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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 7th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Europe

 

Kiev Struggles to Break Russia’s Grip on Gas Flow.

 

 

Photo

A natural gas worker in Chaslovtsy, the largest transit point in Ukraine for Gazprom exports to the European Union. Credit Joseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times

 

CHASLOVTSY, Ukraine — As Ukraine tries to contain a pro-Russian insurgency convulsing its eastern region, a perhaps more significant struggle for the country hinges on what happens beneath the ground here in a placid woodland in the far west, on the border with Slovakia.

This is where about $20 billion worth of Russian natural gas flows each year through huge underground pipelines to enter Europe after a nearly 3,000-mile journey from Siberia. It is also, the pro-European government in Kiev believes, where Ukraine has a chance to finally break free from the grip of Gazprom, Russia’s state-controlled energy behemoth.

In an effort to do this, Ukraine has for more than a year been pushing hard to start so-called reverse-flow deliveries of gas from Europe via Slovakia to Ukraine, thus blunting repeated Russian threats to turn off the gas tap.

An agreement signed last week between Slovak and Ukrainian pipeline operators opened the way for modest reverse-flow deliveries of gas from Europe, where prices are much lower than those demanded by Gazprom for its direct sales to Ukraine.

But the deal, brokered by the European Union and nudged along by the White House, fell so far short of what Ukraine had been lobbying for that it left a nagging question: Why has it been so difficult to prod tiny Slovakia, a European Union member, to get a technically simple and, for Ukraine and for the credibility of the 28-nation bloc, vitally important venture off the ground?

Some cite legal and technical obstacles, others politics and fear of crossing the Kremlin, but all agree that a major obstacle has been the power and reach of Gazprom, which serves as a potent tool for advancing Russia’s economic and geopolitical interests, and is ultimately beholden to President Vladimir V. Putin.

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Gazprom not only dominates the gas business across the former Soviet Union, but also enjoys considerable clout inside the European Union, which gets roughly a third of its gas imports from Russia and is itself vulnerable to Russian pressure.

Major Gas Lines

Uzhgorod and Chaslovtsy are the most West-Side dots in above map of The UKRAINE.

All the same, a fog of mystery surrounds the reluctance of Slovakia to open up its gas transit corridor — through which Russia pumps a large portion of its gas to Europe — for large reverse-flow deliveries to Ukraine.

Built during the Soviet era to link Siberian gas fields with European markets, Slovak pipelines, according to Ukrainian officials and experts, could move up to 30 billion cubic meters of gas from Europe to Ukraine a year — more than all the gas Ukraine is expected to import from Russia this year.

Instead, the majority state-owned Slovak company that runs the system, Eustream, has offered only a small, long-disused subsidiary pipeline that still needs engineering work before it can carry gas to Ukraine. Once the work is finished in October, Eustream will provide just a tenth of the gas Ukraine has been looking for from Europe. The company says that small amount can be increased sharply later.

Here in Chaslovtsy, in southwestern Ukraine, where technicians from Ukraine’s pipeline company, Ukrtransgaz, and Gazprom monitor the flow of Russian gas into Slovakia, the Ukrainian head of the facility, Vitaly Lukita, said he wondered if gas would ever flow the other way.

“We are all ready here, but I don’t know why the Slovaks are taking so long,” Mr. Lukita said. “Everyone has been talking about this for a very long time, but nothing has happened.”

Andriy Kobolev, the board chairman of Naftogaz, Ukraine’s state gas company, said he was particularly mystified by the recalcitrance of Eustream because in 2011 the company had put forward the idea of using spare capacity in its trunk pipelines for reverse-flow supplies to Ukraine.

He said the Slovaks had rejected this option in recent negotiations, citing secret contracts with Gazprom. He added that he did not know what the problem was exactly, because he had not been allowed to see the contracts.

Eustream executives declined repeated requests for interviews. Vahram Chuguryan, the company’s spokesman, declined to comment on the apparent change of heart or on whether it was related to an ownership shuffle in early 2013, when a group of wealthy Czech and Slovak businesspeople purchased a 49 percent stake in Eustream. At the time, Czech news media speculated that they were acting as a stalking horse for Gazprom.

Daniel Castvaj, a spokesman for Energeticky a Prumyslovy Holding, the company that made the purchase, denied Ukrainian assertions that Eustream has sought to limit reverse-flow deliveries to Ukraine, describing these as “not only untrue but nonsensical” since the pipeline operator, which makes its money off transit fees, has a strong commercial interest in boosting flows regardless of direction.

He said he was unaware of any 2011 offer by Eustream to use the trunk transit system to deliver gas to Ukraine, but added that such an option has always been technically and legally impossible “without the consent of Gazprom,” which has not been given.

European Union officials, frustrated by months of haggling and worried about possible legal problems raised by Gazprom’s contracts with Slovakia, hailed last week’s modest deal as offering at least an end to the logjam. José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, described it as a “breakthrough” but also called it a “first step,” signaling hope that Slovakia may, over time, allow more substantial reverse-flow deliveries to Ukraine.

Ukraine’s dependence on Gazprom to heat homes and power factories — it buys more than half its supplies from Russia — has not only left the country vulnerable to sudden price changes, which fluctuate depending on whether Moscow wants to punish or favor the authorities in Kiev, but has also helped fuel the rampant corruption that has addled successive Ukrainian governments.

When Gazprom raised the price of gas to Ukraine by 80 percent last month and threatened to cut off supplies if Kiev did not pay up, Ukraine’s interim prime minister, Arseniy P. Yatsenyuk, blasted Moscow for “aggression against Ukraine.”

“Apart from the Russian Army and guns, they decided to use one of the most efficient tools, which are political and economic pressure,” he said.

   Ukraine Crisis in Maps

By pushing to buy the bulk of its gas from Europe instead of from Gazprom and murky middlemen endorsed by Gazprom, Ukraine hopes to protect what it sees as a dangerously exposed flank from Russian attack.

The best-known of those middlemen, the Ukrainian businessman Dmytro Firtash, was detained in Austria in April and has been fighting extradition to the United States.

“Imagine where you’d be today if you were able to tell Russia: Keep your gas,” Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. told Ukrainian legislators during a visit to Kiev last month. “It would be a very different world you’d be facing today.”

 

Nearly all the gas Washington and Brussels would like to get moving into Ukraine from Europe originally came from Russia, which pumps gas westward across Ukraine, into Slovakia and then on to customers in Germany and elsewhere. Once the gas is sold, however, Gazprom ceases to be its owner and loses its power to set the terms of its sale.

 

Russia is currently demanding $485 per thousand cubic meters for the gas Ukraine buys directly — instead of the price of $268 it offered the Ukrainian government under President Viktor F. Yanukovych before his ouster — while “Russian” gas sold via Europe, which should be more expensive because of additional transit fees, costs at least $100 per unit less.

Russia denies using gas as a political weapon and says all Ukraine needs to do to secure a stable supply at a reasonable price is pay its bills on time and clear its debts, which Gazprom said total $3.5 billion.

Ukraine has already started taking reverse-flow deliveries from Poland and Hungary. But the quantities, around 2 billion cubic meters last year, have been too small to make much of a difference. Only Slovakia has the pipeline capacity to change the balance of forces.

“We have been struggling for a long time to convince them to find a solution,” said Mr. Kobolev, the Ukrainian gas chief. “We have now identified the problem, which was obvious from the beginning — restrictions placed by Gazprom.”

Ukraine’s energy minister, Yuri Prodan, dismissed Gazprom’s legal and technical arguments as a red herring. “I think the problem is political. We don’t see any real objective obstacles to what we have been proposing,” he said.

Opposition politicians in Slovakia, noting that 51 percent of Eustream belongs to the Slovak state, attribute the pipeline company’s stand to the country’s prime minister, Robert Fico, a center-left leader who has sometimes seemed more in sync with Moscow’s views than those of the European Union.

“Fico thinks that it is necessary to be very nice and polite to Mr. Putin,” Mikulas Dzurinda, a former prime minister of Slovakia, said in a telephone interview. “This is the heritage of old communists in a new era: The big guys are still in Moscow,” he said.

At a news conference in April, Mr. Fico insisted that Slovakia was “really ready” to help assist reverse-flow deliveries to Ukraine. But he added, “We naturally protect our own interests” and will not risk punishment by Gazprom for moves that violate Slovakia’s own deals with the Russian energy giant.

Slovakia depends on Gazprom for around 60 percent of its gas supplies and worries that upsetting the Russian company would lead to higher prices for itself or even cuts in supplies.

Alexander Medvedev, the head of Gazprom’s export arm, said he had no problem in principle with reverse-flow supplies to Ukraine but said such arrangements “require the agreement of all parties involved,” including Gazprom.

“Normally, you can’t arrange a physical reverse flow without a new pipeline,” he added, indicating Gazprom’s opposition to the use of existing Slovak pipelines.

Watching over workers in Chaslovtsy as they laid new underground pipes, Ivan Shayuk, a Ukrainian engineer for Ukrtransgaz, shook his head when asked why the scheme was taking so long.

“What is the problem? The problem is simple — Putin,” he said.

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Hana de Goeij contributed reporting from Prague, and Alison Smale from Berlin.

A version of this article appears in print on May 5, 2014, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Kiev Struggles to Break Russia’s Grip on Gas Flow.

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comment from: orbit7er

Here is another piece of the farce being pushed by the plutocratic elite in denial of the realities of Peak Oil and Climate Change. To ship…

And you know – the comment is right – it is those that refuse to let Europe move away from the use of gas that keep watch the umbilical cord to Russia is not broken. This umbilical cord to an unpredictable Russia is the undoing of the EU, and EU member-States that stand up for to hang on this umbilical cord are the un-doers of Europe.
Strange, as it might seem, Austria may be one of these European States that like Slovakia take real interest in conserving the is. Our eyes opened up Sunday May 2nd thanks to two articles in the Austrian news-papers:

(a)  “A Pipeline that Splits Europe” by Veronika Eschbacher, in the venerable and historic Wiener Zeitung, and

(b)  “How Russia wants to Renew its Might via Gas” by Guenther Strobl in the respected Business pages of Der Standard

Both articles give the facts about the Austrian National Oil Company OEMV, that is in the process of planing with the Russian Gazprom to build a new pipeline – “The Southern Stream” – that will shoot directly under the Black Sea, from Russia’s Caucasus near Socchi, to Bulgaria’s port at Varna. Then from there go directly through Serbia and Hungar to Austria – the town of Baumgarten on the border with Slovakia. The achievement here is that this line does not touvh the Ukraine, Moldova, Poland or Rumania which are inclined to be most reluctant to stay under the Russian boot.

