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Hungary:

 

– HSM  is a sustainable welfare indicator adopting the Triple Bottom Line  (Society, Environment and Economy)

–  Social indicators from the perspective of sustainability

– As one of the early steps of developing HSM, weighting coefficients of the six categories were calculated using the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) method.

–  HSM Ver. 6 (including “democracy” as the No. 5 indicator)

– HSM of BRICS countries, BASIC countries, and Scandinavian countries

–  The reason why the Japanese HSM value is the lowest

——————————————————–

– Conclusion:

for the sustainability of future generations

None of all the current happiness indicators are yet considering the sustainability of future generations

Examples of indicators that express the sustainability of future generations:

– Children’s poverty index (under 18 years old)

– Unemployment rate of 15-24 years old, etc.

– The Japanese environment value is the lowest, with the largest overshoot among the 18 countries

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 10th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Dr. Terue Ohashi, Visiting Professor, Graduate Course in Strategic Environmental Science, Tohoku University, Japan.

Governance and Political Participation.

A Happy Society Includes Caring About Future Generations: That is Sustainable Governance.

—————————-

Key Contents of the Presentation:

–  Government, both central and local, has responsibility for the happiness of the people. Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832)

– The happiness of future generations is of the same importance as the happiness of the present generation. That is sustainability or sustainable development.

–  Democracy is the indicator of sustainability:

– Comparison of Japanese and Swedish democracy.

– Many Sustainable Happiness Indicators are now in progress:

OECD well-being indicators, ESRI well-being indicators, GNH (Bhutan), ISEW/GPI, HSM (Human Satisfaction Measure), etc. The indicator of happiness should include the sustainability of future generations.

—————————-

as per – www.measuring-well-being.asia/pdf/terueohashi.pdf

some of the items listed in the Power Poins are:


–  Government, both central and local, has responsibility for the happiness of the people.

–  Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) who suggested “The greatest happiness of the greatest number” wrote that government should owe responsibility for people’s happiness and parliamentary democracy can achieve it. (1822)

–  Many organizations try to develop Happiness Indicator and conduct research:

OECD (2011): OECD Well-Being Indicator

ESRI (2011): Well-Being Indicator

Deutsche Post (2011): The German Happiness Atlas

GNH (Gross National Happiness):

Bhutan attempted the 3rd GNH feasibility research in 2010

GAH (Gross Arakawa Happiness):

Arakawa Ward, Tokyo is trying to develop GAH

Nikkei developed the 3rd sustainable city research in 2011


–  The happiness of future generations is of the same importance as the happiness of the present generation.
That is sustainability or sustainable development.


–  Sustainable development is the key for governance: – The definition of sustainable development?

“There are hundreds of definitions about sustainable development.” (UNESCO)

The most recent definition of sustainable development:

Sustainability is not exclusively an environmental issue. It is fundamentally about how we choose to live our lives, with an awareness that everything we do has consequences for the 7 billion of us here today, as well as for the billions more who will follow, for centuries to come. Helen Clark, Administrator, UNDP (2011) (HDR 2011, Sustainability and Equity)


–  Sustainability should be measured using backcasting:  from Future generation -to – Present generation.

so the question is –  For the future generation, what shall we do now?

–  Forecasting is from Past to  Present  and is the  Usual thinking

–  Compared to the past, we think we are happier now than in the past

We need now a way of SUSTAINABLE THINKING.


–  Different definitions: How are future generation’s environmental rights guaranteed and assured in some countries?


–  Germany: The state is responsible for the environmental rights of future generations. (Chapter 20a of the      constitution, 1994)

– Sweden:   (a) Public institutions shall promote sustainable development leading to a good environment for present and future generations. (The Instrument of Government Ch. 1)  ….   (b) Present and future generations are ensured to live a healthy life in a comfortable environment. (The Swedish Environmental Code Ch. 1, 1999)

–  Bhutan: Every Bhutanese is a trustee of the Kingdom’s natural resources and environment for the benefit of the present and future generations. (The Constitution of The Kingdom of Bhutan. Article 5, 1, 2005 version)

– Japan: Present and future generations must be able to enjoy the benefits from a healthy and rich environment. (Fundamental Law of Environment Ch. 3, 1993)

——-

–  Other important definitions of Sustainable Development:

The Triple Bottom Line (Society, Environment and Economy) should be audited.


–  Democracy is the indicator of sustainability.

–  “Democracy” is an important indicator for sustainability.

Acting as an axle, democracy is at the core of a happy and sustainable society. Consequently, I suggest democracy as another indicator for people’s happiness, and sustainability.


–  Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), who suggested “The greatest happiness of the greatest number” said that parliamentary democracy can achieve it. (1822)

–  Amartya Sen – In a democratic country, big hunger will never occur. (1999)

– Frey & Stutzer – A democratic government can make people happier. (2002)

–  Comparison of democracy between Japan and Sweden

– Differences between Japan and Sweden in the response to the open-ended question in the “Ideal Society Part?” study. (Japan 2007, Sweden 2008)

Q: What type of society do you consider to be an ideal society with a high level of happiness and satisfaction?

Sweden: Democracy, equality and education

Japan: Society has no gap –  About the training to debate, 83.1% of Japanese respondents have not received any, while 68.0?% of
Swedish people have received the training to debate.

– Democracy is to debate, after getting correct, transparent and high quality information (OECD rule). In terms of the percentage of always, usually and often getting such information, Sweden scores higher than Japan.

– Japanese respondents are more likely than Swedish to think that the parliament does not represent their opinions and ideas.

– Sweden is an advanced country as a democratic society.

– Since the 1500s, the Swedish parliament has existed consisting of 4 social groups (aristocrats, priests, common people and farmers) and the 4 classes were equal.

(In the 1400s-1500s, Japan was in the Muromachi period (1392-1573). Feudal lords conquered each other, and there was no room for democratic debate as in the case of Sweden)

– In the 1800s, Sweden democracy was established.

– In 1809, The Instrument of Government that was oldest constitution in Europe was enacted.

– Political parties came into existence from 1866.

– In 1889 the Social Democratic Party was established.

– In 1928, the leader of the Social Democratic party P. A. Hansson became the prime minister, and described the future image of the country as “The people’s home” (folkhemmet).

– This ideology is the foundation for the building of the Swedish welfare state based on fairness, justice and the equality of democracy.

– In Japan, real democracy was introduced in 1945 after World War?by GHQ.

Small democratic movements also occurred:

– Jiyu Minken Undo (1874-1883)

– Taisho Democracy (1905-1925)

– Shyo Nippon Shugi by Tanzan Ishibashi (1910-1920)

– The Voting rate of Japan, Sweden and Bhutan Japan gives us reliance on the voting booth.


– Many Sustainable Happiness Indicators are now in progress. One of them is HSM (Human Satisfaction Measure)

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 6th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

As they say in Bhutan, Tashi Dalek! (roughly translates as “Blessings and good luck”).

Press Release:          The UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON WELL-BEING AND HAPPINESS.

New York City, In and around the UN Headquarters, April 2-4, 2012.

A NEW ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PARADIGM.


Experts and representatives from all sectors of society gathered at the United Nations, Monday, April 2, 2012 for a landmark day-long conference and two subsequent days of working groups on “Happiness and Well-being; Defining a New Economic Paradigm,” hosted by the Royal Government of Bhutan.  The landmark gathering addressed next steps towards realizing the vision of a new development paradigm that replaces the present narrow system based on GDP (Gross Domestic Product) with a “Gross National Happiness” (GNH) model.

The current measurement as defined by GDP is dysfunctional, based on the pursuit of material wealth, and the unsustainable premise of limitless growth on a finite planet, while the Bhutan-originated GNH model is holistic, integrating economic, environmental and social measures and objectives.

“A great beginning has been made but it is the end that we must strive for,” Bhutan’s Prime Minister, Jigmi Yoezer Thinley, said at the conclusion of the three-day discussions. “I hope that by 2015 the international community will have adopted a sustainability-based economic paradigm committed to promoting true human well-being and happiness, and ensuring at the same time, the survival of all species with which we share this planet.”

Gross National Happiness is defined by the Bhutan government as a holistic philosophy or development paradigm based on the belief that the ultimate goal of every human individual is happiness, so governments must ensure this human right and take responsibility to create those conditions that will enable citizens to pursue this value and goal.

The conference identified four dimensions for the proposed new economic development paradigm: well-being and happiness; ecological sustainability; fair distribution; and efficient use of increasingly scarce resources. “The new economy will be an economy based on a genuine vision of life’s ultimate meaning and purpose ? an economy that does not cut us off from nature and community but fosters true human potential, fulfillment, and satisfaction,” said Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley.

The historical meeting brought together a select but representative group of government officials, United Nations staff, diplomats, Nobel Laureates, scholars in diverse fields, leading economists and psychologists, representatives of non-governmental organizations, think tanks and advocacy centers, and spiritual and civil society leaders. Panelists and attendees were from both – from developed and developing nations.

The extent of global support for Gross National Happiness was evident in the participation at Monday’s conference of high level representatives from countries around the world, including Finland, India, Japan, Israel, Costa Rica, Thailand, Morocco, Australia. and the United Kingdom.

Noting India’s cultural ties with Bhutan, Mrs. Jayanthi Natarajan, India’s Honorable Minister of State for Environment and Forests, endorsed the need for a new economic paradigm, quoting Mahatma Ghandi, father of the Indian nation, as saying, “Nature provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” She pledged India’s cooperation in the effort.

Remarks by eco-feminist Dr. Vandana Shiva, Founder of Navdanya, Recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, which supports farmers, highlighted the concordant need to attend to the world food problem, and received considerable approbation by the audience.

Mr. Joe Nakano, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, expressed appreciation for ongoing support to Japan in the wake of last year’s Great East Japan Earthquake. He emphasized the importance of bonds that matter most to people (“kizuna” in Japanese), and the “Paradox of Happiness,” in which, in many developed countries, happiness is not proportional to economic wealth.  A Council on National Strategy and Policy is now following up with visions and concrete measures for government policy-making based on a study published by a Japanese government commission last December, which proposed 130 well-being indicators focusing on bonds between families, communities and nature.  Japan also hosted an Asian-Pacific Conference on Measuring Well-being and Fostering the Progress of Societies in cooperation with the Asian Development Bank and other entities.

Parliamentary speaker Mr. Eero Heinaluoma of Finland pointed out that Finland was one of the first countries to agree on a national set of sustainable development indicators and tools for such measurement in the late 1990s, and committed his country to mainstreaming new measures in its policy-making.

Other addresses were delivered by the Honorable Tim Fischer, Former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, a country which has implemented carbon taxes to reduce carbon emissions; Mr. Gilad Erdan, Minister of Environmental Protection for the Government of Israel, who spoke of their leadership in alternative energy and clean technology, especially in regard to water shortages; from the Kingdom of Morocco; High Commissioner for Planning Mr. Ahmed Lahlimi Alami, whose country has taken major steps to reduce poverty; the Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs from Thailand, Mr. Jullapong Nonsrichai, who referred to the Thai concept of “sufficient economy”; and Lord Gus O’Donnell, Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, who related its new well-being policy and measures. The British Government has instructed its office for National Statistics to begin measuring well-being in the United Kingdom.  The commitment of Great Britain to the Bhutan initiative was confirmed by the Prince of Wales who said in a video message that such a new paradigm is “an essential task that cannot be ignored.”

“Happiness is a sentiment that nests within each person,” said the President of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla Miranda, in her keynote address. “There are many paths to reach it.  But human history, as well as current realities, teaches us that the paths to Well-being are deeply connected to the respect for dignity and the creation of opportunities to freely pursue our full and harmonious realization as part of the natural and social milieu.” Costa Rica, recognized for its exemplary sustainable development record, was the top-rated nation on the Happy Planet Index, combining its green ecology with reports of high levels of life satisfaction by its citizens.

The meetings were endorsed by the Member States of the United Nations General Assembly, reflected in Resolution 65/309 passed July 2011, when 68 countries co-sponsored the  Bhutan-initiated resolution titled “Happiness: Toward a Holistic Approach to Development.”

Support from the United Nations was also evident in the participation of the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, President of the General Assembly Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, and President of the Economic and Social Council, Mr. Milos Koterec, all of whom gave opening comments. The Administrator for the United Nations Development Fund, Helen Clark, served as moderator.

“Gross National Product has long been the yardstick by which economies and politicians have been measured,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his inaugural address to the conference, “yet it fails to take into account the social and environmental costs of so-called progress.”

Four panels made presentations on ecological sustainability, efficient use of resources, fair distribution, and well-being and happiness, including presentations by the President of the Centre for Bhutan Studies Karma Ura and the Secretary of Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Commission, Karma Tshiteem.

Well-being is postulated as an important social indicator of development, which adds value to purely economic indicators; this is viewed as especially important for policy makers in this development model in which public happiness and well-being are their goals.

Eminent expert speakers represented the two aspects of the initiative – economic and psychological.  Nobel Laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz, endorsing the value and importance of the concept of well-being, said “Whatever the indicators we use, whether it’s Well-being or others, we have to be very conscious that …people are experiencing different things, and our commitment to equitable development means that we have to focus on the experiences not of the average but on what’s happening to all of our citizens, including those at the bottom and middle.” According to Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of British Columbia, John F. Helliwell, the world is moving toward both a green economy as well as policies that pay more attention to the quality of people’s lives.

Noted psychologist Martin Seligman founder of Positive Psychology (based on tenets of empathy, resilience, positive thinking, traits, relationships and institutions), emphasized the importance of Gross National Happiness in the mental health of peoples around the world.  Alarmingly high rates of depression worldwide underscore the relevance of such an index.

Happiness is a state and a trait and a skill and can be learned, noted Earth Institute Director Jeffrey Sachs.

In an appeal for a more green economy as well as concern for common good, David Cadman said, “We are living in a rock star mentality, as if there were no tomorrow.”

Prayers were given throughout the meetings by spiritual leaders from Hindu, Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist faiths.

While happiness has been critiqued as a naïve concept that cannot be measured, presentations at a pre-conference meeting at Columbia University refuted that idea.  Economists and experts from many fields presented “the “World Happiness Report,” released to coincide with the conference.  The report lends considerable credibility to a happiness index by presenting methodological approaches and measurement tools to assess development.  The result was extensive country rankings along nine “domains” or well-being indices, including community vitality, cultural and ecological diversity and resilience, good governance, health, education, living standards, time use, and psychosocial well-being (e.g. “life satisfaction” and “positive affect”). The report is co-edited by Professor Emeritus of Economics John F. Helliwell, Director of the Well-being Programme at the London School of Economics Lord Richard Layard and The Earth Institute Director Jeffrey D. Sachs.

Countering critiques about limits of measurement of well-being and happiness, Chief Statistician from the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, Ms. Martine Durand, described their “Better Life Initiative in Measuring Well-being and Progress.”

Although Bhutan is a small country, larger developed nations and their leaders are already committed to the new ways of measuring development and progress, including the British Prime Minister David Cameron, and France’s President Nikolas Sarkozy.  Both leaders commissioned Nobel Prize-winning economists Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen to examine new ways of measuring social progress. Sarkozy has said that the focus on GDP as the main measure of prosperity helped trigger the financial crisis; he ordered France’s statistics agency to integrate the findings of the study into future economic analysis.

The Gross National Happiness model has already been applied in cities, communities and corporations and schools in Brazil, a country that sent a considerable number of attendees to the conference. Susan Andrews, founder of the Brazil-based Fortune Vision Institute, showed a film about a large-scale effort in a Brazilian city whose students polled citizens about their happiness.

