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Nairobi will be the site for COP12 of the UNFCCC. It can be expected that the issue will shift to tracks of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Will it be possible to turn this also into a tool for a post-2012 phase of the Kyoto Protocol? In any case - this section will emphasize Africa in general.


 
Kenya:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 27th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Bi-annual conferences on “Drylands, Deserts and Desertification” (DDD), are one of the largest international academic forums on desertification. They take place at Ben Gurion University of the Negev – BGU’s Sede Boqer campus.

Three hundred to five hundred people from around the world have come to learn practical lessons and make connections to bring back to their home countries.

The fifth DDD conference is scheduled for November 17-20, 2014.

The United Nations defined desertification as potentially the most threatening ecosystem change impacting livelihoods at the global scale; based on the total number of people threatened by desertification, this ranks among the greatest contemporary environmental problems.

Developed as a result of the 1992 Rio Summit, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has brought attention to the phenomenon of land degradation called “desertification” when it occurs in drylands, as the most vulnerable ecosystems. Fifteen years after coming into force, the UNCCD was increasingly recognized as an instrument which can make an important contribution to the achievement of sustainable development and poverty reduction. The Committee of Science and Technology (CST – United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification), provides information and advice on scientific and technological matters relating to combating desertification and mitigating the effects of drought to the UNCCD’s Conference of the Parties (COP).

The uniting theme of the 2014 conference is “Healthy Lands – Healthy People” which encompasses a variety of aspects relating to Drylands, Deserts and Desertification, including natural sciences, social sciences, planning and policy issues.

Sessions with the following themes are already confirmed to be held during the conference:

• Afforestation in Drylands • AgroEcology • Architecture and City Planning in Drylands and Arid Areas • Carbon Footprint • Climate Change, Desertification and Society in the Ancient Near East: Lessons from the Past Desertification in Mongolia and China • Drip Irrigation (main theme of Desert Agriculture this year) • Deserts and Drylands in Ancient Literature and Archeology • Dryland Landscapes as Pattern-forming Systems: Modeling and Analysis • Ecohydrology of Dryland Landscapes • Economic Development in the Drylands • Environmental Education • Geological Aspects of Deserts and Desertification • GIS Applications for Dryland Studies • Green Building in Extreme Climates • Healthy Buildings • Hydrology in Drylands • Kidron River Restoration • Media and Environment • Mathematical Aspects of Desertification and Restoration • NGO Perspectives on Dryland Development • Nutritional and Food Security • On-site Waste Collection and Treatment • Public Health and Life in Deserts and Drylands • Remote Sensing • Society and Technology • Soil and Land Restoration • Water Policy in Drylands • Women and Economic Change in Rural-Arid Lands.

Additional specialized themes will be announced shortly. Some themes may be united with others.

An important part of the discussions will be The Economics of Land Degradation, and this connects to the developing science of the impact of man induced climate change.

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

 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

CIFNews
Administrative Unit,
Climate Investment Funds

T: 1.202.458.1801 | F: 1.202.522.2937 |
 cifnews@worldbank.org
1818 H St. NW, Washington D.C. 20433

www.climateinvestmentfunds.org | Follow us on @CIF_Action

Recent updates to the CIF Voices (blogs), videos  and news articles on CIF projects:

Snakes, Tomatoes, and Other Take Aways from the Asia-Pacific Dialogue on the GCF
Martha Stein-Sochas, CIF AU, Feb 26
Last week at the Asia-Pacific Dialogue on the Green Climate Fund (GCF), I heard many helpful suggestions and ideas from private sector participants on the GCF’s future Private Sector Facility, which aims to provide financing for climate action in the private sector.  But no advice was more powerful than that of Paul Needham, President and Co-founder of Simpa Networks, who related to us the need to move quickly, take risks, and be catalytic.

Lessons from the field on CIF results monitoring and reporting
Emmanuel Kouadio, CIF AU, Feb 14
For the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), understanding the tangible results of its funding is essential to learning and accountability. It has been no small task to make monitoring and reporting (M&R) a reality across the four programs and 48 countries that comprise the CIF. But this year, 2014, all CIF pilot countries will report on results and annually thereafter.

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World Bank, Government of Samoa Launch Climate Resilience Program
World Bank, February 6
“The World Bank is committed to helping small island states manage pressing risks from natural disasters and climate change,” said Drees-Gross. “Through the Climate Investment Funds, we are proud to support Samoa in critical efforts to increase the resilience of coastal communities and infrastructure, which could help protect their very survival as well as long-term development.”
Keeping Partnership Strong as PPCR Planning Turns to Action in Samoa
Litara Taulealo, Ministry of Finance, Samoa, Feb 18
Last week the government of Samoa and the World Bank announced the launch of a new project to support climate change adaptation measures for coastal communities. Our Enhancing the Climate Resilience of Coastal Resources and Communities Project, supported by $14.6 million from the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR), will assist 45,000 Samoans in coastal communities in adapting to climate change and climate variability, protect coastal infrastructure, and increase awareness about climate change impacts and adaptation activities among communities, civil society, and government entities.

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Drawing lessons from Turkey’s energy use, emissions and fuel mix
Sandy Ferguson, EBRD, Feb 5
One thing jumps out when looking at the Turkish Sustainable Energy Financing Facility (TurSEFF) report: with the right combination of financing, one can achieve substantial changes in energy use, emissions, and fuel mix in middle income countries.

Transforming Waste to Energy in Nepal
Nepal is part of the larger effort to expand energy access and markets for renewable energy in the world’s poorest countries. Today, Nepal is using SREP to develop large-scale commercial, institutional, and municipal bioenergy projects

Menengai Geothermal Power Plant in Kenya
Africa Express stopped in Kenya to learn more about geothermal power development at Menengai. SREP $25 million is supporting development of Menengai which envisions 120 wells injecting 400 megawatts of electricity into the national grid

AfDB facilitates private sector finance for climate-readiness in Niger, Mozambique and Zambia
AfDB, February 26
Over US $30 million in concessional funds has been made available for innovative private sector projects that seek to improve climate change adaptation or readiness in Niger, Mozambique and Zambia. This financing is part of the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR), a financing window of the Climate Investment Funds (CIF)

Open Call to Private Sector
CIF AU, Feb 20
Access over $65 million in concessional financing set aside for innovative private sector projects in PPCR and SREP pilot countries. Proposals being accepted until March 31 (SREP) and April 30 (PPCR). Read more.

Rooted in Learning, Growing with Results
CIF AU, February 17
2013 was a year of growth for the CIF. The 2013 CIF Annual Report highlights emerging results, key lessons learned, and the momentum we are building for climate-smart development.

USELF Boosts Ukraine’s Renewable Energy Sector
EBRD, February 14
The first phase of the EBRD’s Ukraine Sustainable Energy Lending Facility (USELF) will deliver 200 GWh of renewable energy through an innovative combination of EBRD commercial financing, dedicated technical assistance support and

AfDB affirms its support for Power Africa, with a commitment of more than US $600 million
AfDB, February 13
In addition, under the aegis of the Climate Investment Funds, the Bank has led work on the Scaling-up Renewable Energy Program (SREP) Investment Plan for Tanzania and prepared jointly with the World Bank the Scaling-up Renewable Energy Program (SREP) Investment Plan for Liberia. This will lead to projects in both countries.

AfDB supports Ghana local communities with $14.55 million to reduce deforestation
AfDB, February 4
The project, called Engaging Local Communities in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) /Enhancement of Carbon Stocks, benefits from the support from the Climate Investment Funds’ (CIF) Forest Investment Program (FIP).  It will directly benefit 12,000 people, half of them women, by providing capacity building, seeds and equipment, and financial incentives through benefit-sharing agreements to develop forestry, agroforestry and alternative livelihoods. The project will also indirectly benefit 175,000 people in the two regions.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 18th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Fire Wars – Forest Jihad in America

June 17, 2013

Smoke rises from fire in Israel in early July, 2012. Photo: wiki commons.

American focus on the NSA “leaks” diverts attention from real existential threats and economic devastation that for now affects  mostly the West.

The fire raging in Colorado Springs forced William (Bill) Scott and his wife Linda to evacuate their home. Last we spoke, Bill didn’t know if they’ll have a home to return to.

As of Saturday afternoon, June 15, the apparent arson that set Colorado’s Black Forest on fire last Tuesday killed at least two people and destroyed and damaged more than 388 homes. The fire that burned 15,500 acres led to the evacuation of 38,000 people. The six-hour delay of federal air tankers to help extinguish the fast spreading fire didn’t help. All the while, local law enforcement and firefighters have been collecting whatever evidence they can find to identify the arsonist(s).

Bill Scott,  a senior fellow at ACD, warned about such a scenario last July, speaking at the ACD/EWI Economic Threats briefing on Capital Hill. An expert on aerial firefighting, he presented a sobering analysis of the devastating Waldo Canyon Fire, pointing out that the striking rise Western U.S. wildfires may be caused by elements other than nature.

He noted that in spring 2012, al-Qaeda’s English-language online magazine, Inspire, published an article called “It Is of Your Freedom to Ignite a Firebomb,” which featured instructions on how to build an incendiary bomb to light forests on fire.

A few months later, Russia’s security (FSB) chief, Aleksandr Bortnikov warned, ”al-Qaeda was complicit in recent forest fires in Europe” as part of the terrorists’ “strategy of a thousand cuts.”

Bortnikov spoke of “extremist sites [that] contained detailed instructions of waging the ‘forest jihad’ and stressed that such a method had proved itself effective as it inflicted both physical and moral damage, needed little training or investment and it was extremely hard for police to find and apprehend the arsonists.”

Since then, more fatwas advocating that “Fire is cheap, easy and effective tool for economic warfare” have been issued. They’ve included detailed instructions for constructing remote-controlled “ember bombs, and how to set fires without leaving a trace.”

Fire wars are not limited to Europe and the U.S. Palestinan jihadists have been setting fire to Israel’s modest forests for many years. However, political correctness seems to override Israeli and Russian warnings of that jihadist modus operandi. How many Tzarnaevs are hiding in Colorado’s woods?

While many of the fires that have scorched millions of acres and destroyed thousands of homes in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and other states have been identified as arson, none have been publicly attributed to criminal or terrorist groups, despite the presence of Mexican gangs and large number of other illegals in our Western states

Bill Scott’s “Fire Wars” presentation on YouTube led several Colorado legislators to propose a bill to allow the formation of Colorado’s Firefighting Air Corps. “In military terms, Colorado is a target-rich environment – an arsonist’s dream-come-true, and the U.S. Forest Service’s worst nightmare,” Scott said while giving a riveting testimony before the state Senate a few months ago. He went on to say that “Colorado wildfires took six lives, destroyed 647 homes and consumed $48 million in fire suppression costs.  And we are one match or lightning strike away from a disaster that will make 2012 look like a GOOD year.

“Consider this scenario: A hot day with humidity levels below 10 percent. High winds, blowing into a dead-end valley, toward a picture-perfect town on the shore of a large mountain lake. Also watching the weather, an Islamic jihadist decides, ‘Today’s the day.’ He takes off in a rented Cessna 172 and flies across the mouth of that valley, pitching lighted road flares from the airplane. In a matter of minutes, a wall of fire with flames topping 200 feet roars up that valley, trapping hundreds of tourists and citizens.

“The local U.S. Forest Service district ranger issues a top-priority emergency call for fire-fighting air tankers, noting that lives and property are in imminent danger. A harried federal dispatcher responds with this chilling truth: ‘We’re out of air resources. We’re fighting fires all over the nation, and all federal assets are committed. You folks are on your own.’

“Within hours, the small Colorado town burns to the ground and hundreds of trapped people die horrific deaths. After-action reviews conclude that the deadly fire was ignited by an al Qaeda terrorist – who was never caught – and all fatalities were attributable to ‘insufficient firefighting resources.’ If large air tankers had been deployed in a timely manner, a protective corridor through the conflagration could have been created, providing an escape route.

“Some will scoff and dismiss that scenario as mere fiction, noting that Colorado has never suffered such a disastrous fire. True, but we’re in a new era, facing a perfect storm of unprecedented elements: Drought; tinder-dry beetle-kill trees blanketing millions of acres; a real-and-present terrorist threat; and a cash-strapped, dysfunctional federal land-management agency that has less than a dozen large air tankers to serve the entire nation.”

Indeed, a state firefighting airforce would make Colorado independent of the cash-strapped, dysfunctional federal land-management agency, reducing the response time from six hours to 20 minutes. Colorado’s Senate Bill 245 was reluctantly approved last April by the Democratic majority; however, it refused to allocate the funds necessary to buy the air tankers. It was signed into law last week by Colorado’s Governor John Hickenlooper.

Ironically, Bill and his wife had to evacuate exactly one week after the unfunded bill was signed into law, and the worst fire in Colorado history was raging, endangering the state’s citizens, its forests and economy.

In California alone, during the first two weeks of June, wild land fires have already surpassed the total cost of the last two years of firefighting in rural areas.