So where in this is the Austria of the very active young Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz who is laboring at finding an amicable solution in the conflict between The Ukraine and Russia?

Will an Austrian Government that listens to its own Oil Company be so influenced by it that it works against the better interests in Europe – that try to distance themselves from too close relationship with Russia and understand that Energy Independence in Europe means independence of imports of gas – specially if this gas originates in Russia – pipeline A or Pipeline B – there is no inherent difference in this?

The media has yet to explain this, and the politicians running in Austria for the European Parliament have yet to mention it.   Absolutely – not a single politician in Austria has yet had the courage to say that OEMV is not the source of Foreign policy or the guru of futurology and sustainability for Austria, the EU …  for Europe.

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May 5, 2014, at the Wirtschaftsmuseum (the Economy Museum) at Vogelsanggassee 36, 1050 Vienna, Austria, a panel chaired by Dr. Patrick Horvath, included the Editor of the Wiener Zeitung, Mr. Reinhard Goeweil and titled “EU-Elections 2014 – The Role of the Media” gave me the opportunity to raise the importance of the OEMV in Austrian Government policy and the fact that the media just does not point it out. Dr. Horvath, PhD in Social Studies of Communication, is Head of the Union of Scientists dealing with Economic Policy (WIWIPOL) and the panel included as well Mr. Wolfgang Greif (a last minute addition) – Head of the Europe Section at the Employees and the Employers involved in Company Boards and wrote the book on the subject fighting for the right of the Employees to get information about their Companies; Professor Fritz Hausjell of the Vienna University Faculty of Journalism; and Mr. Wolfgang Mitterlehner – Head of Communication at the Viennese Workers’ Union Central Office.

Professor Hausjell pointed out that the Wienner Zeitung is the best provider of information among the Austrian Media and this is something I argue as well, so it made it easier for me to formulate my question by starting with my own congratulation with the paper’s editor right there on the panel. In effect, founded in 1703 under the name “Vienna Diarium” the WZ is worldwide the oldest newspaper still in print(!) (it appears now 5 times a week with Friday and Sunday excluded and carries the official announcements of use in legal Austria); Mr. Goeweil is editor since 2009 and by background a writer on economics.

As excited as I was by the paper’s expose last weekend of the “Southern Stream” pipeline plans intended to keep the Russian gas flowing to Europe under conditions that exclude the Ukraine, Moldova, and Rumania, while using Russian friendly Serbia, and safeguarding the position of Slavic Slovakia – a multibillion project that might become active by 2017, but can kill all development of Renewable Energy in Europe right now, I realized that further involvement in the subject, even by a paper like WZ, will not come as long as even the good people of that paper take for granted the oil lobby arguments that there is not possible to replace the gas because there is not enough sun, wind, hydro-power etc. If nothing else, the Fossil and Nuclear lobbies have numbed the inquisitiveness of even the good media in the EU States, like they did in the US. Why not bring Jigar Shah over here and have him talk of CLIMATE WEALTH?  Why are not more active businesses that stand to flourish ? Are we the only ones to still say YES WE CAN?

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And Vienna is again the Center of Europe!

May 5-6, 2014 the Council of Europe is meeting in Vienna. 30 Foreign Ministers, including those of Russia and the Ukraine, are meeting here under the chairmanship of Mr. Thorbjorn Jagland, the second most popular politician of Norway and a person that has held all possible political positions in Norway and many in all of Europe who is trying to manage the States of all of Europe with the help of the resourceful Austrian Sebastian Kurz.

Norway is not part of the EU and is an outside gas supplier to the EU. Interesting that Mr. Kurz started his meetings on Sunday with meeting first the current Norwegian Foreign Minister – was this a line-up on gas policy? Is that what the New York Times had in mind when publishing their article? Is it all about lining up interests with Russia and Norway so gas continues to flow in those pipelines and The Ukraine pushed aside, isolated and neutralized?

We shall see and so far as Europe is concerned, we will keep a close eye on these developments because in them we see
a make or break not just for the Ukraine but even more important – for the European Energy Policy that some, like the Prime Ministers of Poland and Slovakia, think of as just a gas policy.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 3rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

PLEASE VOTE NEVERTHELESS !
WE ALL KNOW THAT THE FOLLOWING IS TRUE BUT BY NOT VOTING AT ALL YOU DO NOT ACHIEVE A THING BEYOND ASSURING THAT DECISIONS WILL BE TAKEN WITHOUT ANY CONSIDERATION TO  WHAT YOU HAVE IN MIND. IF YOU VOTE YOU MIGHT OPEN THE DOOR FOR WHAT YOU NEED.

 

This is the eighth elections to the European Parliament – and perhaps the forst really important election as it will lead to the establishment of the FIRST PRESIDENT of the EU.
There are many subjects of first line importance that will have to be decided by the new Parliament but some of the most important topics are not mentioned in the election campaigns – this because they might be too controversial  for the constituencies.
We will deal here just with one such topic – the need for an European energy policy that is not based on imports of gas.The insecurity of Russian supplies ought to teach Brussels that best energy policy is one of efficiency in the use of energy and supplies that are local and from Renewable Energy sources. If this lesson is not forthcoming in days of constraints applied who is full enough to believe in promisses that such policies will be made posible in a calmer future – if this ever comes?
Just see:

Russian gas supplies ‘not guaranteed’, EU commissioner warns.

The EUobserver May 2, 2014.

By Valentina Pop

 

BRUSSELS – A first mediation attempt by the EU between Russia and Ukraine on their gas price dispute on Friday (2 May) in Warsaw ended with no results other than the willingness to meet again.

  • Guenther Oettinger at a press conference after meeting the Russian and Ukrainian energy ministers (Photo: European Commission)

“It is with concern that we see the security of supply for end consumers in EU and non-EU states like Ukraine is not guaranteed,” EU energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger told press after the meeting.

The energy ministers of Ukraine and Russia, for the first time at a table since the annexation of Crimea and the Russia-backed separatist movements in eastern Ukraine, decided to hold separate press points rather than join Oettinger in a common press conference.

Still, when asked about the atmosphere in the meeting, Oettinger responded that “we are all adults” and emphasised the willingness of both sides to meet again mid-May.

“The European Commission will stabilize Naftogaz [Ukraine's state-owned gas company] and Ukraine and will be a fair mediator for justified and fair gas prices,” Oettinger said.

At the core of the current dispute is how much Ukraine owes and has to pay for current and future gas deliveries from Russia: 485 US dollars per cubic meter of gas as Gazprom demands or roughly half of it, the price Kiev used to pay before the political turmoil that started late last year.

For the Russian side, the price is “clear, set in the contract signed until 2019″ and any negotiations are “odd”.

Russian energy minister Alexander Novak told press after the meeting that Ukraine has not paid for any gas it imported in the last quarter of 2013 and the first three months of this year.

“There is a 16 May deadline when an invoice will be issued to pay for the gas by 31 May and to prepay for the consumption in June. If by June these payments are not made, Gazprom will have the possibility to restrict supplies to Ukraine,” Novak said.

He added that European supplies should not be affected as they are paid for until September 2014. Any disruptions in gas flows to the EU during this time should only be blamed on Ukraine, if it “illegally” taps these supplies or diverts them to storage.

Novak also questioned plans by the EU to reverse the flow of gas and supply Ukraine with Russian gas via Slovakia.

“If such contracts are executed, we’ll look at them very attentively and reserve our right to address courts and institutions of arbitration,” he said.

As for Ukraine, its energy minister Yuriy Prodan said the doubling of the gas price by Russia was “discriminatory” and “abusive” and that Kiev will take the matter to the international court of arbitration in Stockholm.

“It is possible that in arbitration we can change the volume of our debt to Gazprom, possibly no debt at all,” Prodan said.

He insisted that “Ukraine is a reliable partner, a transit country and it will fulfil all its obligations to its European partners.”

Ukraine is the main transit country for Russian gas supplies to EU countries, with previous price disputes having translated into gas cuts at the height of cold winters, leaving citizens in Bulgaria and Slovakia in the cold.

The situation has since improved, with increased reserves and the capacity to reverse the gas flow from less-dependent EU countries to the ones totally relying on Russian imports.

But with pro-Russian separatists shooting down two Ukrainian helicopters and with Russian President Vladimir Putin declaring a Geneva peace deal “no longer valid”, the chances of a solution to the gas dispute are low.

Related   —  Ukraine signs gas deal with Slovakia.

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Above is a fine description of the situation when all what Brussels is ready to talk about is the supply of new gas to old pipelines – “in reverse.”  we find this ridiculous because we did not hear of any of the parties running in the elections for the European Parliament saying in full light that Energy Policy is not a synonim for Gas Policy. Where is the call for investment in a long term solution that makes the gas unneeded? YES, THEY CAN – AND IT IS POSSIBLE TO DO IT!

In Austria we follow this topic closely by monitoring the position of the top people in the various parties – and even having picked up in private this topic with them – we found something that until today I used to call a Chicken’s attitude.

I said that “until today” and this because my eyes opened up when the papers today  wrote about -
“A PIPELINE SPLITS EUROPE” – it is the Austrian Oil Company OEMV that has a contract with the Russian GAZPROM to build the SOUTH STREAM PIPELINE to bring Russian Gas under the Black Sea to Bulgaria – and from there via Serbia, Hungary to a branch to Austria -  that will link to Central Europe,  and another branch to Slovenia – that will supply Italy and West Europe.

The First leg is to follow the route: Bergowaja near Sochi in Russia – all the length of the Black Sea to Varna in Bulgaria -Pleven in Bulgaria – Subotica on the Serbian/Hungarian border – to Baumgarten in Lower Austria.

