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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Please join the European Union Studies Center as we celebrate Europe Day 2014 with a keynote address of H.E. Mr. Christos P. Panagopoulos, the Ambassador of Greece to the United States, followed by a concert and reception.

  Greece holds the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Ambassador is thus particularly well equipped to provide insights into European Union matters.

The event will take place on Friday May 9 from 6-8pm in the Elebash Recital Hall of the CUNY Graduate Center.

Business attire is required. Please register at www.euromatters.org/europe-day-2014/ or on  website euromatters.org.

Registration is also possible via the included flyer.

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

9 May marks the capitulation of Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union in the Second World War (also known as the Great Patriotic War in the Soviet Union). It was first inaugurated in the fifteen republics of the Soviet Union, following the signing of the surrender document late in the evening on 8 May 1945 (after midnight, thus on 9 May, by Moscow Time).

The Soviet government announced the victory early on 9 May after the signing ceremony in Berlin. —- Though the official inauguration happened in 1945 (which means it has been celebrated since 1946), the holiday became a non-labour day only in 1965 and only in some of the countries.

In the former Soviet Union this festival was celebrated to commemorate the Red Army’s victory over the Nazi forces.

In communist East Germany, a Soviet-style “Victory Day” on 9 May was an official holiday from 1975 until the end of the republic in 1990. Prior to that, “Liberation Day” was celebrated on 8 May, between 1950 and 1966, and again on the 40th anniversary in 1985. Since 2002, the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern has observed a commemoration day known as the “Day of Liberation from National Socialism, and the End of the Second World War”.

——-

The European Union does not set public holidays for its member states. However the European Commission does set public holidays for the employees of the institutions of the European Union on a year by year basis. This includes a EUROPE DAY on May 9th.

On 9 May 1950, Robert Schuman, the first President of the European Parliamentary Assembly, presented his proposal on the creation of an organised Europe, indispensable to the maintenance of peaceful relations.

This proposal, known as the ‘Schuman declaration’, is considered to be the beginning of the creation of what is now the European Union. Today, 9 May has become Europe Day, which is the occasion for activities and festivities that bring Europe closer to its citizens and the peoples of the Union closer to one another.

On the other hand – in 1964 – The Council of Europe declared May 5th as Europe Day.    THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL was formed in 1949 by the treaty of London to establish in Strasbourg the first institution to lead to European Integration. We hope that May 9th can stick despite the possibility that its Soviet context might make it seem a Russian partisanship of history – a discussion that deserves many tomes of research. In the meantime we felt we had to point out the fact that the date and a holiday on that date are not yet a matter of fact in the EU States.

 ———

 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 27th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

 

Take Action: Urge U.S. & EU to Oppose Imminent U.N. Appointment of Richard Falk’s Wife.

 

 

 

As Richard Falk ends his despicable 6-year UN term this Friday, his wife, co-author and closest collaborator Dr. Hilal Elver (above) is about to be named to her own 6-year UN term, as expert on the right to food.

 

This Cuban-created position was for years held by Jean Ziegler – founder and recipient of the “Moammar Qaddafi Human Rights Prize” — which he abused to attack America, Israel and the West.

 

Given her shameful record of extremist politics, there is no doubt that Falk’s wife intends to do the same. And that essentially Falk will retain his U.N. influence after all.

 

The only way to stop Elver’s appointment to this 6-year global post is if the U.S. and EU make clear they will vote NO if her name is moved forward.

 

 Stop this from happening on Friday.

 

FALK FINALLY LEAVES UNHRC

Richard Falk

FALK’S WIFE JOINS UNHRC

Hilal Elver

Promotes writings of 9/11 conspiracy theorist David Ray Griffin, who in turn thanked him in his book “The New Pearl Harbor” Promotes writings of 9/11 conspiracy theorist David Ray Griffin, who in turn thanked her in his book “The New Pearl Harbor”
Accuses Israel of “genocide” Accuses Israel of “genocide”
Accuses Israel of “Apartheid” in latest and final UN report Accuses Israel of “Water Apartheid” in latest Qatar lecture
Says criticism of Turkish demagogue Erdogan is “exaggerated” Says criticism of Turkish demagogue Erdogan is “exaggerated”
Targets America and the West in his articles, books and lectures Targets America & the West in her articles, books & Facebook page

 

 Urge world leaders to oppose the
outrageous nomination
of Hilal Elver.

Say No to the Abuse of Human Rights!  

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 14th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 We wonder that anti-EU British and Dutch Right-Wingers were not mentioned among the invitees – perhaps that was an oversight of the reporter?

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

Russia invites EU far-right to observe Crimea vote.

from the EUobserver – 13.03.14

By Benjamin Fox

 

BRUSSELS – The Russian government has invited some of Europe’s far-right parties to observe this weekend’s referendum in Crimea.

The leader of France’s National Front party, Marine Le Pen, told press at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday (12 March) that her executive has not yet decided whether to go.

The Austrian Freedom party, a National Front ally, also got an invitation.

Crimeans will go to the polls on Sunday to pick one of two options: “Are you in favour of Crimea becoming a constituent territory of the Russian Federation?” or “Are you in favour of restoring Crimea’s 1992 constitution? [on semi-autonomy inside Ukraine].”With Russian soldiers and paramilitaries in control of streets and public buildings, the vote will effectively be held at gunpoint.

EU leaders have said the referendum is illegal.

The G7 club of wealthy nations, which also includes Canada, Japan, and the US, described it as a “deeply flawed process which would have no moral force.”

The OSCE, a Vienna-based multilateral body, has also declined to send observers because the vote was called in violation of Ukraine’s constitution.

But for her part, Le Pen voiced sympathy for Russia, even if it opts to annex the territory after Sunday’s result.

“Crimea is not like the rest of the country … it is very closely linked to Russia,” she said, adding: “We have to take account of the history of Crimea.”

“From the outset of the crisis we [the National Front] have said that Ukraine should maintain its sovereignty but allow the three main regions to have a lot of autonomy.”

She described the prospect of EU economic sanctions against Russia as “dangerous” and echoed Russian propaganda on the new authorities in Kiev.

“We should have some qualms about the new government because it was not elected … We know that there are neo-Nazis and extremists in this government,” she said.

With Europe’s far-right keen to play up the Ukrainian crisis as an EU foreign policy blunder, Austrian MEP Andreas Moelzer, from the Freedom Party, told Austrian news agency APA also on Wednesday that he is considering Putin’s offer.

“We are among the few who try to understand Russia,” he said.

———–

The Soviet Union made Crimea part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1954.

Some 58 percent of its 2 million people are ethnic Russians.

But ethnic Russians became the majority only in World War II, when Stalin deported hundreds of thousands of Armenians, Bulgarians, Jews, Germans, Greeks, and Tatars from the region.

The 800,000 or so Ukrainian speakers who live there now form the majority in nine districts.

The 250,000 or so Tatars in Crimea have appealed for EU, US, and Turkish help to keep them from falling under Putin’s rule.

 

Crimean Tatars Face Uncertain Future

Seventy years after Stalin brutally deported thousands of Crimean Tatars to Central Asia, the descendants of those who returned fear repression as Russia tightens its grip on the peninsula.

. Related Article

 

Amid Preparations, Mediator Says Syria Vote Would Doom Talks

By SOMINI SENGUPTA

Lakhdar Brahimi said there were many signs that Syria’s government was planning an election, though that would be counterproductive for talks.

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

OUR CONCLUSION:
ELECTIONS AT GUN-POINT ARE A FAKE DEMOCRATIC WAY TO HELP DESPOTS ACHIEVE THEIR GOALS. WE THINK THE US TEA-PARTY COULD ALSO TAKE A BREAK BY GOING TO THE CRIM.  WE SAY THIS WITHOUT
JUDGEMENT OF THE MERITS OF THE ISSUE AT HAND – RATHER BY THINKING ONLY OF THE SUSTAINABILITY OF THE APPROACH OF CALLING FOR DISPUTED ELECTIONS WITHOUT A WIDE RANGE OF OBSERVERS.

 ======================

THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF INFORMATION ABOUT US-RUSSIA DISCUSSIONS IS AS FOLLOWS:

Remarks

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Winfield House
London, United Kingdom
March 14, 2014

 


 

SECRETARY KERRY: Good morning, everybody. My pleasure to welcome Foreign Minister Lavrov to Winfield House, the American Embassy residence here in London. Obviously, we have a lot to talk about. I look forward to the opportunity to dig into the issues and possibilities that we may be able to find about how to move forward together to resolve some of the differences between us. And we look forward, I know, to a good conversation.

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via interpreter) Well, I’m also satisfied to have this meeting today. This is a difficult situation we are in. Many events have happened and a lot of time has been lost, so now we have to think what can be done. Thank you.

AND THAT IS HOW IT IS.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 14th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From:

AFJN

It is all because of interests of big business why Africa is held down – and this with the help of corrupt African Governments’ leaders.  If this continues – there is indeed no future for Africa. Foreign aid by old industrialized
Nations is wasted effort.


 

US aid to DR Congo: No more free rides for corrupt government officials!
Did you know your tax dollars are subsidizing corrupt bureaucrats in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)? Instead of subsidizing millions of dollars in theft, fraud and unpaid taxes, the US should…
Read more

Herakles Farms must Stop Unjust Lawsuits Against a Cameroonian Activist
Herakles Farms, a US based agribusiness has filed a lawsuit against Mr. Nasako Besingi, a Cameroonian activist for defamation for peacefully protesting against the company’s grabbing of his ancestral land in South-West Cameroon. For the defamation case, the maximum penalty is 6 months imprisonment and $4,000 in fines, money he does not have.
Today, ask Mr. Patrick Jones to withdraw this lawsuit.

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Annual Progressive Economy Forum, 5-6 March 2014

Full programme

December 2013 Parliamentary Conference

Progressive Economy organised a first annual Progressive Economy Parliamentary Conference in Brussels on Wednesday 4 December and Thursday 5 December 2013.
Read more »

New events

Wed, 05/03/2014 – 14:30
Brussels, Belgium

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 6th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Julia Kerschbaumsteiner, the Enargy spokesperson  Greenpeace welcomed the fact that the European Parliament (the Equivalent of the US House of Representatives) is increasing the European Union suggestions for the post-2015 period with aims for 2030 which are higher then what the European Commission (the equivalent of the US Senate) was suggesting.

—————-

As per news from the Austrian OERF:

EU-Parlament fordert verbindliche Klimaziele bis 2030

Das EU-Parlament hat verbindlichere und ehrgeizigere Klimaziele als die von der EU-Kommission vorgeschlagenen verlangt. Die EU-Abgeordneten verabschiedeten heute in Straßburg eine nicht bindende Entschließung, die neben einer Senkung des CO2-Ausstoßes von 40 Prozent einen Anteil von erneuerbaren Energiequellen von 30 Prozent und eine Verbesserung der Energieeffizienz um 40 Prozent bis 2030 fordert.

Die Abgeordneten kritisierten die jüngsten Vorschläge der EU-Kommission als „kurzsichtig und unambitioniert“. Die EU-Kommission hatte den Ausbau der erneuerbaren Energiequellen auf 27 Prozent vorgeschlagen, dabei aber nur ein europäisches Ziel angestrebt. Die EU-Parlamentarier verlangen, dass diese Vorgabe mit Hilfe einzelner nationaler Ziele verwirklicht werden sollte. Dabei sollen die Situation und das Potenzial des jeweiligen EU-Staates berücksichtigt werden.

Die Umweltorganisation Greenpeace begrüßte, dass die „Minimalkompromisse“, die von der EU-Kommission in einem Vorschlag vorgelegt wurden, vom Parlament deutlich überboten wurden. „Die EU-Energiepolitik muss sich nun am Parlament orientieren“, forderte Julia Kerschbaumsteiner, Energiesprecherin von Greenpeace.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 6th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Google on brink of EU settlement.

writes EUobserver of  February 5, 2014 – by Benjamin Fox

Related

BRUSSELS – Google is on the brink of ending a three-year competition battle with the European Commission, after the EU executive indicated it is ready to accept its latest offer to change the way it runs web searches.

In November 2010, the EU executive launched an investigation into claims that the search engine firm used its 95 percent market share in Europe to distort internet search results by putting links to its own products and services at the top.

The EU’s competition case has also focused on how Google displays content from other websites without permission.

However, speaking with reporters on Wednesday (5 February) the bloc’s competition boss, Joaquin Almunia, said that Google’s third and final offer, finalised in January following weeks of “intense negotiation” was “far reaching” and could bring about “a level playing field in web searches.”

Under EU competition rules, sanctions could include a potential fine of up to 10 percent of Google’s annual turnover of around €40 billion.As part of the five-year offer tabled by the firm, services offered by Google would be graphically separated from other search results. Google would also put a label on its webpages to remind consumers that its own products will be given special treatment by web searches.

Meanwhile, Google would make it easier for companies to buy adverts through rival networks by dropping exclusivity requirements which force publishers to take their adverts solely from Google.

However, Google’s rivals, led by industry lobby group ICOMP, quickly slammed the new terms as “a massive failure.”

In a statement on Wednesday, ICOMP, which is sponsored by Microsoft, called on Almunia to set up an independent review of the offer from Google before making a decision.

“We do not believe Google has any intention of holding themselves to account on these proposals, and given the catastrophic effects on the online ecosystem that a proposal that doesn’t hit the mark will have, we would implore commissioner Almunia to allow a full third party review of their submission as the very least the commission can do in this landmark case,” it said.

“Without a third party review, Almunia risks having the wool pulled over his eyes by Google,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, Fairsearch Europe, which includes Nokia among its members, said that the Google plan would “lock in discrimination and raise rivals’ costs instead of solving the problem of Google’s anti-competitive practices.”

It complained that the offer would still require rivals to pay Google to guarantee search placement similar to that offered to Google’s own material through an auction mechanism.

For her part, Monique Goyens, director general of European consumer group BEUC accused the commission having “fallen far short of the aim of ensuring fair consumer choice.”

Complainants will now give their opinions to the proposals before the commission takes its final decision in the coming months.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 5th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

from: Leida Rijnhout
Director Global Policies and Sustainability
European Environmental Bureau (EEB)BOULEVARD DE WATERLOO 341000 BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
Tel: +32 (0) 2 290 88 15 | Mobile+32 (0) 494 89 30 52 | Websitewww.eeb.org/

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) is the environmental voice of European citizens, standing for environmental justice, sustainable development and participatory democracy. We want the EU to ensure all people a healthy environment and rich biodiversity.

Corporate influence in the Post-2015 process
- working paper by Lou Pingeot, published by Brot fuer die Welt, Global Policy Forum and Misereor
As the 2015 deadline for the MDGs fast approaches, UN member states have started negotiations to define a new global development framework for the time after. This process is expected to culminate in 2015 with the definition of a Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda. Corporate interest groups and large transnational corporations such as Unilever, Vale, AngloGold and many others have been actively involved in this process, including the Secretary General’s High-Level Panel and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network. In addition, the Global Compact has provided a privileged channel for corporate influence in the post-2015 agenda.

A new working paper by Brot f?r die Welt, Global Policy Forum and Misereor provides an overview of the main corporate actors in the post-2015 process and how they shape the discourse on development.

The private sector certainly has a role to play in the future of sustainable development. But the messages and visions of transnational corporations and business associations are worrying. Rather than binding multilateral agreements, they advocate for public-private partnerships and voluntary initiatives that largely leave both governments and private actors off the hook. They focus on growth, free markets and and new technologies (to be provided by the private sector) as a silver bullet solution to eradicate poverty, decrease inequality and preserve the environment, without reflecting on how the current growth paradigm has led us to the situation we face today.

This paper advocates for more transparency around the participation of corporations in UN processes, including their financial support to UN initiatives, and for more reflection on the risks of a corporate, private interests-driven development agenda. The full paper is available here:

www.globalpolicy.org/images/pdfs/GPFEurope/Corporate_influence_in_the_Post-2015_process_web.pdf

For more information, please contact:
Wolfgang Obenland
Program Coordinator
Global Policy Forum
K?nigstr. 37a
D-53115 Bonn
Tel +49(0)228-96 50 707
Fax +49(0)228-96 38 206
wolfgangobenland@globalpolicy.org

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

According to ORF – the Austrian Government official information network – the eU headquarters in Brussels are talking seriousli about a CLIMATE POLICY based on CO2 emissions reduction, the introduction of more renewable sources and rules for the Shale-Gas fracking technology. 

The figures being proposed now are a binding -40% CO2 by 2030 (based on 1990) which is better then the previously proposed -20% by 2020 – but still far bellow what Germany is propsing. Similarlyfor the introduction of Renewable Sources of Energy where the figure is being moved to 27% but here it is much more flexible – that is not an all Union binding figure – but an open achievement goal to the Member States. Will Germany accept these new figures – this is still an open question – but at least we see here a move to reach an agreement.

Similarly, the introduction of Shale fracking gas is a given conclusion but it will have to happen within a recommended framework as the environmental problems with water quality are now on the common table.

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

EU-Klimaziele 2030: Minus 40 Prozent CO2-Ausstoß

 

Die EU-Kommission schlägt im Kampf gegen den Klimawandel eine Reduzierung des Kohlendioxidausstoßes in der Europäischen Union bis 2030 um 40 Prozent vor. Bisher waren es 20 Prozent für 2020. Zugleich soll der Anteil von erneuerbaren Energieträgern auf 27 Prozent steigen, wie die Brüsseler Behörde heute bekanntgab.

Während das CO2-Ziel rechtlich verbindlich sein soll, will die Kommission den Mitgliedsstaaten beim Anteil der erneuerbaren Energie mehr Flexibilität einräumen. Beide Klimaziele beziehen sich auf die Werte von 1990.

Die Vorschläge der Brüsseler Behörde dürften auf Widerstand im EU-Parlament und bei einigen EU-Staaten wie Deutschland stoßen, die sich für ambitioniertere Ziele starkgemacht hatten. Bis sich die EU-Institutionen auf ein gemeinsames Paket geeinigt haben, dürften angesichts des langwierigen EU-Gesetzgebungsverfahrens und der unterschiedlichen Positionen noch Jahre vergehen.

——————————————————

Mindeststandards beim Fracking

EU-Staaten, die mit der umstrittenen Fracking-Methode Schiefergas fördern wollen, sollen nach dem Willen der EU-Kommission Mindeststandards zum Schutz von Umwelt und Gesundheit einhalten. „Schiefergas weckt Hoffnungen in manchen Teilen von Europa, aber ist auch ein Grund für Sorgen in der Bevölkerung“, so EU-Umweltkommissar Janez Potocnik in Brüssel. Die EU-Staaten sollten daher Mindeststandards beim Fracking befolgen.

Demnach soll es etwa Folgeabschätzungen und Analysen für Auswirkungen und Risiken für die Umwelt geben. Die EU fordert außerdem, dass vor dem Beginn der Arbeiten die Qualität von Wasser, Luft und Böden getestet wird, um mögliche Verschlechterungen durch das Fracking feststellen zu können. Die Anrainer sollen zudem über die eingesetzten Chemikalien informiert werden.

Die Mitgliedsstaaten bekommen damit aus Brüssel keine rechtlich verbindlichen Vorgaben. Potocnik kündigt aber an, dass die EU-Kommission die Umsetzung überprüfen und in anderthalb Jahren eine Bilanz ziehen will.

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 19th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

  • Obama: ‘No one expects China to have an open debate about their surveillance programmes’ (Photo: whitehouse.gov)

 

Obama promises not to spy on EU leaders

 

18.01.14  – THE EUobserver – by Andrew Rettman

 

 

 

BRUSSELSUS President Barack Obama has said he will not spy on EU leaders or conduct economic espionage, but will continue snooping on ordinary US and EU citizens.

He made the pledge in a TV speech on Friday (17 January) in reaction to the Edward Snowden leaks.

“I’ve made clear to the intelligence community that unless there is a compelling national security purpose, we will not monitor the communications of heads of state and government of our close friends and allies,” he said.

“We do not collect intelligence to provide a competitive advantage to US companies or US commercial sectors,” he added.

He justified the mass-scale collection of information on ordinary US or foreign nationals’ telephone calls, however.

“Why is this necessary? The programme grew out of a desire to address a gap identified after 9/11 … [It] was designed to map the communications of terrorists so we can see who they may be in contact with as quickly as possible,” he noted.

He promised to create a data privacy tsar to implement new safeguards.

The measures, enshrined in an executive order, centre round the future storage of intercepted phone data by an independent agency, which can only be accessed “after a judicial finding or in the case of a true emergency.”

Obama also ordered one of his spy chiefs, James Clapper, to draft better protection for US citizens whose internet data is caught in the NSA’s overseas operations.

He did not give non-US citizens any right of redress in US courts, however.

He also made no reference to the NSA’s most controversial exploits.

He said nothing on its introduction of bugs into commercial encryption software, on burglarising undersea cables, on hacking internet and phone companies, or bugging EU officials.

He also defended America’s right to spy in general.

He said: “The whole point of intelligence is to obtain information that is not publicly available.”

Counter-terrorism aside, he added: “Our intelligence agencies will continue to gather information about the intentions of governments … around the world in the same way that the intelligence services of every other nation does. We will not apologise simply because our services may be more effective.”

He noted that some foreign leaders “feigned surprise” on the Snowden leaks, while others “privately acknowledge” they need the NSA to protect their own countries.

He also claimed the US handling of the Snowden affair shows its respect for democratic values.

“No one expects China to have an open debate about their surveillance programmes or Russia to take privacy concerns of citizens in other places into account,” the US President noted.

For its part, the European Commission welcomed Obama’s words in a communique published shortly after he finished speaking.

“President Obama’s remarks and action show that the legitimate concerns expressed by the EU have been listened to by our US partner,” it said.

It promised to push for more, however.

It said it will seek “an improvement of the Safe Harbour scheme,” an EU-US pact on data handling by US firms.

It will also seek “the swift conclusion of an umbrella agreement on data protection in the area of law enforcement that will guarantee enforceable rights for EU citizens, including judicial redress.”

The European Parliament, which held an inquiry into the NSA affair, was more sceptical.

British centre-left deputy Claude Moraes, its NSA rapporteur, said Obama’s reaction is “substantial” but “weighted towards … a concerned US audience.”

He added that “lack of clarity” on the new safeguards mean “his comments may not have been enough to restore confidence.”

German Green MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht, who also took part in the NSA inquiry, was more critical.

He told EUobserver: “My impression is he [Obama] is making a change in rhetorical terms, not in substance.”

Albrecht said almost all NSA programmes, including Prism, which intercepts data held by internet firms like Google and Microsoft, “will be the same as before, there are no changes.”

He also said people should pay attention to the small print in Obama’s language.

He noted that the ban on spying on friendly “heads of state and government” leaves the US free to spy on lower-rank officials, such as foreign ministers.

He also noted that Obama included numerous “security carve-outs.”

For instance, the NSA can still bug German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone if “there is a compelling national security purpose.”

“European leaders will have to decide if they want to follow him, and lose the trust of their citizens in their ability to safeguard their basic rights,” Albrecht said.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 21st, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Voices from OPEN SOCIETY

For Safe and Effective Drug Policy, Look to the Dutch.

July 16, 2013 by Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch
Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch is director of the Open Society Global Drug Policy Program.


Global Drug Policy Program – For Safe and Effective Drug Policy, Look to the Dutch.


The country has virtually eliminated injecting drug use as a transmission of HIV and enjoys the lowest rate of problem drug use in Europe.


Why has the Netherlands—a country sometimes viewed as having a permissive approach to drugs—had better results than so many governments with much more strict policies?


A new report by the Open Society Global Drug Policy Program shows how the Netherlands maintained low rates of HIV among people who use drugs and comparatively low cannabis use among young people, all while avoiding the enforcement-heavy measures of its neighbors.

And while the Netherlands’ coffee shops, where cannabis is openly sold and consumed, command the most attention, the benefits of the Dutch model have not received enough focus.

The report includes the following findings:

Far fewer arrests for minor drug offenses occur. While it was recently reported that someone is arrested for marijuana possession in the U.S. every 42 seconds, Dutch citizens have generally been spared the burden of criminal records for minor, nonviolent offenses. According to one comparison, in 2005 there were 269 marijuana possession arrests for every 100,000 citizens in the United States, 206 in the United Kingdom, 225 in France, and just 19 in the Netherlands.

Lighter enforcement did not lead to more drug use. About 25.7 percent of Dutch citizens reported having used marijuana at least once, which is on par with the European average. In the comparatively strict United Kingdom, the rate is 30.2 percent and in the United States it is a whopping 41.9 percent.

While coffee shops generate about €400 million ($512 million USD) in annual revenue their main purposes were public health and social inclusion. Thus, the Netherlands invested heavily in treatment, prevention and harm reduction.

The logic behind the coffee shops is simply not well understood: they were introduced to protect cannabis users from exposure to harder drugs. The theory was that indiscriminate prohibition created a subculture in which users of drugs with vastly different risks are lumped together. Moreover, it was thought that saddling young people with criminal records might push them toward harder drugs.

Because different drugs carry different risks, the government surmised that they should be treated differently. This is known as a “separation of markets.”


Dutch policymakers realized that buying illicit marijuana put users in contact with dealers who also sold harder drugs. As designated commercial sources for marijuana evolved, drug users became much less likely to buy harder drugs from their cannabis sources.

For example, in Sweden, 52 percent of marijuana users report that other drugs are available from their usual cannabis source. In the Netherlands, only 14 percent of marijuana users can get other drugs from their cannabis source, according to European drug monitors. This is largely because the vast majority of cannabis users buy from coffee shops.

In addition, the country has virtually eliminated injecting drug use as a transmission of HIV and enjoys the lowest rate of problem drug use in Europe.

However, the Dutch approach is as vulnerable to politics as any policy. In a climate ripe for populism, interparty squabbles can lead to regressive drug policy approaches. In recent years, ambitious lawmakers or candidates have used drug policy as a wedge issue, attempting to establish more restrictive laws.

Proponents of the international status quo might claim that debates about drug policy in the Netherlands reflect an admission of failure on the part of Dutch lawmakers. This ignores the fact that the policy never failed. In some cases reforms were introduced as a means of dealing with local difficulties. In others, coffee shops represented an easy campaign platform. Yet none of this has undermined the accomplishments of Dutch drug policy or its broad public support.

The report shows the conversations currently underway about marijuana policy in the Netherlands have very little to do with success, failure, public health, or criminal justice. They are about politics.

And that is where the main questions about next steps arise. What comes next may depend on leadership, rather than results in public health and safety. Does the international community have the political will to learn from the lessons of the Netherlands and carry them even further?

Learn More at www.opensocietyfoundations.org/vo… Europe, Health, Rights & Justice, Drug Policy Reform

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 15th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Op-Ed Columnist at The New York Times writing from Tel Aviv


One-State Dream, One-State Nightmare.

By ROGER COHEN
Published: August 12, 2013

TEL AVIV — Let us deal, on the eve of the first direct peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians in almost three years, with the idea of one state. It hovers out there — as dream and as nightmare — and is best laid to rest.


First the dream: That somehow after all the wars and accumulation of hatred, Israelis and Palestinians can learn overnight to live together as equal citizens in some United States of the Holy Land, a binational and democratic secular state that resolves their differences and assures their intertwined futures.

Oh, what a seductive illusion (at least to some). Let’s set aside for a moment that the regional examples of such multiethnic states — Lebanon, Iraq and Syria come to mind — are not encouraging. Let’s set aside that such a state would have a hard time every May deciding whether to mark a Day of Independence for its Jewish citizens or a Day of Catastrophe for its Arab citizens.

Let’s set aside whether the Jabotinsky Streets of the imaginary country dear to the one-state brigade would become Arafat Streets, or vice versa, and whether to have a Begin Avenue or a Grand Mufti al-Husseini Boulevard. Let’s even set aside the fact that the two principal communities would be in constant, paralyzing battle, causing the best and the brightest to go elsewhere in search of opportunity and sanity.

The central issue is this: One state, however conceived, equals the end of Israel as a Jewish state, the core of the Zionist idea. Jews will not, cannot and must not allow this to happen. They have learned how dangerous it is to live without a certain refuge, as minorities, and will not again place their faith in the good will of others, nor trust in touchy-feely hope over bitter experience.

That is the ineradicable legacy of diaspora persecution and of the Holocaust. Emerging in the 19th century from the static ghetto into the Sturm und Drang of the modern world, the Jews saw two principle routes to emancipation: assimilation and Zionism.

The former was seductive. At first it offered rapid advancement, before it became clear that in this very advancement lay danger. It was a wager on acceptance that the Jews of Europe lost to Hitler: No citizen was more patriotic than the prewar German Jew.

Zionism, by contrast, placed no faith in others’ good will. It sought, rather, to usher Jews to the full realization of their nationhood and so, in a sense, normalize them — make them patriotic about something that was their own.

The world, in the form of the United Nations, upheld this quest in 1947, voting for the division of Mandate Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. Arab armies went to war — and the rest is history, including the now almost half-century-old occupation of the West Bank and Israeli dominion over millions of disenfranchised Palestinians.

And that brings us to one state as nightmare, which is what Israel, an extraordinary success story in many regards, faces today. The only way out of this nightmare is two states, one Israeli and one viable, contiguous Palestinian state living in peace and security beside it.

I sat with Yair Lapid, Israel’s centrist finance minister, son of a survivor of Nazi-occupied Hungary, grandson of a Hungarian Jew slaughtered in the camps, and he told me of his father’s repeated lesson: that he came to and fought for Israel so that Jews would “always have a place to go to.”

He said: “I have a lot of respect for the ethos of Greater Israel. I grew up in a house using this language. But we do understand that in the long term, if we stay there, that will be the end of the Zionist idea. We cannot live in one state. This will be a version of one state for two nations, and that this is the end of Zionism. Eventually the Palestinians will come to us and say, O.K., you decided we are not going to have a country at all, so we want to vote. If you say no, you are South Africa in its worst days. If you say yes, it is the end of the Jewish country, and I want to live in a Jewish country.”

Lapid argued that the all-the-land absolutists — Economics Minister Naftali Bennett and Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin among them — are, in their rejection of the two-state idea, undermining the idea of a Jewish state over time and so undercutting the core of Zionism and his own father’s life-shaping message. He is right.

Lapid later issued a statement criticizing Israel’s decision to publish construction bids Sunday for more than 1,000 housing units in contested East Jerusalem and several West Bank settlements. “To poke sticks in the wheels of peace talks is not right,” he said, “and not helpful to the process.” Right again.

One state as delusional fantasy of some Middle Eastern idyll and one state as nightmarish temptation involving the indefinite Israeli subjugation of another people are equally unacceptable.

As the Talmud says, hold too much and you will hold nothing.

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Roger Cohen ought to have visited with Uri Avnery as well – to get it that some in Israel saw reality for a long time.

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But then we find a different point of view – the one we tend to define as wishful thinking

August 14, 2013
Is convergence the object of the peace process negotiations.

By Ted Belman of Israeli Right-wing Israpundit. That found the following:

“I attended a briefing today by an employee of the government who was very involved with everything going on in J&S {Judea and Samaria}. I will try to interview her on Skype and record it.”

She said many things of importance. This is what I can remember:

1. Israel wants the EU and US Aid to continue financing projects in Area C even if this means that the EU has a say in what, when and why of the projects. Thus we are relinquishing our independence or control for this money. The sad thing is that the money involved is a little over $1 billion dollars, just a third of what we get from the US. Better to forfeit the $1 billion and remain in control of J&S.

2. No one including Kerry has confidence in the peace process so why is Kerry pushing it. That’s because it is a cover for a hidden agenda which she would not disclose.

I believe the hidden agenda is to define what settlements will remain in Israel and what will be abandoned. If they can come to terms on this then Israel would be able to build as much as she wants in the blocs that are ceded to her and will refrain from building in the rest. The Palestinian’s would have succeeded in stopping Israel construction in most of Area C.
Israel would have solved the illegal settlement accusation and would be free to build excessively in what has been conceded to her. Of course this means that she will start incentivising the Israelis in the doomed settlements to start evacuating them. This could be done over a five year period as new homes become available for them to move into. Previous administrations called it “convergence”.

3. Both Israel and the US want Abbas and Fatah to remain in power to prevent Hamas from taking over. It may be that Israel agreed to the prisoner release as an aid to Abbas to enhance his appeal to ward off Hamas. Considering that Abbas agreed to enter negotiations and may have agreed to make an interim deal on housing construction he would need this release to cover his ass.

4. Israel supports the building of Rawabi and the new city near Jericho because it concentrates the Arabs and prevents small enclaves from being built. Thus the plan for the city near Jericho is to house the many Arabs living all throughout the Jordan Valley. This is what Israel is trying to do with the Bedouin sprawl in the Negev.

5. We are really talking about a three state solution, Gaza, Palestine and Israel. Very few expect a reconciliation between Gaza and Palestine. Thus they don’t have to be connected. Abbas keeps spending half his budget on paying former Fatah employees living in Gaza. This is to maintain his influence over Gaza but this is a futile exercise. It won’t go on for ever. Some say we are talking about a four state solution if we include Jordan. To this end, Jordan is involved in the talks.

6.The Palestinians have little interest in their environment, sewage treatment, air quality, town planning etc.

7 College grads in the West Bank (J&S) have an unemployment rate of 28%. They represent a destabilizing influence. Israel is trying to raise GDP believing that the better the economic well being, the less terrorism. Avi Bell took issue with this saying there was no study supporting it.

Currently Jewish births exceed 130,000 while Arab births in Israel and J&S are about 80,000. When we factor in Jewish immigration of 20,000 a year and Arab emigration of 20,000 per year, 150,000 Jews are added to our numbers as against only 60,000 Arabs. Looking real good.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 9th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Israeli Professor to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom.

August 9, 2013
 www.algemeiner.com/2013/08/09/isr…

Israel’s Professor Daniel Kahneman, 79, who received the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics, has been named one of the 16 recipients of the 2013 United States Presidential Medal of Freedom, the White House announced Thursday.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is America’s highest civilian honor, recognizing individuals who have made an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the U.S., world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

The awards will be presented at the White House later this year.

“Daniel Kahneman is a pioneering scholar of psychology. After escaping Nazi occupation [in France] in World War II, Dr. Kahneman immigrated to Israel, where he served in the Israel Defense Forces and trained as a psychologist. Alongside Amos Tversky, he applied cognitive psychology to economic analysis, laying the foundation for a new field of research and earning the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002. He is currently a professor at Princeton University,” the White House’s statement said.

Born in Tel Aviv in 1934, Kahneman spent his childhood years in Paris. After his family escaped the Nazis, he immigrated to Israel in 1948. Kahneman is professor emeritus at Princeton University’s Department of Psychology and Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, as well as a fellow at Hebrew University and a Gallup Senior Scientist. He is considered one of the world’s foremost researchers in the fields of the psychology of judgment and decision-making, behavioral economics and hedonic psychology.

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Israel’s Split Personality.

By ROGER COHEN
Published as Op Ed at the New York Times: August 8, 2013

JERUSALEM — Israel has just embarked, yet again, on U.S.-brokered peace talks with the Palestinians.

Zeev Elkin, the deputy foreign minister and a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, gives it to me straight: “Netanyahu changed his mind. It was some kind of revolution. Ten years ago he was responsible for the decision of our party against a two-state solution.” He continues: “We have a big argument between him and us on this. I respect his position and he respects mine.” And what is Elkin’s position on two states for two peoples? “Now I don’t believe in it.”

Netanyahu is opposed by his own party. He is opposed by the man who is in effect his acting foreign minister. He is opposed by prominent members of his own government, including Economy Minister Naftali Bennett.

Israel has just agreed to release more than 100 Palestinian prisoners as a gesture of goodwill. Elkin says he cannot understand how “to release terrorists and murderers with blood on their hands is something good for peace” but “building a kindergarten in Judea and Samaria is worse for peace.”

The West Bank is referred to as Judea and Samaria by religious nationalists and others committed to holding all Eretz Israel.

The gesture of goodwill comes as Israel Hayom reports that “as of July 1, 2013, the size of the Jewish Israeli population in Judea and Samaria stood at 367,000. In the first half of 2013, roughly 7,700 new residents were added. This is, as noted, a 2.12 percent rise in the population in a six-month period.” So this year, it seems, population growth has been faster in the West Bank settlements than in the rest of Israel.

Do goodwill gestures and settlement expansion make sense? Often Israel’s personality seems split. Its prosperity purrs. Its unease lurks. I listen to friends here. Like Goethe’s Faust, two souls seem to beat within them.

Yakov would be my liberal Israeli composite, an imaginary guy who spends a lot of his week working on a big business project in Turkey (“Don’t believe what you read in the papers”) while developing the killer app that will make his fortune in his spare time. His internal dialogue swings wildly between confidence and disquiet: “Hey, we just sold Waze, a navigation app for smart phones that helps you beat traffic, for over $1 billion to Google and now AOL is paying $405 million for another fruit of Israeli genius — don’t ask me what that does, puh-lease. And, hey, check out the Tel Aviv skyline. See the cranes? This place is Boomland, man. The French are pouring in — they even love our wine!”

Then a darker voice surfaces: “Woke up in a cold sweat. We’re isolated! Same old story, Jews getting blamed for everything. I know we don’t need the European Union, but what’s with cutting off E.U. funding to institutions based or operating over the Green Line? Talk about preempting a negotiation, it’s not like we know where the border is yet…. And Stephen Hawking, canceling his appearance at the Israeli Presidential Conference, how rude is that…. I mean, the Arabs hate us, O.K. The Turks pretend to hate us, O.K. The Persians try their best to hate us, O.K. But we’re part of the West, of Europe, they can’t hate the Jews (again), that’s not O.K.”

Yakov’s mood swings are sharpest over the conflict. A voice says: “I am completely supportive of the peace process — so long as it does not get to a solution. A solution could be problematic. You have to hand it to Netanyahu, by starting the peace process he has made peace. With Obama! Do I accept the idea of two states? Yes I do. Do I want two states? That is a different question … ”

At which point an angry voice will be raised: “Of course you don’t want two states.
Look what happened when we withdrew from South Lebanon: Hezbollahland!
And when we withdrew from Gaza: Hamasland!
Is that what you want in Judea and Samaria?
You want rockets not just in the south but all over Israel blowing up our children?
Olmert offered everything and still they refused it. You want Jerusalem divided?”

Deep inside Yakov there is a white Ashkenazi Israeli liberal, that dying breed. He knows the Jews are not going away; nor are the Palestinians.
He believes the Jews did not leave the European ghetto to build walls. The Jews did not emerge from millennia of exile to impose exile on another people, did not escape dominion to inflict dominion.
He believes, still, in the possibility of peace through territorial compromise in the occupied West Bank.
“The status quo is unsustainable,” his voice of reason says.

Another rebukes him: “You prefer Syria? You prefer Egypt? Our ‘conflict’ is a haven of Middle East stability.”

Yakov checks his cool Waze app, product of Israeli genius. It shows heavy traffic ahead — bottlenecks, road works, bloody accidents.
He wants the quickest, most peaceful way home. But of course that requires the most elusive of things: agreement on what the Jewish homeland is.

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And that brings us to our own position:

Yes, Israel is troubled but when viewing the neighborhood it is nevertheless an island of peace already.

The Arab desert that was sleepy since it was reorganized by the British and the French one hundred years ago, is in effect just waking up. Sure, there are elements in this Arab mass that look to the West as a model of civilization, but then there are masses in each Arab State that want to go back a thousand years instead. The Arab world at large has not evolved yet into the age of Enlightenment and not even Nationalism – instead the people believe that by turning back to true religion they will shake off the oppression of their own dictators – and to make this more generally palatable – hit first any foreigners. Foreign bodies are in their eyes even their own brothers who rather then waiting for the emergence of Islam have seen in Christianity their entree to the civilized world. Most affected being the Copts of Egypt – but then there were many very old Christian sects in Iraq and Syria as well. These communities are being decimated continuously by this wakening Islamic revolution. In Iraq the process is about to end – the country will be clean of any non-Muslims. In Syria it is just going on.

Syria is fractured many-ways and outsiders are pouring in to bolster their preferred sides. In a short time it will be like in Spain in the thirties – it will be the foreigners fighting each other on Syrian soil – and with the US and Russia backing different sides – if not careful – a major conflagration might occur – right there on the door steps of Israel. Who can dare to tell the Israelis to return the Golan Heights to Syria under such conditions. Do the Palestinians have a dream of becoming another Syria? If there is any chance for the Israelis and Palestinians to get together – this can come only when these two sides decide that the Syrian model is even worse and that a model of Israeli-Palestinian trust – in order to avoid the Syrian model requires the end of Hamas militancy – the closing of the door to the Outside Hezbollah movement and a true attempt at making peace based on aq psychology of the best economic joint interests. This is not just a dream – it is Nobel Prize material indeed. Syria is doomed by the Arab World at large and this ought to be the cause of the awakening of the Palestinians who finally ought to get it that their enemies are not just the Israeli invaders but as well the Arab despots that never cared about them but used them for their own methods of shunning internal criticism of the way they exploited their own States.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 23rd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Shuttle diplomacy under way on global aviation emissions deal.

Date: 23-Jul-13

Reported by Valerie Volcovici of the Environmental News Service of Reuters by geting the information by e-mail.

Diplomatic talks on a deal to curb greenhouse gas emissions from the global aviation industry have intensified recently as EU and U.S. officials try to stave off the threat of a trade war, lawmakers and observers said.

Peter Liese, a member of the European Parliament from the conservative German Christian-Democratic Union, led a delegation to meet with Obama administration officials in Washington last week to discuss the issue.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the United Nations’ civil aviation body, has until September to complete a resolution on a market-based plan that would curb rising greenhouse gas emissions from global airlines.

Should the UN organization fail, the European Union could try to re-impose an emissions trading system on global airlines. The EU postponed the implementation of the law in 2012 to give the ICAO time to devise a global approach.

Liese sees only a 50 percent chance the ICAO talks can deliver a deal strong enough to avoid a revival of the law and avoid threats of a trade war.

“Unless we have progress in the next six to seven weeks, we will run into a big problem,” Liese told Reuters.

Liese said drafts of the resolution that ICAO assembly delegates will consider at their triennial meeting, which starts in Montreal on September 24, might not be not ambitious enough to pass muster.

“We made very clear that what is on the table now is not enough,” Liese said.

He added that a deal acceptable to Europeans would unambiguously clarify that there will be an international agreement from 2020 onward.

The ICAO narrowed its options in May to three market-based measures, including a mandatory offsetting scheme.

The following month, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), set up to help the UN harmonize aviation after World War II, backed a system in which airlines would offset increased emissions after 2020 by buying carbon credits from projects that cut them in other sectors. A wider coalition of aviation groups endorsed the plan in recent weeks.

Nancy Young, vice president for environmental affairs for U.S. airline lobby group Airlines for America, said the strong industry backing of a market-based emissions plan should give the ICAO “very strong momentum to reach an agreement.”

The agreement, she said, will not be a detailed framework, but “a glide path toward a single market-based measure by 2016,” the year the next ICAO assembly takes place.

SHUTTLE DIPLOMACY !!!

The ICAO’s 36-member leadership council is scheduled to meet on September 4, when it is expected to discuss a final resolution.

If the council agrees to the draft, it is likely the plan will be endorsed by the full assembly when it convenes in late September-early October, said Annie Petsonk, international counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund, who tracks the negotiations.

Petsonk and Young said there has been intensive “shuttle diplomacy” over the last few weeks, with European officials coming to Washington and U.S. officials going to the ICAO headquarters in Montreal.

In addition, meetings between countries with similar views on the issue have been taking place. For example, China and India, which along with the United States strongly opposed the imposition of the European trading scheme on their airlines, are likely meeting ahead of the assembly to coordinate objections to the ICAO’s proposed resolution.

Liese said U.S. and EU officials might also have to consider a potential bilateral agreement if the ICAO fails to agree on a deal that would stave off the threat of a trade war.

But Jos Delbeke, director-general for climate action for the European Commission, was optimistic.

“Negotiations inside ICAO are in full swing, and we are confident that a useful resolution is going to be adopted in Sept/Oct,” Delbeke told Reuters in an email.

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Talking Carbon Credits is just not the way to do something about global emissions – taxation is the way to sharpen the mind of private enterprise and trade wars in this respect are nothing to shrink away from – this is in every environmentalist’s balanced mind.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 18th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Anniversary of the Terrorist Attacks in Burgas, Bulgaria and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Press Statement to the Western Hemisphere, Europe and Eurasia lists of the US Department of State.
Marie Harf
Deputy Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
July 18, 2013

The United States notes that July 18 marks the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attack in Burgas, Bulgaria, that claimed the lives of six innocent civilians and the 19 year anniversary of the attack in Buenos Aires, Argentina that killed 85 innocent victims. We extend our condolences to the people of Bulgaria, Argentina, and Israel for the tragic loss of life and call for the perpetrators of these attacks to be brought to justice.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 2nd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Bhopal (/bo??p??l/ (Hindustani pronunciation: [b?o?pa?l] is the capital of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh and the administrative headquarters of Bhopal District and Bhopal Division. The city was the capital of the former Bhopal State. Bhopal is known as the City of Lake for its various natural as well as artificial lakes and is also one of the greenest cities in India.

Bhopal houses various institutions and installations of national importance. Some of these include ISRO’s Master Control Facility, the CSIR, AIIMS Bhopal, National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) AMPRI, MANIT, IISER, SPA, IIFM, BHEL and NLIU.

The city attracted international attention after the Bhopal disaster, when a Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide manufacturing plant leaked a mixture of deadly gases including methyl isocyanate on the intervening night of 2 / 3 December 1984, leading to the worst industrial disaster in the city’s history. Since then, Bhopal has been a center of protests and campaigns which have been joined by people from across the globe. {Wikipedia}

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Alternet’s Smirking Chimp / By Bob Burnett

Is America Turning into Texas?
What’s happened Texas graphically illustrates the choice facing America.

July 2, 2013

On April 17 there was a horrific explosion at the West Chemical and Fertilizer plant in West, Texas, that killed 15 people, injured more than 200, destroyed or damaged 150 homes and caused at least $100 million in losses. Five days later, Texas Governor Rick Perry was in Illinois trying to lure business to Texas, praising his state’s limited regulations. Is Texas America’s future?

Republican conservatives have a simple economic precept: what’s good for business is good for America. Conservatives believe states should provide a “business friendly” environment with low taxes and few regulations. They argue this inevitably creates jobs and builds community through the “trickle-down” theory of Reaganomics: “a rising tide lifts all boats.”

Texas is the foremost practitioner of the conservative theory. This year Chief Executive Magazine voted Texas “the best state to do business in” for the ninth consecutive year, citing factors such as low taxes and sparse regulations. Texas’ 6.5 percent unemployment rate is below the national average.

But the Texas economy has negative aspects that contributed to the explosion at the West Chemical and Fertilizer plant. There is no state fire code and McLennan, the county that housed the plant, also has no fire code. According to the New York Times

Texas has also had the nation’s highest number of workplace fatalities — more than 400 annually — for much of the past decade. Fires and explosions at Texas’ more than 1,300 chemical and industrial plants have cost as much in property damage as those in all the other states combined for the five years ending in May 2012.

In much of Texas zoning laws are non-existent. In 1962, when the West Chemical and Fertilizer plant originally opened, the facility was far from downtown; in recent years, a school, nursing home, and apartment complex were built nearby.

A consequence of Texas’ “anything goes” attitude is not only the nation’s highest number of workplace fatalities but also America’s dirtiest environment. According to the Houston Chronicle Texas leads the U.S. in greenhouse gas emissions.

Texas’ coal-fired power plants and oil refineries generated 294 million tons of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in 2010, more than the next two states — Pennsylvania and Florida — combined.

Regrettably, many Texans lack adequate health care. The Texas Observer reports that the state ranks first in the nation for adults without health insurance.

Over the last decade, Texas added thousands of jobs in construction and energy. Unfortunately, Texas leads the nation in construction fatalities.

The Texas construction industry is characterized by dangerous working conditions, low wages, and legal violations that hurt working families and undercut honest businesses.

Furthermore, an average of 39 energy industry workers die each year.

Oil and gas field services and drilling workers were killed on the job in Texas more than those in any other profession, according to a Houston Chronicle analysis of five years of fatal accidents investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

And when Texans are injured on the job, they often have great difficulty getting their medical claims reimbursed. Texas is the only state where employers have a choice about paying worker’s compensation. If the worker’s employer doesn’t provide coverage, the worker has to file a civil claim. But even when there is worker’s compensation, the system is notoriously difficult.

Texas Governor Rick Perry roams the U.S. luring workers to Texas with the promise of good jobs, but the reality is unimpressive. Writing in the American IndependentPatrick Brendel observed the new Texas jobs are primarily low-wage jobs:

Texas has by far the largest number of employees working at or below the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour in 2010) compared to any state, according to a [Bureau of Labor Statistics] report. In 2010, about 550,000 Texans were working at or below minimum wage, or about 9.5 percent of all workers paid by the hour in the state.

On June 14, Governor Perry vetoed an equal pay bill.

Meanwhile, the ruined city of West, Texas, is struggling to recover. Total losses will be more than $100 million and FEMA likely will reimburse only 10 percent. The City of West has sued the owner and supplier of the West Chemical and Fertilizer Plant.

On April 22 Texas Governor Rick Perry was asked about the explosion at the West Chemical and Fertilizer Plant and contended that “more government intervention and increased spending on safety inspections would not have prevented” the West catastrophe.

What’s happened in West and Texas graphically illustrates the choice facing America. We can adopt an extreme pro-business strategy and subordinate worker pay and safety; we can, in effect, tell the 99 percent, “You’re on your own.” Or we can adopt a strategy that puts people first; we can decide that capitalism has to be subordinate to democracy and protect the rights of all Americans.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 12th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Can One Analyze the Ways of Future Business By Looking At Past Results of Industry and Marketing?

We just listened in at the great 6-th Vienna Industry Congress and are inclined more then ever to answer by saying – No.

The topic was – CHANCES FOR GROWTH IN 2020.

The organizers were The Industry Magazine Publishers GmbH which is an independent Austrian publishing company with focus  on high-quality professional media service to high benefit readers. We hoped it can function as a Think Tank but in this sense we were disappointed. It rather provided to its audience good examples of past experience and was highlighted by good speakers with excellent understanding for the ways of the past. We got there after having sat in the previous week at the expansive Power-Gen Europe – June 4-6th Vienna Conference & Exhibition, and the May 28-30th  Vienna Energy Forum – but found no echos whatsoever of what was presented at those events  – at this industry policy event.

The Speakers included:

- Dr. Georg Pachta-Reyhofen, Spokesman for MAN SE – Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg – specialist on Brazi,
- Dirk Mueller, Financial Adviser with the German Federal Parliament,
- Professor F. J. Radermacher of the University of Ulm is President of the Global Economic Network that advocates for a Global Marshall Plan Initiative, and he is a Member of the Club of Rome while advocating the need for nuclear power.
- Professor Hans Olaf Henkel, Former President of the Federal Association of German Industries (BDI) and Chairman of IBM.
-
Stephan Schulmeister, of WIFO (the Austrian Institute of Economic Research).  
- Andreas Gerstenmayer, the 2010-2018 Chairman of the Management Board of AT&S – Europe’s largest printed circuit board manufacturer ith plants also in China, India, and Korea.
- Otmar Petsching, VicePresident of the Industrialists Union
- Christian Berger, Country Manager for Austria of Coface (Compagnie Francaise d’Assurance pour le Commerce Exterieur),
- Andrea Hagmann of the Austrian Development Bank.

Mr. Mueller made a brilliant observation: “The trouble is, that debtors, who manage to repay their loans, repay it to the bank where they got it from. The banks in turn credit the repayment plus interest to the accounts of the owners. Multi-millionaires and billionaires, even if they wanted to use their money for consumption, would simply be unable to spend it all. Thus, the monetary assets remain in the system and the banks have to find new debtors who are creditworthy enough to earn the interest, which the banks owe to the owners of monetary assets. In the long run, this becomes more and more difficult as monetary assets and the respective debts grow. Therefore, the banks increasingly turned to speculation in order to gain the necessary means for servicing the monetary assets. For that purpose they have also invented obscure new financial instruments. To put it short: the total indebtedness remains in the system and increases, regardless of individual debtors repaying their debt. Banks which suffered from losses in speculation, called for bailouts only in order to maintain liability towards their obligees.” He is obviously right and this observation just tells us that we are in the Developed World in a sub-total hopeless run.

MAN supplies trucks, buses diesel engines and turbomachinery. Until September 2012 MAN SE was one of the top 30 companies listed on the German stock exchange (DAX).   The company celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2008. In 2008, its 51,300 employees generated annual sales of around €15 billion in 120 different countries. Now Volkswagen AG  owns MAN SE. Nevertheless the company operates through fully owned subsidiaries or joint ventures with local companies in India, Poland, Turkey, China, United States, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Uzbekistan, Portugal and Germany/Austria.  — But is the world going to stay for-ever with diesel operated turbo-machinery?  Is the company adjusting to new technologies?

Professor Hans-Olaf Henkel is now Professor of Business Economics at the University of Mannheim and is still considered to be one of Germany’s most courageous, resourceful and respected business leaders. In the Vienna meeting he was paired of in the debate with Mag. Dr. Stephan Schulmeister who studies among other things – the connection between asset price dynamics and the long-term shift away from activity in goods markets to activity in financial markets, and its consequences for economic growth, employment and the European social model.

The Global Marshall Plan calls for balancing the world economy with an Eco-Social Market Economy.

We heard that the EURO is Greek Tragedy and there is no easy way out – only the best of the worst. We have to accept that what we would like is not what we will get. If we wanted an Euro we had to accept Centralism with a Central Government. We got instead the idea of Harmonization and changed the one man – one vote concept of democracy to one land – one vote. All that came back to haunt Europe when the Euro-crisis hit.
That is when it turned out that Germany, that was very popular in Greece earlier, was so depreciated that Chancellor Merkel needed 7,000 police to guard her in her recent visit to Greece. It is ridiculous that the Germans tell the Greeks to privatize the trains – something they would not consider for themselves – or them telling the Spaniards that they take too much vacation – something that is flatly not true.

The Money Union turned to a Debt Union, and now INFLATION seems to be the only way out. If you ask what to do with your money? Buy a home or place it outside the EU.

Helmut Kohl used to argue the decisions are political – not economic. Milton Freedman used to say the State is responsible for the debt. Merkel says like the Swedish Hausfrau  – if she has to save so the State.

It is like 1929-1932 – except that it is not within the economy – it becomes a fight between the States – getting there in a peaceful way.
The turbulence in Europe started in 2008 with the global financial crisis. We have no fire-wall. The Euro was created without fire-walls so a disease in one EU State becomes an epidemy in all EU States.

The remedy? A re-nationalization of the banks. Sarkozy, Lagarde, Dominique Kahn, are to be blamed, and we see that it was dumped on Greece in order to save the French banks. Re-nationalization can save the banks from themselves – this as a first step for a way out. No bail out – not for States and not for banks. There is no other solution – it was difficult to make one money out of 17 – it will be much more difficult if it were attempted now to make two moneys out of one.  The truth is that today France needs more exports then Italy does.

Germany used to export to the Euro-zone countries 46% of its exports – this dropped to 36% while exports to China, the US, India, etc. have increased. This is a measure of the true facts. When you find you are in a cul-de-sac you must make a U-turn. The later you do it the more difficult it gets.

A common currency? Yes – this if you agree on a common repayment of the debt.
The secret of CAPITAL is the STATE DEBT – so there is always something in the economy that is based on something that is not reality!

Someone from the audience wanted to know why we cannot tell the banks to stay under rules? The answer was that the rogue banks will go to a third State. It is an infrastructure situation for the economy. We are not bankers here – we come from the industry. Banks must have rules like you cannot play soccer with one team of 10 players and another of 11 players. If intentionally there are no rules – you just cannot play. If you nationalize – you will not hear of those absurd salaries! too big to fail – is too big period. This is not just for Volkswagen – it is for the banks as well.
It is grotesque that the banks do not participate in the outcome. Bottom line – it is a financial crisis before there is a debt crisis. We cannot say that a 40 year economy was all wrong. The market is right – the politics are wrong.

Doing business in Latin America compared to Asia? Yes, the real advantage is because there is a European culture background and language – a Christian background. I would not try to go via English and would recommend a local CEO – a former Minister or so. But the real growth is only in Brazil. One produces machinery in Brazil and imports machinery from China to the other Latin States. From other Latin States it would be too expensive to export to Brazil.

——–

I liked what I heard – so why did I say – what I said in my opening?

This because I also heard that India will never over-take China – and this meant to me that the speaker does not really understand the China of today – neither the India of today. Our old argument that the Chinese reality is that they produce great engineers, but the Indian reality is that they produce great scientists. True, you have many more students from China at MIT – but the Silicone Valley at Palo Alto would go out of business today without the Indians. It takes time – but eventually science and innovation gets ahead of engineering, and eventually employs the engineers.

Also, it is futuristical-inexcusable if we do not make place for the upcoming changes in technologies that will lead to changes in business. Further, it is becoming common-place that developing countries leap-frog to new technologies and these windows to the future ought to be opened as well to the audience that wants to figure out how to navigate in the present unruly waters of the economy – Europe and the World at large as well.
I spoke privately with some of the presenters with great experience, but did not get the impression that they did consider the potential of changes- in-the-making thanks to already available technologies.

 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 11th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Op-Ed

Op-Ed Contributor

The Ghosts of Europe Past

By BRENDAN SIMMS

 CAMBRIDGE, England — THE cheerleaders of the European Union like to think of it as an entirely new phenomenon, born of the horrors of two world wars. But in fact it closely resembles a formation that many Europeans thought they had long since left to the dustbin of history: the Holy Roman Empire, the political commonwealth under which the Germans lived for many hundreds of years.

The similarities with the Holy Roman Empire — which at its greatest extent encompassed almost all of Central Europe — exist at many levels. Today’s European Council, at which the union’s member states gather, reminds one of the old Reichstag, where the representatives of the German cities and principalities met to deliberate matters of mutual concern.

On the other hand – The  American Constitution created a powerful executive presidency and a representative legislature and made possible the creation of a consolidated national debt, a national bank and eventually a strong military, all of which in time turned the United States into the superpower it is today. The Holy Roman Empire, by contrast, failed to reform and disintegrated after it was defeated by Napoleonic France in 1806.

Some 200 years later, this history has been forgotten. Today’s constant round of European summit meetings and reform initiatives remind one of nothing so much as the interminable and futile German “imperial reform debate,” and they are likely to have a similarly unhappy, if less spectacular, end.

Fortunately, there is a solution from history. The euro zone faces the same choice as the Holy Roman Empire and American patriots of old: how to overcome discredited forms of confederation. Rather than digging themselves into a deeper recession and democratic deficit through austerity measures, the states in the common currency need to form a full and mighty union on Anglo-American lines. They must create a strong executive presidency elected by popular vote across the euro zone, a truly empowered house of citizens elected according to population and a senate representing the regions.

www.nytimes.com/2013/06/10/opinion/the-ghosts-of-europe-past.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130610&_r=0

Bill Keller

Op-Ed Columnist

Affirmative Reaction

By BILL KELLER

Five reasons to rethink diversity in higher education.

Over the years, following the work of scholars like Richard Kahlenberg at the Century Foundation, Anthony Carnevale of Georgetown and Marta Tienda of Princeton, I’ve come to think there may be a better way to accomplish diversity: namely, by shifting attention from race to class. The idea is controversial, the execution is complicated and it doesn’t come cheap, but it promises a richer kind of variety — and it is less likely to run afoul of the Supreme Court.

We already have a growing body of experience in several states where race-based affirmative action has been curtailed by courts or ballot initiatives. Universities in those states have tried creative ways to achieve diversity by weighing economic factors. Some have expanded their outreach and financial aid to low-income or working-class students of all races, or to children of single parents, or to students from families where no one has gone to college.
 www.nytimes.com/2013/06/10/opinio…

. Columnist Page | Blog

 

Paul Krugman

Op-Ed Columnist

The Big Shrug

By PAUL KRUGMAN

Depression becomes the new normal.

People considered normal in those long-ago days before the financial crisis an economy adding a million or more jobs each year, enough to keep up with the growth in the working-age population. Normal meant an unemployment rate not much above 5 percent, except for brief recessions. And while there was always some unemployment, normal meant very few people out of work for extended periods.

Today the number of Americans with jobs is still down two million from six years ago, 7.6 percent of the work force is unemployed (with many more underemployed or forced to take low-paying jobs), and more than four million of the unemployed have been out of work for more than six months.

For more than three years some of us have fought the policy elite’s damaging obsession with budget deficits, an obsession that led governments to cut investment when they should have been raising it, to destroy jobs when job creation should have been their priority. That fight seems largely won — in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like the sudden intellectual collapse of austerity economics as a policy doctrine.

But while insiders no longer seem determined to worry about the wrong things, that’s not enough; they also need to start worrying about the right things — namely, the plight of the jobless and the immense continuing waste from a depressed economy. And that’s not happening. Instead, policy makers both here and in Europe seem gripped by a combination of complacency and fatalism, a sense that nothing need be done and nothing can be done. Call it the big shrug.

The unemployed don’t have much of a political voice. Profits are sky-high, stocks are up, so things are O.K. for the people who matter, right?

If the Fed would show the “Rooseveltian resolve” that Ben Bernanke demanded of Japanese officials back when he was an independent economist, we would quickly discover that there’s nothing normal or necessary about mass long-term unemployment.

So here’s my message to policy makers: Where we are is not O.K. Stop shrugging, and do your jobs.

www.nytimes.com/2013/06/10/opinion/krugman-the-big-shrug.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130610

. Columnist Page | Blog

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 2nd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

 

 

Are We Witnessing the Long-Awaited Turnaround in EU Economic Policy?

 

 

On May 29, the EU Commission (as well as OECD) published its assessment of the budgetary and reform programs of its member states and issued its “country-specific recommendations”  – with the exception of Portugal, Greece and Cyprus which had already received their “adjustment programs” earlier.

Media reporting focused on the extension (by 2 years) of the time by which some countries have to achieve their medium-term objectives, and on President Hollande’s rebuke of the EC’s recommendations for France.

Commission President Barroso spoke of the need to loosen the consolidation efforts and to start combating unemployment, especially for youths. 6 bill EUR should be available for this purpose. Suddenly, promoting growth is no longer a taboo. The recent Franco-German announcement of an impending
“gouvernement economique” or “verstärkter Koordinierungsmechanismus”
also give some hope.

 

Still, Barroso (and the EC) thinks that ”structural reforms” in goods and labor markets are the key to growth, and thus need to be speeded up. His (marginal) slowing down of austerity is not based on the recognition that the EU crisis strategy has proven to be a complete failure, but “only” on the lack of political acceptance by the unemployed citizens of the EU.
A turnaround in policy, a necessary change in the policy paradigm, this is not.

 

It seems to be impossible for politicians, both national and supranational ones, to admit past mistakes. But this would be the pre-requirement for a turnaround. Barroso and the others act as if everything so far had been going according to plan, had been successful, and that now one just adds another element to the heretofor successful strategy. This behavior, repression of facts, has been analyzed extensively by my late compatriot Sigmund Freud.
It prevents new insights from coming onto the radar screen, a requirement for a new direction.

 

Technically, the EC assessed the Stability Programs and the Reform Programs. In its own words, by assessing them jointly, the EC purports to assess the complete economic policy of its member states. Let us look at the Austrian assessment as a case in point.

 

Economic growth is mentioned only with respect to the Austrian forecasts which underlie the programs – which are seen as being too optimistic. The prime objective of the analysis is, as usual, the positively assessed path of budget consolidation. The medium-term objective (as structural deficit of 0.45% of GDP) should be achieved 2 years earlier than originally (2017) planned. But Austria’s public expenditure share path again is seen as too optimistic. With respect to the tax system, the EC tells the Austrians that the least growth-damaging real estate taxes are far below the EU average, and thus could be increased.

 

The most important points of criticism concern the labor market: the participation rates of females and seniors are by far too low, income differences between genders too high, the pension age for women creeps only marginally towards that of men, early retirement is still to prevalent; education achievements are under par, at the same time costs of the system too high, migrants are left behind. All this against the background of the recognition that (measured) unemployment in Austria is the lowest in the EU. The EC criticizes also inadequacies in financial market supervision between home and host countries, as well as too many barriers for professional services and for personal services in health and care sectors.

 

For all these areas, EC gives recommendations to speed up reforms. All these points are well taken (by me, not necessarily the authorities), but: their implementation alone, while important, does not generate growth. There is not enough emphasis on promoting innovation, on real problems with the tertiary education system, no mentioning at all about a positive growth expectation – which would require an increase in effective demand in Europe. The structural problems of the financial sector are largely ignored, with the exception of the possible budgetary consequences of winding down one of the nationalized banks.

 

Macropolicy is not mentioned, not in the Austrian assessment, not in the assessment of the Eurozone. There EC mentions the need to achieve an adequate policy mix by better coordination of budget consolidation and structural policies, but no word is lost on coordination between the fiscal stance of the Eurozone and ECB’s monetary policy. This shows once more that macroeconomic policy is a foreign concept to the EC, that economic policy consists of budget policy cum supply side (micro) economics. Briefly, imbalances in foreign trade are mentioned, plus its necessary “rebalancing”, but that is it. When reading the documents, one sees that the focus on individual countries’ assessment virtually crowds out the assessment of the Eurozone and the EU as a whole. They are seen as the sum of the individual countries, but not as an objective of macroeconomic policy.

 

Conclusion: Nothing much has changed in the EU’s policy orientation. While the soaring youth unemployment is – finally – seen as a major (mainly political) problem, austerity is slowed down and youth training programs are encouraged. But this is not a change in the mainly austerity-driven paradigm. It does appear that the requirements of the financial markets still drive EU economic policy, rather than the life expectations of the EU citizens. The recent news about the watering-down and delay of the Financial Transactions Tax are only one indicator of this. The objective that the EU should pursue the welfare of its populations, enshrined in the Treaty, seems to have been forgotten.

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Op-Ed Columnist – THE NEW YORK TIMES.

Prisoners of the Euro

TO its custodians and admirers, the European Union is the only force standing between its member states and the age-old perils of chauvinism, nationalism and war. That was the pointed message that the Nobel Committee sent last year, when it awarded the union a Peace Prize for its role in “the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights.” And it is the message hammered home relentlessly by the Continent’s politicians, who believe their citizens face a stark choice, in the words of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, between continued integration and a return to “centuries of hatred and blood spill.”

But right now, the E.U. project isn’t advancing democracy, liberalism and human rights. Instead, it is subjecting its weaker member states to an extraordinary test of their resilience, and conducting an increasingly perverse experiment in seeing how much stress liberal norms can bear.

That stress takes the form of mass unemployment unseen in the history of modern Europe, and mass youth unemployment that is worse still. In the Continent’s sick-man economies, the jobless rate for those under 25 now staggers the imagination: over 40 percent in Italy, over 50 percent in Spain, and over 60 percent in Greece.

For these countries, the euro zone is now essentially an economic prison, with Germany as the jailer and the common currency as the bars. No matter what happens, they face a future of stagnation — as aging societies with expensive welfare states whose young people will sit idle for years, unable to find work, build capital or start families.

The question is whether they will face ideological upheaval as well. So far, the striking thing about the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, both in Europe and the United States, is how successfully the center has held. Power has passed back and forth between left and right, but truly radical movements have found little traction, and political violence has been mercifully rare.

In a sense, Francis Fukuyama’s post-cold-war declaration of the “end of history” — by which he meant the disappearance of credible alternatives to liberal democracy and mixed-economy capitalism — has held up pretty well in the last five years. Amid the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression, illiberal societies like Egypt and Syria have faced political crises, but the developed world has not. There has been no mass turn to fascism, no revival of Marxist economics, no coup d’états in Madrid or jackboots in Rome.

But you have to wonder whether the center can hold permanently, if unemployment remains so extraordinarily high. How must liberal democracy and mixed-economy capitalism look to young people in the south of Europe right now? How stable is a political and ideological settlement that requires the rising generation to go without jobs, homes and children because the European project supposedly depends on it? And for that matter, how well is the Continent’s difficult integration of Muslim immigrants likely to proceed in a world where neither natives nor immigrants can find work?

Already, the Greek electorate has been flirting with empowering a crypto-communist “coalition of the radical left,” even as a straightforwardly fascist party gains in the polls as well. Hungary’s conservative government has tiptoed toward authoritarianism. Spain has seen huge street protests whose organizers aspire to imitate the Arab Spring. And lately, Sweden, outside the euro zone but not immune to its youth unemployment problems, has been coping with unsettling, highly un-Scandinavian riots in immigrant neighborhoods.

These perturbations do not threaten democracy in Europe yet, and maybe they never will. Maybe the liberal democratic consensus is so bred into the bone that no amount of elite misgovernment can persuade Europe’s younger generation to turn against it. Maybe nothing can end the end of history.

But for the countries facing a youth unemployment crisis, that still seems like an awfully risky bet to make.

Yet there’s a Catch-22 facing Greeks and Spaniards and Italians looking for an alternative to just staying the course. As wrenching as it would be, the option that would do the most to defang extremists of the left and the right would probably be to abandon the euro immediately, with each country regaining control of its own fiscal and monetary policy and seeing what options open up. But at the moment, the only people arguing for that course are … the extremists of the left and the right!

For that to change, more of the Continent’s political elites would need to recognize that their beloved integration project may actually be threatening Europe’s long democratic peace. For now, there simply aren’t enough responsible people ready to unwind what should never have been knitted together in the first place. But with every increase in the unemployment rate, the odds get better that irresponsible and illiberal figures will end up unwinding it instead.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 26th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

This report of ours starts with the May 22nd, 2013 meeting of The Vienna Club of Thinkers. The Topic was Energy Turnaround from a thinking person’s point of view. The presenter was Wilhelm Michael Zankl and the audience looked and sounded like a Mensa Club reunion.
The location was Cafe Benno, Alser Strasse 67, 1080 Vienna, and the club meets every Wednesday 8 PM.

The second event was the following day at the Renner Institut (the Governing Austrian Socialist Party Think tank) at their usual meeting-place at Garden-Hotel Altmansdorf (Hotel 2), Oswaldgasse 69, 1120 Vienna – and the topic was “Does the Energy Turnaround create jobs?

What drove our attention to these meetings is the upcoming introduction of the SE4All (Sustainable Energy for All) at the three-day meeting at the Austrian Presidency Halls – the Hofburg – May 28-30 – next week. But let me immediately say that I do not think that there was any direct planning of these meetings because of the conference – at least the people I talked to at above two meetings did not know about the larger event, rather I think that the topic of Energy Policy being picked up these days by the European Commission in Brussels, is the general motivator of these meetings, and the newspapers keep providing motivating articles as well.

——————————————

In 1990, Zankl wrote “Energy, Anergy, Anarchy” with the latest edition of 1995 – the content of his logic has not really changed since. He cooperated with Hermann Scherr and Jeremy Rifkin and the system is clear. The road in front of us is clearly depicted:

You see a car nearing a decision point:

- No Oil – this is the end of the way

- No Nuclear – with a two kilometer slippery slope, at 3km you get storm and lightning and a sign of turn around

- Water, Sun and Wind – clear choice.

What is energy? It means “Inside – Somewhere” from two Greek words – then you divide it – you can use it.

Fast run down takes us to Archimedes, Leibnitz, Carnot (First law of Thermodynamics, Rudolph Clausius (Second Law of Thermodynamics).

Energy is Power, mass, and Work as energy per time and power per distance.

Anergy is what escapes to the environment. Entropy tells us we cannot bring it back – it pollutes the Environment and Hermann Scherr said it ought to be taxed – rather then the CO2.

There is an energy entropy, a matter entropy, and an information entropy – nothing is 100% sure. Order is the lowest entropy. A constructive process can be seen as negative entropy.

Biology uses energy sparingly but we humans waste it. But energy is existence. Energy is Welfare. If you want to waste energy – waste solar energy – it is there for us to waste. We get to politics and here to the conflict of interest with the notion of centralism – farmer unions and bio-energy.

He sees no problem if 10 billion people operate 5 billion electric vehicles with power derived from the sun and wind. The Turnaround must change the corporate economy to a people’s economy.

Growth Sustainability is not possible – this needs boundless energy that is not produced with oil, coal, Natural Gas.

Regenerative energy comes from wind, photovoltaic, biogas.

Time bombs: Change of Ocean Streams (the Gulf Stream), Melting of Glaciers, Methane Hydrates.

Global Warming but in Europe cooling because of the melting of glaciers.

Looking at 160,000 years CO2 curve we see the risingin the last 23,000 years with very intensive rising in the last 200 years.

He calculates the waste of money because of our neglecting to use the energy from the sun. The loss per meter square is 100 Euro and it is estimated that at least 30 Euro could have been easily obtained. This is decentralized energy – not the Desertech kind which he rejects.

At Q&A time much more came into focus. Vienna could export electricity if all roof space were used.

In the audience was also Herbert Rauch who in 2005 wrote with Alfred Strigl “Die Wende der Titanic” (The Turn of the Titanic) and created the “EUROPEAN ASSOCIATION FOR THE PROMOTION OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT”  ESD  –  www.esd-eu.akis.at

It is just a pity that our corporate world never really built policies around the ideas of these thinkers – and we stopped a long time ago wondering why.

———————————-

The four hour long, two part, Renner Institute Seminar with encouragement from the European Commission, was a mixed bag. It included a variety of presenters divided into two panels by the moderator – Mr. Guenther Strobl, the Business Editor of “Der Standard.” The first panel dealt rather with generalities and the second panel was defined as from sectors. So the first panel had CEOs of major Austrian institutions and full audience, while the second panel lost half of the audience and that was a pity.

The first panel included the Director of the Board in charge of Energy at the Wiener Stadtwerke (the Vienna Energy that  supplies around two million people with electricity, gas and heat.) Mr. Marc Hall; Mr. Sven Hergovich The Environment and Transport head of the Labor Board of Vienna; Mr. Manfred Pils of the Austrian Power Grid and with the Naturamico International; and Ms. Theresis Vogel, business chair of Climate and Energy Funds.

I just did not believe my ears – the word “Nachhaltigkeit” or Sustainability in any form – was not mentioned by these speakers even once.

Indeed – the first speaker was Mr. Pils and he spoke of the problem that Fukushima made nuclear impossible and that in the EU 13 million people living at the sea-shore will lose their homes if the sea level rises by one meter. He mentioned the big bill that the EU pays for importing energy.
Then he asked – How do you finance efficiency? The investor is not the one who benefits from the increased efficiency of a building.

He spoke of the gas network as the best way to deposit energy and suggested the recycling of CO2 by making CH4 out of it. Sounds good but when and how?

 

Ms. Vogel stressed efficiency as Europe is committed to decrease CO2 emissions by 80-85% by 2050.

 

Mr. Hall also stressed efficiency and reminded us of Amory Lovins’ NEGAWATT. He defined Energy Turnaround for Germany as Electric Power creation and the avoidance of liquid fuel for mobility.

 

Mr. Hergovich suggested numbers for new jobs but did not clearly explain how it will be done.

 

The Q&A was lively and at the end I engaged Mr. Hall on the issue of the missing concept of Sustainability as a starting point to the discussion.
That is when I learned that the gentleman regards fossil fuels as renewables – only it takes a little longer. Climate Change is not something he worries about. Nice – but I do! It seemed that the members of the panel had in mind the rear-guard effort of surviving assault from people they do not trust.

 

The second panel, was much more open to innovation.  I will mention them in the order of their appearance – as the later they spoke in the pecking order, the better it got.

First speaker was Herbert Lechner the scientific coordinator of the Austrian Energy Agency – a government institution.
He compared Germany and Austria and spoke of Energy (R)EVOLUTION as choice between Evolution and Revolution in order to achieve the 2050 goals.
This can be achieved only if Zero-Emission buildings are part of new construction. But that is only the tip of the iceberg – the old buildings will continue to waste energy until replaced he explained.

The second speaker Michael Strebl, the CEO of Salzburg Netz GmbH, the promoter of the Smart-Grid of the Salzburg region. They work with Siemens. In the Koestendorf community they plan to use heat-pump systems.

Ms. Karin Tauz is the Head of the Business Unit that develops Electric Mobility for the Austria-Tech company that belongs to the Federal Government for Technology oriented political measures themes. She sounded very goal oriented and in tune with what politics needs in order to come up with solutions. She actually got applause from the remaining audience.

And now the last speaker – Mr. Hubert Ladinger who is with Ludwig-Boelkow-Systems Technology GmbH of Ottobrunn, Bavaria, Germany.
They work on a system to store electric power by creating a gas that is usable – CH4, H2 …

Finally I heard the word Sustainability. www.LBST.de uses electrolysis to create these usable gasses and thus a way to store the energy obtained from the sun or the wind – for later use that can include Fuel Cells or Gas Turbines. THEY SELL WIND-GAS and before you know they can replace the Fracking-Gas !!  Further – he actually had employment figures and made suggestions to answer the questions that were posed before the first six speakers said what they did.

As part of the Q&A, it occurred to me that the seminar was actually very good because it exposed the negatives and eventually landed on a positive. And really what are seminars for? I respect a seminar when it provides the listener with enough ideas so he can leave and create by himself – in this respect – this seminar was a great success. Just listening to people tooting their horns hardly ever is worth the time spent.

Also – to the suggestion of EVOLUTION vs. REVOLUTION – it became clear to me that it is neither.

WHAT IS NEEDED IS REFORMATION.

Further, it seems that the word REFORMATION with its old use in the replacement of corrupt church behavior of the Middle Ages, a new system based on much less waste and simpler demands by the public of the time, is indeed what the ENERGY TURNAROUND will have to come up with.

It was clear to me that voicing this to the people that came to the seminar will fall on deaf ears – and it did. But the LOGIC THINKERS might appreciate this better. Also I hope that next week’s three days exercise might come up with a beginning of a roadmap to get us to 2015, 2025 and beyond.

———————–

Over the weekend several articles and advertisements came to my attention:

First the self-congratulatories in Der Standard and the Kronen Zeitung of the Austrian OMV Oil Company about its Pipelines and Technologies – that they want us to think that are what is needed to secure a good energy future.

Then the article in the Business Section of the “Die Furche” of May 23, 2013, by Austria Ambassador to China Irene Giner-Reichl “Focus Energy-Revolution” about the Upcoming Energy Forum that starts May 28th. THE SUSTAINABLE ENERGY FOR ALL concept being based on Electricity that has a largely increased content coming from Renewable Energy. As per the UN, the intent is to double the Renewable Energy content  by 2030.

And in the weekend Der Standard – 25/26 May 2013 – Mr. Guenther Strobl, the moderator of the Renner Institute panels of May 23rd, has interviewed former German Environment Minister and former head of UNEP – Professor Klaus Toepfer, who told him that the idea of having a cheap energy policy in the EU does not make sense. My God, why did Mr. Strobl not take advantage of this concept at his Thursday panels? Or did this interview happen only on Friday the 24th?

The use of gas from underground fracking shale in order to replace reliance on more dirty oil is not something that can be noticed only in passing – a much more serious look at this technology is needed. But then this will not come up unless investigative reporting is ordered by editors of respected media.

Further – just saw the “Die Presse” of today – Monday, May 27, 2013 – article by Professor Emeritus at the University of Vienna Physics Department who lectures on Energy – Professor Gero Vogel. The title is “THE BIG SOBERING UP FROM THE ENERGY TURNAROUND” – the Energiewende – that this old-timer professional was very suspicious all the time because he knew that the talk of having “OECOSTROM” in Austria was just not true. While getting its electricity from hydro-power, nevertheless September to March Austria is short of water and imports from the European power market the nuclear and coal generated electricity from the Czech Republic – which the Austrian deride for their way of producing that electricity in the first place. (for those interested – the reference is to -”Die grosse Ernuechterung nach der Energiewende.”)

The Professor is obviously right describing the political reality – but like him saying that the weather now is warm and the snow melted, which is factually not true, as Austria is now again in the middle of a two weeks spell of freezing weather – he is wrong about the potential of having clean energy – honestly – for all of the EU. The Energy turnaround is not behind us – the truth is that we have not entered it yet. The conservative leaders of business hold us back for their very narrow economic reasons that if allowed will push us to environmental hell.

 

 

 

 

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