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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 27th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

As per e-mail from Maya Valcheva  —  Maya.VALCHEVA at unitar.org  – on behalf of  envdem.yale@gmail.com and envdem@unitar.org where ENVDEM siands for ENVIRONMENTAL GOVERNANCE and DEMOCRACY two topics that did not make it into the AGENDA of the RIO Conference of 1992 and are being tackled only now in the run-up to the Post-2015 decision making process.

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Human Rights, Environmental Sustainability, Post-2015 Development Agenda, and the Future Climate Regime.

3rd UNITAR-Yale Conference on Environmental Governance and Democracy
Yale University, 5-7 September 2014
 
 
The 2014 Conference on Human Rights, Environmental Sustainability, Post-2015 Development Agenda, and the Future Climate Regime will take place from 5-7 September 2014 at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
The Conference is organized by Yale University and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United National Development Programme (UNDP), and the World Resources Institute (WRI).
The Conference will bring together more than 100 scholars and policy experts to discuss state-of-the-art knowledge at the nexus of human rights and the environment, building on more than 70 papers which will be written by researchers and expert practitioners from 40 different countries as a contribution to the Conference.
The keynote presentation will be given by John Knox, the UN Independent Expert on Human Rights and the Environment.
Given that the Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals was just completed, and the upcoming climate change negotiations in Peru are approaching, the Conference also provides an opportunity to develop policy insights for strengthening the human rights-environment interface at the international level.
Details concerning the Conference are available on this Web Page.  
Inquiries may be sent to envdem.yale@gmail.com with cc to envdem@unitar.org.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 27th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

ISIS is to America as Hamas is to Israel

by Alan M. Dershowitz

President Barak Obama has rightfully condemned the ISIS beheading of American James Foley in the strongest terms.  This is what he said:

“There has to be a common effort to extract this cancer so it does not spread. There has to be a clear rejection of the kind of a nihilistic ideologies. One thing we can all agree on is group like (ISIS) has no place in the 21st century.  Friends and allies around the world, we share a common security a set of values opposite of what we saw yesterday. We will continue to confront this hateful terrorism and replace it with a sense of hope and stability.”

At the same time that President Obama has called for an all-out war against the “cancer” of ISIS, he has regarded Hamas as having an easily curable disease, urging Israel to accept that terrorist group, whose charter calls for Israel’s destruction, as part of a Palestinian unity government.  I cannot imagine him urging Iraq, or any other Arab country, to accept ISIS as part of a unity government.

Former President Jimmy Carter and Bishop Desmond Tutu have gone even further, urging the international community to recognize the legitimacy of Hamas as a political party and to grant it diplomatic recognition.  It is hard to imagine them demanding that the same legitimate status be accorded ISIS.

Why then the double standard regarding ISIS and Hamas?  Is it because ISIS is less brutal and violent than Hamas?  It’s hard to make that case.  Hamas has probably killed more civilians—through its suicide bombs, its murder of Palestinian Authority members, its rocket attacks and its terror tunnels—than ISIS has done.  If not for Israel’s Iron Dome and the Israeli Defense Forces, Hamas would have killed even more innocent civilians.  Indeed its charter calls for the killing of all Jews anywhere in the world, regardless of where they live or which “rock” they are hiding behind.  If Hamas had its way, it would kill as least as many people as ISIS would.

Is it the manner by which ISIS kills?  Beheading is of course a visibly grotesque means of killing, but dead is dead and murder is murder.  And it matters little to the victim’s family whether the death was caused by beheading, by hanging or by a bullet in the back of a head.  Indeed most of ISIS’s victims have been shot rather than beheaded, while Hamas terrorists have slaughtered innocent babies in their beds, teenagers on the way home from school, women shopping, Jews praying and students eating pizza.

Is it because ISIS murdered an American?  Hamas has murdered numerous Americans and citizens of other countries.  They too are indiscriminate in who they kill.

Is it because ISIS has specifically threatened to bring its terrorism to American shores, while Hamas focuses its terrorism in Israel?  The Hamas Charter does not limit its murderous intentions to one country.  Like ISIS it calls for a worldwide “caliphate,” brought about by violent Jihad.

Everything we rightly fear and despise from ISIS we should fear and despise from Hamas.  Just as we would never grant legitimacy to ISIS, we should not grant legitimacy to Hamas—at the very least until it rescinds its charter and renounces violence.  Unfortunately that is about as likely as America rescinding its constitution.    Violence, anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism are the sine qua non of Hamas’ mission.

Just as ISIS must be defeated militarily and destroyed as a terrorist army, so too must Hamas be responded to militarily and its rockets and tunnels destroyed.

It is widely, and in my view mistakenly, argued by many academics and diplomats that there can never be a military solution to terrorism in general or to the demands of Hamas in particular.  This conventional wisdom ignores the lessons of history.  Chamberlain thought there could be a diplomatic solution to Hitler’s demands.  Churchill disagreed.  History proved Churchill correct.  Nazi Fascists and Japanese militarists had to be defeated militarily before a diplomatic resolution could be achieved.

So too with ISIS and Hamas.  They must first be defeated militarily and only then might they consider accepting reasonable diplomatic and political compromises.  Another similarity between ISIS and Hamas is that if these terrorist groups were to lay down their arms, there might be peace, whereas if their enemies were to lay down their arms, there would be genocide.

A wonderful cartoon illustrates this:  at one end of the table is Hamas demanding “death to all the Jews!”  At the other end is Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu.  In the middle sits the mediator, who turns to Netanyahu and asks:  “Can’t you at least come half way?”

No democratic nation can accept its own destruction.  We cannot compromise—come half way—with terrorists who demand the deaths of all who stand in the way of their demand for a Sunni caliphate, whether these terrorists call themselves ISIS or Hamas.  Both are, in the words of President Obama, “cancers” that must be extracted before they spread.  Both are equally malignant.  Both must be defeated on the battlefield, in the court of public opinion and in the courts of law.  There can be no compromise with bigotry, terrorism or the demand for a caliphate.  Before Hamas or ISIS can be considered legitimate political partners, they must give up their violent quest for a worldwide Islamic caliphate.

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What Barack Obama Can Learn from Richard Nixon on Israel and Foreign Policy.

August 26, 2014  -  3 comments

Richard Nixon and Barack Obama are rarely compared.  But the way these two presidents have dealt with crises in the Middle East provides instructive contrasts on the nature of leadership.

This summer marks the 40th anniversary of the resignation of President Nixon, a man more associated with skullduggery than leadership.  But in October 1973, when his Vice President was resigning in disgrace and the congressional investigation into his own misconduct was moving to its fatal conclusion, Nixon demonstrated how a leader can take command, master events, and shape history.

His example provides a contrast to the current President, whose concept of leadership involves “leading from behind.”  To the extent it involves taking initiative, it is the initiative of “avoiding doing stupid shit.”

President Obama has not abandoned Israel, nor has he declared himself neutral in its current struggle against Hamas. But time after time, he has undercut Israel’s position, in an effort to curry favor with a hostile world.

His Secretary of State tried to involve Turkey and Qatar, two implacable foes of Israel, in the cease-fire negotiations, even though their financial support enabled Hamas to amass the missiles and build the tunnels that threaten Israel. After an Israeli shell landed close to a UNRWA school in Rafah, his Administration joined the global anti-Israel chorus. Before any investigation could be conducted, the State Department immediately declared itself “appalled” by Israel’s “disgraceful” act – even though Hamas rockets have been found in UNRWA schools at least three times, and even though the U.S. armed forces conducted similar attacks against schools used by hostile forces in Afghanistan. (The Israeli 4-year old boy killed on Friday was the victim of a missile fired from a site near a UNRWA school.)

Most disturbing, Obama’s White House has recently changed the military-to-military relationship by which American weaponry has been transferred to Israel, to require White House and State Department approval. Now these are U.S. weapons, and it is of course up to the U.S. government to set the protocols for their transfer. But to change the rules so abruptly, while Israel is under daily bombardment, is unprecedented.

Once again, it represented the Obama Administration’s tendency to placate the world, rather than stand by a lonely ally. This emerges from an observation by a “senior Obama Administration official” to the Wall Street Journal:

“We have many, many friends around the world. The United States is their strongest friend,” the official said. “The notion that they are playing the United States, or that they’re manipulating us publicly, completely miscalculates their place in the world.”

In other words, the Administration was telling Israel by these leaked remarks: We have many friends.  You do not. Don’t ever forget it.

Sniping at friends to placate their enemies is not leadership. It is not even shrewdness. The United States has won no new friends from undercutting Israel.

To see a different kind of leadership, travel back in time and consider the performance of Richard Nixon in October 1973.

Israel faced a military crisis. Egypt and Syria, backed by nine Arab states and lavishly supplied by the Soviet Union, attacked on Yom Kippur. Israeli forces were thrown back in the Sinai and on the Golan Heights. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan told Prime Minister Golda Meir that Israel faced imminent defeat. The situation was so dire, that the Israeli government considered resorting to a last ditch nuclear option.

In this crisis situation, Richard Nixon ordered a massive airlift of military supplies to Israel. During a 32-day period beginning October 14, jumbo U.S. military aircraft touched down in Israel 567 times, delivering some 22,300 tons of material.

Conducting such an operation was a complicated task. Then, as now, Israel was not popular on the international scene. Fearful of the Arabs’ oil weapon, NATO allies refused to allow U.S. transport planes to refuel in their countries – even while NATO members Turkey and Greece were allowing Soviet supply planes to overfly their territory. Ultimately, the U.S. managed to pressure Portugal to allow landing in the Azores for refueling.

Meanwhile, in Washington, bureaucratic hurdles threatened to delay the airlift. Nixon took charge personally. White House counsel Leonard Garment recalled:

It was Nixon who did it. I was there. As [bureaucratic bickering between the State and Defense departments] was going back and forth, Nixon said, “This is insane….He just ordered Kissinger, Get your [behind] out of here and tell those people to move. “

Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger, concerned by the reaction of the Arabs and Soviets to the airlift, advised sending just three transports. Nixon responded: “We are going to get blamed just as much for three as for 300…Get them in the air, now.”

Nixon worked closely with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on the airlift. When Kissinger gave him a list of the type and quantity of weaponry sought by the Israeli military, Nixon ordered him to double it, then added: “Now get the hell out of here and get the job done.” Informed of a delay caused by disagreements in the Pentagon over which planes to use, Nixon shouted at Kissinger: “[Expletive] it, use every one we have. Tell them to send everything that can fly.”

The airlift helped turn the tide. Egyptian President Anwar Sadat proposed a ceasefire enforced by Soviet and U.S. troops on the ground. The U.S. rejected the proposal. Soviet leader Brezhnev then threatened to send Russian troops to the Middle East unilaterally. Nixon ordered that U.S. military to be put on high alert. Air Force strike units were prepared for attack, and two aircraft carriers were deployed to the Eastern Mediterranean. Brezhnev backed down.

Richard Nixon neither sought nor received any political gain for his decisive leadership. The Watergate investigation intensified, culminating in his resignation ten months later. American Jews, who voted overwhelmingly for Humphrey in 1968 and McGovern in 1972, remained, and remain today, hostile to the man.

But Golda Meir never forgot Nixon’s leadership. For the rest of her life she referred to him as “my president.” She once said, in tones reminiscent of the Passover haggadah: “For generations to come, all will be told of the miracle of the immense planes from the United States bringing in the material that meant life to our people.”

It is doubtful that any Israeli, of any political persuasion, will ever remember Barack Obama as “my president.”

It is also doubtful that friends of the United States in other parts of the globe will remember him that way. When Iranian populists remember Obama, they are likely to remember him as the President who reached out to the regime’s theocratic dictators, but failed to support the courageous demonstrators of the Green Revolution. When the Poles and Czechs remember Obama, they are likely to recall him as the President who reneged on the promise to build a missile defense shield in Europe, to avoid irritating the Russians.  When Ukrainians remember Obama, they are likely to recall him as the President who, after the non-irritated Russians annexed the Crimea, responded by airlifting, not weapons, but 300,000 ready-to-eat meals.

The irony of leadership is that it often proves a more effective tool to win over foes than supplication.  Obama’s forbearance has won the United States no points from Russia or Iran, or any of our other opponents.  It has only disappointed our friends. In contrast, Richard Nixon steadfastly supported Israel during wartime – and was lionized by Egyptians in the aftermath of that war after brokering a ceasefire.

In June 1974, just weeks before his resignation, Nixon visited Egypt and rode in an open railway car from Alexandria to Cairo with President Sadat. An estimated 6 million Egyptians lined the route, cheering him. Sadat saluted Nixon with these words:

Since the 6th of October, and since the change that took place in the American foreign policy, peace is now available in the area. And President Nixon never gave a word and didn’t fulfill it; he has fulfilled every word he gave.

Richard Nixon was a man of many flaws, not least of which was a strong strain of anti-Semitism. But he was also a leader. The current President, driven to make America liked again, may have more charity in his heart, but he has far less spinal fluid in his backbone.

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Lawrence J. Siskind is a San Francisco attorney, who blogs on issues of politics, foreign policy, law, and culture, at ToPutItBluntly.com.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 25th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

August 25, 2014

To: Listings/Critics/Features
From: Jazz Promo Services
Press Contact: Jim Eigo, jim@jazzpromoservices.com
www.jazzpromoservices.com

 

For the eleventh consecutive year, on a glorious end-of-summer night, the intersection of Wall and North Front Streets in Kingston will become “The Jazz Corner of Upstate New York.” Once again, in an evening of music that should not be missed, the Wall Street Jazz Festival presents an array of some of today’s finest jazz artists – pianist Laura Dubin’s trio, saxophonist Virginia Mayhew’s quintet, pianist Roberta Piket’s sextet, plus two all-star ensembles featuring saxophonists “Sweet” Sue Terry and Claire Daly, singers Jay Clayton and Teri Roiger, pianist (and the festival’s Artistic Director) Peggy Stern, among others. For many years now, this annual event has been one of the highlights of my summer, an exciting and engaging way to enjoy the music I love in an elegant, intimate, and inviting setting. 