The idea is to bypass the Ukraine, Moldova, and Romania. This is an answer the Russians think to apply to their relations with their pesky Ukrainian neighbors,  and Austria is playing the European partner in this scheme.  With OEMV having strong connections to the Austrian political system – voila – the reason the Austrian parties are not keen to do more then just speak with low voice about true ENERGY INDEPENDENCE. I find this very disturbing, and though I do not want to be the first to point fingers – suffice to say that this might undermine many good positions Austria has in its attempt to help solve in a logic way the Ukraine/Russian controversy – something that becomes impossible if the government ends up speaking for the National Oil Company.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 16th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Alternative Economics, Alternative Societies

A series of billboards, posters and banners by Oliver Ressler

The central idea behind the billboard series “Alternative Economics, Alternative Societies” is to present different suggestions, which might be of interest when considering the principles on which an alternative to the existing capitalist system could be based. Such a society should in my opinion be less hierarchical, based on ideas of direct democracy and involve as many people as possible in decision-making processes. In the field of economy this would lead towards a variety of different models of workers self-management.

The billboard series, which has been carried out in public inner-city spaces in Europe and South America so far, might provide some ideas for people who are interested in thinking about a future society. The billboards can work as food for thought, as the basis for discussions, which are so necessary today when strategies for alternatives are not clear. But it also has to be clear that a desirable society should be realized and created by the people who live in it. A model, which prescribes and determines every aspect of this future society, cannot lead towards an ideal society.

The poster and billboard texts, with their large and highly visible fonts, are in the form of appeals, questioning existing dominant power relationships and indicating alternatives that share the rejection of the capitalist system of rule. Some of the ideas presented in this project have been elaborated upon in concepts such as “Participatory Economy” by Michael Albert, “Inclusive Democracy” by Takis Fotopoulos, are suggestions for an anarchist consensual democracy by Ralf Burnicki, or are based on considerations by the theorist John Holloway, especially in his book “Change the World Without Taking Power”. This project uses the format of posters and billboards as arenas for the imagination. “Imagination is a very powerful liberating tool. If you cannot imagine something different you cannot work towards it”, explains Marge Piercy in a video interview conducted for the ongoing exhibition project “Alternative Economics, Alternative Societies” by Oliver Ressler, to which this project is related.

The first presentation of this poster series took place in the framework of the project “Quicksand in De Pijp” by SKOR and Combiwel, curated by Amiel Grumberg, which was a program of artistic interventions taking place in the De Pijp neighborhood of Amsterdam in 2004. Since then, the posters, billboards or banners have been displayed in several cities, invited and funded by art institutions, and always carried out in the local language. Sometimes the presentations in public inner-city spaces were linked with the ongoing exhibitions project “”, which was the case with the poster presentations in Rijeka, Karlsruhe and Lima. Sometimes the billboards were realized on their own (as in Bratislava and Copenhagen). While in Amsterdam around 2000 posters were placarded more or less illegal throughout several months, in Bratislava the large-scale billboards were displayed on city-owned commercial billboard sites, which were left for free to the Billboartgallery Europe, which makes them available for artists. In several of the other presentations, the house facades of art institutions, which invited me to realize works, were used for the public interventions.

  • Image 1: Nikolaj Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center, 2005
  • The poster texts reads: Imagine and create revolutionary processes which are not intended to take over state power but to dissolve power relations
  • Image 2: Billboartgallery Europe, Bratislava, 2004
  • The poster texts read: Imagine a society in which people have a say in decisions in proportion to the degree that they are affected
  • Image 3: “Quicksand in De Pijp”, org. by SKOR, urban space in Amsterdam, 2004
  • The poster text reads: Imagine being remunerated for effort and sacrifice, not for property or power

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 4th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Office Budapest is organising an international conference with the title

Border breakthrough at Sopron – Prelude of completion of Europe

on July 16-17 in Sopron (Pannonia Hotel, Várkerület 75.)

as a commemoration of the famous Pan-European Picnic in August 1989 where citizens of Hungary, Austria and other countries met to demonstrate for the necessity to tear down the Iron Curtain and unite Europe in peace and freedom. On this occasion, several hundreds of GDR citizens managed to escape to the West, by literally tearing down the old wooden gate on the site of the Picnic.

These events 23 years ago have been the first step for German and European re-unification. “The soil below the Brandenburg Gate is Hungarian soil.” (Helmut Kohl) could be described as motto of the historical happenings at those times. The role Hungary and Hungarians played by overcoming these obstacles should not be forgotten.

Our aim is to make a tribute to these historical moments by hosting an international conference assembling experts, the former organisers and civil rights activists, in total some 250 attendees. Moreover, we expect 100 youngsters from over 30 European countries in order to ensure the sustainability of this endeavour. Please note that the overall conference will have simultaneous interpretation in three languages (English, German, Hungarian).

In the attachment you will find a preliminary programme and a short fact box about the background of the Pan-European Picnic. May you have any further inquiries or questions, do not hesitate to contact my assistant, Dr. Bence Bauer via bence.bauer@kas.de or +36 20 3345199. Registrations are possible with the attached form until July 10.

We would be more than delighted to have you in Sopron,

Yours sincerely

Hans KAISER
Minister ret.
Head of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Office Budapest


Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung e.V.
H-1015 Budapest
Batthyány utca 49.
T.: +36 1 487 50 10
F.: +36 1 487 50 11
www.kas.de/ungarn

3 attachments — Download all attachments
Background and history of the Pan_European Picnic.pdf Background and history of the Pan_European Picnic.pdf
34K   View Download
Registration form.doc Registration form.doc
43K   View Download
Sopron symposium english.pdf Sopron symposium english.pdf
73K   View Download

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 23rd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

IFEX

Campaigns and Advocacy / Campañas y Defensa

22 May 2012

Seventeen states request respect for freedom of expression

SOURCE: Andean Foundation for Media Observation & Study (FUNDAMEDIOS)

(Fundamedios/IFEX) – 21 May 2012 – Seventeen states from the Americas, Europe and Asia suggested that the Ecuadorian government should respect and guarantee the freedoms of the press and of expression in the country.

They made these observations on 21 May 2012 during a session of the UN Human Rights Council, where the states assessed Ecuador using the mechanism known as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

Germany, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Costa Rica, Estonia, United States, Slovakia, Latvia, Luxemburg, Norway, France, India, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom were the countries that presented observations to the Ecuadorian State that it should promote and respect freedom of expression and eliminate laws that criminalize opinion. Some of them also requested that Ecuador should make possible a visit by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression to examine the situation of freedom of expression in the country.

The European countries’ delegations were the most critical.
Sweden, for example, mentioned the case that led to the conviction of a former feature writer and the directors of the newspaper El Universo; and although President Correa abandoned the lawsuit, it recommended that the Ecuadorian State should protect freedom of expression.

Meanwhile, Switzerland emphasized that an atmosphere of censorship and self-censorship prevails in Ecuador and that the State has the obligation of respecting this fundamental right, while Luxembourg expressed concern for the intimidations against Ecuadorian journalists.

Among countries in the Americas, the United States was one of the most critical, showing its concern for attacks against journalists and because in Ecuador freedom of expression is not fully guaranteed. Canada and Costa Rica also issued recommendations to establish measures that guarantee the protection of this fundamental right in accordance with international regulations.

The criminalization of social protest and free association concerned Belgium, Canada, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Latvia and Luxembourg, all of which recommended that guarantees should be in place to allow opposition groups and communities to protest freely, without being condemned as terrorists or saboteurs. In regard to this issue, Spain recommended reviewing the restrictive legislation against NGOs and the criminalization of social protest in the country.

Faced by these pronouncements, the Ecuadorian delegation, led by Vice-president Lenin Moreno; the Minister of Foreign Affairs Ricardo Patiño; the Minister of Justice Johana Pesántez and the National Communication Secretary Fernando Alvarado affirmed that the press is neither censored nor persecuted in the country and that there are no jailed journalists in Ecuador. “Freedom of expression is absolutely and wholly respected in Ecuador”, stated Minister Patiño.

The 17 observations exceed in number those issued against Venezuela during last October’s UPR, when 13 recommendations concerning freedom of expression were presented, all of them were eventually rejected by that government.

The official report will be presented on Friday 25 May and the Ecuadorian government will have to accept or reject the recommendations issued today, as well as those that the states present in writing.

Fundamedios will attend this session and will provide news coverage through its twitter accounts, @LoFundamental and @Fundamedios, and its Facebook pages Fundamedios and LoFundamental.

For more information:
Andean Foundation for Media Observation & Study (FUNDAMEDIOS)
Unión Nacional de Periodistas E2-32 e Iñaquito
Edificio UNP
Piso 4, Ofic. 403
Quito, Ecuador
info (@) fundamedios.org.ec
Phone: +593 2 2461622/ 2461636/ 2461642
Fax: +593 2 2230 821
www.fundamedios.org
@fundamedios



22 mayo 2012

Diecisiete estados piden respeto para la libertad de expresión

FUENTE: Fundación Andina para la Observación y el Estudio de Medios

(Fundamedios/IFEX) – 21 de Mayo de 2012 – Diecisiete estados de América, Europa y Asia realizaron sugerencias para que el gobierno de Ecuador respete y garantice de forma efectiva las libertades de expresión y de prensa en el país.

Esas observaciones se realizaron este 21 de mayo de 2012, durante la sesión del Consejo de Derechos Humanos de la ONU, en donde los Estados evaluaron al Ecuador bajo el mecanismo conocido como Examen Periódico Universal (EPU).

Alemania, Australia, Austria, Bélgica, Canadá, Costa Rica, Estonia, Estados Unidos, Eslovaquia, Letonia, Luxemburgo, Noruega, Francia, India, Suecia, Suiza, Reino Unido, fueron los países que plantearon observaciones al Estado ecuatoriano para que promueva y respete la libertad de expresión y que elimine leyes que criminalizan la opinión. Algunos de ellos también solicitaron que el Ecuador posibilite de forma real la visita del Relator Especial de Libertad de Expresión de la ONU, para que constate la situación de la libertad de expresión.

En este sentido, los países de las delegaciones europeas fueron los más críticos con este tema. Por ejemplo, Suecia mencionó el caso por el que se condenó al exarticulista y directivos de diario El Universo y, pese a que el Presidente desistió de aquel juicio, recomendó al Estado ecuatoriano la protección de la libertad de expresión.

