Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 28th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
NEW YORK TIMES FIRST PAGE SCIENCE
A Dream of Clean Energy at a Very High Price
By HENRY FOUNTAINMARCH 27, 2017
The doughnut-shaped fusion reactor, or tokamak, and other components are kept cool inside one of the world’s largest vacuum chambers.
SAINT-PAUL-LEZ-DURANCE, France — At a dusty construction site here amid the limestone ridges of Provence, workers scurry around immense slabs of concrete arranged in a ring like a modern-day Stonehenge.
It looks like the beginnings of a large commercial power plant, but it is not.
The project, called ITER, is an enormous, and enormously complex and costly, physics experiment. But if it succeeds, it could determine the power plants of the future and
make an invaluable contribution to reducing planet-warming emissions.
ITER, short for International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (and pronounced EAT-er), is being built to test a long-held dream: that nuclear fusion, the atomic reaction that takes place in the sun and in hydrogen bombs, can be controlled to generate power.
First discussed in 1985 at a United States-Soviet Union summit, the multinational effort, in which the European Union has a 45 percent stake and the United States, Russia, China and three other partners 9 percent each, has long been cited as a crucial step toward a future of near-limitless electric power.
ITER will produce heat, not electricity. But if it works — if it produces more energy than it consumes, which smaller fusion experiments so far have not been able to do — it could lead to plants that generate electricity without the climate-affecting carbon emissions of fossil-fuel plants or most of the hazards of existing nuclear reactors that split atoms rather than join them.
Mimicking the Sun
1 Central magnet induces a current in the plasma, which contains two hydrogen isotopes. Heating begins.
2 External magnets confine plasma as radio waves and microwaves heat it to 150 million degrees Celsius.
3 When plasma is at proper temperature and density, isotopes collide and fuse, releasing high-energy neutrons.
4 Neutrons hit blanket, converting energy into heat. Helium and impurities are removed through diverter at bottom of chamber.
5 In a fusion power plant, the heat would be used to make steam to spin a turbine and generate
Success, however, has always seemed just a few decades away for ITER. The project has progressed in fits and starts for years, plagued by design and management problems that have led to long delays and ballooning costs.
ITER is moving ahead now, with a director-general, Bernard Bigot, who took over two years ago after an independent analysis that was highly critical of the project. Dr. Bigot, who previously ran France’s atomic energy agency, has earned high marks for resolving management problems and developing a realistic schedule based more on physics and engineering and less on politics.
“I do believe we are moving at full speed and maybe accelerating,” Dr. Bigot said in an interview.
The site here is now studded with tower cranes as crews work on the concrete structures that will support and surround the heart of the experiment, a doughnut-shaped chamber called a tokamak. This is where the fusion reactions will take place, within a plasma, a roiling cloud of ionized atoms so hot that it can be contained only by extremely strong magnetic fields.
Pieces of the tokamak and other components, including giant superconducting electromagnets and a structure that at approximately 100 feet in diameter and 100 feet tall will be the largest stainless-steel vacuum vessel ever made, are being fabricated in the participating countries. Assembly is set to begin next year in a giant hall erected next to the tokamak site.
At the ITER construction site, immense slabs of concrete lie in a ring like a modern-day Stonehenge. Credit ITER Organization
There are major technical hurdles in a project where the manufacturing and construction are on the scale of shipbuilding but the parts need to fit with the precision of a fine watch.
“It’s a challenge,” said Dr. Bigot, who devotes much of his time to issues related to integrating parts from various countries. “We need to be very sensitive about quality.”
Even if the project proceeds smoothly, the goal of “first plasma,” using pure hydrogen that does not undergo fusion, would not be reached for another eight years. A so-called burning plasma, which contains a fraction of an ounce of fusible fuel in the form of two hydrogen isotopes, deuterium and tritium, and can be sustained for perhaps six or seven minutes and release large amounts of energy, would not be achieved until 2035 at the earliest.
That is a half century after the subject of cooperating on a fusion project came up at a meeting in Geneva between President Ronald Reagan and the Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev. A functional commercial fusion power plant would be even further down the road.
“Fusion is very hard,” said Riccardo Betti, a researcher at the University of Rochester who has followed the ITER project for years. “Plasma is not your friend. It tries to do everything it can to really displease you.”
Main Tokamak Components
PLASMA CHAMBER AND DIVERTER (BLUE) TOROIDAL MAGNETS
Fusion is also very expensive. ITER estimates the cost of design and construction at about 20 billion euros (currently about $22 billion). But the actual cost of components may be higher in some of the participating countries, like the United States, because of high labor costs. The eventual total United States contribution, which includes an enormous central electromagnet capable, it is said, of lifting an aircraft carrier, has been estimated at about $4 billion.
Despite the recent progress there are still plenty of doubts about ITER, especially in the United States, which left the project for five years at the turn of the century and where funding through the Energy Department has long been a political football.
The department confirmed its support for ITER in a report last year and Congress approved $115 million for it. It is unclear, though, how the project will fare in the Trump administration, which has proposed a cut of roughly 20 percent to the department’s Office of Science, which funds basic research including ITER. (The department also funds another long-troubled fusion project, which uses lasers, at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.)
Dr. Bigot met with the new energy secretary, Rick Perry, last week in Washington, and said he found Mr. Perry “very open to listening” about ITER and its long-term goals. “But he has to make some short-term choices” with his budget, Dr. Bigot said.
Energy Department press aides did not respond to requests for comment.
Some in Congress, including Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, while lauding Dr. Bigot’s efforts, argue that the project already consumes too much of the Energy Department’s basic research budget of about $5 billion.
Pillars at the ITER Cryoplant in Provencal; Bernard Bigot, the ITER director-general, previously ran France’s atomic energy agency. Credit ITER Organization
“I remain concerned that continuing to support the ITER project would come at the expense of other Office of Science priorities that the Department of Energy has said are more important — and that I consider more important,” Mr. Alexander said in a statement.
While it is not clear what would happen to the project if the United States withdrew, Dr. Bigot argues that it is in every participating country’s interest to see it through. “You have a chance to know if fusion works or not,” he said. “If you miss this chance, maybe it will never come again.”
But even scientists who support ITER are concerned about the impact it has on other research.
“People around the country who work on projects that are the scientific basis for fusion are worried that they’re in a no-win situation,” said William Dorland, a physicist at the University of Maryland who is chairman of the plasma science committee of the National Academy of Sciences. “If ITER goes forward, it might eat up all the money. If it doesn’t expand and the U.S. pulls out, it may pull down a lot of good science in the downdraft.”
In the ITER tokamak, deuterium and tritium nuclei will fuse to form helium, losing a small amount of mass that is converted into a huge amount of energy. Most of the energy will be carried away by neutrons, which will escape the plasma and strike the walls of the tokamak, producing heat.
In a fusion power plant, that heat would be used to make steam to turn a turbine to generate electricity, much as existing power plants do using other sources of heat, like burning coal. ITER’s heat will be dissipated through cooling towers.
There is no risk of a runaway reaction and meltdown as with nuclear fission and, while radioactive waste is produced, it is not nearly as long-lived as the spent fuel rods and irradiated components of a fission reactor.
To fuse, atomic nuclei must move very fast — they must be extremely hot — to overcome natural repulsive forces and collide. In the sun, the extreme gravitational field does much of the work. Nuclei need to be at a temperature of about 15 million degrees Celsius.
In a tokamak, without such a strong gravitational pull, the atoms need to be about 10 times hotter. So enormous amounts of energy are required to heat the plasma, using pulsating magnetic fields and other sources like microwaves. Just a few feet away, on the other hand, the windings of the superconducting electromagnets need to be cooled to a few degrees above absolute zero. Needless to say, the material and technical challenges are extreme.
Although all fusion reactors to date have produced less energy than they use, physicists are expecting that ITER will benefit from its larger size, and will produce about 10 times more power than it consumes. But they will face many challenges, chief among them developing the ability to prevent instabilities in the edges of the plasma that can damage the experiment.
Even in its early stages of construction, the project seems overwhelmingly complex. Embedded in the concrete surfaces are thousands of steel plates. They seem to be scattered at random throughout the structure, but actually are precisely located. ITER is being built to French nuclear plant standards, which prohibit drilling into concrete. So the plates — eventually about 80,000 of them — are where other components of the structure will be attached as construction progresses.
A mistake or two now could wreak havoc a few years down the road, but Dr. Bigot said that in this and other work on ITER, the key to avoiding errors was taking time.
“People consider that it’s long,” he said, referring to critics of the project timetable. “But if you want full control of quality, you need time.”
‘Learning Curve’ as Rick Perry Pursues a Job He Initially Misunderstood JAN. 18, 2017
Start-Ups Take On Challenge of Nuclear Fusion OCT. 25, 2015
The Challenge: How to Keep Fusion Going Long Enough MARCH 17, 2014
Giant Laser Complex Makes Fusion Advance, Finally FEB. 12, 2014
A version of this article appears in print on March 28, 2017, on Page D1 of the New York edition with the headline: A Dream Machine.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 28th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
2017 IKEM Summer Academy IN BERLIN – ON RENEWABLE ENERGY – Registration Open!
Summer Academy summeracademy at ikem.de
Registration open: 16 – 21 July | Greifswald & Berlin – Summer Academy
“Energy & the Environment”
Towards 100% renewable energy: Connecting energy sectors for a global energy transition
The 14th annual Summer Academy ‘Energy and the Environment’ is now open!
The interdisciplinary 6-day long Summer Academy will show that full renewable energy integration is in reach, and will address the challenge of moving beyond electricity, and connect renewable integration with the heat and transport sector into a sustainable, smart energy system.
With over 25 nationalities attending last year, the Academy offers an international perspective on the major issues associated with the global energy transition. The program features workshops, visits to a wind energy farm and a renewable electricity storage plant, as well as a three-day conference program. The event also offers a social/evening program, ending with a festive barbecue in Berlin.
The Summer Academy admits 25 participants with academic and professional experience in the field. The program is rooted in policy as key driver of change, and offers a diverse and interdisciplinary perspective considering societal, technological and regulatory/economic elements. This interdisciplinary approach will be reflected in the selection of participants. Places are limited, so please do not wait too long with sending a registration form to summeracademy at ikem.de ! You will find an outline of the program below, and more detailed information on our website.
