firms manufacturing tobacco products.

“Secondary investment in tobacco companies is neither prohibited nor banned by any authority,” says the affidavit filed by Vikas Chaturvedi, assistant secretary (investment operations) of LIC. “LIC is a corporate body and must function on business principles as far as possible. Ninety-five per cent of its surplus goes to policy vendors,” added the affidavit.

It added that the investment was in accordance with the provisions of the LIC Act, the Insurance Act and guidelines laid down by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority, and other prevailing rules and regulations. “LIC looked at several companies with a good track record for investment options,” said the affidavit, adding, “ITC is one such company.”

The affidavit was filed in response to a PIL by anti-tobacco activist Sumitra Pednekar and doctors attached to Tata Memorial Hospital. Meanwhile, the court allowed Karnataka state branch of Indian Medical Association to assist it by listing the ill-effects of tobacco.

ABP under pressure over €1.5bn tobacco investments

Employees of the Netherlands’ university medical centres (UMC) have called for their pension fund, ABP, to stop investing in the tobacco industry.

https://www.ipe.com/countries/netherlands/abp-under-pressure-over-15bn-tobacco-investments/10019240.article

Jos Aartsen, chairman of the academic hospital UMC Groningen, spoke out during a conference entitled ‘Aiming for a smoke free health care sector’, organised by the Royal Dutch Medical Association earlier this week.

Aartsen complained that employees of academic hospitals as participants in ABP were effectively obliged to invest in the tobacco industry.

“I stand here on behalf of 70,000 employees of the eight UMCs. We are ashamed of these investments,” said Aartsen, quoted on the UMC Groningen website. “Investing in tobacco is not what we want.”

The Dutch Federation of University Medical Centers confirmed that all eight Dutch academic hospitals supported Aartsen’s call.

Aartsen acknowledged that tobacco companies can produce yields for investors.

“But every year, 20,000 people die unnecessarily because of smoking,” he added. “The fact these deaths are happening is more important than the return on investment in tobacco.”

Aartsen argued that it was a matter of social and governance responsibility for ABP to exclude tobacco.

Other funds had already excluded tobacco investments, he added, including healthcare pension fund PFZW and sector pension funds for GPs and for medical specialists.

ABP currently invests €1.5bn in tobacco-related assets, a spokesperson for the fund said. She pointed out that tobacco was legal in the Netherlands and regulated by the Dutch government.

The pension fund said it screened tobacco companies for issues involving child labour or unethical marketing practices. It also said it was in dialogue with several stakeholder organisations.

In addition, ABP was working on an “inclusion policy”, the spokesperson said. The next few years will see companies consciously chosen for the portfolio based on the criteria of return, risk, cost, sustainability, and accountability.

University medical centres are currently employer members of ABP, although there have been attempts to transfer this sector to PFZW, which caters for regular hospital staff.

A study by the Dutch Heart Foundation and the Association of Investors in Sustainable Development in March showed that more than two-thirds of pension funds didn’t have a policy in place for tobacco investments, compared to 10% of insurers.

It suggested the difference was attributable to the fact that many insurers also sell healthcare policies and have adjusted their investment policies accordingly.

The metalworkers pension scheme PME has excluded from its portfolio any companies that get more than 75% of their revenues from tobacco sales.

The €22bn multi-sector pension fund PGB is working on a similar policy, following a survey suggesting that just 17% of its participants supported tobacco investments.

PFZW ceased investing in cigarette manufacturers in 2013.

UK councils under pressure over £1bn of tobacco investments

Major investors set example to local authorities with commitment to selling shares in cigarette makers

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/may/31/uk-councils-under-pressure-over-1bn-of-tobacco-investments

Some of the world’s largest investment firms have thrown their weight behind efforts to combat smoking, sparking renewed calls for UK local authorities to divest all their shares in the tobacco industry from their pension fund investments.

More than 50 companies managing $3.8tn (£3tn) of money, including pension funds and insurers, declared support for “tobacco control measures being taken around the world” – even though some of them still own shares in tobacco businesses.

In a joint statement, released to coincide with World No Tobacco Day, they said: “We in the investment community are becoming increasingly aware of the important role we can play in helping to address the health and societal impacts of tobacco.”

The firms cited studies suggesting that smoking costs the global economy more than $1tn a year, outstripping global revenues from tobacco taxes.

Signatories of the statement include Axa – the French insurance firm that sold its entire €1.8bn (£1.6bn) tobacco portfolio last year – and Calpers, the giant US fund with nearly $300bn of assets under management. Calpers has also divested itself of all its tobacco investments.

