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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Knesset goes green.

 

Israeli parliament to be solar secure by end of the year.

By  January” title=”http://israel21c.org/?p=53974\”>January” target=”_blank”>http://israel21c.org/?p=53974″>January 1,2014 – from www.Israel21c.org

 

Knesset by Shutterstock

The Israeli parliament building’s roof has long been touted as a perfect place to build a 1MW solar array. And today, the idea for the Knesset to produce its own solar energy went into effect.

Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein officially launched the “Green Knesset” project – a multi-year project that will convert the Knesset into a legislature guided by the concept of sustainability.

The first two years of the venture will consist of 12 smaller projects focusing on energy and water. Among other things, this phase will include the construction of a 4,500 square meter solar field for the production of electricity from renewable energy; replacing hundreds of bulbs with LED bulbs; replacing the air-conditioning systems with an energy center; automatically shutting down all of the computers at the end of the workday; measuring the amount of water used for irrigation in the Knesset and adopting a more economical water consumption model; the desalination of water from the Knesset’s air-conditioning systems and using this water for irrigation and other purposes

Knesset says the projects will return the $2 million investment within five years. The money saved will go to a “green fund” – and be used for additional sustainable initiatives.
Photo by SeanPavonePhoto / Shutterstock.com

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 19th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Brazil Snubs Boeing in Fighter Jet Deal

 

Fabrice Coffrini/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The aircraft maker Saab’s Gripen F. The company agreed to share more technology for Brazil’s Gripen NG jets with contractors.

 

 

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — In a disappointment for Boeing, Brazilian defense officials said on Wednesday that they had picked the aircraft maker Saab for a $4.5 billion contract to build 36 fighter jets over the next 10 years.

The Brazilian defense minister, Celso Amorim, told reporters at a news conference in Brasilia that Saab was selected over Boeing because it had agreed to share more technology with contractors and because many parts for the new jet, the Gripen NG, would be made in Brazil.

The decision “took into account performance, the effective transfer of technology and costs, not only of acquisition, but also of maintenance,” Mr. Amorim said in a statement. He was accompanied by Gen. Juniti Saito, the Brazilian air force’s chief of staff. “The decision was based on these three factors.”

The announcement comes at a time of heightened tension between the United States and Brazil. In September, the Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff, canceled a state visit to the United States after revelations that the National Security Agency was spying on foreign heads of state, including her.

In a speech at the United Nations that month, Ms. Rousseff gave a blistering attack on the United States for its “illegal interception of information and data.”

In a response to the outcry over the spying, a panel of advisers for President Obama on Wednesday recommended limiting the wide-ranging collection of personal data and restricting operations to spy on foreign leaders.

When asked at the news conference if the spying had anything to do with the decision to award the contract to Saab, Mr. Amorim did not answer directly, instead repeating reasons of cost and technology sharing.

Analysts said Brazil had many financial and practical reasons to award the contract to Saab.

Richard L. Aboulafia, an aviation analyst at Teal Group in Fairfax, Va., said that while Brazil’s disenchantment over the N.S.A.’s spying could have played a role in the decision, costs were probably a bigger factor.

“You’re talking about a military service that doesn’t need a heavyweight front-line fighter and has suffered a budget squeeze and hasn’t been able to fly the planes that it owns,” he said.

He added that a basic version of the Saab jet might cost about $45 million, compared with $55 million for Boeing’s basic F/A-18 Super Hornet.

And the Gripen’s fuel costs would be half of that for the Boeing plane. Both jets use the same engine, but the Super Hornet has two engines and the Gripen one.

A study by the military publisher IHS Jane’s said that the Gripen costs about $4,700 an hour to fly — the lowest among modern fighter jets — compared with the $11,000 for the Super Hornet.

Boeing said that the decision was “disappointing” and that it would talk to the Brazilian air force to better understand it. The company, based in Chicago, said it would still look for chances to expand its partnerships in Brazil.

The loss was also difficult for Boeing because there are only a few fighter competitions going on around the world and the United States Navy plans to stop buying the F/A-18’s.

While most countries that want high-tech fighters are buying Lockheed Martin’s more advanced F-35, many other countries cannot afford even top older models like the F/A-18. So far, Australia is Boeing’s only export customer for the jet.

By contrast, Saab’s more workaday Gripen models are flown by several other countries.

Brazil originally began its quest for new fighters to replace its aging Mirages more than a decade ago. Brazil’s former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, wanted to buy Dassault’s Rafale fighter jets in 2009 instead of the F/A-18.

But a change in administration in Brazil, and the country’s deteriorating financial condition, helped alter the equation. A Brazilian news report on Saturday said that Dassault had already been eliminated from the competition even though the French president, François Hollande, backed the jet on a visit to Brazil last week.

Terms of the deal must still be negotiated over the next year, but delivery of the first batch of Gripen NG jets is expected in 2018.

Also on Wednesday, Boeing announced the promotion of Dennis A. Muilenburg, the head of its military business, to vice chairman, president and chief operating officer of the company.

Analysts said that move made Mr. Muilenburg, 49, the heir apparent to Boeing’s chief executive, W. James McNerney Jr., who is 64.

Ray Conner, the chief executive of Boeing’s commercial airplane division, was also named a Boeing vice chairman while keeping his current responsibilities. Christopher M. Chadwick, 53, will succeed Mr. Muilenburg as chief executive of Boeing’s military unit.

Dan Horch reported from São Paulo, Brazil, and Christopher Drew from New York.

 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 15th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Yes – a most important outside reason for going to the Memorial for Mandela in Johannesburg was to make a public display out of the US effort to do right to its Southern Subcontinent starting with its largest democracy – Brazil.

Then, as I doubt it was mere coincidence, Obama also shook the hand of Brother Raul Castro. Fareed Zakaria observed these public happenings on his CNN/Global Public Square today.

Both events could have real consequences if followed up by the Administration. It was insane to tape Dilma Rousseff’s phone – now she is Prime Minister of Brazil but once was a Member of a National  Communist Party – like every dissent person was in those days  – including Nelson Mandela. But those days are gone – all what is left is a National reluctance to submit to US CIA-enhanced Capitalism that fights democracies world-wide.

The Castro’s are a different matter. What has been is passe – but what is now is a possible opening to Cuba with an honest effort to brig the Island-State to the fold of democracies, and as shown on TV in Johannesburg Raul is hoping for Dilma’s help. The US is closer by so it could actually be a tripartite cause that proves to Dilma that the US President is not just an occasional kisser.

And further – you convince Dilma and Angela Merkel of Germany as well, that a post-Bush era is started in Washington by giving full AMNESTY to Mr. Snowden who was the first to give them evidence that the bosses in Washington do not trust them – something that is not done among friends. And if it is done so these are clearly not regarded as  friends and Raul gets vindicated if he might insist on making his island into a future Chinese base – just an idea.

We just found that another swallow showed up in Washington – or was this a trained pigeon-carrier? We continue by re-posting it and hope it was not just a trial balloon to be shot down by right-wing Republicans with old-time Sugar-planting and cigar smoking Cubans of Miami friends.

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NSA Official Offers Amnesty Deal to Edward Snowden

By Agence France-Presse, 15 December 2013

National Security Agency official said in an interview released Friday that he would be open to cutting an amnesty deal with intelligence leaker Edward Snowden if he agreed to stop divulging secret documents.

Related Stories

Rick Ledgett, who heads the NSA’s task force investigating the damage from the Snowden leaks, told CBS television’s “60 Minutes” program that some but not all of his colleagues share his view.

“My personal view is, yes, it’s worth having a conversation about” a possible deal, said Ledgett, according to excerpts of the interview due to air Sunday.

But Snowden would have to provide firm assurances that the remaining documents would be secured.

“My bar for those assurances would be very high… more than just an assertion on his part,” said Ledgett.

Snowden, a former intelligence contractor for the NSA, has been charged with espionage by US authorities for divulging reams of secret files.

He has secured asylum in Russia and insisted he spilled secrets to spark public debate and expose the NSA’s far-reaching surveillance.

But NSA chief General Keith Alexander rejects the idea of any amnesty for Snowden.

“This is analogous to a hostage-taker taking 50 people hostage, shooting 10 and then say ‘You give me full amnesty and I’ll let the other 40 go,’” Alexander told “60 Minutes.”

Alexander said an amnesty deal would set a dangerous precedent for any future leakers.

The four-star general, who is due to retire next year, also said he offered his resignation after the leak but that it was not accepted by President Barack Obama’s administration.

Snowden reportedly stole 1.7 million classified documents and Ledgett said he “wouldn’t dispute” that figure.

About 58,000 of the documents taken by Snowden have been passed to news media outlets, according to the editor of Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

The CBS report also said an NSA analyst had discovered malware designed in China that could “destroy” infected computers.

NSA Information Assurance Director Debora Plunkett said the weapon was called the “Bios Plot,” after the key component in computers that performs basic steps such as turning on the operating system.

The malware was supposed to be disguised as an update for software, and after the user clicked on it, a virus would turn their computer into “a brick,” Plunkett said.

If launched, “Think about the impact of that across the entire globe,” she said. “It could literally take down the US economy.”

The NSA spoke with computer manufacturers to preempt the possible effect of the malware.


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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 8th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

December 8, 2013
www.jazzpromoservices.com

 

Purchase TicketsHERE

 

 

BRAZILIAN SINGER IVAN LINS JOINS WINTER SOLSTICE

Inline

The warm and rhythmic music of Brazil will help us “bring home the sun” in our upcoming 34th annual Winter SolsticeSeries, December 19, 20 and 21, at New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Renowned singer/composer Ivan Lins will be joining us, for the first time, along with singer and guitarist Renato Braz, and a Brazilian chorus.

 

The 25 dancers and drummers of the Forces of Nature Dance Theatre will premiere a new work based on an Ivan Lins composition, and our favorite gospel singer, Theresa Thomason, will perform with both Ivan and Renato, as well as the Consort. We will dedicate the entire Winter Solstice event to our long-time Brazilian brother, guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves, who passed away in late September (see below).

 

Guest artist Lins is one of Brazil’s most beloved musical superstars, and its best-known living songwriter. He has recorded more than 35 albums and won multiple Grammy and Latin Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year. His songs have been recorded by many notable international artists, including Ella Fitzgerald, Barbra Streisand, Sarah Vaughan, Michael Bublé, George Benson, Take 6, and Dave Grusin.

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FROM PAUL WINTER – SOLSTICE COLLECTION DOWNLOAD

Inline

Once again, we are pleased to offer you our free Winter Solstice Collection album. It’s become a tradition for us, that each year just before our Winter Solstice Celebration, we put together the collection, and invite you to download it for free. Our intent is both to give a sampling of our musical lineup for this year’s show, and also simply to share the music.

 

This year’s collection is 10 tracks, more than 40 minutes, with an emphasis on Brazilian songs by Ivan Lins and Renato Braz, as well as pieces by the Paul Winter Consort and Theresa Thomason. All these performers, along with the dancers and drummers of the Forces of Nature Dance Theatre will join us at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Dec. 19-21.

 

We hope you’ll enjoy the collection, and please share it with others: listen & download.

 

Included Tracks:
1. Velho Sermão – Ivan Lins
2. Peasant Revels – Paul Winter Consort
3. Last Train – Renato Braz
4. Icarus – Paul Winter Consort
5. Bandeira do Divino – Ivan Lins
6. The Rain is Over and Gone – Theresa Thomason
7. Lua Soberama – Renato Braz
8. Fantasia – Paul Winter Consort
9. Silent Night – Renato Braz & the Paul Winter Consort
10. Common Ground – Paul Winter Consort

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ALSO FROM PAUL WINTER – SALUTE TO OSCAR:

Inline

Oscar Castro-Neves and I met in June of 1962, when my Sextet played in Rio de Janeiro during our six-month State Department tour of Latin America. We crossed paths again that October when Oscar came to New York to be musical director for the first-ever Bossa Nova concert in the US, at Carnegie Hall. After Oscar came to live in Los Angeles in the late ’60s, as musical director for Sergio Mendes’ band, Brazil 66, we reconnected and he helped me produce the Consort’s second album, Something in the Wind, in 1969, and then came on tour with us.

 

In the spring of 1977, I went to LA to spend some days with Oscar at his home, exploring ideas for a new album. I had a new vision for the Consort’s music, embracing vocals for the first time, as well as the voices of wolf, whale and eagle, as a symbolic trilogy of the greater life family, representing the land, the sea and the air.