Full program: www.ikemsummeracademy.de/program2017
General information: www.ikemsummeracademy.de
Sunday 16 July – Welcome – Greifswald
Meet & greet
Tour of the University of Greifswald
Monday 17 July – Introduction & wind farms – Greifswald
Introduction to smart energy systems
Energy transition: International perspectives and priorities
Group visit of a large wind energy farm in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
Tuesday 18 July – The German Energy Transition – Power-to-Gas – Greifswald
Sektorenkopplung: The German Approach to Energy Sector Connection for Renewable Integration
Visit of a power-to-gas hybrid power plant (conversion of renewable electricity into gas)
Arrival in Berlin
Wednesday 19 July – Climate and renewable energy policies – Berlin
Climate change and energy consumption: From coal to renewables
International climate policy: The Paris Agreement and beyond
Climate change and the United States: Outlook on policy and impacts
Going Offshore: Fostering Germany‘s Energy Transition from the Seas
Let the Sun Shine! The Power of Solar in Decentralized Energy Systems in Africa
Thursday 20 July – Energy sector connection for RES integration – Berlin
Renewable energy in the European Union: Moving beyond electricity?
Advancing energy storage: Roadmap for policy and technology
Decarbonisation strategies for the heating sector
Smart energy systems: Scenarios for 100% renewable energy
Circular economy and energy efficiency: Key elements in a smart energy system
Energy efficiency: Policy challenges
Friday 21 July – Energy transition in the mobility sector – Berlin
Sustainability trends in the mobility sector
The rise of the electric cars: Status quo and outlook
Renewable electric vehicles and micro smart grids
Hydrogen and mobility infrastructure
Final case study:
From vision to reality: 100% renewable energy on the island of Samsø, Denmark
IKEM is a non-profit research institute. The participation fees of the Summer Academy are used by IKEM to cover the operational costs of the event. IKEM will waive the participation fee for a selection of participants with exceptional academic/professional experience in the field. Please note that accommodation is not included in the fee and cannot be covered by IKEM.
Summer Academy ‘Energy and the Environment’
IKEM – Institut für Klimaschutz, Energie und Mobilität e.V.
D-10179 Berlin | Germany
summeracademy at ikem.de
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 23rd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
‹Europa im Diskurs – Debating Europe›
Europa, USA: Was ändert sich mit Trump? What Changes With A Trump US Presidency?
Der neue US-Präsident Donald Trump wird eine andere Außenpolitik vertreten als Barack Obama. Es ist zu erwarten, dass die USA ihre bisherige Rolle als „Weltpolizei“ nicht mehr in dem Maße wie bisher ausüben wollen. Das hat Auswirkungen auf die Bündnispartner, nicht nur in der Nato. Was haben die Europäer von Trump zu erwarten?
THAT WAS THE GIVEN – THE US WILL STOP BEING LESS THE WORLD COP AS IT WAS BEFIRE TRUMP.
That was the Monthly Meeting at the Venerable Vienna Burgtheater for the Month of March 2017 (March 5th).
It will have a sequel on April 2nd, 2017 WHEN POPULISM IN GENERAL WILL BE DISCUSSED..
IRITH JAWETZ REPORTS FROM VIENNA.
It was interesting, although no major surprises. They all agreed that Trump will represent a different foreign policy that Barack Obama or any US President who preceded him. Is it to be expected that the US will no longer want to exercise their role as world police to the extent they have done in the past? This has an impact on the alliance partners, not only in NATO. Trump’s turn to Russia presents the EU with challenges to which they must respond.
Under the leadership and Moderation of Alexandra Foederl-Schmid, the Speakers were:
Judy Dempsey, Senior Fellow, Carnegie Europe; Alison Smale, head of the Berlin New York Times office; Robert Dornhelm, Film Director and Movie Script-Writer; Former US Republican Congressman; and Ivan Krastev, Political Science Professor, Bulgaria and Permanent Fellow of the Institute for Human Sciences (Instituts fuer Wissenschaften vom Menschen – IWM) Vienna.
THAT WAS THE BURGTHEATER PROGRAM FOR SUNDAY, MARCH 5, 2017. EUROPE BEING DISCUSSED (Europa Im Diskurs) -EUROPE-USA: WHAT WILL CHANGE UNDER TRUMP?
ON SUNDAY, APRIL 2, 2017 11:00, there will be a sequel –
Burgtheater | Europa im Diskurs – Debating Europe
Leben wir im Zeitalter des Populismus?
“DO WE LIVE IN A TIME OF POPULISM?” – this is like seeing if what happened in te USA will
happen in Europe as well.
On March 5, 2017 – Most speakers were not Trump supporters (except Irish lady Dempsey who did not really support him but said one must give him a chance). Nevertheless – all of them view him with caution, to say the least.
The two surprising participants for me were Jim Kolbe, Former Republican Congressman from Arizona (1985 till 2007) who is now Board member of IRI (International Republican Institute).
He started by stating that he will definitely not get a phone call from the Trump Administration to join their cabinet. He did not support Trump from the start, and still does not support him. In his closing remarks, Congressman Kolb said that some Republicans are starting to doubt Trump’s ability to be President. He mentioned his fellow Arizonian John McCain and Lindsey Graham in particular. He criticized Trump’s Administration by saying that very often he says one thing and his Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense say something different – and who is to believe? Is Steve Bannon running the show?
As for Trump’s relationship with Russia, Europe should worry – said Congressman Kolb.
The second surprise was Robert Dornheim, a Film Director and Screenwriter, who was born in Romania but has dual citizenship Austrian and US and lives now mainly in Los Angeles.
As a staunch Bernie Sanders supporter he is is completely against Trump. Dornheim was also angry at the media, that fell for Trump’s ability at showmanship during the whole campaign and gave him about 10 hours of coverage to 10 minutes of coverage to Sanders. As a result many Sanders supporters voted for Trump and he personally has lost many friends that way. He urged Jim Kolbe to use his influence on his fellow Republicans to do something! He even went as far as to suggest that all debates about a Trump Presidency should not be taken so seriously – since he is not worth it. One should not even discuss him. This brought a mixed reaction from the panel and audience and was not taken too seriously.
The other panel members were Judy Dempsey, Senior Fellow, Carnegie Foundation, an Irish journalist, who was the most lenient towards Trump and said, among other things that we cannot forget that he was elected with the support of millions of people, and he is now the President and must be given a chance.
Ivan Krastev, Political Scientist analyzed Trump at length, mentioned his obsession with Radical Islam which dates back to many years before, obsessed with the Trade deficit and the idea that deficit is always bad (although it has existed in the US for many years already), and his idea of “Make American great again” is his main goal.
As for Russia, none of the people around Trump are specialists on Russia, and Trump is somewhat obsessed with Putin. Both Trump and Putin have something in common as both dislike the state of the world right now. FYI for you, nobody mentioned Yalta or Malta and the dividing of Europe.Maybe they do not believe it will go that far.
As for Trump’s latest accusation of President Obama wiretapping his phones at Trump Tower, all agreed that this is absurd, there is no evidence to it. Jim Kolbe explained that in the US you need a court order to do that, and it was definitely not asked for or given to President Obama.
Ivan Krastev said that this is Trump’s tactic. He rules by distraction. When an important issues come up (right now Sessions reclusing himself from the Russia investigation) Trump comes up with some sensational Tweet to distract. This is his governing tactics.
All panel members agreed that Europe has to stay united and become stronger together.
Europe cannot rely on the US anymore and must become a powerful counterpart.
They did not touch on the Immigration issue or Climate Change.
THE APRIL 2017 EVENT:
Burgtheater | April 2, 2017 – 11.00 o’clock |
Europa im Diskurs – Debating Europe
Leben wir im Zeitalter des Populismus?
DO WE LIVE IN TIMES OF POPULISM?
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 11th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Exxon eyes Israel after Cyprus win
9 Mar, 2017 14:09
After winning a Cypriot government tender, Exxon Mobile has expressed interest in bidding for Israeli natural gas tenders.
Israeli Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz met last week with senior executives from Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell during his visit to the US. The minister’s associates say that while Royal Dutch Shell will probably not take part in the new tender for oil and gas exploration licenses in Israeli waters, the Exxon Mobil executives came equipped with a great deal of relevant information, and expressed interest in the tender.
The reason is allegedly the announcement two days ago that Exxon had won a tender for oil and gas exploration in Block 10 in Cyprus as part of a consortium with Qatar Petroleum. A group composed of Italian company ENI and Total, and ENI by itself, won the concession for two other blocks in the tender.
In a fourth block already held by Total, the company asked the Cypriot government for permission to add ENI as a 50% partner in the license, because the block is located only six kilometers away from the Egyptian Zohr gas reservoir discovered by ENI. Total expects ENI’s extensive knowledge of the geology in the area to be of use in finding gas in Cyprus.
Steinitz’s associates say that since Exxon is starting to prepare for activity in a nearby area, the company believes that it is likely to prove worthwhile to develop parallel activity in Israel, and to use the same transportation infrastructure to export gas discovered in both countries to Europe.
Steinetz went to Europe early this week, and flew from there to New York and Houston for a week of meetings with energy concerns. In Rome, he met with his Italian counterpart, and held meetings in New York with the Barclays, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan investments banks, as well as with a group of private investors organized by the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). In Houston, he took part in the CERAweek energy conference, and held meetings with energy companies.
Steinitz told “Globes,” I was surprised to see energy ministers and representatives of energy companies from all over the world congratulate us on the beginning of development in Leviathan, after years of delay. Almost everyone had assumed that Leviathan was a lost cause… especially given the global crisis in investments in oil and gas fields and the fact that some of the deep water projects of the Leviathan type have been canceled or postponed in various places around the world.
“In meetings with some of the world’s largest investment banks, they noted the change in Israel’s image in the energy market, from a place to be avoided into a responsible country attractive for energy investments in general, and private gas in particular. The plans we displayed for building an undersea pipeline to Turkey, and from Israel and Cyprus to Greece and Italy, aroused a surprising degree of interest.”
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News – www.globes-online.com – on March 9, 2017
and appears in many Israeli publications, i.e. The Jerusalem Post, March 10, 2017
SustainabiliTank, sorry for the Trump Administration’s definitive efforts to undo the Obama Administration’s great successes in decreasing the place of oil in the global energy markets,
sees now a decreasing importance of the EPA, Energy Policy, Environment Policy and Global Climate Change avoidance. But also a planed subservience of The State Department to the US oil Interests – the revival of the American Petroleum Institute (API) in the Governing of the USA.