While some large investors have sold tobacco holdings, funds managing the pension investments of UK local authority staff still own at least £1bn of tobacco stocks, according to analysis by the Guardian.

The share register of British American Tobacco (BAT), owner of Benson & Hedges and Lucky Strike, includes 28 local government schemes, which together own a combined £700m stake in the company.

The council with the largest investment in BAT is Hampshire county council, with about £81m of pensioners’ money invested in the firm. BAT has an office in Southampton, but ceased production of cigarettes at the site in 2007.

Nottinghamshire Local Government Pension Fund is second with about £62m worth of shares and is also among the largest investors in Imperial Brands, which makes Embassy and Superkings. Cigarettes were produced in Nottingham until May last year.

Imperial counts 19 local authorities among its shareholders, with their investments adding up to nearly £290m.

In total, share registers disclose that local authorities own close to £1bn of shares in the two companies. Their total tobacco investment is likely to be higher if they are invested in separate funds that also count cigarette companies among their portfolio of shares.

One of the obstacles to council pension funds selling tobacco stocks is a legal argument that trustees are obliged to prioritise the need to maximise investment returns over anything else.

But guidance issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government said trustees did have some room for manoeuvre.

“Although schemes should make the pursuit of a financial return their predominant concern, they may also take purely non-financial considerations into account provided that doing so would not involve significant risk of financial detriment to the scheme and where they have good reason to think that scheme members would support their decision.”

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the health charity Ash (Action on Smoking and Health), said this left the door open for selling tobacco stocks.

“Historically, investment in tobacco was seen as safe, promising good returns, but increasingly fund managers are realising investing in tobacco is neither acceptable nor sustainable,” she said.

“Local authority pension funds have a legal duty to get the best deal for their pensioners, but if big investment funds like Axa can disinvest then surely local authorities, which have a legal duty to promote the health of local people, can do the same.”

Dr Bronwyn King, an oncologist who was instrumental in persuading Axa to drop its tobacco investments, said local governments should give serious thought to divesting, particularly given the cost to the public purse of smoking-related illness.

“We call on all government-related pension funds and sovereign wealth funds to look again at their policy,” she said.

“The health sector across the world is unified on tobacco but that alone won’t be enough. If the finance sector continues to invest in tobacco and strives to profit from it, we’re working against each other.”

The statement by investors calling for tighter tobacco control was issued at a conference in Paris to mark the annual no-tobacco day, started by the World Health Organization. WHO has estimated that tobacco claims more than 7 million lives each year.

Thomas Buberl, chief executive of Axa, was among the speakers at the event, a year on from the company’s decision to sell all its tobacco stakes.

“As the Axa group strives to be a partner in society, it is clear that action must be taken to combat the enormous human costs of tobacco,” said Buberl.

“I am convinced we must work together if we want to bring about change. Therefore, we are very proud to be working with other major financial actors and key stakeholders in support of governments to take action on tobacco control.”

House panel detains 6 Ilocos employees, orders Imee Marcos to appear in P66-M tobacco fund misuse probe

For refusing to answer questions during a congressional hearing on the alleged misuse of Ilocos Norte tobacco funds, six employees of the province’s Treasurer’s Office were cited in contempt and ordered detained at the House of Representatives on Monday, May 29.

http://www.interaksyon.com/house-panel-detains-6-ilocos-norte-employees-orders-imee-marcos-to-appear-in-p66-m-tobacco-fund-misuse-probe/

Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, who is being accused by Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas of allegedly diverting P66.45 million in tobacco funds to buy motor vehicles, was also subpoenaed by the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability chaired by Surigao Del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel to appear in the next hearing after skipping two previous hearings.

Pedro Agacaoili, chairman of the office’s Bids and Awards Committee and head of the provincial and planning development office; Josephine Calajate, provincial treasurer; Edna Battulayan, accountant; provincial budget officer Evangeline Tabulog; and two other employees, Genedine Jambaro and Encarnacion Gaor, were brought to the House Sergeant-at-Arms’ office where they would be temporarily held.

During the inquiry on Monday, the six employees repeatedly told the House panel that they could not recall receiving millions in cash advances or authorizing the release of funds for the purchase of various vehicles.

Fariñas grilled the employees on the allegedly anomalous purchase of minicabs, buses, and trucks in 2011 and 2012 using the share of the province from tobacco funds.

The lawmaker chastised the employees for their allegedly “dismissive” answers and also warned that cases against them would pile up if they continue trying to get off the hook.

“Magpapalusot kayo, dadami lalo ang kaso n’yo,” said Fariñas.