Most U.S. state economies seem to be rebounding this year. However, recovery from anticipated natural disasters could easily deplete their treasuries.  There is little that can be done to prevent hurricane destruction. However, states, as well as the federal government, could and should more to do to minimize the effects of man-made forest fires.

NOTE: As this goes to print, we learned that the winds changed and that the Black Forest fire is now 45 percent contained. However, this may not be over. Change in the wind could spark the embers and ignite new fires.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 3rd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From a new IISD Newsletter – “Sustainable Development in Action” (First year – Third issue).

Co-facilitators for Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals appointed.

The President of the General Assembly has appointed the Permanent Representatives of Hungary – Ambassador Csaba Korosi – and Kenya – Ambassador Macharia Kamau – as co-facilitators to prepare for the first meeting of the Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  In addition, as facilitators, the President of the General Assembly has also appointed H.E. Amb. Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti of Brazil in order to facilitate the transition from the Rio+20 or the June 2012 meeting that was run by Brazil, and Ambassador Dejan Sahovic as a Special liaison to Mr. Vuk Jeremic of Serbia – now President of the UN General Assembly. Last position before joining Mr. Jeremic in New York – Mr. Sahovic served as Ambassador of Serbia to Hungary (2008-2012)

Initially, they will facilitate consultations on the group’s leadership, agenda, and program of work and methods.

The first meeting of the OWG is currently expected to take place in mid-March 2013
(letter of appointment).

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In UN fashion – this process, started last Mid-June having not led to a UNGA decision at the 2012 General Assembly meeting is now being pushed to bring forward suggestions to the September 2013 UN General assembly meeting, but rather then establishing directly a committee of specialists – the above decision leads to a group of diplomats that will in turn have to bring in the specialists – thus guaranteeing the continuation of the non-functioning UN Commission on Sustainable Development, rather then replace it with a better functioning body. We tend to bet that eventually the dead CSD will be asked to show the way; above pace is a disappointment to those that thought finally there will be action at the UN on Sustainable Development.

Establishing SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals to replace the MDGs that run out in 2015, is laudable but it seems also pre-ordained that the time till 2015 is intentionally not put to good use.
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One of the main outcomes of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012, was the agreement by Member States to launch a process to develop a set of sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Rio+20 did not elaborate specific goals but stated that the SDGs should be limited in number, aspirational and easy to communicate.

The goals should address in a balanced way all three dimensions of sustainable development and be coherent with and integrated into the UN development agenda beyond 2015.

A 30-member Open Working Group (OWG) of the General Assembly is tasked with preparing a proposal on the SDGs.

The Open Working Group was established on 22nd of January 2013 by the decision of the General Assembly.

The Member States have decided to use an innovative, constituency-based system of representation that is new to limited membership bodies of the General Assembly. This means that most of the seats in the OWG are shared by several countries.

The Rio+20 outcome document The Future We Want states that, at the outset, the OWG will decide on its methods of work, including developing modalities to ensure the full involvement of relevant stakeholders and expertise from civil society, the scientific community and the United Nations system in its work, in order to provide a diversity of perspectives and experience.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 20th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Backpack farm targets growth in Africa – Meet the start-up that takes a compact approach to agriculture in Africa.

Company helping East African farmers go green
The for-profit startup Backpack Farm is selling backpacks containing seeds, training manuals, tools and green chemicals to small-scale farmers in East Africa at a deeply discounted price in an effort to improve crop yields. The founder, Rachel Zedeck, says her aim is “to impact the lives of a million farmers by 2017.”

The above is nothing less then a high tech revolution to solve the World Hunger misery. It starts with the cell phone electronics and beefs up the ego of a person who can see results from wanting to help himself.

Earning beets begging for hand-outs!

{This is our own comment – it also provides the honest answer to those in industrialized agriculture economies that contend you cannot use crops for fuel because people in africa are hungry. Face it – they are hungry because we in the West made them dependent on us by teaching that grains come from abroad while Rachel Zedeck does show them that grains are the result of their own work!}

The BBC – August 17, 2012 – and came to our attention via the UN Foundation.

 www.bbc.com/future/story/20120816…

 www.smartbrief.com/servlet/encode…

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“We’ve been called ‘the McDonald’s of farming’,” Rachel Zedeck says with a laugh. The former development worker is the founder of a start-up called Backpack Farm, which aims to help farmers in East Africa grow more crops, more food and ultimately earn money.

“The reality is that Africa is the breadbasket of the world, and in eastern and sub-Saharan Africa, the way to impact the vast majority of human beings is through farming,” she says.

It is a simple idea. The company sells smallholder farmers a backpack stuffed full of seeds, irrigation, “green” chemicals and tools along with training manuals and advise on how to farm efficiently. It can cost up to $2,000, but at that price also includes a drip irrigation kit and water tank. Backpack Farm says that while the cost might seem high, it’s one seventh of what those materials would cost commercially. And it claims that the pack, used properly, can double or triple crop yields.

The McDonalds moniker comes in because the company offers franchises, meaning Backpack Farm sales and training centres have sprouted in various cities and towns throughout Kenya hoping to tap into the estimated 100 million farmers in East Africa, and 27 million in Kenya alone.”My goal is to impact the lives of a million farmers by 2017,” says Zedeck.

Just to be clear: Backpack Farm is not targeting subsistence farmers. It’s most definitely a for-profit venture. “This is business, not aid,” Zedeck emphasizes. She is targeting the millions of commercial and semi-commercial farmers who own two to five acres of land, and earn between three and five thousand dollars a year. These are the folks, Zedeck says, who have the commitment and determination to improve yields, and who are already supplying local and export markets with their products.

The backpacks are the most eye-catching part of the idea, but the business is really built on agricultural training. The firm already offers 47 different classes on everything from conservation farming, to water management and soil fertility, along with specific instruction on growing more than two dozen different crops, including maize, sorghum and mangoes.

But Zedeck says she realized early on that to have the impact she wanted, she needed to find a way to make this information more widely available. And that meant using the tool many Kenyan farmers already held in their hands – a cell phone. Along with the NGO Mercy Corps, the firm built and trialled a text-based agricultural education platform called Kuza Doctor (Kuza is the Swahili word for “growing”).

It allows farmers using low-end phones to receive information via SMS, in English and Swahili, on growing 20 different crops. The tips are not doled out randomly. Users of the system begin by answering a series of questions: What do you want to grow? What is the soil like? Do you have water resources? As a farmer answers, he or she can then receive more specific information on things such as soil pH, composting, and drip irrigation.

“What we do is help farmers be better green farmers,” Zedeck says, noting that the company’s emphasis on environmentally friendly techniques.

‘Not sexy’

Kuza Doctor got a boost recently when it won the “Young Farmers Idea Contest” sponsored by Africa Rural Connect, an online project of the National Peace Corps Association that fosters collaborative thinking to generate ideas to help solve rural Africa’s greatest challenges. “I think it was the delivery method that appealed to me,” says Peter Laugharn, a seasoned aid worker and one of the judges of the contest. “You’ve got specialized knowledge in African countries, but it tends to be centred in the capital cities or a couple of provincial towns. Getting it out to people is the real challenge. So, [this is] a game-changer.”

Laugharn cites the system’s curriculum and structured messages as major selling points. Given the number of small farmers in the world, he sees potential for the system far beyond just East Africa.

“Hopefully it can set up a network between farmers themselves,” Laugharn says. “That’s the fastest way to spread a new idea or new uptake of technology.” The most important question Backpack Farms needs to answer, he says is this: Where are things going? In other words, what happens when smart phones replace feature phones as the best selling phones in Africa and what happens when data networks become more reliable across the continent?

“We should all be thinking about what’s down the curve,” Laugharn says.

And that’s exactly what Rachel Zedeck of Backpack Farms is doing.

She says she will plough the prize money from Africa Rural Connect into the development of the next phase of Kuza Doctor. The company is in the final phase of launching an Android app that Zedeck calls “a farming Bible.” It builds on the SMS-based system, but also offers pictures, video links and in-depth data to help rural farmers in Kenya. The app will cost $1.25 as a kind of starter kit with information on two crops. The full app, priced at $4.25, will have information on 26 crops, including nine indigenous ones. It will also feature a community section to allow farmers to connect with each other, and exchange information on prices. “There is a lot of untapped talent in Kenya,” she says.

Zedeck says that they hope to also sell the new Kuza Doctor tool in conjunction with an Android phone for around $75. That cost will include both the phone and the content for one year.

Future updates to the app, Zedeck says, will focus on providing small business training to farmers. There will also be a feature that allows farmers to take and upload pictures and videos (“AgTube”, she calls it) to let the community help diagnose pest and disease problems and showcase their work. And yes, says Zedeck, there will be a tablet version of the app as well eventually.

All that will require funding, of course. “Innovation is phenomenal,” says Zedeck, “but if it doesn’t scale then it’s meaningless.”

Long term, she says, an ad-funded model could work, with apps carrying adverts for products likely to appear to famers. But until that happens, she has been forced to use her own funds – including selling her house – to get the company up and running. She is also trying to drum up support from venture capitalists, but is finding it tough.

“We are not super sexy,” admits Zedeck. “We are funny little farming company in Kenya that’s launching a mobile tool that we believe is going to bring back the basics of a market-driven, demand economy.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 12th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

from: Sam Barratt – Avaaz.org

Middle Eastern kings and princes are about to force up to 48,000 people in Tanzania from their land to make way for corporate-sponsored big game hunting. But Tanzanian President Kikwete has shown before that he will stop deals like this when they generate negative press coverage. Deliver a media blitz that will push President Kikwete to stop the landgrab and save these Maasai.

At any moment, a big-game hunting corporation could sign a deal which would force up to 48,000 members of Africa’s famous Maasai tribe from their land to make way for wealthy Middle Eastern kings and princes to hunt lions and leopards. Experts say the Tanzanian President’s approval of the deal may be imminent, but if we act now, we can stop this sell-off of the Serengeti.

The last time this same corporation pushed the Maasai off their land to make way for rich hunters, people were beaten by the police, their homes were burnt to a cinder and their livestock died of starvation. But when a press controversy followed, Tanzanian President Kikwete reversed course and returned the Maasai to their land. This time, there hasn’t been a big press controversy yet, but we can change that and force Kikwete to stop the deal if we join our voices now.

If 150,000 of us sign, media outlets in Tanzania and around the world will be blitzed so President Kikwete gets the message to rethink this deadly deal. Sign the petition now and send to everyone:

www.avaaz.org/en/save_the_maasai_a/?biFBDab&v=17057

The Maasai are semi-nomadic herders who have lived in Tanzania and Kenya for centuries, playing a critical role in preserving the delicate ecosystem. But to royal families from the United Arab Emirates, they’re an obstacle to luxurious animal shooting sprees. A deal to evict the Maasai to make way for rich foreign hunters is as bad for wildlife as it is for the communities it would destroy. While President Kikwete is talking to favoured local elites to sell them on the deal as good for development, the vast majority of people just want to keep the land that they know the President can take by decree.

President Kikwete knows that this deal would be controversial with Tanzania’s tourists — a critical source of national income — and is therefore trying to keep it from the public eye. In 2009, a similar royal landgrab in the area executed by the same corporation that is swooping in this time generated global media coverage that helped to roll it back. If we can generate the same level of attention, we know the pressure can work.

A petition signed by thousands can force all the major global media bureaus in East Africa and Tanzania to blow up this controversial deal. Sign now to call on Kikwete to kill the deal:

www.avaaz.org/en/save_the_maasai_a/?biFBDab&v=17057

Representatives from the Maasai community today urgently appealed to Avaaz to raise the global alarm call and save their land. Time and again, the incredible response from this amazing community turns seemingly lost causes into legacies that last a lifetime. Lets protect the Maasai and save the animals for tourists that want to shoot them with camera lenses, rather than lethal weapons!

With hope and determination,

Sam, Meredith, Luis, Aldine, Diego, Ricken and the rest of the Avaaz team

For More Information:

The Guardian: “Tourism is a curse to us”
www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/sep/06/masai-tribesman-tanzania-tourism

News Internationalist Magazine: “Hunted down”
www.newint.org/columns/currents/2009/12/01/tanzania/

Society for Threatened People: Briefing on the eviction of the Loliondo Maasai
lib.ohchr.org/HRBodies/UPR/Documents/session12/TZ/STP-SocietyThreatenedPeople-eng.pdf

FEMACT: Report by 16 human rights investigators & media on violence in Loliondo
www.pambazuka.org/en/category/advocacy/58956/print

Voices of Loliondo: Short film from Loliondo on impact of eviction on Maasai
vimeo.com/35311385

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 8th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

INSIDE THE RINGS

For One Kenyan Olympian, Throwing Beats Running

Doug Mills/The New York Times

For part of this year, Julius Yego trained in Finland, where the javelin means perhaps as much as distance running does in Kenya.

By 
Published by The New York Times: August 7, 2012

LONDON — Kenya has sent 44 track and field athletes to the London Games. Forty-three are runners who aspire to win gold medals from 800 meters to the marathon. The other is Julius Yego, javelin thrower.