Geting the present Israel Government interested in the cooperation in developing sea resources could perhaps take off some of the pressure in the political arena, though clearly inctreasing
pressure against the potential of an Iranian sea base on Syrian soil. All of this within Israel and US State Department attention.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 8th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Summer School of Sustainability Science
Ecole d’été en science de la durabilité
THE GOVERNANCE OF SOCIO-ECOLOGICAL SYSTEMS
LES SOCIO-ÉCOSYSTÈMES SOUS L’ANGLE DU POLITIQUE :
POUR UNE DISSECTION DU CONCEPT DE GOUVERNANCE
EXPLORING THE LAND-OCEAN CONTINUUM: COASTAL ZONES, RIVER DELTAS, ISLANDS AND WETLANDS
A LA DECOUVERTE DU CONTINUUM TERRE-OCEAN : COTES, DELTAS, ILES ET ZONES HUMIDES
Brest, Brittany, France, 2-7 July 2017
Brest, Bretagne, France, 2-7 juillet 2017
organized jointly by
organisé conjointement par
French Network of LTER Sites
Réseau des Zones Ateliers
Netherlands Research School for Socio-Economic and Natural Sciences of the Environment
Ecole néerlandaise de recherche pour les sciences socio-économiques et naturelles de l’environnement
in partnership with
en collaboration avec
European University Institute of the Sea of Brest
Institut universitaire européen de la mer de Brest
HABITER Research Laboratory
Equipe d’accueil HABITER
School of Geometers and Topographers of Tours
Ecole supérieure des géomètres et topographes de Tours
The GOSES Summer School is specifically designed not only for doctoral candidates, but also for pre-docs, post-docs, junior and senior scholars, who wish to further explore the governance of socio-ecological systems, discuss cutting-edge research with peers and established scholars alike and develop specific skills such as presenting and discussing their own research, co-writing scientific articles and modeling socio-ecological systems. The language of instruction will be English.
Social-Ecological Systems – Ecosystems – Environmental Regions – Governance – Scale – Local – Regional – Global – Sustainability – Integrated Approaches – Diagnostic Frameworks – Boundary Work – Participative Research – Coastal Zones – River Deltas – Islands – Wetlands – Fisheries – Parks – Landscapes – Food Systems – Irrigation Schemes – Aquifers – River Basins – Regional Seas – Oceans – Biodiversity – Endangered Species
Sustainability Science – Environmental Sciences – Ecology – Biology – Sociology – Political Science – International Relations – Management – Economics – Agronomics – Geography – Planning – Law – Philosophy – any discipline related to ecosystems, society, governance and sustainability
If you are interested in attending, please pre-register to the GOSES Summer School using the link below. Actual inscriptions will be opened approximately three months before the event. Pre-registrations help us plan the event and ensure that all those who are interested in attending are informed as soon as more information is available and inscriptions are open. The deadline for pre-registration is 15 April 2017. Pre-registration must be submitted though the following link:
This Summer School is part of an Action Nationale de Formation (ANF) of the CNRS. Up to 10 scholarships to cover tuition, travel, board and accommodation will be available for CNRS staff members and up to 5 extra scholarships will be available for scholars affiliated to CNRS mixed research units (UMR). Moreover, at least 5 spots will be reserved for members of SENSE who confirm participation by 31 May 2017. At least 5 spots will be open to external participants. Inscriptions will be on a first come first serve basis, provided certain minimum requirements are met.
Contact: goses-school at univ-reims.fr
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 7th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
From FAREED ZAKARIA’S Daily Briefing for Tuesday March 7, 2017
“Eurodeterrent” is Going Mainstream
Some European officials are mulling something that until recently had seemed unthinkable – a European Union nuclear weapons program, writes Max Fisher in the New York Times.
“Analysts say that the talk, even if it never translates into action, demonstrates the growing sense in Europe that drastic steps may be necessary to protect the postwar order in the era of a Trump presidency, a resurgent Russia and the possibility of an alignment between the two,” Fisher writes. “Even proponents, who remain a minority, acknowledge enormous hurdles. But discussion of a so-called ‘Eurodeterrent’ has entered the mainstream…”
“Mist of Fear” in Turkey
Opposition voices in Turkey should be given the same kind of support that the West offered dissidents speaking up in the Soviet Union, suggests Timothy Garton Ash in The Guardian.
“To travel to Turkey today is to journey into darkness: tens of thousands of state employees and thousands of academics dismissed, more journalists locked up than in any other country, and a chilly mist of fear.”
China Eyeing Up America’s Backyard?
China is poised to step into the void being left by the Trump administration in America’s own backyard, writes Kevin Gallagher in Foreign Policy.
Latin American nations “are understandably wary of negotiating anything with a government that has denigrated them and called their citizens ‘bad hombres’ and worse,” Gallagher writes. “Enter China, which just days after the election released a new white paper calling Latin America and the Caribbean a ‘land of vitality and hope.’ The plan promises to implement earlier pledges of trade and investment, but without the U.S.-strings attached in terms of deregulation and name-calling.”
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 28th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Why We Love Putinology
From The Guardian: Never before have “more people with less knowledge, and greater outrage, opined on the subject of Russia’s president.” Call it Putinology. But the various theories about Vladimir Putin probably say more about us than about him, writes Keith Gessen.
“In the long run, the Russia card is not just bad politics, it is intellectual and moral bankruptcy. It is an attempt to blame the deep and abiding problems of our country on a foreign power. As some commentators have pointed out, it is a page from the playbook of none other than Putin himself.”
The Story of the Week Is Trump, Russia and the FBI. The Rest Is a Distraction
By Malcolm Nance, Guardian UK
27 February 17
The White House reportedly tried to influence an active counter-intelligence investigation. All else, press ban included, is designed to deflect attention
arrative switching. That is what the Trump administration is desperately trying to do around Russia right now. The White House reportedly interfered with the FBI in the middle of an active investigation involving counter-intelligence. This was not only foolhardy but also suspicious, as it directly undermined their apparent objective: distracting us.
On 14 February, the New York Times reported that advisers and associates of Donald Trump may have been in direct and continuous contact with officers of the Russian intelligence agency, the FSB, during a tumultuous election campaign in which the American democracy itself was hacked. A major party – now in opposition – was the victim of an unprecedented cyber-attack.
According to the Times, intercepted telephone calls and phone records indicated to American counter-intelligence officers direct contact with the Russians.
The stakes are high. Most Democrats and more than a few Republicans believe this investigation could unearth details that could plunge the nation into a political and constitutional crisis not seen since the secession of the South in 1860 and 1861.
The Trump administration has repeatedly denied the characterization and defended the campaign’s conduct. However, its denials have always been couched in the most legalistic terms and each falls apart with every new revelation. It doesn’t help that Trump himself calls the allegations “fake news” then validates the reporting by attacking the leaks – suggesting that they are true.
Now, thanks to CNN, we learned on Thursday that Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, had reportedly contacted the deputy director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, and requested that the bureau publicly characterize the Times story as not being serious – in McCabe’s reported words, “total BS”.
When this was rebuffed by McCabe, Priebus reportedly went to the FBI director, James Comey, who allegedly also refused to comment publicly. Priebus then allegedly asked both if he could quote them anonymously as “top intelligence officials”, saying the story was totally wrong. According to CNN, McCabe and Comey agreed to let him do that, despite the fact that the FBI and the White House are prohibited from communicating about open investigations.
The White House then turned to other intelligence officials and to members of Congress. According to the Washington Post, House and Senate intelligence committee chairs Devin Nunes and Richard Burr were asked to push back against Russian stories that did not favor the administration. They told the Post they did so.
No matter what the contention, the fundamental fact exists that the FBI, based on McCabe’s and Comey’s remarks, has inadvertently verified that there is, in fact, a counter-intelligence investigation going on involving the associates of the president. Until now the investigation had only been reported through anonymous sources.
This bungled attempt to manage the media reveals the fear in the White House: that there may actually be a smoking gun that ties Trump to Moscow’s hacking.
It is always possible that Trump’s then campaign manager, Paul Manafort, former adviser Carter Page and others may have been in contact with Russians as part of foreign policy development. But given the political environment in the summer of 2016, after the hack of the Democratic National Committee, it is very hard to believe that any continuous and repeated contact with the Kremlin was completely innocent.
Priebus’s clumsy attempt to perform perception management judo only added fuel to the fire. Then it was raked over with Trump’s often incomprehensible flamethrower rhetoric when he declared CNN reporting “fake news” and had them banned, with the New York Times and other outlets including the Guardian, from a press gaggle on Friday.
Any investigation involving Trump advisers and Russian intelligence is serious stuff. If borne out, it has the potential to become the greatest political scandal in American history. But this meddling by the White House is one step too far. It is not typical Washington pushback. It smacks of a strategy of cover-up.
It is high time for the House and Senate to form independent select subcommittees to ferret out the truth. The key questions are simple. What did Trump and his staff know about the hacks? When did they know it and were they complicit in any way?
If American citizens worked alongside a foreign power to interfere in American democracy, it must be found out and quickly. It is crucial to retain the trust in our president and the electoral process. The stakes are nothing less than the legitimacy of American liberal democracy.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 27th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Once a month, on Sunday 11am, the Burgtheater main hall is taken over by Ms. Alexandra Foederl-Schmidtdt, the editor of “Der Standard” who chairs a podium-discussion loaded with local and foreign intellectual lights.
She is backed in the endeavor not just by the theater direction and her paper’s foundation, but also by the Erste Bank Foundation and most important by IWM – the Vienna Institute for Human Sciences – an NGO run now by Shalini Randeria, Rector of IWM, Professor of Social Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute in Geneva with strong involvement of Ivan Krastev, Chair of the Board at the Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia (Bulgaria).
Look at the ways the USA and the EU Member States are evolving these days, I would like to p0int out the last podium discussion – that of February 19, 2017 titled: “Do We Live In Revolutionary Times? and my intent is also to announce next meeting – it will be held March 5, 2017. The title of the next meeting will be
“EUROPE, USA: WHAT CHANGES WITH TRUMP.”