In two subsequent days, volunteers participated in break-out groups and came together to share plans and progress to help advance the Happiness agenda in four areas: strategic planning, expert and scholars, civil society involvement, and communications.

The planned outcomes were to submit a report on the conference to the Secretary General of the United Nations; to distribute a set of recommendations for national economic policies based on happiness and well-being to heads of governments around the world; to draft a new development paradigm; and to design a communications strategy to enhance the global understanding of well-being and happiness.

“Happiness is a way of being that comes with genuine altruistic love – serenity – that can be cultivated as a skill day after day, month after month,” said Buddhist scholar Matthieu Ricard. “Now one thing that is clear is that the pursuit of happiness is intimately linked with altruism. There’s no such thing as a successful selfish happiness… Happiness and altruism are not a luxury, they are a necessity.”

The movement has already spawned civil society organizations committed to the cause, including Gross National Happiness World Project, Gross National Happiness USA, a government-sponsored Happiness Project in Japan, the London-based Action for Happiness and the Observatoire International du Bonheur in France (Happiness Observatory), which offers legal tools and research on happiness, as well as entrepreneurship enterprises like GNHappiness, which provides consultation for business transformation.

Youth involvement was an important goal identified by the planning working group, consistent with the emphasis on youth by many United Nations initiatives. At the concluding ceremony, student Latoya Mistral Ferns presented her model of an interactive television show, currently being piloted at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, in which youth interview the public on the topic of happiness.

Since governments can make laws, but citizens must abide by them, reactions were important to gauge. Comments and questions from participants, interspersed between panelist presentations, revealed widespread enthusiasm and commitment to the GNH campaign.

In the year 2015, the Millennium Development Goals, as outlined by the United Nations, will formally come to an end (these include the eradication of poverty, improving maternal and child health, promoting gender equality, and combating HIV/AIDS malaria and other communicable diseases); the governments of the world will consider new Sustainable Development Goals for the years to follow.  Looking towards this time, Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley said, “I hope that by the year 2015, the international community would have integrated a sustainability-based economic paradigm committed to promoting true human well-being and happiness, and insuring at the same time the survival of all beings on this planet.”

Commentary is presented on the website of the Centre for Bhutan Studies. Opinions and outcomes of the conference are being collated to present at the new economic paradigm at the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (“Rio+20”) to take place in Brazil this June.

————–

For inquiries, please contact the official site of the Bhutan Government GNH Project.

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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 3rd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

As we wrote in our posting www.sustainabilitank.info – the ZERO DRAFT text for the RIO+20 outcome document included a paragraph  (#57) in its form that went into the informal-informals March 2012 meeting wording as follows:

“57. We agree to further consider the establishment of an Ombudsperson, or High Commissioner for Future Generations, to promote sustainable development.”

It also had two versions of Paragraph 49 – one titled “Commission on Sustainable Development” – the other titled Sustainable Development Council.

These paragraphs are to be found PART IV of the draft — INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT.

The draft  left the March Informal-informals with the wording as follows.

– – – – – – – –

57.       We agree to further consider the establishment of an Ombudsperson or High Commissioner for Future Generations, to promote sustainable development.

[57.     We agree to further consider the establishment of [an Ombudsperson, or / the position of – Liechtenstein] High Commissioner for [Future Generations / Intergenerational Solidarity – Holy See]. to promote sustainable development [at global, regional, and national level – Bangladesh]. – G77, Japan, Russian Federation, New Zealand delete; Canada, Norway reserve; EU delete and propose language in 49 alt quint; Montenegro, Liechtenstein move to para. 49 alt sext]

We like the addition by Liechtenstein – “the position of” because it makes it clear that this should be a small body.

We are neutral about the inclusion in the outcome document the recommendation to have similar positions at lower levels as we think that is going to be the task of those other levels to decide on this.

Obviously we are shocked by the opposition to the paragraph by groups like the G77 minus Bangladesh – ( but most probably many more member States of the G77 that did not go on the record yet ) Japan and New Zealand that have not yet understood that it should be a small office like Liechtenstein is proposing and thus not have major monetary implications, and the Russian Federation.

——–

Now let us see the EU  and the Montenegro suggestions for Paragraph #49:

[49  alt  quat (former para 57) [We support the establishment of an Ombudsperson, or Higher Commissioner for Future Generations, to promote sustainable development and the integrated approach at the highest level of decision, policy, and program making within the UN. We call upon the member states to establish similar institutions in their own national laws, which would be independent from the executive and have a mandate to consider petitions from the public and advocate for the interests and needs of future generations.  — Montenegro]

[49 alt quint   We agree to further consider the establishment or appointment, of a High-level Representative for Sustainable Development and Future Generations, possibly to be held within an existing office as the high-level voice called upon to promote an integrated and coherent approach to sustainable development through continuous dialogue with policy-makers, the UN system and civil society.  — EU, former para 57 as amended]

We find the Montenegro version stronger as it does not have the added wording of the possibility of placing the position within an existing office. Independence must be the ground rule, and if it is not guaranteed this new position can not succeed. On the other hand, if this is what it takes to get on board those that want to make sure that the creation of this position will not carry large financial burdens, we feel, mandating it to be small should answer these fears.




###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 2nd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

EU Fails To Resolve Dispute Over UN Climate Fund Seats.

Date: 02-Apr-12
Country: UK/BELGIUM
Author: Nina Chestney and Charlie Dunmore from Reuters.

European Union ambassadors failed to resolve a dispute over the allocation of seats on the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund (GCF) board on Friday, possibly undermining the bloc’s credibility in international climate talks.

The EU envoys were meeting for the second time in a week to decide which European nations will be represented on the governing board. This has 12 seats for developing countries and another 12 for developed countries.

“Despite willingness to compromise and adequately share board seats, it has, unfortunately, not been possible to come to an agreement within the EU,” the EU’s Danish presidency said in a statement.

As a result, the EU will miss a March 31 deadline for making a joint proposal on board membership, and EU governments and the bloc’s executive will now have to negotiate directly with other developed countries over who gets the seats.

“For this reason, respective nominations from the group of developed country parties will be withheld until these discussions have taken place,” delaying the entire process, the Danish presidency said.

U.N. climate talks in Durban last year agreed on the design of the fund, which is aimed at channelling up to $100 billion a year to help developing countries adapt to climate change.

Disputes of this kind could both slow the process towards the launch of the fund in 2013 and give other countries the impression that the EU is stalling on climate finance. “It shows that the EU unity we had in Durban has been eroded and that could damage Europe’s image in global climate change talks,” Danish presidency spokesman Jakob Alvi said.

The fund’s first board meeting is due on April 25 to 27, a U.N. spokesman said, subject to confirmation next week.

Despite the EU’s failure to reach an agreement, it should not affect the number of seats it will be allocated on the GCF board, he added.

SEAT DISPUTE

Thirteen of the 27 EU countries had requested a board seat, to ensure they had a say in funding decisions.

A draft EU document, seen by Reuters this week, shows that EU member states and Switzerland might together be able to obtain seven full seats plus associated alternating seats between them. Denmark had proposed that Britain, Germany and France, as the likely biggest financial contributors, should hold a full seat each and share three further alternating seats with another EU country.

But an EU source involved in the discussions said Germany – backed by France – refused to share its seat with any other EU country and insisted on a permanent position on the board, ending any chance of an EU compromise.

Poland also insisted on having a full seat, and told the meeting that in the absence of a joint proposal it would put itself forward to the U.N. in a separate bid outside the EU, sources said under condition of anonymity.

Poland, which relies heavily on coal production for its energy needs, says its economy would develop much more quickly if it wasn’t for the EU’s climate policy, which aims to make coal power generation more expensive.

“(The Commission) has tried to rob us so many times before. This time around we want to wear a second jacket – just in case – and let nothing we are eligible for miss us,” a Polish government source told Reuters.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 31st, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Please see point 57.

The idea is there  in practice – a High Commissioner for Future Generations in Parliament  – Hungary has now an Ombudsman – Dr. Sandor Fülöp, Ombudsman for Future Generations in Hungary,  and Israel has had a High Commissioner for Future Generations in its Parliament – Retired Judge Shlomo Shoham was that Commissioner 2001-2006.

PART IV of the draft — INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT.


A. Strengthening/reforming/integrating the three pillars

44. We recognize that strong governance at local, national, regional and global levels is critical for advancing sustainable development. The strengthening and reform of the institutional framework should, among other things:

a) Integrate the three pillars of sustainable development and promote the implementation of Agenda 21 and related outcomes, consistent with the principles of universality, democracy, transparency, cost-effectiveness and accountability, keeping in mind the Rio Principles, in particular common but differentiated responsibilities.

b) Provide cohesive, government-driven policy guidance on sustainable development and identify specific actions in order to fulfil the sustainable development agenda through the promotion of integrated decision making at all levels.

c) Monitor progress in the implementation of Agenda 21 and relevant outcomes and agreements, at local, national, regional and global levels.

d) Reinforce coherence among the agencies, funds and programmes of the United Nations system, including the International Financial and Trade Institutions.

B. GA, ECOSOC, CSD, SDC proposal

General Assembly

45. We reaffirm the central role of the General Assembly as the highest policy-making body, and call for it to further integrate sustainable development as a key element of the overarching framework for United Nations activities.

Economic and Social Council

46. We reaffirm that the Economic and Social Council is a central mechanism for the coordination of the United Nations system and its specialized agencies and supervision of its subsidiary bodies, in particular its functional commissions.

47. We also reaffirm that ECOSOC is a central forum for intergovernmental deliberations on economic and social issues, and provides guidance and coordination to the UN system’s operational activities for development in the field.

48. We agree to promote the role of ECOSOC in the integration of the three pillars of sustainable development including by making better use of the coordination segment of ECOSOC for monitoring implementation of agreements on sustainable development and, similarly, making use of the ECOSOC operational activities and humanitarian segments to promote mainstreaming of sustainable development into programmes of UN agencies and programmes.

Commission on Sustainable Development

49. We reaffirm the role of the Commission on Sustainable Development as the high level commission on sustainable development in the United Nations system. We agree to consider options for improving the working methods, the agenda and programme of work of the Commission to better facilitate, promote, and coordinate sustainable development implementation, including measures to ensure more focused, balanced and responsive engagement with a more limited set of issues, and enhanced implementation of its decisions. We also agree to consider means to enhance the review function of the Commission, including through a voluntary review process.

OR

Sustainable Development Council

49 alt. We resolve to transform the CSD into a Sustainable Development Council that will serve as the authoritative, high-level body for consideration of matters relating to the integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development

49 alt. bis The work of the Council should be based on fundamental documents on sustainable development such as Agenda 21, the Rio principles and related outcomes. The Council should, inter alia, fully carry out the functions and mandates of the Commission for Sustainable Development. It would be guided by the need to promote integration of the three pillars of sustainable development, promote effective implementation at all levels and promote effective institutional coherence. It should help in enhancing the involvement of all stakeholders, particularly major groups, in the follow-up of Rio+20.

49 alt ter. We request the President of the General Assembly to conduct open, transparent and inclusive negotiations, with the aim of establishing the mandate, modalities, functions, size, composition, membership, working methods and procedures of the Council and report on the outcome before the end of the 67th session of the General Assembly.

C. UNEP, specialized agency on environment proposal, IFIs, United Nations operational activities at country level

50. We reaffirm the need to strengthen international environmental governance within the context of the institutional framework for sustainable development, in order to promote a balanced integration of the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development, and to this end:

51. We agree to strengthen the capacity of UNEP to fulfil its mandate by establishing universal membership in its Governing Council and call for significantly increasing its financial base to deepen policy coordination and enhance means of implementation.

OR

51 alt. We resolve to establish a UN specialized agency for the environment with universal membership of its Governing Council, based on UNEP, with a revised and strengthened mandate, supported by stable, adequate and predictable financial contributions and operating on an equal footing with other UN specialized agencies. This agency, based in Nairobi, would cooperate closely with other specialized agencies.

52. We stress the need for a regular review of the state of the planet and the Earth’s carrying capacity and request the Secretary-General to coordinate the preparation of such a review in consultation with relevant international organizations and the UN system.

53. We call for the scientific basis for decision making to be strengthened across the UN system and recognise that the interface between science and policy-making should be enhanced.

54. We recognize that sustainable development must be given due consideration by the International Financial Institutions, especially the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the regional development banks, UNCTAD and the World Trade Organization in regulating global trade. In that regard, we request the international financial institutions to review their programmatic strategies to ensure the provision of better support to developing countries for the implementation of sustainable development.

55. We recognize that coordination and cooperation among the MEAs are needed in order to, inter alia, address policy fragmentation and avoid overlap and duplication. We welcome the work already undertaken to enhance synergies among the three conventions in the chemicals and waste cluster. We call for further measures to enhance coordination and cooperation among MEAs in other clusters.

56. We emphasise the need to strengthen operational activities for sustainable development, especially the delivery of the UN system in the field.

57. We agree to further consider the establishment of an Ombudsperson, or High Commissioner for Future Generations, to promote sustainable development.

58. We agree to take steps to give further effect to Rio Principle 10 at the global, regional and national level, as appropriate.

D. Regional, national, local

59. We reaffirm that overarching sustainable development strategies incorporated in national development plans are key instruments for the implementation of sustainable development commitments at regional, national and sub-national levels.

60. We call for the strengthening of existing regional and sub-regional mechanisms, including the regional commissions, in promoting sustainable development through capacity building, exchange of information and experiences and providing expertise.

61. We underline the need for more coherent and integrated planning and decision-making at the national level. We therefore call on countries to establish and strengthen, as appropriate, national sustainable development councils to enable them to coordinate, consolidate and ensure the mainstreaming of cross-cutting issues in the highest decision-making bodies, with the integration and full participation of all stakeholders.

62. We recognise the need to integrate sustainable urban development policy as a key component of a national sustainable development policy and, in this regard, to empower local authorities to work more closely with national governments. We recognize that partnerships among cities have emerged as a leading force for action on sustainable development. We commit to support international cooperation among local authorities, including through assistance from international organizations.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 27th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The New York Times OP-ED contributor from The World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland

At Davos, Debating Capitalism’s Future

By  Ed Miliband –  a member of the British Parliament and the leader of the Labour Party.
Published: January 26, 2012

IS 20th-century capitalism failing 21st-century society? Members of the global elite debated that unusual question on Wednesday at the annual World Economic Forum.

There was a time, not long ago, when such a debate would have been held only among the protesters who annually shelter in igloos farther down the Alpine slopes. So it is encouraging that more than three years since the global financial crisis, a belated process of soul-searching has begun in search of the right lessons to learn from it.

In Britain, members of the Conservative-led government — not least the prime minister, David Cameron — have echoed the Labour Party’s call for a more responsible capitalism.

There is a great difference, however, between being willing to talk about an issue and being ready to act.

It is a difference between those who still believe that all governments can do is get out of the way and those who believe there is a real role for governments in first reviving our economies, and then setting the right rules for future success. The challenge therefore is not just to capitalism but also to politics.

At the Group of 20 summit in London three years ago, Prime Minister Gordon Brown and President Obama led concerted action to guide the world economy from the brink. Three years later, some governments are engaging in a short-sighted fiscal protectionism that can only lead to stunted growth.

If we learned anything from the 1930s, it was that governments cannot shrug their shoulders and watch as their own people are consigned to unemployment. I find it tragic and astonishing that some governments need to learn this lesson again.

Nor should we forget the causes of the current growth and debt crisis as we seek to put our economies on a more sustainable footing.

Both the United States and Britain suffered because their economies were overly reliant on the financial sector’s artificial profits; living standards for the many worsened while the economic rewards skewed to the top 1 percent; a capitalist model encouraged short-term decision-making oriented toward quarterly profits rather than long-term health; and vested interests — from giant banks to media moguls —were deemed too big to fail or too powerful to challenge.

We need to recognize that the trickle-down promise of conservative theorists has turned into a gravity-defying reality in which wealth has flowed upward disproportionately and, too often, undeservedly. To address properly the squeeze in middle-class incomes on both sides of the Atlantic requires fresh thinking from governments about how people train for their working lives and what a living wage should be.

Governments can set better — not necessarily more — rules to encourage productive businesses that invest, invent, train, make and sell real products and services. We need rules that discourage the predatory behavior of those seeking the fast buck through hostile takeovers and asset-stripping that do not have the interests of the shareholders, the employees or the economy at heart.  In Britain, the Labour Party is considering how we can raise the bar for corporate takeovers so that companies’ futures are not determined by just a handful of speculators.

And governments must remember they are elected to serve the people, not the powerful lobbies who can pay for access or influence.

Too often the real enemies of market capitalism are some of the leading beneficiaries of the current model, which favors price-gouging cartels and consumer exploitation.

In Britain, airlines need to be more upfront about  the true cost of their fares, and pension firms cannot continue to sign up customers for products that can chip away at their retirement income through exorbitant management fees.

As President Obama noted in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, it is neither socially nor economically sustainable for the wealthiest and most powerful to avoid paying their fair share. I support proposals for a financial transactions tax levied equally on the major trading centers from Hong Kong and Singapore to Wall Street and the City of London. The British government needs to show more leadership on this issue in Europe — and all members of G-20 need to help make it happen.

Britain loses billions of pounds in revenues because of outdated rules that allow our richest citizens to keep their money in off-shore tax havens. Tax authorities need to know about income and wealth hidden behind front companies, trusts and other complex financial products. If these rules cannot be changed by international agreement, progressive governments should go ahead and do it themselves.

As President Obama said in his State of the Union address this week, it is “common sense” to ask a billionaire to pay, proportionally, at least as much as his secretary in taxes. Indeed, in Davos this week, I will look around the room and ask myself who pays taxes at a higher rate — those eating the soup or those serving it?

In my country, I believe that changing the rules of capitalism will mean a change of government. But more generally, it will require a change in what citizens expect and ask of politics. The question is not so much whether 20th-century capitalism is failing 21st-century society but whether politics can rise to the challenge of changing a flawed economic model.

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George Soros’s essay in the forthcoming edition of the New York Review of Books: www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/feb/23/how-save-euro.
The essay is adapted from a speech he delivered at the opening of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

All best from Michael Vachon

How to Save the Euro

George Soros

The upcoming issue of The New York Review of Books.

My new book, Financial Turmoil in Europe and the United States, tries to explain and, to the extent possible, predict the outcome of the euro crisis. It follows the same pattern as my other books: it contains an updated version of my conceptual approach and the application of that approach to a particular situation, and it presents a real-time experiment to test the validity of my interpretation. Its account is not complete because the crisis is still ongoing.

We remain in the acute phase of the crisis; the prospect of a meltdown of the global financial system has not been removed. In my book, I proposed a plan that would bring immediate relief to global financial markets but it has not been adopted.

My proposal is to use the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), and its successor the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), to insure the European Central Bank (ECB) against the solvency risk on any newly issued Italian or Spanish treasury bills they may buy from commercial banks. Banks could then hold those bills as the equivalent of cash, enabling Italy and Spain to refinance their debt at close to 1 percent. Italy, for instance, would see its average cost of borrowing decline rather than increase from the current 4.3 percent. This would put their debt on a sustainable course and protect them against the threat of an impending Greek default. I call this the Padoa-Schioppa plan, in memory of my friend who helped stabilize Italy’s finances in the 1990s and who inspired the proposal. The plan is rather complicated, but it is both legally and technically sound. I describe it in detail in my book.

The European financial authorities rejected this plan in favor of the Long-Term Refinancing Operation (LTRO) of the European Central Bank, which provides unlimited amounts of liquidity to European banks—not to states themselves—for up to three years. That allows Italian and Spanish banks to buy the bonds of their own country and engage in a very profitable “carry trade”—in which one borrows at low interest to buy something that will pay higher interest—in those bonds at practically no risk because if the country defaulted the banks would be insolvent anyhow.

The difference between the two schemes is that mine would provide an instant reduction in interest costs to governments while the one actually adopted has kept the countries and their banks hovering on the edge of a potential insolvency. I am not sure whether the authorities have deliberately prolonged the crisis atmosphere in order to maintain pressure on heavily indebted countries or whether they were driven to their course of action by divergent views that they could not reconcile in any other way. As a disciple of Karl Popper, I ought to opt for the second alternative. Which interpretation is correct is not inconsequential, because the Padoa-Schioppa plan is still available and could be implemented at any time as long as the remaining funds of the EFSF are not otherwise committed.

Either way, it is Germany that dictates European policy because at times of crisis the creditors are in the driver’s seat. The trouble is that the cuts in government expenditures that Germany wants to impose on other countries will push Europe into a deflationary debt trap. Reducing budget deficits will put both wages and profits under downward pressure, the economies will contract, and tax revenues will fall. So the debt burden, which is a ratio of the accumulated debt to the GDP, will actually rise, requiring further budget cuts, setting in motion a vicious circle.

To be sure, I am not accusing Germany of acting in bad faith. It genuinely believes in the policies it is advocating. Germany is the most successful economy in Europe. Why should not the rest of Europe be like it? But it is pursuing an impossibility. In a closed system like the euro clearing system, everybody cannot be a creditor at the same time. The fact that a counterproductive policy is being imposed by Germany creates a very dangerous political dynamic. Instead of bringing the member countries closer together it will drive them to mutual recriminations. There is a real danger that the euro will undermine the political cohesion of the European Union.

The evolution of the European Union is following a course that greatly resembles a sequence of boom and bust or a financial bubble. That is no accident. Both processes are “reflexive,” that is, as I have argued elsewhere, they are largely driven by mistakes and misconceptions.

In the boom phase the European Union was what the British psychologist David Tuckett calls a “fantastic  object”—an unreal but attractive object of desire. To my mind, it represented the embodiment of an open society—another fantastic object. It was an association of nations founded on the principles of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law that is not dominated by any nation or nationality. Its creation was a feat of piecemeal social engineering led by a group of farsighted statesmen who understood that the fantastic object itself was not within their reach. They set limited objectives and firm timelines and then mobilized the political will for a small step forward, knowing full well that when they accomplished it, its inadequacy would become apparent and require a further step.

That is how the European Coal and Steel Community was gradually transformed into the European Union, step by step. During the boom period Germany was the main driving force. When the Soviet empire started to fall apart, Germany’s leaders realized that reunification of their country was possible only in a more united Europe. They needed the political support of other European powers, and they were willing to make considerable sacrifices to obtain it. When it came to bargaining they were willing to contribute a little more and take a little less than the others, thereby facilitating agreement. At that time, German statesmen used to assert that Germany had no independent foreign policy, only a European policy. The process—the boom, if you will—culminated with the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 and the introduction of the euro in 2002. It was followed by a period of stagnation that turned into a process of disintegration after the crash of 2008.

The euro was an incomplete currency and its architects knew it. The Maastricht Treaty established a monetary union without a political union. The euro boasted a common central bank to provide liquidity, but it lacked a common treasury that would be able to deal with solvency risk in times of crisis. The architects had good reason to believe, however, that when the time came further steps would be taken toward a political union. But the euro also had some other defects of which the architects were unaware and that are not fully understood even today. These defects contributed to setting in motion a process of disintegration.

The fathers of the euro relied on an interpretation of financial markets that proved its inadequacy in the crash of 2008. They believed, in particular, that only the public sector is capable of producing unacceptable economic imbalances; the invisible hand of the market would correct the imbalances produced by markets. In addition, they believed that the safeguards they introduced against public sector imbalances were adequate. Consequently, they treated government bonds as riskless assets that banks could buy and hold without allocating any capital reserves against them.

When the euro was introduced, the ECB treated the government bonds of all member states as equal. This gave banks an incentive to gorge themselves on the bonds of the weaker countries in order to earn a few extra basis points, since the yields on those bonds were slightly higher. It also caused interest rates to converge. That, in turn, caused economic performance to diverge. Germany, struggling with the burdens of reunification, undertook structural reforms, principally in its labor markets, and became more competitive. Other countries, benefiting from lower interest rates, enjoyed a housing boom that made them less competitive. That is how the introduction of the euro caused the divergence in competitiveness that is now so difficult to correct. The banks were weighed down with the government bonds of less competitive countries that turned from riskless assets into the riskiest ones.

The tipping point was reached when a newly elected Greek government revealed that the previous government had cheated and the national deficit was much bigger than had been announced. The Greek crisis revealed the gravest defect in the Maastricht Treaty: it has no provisions for correcting errors in the euro’s design. There is neither a mechanism for enforcing payment by member states of the European debt nor an exit mechanism from the euro; and member countries cannot resort to printing money. The statutes of the ECB strictly prohibit it from lending to member states, although it lends to banks. So it was left to the other member states to come to Greece’s rescue.

Unfortunately the European authorities had little understanding of how financial markets really work. Far from combining all the available knowledge in the market’s movements, as economic theory claims, financial markets are ruled by impressions and emotions and they abhor uncertainty. To bring a financial crisis under control requires firm leadership and ample financial resources. But Germany did not want to become the deep pocket for bad debtors. Consequently Europe always did too little too late and the Greek crisis snowballed. The bonds of other heavily indebted countries such as Italy and Spain were hit by contagion—i.e., in view of the failure in Greece they had to pay higher yields. The European banks suffered losses that were not recognized on their balance sheets.

Germany aggravated the situation by imposing draconian conditions and insisting that Greece should pay penalty rates on the loans in the rescue package that Germany and other states provided. The Greek economy collapsed, capital fled, and Greece repeatedly failed to meet the conditions of the rescue package. Eventually Greece became patently insolvent. Germany then further destabilized the situation by insisting on private sector participation in the rescue. This pushed the risk premiums on Italian and Spanish bonds through the roof and endangered the solvency of the banking system. The authorities then ordered the European banking system to be recapitalized. This was the coup de grâce. It created a powerful incentive for the banks to shrink their balance sheets by calling in loans and getting rid of risky government bonds, rather than selling shares at a discount.

That is where we are today. The credit crunch started to make its effect felt on the real economy in the last quarter of 2011. The ECB then started to reduce interest rates and aggressively expand its balance sheet by buying government bonds in the open market. The ECB’s LTRO facility provided relief to the banking system but left Italian and Spanish bonds precariously balanced between the sustainable and the unsustainable.

What lies ahead? Economic deterioration and political and social disintegration will mutually reinforce each other. During the boom phase the political leadership was in the forefront of further integration; now the European leaders are trying to protect a status quo that is clearly untenable. Treaties and laws that were meant to be stepping stones have turned into immovable rocks. I have in mind Article 123 of the Lisbon Treaty, which prohibits the ECB from lending money directly to member states. The German authorities, notably the Constitutional Court and the Bundesbank, are dead set on enforcing rules that have proved to be unworkable. For instance, the Bundesbank’s narrow interpretation of Article 123 prevented Germany from contributing its Special Drawing Rights to a rescue effort by the G20. This is the path to disintegration. Those who find the status quo intolerable and are actively looking for change are driven to anti-European and xenophobic extremism. What is happening today in Hungary—where a far-right party is demanding that Hungary leave the EU—is a precursor of what is in store.

The outlook is truly dismal but there must be a way to avoid it. After all, history is not predetermined. I can see an alternative. It is to rediscover the European Union as the “fantastic object” that used to be so alluring when it was only an idea. That fantastic object was almost within reach until we lost our way. The authorities forgot that they are fallible and started to cling to the status quo as if it were sacrosanct. The European Union as a reality bears little resemblance to the fantastic object that used to be so alluring. It is undemocratic to the point where the electorate is disaffected and it is ungovernable to the point where it cannot deal with the crisis that it has created.

These are the defects that need to be fixed. That should not be impossible. All we need to do is to reassert the principles of open society and recognize that the prevailing order is not cast in stone and rules are in need of improvement. We need to find a European solution for the euro crisis because national solutions would lead to the dissolution of the European Union, and that would be catastrophic; but we must also change the status quo. That is the kind of program that could inspire the silent majority that is disaffected and disoriented but at heart still pro-European.

When I look around the world I see people aspiring to open society. I see it in the Arab Spring, in various African countries; I see stirrings in Russia, and as far away as Burma and Malayasia. Why not in Europe?

To be a little more specific, let me suggest the outlines of a European solution to the euro crisis. It involves a delicate two-phase maneuver, similar to the one that got us out of the crash of 2008. When a car is skidding, you first have to turn the steering wheel in the direction of the skid, and only after you have regained control can you correct your direction. In this case, you must first impose strict fiscal discipline on the deficit countries and encourage structural reforms; but then you must find some stimulus to get you out of the deflationary vicious circle— because structural reforms alone will not do it. The stimulus will have to come from the European Union and it will have to be guaranteed jointly and severally. It is likely to involve eurobonds in one guise or another. It is important, however, to spell out the solution in advance. Without a clear game plan Europe will remain mired in a larger vicious circle in which economic decline and political disintegration mutually reinforce each other.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 30th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Today, Sunday October 30, 2011, the day Europe moves the clock an hour backwards and prepares for the All Saints Holiday, preceded by some American Halloween parties, I went on a tour of inner Vienna City with people from the  Department of Development Studies/University of Vienna, and guests from Thailand.  Appropriately we met at the “Pestsaeule am Graben” the memorial to one of the black plague infestations that are part of the history of Europe.

I knew that this multi level monument was  a thank you note to Heaven for having helped the ruler of the time vanquish the Plague that was brought about as a punishment to the people for having strayed from strict Catholicism. I knew that the target of thanks was the Holly Trinity that is represented on top of the structure with events on earth at the bottom of the structure, and all sorts of angels as the go-in-between part of the column.  But what I did not know, until I heard the explanation from Vienna guide “Elisabeth” was that the column is in effect triangular at its base, and not quadratic as I was given the impression previously.

The number 3 is not only because of the theological Trinity, but what is more important in fact – the three titles of the Habsburg Emperors who Where Archdukes of Austria, Kings of Hungary, and Kings of Bohemia (that is basically the Czech Republic of today). They could not be Kings of Austria because they were already Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire and as such rulers of Austria anyway – so they invented the non-existent previously Archduke title just to make sure that their title is more then the usual Duke title of European nobility.  The three countries that were the central kernel of the Habsburg Empire – the future Austr0-Hungarian Empire – have their crests depicted as part of the transition to the central part of the column from the starting triangular base.

Now we see the number 3 in the lower part of the structure morphing into the Trinity 3 of the top and people of the time had to be impressed of this transformation in their reverence of the Emperor who led them out of the misery of the plague.

To end this part of my narrative – let me say here that a fuller description of the Plague-column follows at the end of the posting – but I am sure you guessed that this posting is not about the column, and that I have indeed other things on my mind – but please remember the number 3.

When I saw this political importance of the number 3 I had to say aloud  that is great – it also keeps away the #4 and #5, so let me see how this applies to the Europe of today and the world that wants to see Europe as a united one to go with the G2 (China and the US) in order to turn the geopolitics to the trinity of a G3. And here, Dr. Wolfram Schaffar observed that the EU 27 divides by 3 and I saw the light that 27= 3×3 and I said – voila – this is it – we must get the EU aim at a G3 for its own survival. The plague is at its door if it does not unite.

The truth is that this morning I had a chance to see the papers and read my e-mail before leaving the house. I knew that the so called achievement of a financial rescue is built on the good will of China to fund the Merkel-Sarkozi agreement. But the papers say that Norway, India, Brazil – already said they are not interested in investing in EU paper I.O.Us.

I also read that China did not just buy Volvo, but SAAB as well. Does anyone believe that China will invest in just papers? Will they not require rather a pound of flesh? All this because the EU is not united in a way that tells the EURO-Printer to simply print out money the way the Greeks now say they wish they could still print old Drachma’s? We said this a long time ago that printing Federal Bonds is just a fake way of doing the same thing as printing directly currency. The people of Occupy Wall Street understand this – but the people who inhabit the Wall Street offices do not want to look in that direction because it would turn them back into what they were intended for – plain banks that store money and lend it – that is it. No financial monopoly games in bonds and derivatives of derivatives of loans. But this was not intended as a Wall Street posting. It was an EU Plague-piece inspired by the realization that a United Europe has all the attributes of a global power that has its own economy, currency and market size to sit at the global  table with China and the US, and while understood that India and Brazil will be next to be invited to this table.

You start looking at the economy-change plague caused by the high tech revolution in communication and production by standing on a triangular base (a binary system – based on 2 – is an oversimplification because the real world has further nuances. #3 is the minimum you can stand up with, if you move away from dictatorial #1 systems so the Trinity was a return to humanity from the strict monotheism of the Hebrews).  But let us not get further into this either, as we do not write on theology – but on plain old Europe that is now on the brink of economic extinction. The continent that colonized the rest of the World is about to be digested by others because of its economic fratricide. The papers in Vienna write about the Chinese leader that will be in Austria for two days on the way to the G20 meeting in France. I am sure Austria will role out the golden red carpet for him and take away some of his tourism time with business initiatives to be followed up later. Very good, but the best deals can be had between equals, and Austria is not the equal to China, and Ambassador Mayr-Harting, who represent not Austria anymore but the EU at the UN in New York, has really not a United EU propping him up in World negotiations.

YES – I KNOW THIS IS A STRANGE POSTING – PRE HALLOWEEN – BUT VERY UP TO THE POINT AND LOOKING AT HOW YEAR 2012 COULD BE OF VERY BAD VINTAGE FOR EUROPE.

I have seen Halloween spelled here this year as Hell-o-Wien   whatever this party tomorrow at the Ottakring brewery might mean. That is the day the full Boeing 747-400 of Air China will have deposited 160 members of an economic Chinese delegation headed by President  Hu Jintao, accompanied by First Lady Liu Yongqing, who will occupy appropriately the Imperial Hotel for two nights before moving on for a third night to the near SAlzburg Schlosshotel Fuschl that has seen many business meetings in the past. Considering the large presence in Austria of Free Tibet and Falun Gong groups, an entourage of 70 Chinese Security people came along to help direct the whole Austrian security manpower that will lay lame the city for the All Saints day which is not a working day here – but then all Government and Parliament people, not just the Austrian President Hans Fischer, will be at hand nevertheless. So it shall be done to the head of the most important financial Superpower these days. Having seen a photo of a well covered Austrian crack-Security fighter – I will attest that his looks were inspired by the seasoned warriors of the Middle Kingdom – or they got the uniform from the collection of the Museum of Armed Forces. But this was clearly not reciprocated as the Chinese come in a American made Boeing rather then  in an Airbus made in Europe. Maybe China will suggest buying the Airbus line and moving it to China. Actually why not?

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The Wiener Pestäule or Dreifaltigkeitssäule can be found in the centre of Vienna?s most exclusive shopping street, the Graben. The word literally means “ditch” and refers to one that ran along the lane during Roman Times. Today, it is a rather strange blend of Gründerzeit villas with boutiques, tons of tourists, and a few Baroque remains.

Apart from a Baroque Palace and the Peterskirche Church, the most central Baroque eye-catcher is a sculpture that many foreigners find very unusual: The Pestäule orDreifaltigkeitssäule (meaning: Plaque- or Trinity Column) is a tower of clouds, saints, angels and Habsburgs (not necessarily in this order). It is the most important example of an entire genre of sculptures all over Central Europe.

At the base – which is triangular in its outlay – you find a kneeling Emperor Leopold I, easily recognizable by his enormous (and enormously ugly) chin. The Vienna Trinity Column is the most famous and oldest piece of a whole genreof columns that can be found in various cities mostly in Austria, Bohemia and Bavaria.

The Origin of the Trinity Column in Vienna

According to legend, its erection is directly linked to one of Vienna?s last really nasty plaque epidemics in 1679. As usual when things turned bad, the Emperor (Leopold I in this case) left the city immediately. But he promised to come back and erect a column to commemorate the events as soon as the plaque would cease. The reasoning was probably something like this: If god really wants a fancy column to his glory, he will stop bugging the Viennese with disease sooner than normal.

I don?t know to what extent this would hold up to contemporary theological concepts, but I do know that even art historians have difficulties with this explanation. In fact, trinity columns were a common tool for the Habsburg propaganda of the counter-reformation. They were built to impress and educate common people: About the glory of (the Catholic) god and why he is directly linked to the Habsburg family.

Back to the original story: Once the plaque had ceased, there was indeed a column erected in 1679. However, it was a very plain wooden one and nothing compared to the Trinity Column you can now see on the Graben. It wasn?t until the end of the Second Turkish Siege in 1683 and the defeat of the Ottoman Empire that the Emperor decided to built a proper Trinity Column as a memorial for the Holy Trinity, to commemorate the plaque, the Turkish defeat and his own glory. This was a costly enterprise: Plaque, Turks and Protestant wars (such as the 30-Years-War until 1648) had prevented the Habsburg from accumulating too much wealth.

Pestsäule Vienna: Mother of all Trinity Columns

Between 1683 and 1693, various important artists of the Austrian Baroque worked on the design – most notably Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlachand Paul Strudel. The core of the column was made of brick, but the sculptures and relief structures on the outside are made of (often guilded) marble from the Untersberg in Salzburg. Only the statue of Emperor Leopold I is made of a different kind of marble from South Tyrol. Since the “opening” in 1693, innumerable PhDs were written on the Trinity Column and its implications for the Baroque age and the Habsburg Society.

The Trinity Column of Vienna became an iconic model for many similar projects in other cities of the Habsburg Empire. They are usually dedicated to the virgin Mary – partly because she is the patron saint for times of crisis, but also because the adoration of Mary is a typically Catholic feature. In the days of the counter-reformation, a pro-Mary statement was always anti-Protestant. The Vienna Trinity Column was renovated recently and is now a shiny landmark at the heart of the city just as it was in the 17th century.

Attractions nearby include the Stephansdom Cathedral, the Michaelerplatz and the Hofburg, the Albertina, the Staatsoper, the Minoritenkirche, the…well, it is in the centre of Vienna, so approximately 80 percent of the city?s attractions are within walking distance.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 18th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

THE CLUB OF ROME and THE BANK AUSTRIA.

And The Society for International Development.

Ein Nadelöhr so groß wie ein Kamel ?

über die Finanzkrise, Reichtum und neue Armut

—-

Montag, 3. Oktober 2011, 18.00
Altes Rathaus, Wipplinger Straße 8, 1010 Wien


mit

Franz Josef Radermacher

—-

Die aktuellen Probleme zeigen: Unsere Wirtschaftsweise ist nicht zukunftsfähig. Seit Beginn der Finanzkrise scheinen sich immer neue Problemlagen zu ergeben, die von spektakulären Bankenrettungsversuchen bis zur Krise des Eurosystems reichen – mit offenem Ausgang.

Wie war es möglich, dass wir uns so weit in eine Sackgasse hinein begeben haben? Franz Josef Radermacher erläutert, wie man den Irrtümern der Marktfundamentalisten aufgesessen ist – inklusive irreführender statistischer Verfahren, die eine wachsende globale Ungleichheit mehr kaschiert als beschrieben haben.

So konnte sich ein nie dagewesener Hyper-Reichtum entwickeln, während gleichzeitig immer mehr Menschen um ihre tägliche Existenz kämpfen müssen. Franz Josef Radermacher wird Reformschritte aufzeigen, die uns zu einer Gesellschaftsform bringen können, in der Wohlstand fairer verteilt wird.


Über den Referenten:

Prof. Dr. Dr. F. J. Radermacher ist Vorstand des Forschungsinstituts
für anwendungs- orientierte Wissensverarbeitung/n (FAW/n),
gleichzeitig Professor für “Datenbanken und Künstliche Intelligenz” an
der Universität Ulm, Präsident des Senats der Wirtschaft e. V., Bonn,
Vizepräsident des Ökosozialen Forum Europa, Wien sowie Mitglied des
Club of Rome.

Er studierte Mathematik und Wirtschaftswissenschaften (RWTH Aachen,
Universität Karlsruhe), Habilitation in Mathematik an der RWTH Aachen
1982. Seine Forschungsschwerpunkte sind u. a. globale
Problemstellungen, lernende Orga­nisationen, Um­gang mit Risiken,
Fragen der Verantwortung von Personen und Systemen,
umwelt­ver­träg­liche Mobilität, nachhaltige Entwicklung,
Überbevölkerung.

Ausgezeichnet wurde er u. a. durch den Planetary Consciousness Award
des Club of Budapest, den Preis für Zukunftsforschung des Landes
Salzburg (Robert-Jungk-Preis), den Karl-Werner-Kieffer-Preis und den
“Integrations-Preis” der Apfelbaum Stiftung.

————————————————————————————————————-

Weitere Informationen und ein Formular zur Anmeldung finden Sie auf der Webseite   —

www.clubofrome.at/zukunft/

Über Ihr Interesse an der Veranstaltung würden wir uns sehr freuen.

Dr. Thomas Schauer
Director
The Club of Rome – European Support Centre
Tuchlauben 8-15, 1010 Vienna, Austria
phone: +43 1 512 5770
www.clubofrome.at

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 14th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Zum Zustand der ungarischen Demokratie.- Ungarische Sackgassensozialisten.

by Mario Schwaiger

Vienna, Austria. The article is based on work in Hungary – 01/10/2010 – 31/01/2011. www.auslandsdienst.at


Gegeben der Fall, dass eine Partei eine 2/3-Mehrheit im Parlament besitzt – ohne Koalition versteht sich. Ebenso gegeben, dass das auch der Präsident ein Abkömmling dieser Partei ist. Wie setzt man sich der Willkür einer solchen Regierung entgegen?

Bis vor ein paar Jahren kämpfte sich die sozialistische ungarische Regierung durch verschiedene Krisen. Machtlos, aber ehrlich.

Ein parteiinterner Sager des inzwischen ehemaligen Premiers Ferenc Gyurcsány, die Regierung hätte “die letzten eineinhalb, zwei Jahre durchgelogen” erreichte jedoch die Öffentlichkeit und seine Ehrlichkeit, die Genossen zu ebensolcher anzuhalten belohnte der Wähler nicht. Ein Erdrutschsieg für die konservativ-nationalistischen Jungdemokraten (Fidesz) folgte. Damit ein glattes KO für alle anderen Parteien. Die Sozialisten wurden auf 15% – man könnte sagen „geprügelt“, die rechtsextreme Jobbik-Partei, auf 10%.

Die Jungdemokraten hätten eigentlich eine sehr ehrenhafte Geschichte zu verzeichnen: In den letzten Jahren des Kommunismus gegründet, waren sie eine der Kräfte, die Ungarn in die westliche Welt und in die Demokratie führten.

Heute sind mehr als zwei Drittel der Sitze im ungarischen Parlament am Kossuth-Lajos-Platz von den Helden von ’89 okkupiert. Mit dieser Macht ausgestattet kamen neue Gesetze: Mit der neuen „Flat-Tax“ fallen Schlechtverdienende und Reiche in dieselbe Steuerklasse. Steuererleichterungen für Erstere sind damit ersatzlos gestriche. Ein anderes Gesetz verstaatliche private Pensionsvorsorgen. Premier Viktor Orbán versuchte zu beschwichtigen – „niemand wird verlieren“. Ein Gewerkschaftler konterte in einer Kundgebung vor 50.000 potentiellen Nichtgewinnern:“Ich sehe hier nur niemanden!“

Gegen diese neuen Segen soll die Bevölkerung nicht demonstrieren. Schon gar nicht vor dem Parlament. Deswegen steht eine Fotoausstellung am Kossuth-Lajos-Tér. Inmitten der Bilder von ehemaligen großungarischen Gebieten kann man weder Versammlungen noch sonstige größere Projekte abhalten. Zu sehen sind ungarische Holzfäller in Rumänien, ungarische Volksfeste in Rumänien und „richtige“ Ungarn – seltsamerweise ebenfalls in Rumänen.

Ungarn von der Adria fast bis zum schwarzen Meer suggerieren diese Tafeln – eine Ablenkung. Die Menschen in der Republik Un… Verzeihung. In „Ungarn Land“, wie es nach der neuesten Verfassungsänderung heißen soll protestieren inzwischen auf der Straße. Gegen die neue Mediengesellschaft, die unliebsame Berichte einfach wegzensieren kann, gegen Arbeitszeitverlängerungen der Feuerwehr (will sich der geneigte Leser von einem 62-jährigen Feuerwehrmann retten lassen?) oder einfach gegen die komplett unfähige Regierung.

Einer dieser Demonstrierenden ist Ferenc Gyurcsány, der mit seiner ruhigen, ehrlich wirkenden Art auf dem Podium steht. Ich habe ihn interviewt und wollte wissen „welche Möglichkeiten stehen zur Verfügung die derzeitige Regierung abzusetzen?“

Man wird standhaft bleiben und die Gesetze respektieren.

Spätestens 2014 muss Premier Orbán seine Rechnung begleichen!

„2014? Drei Jahre sind doch genug um eine Diktatur zu etablieren?“

Resignierend gesteht er ein, dass es keine anderen Optionen gibt.

Im Magyarenland gibt es keinen Volksentscheid – und möglicherweise auch bald keine Demokratie mehr.

———————————————————————————–

References:

“die letzten eineinhalb, zwei Jahre durchgelogen”
“geprügelt”
Ist kein Zitat, sondern lediglich ein etwas bunteres Wort, dass ich ob dieser Farbigkeit unter Anführungszeichen gesetzt habe
Trotzdem passt es recht gut: “Flat-Tax”
“richtige”
Kein Zitat, kann ggf. gestrichen werden – ist eher, um den Leser zu verdeutlichen, dass die Regierung hier zeigen will, dass das Land immer noch zu Ungarn gehört
„niemand wird verlieren“ und “Ich sehe hier nur niemanden!“
Das vollständige Zitat von Pataki Péter, dem Präsidenten des Landesverbandes der Ungarischen Gewerkschaften lautet:
“Unser Ministerpräsident sagt, dass es niemandem schlecht geht. Ich sehe hier vor mir sehr viele Niemanden. Es sollte kein Irrtum sein: die vorgeschriebenen Sondersteuern werden wir bezahlen. Wir zahlen schon. Tag für Tag”
Hier müsste dann ggf. das Wort “Ein Gewerkschaftler” durch die vollständige Bezeichnung ersetzt werden
Die Kundgebung war am Heldenplatz in Budapest
Was die Fakten betrifft:
Verstaatlichung von Renten
Mediengesellschaft und Zensur
Feuerwehrleute, Polizisten, etc
Wo ich das jetzt lese – gerne hätte ich in den Artikel noch eingefügt, dass Richter ab sofort mit 62 zwangspensioniert werden. Jüngere Richter sind leichter zu beeinflussen.
Leider aufgrund der limitierten Zeichenanzahl nicht möglich
Ggf. Rentenalter: Land Ungarn
Hier ist zu beachten, dass das Wort “Republik” gestrichen wurde
Ungarn heißt auf Ungarisch “Magyarorszag”, also Ungarnland, durch das Streichen des Wortes “Republik” kann man es 1:1 übersetzen

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 10th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

We were informed of a Press Briefing

at the Vienna International Cenre, Thursday, September 8, 2011, 1:30 p.m. on

Adaptation to Climate Change by Spatial Planning in the Alps.

This was to be about: The main results and outcomes achieved under the CLISP Project “Adaptation to Climate Change by Spatial Planning in the Alpine area” will be discussed at the CLISP international final conference organized by the United Nations Environment Programme and the Federal Environment Agency Austria, held at the Vienna International Centre at that date – on 8 September 2011, at which the Head of the UNEP Vienna Office, Harald Egerer, stressed the importance of the particular study as a platform for the development of an integrated, transnational approach toward adaptation to impacts of climate change in the highly sensitive area of the Alps.

It also said  at the margins of the Conference, high level representatives from the European Union, the Alpine Convention and Austrian agencies will take part at the Press Briefing with the purpose of illustrating present and future strategies to tackle negative effect of climate change in the Alpine space.
Speakers include:

Rosario Bento Pais
DG Climate Action, European Commission

Andre Jol
Head of vulnerability group, European Environment Agency

Marco Onida
Secretary General, Alpine Convention

George Reberning
Managing Director, Federal Environment Agency Austria

————-

Having shown interest, later we also received a Press Release:

Climate Change Adaptation by Spatial Planning in the Alpine Space.

VIENNA, 8 September (UN Information Service) – One hundred participants from the Alpine States have gathered today at the Vienna International Centre to discuss the main results and outcomes achieved under the Adaptation to Climate Change by Spatial Planning in the Alpine Space Project (CLISP). Organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Federal Environment Agency Austria, the CLISP Final Conference was opened with a video-message from UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner.
Climate change is expected to affect spatial development in the Alpine Space, including land use, socio-economic activities and life-sustaining ecosystems services more severely than in other European regions. Temperature increase, decreasing snow cover and more severe weather extremes could cause a variety of adverse climate change impacts. Growing risks from water scarcity, heat waves and natural
hazards might threaten settlements, physical infrastructure, utilities, material assets and human lives.
Vulnerability assessment:
Funded under the EU Alpine Space Programme, the CLISP Project in its three years focused on the challenges to spatial planning in the face of climate change. The 16 CLISP partner organizations have analyzed ten Alpine model regions according to their vulnerability to climate change. Results have shown that regions, which are already sensitive to the climate extremes, are expected to be the most vulnerable regions also in the future. Even though technical measures are mostly well implemented “soft” adaptation strategies like a proper “climate-proof” spatial planning, better coordination of actions within institutions, and better risk-communication are often missing.
Climate change fitness of spatial planning systems analyzed:
The investigation of the “climate change fitness” of spatial planning systems has shown that there are already strong formal planning instruments and important informal practices at hand that could be used to respond to climate change and to coordinate cross-sectoral adaptation activities. Nevertheless, climate adaptation needs to be addressed more directly and defined as an objective of spatial planning in legislation and other frameworks.
Transnational Planning Strategy:
One of the main outcomes of the CLISP project is the Transnational Planning Strategy (TPS) that is mainly aimed at policymakers, decision-makers and political actors in spatial planning in the Alpine space as a decision-making tool for the development of suitable adaptation strategies and actions in response to climate change.
Strategic project in the field of climate change adaptation and spatial planning:
The findings of the CLISP project as well as the pan-European perspectives of climate change adaptation have been discussed with representatives from the European Commission – Directorate General for Regional Policy, Directorate General for Climate Action, the Alpine Convention, the European Environment Agency as well as with participants from other international institutions attending the CLISP final conference.
CLISP Project is a pioneering project in the field of climate change adaptation and spatial planning. Its outcomes are not only of strategic relevance for the coordinated development of climate change adaptation policies in the Alpine region, but with the support of the United Nations Environment Programme the CLISP results and experience can also be shared with other mountain regions, such as the Carpathians, Balkans and the Himalaya region.
The CLISP project can be found at www.clisp.eu
For more information please contact:

Giulia Sechi
UNEP Vienna – Interim Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention
Telephone: (+43-1) 26060 – 4454
Email: giulia.sechi[at]unvienna.org

—————————————————————

At the Press Conference there were just two journalists – myself and the Vienna editor for an industry magazine 4C, Ms. Margarette Endl who came as a guest of the organizers of what turned out to have been the “graduating” event – the release of the final documents of this stage inthe CLISP Project.

Other people in the room were part of the conference and thus asked no questions. Ms. Endl asked questions on the basis of her attendance at the morning session.
I ended up asking on the base of my general interest in the subject, and learned that since the three poles concept the subject has evolved, and I have now much more to learn about the mountain regions. As evidence of this large area – I already posted several items today based on other sources of information.

Coincidently, years ago, I was present when Ambassador Dr. Irene Freudenschuss-Reichl  introduced for Austria and UNIDO the subject of Mountain Regions to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. At the UN Mountains were always a synonym to the Himalayas like deserts, arid and semiarid lands are a synonym to Africa – but she was already then speaking about Austria and the Alps. Now the subject has evolved and we speak of regions within this large area previously included in the Alpine region.

I mentioned the three poles where the Himalayas are the third pole – and asked if we should talk now of five poles – including the Alps and the Andes – while leaving out the lesser areas like the mountains of New Zealand – because the region is rather small or Africa where the melting of the snows of Kilimanjaro has sort of eliminated the problem. I knew this was a rather provocative question and got a very good answer from Mr. Pier Carlo Sandei where he explained that the mountain regions are not just about the disappearance of the glaciers – but rather about the moving up of vegetation lines – thus a general  changing in the nature in the mountains because of Climate Change and other reasons. This is a general UNEP interest and the subject has progressed through a series of Conventions.

I stayed for the afternoon sessions that were chaired by Ms. Sabine McCallum, the department head for the subjects of Environment Impact Assessment & Climate Change of the Austrian Department of the Environment. she was actually the head of the project and her Minister – Helmut Hojesky, Federal Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment, and Water Management, was the main speaker at the High-Level Panel Discussion: “Taking action towards climate-proof spatial development – What is the way forward?”

Others on the panel were Thomas Probst, Swiss Federal Office for the Environment; Rosario Benito Pais and Jose Ruiz de Casas, both from the European Commission one from  Climate Action and the other from Regions; Andre Jol, Head of group Vulnerability and Adaptation, European Environment Agency; and Marco Onida, Secretary General of the Alpine Convention.

What happened here was that the area of the Alpine Convention has been divided into 10 regions that the study dealt with separately. It is obvious that the problems of the Swiss Alps that are dedicated mainly to tourism are very different from the problems in the newer members of the EU from the Balkans and the Carpathian regions where there are also States that do not belong to the EU altogether. The project did not just reshuffle data – but produced data and starts proposing plans of action – this being the ultimate goal of the project that after being absorbed by the States involved – will then be continued in order to come up with further plans of action.

We were told not to forget mitigation. While adaptation is a defense for the countries here – if there are no tangible results on mitigation here and elsewhere – there will be need for more adaptation in the future.

The European Commission told us that CLIMATE ACTION is now a new DG (that means a Department with Department Head and Stuff and a mandate to act). All these studies and Plans of Axtion will be under this department.

THE minister said that his people learn the Swiss and German experience – AND WE HAVE TO ADAPT TO CLIMATE CHANGE – BECAUSE IT WILL HAPPEN – WHATEVER WE DO.

UNEP declared that they are here because they want to learn from the A-B-C … the Alps, Balkans, Carpathian regions. The countries that were parts of Yugoslavia and Albania have lot of historic experience but having become independent of each other, whatever centralized poiicy there was it is now worse – there is no communication between them. Cooperation is needed and this project provides a unified platform and future regional adaptation. The Balkan region is actually a Balkan and Dinaric Arc Region that covers the Adriatic Coast.

So far as Vienna goes – as always – it finds itself in the middle – this time in the middle between the Alps and the Carpatians with the “B” region to the South.

There was the need for a Carpathian Convention in addition to the Alpine Convention. The Carpathian Convention includes The Ukraine and Serbia that are not part of the EU. 66% of the Carpathian region is still covered with forests – this provides extra-potential to preserve biodiversity, landscape and quality of air.

Pier Carlo Sandei spoke of SUSTAINABLE GROWTH in the context of the 21st Century – rather then the 20th Century. He gave me the feeling that Sustainable Growth as understood earlier is a no=no today when we must think of TRANSNATIONAL REGIONS that will aim by 2020 to be sustained by 20% Sustainable Energy.

He also used in the summary the conclusion: MITIGATION IS GLOBAL – ADAPTATION IS LOCAL & REGIONAL. One will have to look at climate costs – if you invest or you do not invest. This reminds us of the situation that compares the way industry looks at their strategy to answer CO2 emissions decrease requirements.

If you do something overseas – you get the credits and you can apply the full amount right now – but if you reduce your own emissions at home, you do not get the immediate full credit – you rather get the credit apportioned for the long range of the project – and that is what sends corporations to buy credits overseas. AHA! You Kyoto Protocol; affectionados – hear it from us = we warned you that the system never made sense!

——————————

Looking at the nice collection of material I took along – I would like to give here references for the benefit of our readers:

A – ALPINE CONVENTION, 2nd efition, January 2011, Permanent Secretariat of the Alpine Convention, Herzog-Friedrich-Strasse 15, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria with a branch office in Bolzano-Bosen, Italy.  www.alpconv.org

B – BALKAN VITAL GRAPHICS – Environment Without Borders. Published by UNEP/GRID=Arendal in 2007. It was backed by Austria and canada and was used as part of the Belgrade October 10-12, 2001 Ministerial Conference on Building Bridges To The Future Environment For Europe. It deals with mining, water and nature.

C – A COLLECTION ON THE CARPATHIAN CONVENTION, material prepared for the Second Convention of the Parties, Bucharest, June 17-19, 2008. Published in
Bolzano, Italy. www.carpathianproject.eu  —– This material was followed by the Carpathian Project headed by Mr. Harald Egerer of UNEP Vienna. www.carpathianconvention.org … Harald.Egerer@unvienna  … The Partners to the project are institutions from Austria, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Italy, Greece, Czech Republic, Germany, Romania, The Ukraine.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 19th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

WIESEL ARRANGING DURBAN III COUNTER-CONFERENCE ON SEPTEMBER 22, 2011 –  to highlight The Perils of Global Intolerance: the United Nations and Durban III”

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Holocaust survivor seeking to debunk process which critics say riddled with hatred, intolerance.
from Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post Correspondent in Berlin.
August 19, 2011.
BERLIN – The third UN-sponsored anti-racisim conference, which plans to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the 2001 anti-Israel Durban I event, will face a counter-conference in September featuring Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.
The Durban process, so named for the South African city where the first conference took place in 2001, is shrouded in controversy because the first conference singled out Israel for attacks in its political document.
The Durban conference legitimized hate speech on a global scale,” said Anne Bayefsky, director of the Touro College Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, and a principal organizer of the counter-conference. She added that the September 22 daylong conference, sponsored by the Hudson Institute and Touro College and titled “The Perils of Global Intolerance: the United Nations and Durban III”, will serve as a call to action.
“Given the events that Durban III is intended to commemorate, the UN will sadly serve as a global platform to promote the inverse of its original purposes and principles. It is imperative to deny legitimacy to prejudice and the Durban Declaration,” said Bayefsky, who is also a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and is scheduled to speak at the conference.
The COUNTER_CONFERENCE EVENT features a “who’s who” of prominent speakers from the academic, public policy, journalism, human rights, political and entertainment sectors.
In addition to Wiesel, the opposition conference has attracted speakers including: best-selling British journalist Douglas Murray, former Israeli UN Ambassador Dore Gold, former New York City Mayor Ed Koch and Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, Khaled Abu Toameh, the Jerusalem Post’s award-winning Palestinian affairs reporter, is slated to speak along with John Bolton, former US Ambassador to the UN, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and Bernard Lewis, a leading scholar on Islam and professor at Princeton University; Academy-award winning actor Jon Voight, Wafa Sultan, a psychiatrist who Time magazine named one its 100 most influential people in the world, Sudanese human rights activist Simon Deng, Ron Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, and Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, are listed as speakers as well.
Jason Kenney, Canada’s minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism, is slated to to talk at the event. Canada was the first country to pull out of Durban II and III.
“At the widely-perceived racist ‘anti-racism’ conference, the streets were filled with signs such as ‘for the liberation of Quds machine guns based on faith and Islam must be used,’ and handouts with Hitler’s photo read ‘What if I had won? The good things: there would be no Israel…,’ according to a statement from conference organizers. Durban I ended three days before 9/11 and The Durban Review Conference, or Durban II, was held in Geneva in 2009. The only world leader to attend was Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”
At that conference, Ahmadinejad denied the Holocaust and proclaimed the Jewish state “illegitimate” and “criminal.”
He called for the obliteration of Israel and Zionism, declaring, “Governments must be encouraged and supported in their fights at eradicating this barbaric racism. Efforts must be made to put an end to Zionism.”
Ahmadinejad used the UN stage to voice, according to critics, his oft-repeated form of Holocaust denial, saying that Israel was “created on the pretext of Jewish suffering from World War II.”
Six countries from the UN’s 193 member nations have pulled out of Durban III – these are:
the US, Canada, Italy, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Israel.
Though Germany stresses that Israel’s security interests are integral to its national security, Germany’s Foreign Ministry is slated to attend the event.
“Germany’s behavior toward the UN’s Durban III conference raises serious questions about its commitment to combat modern anti-Semitism. As an event which will commemorate the hatefest held in Durban in 2001, and its Durban Declaration, which singles out only one country on Earth – the Jewish state – it is shocking that Germany has not refused unequivocally to withdraw in solidarity with Israel, the United States, Canada, Italy and other European nations,” Bayefsky said.
============

And in Vienna Israel will face fresh Arab pressure at UN atom meet of the IAEA September 19-23, 2011.

This from a Reuters report from Vienna by Frederik Dahl.

Arab states are expected to target Israel over its assumed atomic arsenal at a UN nuclear agency meeting next month, despite Western concerns this may undermine broader steps to ban such weapons in the Middle East.

It is unclear whether the International Atomic Energy Agency’s annual member state gathering would back the move after it last year narrowly rejected an Arab resolution calling on Israel to join a global anti-nuclear weapons treaty.

As in the run-up to the IAEA’s General Conference in 2010, the United States and other Western countries are trying to persuade Arab members of the Vienna-based agency not to put forward a similar text singling out the Jewish state.

“I think they (Arab governments) regard it as a matter of principle even if it is defeated. I would be surprised if it won this year,” one European diplomat said.

Last year, US officials warned that zeroing in on Israel, widely believed to be the region’s only nuclear power, could jeopardize an Egyptian-proposed conference in 2012 to discuss creating a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.

It may also cast a shadow over plans by IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano to invite both Israel and Arab states to a forum later this year to debate the experience of other regions where nuclear-weapons-free zones have been established.

Vienna-based diplomats said they believed Israel may attend those discussions, expected to be held in November in Vienna and seen as a way to help build confidence.

But any resolution aimed against the country at the September 19-23 conference of the IAEA’s 151 member states could harm prospects for the forum, they said.

Israel has never confirmed or denied having atom bombs under a policy of ambiguity to deter numerically superior foes. It is the only country in the region outside the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Arab states backed by Iran say this poses a threat to peace and stability. They want Israel to subject all its atomic facilities to IAEA monitoring.

Israel says it would only join the pact if there is a comprehensive Middle East peace. If it signed the NPT, Israel would have to renounce nuclear weaponry.

The United States and Israel regard Iran as the Middle East’s main proliferation threat. Tehran says its nuclear program is for power generation purposes only.

In 2009, IAEA member states approved in a close vote an Arab-proposed resolution expressing concern at “Israel’s Nuclear Capabilities.”

Brought up again last year, the symbolically important, although non-binding, resolution was defeated at the conference after a bruising diplomatic battle. But Arab states have already served notice they will try again this year.

“It is the same thing as last year … they will table a resolution, the question is whether they will bring it to a vote,” one senior Western diplomat said.

In a request for the issue to be included in the agenda, the 17-nation Arab group said the IAEA’s General Conference “must take appropriate measures to ensure that Israel places all its nuclear installations under Agency safeguards and accedes to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 17th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

After the first week-end of July, with school having closed for 9 weeks, you see also many of the smaller businesses, and the major palaces of art closing for vacation, and families leave town to go to some summer retreat or plain travel. But do not worry – Vienna does not fall asleep – instead it is invaded by guests, students, and just tourists.

Instead of the usual indigenous Opera, Philharmonic orchestra, and theaters, all sort of art-groups from abroad come as part of orchestrated guest programs that the city is very well trained by now to organize. this does not only enrich the horizons of those from the locals who remain in the city, but also provides for the entertainment of the tourists and guests – after all – hospitality makes for a serious part of the Vienna economy.

Also, City Hall gets involved in setting up non-competing special festivals in public places. Let me move now to examples of what one could have done this past week-end.

For instance, as part of “Summerstage” – defined as Wine (culture) Festival – a series of well structured booth have been set up on Rossauer Laende on the Danube Canal. I suspect that this is a yearly event so everyone involved knows his place from last year. The wine part is obvious, and supplied by known Austrian vintners who also own “Hoerigen” houses. The food part is in the hands of selected – one of a kind – restaurants of the Vienna 9th District: Mortons Bar & Grill where this Saturday I had a lamb knuckle with a decent Riesling wine;  Charlies Ps – “Fish & Chips and homemade Pommes;”  Pancho und mas! – the Mexican place; Echo – the City Thai; Pizzeria Riva true Neapoli food;  and Casa Caribena – the Caribbean place where on Friday I had just some garlic toast with Austrian beer. In addition there is also the Viennese Pavilion where theoretically, if you order in advance at particular dates, you get expensive dinners delivered from the wine houses – but that does not happen in reality because of the fact that the mostly foreigners that come there at night just do not bother making plans in advance – so, on Saturday, there was not a single meal served under above plan. But no worry, sitting outdoors in good weather along the Canal is well spent time. Now to the Culture part – on Sundays – there are readings at the Pavilion by some of Austria’s best present writers.

On the culture side – Vienna, with its theaters abandoned for the summer by their lawful residents, the theaters are available to foreign troops – so I partook from this richess by going to see two unusual dance evenings.

Friday night, in the beautiful building of the Volkstheater, next to the Museum Quarter, I saw the Eduard Lock troupe “La La La Human Steps.” This is an amazing Montreal Canadian group that uses ballet dancing on toes with completely new way of moving the hands. I was watching with amazement fascinated by the movements and lighting – the four levels of the packed theater  so there was not any standing room left.

The audience was in its majority English speaking and I wondered where did all these folks come from? Yes, Vienna has a large expatriate community that swells in the summer with further influx of young tourists. The show must have been sold out for a while, but seats became available as some of those ticket holders did not show up to pick them up. The  musical accompaniment was by a band of four classical instruments on stage – at times part of the scene of the dance.

I will acknowledge that I was not really up to the very complicated text the dancing was about. This was a two track performance in which one track dealt with “Dido and Aeneas” while the other track with “Orpheus and Eurydice” – twice the young lady and the older lady appeared on two huge screens above the dancers – being there together but not really looking at each other – though – with sort of Mona Lisa smiles – telling us they understand each other. This tremendous image became even more a put-down to me and told me that had I known what I will be seeing I would have done some refresher reading of those two classic love stories, and the operas that were created by Purcell and Gluck. In retrospect now I see that it was not just the richness of the movements, but also the clever retelling of the stories that I should have been able to grasp – this said – I will just add that it is not an evening I will forget.

—–

The dance series of Vienna summer 2011 started actually on Wednesday July 13th with a free performance of the Terrence Lewis Contemporary Dance Company based in Mumbai (Bombay), India with their “Jhoom” in Bolywood style. That is clear joy to the eyes and you really do not have to worry not knowing the stories of the Indian deities that are painted over the image they have of Holywood entertainment.

—–

Sunday night, again, there was something else. This time it was the Belgian Jan Fabre who brought to Vienna his somewhat morbid “Preparatio Mortis” which I saw at the Odeon theater, and the Prometheus – Landscape II,” that will be performed at the Volstheater on Tuesday July 19th.

Fabre has the vision that death gives us better understanding of life – so we saw a one woman show of a sort of return to life. Annabelle Chambon, who trained and got started in Lyon, starts to move from under a carpet of flowers after quite a while of musical preparation, Eventually there is ahand sticking out, then another, a head and legs. We get a a naked  body coming back to life, After a while she retreats to her original place.

Fabre works in many different forms of art – not just dance. in effect he is the only contemporary artist who was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Parisian louvre (2008). It was titled Angel of Methamorphosis.

In dance he works now in choreography  with the Troubleyn/Jan Fabre  troupe.

—–

As I said at the beginning – some summer activities in Vienna are very well planned ahead with the help of City Hall that does not forget for a minute that their city has to sell itself to visitors in order to support the city economy. But then other things happen that work in the same direction even they were not planned by City Hall. This Saturday this was no less then the event that put to final rest the Habsburgs Empire.

This was the funeral of Otto Habsburg – the last Crown Prince of the Habsburgs family. It was a State Funeral in all but name. The Monarchs of Europe were represented by the reigning heads of Sweden, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein, and as well by the last Kings of Rumania and Bulgaria. Austria was there in the presence of President, Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, half of the Cabinet etc. As well there were at the funeral the Presidents of Croatia and Georgia, Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers and others from many of the various parts of the Empire – States that having become independent – form now a major part of the EU or are listed to join the EU eventually. Just think for a moment – Otto Von Habsburg as he was once called, in his years since exile from Austria and becoming citizen of Germany with residence in Bavaria, he was a Member of the European Parliament, and one of the movers to strengthen the Union and expand it to the East and South – thus making what his family’s Empire once was – a main ingredient of the Europe of the future. The Austrian Government, not afraid anymore by a revival of Monarchism in Austria – the last time a party that tried this got just 1.5% of the vote –  is allowing since last year the Habsburgs to run for political office in Austria. For those that watched on TV, at least part of the 6 hour long program – this was also part of a summer week end.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 3rd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Poland takes over EU presidency can it help save the EU from its Member States?
Poland takes over first day July for the second half of 2011 the rotating EU presidency. Poland is one of the largest EU Member States and should be seen at par with Germany, France and the UK in the leadership of the Union – but Poland has a very hurting history – it was the historic sacrificial lamb when Western Europe tried to talk to Russia – it always dealt with the partition of Poland. Today Poland, basically still an agricultural State, is still on an industrialization path that plays very well with the potential for strengthening the EU economy.
-|
Warsaw wants to work towards solving the debt crisis/€ crisis. Focal points of its EU Presidency Half-Year will be energy security, the security and defense policy of the EU, and the deepening of economic ties within the EU and with the neighboring states of the European Union. Prime Minister Donald Tusk is strongly opposed to a return to nationalism.
The Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk wants his country to be the driving force of the EU – He also opposes a return to nationalism and national thinking. Given the debt crisis in Euro-countries Poland tries to work on a solution, although it is not a member of the Euro zone. Having been on the East side in the European divide and still on the East frontier, Poland understands well the importance of a strong EU.
Focal points of the Presidency will be energy security, the security and defense policy of the EU, and the deepening of economic ties within the EU and with the neighboring states of the European Union. Also it can be expected that Poland will be closer to working with the US then some of the other EU leaders. Moreover, there will be a new focus on growth and EU enlargement. The way to achieve this will be to complete the internal market arrangements, especially in services and Internet commerce, says the Polish government.
Poland takes over the EU Presidency from Hungary – Thus for the first time in the same year, two new EU Member Countries (one considered small and the other large) are holding the rotating presidency.
===============================================================

Poland takes over EU presidency can it help save the EU from its Member States? From Poland itself?

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

Polish minister pledges loyalty to EU’s Ashton.

by ANDREW RETTMAN, 02.07.2011

EUOBSERVER / WARSAW – Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski has promised to be EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton’s “loyal deputy.” But his outspoken ways could upstage her despite his best intentions.

Sikorski made the pledge at a press briefing in Warsaw on Friday (1 July) as Poland took over the rotating EU presidency.

Sikorski and Ashton in Brussels:  Who will stand out as the top EU personality on foreign affairs in the next six months?

Under the Lisbon Treaty, Ashton became the official figurehead for EU foreign policy. But she has found it hard to assert her role as big EU countries take the lead on major developments such as Libya and amid grumbling that she is not cut out for the job.

Sikorski in deference to Ashton on Friday declined to say if Poland would back the Palestinians if they apply for UN membership in September. “We [EU foreign ministers] have agreed to withhold our national positions to help Cathy Ashton reach a consensus. There is a need for the EU to speak on this with one voice,” he said.

He also defended her against criticism that she is not active enough.

“She has an impossible portfolio. She has taken over the portfolios of two previous commissioners. She’s trying to co-ordinate the positions of 27 countries on difficult issues such as the Middle East and she is trying to create her own ministry from scratch. On any given day, she should be in five places at once.”

His deputised tasks are to include a trip in Ashton’s name to Afghanistan and India. He will also help her put together EU aid for post-war governance in Libya and new ways of funding NGOs in repressive countries.

Minor tension has already emerged on the Middle East, however.

An EU diplomatic source said Ashton asked Poland not to call an informal EU foreign ministers’ meeting in September in case ministers go off message on the Palestine question at a sensitive moment. But Poland called the meeting anyway, to take place one week before the UN event.

Meanwhile, Ashton’s cautious approach to media could see the more flamboyant Polish minister put her in the shade over the next six months.

Reacting to press questions about Libya and Belarus on Friday, Sikorski could not resist making risque jokes.

On whether Colonel Gaddafi should step down, Sikorski said: “If he were to ask for transit over Polish territory to seek asylum in Belarus, we would be helpful … I think he [Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko] and Gaddafi would get on like a house on fire.”

With Ashton’s attention on the Middle East, Poland is also likely to play a leading role on EU relations with post-Soviet countries.

Ukraine’s EU ambassador recently complained that he has been asking Ashton to come to Kiev for the past year to no avail. When asked by EUobserver about prospects for ending the frozen conflict in EU-aspirant Moldova, a diplomat in Ashton’s service said: “Frankly, we don’t care.”

For his part, Sikorski on Friday noted that the Polish presidency is looking to clinch an EU association pact with Ukraine and to make progress on a similar deal with Molodva as two top priorities.

He also made clear that Poland wants to make a historic mark on EU affairs during its six-month tenure.

Looking to plans to sign an accession treaty with Croatia in autumn, the minister said: “The options [for a venue for the treaty ceremony] are Brussels, Warsaw and Zagreb. We like Croatia but we wouldn’t mind the accession treaty for Croatia being known as the Warsaw Treaty.”

————————————————————————-

AND WHAT ABOUT POLAND HEADING THE EU AT A TIME THERE IS A NEED TO DEFEND THE EU FROM THE EURO CRISIS AND POLAND IS NOT A MEMBER OF THE EUROZONE? HOW WILL THIS WORK OUT IN WHAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE A UNION BETWEEN EUROZONE STATES AND THOSE THAT HVE NOT OPTED YET FOR THE EURO?

Poland takes part in eurozone meeting amid worry ‘if it’s safe to join’ – 03.07.2011
—————————————————————————-
Non-eurozone country Poland has managed to get into what is normally an
exclusive meeting of euro-using finance ministers, as Warsaw wonders “if
it’s safe to join.”

euobserver.com/9/32581/?rk=1

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 9th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)




The two days Vienna Europe to the Caucasus and Central Asia World Economic Forum, that opened officially Wednesday June 8th, discussed Energy and the Arab Spring.

Chancellor Faymann (SPÖ) of Austria, the host of the Forum,  stressed especially the importance of the Nabucco gas pipeline that goes through Turkey for gas originating in Central Asia.

Austrian  Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger (ÖVP), who is in the middle of a spat with Turkey because of their rejection of an Austrian candidate for the post of Secretary General of the OSCE –  former Foreign Minister, and member of the same party, Ms. Ursula Plassnik, –  said that Europe and the Eurasian space would have much to offer each other.

The Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva, whose sister I was told is married to the Austrian Ambassador to China, said her country was a model for the “Arab Spring.” Roza Otunbayeva was one of the leaders of the “Tulip Revolution” of March 2005 that is credited with the start of democratization in her country. President Otunbayeva spoke already on Tuesday evening at the Bruno Kreisky Forum for International events. Her topic was – KYRGYZSTAN ON ITS WAY  TO FREEDOM OF DEMOCRACY.

(Just watch here please that it goes in stages and it is not a smooth transition – do not expect miracles in the short term – this is our own comment – in the meantime the world will rather be interested in the region’s oil.)

 www.davienna.ac.at/jart/prj3/dipl…

Chancellor Faymann stressed the need for “stable and secure energy supply” and praised the growing cooperation between Europe and the States in the Caucasus and Central Asia. He stressed the importance of the Austrian oil company –  the OMV – for responsible planning the Nabucco gas pipeline to “stabilize the European gas supply, and relations between Europe and Central Asia and the Black Sea region, strengthened thereoff”.

He was seconded on energy import by On Ukraine President Mykola Azarov who criticized the Russian energy policy. The energy dependence of Ukraine on Russia was “not good”, as the oil and gas prices, the Russian government-related utilities are not “what we consider to be optimal. Therefore Kiev cooperation projects with Azerbaijan and other countries have been addressed.”

Austrian Federal President Hans Fischer spoke of the need for social impact of economic transformations in post-Soviet  States. Spindelegger said that the Central Asian region will continue with its wealth of resources to a new focus of the global economy – Austria can offer to these countries innovative products, he said. “If we find ways to increase cooperation, the conference will have been successful.”

