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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 25th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Columnist of The New York Times

Committed to Carbon Goals

November 24, 2014


by Joe Nocera

Since the early 1990s, the consensus view in the climate science community has been that if the world is going to escape the most catastrophic consequences of climate change, it needs to keep the average global temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius, compared with pre-industrial levels. A few years ago, the Presidential Climate Action Project issued a report in which it estimated that to meet that goal, global carbon dioxide emissions would need to be reduced by 60 percent by 2050 — and the industrialized world would need to reduce its emissions by 80 percent.

This would seem, at first glance, an impossible task. Until, that is, you meet a man named David Crane. He is the chief executive of NRG Energy, the largest publicly traded independent power producer in the country. When he took over a decade ago, NRG was just emerging from bankruptcy. Today, it is a Fortune 250 company, with 135 power plants capable of generating 53,000 megawatts of power.

NRG, Crane told an audience at the Aspen Ideas Festival this summer, is the country’s fourth-largest polluter. “We emit 60 or 70 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year,” he said, mainly because a third of its power is generated by coal-fired plants. “I’m not apologetic about that because, right now, owning those plants and operating those plants are critical to keeping the lights on in the United States.”

But then he quickly added, “We have to move away from that.” And he has, reducing the company’s carbon footprint by 40 percent in the decade that he’s run the company. And, on Thursday, as The Times reported, he committed NRG to reducing its carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and 90 percent by 2050.

These are terribly ambitious goals, but Crane is not some pie-in-the-sky dreamer. Although he sees climate change as an “intergenerational issue” — a way of ensuring the future for our children and grandchildren — he is also a pragmatic man running a publicly traded company. He firmly believes that the technology exists to make his ambitious goals possible, and that the real problem is the refusal of the rest of the power industry to adapt and change.

Crane likes to say that when he first started hearing about carbon emissions, he didn’t view it all that seriously. “To be frank,” he said in that same Aspen presentation, “I thought this is just the next pollutant that we have to deal with.” But once he got religion — and realized, as he put it, that power producers like NRG are “the biggest part of the problem” — he was determined to make his company a leader in reducing carbon.

One of his early moves was to apply for a license to build a new nuclear power plant. (It already co-owns one nuclear plant.) But the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan in 2011 scotched those plans, and NRG wound up writing off more than $300 million. NRG also invested in a wind company, which it sold three years later “because we got a little disenchanted with the way that the wind technology was moving.”

So how is he planning to get that 90 percent reduction? One answer is solar power, in which NRG has invested some $5 billion. Crane is a big believer in the eventual importance of solar, both for consumers — he foresees a day when millions of Americans rely on solar as their primary power source — and for power companies. Even so, Crane told me that solar generates only 3,000 megawatts of the company’s potential for 53,000.

———

Recent Comments:

Andrea
32 minutes ago

Why is there no mention of a transfer from coal powered generation to natural gas? There is an abundance of it, it is cheap and it burns…

Ken
32 minutes ago

Home heating remains as a huge source of carbon pollution. While not a solution for most urbanites, many like me in rural New England have…

Tom Pedersen
32 minutes ago

Mr. Crane suggests that a carbon tax is politically impossible. But that’s looking at the challenge from the wrong end. How about looking at…

—————————–

And then there’s coal. When I asked Crane if he would have to eliminate coal to reach his goals, he said no. Coal, he said, will continue to play a big role. A carbon tax would be a great way of reducing emissions. But that is politically impossible.

So, instead, the carbon will need to be captured and then put to some good use. At one of its Texas power plants, NRG is teaming up with JX Nippon of Japan in a $1 billion joint venture to build a carbon-capturing capacity, which it expects will capture 1.6 million tons of carbon each year — some 90 percent of the plant’s emissions. He is also convinced that that carbon will eventually be used to create liquid fuel or get embedded in cement. “We could rebuild America’s roadways with embedded carbon from coal.”

He has another reason for wanting to be out in front on climate change. He says it will make his company more attractive to investors — and consumers. The day is going to come, he believes, when climate change risk will be something investors factor in to their investment decisions. And he believes that the next generation of consumers will demand clean energy. He views the disinvestment campaign now taking place on college campuses as a harbinger of things to come.

“It’s like Wayne Gretzky said,” he told me before hanging up the phone. “We are skating where the puck is going, rather than where it is now.”

—————————

A version of this op-ed appears in print on November 25, 2014, on page A27 of the New York edition with the headline: Committed to Carbon Goals

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 25th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

FROM THE WORLD FUTURE COUNCIL
November 25, 2014

Dr. Auma Obama joins World Future Council.

Auma Obama was warmly welcomed by WFC board members Alexandra Wandel and Stefan Keinert and WFC Director of Climate and Energy Stefan Schurig.

Hamburg, 25 November 2014 – Dr. Auma Obama has been appointed Councillor of the World Future Council. The organisation works with decision-makers worldwide to implement policy solutions that secure the rights of future generations. At an official meeting with WFC board members Alexandra Wandel and Stefan Keinert, the older sister of US president Barack Obama signed the acceptance statement, declaring “I am honoured to become a part of your organisation. I cannot wait to meet my fellow Council members and to support the work on the rights of women and children, particularly in Africa.”

Auma joins the ranks of Councillors from a vast variety of countries and backgrounds, including Dr. Frances Moore Lappé, Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE and Dr. David Krieger.

Jakob von Uexkull, founder of the World Future Council and the Alternative Nobel Prize, is thrilled to welcome the Kenyan literary and social scientist to the organisation. “Although the World Future Council was only established eight years ago and has always operated on a relatively small budget, we have been able to achieve a lot. With our support, several countries have introduced policies and laws that protect the environment and secure more equitable societies. Our unique approach and achievements so far convinced Dr. Auma Obama to join our efforts to make the world a better place, despite her many other commitments.”

Born and raised in Kenya, Auma Obama completed her doctorate at the University of Bayreuth, Germany. She is the initiator and CEO of the Sauti Kuu Foundation, which works to self-empower children and adolescents from underprivileged backgrounds in Kenya. A world sought-after speaker on sustainability issues, Auma Obama is also a board member of the Jacobs Foundation, which funds research and development programmes in the field of child and youth development.

—————————————-
World Future Council: The World Future Council brings the interests of future generations to the centre of policy-making. Its 50 eminent members from around the globe have already successfully promoted change. The Council addresses challenges to our common future and provides decision makers with effective policy solutions. The World Future Council is registered as a charitable foundation in Hamburg, Germany. For more information, visit www.worldfuturecouncil.org

Media contact:
World Future Council
Alexandra Schiffmann
Tel.: +49 40 30 70 914-19
 alexandra.schiffmann at worldfuturecounc…
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Posted in Africa, Archives, Real World's News, Reporting From the UN Headquarters in New York, Reporting from Washington DC

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The following was reported by Ms. Irith Jawetz who took part at the Presentation the UN made accessible also to outsiders.

“United Nations’ roles on Human Rights, Peace and Security”

Dr. Ivan Simonovic is UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights. On Tuesday, November 18th, 2014, he made at the UN an informative presentation on the subject: “United Nations’ Role on Human Rights, Peace and Security”


Mr. Ivan Simonovic assumed his functions as Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights on 17 July 2010 – head of the New York Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) upon a UNSG Ban Ki-moon appointment of May 3, 2014.

A Croatian Diplomat, he was born May 2, 1959 in Zagreb. He is politician and law scholar. In October 2008 he was appointed Justice Minister of Croatia.

Dr. Šimonovic graduated from the University of Zagreb Law School in 1982. He got his doctoral degree in 1990, at the age of 31. Šimonovic joined Croatian diplomacy after the break-up of Yugoslavia. He was an assistant to Foreign Minister Mate Granic during the 1990s, although he never joined the ruling party, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

In 1997, Croatian President Franjo Tujman named him ambassador to the United Nations. Šimonovic served there until 2002. While serving there, Šimonovic presided over the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

In 2002 he became Deputy Foreign Minister in Ivica Rajan government. Again, he didn’t join the ruling party,SDP. However, when HDZ swung back to power in 2003, Šimonovic was not offered a job in the new government.

In 2004, Šimonovic switched to academia and became professor at the University of Zagreb Law School, where he teaches general theory of law and state and international relations.

Dr. Šimonovic was appointed Minister of Justice-designate of Croatia by PM Ivo Sanader on October 6, 2008. His predecessor, Ana Lovrin, had resigned the same day following a series of unsolved assaults and murders linked to Croatian organized crime that culminated with the murder of Ivana Hodak, daughter of a prominent Croatian lawyer Zvonimir Hodak. However, Ivana Hodak was later found to have been murdered as part of a retaliation of a homeless man to Zvonimir Hodak.

In May 2010 then Šimonovic was appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights.
————————–

Turning to the November 2014 lecture at the UN – Dr. Simonovic has just returned from Iraq and is on his way to Ukraine.

He started his lecture by quoting Secretary General Kofi Annan who said: “There is no peace without development, no development without peace and neither without Human Rights”.


Development is one of the key factors for human rights, people in less developed countries are more likely to rebel and if there are conflicts at home, they affect human rights. Syria and Ukraine are the latest examples how a disastrous economy can lead to human rights violations. This situation also spills to the neighboring countries affected such as Jordan and Lebanon, who have to absorb the many refugees and support them. On the other hand, lack of human rights also affects development. Discrimination of minorities, religious groups, gender leads to no access to social services, lack of jobs, and brings upon it corruption. Some people get privileges that other do not, this brings dissatisfaction, instability and fewer developed countries are eager to invest in such a society.


Even worse than economic problems are the violation of human rights during a conflict with elements such as starvation, executions, killings and rape to name a few.
The solution is accountability not retaliation and Criminals need to be brought to Justice.
How can this be achieved?


The United Nations has 800 people posted at the UN in various capacities, including peacekeeping forces, and 500 people posted in National Headquarters as representatives and advisers. They have to report to the Secretary General and General Assembly.
The UN has also established an “Intervention Brigade” which can act fast in some situations, as it happened in South Sudan when they managed to push back the rebels. The UN has come a long way since the times when so many innocent people were killed during the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Dr. Simonovic told a personal story how he saw people being killed outside the UN compound who were not allowed to enter that compound and seek shelter. In South Sudan, years later, this policy was changed. It was an “Open Gate Policy”, people could find shelter inside the UN compound and were saved. Of course this brought with it many logistic problems such as providing food, water, sanitary equipment, etc. but it was done nevertheless.

The secretary General has approached the subject of Human Rights, Peace and Security by making sure that all security forces have to be checked through very strict background checks. Not having a criminal record is not enough anymore.

Each person that is applying for a job is not allowed to have committed even the slightest violation of Human rights on his or her records. The same applies to personnel outside the UN in the countries themselves. It would be very embarassing for a country to recommend a person and then be found out by the UN independent background check that he or she had a human rights violation on their records.

The motto of the UN is Human Rights Up Front!
Human Rights violations can be used as a first warning to Genocide and war atrocities. The task of the advisers is to detect human rights violations and bring them to the attention of the Secretary General and General Assembly immediately.

Dr. Simonovic admitted that in Sri Lanka the UN has failed – something that at the UN was known a long time ago thanks to the insistent questioning from one single investigative journalist active at the UN – Mr. Matthew Lee. The UN did not act fast enough said now Dr. Simonovic, but Mr. Lee was not satisfied with this answer – he would like to see a full investigation of this case.

Dr. Simonovic said that the UN has women on their peacekeeping forces and they are basically better mediators than men. Women are more sensitive than men, more focused healing than on revenge, he said.

In conclusion Dr. Simonovic admitted that the system is not perfect, it is much better than it was, but there is a lot still to be done. Human Rights violations should not be tolerated and the United Nations is making the utmost efforts to combat this task.

