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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 27th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

70 years after Hiroshima & Nagasaki, Are we smarter? Are we more human? That was the question!
As reported by Ms.Irith Jawetz, July 27, 2015.

An unusual event took place on Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at the OIIP (Austrian Institute for International Politics. In spite of the unusual high temperatures and a very feeble AC, the room was almost full. I will try to present the essence of that event.

The panel included:

- Ms.Judith Brandner, Since 1984 radio journalist and radio producer for Ö1, but also on DRS2, D-RADIO and SWR2.
- Ambassador Alexander Kmentt; Austria’s Director for Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament. Ambassador Kmentt has received the highest number of votes in an online poll to determine the “2014 Arms Control Person of the Year.” Nine other worthy candidates were nominated by the staff of the Arms Control Association for their significant achievements and contributions to reducing the threats posed by the world’s most dangerous weapons in the past year.

Ambassador Kmentt, who started his career at the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs in 1994 and has been a leading disarmament diplomat for many years, was recognized for organizing the third International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, Dec. 8-9, 2014 in Vienna, which drew delegations representing 158 states, the United Nations, and civil society.

- Prof. Heinz Gärtner OIIP, Professor at the University of Vienna, His research priorities include international and European security; US foreign and security policy; Theories of international politics; Developments in world politics; Arms control.

- Hakan Akbulut, Research Assistant at OIIP, Areas of Research: Nuclear proliferation,Turkish foreign and security policy .

The moderator was Fabio Polly, who has been with the Austrian Radio ORF for more than 30 years. He was head of the ORF young journalists training in 1996. Since then, in the radio’s external policy, with temporary interruptions as moderator of various information programs (among others Ö1-journals).

He spent a total of four years as a correspondent in Germany and in the US. Focus of Reporting: international security, disarmament, nuclear weapons and the Middle East; Travel to Afghanistan (Kabul) to Iraq (Baghdad), to South Africa (Johannesburg).

The main concern of all the panelists was that 70 years after the Atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the problem of nuclear weapons has not been solved. Even the reasons for that terrible event have not been completely clear until now, and may never be fully known. Those two cities were totally destroyed, ten thousands of people killed, and the aftermath was immense. Those events emphasized how dangerous those weapons are.

In the arsenal of 9 countries there are now approximately 16,300 nuclear war-heads. Those weapons are part of a deterrent policy, which was developed during the Cold War. The objection to a notion of a world without nuclear power is strong, however there is a second notion now, which stems from a humanitarian point of view that maybe the world is better off without those weapons.

Ms. Brandner talked about her personal experience visiting universities in Japan and interviewing people who have relatives who still remember the Hiroshima & Nagasaki events and still have psychological scars from that day. One student talked about her Grandfather who lived through this nightmare and for years after could not talk about it. He then came to be interviewed, opened up and talked for two hours non stops about the horrors of that day. He spoke about the slow deaths of the people, the stifling heat and the stench, the burning corpses lying on the streets for days. The Grandfather lived to be 88 years old but carried this trauma with him all his life.

One of the topics of the debate was the notion that nuclear weapons are a deterrent. Does it really work? Is it really a deterrent? Can one rely on the fact that the leaders of those countries who possess those weapons will really only refer to them as a deterrent factor and not use them?

Ambassador Kmentt stressed the fact that human error can be the most dangerous factor in having nuclear weapons. He compared it to a pilot in a plane who, if he makes a mistake and pushes the wrong button, the plane goes down and all passengers and crew will die. If a wrong button is pushed or any button is pushed for some reason on a nuclear weapon the consequences are unimaginable. The system has too many risks.

Prof. Gärtner believes a deterrent is only effective if it is believable by both sides that the weapons would be used.
He gave a bit of an historical view on Hiroshima & Nagasaki and said that the United States always contained that it was needed to end the war. Too many U.S. soldiers have died in World War II and it looked as if the Japanese were not ready to surrender. The questions remains, would they have surrendered had they known of the existence of the nuclear bomb? That’s where the deterrent part comes in. Another version for the necessity of ending the war this way was the fear of the U.S. that Russia would march into Japan and take over. Was that reason enough to use the Atom bomb?

Touching on the Iran deal which was signed in Vienna only a few days earlier the speakers agreed that Iran should be given a chance to prove itself worthy of the confidence that the Allies have put into that deal. The Iran deal will define what is for peace and what is for war. On a questions from the audience how can one be certain that technically the weapons are not to be used for war, the answer was that one cannot be 100% sure of it, but one has to trust the Iranians to some extent.

I would like to elaborate a bit on one aspect which was mentioned a few times during the conversation. It was the fact that nine nations — the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea — possess approximately 16,300 nuclear weapons. in total. Under the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START), Russia and the United States have reduced their inventories but still account for more than 93% of all operational nuclear warheads. Opened for signature in 1968, the Treaty entered into force in 1970. On 11 May 1995, the Treaty was extended indefinitely. More countries have adhered to the NPT than any other arms limitation and disarmament agreement, a testament to the Treaty’s significance.

A total of 191 states have joined the Treaty, though North Korea, which acceded to the NPT in 1985 but never came into compliance, announced its withdrawal in 2003. Four UN member states have never joined the NPT: India, Israel, Pakistan and South Sudan.

In contrast to those countries, New Zealand is one small country which in 1984 barred nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ships from using New Zealand ports or entering New Zealand waters. Under the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act of 1987, territorial sea, land and airspace of New Zealand became nuclear-free zones. This has since remained a part of New Zealand’s foreign policy.

The debate went on for a long time with no clear answer to the topic question: 70 years after: Are we smarter, are we more human? Nuclear weapons are basically only safe if used as a deterrent, but they are extremely dangerous if actually used.

Being a deterrent when two opposing sides are both nuclear armed – the certainty of a second strike becomes in effect an insurance of peace. That was the concept of M.A.D. (Mutually Assured Destruction) that lowered animosity between the two sides in the Cold War. The destruction caused in the two events in Japan – big as they were are nevertheless small compared to what, relatively, the new arms could do. The question is indeed, watching today’s ideological enemies, are they mellow enough to take the M.A.D. idea seriously? Will it always be a Head of State that has the nuclear button, or could it be that a device ends up with a group of insurgents?

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 13th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Reported by Irith Jawetz from Vienna
July 12. 2015

On Friday, July 10, 2015 – a very timely – at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna.
Since the Iran talks are being held in Vienna, the panel discussion was very appropriate and although many people have left the City for the Summer, or at least for the weekend, this round table – and the room were full.
I will try to give a somewhat concise reporting of that event.

The event was called: Iran und der Westen nach den Verhandlungen (Iran and the West after the talks).

The participants were:

Dr. Christian Prosl, Austrian Ambassador to Washingtion 2009-2011

Dr. Walter Posch, Institut für Friedenssicherung und Konfliktforschung an der Landesverteidigungsakademie Wien
( Institute for Peace Support and Conflict Management, Vienna).

Dr. Arian Faal, Journalist, APA (the Austrian Press Agency) and Wiener Zeitung

The excellent moderator was Dr. Werner Fasslabend, President of the Politische Akademie und des AIES, former Austrian Minister for Defense.

—————————–

Dr. Fasselabend opened the discussion stating that only 99.9% of the talks are completed.

He continued by by displaying historic and current maps of the Region, giving us a broad historic overview of Iran and its influence on the region. He stressed that because of Iran’s geographical location it was and still is a very large regional power and stability in the Middle East without Iran’s cooperation is impossible.

Dr. Arian Faal, Journalist for APA (Austrian Press Agentur) and Wiener Zeitung gave us an inside look from the perspective of the journalists covering the talks.

He recalled that after 17 days, 12-16 hours of work, 600 journalists and at a cost of about $1 million for the stay in Vienna by US Secretary of State John Kerry and his delegation at the famous Imperial Hotel, there is still no deal. There have been many improvements since the beginning of the talks, but still no deal. Mr. Kerry has prolonged his stay yet again and said a deadline will not be a factor as long as an agreement can be achieved. The new deadline to be breached is Monday July 13th.

The three major problems that stand in the way of an agreement are:

1) The sanctions on Iran – the Iranian delegation insists those have to be lifted right away;

2) The UN Arms Embargo that includes conventional weapons;

3) Political readiness by President Obama and Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran. Both have to agree to a deal which will be accepted at home.

Dr. Faal said he is an optimist by nature and is still hopeful that an agreement will be reached.

Ambassador Dr. Christian Prosl addressed the matter from the US point of view. He said that for the US the stability of the region and the security of the State of Israel are the main factors and the two problems which the US faces are with Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Both countries, though for different reasons, are against any deal with Iran since they do not trust the Iranian regime.

As for the supply of oil, this is not anymore a factor for the US because of the fracking industry. However, the strained relationship between President Obama and the Republican party may be a factor. The Republicans have tried for a long time now to see that President Obama fails, and they may try to fail him also in this endeavor. Mr. Netanyahu’s speech in Congress against the Iran deal, which was prompted by the invitation of Speaker of the House John Boemer, did not help. However Ambassador Prosl said that he cannot imagine that the Republicans will fail the agreement if it is iron clad and the treaty will be safe for the US.

Dr. Posch addressed the matter from the Iranian point of view and concluded that although the problems are being viewed from different perspective, i.e. US, the EU and Iran, the will is there. Regional security, oil supply and human rights in Iran all play a part in the talks. He also was hopeful that a deal will be signed

At the end of the panel presentations, Dr. Fasselabend invited to the podium Dr. Massud Mossaheb, General Secretary of the Austro-Iranian Society in Vienna.

Mr. Mossaheb said that there is mutual mistrust between the West and the Iranian Government.

In spite of the fact that the Iranian nuclear position has not changed in the last 40 years, there is still mistrust. The people of Iran hope for the lifting of the sanctions so they can have a better quality of life. They suffer from high inflation and lack of supplies, especially in medications. Dr. Mossaheb also hopes for a deal to be reached.

As the end, the consensus was that the talks will go on, of course not for ever, but without the threat of an immediate deadline, and an agreement, which will be safe and beneficial for all participants will be reached.

——————–

From the US MEDIA – I will add to the above
that the personal insistence of President Obama and Secretary Kerry, the opinion is that the White House investment in these talks is so high that a failure to obtain an agreement is unthinkable.

The fact that the Iranians see this deep involvement of the Americans has in itself weakened the position of the United States in these negotiations. But then, the Iran Supreme leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei – whose position is still strong as he is still blindly followed by the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) who are in charge of the Nuclear Program – may be using tough talk now just to make sure that his agreeing to an agreement is not viewed as weakness. The Iranian people want an end to the sanctions provided it is not seen as a cave in (the CNN/GPS program of Fareed Zakaria).

The current round, now in its 16-th day, was supposed to conclude on June 30, but was extended until July 7, then July 10 and now July 13. The sides had hoped to seal a deal before the end of Thursday in Washington to avoid delays in implementing their promises.

By missing that target, the U.S. and Iran now have to wait for a 60-day congressional review period during which President Barack Obama can’t waive sanctions on Iran. Had they reached a deal by Thursday, the review would have been only 30 days.

En route to Mass at Vienna’s St. Stephens Cathedral, Kerry said twice he was “hopeful” after a “very good meeting” Saturday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who had Muslim services Friday.

Kerry noted that “a few tough things” remain in the way of agreement but added: “We’re getting to some real decisions.”

A senior State Department official also said Sunday that the department will not speculate about the timing of anything during the talks and that key issues remain unresolved.

Iran’s state-run Press TV cited Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday as calling the U.S. an “excellent example of arrogance.” It reported that Khamenei told university students in Tehran to be “prepared to continue the struggle against arrogant powers.”

His comments suggest Tehran’s distrust of Washington will persist whether a deal gets done or not. Khamenei’s comments also have appeared thus to be a blow to U.S. hopes than agreement will lead to improved relations with the country and possible cooperation against Islamic rebels.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, like Kerry, indicated talks could go either way. “We behaved so skillfully that if talks won’t succeed, the world would accept that Iran is for logic and dialogue and never left the negotiating table … and if we succeed by the grace of God, the world will know that the Iranian nation can resolve its problems through logic,” his website quoted him as saying.

