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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 24th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)



NIGERIAN LEADER PROPOSES CREATION OF UN CONFLICT MEDIATION COMMISSION

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan today proposed to the General Assembly the creation of a conflict mediation commission within the office of the United Nations Secretary-General to develop strategies for the resolution of disputes across the world.

Such a commission would be tasked with collating information on conflicts, identifying the parties to them and developing rules of engagement, including the sanctions that would apply to those who obstruct efforts to resolve disputes peacefully, Mr. Jonathan told the Assembly’s annual general debate in New York.

“For the world to move from a culture of response after conflict to that of a culture of prevention, the international community must muster the political will to promote preventive diplomacy, in particular through mediation,” said Mr. Jonathan.

He said conflicts were also linked to the proliferation of small arms and pledged that Nigeria remains committed to the implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty that addresses the problem of illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.

Mr. Jonathan also voiced concern over the increasing incidence of piracy and maritime crime in West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea and expressed his support for the Secretary-General’s proposal to send a UN assessment mission to the region to study the situation and explore possible options for UN support and action.

He pointed that Nigeria had in the recent past faced an upsurge in incidents of terrorism, including the suicide bomb attack on UN House in the capital, Abuja, on 26 August that claimed the lives of 23 people, including 11 UN staff, and said his country will continue to work with the world body and other partners to combat the scourge.

He announced that the UN Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) will launch its first project in Abuja in November intended to prevent conflict and counter the appeal of terrorism to youth through education and dialogue.

* * *

AFRICA THE FOCUS AS UN CHIEF HOLDS TALKS WITH TANZANIAN AND ERITREAN LEADERS

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with the leaders of Eritrea and Tanzania today to discuss some of the many political and humanitarian challenges confronting Africa.

In a tête-à-tête with Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki, held on the sidelines of the General Assembly’s annual general debate, Mr. Ban discussed peace and security issues in the Horn of Africa, particularly Somalia, Sudan and the long-standing border demarcation issue between Eritrea and Ethiopia.

Separately, the Secretary-General also met Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete and offered his personal condolences following the boat accident off the island of Zanzibar on 10 September that claimed the lives of nearly 200 people.

Mr. Ban and Mr. Kikwete also discussed Tanzania’s constitutional review process, as well as regional peace, security and development, including the situation in Somalia.

* * *

HOME-GROWN METHODS OF MEDIATION WORK BEST, RWANDA TELLS GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Conflict mediation efforts will be far more successful if they are home-grown and harness the capacities of young people and regional groups or institutions, Rwandan President Paul Kagame told the opening of the General Assembly’s annual general debate today.

Speaking at United Nations Headquarters in New York, Mr. Kagame warned that traditional methods of diplomacy can frequently take a toll on the people they are supposed to help.

“Too often, while resolutions are being debated and refined, people are dying,” he said. “And sometimes when those resolutions are eventually adopted, enforcement is slow, or they only halt the conflict for a short time but with no sustainable solutions.”

The theme of this year’s general debate is the role of mediation in resolving conflicts and the Rwandan leader stressed in his remarks that national ownership of the process remains vital.

“Mediation efforts must be based on an over-riding desire to bring conflicting parties to resolve their differences. But this should not be confused with supporting one side in the conflict, or imposing a solution in the interests of the mediators.”

He said the most effective way to prevent conflict from even arising was to empower citizens, particularly young people, so that they feel they have an important stake in the management and stability of their community or country.

“This generation carries less historical and political baggage, and is more inclined to getting the most out of this global village we all find ourselves sharing.

“With social and communication tools, they are key innovators and thought leaders not only of tomorrow but right now. We have an important responsibility to empower them.”

Mr. Kagame said mediation processes must be based on “specific cultural and political contexts. In Rwanda, for instance, we have seen this produce long-lasting solutions and tangible results on the ground because they are home-grown.

“It is also important to involve regional and sub-regional players, who have ample knowledge of the often complex regional dynamics of the conflicts in the mediation efforts. These organizations should be supported expeditiously, before disputes escalate into intractable conflicts.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 31st, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

We are not as enthusiastic about the UN as Mr. Jeffrey Laurenti seems to be, but nevertheless, his posting contains a lot of verifiable facts. Also, the man has quite a background in pro-UN activities in the US.

Jeffrey Laurenti is senior fellow and director of foreign policy programs at The Century Foundation. He is the author of numerous monographs on subjects such as international peace and security, terrorism, U.N. reform, international narcotics policy, and many other topics. He was executive director of policy studies at the United Nations Association of the United States until 2003, and then served seven years on  the association’s Board of Directors. He also served as deputy director of the United Nations Foundation’s United Nations and Global Security initiative, which was established with backing from The Century Foundation to support the debate on international security of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change commissioned by the United Nations secretary-general. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

He was candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1986, senior issues adviser to the Mondale/Ferraro campaign in 1984, and from 1978 to 1984 was executive director of the New Jersey Senate.

He is the coeditor of Breaking the Nuclear Impasse: New Prospects for Security against Weapons Threats (The Century Foundation Press, 2007) and Power and Superpower: Global Leadership and Exceptionalism in the 21st Century(The Century Foundation Press and the Center for American Progress, 2007)

 takingnote.tcf.org/2011/08/suicid…

A CENTURY FOUNDATION GROUP Blog Takingnote.tcf.org

Suicide attacks on U.N. — in Abuja and in Washington.

by Jeffrey Laurenti, New York City, August 29, 2011.

Preoccupied as they were over the weekend by the looming threat of Hurricane Irene, Americans were scarcely aware of the deadly suicide bomber attack that leveled the United Nations offices in Nigeria’s capital of Abuja on Friday.  A group with deepening ties to Al Qaeda claimed responsibility.
Islamist extremists’ hostility to the United Nations is well known.  Osama bin Laden famously reviled it as “nothing but a tool of crime” that “surrendered the land of Muslims [Palestine] to the Jews” and works hand-in-glove with the United States in places like Afghanistan.

But the United Nations is now at risk from an even more destructive assault – from conservative fundamentalists now in power in the U.S. Congress.

After two years of the closest and most productive cooperation in decades at the U.N. between Washington and the rest of the international community, it is hard to understand why Republicans in the House of Representatives are determined to poison the well.

After all, the United Nations authorized limited international military action to stay the murderous hand of Moammar Qaddafi in Libya, a long-time conservative bête noire.  In Afghanistan the U.N. has successfully upheld the integrity of Afghan elections in the face of efforts at massive fraud.

The Security Council adopted a remarkably even-handed resolution about the Israeli attack on last year’s Gaza flotilla.  U.N. peacekeepers enforced a handover of power to the legitimate winner of Côte d’Ivoire’s presidential election.

Yet, seemingly compulsively, House Republicans have reverted to snubbing the U.N., as if they still believe that showing contempt for international law and institutions proved itself a successful tool of American foreign policy in the days of George Bush and Dick Cheney.

Last month the House foreign affairs committee approved an authorization bill for America’s foreign relations for the coming fiscal year that sought to claw back the gains that the Obama administration has made for America at the United Nations.  The bill goes to the House floor next month.

On a series of party-line votes, Republican members voted to cut by nearly 10 percent the funding line for the U.S. share of U.N. peace operations, which are assessed on all U.N. member states based on relative share of the global economy.

They voted to bar payment of the U.S. share of peace operation expenses at the level that had been arduously negotiated in a protracted battle a decade ago, unilaterally reducing it to 25 percent.  (European Union payments total well beyond 40 percent.)

They voted to reduce payment of U.S. dues owed to all international organizations by 25 percent because member states, including Washington, have increased the U.N. regular budget.

And, in a striking demonstration of feverish opposition to even acknowledging the reality of global warming, committee Republicans closed ranks to eliminate the U.S. share of the Global Climate Change Initiative.  With former Utah governor Jon Huntsman lamenting his party’s make-over into “the anti-science party,” Republican congressmen seem determined to show the world they have joined intellectual ranks with the Taliban in yet one more respect.

By insistently re-embracing the reflexive hostility toward the rest of the international community of the Bush-Cheney years, congressional conservatives seem determined to prove themselves the Bourbons of the new century, learning nothing and forgetting nothing.

They have not wavered in their conviction, as Trita Parsi puts it this week, that the United States is “virtually omnipotent. All other actors are at best reacting to U.S. policy and thinking. There isn’t much distribution of power to speak of — the United States holds (or should hold) most cards, and other states are left fighting for the bread crumbs that fall off Washington’s dinner table.”  That’s the mindset that drove the last administration, and that drives the conservatives’ foreign-affairs legislation now.

For the U.N., it can only get worse.  The chairman of the House foreign affairs committee, Miami’s Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, has been pushing her own pet legislation for years that would reduce the U.N. to a voluntary charity.  She will introduce her backward-looking “reform” bill next week.

But it is sobering that they should ever have bestowed the foreign affairs chairmanship on someone so rigidly opposed to international cooperation, known primarily as a determined foe of relaxing U.S. hostility to Cuba and of an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord premised on land-for-peace.  To install her they had to bypass the far more senior, and relatively international-minded, Christopher Smith of New Jersey.  (Full disclosure: I had challenged Smith for his seat a quarter-century ago.)  To what end?

After the shock of two debilitating wars and a financial meltdown, Americans are right-sizing our foreign policy to our means, our values, and “a decent respect for the opinions of mankind.”  Why do congressional Know-Nothings respond with suicide attacks?

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 27th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Martin PlautAfrica analyst, BBC News reports on August 26, 2011.

Abuja attack: Car bomb hits Nigeria UN building.

In Friday morning’s attack, a car crashed through two security barriers and rammed into the building’s reception before exploding, witnesses said.

Hospitals are said to be overwhelmed by the number of injured and have appealed for blood donations.

Boko Haram, which is fighting for the establishment of Sharia law in Nigeria, also said it carried out a car bombing at police headquarters in June.

A UN official in Nigeria, who spoke to the BBC on condition of anonymity, said the UN had stepped up security at all its buildings in Nigeria in the past month after receiving information that the UN could be targeted by Boko Haram.

The attack on the UN headquarters indicates a growing sophistication by Boko Haram.

The vehicle broke through two security barriers, probably indicating that it was reinforced to withstand the impact. Then its driver detonated the bomb after crashing it into the UN reception area.

Earlier this month, the commander of the US Africa Command, General Carter Ham, said he had several sources of information showing that Boko Haram had contacts with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which operates in north-west Africa. He said it also had ties with al-Shabab in Somalia.

There have been other, independent, reports of Nigerians fighting alongside al-Shabab.

Together these reports indicate where Boko Haram is getting the expertise needed to carry out its current wave of attacks. What began as a radical group in northern Nigeria is now part of a much wider Islamist movement.

President Goodluck Jonathan reaffirmed his government’s “total commitment” to combating terrorism, and said his administration would “spare no effort to bring the perpetrators to justice”.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 8th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

S.Y. Agnon’s play “Tmol Shilshom” or YESTERYEAR (published in English as Only Yesterday or The Day before Yesterday), written in 1945, is about his arriving to Jaffo, Palestine in 1908 were he lived till 1912. He returned in 1924 and made his permanent home there. Agnon was born in Buczacz, Eastern Galicia, the Ukraine, in 1887 and his name was Shmuel Yosef Halevi Czaczkes. He died in 1970 and is buried at Mount of Olives Cemetery, Jerusalem, Israel. In 1966 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, sharing the award with Sweden’s Nelly Sachs.
We wrote in – www.arab-hebrew-theatre.org.il ) in a production directed by Penina Gary of the Nobel Prize winner S.Y. Agnon story “Tmol-Shilshom” (yesterday and the day before yesterday) where Zionist workers complained that Jewish land-owners preferred to employ Arab labor because they could pay cheaper wages to the Arabs. Look how germane this is to the descent from the 1948 euphoria of the beautiful Israeli – to these large scale shop-keepers, and their politician friends, who are destroying the present generation of Israelis, and perhaps the whole State as well.”
Penina Gary, whose play about the beautiful Israeli we covered in – www.sustainabilitank.info/page/2/… took the 600 page mystic novel and turned it into a fast moving mystic play.
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Lewis Carroll, or Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, lived 1832–1898 in England and was mathematician, logician and Anglican deacon with great talent for words. His famous writings are Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass, as well as the poems “The Hunting of the Snark” and “Jabberwocky“, all examples of the genre of literary nonsense – all easily adaptable to new interpretations.
Adiva Gefen and Claudia Della Seta adapted Alice to the Holyland and Homeland. This was done at the beginning of 2011 and low and behold they actually imagined a long dinner table – a Passover Seder table – along the whole length of Rotschild Boulevard. This was quite prescient as we see now a new order evolving on Rothschild due to the social awakening of hundreds of thousand Israelis in their Homeland which is the Holyland – that for years was considered the new Wonderland.
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Before looking further at the performances I saw, let us look for a while at the theater that housed these performances.
This is also, in parallel, the EIGHT’S Posting in our Israel Hot Summer 2011 Series.
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The Arab-Hebrew Theater, supported by the Tel Aviv Municipality, the Ministry of Education and Culture as well as foundations, provides a successful model of creative collaboration between Arabs and Jews.  The Arab-Hebrew Theater features talented professional actors and a capable production staff that shares a deep commitment to the dramatic arts and to the theater’s social and cultural mission.

The theatre also participated in  international festivals: in Germany, England, Belgium, Egypt, Tunis, Crete, Vienna, Rome, Geneva, Barcelona, Poland, South Korea, Japan and the U.S.A.

In ancient Jaffa, in a multi-arched building overlooking the sea, the Arab-Hebrew Theater creates a unique theatrical language using the building’s challenging structure and Jaffa’s rich fabric of life.

Located in the old city of Jaffa, the Arab-Hebrew Theater was created by A-Saraiya Theater founded in 1998, an Arab theater troupe and The Local Theater, a Jewish troupe. The two companies produce plays together and separately, in Hebrew and Arabic, with the participation of Jewish and Arab actors.

The Arab-Hebrew Theater is an innovative framework that promotes knowledge and understanding of Jewish and Arab culture by reaching out to diverse audiences and working with multi-ethnic communities including Jaffa’s local Jews and Arabs.

I met with one of the two founding directors of the institution – Mr. Igal Ezraty.

The concept was to have a Community theatre for Arab and Jewish youth from Jaffa – theater as a bridge for conciliation and  communication – workshops intended for youth  of both cultures.

Ezraty explained the Hebrew name ARAVI – IVRI as both parts having exactly the same letters – an Alef, a Reish, A Beith and a Yud – but in different order – these are two joint cultures Arabic and Hebrew. The thater is about the cultures and not the politics of the people.

The Arab-Hebrew Theatre – 10 Mifratz Shlomo st, Old Jaffa

 www.arab-hebrew-theatre.org.il

The Local Theater” continues its thirteen year artistic tradition creating with both Jewish and Arab artists. The Arab Al-Saraya Theater of Jaffa has united Arab artists since it was founded in 1998.

The Arab-Hebrew Theater is a “no-compromise”, professional theater company that manages to create a one-of-a-kind style on a tight budget. The Theater though supported by the Tel-Aviv Municipality and the Israel Ministry of Culture, has its own special spirit and the belief that this kind of different but unifying theater is a moral and artistic necessity.

The Arab-Hebrew Theater is unique in the Israeli theatrical landscape in its social involvement and style. One of its plays “Lets Dance”, received  awards in the Acre Theater Festival, was much acclaimed by the press, and was a box-office success running for seven years – something that seldom happens in non-commercial Israeli theater. Other locally and internationally acclaimed and award-winning plays include: “Mister V”; “The Lane of White Chairs” – awarded first prize in the Acre Theater Festival;   “Clouded Moon”, the children’s play “Ach Ach Boom Trach” –     and “Longing” which was selected as the best Israeli fringe play of the year in 2001-2002.

Two  newer plays:  the Hebrew language play “Of Fathers and Daughters” and the Arab language “Memory” where invited to première at the Israel Festival in Jerusalem. The Polish government invited the theater to perform in the Silesia Dance and Theater Center. The theater also took part successfully in numerous international festivals in Europe – among these it was prominent in Vienna.

In the Arab-Hebrew Theater, “multi-cultural” is not just a phrase but a fact and an ideology. The theater’s cultural involvement is based on cooperation with the people of Jaffa, developing theater attendance among a population heretofore excluded from frequenting Israeli theaters, including  Arab and other school children.

Cooperating with Arab and Hebrew women’s groups, the theater held a three-day Hebrew-Arab Women’s festival featuring theatrical and dance performances, and poetry readings. During the Passover vacation, the theater holds the Zebra Festival of Hebrew and Arab Children’s Plays.

From the press: “The Arab -Hebrew theater is an institute which is set to pursue its own unique way. It presents materials which enable a sensitive response,reflective and non-confrontational endearing spirit of innocence is the key to the special charm of the small theater in Jaffa, a place where the cruel reality is moved aside for a moment to make place for a sort of delicate dream of a reconciled and bubbling co – existence.”
(Shay Bar Yaacov – Yediot Aharonot, May 2006)
“The sole isle of sanity in the Israeli theatrical landscape, a place where a true and deep dialogue between two cultures; Hebrew and Arab, takes place. This is not a fraudulent attempt to prove coexistence, but a true effort to create a stage of equality for the two cultures.”
(Ofira Henig – HaAretz, May 2003)

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FROM THE 2009 activities:  “Sha’ar” Festival for Poetry.

An International Poetry festival dealing with aspects of confrontations on the political level as well as social and personal. This year’s festival was dedicated to poetry dealing with the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. Eight poets from abroad attended the festival, as well as many renowned Israeli – Jews and Arab poets, dancers, and music bands.  A book fare featuring poetry books both in Hebrew and Arabic crowned the event. The three days festival proved to be a great success, filling the house to the brim every night.