 

I had invited an array of musicians from diverse genres to come to my farm during the summer months to collaborate in creating this new album. I wanted to feature Oscar’s rhythmic realm in the new music, and Oscar played me many recordings from a broad spectrum of traditional and contemporary Brazilian music. One song ignited my soul: “Velho Sermão,” by Ivan Lins, based on a rhythm from the Northeast of Brazil, where the African influence was most prominent. This song had exactly the bright energy and spirit I wanted for the album, and I began wondering if we might create English lyrics for it. That summer, with new musicians gathered at the farm, we began playing “Velho Sermão” instrumentally, to get it into our bodies, and see what lyrics might emerge, that might put forth the message of our music-making summer “village.” By the end of the summer we had the words, and the title: “Common Ground.” This became the title song for the album, and has been part of the Consort’s repertoire since. So Ivan Lins has been a spiritual member of our community for these many years, but in all my trips to Brazil, and all his to the US, we’ve never crossed paths.

 

Over the decades since then, Oscar was my co-dreamer, and co-producer on many albums, including Missa Gaia/Earth Mass, Concert for the Earth, Canyon, Earthbeat, and Brazilian Days. He was part of the Consort in our performances at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1991; with the Boston Pops in 2000; and at the Cathedral for our “Carnival for the Rainforest” and numerous Solstice celebrations. We shared the dream of weaving the world together through music.

 

In early September this year I got word that Oscar was seriously ill, and I flew to Los Angeles to see him. He was bedridden, and had great difficulty talking, but I got to play for him a recording of my reunited Sextet with African singer Abdoulaye Diabate, from last year’s Winter Solstice Celebration, and he smiled broadly and punched both thumbs up in the air, and then whispered to me: “It is a revisit to that sacred ground we cherish.” Six days later, Oscar passed away.

 

He was, and is, a true treasure of the world, and beloved by all who knew him.

 

Oscar had also brought Renato Braz into the Consort’s life in 2005. I had heard one track on a “Rough Guide to Brazilian Music” compilation, that had a beautiful clear high beguiling voice, by a singer whose name I didn’t know. I wanted to learn more about him, and asked various friends if they’d ever heard of Renato Braz, and no-one had. In Rio that spring I asked my long-time friend Carlos Lyra, and he also didn’t know of Renato. When I came home I decided I would ask Oscar, Brazil’s greatest ambassador to the world, and he began calling around for me. Two days later Oscar called me and said: “I found him. He’s from Sao Paulo, which is why our Rio community didn’t know him. I had a wonderful talk with him, and I think he’s going to be one of our dearest friends.” And his prediction absolutely came true.

 

So once again, Oscar is bringing us all together, as we salute him in this year’s Solstice Celebration.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 3rd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

High Growth Renewables: Brazil – a Cleantech investments Invitation: Breakfast Briefing – Brazil, 10 December 2013 – in London.

www.highgrowthrenewables.com

This event costs £30 (excluding VAT) to attend. A number of free delegate spaces are available for investors or project developers with a particular interest in wind or solar energy in Bahia – and also for certain other categories, including press, non profit organisations and academia. To be considered for one of these places please email: events@cleantechinvestor.com

 

Brazil has strong credentials in terms of sustainable energy. It was a pioneer in biofuels and has a world leading ethanol industry – and the majority of its electricity is generated from hydro power. Now the Brazilian wind and solar energy markets are also taking off rapidly, in response to growing demand for energy – and helped by favourable government policies offering long term contracts to developers. Dedicated auctions over recent years, have helped wind power prices decline and for wind to become established in Brazil. Solar looks set to follow a similar trajectory: although no solar projects were successful in the recent (November 2013) energy auctions, dedicated solar auctions are likely next year.

High Growth Renewables: Brazil is part of a series of Cleantech Investor events which kicked off earlier this year with High Growth Renewables: India. The event is also affiliated to the Brazil Wind Energy Conference and Brazil Solar Energy Conference series of events which take place in Brazil.

High Growth Renewables: Brazil, sponsored by K&L Gates takes place over a morning, in London, close to St Pauls. The event will focus on the key Brazilian States operating in the renewables sector and will include representatives from both the Government of the State of Bahia and from companies active in Bahia, one of the states most well endowed with renewable energy resources in the country. There will also be speakers representing other industries such as ethanol and a discussion on the opportunities for UK and European companies to do business in Brazil.

  • Hear from the Government of Bahia at High Growth Renewables: Brazil on the outcome of the November auctions and potential for future auctions for wind and solar energy.
  • Bahia State representatives will also present the new wind map which indicates a significant increase in wind energy potential in the state over previous estimates.
  • An update on the Brazilian ethanol market
  • Experiences from UK and European companies operating in the Brazilian market – in sectors including wind turbine manufacturing (Gamesa of Spain), wind and solar project development (ENEL of Italy) and biofuels (Whitefox Technologies of the UK).
  • In addition, Cleantech Investor will launch a new ‘Infocus’ publication: Bahia: Rolling Out Renewable Energy

The agenda for the event will be as follows:

8.00 am – Registration and Breakfast

8.40 am – Speaker Panel

Introduction – Renewable Energy / Bioenergy in Brazil
Ethanol (/biofuel) industry – challenges and opportunities
Renewable energy – adding wind and solar to the mix
Case Study: the State of Bahia and Wind Energy

- Renewable Energy Project development in Bahia
- The manufacturing hub in Salvador / Camacari

 Panel Discussion: Doing business in Brazil / Bahia
 Launch of Cleantech Investor’s Bahia publication

11.30 am – Close

Speakers will include:

Marc J. Veilleux – Partner, K&L Gates

Marc was behind the launch of the K&L Gates Brazilian office in 2011. K&L Gates LLP comprises more than 2,000 lawyers who practice in 48 offices located on five continents.

Paulo Roberto Britto Guimarães – SCIM (Energy Department) State of Bahia

Bahia is one of the largest states in Brazil and has some of the largest resources of wind energy. It is located in the north east of Brazil, which is experiencing econoimc growth at ‘Chinese growth rates’ and it is planning major infrastructure investment. Paulo will provide details of Bahia’s recently published wind map and will discus the opportunities for companies in the wind power manufacturing cluster which has emerged in the State. In addition to renewable energy resources, the state has important petrochemical and automotive manufacturing industries and has some of the best resources of shale gas in Brazil.

Gamesa (speaker to be confirmed)

Spanish company Gamesa, which is a leading wind turbine manufacturer, has established a manufacturing base closer to Salvador, the capital of Bahia. Gamesa will speak on the opportunities for companies in the wind power supply chain in Bahia and Brazil generally.

Enrique de las Morenas – General Manager, Brazil: ENEL Green Power

Enrique will speak about renewable energy project development in Brazil, where ENEL is an important operator in the wind and solar sectors.

Gillian Harrison, CEO – Whitefox Technologies

Whitefox Technologies, a UK company, provides services to Brazilian ethanol companies. Gillian will speak about her experiences of doing business in Brazil – and will provide an overview of the Brazilian ethanol market.

Anne McIvor – CEO, Cleantech Investor

Anne will provide a summary of ‘Cleantech Infocus: Bahia – Rolling out Renewable Energy’, which will be launched at the event.

Who should attend?

  • Institutional, private equity and venture capital investors with a focus on the Brazil market and an interest in energy
  • Corporate advisors and consultants working in cleantech and renewable energy
  • Renewable energy project developers or equipment suppliers interested in the Brazilian market
  • Government and not for profit organisations with an interest in Brazil- and specifically renewable energy in Brazil.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 2nd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

16th International Biotechnology Symposium & Exhibition

When:

14.09.2014 – 19.09.2014

Where:

Fortaleza, Ceará, BR

More information:    

ibs2014.org

 

 

 

 

 

GREEN ECONOMY: BIOPROCESSES & BIOPRODUCTS – BIOFUELS

  • Biofuels
  • Forestry Products
  • Green Chemistry
  • Nanotechnology
  • Green Cosmetics
  • Biorefineries
  • Green Energy

Dr. Aaron Ciechanover from the Technion in Israel (Nobel Prize in 2005) was invited to be a Plenary Speaker.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 30th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Is the Pope Getting the Catholics Ready for an Economic Revolution? (Maybe He Read Marx)

 

Photo Credit: shutterstock.com -  A specter is haunting the Vatican.

 

November 27, 2013
by Lynn Stuart Parramore, AlterNet

In 1992, the Catholic Church officially apologized for persecuting 17th-century astronomer Galileo, who dared to assert that the Earth revolved around the sun. In 2008, the Vatican even considered putting up a statue of him.

Could a certain 19th-century atheist philosopher be next?

It is true that in 2009, a Vatican newspaper article put a positive spin on one Karl Marx. The author, German historian Georg Sans, praised Marx for his criticism of the alienation and injustice faced by working people in a world where the privileged few own the capital. Sans suggested that Marx’s view was relevant today: “We have to ask ourselves, with Marx, whether the forms of alienation of which he spoke have their origin in the capitalist system….” Indeed.

 

Pope Benedict XVI certainly sang a different tune, denouncing Marxism as one of the great scourges of the modern age (of course we must always distinguish the “ism” from the man). But Francis is a pope of a different feather. His recent comments on capitalism suggest that he is a man who understands something about economics — specifically the link between unbridled capitalism and inequality.

In an 84-page document released Tuesday, Pope Francis launched a tirade against a brutally unjust economic system that Marx himself would have cheered:

 

“Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills….As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems.”

 

Whoa! Where did that come from? To understand the answer, you need to know something about liberation theology, a movement that originated in Pope Francis’s home region of Latin America. Liberation theology, a Catholic phenomenon centered on actively fighting economic and social oppression, is the fascinating place where Karl Marx and the Catholic Church meet.

 

Though Marx was certainly an atheist, Catholics who support liberation theology understand that his attitude toward religion was nuanced. He saw it as a coin with two sides: a conservative force that could block positive changes as well as a reservoir of energy that could resist and challenge injustice. In the United States, religious movements such as the Social Gospel movement, seen today in the Reverend William Barber’s Moral Monday crusade against right-wing oppression of the poor in North Carolina, express the protest potential of Christianity.

 

Gustavo Gutiérrez, a Peruvian Catholic priest who grew up in abject poverty, used Marx’s ideas about ideology, class and capitalism to develop a perspective on how Christianity could be used to help the poor while they were on here on Earth rather than simply offer them solace in heaven. As Latin America saw the rise of military dictatorships in the 1960s and ‘70s, Gutiérrez called on Catholics to love their neighbor and to transform society for the better. Followers of the new liberation theology insisted on active engagement in social and economic change. They talked about alternative structures and creative, usually non-violent ways to free the poor from all forms of abuse.

 

The official Church hierarchy has had a tense relationship with liberation theology, but some Francis watchers detect that a new chapter in that history is opening. In early September, the new Pope had a private meeting with Gutiérrez. Reacting to the event, the Vatican newspaper published an essay arguing that with a Latin American pope guiding the Church, liberation theology could no longer “remain in the shadows to which it has been relegated for some years, at least in Europe.”

The Catholic world has now snapped to attention as the faithful pore over the Pope Francis’s recent communication, which calls upon politicians to guarantee “dignified work, education and healthcare” and blasts the “idolatry of money.” The flock is on notice:  Francis will be talking a great deal about economic inequality and defending the poor. Unfortunately, his opposition to women as priests indicates that he is not yet ready to embrace equal treatment for women, something that would greatly enhance progress on both of those issues, but Francis did take a step forward in saying that women should have more influence in the Church.

 

While the Vatican has become a cesspool for some of the most shady financiers and corrupt bankers on the planet (see: “ God’s Racket”), Pope Francis has made clear his abhorrence of greed, eschewing the Apostolic Palace for a modest guest house and recently suspending a bishop who blew $41 million on renovations and improvements to his residence, including a $20,000 bathtub.

 

Catholics, particularly in the United States and Europe, are not sure what to make of all this solidarity with the poor and anti-capitalist rhetoric. For a long time now, many have considered Marx and his critique of capitalism over and done with. But others have watched deregulation, globalization and redistribution toward the rich unleash a particularly nasty and aggressive form of capitalism that seems increasingly at odds with Christian values. Instead of becoming more fair and moderate, capitalism has become more brutal and extreme. Marx, who predicted that capitalism would engender massive inequalities, is looking rather prescient just about now.

 

Pope Francis may prove himself open to considering Marx’s ideas in order to think about a more human-centered economic system. The American press is already buzzing nervously with the idea: “It would make for some pretty amazing headlines if Pope Francis turned out to be a Marxist,” wrote Helen Horn of the Atlantic, before quickly concluding that, no, “happily for church leaders,” such a thing couldn’t be true.

