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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.



Posted on on January 21st, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

In First Family, a Nation’s Many Faces
The new president was sworn in while surrounded by a clan that redrew the image of the first family.

In First Family, a Nation’s Many Faces

The New York Times, January 20, 2009

WASHINGTON — The president’s elderly stepgrandmother brought him an oxtail fly whisk, a mark of power at home in Kenya. Cousins journeyed from the South Carolina town where the first lady’s great-great-grandfather was born into slavery, while the rabbi in the family came from the synagogue where he had been commemorating Martin Luther King‘s Birthday. The president and first lady’s siblings were there, too, of course: his Indonesian-American half-sister, who brought her Chinese-Canadian husband, and her brother, a black man with a white wife.


Doug Mills/The New York Times

Three generations of Barack Obama’s family celebrate.



A Diverse First Family


Maya Soetoro-Ng

President Obama hugged his half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, at her December 2003 wedding to Konrad Ng, third from right, in Hawaii. From left, his daughters, Sasha and Malia; his grandmother Madelyne Dunham, seated; Konrad’s parents, Joan and Howard Ng, and brother Perry Ng; and Michelle Obama.

When President Barack Obama was sworn in on Tuesday, he was surrounded by an extended clan that would have shocked past generations of Americans and instantly redrew the image of a first family for future ones.

As they convened to take their family’s final step in its journey from Africa and into the White House, the group seemed as if it had stepped out of the pages of Mr. Obama’s memoir — no longer the disparate kin of a young man wondering how he fit in, but the embodiment of a new president’s promise of change.

For well over two centuries, the United States has been vastly more diverse than its ruling families. Now the Obama family has flipped that around, with a Technicolor cast that looks almost nothing like their overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly Protestant predecessors in the role. The family that produced Barack and Michelle Obama is black and white and Asian, Christian, Muslim and Jewish. They speak English; Indonesian; French; Cantonese; German; Hebrew; African languages including Swahili, Luo and Igbo; and even a few phrases of Gullah, the Creole dialect of the South Carolina Lowcountry. Very few are wealthy, and some — like Sarah Obama, the stepgrandmother who only recently got electricity and running water in her metal-roofed shack — are quite poor.

“Our family is new in terms of the White House, but I don’t think it’s new in terms of the country,” Maya Soetoro-Ng, the president’s younger half-sister, said last week. “I don’t think the White House has always reflected the textures and flavors of this country.”

Though the world is recognizing the inauguration of the first African-American president, the story is a more complex narrative, about immigration, social mobility and the desegregation of one of the last divided institutions in American life: the family. It is a tale of self-determination, full of refusals to follow the tracks laid by history or religion or parentage.

Mr. Obama follows the second President Bush, who had a presidential son’s self-assured grip on power. Aside from a top-quality education, the new president came to politics with none of his predecessor’s advantages: no famous last name, no deep-pocketed parents to finance early forays into politics and, in fact, not much of a father at all. So Mr. Obama built his political career from scratch, with best-selling books and long-shot runs for office, leaving his relatives astonished at where he has brought them.

“It is so mind-boggling that there is a black president,” Craig Robinson, Mrs. Obama’s brother, said in an interview. “Then you layer on top of it that I am related to him? And then you layer on top of that that it’s my brother-in-law? That is so overwhelming, I can’t hardly think about it.”

Though Mr. Obama is the son of a black Kenyan, he has some conventionally presidential roots on his white mother’s side: abolitionists who, according to family legend, were chased out of Missouri, a slave state; Midwesterners who weathered the Depression; even a handful of distant ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War. (Ever since he became a United States senator, the Sons of the American Revolution has tried to recruit him. )

But far less has been known about Mrs. Obama’s roots — even by the first lady herself. Growing up on the South Side of Chicago, “it was sort of passed-down folklore that so-and-so was related to so-and-so and their mother and father was a slave,” Mr. Robinson said.

Drawing on old census data, family records and interviews, it is clear that Mrs. Obama is indeed the descendant of slaves and a daughter of the Great Migration, the mass movement of African-Americans northward in the first half of the 20th century in search of opportunity. Mrs. Obama’s family found it, but not without outsize measures of adversity and disappointment along the way.

Tracing Family Roots

Only five generations ago, the first lady’s great-great-grandfather, Jim Robinson, was born a slave on Friendfield Plantation in Georgetown, S.C., where he almost certainly drained swamps, harvested rice and was buried in an unmarked grave. As a child, Mrs. Obama used to visit her Georgetown relatives, but she only learned during the campaign that her forebears had been enslaved in the same town where she and her cousins had played.

According to Megan Smolenyak, a genealogist who has uncovered the roots of many political figures, Mrs. Obama has ancestors with similar backgrounds across the South. The public records they left behind give only the briefest glimpses of their lives: Fanny Laws Humphrey, one of Mrs. Obama’s great-great-grandmothers, was a cook in Birmingham, Ala., born before the end of the Civil War. Another set of great-great-grandparents, Mary and Nelson Moten, seem to have left Kentucky for Chicago in the early 1860s, a hint they might have been free before the end of the Civil War. And in 1910, some of Mrs. Obama’s ancestors are listed in a census as mulatto, adding some support to family whispers of a white ancestor.


Barack Obama Campaign

Fraser Robinson III and his wife, Marian, with their children, Craig and Michelle, now the first lady. Mr. Robinson put both children through Princeton.

The jobs that her relatives held in the early 20th century — domestic servant, coal sorter, dressmaker — suggest an escape from sharecropping, the system that trapped many former slaves and their children in penury for generations.

Still, the family’s progress has a two steps forward, one step back quality. Jim Robinson was born into slavery, but his son, Fraser, ran a lunch truck in Georgetown. In turn, his son, Fraser Jr., struck out for Chicago in search of something better. But he was unable to find work, and left his wife and children for 14 years, according to his son Nomenee Robinson. As a result, Mrs. Obama’s father was on welfare as a boy and started working on a milk truck at 11.

After serving in the Army in World War II and finally securing a job as a postal clerk, Fraser Robinson Jr. rejoined his family. He was so thrifty that he would bring home chemicals to do the family dry cleaning in the bathtub. But his son — Mrs. Obama’s father, Fraser Robinson III — became overwhelmed with debt and dropped out of college after a year. He worked in a city boiler room for the rest of his life, helping to send his four younger siblings to college, then his two children, Mrs. Obama and her brother, to Princeton.

Classroom Values

For all of the vast differences in the Obama and Robinson histories, a few common threads run through. Education is one of them. As a young man, Mr. Obama’s father herded goats, then won a scholarship to study in the Kenyan capital. When Mr. Obama lived in Indonesia as a child, his mother woke him up for at 4 a.m. for English lessons; meanwhile, in Chicago, Mrs. Obama’s mother was bringing home math and reading workbooks so her children would always be a few lessons ahead in school.

Only through education, generations of Robinsons taught their children, would they ever succeed in a racist society, relatives said. “My mother would say, ‘When you acquire knowledge, you acquire something no one could take away from you,’ ” Craig Robinson said.

The families also share a kind of adventurous self-determination. In the standard telling, the Obama side is the one that bent the rules of geography and ethnicity. Yet the first lady’s family, the supposed South Side traditionalists, includes several members who literally or figuratively ventured far from home. Nomenee Robinson was an early participant in the Peace Corps, serving in India for two years; later, he moved to Nigeria, where he met his wife; the couple now live in Chicago. Capers Funnye Jr., a cousin of Mrs. Obama’s and a rabbi, was brought up in the black church, he said, but as a young man, he felt a calling to Judaism he could not ignore.

In daring cross-cultural leaps, no figure quite matches Stanley Ann Dunham Soetoro, Mr. Obama’s mother. As a university student in Honolulu, she hung out at the East-West Center, a cultural exchange organization, meeting two successive husbands there: Barack Obama, an economics student from Kenya, and later, Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian. Decades later, her daughter Maya Soetoro was picking up fliers at the same East-West Center when she noticed Konrad Ng, a Chinese-Canadian student, now her husband.

Now the Obama-Robinson family’s move to the White House seems like a symbolic end point for the once-firm idea that people of different backgrounds should not date, marry or bear children. In Mr. Obama’s lifetime, racial intermarriage not only became legal everywhere in the United States, but has started to flourish. As many as a quarter of white Americans and nearly half of black Americans belong to a multiracial family, estimates Joshua R. Goldstein of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research.

Diversity inside families, said Michael J. Rosenfeld, a sociologist at Stanford University, is “the most interesting kind of diversity there is, because it brings people together cheek by jowl in a way that they never were before.”

“There’s nothing as powerful as family relationships,” Mr. Rosenfeld said, “and that’s why interracial marriage was illegal for so long in the U.S.”

Initially, some of the unions in the Obama family caused consternation. “What can you say when your son announces he’s going to marry a Mzungu?” said Sarah Obama in an interview, using the Swahili term for “white person.” But it was too late, she said, because the couple was deeply in love.

Now, the relatives say, their family feels natural and right to them, that they think of each other as individuals, not as members of groups. Ms. Soetoro-Ng said she was not “the Indonesian sister,” but just Maya.

A Special Reunion

On Monday, some of Mr. Obama’s Kenyan relatives milled around the lobby of the Mayflower Hotel here, their colorful headscarves earning them more curious glances than even the sports and pop music stars in the room. Zeituni Onyango, the president’s aunt, explained that their family had always been able to absorb newcomers.

Pointing out that her male relatives used to take on multiple wives, she said, “My daddy said anyone coming into my family is my family.” (Ms. Onyango, who lives in Boston, recently faced deportation charges, but those orders have been stayed and she is pursuing a green card.)

At holidays and celebrations, “you get a whole lot of people who are happy to be around family,” Craig Robinson said. “They happen to be from different cultures, but the common thing is that they are all family.”

“Like the inauguration, those celebrations draw on a happy mishmash of traditions and histories. Take the Obamas’ 1992 wedding, which included Kenyan family in traditional dress, a cloth-binding ceremony in which the bride and groom’s hands were symbolically tied, and blues, jazz and classical music at the reception (held at a cultural center that was once a country club where black and Jewish Chicagoans were denied admission).

White House events may now take on some of the same feel. Four years ago, when the family descended on Washington for Mr. Obama’s Senate swearing-in, Mr. Ng strolled over to the White House gates and took a picture of his then-infant daughter, Suhaila — “gentle” in Swahili — sleeping in her stroller.

Days before leaving Hawaii for the inauguration, Mr. Ng stared at the picture and wondered how much had changed since it was taken. After Tuesday’s ceremony, he said, “folks like me will have a chance to be on the other side.”


Posted on on November 24th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (


The volume (405 pages) was edited by Pascal C.Sanginga, Ann Walter-Bayer, Susan Kaaria, Jemimah Njuki, and Chesha Wetlasinha.

Earthscan, is a publishing house for a sustainable future, based in Dunstan House, 14a St. Cross st., London EC1N 8XA, UK – with a branch at 22883 Quicksilver Derive, Sterling, VA, USA.

The project, meeting and book, were sponsored jointly by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation under the roof of the “Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). The goal is tp promote African agricultural development through capacity-building, research and pilot testing of interventions.

At the Kampala meeting participated 140 practitioners and the best 24 articles appear in the 5 parts of this volume.

The conclusions led to five observations,   and I will mention here just the fifth – that says that real innovation emerges by encouraging creativity, and that is not achieved by over-engineering a multiple level of bureaucracy that poses the risk of stifling real discovery. So, it is better to create enabling conditions and incentive structures that encourage information exchange, cooperation and policy changes that unleash bottom-up or lateral innovation.

The first article is of 26 pages on “Conceptual and Methodological Developments in Innovation,” presented by Niels Roeling.

I found interesting his use of “innovation” as a noun – denoting a technology or even a product i.e. hybrid maize. Then he talks about the “diffusion curve” of introducing this innovation for gain by the users. That was the way the subject was taught in the American Mid-West. Eventually he mentions that his thinking was affected by the observation from Landcare in Australia, that “erosion, salination, desiccation and other environmental problems” resulted from the introduction of European farming practices to a continent to which they were not suited. Thus we reach out to grassroots innovation in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the book presents many ways of organizing this sort of development of agricultural knowledge and information systems.

The book ends up presenting many conceptual and methodological developments in promoting innovation by showcasing on-the-ground experiences in Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Malawi, South Africa, Nigeria.

The volume mentions the changes in global agriculture, the use of biofuels, the increase in meat consumption, droughts and extreme weather caused by climate change, and the resulting increase in the price of food, and asks if those events will make African smallholders competitive in African urban markets. The author is nevertheless not over optimistic. It is the global “treadmill” that prevents African farmers from contributing to global food security and African countries from gaining food sovereignty. The imports of food haveinterfered with the marketting of the local produce beyond the subsistence level.


Posted on on November 20th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (


Thank you Mr President and can I join others in thanking our briefers today, perhaps above all the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organisation whose presence today is very welcome – thank you for your contribution.

We have had the Secretary-General’s report.   It gives us a thorough and realistic analysis of what is clearly a very bleak picture on the ground in Somalia.   And that situation on the ground seems to be getting worse in three different dimensions:

First, the security on land.   Our hopes had been raised by the Djibouti Agreement.   The preliminary work to implement it was moving forward, but the hope that Somalia was finally turning a corner after some 17 years of violence has not been followed through on the ground.

Despite the best efforts of the Special Representative, Mr Ould Abdullah, in mediating dialogue, the political process now looks fragile, not helped, it has to be said, by the divisions that have opened up within the Transitional Federal Government.   And the recent reports of heightened violence and territorial advances by the Shabaab suggest a worsening security situation.   So the situation on the ground in Somalia is getting worse, not better.

