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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.



Posted on on December 10th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

IISS-US Panel Discussion
East Asia’s Maritime Disputes and the US Rebalance.

Christian Le Mière
Research Fellow for Naval Forces and Maritime Security, IISS

Michael McDevitt
Senior Fellow, Center for Naval Analyses

Ely Ratner
Fellow, Center for a New American Security

Thursday, December 13, 2012
Refreshments 4:45 pm – 5:00 pm
Discussion 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm

2121 K Street, NW

Suite 801

Washington, DC 20037

Please RSVP by following this link.

The panelists will address East Asia’s maritime disputes in the context of the US rebalance to Asia. The discussion will cover the future of the rebalance, naval strategy, and A2/AD.

Mr. Le Mière is Research Fellow for Naval Forces and Maritime Security at the IISS. He is responsible for maritime analysis for the Institute’s flagship Military Balance and is currently working on a book about the South China Sea for the Institute’s Adelphi series. He was the editor of Jane’s Intelligence Review and Jane’s Intelligence Weekly until he joined the Institute in 2010. Mr. Le Mière studied Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the University of Oxford and holds an MA in War Studies from King’s College London.

Rear Admiral Michael McDevitt, US Navy (Ret.) is a Senior Fellow with CNA Strategic Studies. During his navy career, McDevitt spent his operational time in the Pacific, including a two year assignment in Sasebo, Japan. He held four at-sea commands, including an aircraft carrier battle-group. He was the Director of the East Asia Policy office for the Secretary of Defense during the George H.W. Bush Administration. He also served for two years as the Director for Strategy, War Plans and Policy (J-5) for US CINCPAC. McDevitt concluded his 34 year active duty career as the Commandant of the National War College in Washington, DC. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California and holds his Master’s Degree in US Diplomatic History in East Asia from Georgetown University.

Dr. Ely Ratner is a Fellow at the Center for a New American Security focusing on US national security strategy in Asia, China’s foreign relations in the region, and the US-China bilateral relationship. Prior to joining CNAS, he was a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow serving in the Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs at the State Department as the lead political officer covering China’s external relations in Asia. Dr. Ratner received his PhD in Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley and his BA from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

This meeting will be moderated by Randolph Bell,
Managing Director, IISS

IISS-US, 2121 K Street NW, Suite 801, Washington, DC 20037



Posted on on October 24th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

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.


Posted on on September 10th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

September 10, 2012 – TODAY’S TOP STORIES of the JAPAN TIMES online:

Noda speaks with China, South Korea leaders, seeks to view disputes from ‘broad viewpoints’
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told Chinese President Hu Jintao on Sunday that Tokyo wants to handle rising tensions between the two countries over the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea “from broad viewpoints.”
[MORE] ->

Clinton says U.S. will do what it can to calm East Asia territorial rows

Putin expresses desire to settle all pending issues with Japan

Japan seeks to resume talks with North Korea soon

New energy policy postponed amid lack of consensus

Tens of thousands converge in Okinawa to protest Osprey deployment
Tens of thousands of people gathered for a rally in Okinawa on Sunday to protest against the planned deployment of U.S. Ospreys in the prefecture in the face of a series of problems involving the tilt-rotor military aircraft.
[MORE] ->


Tokyo-Seoul: enough is enough!


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.

Will ASEAN step up to try to bridge Japan-China rift?


ASEAN has assiduously sought to assuage tensions between Japan and China by giving both more room to maneuver so that each feels less victimized.

Nationalists making waves in Japan-China ties


Although Japan and China re-established diplomatic ties 40 years ago, their territorial dispute over uninhabited islets has left them loath to celebrate.



President Hu: Tokyo ‘must realize this is serious’

President Hu Jintao urged the Japanese government on Sunday to realize the seriousness of the tension over the Diaoyu Islands and stop “nationalization”.

Putin rules out trade war with EU

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.

More Top Stories

China has major role in world economic recovery

‘Foreign investment, capital’ spur growth

China welcomes FDI and encourages ODI


Posted on on September 8th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

IBS 2012 – The 15-th International Biotechnology Symposium and Exhibition – Sunday, 16 September 2012 – Friday, 21 September 2012.

IBS 2012 aims at gathering actors of diverse fields of biotechnology around the theme  “Innovative Biotechnology for Green World and Beyond” –   in the 21st century.
The IBS2012 meeting will take place in Daegu (Korea) in September 2012, bringing together actors in sciences, engineering, business and government.



Dear Friends from Academia and Industry,

We are very pleased and proud to host the 16th International Biotechnology Symposium and Exhibition (IBS 2014), in the sunny city of Fortaleza, Northeast of Brazil, from September 14th to 19th, 2014.

It is also an honor to invite you to attend this Symposium, to participate and to provide your contribution to one of the most important international events on the field of Biotechnology. We are sure that this will be an excellent opportunity to exchange scientific experiences and to explore the innovations in the field of applied biotechnology and bioethics. Moreover, it will be a time to strengthen the relations between academia, industry, research laboratories, government agencies and the private sector, on such strategic subjects for a more secure, and sustainable future.

The aim of the 16th IBS edition is Biotechnology for the development of a Green Economy, which seems to be an excellent strategy for Latin America, especially to Brazil, due to its large biodiversity and land availability. This Symposium is organized under the auspices of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), and it is held every two years on a different continent.

The Organizing Committee is also working on a social program through which the participants could enjoy our colorful and diversified culture and the hospitality for which our city of Fortaleza is well known around the country.

We will do our best to make your participation in the conference most fruitful and your visit to Brazil most pleasant.

Hoping to see you all come and join us,

José Osvaldo Beserra Carioca

Eduardo falabella Sousa-Aguiar
General Secretary


Posted on on August 20th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

First Chinese ship crosses Arctic Ocean amid record melt.

First Chinese ship crosses Arctic Ocean amid record melt Photo: China Daily
A general view shows Chinese ice breaker ship ”Xuelong”, also called ”Snow Dragon”, docking at Tianjin November 3, 2011.
Photo: China Daily

An icebreaker has become the first ship from China to cross the Arctic Ocean, underscoring Beijing’s growing interest in a remote region where a record thaw caused by climate change may open new trade routes.

The voyage highlights how China, the world’s no.2 economy, is extending its reach to the Arctic which is rich in oil and gas and is a potential commercial shipping route between the north Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

The icebreaker Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, arrived in Iceland this week after sailing the Northern Route along the coast of Russia.

Expedition leader Huigen Yang, head of the Polar Research Institute of China, said he had expected a lot more ice along the route at this time of year than the vessel encountered.

“To our astonishment … most part of the Northern Sea Route is open,” he told Reuters TV. The icebreaker would return to China by a route closer to the North Pole.

He said that Beijing was interested in the “monumental change” in the polar environment caused by global warming.

Sea ice floating on the Arctic Ocean is on track to beat a record low set in 2007, making the region more accessible but threatening the hunting lifestyles of indigenous peoples and wildlife such as polar bears and seals.

The thaw is slowly opening up the Arctic as a short-cut route – the German-based Beluga Group, for instance, sent a cargo vessel north from Korea to Rotterdam in 2009.


“The (Chinese) journey indicates a growing interest in the melting of the ice in the northern regions and how climate change is affecting the globe and the future of all nations,” the office of Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson said.

Arctic sea ice extent on August 13 fell to 5.09 million square km (1.97 million square miles) – an area smaller than Brazil, according to the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Sea ice reaches its smallest in September before expanding again as winter approaches. China has overtaken the United States as the top greenhouse gas emitter, mainly from burning fossil fuels, ahead of the European Union, India and Russia.

“China’s interest is a mix of business, science and geo-politics,” said Jan Gunnar Winther, director of the Norwegian Polar Institute.

For countries outside the region like China, there may be more opportunities to supply equipment to aid drilling, he said. South Korea’s Hyundai, for instance, is building a floating production unit for the Goliat oilfield in Norway’s Barents Sea.

Winther said that research into climate change in the Arctic was also relevant to China’s understanding of weather patterns that could affect its farmers.

China has applied to become an observer at the Arctic Council, made up of the United States, Russia, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland.

“The application will be handled in May next year,” said Nina Buvang Vaaja, head of the Arctic Council Secretariat.

Other applicants seeking to join the Council, which oversees management of the region, are Japan, South Korea, the European Union Commission and Italy. Germany, Britain, France, Poland, Spain and the Netherlands are already observers.

Date: 18-Aug-2012 – Reporting By Alister Doyle – Reuters.


Posted on on August 2nd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Olympic Ideal Takes Beating in Badminton.

It is not strange at all what happened, people will tend to take advantage of bad rules – it is the best (or the richest in Romney’s case) that can take advantage of bad rules – it seems that the rules were skewed in their favor in the first place.

From material on the New York Times website –  August 1, 2012:

On Tuesday night at the London Games, some of the world’s best badminton players hit some of the sport’s worst shots. Sad serves into the net. Returns that sailed far wide. Howls from the crowd were loud and instant, and the calls for investigation immediate.

On Wednesday, four women’s doubles teams — two from South Korea and one each from China and Indonesia — were disqualified. But the circumstances were complicated by the fact that the rules of the sport seemed to give the athletes an incentive to lose.