Otunbayeva, who on her trip to Vienna also stopped in Budapest, expressed the hope that Central Asia in the future will get more attention in the West. She passed out in her speech, the political foundations for economic development. The downfall of the autocrat Kurmanbek Bakiyev in early 2010 had mapped out the current revolutions in the Arab world. “We could no longer afford the corrupt regime,” she said.

CEOs and Muslim economists called on Europe to support the current upheavals in the region, but sounded caution. The Dubai economist Tarik Yousef L. lamented that Europe in recent years rehabilitated the Libyan regime of Muammar al-Gaddafi. He spoke of European “guilt” because of the slow reaction to the upheavals in Egypt and Tunisia that should help these countries now. From the Central Bank of Tunisia Mustapha Kamel Nabli – the governor –  demanded above all, a closer cooperation with Europe in migration. Europe must assume a share of the costs incurred by the flow of refugees, he said. The Bahraini banker Khalid Abdullah-Janahi, said about Egypt that the Muslim Brotherhood will continue to take the central role. They would get from the upcoming legislative choice between 40 and 50 percent of the vote, he said.

The Kazakh Vice Premier Yerbol Orynbayev and Turkmenistan’s Deputy Prime Minister Akylbek Japarov stressed the need for economic development “to solve their common problems” – such as in the fight against drug crime and poverty. “Poverty is a problem that not all states in the region are equally capable of solving” said Orynbayev. The Turkmenistan speaker Japarov spoke of his country’s economic aid for the unstable neighbors like Afghanistan. Turkmenistan Oil prices were discounted to them. “This contributes to the development of the country and thus to peace in the region,” said Japarov.

Chancellor Faymann met on the margins of the WEF yesterday with six heads of state and government for bilateral talks.

Emphasis during the discussions with the Heads of State of Hungary (Viktor Orban), Armenia (Tigran Sarkisian), Montenegro (Igor Luksic), Ukraine (Azarov) and Georgia (Nikoloz Gilauri) and with Otumbajewa, was the energy policy and EU issues. Faymann confirmed its rejection of the nuclear power policy and referred to his meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister. “Premier Azarov has invited me to the Ukraine to show me the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster from today’s perspective may have been his words -” This has to be seen with my own eyes. “

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 2nd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 From Anne Bayefsky
info@EYEontheUN.org

New York, April 2, 2011
Syria, the U.N. “Human Rights” Council,  and the Obama Administration.

This article by Anne Bayefsky appears today on The Weekly Standard.

The Obama administration’s effort to draw an artificial distinction between the butchers in Damascus and the gangsters in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, has taken a bizarre twist: Syria is seeking a seat on the U.N.’s top human rights body, the Human Rights Council. And, as part of the process leading up to the May 20, 2011 elections, the U.N. published a Syria’s “pledge” to protect human rights on Thursday. (that is March 30, 2011 – while the news were full of Syria represing its citizens who call out for democracy – is the whole decent world crazy or folks at the UN and in Washington are plain fakes? That seems to us the real question – the editor of www.SustainabiliTank.info)

For context, this is the same pledge system that Muammar Qaddafi’s regime used to get a seat on the Council last May. Rather than refusing to legitimize a scheme that makes a mockery of the institution, the Obama administration announced hours before that it has decided to seek a second term on the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The announcement comes a whopping 14 months before the U.S. term on the Council expires, making the declaration totally unnecessary to guarantee American reelection. Instead, it seems, President Obama aims to preempt mounting criticism of his decision to participate, as well as to minimize the serious menace posed by Syria’s ambitions. The move comes at precisely the wrong moment in time.

The Council was created in 2006 without any criteria for membership. The only advice given to the General Assembly says that, when electing Council members, states should “take into account the contribution of candidates to the promotion and protection of human rights and their voluntary pledges and commitments made thereto.” Hence, Syria produced a pledge.

Notwithstanding the current bloody campaign by Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad to annihilate democracy-seekers, the Syrian pledge says: “Promotion and protection of human rights are of highest importance to Syria…Syria’s candidature to the Human Rights Council signifies its commitment to respect and to support the inalienable and indivisible nature of all human rights.”

The State Department’s most recent annual report on Syria describes the situation somewhat differently. It recounts that Syrian security forces “continue to use torture frequently” and describes in gruesome detail exactly which body parts Assad’s henchmen routinely mutilate, and how.

Undaunted, Syria’s pledge continues: “Syria believes that its membership on the Human Rights Council would contribute towards enriching the quality of dialogue…aimed at the promotion and protection of human rights for all peoples.” What this means is a bit of a mystery. But perhaps this example of Syrian dialogue, from a June 8, 2010 speech at the Council, might be what the Assad regime has in mind. “This is a state that is built on hatred,” a Syrian diplomat told the Council. “Let me quote a song that children on a school bus in Israel sing merrily as they go to school and I quote ‘with my teeth I will rip your flesh with my mouth I will suck your blood.’”

Syria’s pledge is accurate on one count, though. It says: “Syria believes that its membership…would contribute to accomplish the objectives of the Council.”  Since the Council systematically demonizes Israel – the Council has adopted the same number of resolutions and decisions condemning Israel as the rest of the 191 UN countries combined – Syria’s assistance is assured.

The pledge is expected to guarantee Syria a seat on the Council because its candidacy is currently part of a fixed slate. To date, the Asian group of states have put forward exactly the same number of candidates as the spaces they have been allotted. The same gimmick by the African group last May succeeded in electing Libya, after Qaddafi pledged: “the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya is fully committed to the promotion and protection of human rights principles.” 82 percent of the U.N. General Assembly thought that was good enough to welcome Libya aboard the U.N.’s idea of a human rights agency.

Why, then, does President Obama share Syrian and Libyan enthusiasm for the Council? This week’s announcement that his administration wants a second term was accompanied by a list of responses to this question, each more specious than the next.

The justifications include: “The Council took bold, assertive action to highlight Iran’s deteriorating human rights situation.” That “bold” step consisted of a resolution appointing one individual to “investigate” Iran’s human rights violations and report back to the Council a year from now.

Then the administration pointed to “efforts to renew the mandate of the independent expert tasked with monitoring human rights throughout Sudan.” It neglects to mention, however, that the mandate was renewed only after excising all criticism of the government of  Sudan from the Council resolution and substituting such praise as: “recognizing…the efforts of the government of the Sudan in the promotion and protection of human rights.”

The U.S. list also emphasizes the president’s “pivotal role” in suspending Libyan membership from the Council. This “success” (which should never have been necessary to begin with), somehow overlooks the fact that human rights paragons and Council members like Saudi Arabia and China remain comfortably in place.

Then there is the stunning misrepresentation of “a strong statement on LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] rights” from “a group of 85 countries,” that the Obama team heralds as a “landmark moment” for the U.N. Joined by less than half of U.N. members, a mere statement carries with it no practical consequences. And just two days later, the Council adopted a contrary resolution over the wishes of the same coalition. When the resolution on “traditional values of humankind” was passed, the American delegate specifically lamented that it “undermine[d]…the rights of…LGBT individuals.”

The administration even claims to have “end[ed] the divisive debate over the highly problematic concept of ‘defamation of religions.’” But the resolution ( by the UN Council on Human Rights  – Our Comment) on religion which was adopted specifically cites as a role model a “speech given by Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu,” delivered on September 16, 2010. In that same speech, not only did Ihsanoglu refer to the defamation of religions, he declared that Islamic law trumps human rights. In his words: “the holy Quran…places a premium on human dignity — a concept that transcends human rights. Furthermore, a December 2010 resolution of the General Assembly necessitates that a report on the “defamation of religions” be completed by the fall. Making reports of its demise premature, to say the least.

Overall, U.S. membership on the Council has been so “successful” that, at its latest session, the U.S. lost eleven of the fourteen votes held.

Most significantly, the session marked the end of the Council’s own five-year review. The administration billed membership as the golden ticket for ensuring reform “from within.” As it turned out, every serious recommendation that the Obama administration put forward on reform (39 of 42) was firmly rejected, ensuring nothing but more of the same in the years ahead.

We are left with the troubling reality that both Assad and Obama are enchanted with the same U.N. Human Rights Council, to the detriment of human rights victims in Syria and around the world (writes Anne Bayefsky and she has made some points in which she discredited the whole UN system – really not just the Washington Administration. Where is the EU? Where are the African States? Where are all those despots that do or do not own oil wells? Those are Our Comments)

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

Membership of the Human Rights Council

Officers of the Human Rights Council

President
H.E. Mr. Sihasak Phuangketkeow (Thailand) (Biography)

Vice President and Rapporteur
H.E. Madam Bente Angell-Hansen (Norway)

Vice Presidents
H.E. Mr. Arcanjo Maria Do Nascimento (Angola)
H.E. Mr. Rodolfo Reyes Rodríguez (Cuba)
H.E. Mr. Fedor Rosocha (Slovakia)

Membership of the Human Rights Council 19 June 2010-18 June 2011

  • by regional groups
  • by yearCountry and year when current mandate ends.
    We noted in red countries where citizens are fighting now the government for their human rights. It seems to us that membership on the Council is tantamount to the perception of outside legitimization of the ongoing repression. That is the essence of beef that Anne Bayefsky holds against President Obama. The question is if he is better off fighting repression from inside the Council or deligitimizing the Council by staying out of it. We have no answer but we think that it is all of the UN system – its voting by regions – is what deserves deligitimization by countries that allow for democracy. It is the UN as such that does not reside in Hall of Democracy and that deserves attention five times every day.
Angola 2013
Argentina 2011
Bahrain 2011
Bangladesh 2012
Belgium 2012
Brazil 2011
Burkina Faso 2011
Cameroon 2012
Chile 2011
China 2012
Cuba 2012
Djibouti 2012
Ecuador 2013
France 2011
Gabon 2011
Ghana 2011
Guatemala 2013
Hungary 2012
Japan 2011
Jordan 2012
Kyrgyzstan 2012
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya * 2013
Malaysia 2013
Maldives 2013
Mauritania 2013
Mauritius 2012
Mexico 2012
Nigeria 2012
Norway 2012
Pakistan 2011
Poland 2013
Qatar 2013
Republic of Korea 2011
Republic of Moldova 2013
Russian Federation 2012
Saudi Arabia 2012
Senegal 2012
Slovakia 2011
Spain 2013
Switzerland 2013
Thailand 2013
Uganda 2013
Ukraine 2011
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 2011
United States of America 2012
Uruguay 2012
Zambia 2011

________________________
* Libya – Suspended by General Assembly Resolution A/65/265 adopted on 1 March 2011.

======================================
The election of 15 members of the Human Rights Council will be held on 20 May 2011.

See List of candidates | List of current members

In accordance with paragraph 7 of General Assembly resolution 60/251 the Council shall consist of 47 Member States, which shall be elected directly and individually by secret ballot by the majority of the members of the General Assembly.

The membership shall be based on equitable geographical distribution, and seats shall be distributed as follows among regional groups:

  • Group of African States (13)
  • Group of Asian States (13)
  • Group of Eastern European States (6)
  • Group of Latin American and Caribbean States (8)
  • Group of Western European and other States (7)

The members of the Council shall serve for a period of three years and shall not be eligible for immediate re-election after two consecutive terms.

Member States who have chosen to announce their candidacies in writing are listed below. Voluntary pledges that Member States have chosen to provide in support of their respective candidacies, in accordance with paragraph 8 of General Assembly resolution 60/251, are issued as General Assembly documents in all official languages.

List of candidates

Click on country name below for additional information on candidature.

African States
(4 vacant seats)
Asian States
(4 vacant seats)
Eastern European States
(2 vacant seats)
Latin American & Caribbean States
(3 vacant seats)
Western European & other States
(2 vacant seats)
Benin India
[A/65/758]
Czech Republic
[A/65/757]
Chile
[A/65/730]
Austria
[A/65/781]
Botswana [A/65/732] Indonesia Georgia Costa Rica Italy
[A/65/733]
Burkina Faso Philippines
[A/65/790]
Romania
[A/65/794]
Nicaragua  
Congo
[A/65/787]
Syrian Arab Republic
[A/65/784]
  Peru  

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

List of current members

Members outlined in bold will retire on 18 June 2011.

African States Asian States Eastern European States Latin American &
Caribbean States 
Western European
& other States
Angola 2013 Bahrain 2011 Hungary 2012 Argentina 2011 Belgium 2012
Burkina Faso 2011 Bangladesh 2012 Poland 2013 Brazil 2011 France 2011
Cameroon 2012 China 2012 Republic of Moldova 2013 Chile 2011 Norway 2012
Djibouti 2012 Japan 2011 Russian Federation 2012 Cuba 2012 Spain 2013
Gabon 2011 Jordan 2012 Slovakia 2011 Ecuador 2013 Switzerland 2013
Ghana 2011 Kyrgyzstan 2012 Ukraine 2011 Guatemala 2013 United Kingdom 2011
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya 2013 Malaysia 2013   Mexico 2012 United States 2012
Mauritania 2013 Maldives 2013   Uruguay 2012  
Mauritius 2012 Pakistan 2011      
Nigeria 2012 Qatar 2013      
Senegal 2012 Repulic of Korea 2011      
Uganda 2013 Saudi Arabia
2012
     
Zambia 2011 Thailand 2013      

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

Austria is a candidate for the Council on the Europe and “Other States – like the US” UN ticket. We find thus quite interesting that the Salzburg Festival 2011 has cancelled the opening speech by Swiss Diplomat Jean Ziegler who represented the worst of the UN Human Rights Council. His replacement by the musical genius Daniel Barenboim is really not just an accnowledgement of his musical tallents, but also of his humanitarian activities that outshine everything that the Council was intended to be.We hope that those interested to find out more about this will follow our links. Just see some points in the remnant of this posting – please:

“UN Watch has assembled a cross-regional coalition of 45 human rights groups who will be officially demanding that the U.N. Human Rights Council fire its long-time official, ” said Neuer. “Tragically, Ziegler is not a bureaucratic anomaly or a tolerated annoyance at the council — he is the product and embodiment of a distinct political culture, where abusers like China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia get to judge others on human rights, and where murderers like Syria’s Assad get a free pass.”

Victory: Salzburg Festival cancels on U.N. rights official Jean Ziegler over Qaddafi ties.

Opening Speech and Concert of the Salzburg Festival

Barenboim will deliver the opening speech of the Salzburg Festival this year on July 26th. Previous opening speakers have included George Steiner, Václav Havel, Christoph Ransmayr, and most recently Daniel Kehlmann in 2009. On the same evening, Barenboim will conduct and perform with the Vienna Philharmonic in a program that includes Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto, Boulez’s Notations, and Bruckner’s Te Deum. Click here for exact program details.

please see also: www.danielbarenboim.com/index.php?id=9

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 28th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 In the key state of Baden-Wuerttemberg the anti-nuclear Green party more than doubled their vote to 24.2 percent, allowing them to capture the state’s presidency when combined with Social Democrat allies who garnered 23.1 percent.

CDU’s share of the vote slumped from 44.2 percent in the 2006 state election to 39 percent, according to official figures. The Christian Democrats have held power in the state for almost six decades. The outgoing governor, Stefan Mappus, was a strong advocate of nuclear energy.

“This is a day that has strongly changed the political landscape in Germany,” Green party chairwoman Claudia Roth said in Berlin. 

The outcome of Sunday’s (27 March) election is seen as an important setback for Merkel, whose attempts to stop political contamination from Japan’s nuclear accident appear to have failed.