On Wednesday night, Yego, 23, will try to qualify for the championship round of throws. It will be a historic moment. Kenya had never before entered the Olympic javelin competition. Yego is the African champion. Surely he is one of the few competitors who began throwing with a stick and learned the nuances of his craft by watching fellow athletes on YouTube.

A distance of 82 meters, or 269 feet, would automatically put Yego into the Olympic finals on Saturday. A shorter distance may also put him into the championship round if he finishes among the top dozen qualifiers. He is considered a long shot. There have been 100 throws in the world farther this year than Yego’s career best, set last month, of 266 feet 2 inches. He is the smallest Olympic javelin competitor at 5-foot-9, 189 ½ pounds. But he is here and he is Kenya’s first in the Summer Games.

“Making the final would be my main dream,” Yego said in a recent interview in the athletes’ village. “It is important for my country. Just being here is a glorious thing.”

He has surpassed the distance — 80 meters, or 262-5 — that confers legitimacy on an athlete in his event. For part of this year, Yego trained in Finland, where the javelin means perhaps as much as distance running does in Kenya.

“In Finland, if you throw 80 meters, you are a javelin thrower,” Yego said. “Below that you are just another guy.”

In Kenya, everyone but Yego is just another guy. There are only a few elite javelin throwers. And only a few elite javelins, Yego and officials said. Three, maybe four. They are available for use only at two stadiums in Nairobi, the capital. For one thing, a top-flight javelin can cost $450 to $1,000. Kenya also lacks the gyms needed for weight training and the coaches who can provide technical expertise.

Running is a natural movement that can be done barefoot. But a javelin requires proper equipment and the rehearsed precision of a proper hold, run-up and launch. Technique is more important than simple strength.

“If we could bring the javelin to the rural areas, we could have very many good throwers,” said Peter Angwenyi, a spokesman for the Kenyan Olympic team. “But the equipment is costly. You need gyms and specialty training and coaches. We don’t have them.”

Yego is a Nandi, a subset of the Kalenjin ethnic group, sometimes called Kenya’s running tribe. When he arrives at competitions, people occasionally assume that because he is from Kenya, he must be a runner. He has tried the 100 meters and cross country but said he much preferred the javelin. Everyone runs in Kenya, he said, “but not everyone can win, not everyone can go to the Olympics.”

His brother threw for a time, Yego said, and he followed in elementary school, using sticks instead of actual javelins. In high school in the village of Kapsabet, he began to get more serious in 2003, drawing regional, then national, promise. In 2004, Yego was intrigued by the javelin at the Athens Olympics. In 2005, he said, his school’s only javelin broke and a geography teacher bought a replacement for him. A year later, he set a Kenyan national junior record with a throw of 71 meters, or 232-11.

He was eventually recruited and sponsored by the Kenyan national police, which provided a job and time to train. At the 2011 All-Africa Games, Yego won a gold medal, Kenya’s first in a continental meet, with a national record of 78.34 meters, or 257 feet. Lacking elite-level coaching, Yego sometimes turned to YouTube to watch the technique of such stars as Jan Zelezny of the Czech Republic, the three-time Olympic champion and world-record holder at 98.48 meters, or 323-1; Andreas Thorkildsen of Norway, the two-time and reigning Olympic champion; and Tero Pitkamaki, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist from Finland.

“I had to watch videos to see what these people are doing,” Yego said. “They are my role models.”

This year, he was invited to spend about two months training at an indoor/outdoor facility in Kuortane, Finland, which is sponsored by the I.A.A.F., track and field’s world governing body, and is considered a spiritual home of the sport. Launching the javelin has been described by Chris Turner, a writer and expert on the event, as a reflection of the quietude in Finnish culture and a metaphor of escape from the country’s interminable winters.

Describing his fascination with the event, Yego said: “It’s how the javelin flies. When you release it and it flies high, you know it is going far. You say to yourself, ‘Please don’t let it come down.’ I can feel it in my hand that I have hit it right.”

In April, he won the Kenyan championship and broke his national record with a throw of 79.95 meters, or 262-3, reaching the Olympic B qualifying standard. Last month, at a competition in Finland, he smashed the Kenyan record again with his career best of 81.12 meters, or 266-2.

On Wednesday, Yego will carry his javelin into the Olympic Stadium, hoping that adrenaline and technique and the swell of the crowd will carry his best throw beyond 269 feet, putting him in the final. But the experience will be as important as the result.

“It is something you will never forget in your life,” Yego said. “I went for the Olympics.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 8th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Professor Uriel Safriel of the Center for Environmental Conventions, Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Sede Boqer Campus, Israel – said June 2012 at the Rio Convention in talks about FEED THE WORLD AND PROTECT THE PLANET, that The three Rio Conventions are expected to Jointly protect the ENVIRONMENT So it can support the other two pillars Of sustainable development – The ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL PILLARS.

Protecting the Land from Degradation is major part of the effort to feed the World.

Rio 1992 – by establishing the three Conventions dealing basically with topics – on Climate, Biodiversity, and Desertification Avoidance – has created a backdrop for the environment so it forms a solid pillar to help the tripod on which was planned to seat Planet Earth in our pedicure efforts of Sustainable Development.

The three Conventions provided an opportunity for Synergism between them and as the developing countries were demanding, when built into environment theory and practice – will thus enable us all to talk productively about the Social and Economic Pillars of Sustainability.

The Conventions are thus critical to achieve development and poverty eradication.

On Sede Boqer Campus, The Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel is running a series of conferences, every other year, started in 2006 – A Conference on the Challenges and the Potential of Developing Arid Lands, Sede Boqer, Israel, November 6-9, 2006.

The Second International Conference – “The Drylands, Deserts, and Desertification Conferences” was  December 14-17, 2008.

In 2010 there was The Third International Conference on Drylands, Deserts, and Desertification at The Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Sede Boqer, Israel – November 8-11, 2010. That ended up with:

This year there will be the fourth conference in the series – and it will be a post-RIO+20 Conference:

Fourth International Conference on Drylands, Deserts and Desertification: Implementing Rio+20 for Drylands and Desertification – 12-15 November 2012. www.desertification.bgu.ac.il

Former Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Israel Eliashiv,  is involved in policy issues at the University and in following changes at the UN.

The Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, along with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the Israeli Foreign Ministry, are orgainzing the Fourth International Conference on Drylands, Deserts and Desertification (DDD). This conference will gather scientists, field workers, industry representatives, government workers, civil society organizations, international development aid agencies and other stakeholders from over 60 countries to discuss issues related to land degradation in the drylands, and their sustainable use and development. The 2012 conference will focus on the outcome of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) and will consider the science required for implementing the UNCSD’s recommendations relevant to drylands and desertification. Local case studies will be highlighted alongside success stories from around the world with an emphasis on indicators of progress. Additional sessions will be held considering a broad range of topics associated with sustainable living in the drylands and the means to address desertification, as well as achieving the target of zero net rate of land degradation. Registration opens on 1 April and the abstract submission deadline is 17 June.

dates: 12-15 November 2012   venue: Sede Boqer campus of Ben Gurion University   location: Israel   additional: Sede Boqer   contact: Dorit Korine, Conference Coordinator   phone: +972 (8) 659 6781   fax: +972 (8) 659 6772  e-mail: desertification@bgu.ac.il www: www.desertification.bgu.ac.il/

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Further, we think appropriate to mention that while the Israelis are working on Arid and Semi-Arid Lands policy, they in effect are very much involved in disseminating technologies that Israel developed years ago and continues to develop today.

China is a ready made customer, as Africa was in past years.

Our web-site has followed Mr. Raanan Katzir in projects he did in various parts of the World – and today he is focused on China. We just updated the posting about him as we got an inquiry from Africa, and we realized that we neglected for a while the management of dry lands.      http://www.sustainabilitank.info/#10181


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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 23rd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The 2012 Knight Award Winners.

May 22, 2012
Contact: Sonja Matanovic, Communications Director
Reporters Exposing Somali Pirates and Domestic Violence in Afghanistan to Receive Prestigious Journalism Award
A Kenyan journalist investigating the Somali pirates and an Afghan broadcaster exposing violence against women will receive the 2012 Knight International Journalism Awards, the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) announced. The award recognizes excellent reporting that makes a difference in the lives of people around the world.
Kassim Mohamed is an investigative reporter covering Kenya and Somalia, a nation plagued by lawlessness and piracy. He has chronicled the ensuing chaos in great detail—and at great personal risk—for the Nairobi-based Star FM radio station and The Starnewspaper.
His in-depth interviews with Somali pirates have shed light on a lucrative industry that endangers international sea routes. During one investigation, the pirates took him hostage. After they freed him, he wrote a groundbreaking story on the struggles of the pirates’ wives. He has received death threats.
A Kenyan of the Somali ethnic community, Mohamed covered the beleaguered Somali refugees living in Nairobi. He wrote about gangs that terrorized a Somali neighborhood in Nairobi as the police apparently looked the other way. After the story appeared, the police arrested 65 gang members.
Afghan broadcaster Sami Mahdi has revolutionized Afghanistan’s media landscape. In a country where the Taliban once starved people of information, Mahdi is one of the most reliable sources of news. More than that, he has engaged Afghans in a way no other newscaster has.
As the director of news and current affairs at 1TV, Afghanistan’s fastest-growing independent news station, he has pioneered programs such as “Kabul Debate Live,” a televised town hall meeting. In this show, he invites political leaders to appear before a live audience. For the first time, citizens can ask questions about critical issues, while viewers can phone or text in their concerns. It is one of the few ways Afghans can demand accountability from those in power.
Mahdi is unafraid to take on taboo subjects. In an effort to stop violence against women, he launched the show “Niqab” (Mask). Afghan women, hiding behind a mask, talk to a live audience about rape and domestic violence. The masks encourage women to speak without fear of reprisals.
The winners of this year’s award, sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, will be honored at ICFJ’s Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 13. “These fearless journalists expose abuses despite the risk of violence from Somali pirates and the Taliban,” says ICFJ President Joyce Barnathan. “As a result, they have changed minds—and policies.”
Seasoned journalists and Knight International Journalism Fellows nominated the candidates. They include:
  • Elizabeth Ballantine, ICFJ director and director, The McClatchy Company;
  • Jacqueline Barnathan, executive editor, CBS Newspath;
  • Christopher Isham, vice president and Washington bureau chief, CBS News;
  • Rob Doherty, U.S. general manager, Thomson Reuters;
  • Doug Mitchell, consultant and project manager, National Public Radio and former Knight International Journalism Fellow;
  • Rob Rehg, ICFJ director and president, Edelman, Washington;
  • Andrew Stephen, British journalist;
  • Susan Talalay, ICFJ advisory board member and former director, Knight International Journalism Fellowships;
  • and ICFJ’s Barnathan.

The International Center for Journalists, a non-profit organization, promotes quality journalism worldwide in the belief that independent, vigorous media are crucial in improving the human condition. For 27 years, ICFJ has worked directly with more than 70,000 journalists from 180 countries.
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. More atwww.knightfoundation.org.
1616 H Street NW Floor 3 | Washington, DC 20006 US

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 28th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Somalia interests us for quite some time. While other African States came into existence in the post W0rld War II decolonization process within the lines established by the colonial power, and with an inherited administrative system, and  for the better or worse,they  managed somehow to make a go with it, Somalia was actually created by incorporating different colonial systems into one attempted State that had thus many added different fault lines besides the usual divisions into tribal loyalties – in land and trans-boundary. Here you have even different colonial languages and no single Administrative Center.

Being a failed State near the Sea, and having had to start to fight illegal fishing that was interfering with the local fishermen, fighting fishermen started by safeguarding their tribal waters and ended up turning to piracy when this evolved as a profitable secondary line of business.

While the outside World, after having invaded the Somalia region in the past as the Horn of Africa was suspected of becoming an Al Kaeda hub in the post 9/11 era, now it is the piracy pest that endangers World Shipping in the  whole Indian Ocean region stretching from the Maldives to Seychelles and Madagascar and the shores of the Arabian Peninsula and East Africa.

We will start by looking at the news, then we intend to introduce a book that we feel ought to be obligatory reading for all those that gather at meetings that deal with Somalia. Not having read the proposed book, we see that much of what is being released from the new Conferences on Somalia, does not live up to what it will take to have an effect in that part of the World.

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From the Statement by the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom at the Security Council Briefing on Somalia Piracy – 22 February 2012:

Mr President,

I thank the Secretary-General for his report and both Patricia O’Brien and Yuri Fedotov for their comprehensive briefing this morning. We are grateful for the work of the UN and its agencies on counter-piracy programmes, and particularly the efforts being undertaken by UNODC and UNDP with States in the region and in Somalia itself.

The United Kingdom remains strongly committed to the fight against piracy. We believe it is vital to break the Piracy business model. We need a comprehensive approach that tackles piracy directly and its root causes on land. Piracy will be one of the main focuses of discussion at the London Conference on Somalia which my Prime Minister will host tomorrow.

Despite the significant reduction in the number of successful attacks in the last year, the threat of piracy remains serious. We strongly support efforts to bolster prosecution and prison capacity in regional states and in Somalia. Several states already play a vital role in bringing suspected pirates to justice, supported by the international community.