Secondly, security at sea is also getting dramatically worse as colleagues have said.   The incidents of piracy off the Somali coast have reached new heights in the last weeks.   We deplore those acts of piracy, which can only make it even more difficult to bring stability to Somalia itself.   The United Kingdom is playing a full part in the international deployments to try to combat this.   We have a frigate of the Royal Navy dealing full time with piracy and two other frigates deployed in the area ready to act and we have also offered to support the upcoming European Union Mission by providing the operational headquarters and commanding the operation.

We have got Resolution 1816 which is due for renewal next month which authorises these operations.   We need to look at that carefully to ensure that the mandate for the naval operations gives those in the field the means needed to suppress and deter piracy.   Addressing the piracy problem cannot wait until peace and harmony returns to Somalia.

Thirdly, as the Secretary-General’s report notes, the humanitarian situation is getting worse again.   Over 3 million Somalis are now dependent on food aid and securing humanitarian access is going to remain a pressing and difficult challenge.   We would welcome advice from OCHA in the near future on how to address this problem.

So, what do we do in the face of these difficulties?   Well, I agree with my colleague Ambassador Kumalo that the problem with Somalia isn’t going to be solved solely by addressing the issue of piracy or tackling the humanitarian problem on the ground.   But equally, as we have so often said in this Chamber and as we have heard again today from several delegates, we can’t just address this with a military solution – there has to be a political framework.   So, from our perspective, we believe the Council should send a clear message that the best way forward for Somalia is through the full implementation of the Djibouti Agreement, which would give the space for the international community to assist.     But we do have to deal with the Somalia that we find, the Somalia that exists, and not the Somalia that we would like to see.   And that has to shape our approach to the idea of an international force on the ground.

Now, the Secretary-General has invited the Security Council to send a force to take responsibility for security in Mogadishu and to enable the Ethiopian forces to withdraw.

And the Secretary-General’s report is very clear about the options for such a force.   Its firm recommendation, which we think is based on sound military analysis, is that a Multi-National Force has to go in first to secure the situation on the ground and create the conditions that would allow the United Nations Peacekeeping Operation to go in.

Frankly, Mr President, it is hard to envisage a traditional UN peacekeeping force having the capabilities or the mandate required to deal with the challenges that Somalia currently poses.   And this Council should not mandate a force which we do not think is up to the task.   We must learn the lessons from elsewhere of what happens when we send an under-equipped force into a theatre where conflict persists.

We therefore encourage the Secretary-General to continue his efforts to identify states willing to contribute to a Multi-National Force as soon as possible.   In doing so, he will need high level political support from the Council members.   And we have heard some fine words around this table today and let’s hope that Delegations can take the steps necessary to turn those fine words into hard offers of military contributions.

We’d also welcome further work by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to prepare for the time when a peacekeeping operation is feasible, including being ready to conduct a technical assessment mission as soon as conditions on the ground allow.

Mr President,

Somalia is arguably the intractable challenge facing the Security Council in the period ahead.   I know that all of us around this table feel the need to act and to take our responsibilities here, but we have to learn the lessons of experience, not only in Somalia, but elsewhere, including, for example, Darfur.

The Secretary-General’s report may not satisfy all of us in all respects, but it is a sober and responsible effort to identify the very limited options that are available to this Council and we believe that we should proceed with our deliberations on its basis.

Thank you Mr President.

Hazel Foster (Miss)
Third Secretary Press
United Kingdom Mission to the United Nations
One Dag Hammarskjold Plaza
885 Second Avenue (48th Street & 2nd Avenue, 28th Floor)
New York   NY 10017
E-Mail:    hazel.foster at
UKMis Web:
FCO Web:
Visit our blogs at


So, South Africa’s Ambassador to the UN, Mr.Dumisani S. Kumalo says that solving the piracy issue is not the answer – more is needed. To be exact – “the problem with Somalia isn’t going to be solved solely by addressing the issue of piracy or tackling the humanitarian problem on the ground”

Did anyone ask him where the hundreds of millions of dollars went that were already paid in ransom for pirated ships?

Clearly, he does   not think that the poor in Somalia are starving because the rich countries do not send them help.

Does he think that outsiders would be welcome even if they come loaded with help?

Does he think that without an African real leadership there will be anything better then a future Blackwater fleet just killing anyone who will dare to use a speed boat and will not be lily white?

So, in effect, is there much difference between Somalia and other failed States – in major part this goes also for Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, like Iraq, Somalia is an agglomeration of different parts into one official State.

Would it not be better to agree that Somaliland is an independent State from Somalia? Let the local governing body get the responsibility to run their own business? Then we are left with the Southern two sections of Somalia and the claim that some of the tribes have on Ethiopian land. This is still very complicated, but it moves the problem at least away from a major part of the sea shore.Whatever – the grand piracy issue no less then a mega-tanker has finally landed the problem on the UNSC table.

Somalia, like Sudan, like much of Sub Sahara Africa, former colonies that nili-wili became States, have structural problems that are not of the IMF kind. That Is The Real Issue That Should Be Put On The UNSC Table.


Posted on on November 18th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Drylands, Deserts, and Desertification – 2008 Conference. December 14-17, 2008, Sede Boqer Campus, The Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Israel.

THE PROGRAM As Available on November 18, 2008. There might be still Changes and Additions, as well –   further Poster Sessions.

Download this schedule: detailed_program_sessions_1611_publish.doc

Drylands, Deserts and Desertification – 2008
December 14-17, 2008

Please note that the list of presentations is still not final. Furthermore, the breakdown into sessions may change. Abstracts for the Poster Sessions will be listed separately during the conference

Pre Registration will begin on the evening of December 13, 2008
8:00-9:00 Registration
9:00 – 9:30 Welcome
9:30 – 10:15 Plenary Address: Cutting through the Confusion: An Old Problem (Desertification) Viewed through the Lens of a New Framework (the DDP, Drylands Development Paradigm) – James Reynolds, Duke University (U.S.A)
10:15 – 10:30 Respondents: Thomas Schaaf,, Chief, Ecological Sciences & Biodiversity Section, UNESCO, Ingrid Hartman, Amoud University, Borama, Somaliland, Godfrey Olukoye Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Uriel Safriel, Hebrew University, Israel
Moderator: Alon Tal
10:30-11:00 Coffee Break
11:00-12:30 Parallel Sessions I
1. Soil Degradation and the Drylands
Chair: Professor Yonah Chen, Hebrew University Agricultural Faculty, HYPERLINK “
Causes and Consequences of Soil Damages in Bosnia and Herzegovinia: Some Experiences in Soil Conservation, Markovic (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Soil Decomposition in a Tropical Semi-arid Region in Central Mexico, Maria Hernandez Cerda, Enrique Romero, Gonzalo Madero, (Mexico)
Soil Communities in the Arava Valley Desert System, Stanislav Pen-Mouratov, Tamir Mayblat, and Yosef Steinberger (Israel)

Effect of plant patchiness on soil microbial community structure

Ali Nejidat, Eric A. Ben-David, Yonatan Sher, Regina Golden, Eli Zaady (Israel)
2. Desert Ecology (A)
Chair: Professor Tamar Dayan, Tel Aviv University, HYPERLINK “,
Water and Carbon Balances of Tamarix Desert Vegetation Under Variation in Precipitation and Groundwater Table,Hao Xu, Yan Li, (China)
Periodic and Scale-free Patterns: Reconciling the Dichotomy of Dryland Vegetation, Jost von Hardenberg, Assaf Kletter, Hezi Yizhaq, Ehud Meron (Israel)
Water Balance in Desert Mammals and in Flying Birds: Different Evolutionary Paths with Similar Physiological Outcomes, Berry Pinshow (Israel)
Desertification In the Grasslands Of Central Australia: Effects Of Fire And Climate Change, C. R. Dickman, G. M. Wardle, A. C. Greenville and B. Tamayo (Australia)
3. Benchmarks and Indicators of Desertification
Chair: Professor Moshe Shachak, Ben Gurion University,
Spatial Vegetation Patterns Indicating Imminent Desertification Max Rietkerk (Netherlands)
Do Vegetation Indices Reliably Assess Vegetation Degradation? A Case Study in the Mongolian Pastures, Arnon Karnieli Y. Bayarjargal, M. Bayasgalan, B. Mandakh, J. Burgheimer, S. Khudulmur, and P.D. Gunin (Israel)
Results On Changes Of Vegetation Structure And Composition In Semi-Desert Steppe,B.Mandakh Ph.D, Ganchimeg Wingard, (Mongolia)
Restoration of Pasture Vegetation and Assessment of Desertification in Kazakhstan Mirzadinov R.А., Baisartova А.Y., Bayazitova Z.Е., Torgaev А.А., Makhamedzhanov N.Т., Usen К., Karnieli A., Mirzadinov (Kazakhstan)
4. Pastoralism and the Drylands (A)
Chair: Dr. Eli Zaady, Gilat Research Station, Volcani Institute
Complex Interactions Between Climate and Pastoralists in Desert Grasslands, Curtin, charles (U.S.A)
Sustainable Grazing Strategies for Semi-arid Rangelands of Central Argentina, Roberto Distel (Argentina)

Trophic interactions and the ecology of habitat degradation in grasslands, Yoram Ayal(Israel)

12:30 – 14:30Short Field Trips and Lunch Break
14:30-16:00 Parallel Sessions II
5. Remote Sensing and Assessment of Desertification Processes (A)
Chair: Professor Danny Blumberg, Ben Gurion University,
Progress in mapping global desertification, S. D. Prince (U.S.A)
Desertification Risk Assessment in Northeastern Nigeria Using Remote Sensing and GIS Techniques, Taiwo Qudus, S.O. Mohammed, (Nigeria)
Integrating Remotely-sensed Vegetation Phenology and Rainfall Metrics to Characterize Changes in Dryland Vegetation Cover: Example from Burkina Faso Stefanie Herrmann, Thomas Hopson, (U.S.A)
On the Definition of Desertification through the Case Study of the Egyptian-Israeli Borderline, Arnon Karnieli, Christine Hanisch, Zehava Siegal and Haim Tsoar (Israel)

Evaluation of optimal time-of-day for detecting water stress in olive trees by thermal remote sensing, Nurit Agam, Alon Ben-Gal, Yafit Cohen, Victor Alchanatis, Uri Yermiyahu, and Arnon Dag, (Israel)

6. Drought and Salt Resistant Plants for Sustainable Dryland Development (A)
Chair: Dr. Gozal Ben Hayyim, The Volcani Institute HYPERLINK “
Potentials for Utilizing the Mulberry (Morus Alba) and the Neem (Azadirachta Indica) For Desertification Control In Northern Ghana: the Experience of the Sericulture Promotion And Development Association, Ghana. Paul Kwasi Ntaanu (Ghana)
Phenology, Floral and Reproductive Biolgy Studies of Genus Zizipus in Negev Desert Conditions, Manoj Kulkarni, Bert Schneider and Noemi Tel-Zur (Israel)
Dissecting the Molecular control of Stomatal Movement in CAM plant: A Potential Source for Genes Conferring Drought Tolerance in C3 Plants, Yaron Sitrit (Israel)
Comparison of Germination Strategies of Four Artemisia Species (Asteraceae) in Horqin Sandy Land, China, Li Xuehua, Liu Zhimin and Jiang Demning (China)
Role of Hydrophilins in Water-stressed and Salt-stressed Environments, Dudy Bar-Zvi, (Israel)
7. Water Management Strategies in the Drylands
Chair: Dr. Alfred Abed- Rabbo, Bethlehem University,
Water Management in a Semi-arid Region: An Integrated Water Resources Allocation Modeling for Tanzania, Shija Kazumba (Tanzania/Israel)
Towards Sustainable Management of Wadis in Semi-Arid Environments- IWRM Approach, Walid Saleh, Amjad Aliewi, Anan Jayyousi (Dubai)
Is Desalination Right for Sydney? Phoenix Lawhon Isler(Australia)
16:00-16:15 Coffee Break
16:15-17:15 Parallel Sessions III
8. Remote Sensing and Assessment of Desertification Processes (B)
Chair: HYPERLINK “” Prof. Hanoch Lavee, Bar Ilan University , HYPERLINK “
Assessing Land Cover Change and Degradation in the Central Asian Deserts Using Satellite Image Processing and Geostatistical Methods, Arnon Karnieli, Tal Svoray, Uri Gilad, (Israel)
A Dynamic Model of Dryland Hydrology Using Remote Sensing, Elene Tarvansky, (United Kingdom)
The Effect of Wildfires on Vegetation Cover and Dune Activity in Australia’s Desert Dunes: A Multi-Sensor Analysis, Noam Levin, Simcha Levental, Hagar Morag (Israel)
9. Desert Ecology (B)
Chair: Dr. Yehoshua Shkedy, Chief Scientist, Israel Nature and Parks Authorit, HYPERLINK “
Is Grass Scarcity in the Chihuahuan Desert A Result of Shrub-Grass Competition or Soil Moisture Limitation? Giora Kidron and Vincent Gutschick (Israel/U.S.A)
Short-term responses of small vertebrates to vegetation removal as a management tool in Nizzanim dunes, Boaz Shacham and Amos Bouskila (Israel)

Microbial diversity of Mediterranean and Arid soil ecosystem. Ami Bachar, Ashraf Ashhab, Roey Angel, M. Ines M. Soares and Osnat Gillor, (Israel)

Effects of woody vegetation and anthropogenic disturbances on herbaceous vegetation in the northern Negev, Moran Segoli, Eugene David Ungar, Moshe Shahack (Israel)
10. Land Restoration Strategies
Chair: Dr. Avi Gafni, Director of Research, Keren Kayemeth L’Yisrael,
Role of Wetlands in Sustainable Drylands D. Mutekanga (Uganda)
Restoration of Abandoned Lands, Gabrielyan Bardukh, (Armenia)

Desertification in the Sahel: causes, prevention and reclamation Dov Pasternak (Israel)

11. Strategies for Living in the Drylands
Chair: Prof. Avigad Vonshak, Director Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research,

Micro-Climatic Effect of a Manmade Oasis During Different Season in an Extremly Hot, Dry Climate, Oded Potchter (Israel)