The panel for the upcoming March discussion, under Ms. Foederl-Schmidt leadership, will include Ivan Krastev of IWM, Judy Dempsey, Senior Fellow Carnegie Europe, Allison Smale, Chief Correspondent of the New York Times in Berlin, Robert Dornhelm, Writer and Film Director, and Jim Kolbe, a former Republican member of US Congress.
Now regarding the February meeting of this EUROPE IN DISCOURSE SERIES:
the question – “DO WE LIVE IN REVOLUTIONARY TIMES” was addressed by Karel Schwarzenberg, former Czech Foreign Minister, Hans Christian Stroebele, a founding member of the Green Party of Germany, Phillip Blom, Writer and history journalist from Vienna, and the magical Agnes Heller, a boiling philosopher, born in Budapest in 1929, fled Hungary in 1956 to Australia, made an impact in many English speaking countries and is listed at 97 years young as emerita at the New School for Social Research in New York.
Among the many points presented in the discussion I will try to mention those that seemed to me as having made most impact.
Prof. Heller wants to start with defining democracy – what does it mean today? States like Iraq, Turkey, or Russia have democracy but these are not the same. We want a Liberal Democracy in the West. But look at Greece, Portugal, or Spain – there is no unity at the EU on their meaning.
The crises, yes – there is something positive in them. People start to see that there is something to lose.
Prof. Blom says that we are not living in a Weimar Republic. We are too rich and have a civil Society. Next revolution will not be in uniform but rather it will come as a normalization process.
The National Socialism was no Socialism, and the Italian Fascism was no Nazism. In 1945 the World was as exhausted as Europe after the Napoleon Wars. The revolution came only in 1956 and he sees today a similarity to 1968. “WE WILL NOT GET FASCISM BUT SOME NEW STUPIDITY!”
Stroebele says that the real question remains the lack of distribution of wealth. The problem is with migrants from a country like Iraq that saw no part in the wealth.
Europe is to be blamed because it used its agriculture power and destroyed the agriculture in
the countries it touched. The corn in the Midwest is cheaper then in Mexico and sending it there makes Mexico poorer. If you want to help – give them money. To this Ms. Heller said
“I loved it.” She wrote a book – “FROM UTOPIA TO DYSTOPIA.”
She added that historians and philosopher do not deal with hope but with facts.
Prof. Heller returned to the subject by saying revolution is a European concept. In the 20’s there was a belief in independence and freedom. This was a political revolution. Today people do not trust this. Also – too few children in Europe. Change is not in the cards.
Stroebele: the French revolution was a revolution of poverty. Now you can build walls but the Africans will come nevertheless.
Heller: you are right – the problem is not European but Global.
Schwarzenberg: We must bring the jobs to Africa.
Blom: Digitalization will lead to less jobs not more. The business model is so damaged it cannot be sustained. We must have politicians that ask what society needs in 30 years.
To have such politicians we must want to have them.
He also said that there will be migration from Mexico, and Trump reheats ideas from 100 years ago under belief that humans are not equal. He may even conclude that Humans are not the most clever apes.
Schwarzenberg’s conclusion was that in Gatopardo: We must change everything in order to remain where we are.
Other events at the IWM building at are:
March 2nd, 6:00 pm — lecture by Rainer Bauboeck
DEMOCRATIC INCLUSION: A PLURALISTIC THEORY OF CITIZENSHIP.
March 9th, 6:00 pm — book presentation by Luuk van Middelaar
A WAY OUT OF CRISIS: THE EU AND THE ART OF POLITICAL IMPROVISATION.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 26th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Having reported on the situation in the USA, and not seeing there hope before the more solid Republicans start impeachment procedures on the base of Trump’s instability, we see no reason
to spend more attention on a temporarily lost land.
Our attention will now switch to resiliency in Europe – much of what we neglected so far.
As we are based in Austria – much of our attention will thus go to Austria which is simmering full with positive thinking.
First let us congratulate Austria for the recent election of an excellent Presidential choice.
The background of those elections was very similar in the two countries.
In both countries historically there was a two party system – two parties that nourished from the same establishment – and in both countries people had enough of the frozen establishment
and clamored for change.
We know the US had a frozen Democratic Party that its leadership did not realize that times were changing. The Republicans were more fortunate in the sense that the Conservative Action wing established by President Reagan and nourished by Patrick Buchanan, then reinvigorated
by Sarah Palin, did in effect take over the party from the inside. Their establishment thought they will master Trump and happily followed him to victory. The Democrats on the other hand
did not accept the Bernie Sanders challenge – so the only force declaring he was for change –
was Trump and the voters in their naivete responded with – he was the only game in town.
In Austria it was just as clear, but there was a different result. Simply, perhaps it is true,
the Austrian farmers are wiser then the American goons, and the Austrian establishment was not afraid in recognizing the need to correct course.
So, what happened there? “The Reds” or the Austrian Socialist Party, and “The Blacks” or
the Austrian Peoples Party, in a perpetual coalition, though afraid from the growing “Blue”
Party” or the Austrian Right Populist Party, just did not recognize that people were fed up
with corruption tales involving the two ruling parties and wanted change. The two separate candidates of these ruling parties were no promise for change, and in the first round lost to the Blue candidate and “the Green” candidate – the candidate of the environmentalists who left the Green Party he once led, and ran as an independent. So- the run-off was between Blue and Green. And here comes the clever move on part of nearly all Red voters, and a substantial part of the Black voters – they voted Green in order to keep the Blue out of the Presidential
This needs further explanation. The Austrian President is elected in direct elections but has really no powers except on one topic – and on this later. The full powers to run the State
is in the hands of the Chancellor – like in Germany – and he/she are elected by the Parliament in direct party-lines count of the representatives of the public vote. The only power held by the President is to supervise the function of the government, and if he finds it not functioning to his satisfaction he can dissolve the Parliament and force new elections.
That is exactly what the Reds and Blacks feared. A Blue President dissolving the Parliament and leading to the possibility of a Blue Chancellor. So, a nice Independent Green was by far
better then a Trumpist Blue. To nail this down further – let us just note that Blue candidate Norbert Hofer and Blue Party chair Heinz Christian Strache, both, though uninvited, decided to travel to Washington for the inauguration of President Trump. Hofer is the Second Deputy Chair of the Austrian Parliament and Strache just a Party Chair – both no official representatives of the Austrian Government – so there really was no need to invite them officially. Their standing clearly no better then that of British Nigel Farrage.
The Editor of the “Wiener Zeitung”, Reinhard Goewell pointed out February 2nd, 2017, that in totality, the EU of 28 has an economy much better and more robust then commonly accepted – this because figures are per member state; he points out the count of Olympic medals. If aded up – tey are the winners by far. He also said that Europe’s citizens are not presented these total numbers and just do not realize their united strength. If President Trump directed by his chief ideologue Steven Bannon want to distance themselves from the 1776 formulation of a global world of Human Rights based on Life, Freedom, and striving for happiness, Europe must take over the leadership. This must be a united Europe. Thinking of the Islamic Berbers and the Ottomans – their relations to Spain and the Balkan, Europe must find its own way as the Trump/Bannon team is strange to Europe despite the present problems with Islamists.
Even though population-wise, the pert of the “old continent” is sinking, remembering it still is the strongest economic power has to light its way.
At this month’s summit EU meeting in Valetta, the present EU leadership by tiny Malta, has started a process to reform the EU Charter with further ideas to be presented by Mr. Donald Tusk of Poland, the EU Council Chair. A more powerful central leadership is being called for,
though clearly not a full Federal Government. The right way is not a European melting pot – but the Patrick Moynihan idea of a stew that respects its various separate ingredients.
That seems now imperative in a Trump/Bannon world that might again try to split the European States for the benefit of the USA and Russia.
EU Commission Chief Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg sees the need to divide the EU
post-Brexit membership into into more capable and less capable States for sake of dividing te responsibilities as per capacity of fulfilling them. This would create a two-level Union.
The European Central Bank (ECB) governing council member for Austria, the honorable Ewald Nowotny, said already November 9th 2016 that Donald Trump’s shock election win in the United States “is not a good day for the world economy” and “Close observation is certainly necessary right now.” Nowotny, is on the ECB’s governing council that makes monetary policy decisions as he is head of Austria’s Central Bank the National Bank of Austria. Today, despite the seemingly positive moves of economy and banking globally – Nowotny is not impressed and advocates the European decoupling from the American financial system – as inevitable downs are bound to come. So, a Europe United but moving at different speeds – internally and externally is in the making.
Above leads us to efforts, by young and old, to help insulate the European Union from the vagaries of a changing America. Also, seeing no future in American leadership, the EU, fending for itself will also continue to pursue global goals as formulated under the accepted US leadership of President Obama days. From our point of view the themes of the Global environment and the halting of Climate change to an acceptable minimum will now be pursued by the Europeans as if the US were no partners or residents of this planet. As long as Trump still resides at the White House – it will be impossible to hold him responsible for these prior agreements. As above, our main reporting will deal with Vienna – as in Austria and as at the UN Vienna Center.
As part of this series of reports we look at IAAI and ACUNS meetings in Vienna – The “International Association for the Advancement of Innovative Approaches to Global Challenges” and the “Academic Council on the United Nations System,”
IAAI is an Austrian NGO run out of Klagenfurt, Carinthia, Austria and Ljublijana, Slovenia.
January 16, 2017 it held a Workshop: “Youth, Agenda2030, Social Entrepreneurship & Digital Social Currencies.” The Workshop was held at the Vienna UN Center and had also te Sponsorship of UNIDO and UN-Habitat and of RAUN (the Regional Academy on United Nations) as well.
The keynote speaker was former Austrian Chancellor – Werner Faymann.
RAUN – created with the help of Sweden’s Jan Eliasson, UN Deputy Secretary General, as an Austrian organization belongs to the larger ACUNS and the IAAI Workshop was in conjunction to the bi-yearly meeting of ACUNS. That followed then January 17 – 20, 2017.
At this year’s meetings, RAUN was represented by Lisa Mokra and IAAI by its head – Miroslav Polzer and ACUNS by Alistair Edgar, the head of te organization who is from Waterloo, Canada.
The gist of above meetings was to continue, Austria based the work of UN New York.
At the Vienna Business University (“Wirtschaftsuniversitaet”) February 9-11, 2017 there was a conference titled “The 2nd Congress for a GOOD LIFE FOR ALL.” A good life is not consumerism!
