Daily Archives: February 27, 2020

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Reads Green New Deal into Congressional Record

Feb 27, 2020

On Capitol Hill, New York Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez read the entirety of the Green New Deal into the Congressional Record Wednesday, one year after she first introduced the historic legislation.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “I realized that many of my colleagues have never even read the resolution that they’re speaking on. They haven’t opened a single word of it. And it’s actually only about — I have it right in front of me — just 14 pages long. So I have decided that since my colleagues, some of my colleagues across the aisle, could not for some reason read the resolution, that perhaps this hour would be spent best reading it to them.”

The Green New Deal seeks to bring the U.S. to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in 10 years, while investing in public transit and federal jobs, fully transitioning the U.S. electricity grid off fossil fuels and codifying indigenous peoples’ rights to prior consent and approval for decisions that affect them.


Trump Cancels NYC Climate Resiliency Study After Mocking Planned Sea Wall

Feb 27, 2020

In climate news, the Trump administration has abruptly halted a project to protect the New York City region from flooding due to rising seas and extreme weather, just weeks after President Trump mocked plans to build a sea wall to protect the city as “costly, foolish & environmentally unfriendly.” The move ends a $19 million project by the Army Corps of Engineers to research what steps would best protect residents of coastal New York and New Jersey, along with low-lying areas of New York Harbor.



Trump Blames “Caronavirus” Fears on Democrats and Fake News Reporting

Feb 27, 2020

In the U.S., President Trump has sought repeatedly to dismiss the threat of the coronavirus, tweeting on Wednesday morning, “Low Ratings Fake News MSDNC (Comcast) & CNN are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible. Likewise their incompetent Do Nothing Democrat comrades are all talk, no action. USA in great shape!” President Trump tweeted, misspelling the word “coronavirus.”

Trump’s comments prompted alarm among lawmakers — both Democrats and Republicans. This is Democratic Congressmember Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts questioning Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Wednesday.

Rep. Joe Kennedy: “Mr. Secretary, I don’t want to panic over this, either. The stock market’s crashing. He’s trying to stop a stock market. He’s not trying — he’s outright contradicting everything that you all have just said. Outright contradiction.”

HHS Secretary Alex Azar: “I think he’s expressing confidence in” —

Rep. Joe Kennedy: “With no medical basis for it. That’s what you’ve just explained to us. Come on, sir.”

HHS Secretary Alex Azar: “No, there’s — he’s expressing that there — he’s expressing that the American people need to take a breath here, that there’s no change to anyone’s daily life from this, that the country has a plan. We have pandemic plans.”

Trump Taps VP Mike Pence, Who’s Blamed for Indiana HIV Outbreak, to Lead Coronavirus Response

Feb 27, 2020

Late Wednesday, President Trump held a news conference at the White House, where he said he’s tapped Vice President Mike Pence to coordinate the federal response to the coronavirus. Pence is not a public health expert, and as governor of Indiana he slashed public health spending and is widely blamed for an outbreak of HIV in his home state. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta is warning the true number of U.S. coronavirus cases might be higher than reported because test kits sent out nationwide earlier this month included a faulty component. After headlines, we’ll discuss the growing threat of the coronavirus.


“Pence is Not a Medical Expert”: Is the Trump Admin Ready to Stop a U .S. Coronavirus Pandemic?

Democracy Now!
Feb 27, 2020

The coronavirus disease that was first diagnosed in China’s Hubei province has now spread to at least 47 countries and every continent except Antarctica. The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak an international health emergency. President Trump sought to play down the threat from coronavirus and announced Vice President Mike Pence would be his point person to coordinate government efforts to prevent a widespread outbreak. As Trump spoke, a new milestone in the novel coronavirus outbreak was reported, in a possible example of community spread: A person was diagnosed with the virus in Northern California who had not traveled to any of the affected regions of the world, nor had known contact with anyone else who did. We speak with Laurie Garrett, former senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations and a Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer. She is the author of several books, including “Ebola: Story of an Outbreak,” “The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance” and “Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health.”

“Dead Bodies Everywhere”: Hindu Nationalist Violence Rocks Delhi as Trump Visits Modi in India

Democracy Now!

Feb 27, 2020

In India, the death toll from anti-Muslim violence in Delhi has risen to at least 34, with police accused of turning a blind eye to assaults on Muslims committed by Hindu nationalist mobs. The violence began Sunday, when groups of Hindus attacked peaceful sit-ins of Muslims protesting against Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new citizenship law, which widely restricts Muslim immigration to India. Modi said nothing as the violence continued for days, instead hosting President Donald Trump on a two-day state visit in which Trump heaped praise on the Indian prime minister. We speak with Neha Dixit, independent Indian journalist, and Priya Gopal, lecturer at the University of Cambridge and author of “Insurgent Empire: Anticolonial Resistance and British Dissent.”