Ecological sanitation (ECOSAN) as an alternative approach for sustainable dry-land development, Amit Gross (Israel)
Has dependence on runoff agriculture on the dryland environment of the central Negev mountains changed significantly in the last few thousand years? Testing the contribution of the geological substrate, Wieler Nimrod. Avni Y. Benjamini C. (Israel)
12. Pastoralism and the Drylands (B)
Chair: Mr. Shmulik Friedman Head of Israel Grazing Authority HYPERLINK “
Normative Carrying Capacity of an Isralei Forest for Domesticated Grazers. David Evlagon, Samuel Komisarchik, Yehuda Nissan, No’am Seligman (Israel)
Herd No More: Livestock Husbandry Policies and the Environment in Israel: from 1900 Until Today, Liz Wachs, Alon Tal (U.S.A)
17:15-19:00 Poster Session (including contest) and Cocktail
19:00-20:00 Dinner
20:00 Evening Activities (optional)
Moonlit Hike in Nahal Haverim (Please come w/ walking shoes and warm clothes)
OR Films from the Desert Nights Film Festival (sponsored by the Italian Embassy, Tel Aviv)

8:00-8:30 Registration
8:30 – 10:15Plenary Addresses
Professor Pinhas Alpert, Director, Porter School of the Environment, Tel Aviv University,
“Climate Change’s Impact on Desertification in the Mediterranean Region”
Rattan Lal,Director, Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, Ohio State University. “Carbon Sequestration in the Drylands: Where we Are? Where we might go?”
Dan Yakir, Head, Department of Environmental Sciences & Energy Research, Weitzman Institute, “Israel Forestry, Carbon and the Drylands: Recent Findings from Israel”
Moderator: Mark Windslow, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, Germany
9:45-10:00 Coffee Break
10:00-11:30 Parallel Sessions IV
13. The Role Vegetation in Combating Desertification (A)
Chair: Dr. Elli Groner, Arava Institute for desert studies/BIDR,
Use of Indicator Species in Enhancing the Conservation of Drylands of Kenya J. Aucha, V. Palapala, and J. Shiundu (Kenya)
Green Spots as a Tool to Combat Desertification in the Aral Sea Region, Lilya Dimeyeva, (Kazakhstan)
Vegetation Change in Response to Grazing and Water Level Decline in the Enot Zukim Nature Reserve (en Fescha) Israel, Linda Whittaker, Margareta Walczak, Amos Sabach and Eli Dror (Israel)
Improving sustainability and productivity of rainfed field crops in the Negev regions
David J. Bonfil (Israel)
14. Drought and Salt Resistant Plants for Sustainable Dryland Development (B)
Chair: Professor Micha Guy, Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, HYPERLINK “
The chemical induction of Polyploidy Mutan in Zizphus Mauritiana, Noemi Tel Zur and Mohmmad A.Taher (Israel / Jordan)
Using the Model Plant Arabidopsis Thaliana and Extremophile Arabidopsis Relatives to Identify Genes that Can Confer Plant Tolerance to Arid Conditions, Simon Barak (Israel)
Recently Domesticated Native Desert Herbs for Sustainable Planting in Arid and Saline Areas, Elaine Solowey (Israel)
Pattern Formation, State Changes and Catastrophic Shifts in Poa bulbosa Production as Responses to Simulated Grazing, Hadeel Majeed, Yaakov Garb, Moshe Shachak (Israel)
Germination and seedling survival in NaCl solutions after desiccation of some halophytes-used in pasture and fodder production in the solonchak salinities of the Kyzylkum desert, in Uzbekistan, Tanya Gendler, Japakova Ulbosun, Nicolai Orlovsky and Yitzchak Gutterman (Israel)
15. Afforestation in the Drylands
Chair: Dr. Gabriel Shiller, The Volcani Institute, HYPERLINK “
Dryland Afforestation, Bill Hollingworth, (Australia)
Soil and Water Management along with Afforestation for Rehabilitation of Desertified Areas of the Israeli Negev, Yitzak Moshe (Israel)
Land Restoration in the Mediterranean, V. Ramon Vallejo, (Spain)
The Impact of Tree Shelters on Forest Survival of Eight Native Broadleaf Species in Forest Plantations in Israel, Omri Boneh (Israel)
16. Irrigation in the Drylands
Chair: Dr. Alon Ben-Gal, Gilat Research Station, Volcani Institute,
Combating Land Degradation in Irrigated Agriculture Through Systematic Characterization of Saline-Sodic Soils for Improved Irrigation Efficiency in Kenya – E.M. Muya, (Kenya)
Adaption of Drip Irrigation in Sub-Saharan Africa, Towards a Strategy for Technology Transfer, Lonia Friedlander (U.S.A)
Managing salt, nutrient and soil structure in reclaimed water irrigated vineyards of South Australia, Biswas and McCarthy (AU)
Future strategies for drainage problems in the desert area (IGNP) of Western Rajasthan in India, Kiran Soni Gupta (India)
Root zone salinity management strategy for the Australian drought, Schrale (AU)
17. Climate Change in the Drylands
Chair: Dr. Yeshayahu Bar-Or, Chief Scientist, Ministry of Environmntal Protection, HYPERLINK “
Climate Change Trends in an Extreme Arid Zone, Southern Arava (Israel and Jordan) Hanan Ginat, Yanai Shlomi, Danny Blumberg (Israel)

Climate change and its effect on Mediterranean Basin ecosystems, Pua Bar (Kutiel) (Israel)

Climatic Change and Desertification Predictive Modeling In The Northeastern Nigeria.
Dr. Ojonigu Ati And Taiwo Qudus (Nigeria)
11:30-13:30 Open Campus Lunch Break
13:30-15:00 Parallel Sessions V
18. The Role of Vegetation in Combating Desertification (B)
Chair: Mr. Tauber Israel, KKL, HYPERLINK “javascript:addSender(”
Desertification not at all costs – a matter of temporal and spatial scales and policies
Pua Bar (Kutiel) (Israel)
Cropping systems in the Indian arid zone and long-term effects of continuous cropping
N.L. Joshi (India)
Establishing the Relationships between Soils, Vegetation and Ecosystem Dynamics: A Strategy for Land Degradation Control in Nurunit Marsabit District, Kenya, E.M. Muya, (Kenya)
19. Indigenous Knowledge in the Combating of Desertification
Chair: Prof. Aref Abu Rabia, Ben Gurion University, HYPERLINK “
Ethnobotanical Approach to the Conservation of Dryland Vegetation James Aucha (Kenya)
Environmental and Economic Potential of Bedouin Dryland Agriculture, Khalil Abu Rabia, Elaine Solowey and Stefan Leu (Israel)
Traditional Knowledge and Technologies: Administration of Common Goods from the Perspective of Goat Producers in the Lavalle Desert, Laura Maria Torres (Argentina)


20. Managing Drought in the Drylands

Chair, Mr. Yaakov Lomas, Israel Metereological Institute, HYPERLINK “

Drought Risk Reduction in Rajasthan, India Madhukar Gupta (India)
Merits and Limitations in Assessing Droughts by Remote Sensing, Arnon Karnieli and Nurit Agam (Israel)
The Impact of Long Term Drought Periods in Northern Israel, Moshe Inbar (Israel)
Hydric Characterization of the Sinaloa State (Mexico), Through the Aridity and Aridity Régime Indices, Israel Velasco, (Mexico)
Economic Sustainable rainfed wheat production under Semi-Arid climatic conditions – Agrometeorological criteria for planning purposes, Lomas (Israel)
21. Carbon Sequestration
Chair: Dr. Noam Gressel, Assif Strategies, HYPERLINK “
Semi-arid Afforestation and its Effect on Land-atmosphere Interactions,
Eyal Rotenberg et. al., (Israel)
Capacity of the forest ecosystems to sequester carbon (Case of the watershed basin of Rheraya- area of Marrakech) ) Rachid Ilmen (Morocco)
Halting Land Degradation and Desertification: A Win-Win Mitigation Strategy Neglected by the Climate Establishment, Stefan Leu (Israel)
Special Round Table discussion: Mid-east Regional Cooperation to Research Desertification with Arab and Israeli Desertification Experts
Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli experts meeting and discussing common concerns and solutions to address desertification in the Middle East region.
Moderator: Prof. Avigad Vonshak
Jeffrey Cook Workshop in Desert Architecture and Planning
Architecture and Urban Planning in the Drylands
Dryland Urban Expansion: Environmental Problems and Urban Planning, the Case of Urmuqi China S. Liu (UK)
Towards a Comprehensive Methodology for Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE): A Hot Dry Climate Case Study, Isaac Meir, Eduoardo Kruger, Lusi Morhayim, Shiri Fundaminsky, Liat Frenkel, (Israel)
Sick Building Syndrome in a University Building – an Educational Survey, Lusi Morhayim, Issac Meir (Israel)
Urban Sustainability in Desert and Dryland Areas – a First Exploration, Yodan Rofe and Gabriela Feierstein (Israel/Argentina)
Microclimatic Issues in the Planning of a Modern City in a Desert Environment, Evyatar Erell (Israel)
Sustainable Architecture in the Outback/Desert Regions of Australia: The Paradigm in Theory and Practice, Terence Williamson (Australia)
Arch. Suhasini Ayer-Guigan (India)
Arch. Mary Hancock (UK)
Arch. Laureano Pietro (Italy)
15:30 Bus Ride to Mitzpe-Ramon
16:00-17:00 Sunset Overlooking the Ramon Crater, Visit to Ramon Visitor’s Center
17:30 PLENARY LECTURE: Professor Uri Shani, Director, Israel Water Authority,
“Addressing Scarcity in the Drylands: Israel’s New Water Management Strategy”,
Moderator, Ms. Hila Ackerman, Director of Environmental Department, Ramat Negev Regional Council
19:00 Dinner
20:00 Evening Activity: Music & Dancing OR Astronomy Lecture
DAY 3, December 16, 2008: FIELD TRIPS

A detailed plan will be provided separately


8:00-8:30 Registration
8:30 – 10:15Plenary Addresses/ PanelReconsidering the Axiom of “Bottom Up” Desertification Programs: Lessons Learned about Partnerships and International Assistance
Chris Braeuel UNCCD Focal Point, Canada,
Christian Mersmann, Director, The Global Mechanism of the UNCCD, Rome
Alon Tal, Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research
DelphineOuedraogo, Ministry of Environment, Focal Point to UNCCD, Burkina Faso

Moderator: TBA

10:00-10:15 Coffee Break
10:15-11:50 Parallel Sessions VI


22. The Contradictions of “Gender Equality” in Development Discourses in Desert Regions (Panel A)

Chair: Prof. Rivka Carmi, President Ben Gurion University,

Rethinking modern education among indigenous Negev Bedouin, Sarab Abu-Rabia-Queder (Israel)

Looking Ahead: Bedouin Women, Higher Education, Identity and Belonging,Ronnie Halevi (Israel/U.S.A.)

The nation and its natures: Depictions of women Environmental Educators in the Israeli Negev Desert, Miri Lavi-Neeman, (Israel/USA)

“My Life? What is there to tell?” : Interpreting the life stories of multiply marginalized women in an Israeli ‘Development Town” Sigal Ron (Israel)
23. Public Policy, Economics and Desertification
Chair: Dr. Moshe Schwartz, Ben Gurion University,
Economic Instruments for Mitigation of Desertification Problems in Armenia Gevorgyan Suren, (Armenia)
Land Degradation, Subsidies Dependency and Market Vulnerability of Stock –breeding Households in Central Crete Hugues Lorent, et. al., (Belgium)
The Value of Israel’s Forests and Desertification, Tzipi Eshet, Dafna Disegni and Mordehcai Shechter (Israel)
Current Status and Issues for Combating Desertification In Western Rajasthan, Kiran Soni Gupta, (India)
How To Put Desertification and Water Management in The Political Agenda: The South Italy Development Policies, Carlo Donolo (Italy)
24. Food Security in the Drylands
Chair: TBA
Livelihood Strategies: Indigenous Practices and Knowledge Systems in the Attainment of Food Security in Botswana, Maitseo Bolaane (Botswana)
Drought and food insecurity: a rationale for national grain reserves, Hendrik Bruins (Israel)
Drought Management Planning in Water Supply System, Enrique Cabrera (Spain)
The Impact of Drought on Agriculture in Jordan, Sawsan Batarseh and Hendrik J. Bruins (Jordan)
25. Case Studies – Projects that Combat Desertification
Chair: Beth-Eden Kite, Deputy Director, Mashav, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Combating Desertification: An Attempt at Wasteland Development in Rajasthan, India, Kusum Bhawani Shanker, (India)
Valuing the Successes of combating desertification – Experience of Burkina Faso in the rehabilitation of the productive capacity of the village territories, Ouedraogo Delphine (Burkina Faso)
Development of Drylands of Kenya Using the Jatropha Curcas Value Chain J.A. Aucha, V. Palapla, and J. Shinundu, (Kenya)
Production Diversification for Expanding the Economic Foundations of Argentinean Monte Desert Communities, Elena Maria Abraham, Giuseppe Enne (Argentina)
11:50-12:00 Coffee Break
12:00-13:00 Parallel Sessions VI
26. Bottom Up: Community Participation in Programs to Combat Desertification
Chair: Dr. Haim Divon, Deputy Director, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Man, Desert and Environment, Hanan Ginat, Noa Avriel-Avni (Israel)
People and institutional participation in forest management for sustainable development: options for drylands based on experiences from Sudan. Edinam K. Glover (Finland)
Dryland Gardening: A Sustainable Solution to Desertification? Southern Africa as a Case Study, Adam Abramson (U.S.A)

27. Culturing Desertification: Gender and the Politics of Development (Panel B)

Chair: Dr. Pnina Motzafi-Haller, Blaustein Institute for Desert Research,
Development and the Role of Women in Pakistan, Masooda Bano, (UK)

