Hundreds of Thousands Join March for Science Rallies Across the World.
By Oliver Milman, Guardian UK
22 April 17
More than 600 marches held around the world, with organizers saying science ‘under attack’ from a White House that dismisses the threat of climate change
undreds of thousands of climate researchers, oceanographers, bird watchers and other supporters of science rallied in marches around the world on Saturday, in an attempt to bolster scientists’ increasingly precarious status with politicians.
The main March for Science event was held in Washington DC, where organizers made plans for up to 150,000 people to flock to the national mall, although somewhat fewer than that figure braved the rain to attend. Marchers held a range of signs. Some attacked Donald Trump, depicting the president as an ostrich with his head in the sand or bearing the words: “What do Trump and atoms have in common? They make up everything.”
More than 600 marches took place around the world, on every continent bar Antarctica, in events that coincided with Earth Day.
The marches, the first of their kind, were officially non-political. They were however conceived by three US-based researchers – Caroline Weinberg, Valorie Aquino and Jonathan Berman – after Trump’s inauguration. Organizers have said science is “under attack” from the Trump administration and many protesters excoriated the president with signs that likened him to a dangerous orange toxin or disparaged his now defunct university.
Trump released a statement that insisted his administration was committed to preserving the “awe-inspiring beauty” of America, while protecting jobs.
“Rigorous science is critical to my administration’s efforts to achieve the twin goals of economic growth and environmental protection,” Trump said. “My administration is committed to advancing scientific research that leads to a better understanding of our environment and of environmental risks.
“As we do so, we should remember that rigorous science depends not on ideology, but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate.”
The US marches were some of the last to take place, following hundreds across the world. A common theme among protesters was a worry that politicians have rejected science-based policies.
“I’m encouraged by the marches I’ve seen already taking place around the world,” said Rush Holt, a former congressman and head of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “For generations scientists have been reluctant to be in the public square. There is a lot of concern.”
Speakers in Washington included Christiana Figueres, the former United Nations climate chief and climate scientist Michael Mann. Hundreds of scientific institutions, environmental groups and union groups partnered with the march.
“There’s very low morale among government scientists because science is under assault from this administration,” Mann told the Guardian. “That being said, events like this will lift the spirits of scientists. They are finding a voice.”
Pharmaceutical companies, concerned about the impact on research talent of Trump’s attempts to ban or restrict travel from certain Muslim-majority countries, risked his wrath by supporting the march. In a video, Pfizer said it was “proud to stand behind our scientists”.
Trump has galvanized scientists with his comments about climate change, which he has called a “hoax”, as well as questions about whether vaccines are safe and threats to cut funding to universities that displease him.
The White House’s recent budget proposal would remove around $7bn in science funding, with the National Institutes of Health, which funds medical research, bearing much of the pain. Earth sciences, ranging from weather satellites to marine research to coastal preservation, are also lined up for severe cuts.
Climate change was at the heart of the March for Science, spurred on by dismissals of the issue by Trump and his top advisers. Budget director Mick Mulvaney has said climate research is a “waste of your money”. Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, has erroneously denied that carbon dioxide is a primary driver of global warming.
Other areas of science have been all but abandoned. The president has yet to nominate administrators for Nasa and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, nor to appoint his own science adviser.
John Holdren, science adviser during Barack Obama’s presidency, said Trump had “shown no indication of awareness of the role of science and the role of science in government”.
“Scientists are understanding that they have to become activists, that they have to speak up, that they have to be heard,” he said. “The message isn’t, ‘Please save our jobs.’ Scientists would be in another line of work if they were just interested in their salaries. If funding for science is slashed, all of society will lose out.”
The march has proved controversial within the science community, which is typically reluctant to be overtly political. Some scientists have raised concerns that the marches will invite attacks by Trump and his supporters, or will fail to convince the public that science has inherent value.
But several famous voices have joined the cause. “Science has always been political but we don’t want science to be partisan,” Bill Nye, a prominent engineer and TV personality, told the Guardian.
“Objective truths have become set aside and diminished and lawmakers are acting like a strong belief in something is as valid as careful peer review.”
Nye said science was in a “dangerous place” but hoped the march would help nudge Trump to a more amenable position.
“The president changes his mind quite frequently,” he said. “We want to influence the people who influence him. That’s our goal for the march.”
Leland Melvin, a former Nasa astronaut who participated in two missions, criticized the administration’s plans to eliminate Nasa’s education budget.
“Doing that would keep people like me from getting a masters or PhD,” he said. “If we want brown people and women getting these degrees and get them involved in science, we have to fund it. The administration needs to get its head out of the sand.”
Cristian Samper, president of the Wildlife Conservation Society, said the march aimed “to celebrate science, not to politicize it”.
“Science is behind the good news and bad news about wildlife conservation ,” he said. “it has nothing to do with the fake news. Science is the antithesis of fake news.”
The marches came one week before the People’s Climate March, a series of large-scale events focused on climate change that will be more overtly political.
“Attacks on science don’t just hurt scientists, they hurt scientists’ ability to protect the people, and climate change epitomizes that,” said Dr Geoffrey Supran, an expert in renewable energy at Harvard University.
“When politicians cater to fossil fuel interests by denying the basic realities of climate science and pursuing anti-science climate policy, they endanger the jobs, justice, and livelihoods of ordinary people everywhere.”
Science in America
By Neil deGrasse Tyson,
Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Facebook Page
22 April 2017
The Day We Marched for Science
Neil deGrasse Tyson is an American astrophysicist, author, and science communicator.
Since 1996, he has been the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at
the Rose Center for Earth and Space in New York City.
A century ago Albert Einstein laid the theoretical foundation for the laser. Many will argue that all science should be practical, with tangible stated benefits to society. But history shows this posture to be frankly, naïve. When Einstein derived his equations, I’d bet neither he nor anyone else was thinking “Barcodes!” or “Lasik Surgery!” or “Rock Concerts!”
Consider the 1920s, when quantum physics was discovered. It was obscure and esoteric in its day, but now, there’s no creation, storage, or retrieval of digital information without an understanding of the quantum. By some measures, IT drives more than one third of the world’s GDP. Delay that research two decades, you might only now be getting your first email account. Cancel it altogether for being frivolous, and the AM radio continues as a major item of furniture in your living room.
Science has only one goal: to determine the world’s objective truths. Meanwhile, like anybody else, scientists are susceptible to bias that can distort one’s own observations and judgments. Self-aware, scientists specifically constructed methods and tools to minimize, if not remove entirely, the chance that a researcher thinks something is true that is not, or that something is not true that is. Furthermore, you’re famous overnight if you can show conclusively that someone else’s idea is wrong. Yes, the entire enterprise thrives on built-in, error-checking mechanisms.