According to Fariñas, the vehicles were purchased through cash advances from the province’s share from excise taxes derived from locally produced cigarettes or the special support fund under Republic Act No.7171 or the Act to Promote the Development of the Farmer in the Virgina Tobacco-Producing Provinces.

The lawmaker claimed the purchase of the vehicles had violated provisions of R.A. 7171 because the law mandates Virginia tobacco-producing provinces to use 15 percent of their share of excise taxes from locally produced cigarettes for projects that will help advance tobacco farmers’ self reliance through the establishment of cooperatives and livelihood, agro-industrial, and infrastructure projects.

Also, Fariñas claimed there was no public bidding in the purchase of the vehicles in violation of Republic Act 9814 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.

Marcos’ camp on Monday said the governor was on “medical sick leave.”

Fariñas and Marcos used to be allies under what was being pushed as the One Ilocos Norte bloc, but in 2015, they cut ties due to political differences.

Imee’s mother, Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, the former first lady and wife of the late president Ferdinand Marcos, represents the second district of Ilocos Norte. Fariñas represents the First District. Both officials are in their last terms in the House and will serve only until 2019.

How Trump Ally Myron Ebell Spread Misinformation for Big Tobacco and Big Oil

The former head of President Trump’s EPA transition team played a central role in the corporate-led attack on public perceptions about tobacco and climate change.

http://www.alternet.org/environment/how-trump-ally-myron-ebell-spread-misinformation-big-tobacco-and-big-oil

“Frontiers will [change] the debate from one about teenage smoking and industry practices to one about massive tax increases, bigger government and loss of individual freedom.” — Frontiers of Freedom funding proposal to Philip Morris

When Phillip Morris didn’t like new FDA regulations that targeted cigarette sales to children and teens, Myron Ebell—who recently served as the head of President Trump’s EPA transition team—was there to “change the debate” to fit the tobacco giant’s agenda.

The FDA’s proposed regulations included prohibiting outdoor advertising of any tobacco products near schools or playgrounds, strictly regulating labeling and prohibiting tobacco company sponsorships of public events. To fight the new restrictions, tobacco-industry-funded Frontiers for Freedom started a campaign to cast doubt on the validity of the new regulations.

Frontiers, a conservative “educational foundation,” hired Ebell as policy director to help run the campaign, even using his name to raise money for the project. In a fundraising letter to Philip Morris in 1998, Frontiers highlighted Ebell as an example of why more funding was needed to run an organized push to make regulating the tobacco industry “politically unpalatable.”

The Frontiers campaign was pure spin. The tobacco companies’ First Amendment rights were being trampled on, it claimed—more Big Government overreach. From pushing the dubious claim that rules infringed on smokers’ and tobacco companies’ rights to blaming smokers themselves, Ebell oversaw Frontier’s tobacco-industry-funded drive to fight regulation. It took a fourteen-year battle for Congress to pass the regulations and make them stick. In the end, the tobacco advertising regulations made significant progress in curbing teen smoking. No thanks to Ebell and Frontiers for Freedom.

In April of 1998, Ebell and a handful of other marketing experts sat around a table with some of the largest U.S. fossil fuel companies to discuss a plan for a similar attack on climate science. Representatives from Exxon, Chevron, utility giant Southern Company and the American Petroleum Institute worked with operatives from established conservative think tanks and public relations wonks to draft a program designed to attack public and political perceptions about climate change. They dubbed it “The Global Climate Science Communications Plan.”

The plan’s strategy was similar to Frontier’s anti-regulation tobacco campaign. This time the goal was to make climate-change-related regulation politically unpalatable.

The foundation of the plan was to sow doubt about the scientific validity of action on climate change, even though in 1998 the science was already solid. Of the ninety-six papers published on global warming that year, just one disagreed about man’s activities driving warming. That truth about the state of the science was replaced with a push to convince “a majority of the American public” that “significant uncertainties exist in climate science.”

The seven-page directive boldly stated that “victory will be achieved when” the uncertainties about climate science are part of “common knowledge,” when media recognizes and covers those uncertainties and when those promoting action on climate science appear out of touch.

Strategies and tactics of the plan included:

• Recruit and train a team of scientists for media outreach
• Produce a steady stream of op-eds written by these scientists
• Organize and teach conservative grassroots groups
• Become a one-stop-shop for members of Congress, state leaders and teachers looking for information about climate change
• Distribute materials directly to schools and convince a national TV journalist to produce a TV program outlining the supposed uncertainties

It worked.

In 2007, television journalist John Stossel did a bang-up job promoting climate confusion with his special, “Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity,” for a special edition of “20/20.” By 2016, a Pew poll found only 9 percent of conservative Republicans believed that climate research reflects the best available evidence, while 57 percent of that same group felt that climate research is influenced not by valid science, but by scientists’ desire to advance their careers.