The eight players were found to have tried to lose their matches intentionally, apparently because they had determined that a loss would allow them to play a weaker opponent in the next round.

Badminton officials introduced a preliminary round at the Olympics this year so that each team could play at least three times and not risk traveling thousands of miles only to be eliminated in the first match. But athletes and coaches have always looked for any available advantage, including throwing a match to save energy or to face an easier opponent in the next round.

There was nothing subtle about how the four teams of players — all of whom had already qualified for the quarterfinals — performed Tuesday night. They repeatedly served into the net and hit shots well out of bounds. During one match, a Danish umpire took the drastic step of flashing a black card to warn the players that they could be thrown out.

The disqualifications threw the tournament into turmoil and prompted protests and calls for rule changes. Indonesia appealed the decision and then withdrew the appeal, while the South Koreans had their appeal denied after officials reviewed the matches, interviewed the umpires and spoke to the players.

The eight disciplined players, who were found to have not tried their best and to have conducted themselves “in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport,” had been scheduled to play Wednesday. After their sudden exits, they were replaced by women’s doubles teams from Australia, Canada, Russia and South Africa. No coaches or teams were penalized.


Though rare, examples exist for cases in which a quirk of a sport’s rules or competition format has given an athlete or team an incentive to lose — or at least not try hard.

In a World Cup soccer match in 1982, West Germany and Austria appeared to stop trying after West Germany took a 1-0 lead early in the game. Both teams knew that such a result would allow them to advance. That prompted soccer officials to mandate that the final games in a round-robin group-play format must all be played at the same time so teams could not know the outcome of other important matches.


The charges of match throwing have been biting, with teams from Western nations taking aim at their Asian counterparts, especially the Chinese.

Niels Nygaard, the president of the national Olympic committee in Denmark, which has some of the best badminton players in Europe, applauded the world federation’s decision and blamed the coaches, not the players, for the persistent match throwing.

“For me, it’s really a matter of principle whether things are done in a correct way,” Nygaard said after the announcement.

Still, the tactic of purposely losing has an inner logic that has been used in other sports like soccer and baseball.


When Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang from China lost to the South Koreans Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na on Tuesday, they were trying to avoid playing the world’s second-ranked women’s pair of Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei, from China. Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung of South Korea and Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii of Indonesia also tried to steer clear of high-level foes in the quarterfinals.

The Chinese did not appeal their suspension and defended their approach. “We would try hard in every match if they were elimination games,” Yu said. “Because they are group stage, that’s why we are conserving energy.”

Lin Dan, the top-ranked men’s singles player, stood by his Chinese teammates and blamed the federation for not anticipating that this strategy might be used. “Think in the U.K.: would your football team want to meet Spain in the first round?” he asked after winning a match on Wednesday. “Athletes think for themselves and would have their best interests at heart.”

“It’s perfectly legal but morally indefensible,” said John MacGloughlin, a Briton who has played club-level badminton for 30 years and paid almost $50 to attend Wednesday’s afternoon session. “At that level, you don’t do that.”

This being Britain, where a bet can be laid on practically any event, the question of whether the match was thrown for profit is reasonable. Kate Miller, a spokesman for William Hill, one of Britain’s largest betting companies, said her 200-person trading team did not spot any irregularities surrounding the match.

And badminton was not the only sport in which teams trotted through a preliminary-round game. On Tuesday, in Cardiff, Wales, the Japanese women’s soccer team, the 2011 World Cup champion, played to a scoreless tie against a much weaker South African side.

The tie, as opposed to a win, meant that the Japanese, who had already qualified for the knockout round, avoided having to travel to Glasgow to play France in the quarterfinals. Instead, they will remain in Cardiff and play Brazil.

Afterward, Norio Sasaki, Japan’s coach, said he put in substitutes and told them to keep possession of the ball. The players, he said, “were on the same page as me.”


And back to peole like Mitt Romney, please see the latest “CHECK THE LAW” successful event in Washington:

The House and Senate voted to close a loophole in an insider trading law that could have allowed lawmakers’ family members to profit from inside information.   CNN uncovered and reported on the loophole last month.

The STOCK Act, one of the rare bipartisan bills passed this year, was signed by President Barack Obama in April.

Someone sneaked into law “the possibility to cheat by law” by telling your wife to buy stocks based on your inside information – how neat indeed!


Posted on on May 28th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Address at Rio Earth Summit of 1992.

I am extremely happy and feel great honor to be with you here. My basic belief is that the purpose of our life is happiness, and happiness depends on its own basis. I believe the basic base, or the cause of happiness and satisfaction, is material and spiritual development.

Then again, human beings irrespective of our ability, knowledge, technology are basically a product of nature. So therefore, ultimately, our fate very much depends on nature.

In ancient times I think, when human ability was limited, we were very aware of the importance of nature; and so we respected nature. Then the time came when we developed through science and technology; and we had more ability. Now sometimes it seems people forget about the importance of nature. Sometimes we get some kind of wrong belief that we human beings can control nature with the help of technology. Of course, in certain limited areas we can to a certain extent. But with the globe as a whole it is impossible. Therefore now the time has come to be aware of the importance of nature, the importance of our globe. You see, one day we might find all living things on this planet- including human beings-are doomed.

I think one danger is that things like nuclear war are an immediate cause of concern so everybody realizes something is horrible. But damage to the environment happens gradually without much awareness. Once we realize something very obvious to everybody it may be too late. So therefore I think we must realize in time our responsibility to take care of our own world.

I often tell people that the moon and stars when remaining high in the sky look very beautiful, like an ornament. But if we really try to go and settle there on the moon, perhaps a few days may be very nice and some new experience may be very nice and some new experience may be very exciting. But, if we really remain there, I think within a few days we would get very homesick for our small planet. So this is our only home. Therefore, I think this kind of gathering concerning our environment and the planet is very useful, very important ‘and timely.

And of course things are not easy, so I don’t think all problems could be solved at once through such meetings. However, this kind of meeting is very helpful to open eyes.

So, once the human mind wakes up humans such intelligence, that we may find certain ways and means to solve problems. But sometimes we just take everything for granted and don’t care, and this kind of negligence is also a danger. So, such meetings on a critical situation, if approached with an open human mind and eyes, are important and useful. These are my feelings.

Thank you!


Posted on on May 1st, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

(Reuters) – SEOUL/SINGAPORE,  Thursday April 26, 2012 – South Korea will make sharp cuts in imports of Iranian crude from June as tightening Western sanctions make it impossible to secure insurance cover for tankers to ship the crude, industry and company sources said.South Korea is the latest in a growing list of customers that have slashed Iranian crude imports. China, Japan and India, the other key consumers who buy most of Tehran’s 2.2 million bpd of exports, have all cut purchases this year as sanctions make it impossible to pay, ship and insure the oil.


Posted on on March 21st, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Airline CO2 Friction Is Hint Of New Climate Politics.

Date: 22-Mar-12

Author: Gerard Wynn – (The author is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own.)

Threats of retaliation by China and India against a European Union plan to charge airlines for their carbon emissions is misplaced, given their weak legal case and a drift towards more such unilateral climate action.

Countries in Durban at the end of last year topped off years of lumbering U.N. talks by agreeing that a new climate protocol should come into force by 2020, with more vagueness about exactly what that should be, leaving a vacuum in national action in the meantime.

That slow rate of progress underscores how multilateral climate action has faded over the past decade.

It also underlines why it would be madness to expect the U.N. body, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), to galvanize global action to curb carbon emissions from passenger jets, as countries asked them to do 15 years ago.

It also explains why the European Union has grasped unilateral action to curb rapidly rising carbon emissions from aviation, and makes a nonsense of the central argument advanced by China, India, Russia and the United States, that ICAO should be given more time.

The broader failure of U.N. climate talks only makes such unilateral action more likely, if other countries – possibly including Australia, Japan, South Korea and Mexico – join the European Union in choosing to take firmer carbon curbs than those agreed internationally (if any). {We would suggest that President Obama could also join the EU, by EPA Presidential ruling, making the US part of this pro-action move.}

In that sense, the airline dispute is an experiment in an alternative climate politics.

The possible alternative to an international climate protocol is a forging of emissions curbs by willing countries, which in turn take punitive, border action against the rest, to protect their own industry.


In the first case of such border action on carbon emissions, the European Union has walked into a minefield with its determination to charge for carbon emissions on flights beyond its borders.

Yet threats of retaliation underscore the weak legal case of opposed countries.

Chinese authorities have suggested delaying orders for European Airbus passenger jets, according to Airbus itself, the most serious escalation so far if carried through.

The air is also thick with talk of trade war, a posturing out of proportion to the impact of the EU scheme on flight ticket prices or airline profits.

India is poised to urge its airlines to boycott the European Union’s carbon charge scheme, a senior Indian government official said.

The spat hinges on the EU’s legal case for taking unilateral action, and the technical detail of counting emissions beyond its airspace.

From January this year the EU entered aviation into its emissions trading scheme, where polluters have to buy permits for their CO2 emissions above a certain quota which they get free.

That includes emissions from the entire flights of non-EU carriers landing in or departing from Europe.