Domestic Water Provision and Gender Roles in Drylands, Anne Coles (UK)

Women’s Work: Gender and the Politics of Trash Labor in Dakar,Rosalind Fredericks, (USA)

28. The Negev Desert – Development and Conservation
Chair: Dr. Yodan Rofeh, Blaustein Institute for Desert Research,
The Israeli Negev Desert: From Frontier to Periphery, Yehuda Gradus (Israel)
The National-Strategic Plan for Developing the Negev – Negev 2015: An Old Prospect or a New Future, Na’ama Theshner (Israel)
The potential of TOD for development of the Northern Negev, Prof. Dani Gat (Israel)
Sense of place and naming in Hura as an example of the changing spatial consciousness of Beduoin in the Negev, Arnon Ben Israel and Avinoam Meir (Israel)
29. The Political Ecology of Deserts and Desertification
Chair: Dr. Yaakov Garb, Blaustein Institute for Desert Research,
Rebuilding the Land: Political Ecology of Land Degradation in Somaliland Ingrid Hartman (Germany)
Desertification Narratives (and Their Uses) in the Middle East and North Africa, Diana Davis (U.S.A)
Desertification or Greening in the Sahel? Case study of Inadvertent Greening in the Oued Kowb, Mauritania, Stefanie Herrmann, Mamadou Baro, Aminata Niang (U.S.A)
Political Ecology: Wind Erosion on the U.S. Southern High Plains
R. E Zartman and A.C. Correa (U.S.A)
30. Assessing International Efforts to Combat Desertification
Chair: Professor Uriel Safriel, Hebrew University,
Follow the Money: Navigating the International Aid Maze for Dryland Development Pamela Chasek (U.S.A)
The Global Mechanism – Lessons Learned C. Mersmann, (Italy)
Research Priorities of the UNESCO Chair on Eremology Gabriels (Belgium)
An Analytic Review for International Collaborations for Drylands Research and Sustainable Development, J. Scott Hauger (U.S.A)
A Conference to Improve the Flow of Science into the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, Mark Winslow (Germany)
13:00-14:30 Lunch and Concluding Session

e-mail:  desertification at
tel:   972-8-659-6997
fax: 972-8-659-6772


See also:

Posted on on May 17th, 2008


Posted on on November 13th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

African Ministerial Conference on the Financial Crisis: 12 November 2008: Tunis, Tunisia: African Ministers of Finance and Central Bank Governors are meeting   to discuss the global financial crisis and its potential impacts on African economies.   Organized by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Union Commission and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the Conference aims to mobilize Africans with a view to seeking an answer to the global financial crisis.
For more information, see:…

African Conference of Ministers in Charge of Environment on Climate Change for post-2012: Algiers, Algiers; 19-20 November 2008: The African Conference of Ministers in Charge of Environment on Climate Change for post 2012 is expected to discuss and adopt outcomes related to: the Bali Action Plan: international Cooperation basis or obligation of the share of commitments; meaning   and scope   of the concepts of ” Comparable efforts” and     “Shared Vision” for developing countries; sectoral approach: impacts and consequences on African countries’   development; and   meaning and scope of the concepts of Measurable, Verifiable and Reportable (M.R.V) for developed and developing countries.
For more information, see:

Meeting of the Executive Committee and Technical Advisory Committee of the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW): 24-28 November 2008, Nairobi, Kenya. The AMCOW Executive Committee (AMCOW-EXCO) and the AMCOW Technical Advisory Committee will meet to consider approaches to carrying forward the Sharm El Sheikh Declaration and Commitments on Water and Sanitation (adopted by the African Union Summit, Egypt, June 2008).
For more information, see:

Ecological Agriculture: Towards Food Security and Sustainable Rural Development in Africa: 26-28 November 2008, African Union Headquarters, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This conference is organized by the African Union, UN Food and Agriculture Organization and Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development,   in collaboration with the Institute for Sustainable Development, Ethiopia and Third World Network. The conference aims to raise the awareness of policy makers so that they can enhance the capacity of Africa’s smallholder farmers.
For more information, contact: African Union Commission, Box 3243, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Tel: 251 (11) 552-5844; Fax 251-11-552-5835; E- mail:  ahono_olembo at

Richard Sherman
Programme Manager, Africa Regional Coverage Project
International Institute for Sustainable Development- Reporting Services
300 E 56th   St Apt 11A New York, NY 10022 USA
US Mobile: 646 379 3250
E-mail:  richards at

International Institute for Sustainable Development

Subscribe for free to our publications


Further from IISD:

Dear AFRICASD-L Subscribers;
The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), in cooperation with the Secretariat for the Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), is pleased to announce the launch of the LAND-L announcement list.

To subscribe to the LAND-L list, please visit

This new distribution list, similar to IISD’s other announcement lists CLIMATE-L, FORESTS-L, WATER-L, CHEMICALS-L, MEA-L, OCEANS-L, ENERGY-L and AFRICASD-L, has been launched in conjunction with the new Comprehensive Communication Strategy of the UNCCD

The purpose of LAND-L is to provide a free, moderated, community communications tool, allowing subscribers to post announcements related to desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD) as well as sustainable land management (SLM) events, policy developments, publications and new initiatives. LAND-L is not a discussion list and is limited to non-commercial, non-political announcements.

After signing up for LAND-L at   please check your email folders after subscribing and respond to a confirmation email.

Any subscriber may use this new list to send announcements to the other subscribers on the list by sending emails to  LAND-L at

For assistance in subscribing to LAND-L, please send email to IISD Reporting Services Digital Manager, Diego Noguera, at  diego at

Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI
Director, IISD Reporting Services
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) — United Nations Office
300 E 56TH ST 11A – New York, NY 10022
Fax: +1 646 219-0955 Mobile phone/SMS: +19172934781
Email:  kimo at Skype: kimogoree Blog:
Where:   Istanbul Nov 10-13, NY 15-28, Poznan 29-1 Dec, Rome 2-3


Posted on on November 12th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

 The Washington Post gives us indication of the very active, though private, work of the Obama transition team of 450.

The headquarters are in Chicago, and the President elect is busy also returning phone calls from World leaders.

Among the Tuesday calls were calls to:

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil
His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India
His Majesty King Abdullah of Jordan
President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya.

Previously it was also noted that Obama returned calls from leaders of most US allies – those in Europe and also among others, China, Japan and Israel.

Obama will not go to the G-20 meeting in Washington, but we do not think that he will be out of reach by phone.

Obama Also Lays Out Ethics Rules.
President-elect Barack Obama today released a series of ethics guidelines for those working in the transition operation, a continuation of the anti-lobbying policies adopted by the Illinois Senator during his primary and general election campaigns.

The ethics rules — no federal lobbyist can raise or contribute money for the transition efforts, no one who has lobbied in the last 12 months can advise the transition on the policy area on which they lobbied, no one involved in the policy work of the transition can lobby on that issue for a calendar year — were announced by transition co-chair John Podesta during a press briefing for reporters this afternoon. (Full details of the Obama ethics plan for the transition are after the jump.)

Podesta cast the new ethics rules as a leading indicator of what he termed “the most open and transparent transition in history.” Podesta added that members of the transition team will sign an ethics code laying out the specific principles announced today.

Asked about reports of tension between President George W. Bush and Obama in their meeting Monday, Podesta demurred, saying only that it was a “private meeting” in which the auto industry as well as plans for an economic recovery package were raised.

Podesta rejected reports that the passage of economic stimulus plan or a package to help the auto industry was part of a proposed legislative exchange for the elimination of Democratic opposition to the Colombia free trade agreement.

“While the topic of Colombia came up, there was no quid pro quo,” Podesta asserted. He added that the relations between the current White House and the Obama transition teams have been “collegial” and “cooperative”.

Podesta said that Obama had no plans to meet with any of the world leaders coming to town for the G20 gathering this weekend and aimed at addressing the global economic crisis. The President-elect will send an emissary to the meetings but Podesta would not offer any names as to the identity of that liaison.

As for the nuts and bolts of the transition itself, Podesta said that the budget was approximately $12 million with $5.2 million of that coming in appropriations from Congress. The remaining $6.8 million will be raised by the transition operation, according to Podesta.

The total transition staff will reach approximately 450 individuals, said Podesta, adding that beginning Monday a top to bottom review of every government agency would begin in an effort to insure “we hit the ground running on Jan. 20 because we don’t have a moment to lose.”

Podesta offered few specifics about the naming of Cabinet officials other than to indicate that the announcements would likely be made by Obama in Chicago. As for White House senior staff, those announcements “will come out as they are ready to be announced.”

Obama Ethics Rules

* Federal Lobbyists cannot contribute financially to the transition.

* Federal lobbyists are prohibited from any lobbying during their work with the transition.

* If someone has lobbied in the last 12 months, they are prohibited from working in the fields of policy on which they lobbied.

* If someone becomes a lobbyist after working on the Transition, they are prohibited from lobbying the Administration for 12 months on matters on which they worked.

* A gift ban that is aggressive in reducing the influence of special interests.

By Chris Cillizza |   November 11, 2008; 3:00 PM ET


Posted on on November 8th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

World News Desk – November 6, 2008,…
World Reacts to Historic Presidential Win: Celebrations erupted across the world as American citizens elected Barack Obama to be the 44th president of th   United States.

U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) comes out to greet the crowd, along with his wife, Michelle, and children Malia, 10, and Sasha 7, at his Election Night Rally in Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois, Nov. 4, 2008.
Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT

Newspaper headlines from Azerbaijan to Argentina speculated about what kind of changes a presidency under Mr. Obama would bring to the world, who has been viewed as a global denizen and force of international unification.

Chandra Bhan Prasad, a prominent Indian author: “This is America’s second revolution, and Obama’s victory will boost the esteem of the underprivileged social classes and ethnic groups the world over” (Washington Post).

Samir Saadi, a Saudi journalist: “Given Obama’s name, his background, the doubts about his religion, Americans still voted for him and this proved that America is a democracy,’ he said. ‘People here are starting to believe in the U.S. again'” (ibid.).

Viktor Yerofeyev, Russian novelist: “The choice of an African American president in the United States overturns the whole idea of the stiff and conservative America. This means that America did wake up. This means that America is again open for free and democratic values. America has once again become a good model to emulate. It has again become a great country” (ibid.).

Kenya, the nation from where Mr. Obama’s late father was born, even declared a national holiday to celebrate the U.S. senator’s victory to the “most powerful office on earth” (Daily Nation).

Many world leaders were equally optimistic.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd: “Senator Obama’s message of hope is not just for America’s future, it is also a message of hope for the world as well” (Washington Post).

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen: “Barack Obama’s remarkable personal story—allied to his eloquence and his huge political talents—sends a powerful message of hope to America’s friends across the world” (ibid.).

Jose Manuel Barroso, European Commission President: “I sincerely hope that with the leadership of President Obama, the United States of America will join forces with Europe to drive this new deal. For the benefit of our societies, for the benefit of the world” (Jerusalem Post).

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev: “Russian-U.S. relations are historically an important factor of stability in the world. They are of great and sometimes, of key importance for resolving many pressing international and regional problems…We are confident that it is necessary to step-by-step enhance cooperation between our countries on a wide range of issues on the world agenda, but also to really promote bilateral interaction in all areas” (Itar-Tass).

French President Nicolas Sarkozy: “By choosing you, the American people have chosen change, openness and optimism…At a time when all of us must face huge challenges together, your election raises great hope in France, in Europe and elsewhere in the world” (AFP).

Kenyan Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka: “It is exciting for Kenya not only because of continental attachment to President-elect because of his roots in Kenya but because Obama victory is a harbinger of good tidings especially for our tourism sector” (Daily Nation).

Chinese President Hu Jintao: “The Chinese government and I myself have always attached great importance to China-US relations. In the new historic era, I look forward to working together with you to continuously strengthen dialogue and exchanges between our two countries and enhance our mutual trust and cooperation on the basis of the three Sino-US Joint Communiques, with a view to taking our constructive and cooperative relationship to a new high and bringing greater benefits to people of our two countries and the rest of the world” (China Daily).

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez: “The historical election of an Afro-descendant to rule the most powerful nation of the world is a symptom that the epoch change that has been gestated from the South of America could be knocking the doors of United States” (Agencia Bolivariana de Noticias).

BBC News also outlined the “Top 10 foreign challenges for Obama,” alluding that there could be “problems in new areas of al-Qaeda activity, especially Algeria and Somalia” when he takes office.

Although most government officials were excited about the historic win, several tried to be realistic.

The Jerusalem Post: “‘We are not the first priority,’ one senior diplomatic official said, reflecting the consensus thinking in the Foreign Ministry. According to this thinking, the new president will first need to tackle the economy, the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, the tension with Russia and a worsening situation for the U.S. in South America—the U.S.’s ‘own backyard’—before tackling the Middle East conflict.'”

Der Spiegel also featured a series of commentaries from various European leaders about what they want to see under the new president-elect.

Margot Wallström of Sweden, the vice-president of the European Commission: “The U.S. has been particularly successful in creating growth and jobs, and maintaining competitiveness through technological innovation rather than low labor costs. The EU on the other hand has brought forward an ambitious climate change package and works hard to promote social justice. As we have seen in Scandinavia—where the concept of the flexicurity seems to have been born—it is possible to combine economic growth with social justice…I believe the era of U.S. unilateralism is over, and that partnership with Europe has become a central plank of U.S. foreign policy.”

Democrats in the United States were equally elated about Mr. Obama’s win.


Posted on on November 6th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Thursday, Nov. 6, 2008

Fukui town of Obama erupts in victory parties

Staff writer, The Japan Times.
OBAMA, Fukui Pref. — Yes we did. That’s what residents in the Sea of Japan town of Obama were chanting Wednesday during a boisterous celebration following Barack Obama’s victory in the U.S. presidential election.