While above was being discussed at the UN, on Thursday, US President Barack Obama, in an historic move has broken the US taboo of dealing with the illegal immigration issue, by acknowledging that trying peacefully to better one’s life is a basic human right – so that the UN official might find it easier now to do the right things at the UN as well.

According to NPR news, after six years of often bitter back-and-forth with congressional Republicans over the issue of immigration, President Obama announced he has decided to go it alone by temporarily shielding up to 5 million immigrants from being deported.

In a prime-time speech to the country on Thursday, President Obama said that he would defer the deportation of the parents of children who are either U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, and that he also would expand that protection to more “DREAMers,” or children who entered the country illegally with their parents. Those two groups also will be allowed to work in the United States legally, after passing a background check and paying a fee.

In a very compassionate speech, President Obama said:

“scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger — we were strangers once, too.

“My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too. And whether our forebears were strangers who crossed the Atlantic, or the Pacific, or the Rio Grande, we are here only because this country welcomed them in, and taught them that to be an American is about something more than what we look like, or what our last names are, or how we worship. What makes us Americans is our shared commitment to an ideal – that all of us are created equal, and all of us have the chance to make of our lives what we will.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

No misunderstanding please – we lost our interest in the Kyoto protocol. It was born without a serious plan – with the knowledge that the US Senate will never accept it and it gave respite to China so nobody else saw any sense in it.

Now things have changed – Presidents Obama and Xi made a reasonable first step pact and everyone can fall in line by making their own country commitments and even pouring $10 Billion into a global cash fund to be established before the year’s end.

In this spirit we see the following:

===========================

G20 Issue Strong Statement in Support of UN Climate Negotiations

Bonn, 16 November 2014?Japan today announced a pledge of $1.5 billion to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) ahead of next week’s pledging conference in Berlin.

The pledge, announced on the margins of the G20 Summit taking place in Brisbane, Australia, comes in the wake of a $3 billion pledge by the United States.

Total pledges to date for the GCF, the financial instrument designed to assist developing countries achieve their mitigation and adaptation ambitions, stand at around $7.5 billion putting the aim of $10 billion by the next UN climate convention conference in sight.

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said: “I welcome the government of Japan’s pledge which has, along with other announcements over the past few days triggered a positive atmosphere around the upcoming pledging meeting in Berlin and in advance of the UN climate convention conference in Lima in a few weeks’ time”.

Ms Figueres also welcomed today’s statement by the G20 Heads of State which included a strong and supportive section on climate action.

The statement said: “We support strong and effective action to address climate change. Consistent with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its agreed outcomes, our actions will support sustainable development, economic growth, and certainty for business and investment. We will work together to adopt successfully a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the UNFCCC that is applicable to all parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris in 2015”.

“We encourage parties that are ready to communicate their intended nationally determined contributions well in advance of COP21 (by the first quarter of 2015 for those parties ready to do so). We reaffirm our support for mobilizing finance for adaptation and mitigation, such as the Green Climate Fund”, it added.

For more information, please contact:

Nick Nuttall, UNFCCC Spokesperson: +49 228 815 1400 (phone), +49 152 0168 4831 (mobile) nnuttall(at)unfccc.int
John Hay, Communications Officer: +49 228 815 1404 (phone), +49 172 258 6944 (mobile) jhay(at)unfccc.int

Yes, UNFCCC feels compelled to mention still the Kyoto Protocol it helped create, but just diregard this part please – we left it out from their release.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 15th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Economy / AlterNet / By Janet Allon

Paul Krugman on Why the U.S.-China Agreement on Carbon Emissions Is a Really Big Deal
“It’s been a good week for the planet.”

November 14, 2014 |

The climate deal reached by the U.S. and China at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting this week is a very big deal, Paul Krugman writes in his Friday column.

The opposition to doing anything to save the planet has been long, idiotic and stubborn, and of course will continue in Republican circles, especially as Senator James Inhofe, who believes climate change is a hoax, takes over the leadership of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Climate change denialists have even pursued witch hunts against climate scientists.

There have also been the economic scare tactics, which argue that limiting emissions will destroy jobs and end growth. “This argument sits oddly with the right’s usual faith in markets,” Krugman writes. “We’re supposed to believe that business can transcend any problem, adapt and innovate around any limits, but would shrivel up and die if policy put a price on carbon. Still, what’s bad for the Koch brothers must be bad for America, right?”

There are those, like new Senate leader Mitch McConnell, who wring their hands over the “war on coal,” which is not making a lot of impact, Krugman points out, since coal mining employs few people, and they’ve already been defeated.

What makes the agreement truly meaningful, Krugman argues, is that even Americans who are worried about global warming (most people) have felt helpless to fight it with other developing countries like China continuing to pollute. And, until now, no one thought China would get on board to help protect the climate. In some ways, this has been understandable, Krugman writes.

America is not exactly the most reliable negotiating partner on these issues, with climate denialists controlling Congress and the only prospect of action in the near future, and maybe for many years, coming from executive orders. (Not to mention the possibility that the next president could well be an anti-environmentalist who could reverse anything President Obama does.) Meanwhile, China’s leadership has to deal with its own nationalists, who hate any suggestion that the newly risen superpower might be letting the West dictate its policies. So what we’re getting here is more a statement of principle than the shape of policy to come.

Still, though, there is a lot to cheer here, Krugman concludes.

Until now, those of us who argued that China could be induced to join an international climate agreement were speculating. Now we have the Chinese saying that they are, indeed, willing to deal — and the opponents of action have to claim that they don’t mean what they say.

Needless to say, I don’t expect the usual suspects to concede that a major part of the anti-environmentalist argument has just collapsed. But it has. This was a good week for the planet.

—————-
SENATOR IMHOFE IS FROM OILKLAHOMA AND HAS AN OIL-CRAZED WORKERS AND COMPANY CEO’S _ THAT IS WHY HE OWNS THE ENERGY COMMITTEE. SO BE IT! I Met him at Kyoto and like him did not think the Protocol was a good idea. But since then I could not accept any other idea he stood for. // SustainabiliTank
—————-

Charlie Wood for the whole 350.org team writes:

This week, just weeks after the largest climate mobilisation ever, the world’s two biggest polluters — the United States and China — announced their most ambitious climate action yet. That is not a coincidence: it’s a sign that our pressure is working, and that we need to apply much more.

The emissions of China and the US have been used by governments around the world as an excuse to dodge their own responsibilities. But this new agreement leaves these governments with nowhere left to hide and opens the door for real progress from global governments. Right now, world leaders are converging on Australia for the G20 leaders summit and we have momentum on our side.

But Tony Abbott, Australia’s conservative Prime Minister and host of the G20, is refusing to allow a meaningful discussion of climate change at the G20. Climate change is the elephant in the room and Tony Abbott is asking the G20 to ignore it.

Send a message to Tony Abbott and tell him that he needs to get out of the way of climate action at the G20 and put climate change back on the agenda.

The world is ready to act. Most countries want to talk about climate change but Australia’s climate denying government is using their position as President to block discussion. We are not going to let one politician block discussion on climate change get off easy.

Put the pressure on Tony Abbott to stop blocking discussion at the G20 and get out of the way of real climate action.

There is plenty that the G20 could talk about when it comes to climate action. G20 countries are wasting US $88 billion a year just to help fossil fuel companies find new fossil fuel reserves, despite numerous warnings from scientists that we need to leave the fossil fuels we already know about in the ground.

With the new agreement between the US and China, now is the time for the G20 to commit to ending fossil fuel subsidies and taking steps towards real action on climate change. But unless Tony Abbott lets them talk about it, no commitments will be made.

Keep the pressure on Tony Abbott. Tell him to get out of the way of real progress.

——————–

And from the Canadian International Institute based in Winnipeg:

US-China Climate Commitment first step in road to phasing out coal and welcoming increased renewables says IISD

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WINNIPEG—14 November 2014—The U.S. and China’s joint climate commitment is a strong boost for the international process and should pave the way for a phasing out of the use of coal and increased use of renewable energies, according to the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD),

This important step comes directly after Ban Ki Moon’s successful New York Summit, and very early on the “Road to Paris 2015” and the international agreement expected there. But what does the announcement tell us about how the two countries will meet these commitments, and what steps might they and other countries take next?

“The Road to Paris will see countries pledging what they can deliver within their domestic political constraints,” said Peter Wooders, group leader of the Energy program at IISD. “This realism is a pragmatic first step and a change from the ‘top down’ commitment process which has largely stalled the UNFCCC, and which the U.S. could never ratify in any event, given division in Congress.”

IISD analysis notes that the U.S. and China have been able to make this commitment thanks to the common factor of coal, a major source of electricity generation in both countries. The “Shale Gas Revolution” in the U.S., its existing mix of power plants which allow ready switching between coal and natural gas, as well as the opportunity to import hydro power from Canadian provinces, give the U.S. the opportunity to significantly reduce projected emissions. In China, further increases in coal mining and supply are not the low-cost option they were once thought to be, and financial and environmental drivers – with the air quality of Beijing the most well-known issue – will reduce the reliance on coal.

“The use of coal has traditionally been under-priced, i.e. subsidized. Financially, the exploration, mining, transport and construction of coal plants has been supported around the world. Environmentally, we have not fully accounted for the air pollution and other costs,” said Wooders. “When these costs are taken into account – which they should be – renewable technologies and energy efficiency become much more attractive. But this is a major change to the business models around electricity generation, and will bring resistance from the potential losers and lobbying from the potential winners. The Chinese government in particular – as China does not currently have the scale of shale gas available to the U.S. – will need to support the energy transition through good policy.”

IISD’s work in China, and more broadly, focuses on some of the key tools needed:

the identification of subsidies to coal and renewable energy suppliers, allowing for a debate on their costs; the strong link between the government’s renewable commitments and the development of their renewable technology industries (“green industrial policy”); how the fiscal system can be made to work for sustainable development (“greening the financial system”); sustainable public procurement as an enabler of change; and the creation of low-carbon economic zones; the more general policy implementation support which comes from understanding who is impacted and how much, and how these impacts may be mitigated or the vested interests confronted.

The door is now open for renewables, and can be pushed wider.

And what of Canada? Its government has aligned its climate change policies – including overall targets – to that of the U.S. in the past. Both countries recently introduced regulations on coal-fired power generation, essentially banning new coal plant construction and – in the case of the U.S. – imposing constraints on existing plants. For Canada to follow the U.S. in terms of an overall target, however, it will have to find savings elsewhere. It – and other countries with relatively low coal generation – will need to move to reductions in oil and gas consumption and production now; they do not have the luxury of the one-off gain from the phase-out of coal.

For more information please contact Sumeep Bath, IISD media and communications officer, at  sbath at iisd.org or +1 (204) 958 7740.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 12th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Reprted from New York by Irith Jawetz, November 12, 2014


The United Nations Department of Public Information has opened UN doors to people interested in a panel discussion: “United Nations War Crimes Commission Records: Past, Present and Future” which took place on Tuesday, 11 November 2014,
at United Nations Headquarters, New York City.

The moderator was Ms. Edith M. LEDERER, United Nations Correspondent for the Associated Press. According to her Bio Edith M. Lederer has worked for AP on every continent except Antarctica covering wars, famines, nuclear issues and political upheavals. She was assigned full-time to the AP staff reporting the Vietnam War, and also covered the 1973 Middle East war, the war in Afghanistan, the first Gulf War, the conflict in Northern Ireland, the end of the war in Bosnia, the civil war in Somalia, and the aftermath of the genocide in Rwanda. She was also AP’s first female bureau chief overseas, based in Lima, Peru. In addition to wars, she helped cover the downfall of communism and the break-up of the Soviet Union, and the Romanian revolution.