The bloc wants to curb the climate impact of rising emissions from aviation but protect its own carriers from unfair competition by requiring carbon emissions permits of everyone.


The EU will almost certainly stand firm and foreign carriers will pay up. The main prospect for compromise would be for the EU to relent and not count emissions outside its airspace, which at present seems unlikely.

The EU says it must include all emissions on a flight because it’s impractical to measure those only from the moment a plane enters European airspace. And that would also dilute the environmental purpose of the scheme since a large part of emissions are on take-off.

Regarding the notion that its charges are a tax on jet fuel (not allowed under the 1944 Chicago Convention on aviation), it says emissions permits are not the same thing because an airline can avoid paying at all if it undercuts its free quota by becoming more efficient.

On both these counts the bloc won a landmark case at the European Court of Justice in a judgment favoring Brussels against U.S. carriers last December.

The bloc of countries most wedded to a multilateral approach at the United Nations, the European Union, now feels compelled to use unilateral action.

The present spat could be a sign of things to come in climate politics, where progressive countries unite from the bottom up, at least until an over-arching treaty comes into force at the end of the decade.


Posted on on January 13th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

IHT Editorial –  FRIDAY THE 13th of January, 2012:    Back to the Robber Barons

The Supreme Court did enough damage by freeing corporations to make unlimited donations to independent groups. Now Republicans want to lift the ban on direct donations to candidates?



America Isn’t a Corporation – By PAUL KRUGMAN

What’s with the notion that this country needs a successful businessman as president? Making good economic policy isn’t at all like maximizing corporate profits.


The C.E.O. in Politics – By DAVID BROOKS

Does Mitt Romney’s success in business tell us anything about whether he would be a successful president?


The Washington Post Friday, January 13, 2012
newsletter header

Charles Krauthammer
–   Paul’s achievement –   Bringing his cause in from the fringe.


Michael Gerson –  Gingrich’s party of one –  He’s the Al Gore of the GOP.


Ruth Marcus –   Battle for America’s soul –  GOP aims to shred the social safety net.


David Ignatius –  Defusing a crisis with Iran –  Talk to the regime — quietly.


Robert J. Samuelson –    Romney’s private equity –  Will his business background help?


Howard P. “Buck” McKeon –  A blow to our military – Smaller isn’t necessarily smarter.


James Dobbins –   Negotiating peace in Afghanistan – It’s not a quick or easy way out.


Posted on on January 10th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

A Russian tanker is slogging through sea ice behind a Coast Guard icebreaker, trying to bring 1.3 million gallons of emergency gasoline and diesel to remote Alaska.

The New York Times
January 10, 2012
The New York Times

The Renda and the Healy are about 140 miles south of Nome.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally/U.S. Coast Guard, via Associated Press

The Healy, left, a Coast Guard icebreaker, carves a path in the frozen Bering Sea for the Renda, a Russian tanker carrying 1.3 million gallons of emergency gasoline and diesel for Alaska. Shipping delays and a major storm prevented Nome’s winter supply of fuel from arriving in early fall.

A New Race of Mercy to Nome, This Time Without Sled Dogs.

By Published via New York Times on-line January 9, 2012.

NOME, Alaska — In the winter of 1925, long after this Gold Rush boomtown on the Bering Sea had gone bust, diphtheria swept through its population of 1,400. Medicine ran dangerously low, and there was no easy way to get more. No roads led here, flight was ruled out and Norton Sound was frozen solid.

Parents still read books to their children about what happened next: Balto, Togo, Fritz and dozens more sled dogs sprinted through subzero temperatures across 674 miles of sea ice and tundra in what became known as the Great Race of Mercy. The medicine made it, Nome was saved and the Siberian huskies became American heroes.

Eighty-seven years later, Nome is again locked in a dark and frigid winter — a record cold spell has pushed temperatures to minus 40 degrees, cracked hotel pipes and even reduced turnout at the Mighty Musk Oxen’s pickup hockey games. And now another historic rescue effort is under way across the frozen sea.

Yet while the dogs needed only five and a half days, Renda the Russian tanker has been en route for nearly a month — and it is unclear whether she will ever arrive. The tanker is slogging through sea ice behind a Coast Guard icebreaker, trying to bring not medicine but another commodity increasingly precious in remote parts of Alaska: fuel, 1.3 million gallons of emergency gasoline and diesel to heat snow-cloaked homes and power the growing number of trucks, sport utility vehicles and snow machines that have long since replaced dogsleds.

For the moment, this latest tale appears less likely to produce a warm children’s book than an embarrassing memo, and maybe a few lawsuits, about how it all could have been avoided.

“People need to get fired over this,” said David Tunley, one of the few Musk Oxen at the outdoor rink on an evening when the temperature was minus 23. “The litigation of whose fault it is will probably go on forever.”

How Nome ended up short on fuel this winter is a complicated issue unto itself, but trying to get the Renda here to help has become a sub-Arctic odyssey — and perhaps a clunky practice run for a future in which climate change and commercial interests make shipping through Arctic routes more common.

“There is a lot of good knowledge that is coming out of this,” said Rear Adm. Thomas P. Ostebo, the officer in charge of the Coast Guard in Alaska.

The learning curve has been steep. Since leaving Vladivostok, Russia, on Dec. 17, the 370-foot Renda has encountered a fuel mix-up in South Korea and storms that prevented it from going to Japan; it has received a waiver of the Jones Act in the United States (to allow the foreign vessel to finally pick up gasoline in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, before transporting it to Nome) and broad support for its mission from Alaska’s Congressional delegation; it has been joined by the Coast Guard’s only operative icebreaker built for the Arctic, the Healy. It has had to alter its route to avoid the world’s most substantial population of a federally protected sea duck called the spectacled eider.

As of Monday, the Renda and the Healy were about 140 miles south of Nome, having made little progress from the night before. Wind, current and the brutal cold are causing complications with breaking what is known as first-year ice — the kind that forms each winter and melts in the summer as opposed to lasting year-round. As soon as the Healy breaks open a channel, ice closes in behind it, squeezing the Renda.

The Coast Guard has been among the most vocal government agencies in asking for more money and better equipment to deal with increased commercial activity in the Arctic and sub-Arctic. Admiral Ostebo said the Healy, a medium-duty icebreaker, was fully capable of making the trip to Nome but that using a heavy-duty polar icebreaker — the Coast Guard owns two: one is retired, the other under repair until at least 2014 — might have made a difference.

He said the Coast Guard had thought that having the Healy lead the Renda would have been easier, “but it turns out that the pressure that ice is under quite frankly makes it hard to move through for the Renda.” He said these were “conditions I think we’re going to see a lot in the future.”

If the Renda reaches Nome, it would be making the first maritime fuel delivery through sea ice in Alaska history. The effort comes as many interested parties are anticipating business that could develop as Shell plans to conduct new exploratory offshore oil drilling just north of here as early as this summer.

“These are not cowboys out here trying to do crazy things,” said Mark Smith, the chief executive of Vitus Marine, the Alaska company that proposed using the Renda to representatives for Nome. “All of the stakeholders involved in this mission look at it as a learning experience as they consider further development.”

Nome usually receives its winter supply of fuel in early fall, before ice hardens over the Bering. But last fall, multiple shipping delays and then a major storm prevented the fall shipment from arriving. Many people here blame Bonanza Fuel, one of two local companies that barge in fuel and the one that failed to ensure its fall delivery made it. But the fuel company’s owner blamed the barge company for delaying shipments.

“Certainly we’ll evaluate how this situation came together,” said Jason Evans, the chairman of the Sitnasuak Native Corporation, which owns Bonanza, “so that we’re not put in this situation and the community of Nome’s not put in this situation again.”

Officials say Nome could run out of heating oil by March. A normal fuel barge cannot make the trip until ice melts in June or July.

Dogs still pull sleds to Nome, in the annual Iditarod race each March, but there are still no roads here from outside. There are, however, more modern means of transportation. Mr. Evans said Nome could resort to flying in fuel through hundreds of small shipments but that shipping costs alone would be more than $3 per gallon. Fuel here already approaches $6. Conservation can only go so far.

“You have to heat your home when it’s 36 below,” he said.

The effort has prompted observers far and wide to comment on what it all means as the United States tries to figure out how to navigate the increasingly important Arctic. One question not to ask here: Regardless of how it came to this, is tiny Nome worth all the effort?

“Why should we be treated any differently than the Lower 48?” said Mayor Denise L. Michels, noting that the Coast Guard also escorts commercial shipments through ice and difficult conditions in the Great Lakes and off the East Coast. “We keep saying that we are an Arctic nation.”

A version of this article appeared in print on January 10, 2012, on page A10 of the New York edition with the headline: Race of Mercy To Icy Nome, But This Time No Sled Dogs.


Posted on on December 20th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (


Foto: Reuters/Korea News Service

Kim Jong-il gefiel es, sich zu inszenieren. Hier eine Aufnahme von den Feierlichkeiten seiner Machtübernahme.