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FROM THE 2010 activities:

New productions of special interest of the Arab-Hebrew theatre: Scorched – by Wajdi Mouwad – native of Beirut. Lebanon.
First production ever in Israel  for a play written by a Lebanese playwright

From  Enemy to  Friend – A play by S.Y Agnon ( Israeli Nobel prize laureate for literature) –first time   S.Y. Agnon will be presented in the Arab-Hebrew theatre. Planned   for the opening of the Israel Festival, 2010 in Jerusalem.

Legends of the Alleys – The Show combines theatre and an historic tour in the Old Jaffa alleys, featuring fantastic meetings with mythological figures-Napoleon Bonaparte meets Abu Naphcha the Governor, and all are saving Andromeda from her captivity.

The Arab – Jewish Women festival – March 2010

A festival focusing on issues   of civil rights for women both in Arab and Jewish societies, as well as panels discussing education in times of conflict, the religious versus the civil laws concerning family and women rights – featuring theater performances, poetry reading in both Arab and Hebrew, music and an all- Female Art Exhibition.

October 2010 – The 4th Jaffa International Children Festival was about:

An international festival for children and the entire family- designed for Arab and Jewish audiences.

Five children’s theater productions from abroad followed by educational workshops related to the plays – theater groups from Jordan, Morocco, Denmark and Palestine. This is the first time that theater groups from Arab countries visited Israel.

The Mobile Theatre-a special truck to drive actors around various neighborhoods in Jaffa, stopping at designated spots of public interest.
A way to reach estranged young residents and make them become friends and supporters of the theatre.

Jaffa at 4000 – A festival of plays in both Hebrew and Arabic, celebrating the complex and rich history of the city.

Modern Arabic Drama Festival –   The second edition of the immensely successful Festival of translated Arab Drama- plays written by Classical and contemporary Arabic playwrights first time exposed to Israeli audiences.

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DISQUIETING TIMES

Performance Installation with letters and texts by Ingeborg Bachmann and Paul Celan.

On the basis of „Herzzeit“, Correspondence between Ingeborg Bachmann & Paul Celan (2008) – In German Language.
In Cooperation with the Arab-Hebrew Theatre of Jaffa, Israel, and University of Valencia, Spain.
Rights by Suhrkamp Verlag Berlin

Preview-Performances: Nov. 25th-26th 2010
BUTCHERIE Vienna
Premiere: September 16h, 2010, Valencia/Universitat de Valencia
Performance: Sepember 17th
Special Thanks to the Austrian Cultural Forum Tel Aviv, University of Valencia

Mise-en-Scène/Space: Eva Brenner (A/USA),
Directing Assitant: Marie Steiner (A),
Technical Support/Projections:
Matja Serdar (HR),
Costume Advisor:
Devi Saha (A)
Performance: Gaby Aldor (IL), Sibylle Starkbaum (A), Doron Tavory (IL), Stephanie Waechter (A)

Texts: Letters from „Herzzeit“ (2008) and quotations from poems and prose texts by Ingeborg Bachmann and Paul Celan.

The performance seeks a theatrical equivalent to topics addresssed in the letters, exposing an abyss between two wanderes at the edge of the world, two monumental lyrical-poetic bodies of work testifying to an exemplary love relationship – something Ingeborg Bachmann called “our fairy tale”. Two very unlike partners – she daughter of an Austrian Nazi-father, he son of Jewish Bukowina Holocaust victims – poised  in a livelong struggle to come together as couple who utterly fail, again and again. A special friendship and exceptional artistic dialogue disrupted and shattered by distances, other relationships, false illusions, depressions, and many a broken dream. Up to his suicide at the age of 50 in the water of the river Seine and her fatal accident by fire.

These protagonists are separated spatially from the outset – an imaginary corridor center stage where audience is seated parts an empty gallery space into equal halves, marking two worlds. The dramatic structure of this unique performance-reading-happening engages actors/actresses from Austria and Israel and follows the phases of the letter-writing and thus Bachmann’s/Celan’s biographical curves: 1. Young Love in Vienna, 2. First parting and Celans move to Paris, 3. Bachmanns visits in Paris/Happy love, 4. Separation and Search for Self, 5. Finding other partners and a new approchment, 7. final failure of the love relationship, suicide and death.  This structure is complemented by two invented theatrical figures acting as “helping hands”, technicians, “protecting angles” and commentators at once: two women in working overalls who control the stage, read from the poets’ texts, recite, sing, bring along props and even move the protagonists whenever necessary. They perform a commentary level extraneous to the love relation, directing and heightening the “play” from outside, thus moving the action along. The act like “theatre machinist” reminiscent of Tadeusz Kantor who manipulated his own creation, the dramatis personae! Very much like history manipulates us. …. Thus Ingeborg Bachmann and Paul Celan are not alone onstage, their universe is populated, they are interpreted, echoed, reflected upon in a soft poetic mirror-action.

Topics of weight of the performance are manifold: search for the essence and contradictions of this unparalleled love affair in literature of the 20th century, the many poetic cross references, the jump over the abyss and its socio-cultural, historical meanings, the pure movement towards love and the un/evitable fall into death. The constant attempts of rescue, the cries for help, the irritations, delusions, destructions – up to the last consequence…

ART OF LIFE_transition 2010

BUTCHERIE Menue 2010

As part of the Yearly Project Cycle 2010: ART OF LIFE_transition.

Following 2 years of work on ART OF SURIVAL the artistic team of the BUTCHERIE is tackling the theme of ART OF LIFE_transition and is thus consciously turning towards positive new concepts and alternative designs of life. ART OF LIFE_transition is itself a concept of transition to the year 2010, dealing with socio-cultural phenomena and problems of integration and participation in performances, workshops, discussions and socio-theatrical processions in the public space – addressing topical processes of social transformation, breaches and metamorphoses. The project leads to the new 2-year cycle entitled ART OF LIFE beginning in 2011 which will present alternative visions and projects of life and art by way of performance – projects which experiment with forms and formats of “a better life” in all areas of public life – economy, political and cultural activism, art and modes of coexistence in a rapidly growing multi-cultural society, with people of different social backgrounds, cultural heritages, religions, sexes, and generations cooperating peacefully.

The aim of the project is to use theater and performance in new and socially aware ways, to grasp and inhabit – once again – living moments between us, giving voice to the human nature of life, the capacity to dream and act together, and the ability to think, reflect, and to create. This is particularly important in times of growing poverty of the lower and middle classes, of social isolation, economic scarcity, environmental changes, loss of solidarity paired with a new Darwinism in the shape of racism, sexism and terrorism. These alternative models of living and acting in solidarity with each other and the request of public space, creative facility, and democratic action within civil society means to deal with the chasms between autonomy and barbarism.  It entails to engage techniques of experimental theater and performance to promote Cultural Empowerment in dialogue with worldwide social movements intent on giving gestalt to “a new environment.”

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What brought me first to this theater was the show   S. Y. Agnon’s Tmol Shilshom that starts this posting. – based on a 586 page novel that was published post-humously in 1971 by Schocken publishers.

Tmol Shilshom  arguably the most important novel written in the Hebrew language remains, despite much deciphering and decoding, a mystic work that introduces the hero – Itzhak Kumer – whose inflated dream of Zion caries his own seed of destruction. It boils down to a story of a man and a dog – not his dog. Itzhak, played by Iftah Erez, manages to survive in what starts as an inhospitable environment, by learning to paint houses. He starts out as rather secular, but is accepted into the family of Rabbi Fish (played by Lior Michaeli), an ultra-orthodox Jewish leader in Jerusalem, then somehow starts interacting with this dog, and playfully paints on the dog the words “mad dog” which cause a lot of hardships to the dog. Eventually the prophecy comes true and the dog takes his revenge by biting him. Why did Kumer behave this way, why does the dog behave his way? What does this all mean? Tomer Heldstein has a tour de force playing the dog and Tamar Elkan is the Orthodox man’s daughter that was eventually intended to become Kumer’s bride – but this is not to be Kumer is bitten and the dog has indeed become mad – Kumer dies. Lior Michaeli plays the story teller that pushes for closeness of the various sides.

This is a Jewish mystic story. Old Jerusalem is the background – but it starts in Jaffo – the port of arrival of the Jewish immigrants and the home of Arab fishermen and everyone else. From Jaffo some of the immigrants go to the new Jewish agricultural settlements, some of the Jews stay in Jaffo as successful businessmen, others go up to Jerusalem – the true target of their coming to the Holyland – the destined Homeland – but they do not work – they rather decide to dedicate themselves to prayers among the old stones – this versus some of those that farm in the low-lands – but farm for maximum profit. Which of these is closer to their personal goals? We already started out by pointing at those that preferred the higher income by employing Arab labor rather then the Jewish idealists.

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We learned about “LOST AND FOUND ALICE” – in two ways. First by picking up the program of the Arab-Hebrew theater – but also by reading that the show was performed on Rotschild Boulevard for the social protesters. I sensed that it has values related to the protest.

Alice Has to leave home to save herself from dangers and leaves behind her beloved family and and little sister. She joins people to go to the Holyland ( the new Wonderland) just like Kumer and Rabbi Fish did in in the previous play. On her way she meets characters taken from the Israeli real life mixed in with Lewis Carroll Characters – it is sort of insane and not different from the Rotschild Boulevard upheaval from which one expects a new order – sort of that old NEW DEAL.

The greatest achievement of the leaders of this seemingly insane environment – the credits as mentioned earlier going to the Israeli writer Adiva Gefen and the Italian-Israeli director Claudia Della Seta, is in creating a troupe of actors from human material they found among foreign workers in Israel housed, or just stabilized, in church communities of Jaffo. Just think of Prince Amoha from Nigeria – who left on foot his home after a clash with an uncle involved in the dirty oil-business of Nigeria. Prince arrived in Israel which he considered indeed as Holyland. He arrived on December 24th looking for Christmas – this like in the play. But here he found characters that already in 1943 in Stanislavo  understood they have to take a boat to America in order to survive the Holocaust. We hear then of people going back in time like in Lewis Caroll – that is having been fixated by past experiences – some dream all the time.

Alice is from the Philippines – Angelina Robles, the cat is Christina Obeng from Ghana – she has two beautiful small girls that were running around the theater, and the King of Heart, Famous Akwkwe,s was also from Ghana. The mouse, Aleksej Tshaev is from Russia, others, Adi Noy, Eyal Berger, Tamar Segal, Itzik Golan are from Israel. This mix formed a cohesive cast of Israeli figures in a Lewis Carroll spirit  rolling out THE TABLE FOR PEACE ALL ALONG ROTSCHILD BOULEVARD – insane you think – someone said – I cannot – I am honest – I found the SEDER – but there was no Peace – that is said by the old Jewish woman in a roll-chair and the rabbit is here an old Jewish man. You are here what you wanted to be – but you are dead. Here is Wonderland, Holyland, Homeland – all rolled in one.

When you kill a body – you go to prison – but when you kill a soul – nothing – that is what the King of Hearts is saying. Alice forgot the blessings and the King of Hearts says – throw her out.

The time is always seven in the evening – the time is broken – In the end the King says he has the power – but Alice wins – she is the Power!

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All right – make of this what you want – but it was a beautiful show – think of it like of the S.Y. Agnon acted out story-theater.
It all points in new directions – do we understand were we are going?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 6th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

[gu-new] (20110606) Concept papers of GEWS/GUS projects for Bangladesh, DRC, Nigeria and Rwanda.

<<20110606>> Archived distributions can be retrieved at;
<tinyurl.com/2fzx23e> This archive includes a html version of this
list distribution and its MS/WORD version with its filename as
³year-month-date.doc.² You can also access all of its attachments, if any.

References:

> (a) Concept Paper to Create a South Asian Hub of Global Early Warning System
> and Global University System in Bangladesh (June 6, 2011)
tinyurl.com/4y2gz8t
>
> (b) Concept Paper to Create a Central African Hub of Global Early Warning
> System and Global University System in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (May
> 9, 2011)
tinyurl.com/3tk9pvp
>
> (c) CLOUD COMPUTING SIMULATION CENTER FOR GLOBAL EARLY WARNING SYSTEM (GEWS)
> WITH GLOBAL UNIVERSITY SYSTEM (GUS) IN NIGERIA (May 14, 2011)
tinyurl.com/3l5b2dn
>
> (d) Concept Note: The Global Early Warning System (GEWS) with Global
> University System (GUS) In Rwanda (May 1, 2011)
tinyurl.com/3v6tta2

Dear E-Colleagues:

(1) I just came back from my very fruitful, two weeks trip to Japan.

(2) The References above are the concept papers of our GEWS/GUS projects in
Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria, and Rwanda.

I sincerely thank you for those people who contributed to produce those
excellent concept papers.

(3) We will then forge ahead to raise funds with those papers.

(4) Pls feel free to contact me if you have any comments and suggestions to
improve them, and of course, any ideas about possible funding sources.

Best, Tak

****************************************************************************
***
* Takeshi Utsumi, Ph.D., P.E., Chairman, GLOSAS/USA
*
* (GLObal Systems Analysis and Simulation Association in the U.S.A.)
*
* Laureate of Lord Perry Award for Excellence in Distance Education
*
* Founder and V.P. for Technology and Coordination of
*
*   Global University System (GUS)
*
* 43-23 Colden Street, #9L, Flushing, NY 11355-5913, U.S.A.
*
* Tel: 718-939-0928; Skype: utsumi
*
* Email: takutsumi0@gmail.com, Web: www.friends-partners.org/GLOSAS/
*
* U.S./IRS Employer ID: 11-2999676 <tinyurl.com/534gxc>
*
* New York State Tax Exempt ID: 217837 <tinyurl.com/47wqbo>
*
* Brief bio and photo: <tinyurl.com/6jljtrd>
*
* CV: <tinyurl.com/2esr94l>

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 13th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The article was posted October 12th, the UPDATE id from October 13th and is posted at the end.

——-

Actor and Sudan activist George Clooney visited President Obama in the Oval Office on Tuesday afternoon to discuss his recent trip to south Sudan in advance of a referendum in January on partition.

Clooney hopes to call attention to the increasingly unstable relationships between the northern and southern regions.

Sudan President Omar Al Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide in the country’s Darfur region, is expected to fight to keep South Sudan from seceding because it has more than 75 percent of the country’s oil.

Clooney visited Darfur refugee camps in Chad, just across the Sudan border, and came to the White House early in 2009 to press for the appointment of a high-level envoy to the region.

Afterward, Obama, in March, 2009, tapped retired Major Gen. Scott Gration to the special envoy spot. When the president was an Illinois senator, Gration accompanied him to Chad in 2006 to visit a refugee camp populated with people from Darfur who had fled widespread killing and raids there.

In recent weeks the Obama administration has taken a much more active stance on Sudan. At the U.N. General Assembly last month, Obama spoke at a ministerial meeting where he called for governments of both North and South Sudan to ensure a peaceful, fair and transparent referendum in January.

Clooney and Obama started working on Sudan issues in 2006 — before Obama’s trip to Africa. In April of that year, Clooney, then-Sen. Obama and former Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) spoke at the National Press Club about the ongoing violence in Darfur and drew attention to an upcoming “Save Darfur” rally on the National Mall to urge the world to move faster to stop the slaughter, rape, and forced displacement in the region.

Now George Clooney covered by CNN’s Ann Curry  upstaged the 4 day trip to Sudan by US Ambassador Susan Rice and most of the Ambassadors on the UN Security Council who went on their own fact finding mission. Best report from the UN trip can be found at www.innercitypress.com/unsc1sudan… from Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press who surprisingly was allowed by the UN to participate with the officials. He continues his coverage back at the UN – www.innercitypress.com/ban2sudan1…

Also along were Ambassadors Lyall Grant of the UK, Vitaly Churkin of Russia, Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti of Brazil, Ertugrul Apakan of Turkey, Claude Heller of Mexico, Tsuneo Nishida of Japan …. in total there were 11 countries out of the 15 UNSC members represented there by their main UN representative, including from Mexico, Japan, Turkey, Uganda who are leaving the UNSC at the end of 2010.    Countries  not sending their Permanent Representatives, or Number 1 Ambassadors, were Austria, France, Gabon and Nigeria. France sent #2 and Austria is leaving the UNSC at the end of this year – but the only continuing African members of the UNSC are Gabon and Nigeria – both did not make their top hats available for this fact-finding mission to Africa – in this context it is inexcusable in our opinion for them not to have gone on the trip.

As expected, this trip has seemingly achieved nothing and the courage to deal with the humanitarian problem of Sudan is missing – but as Matthew Lee points out – some may believe that dividing the oil revenue may be making progress in practice.

=-=-=-=-=-=-

With Sudan in Crisis, UN Dodges Questions, UNMIS Ignores Them, DC Follies.

From Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press, who was on the Sudan trip:

UNITED NATIONS, October 13 — While the UN speaks about how important Sudan is to it, it refuses to answer basic questions, both in its New York headquarters and in Sudan.

On October 11, having returned from the Security Council trip to Sudan during which, among other things, UN Humanitarian Coordinator Georg Charpentier neglected to tell the Council about the village of Sora in Darfur being entirely destroyed the previously week, and the internally displaced people who spoke with the Council were subsequently interrogated and intimidated by Sudanese authorities, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman Martin Nesirky about both of these issues.

On both issues on October 11, Nesirky said “let’s find out.” When asked again about Sora at the UN noon briefing on October 12, Nesirky said “I can assure you that something is in the works. I don’t have anything for you right now. Something is in the works.

