In 2010 Canada and South Korea seem to work with the US in order to involve the so-called G20 as a parallel platform to the UNFCCC in finding new ways to deal with climate change problems.
From the New York based Council on Foreign Relations we learn that On Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - President Obama will leave on his rescheduled trip to Asia, making stops in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines.
THE PRESIDENT WILL NOT GO TO CHINA which is significant – AND WILL BE IN JAPAN – APRIL 23-25th – Continuing from there to South Korea – Apr 25-26th; Malaysia: 26-28th; and the Philippines: Apr 28-29th.
Everyone knows that the main topic of discussion will be China – but it can be assumed as well that at this time the main issue in President Obama’s mind are The Ukraine. In effect except for South Korea there are on-going conflicts between the other three States on the list and China. Some of these conflicts stem from China’s attempt to gain islands and the waters around them that may have a potential for oil and gas resources. The South Korea – North Korea schism is just one additional problem, and the North Korea missiles pointed at South Korea and Japan are a perpetual threat.
Obama will try to reassure his hosts that the US will stand by them if China decides to perform a land take-over like Russia just did in Crimea – This was probably what Secretary of the Military – former Senator Chuck Hagel – told his Chinese counterpart – Chung Wanquan in his recent trip to Beijing.
Senior CFR Fellow for Japan Studies Sheila Smith, and Senior Fellow for Southeast Asia Joshua Kurlantzick will discuss on a call-in April 21, 2014 the president’s priorities for his trip. But it is already known that the CFR considers this trip as badly timed, and at least in the case of Malaysia totally wrong.
Smith wrote on the CFR blog Asia Unbound that the visit to Japan will provide opportunities to address the perception that the Obama administration and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet are ill-suited to working together – and to allow the two leaders a chance to highlight the aspirations of the relationship rather than the litany of issues that need attention.
But Kurlantzick wrote on Asia Unbound that Obama will add to the Malaysian government’s promotion of itself as a successful and democratic nation, at a cost. “This approach to the Malaysia visit would mean downplaying – or simply not even discussing – serious regression in Malaysia’s domestic politics, including the recent sentencing of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to five years in jail for sodomy, the highly flawed 2013 national elections that barely kept Prime Minister Najib tun Razak in office, and the increasingly shrill, anti-Chinese and anti-Indian rhetoric and legislation of the Najib government, hardly the kind of sentiments a supposed leader of political moderation should be espousing.”
Let me add to above from Vienna, the immediate reaction to the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight 370, as spoken up by aviation expert Nicky Lauda, was that Malaysia Government did not say all they knew about the incident – in effect their non-participation and the fact that for hours nothing was said about the plane’s disappearance, has caused loss of the most precious time for search. In short – the Malaysian government is no partner to the US for any serious negotiations.
Date: Monday, April 21, 2014
Call Time: 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
U.S. Callers: 1-866-710-0179
International Callers: 1-334-323-7224
Senior Fellow for Japan Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Senior Fellow for Southeast Asia, Council on Foreign Relations; Author, Democracy in Retreat
Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair, Council on Foreign Relations
Tricia Miller Klapheke
Assistant Director, Global Communications and Media Relations
No objectionable comments were posted on the South Korea and Philippine legs of the trip.
Recent updates to the CIF Voices (blogs), videos and news articles on CIF projects:
Snakes, Tomatoes, and Other Take Aways from the Asia-Pacific Dialogue on the GCF
Lessons from the field on CIF results monitoring and reporting
Drawing lessons from Turkey’s energy use, emissions and fuel mix
Transforming Waste to Energy in Nepal
Menengai Geothermal Power Plant in Kenya
AfDB facilitates private sector finance for climate-readiness in Niger, Mozambique and Zambia
Open Call to Private Sector
Rooted in Learning, Growing with Results
USELF Boosts Ukraine’s Renewable Energy Sector
AfDB affirms its support for Power Africa, with a commitment of more than US $600 million
AfDB supports Ghana local communities with $14.55 million to reduce deforestation
David Lee, CEO of Shakr Media spoke at The Korea Society on Korea and Startups.
David Lee is the founder & CEO of Shakr Media, the Seoul & SF-based startup that makes great video accessible to everyone. David has built an international development team in Seoul, while raising $2.75M in venture capital from both Korean & U.S. investors including NHN Investment and 500 Startups.
Under David’s leadership, Shakr has appeared as a presenter at Techcrunch Disrupt’s Startup Battlefield in Beijing, and has earned top honors at beLAUNCH 2013 in Seoul and beGLOBAL 2013 in Palo Alto.
Attention to South Korea becoming the next Global Hub for Tech Startups comes from Alan McGlade of Forbes Magazine:“American business has long led the way in high tech density or the proportion of businesses that engage in activities such as Internet software and services, hardware and semiconductors. The US is fertile ground for tech start-ups with access to capital and a culture that celebrates risk taking. Other countries have made their mark on the world stage, competing to be prominent tech and innovation hubs. Israel has been lauded as a start-up nation with several hundred companies getting funded by venture capital each year. A number of these companies are now being acquired by the likes of Apple, Facebook and Google. Finland and Sweden have attracted notice by bringing us Angry Birds and Spotify among others. But a new start-up powerhouse is on the horizon – South Korea.”
Bloomberg News recently published the Bloomberg Global Innovation Index and ranked South Korea first among all nations by comparing a group of indicators such as research & development capability, productivity, tech density and patent activity. South Korea’s ranking is not a surprise. In recent decades, South Korea has transformed into an economic heavyweight, having systematically applied substantial resources to research and development. As a result, South Korea has become the world leader in patent activity, and information and communication technology. The country has the highest broadband penetration in the world at 97 percent and is a leader in broadband speed with an average peak connection of close to 50 megabits per second.
Increasingly young technologists are fueling a fledgling start-up scene that is led by mobile game developers and social media innovators. This is complemented by entrepreneurs returning from overseas with an eye on conquering the globe. These entrepreneurs are coming back with a sense of how to take on the US market, a greater willingness to assume risk, and an interest in building things that aren’t just made for Korea. This has attracted the notice of American technology companies. Google has taken an active role in nurturing South Korean companies, introducing their favorites in the US to help them build a global profile. A company called Sparklabs was formed a little over a year ago with offices in Seoul and San Francisco to incubate Korean start-ups.
It is logical for South Korea to follow this path. The country is smaller than the state of New York, is not rich in oil or other natural resources, and has limited agriculture and manufacturing capacity. Korean’s must promote technology and innovation to be competitive as a nation since it is not enough to just contend on cost or scale. While the South Korean Chaebols, or large family-controlled corporate groups, focus on exporting and manufacturing, there is a clear recognition that South Korea needs to have a more diverse economy. Thus, the tides are shifting towards supporting smaller businesses and promoting entrepreneurship.
Many of the fundamentals are already in place. Just as Samsung transformed the consumer electronics business, Korean start-ups are poised to have an explosive impact on digital media and services.
To me the most interesting thing I heard from Mr. David Lee was his description of the recent evolution of the Korean psyche – it is really based on the fact that the country developed so much in the last 20 years and the fact that the young people have taken ownership of this success. He said that “they feel they own the story and are proud of it” and that this is the secret of their success. This success is here – in he Palo Alto and New York City High Tech region and in the fact that many of these young people go now back to Korea and are ready to be creative at home.
Sounded interesting – and led me to decide the following day to go and have lunch – under the New York Restaurant Week plan – at the newest high-quality Korean Restaurant in town – the Kristabelli (near Fifth Avenue at 8 W. 36th Street). As expected – the place filled up with young Koreans.