Por su parte, Suiza fue enfático en señalar que el Ecuador se vive un clima de censura y autocensura y que el Estado tiene la obligación de respetar este derecho fundamental, mientras que Luxemburgo se mostró preocupado por las intimidaciones a periodistas ecuatorianos.

Del lado del continente americano, Estados Unidos fue otro de los Estados más críticos y que mostró su preocupación por los ataques a periodistas y porque en Ecuador no se garantiza plenamente la libertad de expresión. Canadá y Costa Rica también formularon recomendaciones para que se tomen medidas que garanticen la protección de este derecho fundamental, de acuerdo con las normas internacionales.

La criminalización de la protesta social y la libre asociación también fueron temas que preocuparon a muchos países como Bélgica, Canadá, Estonia, Francia, Alemania, Hungría, Letonia, Luxemburgo, quienes plantearon sus recomendaciones en el sentido de que deben existir garantías para que los grupos opositores, así como las comunidades puedan protestar libremente, sin ser condenados bajo figuras como el terrorismo y sabotaje. Al respecto España recomendó revisar la legislación restrictiva para ONG y criminalización de la protesta social en el país.

Frente a estas inquietudes, la delegación ecuatoriana, encabezada por el vicepresidente Lenin Moreno; el canciller Ricardo Patiño, la ministra de Justicia Johana Pesántez y el secretario nacional de comunicación Fernando Alvarado, aseguraron que en el país no se censura ni se persigue a la prensa y que tampoco existen periodistas encarcelados. “En Ecuador se respeta absoluta y totalmente la libertad de expresión”, mencionó el canciller Patiño.

Las 17 observaciones formuladas superan a las realizadas a Venezuela, en el EPU de octubre pasado, en dónde se plantearon 13 recomendaciones sobre libertad de expresión, todas las cuales fueron rechazadas por dicho Gobierno.

El próximo viernes 25 de mayo, se presentará el informe y el Gobierno ecuatoriano aceptará o rechazará las recomendaciones realizadas hoy, o aquellas que los estados presenten por escrito.

Fundamedios estará presente en esta sesión y acompañará la cobertura noticiosa a través de sus cuentas de twitter, @LoFundamental y @Fundamedios y sus páginas de Facebook, Fundamedios y LoFundamental.

Para mayor información:
Fundación Andina para la Observación y el Estudio de Medios
Unión Nacional de Periodistas E2-32 e Iñaquito
Edificio UNP
Piso 4, Ofic. 403
Quito, Ecuador
info (@) fundamedios.org.ec
Tel: +593 2 2461622/ 2461636/ 2461642
Fax: +593 2 2230 821
www.fundamedios.org
@fundamedios

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 16th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of Slovakia to the United Nations (Vienna), EKOTOPFILM International Festival of Sustainable Development Films and the Slovak Institute, invite you to -

The Sustainable Development Film Week at the Vienna International Centre

14-18 May 2012


A selection of award winning films from the EKOTOPFILM International Festival of Sustainable Development Films will be screened throughout the week:

Programme:

for the opening day – 14 May 2012, at 12:00 Noon, Opening of the Film Week


VIC (The Vienna International Center – or the UN Headquarters in Vienna) Rotunda

Introductory remarks by:

Janos Tisovszky, Director, UNIS Vienna

Ambassador Marcel Pesko, Slovakia

Peter Lim, Executive Director, EKOTOPFILM

Followed by a musical and culinary programme courtesy of the Slovak Cultural Institute and SL’UK then the  14 May 2012, 13:00 Screening of a selection of short films in UNIS Cinema Room G0575:


2086 - Director: Olena Maksymenko (Ukraine, 2010, 5 min) A possible future of the earth without air…

99% Rust - Director: Nenko Genov (Bulgaria, 2010, 4 min) About 70% of all metal is used just once and then it is discarded.

Tomatoes Eat You! Director: Nenko Genov (Bulgaria, 2010, 1 min) For generations they were cooked, mashed, canned, eaten alive… or even worse! And now they strike back! Prepare for a horror beyond your imagination! This summer tomatoes eat you!

Africa: Digital Graveyard: A UNTV film. Director: Mary Ferreira (2011, 10 min) Mobile phones and computers have transformed the lives of many – yet billions of discarded electronic devices are ending up in landfills in the world’s poorest countries, posing a potentially lethal toxic threat. But one African country is finding innovative ways to handle this so called e-waste.

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

We posted the UN in Vienna activity originally on May 8-th and the UPDATE is after the first day  of the Vienna showings – May 14-th.

We learned from Dr. iur Hana Kovacova, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Slovak Republic to the International Organizations in Vienna, that Ekotopfilm is a Slovak organization based in Bratislva that holds yearly film and documentary showings on topics of Sustainable Development and the environment.

This year the show and judging of the films will take place in Bratislava in October in a five days film festival. This will be followed by a 3-4 days event in November in Kosice where the films will get a commercial preview.

The May event in Vienna is to honor both – the preparations for RIO+20 and the colleagues at the UN Headquarters in Vienna.

Last year’s winner in the Bratislava International Competition was the film on Africa which was the last that was shown today – the opening day in Vienna. I picked up from the internet:

Ekotopfilm, based in Slovakia, awarded the top prize to a film,  “Africa: Digital Graveyard”, produced by me for my employer, United Nations Television, UNTV – said Mary Ferreira, who made this film .  The film is part of UNTV’s monthly series 21st Century and won first place out of 20 contenders in the Current Affairs category.

“Africa: Digital Graveyard” addresses the growing problem of electronic waste or “e-waste” as developed nations ship obsolete and second-hand electronics to countries like Ghana. Most of the items are worthless and end up in dumpsites in Accra. The film also depicted action taken by innovators in South Africa who have found creative ways to recycle, refurbish and reprocess elements from old electronics for use as raw materials in the manufacture of new products.  Link to film -goo.gl/IWqEc

Now, why should one send what is considered garbage in Developed countries, to lesser developed countries – even under guise of extracting value from them -?  Will this allow for a modicum of self-esteem.

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

The 15 May 2012, 12:00 Film screening:  Trou de Fer – The Iron Hole UNIS Cinema Room G0575.

Director: Pavol Barabas (Slovakia, 2011, 55 min) Trou de Fer is a unique and majestic natural phenomenon sitting in the heart of the National Park on Reunion Island. Volcanic eruptions made the Earth sink into a void and continuous and heavy rain showers formed a place like no other. Because of its inaccessibility nature has been left untouched and untamed. The depths of the canyon have been visited only by a few individuals.

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

The 16 May 2012, 12:00 Film screening:  Architects of Change: Nothing is Lost UNIS Cinema Room G0575

Director: Jean Bourbonnais (France, 2009, 52 min) The trash we generate, our outmoded or broken gadgets, the water we waste – it is all thrown out into the environment after we have used it. Far from being satisfied with managing the accumulation of electronic waste, most of which contain toxic materials that are harmful to the environment and human health, Fernando Nilo also wanted Recylca to provide jobs for socially disadvantaged people.

This film shows how bad our relation is to the environment and to ourselves. How the throw-away society is losing its treasures and making the land inhabitable by throwing away as pollution resources we could use as further inputs to industry.

Water is a recurrent topic – we use it and rather then clean it up and reuse it, we throw it into the pool of man-made pollution.

The other recurrent topic is electronics waste that literally harbors gold.

The target of the film is us and it tries to tell s that we will gain even financially by doing the right think of harvesting the present polluting waste.

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

14-18 May 2012 Exhibition in the VIC Rotunda

The film week will be accompanied by an exhibition on EKOTOPFILM International Festival of Sustainable Development Films.

The exhibition will also present finalists of the Drop by Drop – the Future We Want Ad Competition, launched by the UN Regional Information Centre in Brussels (UNRIC), in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme and UN information offices in Europe with the support of the Nordic Council of Ministers. In the competition Europeans were asked to create a newspaper ad that inspires others to preserve water now and for future generations.


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

REGISTRATION was REQUIRED for those who do not hold a valid VIC Grounds Pass

A system was in place at the time but the UN in Vienna does not want us to continue providing that information.



###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 3rd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Absurd, intellektuell, moralisch: der Dramatiker Václav Havel (1936 – 2011)

Die Burg, ein Muttertheater

Von Hans Haider

  • Viele von Havels Stücken wurden im Burgtheater uraufgeführt.

 www.wienerzeitung.at/nachrichten/…

Nicht der Autor, sondern eine Tafel mit seinem Namen verbeugte sich im Akademietheater. Nicht der Autor, sondern eine Tafel mit seinem Namen verbeugte sich im Akademietheater.Foto: Burgtheater

Prag, Hradschin, früher Jänner 1990. Wissenschaftsminister Erhard Busek überbringt Glückwünsche aus Wien. Václav Havel trägt im Amt, es ist später Vormittag, einen schwarzen Rollkragenpulli. Sein Gesicht strahlt. Er blättert im Pass, den er eben bekommen hat, dem ersten seit zwanzig Jahren. Was seine “Proféssion” ist, liest er zögerlich vor: Président de la République fédérative tchèque et slovaque. Über die Schriftstellerei kein Wort. Aus der von ihm selbst und der Mehrheit der Bürger gewählten Politikerrolle wird der Dichter nie mehr herausfinden.

2008 wollte es der schwer lungenkrebskranke Expräsident noch einmal wissen. Der Entwurf für das Stück “Abgang” (Odchazeni) lag seit 1988 in der Schublade. Ein Staatsmann räsoniert, ironisch-selbstkritisch und darum selbstzerstörerisch, nach dem Verlust der Macht über die verlogenen Mechanismen von Politik und Medien. Ein Achtungserfolg, nicht mehr. “Abgang” wurde als Abrechnung mit Havels Widerpart Václav Klaus missinterpretiert. Er verfilmte den Plot noch selbst als Regisseur – Premiere war heuer im März.

Zum Sterben zog sich der 75-Jährige in sein Häuschen im nordböhmischen Weiler Hrádecek zurück. Wo er am 18. Dezember einschlief, probierte er in den Jahren der Verfolgung in Privataufführungen neue Texte aus. Er kannte sein Publikum jenseits des Eisernen Vorhangs kaum. Was dort als universeller aufklärerischer Humanismus ankam, war mit unzähligen Anspielungen gespickt, die nur in der CSSR oder von tschechischen Emigranten zu verstehen waren.

Kein kalter Krieg
Der Schöpfer von Welterfolgen wie “Das Gartenfest” (1963) und “Benachrichtigung” (1965) saß sechs Jahre im Gefängnis. Warum der Polizeikrieg gegen die Dichter, die Intellektuellen? Der 1968 von der Sowjet-Internationale zerschlagene “Prager Frühling” war eine Kulturbewegung – zugleich Wiederbelebung der Avantgarde in der 1939 schon von den Nazis vernichteten bürgerlichen Republik und jugendkultureller Internationalismus Marke Woodstock. Havel liebte die Prager Popgruppe “Plastic People of the Universe”. Als sie ebenfalls drangsaliert wurde, formierten sich ihre Verteidiger zur “Charta 77″.

Kritik an kalten bürokratischen, verachtenden Systemen war, mit Orwells “1984″ als Leitbuch, eine Waffe im Kalten Propagandakrieg. Kafkas Angstbilder in “Der Prozess” und “Das Schloss” wurden im Westen simpel als vorausgeschaute Beschreibungen von Stalins Terror interpretiert. Havel wollte kein Kalter Krieger sein. Er warb für die Zivilgesellschaft und führte, als Konservativer, in soziotechnokratischen Fiction-Kulissen scheinbar rationale moderne Politsysteme ad absurdum. Wie alle Intellektuellen gar zu gerne, wusste auch Havel das Schicksal der Welt in deren Hände gelegt. Sein Dr. Heinrich Faustka in “Versuchung” (1986) ist ein Wissenschafter in einem Institut zur Bewahrung der reinen materialistischen Lehre. Mephisto spricht für die Hölle, den Staat, das System. Das System siegt, Faust verbrennt.

Im Wiener Akademietheater fand Havels geistreiche Zuspitzung wenig Beifall. Sie war die letzte einer Serie von sechs Uraufführungen, die 1976 unter lautem Jubel mit dem Einakter “Audienz” begonnen wurde. Havel durfte trotz Interventionen von Kreisky und Sinowatz nicht zur Uraufführung reisen. Direktor Achim Benning, Dramaturg Rupert Weis und der Rowohlt-Theaterverlag organisierten den Schmuggel der Manuskripte über die Grenze. Havel pries die Burg als sein “Muttertheater” (materské divadlo).

Ekel vor Intellektuellen

Foto: Erich Lessing

Joachim Bissmeier traf bravourös die existenzielle Traurigkeit und Unbeugsamkeit des Alter-Ego Ferdinand Vanek, ein Schriftsteller, der wie Havel zur Zwangsarbeit in einer Brauerei verdonnert wurde. Der Braumeister muss der Polizei Überwachungsprotokolle schicken, scheitert aber am Formulieren. Der Dichter nimmt ihm die Arbeit ab. In den Fortsetzungen debattiert Vanek seine Freiheitsideale mit bürgerlichen Aufsteigern (“Vernissage”) und Intellektuellen (“Protest”). Und wendet sich angeekelt von denen ab.

Im Jänner 1977 wird die “Charta 77″ bekannt, an der Havel mitgeschrieben hat. Die Amnesty-Gruppe Burgtheater lud zur Solidaritätsaufführung – und Kreisky, Sinowatz, Taus, Busek kamen. Wie nach der Premiere im Oktober fuhr eine Tafel mit dem Namen des Dissidenten aus dem Schnürboden.

Information

Briefe als kleine Fenster im Gefängnis

(cb) Erich Lessing hat auf ebay Glück gehabt. Dort hat er ein Exemplar von Vaclav Havels “Briefe an Olga” ergattert. Dieses Buch ist nämlich vergriffen. Also nicht ganz. Denn der Thomas Reche Verlag hat einige der Briefe Havels aus dem Gefängnis neu herausgegeben. In dem Buch sind Briefe aus dem Jahr 1981 mit Bildern des Magnum-Fotografen Lessing illustriert (“Fünfzehn Stimmungen”). Es sind einerseits Fotos, die Lessing in den Jahren 1956 bis 1958 in Prag gemacht hat (siehe Bild). Auf der anderen Seite sind es Bilder, die das Eingesperrtsein verbildlichen: Mauern, tiefe Brunnen, kleine Fenster. Die Briefe mussten durch eine strenge Zensur – Havel erzählt in einem Interview, dass er besonders kompliziert formulieren musste, damit die Texte durchgingen. Gleichzeitig war ihm bewusst, dass die Briefe als literarische Signale in der Außenwelt aufgenommen wurden. Die Texte wurden zur einzigen Leidenschaft jener Zeit. Ein versprochenes Vorwort für das Buch hat Havel nicht mehr geschafft. Aber, so Lessing, Havel hat das Buch noch gesehen. “Ich habe ein von ihm signiertes Exemplar. Vaclav Havel steht da, mit einem Herz.”

Der junge Havel, als Klassenfeind vom Studium ausgeschlossen, tippte auf der Schreibmaschine visuelle Poesie wie Ernst Jandl. Im Prager Frühling befreite er sich aus der Zwangsrolle des anonymen Dramaturgen im Theater am Geländer – einer Kleinbühne unter der Leitung von Jan Grossman. Der inszenierte 1965 Havels in absurde Höhen geschraubte Totalitarismus-Satire “Benachrichtigung”. Funktionäre tyrannisieren die Bürger mit der Kunstsprache “Ptydepe”, die Knechte des Systems sind schaurige Jasager. Im “Berghotel” (1981) entlarvt sich ein totalitäres System in einsamer Höhenlage bei einem Bal macabre. Anders als Vanek resigniert hier die Hauptperson, wieder ein kritischer Schriftsteller. In “Largo desolato” gab Bissmeier einen Philosophen, traumatisiert von Verfolgung und Isolation. Er widersteht der Versuchung, proletarischer Märtyrer zu werden. Wieder waren es eigene Skrupel, die Havel zur Feder greifen ließen. Wieder wurden sie im Ausland nur von kritischen Intellektuellen und von den Hütern autoritärer Systeme verstanden. In seinem Essay “Versuch, in der Wahrheit zu leben” schrieb er 1980 Klartext, der in den Kanon der politisch-moralischen Weltliteratur einging.

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

Vaclav Havel’s Triumph

December 22, 2011 | by 

Vaclav Havel never received the Nobel Peace Prize.  He probably could have gotten it but, in 1991, when he was most celebrated as the dissenter and long-term political prisoner who had become the hero of Czechoslovakia’s “Velvet Revolution” and then its democratically elected president, he campaigned for its presentation to someone else.  He said it should be given to Aung San Suu Kyi and, with his support, she was chosen.  Not long before that, the Burmese military junta had cancelled an election after voting had taken place and it became clear that her political party, the National League of Democracy, would win more than 80 percent of the seats in Parliament.  She had been placed under house arrest.

Right now, a political opening may be taking place in Burma.  Some political prisoners have been released (though many more remain behind bars) and Aung San Suu Kyi says she is thinking of running for Parliament.  In the 20 years since she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, she has endured long periods of house arrest and also a period of actual imprisonment.  Yet the fact that she has survived and that her country now has a chance to emerge from its long nightmare of repressive rule has a lot to do with the protection provided by the Nobel Peace Prize.  Vaclav Havel was not only the hero of the Velvet Revolution.  He is also a hero of the transformation that is still to come in Burma and in such other countries as Belarus, Cuba, and China, to which he devoted his energies in recent years.

I met Vaclav Havel only a few times.  One occasion that stands out in my memory is when he came to the headquarters of Human Rights Watch in New York, where I was then the executive director, to thank us for our efforts on behalf of Czech dissenters during the period of communist rule.  This took place when he visited New York to attend a meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations not long after he became president.  Visiting our office to meet with the entire staff was a thoughtful gesture that made everyone there feel good about the work they were doing.

My last opportunity to see Havel took place a few weeks ago when I visited Prague to speak at the Forum 2000 conference that he has organized every year.  Because he had been ill, it was not certain that he would appear at his own conference.  Many of the participants knew that it would probably be their last chance to see him.  When he did appear, and expressed solidarity with those still struggling against repression, it provided a palpable thrill that I think was shared by all of us listening to him.  Not inclined to politics, he was more intent on practicing his profession as a playwright.  Yet he had become a central figure in the most important political struggles of our time, always as the champion of those whose cause seemed most hopeless.  His death is an occasion for deep mourning and, simultaneously, for celebration of the triumph of the human spirit.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 14th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 10th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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

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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!

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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.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 17th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 28th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 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.

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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.com)

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.

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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.

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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 March 16th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

A cloud of nuclear mistrust spreads around the world.

 After decades of lies, nuclear reassurances now fall on deaf ears

Special report for The Independent of London by Michael McCarthy

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

It is unprecedented: four atomic reactors in dire trouble at once, three threatening meltdown from overheating, and a fourth hit by a fire in its storage pond for radioactive spent fuel.

All day yesterday, dire reports continued to circulate about the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, faced with disaster after Japan’s tsunami knocked out its cooling systems. Some turned out to be false: for example, a rumour, disseminated by text message, that radiation from the plant had been spreading across Asia. Others were true: that radiation at about 20 times normal levels had been detected in Tokyo; that Chinese airlines had cancelled flights to the Japanese capital; that Austria had moved it embassy from Tokyo to Osaka; that a 24-hour general store in Tokyo’s Roppongi district had sold out of radios, torches, candles and sleeping bags.

But perhaps the most alarming thing was that although Naoto Kan, Japan’s Prime Minister, once again appealed for calm, there are many – in Japan and beyond – who are no longer prepared to be reassured.

And first palpable direct result – see Germany closes seven of its oldest reactors.

Related articles:

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 8th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

VALERIO CALZOLAIO, a journalist, ecologist, and ex-member of Italian parliament, is the author of:

“ECO-REFUGEES: FORCED MIGRATION YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND TOMORROW.”