The Wall Street Jazz Festival, “where the traditions meet the progressives, and all the leaders are women,” it’s happening Saturday, August 30, from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m. in Kingston, NY – and it’s all free!

www.wallstreetjazzfestival.com/home.html

 

Bob Bernotas, Host of “Just Jazz,” Sunday nights, 10:00 p.m-3:00 a.m. at

www.wnti.org

 

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Zephyr Teachout teaches at Fordham Law School. She is the former National Director of the Sunlight Foundation and Director of Online Organizing for Howard Dean’s Campaign. She is a Board Member of Public Campaign Action Fund and Fight for the Future.

She wrote: “In a blog post this week, Former White House Counsel Bob Bauer critiqued an essay I wrote recently entitled “Constitutional Purpose and the Anti-Corruption Principle.” The basic argument of my essay is that the global purposes of the Constitution should be relevant in making hard Constitutional decisions. We ought look beyond the purposes of particular clauses and to the Constitution as a whole when making sense of the application of particular clauses. As I point out in the essay, Courts already do this: they interpret clauses to be consistent with the global principle of Separation of Powers, for instance, even though there is no “Separation of Powers” clause. Therefore, given the strong historical evidence that anti-corruption concerns were as fundamental as any other at the Constitutional convention, anti-corruption concerns should get significant constitutional weight when interpreting other clauses, like the First Amendment.

She was a Professorial adviser to “Occupy Wall Street” – and that is why we make the connection here.

N.Y. / Region

Cuomo Opponent Unbowed by Underdog Status.

By

 

There she was, Prof. Zephir Teachout of Fordham University, just to the right of the stage, waving her arms furiously, hoping that the event’s host, Eric L. Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, would see her and give her a shout-out. No such luck; a tall security guard was in the way.

As Zephyr Teachout was leaving the gospel concert in East Flatbush, a man in a wheelchair called out, “Who are you?” Ever eager, she explained that she was running as a progressive against Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in the Democratic primary.

The man, won over, pointed to a homemade campaign button pinned to Ms. Teachout’s jacket. “Can I have your button?” he asked. She gladly obliged.

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Just a few months ago, Ms. Teachout was a popular Fordham University law professor with ties to Occupy Wall Street and a keen interest in political corruption. But after the liberal Working Families Party approached her to run against Mr. Cuomo — before it arrived at a bitterly contested decision to stick by the governor — Ms. Teachout decided, with the encouragement of other liberal activists, to mount her own long-shot campaign.

Photo

 
Ms. Teachout, a candidate for governor, gave away her campaign button to a potential supporter this month after a gospel concert in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. Credit Andrew Renneisen/The New York Times

Yes, she knows that few New Yorkers have heard of her. Yes, she knows that she will not have enough money for television ads. And yes, she knows that her best shot at statewide exposure — a debate with Mr. Cuomo — is unlikely. Still, she insists that she is gaining momentum, and is zestily campaigning with a kind of cynicism-free optimism that makes her a sunny surprise.

“I didn’t know politics would be this much fun!” she beamed after a South Asian festival in Queens a week ago.

Privately, Ms. Teachout’s admirers say that her campaign has already succeeded, by forcing Mr. Cuomo to embrace more liberal causes. If she gets more than 25 percent in the Sept. 9 primary, some argue, then Mr. Cuomo might need to worry about liberal angst heading into a general election against the Republican candidate, Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive.

Ms. Teachout does not pretend that her task will be easy. But she said the worst that could happen would be that she got only 1 percent of the vote, and that she became known as an idealistic but politically naïve professor.

“We’re underdogs, we know that, but we’re serious underdogs,” she said at a house party near her apartment in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

Ms. Teachout and her running mate for lieutenant governor, Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor, talked about winning over the small number of Democrats who actually vote in primaries.

They hope to tap into disillusionment or even anger with Mr. Cuomo among teachers, public employees and upstate residents opposed to hydraulic fracturing.

Photo

 
Ms. Teachout speaking at a cocktail party in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, where she currently resides. Credit Andrew Renneisen/The New York Times

“In the face of Andrew Cuomo’s silence, I am being loud,” she said in Fort Greene.

Mr. Cuomo has not publicly mentioned Ms. Teachout by name, and his campaign has declined to comment on her candidacy.

Still, avid Democrats are getting to know her. A Vermont native, Ms. Teachout, 42, worked as a death penalty lawyer in North Carolina and co-founded an organization intent on breaking up Wall Street banks. The author of a coming book on political corruption, she is on track for tenure at Fordham early next year.

Her most formative political experience came in 2003, when she became the director of online organizing for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign.

“She was terrific; she was hard-working,” Mr. Dean said during a 10th-anniversary celebration that Ms. Teachout attended for Democracy for New York City, a Dean-inspired group.

She often mentions two United States senators — Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sherrod Brown of Ohio — as role models. She also raves about State Senator Gustavo Rivera of the Bronx and Letitia James, the New York City public advocate.

She even buys into the anti-“crony capitalism” message, if not the prescription, of Dave Brat, the Virginia professor and Tea Party upstart who defeated Eric Cantor, the former House majority leader, in the Republican primary in June.

Photo

 
Ms. Teachout tried on a sari this month at the Chatpati Mela festival in Jackson Heights, Queens. She spoke with the vendors about the challenges of running small businesses. Credit Andrew Renneisen/The New York Times

Like Mr. Brat, Ms. Teachout has little money. But contributions have increased so much since Mr. Cuomo unsuccessfully tried to kick her off the ballot that a highly targeted online advertising campaign is planned. She has a paid staff of about 10, and shares a cramped office in Midtown Manhattan with lawyers, real estate brokers and a casting company.

On the trail, she often asks people what they want in a governor. She has also honed a stump speech, talking about her unusual name (yes, that is her first name, and her last name is Dutch), then touching on public schools, small businesses, transportation and infrastructure.

“In my vision we can have an economy and a democracy that works for all of us, not just the wealthy and well-connected,” she said at a street fair outside the Bronx Zoo a week ago, eliciting a few “that’s right” replies.

To get around, Ms. Teachout usually takes public transportation or relies on rides from volunteers, especially when she travels to Ithaca, Binghamton and other areas to fire up “fractivists.” One afternoon she spent $65 to take five people, including an aide and an independent filmmaker, from the Bronx to Queens by livery cab.

Things do not always go according to plan.

At the Chatpati Mela celebration in Jackson Heights, for example, she could not distribute any campaign literature (black-and-white photocopies) or speak onstage — it was a strictly nonpartisan affair.

Unfazed, she talked excitedly with vendors until she stumbled upon some Bangladeshis selling saris. After hearing about the travails of establishing small businesses, she bought an orange one for $20, and tried it on.

“Should I wear this to my debate with Governor Cuomo?” she joked.

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A version of this article appears in print on August 25, 2014, on page A15 of the New York edition with the headline: Cuomo Opponent Unbowed by Underdog Status.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 24th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 From Daniel Pipes:

Dear Reader:

The article below began life as a presentation at a Muslim conference in Toronto a week ago and is today published in Turkish and English by a newspaper in Turkey.

Also: I appeared August 22 on Sun News Network’s The Arena with Michael Coren, and discussed “Hamas and ISIS on the Rampage.” It’s studio quality and 8 minutes long. Click here.

Yours sincerely,

Daniel Pipes


The Caliphate Brings Trauma.

by Daniel Pipes
Ayd?nl?k (Turkey)
August 24, 2014

www.danielpipes.org/14791/caliphate-trauma

Without warning, the ancient and long powerless institution of the caliphate returned to life on June 29, 2014.
What does this event augur?

The classic concept of the caliphate – of a single successor to Muhammad ruling a unified Muslim state – lasted just over a century and expired with the emergence of two caliphs in 750 CE.

The power of the caliphate collapsed in about the year 940 CE. After a prolonged, shadowy existence, the institution disappeared altogether in 1924. The only subsequent efforts at revival were trivial, such as the so-called Kalifatsstaat in Cologne, Germany. In other words, the caliphate has been inoperative for about a millennium and absent for about a century.

 

“The Kaplan Case,” a German magazine cover story about the “Caliph of Cologne.”


The group named the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria conquered the city of Mosul, population 1.7 million, in June; days later, it adopted the name Islamic State and declared the return of the caliphate. Its capital is the historic town of Raqqa, Syria (population just 220,000), which not-coincidentally served as the caliphate’s capital under Harun al-Rashid for 13 years.

Under the authority of an Iraqi named Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim, the new caliphate projects boundless ambition to rule the entire world (“east and west”) and to impose a uniquely primitive, fanatical, and violent form of Islamic law on everyone.

 

{Harun al-Rashid was the fifth Abbasid Caliph. His actual birth date is debatable, and various sources give dates from 763 to 766. His surname translates to “the Just,” “the Upright” or “the Rightly-Guided.”  He died: March 24, 809 AD, Tous, Iran.

Al-Rashid ruled from 786 to 809, during the peak of the Islamic Golden Age. His time was marked by scientific, cultural, and religious prosperity. Islamic art and music also flourished significantly during his reign. He established the legendary library Bayt al-Hikma (“House of Wisdom”) in Baghdad in modern-day Iraq, and during his rule Baghdad began to flourish as a center of knowledge, culture and trade.

In 796, he moved his court and government to Ar-Raqqah in modern-day Syria.

Since Harun was intellectually, politically, and militarily resourceful, his life and his court have been the subject of many tales. Some are claimed to be factual, but most are believed to be fictitious. An example of what is factual, is the story of the clock that was among various presents that Harun had sent to Charlemagne. The presents were carried by the returning Frankish mission that came to offer Harun friendship in 799. Charlemagne and his retinue deemed the clock to be a conjuration for the sounds it emanated and the tricks it displayed every time an hour ticked.  Among what is known to be fictional is  The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, which contains many stories that are fantasized by Harun’s magnificent court and even Harun al-Rashid himself.

Amongst some Shia Muslims he is despised for his role in the murder of the 7th Imam, Musa ibn Ja’far.

(These lines above were  added by PJ when editing this material for SustainabiliTank.info as we wonder how the ISIS fighters reconcile their deeds with the historic image that put the Ar-Raqqah town on the Caliphate’s map?)}

Caliphs of Baghdad
(749–1258)

 

 

Harun al-Rashid as imagined in a 1965 Hungarian stamp.

 

I have predicted that this Islamic State, despite its spectacular rise, will not survive: “confronted with hostility both from neighbors and its subject population, [it] will not last long.” At the same time, I expect it will leave a legacy:

No matter how calamitous the fate of Caliph Ibrahim and his grim crew, they have successfully resurrected a central institution of Islam, making the caliphate again a vibrant reality. Islamists around the world will treasure its moment of brutal glory and be inspired by it.

 

Looking ahead, here is my more specific forecast for the current caliphate’s legacy:

1. Now that the ice is broken, other ambitious Islamists will act more boldly by declaring themselves caliph. There may well be a proliferation of them in different regions, from Nigeria to Somalia to Afghanistan to Indonesia and beyond.

2. Declaring a caliphate has major implications, making it attractive to jihadis across the umma (the worldwide Muslim community) and compelling it to acquire sovereign control of territory.

3. The Saudi state has taken on a quasi-caliphal role since the formal disappearance of the Ottoman caliphate in 1924. With the emergence of the Raqqa caliphate, the Saudi king and his advisors will be sorely tempted to declare their own version. If the current “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques” (as the Saudi king like to be called), who just turned 90, does not indulge this claim, his successors might well do so, thereby becoming the first caliphate in a recognized state.

 


Pope Benedict XVI (right) met in 2007 with Saudi king (and future Caliph?) Abdullah.
{is this picture a sign of things to come – the Saudi King’s ambition to speak for all Islam?}


4. The Islamic Republic of Iran, the great Shi’ite power, might well do the same, not wanting to be conceptually out-gunned by the Sunnis in Riyadh, thus becoming the second formal caliphal state.

5. This profusion of caliphs will further exacerbate the anarchy and internecine hostility among Muslim peoples.

6. Disillusion will quickly set in. Caliphates will not bring personal security, justice, economic growth, or cultural achievement. One after another, these self-declared universal states will collapse, be overrun, or let lapse their grandiose claims.

7. This caliphate-declaring madness will end some decades hence, with a return to roughly the pre-June 29, 2014, conditions. Looking back then on the caliphal eruption, it will appear as an anachronistic anomaly, an obstacle to modernizing the umma, and a bad dream.

 

In short, declaring the caliphate on June 29 was a major event; and the caliphate is an institution whose time has long passed and, therefore, whose revival bodes much trauma.

—————————–

Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum. This paper was first delivered at a QeRN Academy conference on “The Caliphate as a Political System: Historic Myth or Future Reality?” in Toronto on August 16, 2014. © 2014 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.

Related Topics:  History, Islam This text may be reposted or forwarded so long as it is presented as an integral whole with complete and accurate information provided about its author, date, place of publication, and original URL.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 24th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

SundayReview | Opinion

The Climate Swerve.

By ROBERT JAY LIFTON,  The New York Times,

AMERICANS appear to be undergoing a significant psychological shift in our relation to global warming. I call this shift a climate “swerve,” borrowing the term used recently by the Harvard humanities professor Stephen Greenblatt to describe a major historical change in consciousness that is neither predictable nor orderly.

The first thing to say about this swerve is that we are far from clear about just what it is and how it might work. But we can make some beginning observations which suggest, in Bob Dylan’s words, that “something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is.” Experience, economics and ethics are coalescing in new and important ways. Each can be examined as a continuation of my work comparing nuclear and climate threats.

The experiential part has to do with a drumbeat of climate-related disasters around the world, all actively reported by the news media: hurricanes and tornadoes, droughts and wildfires, extreme heat waves and equally extreme cold, rising sea levels and floods. Even when people have doubts about the causal relationship of global warming to these episodes, they cannot help being psychologically affected. Of great importance is the growing recognition that the danger encompasses the entire earth and its inhabitants. We are all vulnerable.

This sense of the climate threat is represented in public opinion polls and attitude studies. A recent Yale survey, for instance, concluded that “Americans’ certainty that the earth is warming has increased over the past three years,” and “those who think global warming is not happening have become substantially less sure of their position.”

Falsification and denial, while still all too extensive, have come to require more defensive psychic energy and political chicanery.

But polls don’t fully capture the complex collective process occurring.

The most important experiential change has to do with global warming and time. Responding to the climate threat — in contrast to the nuclear threat, whose immediate and grotesque destructiveness was recorded in Hiroshima and Nagasaki — has been inhibited by the difficulty of imagining catastrophic future events. But climate-related disasters and intense media images are hitting us now, and providing partial models for a devastating climate future.