The lower cost these two weeks was seemingly what brought in this clientele. They came not just because it was an eatery – but seemingly to enjoy their time there. It is al these little dishes and close attention to the food that stretched out my lunch for nearly two hours. The three course meal ($25)
Gujeolplan (an Emperor’s Assortment of nine different thinly sliced sauteed vegetables and beef served with blini stile small crepes, a rib eye cut small barbeque with lots of additives and some blini in a vinaigrette liquid, and a terrific ice cream bread pudding for desert – and paired with three containers of Korean wines ($15) – a rice wine infused with sweet potato vodka, a black raspberry wine and a plum flower wine. Quite interesting when one thinks that 20 years ago Korean immigrants in New York were known only as vegetable marketeers and for finger-nail cosmetic stores.
Thinking of our website and the fact that from start I had Korea as one of the promising Nations on my homepage – I feel totally justified. Further, obviously, helped by the US originally, now I think that further advancement by Korea calls for a more independent policy by South Korea.
It is obvious that all powers – China, Japan, India, the US, Russia – have no interest in the reunification of Korea – but the Koreans themselves ought to keep Germany in mind and learn from the German experience that through re-unification they have a chance to grow. This is simply a question of an internal market that makes them independent of the vagaries of a global market. Forget any kind of revenge – just work hard to supply the unending needs of a backward North Korea like Germany did for East Germany. This will then bring Korea into the front line of the emerged powers and the real competitor with China in its region.
Further – looking up the maps – North Korea borders Manchuria of China – the Jilin and Liaoning Provinces and there is an Autonomous Prefecture for Koreans at the border – Yanbian – in the Jilin Province. The kind of place that might someday lead to conflict. Also, the islands in the Yellow Sea (Korea Bay and Bohai Sea) were divided amicably between North Korea and China in 1962 as per the ethnicity of the inhabitants. This again may eventually be disputed.
Some more about the visit of UNSG Ban Ki-moon to Jerusalem, and what he learned about the Middle East from Israeli leaders on location. Will this show in the way the UN Secretariat speaks about the States of the region?
According to Al-Monitor:
“UN Leader’s Visit to Israel Shows Waning US Influence in Mideast.”
By: Ben Caspit for Al-Monitor Israel Pulse Posted on August 23.
While on a visit to Israel on Aug. 15-16, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held some interesting talks, receiving the red carpet treatment from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who oversees the slow yet chanceless negotiations with the Palestinians.
I would like to suggest to you not to talk about the settlements, Livni told Ban. At around that time, Israel was issuing new tenders for construction in the territories, mainly in Jerusalem and the large settlement blocs. Ban wanted to know why. Since your position on this issue is well-known, Livni replied, I would propose that you do not talk about it at this particular time. According to her, any statements to that effect at this juncture would only render the negotiations harder, forcing Palestinian Authority Chairman Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) to say something harsh, which could perhaps then undercut the possibility of progress. Abu Mazen cannot come off as more moderate than the UN. He, too, faces an opposition.
Livni explained to Ban how sensitive the situation was, imploring him not to make the same mistake the Americans had made during US President Barack Obama’s first term. Back then, the administration put Abu Mazen on a high horse from which one cannot dismount peacefully. You can only fall off, and they left him to his own devices. Finally, the negotiations resumed, she told him, and the future of the settlements will have to be determined in the bilateral discussions. That’s why at this point it’s better to be smart than right and leave the talking to us (the recent sentences are my own interpretation.)
Livni adopted the same approach when the discussion touched on the Palestinian prisoners-murderers whom Israel had released just two days earlier. What I would like to suggest to you, she said, is not to issue a statement in support of the release. When the secretary-general wanted to know why, she explained to him that some 85% of the Israeli public was opposed to the release. If you find out what those people were convicted of, you would understand too. No other country in the world would have released such prisoners. This is an open Israeli wound. This move is hard for everyone, myself included, mainly because Israel did not get anything real in return.
In other words, Livni suggested to Ban that he let the Israelis and Palestinians run their own affairs without interfering by making unnecessary statements. When all is said and done, the peace treaties that Israel signed with the Arabs — Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians in Oslo — were always accomplished through direct negotiations between the parties without involvement, interference, pressure or threats. Former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin made such a strategic decision and executed it, and the same is true of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The world can only stand in the way. Whenever the world meddled, wielded pressure or lectured, it all came crashing down.
Then, it was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s turn. That was interesting, too. Netanyahu is a weak prime minister, a failed manager and a controversial leader. However, when it comes to public diplomacy he is unmatched. Having studied Ban, he knew exactly how to strike a chord with him.
Netanyahu presented Ban the ongoing Palestinian incitement against Israel that comes across from the Palestinian curriculum which continues to call for Israel’s obliteration from the face of the earth, while describing Jews as “monkeys and pigs,” etc. Then it was time for [Prime Minister Netanyahu] Bibi to get to the punch line. The prime minister compared the Palestinian campaign of incitement and lies against Israel to North Korea’s unending and unbridled incitement against South Korea. Bibi had a long list of examples which left the secretary-general dumbfounded.
Then, as was to be expected, Bibi proceeded to discuss the Iranian nuclear program. He drew a similar comparison to North Korea, or, to put it more precisely, to North Korea’s nuclear project. Netanyahu masterfully delineated the similarities between Iran’s nuclear program and that of North Korea. The latter didn’t give a hoot about the world or the United States, until South Korea woke up one morning only to find out that its neighbor to the north has a nuclear bomb.
In that case, too, the world believed that diplomacy could postpone or do away with the bad news — a belief which proved to be baseless. When Netanyahu switched over to the Iranian nuclear project, he let Ban understand how dangerous Iran is to world peace — not just to Israel. He explained to the secretary-general how messianic Iran’s leadership is and how it is guided by radical religious edicts. The Iranians must not be allowed to do what the North Koreans did, Netanyahu said. Iran is a huge country with immense oil deposits and high capabilities. Such a country cannot be isolated the way the West has isolated North Korea. A nuclear Iran will exact a heavy price from the world — a price it cannot afford.
The comic relief in the meeting between Ban and Netanyahu took place when the Israeli premier started talking about “construction in the settlements.” Most of the construction takes place in Jerusalem — Israel’s capital. It is carried out in places that everyone understands will remain in Israeli hands even in the settling of a final status arrangement, Netanyahu explained. For example, we build in Gilo, which is a neighborhood in Jerusalem across the Green Line, the premier explained. Then took the UN secretary-general to the window and pointed out the neighborhood. Can you possibly imagine that we won’t be able to build here, a place you can see from the prime minister’s office? Bibi asked.
Fortunately, Ban is not familiar with Jerusalem.
On the one hand, Bibi is right. The Palestinians know all too well that Gilo will remain in Israeli hands even in the settling of a final status arrangement. On the other hand, you cannot see Gilo from the prime minister’s office. What Bibi showed Ban is the Israel Museum, which is not too far from his office. But Ban is from South Korea. As far as he is concerned, the Israel Museum can represent Gilo, can’t it?
Incidentally, Ban did not hear anything substantially different from the leader of the opposition, Knesset member Shelly Yachimovich (chairwoman of the Labor party). When it comes to these issues, there is a consensus in Israel.
Later during his visit, it felt like the UN secretary-general had listened closely to what the Israeli leadership had said to him in that room. His statements sounded relatively mellifluous to Israeli ears.
I would assume that Ban is well-aware of the fact that the only capital in the Middle East where he can move about freely nowadays — without the fear of being targeted by rockets, car bombs, chemical missiles, mass demonstrations or other similar perils — is Jerusalem. He cannot do this in Cairo, Damascus, Beirut, Tripoli or Sanaa. Even Amman is not what it used to be. By way of comparison, Jerusalem and Ramallah are a paradise of leisure, although this is temporary, too. In the Middle East the tables can turn in a matter of a split second.
