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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 4th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

2 August 2017
A tiny Greek island to become the first energy independent island in the Mediterranean

? Europe, Finance, Smart Cities, Sustainable Energy, Sustainable Innovation Forum, Sustainable Investment Forum

Tilos, a small island in the Cyclades complex in the Aegean Sea, is on set to become the first energy independent island in the Mediterranean by solely relying in renewables.

The initiative under the name TILOS comes by a collaboration of the University of Anglia (UEA) and the University of Applied Sciences in Piraeus, engaging 15 participating enterprises and institutes from seven European countries.

The project’s main goal is to demonstrate the potential of off-grid hybrid mini grids comprised of solar and wind power.

TILOS was launched in February 2015 receiving funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme and is planned to last four years, with its total budget reaching €15m.

So far, TILOS has received €11m from Horizon 2020, €3m from the industry and €1m from private investment.

Konstantinos Chalvatzis, Senior Lecturer in Business and Climate Change at UEA’s Norwich Business School said: “The island’s population is only around 200 in the winter but rises to more than 1,500 in the summer when the tourists arrive”.

He added: “Energy supply is a major issue, with frequent black-outs and power surges. But while its remote location makes traditional ways of providing power so challenging, it also makes Tilos ideal for our pioneering work”.

The project executives underlie the importance of the project in the context of the non-interconnected islands’ electricity regime, which mostly constitutes of expensive and often unreliable oil-fired isolated diesel generators.

Dr. Chalvatzis said: “Most Greek and other Mediterranean islands also depend on unreliable, oil-based electricity, so our goal is to roll the model out to them, as well as to small islands across Europe and beyond”.

The proposed energy solution will comprise 700kW of wind power, 500kW of solar power combined with high? temperature NaNiCl battery storage, residential hot water storage and demand-side management (DSM), all coordinated under a sophisticated energy management system.

Dr Chalvatzis commented: “The uniqueness is not in the way we generate the electricity but in the way we’ve developed the technology to make it cost-effective, reliable and completely green” adding: “For example, normal batteries will last around five years and are filled with non-recyclable chemicals, but ours have a much lengthier lifespan and are completely recyclable”.

Two years into its four-year schedule, TILOS has already received two EU Sustainable Energy Awards, namely the Energy Island Award and the Citizen’s Award- the latter underlying the importance of the public acceptance of renewable energy projects.

Dr Chalvatzis stated: “Tilos is ahead of its time – the islanders welcome new ideas and were open to our initiative”.

“As a result, we now have a blueprint for generating sustainable energy in a profitable and scalable way, so the benefits can be felt across the world, whether that’s other islands, faraway communities or even by providing clean and efficient energy for refugee camps or remote hospitals. This technology could truly change people’s lives”.

RELATED ARTICLES:
— World’s first island micro-grid created in Australia
— First US offshore wind farm powers island
–Rising sea levels force Pacific islanders to evacuate

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 10th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

CLIMATE – THE NEW YORK TIMES


• “The cost of electric cars is falling much faster than expected, based in part on a plunge in battery prices and aggressive policies in China and Europe.”


When Will Electric Cars Go Mainstream? It May Be Sooner Than You Think.

By BRAD PLUMER, JULY 8, 2017

The Photo: A Volkswagen e-Golf electric car being charged in Dresden, Germany, in March.

Volkswagen and Tesla each have plans to produce more than 1 million electric vehicles per year by 2025. Credit Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters


As the world’s automakers place larger bets on electric vehicle technology, many industry analysts are debating a key question: How quickly can plug-in cars become mainstream?

The conventional view holds that electric cars will remain a niche product for many years, plagued by high sticker prices and heavily dependent on government subsidies.

But a growing number of analysts now argue that this pessimism is becoming outdated. A new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a research group, suggests that the price of plug-in cars is falling much faster than expected, spurred by cheaper batteries and aggressive policies promoting zero-emission vehicles in China and Europe.

Between 2025 and 2030, the group predicts, plug-in vehicles will become cost competitive with traditional petroleum-powered cars, even without subsidies and even before taking fuel savings into account. Once that happens, mass adoption should quickly follow.

“Our forecast doesn’t hinge on countries adopting stringent new fuel standards or climate policies,” said Colin McKerracher, the head of advanced transport analysis at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “It’s an economic analysis, looking at what happens when the upfront cost of electric vehicles reaches parity. That’s when the real shift occurs.”

If that prediction pans out, it will have enormous consequences for the auto industry, oil markets and the world’s efforts to slow global warming.

A Boost From Batteries

Last year, plug-in vehicles made up less than 1 percent of new passenger vehicle sales worldwide, held back by high upfront costs. The Chevrolet Bolt, produced by General Motors, sells for about $37,500 before federal tax breaks. With gasoline prices hovering around $2 per gallon, relatively few consumers seem interested.

But there are signs of a shift. Tesla and Volkswagen each have plans to produce more than a million electric vehicles per year by 2025. On Wednesday, Volvo announced that it would phase out the traditional combustion engine and that all of its new models starting in 2019 would be either hybrids or entirely battery-powered.

Skeptics argue that these moves are mostly marginal. Exxon Mobil, which is studying the threat that electric cars could pose to its business model, still expects that plug-in vehicle sales will grow slowly, to just 10 percent of new sales in the United States by 2040, with little impact on global oil use. The federal Energy Information Administration projects a similarly sluggish uptick.

The Bloomberg forecast is far more aggressive, projecting that plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles will make up 54 percent of new light-duty sales globally by 2040, outselling their combustion engine counterparts.

The reason? Batteries. Since 2010, the average cost of lithium-ion battery packs has plunged by two-thirds, to around $300 per kilowatt-hour. The Bloomberg report sees that falling to $73 by 2030, without any significant technological breakthroughs, as companies like Tesla increase battery production in massive factories, optimize the design of battery packs and improve chemistries.

For the next decade, the report notes, electric cars will remain reliant on government incentives and sales mandates in places like Europe, China and California. But as automakers introduce a greater variety of models and lower costs, electric cars will reach a point where they can stand on their own.

Still, this outcome is hardly guaranteed. Governments could scale back their incentives before plug-in vehicles become fully competitive — many states are already beginning to tax electric cars. Battery manufacturers could face material shortages or production problems that hinder their ability to slash costs. And an unforeseen technology failure, such as widespread battery fires, could halt progress.

“But we tried to be fairly conservative in our estimate of where battery prices are going,” Mr. McKerracher said, “and we don’t see barriers to electric vehicles’ becoming cost competitive very soon.”

Other experts caution that falling battery costs are not the only factor in determining whether electric cars become widespread. Sam Ori, the executive director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, noted, “People don’t buy cars based solely on the price tag.”

Consumers may remain wary of vehicles with limited range that can take hours to charge. Even though researchers have shown that battery-electric vehicles have sufficient range for many people’s daily commuting habits, consumer psychology is still difficult to predict. The report does not, for instance, expect electric vehicles to catch on widely in the pickup-truck market.

Charging infrastructure is another potential barrier. Although cities are starting to build thousands of public charging stations — and Tesla is working on reducing the time it takes to power a depleted battery — it still takes longer to charge an electric vehicle than it does to refuel a conventional car at the pump.

Many owners charge their cars overnight in their garages, but that is much harder for people living in cities who park their cars on the street.

As a result, the Bloomberg report warns that plug-in vehicles may have a difficult time making inroads in dense urban areas and that infrastructure bottlenecks may slow the growth of electric vehicles after 2040.

Another potential hurdle may be the automakers themselves. While most manufacturers are introducing plug-in models in the United States to comply with stricter fuel-economy standards, they do not always market them aggressively, said Chelsea Sexton, an auto industry consultant who worked on General Motors’ electric vehicle program in the 1990s.

Car dealerships also remain reluctant to display and sell electric models, which often require less maintenance and are less profitable for their service departments. Surveys have found that salespeople are often unprepared to pitch the cars.

“We’ve seen a lot of announcements about electric vehicles, but that doesn’t matter much if automakers are just building these cars for compliance and are unenthusiastic about actually marketing them,” Ms. Sexton said.

Raw economics may help overcome such barriers, Mr. McKerracher said. He pointed to Norway, where heavy taxes on petroleum-powered vehicles and generous subsidies for electric vehicles have created price parity between the two. As a result, plug-in hybrids and fully electric cars in Norway now make up 37 percent of all new sales, up from 6 percent in 2013.

Fighting Climate Change

If Bloomberg’s forecast proves correct, it could have sweeping implications for oil markets. The report projects that a sharp rise in electric vehicles would displace eight million barrels of transportation fuel each day. (The world currently consumes around 98 million barrels per day.)

A number of oil companies are now grappling with the prospect of an eventual peak in global demand, with billions of dollars in investments at stake in getting the timing right.

Mass adoption of electric cars could also prove a key strategy in fighting climate change — provided the vehicles are increasingly powered by low-carbon electricity rather than coal. The International Energy Agency has estimated that electric vehicles would have to account for at least 40 percent of passenger vehicle sales by 2040 for the world to have a chance of meeting the climate goals outlined in the Paris agreement, keeping total global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

Yet the Bloomberg report also shows how much further countries would need to go to cut transportation emissions.

Even with a sharp rise in electric vehicles, the world would still have more traditional petroleum-powered passenger vehicles on the road in 2040 than it does today, and it will take many years to retire existing fleets. And other modes of transportation, like heavy-duty trucking and aviation, will remain stubbornly difficult to electrify without drastic advances in battery technology.

Which means it is still too soon to write an obituary for the internal combustion engine.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 9th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel once again singled out the United States for criticism Saturday for walking away from the Paris climate agreement, saying that she “deplores” the decision and that she does not believe the Trump administration is open to returning to the deal to reduce international carbon emissions, as President Trump has said.

The United States was alone at the G-20 summit in dissenting from the group’s climate resolution. Leaders from the 19 other countries around the table in Hamburg agreed that the Paris climate agreement is “irreversible” and will take steps to implement the accords “as soon as possible,” said Merkel.

The issue highlighted the cold reception that President Trump’s vision of American self-interest, denial of climate science and threats to throw up trade barriers received at the conference of 20 of the world’s wealthiest countries.

As she has before, Merkel called on European countries to step into the vacuum that Trump is leaving on the world stage. “We as Europeans have to take our fate into our own hands,” she said.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 9th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

This is just an impression from watching how the Energy industry does not come up with investment money for drilling for oil, even though there is an oil-friendly President in the White House.

Following the announcement by Elon Musk that Electric Tesla-3 vehicles will start running,
he also announced the building in Australia of a large solar electricity storage facility
to be duplicated for independent cities transportation. This is a decentralized system.

A different approach took Warren Buffett who is investing $29 Billion in buying a Texas
electricity distributor for his solar energy. This system allows for the incorporation of Nuclear Electricity, if available, as he considers this source also as benefitting reduced
CO2 Emissions. This is then a centralized electricity network.

In both these cases – obviously, well experienced business people show their readiness
to take risk in the future world as driven by the Paris Accord – reinforced by the now
G-19 – in disregard of the US President’s departure from global consensus.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 8th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Elon Musk: Model 3 passed all regulatory requirements for production two weeks ahead of schedule. Expecting to complete SN1 on Friday – 1:48 AM – 3 Jul 2017

Tesla’s Model 3, its mass-market car, expected to roll off factory floor Friday July 7, 2017.

The $35,000 electric car passed regulatory requirements two weeks ahead of schedule, and the first 30 owners will receive their cars at the end of the month, chief executive Elon Musk said.

Everything you need to know about Tesla Model 3, which is starting production today.

We’re gonna rock down to Electric Avenue, and the stakes couldn’t be any higher.

by Andrew J. Hawkins@andyjayhawk Jul 7, 2017,

Today’s the day for Tesla. The automaker says it expects to complete production of “SN1” (or “Serial Number one”) of the Model 3, its first electric car for the masses. But the Model 3 isn’t just any car. Everything for the success of Tesla as a viable car company has been building up to this point. The Model 3 will define the future of the company — and the stakes for Tesla and CEO Elon Musk couldn’t possibly be higher.

Earlier this week, Musk tweeted that Friday was the day the first Model 3 would be rolling off the assembly line. In subsequent tweets, he added that the first 30 Model 3 customers will receive their new Teslas on July 28th at a handover party hosted by the automaker.

“I think I can say, without irony of mawkishness, that this is the most important electric car ever produced,” said Michael Ramsey, research director at Gartner. “That’s because if it meets expectations of hundreds of thousands of sales, it changes the global landscape for electric cars. And if it fails, it relegates the move toward electrification to the trudging march that it has been so far.”

“I THINK I CAN SAY, WITHOUT IRONY OF MAWKISHNESS, THAT THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTRIC CAR EVER PRODUCED.”
Skepticism about Tesla’s ability to meet the enormous demands of mass production is extremely high. Practically no one believes Musk will be able to meet the benchmarks he has set for the Model 3. Tesla’s share price has been savaged over the last week, losing nearly 20 percent of its value, while Wall Street analysts predict that demand for Tesla’s two other current vehicles, the Model S and Model X, has already peaked. Other experts say that Musk will need to reduce costs by as much as 60 percent if it wants the Model 3 to be profitable.

And then there’s the fact that most auto startups throughout the 20th century eventually failed and fell into obscurity. Tesla, a 15-year-old company, could be poised to challenge those odds. The manufacturing and quality challenges of starting a brand-new automotive company are titanic.

“The Model 3 is critical for Tesla’s long-term viability,” said Karl Brauer, executive publisher at Kelley Blue Book. “The company had been around for almost 15 years yet has never turned a profit. The Model 3 will be Tesla’s first attempt at a high-volume car meant for mainstream consumers. If Tesla can satisfy the Model 3’s pent-up demand with a dependable and profitable vehicle it will finally justify a stock value that has it rivaling GM in capital value. If it can’t, Tesla will confirm many critic’s suspicions that it’s never had a truly sustainable business model.”

Tesla’s sky-high valuation — it recently surpassed BMW’s market cap — depends largely on Musk’s ability to sell his vision of sustainable, battery-powered driving to a much broader population. The Model S and Model X are both extremely expensive. Even with tax incentives, both cars easily push $100,000. The Model 3 will start at $35,000, making it the cheapest in Tesla’s range. In order for Tesla to sell 10 times as many cars as it does now, it needs a much cheaper automobile.

But the marketplace for affordable electric vehicles is suddenly much more crowded than it was when the Model 3 was first announced in 2016. GM was able to grab first-mover status when it released the Chevy Bolt, a $36,620, 238-mile-per-charge, electric vehicle, last December. Other midlevel electric vehicles include the Volkswagen e-Golf ($36,415), Ford Focus Electric ($29,995), and Nissan Leaf ($37,675).

These companies have the infrastructure in place to maintain quality and dealer service networks, however. There are signs that Tesla is rethinking its approach to selling and maintaining cars. (Most car dealers now act as the service arm for new buyers.)

Tesla can’t survive on its buzz-worthiness alone, but it’s certainly helped buoy its stock price. The number of people who plunked down the $1,000 deposit to preorder the Model 3 after it was first announced last year blew away pretty much everyone’s expectations. It took less than a week for the company to receive 350,000 preorders, leading Tesla to claim the Model 3 had the “biggest one-week launch of any product ever.” Eat your heart out, Apple.

But Tesla still has a long way to go before it can stick the landing. Musk says production is expected to grow exponentially: 100 cars in August, more than 1,500 by September, and then 20,000 per month by December. If the company fails to hit these marks or runs into manufacturing issues that happen at higher scales, or demand for the Model 3 drops, analysts argue it would be a setback not just for Tesla, but perhaps the entire electrification movement.

BY 2040, ANALYSTS SAY THAT 54 PERCENT OF ALL CARS SOLD ON THE PLANET WILL BE ELECTRIC
In 2016, Bloomberg’s new energy think tank predicted that electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles would make up about 35 percent of the world’s auto market by the year 2040. This year, the group upped that figure considerably: by 2040, analysts now say that 54 percent of all cars sold on the planet will be electric. France’s environmental minister said yesterday his country would ban the sale of all fossil fuel-burning vehicles by 2040. And Volvo said it would stop selling gas-only cars by 2019.

The world is trending toward battery-powered, electric vehicles, thanks in no small part to Musk’s vision and ingenuity. Tesla has helped spur the biggest automakers to accelerate their electrification plans. “The Chevy Bolt might not exist now were it not for Tesla,” said Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst at Navigant. “VW Group is running as fast as it can to move from diesel to electric.”

But the timing of the Model 3’s release could spell doom for Tesla, which still sells a fraction of the automobiles produced by the world’s biggest OEMs. Auto sales are stagnant in the US, while most consumers are trending toward SUVs and crossover vehicles rather than sedans. Tesla faces the problem of introducing a compact sedan when the market is running headlong away from this form factor to sport utilities. “Their timing couldn’t have been worse,” Abuelsamid said.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 8th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Austrian daily Salzburger Nachrichten has today a cartoon showing the G20 roundtable
with one chair not in correct position. This leads to a second Round Table on which sits
a farting big yellow cat.

Governor Jerry Brown of California is ready to lead where an alternate leader is needed.


California’s Governor Just Followed Trump To Hamburg And Stole His Spotlight.

BY BENJAMIN LOCKE
POLITICS | Washington Journal, JULY 8, 2017

In a call to action, California Governor Jerry Brown told an international audience at a climate conference going on in Hamburg, Germany at the same time as the G-20 conference that “President Trump doesn’t speak for the rest of us,” as he announced plans for a global environmental summit next September in San Francisco.

Speaking via video to attendees at the Global Citizens Festival, Brown sent a strong signal that there are Americans ready to take a leadership role in combatting climate change despite the president.

“It’s up to you and it’s up to me and tens of millions of other people to get it together to roll back the forces of carbonization and join together to combat the existential threat of climate change,” Brown said.

His next statement drew loud applause from the crowd: “Yes, I know President Trump is trying to get out of the Paris agreement, but he doesn’t speak for the rest of America.”

“We in California and in all states across America,” continued Brown, “believe it’s time to act, its time to join together and that’s why at this climate action summit we’re going to get it done.”
When California becomes the first state to host a global climate summit, it will precede the 14th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which will be an even larger effort to bring together state, city and municipal governments to promise to fight climate change and then follow through by making good on their pledges, Brown’s staff told the Mercury News.

Trump thumbed his nose at the climate change advocates by scheduling his first sit-down with Russian President VBladimir Putin at the same time the G20 countries were scheduled to discuss issues around climate change.

Trump was not invited to speak at the Global Citizens Festival, but attendees did hear from other world leaders including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Argentina’s President Mauricio Marci.

There were also musical performances during the event by Coldplay, Shakira, Pharrell Williams and others.

Brown was introduced to the conference by Christiana Figueres, the former UN climate chief, who called the California Governor “a stubborn optimist from a surprising country.”

Figueres said the message that the conference will send to the world is that Trump does not speak for all Americans, most of whom do believe that climate change is real and that it is a real danger to the entire planet.

Brown has been a leader on the need to address climate change for a long time, helping shape policies in California that emphasize renewal energy sources and a respect for the planet nad its people.

Last December, Brown said if Trump took away the satellites that monitor world climate change, California would put “it’s own damn satellites” into the sky to do the job.
Brown has amped up his campaign since June when Trump announced the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Shortly after that Brown took a trip to China where he met with President Xi Jinping to deliver his message that “disaster still looms,” unless governments take action, says the Mercury News, while predicting Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement would only be a temporary setback. He said Europe, China, individual U.S. states, and cities, among others, would take over the leadership role that has been abandoned by Trump.

Brown told the Mercury News just before his China trip that if Trump stays on his current course, “California will just redouble its efforts and the people of the world will have to rise up and take action. And I think in a paradoxical way, that’s exactly what Trump is stimulating – the very opposite of climate denial is climate activism.”
Brown met earlier this week with other municipal and state leaders from Germany, Argentina, Australia and other countries as part of the Under2 Coalition, to urge G20 leaders to stand by the Paris agreement and welcome the role of states, cities and regional governments in working to address climate change.

“All over the world,” Brown said in a statement, “momentum is building to deal seriously with climate change. Despite rejection in Washington, California is all in. We are fully committed to the Under2 Coalition and the Paris agreement.”

Brown said the steps he is taking are designed to build a consensus and encourage negotiations at every level. He told the Los Angeles Times that given the scope of the challenges, finding solutions will not be “a walk in the park.”

“Decarbonizing the world,” added Brown, “it’s like going from the Roman Empire to Christianity. It’s a total paradigm shift.”
Brown is showing real leadership even in the face of constant criticism from his Republican opponents and their surrogates, and he is making the entire world aware that the U.S. is not going to give up on addressing climate change just because the current president is a science denier.

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, current New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio, Governor Kate Brown of Oregon, and progressive leaders from more than 30 cities, three other governors, university presidents, business leaders and others across the country are joining with Brown.

They are determined to not let commercial interests with huge lobbying budgets who are in the pocket of corrupt Republicans pollute freely and destroy the world while they stand by.

Take that, Koch brothers.

In the twilight of his political career, Brown is taking action and inviting the whole world to join with him.

———————————————–
BENJAMIN LOCKE
BENJAMIN LOCKE IS A RETIRED COLLEGE PROFESSOR WITH AN UNDERGRADUATE DEGREE IN INDUSTRIAL LABOR AND RELATIONS FROM CORNELL UNIVERSITY AND AN MBA FROM THE EUROPEAN SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT.

California’s Governor Just Followed Trump To Hamburg And Stole His Spotlight


———————————————-

please see also:

 www.alternet.org/news-amp-politic…

Is Jerry Brown the ‘President’ of Anti-Trump America? He Shows Up in Germany for the G20
Trump “doesn’t speak for the rest of America,” says the California governor.
By Tom Boggioni / Raw Story July 7, 2017,

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 4th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


The world looks past Donald Trump

By Stephen Collinson, CNN, Tuesday July 4, 2017

(CNN) Foreign policy, increasingly, is what is happening around the world while the United States is making other plans.

More than five months into Donald Trump’s presidency, American adversaries and allies alike are adjusting to a new era in which Washington seeks its own idiosyncratic and unpredictable “America First” path.

In Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, governments are assessing shifting US priorities and in some cases seeking alternative sources of leadership and partnership in the belief that America has stepped back.

Trump’s unpopularity abroad is forcing leaders to consider their own political positions, before getting too close to the American President — even if they seek to preserve Washington’s still vital global role as the guarantor of liberal market economics and democracy.

That dynamic will be on display during Trump’s second visit to Europe this week, just weeks after his first transcontinental trip opened new gaps between Washington and some longtime allies.

Trump starts in Poland, which is hoping for his strongest affirmation yet of NATO security guarantees. Then he will head to the G20 summit in Germany, where he may confront hostility deepened by his decision to exit the Paris climate accord.

The Trump administration refutes the notion that it has downgraded American leadership, arguing that Trump’s foreign trips, flurry of meetings and frequent calls with foreign presidents and prime ministers shows intense engagement.

But increasingly, top foreign policymakers from Germany to Iraq and Canada to Asia are contemplating a period when US leadership that many took for granted may be less evident in global affairs, after Trump turned his back on multilateral trade deals and downplayed multinational institutions and agreements.

“Whoever believes the problems of this world can be solved by isolationism and protectionism is making a tremendous error,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told parliament last week, in a clear shot across Trump’s bow.

It was not the first time the German leader, running for a fourth term in September’s election, had rebuked the President.

After Trump visited Europe in May, and declined to reaffirm NATO’s Article 5 principle of mutual self defense during a visit to the Western alliance headquarters, Merkel said US allies needed to rethink their place in the world.

“We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands,” she said.

Canada, America’s closest geographical ally, is also watching.

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland profoundly thanked the United States for being “truly the indispensable nation” that had ensured 70 years of peace and prosperity in a speech to parliament last month.

But she acknowledged that halcyon period was ending.
“The fact that our friend and ally has come to question the very worth of its mantle of global leadership, puts into sharper focus the need for the rest of us to set our own clear and sovereign course,” Freeland said.

“For Canada that course must be the renewal, indeed the strengthening, of the postwar multilateral order.”

It is not just America’s most traditional allies that sense that America is pulling back from the world, amid a perception that diplomacy has been de-emphasized and the State Department downgraded in a Trump administration more respectful of military leadership.

Iraqi Vice President Ayad Allawi told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour last week that the United States was “absent” in maintaining global security and that there was a “vacuum in the overall leadership in the world.”

“The Americans need to … get back to their role as an international power, an important international power.” Allawi said.

Despite an impending victory over ISIS by Iraqi forces in western Mosul, with US support, Allawi argued that Washington lacked “clear cut policies” for tackling extremism and a future strategy for the Middle East.

Some American competitors see an opening.

At the Global Economic Forum in Davos, a few days before Trump was inaugurated, China’s President Xi Jinping, offered a vision of a world turned on its head when he offered his own nation as a guardian of free trade, globalization and efforts to combat climate change — areas where the United States had formerly taken the leadership role.

“Whether you like it or not, the global economy is the big ocean you cannot escape from,” Xi told delegates at the Swiss mountain resort.


‘America First’ or ‘America alone?’

Over the last few days, Trump has spoken to leaders of US allies in the Gulf, amid a showdown over terrorist financing that has led to the isolation of Qatar, and has also had conversations with counterparts in Germany and Italy.

In contrast to the way Trump’s first trip to Europe was seen across the Atlantic, national security adviser H.R. McMaster argued that the President had reinvigorated US alliances which Republicans believed eroded under the Obama administration.

“America First … does not mean America alone. President Trump has demonstrated a commitment to American alliances because strong alliances further American security and American interests,” McMaster told reporters last week.

While much of America’s future foreign policy course remains uncertain to foreign states, Washington has made some clear moves.

It significantly stiffened resistance to Iran in the Middle East, a reorientation that was the underlying theme of Trump’s first stops in Saudi Arabia and Israel.

But at the same time, there is no real clarity on the Trump administration’s strategy on Syria following the apparently imminent eradication of ISIS strongholds. Iran envisages a future Shiite crescent of influence, that would stretch from Tehran through Iraq, Syria and into Lebanon, backed by Russia, and would change the balance of power in the region.
It is unclear how actively the Trump administration plans to resist such a scenario, in concert with allies like Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Egypt and Jordan.

In Afghanistan, the Pentagon dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb on ISIS targets and plans to use its new autonomy under Trump to send more troops to train and assist Afghan soldiers.
But the administration has yet to lay out a detailed vision of how it sees Afghanistan’s future or long-term US war aims.

In Asia, Trump dropped his hostility toward China in an effort to convince Beijing to do more to rein in its volatile ally North Korea amid a nuclear and missile crisis. But he now seems to have concluded the effort failed, and imposed sanctions against a Chinese bank with links to the pariah state, and approved a $1.4 billion arms package to Taiwan, heightening tensions with Beijing.
But Trump, despite saber rattling, has yet to explain to Americans any new approaches on how he will thwart Pyongyang’s bid to put a nuclear warhead onto a weapon that could reach the US mainland.

It’s not just uncertainty about American global strategy that is convincing some allied leaders to look past the United States.
Trump’s unpopularity makes it much more difficult for them politically to support him. The recent Pew Global Attitudes poll showed Trump with rock bottom approval ratings across the world. Only in Russia and Israel did more people trust him to do the right thing than former President Barack Obama.

The former President, meanwhile, has stayed mostly out of the limelight. But Monday, Obama couldn’t resist during a Seoul conference organized by South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo media group, saying the Paris climate accord won’t vanish despite the “temporary absence” of American leadership.
“The Paris agreement,” Obama said, “even with the temporary absence of US leadership, will still be a critical factor in helping our children solve the enormous challenge in civilization.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 25th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From TRUTHOUT:

In a recent, exclusive interview with Truthout, we asked Noam Chomsky about his take on climate change and the state of the planet. Here’s what he said:

“Every part of [the world] is trying to do something. The United States alone is trying to destroy it, and it’s not just Trump, it’s the whole Republican Party. You just can’t find words for it. And it’s not reported. It’s not discussed.”

From WASHINGTON POST:

Beyond opposing Trump, do Democrats have a message?

Perhaps Democrats thought things would be easier because of Donald Trump’s rocky start. His presidency has produced an outpouring of anger among Democrats, but will that be enough to bring about a change in the party’s fortunes? Some savvy Democratic elected officials doubt it.

By Dan Balz, June 24, 2017

Their anti-Trump fantasies are not working for them. Anger is not a plan or a policy. It only feeds those they already had and does not expand their base. If anything, it further alienates them from voters they need. This is because they not only hate Trump, they also hate those who voted for him. “I hate you because you did not vote for me” is a tough sale.

The loss in last week’s special congressional election in Georgia produced predictable handwringing and finger-pointing inside the Democratic Party. It also raised anew a question that has troubled the party through a period in which they have lost ground political. Simply put: Do Democrats have a message?

Right now, the one discernable message is opposition to President Donald Trump. That might be enough to get through next year’s midterm elections, though some savvy Democratic elected officials doubt it. What’s needed is a message that attracts voters beyond the blue-state base of the party.

The defeat in Georgia came in a district that was always extremely challenging. Nonetheless, the loss touched off a hunt for scapegoats. Some Democrats, predictably, blamed the candidate, Jon Ossoff, for failing to capitalize on a flood of money and energy among party activists motivated to send a message of opposition to the president. He may have had flaws but he and the Democrats turned out lots of voters. There just weren’t enough of them.

Other critics went up the chain of command and leveled their criticism at House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. She has held her party together in the House through many difficult fights – ask veterans of the Obama administration – but she also has become a prime target for GOP ad makers as a symbol of the Democrats’ liberal and bicoastal leanings. Pelosi, a fighter, has brushed aside the criticism.

Perhaps Democrats thought things would be easier because of Trump’s rocky start. His presidency has produced an outpouring of anger among Democrats but will that be enough to bring about a change in the party’s fortunes?

History says a president with approval ratings as low as Trump’s usually sustain substantial midterm losses. That could be the case in 2018, particularly if the Republicans end up passing a health care bill that right now is far more unpopular than Obamacare. But Trump has beaten the odds many times in his short political career. What beyond denunciations of the Republicans as heartless will the Democrats have to say to voters?

Though united in vehement opposition to the president, Democrats do not speak with one voice. Fault lines and fissures exist between the ascendant progressive wing at the grassroots and those Democrats who remain more business-friendly. While these differences are not as deep as those seen in Trump’s Republican Party, that hasn’t yet generated a compelling or fresh message to take to voters who aren’t already sold on the party.

Hillary Clinton, whose rhetoric often sounded more poll-tested than authentic, never found that compelling message during her 2016 campaign. She preferred to run a campaign by demonizing Trump and as a result drowned out her economic issues. This was a strategic gamble for which she paid a high price.

The absence of a convincing economic message did not start with Clinton. Former president Barack Obama struggled with the same during his 2012 reelection. He wanted to claim credit for a steady but slow recovery while acknowledging forthrightly the persistent growth that was rising far more rapidly for those at the top. It was a muddle at best, but he was saved the fact that Mitt Romney couldn’t speak to those stressed voters either. In 2016, however, Trump did.

Clinton’s loss forced Democrats to confront their deficiencies among white, working-class voters and the vast areas between the coasts that flipped in Trump’s direction. Their defection from the Democratic Party began well before Trump but until 2016 Democrats thought they could overcome that problem by tapping other voters. Trump showed the limits of that strategy.

The Georgia loss put a focus on a different type of voter, the well-educated suburbanites, particularly those who don’t live in deep blue states. While losing ground among working-class whites, Democrats have been gaining support among white voters with college degrees. Last fall, Clinton advisers believed she would do well enough with those college graduates to overcome projected erosion among those without college educations. She fell short of expectations, however, allowing Trump to prevail in the pivotal Midwest battlegrounds.

The Georgia district had the highest percentage of college graduates of any in the nation. Ossoff tried to win over those suburban voters with a moderate message on economic issues but it wasn’t powerful or persuasive enough to overcome the appeal of the Republican brand in an election in which the GOP made Pelosi-style Democrats a focus. Loyalty to party was strong enough to allow Karen Handel to prevail.

The long-running debate over the Democrats’ message likely will intensify as the party looks to 2018 and especially to 2020. It is a debate that the party needs. Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, writing in the American Prospect, sees a problem that goes beyond white, working-class voters to those within the Democratic base who also were left behind by the post-2008 economic gains. He argues that the part’s problem is with working class voters of all types, not just whites.

Greenberg has long been critical of the tepidness of the party’s economic message and puts some of the blame on Obama. He believes the former president’s economic message in 2012 and 2016 focused on progress in the recovery largely to the exclusion of the widespread pain that still existed. “That mix of heralding ‘progress’ while bailing out those responsible for the crisis and the real crash in incomes for working Americans was a fatal brew for Democrats,” he argues.

For progressives, the answer to this problem is clear: a boldly liberal message that attacks big corporations and Wall Street and calls for a significant increase in government’s role in reducing income and wealth inequality. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. has been aggressive in promoting exactly that, as he did during the 2016 campaign, a big investment in infrastructure, free college tuition at public colleges and universities. He has said he intends to introduce legislation he calls “Medicare for all.”

That kind of message likely will spark more internal debate, particularly among Democrats from swing districts or swing states. It points to one of the biggest challenges Democrats face as they move beyond being the anti-Trump party. That is the question of whether they are prepared to make a robust and appealing case in behalf of government in the face of continuing skepticism among many of the voters they are trying to win over. Trump might not succeed in draining the swamp, but he has tapped into sentiments about Washington that Democrat ignore at their peril.

Nor can Democrats ignore voters’ concerns about immigration. The Democrats’ message on immigration and immigrant rights (and some other cultural issues) plays well in many blue states, but it draws a much more mixed reception in those parts of the country where Trump turned the election in his direction.

In this divided era, it’s easy for either party to look at the other and conclude the opposition is in worse shape. That’s the trap for Democrats right now as they watch Trump struggle in office. But Democrats are in the minority in the House, Senate, governorships and state legislatures. Clinton may have won the popular vote but that proved about as satisfying as coming close while losing last week in Georgia. It’s no substitute for the real thing. If continued frustration with losing doesn’t prompt rethinking about the message, what will?

From OpenDEMOCRACY:

Macron and absolute responsibility
PATRICE DE BEER 23 June 2017
If there were one word to characterise these elections, it was crafted by Melenchon and is “dégagisme”, or cleaning-out.

French President Emmanuel Macron has won his ambitious and unlikely bet. After having been elected president last May at the age of 39, he now holds an absolute majority in the National Assembly, with 350 seats out of 577 – his own movement, La République En Marche (LREM), having 308 MPs, the rest being held by his centrist MoDem allies.

For a movement created only14 months ago and long considered by pundits and politicians alike as a “bubble”, this is an incredible success. Even if it is less than what the most recent opinion polls had predicted (up to 470 seats), and even though the 57% abstention rate has reached an apex in the history of the Fifth Republic.

Now that he has turned the French party system upside down, he holds all the cards to implement his promised in-depth reform of a paralysed political, economic and social system. This is what most French voters elected him for. He will marginally revamp his government, which includes ministers from left, right and centre alongside personalities from civil society, serving under the conservative 46-year-old Prime Minister Édouard Philippe, before Parliament is due to convene on June 27. Yet he has to move fast on his reforms – first of the labour market, a very divisive one, on which negotiations with unions and employers have already started – knowing by experience as the former adviser and economic minister of the last Socialist president, François Hollande, that delaying crucial decisions means having their positive effects delayed till the end of his five year tenure, if not later. He knows this so well that some of his new bills are already in the pipeline, having even been partly drafted before he took office.

If his predicted triumph has been downsized to an historical success in presiding over the demise of the two parties who ruled France in the last 60 years, it is mostly because of a massive abstention rate. Already noted during the first round, when other parties lost up to 60% of the votes obtained during the April-May presidential election, this conviction on the part of many voters that this is the only election that matters, also afflicted the Macron vote last Sunday. Some of his voters thought there was no point voting again as the dice were cast, others were not so keen to give him too big a majority. At the same time, it looks as if tactical voting from opposition voters, starting with the left and right extremes – France Insoumise (FI or Unsubdued Left) and National Front (FN) – helped defeat some LREM candidates who were ahead on the first round.

Faced by these 350 seats, conservative Républicains and their centrist allies had their worse ever score with 130 seats (against 229 in the last Parliament). Socialists slumped to 30, 10% of their previous score. They are in total disarray, having lost their historical strongholds and some MPs only having survived thanks to Macron’s support for those considered “Macron compatible”, after they voiced support in public for some of his reforms and their willingness to support his government in its first vote of confidence. A split between such recruits and the hard-liners has already occurred in the Republicains, with the same expected to ensue any moment now within the Socialists, all of which should benefit the new President.

Together for the first time, the far left and the far right will play an albeit minor role within a split opposition. FN has now 8 MPs instead of 2, including the election of its leader Ms Marine Le Pen. This is far less than they had hoped for and not enough to form a parliamentary group (a minimum of 15 MPs). The FI, the new populist party led by Jean-Luc Melenchon, has 17 MPs when it previously had none. This will give him a basis to pursue his war against Macron whom he considers as the devil incarnate of the worst type of capitalist and financial system. This is a huge disappointment for a man who still hoped a few weeks ago for a majority in Parliament and who considers Macron’s power as illegitimate because, he says, overlooking the fact that less than 2.5 millions voted for him, that it only represents 7.3 million registered voters out of 47.6 million. The Communists, rejecting fealty to the FI, cling to their 10 MPs. As for the Greens, bitterly torn among themselves, they have gone from 17 to one MP while French ecology icon, Nicolas Hulot, is now number 3 in the Philippe government, in charge of energy transition.

If there were one word to characterise these elections, it was crafted by Melenchon and is “dégagisme”, or cleaning-out. “Dégagisme” of old politicians, old parties, of the old world, to build a new one made up of several bold promises regularly repeated like mantras by this gifted orator who can hold the attention of large audiences for hours, while sporting his Mao-like jacket. “Dégagisme” for him began with his rivals on the left, starting with the PS whom he vowed to destroy and replace, and with whom he rejected any alliance, even choosing to stand against the local head of the party in Marseilles, and winning.

But it is also clear that a large majority of those who left the PS were from its moderate wing and disillusioned by Hollande as well as by his vociferous minority of hard-liners who took control of a rump party in the presidential primaries – their candidate came out fifth with only 6% of the vote at the presidential election – the rest siding with France Insoumise. So, the main beneficiary of this “dégagisme” against politicians who had been in charge for decades and were held responsible by so many of the French voters, left and right, has been Macron himself. It was they who helped him build his following before he received support from the centre and from part of the right in his “neither left nor right” or “and left and right” strategy.

Absolute majority, absolute responsibility

So the easy part of his job has now been done and a hard task lies ahead. Initially, few people believed he could be elected. Now all of a sudden they expect him to deliver. And fast. To balance his job-creating reforms by loosening up the French labour system with social reforms. To make it easier to lay-off but also to recruit. To improve the living of the less-well-off by simplifying taxes and financing health and unemployment benefits, not from wages but through a higher tax on all income, financial and corporate included, and by removing an obsolete and unjust housing tax for 80% of taxpayers.

The French want things to change for the better but are at the same time afraid of the future. And they are also reluctant to see these changes affect them directly. Difficult people to deal with! But by promoting a more benevolent type of politics, by refusing to countenance verbal abuse against his opponents, asking people in rallies to stop booing them, he has tried to promote a more peaceful atmosphere. This might pacify the political arena for a time but there will be no honeymoon: he will have to deliver.

He has started by building an image of himself as a leader. At home, by not ducking out of talking face to face with strikers fighting against the outsourcing of their jobs; booed at first, he managed at least twice to have a frank discussion with them without making, as he said, promises everyone knew he could not fulfil. Then he did the same in the international world where so many pundits said that he was too young and lacked the international exposure and guts to talk face to face with world leaders, starting with Trump and Putin. But now he will have to dirty his hands with day to day politics.

He will do this with the help of his new majority in an Assembly profoundly affected by another brand of institutional ”dégagisme”. Thanks to a recent bill, no politician can be elected for more than three terms or hold more than one position of responsibility (deputy or senator, mayor, regional counsellor). Macron has also decided to implement strict parity between women and men in his government as among his candidates for Parliament. So the new Assembly will accommodate 432 (75%) new MPs, 223 of them women (160 from LREM) instead of 155. With an average age of 48 years instead of 54 years as before, they are elected under Macron’s name. New in politics but active in business, start-ups, social services, various jobs and professions who will have to learn the tricks of the trade while remaining close to people outside Parliament. Loyal? yes, but hopefully bringing new blood, new ideas, new experience to a political world far too long endogamous and male orientated.

Will they all be up to the task? The fact is that they represent the first revolution – the title of Macron’s last book – to occur in fossilised French politics and a timely chance to bring France back as a European, and world power, thanks to his promised reforms and his pro-European stand at a moment when the EU is not that popular in the Old Continent. Just at the time when the EU’s future is at stake and Britain is starting her long, complex and, probably, bitter divorce proceedings.

As the conservative Le Figaro, criticised by readers for being too accommodating with Macron wrote on Monday, “Absolute majority, absolute responsibility”. And Le Monde’s publisher added, “Rebuild confidence”. A tough programme indeed.

‘It only needs all’: re-reading Dialectic of Enlightenment at 70

MARCEL STOETZLER 24 June 2017

Seventy years ago, Querido Verlag published a densely written book that has become a key title of modern social philosophy. Underneath its pessimistic granite surface a strangely sanguine message awaits us.

How do you make an argument against social domination when the very terms, concepts and languages at your disposal are shaped by, and in turn serve that same social domination? Probably in the way you would light a fire in a wooden stove. How would you write a book about the impossibility of writing just that book? Like a poem about the pointlessness of poems. What if your enemies’ enemies are your own worst enemies? Can you defend liberal society from its fascist enemies when you know it is the wrong state of things? You must, but dialectics may well ‘make cowards of us all’ and spoil our ‘native hue of resolution’.

Dialectic of Enlightenment[1] is a very strange book, and although it was published, in 1947, by the leading publishing house for exiled, German-language anti-fascist literature, the Querido Verlag in Amsterdam, alongside many of the biggest literary names of the time, no-one will have expected that it gradually became one of the classics of modern social philosophy.

It is a book that commits all the sins editors tend to warn against: its chapters are about wildly differing subject matters; the writing is repetitive, circular and fragmented; no argument ever seems exhausted or final and there are no explicitly stated conclusions, and certainly no trace of a policy impact trajectory. Arguments start somewhere, suddenly come to a halt and then move on to something else. If this sounds like the script for a Soviet film from the revolutionary period, then that is not totally coincidental: it is an avant-garde montage film, transcribed into philosophy.

Unsurprisingly, given that it was written during WW2 in American exile and published at the beginning of the Cold War, it does not carry its Marxism on its sleeves, but it gives clear enough hints: in the preface, Horkheimer and Adorno state that the aim of the book is ‘to explain why humanity, instead of entering a truly human state, is sinking into a new kind of barbarism’. This addresses the dialectic referenced in the title of the book. The important bit here is the ‘instead of’: the reality of barbarism was undeniable and clearly visible, but the originality of the formulation lies in its implication that humanity could have been expected to enter ‘a truly human state’ sometime earlier in the twentieth century, leaving behind its not so human state.

The promise of progress towards humanity, held by socialists (and some liberals), blew up in their faces. It would have been easy and straightforward then to write a book arguing against the holding of such hope, but this would not have been a dialectical book; Dialectic of Enlightenment undertakes to rescue this hope by looking at why progress tipped over into its opposite.

Whose barbarism?
A number of propositions have been made, at the time and later, as to who or what is to be blamed for the barbarism. Capitalism was an obvious answer, but then, capitalism does not typically and all the time produce Holocausts (and capitalists could be found among the victims). Others pointed at ‘the Germans’ and their peculiar intellectual and social history; this, too, is neither an entirely wrong nor a quite satisfying answer. Again others pointed at ‘the bureaucracy’ and modern statecraft. These surely played a role but there are plenty of state bureaucracies that do not engage in genocides and world wars, most of the time. Horkheimer and Adorno made a much stranger, more abstract and strangely radical proposition: the barbarism that destroyed civilization was a product of civilization as such. It is civilization’s self-destruction.

The attempt to formulate a theory of barbarism as the product of civilization creates a very thorny problem, though: theorizing, the attempt to bring about enlightenment, is very much the stuff of civilization, as it involves thinking, language, perceptions, concepts, images, ideas, judgements, ‘spirit’ (which in the philosophical tradition Horkheimer and Adorno came from means as much as ‘culture’). Dialectic of Enlightenment blames the destruction of enlightenment on enlightenment, i.e. on itself. The philosopher Jürgen Habermas some decades later cleverly pointed out that this is a bit of a contradiction. That was exactly the point, though: the hint is in the title, in the word ‘Dialectic’.

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Title-page of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, 1807. Wikicommons. Some rights reserved.
The book’s painful starting point is described in the preface: Horkheimer and Adorno looked for a position from which to confront fascism and found that ‘in reflecting on its own guilt’, thought finds that it lacks a language.

In the name of what exactly is it possible to challenge fascism effectively? In the languages of sociology, psychology, history, philosophy? The discourses of truth, freedom, human rights?

Barbarism… is civilization’s self-destruction.
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Here is the rub: in the period in which fascism took power these sounded hollow as they had been stripped of their authority. If this sounds familiar, it is because, almost a century later, we are in a not so different situation. Horkheimer and Adorno state – still in the preface – that fascist demagogues and liberal intellectuals feed off the same (positivist) zeitgeist, marked by the ‘self-destruction of the enlightenment’. Science and scholarship are not potent weapons against fascism anymore, and this even affects tendencies that are opposed to ‘official’, positivistic science.

The basic point here is that scientific, materialist, technological rationality is a force for good only when it is linked to the idealistic notion of general human emancipation, the goal of full rich lives for all, without suffering, exploitation and oppression. (Using a word they had good reasons to avoid, this is what Marx would have called ‘communism’). Only this link gives empirical and rationalist science its truth and significance: enlightenment needs to be ‘transcendental’, i.e. something that points beyond the actually existing reality, not unlike metaphysics in traditional philosophy. It needs to be critical, that is, in opposition to reality as it is.

The principal thesis of the book is that enlightenment purged itself of this connection to society-transcending, non-empirical, critical truth, and as early as on the second page of the preface Horkheimer and Adorno are happy to name the thinker who exemplifies for them this fatal development: Auguste Comte, the founder of positivist philosophy. They assert that in the hostile and brutal conditions of the eighteenth century – the period often described as that of ‘the Enlightenment’ – philosophy had dared to challenge the ‘infamy’ (as Voltaire called it) of the church and the society it helped maintain, while in the aftermath of the French Revolution philosophy switched sides and put itself at the service of the state. This was of course, by now, the modernising state, but still the same state. They write that the Comtean school of positivism – ‘apologists’ of the modern, capitalist society that emerged in the nineteenth century – ‘usurped’ the succession to the genuine Enlighteners, and reconciled philosophy with the forces it previously had opposed, such as the Catholic church.

Horkheimer and Adorno mention in this context the ultra-nationalist organisation Action Française, whose chief ideologist Charles Maurras had been an ardent admirer of Comte. This hint helps understand what kind of historical developments they had on their minds: while Comte himself surely saw himself in good faith as a protagonist of social reform meant to overcome-but-preserve the achievements of the Revolution, and his translation of enlightenment empiricism into the system of ‘positivist philosophy’ as a contribution to the process of modernization, his followers in many ways contributed to the development of the modern authoritarian state and, as in the case of Maurras, proto-fascism.

Dear Reader of SustainabiiTank – if you got up to here and want to read further please find the continuation starting with WATERLOO at the souce:

 www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe…

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About the author
Marcel Stoetzler is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Bangor University, Wales.
He studied at Hamburg University, Germany, and at the Universities of Greenwich and Middlesex (both London). He works on social and political theory, intellectual history and historical sociology, and has lately concentrated on various aspects of modern antisemitism, especially its interconnections with liberalism and nationalism and the emergence of the discipline of sociology. He serves on the editorial board of Patterns of Prejudice and is a fellow at the Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Manchester.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 24th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

June 24, 2017

(MENAFN – AFP) #France is to stop granting new licenses for oil and gas exploration on the mainland and in overseas territories.

Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot said Friday:
“There will be no new exploration licenses for hydrocarbons, we will pass the law this autumn,” Hulot said on BFMTV.

President Emmanuel Macron said during his election campaign in February that he was opposed to exploration for gas and shale gas in mainland France.

Macron even saide would like to see the exploitation of oil and gas halted altogether in France’s overseas territories, especially in #FrenchGuiana on the northeastern coast of South America.

But Hulot, an environmental campaigner and former TV star before he joined the cabinet last month, said it would currently be impossible to take such a move without triggering lawsuits from energy companies.

MENAFN2306201701430000ID1095575755

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 13th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


The Vienna Energy Forum (VEF) 2017 Conference: “Sustainable energy for the implementation of the SDGs and the Paris Agreement” convened 9-12 May 2017.


The VEF is a biennial, global multi-stakeholder forum, launched in 2008 to explore development challenges from the perspective of sustainable energy – and to debate solutions to those challenges. It is a joint initiative of the Austrian Government, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IASA) based in Laxenburg, Austria, and the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) , as well based in Vienna.


[This year’s meeting overlapped The Bonn Climate Change Conference, organized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, May 8-18, 2017 – a technical meeting dealing with areas like the Green house effects, stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, green urban environments, Clean Energy … Nature’s Role. Obviously, this time conflict might have taken away some of the coverage of the Vienna event.]

VEF 2017 is intended to contribute to the practicalities in successful implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the Paris Agreement. Among other things, it discussed the importance of the linkages between climate and development, and examined the role of innovation in achieving SDG 7 – “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all” and related SDGs.

The Forum featured side events held on the UN Grounds in Vienna, from 9-10 May – followed by plenary sessions from 11-12 May.

The side events covered such topics as achieving SDG 7, sustainable energy solutions in landlocked developing countries, innovative business models to attract sustainable energy investment for least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing States (SIDS), capacity building, clean energy for migrants and vulnerable groups, improving energy access, technology transfer, modern cooking energy, achieving a low-carbon society, regional incubation networks, micro-grids, smart city development, energy scenarios for sub-Saharan African cities, catalyzing action on energy efficiency, global research initiatives in support of the 2030 Development Agenda and the Paris Agreement, and promoting women to advance the global energy transition.

The follow up plenary sessions promoted then dialogue on the nexus between energy, climate, transport, food, water and health, linkages among the key SDGs and their contribution to the 2030 Development Agenda, and the role of innovation as a global driver for sustainable growth.

In this reporting by Irith Jawetz, she goes over a few highlights of the Conference she attended at the Austrian Hofburg – the Austria Presidential quarters in Vienna.

Also here there were many plenary panels and side events which will hopefully be posted on the website at a later date.  www.viennaenergyforum.org/


The Opening ceremony of the Vienna Energy Forum 2017 took place on May 11, 2017 at the magnificent Festsaal in the Hofburg.

Here is a short summary of the presentations:

Master of Ceremonies was Ms. Ralitsa Vassileva, the news Director Bulgarian International Television, who was previously anchorwoman on CNN.

She thanked the 1,500 delegates from 100 countries and the 50 speakers who have assembled to attend this important Conference, whose main goal is to fight poverty through Sustainable Development.

The first speaker was Mr. Michael Linhart, Secretary General of the Austrian Ministry for Integration & Foreign Affairs. He mentioned that this Conference has started in Vienna in 2009 and was the first Forum leading the need for access to Sustainable Development. The latest important events were the International Conference on Sustainable Development in New York, September 2016 and the COP 21 – UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, December 2016 where the important Paris Agreement was signed. Both events, together with the current conference in Vienna will decide whether we are on the right track.

The next speaker was Ms. Maria Vassilaku, Vice Mayor of Vienna, member of the Austrian Green Party, who welcomed everybody to Vienna, the most beautiful, sustainable and liberal city. She especially mentioned that we have to tackle the question of Climate Change for our children.

Sustainable Development is defined by sustainable mobility, more public transport (Vienna has reduced the price of annual transportation ticket in order to entice people to leave their cars at home and use Public transportation).

Achieving the goals of Sustainability will only be done by involving people, industry, Governments, and private sectors.

She was followed by Mr. Li Yong, Director General of UNIDO who insisted that we must make sure the Paris Agreement is implemented in full.

Then came up Ms. Rachel Kyte, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, and CEO of Sustainable Energy for All, formerly with the World Bank in Washington DC. She was the most passionate of the speakers. She mentioned that 1 in 7 people on our planet do not have access to energy. This is unacceptable.

We have to give everybody a chance for access to energy. We need it for schools, clinics, food, shelter, and everybody must have the right to it. She pleaded that we have to move, and to move fast, promises made should be promises kept.

{Ms Kyte served until December 2015 as World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change, leading the Bank Group’s efforts to campaign for an ambitious agreement at the 21st Convention of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP 21). She was previously World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development, and was the International Finance Corporation Vice President for Business Advisory Services.]

Next came Prof. Pavel Kabat, Director General and Chief Executive Office at IIASA, International Institute for Applied Systems Analyses located in Laxenburg, Austria. He put the emphasis on research and vision. He said that one should not view Climate Change as a threat but as a new start, energy is a necessity and not a goal and sustainability will only be achieved when there is a partnership of private and public sector.

The Austrian Ambassador to the United Nations in Vienna, Ms. Chtistine Stix-Hackl read an official statement from the Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, who welcomed all participants to the Conference in Vienna, which has become a hub for Energy. The President stressed the importance of implementing the Paris Agreement and making sure that the goals set in that agreement will be met .

Andrä Ruprechter, Austrian Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment & Water Management also mentioned the two conferences in 2016 in New York and Paris and said that we can and will clear the pathway to a clean energy future for all. He was looking forward to the next Climate Change Conference in November 6-17, 2017, in Bonn, Germany. Climate Change is a Global problem and needs Global solutions. He vowed that Austria will stick with the Paris agreement.

Mr. Piyush Goyal, Minister of State with independent Charge for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines in the Government of India was also very passionate in his speech. The world is changing since Thomas Edison discovered the light bulb and it is for us now, and not later, to do something in order to save the world. India is committed to the Paris Agreement even if other World leaders are not (this was the first time the audience clapped during a speech). Prime Minster Modi is a conservationist of Energy and under his leadership India has promoted energy efficiency for the last years and has reduced the use of electricity by a lot by using only energy saving light bulbs. He hopes that by 2019 every lights bulb will be replaced.


Ms. Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary General of the United nations and former Minister of Environment of Nigeria, also stressed that we must address Climate Change since it is a scientific fact, in spite of recent talks to the contrary
(this remark caused more clapping from the audience). The Paris Agreement has to be implemented in full in order to fight Climate Change and more important poverty. It is unacceptable that 1 in 7 people on the planet have no access to electricity.

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The second day started with the Ministerial segment moderated by Ms. Tania Rödiger-Vorwerk, Deputy Director General, Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation & Development (BMZ), Germany. Let us remember that upcoming COP 23 of the UNFCCC will be held in Bonn, Germany, this November 6-17.

The keynote speaker was the very passionate and eloquent Prime Minister of Tuvalu, H.E. Enele Sopoaga. Being the Head of one of the endangered islands, he stressed the importance of regarding Climate Change as a real danger. He expressed solidarity with the Paris Agreement and stressed the importance of action to combat Climate Change. Survival is at stake, Governments & Private sectors of all countries have to work together to make sure the use of Renewable sources is increased. Tuvalu has numerous programs in that direction and hopes to achieve 100% use of Renewable sources of energy by the year 2020. Tuvalu is fully committed to explore Renewable energy from oceans but needs help in technology. 10,000 people in very small islands which are part of Tuvalu have already 100% electricity, but a lot still has to be done. He called upon all countries not to listen to diversion from the problems of Climate Change but “keep everybody on the boat & canoe”. Every country has to be on board and support the goals of developing Sustainable energy for all at all costs.

His speech caused a round of applause from all participants.

The other Ministers on the Podium were H.E. Ms. Jabulile Mashwama, Minister of Natural Resources & Energy of Swaziland who also stressed that Renewable agenda comes at a high cost, it’s coming slowly, but it has to happen.

H.E. Mr. Khaled Fahmy, Minister, Egypt Environmental affairs Agency, also supported in full the Paris Agreement, this is a Global agreement and all countries have to respect and adapt it. Egypt hopes to achieve 20% of renewable energy by 2020 which comes mainly from solar and wind. In order to implement this goal, the private sector must be involved, especially in order to bear the costs. This is a critical issue and the pace is too slow.

H.E. Mr. Aziz Rebbah, Minister of Energy, Mines & Sustainable Development from Morocco, home of the COP 22 of the UNFCCC in 2016, strives to achieve 52% of renewable energy by 2030 which will come mainly from solar power.

A very moving side event which Ms. Jawetz attended, and would like to share, was the “Networking Event: Women for Sustainable Energy”. This networking event connects people and provides a platform for knowledge sharing and exchange. It raises awareness on the potential of sustainable energy for women’s empowerment, and featured short presentations by women leaders in the energy sector. It provided insights into a broad range of career paths and initiatives that target women’s empowerment in the clean energy sector. This event was meant to promote sustainable energy approaches that have strong impact on gender equality and highlighted the major role of women in making the energy sector more sustainable. The event was hosted by UNIDO and supported by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Center for Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), the Global Women’s Network for Energy Transition (GWNET) and the International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy (ENERGIA).


Before the closing session started we heard a short speech by Mr. Kandeh Yumkella, who is now a Sierra Leonean Agricultural economist and politician, and was, for many years, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, first as head of UN Energy and then for Sustainable Energy for All during the years 2009-2016. He was instrumental in organizing all the past Vienna Energy Forum events. He thanked everybody for inviting him this time as a guest and participant, and stressed time and again that “Energy for All” is the key for everything, and one has to take the fight from Vienna to New York and spread the word.

The closing remarks were carried out by Mr. Philippe Scholtes, Managing Director, Programme Development and Technical Cooperation Division (PTC), UNIDO.

He thanked all the organizers for the successful event and counted 10 key massages:

1) Role of Energy in 2030 – urgency agenda for sustainable development;

2) Urgency in developing energy for food, security, land, water & health nexus;

3) Developing sustainable cities and urban communities, the need for use of sustainable energy for infrastructure;

4) Need to adapt to Climate Change by using clean energy;

5) Pioneering role of innovative technologies are a central piece of sustainable energy;

6) Financing innovative business models. Sustainable solutions depend on innovative businesses;

7) Catalysts for innovation – Governments needs to stimulate innovation and develop energy system support research & development;

8)Innovation for Appropriate & Sustainable solutions, planning frugal, flexible & inclusive energy systems;

9) Energy is ca crucial component for implementing of the 2029 agenda;

10) Businesses & Private sector must be included in implementing the Paris agreement.


All in All a very successful Conference, but the work is not done yet. To quote Ms. Rachel Kyte: “Promises made should be promises kept!”

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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 9th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Obama returns to spotlight to speak up on climate change.

Former US President Obama to speak at “Seeds and Chips” summit
During his time in office, Obama devoted energy to pushing sustainable food.

By Nic Robertson, CNN
Tuesday, May 9, 2017 – Victory Day in WWII

Nic Robertson is CNN’s International Diplomatic Editor.

Milan, Italy (CNN)Hard on the heels of one of his first public comments since leaving office, President Barack Obama is heading overseas to talk about food.

Where else but Italy? The gastronomic heart of the world, Italy is a place where food is taken seriously, and its status as a culinary destination gives it the gravitas and credibility to be among the first to raise questions about the future of nutrition. To be sure, Obama will have dined well. To fail to do that, even in Milan, the once industrial capital of the north now better known for its fashionistas, would be a crime, but that’s not the meat of visit. It’s far more somber and serious, to help advance sustainable food supplies for us all and generations to come.

Fresh in office in 2009, Obama initiated his “Feed the Future” campaign that by some accounts has helped 9 million farmers and more than 17 million children, many under 5 years of age, have a chance of improved nutrition in more than 19 countries worldwide.

At the same time, his wife Michelle planted the modest White House kitchen garden — the creation of another First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt — and turned it into a source of nutritional food for her family and others. She went on to champion the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010, providing much needed healthy meals for schoolkids, an early Trump target in scything back the Obamas’ legacy.

Both Barack and Michelle have had a thing about helping the needy get access to good food for a long time.

So why step back into the limelight now?

President Trump will go to Italy later this month to the culinary heaven known as Sicily. Food likely won’t be on his mind — it could be the toughest of all his stops in his first overseas excursion as commander in chief.

Trump will be attending the G7 leaders summit, where topics like migration and climate change will vie for attention in an agenda already dense with thorny issues like Syria, Russia, globalization and trade.

Obama adds his voice to “Seeds and Chips,” a summit that aims to advance his own cherished principles and stitch together food issues that for most people are scudding along below the radar yet stalk our very existence.

He’ll deliver the keynote speech at the global gathering of government ministers, innovators, business leaders and experts “to face one of the greatest global challenges: climate change and the issues linked to food supply in an increasingly populated world with progressively scarce resources.”

By raising these issues, Obama will be challenging Trump’s stated goal to collapse the COP21 climate change agreement forged in Paris — perhaps Obama’s biggest global legacy — as well as point out Trump’s hacks at his wife’s signature legacy too.

Trump Admin guts Obama-era climate regulations

The United States was one of the last big polluters to come on board and accept the principle of climate change. Obama’s desire to cut a deal in Paris determined neither China nor Russia had any room to back out.

The “Seeds and Chips” summit that Obama is opening is in its third year, and its organizers are looking to him to nail down its legacy as a force for good and change.

Obama won’t have to open his mouth to do that, or for that matter butt ideological heads with Trump. His presence and legacy alone will convey both the dire prospects for climate change and the importance of planning and preparing sustainable food supplies.

Some forward-leaning climate scientists have been saying for years that polar ice melts and unusual weather changes are here to stay, that so much damage has already been done by industrialization that turning back the clock is not an option.

In his two and a half hours on stage, Obama will deliver the guiding speech setting the tone for the event and then take questions.
The former President has come well prepared — his former senior food policy adviser and former chef Sam Kass will be there too.
Obama should have no trouble holding his own among the gathered experts. Often chided as “policy wonk in chief,” intellectual discourse is his staple. Turning up the heat and bringing passion to a topic many already feel exhausted by will be his challenge.
What ever sage advice he brings to the table, it won’t be to Trump’s taste. An avowedly anti-science instinct has led the current President to appoint an EPA chief, Scott Pruitt, who questions the majority-held scientific views on climate change and intends to roll back the hard-earned climate gains of Obama’s administration.

Ex-EPA chief: Trump climate policy ’embarrassing’

Obama, now out of office, seems unwilling to sit silently in the margins, like some Victorian schoolchild only to speak when spoken to.

Silence has been the default state for many previous Presidents happy to shed the responsibilities of the White House. But Trump’s targeting of Obama’s legacy — his health care plan at home and climate change overseas — seems to have pushed him to take up speaking engagements he knows will needle the new commander in chief.


Yates contradicts Spicer on Michael Flynn

It’s becoming increasingly clear that Trump and Obama never saw eye to eye, even following their now famous hour-long White House meeting late last year when they came out all smiles and bonhomie. It emerges now that was the meeting when Obama warned Trump about hiring Michael Flynn, Trump’s soon to be fired National Security Adviser.

Obama was right that Flynn would be trouble.

Today Trump may feel he needs to follow his gut and learn climate change for himself too.
What he thinks about Obama’s return to the global spotlight will no doubt be revealed in his Tweets, where no amount of sugarcoating will hide his sentiment.

But this is only the beginning. Obama has more global speeches penciled in, including one in the UK, just two days before Trump’s big G7 summit.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 8th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


This column is based on sorrow reading of the May 8 issue.

On page A 12 we looked up the article “Israel Presses Trump on Vows” that was a very short reporting from yesterday’s whole day Jerusalem Post Conference at the Times Square Marriott Marquis Hotel.

The problem was not the shortness but the sentence: “The U.S. leader is scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia, Israel and Europe beginning May 19.” By saying Europe rather then Rome or the Vatican – this shows that the reporter hid what went on there or he just did not liste and made it up. At the meeting – several speakers explained that this continuation to Rome was with deep meaning of bringing Christianity into this conflict between Jews and Muslims.

Voodoo Economics was represented under the Opinion page A19 with “Trump’s Tax Plan Would Spur Growth” – A Consumption levy could generate a GDP gain of between 2.5% and 4.5%

A nebulous aim to favor a return to old energy dependence is on same page under the title:
“Remake the Paris Climate Deal to Promote U.S. Energy.” A place at the table would let Trump counter Chinese predation and European unrealism.

The Editorial on page A19 is the least enthusiastic article of Macron’s achievements in yesterday’s France presidential elections. “The French center held barely.
If Mr. Macron fails to deliver faster growth, France may not be so lucky the net time.
The reality just passed the writer – the fact the French did not like to get an American outcome!

Page A9 is even more worrisome – seemingly intentional – with columns: “Macron Clashes With World Rivals” and “Le Pen Grows in Stature.” Really?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 8th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Washington Post – May 8, 2017 – Today’s WorldView: Macron defeated Le Pen in France’s presidential election. Here’s what happens next.

 mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?shva=1…

————-

And from: Andy Borowitz, the New York Times best-selling author of “The 50 Funniest American Writers,” and a comedian who has written for The New Yorker since 1998. He writes the Borowitz Report, a satirical column on the news, for newyorker.com.

SATIRE FROM THE BOROWITZ REPORT, The New Yorker.
FRENCH ANNOYINGLY RETAIN RIGHT TO CLAIM INTELLECTUAL SUPERIORITY OVER AMERICANS

 www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-…

——————————————————

From the EUobserver:

ANALYSIS Macron, a new French-European monarch

 euobserver.com/beyond-brussels/1…

TODAYThe new French president mixed republican pomp and European faith in his victory celebration. But to succeed, he will have to start a revolution.

—-

EU relieved by Macron’s win

 euobserver.com/political/137813

TODAYEU leaders saw Macron’s victory as a blow against nationalism and Russian meddling, but one in three French voters still picked the far right.

—-

Macron wins French presidency

 euobserver.com/elections/137812:

The centrist pro-EU candidate easily beat far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, with 66.06 percent of the vote against 33.94 percent.

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The Trump – Le Pen relationship as per Los Angeles Times.

 www.latimes.com/politics/washingt…

 www.latimes.com/world/europe/la-f…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 6th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

NEWS
EU Official: Hungarian PM’s Crusade Against George Soros Is Anti-Semitic

May 5, 2017 By JTA

(JTA) — A leading official in the European Commission — one of the European Union’s governing bodies — implied that efforts by Hungary’s prime minister to shut down a university founded by George Soros are anti-Semitic.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban has long harbored animosity toward Soros, a Hungarian-born Jewish financier who has donated millions of dollars to liberal causes. Orban is now defending controversial legislation that many see as an attempt to shut down Central European University, a highly respected university Soros founded in 1991.

Orban told the European Parliament on Wednesday that Soros is an “American financial speculator attacking Hungary” who has “destroyed the lives of millions of Europeans.”

The following day, European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmerman, a center-left Dutch politician, agreed when asked if he thought Orban’s comments sounded anti-Semitic.

“I understood that exactly the same way and was appalled,” Timmerman said, according to Euractiv.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto called on Timmerman to resign for his assertion.

Hundreds of academics around the world have protested Orban’s legislation, which are amendments to the Hungarian National Higher Education Act. The fight is seen as a battle between Orban’s nationalist priorities and Soros’ “open society” outlook.

Read more: forward.com/fast-forward/371121/e…

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Former Anti-Semitism Envoys Urge Trump To Fill Position

May 5, 2017 By JTA

wikipedia

(JTA) — Four previous U.S. envoys to fight anti-Semitism and promote religious freedom called on President Donald Trump to fill the two positions, which are currently empty.

The letter, sent by the Lantos Foundation, noted “spreading anti-Semitism both at home and abroad” and persecution of religious minorities in the Middle East and Asia.

The signatories include two former envoys for international religious freedom, Robert Seiple and Rabbi David Saperstein, the former director of the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center; the two previous envoys for combating anti-Semitism, Hannah Rosenthal and Ira Forman; and the president of the Lantos Foundation and former chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Katrina Lantos Swett.

“The perilous state of religious freedom around the globe confirms the wisdom of America’s leaders in creating a legal framework for addressing these abuses and ensuring that our foreign policy remains focused on protecting and advancing these fundamental rights,” read the letter sent Tuesday by the human rights-focused nonprofit.

There have been conflicting reports as to whether Trump will fill the anti-Semitism envoy position, but in April, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement to JTA that the Trump administration would appoint someone to serve in the role.

Read more: forward.com/fast-forward/371119/f…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 29th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From the list of mportant News in The New York Times of Tuesday April 25, 2017:

• The middle class grew in Western Europe even as it shrank in the U.S. over the last two decades, according to a new study.

• The Spanish and Brazilian governments plan an undersea fiber optic cable in the Atlantic Ocean, to improve internet speed for both sides and route traffic outside the reach of U.S. intelligence agencies.

• Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and Ivanka Trump, the U.S. president’s daughter and adviser, will share a stage at the W20 Summit in Berlin today. [Politico]

• U.S. embassies posted, but later removed, an article praising President Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, Fla., Mar-a-Lago. [The New York Times]

ECONOMY

Middle Class Contracted in U.S. Over 2 Decades, Study Finds
By NELSON D. SCHWARTZAPRIL 24, 2017
Continue reading the main storyShare This Page

U.S. Steel’s Granite City Works in Illinois – the plant was idled in 2015. Some displaced employees found new work, but often it paid much less than their jobs at the mill had, forcing them to adjust. “I’ve had to rethink my whole life to make ends meet on what I’m now making,” Mike McCabe, a former U.S. Steel worker, said. Credit Luke Sharrett for The New York Times
Mike McCabe’s neighbors in rural Gillespie, Ill., consider him lucky. After being out of work for a year, he landed a job in January making cardboard boxes at a nearby Georgia-Pacific plant for $19.60 an hour.

He would agree with them, were it not for the fact that his previous job in a steel mill near St. Louis paid $28 an hour. “I’ve had to rethink my whole life to make ends meet on what I’m now making,” Mr. McCabe said. “The middle class is struggling for sure, and almost anybody in my position will tell you that.”

Middle-class Americans have fared worse in many ways than their counterparts in economically advanced countries in Western Europe in recent decades, according to a study released Monday by the Pew Research Center.

What is more, as Mr. McCabe’s experience suggests, the authors of the Pew study found a broader contraction of the American middle class, even as the ranks of the poor and the rich have grown.

Where Trump Sees Economic ‘Disaster,’ Experts See Something More Complex JAN. 5, 2017

INCOMES AND OUTCOMES
The Economic Expansion Is Helping the Middle Class, Finally SEPT. 13, 2016

Middle-Income Jobs Finally Show Signs of a Rebound AUG. 18, 2016

A SHIFTING MIDDLE
Middle Class, but Feeling Economically Insecure APRIL 10, 2015

“Compared with the Western European experience, the adult population in the U.S. is more economically divided,” said Rakesh Kochhar, associate director for research at Pew. “It is more hollowed out in the middle. This speaks to the higher level of income inequality in the United States.”

For example, between 1991 and 2010, the proportion of adults in middle-income households fell to 59 percent from 62 percent, while it rose to 67 percent from 61 percent over the same period in Britain and to 74 percent from 72 percent in France.

Households that earned from two-thirds to double the national median income were defined as middle income in the Pew study; in the United States that translated into annual income of $35,294 to $105,881, after taxes, in 2010.

A shrinking middle class is not necessarily cause for alarm, if the reason for the contraction is that more people are moving up the income ladder, said David Autor, a professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The proportion at the top did rise, but so did the proportion at the bottom, rising to 26 percent from 25 percent. That is much more worrisome, said Mr. Autor, who was not involved with the Pew study.

Moreover, the middle-income group was smaller — and the groups at either extreme larger — in the United States than in any of the 11 Western European countries studied.

And incomes in the middle rose faster in Europe than they did in the United States, according to Pew. Median incomes in the middle tier grew by 9 percent in the United States between 1991 and 2010, compared with a 25 percent gain in Denmark and a 35 percent increase in Britain.

The United States, including the middle class, has a higher median income than nearly all of Europe, even if the Continent is catching up. The median household income in the United States was $52,941 after taxes in 2010, compared with $41,047 in Germany and $41,076 in France.

And while inequality may be widening, the proportion of households in the upper-income strata rose to 15 percent from 13 percent.

“Financially, the U.S. remains well ahead of the countries in Europe,” Mr. Kochhar said. “The difference is how incomes have evolved, and they are catching up.”

Although the cutoff of the study, 2010, may have highlighted weak income gains because it was in the immediate aftermath of the Great Recession, he said that was not enough to alter the study’s findings.

“It’s a clear trend that the middle class in the U.S. is shrinking and not keeping up financially with the upper-income group,” he said. “There is an aura of redistribution of income from middle income to upper income.”
[and we note this predates Trump – and we must add that it helped create Trump – the study in our opinio does not do full justice to the numbers it came up with.]

The study acknowledges that “middle class” can connote more than just income — like a college education, white-collar work, economic security, homeownership or even self-image — but for the purposes of the study, it was defined by income.

Whether in Europe or the United States, technological change and globalization mean that people who can adapt and learn new skills can reap bigger rewards, Mr. Kochhar said.

Since founding LaSalle Network, a staffing company based in Chicago, with two employees nearly 20 years ago, Tom Gimbel has watched revenues grow to a projected $70 million this year.

“I know a lot of people who have done much better in the last five years,” he said. “I have people working for me who made $35,000 to $60,000 a few years ago and are earning $60,000 to $150,000 now.”

Mr. Gimbel, who grew up in a comfortable Chicago suburb, has seen his own fortunes improve as well. “We didn’t want for anything, but my dad wasn’t rolling in money,” he said. “I’ve succeeded beyond where my parents were.”

On both sides of the Atlantic, the pressure on the middle class is translating into frustration with the political establishment and distrust of the elites.

Like his father and uncle, Mr. McCabe worked at the U.S. Steel mill in Granite City, Ill. But after the plant was idled in late 2015, he looked for a new job rather than waiting to be called back if the economy improved.

As a result, Mr. McCabe voted for Donald J. Trump in the presidential election last year, even though he grew up in what he calls a staunchly Democratic home. “My dad is probably rolling over in his grave,” he said.

“But I liked Trump’s message that he was going to help the middle class and get the jobs back,” Mr. McCabe said. “I was amazed that he won, and sat up all night watching.”

“You can only wait so long, and your unemployment runs out and you run out of choices,” he added. “I’m divorced with no kids. For people with kids, I can only imagine how tough they got it.”


Spain, Brazil plan subsea fiber optic cable by 2019

Reuters

SAO PAULO, April 24 (Reuters) – The Spanish and Brazilian governments have teamed up to lay an undersea cable in the Atlantic Ocean to offer fast online and cloud services to citizens of both countries by 2019, underscoring efforts to rout communications outside North America.

The EllaLink subsea cable will connect to data centers in Madrid and São Paulo, as well as in Lisbon, using shielded fiber rings, officials said on Monday. The cable will also connect the archipelagoes of Madeira, Spain’s Canary Islands and Africa’s Cape Verde along the route, they added.

At an event in São Paulo, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the venture to build the first subsea fiber optic cable linking Europe to Brazil should help improve data security and privacy by routing calls and internet navigation outside the reach of the United States.

The idea gained traction almost four years after former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and other officials were target of personal and economic espionage by U.S. intelligence agencies.

Documents leaked by former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden in 2013 showed the U.S. National Security Agency had tapped Rousseff’s telephone calls and those of millions of other Brazilians.

The 9,200 km-long (5,700-mile), 72-terabytes-per-second- capacity subsea cable is about seven times the size of existing communications capacity between Latin America and the rest of the world, said Alfonso Gajate, president of EulaLink, one of the partners in the venture. No cost estimates were provided.

The only existing direct link between Europe and South America is a 20-Gb copper cable laid in 1999 by a consortium of voice operators. (Reporting by Brad Haynes; Writing by Guillermo Parra-Bernal; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 22nd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Bertelsmann Stiftung at PRESSE CLUB CONCORDIA, Bankgasse 8, 1010 Vienna.

TUESDAY APRIL 25, 2017, 11:00-14:00

with Academics originally from Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Nigeria, Sudan.

In 2015 – one million refugees to europe; in 2016 – 300,000; in 2017 – what now?

TURKEY IS A SPECIAL CASE – Many of their Austrian Residents and Citizens are now lining up
at the Turkish government representations to turn back their Turkish Passports and renouncing their Turkish Citizenship. This in order to avoid the Stigma of dual citizenship that
Mr. Erdogan forced theM into by campaigning among them for his intent to undo democracy in his country. They voted for him forgetting that he became persona non grata in Europe and so will they.

see:

’Escaping the escape – Europe and the refugee crisis’
Tuesday, 25 April 2017, 11:00-14:00 hrs
Bertelsmann Stiftung in cooperation with The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (wiiw)
Location:
Presseclub Concordia Bankgasse 8
1010 Vienna
In 2015, more than one million refugees and migrants came to Europe, in 2016 nearly 300,000. How many will enter in 2017? What can we, in Europe, expect with wars and conflicts continuing and driving people from our neighbourhood to European shores? What is the situation in the source and transit countries of refugees and migrants that are most affected? How can the life of refugees, migrants and host communities be improved?
Listen to and debate with experts from Afghanistan, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Libya, Sudan and Nigeria: what solutions for the humanitarian migration crisis do they recommend? What are their proposals for EU actors to improve European policies?
Be our guest and meet
Mariam Safi, Afghanistan, founding director of the Organization for Policy Research and Development Studies (DROPS);
Dane Taleski, FYROM, adjunct professor at the South East European University in T etovo/Skopje;
Zakariya El Zaidy, Libya, protection team leader for the Danish Refugee Council in Libya; J. Shola Omotola, Nigeria, professor of Political Science at the Federal University Oye
Ekiti in Nigeria; and
Amira Ahmed Mohamed, Sudan, assistant professor at the Department of International Development and Social Change at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.
We will take this opportunity to launch a new Bertelsmann Stiftung publication
’Escaping the Escape – Toward solutions for the humanitarian migration crisis’
Please register for the event.

AND FOR THE ERDOGAN IMPOSED PROBLEM OF THE AUSTRIAN TURKS:

 www.krone.at/oesterreich/zweitpas…

Zweitpass zurück! Türken stürmen nun die Konsulate
Angst vor Strafen
21.04.2017, 19:57
Neuer Wirbel um illegale Doppelstaatsbürger: Die heimischen Konsulate werden auch nach dem Ende des türkischen Verfassungsreferendums von Austro-Türken gestürmt – diesmal allerdings nicht wegen eines “Ja” zur umstrittenen Reform von Präsident Recep Tayyip Erdogan, sondern um verbotene Zweitpässe abzugeben! Offenbar geht die Angst vor Strafen um …

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 21st, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Thousands to march in defFence of science

By ALEKSANDRA ERIKSSON, THE EUOBSERVER

BRUSSELS, April 21, 2017

Thousands of people in hundreds of places worldwide will take to the streets in support for science on Earth Day, taking place this year on Saturday (22 April), in an event underlining the difficult relationship between science and politics.

The idea of a global March of Science developed shortly after the inauguration of US president Donald Trump in January, amid fears that his term would be marked by disregard for facts and research.

.
Some 517 rallies have been registered so far, with the main one taking place in Washington.

But Calum MacKichan, a Scotsman who organises the march in Brussels, said the goal was much broader than just an anti-Trump protest.

“We want to celebrate science and the role it plays in everyday lives, protect facts and promote dialogue between the scientific community and the public,” MacKichan said at a press event on Thursday (20 April).

Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, a Belgian professor who is the former vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and Bas Eickhout, a Dutch MEP for the Green group, were also present at the gathering.

They said there was need for scientists to play a wider role in public life, also on this side of the Atlantic.


Van Ypersele welcomed that Earth Day’s theme this year is climate literacy, and said scientists should be in broader dialogue with both the public and politicians.


Eickhout, who trained as a chemist and worked as a climate change researcher at the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, said he entered politics “out of frustration that politicians made so little with science”.


“We are pointing fingers at Trump, but we should also point them at ourselves,” he added.


Politicians are dependent on research if they are to make good decisions, but many scientists are afraid of actively providing information to politicians, Eickhout said.

“They fear it makes them into lobbyists. But I don’t think it’s lobbying what you are doing, it’s about informing decision-makers throughout the legislative process,” he said.

This would help to strengthen EU policies, he said.

The European Commission, since 2001, has been conducting impact assessments for all major legislative proposals, covering the potential economic, social and environmental benefits and costs of each proposed policy.

But Eickhout said the assessments were not as objective as one would think. Rather, impact assessments usually portray the commission’s preferred scenario as the best option.

“If I was the commission, I would do the same, so I don’t blame them for this. But I blame them for claiming that the assessments are neutral, when they in fact are designed to fit the political interests of those that commanded them,” Eickhout said.


Trump’s actions could seem like a golden opportunity for green parties, but Eickhout wasn’t so sure.

“If you really want to get policies off the ground you need a broader political basis. I fear that in Europe, climate sceptics, who had a sleeping existence, are now waking up again. They see Trump’s election as an opportunity,” the Dutch MEP said.

The new US president has said the concept of global warming was made by the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing less competitive.

Van Ypersele said, however, that Trump has also shown signs he believed in climate change.

In 2009, Trump had signed a full-page advertisement in The New York Times calling for “meaningful and effective measures to combat climate change”, just before president Barack Obama departed for the climate summit in Copenhagen.

His organisation has also used the term “global warming and its effects” when applying for a permit to build protection against coastal erosion for his golf course in Ireland.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 20th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

APRIL 19, 2017
BASED ON THE UNPARALLELED FAREED ZAKARIA’S COLLECTION OF NEWS.


Admit it, Turkey Isn’t Getting in the EU: Becker


Turkey’s referendum should be the final nail in the coffin of the accession process for EU membership, writes Markus Becker for Spiegel Online.

“One popular counter argument is that the EU will lose any of the influence it has in Ankara by breaking off negotiations,” Becker writes. “But where was that influence in 2013 when Erdogan beat down the protests in Gezi Park? Where was it when Erdogan deliberately escalated the conflict with the Kurds as part of a domestic power play? And where was that EU influence when, right after last summer’s military coup attempt, Erdogan had tens of thousands of people rounded up and thrown into jail, including numerous journalists?”

Trump’s troubling call. Fareed says President Trump’s decision to call Erdogan to congratulate him on his referendum victory is a troubling sign at a time when Turkey is facing a “serious descent into authoritarianism.”

“Since the 1930s, Turkey was the one Muslim Middle Eastern country that had established a kind of secular liberal democracy. Now that seems to be unraveling, and yet President Trump’s response was to congratulate the strongman,” Fareed says.

“Contrast that with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who with her foreign minister issued a joint statement basically suggesting to Erdogan that ‘You won very narrowly. You really need to pay attention to the opposition. You need to pay heed to minority rights.’

“So what we have now is a situation where Germany’s chancellor has become the leading proponent of human rights and democracy and liberal constitutionalism, while the President of the United States is just saying ‘way to go.’ This is true for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. It’s true for Erdogan. For Rodrigo Duterte and his drug war in the Philippines.

“It’s disturbing because the great victory of the United States in foreign policy, in a broad sense, over the last six or seven decades has been to spread stability, along with a certain set of values. But here you have those unraveling and the President of the United States is cheering him on.”

AND:

Trump’s “Militarization of U.S. Foreign Policy”

President Trump’s recent foreign policy reversals “don’t address one of his administration’s most misguided impulses: The militarization of U.S. foreign policy,” writes James Gibney for Bloomberg View.

“It’s well and good to send a carrier task force…But without U.S. ambassadors in South Korea and Japan, not to mention an assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, the U.S. can’t do the kind of daily consultations and hand-holding needed to reassure allies whose civilian populations would bear the brunt of any North Korean retaliation,” Gibney says.

“…The influence of senior advisers steeped in the region might also have prevented diplomatic gaffes, such as Trump’s parroting of Xi’s line that Korea was once part of China.”


Don’t Panic About North Korean Nukes: Boot


The United States shouldn’t panic about North Korea acquiring nuclear weapons any more than it did China and Russia doing so, suggests Max Boot in Commentary. After all, unlike some other regimes, Kim Jong Un “does not aim to dominate his neighbors. All he wants to do is to survive.”

“By all means, the U.S. should step up sanctions, including secondary sanctions on Chinese companies doing business with the criminal regime in Pyongyang. But there is no overwhelming imperative to go beyond that and risk war, even if North Korea finally fields an ICBM with a nuclear warhead capable of reaching Washington,” Boot says.

AND:

Emirates Airline Cuts Flights To U.S., Citing Trump’s Security Rules

l
April 19, 2017


Emirates Airline says it is reducing its number of U.S.-bound flights because security restrictions imposed by the Trump administration have weakened demand in Middle East countries.

The Dubai-based carrier will pare back flights to five of the 12 U.S. cities it serves. Flights to Boston, Seattle and Los Angeles will be reduced from twice to once daily, and in Florida, daily service to Orlando and Ft. Lauderdale will shrink to five flights a week.

Overall, it’s a reduction of 25 flights per week for the airline, according to The Associated Press.

After Travel Ban, Airlines Scramble To Reroute Crew Members.

BUSINESS
After Travel Ban, Airlines Scramble To Reroute Crew Members

“The recent actions taken by the U.S. government relating to the issuance of entry visas, heightened security vetting, and restrictions on electronic devices in aircraft cabins, have had a direct impact on consumer interest and demand for air travel into the U.S,” Emirates said in a statement announcing the decision.


Last month, the Trump administration announced that passengers on direct flights to the U.S. from eight majority-Muslim countries — Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — must now place electronic devices such as laptops, tablets and cameras in checked baggage.


Those restrictions came on the heels of President Trump’s controversial executive orders in January and early March seeking to temporarily halt travel from several other mostly Muslim nations. Both orders were halted by the courts.

The Dubai International Airport in the UAE, which is Emirates’ hub, is a major transit point for nationals of countries listed in Trump’s travel bans, The Associated Press reports.


THESE ARE CLEARLY UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES FOR TRUMP WHO AS PRESIDENT HAS NOW THE CHANCE AT A NOBEL PRIZE FOR SETTLING THE MIDDLE EAST CANYON. THIS ROAD TO SCANDINAVIA ALSO GOES VIA THE EMIRATES – DUBAI AND ABU-DHABI AND IS BASED ON FULL COOPERATION OF THE SAUDIS.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 18th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

China. Serve the People.

25.4.2017, 19 – 21 Uhr, Oesterreichische Kontrollbank (Reitersaal), Strauchgasse 3, 1010 Wien, Anmeldung bei:  neuwirth at vidc.org oder  bertrams at vidc.org


China. Serve the People.

Background:

The economic rise of China was impressive. Within three decades, approximately 350 million people escaped from extreme poverty. Some commentators predicted China’s rise to an economic and world power and hoped that this will bring less hierarchical global economic relationships, amongst other things due to China’s importance as an emerging donor in international development cooperation. In 2013, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China decided to stimulate domestic demand and be less dependent on exports. On several occasions, the Central Committee announced its intention to promote a socially balanced economic development.

It appears that these expectations have not been met, at least for now. Economic growth has come down and domestic demand is still slow. Environmental problems and the inequality between regions and social groups have increased enormously. Poor working conditions for factory workers in the export processing zones and violations of basic rights dominate media reports on China.

What are the reasons for the stagnant growth and will China implement the announced structural reforms? What is the role of foreign investment, what are the effects of the country’s economic relations with the US? What is the social, economic and political impact of labor migration and the ongoing struggles for higher wages, safety measures and social benefits?


Ho-fung Hung and Chun-Yi Lee will analyze the current developments in China against the backdrop of closely interlinked capital and labor relations. They will also look at China’s political and economic actors and their interests.

Ho-fung Hung

is Associate Professor in Political Economy at the Sociology Department at Johns Hopkins University. His research interests lie in economic history and global political economic analyses, focusing on China’s economic development. His analyses are published regularly in academic journals and are featured in the media. Selected publications: The China Boom: Why China Will Not Rule the World (2015) and Protest with Chinese Characteristics: Demonstrations, Riots, and Petitions in the Mid-Qing Dynasty (2011), both published by Columbia University Press.

Chun-Yi Lee

lectures at the School of Politics and International Relations (SPIR) at the University of Nottingham. Her research focuses on multinational investment strategies in China and Chinese investments abroad, labor rights and industrial relations. In her recent research project she investigated Chinese labor in the global economy and the influence of foreign direct investment on workers’ rights. Her book, Taiwanese Businessmen or Chinese Security Asset was published by Routledge in 2011.

Karin Fischer

is the head of the Politics and Development Research Department at the Institute of Sociology at Linz University as well as a consultant to the VIDC. She is the chairwoman of the Mattersburg Circle for Development Studies at Austrian Universities.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 11th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Sehr geehrte Solarstammtischbesucherinnen und Solarstammtischbesucher!

“Batterien für die Energiewende” lautet das Thema unseres Solarstammtisches von EUROSOLAR AUSTRIA am 20.04.2017 ab 18:30 Uhr.

Uhrzeit: ab 18:30 Uhr

Tagesthema: Batteriespeicher für die Energiewende

Referent: Simon Noringbauer, Technischer Berater im Außendienst für OÖ/NÖ/W und Bgl., Fronius International GmbH

Moderation: Solarstammtisch-Koordinator

Ort: A-1060 Wien, Wallgasse 32, Restaurant “Zum Hagenthaler”; www.hagenthaler.at

Erreichbarkeit: www.wienerlinien.at, Westbahnhof U-Bahn U3, U6, Straßenbahn 6, 18 (Station “Mariahilfer Gürtel” vis a vis Westbahnhof 5 Minuten zu Fuß vom Westbahnhof)

TITEL UND REFERENTENVORSCHLÄGE FÜR ZUKÜNFTIGE SOLARSTAMMTISCHE BITTE SENDEN AN:  info at eurosolar.at

BITTE NICHT VERGESSEN, BITTE POTENZIELLE KANDIDATEN INFORMIEREN:

Verleihung der EUROPÄISCHEN SOLARPREISE findet in Wien statt. Einreichungen möglich unter: www.eurosolar.de/de/index.php/sol…
Verleihung der ÖSTERREICHISCHEN SOLARPREISE am 30.09.2017 in Krumpendorf am Wörthersee. Einreichung unter: www.eurosolar.at/index.php/de/akt…

TERMINE UNTER bzw. EINGEBEN:

 www.oekonews.at/?mdoc_id=1112124

EUROSOLAR AUSTRIA auf Facebook: www.facebook.com/eurosolaraustri…

FALTER: Artikel über die OMV, sehr zu empfehlen

Sonnige Grüße und frohe Ostern wünscht

René Bolz

Solarstammtisch-Koordinator EUROSOLAR AUSTRIA

www.eurosolar.at

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