We must learn to give up some things to attain good life, but we want Human Rights and an ecological background.
In his Keynote speech, Prof. Andreas Novy said “Change comes in Chaos.” He defined the GOOD LIFE as the life of those that do not live on account of others. This is a direct continuation of the French Revolution and the Austrian Revolution of 1918 that led to the First Austrian Republic. He sounded like Senator Bernie Sanders of the US.
Freedom for all needs borders that are set democratically – sustainability is a basis to this.
The Red Vienna was terminated by the establishing of Nazism. Now we strive to a concrete Utopia of Civilization.
On the second day there was a guest from Ecuador – an embattled State that saw some of its worst allowing oil and mining companies rip up the land and make its inhabitants destitute.
Yvonne Yanez is from Accion Ecologica of Ecuador that for 20 years fights for Ecuador and Cuba. She reminded the audience that Austria is part of the Europe that uses more land overseas then in its own country – to be exact 65% of the land use is outside the country.
So, really what is true Good Life? The question is – How do we degrade the planet less
so we do not flood the Danube?
Further on – February 15-17, 2017 the large Conference at the Technical University of Vienna – “Climate Goals for 2050 – Chance for a Paradigm Change?”
The book of abstracts weighs 1.4 kg. The areas covered technology-wise are very large.
Much goes to electricity production and use. Austria has already 10,000 electric cars and
plans with 16,000 more. At Linz Austria is developing Hydrogen Technology and plans with
a decentralized Hydrogen based system. Much more on this in future postings.
Then, not to forget a truly High-Tech event February 14-15, 2017 at the Austrian Presidential Hofburg. Title: “Global Summit on Blockchain Technology in the Energy Sector.”
Presenters and in audience people from all over the World. Much talk of Cybertechnology.
Vienna does not wait anymore for Washington to show te way – actually – how can one defend himself of Washington intrusion seems to be the order of the day.
Is it true that Germany is now surveying American encrypted messages?
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 24th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
The reports come in – people n the USA are afraid to breathe because of raids by ICE – his beefed up Immigration and Customs Enforcement goons (ICE). On the other hand Global Warming may result from the potential Trade Wars he may throw on the US.
To make things worse reports tell us that CNN and other news organizations were blocked today, Friday, from an off-camera White House press briefing. The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and Politico were also excluded from the meeting, which is known as a gaggle and is less formal than the televised Q-and-A session in the White House briefing room.
Conservative media organizations Breitbart News, The Washington Times and One America News Network were allowed in. These are the Bannon shepherded media friendly to Trump.
These are unacceptable conditions for a democracy – they are rather the kind of moves that an Erdogan or a Putin are trained to do. Now this US White House after one month of Trump is
tracking at high speed. WORLD BEWARE.
And from Huffington Post: A set of memos released by the Department of Homeland Security Tuesday revealed the Trump administration has broadened the categories of undocumented immigrants considered priorities for deportation. “The Department will no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement,” one document says. DHS also directed ICE to hire 10,000 additional people to get the job done.
Customs and Border Protection officers requested identification documents from passengers disembarking a domestic flight at New York City’s JFK Airport Wednesday. In a statement that a New York Times reporter posted on Twitter, CBP said it was assisting ICE officials in locating a person they believed may have been on the flight.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said at a press conference in Mexico City Thursday there would be no “use of military forces in immigration operations,” and “no – repeat, no – mass deportations.” His address came hours after President Donald Trump said that recent immigration enforcement efforts were a “military operation.”
The British Conservative Extremist Nigel Farage is swimming these days with the US Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at AC Hotel National Harbor, Washington DC area – in Maryland.
Many States in Europe have as well groupings that honor Trump. Trump’s people – quite a few of them – have had questionable contacts with Putin’s people. European governments are worried that a Yalta kind of construct that splits Europe may be what Trump smokes in his dreams.
How will China and North Korea react react to this newly dreamt up World order?
The result – an America made unsafe rather then great.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 24th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
This is the first posting on SustainabiliTank that will be followed by another posting based on an event at the CLUB OF LOGICAL THINKERS, Vienna – February 8, 2017.
‘Sobering’ poll finds European support for Trump’s Muslim ban.
Curbing migration enjoys support in most countries at the centre of the refugee crisis.
By ESZTER ZALAN, February 9, 2017, The EUObserver from Brussels.
The majority of Europeans, according to a poll of more than 10,000 people in 10 EU countries, would support a Trump-style ban on migration from mainly Muslim countries.
The London-based think tank, Chatham House, conducted the poll before US president Donald Trump’s executive order was announced and asked if immigration from Muslim-majority countries should be stopped.
An average of 55 percent of those surveyed agreed, 25 percent neither agreed nor disagreed and 20 percent disagreed, the poll, published on Tuesday, (7 February) said.
According to the survey, 71 percent of people in Poland, 65 percent Austria, 64 percent in Hungary and Belgium, and 61 percent in France agreed.
Support was also high in Greece (58%), Germany (53%), Italy (51%), the UK (47%) and Spain (41%).
Chatham House called the findings “striking and sobering”.
“They [the results] suggest that public opposition to any further migration from predominantly Muslim states is by no means confined to Trump’s electorate in the US but is fairly widespread,” it said in a statement.
Most of these countries have been central in the migration crisis, or have seen terrorist attacks over the last years, and the radical right is part of their political scene, Chatham Hose pointed out.
Support for the ban was stronger among older populations, with only 44 percent of people aged 18-29 being in favour, while 63 percent of those older than 60 said they agreed with a ban.
The notion of a ban was more popular with men and those living in rural areas. Urban dwellers and female respondents were less likely to support the move.
Education was also a dividing factor: of those with secondary level qualifications 59 percent opposed further Muslim immigration, while less than half of all degree holders supported further migration curbs.
European leaders have slammed Trump’s immigration ban from seven mainly Muslim countries, while leaders of Europe’s populist right-wing parties have praised the move.
Lack of faith
Another recent survey also showed that 80 percent of respondents have lost confidence in political parties, and the media, and are looking for strong leaders who break rules.
The worldwide survey conducted online by Ipsos targeted adults under 65 in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States.
The results, published in late January, showed that people say they were more likely to support a party or political leader who promised radical change.
European respondents participating in the survey generally lacked trust in international institutions.
After the eurozone turmoil and bank bailouts, people also lacked faith in banks, with Spain and Italy leading the way, on 92 and 80 percent, respectively, followed by Germany on 75 percent.
People tended to distrust the justice system as well, although to a lesser degree, with Spain, Hungary, Italy, and Poland being the most sceptical among the surveyed European nations.
Lack of confidence in the media was also well above 50 percent in the European countries participating in the poll.
In Hungary, where prime minister Viktor Orban’s ruling Fidesz has dominated the media landscape, respondents distrusted the media the most, with 87 percent saying they lack confidence.
Seventy five percent of British respondents also said they do not trust their media.
Most respondents had no confidence in their government either, with Spain distrusting their political leadership with 89 percent. Polish and Hungarian respondents also said ( 82 percent) that they do not trust their governments.
In all European countries participating in the survey, over 70 percent of the respondents said they did not trust political parties.
No surprise then that a high proportion of people was more likely to vote for a political party or leader that stood up for common people against the elite, and that around half were attracted to political parties and leaders promising to upset the status quo. The same group would support a leader who offends others, but speaks his/her mind.
With the presidential election campaign heating up in France, where far-right leader Marine Le Pen is a front-runner, 80 percent of French respondents said they want a “strong leader who breaks the rules”.
In some European countries, which have been victims of terrorist attacks, like Belgium and France, people favour “stopping terrorism over protecting civil rights”. In Germany, only 40 percent supported that notion.
Around half of the people in Hungary, Belgium, and Italy thought that their country would be stronger if immigration was stopped, a curious result in Hungary where there is virtually no immigration, as last year it granted asylum protection to just 432 people, according to official figures.
In order not to create the wrong impression with the Israeli Government that above represents a change regarding the opposition to land-snatch in the West Bank, we are obligated to post s well another article of the EUobserver of today:
Germany leads EU rebuke on Israeli land snatch.
By ANDREW RETTMAN
BRUSSELS, February 9, 2017
Germany and France have spoken out in strident terms against Israel’s plan to confiscate privately-owned Palestinian land by legalising settler outposts.
“The confidence we had in the Israeli government’s commitment to the two-state solution has been profoundly shaken,” the German foreign ministry said on Wednesday (8 February).
Jewish settlers create illegal outposts under the protection of Israeli soldiers (Photo: Rosie Gabrielle)
It said that those people in Germany who felt friendly toward Israel had been “disappointed” and urged it to restore its “credibility” by restating its promise to establish a future Palestinian state alongside Israel and to “underpin this with practical steps”.
It added that such a promise was also needed because members of the right-wing Israeli coalition had “openly called for the annexation of parts of the West Bank and are preparing bills to this end.”
The French foreign minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, and its ambassador to Israel, Helene Le Gal, also spoke out.
“I call on Israel to respect its international obligations and rescind the [settler outpost] law,” Ayrault said, adding that it “could exacerbate tensions in the region.”
Le Gal said: “The international community is wondering if they should trust Israel when Israel is saying that [it] is ready for discussion with … the Palestinians, and to reach an agreement on the two-state solution.”
She said the fact that Israel planned to financially compensate the Palestinian landowners did not make it any better.
“If there is an agreement, of course, that these settlement blocs are within Israel, then of course there is no problem. But there is no discussion. It’s only Israel who decides,” she said.
Israel on Tuesday passed a law to retroactively legalise 3,900 outposts.
Outposts, unlike settlements, are private initiatives by Jewish settler groups who pitch camp on Palestinian land protected by Israeli soldiers and claim it for their own on Biblical grounds.
In January, Israel also announced plans to build 6,000 new official settler homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank in a decision that also flouted international law and drew foreign rebukes.
A European diplomatic source told EUobserver that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been emboldened by the election of Donald Trump, a pro-Israeli hawk, in the US and that he was also using the settlement controversy to distract media attention from a corruption affair that could see him lose power.
The US has stayed silent on his actions.
New German attitude:
France is an outspoken critic of Israel and has even warned that it would unilaterally recognise Palestine if it lost faith in the peace process.