Since I last described here in Al-Monitor the relative quiet in Jerusalem and Ramallah, Israel was hit by rockets fired at Eilat on Aug. 13 (which were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system) and at the Western Galilee on Aug. 22 (likewise intercepted). On Aug. 19, 25 Egyptian policemen were executed by armed militants in Rafah in the Sinai, a car bomb exploded in Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah’s Dahiyeh quarter in Beirut on Aug. 15 and the Syrian regime killed hundreds, if not thousands of civilians in a chemical attack in east Damascus on Aug. 21.
Whenever we think that the Middle East has hit rock bottom, we hear heavy pounding from below, and then it turns out that hitting rock bottom is still quite a ways away. There’s one truth, however, that’s emerging right before our eyes: The West is losing control over the events. Western deterrence is already nonexistent. The days when everybody would hold their breath waiting for the daily press briefing from the White House are long gone. US President Barack Obama has made a mockery of himself, so much so that nobody really cares about what America thinks, says or does.
This is best illustrated when drawing a comparison between the events in Cairo and Syria. The Americans had long ago set a “red line” for Syria, namely the use of chemical weapons.
However, when a high-ranking Israeli intelligence officer revealed that chemical weapons had been used in Syria, the Americans gagged, got muddled, denied and ultimately confirmed this. Preposterously enough, they announced that “there might have been a possibility” that the Syrian regime had indeed masterminded the recent chemical attack in Damascus. Great. If that’s the case, what will you do? Nothing, it seems.
I’m not calling on the Americans to act in Syria. If I were the US president, I would not intervene in Syria no matter what. Anyone in his right mind has to steer clear from that. Intervention in Syria would pay off and be deemed legitimate only if it were supported by the entire international community. Since this is not going to be the case, there’s no point in goading this or that sheriff to hold the reins in Syria. The world has to come to terms with the new reality: You cannot avert every horror across the globe. Using moral principles, it’s very hard to decide between two similar devils — such as the warring factions in Syria.
It is against this backdrop that the Western conduct in connection with Egypt is becoming more perplexing. My friends, when will it dawn on you that what the Egyptian army is trying to do is to prevent replicating the harrowing reality in Syria? The nonsense of Western democracy and values are unsuitable for societies that still enslave women, minorities and weak castes.
The Americans placed their bet on the Muslim Brotherhood two years ago and now they find it hard to accept that they bet on the wrong horse. The Egyptian public doesn’t want “the brothers” to dictate their life, laws and customs. In Egypt, there are no checks and balances as one would find in a true democracy, at least not for now. So the only way of coping with the events is to determine that having the Egyptian army take control for a transitional period and disperse the riots with force is better than the alternative.
What’s the alternative? That’s simple. The alternative is an armed gang that takes 25 plainclothes men off two minibuses, forces them to lie on the ground and shoots all of them — one by one — to death in broad daylight. This is the face of radical Islam, of which all of us — regardless of religion, sex, color, race or nationality — should be afraid of.
Ben Caspit is a contributing writer for Al-Monitor’s Israel Pulse. He is also a senior columnist and political analyst for Israeli newspapers, and has a daily radio show and regular TV shows on politics and Israel.
from: Ricken Patel of www.Avaaz.org
30 months to save the world
Dear Avaaz community,
This may be the most important email I’ve written to you. Scientists have found that vast areas of Arctic sea ice are disappearing, accelerating the destruction of our planet — it is a climate tipping point and we CAN stop it, if we act very fast, and all together. We have 30 months until the biggest climate summit ever. To win it, we need to blast out of the starting gate. Click below to make a donation and help us get there:
This is what the experts warned us about. As the earth warms, it creates many “tipping points” that accelerate the warming out of control. Warming thaws the Arctic sea ice, destroying the giant white ‘mirror’ that reflects heat back into space, which massively heats up the ocean, and melts more ice, and so on. We spin out of control. Already this year — storms, temperatures — everything is off the charts.
We CAN stop this, if we act very fast, and all together. And out of this extinction nightmare, we can pull one of the most inspiring futures for our children and grandchildren. A clean, green future in balance with the earth that gave birth to us.
We have 30 months until the Paris Summit, the meeting that world leaders have decided will determine the fate of our efforts to fight climate change. It might seem like a long time – it’s not. We have 30 months to get the right leaders in power, get them to that meeting, give them a plan, and hold them accountable. And it’s us vs. the oil companies, and fatalism. We can win, we must, but we need to blast out of the starting gate with donations of just a few dollars/euros/pounds per week until the summit. For the world we dream of, let’s make it happen:
Fatalism on climate change is not just futile, it’s also incompetent. The hour is late, but it is still absolutely within our power to stop this catastrophe, simply by shifting our economies from oil and coal to other sources of power. And doing so will bring the world together like never before, in a deep commitment and cooperation to protect our planetary home. It’s a beautiful possibility, and the kind of future Avaaz was born to create.
Facing this challenge will take heart, and hope, and also all the smarts we have. Here’s the plan:
1. Go Political: Elect Climate Leaders — 5 crucial countries have elections in the next 30 months. Let’s make sure the right people win, and with the right mandate. Avaaz is one of the only major global advocacy organizations that can be political. And since this fight will be won or lost politically, it could be at some points just us vs. the oil companies to decide who our politicians listen to.
2. Make Hollande a Hero — French President Francois Hollande will chair the Paris summit – a powerful position. We have to try every tactic and channel — his personal friends and family, his political constituency, his policy advisors — to make him the hero we need him to be to make the summit a success.
3. Take it to the Next Level — The scale of this crisis demands action that goes beyond regular campaigning. It’s time for powerful, direct, non-violent action, to capture imagination, convey moral urgency, and inspire people to act. Think Occupy.
?4. Out the Spoilers — Billionaires like the Koch brothers and their oil companies are the major spoilers in climate change – funding junk science to confuse us and spending millions on misleading PR, while buying politicians wholesale. With investigative journalism and more, we need to expose and counter their horrifically irresponsible actions.
5. Define the Deal — Even in the face of planetary catastrophe, 195 governments in a room can be just incompetent. We need to invest in top quality policy advice to develop ingenious strategies, mechanisms, and careful compromises so that when the summit arrives, a critical mass of leaders are already bought in to a large part of the deal, and no one can claim that good solutions don’t exist.
We need tens of thousands of us to make small donations to blast out of the starting gate on this plan. The amount doesn’t matter as much as the choice – to hope, and to act:
At the last major climate summit in Copenhagen 2009, we played a pivotal role in German and Japanese ‘climate’ elections, in shifting Brazilian policy, and in helping win a major global deal on financing, with rich countries promising $100 billion per year to poor countries to help them address climate change. Back then, Avaaz was 3 million people. After Copenhagen, we reflected that we needed to be a lot bigger to meet the challenge posed by climate change. Now, we’re 23 million, and growing by 1 million per month.
Climate change is the ultimate global collective action problem, requiring cooperation from every government in the world. And Avaaz is the ultimate collective action solution, with millions of us united in common vision across every nation. This is our time, to build a world for our children that’s beauty matches our dreams. Let’s get started.
With hope and appreciation for this amazing community,
Ricken and the entire Avaaz team
With Arctic sea ice vulnerable, summer melt season begins briskly (The Christian Science Monitor)
Arctic sea ice levels to reach record low within days (Guardian)
Five Reasons We Need a New Global Agreement on Climate Change by 2015 (Switchboard NRDC)
The Doha climate talks were a start, but 2015 will be the moment of truth (The Guardian)
Arctic sea ice melt disrupts weather patterns (NBC News)
The Arctic Ice “Death Spiral” (Slate)
UPDATED: Jeremi Suri of Texas has an answer to Robert Parry – “Bomb North Korea before It’s Too Late” this may avoid having to bomb Iran later. // US Secretary of State John Kerry is in Beijing and Seoul this week-end write Washington and Tokyo.