While based in London from 1982-98, Lederer also wrote about military and international security issues and global problems ranging from population growth to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Since 1998, she has been AP’s chief correspondent at the United Nations, reporting on the diplomatic side of conflicts in Libya, Syria,Iraq, Darfur, Kosovo, Congo and Sierra Leone and major global issues from the nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea to climate change, combating poverty and women’s rights.

She is the recipient of numerous awards including the International Women’s Media Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award and is a co-author of “War Torn,” a book by nine women who covered the Vietnam War.

Opening remarks were given by:

Ms. Hua JIANG, Officer-in-Charge, Department of Public Information
H.E. Mr. Asoke Kumar MUKERJI, Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations

Both discussed the background and the importance of the event by saying that the United Nations War Crimes Commission (UNWCC) was operational between 1943 and 1948 and played a vital role in preparing the ground for the war crimes trials that followed the Second World War. The evidence was submitted by 17 member nations for evaluation so that war criminals could be arrested and prosecuted. The archive also contains records of trials carried out in various Member States and presented to the Commission, including national military tribunals and the Military Tribunal of the Far East (Tokyo Trials).

I would like to note that 1943 – the start of UNWCC preempts by two years the UN Charter and that the 17 member States of the original commission obviously all belonged to the circle of winners in WWII. Today, with the more general make upof the UN, when rogue Nations continue to be part of the UN, efficiency as described above has lost its edge.

The panelists included:

Mr. Adama DIENG, Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide
Ms. Bridget SISK, Chief, United Nations Archives and Records Management Section
Mr. Patrick J. TREANOR, Former member of the Office of Special Investigations, the United States Department of Justice
Mr. Dan PLESCH, Director, The Center for Diplomatic Studies and Diplomacy, SOAS, University of London
Mr. Henry MAYER, Senior Adviser on Archives, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The panel brought up the content of these archival documents, their impact on the development of international law and the International Criminal Court, as well as their potential use by and value to students and academics. A full copy of the records of the Commission was provided to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in July of this year; they were not freely open to the public earlier. The event at the UN, was organized by The Holocaust Museum and the United Nations Outreach Program.

Mr. Dieng kept stressing the importance of the Commission as a lesson to future generations dealing with war crimes. He said time and again “Enough is Enough”, criminals must be brought to Justice. We have to learn from the past in order to better our future. Failure to hold war criminals accountable for their acts will ultimately bring down Society.

Mr. Treanor was investigating mainly Nazi war criminals while working for the US Department of Justice, and was involved in the case of former Secretary General of the UN Kurt Waldheim. He worked on dozens of cases but admitted that many war crimes were committed by local people and because of lack of information on those people it was not possible to bring them to Justice. Even in the Nazi German records names of officers who committed crimes were not fully revealed, sometimes only first name, no date of birth provided, which made the task very difficult, almost impossible.

Mr. Mayer, who is Senior Advisor of Archives at the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC was grateful that the information is now available to the public at the Museum. He said that descendents of Holocaust victims will be able to access those documents. He said that not only Jews were persecuted during the Holocaust, there were many other groups such as gays, handicapped, political, and even Esperanto scholars. The last was acknowledged by a representative of an Esperanto organization in the audience who thanked Mr. Mayer for finally acknowledging this fact.

To summarize, the debate was mostly about the past, about events which happened more than 70 years ago. It is unclear and the question was asked, why those archives, which were established as early as 1943, while the UN itself officially dates to 1945, were closed to the public until this year. Mr. Meyer answered it is probably due to “beurocratic enertia”.

The meeting was about the Holocaust but during the Q & A session the attention moved to today’s ongoing war crimes. Most remarks were about war crimes committed nowadays in Darfur, Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and many other countries. Since many countries do not allow outside observers, it is very difficult to collect the necessary information but Mr. Treanor and Mr. Dieng both admitted that it is possible. It is not easy, but there are ways to get information and Mr. Dieng stressed again that criminals must be brought to justice.

Mr. Mathew Lee from Inner City Press asked about crimes committed in Sri Lanka. He has been working on that subject for a long time now. He mentioned that the UN did not rate yet a true WCC for Sri Lanka and that there was a political cover up for those crimes and no real UN investigation. He could not get a substantial answer to his question from the panel.

This leads to a call for the need to have WCCs outside the UN as obviously the original Holocaust collecting information was done by 17 countries of allies fighting NAZI Germany while today’s UN is an amalgam that includes too many countries who are not interested in pursuing that subject.

For more information on the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Program that pursues this topic, please visit www.un.org or email  holocaustremembrance at un.org but most important – please also view internet info that does not come from UN sources alone in light of diminished freedoms that come with the larger membership that more then tripled since 1945.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 12th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

In effect – what Ms Napoleoni says is that the Islamic State uses globalization and aim at creating an original Muslim State that is for the Muslim world a parallel to what Israel is to World Jewry – albeit the first stage overlaps the borders of the Caliphate of Baghdad and will claim besides Iraq and Syria also Jordan , Lebanon, and Israel.
Now an ebook – The book will be available in printed form December 2nd, 2014.
 www.sevenstories.com/news/introdu…

Introduction to Loretta Napoleoni’s THE ISLAMIST PHOENIX.

September 8, 2014

The following is the introduction to The Islamist Phoenix, a study of ISIS by Loretta Napoleoni, one of the world’s leading experts on money laundering and the financing of terror. Islamist Phoenix will be available as an ebook in early November, and as a trade paperback on December 2nd.

For the first time since World War One, an armed organization is redesigning the map of the Middle East drawn by the French and the British. Waging a war of conquest, the Islamic State (IS), formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (al Sham), or ISIS, is erasing the borders that the Sykes-Picot Accord established in 1916. The region where the black and golden flag of IS flies already stretches from the Mediterranean shores of Syria well into the heart of Iraq, the Sunni tribal area. It is bigger than the United Kingdom or Texas and, since the end of June 2014, is known as the Islamic Caliphate. “Caliphate” is the name given to an Islamic state led by a supreme religious and political leader known as a caliph, or successor to the Prophet Muhammad – the most famous being the Ottoman Caliphate (or Empire), which began in 1453 and lasted until the dissolution of the Caliphate and expulsion of the last caliph, Abdulmecid, at the hands of Kemal Ataturk in 1924.

Many believe that the Islamic State, like al-Qaeda before it, wants to turn back the clock, and indeed in Western media Syrian and Iraqi refugees describe its rule in their countries as a sort of carbon copy of the Taliban regime. Posters forbid smoking and the use of cameras. Women are not allowed to travel without a male relative, must be covered up, and cannot wear trousers in public. The Islamic State seems also engaged in a sort of religious cleansing through proselytism: people must either join its creed, radical Salafism; flee; or face execution.
Al-Baghdadi

Paradoxically, to deem the IS essentially backward would be mistaken. Indeed, during the last few years the belief that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the group’s leader and the new Caliph, is a clone of Mullah Omar may well have led Western intelligence to undervalue him and his organization’s strength. While the world of the Taliban was limited to Koranic schools and knowledge based upon the writings of the Prophet, globalization and modern technology have been the cradle of the Islamic State.

What distinguishes the Islamic State from all other armed groups that predate it, including those active during the Cold War, and what accounts for its enormous successes, is its modernity and pragmatism. So far its leadership has understood the limitations that contemporary powers face in a globalized and multipolar world – for example, the inability to reach an agreement for foreign intervention in Syria, as happened in Libya and Iraq. Against this backdrop the Islamic State’s leadership has successfully exploited the Syrian conflict, the most recent version of the traditional war by proxy, to its own advantage almost unobserved, drawing funds from a variety of people: Kuwaitis, Qataris, Saudis, who, seeking a regime change in Syria, have been willing to bankroll several armed groups. However, instead of fighting the sponsors’ war by proxy, the Islamic State has used their money to establish its own territorial strongholds in financially strategic regions, for example in the rich oilfields of Eastern Syria. No previous Middle Eastern armed organization has been able to promote itself as the region’s new ruler with the money of its rich Gulf sponsors.

In sharp contrast with the Taliban’s rhetoric and despite the barbarous treatment of the enemy, the Islamic State is spreading a positive and powerful political message in the Muslim world: the return of the Caliphate associated with happier and richer times for Muslims. This message comes at a time of great destabilization in the Middle East, while Syria and Iraq are ablaze, Libya is on the verge of another tribal conflict, Egypt is restive, and Israel has been once again at war with Gaza. Hence, the rebirth of the Caliphate and of its Caliph, al-Baghdadi, appears to many Sunnis not as yet another armed group but somehow as a political entity that is rising from the ashes of decades of war and destruction.

The fact that this Islamist Phoenix materialized on the first day of Ramadan 2014, the holy month of fasting and prayer, should be regarded as a powerful omen of the challenge that the Islamic State poses to the legitimacy of all the 57 countries that follow the Islamic faith. As clearly stated by its spokesman, Abu Mohamed al-Adnani: “the legality of all emirates, groups, states and organizations becomes null by the expansion of the Caliph’s authority and the arrival of his troops to their areas.” This is a challenge posed by a new political organization that, while claiming to trace its legitimacy all the way back to 7th-8th century Arabia and the first territorial manifestations of Islam, comprises a contemporary state and commands a modern army. As such it should not be underestimated, especially if the Islamic State consolidates its territorial conquests.

That the threat is real, and that it is particularly felt by those who share a border with Syria and Iraq, are facts: in July, 2014 the black and golden flag of the Islamic State appeared in Jordanian villages, and in August thousands of IS militants streamed into Lebanon from Syria and took Arsal. Even former sponsors fear the military power of the Caliphate: at the beginning of July, al-Arabiya broadcast that Saudi Arabia had deployed 30,000 soldiers to its border with Iraq after Iraqi soldiers withdrew from the area.

Under the religious veneer and the terrorist tactics, therefore, lays a political and military machine fully engaged in nation-building, seeking consensus after territorial conquest. Residents of the enclaves controlled by the Caliphate affirm that its arrival coincided with improvements in the day-to-day running of their villages, from fixing holes in the roads to organizing soup kitchens for those who had lost their homes to the daylong availability of electricty.

_76526461_iraq_syria_isis_caliphate_25.07.14_624mapWhile territorially the Islamic State’s master plan is to recreate the ancient Caliphate of Baghdad — an entity that the Mongols destroyed in 1261 and that stretched from the Iraqi capital all the way into modern Israel — its political goal seems to be the shaping of a twenty-first century incarnation. In his first speech as Caliph, al-Baghdadi pledged to return to Muslims the “dignity, might, rights, and leadership” of the past, and at the same time called for doctors, engineers, judges, and experts in Islamic jurisprudence to join him. As he spoke, a team of translators across the world worked almost in real time to release the text of his speech on jihadist websites, facebook and twitter accounts in several languages including English, French, and German.

The Islamic State wants to be for Muslims what Israel is for Jews, a state in their ancient land that they have reclaimed in modern times, a religious and powerful state that protects them wherever they are, something to be proud of. This is a potent message for the disenfranchised Muslim youth who live in the political vacuum created by disturbing factors, such as the corruption and inefficacy of the Free Syrian and Iraqi Army, the Maliki government’s refusal to integrate Sunnis into the fabric of political life, the absence of proper socio-economic infrastructures destroyed during the war, and a high rate of unemployment. It is a powerful message also for those living abroad, the disenfranchised Muslim youth of Europe. No other armed organization has shown such insight and political intuition into the domestic politics of the Middle East and Muslim immigrants’ frustration all over the world, and no other armed organization has adapted to contingent factors, such as the provision of basic socio-economic infrastructures in the territory it controls to succeed at nation-building.