Nordkoreas Staatschef Kim Jong-il ist tot

Foto: Reuters/Petar Kujundzic

69-Jähriger starb laut offiziellen Angaben an Herzinfarkt – Nachfolger soll jüngster Sohn Kim Jong-un werden – Südkorea versetzt Steitkräfte in Alarmbereitschaft
– Japan ruft Sicherheitsrat ein
– Begräbnis für 28. Dezember geplant


EDITORIAL   –  –  –

Death of a Dictator…

The death of Kim Jong-il is an opportunity for change. But the transition is a perilous moment that calls for coordination among the United States and its allies.


OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR to The New York Times/International Herald Tribune

China’s Newest Province?

By VICTOR CHA, Published: December 19, 2011

NORTH KOREA as we know it is over. Whether it comes apart in the next few weeks or over several months, the regime will not be able to hold together after the untimely death of its leader, Kim Jong-il. How America responds — and, perhaps even more important, how America responds to how China responds — will determine whether the region moves toward greater stability or falls into conflict.

Mr. Kim’s death could not have come at a worse time for North Korea. Economically broken, starving and politically isolated, this dark kingdom was in the midst of preparations to hand power over to his not-yet-30-year-old son, the untested Kim Jong-un. The “great successor,” as he has been dubbed by the state media, is surrounded by elders who are no less sick than his father and a military that chafed at his promotion to four-star general last year without having served a day in the army. Such a system simply cannot hold.

The transition comes at a time when the United States has been trying to get nuclear negotiations back on track. Those efforts have now been replaced by a scramble for plans to control loose nuclear weapons, should the regime collapse.

And yet Washington remains powerless. Any outreach to the young Mr. Kim or to other possible competitors could create more problems during the transition, and would certainly be viewed as threatening by China. Since Kim Jong-il’s stroke in 2008, the United States and South Korea have been working on contingency plans to deal with just such a situation, but they all thought they would have years, if not a decade.

The allies’ best move, then, is to wait and see what China does. Among China’s core foreign-policy principles is the maintenance of a divided Korean Peninsula, and so Beijing’s statements about preserving continuity of North Korea’s leadership should come as no surprise. Since 2008 it has drawn closer to the regime, publicly defending its leaders and investing heavily in the mineral mines on the Chinese-North Korean border.

But even as Beijing sticks close to its little Communist brother, there are intense debates within its leadership about whether the North is a strategic liability. It was one thing to back a hermetic but stable regime under Kim Jong-il; it will be harder to underwrite an untested leadership. For Xi Jinping, expected to become China’s president over the next year, the first major foreign policy decision will be whether to shed North Korea or effectively adopt it as a province.

All indications are that Beijing will pursue the latter course, in no small part because of a bias among its leadership to support the status quo, rather than to confront dramatic change. And yet “adopting” North Korea could be dramatic in itself. China may go all in, doling out early invitations and new assistance packages to the young Mr. Kim, conditioning them on promises of economic reform.

While some observers hope that Kim Jong-il’s death will unleash democratic regime change, China will work strongly against that possibility, especially if such efforts receive support from South Korea or the United States. Given that Beijing has the only eyes inside the North, Washington and Seoul could do little in response.

Yet even China’s best-laid plans may come apart. The assistance may be too little, too late, especially given the problems the new leadership will face. A clear channel of dialogue involving the United States, China and South Korea is needed now more than ever.

And yet such a dialogue is completely absent since Kim Jong-il’s stroke. Beijing has deflected every official and unofficial overture from Washington to have quiet discussions on potential North Korean instability. Before, China let its fears of Western interests get the better of it; wiser Chinese judgment should lead authorities to open such a channel now. The three sides should open with a conversation on all our fears about what could happen in a collapsing North — loose nukes, refugee flows, artillery attacks — and how each would respond.

With so little known about the inner workings of this dark kingdom, miscalculation by any side in response to developments inside the North is a very real possibility given the hair-trigger alerts of the militaries on the peninsula.

None of this will be easy. For China, the uncertainty surrounding North Korea comes against the backdrop of Mr. Obama’s “pivot” to Asia and assertion that the region is America’s new strategic priority. This has already created insecurities in Beijing that will make genuine dialogue with the United States even more challenging — and thus all the more necessary.


Victor Cha, a professor at Georgetown and author of the forthcoming book “The Impossible State: North Korea, Past, and Future,” was director of Asian affairs at the White House from 2004 to 2007.


Posted on on December 11th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

As per the UNFCCC website: The United Nations Climate Change Conference, Durban 2011, brought together representatives of the world’s governments, international organizations and civil society. The discussions sought to advance, in a balanced fashion, the implementation of the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, as well as the Bali Action Plan, agreed at COP 13 in 2007, and the , Cancun Agreements, reached at COP 16 last December.

In Durban’s COP 17  of the UNFCCC – according to fair weather forecasters – a marathon UN climate conference approved on Sunday – December 11, 2011 – with an overtime two days – the DURBAN PLATFORM,  that according to the South African hosts, includes a roadmap towards an accord that for the first time will bring all major emitters of greenhouse gases under a single legal roof. If approved as scheduled in 2015, the pact will be operational from 2020 and become the prime weapon in the fight against climate change.

The UN Secretariat wants us to believe that Durban was a great success and the tremendous expense – financially and in terms of CO2 emitted by the 15,000 participants – was justified.

We did not post much about this meeting as we easily predicted that the two UNFCCC conferences – of 2010 at Cancun and 2011 at Durban – will not lead to advances beyond what was achieved at Copenhagen in 2009 – thus we stopped our count at COP15, and called the Cancun meeting as Copenhagen 2 and the Durban meeting as Copenhagen 3 – with the hope that these meetings will continue to shape an eventual global agreement that became possible thanks to President Obama, who went to Copenhagen via Beijing, and was able for the first time in the history of the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC, to convince the Chinese government to accept the responsibility of becoming an active participant. Yes – the results were still an incomplete but had to be fleshed out in future meetings with the understanding that the original Kyoto Protocol was dead.

Looking at the Durban Platform – the name of the Durban outcome – we say that the Copenhagen opening is still just that – only the opening to future decisions.

We are astonished that the UNFCCC offices in Bonn, as per the above first paragraph,  make reference to the meeting of 2008 in Bali and the 2010 meeting in Cancun, but somehow forgot to mention the Copenhagen meeting. What does this say about the UNFCCC?

The UNFCCC also does not mention that Canada, Russia, Japan, and New Zealand have announced in Durban that they are pulling out from the Kyoto Protocol at the end of the year – this and the fact that the US has never ratified Kyoto, and China has not moved yet to make measurable commitments, makes it obvious that KYOTO IS DEAD and any talk of extending it is really nothing more then so much hot air.


From the dispatches being released by the UN we will pick the one released by UNEP – this because we hold Mr. Achim Steiner in high esteem.
Please see:

“Climate Talks End With Hope for a New More Comprehensive Legally-Binding Agreement.”

Yes – HOPE for an agreement – but HOPE is not an agreement,  and honest Mr. Steiner – the former head of the Gland, Switzerland, based IUCN, continues via the UNEP press release –

“Significant Emissions Gap However Remains With Doubts on How it Will be Decisively Bridged by 2020 – the Kyoto Protocol to Continue-But Covers Only a Fraction of the Necessary Global Emissions…The key question of the Durban outcome is whether what has been decided will match the science and lead to a peaking of global emissions before 2020 to maintain the world on a path to keep a temperature increase below 2° Celsius.”

The honest answer is that postponing taking decisions is not a decision. Setting time for next meeting is also not a decision – agreeing to continue to talk makes for great tourism – and next stop will be in the country of the UN Secretary-General that will be thus the next beneficiary of this tourism largesse.

Mr. Steiner states further – “The Government of South Africa and the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change should be congratulated for what has been achieved, given the low expectations in the months and weeks before Durban,”

“Today the European Union and several other countries agreed to continue the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012 if other governments, including major emitters from developed and developing ones, agreed to negotiate a new legally binding treaty with deeper emission reductions by 2015 to come into force afterwards.

The continuation of the Kyoto Protocol during this new negotiation phase means the provisions of this existing emission reduction treaty, ranging from emissions trading to the Clean Development Mechanism, will also continue providing some benefit to the climate and the ambitions of developing economies over the near term.”

All right – the Kyoto Protocol will continue with smaller participation until a replacement agreement can be forged.

Two additional topics were on the table and as well will continue to roll on:

(1) In Durban governments agreed to establish an Adaptation Committee and a process that will lead to the establishment of a Climate Technology Centre and Network with likely funding from the Global Environment Facility.

(2) a Yearly $US 100 billion (twice the size of the yearly World Bank disbursements)  to support developing countries by 2020 with a GREEN CLIMATE FUND (GCF) continues to roll on as well – but in these days of Global Economics Crisis – the money is not on the table yet.

No agreements were reached not only on the money sources, but even on the location of these institutions. The feeling is that above all there was a lack of trust in the negotiating partners.

The laque covered statements sound like this:

“We came here with plan A, and we have concluded this meeting with plan A to save one planet for the future of our children and our grandchildren to come,”said  South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

“We have made history,” she said, bringing the hammer down on more than two weeks of sometimes fractious talks.”

The deal was welcomed by Brazil, one of the globe’s emerging economic powers.

“I am relieved we have what we came here to get. We have a robust outcome, an excellent text about a new phase in the international fight against climate change. It clearly points to action,” said Brazil’s climate envoy Luiz Alberto Figueiredo.