Op-Ed Contributor of the New York Times
Bomb North Korea, Before It’s Too Late.
By JEREMI SURI,
New Japanese activism – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan is in Mongolia to strengthen the ties between the two countries. It is about economic relations and energy, and also about North Korea. Then, April 8 he will host Mexico in Tokyo as part of the belated Campaign to join the Trans-Pacific Alliance.
ULAN BATOR – After meeting with Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj and Prime Minister Norov Altankhuyag in Ulan Bator, Abe told a news conference the two sides will accelerate ongoing bilateral negotiations toward inking a free-trade accord. The two sides agreed to hold a third round of trade liberalization talks in the Mongolian capital from Tuesday.
“As Mongolia is rich in natural resources, Japan’s technological cooperation will lead to a win-win scenario for both countries,” Abe, the first Japanese prime minister to visit Mongolia in nearly seven years, said after the talks.
Abe also pushed the participation of Japanese companies in developing one of the largest coal deposits in the world, at the Tavan Tolgoi site in the Gobi Desert, during the talks. Japan hopes to secure cheaper supplies of natural resources abroad while its nuclear power stations remains stalled in view of the Fukushima disaster.
The suspension of atomic power plants will drive up utilities’ fuel costs for the operation of thermal power stations to a sky-high ¥3.2 trillion in fiscal 2012, which ends Sunday, far in excess of levels seen before the 2011 meltdowns crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.
As well as its abundance of coal, Mongolia is also known for rich mineral resources such as gold, copper and uranium, while rare metals and rare earths deposits could also possibly be extracted.
Aside from economic issues, Tokyo also considers Mongolia an important ally from a diplomatic and security perspective since it has diplomatic relations with North Korea — unlike Japan, which has no formal ties with the communist country — and borders China to the south and Russia to the north.
On North Korea, Abe said the two countries had agreed to deal with its recent provocations to the international community in line with U.N. Security Council resolutions. Given Ulan Bator’s ties with Pyongyang, Abe was especially eager to secure its support in resolving the long-standing issue of the North’s abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and ’80s, government officials said.
Last November, Ulan Bator hosted the first talks between senior Japanese and North Korean officials since 2008 on the abduction issue.
Meanwhile, Japan, the largest donor to Mongolia, also intends to provide technical assistance to help the country cope with serious air pollution in the capital and assist the building of new transport infrastructure as a way of alleviating heavy traffic in and around it.
Japan was Mongolia’s fourth-largest trading partner last year, when the fast-growing country’s economy jumped 17.3 percent from a year earlier. China, Russia and the United States occupied the top three positions.
A Kurt Bayer comment on European Banking that leads to re-birth of Populism, that could also be viewed in context of the US and Israel. It is the bankers that give us now clowns, but please do not forget, they can bring to life also failed painters and assorted demagogues.
March 3, 2013
The public media and European mainstream parties’ politicians are unisono lamenting the rise of populism as manifested by the strong showing of Beppe Grillo in Italy’s parliamentary election last weekend. They decry, as they did earlier in the case of Greece, when the “populist” Syriza party nearly won the election, the irresponsibility, the negativism, the “against-it-all” attitude of these parties’ leaders. Let us add to these election results the street demonstrations and battles in Greece, in Spain, in Portugal, in Bulgaria, in Slovenia – all these before the background of people jumping to death from windows of their to-be-repossessed apartments, of soup kitchens, of soaring unemployment rates (especially, and even more tragically, of the young), and of the horrifying increase in poverty rates in many of these and other countries.
It does seem, that in spite of these politicians’ lamentoes, that European citizens are no longer accepting the crisis resolution policies imposed on them by politicians – at the bidding of financial markets. Yes, Mario Monti, the unelected and now defeated prime minister, managed to calm “market fears”, yes, Mario Draghi, the ECB president, managed to do the same – and more – by last fall promising to “do everything necessary” to enable European states’ return to the financial markets, yes, some of the Southern states (plus Ireland) were able during the past months to place bond auctions at “sustainable” yields (i.e. below the benchmark of 6%). But the concomitant “aid programs” by the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund, the dreaded “troika” are what the restive populations are no longer willing to swallow. Since governments took over bank debt, the citizens have been called upon to foot the bill, by having their taxes increased, government expenditures, especially social expenditures, cut and losing their jobs as a result of the persistent recession which these programs (and the similar, if less stringent “debt brake” conditions imposed on all EU countries. There is already talk about a “lost decade” for Europe.
With all this austerity (which is portrayed as without alternative) it is completely unclear where future growth should come from even after this decade. The mainstream recipe that balanced budgets (and their corresponding structural reforms) guarantee growth has been proven false, not only in theory, but also in empirical practice. If the second largest economic block in the world (with about 18 trillion $ in GDP, about one fourth of the world economy) reduces public sector demand in addition to falling demand in the private sector, this affects the whole world. This is different from the frequently cited more recent cases, where one individual country managed to export its way out of recession, when all other countries were growing and thus increasing their demand.
In this situation, the EU parliament has achieved a spectacular success, by agreeing (also with EU Finance Ministers) to limit bankers’ bonus payments to 100% of base salary (in exceptional cases to 200%). This is part of a hard-fought package setting new rules for European banks’ equity and liquidity requirements. There are widespread “populism” cries by especially English bankers, but also their colleagues around Europe that this would drive out banking from Europe, that this is a Continental coup to transfer banking business from London to Paris or Frankfurt (??), that this is “unfair”. The more sanguine bankers say (see eg. Financial Times March 2, 2013) that this just means that their base salary will have to be doubled as a consequence. Tory MPs are fuming and using this as an additional argument that the UK should leave the EU as soon as possible. Of course, they do not mention the fact that it was their leader, David Cameron, who pulled the Tories out of the European Peoples’ Party group, which – in the form of the Austrian Othmar Karas – was leading the negotiations of the European Parliament with the Finance Ministers. They also forget to mention that banking lobbies (led by the English) have delayed and watered down the other parts of the Banking package to be concluded.
The Greek and Italian elections, the street protests, the events in many other European countries should lead to a realization by the EU policy makers, both in the Central Bank, in the Commission and in the Council, that it is not just “clowns” (@ Peer Steinbruck, the Social Democratic candidate for the German premiership) who say “no more” to this oppressive economic policy recipe, but it is large parts of the European populations who have not only lost confidence that these recipes will work, but actively are against them – because they see that as in the Great Depression of the late 1920s – they lead to impoverishment and political disaster. Politicians should listen more closely to their populations, and less to the financial sector lobbyists, who have caused this crisis and refuse to play their part in shouldering their part of the burden. It was the lobbyists’ close connection to the politicians who made banking debts into government debt, it was their whisperings which had told politicians fairy tales about the financial markets being the most efficient markets in the world, thus self-regulation and “light-touch” regulation was all that was needed.
What are the alternatives?
The primary policy objective should not be to “return countries to financial markets’ access”, but to have indebted states return to a sustainable economic and social policy path which improves the welfare of their populations. To this end, government debt financing should be taken away from financial markets and turned over to a publicly accountable public institutions (the ECB or the ESM with a banking licence).
As far as bank debt is concerned, a European plan must be developed with a medium-term view of how the European Financial sector should look like in 10-20 years. This would counter-act the present “re-nationalization” trends where every country attempts to save its banks (frequently at the expense of others) at high costs to the taxpayers. Some banks will need to be closed, others restructured, and effective regulation set up. It is clear that (some) debts will need to be repaid, but much of bank debt should be paid by bank owners and their bondholders, not by taxpayers. For highly indebted bank sectors, a European bank resolution fund could take over some of the debt.
