links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic
SustainabiliTank

 
 
Follow us on Twitter

Brazil China IBSA
CanadaIsraelIndonesiaJapanKoreaMexicoRussiaTurkey
Other Europe  Africa  Asia & Australia  Latin America  Island States
 

Archives
Green Sources Jobs
Real World's News Promptbook
FuturismCharts DatabaseBook reviewsArt and Peformance ReviewsCartoonsFuture MeetingsEco Friendly Tourism
Recent articles:
Ethical Markets Media works to reform markets and grow the green economy worldwide, focusing on the best practices, the most ethical, best-governed, cleanest, greenest organizations so as to raise global standards. EthicalMarkets.com provides news and perspective on climate prosperity,  reforming global finance, LOHAS and more through reports, articles, newsletters and analysis by our editor-in-chief, Hazel Henderson.  Ethicalmarkets.tv streams original Ethical Markets productions and video gathered from around the world. fowpal-banner.gif

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 23rd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Kurt Bayer’s Commentary – GLOBAL ECONOMIC POLICY

FEBRUARY 23, 2017


TRUMP’S SWAMP


During his campaign, US president Trump had promised to dry out the swamp in Washington, D.C. (Austrians will remember the former President Kirchschläger’s announcement, “die sauren Wiesen Österreichs auszutrocknen”). And then, during the week that the new Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, was confirmed by the Senate, the House of Representatives voted to abolish the „Publish what you pay“ rule, which required listed US gas and oil companies to publish in their annual reports all payments made to foreign governments, be they royalties, fees, bonuses, taxes and any other payments, project by project, country by country.

This rule was part of the Dodd-Frank Act (Section 1504), enacted after long consultation in 2010 as part of the lessons learned from the financial crisis.


It is noteworthy that Mr. Tillerson, former CEO of Exxon-Mobil, had vigorously lobbied against this rule.

Has he now been given a swampy „inaugural dowry“ by his president?

With this provision, the US had become the leading country to attempt to weed out the endemic corruption enabled by the international hydro-carbon firms to the benefit of the decisionmakers in oil and gas-rich countries.

We know that many of the prime ministers and their ministers in oil-rich countries have become exceedingly rich, while their populations starve.

The Financial Times on Feb. 23, 2017 cites the example of Equatorial Guinea (with ExxonMobil the dominant producer), where per-capita income for the country as a whole has risen to
$ 40.000, while three quarters of the population starve on less than 2 $ per day (the „official“ poverty rate).


Similar conditions reign all over the world. While „Publish-as-you-pay“ may not be the silver bullet against corruption, it was an important first step and has been followed by Canada, Norway and the EU (EU Transparency Directive 2013). A number of international oil companies have begun to report, others were to follow.


Of course, by now we know that the Trump administration (with or without Mr. Tillerson) is partial to the oil, gas and coal industry. His decisions on reversing the existing bans on the Keystone pipeline, on the Dakota access line, on coal mining is only topped by his appointment (and the Senate‘s confirmation) of Mr. Pruitt, the former Oklohoma attorney general, who has 12 lawsuits against his new agency under his belt, and who during his hearing did not agree that hydro-carbons and coal cause climate change.

So, in his first 100 days, President Trump has struck significant blows against world-wide corruption in one of the worst offending sectors, and against the environment, whose protection he (and Congress) have entrusted to a fox in the henhouse.

ExxonMobil will be grateful, as will be a number of dictators and autocrats in many of the oil and gas producing countries.

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 23rd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2017 SHEVAT 27, 5777 6:24 PM IST THE TIMES OF ISRAEL.
ABOUT US ADVERTISE WITH US

INTERVIEW
Defending Trump, ex-envoy to US says nobody blamed Obama for leftist anti-Semitism.

New Jersey-born deputy minister says Jew-hatred is not new in the US; hails PM for being ‘responsible’ in not criticizing US president’s Holocaust statement that didn’t mention Jews BY RAPHAEL AHREN February 23, 2017, 3:18 pm 6

Those who charge US President Donald Trump with fueling right-wing anti-Semitism should recall that no one had accused his predecessor, Barack Obama, of spurring anti-Semitism from the left, Deputy Minister for Public Diplomacy MK Michael Oren said Thursday.


Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to Washington, also defended Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s refusal to speak out about the White House’s statement for International Holocaust Memorial Day, which failed to mention the Jewish people, saying the prime minister was engaging in “responsible” policymaking.

“Too much emphasis is put on what people say, not on what people do. The question is not what’s being said, but what’s being done,” Oren told The Times of Israel. “Yes, there is an uptick in anti-Semitism, but the conversation about it is not going in the right direction.”

In his meetings with bipartisan congressional delegations from the US, Oren said, he is often told that it is less important that hate crimes are condemned and more important that they are stopped. “The question is what is done operatively to combat and prevent them.”

In recent weeks, amid an uptick in anti-Semitic attacks, including dozens of hoax bomb threats to Jewish institutions, various US-Jewish leaders took the new administration to task for ostensibly failing to forcefully denounce rising anti-Semitism there. Trump shouted down an Orthodox Jewish reporter who tried to ask him about the uptick last week, declaring that “I am the least anti-Semitic person.”

On Wednesday, Trump for the first time condemned anti-Semitic hate crimes, such as this week’s desecration of a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis in which 170 gravestones were damaged. Vice President Mike Pence paid a solidarity visit to the vandalized site, and actively aided in the restoration effort.

Netanyahu, speaking at a synagogue in Sydney, praised Trump for taking a “strong stand against anti-Semitism.” At a joint press conference with Trump earlier this month, Netanyahu had proclaimed that there was “no greater supporter of the Jewish people and the Jewish state” than the president.

Oren, who was a noted historian of US-Israeli history before entering diplomacy and politics, did not deny that Jew-hatred was a growing concern in the US but pointed out that it was by no means a new phenomenon.

“Obviously there is problem with anti-Semitism and we have to take it seriously,” said Oren, a member of the centrist Kulanu party. “But there is anti-Semitism on the left, and nobody blamed Obama for that. During my time in Washington [as Israeli ambassador], I never encountered right-wing anti-Semitism, but I experienced a lot of anti-Semitism, mainly on campuses. Ask Jewish students in America if they fear anti-Semitism. They do — not from the right, but from the left.”

Just as Obama should not be blamed for these incidents, Trump cannot be blamed for the current wave of attacks apparently inspired by right-wing ideologies, he argued.

Anti-Semitism is not new to America, the New Jersey native said, citing incidents from his youth. “It is very precedented. Anti-Semitism was a fact of life when I grew up. I encountered it all the time: our windows were broken, I got into fistfights all the time. There were quotas [for Jews] at Ivy League universities.”

The key to confronting today’s anti-Semitism lies in local law enforcement, he said, arguing for greater efforts to trace people calling in bomb threats to Jewish centers and having the FBI put more manpower into fighting the phenomenon.

“When my synagogue was bombed, the FBI showed up the next day,” he recalled. He was referring to an April 1971 attack on the Jewish Center of West Orange, which took place on the night racist American-Israeli rabble-rouser Rabbi Meir Kahane was scheduled to address the Conservative community.


Oren, who served as ambassador to the US between 2009 and 2013, declined to comment on Netanyahu’s previous silence on the rise of anti-Semitism in America and over the Holocaust Day statement. The prime minister initially refused to comment on the fact that the White House omitted any reference to genocide against the Jews in its statement, and he later denounced the US-Jewish community’s protests over the matter as “misplaced.”


While he himself does not agree with the White House explanation for what it called an “inclusive” statement — that other people suffered as well during the Holocaust — Oren said he would not “go out and criticize” the new administration.

Rather, he urged that Trump and his team should be given time before being taking to task over such issues, quipping that it takes a new administration half a year before staffers even know where the bathrooms are in the White House.

“We [Israelis] have crucial issues that affect the security of each and every one of us,” he said, indicating that discussions over Iran, Syria and the Palestinians should take precedence in Jerusalem’s dealings with the new administration.

Netanyahu’s refusal to comment on the controversial Holocaust Day statement “was “responsible and clear-sighted” policy in that it focuses on the bigger picture, Oren said.

Obama, early in his first term, indicated that Israel was created because of the Holocaust, Oren recalled. “This was a problematic narrative, because it basically denies Jewish history. But we didn’t make a big deal about it. It was a new administration and we had important things to discuss.”

It took Obama several years before publicly setting the record straight, when in a speech to the UN he talked about the millennia-old Jewish roots in the Land of Israel, Oren said. “Let’s give Trump that same opportunity [to correct mistakes] and not jump at every little thing he says.”

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 23rd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


TRADE, INVESTMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE UNDER THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: WHAT LIES AHEAD?

Thursday, February 23, 2017, 7 – 8:30 pm
Columbia Law School, Jerome Greene Hall, 435 West 116th Street (at Amsterdam Avenue), Room 107

This event is open to the public. Registration is not required.

Donald Trump came to office promising sweeping changes to the US’s traditional trade and investment policies. Such shifts on trade and investment could offer an opportunity to align these policies with action on climate change. On the other hand, Trump’s priorities, particularly with respect to developing domestic fossil fuels, signal that trade policies will head in the opposite direction. This panel will discuss how trade and investment policy may be reconciled with climate change imperatives and commitments, the trade risks the Trump administration’s climate policies present, and how the United States Trade Representative might approach these issues in new trade and investment (re)negotiations. This event is co-organized with the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and the Environmental Law Society at Columbia Law School.

Moderator: Michael Gerrard, Director, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School

Panelists:

Ben Beachy, Senior Policy Advisor, Responsible Trade Program, Sierra Club

Silvia Maciunas, Senior Research Fellow, Center for International Governance Innovation

Dalindyebo Shabalala, Visiting Assistant Professor, Case Western Reserve University, School of Law, and Director of the Institute on Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property.

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

The Washington Post Evening Edition – February 22, 2017
Energy and Environment

Thousands of emails detail EPA head’s close ties to fossil fuel industry.


In his previous role as Oklahoma’s attorney general, the Environmental Protection Agency’s new administrator regularly huddled with fossil fuel firms and electric utilities about how to combat federal environmental regulations and spoke to conservative political groups about what they called government “overreach,” according to thousands of pages of emails made public Wednesday.


“The newly released emails reveal a close and friendly relationship between Scott Pruitt’s office and the fossil fuel industry, with frequent meetings, calls, dinners and other events,” said Nick Surgey, research director for the Center for Media and Democracy, which has sued to compel the release of the emails.

The emails highlight an often-chummy relationship between Pruitt’s office and Devon Energy, a major oil and gas exploration and production company based in Oklahoma City. The correspondence makes clear that top officials at the company met often with Pruitt or people who worked for him. Devon representatives also helped draft — and redraft — letters for Pruitt to sign and send to federal officials in an effort to stave off new regulations.

“Any suggestions?” a deputy solicitor general in Pruitt’s office wrote to a Devon executive in early May 2013, including a draft of a letter the office was planning to send to the EPA regarding proposed regulations of methane emissions.

“Here you go,” the executive, Bill Whitsitt replied. “Please note that you could use just the red changes, or both red and blue (the latter being some further improvements from one of our experts) or none.”