Obama for Obama: Residents of the town of Obama, Fukui Prefecture, rejoice Wednesday at the news that U.S. Sen. Barack Obama will be the next U.S. president. KYODO PHOTO

Nearly 150 Obama supporters, including a number of Americans, were on hand to celebrate Barack Obama’s victory as America’s next president.

Until the U.S. presidential campaign attracted international media attention, the town had been known in Japan more for its fresh seafood, proximity to nuclear power plants and for being home to two Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea, than as a bastion of ardent support for a U.S. presidential candidate.

The party kicked off Wednesday morning with Hawaiian dancing performed by the “Obama Girls,” in honor of Obama’s adoptive state, where his grandmother, who passed away Monday, had lived.

There was also a performance by the Anyone Brothers Band, who played a rendition of their hit single (in Obama at least) “Obama is Beautiful.”

Many residents were excited about the victory, but some also wondered what kind of change the new president can bring to U.S.-Japanese relations, especially under Japan’s current government.

“He’s young, so he’ll have lots of new ideas and he ran on the mandate of change. Hopefully, he’ll use his connection with our town to improve Japan’s relations with the U.S.,” said Masao Okao, a local guide.

“Obama’s election is good news for now. But will he make Japanese-U.S. relations better? It’s difficult to say if he’ll have a good relationship with (Prime Minister Taro) Aso,” said Hiroko Morishita, who owns a small restaurant in the town. “We may have to wait until after the Lower House election to see what direction Japanese-U.S. relations will take.”

Not all residents were excited by the prospect of their namesake becoming the U.S. president, however.

One local fisherman, who refused to give his name, said he feared that under the new president, who has said he favors direct talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, there will be no progress on the fate of the Japanese who were abducted to North Korea.

Two Japanese, Yasushi and Fukie Chimura, were abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and returned to Japan in 2002. Both are from Obama.

Town leaders hope the international fame generated by their support will translate into increased business opportunities, and local merchants are already selling Obama Burgers, Obama sushi rolls (called Victory Wraps) and other products with the president-elect’s face stamped on them.

Alcillena Wilson, a black American English teacher and Obama supporter based in the town, said it is possible more tourists visiting Japan will make the trip to Obama.

“Obama is only a couple of hours from Kyoto, so the town is in a good position to attract tourists from abroad who want a day trip,” she said.

The town’s support for the president-elect began early this year after unconfirmed reports that the candidate had passed through Japan last year and jokingly told immigration officials he was “Obama who had come from Obama.”

A support group for Obama’s candidacy was formed, and the mayor sent Obama a small selection of local products and an explanation about the town.

“I understand Obama is a city of rich culture, deep traditions and natural beauty. We share more than a common name. We share a common planet and common responsibilities. I’m touched by your friendly gesture,” Obama said in a thank you letter sent to the mayor in February.

Obama officials plan to attend the January inauguration in Washington, and will issue a formal invitation for Obama to visit their town after he is sworn in.

At a separate ceremony Wednesday evening, Kenyan Ambassador to Japan Dennis Awori, representing the country where Obama’s father was born, said it was a great day for the city of Obama, for the U.S. and for Kenya.

America’s relations with Africa are expected to grow particularly strong under Obama, he said.

Obama Mayor Koji Matsuzaki added that his city hoped to form a sister-city relationship with the Kenyan town of Kisumu.


Posted on on November 5th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Obama greeted as a global leader:
Whether from frustration with the two-term administration of George W. Bush or excitement over this historic election of an African-American candidate, much of the world responded to the election of Barack Obama with hope and enthusiasm. The New York Times (11/5) , Google/The Associated Press (11/5)

Obama faces a world in crisis:
Foreign policy challenges ranging from Iran’s nuclear initiative to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and America’s tattered international reputation are likely to be top priorities for the Obama administration. “The new president-elect is going to have a full foreign policy in-box and decisions to make with enormous consequences for American security,” said James Lindsay, a former foreign policy aide to President Bill Clinton. Reuters (11/5)
World leaders look to Obama for financial solutions

Even as they struggle against the global financial meltdown at home, foreign politicians are looking to President-elect Barack Obama to define a new economic order that will lead the U.S. and the rest of the world out of the crisis. Obama, who has supported a massive economic stimulus package, is expected to quickly name his Treasury secretary and other key team members. The Globe and Mail (Toronto) (11/5)

Russia greets Obama election with missile warning:
Wasting no time on congratulations, Russian leader Dmitri Medvedev warned President-elect Barack Obama that Russia is considering the deployment of short-range missiles to neutralize the proposed U.S. defense shield in eastern Europe and will drop plans to dismantle others. “We earlier planned to take three missile regiments within the missile division stationed in Kozelsk off combat duty and discontinue the division itself by 2010. I have decided to refrain from these plans,” he said. The New York Times (free registration) (11/5)

Obama presidency seen as moderating force in Muslim world:
Although President-elect Barack Obama campaigned in part on strong support for Israel, his election is seen by many in the Islamic world as a potentially moderating force after the strained relations of the Bush years. Bloomberg (11/5) , Google/Agence France-Presse (11/5)

Kenyans celebrate Obama as native son:
Barack Obama’s kinsmen in Kenya greeted his election with jubilation, while the nation’s government declared Thursday a public holiday. Obama, whose father was Kenyan, is considered a native son, with a high school and beer already named in his honor and the national theater currently performing “Obama — The Musical.” Los Angeles Times (free registration) (11/5) , BBC (11/5)


Posted on on August 20th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (


Africa mourns loss of a leader unafraid to speak his mind

One Sunday in late June, Levy Mwanawasa, the Zambian president who died yesterday aged 59, was on the eve of the most momentous day of his career.He had been the first…
Aug 20 2008, By Tom Burgis, Financial Times
Zambian president dies in France

Levy Mwanawasa, the Zambian president who was laid low by a stroke hours before he was…would like to inform the nation that our president, his Excellency Dr Levy Mwanawasa, died this morning at 10.30am at Percy Military Hospital,” Rupiah Banda…
Aug 19 2008, By Tom Burgis in Johannesburg, site
Zambian leader’s health worsens

The health of Levy Mwanawasa, the ailing Zambian president who has been a sharp critic of Robert Mugabe, his Zimbabwean counterpart, has deteriorated, his deputy…
Aug 18 2008, By Tom Burgis in Johannesburg, site
Zambian mystery

The fate of Levy Mwanawasa, Zambia’s president, was last night shrouded in confusion amid reports that he had died in a Paris hospital after suffering a stroke…
Jul 04 2008, By Tom Burgis in Johannesburg, Financial Times
Zambia refutes rumours of president’s death

Zambia on Thursday moved to end the confusion surrounding the fate of Levy Mwanawasa, dismissing reports that the president had died in a Paris hospital after suffering a stroke.”These are false and malicious rumours…
Jul 04 2008, By Tom Burgis in Johannesburg, site
International pressure on Mugabe grows

…Mugabe if he claims victory in Friday’s poll.In some of the toughest words on Zimbabwe yet from an African leader, Levy Mwanawasa, the Zambian president and current chairman of the Southern African Development Community, described the situation…
Jun 24 2008, By James Blitz, Tom Burgis and William Wallis, Financial Times
International pressure to replace Mugabe grows

…Mugabe if he claims victory in Friday’s poll.In some of the toughest words on Zimbabwe yet from an African leader, Levy Mwanawasa, the Zambian president and current chairman of the Southern African Development Community, described the situation…
Jun 24 2008, By James Blitz, Tom Burgis and William Wallis, Financial Times
Global pressure to replace Mugabe grows

…Mugabe if he claims victory in Friday’s poll. In some of the toughest words on Zimbabwe yet from an African leader, Levy Mwanawasa, the Zambian president and current chairman of the Southern African Development Community, described the situation…
Jun 23 2008, By James Blitz, Tom Burgis and William Wallis, site
Africa must act to avoid being engulfed by Zimbabwe’s disaster

…President Paul Kagame is among the first to raise his head above the parapet, joining Botswana’s Ian Khama and Zambia’s Levy Mwanawasa in a growing band of African leaders who are prepared to condemn a tyrant. Not only has Robert Mugabe put southern…
Jun 25 2008, By Michael Holman and Greg Mills, site
Harare buffeted by winds of change blowing through region

…sea-change in the thinking of the 14- nation Southern African Development Community.Regional diplomats indicate that Levy Mwanawasa, Zambia’s president, and Ian Khama, Botswana’s new leader, are impatient with the region’s traditional reverence for…
May 01 2008, By Alec Russell in Cape Town, Financial Times


Africa mourns loss of a leader unafraid to speak his mind.

By Tom Burgis

Published: August 20 2008 03:00 | Last updated: August 20 2008 03:00

One Sunday in late June, Levy Mwanawasa, the Zambian president who died yesterday aged 59, was on the eve of the most momentous day of his career.

He had been the first to break the longstanding deference of African rulers towards Robert Mugabe, condemning the abuses that had culminated in the Zimbabwean autocrat claiming victory in a discredited election. As early as March last year, Mwanawasa had referred to the “sinking Ti-tanic” that was Zimbabwe’s inflation-battered economy.

Now, as the serving chair of the southern African bloc, the retiring former lawyer would carry the hopes of many Zimbabweans into an African Union summit in Egypt at which Mr Mugabe would try to stare down his counterparts into legitimising his flawed triumph.

For a man most at ease in small gatherings, assiduously reading his briefing papers or escaping to the family farm for the planting season, the ordeal ahead was immense. Alphabetical seating by country was to have put him next to Mr Mugabe.

It proved too much. Always in poor health since the car crash 17 years earlier that left him with slurred speech, Mwanawasa suffered a stroke. Even as he was flown to the Paris hospital where he would die seven weeks later, the summit was welcoming Mr Mugabe back to the fold, thwarting the efforts of a handful of Mwanawasa’s like-minded peers.

The second son of 10 siblings, Mwanawasa was born in Mufulira, near the Congolese border, in 1948, 16 years before Zambia’s independence from Britain.

A crusading legal career established his public profile. When the one-party state of Kenneth Kaunda unravelled into elections in 1991, Frederick Chiluba, the victorious leader of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy, appointed Mwanawasa as vice-president.

In 2001, disillusioned with the pervasive corruption of the Chiluba regime, Mwanawasa turned on – and ousted – his mentor. Within weeks he had stripped his predecessor of immunity from prosecution. A London court later found that Mr Chiluba had salted away $46m (€31m, £25m) of public funds.

Mwanawasa’s anti-graft offensive won him the allegiance of international donors who flooded state coffers with aid. China came calling too, tempted by some of the world’s richest copper deposits. Economic growth rose from just over 3 per cent a year when he took office to 6 per cent last year.

Yet, as his critics point out, about seven in every 10 Zambians still live on less than $2 a day. “Wealth has trickled downwards but it has not trickled outwards to the rural areas,” said a European diplomat in Lusaka. “That challenge is only just beginning.”

It is not clear who will take up that challenge. Mwanawasa avoided anointing an heir. His death has thrown his party into turmoil as cabinet ministers who thought they had three more years to jockey for position face an election within three months. The discord may open a window for Michael Sata, the opposition leader who came second when Mwanawasa won a second term in 2006 and who has lambasted the government’s fiscal orthodoxy.

Those who knew Mwanawasa, who had six children with his wife Maureen and two from a previous marriage, describe a man whose unspectacular oratory masked a deep conviction.

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of Zimbabwe’s opposition, yesterday lamented the death of “a good friend and comrade”. He added: “Sadly, he has left us at this most trying time.”



Posted on on August 2nd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Strange, Short Tenure of UN’s Verbeke in Lebanon, Reports of Safety Threats.

UNITED NATIONS, August 1 — The UN announced Friday that Johan Verbeke, who only recently was appointed UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, is being given a new assignment, as UN envoy to Abkhazia, Georgia. On July 24, Inner City Press asked UN spokesperson Michele Montas why Verbeke had not meaningfully deployed to Lebanon. Ms. Montas responded that “I can simply tell you that Mr. Verbeke had to go back home for personal reasons, family reasons, and that’s why he was not in Lebanon.”

    Inner City Press has been told by well-placed Beirut sources that Mr. Verbeke faced threats to his safety, to such an extent that rather than rely on UN Security, he approached the Lebanese government and even the Hariri family. Neither could offer assurances.   He stayed for a time in the Moven Pick hotel, Inner City Press is told and can now report, given his transfer to Georgia. But ultimately he left Lebanon due to lack of security, Inner City Press is told.

  At the August 1 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked UN spokesperson Montas why Verbeke was leaving, personal or safety?   From the transcript

 Inner City Press: “I didn’t know that there was announcement today of Mr. Verbeke.   Before I had asked, and you had said there was some personal issue.   I don’t want to get into any personal issue, but I do want to ask you, I had heard that there were some security concerns.   I know that you also don’t like to talk about them.   Specific, not to just the mission in general, but to Mr. Verbeke himself.   Either threats or that he’d sought protection from either the Lebanese Government or the Hariris, various things.   Does this transfer, what is, how does it relate to whatever the personal issue was, which I don’t want to know what it was?   But is it because of a personal issue or is because of a safety issue?   What’s the basis of the transfer?”

    Ms. Montas said, “I am not aware of the details.” Video here, from Minute 24:08.

Mr. Verbeke speaks at UN, by image of Mandela next to his Belgian flag.


    {He will be replaced by Michael Williams, returning to the UN from a stint with the UK government. Why is it safer in Lebanon for British Williams than Belgian Verbeke? And Verbeke does not go home to his family but to Abhazia.

Various theories have been advanced to Inner City Press, including some connection to an investigation of the bombing of U.S. embassies in East Africa last decade.

What is concrete is that due to this uncertainty, the UN was un- or under-represented even at the inauguration of Lebanon’s new president.  