 

Maybe not. What is true is that, like his fascinating predecessor, Pope Leo XIII (who presided from 1848-1903), Francis has specifically denounced the complete rule of the market over human beings — the cornerstone of the kind of neoclassical economic theory embraced by Milton Friedman, Alan Greenspan and much of the American political establishment. He wrote:

 

“Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacra­lized workings of the prevailing economic system.”

 

That’s a pretty good start. We’ll take it. 

Lynn Parramore is an AlterNet senior editor. She is cofounder of Recessionwire, founding editor of New Deal 2.0, and author of ‘Reading the Sphinx: Ancient Egypt in Nineteenth-Century Literary Culture.’ She received her Ph.d in English and Cultural Theory from NYU, where she has taught essay writing and semiotics. She is the Director of AlterNet’s New Economic Dialogue Project.

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AN UPDATE FROM THE RIGHT.

 

Op-Ed Columnist

 

The Pope and the Right

 

 

 

“NOW it’s your turn to be part of the loyal opposition,” a fellow Catholic journalist said to me earlier this year, as Pope Francis’s agenda was beginning to take shape.

 

Readers’ Comments — Read All Comments (130) »

 

 

The friend was a political liberal and lifelong Democrat, accustomed to being on the wrong side of his church’s teaching on issues like abortion, bioethics and same-sex marriage.

Now, he cheerfully suggested, right-leaning Catholics like me would get a taste of the same experience, from a pope who seemed intent on skirting the culture war and stressing the church’s mission to the poor instead.

 

After Francis’s latest headline-making exhortation, which roves across the entire life of the church but includes a sharp critique of consumer capitalism and financial laissez-faire, politically conservative Catholics have reached for several explanations for why my friend is wrong, and why they aren’t the new “cafeteria Catholics.”

First, they have pointed out that there’s nothing truly novel here, apart from a lazy media narrative that pits Good Pope Francis against his bad reactionary predecessors. (Many of the new pope’s comments track with what Benedict XVI said in his own economic encyclical, and with past papal criticisms of commercial capitalism’s discontents.)

Second, they have sought to depoliticize the pope’s comments, recasting them as a general brief against avarice and consumerism rather than a call for specific government interventions.

And finally, they have insisted on the difference between church teaching on faith and morals, and papal pronouncements on economic issues, noting that there’s nothing that obliges Catholics to believe the pontiff is infallible on questions of public policy.

All three responses have their merits, but they still seem insufficient to the Francis era’s challenge to Catholics on the limited-government, free-market right.

It’s true that there is far more continuity between Francis and Benedict than media accounts suggest. But the new pope clearly intends to foreground the church’s social teaching in new ways, and probably seeks roughly the press coverage he’s getting.

It’s also true that Francis’s framework is pastoral rather than political. But his plain language tilts leftward in ways that no serious reader can deny.

Finally, it’s true that there is no Catholic position on, say, the correct marginal tax rate, and that Catholics are not obliged to heed the pope when he suggests that global inequality is increasing when the statistical evidence suggests otherwise.

But the church’s social teaching is no less an official teaching for allowing room for disagreement on its policy implications. And for Catholics who pride themselves on fidelity to Rome, the burden is on them — on us — to explain why a worldview that inspires left-leaning papal rhetoric also allows for right-of-center conclusions.

That explanation rests, I think, on three ideas. First, that when it comes to lifting the poor out of poverty, global capitalism, faults and all, has a better track record by far than any other system or approach.

Second, that Catholic social teaching, properly understood, emphasizes both solidarity and subsidiarity — that is, a small-c conservative preference for local efforts over national ones, voluntarism over bureaucracy.

Third, that on recent evidence, the most expansive welfare states can crowd out what Christianity considers the most basic human goods — by lowering birthrates, discouraging private charity and restricting the church’s freedom to minister in subtle but increasingly consequential ways.

This Catholic case for limited government, however, is not a case for the Ayn Randian temptation inherent to a capitalism-friendly politics. There is no Catholic warrant for valorizing entrepreneurs at the expense of ordinary workers, or for dismissing all regulation as unnecessary and all redistribution as immoral.

And this is where Francis’s vision should matter to American Catholics who usually cast ballots for Republican politicians. The pope’s words shouldn’t inspire them to convert en masse to liberalism, or to worry that the throne of Peter has been seized by a Marxist anti-pope. But they should encourage a much greater integration of Catholic and conservative ideas than we’ve seen since “compassionate conservatism” collapsed, and inspire Catholics to ask more — often much more — of the Republican Party, on a range of policy issues.

Here my journalist friend’s “loyal opposition” line oversimplified the options for Catholic political engagement. His Catholic liberalism didn’t go into eclipse because it failed to let the Vatican dictate every jot and tittle of its social agenda. Rather, it lost influence because it failed to articulate any kind of clear Catholic difference, within the bigger liberal tent, on issues like abortion, sex and marriage.

Now the challenge for conservative Catholics is to do somewhat better in our turn, and to spend the Francis era not in opposition but seeking integration — meaning an economic vision that remains conservative, but in the details reminds the world that our Catholic faith comes first.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 18th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Journalist says:
Thank you for discussing this. Anybody that has been to New Haven can tell Woolsey Hall is open to whoever wish to get inside. I asked for information to the policeman and followed him when I was told to. I did not say I was a journalist, but did not hide my personal information. I gave him my passport, my address, my phone number. And I told him I was looking for Mr. Joaquim Barbosa and would wait for him outside the building. But I could not leave, because the policeman hold my passport and informed me I would be arrested. Video footage from the place can prove that what I am saying is true. My newspaper asked it to Yale Law School, but have not received a reply. 9/28/13 7:09pm

 

The University says:

A Brazilian reporter trying to interview Brazil’s Supreme Court President, Joaquim Barbosa, was arrested for trespassing after she allegedly entered a Yale Law School building on Thursday.

O Estado de S Paulo correspondent Claudia Trevisan claims the University was trying to keep quiet Barbosa’s participation in the 2013 Global Constitutionalism Seminar (one of the University’s “signature international programs“), and denied her request to attend, saying it was held in a private building.

Trevisan says she told Yale Law School communications director Janet Conroy that she would go anyway and wait for Barbosa on the sidewalk.

According to Trevisan, she eventually entered Woolsey Hall, a Yale concert hall, where tourists, students, and pedestrians were walking around, to find out if she was in the right place. She asked a Yale police officer if the seminar was in that building, and he apparently recognized her as a journalist and began questioning her. She says the officer also took her passport, detained her for an hour inside a police car, then handed her over to New Haven Police, where she was held in a cell for more than three hours.   Trevisan was reportedly able to report her arrest over the phone to a diplomat at the Brazilian embassy.

A second reporter for Folha de São Paulo, also there to talk to Barbosa, was apparently better received — a policeman escorted him outside of the building and warned him if he tried to enter again he would be arrested.

A spokesperson for Yale gave a statement to the Guardian, saying that Trevisan was dishonest with police.

“She came onto Yale property, entered the law school without permission, and proceeded to enter another building where the attendees of the seminar were meeting. When asked why she was in the building, she stated that she was looking for a friend she was supposed to meet. She was arrested for trespassing. The police followed normal procedures and Ms Trevisan was not mistreated in any way.

No one answered at the Yale Police Department communications line, but according to the Yale PD website, there was an arrest for trespassing outside Woolsey at 6:44 p.m. Trevisan says she arrived at Yale at 3:30 p.m.

Yale says that because the seminar was a private event closed to the public and the media, Trevisan was not permitted on Yale property. This raises an interesting question since Trevisan claims that the building was open to the general public — and that she was singled out as a journalist merely for entering to ask a cop if she was in the right place. Legally, she was probably fine on the sidewalk, while the building would probably be classified as a “limited public forum”. If other tourists and non-members of the seminar were permitted to ask the cop inside for help or directions, arresting Trevisan for engaging in the same behavior while being a journalist could be illegal.

Either way, the argument will probably never be heard — Yale says it does not intend to pursue the trespassing charges.

Wise Guys Say:

Their statement is irrelevant. If those buildings offered general unrestricted access to the general public, they’d have a hard time justifying just escorting her out, let alone arresting her. She doesn’t need special permission simply because she happens to be a reporter. 9/28/13 9:55pm

If you are in a place you aren’t supposed to be don’t   the authorities to ask. Ask someone that looks like a student not the cops.

Since she had previously contacted them to ask for credentials, I think it’s quite likely (especially if they had give so far as to let cops know who she was) that she was in fact not welcome. She probably would have been better off never having asked ahead of time.   9/28/13 8:12pm

Having said that, arresting, handcuffing and jailing a journalist under these circumstances is a ridiculous abuse of power. On the other hand, her stealth reporting skills need some honing.   9/28/13 8:45pm

If you *bought anything* in the State of São Paulo you´ve paid a sales tax, and 10% of this sales taxes goes directly to the State Universities, including the Universidade de São Paulo.

You – and everyone else – had the right to walk there.

Universidade de São Paulo is a public university, where there is no tuition fees and where even the food is subsidized by the taxpayer. 9/28/13 9:07pm

I was just at Yale recently and they didn’t bar me from entering this exact same space. 9/30/13 1:37am

If it helps, Woolsey Hall is part of a complex. The central building, which is what you enter from the street, houses the War Memorial. It has doors on both sides, and is commonly used as a thoroughfare between Bienecke Plaza (part of the Yale campus) and the public streets that lead to other parts of Yale’s campus.

Joaquim Barbosa, the Brazilian Supreme Court Justice, faces problems in his own country, and he did not wanted to talk with reporters. From what
I read in Portuguese and from what understand of US Law and American universities, Yale would not have requested the arrest of the journalists had Barbosa not request it.  (I hope that´s not some kind of exchange program for SC justices or something like that). 9/29/13 1:10am

Considering that The Guardian covered this story – this is saucy indeed and may fit the general view that US justice has dreated for itself overseas.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 16th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

I had recently the chance to speak with an advanced Brazilian and realized how important to Brazil the following article is!

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Mismatch: why are human rights NGOs in emerging powers not emerging?

Nader ImageThere is a perverse see-saw effect in place within the BRICS countries. In Brazil, as the government grows in prominence and companies become more global and voracious, human rights NGOs face a sustainability crisis and find their budgets shrinking. Are these two developments connected?       PortuguêsEspañol 

Middle-income BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries are becoming more politically prominent, appearing on the covers of magazines and newspapers in the developed world, and being taken more seriously by the big investment banks.

This increasing clout is also reflected in international human rights arenas. In the marble corridors of the U.N. Human Rights Council, I often hear that it is now necessary to “have Brazil on board” to pass this or that resolution.

It would be healthy to expect that human rights NGOs in the BRICS are also gaining in strength. Surprisingly, this is not so. The mismatch between strong economic growth and fragile local human rights organizations is now very apparent in Brazil.

Historically dependent on both public and international funding, many Brazilian organizations now find themselves in a “funding vacuum,” an unanticipated victim of their country’s remarkable economic success. 

Consumers before citizens

Brazil has democratic institutions, reasonable economic growth and social policies that have enabled millions to rise above the poverty line and to begin consuming goods and services. Despite all this, citizens do not have access to basic human rights. Long-standing violations, such as the systematic torture of prisoners and displacement of indigenous groups to make way for hydroelectric dam construction, continue apace.

Anti-Belo Monte graffiti in Altamira, Brazil. Karen Hoffmann/Demotix. All rights Reserved.

A recent newspaper headline reported that people living in northeastern Brazil, the country’s poorest region, are buying washing machines even though they do not have running water, a basic human right and a state responsibility.

Alas, the consumer has come before the citizen, and Brazilian human rights organizations are at a critical juncture: They must continue their national struggle while at the same time consider internationalizing. This involves building closer relations with organizations from other countries, monitoring and influencing the foreign policy of the Brazilian state, and tracking the activities of Brazilian companies overseas. Most important, perhaps, Brazilian human rights NGOs must continue to help channel social demands into progressive advocacy and policies.  

But this is possible only with sustainable and predictable funding.

The funding crisis triad

Three factors contribute to the financial erosion of human-rights organizations in Brazil: dwindling international funds, inequitable public funds, and scant private funds.

Historically, human rights organizations in Brazil depended on international funding, particularly from bilateral cooperation agencies and development organizations linked to churches and political parties in the Northern Hemisphere. In the 1980s and ‘90s, experts claimed that some 80 percent of Brazilian human rights NGO budgets came from international funding – even if there is no reliable data to support this number.

Over the past decade, however, international assistance to Brazilian rights groups has suffered. After the global financial crisis of 2008 and Brazil’s graduation to middle-income status, at least 10 agencies withdrew their financial support, reformulated their priorities, or drastically reduced their allocations.