This means scientific truths emerge by consensus — not of opinion, but of observations and measurements — rendering the research that falls outside of consensus the shakiest possible grounds on which to base policy. Politics is not a foundation on which you base your science. Science is a foundation on which you base your politics, lest you undermine a functioning, informed democracy.
In 1862 Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, understood this. A time when he clearly had other concerns, Lincoln creates the Land-grant university system, transforming education and agriculture in America. And in 1863 he creates the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), an independent, multidisciplinary group of researchers tasked with advising our government in all ways science matters to its needs.
With the help of Congress, the run of US presidents with enlightened scientific foresight through the 20th century crosses the left-right political aisle like an Alpine slalom skier:
In 1916 Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat, creates the National Park Service, an idea championed by Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican.
In 1930 Herbert Hoover, a Republican, creates the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Harry S Truman, a Democrat, creates the the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1950.
In 1958 Dwight D. Eisenhower, a Republican, creates the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
In 1962 John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, announces we’re going to explore the Moon. We do that, and discover Earth for the first time.
In 1970, with Mother Earth now on our radar, President Nixon, a Republican, creates the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and later that year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
In the mid 1990s, Bill Clinton, a Democrat, boosts R&D funding that enables an exponential growth of the internet, as tens of millions of Americans come on line.
The creation of the NSF deserves some exposition. It was inspired by the 1945 report Science: The Endless Frontier. Written by Truman’s science advisor Vannevar Bush, the report compellingly argues for government-funded science as a driver of our wealth, our health, and our security. He further notes, “A nation which depends on others for its new basic scientific knowledge will be slow in its industrial progress and weak in its competitive position in world trade, regardless of its mechanical skill.” Bush also observed, “In 1939 millions of people were employed in industries which did not even exist at the close of the last war.” America in the 20th century would become the world’s largest economy, leading in every important category of innovation and production.
Meanwhile, did you ever wonder who conducts science in America? From 1900 onwards, on average about 10% of Americans have been first-generation immigrants. Yet first-generation immigrants have won 33% of all American Nobel prizes in the sciences since the award began in 1900, representing thirty-five countries from six continents. So immigrants to America are three times more productive at winning Nobel prizes than population statistics would predict.
Do you prefer one branch of science over another because you think its discoveries will be more useful in coming years? Consider that in hospitals, every machine with an on/off switch that diagnoses your health without first cutting you open, is based on one or more principles of physics, discovered by physicists and chemists who had no specific interest in medicine. This includes the MRI, PET scans, CT Scans, EKGs, EEGs, ultrasound, and of course, good old fashioned X-rays. So if you defund one line of research in favor of another, you thwart the entire moving frontier of discovery. In the end, nature cross-pollinates all sciences, so perhaps we should too.
To reclaim America’s greatness, anyone with business acumen could think of science investments within our various government agencies as the R&D of a corporation called the USA. Science is not a Liberal Conspiracy. It’s not even bi-partisan. Science is a fundamentally non-partisan enterprise that serves us all. Without it, watch America fade from relevance on the world stage, as we gasp for an era of scientifically enlightened governance to rise once again.
Bertelsmann Stiftung at PRESSE CLUB CONCORDIA, Bankgasse 8, 1010 Vienna.
TUESDAY APRIL 25, 2017, 11:00-14:00
with Academics originally from Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Nigeria, Sudan.
In 2015 – one million refugees to europe; in 2016 – 300,000; in 2017 – what now?
TURKEY IS A SPECIAL CASE – Many of their Austrian Residents and Citizens are now lining up
at the Turkish government representations to turn back their Turkish Passports and renouncing their Turkish Citizenship. This in order to avoid the Stigma of dual citizenship that
Mr. Erdogan forced theM into by campaigning among them for his intent to undo democracy in his country. They voted for him forgetting that he became persona non grata in Europe and so will they.
’Escaping the escape – Europe and the refugee crisis’
Tuesday, 25 April 2017, 11:00-14:00 hrs
Bertelsmann Stiftung in cooperation with The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (wiiw)
Presseclub Concordia Bankgasse 8
In 2015, more than one million refugees and migrants came to Europe, in 2016 nearly 300,000. How many will enter in 2017? What can we, in Europe, expect with wars and conflicts continuing and driving people from our neighbourhood to European shores? What is the situation in the source and transit countries of refugees and migrants that are most affected? How can the life of refugees, migrants and host communities be improved?
Listen to and debate with experts from Afghanistan, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Libya, Sudan and Nigeria: what solutions for the humanitarian migration crisis do they recommend? What are their proposals for EU actors to improve European policies?
Be our guest and meet
Mariam Safi, Afghanistan, founding director of the Organization for Policy Research and Development Studies (DROPS);
Dane Taleski, FYROM, adjunct professor at the South East European University in T etovo/Skopje;
Zakariya El Zaidy, Libya, protection team leader for the Danish Refugee Council in Libya; J. Shola Omotola, Nigeria, professor of Political Science at the Federal University Oye
Ekiti in Nigeria; and
Amira Ahmed Mohamed, Sudan, assistant professor at the Department of International Development and Social Change at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.
We will take this opportunity to launch a new Bertelsmann Stiftung publication
’Escaping the Escape – Toward solutions for the humanitarian migration crisis’
Please register for the event.
AND FOR THE ERDOGAN IMPOSED PROBLEM OF THE AUSTRIAN TURKS:
Zweitpass zurück! Türken stürmen nun die Konsulate
Angst vor Strafen
Neuer Wirbel um illegale Doppelstaatsbürger: Die heimischen Konsulate werden auch nach dem Ende des türkischen Verfassungsreferendums von Austro-Türken gestürmt – diesmal allerdings nicht wegen eines “Ja” zur umstrittenen Reform von Präsident Recep Tayyip Erdogan, sondern um verbotene Zweitpässe abzugeben! Offenbar geht die Angst vor Strafen um …
Thousands of people in hundreds of places worldwide will take to the streets in support for science on Earth Day, taking place this year on Saturday (22 April), in an event underlining the difficult relationship between science and politics.
The idea of a global March of Science developed shortly after the inauguration of US president Donald Trump in January, amid fears that his term would be marked by disregard for facts and research.
Some 517 rallies have been registered so far, with the main one taking place in Washington.
But Calum MacKichan, a Scotsman who organises the march in Brussels, said the goal was much broader than just an anti-Trump protest.
“We want to celebrate science and the role it plays in everyday lives, protect facts and promote dialogue between the scientific community and the public,” MacKichan said at a press event on Thursday (20 April).
Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, a Belgian professor who is the former vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and Bas Eickhout, a Dutch MEP for the Green group, were also present at the gathering.
They said there was need for scientists to play a wider role in public life, also on this side of the Atlantic.
Van Ypersele welcomed that Earth Day’s theme this year is climate literacy, and said scientists should be in broader dialogue with both the public and politicians.