The supreme leader’s comments also come after it was learned Saturday that the Islamic Republic’s spies have been seeking atomic and missile technology in neighboring Germany as recently as last month.

Iran’s illegal activities have continued since talks between Iran and the P5+1 – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council as well as rotating member Germany – began with a Joint Plan of Action in 2013, according to German intelligence sources. The JPOA was intended to stop Iran’s work on a nuclear weapon until a comprehensive agreement is reached.

“You would think that with the negotiations, [Iranian] activities would drop,” a German intelligence source said. “Despite the talks to end Iran’s program, Iran did not make an about-turn.”

With a final agreement to restrict Iran’s nuclear program set for Monday, the intelligence data from Germany raises disturbing questions about the success of the deal.

Tehran has sought industry computers, high-speed cameras, cable fiber, and pumps for its nuclear and missile program over the last two years, according to German intelligence sources. Germany is required to report Iran’s illegal procurement activities to the UN.

Iran is unlikely to begin a substantial rollback of its nuclear program until it gets sanctions relief in return.

But then the Russian and Chinese Foreign Ministers said they will come to Vienna for the signing of the agreement – and the news are that Mr. Sergei Lavrov has said he will be there on Monday.

An Iranian diplomat said that they have a 100 pages document to study and that logistically it cannot be done by Sunday night with parallel meetings going on.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 11th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Kurt Bayer’s Commentary // Global Economic Policy
Blog URL: kurtbayer.wordpress.com

July 11, 2015 · —

Die Eurozone nach “Griechenland”
 kurtbayer.wordpress.com/2015/07/…

Die Griechenlandkrise ist eigentlich eine Eurokrise, Griechenland nur eine extreme Ausprägung der Eurokrise.

Damit will ich keinesfalls die “Mitschuld” der griechischen Regierung an der Misere leugnen, jedoch: Die vielen, letztlich oft unnützen Treffen der Eurogruppe und der Staats- und Regierungschefs waren eine massive Verschwendung von karger Zeit der Politikerinnen. Sie zeugen auch von der Hilflosigkeit der Verhandlungsführung. Mehr aber noch zeigen die letzten sechs zermürbenden Monate seit Regierungsantritt von Syriza mehr als deutlich, dass die Eurozone nicht über ausreichende Institutionen zur Führung einer Währungsunion verfügt, und dass ganz offenbar die Ausrichtung der von der Eurozone verfolgten Wirtschaftspolitik falsch ist. Woran man dies sieht? Sieben Jahre nach Ausbruch der Finanzkrise (in den USA) erreicht die Eurozone erst heuer das Wirtschaftsleistungsniveau von 2007, während das Nationalprodukt der USA um 11% über jenem von 2007D liegt. Die Arbeitslosenrate der Eurozone ist in diesem Zeitraum von 7.5% auf 11.2.% gestiegen, die katastrophalen Zahlen der Jugendarbeitslosigkeit (eine politische Zeitbombe) von mehr als 50% in vielen Ländern stellen einen nicht zu überhörenden Weckruf dar – und die Schuldenquote der Euroländer, deren Senkung das erklärte Ziel der Euro-Wirtschaftspolitik ist, ist sogar von 68% des BIP auf 91% angestiegen. Wie viel mehr traurigen Beweises des Fehlschlagens einer Wirtschaftspolitik bedarf es noch?

Zu den institutionellen Mängeln hat kürzlich der Bericht der „5 Präsidenten“ Juncker, Tusk, Dijsselbloom, Draghi, Schulz  ec.europa.eu/priorities/economic-…) ausführlich Stellung genommen (siehe dazu in diesem Blog den Beitrag vom 23.6.2015) . Er soll – wenn der Fall Griechenland es zuläßt, im ECOFIN und EU-Gipfel Mitte Juli 2015 erstmals diskutiert werden. Die Präsidenten fordern, dass eine Währungsunion von Ländern mit sehr unterschiedlicher Wirtschaftskraft, innerstaatlichen Institutionen und Geschichte Institutionen benötigt, die das „Europäische“ vor die Einzelinteressen der Mitglieder stellen, um funktionieren zu können. Es braucht neben der bestehenden gemeinsamen Geldpolitik (manifestiert in der Europäischen Zentralbank) viererlei: eine Bankenunion (gemeinsame Aufsicht, gemeinsamer Rettungsfonds, gemeinsame Einlagensicherung), eine Wirtschaftsunion (zur Festlegung eines gemeinsamen Rahmens für die Wirtschaftspolitik), eine Fiskalunion (zur gemeinsam an der Eurozone orientierten Budgetpolitik, zur Verhinderung des destruktiven Steuerwettbewerbs) und, über all diesen stehend, eine Politische Union, die es ermöglicht, im Dialog zwischen europäischen Behörden (Parlament, Kommission, Rat) und nationalen Behörden (Parlamenten, Zivilgesellschaft, Regierungen) gemeinsame europäische Linien zu finden, die breitest in der Bevölkerung unterstützt werden. Nur mit breiter Unterstützung sind die getroffenen Maßnahmen zur klaglosen Funktion der Währungsunion umsetzbar und wirksam.

Die 5 meinen zurecht, dass es all dieser „Unionen“ gemeinsam bedarf, um die Währungsunion zum Funktionieren zu bringen. Es gilt, den Mitgliedsländern der Währungsunion ganz klar zu machen, dass sie mit ihrem Eintritt in diese besondere Art der Währungsunion (die keinen „optimalen Währungsraum“ im Sinne der Wirtschaftstheorie darstellt) eigenstaatliche Souveränität aufgegeben und an die Euro-Organe abgegeben haben. Es geht dann nicht mehr, seine je eigenen Vorstellungen von Wirtschaftspolitik durchzusetzen. Vielmehr muss eine Wirtschaftspolitik für alle Eurozonenteilnehmer, für die Eurozone als Ganzes, gefunden und umgesetzt werden.

Im Inhaltlichen jedoch bleibt der Präsidentenbericht stumm. Er meint, mit der Vervollständigung der angesprochenen „Unionen“ sein Auslangen zu finden. Er sagt nichts zur Ausrichtung der Wirtschaftspolitik. Maggie Thatcher’s TINA („there is no alternative“) gilt nicht für die Richtung der Wirtschaftspolitik, dort gibt es immer Alternativen. Sieht man, dass die bislang verfolgte Richtung versagt hat, dann dann haben verantwortungsbewusste Europapolitikerinnen die Richtung zu ändern und die Fetischisierung der Budgetkonsolidierung („Austerität“) zugunsten einer breit gefächerten Wirtschaftspolitik aufzugeben. Bekämpfung der Arbeitslosigkeit und Armut, nachhaltiges Wirtschaftswachstum, niedrige Inflation und Ausgleich von Leistungsbilanzunterschieden sind mindestens so wichtig wie ein mittelfristig ausgeglichenes Budget. Der weit überwiegende Teil der EU-Wirtschaftspolitik bezieht sich jedoch auf Durchsetzung einer Budgetkonsolidierung. Eine Euro-weite Politik für ein „gutes Leben“ gibt es jedoch nicht.

Es ist höchst an der Zeit, das generelle Versagen der Eurozone einer durchgehenden Neubewertung zu unterziehen, und sowohl die „Geburtsfehler“ als auch die einseitig auf Budgetkonsolidierung ausgerichtete Wirtschaftspolitik zu korrigieren. Die nächste Krise kommt bestimmt. Ohne institutionelle und vor allem auch inhaltliche Neuausrichtung wird die Eurozone sie nicht überstehen!

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Recent Posts:

Die Eurozone nach “Griechenland” July 11, 2015
Zeitenwende in der Eurozone July 6, 2015
Europa – Griechenland- Verantwortung June 30, 2015
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Institutional Set-up and Conflict Resolution for Socio-Ecological Transition June 25, 2015
Der Bericht der “5 Präsidenten” zur Vollendung der Wirtschafts- und Währungsunion June 23, 2015
Geplänkel ums britische EU-Referendum als Vorboten der Schlacht June 17, 2015
“Generalverdacht” oder Durchbruch für Steuerehrlichkeit? May 26, 2015
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###

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

Burlington, Vermont (CNN)It wouldn’t be the first time a revolution sparked in New England changed the world.

But two and a half centuries after the insurrection that birthed America, the idea that a rumpled radical like 73-year-old Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders could overthrow the U.S. economic, health care and tax systems seems farfetched at best.

Yet that’s exactly the task the fiery U.S. senator has set himself in a presidential campaign targeting billionaire “oligarchs” who he says have hijacked America’s economy and inflicted misery on the middle class.

Sanders, an agitator who doesn’t suffer fools, political opponents or journalists gladly, is testing whether the kind of populist, liberal agenda that gave him 75% approval ratings in his adopted home state can catch fire nationwide.

READ: Bernie Sanders’ brotherly love

“Brothers and sisters: Now is not the time for thinking small,” Sanders told thousands of supporters in Burlington on Tuesday.

“Now is not the time for the same-old, same-old establishment politics and stale inside-the-Beltway ideas,” Sanders said in an implicit denunciation of the runaway front-runner for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton.

The obstacles Sanders faces in the presidential primary race, however, are immense.

Sanders has no viable countrywide political organization, so he must foment a grassroots uprising. His task is complicated by the fact that although he caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate, he has always been a political independent wary of formal party affiliations.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Obama has lost Paul Krugman: Administration’s selling of new trade pact “a snow job.”

There has been no good faith effort to address reasonable concerns from well-intentioned critics
Review by Scott Eric Kaufman, Salon Web-magazine.
 www.salon.com/2015/05/22/obama_ha…

Kaufman writes: In Friday’s column, the New York Times’ Paul Krugman argued that although he generally approves of the forthrightness with which the Obama administration has dealt with economic issues, when it comes to international trade and investment, the president deserves a failing grade.

Especially, he wrote, on the subject of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the quasi-secret deal that the administration has teamed up with Republican Congressman Paul Ryan (W) to push through the House.

“[the] selling of the 12-nation Pacific Rim pact has the feel of a snow job,” he argued. “Officials have evaded the main concerns about the content of a potential deal; they’ve belittled and dismissed the critics; and they’ve made blithe assurances that turn out not to be true.”

——————————–
 krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/05…

ALSO: Paul Krugman – New York Times Blog Trade and Trust.

May 17, 2015

I’m getting increasingly unhappy with the way the Obama administration is handling the dispute over TPP. I understand the case for the deal, and while I still lean negative I’m not one of those who believes that it would be an utter disaster.

But the administration — and the president himself — don’t help their position by being dismissive of the complaints and lecturing the critics (Elizabeth Warren in particular) about how they just have no idea what they’re talking about. That would not be a smart strategy even if the administration had its facts completely straight — and it doesn’t. Instead, assurances about what is and isn’t in the deal keep turning out to be untrue. We were assured that the dispute settlement procedure couldn’t be used to force changes in domestic laws; actually, it apparently could. We were told that TPP couldn’t be used to undermine financial reform; again, it appears that it could.

How important are these concerns? It’s hard to judge. But the administration is in effect saying trust us, then repeatedly bobbling questions about the deal in a way that undermines that very trust.

——————————

We have a particular problem here – this with no less then the Great New York Times.

The problem is that in the paper’s greed to make money they hide the important views of Paul Krugman by asking the internet readers to pay subscription money. We know this is a subject for long discussions – but what if a great economist is indeed trying to save the country and the World and a Board that owns a large chunk of media sources just gets in his way?

What if I tell you that the opinion page of that paper, years ago, seemed to be sold to the Mobil Oil Corporation that regularly had a quarter page advertisement that left no interest space for the paper’s business-folks when it came to non-petroleum fuels?

###

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

Environment
EU Dropped Pesticide Laws Due to U.S. Pressure over TTIP, Documents Reveal.

U.S. trade officials pushed EU to shelve action on endocrine-disrupting chemicals linked to cancer and male infertility to facilitate TTIP free trade deal.

By Arthur Neslen / The Guardian
May 25, 2015

EU moves to regulate hormone-damaging chemicals linked to cancer and male infertility were shelved following pressure from U.S. trade officials over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) free trade deal, newly released documents show.