“I sent the letter today,” the deputy solicitor general wrote the following day. “Thanks for all your help on this.”

The emails show that Pruitt and his office were in touch with a network of conservative groups, many of which in the past have received backing from billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch, the libertarian owners of Koch Industries, a major oil company. The documents detail not only how Pruitt’s office at times coordinated with industry officials to fight unwanted regulations from Washington, but also how he was a highly sought-after speaker at conferences and other gatherings for groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, which works with corporate interests and state legislators to shape key pieces of legislation.

In one example, Pruitt was a speaker at an ALEC conference on May 3, 2013, in Oklahoma City. He was part of a panel called, “Embracing American Energy Opportunities: From Wellheads to Pipelines.” The event also featured a reception at the Petroleum Club and a luncheon sponsored by Koch Industries.

The Oklahoma attorney general’s office handed over the batch of emails — nearly 7,000 pages in all — this week in order to meet a deadline set by a judge who ordered the documents’ release following more than two years of effort by CMD, a liberal watchdog organization. The group had sued to compel the state to release the documents under public records laws. (The emails can be viewed here.)

[Pruitt to EPA employees: ‘We don’t have to choose’ between jobs and the environment]

Though the emails show Pruitt’s ties with a wide range of fossil fuel interests and conservative political groups, they show a particularly friendly working relationship with officials Devon. Much of the correspondence revolves around arranging speaking engagements, obtaining contact information for people at the federal Office of Management and Budget and coordinating letter-writing efforts.

At one point, Pruitt’s then-chief of staff, Melissa Houston, wrote in a Jan. 9, 2013, email to Whitsitt, Devon’s vice president for public affairs: “You are so amazingly helpful!!! Thank you so much!!!”

In another email chain on March 21, 2013, Whitsitt wrote to Pruitt’s office offering a draft of a letter that state attorneys general might sign and send to the then-acting EPA administrator regarding limits on methane emissions. Devon, which has substantial shale gas and shale oil drilling operations, would have been affected by the rule.

“Attached is a potential first-cut draft of a letter a (bipartisan if possible?) group of AGs might send to the acting EPA administrator and some others in the Administration in response to the NE states’ notice of intent to sue for more E&P emission regulation,” Whitsitt wrote. “It would be a shot across the bow, warning EPA not to not go down a negotiated-rulemaking or wink-at-a sue-and-settle tee-up process.”

s chief of staff replied: “Thanks Bill — we will take a look and start working on a draft.”

In a Nov. 8, 2013, email, Houston asked the Devon VP of public and government affairs, Allen Wright, to take her, her sons and her father to see Devon Tower, a skyscraper in downtown Oklahoma City. Wright asked a colleague to escort her and her family to “50” — apparently the top of the 50-story tower.

In another case, Pruitt received a thankful email from Stuart Solomon, the president and chief operating officer of the Public Service Company of Oklahoma, a utility that’s part of the larger power company American Electric Power. The email came as the company hailed a 2014 decision by the EPA to back off of an attempt to impose a federal plan on Oklahoma for its compliance with the agency’s regional haze rule, and instead accept a plan offered by the state. Pruitt had sued the EPA over its federal plan – which, according to a press release from Solomon’s company, “would have cost the utility and its customers about $650 million more in additional near-term investments than the state plan.”

“Scott, I wanted to tell you personally how much I appreciate your efforts to pave the way for a state solution to meeting the RHR challenge,” said Solomon. “Your lawsuit against EPA, and your encouragement of our efforts to settle this issue in a way that benefits the state, were instrumental in giving us the time and the opportunity to develop a revised state plan.”

Pruitt’s close ties to Devon Energy were first highlighted in 2014 by the New York Times, which reported that a letter ostensibly written by the attorney general alleging that the EPA overestimated air pollution from natural gas drilling was actually written by the company’s attorneys. “That’s actually called representative government in my view of the world,” Pruitt later said of the letter.

The emails’ release comes just days after Pruitt was confirmed as the EPA’s new leader. Senate Democrats and environmental groups made a last-minute push to delay his confirmation vote last week, contending that lawmakers — and the public — ought to be able to review his correspondence with industry officials before putting him in charge of safeguarding the nation’s environment. Republicans forged ahead anyway, and Pruitt was confirmed by a 52-to-46 vote.

In a statement Tuesday, the Oklahoma attorney general’s office said it “went above and beyond what is required under the Open Records Act and produced thousands of additional documents that, but for the Court’s order, would typically be considered records” outside the scope of the act. “This broad disclosure should provide affirmation that, despite politically motivated allegations, the Office of the Attorney General remains fully committed to the letter and spirit of the Open Records Act,” spokesman Lincoln Ferguson said.

Pruitt’s office at EPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

[Scott Pruitt, longtime adversary of EPA, confirmed to lead the agency]


In an email, Devon Energy spokesman John Porretto said the company’s engagement with Pruitt during his time as attorney general was “consistent — and proportionate — with our commitment to engage in conversations with policymakers on a broad range of matters that promote jobs, economic growth and a robust domestic energy sector.” He added: “We have a clear obligation to our shareholders and others to be involved in these discussions related to job growth, economic growth and domestic energy…. It would be indefensible for us to not be engaged in these important issues.”

Environmental groups on Wednesday were quick to criticize Pruitt, arguing that the emails showed once again his penchant for putting the interests of industry over the health of ordinary citizens.

“This is Scott Pruitt’s mission statement: attack environmental safeguards, protect industrial polluters and let the public pay the price,” Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement. “These emails tell us that he’s in league with the very industries we’ve now entrusted him to police. He so deeply imbedded himself with energy companies that they described Pruitt and his allies as ‘fossil energy AGs,’ a badge of dishonor for a public guardian if ever there were one.”

The Oklahoma attorney general’s office withheld some documents as exempted or privileged and has asked Judge Aletia Haynes Timmons to review whether they should be released, according to the Center for Media and Democracy. Timmons also ordered Pruitt’s former office to hand over records related to five outstanding records requests by early next week.

After unsuccessfully seeking the release of Pruitt’s correspondence with fossil-fuel representatives under public records laws, the center filed suit over his refusal to turn over the documents and requested the expedited hearing that led to Timmons’s order on Thursday. In her ruling, the judge said there had been “an abject failure to provide prompt and reasonable access to documents requested.”

Pruitt sued the EPA more than a dozen times during the Obama administration, challenging the agency’s authority to regulate toxic mercury pollution, smog, carbon emissions from power plants and the quality of wetlands and other waters. During his tenure in Oklahoma, he dismantled a specialized environmental protection unit that had existed under his Democratic predecessor and established a “federalism unit” to combat what he called “unwarranted regulation and systematic overreach” by Washington.

These moves earned him widespread opposition from environmental activists but praise from fellow Republicans and industry representatives, who saw him as a friend to businesses and a staunch opponent of federal regulations they called unnecessary and burdensome.

On Tuesday, Pruitt addressed EPA employees for the first time as their new boss. He spoke of stepping back from the aggressive regulations of recent years and said there need not be a contradiction between environmental protection and energy production or job creation.

“We as an agency and we as a nation can be both pro-energy and jobs and pro-environment,” he said. “We don’t have to choose between the two.”

Chris Mooney and Juliet Eilperin contributed to this report. This post has been updated.

———————————————-

Further articles with relevance:

Hundreds of current, former EPA employees urge Senate to reject Trump’s nominee for the agency

The West’s largest coal-fired power plant is closing. Not even Trump can save it.

Trump EPA official juggles two jobs in two Washingtons, and it hasn’t gone well

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 22nd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


The Supreme Court ruled 5:2 in favor of a death row inmate in Texas whose own lawyers introduced evidence at trial that he was more likely to be dangerous in the future because he is black.Thomas and Alioto dissented.

Washington (CNN) The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday in favor of a death row inmate in Texas whose own lawyers introduced evidence at trial that he was more likely to be dangerous in the future because he is black.

The court ruled that the inmate, Duane Buck, will now be able to go back into a lower court and argue that he should have a new sentencing hearing.

In a 6-2 ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion holding that Buck has “demonstrated both ineffective assistance of counsel” and has an “entitlement to relief.”
Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented.

“But our holding on prejudice makes clear that Buck may have been sentenced to death in part because of his race. As an initial matter, this is a disturbing departure from a basic premise of our criminal justice system: Our law punishes people for what they do, not who they are,” Roberts wrote.

At another point the Chief wrote: “When a jury hears expert testimony that expressly makes a defendant’s race directly pertinent on the question of life or death, the impact of that evidence cannot be measured simply by how much air time it received at trial or how many pages it occupies in the record. Some toxins can be deadly in small doses.”

Roberts sent the case back down to the lower court for further proceedings.

The case comes at a time of racial unrest in the criminal justice system.

It also comes as two justices, Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, have argued the court should take another look at the constitutionality of the death penalty. They questioned, in part, whether the penalty was being applied arbitrarily throughout the country.

At oral arguments, several justices had expressed concern about the testimony introduced in the case.

“What occurred at the penalty phase of this trial is indefensible,” said Justice Samuel Alito, who called the testimony “bizarre.”

“What competent counsel would put that evidence before a jury?” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked.

Justice Stephen Breyer questioned whether there was “some good reason” Buck shouldn’t be able to reopen his case.

Buck has been on death row for the 1995 murders of Debra Gardner and Kenneth Butler. He did not argue his innocence, but asked for a new sentencing hearing because his own trial counsel was ineffective.

His lawyers argued that “no constitutional rule is more important than the dictate that race must play no role in a criminal sentence, much less a capital sentence.”

The legal issue before the court was whether Buck’s case meets the “extraordinary circumstances” test justifying the reopening of his sentencing.

At the heart of the matter was the testimony provided by Dr. Walter Quijano, one of two psychologists retained by the defense. Quijano testified that the fact that Buck was black “increased the probability” that he would commit future acts of criminal violence. In Texas, so-called “future dangerousness” must be established before a death sentence is rendered.
“Put another way,” Buck’s current lawyers argued in court papers, “Mr. Buck’s lawyers presented evidence that Mr. Buck was more deserving of a death sentence under Texas law because of his race.”

They said such prejudicial evidence is the “epitome of ineffective assistance of counsel.”
The state itself eventually conceded error in six other cases where Quijano’s testimony had been elicited, they pointed out.

Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller drew a distinction in court between Buck’s case and the others because it was the defense itself who called Quijano and elicited race-related testimony on direct examination.

In the opinion, Roberts emphasized the unusual circumstances of Buck’s case suggesting that it might not impact other death row inmates.

In court, Keller addressed the circumstances surrounding Buck’s crime, including the fact that he murdered his ex-girlfriend, Gardner, in front of her children.

Keller pointed to the fact that he also shot his stepsister at point-blank range and shot another man through the heart.

But he was cut off, as the justices circled back to the race-based testimony.

Keller also argued that Quijano’s testimony played a limited role at trial, and that other evidence of his future dangerousness came from the brutality of the murders, Buck’s lack of remorse after he was apprehended as well as the testimony of another ex-girlfriend.