The report highlights serious capacity constraints in Somalia. Prosecution by regional states has, therefore, been instrumental in the efforts to counter-piracy. We believe this continues to be the most effective way to prosecute pirates over the short term. We support, in principle, the report’s implementation proposals to increase capacity through ‘specialised anti-piracy courts’ in Somalia but continuing our work to build the capacity of regional states also remains essential.

Mr President,

The Report reaffirms the preference of regional States that we should build capacity in a way that does not prevent facilities and expertise being used to prosecute in other areas of the law. We agree that this would help create a more sustainable solution to the piracy problem.

A long term solution that enables Somali pirates to be prosecuted and imprisoned in Somalia is necessary. The report notes the preference of the Somali authorities for new courts to be established within Somalia rather than extra-territorially. This approach is in line with the existing work of UNODC and UNDP to build capacity in Puntland and Somaliland and we fully support that approach.

Mr President,

The report rightly highlights the problem of prison capacity. In this regard, we welcome recent efforts to ensure that convicted pirates serve out their sentences in Somalia, and in particular the commitments made by Puntland and Somaliland for post-trial transfer. We hope that agreement on the legal and practical framework for transferring pirates to UN-constructed prisons in Somalia is reached quickly. We are grateful for the commitment of Seychelles to transfer convicted pirates to Somaliland.

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Mr President   ……. The threat of piracy, the effects of the famine in Somalia, and terrorism are all symptoms of one central problem: The breakdown of the Somali state. Tackling piracy and its causes cannot be separated from this. We need to tackle the factors on land that feed the piracy at sea including deterrence, security, rule of law, and development.  It is crucial that the international community mobilizes in an integrated way.

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And the UK is ready to take on the problem in the name of the better organized world – but it will be able to do so only after the Presidential elections in the US.

It cannot be ecpected that President Obama, and his Administration, can take up the demon of Afro-Arabian pirates, or the undoing of the Islamic world by Islamists and pseudo-Islamists bent on revenge-taking against former colonial powers, and against their own brethren governments – something that some may call a late awakening of pent hatred with historic roots.

Building towards an involvement in the greater region that stretches from the Maldives, the Seychelles, to Aden and the Horn  of Africa’s Greater Somalia, the UK follows up with a call for joint action towards the later part of November 2012 – that is after the US elections:

1.    On February 22, 2012, the Prime Minister David Cameron of the UK  announced a Conference on Somalia to be held in London on November 23, 2012.

The conference will be hosted at Lancaster House. The conference will be opened  Prime Minister Cameron, with key note speeches from; US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton; UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon; President of Somalia, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed;  President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni; Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi; French Foreign Minister, Allan Juppé; President of Kenya, Mwai Kibaki; Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davuto?lu; and Qatari Foreign Affairs Minister, Hamad Bin Jassim. Opening remarks will be released through a press pool organised by the BBC and CNN.

2.    After the early morning opening remarks, the conference will be split into three sessions: political process, security, and stability and recovery. The conference will end same day at 15.30.

3. The UK’s primary objective in Somalia is to seek a lasting political solution that will bring peace and security to the country, and reduce threats to the UK. With engagement from attendees at the highest level, the conference will agree a series of practical measures to support Somalia.

4.    The Somalia Conference will be followed by press conferences at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, led by the Prime Minister with statements from UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon; Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Jean Ping; the US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton; and President of Somalia Sheikh Sharif Ahmed.

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What above means is that the PIRACY hurts us and we are ready to put the Somalis in jail for being pirates – how many of them? Why are they pirates? How many more parts of African States could fall off their own structures into failed regions because they actually never belonged into States that the UN designed for them based on foreign administrative concepts?

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Brigadier  General Dr. Walter Feichtinger is Head of the Institute for Peace Support and Conflict Management (IFC), Austrian National Defense Academy. With him there is a group of other military scientists and academic social scientists and historians, that look at Peace as something that is not self evident but rather has to be groomed.

First I saw an April 2010 booklet of the IFK titled “PIRATES AND ISLAMISTS – WHO IS INTERESTED IN SOMALI?”

Then a full volume, Volume #^ in a series, came to my attention when I went to a meeting of the IFK.  The Volume is in German and the title simple – “SOMALIA.”

The authors are listed as Walter Feichinger and Gerald Hainzl as editors, and inside are chapters by many other researchers: Volker Mathies, Thomas Zittelman, Markus Virgil Hoehne, David Petrovic, Georg Sebastian Holzer,Martin Pabst, Thomas Peyker, Frank Reininghaus, Bruno Guenter Hofbauer, Stefan Lampl,  and Annette  Weber, All of this in just 299 pages.  This volume was released the end of 2011 by the Boehlau Publishrs of Vienna, Koeln, and Weimar.

Comments in the book that convinced us to recommend the reading of this multi-source study before one tacles the problems od Somalia:

1. Looking at the Al-Shabab fighters – the “Radical” groups look for their base in religion, but are not religiously motivated. They rather see in religion the path to obtain power.

2. The Republic of Somaliland is completely independent since 1991 and like it this way, Puntland is also independent of the rest, but they would prefer to be part of a Somalia if that eill be possible some day.

What still carries the name of Somalia is the city of Mogadishu where sits a UN sponsored government, and the rest that is outside any government ruled land.

3. The old division of the Horn included the rule of Ethiopia 0ver Somali Ogaden, the UK held onto the North East Somaliland and the North-East parts of Kenya that is populated Somalis. then there were an italian Somaliland and a French Somaliland that stretched into Djibouti which is now separate of Somalia. All this developed a North-South antagonism and an Ethiopian-Somali conflict/

4. Between 1963 – 1977 there was a US-Aethiopia alliance that brought to life a Somali-USSR counter-alliance. With the Aetiopian revolution of 1974 and the establishing of a marxist regime there, this turned the US towards Somalia in order to balance the Soviets. It would be unrealistic to think that any of this presented real interest in the Somalis – and don’t wonder thus that they were ready to ditch any foreign power as a result.

5. Somalia’s coast was seen a fre for all and hundreds of illegal fishing boats operated in its waters all the time. The Somalis developed a system to get rid of some og these boats and saw that by robbing those boats good money can be made beyond fishing. With the backing of local War Loards, Piracy was thus born.

6. In the 1990s,a clan leader, Mohamad Farah Aidid thought a return to the idilic past when pastoralists lived in a reasonable democracy. The democratic autonomy ideal returned as a justification for violence.

7. There are 8-9 million people in the Somaliland, Puntland, the remaining Somalia. There are further 4 million people in the neughboring counties of Ethiopia, Djibuti and Kenia, and an additional 1 million in a further away diaspora that stretches to Europe and America, australia, New Zealand, and Asia. some have done very well in the diaspora and support the people back home.When they come home they demand modern conditions, and Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland sports modern establishments. There is no way that the Diaspora – village oriented – will agree to the unification of the separate parts of Somalia. The West and Africa will have to accept the notion that you cannot force people to live in one country if they feel that this is nottheir heritage.

8. The one year that the anti-piratery ATALANTA project was active in the waters of Somalia, made it clear that the PAG – Pirate Action Group needs a new set of rules of engagement. Take their fish catch and their food and water beyond what is needed to get back to the nearest shore — do not take them as prisoners – you might not know what to do with them when you haul them in.

9. A pirate is a pirate only when he commits an act of piracy = otherwise he might just be a fisherman or transfer refugees. The same person might have different roles on a given day,

10. Most African States include parts that would prefer independence or at least a “leave me alone approach.” Taking for granted  the secession attitude of the African Union will do nothing for the struggling Somalis who in major part where basically camel herders living in an un-hospitable dry land as nomads. The clashes with agriculturalists where normal – clashing with unwanted government is worse. The colonial powers did not touch this aspect of the local life as they were interested only in the shore areas as bases for navigation and trade.

I will stop here in order not to write a new version of the book – will rather recommend – you read it by yourselves.

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The other books in the Walter Feichtinger / Boehlau IFC  series so far are:

#1 –  Islam, Islamism, and Extremism. (This book was seemingly withdrawn)

#2 –  Private Security- and Military-Corporations. (These as it happened in Iraq, Bosnia-Herzegowina, Afghanistan, They fly planes, interrogate prisoners etc. – but at what price?)

#3 –  crisis management in Africa.

#4 –  No Enemy in Sight. (This is a book about wars inside society rather then with a foreign enemy.)

#5 –  Global Security – EUropean Potentials. (see the novel spelling when dealing with the European Union!)


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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 25th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The 12th Special Session of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GCSS-12/GMEF) took place at the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON), Kenya, from 20-22 February 2012. The ministerial consultations during the 12th Special Session focused on emerging policy issues under the overall theme of “The environmental agenda in the changing world: From Stockholm (1972) to Rio (2012).”

Close to 1000 people participated – representing more than 100 governments, as well as intergovernmental organizations, UN agencies, and Major Groups and other stakeholders, attended the meeting.

The GCSS-12/GMEF concluded its work by adopting eight decisions on: “UNEP at 40; ” international environmental governance (IEG); world environmental situation; sustainable consumption and production (SCP); consultative process on financing options for chemicals and wastes; enhancing cooperation and coordination with the chemicals and wastes cluster; budget and programme of work including financial and administrative arrangements between UNEP and the multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs); and enhanced coordination across the UN system, including the Environment Management Group (EMG).

As a result of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment (1972), the UN General Assembly, in its resolution 2997 (XXVII) of 1972, established the UN Environment Programme in Nairobi – UNEP –  as the central UN node for global environmental cooperation and treaty making. The resolution also established the UNEP GC  (Governing Council) to provide a forum for the international community to address major and emerging environmental policy issues. The GC’s responsibilities include the promotion of international environmental cooperation and the recommendation of policies to achieve it, and the provision of policy guidance for the direction and coordination of environmental programmes in the UN system.

The UNEP GC reports to the UN General Assembly, which also elects the GC’s 58 members for four-year terms, taking into account the principle of equitable regional representation.

The Global Ministerial Environment Forum – GMEF –  is constituted by the GC as envisaged in UN General Assembly resolution 53/242. The purpose of the GMEF is to institute, at a high political level, a process for reviewing important and emerging policy issues in the field of the environment.

The UNEP GC/GMEF met 20-22 FEBRUARY 2012 at the UNEP Gigiri Center near Nairobi in order to review the 40 years of UN environmental activities since Stockholm 1972 and the establishing of the UNEP, and to evaluate the road to the upcoming Rio 2012 meeting that will be viewed as the official review of 40 years of UN involvement in environment policy decision making. The meeting  that just ended at Gigiri gives us as well the best preview of what to expect at Rio 2012.

The Earth Negotiations Bulletin, an IISD Reporting Service that is the lifeblood of UN information needed to keep the intergovernmental system running when discussing environmental and development issues reports:

Many delegates leaving the plenary hall in Gigiri felt that the meeting had taken an important step in clarifying the GC/GMEF’s position in the run up to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio+20), while others expressed disappointment that concrete guidance for the environmental pillar of the sustainable development agenda was not achieved. The session also highlighted prevailing divergence among delegations on elements of both the main UNCSD themes: elevating the status of UNEP to a specialized agency and the concept of the green economy.

Sustainable Development as defined in OUR COMMON WORLD of the Brundtland Commission of 1987 – or if you wish Stockholm+15 was a tripod with three legs = An Environment leg, A Social Development leg, and an Economic Development leg. The feeling now at the UNEP meeting was that in effect the environment is being left out of the Rio 2012 meeting and that it will not follow in the steps of the Rio 1992 meeting or if you wish the Stockholm+20 event – the half life of UNEP.

Further, it is expected that the present UN Environment Programme will be pushed up and out by replacing it with a full fledged UN agency that will hence look at the Environment as something separate from UN activities rather then as an integral part of all UN activities as understood by the meaning of Programme. Up to now, the main difficulty with UNEP was that it was located away from the UN financial centers in New York and Geneva. That problem clearly will not be addressed by moving the new Environment UN agency to one of those centers instead. We do not believe that a suggestion can be made to take it away from Kenya or Africa, so here you have instead of an upgrade, in effect a further distancing effect of the Environment from the UN.

The other expected outcome from what the UN calls the UNCSD – or the conference on Sustainable Development is the design of hope for a future GREEN ECONOMY loaded with Social Development targets of fighting poverty.That in itself is in our opinion a laudable target, but in many aspects it is rather a Brudtland+25, or a re-inventing the wheel, concept as in effect all of what is being suggested was already part of the forgoten product of the Rio Earth Summit of 1992 – THE AGENDA 21.

For a full review of the Girgiri meeting please see:  https://mail.google.com/mail/?ui=2&ik=240ce33fbb&view=lg&msg=135b2bc6c1f2d8ae


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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 9th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)




The UNCCD tenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP10) gets underway this morning, Monday, 10 October 2011, in Changwon City, Republic of Korea.

This major conference will be attended by some 5,000 people, including the 194 Parties to the Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

There are also a large number of other events taking place involving civil society and other organizations.