Eickhout, who trained as a chemist and worked as a climate change researcher at the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, said he entered politics “out of frustration that politicians made so little with science”.
“We are pointing fingers at Trump, but we should also point them at ourselves,” he added.
Politicians are dependent on research if they are to make good decisions, but many scientists are afraid of actively providing information to politicians, Eickhout said.
“They fear it makes them into lobbyists. But I don’t think it’s lobbying what you are doing, it’s about informing decision-makers throughout the legislative process,” he said.
This would help to strengthen EU policies, he said.
The European Commission, since 2001, has been conducting impact assessments for all major legislative proposals, covering the potential economic, social and environmental benefits and costs of each proposed policy.
But Eickhout said the assessments were not as objective as one would think. Rather, impact assessments usually portray the commission’s preferred scenario as the best option.
“If I was the commission, I would do the same, so I don’t blame them for this. But I blame them for claiming that the assessments are neutral, when they in fact are designed to fit the political interests of those that commanded them,” Eickhout said.
Trump’s actions could seem like a golden opportunity for green parties, but Eickhout wasn’t so sure.
“If you really want to get policies off the ground you need a broader political basis. I fear that in Europe, climate sceptics, who had a sleeping existence, are now waking up again. They see Trump’s election as an opportunity,” the Dutch MEP said.
The new US president has said the concept of global warming was made by the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing less competitive.
Van Ypersele said, however, that Trump has also shown signs he believed in climate change.
In 2009, Trump had signed a full-page advertisement in The New York Times calling for “meaningful and effective measures to combat climate change”, just before president Barack Obama departed for the climate summit in Copenhagen.
His organisation has also used the term “global warming and its effects” when applying for a permit to build protection against coastal erosion for his golf course in Ireland.
This Friday, join World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim in a panel discussion on mobilizing the finance and investment needed to ensure the world meets the goals of the Paris Agreement. This high-level event brings together well known voices on climate change with leaders from government, philanthropy and the private sector to focus on new ideas for financing global climate action.
Unlocking Financing for Climate Action
April 21, 2017 – 3:00-4:00 PM ET
Jim Yong Kim – President, World Bank Group
Al Gore – Former Vice President of the United States, Chairman, The Climate Reality Project
Christiana Figueres – Mission2020 Convenor
Jeff Skoll – Founder and Chairman, Skoll Foundation, Participant Media, Capricorn Investment Group and Skoll Global Threats Fund
Magdalena Andersson – Minister for Finance, Sweden
Erik Solheim – UNEP Executive Director
Moderator: Ghida Fakhry
We’re coming up on 50 years since the first Earth Day—and the Trump administration is trying to overturn most of what’s been accomplished over those decades. And it’s trying to do much of it in silence, behind the scenes.
That’s why The Nation, a longtime source of great green coverage, has never been more important. Reporters like Mark Hertsgaard, Zoë Carpenter, and Wen Stephenson have dug deep to discover what’s going on, and their reporting continues to make a real difference. I know that when I write for The Nation, people respond (that’s why I’ve just finished a piece on the big upcoming climate march in Washington, DC, on April 29).
I’m asking you today to support this journalism with a gift. Your contribution will help fund the first-rate environmental reporting you expect from The Nation.
We are facing an ecological disaster. Last year broke every record for global temperatures; Arctic and Antarctic sea ice are melting at record rates; the fossil-fuel industry is using climate know-nothings like EPA head Scott Pruitt to roll back the clock. We can’t afford to be distracted.
If we care about future generations and the most vulnerable communities, we cannot let Trump and his cronies put their interests ahead of the welfare of the earth. We must remain vigilant and informed.
We’re at a tipping point—factual and fearless reporting on the future of our planet could not be more critical than it is right now. I hope I can count on your support today.
PEOPLE FOR CLIMATE – expressions about the April 29 2017 Washington DC March – the 100th Day of Trump.
From a member of the SEIU – the Service Employees International Union.
I have been dealing with the impact of climate change my entire life. As my mom’s caretaker, I’ve seen how poor air quality has agitated her asthma and caused her constant discomfort; and as a skycap at Newark (N.J.) Liberty International Airport, the pollution from cars, buses and planes is taking a toll on me.
Airport workers are not only the first line of defense for our customers, we’re also the first ones to suffer the consequences of pollution. For 25 years, I’ve greeted customers on the curb, breathing in exhaust and smog, as I loaded their luggage, printed their tickets, and helped them board the plane.
The quality of the air you breathe and water you drink should not depend on your zip code or job duties—that’s why I’m joining the People’s Climate March on April 29 and you should, too.
We need to counteract climate change because our lives depend on it. Climate change is real, and people of color, the elderly and people with disabilities particularly feel its impacts firsthand. The devastation Hurricane Sandy did to Newark and our community is still present—even more so in low-income areas.
High pollution levels and increased exposure to environmental hazards at home and at work are a reality for too many. That’s why I’m joining working people from across the country who are calling to reduce harmful pollution that causes climate change and to leave our children with a healthier, more vibrant future.
Our last climate march was the biggest in our nation’s history—this one will be even bigger. Working families depend on the health of our communities and neighborhoods for our lives and livelihoods. We need everyone from every walk of life to come make their voices heard. Together, we can build a wide range of solutions that will benefit everyone and improve our economies and communities. Join the People’s Climate March and add your voice.
Lock arms with us Saturday, April 29th as we stand for climate action, one of the greatest challenges facing our world today. We must protect this planet and preserve its resources for the health of current and future generations.
See you in the streets,
Airport Worker, 32BJ SEIU
More Permafrost Than Thought May Be Lost as Planet Warms
By HENRY FOUNTAIN, APRIL 11, 2017
As global warming thaws the permafrost, the frozen land that covers nearly six million square miles of the earth, a big question for scientists is: How much will be lost?
The answer, according to a new analysis: more than many of them thought.
A study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Climate Change suggests that as the planet warms toward two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels, each degree Celsius of warming will lead to the thawing of about 1.5 million square miles of permafrost.
That figure is at least 20 percent higher than most previous studies, said Sarah E. Chadburn, a researcher at the University of Leeds in England and the lead author of the study.
“Previous estimates of global changes in permafrost were done using climate models,” Dr. Chadburn said. “Our approach is more based on using historical observations and extrapolating that to the future. It’s a very simple approach.”
How Americans Think About Climate Change, in Six Maps
Americans overwhelmingly believe that global warming is happening, and that carbon emissions should be scaled back. But fewer are sure that it will harm them personally.
Permafrost thaws slowly over time, but it is already causing problems in the Arctic, as slumping ground affects building foundations, roads and other infrastructure in places like the North Slope of Alaska, Yukon and parts of Siberia. The thawing also contributes to climate change, as warmed-up organic matter is decomposed by microbes, releasing more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Dr. Chadburn and her colleagues looked at how much permafrost would thaw if temperatures were to stabilize at a warming of two degrees Celsius, long a target of climate accords, or at 1.5 degrees, which the 2015 Paris agreement set as an ambitious goal.