A group called the National Black Law Students Association, however, filed a brief in support of Buck emphasizing how the group believes the case impacts race relations today.
“When an expert witness told the jury that Mr. Buck was dangerous because he is black, he dredged up into the open for all members of the jury to see the monstrous specter that is never far from the surface: the violent black brute, the single most fearful, dehumanizing and cruel stereotype black people have had to endure,” wrote the group’s lawyer, Deborah N. Archer.

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 22nd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Israel & the Region – THE TIMES OF ISRAEL.

Netanyahu chills right-wing ‘excitement’ over Trump meeting Prime minister tells cabinet Israel needs a ‘responsible policy’ to protect its interests under new US administration.

BY RAOUL WOOTLIFF, February 12, 2017.
Wootliff is The Times of Israel Knesset correspondent.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU DONALD TRUMP US-ISRAEL RELATIONS RELATED STORIES

Will Tzipi Livni be the first Israeli deputy chief of the UN?

Yahya Sinwar can ignite Israel’s south — and may want to Rivlin said to warn outpost law redolent of ‘apartheid’ Netanyahu under pressure to turn right when he meets Trump

Claim police shot first during Bedouin demolition op.

Ex-Peruvian president said to flee to Israel

Arab Israeli leader accuses Trump, Netanyahu of ‘race-baiting’

Over 33,000 Israelis have taken German citizenship since 2000

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed back Sunday at ministers pressuring him to use his first meeting with US President Donald Trump to disavow his support for Palestinian statehood, telling the weekly cabinet meeting that only “responsible policy-making” would protect Israel’s interests.

“This is an extremely important meeting for the security of Israel, both for our increasingly strong international standing and for our wide international interests,” the prime minister said of his scheduled Wednesday’s sit-down with Trump at the White House.


Writing on Facebook Saturday night, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who chairs the Jewish Home party, said the meeting with Trump would be “the test of Netanyahu’s life” and would determine Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians for years to come.

Bennett said that if the two men mention “an obligation to establish Palestine or ‘two states’ in some or other iteration, it will impact us directly for years to come. It will be an earthquake.”


Implying that Bennett’s demands were politically motivated, Netanyahu told ministers that Israel’s security needs would take precedence over any other consideration in his discussions with the new president.


“I understand that there is great excitement in advance of this meeting, driven by various motivations. But I only have one motivation: My utmost consideration is to ensure Israel’s security and strengthen our relationship with the United States as well as the joint interests that stand behind it,” Netanyahu said.

Adding that he has always conducted relations with the US in a “rational manner,” the prime minister said that just as with previous administrations, dealing with Trump requires a “responsible and level-headed” approach.

Netanyahu had warned ministers to refrain from airing their opinions before Trump tells him, behind closed doors, of his own positions. Such comments by Israeli politicians ahead of Wednesday’s meeting “risk sabotaging” the talks, an official in the Prime Minister’s Office said Saturday night.

Nevertheless, on Sunday morning, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, from Bennett’s Jewish Home party, told reporters that the Republicans’ own stance meant Netanyahu didn’t need to compromise on the Palestinian issue when meeting Trump.


“The Republicans took Palestinian statehood off their platform, there’s no reason that a right-wing Israeli government should outflank it from the left,” she said.


Speaking to Likud ministers directly before the cabinet meeting, Netanyahu reportedly said that it would be unwise to underestimate Trump. “To think that there are no limits with Trump is a mistake,” he said, according to the Ynet news site.


“After eight years of complicated maneuvering in the Obama era, we need to continue to act judiciously during the Trump era,” Haaretz quoted him as saying.

In an interview published Friday and Sunday in the Israel Hayom newspaper, Trump may have surprised some right-wing ministers by saying that Israeli settlements in the West Bank “don’t help the process” of reaching peace.

“Every time you take land for settlements, there is less land left,” he said. “But we are looking at that, and we are looking at some other options we’ll see. But no, I am not somebody that believes that going forward with these settlements is a good thing for peace.”

It wasn’t the first time Trump’s administration expressed reservations over Israel’s settlement construction, but it was the president’s first comment on the issue, and his remarks were more critical than those of his spokesman. Earlier last week the White House issued a mild rebuke over Israel’s spate of approvals for new settlement homes, warning that expansion in areas Palestinians want for their own state “may not be helpful” to peace efforts.

“While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful,” press secretary Sean Spicer said on February 3.

——————

Raphael Ahren and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

——————

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 22nd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

For registration to the event – please go to:

 www.eventbrite.com/e/ethics-in-a…

——————–

If the weather last month seemed a little out of season, there was a reason. According to NASA, January 2017 was the third-warmest January on record, 0.92 degrees Celsius warmer than the average temperature in the month from 1951-1980.

Dr. James Hansen was one of the first scientists to raise awareness of the global threat posed by climate change. His 1988 Congressional testimony helped put global warming in the public consciousness and he has been a leading voice on the subject ever since.

On March 2 at 6:30 PM, you’ll have the chance to learn from Dr. Hansen as he joins Professor Jeffrey Sachs for a one-hour discussion at the New York Society for Ethical Culture.

At the event, Professor Sachs and Dr. Hansen will discuss the reality and ethical dimension of climate change, including what New York City can do to align with the Paris Agreement and decarbonize its energy system.

You’ll also have the unique opportunity to ask a question of Dr. Hansen. Just submit yours during the registration process!

About Dr. James Hansen
—————————-
Dr. James Hansen, formerly Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, is an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, where he directs a program in Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions. Dr. Hansen is best known for his testimony on climate change in the 1980s that helped raise awareness of global warming. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and has received numerous awards including the Sophie and Blue Planet Prizes. Dr. Hansen is recognized for speaking truth to power and for outlining actions needed to protect the future of young people and all species on the planet.

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 20th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Pence met with open skepticism in Brussels

By Kevin Liptak, CNN White House Producer

February 20, 2017

Mike Pence made a joint statement with European Council head Donald Tusk on Monday 2/20/17.

Story highlights

Tusk: “Too much has happened … to pretend everything is as it used to be”

Pence: US will “search in new ways for new common ground with Russia”

Brussels (CNN)Even as he worked to assure European leaders that the Trump administration isn’t looking to scrap longstanding transatlantic ties, Vice President Mike Pence was met with outward skepticism from the bloc’s top leaders on Monday.

Speaking after talks with European Council President Donald Tusk, Pence offered a conciliatory tone, insisting that bonds between the United States and Europe would endure.

Pence: US will hold Russia accountable

But Tusk himself was more blunt. Even while expressing an optimistic outlook, he acknowledged the bilateral ties had entered new, uncertain territory.

“Thank you for this meeting. We all truly needed it,” Tusk said after he walked on stage with Pence. “Too much has happened over the past months in your country, and in the EU; too many new and sometimes surprising opinions have been voiced over this time about our relations — and our common security — for us to pretend that everything is as it used to be.”

It was a pointed display of honesty for a formal joint statement in front of reporters. Tusk said he’d secured commitments from Pence on key areas — international order, security, and the US stance toward the EU — but was cautious in declaring the relationship on firm ground.
“In reply to these three matters, I heard today from Vice President Pence three times ‘yes,'” Tusk said. “After such a positive declaration, both Europeans and Americans must simply practice what they preach.”


Pence was more guarded in his remarks, repeating his commitment to NATO and vowing to counter Russian aggression. But, as he did earlier this week, Pence advised that Trump was looking for ways to refresh ties to Moscow.

“While the United States will continue to hold Russia accountable, at President Trump’s direction we will also search in new ways for new common ground with Russia, which President Trump believes can be found,” Pence said.

Pence is aiming to reassure European leaders of continued US commitment to the continent after Trump disparaged longstanding aspects of transatlantic ties during the presidential campaign.

He told Federica Mogherini, the European Union High Representative, that he was eager to identify areas for greater cooperation.

“I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to visit with you and explore ways that we can deepen our relationship with the European Union,” he said over breakfast at the residence of the US Ambassador to the EU, a post that’s currently unfilled.
Pence reassures NATO allies in Munich speech

Trump’s rumored choice for the job, Ted Malloch, has caused unease among the diplomatic classes in Brussels for his vocal support of Britain’s exit from the EU and his overall dismissal of the bloc. Malloch told the BBC recently he would work to rein in the EU if he was named to the ambassador post.

“I had in a previous career a diplomatic post where I helped bring down the Soviet Union. So maybe there’s another union that needs a little taming,” he said.

It’s sentiments like that which have worried Europeans, who regard Trump as an advocate for Brexit-like splits within their union. Trump, at one point during his run for president, termed himself “Mr. Brexit” — referencing both his support for the referendum and his conviction that polls showing him losing to Hillary Clinton would be proven wrong.

Vice President Pence visits former Nazi concentration camp

Pence, during closely watched remarks in Germany on Saturday, didn’t mention the EU at all, a fact that didn’t go unnoticed by the collection of national security professionals, foreign leaders, and diplomats who were attending the Munich Security Conference.
Instead, Pence chose during his remarks to project robust US support for NATO, despite Trump’s claims that the defense alliance is “obsolete.”

Pence was insistent that support for the alliance was a bedrock of US policy. But he demanded that other member nations scale up their defense spending to meet NATO’s requirements, a longstanding request of US presidents that Trump has amplified.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 20th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Pence seeks to reassure European allies unnerved by Trump

He tried to reinforce the U.S. commitment to the security of Europe and the historic transatlantic partnership. But though Pence stressed that he was speaking on behalf of the president, it was clear to al that Trump offered very different views an ocean away – the real Trump speaking to his burly followers at Melbourne, Florida.

The Washington Post asks about Pence: “Shadow president or mere shadow?”

The Swedes asked what did Trump smoke? He plainly invented a set of “Pseudo-facts” about Sweden, well beyond his proven fall by “Alternate-Facts” – does Trump hallucinate or is he making up lies. Fox News never said what he contends to have picked up there. This is clearly psychopathic behavior – unsustainable and the talk all over is that while celebrating his first month in power, he has collected enough bad points to see his presidency end before his first year in office at the seat of power.

Trump called NATO “obsolete” and rose to electoral victory on the promise of a more isolationist “America First” set of populist policies. Pence stressed repeatedly that the USA continues to be committed to NATO even though it would like to see higher military expenditures by the Europeans.

In Vienna it is not accepted that Trump represents populism, they rather think he dreams up a new form of dictatorship – very different from Italian fascism and somewhat different from Nazism. He just does not accept any form of Socialism.

Pence’s inner-circle credibility took a dive last week when news emerged that former national security Michael Flynn had misled the vice president about conversations he had had with the Russian ambassador to the United States — claims the vice president repeated on the Sunday shows. Although Trump ultimately demanded Flynn’s resignation, Pence was in the dark for two full weeks and only learned he had been lied to from news reports.

An Israeli Former Mossad head said that Flynn was the fall guy to save Trump. The obvious question is if Trump will yet throw up Pence as well?

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 18th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Antarctic Sea Ice Shrinks to Smallest Ever Extent.

By Reuters
17 February 17


Data contradicts climate change skeptics, who have pointed to earlier increases in areas of sea ice to support their views.