Other organizations began to focus on specific issues – especially the environment and agriculture – and concentrated their grants among a small group of organizations, or opted for partnerships with “more efficient” government organizations.

Today, experts estimate that between 40 percent and 50 percent of Brazilian human rights NGOs’ budgets come from international funding. Again, this number is debatable, but the downward trend is clear. Some agencies and foundations continue investing in Brazilian human rights groups, including the OAK Foundation, Sigrid Rausing Trust, the Canadian International Development Research Center, and the Open Society Foundations. Some also are investing in strengthening the ability of civil society in Southern countries to act internationally. Such, for example, is the aim of the Ford Foundation’s “Strengthen Human Rights Worldwide” initiative. Still, less international funds are available today for human rights work in Brazil.

Public funds in Brazil are also not a sustainable funding source. Today, less than 5 percent of the funds transferred by the Brazilian government to civil society are allocated to human-rights organizations. The rest goes to organizations that do social work or fill gaps in health, education, and the like. In addition, organizations that receive public funding are subject to extremely bureaucratic processes, and find it hard to maintain their independence and autonomy.

The situation would not be so difficult if Brazilian philanthropy had “emerged” at the same pace as the country’s international political and economic prominence. Brazilian companies invest $3-4 billion per year (U.S.) in social projects, but this is not enough, given the size of Brazil´s social problems. Furthermore, only 30 percent of this money is allocated to grant making for independent organizations. The rest is spent on corporate social responsibility projects run by the companies themselves. 

National philanthropy: a necessary (and long-term) commitment

The current weakness of the Brazilian international-public-private triad has led many local human rights organizations to rethink their fund-raising strategies and sustainability models.

Clearly, an increase in international funding would be welcome. This would have to involve not only an increase in dollars but also greater grant predictability and duration. One major challenge today is for international grant-makers to understand that when a Brazilian NGO wants to act legally and responsibly, its operating costs are much higher than they used to be. Legal fees, salaries, real estate, and other costs are rising in emerging economies, and are often even higher than in the global North.

There is no doubt that Brazilian private foundations could strengthen their support to human rights causes and organizations, as well as that public funds should be distributed more equitably and transparently to civil society organizations. The state must also boost its social investments, making sure that at least some of this new money finds its way to organizations that challenge the status quo, as human rights groups often do. This requires a review of the legal framework and an overhaul of the archaic practices that still govern state-society relations in Brazil. 

Brazilian citizens must also develop a more robust tradition of philanthropy. The country currently ranks 83rd among 147 countries listed in the World Giving Index, which uses Gallup polling data to measure national populations’ propensity to donate time and money to charitable activities and help strangers. To improve their country’s ranking, Brazilians must increase the amount they donate.

Human rights have a bad name

Many Brazilians see the country’s human-rights organizations as contributing to the high rates of murder and overall urban violence. The reasoning goes as follows: Brazil currently has around 50,000 murders per year – a number that exceeds the casualty counts in several international conflicts. By attempting to reduce police violence, prison overcrowding and torture, human-rights organizations are perceived as “protecting” impunity and generally contributing to societal fears and insecurities. Reversing this perception will be no easy task.

Human-rights organizations have several challenges ahead. They must redefine their funding priorities and improve their fund-raising operations, and they must become better communicators about the positive impact of their work.

National fund-raising must become a pillar of organizational development, integral to human-rights groups’ strategic planning. It’s essential to rethink fund-raising “know-how” – beyond such initiatives as crowd-funding and other new tools. New fund-raising capacities are vital, especially with regard to the Brazilian economic elite. There is no magic bullet: Human rights groups need money to restructure and learn how to raise more money locally. Sadly, it’s hard to focus on growing an organization’s fund-raising capacities in an era of austerity, where most available funds are tied to specific projects.

All this should be accompanied by innovation and investment in new communications strategies. Human-rights organizations must move from the defensive to the offensive, and focus on winning over more allies to the cause. This is not impossible: After all, younger generations seem to be looking for a cause as shown in the massive street protests that recently took over Brazilian streets.

There is one more challenge, and it’s about building mutual trust. The lack of national private funding for human-rights organizations, in a format that maintains their autonomy and independence, severely impedes their ability to be “anchored” in their own societies. They need not only financial support but also domestic constituencies. Human rights organizations must emerge not only from the funding vacuum, but also from a vacuum of public trust and political support.


 

Conectas receives funds from some of the foundations cited in this article.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 11th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Coca-Cola

Trophy touches down in Israel and Palestine

 FIFA.com) Sunday 10 November 2013
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Trophy touches down in Israel and Palestine

© Getty Images

The FIFA World Cup Trophy has been steadily making its way around the globe through the planned 90 countries, and having just completed its Caribbean tour, it has now landed in the Middle East for the first time.

Bringing the joy of football to the region, FIFA together with Coca-Cola have brought the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour to Israel and Palestine for two days, before heading off to Jordan. Accompanying the trophy for this trip is special guest, former FIFA World Cup™ participant and Argentina national team player and coach Gabriel Calderon. He will be with the trophy through all the local activities that the tour is planning for the coming two stops, where kids from schools, universities and local football clubs will have the opportunity to experience the magic of most powerful symbol in world football.

“I think it’s extremely important that every child gets the same opportunities to enjoy the world’s game. Playing regularly when I was young is what shaped me into the player I turned out to be,” Gabriel said as he arrived in Israel for his first stop. “I am extremely honoured that I have been asked to be part of the tour, and especially to visit this historical region, as it is a cause I truly believe in, and I am happy to play my part.” added the former Argentina star.

Joining Gabriel on the tour in Palestine and Jordan is FIFA Vice President Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein who is very excited to be welcoming the trophy to his home for the first time.

I think it’s extremely important that every child gets the same opportunities to enjoy the world’s game.
Gabriel Calderon, former Argentina midfielder and coach

The situation in the Middle East has prompted a mandate to be received by FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter during the 63rd FIFA Congress. This mandate was brought about by several years of conflict and unrest, making it challenging to improve and develop the game, and as part of FIFA’s statutes to develop the game. The President took this matter to heart to ensure that everyone has equal access and opportunities to play football, and the tour is another sign of the commitment which FIFA and its Partners have outlined to develop the sport in the Middle East.

A special FIFA Task Force, chaired by the FIFA President, was created with the aim to help improve the situation of football in Palestine and Israel, more specifically to analyse different bilateral matters including facilitating the movement of players, referees and equipment in and out of and within Palestine. The ultimate objective is to improve the situation of football in the region, particularly so that FIFA can implement its mission of developing and promoting the game in accordance with the FIFA Statutes.

As a result of the historical meeting, the football associations of Israel and Palestine will implement a mechanism under the umbrella of FIFA that will facilitate the movement of persons and goods. This mechanism includes the modalities and notification requirements as well as the appointment of liaison officers within each association. A meeting will be held under the auspices of FIFA within four months to assess the level of cooperation, with a view to signing a memorandum of understanding at the 2014 FIFA Congress.

To find out more about the stops, the stars and the trophy, visit the official trophy tour’s Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter.

IMPORTANT TO NOTE HERE THAT IN 2022 THE WORLD CUP GAMES WILL BE HELD IN QATAR – this after 2018 in Russia.
FOLLOWING THE 2014 SERIES IN BRAZIL – the home of World Soccer...

Those that qualified for the 2014 games are:

Iran is thus the only Middle East State (or World Cup team – this being different as England is a player rather then the UK) to participate in Brazil.  Israel had to play in the European preliminaries as it is impossible to match it with an Arab State.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 5th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Looking backwards – we find the following Al-Jezeera Guide to Delegates to this year’s UN General Assembly pretty accurate.

The Al-Jezeera UN watch: Four names to keep tabs on at the general assembly.

The 68th United Nations General Assembly kicked off as what United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon described one of the highest turnouts in UN history. This Tuesday the United Nations General Assembly debate will begin with issues paramount to international security and peace. The Security Council, made up of five permanent members–US, Britain, France, Russia and China–will continue their meetings this week. Key matters being discussed include the Syria crisis and Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The meeting will begin with a statement from Ban Ki-Moon followed by remarks from the President of the 68th Session of the UNGA, John Ashe.

With over 130 representatives and leaders to attend the UNGA this year, Al Jazeera America profiles four world leaders to watch as the General Assembly and Security Council debates unfold.

 

 

Dilma Rousseff

Dlima
Brazilian President Rousseff to speak first opening the UNGA general debate Tuesday
Evaristo Sa/AFP/Getty Images

Country: Brazil

Title: President

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff is scheduled to open the 68th United Nations General Assembly debate on Tuesday. Her attendance coincides with mounting tension between her country and the United States, after it was revealed that the U.S. had spied on her personal communications and those of other Brazilian citizens. Last week, Rousseff called off a planned state visit to Washington, and she may use her speech to criticize the U.S.’ global intelligence gathering. On the other hand, Rousseff could completely ignore Obama for lack of a formal apology for or response to investigations into the U.S. spying in Brazil. She faced the most dramatic challenge of her presidency this past summer amid massive social protests that erupted nationwide, focused on bus-fare increases but also challenging government corruption. Her U.N. speech offers her an opportunity to move beyond a tough domestic political environment and assert Brazilian interests and leadership on the global stage.

Rousseff, who began her career as a civil servant, and was arrested and tortured as a leftist guerilla fighter in the 1960s, became the first woman president of Brazil when she took office in 2011. The challenges Rousseff has faced lend credence to the reputation she has earned as Brazil’s ‘iron lady,’ characterized by her hard-hitting politics and assertive manner. In the past, she has held influential positions in municipal and state governments, eventually serving former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as chief of staff. In that position, Rousseff worked closely with oil giant Petrobras and helped draft a legislative framework for offshore drilling.

In 2011, just months after taking office, Rousseff became the first woman to open the debate at the 66th U.N. General Assembly. This year, Forbes named her the second most powerful woman in the world – behind German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Hassan Rouhani

Rouhani
Iranian President Rouhani and President Obama anticipated to meet this week in New York

Country: Iran

Title: President

Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s newly-elected president, succeeded firebrand President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was known for his combative rhetoric and grandstanding hostility towards the West. Unlike the former president, Rouhani has adopted a more conciliatory posture towards the international community. Since entering office, he has made several diplomatic gestures, including an op-ed published in the The Washington Post asking world leaders “to respond genuinely to my government’s efforts to engage in constructive dialogue.”

Rouhani will address the assembly on Tuesday, but all eyes are on what he does on the sidelines of the event – specifically, whether he meets with President Barack Obama. They recently exchanged letters, igniting speculation that the two leaders will meet at the General Assembly. The meeting would be the first between a U.S. and Iranian president in more than 30 years, signaling a desire on both sides to find a diplomatic solution to the protracted standoff over Iran’s nuclear program.

The Glasgow-educated Rouhani’s experience working in Iran’s National Security Council and the backing for his diplomatic outreach by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, could be useful in continuing a diplomatic approach.

Viewed as a moderate, Rouhani began his career as a revolutionary activist before the 1979 overthrow of the Shah, and after the founding of the Islamic Republic took key roles in the Political, Defense, and Security Committee of the Expediency Council. He also served as a nuclear negotiator as the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council for 16 years before assuming the presidency.

John Ashe

ashe
Ashe will play crucial role in sustainable development and Millennium Development Goals this session
Getty Images

Country: Antigua and Barbuda

Title: President, 68th United Nations General Assembly

The president of the 68th  United Nations General Assembly, John Ashe hails from the tiny Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda. But while his country may not wield much international influence, Ashe takes on the responsibility of pressing the power players at the international body to focus on the pressing concerns of the majority of its members – most importantly, addressing climate change.

Ashe has been at the forefront of international efforts to address environmental challenges, and has made it an objective to push Goal 7, to ensure environmental sustainability on the Millennium Development Goals road map for the session this year.

The Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said Ashe will lead one of the most important assemblies to push forward MDG’s and sustainability with confidence. “He shares my passion for sustainable development — and my concern about the problem of climate change,” Ban said. “He demonstrated his commitment by serving on the governing bodies of major U.N. environmental agreements.”

Ashe’s efforts this year could help promote MDG’s sustainability goals in partnership  with the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, considered one of the largest in the history of the United Nations. In addition, his efforts this year could influence next year’s UN Conference on Small Island Developing States, set forth by a UNGA resolution to address key environmental concerns affecting island nations.

Ashe has served in many roles chiefly as a United Nations diplomat. Previously, he served as the Chairman of the 13th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development at the United Nations in 2005 and chair of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol.