How the Climate Crisis Is Making the Spread of Infectious Diseases Like Coronavirus More Common

Democracy Now!

Feb 27, 2020

Sonia Shah is an investigative science journalist and author of “Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond.” Her new book is titled “The Next Great Migration: The Beauty and Terror of Life on the Move” and will be published in June. She says the climate crisis is making outbreaks of infectious diseases more common, with the destruction of natural animal habitats and the changes in migration bringing humans and animals into ever-closer contact and making new pathogens more likely. Her latest article, published in The Nation, is titled “Think Exotic Animals Are to Blame for the Coronavirus? Think Again.”

ANALYSIS: Protestors, University struggle to see eye to eye on divestment


Matt Kristoffersen & Valerie Pavilonis 1:03 am, Dec 03, 2019

Staff Reporters   Marisa Peryer

More than a week after the halftime protest at Yale-Harvard game drew national attention, activists and the University remain at odds — with the students unable to confirm claims about specific holdings in the endowment and Yale unwilling to disclose its investments.

In interviews, the protestors said they are advocating for divestment from fossil fuel industries and Puerto Rican debt in general. They broadly consider investing in fossil fuel industries and Puerto Rican debt “morally reprehensible,” the student activists said.

Nora Heaphy ’21 — who helped organize the Nov. 23 protest — said most members of the University lack intimate knowledge of Yale’s holdings and explained that organizers’ activism does not depend on whether or not the University is currently investing in specific industries. Instead, she said, her team is pushing for Yale to put out a public statement morally condemning — and naming — these holdings and pledging not to invest in them “now or in the future.”

The Yale Investment Office typically does not comment on where it allocates its roughly $30 billion endowment. In

an email to the News, University President Peter Salovey added that while Yale does not favor divestment, it requests outside endowment managers to avoid companies that do not consider the social and economic costs of climate change and fail to take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Yale has the will and the capacity to make a profound difference in the fight for our planet’s future, Salovey said.

Meanwhile, Ivy League universities jointly issued a statement calling it regrettable that the orchestrated protest came during a celebrated tradition and a collegiate career-defining contest for student athletes.

According to Alex Cohen ’21, who participated in the divestment protest, students have been combing through public forms from the Internal Revenue Services and U.S. Security Exchange Commission to verify whether the University makes ethically questionable investments. The student activists do not have access to Yale’s current holdings. The University’s quarterly 13F filings to the SEC is filed by institutional investment managers that oversee assets of over $100 million. Yale, which invests the majority of its endowment through external investment managers, only discloses to the SEC the investments made directly by staff in the Investments Office.

…(read more).

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Fossil Free Yale (@FossilFreeYale) / Twitter

Students for endowment justice. We demand that @Yale cancel its holdings in Puerto Rico’s debt and divest from fossil fuels.

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Yale Endowment Justice Coalition




as well as:


What is the Yale endowment

An endowment is an ongoing pot of income for a “non-profit” organization. Established in 1718, Yale’s endowment consists of money donated to Yale, as well as money Yale invests.

As of June 2018 Yale’s endowment was valued at $29.4 billion

It’s managed by the Yale Investments Office, run by Chief Investment Officer David Swenson. Swenson is Yale’s highest paid employee.

It makes approximately $8 million per day, and a return of 6-12% annually.

The endowment funds are designated for the long-term funding of University operations, with the majority of funds going towards “undesignated” expenses, “miscellaneous specific purposes,” and professorships. The remaining quarter of the endowment is designated for financial aid, maintenance and books.

Yale’s the second largest university endowment in the world.

Our Demands

Endowment Justice at Yale is a campaign for ethical investment practices at Yale University, comprised of members from across the Yale community, including students, faculty and alumni. We are not members of a single organization or interest group, nor do we share a single political ideology. We are united in our belief that through the endowment Yale is complicit in violence and economic injustice in our own communities and around the world. The only ethical action Yale can take is to cancel its unethical holdings and divest. We are committed to educating the Yale community on the endowment and getting Yale to divest by using a diversity of tactics, including direct action.

We demand that Yale divest from fossil fuels and cancel holdings in Puerto Rican debt.