In 1999, Ebell moved to Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian think tank funded by many of the same oil companies he’d sat around the table with the year before to hatch the plan to misinform the American public. From 1998 to 2005, ExxonMobil provided CEI with over $2 million dollars of funding. As director of CEI’s Center for Energy and Environment, Ebell put the plan to work.

Impacting the voice of elected officials was another key aspect of “victory” named in the 1998 disinformation plan. By that measure success was swift in coming. Just two years after the plan was hatched, CEI joined with conservative Senator James Inhofe as co-plaintiff in a lawsuit over the National Assessment, a federal report on climate change’s impacts on the United State.

The lawsuit was designed to suppress publication and distribution of recent climate science findings. In 2003, CEI sued the U.S. government directly, demanding the National Assessment not be disseminated. In 2005, Senator Inhofe joined with Ebell and other climate science deniers on a speaker’s panel for a CEI panel to discuss the Future of International and U.S. Climate Policy. By 2012, Ebell was bragging on his blog about Inhofe’s legislation to block EPA regulations. It was a victory: Climate-change-related regulation had become politically unpalatable.

Opposition to the validity of climate science skyrocketed among conservative politicians after 1998. Fighting all government action on global warming is now a bullet point on the GOP’s purity test. Over that same period, oil industry financial support for political campaigns and lobbying efforts have overwhelmingly gone to Republicans.

The election of Donald Trump was icing on the climate science denial cake. Ebell was tapped to head Trump’s EPA transition team. Eighteen years of work deceiving the public finally paid off for Ebell. His dream of drastically reducing the power of the EPA is being realized. Ebell headed Trump’s EPA transition team. He oversaw the writing of a policy paper—not available to the public—that will steer fellow climate science denier and EPA antagonist-turned-EPA head Scott Pruitt. Under Pruitt’s leadership, climate-change-related regulations will be rolled back and the EPA’s budget will be cut by 24percent.

Ebell has no background in science. He studied philosophy and has a master’s degree in political theory. His understanding of modern climate science sounds like this:

The models say that much of the warming will occur in the upper latitudes and in the winter. At the risk of further ridicule in kooky blogs in England, where global warming alarmism is now a religion, that sounds pretty good to me. Fewer people will die from the cold.

Fossil fuel industries got what they wanted. Conservative politicians got what they wanted. CEI got what it wanted. Ebell got what he wanted. All at the expense of the environment, public health and the stability of future generations.

Hope Forpeace is a short film producer with AK Productions. She spoke before the EPA’s Scientific Advisory in 2015 and coordinated the effort to have EPA’s fracking study include known cases of water contamination. She has traveled across the country for several years investigating cases of fracking-related pollution.

$127 Billion Australian Manager Dumps Tobacco, Weapons Investing

Australia’s largest publicly traded wealth manager is ditching stock and debt investments in companies with ties to tobacco, cluster munitions and land mines, in the latest push for ethical investing in the nation.

AMP Capital Investors, the investment management arm of AMP Ltd., is dumping about A$440 million ($338 million) worth of investments in tobacco manufacturing-related companies and about A$130 million in land mine and cluster munition manufacturers. The moves come as AMP Capital rolls out a new decision- making framework across its A$165 billion investment portfolio, the wealth manager said in a March 16 statement.

“We are not prepared to deliver investment returns to customers at any cost to society,” AMP Capital Chief Executive Officer Adam Tindall said in the statement. “AMP Capital has a long-term focus on responsible investing supported by an integrated approach to considering ESG factors across all asset classes.”

Growing Demand

The money manager’s decision comes amid burgeoning demand for ethical investments in Australia’s A$2.2 trillion retirement savings pool. Assets at funds that screen out investments that don’t meet ethical investing criteria grew by 16 percent to A$24.7 billion in 2015-16, according to the Responsible Investment Association Australasia.

AMP, which also controls insurance and banking businesses Down Under, will implement a new framework that considers harm as well as “denial of humanity” when determining investment decisions. Tobacco manufacturers were culled under the framework because their products were addictive, while cluster munitions and biological weapons would “indiscriminately kill through normal use,” the company said.

The sales of the stakes will occur progressively throughout 2017, AMP said in the statement. The company engaged the help of consulting group, The Ethics Centre, to create its ethical investing framework, according to the statement.

“AMP Capital still firmly believes in company engagement in order to effect meaningful change,” Tindall said. “In the case of tobacco, cluster munitions, land mines, biological and chemical weapons manufacturers, however, no engagement can override the inherent dangers involved with their products.”