Sergei Lavrov

sergey
Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov will play crucial role in the Security Council meetings over the crisis in Syria
Getty Images

Country: Russia

Title: Foreign Minister

Russian foreign minister Lavrov began serving in the Soviet foreign ministry in 1973, a year after graduating Moscow State Institute of International Relations. He has held positions for the Soviet mission to the United Nations in New York City in 1981 and since then, has continued to play an instrumental part in both the foreign ministry and Russia Permanent Mission for the past 30 years. Lavrov has functioned as the president of the Security Council seven times throughout his diplomatic career. His experience within the Security Council, Russia’s close relationship with Syria and its position as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council made Lavrov a key player in the Syria crisis, brokering the chemical-weapons deal that has, at least for now, avoided U.S. military action against the Assad regime.

The deal, however, remains fragile. On Saturday, Syria disclosed details of chemical weapons to meet the deadline Russia and the U.S. had set, but Moscow and Washington continue to struggle over whether force should be threatened if Syria fails to keep its obligations.

Lavrov has publicly stated on many occasions that Russia would veto any resolution approving the use of force in case of Syrian violations. Kerry is in strong support of a resolution for military reinforcement should Syria violate its compliance to destroy chemical weapons. The resolution would fall under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which allows the international body to approve military action. The five permanent members of the Security Council – Russia, United States, China, United Kingdom and France – will meet this week.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 27th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

JUST WATCH – NO MENTION OF OIL PRODUCTION HERE! THAT IS DIPLOMACY!

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julia sweig

25/09/2013 -   Folha de S.Paulo

Perguntas retrospectivas.

Publicidade

Ouvir o texto

Visualize o cenário nos bastidores do dia de abertura da Assembleia-Geral das Nações Unidas, ontem. Enquanto Dilma e Obama aguardavam juntos para fazer seus discursos, será que Obama indicou estar aberto ao chamado dela de reconhecer o direito à privacidade como direito humano, civil, e soberano?

Terá Dilma desejado sorte a Obama na busca de apoio por uma resolução sobre a Síria? Duvido. As divergências deles em relação a questões importantes de governança global e segurança internacional parecem pronunciadas, novamente.

Longe das câmeras, porém, quem sabe eles tenham se cumprimentado até calorosamente, com um suspiro de alívio –felizes, por motivos diferentes, por terem “adiado” a visita de Estado e o jantar oficial.

Dilma não precisa mais se preocupar com a inevitável e superficial crítica da imprensa ao seu vestido de baile. Mais seriamente, não precisa sentir-se frustrada pelo fato de a agenda bilateral, mesmo antes do escândalo da NSA, não possuir a ambição substantiva à qual faria jus um evento tão carregado de simbolismo. E Obama, conhecido por sua aversão às exigências sociais da Presidência, talvez se alegre com a perspectiva de passar uma noite tranquila com Michelle e suas filhas ou cuidando de questões mais importantes para seu legado.

O escândalo da NSA, a resposta da Casa Branca e a decisão de Dilma de cancelar a visita revelaram a fraqueza do relacionamento EUA-Brasil. Tirando grandes empresas, nem Dilma nem Obama têm bases eleitorais que estejam pedindo o fortalecimento dos laços. Com notáveis exceções, a linguagem corporal das burocracias de Washington e Brasília agora corre o risco de reverter para a de uma era anterior, marcada pelo ceticismo mútuo.

Terá Brasília novamente concluído que Washington se opõe fortemente à ascensão do Brasil? Terá Washington voltado a supor que o Brasil prefira exercer o papel de alternativa à hegemonia americana –quer seja em relação à governança da internet, na América Latina ou em uma série de questões globais? Espero que não, mas a percepção corre o risco de virar realidade.

Uma análise retrospectiva do “adiamento” da visita impõe o reconhecimento de verdades difíceis: Obama não pediu desculpas ao povo ou às empresas americanas pela espionagem da NSA. Ele demorou a reconhecer os excessos e violações de privacidade cometidos e de maneira alguma obrigou a NSA a suspender a espionagem. É difícil imaginar o Brasil recebendo resposta melhor que a que a população americana recebeu até agora.

Em vista do legado de espionagem de Estado no Brasil –cometida por um regime militar apoiado pelos EUA–, será que autoridades americanas esperavam que os brasileiros se orgulhassem da espionagem da NSA, enxergando-a como sinal da importância que Washington atribui ao Brasil no sistema global?

Com relação à vigilância da NSA, Washington tem uma divergência política séria com o Brasil e várias outras democracias importantes. A diplomacia não poderia resolver essa diferença. Mas, em vista da importância do Brasil como centro de passagem de cabos transatlânticos de fibra ótica, Dilma e Obama realmente têm o que discutir.

DivulgaçãoJulia Sweig é diretora do programa de América Latina e do Programa Brasil do Council on Foreign Relations, centro de estudos da política internacional dos EUA. Escreve às quartas-feiras, a cada duas semanas na versão impressa do caderno de ‘Mundo’.

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Postmortem Questions

Author: Julia E. Sweig, Nelson and David Rockefeller Senior Fellow for Latin America Studies and Director for Latin America Studies
September 25, 2013
Folha de Sao Paulo

Originally published in Portuguese on Folha de Sao Paulo:

Picture the scene back stage at the opening day of the United Nations General Assembly yesterday. As Dilma and Obama waited together to give their speeches, did Obama indicate an open mind to Dilma’s call the right to privacy as a civil, human, and sovereign right? Did Dilma wish Obama well in rallying support for a Syria resolution? I doubt it. These days their differences over major issues in global governance and international security again appear pronounced.

Away from the cameras, however, who knows if they greeted one another even warmly, with a knowing sigh of relief, happy, for different reasons, to have “postponed” the State visit and dinner. Dilma doesn’t have to worry about the inevitable, superficial press criticism of her ball gown. More seriously, she doesn’t have to feel frustrated that the bilateral agenda, even before the NSA scandal, lacked the substantive ambition to match such a symbolic event. Obama too, known for his distaste for the social demands of the presidency, might look forward to a quiet evening with Michelle and their daughters, or tend to issues of more legacy-defining consequence.

The NSA scandal, the White House’s response to it, and Dilma’s decision to cancel the state visit, have revealed the weakness of the US-Brazil relationship. Other than big business, neither Dilma nor Obama have constituents clamoring for stronger ties. With notable exceptions, the body language of bureaucracies in Washington and Brasilia now risks reverting to that of another era, when mutual skepticism prevailed.

Has Brasilia again concluded that Washington is dead set against Brazil’s rise? Has Washington reverted to the assumption that Brazil prefers to play the role of an alternative to American hegemony—whether on internet governance, in Latin America, or on a slew of global issues? I hope not, but perception, the cliché suggests, risks becoming reality.

A post mortem of the State visit’s “postponement” requires hard truths: President Obama hasn’t apologized to the American people or American companies for NSA spying. He has been slow to acknowledge the overreach and violations of privacy, and certainly has not compelled the NSA to stop its surveillance. It is hard to imagine Brazil achieving a better response than the American people have to date.

Given the legacy of state surveillance in Brazil—by a U.S.-supported military régime—did U.S. officials expect Brazilians to take pride in the NSA spying as a sign of just how important Washington regards Brazil’s place in the global system?

On NSA surveillance, Washington has a serious policy difference with Brazil and a number of other major democracies. Diplomacy couldn’t bridge the divide. But given Brazil’s importance as a hub for transatlantic fiber optic cables, Dilma and Obama really do have something to talk about.


 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 18th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


When several months ago I expressed my outrage at a Brazil-America Business meeting – both sides said that his was common practice – maybe on Wall Street – but I did not accept their self serving argument.
I am glad thus that Dilma does take a principled position and maybe President Obama will tell his agencies that there are limits to US Oil.<
/strong>

Germany is yet to express their own disgust – but then they have elections so they think this is an excuse.

—————


Brazil’s Leader Postpones State Visit to Washington Over Spying.

By SIMON ROMERO
Published: September 17, 2013

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, said Tuesday that she was postponing a state visit to the United States, delivering a sharp rebuke to the Obama administration over revelations that the National Security Agency had spied on her, her inner circle of top aides and Brazil’s largest company, the oil giant Petrobras.
Related

Snowden Among Nominees for a European Human Rights Prize (September 18, 2013)
N.S.A. Spied on Brazilian Oil Company, Report Says (September 9, 2013)
N.S.A. Able to Foil Basic Safeguards of Privacy on Web (September 6, 2013)


The move by Ms. Rousseff showed how the disclosures of United States surveillance practices by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor, were aggravating Washington’s ties with an array of nations, including European allies like Germany.

In the case of Brazil, Latin America’s largest nation, the move to effectively suspend a state visit to the United States — a remarkably rare decision in the annals of diplomacy — threatens to unravel years of Washington’s efforts to recognize Brazil’s rising profile in the developing world and blunt the growing influence of China, which has surpassed the United States as Brazil’s top trading partner.

President Obama spoke with Ms. Rousseff by telephone for 20 minutes on Monday night, but failed to persuade her to go through with the visit, which had been scheduled for late October. A series of news reports about N.S.A. spying in Brazil had clearly irked Ms. Rousseff in recent weeks, and her government demanded a full explanation from Washington.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. had called Ms. Rousseff to try to ease tension over the spying revelations, and Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Brazil to discuss the matter, with officials in Brasília publicly criticizing his explanations as unsatisfactory. Susan E. Rice, Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, said last week that reports about the N.S.A.’s activities in Brazil had raised “legitimate questions,” a statement falling short of Brazil’s expectations.

“Washington doesn’t do contrition very well,” said Julia E. Sweig, director for Latin American studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, emphasizing how the relationship between United States and Brazil was still not strong enough to withstand the turmoil over the N.S.A. revelations.

The White House insisted in a statement on Tuesday that the “broad relationship” between Brazil and the United States “should not be overshadowed by a single bilateral issue, no matter how important or challenging the issue may be.” For that reason, the statement said, Mr. Obama and Ms. Rousseff agreed to postpone the visit to an undetermined time.

In addition to their telephone conversation on Monday night, Ms. Rousseff and Mr. Obama had discussed the N.S.A. revelations during the meeting of Group of 20 leaders in St. Petersburg, Russia, this month, the White House pointed out.

“The president has said that he understands and regrets the concerns that disclosures of alleged U.S. intelligence activities have generated in Brazil and made clear that he is committed to working together with President Rousseff and her government in diplomatic channels to move beyond this issue as a source of tension in our bilateral relationship,” the statement said.

The White House also said that a broad review of the American intelligence posture would take several months to complete, and that the leaders had agreed that the visit should be delayed until the spying issue was resolved.

Meanwhile, while commerce is still thriving between Brazil and the United States, business leaders and trade experts in both countries were trying to gauge how putting the visit off would affect efforts to bolster ties.

“It’s simply disappointing to see this turn in policy,” said Christian Lohbauer, a political scientist at the University of São Paulo who has represented Brazilian exporters of orange juice. “The diplomatic agenda should be focused on what’s practical for both nations, which in Brazil’s case is developing its economy through strong relations with a country like the United States.”

But even before Ms. Rousseff’s announcement, expectations were low for the concrete results of the state visit. No major trade agreement was anticipated, and Washington has refrained from explicitly supporting Brazil’s bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, as Mr. Obama did for India in 2010.

Ahead of 2014 elections, Ms. Rousseff stands to gain among some elements within the governing Workers Party by meeting their demands for a strong response on the spying issue, but political analysts here pointed out that Brazil’s move was still relatively mild, and avoided the expulsion of United States diplomats or limits on investments by American companies.

“It’s a friction point in relations but not a breakup,” said Geraldo Zahran, a specialist on Brazil’s ties with the United States at Pontifical Catholic University in São Paulo.

Still, others assailed Washington’s response to Brazil in the face of growing ire over the espionage revelations, reports of which have been televised nationally for weeks. As resentment festered in Brasília, the Obama administration seemed to put the tension with Brazil on the back burner, focusing on other issues like Syria.

“The inaction in the face of such an overreach has proved costly,” said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington policy group, about the administration’s efforts to offset the damage caused by the spying. “Washington would be wise to reflect on what this means for its most crucial diplomatic efforts in this hemisphere.”

Michael D. Shear contributed reporting from Washington.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 9th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

WILL BRAZIL BRING OIL TO THE WORLD MARKET? ACTUALLY WHY SHOULD THEY? THAT WAS BEHIND THE SPYING – WILL BRAZIL REACT AS THEY SHOULD? WE TACKLED THESE TOPICS IN PREVIOUS POSTINGS AND NEVER MISS BEING AMAZED BY THE POWER OF THE OIL INTERESTS – AND WAYS THEY FIND TO STAND IN THE WAY OF THOSE THAT TRY FOR A WORLD THAT IS NOT BASED ON THE EXPLOITATION OF FOSSIL FUELS.


Significant New NSA Stories to Be Published Imminently.

By Glenn Greenwald, Guardian UK

September 8, 2013

The implications of the prior week’s reporting of NSA stories continue to grow.

I’m currently working on what I believe are several significant new NSA stories, to be published imminently here, as well as one very consequential story about NSA spying in Brazil that will first be broadcast Sunday night on the Brazilian television program Fantastico (because the report has worldwide implications, far beyond Brazil, it will be translated into English and then quickly published on the internet). Until then, I’m posting below the video of the 30-minute interview I did yesterday on Democracy Now with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez about our NSA encryption story and ongoing US/UK attacks on press freedom (the transcript of that interview is here).

There has been some excellent commentary on the implications of the NSA/GCHQ encryption story we published this week. The LA Times’ Jim Healey says the story is “the most frightening” yet, and explains why he thinks that. The Bloomberg technology columnist David Meyer’s analysis of what this all means is worth reading in its entirety. In the Guardian, security expert Bruce Schneier, who has worked with us on a couple of soon-to-be-published stories, identifies 5 ways to maintain the privacy of your internet communications notwithstanding the efforts of the NSA and GCHQ to induce companies to build vulnerabilities into certain types of encryption.

As for Brazil, the fallout continues from our report last week on Fantastico revealing the NSA’s very personal and specific surveillance targeting of Brazilian president Dilma Rouseff and then-leading-candidate (now Mexican president) Enrique Peña Nieto (the NSA documents we published about those activities are here). In an interview this week with The Hindu’s Shobhan Saxena, Brazil’s highly popular ex-president Lula vehemently condemned NSA spying abuses and said Obama should “personally apologize to the world”. The New York Times’ Simon Romero has a good article from yesterday on the thus-far-unsuccessful attempts by Obama to placate the anger in the region from this report. As for the new report coming Sunday night in Brazil, please take note of this adamant statement last week from the NSA, as reported by the Washington Post [asterisks in original]:

“US intelligence services are making routine use around the world of government-built malware that differs little in function from the ‘advanced persistent threats’ that US officials attribute to China. The principal difference, US officials told The Post, is that China steals US corporate secrets for financial gain.

‘The Department of Defense does engage’ in computer network exploitation, according to an e-mailed statement from an NSA spokesman, whose agency is part of the Defense Department. ‘The department does ***not*** engage in economic espionage in any domain, including cyber.’”

In Europe this week, President Obama has been making similar claims when asked about NSA spying, repeatedly assuring people that NSA surveillance is overwhelmingly devoted to stopping terrorism threats.

One big problem the NSA and US government generally have had since our reporting began is that their defenses offered in response to each individual story are quickly proven to be false by the next story, which just further undermines their credibility around the world. That NSA denial I just excerpted above has already been disproven by several reports (see, for instance, the letter published in this article, or the last document published here), but after Sunday, I think it will prove to be perhaps the NSA’s most misleading statement yet.

—————————

N.S.A. Spied on Brazilian Oil Company, Report Says
By SIMON ROMERO

From Rio de Janeiro for The New York Times
Published: September 9, 2013

RIO DE JANEIRO — The National Security Agency spied on Petrobras, Brazil’s giant national oil company, according to a report here on Sunday night by the Globo television network, in the latest revelation of the agency’s surveillance methods that have raised tension between Brazil and the United States.
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Still, details were sparse in the report as to precisely what information the N.S.A. may have obtained from spying on Petrobras, raising questions about what objectives the agency could have in targeting the company, which is controlled by Brazil’s government and ranks among the world’s largest oil producers.

The report, based on documents obtained from Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor, said Petrobras figured among other prominent N.S.A. targets, including Google; the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or Swift, a consortium based in Belgium that aims to allow banks around the world to securely exchange financial information; and France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

It was the latest in a series of reports here in which Glenn Greenwald, an American journalist living in Rio de Janeiro who is working with Globo, has shed light on N.S.A. activities in Latin America from documents given to him by Mr. Snowden.

In a report last week, Globo revealed that the N.S.A. had spied on the presidents of Brazil and Mexico and their top aides, producing an angry reaction from Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, who held out the possibility of canceling a state visit to Washington in October that was arranged to recognize Brazil’s importance to the United States.

In a statement issued after the Globo report was aired, James R. Clapper, the Obama administration’s director of national intelligence, said that it was no secret that the United States government collected intelligence about financial matters. Mr. Clapper said that doing so was needed to gather insight into the economic policies of other countries.

“What we do not do, as we have said many times, is use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of — or give intelligence we collect to — U.S. companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line,” Mr. Clapper said in the statement.

Petrobras did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the televised report on Sunday night.

Globo acknowledged in its report that it was unclear what information the N.S.A. was seeking by spying on Petrobras, but the television network emphasized that the company controlled vast quantities of data on Brazil’s offshore oil fields. Brazil is planning to auction exploration licenses in October that would allow foreign oil companies to form ventures with Petrobras to explore for oil in deep-sea areas.

Petrobras has symbolized Brazil’s ambition of emerging as a global energy powerhouse after discoveries over the last decade of large offshore oil reserves, but the sprawling company has recently struggled with delays of major oil projects, soaring debt and declining production at some of its older offshore oil fields.

In contrast to some other major oil-producing countries like Mexico and Saudi Arabia, where state-controlled oil companies hold monopolies, Brazil already allows international oil companies to have extensive operations. While Petrobras still wields by far the most influence in Brazil’s oil industry, American, Chinese and European energy companies have been seeking to expand here.

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

Further pearls you find at www.innercitypress.com/reuters2sp… There you get info on how the UN covers some of these topics.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 29th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


This posting is based on the reporting of our friend Matthew Russell Lee on www.InnerCityPress.com
His observations were titled: “As Brazil Gets Olympic Baton, No Questions on Spending, UK Lobbied by Saudi.”

UNITED NATIONS, July 29, 2013 — UN’s Ban Ki-moon presided at the event – the transfer of the Summer Olympics baton from UK to Brazil – that was held at 3pm today in front of room #2 in the North Building (the previously temporary building) at UN Headquarters in New York. Lucky UN Secretary General – finally someone actually asked for his help in an important Inter-National procedure.

Ban Ki-moon, fresh from issuing a statement about the attack on a building housing Turkish personnel in Mogadishu, arrived and the speeches began.

A range of Permanent Representatives showed up: Sylvie Lucas of Luxembourg and her counterparts Costa Rica’s Eduardo Ulibarri-Bilbao, Bolivia’s Sacha Sergio Llorentty Solíz, Gabon’s Nelson Messone, New Zealand’s Jim Mclay, Kazakhstan’s Byrganym Aitimova (an Olympian, who also spoke at China’s Li Baodong’s farewell), Saudi Arabia’s Abdallah Yahya A. Al-Mouallimi and Kenya’s Macharia Kamau.

The main actors were nevertheless the pair: UK’s Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant and Brazil’s new Permanent Representative Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado who is one of our favorites because he saved the UN last year at the RIO+20 Conference that without his accoutrement could have sounded the practical end of these Non-united Nations.

Ambassador Lyall Grant joked about “Big Ban” in front of Big Ben; Ban used the opportunity to talk up the 2018 Winter Olympics in his native South Korea, which Yonhap says he will visit for six days in late August, and Brazil’s Ambassador Figueiredo Machado talked about trying to live up to London’s standard.

The UK Mission to the UN asked journalists accredited by the UN system to RSVP and put it in the UN Media Alert – this unlike the morning’s General Assembly briefing on Syria that seemingly nobody at the UN wanted to publicize.

A riser for camera-persons had been set up; there were speakers for sound and UNTV was there. We were not there but it seems the event was just something to see but not to ask any questions about – that is what angered Mr. Lee and it shows clearly in his report. Investigative journalists have difficulty in situations engineered by the UN where you cannot put up questions. In the end this decreases media coverage.

What Mr. Lee would have wanted to ask relates to spending on the Olympics, the location of newly built stadiums and Sustainability. He also had prepared questions about FIFA who gave the World Cup to Qatar, with talk now turning to holding it in the winter due to heat. Or does Ban Ki-moon think it’s “sustainable” to try to air-condition an outdoor stadium?

Oh well – not able to ask questions he just used his eyes and saw at the end of the event, Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Representative Abdallah Yahya A. Al-Mouallimi, who spoke earlier in the day about Syria, was seen chatting now up Lyall Grant. Inner City Press asked Kenya’s Permanent Representative Macharia Kamau what brought him to the event. “We always do well,” he joked, “we need commitments to get good starting places,” he said.

At the UN the games are always on – the Olympics are only a sometime thing.

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

N.S.A. Spied on Brazilian Oil Company, Report Says
By SIMON ROMERO
Published: September 9, 2013

RIO DE JANEIRO — The National Security Agency spied on Petrobras, Brazil’s giant national oil company, according to a report here on Sunday night by the Globo television network, in the latest revelation of the agency’s surveillance methods that have raised tension between Brazil and the United States.
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Follow @nytimesworld for international breaking news and headlines.

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Still, details were sparse in the report as to precisely what information the N.S.A. may have obtained from spying on Petrobras, raising questions about what objectives the agency could have in targeting the company, which is controlled by Brazil’s government and ranks among the world’s largest oil producers.

The report, based on documents obtained from Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor, said Petrobras figured among other prominent N.S.A. targets, including Google; the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or Swift, a consortium based in Belgium that aims to allow banks around the world to securely exchange financial information; and France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

It was the latest in a series of reports here in which Glenn Greenwald, an American journalist living in Rio de Janeiro who is working with Globo, has shed light on N.S.A. activities in Latin America from documents given to him by Mr. Snowden.

In a report last week, Globo revealed that the N.S.A. had spied on the presidents of Brazil and Mexico and their top aides, producing an angry reaction from Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, who held out the possibility of canceling a state visit to Washington in October that was arranged to recognize Brazil’s importance to the United States.

In a statement issued after the Globo report was aired, James R. Clapper, the Obama administration’s director of national intelligence, said that it was no secret that the United States government collected intelligence about financial matters. Mr. Clapper said that doing so was needed to gather insight into the economic policies of other countries.

“What we do not do, as we have said many times, is use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of — or give intelligence we collect to — U.S. companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line,” Mr. Clapper said in the statement.

Petrobras did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the televised report on Sunday night.

Globo acknowledged in its report that it was unclear what information the N.S.A. was seeking by spying on Petrobras, but the television network emphasized that the company controlled vast quantities of data on Brazil’s offshore oil fields. Brazil is planning to auction exploration licenses in October that would allow foreign oil companies to form ventures with Petrobras to explore for oil in deep-sea areas.

Petrobras has symbolized Brazil’s ambition of emerging as a global energy powerhouse after discoveries over the last decade of large offshore oil reserves, but the sprawling company has recently struggled with delays of major oil projects, soaring debt and declining production at some of its older offshore oil fields.

In contrast to some other major oil-producing countries like Mexico and Saudi Arabia, where state-controlled oil companies hold monopolies, Brazil already allows international oil companies to have extensive operations. While Petrobras still wields by far the most influence in Brazil’s oil industry, American, Chinese and European energy companies have been seeking to expand here.

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

Matthew Russell Lee also writes that the “Club des Chefs des Chefs” — literally, 25 of those who cook for heads of state — will set up shop in room S-310 – the room the UN gives to the UN Correspondents Association (UNCA), along with an also locked-up pantry.

There is something rotten cooking in this kitchen, alongside the gushed-out presence of “White House top chef Chisteta Comerford and, yes, “Her Majesty the Queen’s chef Mark Flanagan.”

We really know nothing more then that, and wonder if this is part of the UN preoccupation with poverty and hunger in the world. These Chefs surely can help when it comes to bake that famous French Queen’s cake – seems like another feat of good diplomacy – this time wrapped in secrecy.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 28th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


The reports say that at the final event on Copacabana beach there were THREE MILLION PEOPLE IN ATTENDANCE.

 www.nytimes.com/video/2013/07/26/…

With pope in Rio, sin-city revelry yields to piety.

By Juan Forero, Published: July 27, 2013 for The Americas in The Washington Post

IN RIO DE JANEIRO — Temptation is obvious everywhere — there are the beaches and the bikinis, the sultry samba beat and, as even the visiting Pope Francis cautioned in a memorable quip, the local sugar-cane-based liquor, cachaca, which packs a wallop.

Rio’s enthralling attributes weren’t lost on Carlos Carrillo, a 37-year-old American pilgrim who said he was well aware of the place’s ribald reputation before he arrived here for the pope’s first overseas journey. “This is sin city,” said Carrillo, a cargo screener who traveled with seven other Catholics from his California parish.