A two-degree increase, the researchers found, would lead to a loss of about 2.5 million square miles of permafrost compared with a 1960-90 baseline, or about 40 percent of the current total.
The study showed the advantages to be gained from limiting warming to 1.5 degrees: Thawing would be reduced by about 30 percent, or 750,000 square miles.
Graphic: How 2016 Became Earth’s Hottest Year on Record
But the research also shows the potentially devastating consequences of missing either of those targets. Warming of five degrees Celsius (nine degrees Fahrenheit) would leave at most about a million square miles of permafrost, or less than 20 percent of the current total.
Edward A. G. Schuur, a permafrost expert at Northern Arizona University, said the study was “an important and interesting calculation of where permafrost will be at some distant point in the future as we undergo climate warming.”
“What’s really important is this is based on totally different assumptions,” Dr. Schuur said. “It’s useful because it gives us a different perspective.”
Dr. Chadburn said her study did not delve into the details of how different permafrost areas might be affected. Dr. Schuur said that as the planet warms, more southerly regions, where the permafrost occurs in discontinuous patches, would be expected to thaw first.
But there will still be changes even in areas of extensive permafrost in the far north, Dr. Schuur said. “There will be surface changes that affect everyone who lives there,” he said.
“I don’t think there’s any place in the permafrost zone that’s remote enough to escape changes.”
Washington, DC — The Peoples Climate March announced they will ‘literally’ surround the White House as part of its mass mobilization in Washington, DC on Saturday, April 29th.
Tens of thousands are expected to converge on Washington, DC from virtually every state in the country. In addition, more than 250 sister marches are also planned across the country and around the world.
“At 2 PM on April 29th, tens of thousands of people will encircle the White House in Washington D.C. to directly confront Donald Trump and challenge those who are pursuing a right-wing agenda that destroys our environment while favoring corporations and the 1 percent over workers and communities,” said Paul Getsos, National Coordinator for the Peoples Climate Movement. “This administration continues waging attacks on immigrants, Muslims, people of color and LGBTQI people everyday. This moment will be the highlight of a day that will begin with a march leading from the Capital to Washington Monument.”
The Peoples Climate March will begin near the Capitol, travel up Pennsylvania Avenue, and then surround the entire White House Grounds from 15th Street in the East to 17th Street in the West, and Pennsylvania Avenue in the North to Constitution Avenue in the South. The march will close with a post march rally, concert and gathering at the Washington Monument.
“After 100 days of this administration, it’s our time to show our resilience, to show that we’re still here, that we’re only getting stronger, that we’re multiplying and that we’re never giving up on justice, or on the people,” said Angela Adrar, executive director of the Climate Justice Alliance. “The Peoples Climate March is about building and deepening connections and linking the intersectionality we need in this moment. On April 30th, our movement will be stronger and more prepared to rise than on April 29th but we will need everyone to rise together.”
“Around this country, working people understand that we don’t have to choose between good jobs and a clean environment; we can and must have both,” said Kim Glas, executive director of the BlueGreen Alliance. “Together we can tackle climate change in a way that will ensure all Americans have the opportunity to prosper and live in neighborhoods where they can breathe their air and drink their water. We will build a clean economy that leaves no one behind.”
The Peoples Climate Movement is a groundbreaking coalition of indigenous, youth, Latino, environmental, racial justice, economic justice, faith-based and immigrant groups and labor unions demanding an economy and a government that works for working people and the planet.
In New York City – the SISTER MARCH is at:
People’s Climate March: NYCHA Takes Action!
April 29, 2017 • 10:00 AM
NYCHA Woodside, HANAC Astoria, NYCHA Ravenswood and Jacob Riis Settlement Center in Queensbridge
50-19 Broadway, Woodside, NY 11377
APRIL 19, 2017
BASED ON THE UNPARALLELED FAREED ZAKARIA’S COLLECTION OF NEWS.
Admit it, Turkey Isn’t Getting in the EU: Becker
Turkey’s referendum should be the final nail in the coffin of the accession process for EU membership, writes Markus Becker for Spiegel Online.
“One popular counter argument is that the EU will lose any of the influence it has in Ankara by breaking off negotiations,” Becker writes. “But where was that influence in 2013 when Erdogan beat down the protests in Gezi Park? Where was it when Erdogan deliberately escalated the conflict with the Kurds as part of a domestic power play? And where was that EU influence when, right after last summer’s military coup attempt, Erdogan had tens of thousands of people rounded up and thrown into jail, including numerous journalists?”
Trump’s troubling call. Fareed says President Trump’s decision to call Erdogan to congratulate him on his referendum victory is a troubling sign at a time when Turkey is facing a “serious descent into authoritarianism.”
“Since the 1930s, Turkey was the one Muslim Middle Eastern country that had established a kind of secular liberal democracy. Now that seems to be unraveling, and yet President Trump’s response was to congratulate the strongman,” Fareed says.
“Contrast that with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who with her foreign minister issued a joint statement basically suggesting to Erdogan that ‘You won very narrowly. You really need to pay attention to the opposition. You need to pay heed to minority rights.’
“So what we have now is a situation where Germany’s chancellor has become the leading proponent of human rights and democracy and liberal constitutionalism, while the President of the United States is just saying ‘way to go.’ This is true for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. It’s true for Erdogan. For Rodrigo Duterte and his drug war in the Philippines.
“It’s disturbing because the great victory of the United States in foreign policy, in a broad sense, over the last six or seven decades has been to spread stability, along with a certain set of values. But here you have those unraveling and the President of the United States is cheering him on.”
Trump’s “Militarization of U.S. Foreign Policy”
President Trump’s recent foreign policy reversals “don’t address one of his administration’s most misguided impulses: The militarization of U.S. foreign policy,” writes James Gibney for Bloomberg View.
“It’s well and good to send a carrier task force…But without U.S. ambassadors in South Korea and Japan, not to mention an assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, the U.S. can’t do the kind of daily consultations and hand-holding needed to reassure allies whose civilian populations would bear the brunt of any North Korean retaliation,” Gibney says.
“…The influence of senior advisers steeped in the region might also have prevented diplomatic gaffes, such as Trump’s parroting of Xi’s line that Korea was once part of China.”
Don’t Panic About North Korean Nukes: Boot
The United States shouldn’t panic about North Korea acquiring nuclear weapons any more than it did China and Russia doing so, suggests Max Boot in Commentary. After all, unlike some other regimes, Kim Jong Un “does not aim to dominate his neighbors. All he wants to do is to survive.”
