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The China 5X8 in the news: the 88888 Beijing Olympics to start on August 8, 2008 8:08

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 2nd, 2018
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

By ANDREW RETTMAN

BRUSSELS, TODAY, 09:27

US plans to impose steel and aluminium tariffs risk prompting a wider trade war after the EU, China, and others vowed to retaliate.
“We will not sit idly while our industry is hit with unfair measures that put thousands of European jobs at risk,” European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker said on Thursday (1 March).
He said the EU would “react firmly” in “the next few days” with “countermeasures” that were compatible with World Trade Organisation rules.

He also indicated that US president Donald Trump’s “blatant … protectionism” risked doing wider harm to transatlantic relations.

“The EU has been a close security ally of the US for decades,” Juncker noted, after Trump ignored proposals by his own trade chief to exclude “friendly states” from the metals decision.

Trump said, earlier on Thursday, that steel importers would have to pay a 25 percent tariff and aluminium importers 10 percent after the measures entered into life next week.

Germany is the EU’s biggest steel exporter to the US and shipped 1.4 million tonnes there last year.

That figure is small compared to Canada and Brazil, which shipped around 5 million tonnes each to the US.

But VW Stahl, the German steel lobby, said Trump’s move threatened to flood the EU market with foreign steel when those countries diverted exports from the US.

“If the EU does not act, our steel industry will pay the bill for protectionism in the US. Europe is threatened by trade diversion by a new steel spill, in a situation where the import crisis in the EU market is far from over,” VW Stahl chief Hans Juergen Kerkhoff said, referring to global overcapacity in the sector.

With Canada, Brazil, and other steel exporters, such as China, also threatening retaliatory measures, Kerkhoff added that the risk of a broader trade war risked seeing EU exporters shut out of other markets as well.

“German supplies to other countries would also be affected, as the US measures would have imitation effects and thus an increase in global protectionism,” he said.

He spoke after Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland said “Canada will take responsive measures to defend its trade interests and workers”.

The US measures “overturn the international trade order,” Wen Xianjun, vice chairman of the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association, said, adding: “Other countries, including China, will [also] take relevant retaliatory measures.”

The Chinese reaction is expected to target US exports of soy beans as well as metals, highlighting the risk of a wider protectionist backlash around the world.

The Trump tariffs raise “risks of an all-out trade war, which could dampen economic growth,” the Australia & New Zealand Banking Group said in a note.

Trump made the announcement at a meeting with a dozen or so CEOs of US steel makers, including US Steel Corp and Arcelor Mittal, which stand to gain from his decision.

But the resulting hike in raw materials costs for US steel-using industries, such as energy companies, car makers, and the aerospace and construction sectors, which employ 80 times as many people as US steel makers, risked undoing any benefits for the American economy.

“We are urging the administration to avoid killing US jobs through a steel tariff that impacts pipelines,” said Andy Black, CEO of the Association of Oil Pipe Lines, a US pressure group.

The situation was quickly reflected on Wall Street, where shares in US steel firms rose by 7 percent on Thursday, while those in steel-users such as Ford, Caterpillar, and Boeing fell by 3 percent.

Shares in steel firms in China, Japan, and South Korea also fell on the news.

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And from The New York Times – March 2, 2018:

Major stock markets in the U.S. and Asia fell after President Trump announced stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum.
The European Union, Canada and others threatened to retaliate. The stability of the global trade system is at risk, our senior economics correspondent writes.
Mr. Trump’s announcement highlighted the dysfunction in the White House, which has not completed a legal review of the measures. The president’s chief economic adviser, who lobbied fiercely against the measures, threatened to quit.

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And from Trump’s Washington:

President Trump on March 1 announced tariffs on steel and aluminum. “Without steel and aluminum, your country is not the same,” Trump said.

President Trump on Thursday said he has decided to impose punishing tariffs on imported steel and aluminum in a major escalation of his trade offensive, disappointing Republican congressional leaders and inviting retaliation by U.S. trading partners.

Speaking at the White House, the president said he has decided on tariffs of 25 percent for foreign-made steel and 10 percent for aluminum.

“We’ll be imposing tariffs on steel imports and tariffs on aluminum imports,” the president said. “…You will have protection for the first time in a long while, and you’re going to regrow your industries.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 2nd, 2018
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


The Ultimate Blowback Universe, a Planet Boiling With Unintended Consequence.

By Tom Engelhardt in TomDispatch of 01 March 2018


The Ultimate Blowback Universe
A Planet Boiling With Unintended Consequences.

ou want to see “blowback” in action? That’s easy enough. All you need is a vague sense of how Google Search works. Then type into it phrases like “warmest years,” “rising sea levels,” “melting ice,” “lengthening wildfire season,” or “future climate refugees,” and you’ll find yourself immersed in the grimmest of blowback universes. It’s a world which should give that CIA term of tradecraft a meaning even the Agency never imagined for it.

But before I put you on this blowback planet of ours and introduce you to the blowback president presiding over it, I want to take a moment to remember Mr. Blowback himself.

And what a guy he was! Here’s how he described himself in the last piece he wrote for TomDispatch just months before his death in November 2010: “My own role these past 20 years has been that of Cassandra, whom the gods gave the gift of foreseeing the future, but also cursed because no one believed her.”

He wasn’t being immodest. He had, in many ways, seen the shape of things to come for what he never hesitated to call “the American empire,” including — in that 2010 piece — its decline. As he wrote then, “Thirty-five years from now, America’s official century of being top dog (1945-2045) will have come to an end; its time may, in fact, be running out right now. We are likely to begin to look ever more like a giant version of England at the end of its imperial run, as we come face to face with, if not necessarily to terms with, our aging infrastructure, declining international clout, and sagging economy.”

You know how — if you’re of a certain age at least — there are those moments when you go back to the books that truly mattered to you, the ones that somehow prepared you, as best anyone can be prepared, for the years to come. One I return to regularly is his. I’m talking about Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire.

The man who wrote that was Chalmers Johnson, a former CIA consultant and eminent scholar of modern Asian history, who would in that work characterize himself in his former life as a “spear-carrier for empire.”

Blowback was published in 2000 to next to no notice. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, however, it became a bestseller. There was so much to learn from it, starting with the very definition of blowback, a word he brought out of the secret world for the rest of us to consider. “The term ‘blowback,’ which officials of the Central Intelligence Agency first invented for their own internal use,” he wrote, “refers to the unintended consequences of policies that were kept secret from the American people. What the daily press reports as the malign acts of ‘terrorists’ or ‘drug lords’ or ‘rogue states’ or ‘illegal arms merchants’ often turn out to be blowback from earlier American operations.”

And if “unintended consequences” isn’t a supremely appropriate title under which to write the misbegotten history of the years that followed 9/11 in the era of the self-proclaimed “sole superpower” or, as American politicians love to say, “the indispensable nation,” what is? Of course, in the best blowback fashion, al-Qaeda’s attacks of that day hit this country like literal bolts from the blue — even the top officials of George W. Bush’s administration were stunned as they scurried for cover. Of all Americans, they at least should have been better prepared, given the warning offered to the president only weeks earlier by that blowback center of operations, the CIA. (“Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” was the title of the presidential daily brief of August 6, 2001.)

Osama bin Laden would prove to be the poster boy of blowback. His organization, al-Qaeda, would be nurtured into existence by an all-American urge to give the Soviet Union its own Vietnam, what its leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, would later call its “bleeding wound,” and to do so in, of all places, Afghanistan. In October 2001, 12 years after the Red Army limped out of that country in defeat and a decade after the Soviet Union imploded, in part thanks to that very wound, Washington would launch a “Global War on Terror.” It would be the Bush administration’s response to al-Qaeda’s supposedly inexplicable attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. The Taliban’s Afghanistan would be its first target and so would begin America’s second Afghan War, a conflict now almost 17 years old with no end in sight. Yet in our American world, remarkably few connections are ever made between the present war and that blowback moment against the Soviets nearly 40 years ago. (Were he alive, Chalmers Johnson, who never ceased to make such connections, would have been grimly amused.)