It is true that a number of “problem countries” in the EU have pursued wrong policies in the past, e.g. waste of public (EU and national) funds, neglect of innovation and R&D policies, high military expenditures, neglect of industrial policies, neglect of modern education systems, neglect of building up sustainable energy systems (both on the supply and demand side), and many more. Each country needs to develop a positive vision of where it wants to stand in 10 years’ time, and then select the appropriate instruments, and convince its EU partners of its way.
At a European level, a new more comprehensive economic policy umbrella must be opened. The nearly exclusive attention to budget consolidation was geared to placating the financial markets – who also are getting cold feet seeing what “their” policies do to growth (see the most recent downgrade of the UK). It must throw off the yoke of financial market dictate and turn itself to strengthening the European model, with a view to balance social, economic and environmental requirements for the future.
European civil society is growing together. Public institutions, like the labor movement, are not. In the face of the crisis, labor unions are re-nationalizing, attempting to save jobs for their own members at the expense of their foreign colleagues. They should learn from the business lobby, which has been much more successful in convincing European and national policy makers of their own interests.
UPDATED – The Korea Society hosted a review of Korea’s inputs at the UN and the ongoing activities of the Korean UN Secretary General – Mr. Ban Ki-moon. THE UNSG FIVE PRIORITIES FOR HIS SECOND TERM IN OFFICE – Starting with Sustainable Development and Climate Change.
What are the prospects for United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-moon’s second term?
Michèle Griffin of UN Policy Planning,
The United Nations and Korean Leadership
Ambassador Shin Dong-ik
Moderated by Dr. Stephen Noerper
We learned the following:
THE UN SECRETARY GENERAL HOLDS 5 TOPICS AS MOST IMPORTANT FOR THE TIME OF HIS SECOND TERM IN OFFICE –
(1) Sustainable Development and Climate Change. . . . This Because We Are Increasingly Aware of the Limits For the Global Natural Resources.
(2) More Preventively Minded. . . . This by Building Up the Resilience of the Fragile Countries i.e. Natural Disasters and Conflicts – like Mali and Somalia. Think Long Term and Push Politicians.
(3) The Peace and Security Agenda. . . . Mali, Syria, DPRK. We Must Do More for the Cases we Failed to Prevent. The UN is just One of Many Actors
(4) Transitions towards Democracy at Large. Democracy Like the Start of the Arab Spring. Economy Like in Myanmar.
(5) Promoting The Participation of Women and Promoting the Opposition to Violence Against Women. Bring in the Voice of Young People.
Michele Griffin, of UN Policy Planing in the Secretariat, stressed that Korea brings in something of a MIDDLE POWER. It is not one of the BRICS but it is well ahead of Developing Countries.
In this context it is important to realize that the World is changing and shifting away from the Western Countries to some of the Middle Powers, and we need to have a greater number of such actors. These Middle Powers can start thinking now of the UN as their UN, said Michele Griffin.
She added that Migration, Climate Change, are problems that were brought up by the West, and in order to tackle them the West needs the Middle Powers on-board. We figure on our Website that besides Korea, to this group belong now Indonesia, Turkey and Mexico.
Ambassador Shin Dong-ik, Deputy Permanent Representative of Korea to the UN reminded us that Korea will chair the UN Security Council during the month of February 2013, and will have in its turn a second month of chairmanship later on.
He also reminded us that the Republic of Korea joined the UN only in 1991 – that was when both Koreas were accepted in one agreed upon move.
He stressed that his country does not want to be held hostage to this sort of balanced steps involving North Korea. Korea is one of 5 members of the Council that signed the Syrian document. This means Korea wants to go global and it includes an aspiration for nuclear disarmament.
At the UN Security Council – most of the agenda – over 70% – involves Africa.
He repeated that Sustainable Development and UN Women are issues very close to the UNSG and to the Republic of Korea as well. Korea was for Human Rights in Myanmar and for Women Rights.
Frank Schroeder of the Climate Change support team in the UN Secretariat, addressed the topic of Green Climate Fund established recently in Inchon, and intent in mobilizing $100 Billion by 2020 to be used in creating the momentum on Climate Change. It is not fully operationalized yet. When Korea became host to the plenary, by consensus, Korea’s argument was that CC is not only a challenge, but also rather an opportunity to create growth.
Korea was a bridge between the Developed & Developing World. The Fund’s Board will have ti create a business model and decide on the role of the private sector.
On January 22nd 2013, the UN Secretary General addressed the General Assembly – spoke about the achievements in 2012 and his hopes for 2013.
He followed up by saying that his hope is that “we can stop moving from crisis to crisis, from symptom to sympton, and instead address the underlying causes and inter-relationships, and recognize the flaws in many of our approaches.” He called on removal of the “Tyranny of the Status Quo” that constitutes “the brake on our common progress.”
The UNSG declared the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development as an important step forward. That was followed by the December meeting in Doha that he said put climate change negotiations back on track. We wonder about that but hope that he can hold to his promise to engage world leaders individually and collectively next year to mobilize political will for a robust, global and legally binding climate change instrument by 2015.
With the UNSG and President Obama singing from the same page on the issue of Climate Change, we thus hope that finally something can be achieved in the future, though we are skeptical about saying that much has been achieved to-date.
Following a track on the post-2015 development agenda, and a new phase in the MDGs with SDGs becoming the new actualization of efforts for progress, constitutes already a program that has promise. The Open Working Group tasked January 22nd by the UNGA, with advancing action towards implementing a Rio+20 recommendation to develop a set of sustainable development goals, is the first UN move since the June 2012 Rio Conference in the direction of “THE FUTURE WE WANT.”
Above agenda and a list of SDGs could then be the input to the Panel of Eminent People established by the Rio+20 review that looks at the creation of a new UN structure to take the place of the Commission for Sustainable Development – the outgoing UN CSD – and as we feel – the way to a recommendation for implementation of the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) concept for true sustainability. It would be a pity if all that intense work by the Brazilian diplomats in 2012, in the run-up to the Rio meeting, will be allowed to go to waste.
UNSG Ban Ki-moon, who has difficulty doing business with the permanent missions in New York, finds it much more promissing when he travels to Davos, Switzerland. From Davos the UNSG also Addressed by video the Commemoration of the Holocaust and of Rescuers – those few that refused to denny their own humanity.
Take for instance the problem called Syria that after 60,000 people killed, and hundreds of thousands displaced, during 2011-2012 continuing now in the same way - or a two years of disaster – still does not move the UN Security Council seat-holders to find a way to control the centripetal forces in that Member State.
Arriving to Davos on Thursday morning – to the World Economic Forum – first action of Mr. Ban Ki-moon took was to deliver a special address focusing on Syria and the African Sahel region. The address was noticed by governments, business, and civil society. A unity must be found that allows meaningful action and humanitarian and political efforts must be given security cover. He met the Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in this context. He also spoke at a meeting on water resources and connected the events in the North Africa – Middle East MENA States to active effects of drought and Climate Change and people migration that spill over to neighboring States that also suffer from environmental degradation.
On the one end of this arc of destruction – by fighting people and by disaster creating activities elsewhere – Mr. Ban Ki-moon met with the Prime Minister of Lebanon – H.E. Mr. Najib Milkati, and a large group of US Members of Congress from the Republican Party – Messrs. Eric Cantor (Virginia), Jeff Fortenberry (Nebraska), Mario Diaz-Balart (Florida), Darrell Issa (Californis), and Ms Kay Granger (Texas). With this unusual group questions of Human Rights and UN reform were as important as the Middle East Peace Process between Israel and its neighbors, as the unrest in the Sahel region on the other side of the MENA arc of destruction and its neighbors of the Horn of Africa, Central Africa, and West Africa.