“By all means, the U.S. should step up sanctions, including secondary sanctions on Chinese companies doing business with the criminal regime in Pyongyang. But there is no overwhelming imperative to go beyond that and risk war, even if North Korea finally fields an ICBM with a nuclear warhead capable of reaching Washington,” Boot says.
Emirates Airline Cuts Flights To U.S., Citing Trump’s Security Rules
April 19, 2017
Emirates Airline says it is reducing its number of U.S.-bound flights because security restrictions imposed by the Trump administration have weakened demand in Middle East countries.
The Dubai-based carrier will pare back flights to five of the 12 U.S. cities it serves. Flights to Boston, Seattle and Los Angeles will be reduced from twice to once daily, and in Florida, daily service to Orlando and Ft. Lauderdale will shrink to five flights a week.
Overall, it’s a reduction of 25 flights per week for the airline, according to The Associated Press.
After Travel Ban, Airlines Scramble To Reroute Crew Members.
After Travel Ban, Airlines Scramble To Reroute Crew Members
“The recent actions taken by the U.S. government relating to the issuance of entry visas, heightened security vetting, and restrictions on electronic devices in aircraft cabins, have had a direct impact on consumer interest and demand for air travel into the U.S,” Emirates said in a statement announcing the decision.
Last month, the Trump administration announced that passengers on direct flights to the U.S. from eight majority-Muslim countries — Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — must now place electronic devices such as laptops, tablets and cameras in checked baggage.
Those restrictions came on the heels of President Trump’s controversial executive orders in January and early March seeking to temporarily halt travel from several other mostly Muslim nations. Both orders were halted by the courts.
The Dubai International Airport in the UAE, which is Emirates’ hub, is a major transit point for nationals of countries listed in Trump’s travel bans, The Associated Press reports.
THESE ARE CLEARLY UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES FOR TRUMP WHO AS PRESIDENT HAS NOW THE CHANCE AT A NOBEL PRIZE FOR SETTLING THE MIDDLE EAST CANYON. THIS ROAD TO SCANDINAVIA ALSO GOES VIA THE EMIRATES – DUBAI AND ABU-DHABI AND IS BASED ON FULL COOPERATION OF THE SAUDIS.
While the goal of the Paris Agreement is clear, how different countries might contribute to its achievement in the medium term, and the associated economic implications, are much less so. Scenario planning can play a key role. Vivid Economics was commissioned by GLOBE-NZ – a cross-party group of 35 members of the New Zealand Parliament – to complete one of the first attempts to apply scenario analysis across the New Zealand economy, covering both land and energy, to help illuminate long-term low-emission pathways.A look at Paris
The scenarios involve a significant departure from the technologies and practices commonplace in New Zealand today. Yet within this context, they show that there are a range of different options available for meeting the terms of the Paris Agreement. The report has succeeded in furthering the debate among policymakers, and received cross-party support during a specially convened parliamentary session:
The analysis included a substantial programme of engagement with stakeholders from government, business and civil society in New Zealand. The engagement was structured to provide sources of evidence and to challenge the outcomes of the analysis as they emerged. The report’s authors are indebted to all of these stakeholders who gave their time and expertise so generously.
The economic rise of China was impressive. Within three decades, approximately 350 million people escaped from extreme poverty. Some commentators predicted China’s rise to an economic and world power and hoped that this will bring less hierarchical global economic relationships, amongst other things due to China’s importance as an emerging donor in international development cooperation. In 2013, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China decided to stimulate domestic demand and be less dependent on exports. On several occasions, the Central Committee announced its intention to promote a socially balanced economic development.
It appears that these expectations have not been met, at least for now. Economic growth has come down and domestic demand is still slow. Environmental problems and the inequality between regions and social groups have increased enormously. Poor working conditions for factory workers in the export processing zones and violations of basic rights dominate media reports on China.
What are the reasons for the stagnant growth and will China implement the announced structural reforms? What is the role of foreign investment, what are the effects of the country’s economic relations with the US? What is the social, economic and political impact of labor migration and the ongoing struggles for higher wages, safety measures and social benefits?
Ho-fung Hung and Chun-Yi Lee will analyze the current developments in China against the backdrop of closely interlinked capital and labor relations. They will also look at China’s political and economic actors and their interests.
is Associate Professor in Political Economy at the Sociology Department at Johns Hopkins University. His research interests lie in economic history and global political economic analyses, focusing on China’s economic development. His analyses are published regularly in academic journals and are featured in the media. Selected publications: The China Boom: Why China Will Not Rule the World (2015) and Protest with Chinese Characteristics: Demonstrations, Riots, and Petitions in the Mid-Qing Dynasty (2011), both published by Columbia University Press.
lectures at the School of Politics and International Relations (SPIR) at the University of Nottingham. Her research focuses on multinational investment strategies in China and Chinese investments abroad, labor rights and industrial relations. In her recent research project she investigated Chinese labor in the global economy and the influence of foreign direct investment on workers’ rights. Her book, Taiwanese Businessmen or Chinese Security Asset was published by Routledge in 2011.
is the head of the Politics and Development Research Department at the Institute of Sociology at Linz University as well as a consultant to the VIDC. She is the chairwoman of the Mattersburg Circle for Development Studies at Austrian Universities.
Scientists and Activists Look Beyond the March
By NICHOLAS ST. FLEUR
On Saturday scientists and their advocates are expected to fill streets in more than 500 cities. But what they do next is just as important.
The March for Science: Why Some Are Going, and Some Will Sit Out
By MICHAEL ROSTON
In remarks submitted The Times, some said the president’s posture toward science demanded a response, but others worried about the politicization of science.
Plumes From Saturn’s Moon Enceladus Hint That It Could Support Life
By KENNETH CHANG
Data from the Cassini spacecraft suggest that hydrothermal vents could provide ingredients for microbes or other forms of alien life to exist.
Do Your Shoelaces Keep Coming Undone? Engineers Explain Why
By CHRISTOPHER MELE
Blame physics and “weak” knots for unraveled laces, a phenomenon researchers called “sudden and catastrophic.”
Climate Change Reroutes a Yukon River in a Geological Instant
By JOHN SCHWARTZ
Melting water from one of Canada’s largest glaciers used to flow north, to the Bering Sea. Last spring, it reversed course, a case of what scientists call “river piracy.”
It’s Like It Never Left: Another El Niño May Be on the Way
By HENRY FOUNTAIN
Just a year after weather patterns were altered worldwide, scientists see signs that more disruption may be brewing.
Scott Pruitt Faces Anger From Right Over E.P.A. Finding He Won’t Fight
By CORAL DAVENPORT
Critics charge the agency’s administrator should have challenged a legal finding that underpinned the Obama climate policies, but he refuses to budge.
More Permafrost Than Thought May Be Lost as Planet Warms
By HENRY FOUNTAIN
A study suggests that as the planet warms toward 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, each degree Celsius of warming will lead to the thawing of 1.5 million square miles of permafrost.