Its leadership has also studied the tactical and structural mistakes of past armed groups as well as their successes, and has put these lessons into a modern context. Like the European armed organizations of the 1960s and 1970s, the Islamic State understands the power of propaganda, of fear at home and abroad, and has been skilfully used social media to propagate sleek videos and images of its barbarous actions. Fear is a much more powerful weapon of conquest than religious lectures, something that al-Qaeda has never understood. Equally, the Islamic State knows that the 24-hour media seeks ever more brutal images, because in a world overloaded with information, extreme violence sells the news: thus the plentiful supply of photos and videos of brutal punishments and tortures uploaded in formats that can be easily watched on mobile phones. Shockingly, in a voyeuristic society, sadism, when appealingly packaged, becomes a major attraction.

The Islamic State has closely analysed the propaganda machine that the US and UK administration employed to justify the preventive strike in Iraq in 2003, in particular the creation of the myth of al Zarqawi which US Secretary of State Colin Powell used on in his speech to the UN Security Council on February 5, 2003 to justify the invasion of Iraq. Thanks to an extensive and highly professional use of social media, the Islamic State has propagated equally false mythologies to proselytize, recruit, and raise funds across the Muslim world.

Crucial for the successes of this strategy have been the secrecy and mythology carefully woven around the Islamic State’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Bagdhadi. Again, in a world overloaded with information, mystery plays a major role in stimulating the collective imagination. The less people know, the more they want to know, and the more they imagine. Give people a few clips and they will complete the picture as they like it. Islam is premised on a certain nostalgia rooted in the return of the Prophet, while the West still fears Islam. Hence the IS is leading Muslims to believe that the Prophet has returned wearing the clothes of al-Baghdadi and at the same time it terrorizes Westerners with shockingly barbarous killings. Modern advertising has constructed a trillion-dollar industry atop these simple concepts. Now the Islamic State propaganda machine is using them to manufacture the myth of al-Baghdadi and his new Caliphate. What’s surprising is our surprise.

Finally, unlike al-Qaeda, the Islamic State is showing pragmatism. It seems to understand that, in the twenty-first century, new nations cannot be built and held together with terror and violence alone. To blossom, they require popular consensus. Hence the IS uses violence and Sharia law together with propaganda distributed over social media and a variety of popular social programmes aimed at improving the living conditions of the Sunni population trapped inside the Caliphate.

If this strategy succeeds, the world will be forced to turn a new leaf in the history of terrorism and nation-building, because the Islamic State will have provided a workable solution to the dilemma of terrorism. This, in a nutshell, is the true challenge that any armed organization poses to the modern state: whether to consider acts of terrorism as a threat to national security or to law and order. This dilemma springs from the ambiguous nature of terrorism: it has military aims – for example, among the goals of the Islamic State are freeing the territories of the old Caliphate of Baghdad from the tyrannical rule of the Shiites and the annexation of Jordan and Israel to recreate its ancient borders – but it employs criminal and barbarous methods like suicide bombings, the crucifixion of its opponents, and the beheading of hostages. Terrorism, therefore, could be defined as a crime with the aims of war. This ambiguity has allowed states to deny members of armed organizations the status of soldiers and enemies, relegating them to the ranks of outlaws even while using armies against them.

If the Islamic State succeeds in building a modern state, one that the world will not be able to ignore, using terrorism to gain territorial control and social and political reforms to secure internal popular consensus, it will prove what all armed organizations have affirmed: that they are not terrorists but enemies engaged in an asymmetrical war to overthrow illegitimate, tyrannical, and corrupted regimes. No matter how barbarous their actions are or have been, their status as threats to national security, as warriors, will be beyond doubt.

As the Islamic State’s war of conquest progresses, it is becoming clear that since 9/11 the business of Islamist terrorism has been getting stronger instead of weaker — to the extent that now it has morphed into a state — by simply keeping abreast with a fast-changing world in which propaganda and technology play an increasingly vital role. The same cannot be said for the forces engaged in stopping it from spreading.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 10th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Contributors to The New York Times.

Making Chemistry Green

By ROLF U. HALDEN and ROBERT S. LAWRENCENOV. 9, 2014

FOR nearly 40 years, the Food and Drug Administration has wrestled with regulating the chemicals triclosan and triclocarban as they have become among the world’s most ubiquitous environmental contaminants. Designed to kill bacteria, they have been added to antibacterial soaps, cosmetics and other consumer products despite longstanding concerns about their impacts on humans and the environment.

The fact that they are still being used underscores the need to reform the nation’s regulatory system and manufacturing approach for chemicals.

We just completed an analysis of 143,000 peer-reviewed research papers to track the progress of what we call chemicals of emerging concern. We found that it takes around 14 years from the point at which safety issues are raised about a chemical before scientists’ concern peaks and regulators act.

In the case of triclosan and triclocarban, regulatory action has taken a lot longer, even though we know that these chemicals can interfere with the human endocrine system, affecting development and metabolism, and may also be contributing to antibiotic resistance in bacteria that cause human infections.

The F.D.A. considered removing the chemicals from some consumer products in 1974 but concluded that there was inadequate data on their safety and said that it would reconsider the issue in a year. A seemingly unending series of reviews followed. Then, last December, only after being sued by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the agency ordered makers of antibacterial soaps and body washes used with water to show by next month whether these chemicals are safe and effective — or to stop using them.

(This would not be a great loss; antibacterial soaps are no better at killing germs than ordinary soap and water.)

These chemicals belong to a class of persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) compounds known as organohalogens. Perhaps the best known of these is DDT, a widely used pesticide banned in 1972 after devastating fish and bird populations (we still find remnants of it today in the blood of adults, children and newborns). While triclosan and triclocarban are not DDT, they share similarities that make them slow or impossible to degrade — their carbon-halogen bonds.

Regulators should also sharply curtail the use of two other classes of organohalogens: brominated organics, used primarily as flame retardants, and fluorinated compounds, used in food packaging, textiles and many consumer products.

We’ve known for decades that organohalogens pose potential hazards. The problem is, we don’t regulate chemicals by class, but individually, one compound at a time. And with about 84,000 chemical compounds in commercial use, and another 500 to 1,000 new ones introduced each year, we’ve created a situation that is impossible to regulate effectively.

Adding to the morass, two federal agencies, the F.D.A. and the Environmental Protection Agency, regulate chemicals depending on their use. The F.D.A. oversees chemicals that are ingested or used on the skin; the E.P.A. regulates the same chemicals when used for agriculture and industry. Little consideration is given to the potential health effects of chronic exposure to even small doses or to the effects of compounds that are likely to persist in the environment.

Recent Comments

Kekule

A great challenge in this area is the scientific illiteracy of Congress and their aides. Some corruption will always be there to some…

srwdm

The key here is “biodegradation.”And let me focus that on degradation and metabolism in the human body:The manipulation of fats…
Miquel Porta
11 minutes ago

Excellent article. Without naming specialities, it integrates evidence produced by several approaches. More in:– press.endocrine

So what should we do?

We must make safety, health and sustainability priorities throughout the life cycle of chemicals: their design, production, use, disposal and degradation. “Waste” is foreign in nature; all material flow is circular. We need to convert our linear approach to chemical manufacturing into a circular one, in which all products have a planned end-of-life.

We should regulate chemicals as we understand them: in groups. Instead of regulating one compound at a time and only after decades of debate, we should manage classes of PBT chemicals. Organochlorines, organobromines and organofluorines in consumer products pose intrinsic risks that rise with each carbon-halogen bond.

Regulations should also encourage industry to make products from benign or “green” chemicals. These are composed of basic, ubiquitous building blocks, not ones that are rare in nature and incompatible with biodegradation. Safer options are feasible and available.

In September, an important step was taken. Senators Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware; Susan Collins, Republican of Maine; Jay Rockefeller, Democrat of West Virginia; and Johnny Isakson, Republican of Georgia, proposed legislation that would encourage research and scientific collaboration in developing sustainable chemistry and create public-private partnerships to make and market sustainable chemical products.

Synthetic chemicals are vital to our society. But we should be doing everything possible to make sure they are safe.

Rolf U. Halden is an engineering professor and director of the Center for Environmental Security at Arizona State. Robert S. Lawrence is director of the Center for a Livable Future at Johns Hopkins.

A version of this op-ed appears in print on November 10, 2014, on page A21 of the New York edition with the headline: Making Chemistry Green.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 9th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

As GOP Swept Congress, Black Republicans Took Home Historic Wins.
reported by Hansi Lo Wang for CodeSwitch blog of NPR.com – November 08, 2014

The Republican Party made historic gains during this week’s midterm elections. Among their victories were three wins by black Republicans, who seem to be building momentum for diversifying the GOP ranks.

Mia Love — who is Mormon and Haitian-American — is one of those three, and Republicans in Utah’s 4th District will be sending her to Congress next year.

“Many of the naysayers out there said that Utah would never elect a black, Republican, LDS woman to Congress,” Love told a crowd on Tuesday. “And guess what? Not only did we do it, we were the first to do it!”

Another big winner was Tim Scott, who was appointed to the Senate in 2012, but won a full term in his own right on Tuesday. He’s now South Carolina’s first elected black senator, and the South’s first since Reconstruction.
Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. greets supporters after winning his Senate race over challengers Jill Bossi and Joyce Dickerson on Tuesday.

Texas also celebrated a historic win in Will Hurd, a former CIA officer who is the first black Republican from Texas ever to win a U.S. Congressional seat.

“It’s a start,” says Michael Steele, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee. “And yeah, I want more. You know, I want to get to the point where it’s not notable.”

Steele, the first black chairman of the RNC, is notable himself. He says these rising stars will follow the lead of former representatives Allen West and J.C. Watts, who, like other black Republicans, faced suspicion from many black voters.

“You still have to deal with the stereotype that somehow if you’re a black Republican, you’re not a real black person,” he says.

But Steele adds there are also legitimate questions about his party’s commitment to racial diversity.

“White folks get excited when they see, ‘Oh, got a black candidate running for office!’ ” he says. “OK, that’s great. But what are you doing to get them elected? It’s not just enough to have the face on the ballot.”
With his outspoken conservative views, Dr. Ben Carson is a hit among Republicans. He spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference last week.
Code Switch
Black GOP Stars Rise In A Party That’s Still Awkwardly White

Amy Holmes, a former speech writer for Republican Sen. Bill Frist and an anchor on the TheBlaze.com, says this newly-elected group represents an important part of the post-Obama era of politics.

“I think President Obama’s election in 2008 inspired a lot of African-American politicians, including on the right,” Holmes says.

Holmes points out these candidates also succeeded in places where black voters did not make up the majority.

“The old conventional wisdom has been that an African-American politician has to run from a majority African-American district,” she says. “Well, these three candidates prove that’s not true.”
Barry Goldwater greets an Indianapolis crowd during a campaign tour in Oct. 1964.

Why Did Black Voters Flee The Republican Party In The 1960s?

But the relationship between the GOP and black voters has to change as U.S. racial demographics continue to shift, according to Lenny McAllister, a former Republican candidate for Congress and the host of The McAllister Minute on the American Urban Radio Network.

Early exit polls show almost 90 percent of black voters supported Democrats on Tuesday, and McAllister says that allegiance to the Democratic Party diminishes black political power.

“We cannot continue to only access half of the political process,” McAllister says. “We need Republicans and Democrats being actively and efficiently responsive to our needs.”
Darius Foster says he wants to challenge racial and political expectations. “With me, unfortunately, everything is black Republican. Not Darius did this, but the black Republican did that.” Politics Alabama’s Darius Foster Wants To Bring Back ‘Fight For The People’ GOP

McAllister admits it will take more than these three winners for Republicans to earn the trust of black voters. But he says we shouldn’t forget how a young senator from Illinois beat the odds to become America’s first black president.