Ice around Antarctica has shrunk to the smallest annual extent on record after years of resisting a trend of manmade global warming, preliminary US satellite data has shown.

Ice floating around the frozen continent usually melts to its smallest for the year towards the end of February, the southern hemisphere summer, before expanding again as the autumn chill sets in.


This year, sea ice extent contracted to 883,015 sq miles (2.28m sq km) on 13 February, according to daily data from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).


That extent is a fraction smaller than a previous low of 884,173 sq miles recorded on 27 February 1997 in satellite records dating back to 1979. Mark Serreze, director of the NSIDC, said he would wait for a few days’ more measurements to confirm the record low.

“But, unless something funny happens, we’re looking at a record minimum in Antarctica,” he told Reuters. “Some people say it’s already happened. We tend to be conservative by looking at five-day running averages.”

In many recent years, the average extent of sea ice around Antarctica has tended to expand despite the overall trend of global warming, blamed on a build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, mainly from burning fossil fuels.

People sceptical of mainstream findings by climate scientists have often pointed to Antarctic sea ice as evidence against global warming.

Some climate scientists have linked the paradoxical expansion to shifts in winds and ocean currents.

“We’ve always thought of the Antarctic as the sleeping elephant starting to stir,” Serreze said. “Well, maybe it’s starting to stir now.”

World average temperatures climbed to a record high in 2016 for the third year in a row. Climate scientists say warming is causing more extreme days of heat, downpours and is nudging up global sea levels.

At the other end of the planet, ice covering the Arctic Ocean has been at repeated lows in recent years.

In the northern winter, sea ice expands and is at its smallest extent for mid-February, at 5.38m sq miles.

A Comment:

+1 # mashiguo 2017-02-17 15:21
it’s already too late.
the sleep walkers can take a load off and go back to watching ‘dancing with the stars’

those who are awake can buy up some soon-to-be-beach front-property in Kansas.

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 16th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Damning Reports Emerge of Trump Campaign’s Frequent Talks With Russian Intelligence

By Julian Borger, Guardian UK
15 February 17


Campaign aides said to have been in regular contact, despite repeated insistence there had been no pre-election talks between Trump team and Russia.

he Russian influence scandal engulfing the White House deepened dramatically on Tuesday night with reports that some of Donald Trump’s campaign aides had frequent contact with Russian intelligence officials over the course of last year.

A report in the New York Times came nearly 24 hours after the national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was forced to resign over conversations with the Russian ambassador to Washington and misleading statements about them to the press and the vice-president, Mike Pence.

The New York Times report cites four current and former US intelligence officials who are unnamed and who conceded they had “so far” seen no evidence in the intercepted phone communications that Trump campaign officials had cooperated with Russian intelligence in Moscow’s efforts to skew the election in Trump’s favour. The officials do not explain what, in that case, the contacts were about.

A CNN report said “high-level advisers close to then-presidential nominee Donald Trump were in constant communication during the campaign with Russians known to US intelligence”.

Despite the uncertainties, the reports are threatening to the Trump administration on a number of levels.

They flatly contradict the White House spokesman, Sean Spicer, who on Tuesday repeated his earlier assertions that there had been no pre-election contacts between the Trump team and Russian officials. Last month, Trump himself also denied any such contacts.

They pile further pressure on the Republican congressional leadership to launch committee hearings on Russian election interference that were promised, but have so far failed to materialise.

They are a further sign that intelligence officials are willing to leak extensively against the Trump administration, making it extremely risky for the White House to try to shut down investigations into collusion with Moscow that are reportedly being carried out by several intelligence agencies.

They add circumstantial weight to the reports on the Trump campaign’s Kremlin links compiled last year and passed to the FBI by a former MI6 officer, Christopher Steele. His reports alleged active, sustained and covert collusion to subvert the election which, if confirmed, could constitute treason.

Trump fired off an angry series of tweets on Wednesday morning, claiming: “This Russian connection non-sense is merely an attempt to cover-up the many mistakes made in Hillary Clinton’s losing campaign.”

He attacked the intelligence community for what he saw as “unAmerican” leaks to newspapers that have written anonymously sourced stories about his and his advisers’ alleged links to Russia in recent days. “Information is being illegally given to the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost by the intelligence community (NSA and FBI?),” he wrote. “Just like Russia.” That was the “real scandal”, he said.

Trump also complained that the “fake news media is going crazy with their conspiracy theories and blind hatred”, echoing the language of the Kremlin reaction to the latest reports.

The only Trump associate named in the New York Times report as having participated in the contacts was Paul Manafort, who was the Trump campaign manager for several months last summer. He had previously worked as an adviser to the former Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, who was backed by Moscow, and pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarchs.

Manafort has repeatedly denied any contacts with Russian officials. He told the New York Times on Tuesday: “I have never knowingly spoken to Russian intelligence officers, and I have never been involved with anything to do with the Russian government or the Putin administration or any other issues under investigation today.”

“It’s not like these people wear badges that say, ‘I’m a Russian intelligence officer,’” he added.

Manafort did not immediately respond to a Guardian request for comment.

Manafort left the Trump campaign in August, after allegations about his activities in Ukraine first surfaced. At about the same time the campaign also distanced itself from a US businessman, Carter Page, whom Trump had previously described as an adviser, after Page was reported to have had contacts with Vladimir Putin’s top lieutenants. Page called the reports “complete garbage”.

The new reports of the Trump campaign’s contacts with Moscow rekindled bitterness among former campaign aides to Hillary Clinton, over a pre-election announcement by the FBI director, James Comey, that new material was being studied in an investigation of her use of a private internet server for her emails.

That investigation came to nothing, but Clinton officials were convinced the bad publicity, just 11 days before the election, cost her crucial votes. By contrast, they point out, the Republican Comey said nothing about investigations under way at the same time into Trump’s Russian links.

“I’d like the FBI to explain why they sent a letter about Clinton but not this,” Clinton’s former campaign manager, Robby Mook, said in a tweet on Tuesday night.

Her former spokesman, Brian Fallon, tweeted: “Everything we suspected during the campaign is proving true. This is a colossal scandal.”

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

A SUBJECT HAT IS CONTINUING TO PESTER WASHINGTON:

On the Road to Another Watergate?
By TIM WEINER – The New York Times February 17, 2017
Michael Flynn has resigned. Now expect the investigations to begin.

White House Plans to Have Trump Ally Review Intelligence Agencies
By JAMES RISEN and MATTHEW ROSENBERG – The NYT February 17, 2017
The review is being pushed by President Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon and his son-on-law, Jared Kushner, and would be led by Stephen A. Feinberg, a billionaire private equity executive

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 14th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Media Matters for America

The Breitbart Spicer Trainwreck

Taking a break from repeatedly lying from behind the White House lecturn, press secretary Sean Spicer granted an exclusive interview to white nationalist outlet Breitbart, which was formerly run by Trump’s chief strategist Stephen Bannon and now is at the center of the so-called “alt-right.” The interview was a complete trainwreck, prompting widespread mockery of both Breitbart and Spicer.

Sean Spicer Grants “Exclusive Interview” To Breitbart.com

White House press secretary Sean Spicer will participate in an “exclusive interview” with “alt-right” website Breitbart.com — a development that underscores the growing relationship between the Trump administration and the notoriously inflammatory outlet.

Breitbart announced the interview in a February 8 post, touting an “exclusive interview” with Spicer to be streamed on Facebook at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on February 9. Breitbart White House correspondent Charlie Spiering will conduct the interview. The post encouraged Breitbart readers to suggest questions for Spicer in the website’s infamous comments section, which has been called “a sewer of mindless hatred and racism.”

Ties between the White House and Breitbart.com run deep. The website was formerly run by chief White House strategist Steve Bannon, who previously termed Breitbart “the platform for the alt-right.” Other current Trump administration employees who used to write for Breitbart include deputy assistant to the president Sebastian Gorka and Bannon assistant Julia Hahn.

During Trump’s first press conference as president-elect, the only reporter given a reserved seat was Breitbart reporter Matthew Boyle, and Trump called on him in short order to ask a sycophantic question about what “reforms” the new president would recommend for the media industry.

Trump and his allies have engaged in an unprecedented war on the press, dating back to his campaign. A day after being sworn in as president, Trump referenced his “running war” with mainstream media. Bannon later called mainstream press “the opposition party” and suggested that “the media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for awhile.” Meanwhile, the White House has repeatedly elevated pro-Trump propaganda outlets like Breitbart. Laura Ingraham’s LifeZette, a website that frequently publishes false reports, received the first question at a recent White House press briefing. The Gateway Pundit, a notoriously sloppy conservative blog, and conspiracy theory outlet Infowars have both claimed they will soon be credentialed by the White House.

In contrast to the widespread derision Spicer has drawn because of his tendency to lie from the press briefing room lectern, Breitbart’s coverage of Spicer’s briefings has been fawning, amplifying perceived victories over the press. Here’s a sampling of recent Breitbart Spicer headlines, all of which ran atop articles written by Spiering:

Four items on that list – please see –  mediamatters.org/blog/2017/02/09…

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 14th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


RED HOUSE? Yes. It was the intelligence Putin served Trump – directly and indirectly – that was in big part responsible for his defeating Hillary Clinton. And yes, it was FBI’s help that eventually built that wall. Michael T. Flynn should never have been inside that wall except we really do not know what messages he passed from the Trump campaign as promises to Putin via his Ambassador in Washington. How will the Trump=Putin link impact on Europe? On European States – Trump relations? On the future of Ukraine? On the price of Oil? On the Midle East?
On the Planetary Globe? On Outer Space? On the Future of God? ?????


THE NEWS: Michael T. Flynn, the national security adviser, resigned on Monday night after it was revealed that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other top White House officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States.


On Monday, a former administration official said the Justice Department warned the White House last month that Mr. Flynn had not been fully forthright about his conversations with the ambassador. As a result, the Justice Department feared that Mr. Flynn could be vulnerable to blackmail by Moscow.


To us at SustainabiliTank this is just the tip of the iceberg – we already wrote that Trump himself is susceptible to Russian blackmail as by hacking into US cyberspace they did not have just the pittance of Hillary Clinton and John Podesta info, but the much juicier Trump business and taxation info. Those are real bombs in hiding! Blackmail in the making!


“I am tendering my resignation, honored to have served our nation and the American people in such a distinguished way,” Mr. Flynn wrote.

The White House said in the statement that it was replacing Mr. Flynn with retired Lt. Gen. Joseph K. Kellogg Jr. of the Army, a Vietnam War veteran, as acting national security adviser.

Mr. Flynn was an early and ardent supporter of Mr. Trump’s candidacy, and in his resignation he sought to praise the president. “In just three weeks,” Mr. Flynn said, the new president “has reoriented American foreign policy in fundamental ways to restore America’s leadership position in the world.”

But in doing so, he inadvertently illustrated the brevity of his tumultuous run at the National Security Council, and the chaos that has gripped the White House in the first weeks of the Trump administration — and created a sense of uncertainty around the world.