Regarding Mali, Mr. Ban warned that the crisis is deepening with repeated reports of sexual violence, child soldiers, and reprisals by the Malian army against Tuareg and Arab populations. The African story repeats itself now also in the Western part of the Sahel. A toxic mix of poverty, extreme climatic conditions, weak institutions, drug smuggling, and the easy availability of weapons, is causing now also in this rather new region the dangerous insecurity we know from the other parts of MENA and its neighboring States.
The UNSG came to Davos in order to tell to whoever will listen that the problems of Mali engulf 18 million people of the Sahel, and if we want to address the problems – the whole set of problems will have to be addressed. Ditto when looking at Darfur and the region stretching into the Horn of Africa.
Mr. Ban took a look also at Egypt and Bahrain and expressed his wishes that these two States do not regress into difficult situations as well.
Regarding Mr. Saddam Hussein’s Iraq misadventure into Kuwait, the UN panel allocated from Iraq funds the equivalent of $1.3 billion as reparations to Kuwait.
While the UNSG was making these presentations to leaders, academics, and business tycoons in Davos, his Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, Mr.Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal presented the Ban Ki-moon video address to the 2013 International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, in the UN General Assembly Hall at the New York City Headquarters of the UN. This year’s Memorial Ceremony was held under the secondary title: “THE COURAGE TO CARE.”
The Holocaust, though a very special event without anything in human history to compare it with, according to Mr. Jan Karski, one of the “Righteous Among the Nations” by the Jerusalem Yad Vashem, for his efforts to inform the World of the extermination of the Jews activities of the Nazis of the German Reich, ought nevertheless be remembered when watching crimes performed in full TV light before our eyes and right in front of us.
Jan Karski was awarded posthumously, by President Obama in 2012, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom. and the UN lobby has now an exhibit on display about him as his book “Story of a Secret State” was released this year with details of US inaction while he provided information of what was going on in Europe during WWII. He started out as a Polish Nationalist, but even though faced with the dismemberment of the Polish State – he recognized that what was happening to the Jews was immensely worse.
The US Lobby is displaying as well material about the Holocaust, the extermination machine and the Righteous people who even by saving the life of just one Jew – got themselves the right to be considered as if they saved the whole world. Considering that the UN is ever so often visited by Holocaust deniers, and the UN continuously watching crimes being committed by member States – the event at Headquarters was at least just as important, if not more, as what the UNSG was trying to achieve in Davos.
We bring thus the text of the UNSG video presentation to those assembled at the UN General Assembly Hall on Friday, January 25, 2013.
25 January 2013
Secretary-General, in Memorial Message for Holocaust Victims Day, Hails‘Unsung Heroes’ Who Risked All to Help Targets of Persecution.
The original title was:
VIDEO MESSAGE ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF COMMEMORATION IN MEMORY OF THE VICTIMS OF THE HOLOCAUST.
Airing 25 January 2013
It is a great pleasure to greet all the good friends of the United Nations who have gathered for this observance of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. I welcome in particular the Holocaust survivors and World War II veterans who have joined this solemn ceremony.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Courage is a rare and precious commodity. Today, we celebrate those who had the courage to care. Throughout the Second World War, Jews, Roma and Sinti, Soviet prisoners of war and others who failed to conform to Hitler’s perverted ideology of Aryan perfection were systematically murdered in death camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau.
But some were able to avoid the slaughter. They escaped because a few brave souls risked their lives and their families to rescue Jews and other victims of persecution from almost certain death. Some sheltered the intended victims in their homes; others helped families to obtain safe passage.
Some of the accounts of the rescuers have achieved iconic prominence. But many are known only to those whose lives were saved. This year’s observance is meant to give those unsung heroes the regard they deserve. I thank the Righteous among the Nations Programme at Yad Vashem, which is celebrating its fiftieth year, for identifying and rewarding them. The Holocaust and the United Nations programme has produced an education package on the rescuers that will be used in classrooms around the world.
I also congratulate another crucial partner, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, on its twentieth anniversary. Its theme of “Never Again: What You Do Matters” resonates deeply.
Acts of genocide illustrate the depths of evil to which individuals and whole societies can descend. But the examples of the brave men and women we celebrate today also demonstrate the capacity of humankind for remarkable good, even during the darkest of days.
On this International Day, let us remember all the innocent people who lost their lives during the Holocaust. And let us be inspired by those who had the courage to care — the ordinary people who took extraordinary steps to defend human dignity. Their example is as relevant today as ever.
In a world where extremist acts of violence and hatred capture the headlines on an almost daily basis, we must remain ever vigilant. Let us all have the courage to care, so we can build a safer, better world today.
The UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon had a great day today – from bottom to top. He got a brand new 2013 specially built armored Hyundai EQUUS in the UN drive-way and back his renewed 38-th floor rooms. How better can it get?
Equus is a play by Peter Shaffer written in 1973, telling the story of a psychiatrist who attempts to treat a young man who has a pathological religious fascination with horses.
Shaffer was inspired to write Equus when he heard of a crime involving a 17-year-old who blinded six horses in a small town near Suffolk, England. He set out to construct a fictional account of what might have caused the incident, without knowing any of the details of the crime. The play’s action is something of a detective story, involving the attempts of the child psychiatrist, Dr. Martin Dysart, to understand the cause of the boy’s actions while wrestling with his own sense of purpose.
The stage show ran in London between 1973 and 1975: later came the Broadway productions that starred Anthony Hopkins as Dysart, (later played by Richard Burton and Anthony Perkins) and from the London production, Peter Firth as Alan.
However, numerous other issues inform the narrative. Most important are religious and ritual sacrifice themes, and the manner in which character Alan Strang constructs a personal theology involving the horses and the supreme godhead, “Equus”. Alan sees the horses as representative of God and confuses his adoration of his “God” with sexual attraction. Also important is Shaffer’s examination of the conflict between personal values and satisfaction and societal mores, expectations and institutions. In reference to the play’s classical structure, themes and characterization, Shaffer has discussed the conflict between Apollonian and Dionysian values and systems in human life.
What must cross everyone’s mind today is the idea that some great playwright is already working on the Sandy Hook Elementary School’s anti-hero Adam Lanza story.
Equus is the zoologist’s name for a horse and the modern domesticated horse is equus caballus. It is assumed that the first domesticated horses were in what is today Kazakhstan.
White horses are associated with the Pegasus myth, the unicorn in the Babylonian myth of Gilgamesh, Arabian horses, Lipizzaner stallions, Shetland ponies, and Icelandic pony populations.
The partnership between horse and master in antiquity rested on many factors; perhaps the most important was that the horse provided man with his quickest means of overland movement.
When Athenian society was first organized for political reasons into three classes according to birth and wealth, the horse-owners or cavalrymen (hippeis) occupied the top rung of society. After Solon’s constitutional reforms in 592/91 BC, they were moved to the second of five classes which were by then determined solely on the basis of wealth. The social preeminence of horse owners continued, however, to be reflected over and over again in scenes on Attic vases showing Athenian men with their horses engaged in hunting, riding in the countryside, and other leisure time activities.
In Rome - A Knight (Latin eques): title of members of the elite of the Roman republic – they owned an equus. Under the empire, they were ‘second tier’, after the senators.
In ancient Roman religion, the October Horse (Latin Equus October) was an animal sacrifice to Mars carried out on October 15, coinciding with the end of the agricultural and military campaigning season. The rite took place during one of three horse-racing festivals held in honor of Mars, the others being the two Equirria on February 27 and March 14.
Two-horse chariot races (bigae) were held in the Campus Martius, the area of Rome named for Mars, after which the right-hand horse of the winning team was transfixed by a spear, then sacrificed. The horse’s head (caput) and tail (cauda) were cut off and used separately in the two subsequent parts of the ceremonies: two neighborhoods staged a fight for the right to display the head, and the still-bleeding cauda was carried to the Regia to sprinkle on the sacred hearth of Rome.
Ancient references to the Equus October are scattered over more than six centuries: the earliest is that of Timaeus (3rd century BC), who linked the sacrifice to the Trojan Horse and the Romans’ claim to Trojan descent, with the latest in the Calendar of Philocalus (354 AD), where it is noted as still occurring, even as Christianity was becoming the dominant religion of the Empire. Most scholars see an Etruscan influence on the early formation of the ceremonies.
The October Horse is the only instance of horse sacrifice in Roman religion; the Romans typically sacrificed animals that were a normal part of their diet. The unusual ritual of the October Horse has thus been analyzed at times in light of other Indo-European forms of horse sacrifice, such as the Vedic ashvamedha and the Irish ritual described by Giraldus Cambrensis, both of which have to do with kingship. Although the ritual battle for possession of the head may preserve an element from the early period when Rome was ruled by kings, the October Horse’s collocation of agriculture and war is characteristic of the Republic. The sacred topography of the rite and the role of Mars in other equestrian festivals also suggest aspects of initiation and rebirth ritual. The complex or even contradictory aspects of the October Horse probably result from overlays of traditions accumulated over time.
The Trojan Horse
Timaeus (3rd century BC) attempted to explain the ritual of the October Horse in connection with the Trojan Horse – an attempt mostly regarded by ancient and modern scholars as “hardly convincing.” As recorded by Polybius (2nd century BC),
Plutarch (d. 120 AD) also offers a Trojan origin as a possibility, noting that the Romans claimed to have descended from the Trojans and would want to punish the horse that betrayed the city. Festus said that this was a common belief, but rejects it on the same grounds as Polybius.
Walter Burkert has suggested that while the October Horse cannot be taken as a sacrificial reenactment against the Trojan Horse, there may be some shared ritualistic origin, since the success of the Trojan Horse depended on its being taken as a votive offering or dedication for a deity. For instance, the spear that the Trojan priest Laocoön drives into the side of the wooden horse is paralleled by the spear used by the officiating priest at the October sacrifice. The Romans did hold ritual equestrian games that commemorated their claim to Trojan origins; see Lusus Troiae.
WE WENT HERE AT LENGTH TO FIGURE OUT THE IMPORTANCE OF EQUUS IN GRECO-ROMAN CULTURE BECAUSE WE HEARD FROM THE SOUTH KOREAN TEAM THAT PRESENTED EQUUS TO THE UN SECRETARY GENERAL THAT THE CAR IS CALLED EQUUS AFTER THE VICTORIOUS HORSE OF THE WARRIOR OF OLD. IN HIS RESPONSE THE UNSG THANKED AMBASSADOR KIM SOO AND CHAIRMAN Chung Mong-koo MENTIONING THE RESPONSIBLE MEASURES AND SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES UNDER THE GLOBAL COMPACT.
2013 Hyundai Equus – Don’t let its luxury and appeal distract you from its impressive value.
Also, to fill out the picture – we have here extracts from the Inner City Press reporting by Matthew Russell Lee – one of the very few journalists present.
His title: As UN Ban Given Hyundai & Champagne by South Korea, Ad & Legal Qs
UNITED NATIONS, December 17, 2012 — UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon accepted an armored Hyundai sedan from South Korea’s Ambassador Kim Sook on Monday afternoon, along with a glass of champagne.
Ambassador Kim Sook said the car had taken one year to customize, and is named Equus, which he translated as “horse of victorious general” — in this case, Secretary General. Photo here.
South Korea joins the UN Security Council next month; when Inner City Press asked Ambassador Kim Sook last week if he spoke in the closed door meeting on North Korea’s launch, he memorably quipped that until January 1, “I have no mouth.”
The car had a red bow on the hood, like in television commercials. Ban gave an engraved dish to a Hyundai executive.
Staff members contacted Inner City Press to ask about the legality. “We’re told by Ban’s office we can’t accept even a bottle of wine from our Missions,” one complained. “And he takes a car?”
In attendance was Ban’s top lawyer Patricia O’Brien, whom Inner City Press has repeatedly asked to hold a press conference and answer questions. But Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky, also in attendance, most recently said no, that is highly unlikely.
The champagne, at a car ceremony, seemed to Inner City Press a false note, not in the spirit of Don’t Drink and Drive messaging. Photo here.
Some might call this a cheap shot. Others might wonder why the UN chose to publicize this handover. Hyundai’s and South Korea’s motives would be easier to grasp.
While there was no informational hand-out at the event, held in a tent in front of the UN’s North Lawn building, putting the best face on it once imagines that it is a gift to the UN, which should stay with the UN when Ban Ki-moon moves on. But staff remain confused, expressing anger to Inner City Press.
More generally, this may represent a new low in the corporatization of the UN.
How will the video footage, including Ban Ki-moon praising the Hyundai “family,” be used? Are there any restrictions?
But whatever – this was a good day for Mr. Ban Ki-moon and his beloved UN as it also provided a move upwards:
Also parts from Matthew Russell Lee – As UN Re-opens 38th Floor, Banning Press & Elections Allowed by UNCA
UNITED NATIONS - With UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon moving back into the 38th floor office in the glass skyscraper on December 17, 2012 the lack of focus on access and even space for the press has become clear.
Under the UN’s Capital Master Plan, Ban moved to the temporary North Lawn building, and the press corps was moved into smaller space in cubicles above the Dag Hammarskjold Library.
As Inner City Press exclusively reported, and opposed, the UN had installed monitoring cameras over reporters’ cubicles. (These were then taken down.)
Now as Ban moves back to the 38th floor, the press corps will remain in the cubicles over the library at least until February.
And after a December 10 meeting, not announced in advance to other reporters and even not to all UN Correspondents Association members in the Executive Committee, between a handful of UNCA insiders and the UN, it emerged later (only to UNCA members) that media space will be reduced by more than forty percent.
Now they prepare a $250 a plate reception with Ban Ki-moon on December 19th, giving prizes to their own Executive Committee members and an award to Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Even just on space, while it might be one thing for Western wire services to be guaranteed the largest offices and other privileges, why should their personnel who rarely report on the UN have easier “Resident” access than developing world journalists who have covered the UN for years?
Then, are there not media present at the UN that do not get recognition from the UN DPI under a pretext that they are merely Social Media or are closely related to NGOs? That at a time the UN waxes about its openness to Civil Society? Will the UN note that it is these new media that are the real media of the 21st century?
On December 7, 2012, to combat all this and to push for UN Under Secretaries-General like Ban’s lawyer Patricia O’Brien and Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous to have to hold briefings and answer questions, the Free UN Coalition for Access or FUNCA was launched.
The complaints are real and merit attention. We clearly will follow this to much more detail and we understand that quite a few people at the UN are following these developments closely as well. It seems that the newly created FUNCA is destined to become the alternate information distribution pipeline from matters of the UN.
A Complete Inner City Press Additional Posting of today that seems to point out that there is a Spring awakening at the UN information pipelines.
At UN, Return to 38th Floor Presented as Almost Religious, Media Silence.
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, December 17 — It was an almost religious experience, or treated like one, when UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon moved back into the 38th floor of The Organization’s skyscraper Monday morning. Video here and below.
Inner City Press and a dozen other media arrived at 8 am and waited, first in the checker board floored lobby then up in the renovated 38th floor. There, wood paneled walls were now white, and the conference table had retractable microphones. All this for $2 billion and counting. Photo here.