Another part-time UN envoy, Terje Roed-Larsen, competed with the head of UN Peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guehenno to attend – The result was the UN becoming less and less of a player in the conflicts of the Middle East. This is perhaps quite good as it was clearly still unable to do something about the Hariri Family Victimized by the Syrian killings.}


Posted on on July 25th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (


Barak Obama: “A World That Stands as One”

As Prepared For Delivery – Berlin, Germany,   July 24th, 2008

Thank you to the citizens of Berlin and to the people of Germany. Let me thank Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Steinmeier for welcoming me earlier today. Thank you Mayor Wowereit, the Berlin Senate, the police, and most of all thank you for this welcome.
I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen – a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.
I know that I don’t look like the Americans who’ve previously spoken in this great city. The journey that led me here is improbable. My mother was born in the heartland of America, but my father grew up herding goats in Kenya. His father – my grandfather – was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.
At the height of the Cold War, my father decided, like so many others in the forgotten corners of the world, that his yearning – his dream – required the freedom and opportunity promised by the West. And so he wrote letter after letter to universities all across America until somebody, somewhere answered his prayer for a better life.
That is why I’m here. And you are here because you too know that yearning. This city, of all cities, knows the dream of freedom. And you know that the only reason we stand here tonight is because men and women from both of our nations came together to work, and struggle, and sacrifice for that better life.
Ours is a partnership that truly began sixty years ago this summer, on the day when the first American plane touched down at Templehof.
On that day, much of this continent still lay in ruin. The rubble of this city had yet to be built into a wall. The Soviet shadow had swept across Eastern Europe, while in the West, America, Britain, and France took stock of their losses, and pondered how the world might be remade.
This is where the two sides met. And on the twenty-fourth of June, 1948, the Communists chose to blockade the western part of the city. They cut off food and supplies to more than two million Germans in an effort to extinguish the last flame of freedom in Berlin.
The size of our forces was no match for the much larger Soviet Army. And yet retreat would have allowed Communism to march across Europe. Where the last war had ended, another World War could have easily begun. All that stood in the way was Berlin.
And that’s when the airlift began – when the largest and most unlikely rescue in history brought food and hope to the people of this city.
The odds were stacked against success. In the winter, a heavy fog filled the sky above, and many planes were forced to turn back without dropping off the needed supplies. The streets where we stand were filled with hungry families who had no comfort from the cold.
But in the darkest hours, the people of Berlin kept the flame of hope burning. The people of Berlin refused to give up. And on one fall day, hundreds of thousands of Berliners came here, to the Tiergarten, and heard the city’s mayor implore the world not to give up on freedom. “There is only one possibility,” he said. “For us to stand together united until this battle is won…The people of Berlin have spoken. We have done our duty, and we will keep on doing our duty. People of the world: now do your duty…People of the world, look at Berlin!”
People of the world – look at Berlin!
Look at Berlin, where Germans and Americans learned to work together and trust each other less than three years after facing each other on the field of battle.
Look at Berlin, where the determination of a people met the generosity of the Marshall Plan and created a German miracle; where a victory over tyranny gave rise to NATO, the greatest alliance ever formed to defend our common security.
Look at Berlin, where the bullet holes in the buildings and the somber stones and pillars near the Brandenburg Gate insist that we never forget our common humanity.
People of the world – look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one.
Sixty years after the airlift, we are called upon again. History has led us to a new crossroad, with new promise and new peril. When you, the German people, tore down that wall – a wall that divided East and West; freedom and tyranny; fear and hope – walls came tumbling down around the world. From Kiev to Cape Town, prison camps were closed, and the doors of democracy were opened. Markets opened too, and the spread of information and technology reduced barriers to opportunity and prosperity. While the 20th century taught us that we share a common destiny, the 21st has revealed a world more intertwined than at any time in human history.
The fall of the Berlin Wall brought new hope. But that very closeness has given rise to new dangers – dangers that cannot be contained within the borders of a country or by the distance of an ocean.
The terrorists of September 11th plotted in Hamburg and trained in Kandahar and Karachi before killing thousands from all over the globe on American soil.
As we speak, cars in Boston and factories in Beijing are melting the ice caps in the Arctic, shrinking coastlines in the Atlantic, and bringing drought to farms from Kansas to Kenya.
Poorly secured nuclear material in the former Soviet Union, or secrets from a scientist in Pakistan could help build a bomb that detonates in Paris. The poppies in Afghanistan become the heroin in Berlin. The poverty and violence in Somalia breeds the terror of tomorrow. The genocide in Darfur shames the conscience of us all.
In this new world, such dangerous currents have swept along faster than our efforts to contain them. That is why we cannot afford to be divided. No one nation, no matter how large or powerful, can defeat such challenges alone. None of us can deny these threats, or escape responsibility in meeting them. Yet, in the absence of Soviet tanks and a terrible wall, it has become easy to forget this truth. And if we’re honest with each other, we know that sometimes, on both sides of the Atlantic, we have drifted apart, and forgotten our shared destiny.
In Europe, the view that America is part of what has gone wrong in our world, rather than a force to help make it right, has become all too common. In America, there are voices that deride and deny the importance of Europe’s role in our security and our future. Both views miss the truth – that Europeans today are bearing new burdens and taking more responsibility in critical parts of the world; and that just as American bases built in the last century still help to defend the security of this continent, so does our country still sacrifice greatly for freedom around the globe.
Yes, there have been differences between America and Europe. No doubt, there will be differences in the future. But the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together. A change of leadership in Washington will not lift this burden. In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more – not less. Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity.
That is why the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another. The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.
We know they have fallen before. After centuries of strife, the people of Europe have formed a Union of promise and prosperity. Here, at the base of a column built to mark victory in war, we meet in the center of a Europe at peace. Not only have walls come down in Berlin, but they have come down in Belfast, where Protestant and Catholic found a way to live together; in the Balkans, where our Atlantic alliance ended wars and brought savage war criminals to justice; and in South Africa, where the struggle of a courageous people defeated apartheid.
So history reminds us that walls can be torn down. But the task is never easy. True partnership and true progress requires constant work and sustained sacrifice. They require sharing the burdens of development and diplomacy; of progress and peace. They require allies who will listen to each other, learn from each other and, most of all, trust each other.
That is why America cannot turn inward. That is why Europe cannot turn inward. America has no better partner than Europe. Now is the time to build new bridges across the globe as strong as the one that bound us across the Atlantic. Now is the time to join together, through constant cooperation, strong institutions, shared sacrifice, and a global commitment to progress, to meet the challenges of the 21st century. It was this spirit that led airlift planes to appear in the sky above our heads, and people to assemble where we stand today. And this is the moment when our nations – and all nations – must summon that spirit anew.
This is the moment when we must defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it. This threat is real and we cannot shrink from our responsibility to combat it. If we could create NATO to face down the Soviet Union, we can join in a new and global partnership to dismantle the networks that have struck in Madrid and Amman; in London and Bali; in Washington and New York. If we could win a battle of ideas against the communists, we can stand with the vast majority of Muslims who reject the extremism that leads to hate instead of hope.
This is the moment when we must renew our resolve to rout the terrorists who threaten our security in Afghanistan, and the traffickers who sell drugs on your streets. No one welcomes war. I recognize the enormous difficulties in Afghanistan. But my country and yours have a stake in seeing that NATO’s first mission beyond Europe’s borders is a success. For the people of Afghanistan, and for our shared security, the work must be done. America cannot do this alone. The Afghan people need our troops and your troops; our support and your support to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda, to develop their economy, and to help them rebuild their nation. We have too much at stake to turn back now.
This is the moment when we must renew the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. The two superpowers that faced each other across the wall of this city came too close too often to destroying all we have built and all that we love. With that wall gone, we need not stand idly by and watch the further spread of the deadly atom. It is time to secure all loose nuclear materials; to stop the spread of nuclear weapons; and to reduce the arsenals from another era. This is the moment to begin the work of seeking the peace of a world without nuclear weapons.
This is the moment when every nation in Europe must have the chance to choose its own tomorrow free from the shadows of yesterday. In this century, we need a strong European Union that deepens the security and prosperity of this continent, while extending a hand abroad. In this century – in this city of all cities – we must reject the Cold War mind-set of the past, and resolve to work with Russia when we can, to stand up for our values when we must, and to seek a partnership that extends across this entire continent.
This is the moment when we must build on the wealth that open markets have created, and share its benefits more equitably. Trade has been a cornerstone of our growth and global development. But we will not be able to sustain this growth if it favors the few, and not the many. Together, we must forge trade that truly rewards the work that creates wealth, with meaningful protections for our people and our planet. This is the moment for trade that is free and fair for all.
This is the moment we must help answer the call for a new dawn in the Middle East. My country must stand with yours and with Europe in sending a direct message to Iran that it must abandon its nuclear ambitions. We must support the Lebanese who have marched and bled for democracy, and the Israelis and Palestinians who seek a secure and lasting peace. And despite past differences, this is the moment when the world should support the millions of Iraqis who seek to rebuild their lives, even as we pass responsibility to the Iraqi government and finally bring this war to a close.
This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet. Let us resolve that we will not leave our children a world where the oceans rise and famine spreads and terrible storms devastate our lands. Let us resolve that all nations – including my own – will act with the same seriousness of purpose as has your nation, and reduce the carbon we send into our atmosphere. This is the moment to give our children back their future. This is the moment to stand as one.
And this is the moment when we must give hope to those left behind in a globalized world. We must remember that the Cold War born in this city was not a battle for land or treasure. Sixty years ago, the planes that flew over Berlin did not drop bombs; instead they delivered food, and coal, and candy to grateful children. And in that show of solidarity, those pilots won more than a military victory. They won hearts and minds; love and loyalty and trust – not just from the people in this city, but from all those who heard the story of what they did here.
Now the world will watch and remember what we do here – what we do with this moment. Will we extend our hand to the people in the forgotten corners of this world who yearn for lives marked by dignity and opportunity; by security and justice? Will we lift the child in Bangladesh from poverty, shelter the refugee in Chad, and banish the scourge of AIDS in our time?
Will we stand for the human rights of the dissident in Burma, the blogger in Iran, or the voter in Zimbabwe? Will we give meaning to the words “never again” in Darfur?
Will we acknowledge that there is no more powerful example than the one each of our nations projects to the world? Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law? Will we welcome immigrants from different lands, and shun discrimination against those who don’t look like us or worship like we do, and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people?
People of Berlin – people of the world – this is our moment. This is our time.
I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we’ve struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We’ve made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.
But I also know how much I love America. I know that for more than two centuries, we have strived – at great cost and great sacrifice – to form a more perfect union; to seek, with other nations, a more hopeful world. Our allegiance has never been to any particular tribe or kingdom – indeed, every language is spoken in our country; every culture has left its imprint on ours; every point of view is expressed in our public squares. What has always united us – what has always driven our people; what drew my father to America’s shores – is a set of ideals that speak to aspirations shared by all people: that we can live free from fear and free from want; that we can speak our minds and assemble with whomever we choose and worship as we please.
These are the aspirations that joined the fates of all nations in this city. These aspirations are bigger than anything that drives us apart. It is because of these aspirations that the airlift began. It is because of these aspirations that all free people – everywhere – became citizens of Berlin. It is in pursuit of these aspirations that a new generation – our generation – must make our mark on the world.
People of Berlin – and people of the world – the scale of our challenge is great. The road ahead will be long. But I come before you to say that we are heirs to a struggle for freedom. We are a people of improbable hope. With an eye toward the future, with resolve in our hearts, let us remember this history, and answer our destiny, and remake the world once again.

* * * * *

Obama Delivers Soaring Call for Unity in Berlin
Thursday 24 July 2008, by: Agence France-Presse

Barack Obama spoke in Berlin addressing a crowd estimated at over 200,000. (Photo: AP / Jae C. Hong)

Berlin – Barack Obama Thursday challenged a new generation of Americans and Europeans to tear down walls between estranged allies, races, and faiths in a soaring call for global unity at an unprecedented mass campaign rally in Berlin.
The Democratic White House candidate told tens of thousands of people near the footprint of the old Berlin Wall that humanity faced a perilous turning point, and it was time to build “a world that stands as one.”
“The greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another,” said Obama, who has scorched through US politics at lightning speed to challenge Republican John McCain for the White House in November’s election.

The strikingly audacious speech, in a fevered atmosphere in Berlin’s famed Tiergarten, took the White House race out of US borders in a way never seen before, and was designed to portray Obama as a leader with unique global appeal.

“The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand,” he said, referring to festering divisions between Europe and the United States opened up by the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
“The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand,” said Obama, in an address beamed live on US and German television channels and to viewers around the world.
“The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down,” Obama said, drawing cheers and applause.

Obama’s speech was a clear echo of former US president Ronald Reagan’s call to then Soviet leader Mikhael Gorbachev in Berlin in 1987 to “tear down this wall,” before the fall of Communism.

Despite its soaring cadences however, the speech was short on specifics. Obama’s aides said he would not talk policy as that is the job of a president but his critics will likely slam him for empty rhetoric.

The Illinois senator rebuked both his country and Europe for blaming one another for strains in their relations, but took pains to insulate himself from critics back home who doubt his patriotism.

“I also know how much I love America. I know that for more than two centuries, we have strived, at great cost and great sacrifice, to form a more perfect union; to seek, with other nations, a more hopeful world.”
“In Europe, the view that America is part of what has gone wrong in our world, rather than a force to help make it right, has become all too common,” the 46-year-old first term senator said.
“In America, there are voices that deride and deny the importance of Europe’s role in our security and our future. Both views miss the truth.”

Obama, who has a narrow lead in most polls of the US race, but trails McCain when voters are asked who would be the most credible commander in chief, used Berlin’s triumph over division and totalitarianism as a metaphor for the world he hoped to forge.

“People of the world – look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one,” Obama said.

In a speech that risked being seen as presumptuous, considering Obama will not even face US voters for another three months, he warned of a world where partnership was not a choice but the only means of survival.
“We cannot afford to be divided. No one nation, no matter how large or powerful, can defeat such challenges alone,” he said.