DOCUMENT
Michael Flynn’s Resignation Letter
Michael T. Flynn, under scrutiny for his communication with Russia, resigned as President Trump’s national security adviser late Monday.

OPEN DOCUMENT
Earlier Monday, Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, told reporters that “the president is evaluating the situation” about Mr. Flynn’s future. By Monday evening, Mr. Flynn’s fortunes were rapidly shifting — his resignation came roughly seven hours after Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to the president, said on MSNBC that Mr. Trump had “full confidence” in the retired general.

And when he did step down, it happened so quickly that his resignation does not appear to have been communicated to National Security Council staff members, two of whom said they learned about it from news reports.

Officials said Mr. Pence had told others in the White House that he believed Mr. Flynn lied to him by saying he had not discussed the topic of sanctions on a call with the Russian ambassador in late December. Even the mere discussion of policy — and the apparent attempt to assuage the concerns of an American adversary before Mr. Trump took office — represented a remarkable breach of protocol.

The F.B.I. had been examining Mr. Flynn’s phone calls as he came under growing questions about his interactions with Russian officials and his management of the National Security Council. The blackmail risk envisioned by the Justice Department would have stemmed directly from Mr. Flynn’s attempt to cover his tracks with his bosses. The Russians knew what had been said on the call; thus, if they wanted Mr. Flynn to do something, they could have threatened to expose the lie if he refused.

The Justice Department’s warning to the White House was first reported on Monday night by The Washington Post.

In addition, the Army has been investigating whether Mr. Flynn received money from the Russian government during a trip he took to Moscow in 2015, according to two defense officials. Such a payment might violate the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits former military officers from receiving money from a foreign government without consent from Congress. The defense officials said there was no record that Mr. Flynn, a retired three-star Army general, filed the required paperwork for the trip.

Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement late Monday that Mr. Flynn’s resignation would not close the question of his contact with Russian officials.

“General Flynn’s decision to step down as national security adviser was all but ordained the day he misled the country about his secret talks with the Russian ambassador,” said Mr. Schiff, noting that the matter is still under investigation by the House committee.

Two other Democratic lawmakers — Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan and Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland — called for an immediate briefing by the Justice Department and the F.B.I. over the “alarming new disclosures” that Mr. Flynn was a blackmail risk. “We need to know who else within the White House is a current and ongoing risk to our national security,” they said in a statement.

Representative Devin Nunes, Republican of California and the chairman of the House intelligence committee, was supportive of Mr. Flynn until the end. “Washington, D.C., can be a rough town for honorable people, and Flynn — who has always been a soldier, not a politician — deserves America’s gratitude and respect,” Mr. Nunes said in a statement.


The White House had examined a transcript of a wiretapped conversation that Mr. Flynn had with Mr. Kislyak in December, according to administration officials. Mr. Flynn originally told Mr. Pence and others that the call was limited to small talk and holiday pleasantries.

But who was Flynn to talk to the Russian Ambassador? What role did have within the Trump machine? Did Pence send him there or was it his own eagerness to please the incoming Administration before it actually became an Administration? Was he an old time Russian contact? What we used to call a double spy? This clearly can not be washed down by eager-to-please Republicans.

But the conversation, according to officials who saw the transcript of the wiretap, also included a discussion about sanctions imposed on Russia after intelligence agencies determined that President Vladimir V. Putin’s government tried to interfere with the 2016 election on Mr. Trump’s behalf. Still, current and former administration officials familiar with the call said the transcript was ambiguous enough that Mr. Trump could have justified either firing or retaining Mr. Flynn.

Mr. Trump, however, had become increasingly concerned about the continued fallout over Mr. Flynn’s behavior, according to people familiar with his thinking, and told aides that the media storm around Mr. Flynn would damage the president’s image on national security issues.

Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, asked for Mr. Flynn’s resignation — a move that he has been pushing for since Friday, when it became clear that the national security adviser had misled Mr. Pence.

Around 8:20 p.m. Monday, a sullen Mr. Flynn was seen in the Oval Office, just as preparations were being made for the swearing-in of newly confirmed Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. Soon after, Mr. Flynn’s resignation letter started making the rounds.

Administration officials said it was unlikely that Mr. Kellogg would be asked to stay on as Mr. Flynn’s permanent replacement. Mr. Flynn brought Mr. Kellogg into the Trump campaign, according to a former campaign adviser, and the two have remained close. K. T. McFarland, the deputy national security adviser who also was brought on by Mr. Flynn, is expected to leave that role, a senior official said.

One person close to the administration, who was not authorized to discuss the personnel moves and spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that retired Vice Admiral Robert S. Harward is the leading candidate to replace Mr. Flynn, although Mr. Kellogg and David H. Petraeus are being discussed. It was not clear whether Mr. Petraeus is still expected to appear at the White House this week, as initially discussed by advisers to the president.

Mr. Flynn’s concealment of the call’s content, combined with questions about his management of his agency and reports of a demoralized staff, put him in a precarious position less than a month into Mr. Trump’s presidency.


We at SustainabiliTank believe that under the circumstances – the choice of General Petraeus would be an excellent idea in the manner of Trump – this because it would take away the media attention from Trump and transfer it to Petraeus’ own problems with that woman. Flynn will then be forgotten and left to his past-driven future behaviour.

Vice President Pence can continue his clean right wing persona to allow him a smooth take-over when the Trump balloon eventually implodes.

Few members of Mr. Trump’s team were more skeptical of Mr. Flynn than the vice president, numerous administration officials said. Mr. Pence, who used the false information provided by Mr. Flynn to defend him in a series of television appearances, was incensed at Mr. Flynn’s lack of contrition for repeatedly embarrassing him by withholding the information, according to three administration officials familiar with the situation.

Mr. Flynn and Mr. Pence spoke twice in the past few days about the matter, but administration officials said that rather than fully apologize and accept responsibility, the national security adviser blamed his faulty memory — which irked the typically slow-to-anger Mr. Pence.

The slight was compounded by an episode late last year when Mr. Pence went on television to deny that Mr. Flynn’s son, who had posted conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton on social media, had been given a security clearance by the transition team. The younger Mr. Flynn had, indeed, been given such a clearance, even though his father had told Mr. Pence’s team that he had not.

Officials said classified information did not appear to have been discussed during the conversation between Mr. Flynn and the ambassador, which would have been a crime. The call was captured on a routine wiretap of diplomats’ calls, the officials said.

But current Trump administration officials and former Obama administration officials said that Mr. Flynn did appear to be reassuring the ambassador that Mr. Trump would adopt a more accommodating tone on Russia once in office.

Former and current administration officials said that Mr. Flynn urged Russia not to retaliate against any sanctions because an overreaction would make any future cooperation more complicated. He never explicitly promised sanctions relief, one former official said, but he appeared to leave the impression that it would be possible.

During his 2015 trip to Moscow, Mr. Flynn was paid to attend the anniversary celebration of Russia Today, a television network controlled by the Kremlin. At the banquet, he sat next to Mr. Putin.

Mr. Flynn had notified the Defense Intelligence Agency, which he once led, that he was taking the trip. He received a security briefing from agency officials before he left, which is customary for former top agency officials when they travel overseas.

Still, some senior agency officials were surprised when footage of the banquet appeared on RT, and believed that Mr. Flynn should have been more forthcoming with the agency about the nature of his trip to Russia.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 11th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


EPA Halves Staff Attending Environmental Conference In Alaska.

February 10, 20178:07 AM ET on NPR
RACHEL WALDHOLZ
BILL CHAPPELL

 www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2…

Days before this week’s Alaska Forum on the Environment, the EPA said it was sending half of the people who had planned to attend. The nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, President Trump’s pick to head the EPA, is still pending confirmation.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s presence at an environmental conference in Alaska this week was cut in half, after the Trump administration’s transition officials ordered the change. The agency had helped to plan the Alaska Forum on the Environment — but days before it was to start, word came that half of the EPA’s 34 planned attendees wouldn’t be making the trip.

“We were informed that EPA was directed by the White House transition team to minimize their participation in the Alaska Forum on the Environment to the extent possible,” forum director Kurt Eilo says.

The change has created awkward scenes at the conference, particularly at events meant to highlight the EPA’s role in Alaska, a state known for both its pristine ecosystems and its oil production.

More than a thousand people attend the multiday event in downtown Anchorage each year, and the EPA is normally a major partner. This year, agency officials were scheduled to take part in about 30 sessions on everything from drinking water and sanitation in rural Alaska to climate change adaptation.

In an emailed statement, EPA transition official Doug Ericksen says the decision to cut back is an effort to limit excessive travel costs. He says a review last week found that EPA spent $44 million sending employees to 25 outside conferences in 2016. When officials learned that 34 employees were slated to attend the Alaska event, they slashed the number to 17.

“This is one small example of how EPA will be working cooperatively with our staff and our outside partners to be better stewards of the American people’s money,” Ericksen said.

Some EPA staff whose plans to attend the conference were revoked would have come from Seattle or Washington, D.C. — but Eilo said others are based just blocks away from the downtown Anchorage site.

Eilo himself was an EPA enforcement officer when he founded the Alaska conference two decades ago. He says this is the first time he can recall this happening. While he understands the impulse to review travel spending, he says the cutbacks also raise a red flag.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty among folks here at the forum,” Eilo said. “There’s concern about the tribal programs, there’s concern about how we’re going to address things like climate change in the next upcoming administration.”

As the Alaska Dispatch News reports, one panel discussion that was to feature six EPA staffers Tuesday instead included two EPA representatives. While the topic had originally been planned to center on the agency’s grant system, the officials instead fielded questions about changes at the EPA.

The order to reduce staff numbers at the conference is the latest sign of a shift in priorities for the EPA under a new president. Days after President Trump’s inauguration, Ericksen said the agency’s scientists will likely need to have their work reviewed on a “case by case basis” before it can be made public.

On Thursday, the fourth day of the weeklong conference in Anchorage, attendees kicked snow off their shoes as they walked into the Dena’ina Center. Many were unaware that the EPA presence had been slashed. Organizer Elio acknowledges that the agency worked hard to minimize disruption from the change in plans. In the end, only one of the conference’s more than 100 sessions had to be canceled.

The conference drew attendees who had flown in from Alaska’s rural communities where the EPA works with tribes to fund programs on drinking water, sanitation and trash collection. Breakout sessions focused on issues such as brownfield cleanup, emergency response and dealing with coastal erosion due to climate change.

Billy Maines is the environmental coordinator for the Curyung Tribal Council in Dillingham, Alaska, who also serves as an adviser to EPA Region 10 on its tribal programs. He said the agency’s direct assistance to Alaska’s rural communities is vital.

“They’re trying to take up and clean up their dumps, landfills, trying to recycle and get what waste goes into their communities, out of their communities,” he said.

Maines and others worry the cutback on conference attendees might be a sign of broader, and more painful, budget cuts to come.

Trump’s nominee for EPA chief is Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general who has criticized — and repeatedly sued — the agency he’s now in line to lead.

Pruitt’s nomination was advanced to the full Senate last week, after Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee refused to attend meetings that were meant to hold confirmation votes on Pruitt.