Giving Imperial Overstretch New Meaning

Talk about the endless ramifications of blowback. It was bin Laden’s genius — for a mere $400,000 to $500,000 — to goad Washington into spending trillions of dollars across significant parts of the Islamic world fighting conflict after conflict, all of which only seemed to create yet more rubble, terror outfits, and refugees (who, in turn, have helped fuel yet more right-wing populist movements from Europe to Donald Trump’s America). Tell me it’s not a blowback world!

As it happened, bin Laden’s 2001 attacks brought official Washington not to its knees but to its deepest post-Cold War conviction: that the world was its oyster; that, for the first time in history, a single great power potentially had it all, a shot at everything, starting with Afghanistan, followed by Iraq, then much of the rest of the Middle East, and sooner or later the whole planet. In a post-Soviet world in which America’s leaders felt the deepest sense of triumphalism, the 9/11 attacks seemed like the ultimate insult. Who would dream of doing such a thing to the greatest power of all of time?

In an act of pure wizardry, bin Laden drew out of Bush, Cheney, and company their deepest geopolitical fantasies about the ability of that all-powerful country and, in particular, “the greatest force for freedom in the history of the world,” the U.S. military, to dominate any situation on Earth. The early months of 2003, when they were preparing to invade Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, may have been their ultimate hubristic moment, in which imagining anything other than success of a historic sort, not just in that country but far beyond it, was inconceivable.

Until then, never — except in Hollywood movies when the bad guy rubbed his hands with glee and cackled that the world was his — had any power truly dreamed of taking it all, of ruling, or at least directing, the planet itself. Even for a globalizing great power without rivals and wealthy almost beyond compare that would prove the ultimate in conceptual overstretch. Looking back, it’s easy enough to see that almost 17 years of ceaseless war and conflict across the Greater Middle East, Africa, and even parts of Asia, of massive destruction, of multiplying failed states, of burgeoning terror outfits, and of blowback of every sort, have given the old phrase, “biting off more than you can chew,” new geopolitical meaning.

Washington created what was, in effect, a never-ending blowback machine. In those years, while the distant wars went on and on (and terrors of every imaginable sort grew in this country), the United States was transformed in a remarkable, if not yet fully graspable, fashion. The national security state now reigns supreme in Washington; generals (or retired generals) are perched (however precariously) atop key parts of the civilian government; a right-wing populist, who rose to power in part on the fear of immigrants, refugees, and Islamic extremists, has his giant golden letters emblazoned on the White House (and a hotel just down Pennsylvania Avenue that no diplomat or lobbyist with any sense would dare not patronize); the police have been militarized; borders have been further fortified; spy drones have been dispatched to American skies; and the surveillance of the citizenry and its communications have been made the order of the day. Meanwhile, the latest disturbed teen, armed with a military-style AR-15 semi-automatic, has just perpetrated another in a growing list of slaughters in American schools. In response, the president, Republican politicians, and the National Rifle Association have all plugged the arming of teachers and administrators, as well as the “hardening” of schools (including the use of surveillance systems and other militarized methods of “defense”), and so have given phrases like “citadel of learning” or “bastion of education” new meaning. In these same years, various unnamed terrors and the weaponization of the most psychically distraught parts of the citizenry under the rubric of the Second Amendment and the sponsorship of the NRA, the Republican Party, and most recently Donald Trump have transformed this country into something like an armed camp.

It seems, in other words, that in setting out to take the world, in some surprising fashion this country both terrorized and conquered itself. For that, Osama bin Laden should certainly be congratulated but so should George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and all their neoconservative pals, not to speak of David Petraeus, James Mattis, John Kelly, H.R. McMaster, and a host of other generals of America’s losing wars.

Think of it this way: at what looked like the height of American power, Washington managed to give imperial overstretch a historically new meaning. Even on a planet without other great power rivals, a Pax Americana in the Greater Middle East, no less the full-scale garrisoning and policing of significant parts of the rest of the globe proved far too much for the sole superpower, no matter how technologically advanced its military or powerful and transnational its economy. As it turned out, that urge to take everything would prove the perfect launching pad for this country’s decline.

Someday (if there is such a day), this record will prove a goldmine for historians of imperial power and blowback. And yet all of this, even the fate of this country, should be considered relatively minor matters, given the ultimate blowback to come.

Humanity Nailed to a Cross of Coal

There was, in fact, another kind of blowback underway and the American empire was clearly a player in it, too, even a major one, but hardly the only one. Every place using fossil fuels was involved. This form of blowback threatens not just the decline of a single great imperial power but of humanity itself, of the very environment that nurtured generation after generation of us over these thousands of years. By definition, that makes it the worst form of blowback imaginable.

What I have in mind, of course, is climate change or global warming. In a way, you could think of it as the story of another kind of superpower and how it launched the decline of us all. On a planetary scale, the giant corporations (and national fuel companies) that make up global Big Energy have long been on the hunt for every imaginable reserve of fossil fuels and for ways to control and exploit them. The oil, natural gas, and coal such outfits extracted fueled industrial society, still-spreading car cultures, and consumerism as we know it.

Over most of the years such companies were powering human development, the men who ran them and their employees had no idea that the greenhouse gasses released by the burning of fossil fuels were heating the atmosphere and the planet’s waters in potentially disastrous ways. By the late 1970s and early 1980s, however, like scientists elsewhere, those employed by ExxonMobil, the world’s largest oil company, had become aware of the phenomenon (as would those of other energy companies). That meant the men who ran Exxon and other major firms recognized in advance of most of the rest of us just what kind of blowback the long-term burning of oil, natural gas, and coal was going to deliver: a planet ever less fit for human habitation.

They just didn’t think those of us in the non-scientific community should know about it and so, by the 1990s, they were already doing their damnedest to hide it from us. However, when scientists not in their employ started to publicize the new reality in a significant way, as the heads of some of the most influential and wealthiest corporations on Earth they began to invest striking sums in the fostering of a universe of think tanks, lobbyists, and politicians devoted to what became known as climate-change denial. Between 1998 and 2014, for instance, Exxon would pump $30 million into just such think tanks and similar groups, while donating $1.87 million directly to congressional climate-change deniers.

It doesn’t take a lot of thought to realize that, from its inception, this was the functional definition of the worst crime in history. In the name of record profits and the comfortable life (as well as corporate sustainability in an unendingly fossil-fuelized world), their CEOs had no hesitation about potentially dooming the human future to a hell on Earth of rising temperatures, rising sea levels, and ever more extreme weather; they gave, that is, a new, all-encompassing meaning to the term genocide. They were prepared, if necessary, to take out the human species.

But I suspect even they couldn’t have imagined quite how successful they would be when it came to bringing the sole superpower of the post-9/11 world on board. In a sense, the two leading forms of blowback of the twenty-first century — the imperial and fossil-fuelized ones — came to be focused in a single figure. After all, it’s hard to imagine the rise to power of Donald Trump in a world in which the Bush administration had decided not to invade either Afghanistan or Iraq but to treat its “Global War on Terror” as a localized set of police actions against one international criminal and his scattered group of followers.

As it happened, one form of blowback from the disastrous wars that were meant to create the basis for a Pax Americana planet helped to produce the conditions and fears at home that put Donald Trump in the White House.