YES – QUITE AN AMAZING LIST OF ARTICLES IN ONE ISSUE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES.
New York Times Promises Truth and Diversity, Then Hires Climate-Denying Anti-Arab White Guy
April 14, 2017
FOLLOWING DONALD TRUMP’S election, The New York Times promised its readers that it would aggressively pursue truth and challenge power in the days and months ahead. Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and executive editor Dean Baquet wrote an open letter to readers on November 13, vowing to “hold power to account, impartially and unflinchingly.”
And readers responded in droves. During the last three months of 2016, the Times added 276,000 digital subscribers — readers who were presumably drawn to the promise of aggressive and adversarial writing that was firmly based in reality.
“The truth is more important now than ever,” the Times proclaimed in an ad during the Oscars in February.
The Times has also strongly committed itself to diversity in its hiring. Times CEO Mark Thompson told hiring managers last year that supervisors who failed to recruit minority candidates would be encouraged to leave or fired.
“Only by having a staff as wide as it is deep, broad in perspective, backgrounds and experiences are we able to capture the multitude of voices of America and the world, with true fidelity,” the company proclaims in its mission statement.
But the Times’s editorial page — which is distinct from the newsroom — apparently has other priorities.
In the paper’s biggest marquee hire since the election, the Times has poached the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens as a regular columnist.
In a statement announcing the hire, Editorial Page Editor James Bennet explained the move in glowing terms.
“He’s a beautiful writer who ranges across politics, international affairs, culture and business, and, for The Times, he will bring a new perspective to bear on the news,” Bennet wrote. He summarized Stephens as a “generous and thoughtful colleague with a deep sense of moral purpose and adventure about our work.”
But Stephens’s voice is hardly new to the media landscape — it echoes the powerful and attacks the powerless, specifically marginalized groups like Arabs and Muslims who have little representation in U.S. media.
And although Stephens has been hailed as an anti-Trump conservative, he and Trump share a very significant belief that defies reality: They both deny the existence of climate change. Stephens used his Wall Street Journal columns to compare climate science to a religion, saying that environmental groups “have been on the receiving end of climate change-related funding, so all of them must believe in the reality (and catastrophic imminence) of global warming just as a priest must believe in the existence of God.”
In April of 2010, he proclaimed that “global warming is dead, nailed into its coffin one devastating disclosure, defection and re-evaluation at a time. Which means that pretty soon we’re going to need another apocalyptic scare to take its place.”
He then mockingly proposed “a readers’ contest to invent the next panic. It must involve something ubiquitous, invisible to the naked eye, and preferably mass-produced. And the solution must require taxes, regulation, and other changes to civilization as we know it.”
And as a white male member of the media elite, he hardly brings diversity to the stable of editorial page columnists. Indeed, several regulars already hold right-wing or center-right views. And although the editorial board consistently espouses liberal positions in the editorial column, the op-ed page by and large has to outsource to publish genuinely left perspectives on most major issues.
The Times editorial page currently does not have a female minority columnist and, despite frequently writing about conflicts in the Middle East, employs no regular Arab American or Muslim American writers.
On the contrary, at a time when Arab American and Muslim American civic society faces unprecedented demonization from a presidential administration, the Times has chosen to hire someone who takes part in it regularly.
For instance, Stephens used Egyptian judo player Islam El Shehaby’s politically-based refusal to shake hands with his Israeli opponent at the Rio Olympics last year as an excuse to launch into a long racist tirade against the state of the Arab world.
“If you want the short answer for why the Arab world is sliding into the abyss, look no further than this little incident,” Stephens wrote. “It did itself in chiefly through its long-abiding and all-consuming hatred of Israel, and of Jews.”
He claimed that “the Arab world’s problems are a problem of the Arab mind, and the name for that problem is anti-Semitism.”
This “Arab mind,” in Stephens’s telling, has few achievements. “Today there is no great university in the Arab world, no serious indigenous scientific base, a stunted literary culture,” he explained — all of which would continue until the Shehabys of the world would embrace their Israeli judo counterparts.
Responding to a wave of violence between Palestinians and Israelis in 2014, Stephens shrugged off the international consensus that occupation and statelessness is the root of the conflict, instead blaming it on “Palestinian blood fetish.” To him, they had “been seized by their present blood lust — a communal psychosis in which plunging knives into the necks of Jewish women, children, soldiers and civilians is seen as a religious and patriotic duty, a moral fulfillment. Despair at the state of the peace process, or the economy? Please. It’s time to stop furnishing Palestinians with the excuses they barely bother making for themselves.”
In January 2017, Stephens wrote that “maybe” Palestinians are entitled to a state, but then ticked off a long list of other peoples, including “Native Hawaiians,” who also lack a state, so “what gives Palestinians the preferential claim?” At least they aren’t being ruled by the Chinese, he argued: “Have they experienced greater violations to their culture than Tibetans? No: Beijing has conducted a systematic policy of repression for 67 years, whereas Palestinians are nothing if not vocal in mosques, universities and the media.”
Stephens also frequently appears in the media arguing for military attacks and regime change in the Middle East.
He has directly helped activists lobby to scuttle diplomacy. In 2015, as Congress was debating the nuclear deal with Iran, he held an off-the-record call with the Christian Zionist group Christians United For Israel, where he advised them on how to lobby members of Congress.
He is, however, an outspoken supporter of one prominent Muslim: Egypt’s autocratic leader Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, who he interviewed in 2015 in an article titled “Islam’s improbable reformer.”
Dear Friends and Colleagues, George thought you might be interested in this excellent Op-Ed published in Project Syndicate by Gregory Maniatis, in which he argues against the proposed nearly 30% budget cuts for the UN’s efforts that “support refugees, feed the poor, protect human rights, vaccinate children, and uphold peace”.
Trump’s Tomahawks Won’t Help
April 11, 2017
By: Gregory Maniatis
There is a tragic inconsistency in US President Donald Trump’s response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s use of sarin gas against his country’s people. Trump said that he was moved to act by images of innocent children in Idlib province who had been killed by the deadly nerve agent. Yet Trump’s administration stands behind a proposed budget that will cause even greater harm to people in Idlib and around the world.
For starters, Trump wants to slash overall funding to the United Nations – a move that would undermine the entire global humanitarian-aid system. Last year, the US contributed about $10 billion to UN efforts that support refugees, feed the poor, protect human rights, vaccinate children, and uphold peace. Trump not only wants to cut that spending by nearly 30%; he also plans to gut or even eliminate US government programs that help prevent starvation and provide essential services in Idlib and elsewhere.
Even seeming minor cuts can have an outsize impact. For example, the State Department is scrapping Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance, a small but crucial fund that has been deployed in Idlib to provide emergency food aid to Syrians driven from their homes by Assad’s army. In the past, the fund has quelled unforeseen crises in South Sudan, Mali, and Côte d’Ivoire, and other countries.