The strong statement by Germany, which has in the past shied away from criticising Israel due to Germany’s Holocaust-era crimes, was a new development, however.
The UK, which has been trying to curry favour with the Trump, and the Czech Republic, formerly a staunch Israeli ally, also attacked the outpost law.
The legalisation “damages Israel’s standing with its international partners”, Tobias Ellwood, British minister for the Middle East said.
The EU foreign service was the first to react, already on Tuesday, saying that the outpost law “entrenched … a one-state reality”.
EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini had planned to hold a summit with Netanyahu on 28 February, but EU foreign ministers, meeting in Brussels on Monday quietly decided to postpone the initiative due to the earlier announcement on the 6,000 settler homes.
Speaking to EUobserver in an interview over the weekend, Saeb Erekat, the secretary general of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, said the EU’s verbal rebukes had little meaning unless they were backed up by sanctions, such as banning exports of settler products.
“Lack of accountability, impunity, is what provides the Israeli government with enough confidence to move ahead with its plan to bury the prospects of the two-state solution,” he said. “The Netanyahu administration knows that no action will be taken,” he said.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 20th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Pence met with open skepticism in Brussels
By Kevin Liptak, CNN White House Producer
February 20, 2017
Mike Pence made a joint statement with European Council head Donald Tusk on Monday 2/20/17.
Tusk: “Too much has happened … to pretend everything is as it used to be”
Pence: US will “search in new ways for new common ground with Russia”
Brussels (CNN)Even as he worked to assure European leaders that the Trump administration isn’t looking to scrap longstanding transatlantic ties, Vice President Mike Pence was met with outward skepticism from the bloc’s top leaders on Monday.
Speaking after talks with European Council President Donald Tusk, Pence offered a conciliatory tone, insisting that bonds between the United States and Europe would endure.
Pence: US will hold Russia accountable
But Tusk himself was more blunt. Even while expressing an optimistic outlook, he acknowledged the bilateral ties had entered new, uncertain territory.
“Thank you for this meeting. We all truly needed it,” Tusk said after he walked on stage with Pence. “Too much has happened over the past months in your country, and in the EU; too many new and sometimes surprising opinions have been voiced over this time about our relations — and our common security — for us to pretend that everything is as it used to be.”
It was a pointed display of honesty for a formal joint statement in front of reporters. Tusk said he’d secured commitments from Pence on key areas — international order, security, and the US stance toward the EU — but was cautious in declaring the relationship on firm ground.
“In reply to these three matters, I heard today from Vice President Pence three times ‘yes,'” Tusk said. “After such a positive declaration, both Europeans and Americans must simply practice what they preach.”
Pence was more guarded in his remarks, repeating his commitment to NATO and vowing to counter Russian aggression. But, as he did earlier this week, Pence advised that Trump was looking for ways to refresh ties to Moscow.
“While the United States will continue to hold Russia accountable, at President Trump’s direction we will also search in new ways for new common ground with Russia, which President Trump believes can be found,” Pence said.
Pence is aiming to reassure European leaders of continued US commitment to the continent after Trump disparaged longstanding aspects of transatlantic ties during the presidential campaign.
He told Federica Mogherini, the European Union High Representative, that he was eager to identify areas for greater cooperation.
“I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to visit with you and explore ways that we can deepen our relationship with the European Union,” he said over breakfast at the residence of the US Ambassador to the EU, a post that’s currently unfilled.
Pence reassures NATO allies in Munich speech
Trump’s rumored choice for the job, Ted Malloch, has caused unease among the diplomatic classes in Brussels for his vocal support of Britain’s exit from the EU and his overall dismissal of the bloc. Malloch told the BBC recently he would work to rein in the EU if he was named to the ambassador post.
“I had in a previous career a diplomatic post where I helped bring down the Soviet Union. So maybe there’s another union that needs a little taming,” he said.
It’s sentiments like that which have worried Europeans, who regard Trump as an advocate for Brexit-like splits within their union. Trump, at one point during his run for president, termed himself “Mr. Brexit” — referencing both his support for the referendum and his conviction that polls showing him losing to Hillary Clinton would be proven wrong.
Vice President Pence visits former Nazi concentration camp
Pence, during closely watched remarks in Germany on Saturday, didn’t mention the EU at all, a fact that didn’t go unnoticed by the collection of national security professionals, foreign leaders, and diplomats who were attending the Munich Security Conference.
Instead, Pence chose during his remarks to project robust US support for NATO, despite Trump’s claims that the defense alliance is “obsolete.”
Pence was insistent that support for the alliance was a bedrock of US policy. But he demanded that other member nations scale up their defense spending to meet NATO’s requirements, a longstanding request of US presidents that Trump has amplified.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 14th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
RED HOUSE? Yes. It was the intelligence Putin served Trump – directly and indirectly – that was in big part responsible for his defeating Hillary Clinton. And yes, it was FBI’s help that eventually built that wall. Michael T. Flynn should never have been inside that wall except we really do not know what messages he passed from the Trump campaign as promises to Putin via his Ambassador in Washington. How will the Trump=Putin link impact on Europe? On European States – Trump relations? On the future of Ukraine? On the price of Oil? On the Midle East?
On the Planetary Globe? On Outer Space? On the Future of God? ?????
THE NEWS: Michael T. Flynn, the national security adviser, resigned on Monday night after it was revealed that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other top White House officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States.
On Monday, a former administration official said the Justice Department warned the White House last month that Mr. Flynn had not been fully forthright about his conversations with the ambassador. As a result, the Justice Department feared that Mr. Flynn could be vulnerable to blackmail by Moscow.
To us at SustainabiliTank this is just the tip of the iceberg – we already wrote that Trump himself is susceptible to Russian blackmail as by hacking into US cyberspace they did not have just the pittance of Hillary Clinton and John Podesta info, but the much juicier Trump business and taxation info. Those are real bombs in hiding! Blackmail in the making!
“I am tendering my resignation, honored to have served our nation and the American people in such a distinguished way,” Mr. Flynn wrote.
The White House said in the statement that it was replacing Mr. Flynn with retired Lt. Gen. Joseph K. Kellogg Jr. of the Army, a Vietnam War veteran, as acting national security adviser.
Mr. Flynn was an early and ardent supporter of Mr. Trump’s candidacy, and in his resignation he sought to praise the president. “In just three weeks,” Mr. Flynn said, the new president “has reoriented American foreign policy in fundamental ways to restore America’s leadership position in the world.”
But in doing so, he inadvertently illustrated the brevity of his tumultuous run at the National Security Council, and the chaos that has gripped the White House in the first weeks of the Trump administration — and created a sense of uncertainty around the world.
Michael Flynn’s Resignation Letter
Michael T. Flynn, under scrutiny for his communication with Russia, resigned as President Trump’s national security adviser late Monday.
Earlier Monday, Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, told reporters that “the president is evaluating the situation” about Mr. Flynn’s future. By Monday evening, Mr. Flynn’s fortunes were rapidly shifting — his resignation came roughly seven hours after Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to the president, said on MSNBC that Mr. Trump had “full confidence” in the retired general.
And when he did step down, it happened so quickly that his resignation does not appear to have been communicated to National Security Council staff members, two of whom said they learned about it from news reports.
Officials said Mr. Pence had told others in the White House that he believed Mr. Flynn lied to him by saying he had not discussed the topic of sanctions on a call with the Russian ambassador in late December. Even the mere discussion of policy — and the apparent attempt to assuage the concerns of an American adversary before Mr. Trump took office — represented a remarkable breach of protocol.
The F.B.I. had been examining Mr. Flynn’s phone calls as he came under growing questions about his interactions with Russian officials and his management of the National Security Council. The blackmail risk envisioned by the Justice Department would have stemmed directly from Mr. Flynn’s attempt to cover his tracks with his bosses. The Russians knew what had been said on the call; thus, if they wanted Mr. Flynn to do something, they could have threatened to expose the lie if he refused.
The Justice Department’s warning to the White House was first reported on Monday night by The Washington Post.
In addition, the Army has been investigating whether Mr. Flynn received money from the Russian government during a trip he took to Moscow in 2015, according to two defense officials. Such a payment might violate the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits former military officers from receiving money from a foreign government without consent from Congress. The defense officials said there was no record that Mr. Flynn, a retired three-star Army general, filed the required paperwork for the trip.
Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement late Monday that Mr. Flynn’s resignation would not close the question of his contact with Russian officials.
“General Flynn’s decision to step down as national security adviser was all but ordained the day he misled the country about his secret talks with the Russian ambassador,” said Mr. Schiff, noting that the matter is still under investigation by the House committee.
Two other Democratic lawmakers — Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan and Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland — called for an immediate briefing by the Justice Department and the F.B.I. over the “alarming new disclosures” that Mr. Flynn was a blackmail risk. “We need to know who else within the White House is a current and ongoing risk to our national security,” they said in a statement.
Representative Devin Nunes, Republican of California and the chairman of the House intelligence committee, was supportive of Mr. Flynn until the end. “Washington, D.C., can be a rough town for honorable people, and Flynn — who has always been a soldier, not a politician — deserves America’s gratitude and respect,” Mr. Nunes said in a statement.
The White House had examined a transcript of a wiretapped conversation that Mr. Flynn had with Mr. Kislyak in December, according to administration officials. Mr. Flynn originally told Mr. Pence and others that the call was limited to small talk and holiday pleasantries.
But who was Flynn to talk to the Russian Ambassador? What role did have within the Trump machine? Did Pence send him there or was it his own eagerness to please the incoming Administration before it actually became an Administration? Was he an old time Russian contact? What we used to call a double spy? This clearly can not be washed down by eager-to-please Republicans.
But the conversation, according to officials who saw the transcript of the wiretap, also included a discussion about sanctions imposed on Russia after intelligence agencies determined that President Vladimir V. Putin’s government tried to interfere with the 2016 election on Mr. Trump’s behalf. Still, current and former administration officials familiar with the call said the transcript was ambiguous enough that Mr. Trump could have justified either firing or retaining Mr. Flynn.
Mr. Trump, however, had become increasingly concerned about the continued fallout over Mr. Flynn’s behavior, according to people familiar with his thinking, and told aides that the media storm around Mr. Flynn would damage the president’s image on national security issues.
Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, asked for Mr. Flynn’s resignation — a move that he has been pushing for since Friday, when it became clear that the national security adviser had misled Mr. Pence.
Around 8:20 p.m. Monday, a sullen Mr. Flynn was seen in the Oval Office, just as preparations were being made for the swearing-in of newly confirmed Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. Soon after, Mr. Flynn’s resignation letter started making the rounds.
Administration officials said it was unlikely that Mr. Kellogg would be asked to stay on as Mr. Flynn’s permanent replacement. Mr. Flynn brought Mr. Kellogg into the Trump campaign, according to a former campaign adviser, and the two have remained close. K. T. McFarland, the deputy national security adviser who also was brought on by Mr. Flynn, is expected to leave that role, a senior official said.
One person close to the administration, who was not authorized to discuss the personnel moves and spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that retired Vice Admiral Robert S. Harward is the leading candidate to replace Mr. Flynn, although Mr. Kellogg and David H. Petraeus are being discussed. It was not clear whether Mr. Petraeus is still expected to appear at the White House this week, as initially discussed by advisers to the president.
Mr. Flynn’s concealment of the call’s content, combined with questions about his management of his agency and reports of a demoralized staff, put him in a precarious position less than a month into Mr. Trump’s presidency.
We at SustainabiliTank believe that under the circumstances – the choice of General Petraeus would be an excellent idea in the manner of Trump – this because it would take away the media attention from Trump and transfer it to Petraeus’ own problems with that woman. Flynn will then be forgotten and left to his past-driven future behaviour.
Vice President Pence can continue his clean right wing persona to allow him a smooth take-over when the Trump balloon eventually implodes.
Few members of Mr. Trump’s team were more skeptical of Mr. Flynn than the vice president, numerous administration officials said. Mr. Pence, who used the false information provided by Mr. Flynn to defend him in a series of television appearances, was incensed at Mr. Flynn’s lack of contrition for repeatedly embarrassing him by withholding the information, according to three administration officials familiar with the situation.
Mr. Flynn and Mr. Pence spoke twice in the past few days about the matter, but administration officials said that rather than fully apologize and accept responsibility, the national security adviser blamed his faulty memory — which irked the typically slow-to-anger Mr. Pence.
The slight was compounded by an episode late last year when Mr. Pence went on television to deny that Mr. Flynn’s son, who had posted conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton on social media, had been given a security clearance by the transition team. The younger Mr. Flynn had, indeed, been given such a clearance, even though his father had told Mr. Pence’s team that he had not.
Officials said classified information did not appear to have been discussed during the conversation between Mr. Flynn and the ambassador, which would have been a crime. The call was captured on a routine wiretap of diplomats’ calls, the officials said.
But current Trump administration officials and former Obama administration officials said that Mr. Flynn did appear to be reassuring the ambassador that Mr. Trump would adopt a more accommodating tone on Russia once in office.
Former and current administration officials said that Mr. Flynn urged Russia not to retaliate against any sanctions because an overreaction would make any future cooperation more complicated. He never explicitly promised sanctions relief, one former official said, but he appeared to leave the impression that it would be possible.
During his 2015 trip to Moscow, Mr. Flynn was paid to attend the anniversary celebration of Russia Today, a television network controlled by the Kremlin. At the banquet, he sat next to Mr. Putin.
Mr. Flynn had notified the Defense Intelligence Agency, which he once led, that he was taking the trip. He received a security briefing from agency officials before he left, which is customary for former top agency officials when they travel overseas.
Still, some senior agency officials were surprised when footage of the banquet appeared on RT, and believed that Mr. Flynn should have been more forthcoming with the agency about the nature of his trip to Russia.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 8th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
PM Netanyahu Instructs the Foreign Ministry to Reprimand the Belgian Ambassador to Israel
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser – February 8, 2017)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this evening (Wednesday, 8 February 2017), instructed the Foreign Ministry to reprimand Belgian Ambassador to Israel Olivier Belle.
Israel views with utmost gravity Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel’s meeting today with the leaders of Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem, during his visit to Israel. Initiatives are underway by the Belgian state prosecutor to try senior Israelis including Tzipi Livni and IDF officers.
The Belgian government needs to decide whether it wants to change direction or continue with an anti-Israel line.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has directed that legislation be advanced to prevent financing by foreign governments for NGOs that harm IDF soldiers.
And from Ted Belman’s blog that is a US Republican plant in Jerusalem – to our big surprise a criticism of the heralded Trump – right out of the pages of HAARETZ:
Republicans Won’t Defy Trump on His Holocaust Statement – and Israel Should Pay Attention
T. Belman. The harshness with which the Trump administration reject criticism is unfathomable. Why is Trump doing this? Friends don’t do this to friends.
The way a resolution to restate Jewish focus of Holocaust was shot down sends unmistakable signal when it comes to new rules of power in D.C, Jewish community and, by extension, Israel.
By Allison Kaplan Sommer, HAARETZ
and then the Netanyahu dream:
The Ultimate Alternate Israel-Palestine Solution
With a new U.S. president, new ideas are emerging on how to resolve the Israel-Palestine debacle. One of the most promising comes from the Jordanian Opposition Council who favor a new Palestinian state — in Jordan.
By Ted Belman
find above at: www.israpundit.org/archives/63621…
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 8th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
May defeats plan to give MPs Brexit veto.
By BEN FOX, EUObserver
LONDON, February 8, 2017
UK MPs will get a “take it or leave it vote” at the end of Article 50 talks with the EU, but Theresa May’s government defeated an attempt by opposition MPs to ensure that parliament gets an effective veto over Brexit.
Under the deal offered by the May government on Tuesday (7 February), MPs will get a vote on any deal struck with EU negotiators during the Article 50 process, to take place before any Brexit agreement was voted on by the European Parliament.
This initially seemed like a significant concession when it was announced by Brexit minister David Jones at the start of four hours of the second day of debate on the Article 50 bill, but it isn’t.
If parliament rejects the deal, the UK will leave the EU anyway and would fall back to trading with the bloc on the basis of World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.
“This will be a meaningful vote,” Jones told MPs, adding that it would “be the choice of leaving the EU with a negotiated deal or not”.
“The vote they’re offering – which will give MPs a choice between an extreme Brexit and falling off a cliff edge into WTO trade rules – isn’t a concession, it’s an ultimatum,” said Caroline Lucas MP, co-leader of the Green Party.
“MPs must not be duped by the government’s attempt to quell unrest on their back-benches.”
MPs also voted by a majority of 33 against an amendment proposed by Labour MP Chris Leslie that would have stopped ministers striking a Brexit agreement until it had been passed by MPs and peers.
Seven Conservative MPs voted with Labour. The amendment was seen as a means of keeping alive the slim prospect of the UK remaining in the EU.
A Labour proposal which would have forced the government to publish impact assessments of the different potential trading models with the EU, indicating the likely economic effects of leaving the single market or customs union, was also defeated.
The government faces a potentially close vote on an amendment calling for the rights of EU nationals living in the UK to be guaranteed, but it is highly probable that the bill will be passed without any of the 287 amendments to it being adopted when MPs take a final vote on Wednesday (8 February).
As it stands, the only risk – albeit slim – to May’s plans would be a delay in the House of Lords, where the Conservatives number only 253 out of 805 peers.
The Lords is not elected and it is extremely unlikely that peers will risk a constitutional crisis by opposing the Brexit bill.
In the more likely event that the Lords proposes amendments, these would then, in turn, be subject to the approval of MPs.
The bill is timetabled to be signed into law on 13 March, giving May time to keep to her self-imposed deadline of formally triggering Article 50 before the end of March.
Separately, the Scottish parliament backed a symbolic motion rejecting the decision to trigger Article 50 on Tuesday with the support of the Scottish National Party, Greens, Liberal Democrats and most Labour MSPs.
The devolved assemblies have no power to prevent or delay the Brexit process, although Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned that the UK exiting the EU, despite a large majority for “Remain” in Scotland, could lead to her government demanding a second referendum on independence from the UK.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 7th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
HOW ABOUT DISALLOWING INVESTMENTS BY ANYONE, OR ANY ENTITY, CONNECTED DIRECTLY TO ANY MEMBER OF THE PRESENT US ADMINISTRATION? CONSIDERING THE WHITE HOUSE BEHAVIOR, PEOPLE OF THE US ADMINISTRATION HAVE MORE AND MORE BECOME A DANGER TO THE WORLD ORDER AND TO PEACE – UNDERMINING IN EFFECT WHAT USED TO BE FRIENDLY GOVERNMENTS. Mr. BONDEVIK COULD LEAD THE WAY.
CNN – International Edition+
Former Norwegian PM held at immigration over Iranian visa
By Kara Fox and Mohammed Al-Saiegh, CNN
February 7, 2017
Former Norwegian PM detained at US airport
(CNN) If you’re the former leader of a European nation, the president of a major human rights organization and the owner of a diplomatic passport, you’re not likely to encounter a long wait at airport immigration.
But on January 31, Kjell Magne Bondevik, the former Prime Minister of Norway, encountered more than just a lengthy queue.
Bondevik told CNN’s “Connect the World” he was interrogated by officials at Washington’s Dulles International Airport because he had an Iranian visa in his diplomatic passport.
“When they found the Iranian visa, where I was in December 2014, they said that there was a … regulation that with such a visa I had to be flagged up,” Bondevik said.
After the former European leader detailed his travel history — he was in Tehran speaking at an anti-extremism conference — Bondevik said he “assumed and presumed that they would let me go immediately.” But instead, Bondevik said he was questioned for over an hour.
“Did they really believe that I presented a problem or threat to the US? I expected they would show more flexibility and wisdom,” he said.
Bondevik said he was held along with migrants from the Middle East and Africa who were also facing additional screening. Although Bondevik was eventually released, he said the atmosphere surrounding President Donald Trump’s travel ban had shaken his core values.
Bondevik told CNN’s Becky Anderson he disagrees with the ban entirely, calling it “a contradiction” to his “view on human dignity.”
“I really dislike that he is treating people from some Muslim countries as a group and not individuals,” he said.
Bondevik, who heads the human rights organization Oslo Center, said the incident speaks to a wider issue of concern brought on by the President’s first actions in office.
It’s not just the ban that’s worrying Bondevik.
“I also must say that I dislike very much his approach to other international leaders — the Prime Minister of Australia, the President of Mexico … and how he is acting in the international community.”
He said many others, including Norway were concerned.