Or put another way, in the face of the evidence produced by essentially every knowledgeable scientist on Earth, on a planet already feeling the early and increasingly extreme results of a warming atmosphere, millions of Americans elected a man who claimed it was all a “hoax,” who was unabashedly dedicated above anything else (except perhaps his “big, fat, beautiful wall” on the Mexican border) to a fossil-fuelized American planet, and who insisted that he would run an administration that would make this country “energy dominant” again. They elected, in other words, a representative of the very set of lobbyists, climate deniers, and politicians who had, in essence, been created by Big Energy. Or put another way, they voted for a man who pledged to bring back the dying American coal industry and was prepared to green-light oil and natural gas pipelines of whatever sort, open the nation’s coastal waters to drilling, and lift restrictions of every kind on energy companies, while impeding the development of alternative sources of energy and other attempts to mitigate climate change. As the ultimate President Blowback, Donald Trump promptly filled every last faintly relevant post in his administration with climate-change deniers and allies of Big Energy, while abandoning the Paris climate accord.

In other words, President Donald Trump has dedicated himself to nailing humanity to a cross of coal.

Where’s Chalmers Johnson now that we really need him?

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He is a fellow of the Nation Institute and runs TomDispatch.com. His latest book is Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World. His next book, A Nation Unmade by War (Dispatch Books), will be published in May.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power, as well as John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

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[Note for TomDispatch readers: Just another of my small reminders as 2018 becomes the year from hell. At our donation page, you can, as ever, find a set of outstanding books on that very hell ready to be signed and personalized in return for a donation of at least $100 to this website ($125 if you live outside the United States). Among them are historian Alfred McCoy’s hit Dispatch Book, In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power; John Feffer’s dystopian thriller, Splinterlands; Rebecca Gordon’s American Nuremberg; and my own Shadow Government. Check out our donation page for the details and keep in mind that this website relies on your never-ending generosity to stay afloat in rough seas.

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Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He is a fellow of the Nation Institute and runs TomDispatch.com. His latest book is Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World. His next book, A Nation Unmade by War (Dispatch Books), will be published in May.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power, as well as John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 3rd, 2018
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From Alexander Zahar,
Wuhan University, Research Institute on Environmental Law.
January 29, 2018

Dear Colleagues,

The Research Institute of Environmental Law at Wuhan University’s School of Law is pleased to announce a one-day Writers’ Workshop to be held at Wuhan University, China, in mid-September 2018. Please see the attachment for details.

I also take this opportunity to encourage graduating LLM/Master’s students interested in environmental law to apply for the fully-funded PhD positions at the Institute (a total of six in 2018). The closing date for these is March 2018.

Please email me at the earliest about your interest in the Writers’ Workshop or for more information on the PhD scholarships.

Alexander Zahar
Luojia Distinguished Professor and Assistant Director
Research Institute of Environmental Law
Wuhan University, China
Email: zahar.edu@gmail.com

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

CLIMATE – THE NEW YORK TIMES


• “The cost of electric cars is falling much faster than expected, based in part on a plunge in battery prices and aggressive policies in China and Europe.”


When Will Electric Cars Go Mainstream? It May Be Sooner Than You Think.

By BRAD PLUMER, JULY 8, 2017

The Photo: A Volkswagen e-Golf electric car being charged in Dresden, Germany, in March.

Volkswagen and Tesla each have plans to produce more than 1 million electric vehicles per year by 2025. Credit Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters


As the world’s automakers place larger bets on electric vehicle technology, many industry analysts are debating a key question: How quickly can plug-in cars become mainstream?

The conventional view holds that electric cars will remain a niche product for many years, plagued by high sticker prices and heavily dependent on government subsidies.

But a growing number of analysts now argue that this pessimism is becoming outdated. A new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a research group, suggests that the price of plug-in cars is falling much faster than expected, spurred by cheaper batteries and aggressive policies promoting zero-emission vehicles in China and Europe.

Between 2025 and 2030, the group predicts, plug-in vehicles will become cost competitive with traditional petroleum-powered cars, even without subsidies and even before taking fuel savings into account. Once that happens, mass adoption should quickly follow.

“Our forecast doesn’t hinge on countries adopting stringent new fuel standards or climate policies,” said Colin McKerracher, the head of advanced transport analysis at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “It’s an economic analysis, looking at what happens when the upfront cost of electric vehicles reaches parity. That’s when the real shift occurs.”

If that prediction pans out, it will have enormous consequences for the auto industry, oil markets and the world’s efforts to slow global warming.

A Boost From Batteries

Last year, plug-in vehicles made up less than 1 percent of new passenger vehicle sales worldwide, held back by high upfront costs. The Chevrolet Bolt, produced by General Motors, sells for about $37,500 before federal tax breaks. With gasoline prices hovering around $2 per gallon, relatively few consumers seem interested.

But there are signs of a shift. Tesla and Volkswagen each have plans to produce more than a million electric vehicles per year by 2025. On Wednesday, Volvo announced that it would phase out the traditional combustion engine and that all of its new models starting in 2019 would be either hybrids or entirely battery-powered.

Skeptics argue that these moves are mostly marginal. Exxon Mobil, which is studying the threat that electric cars could pose to its business model, still expects that plug-in vehicle sales will grow slowly, to just 10 percent of new sales in the United States by 2040, with little impact on global oil use. The federal Energy Information Administration projects a similarly sluggish uptick.

The Bloomberg forecast is far more aggressive, projecting that plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles will make up 54 percent of new light-duty sales globally by 2040, outselling their combustion engine counterparts.

The reason? Batteries. Since 2010, the average cost of lithium-ion battery packs has plunged by two-thirds, to around $300 per kilowatt-hour. The Bloomberg report sees that falling to $73 by 2030, without any significant technological breakthroughs, as companies like Tesla increase battery production in massive factories, optimize the design of battery packs and improve chemistries.

For the next decade, the report notes, electric cars will remain reliant on government incentives and sales mandates in places like Europe, China and California. But as automakers introduce a greater variety of models and lower costs, electric cars will reach a point where they can stand on their own.

Still, this outcome is hardly guaranteed. Governments could scale back their incentives before plug-in vehicles become fully competitive — many states are already beginning to tax electric cars. Battery manufacturers could face material shortages or production problems that hinder their ability to slash costs. And an unforeseen technology failure, such as widespread battery fires, could halt progress.

“But we tried to be fairly conservative in our estimate of where battery prices are going,” Mr. McKerracher said, “and we don’t see barriers to electric vehicles’ becoming cost competitive very soon.”

Other experts caution that falling battery costs are not the only factor in determining whether electric cars become widespread. Sam Ori, the executive director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, noted, “People don’t buy cars based solely on the price tag.”

Consumers may remain wary of vehicles with limited range that can take hours to charge. Even though researchers have shown that battery-electric vehicles have sufficient range for many people’s daily commuting habits, consumer psychology is still difficult to predict. The report does not, for instance, expect electric vehicles to catch on widely in the pickup-truck market.

Charging infrastructure is another potential barrier. Although cities are starting to build thousands of public charging stations — and Tesla is working on reducing the time it takes to power a depleted battery — it still takes longer to charge an electric vehicle than it does to refuel a conventional car at the pump.

Many owners charge their cars overnight in their garages, but that is much harder for people living in cities who park their cars on the street.

As a result, the Bloomberg report warns that plug-in vehicles may have a difficult time making inroads in dense urban areas and that infrastructure bottlenecks may slow the growth of electric vehicles after 2040.

Another potential hurdle may be the automakers themselves. While most manufacturers are introducing plug-in models in the United States to comply with stricter fuel-economy standards, they do not always market them aggressively, said Chelsea Sexton, an auto industry consultant who worked on General Motors’ electric vehicle program in the 1990s.

Car dealerships also remain reluctant to display and sell electric models, which often require less maintenance and are less profitable for their service departments. Surveys have found that salespeople are often unprepared to pitch the cars.

“We’ve seen a lot of announcements about electric vehicles, but that doesn’t matter much if automakers are just building these cars for compliance and are unenthusiastic about actually marketing them,” Ms. Sexton said.

Raw economics may help overcome such barriers, Mr. McKerracher said. He pointed to Norway, where heavy taxes on petroleum-powered vehicles and generous subsidies for electric vehicles have created price parity between the two. As a result, plug-in hybrids and fully electric cars in Norway now make up 37 percent of all new sales, up from 6 percent in 2013.

Fighting Climate Change

If Bloomberg’s forecast proves correct, it could have sweeping implications for oil markets. The report projects that a sharp rise in electric vehicles would displace eight million barrels of transportation fuel each day. (The world currently consumes around 98 million barrels per day.)

A number of oil companies are now grappling with the prospect of an eventual peak in global demand, with billions of dollars in investments at stake in getting the timing right.

Mass adoption of electric cars could also prove a key strategy in fighting climate change — provided the vehicles are increasingly powered by low-carbon electricity rather than coal. The International Energy Agency has estimated that electric vehicles would have to account for at least 40 percent of passenger vehicle sales by 2040 for the world to have a chance of meeting the climate goals outlined in the Paris agreement, keeping total global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

Yet the Bloomberg report also shows how much further countries would need to go to cut transportation emissions.

Even with a sharp rise in electric vehicles, the world would still have more traditional petroleum-powered passenger vehicles on the road in 2040 than it does today, and it will take many years to retire existing fleets. And other modes of transportation, like heavy-duty trucking and aviation, will remain stubbornly difficult to electrify without drastic advances in battery technology.

Which means it is still too soon to write an obituary for the internal combustion engine.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 4th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


The world looks past Donald Trump

By Stephen Collinson, CNN, Tuesday July 4, 2017

(CNN) Foreign policy, increasingly, is what is happening around the world while the United States is making other plans.

More than five months into Donald Trump’s presidency, American adversaries and allies alike are adjusting to a new era in which Washington seeks its own idiosyncratic and unpredictable “America First” path.

In Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, governments are assessing shifting US priorities and in some cases seeking alternative sources of leadership and partnership in the belief that America has stepped back.

Trump’s unpopularity abroad is forcing leaders to consider their own political positions, before getting too close to the American President — even if they seek to preserve Washington’s still vital global role as the guarantor of liberal market economics and democracy.

That dynamic will be on display during Trump’s second visit to Europe this week, just weeks after his first transcontinental trip opened new gaps between Washington and some longtime allies.

Trump starts in Poland, which is hoping for his strongest affirmation yet of NATO security guarantees. Then he will head to the G20 summit in Germany, where he may confront hostility deepened by his decision to exit the Paris climate accord.

The Trump administration refutes the notion that it has downgraded American leadership, arguing that Trump’s foreign trips, flurry of meetings and frequent calls with foreign presidents and prime ministers shows intense engagement.

But increasingly, top foreign policymakers from Germany to Iraq and Canada to Asia are contemplating a period when US leadership that many took for granted may be less evident in global affairs, after Trump turned his back on multilateral trade deals and downplayed multinational institutions and agreements.

“Whoever believes the problems of this world can be solved by isolationism and protectionism is making a tremendous error,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told parliament last week, in a clear shot across Trump’s bow.

It was not the first time the German leader, running for a fourth term in September’s election, had rebuked the President.

After Trump visited Europe in May, and declined to reaffirm NATO’s Article 5 principle of mutual self defense during a visit to the Western alliance headquarters, Merkel said US allies needed to rethink their place in the world.

“We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands,” she said.

Canada, America’s closest geographical ally, is also watching.

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland profoundly thanked the United States for being “truly the indispensable nation” that had ensured 70 years of peace and prosperity in a speech to parliament last month.

But she acknowledged that halcyon period was ending.
“The fact that our friend and ally has come to question the very worth of its mantle of global leadership, puts into sharper focus the need for the rest of us to set our own clear and sovereign course,” Freeland said.

“For Canada that course must be the renewal, indeed the strengthening, of the postwar multilateral order.”

It is not just America’s most traditional allies that sense that America is pulling back from the world, amid a perception that diplomacy has been de-emphasized and the State Department downgraded in a Trump administration more respectful of military leadership.

Iraqi Vice President Ayad Allawi told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour last week that the United States was “absent” in maintaining global security and that there was a “vacuum in the overall leadership in the world.”

“The Americans need to … get back to their role as an international power, an important international power.” Allawi said.

Despite an impending victory over ISIS by Iraqi forces in western Mosul, with US support, Allawi argued that Washington lacked “clear cut policies” for tackling extremism and a future strategy for the Middle East.

Some American competitors see an opening.

At the Global Economic Forum in Davos, a few days before Trump was inaugurated, China’s President Xi Jinping, offered a vision of a world turned on its head when he offered his own nation as a guardian of free trade, globalization and efforts to combat climate change — areas where the United States had formerly taken the leadership role.

“Whether you like it or not, the global economy is the big ocean you cannot escape from,” Xi told delegates at the Swiss mountain resort.


‘America First’ or ‘America alone?’

Over the last few days, Trump has spoken to leaders of US allies in the Gulf, amid a showdown over terrorist financing that has led to the isolation of Qatar, and has also had conversations with counterparts in Germany and Italy.

In contrast to the way Trump’s first trip to Europe was seen across the Atlantic, national security adviser H.R. McMaster argued that the President had reinvigorated US alliances which Republicans believed eroded under the Obama administration.

“America First … does not mean America alone. President Trump has demonstrated a commitment to American alliances because strong alliances further American security and American interests,” McMaster told reporters last week.

While much of America’s future foreign policy course remains uncertain to foreign states, Washington has made some clear moves.

It significantly stiffened resistance to Iran in the Middle East, a reorientation that was the underlying theme of Trump’s first stops in Saudi Arabia and Israel.

But at the same time, there is no real clarity on the Trump administration’s strategy on Syria following the apparently imminent eradication of ISIS strongholds. Iran envisages a future Shiite crescent of influence, that would stretch from Tehran through Iraq, Syria and into Lebanon, backed by Russia, and would change the balance of power in the region.
It is unclear how actively the Trump administration plans to resist such a scenario, in concert with allies like Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Egypt and Jordan.

In Afghanistan, the Pentagon dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb on ISIS targets and plans to use its new autonomy under Trump to send more troops to train and assist Afghan soldiers.
But the administration has yet to lay out a detailed vision of how it sees Afghanistan’s future or long-term US war aims.

In Asia, Trump dropped his hostility toward China in an effort to convince Beijing to do more to rein in its volatile ally North Korea amid a nuclear and missile crisis. But he now seems to have concluded the effort failed, and imposed sanctions against a Chinese bank with links to the pariah state, and approved a $1.4 billion arms package to Taiwan, heightening tensions with Beijing.
But Trump, despite saber rattling, has yet to explain to Americans any new approaches on how he will thwart Pyongyang’s bid to put a nuclear warhead onto a weapon that could reach the US mainland.

It’s not just uncertainty about American global strategy that is convincing some allied leaders to look past the United States.
Trump’s unpopularity makes it much more difficult for them politically to support him. The recent Pew Global Attitudes poll showed Trump with rock bottom approval ratings across the world. Only in Russia and Israel did more people trust him to do the right thing than former President Barack Obama.

The former President, meanwhile, has stayed mostly out of the limelight. But Monday, Obama couldn’t resist during a Seoul conference organized by South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo media group, saying the Paris climate accord won’t vanish despite the “temporary absence” of American leadership.
“The Paris agreement,” Obama said, “even with the temporary absence of US leadership, will still be a critical factor in helping our children solve the enormous challenge in civilization.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 31st, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


What’s Behind China’s Antarctic Ambitions?

From Fareed Zakaria’s Global Briefing for May 31, 2017

Driven by a combination of strategic expediency and a desire to secure access to much-needed resources, China has gone from small-time player to the big league in Antarctica, suggests Anne-Marie Brady in the Lowy Interpreter.

“China doesn’t have a formal claim over Antarctic territory (and the Antarctic Treaty forbids any new claims) but it has steadily extended its presence over a triangle-shaped area in East Antarctica. Three of China’s Antarctic bases, three of its air fields, and its two field camps are in this sector; which is within the existing Antarctic territorial claim of Australia. Through its advanced logistics capabilities, China is able to project its power and continually maintain its presence in this zone, something Australia, with its much more limited Antarctic capacity cannot do,” Brady argues.


“China’s focus on becoming a polar great power represents a fundamental re-orientation; a completely new way of imagining the world.
The polar regions, the deep seabed, and outer space are the new strategic territories where China will draw the resources to become a global power.”

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

Friday, May 12, 2017 ,The Manhattan Greentech Investors Forum, led by Dr. Gelvin Srevenson, and hosted by Sidney Austin LLP, met to listen to the presentation of Dr. James Magnuss Who described the use of “Vertically-variable Ocean Sail Systems” (VOSS) Sails that do not look at all like those conventionally used in wind powered sail-ships.

Present were gentlemen from Africa who seem to have an in with Chinese interests that pay
attention to innovative ideas.

The Magnuss VOSS is a 100-foot rotating and spinning metal hollow-tower, when not in use – retractable into the ship’s hull. This tower is draped in material in a way that the spinning movement creates thrust like in the case of an airplane.

These VOSS power sources are not intended to replace the original engine – but rather to add on to what powers the ship. A ship with four VOSS towers has thus an effective added powering engine added up to its original engine.

The chief innovation here is in the retractable feature for stowing the towers below the deck
when loadig and unloading in a port.

Magnuss delivers three benefits:

(1) fuel savings of 20-35%
(2) a new means to reduce carbon emissions
(3) a patented and class-approved design of proven technology applied in a different way to
meet the needs of global shipping today.

He reminded us that fuel cost represents 60-80% of a bulk cargo ship’s operating costs and ranks among the world’s largest emitters of carbon. Considering the need to have hull space for the retractable towers VOSS sails fit best onto bulk shipping.

Currently James Magnusis looking to close a $2.7 million angel round of common equity – he offers strategic partnership and international patent expansion.

Proof of concept was verified, patents issued, tech design complete, and class approval is already in hand.

The savings have been validated by 3rd party NGOs, including Sir Richard Branson’s Carbon
War-Room and the Sustainable shipping initiative.

The Funds needed now are for proceeding with new construction projects.

If bulk transport emissions were added up globally, we heard that they would have
reached 6th place if this industry were a nation – so making a dent here is consequential.

With Dr. Magnus as CEO of the company, others involved are:

Ted Shergolis as COO – a Tech Entrepreneur
Eric Holohan as CTO – a Naval Architect
Alistair Fischbacher – Chairman ofSustainable Shipping Industries (SSI) who is the
Former General Manager of the Rio Tinto Fleet.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 27th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The population in Taiwan is approximately 23.4 million, spread unevenly across a total land area of about 36,000 km2; it is the seventeenth most densely populated country in the world with a population density of about 650 inhabitants per square kilometer.

The original population of the island of Taiwan and its associated islands, i.e. not including Kinmen and the Matsu Islands, consisted of Taiwanese aborigines, speaking Austronesian languages and sharing mitochondrial DNA contribution with island peoples of Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

Immigration of Han Chinese to the Penghu islands started as early as the 13th century, while settlement of the main island occurred from the 16th century, stimulated by the import of workers from Fujian by the Dutch in the 17th century. According to governmental statistics, over 95% of the Republic of China’s population is now made up of Han Chinese, while 2.3% are Taiwanese aborigines. Half the population are followers of one or a mixture of 25 recognized religions. Around 93% of the religious population are followers of a mixture of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism, while a minority 4.5% are followers of Christianity.

During the 20th century the population of Taiwan rose more than sevenfold, from about 3 million in 1905 to more than 22 million by 2001. This high growth was caused by a combination of factors, very high fertility rates up to the 1960s, and low mortality rates, and a surge in population as the Chinese Civil War ended, and the Kuomintang (KMT) forces retreated, bringing an influx of 1.2 to 2 million soldiers and civilians to Taiwan in 1948–1949.

——–

Above was a long way of explaining that mainland Han Chinese have colonized the Taiwan Island and brutally eliminated the Indigenous Peoples. The remaining Indigenous Peoples of the island live in the mountains in rather small communities that include also 30 townships.
Taking the population of Taiwan as 23 million with about 2.3% of them Indigenous this gives
as a raw number 530,000 Indigenous People that are not uniform culturally or language wise –
so the Taiwanese government was struggling with the idea of defining how many different groupings there are. These are figures for 2016.

In effect already on August 1, 1994, the term “SHANBAO” or Mountain People was dropped from
the Taiwan Constitution in favor of “INDIGENOUS PEOPLE” – a stepto correct the fact that they were not allowed self government.

Then, following the establishment of UNDRIP – the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, IPBR – the Individual Peoples Bill of Rights, on August 1, 2016 – at the 22nd anniversary of the 1994 first step – that was a recognition of the rights of the individual, President Ms. Tsai Ing-wen, “on behalf of the government” expressed the deepest “apology for 400 years of pain and Mistreatment” they have endured. This was a recognition of the peoplehood and soon thereafter it became known in December 12, 2016, that Taiwan recognizes 16 PEOPLES – a decision with implications in the use of natural resources and the distribution of funds thereof – according to traditional customs, and ecological

It also said – “Indigenous peoples” and since December that number of cultural and linguistic
entities is 16 – recognizing thus 16 Peoples with their rights to self government and the right to decide by themselves who belongs to their PEOPLE (Nation?).

THIS IS THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES BASIC LAW OF TAIWAN. These Indigenous Peoples have a guaranteed 9 seats in the TAIWAN legislature and appoint the 30 mayors of the townships mentioned earlier.

It is this recognition of minorities, that in our opinion will allow for backing of Taiwan
in its difficult position versus China.

Globally, there are 5000 languages when talking about he Indigenous as per Prof. Elsa Stamatopoulou who was part of the UN office that promoted the subject in the UN treadmill.

She also mentioned that the subject was brought up already in the League of Nations in 1923.

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

China. Serve the People.

25.4.2017, 19 – 21 Uhr, Oesterreichische Kontrollbank (Reitersaal), Strauchgasse 3, 1010 Wien, Anmeldung bei:  neuwirth at vidc.org oder  bertrams at vidc.org


China. Serve the People.

Background:

The economic rise of China was impressive. Within three decades, approximately 350 million people escaped from extreme poverty. Some commentators predicted China’s rise to an economic and world power and hoped that this will bring less hierarchical global economic relationships, amongst other things due to China’s importance as an emerging donor in international development cooperation. In 2013, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China decided to stimulate domestic demand and be less dependent on exports. On several occasions, the Central Committee announced its intention to promote a socially balanced economic development.

It appears that these expectations have not been met, at least for now. Economic growth has come down and domestic demand is still slow. Environmental problems and the inequality between regions and social groups have increased enormously. Poor working conditions for factory workers in the export processing zones and violations of basic rights dominate media reports on China.

What are the reasons for the stagnant growth and will China implement the announced structural reforms? What is the role of foreign investment, what are the effects of the country’s economic relations with the US? What is the social, economic and political impact of labor migration and the ongoing struggles for higher wages, safety measures and social benefits?


Ho-fung Hung and Chun-Yi Lee will analyze the current developments in China against the backdrop of closely interlinked capital and labor relations. They will also look at China’s political and economic actors and their interests.

Ho-fung Hung

is Associate Professor in Political Economy at the Sociology Department at Johns Hopkins University. His research interests lie in economic history and global political economic analyses, focusing on China’s economic development. His analyses are published regularly in academic journals and are featured in the media. Selected publications: The China Boom: Why China Will Not Rule the World (2015) and Protest with Chinese Characteristics: Demonstrations, Riots, and Petitions in the Mid-Qing Dynasty (2011), both published by Columbia University Press.

Chun-Yi Lee

lectures at the School of Politics and International Relations (SPIR) at the University of Nottingham. Her research focuses on multinational investment strategies in China and Chinese investments abroad, labor rights and industrial relations. In her recent research project she investigated Chinese labor in the global economy and the influence of foreign direct investment on workers’ rights. Her book, Taiwanese Businessmen or Chinese Security Asset was published by Routledge in 2011.

Karin Fischer

is the head of the Politics and Development Research Department at the Institute of Sociology at Linz University as well as a consultant to the VIDC. She is the chairwoman of the Mattersburg Circle for Development Studies at Austrian Universities.

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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 28th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Insights, analysis and must reads from CNN’s Fareed Zakaria and the Global Public Square team, compiled by Global Briefing editor Jason Miks.

March 28, 2017

Trump’s Legacy: “Make China Great Again”?

The “slash-and-burn” approach of President Trump’s executive order on climate rules not only makes “one of humanity’s greatest ever challenges more difficult,” suggests Damian Carrington in The Guardian. It also leaves the door wide open for Beijing to assume America’s global leadership role.

China “is now taking dramatic action to cut emissions, pushed by the foul air many of its citizens suffer and pulled by the likelihood of the low-carbon economy being the greatest growth story of the 21st century,” he says.

“[G]iven the issue’s critical importance for all nations and their unprecedented cooperation to date, it might just signal the end of the U.S.’s dominance as the world’s preeminent political and economic power, with others taking up the mantle. Trump’s campaign pledge was ‘Make America great again’ – his legacy could be ‘Made China great again.’”

—————————————————-


China’s Been Busy on Mischief: Report

China has almost completed major construction of “military and dual-use infrastructure” on three reefs in disputed waters in the South China Sea, according to a new report from the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative think tank, based on satellite images. “Beijing can now deploy military assets, including combat aircraft and mobile missile launchers, to the Spratly Islands at any time,” the report says.

Beijing, though, would dispute the disputed label, CNN reports. “Whether we decide to deploy or not deploy relevant military equipment, it is within our scope of sovereignty. It’s our right to self-defense and self-preservation as recognized by international law,” a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman is quoted as saying.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 12th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


The Irith Jawetz report on Fareed Zakaria’s Global Public Square at CNN International show
of March 12, 2017.


First, Fareed spoke with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
Was there any collaboration or serious communication between the Russian government and Donald Trump’s campaign last year? What does Russia think of claims that Moscow tried to alter the outcome of the U.S. presidential election? What does Vladimir Putin make of the first several weeks of the Trump administration? Fareed poses these questions and more to the longtime Kremlin aide.

Peskov denied any interfering in the US elections and any collaboration. Russia is being demonized, Russia has become a nightmare for the U.S. and the US is humiliating itself in the world.

It is impossible for a foreign country to interfere in an election process and Russia would not do it to any country, as it would not accept any country interfering in Russian elections.

What did all Trump’s people talk to the Russian Ambassador? It’s very common for an Ambassador to meet with the Administration people of the country they serve in to get a better understanding. They spoke about bilateral relations, trade, but definitely not about the election process.

President Putin always said he will respect whoever the American chose for President. Yes, he did like Trump’s approach better than Hillary Clinton’s since she had a very negative view of Russia and Trump said that although we have differences we have to talk to each other. However Putin would never interfere with the elections.

When will they meet? Not sure yet, if it does not happen before the Summer, then they will definitely meet at the next G20 meeting in Hamburg beginning of July.

What does President Putin think of President Trump: Too early to tell, but what he saw until now he thinks he is very pragmatic. We have to work together since there are so many problems in the world.

Will President Putin raise the question of the sanctions? No, since the US imposed those sanctions, Russia will not be the first to open discussions, it is up to the US to start.

What kind of a person is Putin? Putin is different than most politicians. He means what he says, he will never say more than he will be able to do. That’s why he is trustworthy, and has been in power for 17 years.

———————————

Then, Fareed spoke with Stephen Schwarzman, chair of the White House’s business advisory council and co-founder of private equity firm Blackstone. Fareed asks how Schwarzman got chosen for his role, whether he believes President Trump is open to criticism, whether there could be a U.S.-China trade war, and what could happen to GDP growth under a Trump administration.

He knows Trump for many years and when asked him to join his Administration he said no, but agreed to be his economic advisor. Trump asked him to form a group of businessmen whom he trusts and to lead that group and they have been advising Trump.

He said that 60% of Americans have not seen increase in disposable income for many years and are frustrated. The GDP will grow, the stock market has already been up 12-13% which is a good sign..

China: on Trade – US wants equivalence – fair trade – and China is accountable for half of the US Trade deficit. However, China wants a long term relationship with the U.S. but it has to be fair. As for Trump’s relations with China: “Some of Trump’s hyperbole on China will be dialed back” ( in his words). All in all Mr. Schwazmamn seemed very optimistic.

————————————


The last segment was a question: Which countries are the only ones that have a favorable view of President Trump?
1) Russia with 83% and
2) China with 54%.

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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 7th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From FAREED ZAKARIA’S Daily Briefing for Tuesday March 7, 2017


“Eurodeterrent” is Going Mainstream

Some European officials are mulling something that until recently had seemed unthinkable – a European Union nuclear weapons program, writes Max Fisher in the New York Times.

“Analysts say that the talk, even if it never translates into action, demonstrates the growing sense in Europe that drastic steps may be necessary to protect the postwar order in the era of a Trump presidency, a resurgent Russia and the possibility of an alignment between the two,” Fisher writes. “Even proponents, who remain a minority, acknowledge enormous hurdles. But discussion of a so-called ‘Eurodeterrent’ has entered the mainstream…”

“Mist of Fear” in Turkey
Opposition voices in Turkey should be given the same kind of support that the West offered dissidents speaking up in the Soviet Union, suggests Timothy Garton Ash in The Guardian.

“To travel to Turkey today is to journey into darkness: tens of thousands of state employees and thousands of academics dismissed, more journalists locked up than in any other country, and a chilly mist of fear.”


China Eyeing Up America’s Backyard?

China is poised to step into the void being left by the Trump administration in America’s own backyard, writes Kevin Gallagher in Foreign Policy.

Latin American nations “are understandably wary of negotiating anything with a government that has denigrated them and called their citizens ‘bad hombres’ and worse,” Gallagher writes. “Enter China, which just days after the election released a new white paper calling Latin America and the Caribbean a ‘land of vitality and hope.’ The plan promises to implement earlier pledges of trade and investment, but without the U.S.-strings attached in terms of deregulation and name-calling.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 5th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

As reported by Irith Jawetz from Vienna:


Fareed’s Take: He tackled the 54 billions Trump wants to spend on additional Military. He quoted General Petraeus who told him a few years ago that during the Gulf war he wished he had more Foreign Office people to advise him.


Why? Soldiers do not understand the problems of the Middle East, the difference between the Shiites and Sunis, the history, the culture, and a brave officer who knows how to fight is not enough to win a war.

The Military budget of the US is already huge. It is 9 times the size of the Russian Military budget and 3 times them size of China’s,

Then he interviewed two National Security Advisors. Tom Donillon who was under President Obama and denied the allegation of wiretapping. He also said that Trump has no idea how the system works. The President cannot order wiretapping without a court order. Presidents cannot just order wiretapping..As for Jeff Sessions he was right to recuse himself and should not resign. We have to wait for his new explanation which will come this week.