Furthermore, Trump wants steep cuts to the US Agency for International Development’s Food for Peace program, which has helped to feed three billion people in 150 countries since President Dwight D. Eisenhower created it in 1954, and to eliminate the US Department of Agriculture’s McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program. He also wants a one-third cut in funding to UNICEF, which provides clean water for children. And he seeks to reduce the United States’ $2 billion contribution to the World Food Program.
Such cuts could hardly come at a worse time. The UN has declared a famine for the first time since 2011, as 20 million people face starvation in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen. UNICEF estimates that almost 1.4 million children are already at imminent risk of death from severe acute malnutrition, and urges concerted action to save them.
Moreover, many fragile states are at risk of becoming failed ones, exacerbating the ongoing refugee crisis. As the new state of South Sudan has gradually collapsed into starvation and chaos, more than 600,000 people have fled into Uganda alone. Globally, 65 million people have been forced from their homes in recent years; 23 million of them are international refugees.
Yet Trump is also set to undermine already-strained refugee programs. The UN Refugee Agency receives $1.5 billion of its $4 billion budget from the US. Trump wants to slash its contribution by more than $500 million. As if that were not enough, Trump has signed executive orders that could reduce US refugee admissions by more than half, to just 50,000 this fiscal year.
It is against this background that Trump expressed his horror at the recent chemical attack in Syria. Of course, Trump is right to be horrified by the situation in Syria. Nearly a half-million people have died there since 2011. The number of Syrian refugees outside the country topped five million last week. This has destabilized neighboring countries, where nearly four million refugees now reside, as well as the European Union, which has received most of the rest.
But military action alone will do little to solve Syria’s problems. Even the generals on whom Trump relies say that his budget cuts are folly. “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition ultimately,” Defense Secretary General John Mattis said in February. That same month, more than 120 retired generals signed a letter to Trump arguing that funding the State Department and the USAID is “critical to preventing conflict and reducing the need to put our men and women in uniform in harm’s way.”
Congress should reject Trump’s budget proposal unanimously. But it probably won’t. In the House of Representatives, the Republican majority is hopelessly divided. Fiscal conservatives prefer a balanced budget to international aid, and the far-right Freedom Caucus wants to limit the scope of government every way it can.
In the Senate, a majority seems to understand the recklessness of the Trump administration’s approach. “America being a force is a lot more than building up the Defense Department,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said. “Diplomacy is important, extremely important, and I don’t think these reductions at the State Department are appropriate, because many times diplomacy is a lot more effective – and certainly cheaper – than military engagement.” But, despite such strong words, no concerted opposition to the proposed budget cuts has emerged in the Senate.
Preparing a budget is both challenging and important. But the arcane details of that process must not be allowed to obscure the reality that the world is facing a serious humanitarian crisis. The US has a long tradition of providing relief to populations worldwide. To break with that tradition – or, worse, to play an active role in creating a humanitarian crisis – would amount to a repudiation of the values America claims to uphold. Yet that is the path that the Trump administration seems set to take.
Why does Trump pass on inviting to his inner circle of advisers wise people-of-business like George Soros or Warren Buffett?
NOV 23, 2016 @ 02:38 PM 60,058
Why Clean Energy Can Withstand Changing Political Winds
Capital Creates Change – Clean-energy-election-hero.
When President Obama first took office in 2008, it was hard to imagine how solar and wind would ever stand on their own as viable alternative sources of energy. Today, solar and wind are so price-competitive that players in the renewables industry were among the few that could afford to be cavalier about who won the U.S. election.
“The increasingly favorable economics of renewables are more important than the presidential election’s impact on the industry, in our view,” says Stephen Byrd, a senior analyst with Morgan Stanley. “Wind and solar are price-competitive in many parts of the U.S. It’s the economics and not the politics that’s driving the use of renewables.”
Over the past seven years, the cost of wind power has dropped from $60-$100 per megawatt-hour (MWh) to around $15-$25/MWh in the middle third of the U.S., and for large solar installations, it’s gone from $100-$300 to $40-$70 per MWh. Wind power is currently the cheapest source of energy in the middle third of the country, with its all-in cost of $15-$25/MWh, comparing with the $55-$65/MWh for a new natural-gas-fired plant.
Driving their growing competitiveness are improvements in wind and solar technology, as well as some technical efficiency gains. Product Tax Credits, passed by Congress in 2015, will now provide the next bridge to ever-improving solar and wind economics going into 2020, although Morgan Stanley’s analysts argue in a recent report that neither depend on tax credits for survival.
“By the next decade, we project that wind and solar will be the cheapest resources in certain parts of the country, without any subsidies,” they state in the report. “Even without the Production Tax Credit, wind would be cheaper than gas-fired power by a wide margin. And by 2017, we project that large-scale solar projects in Texas will require revenue of about $45/MWh, lower than that required for a natural-gas-fired power plant.”
Changing Political Winds
President-elect Donald Trump has yet to lay out a comprehensive energy policy, although his comments during campaign speeches reveal his position on climate-change regulation. In May, he told audiences in North Dakota that he was opposed to the Obama Administration’s regulations “that shut down hundreds of coal-fired power plants.”
On the same day, he added: “We’re going to rescind all the job-destroying Obama executive actions, including the Climate Action Plan. We’re going to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to UN global-warming programs.”
Analysts say it isn’t clear whether a new president can cancel U.S. signatory to the Paris Climate Agreement. But the climate-change views of Trump’s coming appointment of the ninth Supreme Court Justice could be crucial, should pending legal challenges to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan ever reach the high court.
Yet, even the failure of the Clean Power Plan wouldn’t slow the growth of renewables, according to the Morgan Stanley report. “Given the favorable economics relative to coal-fired generation of wind power in the middle third of the U.S.; solar in the West and Southwest U.S. and gas-fired generation throughout most of the U.S., we view the impact of the EPA Clean Power Plan as being relatively modest,” says the report.
For more Morgan Stanley Research on clean energy and the impact of changing politics, ask your Morgan Stanley representative or Financial Advisor for the full report, “The US Election: Impacts to Clean Tech and Utilities Skew Positive” (Jul 27, 2016). Plus, more Ideas.
Dear Colleagues, NAEE2017 is your Best Opportunity to Meet the Top Decision Makers in the Nigerian Renewable Energy Industries!
Make a plan now to be part of Africa’s fastest-growing energy market: register to be part of the 7th #NAEE2017; the leading event of renewable energy event Nigeria covering in Solar, Wind, Gas, experts across Africa and beyond.
#NAEE2017 will be held from October 18 – 20, 2017 in Abuja Nigeria.