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FFY submits new demands to Swensen

Jingyi Cui 12:36 am, Apr 17, 2018

Staff Reporter

Around 30 members and supporters of Fossil Free Yale, a student group dedicated to pressuring the University to divest its endowment from the fossil fuel industry, delivered a set of demands to the Investments Office on Friday afternoon.

Chanting “Yale says more money; we say time’s up,” students gathered outside the office while two members of Fossil Free Yale entered the building and presented the list to an assistant to Chief Investment Officer David Swensen. In addition to urging Yale to disclose its holdings in fossil fuel companies and exposure to Puerto Rican debt by Sept. 1, the protesters demanded that the University begin divesting from fossil fuels and instructing fund managers to forgive Puerto Rican debt by the same date. Zach Montas ’21, a member of Fossil Free Yale and attendee at the rally, said the set of demands marks the start of a long advocacy campaign that will escalate in the fall, if Yale fails to comply.

In a statement to the News on Monday, the Investments Office said Yale has taken “a constructive approach” that addresses fossil fuel concerns across its investment portfolio. The Yale Corporation Committee on Investor Responsibility — which presents recommendations on endowment investment decisions to the full Corporation — decided against recommending fossil fuel divestments in 2014.

“Climate change is a serious issue,” the Investments Office’s statement said. “Yale has gone on the record to say that greenhouse gas emissions ‘pose a grave threat to human existence’ and asked our external managers to avoid companies that refuse to acknowledge the social and financial costs of climate change and that fail to take economically sensible steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The office did not address students’ demand that managers cancel Puerto Rican debt in the statement.

In an email to the News Monday night, law professor and chair of the Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility — which advises the Yale Corporation Committee on Investor Responsibility on ethical investments — Jonathan Macey said that the advisory committee has considered the issue of Puerto Rican debt.

“Thus far we haven’t seen [any] allegations of unethical debt collection efforts or practices,” Macey wrote. “In addition, the managers who control these investments have fiduciary duties to their investors that likely preclude them from unilaterally forgiving Puerto Rico’s payment obligations should any arise in the future.”

The statement also highlighted actions the Investments Office has taken in recent years to address fossil fuel concerns. In August 2014, Swensen wrote to all of Yale’s active investment managers, urging them to consider the impact of climate change when evaluating investment opportunities. And, in an email to the Yale community in April 2016, Swensen stated that since his 2014 letter, Yale’s investment managers had sold $10 million in holdings that were deemed inconsistent with Yale’s approach.

In response to the activists’ request that Yale disclose its portfolio holdings, the Investments Office said that doing so would be “antithetical to a successful active management program.”

“Disclosing Yale’s investment holdings would impair the University’s ability to generate excess returns,” the office wrote. “Disclosure is not essential to what the activists are attempting to achieve, because under Yale’s ethical investment policies and practices, Yale will consider divestment of any investment, regardless of whether the targeted company is in Yale’s portfolio.”

In a 2014 statement, the Yale Corporation Committee on Investor Responsibility argued that while climate change poses a grave threat to human welfare, the actions that Fossil Free Yale proposes Yale take — divestment or shareholder engagement as a precondition to divestment — “are neither the right means of addressing this serious threat, nor would they be effective.”

Both the committee’s 2014 statement and the Investments Office’s Monday statement say that fossil fuel consumption, not production, is the root cause of climate change. Unless alternative energy technologies and infrastructure are developed and widely implemented, fossil fuels will remain essential to some degree, the office wrote.

Responding to the office’s statement, Fossil Free Yale member Ben Levin ’20 said Swensen relied on economic arguments — as opposed to social considerations — in both his 2014 email advising money managers to consider the risks of climate change and in his justification for not disclosing Yale’s holdings.

“The logic of maximization that they are concerned with, that they are using to justify their nondisclosure, is the problem,” Levin said.

He added that placing the blame for climate change primarily on fossil fuel consumers fails to take into account political campaigns led by Exxon Mobil and other oil and gas companies since the 1970s that have resulted in a retreat from climate mitigation policies.

He added that the Investments Office’s argument that fossil fuels are still essential to many of life’s basic necessities does not justify Yale’s investments in fossil fuels.

“Yale divesting is not going to make fossil fuel suddenly disappear,” Levin said, adding that Yale divesting would be a political statement.

Jack Schleifer ’20, a Fossil Free Yale member and attendee at the rally, stressed that climate change disproportionately affects island residents and people from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds. Given Yale’s standing as a powerful institution, Schleifer said, divesting the endowment from fossil fuel companies would represent a strong public statement.

Yale’s endowment amounted to $27.2 billion as of June 30, 2017.

Jingyi Cui | jingyi.cui

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