It comes just four weeks after the United Nations General Assembly special session in New York, where more than 100 heads of states, heads of government or heads of delegation addressed the issues of desertification land degradation and drought (DLDD) in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication. This sent a clear message about the global threat from desertification, land degradation and drought. World leaders committed to increased international cooperation to combat desertification at all levels.

The outcomes of the COP will be of interest to every single issue debated now in the world – this because the arid lands of the world arw such a chunk of the underdeveloped world – not just of the oil rich member states of the UN.

Interesting that the meeting was set up in the home state of he UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. This may get us to think that no more appropriate location was found because the places where aridity is the familiar state of affairs just do not have trust in the UN that it will eventually help them.

Let us hope thus that the States that are not coursed with aridity will be ready to open their purses to help – not just to set up conferences that help their tourism by filling empty hotels.

The announcement also says that “There will also be the launch of new initiatives which will be of particular interest to news outlets.” This gets us to think that the approach taken by the UN is to entice news outlets rather then governments and businesses that could help.  BUT THEN – THE UN MAIN OFFICE IN NEW YORK – THE PRESENT SECRETARIAT’S DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC INFORMATION – CHASES AWAY THE MOST APPROPRIATE NEWS OUTLETS – THOSE INTERESTED IN SUSTAINABILITY – UNDER A UN WAY – UNDER UNSG BAN KI-MOON – OF DECIDING WHAT IS PRESS –  THAT SEES IN SUSTAINABILITY AN ISSUE APPROPRIATE FOR NGOs AND NOT AS MEDIA. So, this sort of information disseminators can come with the NGOs but will not have access to what the appropriate professional agency would like to pass on to media. Oh Well – this is the UN to you!


Here is a link to the COP 10 e-media kit
www.unccd.int/cop/cop10/docs/COP10%20MEDIA%20KIT.zip

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 12th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Vienna papers this past week, this weekend, and today, Monday, September 12, 2011, are full with reporting of events from the US and studies via analysis interpreting the global situation looking at how these last 10 years have changed the US position in the world.

One such group of studies appeared in Der Standard – www.oiip.ac.at/fileadmin/Unterlag… – authored by Professor Heinz Gärtner,  of he OEIIP – The Austrian Institute for International Affairs translate.google.com/translate?hl…

The weekend Der Standard had whole sections about 9/11. The other papers might have had less in quantity but also came up with interesting articles – Die Presse i.e. had an article by Erich Kocina who spoke with Anas Schakfeh, then the head of Islam in Austria, who immediately in 2001 stated – “This is not good for Muslims.”

Anyway, today, the Monday after the memorials, “Heute” had on its front page “WIR WEINEN MIT NEW YORK” – WE CRY WITH NEW YORK.

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At the UN enclave at the Vienna International Center the memorial was held only today – Monday. It was in the Rotunda – the round area from which radiate the corridors to the ‘Alphabet Buildings.”  The topic:

“Commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the 11 September Attacks United Nations Vienna Office Honours Victims of Terrorism.” – that is terrorism in general not just 9/11.

To be crystal clear – the UN says: “All the victims of terrorism worldwide are being remembered in a special event at the United Nations in Vienna today.”

Fair enough for an international organization where some Member States either do not believe that the acts of terror of 9/11 were committed by Islamic Radicals, or their hatred of the US is open for all to see anyway. Having said this, we add nevertheless that I found the event in good taste and rather with acceptable honesty. I also include the posting of the speech by the US Ambassador who also had no problem with delving into all other acts of terrorism because the reaction to these acts is what binds us together these days. The terrorists are the outcasts!

On one side of the Rotunda there were eleven panels holding each the picture of the front page of a journal dated September 12, 2001 – with screaming photos and titles of the atrocity that was committed against the United States.

In front of that series of panels there was the speakers’ stand, and in front of the stand a map that showed the countries that had citizens among the nearly 3,000 people killed on 9/11. On the lower part of that map there was the list of 90 countries that lost citizens of their own on that day.

I have heard the number 90 before – I was familiar with it – but I never saw this in a map form. I looked at the map and was amazed – trust me that I do not make this up.

FROM AMONG THE 22 MEMBER STATES OF THE ARAB LEAGUE – ONLY EGYPT AND YEMEN LOST PEOPLE THAT DAY AS VICTIMS!

The whole MAGHREB, Sudan, All The GULF STATES, The whole Muslim part of the Horn of Africa – all of these States – not a single victim. Yes – we know that the perpetrators were mainly  from Saudi Arabia, with a sprinkle from the UAE (2), Lebanon (1) and Egypt (1) – I just saw their faces again courtesy of Der Standard – let them turn in their ashes.

We know that many of the States mentioned had oil business and financial dealings at the World Trade Center. They had trainees and professionals on banks’ staff – how were they so lucky not to be there at the T-time? I wonder if it will ever be possible to explain this simple coincidence.? Having shown that map – we consider it an act of courage of the UN.

To repeat one more time – the fact that nobody from Antarctica, Greenland, Mongolia, The Small Island States of the Pacific, or the African Sahel was among those killed at the World Trade Center or the Pentagon is clear, but how is it that in the whole expanse of the MENA (Middle East-North Africa) countries – it is only Egypt, Yemen, Ethiopia, and Kenya that had victims of 9/11?

The UN release says that there were “more then 2,800 victims” from “over 70 countries.” The facts are www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-…  – there are close to 3,000 names on the new memorial – to be exact 2,996 – and to be sure – these names do NOT include the hijackers. Further, the map/list that  I saw had 10 columns of names of States with 9 names in each column – and 9X10 = 90. I hope the UN New York – takes notice.

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The event was chaired by Mr. Janos Tisovszky,  Director of Information Service at UNOV, and it was mainly in the hands of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which is the largest tenant of the VIC.

Mr. Tisovsxky said that the meeting intends to honor the victims and to express solidarity against terrorism. He noted that the Directors General and the other heads of the UN institutions headquartered in Vienna, sit literally shoulder to shoulder with the US Ambassador.

The Opening speaker was Mr. Yury Fedotov, Director-General of UNOV and Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

He was followed by Mr. Yukiya Amano, Director General IAEA, and Mr. Tibor Toth, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban- Treaty Organization (CTBTO).

The Closing remarks were made by US Ambassador Gkyn Davies who was actually the initiator of the event.

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Mr. Fedotov said that the terrorists who carried out the “senseless, criminal” attacks on the United States that day did not succeed in destroying the common bonds of humanity – on the contrary, they made them stronger.   “All countries, all peoples were united in their condemnation of this atrocity,” he said.  “We are all united by our common rejection of terrorism which finds no sanctuary in any nationality, any religion nor any legitimate political philosophy.” He noted that the UN fights terrorism with projects like the MDGs to give people aspirations for a good life. We want to encourage people living by the rule of law and reject terrorism.

As terrorist acts continue to be a serious threat to peace and security around the world, Mr. Fedotov stressed that more needs to be done to combat this global scourge, especially through enhanced international cooperation and exchange of information.  He also drew attention to the links between terrorism and trans-national organized crime with criminal profits increasingly finding their way to support terrorism.

Mr. Fedotov honored specifically the memory of all the  23 people recently killed, and many more injured, in the bombing of the UN office in Abuja, Nigeria.  Eleven of those killed were UN colleagues.

Mr. Amano said: As the IAEA works to protect the world against the risk of nuclear terrorism, he renewed his pledge that nuclear security will remain a high priority throughout his tenure as Director General.Mr.Toth went on enlarging the list of past acts of terrorism – Paris, London, Mumbai, Moscow, … Abuja.

Ambassador Davies continued painting this larger picture of terrorism in order to reach the conclusion that we must be united.

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Remarks by US Ambassador Glyn Davies:

September 12, 2011
Vienna International Centre


Directors General Fedotov and Amano, Executive Secretary Toth, and indeed all the heads of the international organizations who are present this afternoon, I thank you for participating in this commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.  Mr. Yumkella, Dr. Othman, welcome.

And, to all of you: Excellencies, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends, thank you all for taking the time today to join us for this simple, solemn event.  Ten years ago yesterday, nearly three thousand people from more than ninety countries died in New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.  We come together today to honor their memory.

We also assemble today to remember and honor the victims of terrorism everywhere in the world.  We gather to mark our unity of purpose in confronting and countering any and all who seek to achieve political or religious ends through the senseless slaughter of innocent men, women, and children.

New York, and America, were struck ten years ago, but terrorism affects us all.  The list of nations recovering from terrorist attacks is long.  I say “recovering”, for indeed we, the nations and people of the world, have proven resilient.  What terrorists destroy, we rebuild, we re-consecrate, we rededicate.

After the 2002 Bali bombings, Indonesia demonstrated its resilience by holding a festival to commemorate the victims on the very beach where so many were slaughtered.  Madrid re-built its train station after the 2004 atrocities that killed nearly 200 injured more than 1000.  By the first anniversary of the London transit attacks that killed 52 in 2005, the transit system had been fully returned to normal.  In the United States, the collapse of the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center laid waste to a large swath of Lower Manhattan.  And yet, by May of 2002, mere months later, the clean-up of the site was completed.  Today, a shining new edifice, One World Trade Center, is reaching up into New York’s skyline, and will soon claim its rightful place as the tallest building in North America.

But of course this isn’t about buildings, it’s about the people.  The children of those who died on September 1, 2001, are growing up.  Families have found the strength to cope with their grief, and indeed have formed networks to assist one another and other victims of terrorism.  And just as communities have come together to support those in need following terrorist attacks, the same is happening around the world.

From Bali to Beslan, Athens to Amman, Kigali to Kampala, people of all faiths from the four corners of the globe have united in their resolve to condemn terrorism and to offer support to victims.  In 2009 a suicide bomber killed five Pakistani staff members at the United Nations World Food Program in Islamabad.  One victim’s husband reached out to friends and survivors of violence to establish the Pakistan Terrorism Survivors Network, which works to help the wounded and family members overcome trauma and rebuild their lives.

And the solidarity, the strength displayed after terrorist attacks is not just local, it is global.  We all stood united with India after the cowardly attacks across Mumbai.  We all rejoiced when hostages held by the FARC in Colombia were rescued after six long years of captivity.  We grieved as one for the many thousands of civilians lost to car bombings in Iraq.  And after the deadly havoc wrought by one man recently in Norway, we rallied to stand by our Norwegian colleagues and renewed our common commitment to stand up to any and all who would use such appalling means to achieve political ends.

So how fitting that we mark 9/11’s ten-year anniversary in this place, this great rotunda of the Vienna International Centre, home to so many vital multilateral organizations whose work touches directly or indirectly on the challenge of countering terrorism.  For international organizations are indispensable partners in this effort, and international public servants have often borne the brunt of terrorist attacks.  We all well remember the terrorist attack on United Nations offices in Iraq in 2003, which killed 22 people, including UN envoy Sergio de Mello.  And only a few days ago United Nations offices were attacked in Nigeria. One of the UNODC’s own – Ingrid Midtgaard – lost her life, along with at least 22 others, in this most recent act of violence, and we offer our condolences.  The very nature of the UN’s work as a champion of freedom and international cooperation puts all who dedicate their lives to serving humanity at direct odds with terrorists.

But you are not alone.  Even before the death of Usama Bin Laden, the overwhelming majority of people saw that the murder of innocents did not bring about a better life for anyone.  People across the Middle East and North Africa continue to reject extremism, and are charting a path of peaceful progress based on universal rights and aspirations.

So, from Mumbai to Manila, Lahore to London, New York to Nairobi, we have witnessed resilience and solidarity.  Terrorism remains a threat, but our common human spirit has endured and emerged, stronger than ever.  We have not succumbed to the grief and fear that terrorists seek to spread.

On the contrary, since September 11, 2001, countries across the globe have responded collectively to reduce the threat of terrorism.  We have sharply diminished the capabilities of terrorist groups through the combined, collaborative efforts of the international community.  Together, we have answered the terrorists’ attempts to weaken or destroy our societies.  Our message of hope, of support for peace, security, and universal human rights is far more compelling than any message of hate, discrimination, and death.

The tenth anniversary of September 11 is an especially moving moment for Americans.  We are ten years on, but the pain and grief has hardly abated.  And that compels me to thank all of you profoundly for coming here today and joining us in this simple event.

Colleagues, Friends,

Here, gathered as the missions and the staff of the United Nations and the international organizations headquartered in Vienna, here in this great international city, I can think of no more appropriate charge to all of us than that voiced by UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold: “No peace which is not peace for all, no rest until all has been fulfilled.”

And that is the thought I wish to leave you with.  We gather today to share our common commitment to peace for all, and our common determination not to rest until terrorism is defeated.  We gather to make known our unified message: Terrorism will not prevail. We are vigilant.  We remember and honor those we have lost.  And we pursue our lives with confidence, not fear.

Thank you again from the bottom of my heart for joining us here today.

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and looking back at news reports from places not called New York or Washington:

9/11 Global Memorials, Tinged With Weariness.

By Published, The New York Times,  September 11, 2011

 www.nytimes.com/2011/09/12/world/…

PARIS — On Sunday, however briefly, nations around the world came together with the United States to remember the attacks on New York and the Pentagon that killed nearly 3,000 people from 90 countries.