#NAEE2017 – Nigeria Alternative Energy eExpo 2017 – allows you to showcase your products and services and meet face to face with high-level buyers who come to NAEE to source for solutions to the challenges they face every day. The depth of the conference program and quality of the exhibition have a proven track record of attracting a high-quality and influential audience.
As an Exhibitor, you will:
– Gain visibility in front of influential decision makers.
– Meet with high-level executives.
– Form valuable partnerships with leading services providers.
Don’t miss the best opportunity in 2017 to interact with the most influential Energy professionals in Nigeria – Act Today!
The Advisory Board of the Nigeria Alternative Energy Expo (NAEE 2017) invites Energy experts to present a paper at the 7th NAEE in Abuja, from October 18 to 20, 2017. The 7th Edition of the Nigeria Alternative Energy Expo (NAEE 2017) aims to provide an international forum to facilitate discussion and knowledge exchange of findings of current and future challenges and opportunities in all aspects of renewable and sustainable energy.
This year event theme is “Harnessing tomorrow’s Energy Today: A Unified Approach “». The development of renewable energy will be driven by the mutual exchange between future market requirements and technical innovation. In that respect, the NAEE 2017 offers an excellent opportunity for the whole value chain, from equipment and material suppliers up to application driven players and from academic research institutions up to downside industry, to share and discuss leading-edge renewable energy technologies.
Since its beginning in 2011, international attendees representing over 40 countries from all continents have participated in NAEE, internationally renowned keynote speakers have presented latest achievements in the transition to renewable energy.
The scope of NAEE2017 covers a broad range of hot topics like renewable energy technologies, energy efficiency, green energy, climate change, sustainable energy systems and smart grid.
This 7th edition will be organized into 5 PLENARY SESSIONS covering all topics of interest of the whole value chain. We invite you to express interest by visiting: www.nigeriaalternativeenergyexpo…. or send us email: loc at nigeriaalternativeenergyexpo.org
Deadline to submit your abstract was Friday, February 24 2017.
Insights, analysis and must reads from CNN’s Fareed Zakaria and the Global Public Square team, compiled by Global Briefing editor Jason Miks. — April 12, 2017
Why U.S., Russia Can’t Get Along: Aron
“Even in a presidency marked by unpredictability, the head-spinning shift from coziness to confrontation has left Washington and other capitals with a case of geopolitical whiplash,” writes Peter Baker in the New York Times. “The prospects of improving Russian-American relations were already slim given the atmosphere of suspicion stemming from Kremlin meddling in last year’s election, but the détente once envisioned by Mr. Trump has instead deteriorated into the latest cold war.”
Tensions nothing new. Leon Aron, director of Russian studies at the American Enterprise Institute, emails Global Briefing that the deterioration of U.S.-Russian relations is neither particularly recent nor surprising.
“The process precedes the Trump election, with the expulsion of Russian diplomats by President Obama in the waning days of his administration. The worsening was somewhat mitigated by Donald Trump’s sympathetic campaign rhetoric, but his rather ill-informed pronouncements were no more effective in bridging the widening substantive chasm in U.S.-Russian relations than Secretary Kerry’s insistent, and eventually pathetic, efforts at U.S.-Russian ‘cooperation.’
“The reason for the gap is as simple as it is difficult to correct: a divergence in the foreign policy goals of two countries. President Vladimir Putin has sharply turned to a militarized patriotism inside the country, and an aggressive foreign policy outside, as the mainstay of his regime’s popular support and legitimacy. In the absence of economic growth and widespread revulsion over government corruption, ‘defending the Motherland’ and ‘standing up to the United States,’ whether in Ukraine or Syria, has proven a winning propaganda narrative and a means of national consolidation in the run up to Putin’s re-election in 2018.”
Does Ahmadinejad Have a Chance?
Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has registered to run in Iran’s presidential elections in May, despite having been advised not to do so by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Don’t count him out. Payam Mohseni, director of the Iran Project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center, emails Global Briefing that Ahmadinejad’s entry is a genuine surprise, and that just registering could be seen as an act of defiance.
“Ahmadinejad’s popularity with the masses should not be discounted, and he would be a genuine rival to President Rouhani if the Guardian Council allows his candidacy,” Mohseni says, adding that the move is significant for two other reasons.
“First, it reflects the fragmentation of the conservative umbrella and the continued wildcard status of Ahmadinejad’s faction in that camp.
“But his candidacy also reflects the fact that the debate over the succession to the Supreme Leadership is complicating things. Ebrahim Raisi, a conservative candidate who announced he is running in the presidential election, is also rumored to be in line for the position of Supreme Leader. So if Ahmadinejad runs, it would be a blow to Raisi’s chances in the elections and also his candidacy for the Supreme Leadership.”
Don’t Despair Over Democracy
The widespread pessimism over the perceived erosion of democracy around the world is premature, argue Thomas Carothers and Richard Youngs in Foreign Affairs. Democracy might be on the back foot, but especially outside the West, the gloom is overstated.
“Those who despair the future of democracy tend to focus on a select set of highly visible negative developments — especially the searing failure of the Arab Spring and the rise of illiberal populism in Europe and the United States,” they argue.
“Yet in other important regions the picture is different. The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index scores for Asia and Africa show a modest improvement over the last decade. Indeed, the quality of democracy has improved in places such as Burkina Faso, Gambia, Ghana, Guatemala, the Ivory Coast, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, and Ukraine in spite of the serious problems they have faced. In Latin America, the illiberal populist wave in the early 2000s is receding. Colombia and Nepal have both brokered peace accords with rebel movements, ending decades of civil war…”
In Former East Germany, the Kids Are All…Gone
If East Germany were still a country, it would be the oldest in the world. That should be a warning for Germany as a whole — which should in turn be a warning to other rich Western nations, The Economist argues.
“Despite an influx of 1.2 million refugees over the past two years, Germany’s population faces near-irreversible decline,” The Economist says. “According to predictions from the U.N. in 2015, two in five Germans will be over 60 by 2050 and Europe’s oldest country will have shrunk to 75 million from 82 million. Since the 1970s, more Germans have been dying than are born. Fewer births and longer lives are a problem for most rich countries. But the consequences are more acute for Germany, where birth rates are lower than in Britain and France.”
The growing embrace of artificial intelligence and “deep learning” raises an important – and potentially troubling – issue, writes Will Knight in MIT Technology Review. What if we can no longer understand the decisions machines make?
“There’s already an argument that being able to interrogate an AI system about how it reached its conclusions is a fundamental legal right. Starting in the summer of 2018, the European Union may require that companies be able to give users an explanation for decisions that automated systems reach,” Knight says.
“This might be impossible, even for systems that seem relatively simple on the surface, such as the apps and websites that use deep learning to serve ads or recommend songs. The computers that run those services have programmed themselves, and they have done it in ways we cannot understand. Even the engineers who build these apps cannot fully explain their behavior.”