During his confirmation hearing weeks earlier, Pruitt said his past actions had been made out of concern for his home state and that if he were to lead the EPA, his decisions would be dictated by “the rule of law.”

Pruitt, who has questioned climate change, also sought to answer critics who have faulted him for that stance, saying in a January hearing:

“Let me say to you, science tells us that the climate is changing and that human activity in some matter impacts that change. The ability to measure with precision the degree and extent of that impact, and what to do about it, are subject to continuing debate and dialogue. And well it should be.”

——————————
Rachel Waldholz reports for Alaska Public Media.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 11th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Washington (CNN) – February 11, 2017 – President Donald Trump taunted Democrats by telling them “Pocahontas is now the face of your party” — his insult of choice for Sen. Elizabeth Warren — during a meeting with senators earlier this week, sources told CNN.

The sources said the Warren moment came up in the context of Trump’s impromptu analysis of the state of the Democratic Party. Trump made his comments in what appeared to be a reference to Warren’s criticism of Attorney General Jeff Sessions during his confirmation process. Her comments prompted Republicans to invoke an arcane rule to cut her off.


Trump to Dems: ‘Pocahontas is now the face of your party.’

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


For the benefit of A US President who clearly knows very little about American history, and seemingly knows very little of history – period – here material about the woman he dared to mention thinking he uses her name as an insult against a US Senator whose Constitutional right to speak out was cut by the President’s Republican gang leader of the US Senate.

The Pocahontas Myth:

Note: Many Pocahontas descendents have sent us inquiries regarding membership. Please see our frequently asked questions for information regarding Pocahontas’ descendents and Powhatan membership.

In 1995, Roy Disney decided to release an animated movie about a Powhatan woman known as “Pocahontas”. In answer to a complaint by the Powhatan Nation, he claims the film is “responsible, accurate, and respectful.”

We of the Powhatan Nation disagree. The film distorts history beyond recognition. Our offers to assist Disney with cultural and historical accuracy were rejected. Our efforts urging him to reconsider his misguided mission were spurred.

“Pocahontas” was a nickname, meaning “the naughty one” or “spoiled child”. Her real name was Matoaka. The legend is that she saved a heroic John Smith from being clubbed to death by her father in 1607 – she would have been about 10 or 11 at the time. The truth is that Smith’s fellow colonists described him as an abrasive, ambitious, self-promoting mercenary soldier.

Of all of Powhatan’s children, only “Pocahontas” is known, primarily because she became the hero of Euro-Americans as the “good Indian”, one who saved the life of a white man. Not only is the “good Indian/bad Indian theme” inevitably given new life by Disney, but the history, as recorded by the English themselves, is badly falsified in the name of “entertainment”.

The truth of the matter is that the first time John Smith told the story about this rescue was 17 years after it happened, and it was but one of three reported by the pretentious Smith that he was saved from death by a prominent woman.

Yet in an account Smith wrote after his winter stay with Powhatan’s people, he never mentioned such an incident. In fact, the starving adventurer reported he had been kept comfortable and treated in a friendly fashion as an honored guest of Powhatan and Powhatan’s brothers. Most scholars think the “Pocahontas incident” would have been highly unlikely, especially since it was part of a longer account used as justification to wage war on Powhatan’s Nation.

Euro-Americans must ask themselves why it has been so important to elevate Smith’s fibbing to status as a national myth worthy of being recycled again by Disney. Disney even improves upon it by changing Pocahontas from a little girl into a young woman.

The true Pocahontas story has a sad ending. In 1612, at the age of 17, Pocahontas was treacherously taken prisoner by the English while she was on a social visit, and was held hostage at Jamestown for over a year.

During her captivity, a 28-year-old widower named John Rolfe took a “special interest” in the attractive young prisoner. As a condition of her release, she agreed to marry Rolfe, who the world can thank for commercializing tobacco. Thus, in April 1614, Matoaka, also known as “Pocahontas”, daughter of Chief Powhatan, became “Rebecca Rolfe”. Shortly after, they had a son, whom they named Thomas Rolfe. The descendants of Pocahontas and John Rolfe were known as the “Red Rolfes.”

Two years later on the spring of 1616, Rolfe took her to England where the Virginia Company of London used her in their propaganda campaign to support the colony. She was wined and dined and taken to theaters. It was recorded that on one occasion when she encountered John Smith (who was also in London at the time), she was so furious with him that she turned her back to him, hid her face, and went off by herself for several hours. Later, in a second encounter, she called him a liar and showed him the door.

Rolfe, his young wife, and their son set off for Virginia in March of 1617, but “Rebecca” had to be taken off the ship at Gravesend. She died there on March 21, 1617, at the age of 21. She was buried at Gravesend, but the grave was destroyed in a reconstruction of the church. It was only after her death and her fame in London society that Smith found it convenient to invent the yarn that she had rescued him.

History tells the rest. Chief Powhatan died the following spring of 1618. The people of Smith and Rolfe turned upon the people who had shared their resources with them and had shown them friendship. During Pocahontas’ generation, Powhatan’s people were decimated and dispersed and their lands were taken over. A clear pattern had been set which would soon spread across the American continent.

Chief Roy Crazy Horse

Pocahontas (born Matoaka, known as Amonute, (1596–1617) was a 100% Native American.
Born at Werowocomoco, present-day Gloucester County, Virginia
Died on March 1617 (aged 20–21)
Gravesend, Kent, Kingdom of England
Resting place St George’s Church, Gravesend

Senator Elizabeth Ann Warren is an American academic and politician. She is a member of the Democratic Party, and is the senior United States Senator from Massachusetts.
She never was involved in te real estate business.

Born (née Herring; born June 22, 1949, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States
Office: Senator (D-MA) since 2013
Previous office: Elizabeth Warren became the first member of her family to graduate from college, eventually earning her law degree from Rutgers University. After teaching law at several universities, Warren was selected to lead the National Bankruptcy Review Commission. In 2008, she headed the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
She was Special Advisor for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (2010–2011)
Education: Rutgers School of Law – Newark (1976),
Spouse: Jim Warren – a legal historian (m. 1968–1978), Bruce Mann (m. 1980),

Warren’s campaign or the Senate seat from Massachusetts ran into some trouble in early 2012, when she found herself in a media maelstrom over her Native American ancestry claims.

Reporters for the Boston Herald could not find any proof of her Cherokee heritage, and a Cherokee genealogist also challenged Warren’s assertion.

To try to quell the controversy, Warren released a statement to Boston’s WBZ-TV. “Growing up, my mother and grandparents often talked about our family’s Native American heritage. As a kid, I never thought to ask them for documentation—what kid would?” Warren further explained that “I never sought nor gained personal benefit in school or job applications based on my heritage.”

Despite this controversy, in June 2012, Warren clinched the Democratic nomination in the Senate race, facing incumbent Republican opponent, Senator Scott Brown. The candidates were involved in a tight race. A poll released in September 2012 by the Public Policy Polling showed that Brown had a five-point lead over her.

So, what percentage Amerindian blood flows in her veins? Probably some as most local Oklahomans have in their veins some Cherokee blood – that is some of the Cherokee women that were not killed or expelled but kept as practical slaves. Ah, those nicewhite settlers of tat land.

The issue gets in effect worse wen we start looking at Senator Elizabeth Warren’s tormentor –
Republican Majority Leader of the Senate – Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. His Spouse: Elaine Chao (m. 1993), Sherrill Redmon (m. 1968–1993) Who is not a white woman – so we would like to believe he is not racist. But his wife is a cabinet member appointed by the Trump Administration. We find this interesting.

But why did Mitch McConnell not allow Elizabeth Warren read Coretta Scott King’s letter opposing racist Sessions as part of the hearing so it had to be read by protesters outside his Washington home?

Also, searching the internet we found: “The most prominent early Indian tribes in Kentucky were the Cherokee, Chickasaws, and Shawnee. Most of these tribes were eliminated from Kentucky by about the early 1800s either through warfare or resettlement to other territories by the federal government. So, Kentucky is not different from Oklahoma. What percentage Amerindian blood does Mr. McConnell carry in his veins? Is this higher or lower then Elizabeth Warrens?

We do not know – Does President Trump know?
So why does he talk about something he does not know?
Is his education level at a bar-height just of a Walt Disney movie?

——————–

Just one more comment – it is based on a column y Peter Praschl in the German “Die Welt” – January 18, 2017 – a rather conservative paper that wrote what I will mention here – right before the Change of White House residents.

“THE PRESIDENT OF BOOKS – Barack Obama was one of the most active readers in the White House. His Summer-reading-list made authors famous. This is over now.”
This showed already

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 10th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


This is a SustainabiliTank.info original and it was inspired by our watching his press conference at the side of his guest – the Prime Minister of Japan – H.E. Shinzo Abe.

————————

Mr. Abe seemingly knew well what happened to even a greater ally of the US – the Prime Minister of Australia, so it was evident he was well prepared for meeting his host whom he met already once before by visiting at the Trump Towers in New York – at a time Trump was not yet sitting President. Mr. Abe seemed worried that the new US President who talks of making “America Great Again” – has no interest in Asia and while nevertheless pulling at China’s toes. Japan does not want to be left to face China alone.

But as we wrote earlier today in “The Taming the Tramp” – Mr. Trump beat retreat from his earlier high talk about China-China. He did this in clear light by promising to the Chinese leader that he will not change the One China policy. Surely we do not know how this phone call went, but it is obvious that Mr. Xi Jinping made his demand for a public statement very clear and Trump had to comply – “do not look at what I say – look at what I do.”

Now with Mr. Abe, Trump was visible only against the Red Sun of the Japanese flag – but remained unseen against his golden backdrop.

Trump allowed only two questions from the media – from correspondents of The New York Post and The Fox Network – both owned by US Australian magnate Rupert Murdoch – a card holding right wing Republican. But something happened, Murdoch’s people, thinking of what Trump did to the Australian Prime Minister, so they insisted to know about the US backing out from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). When the first question was not answered, the second reporter insisted even stronger and forced an answer. Trump thought that was it and wanted to end he Press Conference. But Prime Minister Abe, though smaller in stature, but with black hair – quite visible in front of those golden drapes, knew that he has the accepted right to pass two questions to Japanese reporters as well. Actually in friendlier environments the host varies the reporters called upon – but this Golden Room is not a friendly place and accepted manners were dismissed with the entry of the new occupants.

Worthwhile to mention here is the obviously trained diplomatic way Mr. Abe answered the essence of the four questions by not getting involved but rather saying that substantial matter will be taken up at the working lunch. We also assume he will try, like Mr. Xi, get in private agreements that will then be publicized at the appropriate time. China and Japan are not out to make “Deals” but as obvious – they want open guarantees that no shenanigan behavior will lead to an abrupt change in the Status Quo ante.

The issues he is putting on the table are Free Trade between Nations in the Pacific area – with State Governments not being involved in regulations, Rule of Law, the security of navigation in the East China Sea and the recognition of the large investments Japan made in US industry and the fact that Japan technology – like the Maglev fast trains – can yet increase that Japan-US cooperation. He also by the way thanked the US for 115 years ago having learned from the US about democracy. Quite subtle and diplomatic.