The European Union pushed for strong wording and the three biggest emitters the United States, China and India resisted.

“We’ve had very intense discussions, we were not happy with reopening the text, but in the spirit of flexibility and accommodation shown by all, we have shown our flexibility, we have agreed to the words you just mentioned and we agree to adopt it,” said India’s Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan. {sorry – but this alone means that the agreement was void of content – our editorial comment}

But environmentalists and small island states, which fear they literally could sink under the rising sea levels caused by climate change, have said it is still not strong enough.

So – what happened indeed?

Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who co-chaired the UN’s high-level climate finance advisory group, echoed this sentiment, saying the debt crisis had underlined the fact that countries should look for funding both from public and private sources. He said it was “challenging but feasible” to mobilise the $100-billion needed but that the key to raising the funds would be to introduce a price on carbon.

It’s been suggested that the price of carbon be pegged at about $25 per tonne. Most of this could be incorporated into the national fiscus while a small percentage is channelled into climate finance.

That was fun – just think what the US can say about a carbon tax in this year of Presidential elections.

The Chinese delegation head Xie Zhenhua created a stir by saying China might be willing to sign a legally binding agreement for reducing emissions, post-2020 — if other countries keep their commitments, and depending on China’s state of development, and a laundry list of other pre-conditions.

“China is open,” Xie told reporters, sounding a world apart from the positions of fellow major polluters including the United States and Canada.

The United States, wants all polluters to be held to the same legal standard on emissions cuts, and China and India which want to ensure their fast growing economies are not shackled.

These stands led back to the old standstill but now it is given a target end by a prospective 2015 for negotiations 2020 to start inactment.

The Copenhagen US+BASIC seems to have broken up into a US, India, China group of which South Africa and Brazil took a tactical distance. Brazil perhaps aiming at replacing China as leader of the solid G77.

As before, the EU had no place at the table of those biggies.

The EU came down to Durban like a flock of fighting vultures rather then as a united power that can sit at the table of those biggies.

As I write this sitting in Vienna, I want to go on record that what I saw in Durban was an alliance of the European Archipelago with the group of Small Island States. It was indeed a Grenada led  AOSIS alignment with the 27 individual Member States of the EU that called for the UN LDCs (Least Developed Countries) and African States, to take away the fire from the old China and  G77 in their opposition to the major polluters of the US+BASIC group.

It seems to us that an enlargement of the Small Island Independent States with the inclusion of this European Archipelago of the rather small individual Europeans, will just not be able to come up with an effective platform.
To be effective there is a need is to have a forward looking strong United Europe in order to champion climate causes in wrestling matches with the biggest polluters at these Climate meetings. We are not impressed see
ing a battalion of European officials accompany 27 Ministers of Environment and other Nationals plus powerless transplanted EU officials whose role is totally unclear, hover around those conference halls and sending home reports of empty achievement. Yes – the Europeans were of positive complexion in Durban, but the resulting PLATFORM they fought for is Flat.

Next, and probably last chance to do something about Climate Policy is available at the RIO + 20 meeting in Rio de Janeiro – June 2012 – let us not waste it as well.


Posted on on October 9th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is a link to the COP 10 e-media kit


Posted on on September 3rd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

It is a long way from the German party’s founding in 1980, when middle-class voters saw the Greens as radicals, heirs to the 1968 student protest movement or even the left-wing terrorists of the Red Army Faction. “People spat on my father when he went door to door,” said Milena Oschmann, the daughter of leading party members in the city of Kiel, Germany. She now works for the party, splitting her time between Parliament and the local office in Berlin’s Neukölln neighborhood.

A string of Green Party victories and strong electoral showings across Germany, from the conservative south to the port cities of the north, are helping to redefine politics among voters who are increasingly losing faith in the more established parties.
In most reliable scientific opinion surveys, the Greens in Germany are polling around 20 percent of the vote, nearly twice the 10.7 percent of the votes they won in the 2009 parliamentary election.

“In former times I always said the Green Party is the party of dentists’ wives,” said Reinhard Schlinkert, one of the most established political pollsters in Germany. “Now many of the dentists have started voting for them.” The Greeens are now a rather clean centrist party.

With a potent coalition of voters, the Greens surprised Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party when it took control of the affluent southern state of Baden-Württemberg this spring, which is akin to capturing the Texas statehouse. In the process, the party proved it was a force to be reckoned with in German politics, where one in five voters now say they support the Greens.

The Green Party is poised to extend its march into the mainstream on Sunday when voters go to the polls in the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The Greens could, for the first time, win seats in the State Parliament and demonstrate their ability to sustain political momentum.

What is happening is that in Germany and in many other countries, corruption and inefficiency are turning voters away from the conventional parties and they are now looking for something new. This will benefit parties like the Greens or perhaps a surge of some new Social Justice parties as it may happen in the US and Israel.

This posting is based on a New York Times article that writes about Germany, but already points out that Greens from Japan, Greece, Taiwan, as well as Sweden and Australia, came to study how the Germans did it.

please see – New York Times NEWS ANALYSIS – “Greens Gain in Germany, and the World Takes Notice.”

The mass killings in Norway in July riveted attention on the strength of right-wing populist parties across Europe, but particularly in Scandinavia. Yet with far fewer headlines, the Green Party in Sweden won more votes in last year’s parliamentary election than the far-right Sweden Democrats, taking 7.3 percent of the vote compared with 5.7 percent for the nationalists.
In Germany, the question is now whether the Greens sustain, or even build, on their recent advances. The party was buoyed by outrage over the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in Japan, but it has fallen slightly in polls since. Still, the party could serve as a model for the postindustrial left in Europe and, perhaps, around the world.

“Nothing in our political science books has prepared us for this kind of party,” said Josef Joffe, publisher of the weekly newspaper Die Zeit, who noted that the Greens have won the culture war on the left over the rusty Social Democrats on issues like gay rights and the integration of immigrants. “I bet if you had a party like this in America, all my rich friends on both coasts would vote for it.”

Although their roots are on the left, the Greens are being increasingly embraced by voters on the right, successfully tapping into a German strain of conservationist conservatism by opposing highways and the demolition of old buildings. It has benefited both from the slow collapse of European socialism and the rising awareness of renewable technologies that have brought even once-skeptical businesspeople into the fold.

The German Greens also have served as the spearhead of a global coming out for other Green parties. In Brazil’s presidential election last year, the Green Party candidate won nearly 20 million votes to place third in the first round. The Green Party in Colombia was founded just two years ago, but in 2010 saw its candidate for president place second.

Britain’s House of Commons welcomed its first Green Party member after last year’s election, and Australia’s Greens won their first seat in the lower house in 2010. More significantly, the Greens hold nine out of 76 seats in the Australian Senate, giving the party a swing vote and powerful leverage over legislation in the upper house, where no party holds a majority.

The global surge has remained under the radar in the United States, for many reasons. In a system dominated by two parties, the Greens have no representatives in Congress or, for that matter, in a single state legislature.

The party’s image and electoral success in the United States has been tightly bound to the ultimately doomed presidential bids of Ralph Nader rather than depending on the grass-roots methods used to build the Greens in Germany. The German Greens even have their own local chapter in Washington, and they have served as a model for their political cousins abroad.

Gustav Fridolin, one of two leaders of the Swedish Green Party, said he kept a poster from the German Greens’ 2009 parliamentary campaign in his office as inspiration. It reads, “Jobs, jobs, jobs: Only Green helps escape the crisis.”

If the US Greens can overcome the ego-centricity of Ralph Nader, they might be able to compete successfully for seats in Congress and help reorganize US politics as well.


Posted on on August 18th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

Irith Jawetz writes August 17, 2011:

After two days of constant rain, I decided to take a walk in Central Park, the gem in the heart of New York City. As I was strolling along I heard music and voices. Following the lead I arrived at the Naumburg Bandshell and discovered the 2011 Korea Day Festival.

One of the young volunteers working on the grounds told me that August 15th is the National Day of South Korea. It marks the national liberation from Imperial Japan in 1945. On the same day in 1948, the government of the Republic of Korea was established.  The  Festival took place one day later and it may just have been a coincidence. It was organized by the Korean Cuisine Globalization Committee (President Ja Bun Kwak) and is a major New York event portraying various aspects of Korean culture from food to music.

The place was crowded with mostly young people who enjoyed the festivities. After the opening ceremony the program included Sorea – Modern Korean Traditional Music, Samulnori – a traditional Korean drumming and dancing performance, Chamber Orchestra Camerata Virtuosi NJ, K-Pop contest and best of all – many stalls of free Korean food to sample. The lines were long and people clearly enjoyed themselves.

Among the dishes I sampled were Kimchi, which is brined Korean cabbage with seasonings, Bulgogi & Ssam which are sliced marinated beef with vegetables, Japchae which are glass noodles with vegetables, Jeon – a traditional Korean style pancake, Topokki – Rice cake and stir fried vegetables with gochujang sauce, Bibbimbap – Rice topped wit various cooked vegetables, and Jeyukgui – stir fried pork with onion.