He promised America under his watch would be serious about tackling global warming, a huge concern in Europe and a cause of rifts between the continent and the United States during the Bush administration.
But he also signalled he would demand Europe live up to its side of the bargain, asking for more help in the struggle against al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

“America cannot do this alone,” Obama said.
“The Afghan people need our troops and your troops; our support and your support to defeat the Taliban and al-Qaeda, to develop their economy, and to help them rebuild their nation.
“We have too much at stake to turn back now.”


Posted on on July 23rd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

From:  unnews at
Subject: UN DAILY NEWS DIGEST – 23 July
Date: July 23, 2008

23 July, 2008


The United Nations envoy to Somalia told the Security Council today that
there were limited choices for bringing peace to the violence-wracked Horn
of Africa country, but that the time had come to make a final decision on
the best possible option.

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah said that the options included converting the current
African Union peacekeeping mission to Somalia, known as AMISOM, to a UN
operation by “rehatting” the troops, creating an international
stabilization force or establishing a new UN peacekeeping force.

Mr. Ould-Abdallah also called on the Council to make a strong public
expression of support for the peace agreement signed in Djibouti in June
between the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and the Alliance for
the Re-Liberation of Somalia.

“Given that Somalis have suffered for so long, and the current favourable
political context following the Djibouti Agreement, it is time for the
Security Council to take bold, decisive and fast action,” he said in a
statement to the council.

“An effective implementation of the Agreement should be an incentive to
bring more Somalis on board and give them a chance to contribute to the
birth of their country,” he said, noting that “in all peace processes some
individuals or groups always set out by rejecting agreements.”

Acknowledging that violence had been pervasive in Somalia for a long time,
the envoy said the Djibouti Agreement provided an opportunity to
marginalize and eventually stop such violence. He also called for a review
of the names on the Security Council sanctions list to recognize the role
of individuals who had decided to change their behaviour and support peace.

Mr. Ould-Abdallah added that the peace agreement should provide security
for humanitarian programmes in the country, in particular for naval escorts
for the UN World Food Programme (WFP), which brings 80 per cent of its food
aid to Somalia by sea. He said that it was unfortunate that these escorts
had now ceased.

On the humanitarian front, the envoy said he sympathized with Somali
nations who constitute more than 95 per cent of aid workers in south and
central Somalia.

“They risk their lives daily and all too often have been the innocent
victims of targeted killings. With international determination, as shown in
Kosovo and elsewhere, the individuals carrying out these terrible deeds
should not be given a chance to prevail,” he said.

* * *


The head of the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur
(UNAMID) met today with President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan at the mission’s
headquarters in El Fasher.

Mr. al-Bashir reiterated his country’s resolve to provide security for
UNAMID staff and convoys. “You are our guests and our partners,” he said,
“and we are ready to provide any assistance that will help you do your

The Joint Special Representative told the President that UNAMID’s
deployment was besieged by numerous challenges, but said that the mission
was strengthening its resolve to reach its full capacity as soon as

The Sudanese leader expressed his condolences to UNAMID and the families of
those peacekeepers that have lost their lives in Darfur while serving the
mission. Seven blue helmets were killed in an ambush earlier this month in
North Darfur and, just over a week later, another was shot dead in West

Mr. Adada pointed out that UNAMID had thousands of containers awaiting
“movement along the difficult and sometimes dangerous routes into Darfur,”
and called on the Sudanese Government to ensure that the convoys reach
their destinations safely.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sudan, Ashraf Qazi,
also travelled to Darfur and attended the meetings with the President.

UNAMID reported that the deployment of an Egyptian engineering unit had to
be postponed after the airport was closed for the President’s visit. New
dates for the deployment are yet to be confirmed.

Meanwhile, the mission announced that it is continuing to suspend the
temporary relocation of its non-essential UN personnel. Some 300 people
were moved out of Darfur before the relocation was halted last Friday.

Earlier this week, Mr. Adada met Amr Moussa, the Secretary-General of the
Arab League, to discuss cooperation and peace in Darfur in the wake of the
recent war crimes charges sought by the International Criminal Court (ICC)
Prosecutor against Mr. al-Bashir.

Some 300,000 people are estimated to have been killed as a result of direct
combat, disease or malnutrition since 2003. Another 2.7 million people have
been displaced because of fighting between rebels, Government forces and
allied militiamen known as the Janjaweed.
* * *


The Sudanese Government today signed an agreement with United Nations
agencies operating in the country on a four-year aid plan covering
peacebuilding, governance and the rule of law, employment, education and
health care as well as other services.

The agreement, known as the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF),
was signed by representatives of the Government of National Unity and the
Government of Southern Sudan and 18 UN agencies headed by Humanitarian and
Resident Coordinator Ameerah Haq.

Ms. Haq said the new agreement, which covers the years 2009 to 2012, “will
enable us to move beyond annual planning, and set more ambitious
development goals with the help of all our national and international
partners. With the endorsement of this planning tool, the UN will spare no
effort in helping the country achieve tangible progress toward the
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).”

“The consolidation of peace and stability in the country remains the
ultimate goal of the UNDAF process,” she added.

Welcoming the new agreement, Sudan’s State Minister of International
Cooperation El Elias Nyamlell Wakoson said that it “represents an important
step in terms of moving forward jointly with a common vision of our
strategic direction in support of the peace process.”


Posted on on July 16th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

UN Lets China Import African Ivory As It Did For Japan In 1999.

ELIANE ENGELER, Associated Press, July 15, 2008 from GENEVA.

A U.N. panel granted China permission today to import elephant ivory from African government stockpiles despite opposition from some countries and environmental groups.

The standing committee overseeing the U.N. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES, voted 9-3 with two abstentions that China qualified for the exception needed for the one-time auction because it has dramatically improved its enforcement of ivory rules.

Ivory trade was banned globally in 1989, but reviving elephant populations allowed African countries to make a one-time sale a decade later to Japan, the only country which had previously won the right to import. Now, about after another 10 years, China joins the infamy.

Last year, CITES authorized Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe to make a second sale of 108 tons of government stocks.

The body’s spokesman, Juan Carlos Vasquez, said after today’s vote that China and Japan would bid for their share of ivory at an auction later this year.

The stocks approved for sale include around 44 tons from Botswana, 9 tons from Namibia, 51 tons from South Africa and 4 tons from Zimbabwe.

CITES Secretary-General Willem Wijnstekers said the body will closely supervise the sale.

“We will continue monitoring the Chinese and Japanese domestic trade controls to ensure that unscrupulous traders do not take this opportunity to launder ivory from illegal origin,” he said in a statement.

China was pleased with the decision. “China has strived for this status for a long time,” said Wan Ziming, a member of the Chinese delegation.

Still, there was opposition to China’s inclusion in the latest auction from African countries Ghana and Kenya, which joined Australia in trying to block the decision. Those in favour included Britain, the European Union and Japan.

“It’s very evident that China has made an enormous commitment,” Tom Milliken, a senior investigator at Traffic, the world’s largest wildlife trade monitor, said Monday. “Seizures are occurring at a very fast clip these days. The government is putting a lot more in enforcement efforts.”

Mr. Wan said the Chinese would do their best to ensure that “illegal ivory cannot enter into the legal market.”

But some environment groups disagreed and said their case was strengthened by the Chinese government’s revelation that it lost track of 121 tons of ivory over a dozen years that probably was sold on illegal markets.

China told the CITES in 2003 that the “shortfall” – equal to the tusks from about 11,000 dead elephants – was accumulated between 1991 and 2002. The Associated Press obtained the document last week from the Environmental Investigation Agency, a watchdog based in Washington and London that was seeking to prevent China from gaining permission to trade ivory.

Allan Thornton, the agency’s chairman, said last week that China had left too many questions unanswered to be given the right to import. He said trading of ivory – a booming black market commodity, with tusks, jewellery and trinkets bringing in millions of dollars for smugglers and sellers since the 1989 ban – was “out of control.”

The agency said more than 20,000 elephants a year are killed illegally in Africa and Asia for the ivory black market, and that Chinese nationals have been implicated in illegal ivory seizures in more than 20 African nations.

Mr. Milliken, who was part of CITES’ original mission to China in 2005, disagreed.

“Does illegal trade continue? Yes. But that’s probably inevitable,” Mr. Milliken said, adding that Japan showed that one-time ivory sales had no correlation with a rise in illegal smuggling.

Trade in elephant ivory far eclipses any demand for other animals’ tusks.

Much of the ivory destined for China is carved into jewellery and ornaments bought by tourists from other parts of Asia.

After the sale, the four southern African countries will not be allowed to export ivory again for nine years and must use the sale proceeds for programs to protect their elephant populations.


Posted on on July 4th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

World News Desk – July 3, 2008 –

African Union Seeks to Resolve Zimbabwe Crisis.

The African Union (AU) held its 11th summit, primarily to discuss the political crisis in Zimbabwe. The result wa a call for a national unity government, following the widely condemned run-off re-election of incumben President Robert Mugabe. To escape the ensuing violence, the challenging opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has withdrawn a week earlier, taking refuge in the Dutch embassy for more than a week.

The meeting of the pan-African summit highlighted a deep division among the continent’s other countries regarding what to do about the Zimbabwean crisis, particularly Mr. Mugabe, who has historically been considered a “liberation hero.” The summit’s resolution fell short of a much stronger statement wanted by some nations.

According to a Reuters report, Botswana, which borders Zimbabwe’s west, called for Mr. Mugabe to be barred from both the AU and the Southern African regional body SADC. Mompati Merafhe, vice-president of Botswana, said that Mr. Mugabe’s participation in African meetings “would give unqualified legitimacy to a process which cannot be considered legitimate.” He added that the government and opposition must be treated as equal in any mediation. Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga made a similar call.

South Africa, the regional power, resisted the stronger statement for the AU, and called for the crisis to be resolved by the SADC, which it chairs. South African President Thabo Mbeki, however, has been criticized for what has been seen as ineffective mediation and favoritism towards Robert Mugabe. The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), an opposition party to Mr. Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), issued a statement: “The MDC’s reservations about the mediation process under President Mbeki are well known. It is our position that unless the mediation team is expanded to include at least one permanent representative from the African Union, and the mediation mechanism is changed, no meaningful progress can be made toward resolving the Zimbabwean crisis. If this does not happen, then the MDC will not be part of such a mediation process.”

In addition, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who just began his six-month presidency of the European Union, said the EU would only accept a Zimbabwean government led by Mr. Tsvangirai, who is generally accepted to have beaten Mr. Mugabe in the first round of the March 29 election.
The AU’s position is tenuous at best, as Mugabe representative George Charamba had earlier rejected any Kenyan-style power-sharing deal, and MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti more recently said there was no chance of negotiations.

A Christian Science Monitor article pointed out that the AU’s inability to directly rebuke Robert Mugabe regarding an election that its own monitors say “fell short” of AU standards (e.g., due to acts of violence) shows that the body is unable to live up to promises of “African solutions for African problems.”

“This clearly indicates that there are no shared and common values around what good governance is, what democracy is,” said Chris Maroleng, a security analyst at the Institute for Security Studies in Tshwane, South Africa. “A lot of our leaders have questionable democratic credentials, so it’s not surprising that the AU fell short of the mark” (ibid.).

“A government of national unity at this stage is a nonstarter,” Mr. Maroleng added. Unless there is a complete restructuring of the Zimbabwean constitution, a change in the executive powers of the presidency, any power-sharing deal at this point would permanently tilt the advantage, in the favor of Mr. Mugabe. “It’s placing icing over a rotten core. It would look nice, but underneath, it would still be rotten” (ibid.).

In the meantime, the U.S. was preparing a United Nations resolution calling for economic sanctions against Robert Mugabe and 11 of his compatriots, as well as imposing an embargo on arms sales or military hardware to Harare. The position was to express “deep concern at the gross irregularities during the June 27 run-off presidential election (and) the violence and intimidation perpetrated in the run-up to the election that made impossible the holding of free and fair elections” (Reuters).

All the while, the people of Zimbabwe continue to endure severe financial and social hardship.


Posted on on June 20th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Food Crisis Accelerates Africa’s Rural-Urban Drift, UN Says.
By Eric Ombok

June 19 (Bloomberg) — Stagnating agricultural production in Africa is fueling a population drift from rural areas to the cities that may lead to civil unrest, the head of the United Nations Human Settlements Program, Anna Tibaijuka, said.

“If we do not secure the African farming system, all these people will be heading to urban areas,” Tibaijuka told a regional meeting of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization today in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. “Where are the hungry? Where are the rioters? You will find most of them in urban areas.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the Food Security Summit this month in Rome that the world needed to spend as much as $20 billion a year on agriculture to tackle a 60 percent rise in food prices over the past 18 months that has sparked riots in more than 30 countries.

The percentage of Africans living in urban areas will rise to 60 percent in the next two decades, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki told the meeting. That compares with about 37 percent as of 2004, according to the UN settlements program, known as UN- Habitat.

“Those engaged in agricultural production will be fewer than is the case today” and will be expected to feed more people, Kibaki said.

He called for greater investment in developing irrigation and water-supply systems, which he said could triple crop production on the continent.

Water Resources

About 4 percent of Africa’s renewable water resources have been harnessed for irrigation, hydropower and domestic and commercial use, compared with between 70 percent and 90 percent in industrial nations, he said.

“While the African continent is considered to be a water- deficit region, we have some of the largest global water basins which are yet to be fully exploited,” Kibaki said.

Right now, most of Africa agriculture depends on “unreliable rainfall,” FAO Executive Director Jacques Diouf told the meeting.

Most African governments are failing to meet the commitment made at a 2004 meeting in Maputo, Mozambique, to spend 10 percent of their national budgets on farming, Kenyan Agriculture Minister William Ruto said. He also called for increased research into high-yield, drought-resistant seeds and the production of fertilizer.