Draft EU criteria could have banned 31 pesticides containing endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). But these were dumped amid fears of a trade backlash stoked by an aggressive U.S. lobby push, access to information documents obtained by Pesticides Action Network (PAN) Europe show.

On the morning of July 2, 2013, a high-level delegation from the U.S. Mission to Europe and the American Chambers of Commerce (AmCham) visited EU trade officials to insist that the bloc drop its planned criteria for identifying EDCs in favor of a new impact study. By the end of the day, the EU had done so.

Minutes of the meeting show commission officials pleading that “although they want the TTIP to be successful, they would not like to be seen as lowering the EU standards”.

The TTIP is a trade deal being agreed by the EU and U.S. to remove barriers to commerce and promote free trade.

Responding to the EU officials, AmCham representatives “complained about the uselessness of creating categories and thus, lists” of prohibited substances, the minutes show.

The U.S. trade representatives insisted that a risk-based approach be taken to regulation, and “emphasized the need for an impact assessment” instead.

Later that day, the secretary-general of the commission, Catherine Day, sent a letter to the environment department’s director Karl Falkenberg, telling him to stand down the draft criteria.


“We suggest that as other DGs [directorate-generals] have done, you consider making a joint single impact assessment to cover all the proposals,” Day wrote. “We do not think it is necessary to prepare a commission recommendation on the criteria to identify endocrine disrupting substances.”

The result was that legislation planned for 2014 was kicked back until at least 2016, despite estimated health costs of €150bn ($165bn) per year in Europe from endocrine-related illnesses such as IQ loss, obesity and cryptorchidism — a condition affecting the genitals of baby boys.

A month before the meeting, AmCham had warned the EU of “wide-reaching implications” if the draft criteria were approved. The trade body wanted an EU impact study to set looser thresholds for acceptable exposure to endocrines, based on a substance’s potency.

“We are worried to see that this decision, which is the source of many scientific debates, might be taken on political grounds, without first assessing what its impacts will be on the European market,” the chair of AmCham’s environment committee wrote in a letter to the commission.

These could be “dramatic” the letter said.

In a high-level internal note sent to the health commissioner, Tonio Borg, shortly afterwards, his departmental director-general warned that the EU’s endocrines policy “will have substantial impacts for the economy, agriculture and trade”.


The heavily redacted letter, sent a week before the EU’s plans were scrapped continued: “The US, Canada, and Brazil [have] already voiced concerns on the criteria which might lead to important repercussions on trade.”


The series of events was described as “incredible” by the the Green MEP Bas Eickhout. “These documents offer convincing evidence that TTIP not only presents a danger for the future lowering of European standards, but that this is happening as we speak,”
he told the Guardian.

Earlier this year, 64 MEP’s submitted questions to the commission about the delay to EDC classifications, following revelations by the Guardian about the scale of industry lobbying in the run up to their abandonment. Sweden, the European Parliament and European Council have brought court proceedings against the commission for the legislative logjam.

Just weeks before the regulations were dropped there had been a barrage of lobbying from big European firms such as Dupont, Bayer and BASF over EDCs. The chemical industry association Cefic warned that the endocrines issue “could become an issue that impairs the forthcoming EU-US trade negotiations”.

The German chemicals giant BASF also complained that bans on pesticide substances “will restrict the free trade with agricultural products on the global level”.

Around this time, the commission’s more industry-friendly agriculture department weighed into the internal EU debate after being “informed by representatives of the US chemical industry” about it.

A common theme in the lobby missives was the need to set thresholds for safe exposure to endocrines, even though a growing body of scientific results suggests that linear threshold models – in which higher doses create greater effects – do not apply to endocrine disruptors.

“The human endocrine system is regulated by hormones and the hormone receptors are sensitive to low doses,” said Hans Muilerman, PAN Europe’s chemicals coordinator. “In animal toxicity studies, effects are seen from low doses [of endocrines] that disappear with higher ones. But in the regulatory arena, lower doses are not tested for.”

A commission spokesperson insisted that health and environmental concerns would be fully addressed, despite pressure from industry or trade groups.

“The ongoing EU impact assessment procedure is not linked in any way to the TTIP negotiations,” the official said. “The EU will proceed to the adoption of definitive criteria to identify endocrine disruptors, independently from the further course of our TTIP negotiations with the US.”

An EU-TTIP position paper on chemicals published last May, cited endocrine disruptors as as one of the “new and emerging scientific issues” which the EU and the US could consider for “enhanced regulatory cooperations” in a future TTIP deal.

“However, given the fact that a possible future TTIP Agreement will most likely not enter into force before the adoption of definitive EU criteria to identify endocrine disruptors, it is clear that the EU’s ongoing impact assessment and adoption of definitive criteria will not be dealt with in the TTIP negotiations,” the spokesperson said.

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Arthur Neslen is the Europe environment correspondent at the Guardian. He has previously worked for the BBC, the Economist, Al Jazeera, and EurActiv, where his journalism won environmental awards.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 23rd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From pro-American to pro-Russian? Nikola Gruevski as a political chameleon.
Vassilis Petsinis, 22 May 2015, openDemocracy, London

A former staunch ally of the US-led War on Terror, Macedonia PM Nikola Gruevski has gradually turned his country away from the west towards Russia – all the while keeping his neoconservative ideology intact.

Following the unrest in Kumanovo and the massive anti-government protests, FYR Macedonia has captivated the interest of the international press. The most recent mobilization has been the peak of a wave of discontent that commenced with the countrywide student protests some weeks ago. In the domestic front, opposition circles have issued a series of charges against the government led by the conservative VMRO-DPMNE such as: promotion of nepotism, unwillingness to combat corruption, illegitimate surveillance of political opponents and, on top of all, growing authoritarianism.

Meanwhile, political analysts have detected a certain rift in the relations between Skopje and the West which has resulted in the Macedonian government’s more decisive reorientation towards Moscow.

Russia has pledged its political support to Nikola Gruevski’s and the two sides have extended their cooperation in energy issues and other areas of economic concern. Without neglecting the crucial impact of shifting geopolitics, this brief piece mostly concentrates on VMRO-DPMNE’s, predominantly, neoconservative agenda under the leadership of Nikola Gruevski. It also sets in a comparative context how this neoconservative platform has remained intact despite the gradual readjustment of the state’s foreign policy from Euro-Atlantic institutions towards Moscow’s orbit of influence.

From one neocon to another:

In 2003, Nikola Gruevski succeeded Ljub?o Georgievski in the party’s leadership. An ambitious young politician back then, Gruevski’s main ambition was to centralize decision-making within VMRO-DPMNE and modernize the party’s structures.

The latter objective was achieved via the recruitment of a younger pool of cadres. Following a widespread trend all over Southeast Europe (e.g. Albania’s Edi Rama and Serbia’s Vuk Jeremi?), the party’s central committee and later the Cabinet of Ministers consisted of young, aspiring and, often, Western-educated individuals (e.g. the Foreign Minister between 2006 and 2011, Antonio Milošoski). Moreover, Gruevski maintained the central aspects of Georgievski’s strategy of rapprochement vis-à-vis the ethnic Albanian community.

Despite this, Gruevski’s term in office has been marked by the emphatic endorsement of Neo-Macedonism to the detriment of the modernist narratives over the Macedonian ethno-genesis in the nineteenth century. The adoption of Neo-Macedonism became further institutionalized through the endorsement of grandiose architectural projects, largely inspired by classical antiquity, which commenced in 2010.

On the domestic front, the Socialists/SDSM and other opposition circles accused the government of investing a disproportional percentage of the state’s budget on these projects. In foreign policy, the emphasis on Neo-Macedonism further complicated relations with the southern neighbour, Greece.

Since the early days of Nikola Gruevski’s term in office, the ‘new’ VMRO-DPMNE drew inspiration from the rather influential trend of neoconservatism among policymaking circles in the US. As it was the case with various other statesmen in Central and Southeast Europe (e.g. Romania’s Traian B?sescu), Nikola Gruevski underlined his firm commitment to Euro-Atlantic institutions and opted for the rapid liberalization of the economy along post-Keynesian lines.

Meanwhile, Gruevski constantly stressed his deep faith in God and highlighted the significance of Eastern Orthodoxy and its system of moral values as a fundamental pillar of the state’s identity. In the field of foreign policy, Nikola Gruevski soon emerged as a staunch supporter of George W. Bush’s policy-doctrine on the Middle East. Throughout the 2000s, FYR Macedonia had dispatched military personnel to Afghanistan and Iraq under the auspices of the US-led ‘Coalition of the Willing’.

The NATO summit in Bucharest (April 2-4, 2008) was a landmark. As a gesture of gratitude to its small Balkan ally, the US delegation elaborated possible ways to include FYR Macedonia in the NATO enlargement round irrespective of the state’s dispute with Greece. However, the Greek PM, Kostas Karamanlis, vetoed this proposal on the basis that any outstanding issues with the northern neighbour must be previously resolved in order for Greece to grant its assent.

The Greek veto was met with discontent in Washington and infuriated Skopje. Especially in the light of Karamanlis’ opening to Russia, Skopje-based policymakers and think-tanks did not simply charge Athens with ‘parochial and introverted nationalism’. They went a step further and accused Greece of acting as a ‘Trojan horse’ in Moscow’s service with the aim to destabilize NATO and sabotage its enlargement in Southeast Europe.

The pendulum shifts: Fluctuating geopolitics and disillusionment with the West

Barack Obama, who succeeded G.W. Bush to the US Presidency in 2009, watered down various aspects of his predecessor’s ‘hawkish’ foreign policy. Instead, the new administration in the White House opted for a doctrine of appeasement in regards to their regional competitors (e.g. Russia and Iran).

Meanwhile, the simultaneous advent of the economic crisis made European policymakers more introverted and reluctant to the prospects of the EU’s wider enlargement. With specific regard to FYR Macedonia, European policymakers and political analysts soon stroke a critical stance towards Nikola Gruevski and his apparatus. The main areas of concern were symptoms of nepotism and authoritarianism as well as accusations over the relentless propagation of ‘ethno-kitsch’.

This shifting landscape in global and regional politics had direct ramifications on the government circles in Skopje. Several commentators have argued that delaying the state’s accession to Euro-Atlantic institutions runs detrimental to FYR Macedonia’s stateness and it is largely to account for Skopje’s disillusionment with the West. From a more ‘ideological’ angle, though, the change of guard in the White House and the subsequent adoption of a new US foreign policy doctrine are not to be overlooked either.

In other words, Nikola Gruevski’s government has lost much of the patronage that it enjoyed during George W. Bush’s tenure in office. Moreover, we are currently experiencing the transition from a unipolar to a multipolar world order. The last few years have witnessed the consolidation of semi-authoritarian models of governance among emerging regional actors (e.g. Recep Tayyip Erdo?an in Turkey and Vladimir Putin in Russia). The latter development has encouraged the, if only subtle, admiration of certain statesmen throughout Central and Southeast Europe towards the above-mentioned models.

For instance, Hungary’s Viktor Orbán recently coined the concept of illiberal democracy. According to the Hungarian PM, ‘it is not an imperative that contemporary democracy must be structured along the ideological frame of Liberalism…there can be numerous other models of democracy in Europe, nowadays’. Moreover, Viktor Orbán has also positioned Hungary’s foreign policy more solidly within Russia’s orbit of influence.

In particular, both FIDESZ and VMRO-DPMNE converge along a common axis. Both are post-Communist parties that commenced their engagement in politics as, anti-establishment, umbrella-initiatives that hosted a wide range of conservative as well as liberal standpoints. However, in the long run, local adaptations of neoconservatism evolved into the dominant intra-party trend.

Nikola Gruevski and/or Viktor Orbán are not merely unhappy with the outlook(s) of Euro-Atlantic institutions on their respective states or the way(s) that their rule has been portrayed in the Western press. They have also isolated specific elements in Vladimir Putin’s leadership which they deem rather akin to their brand(s) of neoconservatism. These are, namely, Russia’s leader-centred and strong government, the promotion of national and Christian values, and the safeguarding of ‘naturally ascribed’ gender-roles.