Stephen Hadley who was National Security Advisor under George W. Bush agreed with Donillon on the wiretapping..Presidents cannot just do it.. If the Obama Administration was really worried about ties to Russia they may have had a reason to do it, but until now there is no proof that it happened. He also said what the panel today said that Trump likes to distract. Whenever something does not go his way and he gets criticized, he tweets something outrageous and diverts from the issue. This now seems to be a general idea floating around.

As for Sessions – he did the right thing and should not resign until he clarifies his position in the coming days. Then we’ll see.

They both agree that: North Korea is the biggest crisis Trump will face now. President Clinton faced the Oklahoma bombing, President Bush 9/11, President Obama the financial crisis and Trump will face North Korea. However if he does not appear to be reliable and trustworthy there will be trouble.

On the idea that Trump’s immigration policy will be good for the economy, Fareed disputes it vehemently. The costs of more agents, building that wall and not having immigrants for menial work will cost more than it will save.

Then he talked about Canada which has now surpassed the USA and a Land of opportunities. In every poll Canada ranks before the US in welfare, economy, freedom, healthcare.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 1st, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

As per Washington Post’s and CNN’s Fareed Zakaria:
March 2, 2017

ISIS Threatens
“Blood Like Rivers” in China: Report

ISIS militants have released a video threatening to “shed blood like rivers” in China, according to a jihadist-tracking firm, AFP reports. The video would mark the first such direct threat against China, and comes against the backdrop of growing concern among Chinese officials that militant members of the country’s Uyghur ethnic minority might link up with foreign jihadist groups.

“The video was released on the same day China staged the latest in a series of mass rallies by armed police in Xinjiang meant to indicate Chinese resolve in crushing security threats,” Benjamin Carlson reports.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Rucker reported from Washington.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 6th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


China Aims to Spend at Least $360 Billion on Renewable Energy by 2020

By MICHAEL FORSYTHE, January 5, 2017, The New York Times

China intends to spend more than $360 billion through 2020 on renewable power sources like solar and wind, the government’s energy agency said on Thursday.

The country’s National Energy Administration laid out a plan to dominate one of the world’s fastest-growing industries, just at a time when the United States is set to take the opposite tack as Donald J. Trump, a climate-change doubter, prepares to assume the presidency.

The agency said in a statement that China would create more than 13 million jobs in the renewable energy sector by 2020, curb the growth of greenhouse gasses that contribute to global warming and reduce the amount of soot that in recent days has blanketed Beijing and other Chinese cities in a noxious cloud of smog.

China surpassed the United States a decade ago as the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses, and now discharges about twice as much. For years, its oil and coal industries prospered under powerful political patrons and the growth-above-anything mantra of the ruling Communist Party.

The result was choking pollution and the growing recognition that China, many of whose biggest cities are on the coast, will be threatened by rising sea levels.

But even disregarding the threat of climate change, China’s announcement was a bold claim on leadership in the renewable energy industry, where Chinese companies, buoyed by a huge domestic market, are already among the world’s dominant players. Thanks in part to Chinese manufacturing, costs in the wind and solar industries are plummeting, making them increasingly competitive with power generation from fossil fuels like coal and natural gas.

Sam Geall, executive editor of Chinadialogue, an English- and Chinese-language website that focuses on the environment, said that the United States, by moving away from a focus on reducing carbon emissions, risked losing out to China in the race to lead the industry.

Mr. Trump has in the past called the theory of human-cased global warming a hoax and picked a fierce opponent of President Obama’s rules to reduce carbon emissions, Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

The investment commitment made by the Chinese, combined with Mr. Trump’s moves, means jobs that would have been created in the United States may instead go to Chinese workers.

Even the headline-grabbing numbers on total investment and job creation may understate what is already happening on the ground in China. Greenpeace estimates that China installed an average of more than one wind turbine every hour of every day in 2015, and covered the equivalent of one soccer field every hour with solar panels.

China may meet its 2020 goals for solar installation by 2018, said Lauri Myllyvirta, a research analyst at Greenpeace, who is based in Beijing.

But despite these impressive numbers, China’s push to clean its air and reduce its greenhouse gasses faces political pressure from the politically powerful coal industry.

Mr. Geall and Mr. Myllyvirta both said that Thursday’s announcement was missing any language on curtailment, or the amount of electricity generated by wind and solar that never finds its way to the country’s power grid. In China, wind power curtailment was 19 percent in the first nine months 2016, Mr. Myllyvirta said, many times higher than in the United States, where curtailment levels are often negligible.

The main reason for curtailment, he said, is that China is plagued by overcapacity in electricity generation and operators of China’s grid often favor electricity generated from coal.

In recent years the country has also been building coal-fired power plants at a furious pace, although that has recently slowed along with China’s economy. Another omission from Thursday’s announcements, Mr. Myllyvirta said, was the absence of any specific target to reduce coal consumption.

But both Mr. Geall and Mr. Myllyvirta said Thursday’s announcement set the stage for still more power generation from renewable energy and a gradual shift away from coal.

“My experience with China is when a numeric target gets written down, it gets implemented,” Mr. Myllyvirta said. “It doesn’t always get implemented in the way you like, but it does get implemented.”

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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 5th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Donald J. Trump ? @realDonaldTrump TWEET
China has been taking out massive amounts of money & wealth from the U.S. in totally one-sided trade, but won’t help with North Korea. Nice!
12:47 AM – 3 Jan 2017

THE ANSWER from China did not fail to come:
China tells Donald Trump to lay off Twitter

By Katie Hunt, CNN
Updated 0442 GMT (1242 HKT) January 5, 2017

(CNN) China has slammed US President-elect Donald Trump over his use of Twitter to conduct international diplomacy in a commentary published by the country’s official news agency Xinhua.

Trump has earned a reputation for making unpredictable statements on Twitter that often depart from long-standing US policies and he’s made several controversial comments about China.
“The obsession with ‘Twitter diplomacy’ is undesirable,” said the bylined commentary, which only appeared on the agency’s Chinese website. Xinhua is the biggest and most influential of China’s state-run media.
“It is a commonly accepted that diplomacy is not a child’s game — and even less is it business dealing.

As former United States Secretary of State [Madeleine] Albright said, Twitter should not be a tool for foreign policy,” the commentary, which was published this week, said.
Albright served under former President Bill Clinton and was a vocal supporter of Trump’s democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

In a Tweet late Monday, Trump suggested that China wasn’t doing enough to rein in its nuclear-armed neighbor North Korea.

Trump also used Twitter to accuse China of keeping its currency artificially low, of military posturing in the South China Sea and to announce that he’d spoken directly with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen — upending a long-standing US policy.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 3rd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

What to Expect in China Policy During the First 100 Days of Donald Trump’s Presidency
Young China Watchers and the Center on U.S.-China Relations of the New York City based Asia Society, present Daniel Rosen and Orville Schell.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017
6:30pm – 8:00pm
Asia Society
725 Park Ave., New York, NY, 10021

With the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States fast approaching, nominations for most of the highest cabinet appointments and many senior staff positions announced, and months of frenetic media coverage of President-Elect Donald Trump’s transition team behind us, it is worth assessing how Trump’s world view and that of his advisors is likely to shape American policy toward China.

By establishing contact with the Taiwanese leader and openly questioning the “One China” policy, Trump has already signaled that he is willing to turn the U.S.-China relationship as we know it on its head. Daniel Rosen, co-founder of the Rhodium Group, and Arthur Ross Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations Orville Schell will discuss what it all means for the future of U.S.-China relations.

SPEAKERS:

Daniel H. Rosen is a co-founding Partner of the Rhodium Group (RHG), and leads the firm’s work on China and the world economy. His is currently focused on China’s reform challenges, patterns in Chinese direct investment, and the impact of nationalistic technology policies on Chinese welfare. Mr. Rosen has been an Adjunct Associate Professor at Columbia University since 2001, and he is affiliated with a number of preeminent American think tanks. Since 1992, he has authored more than a dozen books and reports on aspects of China’s economic and commercial development. He served on the White House National Economic and Security Councils in 2000-01.

Orville Schell is the Arthur Ross Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at Asia Society in New York. He is a former professor and Dean at the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. He is the author of numerous books on China, most recently Wealth and Power: China’s Long March to the Twenty-first Century. Schell was born in New York City, graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard University in Far Eastern History, was an exchange student at National Taiwan University in the 1960s, and earned a Ph.D. (Abd) at the University of California, Berkeley in Chinese History.


LIVE WEBCAST:
Can’t make it to this program? Tune in Wednesday, January 18, at 6:30p.m. New York time for a free live video webcast. Viewers are encouraged to submit questions to  moderator at asiasociety.org or via Twitter by using the hashtag #AsiaSocietyLIVE.
 AsiaSociety.org
/Live

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Co-organized by Young China Watchers and the Center on U.S.-China Relations.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 3rd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is a unique forum where the governments of 34 democracies with market economies work with each other, as well as with more than 70 non-member economies to promote economic growth, prosperity, and sustainable development.

Today, OECD member countries account for 63 percent of world GDP, three-quarters of world trade, 95 percent of world official development assistance, over half of the world’s energy consumption, and 18 percent of the world’s population. Together with its sister agencies, the International Energy Agency (IEA) and Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), the OECD helps countries – both members and non-members – reap the benefits and confront the challenges of a global economy by promoting sound energy policies that further: economic growth; energy security; free markets; the increasingly safe, clean, and efficient use of resources to reduce environmental impacts and preserve our climate; and science and technology innovation.

The US Mission to the OECD writes: “The Organization provides a setting where governments can compare policy experiences, seek answers to common problems, identify good practice and coordinate domestic and international policies.

For more than 50 years, the OECD has been a valuable source of policy analysis and internationally comparable statistical, economic and social data.

Over the past decade, the OECD has further deepened its engagement with business, trade unions and other representatives of civil society. The U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB) represents the views of America’s private sector through its participation in the OECD’s Business and Industry Advisory Committee (BIAC). The U.S. trade union interests are represented on the OECD’s Trade Union Advisory Committee by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) (USA).”

How does accession to the OECD work?

In 2007 the OECD Council at Ministerial level opened membership discussions with five candidate countries, as a result of which Chile, Estonia, Israel and Slovenia became members in 2010, while discussions with the Russian Federation are currently postponed. In May 2013, the Council decided to launch a new wave of accession discussions with Colombia and Latvia; in April 2015, it invited Costa Rica and Lithuania to open formal OECD accession talks. Latvia became an OECD Member on 1 July 2016

As a first step, interested countries typically present a request to become OECD members. Once the OECD Council invites the Secretary-General to open discussions for accession with one or several countries, an “Accession Roadmap” is developed to detail the terms, conditions and process of each accession discussion. This roadmap lists the reviews to be undertaken by Committees in various policy areas in order to assess the country’s position with respect to the relevant OECD instruments and to evaluate its policies and practices as compared to OECD best policies and practices in the relevant area. Each country follows its own process and is assessed independently.

Browse the roadmaps for the accession of the Russian Federation, Colombia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Costa Rica

At the end of the technical review, each Committee provides a “formal opinion” to the OECD Council. The timeline for the accession process depends on the pace at which the candidate country provides information to Committees and responds to recommendations for changes to its legislation, policy and practice.

On the basis of the formal opinions and other relevant information, the Council takes a final decision on the basis of unanimity. An Accession Agreement is then signed and the candidate country takes the necessary domestic steps and deposits an instrument of accession to the OECD Convention with the depositary, e.g. the French government. On the date of deposit, the country formally becomes a Member of the OECD.

Reviewing the above and reading the pronouncements of President-elect Trump of the USA –
it seems to us that the proper way for a reaction from the OECD is to start a process to negate USA membership for failing minimal rules of a democracy. It is clear that 3 million Americans were denied the value of their votes and Mr. Trump does not seem to accept the meaning of democracy. His economy projections promote the oligarchy that surrounds him and
it becomes obvious that he will lead the USA in the direction of Putin’s Russia which was declared not up to OCED requirements. Jn effect we find that China projects a better understanding of OECD requirements then a Trumpist America.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 4th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Analyst: Israel Must Take Advantage of Chance to Become Key Stop on New International Chinese Trade Route

The Algemeiner, SEPTEMBER 4, 2016

Author: BARNEY BREEN-PORTNOY

He is Washington, D.C.-based senior correspondent for The Algemeiner. He previously worked in Tel Aviv, Israel as a journalist and served in the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit. Barney holds a BA degree in Government and History from the University of Virginia. He can be reached at  bbreenportnoy at algemeiner.com.


Israel has a chance to become an important stop on a new international trade route being established by China, according to an analysis published by a global news magazine on Thursday.

The article coincides with the G20 meeting in Hangzhou, China

“Israel has become a strategic focal point for China, and if it fails to leverage this, it will miss a unique opportunity to not only upgrade and diversify its economy, but to position itself as a critical outpost on China’s New Silk Road,” Roi Feder wrote in the Diplomatic Courier. “If Israel seizes the current window of opportunity, while being sensitive to America’s regional interests, it may become a critical trading route between East and West.”

The “New Silk Road” Feder referred to is the goal of China’s “One Belt One Road” (OBOR) initiative. As it seeks to expand its economic reach throughout Asia and Europe, China is set to invest in infrastructure projects in dozens of countries.

According to Feder, the OBOR is part of Chinese President’s Xi Jinping’s “doctrine to reinstate China’s 7th Century golden age, when the Silk Road was a critical international commercial route.”

To realize this vision, China is strengthening its relations with Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia, Iran and Israel.

“The growth in collaboration between China and Israel over the past few years is predominately due to Israel’s status as a Start-Up Nation which can supply China’s technological needs and help it to upgrade many of its industries,” Feder wrote. “Israel is a center of excellence in managing terror threats, an issue that Beijing decision-makers view with concern as they try to mitigate the rise of Islamist groups in China’s Western provinces.”

However, for China, Feder wrote, Israel’s true “potential lies in becoming an overland bridge connecting China’s trade routes from the Far East through Africa up to the Middle East and on to Europe. Even if it does not proclaim it publicly, China sees Israel as a strategic outpost in its regional interests; a small dot on the map, but one which is vital for ensuring an alternative for the trade and energy routes of the world’s second largest superpower.”

China has already been involved in a number of infrastructure projects in Israel in recent years — including the Carmel Tunnels and two private port projects in Ashdod and Haifa — but, Feder wrote, the “jewel in the crown” for the Chinese would be a “land bridge — a connection [between] the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea via rail which would provide a safe alternative route to the Suez Canal, and a dependable commercial center for China’s trading needs. Such a development will turn Israel into an essential part of the global trading ecosystem while boosting its economy.”

Feder concluded, “Israel must recognize the significance of OBOR and the enormous economic and diplomatic opportunities. If leveraged cautiously and with full consideration of America’s interests in the region, Israel…could become a small yet strategically critical outpost on China’s New Silk Road.”

As reported by The Algemeiner, Israel and China announced in May they would open talks on a bilateral free trade agreement.

In 2012, Israel and China signed an agreement to build a rail line that will link Israel’s Mediterranean ports in Ashdod and Haifa with its Red Sea port in Eilat.

Hangzhou is the capital city of Zhejiang Province on China’s southeastern coast. As the Province’s economic, cultural, technological and educational center, the city also plays a central role in the Yangtze River Delta. With a permanent population of 8.9 million as of the end of 2014, the Municipality is spread over an area of 16,596 square kilometers with the city proper accounting for 4,876 square kilometers.

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