“Unless we invest in and finance agriculture, we are unlikely to change the tide” of food insecurity, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Ombok in Nairobi via Johannesburg at  pmrichardson at


We must repeat – go to Malawi and learn how it is done. Start with a government that wants to do it.       In case of crisis, remember, sending out food rather then teaching how to grow the local food – is just a temporary crutch that makes the recepient even more dependent on crutches.  


Posted on on June 4th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

 UN food summit hammers out plan for world’s hungry.

From Times Online, June 4, 2008 – Richard Owen in Rome.

President Lula da Silva of Brazil defended the use of biofuels, of which his country is a major producer.

Delegates to the UN summit on the world food crisis today began hammering out an emergency plan to reduce hunger and help Third World farmers despite often testy disagreement behind the scenes over the future of biofuels.

The three-day summit, convened by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), which is based in Rome, ends tomorrow, when the final communique will be issued outlining both short-term and long-term solutions.

A draft declaration vows to eliminate hunger and secure “food for all, today and tomorrow”. The leaders undertake to “stimulate food production and increase investment in agriculture” while “addressing obstacles to food access and using the planet’s resources sustainably for present and future generations”.

The draft document calls for a reduction in trade barriers and food export restrictions, emergency food aid, increased crop yields and guidelines on the use of biofuels.

Related Links from Times Online…
What leaders are eating at the UN food summit
Mugabe: UK trying to topple me
Quick fixes will not solve deeper food crisis

FAO officials said 850 million people already faced famine or malnutrition, and rising food and fuel prices would push that figure over the one billion mark, with the risk of further riots and instability in affected nations. Prices of staples such as rice, corn and wheat have soared.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said it was rolling out an additional US$1.2 billion in food assistance to help tens of millions of people in more than 60 nations hardest hit by the food crisis.

“With soaring food and fuel prices, hunger is on the march and we must act now,” Josette Sheeran, Executive Director of WFP, told the summit.

She said that WFP was “helping the world to weather the storm” by tripling the number of people who receive food in Haiti, doubling those who will receive food in Afghanistan, and delivering assistance to people in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. “We have mobilised our 10,000 employees and every dollar and Euro given to us to reach as many hungry people as we can at this critical time,” she said.

The first day of the summit was dominated by controversy over the presence of the President Ahmadinejad of Iran and President Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Today, however, delegates got down to the nitty-gritty of the food crisis, with the United States and Brazil – the world’s largest producer of sugar-cane ethanol – defending the diversion of crops for energy in the face of growing criticism.

The US plans to use 25 per cent of its corn crop for ethanol production by 2022, and the European Union aims to obtain 10% of its car fuel from bio-energy by 2020. The US Agriculture Secretary, Ed Schafer, insisted that “the use of sustainable biofuels can increase energy security, foster economic development especially in rural areas and reduce greenhouse gas emissions without weighing heavily on food prices.”

He said the US was “deeply concerned by the current crisis…..We are now projecting to spend nearly five billion dollars in 2008 and 2009 to fight global hunger”.

But Jacques Diouf, director general of the FAO, said: “Nobody understands how $11-12 billion-a-year subsidies in 2006 and protective tariff polices have had the effect of diverting 100m tonnes of cereals from human consumption, mostly to satisfy a thirst for fuel for vehicles.”

Mr Schafer responded that biofuels had contributed under 3 per cent to food price increases. However FAO officials said biofuels accounted for 59 per cent of the increase in global use of coarse grains and wheat between 2005-2007, and 56 per cent of the increase in vegetable oils. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that biofuels are responsible for up to 30 per cent of the price rises overall.

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the President of Brazil, accused critics of biofuels of hypocrisy. “It offends me to see fingers pointed at biofuels, which produce clean energy, when those fingers are soiled with oil and coal,” he said. “It is frightening to see attempts to draw a cause and effect relationship between biofuels and the rise of food prices”.

But he took a swipe at the US version of biofuel, saying that corn-based ethanol was less efficient than fuel produced with sugar cane, and could only compete “when it is shored up with subsidies and shielded behind tariffs”. Yasuo Fukuda, the Japanese Prime Minister, added: “In some cases, biofuel production is in competition with food supply…..We need to ensure that biofuel production is sustainable.”

The Rome summit will be followed by the G8 summit in Japan next month and the final stages of the stalled World Trade Organisation (WTO) Doha round of talks on global trade. Pascal Lamy, the head of WTO, said a Doha deal “would reduce the trade-distorting subsidies that have stymied the developing world’s production capacity”.

Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary-General, said “Nothing is more degrading than hunger, especially when man-made”. He said the “global price tag” to overcome the food crisis would be $15 billion to $20 billion a year. Food supplies would have to rise 50 per cent by the year 2030 to meet demand.

Douglas Alexander, Britain’s International Development Secretary, said that Western farm subsidies were also responsible for food price rises. “It is unacceptable that rich countries still subsidise farming by $1 billion a day, costing poor farmers in developing countries an estimated $100 billion a year in lost income,” he said


Posted on on June 4th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

03 June 2008
Is there something Israeli agriculture can learn from Africa?
As a somewhat reluctant African, it never occurred to me that there might be something Israeli agriculture could learn from its African (in this case Kenyan) counterpart.

A news item on a local radio station caught my attention, however, and I followed up on the story later. According to what appears to be the source:

With the stringent EUREGAP conditions imposed by the European Union, an increasing number of smallholder farmers are turning to organic farming to secure markets for their fresh produce.

The push for organic farming is also being made locally by the growing number of Kenyans who are adopting healthy eating habits and demanding food with low chemical content.

That means demand for food with no additives and those grown with little or no inorganic farm inputs such a fertilisers, herbicides and insecticides is on the rise.

The term EUREGAP in the above quote should actually be EurepGAP. According to the EurepGAP website, the function and goals of the body are as follows (the GAP in EurepGAP refers to Good Agricultural Practices).

What is EurepGAP?

EurepGAP is a private sector body that sets voluntary standards for the certification of agricultural products around the globe.
EurepGAP is an equal partnership of agricultural producers and retailers which want to establish certification standards and procedures for Good Agricultural Practices (GAP).
EurepGAP is a pre-farm-gate-standard that means the certificate covers the process of the certified product from before the seed is planted until it leaves the farm. EurepGAP is a business-to-business label and is therefore not directly visible for the consumers.
EurepGAP is a set of normative documents. These documents cover the EurepGAP General Regulations, the EurepGAP Control Points and Compliance Criteria and the EurepGAP Checklist.

The Goals of EurepGAP

The EurepGAP standard is primarily designed to maintain consumer confidence in food quality and food safety. Other important goals are to minimize detrimental environmental impacts of farming operations, optimize the use of inputs and to ensure a responsible approach to worker health and safety.

While agriculture is still one of Israel’s greatest success stories, the agricultural sector has had to fend off criticism regarding its share of Israel’s appetite for fresh water, which contrasts with its diminishing share in the Israeli GDP. In a number of previous posts, I have suggested that a gradual conversion to an organic agricultural philosophy and practices may be part of the way forward for Israeli agriculture.

The water crisis is not the only challenge to the showpiece of Zionism. Climate change, the premium commanded by organic produce and the health of the Israeli public and workers in the farm sector also point to the wisdom of such a migration. Let’s hope that the nation’s pantry will seize the opportunity to redefine itself before it’s too late.

MASHAV, Israel’s international development cooperation program has been assisting in the development of agriculture in Africa since the late 1950s. This glimpse into a possible future may well be Africa’s way of repaying some of that debt.

(Coincidentally, MASHAV – celebrating its 50th anniversary – has just hosted an International Conference on Israel and the African Green Revolution “to present various approaches to agricultural development on the African continent and discuss how to effectively implement them in order to alleviate the present food and water crisis”.)



Boutique wineries: a model for the survival of Israeli agriculture?

Water: What price should Israeli agriculture pay?

Winemaking as an appropriate agricultural export for Israel

Technorati Tags: Center for International Cooperation, EurepGAP, Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), Israel, MASHAV, Organic farming, Water crisis
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Posted on on May 30th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (


The Rich Get Hungrier.
Wednesday 28 May 2008

by: Amartya Sen, The New York Times

In January of 2007, tens of thousands of Mexicans marched in the streets to protest a leap of 50 percent in the price of corn tortillas.

Will the food crisis that is menacing the lives of millions ease up – or grow worse over time?

The answer may be both. The recent rise in food prices has largely been caused by temporary problems like drought in Australia, Ukraine and elsewhere. Though the need for huge rescue operations is urgent, the present acute crisis will eventually end. But underlying it is a basic problem that will only intensify unless we recognize it and try to remedy it.

It is a tale of two peoples. In one version of the story, a country with a lot of poor people suddenly experiences fast economic expansion, but only half of the people share in the new prosperity. The favored ones spend a lot of their new income on food, and unless supply expands very quickly, prices shoot up. The rest of the poor now face higher food prices but no greater income, and begin to starve. Tragedies like this happen repeatedly in the world.

A stark example is the Bengal famine of 1943, during the last days of the British rule in India. The poor who lived in cities experienced rapidly rising incomes, especially in Calcutta, where huge expenditures for the war against Japan caused a boom that quadrupled food prices. The rural poor faced these skyrocketing prices with little increase in income.

Misdirected government policy worsened the division. The British rulers were determined to prevent urban discontent during the war, so the government bought food in the villages and sold it, heavily subsidized, in the cities, a move that increased rural food prices even further. Low earners in the villages starved. Two million to three million people died in that famine and its aftermath.

Much discussion is rightly devoted to the division between haves and have-nots in the global economy, but the world’s poor are themselves divided between those who are experiencing high growth and those who are not. The rapid economic expansion in countries like China, India and Vietnam tends to sharply increase the demand for food. This is, of course, an excellent thing in itself, and if these countries could manage to reduce their unequal internal sharing of growth, even those left behind there would eat much better.

But the same growth also puts pressure on global food markets – sometimes through increased imports, but also through restrictions or bans on exports to moderate the rise in food prices at home, as has happened recently in countries like India, China, Vietnam and Argentina. Those hit particularly hard have been the poor, especially in Africa.

There is also a high-tech version of the tale of two peoples. Agricultural crops like corn and soybeans can be used for making ethanol for motor fuel. So the stomachs of the hungry must also compete with fuel tanks.

Misdirected government policy plays a part here, too. In 2005, the United States Congress began to require widespread use of ethanol in motor fuels. This law combined with a subsidy for this use has created a flourishing corn market in the United States, but has also diverted agricultural resources from food to fuel. This makes it even harder for the hungry stomachs to compete.

Ethanol use does little to prevent global warming and environmental deterioration, and clear-headed policy reforms could be urgently carried out, if American politics would permit it. Ethanol use could be curtailed, rather than being subsidized and enforced.

{ So – even a Nobel Peace Prize Wining Economist, of the stature of Amartia Sen, can show total ignorance yet speak up in loud voice, making public that ignorance, by not trying to analyze what he was fed as information by clearly vested interests. We said this many times, but in reverence to Professor Sen, we will repeat this once more:

Ethanol could have been made out of the corn that was NOT GROWN, rather then from the food commodity. The point is that the agricultural policy in the US and in the EU is based on “Set-Asides” that leave land out of production in a subsidization of the commodity prices policy. So there is land available to grow an extra amount of corn.}
The global food problem is not being caused by a falling trend in world production, or for that matter in food output per person (this is often asserted without much evidence). It is the result of accelerating demand. However, a demand-induced problem also calls for rapid expansion in food production, which can be done through more global cooperation.

While population growth accounts for only a modest part of the growing demand for food, it can contribute to global warming, and long-term climate change can threaten agriculture. Happily, population growth is already slowing and there is overwhelming evidence that women’s empowerment (including expansion of schooling for girls) can rapidly reduce it even further.

What is most challenging is to find effective policies to deal with the consequences of extremely asymmetric expansion of the global economy. Domestic economic reforms are badly needed in many slow-growth countries, but there is also a big need for more global cooperation and assistance. The first task is to understand the nature of the problem.


Amartya Sen, who teaches economics and philosophy at Harvard, received the Nobel Prize in economics in 1998 and is the author, most recently, of “Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny.”


Posted on on May 26th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

EYE ON THE UN: For Immediate Release – May 26, 2008 – The US Memorial Day.

Contact: Anne Bayefsky
(917) 488-1558
 anne at

UN Racism Conference to be held in Geneva April 20-24, 2009 – Ironically over Holocaust Remembrance Day.

May 26, 2008

The next UN racism conference – known as Durban II or the Durban Review Conference – will be held on UN premises in Geneva from April 20-24, 2009, a UN preparatory committee decided today.

Anne Bayefsky, editor of, said “holding the meeting at a UN venue on European soil will essentially guarantee funding from the UN regular budget for the conference, and that the European Union will fully participate and not follow boycott plans of Canada, the United States and Israel.”

The European Union had been insisting on a shorter session in New York, but the African Group refused to agree on the New York venue and wanted a 5-day conference. The idea floated by some states of again holding the conference in Durban, South Africa fell through when South Africa withdrew its offer to host the event. Throughout negotiations the African group was tightly controlled by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, with Egypt acting as their spokesperson.

Bayefsky noted “Ironically, the Durban Review Conference will take place over Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yom HaShoah on April 21, 2009.

Jews all over the world will be remembering the 6 million murdered in the worst instance of racism and xenophobia in human history.

At the same time, the United Nations will be discussing whether the Jewish state, created in the wake of the Holocaust and standing as a bulwark to ensure it is never repeated, should be demonized as the worst practitioner of racism and xenophobia among nations today.”

Durban II is intended to promote the implementation of the 2001 Durban Declaration, which singled out only Israel and labeled Palestinians as victims of Israeli racism.


For once South Africa showed the courage to stand up and be counted among the Nations – the rest of Africa – we must note – is nothing but a rug at the feet of the Islamic world – Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibuti, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, Marocco … all countries were black Africans suffer from the Egyptian led OIC intrusions on their continent. The UN is just a conduit for making the world pay the bill.