Especially in the light of a multipolar international system, one might contend that the neoconservative, ideological, core in parties such as VMRO-DPMNE and/or FIDESZ has remained intact despite the, apparent, foreign policy readjustment towards Moscow.
What next? Skopje amidst political polarization and fears of ethnic radicalization

In addition to the decline of popular confidence, the government in Skopje may also have to face the challenge of resurgent ethnic radicalization. During the last couple of weeks, a militant group, allegedly consisting of ethnic Albanians, became active in the northern town of Kumanovo. The apparent resurgence of militant Albanian ethno-nationalism triggered a series of conspiracy theories.

Pro-government circles have hinted at the involvement of ‘foreign decision-making centres’ who are not particularly content with the bilateral cooperation between Russia and FYR Macedonia. In the other end of the spectrum, opposition circles have suspected the government of engineering the Kumanovo troubles in an attempt to play the card of ‘national unity’ as a last resort. A third assumption that has not been examined to an adequate extent is the possibility of a peculiar, yet amorphous, blend between Albanian ethno-nationalism and elements of Islamic fundamentalism along the lines of the ‘Chechen precedent’.

Russia, on its part, has been quick to point the finger for both the Kumanovo incidents and the anti-government mobilization at the West. The US and the EU have been accused of orchestrating one more ‘Maidan-style’ coup with the aim to destabilize the government and obstruct cooperation with Russia in energy issues.

Russia Today and other pro-Kremlin media outlets dedicated considerable time to the coverage of pro-government demonstrations where Russian flags also featured among the crowd. Quite a few Western political analysts have expressed the wishful thinking that Nikola Gruevski may be forced to resign under popular pressure and be replaced by a coalition government with a Euro-Atlantic orientation.

Setting regional geopolitics aside, Nikola Gruevski’s opening to Russia reveals an additional pathology of Post-communist politics. Even back at the time when parties such as VMRO-DPMNE and FIDESZ had adjusted their foreign policy more firmly towards the West, their political activity and decision-making had been shaped by local adaptations of the neoconservative narrative. Within the context of their political development, such parties replaced their admiration for certain aspects of American neoconservatism with the endorsement of selected elements found in Vladimir Putin’s semi-authoritarianism while their (neoconservative) ideological core remained intact.

Apart from nominally right-wing parties, centre-left statesmen in the region have also detected, albeit more subtly, some ‘positive’ aspects in Vladimir Putin’s pattern of governance (e.g. the Bulgarian Socialist Party/BSP and Slovakia’s SMER). Therefore, in order to grasp such chameleonic mutations more adequately, one should also pay close attention to political culture among post-Communist parties in Central and Southeast Europe and its evolution.

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Dr Vassilis Petsinis is a Visiting Researcher at the Herder Institute (Marburg, Germany). His main areas of specialization are European Politics and Ethnopolitics with a regional focus on Central and Southeast Europe. His academia.edu profile can be found here.

WE SUGGEST TO THINK ALSO THROUGH THE ELECTION RESULTS IN THE UK WHEN READING ABOVE ARTICLE – THIS SO THAT THE MAKINGS OF A EUROPEAN UNION ARE CONSIDERED WHEN LOOKING AT CENTRIPETAL MOVEMENTS LIKE THOSE APPEARING IN CENTRAL AND SOUTH EASTERN EUROPE.
ALSO, PLEASE DP NOT FORGET THE GREECE/MACEDONIA NAME DISPUTE AND EUROPE’S INCAPABILITY TO TELL THE GREEKS OFF IN THIS MATTER. WHAT A SHAME!

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Macedonia

Related Articles: The deep roots of Macedonia’s current turmoil – and the way forward – Heather Grabbe -the same source.


The deep roots of Macedonia’s current turmoil – and the way forward.

Heather Grabbe 13 May 2015, openDemocracy, London

The country must avoid just replacing the driver in the seat of a captured state machinery – by increasing inclusion and pluralism in governance. This will be impossible without EU and NATO assistance.

For nearly two decades, Macedonia has been a pressure cooker of public anger at corruption, deteriorating governance and chronic unemployment. Now the valve has blown. This year, union-organised strikes were followed by student protests against flawed education reforms. Then the opposition party released recordings of conversations that exposed government wire-tapping of more than 20,000 citizens. Quickly dubbed “bombs”, these recordings were released over the last three months by the main opposition party leader at press conferences. On them appear the voices of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, senior officials, journalists, judges and security officials conspiring in electoral and judicial fraud, and organising systemic corruption. On the latest, released on 4 May, the prime minister discusses with interior ministry officials a cover-up of the murder in June 2011 by one of his bodyguards of 21-year old Martin Neshkovski, a student who supported the ruling party.

These revelations have led to a new wave of protests, led by grassroots networks of civil society rather than the opposition party. The young activists have become more radical in their demands under sustained attacks by riot police and government infiltrators, who provoked the protestors for five nights in a row. Last Friday, they pledged to come back to demand the resignation of the prime minister. Then the population awoke on Saturday morning to news of what the government called a “terrorist attack” in an ethnically mixed neighbourhood in Kumanovo, a town near the Serbia/Kosovo border. The results were the deaths of police officers and arrests of alleged terrorists. The government-controlled media called for unquestioning support for the government, and labelled as a traitor anyone who disputed the official interpretation of events. What is going on? Is this a security crisis or a consolidation of power by the ruling party in the face of mounting opposition?

High stakes – but for security or politics?

The shootings in Kumanovo have woken up the rest of the world because they are reminiscent of the security crisis fifteen years ago, when ethnic Albanians took to the hills with their guns to demand rights, representation and jobs. The country narrowly escaped a full-blown civil war thanks to the Ohrid Agreement, which gave the Albanians greater political and economic inclusion, including quotas for public-sector jobs and parliamentary seats.

It was NATO and the EU that took responsibility for Macedonia’s security in 2001, with Javier Solana, as EU High Representative for Foreign Policy at the time, and George Robertson, then NATO Secretary-General, as the main negotiators at Ohrid. But the current crisis is not primarily driven by ethnic tensions. The security framing by the government obscures a much deeper crisis in the body politic, and a looming one for the economy.

After 24 years of independence, Macedonia’s model is crumbling. The ruling party has held onto power by controlling the state and media, and borrowing on international markets to keep the economy going. This has undermined the country’s fragile democracy – despite the promises made at Ohrid, which are still not fully implemented – and failed to build rule of law and a sustainable economy. Prime Minister Gruevski won power nearly a decade ago on promises of clean government and economic development. But he then perfected the system of clientelism and state capture begun by Branko Crvenkovski, his predecessor as opposition leader and prime minister, and later president. Gruevski has used snap elections twice to keep his party in power, and his leadership has become increasingly coercive. The wiretap recordings have confirmed that his VMRO-DPMNE party has captured all vital areas of the economy and established complete control over media, even imprisoning critical journalists. Macedonia’s ranking has fallen from 36 to 136 in the freedom of media index produced by Reporters Without Borders.

The government dispensed with parliamentary debate at the end of 2013. Faced with a short deadline to approve the next loan to pay pensions before the Christmas and New Year holidays, they forcibly expelled the opposition and media from the parliament during a debate over the state budget rather than find an agreement.

The public is scared. More than half of Macedonians believe they cannot freely express their opinions. A staggering 81 percent believe that fear of consequences for them and their families prevent them and others from speaking out. Their political fears are heightened by their economic vulnerability.

The chronic economic malaise underlying acute political crisis.

The Macedonian economy appears to be financially stable. The government nurtures an image of business promoter and responsible borrower. Until recently, it was the region’s poster child for the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. European banks were happy to earn good returns on Macedonian state bonds. Macedonia’s average GDP growth of 3% in the last three years is the highest in the region, completing this picture of prosperity.

But the economy is not sustainable. The government has used debt financing to invest in grandiose infrastructure projects, including the flagship “Skopje 2014” project, which erected statues and faux-classical buildings in the capital at a cost of over 600 million euro. Between 2008 and 2014, Macedonia’s public debt quadrupled, rising from 23% of GDP in 2008 to around 46% in 2014. Debt is projected to reach the 60% ceiling prescribed by the international financial institutions by 2019. The state budget increased by a third over the same period (from roughly 2 to 3 billion euro). Inflows of foreign direct investment averaged only 2.8% of GDP per year between 2009 and 2014, low even by regional standards.

Life for citizens has become more precarious. Around a third of the workforce is unemployed, the second highest rate in Europe after Kosovo. Without the heavy borrowing, the fragile economy could not sustain more than 300,000 pensioners, who rely on the state budget for half of their needs. Nor could it afford to pay the huge number of state employees. The last official number was 140,000 in 2008, and latest estimates range from 200,000 to 255,000. The total number of people employed in Macedonia is 700,000 – meaning that the state employs nearly a third of the workforce. No wonder people are leaving to seek better prospects abroad. A census has been postponed by the government, but Gallup estimates that more than 300,000 people have left the country. According to Deutsche Welle, most of the 120,000 Macedonians who acquired Bulgarian passports have already emigrated to the EU or elsewhere. Macedonia seems to have more registered voters (at 1,780,128) than residents.

VMRO-DPMNE has kept its hold on power in this unhappy state by resorting to strident nationalism and intimidation of its opponents, increasing the divisions in a multi-ethnic country. Ethnic Macedonians are understandably aggrieved by the lack of a solution to the dispute with Greece over the country’s name, which already blocked entry to NATO – and Gruevski has adroitly used the issue to rally nationalism in support of the government. Meanwhile, the ethnic Albanian political parties have been co-opted by their share in the spoils of mis-governance, even though their people remain even more alienated and poorer than the rest of the population.

The divisions are deepening right across society. Three-quarters of ethnic Albanians still firmly believe in EU and NATO accession as the way to a better future, but by now over 62 percent of other Macedonians think badly of joining the EU. Three-quarters of the ruling party’s supporters see the name dispute with Greece as the key reason for Macedonia’s now bleak EU accession prospects; but only 20% of opposition supporters agree. The biggest divide is between rich and poor, especially along party lines. The poor are undoubtedly getting poorer: resources available to the poorest fifth of citizens fell by 38% between 2008 and 2012. But business profits have grown by almost two and a half times since the year 2000. Nearly 80% of all Macedonians believe it is unfair that employment in state institutions and general prosperity is based on political party membership.
The way forward: a unity government with EU and NATO support

Macedonia is once again becoming a security threat on the EU’s borders. But this time it’s different: a non-partisan civic movement has taken to the streets for the first time to change the country. There is a real opportunity to use this energy to build democracy and a market economy in this multi-ethnic state.

No party is doing well in Macedonia: the secret recordings have lost the government all credibility, but the public has little faith in the leaders of the opposition and ethnic Albanian parties either. The immediate solution lies in collective action first by all those who have created the problem.

Now that three of the prime minister’s key allies have tendered their resignations, Macedonia should turn again to the solution that averted the civil war in 2001: a unity government composed of the four main parties. To foster the necessary compromises and offer a fresh start. it would not include the current prime minister, public prosecutor or speaker of the parliament – but opposition parties must be involved in open and credible oversight of the intelligence agencies, and take responsibility for the discredited interior ministry.

The most promising scenario is a government of national unity that lasts for 12-18 months, to prepare the country for free and fair elections, and create an independent commission to investigate all the events since the opposition was violently ejected from the parliament in 2013. And it should agree on a common negotiating platform on the name dispute with Greece. Macedonia’s newly reinvigorated civil society should also contribute to the work of the parliamentary commissions and monitor the new government’s progress in restoring the accountability of public institutions. The country must avoid just replacing the driver in the seat of the captured state machinery, by increasing inclusion and pluralism in governance.

As so often in the Balkans, such a scenario will be impossible without EU and NATO assistance. The default position among EU foreign ministers is to expect sovereign countries to sort out their own political problems through democratic institutions. But after a decade of unconsolidated democracy and state capture, Macedonia does not possess those institutions. Therefore, other levers of influence are needed. NATO could offer a tangible incentive to all parties by offering a possibility to re-open membership talks. EU accession negotiations are far off because so much time has been lost on necessary reforms, but the enlargement process is vital to offer hope, especially to the ethnic Albanians, and guidance to reformers who are seeking to take back captured parts of the state. The support of EU institutions, member-states and banks is vital for the country’s macroeconomic stability. Neighbouring governments could also exert more pressure, as their own security is at stake. Bulgarian Prime Minister Borisov was the first to request Gruevski to step down.