Directly after news of damage to Japan’s Fukushima nuclear reactor emerged, the chancellor temporarily suspended production at seven of Germany’s oldest reactors among its 17 nuclear plants. The move was seen by a generally nuclear-sceptic public as electioneering. The switch just did not help and brought about deep mistrust.

Sunday’s vote in the wealthy south-western state of 11 million people followed demonstrations in various German cities over the weekend, with roughly 200,000 people calling for the permanent closure of all reactors at the country’s 17 nuclear plants.

Germany’s Green party also did well in concurrent elections in the Rhineland-Palatinate state, where the ruling Social Democrats will now need them as coalition partners.

The country’s Liberal party (FDP) led by foreign minister Guido Westerwelle, CDU coalition partners, were the seen as the weekend’s big losers in both polls.

EU leaders on Friday agreed to stress test the bloc’s 140-plus nuclear plants, but despite moves in Germany many countries including France and the Czech Republic have shown little appetite for a reduction in their nuclear energy use.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s centre-right UMP party also suffered considerable losses during the second round of French local elections over the weekend, the last direct voting before presidential elections next May.

Opposition Socialists emerged as the main winners of the local elections, securing roughly 35 percent of the vote.

———————-

In Austria, Kanzler Faymann of the Austrian Socialist Party (the SPÖ) is expressing his happiness with this week-end’s election results. After all, just last week it turned out that the Former Kanzler Mr. Schuessel is on a yearly retainer of 200.00 EURO from the German biggest nuclear company RWE. – this while the Austrian Environment Minister Niki Berlakovich proposed stress tests for all EU nuclear plants. How will Mr. Schuessel react if an RWE reactor fails the Berlakovich stress test?

But we do not stop at this as we must remark that Austria draws electricity from the Verbund network that includes nuclear plants outside Austria. To us this means that despite the positioneering – Austria is not really nuclear free. Will there be now young people in Vienna, like those in Germany, to protest publicly against all EU nuclear plants?

Will other politicians in the EU learn from the debacle that has befallen Ms. Angela Merkel, the German Kanzler? It seems that the pro-nuclear stand she had just two months ago may now lead to her political demise, and Germany is watching how a chemistry teacher, Winfried Kretschmann, replaces the pro-nuclear Prime Minister Stefan Mappus of that 11 million people State of Baden-Württemberg where the right of center CDU was in power for 58 years.

The Japan disaster has brought so far the Green Party for the first time in German history to head a Prime Minister’s cabinet, and they will be in the rulling coalition in two German States – also in the industrial State of Rheinland-Pfalz. The lack of trust in the honesty of their leaders, as evidenced in nuclear policy issues,  will probably lead to similar results in future elections.

3/11 has the potential of becoming a date to remember as 9/11 is. Then we learned to live with terrorism, now we may have to start to learn to live without nuclear power – or without the security we felt from believing in a life based on unsustainable energy – call it the assumed right to waste energy.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 18th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

From Hiroshima 1945 to Fukushima 2011 – it is “Cukooshima!”

Let me start by saying that this posting is not an expression of any arrow shooting at Japanese that acted for all those years against their best interests. Yes – but sorry – it was Cukoo.

It all started with Japan believing it can stop US expansion in East Asia, and Japan picking the losing side in WWII. This led to the dropping of two nuclear bombs over Japan. Then Japan decided to compete with the US economy and went the way of nuclear energy for peaceful use. Now we see that this was as disastrous as their first encounter with nuclear technology – but this time by their own choice.

We love Japan. For one – I spent three weeks in Kyoto in 1997 with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting that gave birth to the failed Kyoto Protocol. At that time I got to know the Kyoto – Nara – Osaka triangle. But this was not my only encounter with the Japanese. In effect, with my family, we spent two weeks staying with Japanese in their homes thanks to the Ryokan hospitality system, and we exchanged our time-share at the Krystal Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, for a week at the Resorpia Hakone Japanese Business Class Resort at Hakone, at the foot of the Fiji Mountain. We got to know two different levels which sandwich the Japanese society.

With this said – let me add that I write now from Vienna and that the Austrian people have voted down the opening of an atomic plant as they understood the terrible danger of living with an atomic monster-plant in your backyard. Austria has not even one nuclear plant but gets part of its electricity from the European grid that includes nuclear plants. The Austrians are thus not clean of nuclear energy either – this unless they disengage from the European grid and run their own separate grid for which they have enough hydro-power to provide over 80% of electricity need and could easily supply the remaining part with biomass, biofuels, solar and wind energy. Clearly no real need for nuclear power and the possibility to achieve this without empty posturing based on the truth that once in the past they voted down the opening of the Zwentendorf nuclear plant.

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The Donella Meadows Archive – Voice of a Global Citizen – wrote:
Zwentendorf, a Nuclear Plant That Will Never Be Turned on.

On the bank of the Danube 20 miles northwest of Vienna stands a
completed nuclear power plant, loaded with fuel, ready to start up. It
has stood there, just so, for 9 years, while the Austrians argue about
what to do with it. The most popular plan is to turn it into a museum
for obsolete technology.

The plant, called Zwentendorf, was intended to be the first of six
Austrian nuclear plants. It was begun in 1970 and completed in 1978 at
a cost of 8 billion Austrian schillings — at present value about a
billion dollars. It is rated at 700 megawatts, about two-thirds the
size of Seabrook and Shoreham, two American nuclear plants that are
also ready to go and hotly contested.

“When Zwentendorf began, we didn’t know anything,” an Austrian
environmentalist told me. “Nuclear power sounded better to us than a
coal plant or another hydropower dam on the Danube. If only we had
known then what we know now.”

They know now that two of the four German plants with the same design
as Zwentendorf have been shut down permanently by mechanical problems.
They know now that Zwentendorf is located squarely on an earthquake
fault zone. And during a Danube flood, water seeped into its
containment vessel, so now they know that the groundwater is not
protected from contamination in case of a meltdown.

Furthermore Austria, like every other country with nuclear power, has
no plan for the disposal of nuclear waste. The original idea had been
to bury it in deep granite under the Alps. But the villages at the
chosen site vehemently rejected this plan, and by Austrian law a
locality cannot be forced to accept such an imposition from the
federal government. The Austrians offered the waste to Hungary, Egypt,
and China, but all refused. The Shah of Iran was eager to have it, but
then he fell from power. The Ayatullah wasn’t interested.

By the time Zwentendorf was finished, so many doubts had been raised
that the government was forced to hold a referendum to decide whether
to start the plant. During the weeks preceding the vote, the argument
raged — the same one that polarizes every country that permits public
discussion of nuclear power. People were told they had to choose
between progress and safety, between jobs and the environment, between
present brownouts and future contamination. Bruno Kreisky, then
Chancellor, declared Zwentendorf a top priority and appealed for a yes
vote. Austrians still do not agree whether he caused more
anti-Zwentendorf pro-Kreisky people to vote yes than he did
pro-Zwentendorf anti-Kreisky people to vote no.

At any rate, on November 5, l978, 50.5% of the voters said no to
Zwentendorf. The Austrian nuclear power program came to a halt.

This is part of an article from The Donella Meadows Archive, for
further information please contact Sustainability Institute, 3 Linden
Road, Hartland, VT 05048

Today – that is in 2011 – the Zwentendorf  facility serves as a source
of spare parts for the five German atomic power plant of the same
design, and is used for training purposes. Visits are possible only in
exceptional cases.

————————-

Austrians understand the pain of Japan and the papers are full with articles and letters regarding the nuclear events unfolding in Japan.

The PolitikHeute page of the popular free-of-charge Vienna Heute daily, March 18, 2011, has two out of the three letters from readers, dealing with the EU “Stress Tests for EU Nuclear plants, or the EU and the Atomic Power Plants (the German word AKW):

H. Fruhwirth from Hoenbach reminds us that it is Austrian Environment Minister Nikolas Berlakovich who suggested the stress-tests for all EU AKWs and thinks that had one done so with the Fukushima plants perhaps they would have been stopped before disaster stroke. The mentioned stress tests have already led Germany to announce the non renewal of the operating licenses for as many as 12 plants – this to take effect in a month or two.

Further, the letter points out that politicians, and those that favor nuclear power, finally were driven by what happened in Japan to the realization that humanity is helpless before environmental inputs.

S. Hauer writes a short note asking why the EU deals with crooked bananas and crooked cucumbers, but has no decisions regarding the AKWs, airplane accidents, acts of terror, earth-quakes – even though it is clear that 100% safety does not exist?

On the following page there is an article titled ANSWERS, by Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn.

The Cardinal announces  that tonight, Friday March 18th, 7 pm, he will hold at the Stephansdom (clearly most important Cathedral in Austria) – a special service for Japan.

The Cardinal writes that the Fukushima events made him think these last days of his friend, a Chemist at the University of Bern, Switzerland, Professor Max Thuerkauf, who lost his position at the university because of his criticism of the technological insufficiencies of our times and warned of dangers even of the peaceful uses of nuclear power.  His words sound prophetic these days.

Back in 1984 he was saying that the nuclear power plants were just the tip of an iceberg – the development of technologies that were unsustainable. No engine is safe he was saying to those that argued that nuclear power plants are safe. He was noting that men build them, and use them, and we know that even the impossible can happen.

Thuerkauf  said that atomic energy is a fire that cannot be extinguished – surely not by closing a faucet. There is no material that can extinguish a fire that burns a thousand time brighter then the sun – the artificially created radioactivity.  Science has no means to bottle up this artificially created radioactivity will be here for eternity,  and the Cardinal calls us to reconsider what we are doing and look at what price the poor Japanese will pay for these activities.

—————————-

But I cannot leave it at this only. I feel I must make a further comment regarding the Japanese culture that bred the reality of people committing harakiri for some National purpose. Obviously, we had no admiration for those that sacrificed themselves for their emperor and we do not admire a Prime Minister who makes now an official visit to the shrine that sort off deifies their memory, but look now at the 50 workers that still busy themselves in the pit left by the explosions at the dying reactors of Fukushima. These people know they have little chance to survive. The head of the Japanese nuclear authority did not go to inspect the disaster – right on location. He must have had years ofd good pay and it is those workers that will be his sacrificial lambs. He is no better then the US bank-directors that raked in the profits  from the financial collapse in the US or the BP officials who watched the fouling up of the US Gulf. Neigh – the Japanese energy leaders might actually prove to be much worse then these other self-gratifiers.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 14th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

IPI/SEEMO Press release: Leading Austrian Newspapers to Carry IPI / RSF / Austrian GPA Journalists’ Union Insert Calling on Hungarian Government to Withdraw New Media Legislation.
International Press Institute (IPI) Urges Hungary to Uphold Democracy
The South and East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) would like to announce the following:
Vienna, 13 January 2011 – Leading Austrian newspapers are to carry on today an IPI Austria insert calling on the Hungarian government to withdraw recently-passed media legislation heavily criticised by top EU politicians, the OSCE, journalists and a host of press freedom and freedom of expression groups.

The insert – signed by the IPI Austria National Committee, Reporters without Borders and the Austrian GPA Journalists’ Union – warns that the new legislation constitutes a fundamental threat to press freedom, and therefore to democracy, by muzzling journalists and introducing censorship.

Recalling the “heroic” role played by Hungary in throwing off the yoke of Communism, and evolving peacefully into a democracy, the insert urges the Hungarian government to strengthen – and not weaken – democracy within the European Union.

“Suggestions by top Hungarian politicians that the legislation could conceivably be changed are not enough,” the insert says. It calls on the Hungarian government to withdraw the legislation and to replace it with legislation whose conformance with democratic principles is not in question.

IPI Austria National Committee head Gerfried Sperl, who initiated the insert, said: “The Hungarian nation has in its history always fought for democracy and freedom of speech. The government of Hungary should strengthen democracy and not weaken it.”

“This declaration is also a message to all Austrian politicians who from time to time try to initiate laws which reduce freedom of the media.”

IPI Press Freedom Manager Anthony Mills said: “The many leading Austrian newspapers running this insert on Thursday are – along with the statement’s signatories – sending a powerful message in support of press freedom in Hungary. We urge the Hungarian government to take note of the grave concerns expressed in the statement and to ensure that press freedom – and with it, democracy – are upheld.”

The insert is to appear in the following Austrian newspapers: Die Kleine Zeitung; Die Presse; Der Standard; Kurier; Salzburger Nachrichten; Wirtschaftsblatt; Oberoesterreichische Nachrichten; Neues Volksblatt; Tiroler Tageszeitung; Vorarlberger Nachrichten; Wiener Zeitung.
The South and East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) supports the statements made.
****For further information, please contact:

Mirjana Milosevic
SEEMO Press Freedom Coordinator
South and East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)
E-mail: info@seemo.org
Web: www.seemo.org

Anthony Mills
IPI Press Freedom and Communications Manager
International Press Institute (IPI)
Tel: + 43 1 512 9011
Fax: + 43 1 512 9014
E-mail: amills@freemedia.at
www.freemedia.at

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 11th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Sheriff Dupkin of Pima County says – YES FREE SPEECH BUT WITH RESPONSIBILITIES.

People who make their living from preaching hate share the responsibility for what happened in Tucson, Arizona.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 10th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The right wing populist government of the Hungary of Prime Minister
Viktor Orban and his Fidesz Party is suspected by the EU of aiming at
eventually shutting up the media that is unfriendly to the present
Hungarian government they lead – the EU parliament has outright
criticized the new media-law of Hungary saying that it is just like in
Russia. Some see in the government’s actions an attempt to totally
ignore the will of the opposition parties.

The Greens and the Liberals in the EU Parliament want to present
questions that the Hungarians will have to address, and the
overwhelming opinion of the EU is that the EU will have to intervene.

Above is exacerbated by the fact that Hungary has moved January 1st
into the EU half-year Rotating-temporary-Presidency chair – and it is
not something that brings honor to the whole EU concept. Really´- why
this game of allowing every weakling State to play at Statesmanship
just for the sake of playing up equality for those that are not
equals? Like the UN – these are games of democracy played by States
that are not equal in their understanding of the concept of democracy.

Sunday January 8, 2011, Paul Lendval of Der Standard chaired over a
panel that invited the Hungarian Foreign Minister to address his
visions for the Hungarian EU Presidency – and the obvious was that the
subject revolved around that Free Speech as per-Hungary topic. Oh yes
– the Hungarian motto is “A Strong Europe” and they want to Preside
over the beginning of further enlargement. But they have problems with
who is a Hungarian citizen. They are ready to extend invitations to
Hungarians living in the US, Israel, or France but there is a neigh to
those in Slowakia, Serbia, or Romania – or is it not?
The Austrian former Foreign Minister Ursula Plasnik was quite
diplomatic on the Hungarians while on the panel, but a cloud on the
horizon was the mention of musician and Harvard professor Andreas
Schiff who let it know to the world that he detects racism and
anti-semitism in Hungary today.

The problem is thus human rights in an EU member State? If that is not
enough, others look at an effort to tax foreign banks – something the
Hungarian Foreign Minister finds acceptable as long as the Hungarian
banks are also treated in the same way by the application of a “Crisis
Tax.” Things escalate – control of the media and memories of Hitler
and Stalin. Clearly exaggerated, but also clear non-starter for EU
leadership. Not the Minister and neither his government came out
smelling roses. Others will clearly find it convenient to point now
fingers at Hungarians and make believe that they are clean of human
rights transgressions.

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