He writes, as reported by Roberto Savio of IPS, from Rome, October 8, 2010:

“For the entire month of August the front pages of the world’s major daily papers gave considerable coverage of developments in the Indus Valley: monsoon rains in the north of Pakistan in late July, the flooding of rivers and tributaries, submerged land, villages, and towns, then more flooding in the centre and south of the country, the contamination of wells and aqueducts and other sources of water, inadequate international funding, flight, desperation, and anger.

Almost two thousand dead were immediately confirmed, thousands and thousands of people lost, six million left homeless, 10 million evacuated, 20 million effected in some way. They could be defined climate- or eco-refugees.

It was a disaster on a planetary scale represented in shocking photographs of the distant suffering. But alongside this story ran a range of national matters of varying importance -in Italy, for example, the story about a drop in prices of homes in Montecarlo. Now the climate refugees of the Indus have vanished from the media. For two months we have heard nothing more about the disaster, though hundreds of thousands of people remain in camps and normal life has not returned for millions of Pakistanis.

In recent weeks, however, news has arrived about another wave of climate refugees elsewhere in the world, in Indonesia, the Amazon, and the Danube in Hungary. For almost twenty years the proliferation of climate refugees has been a source of diffuse emergencies, migrants driven to leave their homes by bad choices or the mistaken behaviour of humans. In the case of climate change, they are fleeing because of actions that we are taking here.

In 2008 and 2009 the number of international “political” refugees (those who are given “refugee” status) was about 15 million; the official number of international eco-refugees was higher. The number of eco-refugees even exceeds that of internal political refugees (who remain within their country’s border). With world conferences about to be held yet again on biodiversity (Nagoya) and the climate (Cancun), in November and December, it is time the UN is provided permanently with the means to help eco-refugees and prevent the creation of more of them.

In a book now being released in Italy, I have tried to reflect on these figures and means. Whether we like it or not, hundreds of thousands of eco-refugees are arriving in Europe each year, and their numbers will only rise. Moreover it is we that are responsible for their lack of homes. They cannot stay in camps forever, not will all manage to find a home in their own country, and the sooner we recognise this the better.

I recognise that since Adam and Eve there have always been environmental and climate refugees. It is not by chance that I dedicated the first part of the book to migratory species and the archaeology of the original waves of human migration. The migration of individuals and groups of our species have always had multiple causes and environmental and climatic effects and repercussions, especially when forced, when people were driven from their homes.

In the history and evolution of homo sapiens, the other major causes of migration are war and conflict. Refugees and eco-refugees are not an invention of modernity. Today those made refugees by “political” causes -violence or persecution by institutions or human communities- are granted “refugee” status and assistance by a United Nations commission. And yet climate refugees are victims of human action, too, so shouldn’t they be given this same status? We must find a way to provide the same assistance and take the same preventive measures in the case of migration caused by contemporary human-caused climate change. The second part of my book is dedicated to this subject.

I have tried to reconstruct the infancy and adolescence of the UN system, showing who’s in charge (and how) of human rights and the right to asylum, aid, and protection from climate change. I have sought to gather together the most advanced proposals from UN agencies, scientists, and researchers to address the migration caused by rising sea levels, by the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, and by the shrinking availability of water for drinking and sanitation.

Forecasts indicate that in the next two decades there will be tens of millions of new eco-refugees, especially in certain areas, headed primarily towards Europe, mostly across the Mediterranean. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports call attention to global developments that are certain to occur though they will vary in intensity according to location: rising sea level, water scarcity, and extreme weather events.

For example, according to the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), the real risk of deaths resulting from flooding has risen by 13 percent from 1990-2007 while the percentage of the world population directly effected has increased by 28 percent in that period. Moreover, on the basis of past experience and forecast models, over 75 percent of these risks will be concentrated in a handful of countries: those effected by monsoons (Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan) and China.

The risks are not the consequence of exposure and intensity alone: an island or sparsely-populated country or a small poor country risks both the life and development of entire populations for generations. Forced emigration is the near certain outcome. By 2050 the risk of becoming climate refugees as a result of these developments, even in a best case scenario, will cast its shadow over no fewer than 200 million people.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 17th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Danube’s menacing industrial legacy.

DOUG SAUNDERS

From Saturday’s Globe and Mail, London and Toronto.
Published Friday, Oct. 15, 2010, Last updated Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010

When the earthen retaining wall burst on a Hungarian chemical refinery’s settling pond last week, a lake of caustic red sludge burst forth, drowning or burning to death at least nine people and polluting large tracts of land and river.

But the Ajkai alumina refinery disaster also exposed an alarming, half-buried legacy of poison and potential disaster that stretches along the banks of the Danube River as it courses through the former Communist nations of Eastern Europe – a decades-old legacy of crumbling chemical plants and mines that threatens far worse accidents.

More related to this story

Regional organizations, ecological groups and the European Union list hundreds of rickety Communist-era chemical plants, refineries and mine smelters strung along the banks and watersheds of the Danube.

Most are like the Ajkai refinery, which was built by the Soviet-bloc Hungarian government in the 1940s and privatized in the early 1990s while relying on the same aging infrastructure.

During the decades of the Warsaw Pact, the Soviets had designated the Danube basin – notably Hungary, but also Romania, Bulgaria and their neighbours – the empire’s centre of chemical and mineral processing. After the end of communism in 1989, the plants either passed into private hands, often with little investment or upkeep, or were abandoned.

“We have no idea how many ticking time bombs are out there – we thought we had a list of the most dangerous sites, but then something like this takes us by surprise,” says Andreas Beckmann, director of the World Wildlife Fund’s Vienna-based Danube program.

The WWF, Greenpeace and local environment groups had all maintained lists of the dangerous mines and chemical ponds in the area – a list that includes more than 1,000 operating and 700 abandoned sites in Hungary alone, and eight that are considered dangerous “hot spots.”

But the Ajkai refinery, site of the worst disaster in a decade (though environmental groups say they have detected only minor pollution of the Danube itself), did not even appear on those lists.

“In this case I wasn’t aware it had existed until last week, which is the unsettling thing – it makes you wonder what else is out there,” Mr. Beckmann said. Its aluminium-oxide sludge pits, which contain millions of litres of a sufficiently potent alkaline to give lethal burns, are not considered a serious pollutant under European regulations.

When the countries of the eastern Danube joined the European Union – Hungary in 2004, then Romania and Bulgaria in 2007 – they became subject to some of the world’s most rigorous environmental regulations. To qualify for membership, both the prospective members and Brussels invested billions in upgrading health and safety infrastructure.

But officials now fear that many of these countries, which tend to register high on corruption indices, may have hidden unsafe, crumbling industries in much the same way that Greece hid billions in debt liabilities. There is a fear, one European Commission official involved in the Hungarian case said, that “these guys could be paying the inspectors to overlook a chemical Chernobyl.”

Hungarian environmentalists feel that the Ajkai alumina plant could not have passed any sort of rigorous inspections – aerial photos released Thursday showed the containment walls leaking and crumbling months before the collapse. “They made a huge mistake in legalizing this factory in the first place,” Marton Vau, spokesman for Greenpeace Hungary, told reporters.

And while weak and under-inspected mines and refineries such as Ajkai are a worry, even more serious are the hundreds, possibly thousands, of abandoned Communist-era chemical plants and storage ponds, many of them falling under the jurisdiction of no private or public-sector authority, some of them forgotten.

To drive across Bulgaria, for example, is to pass through scores of abandoned Stalinist factory towns, their concrete work yards and high-rise apartments turned into graffiti-pocked ghost towns. Many contain fields and lakes of serious toxins, slowly leaching into the watershed as their containers decompose.

And the Danube nation of Serbia is a particular worry, as it contains hundreds of ex-Yugoslav Communist factories – many abandoned – is not yet a member of the EU, and lacks the financial resources to clean up its industrial ruins.

“I do worry that there could be an even more serious catastrophe out there that we haven’t noticed, waiting to happen,” said Mr. Beckmann of the WWF. “And instead of red sludge, it could end up being cyanide next time.”

More related to this story

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 2nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Under the Patronage of the President of the Republic of Austria – Dr. Heinz Fischer.

With a Honorary Committe that includes Patricia Kahane – President of the Karl Kahane Foundation,  Dr. Michael Hauple – Mayor of Vienna, as well as Former Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister  – Dr. Alois Mock, and famous Austrian artists – Andre Heller and Joseph Hader. Also among others, Rabbi Marc Schneier from the US, Rafi Elul from Israel, Ibrahim Issa from Palestine.

The Conference will deal with Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and the toning down of media that inflames hatred.

The Conference will avoid  touching upon Middle East Conflict Issues in an effort at reaching first mutual understanding before tackling issues on which there can be built an agreement to disagree – and seeing that there are other points of view.

 www.mjconference.org/

THE MUSLIM JEWISH CONFERENCE – VIENNA – AUGUST 1-6, 2010.

«Our first step together creating the power to forge a link between possibility and reality.
Because the pronunciation of our names is no barrier for friendships.»

The first ‘Muslim Jewish Conference’ 2010 is being held in Vienna from the 1st until
the 6th of August. 60 students from all over the world with a common goal of
establishing peaceful relations between both religions will participate. The conference
consists of discussion committees, guest speakers, open dialogue panels and social
events.

The idea for this project was born in Vienna by two Austrian students, Ilja Sichrovsky
and Matthias Gattermeier, due to their experiences at international student
conferences and driven by the desire to create cultural awareness between young
aspiring Jewish and Muslim academics.

Today, the ‘MJC’-committee harbours over 20 volunteers from Asia, the Middle East, Europe and America, including countries like Austria, Israel, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Turkey and the U S. The Assistant Secretary General in charge of the core of 15  volunteers is Ehab Bilal who grew up in Austria, studied in the UK, and is a Muslim of Libyan parentage.

Ilja Sichrovsky, founder and Secretary General of the MJC: “Representing the
University of Vienna at numerous international student conferences, I have
witnessed inevitable misunderstanding and prejudices between young Muslims and
Jews at first hand. The ‘Muslim Jewish Conference’ was called to life, to be the first
step together for young people creating the power to forge a link between possibility
and reality. Because the pronunciation of our names is no barrier for friendships.”

The ‘Muslim Jewish Conference’ is officially endorsed by the ‘United Nations Alliance of Civilisations’ (UNAOC) and the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The project is partly financed by the ‘Karl Kahane Foundation’ as well as by private donors.

Our vision is to make the MJC an annual conference, set up in different countries
each year and to provide a platform for real change in the interaction between
Muslim and Jewish Communities.

The participants represent a new generation of thinkers and upcoming opinion leaders who are connected by their joint believe in a new era of cooperation.

————————————————————————————–
Date: 1. – 6.08.2010
Place: Institute for International Development – University of Vienna
c/o Institute for African Sciences – Campus – AAKH, Hof 5.1
A-1090 Wien
URL: www.mjconference.org

———————————————————————————–

The Organisation Committee:

  • Ilja Sichrovsky – Secretary General
  • Ehab Bilal – Assist. Secretary General
  • Matthias Gattermeier – Logistics, Protocol & Security
  • Fatima Hasanain – Committees & Content
  • Asad Farooq – Organization & Registration
  • Florence Rivero – Organization & Design
  • Yvonne Feiger – Logistics & Fundraising
  • Mustafa Jalil Qureshi – Head of chairs
  • Daniel Gallner – Finance
  • Abdul Niazi – Ambassador for the MJC
  • Stefanie Andruchowitz – Head of Department Support
  • Valerie Prassl – Head Public Relations
  • Akshay Ganju – Chair
  • Eyal Raviv – Chair
  • Magdalena Kloss – Chair

————————————————————————————

When we researched the internet, we found that The Muttahidda Jihad Council (MJC), an alliance of Muslim Kashmiri freedom fighters as they call themselves, or terrorists, as we call them, is what the web knew as MJC before the start of this new Austrian effort. Things get even worse as there are other Abdul Niazi on the web. Whatever, we hope that the Austrian effort grows to become a success and we remember the role Chancellor Kreisky had in starting Israeli-Palestinian negotiations years ago.

Further, Karl Kahane and Bruno Kreisky , with other Kreisky friends, created in 1991 through the Karl Kahane Foundation also the Bruno Kreisky Forum in order to continue the Kreisky’s work on Human Rights, the Middle Eastern Peace Process,  Europe after the Cold War, and other issues close to him – we assume that the powerful ongoing Kreisky Forum had something to do with the organization of this new effort at tackling the Middle East peace process issue from a longer term understanding base.

The involvement of Rabbi Marc Schneier from the US is proof that his three year old  ongoing effort, on which our website reported several times,  of  bringing Jewish and Muslim communities in the US to a closer contact with meetings in homes as well as within religious centers, intended to listen to each others deep concerns rather then professing to shout at each other their frustrations, is part of the concept of the new effort.
 www.karlkahanefoundation.org/inde…

Also, New Generations – Crossing Borders.
In 1994 the Middle East Youth Peace Forum together with the Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue started the project New Generations – Crossing Borders. A group of young Palestinians, Israelis, Jordanians and Austrians met regularly over a period of four years in order to establish personal relations, overcome stereotypes, gain skills in conflict resolution and acquire leadership qualities.

The experiences of the participants were documented in the German/English publication Crossing Borders by Margit Schmidt et al, published by Picus Verlag, Vienna, 1999.

This comes to show that the young may eventually achieve what the older generation was not able to achieve.

??http://www.karlkahanefoundation.org/index.php?36

———————————————————————————-

Jüdisch-muslimisches Treffen.

Von Alexia Weiss -  www.WienerZeitung.at

Aufzählung Muslim Jewish Conference von 1. bis 6. August in Wien.

Wien. 60 muslimische und jüdische Studierende aus aller Welt treffen von 1. bis 6. August in der Uni Wien bei der “Muslim Jewish Conference” (MJC) zusammen. Das Ziel: eine gemeinsame Sprache zu finden und Vorurteile zu überwinden, sagt MJC-Generalsekretär Ilja Sichrovsky. Der 27-Jährige studiert in Wien “Internationale Entwicklung”.

Sichrovsky hat mehrmals an der “World Model United Nations Conference” teilgenommen, bei der eine Uni-Delegation ein Land verkörpert. Dabei ist der Wiener Jude mit muslimischen Studenten in Kontakt gekommen und musste feststellen, dass die Vorurteile auf beiden Seiten groß sind, man aber vieles im intensiven Gespräch ausräumen kann. “Ich habe gemerkt: Wir sind gar nicht so verschieden, wie es uns Medien und auch unsere Eltern zu vermitteln versucht haben.” So kam ihm 2008 erstmals die Idee für die Konferenz.

Gemeinsames Papier

Organisator ist Ehab Bilal (25). Der bekennende, aber nicht streng praktizierende Moslem kommt aus einer libyschen Familie, wuchs in Wien auf und studierte in England. Seit 9/11 hat er das Gefühl, “dass ich schon ein bisschen unterdrückt werde wegen meiner Religion”. Wenn er reise, werde er drei Mal gefragt, mit welchem Ziel er komme. Ihn ärgert, dass wegen einiger Extremisten die gesamte Religion in Verruf kommt.

Zu drei Themen werden die Studenten im August eine gemeinsame Deklaration veröffentlichen:

“Antisemitismus und Islamophobie” – Sichrovsky betont, dass es sich um eine Aufzählung, nicht um eine Gleichstellung beider Begriffe handelt – sowie die Rolle der Bildung und der Medien im Abbau von gegenseitigen Stereotypen.

Der Nahostkonflikt wird beim ersten Mal bewusst ausgeklammert. Man müsse zuerst eine gemeinsame Sprache finden, bevor man ein Thema angehe, “wo man weiß, dass man anderer Meinung ist”, so Sichrovsky.

Die Konferenz wird großteils von der Karl Kahane Foundation finanziert, Bundespräsident Heinz Fischer übernahm den Ehrenschutz. 120 Studenten hatten sich beworben, die besten wurden ausgewählt. Ihr Spektrum reicht von sehr religiös bis säkular.

www.mjconference.org

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 16th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 www.ipiworldcongress.com/singlevi…

INTERNATIONAL PRESS INSTITUTE (IPI)

WORLD CONGRESS – 2010 VIENNA & BRATISLAVA – September 11-14, 2010.

A topic that will be part of a panel discussion:

“Professional Journalism Is Being Devalued Whether We Like It or Not.”

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Jeff Howe, Coiner of the Term ‘Crowdsourcing’, Tells IPI Why Journalists Need To Face up To Change.

Louise Hallman

If history has taught us anything, it has taught us that things change. Ideas that were once innovative become commonplace, taken for granted and eventually obsolete.  Industries emerge, grow and are ultimately forced to adapt or collapse.

If we have seen such change in so many other industries – mining, car-making, banking –should we be surprised to see it happening in the news industry?

Harvard journalism fellow and writer Jeff Howe doesn’t think so – and yet is oft-criticised for his view: “The news industry, too, is subject to the forces of history, just as every other industry is.  Things change. Things fall apart…  Will we still be doing the same things in 50 years? No, because no other industry is going to be the same in 50 years either!  It’s not a radical proposition.”

Nonetheless, news organisations are still grappling with the change thrust upon them by the Internet. Many news outlets are finding themselves forced to make cut-backs to their professional staff.  According to the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism’s annual review of the America media landscape, 5,900 journalists lost their jobs in 2008 alone, more than double the number of 2,400 in 2007.

As news organisations struggle to maintain their position in the industry, executives have turned to much cheaper – or even free – means of creating content.  ‘Crowdsourcing’ – a term coined by Howe in an article for Wired magazine in 2006 – is just one of the latest buzzwords/innovations which media owners hope will provide them with some respite from what some see as an inevitable decline.

Crowdsourcing is, by Howe’s own definition, “the act of taking a job, generally performed by employees, and out-sourcing in the form of an open call to an undefined audience, generally using the Internet. And the crucial terms there are ‘open call’ and ‘undefined’, in that the essence of crowd-sourcing is a recognition that you don’t necessarily know who’s the best person to perform a task, or more to the point a whole collection of people might be able to perform a task.”

Howe’s term – which was invented to cover a whole host of businesses, and not just the news industry – has since taken on a life of its own, covering a multitude of free, collaborative efforts.

Speaking to the International Press Institute (IPI) ahead of his appearance on the panel “Found News? The New Platforms for Delivering Information” at the IPI World Congress in September, Howe stated that in journalism crowdsourcing has two different meanings: ‘reverse-publishing’ or ‘document-dumping’.

Reverse-publishing has been adopted across the media landscape at many different levels; from hyper-local projects such as Glasgow’s Evening Times mini-sites in Scotland, UK, where locals write their stories which if good enough are then published in the daily newspaper, to the likes of CNN’s iReport, where, once verified by a CNN editor, viewers’ own video footage and photographs can be broadcast on the international news channel.

Document-dumping, which is probably closer to Howe’s original notion, has become increasingly common as staff numbers have dwindled at news organisations.  For many newspapers, gone are the days when staff could be allocated enough time to pore over pages and pages of documents for an investigative report.  And in the era of the World Wide Web, why bother, when you can get a team of interested readers to do the work for you?

An example of document-dumping came last summer when, in the wake of the expenses scandal at the Houses of Parliament, the UK-based newspaper The Guardian uploaded 458,832 pages of documents to its website and invited its readers to “join us in digging through the documents of MPs’ expenses to identify individual claims, or documents that you think merit further investigation.”  The “best” individual discoveries were then collated online, enabling the Guardian’s own journalists to follow up and write thorough analyses for the newspaper and its website.  The project is so large that, although it was launched in June 2009, less than half of the documents have been reviewed online so far.

But are all these crowdsourcing efforts devaluing professional journalism?  Although he holds a positive outlook for the future of journalism, Howe agrees.

“Professional journalism is being devalued whether we like it or not,” he told IPI.  “In fact, it’s not as much being devalued as it is being ‘amatuerised’.

“There’s no point in newspapers sticking their heads in the sand and pretending that websites like Associated Content and Examiner.com aren’t out there paying people $1 per article or even using computer algorithms to create news articles … . So whether we like it or not the basic news article has become a commodity, and a really cheap commodity at that.”

However, despite the growing presumption that anyone can write a news story, Howe remains passionate about journalism, and believes there will still be a place for good, solid reporting.

“A good source network is as valuable as it’s ever been,” he said. “An algorithm can’t find a whistleblower within a Verizon or a big pharmaceutical company.”