At the same time, economic concerns about fossil fuels have raised the issue of value. There is a wonderfully evocative term, “stranded assets,” to characterize the oil, coal and gas reserves that are still in the ground. Trillions of dollars in assets could remain “stranded” there. If we are serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions and sustaining the human habitat, between 60 percent and 80 percent of those assets must remain in the ground, according to the Carbon Tracker Initiative, an organization that analyzes carbon investment risk. In contrast, renewable energy sources, which only recently have achieved the status of big business, are taking on increasing value, in terms of returns for investors, long-term energy savings and relative harmlessness to surrounding communities.

Pragmatic institutions like insurance companies and the American military have been confronting the consequences of climate change for some time. But now, a number of leading financial authorities are raising questions about the viability of the holdings of giant carbon-based fuel corporations. In a world fueled by oil and coal, it is a truly stunning event when investors are warned that the market may end up devaluing those assets. We are beginning to see a bandwagon effect in which the overall viability of fossil-fuel economics is being questioned.

Can we continue to value, and thereby make use of, the very materials most deeply implicated in what could be the demise of the human habitat? It is a bit like the old Jack Benny joke, in which an armed robber offers a choice, “Your money or your life!” And Benny responds, “I’m thinking it over.” We are beginning to “think over” such choices on a larger scale.

This takes us to the swerve-related significance of ethics. Our reflections on stranded assets reveal our deepest contradictions. Oil and coal company executives focus on the maximum use of their product in order to serve the interests of shareholders, rather than the humane, universal ethics we require to protect the earth. We may well speak of those shareholder-dominated principles as “stranded ethics,” which are better left buried but at present are all too active above ground.

Such ethical contradictions are by no means entirely new in historical experience. Consider the scientists, engineers and strategists in the United States and the Soviet Union who understood their duty as creating, and possibly using, nuclear weapons that could destroy much of the earth. Their conscience could be bound up with a frequently amorphous ethic of “national security.” Over the course of my work I have come to the realization that it is very difficult to endanger or kill large numbers of people except with a claim to virtue.

The climate swerve is mostly a matter of deepening awareness. When exploring the nuclear threat I distinguished between fragmentary awareness, consisting of images that come and go but remain tangential, and formed awareness, which is more structured, part of a narrative that can be the basis for individual and collective action.

In the 1980s there was a profound worldwide shift from fragmentary awareness to formed awareness in response to the potential for a nuclear holocaust. Millions of people were affected by that “nuclear swerve.” And even if it is diminished today, the nuclear swerve could well have helped prevent the use of nuclear weapons.

With both the nuclear and climate threats, the swerve in awareness has had a crucial ethical component. People came to feel that it was deeply wrong, perhaps evil, to engage in nuclear war, and are coming to an awareness that it is deeply wrong, perhaps evil, to destroy our habitat and create a legacy of suffering for our children and grandchildren.

Social movements in general are energized by this kind of ethical passion, which enables people to experience the more active knowledge associated with formed awareness. That was the case in the movement against nuclear weapons. Emotions related to individual conscience were pooled into a shared narrative by enormous numbers of people.

In earlier movements there needed to be an overall theme, even a phrase, that could rally people of highly divergent political and intellectual backgrounds. The idea of a “nuclear freeze” mobilized millions of people with the simple and clear demand that the United States and the Soviet Union freeze the testing, production and deployment of nuclear weapons.

Could the climate swerve come to include a “climate freeze,” defined by a transnational demand for cutting back on carbon emissions in steps that could be systematically outlined?

With or without such a rallying phrase, the climate swerve provides no guarantees of more reasonable collective behavior. But with human energies that are experiential, economic and ethical it could at least provide — and may already be providing — the psychological substrate for action on behalf of our vulnerable habitat and the human future.

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Robert Jay Lifton is a psychiatrist and the author of “Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima,” and a memoir, “Witness to an Extreme Century.”

A version of this op-ed appears in print on August 24, 2014, on page SR4 of the New York edition with the headline: The Climate Swerve.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 23rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Contributor

Saudis Must Stop Exporting Extremism:

ISIS Atrocities Started With Saudi Support for Salafi Hate.

By ED HUSAIN,  

ALONG with a billion Muslims across the globe, I turn to Mecca in Saudi Arabia every day to say my prayers. But when I visit the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the resting place of the Prophet Muhammad, I am forced to leave overwhelmed with anguish at the power of extremism running amok in Islam’s birthplace. Non-Muslims are forbidden to enter this part of the kingdom, so there is no international scrutiny of the ideas and practices that affect the 13 million Muslims who visit each year.

Last week, Saudi Arabia donated $100 million to the United Nations to fund a counterterrorism agency. This was a welcome contribution, but last year, Saudi Arabia rejected a rotating seat on the United Nations Security Council. This half-in, half-out posture of the Saudi kingdom is a reflection of its inner paralysis in dealing with Sunni Islamist radicalism: It wants to stop violence, but will not address the Salafism that helps justify it.

Let’s be clear: Al Qaeda, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Boko Haram, the Shabab and others are all violent Sunni Salafi groupings. For five decades, Saudi Arabia has been the official sponsor of Sunni Salafism across the globe.

Most Sunni Muslims around the world, approximately 90 percent of the Muslim population, are not Salafis. Salafism is seen as too rigid, too literalist, too detached from mainstream Islam. While Shiite and other denominations account for 10 percent of the total, Salafi adherents and other fundamentalists represent 3 percent of the world’s Muslims.

Unlike a majority of Sunnis, Salafis are evangelicals who wish to convert Muslims and others to their “purer” form of Islam — unpolluted, as they see it, by modernity. In this effort, they have been lavishly supported by the Saudi government, which has appointed emissaries to its embassies in Muslim countries who proselytize for Salafism. The kingdom also grants compliant imams V.I.P. access for the annual hajj, and bankrolls ultraconservative Islamic organizations like the Muslim World League and World Assembly of Muslim Youth.

After 9/11, under American pressure, much of this global financial support dried up  {something this website doubts indeed – a PJ comment}, but the bastion of Salafism remains strong in the kingdom, enforcing the hard-line application of outdated Shariah punishments long abandoned by a majority of Muslims. Just since Aug. 4, 19 people have been beheaded in Saudi Arabia, nearly half for nonviolent crimes.

We are rightly outraged at the beheading of James Foley by Islamist militants, and by ISIS’ other atrocities, but we overlook the public executions by beheading permitted by Saudi Arabia. By licensing such barbarity, the kingdom normalizes and indirectly encourages such punishments elsewhere. When the country that does so is the birthplace of Islam, that message resonates.

I lived in Saudi Arabia’s most liberal city, Jidda, in 2005. That year, in an effort to open closed Saudi Salafi minds, King Abdullah supported dialogue with people of other religions. In my mosque, the cleric used his Friday Prayer sermon to prohibit such dialogue on grounds that it put Islam on a par with “false religions.” It was a slippery slope to freedom, democracy and gender equality, he argued — corrupt practices of the infidel West.

{ Above is an oxymoron – Wahhabism is the religious base that kept Salafism alive and is the base on which was mounted the Saudi throne. The Saudi monarchy and Wahhabism are one and the same so the Saudi treasury it is also the modern age father of Salafism. And what fills the Saudi treasury? Those are the foreign currencies spent at any gas-pump – be it by buying Saudi oil products or any oil products. As oil is fungible, any oil sold globally increases the value of Saudi oil sales.The bottom line is thus that anyone of us, by his thirst for oil, feeds ISIL.}

This tension between the king and Salafi clerics is at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s inability to reform. The king is a modernizer, but he and his advisers do not wish to disturb the 270-year-old tribal pact between the House of Saud and the founder of Wahhabism (an austere form of Islam close to Salafism). That 1744 desert treaty must now be nullified. 

{WHAT IS HE TALING ABOUT HERE – WHAT TENSION? IT REALLY IS A SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIP.
(PJ comment)}

The influence that clerics wield is unrivaled. Even Saudis’ Twitter heroes are religious figures: An extremist cleric like Muhammad al-Arifi, who was banned last year from the European Union for advocating wife-beating and hatred of Jews, commands a following of 9. 4 million. The kingdom is also patrolled by a religious police force that enforces the veil for women, prohibits young lovers from meeting and ensures that shops do not display “indecent” magazine covers. In the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the religious police beat women with sticks if they stray into male-only areas, or if their dress is considered immodest by Salafi standards. This is not an Islam that the Prophet Muhammad would recognize.

Salafi intolerance has led to the destruction of Islamic heritage in Mecca and Medina. If ISIS is detonating shrines, it learned to do so from the precedent set in 1925 by the House of Saud with the Wahhabi-inspired demolition of 1,400-year-old tombs in the Jannat Al Baqi cemetery in Medina. In the last two years, violent Salafis have carried out similar sectarian vandalism, blowing up shrines from Libya to Pakistan, from Mali to Iraq. Fighters from Hezbollah have even entered Syria to protect holy sites.

Textbooks in Saudi Arabia’s schools and universities teach this brand of Islam. The University of Medina recruits students from around the world, trains them in the bigotry of Salafism and sends them to Muslim communities in places like the Balkans, Africa, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Egypt, where these Saudi-trained hard-liners work to eradicate the local, harmonious forms of Islam.

What is religious extremism but this aim to apply Shariah as state law? This is exactly what ISIS (Islamic State) is attempting do with its caliphate. Unless we challenge this un-Islamic, impractical and flawed concept of trying to govern by a rigid interpretation of Shariah, no amount of work by a United Nations agency can unravel Islamist terrorism.

Saudi Arabia created the monster that is Salafi terrorism. It cannot now outsource the slaying of this beast to the United Nations. It must address the theological and ideological roots of extremism at home, starting in Mecca and Medina. Reforming the home of Islam would be a giant step toward winning against extremism in this global battle of ideas.

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Ed Husain is an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a senior adviser to the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.

A version of this op-ed appears in print on August 23, 2014, on page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: Saudis Must Stop Exporting Extremism

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 23rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

From the Ashes of Iraq: Mesopotamia Rises Again.

by Alexander H. Joffe
The National Interest – Posted also by The Middle East Forum
August 20, 2014

www.meforum.org/4780/iraq-mesopotamia-rises-again

 

The dissolution of the colonial creation named “Iraq” is now almost complete. Perhaps what comes next is a return to the past; not a brutal Islamic “caliphate,” but something more basic.

Today, Mesopotamia is reappearing. The term is a Greek word meaning “the land between the two rivers.” The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers are the defining features, each arising in mountains far to the north of Baghdad. The rivers and their annual floods defined the landscape, the cycle of life and the worldview of civilizations. The deserts to the west and the mountains to the east and far north provided rough boundaries and were liminal spaces related to the center, but yet separate and apart, sunbaked and dangerous. Inside Mesopotamia was a cauldron.

From the Sumerians of the third millennium BCE through the Assyrian and Babylonian civilizations of the second and first millennia BCE, to the Abbasids of the eighth century CE and until the arrival of the British in the early twentieth century, the space called Mesopotamia was the container for civilizations that rose and collapsed. Cultures invented writing and built the first cities, growing and shrinking in response to changing river courses and global climate. They conquered and were conquered, traded with surrounding regions, and formed a baggy but recognizable whole—what we call Mesopotamian civilization.

{Let’s remember history as it really happened – not as it was dreamed-up b y the French and British Empires, and later on by the American Oil-Industry forging an American Empire of Oil. The bottom line of this posting we are getting to is that thre never were Nations of Iraq or Syria and it seems now that there never will be a repeat of what the colonial powers did here for their own purpose. This article leads us to undeerstand that in Mesopotamia – as a region – there always was a strong South opposed by a North with a middle moving in between the two, and in contact with an arid desert West and an arid mountain area on the East. (PJ comment)}

Internal distinctions were paramount. Babylonia in the south was dominated by the rivers and the annual flood, irrigation agriculture and seemingly unrelenting heat and mud. Assyria in the northern, rain-fed zone sat amidst undulating plains and foothills. Culturally, Babylonia was older and more developed, the “heartland of cities” going back to 4000 BCE, a primacy that Assyria acknowledged even in periods when they dominated the south. By and large, both shared the same deities and myths, the same aggressive tendencies, and the same fear and loathing of surrounding regions. But competition, warfare and repression were constant.

For inhabitants, that is to say the kings and priests whose thoughts we read on clay tablets many millennia later, Mesopotamia the whole, a unity of north and south, was an ideal—the supreme prize, something overseen by the gods—to be aspired to and claimed by quotidian rulers. But, much like the idea of “Iraq,” it was conceptual, rather than practical. The south often dominated the north and vice versa, but never for very long.

Then, as now, the neighbors were a problem. One historical parallel seems especially apposite today. The Third Dynasty of Ur was short-lived, existing from around 2212 to 2004 BCE. It arose in southern Mesopotamia after the fall of the Semitic Akkadian Empire and revived the culture of the original or dominant southern ethnic group, the Sumerians. This dynasty created a fanatically integrated state, where temples, palaces and estates spun elaborate networks of supply and whose record keeping was unprecedented. As a territorial state, it was not far-flung; its core area extended only from modern Baghdad south to the Arabian Gulf, but it briefly reached into Iran and Assyria.

Toward the end of the dynasty, however, ruler Su-Sin faced a growing threat, the Amorites. These Semitic-speaking peoples arose somewhere on the middle stretches of the Euphrates River and surrounding steppe-lands in what is, for now, called Syria. Amorites were regarded with contempt and fear by the neo-Sumerians. It was said they did not cultivate grain, nor did they cook their meat. They did not even bury their dead.

Whether this terrifying image was correct or was something cultivated by Ur III scribes, Amorites themselves, or both is unknown. But Su-Sin’s response was to build a wall—the “wall against the Martu,” perhaps 280 kilometers in length—to keep the Amorites out. It didn’t work, any better than other walls in antiquity designed to keep barbarians out. The Ur III dynasty collapsed and was followed by centuries of conflict between various dynasties.

Eventually, the Amorites took control, their most famous scion being Hammurabi of Babylon. Like all Mesopotamian dynasties before and since, it was necessary to connect with the greater Mesopotamian tradition; Hammurabi’s lineage was crafted to show he descended from ancient kings and was the restorer of justice. Hammurabi’s famous “law code” described him as the pious defender of widows and orphans, when in fact he was their maker. No surprise that Saddam Hussein was often depicted with Hammurabi and with Nebuchadnezzar, destroyer of the temple in Jerusalem. Similarly, ISIS’ claims to the Islamic “caliphate,” to the restoration of glory and piety can be viewed through the same lens. In Mesopotamia, the past is always charter.

As concession to divisive reality, the Ottoman Turks had ruled Mesopotamia with three administrative units, in which a bewildering assortment of ethnic groups coexisted uncomfortably. About the Sunni-dominated state created by Britain, their “Iraq,” a revived medieval term, little more need be said. The claptrap monarchy they invented gave way to a repressive and then tyrannical “republic.” As it happened, America disposed of Saddam Hussein, although the Arab Spring may have done the same. In a historical irony, an act of imperialist intervention thus undid a previous one.

So it is as well with Syria, now divided into warring territories along lines familiar three thousand years ago. Many, especially ISIS itself, pointed to the vehement erasure of the so-called “Sykes-Picot” line, the 1916 boundary between British and French spheres of influence, from which the borders of Iraq and Syria were drawn. ISIS even bulldozed the berm that marked this mostly arbitrary line.

The symbolism of Sykes-Picot in the minds of Westerners and Islamists alike is telling, if nothing else, of the psychological impact of the last century. Their borders, drawn with thick pencils on imprecise maps, looked to the future, to a Middle East under Western domination. Iraq, and Syria, created holes where none existed.

Iraq has fractured along traditional lines; Kurdistan in the north, the Sunni regions around Baghdad and west toward the Euphrates and the Shiite regions of the south. These correspond roughly to Assyria and Babylonia, and the swing zones in the middle over which they fought endlessly. Hordes more terrifying than the Amorites—judging from their tweets of mass murder and crucifixion—rush in from the west while Persia struggles to defend its Shiite vassal state in Baghdad.

More of what is old is new again. ISIS threatens the Haditha Dam on the Euphrates, which if destroyed, would unleash catastrophic floods, much as the Assyrian king Sargon II did in 710 BCE against rebellious Babylonian ruler Merodach-Baladan. Cutting off the water supply, as ISIS did when it captured the Fallujah Dam earlier this year, is an even more ancient tactic; the cities of Lagash and Umma had fought a water war around 2500 BCE.

Ethnic cleansing and mass slaughter, proud announcement of the mutilation and execution of captives as nearly religious expressions of power, arbitrary decisions to provision or starve captive populations—all these are ancient Mesopotamian patterns of conflict. Only the destruction of Islamic religious buildings and sites by ISIS is truly new; Mesopotamian dynasties were fastidious about maintaining or restoring the cults and temples of conquered city-gods, even though the gods’ statues might “choose” to dwell in the conqueror’s city.

Geography is the container for cultures and helps create their possibilities and limits. Iraq was always a figment, as well as an ideal held by people who, for a few decades following the European style, thought of themselves as a nation-state. But underlying dynamics have proven stronger, and Iraq is no more. The ancient cauldron returns and decades of warring tribes and dynasties likely await.

——————–

Alex Joffe is editor of The Ancient Near East Today, the monthly e-newsletter of the American Schools of Oriental Research. He is also a Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Related Topics:  Iraq  |  Alexander H. Joffe

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Commentary Magazine

Contentions

Israel’s Record on Civilian Casualties Compares Well to America’s.

@EvelynCGordon -  08.19.2014 – The Commentary Magazine.

Writing in the Washington Post last Friday, Natan Sharansky argued that Western nations are quite right to hold Israel to a higher standard than its nondemocratic neighbors; the problem is that they hold Israel to a higher standard than they hold themselves. Many Westerners would doubtless deny doing so. But for proof, just compare the recent war in Gaza to the Iraq War.

According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2009, of the victims of U.S. airstrikes in Iraq whose age and gender could be determined, 46 percent were women and 39 percent were children. The study, based on data from Iraq Body Count, covered the period from March 2003 to March 2008, but specifically excluded airstrikes carried out during periods of intense fighting, such as the initial U.S. invasion and the 2004 battle of Fallujah. In other words, it excluded those periods when fire was likely to be heaviest and most indiscriminate due to the need to protect troops at risk.

By contrast, according to statistics published by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 12 percent of all Palestinians killed in Gaza were women and 23 percent were children (239 women and 459 children out of 1,976 fatalities). Thus even if OCHA’s numbers are accurate, the percentages of women and children killed in Gaza were far lower than the percentages killed in U.S. airstrikes in Iraq. Yet one would expect them to be higher, for at least three reasons.

First, unlike the NEJM study, OCHA’s figures cover the entire war, including periods of intense fighting when soldiers’ lives were at risk. In other words, they include the battles involving the heaviest fire, which NEJM’s study excluded. Second, the NEJM figures referred only to airstrikes, which utilize precision weapons; OCHA’s figures also include people killed by non-precision weaponry such as artillery fire. Third, though the claim that Gaza is one of the world’s mostly densely populated places is nonsense, almost all the fighting took place in dense urban areas: Since Hamas’s strategy depends on massive civilian casualties, it locates its rocket launchers and tunnels mainly in such areas. In contrast, U.S. airstrikes in Iraq weren’t limited to dense urban areas.

In short, even if OCHA’s figures are credible, Israel comes off well by comparison with coalition forces in Iraq. But in fact, they aren’t. First, OCHA doesn’t say whether any of these “children” were combatants, though it’s hardly unheard of for 16- or 17-year-old Palestinians to bear arms. More importantly, however, it doesn’t say how many of these women and children were actually killed by Hamas rather than Israel.

As I’ve noted before, almost a sixth of all Palestinian rockets launched at Israel–475 out of 3,137–actually landed in Gaza, where, given the lack of either Iron Dome or civilian bomb shelters, they would have been far more lethal than they were in Israel. In one documented case alone, a misfired Hamas rocket killed 10 people in a park, including eight children.

Moreover, as I’ve also noted, Hamas’s practice of booby-trapping and storing rockets in houses, mosques, and clinics means that many Israeli strikes inadvertently set off massive secondary explosions. In other words, many Palestinian “victims of Israeli attacks” were likely killed not by the Israeli strike itself, but by secondary explosions caused by Hamas’s own bombs.

Americans rightly expect the world to understand that when U.S. airstrikes decimate a Yemeni wedding party or kill civilians in Iraq, it isn’t because the U.S. is bloodthirsty, but because mistakes happen in wartime, especially when fighting terrorists who don’t wear uniforms and operate from amid civilian populations. But Israel is entitled to that same understanding.

Instead, the White House, Pentagon, and State Department have all accused Israel in the harshest terms of doing too little to prevent civilian casualties. Given that Israel’s record on this score, as the NEJM study shows, is even better than America’s, that is the height of hypocrisy.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

How the War on Terror Created the World’s Most Powerful Terror Group.

From the hours immediately after 9/11 to the present, Washington’s policies in the Middle East have created the conditions for more—not less—jihadist terror.

The Nation, August 21, 2014  

[This essay, which originally appeared on TomDispatch, is excerpted from the first chapter of Patrick Cockburn’s new book, The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising, with special thanks to his publisher, OR Books.  The first section is a new introduction written for TomDispatch.]

 

There are extraordinary elements in the present US  policy in Iraq and Syria that are attracting surprisingly little attention. In Iraq, the US  is carrying out air strikes and sending in advisers and trainers to help beat back the advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL – better known as ISIS) on the Kurdish capital, Erbil. The US  would presumably do the same if ISIS surrounds or attacks Baghdad. But in Syria, Washington’s policy is the exact opposite: there the main opponent of ISIS is the Syrian government and the Syrian Kurds in their northern enclaves. Both are under attack from ISIS, which has taken about a third of the country, including most of its oil and gas production facilities.

But US , Western European, Saudi, and Arab Gulf policy is to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, which happens to be the policy of ISIS and other jihadis in Syria. If Assad goes, then ISIS will be the beneficiary, since it is either defeating or absorbing the rest of the Syrian armed opposition. There is a pretense in Washington and elsewhere that there exists a “moderate” Syrian opposition being helped by the US , Qatar, Turkey, and the Saudis.  It is, however, weak and getting more so by the day. Soon the new caliphate may stretch from the Iranian border to the Mediterranean and the only force that can possibly stop this from happening is the Syrian army.

The reality of US  policy is to support the government of Iraq, but not Syria, against ISIS. But one reason that group has been able to grow so strong in Iraq is that it can draw on its resources and fighters in Syria. Not everything that went wrong in Iraq was the fault of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, as has now become the political and media consensus in the West. Iraqi politicians have been telling me for the last two years that foreign backing for the Sunni revolt in Syria would inevitably destabilize their country as well. This has now happened.

By continuing these contradictory policies in two countries, the US  has ensured that ISIS can reinforce its fighters in Iraq from Syria and vice versa. So far, Washington has been successful in escaping blame for the rise of ISIS by putting all the blame on the Iraqi government. In fact, it has created a situation in which ISIS can survive and may well flourish.

 

Using the al-Qa’ida Label.

The sharp increase in the strength and reach of jihadist organizations in Syria and Iraq has generally been unacknowledged until recently by politicians and media in the West. A primary reason for this is that Western governments and their security forces narrowly define the jihadist threat as those forces directly controlled by al-Qa‘ida central or “core” al-Qa‘ida. This enables them to present a much more cheerful picture of their successes in the so-called war on terror than the situation on the ground warrants.

In fact, the idea that the only jihadis to be worried about are those with the official blessing of al-Qa‘ida is naïve and self-deceiving. It ignores the fact, for instance, that ISIS has been criticized by the al-Qa‘ida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri for its excessive violence and sectarianism. After talking to a range of Syrian jihadi rebels not directly affiliated with al-Qa‘ida in southeast Turkey earlier this year, a source told me that “without exception they all expressed enthusiasm for the 9/11 attacks and hoped the same thing would happen in Europe as well as the US.”

Jihadi groups ideologically close to al-Qa‘ida have been relabeled as moderate if their actions are deemed supportive of US  policy aims. In Syria, the Americans backed a plan by Saudi Arabia to build up a “Southern Front” based in Jordan that would be hostile to the Assad government in Damascus, and simultaneously hostile to al-Qa‘ida-type rebels in the north and east. The powerful but supposedly moderate Yarmouk Brigade, reportedly the planned recipient of anti-aircraft missiles from Saudi Arabia, was intended to be the leading element in this new formation. But numerous videos show that the Yarmouk Brigade has frequently fought in collaboration with JAN, the official al-Qa‘ida affiliate. Since it was likely that, in the midst of battle, these two groups would share their munitions, Washington was effectively allowing advanced weaponry to be handed over to its deadliest enemy. Iraqi officials confirm that they have captured sophisticated arms from ISIS fighters in Iraq that were originally supplied by outside powers to forces considered to be anti-al-Qa‘ida in Syria.

 

The name al-Qa‘ida has always been applied flexibly when identifying an enemy. In 2003 and 2004 in Iraq, as armed Iraqi opposition to the American and British-led occupation mounted, US  officials attributed most attacks to al-Qa‘ida, though many were carried out by nationalist and Baathist groups. Propaganda like this helped to persuade nearly 60% of US  voters prior to the Iraq invasion that there was a connection between Saddam Hussein and those responsible for 9/11, despite the absence of any evidence for this. In Iraq itself, indeed throughout the entire Muslim world, these accusations have benefited al-Qa‘ida by exaggerating its role in the resistance to the US  and British occupation.

Precisely the opposite PR tactics were employed by Western governments in 2011 in Libya, where any similarity between al-Qa‘ida and the NATO-backed rebels fighting to overthrow the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, was played down. Only those jihadis who had a direct operational link to the al-Qa‘ida “core” of Osama bin Laden were deemed to be dangerous. The falsity of the pretense that the anti-Gaddafi jihadis in Libya were less threatening than those in direct contact with al-Qa‘ida was forcefully, if tragically, exposed when US  ambassador Chris Stevens was killed by jihadi fighters in Benghazi in September 2012. These were the same fighters lauded by Western governments and media for their role in the anti-Gaddafi uprising.

 

Imagining al-Qa’ida as the Mafia.

Al-Qa‘ida is an idea rather than an organization, and this has long been the case. For a five-year period after 1996, it did have cadres, resources, and camps in Afghanistan, but these were eliminated after the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001. Subsequently, al-Qa‘ida’s name became primarily a rallying cry, a set of Islamic beliefs, centering on the creation of an Islamic state, the imposition of sharia, a return to Islamic customs, the subjugation of women, and the waging of holy war against other Muslims, notably the Shia, who are considered heretics worthy of death. At the center of this doctrine for making war is an emphasis on self-sacrifice and martyrdom as a symbol of religious faith and commitment. This has resulted in using untrained but fanatical believers as suicide bombers, to devastating effect.

It has always been in the interest of the US  and other governments that al-Qa‘ida be viewed as having a command-and-control structure like a mini-Pentagon, or like the mafia in America. This is a comforting image for the public because organized groups, however demonic, can be tracked down and eliminated through imprisonment or death. More alarming is the reality of a movement whose adherents are self-recruited and can spring up anywhere.

 

Osama bin Laden’s gathering of militants, which he did not call al-Qa‘ida until after 9/11, was just one of many jihadi groups 12 years ago. But today its ideas and methods are predominant among jihadis because of the prestige and publicity it gained through the destruction of the Twin Towers, the war in Iraq, and its demonization by Washington as the source of all anti-American evil. These days, there is a narrowing of differences in the beliefs of jihadis, regardless of whether or not they are formally linked to al-Qa‘ida central.

 

Unsurprisingly, governments prefer the fantasy picture of al-Qa‘ida because it enables them to claim victories when it succeeds in killing its better known members and allies. Often, those eliminated are given quasi-military ranks, such as “head of operations,” to enhance the significance of their demise. The culmination of this heavily publicized but largely irrelevant aspect of the “war on terror” was the killing of bin Laden in Abbottabad in Pakistan in 2011. This enabled President Obama to grandstand before the American public as the man who had presided over the hunting down of al-Qa‘ida’s leader. In practical terms, however, his death had little impact on al-Qa‘ida-type jihadi groups, whose greatest expansion has occurred subsequently.

 

Ignoring the Roles of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan  !!!

The key decisions that enabled al-Qa‘ida to survive, and later to expand, were made in the hours immediately after 9/11. Almost every significant element in the project to crash planes into the Twin Towers and other iconic American buildings led back to Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden was a member of the Saudi elite, and his father had been a close associate of the Saudi monarch. Citing a CIA report from 2002, the official 9/11 report says that al-Qa‘ida relied for its financing on “a variety of donors and fundraisers, primarily in the Gulf countries and particularly in Saudi Arabia.”

The report’s investigators repeatedly found their access limited or denied when seeking information in Saudi Arabia. Yet President George W. Bush apparently never even considered holding the Saudis responsible for what happened. An exit of senior Saudis, including bin Laden relatives, from the US  was facilitated by the US  government in the days after 9/11. Most significant, 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission Report about the relationship between the attackers and Saudi Arabia were cut and never published, despite a promise by President Obama to do so, on the grounds of national security.

In 2009, eight years after 9/11, a cable from the US  secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, revealed by WikiLeaks, complained that donors in Saudi Arabia constituted the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide. But despite this private admission, the US  and Western Europeans continued to remain indifferent to Saudi preachers whose message, spread to millions by satellite TV, YouTube, and Twitter, called for the killing of the Shia as heretics. These calls came as al-Qa‘ida bombs were slaughtering people in Shia neighborhoods in Iraq. A sub-headline in another State Department cable in the same year reads: “Saudi Arabia: Anti-Shi’ism as Foreign Policy?” Now, five years later, Saudi-supported groups have a record of extreme sectarianism against non-Sunni Muslims.

Pakistan, or rather Pakistani military intelligence in the shape of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), was the other parent of al-Qa‘ida, the Taliban, and jihadi movements in general. When the Taliban was disintegrating under the weight of US  bombing in 2001, its forces in northern Afghanistan were trapped by anti-Taliban forces. Before they surrendered, hundreds of ISI members, military trainers, and advisers were hastily evacuated by air. Despite the clearest evidence of ISI’s sponsorship of the Taliban and jihadis in general, Washington refused to confront Pakistan, and thereby opened the way for the resurgence of the Taliban after 2003, which neither the US  nor NATO has been able to reverse.

The “war on terror” has failed because it did not target the jihadi movement as a whole and, above all, was not aimed at Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the two countries that fostered jihadism as a creed and a movement. The US  did not do so because these countries were important American allies whom it did not want to offend. Saudi Arabia is an enormous market for American arms, and the Saudis have cultivated, and on occasion purchased, influential members of the American political establishment. Pakistan is a nuclear power with a population of 180 million and a military with close links to the Pentagon.

 

The spectacular resurgence of al-Qa‘ida and its offshoots has happened despite the huge expansion of American and British intelligence services and their budgets after 9/11. Since then, the US, closely followed by Britain, has fought wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and adopted procedures normally associated with police states, such as imprisonment without trial, rendition, torture, and domestic espionage. Governments wage the “war on terror” claiming that the rights of individual citizens must be sacrificed to secure the safety of all.

In the face of these controversial security measures, the movements against which they are aimed have not been defeated but rather have grown stronger. At the time of 9/11, al-Qa‘ida was a small, generally ineffectual organization; by 2014 al-Qa‘ida-type groups were numerous and powerful.

In other words, the “war on terror,” the waging of which has shaped the political landscape for so much of the world since 2001, has demonstrably failed. Until the fall of Mosul, nobody paid much attention.

———————

August 21, 2014  
———————-
What Cockburn did not say is that US Intelligence was happy to work with the officials in Pakistan and with the Sunni preachers and moneyed Saudis in Cold War days in order to pep up the Muslim opposition to the Soviet Infidels in Afghanistan. That was the start of scourge-building instigated by the US & Pakistani Intelligence services. The Ginny that was unleashed never went back into the Foggy-Bottom bottle. His success in Afghanistan those days encouraged the Saudi Wahhabi preachers  to want ever more. They wanted a more Islamic strict Saudi Monarchy and were ready to settle for Saudi money support to move their attacks against non-Saudi targets – why not the US infidel?It was the alliance between the House of Bush and the House of Saud that eventually wove together the two Oil-States.

It was the cover the Bush family gave to the Bin-Ladin Family after 9/11 that bared the liaison for all to see.

Then – still with glimpses of oil as blinders on their eyes – the CIA  after 9/11 ventured into Afghanistan and Iraq establishing dubious local alliances that we see crumbling these days when a new US President tried to decide he had enough of it. He has a very tough time, and seemingly an impossible task, if he were to try to stop the Middle East from sliding back into a new pre-civilization era.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The changing landscape of religion.

Laxenburg, Austria, 20 August 2014: The mixes of religion and ethnicity in society are changing in Vienna, Europe, and the world. IIASA research provides a demographic perspective. 

Religion is a key factor in demography, important for projections of future population growth as well as for other social indicators. A new journal, Yearbook of International Religious Demography, is the first to bring a quantitative demographic focus to the study of religion. The journal is co-edited by IIASA researcher Vegard Skirbekk, an expert in the field of religious demography. The first edition of the journal includes three studies by IIASA researchers:
 

Vienna: Growing diversity in religion and ethnicity.

The city of Vienna is growing increasingly diverse in both religion and ethnicity, according to a new study by IIASA researcher Markus Speringer and Ramon Bauer of the Vienna Institute for Demography, which explored how Vienna’s ethnic and religious diversity has developed from 1970 to 2011.

The study reflects Vienna’s changing religious and ethnic structure, which has seen increased migration since 1970. By 2011, almost a third of Vienna’s population was foreign-born, the study showed. But while in 2001, a majority of those immigrants came from Turkey and the former Yugoslavia, in 2011 the immigrant population was far more diverse, including many newcomers from Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria.

At the same time, the percentage of Roman Catholics has declined in the city, from nearly 80% in 1971 to less than 50% in 2001. This decline is due to both an increase in religious disaffiliation as well as an influx of people of different religions, the study shows.

The study also assessed the makeup of Vienna’s neighborhoods – showing that most migrants live in Vienna’s inner districts, in diverse, mixed neighborhoods. The outer districts of Vienna, by contrast, are mainly home to people born in Austria with a catholic religious affiliation.

 

Europe:  Immigration and religious switching.

Christians still make up 75% of people in Europe, according to a second paper published in the journal, which quantified Europe’s population by religious affiliation. The study, led by IIASA researcher Marcin Stonawski, showed that the next-largest group (18%) of Europeans claims no religious affiliation, and Muslims are the third-largest group with about 6% of the population. The study estimated religious distribution by age and sex for 42 countries – the first to provide such a detailed demographic analysis over all of Europe. It shows that the Christian population is relatively old, with a median age of 41.7 years, while the median age for the Muslim population was 31.8 years.
Contact: Marcin Stonawski stonaw@iiasa.ac.at


A third paper published in the new journal provides the methodology behind the Pew Research Global Religious Landscape Study published in 2012, the most thorough demographic analysis to date of global religious populations. The study, based on more than 2,500 censuses, surveys and population registers, found that 84% of the 2010 world population was affiliated with a religion. The study also found that roughly one-in-six people around the globe had no religious affiliation.

The report included estimates of the religious composition of over 230 countries and territories and, for the first time ever, median age data for followers of each religion. The study documented a wide gulf between the median age of Muslims (23) and Jews (36).
 
The report was produced by the Pew Research Center in collaboration with researchers from the Age and Cohort Change Project (ACC) at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), including Vegard Skirbekk, Marcin Stonawski and Michaela Potancokova.
Contact: Vegard Skirbekk  skirbekk@iiasa.ac.at

Reference
Feng, Kuishuang, Klaus Hubacek, Stephan Pfister, Yang Yu, Laixiang Sun. 2014. “Virtual Scarce Water in China.” Environmental Science and Technology, dx.doi.org/10.1021/es500502q.

For PDF copies of the studies highlighted in this release please contact IIASA Press Officer Katherine Leitzell.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Sunday, August 17 2014 -  The America Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) spearheaded by US Jewish organizations presented at Union Square, New York,  speakers from South Sudan, the Kurdish Nation, The Christian Copts of Sudan and Egypt. One could see among the sea of Israeli flags also the flag of a free Kurdistan and the Coptic Cross of the individual Christian Communities being exterminated in present day Muslim Africa. I asked myself Where are those that fought the Apartheid in South Africa – except the Jews? South African Apartheid was a much milder phenomenon then what goes on in Nigeria and Sudan, Syria and Iraq, these days – right under our eyes.

WE RECEIVED THE  ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT THE SUNDAY UNION SQUARE DEMONSTRATION FROM THE CHASSIDA SHMELLA ORGANIZATION OF THE ETHIOPIAN BLACK JEWS THAT RESIDE NOW IN THE US. THEY LIVED AMONG THE ETHIOPIAN CHRISTIANS – SO THEY DID NOT HAVE THE EXACT EXPERIENCE AS THE COPTS OF THE SUDAN, BUT NEVERTHELESS THEY ARE FIRST IN LINE TO UNDERSTAND AFRICA – AND THAT IS OBVIOUS IN THE WAY THEY REACT TO EVERYTHING THAT HAS TO DO WITH TRUE DISCRIMINATION BECAUSE OF RACE OR RELIGION. THAT UNION SQUARE DEMONSTRATION IS FOLLOWED NOW BY A NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE AUTHORED BY FORMER US AMBASSADOR RONALD LAUDER – A REPUBLICAN.

They had at that meeting also Hindu, Sikh, Caldeans and Buddhists – and among the flags was also the flag of India.
———————————————————————

 

The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Contributor

Who Will Stand Up for the Christians?

By RONALD S. LAUDER  – The New York Times –

Credit Edel Rodriguez

 

WHY is the world silent while Christians are being slaughtered in the Middle East and Africa? In Europe and in the United States, we have witnessed demonstrations over the tragic deaths of Palestinians who have been used as human shields by Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls Gaza. The United Nations has held inquiries and focuses its anger on Israel for defending itself against that same terrorist organization. But the barbarous slaughter of thousands upon thousands of Christians is met with relative indifference.

The Middle East and parts of central Africa are losing entire Christian communities that have lived in peace for centuries. The terrorist group Boko Haram has kidnapped and killed hundreds of Christians this year — ravaging the predominantly Christian town of Gwoza, in Borno State in northeastern Nigeria, two weeks ago. Half a million Christian Arabs have been driven out of Syria during the three-plus years of civil war there. Christians have been persecuted and killed in countries from Lebanon to Sudan.

Historians may look back at this period and wonder if people had lost their bearings. Few reporters have traveled to Iraq to bear witness to the Nazi-like wave of terror that is rolling across that country. The United Nations has been mostly mum. World leaders seem to be consumed with other matters in this strange summer of 2014. There are no flotillas traveling to Syria or Iraq. And the beautiful celebrities and aging rock stars — why doesn’t the slaughter of Christians seem to activate their social antennas?

President Obama should be commended for ordering airstrikes to save tens of thousands of Yazidis, who follow an ancient religion and have been stranded on a mountain in northern Iraq, besieged by Sunni Muslim militants. But sadly, airstrikes alone are not enough to stop this grotesque wave of terrorism.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is not a loose coalition of jihadist groups, but a real military force that has managed to take over much of Iraq with a successful business model that rivals its coldblooded spearhead of death. It uses money from banks and gold shops it has captured, along with control of oil resources and old-fashioned extortion, to finance its killing machine, making it perhaps the wealthiest Islamist terrorist group in the world. But where it truly excels is in its carnage, rivaling the death orgies of the Middle Ages. It has ruthlessly targeted Shiites, Kurds and Christians.

“They actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick” a Chaldean-American businessman named Mark Arabo told CNN, describing a scene in a Mosul park. “More children are getting beheaded, mothers are getting raped and killed, and fathers are being hung.”

This week, 200,000 Aramaeans fled their ancestral homeland around Nineveh, having already escaped Mosul.

The general indifference to ISIS, with its mass executions of Christians and its deadly preoccupation with Israel, isn’t just wrong; it’s obscene.

In a speech before thousands of Christians in Budapest in June, I made a solemn promise that just as I will not be silent in the face of the growing threat of anti-Semitism in Europe and in the Middle East, I will not be indifferent to Christian suffering. Historically, it has almost always been the other way around: Jews have all too often been the persecuted minority. But Israel has been among the first countries to aid Christians in South Sudan. Christians can openly practice their religion in Israel, unlike in much of the Middle East.

This bond between Jews and Christians makes complete sense. We share much more than most religions. We read the same Bible, and share a moral and ethical core. Now, sadly, we share a kind of suffering: Christians are dying because of their beliefs, because they are defenseless and because the world is indifferent to their suffering.

Good people must join together and stop this revolting wave of violence. It’s not as if we are powerless. I write this as a citizen of the strongest military power on earth. I write this as a Jewish leader who cares about my Christian brothers and sisters.

The Jewish people understand all too well what can happen when the world is silent. This campaign of death must be stopped.

———————————————————————————————————

Ronald S. Lauder is the president of the World Jewish Congress.
{A Former US Ambassador and head of a very rich American Jewish family}

A version of this op-ed appears in print on August 20, 2014, on page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: Who Will Stand Up for the Christians?.

 

SOME OF THE COMMENTS:

“Everyone who believes in religious freedom should protest the efforts of Boko Haram and ISIS to persecute Christians and other religious…”

“I couldn’t care less about some contrived and convenient “bond between Jews and Christians”. Let’s hear it for the bonds between humans. The…”

“Ron, please remember that groups like ISIS were not a factor while that predator Saddam still ruled the jungle. Please remember that the…”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 19th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Apply to join Al Gore in Brazil
to become a Climate Reality Leader >
APPLY TO JOIN AL GORE IN BRAZIL, NOVEMBER 4-6 TO BECOME A CLIMATE REALITY LEADER!

Dear Pincas,

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Change takes time, dedication, and most importantly, it takes leaders.

Here at The Climate Reality Project, we’ve got some of the best around: they’re called Climate Reality Leaders. And today, I’m hoping you’ll apply to join us in Rio de Janeiro November 4-6 to become one.

During the course of three days, you’ll work with world-renowned experts in climate science, alternative energy, and sustainability. You’ll learn from twenty-first century communicators, organizers, and of course, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.