Thirty hours after that, 54 hours after the Sora question was asked, nothing, no response at all.

And so early on October 13, Inner City Press directed three questions to the Spokesperson for the UN Mission in Sudan, including these two:

Please provide the response of UNMIS / the UN to the “The Southern Sudanese Drivers and Mechanics Association… cit[ing] UNDP, UNMIS and Kenya Commercial Bank among the organisations that continue to employ foreigners in positions that many unemployed indigenousould hold, rendering local drivers redundant.    www.borglobe.com/25.html?m7:post=…

Please provide by email asap what UNMIS put out about the incident with the Sudanese journalist(s) on the tarmac in Juba in the Security Council delegation’s plane.

Eleven hours later (and counting) there had been no response, not even an acknowledgment of receipt to questions directed to the spokesperson’s email address listed on the UNMIS website.

The Q&A with the UN Spokesman is transcribed below.

But in Washington DC George Clooney, with whom the UN Security Council met with for longer than they met with IDPs, was reported to be asking for Congressional action. What action?

One media outlet said he was raising issues of Darfur, which he didn’t visit. How seriously is South Sudan, much less Darfur, being taken?

From the UN’s October 11 then October 12 noon briefings:

Inner City Press: On Sudan, following the Council’s visit to the Abu Shouk internally displaced persons camp, I guess that was on Friday, there have been reports that the people they spoke with had been interrogated by Sudanese authorities, and in some cases, arrested. I am wondering if UNAMID is aware of that or the UN, I mean the UN system more broadly, and what they intend to do about it?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: Let’s find out.


Protest in Khartoum, UN and Clooney not shown (c) MRLee

Inner City Press: The other, as we left there, some, Mr. [Georg] Charpentier had provided a document that seems to indicate that, in the week before the Council’s visit, a village called Sora in eastern Jebel Marra was “entirely, completely burned down”. I know that Mr. Charpentier briefed the Council members, but none of them on the way back seemed to… this wasn’t mentioned to them. I am wondering… what does UNAMID and Mr. Charpentier do when a village is entirely destroyed? Is it an important thing? Is it the kind of thing that they should brief the Council about?

Spokesperson: Can you roll back and tell me again, because it is sort of confusing.

Inner City Press: Okay. Among documents that Mr. Charpentier provided at the end of the trip…

Spokesperson: To whom?

Inner City Press: He gave it into the press bus, saying that this would just verify things that he’d said about things not being a problem in Jebel Marra. But deep in the document, it says that a village named Sora was completely burned down. It doesn’t say whether it was by ground fighting or an aerial attack. But if it’s aerial, it seems it would be the Government. None of the Security Council ambassadors on the way back had been aware of this or had been briefed on this. So, I guess my question, it’s a twofold one, factually it would be is it possible to discover from Mr. Charpentier, whose document this is, whether the village of Sora was destroyed from the air or by ground? And maybe some statement on why, in the briefing that he gave to the Council, this destruction was not raised?

Spokesperson: I am assuming you didn’t raise it with him yourself, because it was passed into the bus, and then you read it after the bus pulled away?

Inner City Press: I read it actually on the way back, yes, yes.

Spokesperson: Right. Okay, well let’s relay that back whence you just came.

A full 24 hours later, noon briefing of October 12:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask a couple of questions about Sudan. One is, there has been, I guess in the last 24 hours, there have been a couple of developments. One is a quote by President [Omer Hassan] al-Bashir that he will not accept any alternative to unity, which many people say is basically a threat not to accept the “yes” vote if the vote is in fact held 9 January. So I am wondering, there was a statement made on 24 September, but this statement by al-Bashir seems to be totally contradictory to it. So, I am just wondering, what’s the process for either UNMIS [United Nations Mission in Sudan] or the Secretariat to… What did they think of that statement? And also there was an arrest made on Saturday, as it turns out, of these pro-secession people in Khartoum as part of the demonstration. They were not only beaten, but it turns out they were arrested. So the SPLM [Sudan People’s Liberation Movement] has said that’s a bad move and violates the CPA [Comprehensive Peace Agreement] that they are not allowed to campaign for secession. Does the UN have any response to that?

Spokesperson Nesirky: On that second question, I’ll see what we can get you on that. I don’t have anything right now. On the first question, I would indeed refer back to the statement, the communiqué, that was issued. I don’t think we will be commenting on every twist and turn. The basic principles of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement are well-known, and the communiqué speaks very clearly about the need to stay on track.

Inner City Press: Did you get anything back on this issue of this village of Sora that was listed as being…?

Spokesperson: I can assure you that something is in the works. I don’t have anything for you right now. Something is in the works.

But 30 hours later, nothing. Watch this site.

Footnote: while Nesirky held a noon briefing on October 13, he had only just begun to take questions when he stopped, to present guests who had spent three hours working toward a future report. When they were done, so was Nesirky: he didn’t ask if there were many more questions. But there were…

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 7th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Biofuel demand driving Africa “land grab” – report.

Source: Reuters, 30 Aug 201.
* Friends of Earth says biofuels displace African food crops
* Biofuels seen as a key renewable energy source
———-

ABIDJAN, Aug 30 (Reuters) – “Biofuel demand is driving a new “land grab” in Africa, with at least 5 million hectares (19,300 sq miles) acquired by foreign firms to grow crops in 11 countries, a study by an environmental group said on Monday.”

The contracts by European and Asian companies for land to grow sugar cane, jatropha and palm oil to be turned into fuel will involve clearing forests and vegetation, taking land that could be used for food and creating conflicts with local communities, Friends of the Earth said in the study.

Proponents of biofuels argue they are renewable and can help fight climate change because the growing plants ingest as much carbon dioxide from the air as the fuels made from them emit when burned.

Critics say there is a risk of the crops infringing on land that could be used for growing food and that destruction of rainforests to make way for palm oil and sugar outweighs any carbon benefits gained from the use of such fuels.

“The expansion of biofuels … is transforming forests and natural vegetation into fuel crops, taking away food-growing farmland from communities, and creating conflicts with local people over land ownership,” Mariann Bassey, a Friends of the Earth Nigeria activist, said in a statement.

The report said Kenya and Angola each had received proposals for the use of 500,000 hectares for biofuels and there was a similar plan to use 400,000 hectares in Benin for palm oil.

Rice farmers had been forced off their land for a sugar cane project in Tanzania, it added.

“The competition for land and the competition for staple food crops such as cassava and sweet sorghum for agrofuels is likely to push up food and land prices,” the study said.
Other studies have suggested biofuel expansion would not be harmful and could even be beneficial for African agriculture.

Last month, researchers from Britain’s Imperial College, carbon trader CAMCO, and the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) said biofuels would boost investment in land and infrastructure.

They said this could have a positive effect on food production, and if properly managed would not mean destroying natural forests.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 24th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

nbsp;asiasociety.org/style-living/food…

Aug 13, 2010

Fasting this Ramadan? Follow these few key guidelines to eating well and staying healthy during the holy month.

(Photo by ulterior epicure/Flickr)

(Photo by ulterior epicure/Flickr)

By Rafaya Sufi

Fasting this Ramadan? Or have friends who are? Follow these few key guidelines to eating well and staying healthy during Ramadan.

Since its foundation, Ramadan is celebrated with vigor amongst Muslim communities. A typical day of fasting consists of consuming an overnight breakfast at dawn, restricting any food and drink till sunset. Muslims may continue to eat and drink after the sun has set till the next morning’s fajr prayer at dawn.

The key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle during the month depends on a few practical points.

1. Water: For starters, proper hydration is essential. Fasting does not mean that all bodily functions stop requiring water. Headaches, fatigue, fuzzy thinking, irritability, and illness are often caused by inadequate hydration. We need half our body weight each day to just maintain normal bodily functions. To determine your water needs, use this simple formula:

Your body weight in pounds/2 = The amount of water you need to drink in ounces a day

So, If you weigh 180 lbs/2 = 90 oz/day, minimum

2. Replace Sugar With Fruit (when possible): What’s better than eating a delicious slice of cake (or baklava, or brownie, or some chocolate mousse, or….) once you break your fast? Fruit! Yes, this is a hard one, so quit complaining and follow these instructions for healthier you. You may think you deserve a piece of your favorite dessert after all those hours of restraining, but sugar robs our bodies of minerals and vitamins. During a period of fasting, our bodies need to hold on to as many minerals and vitamins as possible, so don’t let them escape just by giving in to your craving (after all, this is a month of self-restraint). Try baking this nutritious Fried Banana recipe at home as an alternative to sugar-loaded desserts.

3. Soup: A quick, easy, and nutritious food to consume during Ramadan is soup. Soup provides deep nourishment and is easily absorbed by the body. It is also a great way to meet your water needs, and if you blend all the good stuff together, picky eaters will never question what they are eating! After you break your fast, have some soup, and make it a staple diet for the month. Try making some delicious, vitamin-packed Mulligatawny soup at home.

4. Eat Slowly/Don’t Overdo It: What’s the rush? You have all evening! There is a tendency to eat really fast amongst people breaking their fasts. Trying to pack in 101 activities within the first few minutes of breaking your fast, which includes eating 101 foods, can cause some serious indigestion. Avoid that awful feeling by slowing down. Take small bites so you can chew well. The longer you chew your food, the less work your digestive track needs to do and you absorb more nurturance. So overall, it’s a win-win situation.

5. Vitamins and Minerals: Load up on them! Unfortunately, food today is not as nutritious as it was once. Unless you’re consuming 100 percent organic foods, you’ll probably need to replenish your body with lost electrolytes and vitamins. The top nutrients to look at are vitamins C, B-complex, zinc, E, and A. Vitamins C, A, and E along with zinc are known as antioxidants, and unless you’re living under a rock, antioxidants are in–they’re the latest health trend these days because they do wonders for your body. Eat fresh fruits, berries, and vegetables in abundance! B-complex vitamins are great at relieving stress, so be generous with those. Most Americans are already deficient in the B-complex vitamins due to eating high amounts of refined and processed foods, so skip the white bread, and opt for a whole-wheat option instead. Enjoy this healthy Ginger Tea to combat that tired feeling after fasting all day.

That’s all for now, folks. Have a healthy Ramadan!

Watch and learn how to make Harira soup

Traditional Moroccan Soup (Ramadan Special)

cookingwithalia

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 30th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Be’chol Lashon is the Hebrew for “In Every Tongue” and it advocates for the Growth & Diversity of the Jewish People. Today Jews come indeed in every color and every stripes and some leaders do the outreach to embrace them all. Just look at Dr. Lewis Gordon of the Center for Afro-Jewish Studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, Mr. Romiel Daniel of Queens, New York, The head of Jews of India in our region, Dr. Ephraim Isaac, of the institute for Semitic Studies. They do not look like your stereotype Jew. I met them and was impressed – the latter actually for the first time as we both visited Addis Ababa at the time of the delayed Ethiopian Millennium. Then Rabbi Hailu Paris with his communities in Brooklyn and the Bronx, Ethiopian born and graduae of Yeshiva University, and his Assistant Monica Wiggan (www.blackjews.org/Essays/RabbiParisEthiopianTrip.html), and Rabbi Gershom Sizomu of the Abayudaya Jews of Uganda from whom I got a very distinctive kippah with the menorah – of the old temple worked in. Then Dr. Rabson Wuriga of the Hamisi Lemba clan in South Africa and Zimbabwe and so on – in Nigeria, in Peru, in India, in China.

And who has not heard by now of the present White House Rabbi – Cappers Funnye – the cousin of Michelle Obama – and associate director of Bechol Lashon and spiritual leader of Beth Shalom B’nei Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation of Chicago?

The New York regional director of DiverseJews.org is Lacey Schwartz who is also National Outreach Director of BecholLashon.org, assisted by Collier Meyerson and to top it all Davi Cheng, Director of the Los Angeles region is Jewish, Chinese, and Lesbian. As I said it is all a new image of the Jew.

Last night, at the Gallery Bar, 120 Orchard St., NYC there was a Shemspeed Summer Music Festival event.

The two further upcoming events in New York will be on:

Monday, August 2nd – the Shemspeed Hip Hop Fest at Le Poisson Rouge – 158 Bleeker Street NYC Featuring Tes Uno, Ted King & guest Geng Grizlee and others with CD Release parties for “A Tribe Called Tes” and “Move On.”

Thursday, August 5th – Shemspeed Jewish Punk Fest at Pianos, 158 Ludlow Street, NYC Featuring Moshiach Oil & The Groggers.

info on each event above and at shemspeed.com/fest

—————————————————–

Mona Eltahawy
A Jewish Woman Living in Ethiopia


Rethinking How U.S. Jews Fund Communities Around the World.

The Forward
Published: May 27, 2010

For more than half a century, North America’s Jewish federation system has divided its overseas allocations between the Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Joint Distribution Committee. The Jewish Agency has been dedicated to building up Israel and encouraging aliyah, while the Joint has focused on aiding Jewish communities in need around the globe.

Today, both agencies are working to assert their continued relevance in a changing Jewish world. With aliyah slowing, the Jewish Agency is moving toward embracing a new agenda: promoting the concept of Jewish peoplehood. The JDC, meanwhile, has sought to claim a larger share of the communal pie, which had long been split 75%-25% in the Jewish Agency’s favor.

After a recent round of sniping over the funding issue, the two sides are now stepping back from their public confrontation and recommitting to negotiations over the future of the collective funding arrangement. Underlying this fight, however, is a more fundamental tension over communal funding priorities: Should overseas aid be focused on helping needy Jews and assisting communities that have few resources of their own, or should it be used to bolster Jewish identity?

With this debate raging, the Forward asked a diverse group of Jewish thinkers and communal activists from around the world to weigh in and address the following question: How should North America’s Jewish community be thinking about its priorities and purposes in funding Jewish needs abroad?

New Century, New Priorities

By Yossi Beilin

During the 20th century, the challenges facing world Jewry were the following: rescue of Jews who encountered existential danger, assistance to Israel, helping with the absorption of those who immigrated to new countries and opening the gates for those who were denied the right to emigrate. In the 21st century, ensuring Jewish continuity is the greatest challenge facing the Jewish people.

Yet too often Jewish organizations in the United States and elsewhere remain focused on the challenges of the previous century. (Indeed, Jewish groups were not very receptive when I first proposed the idea for Birthright Israel 17 years ago.)

Ensuring the existence of Jewish life (religious and secular) throughout the world via Jewish education, encounters between young Israeli and Diaspora Jews, creating a virtual Jewish community using new technologies — these must be at the top of the global Jewish agenda. This requires American Jewish philanthropy and leadership, which in turn requires discerning between past and present priorities.

Yossi Beilin, a former justice minister of Israel, is president of the international consulting firm Beilink.

Reviving Polish Jewry

By Konstanty Gebert

The rebirth of Central European Jewish communities after 1989, though numerically not very impressive, remains significant for moral and historical reasons. It is also crucial for Jewish self-understanding. An enormous proportion of American Jews can trace their origins to what used to be Poland alone. This is where much of Diaspora history happened.

Alongside the courage and determination of local Jews, the far-sighted support of several American Jewish organizations and philanthropies made this rebirth possible. In Poland the Joint Distribution Committee, the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation and the Taube Foundation played key roles. Their support has translated not only into Jewish schools and festivals in places once believed to be Jewish-ly dead, but also in most cases into changed relations between local Jewish communities and their fellow citizens as well as clear support for Israel on the part of these countries’ governments.

Yet for all this progress, Central European Jewish communities might never become self-financing. The support given them by American Jewry remains a vital Jewish interest. It must be strengthened.

Konstanty Gebert, a former underground journalist, is a columnist at the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza and founder of the Polish-language Jewish monthly Midrasz.

What We Give Ourselves

By Lisa Leff

More than any Jewish community in history, postwar American Jews have used our prosperity to help Jewish communities around the world. On one level, the greatest beneficiaries of this support have been Jews abroad. But we should also recognize that these philanthropic efforts have shaped our communal values and identity.

Through our international aid, we have dedicated ourselves to universalist and cosmopolitan ideas like tikkun olam and solidarity across borders. In helping disadvantaged and oppressed Jews abroad, we have also deepened our community’s commitments to democracy, human rights and economic justice for all. It’s only natural that Jewish groups pitch in on Haitian earthquake relief and advocate on behalf of oppressed people of all backgrounds.

Whatever the outcome of the federations’ deliberations over how to divide allocations between the Jewish Agency and the Joint Distribution Committee, it is imperative that American Jewry maintain its commitment to our values through supporting international philanthropy.

Lisa Leff is an associate professor of history at American University and the author of “Sacred Bonds of Solidarity: The Rise of Jewish Internationalism in Nineteenth-Century France” (Stanford University Press, 2006).

Putting Identity First

By Jonathan S. Tobin

The choices we face are not between good causes and bad or even indifferent ones but between vital Jewish obligations. But since the decline in giving to Jewish causes means that we must make tough decisions, programs that reinforce Jewish identity and support Zionism both in the Diaspora and in Israel must be accorded a higher priority.

At this point in our history, with assimilation thinning the ranks of Diaspora Jewry and with continuity problems arising even in Israel, the need to instill a sense of membership in the Jewish people is an imperative that cannot be pushed aside. Under the current circumstances, absent an effort that will make Jewish and Zionist education the keynote of our communal life, the notion that Jewish philanthropies or support for Israel can be adequately sustained in the future is simply a fantasy.

Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of Commentary magazine.

Collective Responsibility

By Richard Wexler

One cannot have a meaningful discussion about framing the national Jewish community’s priorities and purposes in funding Jewish needs abroad without first asking the question: Is there actually a collective “North American Jewish community” today?

Collective responsibility has been and remains the foundation upon which the federation system and, therefore, the national Jewish community are built. It is what distinguishes the federations from all other charities. It is embodied in our participation in the adventure of building Israel and in meeting overseas needs through the Jewish Agency and the Joint Distribution Committee, in the dues that federations pay to the Jewish Federations of North America and so much more. But today, federations “bowl alone.”

Collective responsibility gives meaning to kol Yisrael arevim zeh l’zeh — all Jews are responsible for one another. Until federations understand once again that Jewish needs extend beyond the borders of any one community, we cannot have a meaningful priority-setting process for funding Jewish needs abroad.

Richard Wexler is a former chairman of the United Israel Appeal.

Originally published here: www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/rethinking-how-u-s-jews-fund-communities-around-the-world-1.292527

—————————————————————————–

Avi Rosenblum
Rabbi Gershom Sizomu and Be’chol Lashon director Diane Tobin at the opening of the Health Center.


Gary Tobin’s Legacy Lives on in New Ugandan Health Center

By Amanda Pazornik

The J Weekly
Published: July 22, 2010

On the day of the grand opening of the Tobin Health Center in Mbale, Uganda, health professionals were already hard at work treating patients inside.

The center was open for business, but that didn’t slow down the lively June 18 celebration, which featured song and dance performances and speakers. About 3,000 people gathered at the center’s grounds to mark the occasion.

Seated under colorful tents was Diane Tobin, director of S.F.-based Be’chol Lashon and wife of the late Gary Tobin, for whom the center is named, along with three of their children, Aryeh, Mia and Jonah.

“Everyone was amazing, friendly and so generous of spirit,” said Tobin, who was visiting Uganda and its Abayudaya Jewish community for the first time. “They were so appreciative of having the center and demonstrated a tremendous willingness to work together. It’s a great model for the rest of the world.”

Andrew Esensten, Be’chol Lashon program coordinator, and Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, spiritual leader of the Abayudaya Jews and the first chief rabbi of Uganda, joined them, in addition to government and medical officials, and representatives from Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities.

The Tobin Health Center is named for Gary Tobin, the founder of the S.F.-based Institute for Jewish and Community Research, of which Be’chol Lashon (“In Every Tongue”) is an initiative. Tobin died one year ago after a long battle with cancer. He was 59.

“He really has left a legacy,” said Debra Weinberg of Baltimore, who attended the opening with her husband, Joe, and their 14-year-old son, Ben. The couple also helped fund the project. “I think he would feel deeply comforted to know it’s improving the lives of people.”

The 4,000-square-foot facility is a major component of the ongoing Abayudaya Community Health and Development Project undertaken by the Abayudaya Executive Council and Be’chol Lashon, a nonprofit that reaches out to Jews of color and helps educate the mainstream community about Jewish diversity.

It cost approximately $250,000 to erect the two-story center, using donations collected over five years. While patients pay for their services, continuous fundraising is a necessity, Tobin said.

Construction began in July 2009, enabling more than 50 Africans from diverse ethnic backgrounds to earn a living.

Stars of David are featured in the window grids, ceilings and floors of the health center, a “lovely expression of their Judaism,” Tobin said. Private rooms make up most of the top floor, with patient wards on the ground floor. A mezuzah is affixed to every door.

A large portrait of Gary Tobin hangs in the lobby.

“It’s so heartwarming,” Diane Tobin said of the visual tribute. “Gary would be so honored to have this health center in the middle of Africa named after him.”

Prior to the opening of the Tobin Health Center, the nearest medical facility to the Abayudaya Jews was Mbale Hospital, an overcrowded and understaffed institution not accessible to all the residents of the region. Tobin said there are other clinics in the area, but they lack the preventive health care measures necessary to respond to the community’s needs.

The Tobin Health Center is licensed by the Ministry of Health and is certified to operate a pharmacy and laboratory. It serves all who seek basic medical care in the region, providing life-saving health services and simultaneously creating jobs.

“The goal is to raise the standard of medical care,” Tobin said.

In addition, rental units on the bottom and top floors of the center will provide more job opportunities for locals. The first business recently opened — a hardware store that sells bags of cement, plumbing equipment and sheet metal — with a beauty salon and video rental outlet in the works.

The center “is rewarding on a number of levels,” said Steven Edwards of Laguna Beach, who, along with his wife, Jill, has been involved with the Abayudaya for six years. “The most obvious is to see this beautiful, clean building. On top of that, local dignitaries noted how lucky Mbale is to have the Jewish community and how much they contribute to the larger community by bringing jobs.”

The Abayudaya Jews comprise a growing, 100-year-old community of more than 1,000 Jews living among 10,000 Christians and Muslims. They live in scattered villages in the rolling, green hills of eastern Uganda. The largest Abayudaya village, Nabagoye, is near Mbale, the seventh-largest city in Uganda and the location of the center.

Research conducted by Be’chol Lashon in 2006 showed that contaminated water and malaria-carrying mosquitoes pose the biggest health risks to the community. A year later, the organization launched the Abayudaya Community Health and Development Project with the drilling of the first well in Nabagoye.

Since then, nearly 1,000 mosquito nets have been purchased and distributed throughout the community.

“Our goal is to respond to the needs of communities,” Tobin said. “If there are other communities that need health centers, we will be there.”

Originally published here: www.jweekly.com/article/full/58727/s.f.-researchers-legacy-lives-on-in-new-ugandan-health-center/

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 10th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

HOLOCAUST A CONFLATED SCAM TO CONFISCATE PALESTINIAN LAND – PURPORTS AHMADINEJAD.

10 July 2010, The San Francisco Sentinel.

iran-july-9-1

Haaretz

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad questioned the historic dimensions of the Holocaust but rejected the label of an anti-Semite, the Fars news agency reported Friday.

“The West made a claim – about the Holocaust – and urges all the people in the world to accept it or otherwise go to prison,” Ahmadinejad told a group of Islamic scholars Thursday in Nigeria, where he attended a summit of the Developing Eight, a group of countries with large Muslim populations.

»Don’t miss The June 15 Condemnation Of Israel – The Worldwide Ignorance – The San Francisco Board Of Supervisors – The Sentinel Opinion

“The West allows everybody to question prophets and even God but not to pose a simple question and open the black box of a historic event,” he charged.

Ahmadinejad had earlier sparked international fury by calling for the eradication of Israel from the Middle East and its relocation to Europe or North America and by describing the murders of 6 million European Jews by Germany’s Nazi regime as a “fairy tale.”

He said Thursday that the Holocaust was an excuse for Israel and the West to take land away from millions of Palestinians and give it to Israel.

Iran does not recognize Israel and maintains that a referendum by all Palestinians, including refugees, and Jews should decide the future fate of a Palestinian state.

“We are after a diplomatic settlement through a referendum, but they [the West] say Ahmadinejad wants to kill people and is an anti-Semite,” the Iranian president said.

“No, this is wrong,” he added. “I love all Muslims, Christians and Jews. What I dislike are the Zionists, which are a party that has availed itself of the Holocaust as an excuse to establish the illegitimate state of Israel.”

The West fears the political differences between Iran and Israel might lead to a military confrontation between the two countries.

The international concern has increased amid fears that Iran might be using its nuclear program to make an atomic bomb.

Iran possesses 2,000-kilometer range missiles capable of targeting any part of Israel.

Tehran has said it has no secret nuclear projects and all its military capabilities were merely for the purpose of self-defense and deterrence.

But Tehran also warned that if Israel attacks the country’s nuclear sites, Iran would use its missiles to bomb Israel in retaliation.

—————————–

Developing Eight summit in Nigeria.
Published: July 8, 2010.

ABUJA, Nigeria, July 8 (UPI) — Improved trade and better visa arrangements for business people are among the discussion topics for the Developing Eight, meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, Thursday.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is among dignitaries in Abuja for the meeting of the Developing Eight, a consortium of the world’s largest Muslim countries, includes Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey, Radio France Internationale reported. Turkish President Abdullah Gul also was attending the summit.

Because Turkey and Indonesia also are members of the G20, Egyptian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohamed al-Oraby said they would be asked to convey concerns of developing countries {it does not say Islamic here} during the next G20 meeting, scheduled for South Korea in November 2010.

—————————-

Interesting to note – these Big Eight Islamic States include only Egypt from among the Arab States; neither was included India which has the second largest Islamic population among UN Member States and is a true democracy.

On the other hand, how would you react if the Big Eight from among the Christan majority States would meet, or “God-forbids” – whatever God – the biggest Eight Countries with Chinese Communities meet and criticize some white (read European) intruder? Just think the meaning of it all! We really would like to hear from you on this.

This brings us back to the notion that time has come for the Biggest Eight Democracies to meet
and see how they can establish solid leadership for the UN!


————————

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 1st, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Spills in Nigeria Dwarf Gulf Oil Spill Almost Every Year.

 www.globalwhisperer.com/2010/06/s…

June 16, 2010 by Global Whisperer.

Shell in the Niger DeltaMore than 1,000 spill lawsuits have been filed against Shell alone.

One of the worst environmental disasters of our time is occurring right before our eyes. Sadly, it is not BP’s Gulf Oil Spill.

In May of this year an ExxonMobil pipeline ruptured in Akwa Ibom, Nigeria, pouring a million gallons of crude into the delta before the leak was plugged. Just a week later, an explosion occurred at the Shell Trans Niger pipeline, spilling thousands of gallons into the river, the work of a saboteur. Days after that, a massive oil slick was found on Lake Adibawa. Then another massive slick discovered in Ogoniland.

The incident in the Gulf begins to pale in comparison when you realize that this has been going on for over fifty years in Nigeria, and the problem is only getting worse.

Royal Dutch Shell last year spilled 14,000 tons of crude into the creeks of the Niger delta. No accountability, no payouts to the residents and villages in the area. With over 600 oil fields in the area, and a massive, tangled network of pipelines, security is next to impossible. Some of the pipes are over 40 years old, rusty, and beginning to fail. Others are attacked by rebels, as militia groups and companies via for control of the black gold. According to a Nigerian government spokesman:

“We had 132 spills last year, as against 175 on average. Safety valves were vandalised; one pipe had 300 illegal taps. We found five explosive devices on one. Sometimes communities do not give us access to clean up the pollution because they can make more money from compensation”

Disaster in Niger Delta Oil Spill

Life expectancy in rural communities has sank to just over 40 years for the last two generations. Many communities have no access to clean water. Nigerian Nnimo Bassey, watches with amazement at the efforts being made in the Gulf by BP and the U.S.

“We see frantic efforts being made to stop the spill in the US,” said Nnimo, “But in Nigeria, oil companies largely ignore their spills, cover them up and destroy people’s livelihood and environments. The Gulf spill can be seen as a metaphor for what is happening daily in the oilfields of Nigeria and other parts of Africa.”

With Nigeria being markedly poorer nation then the United States, people depend all the more on farming and fishing, and availability of fresh drinking water. The situation has spun completely out of control. Exact figures are hard to come by, since the government and the oil companies routinely cover up incidents. However, independent studies show there have been over 7,000 spills between 1970 and 2000, and two thousand major spillage sites, in a place roughly two and a half times the size of California.

The Gulf Oil spill is certainly a disaster, but its important to keep things in a global perspective. Nigeria as a much smaller nation with two thousand times the major spill sites of the United States. Over one thousand spillage lawsuits have been filled again Shell alone. One report by the World Conservation Union calculated in 2006, that up to 1.5 million tons of oil had been spilled in the delta over the last 50 years. To put that in perspective, that’s 50 times the size of the Exxon Valdez tanker disaster.

Niger Delta

Ben Ikari stands over a growing oil slick, at a lake just outside of his village. One of the pipelines across the way has ruptured or has been tapped or sabotaged. The village community relies on this lake for its drinking water.

“The oil companies just ignore it. The lawmakers do not care and people must live with pollution daily.” says Ben, “The situation is now worse than it was 30 years ago. Nothing is changing. When I see the efforts that are being made in the US, I feel a great sense of sadness at the double standards. What they do in the US or in Europe is very different.”

The story is the same all across the country. Chief Promise, Village leader of the Otuegwe, recalls the Shells spill last year.

“We lost our nets, huts and fishing pots,” said Promise, “This is where we fished and farmed. We have lost our forest. We told Shell of the spill within days, but they did nothing for six months.”

The Niger delta supplies 40% of all imported crude oil for the United States. With the recent tragedy in the Gulf, one only hopes it might shed some light onto the Niger delta region, so that companies such as Shell or ExxonMobil will begin to take greater responsibility. This is needed now more than ever. As supplies begin to diminish, companies are drilling in deeper, more remote, and much riskier areas, the risk of major spills go up with every year.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 11th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Today’s Feguson caricature in The Financial Times shows Uncle Sam holding a gas pump line pistol-fashion to his head – in a suicide position.
PROGRESSIVE VOICES  – VIEWPOINTS WORTH READING:
Oil industry power was the cause of the explosion and spill and will cause those that will no doubt occur in the future. Such power is also why Obama and his successors will find it next to impossible to shift the nation from its fatal dependence on foreign oil and, in the long run, to convert to alternative energy.
If you thought one of the biggest oil spills in history would automatically propel strong legislation to cap carbon emissions and avert a climate crisis, think again.

Democratic Senate leaders beat back a conservative attempt to kneecap the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, but not without six Dems defecting. Only 53 Senators backed the EPA, and even some of those did so reluctantly.

And I say “only 53,” even though that’s a majority, because any climate bill will need 60 votes, period. The Senate voted overwhelmingly last year to prevent climate legislation from being eligible for a simple majority vote under Senate budget rules.

That level of support for regulating carbon pollution is pretty much the same before the Gulf gusher as after. Certainly no Senator announced a change in position in the aftermath of the disaster.

Why? Because the complex political dynamics — which make passing transformational energy legislation extremely challenging and requiring frustrating compromises — remain the same.

18 Democratic Senators hail from the top coal-producing states. Key right-leaning Senators come from oil producing states (Louisiana) or wanna-be offshore oil producing states (Virginia). Still more come from energy-intensive manufacturing states or agribusiness states.

And you still need to find a few Republicans to get to 60, the path to which according to the utterly maddening Sen. Lindsey Graham, lies in compromises for more nuclear power and, as you may have heard, offshore drilling. Such a deal has had tacit support from major environmental groups but is now harder to seal in the wake of the BP blowout.

OK, so we see that in the end the problems are with the US voters who think naturally of life in the moment rather then life in the future – their children life and nature’s life.

So, if you cannot really hit at US corporations – it starts looking as an imperative that it must be the other – or somehow a semi-other that transgressed.

In no way am I going to try to defend BP, but then how can I blame them only for having taken advantage of lack-of-law in matters of search for oil in the US, as in most of the rest of the world as well?

The US President stands there and fires brim-stones at BP as if it were not clear that hours later the Prime Minister of the UK will have to stand up and try to defend his people. With all that talk of globalization and multi-Nationals – Exxon is still a US company and BP is a British Company, and as I told John Hofmeister, the former CEO of the Dutch-British Company Shell Oil, the only thing I could agree with him is that BP and Shell get the short end of the Administration’s stick is because they are in the image of the people foreign companies.  Oh yes, it is BP that did the present mess, but it is Washington that allowed them to do it and Prime Minster Cameron will claim now that this is not fair.

I have no intent here to go beyond saying that The Financial Times today has several articles pointing out this British reation, and we predict that this problem – the problem of the fraying of the US-British high level of alignment in world affairs, may yet become a main collateral damage to the now gone “Deepwater Horizon.”

BILL BOYARSKY
Big Oil Is Still Boss
truthdig.com – A lot of pundits want President Barack Obama to turn terrible tempered in his handling of the Gulf of Mexico disaster. These critics ignore the real issue – the death grip the oil industry has on Washington and the state capitals of oil-producing states. Oil industry power was the cause of the explosion and spill and will cause those that will no doubt occur in the future. Such power is also why Obama and his successors will find it next to impossible to shift the nation from its fatal dependence on foreign oil and, in the long run, to convert to alternative energy.
BILL SCHER
Climate Vote Shows Gulf Gusher Changed Nothing In Senate
If you thought one of the biggest oil spills in history would automatically propel strong legislation to cap carbon emissions and avert a climate crisis, think again.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 5th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Disaster in the Amazon

By BOB HERBERT, New York Times, Op-Ed Columnist.
Published: June 4, 2010

BP’s calamitous behavior in the Gulf of Mexico is the big oil story of the moment. But for many years, indigenous people from a formerly pristine region of the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador have been trying to get relief from an American company, Texaco (which later merged with Chevron), for what has been described as the largest oil-related environmental catastrophe ever.

“As horrible as the gulf spill has been, what happened in the Amazon was worse,” said Jonathan Abady, a New York lawyer who is part of the legal team that is suing Chevron on behalf of the rainforest inhabitants.

It has been a long and ugly legal fight and the outcome is uncertain. But what has happened in the rainforest is heartbreaking, although it has not gotten nearly the coverage that the BP spill has.

What’s not in dispute is that Texaco operated more than 300 oil wells for the better part of three decades in a vast swath of Ecuador’s northern Amazon region, just south of the border with Colombia. Much of that area has been horribly polluted. The lives and culture of the local inhabitants, who fished in the intricate waterways and cultivated the land as their ancestors had done for generations, have been upended in ways that have led to widespread misery.

Texaco came barreling into this delicate ancient landscape in the early 1960s with all the subtlety and grace of an invading army. And when it left in 1992, it left behind, according to the lawsuit, widespread toxic contamination that devastated the livelihoods and traditions of the local people, and took a severe toll on their physical well-being.

A brief filed by the plaintiffs said: “It deliberately dumped many billions of gallons of waste byproduct from oil drilling directly into the rivers and streams of the rainforest covering an area the size of Rhode Island. It gouged more than 900 unlined waste pits out of the jungle floor — pits which to this day leach toxic waste into soils and groundwater. It burned hundreds of millions of cubic feet of gas and waste oil into the atmosphere, poisoning the air and creating ‘black rain’ which inundated the area during tropical thunderstorms.”

The quest for oil is, by its nature, colossally destructive. And the giant oil companies, when left to their own devices, will treat even the most magnificent of nature’s wonders like a sewer. But the riches to be made are so vastly corrupting that governments refuse to impose the kinds of rigid oversight and safeguards that would mitigate the damage to the environment and its human and animal inhabitants.

Pick your venue. The families whose lives and culture are dependent upon the intricate web of waterways along the Gulf Coast of the United States are in a fix similar to that of the indigenous people zapped by nonstop oil spills and the oil-related pollution in the Ecuadorian rainforest. Each group is fearful about its future. Both have been treated contemptuously.

The oil companies don’t care. Shell can’t wait to begin drilling in the Arctic Ocean off the northern coast of Alaska, an area that would pose monumental problems for anyone trying to deal with a catastrophic spill. The companies pretend that the spills won’t happen. They always say that their drilling operations are safe. They said that before drilling off Santa Barbara, and in the rainforest in Ecuador, and in the Gulf of Mexico, and everywhere else they drill.

Their assurances mean nothing.

President Obama has suspended Shell’s Arctic drilling permits and has temporarily halted the so-called Arctic oil rush. What we’ve learned from the BP debacle in the gulf, and from the rainforest, and so many other places, is just how reckless and inept the oil companies can be when it comes to safeguarding life, limb and the environment.

They’re dangerous. They need the most stringent kind of oversight, and swift and severe sanctions for serious wrongdoing. At the same time, we need to be searching with a much, much greater sense of urgency for viable energy alternatives. Treating the Amazon and the gulf and the Arctic as if they were nothing more than toxic waste sites is an affront to the planet and all life-forms that inhabit it.

Chevron doesn’t believe it should be called to account for any of the sins Texaco may have committed in the Amazon. A spokesman told me that the allegations of environmental damage were wildly overstated and that even if Texaco had caused some pollution, it had cleaned it up and reached an agreement with the Ecuadorian government that precluded further liability.

The indigenous residents may be suffering (they’re in much worse shape than the people on the gulf coast) but the Chevron-Texaco crowd feels real good about itself. The big money was made, and the trash was left behind.

 www.nytimes.com/2010/06/05/opinio…

——————–

Curse of the Black Gold

Hope and betrayal on the Niger Delta.

 ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2007/0…

From Tom O’Neill, February 2007, The National Geographic.
National Geographic staff

Nigeria, 1970s-present — The Delta

Over the decades, aging and ill-maintained pipelines in the Niger Delta of Nigeria have been estimated to spill more than the BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a slow-moving disaster (read this article from National Geographic magazine) that local people say is poisoning drinking water and ruining fisheries and farmland.

Oil companies say many spills are caused by insurgents or thieves who cut the pipelines. They say insurgent violence has kept them from doing normal cleanups when spills occur.

— —

At independence in 1960, few observers expected that Nigeria would mature into an oil giant. But in subsequent decades, the oil companies, led by five multinational firms—Royal Dutch Shell, Total, Italy’s Agip, and ExxonMobil and Chevron from the U.S.—transformed a remote, nearly inaccessible wetland into industrial wilderness. The imprint: 4,500 miles (7,200 kilometers) of pipelines, 159 oil fields, and 275 flow stations, their gas flares visible day and night from miles away.

No one can deny the sheer technological achievement of building an infrastructure to extract oil from a waterlogged equatorial forest. Intense swampy heat, nearly impenetrable mangrove thickets, swarming insects, and torrential downpours bedevil operations to this day. But mastering the physical environment has proved almost simple compared with dealing with the social and cultural landscape. The oil firms entered a region splintered by ethnic rivalries. More than two dozen ethnic groups inhabit the delta, among them the Ijaw, the largest group, and the Igbo, Itsekiri, Ogoni, Isoko, and Urhobo. These groups have a history of fighting over the spoils of the delta, from slaves to palm oil—and now, crude oil. The companies disturbed a fragile landscape that supported fishing and farming. Engineers and project managers constructing pipelines through a mangrove swamp, or laying roads through marshland, could disrupt spawning grounds or change the course of a stream, threatening a village’s livelihood.

Recent reports by the United Nations Development Program and the International Crisis Group identify some of the questionable strategies employed by oil companies: paying off village chiefs for drilling rights; building a road or dredging a canal without an adequate environmental impact study; tying up compensation cases—for resource damages or land purchases—for years in court; dispatching security forces to violently break up protests; patching up oil leaks without cleaning up sites.

“After 50 years, the oil companies are still searching for a way to operate successfully with communities,” says Antony Goldman, a London-based risk consultant. The delta is littered with failed projects started by oil companies and government agencies—water tanks without operating pumps, clinics with no medicine, schools with no teachers or books, fishponds with no fish.

“The companies didn’t consult with villagers,” says Michael Watts, director of the African Studies Program at the University of California, Berkeley. “They basically handed out cash to chiefs. It wasn’t effective at all.”

Last summer, skittish oil prices hit $78 a barrel, partly because of an attack on a Shell flow station. The high prices more than offset production losses caused by the growing instability, helping earn Shell and the other multinationals record profits in 2006. Meanwhile, more oil fields continue to open, many of them offshore where the infrastructure, though far more expensive than on land, is much safer from sabotage and theft. The deepwater fields are attracting aggressive new investors as well. China, India, and South Korea, all energy-hungry, have begun buying stakes in Nigeria’s offshore blocks. “Most Western companies in Nigeria will find it difficult to compete, especially with China,” Goldman says. That’s because oil purchases by the Chinese come with their commitment to finance large infrastructure projects, such as rehabilitating a railroad line.

The largest new petroleum endeavor on the delta is taking shape along the Nun River, a tributary of the Niger. Operated by Shell, the Gbaran Integrated Oil and Gas Project, scheduled to begin producing in 2008, will encompass 15 new oil and gas fields, more than 200 miles (320 kilometers) of pipeline, and a sizable gas-gathering plant. New roads are already gashing the forest. Mounds of long black pipes await burial. Near a bank of the Nun, Nigerian soldiers crouch behind a ring of sandbags, a .60-caliber machine gun facing the road as they guard the entrance to the construction site of the gas plant. Cranes and bulldozers crawl over a cleared space large enough to fit two shopping malls. From the air, it must look as if a patch of skin has been removed from the face of the forest.

Activists with human rights groups are pressuring Shell to learn from past mistakes and treat this high-profile project, which affects 90 villages, as a chance to work better with communities. Michael Watts is advising NGOs on how to educate the local people about their rights. “For Shell to conduct business as usual would be a public relations disaster,” Watts says. “Folks say, ‘Look, these oil companies are making billions by taking out this black stuff from our territory—they should have some ethical and social responsibilities.'”

A cautionary tale unfolds at Oloibiri, where a wellhead, or “Christmas tree,” stands in an overgrown plot. Nothing has flowed from it for years. A weathered sign states the facts: “Oloibiri Well No. 1. Drilled June, 1956. Depth: 12,000 feet (3,700 meters).” Nearby, a plaque dating from 2001 commemorates a presidential visit and the laying of a foundation stone for the Oloibiri Oil and Gas Research Institute, a projected government-funded museum and library. The stone is still there, but nothing else. A few local youths guard the site, not so much to protect it as to demand money from anyone who wants to snap a picture.

In the town of Oloibiri, whose population has dropped from 10,000 to fewer than 1,000 in the past 30 years, a dirt road passes between rough-hewn houses, some roofed with thatch, others with sheets of corroding metal. A small shop offers a few bananas and yams. Inside the only freshly painted structure, a lemon yellow, two-story house, Chief Osobere Inengite of the Ijaw tribe apologizes for the appearance of his town: “Oloibiri is supposed to be compared to Texas,” he said. “I ask you, in Texas have the people in 50 years seen one second of darkness? But look here, we have no light, no water, no food, no jobs.”

The chief looked prosperous. He was wearing an ornate black-and-purple robe, a chunky coral necklace, and a black derby, his outfit for a neighboring chief’s coronation downriver in Nembe later that day. Like most chiefs, Inengite has a business—dredging sand from the river for roadbuilding. He always keeps an eye out for visitors to Nigeria’s historic Well No. 1. He wants them to leave Oloibiri with a message for Shell, which owns the local oil fields. “Tell them to help us. Tell them to train 50 boys and girls from here for jobs,” the chief pleaded. Then he sighed, “If we had never seen oil, we would have been better off.”

Where does all the oil money go? That question is asked in every village, town, and city in the Niger Delta. The blame spreads, moving from the oil companies to a bigger, more elusive, target: the Nigerian government. Ever since it nationalized the oil industry in 1971, the government has controlled the energy purse. In a joint venture arrangement, the state, in the name of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, owns 55 to 60 percent of multinational oil operations onshore. The windfall in revenues from this arrangement has grown in real dollars from 250 million a year to more than 60 billion in 2005. During that time, even though the government has evolved from a military dictatorship to a democracy (the latest attempt at civil governance began in 1999), what has not changed is what an International Crisis Group report calls a “cancer of corruption.” A Western diplomat quoted in the report was even more direct, referring to “the institutionalized looting of national wealth.” The money involved is staggering. The head of Nigeria’s anticorruption agency estimated that in 2003, 70 percent of oil revenues, more than 14 billion dollars, was stolen or wasted.

— —

Oil companies operated in the delta for years with little environmental oversight. There was no federal environmental protection agency until 1988, and environmental impact assessments weren’t mandated until 1992. What pressure the government exerts now is directed mostly at halting gas flares. Delta oil fields contain large amounts of natural gas that companies have traditionally elected to burn off rather than store or reinject into the ground, more costly measures. Hundreds of flares have burned nonstop for decades, releasing greenhouse gases and causing acid rain. Communities complain of corroded roofs, crop failures, and respiratory diseases. After first ordering companies to eliminate flaring by 1984, the government keeps pushing back the deadline. Shell, the main offender, recently announced that despite making considerable progress, it could not meet the latest target date of 2008.

On land, there are oil spills, polluting groundwater and ruining cropland. The government documented 6,817 spills between 1976 and 2001—practically one a day for 25 years—but analysts suspect that the real number may be ten times higher. Old, improperly maintained equipment causes many of the leaks, but oil operators blame sabotage and theft, speculating that disaffected community members deliberately cause oil spills to collect compensation money.

— —

Well 13 in Shell’s Yorla field had been leaking for five days when I got there. Members of the nearby Ogoni village of Kpean had assembled around a five-foot-high (1.5 meters) wellhead that stood in the midst of high grass. Puffs of smoke drifted from the iron structure. Oil dripped from its sides into a spreading lake.

“We’re expecting Shell, but no one has come yet,” a villager said. “Soon the oil will leak into the creek over there and spoil our drinking water.”

Shell and Ogoniland share a tragic history. Nigeria’s first mass protest against the oil industry emerged in these tribal lands southeast of Port Harcourt. In 1990, the charismatic writer Ken Saro-Wiwa, outraged by oil spills in Ogoniland, founded the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People. The organization demanded control of the oil on Ogoni lands and an end to environmental damage. A quarter of a million Ogoni, nearly half the population, rallied in early 1993 to support the cause. Later that year, Shell, citing security concerns, halted production from its 96 wells in Ogoniland—though oil from wells outside the area continued to flow in pipelines through Ogoni territory.

Alarmed by Saro-Wiwa’s popular support, Nigeria’s military government brought charges of murder against him and fellow activists. The government accused them of instigating the mob killings of four Ogoni leaders from a rival faction. At a tribunal widely regarded as a sham, and with the alleged complicity of Shell, Saro-Wiwa and eight others were found guilty and hanged in 1995. Though the world community reacted with outrage, and Saro-Wiwa’s son initiated a lawsuit against Shell for human rights abuses (which is ongoing), the situation has not improved. In fact, Isaac Osuoka told me, “things have gotten worse since Ken was murdered.”

— —

No one is sure how many delta people have picked up the gun to fight for their rights. Estimates range from the low hundreds to the low thousands. What is certain is that each time the military reacts with extreme measures, the number rises.

The rebels seem unafraid, as when a hundred or so MEND members and supporters gathered openly at a morgue in the city of Warri for the funeral service of nine militants killed on the water in an ambush by the Nigerian military. Afterward, MEND leaders invited the press to accompany boats taking the caskets to villages for burial. Along the way, men waved guns from jetties, and white flags flew from huts. The men wore conspicuous red-and-white ties knotted around their arms. The ties and flags were symbols of Egbesu, the Ijaw god of war. Warriors wear the knots as protection against death, believing that having taken an oath to Egbesu, nothing metal—neither bullet nor machete—can harm them. Farther on, a rebel camp sat brazenly on a riverbank, the blue roofs of its barracks plainly visible to oil company helicopters.

No solution seems in sight for the Niger Delta. The oil companies are keeping their heads down, desperate to safeguard their employees and the flow of oil. The military, ordered to meet force with force, have stepped up patrols in cities and on waterways. The militants are intensifying a deadly guerrilla offensive, hoping that rising casualties and oil prices will force the government to negotiate. National elections in April could exacerbate the violence, especially if politicians resort to the practice of hiring youth gangs to deliver votes at gunpoint.

Optimism is as scarce as blue sky in the sodden delta. “Everyone was sure they would be blessed with the coming of the black gold and live as well as people in other parts of the world,” said Patrick Amaopusanibo, a retired businessman who now farms near the village of Oloama. He had to speak loudly to compete with the “black noise,” the hissing and roaring of a gas flare near his cassava field. “But we have nothing. I feel cheated.”

In some parts of the Niger Delta, oil still looks like a miracle. In the run-down fishing village of Oweikorogba on the Nun River, where families of ten sleep in a single room under leaky thatch roofs, hope materialized a year ago in the form of Chinese prospectors. They left without finding oil, but the people of Oweikorogba want them back, confident that they’ll find a pot of gold. And if a stranger warns these villagers that oil is a curse in Nigeria, they will look at him and say: “We want oil here. It will make everything better.”

———————————

Russia, 1970s-present — The Arctic

Like Nigeria, the former Soviet Union has a system of aging and ill-maintained oil pipelines and other facilities inherited from the former Soviet Union.

One incident in 1994 spilled more than 2 million barrels of oil onto the tundra in the Komi region of north Russia. The spilled oil was contained by a dike that later collapsed, allowing oil to flow into nearby rivers.

Russia’s state-owned oil company claimed the spill was far smaller than reported by the Western media, and said it was cleaned up. Greenpeace called the environmental damage “irreparable.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 28th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The interesting day was organized by an active excellent Media Relations Officer of the New York office of the US Department of State – Ms. Melissa Waheibi. She worked this out with the UN MALU (Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit) as we had to get a Temporary Media Pass to the UN.

Our UN hostess was Ms. Robin Dellarocca an Information Officer with the Department of Public Information (DPI), Strategic Communications Division, who was with us at the beginning and at the end of the day, as well as at that Noon Briefing. Most of the day we were accompanied by Ms. Isabelle Broyer, who is the new Chief of MALU within the UN DPI. She was previously Chief of Guided Tours Section in the UN Outreach that also belongs under the DPI, and she was very gracious and started the day by giving us the tour of the old UN – that is the tall building that blocks for the Manhattanites the view to the East River. The problem is that this building is being mothballed for a while because of the need to remove plenty of asbestos that was put into its construction back in the years  1949-1950  when the real estate firm of Wallace Harrison, the personal architectural adviser for the Rockefeller family, was the lead architect for the building. The final project derived from the drawings of Oscar Niemeyer and Le Corbusier. Now, a so called temporary North Lawn building (TNLB), was created this year, and for all practical purposes the UN has changed a lot. We did not go to that building.

Our group numbered 11 people. Seven that had no UN Press Credentials, including our leader from the Foreign Press Center, New York, and four who were actually accredited journalists with the UN DPI. Our Event was called a “United Nations Seminar For Foreign Journalists.” These people come from all over the world and report about the US which in most cases, at least for those stationed in new York, includes interest in the UN. Many do not have a UN accreditation because of the difficult process of getting one, in a few cases their beet does not include the UN – they were all clearly eager to learn more about the UN. The fact that some UN Press-Card holders were also on the tour is a result from the simple reality that the UN DPI does not have such introductory tours for its own newly accredited correspondents – and those that participated in the Seminar were clearly interested in getting some minimal insight into the general workings of the UN. After all – not all journalists covering the UN believe that rewriting UN Press Releases is called journalism.

Eventually we settled around a large table in the office the DPI has for its liaison to the NGOs accredited with DPI, and later, when that room was no more available, we moved next door to class-room setting, and speakers from various departments from the UN and from some affiliates came to tell us about their ongoing activities.

Our morning covered three activities beyond the introductory welcome-tour: The Office for the Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA); The Acting Chief, UN Resources – Promotion and Distribution Unit, UN Multimedia of DPI; and the Noon Briefing.

Our afternoon covered four sessions and closing:  The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Human Rights Deputy Director;  The Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO); The Chief of External Communications at the United Nations Development Programme who was specific on the Millennium Development Goals; and The Chief of the Security Council Secretariat Branch that introduced us to the work of the UN Security Council.

So what about the Noon Briefing?

Combining my notes with the official transcript

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

From the Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, May 25, 2010.

Today’s noon briefing was by Martin Nesirky, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon everybody.

I understand we have a number of international journalists joining us today from the New York Foreign Press Centre.  So, welcome to you and welcome to everybody else at the briefing.

**Press Conference and Stakeout Today

A couple of press conferences today, immediately following Security Council consultations, Ad Melkert, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, will speak to correspondents at the Security Council stakeout position.  And then at 12:30 p.m., here in this auditorium, there will be a press conference on the launch of several campaigns to combat violations of children’s rights.

**Secretary-General’s Remarks

This morning, the Secretary-General marked today the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, with UNICEF’s new Executive Director, Anthony Lake.

The two Protocols — one on prostitution and child pornography, the other on children and armed conflict — have been endorsed by two thirds of all Member States so far.

Mr. Nesirky spelled out further, beyond the language of the official release, that in too many places children are still treated as commodities.

The Secretary-General urged all countries to adopt these instruments within the next two years in order to provide children with a moral and legal shield.  He said that in too many places children are seen as commodities, treated as criminals, instead of being protected as victims, and that in too many conflicts, children are used as soldiers, spies or human shields.  We have his full remarks in my office.

And this afternoon, the Secretary-General will address the pledging Conference for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.  And that’s at 3 p.m., in the ECOSOC Chamber of the North Lawn Building.

**Security Council

The Security Council heard a briefing by Ad Melkert this morning — that’s the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq.  Melkert told Council members that the recent elections and the Government expected to be formed based on the election results offer a new opportunity to strengthen Iraq’s sovereignty.  It will also allow Iraqis to move with greater determination towards reconciliation.  He added, however, that a host of challenges remain, including the continued violence across Iraq, which so far this year has claimed 2,000 lives and wounded 5,000 civilians.

The Council is now in consultations on Iraq, after which Melkert intends to speak to reporters at the Security Council stakeout position.  We have copies of his remarks to the Council in my office.

And following the consultations on Iraq, the Security Council will hold an open meeting on the situation in Chad, the Central African Republic and the subregion.

**Israel-Palestine

The Secretary-General sent a message today to the UN International Meeting in Support of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process, which is being held in Istanbul under the theme “Ending the Occupation and Establishing the Palestinian State”.

The Secretary-General’s message was delivered by Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.  In it, the Secretary-General expressed his satisfaction that, after a prolonged period of delay and setbacks, proximity talks are finally under way.  He also encourages the parties to avoid provocations or breaches of the Road Map or international law.  He welcomes the modest progress that has been achieved, with the Government of Israel facilitating a number of priority projects and widening the list of commercial goods allowed into Gaza.  We have copies of his message in my office.

And separately, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that Gaza’s agriculture sector is being hit hard.  OCHA says that more than 60 per cent of Gaza households are now food insecure, a situation that agriculture could have helped redress.  However, Israel’s import and access restrictions continue to suffocate the local agriculture sector and directly contribute to rising food insecurity.  There is more in a press release from OCHA in my office.

** Haiti

We have an announcement from the United Nations Mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH.

President [René] Préval and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Haiti, Edmond Mulet, have agreed to establish an independent commission to investigate the incident in Les Cayes Prison on 19 January.  The Commission will be a joint United Nations-Haiti effort.  Further details on its composition and mandate will be soon provided by MINUSTAH.

**Press Conference Tomorrow

A couple of press conferences for tomorrow:  at 11 a.m., there will be a press conference to launch the updated 2010 United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects report.  And at 12:30 p.m., Wilfried Lemke, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Sports for Development and Peace, will hold a press conference about the upcoming 2010 FIFA Football World Cup in South Africa, to take place from 11 June until 11 July, and the activities of the UN system around this event.  And finally at 1 p.m., there will be a press conference by Ambassador David Balton, the Chair of the Review Conference on the Fish Stocks Agreement, who will brief on efforts to strengthen international action to manage and conserve fish stocks on the high seas.

**Secretary-General on Africa Day

So I can also tell you that today is Africa Day, and in a message to mark the Day, the Secretary-General says that this year’s celebration has particular significance as it marks the fiftieth anniversary of independence of several Francophone African States and Nigeria, the continent’s most populous nation.

The Secretary-General also notes in his message that by consistently reminding the international community of its responsibility to the most vulnerable, and affirming that we are all members of a global family of nations, Africa has helped to reshape the global agenda.

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

So questions, please.  Yes.

{ and there were four correspondents that asked questions – just only four }

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

**Questions and Answers

(A) Mr. Laolu Akande, Bureau Chief (North America) THE GUARDIAN of NIGERIA. His questions are usually about Africa and the African Union.

Question:  A couple of questions.  One, yesterday the Secretary-General announced that he was going to Nigeria. Do you have more details as to when he is going to go and, apart from the President, who else he is going to be meeting?

Then secondly, on the issue of child rights, I see that the Secretary-General has spoken about that already today.  There is a senator in Nigeria who just married an Egyptian 13-year-old girl.  I was wondering whether the Secretary-General will say something about that?

Spokesperson:  The second, I didn’t quite get that.

Correspondent:  There is senator in Nigeria…

Spokesperson:  Yes.

Correspondent:  …Senator [Ahmad Sani] Yerima, who just married a 13 year old Egyptian, and I was hoping that the Secretary-General will say something about that.

Spokesperson:  Well, on the first question, which is the precise schedule for the Secretary-General’s trip to Nigeria, we don’t yet have the precise layout and the full itinerary.  But we will let you know as soon as we do.  But it will be after the trip to South Africa.  As the Secretary-General mentioned, there is then a leg of that particular trip which takes him to South Africa, to West Africa, I beg your pardon, and Nigeria is part of that.  But exactly where, at what point in the schedule hasn’t been fixed yet.  So we will let you know as soon as we can.

On the second, I don’t think I need to say more than has already been stated about the rights of children.  I think the Secretary-General has been quite clear on that.

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

(B) Mr. Masood Haider, who is registered with THE DAILY DAWN of Karachi, Pakistan, Leading English Newspaper of Pakistan, but when I looked it up already three years ago, I did not find there articles by Masood. On his personal google listings there is much material about him being the President of the UN Correspondents Association (UNCA), and articles on www.MaximsNews.com.  His questions always involve the Middle Eas and end up with an attack on Israel.

So, Masood.

Question:  …specifically about this particular senator, I know that he has made comments.  I want to know whether the United Nations considers itself as having a moral voice, you know, to speak, you know, when such violations of something that it thinks is important to talk about when there is direct violation even by the people who have the power.  Doesn’t the Secretary-General mean to raise the moral voice against such things?

Spokesperson:  The Secretary-General’s moral voice on this question is very clear.  But that doesn’t mean that we have to comment on the specific cases.  But I have stated what the general principle is and so has the Secretary-General.  And I think that that’s a fairly clear answer.  Yes, Masood.

MASOOD HAIDER:  Talking about the moral voice, the disclosure yesterday in the newspaper in London that Israel offered South Africa nuclear warheads in exchange for certain things, and how is that going to impact the nuclear negotiations going on over here at the United Nations on NPT, which Israel refuses to join nor was it disclosed how many weapons it has.  So the Secretary-General was asked this question yesterday, which he did not answer, I mean [inaudible].

Spokesperson:  Well, the Secretary-General did answer the question yesterday, and I have no need to elaborate on what he said.

Question:  But in his…  So what you are saying is it will not have any impact whatsoever on the NPT and the negotiations over there?  Or [inaudible crosstalk]

Spokesperson:  What will have, not have an impact?

Question:  …Middle East nuclear-free zone that he has been espousing?

Spokesperson:  It’s not just the Secretary-General that’s espousing this.  This is an agreement that goes back quite some way.  And it’s not simply the Secretary-General’s voice on this. That’s the first thing.  The second is that the Secretary-General spoke out very clearly yesterday about what’s required of the States parties who are taking part in this Review Conference; that there are people, everybody is watching; the world is watching, and that it’s clear that it’s not easy to reach an agreement.  And it’s clear that there are complications that you are alluding to.  But that doesn’t mean that the countries who are taking part in this Review Conference shouldn’t focus on making their best effort to reach a deal.  That’s what the SG, the Secretary-General, was talking about yesterday.  And I think that there is not much more that I can add to that.  Further questions?  Yes.

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

(C) Ms. Catherine Mercier, CBC Radio-Canada, Producer – United Nations.

Question:  Yesterday the Secretary-General in his press conference mentioned that he wanted to make this building the greenest building possible.  I was wondering if there was a clear plan, for instance, regarding the cafeteria, because it seems to me that even now it could be made much greener than it is.  Not using disposable cups for instance; there are no real glasses, real cups and many people of course it means like hundreds and hundreds of beverages every day.  So is there a clear plan or will there be one?  Maybe it’s a question for Mr. [Michael] Adlerstein, but I just wanted to hear you on that.

Spokesperson:  I’m pretty sure you are right that that is a question for others, not specifically for me.  But that doesn’t mean that I can’t find out, try to find out an answer to it.  But what’s important here is that the idea of transforming this building into a green building is one that will take some time to realize.  We’re not there yet, as everybody knows.  In the meantime, measures can always be undertaken to try to improve the environment or impact that everybody here, whoever it is and whatever we’re doing.  So there is always room for improvement.  So I am sure that folks in the relevant section, the relevant department, can look at measures that could be taken.  Okay.

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

Yes, Matthew.

MASOOD HAIDER  again

Question:  I just wanted to find out…

Spokesperson:  I said Matthew, and then I’ll come to you, Masood, again.  Sorry?

Matthew Russell Lee:  Okay, and then I, you can, then I’ll pass it back to you, Masood.  Unless you’re going environmental?

Spokesperson:  Yeah.  Are you going environmental?  Are you going green?

Masood Haider:  Go ahead, Matthew.

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

(4) MATTHEW R. LEE, of INNER CITY PRESS – The only real investigative reporter at the UN for years. His questions mostly do not get official answers but his postings are most enlightening.

Question:  Okay.  It’s reported that in South Sudan the UN has pulled its staff out of Jonglei state due to unrest.  Is that the case, and what can, what does the UN, doesn’t UNMIS [United Nations Mission in the Sudan] have a protection of civilians mandate?  I mean, are they, what’s the relation between it being too dangerous for civilians staff, or are military personnel of UNMIS going to this location?

Spokesperson:  Well, I’ll try to get further guidance on this.  We’re aware of the reports and we’ll try to get further guidance.  This is always a difficult balancing act here — to get it right, to balance the need to be on the spot, to help the people you are there to help, but at the same time to balance that against your duty of care to the staff you have sent to do that job.  So it’s sometimes a dilemma to do that.  But that’s as a general principle.  I don’t know the full details of this particular case and we’ll try to find out more.

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

Masood.  What’s you question, Masood?

Question:  Okay.  What I am saying is, IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] has now got this thing from Iran.  Now, how will that impact the negotiations over here if it keeps a point of report that Iran in fact is on its way to comply, as the Brazilians and the Turkish people, Turkish [inaudible].  How will that impact the negotiations over here?

Spokesperson:  Well, first of all, as the Secretary-General said yesterday, he spoke to the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mr. [Yukiya] Amano, and the communication that was received from the Iranians is being analysed and assessed by the International Atomic Energy Agency.  So we still don’t know what it said precisely, and we still don’t know precisely what it means.  And therefore it’s difficult to assess what impact it might have on Security Council consultations that are going on.  I’m sure that members of the Security Council, if you ask them, would have their views on it.  The Secretary-General has made clear two things:  one, that this is in general in the hands of the Security Council; and the second thing, that the proposal or the deal struck between Iran, Turkey and Brazil would represent a positive step if combined with the full compliance that the international community expects of Iran with existing Security Council resolutions.

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

Matthew.

Question:  Sure, on Sudan, I wanted, actually, two questions, both about sort of related to yesterday’s press conference by the Secretary-General.  One was this question of both Mr. [Ibrahim] Gambari and Mr. [Haile] Menkerios going to the inauguration of Omer Al-Bashir, given his International Criminal Court indictment.  Was there some — and I have gone over the Secretary-General’s answer a number of times — had, did, particularly for Mr. Menkerios, who is solely a UN not AU employee, was this, did the Office of Legal Affairs, who essentially sort of authorized what seems to many to be a change of policy, even going back as far as, I mean, to have UN officials engage with an indicted, someone indicted for crimes of war is something new.  And who signed off on that?

Spokesperson:  It’s just not true that it’s new. It’s just not true.  The point is that both these gentlemen, Mr. Gambari and Mr. Menkerios, are appointed by the Secretary-General under a Security Council mandate to carry out a job in Sudan — in the case of Mr. Gambari jointly under the African Union, as you pointed out.  Their job is to interact with the Sudanese Government.  That’s their job, to ensure that the missions, the important missions, the large missions trying to do the work that you mentioned in the previous question; they interact.  That’s obvious.  And as the Secretary-General said yesterday, this is no more, no less than their participation in an event that carries political significance as well as being a ceremony.  It has political significance, but crucially, they have a mandate to be there and to interact with the Sudanese authorities.

Question:  [inaudible] keep contact at the high level such as the Secretary-General, I would assume Mr. Menkerios to a minimum necessary to carry out the operational functions, because, I mean, Human Rights Watch has said this is legitimizing, or really, minim… making a mockery of the fact that if somebody is indicted for war crimes and yet can meet openly and be celebrated by UN officials.  Is that, what’s the Secretary-General’s response to that?

Spokesperson:  Well, first of all, Human Rights Watch are entitled to their view, and they do extraordinary work. The second thing is they have a job to do, large missions to run.  They need to be able to interact with the Sudanese authorities and they have a mandate to do so.

Question:  To follow up on that, you say there is no change in policy, but were there any precedents before of such top-level UN officials coming close to someone who was indicted by the ICC?

Spokesperson:  Of course, when it’s been operationally necessary with President Bashir, that’s the case.  But when it’s been necessary for the operational reasons that we’ve talked about here before.  Yeah.

Question:  [inaudible]

Spokesperson:  I don’t think I need to repeat again — I already did once — I don’t think I need to repeat again what the Secretary-General said yesterday.  Okay.  Other questions?

Question:  I have a follow-up?

Spokesperson:  Yeah.

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

Laolu Akande joins the question about Sudan –

Question:  I’m sure you know that it’s a rather tough issue, but we have to ask the question.  Do you think by allowing those two top UN officials to go and be part of that inauguration, simple question, do you think that undermines the work of the Tribunal?

Spokesperson:  Absolutely not.  No.  The fact is Mr. Bashir was elected by the Sudanese people as the President in the recent elections.  That’s a fact.  And there is an inauguration.  That’s also a fact.  It’s a political event as well as a ceremony.  It involves the swearing-in, the inauguration of the Head of State of that country where we have two sizeable missions, with people doing difficult work to help the people of Sudan. And that’s the reason why they are there, and that’s the reasons why the need to interact with the Sudanese authorities.

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


Matthew Lee about Sri Lanka –

Question:  Last Monday, about eight days ago, when this International Crisis Group report came out about Sri Lanka, you’d said that the UN would study it and would have some response to the report, particularly to the part that said, that called for an investigation of the UN’s own actions pulling out of Kilinochi, ineffectively calling for a ceasefire and funding internment camps.  Is that response, is, when can we expect the responses, particularly the factual ones of just how much money was spent on the camps.  Is that ready?

Spokesperson:  Not yet.

Question:  [inaudible] I wanted to, maybe, this goes back to yesterday’s press conference by the Secretary-General.  I was, I’m still trying to understand, I sort of recited the, this, the critique of the ICG.  And he seemed to say, I totally reject it.  That…

Spokesperson:  No, I think, Matthew, that’s wrong.  What he was rejecting was the catalogue of allegations that you listed that were not in the ICG report.

Question:  There was only one that was additional.  So that’s the one that he… he was only rejecting that one?

Spokesperson:  Go through the list and maybe you will see what I mean.

Question:  But I want to, I am going to ask you about that allegation, because I want to know what he rejects about it.  Philip Alston has said that a number of LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] leaders who were, came out to surrender after having spoken with Vijay Nambiar, the Chief of Staff, were in fact — he believes, Alston believes — summarily executed by the Sri Lankan Government.  So the question is, and it’s a question that Alston himself has raised, at least in the corridors, what was Chief of Staff Vijay Nambiar’s role in encouraging them to come out?  No, I don’t know what the role was, but it seems like it’s a fair question to say should there be an investigation to find out whether the Chief of Staff either, you know, God forbid, knew they would be killed or had reason to not tell them to come out if in fact they were killed.  So, what’s he rejecting about that, I guess, that’s the factual question?  And what’s the answer?  What did Vijay Nambiar know when he told them to come out?

Spokesperson:  The Chef de Cabinet { Mr. Vijay Nambiar from India }has talked about this publicly and made clear that this was, that he had no direct contact with the people who were being asked to surrender.  He had no direct contact with them.  He spoke to the Sri Lankan leaders and was conveying a message that was relayed to him not by someone from the Tamil community.  I will be able to give you the exact ins and outs if you need it, but he has spoken publicly about it.

Correspondent:  [inaudible] I really try to cover it very closely.  I’m not, I’m not…

Spokesperson:  Yes, yes he has.  He did so quite recently in an interview with Al Jazeera.

Question:  Can we get, I guess…?

Spokesperson:  Well, you can ask Al Jazeera.

Question:  Maybe, get, I mean…?

Spokesperson:  Have a look at what he said on Al Jazeera.  That’s probably not a bad idea.

Correspondent:  Actually, Al Jazeera is no longer shown in the UN.  It used to be on UNTV, but that’s not…

Spokesperson:  Now look, let’s not go down this road.

Correspondent:  No, I understand, but…

Spokesperson:  Do you know at the moment I can’t see any TV channels at the moment, Matthew?  In my office I can’t see any TV channels because of the technical work that’s going on in the building.  There are difficulties.  So we don’t need to go down that route.

Question:  Can I get a transcript of what he said?  I am assuming that the UN kept a transcript?

Spokesperson:  Just watch Al Jazeera, okay?  You can ask them, I’m sure they can help you.

Spokesperson:  Other questions?  No?  Okay.  All right, we have our guests waiting for us.  Thank you very much.

* ***

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

So what we just witnessed was that one investigative reporter (Matthew Lee) wanted to know about steps the UN has taken in Sudan and Sri Lanka.

In the case of Sudan the UN sent two high officials to participate at the reinauguration of President Bashir who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court of war crimes. It seems that if needed the UN has to deal with Bashir, on a de facto basis – but by going to his party – this is nothing less then an acceptance de jure of his stolen election and a slap at the judges of the ICC.

In the case of Sri Lanka, the question is if the Chef de Cabinet to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was involved in delivering rebels to be executed by the government. If you do not ask these questions you will never know that it is difficult to get straigt answers – and only one journalist at the UN bothers looking for answers – seemingly most others are Press-Release mincers while doing that work in their UN cubicles.

A second active person clearly came there to look for loopholes to attack Israel. That is clearly his right but it reflects on the UN.

A third active Journalist was there because he gathers information on how to better Africa. This is Laudatory.

The Fourth Journalist, the lady from Canada, Catherine Mercier, was gratifying to us – she actually tried to find out if the UN is serious about its professed intent of appearing green – and the truth is indeed very far from the UN stated goals. In all these last, nearly 20 years since the Rio Conference of 1992, and the call for an Agenda 21,  the UN has done in its own buildings absolutely zero.

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

Further, in 2006 the UN used to show these Noon Briefings to the Press on Manhattan Chanel 78 on New York TV. That used to be an inducement to get into the Briefing room many more journalists. Mid – 2007 this was discontinued and when I asked about it from journalists and DPI members no-body knew of any other venue. Now, in this tour, I learned from the lady that spoke on UN Media Resources that the UNTV is being seen in Manhattan on Chanel # 150 on Time Warner Cable and it includes the Noon Briefings.

With this knowledge I followed up by watching the programs on this Thursday May 27th, and Friday May 28th. I was curious to follow up and see who, and how many of the Journalists show up and are active at Question time.

So, for Thursday May 27, 2010:

There was a journalist from the Republic of Korea who had many questions relating to the Korea situation. He was told that the Secretary-General said that he expects the Security Council to take action to which there was an expression of wonder about the idea of a UNSG telling the Security Council what to do.

– Masood Haider was asking on the situation in Gaza at the time that in Istanbul there is an attempt to restart the proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The answer was that any action that can increase tension while the proximity talks wer started have to be watched very carefully.

– Masood was joined by a correspondent from Lebanon who wanted to know about Israeli actions in Lebanon.

– Matthew Lee implied that the UN must have safeguards to guard it from itself as per a complaint from a member of the Somali delegation who complained about UN spending funds in Mogadishu. Same goes for the EU.

Matthew Lee had specific questions regarding a Sierra Leone UN paid person who declared he will run for elections in Sierra Leone while on UN pay. Thw answer was tat such a thing is clearly not right. The question was specific but the answer was generic.

Matthew continued with questions about the Security Council discussing the renaming of the mission to Congo – what are the priorities? He was answered that on Friday he will have a chance to ask the question from the guest.

– Matthew continue with questions about payments to a UN official in Congo who is under scrutiny.

We had thus again just 4 people – Masood and Matthew and two new participants. One that was seemingly on the Masood team, and a new face interested in Korea.

————–

For Friday May 28, 2010:

Today there were only questions from Masood and Matthew.

The topic for Masood was the Rio meeting of the Alliance of Civilizations under the chairmanship of President Lula, and with the Participation of UNSG Ban Ki-moon. Also about the bombing in Lahore.

Matthew’s questions dealt with the UN in Congo.


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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 17th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The different levels of demeaning a woman in the Islamic world:

Burqa is a most complete body-cover – the covering of the eyes may or may not be also required.

Hijab is a legal term in Islamic law – “curtain” or “cover” that covers everything except face and hands in public.

Niqab is just a veil – least offensive.

Khimar is a headscarf or veil as mentioned in the Quran. This is the way women should cover themselves as per the Quran.

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ADC (The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee) Congratulates Rima Fakih as Miss USA 2010

Washington, DC | May 17, 2010 | www.adc.org | The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) extends its wholehearted congratulations to Ms. Rima Fakih of Dearborn, Michigan, who was crowned Miss USA 2010 on May 16th at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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You can read more about Ms. Rima Fakih, who is of Lebanese descent, by visiting the links to the following articles:
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Last night, Rima competed against 50 other contestants, representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Rima will go on to compete for the title of Miss Universe this summer.  She will spend the next year traveling the globe to promote the Miss Universe organization.
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ADC President, Ms. Sara Najjar-Wilson, stated that, “we are very proud of Rima Fakih.  She is a very intelligent as well as a very beautiful young woman.  We are elated by her success, and are confident that she will honor all Americans in representing the United States in the Miss Universe Pageant.”
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Rima, who is 24-years old, is a graduate of the University of Michigan-Dearborn, earning a degree in Economics and Business Management.  She began competing in beauty pageants while in college, as a way to earn scholarship money.  After her reign, Rima aspires to attend law school.
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ADC wishes Rima much success and happiness as Miss USA, and extends to her continued best wishes in all her future endeavors. (so does our website – www.SustainabiliTank.info)
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Contact: media@adc.org
202-244-2990
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), is non-profit and non-sectarian and is the largest Arab-American civil rights organization in the United States. It was founded in 1980 by former Senator James Abourezk to protect the civil rights of people of Arab descent in the United States, and to promote the cultural heritage of Arabs.
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ADC has 38 chapters nationwide, including chapters in every major city in the country, and members in all 50 states.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 17th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

The JapanTimesOnline, Sunday, May 16, 2010

 

What is next for Nigeria?

The transition of power since the death of Nigerian President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua has been swift and efficient. Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, sworn in a day after the president’s passing, declared a week of mourning for his predecessor. It is unclear if Mr. Jonathan will seek to win the office in his own right in elections scheduled next year. While many view him as a good candidate who could pursue Mr. Yar’Adua’s pledge to tame the corruption that dominates Nigerian politics, his candidacy could also further intensify an internal conflict in the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Mr. Yar’Adua was an unlikely president. While he came from an aristocratic family in northern Nigeria — his father was a minister in one of the first postindependence governments — his political prospects were thought to have been overshadowed by those of his older brother, Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, who was second in command in one of the military governments that ruled in the 1970s.

The younger Yar’Adua took a university degree — the first Nigerian president to do so — worked as a lecturer and went into business. He became governor of Katsina state and was selected by then President Olusegun Obasanjo to head the PDP ticket in the 2007 elections. Mr. Obasanjo might have hoped that he could continue to rule through his successor.

Mr. Yar’Adua won the ballot in an election that was almost universally condemned as fraudulent. Nonetheless, the new president promised to rid Nigeria of endemic corruption, implement the rule of law, end the violence that impeded oil production — the country’s principle source of revenue — and improve the daily lives of ordinary citizens. While few doubted his intent, he failed on all three counts.

Some blame his frail health. Mr. Yar’Adua had been traveling abroad secretly for a decade to treat kidney ailments. His weakness enabled his retinue, led by his wife, to exercise power.

The president himself conceded that he lived in a “gilded cage.” Last year his illness worsened and he left for Saudi Arabia for treatment.

His entourage closed ranks and refused to issue reports on his status or to hand over power to Mr. Jonathan, the vice president.

Amid growing anger at the silence and worries about the uncertainty of who was in charge, Mr. Jonathan took the reins of state in February, prompting Mr. Yar’Adua’s secret return. He never again met the public.

While there are no doubts about Mr. Jonathan’s right to assume the presidency, the question is what he will do next year.

Nigeria is deeply divided: The North is predominantly Muslim; the South, Christian. The ruling PDP has worked out a power-sharing formula, called “the zoning policy,” by which the presidency will rotate between the North and South every eight years. Mr. Yar’Adua ruled for less than four years, so Muslim politicians believe that they have the right to pick the candidate in next year’s ballot. Since Mr. Jonathan is from the south, if he decides to run after using his year in office to build a base, he risks unleashing a civil war.

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation, with the vast majority of its 150 million people living in dire circumstances. That is remarkable in itself since Nigeria is the world’s eighth-largest oil exporter. Despite this status, ordinary people have been unable to enjoy the economic fruits. The result has been various insurgencies throughout the country, the most enduring of which is in the Niger Delta, where rebel groups have been attacking oil facilities and kidnapping workers to back their demand for independence.

In an attempt to spur production and generate money that could be devoted to the region — the rebel attacks had cut production in half — Mr. Yar’Adua declared an amnesty that delivered a shaky peace. At the same time, though, there have been other incidents of ethnic and religious violence resulting in hundreds of deaths.

Mr. Jonathan backs his predecessor’s agenda. He, too, wants to end the corruption, install rule of law and end the violence that cripples Nigeria. He has promised free and fair elections next year. But ethnic divisions, particularly those within the PDP, threaten to reverse the fragile gains that have been made. Some within the party dislike the Niger Delta deal because they fear it is a device to channel money to the region’s gangs in anticipation of next year’s ballot.

Mr. Jonathan must carry on. The tainted ballot of 2007 has focused international attention on Nigeria’s elections. Violence in the oil-producing regions intensifies the spotlight. Failure to end the corruption and ensure a more equitable distribution of the country’s wealth could stretch Nigeria to the breaking point.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 3rd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The kernel of the future – the projected five world leaders – are in trouble. With the US and China in a tiff because of Taiwan (arm sales by US manufacturers) and Tibet (a visit with the Dalai Lama), now South Africa, one of the three IBSAs that met with the G2 in Copenhagen, shows sings of 21st century immaturity. You just cannot go on living by Zulu rules if you want to lead your people out of poverty. Tiger Woods learned that very very fast that the limelight of world media will do you in, and even oil rich monarchs do not father now 20 children anymore. The stories about Zuma’s ascent in South Africa were plenty and his people we know told us so when it was rumored that he is in line to take over his country’s helm. It seems that Mandela’s South Africa deserves better – so does the 15 States group of Southern Africa { www.sadc.int }, and black Sub-Sahara Africa at large. We said before, South Africa is the third IBSA not alone, but as the symbol of all that immense Sub-Sahara black chunk of resources rich land and its one billion people that have the potential of evolving into next great consumers market to drive their own economy and the world economy. To this mass of people, the South African President must be an example and our prejudice that we knowingly attempt to show by this posting, calls for an exemplary leader for South Africa – someone fit to try on Mandela’s shoes.

This week the African Union rejected the attempt of Libya’s rambling Gaddafi to hold on to the chairmanship of Africa for another year, and voted instead to give the position to Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika. We attach the story about that event at the end of this posting, as we focus on the further ramblings by a Libyan-sponsored group of African traditional leaders from an unnamed French speaking African country, who crowned Qaddafi “King of Kings.” Africa seems to react indeed with understanding to the fact that the world is changing into a 7 to 10 countries structure and that Africa wants one of its own, and that means not Qaddafi, to be part of this structure – a modern man rather then a traditional chieftain – neither do they think anymore that the position of leader in Addis Ababa belongs to a Mediterranean North African settler. They want a black leader – but hiding under a Zulu mantle, and invoking rules of the desert, simply  can not do anymore.

——————–
South Africa’s President Sows (Another) Sex Scandal.

Theunis Bates
 aol.com Contributor, February 2, 2010.
John Edwards might have reason to feel a little jealous of Jacob Zuma right now. The South African president has faced many accusations of sleazy behavior during his 20-year-long political career, from corrupt business dealings (the charges were withdrawn) to having unprotected sex with an HIV-positive woman (which he admitted). Yet his popularity in South Africa appears to be surviving even the latest addition to his scandal sheet: the revelation that last year he fathered a child – rumored to be his 20th – with a woman who is neither his fiancee nor one of his three current wives.

According to South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper, Sonono Khoza, 39 – the daughter of Irvin Khoza, the chief organizer of the 2010 soccer World Cup in South Africa and a close friend of Zuma’s – gave birth to a girl in October, three months before the president wed for the fifth time. The paper added that Zuma was believed to have paid his former lover “inhlawulo,” a traditional Zulu form of compensation handed over when a child is born out of wedlock.

The African National Congress issued a statement Monday confirming that Jacob Zuma, pictured, fathered a daughter out of wedlock. The child, born last year, is rumored to be the South African president’s 20th offspring.

Opposition politicians condemned the African National Congress leader’s bed-hopping antics as unpresidential. “We recommend Zuma goes for sex addiction therapy as Tiger Woods did,” said Christian Democrat Kenneth Meshoe.

Other parliamentarians pointed out that Zuma is sending the wrong message to his fellow countrymen and women, about 5 million of whom are infected with HIV/AIDS – the highest number of any nation in the world. Although the president was praised for increasing the availability of lifesaving anti-retroviral drugs after his election last year, opposition parties say his behavior is now undermining campaigns to raise awareness of the benefits of condom use and faithfulness.

“South Africa now has a president who, both through his words and actions, is doing similar damage to the struggle against HIV/AIDS – a life-and-death struggle for millions of South Africans,” said Helen Zille, leader of the Democratic Alliance. “President Zuma’s behavior directly contradicts the government’s campaign against multiple sexual partners, and the inherent AIDS risk in having unprotected sex.”

Zuma, who defends his right to have more than one wife as part of his Zulu culture, has yet to comment on the revelations, although the ANC issued a statement Monday confirming that he had fathered a child.

“There is nothing wrong that the president has done. There is nothing shameful when two adults have a relationship,” said ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu. “By being involved with any other person, President Zuma is not guilty of any offense and he has not breached our constitution or any of our laws.”

With Zuma’s approval ratings still sitting comfortably above 50 percent, most ordinary South Africans seem disposed, at least for now, to agree with that verdict.

————–

After Losing a Post, Qaddafi Rebukes the African Union
February 1st, 2010, abbaymedia.com/News/?p=3699
By JASON McLURE

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the Libyan leader, delivered a rambling rebuke of fellow African heads of state Sunday after they chose to replace him as chairman of the African Union and failed to endorse his push for the creation of a United States of Africa.

“I do not believe we can achieve something concrete in the coming future,” said Colonel Qaddafi, before introducing President Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi as his successor at the African Union’s annual summit meeting, held in Addis Ababa. “The political elite of our continent lacks political awareness and political determination. The world is changing into 7 or 10 countries, and we are not even aware of it.”

South Africa, Ethiopia and Nigeria were among the countries opposing Colonel Qaddafi’s attempts to form a continental government, which many view as impractical given the political and economic disparities in Africa.

Colonel Qaddafi argued that individual African states are too weak to negotiate with major powers like the European Union, the United States and China. His efforts to become the first African leader to win another one-year term as chairman of the African Union were thwarted by a push for Mr. Mutharika, 75, by the 15-member Southern African Development Community.

The Libyan leader also complained that such summit meetings were boring, that his colleagues were too long-winded and that he often was not informed of African Union decisions.

Colonel Qaddafi did not leave the lectern before giving the microphone to an unnamed representative of a Libyan-sponsored group of African traditional leaders who had crowned him “King of Kings” in a ceremony in 2008.

The representative, bearing a golden scepter and trailed by an aide fanning him with a large feather, spent much of his address praising Colonel Qaddafi.

“You have the African people with you,” said the man, who spoke in French and did not identify himself. “This is what is important, not politicking. It is politicians who have destroyed us.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 6th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

From the latest news coming from Washington – “Under the new airport
rules, all citizens of Afghanistan, Algeria, Lebanon, Libya, Iraq,
Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen must receive a pat
down and an extra check of their carry-on bags before boarding a plane
bound for the United States, officials said. Citizens of Cuba, Iran,
Sudan and Syria — nations considered ‘state sponsors of terrorism’ —
face the same requirement.”

That means Cuba and thirteen Muslim states: Afghanistan, Algeria,
Lebanon, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia,
Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

These news caused a lot of comments, but we think the wrong comments.

We assume obviously that Washington is ready finally to address the
terrorism issue. Airplane terrorism, as we learned on 9/11, is not
about transport of weapons but about terrorists – to be specific since
9/11 – we speak here about Islamic terrorists. If you want to catch
terrorists you must look for terrorists. Looking for baby formula is
not the answer – but looking for those passengers whose profiles are
suspicious might be a better bet. Sure, obviously, not all Muslims are
terrorists, and profiling is terrible – even illegal, but if you want
to catch terrorists you start with the profile that most fits Islamic
terrorists, and you bet – they are Muslims of any color. Even though
they may be traveling with documents issued by non-Islamic States,
i.e. the UK, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, France, Switzerland, or even the
US.

So, it is not easy to define exactly what papers are carried by the
terrorists, but you can have some guidelines to increase your chance
of catching them. looking for a profile of an Asian or African Muslim.
Then, learn from the Israelis how to talk to them – you may even find
out that they are so convinced that their cause is the right one, that
they will lower their guard and just plainly disclose that what you
see is all they got.

There may be a Jamaican convert to Islam who preached terrorism in the UK
and resides now in Kenya – a case in point. Kenya does want him either and
he will be sent back to Jamaica a second time. yes, this is a problem if you
are American and Jamaica does not cooperate – but he is a Muslim and no
Anti-Defamation league is enrtitled to tell you Mr. President that he should
not be stripped and searched if he wants to travel via the US to Jamaica.
This is simple.

But what about Cuba? Fidel Castro is more atheist then Catholic, surely
no Muslim. Whatever went on in the past is history to me and I do not believe
prologue to Mr. Castro. So why mix him and his country up with 13 Islamic
States involved in Islamic Terrorism? That is unless someone in the US longs
to see him give cover to such terrorists in the future so they get new reasons
to be after him? If the Jamaica case has anything to teach us – it is that the
US is better off reinsuring its rear parts from anger caused by mistreatment
and friendship is not achieved by mulling over past grief. Specially, as several
hundred former sugar baron families living in Florida should not be allowed to
hold hostage the US when it comes to real US interests.

Mr. President, I watched Bolivia and Venezuela leaders speak in Copenhagen,
they fumed and brimmed with words – no stones or missiles. Their ALBA is,
I think, the natural ally of a US that manages to disengage from the Islamic
world of oil. So, it is the US self interest that calls for you, Mr. President, to
invite Fidel Castro to Washington for a tete-a-tete and start on a way that
eventually will give the US the wall of safety it needs when addressing the 21st
Century centers of terror – the Islamists’ terror cancer that will continue to ooze
as long as we use oil.

Please start by taking him of that list!

The thirteen on that list include the obvious Iran – Syria – Lebanon
trio of the Shii’a Islam, it includes the Afghanistan/Pakistan US
theater of operations and Iraq, as well as the other US theater Saudi
Arabia, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan that misses Egypt and the Gaza strip. A
fourth historic region includes Libya and Algeria, then with Nigeria,
these are newer sources of oil for the US, and as such clear potential
sources of unhappy Islamists who complain about the changes in their
countries as fueled by oil money. In very few countries terrorism
against the US was actually started by rulers decree. Libya, Iran,
Syria, Sudan, Somalia may be the exceptions, but Saudi Arabia and
Yemen may have seen rulers who deflected anger against themselves into
anger against foreigners. In the majority of cases the terrorist is a
person of convictions and the situation could have been avoided had
the US and the rest of the Western World, tried to be less squanderous
with the oil we got addicted to.

Having said the above – let us get now to the point – MR PRESIDENT –
PLEASE – TAKE CUBA OFF THAT LIST BECAUSE THEY DO NOT BELONG ON THAT
LIST IN 2010.

* * * *

Please look – I am posting here four reference – links to news
articles of today’s New York Times.

 www.nytimes.com/2010/01/05/us/05t…
New Air Security Checks From 14 Nations to U.S. Draw Criticism

 www.nytimes.com/2010/01/05/world/…
In Yemen, U.S. Faces Leader Who Puts Family First

 www.nytimes.com/2010/01/05/world/…
Behind Afghan Bombing, an Agent With Many Loyalties

 www.nytimes.com/2010/01/05/world/…
Kenya Seeks to Deport Muslim Cleric to Jamaica

————————

THE UPDATE:

We have received a comment on this post and it presents a very valid point supposedly made at the UN General Assembly by the Foreign Minister of Cuba: “I mean if they were going to include us, then they should have at least thrown in North Korea.”

Even if the e-mail we received from ajay –   akazif at gmail.com  as presented by www. eggplantpost.com in eggplantpost.com/2010/01/05/cuba-… were a made up story, the argument holds water nevertheless. DID THE US INCLUDE CUBA ON THAT LIST BECAUSE IT WANTED TO AVOID BEING SEEN AS GOING AFTER A RAG-TAG OF ISLANIC COUNTRIES? Now, we believe that US security should be spoken here – not again US appeasement-for-oil please!

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 5th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

“Full-body scanners on display at Reagan National Airport: Many experts say the full-body scanners would have detected the explosives carried aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day, but the
machines have also raised privacy concerns over the detailed body image that is displayed as part of the screening.”

TSA – Transportation and Security Administration – tries to assuage privacy concerns about full-body scans.

By Philip Rucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 4, 2010
It has come to this.

Already shoeless, beltless and waterless, more beleaguered air passengers will be holding their legs apart, raising their arms and effectively baring it all as they pass through U.S. airport security
checkpoints.

Add the “full-body scan” to the list of indignities that some travelers are confronting in the post-Sept. 11, 2001, era of vigilance.

Federal authorities, working to close security gaps exposed by the thwarted Christmas Day terrorist attack on a Detroit-bound airliner, are multiplying the number of imaging machines at the nation’s biggest
airports. The devices scan passengers’ bodies and produce X-ray-like images that can reveal objects concealed beneath clothes…….

– – – – – –

now add the “me-au” from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, ADC Legal Director   nshora at adc.org

Washington, D.C. | January 5, 2010 | www.adc.org |

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is deeply concerned by the new Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) directives, which went into effect on January 4th at midnight.  According to news sources, these directives will require citizens from 14 countries, all Arab or Muslim countries, with the exception of Cuba, to go through enhanced security screening. Such screening can include full pat-downs, scans, delays, and anything associated with secondary screening – an extra search of the passenger’s carry-on luggage may also be required.  News sources also stated that the directives are applicable to any travelers, including US CITIZENS, who have passed through one of these 14 countries, or who have taken flights that have originated from these 14 countries.

ADC is very troubled as such directives will have negative ramifications on Arab-Americans, citizens of the 14 countries, and all Americans who visit these countries. A disparate segment of the Arab-American community will be scrutinized because of these new guidelines. The blanket labeling of hundreds of millions of civilians based solely on their country of citizenship or travel is not only unfairly discriminatory based on national origin, but also improperly labels millions of innocent people as somehow suspect or possible terrorists.

The new directives came following the Christmas Day attempted airline attack that threatened our national security, and which ADC has strongly condemned. Implementing an effective and productive counterterrorism tool is paramount. However, casting a wide net against individuals based on their country of origin, race or religion is not an effective counterterrorism tool. During the past decade, similar racial, ethnic and religious profiling tactics and practices have time and again misdirected precious counterterrorism resources, damaged foreign relations with key allies, fueled the fires of extremists by giving them an excuse, stigmatized communities, and most importantly did not have any discernible impact on security. Based on precedent, these new directives will be no different than these past practices and their adverse consequences; and while such directives may appear to make us feel safer, the reality is that they discriminate against innocent persons and divert attention from real threats.

Resources must instead be focused on high-risk individuals based on proper intelligence, better coordination and communication between different governmental agencies. In addition, continued engagement with the Arab, Muslim, Sikh, and South Asian community groups must be strengthened, and must not be discouraged by ethnic profiling tactics.

ADC has been in contact with TSA and the Department Homeland Security (DHS) and is planning to file a complaint and request for additional information with the Department.  ADC urges all travelers affected by these new guidelines to always comply with the Transportation Security Officer’s (TSO’s) request.  In the event of any abuse or misuse of authority, please request the TSO’s name and badge number, and file a complaint with ADC’s Legal Department at  legal at adc.org.

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

Honestly, I feel the pain of decent members of the ADC, but am appalled at the chutzpah to announce the complaints of that organization without a single word attached saying that as loyal citizens to this country they are ready to organize themselves in units of informers when it comes to transgressions by people from their country of birth, that are endangering the security of the country that gave to the ADC members the privilege of life under a secular democracy.

Yes, I know that the ADC has members that are Muslim, Christian or atheists. I know they have no Jews in ADC, but that is not the issue. The Arab countries, other Asian countries, and the African Arabized countries, on the list of 13, are all Islamic countries – in all of them Christians and Jews face very serious difficulties. Further, I know of good Muslims in the US and overseas, that participate with enlightened Jews in order to build bridges between communities. in Copenhagen I actually participated during the Climate conference at a pilgrimage that took us to places of worship that were Jewish, Buddhist, Christian, and Muslim (that last meeting was held in the rooms of a Danish humanist society) – in this time sequence. Yes – good relationships are possible, but that will happen only when, and if, there is a clear understanding, and voiced recognition, that Islamic terrorism originates with Muslim individuals, and that in order to safeguard ourselves, profiling in search of instruments of terror is not a dirty word, but a means of self defense.

Also, in order to avoid needless friction, I suggest that the ADC moves front and center in the global effort to disengage from the addiction to oil.

And one more item – this website does speak up for Cuba as they surely are not part of the group of countries responsible for Islamicists performing acts of terror. So, they do not belong on that list of 14.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 19th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Instead of having a signed “deal” at Copenhagen, now it seems that the leaders will be happy with a compilation of National promises. By coincidence, the UN Think Tank of UNU hosted today a panel – “PUBLIC POLICY: FROM NATIONAL TO GLOBAL” – it could not have been at a better time – and trust me – it was excellent. For fun, an NGO called Sustainability had Shell Oil Company over to the UN for lunch.

Not all is useless at the UN – just see what thinking people can come up with.

The 150 minutes event, in the basement of the UN building, at the United Nation University – the New York Office – was the second session of a Global Public Policy Working Group that aims to explore how to make public policy become more of a reality at the global level. This second session tried to find philosophical answers to what it means to have public policy at a global level – what are the conceptual, methodological, intellectual, and political challenges to this concept in an institution that caters to sovereign Nations. How do these challenges play out in various areas, such as security, development, and environment? That is really fascinating – specially in these days when we see before our eyes how difficult it is to many National governments to see beyond the length of their noses when trying to tackle the climate change issue. I saw some UN officials, some members of country representations, many NGOs, many young students, and just one other journalist in the room.

The panel was chaired by Dr. Jean-Marc Coicaud, the Director of UNU – Office in New York, and included Professor Andrew Hurrell of the Oxford University, Professor Thomas Pogge of the Yale University, and Dr. Yomo Kwame Sundaram from Malaysia, who was on many faculties in the US and UK and is now UN Assistant SG for Economic Development at the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and member of several panels that look at reforms. At the end there were quite a few questions from the floor.

Policy is what governments do – directly or through agents – this in order to benefit their own citizens. When talking at the global level we have to look at the word – agents – in order to find a way to go around the Sovereignty problem. The Public aspect must involve information, fairness and equality.
The domestic examples are the Public Goods – clean water, electricity, telephone service, education, basic medical care.

Dr. Sundaram reminded us that the San Francisco Conference in 1944, when it started, there was no international organization and Churchill would have preferred a set of bi-lateral agreements. It was Roosevelt who wanted something new and better then the League of Nations. In 1945 with the outcome, the league of Nation was declared dead and multilateralism was born. Then the Marshall plan and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development made allowance for the learning experience why the post WWI experience led to an immediate new resort to war. So – I guess – if you do not want troubles to hit your own citizens, you are wise to help the other side solve its problems also.

From here Dr. Sundaram moved to climate change and mentioned that there were two propositions – one that there be a market for carbon emissions but the Financial Times and the Economist saw immediately that it will not work, and the other – a Global Taxation – but that comes with a huge problem – the increase of the cost of energy. Both suggestions did not as such extend the solution to the need for development. His suggestion is “front loading” – that is pushing now for huge investments – expenditures. If poor countries cannot afford this it is also not good. What he sees is the creation of a Renewable Energy Infrastructure to be created by this Global Development effort.

He sees the current crisis as the chance to kill three birds in one. The current crisis was fueled with cheap credit and we have a tremendous overcapacity and thus no interest in private investment. This is the economic crisis. To get out of this through public spending, do it in one move by developing renewable energy and tackling thus all three problems in one move – the climate change issue – the development issue and the current economic problem.

When the Q&A time came I said that this panel was at the most opportune time as right these days, when the leaders of the UN recognized defeat of their attempt to bring to Copenhagen a Global agreement for all Nations to “seal,” now the talk is to save the event by creating simply a compilation of promises from the individual nations. Dr. Sundaram said that having such compilations is actually a positive element because this compilation can then be used to come up later with a clear agreement, but in this case he is not happy with the outcome – this because it will set a lower bar  to what we already had before. He elaborated about the 450 ppm and the 2 degree warming we had accepted  earlier, and that we know now that those figures are too high – we should go to 350 and 1.5 degrees instead – but we will not find these figures in the compilation and at best the older figures will be kept in the statements. Further, we have now positive changes in the governments of the US, Japan, and Australia, and it seemed possible to go for more then just this compilation. In fact, climate change in the US fell behind the attempt to have a health care program and will be delayed further because of the reorganization of financial regulation that will also get preference.

To another question – “who is the global public?” Prof. Hurrell said that there was the idea of G2 but it creates structural problems. He does not believe in top-down. he rather believes in changing elites among Nations and inside the Nations – with India, China, and Brazil, and their elites will be taken on board. If there is political redistribution it will be in the direction of the emerging powers and their elites. This might open up some normative goals in areas of change. First change will be in Western dominance. The political pressure will be of who speaks to the south? Intellectually, Institutionally, Economically – this is indeed a moment of change.

Asked about Human Rights, Prof. Pogge pointed at the fact that now the poor countries that gain from development polarize internally and this is not a solution for the population at large. The present crisis was for the rich – so there is a chance to create a more unified set of rules. The needs are a policy range of 25 years rather then the 2-3 years that politicians take now as the range of their personal goals.

He also said that Carbon Tax is more solid then the Tobin Tax. People will drive less and save energy – you can then put the money in climate change projects or help on imports. If it causes the poor to have to pay more for energy – let them pay the higher prices and return to them the money in a different way.

————

As my reporting conveys, I was enthusiastic about above UNU event, but my daily amount of good feeling ended of sorts when I discovered in that UN basement that an event in the UN basement that was billed, by an entity that calls itself NGO Sustainability, as a meeting with the Ambassador from Kazakhstan, turned out to be actually an event with old Shell Oil Co.

The speaker was Elizabeth “Libby” Cheney, Vice President – Corporate Support of Shell Exploration & Production – to those that might be inclined to ask – she said that she is not related to that other Vice President Cheney.
The star was Ambassador Mrs. Byrganym Altimova who said a few good words about her country – focusing mainly on its natural resources – and left then in her seat another gentleman from her mission. Pity that the Ambassador, a woman, did not mention that, coincidentally, the same day, another Kazakhstan woman became chair for 3 years of the Asia-Pacific Environmental Journaists’ Association hedquartered in Colombo, Sri Lanka (see our posting).

The Shell Oil presentation was well garnished with flowers – oil, gas, LNG, H2 and other renewables. The list included Natural Gas and this was explained as the bridge fuel that emits less CO2. Nothing wrong with that we also contended years ago that NG should be allowed as a bridge fuel – but we said bridge from petroleum to renewable biogas. Those days Shell Oil like all other oil companies wanted no part of this – now they do – but I still did not hear the word biogas.

Further, I heard windmills – though we learned that after they connected 450,000 homes to Wind Mill Power, they stopped increasing the business and are rethinking the project – that is because they look for newer technology. Someone from the audience suggested that the subsidies ended and the effort was because of the harvesting of the subsidies. H2 is actually under study, but luckily nuclear is not. For reasons unclear neither geothermal nor wave power or any other ocean technology is under consideration – several people gasped and asked why does a company that is specialist in drilling holes under water not look into what would come natural to them?

We were shown that the company developed a 3A – AAA – triangle that stands for: AVAILABLE, ACCESSIBLE, ACCEPTABLE – this for its building-reserves system. The other stuff is for the development of an “alternative business.”

Biofuels – read ethanol – came in as a natural she said. But my memory tells me that just 25 years ago they did not want part of ethanol in their tank – this at the time that people were saying that ethanol was the best octane enhancer to unleaded gasoline. So, thanks to the public opinion in the UK,  the mother company did actually change religion and the US daughter company was clever at grabbing the local subsidies for US corn ethanol.
Today Shell Oil has relationships with universities and the IOGEN company, to study cellulose ethanol. That subject is under study for 30 years to my knowledge but nothing serious is yet on the market – just many PhDs were obtained working on this. We sure believe that it will be done someday – but we know it will be done by an IPO working on it in high secret – then sold to the Chinese for development.

The company has also some contacts of making oil from sea algae that grow very fast – they also know with catalysis to make gasoline-like liquids directly from cellulose.

The old rigs – that is also a treasure to be used environmentally – they are now the base for rebuilding coral reefs in areas destroyed by many causes – not just oil drilling.

To who cannot guess – actually we think that Shell and BP (the other oil company with strong US presence and that is UK headquartered) are our favorites among the oil companies – so we appreciate the fact that Roma Y. Stibravy saw to it that they get a UN hearing. In fact, it was a past CEO of Royal Dutch – Shell Oil Co. that was instrumental in organizing the UN Global Compact, that under UNSG Kofi Annan was formed to bring big corporations into social and environmental  workings of the UN. Our website did follow their activities with positive interest – we even found some genuine feelings on part of the Shell group even though the effort was clearly promoted by plain Public Relations goals.

After some softballs, came also good questions from the three journalists present. Matthew Russell Lee from Inner City Press had to know what Shell did in Nigeria and drove the lady to say that she did not do it. Others wanted to know about “Peak Oil” as she was all roses about production at least to the end of the century. I felt I had to remind her that King Hubbert was the science head of Shell Oil and he was the one to invent the Peak Oil concept. He was fired, and I wanted to know if today someone would say something different from what she presented – he would be fired also? The third journalist present was from the ABC network. Present was also a group of graduate students in International Affairs from Columbia Universlty – clad in black – like future US diplomats. They also asked questions.

OK, Shell has now “Sustainability Integrators” to learn from the Niger Delta experience. Aha! people in Niger are criminals & terrorists – People in Nigeria are family to us – those are the employees of Shell. We had to shut down production. Matthew wanted to know about local opposition and was told that if it is not Shell it is the government.

Next Question – What is Shell going to do in the Polar bears area of Alaska?

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