Trump said that the US being great again is good for Japan – that jobs will come by tax policyack to the US – like Ford and GM – and an announcement will be make soon about Intel He will achieve this by tax policy and financial incentives.

Following the Press Conference, the TV pundits unanimously showed their astonishment at an issue that was evolving in parallel to the Abe visit that is the involvement of the Trump White House Adviser to the President Michael Flynn who talked with the Russian Ambassador about reducing the US Sanctions against Russia – this while Trump was not yet President –
a clear illegality that was known seemingly also to the man who is now Vice President.

Have we reached already time to clean House? I must thus remind our readers that considering the Russian involvement in the elections we called the home of the Golden Rooms – The Red House in Washington DC. Will finally some ethics Congressional Committee start looking seriously into the backdrop of the Flynn Affair? Will finally someone be indicted.
People start demonstrating with the deadly slogan – “DO YOUR JOB.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 10th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Stephen Bannon’s words and actions don’t add up.

By Fareed Zakaria -The Washington Post Opinion writer – February 9, 2017, at 8:34 PM

Perhaps it’s just me, but a few weeks into the Trump presidency, between the tweets, executive orders, attacks and counterattacks, I feel dizzy. So I’ve decided to take a break from the daily barrage and try to find the signal amid the noise: What is the underlying philosophy of this administration?

The chief ideologist of the Trump era is surely Stephen K. Bannon, by many accounts now the second-most powerful man in the government. Bannon is intelligent and broadly read, and has a command of U.S. history. I’ve waded through his many movies and speeches, and in these, he does not come across as a racist or white supremacist, as some people have charged. But he is an unusual conservative. We have gotten used to conservatives who are really economic libertarians, but Bannon represents an older school of European thought that is distrustful of free markets, determined to preserve traditional culture and religion, and unabashedly celebrates nationalism and martial values.


In a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2012, Bannon explained his disgust for Mitt Romney and his admiration for Sarah Palin, whose elder son, Bannon noted, had served in Iraq. The rich and successful Romney, by contrast, “will not be my commander in chief,” Bannon said, because, although the candidate had five sons who “look like good all-American guys .?.?. not one has served a day in the military.”

The core of Bannon’s worldview can be found in his movie “Generation Zero.” It centers on the financial crisis of 2008, and the opening scenes — in their fury against bankers — could have been written by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). But then it moves on to its real point: The financial crisis happened because of a larger moral crisis. The film blames the 1960s and the baby boomers who tore down traditional structures of society and created a “culture of narcissism.”

How did Woodstock trigger a financial crisis four decades later? According to Bannon, the breakdown of old-fashioned values resulted in a culture of self-centeredness that measured everything and everyone in one way: money. The movie goes on to accuse the political and financial establishments of betraying their country by enacting free trade deals that benefited them but hollowed out Middle America.

In a strange way, Bannon’s dark, dystopian view of U.S. history is closest to that of Howard Zinn, a popular far-left scholar whose “A People’s History of the United States” is a tale of the many ways in which 99 percent of Americans were crushed by the country’s all-powerful elites. In the Zinn/Bannon worldview, everyday people are simply pawns manipulated by their evil overlords.

A more accurate version of recent American history would show that the cultural shift that began in the 1960s was fueled by a powerful, deeply American force: individualism. The United States had always been highly individualistic. Both Bannon and Trump seem nostalgic for an age — the 1930s to 1950s — that was an aberration for the nation. The Great Depression, the New Deal and World War II created a collectivist impulse that transformed the country. But after a while, Americans began to reassert their age-old desire for personal freedom, fulfillment and advancement. The world of the 1950s sounds great, unless you were a woman who wanted to work, an African American who wanted to vote, an immigrant who wanted to move up or an aspiring entrepreneur stuck in a large, faceless corporation.

The United States that allowed individuals to flourish in the 1980s and 1990s, of course, was where the young and enterprising Bannon left a large bank to set up his own shop, do his own deals and make a small fortune. It then allowed him to produce and distribute movies outside of the Hollywood establishment, build a media start-up into a powerhouse and become a political entrepreneur entirely outside the Republican hierarchy. This United States allowed Bannon’s brash new boss to get out of Queens into Manhattan, build skyscrapers and also his celebrity, all while horrifying the establishment. Donald Trump is surely the poster child for the culture of narcissism.

In the course of building their careers, Trump and Bannon discarded traditionalism in every way. Both men are divorced — Bannon three times, Trump twice. They have achieved their dreams precisely because society was wide open to outsiders, breaking traditional morality did not carry a stigma and American elites were actually not that powerful. Their stories are the stories of modern America. But their message to the country seems to be an old, familiar one: Do as I say, not as I do.

—————————————————
Read more from Fareed Zakaria’s archive, follow him on Twitter or subscribe to his updates on Facebook.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 10th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Asia & Pacific
Trump agrees to honor one-China policy in call to Xi Jinping

President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (Jim Lo Scalzo/Filip Singer/European Pressphoto Agency)

By Simon Denyer and Philip Rucker – The Wahington Post – February 10, 2017

BEIJING — President Trump held a lengthy, “extremely cordial” telephone conversation with China’s President Xi Jinping late on Thursday evening in Washington, and — in a move set to ease tensions between the two nations — agreed to honor the one-China policy, the White House said in a statement.

The one-China policy forms the bedrock of U.S.-China diplomatic ties, established by President Richard Nixon and China’s leader Mao Zedong. It rules out independence and diplomatic recognition for the island of Taiwan.

But Trump has publicly called U.S. adherence to this policy into question, suggesting he would only commit to it once he evaluates China’s progress in addressing trade and currency concerns.

In response, China insisted the policy was highly sensitive and “nonnegotiable.”

The United States maintains a military relationship with Taiwan, which Beijing considers a province, but closed its embassy there in 1979.

What is the One China policy, and why is Beijing so infuriated with Trump? Play Video3:03
China has expressed “serious concern” after President-elect Donald Trump said the United States would not necessarily be bound by the One China policy unless it could “make a deal,” potentially on U.S.-China trade. (Jason Aldag/The Washington Post)

“The two leaders discussed numerous topics and President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our ‘one China’ policy,” the White House statement said.

Representatives from both countries will engage in “discussions and negotiations on various issues of mutual interest,” the statement said.

“The phone call between President Trump and President Xi was extremely cordial, and both leaders extended best wishes to the people of each other’s countries,” it added.

“They also extended invitations to meet in their respective countries. President Trump and President Xi look forward to further talks with very successful outcomes.”

The phone call came on the eve of a formal summit between Trump and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe set to take place in Washington on Friday.

Japan is a historic enemy of China and a key modern-day strategic rival.

In December, following his election and before his transition, Trump made waves with a protocol-breaking telephone call with Taiwan’s leader, Tsai Ing-wen.

It was the first communication between leaders of the United States and Taiwan since 1979 and the product of months of preparation by Trump’s advisers, who advocated for a new strategy of engagement with Taiwan to rattle China.


As expected, China reacted sternly, but Trump publicly questioned whether the one- China policy was in America’s best interests.


He fired off provocative tweets about the Chinese — on currency manipulation, imports from the United States and its military buildup in the South China Sea.


Trump told the Wall Street Journal in a January interview, shortly before his inauguration, that he was open to shifting U.S. policy on China and Taiwan.

“Everything is under negotiation, including ‘One China,’?” Trump told the newspaper.

The phone call to Xi came a day after Trump sent a letter wishing China a “prosperous Year of the Rooster” — which was sent 11 days after China celebrated its Lunar New Year festival.

The White House issued a statement saying Trump had “provided a letter” to Xi on Wednesday, thanking the Chinese leader for a congratulatory note he had sent on the U.S. president’s inauguration.

Trump wished the Chinese people a “happy Lantern Festival and prosperous Year of the Rooster” and said “he looks forward to working with President Xi to develop a constructive relationship that benefits both the United States and China,” according to the statement.

China celebrated its Lunar New Year on Jan. 28, and the lack of a customary new year’s greeting from the U.S. president at that time was noticed here. The Lantern Festival will be celebrated on Saturday.

Rucker reported from Washington.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 9th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 2, 2017
Contact: Clinton Foundation Press Office,  press at clintonfoundation.org

President Clinton and Chelsea Clinton to Convene More Than 1,000 Students from Around the World at 10th Annual CGI University Meeting

Now Accepting Applications for CGI University 2017, October 13-15 at Northeastern University in Boston

February 2, 2017 — The 10th annual Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) meeting—hosted by President Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton—will take place October 13-15, 2017 at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. More than 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students will be joined by thought leaders from around the world to address some of the most pressing social, economic, and environmental concerns of their generation.

Since its first meeting, CGI U has brought together more than 8,700 students from more than 940 schools, 145 countries, and all 50 states. These students have developed projects including a predictive model for energy efficiency retrofits in New York City buildings, a mentorship program to promote confidence, deconstruct gender stereotypes and build leadership for young girls, a mobile texting app that prevents the sale of counterfeit prescription drugs in the developing world, and the creation of support centers for victims of gender-based violence in Pakistan.

Students interested in attending CGI U 2017 can submit their applications here by May 1, 2017. Students requesting travel/lodging assistance must apply by the early decision deadline of March 1, 2017. Further details on the meeting and application process are below, and can also be found here.

CGI U is one of many service and leadership development programs run by the Clinton Foundation. Other opportunities include the Presidential Leadership Scholars program, a unique initiative created in partnership with the George W. Bush Presidential Center, the Clinton Presidential Center, the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation, and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation to support some of the most promising leaders in America, and the Clinton Foundation Day of Action, a community service program that has mobilized more than 6,000 volunteers who have collectively donated more than 25,500 volunteer hours to date.


CGI UNIVERSITY: A HUB FOR YOUNG INNOVATORS

The Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), established in 2007 by President Bill Clinton, brings together college and university students to address global challenges with new, specific, and measurable plans called Commitments to Action. Whether building a digital platform to empower youth in the U.S. foster care system or providing rural Latin American communities with solar energy solutions, CGI U participants are among the world’s most promising young social innovators. Through CGI U’S annual meeting and year-round support, student participants create action plans, build relationships, and participate in hands-on workshops as they carry out their Commitments to Action.

The CGI U meeting takes place at an accredited college or university each year—previous CGI U meetings have been held at Tulane University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Miami, the University of California at San Diego, the George Washington University, Washington University in St. Louis, Arizona State University, and the University of California at Berkeley.


HOW TO APPLY FOR CGI U 2017

Applications for CGI U 2017 are now open here. To attend CGI U 2017, students must be at least 18 years of age and currently enrolled in an institution of higher education at the time of application. Students who will be at least 18 years of age and enrolled in an institution of higher education by October 2017 are also eligible to apply.

Applicants are required to submit a detailed plan for their Commitment to Action that addresses a specific problem in one of five focus areas: Education, Environment and Climate Change, Poverty Alleviation, Peace and Human Rights, and Public Health.