The EU can no longer afford to indulge a model of governance in Macedonia that has been far more aggressive in its authoritarian zeal than nearby Montenegro or Turkey. The European People’s Party has a particular responsibility to get involved, having accepted and protected VMRO-DPMNE as a sister party for all these years. Now it must act to uphold the standards of democracy on which it was founded, by putting pressure on VMRO-DPMNE to relinquish its grip on power and join a unity government. The time to move is now, as the costs of inaction will continue to rise.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 27th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


President Rivlin: Armenians were the first victims of modern mass killing
– Despite working for years to achieve recognition of the Armenian genocide, president refrains from using the word ‘genocide’ is his remarks at Jerusalem ceremony.
By Barak Ravid | Apr. 26, 2015, in HAARETZ


President Rivlin on Sunday hosted an event at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem marking the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, but refrained from using the word “genocide” in his remarks. At the ceremony, attended by leaders of Israel’s Armenian community, Rivlin said, “The Armenian people were the first victims of modern mass killing.”


In the recent weeks leading up to the anniversary, the Foreign Ministry exerted pressure on the President’s Residence to make sure Rivlin not deviate from the terminology used by the Israeli government to describe the events of 1915.


The Foreign Ministry did so after Rivlin, in his speech at the United Nations marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, said, “In the year 1915…the murder of the Armenian people took place.” This part of his speech was delivered in Hebrew, and he did not use the term “genocide.”


While Sunday’s ceremony was the first such event held at the President’s Residence, it was described as a gathering to mark the anniversary of the “Armenian tragedy.” Rivlin’s remarks didn’t make reference to the “murder of the Armenian people” as his UN speech did; instead Rivlin used the word “massacre.”

“In 1915, when the members of the Armenian nation were being massacred, the residents of Jerusalem, my parents and the members of my family, saw the Armenian refugees arriving in their thousands,” Rivlin said.

“No one in Jerusalem denied the massacre that had taken place. As you know, this has been my personal view ever since. We are morally obligated to point out the facts, as horrible as they might be, not ignore them,” he said.”

“The Armenian people have been the first victims of modern mass killing,” Rivlin said, adding that after the Holocaust, “commemorating the tragedy of the Armenian people is our Jewish obligation, a human and moral one.”

Over the years, both as a lawmaker and as Knesset speaker, Rivlin was among the leaders of the campaign to recognize the Armenian genocide. Rivlin initiated Knesset discussions on the matter and, up until December 2014, consistently signed a petition calling for the recognition of the Armenian genocide. This year, for the first time, a Knesset delegation participated in a ceremony marking the anniversary of the genocide in the Armenian capital, Yerevan.

In the years 1915-1916, one-third of the Armenian people – one to one and a half million people – perished. The Armenians blame the Turks for committing genocide and have waged a public campaign for the international community to recognize the killings as such.

Turkey, for its part, has worked hard to prevent international recognition, claiming that no genocide occurred, but that during the Armenian struggle for independence from the Ottoman Empire, between 250,000 and half a million Armenians – and a similar number of Turks – were killed.

Over the years, Israeli government policy has been not to recognize the Armenian genocide for fear of damaging Israel’s strategic alliance with Turkey. More recently, as Israeli-Turkish ties have soured, the Foreign Ministry has warned that recognition of the Armenian genocide would only further escalate the crisis.

In his remarks Sunday, Rivlin emphasized that Israel does not seek to blame any particular country for what happened in 1915, “but rather [to] identify with the victims and the horrible results of the massacre.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 17th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


The “Possible Military Dimensions” Bomb That Could Blow Up the Iran Deal
.
Friday, 17 April 2015 10:46 By Gareth Porter — Truthout | News Analysis

At the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Fusion Energy Conference 13-18 October 2008, Geneva, Switzerland. Iran and the IAEA were close to reaching agreement on a framework for Iranian cooperation. Further information comes from IAEA October 28, 2008, from Geneva. Iran and the IAEA were close to reaching agreement on a framework for Iranian cooperation but it blew away because of the disagreements on credibility.

The United States and Iran may have agreed now on a vague framework for resolving issues between them, including the lifting of sanctions, but the final stage of the negotiations will bring a diplomatic confrontation over the sequence and timing of lifting sanctions.

And the most difficult issue in the coming talks will be how the “Possible Military Dimensions” or “PMD” – the allegations of Iranian nuclear weapons work that have been at the center of the entire Iran nuclear crisis for several years – is to be linked to lifting certain UN Security Council sanctions.

On that linkage Iran will insist that its cooperation in providing access to the International Atomic Energy Agency must be reciprocated with the lifting of certain sanctions on an agreed-upon timetable, regardless of how long the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) takes to make up its mind, and what judgment it renders, according to a source in close contact with the Iranian negotiating team (as per Mr. Porter).

The US “fact sheet” on the “parameters” of an agreement says, “All past United Nations Security Council resolutions on the Iran nuclear issue will be lifted simultaneously with the completion by Iran of nuclear related activities addressing all key concerns,” and the list that follows includes “PMD.”

However, nothing was officially agreed on in Lausanne on how Iranian cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the PMD issue would be linked to sanctions relief, according to the source close to the Iranian negotiators. But the source said that an informal understanding was reached that the linkage would involve the lifting of UN Security Council sanctions directly involving Iran’s imports for its nuclear and missile programs.

Iran is prepared to cooperate to complete the IAEA investigation of past allegations, the source said, but will demand concrete limits that provide assurances that the process will not be prolonged indefinitely.

Iran continues to insist that the evidence being used to impugn its intentions was “manufactured.” Nevertheless, Iran “would be ready to give access to the IAEA on PMD even though that goes beyond NPT [Nonproliferation Treaty],” the source told Truthout.

But the source said Iran would not agree to make the lifting of those UN sanctions contingent on any IAEA judgment about the PMD issue. Instead, Iran will demand a list in advance of everything the IAEA wants. “We would give the IAEA access to everything on the list,” said the source.

Once the IAEA completed its visits and its environmental sampling, however, Iran will consider that the process is finished. “We don’t care what the IAEA analysis would be or how long it took,” the source said. “What Iranians cannot accept is that [the PMD issue] becomes an indefinite instrument for the Israelis, because they want to find out about Iranian capability and ask for this or that military site and a new inspection.”

The negotiations on the PMD-sanctions linkage will be part of a broader set of negotiations in which Iran will insist on a detailed set of arrangements on sanctions relief in return for each of its concessions in the agreement, according to the source. “Each of the elements listed in the US fact sheet must have a step-by-step plan with a timetable and proportionate reciprocation,” said the source.

Obama Under Pressure He Helped Create

The Obama administration has been under heavy pressure from the Israelis and their supporters in Washington to insist that Iran confess to having carried out nuclear weapons research and development as a condition for sanctions relief.

That pressure is the result of several years of news media coverage that has treated allegations that Iran carried out research and development on nuclear weapons, published by the IAEA in 2011, as established fact. The media have constantly repeated the theme that Iran has been “stonewalling” the IAEA to cover up its past nuclear weapons experiments.

Absent from the media narrative is the fact that the allegations that the IAEA is demanding that Iran explain are all based on intelligence that is now known to have come from Israel and which the IAEA itself suspected of being fabricated, from 2005 to 2009.

But the Obama administration itself helped to make PMD a hot button issue in American politics. It made Iran’s alleged refusal to cooperate with the IAEA investigation of the purported intelligence alleging an Iranian nuclear weapons research and development program the rationale for imposing punishing sanctions on Iran.

The US administration has been wary of demanding an actual admission of guilt, which it knew was unrealistic, but it has been unwilling to completely dismiss the position of the Israelis and their followers either. Last November a “senior Western official” told Reuters that the United States and the other five powers would try to “be creative” in finding a formula to satisfy both those who were insisting that Iran must “come clean” about its nuclear past and those who said it was not realistic to expect a confession.

In an April 8 interview with Secretary of State John Kerry, the host of “PBS NewsHour” Judy Woodruff asserted that the IAEA wanted Iran to “disclose past military-related activities” but that Iran was “increasingly looking like it’s not going to do this.” Woodruff then asked, “Is the US prepared to accept that?”

Without challenging the premise that Iran is expected to “disclose past military activities,” Kerry responded, “No. They have to do it. It will be done.”

Fabricated Intelligence and IAEA Investigation

The George W. Bush administration pressed documents supposedly from the laptop computer of an Iran scientist involved in an Iranian nuclear weapons research program on the IAEA in mid-2005. But Mohamed ElBaradei, then IAEA director general, refused to regard the documents as legitimate evidence because they had never been authenticated, and Bush administration officials refused to answer questions about their origins. In his memoirs published in 2011, ElBaradei writes, “The problem was, no one knew if any of this was real.

Information now available shows that the documents were created in Israel. According to a senior German office official, those documents were given to Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the BND, in 2004 by the Mujahedin e-Khalq (MEK), the armed exile Iranian opposition group that had been an Israeli client organization for several years.

A popular Israeli history of the most successful covert operations by Israel’s Mossad, originally published in Hebrew in Israel, asserts that Mossad provided some of the documents to the MEK that later become the centerpiece of the case against Iran.

ElBaradei also reveals in his memoirs that the IAEA received another series of purported Iranian documents directly from Israel in summer 2009. Among them was a two-page document in Farsi describing a four-year program to produce a neutron initiator for a fission chain reaction. The former IAEA chief inspector in Iraq, Robert Kelley has recalled that ElBaradei found that document to be lacking credibility because it had no chain of custody, no identifiable source, and no official markings or anything else that could establish its authenticity. But ElBaradei’s successor as IAEA director general, Japanese diplomat Yukiya Amano, gave the IAEA’s imprimatur to the entire collection as well as the earlier set of documents in an annex to the November 2011 report. After his election, Amano assured US officials that he was “solidly in the US court” in his handling of the Iran file.

The IAEA has never revealed that Israel was the source of the latter set of documents. The IAEA justified its decision to keep the identity of the member states that provided intelligence secret by citing the alleged necessity to protect “sources and methods.” The decision to maintain silence on the source has served to shield both Israel and the IAEA itself from questions about the obvious political motives behind the purported intelligence.

The other major purported intelligence find published by the IAEA was the claim from Israel that Iran had installed a large steel explosives containment cylinder at its military base in Parchin in 2000 for nuclear weapons-related testing. But no corroborating evidence has ever been produced, and Robert Kelley has challenged the IAEA’s adoption of the Israeli intelligence claim on the grounds it was technically implausible.

Relations between Iran and the IAEA on cooperation over the PMD issue have gone through three major phases. In a series of meetings in early 2012, Iran and the IAEA were close to reaching agreement on a framework for Iranian cooperation. Iran agreed on an IAEA visit to Parchin, where the bomb test cylinder was said to have been located, as part of the process. But the talks broke down over the IAEA’s insistence that the investigation would never have an end point, and that the Agency would have the right to return to any question or site, even after Iran had provided the necessary access and other cooperation.

A second phase of relations began when Iran and the IAEA reached agreement on a “Framework for Cooperation” in February 2014. Iran agreed to provide information and access in regard to a list of PMD issues, starting with the “Exploding Bridgewire” (EBW) issue.

But after Iran provided documentary evidence to show that its research in the field was for its oil and gas industry and not for nuclear weapons, Amano refused to acknowledge publicly that Iran had discredited one of the arguments about the intelligence documents.

The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akhbar Salehi, claimed that the IAEA had promised in the agreement to close issues once Iran had provided required information, and the IAEA did not challenge his claim. Amano insisted, however, that the IAEA would not issue any assessment until it had completed its investigation of all of the issues.

Iran apparently concluded from that experience that the IAEA would keep Iran on the hook as long as the United States and its allies wanted to maintain leverage over Iran. The Obama administration has now confirmed that conclusion by holding the lifting of sanctions hostage to Iran’s “cooperation” on PMD writes Porter.

US officials have never explained how they would expect Iran to satisfy the IAEA if the intelligence at issue was indeed fabricated.