“The impossible happens in America, and if we’re going to open up the doors to what’s possible for more Americans, we have to take on this fight now,” he says.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 9th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

ON THIS DAY The New York Times reminds us in its only notion: On Nov. 9, 1965, the great Northeast blackout occurred as several states and parts of Canada were hit by a series of power failures lasting up to 13 1/2 hours.

Also, Nov. 9, 1989 – the Fall of the Berlin Wall – After 28 years, East Berliners were giddy with marvel that they could now visit the West. This rated today an article in The World Section of the New York Times – under title “On Berlin Wall Anniversary, Somber Notes Amid Revelry.” Also a link to a video: Video Video: Berlin’s Wall of Light
To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, artists created a border of lights. Related Article

But then there was another event – and this one did not rate an article by The New York Times – Nov.9. 1938 – the infamous exercise in terror that would be called “Kristallnacht,” or “the Night of Broken Glass,” because of the cost of broken glass in looted Jewish shops—$5 million marks ($1,250,000). This was when Synagogues were burned and some Jews killed – the beginning of the Holocaust Germans and Austrians imposed on Europe’s Jewry.

In Heydrich’s report to Hermann Goering after Kristallnacht, the damage was assessed: “…815 shops destroyed, 171 dwelling houses set on fire or destroyed… 119 synagogues were set on fire, and another 76 completely destroyed… 20,000 Jews were arrested, 36 deaths were reported and those seriously injured were also numbered at 36…”

The extent of the destruction was actually greater than reported. Later estimates were that as many as 7,500 Jewish shops were looted, and there were several incidents of rape. This, in the twisted ideology of Nazism, was worse than murder, because the racial laws forbade intercourse between Jews and gentiles. The rapists were expelled from the Nazi Party and handed over to the police for prosecution. And those who killed Jews? They “cannot be punished,” according to authorities, because they were merely following orders.

To add insult to massive injury, those Jews who survived the monstrous pogrom were forced to pay for the damage inflicted upon them. Insurance firms teetered on the verge of bankruptcy because of the claims. Hermann Goering came up with a solution: Insurance money due the victims was to be confiscated by the state, and part of the money would revert back to the insurance companies to keep them afloat.

The reaction around the world was one of revulsion at the barbarism into which Germany was sinking. As far as Hitler was concerned, this only proved the extent of the “Jewish world conspiracy.”

In effect one can say that the Kristallnacht and the Austrian “Anschluss” (Mar 12, 1938 when German troops marched into a willing Austria) set in motion the Hitler’s campaign to impose Germany on Europe.

Yes, the German lost WWII and a US/British/French/Soviet Peace was imposed over Europe. Germany’s occupation by the four “Victors” was a division into four Sectors and it ended up as two divided states – the former US, British, and French Sectors turned into West Germany, the former Soviet Sector into East Germany.

The Fall of the Berlin Wall – a development started by a Hungarian Government that was ready to help East Germans escape, at a time that a Soviet Government under President Mikhail Gorbachev did not think it was worth opposing it, helped reunite Germany and make possible a renewal of German strength. Germany became a motor for the unification of Europe and eventually history will show that what the Germans could not achieve by going to war against Europe – they did eventually achieve since the the Fall of the dividing Berlin Wall and the creation of the EU. But does this allow others to forget the Holocaust? Strangely, it seems today that Germany and Austria are not afraid of recognizing their people’s past savagery, it is the American media that does not see the way those historical events connect.

—————————————————–

We pick some other historical events that occurred on November 9th – our choice was so that we looked to some relevance to above mentioned three events. The list we found had 173 listings.

Historical Events on 9th November


694 – Spanish King Egica accuses Jews of aiding Moslems/sentenced to slavery

1282 – Pope Martinus IV excommunicates king Pedro III of Aragonorth
1313 – Louis the Bavarian defeats his cousin Frederick I of Austria at the Battle of Gamelsdorf.
1330 – Battle of Posada, Wallachian Voievode Basarab I defeats the Hungarian army in an ambush
1492 – Peace of Etaples (Henry VII of England & Charles VIII of France)
1494 – Family de’ Medici become rulers of Florence
1526 – Jews are expelled from Pressburg (Bratislava), Hungary, by Maria of Hapsburg

1620 – After a month of delays off the English coast and about two months at sea, the Mayflower spots land (Cape Cod)

1681 – Hungarian parliament promises protestants freedom of religion
1720 – Rabbi Yehuda Hasid synagogue set afire
1794 – Russian troops occupy Warsaw
1799 – Napoleon Bonaparte becomes dictator (1st consul) of France
1821 – French Emperor Napoléon BonaparteFrench Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte 1842
1848 – Robert Blum, a German revolutionary and MP (Liberal), is executed in Vienna.
1851 – Kentucky marshals abduct abolitionist minister Calvin Fairbank from Jeffersonville, Indiana, and take him to Kentucky to stand trial for helping a slave escape.
1857 – Atlantic Monthly magazine 1st published
1862 – US General Ulysses S. Grant issues orders to bar Jews from serving under him

1888 – US President & Union General Ulysses S. GrantUS President & Union General Ulysses S. Grant 1900 – China has resumed nominal control of Manchuria, but in a secret agreement the Chinese governor of Manchuria grants Russia such rights as keeping troops along the railroad lines and controlling civil administration
1906 – Theodore Roosevelt is 1st US President to visit other countries (Puerto Rico and Panama)
26th US President Theodore Roosevelt26th US President Theodore Roosevelt 1912
1914 – Off Cocos Island, near Sumatra, the Australian cruiser ‘Sydney’ sinks German cruiser ‘Emden’, which has been attacking ships in the Pacific
1915 – Italian liner Ancona sinks by German torpedos, killing 272
1918 – Bavaria proclaims itself a republic
1918 – Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicates after German defeat in WW I
1918 – Republic Germany proclaimed
1921 – Partito Nazionalista Fascista, forms in Italy by Mussolini

1922 – Dictator of Nazi Germany Adolf Hitler 1923 – Beer Hall Putsch-Nazis fail to overthrow government, 16 die/Hitler flees
1925 – German NSDAP form Schutzstaffel (SS)
1932 – Riots between conservative and socialist supporters in Switzerland kill 12 and injure 60.
1937 – Japanese army conquers Shanghai
1938 – Kristallnacht, Nazi Germany’s first large-scale physical act of anti-Jewish violence, begins.

1939 – “Ninotchka,” with Greta Garbo premieres
1939 – Nobel for physics awarded to Ernest O Lawrence (cyclotron)
1942 – German occupiers put Erik Scavenius as Danish premier
1942 – Transport number 44 departs with French Jews to Nazi-Germany

1944 – Red Cross wins Nobel peace prize – 33rd US President Harry Truman 1950
1953 – Cambodia (aka Kampuchea) gains independence from Fance, within the French Union
1955 – UN disapproves of South Africa’s apartheid politics
1961 – PGA eliminates caucasians only rule
1961 – Paddy Chayefsky’s “Gideon,” premieres in NYC
1962 – US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site
1963 – “Tovarich” closes at Broadway Theater NYC after 264 performances
1965 – Hurricane hits north east US/Canada
1965 – Several U.S. states and parts of Canada are hit by a series of blackouts lasting up to 13 hours in the Northeast Blackout of 1965.
1966 – John Lennon meets Yoko Ono at an avante-garde art exposition at Indica Gallery in London
1966 – “Let’s Sing Yiddish” opens at Brooks Atkinson NYC for 107 perfs
1967 – Surveyor 6 soft lands on Moon
1967 – The unmanned Saturn V rocket is launched on its first successful test flight into Earth orbit – USSR performs nuclear test at Eastern Kazakh/Semipalitinsk USSR
1970 – Trial of Seattle 8 anti-war protesters begins
1972 – US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site – Beatles Drummer Ringo StarrBeatles Drummer Ringo Starr 1973 – Ringo Starr releases “Ringo” album
1976 – UN General Assembly condemns apartheid in South Africa

1980 – Iraqi President Saddam Hussein declares holy war against Iran
1983 – Discovery flies from Vandenberg AFB to Kennedy Space Center
Iraqi President Saddam HusseinIraqi President Saddam Hussein 1984 – )
1989 – East Berlin opens its borders
1998 – Brokerage houses are ordered to pay 1.03 billion USD to cheated NASDAQ investors to compensate for their price-fixing. This is the largest civil settlement in United States history.
2003 – A suicide-terrorist attack in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, kills 17 people.
2012 – 25 people are killed and 62 injured after a train carrying liquid fuel bursts into flames in Burma
2013 – María Gabriela Isler, a 25yo Venezuelan, is crowned Miss Universe 2013 – Isler visited Austria to help crown the winners of Miss Austria on July 3, 2014 – she probably is a descendant of a Jewish refugee who escaped the NAZI world.
Her complete name is María Gabriela de Jesús Isler Morales

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 9th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Obama’s Last Chance

By Robert Parry, Consortium News

07 November 14

he Democrats clearly deserved to lose on Tuesday, though the Republicans may not have deserved to win. Indeed, there was almost a yin-yang quality to the Democratic rout/Republican victory in which the Democrats played into almost all the Republican themes, making the outcome feel inevitable.

Most notably, President Barack Obama and the Democrats shelved all the “contentious” issues that might have rallied their “base” to turn out and vote. Immigration reform was put on hold; release of the Senate report on “torture” was postponed; what to do about “global warming” was ignored; the argument about the value of activist government was silenced; etc., etc., etc.

On a personal level, supposedly polarizing “liberal” candidates, such as actor Ashley Judd in Kentucky, were pushed aside in favor of supposedly more “electable” candidates, like Alison Lundergan Grimes. Unwilling to say whether she had voted for President Obama in 2012, Grimes managed to win only 41 percent of the vote against the perennially unpopular Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Obama himself was virtually sidelined from many races in what was an implicit Democratic admission of the Republican theme that Obama was a failure and that he deserved an electoral repudiation. The smell of fear pervaded the Democratic ranks – and panic is not the most inspiring of emotions.

In some states, the Democrats seemed enamored with what might be called the “nepotism strategy,” counting on the “magic” of political names and family connections to somehow overcome their lack of message and their image of timidity: Pryor in Arkansas, Grimes in Kentucky, Nunn in Georgia – all went down to decisive defeat.

In the bigger picture, the Democratic failure seems part and parcel with the broader weakness of progressivism in the United States. The Right continues to dominate in areas of media and messaging, investing billions upon billions of dollars in a vertically integrated media apparatus, from the older technologies of print, radio and TV to the newer ones around the Internet. The Right also has layers upon layers of think tanks and other propaganda outlets.

By comparison, the Left has never made anything close to a comparable investment. And, even the ostensibly “liberal” network MSNBC and the purportedly “liberal” New York Times fall into line behind neoconservative foreign policy initiatives at nearly every turn, such as the “regime change” campaigns in Syria, Iran and Ukraine. So, too, do many of the supposedly “liberal” think tanks, such as the Brookings Institution and the New America Foundation.

Indeed, a remarkable reality about U.S. policy circles is that six years after the end of George W. Bush’s disastrous neocon-dominated presidency, the neocons continue to dominate America’s foreign policy thinking, albeit sometimes rebranded as “liberal interventionism.”

A ‘Closet Realist’

Though President Obama may be something of a “closet realist” – hoping to work quietly with foreign adversaries to resolve international crises – he has never taken firm control over his own foreign policy.

Obama apparently thought that neocon holdovers from the Bush years, like Gen. David Petraeus or Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, and Democratic neocons, such as his first Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, would somehow drop their ideological certitudes and cooperate with his approach.

Instead, the neocons and their “liberal interventionist” allies burrowed deep into the foreign policy bureaucracy and pop up periodically to press for their war-mongering agendas. A distracted President Obama always seems outmaneuvered – from the 2009 Afghan “surge,” to the 2010 stand-off over Iran’s nuclear program, to the 2011 civil wars in Libya and Syria, to the 2014 Ukrainian coup d’etat.

Arriving late at each new crisis, Obama usually signs off on what the neocons want, although he intermittently pushes for his “realist” approach, such as collaborating with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in avoiding a U.S. war on Syria in 2013 and negotiating a peaceful settlement to Iran’s nuclear program, which could be completed in 2014 if Obama doesn’t lose his nerve.

The big question now is whether the Democrats’ humiliating defeat on Nov. 4 will teach Obama and the party any meaningful lessons – or will the Democrats just kid themselves into thinking that “demographics” will save them or that they will prevail in 2016 by avoiding controversial stands and putting up another famous “name,” in Hillary Clinton.

Will Obama finally realize that he has to revert back to his inspiring messages of 2008 on issues such as his promise of government transparency? For the past six years, transparency has worked only one way: the government gets to look into the secrets of citizens while the citizens have no right to know about the government’s secrets.

There is a fundamental disconnect between this image of an intrusive federal government spying on everyone and the progressive concept that an active federal government is necessary to address fundamental problems facing the American people and the world, such as what to do about global warming, income inequality, corporate power, racial injustice, etc.

What I’m hearing from many young progressives is that they are so resentful of government intrusions into their lives that they are veering more toward libertarianism, even though it offers no solutions to most environmental, economic and social problems. If Obama hopes to stanch this flow of progressive youth to the right, he needs to finally recognize that the people need transparency on the government and the government must learn to trust the people.

An obvious first step would be to override CIA objections and release the report on torture during the Bush years. And while Obama is at it, he should make public the secret pages from the 9/11 report relating to Saudi funding for al-Qaeda terrorists.

I’m also told that Obama has information that contradicts his administration’s early claims blaming the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin gas attack on the Syrian government and faulting Russia for the July 17, 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine. Those two incidents fueled dangerous international confrontations – with the United States nearly going to war against the Syrian government in 2013 and starting a new Cold War with Russia in 2014.

If Obama has U.S. intelligence information that points the finger of blame in different directions, he should correct the impressions left by Secretary of State John Kerry and other U.S. officials. The neocons won’t like that – and some “liberal interventionists” may have egg on their faces, too – but misleading propaganda has no place in a democracy. False information must be removed as quickly as possible.

Similarly, Obama should commit his administration to expediting release of historical secrets. Currently, it takes many years, even decades, to pry loose embarrassing “secrets” from the U.S. government, often allowing false historical narratives to take hold or creating a hot house for conspiracy theories. It’s way past time for the U.S. government to give the American people their history back.

By releasing as much information as possible about important topics, Obama could finally begin to win back the people’s trust, not just in him but in the government. Nothing is as corrosive to democratic governance as a belief by the people that the government doesn’t trust them – and that they, in turn, have no reason to trust the government.

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Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, Democracy Now!
Excerpt: “How did the bank avoid prosecution for committing fraud that helped cause the 2008 financial crisis? Today we speak to JPMorgan Chase whistleblower Alayne Fleischmann in her first televised interview discussing how she witnessed ‘massive criminal securities fraud’ in the bank’s mortgage operations.”
READ MORE

Ralph Nader | Democrats Not Knowing What They Stand For – Lose
Ralph Nader, The Nader Page
Nader writes: “Did the Republicans win these mid-term elections? Or did the Democrats lose? The numbers show that in contested Senate races, where the Republicans picked up seven seats and will probably gain two more to take control of the Senate, voters did not support those Democrats who were the most wishy-washy.”
READ MORE

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 8th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From: EESI – the Environmental and Energy Study Institute

1112 16th Street, NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20036-4819


Possible Actions on Renewable Energy & Fuels in the 114th Congress.

November 7, 2014

On October 5, with Republicans declaring a major victory in the Senate, the game of musical chairs for Committee leadership has already begun. Meanwhile, de facto Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker Boehner (R-OH), released statements that hint at their agenda for the 114th Congress. In reading the tea leaves, what might be expected from this Congress with regard to renewable energy, particularly biofuels? While there may not be the super majority needed to block a filibuster or overcome a Presidential veto on bills that would negatively impact renewable energy – renewable fuels may not fare so well in the upcoming Congress.

With their sights already set on the 2016 election, Boehner and McConnell are vowing to end the ‘grid lock’ and “put as much legislation on the President’s desk as possible in the next two years, starting with many bills which passed [the House] with bipartisan support—only to gather dust in a Democratic-controlled Senate that kept them from ever reaching the president’s desk.” Not surprisingly, McConnell and Boehner’s agenda includes voting on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. While not specifically mentioned in early comments from leadership, it is likely that several bipartisan energy issues will be raised again, including the renewable tax credits and the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill. It is also likely that the oil export ban, the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, and other proposed regulations and expansions of oil and gas drilling on federal lands will receive attention in the new Congress.

Within the renewable fuels industry, leaders were cautiously optimistic regarding the outcome of the election, reiterating that biofuels have historically enjoyed bipartisan support. In addition to being supported during a democratically controlled Congress, biofuels were included in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush. Renewable fuels did enjoy support on the campaign trail from both parties, particularly in the Midwest. Brian Jennings, executive vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol, expressed caution, stating, “Now is the time we have to hold newly-elected officials accountable for the promises made on the campaign trail.” And while for the most part Midwestern Senators state they are strongly in support of biofuels, it is less clear in other states with competing interests. In states with strong ties to the oil and gas industry, and ‘big food,’ making the case for biofuels has been more difficult, despite rising corn crop yields, falling corn prices, and advancements in renewable fuels.

Committee chairs wield considerable power in their ability to get legislation to the floor. Sen. Boxer (D-CA), chair of Environment and Public Works (EPW), has been a staunch supporter of renewable energy and the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). Just last month, she sent a letter in support of the RFS to Obama in October, along with Sen. Markey (D-MA). In the new Congress, Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) will most likely assume chairmanship of EPW, which oversees the EPA. Senator Inhofe has been a vigorous climate denier and a vocal opponent to the EPA’s regulation of the energy industry.

In early 2014, Inhofe expressed interest in repealing the RFS, and instead focus on expansion of domestic oil and gas drilling. Inhofe wrote that the RFS should be repealed, “allow[ing] ethanol and other biofuels to compete on a level playing field with all other transportation fuels”— a common refrain of renewable energy foes. Ironically, Inhofe makes no mention of the $4.8 billion in taxpayer funded subsidies to the oil and gas industry each year. But it is clear, without the support of the EPW Chairman, challenges to the RFS will be brought forward. In looking over previous anti-RFS legislation from the 113th Congress, a few patterns emerge. It is likely that efforts to modify the RFS could include capping ethanol at ten percent of fuel volumes, blocking or hindering mid-level blends, and possibly cuts to corn ethanol from the mandate. And while many environmentalists would like to see the focus shift solely to advanced fuels, such as those sourced from agricultural or other wastes, corn ethanol has provided the marketplace for the nascent advanced fuels categories. Indeed, many cellulosic plants coming online today are bolt-on technologies to existing corn ethanol facilities. Therefore, these two industries’ fates are intrinsically tied together and are both important to the future of biofuel and biobased products and our ability to move away from oil dependency.

What remains to be seen is if any of these bills could achieve the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster and make it to a vote on the Senate floor. Hopefully, it will not come to that point; the importance of support beyond the ‘corn belt’ cannot be ignored. The industry itself has already had ‘1000 cuts’; distribution has been severely limited by infrastructure issues created by the oil and gas industry; public perception issues still loom large, and a long-delayed 2014 renewable volume obligates (RVOs) has chilled industry investments in new technologies and feedstocks. The result is an industry that is increasingly looking abroad for investor certainty, as China, South America and Europe still remain bullish on renewable fuels. Therefore, it would be unwise for the industry to rely on historic support. Instead, the case needs to be made as to why ethanol and other biofuels are important to every district and state, by lowering prices at the pump, reducing reliance on oil, creating jobs and a globally competitive industry, and lowering exposure to toxic tailpipe emissions.

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For more information see:

Energy Policy Seen Ripe for Compromise in GOP Congress, Bloomberg

Will Ethanol Ride the GOP Wave?, Agriculture.com

Sen. Inhofe, denier of human role in climate change, likely to lead environment committee, The Washington Post

Congress Should Repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard, Washington Times

Contact at EESI:

Jessie Stolark
 jstolark at eesi.org

Newsletters:

EESI Update
Climate Change News (CCN)
Sustainable Bioenergy, Farms, and Forests (SBFF)

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 8th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


In an unprecedented move, a Saudi advisory council says it approves of lifting a ban on female drivers. The Shura Council proposes that certain restrictions be applied, however: Women must be at least 30, have permission from their male guardian, not wear makeup and drive only in daylight hours, The Associated Press reports.


For years, the kingdom has refused to review the ban on female drivers, which is unique to Saudi Arabia, where conservative Muslim clerics have expressed concerns that female drivers could spread “licentiousness.”

The AP reports:

“The Shura Council’s recommendations are not obligatory on the government. But simply making the recommendation was a startling shift after years of the kingdom’s staunchly rejecting any review of the ban.

“The council member told The Associated Press that the Shura Council made the recommendations in a secret, closed session held in the past month. The member spoke on condition of anonymity because the recommendations had not been made public.”

As The Two-Way’s Bill Chappell reported last year, there have been a number of bold protests against the ban, with Saudi women getting behind the wheel for a day. Thousands have signed online protests against the ban. The October 2013 protest highlighted by Bill was the third of its kind since 1990.

The AP says that the Shura Council recommended that women 30 and older be allowed to drive until 8 p.m. each day if they have permission from a male guardian. They would be allowed to drive from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday through Wednesday and noon to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, the Muslim weekend.

The council is also recommending a “female traffic department” made up of female officers to deal with female drivers, the AP says.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 7th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


“Ending Impunity: Upholding the Rule of Law”
By Irith Jawetz – reporting from a meeting held at the UN and open to outsiders (This in itself being an improvement of UN openess and transparency.

Monday, 3 November 2014 – at the ECOSOC Chamber, United Nations Headquarters, New York – The Permanent Missions to the United Nations, of Argentina, Austria, Costa Rica, France, Greece and Tunisia and UNESCO, hosted a High-Level and Interactive Panel Discussion on the subject: “Ending Impunity: Upholding the Rule of Law.”

This event was aimed at the occasion of the 1st International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. It is in recognition of such far-reaching consequences of impunity, especially of crimes against journalists, that the UN has declared November 2 as the International Day to End Impunity for crimes against journalists (IDEI). This is a major opportunity at the UN to intensify action by international organizations, governments and media to give heightened attention to strengthening the safety of journalists, and to voice the need to bring their killers to justice.



The main theme, stressed throughout the event, was that the rule of law is fundamental to the stability and smooth functioning of society and people will have confidence in the democratic process only if the rule of law is respected.

UNESCO has been commissioned by the UN General Assembly through Resolution A/RES/68/163 to coordinate the UN Plan of Action on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity, as well as to facilitate the implementation of this new International Day in collaboration with governments.

UNESCO is also convening the 3rd UN Inter-Agency Meeting on the Safety of journalists and The Issue of Impunity on November 4 2014 in Strasbourg, France, and a Seminar and Inter-Regional Dialogue on the Protection of Journalists is being co-organized by UNESCO, the Council of Europe, and the Centre for Freedom of the Media, and the European Lawyers’ Union on November 3, 2014 at the European Courts of Human Rights.

The event was chaired by Mr. George Papagiannis, External Relations & Information officer at the New York Liaison office of UNESCO.

The Panelists were:

Ambassador Michel Spinellis, Permanent Representative of Greece to the United Nations.

Mr Getachew Engida, Deputy Director-General of UNESCO.

Mr Joel Simon, Executive Director, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Dr Agnes Callamard, Director, Global Freedom of Expression & Information, Special Adviser to the President,
Columbia University

Ms Nadia Bilbassy-Charters, Foreign Correspondent, Al-Arabiya News Channel and MBC TV, also on the Board of Directors, International Women’s Media Foundation.


Mr. Papagiannis opened the discussion by mentioning how important this subject is considering that in 2014 alone 41 journalists were killed while doing their job. Secretary General Ban Ki moon, who is at present in Vienna, gave a short address via video stressing the fact that journalists must be protected at all costs and those who commit crimes against them should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

The panelists were basically in agreement that drastic measure must be taken to safeguard the lives of journalists. The UN must have a plan of action and coordinate it with the respective Governments. Addressing impunity for the killings of journalists is directly related to the Sustainable Development Goal proposals made by the UN Open Working Group, and especially the proposed Goal 16: “Promise peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build affective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”.

The most passionate addresses came from Mr. Joel Simon, Executive Director, Committee to protect Journalists (CPJ) and Ms. Nadia Bilbassy-Charters, Foreign correspondent, Al-Arabiya News Channel and MBCTV.

Mr. Simon stressed the need to bring to Justice the people responsible for killing, abusing, and torturing journalists. 90% of those criminals get away with it. If they would be brought to justice, the crimes may decline.Countries as well as organizations must be held accountable.

Ms. Bilbassy-Charters, who is also on the Board of Directors of International Women’s Media Foundation, addressed the issue from a personal point of view, as a foreign journalist who just got back from the Turkish-Syrian border, and who knows many journalists who were killed or were, or are still, in captivity. She said the journalists most affected are the local ones, and the freelance journalists who do not have a backing organization behind them. Most of the crimes against journalists now are happening in the Middle East. Before the Arab Spring the main problem was lack of freedom of speech in those countries. The so called Arab Spring made matters worse instead of better. Journalists, especially in Syria, are in danger, and 88% of them are local journalists who do not have any protection.

The consensus among the panelists, and the representatives of the countries supporting this event, was that drastic measures have to be taken to safeguard the journalists. They are not only bearers of news to the Public, they are fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, husband and wives, human beings who are just trying to do their job.

Ms. Bilbassi-Charters concluded with a saying from her favorite US President Thomas Jefferson: “Democracy is about informed choices”. Informed choices could only reach the people if the journalists have freedom of speech and are not subjected to impunity.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 7th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

QUOTATION OF THE DAY:
“It doesn’t make me mopey. It energizes me, because it means that this democracy’s working.”
PRESIDENT OBAMA, on his party’s sweeping midterm losses.

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President Obama’s problems were in part caused by Senate Democrats who catered to demands from interests that claimed to speak for the people rather then backing foresight that was presented by the White House. Many of such Senators lost anyway and in their last two months in Congress are now free to vote their conscience having been freed from politics.
The Conservative winners see the danger looming now as a cloud of truth they say is manned by ZOMBIES.

For whatever this is worth – we post here the thoughts of Heritage Foundation’s President – former Congressional leader Jim DeMint – while eager to see what President Obama still manages to achieve during this interim two months of a “Zombie Congress” – the time he is facing a still a nominal Democrat Senate – at least by name. The following two years, with the fiction of a Democrat Senate out of the way – President Obama will be forced to govern by rulings from the White House and vetoes of Congressional legislation that he will not be ready to accept. We are thus optimists and say that the time of Gridlock will be over – a new era of compromise or clear confrontation is looming for these two years.

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Commentary By Jim DeMint
Washington’s Conservative Heritage Foundation President

With the midterm elections just behind us, Americans might think they can finally stop worrying about politics for a while. Not so fast! Now is when they need to be more vigilant than ever.

Although dozens of politicians were replaced with fresh faces on Election Day, the losers don’t have to vacate their offices for two months. That means they can keep on voting in a “lame duck” session of Congress.

While “lame duck” is the standard parlance in D.C., I prefer the more colorful term “Zombie Congress,” popularized in recent years by George Will and others. It more aptly conveys the peril of the situation. Zombie legislators are those unhappy senators and representatives who have been voted out of office, yet still stagger dutifully back to Washington for a month or so before Christmas break. ‘Tis the season when they are most dangerous.

Unlike their B-movie counterparts, these zombies don’t seek brains, though they could probably use some. With no electorate to appease, the newly politically “deceased” members have no incentive to restrain their more base urges to feast upon the hard-earned tax dollars of the living.
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Unfortunately, lame duck sessions have become more common in recent years and have been used to rush through liberal policies while most Americans are focused on the holidays. Obamacare was rammed through the Senate on Christmas Eve in 2009. Other lame ducks were used to pass bailouts, debt limit increases, big spending bills, special-interest tax breaks and even an ill-advised arms treaty with Russia.

Lame duck lawmakers could use this year’s post-election session to push through a costly omnibus spending bill … with total impunity. Those who want to further burden Americans by taxing their Internet purchases also are contemplating the chance to ram through the misleadingly titled “Marketplace Fairness Act.” The “fairness” here means you send more money to the government!

It’s not just a matter of electoral death and taxes, either. All sorts of controversial issues and massive bills could be brought up when We the People think it’s safe to turn our attention away from Washington and enjoy family, fall and football. Harry Reid has been clear in his desire to preserve corporate welfare for big “green” energy companies by tying it to good “must pass” tax provisions, instead of waiting until next year to consider them separately.

In the past two lame duck sessions of Congress, ill-advised treaties have arisen, such as the United Nations Disabilities Treaty, which violates American sovereignty in helping its citizens who need care. If the disability treaty rises from the dead this session, it would impose foreign educational and social agendas upon our country regardless of the will of the people.

Not all hazards arise from the legislative branch: President Obama has threatened to implement additional unilateral amnesty for illegal immigrants after the election. He already has “lit the beacon” of amnesty for further incoming waves under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and has hinted at expanding it to millions more who have entered the country illegally. A Congress where the balance of power is determined by folks with nothing to lose lacks incentive to stand up to the president’s executive overreach or work with him for a sane alternative to the border crisis.

Tackling these challenges will take time, deliberation and, most importantly, a legislative body which actually represents Americans and has a stake in the outcome. That’s not the kind of body you have in a Zombie Congress.

As of last night, the nation has spoken, giving a new generation of leaders the mandate to govern on popular conservative priorities such as school choice, increased energy production and more jobs. But the losers could still affect national policy even after the voters have made their wishes clear.

Harry Reid and John Boehner should insist the zombies shuffle homeward without hurting the country and begin the transition to real life as soon as possible. Americans don’t need divisive, expensive legislation forced on them in a lame duck session by senators and representatives they’ve already fired. We have big challenges to face as a nation, and we’ll face them best with a Congress that better reflects the will of the people. And it can all wait until January!

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Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint rose from modest South Carolina roots and a career in marketing to build and lead a resurgent conservative movement.

Jim DeMint @JimDeMint

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 5th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Fletcher School of International Affairs, Tufts University

2014 Fletcher D-Prize Winners Develop Innovative Distribution Models to Help Light the Night in Rural African Villages -
Tommy Galloway, F’14 and Andrew Lala, F’14.

Date: September 12, 2014

“Buses are the West African version of FedEx and Paypal mixed together” says Andrew Lala, Clair de Lune co-founder.

In remote regions of Sub-Saharan African, where local bus routes provide one of the few regular connections between businesses and families, two Fletcher graduates are finding a way to bring people light from a natural source: the bus driver.

Pioneered by Tommy Galloway (F14) and Andrew Lala (F14) and funded in part by $15,000 from The Fletcher D-Prize Poverty Solutions Venture Competition, Clair de Lune – French for “moonlight” – aims to bring solar lights to villages in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Many families – upwards of 600 million people throughout the region – rely on kerosene lanterns to light their homes. Yet, solar lanterns provide a cheaper, safer and cleaner alternative. Families that buy solar lamps save money on energy expenses and are more productive outside of daylight hours. Household incomes often increase 15-30 percent. Children study for an additional two hours a day.

The solar lighting solution existed, but without traditional delivery networks found in other parts of the world, Clair de Lune’s creators hoped to find a way to bring the lights to those who could benefit most from them. They drew inspiration from their prior experiences in the region – Andrew in Burkina Faso and Tommy in Myanmar – where they saw firsthand the powerful conduit buses serve as for transport of all kinds, from people to goods to information.

“I saw my Burkinabé counterparts frequently going to bus stations to send cash and goods that you couldn’t find in villages – such as flashlights and cell phones – to rural family members,” Andrew said. “Buses are the West African version of FedEx and Paypal mixed together.”

Based on this model, the Fletcher alumni duo implemented a distribution platform that leverages existing bus infrastructure and cultural remittance practices to bring solar lights to these hard to reach region. Starting in the summer of 2014 with 400 off-the-grid families in Burkina Faso, they aim to scale to 30,000 customers within two years.

Tommy and Andrew have faced some challenges, from lack of infrastructure to difficult trade policies, yet the pilot program continues onward with new opportunities as Clair de Lune looks for second round investment. What was once a simple business plan hatched on the seventh floor of the Cabot building at Fletcher has evolved into a tangible and promising network of clients and partners on a real path to helping fight poverty.

“Every day you can engage in creating something new that you fundamentally believe in,” Tommy said, “and that is affirmed with every step forward we make.”

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Fletcher’s Editors Note: If you had $20,000, how would you fight poverty? Help kick off this year’s D-Prize competition on Tuesday, September 16, 2014, with presentations from D-Prize President Paul Youn and Clair de Lune co-founders Andrew and Tommy. The Fletcher D-Prize is open to all Fletcher students and their Tufts teammates, and – new this year – all Fletcher alumni as well! Read more

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 5th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The White House, Washington

Yesterday, millions of Americans cast their ballots. Republicans had a good night, and I congratulate all the candidates who won.

But what stands out to me is that the message Americans sent yesterday is one you’ve sent for several elections in a row now. You expect the people you elect to work as hard as you do. You expect us to focus on your ambitions — not ours — and you want us to get the job done. Period.

I plan on spending every moment of the next two years rolling up my sleeves and working as hard as I can for the American people. This country has made real and undeniable progress in the six years since the 2008 economic crisis. But our work will not be done until every single American feels the gains of a growing economy where it matters most: in your own lives.

While I’m sure we’ll continue to disagree on some issues that we’re passionate about, I’m eager to work with Congress over the next two years to get the job done. The challenges that lay ahead of us are far too important to allow partisanship or ideology to prevent our progress as a nation.

As we make progress, I’ll need your help, too. Over the weeks and months ahead, I’ll be looking to Americans like you, asking you to stay engaged.

I am optimistic about our future. Because for all the maps plastered across our screens today, for all the cynics who say otherwise, we are more than a simple collection of red and blue states. We are the United States.

And yesterday, millions of Americans — Democrats and Republicans, women and men, young and old, black and white — took the time out of their day to perform a simple, profound act of citizenship. That’s something we shouldn’t forget amid the din of political commentary. Because making progress starts with showing up.

Let’s get to work.

President Barack Obama
The White House • 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW • Washington, DC 20500 • 202-456-1111

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 3rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Brazil gives go-ahead to 31 solar parks in push for new energy

Date: 03-Nov-14
Country: Brazil
Author: Marcelo Teixeira of Reuters

Brazil finally entered the solar power sector on Friday, granting contracts for the construction of 31 solar parks as it tries to diversify its sources of generation amid an energy crisis caused by the worst drought in eight decades.
Brazil’s energy regulator, Aneel, concluded its first exclusive solar power auction on Friday, clinching 20-year energy supply contracts with companies that will invest 4.14 billion reais ($1.67 billion) and start to feed the national grid in 2017.