The CGI U meeting is free to attend, though students must fund their own travel and lodging. Students requesting travel and/or lodging assistance must submit their application by the early decision deadline: March 1, 2017. All other applications must be submitted by the final deadline: May 1, 2017.

For any questions about the application process, please call 212.710.4492 or email  cgiu.applicant at clintonglobalinitiativ….

HIGHER EDUCATION FACULTY AND ADMINISTRATORS: JOIN THE CGI UNIVERSITY NETWORK

We are proud to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the CGI University Network—a growing consortium of colleges and universities that support, mentor, and provide seed funding to leading student innovators and entrepreneurs.

The following schools will celebrate five consecutive years of membership in the CGI University Network this year. We applaud their dedication to engaging the next generation of leaders.

Arizona State University
Cornell University
Duke University
Johnson C. Smith University
Middlebury College
Northeastern University
Rutgers University
Southern Methodist University
The Ohio State University
Tufts University
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, San Diego
University of Central Florida
University of Houston
University of Miami

More than 60 schools have already joined for 2017, pledging more than $710,000 to support student commitment-makers from their campuses. All funding for the CGI University Network is raised and provided by participating University Network schools and given directly to students from these schools.

For a current list of universities who have joined the University Network for 2017, please write to the foundation..

CGI University is now accepting applications from eligible students over the age of 18. The early decision deadline is March 1, 2017; the final deadline is May 1, 2017. For more information and to submit an application, please visit cgiu.org

###

About the Clinton Global Initiative University

The Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), established in 2007 by President Clinton, brings together college students to discuss and address global challenges with practical, innovative solutions by making Commitments to Action – new, specific, and measurable initiatives that can be small or large, local or global, financial or nonmonetary in nature. Through its annual meeting and ongoing programmatic support, CGI U supports students in their efforts to create action plans, build relationships, participate in hands-on workshops, and follow up as they complete their projects.

CGI U is proof that young people have the power to make a significant impact by confronting some of the world’s most urgent challenges. Since it’s first meeting, CGI U has brought together more than 8,700 students from more than 940 schools, 145 countries, and all 50 states, and nearly $3 million in funding has been awarded to these commitment-makers through CGI U. These students have made more than 6,250 Commitments to Action ranging from establishing a predictive model for energy efficiency retrofits in New York City buildings to a mobile texting app that prevents the sale of counterfeit prescription drugs in the developing world, from designing a lightweight water filtration backpack that provides drinkable water in disaster zones to support centers for victims of gender-based violence in Pakistan.

The CGI U meeting takes place at an accredited college or university each year, and previous CGI U meetings have been held at Tulane University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Miami, the University of California at San Diego, the George Washington University, Washington University in St. Louis, Arizona State University, and the University of California at Berkeley.

To learn more, visit cgiu.org and follow us on Twitter @CGIU and Facebook at facebook.com

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 9th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Uri Avnery Column at the Israeli Gush Shalom website of February 4, 2017

RESPECT THE GREEN LINE!

THE MOST incisive analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict I have ever read was written by the Jewish-Polish-British historian Isaac Deutscher. It consists of a single image.

A man lives on the upper floor of a building, which catches fire. To save his life, he jumps out of a window and lands on a passerby in the street below. The victim is grievously injured, and between the two starts an intractable conflict.

Of course, no metaphor is completely perfect. The Zionists did not choose Palestine by chance, the choice was based on our religion. The founder of the movement, Theodor Herzl, initially preferred Argentina.

Still, the picture is basically valid, at least until 1967. From then on, the settlers continued to jump across the Green Line, with no fire in sight.

THERE IS nothing holy about the Green Line. It is no different from any other border line around the world, whatever its color.

Most borders were drawn by geography and the accidents of war. Two peoples fight for the territory between them, at some point the fighting comes to an end, and a border is born.
The land borders of Israel – known for some reason as the “Green Line” – were also established by the accidents of war. A part of that line was the result of a deal between the new Israeli government and the king of Jordan, Abdallah I, who gave us the so-called Triangle as a baksheesh, in return for Israel’s agreement to his annexation of most of the rest of Palestine. So what’s so holy about this border? Nothing, except that it’s there. And that is true for many borders throughout the world.

A border is established by accident and confirmed by agreement. True, the United Nations drew borders between the Jewish and the Arab states in its 1947 resolution, but after the Arab side started a war in order to thwart this decision, Israel greatly enlarged its territory.

The 1948 war ended without a peace treaty. But the armistice lines established at the end of the war were accepted by the entire world as the borders of Israel. This has not changed during the 68 years that have passed since then.

This situation prevails both de facto and de jure. Israeli law applies only within the Green Line. Everything else is occupied territory under military law. Two small territories – East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights – were unilaterally declared to be annexed by Israel, but nobody in the world recognizes this status.

I ELABORATE on these well-known facts because the settlers in the occupied territories have lately started to taunt their critics in Israel by bringing up a new argument: “Hey, what’s the big difference between us?”

You too sit on Arab lands, they tell us. True, before 1948 the Zionists settled on land they bought with good money – but only a small part of it was bought from the fellahin who tilled it. Most of it was acquired from rich absentee landowners, who had bought it cheaply from the Turkish sultan when the Ottoman Empire was in dire financial straits . The tillers of the land were driven out by the Turkish, and later the British, police.

Large stretches of land were “liberated” during the fighting of 1948, when masses of Arab villagers and city-dwellers fled before the advancing Israeli forces, as civilians do in every war. If they didn’t, a few salvos of machine-gun fire were enough to drive them out.
The inhabitants who were left in Jaffa after the town was conquered, were simply packed on trucks and sent to Gaza. The inhabitants of Lod (Lydda) were driven away on foot. In the end, about 750 thousand Arabs were expelled, more than half the Palestinian people at the time. The Jewish population in Palestine amounted then to 650 thousand.

Some inner voice compels me at this point to mention a Canadian-Jewish officer named Ben Dunkelmann, then 36 years old, who commanded a brigade in the new Israeli army. He had served with distinction in the Canadian army in World War II. He was ordered to attack Nazareth, the home-town of Jesus, but succeeded in inducing the local leaders to surrender without a fight. The condition was that the local population would not be harmed.
After his troops had occupied the town, Dunkelmann received an oral order to drive the population out. Outraged, Dunkelmann refused to break his word of honor as an officer and a gentleman, and demanded the order in writing. Such a written order never arrived, of course (no such orders were ever put in writing), but Dunkelmann was removed from his post.
Nowadays, when I pass Nazareth, a thriving Arab town, I remember this brave man. After that war, he returned to his native Canada. I don’t think he ever came back here again. He died 20 years ago.

HONEST DISCLOSURE: I took part in all this. As a simple soldier, and later as a squad leader, I was a part of the events. But immediately after the war I wrote a book that disclosed the truth (“The Other Side of the Coin”), and a few years later I published a detailed plan for the return of some of the refugees and the payment of compensation to all the others. That, of course, never happened.

Most of the land and the houses of the refugees were filled with new Jewish immigrants.
Now the settlers say, not without some justice: “Who are you to despise us? You did the same as we are doing! Only you did it before 1967, and we do it now. What’s the difference?”
That is the difference. We live in a state that has been recognized by most of the world within established borders. You live in territory that the world considers occupied Palestinian territory. The state of Texas was acquired by the USA in a war with Mexico. If President Trump were now to invade Mexico and annex a chunk of land (why not?), its status would be quite different.


Binyamin Netanyahu – some now call him Trumpyahu – is all for enlarging the settlements. This week, under pressure from our Supreme Court, he staged the removal of one tiny little settlement, Amona, with a lot of heartbreak and tears, but immediately promised to put up many thousands of new “housing units” in the occupied territories.

OPPOSITE POLITICAL extremes often touch each other. So it is now.

The settlers who want to wipe out the difference between us and them, do it not just to justify themselves. Their main aim is to erase the Green Line and include all the occupied territories in Greater Israel, which would extend from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.

A lot of Israel-haters want the same borders – but as an Arab state.
Indeed, I would love to chair a peace conference of Israel-haters and Palestine-haters. I would propose to decide first on the points they all agree on – namely the creation of a state from sea to river. I would leave to the end the decision whether to call it Israel or Palestine.

A world-wide movement called BDS now proposes to boycott all of Israel, in order to achieve this end. I have a problem with that.

GUSH SHALOM, the Israeli peace organization to which I belong, takes great pride in being the first to declare a boycott on the products of the settlements many years ago. We still uphold this boycott, though it is now illegal under Israeli law.

We did not declare a boycott on Israel. And not only because it is rather awkward to boycott oneself. The main object of our boycott was to teach Israelis to differentiate between themselves and the settlements. We published and distributed many thousand copies of the list of companies located and products produced outside the Green Line. Many people are upholding the boycott.

The BDS boycott of all Israel achieves the exact opposite: by saying that there is no difference between Israel within the Green Line and the settlers outside, it pushes ordinary Israelis into the arms of the settlers.

The settlers, of course, are only too happy to get the assistance of BDS in erasing the Green Line.

I HAVE no emotional quarrel with the BDS people. True, a few of them seem to be old-school anti-Semites in a new garb, but I have the impression that most BDS supporters act out of sincere sympathy for the suffering of the Palestinians. I respect that.

However, I would urge the well-meaning idealists who support BDS to think again about the paramount importance of the Green Line – the only border that makes peace between Israel and Palestine possible, with some minor mutually agreed adjustments.


ISRAEL IS there. It cannot be wished away. So is Palestine.

If we all agree on that, we can also agree on the continued boycott of the settlements – and of the settlements only.

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 8th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


PM Netanyahu Instructs the Foreign Ministry to Reprimand the Belgian Ambassador to Israel

(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser – February 8, 2017)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this evening (Wednesday, 8 February 2017), instructed the Foreign Ministry to reprimand Belgian Ambassador to Israel Olivier Belle.

Israel views with utmost gravity Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel’s meeting today with the leaders of Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem, during his visit to Israel. Initiatives are underway by the Belgian state prosecutor to try senior Israelis including Tzipi Livni and IDF officers.

The Belgian government needs to decide whether it wants to change direction or continue with an anti-Israel line.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has directed that legislation be advanced to prevent financing by foreign governments for NGOs that harm IDF soldiers.

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

And from Ted Belman’s blog that is a US Republican plant in Jerusalem – to our big surprise a criticism of the heralded Trump – right out of the pages of HAARETZ:

Republicans Won’t Defy Trump on His Holocaust Statement – and Israel Should Pay Attention

T. Belman. The harshness with which the Trump administration reject criticism is unfathomable. Why is Trump doing this? Friends don’t do this to friends.

The way a resolution to restate Jewish focus of Holocaust was shot down sends unmistakable signal when it comes to new rules of power in D.C, Jewish community and, by extension, Israel.

By Allison Kaplan Sommer, HAARETZ

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

and then the Netanyahu dream:

The Ultimate Alternate Israel-Palestine Solution

With a new U.S. president, new ideas are emerging on how to resolve the Israel-Palestine debacle. One of the most promising comes from the Jordanian Opposition Council who favor a new Palestinian state — in Jordan.

By Ted Belman

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

find above at:  www.israpundit.org/archives/63621…

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

###