Commemorations were held from Indonesia to Israel, with many political and religious leaders expressing their commitment to democracy and the fight against terrorism. But there was also weariness, with smaller-than-expected crowds in some cities and numerous commentaries noting the wars that followed Sept. 11 and the attacks’ more negative impacts — on civil liberties, air travel, international law and the United States’ reputation.

There was an overnight suicide bombing involving an explosives-packed truck in Afghanistan, the arrests of terrorism suspects in Berlin and Sweden and heightened security alerts most everywhere. There was analysis about how democratic values have triumphed in the Arab Spring, which has been seen as a defeat for Al Qaeda. But even with Osama bin Laden dead, Al Qaeda or its offshoots remain active in the chaotic areas of Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and the Maghreb, and its ideology still inspires some to plan attacks against the United States and its allies.

Although NATO is at war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, 10 years later, the European allies have tired of the war and are pressing for negotiations with the Taliban.

In Pakistan, where opinion surveys show most people doubt that Al Qaeda was responsible for the 9/11 attacks, the government ignored the anniversary, except to put an advertisement in The Wall Street Journal describing Pakistan as a victim, not a perpetrator, of terrorism.

In Germany, where the attacks were planned, there was a quiet commemoration, an interfaith service at the American Church in Berlin. Three days after the attacks, about 200,000 people had gathered near the Brandenburg Gate, but barely 200 showed up for a moment of silence on Sunday. “I thought there would be a few more people,” said Alan Benson, who helped organize the program and held an American flag. “First there was empathy with Americans, but as a consequence of the wars there are a lot of misgivings now.”

In Hamburg, Germany, where the lead 9/11 hijacker, Mohammed Atta, and several of the other plotters lived at Marienstrasse 54, Mayor Olaf Scholz ordered flags at half-staff on public buildings.

Britain, which lost 67 of its citizens on Sept. 11, held several commemorations. It has been America’s principal military partner in Afghanistan and Iraq over the last decade, and 559 British soldiers have died in the wars there.

In London, remembrances were led by Prince Charles and Prime Minister David Cameron and included many relatives of the 9/11 victims. The ceremony was held at the London memorial garden for the victims in Grosvenor Square, across a park from the United States Embassy.

After family members read the names of those who were killed, relatives, including children not yet born on the day of the attacks, walked into the arbor and laid white roses on a memorial stone that is atop a piece of twisted metal taken from the rubble at ground zero.

Prince Charles said he could identify with the families’ grief, having lost his uncle and mentor, Lord Louis Mountbatten, in a 1979 terrorist bombing in Northern Ireland. “For so many of those left behind,” he said, it had been “a continuing, awful agony that has to be endured day by day.”

In Rome, the Colosseum was illuminated on Sunday night as a gesture of mourning. The Italian president, Giorgio Napolitano, wrote President Obama of the need to “look forward and reinforce that international and multilateral solidarity that supported us 10 years ago.” Pope Benedict XVI urged world leaders to address “the grievances that give rise to acts of violence.” Terrorism in the name of God, the pope said, was a kind of abomination, adding, “No circumstances can ever justify acts of terrorism.”

In Paris, the main commemoration was across from the Eiffel Tower on the rainy Place du Trocadero, where 10-story replicas of the twin towers were covered with the names of the victims and messages from the French. Some 1,300 people came. A large sign in French and English read: “Sept. 11, 2001. The French will never forget.” One organizer, the businessman Patrick du Tertre, said, “We want the Americans to know that we love them, that we are their allies, that we remember and that we share their sorrow.”

On Friday, the American ambassador to France, Charles Rivkin, held a small ceremony in his garden with President Nicolas Sarkozy, who delivered a fiercely pro-American speech.

“In the darkest hours of its history, France has always been able to count on the American people,” he said. “Without you, the Americans, we would not have been able to keep our freedom. So on 11 September, when terrorists struck at the heart of America, every French citizen felt the blow.”

In Oslo, there was a sense of affinity with the United States after the July 22 killings by Anders Behring Breivik, who took 77 lives. He claimed to be acting to defend Europe from Islam, an obsession that began with the Sept. 11 attacks.

Kari Gasvatn, a commentator for the newspaper Nationen, said that both attacks were challenges to democracy and raised questions about what kind of society to build afterward. “Both attacks show how vulnerable we can be,” she said. “Skyscrapers can collapse on a sunny autumn day. Young people can be massacred on a peaceful Norwegian island.”
Asle Toje, a political analyst, said that in Norway, as in most of Europe, the initial sympathy for America after 9/11 was “followed by a lack of enthusiasm, you might say, for the way 9/11 was exploited for political purposes.”
The war in Iraq was connected to 9/11, he said, “and that has made sentiments about 9/11 a lot more complicated.”
Russia marked the anniversary with a powerful evocation of the Holocaust, a subject that was off limits for much of the Soviet era. The Russian National Orchestra performed Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13, “Babi Yar,” and Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 3, titled “Kaddish.”
Russians recalled the outpouring of sympathy 10 years ago and the sense, however fleeting, that the threat of Islamic terrorism meant that Russia and the United States were aligned. Yevgeniya Pishchikova pointed to deeper shifts. Fear has become so reflexive, she wrote in Moscow News, that conversations in hair salons touch on the changes in the Muslim world, the riots in Europe and the reliable conclusion that “everything is about to crash.”
“Only one thing is clear — there is no way to live calmly,” she said. “So let’s not put on airs. Whether America appeals to you or not, let us commemorate with her the decade of global fear.”

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Reporting contributed by Ellen Barry in Moscow; John F. Burns in London; Jane Perlez in Islamabad, Pakistan; Henrik Pryser Libell in Oslo; Nicholas Kulish in Berlin; Elisabetta Povoledo in Rome; Michael Wines in Beijing; Isabel Kershner in Jerusalem; and Elvire Camus and Alan Cowell in Paris.


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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 21st, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Summer days in Vienna and life is fun – so former Vice Chancellor from the OEVP and Women’s Minister, Member of the Parliament, Ms. Maria Rauch-Kallat decided that time has come to change the National Anthem which in one of its lines says “Homeland of Great Sons” – what about daughters, she asked? Surely she was not the first to asks this, but always with so much else one has to worry about – nobody did stake out a position on this.

Ms. Rauch-Kallat persisted and her party managed to get the Parliament vote and these days an honored singer Ms. Ildiko Raimondi has sung three variations on this theme: “Homeland Great Daughters, Sons” or “Homeland Great Daughters and Sons” or “Great Daughters, Great Sons.” The verdict is that when Ms. Raimondi sings it is all great  no matter what she says – so now the debate will continue after the people will listen to the U-tube presentations.

Why do we write about this?

Because this sort of public discussion makes people not notice that Austria has extended a friendly hand to some not so nice regimes – just so that there is some benefit for Austria in oil terms while some other European Nations or the US may shun doing so at this time – and that is one of our main interests as our readers know.

So what am I talking about?

First there was the issue of Mr. Rakhat Aliyev former Ambassador of Kazakhstan and former son in law of Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nasarbajew. The accusation is that he was involved in the abduction, extortion,  and the killing of two bank directors from Kazakhstan. This happened in 2008 but the bodies were found only May 2011. The families of those killed have an Austrian lawyer – Gabriel Lansky – and he asks how is it that Aliyev lived peacefully in Austria after his former father in law fired him. What are the personal problems between the two? Whom were the Austrians owing a favor In the meantime Aliyev moved out of reach to Malta – he says it is all fabricated against him.

Then exploded the Lithuanian problem that pits now all three former Soviet Baltic Republic against Austria. It all started with a KGB murderer – Michail Golovatov – against whom was an international hold order, passing through the Vienna airport. He was correctly arrested but the Austrians did not wait to get the details of the order against him translated into German from the original – presumably Lithuanian – and let him continue to Russia. Lithuania, fellow members in the EU, withdrew their Ambassador from Vienna – the other two Baltic EU members – Latvia and Estonia are following same protest – but Austria’s Foreign Minister who is also Minister for Inter-European Affairs insists that the border people dealt correctly by not waiting to see the documents. Was this so that Austria avoids a confrontation with Russia, like it avoided confrontation with Kazakhstan in the previous case.

Now comes a third case – a tour of two Sudanese Ministers – Ali Ahmed Karti, Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Sudan and Yahia Hussain, State Minister for International Cooperation of the Republic of Sudan, that came to campaign for better relations with Austria after the split-of with South Sudan. The word oil was all over, and it is about the exports via Port Sudan. The problem that this was the wrong Sudan – it was the remaining North Sudan that has just lost to independence of South Sudan which has 60% of the oil and is much better advised to figure out its own pipeline to places like Djibouti, Mombasa, or some better located terminal in between. After all – South Sudan’s new allies will be to the East and West rather then to the North. Austria’s OEMV oil company will be in the running, like it is in relations with the States that were part of the former Soviet Union. Will Austria now run after the oil in complete disregard of who the partners are and what sort of behavior one can expect from them? Does Austria attribute importance to the concept of “Responsibility to Protect” – the all important R2P that asks States to act responsibly towards their own citizens?

To top all of this, an opposition leader Heinz-Christian Strache, a follower of Joerg Haider in the Austrian Freedom Party (FPOE) sends another party official, David Lasar, to meet right now with a son of Gaddafi – with whom and with Gaddafi’s oil-money, that party has long standing relationships. The argument was that they try to bring about peace – we ask for whom?

So, this is a little comment about weighty issues we see and do not like.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 30th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

On Monday May 24, 2011, while Prime Minister Netanyahu was speaking at the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, and nobody of that organization was speaking of President Barack Hussein Obama anymore, the Irish were laying claim to yet another White House occupant, Brack O’Bama – a distant relative also of such US Republicans of geopolitical  views AIPAC seems to prefer – George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

The papers reported about Henry the Eighth – that is the 26 years young Henry Healy who is eighth cousin of the 44th President of the United States – Mr. Barack Obaman who cooperated with the local police and led 16 out of the 100 folks who claim relationship to meet with the President.

Olie Hayes, who happens to be 44, is the owner of the Monegall Pub, rechristened “O’Bama’s Irish Pub” for the day – is the social center of this 296 people village in the geographical center of Ireland. For the day the village grew to 3,000 people. Love was flowing like the pints of beer and the First Lady was told in pure Irish spirit: “You Look LOVELY!

Obama’s great-great-great grandfather, Falmouth Kearney, was a shoemaker in Moneygall and left for the United States in 1850 at the hight of Ireland’s Great Famine for which the Queen of England took finally official responsibility in her visit to Ireland just a week earlier.

We seem to remember Moneygall (a great name) having passed by years ago. I way even have had a pint at the pub. Now everyone going there will have the chance of seeing President Obama’s bust sitting on the bar and the village will never climb down from this high point. We are sure that similar places will stay for posterity also in Kenya and Indonesia – and the US is better off with a multi-cultural President when compared to some of his predecessors who had no understanding for the world raging out there.

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Above was just the spicy introduction to some further meaty topic:
Government debt in the United States, including state and local governments, is not far behind Ireland’s as a percentage of the nation’s economy. The figures usually given for the US do not include money borrowed from other government accounts, such as the Social Security Trust Fund. When one adds these the US is clearly just in such a bad position as Ireland with the one difference – the US prints the money that Ireland cannot do. Oh well – we plan some more postings on these topics.


Obama can learn from Ireland’s ‘tough slog’ of austerity.
Print
By Richard Wolf, USA TODAY, May 24, 2011.

The Ireland that President Obama visits for the first time today is down on its luck and therein lies a lesson for the United States.

Gone is the economic boom that transformed Ireland over the past decade. In its place: crushing government austerity measures following a sovereign debt crisis that required an embarrassing bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Jobs have been jettisoned, salaries slashed, pensions and health benefits reduced. Unemployment hovers near 15%. The economy, which shrank 8% in 2009 and 1% in 2010, is barely back in the black and the government is paying 5.8% interest on its bailout loans.

With Greece and Portugal struggling under their own debt burdens and bailout packages, the 17-nation eurozone has put the brakes on government stimulus measures that were needed to climb out of the 2008 global financial crisis. They’re doing what the United States has yet to do cutting back.

“It’s a tough, tough slog,” says Michael Collins, the Irish ambassador to the U.S. “Everybody has had to take a share of pain.”

The austere times shared by Great Britain, which is not a member of the eurozone but has begun a program of deficit reduction can’t be good for the U.S. economy, either. Collectively, Europe is America’s biggest trading partner.

Financial experts and credit-ratings agencies say the mess is a warning for Obama and Washington lawmakers: Get your fiscal house in order or risk the same fate.

“In the United States, there’s more time than the Irish had,” says Moody’s senior credit officer Steven Hess. “But certainly, what has happened in Ireland is a demonstration of the kinds of pressures that the U.S. faces over the long term.”

Although Ireland’s debt crisis was caused by a housing bust and credit meltdown far worse and more poorly managed than the U.S. version, there is one haunting similarity: government debt, counting what’s owed by state and local governments, is in the same ballpark.

