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Flanders:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 29th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Flanders At A Glance.

Flanders lies to the north of France, the east of Britain and the west of Germany. It is the northern part of Belgium. The most important cities and population centers of Europe – London, Paris, Amsterdam, Cologne, Frankfurt – are all situated within a radius of less than 200 miles around Flanders’ capital, the multilingual and international city of Brussels. Other main cities are Antwerp known for its diamond polishing industry, Bruges, Ghent, Louvain.

Ever since the Middle Ages, Flanders has been at the crossroads of the great European trade routes. Flemish merchants swarmed out to every corner of the then known world. Foreign merchants, bankers and artists came to Flanders endowing the magnificent Flemish cities with even more prosperity and cultural vitality. Flemings speak Dutch (NOT Flemish, which is not a language) and can look back on an illustrious past with culture, art, world famous painters and rebellious citizens. Flanders is the first region that saw citizens reclaiming individual rights from their kings and lords, thus reintroducing democracy to the West after Rome’s fall. With many of its citizens (back then considered to be Southern Dutch) involved in the establishment of New Amsterdam, Flanders’ core values of entrepreneurship, vocal citizenry and hard work strongly influenced the settlement of the US. Although at the heart of Europe and Europe’s most globalized region, Flanders with its capital Brussels, is still a well kept secret. It is home to top contemporary & historical art, architecture (Art Nouveau), fashion designers, scientists, performers and to some of the most popular beers and foods…

Population

Flanders accounts for 60% of the total Belgian population. Its people and companies produce 70% of the Gross Domestic product of Belgium (and thus of its tax income) and 80% of all exports from Belgium. Flanders, and thus Belgium, is an open economy, well integrated into the world’s global trade system. Flemings want to go forward in life. Their aim is prosperity and well-being for everyone. They are hardworking entrepreneurs, highly educated researchers and multilingual employees. Whatever they do, they always want to do it in the best possible way. Flemings strive for quality and attach great importance to efficiency and result orientation, though not at the expense of others.

The people of Flanders also like to enjoy life: they are often referred to as ‘loving the Burgundian life’ (in memory of Flanders heyday as Burgundy’s main stay of power), with great foods, beers, comfortable homes, and Flemish masters hanging in their museums. On the other hand, they are accustomed to affordable medical care for everyone and to one of the highest level of education in the Western world.

 www.flandershouse.org/flanders_at…

Francis Alÿs: A Story of Deception Exhibition at MoMA.

05/05/2011 – 08/01/2011

Flanders House is a proud sponsor of the exhibition Francis Alÿs: A Story of Deception at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, which runs through August 1. Alÿs (born in 1959, Antwerp, Belgium).

Frances Alys uses poetic and allegorical methods to address political and social realities, such as national borders, localism and globalism, areas of conflict and community, and the benefits and detriments of progress.

Alÿs’s personal, ambulatory explorations of cities form the basis for his practice, through which he compiles extensive and varied documentation that reflects his ideas and process. As one of the foremost artists of his generation, the artist has produced a complex and diverse body of work that includes video, painting, performance, drawing, and photography. This exhibition draws on the Museum’s unique and important collection of Alÿs’s work, highlighting three recent major acquisitions—Re-enactments (2001), When Faith Moves Mountains (2002), and Rehearsal I (Ensayo I) (1999–2001)—which include video installations, paintings, drawings, collages, photographs, and newspaper clippings. These works present an investigation of methods of social action, from rehearsals and re-enactments in urban environments that address the politics of public space to large-scale communal participation where the culmination of many small acts achieves mythic proportions. The exhibition, which is conceptually grouped around these three thematic bodies of work, also includes additional artworks that the artist has developed around the idea of rehearsal and re-enactment in relation to progress in art and everyday life. The exhibition continues at MoMA PS1 with an in-depth look at Modern Procession (2002), a piece commissioned by MoMA to mark its temporary relocation to Queens during the Museum’s 2002–04 expansion project.

==========

Kris Dierckx is Representative of the Flemish Government in the USA.

Word of Welcome by Kris Dierckx.

Dear Reader,

Last week, President Barack Obama travelled to Europe to reaffirm the core alliances between the United States and its European allies. It was an opportunity for the White House to coordinate and align their approaches on a number of issues, as well as an opportunity to underscore the ties between the United States and Europe that are grounded in interests and values.

As the President finishes up his weeklong tour of Europe, I am proud to announce that H.E. Kris Peeters, Minister-President of the Government of Flanders will be visiting the United States, touring Washington D.C., Boston, and New York in the context of a Belgian Economic Mission to the US lead by H.R.H. Prince Philippe of Belgium. The targeted sectors are the bio and pharmaceutical sector, healthcare, and ICT. On this occasion Flanders House will be hosting the Transatlantic Friendship Concert at TheTimesCenter in New York, which will be performed by the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, lead by Flemish Musical Director Dirk Brossé.

On Wednesday, June 8th, Flanders House will be hosting the book launch of Jan De Volder’s The Spirit of Father Damien, which tells the story of the exceptional achievements in Hawai’i by a missionary priest who was named Belgium’s greatest personality, according to a nationwide televised poll.

On a final note, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Flanders House Soccer Team on a great Spring league performance, and wish all our readers an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend and a great start of the Summer.

Please take the time to read on and I hope to see you at one of our future events.

All the best,

Kris Dierckx
Representative of the Flemish Government

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 1st, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

July 1, 2001

The e-mail reads:

Today Belgium assumes its role as the President of the Council of the European Union for the twelfth time in its history. It is a moment for Flanders and Belgium to shine: the rest of Europe, and indeed the world, will be watching as our country takes partial command of the complex EU institutional machinery. This time, Belgium is part of a triumvirate, in which Spain, Belgium, and Hungary consecutively chair the Council of Ministers for six months. This trio presidency of the Council of the European Union is the first one that falls entirely under the regime of the new Lisbon Treaty. This Treaty gives Europe the necessary clout to answer today’s challenges. Flanders has made substantive contributions to the joint presidency program of Spain, Belgium and Hungary, and to the Belgian one.

Thanks to our unique state structure, which has been taken into account in the EU Treaties, either a federal or a regional minister can represent our country in the EU Council meetings, depending on the internal distribution of competences in our country. During the Belgian EU Presidency, Flanders will preside over the important policy areas of Education, Youth, Sports, Environment, and Fisheries, and play a major role in the Agriculture Council. For other important policy fields such as Culture, Energy, Social Affairs and Employment, Flemish ministers will either occupy the national Belgian seat at the Council of Ministers’ table, or assist the Belgian colleague who holds the EU Presidency.

Through this important, multi-disciplinary role, Flanders will have the opportunity to steer European discussions and policy making and draw attention to the Flemish priorities for this Presidency.

With the EU tentatively emerging from an economic downturn – and stumbling through crises like the recent euro debt threat – the Belgian presidency comes at a sensitive moment, particularly after last month’s federal elections. The big winner of these elections in the northern part of the country, the NVA and its president Bart De Wever, picked up 27 seats in parliament, making it the largest party in Flanders and Belgium. Even without a new, fully mandated federal government, our politicians and officials are more than up for the task of running an EU presidency simply because our country has such a rich tradition and expertise in EU matters.

The EU has much more influence on the daily life of Europeans than you may think: generally more than 70% of the legislation Europeans have to abide by, originates at the EU level! As our Minister-President recently highlighted with the slogan “Flanders shines in Europe, Europe shines in Flanders;” the EU Presidency is an excellent opportunity for Flanders to celebrate Europe and to bring Europe even closer to the Flemish people. We hope to achieve something similar with this introduction and to bring the European Union and the role of Flanders in the EU somewhat closer to all Flemings and the friends of Flanders in the US.

I wish you all an enjoyable Flanders Day on July 11 and relaxing summer holidays!

All the best,
Kris Dierckx
Director, Flanders House New York

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 1st, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Ligeti’s “Le Grand Macabre” of gluttonous Breughelland, explains the Louisiana suffering and Washington’s long standing lack of care. Amazing indeed!

“Le Grand Macabre by Gyorgy Ligeti” landed in Breughelland right here at the New York Philharmonic Hall. Was it all about Fossil Fuel gluttony and Washington? Prescient Louisiana? We are flabbergasted because we realized we saw it all there and decided on presenting it to you – our readers – with the hope to reach out to even a larger circle of wise folks.

We did not add an additional word to the libretto, we just shortened it by condensing it in order to bring out the flavor we were seeking. You will see clearly the obvious premonitions that there will be an environmental catastrophe and that “Ministers” will push a monarch in an administration that has good intentions but is weak on actions.