But during the pontiff’s visit, which ends Sunday with a final Mass on the usually hedonistic Copacabana beach, the bawdy Rio of samba nightclubs and Carnival gave way to a different kind of festival. That would be the week-long annual World Youth Day, a gathering of young Catholics from around the globe who this year came to Brazil to renew their faith with Francis at the dawn of his papacy.

Think of it as Woodstock for Catholics, minus Jimi Hendrix, the free love and the marijuana.

“Show your love for Christ,” Francis exhorted, and they have, coming from nearly 180 countries to atone for sins and strengthen their bond with the Church. That they are doing it in Rio — a city world-famous for its wild and often drunken revelry, which has earned it the church’s censure over the years — at first might seem to be a contradiction.

But while Rio may be known for luring partygoers, it also has long attracted missionaries, preachers and all manner of Christian soldiers who know they’ll find folks in need of spiritual cleansing here — sinners of every stripe. The proof is in the elaborate evangelical churches in the city, among the world’s biggest, the myriad soapbox preachers and the strong presence of the Catholic Church.

“Biblically speaking, Christ always goes to the darkest places,” Carrillo said. “The way I see it, he’s reeling in people, in that sense.”

Many young Catholics said they came to focus on their faith, not Rio’s enticements. Camila Lara, 18, from Parana state in Brazil’s south, said she was especially drawn by the chance to show contrition, made easy here by the Catholic Church’s “we’ll come to you” strategy.

She asked for forgiveness, like many others, at Rio’s Quinta da Boa Vista Park, where priests and the pope listened to penitents in makeshift confessionals (Francis heard from three Brazilians, a Venezuelan and an Italian).

“Sincerely, for me, it was the best confession I ever had,” Lara said.

For the Rev. Antoine d’Eudeville, a priest from Paris who heard confessions in the park, it was an unusually gratifying experience. He had just heard the pope speak Friday night from an elaborate stage on the beach at Copacabana and was reflecting on a spirited week packed with religious events.

“For us priests, it’s a special time, because it’s not usual to have young people come to us asking for forgiveness,” d’Eudeville said. “Some people don’t go for years.”

Indeed, a recent poll on religious trends in Brazil showed that, among Catholics, 48 percent had not been to church even once in the last month, another blow for a church that once had a virtual lock on the Brazilian soul. Also sobering was the revelation that fewer than 45 percent of Brazilians between the ages of 16 and 24 identify themselves as Catholics.

But with Francis here, the Catholic Church reigns supreme — at least for now — with organizers estimating that 2 million people flooded the beach at Copacabana on Saturday night to see the pope, the Associated Press reported. That is twice as many as were on hand during the last world youth day, in Madrid two years ago.

D’Eudeville, in fact, commented on how Catholicism in Brazil seems to be so much “more a part of people’s lives, more so than in France.”

He was especially moved, he said, by the young Catholics seeking absolution. “Young people here are strengthened in their faith, in their trust in God,” he said. “They dare go to confession and go to a priest and say heavy things, unload heavy burdens.”

Young Catholics interviewed in the streets of Copacabana, their countries’ flags draped across their shoulders, said they were heeding the pontiff’s message. And Francis, who has been lauded for his plain-spoken ways, told his followers: “Jesus never tires of forgiving us.”

“Everyone’s a sinner,” said Denise Ramos, 22, a university student from Brasilia, the capital. “It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. You can always confess. You can always come closer to God.”

Ramos did, and she said it made her feel “relief.”

“I feel very pure,” she said, standing on a street corner, surrounded by friends nodding in agreement. “I feel almost lighter.”

Ramos, like other college-age visitors to one of the world’s great cities, said she’s well aware of Rio’s secular offerings.

“I’ve been already to Lapa and bars there,” she said, referring to the famous downtown district and its samba clubs. “But going to samba concerts doesn’t mean that I’m a sinner.”

Young Catholics, she said, need to find an equilibrium between religion and the pleasures of youth. “We need to know how to do this, know how to live in the world of today without abandoning being Catholics,” she said.

The organizers seem to have recognized that. So people who went to Copacabana to see an elaborate reenactment of Jesus’s crucifixion presided over by Francis could also hear Catholic rock bands jam on the sand.

The faithful also took in the sights. Carrillo, the cargo screener from California, recounted a tour to the Christ the Redeemer statue, Rio’s white-sand beaches and its eclectic neighborhoods.

A friend of his from California, Miguel Galindo, 19, nodded in agreement.

“The way I see it,” he said, “Rio has the right balance. You have your fun, and you have your spirituality.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 25th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

from:  pschierl at worldbank.org

The 7th Latin American and Caribbean Carbon Forum (LACCF) will take place August 28–30, 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The conference, the foremost event for knowledge sharing and networking on current and future carbon trends, is expected to attract a wide range of government officials, business experts, major international investors and local financial institutions to share experiences on low emissions development, innovative climate finance instruments and domestic initiatives.

While the focus is on the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region, the agenda will also take stock of global climate policy and market developments such as the mapping of carbon pricing initiatives at regional and domestic levels to put a price on carbon to stimulate climate-smart investments, as well as carbon taxation and what is needed to make the market more attractive for the private sector.

For details on the event and for free registration, visit the website - www.latincarbon.com/2013/english/…

The Latin American and Caribbean Carbon Forum (LACCF) is a free of charge regional conference and exhibition platform established in 2006 to promote knowledge and information sharing while facilitating business opportunity environments among main carbon market stakeholders.

Building on the success of six previous editions, the 2013 Latin American & Caribbean Carbon Forum (LACCF) will be held on 28-30 August, at the Windsor Barra Hotel, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

This annual Conference and Exhibition is jointly organized by the World Bank, the Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE), the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and its UNEP Risø Centre, the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

With over 800 local, regional and international participants from private, public and the financial sectors and this unique mix of co-organizers, the LACCF is the pre-eminent regional ‘Pulse Taking’ and ‘Business to Business’ platform. It brings together leading individuals and organizations in the field to share knowledge and information, discuss new tendencies, propose solutions, and identify business opportunities in a rapidly changing area towards low carbon economies and societies.

This event occurs at a crucial moment for global carbon markets:

*

With the widespread uncertainty as to the architecture of the carbon market post-2012.
*

The increasing fragmentation of the market.
*

The abundance of emerging mechanisms and sources of climate finance.

Objectives

The core objective of the
LACCF is to bring together main stakeholders of the climate change mitigation arena and the carbon markets such as:

*

Designated National Authorities (DNAs), national climate change focal points, investment promotion agencies;
*

Project owners, project developers and potential CDM sectoral institutions;
*

Financial institutions, national development banks, stock exchanges, service providers and intermediary companies.

The LACCF promotes a discussion and exchange of experiences among these stakeholders and provide participants with the latest developments regarding emissions trading schemes, low emission development and the future of the carbon markets .

The Forum also facilitates debates around the international and national climate change mitigation policies to promote greenhouse gases (GHG) emission reductions. Finally the LACCF seeks new impulses for increasing a higher volume of low carbon investments in Latin American and the Caribbean.

Specifically, the VII Latin American Carbon Forum aims to:

* Updating on the different views of the challenges associated with global climate change, and the most recent developments in the international carbon market;
* Discussing with project developers and technical specialists of a wide range of sectors and technologies arising from best practices and lessons learned for the implementation of CDM projects and Programmatic CDM in Latin America and the Caribbean region;
* Learning from the most respected experts from the public and private sector on strategies and measures aimed to reduce GHG and to promote the benefits of the CDM in the region;
* Discussing about the potentialities of the carbon markets under the upcoming mitigation efforts to be implemented at international and national levels;
* Developing the understanding of NAMAs and and Low Carbon Development Strategies;
* Advancing the understanding of new market mechanisms;
* Learning on climate financing and green investments in Latin America and the Caribbean region;
* Holding bilateral meetings, both as attendance and by virtual means, between the national CDM offices, project owners, buyers of carbon credits, etc., during the business sessions; and
* Seize opportunities to establish contacts throughout the Forum.

==———–==

The Forum is hosted by the Government of the State of Rio de Janeiro and is convened once again by a partnership amongst the Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and its Risø Centre, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the World Bank.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 19th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Future of U.S. Surveillance

NSA Revelations an Opportunity for United States and Brazil.

Julia E. Sweig

Although revelations of NSA spying provoked an angry reaction last week in Brazil, the United States and Brazil should treat the crisis as an opportunity. Read the Op-Ed
 www.cfr.org/intelligence/nsa-siva…


Meekly – the CFR said:

We are now three months away from President Dilma’s state visit to Washington. For the last few years, the big unfinished items on the bilateral agenda have been trade and the Security Council. Not so defense.

A defense cooperation agreement signed in 2010, even as tension over Iran might well have thwarted it, has created some profitable long term opportunities for Brazilian and American defense firms to enter one another’s markets. Progress in this space is remarkable, if for some uncomfortable, given the history of mutual suspicion when it comes to security affairs.

Now the arena of cyber security and internet governance—sovereign and global—also has the potential to create some very interesting presidential conversations about the tensions these two leaders face between privacy, human rights, civil liberties and security, and about the differences and potential synergies in our cultures of innovation and industrial policy. The topic also opens a door into the global personalities of the two countries, in this case regarding the merits and demerits of multilateral institutions for governing the internet.

Finally, are there any lessons to be learned regarding South America and regional security? Brazil’s experience with SIVAM is an example not only of extensive cooperation and technology sharing between Brazil and the United States—in this case via the defense giant Raytheon—but also an instance wherein Brazil seems to have avoided provoking its neighbors with a sovereign surveillance system, the potential impact of which need not be limited to Brazil’s territorial borders. Although the parallels are imperfect, it might be instructive for the presidents of the two biggest democracies in the Americas to recall the positive SIVAM experience when having the inevitable heart to heart about the NSA disclosures.”

The issue is what will be said behind closed doors and how the US will explain that massive surveillance that clearly had nothing to do with security?

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Will Snowden Come Between United States and Latin America?

Christopher Sabatini

Recent revelations about U.S. surveillance activities in Latin America have provoked a range of negative responses from regional leaders, but the practical consequences will be marginal. Read the Interview
 www.cfr.org/latin-america-and-the…

Recent leaks reveal that U.S. surveillance programs extended into Latin America, going beyond security and military affairs into commercial enterprises as well. How surprising is this?

It’s surprising that in most of the cases, the United States was spying on some of its closest allies in the region. Mexico, Colombia, Brazil—these weren’t places that were hotbeds of terrorism or where we were even spying or gathering information on matters of terrorism. If proven true, [the allegations] reveal that we were gathering information that extended beyond the supposed justification for the NSA program.

Second, while all countries spy on each other, what’s different is the type of spying. We were massively collecting information, potentially even on their citizens communicating with each other. That has triggered an understandable reaction from these governments for the United States to explain what it was doing. This isn’t government-to-government spying, or even government spying on people they suspect could place our national interests at risk. This is casting a very wide net both in terms of the people whose information is being collected and also the topics around which it’s being collected. If proven to be true, this surveillance may very much violate the U.S. congressional justification under which a lot of this had occurred. A third surprising element, if proven true, is that the United States was doing this with the complicity of telecom companies in Brazil—though the U.S. ambassador to Brazil denies these reports.

Some critics have accused some of these countries of hypocrisy for denouncing the United States, because they have their own domestic wiretapping programs. So to what extent is this about privacy, or are the reactions more about sovereignty?

First, there was a lot of heated rhetoric from some leaders even before the allegations came out—about the asylum-seeking, about the unfortunate grounding of President Morales’s plane—that goes far beyond the legitimate concerns of what the spying actually entailed. That rhetoric spilled over in ways that are not very constructive, to the point where you even had Mercosur, a trade association, promise to pull its ambassadors out of Europe—a move that goes far beyond the actual functions of a supposed customs union.

Additionally, two presidential summits have been dedicated to this in Latin America—the Unasur summit that brought together [Rafael] Correa, [Nicolas] Maduro, and [Cristina] Kirchner to denounce the grounding of Evo Morales’s plane, and then Mercosur. It seems disproportionate that so much of these presidents’ time, especially in countries that are facing very severe economic news, would be dedicated to this at a summit level. That’s unprecedented when compared to other regions.

Second, it is largely a sovereignty issue. For a number of these countries, the memories of authoritarian regimes spying on citizens, rounding up activists and opposition, are still very fresh. [Brazilian president] Dilma Rousseff was tortured and detained during the military regime. Mexico dissidents and leaders were also spied on by the PRI [Institutional Revolutionary Party] before 2001. The reactions need to be understood in that sense.