The 31 solar parks, the first large-scale solar projects to be constructed in Brazil, will have a combined installed capacity of 1,048 megawatts (MW). Market expectations were for projected total awards of 500 MW.

“This auction is a mark, not only because it signals the entrance of solar power in the Brazilian energy mix, but because it was one of the most competitive to date,” said Mauricio Tolmasquim, head of the government’s energy research company, EPE.

The auction lasted more than eight hours. The final price for solar power came at around 220 reais ($89) per megawatt-hour, against an initial price of 262 reais ($106), an 18 percent discount.

“This is one of the lowest prices for solar energy in the world,” Tolmasquim said.

According to Tolmasquim, costs were reduced because of the strong solar radiation factor in Brazil and because many solar parks would be installed in areas that already have wind farms, reducing the amount developers would spend on land and transmission lines.

In Brazil’s power auctions, the government sets a maximum price for the megawatt-hour and companies bid down the price at which they are willing to sell energy. Companies that offer the lowest prices win the contracts.

Solar power developers have participated in previous auctions, but because they were competing against cheaper sources, such as wind and hydroelectric plants, they never succeeded in winning contracts.

This time, the government allocated a specific amount of energy to be produced by solar parks, trying to spur development of a local industry and in the long term reduce costs for projects, as it did with wind power some years ago.

Currently, wind power companies win most of the contracts in the regular auctions, with prices per megawatt-hour that are lower than thermal projects fueled by coal or natural gas.

Brazil’s power system has traditionally been composed by a network of large hydro power plants, but almost three years of well below-average rains have depleted reservoirs and sent the country scrambling to diversify its energy matrix.

An expensive, fossil-fueled emergency network of thermal power plants has shored up supply, but at the cost of tarnishing the country’s reputation as a renewable energy producer and consumer.

The government has been criticized by environmental groups for taking so long to enlist solar power in its energy matrix, because of Brazil’s excellent potential for solar.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 3rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Denmark considers phasing out coal by 2025 in big green shift.

Date: 03-Nov-14
Country: Denmark
From Alister Doyle of Reuters – November 3, 2014

Denmark should ban coal use by 2025 to make the Nordic nation a leader in fighting global warming, adding to green measures ranging from wind energy to bicycle power, Denmark’s climate minister said on Saturday.

Denmark has already taken big steps to break reliance on high-polluting coal – wind turbines are set to generate more than half of all electricity by 2020 and 41 percent of people in Copenhagen cycle to work or school, higher than in Amsterdam.

“The cost (of phasing out coal) would not be significant,” Climate, Energy and Building Minister Helveg Petersen told Reuters of a proposal he made this week to bring forward a planned phase-out of all coal use to 2025 from 2030.

His ministry is studying details of how it would work before unveiling a formal plan. Denmark imports about 6 million tonnes a year of coal on world markets, currently from Russia, so a ban would coincidentally cut dependence on Moscow for energy.

The Danish Energy Association, representing energy firms, said a faster phase-out of coal would bring risks that wind turbines could not meet demand on calm days. Coal now generates about a third of Danish electricity.

“There will be a bill to pay,” said Anders Stouge, deputy head of the association. Petersen said that some coal-fired plants could shift to burning wood as a backup.

Denmark often gets high marks for its work to cut greenhouse gas emissions, which fell 25 percent from 1990 to 2012, among the steepest falls of any EU nation. It is aiming for a 40 percent cut from 1990 by 2020, matching the EU’s goal for 2030.


A report by the WWF conservation group said Denmark was a global leader on climate and energy. Kaisa Kosonen of Greenpeace said Denmark’s plans ultimately to phase out use of fossil fuels by 2050 “is the direction for all countries”.


Even though Denmark’s greenhouse gas emissions are falling sharply, however, the heavy dependence on coal means per capita emissions of 9.25 tonnes in 2012 were still above the European Union average of 8.98.

Copenhagen has won awards as the world’s greenest capital -glass trophies are on show in the mayor’s office in ornate City Hall to reward a cleanup that means, for instance, that people can swim in the formerly polluted harbor in summertime.

Mayor Frank Jensen said a shift from burning coal in homes and buildings was originally to encourage workers to live in the city, rather than commute and pay local taxes elsewhere.

Mayors had to create livable cities, he told Reuters. “You soon come to the green agenda because families want to have a green city,” he said. Copenhagen’s cycle lanes, for instance, have expanded to 350 kms (220 miles).

Other mayors often say they cannot match Copenhagen’s biking success because their cities are hillier than the flat Danish capital, he said. But they forget that it rains and snows a lot in Denmark. “My wife cycles every day,” he said.

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The more general news from Copenhagen said:

Climate change fight affordable, cut emissions to zero by 2100: U.N.

Governments can keep climate change in check at manageable costs but will have to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2100 to limit risks of irreversible damage, a U.N. report said on Sunday.

The 40-page synthesis, summing up 5,000 pages of work by 800 scientists already published since September 2013, said global warming was now causing more heat extremes, downpours, acidifying the oceans and pushing up sea levels.

“Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in the message. Leaders must act, time is not on our side,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in presenting the report in Copenhagen that is meant to guide global climate policy-making.

With fast action, climate change could be kept in check at manageable costs, he said, referring to a U.N. goal of limiting average temperature rises to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times. Temperatures are already up 0.85 C (1.4F).

The study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), approved by more than 120 governments, will be the main handbook for negotiators of a U.N. deal to combat global warming due at a summit in Paris in December 2015.

To get a good chance of staying below 2C, the report’s scenarios show that world emissions would have to fall by between 40 and 70 percent by 2050 from current levels and to “near zero or below in 2100″.

Below zero would require extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – for instance by planting forests that soak up carbon as they grow or by burying emissions from power plants that burn wood or other biomass.

RENEWABLES, NUCLEAR

To cut emissions, the report points to options including energy efficiency, renewable energies from wind to solar power, nuclear energy or coal-fired power plants where carbon dioxide is stripped from the exhaust fumes and buried underground.

But carbon capture and storage (CCS) is expensive and little tested. Last month, Canada’s Saskatchewan Power opened the world’s first big CCS unit at a coal-fired power plant after a C$1.35 billion ($1.21 billion) retrofit.

“With CCS it’s entirely possible that fossil fuels can be used on a large scale,” IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri said. In most scenarios, the report says “fossil fuel power generation without CCS is phased out almost entirely by 2100″.

Without extra efforts to cut emissions, “warming by the end of the 21st century will bring high risks of severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts globally,” the IPCC said.

“Irreversible” could mean, for instance, a runaway melt of Greenland’s vast ice sheets that could swamp coastal regions and cities or disruptions to monsoons vital for growing food.

“The cost of inaction will be horrendously higher than the cost of action,” Pachauri said.

Deep cuts in emissions would reduce global growth in consumption of goods and services, the economic yardstick used by the IPCC, by just 0.06 percentage point a year below annual projected growth of 1.6 to 3.0 percent, it said.

So far, major emitters are far from curbs on emissions on a scale outlined by the IPCC. China, the United States and the European Union are top emitters.

John P. Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, said the report was “yet another wake-up call to the global community that we must act together swiftly and aggressively in order to stem climate change.”

“We must safeguard the world for future generations by striking a new climate deal in Paris next year,” British Secretary of State for Climate and Energy Ed Davey said.

Environmental groups welcomed the report, including its focus on zero emissions. “This is no longer about dividing up the pie. You need to get to zero. At some stage there is no pie left for anyone,” said Kaisa Kosonen of Greenpeace.

The report also says that it is at least 95 percent sure that manmade emissions of greenhouse gases, rather than natural variations in the climate, are the main cause of warming since 1950, up from 90 percent in a previous assessment in 2007.

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Power to Denmark – they do not talk Clean Coal But No Coal. Please note this higher note then the one proposed by Engineer Pachauri of the IPCC

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 3rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Invest now or face ‘irreversible’ effects of climate change, U.N. panel warns.

By Steve Almasy, CNN
November 2, 2014

STORY HIGHLIGHTS:

U.N. Secretary-General says time is running out for world leaders to lead
Report is “another canary in the coal mine,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says
U.N. calls for the elimination of greenhouse gas emissions by 2100
IPCC says it is more certain than ever that humans are causing temperature rises

(CNN) — The cost of fighting climate change will only climb if industrialized nations don’t take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the United Nations’ panel on the matter warned Sunday in its wrap-up report.

In its “synthesis report,” the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that the hundreds of authors involved in the study were even more certain than before that the planet is warming and humans are the cause.

“If left unchecked, climate change will increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems,” the report said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters that action must come soon.

“Leaders must act. Time is not on our side,” he said.

The report said there are solutions to keeping the rise in temperatures from crossing a 2-degree Celsius increase, the goal of many governments.

“It is technically feasible to transition to a low-carbon economy,” said Youba Sokona, the co-chairman of IPCC Working Group III. “But what is lacking are appropriate policies and institutions. The longer we wait to take action, the more it will cost to adapt and mitigate climate change.”

Previously the group has said that about half of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere since the dawn of the industrial age has been produced since 1990. On the current path, global average temperatures could go up anywhere from 3.7 to 4.8 degrees C (6.7 to 8.6 F) over pre-industrial levels by 2100.

According to the IPCC, to stay below a 2-degree C increase, greenhouse gas emissions need to fall as much as 70% around the world by 2050 and to zero by 2100.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the report is “another canary in the coal mine” and added that “ambitious, decisive and immediate action” is needed.

“We have that opportunity, and the choice is in our hands,” R. K. Pachauri, chairman of the group, said in the report.
Weather Channel’s climate change feud

John Coleman, a weather forecaster and a founder of the Weather Channel, said climate change is “not happening.”

“There is no significant man-made global warming now. There hasn’t been any in the past, and there’s no reason to expect any in the future,” Coleman told CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”

Coleman said governments pay scientists to study the issue and researchers reach expected conclusions in order to continue to receive funding. Therefore the large percentage of climate scientists who agree there is climate change is a “manipulated figure,” he said.

“They don’t have any choice,” added Coleman, who said he is a skeptic, not a denier. “If you’re going to get the money, you have got to support their position.”

But David Kenny, CEO of the Weather Channel, said Coleman’s opinion is at odds with the channel’s stance, which he said has been “unwavering” since 2007. The Weather Channel’s statement says that the Earth is indeed warming and cites “strong evidence that the majority of the warming over the past century is a result of human activities.”

Weather Channel distances itself from a founder: “The science is really clear, and I don’t like our brand being associated with something that’s not scientifically based,” Kenny told “Reliable Sources,” adding that Coleman hasn’t been associated with the channel in decades.

The chief scientist at the United Kingdom’s Met Office said the IPCC report gives governments the science to help make policy decisions.

Julia Slingo added that supercomputing will also advance the science.

“By doing this we can provide a solid evidence base to ensure UK investment decisions, and our future prosperity, remain resilient to future climate risk,” she said in a written statement.

The report didn’t estimate a price for global changes.

“The Synthesis Report finds that mitigation cost estimates vary, but that global economic growth would not be strongly affected,” it said.

Ban said it is a myth that fixing climate change will be expensive. Inaction will have large financial and societal costs, he said.

He pointed to renewable energy and increased efficiency as two ways to address the issue.

The IPCC said the report is based on 30,000 scientific papers studied by about 830 authors and 2,000 reviewers.

The reports from the IPCC are aimed at guiding world leaders as the United Nations attempts to work out a new treaty to limit emissions.

Paris will host the next major international climate summit, scheduled to start November 30, 2015.

Previous rounds of talks have been strained by disputes between the biggest emitters — China, the United States and European countries — and poorer countries whose populations could see the worst impacts first.

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