“Le Grand Macabre” was heard and shown by the New York Philharmonic May 27 -29, 2010, thanks to a bravado by new Philharmonic Music Director, Mr. Alan Gilbert who coincidentally is the first native New Yorker to hold this post. Mr. Gilbert is a Harvard graduate and of the Curtis Institute and The Julliard Schools of Music. Before coming to the Philharmonic he was the chief conductor and artistic advisor of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra that made him conductor laureate at the end of his stay there. “Le Grand Macabre” comes at the end of Mr. Gilbert’s Inaugural Season at the New York Philharmonic. We hope that the Members of the Board will not reprimand him for this daring performance. It must be noted further that this Opera had the World Premiere of its original version in Stockholm, April 12, 1978, at the Royal Swedish Opera with Elgar Horwarth conducting. The revised and shortened version was first performed July 28, 1997 in Salzburg in a Peter Sellars production with Esa-Pekka Salonen Conducting.

It is based on on a Michel de Ghelderode play “La Balade du Grand Macabre” and the libretto resulted from a cooperation of Gyorgy Ligeti with Michael Menschke, as Ligeti decided he wanted to create an Opera from that original play. and what Ligeti was trying to answer was the question: “If you knew that the end of the world was imminent, that a comet was about to crash into our planet and obliterate it forever, how would you chose to spend your final hours?”

His answer was, supposedly, “People will spend their final moments doing pretty much whatever they have done before. They’ll jockey for power, they’ll revel in stupidity, they”ll pursue love, they”ll engage in posturing, they’ll get drunk. It is essentially an absurdist treatment in which Ligeti manages to make the unthinkable approachable by rendering it comical.” The notes say that Ligeti told a broadcast interviewer “The threat of collective death is always present – but we try to eliminate it from our consciousness and enjoy to the maximum the days that are left to us.”

The theatrical approach of the script as shaped by Ligeti belongs to the Absurdist school of Alfred Jarry and Eugene Ioneco – the latter also Romanian who lived in Paris like Ligeti. Characters from their plays could have just walked throug Ligeti’s work and cartoonist Saul Steinberg would have found himself at home there either. This is no coincidence and it is rooted in the survivalist background of someone who, born into a family in Transylvania and a history of suffering from Nazism and Stalinism, the self defense is absurdism.

The US audience did not exactly know what to make out either from the music, nor the content, but having this absurd element in it we found it great and are ready to forgive the critics that had hard time of finding their footing, or the busloads of folks that left at intermission. We loved it and had no difficulty seeing in it what we wanted to see in it. How can we miss it when it starts indeed with CAR HORNS! I saw my way from the first Car Horn Prelude – and did not miss the sequence. After all, the TVs these days are all about Louisiana and the ineptitude of Washington stretching back for generations – the Washington dominated by Oil & Car interests that made devil-deals that felled  land, water, and air.

Then who can miss the concept of BREUGHELLAND?

Just see Breughel’s Icarus faculty.smu.edu/tmayo/icarus.jpg for link to Ligheti, but there is more to it – Brueghel, Bruegel or Breughel (Dutch pronunciation: [?b?ø???l]) was the name of several Dutch/Flemish painters from the same family line.
To us the most interesting is Pieter Brueghel (1525-69), usually known as Pieter Brueghel the Elder to distinguish him from his elder son, was the first in this family of Flemish painters. You’ll often find his name spelled as Bruegel (Pieter spelled it like that from 1559 onwards), but just as well Breugel or Breughel – the latter as in our case here.

Pieter was born in Breda in the Duchy of Brabant, which is now part of The Netherlands but back then part of the Flanders.

His paintings are full of images of eating and feasting and being merry – plain gluttony and success. this is the image of a world that sees no limits – the world that later was built on the promisse of oil. And this is my point – Breughelland is to me gluttony-land – and this is the give away of this opera – to me – in my interpretation – these days of the Gulf of Mexico blow-out.
{Note: Flanders or Vlaanderen and the Netherlands (aka known as Holland) or Nederland share the same language. It’s called Flemish, or “Vlaams” in Belgium and Dutch, or “Nederlands” in The Netherlands. And the name Holland, although it’s often taken to mean the whole of the Netherlands, is really part of that country only, the area of the provinces called Zuid Holland and Noord Holland (South and North Holland). }

———————————

WORK IN PROGRESS.

——————————-

CAR HORN PRELUDE – SCENE ONE:

PIET THE POT:               O golden Breughelland,
that never knows a care,
fill all your children with delight!
O long lost paradise, where are you now?

NEKROTZAR – from the burial chamber, distant as from the underworld
Perish, but not for bliss!

PIET:                                 Oh my!
All these heavenly twists and turnings!
Such curvings!

AMANDO:                       Miserable scoundrel! That for the worm!

PIET:                                 Mercy, lord! I spoke no word!
It came from above, so who spoke?
The Almighty!

NEKROTZAR:                 Shut up!
And rejoice to be still alive!

PIET:                                You spoke of death, not punishment!
Hey, friend! You go too far!
Hey! Look out!

NEKROTZAR:                Piet the Pot, your time runs out;
so hear the bitter words of these tidings:
that all, all men on earth, must perish!

PIET:                                Any fool knows that!

NEKROTZAR:                 But no one knows the hour.

CHORUS OF SPIRITS – off-stage during Nekrotzar’s declamation:
Destruction soon draws nigh,
thou art in peril great,
for death will be thy fate.

NEKROTZAR                 The will of the Almighty

PIET:                                Oh, please,
spare the people of Breughelland!
Oh please, oh please!

PIET:                                Oh, Breughelland!

CHORUS OF SPIRITS: Destruction soon draws nigh,
though art in peril great,
for death will be thy fate!
Take warning now,
at midnight thou shalt die!

Nekrotzar – mounts Piet, who serves as a horse, with difficulty:
Make room! Room for the Great Macabre!
The end of time has come!
The world! The world will meet its doom!
Gee-up, horse!

—- —- —-

SECOND CAR HORN PRELUDE – SCENE TWO – DANCE:

ASTRADAMORS:         Oh my dreary nights, dark with bitterness!
I could strangle her!
Could choke her, could stab her,
could crush her or throttle her,

brain her or drown her or knife her or hang her,
murder, slay her, kill, behead her,
hang and slaughter, impale, butcher,
poison her drink and destroy her!
Immolate, massacre, put –

PIET:                               Friend Astradamors! it’s you?

ASTRADAMORS:         Friend Piet the Pot! It’s you?

NEKROTZAR:              Fire and death I bring,
burning and shriveling!

NEKROTZAR, PIET & ASTRADAMORS: Thousands of men will die
hearing my battle cry!

NEKROTZAR:             Yes I am but a loyal
and zealous destroyer!

PIET & ASTRADAMORS:                            Death is his employer!

NEKROTZAR:                   My duty here is past When all have breathed their last!

NEKROTZAR:                   Earthquakes will soon arrive, leave not a soul alive!

NEKROTZAR:                   I am powerful!
‘Neath me ye shall cower!

NEKROTZAR:             I am the slayer,
Satan’s purveyor!

PIET & ASTRADAMORS: For we shall expire!

NEKROTZAR, PIET & ASTRADAMOR: No living thing remains!

PIET: Cock-a-doodle-doo!

—– —– —–

SCENE THREE – DOORBELL PRELUDE:

WHITE MINISTER & BLACK MINISTER:  Tweedledum!

THE WHITE MINISTER UNROLLS A WHITE DOCUMENT WITH BLACK LETTERING AND GESTICULATES WILDLY WITH IT UNDER THE BLACK MINISTER’S NOSE:    Here Black party skunk, my resignation!

THE BLACK MINISTER UNROLLS A BLACK DOCUMENT WITH WHITE LETTERING AND GESTICULATES WITH IT UNDER THE WHITE MINISTER’S NOSE:         Here white party polecat, my resignation!

PRINCE GO-GO – appears in front of the curtain:  Gentlemen, I beg you!
You should put the interests of the nation . . .

WHITE MINISTER & BLACK MINISTER:              … above mere selfish egoism?
Prince Go-Go, if you insist!
Appeasement, appeasement!

GO-GO:                                                                           Yes!

WHITE MINISTER & BLACK MINISTER:            All right, then, Highness, the riding lesson!
Mount your steed!

THE TWO MINISTERS LIFT PRINCE GO-GO BY FORCE ON TO THE ROCKING-HORSE:  Gee-up!

GO-GO:                                          We’re feeling giddy!

WHITE MINISTER:                    Gallop!
But keep the reins loose!

BLACK MINISTER:                    Now keep the reins tight!

WHITE MINISTER:                   Cavalry charge …

WHITE MINISTER & BLACK MINISTER:        … as in war!

GO-GO:                             Never war!
Stop it! We surrender!

GO-GO:                            We make a protest!
It’s laid down in our constitution …

WHITE MINISTER & BLACK MINISTER:  Constitution?
Ha, ha …

GO-GO:                          Enough! Enough! Enough!
Forgive me! beg your pardon!

BLACK MINISTER PRODUCES A BLACK SCROLL WITH WHITE LETTERING: Now memorize this speech!

WHITE MINISTER PRODUCES WHITE SCROLL WITH BLACK LETTERING:    My speech – here! Black on white!

BLACK MINISTER:                        White on Black!

GO-GO:                                              Gentleman, I beg you!
Our dear nation!

WHITE MINISTER & BLACK MINISTER: Forgive me!

GO-GO:                                             What’s that?

BLACK MINISTER:                       Well, a … hm …
A decree raising the value-added tax
by one hundred-and-only percent.

GO-GO:                                            Not one cent!
Your tax, say, is much too high!

WHITE MINISTER & BLACK MINISTER:   Highness! I shall resign!

MYSTERIOUS ENTRANCE OF THE GEPOPO CHIEF:  Pssst!

GO-GO:    Ha! Head of my secret service! What a leisure!
You turn up just at the proper time!
Well, what new intelligence message do you
bring us now?

GEPOPO:                      Cococoding Zero, Zero:
highest security grade!

GEPOPO:                      Birds on the wing!

GEPOPO:                     Double-you see!
Snakes in the grass!
Rabble. rabble, rabble!
Riot, riot!
Unlawful assemblies!
Communal insurrection!
Mutinous masses!
Turbulence!
Panic! Panic!
Groundless! Groundless!
Phobia! Wide of the matk!
Right of the track!
Hypopochondria!

GO-GO:                        What did you say?

GEPOPO:                     Password – Go-Go-lash!
Demonstrations, ha!
Protest actions, ha!
Much discretion!
Close observations!
That’s all!
Not a squeak!
Confidential!
One more thing:
Bear in mind:
silence is golden!

THE PEOPLE OF BREUGHELLAND:  Our great leader!
Our great leader!
Our Great leader!
The people’s friend!

Go-Go:                                                          Come, now let me do it!

GO-GO, ON THE BALCONY, RECEIVES THE ACCLAIM OF THE PEOPLE. THEN HE TALKS TO THE PEOPLE. HIS VOICE REMAINS INAUDIBLE; ONLY HIS GESTURES CAN BE SEEN.

WHITE MINISTER & BLACK MINISTER:      I shall resign!

GO-GO:                                                                     To hell with your resignations!
You will stay!

GEPOPO:                                                                  Stern measures!

GO-GO!                                                                     Stern measures!

GEPOPO & GO-GO:                                               Stern measures!

WHITE MINISTER & BLACK MINISTER:      Stern measures?
How come?
Against what?

THE HANGMEN AND DETECTIVES PRESENT THE GEPOPO CHIEF WITH ANOTHER DISPATCH. HE READS IT.

THE PEOPLE OF BREUGHELLAND – mixed chorus, off stage:       Hear us, Prince, oh, hear us!
Dread and fright do sear us!
Great our alarm, yet fear no harm
if thou be ever near us!

GEPOPO:                                                            Kukuriku!  Kikeriki!
He’s coming!

GO-GO:                                                               Who’s coming?

GEPOPO:                                                            Coming!

GO-GO:                                                               What is this Macabre?

GEPOPO:                                                            Coming! Coming!
Look there! There! There! There!
He’s getting in! He’s getting in! He’s getting in!
He’s in!
The guard! The Guard! The guard!
Call the guard!

THE GEPOPO CHIEF AND HIS ATTENDANTS FLEE IN PANIC. INSTEAD OF THE EXPECTED DISASTER, ASTRADAMORS SUDDENLY STORMS ON TO THE STAGE.

ASTRADAMORS:                                           Hurray, hurray!

GO-GO:                                                             Hurray, hurray!
My two Ministers have fled!

ASTRADAMORS:                                            My Prince!

GO-GO:                                                              My worthy sage!

GO-GO & ASTRADAMORS:                         Huzza, huzza!
For all is now in order!
Huzza!
Huzzarazazaza!

THE PEOPLE OF BREUGHELLAND – mixed chorus in the stalls:          Oh! Prince Hear us!

GO-GO:                                                             But tell me, my good friend, I pray:

what is this cloak you wear today?

ASTRADAMORS:                                       A funeral kind of mantilla,
ready for the Dies illa!

THE PEOPLE OF BREUGHELLAND:    Prince! Hear what we say!

GO-GO: Quiet down there!

THE PEOPLE OF BREUGHELLAND: Prince! Help us!
Please save us!

GO-GO: Yes, yes, I’m coming …
What do you want dear people?

Wailing siren: Prince Go-Go is completely intimidated; clings to Astradamors.
Help! Help me! Save me!

ASTRADAMORS: Under the table, quick, and not a sound!

Grandiose entrance of Nekrotzar with scythe and trumpet, riding on Piet’s back, together with his fiendish entourage.

THE PEOPLE OF BREUGHELLAND: Hear us!

NEKROTZAR: For the day of wrath and retribution has come!

THE PEOPLE OF BREUGHELLAND: O mighty Macabre!
Have pity!
Strike us not dead!

NEKROTZAR: Now will searing, scorching heat!
glow and burn as from a thousand suns,
and the waters of the oceans turn into vapor,
and loudly the mountains split asunder,
and the bodies of men will be singed,
and all will be turned into charred corpses
and shrink like shriveled heads!

THE PEOPLE OF BREUGHELLAND: But me, me, me, let me go on living:
pity take on me, me, me!
No, me, me, just me!
Punish all the rest,
but not me, me me;
do not kill me!
Not me! Not me! Not me!

ASTRADAMORS: There is no need to fear:
there is still some time to spare …

PIET & ASTRADAMORS;                     To our great and singular macabre colleague
Nekro, alias Tsar,
the inexorable reaper-man!

NEKROTZAR:                                       To arms now! Rise!
Time to set to work on my holy task!
But first let me sip this chalice
fill’d with human blood!
And may the pressed-out juices of my victims
serve to strengthen and sustain me
before, alas, my necessary deed begins!
Up!

PIET & ASTRADAMORS – fill Nekrotzar’s glass again:       He drinks! Hurrah!
Cheers, Nekro!
Bottoms up!

NEKROTZAR:                                       Blood tastes good!

NEROTZAR:                                          More there!
Ah yes … What was I saying?
Ah! … I’m weak and old …
My flesh is cold, so cold!
So much have I destroyed,
the world so oft made void!
Sodom, Gomorrah rent!
The great deluge sent! …
… Caligula!
Thoderich!
Genghis Khan!
Ivan the Terrible!
Napole-poleon Bonaparte!

Prince Go-Go, Piet & Astradamors, fully drunk, carry Nekrotzar with great difficulty to the rocking-horse and seat him on it.

NEKROTZAR:                                      The command comes from on high that sun,
moon, and stars
shall now be extinguished!

Suddenly semi-darkness: pale, celestial light.

Yes, it’s done! It’s done! All is done! …

— — — — — —

SCENE FOUR (EPILOGUE)

In the lovely country of Breugelland, Piet and Astradamors are floating freely above the ground, they are dreaming that they are in heaven.

PIET:                                                     Ghost Astradamors, are you dead?
See we are floating to Paradise:

ASTRADAMORS:                               We’re floating higher.

GO-GO:                                                 Is no one there?
Anyone there?
Are they all dad?

All of them, every single one dead?
Only me alive? I alone? Forgotten?

RUFFIACK, SCHOBIACK & SCHABERNACK:    Ha, we are three soldiers,
risen from the grave,
sharing all the booty
which the good God gave!

RUFFIACK:                                      Halt! A civilian!

GO-GO:                                            Oh, but no, gentleman all,
we are Prince Go-Go, the prople’s friend,
your sov’reign!

SCHABERNACK:                            You’re dead too, baby! Understand?

GO-GO:                                            You can call me baby” if you want to
At times like this we all should be good
comrades, right?
We’ll give you high decorations, silver and gold,
and relieve you of the oficial duti –

NEKROTZAR:                                Your highnes still alive?
Have I not just laid to waste the entire
goddamned world?
My scythe! My trumpet! Horse! Come!

GO-GO:                                            Later, my friend …

suddenly addressing the three ruffians –    And you! Attention! Stomach in, chest out!
to Nekrotzar:                                               –    Tell me now: who are you?

NEKROTZAR:                                  Which … where is my grave?

MESCALINA:                                   Ashtaroth! Behemoth!

NEKROTZAR:                                  Damnation!

MESCALINA:                                   Beelzebub!

NEKROTZAR:                                  Oh, save me!

Mescalina has caught Nekrotzar; she holds him firmly and about to plunge the spit into his chest.

GO-GO:                                              You there! Seize hold of that fury!

The three ruffians suddenly fling themselves on Mescalina.
to Schabernack –                             Hey you! You run and fetch a rope!

Schabernack reappears. He is dragging behind him the two Ministers, tied up with a long rope.

BLACK MINISTER & WHITE MINISTER:         Innocent! Innocuous! Virtuous! Decorous!
Altruist! Humanist! Humanitarian!
Mercy!

MESCALINA:                               Highness! These I know too!
And am ready to expose them!

WHITE MINISTER:                   Highness, it was she who thought up those infamous taxes!

MESCALINA:                               Oh ho, sweetheart, and who was it
wanted to overthrow the Prince?

BLACK MINISTER:                    Highness, the Inquisition was her idea!

MESCALINA:                               Oh, ho, dearie, and who wanted to be a tyrant and –

WHITE MINISTER:                    Who invented mass graves?

MESCALINA, BLACK MINISTER & WHITE MINISTER:  Who?

MESCALINA:                                He! You! They!

WHITE MINISTER:                    She! You! They!

BLACK MINISTER:                    You! She! They!

GO-GO:                                          Soldiers! Do your Stuff!

——————————

If no hint was clear, just think of President Obama, The Democrats, The Republicans, BP but not just BP – it is all oil and car and other power brokers. It is about fire and water and earthquakes and tremors, the military, the farmers, the engineers, the scientists – it is about you and me.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 24th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Media speculation on whether the collapse of the government would impact negatively on Belgium’s EU presidency stint began immediately following Belgian prime minister Yves Leterme’s decision on this Thursday to resign after a key partner, the Flemish Liberals, withdrew from the Federal governing coalition over a long running linguistic rights dispute between the Dutch-speaking Flemish and Francophone communities.

The collapse of the Czech government during its 2009 EU presidency term caused serious disruption to the EU’s agenda, and concerns have been raised that a long running bout of political turmoil during the Belgian presidency could similarly paralyse the EU’s workload.

The FT quoted an unnamed Brussels diplomat as saying, “The last thing we need is another presidency hobbled by domestic events.

“There are serious institutional, economic and diplomatic questions to be resolved – we cannot afford another vacuum in leadership.”

So, this is the political mess at an EU burdened with three “Presidents” where one Belgian Mr. Herman Van Rompuy heads  the Brussels  so called two year-term “Permanent” Presidency of the European Council, while his successor is losing his Belgian cabinet just in time he was going to take over the 6-months temporary EU Rotating Presidency. All that while the finances of a monetary EURO union that was not backed by a common treasury, is unraveling because on incompetency in Member States that cannot be disciplined, because there is no powerful central home to this chaotic assembly of States calling itself a Union.

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Greece formally requests EU-IMF aid – Euro area states have pledged to give up to €30 billion this year.

ANDREW WILLIS

23.04.2010

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – Greece has formally placed a request to activate a €40-45 billion EU-IMF aid package, a day after new budget deficit figures revealed the country’s 2009 shortfall to be worse than previously forecast.

The country’s finance minister, George Papaconstantinou, transferred the message on Friday (23 April) in a letter addressed to Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker, EU economy commissioner Olli Rehn and European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet.

“In accordance with the Statement of the Heads of State and Government of 25 March 2010 to provide financial support to Greece, when needed, and the follow up Statement of the Eurogroup, Greece is hereby requesting the activation of the support mechanism,” reads the letter.

Earlier, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said he would instruct his finance minister to place the request. “It is a national and imperative need to officially ask our partners in the EU for the activation of the support mechanism we jointly created,” he said in statements broadcast live from the remote Aegean island of Kastellorizo.

“Our partners will decisively contribute to provide Greece the safe harbour that will allow us to rebuild our ship,” said the embattled premier against a picturesque backdrop.

Fresh figures released by the EU’s statistics office, Eurostat, on Thursday revealed Greece’s 2009 deficit to be 13.6 percent of GDP, significantly higher than the previous 12.7 percent forecast.

Markets subsequently leapt on the new EU data, sending the yield on 10-year Greek bonds to 8.83 percent, the highest since 1998, and prompting credit rating agency Moody’s to cut the country’s sovereign rating from A2 to A3. On Friday, bond yields retreated marginally following the formal aid request.

Next steps?

A significant amount of uncertainty remains however. Greece, swamped by a €300-billion debt pile, is currently negotiating the lending terms with EU and IMF officials in Athens, with the talks potentially lasting for several more weeks.

An agreement between EU leaders in late March indicated that any request for aid must first be approved by the ECB and the European Commission, before then being formally agreed by euro area states.

While governments may be willing to bail-out their profligate partner, doubts remain as to how quickly member states will be able to release the funds, with at least one legal challenge being mounted in Germany against the unpopular transfer to Greece.

Responding to questions from MEPs in Strasbourg on Tuesday, Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said several times that he is confident the Greek plan does not breach the EU treaties. The solution found so far is “fully in line with the treaty,” he said. “It is simply wrong to say that it is some kind of bailout.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel, faced with crucial regional elections in May, has been at pains to stress that any support must be considered ‘ultima ratio’, or a last resort.

As well as the legal uncertainty, total contributions to the three-year support package have yet to be finalised. Euro area states have agreed to contribute €30 billion, this year, but figures for 2010 and 2011 remain unclear.

German central bank chief Axel Weber recently conceded that “the numbers are changing all the time”, according to reports in the Wall Street Journal, adding that total euro area contributions over the three years could reach as much a €80 billion.

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Further on Greece:

 www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/con…

 www.nytimes.com/2010/04/24/opinio…

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New York Times Editorial

Greece and Who’s Next?

Published: April 23, 2010

As Greece careened ever close to default this week, frightened investors also rushed to dump bonds from financially troubled Portugal, Spain and Ireland. But while the markets increasingly see this as a euro zone crisis, many European leaders are in denial.

Unless the European Union and the International Monetary Fund back up Greece, it could default on its debts. And the roughly $40 billion bailout promised — grudgingly — by Brussels with an additional $15 billion to $20 billion from the International Monetary Fund is unlikely to be enough. Greece has more than $50 billion in debt coming due over the next 12 months alone.

Meanwhile, Germany is resisting turning over the money. After George Papandreou, the prime minister of Greece, called on Friday for the bailout plan to be “activated,” Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said Greece first had to negotiate “a credible savings program.” Georg Nuesslein, a lawmaker in Merkel’s governing coalition, told Bloomberg the program “has to hurt.”

Greece’s efforts to curtail public spending have not made enough of a dent in its deficit to persuade investors it can bring its debt under control. But amid a severe recession, which is likely to be exacerbated by budget cuts, even the tightest belt-tightening can’t eliminate a deficit that amounted to more than 13 percent of its gross domestic product last year.

To stop a rout, the European Union must commit to activating the bailout. Then Europe and the International Monetary Fund must start negotiations with Greece for a much bigger bailout package. This would help restore investors’ confidence, allowing interest rates on its debt to fall from the punitive heights of nearly 9 percent reached last week. While some economists believe Greece would still have to restructure its debts, it would have space to negotiate the terms.

As investors made clear this week, the turmoil doesn’t end with Greece. Portugal, Spain and Ireland have seen their deficits balloon as the housing bust and the economic downturn took a toll. The European Union and the International Monetary Fund must put together a pre-emptive bailout package to convince investors of the stability of their finances and head off a flight to dump their bonds on a bigger scale. Speed is essential.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and European finance ministers should start working on that during this weekend’s International Monetary Fund meeting in Washington. This is mainly a European problem. But Washington must ensure that the fund commits adequate resources. The good news, if there is any here, is that American banks do not own much Greek debt. But the American economy won’t be immune if the Greek crisis spreads much further.

——————

But who should work on The EU CHRONIC STRUCTURAL POLITICO-ECONOMIC DISEASE?

A simple intervention by the Belgian King attempting to beat sense into the heads of his two different National groups warring in his own country, doe nothing to the much larger problem of many more ethnically different groups in the EU that have not yet digested the idea that building a Federal Nations means giving up the previously held pretenses at National Sovereignty. If they do not digest this their model becomes the UN and not the US – so they exist on the grace of their interdepedence but not on the basis of being a major global player to sit at the UN-China discussions table – not even as outsiders like India and Brazil, not even as a tolerated South Africa that is there because they represent the consumers of all-of-Africa.

 www.ft.com/cms/s/0/3d5c4cea-4e6e-…

Fall of Belgium coalition threatens its Brussels chair role.

By Stanley Pignal in Brussels, The Financial Times

Published: April 23 2010

The Belgian government was in turmoil yesterday after the federal coalition collapsed, driven apart by tensions between French and Dutch-speaking factions that will threaten the upcoming presidency of the European Union.

Yves Leterme, prime minister, tendered his resignation to the king after the Flemish liberal party pulled out of the coalition, making it all but impossible for the five-month-old ruling grouping to carry on.

King Albert II sought to avert an outright political crisis by withholding his acceptance of Mr Leterme’s resignation, leaving his government in place but with no viable political mandate.

The upheaval threatens to damage its leadership of the EU, whose six-month rotating presidency Belgium takes on in two months.

“The last thing we need is another presidency hobbled by domestic events,” said an EU diplomat. “There are serious institutional, economic and diplomatic questions to be resolved – we cannot afford another vacuum in leadership”. The collapse of the Czech government in early 2009 while it was in the EU chair caused turmoil in Brussels and forced it to drop large swathes of its presidency agenda.

The king said a political crisis would harm Belgium’s standing in Europe and hamper its economic prospects as it emerged from the downturn.

In an interview with the French-language state broadcaster, Mark Eyskens, a former prime minister, warned: “If we have a deep political crisis, we could find ourselves in a similar position to Greece. We have a debt of over 100 per cent [of GDP] that we must finance.”

Spreads on Belgian debt widened to 50 basis points over equivalent German paper, partly driven by EU deficit statistics published yesterday.

Lieven De Winter, a professor at Université Catholique de Louvain, said new elections in June now appeared inevitable. “We are in a position where the government has been put on hold, it cannot take important decisions. It would be a massive face-losing situation to take on the EU presidency in such circumstances.”

Part of Belgium’s latest bout of political instability can be traced back to the EU; Herman Van Rompuy, Mr Leterme’s predecessor, left national politics to take on the European Council presidency in November.

His departure paved the way for the return of Mr Leterme, a centre-right politician from the Dutch-speaking northern half of the country with a record of antagonising the French-speaking Walloons living in Belgium’s southern half.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 28th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The original November 20, 2009 posting:

The European dis-Union did not chose an Obama, but someone whose only managerial success was the creation of a Belgian government after a long time they had none. His departure from the job – will throw perhaps into a relapse his country divided into Flanders and Wallonia. The Foreign Policy at the EU will be headed by someone that comes from foreign trade and has to show for herself only a bilateral trade agreement with South Korea.

The general press we read is no show of enthusiasm for the results produced at last night’s diner, and prefer to call this as a transition phase in European history. Yes, there is unification at the end of the tunnel, but for now there is subservience, and the EU will be led rather by a General Assembly concept where the small States will not allow the result to become a Major State.

The reaction is rather like:

EU leaders have chosen Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy to be the first president of the European Council, while UK trade commissioner Catherine Ashton will become the bloc’s foreign policy chief.

Welcoming the decision on Thursday evening (19 November), Swedish leader Fredrik Reinfeldt said: “What we were seeking were people to create continuity” and “to be the voice and face of Europe throughout the world.”

Mr Van Rompuy, from the centre-right in European politics, is a trained economist and has been running Belgium for less than a year. He writes Haiku verse in Flamish, and is known for his low-key style, which includes a line in self-deprecatory humour and caravan holidays.

He came to prominence after Germany and France a few weeks ago agreed between themselves to promote him. Several diplomats subsequently suggested that his short term in office stood to his advantage as he has had no time to make enemies among other EU leaders – he will not upstage the big leaders and comes from a small country with problems. He also knows Brussels well.

The presidency decision – nominating a person from a small country with no international profile – confirms the speculation of recent weeks that the majority of member states wanted to choose a person whose main role will be that of an internal fixer, rather than someone who can open doors in Washington and Moscow.

Mr Van Rompuy underlined his low-key approach by saying he intended to be “discreet” and that his personal opinions were “subordinate” to the council.

He talked up the importance of member states and their diversity and noted that he would “put forward the positions that the council has approved” at international meetings without stepping on the toes of the European Commission president.

Catherine Ashton, meanwhile, emerged relatively late in the race to be the EU’s top diplomat. Her name appeared after UK foreign secretary David Milliband, the preferred candidate at the beginning, said he was not interested in the job.

With the EU president being a man, from a small country, and from the centre-right, Ms Ashton balances the scales in terms of gender, coming from the left,  and being from a big country.

Ms Ashton, trade commissioner since October last year, has no foreign policy experience and has never held a senior ministerial post.

She said it was a measure of “her slight surprise” that – unlike Mr Van Rompuy – she did not have a prepared speech but pledged to “represent [European] values across the world.”

Ms Ashton, who still has to be approved by the European Parliament, highlighted her skills by pointing to her success in negotiating a free trade agreement with South Korea, the EU’s largest ever bilateral trade deal.

——————–

UPDATED November 28, 2009:

It is easy to get exasperated with the EU if you want to see a strong union, but if you are a realist and see what the present 27 look like when they sit together, you might rather think that the choice of Mr. Van Rompuy and Lady Ashton was an inspird one.

The problems facing the EU will not be its position at a table of three but: its inability to set policy goals, poor follow up to what they decide, and poor coordination among the states. So, what is needed is someone who is a unifier to a fractious coalition on the home front – call it marriage councilor at home. The fact that Van Rompuy steps out from the Belgian House that is divided between the Flemish and the Waloons, into the EU House that is splintered even much more, is thus Belgium’s loss and Europe’s gain.

OK, today we know the Barroso choices for the EC Commission and next problem will thus be for Mr. Van Rompuy to find his way in the coexistence package between his position of a Permanent President with a  two and a half year’s permanency, and the half-a-year revolving Presidents of which he will have five starting with Spain on January 1, 2010, while also having to maneuver between his “supremo” foreign policy manager Lady Ashton, the European Parliament, and the European Commissioners, all claiming some sort of rights known only to them. Good Luck EU!

Some say that Van Rompuy has a hidden agenda to build a strong Union – I wonder where they got this – surely not from his statements. If they are right – we will be very happy.

Barroso Commission II

Austria – Johannes Hahn (EPP) – Regional policy

Belgium – Karel De Gucht (ELDR) – Trade

Bulgaria – Rumiana Jeleva (EPP) – International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response

Cyprus – Androulla Vassiliou (ELDR) – Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth

Czech Republic – Stefan Fuele (PES) – Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy

Denmark – Connie Hedegaard (EPP) – Climate Action

Estonia – Siim Kallas (ELDR) – Transport (Vice-President)

Finland – Olli Rehn (ELDR) – Economic and Monetary Affairs

France – Michel Barnier (EPP) – Internal Market and Services

Germany – Günther Oettinger (EPP) – Energy

Greece – Maria Damanaki (PES) – Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

Hungary – László Andor (PES) – Employment, Soclai Affairs and Inclusion

Ireland – Maire Geoghegan Quinn (ELDR) – Research, Innovation and Science

Italy – Antonio Tajani (EPP) – Industry and Entrepreneurship (Vice-President)

Latvia – Andris Piebalgs (EPP) – Development

Lithuania – Algirdas Šemeta (EPP) – Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud

Luxembourg – Viviane Reding (EPP) – Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship (Vice-President)

Malta – John Dalli (EPP) – Health and Consumer Policy

The Netherlands – Neelie Kroes (ELDR) – Digital Agenda (Vice-President)

Poland – Janusz Lewandowski (EPP) – Budget

Portugal – Commission President José Manuel Barroso (EPP)

Romania – Dacian Ciolos (EPP) – Agriculture

Slovakia – Maros Sefcovic (PES) – Institutional Affairs and Administration (Vice-President)

Slovenia – Janez Potocnik (ELDR) – Environment

Spain – Joaquín Almunia (PES) – Competition (Vice-President)

Sweden – Cecilia Malmström (ELDR) – Home Affairs

United Kingdom – Catherine Ashton (PES) – EU foreign policy chief (Vice-President)


###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 27th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The UN University Is Becoming The Institution of Research it Was Intended to Be:
It Deals Now With Subjects Like The Possible Updating of the UN Security Council; Other Effective Governing Tools; The Concept of Ethics in Adam Smith in the light of the Present Global Crises; or the Prospect of International Mediation of Conflicts.

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

The UN University – UNU –  is one of the smaller United Nations organizations, and is reliant on voluntary contributions. UNU receives no funds from the regular UN budget. Headquartered in Tokyo it is obviously supported by the Japanese government. Further funding comes from other government, agencies, international organizations, foundations, and private companies.

UNU is dedicated to the generation and transfer of knowledge, and the strengthening of individual and institutional capacities in furtherance of the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

The mission of UNU is to contribute, through research and capacity building, to efforts to resolve the pressing global problems that are a concern of the United Nations, its Peoples and Member States.

In fulfilling this mission, UNU fosters intellectual cooperation among scholars, scientists, and practitioners worldwide — especially those in the developing world — and functions as:

an international community of scholars;
a bridge between the United Nations and the international academic community;
a think-tank for the United Nations system;
a builder of capacity, particularly in developing countries; and
a platform for dialogue and new and creative ideas.
Since its modest beginnings in September 1975, UNU has grown and matured into a decentralized, global network comprising UNU Centre in Tokyo, a worldwide network of 13 UNU Research and Training Centres/Programmes (UNU RTC/Ps), and liaison offices at United Nations headquarters (New York) and UNESCO headquarters (Paris).

UNU Press publishes numerous books each year and cooperates in the production of five journals. The UNU Office of Communication oversees production of the Work in Progress and UNU Updatenewsletters and UNU Annual Report, and assists the academic units the preparation of their public information materials and other communications.

UNU has 15 Research and Training Centres/Programmes spanning many critical issues facing humanity today.

The ‘programme space’ within which UNU operates is defined by three variables:

the major processes that are profoundly changing our world
the actors that are effecting these changes
and the topics and themes most relevant to UNU’s mission
Within this programme space, our activities are clustered into two broad programme areas — Peace and Governance, and Environment and Development — and further focused within five thematic areas: Peace and Security; Good Governance; Development and Poverty Reduction; Environment and Sustainability; and Science, Technology and Society.

————

FROM OUR POINT OF VIEW – UNU IS THE ONLY THINK TANK IN THE UN SYSTEM AND ITS MAIN INTEREST IS IN:

HUMAN SECURITY, PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT. THE LATER IS OBVIOUSLY SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND THE RELATED ISSUES OF RENEWABLE ENERGY AND THE EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE.

———–

Associated Institutions of the UNU:

Supplementing the work of UNU’s 15 centers are institutions of academic excellence that have been designated by the University Council as UNU Associated Institutions.

Federal University of Mato Grosso, Pantanal Regional Environmental Programme, Mato Grosso, Brazil;

Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, International Environmental Research Center, Gwangju, Republic of Korea;

Griffith University. Institute for Ethics, Governance and Law, Queensland, Australia;

Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore, India;

GRID-Arendal, Global Virtual University, Arendal, Norway;

University of Bonn, Center for Development Research, Bonn, Germany;

Tufts University, Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Boston, USA;

Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, Thailand;

Global Fire Monitoring Center, Freiburg, Germany;

International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation, Enschede, the Netherlands;

University of Madras, Mahatma Gandhi Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Chennai, India;

National Food Research Institute, Ibaraki, Japan;

University of Ulster, INCORE (International Conflict Research), Northern Ireland;

Cornell University, UNU Food and Nutrition Programme for Human and Social Development, Ithaca, NY, USA;

University of Chile, Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology, Santiago, Chile;

Mahidol University, Institute of Nutrition, Nakhon Pathom, Thailand;

National Institute of Public Health, Mexico, Nutrition and Health Research Center, Cuervavaca, Mexico;

Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population, National Nutrition Institute, Cairo, Egypt;

Shanghai Institute for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institution for Nutritional Sciences, Shanghai, PRC;

University of Nairobi, Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Technology, Nairobi, Kenya;

Gansu Natural Energy Research Institute, Gansu Natural Energy Research Institute / UNIDO International Solar Energy Center for Technology Promotion and Transfer (ISEC-GNERI), Gansu, PRC.

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Liaison Offices

UNU Office in New York

As part of its mandate to serve the United Nations University, UNU-ONY has a multifaceted mandate with an overarching mission to showcase and make UNU’s Research and Programmes (RTCP) available to the UN Secretariat, UN Permanent Missions, NGOs, academics and civil society.

Dr. Jean-Marc Coicaud
2 United Nations Plaza, Room DC2-2060, New York, N.Y. 10017 U.S.A.
Tel: (1-212) 963-6387; Fax: (1-212) 371-9454
E-mail:  unuona at ony.unu.edu   –  www.ony.unu.edu

UNU Liaison Office at UNESCO, Paris

Luk Van Langenhoven
Representative, United Nations University Office at UNESCO
c/o UNESCO Bureau 7B 4.06, 1, rue Miollis, 75732 Paris Cedex 15, France.
Tel: (33-1) 45.68.46.42 Fax: (33-1) 40.65.91.86
E-mail:  unuoe at unesco.org

Headquarters: United Nations University Centre
5–53–70 Jingumae,
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-8925
Japan

Tel: +81–(0)3–5467–1212 • Fax: +81–(0)3–3499–2828 • E-mail:  mbox at unu.edu
Webmaster:  webmaster at hq.unu.edu

————–

WE WRITE ABOUT THE UNU AT THIS TIME AS WE REALIZED THAT THE UNU IS TAKING ITS ROLE AS UN THINK TANK VERY SERIOUSLY AND THIS MONTH HAS HAD SEVERAL PRESENTATION S AT THE UN HEADQUARTERS SPONSORED BY ITS NEW YORK LIAISON OFFICE. THESE PRESENTATIONS, OPEN TO ALL WITH INTEREST IN THE FUTURE OF THE UN, CLEARLY MAY HELP FINDING SOLUTIONS TO SOME OF THE UN PROBLEMS AT A TIME THE UN HAS REACHED ALL-TIME LOWS IN THE WAY IT IS PERCEIVED IN THE WORLD.  I saw at those presentations members of Missions to the UN, NGOs and plain interested outsiders, but very little participation from among the in-house accredited Press. This worries me as it can be seen as a sign that the Media that keeps criticizing the UN does not make an effort to look at ways that may improve the working of the UN.

————–

Monday, October 26, 2009 UNU tackled the topic: “SECURITY COUNCIL REFORM” led by the presenter Dr. Joseph Schwartzenberg, an academic from Brooklyn, who is now with the University of Minnesota, who devised a mathematical formula for a weighted voting system at the UN. His ideas were published in a book titled accordingly – “REVITALIZING THE UNITED NATIONS: REFORM THROUGH WEIGHTED VOTING.” He wrote this in 2004 while President of the Minnesota Chapter of Citizens for Global Solutions (CGS), formerly the World Federalist Association (WFM). Among the organizations that backed this project were also the Center for UN Reform Education (CURE), and the Canada based Academic Council on the United Nations (ACUNS), as well as the CGS and the WFM.

Professionally, Professor Schwartzenberg is a Cartographer of South East Asia, and he was also the author of books about the Indian subcontinent ranging from Geography to the caste system and to an effort at Peace-making in Kashmir.

The specific in The Schwartzenberg system is a regional formula for a 12 Member Security Council based on the equation that evaluates the Weighted Voting power of a Region as one third of the total Population percentage of the world population defined as “P” plus one third of the region’s financial Contribution to the UN budget which obviously is a function of its share as measured by its total GNP – this is defined as “C” and plus a constant which is based on the present size of the UN membership – that is 192 and is intended to give equal status to all States – this last factor is defined as “M” and is dependent on the number of States that are members of the region – each State having an 0.52% value as in 1/192 – but when it comes to the formula – the constant used by Dr. Schwartzenberg is 8.33% which is 1/12 as per the 12 regions.

We get thus  WV = (P + C + M) / 3

These numbers Range then from a 16.19 for Europe to 4,27 for the Westminster League which covers Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The US gets 14.32 and China gets 11.09.

Those in between include:India (8.95); (Japan 8.03); Latin America (7.77) includes the Caribbean; East Asia (7.46) includes the Pacific Island States, the Koreas, and Mongolia; Africa (6.56) Subsahara, West Asia (6.04) includes Turkey, Iran, and Central Asia; Arab League (4.96) that includes the MENA States; Russia (4.38) including Belarus and the Ukraine.

The presentation was followed with a lively discussion at which participated quite a few members of the Missions.

Professor Schwartzenberg answered many questions by the fact that these groups or Regions can change like for instance if Turkey or the Ukraine join the EU. He also insisted that nobody gets the Veto right as the weighted vote gives Europe, the US and China the high level of power and India, Japan and a Brazil led Latin America have strong power also.

I expressed my questions regarding the fact that the Small Independent Island States in the Pacific, being led by New Zealand, might prefer being part of the Westminster League group rather then East Asia. Professor Schwartzenberg agreed and said that the former British Colonies in the Pacific and in the Caribbean, with Parliamentary government systems in place may indeed opt to move and he does not object to this. He had a more negative position to my suggestion that a 10% WV or even an 11% figure should be entitled to a RIGHT OF VETO POWER. My suggestion came in effect in the steps of a remark he made that Russia should never have been recognized as the inheritor of the USSR original veto power of the charter. This is clearly a correct observation that puts the Security Council in question as nothing but a diplomatic arrangement that is far from the original charter agreement. Imagine Scotland and Wales leaving the UK – will then England hold on to the Veto power? Will the proliferation of the number of States resulting from break-up of empires result in enhanced power by numbers? Will the break-up of Nigeria result in the infusion of 38 mini-states to the UN? This last thought has special value in the light of Africa asking for a permanent membership for Nigeria – so the idea is not far fetched.

My suggestion of 10 or 11 in the Schwartzenberg scheme to be the the veto cut off point has also the added value that it removes the mistaken veto that the UN body has allowed to Russia, and it forces the EU to finally proceed in its unification procedures. It further sets an attainable goal for a solidified India and in the mean-time it makes it more acceptable for the US, China and the EU to accept the Schwartzenberg proposal.

I strongly feel that having such a discussion at UNU gives this UN member something to be proud off. Further I must say that I am partial to this UNU effort because of my old activities within think-tanks, and the fact that the same CURE, that backed the Schwartzenberg proposal, also backed my own “Promptbook on Sustainable Development” which can be seen on this website – that was before the Johannesburg Summit of 2001.

—————————

Monday, October 19, 2009, UNU hosted a Panel that was Initiated by the Government of Catalonia, an Autonomous Region In Spain.

The Topic: “DECENTRALIZED GOVERNMENTS AND THE NEW MULTILATERALISM.”

The Catalans came in full force and there were a sprinkle of Basques and Flemish officials in the room as well. It was a three hour long event. The point was that autonomous well-to-do regions in Europe that would like to achieve their independence within an EU context, and probably will eventually be able to do so, have started to institute their own foreign aid programs as a first step towards getting the international recognition even before they are released by their own UN member National governments.  n the other hand, what about areas that are under very different regimes then Europe? What about the ethnic regions of China? Or even less controversial areas in Africa or Latin America? What about Chechnya and other regions in Russia? The Catalan success story just highlights the darker corners of the UN system. But then, when it comes to break-away parts of a UN member state even a country like Belgium is not rational about its comport, The Flemish Gentleman, whom I asked why do his people fight for keeping Brussels as their wished-for capital, while dividing the country into three, rather then two parts would be easier and would be much more in the interest of all involved. In such a case Brussels could become the Federal District of a Federalized European Union. He said – NEVER.

We had there the president, Vice president, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, the Director General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid of Catalonia. There was also a speaker for the North Atlantic Autonomous Region of Nicaragua whose region is aided by the Catalans. There was a participant for the Spanish Government, and towards the end and the eating of the great sandwiches, came also the Spanish Ambassador to the UN.

There were also representatives of various humanitarian UN affiliates and of the UN proper. The argument was made that a region-to-region foreign aid relationship is more efficient then when central governments are involved. Further, today many other non-central government organizations can act very efficiently, or those NGOs or even corporate interests when bent to do good.

I just glanced over the event, but in reality there was much that was put forward. There was talk of the Cardozo report that involved civil society in the works of the UN.

Non-centralized government is somewhere closer to civil society – this specially when the talk is about a G2, 7, 18, 20, 22 or whatever figure will evolve. There must be place for Parliaments, cities, Mayors, local authorities and Regions inside States and in between States. The 21st century strategy will deal with Global Public Goods and the renewal of multilateralism on a different scale. We go to more globalization of the problems and this will require a more down to earth approach to the solutions.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009, UNU hosted the new Turkish Ambassador to the UN, Ertugrul Apakan whose topic was: “CONFLICT AND INTERNATIONAL MEDIATION: A TURKISH PERSPECTIVE.”

Though only two months in New York, Ambassador Apakan has in the past held positions that got him directly involved in the Turkish – Greek controversies over Cyprus, and his position in New York seemingly comes about Turkey’s efforts to be the Middle East mediator.

Turkey sees itself part of the region that stretches from Afghanistan to the caucasus and from the Middle East to the Balkan that includes the main areas of conflict in the world. Having friendly relations with Syria, Israel, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Turkey has viable peace in mind as its objective – that calls for mediation.

To have a peace agreement one must have a viable plan – without such a plan agreements fall apart he said. The Turkish approach is to respect the value system of all partners. The Ambassador thinks that in the Middle East the situation is ripe for mediation – provided the parties agree to have mediation. Asked what is most important in mediation – his answer was to be a good listener.

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Friday, October 23, 2009, UNU hosted Professor Charles Sampford, Director of the Institute for Ethics, Governance and Law, which is a joint UNU and Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. 2002-2004 he was a member of a task force on responding to threats to democracy chaired by Mme. Madeleine Albright, and 2006 he was the convener of the first World Ethics Forum in Oxford.

The presentation looked at the present global financial crisis as the result of multiple and reinforcing governance failures – financial intermediaries abused the powers entrusted to them. His main point was that they completely misrepresented what ADAM SMITH was saying by using their quotes only from his “Wealth of Nations,” and completely leaving out of their sites his other book – “THE THEORY OF MORAL SENTIMENTS.” The presentation in New York was in effect a celebration of 250th Anniversary of its publication.

The topic: “ADAM SMITH’S LOST LEGACY: ETHICS IN FINANCIAL REGULATION.”

In 1533 Peter Stuyvesant built a brick wall to keep out the Barbarians and in 1961 East Germany built a wall to keep out the capitalists. These walls came down. The Social Democrats thought they can leave space for democracy when dealing with capitalism. The quote says nevertheless that it is not from the butcher, backer and brewer that we expect our dinner – but it is rather from their self interest. But watch out – self interest can put food on our table and drop the bomb over Nagasaki.

Adam Smith allowed that for tackling a problem it suffice to go back to Confucius, Jesus and Moses, but we know now that further elements are needed – there was no ethics yet in his days.

When joint stock holdings were created – that is when it became clear that capital gathering unions can do better then the individual. Further, groups like NGOs work for more then just the self-interest.

Corruption is abuse in the name of self interest so we cannot go back to The Wealth of Nations ideas of Adam Smith. Economists say now we need Incentives and Disincentives. Institutions are all about interests and incentives alone. Disincentives may help bring about change.

Corruption and climate change are areas we cannot leave to Adam Smith alone these days! We must find solutions that are large – but they have to include his ideas also.

There is serious problem when a theory becomes ideology. also we have to define scales like global, local, regional. corporate…governments – the same for financial area problems – global, regulatory, financial regulatory, corporate, government, …

The artificial financial instruments that were created – where do we get the balance between regulation and freedom in financial instruments? with the Market and Democracy distinction – how does one give legitimacy to the market?

Of course – one person one vote is not the same as one dollar one vote – we must decide which way we go, but we must remember that ethics is how we claim to serve the community.

Smith does not speak of the law – but in his second book he stresses ethics & Justice.

There is promotion and economic rewards, but when you get your first loaf of bread you are happy – when you get the third it does matter much less.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 28th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From:        sander at brinkmanclimatechange.com
Subject: Information Toolkit for post-2012 climate policies, side event Poznan December 1st, 3.30pm
Date:           November 28, 2008

Toolkit for post-2012 climate policies will be presented in Poznan on the very first day:

December 1, 3.30-5.30pm, EU Pavilon: Rubinstein room.

We are pleased to invite you to have a look at the Toolkit and to be informed on the contents.

If you are already interested, you may freely download the Toolkit from:
 www.brinkmanclimatechange.com/Too…

For further information, please contact:
Sander Brinkman,  sander at brinkmanclimatechange.com
Koen Smekens,  smekens at ecn.nl

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 30th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Belgian south keen to join France – writes Philippa Runner for the EUobserver.
Almost one out of two French-speaking Belgians would like to join France if their country split up, a new survey says, amid a deepening political crisis in the host-state of the European Union’s top institutions.

Forty nine percent of people in the south-lying Belgian region of Wallonia said they would support “rattachment” – a re-joining – with France in the event of a break-up with the northern Dutch-speaking region of Flanders.

The figure shows a huge jump from 29 percent six months ago, even though just 23 percent of Walloons believe the country might actually fall apart, an Ifop poll for Belgian and French papers Le Soir and La Voix du Nord found.
On the French side, 60 percent of respondents would like to join-up with their Belgian neighbours, up from 54 percent in previous surveys. The majority in favour is even higher in bordering regions such as Pas-de-Calais.

The news comes after more than a year of political paralysis in Belgium, which saw government coalition talks drag on for nine months after June 2007 elections and whose prime minister has resigned three times since March.

The Dutch-speaking leader, Yves Leterme, last threw in the towel on 14 July in a row over giving more power to local governments, with French-speakers worried that richer Dutch-speaking regions might hold back financial support.

The Belgian king rejected his resignation and has appointed three “wise men” to propose a solution by the end of the month, with early general elections in mid-2009 looking increasingly likely.

Around half of the people in Flanders regularly say they would like to split from Wallonia – caricatured by Flemings as lazy, poor and pretentious – with a minority in the north keen to join the Netherlands instead.



“We shouldn’t touch Belgium…unless the Flemish make life so impossible for the Walloons that the Walloons throw themselves into our arms,” an editorial in Le Soir quoted former French leader Charles de Gaulle as saying in 1965.

The Manken Pis statue in Brussels: who would it belong to if Belgium divorced?  

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 16th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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Belgium heading for new crisis after Leterme resignation
Belgian prime minister Yves Leterme has resigned after failing to reach an agreement over power sharing, Le Monde reports.

The Flemish Leterme was elected after promising greater autonomy for the Dutch-speaking Flanders region, but his reliance on hard-line independence parties in his ruling coalition has forced him to take a tough stance over relations with French-speaking Wallonia.

The paper says that this is the third time Leterme has resigned since winning the elections in June 2007, but that this time he is unlikely to return.

The issue of the bilingual region around Brussels – which continues to encroach on monolingual Flemish regions and has the nationalists incensed – was cited as the key reason for Leterme’s failure.

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 www.spiegel.de/international/euro…

THE WORLD FROM BERLIN
‘Belgium Is the World’s Most Successful Failed State’

Chaos has returned to Belgium’s capital: The government has collapsed, the prime minister has offered his resignation. German newspapers on Wednesday wonder if the linguistically divided country will ever get its act together.

Getty Images
Belgium and the road to nowhere. The linguistically divided country seems incapable of moving forward.

The Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme threw in the towel late on Monday night, saying he could not force through a consensus between the Flemish and French-speaking coalition partners.

Leterme offered his resignation (more…) to King Albert II, who has so far not formally accepted it. The king is now holding consultations with lawmakers expected to last several days.
In his statement, Leterme, head of the Flemish-speaking Christian Democrats, said the “federal consensus model has reached its limits” — raising the specter of Belgium breaking up for good. The prime minister had a self-imposed July 15 deadline to come up with an agreement on constitutional reform.
The nation’s two main regions — Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north, and Francophone Wallonia in the south — have enjoyed increased regional autonomy since the 1970s. The prosperous north now wants more autonomy. It has pushed for reforms that would shift responsibility for taxation and some social security down to the regional level. Francophone parties accuse their Flemish counterparts of trying to separate the north from the poorer south, where unemployment is three times as high.
Matters have been further complicated by a dispute over an electoral district that comprises largely Francophone Brussels and 20 Flemish-speaking towns near the capital.
German papers on Wednesday are concerned about the political crisis at the heart of Europe, but most hold out hope that the Belgians will save their government.

The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:
“There is a great sense of perplexity. No one knows how Belgium should go forward. New elections won’t bring any new power relations and so won’t bring any solution. Before one starts to criticize small Belgium for its political incompetence one should reflect on the fact that if the Flemish want more regional autonomy and the Walloons are fearfully fighting against that, as in all political conflicts, it is a question of the deep desire for self-determination, identity and belonging. Belgium’s search for a new internal balance is not simply about the country’s folklore. It concerns all of Europe.”

The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes:
“The vast majority of the six million Flemish and four million Walloons have nothing against living in the same state, even if it is often a parallel existence. What has pushed the country to the edge of a crisis of state are the provincial-minded politicians and the parties which have become mere lobby groups. Stubborn insistence on proportionality and the splitting of the party system along both political and linguistic lines have caused the art of compromise to slowly shrivel away. That is why there is no easy way out of the crisis. The voters should now speak.”

The left-leaning Die Tageszeitung writes:
“In terms of economics, Belgium is the most successful ‘failed state’ of all time. Its per capita income is way ahead of Germany, the world’s leading exporter …”
“Belgium can continue to flourish without a national government for the simple reason that the cabinet doesn’t have to decide much anyway. Most authority has devolved to the regions … The central government is left to deal with foreign policy, defense and finance policy — all issues that are increasingly taken care of at the EU level.”
“The Belgian government still controls spending on social welfare. And this is where the conflict has blown up between the two language groups, because rich Flanders wants to pay less for poorer Wallonia.”
“There is still no solution in sight. But part of the Belgian paradox is that there will be some sort of compromise at some stage. Belgium is not lost yet.”

The left-leaning Berliner Zeitung writes:
“In Belgium the word ‘separation’ is rearing its ugly head again. But things are still not quite that bad. Belgians are masters of muddling through and reaching compromises. Once again King Albert II is playing a key role: He can reject Leterme’s resignation and force the coalition partners to work together for a transitional period. He could also ask someone else to form a government.”
“Snap elections are unlikely: that would require a compromise in the dispute over the bilingual electoral district in Brussels. This is the issue that forced the break-up of the government. It is possible that voters will be asked to elect a new parliament when they go to the polls for European and regional elections next June. Now it’s a question of playing for time. No one in Belgium believes in big solutions that will ease the conflict between the linguistic groups in the long term.”

The conservative Die Welt writes:

“Belgium had always prided itself on being a model for Europe: exemplifying, through the art of compromise and the virtue of tolerance, how nations and cultures can exist peacefully side by side. The country can no longer claim this. The latest political crisis sees the kingdom moving towards the limits of being governable. It is difficult to understand how a people can get so caught up in trifles that they allow the very existence of the country come under threat. On the surface the conflict seems to hinge on a small electoral district in Brussels that was supposed to be split up, ending its bilingual status. “

“In reality, however, the Belgians are arguing about much more. The question is how much solidarity people are prepared to show when times are tough. The rich north no longer wants to help out the south, which has been buffeted by globalization. In the end it’s all about money.”
— Siobhán Dowling,

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OPINION

“Belgium Is the Laboratory for Europe.”
Tuesday 15 July 2008, by: Mathieu Carbasse Interviews Olivier Mouton, Le Nouvel Observateur.

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Brussels’ Grand Place, a World Heritage site. Le Soir’s Olivier Mouton talks about Belgium’s political fractiousness: “If there were a scission, what does Brussels become? A city with international status? A city with its own government? Brussels is the capital for both sides; it’s the capital of the country; the capital of Europe.” (Photo: Hideo Kurihara-Stone / Getty Images)


Le Nouvel Observateur: Why don’t Walloons and Flemings reach agreement over institutional reform?

Olivier Mouton: The Flemish parties have wanted to reform the State for a long time in order to obtain greater autonomy for Flanders. Since 1999, they demand the regions take greater responsibility for themselves, especially on a financial level. They also want a reconsideration of the possibility Francophones in the Flemish periphery of Brussels have today to vote for Brussels Francophone candidates in the legislative elections.
On the French-speaking side, the parties have always said the same thing: “After the five big reforms of the 1970s, the federal government suffices to govern the country.”
And on the eve of the June 2007 legislative elections, the Flemings once again ran up against the Francophones’ calm refusal to implement institutional reforms. Hence the failures of successive governments and the impasse in which we find ourselves.
But today, thinking has evolved, especially on the Francophone side. There has been a radicalization of understanding, a maturation that has led the Francophones to say to themselves: “we too could be autonomous.” At present, one feels a real disposition to allow stronger regional autonomy, even going beyond what the majority of Flemings desire.
Is a partition of the kingdom between Francophones and Dutch-speakers imaginable?
Ten years ago, the question was still taboo. In 2008, it’s a question that public opinion revisits. People talk about it, but one must not lose sight of the fact that the country is accustomed to crises, as in the 1930s and 1950s. Then people talked about major misunderstandings within the country itself. However that may be, a partition will not happen in a snap of the fingers.
The Brussels question poses a problem because the city has a legal status and a reality apart. It’s the hyphen between Flemish Belgium and Francophone Belgium. If there were a scission, what does Brussels become? A city with international status? A city with its own government? Brussels is the capital for both sides; it’s the capital of the country; the capital of Europe. This question cannot be settled just like that.
The primary reality today is the global economic crisis that is looming. So we must find a way to streamline the discussion and find a fast way out of the crisis.
Don’t you think the political crisis in Belgium exposes the identity problems that Europe is currently experiencing with respect to economic solidarity and respect for cultural and linguistic specificities?
I know that some do not like this definition, but Belgium is a little bit the laboratory of Europe. There’s an economic and social fracture between a rich region and a poor region, as is the case in Italy and in Spain. It’s also a country where two cultures cohabit, one Latin, one Germanic. The Belgian question reveals the difficulties the European Union is currently confronting in terms of solidarity, notably post enlargement.
Belgium, like Europe, is in a phase of withdrawal in on itself, an economic, social and cultural turning inward. The Flemings feel cornered and retreat behind a linguistic barrier. They are arrogant economically, but very fragile culturally. When that position is taken up by certain populist parties, it backfires.
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Olivier Mouton is editor-in-chief of the daily newspaper, Le Soir.
Translation: Truthout French language editor Leslie Thatcher.

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