Last week, Trump signed an executive order that banned citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, from traveling to America. The ban also suspended the refugee program for four months, and stopped the admission of all Syrian refugees indefinitely.
These are the faces of Trump’s ban
On Friday, the executive order was temporarily halted after a federal judge suspended key parts of the order nationwide. As of Monday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had denied the US government’s emergency request to resume the ban and had ordered both sides to submit their arguments for or against it before a final ruling.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 2nd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Humanitarian Congress Vienna 2017 – Forced to Flee – Humanity on the Run
The 4th Humanitarian Congress – Forced to Flee – Humanity on the Run – takes place on
3 March 2017 in the ceremonial halls of the University of Vienna.
Please note that registration is open until 28 February 2017.
The Humanitarian Congress gives you the chance to benefit from the unique insights of the experts as for example Mr. Volker Türk, Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, UNHCR or Kate Gilmore, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations discussing the following themes:
(Failed) Policy making with Global Consequences
Why are People Forced to Flee?
Refugee Health – Time for Change
The Erosion of International Law – Who Cares?
Civil Society and Refugees: Lessons Learned
Leaving No One Behind – A Mission Impossible?
For more information please visit www.humanitariancongress.at and the attached Newsletter.
We look forward to welcoming you on 3 March 2017.
With kind regards,
Mag.a Annelies Vilim
GLOBALE VERANTWORTUNG –
Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Entwicklung und Humanitäre Hilfe
Apollogasse 4/9, 1070 Wien
Tel.: (+43 1) 522 44 22
office at globaleverantwortung.at
www.humanitaerer-kongress.at / info at humanitaerer-kongress.at
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 1st, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Oil production releases more methane than previously thought.
Emissions of methane and ethane from oil production have been substantially higher than previously estimated, particularly before 2005.
Laxenburg, Austria, 1 February 2017: Global methane and ethane emissions from oil production from 1980 to 2012 were far higher than previous estimates show, according to a new study which for the first time takes into account different production management systems and geological conditions around the world.
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, which scientists rank as the second-most important contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide. Yet while methane concentrations in the atmosphere can be easily measured, it is difficult to determine the contribution of different sources, whether human or natural. This is necessary information for reducing emissions.
“In an oil reservoir, there is a layer of gas above the oil which has a methane content of 50 to 85 percent. When you pump the oil to the surface this associated gas will also escape,” explains IIASA researcher Lena Höglund-Isaksson, who led the study. In oil production facilities in North America, almost all of this gas is recovered and what is not recovered will for the most part be flared to prevent leakage (and potential explosions), while a very small fraction is simply vented. In other parts of the world, where recovery rates are lower, much larger quantities of this gas are released into the atmosphere.
“Existing global bottom-up emission inventories of methane used rather simplistic approaches for estimating methane from oil production, merely taking the few direct measurements that exist from North American oil fields and scaling them with oil production worldwide,” says Höglund-Isaksson. This approach left a large room for error, so Höglund Isaksson decided to develop a new method that could better account for the many variations in oil production around the world.
In the new paper, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, Höglund-Isaksson estimated global methane emissions from oil and gas systems in over 100 countries over a 32-year period, using a variety of country-specific data ranging from reported volumes of associated gas to satellite imagery that can show flaring, as well as atmospheric measurements of ethane, a gas which is released along with methane and easier to link more directly to oil and gas activities.
She found that in particular in the 1980s, global methane emissions were as much as double previous estimates. The study also found that the Russian oil industry contributes a large amount to global methane emissions. A decline in the Russian oil industry in the 1990s contributed to a global decline in methane emissions which continued until the early 2000’s. At the same time, Höglund-Isaksson found, methane recovery systems were becoming more common and helping to reduce emissions. Yet since 2005, emissions from oil and gas systems have remained fairly constant, which Höglund-Isaksson says is likely linked to increasing shale gas production which largely offsets emission reductions from increased gas recovery.
Höglund-Isaksson points out that her estimates are only as good as the data allow and that there is still uncertainty in the numbers. She says, “To improve the data, a close collaboration between the scientific measurement community and the oil and gas industry would be needed to make more direct measurements available from different parts of the world.”
Höglund-Isaksson L, (2017). Bottom-up simulations of methane and ethane emissions from global oil and gas systems 1980 to 2012. Environmental Research Letters, doi:10.1088/1748-9326/aa583e.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 30th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Bill to Legalize West Bank Settlements Advances in Israel
By ISABEL KERSHNER NOVember 13, 2016 revived January 30, 2017
JERUSALEM — An Israeli ministerial committee on Sunday approved a contentious bill that would allow for the retroactive legalization of Jewish settlement outposts built on privately owned Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank. The measure breaks a longstanding taboo, and in the view of many experts, it defies international law.
The bill requires approval by Parliament before becoming law. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposed its advancement now, presumably to avoid international censure. The attorney general has cautioned that he will be hard pressed to defend the legislation in Israel’s Supreme Court.
Israel’s pro-settlement camp has promoted the legislation, known as the Regulation Law, with increasing urgency as a Dec. 25 deadline approaches for the court-ordered destruction of Amona, an illegal outpost of 40 families on a West Bank hilltop claimed by dozens of Palestinian landowners and their heirs.
Treading a fine line between world opinion, his conservative Likud Party and his governing coalition, Mr. Netanyahu tried to delay the vote. He said it would harm the chances of a government request pending before the Supreme Court to postpone the demolition of Amona by half a year.
“There is no one who is more concerned about settlement than us,” Mr. Netanyahu said Sunday, in a nod to his pro-settlement constituency. But, he added, “sagacity and responsibility” are needed for the benefit of the settlement project as a whole.
Husam Zomlot, an adviser to Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, said that while all settlement was illegal, Sunday’s decision served to “reaffirm the Israeli government insistence on burying the prospects for peace.”
Israel’s expansion of settlements has outraged Palestinians and been a source of acute tension with the Obama administration, which views all settlement activity as illegitimate and an obstacle to peace. Most of the world considers the settlements in territory that Israel conquered from Jordan in the 1967 war to be a violation of international law.
President Obama is considering whether to publicly lay out his own parameters for a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before he leaves office, in a speech or in a resolution before the United Nations Security Council, a prospect Mr. Netanyahu has strongly opposed.
Instead of evicting the settlers, the Regulation Law would transfer the rights for the use of private land into Israeli hands and force the Palestinian landowners to accept compensation. While Israel’s highest legal authorities allow settlements in areas declared public land, private property rights have technically been preserved.
Naftali Bennett, a minister whose Jewish Home party promoted the bill, said Sunday’s action signified that Israel had embarked on “a historic process of normalizing the settlements in Judea and Samaria,” referring to the West Bank by its biblical name.
Critics said it represented a creeping annexation of the West Bank, with Parliament potentially imposing Israeli law in an area that the military authorities have overseen for nearly 50 years.
Tamar Zandberg, a legislator from the left-wing Meretz party, said the proposed law “says you are allowed to steal.”
Although the crisis over Amona preceded the American presidential election, Israel’s right wing has been emboldened by the victory of Donald J. Trump, with the settlements’ supporters believing that his administration will give them a freer hand.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 14th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Trump team asked which EU state is next to exit
By NIKOLAJ NIELSEN
EUOBSERVER, BRUSSELS, 13. JAN, 17:40
Donald Trump’s transitional team phoned officials at the EU institutions asking which member state will follow the UK in leaving the EU.
“There was one question that was asked, basically, what is the next country to leave, which kind of suggests that the place is about to fall apart,” Anthony L. Gardner, the outgoing US ambassador to the EU, told reporters in Brussels on Friday (13 January).
In a candid last farewell interview with reporters ahead of his departure on 20 January, the diplomat described the Trump call as a “misperception” of the Union’s future, disseminated by former Ukip leader Nigel Farage.
Farage, a British MEP who has long campaigned for the demise of the European Union, has had privileged access to the US president-elect.
He now wants to meet with Gardner but the outgoing ambassador, a self-described defender of the EU, remains ambivalent.
“I got a letter from Nigel Farage, which is rather interesting. He knows I’m leaving and he knows my views are the absolute polar opposite of everything he has said.”
Gardner said Farage had referred to him in the letter as “your excellency” a half dozen times.
“I take huge exceptions to some things he’s done and I will tell him,” said Gardner.
The American ambassador said he would soon be “unshackled” from the “bureaucratic restrictions of the job” and aims to speak out in defence of the US and EU relations.
The two men have never met.
But the mood at the US embassy appears wary ahead of Gardner’s future replacement. Speculation is rife on who will take on the job.
Staff working at the mission, non-career diplomats, have all been unceremoniously told to vacate the premises by 20 January.
Gardner described the Trump demand as a “breach of precedent” because missions are usually allowed to take weeks or even months to clear out. He was given notice on 23 December.
Some have struggled to find new housing after receiving notice of their imminent departure via a telegram.
“I didn’t particularly want to stay any more than necessary because my views are not the views of those coming in. But for some, it has had a real human impact,” he said.
He also warned against his future replacement of becoming the “cheerleader” for Brexit and noted that access to Europe’s single market was strategically vital to both US and EU business interests.
He said any move by Trump or his team to support the break up of the Union would be “shear folly”.
“It’s lunacy and I would think it would be a widely shared view.”
He also advised Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel to warn the incoming US embassy replacement team in Brussels against “splitting the EU, one member state to another.”
He said Germany, along with the EU institutions, are now shouldering the “weight of history” to defend democracy, human rights, and “values that guided a transatlantic partnership for decades.”
In terms of policy work, Gardner said his biggest regret was not being able to finalise the TTIP, the US and EU free trade agreement.
But he noted significant improvements have been made on policies dealing with data and that trust, broadly lost following the US snooping revelations of Europeans, has improved between the two sides.
“It’s been great, it’s been great. Best job,” he said.
The Austrian DIE PRESSE reports today from a speech by Chancellor Merkel where she called for a closer Defense and Security cooperation between the EU States. This because the transatlantic alliance has NO “ETERNITY-WARRANTY” (“keine Ewigkeitsgarantie”).
Mrs. Merkel called also on the EU States to take on more “international responsibility”
which we interpret as a flat statement that the US leadership can not be taken for granted
under a Trump presidency. This is something that seems crystal clear when listening to the incoming president and that unprofessional entourage he has.