{my God – how wrong he is, granted the algorithm will not find the whistleblower – neither will the classic newspaper – it is only the internet that can find the whistleblower – this because it is known that a classic newspaper, burdened with financial ties to institutions and businesses, will not publicize what that whistleblower tells them – so he will not tell it to the conventional press. See this at the UN – it is only the few bloggers left in the house of the UN that get the real scoops – not any kind of major Press does it!}

Among the most radical of Howe’s views is the belief that in the not so distant future, the term ‘journalist’ may have ceased to exist.

“To tell you the truth, and I know it’ll sound pretty radical to a bunch of journalists, but I think we do ourselves a disservice by calling ourselves ‘journalists’,” he said.

“People who can access information that other people can’t access, that other people are willing to pay for, and if they can compose it in a fashion that is entertaining, illuminating, compelling – those people are always going to find work.  We can call it journalism, but I don’t know for how much longer – maybe the next 40 years we’ll still have something call journalism…

“I just think we can love and admire what is at the heart of journalism without being beholden to the word, which is to say we’re beholden to a set of conventions… We really get lost in the name. We all decide that we’re going to adhere to the conventions instead of what is at the root of those conventions, which is the idea that truly being the Fourth Estate, serving the public interest, creating beautiful things like bits of prose and beautiful video and audio, educating people and making their lives more interesting and richer – that’s what we should be worried about!”

Perhaps he’s right.  If the root of the conventions stays the same, perhaps the term by which we refer to those who adhere to those conventions will change. After all, the term ‘journalism’ only dates back to the 1800s, but newspapers have existed in some format for over 1000 years, with the bulletins in Roman times and 7th century China. Even the term ‘newspaper’ only dates back to the 1600s. Who knows what we will be calling ourselves in 25, 50, 100 or 500 years?

But in the shorter term, as the editors, publishers and leading journalists of today gather in Vienna in September for the IPI World Congress, to debate whether we are losing the news, Howe is hoping for one thing: “Knowledge transfer. One thing alone, it would be great to get Americans to realize that newspapers are flourishing in countries like India!

“Are we losing the news? I don’t know, but hopefully people will come to a Congress like this and realize that the answer is very complex.”

Jeff Howe is a contributing editor at Wired Magazine, where he covers the media and entertainment industry, among other subjects. In 2006, he published “The Rise of Crowdsourcing” in Wired. He is also a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and teaches a course entitled “The Independent Journalist in the Digital Age”.  Howe will appear on the “Found News? The New Platforms for Delivering Information” panel in September alongside Hannes Ametsreiter, CEO of Telekom Austria Group, Josh Cohen, Senior Business Product Manager at Google News and Rajesh Kalra, Chief Editor at Times Internet Ltd in India.  The panel will be moderated by Errol Barnett, presenter of CNN’s iReport.

—————-

That was then

Photo: Reuters / Reuters Newsroom (1950)

This is change if the old media likes it or not. In the end the computers win over the typewriters – we bet!

This is now

Photo: Reuters / Reuters newsroom in London (2007)


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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 2nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

New pact to let European public track pollutants.

The 17 states that have ratified the Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers are: Albania, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland. The European Commission is also a party.

—–

GENEVA (Reuters) – Friday, July 2, 2010 – European citizens will be able to find out what dangerous substances are emitted in their neighborhoods under an environmental treaty to go into effect in 17 countries in October, the United Nations said on Friday.

Participating states will have to issue public inventories of major pollutants that their industries, traffic, agriculture and enterprises spew into the air, soil and water, including greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

Some 86 categories of substances — ranging from mercury and other heavy metals, benzine, asbestos, pesticides including DDT, and dioxins — are covered under the pact.

“These inventories are made available to the public over the Internet and generally also through a downloadable map that helps people identify major pollutants that are traveling through their neighborhoods to discover what is in their backyard …,” Michael Stanley-Jones, an environmental expert at the U.N. Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), told reporters.

“It doesn’t cover all chemicals, but it does cover the major releases of chemicals,” he said.

The pact, signed in 2003 by 36 countries, enters into force on October 8 after being ratified recently by a 17th country (France), according to the Geneva-based agency. It is open to all U.N. member states for ratification.

“It is truly a global instrument, part of a global movement initiated in the 1980s after the major accidents in Bhopal and Chernobyl,” said Stanley-Jones.

A catastrophic industrial accident in central India killed nearly 8,000 people in 1984 when tons of toxic gas leaked from a pesticide plant of Union Carbide, a subsidiary of Dow Chemical Co, the largest U.S. chemical maker.

The Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine in 1986, the world’s worst civil nuclear accident, sent radiation over most of Europe.

The protocol to the 2001 Aarhus Convention enables citizens to voice concern over pollution to industry or regulators.

“As the major greenhouse gas pollutants are included in the protocol, this will give decision-makers and the public powerful new tools for identifying the major industrial sources of greenhouse gas emissions,” Stanley-Jones said.

“Major exceptions are for national security (facilities) and also the nuclear industry — radioactive substances are not covered by the protocol,” he said, noting that countries may add further substances and facilities to their national registers.

Countries outside of Europe, including Chile and Mexico, have developed their own registers and China’s industrial region of Shanghai is also drawing one up, according to the expert.

The 17 states that have ratified the Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers are: Albania, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland. The European Commission is also a party.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 25th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Header

Freedom of The Media in a ‘News-for-Free’ Age.

Josh Cohen, Google News

Google News & The Race Down the Information Highway. In this week’s newsletter, we bring you an interview with two of our panellists Josh Cohen, Senior Business Product Manager at Google News and Susan Pointer, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations for Southern and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Google. Cohen will be featuring on our “Found News? The New Platforms for Delivering Information” panel.

Susan Pointer, Google

We asked him and Pointer about Google News’ and Google’s role in the media as well as its commitment to freedom of information.

Here are a few of the highlights:

Cohen, on the perceived clash between Google News and newspaper publishers:

It’s a misunderstanding of how Google News works. We absolutely do not see publishers as competitors to what we’re trying to do. To the contrary, it’s very much a symbiotic relationship. We help people discover the information that all these sites produce… where they have the opportunity to monetise it.

…We absolutely honour and respect copyright. We never show, whether it’s on news or a web search, anything more than a snippet, the first sentence or in many cases the headline – and a link to the source itself.

————————————————

Pointer, on Google’s role in censorship:

We believe that more access to information is better than less access to information… Access to information is a good thing. Freedom to express oneself and exchange ideas and content is a good thing.

That obviously doesn’t come without limits.

———————————————–

What do you think?

Is Google a help or a hindrance to newspapers? Is it aiding or stifling freedom of expression?  Read the rest of our feature here, and share your views through Twitter, Facebook and our comments page.

And don’t forget to join us in September at our World Congress in Vienna and Bratislava!

Haven’t registered yet?

It’s not too late. Register before 1 July and you’ll save money on our registration fee, and get the best hotel rates and a free, signed copy of our commemorative 60 World Press Freedom Heroes book. Check out the benefits with our latest offer here.

Ways to Register

Give us a call and we will take care of your registration for you!
Phone: + 431 512  90 11

Download the form, fill it in and send it back to us.
Fax: + 431-512 90 14    Email: cklint(at)freemedia.at

Or simply click here and register online!

Questions?

Contact us:
Tel: +43 1 512 90 11    Fax: + 43 1 512 90 14   E: ipi(at)freemedia.at

Web: www.ipiworldcongress.com & www.freemedia.at

Twitter: IPI_WoCo2010 & globalfreemediaFacebook

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 5th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Thursday, 04 March 2010

IPI to Hold 60th Anniversary World Congress in Vienna and Bratislava

Thinking the Unthinkable: Are We Losing the News?

The International Press Institute (IPI) will hold its annual World Congress in Vienna, Austria, and Bratislava, Slovakia, from 11-14 September 2010, the organisation today officially announced.

The 2010 World Congress will mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of IPI, and the organisation will celebrate 60 years of defending press freedom in a series of events, culminating in the World Congress in the “twin cities” of Vienna and Bratislava. Under the overall theme, “Thinking the Unthinkable: Are We Losing the News? (Media Freedom in the New Media Landscape),” the three-day conference will focus attention on the state of the news media itself, providing new business models and solutions for the media, and the unique opportunity to meet and interact with major players from both traditional and new media outlets.

The Congress will also look at the new ways of delivering information and how new technologies are proving to be a powerful ally of freedom of opinion and expression.

“The new information platforms are having an enormous impact not only on mainstream journalism, but also on press freedom in countries where authoritarian regimes seek to curtail freedom of opinion and expression,” said IPI Director David Dadge.

At a special Gala Dinner and Ceremony, to be held at Vienna City Hall, IPI will honour “60 World Press Freedom Heroes” to commemorate the 60 years of its existence. IPI’s Press Freedom Heroes are individuals who have made a significant contribution to the defence and promotion of press freedom, especially – but not only – if this involved acts of resistance or bravery under hardship conditions. “We will pay tribute to these brave men and women, who displayed the utmost courage in defending press freedom in their country or region,” said Dadge. “Many of them paid the ultimate price, murdered for what they wrote or said.” IPI intends to invite all surviving Heroes to the ceremony in Vienna.

For the first time, IPI will also hold – parallel to the Congress – a “New Media & High-Tech Innovations Exhibition”, showcasing the latest in new media technologies and information platforms.

The Congress programme features a roster of world-class speakers, including Alex Jones, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and director of the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government; Jeff Howe, contributing editor at Wired Magazine and author of the best-selling book, “Crowdsourcing”; Jim VandeHei, co-founder and executive editor of the influential Politico website; Martin Figueiredo, publisher and editor-in-chief of i Daily in Portugal; Guy Black, executive director of the Telegraph Media Group in the United Kingdom; Alexandra Föderl-Schmid, editor-in-chief of Der Standard in Austria; Sarah Montague, presenter, BBC, London, and many more. The event is expected to draw over 400 participants and their guests from around the world.

Confirmed partners for the Congress are: Google; OMV; Samsung; Telekom Austria Group; City of Vienna; Twin City Liner; and Austrian Airlines, as official carrier.

IPI’s media partners for the Congress are: ORF; Der Standard & APA.

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