In addition, at the Korean Food Exhibition there was also a demonstration of dduk-mea chi-gi (the process of making Korean rice cakes) where the rice cakes are beaten up with a giant wooden hammer, and “Making Kimchi” and “Giant bi-bim bob-  where people got to mix the ingredients in a giant bowl and then taste it.

Another exciting event was the first ever K-POP event where people were invited to compete in a display of singing and dancing.

It was a great event, and one of those which make New York City so unique!


Posted on on August 10th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

UN Dodges Press on Crackdowns in Sudan, Seeks To Cancel Noon Briefings, Spokesman Out for 40 Days?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 10 — With UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visit to Korea greeted by artillery fire from the North, there are few answers from Ban’s spokespeople in New York.

They had no comment on crackdowns on the press in Sudan and Cote d’Ivoire, nor on protests of the UN in Nepal and even just across First Avenue by Haitians demanding reparations for the introduction of cholera.

Even why Ban gave out the post of “Commissioner-General of the UN” to Samuel Koo in South Korea did not get an answer, twenty hours after it was asked at Tuesday’s noon briefing.

Nor, despite two requests from Inner City Press, has the UN been able to provide any information about Deputy Secretary General Asha-Rose Migiro’s month-long “official travel” in Tanzania.

Now comes word that Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky is taking even more time off, reportedly from now until September 17. During this unheard of absence by a lead spokesman, Nesirky’s acting deputy Farhan Haq is “canvassing” select reporters in order to say that they don’t actually want the UN to hold noon briefings, despite events ranging from Syria to Yemen to Somalia and Sudan.

Even though Haq runs “his” briefing in such a way that it takes less than ten minutes a day — by limiting the Press to three questions, most of which are not answered — even this is apparently too much, despite there being other people in the UN Office of the Spokesperson.

Haq at briefing on Haiti, responses to protests & Qs & crackdowns not shown

Forget whether or not the UN will comment on crackdowns in Cote d’Ivoire or Bahrain: as an organization that has over 100,000 armed personnel out in the field, is it too much that they should stand and take questions for ten minutes a day, five days a week?

Especially when, as of today, the UN has in place no chief of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, as Alain Le Roy leaves as long ago announced, and the next Frenchman — Jerome Bonnafont, Inner City Press reported six weeks ago — is not in place, not even interviewed? We’ll see.

Update: some Missions and Permanent Representative of the UN, even among the Permanent Five members of the Security Council, somewhat surprisinly watch the UN noon briefing on UN TV, and some have expressed surprise at the length of leave and move to shut off even the short televised briefings. But are the member states being canvassed? Who is being canvassed?  Watch this site.

* * *

At UN, No Answers on Migiro’s “Official Travels,” Budget Chief Leaving, Ban’s Job Gift to Koo.

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 9 — With the UN’s two top officials both out of New York, their spokespeople are having trouble explaining what they are doing.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is in South Korea, while Deputy Secretary General Asha-Rose Migiro is listed on “official travel” from July 18 to August 16.

Yet despite two requests from Inner City Press for an explanation of this “official” travel, not a single official UN act has been described.

Nor does Ban’s spokesperson’s office, when asked, seem to know what Ban is doing in his native South Korea. On August 9, Inner City Press asked Ban’s acting deputy spokesman Farhan Haq about one of Ban’s actions while away:

Inner City Press: Ban Ki-moon has named Samuel Koo as the UN Commissioner-General for the Yeosu Expo. This was in the South Korean press, and I just wanted to know, what is this Commissioner-General position? Is it a paid position? What’s this all about?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: It’s not an announcement that we have made from here. We’d have to check what the report is on this particular thing. It’s certainly not an appointment that we’ve announced from here, however. Have a good afternoon, all.

But for the rest of the afternoon, and evening, no answer at all was given. The Korea Herald had reported:

“U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Samuel Koo, a former U.N. official and journalist, as the U.N. commissioner-general for the 2012 Yeosu Expo… In Korea, Koo has also held posts related to culture, tourism and convention, including culture ambassador for the Foreign Ministry and president of Seoul Tourism. Koo now chairs the culture and tourism committee of the Presidential Council on Nation Branding.”

So Ban gave out a grandiose-sounding UN position without his spokespeople knowing, or even bothering to look into and provide an answer on for sixteen hours and counting. Koo was also at one time a UN correspondent, seeking information not without success from the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General in the past. And now?

Meanwhile, Inner City Press has twice asked about DSG Migiro’s month-long “official travel,” first asking Ban’s lead spokesman Martin Nesirky, who said he would look into it and provide an answer, then when he didn’t, asking Haq on August 8:

Inner City Press: this was actually just kind of a follow-up. It’s something I had asked Martin last week, I don’t have an answer, so it’s not really a follow-up. It’s a reiterated question. Everyday in the Spokesperson’s Office there is a sheet saying that the DSG [Deputy Secretary-General] is on official travel, and he’d said he’d look into it. I wanted to know, what is that official travel?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: She is on home leave. She is on home leave in [the United Republic of] Tanzania, but she does have some official functions and we’ll let you know about those as they come.

But a day and a half later and counting, not a single official act has been reported. Inner City Press followed up:

Inner City Press: what’s the distinction, because I have seen sometimes things listed as leave, but this has been a full month stated as official travel. What’s the distinction?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: Like I said, it is home leave, but it does include some official functions.

What are those functions? Sources tell Inner City Press that the African Group of member states at the UN is being lobbied to get Ms. Migiro a second term, like Ban got. Others say there is a European for that position.

Ban’s Koo per Korean Herald – answers from Ban’s OSSG not shown

When Ban came in, through his now long-time chief of staff he said that the expectation was that none of his officials would serve more than five years in their jobs. But many have been there longer now, with no move to replace them.

There is a near total lack of transparency: Inner City Press has twice asked when Controller Jun Yamasaki is leaving, without answer.

His job was already advertised in The Economist; another UN source tells Inner City Press Yamazaki is slated to leave on August 18, but might stay on for a month. But why won’t the Secretariat answer these things?

For the just-filed Iraq envoy post, Inner City Press reported that there were three candidates, all German. A regional Permanent Representative asked Inner City Press, “Which Germany will get it?” It’s like Ban’s UN has deemed the Department of Peacekeeping Operations a French post, with three candidates, all French. This is UN reform? Watch this site.

Click for Mar 1, ’11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption


Posted on on July 10th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Australian government will impose a “carbon price” on industrial pollution to help fight greenhouse gas emissions.

It is implementing a parallel combination of subsidies and tax cuts for private individuals intended to soften the potential economic blow of the measure to consumers, according to statements on the prime minister’s website Sunday.

The fee on pollution is a key measure in the plan by the government of Prime Minister Julia Gillard to drastically reduce carbon emissions. It is intended to motivate businesses financially to move to cleaner energy sources. The Australian government considers the measures necessary because it believes Australia is one of the world’s worst polluters.

“Australians are the highest carbon polluters per person in the developed world,” declares an instructional video on a website intended to explain how the carbon reduction plan is intended to work.

“Australia will cut 159 million tonnes a year of carbon pollution from our atmosphere by 2020. That is the equivalent of taking over 45 million cars off the road,” a news release on Gillard’s website read.

Around 500 businesses are expected to have to pay the “carbon price” of 23 Australian dollars (US $24.78) per ton of carbon emissions, according to the government.

News releases and websites announcing the measure avoided the use of the word “tax” and preferred instead the terms “price” or “pricing.”

Revenues the government collects via the “carbon price” will be used to “assist households with tax cuts, increased family payments and higher pensions, benefits and allowances,” according to the website.

“Carbon price revenue will also be used to support jobs and to invest in clean energy and climate change programs.”

Nine of 10 Australian households will receive the assistance, according to a government news release.

The tax threshold for the poorest Australians will be raised, resulting in a million Australians no longer having to file a tax return, the government said.

Ms. Gillard presented her program on TV with a family background that included cats and kids. No coal lobbyists were in sight.

  • Polluting businesses are expected to pay the “carbon price”
  • Revenues from the carbon price are to go to Australian consumers and to clean energy development
  • Nine out of 10 Australian households will receive assistance, according to the government
  • The government will raise the tax-exempt threshold for the poorest Australians.


And if you want to know how things are in Washington DC this weekend 0f make or break the US treasury, – just see please:…

And if you ask – does it have to be so? Please read from our CNN/GPS hero Fareed Zakaria:


Anyway – looking at first articles on the Australian announcement – here a reference to a New York Times, Business section article:

BUSINESS DAY | July 11, 2011
Australia Proposes Carbon Trading Plan, Again
“A similar plan by the previous prime minister to cut 159 million tons of carbon dioxide by 2020, was largely blamed for having led to his political downfall.”



Posted on on July 6th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

Clean Energy Solutions

this from: UN-Energy   – .

On  Accelerating the transition to clean energy technologies Issue 2 of UN Energy Newsletter tells about the
Clean Energy Ministerial that was initiated At the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference of parties in Copenhagen in December 2009.

There Secretary Chu announced that he would host the first Clean Energy Ministerial to bring together ministers with responsibility for clean energy technologies from the world’s major economies and from a select number of smaller countries that are leading in various areas of clean energy.
By working together, these governments can accomplish more than by working alone, he said.