Workmen wiped the doorknobs clean; UN cameramen set up. Finally at 8:45 am Ban Ki-moon and his team came in. Photo here.
There was chief of staff Susana Malcorra, a hard worker recently seen defending the blacking out of portions of Ban’s second report on the UN’s actions and inaction in Sri Lanka while 40,000 people were killed in 2009.
Malcorra also met with the M23 rebels in Eastern Congo, a region Ban’s chief of Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous refuses to answer Press questions about, video here.
There was Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson, a long time humanitarian now in charge of Ban’s third study of failure in Sri Lanka, due in the second quarter of 2013.
There was chief of management Yukio Takasu, who sources tell Inner City Press stopped the naming of a technical expert to the Chief Information Technology Officer post in favor of “a politician,” after member states’ outrage at the UN’s failure to even e-mail them during Hurricane Sandy.
In his office-opening remarks, Ban said all the right things: he thanked Barack Obama and Michael Bloomberg and other member states; he thanked the recipient of the $2 billion dollars, Skanska. (Afterward some reporters asked if he hadn’t called them Skanka, and what it might mean.)
One might have asked, was it worth $2 billion and the suspension if not snuffing out of the UN’s culture? What lessons have been learned, and what changes will be made, after Hurricane Sandy?
But in the past year, the UN press corps has in a sense been reduced to repeating UN statements, and covering outside events like Sandy and the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.
Meanwhile the UN Correspondents Association executive committee, after spending a year trying to expel the investigative Press and allowing the UN to reduce media space by over 40%, now intends to violate its own Constitution and not hold elections in 2012, and not leave office as required on December 31, 2012.
Ban, through his spokesman Martin Nesirky, has been asked about this.
Ban will hold his end of the year press conference on December 19. If the past is any kind, Nesirky will give the first question automatically to the UNCA executive committee. He and therefore Ban have been asked about this as well.
But since later on December 19 he will celebrate UNCA and their awardee Arnold Schwarzenegger, it may seem easier just to go along. It usually does.
On December 7, to combat all this and to push for UN Under Secretaries-General like Ban’s lawyer Patricia O’Brien and Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous to have to hold briefings and answer questions, the Free UN Coalition for Access or FUNCA was launched. Watch that site.
Ladsous has refused to answer questions for example about working with units of the Congolese Army accused of rape in Minova, video here, and of UN Peacekeeping’s dealings with General Shavendra Silva of the Sri Lankan Army, depicted by a UN report as engaged in war crimes.
Silva was sponsored by the UNCA Executive Committee to deny these charges inside the UN Dag Hammarskhold Library Auditorium, click here for fall-out.
On December 14, the UNCA Executive Committee announced that it was putting off the elections that its own Constitution requires it to hold by December 15, before leaving office and power on December 31.
Here’s from UNCA’s Constitution, Article 3, Section 3:
“The members of the Executive Committee shall assume their duties on the first day of January following the election and shall hold office until the last day of December of the year. Elections of the Executive committee shall be held between November 15 and December 15.”
Despite this, they say they intend to hold over. But legally, they have no powers, including to run elections, after December 31.
The question has been put to UNCA’s president, who has not provided any answer, as also happened when the evidence of the dis-acceditation push by three Executive Committee members and UNCA itself was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (a version of which FUNCA asks the UN to adopt.)
Will this blatant UNConstitutional violation of election rules be brought up on or before December 19 by Ban Ki-moon or UN Ambassadors, particularly those like France which talk so much about democracy in other countries like Cote d’Ivoire, before they party with UNCA?
Earlier on December 19, Ban has scheduled his “end of the year” press conference. At such events, his spokesman tightly controls questions, and until now has always given the first question to UNCA. Should that continue on December 19? Can it? The questions have been raised to the UN.
The EQUUS Advertisement campaign:
The 2013 Hyundai® Equus —- Customize your Hyundai® 2013 Equus —- See Photos, Specs, Quotes & More!
UPDATED: South Korea, Australia, Luxemburg won – Cambodia, Finland, Bhutan lost. First posting said: Bhutan, Cambodia, and South Korea compete for an Asian seat at the Security Council Table, so do Australia, Finland, and Luxemburg compete for a “Western European and Others Group” Seat.
FIRST Posted on October 13th it was like:
For SC Seat Cambodia Rep Contrasts “Rich” South Korea of Ban Ki-moon and Idealistic Bhutan.
By Matthew Russell Lee, an Exclusive of Inner City Press.
UNITED NATIONS, October 11, updated — In the race for one UN Security Council seat among South Korea, Cambodia and Bhutan many assume that Seoul’s financial pledges and having Ban Ki-moon already in place as Secretary General guarantees that country victory.
On Thursday morning in front of the General Assembly as Inner City Press covered the other race — Australia, Finland and Luxembourg — a Cambodian duo sat on a couch behind the stakeout campaigning. There was a small wooden box on the table in front of their couch.
They summoned over an African Permanent Representative and met with him for some time. Then they summoned over Inner City Press.
“Who do you think will win?” was the question. Inner City Press related what it has heard, that despite Bhutan’s “cute” campaign around the theme of Happiness, South Korea was campaigning in the same way they did to get Ban Ki-moon elected Secretary General.
The lead Cambodia campaigner, who gave Inner City Press his business card and said it was fine to report on the meeting, said that Ban as Secretary General should count AGAINST South Korea.
“It’s too much,” he said. “I’m hearing about the Koreanization of the UN.” He paused. “Some day we’ll come here and it will be nothing but Samsung.”
“This should not just be about money,” he said. “It should be about values”…
Inner City Press asked about the spats between Cambodia and the UN, particularly its human rights office in the country. He smiled and said, the UN is free to be in our country, and we are free to comment, that is democracy.
He called Bhutan’s Happiness campaign “idealistic,” contrasting it with real world concerns like peacekeeping. He snarked that India, which is supporting Bhutan, just wanted allies on the Security Council as it leaves in December.
Inner City Press asked about the border dispute with Thailand; he said that would be no problem. [There was a reference to another candidate's dispute, and a later granted request to remove.]
It would be good to have more public campaigning and even debating for these Security Council seat, and other UN posts. This reporting is in that spirit.
The Cambodia campaigner, we will then report, was and is Hor Nam Bora, whose job outside New York is listed on his business card as the country’s London-based Ambassador to UK, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Norway and Sweden. After first publication he noted he’s also Special Envoy of the Prime Minister and Ambassador to Ethiopia and to the African Union.
Covering that many countries is indicative of Cambodia’s lower budget than South Korea. But, he argued, people want smaller or poorer states to be on the Security Council. He said the meeting could and even should be reported on. He said, “Help us.” Does this?
We think Bhutan and Australia are the best choices the body of the UN could make if the intent were to bring in fresh ideas to the Security Council.
September 10, 2012 – TODAY’S TOP STORIES of the JAPAN TIMES online:
LATEST OP-ED STORIES:
By RALPH COSSA
The political leadership in Tokyo and Seoul apparently has never learned a cardinal rule of diplomacy: When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.
By PAVIN CHACHAVALPONGPUN
ASEAN has assiduously sought to assuage tensions between Japan and China by giving both more room to maneuver so that each feels less victimized.
By FRANK CHING
Although Japan and China re-established diplomatic ties 40 years ago, their territorial dispute over uninhabited islets has left them loath to celebrate.
AND FROM CHINA DAILY:
President Hu Jintao urged the Japanese government on Sunday to realize the seriousness of the tension over the Diaoyu Islands and stop ”nationalization”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday dismissed any talk of a trade war with Europe over a European Commission competition investigation into state-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom.