links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic
SustainabiliTank

 
 
Follow us on Twitter


 
Slovenia:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 7th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

 

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.

 ————————————

———————————-

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.

——————————–

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.

———————————

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.

————————–

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?

———————————–

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.

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 3rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

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.

——————————————–

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.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 26th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

There are many positive sides to mingling through migration and it must be understood that those that think border crossings are meant only for transporting goods but not allowing it for people and ideas are all wrong.

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

 

International conference on migration and development in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

  • December 16, 2013

On 5th and 6th of December 2013, international conference on migration and development Developing developers: Migrants as development actors – A new way forward including international partnership fair Bridging the gap have been organized in the City Museum Ljubljana. The conference was attended by experts as speakers – both from governmental and from non-governmental sector – in the field of migration policy and development cooperation from Austria, Belgium, Ghana, Italy, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United Kingdom. The conference have been opened by the speeches of Michael Fanizadeh, VIDC – Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation, Austria (project coordinators) and Slovenian actors: Dragoljuba Ben?ina, Directorate for Global Issues and Multilateral Political Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Slovenia; Marjan Hu?, SLOGA – Slovenian Global Action and Max Zimani, Zavod Global.

At the following panel, Gibril Faal, active in organizations Afford – African Foundation for Development and AEP – Africa-Europe Platform, United Kingdom spoken of migrants as development actors, Charito Basa, founder and activist of non-government organisation FWC – Filipino Women’s Council, Italy presented the engagement of the organization and the hard way immigrants generally have to go through, Angela Odai from the diaspora Support Unit, Ghana presented functioning of that government organization that provides assistance to the Ghanaian diaspora around the world .

In the afternoon hours, common partnership fair followed, bringing together participant of the conference and those of the Regional seminar on global learning, organized by SLOGA.

The second day of the conference, Nadja Schuster, VIDC – Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation, Austria and Galya Terzieva, Society Development Institute, Slovakia presented the European Manifesto on Migration and Development, a strategic document that contains recommendations for improving the understanding of the concept of development cooperation and migration as a key element in this concept. Comments to the Manifesto have been contributed by Arthur Yenga, AEP – Africa -Europe Platform, Belgium. At the workshops which followed, participants could contribute comments and opinions to refine the Manifesto, which later was adopted, but now its promotion and attempt to force in all European countries is planned and desirable.

 —————————-

Diaspora-Engagement: Best Practice Beispiele in der kommunalen und nationalen Entwicklungspolitik, Rathaus Wien, 11. Februar 2014

Positionspapier Migration & Entwicklung

Dokumentationen

—————————-

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 4th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

March 3, 2013

Populists or Business (Banking) Lobbyists?

The public media and European mainstream parties’ politicians are unisono lamenting the rise of populism as manifested by the strong showing of Beppe Grillo in Italy’s parliamentary election last weekend. They decry, as they did earlier in the case of Greece, when the “populist” Syriza party nearly won the election, the irresponsibility, the negativism, the “against-it-all” attitude of these parties’ leaders. Let us add to these election results the street demonstrations and battles in Greece, in Spain, in Portugal, in Bulgaria, in Slovenia – all these before the background of people jumping to death from windows of their to-be-repossessed apartments, of soup kitchens, of soaring unemployment rates (especially, and even more tragically, of the young), and of the horrifying increase in poverty rates in many of these and other countries.

It does seem, that in spite of these politicians’ lamentoes, that European citizens are no longer accepting the crisis resolution policies imposed on them by politicians – at the bidding of financial markets. Yes, Mario Monti, the unelected and now defeated prime minister, managed to calm “market fears”, yes, Mario Draghi, the ECB president, managed to do the same – and more – by last fall promising to “do everything necessary” to enable European states’ return to the financial markets, yes, some of the Southern states (plus Ireland) were able during the past months to place bond auctions at “sustainable” yields (i.e. below the benchmark of 6%). But the concomitant “aid programs” by the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund, the dreaded “troika” are what the restive populations are no longer willing to swallow. Since governments took over bank debt, the citizens have been called upon to foot the bill, by having their taxes increased, government expenditures, especially social expenditures, cut and losing their jobs as a result of the persistent recession which these programs (and the similar, if less stringent “debt brake” conditions imposed on all EU countries. There is already talk about a “lost decade” for Europe.

With all this austerity (which is portrayed as without alternative) it is completely unclear where future growth should come from even after this decade. The mainstream recipe that balanced budgets (and their corresponding structural reforms) guarantee growth has been proven false, not only in theory, but also in empirical practice. If the second largest economic block in the world (with about 18 trillion $ in GDP, about one fourth of the world economy) reduces public sector demand in addition to falling demand in the private sector, this affects the whole world. This is different from the frequently cited more recent cases, where one individual country managed to export its way out of recession, when all other countries were growing and thus increasing their demand.

In this situation, the EU parliament has achieved a spectacular success, by agreeing (also with EU Finance Ministers) to limit bankers’ bonus payments to 100% of base salary (in exceptional cases to 200%). This is part of a hard-fought package setting new rules for European banks’ equity and liquidity requirements. There are widespread “populism” cries by especially English bankers, but also their colleagues around Europe that this would drive out banking from Europe, that this is a Continental coup to transfer banking business from London to Paris or Frankfurt (??), that this is “unfair”. The more sanguine bankers say (see eg. Financial Times March 2, 2013) that this just means that their base salary will have to be doubled as a consequence. Tory MPs are fuming and using this as an additional argument that the UK should leave the EU as soon as possible. Of course, they do not mention the fact that it was their leader, David Cameron, who pulled the Tories out of the European Peoples’ Party group, which – in the form of the Austrian Othmar Karas – was leading the negotiations of the European Parliament with the Finance Ministers. They also forget to mention that banking lobbies (led by the English) have delayed and watered down the other parts of the Banking package to be concluded.

The Greek and Italian elections, the street protests, the events in many other European countries should lead to a realization by the EU policy makers, both in the Central Bank, in the Commission and in the Council, that it is not just “clowns” (@ Peer Steinbruck, the Social Democratic candidate for the German premiership) who say “no more” to this oppressive economic policy recipe, but it is large parts of the European populations who have not only lost confidence that these recipes will work, but actively are against them – because they see that as in the Great Depression of the late 1920s – they lead to impoverishment and political disaster. Politicians should listen more closely to their populations, and less to the financial sector lobbyists, who have caused this crisis and refuse to play their part in shouldering their part of the burden. It was the lobbyists’ close connection to the politicians who made banking debts into government debt, it was their whisperings which had told politicians fairy tales about the financial markets being the most efficient markets in the world, thus self-regulation and “light-touch” regulation was all that was needed.

What are the alternatives?

The primary policy objective should not be to “return countries to financial markets’ access”, but to have indebted states return to a sustainable economic and social policy path which improves the welfare of their populations. To this end, government debt financing should be taken away from financial markets and turned over to a publicly accountable public institutions (the ECB or the ESM with a banking licence).

As far as bank debt is concerned, a European plan must be developed with a medium-term view of how the European Financial sector should look like in 10-20 years. This would counter-act the present “re-nationalization” trends where every country attempts to save its banks (frequently at the expense of others) at high costs to the taxpayers. Some banks will need to be closed, others restructured, and effective regulation set up. It is clear that (some) debts will need to be repaid, but much of bank debt should be paid by bank owners and their bondholders, not by taxpayers. For highly indebted bank sectors, a European bank resolution fund could take over some of the debt.

It is true that a number of “problem countries” in the EU have pursued wrong policies in the past, e.g. waste of public (EU and national) funds, neglect of innovation and R&D policies, high military expenditures, neglect of industrial policies, neglect of modern education systems, neglect of building up sustainable energy systems (both on the supply and demand side), and many more. Each country needs to develop a positive vision of where it wants to stand in 10 years’ time, and then select the appropriate instruments, and convince its EU partners of its way.
The major political task will be to convince the populations that there is light at the end of the tunnel, that some sacrifices are necessary, but that these will be distributed equitably, that there are positive prospects for this and the next generation, that the social system will cushion the inevitable burdens. To generate the confidence that “we are all in this together” will not be credible, if voiced by those politicians who have gotten us (knowingly or unknowingly) into the present mess. This is the task for new, and credible politicians who not only know what possible alternatives are, but can also muster enough support, both political and technical, from the populations who voted for them. This may and will require new communication methods – as they have been employed during the recent elections.

At a European level, a new more comprehensive economic policy umbrella must be opened. The nearly exclusive attention to budget consolidation was geared to placating the financial markets – who also are getting cold feet seeing what “their” policies do to growth (see the most recent downgrade of the UK). It must throw off the yoke of financial market dictate and turn itself to strengthening the European model, with a view to balance social, economic and environmental requirements for the future.

European civil society is growing together. Public institutions, like the labor movement, are not. In the face of the crisis, labor unions are re-nationalizing, attempting to save jobs for their own members at the expense of their foreign colleagues. They should learn from the business lobby, which has been much more successful in convincing European and national policy makers of their own interests.

###

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

His Holiness Meets the Austrian Chancellor, attends a Science Symposium and the European Rally for Tibet.

May 27th 2012     –     from   www.dalailama.com

———–

The 14th Dalai Lama mid-May 2012 Europe-trip took him to the UK (where he received The Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities – in front of 2000 people at the St. Paul Cathedral in London and met in private with the Prime Minister and his Deputy), Slovenia, Belgium, and Austria (where he was received by two States – Koernten and Salzberg, and in private by the Federal Chancellor and the Vice Chancellor).

* * * *  This was added by Pincas Jawetz

———-

Vienna, Austria, 26 May 2012 – The sun shone and a small crowd of well-wishers smiled warmly as His Holiness arrived opposite St Stephen’s Cathedral to be met by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the Archbishop of Vienna. They were almost immediately joined by the Austrian Chancellor, Werner Faymann and the three went into a meeting together.

Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn in Vienna, Austria, on May 26, 2012. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHD

Standing at a balcony window nearby, Cardinal Schönborn took the opportunity to explain some of the restoration work that has been taking place at St Stephen’s, the most important religious building in Vienna, before the bells rang out calling him back to the cathedral. His Holiness and the Chancellor continued to discuss matters of mutual concern.

Next, His Holiness drove to the University of Vienna to attend a symposium on Buddhism and Science: Mind & Matter – New Models of Reality, where he was welcomed by the Rector of the University, Heinz Engl.

Describing it as a great honour for him to participate in the discussions, His Holiness noted that towards the end of the last century, scientists had begun to take a serious interest in the workings of our minds and emotions. He said he had been fascinated by how things work since he was a child and learned a great deal about how electricity functions from investigating the movie projector and generator that had belonged to the 13th Dalai Lama.

About 40 years ago he began to learn about cosmology, neuropsychology and quantum physics and for nearly 30 years has been conducting regular dialogues with scientists. The purpose of these dialogues is, firstly, to extend human knowledge, not only in the material field, but also the inner space of our minds, and, secondly, through exploring such phenomena as a calm mind, to promote human happiness.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama and fellow panelists during the symposium on Buddhism and science “Mind and Matter – New Models of Reality” at the University of Vienna, in Vienna, Austria, on May 26, 2012. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
With Mr Gert Scobel moderating, Prof Dr Anton Zeilinger, Prof Dr Klaus-Dieter Mathes, Dr Patrizia Giampieri-Deutsch made their presentations, which explored aspects of quantum physics, Madhyamaka philosophy and psychoanalysis.

His Holiness hosted a lunch at his hotel for all the speakers that was also attended by Kalon Tripa, Dr Lobsang Sangay, social and human rights activist Bianca Jagger, former French Foreign Minister and co-founder of Médecins Sans Frontières, Bernard Kouchner and other friends who were in Vienna to attend the European Rally for Tibet. In the afternoon session of the Science symposium, Prof Dr Michael von Brück and Prof Dr Wolf Singer gave informative presentations on how the mind understands the structure of reality and the search for neuronal correlates of consciousness.

As the symposium came to an end, His Holiness expressed his appreciation, “Over the 30 or 40 years that I have been acquainted with scientists, I have noticed how many of them are acutely aware of the limitations of their knowledge. It is a good quality to recognise that our scope for learning is vast. They display an open-mindedness that is really admirable.”

A memorandum of co-operation was signed between Prof Geshe Ngawang Samten, Director and Vice Chancellor of the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies in Sarnath, Varanasi, India and the Rector of Vienna University, Heinz Engl, providing for an exchange of students and scholars of the two institutions. Geshe Tenzin Dhargye, Director of the Tibet Center that has organized the various functions His Holiness has attended in Austria on this visit, offered his thanks to His Holiness and everyone who has participated.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama greeting the crowd of over 10,000 at the European Solidarity Rally for Tibet at the Vienna Heldenplatz in Vienna, Austria, on May 26, 2012. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
In the warm, late afternoon, His Holiness drove to Vienna’s Heldenplatz where 10,000 people had assembled for the European Solidarity Rally for Tibet. Addressing his dear brothers and sisters in the crowd, he told them how happy he was to be there and that he would like to first say a few words in Tibetan to the Tibetans present.

“Our culture is under threat of destruction, therefore I want to take this opportunity to speak my own language. Archaeological findings indicate that Tibetan history dates back 3-4000 years. We Tibetans must not forget our identity, for our blood, flesh and bones come from Tibet. Since the 7th century we have employed the Tibetan written language in which the most complete and thorough translations have been made of Buddhist knowledge from the original Sanskrit. This is a treasure for the world, not only for Tibetans. And when we talk about preserving Tibetan Buddhist culture, I don’t mean just paying respects before a Buddhist image, but putting the teachings into practice and trying to live as good human beings.”

He talked about the urgent need to protect the Tibetan environment, which because it is the source of many of the rivers that run through Asia is of value not only to Tibetans but millions of others too. He expressed the fear that once environmental damage has taken place it will take a great deal of time to recover. Distinguishing Buddhist religion, which is the business of Buddhist practitioners, from Buddhist culture, which, as a culture of peace, honesty and compassion, is worth preserving for the good of the world.

Meanwhile, millions of Chinese are already showing interest in Tibetan Buddhist culture. His Holiness stressed that the damage and destruction of Tibetan Buddhist culture that has taken place was not because Tibetans were not interested, but because of the difficult political circumstances in which they find themselves.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at the European Solidarity Rally for Tibet at the Vienna Heldenplatz in Vienna, Austria, on May 26, 2012. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

“Because of our Buddhist culture we are committed to the principle of non-violence. We are an example of a small community who have remained dedicated to pursuing our struggle through non-violent means, which is why your support is so extremely valuable and I want to tell you how much I appreciate it.

“Finally, I see how many of you are waving the Tibetan flag. Chinese hard-liners often refer to our flag as a symbol of splittist tendencies, but I want to tell you that when I was in China 1954-55, I met Chairman Mao Zedong and other leaders on several occasions. Once, Chairman Mao asked me, ‘Do you have a flag?’ I hesitantly answered, ‘Yes,’ and his reply was to say, ‘Good, it is important that you keep this flag and fly it next to the red flag of China. So I feel I received permission then to fly this flag from Chairman Mao himself.”

Tomorrow afternoon, following a meeting with the press to highlight inter-religious harmony and several private meetings during the morning, His Holiness will board a flight from Vienna to return to India.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 8th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Dear colleagues,

Every individual must act as if the whole future of the world, of humanity itself, depends on him. (Joseph Weizenbaum)

‘Rio+20 Global Youth Music Contest’ initiative will be presented on Thursday 8th December 2011 from 11:00am to 11:20am in the framework of a mini side event at the “Climate Change Studio” at Durban Exhibition Centre (DEC) during the COP17.

The Rio+20 Global Youth Music Contest is a global competition for young people organized by the International Association for the Advancement of Innovative Approaches to Global Challenges (IAAI) wide number of partners and youth networks from around the world on the occasion of United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) which will be held in June 2012 in Brazil.

Rio+20 Global Youth Music Contest has a team of seven young representatives attending the 17th Conference Of Parties (COP17) at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), taking place from 28 November to 9 December in Durban, South Africa.

Related IAAI and Rio+20 Global Youth Music Contest documents and activities:

•   Rio+20 GYMC Call for Music and further info in several languages (English, German, Arabic, Chinese, etc.) www.glocha.info/index.php/riogymcresources

•   Report on presentation of Rio+20 GYMC at UN High Level Meeting on Youth 25 July 2011, New York www.glocha.info/index.php/latest-news/137-rio-2012-youth-song

•   Rio+20 GYMC letter to UN SG Ban Ki-moon www.glocha.info/images/stories/rio/group_statement_mr_ban_ki-moon.pdf

•   IAAI Input to Online Consultation for Rio+20 Zero Draft Outcome document www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/index.php page=view&nr=105&type=510&menu=20&template=509&str=IAAI

•   IAAI side event “Mobilizing Civil Society for Sustainable Development and Rio+20 & The Special Role of Youth” at 2nd Rio+20 Intersessional Meeting New York City 15 December 2011  1.15-2.45 PM www.glocha.info/index.php/latest-news/174-joint-event-of-iaai-and-unicef-at-rio20-intersessional-in-ny

——————

Jean Paul Brice Affana
Coordinator, Rio+20 Global Youth Music Contest
P.O. Box: 20387 Yaoundé, Cameroon |
Email:  JeanPaul at glocha.info  | Website: www.glocha.info

Miroslav Polzer
Secretary General, International Association for the Advancement of Innovative Approaches to Global Challenges IAAI
Address: Dunajska 104, SI-1000 Ljubljana/Slovenia,
Email: polzer@glocha.info website: www.glocha.info

###

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

This posting is a work in progress and its main intention is to point out for now the particular event with Umberto Echo, to be held at the Burgtheater, Vienna, on the night of Wednesday, October 19, 2011.

Also, I want to put on notice our readers that having seen tonight the latest play by Peter Handke, I feel a relationship between the play and the Umbert Eco novel which I am sure has in it material that will eventually have it produced as a play as well. I would not be surprised if the two plays will not eventually be seen as complimentary to each other. In the meantime – I will just say that for 2011, it is Handke’s play that might be the most significant production of this season in the Vienna theaters, and the Umberto Eco book presentation the most important all around literary event of the year

Umberto Eco is one of the world’s best selling authors due to his novel The Prague Cemetery – published in October 2010. The book is a worldwide bestseller (being the best selling book in Italy, Spain, Argentina, Mexico and others) that sold millions of copies as of 2010 – now, a year since the first publication in Italian, we will hear him in Vienna release the German translation.

The characters of this novel are not imaginary. Except the main character who is imaginary so the plot can evolve,  all others lived in reality and include – Sigmund FreudLéo TaxilDiana VaughanEugène Sue and Maurice Joly, as well as Umberto Eco’s own grandfather – that gave a mysterious message to abbot Barruelo that gave rise to all modern anti-Semitism”. These were the the forgery known as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion that inspired Hitler’s extermination of the Jews.

Eco deals with the Dreyfus affair and endless intrigue spun by the secret police of different countries, the Masons,  Jesuit plots, and other events whose accuracy can’t ever be authenticated, but that serve as fodder for feuilletons 150 years later.

CementeryOfPrague.jpg

Eco, as philosopher, is intrigued by the vision of things – real and fake and the potential strength of the untrue. We see how history is affected by the untrue. It took Eco six years to release this work – six years since his 2004 book “The Secret Flame of Queen Loana.”

In “The Cemetery of Prague” the fictitious central figure is Captain Simone Simonini who does an archaeologists work, as if he were using tiny brushes to release the memory from the debris that stuck to it.

The Burgtheater event includes a podium discussion with Alexandra Foederl-Schmid of Der Standard and Michael Kerbler of Oe1 – Austrian TV – that promises wide media coverage.
Also, reading from the book will be done by Peter Matic whose voice is fabulous and he, having been a Burgtheater actor is also famous for Ben Kingsley’s voice on German speaking TV.

The Peter Handke play is done like a dream with memories drifting from above like leaves falling from a tree and with reality and photo-memories intermingling so that Hanke’s stand in just moves in and out from the pictures of the past. What evolves from all of this is the story of a Slovenian family from Kernten State in the South of Austria and the neighboring Balkan States starting with pre-WWII and moving through the third Reich into the following Jugoslav State. The play is hard and in order to do it justice I got the text and will follow up in depth.

But, before I close this first piece, I must note the terrific and maddening Balkan dance of the whole family – those that were still around and the dead ones – affirming their personality – or if you wish their cultural identity – or even a form of Nationalism. From that moment it went down-hill sadness and resignation with the fate.

One more comment – and this in private to Flora who saw the Handke play. If you read this – please go to the Umberto Eco event as well to try to view this as a follow up.

Immer noch Sturm



###

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

Zum Zustand der ungarischen Demokratie.- Ungarische Sackgassensozialisten.

by Mario Schwaiger

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Man wird standhaft bleiben und die Gesetze respektieren.

Spätestens 2014 muss Premier Orbán seine Rechnung begleichen!

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

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

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

———————————————————————————–

References:

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

###

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

We were informed of a Press Briefing

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

Adaptation to Climate Change by Spatial Planning in the Alps.

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

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

Rosario Bento Pais
DG Climate Action, European Commission

Andre Jol
Head of vulnerability group, European Environment Agency

Marco Onida
Secretary General, Alpine Convention

George Reberning
Managing Director, Federal Environment Agency Austria

————-

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

Climate Change Adaptation by Spatial Planning in the Alpine Space.

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

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

—————————————————————

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

——————————

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

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

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

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

###

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—–

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

—–

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

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

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

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

—–

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

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

###

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

———————-

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

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

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

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

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

###

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

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

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

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

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

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

—————————

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

————————-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—————————-

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 8th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

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.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 17th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 23rd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

87 states join forces to fight antisemitism and Holocaust denial.

21 July 2010
The cooperation agreement between the ITF and the ODIHR gives an enormous boost to Holocaust remembrance and the fight against antisemitism.


www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/About+the+Ministry/MFA+Spokesman/2010/Cooperation_agreement_signed_Holocaust_remembrancae_fight_against_antisemitism_21-Jul-2010.htm

This morning (21 July 2010), a cooperation agreement between the ITF (Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research) and the ODIHR (Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights) was signed at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem, in the presence of Deputy FM Daniel Ayalon.

The ODIHR – Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights – is an operative branch of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe).

This year, Israel was chosen for the first time to head the ITF. Under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, an agreement was signed today that boosts the strength of the forces in the global arena fighting against antisemitism and Holocaust denial.

The agreement will bring about cooperation among 87 countries.

ITF Chairman Dan Tichon – an Israeli – and ODIHR Director Janez Lenarcic – a Slovenian – signed the memorandum of understanding. DFM Ayalon welcomed the signing of the agreement and said that it gives an enormous boost to the fight against the delegitimization of Israel and antisemitism in the world, bringing 87 states for the first time into cooperation. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has acted, and will continue to act, against these manifestations of hate and will promote any initiative whose purpose is to eliminate them. Ayalon added that there are elements that deny the Holocaust and are preparing the next one. We must preserve the memory of the Holocaust so that similar horrors and hatred will never be repeated and the world will become a safer place.

The ITF was founded about ten years ago at the initiative of the Swedish government. Israel is heading the task force this year, with Mr. Dan Tichon, past Speaker of the Knesset, serving as the chairman and Ambassador Yakov Rozen as the political coordinator. The ITF, which has as its purpose the preservation of Holocaust remembrance through education, research and memorial sites, currently has 27 members, mostly European, and sees the cooperation agreement as very important.

The ODIHR, which has 57 members, deals with educational programs and follows up on instances of xenophobic, primarily antisemitic, hatred. For this reason, the cooperation agreement is likely to help promote Holocaust remembrance, including the uniqueness of the Holocaust, and the fight against antisemitism.

Ambassador Janez Lenarcic is a senior diplomat who in the past was advisor to the prime minister of Slovenia.

The ODIHR joins six other organizations belonging to the Task Force whose representatives serve as observers: the UN, DPI, UNESCO, the EU, FRA, and the European Council.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 10th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Verónica Michelle Bachelet Jeria (Spanish pronunciation: [mi?t?el ?at?e?let]; born September 29, 1951) is a moderate socialist politician who was President of Chile from 11 March 2006 to 11 March 2010—the first woman president in the country’s history.

She won the 2006 presidential election in a runoff, beating center-right US dollar billionaire businessman and former senator Sebastián Piñera with 53.5% of the vote.

She campaigned on a platform of continuing Chile’s free-market policies, while increasing social benefits to help reduce the gap between rich and poor, one of the largest in the world.

Bachelet, a pediatrician and epidemiologist with studies in military strategy, served as Health Minister and Defense Minister under President Ricardo Lagos.

Bachelet is the second child of archaeologist Ángela Jeria Gómez and Air Force Brigadier General Alberto Bachelet Martínez.

Facing growing food shortages, the government of Salvador Allende placed Bachelet’s father in charge of the Food Distribution Office. When General Augusto Pinochet came to power in the September 11, 1973 coup, General Bachelet, refusing exile, was detained at the Air War Academy under charges of treason. Following months of daily torture at Santiago’s Public Prison, on March 12, 1974, he suffered a cardiac arrest that resulted in his death. On January 10, 1975, Bachelet and her mother were detained at their apartment by two DINA agents, who blindfolded them and drove them to Villa Grimaldi, a notorious secret detention center in Santiago, where they were separated and submitted to interrogation and torture.[13] Some days later they were transferred to Cuatro Álamos (“Four Poplars”) detention center, where they were held until the end of January. Later in 1975, thanks to sympathetic connections in the military, both were exiled to Australia, where Bachelet’s older brother Alberto had moved in 1969.

Her paternal great-great-grandfather, Louis-Joseph Bachelet Lapierre, was a French wine merchant from Chassagne-Montrachet who emigrated to Chile with his Parisian wife, Françoise Jeanne Beault, in 1860 hired as a wine-making expert by the Subercaseaux vineyards in southern Santiago.

In February 1979, Bachelet returned to Santiago, Chile from East Germany. Her medical school credits from the GDR were not transferred, forcing her to resume her studies from where she had left off before fleeing the country. [citation needed] She graduated as M.D. on January 7, 1983. She wished to work in the public sector wherever attention was most needed, applying for a position as general practitioner; her petition was, however, rejected by the military government on “political grounds.” Instead, because of her academic performance and published papers, she earned a scholarship to specialize in pediatrics and public health at Roberto del Río Children’s Hospital (1983–1986). During this time she also worked at PIDEE (Protection of Children Injured by States of Emergency Foundation), a non-governmental organization helping children of the tortured and missing in Santiago and Chillán. She was head of the foundation’s Medical Department between 1986 and 1990. Some time after her second child with Dávalos, Francisca Valentina, was born in February 1984, she and her husband legally separated. She is a separated mother of three and describes herself as an agnostic.

In 1990, after democracy was restored in Chile, Bachelet worked for the Ministry of Health’s West Santiago Health Service and was a consultant for the Pan-American Health Organization, the World Health Organization and the German Corporation for Technical Cooperation.

Driven by an interest in civil-military relations, in 1996 Bachelet began studies in military strategy at the National Academy for Strategic and Policy Studies (Anepe) in Chile, obtaining first place in her class.[2] Her student achievement earned her a presidential scholarship, permitting her to continue her studies in the United States at the Inter-American Defense College in Washington, D.C., completing a Continental Defense Course in 1998. That same year she returned to Chile to work for the Defense Ministry as Senior Assistant to the Defense Minister. She subsequently graduated from a Master’s program in military science at the Chilean Army‘s War Academy.

In 1996 Bachelet ran against future presidential adversary Joaquín Lavín for the mayorship of Las Condes, a wealthy Santiago suburb and a right-wing stronghold. Lavín won the 22-candidate election with nearly 78% of the vote, while she finished fourth at 2.35%. At the 1999 presidential primary of Coalition of Parties for Democracy (CPD), Chile’s governing coalition since 1990, she worked for Ricardo Lagos’s nomination, heading the Santiago electoral zone.

On March 11, 2000 Bachelet—virtually unknown at the time—was appointed Minister of Health by President Ricardo Lagos. She began an in-depth study of the public health-care system that led to the AUGE plan a few years later. She was also given the task of eliminating waiting lists in the saturated public hospital system within the first 100 days of Lagos’s government. She reduced waiting lists by 90%, but was unable to eliminate them completely and offered her resignation, which was promptly rejected by the President.  Controversially,  she allowed free distribution of the morning-after pill for victims of sexual abuse.

On January 7, 2002 Bachelet was appointed Defense Minister, becoming the first woman to hold this post in a Latin American country and one of the few in the world. While Minister of Defense she promoted reconciliatory gestures between the military and victims of the dictatorship, culminating in the historic 2003 declaration by General Juan Emilio Cheyre, head of the army, that “never again” would the military subvert democracy in Chile.  She also oversaw a reform of the military pension system and continued with the process of modernization of the Chilean armed forces with the purchasing of new military equipment, while engaging in international peace operations.

A moment which has been cited as key to Bachelet’s chances to the presidency came during a flood in northern Santiago where she, as Defense Minister, led a rescue operation on top of an amphibious tank, wearing a cloak and military cap.

In late 2004, following a surge of her popularity in opinion polls, Bachelet was established as the only CPD figure able to defeat Lavín, and she was asked to become the Socialists’ candidate for the presidency.

According to The Economist magazine the government of Bachelet opted to make social protection and the promotion of equality of opportunity her main priority. Since becoming President, her government built 3,500 crèches daycare for poorer children. It introduced a universal minimum state pension and extended free health care to cover many serious conditions.
A new housing policy aimed at abolishing the last remaining shanty-towns in Chile by 2010 featured grants to the poorest families. Some of them had to pay just US$400 for a house costing about US$20,000.

In October 2009 Ms Bachelet’s popularity peaked at 80 percent according to a public opinion poll by conservative polling institute Adimark GfK., and in March 2010 she showed an approval rating of 84%, and in terms of specific characteristics attributed to Chile’s president, ‘loved by Chileans’ reached a record 96%.

The Chilean Constitution does not allow a president to serve two consecutive terms, so Bachelet left office in March 2010.

Chile’s October 16, 2006 vote in the United Nations Security Council election—with Venezuela and Guatemala deadlocked in a bid for the two-year, non-permanent Latin American and Caribbean seat on the Security Council — developed into a major ideological issue in the country, and was seen as a test for Bachelet. The governing coalition was divided between the Socialists, who supported a vote for Venezuela, and the Christian Democrats, who strongly opposed it. The day before the vote the president announced (through her spokesman) that Chile would abstain, citing as reason a lack of regional consensus over a single candidate, ending months of speculation.

Continuing the coalition’s free-trade strategy, in August 2006 Bachelet promulgated a free trade agreement with the People’s Republic of China (signed under the previous administration of Ricardo Lagos), the first Chinese free-trade agreement with a Latin American nation; similar deals with Japan and India were promulgated in August 2007. In October 2006, Bachelet promulgated a multilateral trade deal with New Zealand, Singapore and Brunei, the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (P4),  also signed under Lagos’ presidency.  She also held free-trade talks with other countries, including Australia, VietnamTurkey and Malaysia. Regionally, she signed bilateral free trade agreements with Panama, Peru and Colombia.

At the beginning of 2010 Chile became the OECD’s 31st member, and its first in South America. This acceptance for OECD membership marked international recognition of nearly two decades of democratic reform and sound economic policies; for the OECD, Chile’s membership was a major milestone in its mission to build a stronger, cleaner and fairer global economy

She speaks Spanish (her native language), English, German, Portuguese and French.

In 2009 Forbes magazine ranked her as the 22nd in the list of the 100 most powerful women in the world (she was #25 in 2008, #27 in 2007, and #17 in 2006). In 2008, TIME magazine ranked her 15 on its list of the world’s 100 most influential people.

Eleanor Clift wrote on politicsdaily.com on June 10, 2010 that Michelle Bachelet moved the Chilean Government from Macho – to – Maternal. She was clearly the best qualified person to establish and head the new UN institution that was baptized with the terrible name UNWOMEN. And you know what, letting into the UN building a highly qualified person may endanger the minions working there. That, is what doomed on me today, this because I also learned an additional fact about Bachellet’s Chile, and that is why I write this UPDATE.

 www.politicsdaily.com/2010/06/10/…

The additional fact I learned today came from reading material that will appear in an Energy Management Magazine Published in India. The article is by – Ms. Jimena Bronfman, Vice Minister of Energy, Chile , and it deals with Chile moving into leadership position on energy issues – and you guessed right if you said that Dr. Bachelet started this. In effect the Ministry of Energy – which for Chile is a Ministry of Energy Efficiency – was set up at the end of her days in the Presidential Office. We are sure that this was not an easy task to fulfill – but we are sure that it will be one of her most important legacies. We know that Energy Efficiency is not a top priority of the G77 real on-going leadership and this, more then anything else, explains the diatribe we described in our original posting which we updated now.

The creation of the Ministry of Energy in February 1st 2010 is an important milestone in this process. The law that is the basis for Chile’s current institutional framework also includes the creation of the Chilean Energy Efficiency Agency, a public private entity that will implement the public policies designed by the Energy Efficiency Division of the Ministry.

Energy Efficiency is one of the main goals of Chile’s national energy policy, families are changing their habits and industries, corporations and local governments are trying to reduce their energy consumption by adopting energy-efficient measures. This fostering environment was recently faced by the February 27th earthquake and tsunami that devastated several regions of our country. We have taken this catastrophe as an opportunity and a challenge to rebuild our towns and cities using energy efficiency and renewable energy.

The Ministry of Energy is working with other ministries, such as the Ministry of Housing, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education to include energy efficiency measures and non-conventional renewable energies in the reconstruction of health and education infrastructure and emergency housing. We are also developing a pilot project to rebuild a town with the leading best practices in sustainability and energy consumption, so it can be replicated in other parts of the region and world.

Energy Efficiency is key to Chile’s competitiveness and economic growth. According to studies carried out before the earthquake, energy efficiency measures could help reduce Chile’s energy demand by around 14% by 2020. This would have a positive financial impact in the reconstruction process, as public funds saved by reduction of energy consumption can be reallocated to other priorities of the rebuilding program.

Energy Efficiency will also help Chile, whose economy is based on exports, to reduce its carbon footprint and be competitive in a world that is increasingly carbon-conscious. Although Chile’s contribution to global greenhouse emissions is low compared to many other nations, our wines, copper, fruits, fish and wood products are sold in developed markets that will require sustainable production processes.

In order to achieve our goals we are currently developing the Energy Efficiency Strategy for 2020. At the moment a draft proposal is being reviewed by key actors from the private and the public sectors who will be involved in the actual implementation of the strategy. The main objective of this process is to promote a broad discussion of the specific proposals, introduce appropriate improvements and gain comprehensive support for the energy saving goals contemplated in the strategy.  The official version of the E3 will be published after completion of this discussion period, hopefully by the end of November 2010.

Other challenges for this year include the implementation of the rest of our institutional framework, which will be completed by the creation of the Chilean Energy Efficiency Agency, a public-private non-profit entity that will implement the Ministry’s public policies. It will be funded mainly through public funds but will include private sector representatives in its board. The focus of the Agency’s work will be guided by the E3 strategy; however, we shall also aim at developing other important projects such as education. We strongly believe that a crucial driver for change in these matters is highly-skilled human resources. Therefore, education in schools, undergraduate and post-graduate education is needed to introduce strong energy efficiency programs. Other important aspects of energy efficiency lie in smart-grid and net-metering programs.

Another main priority for 2010 is the development of energy efficiency labelling for cars, new houses and domestic appliances. Labelling is currently mandatory for refrigerators and light bulbs, and we aim to expand this initiative so consumers have all the information available to make the right decisions.

We also want to continue growing our international alliances and cooperation. We have already executed collaboration agreements with several countries and organizations worldwide, and we will work to strengthen and deepen those relationships. Energy Efficiency is a global effort that can be fostered by exchanging best practices that will benefit consumers, industries and countries all over the world.

—————————–

The China and Developing States, the full name of the G77 that purports speaking for 130 out of the 192 UN Member States, is a UN charade – simply, because there never was a common interest among all these various States Now, with China becoming at least a G2 with the United States, if not the straight Global Economic Super power, for her to use the leadership of this rag-tag bunch and push into leadership positions at the UN – Libya, Zimbabwe, Sudan etc. resulted in turning the whole UN into a laughable enterprise. Bravo to little Palau that walked out on this continuous obstructionist committee circuit that calls for time-out whenever the UN tries to reach some decision. We watched them at climate Change meetings where Saudi Arabia is their representative.

Perhaps there was once s difference between the industrialized European  – North American countries plus Japan, and the rest of the world – this when the UN was created and the decolonizing process was giving birth to many new UN Member States – in effect multiplying by three the total number of global independent States, but since then much has changed.

The Latin ABC, Mexico, Korea, Turkey, India, Indonesia, South Africa have all knocked successfully at the corporate doors of development and entered the G20. The OECD club includes most of these G20 plus most EU States and Israel that is a perpetual  G77 pariah. They have now real interests to defend and not much time for posturing – so we will see slowly a realignment also at the UN. OK, China and South Africa will not want to give up their positions as leaders of the 130. It keeps some of their diplomats in the circuit and the UN will continue the fiction, but how long hence that the AOSIS/SIDS will still play this game? When will they see that Palau was indeed a trailblazer? Will the lack of action on Climate Change by some of the major OECD members who effectively joined the Saudis in opposing real action on climate, push these States back into the G77 arms?

—————————————-

THURSDAY, JULY 08, 2010
Chile Threatens to Split South Unity in World Body.
Thalif Deen

 ipsterraviva.net/UN/currentNew.as…

UNITED NATIONS, Jul 7 (IPS) – The Group of 77 (G77) has historically maintained a united front, vociferously protecting the economic interests of developing countries at the United Nations. But its longstanding solidarity is now being threatened by the continued presence of a single Latin American country which recently joined the ranks of a rich elitist group.

Chile, which was formally inducted last May into the 30-member Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), described as an exclusive club of industrial nations, has given no indications of leaving the G77, thereby triggering a sharp division of opinion among its 130 members. “Chile wants to have it both ways,” one G77 member told IPS, speaking on condition of anonymity. “It wants to have one foot in the OECD and another in the G77. But this is unacceptable to some of us.”

When Mexico and South Korea broke ranks with the developing world and joined the Paris-based OECD back in 1994 and 1996, respectively, both countries quit the G77, the largest single coalition of developing countries at the United Nations.

Chakravarti Raghavan, editor emeritus of the Geneva-based South-North Development Monitor published by the Third World Network, told IPS if Chile does not voluntarily quit the G77, the group must find a way around its longstanding convention of consensus decisions, and “politely but firmly throw Chile out”.

“This will be in line with the spirit and the intentions behind the formation of the Group of 77 and its functioning over all these years,” he added.

“It is probably about time that the G77 being an informal grouping expel Chile – on the simple ground that you can’t belong to two different groupings,” said Raghavan, who is considered a foremost authority on the G77, and who has written extensively about the Group since its inception in June 1964.

“It is my impression that Mexico, when it joined OECD, initially wanted to be in both camps, but was told it was not possible,” he added.

On North-South economic issues at the United Nations, the G77 and the OECD hold diametrically opposite views – most or all of the time.

The OECD is home to some of the world’s major economic powers, including the United States, Britain, Germany, France and Japan. Most of the emerging economic powers, including Brazil, India, China and South Africa, are longstanding members of the G77 and not members of the OECD.

But according to the OECD, it is planning to have discussions with Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and South Africa – all active members of the G77 – “with a view to possible membership”.

The G77 has lost four other members over the years: Cyprus and Malta (both in May 1994) and Romania (January 2007) when they joined the European Union.

A fourth country, Palau, a small island developing nation in the Pacific, withdrew from the G77 in June 2006, ostensibly for financial reasons.

Besides Chile, Mexico and South Korea, the OECD has also added three other non-G77 members into its ranks: Estonia, Slovenia and Israel.

Speaking off-the-record, a diplomat from a G77 country expressed a dissenting point of view when he told IPS: “There is nothing in the G77 rules or guidelines stating that an OECD member has to quit the G77.”

He said Chile is well within its rights to remain a member of the G77.

“And, while there may be a few in G77 who may not be pleased about Chile remaining in the G77, there are no serious moves afoot to push them out of the grouping,” he said. “Most of us, support Chile remaining in the G77. There will be strong resistance from a number of us if anyone tries to eject Chile from the G77.”

And as an after-thought, he added: “The OECD had made leaving the G77 a condition for Mexico’s entry into the OECD. However, when Chile was applying to the OECD, there was no such condition.”

Moreover, he said, Mexico stated that leaving the G77 should not be a condition for Chile’s entry.

Another G77 delegate told IPS that if Chile does not voluntarily leave the Group, as Mexico and South Korea did in previous years, a divided G77 may be forced to take a decision either way.

Meanwhile the former G8 – the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia – has been expanded into the G20 to include seven developing nations (besides Australia, Mexico, South Korea, Turkey and the European Union).

The seven developing countries – Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and South Africa – are still members of the G77.

Chile has argued that G77 members that belong to the G20 should be considered in the same light as G77 members belonging to the OECD. But the G20 is not considered a formal body like the OECD, which is treaty-based and whose decisions are binding on all its members.

According to an OECD statement, the invitation to Chile to become the Organisation’s 31st member came at a time when the OECD is expanding its relations with the region.

As an OECD member, Chile will participate in all areas of the OECD’s work, from economic and financial policy to education, employment and social affairs. It will also join with other OECD countries to share experiences and best practices, setting new standards and developing new governance mechanisms for its economy and society more broadly.

The statement said that during two years of accession negotiations, Chile was reviewed by some 20 OECD committees with respect to OECD instruments, standards and benchmarks.

The invitation to take up membership confirms that Chile is taking appropriate steps to reform its economy including in the areas of corporate governance, anti-corruption, and environmental protection, the statement said.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 18th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

One Week in Vienna with ACUNS – THE ACADEMIC COUNCIL OF THE UN SYSTEM – June 1-7, 2010.

ACUNS 23rd Annual Meeting: High ranking current and former UN officials as well as distinguished academics and researchers working on contemporary international issues will be meeting in Vienna from June 1 to June 7. Some of the events are open to the general public. All are accessible by registration through the Academic Council on the United Nations System.

For further information please see Conference Announcement

Please register: Registration

Please note that registration is only possible with ACUNS.

——————–

Registration fees:

ACUNS Member                       $ 75 US

Non-Member                             $ 100 US

ACUNS Student Member           $ 25 US

Student Non-Member                $ 50 US

ACUNS is still looking for volunteers to attend to the conference. In
case you are interested please contact Brenda Burns

Best regards
Katrin Alas

Austrian Institute for International Affairs – oiip

Berggasse 7, A-1090 Vienna

Tel: +43 1 581 11 06/12, Fax: -10

e-mail:  alas at oiip.at

www.oiip.at

—————————————

starting event:

Einladung Kreisky Forum

Reihe: Transatlantica | Kuratiert von Eva Nowotny

Tuesday, June 1, 2010, 7.00 p.m.

HANS BLIX

UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission

CAN NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION REALLY BE PREVENTED.

Between Market Demand and Politics

Welcome address:

Eva Nowotny, Member of the Board of the Bruno Kreisky Forum

In cooperation with the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna

Bruno Kreisky Forum für internationalen Dialog | Armbrustergasse 15 | 1190 Wien

R.s.v.p.: Tel.: 3188260/20 | Fax: 318 82 60/10 | e-mail: einladung.kreiskyforum@kreisky.org

Karin Mendel
Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue
1190 Vienna, Armbrustergasse 15
Tel: +43-(0)1-3188260
Fax: +43-(0)1-3188260/10
www.kreisky-forum.org


###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 17th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

OECD – The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, is often seen as an exclusive club of rich countries. It is basically made up of Western and central European countries, Anglo-Saxon countries, Japan, and a very small number of newly industrialized countries limited just to Korea, Mexico, and Turkey – as recognized also in the structure of www.SustainabiliTank.info Home-page.

The list of OECD countries ten days ago included the Twenty countries that originally signed the Convention on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on 14 December 1960.

Since then eleven countries have become members of the Organization. The last to be accepted before last Monday was the Slovak Republic that ratified acceptance December 14, 2000,

The Member countries of the Organization before last Monday, and the dates on which they deposited their instruments of ratification are:
AUSTRALIA: 7 June 1971
AUSTRIA: 29 September 1961
BELGIUM: 13 September 1961
CANADA: 10 April 1961
CHILE: 7 May 2010
CZECH REPUBLIC: 21 December 1995
DENMARK: 30 May 1961
FINLAND: 28 January 1969
FRANCE: 7 August 1961
GERMANY: 27 September 1961
GREECE: 27 September 1961
HUNGARY: 7 May 1996
ICELAND: 5 June 1961
IRELAND: 17 August 1961
ITALY: 29 March 1962
JAPAN: 28 April 1964
KOREA: 12 December 1996
LUXEMBOURG: 7 December 1961
MEXICO: 18 May 1994
NETHERLANDS: 13 November 1961
NEW ZEALAND: 29 May 1973
NORWAY: 4 July 1961
POLAND: 22 November 1996
PORTUGAL: 4 August 1961
SLOVAK REPUBLIC: 14 December 2000
SPAIN: 3 August 1961
SWEDEN: 28 September 1961
SWITZERLAND: 28 September 1961
TURKEY: 2 August 1961
UNITED KINGDOM: 2 May 1961
UNITED STATES: 12 April 1961

The preamble to the document that created December 14, 2010 the OECD organization says:

PARIS 14th December 1960

THE GOVERNMENTS
of the Republic of Austria, the Kingdom of Belgium, Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, the French Republic, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Kingdom of Greece, the Republic of Iceland, Ireland, the Italian Republic, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Norway, the Portuguese Republic, Spain, the Kingdom of Sweden, the Swiss Confederation, the Turkish Republic, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America;


CONSIDERING
that economic strength and prosperity are essential for the attainment of the purposes of the United Nations, the preservation of individual liberty and the increase of general well-being;


BELIEVING
that they can further these aims most effectively by strengthening the tradition of co-operation which has evolved among them;


RECOGNISING
that the economic recovery and progress of Europe to which their participation in the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation has made a major contribution, have opened new perspectives for strengthening that tradition and applying it to new tasks and broader objectives;


CONVINCED
that broader co-operation will make a vital contribution to peaceful and harmonious relations among the peoples of the world;


RECOGNISING
the increasing interdependence of their economies;


DETERMINED
by consultation and co-operation to use more effectively their capacities and potentialities so as to promote the highest sustainable growth of their economies and improve the economic and social well-being of their peoples;


BELIEVING
that the economically more advanced nations should co-operate in assisting to the best of their ability the countries in process of economic development;


RECOGNISING
that the further expansion of world trade is one of the most important factors favouring the economic development of countries and the improvement of international economic relations; and


DETERMINED
to pursue these purposes in a manner consistent with their obligations in other international organisations or institutions in which they participate or under agreements to which they are a party;


HAVE THEREFORE AGREED
on the following provisions for the reconstitution of the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development –

And the proactive 21 articles can be seen at:

www.oecd.org/document/7/0,3343,en_2649_201185_1915847_1_1_1_1,00.html

————————-

On Monday, May 10, 2010, Israel, Estonia and Slovenia, by unanimous vote of the member States, were invited to join the OECD.

Israel, Estonia and Slovenia Join the OECD (UPDATE)

Mark Leon Goldberg – May 11, 2010 – 10:32 am

Israel, Slovenia and Estonia were invited to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a group of (now 34) wealthy democracies.  The OECD does a host of things, from helping to stabilize its members’ economies to serving as a focal point for assisting in the economic development of poorer countries.

The full release can be read at:  

—————————-

 ipsterraviva.net/UN/currentNew.as…

MONDAY, MAY 17, 2010
Shielded by U.S. Umbrella, Israel Joins Rich Man’s Club.
by Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS, May 16 (IPS) – With tongue firmly entrenched in his cheek, an Arab diplomat recounts an Israeli cabinet meeting interrupted by an aide rushing in with the latest statistics on the state of the economy. The crops were down, growth was low, reserves were minimal and inflation was high, he announced, portraying a rather gloomy economic picture.

Momentarily, the prime minister seemed flustered by the news – until he realized the aide was really referring to the state of the Israeli economy. Breathing a sigh of relief, he joyfully exclaimed: “Thank God, for a moment I thought you were referring to the American economy” – and went on with the business of the day, totally unfazed. The apocryphal story, doing the rounds at the United Nations, reveals the reality of Israeli life: its very existence has depended largely on the unrestrained political, economic and military support of the United States.

After more than a decade of lobbying, Israel won a key diplomatic victory Monday by gaining admission to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). But could Israel have joined the OECD without the billions of dollars in U.S. aid and outright grants, which helped propel the Jewish state into the ranks of Western industrial nations?

The Paris-based organisation, long described as an exclusive club of rich nations, also invited Estonia and Slovenia to join its privileged ranks, pushing its total membership to 34.

OECD’s current members range from Austria, Australia, Belgium, and Canada to France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Britain and the United States.

All three new members will be inducted at a special ceremony during the annual meeting of the OECD Council, chaired by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, in Paris on May 27.

The OECD decided to admit Israel into its ranks despite accusations of human rights violations and war crimes by a U.N. commission – specifically during the war against Gaza in December 2008.

Asked if Israel’s entry will have an impact on how the politically and economically powerful European Union (EU) responds to human rights violations in the occupied territories, Nadia Hijab, an independent analyst and a senior fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies, told IPS she wasn’t sure how it will play out with the 27 EU states.

But Hijab pointed out that from a human rights perspective, the OECD has completely ignored its own Road Map for Israel’s accession, which states that Israel has to demonstrate a commitment to pluralist democracy based on the rule of law.

Indeed, only a democracy can join the OECD, she added.

But human rights organisations have accused Israel of violating most of the basic principles of democracy, including civil and political rights, freedom of the press and fundamental rights of people under occupation.

A 17-point memo to the OECD by the worldwide Palestinian coalition BNC (the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee) listed the many ways in which Israel does not uphold the rule of law at home or abroad.

In a detailed critique published in Agence Global, Hijab points out that the EU’s planned upgrade of relations with Israel was put on hold in the wake of Israel’s Gaza attack.

She said intensive lobbying by several churches and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including three Israeli human rights organisations, B’Tselem, HaMoked and Physicians for Human Rights, helped prevent it from being acted on.

Writing on ‘U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel’ for the U.S. Congressional Research Service (CRS) last December, Jeremy Sharp, a specialist in Middle Eastern affairs, says “Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II.” Since 1985, the United States has provided over 3.0 billion dollars in outright annual grants – with no payback obligation – to Israel. Of this, about 1.9 billion dollars have been earmarked as military aid and 1.2 billion dollars as economic aid.

Virtually all of the U.S. equipment in the Israeli military inventory has been purchased out of U.S. funds.

For many years, Sharp points out, “U.S. economic aid helped subsidise a lacklustre Israeli economy, though since the rapid expansion of Israel’s hi-tech sector in the 1990s (sparked partially by U.S.-Israeli scientific cooperation), Israel is now considered a fully industrialised nation with an economy on par with some Western European countries.”

Consequently, Israel and the United States agreed to gradually phase out economic grant aid to Tel Aviv.

According to an agreement reached under former U.S. President George W. Bush in August 2007, and to compensate for the loss of economic aid, there will be incremental annual increases in U.S. military grants to Israel, reaching 3.0 billion dollars by 2012.

The administration of President Barack Obama will dole out about 2.8 billion dollars in military grants to Israel in 2010.

And, Sharp says, U.S. military aid has “helped transform Israel’s armed forces into one of the most technologically sophisticated militaries in the world.”

Despite its admission to the OECD, Israel will continue to depend on strong political and military support from the United States. And more so at the United Nations, where Washington has continued to shield Israel from Security Council sanctions for war crimes and human rights violations.

Stephen Zunes, professor of politics and international studies and chair of the Middle Eastern Studies Programme at the University of San Francisco, told IPS there is no way that Israel could get away with its widespread and systematic violations of international law were it not effectively shielded by the U.S. veto power in the Security Council.

“Israel is not inherently worse than other countries, it’s just that their government has so few constraints upon its behaviour,” he said.

But thanks to this superpower umbrella which protects the Israelis from sanctions and other consequences of their actions, there is no deterrent preventing them from running roughshod over international legal norms, Zunes added.

This is not fundamentally different than the threat of a French veto preventing the Security Council from enforcing its resolutions regarding the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara, he added.

Similarly, for decades, Britain and the United States blocked any decisive U.N. action regarding Indonesia’s occupation of East Timor.

“The failure to force Israel to end its occupation, colonisation and repression of its neighbours, therefore, is not simply the fault of a supposedly all-powerful Zionist lobby,” Zunes said.

Rather, it is yet another sad chapter in the longstanding tradition of great powers hypocritically aiding and abetting the very kinds of illegitimate policies by their allies for which they would demand strict international sanctions, he argued.

Or worse, if they were being carried out by a regime deemed less friendly to their interests, Zunes declared.

———————

Our website purports to provide a neutral platform when it comes to the Middle East. This includes a clear rejection of the world pouring in finances to the oil countries and hurting the interests of our generation and of all generations to come.

Providing funds to the oil countries has done nothing for their development and only enriched a very thin layer of royal families in underpopulated countries that in order to deflect attention from what they do to their own people created the obviously, originally UN-approved Israel bogey-man. Rather then develop the Middle East, the oil money deepened resentment of Israel and the US was poring money not just into Israel, but to all States in the region.

Egypt got more money then Israel, just in order to pay for the smile of the Sphinx – Egypt being the only Arab country that had the military potential to do mischief – so they were bought off with American money that was used up not to create an economy. There is no chance Egypt will be invited to OECD membership – they have little to offer but needs.

Israel is the only Democracy in the region – albeit not a perfect one as it is being managed under conditions of a perpetual state-of-war. Yes, there is much we criticize in Israel, but we also know that as long as the Arab leaders do not follow President Sadat’s example and come to Jerusalem – Yes – Jerusalem – not Tel-Aviv – with an outstretched hand to claim “Peace and Territory” – there is very little that can change. The Arabs will have the money and stay underdeveloped and poor – the Israelis will have the technologies and will help build the World of tomorrow. So far as our friend Thalif Deen, his article is informative as far as it describes the Arab position at the UN – it negative and uninformed when it comes to what the UN ought to be like.

Will Brazil, China, India look at what we say here and think how to move up in the world to enter OECD also – see Mexico, Korea, Turkey, Israel were able to and have much smaller economies?

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 29th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The Young Professionals For International Cooperation, affiliated with the UN Association of the USA, had its own Holocaust Remembrance Day activity outside the UN compound. In effect it was held at the Tribeca Grand Hotel and A Screening of the Imre Kertesz inspired movie, “Fateless” was at the center of this event. Imre Kertesz is a Nobel Prize winning, Hungarian – Jewish, post-Holocaust writer. His writing has philosophical aspects to it – and thus the name of the movie. in the audience there were about 50 people.

holocaust009.gif
Ambassador Polgar helped the audience understand the Hungarian background:

hungary001.jpg

Giyuri tries to understand the meaning of this tormenting behavior on the part of his captors – he is troubled by the idea that there was indeed no meaning to it. He has no emotional or spiritual ties to his Jewishness, and he feels rejected by his country – Hungary.

He is shuttled between death factories of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Buchenwald and Zeitz. The latter he describes as a primitive concentration camp without the showers and crematoria. For some Imre Kertesz reason, Giyuri is presented as a stoic believing that there is nothing too unimaginable to endure. The movie maker wants us to believe that this movie is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. What I saw in it was rather a testament to the inhumanity of Hungarians, Germans and Poles in their relationship to the Jews that were put under their fist – and on the other hand – a young Jew who did not realize that his real historic home was not Hungary, and who, against any logic, was still trying to create his new life there.

At the screening participated also Ann Nicol, the Executive Director of the UNA of New York, and she was responsible for the selection of the movie and for bringing to the screening also the Consul General of Hungary in New York, Ambassador Victor Polgar. As he told us, his mother was a survivor of the Holocaust – so he must be at least part Jewish. At UNA I was told that Ann Nicol has herself a Hungarian connection. She introduced the Ambassador, and he was very open in his description of those dark years in Hungary. According to him, Hungary was the first fascist State in the run-up to the war. In Hungary fascism n government started already in 1929, in Germany, officially, it was only in 1933.

In the movie quite a few Hungarians were shown as at the bottom of the worst. While the Germans were described as engineering types to do a well programmed extermination of the Jews, the Hungarians, in the film. were depicted as people that do not understand even their own good. There is this policeman who takes off the buses people that were working for the German war effort – this so they get sent to Auschwitz. Another guard just steals   goods from those in the camp, another asks for money – as the Jews will not need it where they are going, and better leave it to the Hungarians rather then it be taken by the Germans – “are we not one” he says to the Hungarian Jews, but refuses to bring them water.

Ambassador Polgar said that from the 600,000 Jews before the war – probably 30,000 came back – today there are 60,000 Jews in Hungary. Jews in Hungary included the likes of Professor Teller of the Hydrogen bomb (who we know was not very keen of his country of origin,) the mathematician von Newman – another top contributor to the West, who was born as a a Hungarian Jew. Then do not forget Zaza Gabor the actress…. and many others.

Hungary became independent after the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian empire, so, like Austria and Germany was a late comer to the 20th century. This was a reason for rebellion against the colonial powers of the West – but as Hungary was not developed like Germany or Japan, it was not in shape to become a real threat like them, and it shows in the movie.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 13th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Monday, October 13th – Columbus Day 2008 – In Financial Markets The Chefs Of Europe Came To Washington to Save the Old World – The Week Will End With The Europeans Fighting Among Themselves For Positions at the UN.

The good news are that this Monday is much better then the Monday of last week. This because after serious tutoring by the Chefs of Europe, the US was softened to accept what George Soros and a few others said for quite a while – you do not just bailout those that undermined the economy because of their greed, that was allowed to grow thanks to a wrong headed concept of “Less Government Is Best Government.” You re-capitalize the banks and take equity position in them, so you can re-establish rule of ethics in those institutions. The Europeans started by Nationalizing their weak institutions rather then let them fail (like the Lehman case in the US) or bail them out (like the Goldman-Sachs case in the US). As George Soros said, by letting the system in the hands of Goldman-Sachs graduates, you really do not signal that you want to see change indeed. (We add to this that it would be like seating McCain in the Oval Office when the need is to create deep change in Washington.)

Further – just look at The Financial Times of today – for example at page 11 – “Goldman Connection Raises Questions Over Conflict of Interest’ and Page 24 – “Key Lehman Figures Stay On In Europe” – this after Japan’s Nomura bought the European and Middle East operations of Lehman Brothers. Then see page 24 – “Is Nationalization the answer to banks behaving badly?” and look for what went on in Iceland where the whole banking system was Nationalized. Look at the argument – “shareholders win – taxpayers lose” and the question “why not resolve it by making the two groups identical?” That is neither socialism nor demagoguery. It is not Corporate Socialism but plain “Country First” argumentation that has nothing to do with “me interrupt the campaign and go to Washington to pass the Paulson three page non-plan.”

OK, President Bush listened to the G7 on Friday – and magic – after he declared that the US will now buy into banks – not just the “toxic assets” of those banks, the New York Stock market this morning, followed the example of global markets over the week-end, and started returning value to the share-holders. While I write this, Monday at noon, the New York Stock Market DOW is up 520 points. Clearly, not because they trust now Messrs. Paulson & Bernanke more then they did a week ago – it did happen because they trust more the Gordon Brown, Nicholas Sarkozy, Angela Markel consortium of individuals.

But, do not jump yet at conclusions – this article is not exactly an ode to old Europe. You can conclude that I trust more The Financial Times then the Wall Street Journal, but I will also point out the show of hands that will happen at the end of this week at the UN, and that will bring to the limelight also shadier aspects of Europe 2008.

 ***

The event will happen on Friday, October 17, 2008, when the UN General Assembly elects five non-permanent members of the UN Security Council.

Outgoing council members are Belgium, Indonesia, Italy, Panama, South Africa.

Uganda is the sole candidate for Africa and will replace South Africa. Mexico is the sole candidate for Latin America and will replace Panama. But for Asia there are two candidates and Japan has the definite advantage over Iran as replacement of Indonesia.

The only real fight will be for the European two seats where Austria, Iceland and Turkey will be fighting for the two seats vacated by Belgium and Italy.

Conventional wisdom at the UN says that Turkey will be a shoo-in with the 192 States voting, but Austria and Iceland will be in a tough fight for the second seat. And this is the reason for my bringing up now these elections.

The last months was very hard on Austria and Iceland. Think of the complete melt-down of the Iceland financial system, and the melt-down of the Austrian governing scheme.

 ***

Let us start with Iceland, as this is the easier case – it is on the surface only about money, but then also about eventual political freedom.

Richard Portes writes in The Financial Times of today “The shocking errors behind Iceland’s meltdown.” Iceland’s Glitnir Bank was the first casualty of Washington letting down Lehman, and precipitating the hermetic closure of the global credit market. Like fellow Icelandic banks, Landsbanki and Kaupthing, they were all solvent and posted good first-half results and had healthy capital adequacy ratios. And that is important – NONE HAD ANY TOXIC SECURITIES. All of them were very well managed for the last two years, but when the credit crisis hit Glitnir, the Icelandic Central Bank (CBI) did not help and moved to Nationalize the bank, creating in its wake a run on all banks. All this triggered a fall of the Krona and a margin call from the European Central Bank. Eventually the banks became collateral damage and some foreign branches taken over.

The problem was that the Icelandic banks   were highly leveraged, and like in the UK and Switzerland, too large relative to the domestic economy. The joke was that the large Icelandic banks had a small country attached to them.

The CBI did some terrible mistakes. They announced on Monday a peg of the Krona to the Euro at a rate well above the market that was unsustainable, and abandoned by Tuesday. They contacted the International Monetary Institutions in Washington and when help was not forthcoming they asked for $4 Billion from Russia that was answered positively, but the deal was not yet consumeted. Now, following the Friday agreements in Washington, it is probable that Iceland will be the first country in this crisis to be helped by the IMF. Perhaps also the Russian deal will be finalized this week, and the question is at what political price will this be for a small country, not an EU member, and positioned from Russia at the opposite end of Europe.

For our story here – What will this do to Iceland obtaining the votes it wants at the UN General Assembly, in its quest for a first-time membership at the UNSC – this as part of the group of Nordic States (that at the EU are indeed part of Europe). Will they get now sympathy votes, or will they be considered as economically non-viable?

***

The other contestant is Austria, and its problems seem even worse. The problem is purely political and this week-end it got thrown into total chaos by the auto-racing death of its fast talking right wing politician Joerg Haider.

The Story started with the brake-up of the traditional governing Red-Black coalition. That is the the left of center Socialists broke up their “Grand Coalition” with the right-of center Peoples Party. The voters at the polls punished both of them and elevated by a   close to 30% the two infighting extreme right parties, leaving 9% to the Austrian Greens. OK, one could go back to a diminished “Grand Coalition”with both parties – the Reds and the Blacks – headed by new leaders. This would be a punishment for their lack of acceptance of the previous debacles when these parties flirted with the extreme right.

The Austrian Freedom Party (FPO – the Blue Party), a small party of 5% of the electorate, entered into a controversial coalition as junior partner to the Reds in May 1983 and remained in power with that party until January 1987.

Appears Joerg Haider and in September 1986   he defeated the Austrian Vice-Chancellor Norbert Steger in a vote for the FPO leadership at the party conference in Innsbruck: many delegates feared that Steger’s liberal views and his coalition with the Social Democrats threatened the party’s existence. Haider attempted to increase his party’s standing by appealing to those opposed to the EU, those against immigration, and those who thought “the Third Reich was not all bad”, including its work creation programmes, and who believed that its crimes were exaggerated. Plain and simple – a Neo-Nazi ideology.

Under Haider’s leadership the FPO went from 4.98 per cent of the vote in 1986 to 26.9 per cent in 1999, putting it on a par with the Blacks. The outgoing Reds could not find a coalition partner and months of negotiations followed until in 2000 the Blacks formed a coalition with Haider’s FPO. This caused a sensation – both in Austria and across Europe – the heads of the governments of the other 14 EU members decided to cease co-operation with the Austrian government.

The coalition remained in office until 2007, although Haider stepped down as the FPO’s chairman in 2000. Without him his party’s voting bloc seemed to evaporate: at the 2002 election it lost nearly two-thirds of its support. Haider remained the FPO’s major figure until 2005, when he founded the Bündnis Zukunft Österreich (BZO, or Alliance for the Future of Austria), the Orange Party.

He was expelled from the Blues but the Orange’s increasing popularity won it 11 per cent of the vote in the September 2008 general election. Last week, Haider and Heinz-Christian Strache, the leader of the Blues, negotiated to put aside their differences following their combined success at the polls. The results for their two parties came to 28.2 per cent of the ballot, as against 15 per cent in 2006. This placed them on a nearly equal footing with the “winning” Social Democrats.

***

Mr Haider, 58, whose fatal car accident early this Saturday morning, October 11, 2008, left Austria in a state of shock. He was travelling near Klagenfurt in the southern province of Carinthia, his home Province – the Province where he was Governor. He was going   at 88mph (142kph) along a stretch of road which has a 42mph speed limit.

State prosecutors investigating the crash said his car, a three-month-old Volkswagen Phaeton V6, careered off the road after overtaking another vehicle and flipped several times, causing the populist leader massive injuries to his head and chest even though he was wearing a seat-belt.

An ambulance took Mr Haider to Klagenfurt hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Ruling out foul play as a cause of death, Gottfried Kranz, the chief prosecutor, said: “Further speculation about other causes for the accident are invalid.”

Mr Haider, who had been on his way to his mother’s 90th birthday party, had been at a party at a night club less than a hour before the crash. State prosecutors declined to say whether they had found alcohol or traces of drugs in his blood.

Police said the Volkswagen Phaeton that he was driving at speed went off the road.

***

Haider was born in 1950 in the Upper Austrian town of Bad Goisern. His father was a shoemaker, his mother a teacher. Both had been more than nominal members of the Nazi party – his father served as a lieutenant in the Wehrmacht in the Second World War. After attending secondary school in Bad Ischl, where he had first contacts with nationalist youth organisations, in 1968 he moved to the University of Vienna to study law. In 1973 he graduated and shortly after was called up for military service, volunteering for extra service on top of the mandatory nine months. In 1974 he started work at the University of Vienna in the department of constitutional law.

Haider had joined the youth wing of the Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs (FPO, or Austrian Freedom Party), founded in 1955 as a mixture of political currents opposed to the two main parties, the Catholic-orientated Österreichische Volkspartei (OVP, Austrian People’s Party) and the Sozialistische Partei Österreichs (SPO, Socialist, later Social Democratic Party). These two had ruled Austria in coalition from 1945-66. With its roots in the Pan-German movement, the FPO included both nationalists and liberals.

In 1970 Haider became leader of the FPO youth movement, until 1974. He was party secretary of the Carinthian FPO from 1976 until 1983. In 1979, aged 29, he became the youngest MP of the 183 members of the federal parliament, serving until 1983. He served again in parliament from 1986 to 1989 and from 1992 to 1999. In September 2008 he was elected again to Parliament.

Today’s Independent writes: “Jörg Haider: Charismatic right-wing politician whose controversial beliefs and policies led to isolation for Austria.” The article of The Financial Times is titled: “Demagogue who stirred up Austrian politics.”

“A talented demagogue, he railed against asylum seekers, Muslims and the small Slovene minority in his home province of Carinthia. In 1995 he whipped up anti-EU sentiments.

He praised a member of Hitler’s notorious Waffen SS convicted of eradicating the population of an Italian village as someone “who did his duty.” He said Nazis had created “a good policy of employment.” he condemned the “laziness of the southerners” – meaning immigrants from lands south of Austria, describing their countries as “the place of criminality and corruption.” And in a mocking reference to the first name of Vienna’s Jewish leader, Ariel Muzikant, Haider said: “I don’t understand how someone called Ariel can have so much dirt on his hands.”

***

OK, Haider is dead now, and Haider was never Austria, but Austria has no government at this time, and there is a new bloc of 30% of people-haters that he has managed to gather – indeed only 11% of these seemingly bigots marching under his world-hating Orange flag, while the others might be just plain conservative people. Nevertheless, if this bloc returns to the Austrian Government, what face will Austria have on the international stage?

The best thing that could happen for Austria is if the Reds and the Blacks seize the moment and declare by this Thursday the return to the “Grand Coalition.” If that does not happen, we feel sorry for the good Austrian Ambassador to the UN, H.E. Mr. Gerhard Pfanzelter, who labored for two years with the goal to get for Austria this coveted UN Security Council seat.

Neil MacFarquhar, in the New York Times of this Sunday, October 12, 2008, describes the Icelandic and Austrian UN “charm offensives” in order to woo country votes in the Friday UNGA election. Pfanzelter even brought the Vienna Philharmonic to New York to serenade the 192 Ambassadors and their wives. Austria has had indeed a historic commitment to the UN. It knew to get the third UN Center, after those in New York and Geneva, to be established in Vienna. That was a very important achievement at a time that Austria was trying to safeguard its security and independence with the two superpowers breezing hard close-by in the days of the Cold War.

The International Atomic Agency and the UN agencies for Development (UNIDO) and narcotics are housed there.

IIASA or the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis – the cold war days’ scientific link between East and West is still housed, and doing work at Schloss Laxenburg near Vienna. Today studies like “Atmospheric Pollution and Economic Development” are again the latest rage and very much in fashion. Then, don’t forget also that OPEC is headquartered in Vienna, and personally, I am beholden because of the studies on Energy Policy I was involved at Laxenburg during the end of the 70s – mid 80s. That is when the word Energy was extended from oil, coal, and nuclear, to include also natural gas, and eventually biogas and renewable energy. Those days I had a hand in much of this, and I could see Austria retaking its central position in energy policy for the 21st Century.

Considering above, I hope a miracle happens and Austria’s politicians come up this week with a plan that makes up somewhat for the mess they created this summer.

We will wait to see the UN show of hands this Friday, and when the voting becomes available, we will analyze the outcome.

###