===============
 www.wienerzeitung.at/nachrichten/…

WeltpolitikUpdate: 15.04.2015

Heinz Fischer: “Ich halte Netanjahus Kritik für falsch”

von Arian Faal, Wiener Zeitung

The Austrian President in above interview states clearly that Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu is wrong in his opposition to the deal President Obama and the heads of the other four powers are trying to strike with Iran. The point being th prospective deal is indeed the best that can rationally be expected from Iran.

Further, President Fischer expects the deal to be agreed upon and signed by all involved by July 1st 2015, and he expects to go on a State visit to Iran after the agreement has been obtained. He will thus be the first of a EU-Member-State leader to go to this newly cleaned Iran.

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

Foreign Minister Sebastien Kurz wrote on his Facebook page today, April 17, 2015 about the return of the negotiations to Vienna
in a race with time as the agreement will be signed eventually in New York before the end of June.

Minister Kurz already told the Kurier yesterday that the Vienna negotiations that deal with the details that can allow the removal of sanctions will be hard and sensitive. Experts and politicians will be here next week for two days – the first time since last November. The Iranian deputy Foreign Minister is expected. But the Kurier article is not optimistic indeed that it all will be wraped up before the end of June and mentions the news from Tehran that an extension will be required.

Ende der Sanktionen

Diesmal soll es also weniger um den großen Wurf – an dem war man ja im November in Wien gescheitert – sondern um die heiklen Details gehen. Die politischen Direktoren der UN-Vetomächte sowie Irans Vize-Außenminister Araqchi werden erwartet.

Im Mittelpunkt steht vor allem die Frage, wann und wie die Sanktionen gegen den Iran im Falle einer Einigung aufgehoben werden sollen. Teheran will sie natürlich umgehend loswerden, um der ohnehin angeschlagenen iranischen Wirtschaft endlich neue Auftrieb zu geben. Im Westen will man weiterhin eine stufenweise Aufhebung und dazu die Möglichkeit, im Falle eines iranischen Vertragsbruchs sofort zu den Boykottmaßnahmen in voller Härte zurückzukehren. Darauf drängt auch der US-Kongress in Washington, der sich ohnehin eine Entscheidung über die Sanktionen nach einer Einigung Ende Juni vorbehält.

Inzwischen aber wachsen die Zweifel, dass die auch tatsächlich zustande kommt. In Teheran spricht inzwischen sogar Revolutionsführer Khamenei von einer weiteren Verlängerung.
(Kurier) Erstellt am 16.04.2015.

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

And coincidenta;;y, when looking up the Kurier I found an April 3, 2015 article that shows the Austrian Oil Company OEMV is alreadty sharpening its pens to reach out to Iran, to fulfill agreement for oil and gas they started before the sanctions hit. So – this is a sign of high Austrian interest in the success of these negotiations and the end of sanctions.
OMV wartet noch ab

Ob die OMV, die vor den Sanktionen große Gasförder-Pläne im Iran hatte, auch bald wieder ins Iran-Geschäft zurückkehrt, ist noch offen. OMV-Sprecher Robert Lechner: „Wenn ein so großer Player im Energiebereich zurück auf die internationale Bühne kommt, muss man das zunächst neu bewerten. Derzeit ist es aber noch zu früh, konkrete Schlüsse zu ziehen.“ Die OMV unterhält noch immer ein Büro in Teheran.

Die OMV muss allerdings gegen riesige Konkurrenz antreten. Denn trotz des niedrigen Ölpreises dürften sich die Branchen-Riesen um Investitionen in neue Öl- und Gasfelder anstellen. Alexander Pögl von der Ölmarkt-Beratungsfirma JBC: „Grundsätzlich werden internationale Investoren vor der Tür stehen, so viele Möglichkeiten für einen Explorationszugang gibt es nicht.“ Der Iran verfüge zwar wegen der Sanktionen derzeit über große Lagerbestände, müsse aber nach deren Verkauf rasch in neue Fördertechnologien und -gebiete investieren.

In der österreichischen Wirtschaft und Politik findet derzeit geradezu ein Wettlauf statt, wer zuerst nach Teheran fliegt. Offiziell will man darüber nicht viel sagen. „Die Einladung des Iran an Bundespräsident Heinz Fischer ist aufrecht“, heißt es aus der Hofburg zum KURIER. Gut informierte Diplomaten erwarten, dass die Reise noch heuer stattfindet.

Autor: Franz Jandrasits

(kurier) Erstellt am 03.04.2015, 18:00

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 12th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From: Avaaz.org [mailto:avaaz@avaaz.org]
Sent:Sunday, 12 April 2015

Liebe Freundinnen und Freunde,

Uruguay hat eines der besten Nichtrauchergesetze der Welt — und dafür wird das Land nun von Philip Morris verklagt. Der Tabakgigant könnte den Fall sogar gewinnen, es sei denn, wir schreiten ein.

Es ist erschreckend: Ein Konzern könnte mit einem tödlichen Produkt Gesetze kippen, die unsere Gesundheit schützen. Die Richter sind bereits unter Beschuss geraten, weil sie die öffentliche Meinung bei ähnlichen Fällen nicht beachtet haben. Sorgen wir dafür, dass das jetzt passiert: Wenn wir einen riesigen Aufruf starten und erstklassige Rechtsexperten engagieren, die unsere Stimmen in den Gerichtssaal tragen, können sie nicht weghören. So könnten wir verhindern, dass ihr Urteil einen schlimmen Präzedenzfall schafft.

Zeigen wir den Gerichten, dass es hier nicht nur um Uruguay geht — wenn Tabakgiganten ihren Willen durchsetzen, schaffen sie damit überall freie Bahn für Rechtsklagen. Mindestens 4 weitere Länder sind bereits ins Visier von Unternehmen geraten und auch in vielen anderen Ländern sind Nichtrauchergesetze bedroht.

Die Zeit ist knapp — vor Gericht werden bereits die Argumente angehört. Klicken Sie, um die öffentliche Gesundheit und unsere Demokratie vor der Habgier großer Unternehmen zu schützen. Unsere Namen werden dem Gericht überreicht:
 secure.avaaz.org/de/uruguay_vs_b…

In Uruguay müssen Zigarettenschachteln zu 80 Prozent mit gesundheitlichen Warnhinweisen und Schockbildern versehen werden. Das Rauchen war dort zu einer Krise ausgeartet, die täglich etwa sieben Uruguayern das Leben kostete. Doch seit es das Gesetz gibt, wird von Jahr zu Jahr weniger geraucht! Nun behauptet der Tabakriese Philip Morris jedoch, dass die Warnhinweise keinen Platz für seine Markenzeichen lassen.

All dies ist Teil einer weltweiten Strategie von Philip Morris: Länder zu verklagen und einzuschüchtern. Der Konzern hat Australien bereits einen teuren Gerichtsfall aufgedrückt, und wenn er jetzt gegen Uruguay Erfolg hat, könnte Philip Morris in über Hundert weiteren Ländern Klagen einleiten — darunter Frankreich, Norwegen, Neuseeland und Finnland. Denn in all diesen Ländern werden gerade neue lebensrettende Gesetze erwägt.

Experten sagen, dass Philip Morris gute Gewinnchancen hat. Schließlich wird das Verfahren hinter verschlossenen Türen vor einem internationalen Schiedsgericht behandelt, das letztes Jahr bei zwei Dritteln der Fälle zugunsten von Unternehmen geurteilt hat. Und das Urteil ist verbindlich, obwohl viele der Richter keine unparteiischen Rechtsexperten, sondern Privatpersonen mit Verbindungen zur Unternehmenswelt sind. Bringen wir sie also dazu, über die verheerenden Auswirkungen nachzudenken, die ihr Urteil für die weltweite Gesundheit haben könnte.

Uruguay hat sein eigenes Team von Rechtsexperten, doch diese konzentrieren sich zurecht auf ihre jeweiligen Verteidigungsargumente. Wir können jedoch ein einzigartiges rechtliches Argument zum Tragen bringen: dass dieses Urteil einen Präzedenzfall für jedes Land schaffen würde, in dem Rauchergesetze und ähnliche Handelsabkommen existieren. Wir können den Richtern außerdem zeigen, dass die Menschen hinter ihnen stehen, wenn sie zugunsten Uruguays und der öffentlichen Gesundheit urteilen.

Je mehr von uns unterschreiben, desto schwieriger ist es für die Richter, unseren Aufruf zu ignorieren. Klicken Sie unten, um mitzumachen, und verbreiten Sie diese Email:
 secure.avaaz.org/de/uruguay_vs_b…

Wenn Großkonzerne das Gemeinwohl in tödliche Gefahr bringen, tritt unsere Gemeinschaft in Aktion. Sei es bei Monsanto oder bei H&M — wir haben immer wieder dafür gesorgt, dass Profite nicht über das Wohl der Menschen gestellt werden. Und jetzt können wir das noch einmal tun.

Voller Hoffnung,

Emma, Maria Paz, Katie, Mais, Alice, Ricken, Risalat und das ganze Avaaz-Team

WEITERE INFORMATIONEN

Philip Morris klagt gegen Rauchverbot in Uruguay (Die Welt)
 www.welt.de/wirtschaft/article133…

Rechtsstreit um Geld oder Leben (Deutsche Welle)
 www.dw.de/rechtsstreit-um-geld-od…

Wie Konzerne Staaten vor sich hertreiben: Philip Morris vs Uruguay (Die Zeit Online)
 www.zeit.de/wirtschaft/2014-03/in…

Und auf Englisch:

Philip Morris verklagt Uruguay wegen Schockbildern auf Zigarettenschachteln (NPR)
 www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/20…

Jüngste Trends bei Investitionsschutzabkommen und Investor-Staat-Streitbeilegung (UNCTAD)
 unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary…

Das Spiel der Schiedsgerichte (The Economist)
 www.economist.com/news/finance-an…
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Posted in Archives, Austria, European Union, Reporting From the UN Headquarters in New York, Reporting from Washington DC, Uruguay, Vienna

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 3rd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

INFORMATION NOTE – Sustainable Energy for All Partnership: Selection of Director-General

Headquartered in Vienna, Austria.


Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) is an initiative launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2011,
it aims to achieve three objectives by 2030:

(1) Ensuring universal access to modern energy services,
(2) Doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency, and
(3) Doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

Meant to enable all stakeholders – both public and private – to take ownership of, and contribute to, the common efforts to achieve sustainable energy for all, a new international non-profit organization, to be named the “Sustainable Energy for All Partnership” will be established. The Sustainable Energy for All Partnership will be led by a Director-General who is to be appointed through a competitive process led by the SE4All Executive Committee. Both public and private entities will be invited to take part in the governance of the non-profit organization.


Candidates who wish to be considered for this position should send a CV and cover letter no later than 15 April 2015 to the following email address:  egonzehnder.com.

For more information, please visit: appointments.egonzehnder.com/

Any inquiries regarding this selection process should be directly addressed to:

The Egon Zehnder team with attention to:
Mr. Alejandro Henning
E-mail:  Alejandro.henning at egonzehnder.com
Tel.: +41228496885

——-====================——

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 27th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


EINLADUNG ZUM 2. HIETZINGER ENERGIEBERATUNGSTAG

Holen Sie sich Informationen fu?r die optimale Energienutzung!

Freitag, 13. Ma?rz 2015 von 15.30 bis 20.00 Uhr Großer Festsaal der Bezirksvorstehung Hietzing 1130 Wien, Hietzinger Kai 1-3

Anfragen und Anmeldungen unter 01/4000-13116 oder per E-Mail unter  post at bv13.wien.gv.at

Ero?ffnung durch Bezirksvorsteherin Mag. Silke KOBALD Einfu?hrung durch Landtagsabgeordneten
GR KommR Ing.Mag. Bernhard DWORAK

Kurzfu?hrung und Vorstellung der Firmen durch
Umwelt-Bezirksrat Prof. Arch. Dipl.-Ing. Edwin PISKERNIK

Vortrag Fa. KORKISCH, Hr. Gerhard Korkisch,
“Solarthermie – Warmwasser und Heizen mit der Sonne”, Vortrag Fa. O?KOFEN, Hr. Michael Figl, “Heizen mit Pellets”,

Vortrag Fa. RAYMANN Kraft der Sonn e, Hr. Dipl.-Ing. Rudolf Raymann, “Photovoltaik – Sonnenstrom ernten und speichern”,

Fragestunde und Publikumsdiskussionsrunde zu Erneuerbaren Energien unter der Leitung von BR Prof. Arch. Dipl.-Ing. Edwin Piskernik

Vortrag ARGE Erneuerbare Energien, Hr. Andreas Reiter, “Erneuerbare Energien in Wien – Chancen und Mo?glichkeiten”

Vortrag BAUPHYSIK SPERL, Fr. Dipl.-Ing. Alexandra Sperl, „Energieausweis – Fluch oder Segen?“
Gerhard KAINDL, EUROSOLAR Austria, “Plusenergiehaus – Bauen und Erleben “

?Parallel laufend Internet-Recherche u?ber Computer und Beamer: www.oekonews.at oder www.biotrieb.at oder www.wien.gv.at (zu Fo?rderungen) auf Zuruf!
Die anwesenden Experten beraten Sie gerne zwischen 15.30 und 20.00 Uhr!