We are intrigued by the list of participating countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, the European Commission, Finland, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

That is the EU countries, Australia, Canada, Norway, the US, Korea, and Japan – that is the old OECD countries – plus the UAE and the new big seven  growing economies – Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico,  Russia, South Africa.

These States account for more than 80 percent of global energy consumption and pollution, and as well a  similar percentage of the market for clean energy technologies. Our argument is that if anything happened in Copenhagen in December 2009, it is that the concept of trying to chase an agreement of 192 government has been replaced by a practical approach of communicating with the 80% that includes the major energy users – historic as well as future polluters. It shall be hoped that a cooperation in their own self interest, between the industries and governments of these countries, can move the issues from their present dead point. After all – much has been achieved already in individual cases – the only problem being that when the 192 come together – rhetoric gets the day and agreements are very sparse.

The participation of the UAE – a federation that two of its members are already involved in financing development of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies – though still  oil exporting in good standing with OPEC – makes sure that oil countries, not just Norway, are also participating in these efforts. Also, talking about oil production as a major part of their economies – this clearly extends to the post OECD countries – Brazil, Mexico and Russia.

The material states: The Clean Energy Ministerial is a high-level global forum to promote policies and programs that advance clean energy technology, to share lessons learned and best practices, and to encourage the transition to a global clean energy economy. Initiatives are based on areas of common interest among participating governments and other stakeholders.

Also: The world is on the cusp of a clean energy revolution. Some new technologies can help provide clean energy by harnessing the power of the sun, wind and other renewable resources. Other technologies can enable more efficient use of energy in buildings, industry and vehicles. These technologies, when coupled with supportive policies, can significantly reduce carbon pollution from traditional fossil fuels, improve local air quality, create jobs, enhance energy security and provide improved access to energy around the world. Yet barriers to the adoption of clean energy technologies abound, and the cost of some technologies remains high. By working together, governments and other stakeholders can overcome barriers and advance the market adoption of clean energy technologies.

Seemingly – at least US based initiatives are already in place.

These CEM initiatives are focused on three global climate and energy policy goals:

(1) Improve energy efficiency worldwide through the Global Energy Efficiency Challenge,

(2) Enhance clean energy supply,

and (3) Expand clean energy access.


Posted on on June 7th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

Ban Ki-moon to seek second term as UN Secretary General.

Mr. Ban Ki-moon has announced that he will seek a second term as head of the United Nations, pledging to keep leading the world body as a “bridge-builder” at a time of unprecedented global change.

Mr Ban said he had sent letters to the 15-member Security Council and 192-member General Assembly “humbly” offering himself for consideration for a second five-year term. His current term ends December 31, 2011.

Ban told reporters that in his first term he directed responses to natural disasters in Myanmar, Haiti and Pakistan “quickly and effectively” while “sewing the seeds of peace” in Sudan, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ivory Coast. He also pointed to steps to improve UN management that include creation of a department to advocate for women and a requirement of full financial disclosure by senior officials.

Ban made his wishes known initially at a breakfast meeting of representatives of the 53 Asian nations, who unanimously backed his candidacy, according to Pakistan’s Ambassador Abdullah Haroon. (It turns out that the word unanimously actually meant by acclamation – no vote was taken.) China, India, Japan did back him.

Following the announcement – France’s Foreign Minister Alain Juppe called it “very good news.” The “UN and the entire international community can rely upon him, his very solid experience and his authority,” Juppe said this in a statement. We ask if this has anything to do with the Christine Lagarde being tipped to head the International Monetary Fund as this removes competition by an Asian?

Economies like China and India have grown at a much faster pace than those in the developed world, making them increasingly important players on the world stage – it was rationally expected they will target the IMF this year. Their influence in global bodies like the IMF has not altered greatly during the same period.

Asked about his unmet first-term goals of ending the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan and completing an international agreement to combat climate change, Ban said he was “sorry to tell you that all these major challenges are in process that we will try to accelerate.”


A different take on Ban Ki-moon’s announcement we found in Foreign Policy where the attention is on Korean internal politics:

“The U.N. chief’s allies (in Korea) have sought to douse public speculation in his native South Korea that he may consider a run for president there in 2012. Former South Korean Prime Minister, Han Seung-soo, a close ally of Ban, told Yonhap News agency that recent opinion polls including Ban as a potential presidential candidate may harm his reelection campaign at the United Nations.

‘It is our duty to free Secretay General Ban from domestic politics so he can serve the world,’ said Han. ‘Repeated mentions of his name in domestic politics would be disadvantageous for him as he performs his role as the U.N. secretary general.’

The Korea Herald contended that Ban has ‘expressed displeasure’ over media surveys listing him as a presidential aspirant. ‘It was extremely unfortunate that he was named as a presidential contender in opinon polls despite having repeatedly said that he has no intention to run in the presidential elections,’ the Herald quoted a top U.N. official saying last week.


Amid UN Complaints on Ban Ki-moon’s “Arbitrary” 3.7% Budget Cuts, His Pre-Coronation Is Reported.

By Matthew Russell Lee, News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, June 5 — Even before it is decided who should be UN Secretary General from 2012 through 2016, news wire services have predicted with “100%” accuracy that Ban Ki-moon will and should be re-appointed, quoting unnamed “UN diplomats.”

But why? Beyond questions about silence on human rights issues, and compromising the UN’s purported impartiality in Cote d’Ivoire and elsewhere, on June 3 members of the UN’s budget advisory committee complained to Inner City Press about Ban’s just-made budget proposal.

He said it would be a three percent across the board cut,” a member of the UN Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Affairs told Inner City Press. “Then he comes in with three point seven, but implemented very haphazardly. There are no cuts to UN Women, but larger cuts to other departments.”

Another ACABQ source wondered why member states would move so quickly to rubber stamp Ban for five more years right after he made a controversial but still secret budget proposal.

This wouldn’t happen in any democracy in the world,” the source said. In these fiscal times, how leaders proposal budgets is the major issue to judge them on. “Ban just dropped this one on us, the member states haven’t even debated or even heard it — and they want to give him a second term?”

UNITED NATIONS, June 6 — While leaders in the UN loudly praised the Arab Spring as a move toward democracy, Ban Ki-moon is being anointed without any competition or even debate for another five year term as Secretary General.

If democracy is good in the Middle East, why not in the UN itself? Wouldn’t a more formal process, including questions ranging from Libya through human rights to the budget, benefit the UN and its legitimacy?

Even the International Monetary Fund, derided for lack of transparency, last month announced a process whereby candidates can put in their names by June 10, with three or four to be interviewed and a decision made by June 30.

At the UN by contrast, there is no deadline, and no explanation of the sudden rush. Much is made of the lack of other candidates, but no formal process for nominations was ever announced.

There is no transparency: the Security Council could take up and adopt, without vote, the dispositive resolution without any notice to the public, in any closed door consultations as early as today.


After Ban’s office announced he will hold a press conference at 11:30 on Monday, June 6, another delegate told Inner City Press that an Asian Group breakfast is being organized for that morning, and said it was for Ban to announce.

A Chinese diplomat told Inner City Press that his country firmly believes that the top position in the UN for the next five years belongs to Asia — and that the next head of the International Monetary Fund should come from the developing world.

Some are surprised that Ban would announce while the nomination process to replace Dominique Strauss Kahn at the IMF is still open. If that post goes to an Asian, from China or much less likely a South Korean, that would change Ban’s claim to a second term.

Since the IMF nomination process ends on June 10, and the winner will be named on June 30 or before, “what’s the sudden rush?” a delegate asked Inner City Press.

There are critiques of Ban Ki-moon circulating, among them his fast speaking out against any aid flotillas to Gaza, his inaction on his own Panel of Experts’ report on war crimes in Sri Lanka and more general failure to speak out on human rights and media freedom (raised by the Committee to Protect Journalists, HRW and others) and a general lack of reform and pizazz.

Perhaps this explains the rush, before these various issues develop further.

While no one, it seems, wants to speak entirely on the record about Ban, on Friday the Deputy Permanent Representative of a Permanent member of the Security Council told Inner City Press that there are no other alternative candidates to Ban, adding “maybe nobody else wants the job.”

If you use the UN S-G post this way, some wonder, who but a red carpet and travel addict would want it?

The structural problem is the need to please all of the Permanent Five during a first time, in order to get a second. A solution would be to limit Secretaries General to a single term, perhaps of seven years.

As to the Asia Group casting their lot with a second term by Ban on June 6, to some this seems to preclude the International Monetary Fund post going to an Asian, or perhaps even a developing world candidate. Is this the right move for the Asia Group? What exactly is the rush to act before the IMF decides on June 30, or even before the June 10 court decision on whether a case will proceed against Europe’s, or at least France’s, IMF candidate to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Christine Lagarde?

Could it be, some ask, that those who most supported Ban’s and his Choi’s attack helicopter raids in Cote d’Ivoire feel similarly about this pre-emptive action in the IMF replacement race?


Here on:

Ban’s Son in Law Disappears from UNOPS as “Furniture, Parked in New Jersey”

By Matthew Russell Lee, UNITED NATIONS, March 14, 2011 — From the time Ban Ki-moon began as UN Secretary General, the Press has raised questions about promotions given to his son in law Siddharth Chatterjee, who jumped to being the chief of staff to Staffan de Mistura in Iraq, then made Middle East chief at the UN Office of Project Services in Copenhagen.