“How much worse does it get if instead of taking care of the problem yourself, you allow the problem to take care of you?” says Joseph Minarik, senior vice president at the Committee for Economic Development.

“Ireland got to the latter point. They had the situation rubbed in their faces,” he says.

Ireland’s debt was about 25% of its economy before the housing and credit bust prompted the government to bail out the banks. Now it’s 112% and rising.

“The banks ripped us off. The government ripped us off,” says Paddy Quigley, 56, a resident of Moneygall, Obama’s ancestral home. “Our economy is down, and we need something to boost us.”

The cutbacks are a heavy tax on Ireland’s 4.5 million people. “Adjusting one’s economy in the wake of a crisis inevitably entails a decline in the standard of living,” says Bruce Stokes, a trans-Atlantic economics scholar at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

Even while visiting tiny Moneygall (pop. 296) and speaking at a raucous rock concert in Dublin, Obama is sure to see signs of Ireland’s decline. Experts hope it makes an impression on him.

“This will be an important chance for the president to see what this has done, politically, socially and economically,” says Heather Conley, director of the Europe program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. She cites the rise of nationalist, populist and anti-immigration groups.

Obama might rather study Ireland’s pro-business environment its 12.5% corporate tax rate is a major attraction. But some European officials have argued that the low rate should be raised to provide more revenue. Obama, caught in the middle, may sidestep the issue.

As Europe headed toward austerity in 2010, the Obama administration was still calling for fiscal stimulus measures on both sides of the Atlantic.

Today, not so much. The White House and congressional leaders are seeking ways to reduce a $1.4 trillion budget deficit just to win passage of an increase in the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.

“I think we’re all talking the same language,” says Nigel Sheinwald, British ambassador to the United States.

Not a moment too soon, say ratings agency officials. When Standard & Poor’s said last month that its top (AAA) rating on U.S. debt was at risk, that was a signal that policymakers must get their act together.

European nations are cutting back and “that’s a striking contrast to where the debate still is in the United States,” says David Beers, S&P’s global head of sovereign ratings. “It seems to us that it requires leadership … and a kind of sustained effort to explain to voters what the choices are.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 22nd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 19th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


The World Future Council (WFC)  www.worldfuturecouncil.org consists of up to 50 respected personalities from all five continents. They come from governments, parliaments, the arts, civil society, science and the business world. Together they form a voice for the rights of future generations. The World Future Council is a charitable foundation dependent on donations.

The World Future Council Foundation is a registered charity in Hamburg, Germany where its head office is located. Additionally,  staff is working in Brussels, London, Washington and Addis Ababa.

WFC works in close collaboration with civil society groups, members of parliament, governments, businesses and international organisations we research future just policies and legislation. We then advise political decision-makers, offer them tried and tested courses of action and support them in the concrete implementation of new policies. We make politicians aware that they have an ethical responsibility to assess every decision-making process on the basis of how it will affect future generations. As an independent non-profit organisation with no interest in short-term profit or prestige, autonomous from governmental and institutional interests, our organisation enjoys the highest level of credibility in its political advocacy. To identify holistic solutions on a wide range of issues and to enable the application of these solutions, the WFC has created the following programmes:

  • Future Justice
  • Climate and Energy
  • Sustainable Ecosystems
  • Sustainable Economies
  • Just Societies
  • Peace and Disarmament

What we want to achieve:

The lifestyle in industrialized countries has led to people using up natural resources at a threatening pace. Consequently, our environment is being destroyed and the unequal distribution of wealth and natural resources is increasing. Mankind today is living and consuming at the price of future generations. The World Future Council works to safeguard the rights of future generations. Our aim is to pass on a healthy planet and just societies to our children and grandchildren.

What makes us unique:

The lifestyle in industrialized countries has led to people using up natural resources at a threatening pace. Consequently, our environment is being destroyed and the unequal distribution of wealth and natural resources is increasing. Mankind today is living and consuming at the price of future generations. The World Future Council works to safeguard the rights of future generations. Our aim is to pass on a healthy planet and just societies to our children and grandchildren.

How we finance our international work:

The city of Hamburg and Hamburg entrepreneur Dr. Michael Otto provided initial funding for the period from 2007 to 2009. This has enabled the WFC to work effectively and professionally for the good of future generations. For us to continue our work in the years to come we are completely reliant on further donations by people who want to help us to protect the rights of future generations. We are committed to using donations conscientiously and utilize funds as efficiently as possible to realize our goal of creating a just and sustainable world.

More on organisation, council members and staff

Press release – Sustainability can be made a political reality.

WFC co-hosted in Lisbon a legal experts conference on intergenerational justice.

Lisbon, May 28, 2010. The international conference on “Ways to Legally Implement Intergenerational Justice“ brought international legal experts to Lisbon on May 27-28 in order to create anti-dotes to the political and economic short-termism that increasingly threatens our future living conditions.

The conference was co-hosted by the World Future Council and the Foundation for the Rights of Future Generations.

Its goal was to discuss policy concepts and concrete law changes that would help to finally make sustainability a reality: “The term sustainability can be found in almost every declaration and corporate report now, but policy advances to implement sustainable solutions are regularly watered down”, summarizes Dr. Maja Göpel, Director Future Justice of the World Future Council.

“Democracies have a strong tendency to favour present voters and lobbyists over future citizens that have no political or financial power. But the results of this myopic game are that we are rapidly closing the options for our children and grandchildren.”

Among the delegates to the conference were personalities that have officially been given the role to defend such options. Dr. Sandor Fülöp, Ombudsman for Future Generations in Hungary, for example, pointed out that his mandate is to protect fundamental rights of every citizen when he is stopping projects destroying too much nature. “Every Hungarian has the right to life and to intact nature. We cannot irreversibly destroy natural wealth in order to realize high economic profit today. We determine the conditions for life tomorrow.”

While some speakers were more optimistic about the opportunities of technological revolution than others, consensus prevailed that we have to quickly change course to safeguard our environment and end poverty at the same time. Shlomo Shoham, former Commissioner for Future Generations in Israel, did not fall short from calling for changed future intelligence: “Humanity is facing a future in which change takes place at an ever-increasing speed. The unknown awaits us beyond the horizon and our ability to digest and deal with the sheer volume of change is diminishing. We need to find new paths, train ourselves to ‘let go’ of certain ideas, fears, and concerns and change not only our rules, but also the way we think and act. We need to create future intelligence – and use it.”

The World Future Council is currently launching a campaign on the promotion of such Guardians for Future Generations on the European and national governance level. In its most ambitious form these Guardians of the long view would not only speak up for long-term interests in decision-making, but also help develop the knowledge base we need to make sustainability a reality.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 21st, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Overcoming rural poverty depends on a healthy environment, where local people can find sustainable solutions to their challenges. The Equator Initiative was launched in 2002 by UNDP’s Jim McNeil in order to help the search for sustainability by safeguarding biodiversity resources.

Every two years, the Equator Initiative partnership awards prizes to the 25 outstanding community efforts each of which receives $5,000 with five selected for special recognition and an additional $15,000 each. The recipients come from three groups:

AFRICA, ASIA-PACIFIC, and LATIN AMERICA – CARIBBEAN regions.

The announcement was “After an extensive process of evaluation, the Equator Initiative’s Technical Advisory Committee has selected an exceptional subset of 25 winning initiatives, from a total pool of nearly 300 nominations from 66 different countries.”

Africa:

Asia & the Pacific:

Latin America & the Caribbean:

Obviously, we have no problem with the choices, nor with the fact that the large countries of Kenya, Indonesia, Philippines, Brazil, and Mexico got two prizes each, nor that the two Mega-States got next to nothing – China nothing and India one – but we do wonder how it is that the Independent Pacific Island States, and the Independent Caribbean Island States, coincidentally both groups, got absolutely nothing. Does this mean that the rebelious SIDS and AOSIS, as groups, are in UN disfavor? They happen to be in the Tropics and quite a few are biodiversity very rich!

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The judges were:
Her Royal Highness Princess Basma Bint Talal of Jordan
Robert Edward “ted” Turner III, The father of it all and benefactor of The UN Foundation
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz of the Third World Tebtebba Foundation
M.S. Swaminathan, Chairman of the MSSRF Resarch Foundation
Steven J.McCormick, President, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
Dr. Gro Brubdtland, Former Prime Minister of Norway and mother of it all
Professor Elinor Ostrom, Nobel Laureate.
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The two specially honored NGO individuals:
Philippe Cousteau, third generation to the famous family,
Julia Marton-Lefevre, Director General of IUCN.
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The three specially honored communities:
Mavis Hatlane for Makuleke Community of Pafuri Camp, South Africa,
Maria Alejandra Velasco for Consejo Regional Tsimane’ Mosetene of Pilon Lajas, Bolivia,
Diep Thi My Hanh for Bambu Village of Phu An, Viet Nam.
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To increase our “puzzlement” – here the announcement how the UN General Assembly intends to treat this year the Small Island States in their deliberations – this was the only time we found a notion for their special problems:
Saturday, 25 September:
From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Round table 2 — Enhancing international support for small island developing States.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 21st, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Excerpts from “At UN, Of Africa Days and Al Qaeda Evenings, Burundi and Bacardi Gold.”
By Matthew Russell Lee.

UNITED NATIONS, July 15 — With small countries in Africa dominating the Security Council’s July 15 schedule … one of the four countries already on the “Peace Building Commission” (PBC) agenda, Burundi, recently had a one party election marred by tossed grenades and now the threat of attack by Al Shabab.

Burundi has soldiers in Somalia {and this is the reason why it has become fair game to Al Shabab}. Inner City Press spoke this week with the UN’s envoy to Burundi Charles Petrie. He put a positive spin on the one party election, saying it was not as violent as it might have been.

Petrie said the opposition is weak, and the UN must play the counter-balance that civil society and opposition parties would in other countries. He should know: he was thrown out of Myanmar by the government, then served for a time in a humanitarian role on, but not in, Somalia. He was in the French military …. The Council should have heard from him but didn’t.

The same might be said of the UN’s new envoy to Somalia, Augustine Mahiga. He went into the Council’s quiet room on July 14, but was not heard from by the Council as a whole. He met with the Permanent Five, one by one. He stopped to speak to Inner City Press, about including Al Shabab on the Al Qaeda sanctions list under Council Resolution 1267 in the wake of the Kampala bombings {This again, because Uganda has military forces for peace Keeping in Somalia.}.

Later on July 14, at an ill-attended UK reception on climate change in the General Assembly lobby, Inner City Press asked UK Permanent Representative Mark Lyall Grant about 1267 and the Shabab. He pointed out that they are already on the Somalia sanctions list, and who knew who is or is not truly affiliated with Al Qaeda. An Ethiopian diplomat added, not surprisingly, they are “definitely” with Al Qaeda.

But the Council sticks to its schedule. Guinea Bissau was the topic for July 15. The coup leader now heads the military; the UN “took note” of it. A Presidential Statement is to be drafted in the coming days.

Still and all, the Permanent Representatives of France, Japan and Mexico strode into the Council just after 10 a.m..

{Liberia is now becoming the fifth small African Country on the PBC operating table.}
* * *
{And further at the UN} – In Wake of Uganda Bombing, UNSC Statement Does Not Assign Blame, Even After Al Shabab Takes Credit.

UNITED NATIONS, July 12, updated — A day after the Kampala double bombing which killed more than 60 people, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had yet to issue any kind of statement. In front of the Security Council on Monday morning, one non-permanent member’s spokesperson wondered under what agenda item the Council might issue a statement: Somalia?

Another spokesperson said moves were afoot for the issuance of a press statement, later in the day. Would it say who is responsible? After the bombing of trains in Madrid, the Council issued a statement blaming it on ETA. When Al Qaeda later took responsibility, the Council’s statement was never retracted.

Here, nearly all speakers including Uganda authorities are pointing the finger at Islamist Somali insurgents. They had vowed retaliation for the Ugandan and Burundian AMISOM peacekeepers’ shelling of a market in Mogadishu. Others pointed out the targeting of “Ethiopian Village,” given antagonism between irridentist Somalia and Ethiopia. Motive is certainly there– and, the media pointed out, opportunity.

As the draft text of the press statement was distributed to members, a Council diplomat told Inner City Press it did not assign blame, only the Council’s “standard terrorist attack language.” Might that change?

Update of 3:20 p.m. — Nigeria’s Ambassador, the Council’s president for July, read out a four paragraph statement. As Inner City Press predicted this morning, it did not assign blame. But in the interim, the spokesman for Al Shabab has taken credit for the bombings, saying they were months in the planning.

Inner City Press asked Nigeria’s Ambassador on camera why blame was not ascribed, and if this might not discourage countries from sending peacekeepers to Somalia. She declined the first, and to the second question said “there is a peace to keep in Somalia.”

Afterward, Inner City Press was told that Al Shabab’s confession came after the statement was circulated and concurrence obtained. They didn’t want to delay it. But wouldn’t it have been stronger if more specific? An Ethiopian diplomat spoke about Eritrea. If ten Taliban are coming off the 1267 Al Qaeda sanctions list, does that mean there’s room for Al-Shabab?

In Kampala, the Ethiopian Village?

Incoming UN envoy on Somalia, Tanzania’s former Ambassador Mahiga, spoke to Inner City Press at the UN in New York last week, including about the peacekeepers’ use of “long range artillery” and the civilian casualties caused. Will Mahiga take this so-called “collateral damage” more seriously than Ould Abdallah did?

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From the above we see clearly that when it come to the need to blame an Islamic insurgency, the UN is very slow at pointing a finger. There clearly must internal UN be reasons for that.

Now let us see what Fared Zakaria and his high-brow participants in his circle of policy reviewers think about the situation:

His program included Jeffrey Gettleman, the New York Times Bureau Chief in East Africa Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya) who saw the situation on location in Somalia, and Ken Menkhaus of Davison College in New Jersey, who served as UN Political Advisor in Somalia 1993-94.

 www.cnn.com/CNN/Programs/fareed.z…

 www.cnn.com/video/#/video/podcast…

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THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE ON EARTH
THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE ON EARTH

Chaos and lawlessness rule in Mogadishu, Somalia. And Al Shabab, a Somali affiliate of Al Qaeda, is exploiting that power vacuum and exporting terror.

Al Shabab claimed responsibility for the bombing of World Cup viewers in Uganda and is practicing an extreme form of Islamic justice.

What exactly is Al Shabab doing in Somalia and what can we expect next? Is there anything the U.S. or its allies can do to help the country that is called “the world’s worst failed state?”

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Somalia is a country of 6-8 million people and at the end of the cold war they were the most militarized country in the world. Now there are 1-1.5 million people living outside Somalia and the country was destroyed – not by bombings but by small caliber guns. There is no central authority in the country and it has become ideal terrain for an Al Qaeda base.

In 1992 the First President Bush had there 20,000 troops and left to avoid worst disaster leaving behind total vacuum.

The locals are incapable of establishing a functioning government. Foreign funds that go to an interim government are dissipated but nevertheless there is a will on the outside to view this government as a transition – the question transition to what?

The Al Shabab is widely unpopular but viewed as an alternative to useless government. This Al Shabab practices the most tuthless of Islam justice – like the cutting off of arms for suspected thieves.

In this second level of vacuum move in the foreigners – be these the Al Qaeda people from Pakistan who want to see if they can move here as a new home base, and some more benevolent home comers from among the Somali diaspora that actually are ready to provide their skills in building government at locality levels like cities. These are very welcome by the elders who are ready to back their efforts with the elder prestige.

This latter is the hope – but this is a bottom up government – and who will say that this will lead to a National government in its present borders? Would it not make sense to let them rule according to the ethnic divisions of the country and resulting in two or three smaller States that can then go their own ways? Jeffret Gettleman has seen this function on the ground in several locations where the situation is thus much better then in the country at large.

The importance of this goes well beyond Somalia and the case that came to mind in this CNN/GPS program was Iraq.

With the Iraqi elections held 133 days ago and a Parliament that todate has met only for the grandiose time of 18 minutes, and with the upcoming holidays, the evidence that nothing else can be expected before September and the US troops starting by then to leave the country, is Iraq going to be next Somalia?

So – the conclusion is that government can be built only bottom up if the idea is to reach up to democracy – and then why insist on having a non-unified country when the only evidence at hand is that the people actually hate each other and belong to various groups with the only semblance of unity is the unity of cleptocrats?

This disaster of Somalia may turn out to speak not only of Africa, but also of Iraq and why not of Afghanistan?

These problem go well beyond the limited scope we started out with.

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 ipsterraviva.net/UN/currentNew.as…

Somalia Centre Stage Ahead of AU Summit.
Joshua Kyalimpa –   ipsterraviva.netKAMPALA, Jul 18 (IPS) – The African Union summit opens in Kampala on July 19 amid heightened security following twin bomb attacks a week earlier. The official theme of child and maternal mortality will likely be overshadowed by discussion of the AU’s mission in Somalia.

The blasts, which killed at least 74 people and wounded 82 others watching the World Cup finals on big screens at the Ethiopian Village Restaurant in Kampala’s Kabalagala neighbourhood, and at the Kyaddondo rugby grounds. The attacks came just two days after a spokesperson for Somalia’s al-Shabaab group, which is fighting against the weak Transitional Federal Government (TFG) for control of the country, said Uganda would be targeted for its role in the conflict.

Questioning military solutions
Some analysts argue that a troop surge will achieve little, pointing to the difficulties faced by Ethiopia. Ethiopian soldiers entered Somalia in December 2006 to push back the Union of Islamic Courts, an Islamist group with ambitions to establish sharia law in Somalia, from which al-Shabaab subsequently emerged.

But while the UIC’s bid for control was halted, this larger force was unable to fully capture the capital or impose itself in the countryside; the Ethiopians pulled out and were replaced by the Ugandan-dominated AMISOM.

Makerere University political scientist Yassin Olum believes it is time for Uganda to review its position in Somalia, with a view to withdrawing.

“We have to ask ourselves why other African countries are not sending troops to Somalia. Maybe they have realised it’s a hot potato or they view it as an internal matter,” says Olum.

Targeting the AU mission in Somalia

Uganda contributes the majority of the 5,000 troops in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which has helped the TFG maintain a tenuous hold over parts of the capital, Mogadishu, but little more.

We are sending a message to every country who is willing to send troops to Somalia that they will face attacks on their territory,” said al-Shabaab spokesman Ali Mohamoud Rage following the attacks. He added that Burundi, the second-largest troop contributor to AMISOM after Uganda, “will face similar attacks if they don’t withdraw.”

Bahoku Barigye, spokesperson for AMISOM, told IPS that the mission’s mandate should be expanded from peace-keeping – its terms of reference originate in a U.N. resolution authorising a “training and protection” mission – to one of peace enforcement, for which more soldiers would be needed.

“We have troops guarding the airport, the presidential palace, the port and other key installations this leaves us with few men to defend the civilians,” says Barigye.

Security personnel in Uganda have so far made 20 arrests; two men have also been detained in neighbouring Kenya in connection with the bombings.

Despite previous commitments by members of the African Union to contribute to a force of 20,000 peacekeepers, there are only about 5,000 troops in the Somali capital in support of the weak transitional federal government. Over 3,000 of these are from Uganda, the rest are from Burundi.

Uganda undeterred

At a Jul. 14 meeting called after the Kampala bombings, the Inter Government Authority on Development, a regional bloc of countries in the Horn of Africa, agreed to send an additional 2,000 soldiers.

Uganda has indicated it will send in more of its own troops if other countries are not willing.

Addressing a news conference at his private home in Ntugamo, western Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni said, “It was a very big mistake on their side; we shall

Development goals overshadowed by conflict?
African civil society has voiced concerns that the AU summit to be held in Kampala from Jul. 17-19 could be dominated by the Somalia question.

The official theme of the summit is “Maternal, Infant and Child Health and Development in Africa,” but consideration of this development goal seems likely to suffer the same fate as previous themes on water and sanitation and promotion of agriculture: a formal declaration will be made, but the summit will be dominated by al-Shabaab’s bombing of Uganda, the leading contributor of troops to the AU’s mission in Somalia.

Civil society organisations organised a forum in Kampala ahead of the summit to enable civil society, ordinary citizens and key stake holders deliberate on the key issues and demand action, but now doubt they will get a platform to present their case to African leaders.

l deal with the authors of this crime.” He is also reported to have assured the U.S., which takes an active interest in Somali Islamist activity, that Uganda would not try to disentangle itself from the conflict in Somalia.

The U.S. ambassador to Uganda, Jerry Lanier, said, “We believe the Uganda mission is more important than ever now.”

The ambassador said the U.S. planned to increase assistance to Uganda and AMISOM.

Political scientist Yassin Olum says the Ugandan president needed more time to reflect on the matter before making statements.

“What this means is that we are no longer neutral in the conflict and we are fighting on the side of the Transitional Federal Government which is dangerous. This is not conventional warfare where you need more troops to defeat the enemy.”

Fred Bwire, a Kampala city resident, voices the attitude of many ordinary Ugandans towards the Somali mission. “What are we doing there? Our people are being killed for nothing. Why aren’t Kenyans – who are neighbors with Somalia – bothered?”

Hussein Kyanjo, an opposition member of parliament, believes the main beneficiary of Uganda’s continued involvement in Somalia is President Museveni himself. “He knows that the United States of America opposes the al-Shabaab and so he fights U.S. enemies to blind them to his dictatorial tendencies.”

Amama Mbabazi, Uganda’s minister for security, responds that Kyanjo forgets that Uganda was suffered terrorist attacks long before it sent troops to Somalia.

“The Allied Democratic Forces – another rebel outfit with links to Al-Qaeda – killed many people in the past and my friend Kyanjo seems to have forgotten this.”

In their struggle against the government, the Islamist ADF rebels attacked police posts, schools and trade centres in the west of the country beginning in 1996; in 1998, it carried out several bombings in Kampala, killing five and wounding six others. Military action by the Ugandan army largely destroyed the group the following year.

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July 21, 2010 as per official UN NEWS we are not convinced the UN has the faintest idea of what to do about Somalia beyond calling for wasting some more money on it:

UN DAILY NEWS from the
UNITED NATIONS NEWS SERVICE

21 July, 2010 =========================================================================

UN SOUNDS THE ALARM AS DIRE HUMANITARIAN SITUATION CONTINUES TO GRIP SOMALIA .

As Somalia remains in the grip of a humanitarian crisis, it is vital to ensure adequate funding to assist the 3.2 million people – or more than 40 per cent of the population – who rely on international aid, a senior United Nations aid official stressed today.

UN agencies and their partners have so far received only 56 per cent of the $600 million needed to fund critical areas such as health, water and sanitation, nutrition and livelihood support in Somalia, which is recovering from drought and years of chaos and is also in the throes of ongoing violence.

“My major concern at this time of the year is that there is a renewed emphasis on ensuring that we do address the funding gaps in Somalia to help us to sustain the achievements that can continue to be made in one of the world’s most difficult and acute humanitarian crises,” said Mark Bowden, the UN Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator for Somalia.

He told a news conference in New York that the situation in the Horn of Africa nation is characterized by severe child malnutrition, loss of livestock and livelihoods, as well as ongoing displacement owing to continued clashes between Government forces and Islamist militant groups.

The conflict has led to Somalia being one of the countries with the highest number of uprooted people in the world – an estimated 1.4 million displaced within the country and almost 595,000 living as refugees in neighbouring countries.

“Conflict is the driving cause behind displacement and most of it comes from Mogadishu,” he said, noting that 20,000 people were displaced in the capital in June, and an estimated 200,000 people have been displaced from the city this year.

In addition, fighting in Mogadishu since March this year has led to more than 3,000 conflict-related casualties.

“What I genuinely hope is that we try to find some way of reducing the impact of this conflict on the civilian population and all parties need to find more peaceful means of settling their disputes,” he said, adding that where that is not possible, to at least avoid the considerable collateral damage on civilians.

Despite the ongoing crisis, Mr. Bowden noted that the situation in Somalia “isn’t all bad news,” although it is one of the most complicated humanitarian situations the UN is facing.

Some major achievements include keeping the country free of polio amid a resurgence of the disease in a number of other African countries. This is thanks to the provision of clean water to 1.3 million people, as well as vaccination campaigns that were carried out, even in volatile areas.

“We are able to make progress in terms of managing humanitarian operations in extremely difficult circumstances, which include control of large parts of the country by rebel groups and active conflict in other parts,” he noted.

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And Inner City Press from the UN continues its bleak reporting from the UN that really shows again and again that the UN will not lead the Somalis out of their misery.

See – www.innercitypress.com/un1soa0721…

Killing of Civilians by UN Supported Troops in Somalia Admitted But Not Acted On.

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, July 21 — In the wake of the World Cup finals bombing in Uganda, there has been even less discussion of the civilians being killed in Mogadishu by the peacekeeping mission which the UN is supporting. But a memo leaked from within that AMISOM mission notes continued firing into civilian neighborhoods.
Inner City Press asked UN Humanitarian coordinator Mark Bowden whether there is a special responsibility on the UN to ensure that the troops to which it provides logistical support through its UNSOA office are not killing civilians. “Yes there is,” Bowden said, adding that he’s “had discussions” with Ambassador Diarra of the African Union about “reducing civilian casualties.” ………..  it continues

On Child Soldiers Supported by UN in Somalia, UNSC Will Respond After 3 Years.

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, June 16, updated — Days after the UN-supported Somali Transitional Federal Government’s use of child soldiers was widely exposed, the UN Security Council’s lack of seriousness on the issue was on display on Wednesday. Mexican foreign minister Patricia Espinosa presided over a day-long series of speeches about children and armed conflict. At noon, Inner City Press asked her what she and the Council would do about their support of the TFG, which uses children as young as nine and 12 to wield AK-47s in Mogadishu.

This has not been raised to the Security Council, Secretary Espinosa replied, not even to the Working Group. …… more

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