Together, we’ll equip you with the training to more effectively communicate, organize, and lead. You’ll discuss what’s happening to our planet and the real solutions we have today. You’ll learn how to strengthen the public will to solve this crisis once and for all.

 

And once you’ve got the right tools, you’ll be prepared to join more than 6,000 other Climate Reality Leaders across the planet and spread the message so widely and speak up so loudly that it cannot be ignored: we can solve climate change.

The world needs climate leaders like you now more than ever.

Apply to join us in this effort. You’ll come as a leader, and leave as a Climate Reality Leader, ready to take on the greatest challenge of our time.

We look forward to receiving your application. Together, we can change the world.

Thanks for your commitment to climate action,

Ken Berlin
President & CEO

P.S. If you still need some convincing, check out this video our Chairman and Founder Al Gore recorded to remind everyone why becoming a Climate Reality Leader is so important.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

A CHOREOGRAPHY THAT EXPLORES THE IDEA OF RECONCILIATION.

Fishman Space in BAM Fisher, 321 Ashland Place, near Lafayette Avenue, Fort Greene, Brooklyn; 718-636-4100, www.bam.org.

The main purpose of DanceMotion USA, a cultural diplomacy program run by the Brooklyn Academy of Music for the State Department, is to send American artistic troupes abroad. Yet the program also benefits New Yorkers directly by having  American companies bring back a foreign one for a free, collaborative stay and performance here of several weeks – sometimes at dance camps out-of-town i.e. in Maine.  Eventually a new program is born and it is shown at the Brooklyn BAM which is now blessed o have also the  Fisher Building (Fishman Space) next door. These visits have proven to say the least – interesting. The New York Times prefers to say illuminating.

At the BAM Fishman Space on Thursday, David Dorfman Dance which is based at the BAM, back from a four-week tour of Turkey, Armenia and Tajikistan, teamed up with the Korhan Basaran Company from Istanbul, augmented by two Armenian dancers – Karen Khatchatryan and Davit Grigoryan. 

The program was not one with pieces from each of the performing triangle’s previous repertory.  Mr. Dorfman and Mr. Basaran went all the way,  joining forces for an hour-long  joint program titled – “Unsettled” with a  chosen theme of  “reconciliation.”   It was remarkable how well the two companies, both packed with powerful dancers did merge.

The work teemed with groups pushing and shoving, but it did not set one troupe against the other. The sharpest contrast — in the opening moments and in two later face-off duets — was between the choreographers: Mr. Basaran, tall, with a tendency to collapse inward, and Mr. Dorfman, squat, always hurling his energy out. Yet the aesthetic kinship between them was also apparent in eruptive rhythms and labile emotions.

The music, composed and played live by Sam Crawford, Liz de Lise, Jesse Manno and Timothy Quigley, beguilingly blended Western and Middle Eastern styles and instrumentation. It borrowed the folk song “Sari Gyalin” (or “Sari Gelin”), which in Turkish, Armenian and English versions laments the failure of love across ethnic divides.


A few scenes — for example, a forced march — could be read as specific allusions to the bloody history between Turks and Armenians, but much of the work’s tension was cannily translated into the power dynamics of the choreographic process. In its strongest segment, Evrim Akyay, a slinky Turkish dancer with a menacing presence, directed the motions of an ingenuous American, Kendra Portier, as if in rehearsal for this show. The more he yelled at her in Turkish and slapped her around, the brighter her smile. Though, the power of that scene was squandered as Ms. Portier turned to audience members and implored them to move closer together, vocalizing her needs in dancerly double entendres (“I need to be moved”).  Similarly, another scene swerved from infantile humor to a sharp evocation of the coercion in making people say they’re sorry, only to end with weeping on the ground. A shrewd point about forced reconciliations got belabored in a manner that was itself coercive.

Still, it is to the credit of all involved that “Unsettled,” after a celebratory group dance, had the honesty to remain unsettled. What resonated was a moment before the end, when Mr. Dorfman, having failed to force his friendship on Mr. Basaran, took a line from the folk song and allowed it to expand into a humble question for everyone: “Oh tell me please, what can I do?”

 

This reporting of mine follows a review in the New York Times and a feeling that many in the audience, including myself, had that though seeing a piece that historically dealt with the Armenian – Turkish relations that included an attempt at genocide, actually today the topic is the Israeli Palestinian conflict and it was obvious that to untrained ears Turkish, Armenian, or Arab music – seem all the same – and thus a presence in the air – reference was being made to the Middle East as if there were some generic to it.

The performances at the BAM went on Thursday – Friday – Saturday evenings, but then there was also a performance Saturday afternoon that I attended because it had also a follow up discussion with TV link to Istanbul and questions via the internet from London, Ankara, Germany and some other places.

On a question about the collaboration we heard an answer that said – in a month we become one but in some things where there were differences we become States.

Before the TV land internet links the conversation was according to the natural language of the speaker with a sometime translation into English – then from Ankara came the notion that something that was said in Armenian needed also Turkish translation. Fair enough.

On the I AM SORRY piece: “Children can easily apologize to each other – forget and forgive.”  As he got older, the comment went on, he felt he needed more – the words alone mean less.

Then he saw The Planet of the Apes – they have the capacity of forgive & forget – but we do not have that capacity anymore.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 Transatomic is a MIT spinoff and could save us with Molten Salt Nuclear Reactors that can use wastes from Water Cooled Reactors for useful purpose.

Transatomic Power’s advanced molten salt reactor consumes spent nuclear fuel cleanly and completely, unlocking vast amounts of cheap, carbon-free energy. It solves four of the most pressing problems facing the nuclear industry: ecological stewardship, public safety, non-proliferation, and cost-efficiency. Only an advanced reactor that meets all four goals at once can truly change the nuclear fission game and allow for broad adoption of nuclear power.

A technical white paper gives a more detailed description of the reactor design.

This reactor can be powered by nuclear waste because it uses radically different technology from conventional plants. Instead of using solid fuel pins, they dissolve the nuclear waste into a molten salt. Suspending the fuel in a liquid (the mo;ten salt) allows  it to be kept in the reactor longer, and therefore capture more of its energy. Conventional nuclear reactors can utilize only about 3% – 5% of the potential fission energy in a given amount of uranium before it has to be removed from the reactor. This design captures 96% of this remaining energy.

Why it’s different

Molten salt reactors are not a new technology – they were originally developed and tested at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. In many respects, Transatomic’s reactor is similar to these early designs. It uses similar safety mechanisms (such as freeze valves), chemical processing techniques (such as off-gas sparging), and corrosion tolerant alloys (such as modified Hastelloy-N). These similarities to previous designs allowed Transatomic to build on an established body of research and reduce the uncertainty associated with the design.

The main differences between Transatomic Power’s molten salt reactor and previous molten salt reactors are the metal hydride moderator and LiF-(Heavy metal)F4 fuel salt. These features allow  to make the reactor more compact and generate electricity at lower cost than other designs. Furthermore, previous molten salt reactors, such as the Oak Ridge Molten Salt Reactor Experiment, used uranium enriched to 33% U-235.

The newly proposed reactor can operate using fresh fuel enriched to just a minimum of 1.8% U-235, or light water reactor waste.

The above comes with  MIT  research and was brought to our attention in today’s CNN/GPS program by Fareed Zakaria (August 17, 2014) who had as guest recently graduated PHD student Dr.Dewan.

In effect – Transatomic, is a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) spinoff intent to commercialize a safer fission nuclear reactor designed to overcome major barriers to nuclear power.  For the anti-nuclear folks the design offers to burn up the existing spent fuel from the world’s fleet of nuclear reactors in a design that doesn’t offer a chance for a meltdown.  That should be nirvana for those alarmed about atomic energy and weapons proliferation.
Dr. Leslie Dewan and coleague Mr. Mark Massie seem to be the young folks who started this MIT offshoot.
Dr. Dewan was Fareed Zakaria’s guest on his program – August 17, 2014.

The US has 100 operating nuclear reactors and additional five in construction.
China has now 21 nuclear reactors and an additional 86 in construction.
Above means that the dangers of nuclear material contaminated water is immense, not just the danger of melt downs -  and that is why opponents to water cooled fission reactors are up in arms.
Imagine the potential for hope if a method is found to decontaminate that water and even find a positive use for the wastes?

We found an old article by Brian Westenhaus of  March 17, 2013 from which we picked:

Transatomic, founded by a pair of very smart and innovative young nuclear engineers, has updated the molten-salt reactor, a reactor type that’s highly resistant to meltdowns. Molten-salt reactors were demonstrated in the 1960s at Oak Ridge National Lab, where one test reactor ran for six years.  What remains is raising $5 million to run five experiments to help validate the new basic design.

Russ Wilcox, Transatomic’s new CEO estimates that it will take eight years to build a prototype reactor at a cost of $200 million.  The company has already raised $1 million in seed funding, including some from Ray Rothrock, a partner at the venture capital firm Venrock.

The cofounders, Mark Massie and Leslie Dewan, who we met here in April last year, are still PhD candidates at MIT. Yet the design has attracted some top advisors, including Regis Matzie, the former CTO of the major nuclear power plant supplier Westinghouse Electric, and Richard Lester, the head of the nuclear engineering department at MIT.

Ms Dewan Mr. Massie and Mr. Lester of Transatomic Power
Ms Dewan Mr. Massie and Mr. Lester of Transatomic Power.

The new reactor design called the Waste-Annihilating Molten Salt Reactor (WAMSR) so far exists only on paper.
Ray Rothrock says the company will face many challenges. “The technology doesn’t bother me in the least,” he said. “I have confidence in the people. I wish someone would build this thing, because I think it would work. It’s all the other factors that make it daunting.”  We’ll get to those daunting factors in a moment.

Related article: France Predict Cost of Nuclear Disaster to be Over Three Times their GDP

——-

Background – today’s conventional nuclear power plant is cooled by water, which boils at 100º C a temperature far below the 2,000° C at the core of a fuel pellet. Even after the reactor is shut down, it must be continuously cooled by pumping in water until the whole internal core apparatus is below 100º C.  The inability to do that properly is what has caused the problems at troubled plants.  Oddly, the nuclear industry and regulatory agencies haven’t come to realize the notion of mixing water and nuclear fuel is the dangerous matter.

The big problems can be solved by using molten salt, instead of water as the coolant, which is mixed in with the fuel. Molten salt has a boiling point higher than the operating temperature of the fuel. That way the reactor has a built-in thermostat – if it starts to heat up, the salt expands, spreading out the fuel and slowing the reactions cooling the thing off.

In the event of a power outage where cooling circulation would stop carrying away the heat, a plug at the bottom of the reactor melts and the fuel and salt mixture flows by gravity into a holding tank, where the fuel spreads out enough for the reactions to stop. The salt then cools and solidifies, encapsulating the radioactive materials.

Ms Dewan now the company’s chief science officer says, “It’s walk-away safe, if you lose electricity, even if there are no operators on site to pull levers, it will coast to a stop.”

She needs only $5 million to prove it, she said.

Technology – Transatomic’s design improves on the original molten-salt reactor by changing the internal geometry and using different materials. Transatomic is keeping many of the proprietary design details to itself, but one change involves eliminating the graphite that made up 90% of the volume of the Oak Ridge reactor. The company has also modified conditions in the reactor to produce faster neutrons, which makes it possible to burn most of the material that is ordinarily discarded as waste.

WAMSR Reactor Schematic Graphic Diagram.
WAMSR Reactor Schematic Graphic Diagram.

 

The design offers a couple other real strong incentives.  Because it runs at atmospheric pressure rather than the high pressures required in conventional reactors the amount of steel and concrete needed to guard against accidents is greatly reduced.  The technical approach will work for uranium or for the future thorium fuels as well.

Related article: Will Japan Embrace Geothermal Power to Move Away from Nuclear?

Here is the comparison that should light up the hearts of the antinuclear crowd.  A conventional 1,000-megawatt reactor produces about 20 metric tons (44,000 lbs.) of high-level waste a year, and that material needs to be safely stored for 100,000 years. The 500-megawatt Transatomic reactor will produce only four kilograms (8.8 lbs.) of such waste a year, along with 250 kilograms (550 lbs.) of waste that has to be stored for a few hundred years.

In the presentation the duo projects some warming numbers for both the low cost power and the anti nuclear folks.  Conventional nuclear reactors can utilize only about 3% of the potential fission energy in a given amount of uranium before it has to be removed from the reactor. The Transatomic design captures 98% of this remaining energy.  A fully deployed Transatomic reactor fleet could use existing stockpiles of nuclear waste to satisfy the world’s electricity needs for 70 years, now through 2083 when about 99.2% of today’s dangerous spent fuel – would be burned away.

Even though the basic idea of a molten-salt reactor has been demonstrated the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) certification process is set up around light-water reactors.  NRC spokesman Scott Burnell said for the next few years, the NRC will be focused on certifying the more conventional designs for SMNRs.  But he also said that the commission is aware of Transatomic’s concept but that designs haven’t been submitted for review yet.  The certification process for Transatomic will take at least five years once the company submits a detailed design, with additional review needed specifically for issues related to fuel and waste management.

The detailed design is years and $4 million more dollars away.  Wilcox estimated that it will take eight years to build a prototype reactor – at a cost of $200 million.  Low cost power customers and the antinuclear folks might want to coordinate getting the Congress to rewrite the NRC’s procedures to speed things up.

After all, China is reported to be investing $350 million over five years to develop molten-salt reactors of its own. It plans to build a two-megawatt test reactor by 2020.

It’d be a pity to miss out on a trillion dollar industrial market and trillions more in electricity savings.  Plus get rid of all that weapons ready, costly to store used fuel.

A hat tip goes to Brian Wand for spotting the latest update to Tranatomic’s progress.

By. Brian Westenhaus  —   Original source: The Nuke The Anti Nuke Crowd Should Love

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Kein Grund zur Euphorie

Kommentar | Gudrun Harrer15. August 2014, 14:35

Maliki ist nicht die einzige Barriere zur politischen Gesundung und Einheit des Irak.

Am Ende hat er noch US-Lob für seine “ehrenvolle” Entscheidung bekommen: Nuri al-Maliki hat seine – von seinem Wahlsieg bei den Parlamentswahlen abgeleiteten – Ansprüche auf das Amt des Premiers aufgegeben und damit die Gefahr gebannt, dass sich zur Sicherheitskrise im Irak auch noch eine Verfassungskrise gesellt. Haidar al-Abadi kann nun seine Regierung bilden, ohne dass einer der eigenen Leute mit der Axt hinter ihm steht.

Allerdings ist jede Euphorie, in der die Person Malikis als einzige Barriere zur politischen Gesundung und Einheit des Irak gesehen wurde, völlig fehl am Platz: Abadi wird den arabischen Sunniten und den Kurden weit reichende Angebote machen müssen, um sie wieder einzubinden. Und er wird seine Zusagen – anders als es Maliki nach den Wahlen 2010 getan hat – auch halten müssen.

Alle, auch seine eigene Dawa-Partei, hatten Maliki fallen gelassen. Mit seinem Schritt hat er sich erspart, einmal mehr in der Freitagspredigt des Vertreters der wichtigsten schiitischen Autorität im Irak, Ayatollah Ali Sistani, wenig subtil zum Abtreten aufgefordert zu werden. Aber dass erfolglose Politiker sich besser zurückziehen, hatte Sistani schon vor den Wahlen dekretiert, seinerseits erfolglos, weder Maliki noch seine Wähler hatten auf Sistani gehört. Erst als das Trommelfeuer auch aus dem Iran, von höchsten Stellen, kam, hatte Maliki ein Einsehen.

US-Präsident Barack Obama wiederum knüpfte seine Zusage für ein verstärktes militärisches Engagement an eine inklusive Regierung in Bagdad, unter Kooperation aller Gruppen. Dem stand der polarisierende Maliki im Wege. Es ist traurig, dass es der Gefahr des „Islamischen Staats“ (IS) und einer humanitären Krise katastrophalen Ausmaßes bedurfte, um ihn zum Gehen zu bewegen. Umgekehrt könnte man sein (vorläufiges) Ende auch als Erfolg des sunnitischen Aufstands gegen Bagdad verbuchen – wäre nicht dieser Aufstand längst vom jihadistischen Wahnsinn aufgesogen und delegitimiert worden.

Wenn man die Berichte von Militäranalysten über die von der IS infizierten Gebiete liest, könnte man den Schluss ziehen, dass die IS zwar momentan punktuell noch gewinnt, aber ihre große Offensive etwas stockt. Die schlechte Nachricht ist, dass gegen die IS oft nicht die irakische Armee, sondern schiitische Milizen erfolgreich sind: Sie muss Bagdad schnell in den Griff kriegen, denn ihr Wüten ruft wieder eine sunnitische Gegenbewegung hervor.

Die Jesiden sind zwar nicht alle in Sicherheit, aber die US-Hilfe greift. Der Vorwurf, dass es den USA einmal mehr um die Ölfelder und den Schutz der dort präsenten internationalen Ölfirmen ankommt, konnte nicht ausbleiben. Aber erstens ist das in diesem Moment ohnehin sekundär. Und zweitens ist die US-Einstellung zu den nahöstlichen Ölvorkommen in einem grundlegenden Wandel begriffen. Das eigene Interesse am Öl mag ein Motiv sein, aber vor allem gilt es zu verhindern, dass noch mehr Ressourcen der IS in die Hände fallen. Und das ist ja wohl vernünftig. (Gudrun Harrer, DER STANDARD, 16.8.2014)

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 13th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Hillary Clinton: ‘Failure’ to Help Syrian Rebels Led to the Rise of ISIS.

The former secretary of state, and probable candidate for president, outlines her foreign-policy doctrine. She says this about President Obama’s: “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.”

www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/08/hillary-clinton-failure-to-help-syrian-rebels-led-to-the-rise-of-isis/375832/along

“The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad—there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle—the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled,” said Hillary Clinton to her interviewer blaming the US of President Obama for the rise of ISIS.

Of course, Clinton had many kind words for the “incredibly intelligent” and “thoughtful” Obama, and she expressed sympathy and understanding for the devilishly complicated challenges he faces. But she also suggested that she finds his approach to foreign policy overly cautious, and she made the case that America needs a leader who believes that the country, despite its various missteps, is an indispensable force for good. At one point, I mentioned the slogan President Obama recently coined to describe his foreign-policy doctrine: “Don’t do stupid shit” (an expression often rendered as “Don’t do stupid stuff” in less-than-private encounters).

Goldberg writes in his Atlantic Magazine interview of Hillary Clinton:

During a discussion about the dangers of jihadism (a topic that has her “hepped-up,” she told me moments after she greeted me at her office in New York) and of the sort of resurgent nationalism seen in Russia today, I noted that Americans are quite wary right now of international commitment-making. She responded by arguing that there is a happy medium between bellicose posturing (of the sort she associated with the George W. Bush administration) and its opposite, a focus on withdrawal.

“You know, when you’re down on yourself, and when you are hunkering down and pulling back, you’re not going to make any better decisions than when you were aggressively, belligerently putting yourself forward,” she said. “One issue is that we don’t even tell our own story very well these days.”

I responded by saying that I thought that “defeating fascism and communism is a pretty big deal.” In other words, that the U.S., on balance, has done a good job of advancing the cause of freedom.

Clinton responded to this idea with great enthusiasm: “That’s how I feel! Maybe this is old-fashioned.” And then she seemed to signal that, yes, indeed, she’s planning to run for president. “Okay, I feel that this might be an old-fashioned idea, but I’m about to find out, in more ways than one.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 12th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Dear Friends and Family of Africa.com,

Unprecedented. Historic. Watershed. Milestone.

Independent of what you may think of the US-Africa Leaders Summit, there is no doubt that the event could be characterized by all of these terms.

It represented a moment in history when the game changed between the US and Africa; the Summit will play a significant role in the shaping of Obama’s foreign policy legacy.

50 presidents. 1400 accredited media. 80 official events.

  Teresa’s five key observations are summarized here:

1) Ebola got more attention than it deserved – but for those Americans engaged in the bilateral meetings, the topic served as a vehicle to demonstrate that the vast and varied continent of Africa can not be painted with a single brush stroke. When the questions were raised by American, you could hear a collective sigh among the Africans, and the Americans were forced into a geography lesson that required them to understand that the ebola outbreak impacted three of the fifty four countries on the continent.

2) The main event was not the meeting among the fifty heads of state, but the business forum hosted by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Mike Bloomberg (in his capacity as businessman, not former mayor). This was a business summit, and the African presidents got to “come along” to the party. 

There were two principal events during the week:  a) The Leaders Summit where the 50 heads of state met with Obama and b) the Business Forum where business leaders met with Obama.

In terms of influence, keep in mind that the following parties were at the Business Forum, not the Leaders Summit: 

US Delegation: 

Moderator Charlie Rose – Journalist
Jeff Immelt – CEO of GE
Virginia Rometty – CEO of IBM
Andrew Liveris – CEO of Dow Chemical
Ajay Banga – CEO of Mastercard
David Rubinstein – CEO of the Carlyle Group
Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart
Muhtar Kent – CEO of Coca Cola 
Stephen Schwarzman, CEO of Blackstone

African Delegation:

Aliko Dangote – CEO of Dangote Group
Mo Ibrahim – CEO of Mo Ibrahim Foundation
Tony Elumelu – CEO of Heirs Holdings
Sim Tshabala – CEO of Standard Bank
Strive Masiyiwa – Chairman Econet Wireless

3) If one were to ask the average millennial African which American companies have a great influence on the continent today, the answer would no doubt include Facebook and Google. It is interesting to note that the West Coast was not represented in these business meetings.

4) African presidents have been invited en masse, in this type of context, by several trading regions throughout the world, including China and the E.U. This was simply the first hosted by the United States. Take note that the next Chinese summit is scheduled for the end of August. Keep your eye on the news to see how the Chinese react to the US’ entry into this game.

5) The First Ladies Summit was co-hosted by Michelle Obama and Laura Bush. The corporate influence in that event was also very strong, with Walmart and Caterpillar deeply engaged, including Walmart’s pledge of $100 million to empower women in Africa.

There was so much to this event, that I want to point you to additional sources of information, should you have an interest in learning more. Much like our Africa.com Top 10 curated news, I have curated my Top 7 stories on the Summit from Africa.com, New York Times, Washington Post, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, and the White House’s official website. Please find links to these articles below.

Thank you for your continued interest in Africa.com and the work we do to cover Africa. 

As always, we value your comments and observations. Please feel free to reply to this email 
with any thoughts you may have.

Kindest regards,

Teresa

Teresa Clarke
<info@africa.com>

Africa.com LLC
3 Columbus Circle
15th Floor
New York, NY 10023

Teresa’s Top 7 Stories about the US-Africa Summit:

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 11th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

CTMD Upcoming Events

Gran Bwa Culture and Neg Gran Bwa Drummers present

Bwa Kay Iman Photo by Tony Savino

BWA KAY IMAN 2014   

An all-day Haitian arts and culture celebration

commemorating the uprising against slavery in 1791

that began the Haitian Revolution

 

Saturday, August 16th

(3-9PM)
Prospect Park, Lakeside Area,

Brooklyn, NY

(Take the Q train to the Parkside stop and
enter via Parkside entrance) 

FREE ADMISSION
   
Center for Traditional Music and Dance (CTMD) and its Haitian Community Cultural Initiative, Verite sou Tanbou, are pleased to serve as media sponsors for Bwa Kay Iman, an all-day Haitian arts and culture celebration at lakeside in southeastern Prospect Park (near the Parkside entrance), presented by Gran Bwa Culture and Neg Gran Bwa Drummers, led by Oungan Asogwe (High Priest) Deenps “Gran Bwa” Bazile.
Bwa Kay Iman is a longstanding annual Haitian celebration in Prospect Park that commemorates the important slave social gathering on August 14th of 1791 that began the Haitian revolution.  The event celebrates and demonstrates Haitian culture with drumming, traditional Haitian folkloric dance, artwork, and storytelling followed by traditional Haitian Vodou drumming and singing between 3PM and 9PM.
CHILDREN AND FAMILIES ARE WELCOME!
Seating is picnic-style; attendees are invited to bring
blankets, cushions, and lawn chairs as needed.

Suggested dress code
for this cultural gathering

is djan-djan (multicolored attire).

 To volunteer at this event (assist with set up, clean up, or picking up supplies)
or for further information, contact Gran Bwa at:
Granbwaculture@yahoo.com or 347-785-6419.

Set up begins at 11AM – assistance is welcome!
To make a donation via Paypal directly to Gran Bwa Culture
in support of this free cultural event click here
You can also donate via our GoFundMe campaign
by clicking
here.
OTHER ITEMS ARE WELCOME, INCLUDING:
- Cases of water, fruit (oranges, bananas, grapes, mangos),
cases of candles, lawn chairs, and tarps
- Art supplies (markers, crayons, white paper, construction
paper, paint, and paint brushes)

“Gran Bwa Culture is reaching out to everyone in the community of all age groups and cultures to partake in this great annual celebration. We are providing a series of hands-on workshops in the natural setting of Prospect Park, creating an opportunity for Haitians to reconnect with their culture and for the general community to learn about Haiti’s culture.”  –Erzuli Guillaume
For a preview of Bwa Kay Iman, courtesy of City Lore’s video documentation
of this celebration in the park in 2010, click on the image below.

Haitian Neighborhood Tour 3: Gran Bwa in Prospect Park
Haitian Neighborhood Tour 3:
Gran Bwa in Prospect Park
by City Lore www.citylore.org
FOR UP-TO-THE-MINUTE SUBWAY DIRECTIONS VISIT WWW.HOPSTOP.COM
Bwa Kayiman photo courtesy of Tony Savino:  www.tonysavino.com

Find out more about CTMD!
For more information about upcoming events, what’s happening in New York City’s traditional music and dance scene, to join or to donate, go to CTMD’s website.

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

America Should Get Out of the Peacekeeping Business in Israel.

—By

| Tue Jul. 29, 2014

From the Washington Post:

Anyone who has made even a passing glance at the Israeli media in the past few days will have noticed the incredible chorus of criticism being directed at John Kerry right now. The secretary of state has been lambasted by all sides for his apparent failure in attempts to negotiate a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

[Examples follow]

And it’s not just Israelis. Elsewhere in the Post, David Ignatius takes Kerry to task too:

Secretary of State John Kerry has made a significant mistake in how he’s pursuing a Gaza cease-fire — and it’s not surprising that he has upset both the Israelis and some moderate Palestinians.

Kerry’s error has been to….

I think we should stop right there. Kerry has made only one mistake, and that was trying to negotiate a ceasefire in the first place. He didn’t fail because of any personal shortcomings; he failed because there were no terms under which either side would ever have agreed to a ceasefire. The fighting will stop when both sides decide to stop, and not a minute before. It’s long past time for everyone to acknowledge this.

The United States has been trying to broker peace in the Middle East for the past 20 years. Maybe longer, depending on how you count. But 20 years at least, and every attempt has failed. Various Americans have tried, all with different approaches, and the result has been the same every time: not just failure, but a steady and inexorable deterioration of the situation. It’s no longer credible to pretend that maybe a different person with a different approach and different sympathies might have made a difference in any particular situation. Blaming Kerry for this latest failure is just delusional.

Quite famously, we all “know” what a deal between Israel and the Palestinians needs to look like. It’s obvious. Everyone says so. The only wee obstacle is that neither side is willing to accept this obvious deal. They just aren’t. The problem isn’t agreeing on a line on a map, or a particular circumlocution in a particular document. The problem is much simpler than that, so simple that sophisticated people are embarrassed to say it outright: Two groups of people want the same piece of land. Both of them feel they have a right to it. Both of them are, for the time being, willing to fight for it. Neither is inclined to give up anything for a peace that neither side believes in.

That’s it. That’s all there is. All the myriad details don’t matter. Someday that may change, and when it does the United States may have a constructive role to play in brokering a peace deal. But that day is nowhere in the near future. For now, it’s time for America to get out of the peacekeeping business. Our presence there does no good, and might very well be doing active harm. This doesn’t mean withdrawing from the region, it just means getting out of the shuttle diplomacy business. Neither side is ready for it, and probably won’t be for years. Let’s end the charade.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 30th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Contributor to The New York Times

The Carbon Dividend

Chris Van Hollen to Introduce Plan to Auction Pollution Permits.

By JAMES K. BOYCE    JULY 29, 2014
 
AMHERST, Mass. — FROM the scorched earth of climate debates a bold idea is rising — one that just might succeed in breaking the nation’s current political impasse on reducing carbon emissions. That’s because it would bring tangible gains for American families here and now.
A major obstacle to climate policy in the United States has been the perception that the government is telling us how to live today in the name of those who will live tomorrow. Present-day pain for future gain is never an easy sell. And many Americans have a deep aversion to anything that smells like bigger government.
What if we could find a way to put more money in the pockets of families and less carbon in the atmosphere without expanding government? If the combination sounds too good to be true, read on.
Representative Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland, plans to introduce legislation today that would require coal, oil and natural gas companies to buy a permit for each ton of carbon in the fuels they sell. Permits would be auctioned, and 100 percent of the proceeds would be returned straight to the American people as equal dividends for every woman, man and child.
Paying dividends to all isn’t rocket science. The state of Alaska has been doing it since 1982. That’s when the Alaska Permanent Fund, the brainchild of Gov. Jay S. Hammond, a Republican, began to pay dividends from oil royalties based on the principle that the state’s natural wealth belonged to all its people. Residents claim their dividends by filling out an online form. Not surprisingly, the Alaska Permanent Fund is permanently popular among Alaskans. From 1982 through 2009, the fund paid out $17.5 billion. The biggest payout, by the way, came under Gov. Sarah Palin.
The main difference between Alaska’s fund and the one Mr. Van Hollen is proposing is that instead of creating an incentive to pump more oil, his legislation creates an incentive to burn less oil and other carbon-based fuels.
The number of permits initially would be capped at the level of our 2005 carbon dioxide emissions. This cap would gradually ratchet down to 80 percent below that level by 2050. Prices of fossil fuels would rise as the cap tightened, spurring private investment in energy efficiency and clean energy. Energy companies would pass the cost of permits to consumers in the form of higher fuel prices. But for most families, the gain in carbon dividends would be greater than the pain. In fact, my calculations show that more than 80 percent of American households would come out ahead financially — and that doesn’t even count the benefits of cleaner air and a cooler planet.
As the cap tightened, prices of fossil fuels would rise faster than quantity would fall, so total revenues would rise. The tighter the cap, the bigger the dividend. Voters not only would want to keep the policy in place for the duration of the clean energy transition, they would want to strengthen it.
The net effect on any household would depend on its carbon footprint — how much it spent, directly and indirectly, on fossil fuels. The less carbon it consumed, the bigger its net benefit. But why would a vast majority emerge as winners?
There are two reasons. First, among final consumers, households account for about two-thirds of fossil fuel use in the United States. Most of the remainder is consumed by government. In Mr. Van Hollen’s bill, households would receive these other carbon dollars, too.
Republicans should welcome this feature, since over the years it would return billions of dollars from the government to the people. Unlike a carbon tax, which brings in more revenue for the government, Mr. Van Hollen’s bill is, in effect, a tax cut.
The second reason is the dramatic skew in household incomes. The outsize consumption — and outsize carbon footprints — of the richest 10 percent of Americans means that they’ll furnish a similarly high fraction of the carbon dollars generated by household spending on gasoline, electricity, airplane trips and so on. For these households, the dividends won’t outweigh the costs. But the affluent can afford to pay for their emissions.
Does this bill stand a snowball’s chance in the partisan hell of Washington?
Its main political weakness is that no one stands to make a killing on it.
The bill’s main strength is that it protects the incomes of ordinary Americans as it protects the planet for their grandchildren.
In a democracy, this outcome is not too good to be true. If any climate bill can win bipartisan support, this is it. But it will succeed only if the American people — in blue states, red states and everywhere in between — come together to make Congress act.
———————–
James K. Boyce is a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
===========================
17th Annual Congressional
Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency EXPO + Policy Forum
See preliminary speaking schedule below** Free Gifford’s Ice Cream after 12:30pm, while supplies last **

Thursday, July 31, 2014

 9:30 AM – 4:30 PM

Cannon House Office Building
Exhibits in Room 345
Policy Forum in Room 334 
Independence Avenue and 1st Street, SE
Washington D.C. 
Free and open to the public

 

A live webcast of the policy forum in Room 334 will be streamed at 9:30 AM EDT at

www.eesi.org/livecast (wireless connection permitting)

 

 

The Expo is free for attendees, open to the public, and no RSVPs are required.

Learn more at sustainableenergy.orgexpo.

 

 

Honorary Co-Hosts:

 

    House Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Caucus

    Senate Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Caucus

 

 

In partnership with:

 

    Energy Savings Performance Contracts Caucus

    Higher Performance Buildings Caucus

    House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC)

    Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Caucus

 

 

schedulePlease note that the speaker schedule is subject to change.


EXPO — CANNON CAUCUS ROOM 345 — SPEAKER SCHEDULE 


10:30 AM
11:00 AM

Administration speakers:

Edward Thomas Morehouse, Jr, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Operational Energy Plans and Programs Richard Kidd, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Energy & Sustainability) Rear Admiral Kevin R. Slates, Director of Energy and Environmental Readiness Division, U.S. Navy.

 Dr. David T. Danielson, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy

Rear Admiral Steven G. Smith (RET), Director of the Office of Disaster Planning & Risk Management, U.S. Small Business Administration

11:00 AM
12:00 PM

Members of Congress expected:

Rep. David G. Reichert, R-WA (Co-chair of the House Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Caucus)Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-MD (Co-chair of the House Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Caucus)Rep. Jim Himes, D-CT

Rep. Paul Tonko, D-NY


POLICY FORUM — CANNON ROOM 334 — SPEAKER SCHEDULE


9:30 AM
10:10 AM

PANEL 1: OVERVIEW – POLICY ISSUES

Scott Sklar, President, The Stella Group, Ltd.; Adjunct Professor, George Washington University Zoe Berkery, Manager (Federal Policy), Business Council for Sustainable Energy
BSCE’s Sustainable Energy in America Factbook Lena Moffitt, Manager (Federal Policy, Climate and Energy), National Wildlife Federation
The carbon pollution standard and the opportunity it presents for clean technology.

 Tom Carlson, Government Affairs and Policy Associate, Advanced Energy Economy
Innovative State Policy Advancing Our Energy System
How states have been leading the way with policies that advance our energy system and where we could go from here within the context of EPA’s new carbon regulations for the power sector.

10:15 AM
10:35 AM

PANEL 2: DEFENSE

Captain James C. Goudreau, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy)Richard Kidd, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Energy & Sustainability)
12:25 PM
1:05 PM

PANEL 3: FUEL CELLS – GEOTHERMAL – SOLAR – ENERGY FROM WASTE

Karl Gawell, Executive Director, Geothermal Energy Association
The Geothermal Industry in 2014
A review of the industry’s status in 2014 and of the growth trends in the U.S. and international geothermal markets.Bud DeFlavis, Director of Government Affairs, Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Energy Association
The fuel-cell industryLaToya Glenn, Renewable Energy Business Manager, Waste Management
WM Recovering Energy Value from the Materials We Manage.

David Biderman, VP of Advocacy, National Waste & Recycling Association
Waste-based energy (energy from landfill gas collection and waste-to-energy facilities) currently generates enough power in the U.S. to power about 3 million homes.

Dave Buemi, Vice President-Federal Markets, M+W Group
The economic benefits and job creation associated with commercial- and utility-scale solar projects.

1:10 PM
1:50 PM

PANEL 4: HYDROPOWER AND WATER TECHNOLOGIES

Matthew Nocella, Manager of Strategic Communications, National Hydropower Association
Hydropower’s Role in Our Clean Energy Future
Hydropower has tremendous opportunity to grow its role in the nation’s energy portfolio through various technologies, including conventional, new marine, and pumped storage applications.Jacob Irving, President, Canadian Hydropower Association
Bill Libro, Director of Federal Affairs, Minnesota Power
A Case Study for International Cooperation on Hydropower: Minnesota Power
Canadian companies are teaming up with their U.S. counterparts to help enable the development of renewable energy in the United States. Minnesota Power, for instance, is working with Canadian companies to develop renewables on both sides of the border.Thomas Horner, Vice President, Water Management, Inc.
One Water
Water, sewere, stormwater, and the water/energy nexus

Jason Busch, Boardmember, Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition; Executive Director, Oregon Wave Energy Trust.
Marine Renewable Energy: A New Addition to the Mix
The Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition is a national trade group that is leading the U.S. effort to develop the burgeoning forms of renewable energy derived from the waves, tides, and currents of our oceans and rivers. These sources are clean, reliable and perpetual, and can provide a significant new source of power both in the United State and around the world. This new industry will also provide a tremendous new opportunity for economic development around manufacturing and the marine supply chain.

 

2:05 PM
2:35 PM

PANEL 5: BIOENERGY

Tim Rials, Director, Southeastern Partnership for Integrated Biomass Supply Systems
Deploying an Advanced Biofuels Industry in the Southeast
Funded by USDA-NIFA, The Southeastern Partnership for Integrated Biomass Supply Systems (IBSS) is developing today’s forest resources for near-term progress while advancing energy crop supply systems optimized for infrastructure-compatible fuels production.Terry Nipp, Executive Director, Sun Grant Initiative
This presentation will showcase a collaborative effort by land grant universities to support research and education projects on bioenergy and biobased products. With support from USDA, DOE and DOT, we have implemented over $70 million in research projects over the past 6-7 years, with more than 200 projects with collaborating scientists in over 90% of the states.Morgan Pitts, Public Relations & Communications Manager, Enviva
Wood pellets and other processed woody biomass fuels can power generation and industrial customers seeking to decrease their dependence on fossil fuels and reduce their carbon footprint.
2:40 PM
3:20 PM

PANEL 6: BEHIND THE SCENES: FINANCE, GRID, AND STORAGE ISSUES

Fran Teplitz, Policy Director, Green America; Board Co-Chair, American Sustainable Business Council Action Fund
Clean Energy Victory Bonds   Katherine Hamilton, Policy Director, Energy Storage Association
Energy Storage: Enabling a Cleaner, More Efficient and Resilient Grid
Energy policies that include energy storage will be key to enabling all resources-including renewable energy and energy efficiency–to operate more efficiently and effectively on the grid. This presentation will describe those legislative policy initiatives and their importance to the grid of the future in a carbon-constrained world.

Diana Rivera, Director of Market Development and Regulatory Affairs, Clean Line Energy 

Delivering low-cost renewable energy to market
Clean Line is developing long-haul transmission lines to deliver thousands of megawatts of wind power from the windiest parts of the U.S. to communities and cities that lack access to new, low-cost renewable power. These clean energy infrastructure projects will create thousands of jobs, benefit electricity consumers and reduce carbon emissions by millions of tons per year.
Len Jornlin, Chief Executive Officer, Empower Energies

A Path to Resiliency

The rationale for an integrated, renewable, distributed generation approach as a path to resiliency. How Solar and Combined Heat and Power (CHP)  applications can provide energy savings and resiliency now for military, government agency, and private sector organizations, and how to finance those installations.

3:25 PM
4:05 PM

PANEL 7: ENERGY EFFICIENCY

Bruce Quinn, Vice President, Government Affairs for Rockwell Automation; Industrial Energy Efficiency Coalition
The Opportunity of Industrial Energy Efficiency
Often overlooked in the policy arena, the energy savings opportunity in the manufacturing and industrial sector is massive, as industry accounts for one-third of U.S. energy use, and there are technologies available today making industrial processes far more energy efficient.John Pouland, Vice-President (Government Affairs and Solutions), Philips Lighting
The Importance of Energy Efficiency in the Private and Public Space
John will focus on the rapid development of LED technologies and the economic and environmental impacts this technology has for consumers and the Government (particularly the military) alike.Gregory B Johnson, President, Blue Penguin Corporation
Blue Penguin tracks and reduces companies’ energy use. Using a suite of hardware and proprietary software, Blue Penguin can see where waste is and eliminate it.

Tom Herron, Senior Manager (Communications and Marketing), National Fenestration Rating Council
The National Fenestration Rating Council provides accurate information to measure and compare energy performance of windows, doors and skylights.
Harrison Godfrey, Manager (National Policy & Partnerships), Opower

Opower: Unlocking Efficiency through Behavior & Information
Behavioral Energy Efficiency, as pioneered by Opower, has the potential to save the United States almost 19,000 GWhs of energy each year, or roughly $2.1 billion in energy expenditures. This presentation talks about just what Behavioral Energy Efficiency is, where it’s already at work today, and how government policy can unleash this potential.

Exhibitors:  

  • Abengoa Solar
  • Advanced Energy Economy
  • American Council On Renewable Energy
  • American Sustainable Business Council Action Fund
  • Blue Penguin Corporation
  • Business Council for Sustainable Energy
  • Canadian Hydropower Association
  • Clean Line Energy
  • Covanta
  • Empower Energies
  • Energy Storage Association
  • Environmental and Energy Study Institute
  • Enviva, LP
  • Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association
  • Geothermal Energy Association
  • Geothermal Exchange Organization
  • Green America
  • GRID Alternatives
  • Industrial Energy Efficiency Coalition
  • Labor Management Cooperative Trust
  • M+W Group
  • National Association of College and University Business Officers
  • National Biodiesel Board
  • National Electrical Manufacturers Assn.
  • National Fenestration Rating Council
  • National Hydropower Association
  • National Renewable Energy Lab
  • National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
  • National Waste & Recycling Association
  • National Wildlife Federation
  • Nextek Power Systems
  • Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition
  • Philips Lighting
  • Renewable Fuels Association
  • Southeastern Partnership for Integrated Biomass Supply Systems
  • Sun Grant Initiative
  • Sustainable Energy Coalition
  • The Stella Group
  • US Department of Energy SunShot Initiative
  • US Environmental Protection Agency ENERGY STAR Program
  • Waste Management
  • Water Management

 

Location:

Cannon House Office Building

Caucus Room 345 (Expo)

Room 334 (Policy Forum) 

Independence Avenue and 1st Street SE
Nearest metro station: Capitol South (blue/orange lines)

   

Exhibitors:

If you would like to apply to be an exhibitor, please register online.

Registrations will be considered and accepted until all available exhibit spaces are filled.

 

For information about the EXPO or if you have other questions, please contact:

Rachel Pierson
SEC Expo Coordinator
info@sustainableenergy.org
sustainableenergy.org/2014-expo

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