The UN at first tried to argue that these were not in fact promotions, and then openly refused to answer questions on the topic from Inner City Press.

Now, sources at UNOPS in Copenhagen and elsewhere say Chatterjee is leaving his UNOPS position, where he was described as “the furniture” for lack of aptitude.

When Human Resources, run for UNOPS by the UN Development Program, asked for basic information from Chatterjee for example about this educational credentials, the information was never given.

Sources long close to Chatterjee say that the military degree in India has has listened is not what it appears to be, and that an earlier marriage in that country was ended and largely erased from the record by extraordinary means. “It’s not clear how much the Bans know about it,” says one source, adding that missive have been sent to Mr. Ban himself.

Now, according to the UNOPS sources, as Ban seeks a second terms as Secretary General, Chatterjee has been “parked” out of the way in southern New Jersey, getting basic math education paid for by the UN system. “They’re trying to keep him out of sight, after his exposure as ‘The Furniture’ at UNOPS,” says the source.

Ban and spokesman Nesirky, son in law not shown, questions not answered

It would be nice to have and include Team Ban’s response, but his spokesman Martin Nesirky, like Michele Montas before him, openly refused to answer questions about Ban’s son in law Chatterjee.

Chatterjee has threatened web sites with legal action for writing on these topics, then had articles removed from the Internet. Previously, the South Korean mission was deployed to try to provide assurances, then denied it. Now what? Watch this site.

Recent attempts to reach Chatterjee resulted in this:

Subject: Out of Office AutoReply

I am away till 31 May 2011 on Special Leave. Andy Menz is the OIC for EMO and can be contacted at his e mail… The new Regional Director for EMO is expected to be in place in September 2010.

Presumably he means 2011 when he will be replaced. The “Special Leave” continues.

At the March 14 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban’s deputy spokesman Farhan Haq to confirm that Ban’s son in law is on Special Leave and in New Jersey. “You have to ask UNOPS,” Haq said. After a follow up, Haq said Chatterjee “ended his involvement with UNOPS several months ago.”

Inner City Press, quoting from Chatterjee’s e-mail auto responder about Special Leave, and sources, asked yes or no, is he still being paid. Inner City Press pointed out that it is also a S-G issue, given the questions that have been raised — and not answered — throughout Ban’s first term. Haq refused to answer, insisting that Inner City Press must “ask UNOPS.”  Video here, from Minute 7:10.

This is more than a little strange, in that UNOPS’ web site lists Farhan Haq as the contact in New York for media inquiries – click here.

From the UN’s transcription of March 14 noon briefing:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you a question about the son-in-law of the Secretary-General. It’s been, he is no longer, currently he is on special leave from UNOPS [United Nations Office for Project Services] and people there say that he has been, they say that it is unprecedented; that he’s been sent to the United States and having introductory level classes paid for by UNOPS. Is that, is that the case? Can you confirm that and what, why would that be?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: I actually think you’d have to ask UNOPS whether there is any such thing. What I am aware of is that Mr. [Siddarth] Chatterjee has indeed ended his employment, his involvement with UNOPS, and I believe he did that several months ago. Beyond that, you’d have to check with the UN Office for Project Services.

Inner City Press: Can I just ask one follow-up? Because his reply e-mails, because I was seeking comment on this, says that he is on special leave until 31 May 2011. Could you just confirm, yes or no, that he is still being paid until that time?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: It’s not for me to confirm what UNOPS does. You need to ask them.

Inner City Press: Given questions that have arisen about, I mean, questions have arise through his first term concerning this. I think it is a fair question.

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: No, no, Matthew; that’s not the case. The case is that with every agency, questions about their employees would have to go to that agency. So, please, deal with UNOPS on that.

Update of 2:30 p.m., March 14 — Inner City Press has now sent a first round a questions to UNOPS in Copenhagen. Watch this site.

Update of March 15, 8 pm : Here is the UN’s transcript of the March 15 noon briefing:

Inner City Press: I asked a simple question whether the son-in-law of the Secretary-General was still being paid by UNOPS, [United Nations Office for Project Services] as well as whether his educational things may be being paid. Farhan [Haq] said, “Ask UNOPS”. So, I sent them an e-mail, I don’t have an answer, but I also notice that Farhan is listed as the New York Spokesman for UNOPS on their web page. So, I just, I think you may… maybe you have an answer to it and so then all of this is now moot, but, what is the answer?

Spokesperson: It is, Matthew. First of all, UNOPS will probably be sending you the e-mail saying what I am going to say, which is that Mr. [Siddarth] Chatterjee left his position as UNOPS Regional Director for Europe and the Middle East in July 2010 and, after taking accumulated annual leave, went on special leave without pay until 31 May, of this year, 2011. The end of the special leave without pay coincides with the end of his period of secondment to UNOPS from UNICEF. And during his special leave without pay, Mr. Chatterjee does not receive any payments or funding from UNOPS. And for your information, a new Regional Director for Europe and the Middle East joined UNOPS on 4 October 2010. That’s what I have for you, okay.

After that, Inner City Press sent there follow up questions to Haq and Martin Nesirky.

They responded, “please contact UNOPS. The information provided at the briefing today came from UNOPS.”

Inner City Press has sent the follow to UNOPS, with no response:

Hello. Yesterday I was told to “ask UNOPS” about the S-G’s son in law and I emailed Copenhagen questions (although Farhan Haq is listed as New York contact for UNOPS).

I have yet to receive any e-mail response from UNOPS, so I had to ask at the noon briefing, and Mr. Nesirky read out a response, saying he expected I’d get an email from UNOPS. I still haven’t, so I emailed Nesirky and Haq, UNOPS New York contact. Now I get a reply to that saying “ask UNOPS.” This seems like a run around: I would like an answer, in writing, today, to the below:

1. You said that Chatterjee is on leave without pay until May 31, 2011, when his secondment from UNICEF runs out. Will be remain in the UN system as a staff member after May 31st?

2. UN staff rule 5.3(a)(i) says that “Special leave may be granted at the request of a staff member holding a fixed-term or a continuing appointment for advanced study or research in the interest of the United Nations, in cases of extended illness, for child care or for other important reasons for such period of time.” For what reason did the UN approve leave without pay for Chatterjee?

3. Who made the decision to place Chatterjee on leave without pay?

* * *

At UN, As Ban Ki-moon Promotes Indian Ambassador’s Wife, Are Rules Needed on Lobbying for 2d Term?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 13 — A UN Secretary General asks for the support of UN member states, not only to endorse his programs but also, as is the case these days with Ban Ki-moon, to vote for a second term. Should there be rules governing how he goes about lobbying for this support?

On March 11, Ban’s deputy spokesman Farhan Haq announced that Ban has appointed Lakshmi Puri as an Assistant Secretary General in the new UN Women entity.

Haq dismissed the question of if Ms. Puri is the wife of Hardeep Singh Puri, the Permanent Representative of India, currently a member of the Security Council which must vote on Ban getting, or not getting, a second term as Secretary General.

Haq said, “I am not aware of the family relationships of the people I just named.  I only just got this list.”

On March 12, Inner City Press wrote directly to Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri to ask for confirmation, and ask for a “response to those that say it might have or appear to have any impact on how the Secretary General is viewed or treated, especially but not only as he goes for a second term.”

On March 13, Hardeep Puri called Inner City Press and presented his side. He said that he and Lakshmi have been married for some 35 years, adding that “my being here and her being there has not made any difference in terms of one influencing the other… She was in Geneva with UNCTAD… Then here in New York as director of High Representative on Least Developed Countries, since October or November of 2009. She applies for jobs as do several others in the UN system.”

Inner City Press asked Hardeep Puri if he thought that any rules should apply to the Secretary General giving jobs to spouses of the Permanent Representative who will vote on his second term.

Hardeep Puri to his credit acknowledged that if a person “completely from the outside, without the qualification, were offered the job… in this kind of situation, obviously eyebrows would be raised.”

Rightly or wrongly, in this case some eyebrows have been raised. One analogy is to a public corporation, in which it would be problematic for a chief executive to give a job to the spouse of a board member who is supposed to oversee his performance and continued employment.

Hardeep Puri issued a challenge, telling Inner City Press to watch “if you suddenly find Hardeep Puri restrained.” We will.

Hardeep & Lakshmi Puri, center, S-G rules not shown

The question remains, should the UN enact rules to govern this situation which is fraught with the possibility of conflict of interest?

Footnote: after this response, Hardeep Puri called back to make two final arguments, first that it was Michele Bachelet that interviewed Lakshmi Puri, and not Mr. Ban himself. In fact, this was pointed out in spokesman Farhan Haq’s announcement, perhaps acknowledging that if Ban himself did the interviews and was entirely responsible, there would be an issue. But Ban is the decision maker here, and the issue remains.

Second, Hardeep Puri argued that a country’s position would not be influenced by such a hire. But it is widely reported that France conditioned its support of Kofi Annan second term as Secretary General on being given the Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping post. So the danger of conflict of interest and improper lobby remains. There should be rules.

Click for Mar 1, ’11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption