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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 31st, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The following is an article about how bad for the people – all people – it will be if the US Pharmaceutical Industry gets its way and manages to write the rules of the so called Trans-Pacific Partnership (T.P.P.) so they outlaw trade in generic drugs – even outlaw their production! TPP has thus the potential of harming poorer counties citizens by putting rains of law into Washington’s hands – not just on drugs, but on most environmental and labor laws as well.

We re-post the article with Europe in mind and the debate in EU countries if to let in the American Trojan Horse which is painted as a US-EU potential Free Trade Partnership – the the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T.T.I.P.). Our opinion is clear – DON’T TOUCH IT.

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The Opinion Pages | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR


Don’t Trade Away Our Health

By JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ – The New York Tines Op-Ed, January 30, 2015


A secretive group met behind closed doors in New York this week. What they decided may lead to higher drug prices for you and hundreds of millions around the world.

Representatives from the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries convened to decide the future of their trade relations in the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership (T.P.P.). Powerful companies appear to have been given influence over the proceedings, even as full access is withheld from many government officials from the partnership countries.

Among the topics negotiators have considered are some of the most contentious T.P.P. provisions — those relating to intellectual property rights. And we’re not talking just about music downloads and pirated DVDs. These rules could help big pharmaceutical companies maintain or increase their monopoly profits on brand-name drugs.


The secrecy of the T.P.P. negotiations makes them maddeningly opaque and hard to discuss. But we can get a pretty good idea of what’s happening, based on documents obtained by WikiLeaks from past meetings (they began in 2010), what we know of American influence in other trade agreements, and what others and myself have gleaned from talking to negotiators.

Trade agreements are negotiated by the office of the United States Trade Representative, supposedly on behalf of the American people. Historically, though, the trade representative’s office has aligned itself with corporate interests. If big pharmaceutical companies hold sway — as the leaked documents indicate they do — the T.P.P. could block cheaper generic drugs from the market. Big Pharma’s profits would rise, at the expense of the health of patients and the budgets of consumers and governments.

There are two ways the office of the trade representative can use the T.P.P. to maintain or raise drug prices and profits.

The first is to restrict competition from generics. It’s axiomatic that more competition means lower prices. When companies have to fight for customers, they end up cutting their prices. When a patent expires, any company can enter the market with a generic version of a drug. The differences in prices between brand-name and generic drugs are mind- and budget-blowing. Just the availability of generics drives prices down: In generics-friendly India, for example, Gilead Sciences, which makes an effective hepatitis-C drug, recently announced that it would sell the drug for a little more than 1 percent of the $84,000 it charges here.

That’s why, since the United States opened up its domestic market to generics in 1984, they have grown from 19 percent of prescriptions to 86 percent, by some accounts saving the United States government, consumers and employers more than $100 billion a year. Drug companies stand to gain handsomely if the T.P.P. limits the sale of generics.


The second strategy is to undermine government regulation of drug prices. More competition is not the only way to keep down the prices of essential goods and services. Governments can also directly restrain prices through law, or effectively restrain them by denying reimbursement to patients for “overpriced” drugs — thus encouraging companies to bring down their prices to approved levels. These regulatory approaches are especially important in markets where competition is limited, as it is in the drug market. If the United States Trade Representative gets its way, the T.P.P. will limit the ability of partner countries to restrict prices. And the pharmaceutical companies surely hope the “standard” they help set in this agreement will become global — for example, by becoming the starting point for United States negotiations with the European Union over the same issues.

Americans might shrug at the prospect of soaring drug prices around the world. After all, the United States already allows drug companies to charge what they want. But that doesn’t mean we might not want to change things someday. Here again, the T.P.P. has us cornered: Trade agreements, and in particular individual provisions within them, are typically far more difficult to alter or repeal than domestic laws.

Of course, pharmaceutical companies claim they need to charge high prices to fund their research and development. This just isn’t so. For one thing, drug companies spend more on marketing and advertising than on new ideas. Overly restrictive intellectual property rights actually slow new discoveries, by making it more difficult for scientists to build on the research of others and by choking off the exchange of ideas that is critical to innovation. As it is, most of the important innovations come out of our universities and research centers, like the National Institutes of Health, funded by government and foundations.

The efforts to raise drug prices in the T.P.P. take us in the wrong direction. The whole world may come to pay a price in the form of worse health and unnecessary deaths.

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Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics, a professor at Columbia and a former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, is the author of “The Price of Inequality.”

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A version of this op-ed appears in print on January 31, 2015, on page A19 of the New York edition with the headline: Don’t Trade Away Our Health.

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Some of the FIRST COMMENTS:

Kodali 11 minutes ago
Big Pharmaceutical companies try to do what is in their interests. But, US Trade representative is representing the people of the United…

NKB 11 minutes ago
Why so much commentary before nothing is clear about the actual content of the TPP? Although the negotiations are secret right now, will the…

Gerald 13 minutes ago
Are Chicago type “PAY TO PLAY” taxpayer-dollar-paid-for “Solyndra” loans and/or “CGI Federal” type “Pay to Play” no-bid US government…

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THE NEW YORK TIMES ANSWERS:

We can’t be sure which of these features have made it through this week’s negotiations. What’s clear is that the overall thrust of the intellectual property section of the T.P.P. is for less competition and higher drug prices. The effects will go beyond the 12 T.P.P. countries. Barriers to generics in the Pacific will put pressure on producers of such drugs in other countries, like India, as well.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 29th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

WORK IN PROGRESS


With the US President out-of the country – courting the Saudis in Riyadh – the US East Coast experienced January 27 2015 winter storm Juno that while sparing New York City was nevertheless the most expensive storm in US history thanks in part to the anticipatory moves taken by the region’s mayors and Governors and the fact that it did bury Boston under a heavy layer of snow.

At the UN that date was bracketed in between two very important event. The one on Monday January 26th that was held as scheduled – right before the shut-down of the UN for Juno’s Tuesday the 27. The other event was supposed to be held on Tuesday the 27 Which was the Holocaust Memorial Day HMD, but was postponed for Wednesday the 28th – the day the UN gates were opened again.

We present here the two reports by Irith Jawetz who participated at the two events at the UN.


“Staying together – Dialogue in the Face of Extremism”

This event was the last one before the United Nations shut down because of the approaching of what was described as the “Blizzard of the Century” in New York City. When we left the building at 3 p.m. we were led out through the basement, since the main entrance and exit doors were already shut down. The UN expects to reopen again on Wednesday, January 28th. The Holocaust Memorial Ceremony, originally scheduled for Tuesday, January 27th, 2015 was postponed for Wednesday, January 28th due to the inclement weather.

It was a High-level Panel on “Staying Together – Dialogue in the Face of Violent Extremism” and took place on Monday 26 January 2015, 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm at the Trusteeship Council, UN Headquarters

The event was co sponsored by The Permanent Missions of Sweden and Indonesia to the United Nations.
It was chaired and moderates by Ghida Fakhry who did an outstanding job. Ms. Fakhri is a Lebanese broadcast journalist who has been one of the primary broadcasters for the news Al Jazeera English since its launch, and is currently based at the channel’s main broadcast center in Doha, Qatar.

Opening Remarks were given by H.E. Ms. Margot Wallström, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sweden who welcomes everybody and thanked us all for attending the event in spite of the weather. She started by quoting Mahatma Gandhi who said ” There is no way to Peace – Peace is the way” . Sweden has had its problems since it has taken in refugees from Iraq, and now Syria, but she believes that dialogue between ethnic groups and religious leaders is the right way to combat those problems. Sweden encourages dialogue between leaders of the Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders.

The panel included:

H.E. Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations;
H.R.H. Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights;
H.E. Ms. Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO;
H.E. Mr. Iyad Amin Madani, Secretary-General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC);
H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilisations (UNAoC);
Dr. Siti Ruhaini Dzuhayatin, representative of the Indonesian civil society;
Paul Berman the New York essayist;

Closing Remarks were given by H.E. Mr. Desra Percaya, Permanent Representative, Indonesia

Mr. Jan Eliasson stressed that we have to stay cool and find the root causes to the problem of extremism. It is important to stop recruitment of new extremists, we have to isolate extremists and the job should be done by everybody who has some power, i.e. political leaders, religious leaders, parents, Grandparents, teachers, community leaders, whoever comes in touch with the public. It should be a wake up call.

Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, who told us that she was marching on that march in Paris, stressed the importance of educating your children and young adults about Cultural diversity and global citizenship. She stressed that the most influential people would be the religious leaders. Their roles are important.


H.R.H. Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stressed the idea that violence and extremism are consequence of circumstances. Those people believe that their actions are justified because the circumstances created them. Torture and killing are wrong but necessary. Just like spying is wrong but necessary. What bothers him that there are no real protests in the Arab world against extremists.

Mr. Paul Berman introduced a new word: Islamism. By Islamism he does not mean Islam, or Islamists, but Islamism which is just like Fascism, Nazism, Stalinism. People who practice Islamism believe in conspiracy theory, the western world is against them, Zionism is against them, and he also stressed that those elements must be fought by all means.

The Consensus of the speakers was that recent acts of violent extremism around the world remind us that dialogue is more important than ever. We must stay together, united against those divisive forces which challenge the diversity and core values of our societies. A multifaceted and comprehensive approach is key. The counter-narrative to polarisation is inclusive participation.

This high-level event aims to give new impetus to the promotion of a culture of peace, dignity and respect for human rights, drawing on existing initiatives of the United Nations. Here, the UN Alliance of Civilizations and UNESCO’s “Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures” afford examples of intercultural confidence-building in practice. How can we together step up efforts to strengthen the voices of moderation? Can we, jointly, find new ways to co-operate in order to counter violent extremism whilst safeguarding a culture of dialogue?

The event was informative, and one can only hope that the ideas expressed will not stay only on paper and measures will be implemented.

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2015 International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust.

The International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust is marked every year on January 27th, the date on which Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated in 1945 by Soviet troops. This year’s observance, on the theme ‘Liberty, Life and the Legacy of the Holocaust Survivors,’ coincides with two milestone events: the 70th anniversary of the Second World War’s end and the founding of the UN.

This year the event took place on January 28, 2015 at the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations in New York. It was originally set for Tuesday, January 27th, the correct date, but because of the snow storm on Monday on the East Coast of the United States it was postponed for Wednesday.

The Hall was crowded and the first rows were reserved for holocaust survivors.

Ther motto of the event was “Liberty, Life and the Legacy of the Holocaust survivors.”


Opening remarks were delivered by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. He started his speech by greeting the new elected Israeli President H.E. Mr. Reuven Rivlin, and all the holocaust survivors present.

“Anti-Semitism remains a violent reality; Jews continue to be killed solely because they are Jews. Extremism and dehumanization are present across the world, exploited through social media and abetted by sensationalist press coverage. The targets are as diverse as humankind itself,” the Secretary-General said.

“In Europe and elsewhere, Muslims are under attack, the victims of bigotry at the hands of political opportunists and ultra-nationalists. Vulnerable populations everywhere bury their dead and live in fear of further violence.”

“I take heart from counter-demonstrations, rallies and interfaith dialogue. We must all remain on our guard. We must uphold human rights, democratic freedoms and our responsibility to protect people at risk. And we must respond to terrorism and provocation in ways that resolve – instead of multiply – the problem,” he underscored.

“As we remember what was lost in the past, and as we recognize the perils of the present, we know what we must do – and we know we must do it together,” said Mr. Ban .

H.E. Mr. Reuven Rivlin started his speech in English and continued in Hebrew. He explained that the Hebrew language is the language of his parents, his people, and it is befitting that this talk should be delivered in that language.

In his address, Reuven Rivlin recalled the “brutal,” “perverted” extermination of Jews during the Holocaust “in the most horrifying crime ever committed in the history of the human race.” The United Nations rose on the ruins of the Second World War, he said, stressing that the International Day was not just a gesture because the pledge ‘Never again’ was “the very essence of the UN,” and the principle and primary reason for its existence.

However, since the UN was founded, more nations and communities had been slaughtered. “We must ask ourselves honestly: is our struggle – the struggle of the General Assembly against genocide – effective enough?” he said. “Are we shedding too many tears and taking too little action?”

Mr. Rivlin noted that the Convention on Genocide was now 64 years-old but remained a merely “symbolic document” that had not realized its objectives. The international community had a duty to lay down the red lines defining genocide and to make clear that crossing those lines must mean intervention. Humanitarian and moral considerations had to take precedence over economic, political or other interests in the fight against genocide.


“Nations cannot be saved and must not be saved as an afterthought or from considerations of cost-benefit,” Mr. Rivlin said. “Unless the moral fire burns within us, the lessons of the Holocaust will never be learned.”

The General Assembly must act as a determined and unified international community or else risk leaving the ‘Never again’ oath hollow and defiled.

“We must remain silent no longer. We must rise up and take action,” he said.

In his remarks, General Assembly Vice-President Denis Antoine also underscored the importance of drawing lessons from the tragedy of the Holocaust and the need to “pass them on to the present and future generations,” particularly as the world continued to confront instances of violent intolerance and brutal prejudice.

A very remarkable speaker was Youth Advisor Ms. Charlotte Cohen. In September 2013 British Prime Minister David Cameron announced the establishment of a national holocaust Commission in order to ensure that Britain has a permanent and fitting memorial to the holocaust and educational resourced for generations to come. Ms. Cohen won an essay contest on the subject “Why is it so important that we remember the Holocaust and how can we make sure future generations never forget”. Charlotte came to the United Nations to speak on that important day and t stress the need to “never forget”.

Two emotional speeches came from two Holocaust survivors. The first was Mrs. Jona Laks who was nine years old and living with her family in Lodz, Poland, when Hitler invaded Poland. Together with her family she was forced to live under inhuman conditions in the Lodz Ghetto, and in 1944 was transferred to Auschwitz. She and her twin sister were subject to the experiments undertaken by SS Dr. Josef Mengele. She described the horrors she had to endure and there was not one dry eye in the audience. She managed to survive the Death March and ended up in Israel, the sole survivor of her family.

The second survivor was Soviet Army Veteran Mr. Boris Feldman who spoke in Russian. He was born in 1920 in Vinnitskaya Oblast, Ukraine, and was taken by the Nazis to the “Chernevetsloe” ghetto where he remained until March 1944 when the ghetto was liberated by the Soviet Army. Later he joined the Soviet Army and fought as an infantryman in Eastern Europe against the German Army. He was decorated with several military medals.

For the “musical” part of the ceremony we listened to Israeli Grammy Award winning violinist Miri Ben-Ari who co-founded the Gedenk Movement. She explained that the word “Gedenk” means “Remember” in Yiddish. She helped create the non profit organization in 2006 to expand young people’s awareness about the holocaust and antisemitism and its negative consequences in today’s world.

Cantor Shimmy Miller from Congregation Ahavath Torah in Englewood, New Jersey recited El Maleh Racahamim and Ani Ma’amin. He was accompanied by Mr. Daniel Gildar on the Keyboard.

A moving ceremony befitting its motto: “Liberty, Life and the legacy of the Holocaust survivors”.

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Irith Jawetz worked 1972-2010 – for 38 years – as part of the Austrian Government Foreign Service – with Austrian Holocaust survivors that restarted their lives in the United States.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 29th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Can Bolivia Chart a Sustainable Path Away From Capitalism?
Wednesday, 28 January 2015 on Truthout – By Chris Williams and Marcela Olivera, Truthout | News Analysis

FOR THE FU:: ARTICLE PLEASE GO TO:  truth-out.org/news/item/28778-can…

I will post here some excerpts of this very interesting and long article – this with my thinking of the latest changes in Greece
and wondering if rhetoric is true change and how can Greece fare in a capitalist world with management outside its borders but vested interests residing also in the country it
self. Will there be a Greek Pachamama in Europe’s future? Will the Tsipris Greece be the Morales of an ALBA Charge of anti-capitalist rhetoric in Europe?

Bolivia offers a case study on the impact of climate change, people’s resistance to exploitation and racist oppression, and the potential for genuine change from below.


The number of conflicts over natural resource extraction and refining, road building and pipeline construction, and forest and water use have all steadily grown under Morales.

Ruthless extraction of Bolivia’s bountiful natural resources has concentrated the natural and social wealth of the country in a small group at the top of society, and exposed Bolivians to an extreme degree of imperial intrigue and attempted subjugation.

In stark contrast to monoculture farming, several hundred different varieties of potato are grown in the Bolivian Andes, as a resilient subsistence food by 200,000 small-scale farmers.

With the melting of the Andean mountains ice and climate change farmers no longer know how community can grow food because “it now rains at all different times, and it’s drier for longer. This place did not used to be as hot as it is now.”

Higher average temperatures will lead to an increase in evaporation, causing soils to dry out. In turn, drier soils will increase erosion and loss of topsoil, an effect that will be compounded by two other effects of a warmer climate.

But for all of Morales’ rhetorical championing of “buen vivir,” Gudynas believes that the MAS government instead operates more along the lines of a new form of Keynesian neoliberalism, or what he calls “neo-extractivismo.”

And despite a change in official rhetoric, and some welcome redistribution of wealth, Morales’ policies are practically the same as his predecessors’ with respect to natural resource extraction.

“We have lost an opportunity for something based on our self-organization and self-management.”

“The people do not decide; the government decides. Despite the constitution guaranteeing rights for indigenous people and Mother Earth, those policies are not implemented; they are just words.”

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As through so much of its history, the small Andean nation of Bolivia sits at the center of a whirlwind of political, social and climatological questions. Arguably, no other country thus far in the 21st century raises the question of an “exit strategy” from neoliberal capitalism more concretely, and with greater possibility and hope, than Bolivia. That hope is expressed specifically in the ruling party, MAS, or Movement Toward Socialism. The country’s leader, former coca farmer and union organizer Evo Morales – South America’s first indigenous leader since pre-colonial times – was overwhelmingly elected to his third term of office in 2014. Morales has broadly popularized the Quechua term pachamama, which denotes a full commitment to ecological sustainability, and public hopes remain high that he’ll guide the country toward realizing that principle.

Bolivia has seen impressive and consistent economic growth since Morales’ first election victory in 2006, including the establishment of government programs to alleviate poverty and attain the social equity goals promised in his campaign. However, this growth has primarily rested on an expanded and intensified exploitation of the country’s natural resources, principally from fossil fuel production, mining, and the growth of large-scale, mono-crop agriculture and manufacturing.

This economic growth has also created what the Bolivian non-governmental organization CEDLA (Centro de Estudios Para el Desarrollo Laboral y Agrario) calls the rise of a new bourgeoisie comprised of Santa Cruz agriculture producers, traders from the west of the country and small mining producers. The Bolivian government also believes that a new class is emerging, and will become Bolivia’s new dominant group. Carlos Arce, researcher from CEDLA, says in an article in the Bolivian press:

A new type of entrepreneur has emerged from the popular classes. These emerging strata are mostly traders and are also present in the cooperative sectors, especially in mining. This new type of entrepreneur saves more and has a more austere mentality, in the classical Weberian sense. Within the state, representatives of this strata interface with middle-class intellectuals and other sectors of society, seeking to build alliances with small urban and rural producers that respond to the prerogatives of the market.

The so-called “plural economy” institutionalized by the government recognizes the state, communitarian, private and cooperative forms of economic organization. It also puts the state in direct control of the plans for economic development. In other words, the Bolivian people are the owners of the natural resources, but it is the state that administers and industrializes these natural resources.

In Arce’s view, the government exalts this new “emerging bourgeoisie.” The government’s program of a plural economy “facilitates the alliance of these market-driven sectors with key sectors of international capital. This opens the door to transnational corporations and makes permanent their presence.”

In December 2014, the Financial Times reported on the rise of a new indigenous bourgeoisie in El Alto, less constrained by older cultural ties of thrift, and striving for greater wealth, more ostentatious luxury buildings and opulent traditional clothing.

On the other hand, while many journalists and analysts have focused on the accomplishments of the Morales’ government, few have looked at the state of the labor force, unions and labor conditions. Research by local organizations shows that finding secure employment has become very difficult. According to the Bolivian Labor Ministry’s own data just 30 percent of the labor force in Bolivia has a secure and formal job, with almost 70 percent working in the informal sector. These workers have no employment security, which makes people more dependent on welfare protections and programs that have become more elaborate and extensive in recent years.

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Bolivia’s geography is very diverse: The verdant and tropical Amazonian lowlands give way to the austere beauty of the highlands and snow-capped peaks of the Andes that ring the capital, La Paz. Bolivian elevations range from 130 to 6,000 meters above sea level dividing the country into three distinct geographical areas: the high plateau, the Andean valleys and the eastern lowlands.

Given all of these factors, Bolivia offers a case study on the impact of climate change, people’s resistance to exploitation and racist oppression, and the potential for genuine change from below.

Much of that resistance was formed in response to centuries of relentless extraction of the country’s minerals, semi-precious and precious metals, and guano. Following the privatization of Bolivia’s public airline, train system and electric utility, in 1999, the government sold the water and sanitation system of Cochabamba to a transnational consortium. Over the following five months, mass demonstrations and violent confrontations with the police and military forced the government to cancel the contract and keep the water supply in public hands. This popular struggle for public control of water became recognized worldwide as the Cochabamba Water War.

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Marcela Olivera

Marcela Olivera is a water commons organizer based in Cochabamba, Bolivia. After graduating from the Catholic University in Cochabamba, Bolivia, Marcela worked for four years in Cochabamba as the key international liaison for the Coalition for the Defense of Water and Life, the organization that fought and defeated water privatization in Bolivia. Since 2004, she has been developing and consolidating an inter-American citizens’ network on water justice named Red VIDA.
Chris Williams

Chris Williams is an environmental activist and author of Ecology and Socialism: Solutions to Capitalist Ecological Crisis. He is chairman of the science department at Packer Collegiate Institute and adjunct professor at Pace University in the department of chemistry and physical science. His writings have appeared in Z Magazine, Green Left Weekly, Alternet, CommonDreams, ClimateandCapitalism.com, Counterpunch, The Indypendent, Dissident Voice, International Socialist Review, Truthout, Socialist Worker and ZNet. He reported from Fukushima and was a Lannan writer-in-residence in Marfa, Texas. He recently was awarded a Lannan Cultural Freedom Fellowship.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 29th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From the Offices of George Soros:

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

Yesterday, the New York Times carried an op-ed by George Soros and Bernard-Henri Lévy on the remarkable experiment underway in Ukraine. They write, “Maidan’s supporters have moved from opposition to nation building” — launching radical reforms and taking on entrenched state bureaucracy and the business oligarchy. If these reforms are to succeed, the new Ukraine first must survive its ongoing conflict with Russia. To do so, it urgently needs financial assistance from the West.

In today’s New York Times, columnist Thomas Friedman quoted George’s view that, “there is a new Ukraine that is determined to be different from the old Ukraine. … What makes it unique is that it is not only willing to fight but engage in executing a set of radical reforms. It is up against the old Ukraine that has not disappeared … and up against a very determined design by President Putin to destabilize it and destroy it. But it is determined to assert the independence and European orientation of the new Ukraine.”

All best,

Michael Vachon

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Save the New Ukraine
New York Times
George Soros and Bernard-Henri Lévy

A NEW Ukraine was born a year ago in the pro-European protests that helped to drive President Viktor F. Yanukovych from power. And today, the spirit that inspired hundreds of thousands to gather in the Maidan, Kiev’s Independence Square, is stronger than ever, even as it is under direct military assault from Russian forces supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The new Ukraine seeks to become the opposite of the old Ukraine, which was demoralized and riddled with corruption. The transformation has been a rare experiment in participatory democracy; a noble adventure of a people who have rallied to open their nation to modernity, democracy and Europe. And this is just the beginning.

This experiment is remarkable for finding expression not only in defending Ukraine’s territorial integrity from the separatists, but also in constructive work. Maidan’s supporters have moved from opposition to nation building.

Many of those in government and Parliament are volunteers who have given up well-paying jobs to serve their country. Natalie Jaresko, a former investment banker, now works for a few hundred dollars a month as the new finance minister. Volunteers are helping Ukraine’s one million internally displaced people as well as working as advisers to ministers and in local government.

The new Ukraine, however, faces a potent challenge from the old Ukraine. The old Ukraine is solidly entrenched in a state bureaucracy that has worked hand in hand with a business oligarchy. And the reformers are also up against the manifest hostility of Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, who wants at all costs to destabilize Ukraine.

One drawback is that the new Ukraine is a well-kept secret, not just from the rest of the world but also from the Ukrainian public. Radical reforms have been hatched but not yet implemented.

It is instructive to compare Ukraine today with Georgia in 2004. When he became president that year, Mikheil Saakashvili immediately replaced the hated traffic police and removed the roadblocks used to extort bribes from drivers. The public recognized straight away that things had changed for the better.

Unfortunately, Ukraine has not yet found a similar demonstration project. Kiev’s police force is to be restructured, but if you need a driver’s license, you must still pay the same bribe as before.

Mr. Saakashvili was a revolutionary leader who first stamped out corruption but eventually turned it into a state monopoly. By contrast, Ukraine is a participatory democracy that does not rely on a single leader but on checks and balances. Democracies move slowly, but that may prove an advantage in the long run.

The big question is, will there be a long run? Although Russia is in a deepening financial crisis, Mr. Putin appears to have decided that he can destroy the new Ukraine before it can fully establish itself and before an economic downturn destroys his own popularity.

The Russian president is stepping up the military and financial pressure on Ukraine. Over the weekend, the city of Mariupol came under attack from forces that NATO said were backed by Russian troops, undermining the pretense that the separatists are acting on their own.

Ukraine will defend itself militarily, but it urgently needs financial assistance. The immediate need is for $15 billion. But to ensure Ukraine’s survival and encourage private investment, Western powers need to make a political commitment to provide additional sums, depending on the extent of the Russian assault and the success of Ukraine’s reforms.

The reformers, who want to avoid the leakages that were characteristic of the old Ukraine, have expressed their wish to be held accountable for all expenditures. They are passing extensive legislation but also want the International Monetary Fund to go on exercising oversight.

Unfortunately, just as democracies are slow to move, an association of democracies like the European Union is even slower. Mr. Putin is exploiting this.

It is not only the future of Ukraine that’s at stake, but that of the European Union itself. The loss of Ukraine would be an enormous blow; it would empower a Russian alternative to the European Union based on the rule of force rather than the rule of law. But if Europe delivered the financial assistance that Ukraine needs, Mr. Putin would eventually be forced to abandon his aggression. At the moment, he can argue that Russia’s economic troubles are caused by Western hostility, and the Russian public finds his argument convincing.

If, however, Europe is generous with its financial assistance, a stable and prosperous Ukraine will provide an example that makes clear that the blame for Russia’s financial troubles lies with Mr. Putin. The Russian public might then force him to emulate the new Ukraine. Europe’s reward would be a new Russia that has turned from a potent strategic threat into a potential strategic partner. Those are the stakes.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 25th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We find it astonishing how not even the Alternate Media sees the whole picture. The Glenn Greenwald following article is surely a great further contribution to his efforts to open hidden content – but even he missed a more up-to date point – the fact that January 27, 2015 happens to be the date much of Europe commemorates the freeing 70 years ago, January 27, 1945, of the Auschwitz death camp by the Russian Army. Simply put – even at the UN – January 27 is HMD – Holocaust Memorial Day while quite a few Muslim/Islamic States are effectively Holocaust deniers something outlawed in civilized States. I am just not sure where the Saudis present and past stand on this issue.

Many European leaders will be at Auschwitz that day but Putin will not be there. Oh well – he just was not invited by the Poles! Now come the news that President Obama will be in Ryadh! Ryadh of all places? A town where Jews are not allowed even as tourists – in 2015?

We did not condemn President Obama for not going to the Paris reunion of Heads of State after the ISIS/AQAP attacks on that Jewish supermarket and Charlie Hebdo. We felt that he was right to let the Europeans deal with this by themselves – rather then make a token appearance – but Auschwitz is just another matter. It was the US that took on the responsibility to save Europe from itself, and at that time the World at large as well. And that is something that calls for the US participation at highest level at this 70th commemoration that happens to be when the World is threatened again – and this time by Islamic fanatics – and don’t forget it – that started out in Saudi Arabia – and the White House and Congress choices seem all wrong.
——————-

So far we read that Bundespräsident Joachim Gauck, France President Francois Hollande, King Willem-Alexander of the Niederlands and Queen Maxima, Crown Princess Viktoria of Schweden, and Crown Prince Haakon von Norway are among the Heads of State that are going to Auschwitz for the January 27, 2015 memorial. Then the announcement that President Obama and Vice-President Biden go to Ryadh. President Obama even shortened his all-important trip to India to pass on the way back through Ryadh. This seemingly detours now also President Hollande and Prime Minister Cameron who seemingly will switch from going to Auschwitz and go to Ryadh instead. Oh well – this smells of oil. Today this means that the new Saudi King will be asked to reciprocate by continuing the policy of cheap oil that hurts mainly Iran and Russia while being a boon to short-sighted industrial economies.

—————————————-

It seems like somebody had an after-thought in the White House – and voila:

The White House – Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release
January 17, 2015
President Obama Announces Presidential Delegation to Attend the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau

President Barack Obama today announced the designation of a Presidential Delegation to Oswicim, Poland, to attend the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau on January 27, 2015.

The Honorable Jacob J. Lew, Secretary of the Department of Treasury, will lead the delegation.

Members of the Presidential Delegation:

The Honorable Stephen D. Mull, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Poland, Department of State

The Honorable Crystal Nix-Hines, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Department of State

The Honorable David Saperstein, Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Department of State

Dr. Charles A. Kupchan, Senior Director for European Affairs, National Security Council

Mr. Nicholas Dean, Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues, Department of State

Ms. Aviva Sufian, Special Envoy for U.S. Holocaust Survivor Services, Department of Health and Human Services

Mr. Israel Arbeiter, Auschwitz-Birkenau Survivor

Mrs. Irene Weiss, Auschwitz-Birkenau Survivor

Mr. David Harris, Executive Director, American Jewish Committee

————

But this is a Jewish delegation headed by the White House Jewish appointee – this is not the political delegation that the hour demands. Why is the trip to the family of the Tyrant King more important to President Obama and then – seemingly also Congress – did not yet think of sending someone to the Auschwitz Memorial?

————

Another e-mail we just got is from Antony Beevor of the Guardian
–  www.theguardian.com/commentisfree…he tells us that Putin does not go to the Auschwitz Memorial because the Poles did not invite him – and this is a terrible mistake of the Europeans – to let the Poles take such a stand.

The note starts: “Why Vladimir Putin should be at the Auschwitz memorial ceremony.
We should forget neither the Soviet Union’s role in liberating the camps nor its antisemitic blind spots.”

It continues: “On 27 January 1945 a reconnaissance patrol from the Soviet 107th Rifle Division emerged from the snow-laden forest 70km west of Kraków. The soldiers were mounted on shaggy ponies, their submachine guns slung across their backs. In front of them stood Auschwitz-Birkenau, the grimmest symbol of modern history. Officers gazed around in disbelief, then called in medical teams to care for the 3,000 sick prisoners left behind.

It is a great shame that Vladimir Putin, having not been invited, won’t be present at a memorial ceremony next week to mark the 70th anniversary – at the very least, it would have reminded the world that the advance of Stalin’s Red Army forced the SS to abandon the extermination camps in the east. And yet the muted row over the Russian president’s absence is a reminder that this particular chapter in Russia’s second world war history was, and remains, full of contradictions.

. The first death camp to be liberated by the Red Army was Majdanek just outside Lublin, in July 1944. The novelist and war correspondent Vasily Grossman was on the spot with the 8th Guards Army, which had defended Stalingrad, but an order came down that he was not to cover the story. The job was given instead to Konstantin Simonov, a favourite of the regime, who managed to avoid mentioning that any of the victims in Majdanek were Jewish. Grossman, despite warnings from his friend Ilya Ehrenburg, had been slow to believe that antisemitism could exist within the Soviet hierarchy during the death struggle with Nazism. But in 1943 he had noticed that any reference to Jewish suffering was being cut from his articles. He wrote to complain to Aleksandr Shcherbakov, the chief of the Red Army political department. Shcherbakov replied: “The soldiers want to hear about [Russian military hero of the Napoleonic era] Suvorov, but you quote [German 19th-century poet] Heine”. Grossman joined Ehrenburg on the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee to chronicle Nazi crimes, unaware of how dangerous this might prove to be. Several of their colleagues were murdered by the secret police.

Certain truths about the Shoah could never be published in the Sovet Union. When Grossman wrote about the extermination camp of Treblinka, he could not reveal that the auxiliary guards were mostly Ukrainian. Collaboration with the enemy was a taboo subject since it undermined the rhetoric of the Great Patriotic War.


As the end of the war approached, controls became even stricter. Auschwitz may have been liberated at the end of January 1945, but no details were released until the final victory in May. The Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee soon found that its work was in direct opposition to the party instruction: “Do not divide the dead!” Jews were not to be seen as a special category of suffering. They were to be described only as citizens of the USSR and Poland. Thus in a way Stalin was the first Holocaust denier, even if his antisemitism was not quite the same as that of the Nazis. It was probably based more on a xenophobic suspicion of international connections than on racial hatred.

Soviet propaganda, while designating those killed at Auschwitz in collectively anonymous terms as “victims of fascism”, also portrayed the extermination camp as the ultimate capitalist factory, where the workers were murdered when no longer useful.

And there was a further twist away from the truth. The Stalinists emphasised how many Poles had died there to distract attention from their own crimes against the Polish people, both following the Red Army’s unprovoked invasion in 1939 under the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, and its brutal occupation from 1944. They portrayed Auschwitz as the place of martyrdom for the Polish nation. By talking only of the Polish Catholics who had died there, they hoped that the Poles might focus any anger at their bitter fate entirely against Germany and not against the Soviet Union.

Few Poles were taken in during those postwar years of Soviet oppression. And now Putin’s ill-disguised attempts to reassert Russian control over Ukraine have of course reminded the Polish people all too clearly of what Soviet “liberation” meant for them in 1945. It is not therefore surprising that we should be seeing a certain amount of diplomatic shadow-boxing in the background, while both sides insist everything is normal.

The Kremlin is pretending not to have been snubbed by the fact that President Putin has not been asked to the commemoration event; meanwhile, the Polish government insists it was not issuing formal invitations. The Auschwitz international committee, which includes a Russian representative, was simply asking each government who would be representing them.

Putin made a speech at Auschwitz 10 years ago on the 60th anniversary, and no doubt he will again proclaim in Moscow on 9 May – Russia’s Victory Day – that the Red Army’s defeat of “the fascist beast” saved Europe from Nazi slavery. {and we think he is right to claim that but this is obviously only a half truth as the Soviets did in effect exchange one slavery for another.}

But those countries, especially Poland and the Baltic states, that experienced the ensuing 40 years of Communist dictatorship glance nervously now east once more.

Russia, obsessed for centuries by a fear of encirclement and surprise attack, has always felt justified in dominating its “near abroad”. It was Stalin’s shock at Hitler’s invasion in 1941, and his consequent determination to create a defensive cordon, that led to the cold war. Putin, fortunately, is a very pale imitation of his hero.

• Antony Beevor’s next book, Ardennes – 1944: Hitler’s Last Gamble, is out in May 2015.

————————————————————————————————
AND THE VIEW FROM THE ALTERNATE MEDIA THAT GOT US INTERESTED IN THIS – WHY INDEED DID PRESIDENT OBAMA AND MEMBERS OF CONGRESS NOT CHOSE TO GO TO OSWIECIM (Auschwitz-Birkenau) AND ARE GOING TO RYADH INSTEAD? This being written after reading next story:


Glenn Greenwald | Compare and Contrast: Obama’s Reaction to the Deaths of King Abdullah and Hugo Chavez

By Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, 24 January 2015

Greenwald writes: “The effusive praise being heaped on the brutal Saudi despot by western media and political figures has been nothing short of nauseating; the UK Government, which arouses itself on a daily basis by issuing self-consciously eloquent lectures to the world about democracy, actually ordered flags flown all day at half-mast to honor this repulsive monarch.”

Hugo Chávez was elected President of Venezuela four times from 1998 through 2012 and was admired and supported by a large majority of that country’s citizens, largely due to his policies that helped the poor. King Abdullah was the dictator and tyrant who ran one of the most repressive regimes on the planet.

The effusive praise being heaped on the brutal Saudi despot by western media and political figures has been nothing short of nauseating; the UK Government, which arouses itself on a daily basis by issuing self-consciously eloquent lectures to the world about democracy, actually ordered flags flown all day at half-mast to honor this repulsive monarch. My Intercept colleague Murtaza Hussain has an excellent article about this whole spectacle, along with a real obituary, here.

I just want to focus on one aspect: a comparison of the statements President Obama issued about the 2013 death of President Chávez and the one he issued today about the Saudi ruler. Here’s the entire Obama statement about Chávez (h/t Sami Khan):

Statement covering the reaction from President Obama regarding the death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz (photo: The Guardian)

Statement covering the reaction from President Obama regarding the death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz (photo: The Guardian)

One obvious difference between the two leaders was that Chávez was elected and Abdullah was not. Another is that Chávez used the nation’s oil resources to attempt to improve the lives of the nation’s most improverished while Abdullah used his to further enrich Saudi oligarchs and western elites. Another is that the severity of Abdullah’s human rights abuses and militarism makes Chávez look in comparison like Gandhi.

But when it comes to western political and media discourse, the only difference that matters is that Chávez was a U.S. adversary while Abdullah was a loyal U.S. ally – which, by itself for purposes of the U.S. and British media, converts the former into an evil villainous monster and the latter into a beloved symbol of peace, reform and progress. As but one of countless examples: last year, British Prime Minister David Cameron – literally the best and most reliable friend to world dictators after Tony Blair – stood in Parliament after being questioned by British MP George Galloway and said: “there is one thing that is certain: wherever there is a brutal Arab dictator in the world, he will have the support of [Galloway]”; last night, the very same David Cameron pronounced himself “deeply saddened” and said the Saudi King would be remembered for his “commitment to peace and for strengthening understanding between faiths.”

That’s why there is nobody outside of American cable news, DC think tanks, and the self-loving Oxbridge clique in London which does anything but scoff with scorn and dark amusement when the US and UK prance around as defenders of freedom and democracy. Only in those circles of tribalism, jingoism and propaganda is such tripe taken at all seriously.

————————-==================———————-
And Some of the Comments:

+37 # wrknight 2015-01-24 10:53
Democracy has never been a factor in determining whether a nation and its ruler are allies or enemies of the U.S.. All that matters is whether or not the ruler of that country allows U.S. Corporations to exploit their resources and/or their people.

Witness the fact that the U.S. has engineered the overthrow of numerous democratically elected presidents, while simultaneously supporting numerous ruthless dictators. The difference? The “allies” opened their markets to U.S. Corporate exploitation while the “enemies” put constraints on U.S. Corporations, nationalized U.S. Corporate assets or closed their markets entirely.

The pattern is consistent throughout U.S. history, is easily verified, and clearly tells who really dictates U.S. foreign policy.

+17 # reiverpacific 2015-01-24 11:22

So when has the US EVER NOT supported or imposed upon other nations trying to establish Democracy, a feudalist, regressive, violent or right-wing death-squad-enf orced regime, before but figuratively starting with Mossadegu’s Iran in 1953, Arbenz’s Guatemala in 1954 and almost annually since, most recently supporting the Oligarchy-drive n removal of Zelaya in Honduras, whilst high-handedly proclaiming it’s superiority, democracy and exceptionalism worldwide (for exceptionalism, substitute “‘Cause we can and if you don’t like it, we’ll do it to you too”, or “selective self-definition”).

I’m glad that Greenwald brought this up but unfortunately, the US owner-media will probably just ignore it all. In this case though, I can’t imagine even the average American somnambulistic infotainment-in formed citizen shedding any tears for this “Sheik of Arabee” leader of the oppressive Wahabist interpreters of much-abused Islam, whilst “Chop-chop square” continues as #1 public entertainment in Riyadh.

Very disappointing from Obama: I’d have expected it from Dimwits/Cheney after these revolting photos of Shrub the dumbest holding hands with the Royal Petroleum-pumpe rs, wielding a scimitar but being a lifelong incurious, clueless pinhead about the world in general.

None of them were fit to wipe Chavez’s boots!
This is proof, if any were needed, that much of International Diplomacy is forked-tongue bullshit and hypocrisy.
Good job Mr. Greenwald!

+2 # cordleycoit 2015-01-24 11:50

One has to be careful licking depots boots, Blood carries a price on the boot licker’s health. Mr. Chavez was not blameless as a leader. Of course the king shed rivers of blood to appease religious bigots men women it didn’t matter. Obama gets to supplicate to the late butcher.

+5 # Guy 2015-01-24 12:21
Nauseating is the most accurate wording for this behavior in the West .I can’t believe what I am seeing .A severe case of blindness has affected the Western view of reality.

+4 # Anonymot 2015-01-24 12:25
Well observed. Thanks.

What everyone has forgotten or never knew was how and why Abdulazis and his family became so rich. They were not poor, ever. Then came who? Richard Nixon! Wha?

After his successful re-election in 11/1973 Nixon owed a great debt to Texas oilmen who had financed his campaign. They wanted an oil pipeline from Alaska. I remember it as in the State Of The Union address, Jan. 1973 that Nixon promised to get the pipeline approved. Using the usual fear tactics he pointed out that oil prices had gone from $3 to $12 per barrel. “We cannot let OPEC have this Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads.” Nixon said.

Well, the Arabs looked at each other, Abdulaziz included. They were smart like desert foxes. We didn’t realize we were a Sword of Damocles, they said – or something like that – and that was the end of cheap oil. Nixon had just given them the arms to destroy the West and they have used them ever since.

You won’t find this documented anywhere, not even in Wikipedia. I just happened to put several disparate things together when I was sitting on a veranda on the Kenya coast and said, “Whoa!!”

It was one of those great “unintended consequences” that our brilliant politicians make, like the little Vietnam War or the little topple Saddam incursion or the Arab Spring regime changes. The Ukraine, Venezuela, Putin, and China are waiting to be played out.

-9 # daruten1 2015-01-24 12:27

Why is it necessary to evaluate every ruler and country through the lenses of our own experiences and values? Mr Greenwald is ethnocentric, judgmental and unable to perceive where other cultures are coming from given their past historical cultures and experiences. Who is he to tell other countries that they do not measure up to the Western world’s values? The world is a complicated place and diplomacy is but one instrument of getting along with people and countries whose views differ from our values and who are difficult. The trick in life is getting along with people whether you agree or disagree with them. Obama has shown intelligence and emotional intelligence in this instance.

+1 # reiverpacific 2015-01-24 12:58
Quoting daruten1:

Why is it necessary to evaluate every ruler and country through the lenses of our own experiences and values? Mr Greenwald is ethnocentric, judgmental and unable to perceive where other cultures are coming from given their past historical cultures and experiences. Who is he to tell other countries that they do not measure up to the Western world’s values? The world is a complicated place and diplomacy is but one instrument of getting along with people and countries whose views differ from our values and who are difficult. The trick in life is getting along with people whether you agree or disagree with them. Obama has shown intelligence and emotional intelligence in this instance.

“Mr Greenwald is ethnocentric, judgmental and unable to perceive where other cultures are coming from given their past historical cultures and experiences.”
Au contraiare, it’s his job as an investigative and world-respected reporter, who has had his own share of Imperialist persecution and fingers pointed at him, to comment on what he perceives as inter-cultural hypocrisy!

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 25th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

from: Martin Indyk <foreign_policy@brookings.edu>
please reply to:  foreign_policy at brookings.edu

Subject: Brookings Search for a New Energy Security and Climate Initiative Director

THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION – FOREIGN POLICY
 www.brookings.edu/about/employmen….

Please share this job posting with qualified candidates. We appreciate your help in getting the word out to qualified candidates in the energy security and climate policy communities.

Best Regards,

Martin Indyk
Vice President and Director, Foreign Policy
The Brookings Institution

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 24th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Taormina has 10,000 people. They live mainly from tourism that lasts from Easter to October. Below the mountains on which sits Taormina there is now the community of Giardini Naxos. Our guide on New Year’s eve – 2015 kept saying that she was born in Taormina and for 25 years she is a tourist guide – she has never seen snow here. MAMA MIA! THE CLIMATE IS CHANGING!

Mesina is to the North with its 300,00 people – only 3 km. from Italy’s boot. Towards the south there is Catania with its 500,000 people and then Siracusa, Palermo has 1 million people of the 5 million people of all of Sicily.

3 seas surround the Sicily triangle – Mare Ionium which was right there in front of us, with Mare Africano to the Sout-West and Mare Tireneum to the North-West. The three capes at the three points of this triangle – Capo Lilibeo, Capo Pelaio, Capo Passero form the Sicilan Trinacria that makes up the Island’s flag.

I am in the tour-bus – Mama Mia!- See the Greek Theater covered snow!

The Etna grew in stages from the sea – it had 4 active craters – and a new one – now 3-4 years which is very active. There are new side outlets – so now we have five craters – sometimes they have a white flag and sometimes a black flag – when there is ash – it is dark.

There is a difference between seismic movements of earth quakes, and volcanic movements.

Giardini was a citrus orchard. We are 52 in the tour bus. Next to us is a lemon orchard – snow covered – our guide takes a look and says MAMA MIA – What will it be? Lemons covered with snow? We are going now South – towards the South Side of Etna. The sky shows a few blue spots. Etna is not very large or destructive – it is generous spewing out in its ash productive soil.

We are not afraid when Etna erupts – we have learned from experience, she says. It happens often. The Etna Roso is a high quality wine produced on the elements rich soil. 20-30 meter wide streams of lava precede an eruption that can then last hours or years.
It is one of the most active volcanoes in the world with 350 side craters and 1,190 km2 – the biggest in Europe. its top is at 3,350 m. In 1928 there was an eruption that sent lava 150 km to the sea coast. Settlement communities are only up to 200m heights. The Italians say – “Cosi Vole Dio” and “Como Vene Vene” the equivalent of their neighbors to the south that say InshAllah!

Etna is a “She” – like a big Mama with little mountains next to her – her children. The lava deposits the granite that comes probably from 50,000 m. depth. It is beyond the Earth crust. We see black strips among the snow cover – these are 2 day olds – that happened the night before we came to the island. The lava reached Catania 8 times – in 1669 there was a big one with 8 streams of lava that reached the sea and wiped out the city. A stream of lava burns everything to hundreds of meters depth.
The present day Catania is thus only 300 years old – post 1669. Catania had a long history but much of it was destroyed in that eruption.

Even the old Domo is gone and a new one was built instead – with a black elephant obelisk in front of it – the elephant carved out of the black lava stone – this as a memory to the 1669 disaster.

Our guide says – every volcano has different composition – or a different personality. The Sicilians call her Seniora Etna.

Now our bus crosses the border into the Etna Park. On Road Etna – the Burning – and I see a poster that shows the natural fireworks in context of the Silvester – or the New Year celebration that will go on tonight. There are expected lots of Tarantela and you get a croissant following the big dinner. They love the Insalata de Mare and an eventual panetone made with sheep ricota. The Italians do not eat soups – she said. Family dinners are set up with contributed food by the members – then dancing in the piazza.

The Etna – she is on the edge where the African and Euro-Asian plates meet. The line includes also the Vesuvio, the Stromboli, the Pelerin and the Santorini. Quakes happen in a degasification process. Scientists measure the CO2 and the S (sulphur) content of the gases. They go up to 2000-3000 m. but not to the top. We get to Nikoloso at 700 m, pass the Ai-Pina settlement. Are told Mama Mia – there is snow! it was possible to ski at 2,800 m. but the last two years was no snow – now it will be great. We stop for 10 minutes at about 1,000m. and are told that we cannot continue because the bus is not equipped with snow tires. We wonder – so why did they not provide a bus with snow tires – with all that Mama Mia?

She points out the Goethe Road – the oldest road of Etna – it is 12 km long. We pass pines and chestnuts – Mama Mia – this snow!
We have foxes no deers she says – yes wild pigs, hares, rabbits. It seems we reached the farthest she is ready to take us.
She tells us the last explosion of Etna was just yesterday at 6pm and lasted 2 hours – December 29th – and you see from the distance the black stripe of lava in the white cover of snow.

Our guide decreed a 10 minutes stop for us to enjoy the snow like the Italians in front of us. Some entrepreneur even stood there selling snow-slides. Where did he get them crossed my mind? Then she asks us what we want to do. Four people – fed up – said let us go back to our Giardini/Naxos. I smelled rat – we came all that way so the bus driver and guide have a short day of work? I told the guide that the program of the day said we get back at 6 PM – not 2 PM. She said we will get back the money for the wine we dd not drink. Then she made some phone calls and said “she will improvise.” We ended up going south to Catania – the kind of trip for which I never would have booked an organized tour – and as our guide might have felt guilty of something – she never stopped talking. I heard a lot of things I read in the Wikipedia, but there were also some pearls. Our free time in Catania I spent at the fish-market and surrounding streets.

We learned that the Italians conquered Sicily in 1806 and since then the locals switched to speak Italian from their original Sicilian language that was heavily influenced by Arabic. The generous Italians allowed for Sicilian to be defined as an Italian dialect that is still spoken by villagers. The interesting thing about Sicilian is that it did not recognize a future tense – they have only a present and history which is what we call past. So, in the Sicilian mentality you can not project or program things. Now, this is a nice explanation of what we experienced that day. Her improvisation was already to be considered progress.
The Sicilian lives for the “now” – “we have cultural difficulties thinking about tomorrow or the future” – she said.

Sicilia lived from agriculture and mainly from exports of fruit trees. They adapted to many new trees – like the kivi, cherries, small apples. Tourism is being promoted now. Unemployment in Sicily is at 40% and is first in Italy in poverty. Taxation is at 52%. There is an ongoing change of population. The young leave to find a better life elsewhere and new immigrants arrive from North Africa. Many have vehicles and can work in hotels. Herself, from October to April has no work in tourism so she has a second position in the lemon industry.

At first she told us something about Catania and said she will take us to a favorite restaurant of fish – I thought this was good for business, but I was wrong – she never took us there – she just let us lose in Catania after walking us to see the lava-sculpted black elephant obelisk placed in front of the rebuilt cathedral. In 1868 8 streams of lava descended from Etna obliterated Catania on their way to the sea. 20,000 people drowned and the city had to be rebuilt from scratch. The Islamic influenced city was gone – a European style city built instead. They got now wide streets that replaced the old Greek and Renaissance architecture. Nevertheless, I still saw an Egyptian monument and the fish market was markedly in Islamic style.
We were told that Palermo still has 300 Mosques and Siracuse was influenced by the Normands.

We learned about the benefactor of the city – the Holy Agate – who cut off her breasts and is now remembered in February with a big procession like in Sevilla. The coffee shops carry little cakes, covered with white glaze and a black cherry on top – the Agate breasts – a must for you to try. Also, don’t forget the a la Norma backed dish made of thick macaroni, aubergine, melanzani and ricotta cheeses. It is delicious – I had it a couple of days later in Taormina. We also learned of a big yellow – lemon like fruit that its pulp is cut up and added to salads. She bought one to take home.

So, we walked around for a couple of hours by ourselves and with the return of the bus we started our trip back north along the shore line. We saw the Cyclopes Coast of the Odyssey and got to walk up at Aci Castello the stairs to a castle in order to take in the views. At the bottom there was a monument to Giancinta Pezanna. It had an Orpheus alike baso-relief on its stand.
I asked our guide who she was but she did not know. Back home I googled and discovered she was an amazing woman. She was the European “Actress of Emancipationism” (1841–1919) and her monument was there because she retired to Aci Castello and is buried there.

We still make a stop at the Gole Alcantara Park where there is a cannion and a creek – a nice environmental site, and eventually reach the hotel at 6 pm and I go to my room to prepare for the New Year’s dinner and party I did organize myself as no help was available from the local organizer for the PRIMA tours of Vienna.

Let me put this mildly – I felt cheated by the tour agency – but let me say immediately that the whole experience was great because I met some very nice people in Giardini-Naxos and Taormina. All this by myself – thus wondering who needed those PRIMA people?

I bought the 30.12.2014 – 03.01.2015 trip from Joe24Reisen of Vienna according to a paper advertisement of www.joe24.at I paid 519 Euro plus 89 Euro for a December 31st excursion to Aetna, Gambino & Castiglione. Joe24 was just the marketer and the trip was by PRIMA REISEN www.primareisen.com of Friedrichstrasse 10, 1060 Vienna.

When we arrived at the Catania airport a Mr.Dario Solzano received us and gave to each of us a prepared envelope “Tuto Bene” that contained a sheet with his phone numbers – at the “Marliestour Sicil Travel” office and his Handy number – two cards for restaurants – a restaurant in Naxos and one in Taormina – told us that for the New Year reservations for festive events were all expensive and booked well in advance – mind you – the restaurant in Naxos that he gave us that card – a really nice restaurant – but it turned out that on new Year’s eve they were going to be closed, and the one in Taormina would not be accessible from our location in Giardini-Naxos. He also said he will pass by the hotels for further advice – this turning out really just an effort to market excursions.

On this occasion, at my hotel, I pulled out my little note with weather forecasts and showed him – that for Wednesday the 31st the predictions were the worst – at that stage it said only clouds and winds and the lowest temperatures – this while for Friday it said Sunny and a 10 degrees F higher temperatures. I suggested he switch the trips so that Etna should be on Friday while Syracuse on Wednesday – this surely without premonition that there will be this snow coming in on Tuesday night. He said it would be too much work to switch the people. “Too much work he said.” I pulled out from the Syracuse trip preferring to use the nice day for Taormina.

That was the last I saw him until by chance – I bumped into his office near the sea-shore on Friday. During Holidays the public transportation is practically non-existent and a round-trip between Giardini-Naxos and Taormina is 50 Euro. His idea of tourism was to advise us to take cabs – this while other organizations had local guides that worked with them and a bus to get along as well. He also told us about “Presepe Vivente” – a Christmas display with some 50 real people – even a real baby – that we could still have seen on Thursday – New Year’s Day at the outskirts at Trappitello – but again – no transportation.
So, let me just say that this PRIMA was not even third class. Further – that miserable Mama Mia guided tour that cost me 89 Euro, could be bought at all hotels – even the most expensive one in Taormina – the 5 star San Domenico – for 45 Euro.

Having said this, let me now proceed to put in some very good words for very good people and why I hope to return to this area – surely – not with a fake PRIMA:

First – Rosario of the ROYAL Ristorante and more, Via Lungomare Schiso 34, Giardini Naxos, the New Year’s Eve dinner and party location I found just by trying to get a place to operate my computer as it did not interact with the WiFi at my hotel.
The food, ambiance, the all-Italian crowd – except me – his mother who seeing me as the lonely outsider – came over and gave me a kiss. Great people – others said hallo and we wished itch other AUGURI – a great place I hope to see again someday.

The desk people at the San Domenico hotel in Taormina in a building that was once part of a church castle – that were very helpful indeed.

And the people at the Libreria Mondadori (Libreventi Taormina -the bookstore on the main street) the daughter of the lady that runs the store – a journalist by the name Antonella Ferrara – wrote a booklet “Taormina Cult” – an aid to culture seeking people that came and some of them lived for a while at least in this most beautiful town. The booklet has a self guided tour for people that want to look up these places. Among those that had homes in Taormina – D.H. Lawrence, Truman Capote, Oscar Wilde, Otto Gleng and many more that stayed at hotels. Then a must is the visit to the old Greek Theater that has as stage back drop no less then Seniora Etna. I could have spent many more days just walking up and down those streets and steps – with neat discoveries wherever you look. This summer in August 2015 the Antic Theater will host “The trilogy of Seville” as the “Euro-Mediterraneo” Festival – the three operas – “Carmen” by Bizet, “Don Giovani” by Mozart and “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” by Rossini. I take a bet – it will be sold out.

Back at the sea-shore of Giardini-Naxos I spent half a day at the archeology museum of Naxos – the first Greek colony in Sicilia.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 18th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Lessons from Lima, Prospects for Paris: What Future for Climate Change?
The view, on reflection, from United Nations Headquarters, New York City.

For SustainabiliTank by George Baumgarten, United Nations Correspondent, January 18, 2015.

The United Nations Climate Conference in Lima, Peru {(known as “COP-20” (of the UNFCCC)} produced an outcome which could at least be called “hopeful”. But it really just foreshadows the real show: the forthcoming ultimate Conference, to be held in Paris, this coming December. And the Lima outcome was itself largely upstaged by the announcement — just a month earlier — of an historic bilateral agreement, between the U.S. and the People’s Republic of China.

The Lima Conference was the latest in a string of annual such conferences, dating back to the one held in Berlin in 1995. These annual conclaves have plodded along now for two tortured decades, as the greenhouse gas emissions just go on, the industrial smokestacks go on belching, and the conferee politicians–slowly, deliberately, ploddingly, and tortuously–go on endlessly talking.

The most interesting product of the Lima conference was one of Hope: Perhaps—just perhaps—an agreement could be crafted, at or before Paris, to achieve the critical emissions reductions.
Charles Frank, writing for a bulletin of the Brookings Institution, notes that Chinese greenhouse gas emissions have been rising at a rate of 10% per year, with the country’s galloping rate of industrialization. Therefore, the Chinese Agreement with the U.S. — while a breakthrough — reflects a “weak” commitment, on the part of the Chinese. But his Brookings colleague Joshua Meltzer regards even this weak commitment as a plus. That China has agreed to any target at all, he sees as a “…significant step for climate change diplomacy.”

The U.S.-China Climate Accord, which overshadowed the results of the Lima conference, dealt with the thorny — and, in the U.S., controversial – issue of carbon emissions. It was the very first agreement by which China agreed on targets for the reduction of such emissions – in fact – to stop the growth of such emissions by 2030. This agreement was the product of nine long months of negotiations, and—it was hoped—would become a catalyst for a world emissions agreement at Paris next December.

By the Agreement, the U.S. undertakes to emit 26-28% less carbon by 2025 than it did in 2005. And China promised to stop increasing its carbon emissions by 2030. Commenting on this Agreement, President Obama told his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, that he wanted to take the U.S.-China relationship “to a new level.”

In the official press release giving the text of the Agreement, the very first paragraph says, succinctly and directly: “The seriousness of the challenge calls upon the two sides to work constructively together for the common good.” And they acknowledged “…the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances.”

Thus – to summarize – the following paragraph states the two aforementioned goals: The U.S. commits to an “economy-wide target” of reducing its emissions by 26-28% of 2005 levels, by 2025. And China, for its part, undertakes to reduce its CO2 emissions, after their peaking no later than 2030, and to make efforts to peak early.

The Agreement also proposes that “The United States and China hope that by announcing these targets now, they can inject momentum into the global climate negotiations.” It further notes that “The global scientific community has made clear that human activity is already changing the world’s climate system.” To follow up – the agreement provides for the creation of a U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group (CCWG).


Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s address, delivered on Tuesday, December 9, 2014, made very clear one of his primary hopes: “There is still a chance to stay within the internationally-agreed ceiling of less than 2 degrees Celsius temperature rise”. In short, concise, successive statements, he asserted:

“All countries must be part of the solution. All of society must be engaged.”

“This is not a time for tinkering—it is a time for transformation,” and

“The momentum for action is building.”

The Conference’s “Lima Call for Climate Action” made clear that there is still a long way to go toward the Paris Conference of next December, but it did state without elaborating that “governments have left with a far clearer vision of what the draft Paris agreement will look like…”

Among the other results were pledges that for the first time took the new “Green Climate Fund” (GCF) past the initial $10 billion budget. And “new levels of transparency” on the part of industrialized nations were said to have been achieved. This was also reflected in the “increased visibility” of National Adaptation Plans (NAP’s). New instruments were announced with regard to forests, the provision of technology to developing countries, and the role of women, which was said to be “key to the response to climate change.”

A particular initiative was established for Education and Awareness Training, so that far greater numbers of persons, worldwide, can be made aware and conscious of the challenges faced by humanity. Peru and France also announced a joint “Lima-Paris Action Agenda”, to point the way to next year’s final, climatic Conference.

The U.N.’s official response to the Lima outcome, released by the office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General, congratulated the Conference, and noted that its actions “pave the way for the adoption of a universal and meaningful agreement in 2015.” He applauded the finalization of an “institutional architecture for a mechanism on loss and damage.”
The Secretary-General also called “… on all parties, especially the major economies, to submit their ambitious national commitments well in advance of Paris.”

While the COP-20 Conference can point to some [long-overdue] accomplishments, this is clearly a situation of having “still very far to go, and a [relatively] short time to do so.” And an awful lot of scientists of all sorts – not to mention the diplomats and politicians – can expect to be kept very busy this year.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 15th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We re-post this because we bow to Freedom of Speech and realize that this posting actually shows that Greenwald’s position here is a


We re-post this because we do believe in freedom of the press but we do not believe in one’s calling out FIRE when such a call can do harm. Greenwald’s position here is a give-away to a total misunderstanding – some sacred cows – like fight against budding Antisemitism – are sacred indeed.

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France Arrests a Comedian for His Facebook Comments, Showing the Sham of the West’s ‘Free Speech’ Celebration

By Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept

14 January 2015

orty-eight hours after hosting a massive march under the banner of free expression, France opened a criminal investigation of a controversial French comedian for a Facebook post he wrote about the Charlie Hebdo attack, and then this morning, arrested him for that post on charges of “defending terrorism.” The comedian, Dieudonné (above), previously sought elective office in France on what he called an “anti-Zionist” platform, has had his show banned by numerous government officials in cities throughout France, and has been criminally prosecuted several times before for expressing ideas banned in that country.

The apparently criminal viewpoint he posted on Facebook declared: “Tonight, as far as I’m concerned, I feel like Charlie Coulibaly.” Investigators concluded that this was intended to mock the “Je Suis Charlie” slogan and express support for the perpetrator of the Paris supermarket killings (whose last name was “Coulibaly”). Expressing that opinion is evidently a crime in the Republic of Liberté, which prides itself on a line of 20th Century intellectuals – from Sartre and Genet to Foucault and Derrida – whose hallmark was leaving no orthodoxy or convention unmolested, no matter how sacred.

Since that glorious “free speech” march, France has reportedly opened 54 criminal cases for “condoning terrorism.” AP reported this morning that “France ordered prosecutors around the country to crack down on hate speech, anti-Semitism and glorifying terrorism.”

As pernicious as this arrest and related “crackdown” on some speech obviously is, it provides a critical value: namely, it underscores the utter scam that was this week’s celebration of free speech in the west. The day before the Charlie Hebdo attack, I coincidentally documented the multiple cases in the west – including in the U.S. – where Muslims have been prosecuted and even imprisoned for their political speech. Vanishingly few of this week’s bold free expression mavens have ever uttered a peep of protest about any of those cases – either before the Charlie Hebdo attack or since. That’s because “free speech,” in the hands of many westerners, actually means: it is vital that the ideas I like be protected, and the right to offend groups I dislike be cherished; anything else is fair game.

It is certainly true that many of Dieudonné’s views and statements are noxious, although he and his supporters insist that they are “satire” and all in good humor. In that regard, the controversy they provoke is similar to the now-much-beloved Charlie Hebdo cartoons (one French leftist insists the cartoonists were mocking rather than adopting racism and bigotry, but Olivier Cyran, a former writer at the magazine who resigned in 2001, wrote a powerful 2013 letter with ample documentation condemning Charlie Hebdo for descending in the post-9/11 era into full-scale, obsessive anti-Muslim bigotry).

Despite the obvious threat to free speech posed by this arrest, it is inconceivable that any mainstream western media figures would start tweeting “#JeSuisDieudonné” or would upload photographs of themselves performing his ugly Nazi-evoking arm gesture in “solidarity” with his free speech rights. That’s true even if he were murdered for his ideas rather than “merely” arrested and prosecuted for them. That’s because last week’s celebration of the Hebdo cartoonists (well beyond mourning their horrifically unjust murders) was at least as much about approval for their anti-Muslim messages as it was about the free speech rights that were invoked in their support – at least as much.

The vast bulk of the stirring “free speech” tributes over the last week have been little more than an attempt to protect and venerate speech that degrades disfavored groups while rendering off-limits speech that does the same to favored groups, all deceitfully masquerading as lofty principles of liberty. In response to my article containing anti-Jewish cartoons on Monday – which I posted to demonstrate the utter selectivity and inauthenticity of this newfound adoration of offensive speech – I was subjected to endless contortions justifying why anti-Muslim speech is perfectly great and noble while anti-Jewish speech is hideously offensive and evil (the most frequently invoked distinction – “Jews are a race/ethnicity while Muslims aren’t” – would come as a huge surprise to the world’s Asian, black, Latino and white Jews, as well as to those who identify as “Muslim” as part of their cultural identity even though they don’t pray five times a day). As always: it’s free speech if it involves ideas I like or attacks groups I dislike, but it’s something different when I’m the one who is offended.

Think about the “defending terrorism” criminal offense for which Dieudonné has been arrested. Should it really be a criminal offense – causing someone to be arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned – to say something along these lines: western countries like France have been bringing violence for so long to Muslims in their countries that I now believe it’s justifiable to bring violence to France as a means of making them stop? If you want “terrorism defenses” like that to be criminally prosecuted (as opposed to societally shunned), how about those who justify, cheer for and glorify the invasion and destruction of Iraq, with its “Shock and Awe” slogan signifying an intent to terrorize the civilian population into submission and its monstrous tactics in Fallujah? Or how about the psychotic calls from a Fox News host, when discussing Muslims radicals, to “kill them ALL.” Why is one view permissible and the other criminally barred – other than because the force of law is being used to control political discourse and one form of terrorism (violence in the Muslim world) is done by, rather than to, the west?

For those interested, my comprehensive argument against all “hate speech” laws and other attempts to exploit the law to police political discourse is here. That essay, notably, was written to denounce a proposal by a French minister, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, to force Twitter to work with the French government to delete tweets which officials like this minister (and future unknown ministers) deem “hateful.” France is about as legitimate a symbol of free expression as Charlie Hebdo, which fired one of its writers in 2009 for a single supposedly anti-Semitic sentence in the midst of publishing an orgy of anti-Muslim (not just anti-Islam) content. This week’s celebration of France – and the gaggle of tyrannical leaders who joined it – had little to do with free speech and much to do with suppressing ideas they dislike while venerating ideas they prefer.

Perhaps the most intellectually corrupted figure in this regard is, unsurprisingly, France’s most celebrated (and easily the world’s most overrated) public intellectual, the philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy. He demands criminal suppression of anything smacking of anti-Jewish views (he called for Dieudonné’s shows to be banned (“I don’t understand why anyone even sees the need for debate”) and supported the 2009 firing of the Charlie Hebdo writer for a speech offense against Jews), while shamelessly parading around all last week as the Churchillian champion of free expression when it comes to anti-Muslim cartoons.

But that, inevitably, is precisely the goal, and the effect, of laws that criminalize certain ideas and those who support such laws: to codify a system where the views they like are sanctified and the groups to which they belong protected. The views and groups they most dislike – and only them – are fair game for oppression and degradation.

The arrest of this French comedian so soon after the epic Paris free speech march underscores this point more powerfully than anything I could have written about the selectivity and fraud of this week’s “free speech” parade. It also shows – yet again – why those who want to criminalize the ideas they most dislike are at least as dangerous and tyrannical as the ideas they target: at least.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 8th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The killings – at the offices of a satirical newspaper in Paris – execution style – were done by three hooded individuals – two of them brothers.


BREAKING NEWS: French police have published the names and photographs of two suspects wanted in Wednesday’s terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris.

In a statement posted on its website, French national police ask for information on the whereabouts of two suspects: They are brothers – Cherif Kouachi and Said Kouachi, warning that both are potentially armed and dangerous.

The gunmen who attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris asked for people by name before killing them, according to a doctor who helped the wounded and spoke with survivors.

Dr. Gerald Kierzek said the gunmen divided the men from the women before opening fire. The shooting was not a random spray of bullets, he said, but more of a precision execution.

A dozen people died in the attack. Authorities are searching for the three suspects.

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AIC (The American Iranian Council) Statement on the Charlie Hebdo Terrorist Attack:

On Wednesday, January 7, 2015, three heavily armed men staged a sophisticated attack on the French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people. The paper is known for its provocative content on Islam, including satirical depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, something the religion prohibits. The attack was almost certainly a response to this content, as assailants were heard screaming “We have avenged the prophet,” and “Allahu Akbar.”

Speaking live on television, French President Francois Hollande said it was “a terrorist attack without a doubt.” All indications point toward an act of terrorism indeed. While it is not yet certain which individuals or group(s) are responsible for the attack, police officials named three suspects, and the Associated Press quoted one official who said they were linked to a Yemeni terrorist network. Al Qaeda is most active in Yemen.

The American Iranian Council stands with the French people, stands up for the rights and protections of free speech, and unequivocally condemns the gruesome violence conducted in the name of Islam. This horrific and sad event is another reminder that the entire civilized world needs to work together to stem the tide of radical Islamist violence wherever it exists.

At times like this tragic moment, it is particularly crucial that we remind ourselves that there is nothing more urgent in today’s chaotic world than the task of promoting better international understanding, dialogue and mutual respect towards world peace and development. The AIC is proud to have pioneered such a task in US-Iran relations and sustained it for over 25 years.

We continue to believe that the US and Iran face common enemies in terrorism, from Al Qaeda and the Taliban to ISIS and other similar groups, and must work together to eradicate it. Wednesday’s tragic event is yet another reminder of the need for these two countries to think more strategically about the imperative of reaching a mutually gainful deal on the Iranian nuclear dispute towards better relations.

-The American Iranian Council

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As Reported by a US Press Release:
Security Council Press Statement on terrorist attack on French newspaper

The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the barbaric and cowardly terrorist attack against the headquarters of French newspaper Charlie Hebdo, in Paris, France, on 7 January 2015, causing numerous deaths among journalists, media professionals and associated personnel as well as of two policemen.

The members of the Security Council strongly condemned this intolerable terrorist act targeting journalists and a newspaper.

The members of the Security Council expressed their deep sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims, as well as to the Government of France.

The members of the Security Council underlined the need to bring perpetrators of these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice.

The members of the Security Council reaffirmed the need to combat by all means, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts, and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed.

7 January

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 6th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

An AIC Update comes at a very important time. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani gave a speech on January 4 in which he indirectly took issue with the Supreme Leader’s call for “resistance economy,” saying that Iran cannot live in “isolation” and still hope for economic development. Crippled by mismanagement, corruption and sanctions, Iran’s economy must now also cope with falling oil prices.

He also said that the Constitution (Article 59) anticipates a “referendum” on important issues facing the nation but failed to single out one and mention that any such referendum must pass two thirds of the conservative Parliament. Rouhani surely had the nuclear issue in mind, but given that he still has no deal and the negotiations are held in secret, his hint toward a nuclear referendum is premature.

Mr. Rouhani and his “hard line” rivals disagree on the extent of compromises Iran must make or gain. It is in this context that Dr. Amirahmadi’s article (below) is a must-read. He gleans the basic parameters of an emerging deal and posits that the negotiations will gradually “melt away” Iran’s nuclear program to a symbolic level in return for a phased lifting of some sanctions and Iranian assets.

Further, we agree with the basic assumption of AIC founder – Professor Amirahmadi -that Iran is a much more complicated case then Cuba and that here there cannot be a full one-piece agreement. It is rather an easing into such an agreement by stages that will make it eventually possible in the reality that opposition to an agreement lurches in every corner with serious non-forgiving stake-holders involved.

The Nuclear Negotiations: The Melting Strategy and the Missiles Time Bomb.
By AIC News – Posted on December 31st, 2014

by Hooshang Amirahmadi
Founder of The American Iranian Council

Melting Strategy-AIC – Given the secrecy of the P5+1 negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program, it is hard to surmise the concessions being made or the structure of a final settlement. However, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: the path to a nuclear deal will involve many “mini deals” by which Iran’s nuclear program will be slowly “melted” away to a symbolic level in return for a measured release of its frozen oil money and lifting of some sanctions. This “melting strategy by default” is becoming increasingly attractive to both sides, given that the US and Iran cannot publicly and quickly succumb to each other’s “maximum” demands, knowing it will be seen as a “bad” deal by their respective opponents and thus not implementable. Besides, the word “comprehensive” is too loaded with expectations and has by itself become an obstacle.


As a sign that this strategy is at work, both sides are avoiding grand results and are making compromises in increments, with Iran offering disproportionate concessions. For the Rouhani government, this approach helps conceal its concessions from domestic radicals, while at the same time glorifying the meager concessions it receives from the US. For the Obama Administration, the approach helps minimize pressure from the Congress and stakeholders like Israel and Saudi Arabia, who demand tougher measures against Iran. In the face of these “opponents,” it would have been, and will be, hard if not impossible for the two sides to arrive at the desired “comprehensive deal” in a rush.

To maintain the “incremental momentum,” negotiations have resumed in Geneva after a short lull despite the fact that Iran and the P5+1 (the US, the UK, France, Russia, China and Germany) “missed” their second deadline on November 2014 to reach a comprehensive deal on the basis of the Geneva Joint Plan of Action (JPA) signed in November 2013. The first deadline had been set for last July, only 4 months apart from the second. A third deadline has now been set for July 1, 2015, seven months later from the second. Reportedly, Iran, pressed by economic woes, wanted a shorter interval, but France convinced others that a longer time interval was needed. With Iran “disarmed” of its “nuclear ambition,” the urgency has also rescinded.

The temporal dimension is certainly a crucial issue as the parties need more time to figure out what extra compromises they can make in the next stage towards the desired comprehensive deal. However, for that groundwork, Iran and the US in particular would also need to bring on board their apathetic opponents, who would only acquiesce if the concession increments are seen to their political advantage. These obstacles also existed when the parties negotiated the JPA but that agreement, which was reached in a rush, had an urgent and temporary character, and was billed as a “framework” rather than a “comprehensive” deal.


The JPA gave the first indication that a “melting strategy by default” was at work. Iran committed to “never” and under “no circumstances” develop or seek nuclear weapons. It also agreed to nullify most of its 20 percent enriched uranium, reduce operating centrifuges to half and remove all advanced IR2 centrifuges from operation, cap the amount of enriched uranium to less than 10,000 Kg, stop work on and accept modifications on the Arak Heavy Water Plant, halt enrichment at the Fardo underground facility, and allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) unrestricted inspection. In return for downsizing and halting its nuclear program, Iran was promised access to less than 5 percent of its frozen oil money and temporary relief from a few sanctions; significantly, the list did not include sanctions on banking, oil, and the UN resolutions.

As the IAEA has confirmed, Iran over-implemented its commitments in the subsequent months. Even if the issue of Iran’s possible intention to weaponize before 2003 was not explicitly included in the JPA, Iran has in vain tried to cooperate with the IAEA to settle this disputed matter. The agency is asking for inspection of certain military sites and access to scientists and unspecified documents. Iran has provided massive information, allowed inspection of the Parchin site, and has also offered access to the Marivan region, where Iran is suspected to have tested certain explosives. However, it has insisted that no secret documents exist and that interviewing scientists could lead to their identification and subsequent murder as in the past.

The P5+1, mainly the US, has also delivered on its commitments though with stiffness and delays. In one case, the US, using the “loophole” in the JPA, even imposed fresh sanctions on a number of Iranian entities who had allegedly violated the US sanction regulations. In spite of this cooperative spirit, the successive negotiations were increasingly inhibited by tougher demands by the US and stiffer resistance by Iran. The standard argument for why they failed to reach a comprehensive deal this last November is that they could not agree on the final scale and scope of Iran’s enrichment capacity, and on the extent and timing of sanctions relief for Iran. The dispute over Iran’s missile programs was certainly another obstacle.

For the US, concern regarding Iran’s enrichment capacity is directly related to the so-called breakout time – the time it would take Iran to develop a bomb clandestinely. For Iran, lifting of sanctions was more than just an economic concern; it would silence the so-called hardliners in Iran who continue to argue that the US cannot be trusted. Lacking trust in the Islamic regime, the P5+1 is seeking a “bullet proof” deal that eliminates Iran’s ability to ever develop clandestine bombs and missiles capable of delivering them. This requires that Iran is left with a symbolic enrichment capacity and smaller missile programs. To achieve this “normal” condition, the US insist that key sanctions will have to remain including the UN resolutions.

These “standard” arguments about why a comprehensive deal could not be reached have merits but they do not tell the full story. A deeper concern of the negotiators was how to “sell” the deal they would reach to their respective domestic and foreign opponents who would invariably view it as a “bad deal.” To them, there was only one sure solution: forego a comprehensive deal in favor of letting sustained negotiations gradually melt Iran’s nuclear, and hopefully its missile, programs in return for gradual trickle of sanctions relief. This “melting strategy by default” would also save the “huge investment of time and prestige” the parties had put into the nuclear negotiations while preventing a disastrous collapse.

Hence, despite the “vast differences,” the parties emphasized the “significant progress” being made and agreed to another extension of the negotiations. However, to move forward, another mini deal had to be struck. Thus, the JPA was extended and a new set of concessions was agreed upon. Accordingly, Iran committed to giving up certain other parts of its nuclear program in return for access to another small percentage of its frozen oil money. Specifically, Iran agreed to eliminate the remaining stockpile of 20% enriched uranium, stop research and development on advanced centrifuges, forgo laser enrichment technology, and permit the IAEA to double the frequency of its snap inspections.

Significantly, Iran has reportedly even considered the US proposal to ship part of its low enriched uranium to Russia for re-importation in the form of fuel rods. If true, this concession will be the sign that with the nuclear program melting away, the Islamic Revolution is fading away as well. The key aim of the 1979 revolution was national “independence,” a slogan directed at the colonial practices to which Iran had been subjected. One such practice, which has been said to have caused the country’s underdevelopment, is the so-called old international division of labor. Accordingly, Iran was forced to produce raw and semi-finished materials for conversion into final products by the imperial powers.

This last extension of negotiations also includes an interesting twist to the process: instead of setting one seven-month deadline, it actually sets two deadlines within that same time interval, one for arriving at a “political framework” and another one for arriving at a “comprehensive deal.” This innovation is intriguing because arriving at the political framework will be easier and its achievement will be heralded as a sign of a major success to come, which will in turn allow for subsequent concessions to be made easier. Significantly, this twist will reinforce the “melting strategy by default” and help negotiations to move to another future deadline.

Indeed, as the “comprehensive” approach has failed, the “melting strategy by default” has become the “melting strategy by design,” helping sustain the negotiations. Thus, the next round of negotiations may not also end in a “comprehensive deal,” but rather to yet another mini deal and extension, setting the next deadline with a longer time interval within which a few deadlines will be incorporated. In other words, negotiations will not simply collapse or produce a comprehensive deal but continue in a step-wise fashion producing mini deals. The only wild card in this scenario is the Supreme Leader; he could withdraw support for the melting approach as concessions reach his “red lines” for the Rouhani government.

One such red lines relates to Iran’s missile programs. As was reported in an important interview by Parliamentarian Mahmoud Nabavian with the Raja News, Iran has agreed to have its missiles discussed but demands for their downsizing will suggest a push for “disarming” Iran and will result in a breakdown of the negotiations. As Nabavian disclosed, Secretary John Kerry “crossed many of Iran’s red lines” during his meeting with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Oman, making Zarif leave the meeting thinking that the negotiations would have to stop. Iran subsequently returned to the Vienna negotiations and agreed to further nuclear concessions in return for more money. Most likely, the missile time bomb has been left for the current negotiations.

This article was published in Payvand News

Curious why normalization of relations with Iran will be fundamentally more challenging than with Cuba? Click here to read Dr. Amirahmadi’s article “Iran is no Cuba”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 5th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Crude Oil Dips Under $50 A Barrel, A Price Last Seen In 2009.
January 05, 2015

The price for a barrel of U.S. oil benchmark West Texas Intermediate fell below $50 Monday, matching levels seen in the spring of 2009. The drop is linked to both OPEC’s boosted production and a stronger dollar.

Oil’s latest fall came along with a dip on Wall Street, as the Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 330 points to finish at 17,501 — a drop of 1.86 percent that’s also seen as a reaction to new instability in Europe.

Petroleum has been in a free fall: In the U.S., the average cost for a gallon of regular gasoline has fallen from above $3.60 to below $2.20 since June, according to AAA.

The sharp drop has come as OPEC member nations seek to protect their market share by raising production levels to undercut profits for U.S. oil companies.

Both Iraq and Russia are now producing crude at record levels, as Bloomberg News reports.


“People are thinking about promises from OPEC, mostly Saudi Arabia, that they’ll continue to produce at very high levels,” TD Securities commodity strategy chief Bart Melek tells Agence France-Presse. “On the demand side of the equation, what we’re getting is basically a lack of demand growth … as Europe is potentially in crisis.”

The cheaper oil and gas prices come along with a surging dollar, which reached a nine-year high against the euro earlier Monday.

As Krishnadev reported for the Two-Way, the reasons for that gain include renewed instability in Greece and the possibility that the European Central Bank “could introduce quantitative easing to stimulate the eurozone.”

For many in the American oil industry, a central question has been whether companies can keep developing oil fields, even as the financial incentive to do so keeps shrinking.

As the industry site Fuel Fix notes today, the number of working U.S. oil rigs has fallen more in the past two weeks than in any similar period since 2009.

“The number of rigs operating in the United States declined by 29 last week to 1,811,” the site reports, “marking the fourth consecutive weekly decrease for the U.S. count, published by oil field services company Baker Hughes.”

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The euro fell by 1.2% against the dollar to $1.1864, marking its weakest level since March 2006, before recovering slightly to $1.19370.

The drop follows ECB president Mario Draghi’s comments indicating the bank could soon start quantitative easing.

Greek political turmoil also weighed on the currency.

Although the ECB has already cut interest rates to a record low level, and also bought some bonds issued by private companies, a full-scale programme of quantitative easing QE has not yet been launched.

But on Friday, Mr Draghi hinted in a newspaper interview that the bank might soon start a policy of QE by buying government bonds, thus copying its counterparts in the UK and US.

The purpose would be to inject cash into the banking system, stimulate the economy and push prices higher.

Speaking in an interview with the German newspaper Handelsblatt, Mr Draghi said: “We are making technical preparations to alter the size, pace and composition of our measures in early 2015.”
Greek turmoil

Political turmoil in Greece also weighed on the euro, with fears that the general election on 25 January, could see the anti-austerity, left-wing Syriza party take control of the country.

The possibility has sparked fears about whether Greece will stick to the terms of its international bailout and stay in the eurozone.

On Saturday, Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine said the German government believes the eurozone would be able to cope with a Greek “exit” from the euro, if the Syriza party wins the Greek election.

Reacting to Der Spiegel’s report, a spokesman for German Chancellor Merkel said there was no change in German policy and the government expects Greece to fulfil its obligations under the EU, ECB and IMF bailout.

French president Francois Hollande also commented, saying it was now “up to the Greeks” to decide whether to remain a part of the single currency.

“Europe cannot continue to be identified by austerity,” he added, suggesting that the eurozone needs to focus more on growth than reducing its deficit.

Analysts said the euro was likely to remain volatile for the next few weeks.

“The market is readying itself for action from the ECB. The first meeting of the year takes place on 22nd January, so the euro is likely to remain in focus and see heightened volatility as we approach that date, which is also a few days before the Greek General Election,” said FxPro senior analyst Angus Campbell.

——————–

We go back to our base – the question what all this means to the answer of Clean Energy from Renewable Sources and Energy Independence in all parts of the World?

Our answer is that we are still optimists – now as the “Internet of Things” and our “Super-Connectivity” a la Rifkin – that we just posted – will help us get away from the reliance on fossil fuels. It seems thus that Russia may work in its best long term interest by squandering now its oil resources. I would not say that they do this because they have that foresight.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 5th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

“World Symposium on Climate Change Adaptation”, Manchester, UK, 2-4 September 2015: deadline for abstracts extended.

Preparations for the “World Symposium on Climate Change Adaptation” (WSCCA), to be held Manchester, UK, on
2-4 September 2015, are in full swing. Over 200 abstracts from across the world have been received, and further abstracts are
now being accepted until the 30th January 2015.

Organised by Manchester Metropolitan University (UK) and the Research and Transfer Centre “Applications of Life Sciences” of the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (Germany), WSCCA entails cooperation with world´s leading climate organisations, such as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), World Health Organisation (WHO) the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the International Council of Local Environment Initiatives (ICLE), the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Developmentof (ICIMOD), the International Climate Change Information Programme (ICCIP), the United Nations University initiative “Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development” (RCE), and other agencies. The Symposium will be a truly interdisciplinary event, covering some of the key areas in the field of climate change adaptation.

A set of presentations, divided into six main themes will be organised, distributed over parallel sessions dealing with some of the key issues of strategic value in the field of climate change adaptation. These are:

Session 1: Technological approaches to Climate Change Adaptation
Session 2: Implementing Climate Change Adaptation in Communities, Cities, Countries and via Outreach Programmes
Session 3: Funding mechanisms and financing of Climate Change Adaptation
Session 4: Climate Change Adaptation, Resilience and Hazards (including floods)
Session 5: Information, Communication, Education and Training on Climate Change
Session 6: Climate Change and Health

The organisers also welcome suggestions of special sessions, and so far special sessions on “Climate Change in the Artic” and “Climate Change Governance” and others, have been received.

To secure the highest possible quality, all papers are subject to peer-review. Accepted papers will be published in a special issue of the International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management
 www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com/pr…

(fully indexed) or at the book “Innovative Approaches to Implement Climate Change Adaptation”.

This will be a further volume of the award-winning book series “Climate Change Management”
published by Springer, which since its creation in 2008 has become the world´s leading book series
on climate change management.

The Symposium will be of special interest to researchers, government agencies, NGOs and companies engaged in the field of climate change adaptation, as well as development and aid agencies funding climate change adaptation process in developing countries. The deadline for abstracts is 30th January 2015. Full papers are due by 30th March 2015.

Further details can be seen at: www.haw-hamburg.de/en/wscca-2015….

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 4th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


A Godless Jewish Humanist.
who forced into migration from Nazi Germany – developed several lives and had achievements in many different areas – we would prefer mention by citing the title of one of his many books – “THE SANE SOCIETY” (1965) by the man who helped suggest to us Nuclear Disarmament, Amnesty International, and a pure humanistic art of loving.

Sunday, January 4, 2015 The review by Dinah M. Mendes of Tikkun – of a book about Erich Fromm – by Lawrence J. Friedman, assisted by Anke M. Schreiber, Columbia University Press, 2014

Even before opening Lawrence J. Friedman’s biography, “The Lives of Erich Fromm: Love’s Prophet,” readers are alerted by its title to the enormousness of the task of conveying the range and reach of this once celebrated intellectual. Erich Fromm was a Heidelberg University-trained sociologist, a psychoanalyst who helped found and direct psychoanalytic institutes in the United States and Mexico, author of more than a dozen books—many of them best sellers—a social commentator, and a political activist who promoted worldwide socialist humanism and nuclear disarmament. For college students and the educated reading public from the mid 1940s through the late ’60s, Escape from Freedom (1941), The Sane Society (1955), and The Art of Loving (1956) were often their first introduction to psychoanalytic, Marxist, and sociological constructs that Fromm incorporated and popularized in his reader-friendly prose.

The Lives of Erich Fromm is a virtual encyclopedia of Fromm data, with an impressively broad sweep that illuminates a cultural atmosphere and zeitgeist very different from our own more specialized and compartmentalized era. Perhaps the book’s greatest appeal is Friedman’s evocation of the historical, cultural, and political milieus that are the context of this scholarly biography, ranging from the Free Jewish Teaching Institute (Lehrhaus) in Frankfurt, to the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research; from the therapeuticum (the experimental sanatorium founded in 1923 in Heidelberg by Fromm and his first wife, Frieda Fromm-Reichmann that melded psychoanalytic treatment with Orthodox Jewish communal living); to the culture and personality movement in New York that joined prominent neo-Freudians—Fromm, Harry Stack Sullivan, Clara Thompson, and Karen Horney—with eminent anthropologists, such as Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict, and Edward Sapir; to the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy and Amnesty International that Fromm helped to launch and fund.

The Public Versus the Private Lives of Erich Fromm

At the same time, Friedman traces the various, often parallel trajectories of Fromm’s life: his educational course, vocational development, emigration, institutional affiliations, significant relationships, and his steady output of books—for each of which he offers a detailed summary and statistics about sales and translations.

Friedman unfolds the public lives of Erich Fromm the social critic, political activist, and global educator with great vividness, but he is less successful at bringing to life the private Erich Fromm, whose inner life remains largely obscured beneath the evidence of his amazing productivity and range. While this might be regarded as a deficit in any comprehensive biography (and Friedman’s stated intention is to supplement previous Fromm biographies by elucidating the influence of his personal life on his intellectual contributions), it is especially striking in the biography of a man who defined himself as a psychoanalyst. Although the book is sprinkled with tart observations about Fromm—and even criticisms about the unabashed self-referential basis of his later writings or his “unethical trysts” with female patients—under Friedman’s hand they never quite coalesce into a satisfactory psycho-biographical portrait. In one notable example, he observes:

For much of his life, Fromm responded to disappointments and adversities … [by] jumping from one location to another, quitting one professional association and joining or creating another, altering his conceptual and clinical approaches, and switching from one intimate friendship or bed partner to another.

This is heavy-duty stuff, seemingly ripe for analysis and interpretation, but in the very next sentence, Friedman reverses direction, foreclosing deeper exploration and turning weakness into asset: “There was a pertinacity here. Fromm would rarely allow a difficult situation to immobilize him,” he concludes summarily.

Friedman’s myopia, his tendency to justify and smooth over rough edges, is mirrored on a larger scale by his authorial stance in relation to his subject, regarding whom his undisguised admiration and identification seem to preclude more objective assessment and critique. At one point, he compares Fromm’s “narcissism” to Freud’s, noting, “both regarded themselves as founders of unique psychoanalytic ideas, institutions, and traditions.” The unqualified idealization expressed in the elevation of Fromm to Freud’s status highlights Friedman’s difficulty in consolidating a profile of a man with outsized talents and passions, as well as egregious shortcomings, and in producing a critical evaluation of Fromm’s intellectual contributions—his psychoanalytic and ethical humanism theories in particular.

Fromm was an avid student of great teachers and systems, beginning with the vast tradition of Jewish learning, and followed by Marxism and psychoanalysis. But it seems that his enthusiasm and valuation were matched by an equally strong need to reject essential components of every system, assimilate seemingly divergent concepts, and refashion them—often on a grand scale—into a new product of his own making.

Unanswered Questions

Fromm was a master of syncretism, and while Marxism and Freudianism remained the orienting poles of his professional identity, he combined them with the ethical foundation derived from the Hebrew Bible, with elements of Christianity and Buddhism added to the mix. Friedman lays out a detailed map of the stages of Fromm’s intellectual journey, but he does not provide the psychological scaffolding or insight that might illuminate the course that Fromm charted.

Why, for example, did he find it necessary to reject Freud’s instinctual basis of psychic development and substitute in its stead the construct of social character (drawn from a fusion of Freudian and Marxian tenets)? What made him throw out the baby with the bath water instead of extending Freud’s idea into the social realm? Much later in life, Fromm apparently softened his anti-instinctual bias, and his constructs “biophilia” and “necrophilia,” first cousins of the life and death instincts enshrined in Freud’s Eros and Thanatos, appear without explanation or commentary (The Heart of Man, 1964).

With even greater cogency, the reader might wonder about what impelled Fromm, raised as an Orthodox Jew and enamored of its culture of learning and spirituality, to strip his ethical humanism of the influence and authority of a deity and to insist that everything of value is inherent in man (Man for Himself: An Inquiry into the Psychology of Ethics, 1947)? Although Friedman frequently refers to the deficiency of Fromm’s parents as role models, Fromm’s childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood were filled with powerful and sustaining relationships with mentors.

Powerful Mentors

The precocious young Fromm began studying Talmud with his great-uncle Ludwig Krause, a Talmudic scholar, and as a teenager, came under the influence of Nehemia Nobel, rabbi of a prominent Frankfurt synagogue and student of the noted Kant scholar, Hermann Cohen, who had incorporated the universalism of Kant’s moral philosophy into Jewish religious tradition. The Nobel circle, which included Franz Rosenzweig, Martin Buber, Gershom Scholem and Leo Baeck, was instrumental in setting up the Free Jewish Teaching Institute (Lehrhaus) dedicated to introducing enlightened but assimilated German Jews to the richness of their Jewish heritage.

At the University of Heidelberg, under the tutelage of the sociologist Alfred Weber, brother of Max, Fromm wrote his dissertation on the function of Jewish law in maintaining social cohesion and continuity in three Diaspora communities: the Karaites, Reform Jews, and Hasidim. During the same period, he also studied with Salman Rabinkow, a Russian socialist and Talmudist, whom Fromm later acknowledged as his most influential mentor. Rabinkow introduced Fromm, variously, to the Lithuanian approach to Talmud, the writings of Maimonides, and the Tanya (the central text of Chabad Hasidism)—as well as to Hasidic melodies that Fromm reportedly sang for the rest of his life.

Friedman skillfully records the gradual transformation of Erich Fromm, the Orthodox Jew, the Frankfurt Institute academic, and psychoanalytic clinician—all private roles—into Erich Fromm, the public intellectual, educator, and activist. Both the cloistered cubicles of academia, and the individual focus of psychoanalysis, respectively, must have felt too restrictive to Fromm, especially when compared to the far-reaching impact of a political or religious system or the delivery of a message with universal reverberations. With his arrival in New York in the mid-’30s, Fromm began writing in English and grew adept at rendering psychological-sociological-political concepts accessible to a broad readership. His two best-known works, Escape from Freedom, an exploration of the seduction of and submission to authority and the fear of freedom, and The Art of Loving (which in Germany is still outsold only by the Bible) sold in the millions.

An Iconoclastic Proponent of Secular Religiosity

Fromm’s passion for refashioning ideas into a mold bearing his individual stamp seems nowhere more evident than in his application of Jewish ethical precepts and learning: Man for Himself: An Inquiry into the Psychology of Ethics (1947); You Shall Be as Gods: A Radical Interpretation of the Old Testament and Its Tradition (1966); and To Have or To Be? (1976). His erudition is often on full display: in You Shall Be as Gods, he frequently offers his own translation of the Hebrew when the original interpretation does not measure up to his standards, and his love for the richness of the ancient texts is palpable. This does not deter him, however, from taking a free hand—the “radical interpretation”— in reaching the light at the end of the tunnel: a Frommian nontheistic humanist ethics.

Fromm could be alternately creative, iconoclastic, and single-mindedly reinterpretive in reaching his goal; one of the opening stories in Genesis, the eating of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden (the Fall, in Christian theology) is recast by Fromm as a salutary and emblematic act of disobedience that reveals the innate human potential for independence of mind and freedom.

In Fromm’s explication, Hebrew Bible idolatry was actually a demonstration of the triumph of the “having” mode over the “being” mode, a harbinger of Marx’s later emphasis on the corruption of capitalism and consumerism. The greed and acquisitiveness of the newly liberated Hebrews in the desert, unable to resist stockpiling manna that God had warned them would rot, is another illustration of both the having mode and the intolerance of freedom, as is the Jews’ insistence to the prophet Samuel, many generations later, that he appoint a flesh and blood king over them.

Fromm’s odyssey through the Hebrew Bible leads him to the prophets of messianic vision, who foretell a time of universal peace and co-existence when—in Fromm’s version—divisions between people and states will be eliminated, and a universal ethics, motivated by brotherly love and the joy of human productivity (a melding of Marx and Freud), will prevail. Ultimately, Fromm espouses a secular religiosity—a fervent devotion to ideals that emerge from self-cultivation that is not obstructed by recourse to God’s authority or external directives.

A New Ethical Humanism

Fromm’s attitude to authority was nothing if not vexed, and he had a visceral reaction to authority in any doctrinal form. In his critique of Man for Himself: An Inquiry into the Psychology of Ethics, the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr ventured that Fromm confused duty with authority, and, it might be suggested, authority with authoritarianism. Fromm’s antipathy to authority sparked his acclaimed formulations on authoritarianism, but also colored his controversial negation of key tenets of Freudian theory and the concept of a real God who is accepted as an external authority. Fromm took issue with the concept of the Freudian superego as an internally regulating authority that derived originally from parental authority, just as he did with the linkage of ethical principles to the authority of an existing God. He rejected Freud’s concept of the death instinct and the aggressive drive, just as he did the darker image of human nature captured in the idea of yetzer hara—the innate human propensity for evil and destructiveness. Fromm’s humanism is adamantly anti-theistic, anti-authority, and optimistic, if not actually utopian.

Fromm’s attitude to Freud (whom he never met) was admiring but critical, as the title of his posthumously published work, Greatness and Limitations of Freud’s Thought (1980) indicates. Freud referred to himself as a “godless Jew,” but his vehement opposition to religion stemmed from his conviction that it was based on infantile helplessness and dependency, and the false succor of illusions that it extended to its adherents. Fromm too might be described as a godless Jew, but one with an entirely different provenance and orientation. His quest was to free the cultivation of spirituality and ethics from their theistic, authoritative moorings in the Hebrew Bible and forge them—with elements of Hasidic mystical relatedness and themes from Marxism, Christianity, and Buddhism—into a new ethical humanism. A messianic mission, a desire to be a “light unto the nations” is discernible in the proselytizing, prophetic inflections of his late writings on ethical humanism. Freud, in his turn, might have identified in Fromm a tangled knot of Oedipal conflicts—the Freudian complex that signifies the generational struggle for power and authority, manifest in strife over the transmission or rejection of the old versus the new.

Fromm’s Legacy

Friedman is lavish with information about Fromm but leaves the final assessment of his contributions up to the reader. Fromm’s legacy resides neither in the innovation nor the profundity of his psychoanalytic and ethical concepts. Rather, his place in intellectual history is assured by his adaptation and popularization of ideas—mixing and matching across systems—which he introduced into the public domain via his accessible and best-selling books. Without him, many of Freud and Marx’s ideas—and he courageously upheld the value of Marx’s contributions at the height of the Cold War—might have remained sequestered in academic isolation.

Perhaps Fromm’s greatest gifts were as a social psychologist and critic; he had his finger on the social and cultural pulse, auguring trends that were still incubating or in the process of fomenting. In Escape from Freedom he wrote about the global threat and psychological appeal of authoritarianism and totalitarianism, even as they were advancing. In The Art of Loving, he differentiated between healthy self-love and selfishness, daring to suggest that self-love was not only healthy and desirable but a prerequisite for loving others—anticipating by many years the work of the psychoanalyst, Heinz Kohut. Assessing the threat of an engulfing consumerism, and the “having versus being modes,” he coined such enduring terms as “automaton conformity,” and the “marketing personality.”

Ultimately, it is impossible to pigeonhole Erich Fromm. He was a man of letters, and simultaneously a man of action, who used money earned from his books to support peace-promoting organizations. He was a psychoanalyst committed to the painstaking task of changing lives one by one, who sought at the same time to influence thousands and even millions of people with his ideas and prophetic exhortations. Prefiguring our contemporary immersion in global communication and veneration of celebrities, Fromm—­­­­­­a man of outsized passions and ambitions—was a public, celebrity intellectual and educator.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 29th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Pope Francis’s Edict on Climate Change Will Anger Deniers and US Churches

By John Vidal, Guardian UK, 28 December 14

Pontiff hopes to inspire action at next year’s UN meeting in Paris in December after visits to Philippines and New York

He has been called the “superman pope”, and it would be hard to deny that Pope Francis has had a good December. Cited by President Barack Obama as a key player in the thawing relations between the US and Cuba, the Argentinian pontiff followed that by lecturing his cardinals on the need to clean up Vatican politics. But can Francis achieve a feat that has so far eluded secular powers and inspire decisive action on climate change?

It looks as if he will give it a go. In 2015, the pope will issue a lengthy message on the subject to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, give an address to the UN general assembly and call a summit of the world’s main religions.

The reason for such frenetic activity, says Bishop Marcelo Sorondo, chancellor of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, is the pope’s wish to directly influence next year’s crucial UN climate meeting in Paris, when countries will try to conclude 20 years of fraught negotiations with a universal commitment to reduce emissions.

“Our academics supported the pope’s initiative to influence next year’s crucial decisions,” Sorondo told Cafod, the Catholic development agency, at a meeting in London. “The idea is to convene a meeting with leaders of the main religions to make all people aware of the state of our climate and the tragedy of social exclusion.”

Following a visit in March to Tacloban, the Philippine city devastated in 2012 by typhoon Haiyan, the pope will publish a rare encyclical on climate change and human ecology. Urging all Catholics to take action on moral and scientific grounds, the document will be sent to the world’s 5,000 Catholic bishops and 400,000 priests, who will distribute it to parishioners.

According to Vatican insiders, Francis will meet other faith leaders and lobby politicians at the general assembly in New York in September, when countries will sign up to new anti-poverty and environmental goals.

In recent months, the pope has argued for a radical new financial and economic system to avoid human inequality and ecological devastation. In October he told a meeting of Latin American and Asian landless peasants and other social movements: “An economic system centred on the god of money needs to plunder nature to sustain the frenetic rhythm of consumption that is inherent to it.

“The system continues unchanged, since what dominates are the dynamics of an economy and a finance that are lacking in ethics. It is no longer man who commands, but money. Cash commands.

“The monopolising of lands, deforestation, the appropriation of water, inadequate agro-toxics are some of the evils that tear man from the land of his birth. Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness,” he said.

In Lima last month, bishops from every continent expressed their frustration with the stalled climate talks and, for the first time, urged rich countries to act.

Sorondo, a fellow Argentinian who is known to be close to Pope Francis, said: “Just as humanity confronted revolutionary change in the 19th century at the time of industrialisation, today we have changed the natural environment so much. If current trends continue, the century will witness unprecedented climate change and destruction of the ecosystem with tragic consequences.”

According to Neil Thorns, head of advocacy at Cafod, said: “The anticipation around Pope Francis’s forthcoming encyclical is unprecedented. We have seen thousands of our supporters commit to making sure their MPs know climate change is affecting the poorest communities.”

However, Francis’s environmental radicalism is likely to attract resistance from Vatican conservatives and in rightwing church circles, particularly in the US – where Catholic climate sceptics also include John Boehner, Republican leader of the House of Representatives and Rick Santorum, the former Republican presidential candidate.

Cardinal George Pell, a former archbishop of Sydney who has been placed in charge of the Vatican’s budget, is a climate change sceptic who has been criticised for claiming that global warming has ceased and that if carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were doubled, then “plants would love it”.

Dan Misleh, director of the Catholic climate covenant, said: “There will always be 5-10% of people who will take offence. They are very vocal and have political clout. This encyclical will threaten some people and bring joy to others. The arguments are around economics and science rather than morality.

“A papal encyclical is rare. It is among the highest levels of a pope’s authority. It will be 50 to 60 pages long; it’s a big deal. But there is a contingent of Catholics here who say he should not be getting involved in political issues, that he is outside his expertise.”

Francis will also be opposed by the powerful US evangelical movement, said Calvin Beisner, spokesman for the conservative Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, which has declared the US environmental movement to be “un-biblical” and a false religion.

“The pope should back off,” he said. “The Catholic church is correct on the ethical principles but has been misled on the science. It follows that the policies the Vatican is promoting are incorrect. Our position reflects the views of millions of evangelical Christians in the US.”

Comments

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+12 # Dust 2014-12-28 16:47
“has declared the US environmental movement to be “un-biblical” and a false religion” and “misled on the science”.

Bwahahahahaaa!!!!!!

How is it possible for a group that prides itself on lack of education and a complete dismissal of any science it does not like get to claim with a straight face that it knows anything about science itself?

Calvin Beisner should cite his “science” or shut up and stick to his extremely narrow interpretation of his selected religious texts.

Besides – the US is not a Christian nation, the Pope is not an evangelical, so on what possible authority does Calvin feel justified in telling the Pope to “back off”??

0 # NOMINAE 2014-12-28 23:22
Quoting Dust:

“has declared the US environmental movement to be “un-biblical” and a false religion” and “misled on the science”.

Bwahahahahaaa!!!!!!

How is it possible for a group that prides itself on lack of education and a complete dismissal of any science it does not like get to claim with a straight face that it knows anything about science itself? …

It is possible (but still hilariously unconvincing) under the aegis of the same arrogance of ignorance that impels and propels all manner of these moronic statements…….

pure, unadulterated, high-octane HUBRIS.

Nothing more is required or demanded in this time of virulent and vapid anti-intellectu alism, and the accompanying anti-science, or faux science that sells this bilge-water propaganda to the masses.

These statements are not designed to convince the leading edge of the intellectual Bell Curve. They are, as ever, aimed at the bulging center of the “average masses”.

…At the “Thugs” who are eventually to be installed and elevated above the intellectual class ala the Third Reich, Suharto, the Cambodian Khmer Rouge, ad infinitum – in short, an approach with a solidly proven track record enthusiasticall y and efficiently embraced by any and all Fascistic Systems, or Fascist Wannabes, in the world to date.

+5 # Dust 2014-12-28 20:09
After a wee bit of reading… Calvin Beisner is a freight train of crazy.

+7 # Activista 2014-12-28 21:20
Pope – especially in South America – has huge influence -
he is very influential on social issues – he does not have to have Phd. in climatology to see the effects of global warming -
I am agnostic – thank you Francis -

0 # Thebigkate 2014-12-28 23:50
Are we lucky, or what, to have such an enlightened pope? Now–if he would only get his act together on women in the church and the necessity of legal abortion!

0 # Regina 2014-12-28 23:51
There is reason to believe that Francis would not have sentenced Galileo to house arrest, nor called science apostasy. He uses logic where logic belongs, instead of insisting on dogma where dogma does not belong.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 28th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


The Jewish National Fund (Hebrew: Keren Kayemet LeYisrael) (abbreviated as JNF, and sometimes KKL) was founded in 1901, at the Fifth Zionist Congress, to buy land for Jewish settlement and develop land in Ottoman Palestine (later British Mandate for Palestine, and subsequently the State of Israel and the Palestinian territories).

The JNF is a non-profit organization. By 2007, it owned 13% of the total land in Israel. Since its inception, the JNF has planted over 240 million trees in Israel. It has also built 180 dams and reservoirs, developed 250,000 acres (1,000 km2) of land, and established more than 1,000 parks.

In 2002, the JNF was awarded the Israel Prize for lifetime achievement and special contribution to society and the State of Israel.

Yona Kremenezky: A disciple of Theodor Herzl and his long-standing aide, was a well-known Viennese industrialist. He was appointed first Chairman of the JNF – 1902-1907 with Herzel’s support. Even before being appointed Chairman of KKL-JNF, soon after its establishment, Kremenetzky attributed paramount importance to the land for the Jewish People. He himself had acquired a tract in Petah Tikva and planted an orchard there.

In his capacity as head of JNF, he developed two salient fund-raising devices: Its stamps and Blue Box. He served as Chairman until the Head Office moved from Vienna to Cologne.

Early land purchases were in Judea and the Lower Galilee. In 1909, the JNF played a central role in the founding of Tel Aviv. The establishment of the “Olive Tree Fund” marked the beginning of Diaspora support of afforestation efforts. The Blue Box – the money collection box – (known in Yiddish as the “Pushke”) – has been part of the JNF since its inception, symbolizing the partnership between Israel and the Diaspora. In the period between the two world wars, about one million of these blue and white tin collection boxes could be found in Jewish homes throughout the world. From 1902 until the late 1940s, the JNF sold JNF stamps to raise money. For a brief period in May 1948, JNF stamps were used as postage stamps during the transition from Palestine to Israel.

The first parcel of land, 200 dunams (0.20 km2) east of Hadera, was received as a gift from the Russian Zionist leader Isaac Leib Goldberg of Vilnius, in 1903. It became an olive grove. In 1904 and 1905, the JNF purchased land plots near the Sea of Galilee and at Ben Shemen. In 1921, JNF land holdings reached 25,000 acres (100 km²), rising to 50,000 acres (200 km²) by 1927. At the end of 1935, JNF held 89,500 acres (362 km²) of land housing 108 Jewish communities. In 1939, 10% of the Jewish population of the British Mandate of Palestine lived on JNF land.

From the beginning, JNF’s policy was to lease land long-term rather than sell it. In its charter, the JNF states: “Since the first land purchase in the early 1900s for and on behalf of the Jewish People, JNF has served as the Jewish People’s trustee of the land, initiating and charting development work to enable Jewish settlement from the border in the north to the edge of the desert and the Arava in the south.”

After Israel’s establishment in 1948, the government began to sell absentee lands to the JNF. On January 27, 1949, 1,000 km² of land (from a total of about 3,500 km²) was sold to the JNF for the price of I£11 million. Another 1,000 km² of land was sold to the JNF in October 1950.

In 1953, the JNF was dissolved and re-organized as an Israeli company under the name Keren Kayemet LeYisrael (JNF-KKL). In 1960, administration of the land held by the JNF-KKL, apart from forested areas, was transferred to a newly formed government agency, the Israel Land Administration (ILA). The ILA was then responsible for managing some 93% of the land of Israel. All the land managed by the ILA was defined as Israeli lands; it included both land owned by the government (about 80%) and land owned by the JNF-KKL (about 13%). The JNF-KKL received the right to nominate 10 of the 22 directors of the ILA, lending it significant leverage within that state body.

After concentrating on the Centre and Northern part of the state, the JNF-KKL started supporting Jewish settlements around the Negev border from around 1965.

The JNF charter specifies reclamation of land for the Jewish people as its primary purpose. During the 1980s, almost 60,000 acres (240 km2) were planted. Over 50,000 acres (200 km2) of crop-land were reclaimed and hundreds of miles of roads built. Research into soil and water conservation and the construction of dams and reservoirs took on added importance in the face of water shortages and drought.

The JNF’s collaborative work involves participation in the International Arid Land Consortium, which explores the problems and solutions unique to arid and semiarid regions, working to develop sustainable ecological practices as a means to improve the quality of life among people in arid regions

The present KKL-JNF World Chairman, since 2006, is Mr. Efi Stelzer who spoke to us at the Jerusalem Post Conference – please see our first article in this series - www.sustainabilitank.info/#34982

He said that the role of his organization now is mainly – in few words – “Preparing for the generations to come.”

He elaborated: “Conserve our natural resources for the future.” As examples of this policy, he cited the organization’s planting of over 240 million trees, its battle against encroaching desertification, its development of water resources, agriculture, community development and tourism, and its preservation work of religious sites of all the country’s faiths.

“KKL-JNF’s activities are intended to benefit all residents of the State of Israel without discrimination,” emphasized Stenzler, and described the Wadi Attir Project, which consists of the establishment of a sustainable desert community in conjunction with the Negev Bedouin. “All our work is carried out with the support of KKL-JNF’s Friends throughout the world,” he added.

At the conclusion of his speech, KKL-JNF’s World Chairman addressed the diplomatic representatives directly: “The expertise KKL-JNF has accumulated is used by developing countries all over the world,” he said. “We shall be glad to expand our International collaboration and benefit from the knowledge your countries have to offer, while contributing to you the products of our experience.”

The guests at the Conference were able to learn more about KKL-JNF’s activities at the KKL-JNF stand in the entrance lobby, where informational pamphlets were distributed and Creating a Better Tomorrow – a film about the work of KKL-JNF – was screened before his presentation. A token gift of a key chain bearing the KKL-JNF symbol was presented to each visitor.

KKL–JNF is the oldest environmental organization in Israel, having been established over 110 years ago. Throughout the years they have actively cooperated with many countries and international organizations in a wide variety of projects. We will now focus on this International Cooperation.

We will look at topics that the KKL-JNF categorizes as:

– Knowledge in Service of Humanity
– International Climate Change Initiatives
– International Forestry Initiatives
– International Water Initiatives

KKL-JNF shares its knowledge and experience all over the world, and has participated in and sponsored numerous international conferences, showcasing KKL-JNF’s technical experience and applied research.

The technical areas are in: Desertification, Afforestation, Water, Climate Change, and Agriculture.


on International Climate Change Initiatives JNF plays a vital role in preserving open spaces. Israel is one of the only nations in the world to have more trees today than it did a century ago.

JNF has become an international expert in afforestation in arid and semi-arid regions, and regularly participates in international forums and participates in joint forestry projects with other countries and international organizations.

Israel is recognized as a world leader in managing scarce water resources, water recycling and similar fields. JNF is at the forefront of innovative solutions to Israel’s water crisis and helps other Nations with its know-how..

KKL-JNF is Israel’s largest non-governmental organization (NGO) with United Nations status, dealing with land amelioration, water conservation and afforestation. This international cooperation activity addresses key global issues through mutual networking, knowledge sharing and spreading environmental advances beyond Israel’s borders.

JNF stands at the forefront of knowledge and technology needed for:

Managing open areas and forests

Combating desertification

Developing and implementing advanced methods for harvesting water run-off

Reclaiming rivers and streams

Conserving the land through sustainable agriculture and research


As a country that is largely arid, Israel has met the challenge of managing desert lands and combating desertification. JNF is the leading body in this field, and is interested to share its experience and know-how with its neighbors and with countries around the world.

Just as KKL-JNF lessons are learned from the experience of others, so too does JNF teach others to use the experience it has accumulated. KKL-JNF plays a central role in disseminating this information through its cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture. In December 2008, the three were instrumental in realizing an initiative for an international seminar on the subject of “Combating Desertification.”

KKL-JNF also takes part in the ongoing discussions led by the International Arid Land Consortium (IALC) and the Middle East Research Cooperation (MERC).

Israel participates in the three Rio Conventions – Biodiversity, Climate Change, and Desertification, was involved in hosting meetings that worked on the Synergies between the three conventions, and the bi-annual series of DDD Conferences started in 2008 – Drylands, Deserts, and Desertification – which the Fifth Conference in this series, the Sede Boqer Conference, November 14-20, 2014 – was the reason of my own visit to Israel this year, was just the right example of how Israel and the JNF as part of it, can develop cooperation with international organizations, single States, corporations, Academia, and NGOs. In a future article on our website I will be going into more details of what transpired at the Sede Boqer meeting.

Talking about Climate Change, KKL-JNF are proud of their tree planting activities – and from their website I am copying the following:

The process of climate change is the result of human activities, which cause the emission of greenhouse gas that pollutes the atmosphere. The average person should plant 200 trees in his/her lifetime.

Planting trees is one of the most effective, proactive ways of stopping the greenhouse effect that is responsible for climate change.

People pollute the atmosphere as a result of their everyday activities. Each person is responsible for the emission of 70 to 100 tons of greenhouse gas during his/her lifetime.

Each tree absorbs about half a ton of atmosphere-polluting carbon dioxide during its life.

The average person should plant two hundred trees in order to neutralize the pollution s/he produces during his lifetime.

Since its inception, KKL-JNF has planted over 230 million trees on a million dunams of land, which help mitigate climate change.

As part of the United Nations (UNEP) “Plant the Planet” program, whose goal is to plant a billion trees, KKL-JNF committed itself to planting six million trees in Israel over the next decade.


Israel is recognized as a world leader in managing scarce water resources, recycling, re-using wastewater and similar fields. Much of this information has been researched and implemented by KKL-JNF, who is happy to share knowledge with other countries and professional bodies throughout the world. With the help of its friends worldwide, KKL-JNF is at the forefront of innovative solutions to Israel’s water crisis, including building water reservoirs, developing biological water technologies to purify wastewater for reuse, and river restoration.


Oak Hammock Wetlands in Manitoba, Canada and Hula Valley in the Galilee, Israel Bird Migration and Conservation Work – an opening to Africa as well:

A twin-site treaty for the promotion of the combined development of two major bird-conservation sites – Lake Hula in Israel and Oak Hammock Marsh in Manitoba – has been signed in October 2010 between KKL-JNF and the government of the Canadian province of Manitoba.

The partnership agreement was signed by KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler and Manitoba’s Minister of Water Stewardship Christine Melnick at a ceremony held at Lake Hula Park. It is designed to formalize cooperation on site development, scientific research, educational activities and management challenges. Upon signing the agreement, Minister Christine Melnick has said: “We hope that this collaboration between the two countries will enable Lake Hula and Oak Hammock Marsh nature reserve to reach their full potential both as tourist attractions possessed of a rich and varied ecological system that feeds significant freshwater sources and as major way stations for migrating birds.”

Oak Hammock Marsh Park covers 36 thousand dunam (approx nine thousand acres). It is the remains of what was once a large lake, and it attracts a great deal of wild life, including some 280 species of birds that either pass through the site or nest in it. Half a million geese and duck pass every year though the park, which is considered one of North America’s prime bird-watching locations. Visitors to the park have thirty kilometers of trails at their disposal, together with a modern visitors’ center.

The Hula Valley is one of the most unique regions in northern Israel, and the Hula Lake Park is considered one the most important birdwatching sites in the world. Lush, green fields are interspersed throughout the valley surrounded by imposing mountains on the east and the west. The striking black volcanic basalt hills south of the valley slowed down the flow of melted snow and rain from Mt. Hermon creating historic Lake Hula and its surrounding wetlands, which served as a filter for the water flowing into Lake Kinneret. At different seasons it hosts cranes, storks, pelicans, ducks, raptors and many water birds. KKL-JNF was among those who established the lake in the early 1990s, and it remains among the sites managers today.

We will get back to this subject in a future article in our series – this because on December 1st, 2014 I found myself involved at the German-Israeli Climate Talks in the Herzliya Israeli Air Force Auditorium on The Effects of Climate Change on Birds @ Bird Migration. This was a meeting on the importance of the Hula to the Bird Biodiversity in Europe. The Israeli scientists extended now their work to Kenya as well. This International topic was going to be picked up in Israellagain on December 22nd.

Manitoba and Israel are very different from each other. For example, Manitoba has over 100,000 lakes, some of which are larger than the entire State of Israel, while Israel has only one sizable lake: the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). The two countries’ bird-conservation sites, however, have significant features in common. Both have been restored after being damaged by human activity, and each is located on one of the world’s two foremost bird migration routes: from Europe to Africa and from North America to South America. A great deal of effort has been invested in educational activities at both sites, and both serve as centers for scientific research.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 26th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Syrian Rebels Increasingly Joining ISIS
– Fahd Al-Zayabi
Moderate Syrian opposition fighters are increasingly joining the Islamic State for financial reasons, Syrian National Coalition representative to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Adib Al-Shishakli has warned. International funding cuts to moderate Syrian fighters’ wages are prompting rebels to throw in their lot with the jihadist group, which is capable of paying far higher salaries. Syrian moderate fighters earn $140 per month, while some media outlets report that ISIS pays as much as $150 per day. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)  www.aawsat.net/2014/12/article553…


Hoping to create a new society, the Islamic State recruits entire families.

 www.washingtonpost.com/world/nati…

By Kevin Sullivan and Karla Adam for the Washington Post – December 24, 2014

LONDON — Last month in Syria, Siddhartha Dhar stood in front of a banged-up yellow pickup truck, holding an assault rifle in his right hand and cradling his newborn son with his left.

Dhar’s first four children had been born in London, his native city, but his new baby, wrapped in a fuzzy brown onesie, was born in territory controlled by the Islamic State.

Someone snapped a photo of Dhar, 31, and he proudly tweeted it out as proof that he; his wife, Aisha; and their children had fled Britain and were now living in what the militants consider an Islamic caliphate that will one day reign over the world.

The arrival of the Dhar family in Syria last month represents a key strategic goal of the Islamic State: to build not just an army but a society. The group has vowed to create a nation ruled by Islamic sharia law, and its leaders and online recruiters have encouraged doctors, nurses, lawyers, engineers and accountants to join them in building the institutions of a new holy land.

Entire families — fathers, mothers and children — have answered that call in numbers that have surprised and alarmed analysts who study the extremist group.
View Graphic
Map: Flow of foreign fighters to Syria

“These families believe they are doing the right thing for their children,” said Melanie Smith, a research associate at the King’s College International Center for the Study of Radicalization in London. “They think they are taking them to a kind of utopia.”

Syrian Peace Talks May Take Place in Moscow Next Month. (the Washington Post)
Peace talks between the Syrian government and the opposition could be held in Moscow after Jan. 20, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Thursday. Russia, which has staunchly backed Syrian President Assad, recently offered to host peace talks between the government and the mainstream opposition without preconditions. (AP-Washington Post)
 www.washingtonpost.com/world/euro…

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

Dr. Josef Ostermayer is Chancellery Minister, in Chancellor Faymann’s office, since December 16, 2013, but also Federal Minister for Arts and Culture, Constitution, and Media and thus the face of Austria on many issues – he perhaps is now the third most important person in government.

From 2008 to 2013 Josef Ostermayer had been active as State Secretary for Media and Coordination at the Federal Chancellery. Prior to taking over his new position, he was Head of Office at the Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT).

Now he speaks for the government on such touchy topics like the upcoming Islamic Law – the Austrian Law that will not allow outside funding of Islamic cultural activities in Austria. The law will close at the end of this school year a Saudi funded school in Vienna that was found using school-books defaming Jews and generally advocating disorder. Ostermayer announced today that the spokesman for the Islamic Community of Austria (the IGGiOE) will not have the Veto right on these issues that Sunni Muslim Mr. Fuat Senac seems to claim for himself. Besides, he is not backed by Austria’s Shiite Muslims as well.

We had the honor of attending this week two events where Minister Ostermayer announced the year-end government funding forward- looking cultural programs.

Oh well, there will always be those that will criticize expenditures without having the vision of the important positive aspects of there expenditures.

The two events weres

A. Monday December 22, 2014 at the Federal Chancellery at Ballhausplatz 2, 1010 Wien, in the Kongressaal (the Congress Hall),
an announcement about “THE NEW VIENNA CONGRESS.”

B. Tuesday December 23, 2014 at the Museum of Natural History, at Maria-Teresien-Platz, 1010 Wien, in the new Mammuth Hall,
“Plans for the Museum of Natural History for the years 2015-2020.”

I will start from the latter.

The Museum is in one of two Symmetric old buildings situated on the sides of Empress Maria-Theresa Monument with the modern Art Culture Complex on one side, and the old Imperial Palace on the other side. The symmetric building is the Museum of Art History.

The collection was started 1750 by the husband of Maria-Theresa – Emperor Franz I Stephan of Lorraine and the Natural Museum founded in 1889 is today one of the richest in exhibits in the World with 30 million objects and 750,000 visitors per year, but the Mammuth Hall exhibit, recently established with Russian help, to be shown until March 2, 2015, includes Copies of Siberian findings, is too new to be mentioned in the floor plan – but figures on this year’s Christmas Card of the Museum. In the list of future events I found of interest the lecture to be given January 14, 6:30 PM by Ursula B. Goerlich on “Mammuth, Man, and Permafrost.”

The Minister explained the programs the museum plans for 2015 and then announced that considering the 125th anniversary since the museum was established, there will be a new digital planetarium and there is going to be funding of research and cooperation with other institutions on Planetary-, Bio-, and Human-, Science. Further, Directors from the Museum told us that further finances will come from the Mellon Foundation of the US, and the fact that halls of the second floor will be turned into further research areas for the use of local and foreign young people, with equipment to be acquired for these activities under a five year plan. The Vienna University will be involved in this as well – “and we are proud of it.”

I chose to start with this activity first because it shows elements similar to what we consider a much deeper project regarding a Model for a “Vienna Congress II.” The common elements are in our opinion:

- involvement of the Chancellor and his office;
- Minister Ostermayer’s hands-on involvement;
- end of year budget outlays;
- cooperation with Russia;
- a role for the University of Vienna;
- accent on youth;
- an offer to work with other EU States.

VIENNA AT THE CENTER OF A EUROPEAN POLITICAL TENT:

Looking at - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congress_of… (map there) – The Congress of Vienna was a conference of ambassadors of European states chaired by Austrian statesman Klemens Wenzel von Metternich, and held in Vienna from September 1814 to June 1815. The objective of the Congress was to provide a long-term peace for Europe by settling critical issues arising from the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. The goal was not simply to restore old boundaries, but to resize the main powers so they could balance each other off and remain at peace. The leaders were conservatives with little use for republicanism or revolution. France lost all its recent conquests, while Prussia, Austria and Russia made major territorial gains. Prussia added smaller German states in the west and 40% of the Kingdom of Saxony; Austria gained Venice and much of northern Italy. Russia gained parts of Poland. The new kingdom of the Netherlands had been created just months before, and included formerly Austrian territory that in 1830 became Belgium.

The Congress of Vienna, 1 November 1814- 8 June 1815
The system established in 1815 in Vienna lasted amazingly until 1814 – a neat 100 years.

By 1914 we saw the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires fall apart, a new Nationalism appeared and the new Colonial Empires started evolving economic power. Seemingly there was a need for a new rearrangement of power and like 100 years earlier it seemed that war was the way to achieve this. Just note – this is the half-time of the 200 years since The Vienna Congress.

This year – 2014 – we kept commemorating the 100 years since the eruption of WWI. In this scheme of things WWII was just a continuation of WWI as that war was not settled fully and an unhappy Germany with its Austrian sister having been left out of Colonial riches, wanted to see a global reset – and got it in 1945 though not according to their original intent.

Now, 2014, we have again a situation where some show unhappiness with their lot. Putin’s Russia, now a small economy, brings up memories of past physical greatness, Egypt – the natural hegemon of the Arab Muslim World is in trouble and what some thought mistakenly that it was going to be an Arab Spring, turned rather into a throw back to the dark ages of religious wars.
Then the US seems to want to wash its hands from the old allies and to reset for new ones – starting with those in East Asia and perhaps eventually Turkey and Iran. In this scenario it seems that the Russian-Ukrainian clash might lead to unexpected consequences and Austria that had heavily invested in Russia, would like to bring Russia back to the fold, and wishes to find a way to revive the spirit of the Vienna Congress of exactly 200 years ago.

Here comes the great idea that rather then calling for governments to send emissaries to Vienna for a renewed Congress, in this year of many other forward looking global events – like the Global Climate meetings and the effort on Sustainability aiming at the Global Environment and a Global Sustainable Economy based on a concept of Sustainable Energy for All that has its headquarters in Vienna, why not create a think-tank enclave of young people from Civil Society just for the European Space and ask them to figure out how their generation would like to live in harmony. The hope being that having this as an ongoing operation – an enclave of bright young people producing ideas and concepts with doable propositions – that will then be made public – and hopefully generate a movement that might then push governments to positive action.

So, on December 22, 2014, I found myself sitting in the hall where the 1814-1815 first enclave took place – the one that we call THE VIENNA CONGRESS. Minister Ostermayer, supported by Secretary of State in the Economy Ministry with oversight on Science, Technology, and Research Dr. Harald Mahrer  harald.mahrer at bmwfw.gv.at who is also President of the Julius Raab Foundation established to promote ideas that help maintain old values; Actor Harald Krassnitzer who is actively involved with Civil Society and was picked as a leader of this budding idea  www.moritzauer at aol.com he shuttles between Wuppertal (Germany) and Tirol (Mieming; and FASResearch Activist whose target is to reinvent media Dr. Harald Katzmair also picked for his involvement with civil Society  www.Harald.Katzmair at FAS.at .

Rather then summarizing what was said – I will try to present the event as it unfolded.

MINISTER OSTERMEYER: Chancellor Faymann and him discussed a year ago what to do about the anniversary of the Vienna Congress.
It was decided not to have just a commemoration but rather a look to the future. The challenge is how to bring young people from all over Europe committed to stay 30 days and discuss how they want to see their future evolve. They will have to come up with doable propositions. The event will happen in July 2015. Katzmair and Mahrer will present details. The concept was agreed also as part of the coalition negotiations – so it is bi-partisan or non-partisan so far as the government is concerned.

Mr. KRASSNITZER: The 1815 Congress was just an event but came up with 125 points that led to a revision of Europe under internationalism. It led to an order that exploded in 1914. So where is Europe now? Where does our travel go now? It is no more just National and European – it has become Global. This new century needs a new dialogue – we will have 150-160 young people plus from Russia and others. The outcomes will be presented to the European Parliament. A RELOADING – A RENAISSANCE – Culturally based.

Mr. KATZMAIR: We all have the feeling that Europe is stuck – and we must discuss the direction we want to develop.
It will be a rediscovery of what Europe was intended to be – not really just springing new ideas. This is how he sees it – but acknowledges that some might see this differently. The intent of this Congress will be – What tools exist for next generations to move on?
How do we get these 150 young people that will be able to discuss this – and in a short time come up with proposals for actions that are arrived at by consensus?

Mr. KRASSNITZER: There are other living platforms – like the Peace Platform for Europe, and we believe that the 21st Century will lead Europe to Free Life – like no need of Passports. The Peace Project needs to have present conflicts removed – those because of cultural differences that we forgot to deal with when dealing with the Economic Project.

Mr. KATZMAIR: We did not discuss the alternatives of how Europe should evolve. Alternatives are Democratization or re-Nationalism. He is President of a Communities Foundation (Gemeinde Stiftung) that is not a one-time thing – but a base for future follow-ups. He addresses the Minister that he hopes the Government will back this. So, what I heard here is that Mr. Katzmair is approaching the government to make clear that this exercise will have follow-ups.

MINISTER OF STATE MAHRER: This is what the Government wants – the establishing of a European model. That is why we invite people from the other Europe as well.

Why is Austria a base for such discussion? Good neighboring has to be our future.
The Government made available 300,000 Euro and an additional 300,000 Euro will come from the Private Sector.

Now for the Q & A time:

Q: How will you find the youth and what will be their age? Russia and others – very interesting. What about 40 year olds?
With 7 million unemployed – how do you bring this into your politics?

A. from Minister Ostermayer: There is a Youth Forum. On the Agenda of the youth is youth unemployment. There is a Peace Project, there is the issue of Travel Freedom – we really have no recipe book.

THE ACTION ITSELF WHEN TRIED IS ALREADY A CONTRIBUTION TO THE FUTURE OF EUROPE
– he said.
The 150 people will meet for 30 days here. We will then make sure they continue the story in their own countries.

Among the organizers of this election process will be:
- The Network of The European Youth Council,
- The Network of The Forum Alpbach,
- The help of Franz Vranitzky and the Yoyh-Karlprize Aachen social network
all these will be involved. We want most participants to be from Civil Society not to get a selection of Socialists and Christian Democrat networks. We prefer unaffiliated thinkers that were not yet indoctrinated by old ideas.

Where are we? What do we think? Three weeks of day and night of this is a first. Up to now such mind storms lasted only 3-4 days with maximum a 5th day thrown in.

The University of Vienna has its own Jubilee next year. With all this coming to Vienna next year – it is all very attractive.
We hope for a positive dialogue between the political and social platforms.

Q FROM A RUSSIAN JOURNALIST – It brought the following answer:

The age group – 18 to 28 and Russia is a very important part of this dialogue. WE ARE CONVINCED THAT EUROPE WITHOUT RUSSIA IS UNTHINKABLE. The extent of the Europe we envision includes eastwards Kazakhstan. So we have many cultures and there must be solutions to new conflicts.

The Location – A Schloss near Vienna was mentioned but I did not note it correctly and did not get yet to check on it.
the time is June-July 2015.

Q FROM AN AUSTRIAN JOURNALIST (I think from the Falter): What about the young people that were not born in Europe?
The strong influence from the Arab Space. Will such be invited as observers, but will those born in Europe be part of the discussion? It is not about language – it is about living together.

A. The people elected to be participants will include representatives of immigration.
Mr. Katzmair: The renaissance involved the Islamic Culture with the Greco-Roman Europe.
Minister Mahrer: There are hundreds of thousands young people social entrepreneurs in Europe.

Q. On the Islamic Law in Austria.

A. The Vienna Congress did forbid slavery and it talked of Human Rights. Yet now, 70 years since the end of WWII and the official end of Nazism, 60 years after the Austria State Treaty and we encounter negative attitudes. So, this is part of our trying to learn from history and see how the young look to the future. The young who not exactly remember the past.

There are four aspects to the Islamic Law Issue. These include the demand their communities to be run according to their own law and want the Islamic organization to be recognized as in charge of carrying them out. They want the creation of an Islamic religious faculty and want to be funded by interested outsiders.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


A VIENNA INTERNATIONAL CENTER CONFERENCE.
LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS: PERSPECTIVES FOR THE POST 2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA.

ACUNS Vienna Annual Conference 2015
Lessons Learned from the Millennium Development Goals and Perspectives for the Post- 2015 Development Agenda
January 14-16, 2015 Vienna International Centre with pre-conference April 13, 2015 events,

The UN General Assembly is recommending that all UN Departments and Agencies concentrate on seventeen sustainable development goals. The list of SDGs includes poverty eradication, food security, health, education, inclusive economic growth and industrialization, reducing
inequality, safer cities, energy for all, sustainable ecosystems, sustainable natural and marine resources exploitation, combating climate change, and promoting peaceful inclusive societies with access to justice for all, and accountable institutions. The Vienna UN Agencies already sought to redefine themselves according to these new UN priorities. At the ACUNS Vienna Conference, senior UN representatives will speak in interactive panels with diplomats, academics, and students about the activities they are pursuing to reach these objectives. The discussion will address whether these new goals are repackaging the preceding MDGs, and the extent to which the Vienna-based Agencies are committing their efforts towards achieving the SDGs.

January 14-16, 2015
Vienna International Centre
Wagramer Str 5 1 1400 Wien, Vienna, Austria

The Conference is hosted by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and will be organized in cooperation with UNODC, IAEA, UNCITRAL, UNOOSA, UNIS, and Austrian Foreign Ministry. On the third day of the Conference the closing session of the Regional Academy on the UN (RAUN) will take place.

CONFERENCE FEES
????> 30 EUR Practitioners > 20 EUR Students
Payable on-site

E  gmail.com

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 Additional Events
9:30–12:30
12:30–14:00 14:00–16:00
16:00–18:00
IAAI — ACUNS Workshop:
“Innovative Resource Mobilization for Post-2015 Multi-Stakeholder Action and Youth Engagement” (Conference Room C5)
Lunch break
ACUNS Academic Forum
“Target & Indicators for peaceful, inclusive, justice societies for sustainable development” (Goal 16) (Conference Room C5)
UNODC — ACUNS Youth Forum “Young People’s Ideas about the Drug Problem” (Conference Room C5)

A C U N S S E C R E T A R I A T – Academic Council on the United Nations System – Headquartered at Wilfrid Laurier University, 75 University Avenue West, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3C5 > T 226.772.3121 > F 226.772.0016

ACUNS exists to stimulate, support, and disseminate research, analysis on the United Nations, multilateralism, and international organization.  www.acuns.org/

In Charge of this Conference – ACUNS Vienna Liaison – Chaired by Michael Platzer


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

8:00–9:45 Registration (Gate 1)

10:00–12:00 Opening session (Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Welcoming remarks: Mr. LI Yong, Director General, UNIDO (tbc)
Chair: Mr. Abiodun Williams, Chair, Board of Directors, Academic Council on the UN System (ACUNS) and President of the Hague Institute for Global Justice

Opening:
H.E. Mr. Martin Sajdik, President of the Economic and Social Council (tbc)
Mr. Yury Fedotov, Director-General of the United Nations Office in Vienna, Executive Director, UNODC (tbc)
Dr. Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary, CTBTO
H.E. Mr. Luis Alfonso de Alba, Ambassador of Mexico to the United Nations in Vienna
Ms. Simonetta Di Pippo, Director, UNOOSA
Ms. Margit Bruck-Friedrich, Chief of Protocol & Senior External Relations Officer, Director General’s Office for Coordination, IAEA
Mr. Michael Platzer, Chairperson, Alliance of NGOs on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice,
ACUNS Vienna Liaison Officer
Keynote speech:
H.E. Mr. Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, Director General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and International Affairs

12:00–13:00 Lunch break

13:00–14:30 United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development
(Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Chair: H.E. Ms. Lourdes O. Yparraguirre, Ambassador of the Philippines to Austria Speakers:
Mr. Ludovico Alcorta, Director, Development Policy, Statistics and Research Branch, UNIDO Mr. Kitaoka Kazuki, Strategic Planning Unit, UNIDO
Ms. Petra Bayr, Member of the Austrian Parliament, Spokeswoman for Global Development Mr. Uwe Schubert, Professor, Society for Industrial Development

15:00–16:30 United Nations Organization on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development (Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Chair: H.E. Mr. Luis Alfonso de Alba, Ambassador of Mexico to the International Organizations in Vienna Speakers:
Mr. Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Director, Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs, UNODC
Mr. Gautam Babbar, Programme Management Officer & Inter-Agency Affairs Officer, UNODC
Mr. Michael Obrovsky, Head of Research Department, Austrian Foundation for Development Research Mr. Michael Platzer, Chairperson, Alliance of NGOs on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, ACUNS Vienna Liaison Officer

17:00–18.00 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (Preparatory Commission) (CTBTO) Briefing: “The Contribution of the CTBT to International Peace, Security and Development” (Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Mr. Cormac O’Reilly, External Relations Officer, CTBTO

19:00 Reception at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna
(Courtesy of the Permanent Mission of Austria to the International Organizations in Vienna)
Welcoming speech: “Future of rule- based societies”
H.E. Mr. Hans Winkler, Director, Diplomatic Academy of Vienna

Thursday, January 15, 2015

09:00–9:30 Registration (Gate 1)

10:00–11:30 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Science and Technology:– The Unique Contributions of Nuclear Techniques to the Post 2015-Agenda (Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Chair: (tbc)
Short film: ”Food for the Future” Speakers:
Mr. Ferenc Toth, Planning and Economic Studies Section, Department of Nuclear Energy, IAEA
Mr. Carl Blackburn, Acting Section Head, Food and Environmental Protection Section, Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications, IAEA
Mr. Neil Victor Jarvis, Section Head, Division of Africa, Department of Technical Cooperation, IAEA Ms. Monika Froehler, Communications Officer, Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL)

12:00-13:30 United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA)
Space policy, science and technology: accelerating development in the post-2015 era (Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Chair: (tbc) Speakers:
Mr. Niklas Hedman, Chief Committee, Policy and Legal Affairs Section
Mr. Luc St- Pierre, Senior Programme Officer, Space Applications Section
Mr. Werner Balogh, Programme Officer, Space Science & Technology Space Apps. Section Ms. Irmgard Marboe, Professor of International Law, University of Vienna
Mr. Walther Lichem, Professor, f. Austrian Ambassador to Canada

13:30-14:30 Lunch break

14:30–15:50 UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL)
The importance of a solid commercial legal framework for sustainable development
(Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Chair: H.E. Mr. Cristian Istrate, Ambassador of Romania to the International Organizations in Vienna Speakers:
Mr. Jernej Sekolec, Former Secretary UNCITRAL, Independent Arbitrator Mr. Timothy Lemay, Principal Legal Officer and Head, Legislative Branch Ms. Anniko Szalai, Professor, University of Szeged

16:00–17:30 The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UNWOMEN)
Gender Equality and the Post-2015 Agenda
(Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Chair: H.E. Ms. Anu Laamanen, Ambassador of Finland to Austria
Speakers:
Ms. Ursula Bauer, Chief Executive Office, Executive Group for Organisation, Safety and Security, City of Vienna
Ms. Lilly Sucharipa, President, Austria National Committee for UN Women
Dr. Dorota Gierycz, Professor, Webster University
Ms. Ivana Kristic, Professor, University of Belgrade

18:30 Social event: Wiener Heurige (Courtesy of the City of Vienna)


Friday, January 16, 2015

7:30–8:00 Registration (Gate 1)

8:30–10:00 United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), United Nations Information Service (UNIS), United for Education and Sustainable Futures (UESF), IAAI– Innovative Ways for Youth Engagement and Volunteerism in UN Post-2015 Development Agenda Context
(Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Chair: Mr. Martin Nesirky, Director, UNIS Vienna Speakers:
Mr. Matteo Landi, Industrial Development and Youth Employment Expert, UNIDO
Ms. Hanna Heikkila, Associate Expert, Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation Section, UNODC Mr. Daniil Chugunov, Psychologist, Associate Professor of the Institute of Management and Law, St. Petersburg
Ms. Kehkasan Basu, UNEP Major Group Children and Youth (tbc)
Mr. Miroslav Polzer, IAAI
Mr. Billy Batware, UESF and Regional Academy on United Nations
Ms. Viktoriya Luchka, 2014 Ukrainian Youth Delegate to the UNGA

10:00–10:15 Coffee break

10:15–13:00 RAUN Post-2015 Development Agenda Working Group I – International Development and Trade
(Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Inclusive and Sustainable Business Strategies: The Role of Self-Regulation – UNIDO I
Financing young entrepreneurs and young enterprises: Review of needs, difficulties, and challenges that young enterprises face when accessing finance – UNIDO II
New Eyes: ‘A look from above’ on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, and the growing relevance of UNOOSA – UNOOSA
Supporting Post-2015 Development Agenda through Investor-State Arbitration Rules in the field of Energy – UNCITRAL

Judges:
?Mr. Jacek Cukrowski, Chief, Institute for Capacity Development, UNIDO
Ms. Aygul Duysenhanova, Programme Officer, UNOOSA
Mr. Werner Balogh, Programme Officer, Space Applications Section, UNOOSA
Ms. Katharine Sarikakis, Professor, Institute for Publication and Communication, University of Vienna
Ms. Margarete Maria Grandner, Professor and Program Director, Department of International Development, University of Vienna
Mr. Grzegorz Donocik, Former Chief, Europe and NIS Programme, UNIDO
Mr. Miroslav Polzer, Secretary General, IAAI

13:00-14:00 Lunch break

14:00–15:45
RAUN Post-2015 Development Agenda Working Group II – Human Rights
(Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)
Modern Forms of Slavery and Human Trafficking “Female offenders in the trafficking of persons for the purpose of sexual exploitation – Victims or perpetrators?” – UNODC I
Irregular Migration in the Mediterranean: – problems, questions and possible solutions in light of the Post-2015 Development Agenda – IOM
The Humanitarian Dimension of Nuclear Testing: – How the nuclear test-ban treaty adds to the realization of the UN Post-2015 Development Agenda, and how international humanitarian law can be useful for enforcing non-proliferation – CTBTO
Post-2015 Development Agenda within the United Nations Policy Framework: Towards a future without violence against women – UNWOMEN

Judges:

Dr. Dorota Gierycz, Professor, Webster University
Mr. Cormac O’Reilly, External Relations Officer, CTBTO
Ms. Irmgard Marboe, Professor, University of Vienna
Mr. Fabrizio Sarrica, Research Officer, Global Report on Trafficking in Persons Unit, UNODC Mr. Gunther Hauser, National Defence Academy, Vienna
Mr. Diman Dimov, Project coordinator, DTA/OSB/ISS, UNODC

15:45-16:00 Coffee break

16:00-17:30 RAUN Post-2015 Development Agenda Working Group III – Energy, Environment, and Safety
(Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)

Benefits of Nuclear Energy to Overcome Climate Change: the example of China – IAEA
Evaluation of Battery Storage Technologies: Sustainable, rural electrification in Sub-Saharan Africa – SE4ALL

Sustainable Cities and Personal Security: “Goals, approaches, outcomes” – Why is it worth keeping sustainable cities in the Post-2015 Development Agenda? – UNODC II

Judges:

Mr. Slawomir Redo, Senior Programme Adviser (ACUNS, Vienna); Visiting Scholar, John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY, NY, USA)

17:30-18:00 RAUN Award Ceremony
(Boardroom C, Building C, 4th Floor)

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Euro-Mediterranean Centre on Climate Change is glad to inform you on updates of news and stories around Climate Science&Policy.

What really happened in Lima? Climate Science & Policy: news, stories and updates.

[CENTRO EURO-MEDITERRANEO PER I CAMBIAMENTI CLIMATICI - CMCC -
un Consorzio di istituti di ricerca e università italiane che punta
ad approfondire le conoscenze scientifiche nel campo della variabilità climatica.]

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A different view on COP 20
Carlo Carraro comments the outcomes of the COP20 in this post taken from his blog: “The emphasis on emission reductions somehow obscures the real issue at the core of the COP 20 negotiations (that will be at the core of COP 21 as well)”.
 www.cmcc.it/article/a-different-v…

Climate talks: what was agreed in Lima
As expected, the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties in Lima wrapped up with a compromise text, a road map pushing for 2015 deal in Paris
 www.cmcc.it/article/lima-climate-…

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Many comments on the outcome of the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP 20) recently held in Lima have already been circulated. Most commentators focus on the broad consensus to adopt national commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). Some of them highlights the important benefits of reaching such broad consensus, even though not yet on ambitious mitigation targets. Others complain about the distance between existing commitments and the mitigation effort needed to maintain future temperature increase below the 2°C degree target. All of them agree on the crucial role of COP 21 in Paris to reach a final agreement on both ambitious Individually Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) and on an effective verification system to compare these mitigation efforts.

This emphasis on emission reductions somehow obscures the real issue at the core of the COP 20 negotiations (that will be at the core of COP 21 as well), namely the difficulty of agreeing on the resources that must be devoted to achieve mitigation targets, on their distribution across different world regions, on the mechanisms to fund the huge investments that will be necessary for both mitigation and adaptation.

The discussion in Lima was centered on the Green Climate Fund, established in Copenhagen in 2009, but the debate was more on distributional issues (how much will developing countries receive and how much will they contribute) rather than on efficiency issues (how best can the fund be used).

The Green Climate Fund
While there have been some murmurings of the need to focus on technology development, technology transfer and capacity building, the climate finance debate has been overtaken by the Green Climate Fund. How much should be given? Should quantitative limits be set? Should there be a legally binding system? Since there was so much focus on the Fund, it is encouraging to see that the first real milestone in this process – USD 10.2 billion pledged by the end of 2014 – has been achieved. Further, since 50% of the Green Climate Fund is to be allocated to adaptation measures, the prominence of adaptation in the COP 20 agenda should be welcomed. Specifically, the promise that a “loss and damage” scheme would be introduced to help poorer countries cope with the financial implications of a warming planet. Despite these steps forward, the funding required to decarbonize the global economy by 2050, address adaptation and meet the rising cost of loss and damage caused by extreme weather events, will be in the region of trillions of dollars over the upcoming decades. As such, the Green Climate Fund, even when it will hopefully reach the USD 100 billions in 2020, will be far from covering both the required investments in adaptation to deal with the impacts of ongoing climate change, particularly in developing countries, and the costs to support the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Policy signals:

One of government’s main roles in enabling climate finance is to send a clear, consistent, long-term signal to investors that there is a safe market for low-carbon technologies. There is a great deal of aversion to be overcome in this respect. Currently, low-carbon technologies are perceived to come only at a short to medium term trade off with economic growth.

This misconception (built into many model assessments) is based on the assumption that economies are perfectly efficient. As a result, any climate change policy is expected to lead to short and medium term costs. However, in reality, many such policies, particularly technology policies, in fact reduce market failures and the rigidities that lead to inefficient allocation of resources.

This understanding was woefully overlooked at COP20. Indeed, the very fact that governments spent so much time publicly quibbling over what to implement is signal enough to the private sector that investments in low-carbon technologies may not be supported by a sound policy environment (e.g. by a tax internalizing carbon externalities).

Some nations even went to say that private sector needs to be the driving force behind the transition. While developments in private sector do anticipate policy, their success is often dependent on a fertile policy environment.

As such, Brazil strongly cautioned against too strong a reliance on the private sector.

Even Australia was able to recognize the need to motivate businesses.

Kick-starting innovation:

There are two channels that governments can exploit to provide these policy signals.

First, government needs to stimulate innovation. Innovation is key to a low-carbon future. OECD projections of population growth indicate that population will increase from 7 billion people (2010) to more than 9 billion people (2050). With this, global GDP will nearly quadruple, requiring 80% more energy. To sustain this growth, energy must be mostly generated in a carbon neutral or low carbon manner.

At COP20, countries were asked to support all low-carbon technologies and not pick winners. Even so, each country demonstrated its aversions to specific technologies, notably nuclear and carbon capture and storage (CCS).The main way to incentivize innovation in low-carbon technologies is to put a price on carbon.

Carbon pricing is one of the strongest signals that governments can send to say they are serious about low-carbon. Not only does this provide a way – if effectively implemented – of progressively moving away from fossil fuel energy, it also provides financial benefits. Lobbying and sideline action abounded with pressure to develop carbon pricing mechanisms. Like the drop of water on stone, this is making an impact nation by nation. However, no concrete progress came forth from COP20 on this, even though important signals came from the UN Summit in New York last September and much more will emerge in 2015 in preparation to COP 21.

Investing:

Second, governments need to look to how and when they invest in low-carbon solutions. No public sector actors are yet fully successful in setting regulation, incentives, co-investment, risk-sharing instruments or other policy measures. Most developed countries firmly opposed internationally accountable commitments to climate finance.

Switzerland notably refused legally binding aims. Part of the unanimous aversion to strong investment is the fear that policies would require prolonged public sector support for low-carbon technologies. This assumption ignores the fact that government only needs to promote low-carbon innovation for a limited time. Just long enough to kick-start the low-carbon pathway. Once the technology is rolling along this path, the economy will be locked-in to low-carbon and there is no need for further regulatory intervention.

Another investment deterrent is the presumed high-cost, low-return nature of low-carbon energy. However, the higher upfront costs in low-carbon technologies are offset by avoiding the operating and financing costs that characterize fossil fuel energy. And by the increasing benefits of reducing GHG emissions and therefore the concrete, very costly, negative impacts of climate change on our economies.

The Lima Legacy:

COP20 concluded with a document that called for an “ambitious agreement” in 2015 that considers the “differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” of each nation. This common-but-differentiated-responsibilities approach has characterized climate change talks since 1992. It reflects the strong divide and attribution of responsibility that still exists between poor and rich nations. Meek language asking countries merely to go beyond their “current undertaking” on climate action does not instill you with confidence that any of the INDCs that will be announced over the first quarter of 2015 will be sufficient to keep the globe within the 2°C limit.

Perhaps, there is hope in the fact that some of the desired measures indicated above can be developed without the need for international agreements.

Even so, at the moment, none of these issues that will really make a difference in the effective deployment and use of climate finance have been seriously addressed by COP 20.

Much of this is unsurprising. Asking 194 countries to find consensus on the many issues implicated in climate change – not only climate finance – is, as UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres puts it, “very, very challenging”. Therefore, the resulting “range of key decisions agreed and action-agendas launched, including how to better scale up and finance adaptation” should be welcomed. However, as ever, we cannot let complacency take root and must maximize the pressure for the forthcoming INDCs to be meaningful and verifiable commitments.

Overall COP 20 in Lima was consistent with expectations. Together with other important events (the UN Climate Summit in New York, the EU Policy Framework on Energy and Climate, the US-China deal, etc.) it contributed to pave the way for an important agreement in Paris. The idea of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions was already circulated and debated months ago. It became concrete in Lima and this is a very positive change, crucial to achieve a large participation to the Paris agreement. Now it’s time to go back to climate finance and to agree not only on the size of additional resources to be devoted to climate mitigation and adaptation, but rather on the policy signals to redirect the huge amount of resources devoted every year to energy infrastructures, buildings, city development and transports towards a low carbon transition path.

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Almost two days later than scheduled, the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP20) in Lima, Peru, closed on Sunday, December 14th adopting a set of 32 documents aimed at progressing towards the definition of the new deal to be agreed at the COP21 in Paris next year.

Central element of the Lima deal are the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) which include in one term both developed and developing countries’ plans to fight climate change from 2020 on. All Parties are, indeed, invited to communicate them to the UNFCCC well in advance of the COP21 (the not mandatory deadline remains March 31, 2015). In addition, Lima made progress in elaborating the elements for a draft negotiating text that has been included as an Annex to the document and that would be the base for the future negotiating draft text to be released by May 2015.

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Major outcomes of the deal can be summarized as follows:

– common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances: developed and developing countries have both to act to cut their carbon emissions but considering their different financial and infrastructural capacities;

– Greenhouses gas plans: the document reiterates its invitation to all Parties to communicate their intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) by the end of March 2015 in order to facilitate clarity, transparency and understanding. The information provided may include quantifiable information such as time frames and / or periods for implementation, scope and coverage, planning processes, assumptions and methodological approaches including those for estimating and accounting for anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.?INDCs will be published on the UNFCCC website by the UN climate change secretariat which will prepare by 1 November 2015 a synthesis report on the overall climate effect of the INDCs communicated by Parties;

– Loss and Damage: a “loss and damage” mechanism was established to protect developing countries particularly vulnerable to the adverse effect of climate change in order to receive economic compensations;

– Climate finance: the document urges developed countries to provide and mobilize enhanced financial support to developing countries for ambitious mitigation and adaptation actions. Donations to a Green Climate Fund, launched to help poor countries cut their GHG emissions and adapt to climate change, have already surpassed the $10bn.

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For more information:

The full text of the deal

The summary of key outcomes provided by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
Overview of decisions adopted at COP20 and CMP10

The infographics realized by the Italian Climate Network, a synthesis of the Parties’ different positions

Events
IAERE Third Annual Conference

Adaptation Climate Change Impacts Climate Change Risks Climate Projections Energy Efficiency ETS – Emission trading scheme Extreme events Forestry management GHG – Greenhouse gases Hydrogeological Risk International negotiations IPCC Land use Mediterranean Area

Mitigation National policies Public opinion Rio+20 Sustainable development UN Climate Change Conference – COP

Related content:

COP20, a positive step forward or a skirmish before the real battle?

A different view on Lima COP 20

From Lima to Paris 2015: challenges on the road to 2°C

Climate talks: what was agreed in Lima

Safe navigation in the Mediterranean sea

Research papers:
RP0233 – High resolution climate scenarios on Mediterranean test case areas for the hydro-climate integrated system
RP0232 – The Passive Use Value of the Mediterranean Forest
RP0231 – Loss & Damage: a Critical Discourse Analysis
RP0230 – Performance evaluation of integrated system to model the climate change impacts on hydro-geological hazard
RP0229 – The stability and effectiveness of climate coalitions:
A comparative analysis of multiple integrated assessment models


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Tel. +39 0832 288650 Fax +39 0832 277603 Email:  info at cmcc.it

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