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

A Pesticide Banned, or Not, Underscores Trans-Atlantic Trade Sensitivities
By DANNY HAKIM, The New York Times, February 24, 2015

Diverging regulatory approaches to atrazine, a herbicide made by a Swiss company but not used in Europe, shows the hurdles in trade negotiations.

——————-

Our website is sensitive to this issue because we know what happened when a US business moved to Canada and from there under US-Canada agreements tried to force the State of California to allow Tetra-Ethyl Lead in the gasoline used in US transportation – against the law in California – and Washington did nothing in what amounted to an extortion of $450 million from the Californian treasury in order to get that menace out of their hairs.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 23rd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

As received from Lady Rabbi Judith Hauptman of the Ohel Ayalah community on New York City.

subject: Purim of levity or gravity?

Dear Ohel Ayalah community,

P U R I M P A R T Y for 20s/30s
Join us on Tues Mar 3, the night before Purim, at P E O P L E Lounge, 163 Allen St., 6:30 to 8:30 pm. First drink FREE for filling out a one-page survey. Special guest: Sarah Rosen, author of Kosher Porn, will sign and sell copies of her hilarious new “graphic” book. Want to know what kosher porn is? Show up and find out. The book costs $14, cash or check only. Directions: Take the F train to Second Ave, get out at the front of the train, and walk south on Allen St. for 2 mins.

P U R I M, in a serious vein: The Scroll of Esther (the Megillah) will be read in synagogues on Wed night, March 4. One suggested (fun) venue is: JTS, 3080 Broadway, at 122 St. Time: 7 pm.

Purim is the one Jewish holiday of pure levity. The message of the Megillah, however, is both light-hearted and serious. In today’s world, we are still dealing with some who would like Jews to disappear. To keep you looking at the bright side of Purim, seeing the Megillah partly as a domestic farce, I am copying below comments by Adele Berlin, the highly regarded Bible scholar (also a friend of mine!), author of the JPS commentary on the Scroll of Esther.


After Vashti refuses to show her beauty to the visiting dignitaries, the courtiers say to the king, “For the queen’s behavior will make all wives scorn their husbands, as they reflect that King Ahasuerus himself ordered Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she would not come (Esther 1:17, JPS translation [slightly emended]).”


Berlin writes: The advisors are not worried that Vashti’s examples will provoke other Persian subjects to disobey the king; they are afraid that all the Persian women will scorn their husbands. . . . The advisors are trying to ward off a sexual strike by Persian women (a theme found in Greek literature of the Persian period, in Aristophanes’ comedy Lysistrata). They are as concerned about themselves as they are about the king (p13).

The danger that Memucan (one of the advisors) sees in Vashti’s refusal is preposterous. How will it provoke a rebellion by all the wives in the empire against their husbands? The burlesque of the great Persian empire, drowning in luxury, wine, courtiers, and incompetent management, reaches one of its high points here, with a touch of male sexual anxiety added for good measure (p17).

So read the rest of the Megillah in a communal setting on Wed night, Mar 4, or by yourself. Laugh but also cry. Here is a link to an online version of Megillat Esther: www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt3301….. You will need to click to get from one chapter to the next.

Please note: Passover is around the corner. Will be sending more information in a few weeks. Seder reservations open on Sunday, March 15. First night seder for all Ages, Fri April 3; Second night seder for 20s/30s, Saturday night, April 4.

Questions or comments? Write to me at  Judith at ohelayalah.org.

Happy Purim,
Judith Hauptman

Rabbi and Founder, Ohel Ayalah

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Posted in Archives, Austria, Canada, Denmark, European Union, France, Iran, Israel, New York, Reporting from Washington DC

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 21st, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (N.B.K.)
Kunstgalerien und Museen
Address: Chausseestr. 128, 10115 Berlin, Germany
Phone:+49 30 2807020
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Posted in Archives, Art Performance reviews, Austria, European Union, Germany, Reporting from Washington DC

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 19th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue of Vienna is lodged in what was the private villa of the Bunderskanzler of Austria who was the pragmatic – conscious-based father of the new Austria – who, while holding different and ascending post WWII positions – managed the establishment of the Second Austrian Republic and its becoming a neutral State in the Soviet and the West stand-off.

In 1955, the Austrian State Treaty re-established Austria as a sovereign state, ending the Soviet, French, British, and US occupation zones. In the same year, the Austrian Parliament formulated the Declaration of Neutrality which declared that the Second Austrian Republic would become permanently neutral. Bruno Kreisky (22 January 1911 – 29 July 1990) was Kanzler 1970 till 1983, but in 1951, when he returned to Vienna, Federal President Theodor Körner (1951-1957) appointed him Assistant Chief of Staff and political adviser – then in 1953 he was appointed Undersecretary in the Foreign Affairs Department of the Austrian Chancellery. In this position he took part in negotiating the 1955 Austrian State Treaty, which ended the four-power occupation of Austria and restored Austria’s independence by declaring neutrality. It is said that he was the brain behind this very important political maneuvering which showed his strength of purpose.

While Austrian Chancellor, Mr. Kreisky tried to build his country’s position as the neutral go between the two blocs – East and West – during the Cold War. He also took special interest in the Middle East – and this brings us to the topic we tackle in this posting.

Upon the prodding of Israeli maverick Uri Avnery, Mr. Kreisky became instrumental in what was said – an effort to make Yassir Arafat, the head of the PLO – the Palestinian Liberation Movement – “Salon Clean” which meant – honorably acceptable in the capitals of the West.

The idea here was that if there was to be peace in the Middle East it will come through negotiations between the two local warring sides – so the Palestinians must be helped to build a world-recognized leadership. We know how this led to the principle of a TWO-STATES solution, and we know today that it seems – honesty and pragmatism – tell us that possibility was lost because the Oslo agreements were not followed to fruition. Instead a closely intermingled situation came about and with every day that passes the return to the Oslo road becomes more difficult.

The Kreisky Forum that was formed by Chancellor Vranitzky one year after Bruno Kreisky’s death – with Karl Kahane – an industrialist and Kreisky friend – and Kreisky’s son Peter – on board and the Karl Kahane Family Foundation, with the City of Vienna, the Austrian Government, and the Austrian National Bank, as main funders, is led by a Board of Directors chaired now by Rudolf Scholten, former Federal Minister of Education, Science and the Arts, Member of the Board of Oesterreichische Kontrollbank AG. The former Austrian Ambassador to the US, Mrs. Eva Novotny is Secretary and Ms. Patricia Kahane Deputy Secretary.

The Executive power is as always in the hands of the Secretary General which is since 2005 Gertraud Auer Borea d’Olmo. The devoted personal secretary to Mr. Bruno Kreisky, Margit Schmidt, currently Treasurer of the Keisky Foundation, was Secretary General of the Kreisky Forum from 1991 – 2004.

And to the point – Gertaud Auer is all set to continue the legacy left by Bruno Kreisky – the legacy of a free thinker/pragmatist who is ready to take on the potentialities of the moment in order to reach out to long-term goals. As an aside, I feel compelled to mention that I found that on the basis of an interview here in Vienna, a Greek paper knew to say that Gertraud Auer of the Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue said that the new Greek head of Government – Mr. Alexis Tsipras – whom she knows as she had him over to Vienna to speak at the Forum – has the potential to be the Bruno Kreisky of Greece.

In the matter of our topic here – the Middle East – looking through the list of advisers to the Kreisky Forum Board I found – Galia Golan, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and Rashid Khalidi, University of Chicago, Head of the Center for International Studies – both very capable people that could help Ms. Auer in trying to be ahead of the pack of Middle East thinkers.
And that is our subject today.

Ms. Auer initiated a two year study to Rethink the Middle East built around a Two-States Solution of the Kreisky days.
She managed to get a terrific team together and eventually get also Mr. Hannes Swoboda, a retired High Ranking Austrian Member of the European Parliament (1996-2014) – Head of the Social Democrat faction of the Parliament – to be accurate – the S&D Group of Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats of the European Parliament.

Eventually the group found in Mr. Bashir Bashir, an Israeli Arab intellectual researcher and lecturer at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the editor for its project and the resulted product, recently released, is titled: “RETHINKING THE POLITICS OF ISRAEL/PALESTINE: Partition and its Alternatives.”

The result does not just move from a Two-States Solution to a One-State Solution – but in effect to a Human Rights for All Solution that does not start from numbering States – the solution is within what may look like a one State – but besides the equal rights for all frame, it does allow for Multi-Nationalism and diversity rights for all people and communities as well.
In effect – this is the recognition of the intertwined existence within the territory of Israel and the area originally intended for a Palestinian State linked to Israel by a joint economy. Mr. Avraham Burg, a member of Ms. Auer’s team – former speaker of the Knesset – the Israeli Parliament – put it very clearly when he said this week in Vienna that he does not give up his Zionism ideals of having the Jews live on the land of their forefathers in a situation that allows full equality for all its inhabitants – as it was the ideal of the founding fathers of the State – he believes that being a moral Jew is what Judaism demands – so he wants to see change in order to fulfill that calling without the need to oppress another people. Mr. Burg’s background is amazing in itself, as he grew up in a home where his father – Mr. Joseph Burg – was the head of National Religious Jewry and then – in Palestine – a partner of Ben Gurion’s Socialists in the creation of the State of Israel.

Mr. Swoboda said that as eventually the European Union will have to evolve to become a one state with a diversified Multi-National reality, this could become the working example that the new Israel/Palestine or Palestine/Israel will emulate.

I attended several book-presentation events for this Kreisky Forum study these last two weeks, at the Kreisky Forum, and at the Diplomatic Academy. Then I was informed that the show moved to Brussels where the book was presented to many members of the European Parliament and Civil Society – and yesterday – back here in Vienna – at the local venue of the European Union.
At all events the rooms were full and very interesting discussions followed. There were hardly any one-sided opponents.

The Event in Vienna, February 16th 2015, at the House of the European Union Representation in Vienna, included a Roundtable Debate – “TOWARDS A EUROPEAN PEACE INITIATIVE” – chaired and moderated by Ms. Auer with some of the main members of her team on board, and also new faces. Those of the book were besides Mr. Avraham Burg and editor Bashir Bashir, also Ms. Inbal Arnon, associate professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and Mr. Noam Sheizaf, a Tel Aviv based journalist who also runs a critical website - 972mag.com The new face is Mr. Muhammed Jabali, a young Israeli Arab from Taybeh who coordinates Art/Activist projects, occasional DJ, Adjunct lecturer at Bezalel Art School in Jerusalem, content editor at batuta.com (an Arabic language travel website), occasional project editor like when Coordinator of TheJaffaProject – an Aoutobiography of a City, by the Ayam association or when explaining that the Arab gay people of Israel did not participate in Pride Day because they did not want the foreign participants to think that being liberal when it comes to the issue of homosexuality there is also acceptance of human rights to the Arab minority.

Mr. Muhammad Jabali’s topic at the panel was: “From containment of imbalanced ethnic politics to co-resistance against it.”
In his presentation he stressed that 93% of the land in Israel is under State control and it serves projects only for 80% of its citizens. Also, when you legitimize a democratic policy Palestinians should be able to marry those from outside the borders and bring them to Israel – like the Jewish citizens are allowed to do.