The other thing is, yes, the United States has helped some of these countries set up surveillance programs. Washington was instrumental in helping Colombia set up the programs it uses to monitor FARC [paramilitary group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia], but the United States has always tried to separate those efforts from spying on citizens for political reasons. But once the equipment and know-how has been turned over, anything can happen. That’s what we’ve seen in the case of Panama, for example, where it became known fairly early on that the government has a tendency to eavesdrop on perceived political opponents. That’s where we do need to understand that the alleged NSA revelations are a different kettle of fish. In some ways, it’s “they’re our citizens; we get to spy on them, but you don’t.”

Are there clear distinctions in the ways that Latin American countries have reacted?

There is a range of differences: some reactions are serious, some are performative, and some are simply taking advantage of this. In countries that have taken this as a serious matter—Mexico, Colombia, and Chile—there has been that level of “let’s get to the bottom of it,” couched within a legitimate sense of national sovereignty and protecting their citizens. And the responses have been delivered [to the United States] through diplomatic channels.

In between, you have countries like Brazil, which, for reasons perhaps very much tied to recent history, has made moves outside the realm of typical diplomatic activity, and has called the U.S. ambassador to testify before the Brazilian congress.

Countries on the other end of this spectrum [Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua] were already trying to make hay even before the revelations, by offering asylum to Snowden, which, in some ways, has become somewhat of a red herring. Oddly enough, with the exception of Venezuela, those are not the countries where most of the alleged spying occurred. So it’s completely out of proportion to their level of legitimate victimization—with the exception of Morales’s plane getting grounded.

“[P]olitical leaders may use this for domestic political advantage, [but] it certainly doesn’t play as well as many think.”

Having said that, most citizens of these countries—and we see this in surveys—retain very positive views of the United States. As much as political leaders may use this for domestic political advantage, it certainly doesn’t play as well as many think. Popular opinions hinge much more on domestic issues. A classic example right now is that Rousseff’s popularity went from 57 percent to about 30 percent—that has to do with protests and unmet economic demands; that has nothing to do with spying. These reactions make for good political theater, but I’m not sure they make for good political campaigns.

Are there any concrete consequences for U.S.-Latin American relations? Rousseff recently said the leaks would not affect her planned October trip to Washington.

The practical implications will be minimal, in part because the United States has such a multifaceted relationship with these countries on everything from immigration to education, cultural exchanges, and economic ties. Those things reflect a very diverse relationship that goes far beyond the diplomatic government-to-government activities.

But there are two implications for U.S. relations in the region that are important. One is that the U.S. is currently negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership in Latin America that will bring together economies from most of the Asia-Pacific region with Latin America, except for Colombia and Central America. When telecommunications comes down as one of the areas they are talking about, a lot of those negotiating parties are going to take a very close look at what’s in there and that there are safeguards that protect potential intervention and the flow of communication.

“The United States’ moral standing on being able to talk about issues like freedom of expression has taken a serious hit.”

The second is that the United States’ moral standing on being able to talk about issues like freedom of expression and access to information has taken a serious hit at a time when a number of countries are challenging domestic laws and regional norms concerning these very issues. That’s clearly why we see leaders like Correa, Maduro, Morales, [Nicaragua's Daniel] Ortega—none of whom are paragons of freedom of expression—suddenly become these champions of transparency. It’s ironic, and it also means that the ability of the United States, and in some cases U.S.-based organizations, to speak out in some of these cases is going to be a little more difficult.

On the asylum requests from Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua, it does appear Snowden is trying to get to Latin America. What are realistic possibilities for him as far as ending up there?

I may be proven wrong on this, but I still find it to be a very difficult practical matter that he can find his way to these countries. As much as these leaders have been saying out loud that he is welcome if he can get there, none of them are actually offering to lend their presidential jets to fly him down. For now, it just remains an empty gesture.

[Furthermore,] these governments are elected, however imperfectly. Let’s imagine Snowden has a good, healthy lifespan. I find it hard to believe that a chavista government is going to stay in power in Venezuela for fifty years—the same goes for the Morales and Ortega governments. So [asylum in these countries] may provide him a temporary respite, but it’s no permanent guarantee. Sadly, he is being manipulated for international public opinion by these leaders, and who knows when he himself could become a bargaining chip?

What can the United States can do to ease tensions in the coming weeks?

This is going to be resolved quietly and diplomatically, as a couple of leaders have said—[Colombian president Juan Manuel] Santos has said this; [Mexican president Enrique] Pena Nieto implied the same. Explanations and sharing of details as to the extent of the [surveillance] program and the like hopefully will be addressed. Rather than engage in megaphone diplomacy with the generally aggrieved countries, the United States is handling this quietly. On the other matters of asylum and other things, I think the United States is just letting these countries engage in their own megaphone diplomacy, and when the dust settles, their rantings will probably not have amounted to much.

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The Ongoing Domestic Debate.


Both the Bush and Obama administrations have sought to justify controversial domestic surveillance programs amid pointed criticism from Congress and civil rights activists. Read the Backgrounder.

 www.cfr.org/intelligence/us-domes…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 18th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Anniversary of the Terrorist Attacks in Burgas, Bulgaria and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Press Statement to the Western Hemisphere, Europe and Eurasia lists of the US Department of State.
Marie Harf
Deputy Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
July 18, 2013

The United States notes that July 18 marks the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attack in Burgas, Bulgaria, that claimed the lives of six innocent civilians and the 19 year anniversary of the attack in Buenos Aires, Argentina that killed 85 innocent victims. We extend our condolences to the people of Bulgaria, Argentina, and Israel for the tragic loss of life and call for the perpetrators of these attacks to be brought to justice.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 18th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

At the beginning of this year we posted the following:

2013 Brazil Economic and Political Outlook – A Breakfast Seminar Panel in Manhattan for Thursday, January 24, 2013;

and Brazil, the EU at large, The old Bretton Woods – the World Economy ahead of us – will make appearances in New York City on Monday, February 25, 2013 – Tuesday, February 26, 2013. Posted on Saturday, February 23rd, 2013.

Brazil was at the center of things – was working on becoming a major supplier of oil, and won to be host to major sports competitions. Then came the tremors – a revolt of young people that basically said to the Brazilian government and the world – We Want More.

We posted Brazil and Protests on June 23, 2013,
Old Commodities and the Fate of Eike Batista on June 24, 2013;
and Bill Keller’s The Revolt of the Rising Class on July 1, 2013.

Then on July 7th we posted about the US spying “en-masse” in Brazil (the O’Globo-British Guardian article) and predicted that this was business espionage that will eventually come to hunt the US.


The New York City based Brazilian American Chamber of Commerce, Inc. organized a series of panels:

on Thursday July 11, 2013 on “CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS in BRAZIL” with Professor Albert Fishlow moderating a panel that included Peter Hakim of the Inter-American Dialogue, Vivianne Rodrigues of the Financial Times, and Marcos Troyjo of Columbia University’s BRICLAB.

And yesterday – July 17, 2013, the panel – “Brazil: Midyear Economic and Political Outlook.” The event was held at the Manhattan offices of Debevoise & Plimpton and had the media sponsorship of the Financial Times. The moderator was Paulo Vieira Da Cunha who was Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Brazil. The main speaker was Paul Rudel of the host firm, and the other participants were – Maria Claudia Ribeiro of OppenheimerFunds, Christopher Garman of the Eurasia Group’s Latin America practice, and Paulo Miguel of Quest Investmentos.

On July 25th there will be a third event – a Discussion on the Expansion of Credit in Brazil. This as part of what Wall Street sees as the direction Brazil is taking.

I will thus digest the situation to the best of my understanding and will start by saying that all of his points rather to a US problem and not a Brazil problem.

Let us remember that the audience and membership of Chamber of Commerce are working mainly with American firms centered around Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange. Nevertheless, we must give them credit for looking at the Financial Times as media of choice rather then the Wall Street Journal or The New York Times. So – this is about business and the main business principle they accept is DON’T Rock The Boat.


Marcio Garcia described the 1994 Real Plan and the 1999 inflation targeting that moved unemployment from 12.7% to 6.7% and to practically full employment today. This without denying crises during the way, but saying that if there is any problem today it is nothing worse then a first step in a cyclic situation.

It is China “rebalancing” that may be the first step in a depression that is not a Brazil creation.

What we have said before is that the situation in the US, that has decreased the US market for foreign products, is the real cause for this need for rebalancing and for China making efforts to increase its own internal market.

Brazil was never a true tiger, and its growth at 7,5% in 2010 was stimulated by the government, and led to increase in the upward mobile class.

We have learned now that when you unleash appetites you cannot hope that people will stop wanting to see it continue – so the issue is – how to pass the economy from the Lula stage to the Dilma stage – something that will be facilitated by the fact that Ms. Dilma Rousseff is an economist and can be expected to turn to rules of economy as played out by Wall Street. That does not mean the New York Wall Street audience is enthused by the Workers’ Party in Brazil, but they are ready to accept Dilma with the hope that she will turn to the private sector, and to a system that uses private-public partnerships.

So this is the way to study now investment in Brazil – this in anticipation that Brazil will invite such private investment.

Commodity prices, because of consumer frugality globally, will decline, so investments in Brazil will have to go into infrastructure building. There is expected an end to the political super-cycle of Lula and a return to economic constraints.

That is how Christopher Garman put it. He also looked at the politics and looking at the October 19, 2014 elections in Brazil, he wonders if these changes are possible before the elections.

2005-2013 was a time of a Rise of Quality of Life Agenda. How will needed changes reflect at the Polls? Are the protests just an issue of the Economy Stupid kind, or is it more to it. Here we get to the expectation that the rise has created and the need for follow up – this rather then a true rebellion that really has no justification. So the consensus is that Dilma continues to sit at the head of the table unless Lula decides to return – something nobody thinks that he will want to do.

Education, transportation etc. should have become issues earlier. That was a mistake – but now they will. People whose standard of living has improved want now health care for the family, education for the children, and if you buy a car you do not want to be stuck in the traffic.

Peter Hakim opened his presentation by saying that he thought he will start by talking on the protest movement but a lot else happened i.e. the spying – but then he refused to enlarge on this topic saying that everybody does it. On my question if it might not turn out that some in Brazil will not be upset at this because the amount of spying points at it not as a security issue, but as business snooping, he and Marcos Troyjo were not ready to step into this subject. This leaves me where I started from – the realization the US does not look into depth when creating an image – specially right here in its backyard – the Southern part of its Hemisphere. In the end – it will be hard to deal with the Far East, the Near East, and all the Asia in between, without having Latin America safely in its back.

Peter Hakim pointed out that upheavals in Turkey or Egypt have very specific issues but this is not the case in Brazil. Nevertheless, when they were called to protest – everybody showed up! Lula and Dilma are very popular, but watching other countries protest, got the Brazilians as well in the mood to go to the streets.

And they got their answer from Dilma who said “We will spend more on education, health, welfare” this without looking where the money will come from.”You want it now – we will give it to you.” The protest was not partisan or anti-government but a call for less government corruption he said. The political parties have not spoken up yet and the tassle before elections has not started yet – it might not start before the end of this year.

Troyjo put it so that Brazil’s new position in global affair has led to a feeling of super-power – but others say to Brazil that they may may be taking the risk of missing the train to the future. To repair this there is now a new look of instituting taxes in the State Capitals. In order to get back to a 5% growth Brazil will have to put at least 1% of GDP into R&D he said.

He further said that the protesters know what they want but the politicians have not figured out yet how to filter this into their response. He expects Brazil to become more market friendly and have more capitalism.

Professor Fishlow also said that economics has not entered yet the discussion and he wonders how after the growth of 14 years income could double by 2020 as Dilma promised. The regional differences – the North, the North-East and the South are growing and Dilma’s popularity is greater in the North then in the South.With 24 parties in Congress and a government of 40 cabinet ministries, the bureaucracy is bloated and there is no chance of changing this before the elections. It looks like Greece he said.At the same time, Petrobras is experiencing loses for the first time in its history. Congress can deal with distribution of profits if Petrobras provides the funds. In short – the future will have to provide the priorities for a restructured government and political system in general.

What above says is that Brazil is dependent on growth of its petroleum industry and that might be the wrong idea. Oil provided funds mainly to the few rather then as described to the government kitty. We assume that part of the US espionage in Brazil has to do with the seeking of information about the intent in Brazil of what to do in the energy sector. We doubt that Brazil is well advised if it were to push for growth via oil. Brazil has much more appropriate potential in the alternate energy sector that could help the country as a whole and though we agree that Brazil ought to open its doors to foreign investment, it better keep control on the sectors that open up – this because what is good for the gender may not be good for the goose.

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