I enlarged here on Jabali’s participation because I had an extensive chat with him after the meeting and explained to him that personally I believe that Israel itself, in its present structure, with its 20% Arab population – the Israeli Arabs with voting rights and for a long time already with 10 to 12 elected Members of the Knesset, could be the first example of this ONE-STATE FOR ALL SOLUTION. I believe that it is in the hands of the Israeli-Palestinians to make their presence felt in Parliament – not as thorns in the thighs of the Jewish citizens – but as full rights citizens demanding their place within the constraints of existing laws. That this is possible was shown last year when the 12 members of Parliament from the three Arab lists helped elect Reuven Rivlin as President of Israel against the will of Prime Minister Netanyahu who favored someone else. Why it took 50 years for the Arab Members of the Knesset to exercise their voting rights in this most positive way is beyond my understanding. In effect – the Arab vote could help build a government and get to be Ministers as well – really they are the only ones to blame for not having done this – and the answer that the Arabs outside Israel would never have forgiven them the effort to doing something for themselves first – does not hold water in my way of thinking, and I am sure not in Mr. Swoboda’s hopes to see change and the start towards a real target of peace. Israel will have new elections on March 17, 2015 and the Arabs expect to win 15 seats out of the total of 120 seats. Why not ask for the Ministry of housing in exchange for helping the challenger gather the needed 61 members required minimum? That is what we call rEVOlution – the evolution that is a quiet revolution; the achievement of the Kreisky Forum Study goals in an orderly democratic way.

Just a few further notions from the February 16th event:

From the introduction by Mr. Gerald Klug, the current Federal Minister of Defense and Sport (lucky Austria that can have the possibility to combine with impunity these two posts) said that we should talk not just on territory but also on “When and Why.”

Mr. Hannes Swoboda asked – “Is it for Israel and Palestine?” and answered “It is for the people of the region.” The issue before thee World and specifically before Europe is thus not merely the continuation of past efforts but a step forward with forward looking concepts.

Editor Bashir Bashir stressed that the exercise is not just wishful thinking but that the facts on the ground call for a new paradigm – one that switches from National Rights to Human Rights. This calls for rethinking Jewish Nationalism and Palestinian Activism. He stressed that he takes his Israeli citizenship very seriously and he is a product of the Palestinian Naqba.
Both seemingly being the pillars of his position. The solution being for Palestinian Nationalism becoming part of a bi-National State with Equal Rights.

So, it seems that the Kreisky Forum effort, as managed by Gertraud Auer Borea, can indeed move from being an ideal – to practical reality – if the Israeli Arabs move to do what is indeed in their best interest – and achievable – because despite the many shades of black and grey – Israel is still the only area in the Middle East that has a minimum of democracy, and the only Arab State that can claim some democracy in its structure is the very remote Tunisia. All the rest of the Arab World has imploded or is on a path of implosion witnessing acts of inhumanity – not just political disagreements. Let me repeat therefore that word I brought forward earlier – rEVOlution – this is not a misspelling – but a conscious effort to create a new path and my hope that the Kreisky Forum could adopt this word. This new paradigm presented by the Kreisky Forum to the European Parliament has in it the potential of saving the Arab World from itself – by starting first with Israel saving itself from itself.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 13th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We all know about the Indian Summer – that is when in the Northern Hemisphere, after the start of autumn – there is a relapse to dry hot days of summer. But we just thought that a parallel phenomenon has taken roots in the last few years in the relapse of cold weather – when we should already have according to previous experience a warmer spring weather.

We just thought up this term of “Indian Winter” and wonder if others also made the same observation based on facts in their hands?

We use the reference to “Indian” as in the already established case though we find really now clear justification for that use of the word Indian. The internet thinks it is from the American Indian mistaken term. Shakespeare in Henry IV referred to the phenomenon as “All Hallowed Summer” for what later became Indian Summer.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 13th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Last night I participated at the Austro-American Society & the American Chamber of Commerce in Austria, Vienna meeting that was held under the title: “The Internet of Everything – Cloud & Digitalization and Their Impact.” The speaker was Mr. Franz Grohs from T-Systems Austria GesmbH (part of the Multinational 50,000 people network headed by the German Telecom) whose Austrian managing director – Ing. Martin Katzer was announced, but could was out sick and could not attend. The meeting was nevertheless a great success – a very active crowd and an eye opener to the uninitiated.

Mr. Franz Grohs, Vienna born, is Senior Vice-President T-Systems International with special interest in East-Central Europe and the Asia Pacific – but interestingly when you google him you find that he does not divulge the name of his company affiliation – only that his company helps you safeguard your data. Seemingly he has 750 people working directly with him.

In his fascinating presentation he said among other things – that it was about “Cloud Transformation” – from the Age of the customer to the Age of the User. The target is “The Product Talks – the Crowd Acts.” He gave us examples of this new world and how the new ICT can help answer actual needs. I will give here just two examples – (a) 26 million suitcases were not brought in air-transport to their correct destinations last year – tracking them can be made easy with ICT (he called this the “connected bag”) and (b) “the connected car” that integrates garage & social media with a use of “big data” and gives to the world at large information if you are in town or even if at home – and might just have the unpleasant side effect of putting you or your property in danger. Aha! these are issues that T-Systems can help you with.

I did not get involved in the discussion as I clearly did not feel qualified – but spoke with Mr. Grohs afterwards.
My argument was that in effect – the added danger in these systems is that we will be inundated with salesmen that will track us to offer products we never intended to buy and this decreases Sustainability. I feel that all of this actually leads to the Age of the Salesman – not the Customer – and the User is a two edged sword with lots of unintended consequences for the customer.
His answer was that this is about psychology not technology.

I agreed but then reminded him that when people in Norway found themselves with two much free time they committed suicide and with a lot of offers for things to buy this might be a problem as well. His answer was that the real problem is that young people are unemployed and are already spending their time with their cell-phones.

Oh well – I still would not have done this posting – but then the following item came in and I felt pulled in by these topics.
YES – WE ARE AT THE START OF A MAJOR “rEVOLution” – a change where a new class of people will take over our lives in their hands – they will have the power to enter our minds, find out where we are and what our vulnerabilities are – and exploit them in the best of cases just to make money out of us – in the worst of cases to rob or kill us with precision. This is not the age of mobility as we are told but a step into the age of mass control – a new sort of psychology.

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Optimizing Collaboration: Don’t Get Lost in the Cloud.

Posted on September 18, 2014 by Dominic Keogh at CNN Money’s “What no One Tells You About The Cloud” – Ricoh Services.

Cloud infrastructure and applications.

Cloud infrastructure and applications have a number of potential business benefits, but one of the areas of greatest potential is their ability to revolutionize business collaboration. In a global survey of 532 business executives from a wide range of industries, 55 percent felt that “cloud-based solutions are no mere evolution, but rather represent a true revolution in collaborative effectiveness.”1

Better collaboration can increase productivity, get you closer to customers, make your products more innovative and your business more competitive, and help you attract and retain top talent. Clearly a fundamental component of growing your business, improved collaboration and cloud-based tools — from simple file-sharing to virtual meeting applications — have tremendous potential to extend your reach and foster productive connection.

But with so many opportunities to use cloud-based applications to improve collaboration in your business, where do you get started?

Collaboration Starts From Within
.

Reassessing and redesigning information processes is fundamental to creating a more successfully collaborative workspace, whether you’re employing a cloud-based application or not. Technology alone is not a solution, and focusing your efforts here alone is a surefire recipe for your collaboration goals to end up lost in the cloud. Instead, the key to improved workforce collaboration are in the underlying processes that enable your iWorkers to access more comprehensive, accurate and timely information.

Critical first steps to assessing your information processes.

The critical first step is assessing your information processes. Identify specific tasks, and how each step contributes to the business goal you are trying to accomplish, whether that is to service customers better, generate more leads for sales, deliver more competitive products, meet regulatory requirements, etc. In today’s enterprise, it is imperative to look for how the information flow does (or does not) cross Line of Business (LoB) boundaries, and potential points of integration with other processes and systems.

Bear in mind that the information needs of iWorkers are changing constantly, and the multiple generations of iWorkers now in the workforce have distinctly different preferences for the way they consume and use information. This has significant implications for the usability, training, and adoption of new collaboration applications — and the success of your collaboration initiatives.

One best practice is to actually follow an iWorker through a specific process, such as on-boarding a new customer or responding to a service request, step by step. Note where they get their information, if they get all they need in a timely fashion and in the format they require.

Research has found significant gaps in how iWorkers and managers perceive the effectiveness of their information processes. This is a prime opportunity to solicit feedback on what could help iWorkers do their job better.

Employee Disconnect.

In a Forrester study commissioned by Ricoh, by a factor of more than 2 to 1 over their managers, customer-facing workers felt constrained by “older systems” that sometimes forced customers to communicate with the company in ways they didn’t want to. On the other hand, by a factor of nearly 3 to 1, managers thought their customer-facing workers communicated well with customers through both old and new channels. That’s a huge disconnect, and it’s hurting your business relationship with your customers.

We have found that many information processes have simply not kept pace with what employees need — or customers want. And it might be time for you to take a look internally to see what you find. You may discover:

Steps that are no longer required or aren’t a high priority;
Information that’s available but not timely or in an easily accessible format;
Gaps in information available from other systems;
Processes that are clearly not defined as part of your core competence.

real world information challenges.

To combat these issues, there are benefits to making use of the broad industry — and cross-departmental experience — of a document process consultant. They have seen and dealt with many of the real-world information management challenges inherent in optimizing information processes, which can include everything from dealing with complex privacy regulations across industries and countries, or handling the internal aspects of change management, including education, training and morale.

An outside party can also look more broadly across departments and functions, bringing to bear lessons from multiple engagements across industries and geographies. They can often bring a new perspective to the way you’ve been approaching a problem.

Cloud-based collaboration tools can certainly help you grow your company, but clearly defining your business goals and mapping your process needs must come first. Remember that with every technological element, it’s still the people behind it who matter most. With help, you can stay grounded and make sure you don’t get lost in the cloud.
For more on information optimization and working with the cloud:

The Down-to-Earth Benefits of Cloud-Based Big Data Analytics
Optimizing Information Processes Can Super-Charge Big Data Analytics
Use of the Cloud in the Public Sector: Not All It Could Be
When Employees Speak Out About Process Improvement, How Well Are We Listening?

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1 Forbes Insight, “Collaborating in the cloud,” sponsored by Cisco, 2013.

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Another coincidence: The New York Times’ Editor Choice of the article of the day relates to the death of its “media columnist” David Carr – a Monday columnist at the paper.

BUSINESS
David Carr, a Journalist at the Center of the Sweet Spot.
By A. O. SCOTT

Mr. Carr managed to see the complexities of digital-age journalism from every angle, and to write about them with unparalleled clarity and wit.

One of the New York Times’ most engaging and colorful personalities, Carr was a stalwart of the media beat, helping readers — and other journalists — make sense of the rapidly changing industry.

Carr wrote the “Media Equation” column for The Times, which was published on Mondays. His writing style was conversational, analytic and peppered with humor. A reporter’s reporter, Carr didn’t just write about journalism — he practiced it, taking on media heavyweights with in-depth pieces that exposed wrongdoing.
 money.cnn.com/2015/02/12/media/da…


“On a professional level, David was a giant,” Stelter said. “He was the most important, most influential reporter of this tumultuous era in media. Readers, journalists and media moguls all looked to him to make sense of the present chaos and contemplate the future. And David never disappointed. The future without him is terrible to contemplate.”

Bill Carter, another longtime colleague of Carr’s, wrote on Twitter, “Can’t possibly find words. David Carr was brilliant, funny, generous. My heart breaks for his family+his legion of friends. Proud to be one.”

Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., publisher of The Times, said in a statement that Carr was “one of the most gifted journalists” to ever work at the newspaper. Dean Baquet, the executive editor of paper, was equally effusive in his praise, describing Carr as “the finest media reporter of his generation,” and a “remarkable and funny man.”

“He was our biggest champion, and his unending passion for journalism and for truth will be missed by his family at The Times, by his readers around the world, and by people who love journalism,” Baquet said.

###

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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 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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