links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic

Follow us on Twitter



Posted on on March 9th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (

Court Allows Nigerian Communities Struggling From Oil Spills to Sue Shell in the Netherlands

By Raven Rakia, Grist

March 9, 2016

This week, two fishing communities in Nigeria got permission from a United Kingdom court to sue Shell in the Netherlands, the company’s home country. The lawsuit sets a rare precedent for the victims of environmental catastrophes in the global south to be able to hold the company at fault responsible in its home country.

The villages currently taking Shell to task in the U.K., Ogale and Bille, are hardly the first to suffer from oil contamination. Spills have devastated the fishing communities around the Niger Delta. Between 2008 and 2014, 48,000 tons of Shell’s oil spilled into the delta, according to The Wall Street Journal. Shell has blamed the oil spills on thieves, but accepts responsibility for cleaning them up.

The spills have destroyed local ecosystems and in turn, the livelihoods of the people who depend upon them, many of whom are farmers or fishermen. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari told Bloomberg News devastation from the spills that destroyed many people’s way of life had led some to resort to crimes.

So why is it so important that Shell be sued at its home base, and not in the country where its damage was done? In 2013, the energy giant was already sued in Nigerian court by the community of Bodo — also on the delta — and found liable for a landmark $77 million in damages, which will go to over 15,000 residents and to redevelop the area. However, even that much money may not be enough to remedy the devastation to Nigeria’s delta communities.

A year after the suit was settled, many of the residents of Bodo are left with unfinished homes. This week, Bloomberg News reported on the current state of Bodo a year after Shell paid millions of dollars to the community:

While Royal Dutch Shell Plc paid 55 million pounds ($77 million) in compensation last year, residents have spent almost all of it and can’t finish their new homes. Standing at the waterfront, Christian Kpandei, a 56-year-old pastor, surveys the row of unfinished houses near the bank.“This is why they are crying,” said Kpandei, who led the compensation campaign against Shell. “There’s no money again.”

The allocation of funds has caused some disagreements. While some residents prefer direct cash payments, Shell and NGOs like the Ogoni Solidarity Forum claim that the money should go to companies and government entities that would clean up the spills, but there’s reasonable skepticism around how the money would actually be spent.

Despite Shell’s promises to clean up oil spills, an Amnesty International report that was published last November revealed that four oil spills had not been cleaned up yet — despite Shell claiming otherwise:

In 2011 the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) exposed massive levels of pollution caused by oil spills from Shell pipelines in the Ogoniland region of the Niger Delta. UNEP also exposed how the damage done to the environment and people was exacerbated by the company’s failure to clean up the spills properly. In response, Shell promised to clean up sites identified by UNEP and improve its response to future spills.

Yet in field investigations at four of the spill sites UNEP identified as highly polluted in 2011, Amnesty International and CEHRD found all four remain visibly contaminated in 2015, even though Shell says it has cleaned them. The investigation demonstrates this is due to inadequate clean-up, and not new oil spills.

At one of the locations, Shell’s Bomu Well 11, researchers found blackened soil and layers of oil on the water, 45 years after an oil spill took place – even though Shell claims to have cleaned it up twice, in 1975 and 2012. At other sites, certified as cleaned by the Nigerian regulator, researchers found soil and water contaminated by oil close to where people lived and farmed.

Let’s hope that the judge in the current lawsuit orders an inspector to oversee the spill cleanups, at the very least. If you ask me, Shell should be responsible for both cleaning up the sites and paying reparations to the many residents who now have no way of making a living. These disasters happen in developing countries all the time, but the companies that cause them are rarely held responsible in their home jurisdiction. This lawsuit may break that pattern and push corporations to think twice before doing all their dirty work far from home.


Posted on on May 27th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

from Elzen, den Michel —  Michel.denElzen at

PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, NewClimate Institute, Ecofys and IIASA have published a report entitled “Enhanced policy scenarios for major emitting countries: Analysis of current and planned climate policies, and selected enhanced mitigation measures”.

This study provides an overview of projected greenhouse gas emissions of 13 major emitting countries up to 2030, taking into account the emission trajectories based on current and planned policies, and selected enhanced mitigation measures that are in line with national priorities.

Some countries are likely to achieve their 2020 pledges through current policies, while others require the effective implementation of planned policies or additional measures.

The policy brief can be downloaded at:…

The full report can be downloaded at:……

This study, as well as an assessment of the INDCs, will be presented at SB 42:

Preparation and assessment of intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs)

Friday, 5 June
Bonn III (72)


PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency

 Michel.denelzen at


Posted on on January 25th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

We find it astonishing how not even the Alternate Media sees the whole picture. The Glenn Greenwald following article is surely a great further contribution to his efforts to open hidden content – but even he missed a more up-to date point – the fact that January 27, 2015 happens to be the date much of Europe commemorates the freeing 70 years ago, January 27, 1945, of the Auschwitz death camp by the Russian Army. Simply put – even at the UN – January 27 is HMD – Holocaust Memorial Day while quite a few Muslim/Islamic States are effectively Holocaust deniers something outlawed in civilized States. I am just not sure where the Saudis present and past stand on this issue.

Many European leaders will be at Auschwitz that day but Putin will not be there. Oh well – he just was not invited by the Poles! Now come the news that President Obama will be in Ryadh! Ryadh of all places? A town where Jews are not allowed even as tourists – in 2015?

We did not condemn President Obama for not going to the Paris reunion of Heads of State after the ISIS/AQAP attacks on that Jewish supermarket and Charlie Hebdo. We felt that he was right to let the Europeans deal with this by themselves – rather then make a token appearance – but Auschwitz is just another matter. It was the US that took on the responsibility to save Europe from itself, and at that time the World at large as well. And that is something that calls for the US participation at highest level at this 70th commemoration that happens to be when the World is threatened again – and this time by Islamic fanatics – and don’t forget it – that started out in Saudi Arabia – and the White House and Congress choices seem all wrong.

So far we read that Bundespräsident Joachim Gauck, France President Francois Hollande, King Willem-Alexander of the Niederlands and Queen Maxima, Crown Princess Viktoria of Schweden, and Crown Prince Haakon von Norway are among the Heads of State that are going to Auschwitz for the January 27, 2015 memorial. Then the announcement that President Obama and Vice-President Biden go to Ryadh. President Obama even shortened his all-important trip to India to pass on the way back through Ryadh. This seemingly detours now also President Hollande and Prime Minister Cameron who seemingly will switch from going to Auschwitz and go to Ryadh instead. Oh well – this smells of oil. Today this means that the new Saudi King will be asked to reciprocate by continuing the policy of cheap oil that hurts mainly Iran and Russia while being a boon to short-sighted industrial economies.


It seems like somebody had an after-thought in the White House – and voila:

The White House – Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release
January 17, 2015
President Obama Announces Presidential Delegation to Attend the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau

President Barack Obama today announced the designation of a Presidential Delegation to Oswicim, Poland, to attend the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau on January 27, 2015.

The Honorable Jacob J. Lew, Secretary of the Department of Treasury, will lead the delegation.

Members of the Presidential Delegation:

The Honorable Stephen D. Mull, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Poland, Department of State

The Honorable Crystal Nix-Hines, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Department of State

The Honorable David Saperstein, Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Department of State

Dr. Charles A. Kupchan, Senior Director for European Affairs, National Security Council

Mr. Nicholas Dean, Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues, Department of State

Ms. Aviva Sufian, Special Envoy for U.S. Holocaust Survivor Services, Department of Health and Human Services

Mr. Israel Arbeiter, Auschwitz-Birkenau Survivor

Mrs. Irene Weiss, Auschwitz-Birkenau Survivor

Mr. David Harris, Executive Director, American Jewish Committee


But this is a Jewish delegation headed by the White House Jewish appointee – this is not the political delegation that the hour demands. Why is the trip to the family of the Tyrant King more important to President Obama and then – seemingly also Congress – did not yet think of sending someone to the Auschwitz Memorial?


Another e-mail we just got is from Antony Beevor of the Guardian
–…he tells us that Putin does not go to the Auschwitz Memorial because the Poles did not invite him – and this is a terrible mistake of the Europeans – to let the Poles take such a stand.

The note starts: “Why Vladimir Putin should be at the Auschwitz memorial ceremony.
We should forget neither the Soviet Union’s role in liberating the camps nor its antisemitic blind spots.”

It continues: “On 27 January 1945 a reconnaissance patrol from the Soviet 107th Rifle Division emerged from the snow-laden forest 70km west of Kraków. The soldiers were mounted on shaggy ponies, their submachine guns slung across their backs. In front of them stood Auschwitz-Birkenau, the grimmest symbol of modern history. Officers gazed around in disbelief, then called in medical teams to care for the 3,000 sick prisoners left behind.

It is a great shame that Vladimir Putin, having not been invited, won’t be present at a memorial ceremony next week to mark the 70th anniversary – at the very least, it would have reminded the world that the advance of Stalin’s Red Army forced the SS to abandon the extermination camps in the east. And yet the muted row over the Russian president’s absence is a reminder that this particular chapter in Russia’s second world war history was, and remains, full of contradictions.

. The first death camp to be liberated by the Red Army was Majdanek just outside Lublin, in July 1944. The novelist and war correspondent Vasily Grossman was on the spot with the 8th Guards Army, which had defended Stalingrad, but an order came down that he was not to cover the story. The job was given instead to Konstantin Simonov, a favourite of the regime, who managed to avoid mentioning that any of the victims in Majdanek were Jewish. Grossman, despite warnings from his friend Ilya Ehrenburg, had been slow to believe that antisemitism could exist within the Soviet hierarchy during the death struggle with Nazism. But in 1943 he had noticed that any reference to Jewish suffering was being cut from his articles. He wrote to complain to Aleksandr Shcherbakov, the chief of the Red Army political department. Shcherbakov replied: “The soldiers want to hear about [Russian military hero of the Napoleonic era] Suvorov, but you quote [German 19th-century poet] Heine”. Grossman joined Ehrenburg on the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee to chronicle Nazi crimes, unaware of how dangerous this might prove to be. Several of their colleagues were murdered by the secret police.

Certain truths about the Shoah could never be published in the Sovet Union. When Grossman wrote about the extermination camp of Treblinka, he could not reveal that the auxiliary guards were mostly Ukrainian. Collaboration with the enemy was a taboo subject since it undermined the rhetoric of the Great Patriotic War.

As the end of the war approached, controls became even stricter. Auschwitz may have been liberated at the end of January 1945, but no details were released until the final victory in May. The Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee soon found that its work was in direct opposition to the party instruction: “Do not divide the dead!” Jews were not to be seen as a special category of suffering. They were to be described only as citizens of the USSR and Poland. Thus in a way Stalin was the first Holocaust denier, even if his antisemitism was not quite the same as that of the Nazis. It was probably based more on a xenophobic suspicion of international connections than on racial hatred.

Soviet propaganda, while designating those killed at Auschwitz in collectively anonymous terms as “victims of fascism”, also portrayed the extermination camp as the ultimate capitalist factory, where the workers were murdered when no longer useful.

And there was a further twist away from the truth. The Stalinists emphasised how many Poles had died there to distract attention from their own crimes against the Polish people, both following the Red Army’s unprovoked invasion in 1939 under the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, and its brutal occupation from 1944. They portrayed Auschwitz as the place of martyrdom for the Polish nation. By talking only of the Polish Catholics who had died there, they hoped that the Poles might focus any anger at their bitter fate entirely against Germany and not against the Soviet Union.

Few Poles were taken in during those postwar years of Soviet oppression. And now Putin’s ill-disguised attempts to reassert Russian control over Ukraine have of course reminded the Polish people all too clearly of what Soviet “liberation” meant for them in 1945. It is not therefore surprising that we should be seeing a certain amount of diplomatic shadow-boxing in the background, while both sides insist everything is normal.

The Kremlin is pretending not to have been snubbed by the fact that President Putin has not been asked to the commemoration event; meanwhile, the Polish government insists it was not issuing formal invitations. The Auschwitz international committee, which includes a Russian representative, was simply asking each government who would be representing them.

Putin made a speech at Auschwitz 10 years ago on the 60th anniversary, and no doubt he will again proclaim in Moscow on 9 May – Russia’s Victory Day – that the Red Army’s defeat of “the fascist beast” saved Europe from Nazi slavery. {and we think he is right to claim that but this is obviously only a half truth as the Soviets did in effect exchange one slavery for another.}

But those countries, especially Poland and the Baltic states, that experienced the ensuing 40 years of Communist dictatorship glance nervously now east once more.

Russia, obsessed for centuries by a fear of encirclement and surprise attack, has always felt justified in dominating its “near abroad”. It was Stalin’s shock at Hitler’s invasion in 1941, and his consequent determination to create a defensive cordon, that led to the cold war. Putin, fortunately, is a very pale imitation of his hero.

• Antony Beevor’s next book, Ardennes – 1944: Hitler’s Last Gamble, is out in May 2015.


Glenn Greenwald | Compare and Contrast: Obama’s Reaction to the Deaths of King Abdullah and Hugo Chavez

By Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, 24 January 2015

Greenwald writes: “The effusive praise being heaped on the brutal Saudi despot by western media and political figures has been nothing short of nauseating; the UK Government, which arouses itself on a daily basis by issuing self-consciously eloquent lectures to the world about democracy, actually ordered flags flown all day at half-mast to honor this repulsive monarch.”

Hugo Chávez was elected President of Venezuela four times from 1998 through 2012 and was admired and supported by a large majority of that country’s citizens, largely due to his policies that helped the poor. King Abdullah was the dictator and tyrant who ran one of the most repressive regimes on the planet.

The effusive praise being heaped on the brutal Saudi despot by western media and political figures has been nothing short of nauseating; the UK Government, which arouses itself on a daily basis by issuing self-consciously eloquent lectures to the world about democracy, actually ordered flags flown all day at half-mast to honor this repulsive monarch. My Intercept colleague Murtaza Hussain has an excellent article about this whole spectacle, along with a real obituary, here.

I just want to focus on one aspect: a comparison of the statements President Obama issued about the 2013 death of President Chávez and the one he issued today about the Saudi ruler. Here’s the entire Obama statement about Chávez (h/t Sami Khan):

Statement covering the reaction from President Obama regarding the death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz (photo: The Guardian)

Statement covering the reaction from President Obama regarding the death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz (photo: The Guardian)

One obvious difference between the two leaders was that Chávez was elected and Abdullah was not. Another is that Chávez used the nation’s oil resources to attempt to improve the lives of the nation’s most improverished while Abdullah used his to further enrich Saudi oligarchs and western elites. Another is that the severity of Abdullah’s human rights abuses and militarism makes Chávez look in comparison like Gandhi.

But when it comes to western political and media discourse, the only difference that matters is that Chávez was a U.S. adversary while Abdullah was a loyal U.S. ally – which, by itself for purposes of the U.S. and British media, converts the former into an evil villainous monster and the latter into a beloved symbol of peace, reform and progress. As but one of countless examples: last year, British Prime Minister David Cameron – literally the best and most reliable friend to world dictators after Tony Blair – stood in Parliament after being questioned by British MP George Galloway and said: “there is one thing that is certain: wherever there is a brutal Arab dictator in the world, he will have the support of [Galloway]”; last night, the very same David Cameron pronounced himself “deeply saddened” and said the Saudi King would be remembered for his “commitment to peace and for strengthening understanding between faiths.”

That’s why there is nobody outside of American cable news, DC think tanks, and the self-loving Oxbridge clique in London which does anything but scoff with scorn and dark amusement when the US and UK prance around as defenders of freedom and democracy. Only in those circles of tribalism, jingoism and propaganda is such tripe taken at all seriously.

And Some of the Comments:

+37 # wrknight 2015-01-24 10:53
Democracy has never been a factor in determining whether a nation and its ruler are allies or enemies of the U.S.. All that matters is whether or not the ruler of that country allows U.S. Corporations to exploit their resources and/or their people.

Witness the fact that the U.S. has engineered the overthrow of numerous democratically elected presidents, while simultaneously supporting numerous ruthless dictators. The difference? The “allies” opened their markets to U.S. Corporate exploitation while the “enemies” put constraints on U.S. Corporations, nationalized U.S. Corporate assets or closed their markets entirely.

The pattern is consistent throughout U.S. history, is easily verified, and clearly tells who really dictates U.S. foreign policy.

+17 # reiverpacific 2015-01-24 11:22

So when has the US EVER NOT supported or imposed upon other nations trying to establish Democracy, a feudalist, regressive, violent or right-wing death-squad-enf orced regime, before but figuratively starting with Mossadegu’s Iran in 1953, Arbenz’s Guatemala in 1954 and almost annually since, most recently supporting the Oligarchy-drive n removal of Zelaya in Honduras, whilst high-handedly proclaiming it’s superiority, democracy and exceptionalism worldwide (for exceptionalism, substitute “‘Cause we can and if you don’t like it, we’ll do it to you too”, or “selective self-definition”).

I’m glad that Greenwald brought this up but unfortunately, the US owner-media will probably just ignore it all. In this case though, I can’t imagine even the average American somnambulistic infotainment-in formed citizen shedding any tears for this “Sheik of Arabee” leader of the oppressive Wahabist interpreters of much-abused Islam, whilst “Chop-chop square” continues as #1 public entertainment in Riyadh.

Very disappointing from Obama: I’d have expected it from Dimwits/Cheney after these revolting photos of Shrub the dumbest holding hands with the Royal Petroleum-pumpe rs, wielding a scimitar but being a lifelong incurious, clueless pinhead about the world in general.

None of them were fit to wipe Chavez’s boots!
This is proof, if any were needed, that much of International Diplomacy is forked-tongue bullshit and hypocrisy.
Good job Mr. Greenwald!

+2 # cordleycoit 2015-01-24 11:50

One has to be careful licking depots boots, Blood carries a price on the boot licker’s health. Mr. Chavez was not blameless as a leader. Of course the king shed rivers of blood to appease religious bigots men women it didn’t matter. Obama gets to supplicate to the late butcher.

+5 # Guy 2015-01-24 12:21
Nauseating is the most accurate wording for this behavior in the West .I can’t believe what I am seeing .A severe case of blindness has affected the Western view of reality.

+4 # Anonymot 2015-01-24 12:25
Well observed. Thanks.

What everyone has forgotten or never knew was how and why Abdulazis and his family became so rich. They were not poor, ever. Then came who? Richard Nixon! Wha?

After his successful re-election in 11/1973 Nixon owed a great debt to Texas oilmen who had financed his campaign. They wanted an oil pipeline from Alaska. I remember it as in the State Of The Union address, Jan. 1973 that Nixon promised to get the pipeline approved. Using the usual fear tactics he pointed out that oil prices had gone from $3 to $12 per barrel. “We cannot let OPEC have this Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads.” Nixon said.

Well, the Arabs looked at each other, Abdulaziz included. They were smart like desert foxes. We didn’t realize we were a Sword of Damocles, they said – or something like that – and that was the end of cheap oil. Nixon had just given them the arms to destroy the West and they have used them ever since.

You won’t find this documented anywhere, not even in Wikipedia. I just happened to put several disparate things together when I was sitting on a veranda on the Kenya coast and said, “Whoa!!”

It was one of those great “unintended consequences” that our brilliant politicians make, like the little Vietnam War or the little topple Saddam incursion or the Arab Spring regime changes. The Ukraine, Venezuela, Putin, and China are waiting to be played out.

-9 # daruten1 2015-01-24 12:27

Why is it necessary to evaluate every ruler and country through the lenses of our own experiences and values? Mr Greenwald is ethnocentric, judgmental and unable to perceive where other cultures are coming from given their past historical cultures and experiences. Who is he to tell other countries that they do not measure up to the Western world’s values? The world is a complicated place and diplomacy is but one instrument of getting along with people and countries whose views differ from our values and who are difficult. The trick in life is getting along with people whether you agree or disagree with them. Obama has shown intelligence and emotional intelligence in this instance.

+1 # reiverpacific 2015-01-24 12:58
Quoting daruten1:

Why is it necessary to evaluate every ruler and country through the lenses of our own experiences and values? Mr Greenwald is ethnocentric, judgmental and unable to perceive where other cultures are coming from given their past historical cultures and experiences. Who is he to tell other countries that they do not measure up to the Western world’s values? The world is a complicated place and diplomacy is but one instrument of getting along with people and countries whose views differ from our values and who are difficult. The trick in life is getting along with people whether you agree or disagree with them. Obama has shown intelligence and emotional intelligence in this instance.

“Mr Greenwald is ethnocentric, judgmental and unable to perceive where other cultures are coming from given their past historical cultures and experiences.”
Au contraiare, it’s his job as an investigative and world-respected reporter, who has had his own share of Imperialist persecution and fingers pointed at him, to comment on what he perceives as inter-cultural hypocrisy!


Posted on on September 30th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (

We knew Hank as a friend and tennis partner of Ernie Schneider who was the editor of the writings of Mr. Herman Kahn of the Hudson Institute (the Herman on the Hudson). We met Hank at the house of Suzy and Ernie Schneider. Suzy who was a daughter to a honored Austrian family was a colleague of my wife at the Austrian Consulate General in New York City and the Schneiders and Laventhols lived in Croton on the Hudson.

Hank liked to talk politics but professionally was rather a relaxed painter who liked classic music and jazz. We praised his work, and for disclosure I must say that we are proud of one of his piano/Chopin prints that hangs in our Vienna living room next to a New Orleans Jazz scene done by our son Gil.

When I first wrote the review I wanted to make reference to Hank’s whole range of work and realized that some of the reviews of his work were under a wrong spelling of his name that used the letter “a” instead of the “o” in Laventhol. I did not think that he should suffer from that seemingly widespread mistake and mentioned this other spelling as well. It turns out that Ms. Laventhol is upset with this alternate spelling – so I am taking it of my posting but have no power over all those other articles one finds on the internet.

Also, and this is more substantial, I was not careful in giving credits to the source of the material I quoted in that first posting. Now let me add here that probably all the photos of the paintings by Hank Laventhol were taken by his wife – Josay Laventhol. Probably much of the data about him was also taken from biography written by his wife, though I am sure I peppered it with material from some of the other reviews as well. Sorry if all of this has hurt feelings of the family.



Birth name     Henry Lee Laventhol

Born               21 December 1927

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Died               21 February 2001

Somers, New York

Field              painting, graphics, sculpture,


Movement     neosurrealism

Laventhol’s mysteriously romantic  landscapes and  multiple  images evoke dream states and double meanings.” Pictures on Exhibit. N.Y.C.

shell wars, oil on linen, 20”X26”        Image 1

Hank Laventhol, an American painter,   made his early career in Europe. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Laventhol graduated Yale University with a B.A. in Fine Arts and did post graduate studies at Columbia University. At age 32 he left his business life in New York City for Europe to pursue his early vocation and life long interest in art. He studied at the Academy of Fine Art in Florence, Italy and eventually spent ten years in Europe, making his home in Mallorca, Spain. He had four solo shows in London and exhibited in  major cities in Western Europe.  He returned to the United States for good in 1970, settling in Westchester County, New York, with his  Dutch born wife.

Trained as a sculptor he  worked in many other media, including painting, print making, drawing and photography.  He said “ they all mesh for me.” Laventhol painted on wooden panels prepared with gesso using the ancient egg tempera technique until he towed an American couple  in a failing rental car to a garage outside Madrid.  In gratitude, they sent him a roll of Belgian linen which started him painting on canvas using oil and acrylics.

He was a master printer,  specializing in multi plate color etchings and aquatints, a demanding and precise process that provided him with a variety of color and texture, unrivaled by any other etching technique. He owned two Wright presses and pulled his own limited edition  prints. Publishers include Associated American Artists,  New York Graphic Society, Original Print Collectors Group Ltd., Georges Visat, Paris, and Pierre Chave, Vence, France.  Laventhol was a guest lecturer at Pratt Graphic Center, New York City and wrote articles about print making,   specializing in how to achieve perfect register in multiple color aquatint.

In the United States, his work was seen at four solo shows in New York City as well as  one man and group  shows across America.

Laventhol’s work is in corporate and private collections, museums and libraries, including the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., the Yale University Museum, the New York Public Library Print Collection, the Free Library of Philadelphia and the Bibliotèque Nationale,  Paris, France.  Laventhol has been listed in Benezit, the definitive international  Directory of Artists.

Published illustrated portfolios include: “Le Miroir Aux Alouettes” by Georges Visat, Paris, with six color aquatint etchings and a poem by Andre Serini. Later porfolios include “Les Crises” and “Eyedeas.”

Eggs, eyes, roses, and flying torsos were recurring themes. Some critics considered him a surrealist. Laventhol, however, preferred to think of his work as dealing with fantasy realism.

* * *

Hank Laventhol, a gregarious,  kind man with a fine, broad mind  enjoyed life to the fullest. Besides being a disciplined, hard worker he had a wide array of interests and hobbies. His art was his passion, but he rarely started a day without an early game of tennis. He was an eclectic music lover and an opera and chamber music buff.  It was hilarious to hear him sing along with all the voices while listening to an opera as he worked. He was well versed in American folk music and loved playing  his classical  guitar  –  not well,  he admitted. During the 1960s he sought out small locales all over Europe to tape indigenous music – Flamenco in Spain, Fado in Portugal, Stornelli in Italy and jazz in Northern Europe – using a huge reel to reel recorder.  Mexican and South American indigenous music  was another interest added to his music  collection .

He spoke fluent Spanish and Italian and said he knew enough French,  Dutch and German  to defend himself. Whatever the topic, he communicated. His sense of humor got him past being embarrassed. An adventurous traveler with an infallible sense of direction, Laventhol met his Dutch born wife over a chessboard in Mallorca, Spain, and was kind enough to let her win a few times during the ensuing 40 years. An imaginative chef, he made up his own multi cultural recipes. Stuffed trout was served with the head on. Asian wok-cooked food was a treat. Dill, unavailable in Mallorca, was imported from the U.S. to pickle a fresh crop of cucumbers in large clay pots placed around his Mallorca rental house.  When  they started fizzing,  it was time to serve them to his  “expat” friends, together with his amazingly good  baked beans. He used a wood chip smoker to prepare  fish and fowl and made his own gravlax and seviche. He said eating Dutch New Herring in the Netherlands was a life altering experience.

Frugal artistic life never held his ingenious imagination back. Any potential problem or road block was dealt with and solutions found. The Mallorcan car mechanic built an hibachi that was carried from his tiny fishing boat, which he called,  a “one lunger”, to friends’ houses. The same mechanic fabricated a roof rack for a convertible VW beetle  to carry paintings to art shows. Laventhol’s talents  converted what he saw as poetry into striking atmospheric work with a touch of the mystical.

* * *

1991                                                                       1992 – self portrait
hand /eye wind mill


Posted on on July 25th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (










ADB Transport Forum, 15-17 September, Manila, Philippines

On Track to Clean and Green Transport: High Level Event on Transport and Climate Change, 22 September 2014, New York, USA

UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit , 23 September 2014, New York, USA

The 1st Ministerial and Policy Conference on Sustainable Transport in Africa, 28 -30 October 2014, Nairobi, Kenya

BAQ 2014 & EST Asia Forum, 19-21 November, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Transport Day 2014, 7 December 2014, Lima, Peru


Great Progress in the establishment of the SLoCaT Foundation

We expect that the SLoCaT Foundation, with the objective to provide support to the SLoCaT Partnership, will be formally established in the coming weeks. Over the last months the SLoCaT Secretariat, overseen by a special Ad-Hoc Committee, developed the governance structure, consisting of a Constitution and a set of By-Laws.  The members of the SLoCaT Partnership were asked on two opportunities to comment on the proposed governance structure.

The Board of the SLoCaT Foundation is being established in two phases, with the election of four Board members representing members of the SLoCaT Partnership taking place this week and the remaining three Board members representing the Supporters of the SLoCaT Foundation to be elected in Autumn 2014.

The SLoCaT Foundation will be registered in the Netherlands, while the Secretariat will remain to be located in Shanghai, China.  Over the next weeks we will be updating the SLoCaT website to provide more detailed information on the new organizational structure of SLoCaT.

We expect that the SLoCaT Foundation will be formally launched in late September at the sidelines of the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit on Climate Change.

Growing Support for the SLoCaT Partnership


Posted on on July 23rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (



ICC Press Release: 23/07/2014


17 July commemorations and social media campaign garner wide support

States representatives, civil society organisations, legal professionals and scholars, children, youth and elders all over the world sent the strong message that justice matters to us all. Commemorating 17 July, the Day of International Criminal Justice, many took action to support justice, promote victims’ rights, and prevent grave crimes that threaten the peace and security of the world. 17 July marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute on 17 July 1998, the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which seeks to protect people from genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. 

Numerous events were held around this date in The Hague (The Netherlands) where the seat of the Court is located, as well as at the United Nations headquarters in New York (USA) and in countries where ICC investigations are being conducted, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, and Uganda.


The Justice Matters social media campaign, launched jointly by the ICC and the President of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) around 17 July, also garnered large support worldwide.


Worldwide call for photos on Facebook

Hundreds of participants held up #JusticeMatters signs and submitted their photographs on the temporary #17July Facebook page, which featured infographics, GIFs, and posters illustrating the crimes under the Court’s jurisdiction. The campaign’s resulting mosaic of over 500 photograph submissions from more 70 countries, with more photos being received each day, represents all regions of the world and is a symbol of the global support for all those who stand for justice.

Call for tweets using the #17July and #JusticeMatters hashtags

Countless ambassadors, legal professionals, students, leaders, NGOs, and many others from across the globe, sent messages of support on Twitter, voiced concerns about the need for justice, or reconfirmed their solidarity with survivors of mass atrocities, with the aim of generating discussion and awareness of issues surrounding international criminal justice.

A story and photographs, and a collection of tweets, official statements, additional events, infographics, a 17 July quiz and posters are featured here, showing a large commitment to the fight against impunity and a more just world.

For further information, please contact Fadi El Abdallah, Spokesperson and Head of Public Affairs Unit, International Criminal Court, by telephone at: +31 (0)70 515-9152 or +31 (0)6 46448938 or by e-mail at:

You can also follow the Court’s activities on YouTube and Twitter


Posted on on June 10th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


The title of the Second Correction of Second Correction – of June 1, 2014 –  to this article was:  “The Party of European Socialists …” for the backing of President for the New European Commission – as we find out serially that this will not be Brussels reality. Now it is crystal clear that the UK, with one foot in the US and one foot in the EU, will just not allow the creation of a strong EU that can become World Power at equal level with the US and China. The UK Prime Minister David Cameron takes cue from the anti-EU UKIP party that won the elections for the European Parliament in the UK, and organizes the resistance to those that represent the two major parties in the European Parliament by insisting that the new Commission has to be dominated by the Member States rather then by their people/citizens. This is nothing less then a hold on to the power that the Parliament was voted to wrestle out from them.

With this reality in lead we lose all hope that the EU can become anything more then the window dressing to a bunch of 28 rather small States united in form but not in fact. This will not lead to the stability that more enlightened Europeans were envisioning.

Our hope now is that the Scots do indeed vote for independence and become their own EU members reducing England to its correct position as an ally of the US and a candidate to join the the United States of America instead. That is what they want and that is what they deserve. The European continent will then be allowed to unite in its own interest and perhaps Russia would then be able to consider its own interest in realigning with it in a Eurasian Economic Union from Lisbon to Vladivostok that can hold the line versus China on its Eastern borders.


Merkel and Cameron in battle over European Commission.

(L-R) Dutch PM Mark Rutte, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British PM David Cameron and Swedish PM Fredrik Reinfeldt an informal meeting on 9 June 2014 in in Harpsund, Sweden. Swedish PM Fredrik Reinfeldt (far right) is hosting the wide-ranging talks at his summer residence in Harpsund

The leaders of Sweden, Germany, Britain and the Netherlands are meeting at a mini-EU summit near Stockholm to try to reach a consensus on European reform.

The controversial question of who is to head the European Commission is likely to be discussed, but not officially.

UK PM David Cameron is expected to try to get leaders on-side to block Jean-Claude Juncker taking the job.

It sets him against German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who publicly supports the ex-Luxembourg leader’s appointment.

Few details from the summit have emerged. However, job creation, institutional changes in the EU and structural reforms to boost EU competitiveness were said to be high on the agenda.

The UK, Sweden and the Netherlands are leading a campaign to block Mr Juncker’s candidacy, which has the support of the largest centre-right political grouping in the European Parliament, the European People’s Party (EPP).

David Cameron, Angela Merkel, Fredrik Reinfeldt and Mark Rutte talk in a boat near the summer residence of the Swedish Prime Minister The four leaders took to the river for a spot of relaxation before the talks began in earnest

Ahead of the two-day talks that began on Monday, Mr Cameron said he had the support of “all major UK parties” in opposing the appointment.

He also spoke to the prime ministers of Italy and Hungary, Matteo Renzi and Viktor Orban, by phone to discuss the matter, Reuters reports.

The BBC’s Ben Wright, in Harpsund, said the scene was set for a lengthy power struggle between EU leaders and the European Parliament over the appointment with the UK worried about the prospect of a “stitch-up”.

A news conference on the outcome of the talks is scheduled for 08:00 GMT on Tuesday.

Role of commissionMr Cameron is strongly opposed to Mr Juncker’s belief in a closer political union between EU member states and has described Brussels as “too big” and “too bossy”.

His hand was strengthened on Monday when the UK opposition Labour party said its MEPs in the European Parliament, which must approve the choice by EU leaders, would vote against Mr Juncker.

On arrival in Sweden, Mr Cameron said it should be EU leaders and not the European Parliament who decide who will head the commission.

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt also dismissed the idea of a stronger role for the European Parliament.

“We in principle dislike the idea of presenting front-runners from the different parties because we think that twists the balance between the institutions and the way that the Lisbon treaty is set up,” he said.

More discussions were needed on the role of the EU commission before looking at names, he added.

Angela Merkel and Jean-Claude Juncker The German chancellor has given Jean-Claude Juncker her backing 

Juncker: For and againstAngela Merkel: German chancellor, after some hesitation, backed European People’s Party candidate. Some in Germany believe she may be willing to discuss alternatives

David Cameron: Opposed to former Luxembourg PM’s candidacy – said to see him as a “face from the 1980s” who cannot solve the problems of next five years

Fredrik Reinfeldt: Seen as opposed to Mr Juncker and reports in European media suggest Swedish prime minister himself could be compromise candidate

Mark Rutte: Opposed to Mr Juncker, and Dutch PM due to meet Irish prime minister after Swedish summit to discuss alternative candidates


Dutch PM Mark Rutte told reporters that it was premature to put forward names for who should replace Jose Manuel Barroso as head of the commission.

“My belief is that we should first focus on content, discuss what the new commission should do… then discuss who fits that profile,” he said.

Mrs Merkel said the four leaders would not make a final decision on who they would back, adding that her position was well known.

EU leaders have traditionally named the commission head on their own, but new rules mean they now have to “take into account” the results of the European Parliament elections.

The EPP grouping, of which Mr Juncker is a member, won the largest number of seats in May’s polls, and he has argued that that gives him a mandate.

The decision will be made by the European Council – the official body comprising the 28 leaders – by qualified majority vote. That means no single country can veto the choice.

The decision is expected at an EU summit on 26-27 June although an agreement by then is by no means guaranteed.

More on This Story

Related Stories

From other news sites



The first Correction title was: “Correction to “The Party of European Socialists that backs Martin Schultz for the European Commission presidency seems to have an advantage in the building of a ruling coalition for the EU” – but we found out that this will not be Brussels reality.”  But after 3 days even that title was overtaken by real Brussels life as directed from the 28 Member States’ Capitals – and even some non-member States as well —- Perhaps.

Turns out that while the great gains of the parties of the Right introduced to the EU strong elements that came to undo the EU – these parties will have a hard time creating a new faction in the EU Parliament. In effect there might be two such factions – one based on a UK-Hungary alliance and the other on an Austria-France alliance. Nevertheless, the Black and Red factions are afraid of this invasion of their previously calm and inactive EU. Rather then gearing up for strong leadership – seemingly they are opting for a united front like it is the Austrian Government norm. It loooks that the Austrian Chancellor Mr. Faymann (a Red) initiated this effort by saying he backs Mr. Jean-Claude Junker (a black)  for the position of the New President of the New European Commission, because he got the largest number of votes.

Perhaps this was done in agreement with other heads of State or Government, we will never know, but what we know is that Mr. Junker then turned around and suggested Mr. Martin Schulz, the candidate of the reds, the holder of the second largest number of votes and mandates, should be his only Vice President. In this case the Denmark Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt could replace Mr. Van Rompuy as permanent head of the European Council which according to protocol is the highest EU position {sort of a Senate to the Parliament’s similarity to a House of Representatives}.

Denmark is outside the EURO group and could thus be a bow to the non-Euro States. Similarly the Poland’s Foreign Minister, Mr. Radoslaw Sikorski is being mentioned as a professional, for replacing Lady Catherine Ashton at the EU Foreign Policy desk. Let us see if this short list will be the final one in what has become negotiations run from the Capitals rather then the one we thought will be handled directly by the heads of fracctions based in Brussels.

The Alliance of Socialists and Democrats won only 193 seats in the Parliament and is second largest faction to the 211  member European People’s Party, but when analyzing the rest of the colors’ pallet they seem to have an advantage when judging the potential for coalition building in the 752 member Parliament. A majority means having 376 votes. 

The news of these elections is the emergence of Euro-skeptic parties and Right extremists that are outside the reach of the two rather centrist contenders for heading the new Parliament who will eventually head also the Commission – being something akin to a first EU President. Extreme right and EU skeptists just do not fit in – and that was the target of those that stood up to their home governments anyway.

The two largest blocs that are positioned between the EPP and the S&D – the ALDE liberals and the Greens, amount together to 132 mandates, and they are much closer to Martin Schulz of the S&D who wants to introduce change with a more socially oriented set of policies, then to Jean-Claude Juncker of the EPP who would mean more of the same and a continuation of the policies that allowed the EU to fall into an economic crisis that was set up in the US.

If indeed the two parties mentioned join Martin Schulz, and yesterday I learned from Mr. Gerhard Schick of the German Greens that this is in the cards, then Schulz presents himself as the head of a 325 bloc, which makes it easier for him then for Junker, to reach out to the magic 376 number, or at least be indeed the leader of the largest bloc if it has to be a minority rule.  

Juncker stakes claim to EU commission’s top job  – might thus be premature.

We wonder if all new Members of the European Parliament already packed their suitcases and are off to Brussels to do there the negotiations that eventually will lead to the real results.

EU wakes up to Eurosceptic hangover.
26 May 2014
The EU’s mainstream political parties will move quickly to re-establish themselves as the voice of the European parliament, following EU elections that saw a significant increase in support for Eurosceptic, extreme right and anti-establishment parties.

PES say Eurosceptic election swing sounds ‘warning bell.’

Written by Martin Banks on 26 May 2014 in News – The Parliament Magazine.

Party of European Socialists president Sergei Stanishev has conceded that the rise of far right and Eurosceptic parties in the elections sounds a “warning bell” for the political elite.


Martin Schulz and Sergei Stanishev at a Party of European Socialists event in the European parliament

Speaking at a news conference in parliament on Monday, the former Bulgarian prime minister said the big gains for such parties was “not so much about European politics but more about national policies and a protest vote”.

He went on, “The fact that parties like Front National and UKIP, which won more votes in the UK than another other party, can gain such support do so well is very serious and cause for concern. It should sound a warning bell to other parties and send a message that European people want change.”

“The EPP is the party which has run Europe for the last 10 years during the economic crisis and they were the big losers even though they remain the biggest group in parliament” Sergei Stanishev

Stanishev said the “big losers” in the election were the EPP, which he said had lost 60 seats and seen its share of the vote fall by some 20 per cent compared with the 2009 elections.

“The EPP is the party which has run Europe for the last 10 years during the economic crisis and they were the big losers even though they remain the biggest group in parliament.”

He said the Socialist vote share had remained stable compared with five years ago but voiced veiled disappointment that it had not done better. Even so, he said he was confident the party remained well placed to achieve its objectives in the next legislature, including further regulation of financial markets.

He also praised his colleague, German MEP Martin Schulz, a candidate for the commission presidency and parliament’s president, for an “outstanding” electoral campaign, saying he had “reached” 150 million citizens via social media. “His profile is now even bigger than it was before the election.”

Stanishev. who has led the Bulgarian Socialist party since 2001, also insisted that member states must “take account” of the outcome of the vote in deciding the next commission head, adding that, on this, he believes PES are in a “stronger position” than the EPP.

Addressing the same conference, PES general secretary Achim Post said, “It is now up to the political group leaders to form a ‘stable’ majority and the Socialists will play a decisive role in this.”



Above is good for a Europe if it wants to be seen as a post-Nationalism Union that gives preference to ideas over National identity.  But then, Mr. Junker does not get yet free sailing as members of his own European Party – from the UK, Hungary, and Sweden seem to prefer alternatives from inside the EPP  – names from Finland and Italy being mentioned.

The political juggling seems even more interesting when the other positions to be filled are taken into account.

As possible  compensation for Mr. Schulz getting himself out of contention – he might then get to be the German Commissioner – although one would have expected someone closer to the German Chancellor. Austria seems to follow the German example with the Red Party Chancellor from the Red Party declaring his backing for the candidate of the Black Party as he got more votes. This opens the question whom will he support for Commissioner from Austria?

With a Catholic holiday on Thursday there is no chance now that the Parliament will have a prospective winner before the end of this week,  another week of politics is still in the cards, and in effect it might take all of the month of June.

Also, if Mr. Junker does not get full backing from his own party and does not reach a majority – then according to Parliament norm the ball is passed to the second largest faction and that is Mr. Schulz – so it might be that the wheel might still turn in his direction. Seemingly Mr. David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, has the ropes in his hands – but in mind he has the success  the anti-EU UKIP party had at these elections. Similarly France is looking at the success the Le Pen Front National had on Sunday. Does this mean that these two EU members are now favoring a weakened EU because this seemed to be the wish of their countrymen?

The French Christian Democrat Joseph Daul is leading the Black Faction negotiators and Austrian Commissioner Hannes Swoboda is leading the Red Party negotiators with outgoing Head of the Parliament, the Belgian Hermann Van-Rompuy the address of their efforts. Who will get his job? Could it be that this position will go to the Commissioer from Poland – Ms. Danuta Hebner?




About the author:   Martin Banks is a veteran freelance, Brussels-based journalist specialising in European politics.


Posted on on February 11th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


Dear Valued Clients, Colleagues and Friends,

We have some exciting news to share with you!  Mike Wallace, former director of the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI’s) North American operations, has joined our Firm as Managing Director, effective immediately.  In his new role, Mike will focus on expanding BrownFlynn‘s market presence and brand in North America, developing strategic partnerships, providing innovative sustainability solutions to clients, and helping shape the strategic direction of our Firm.


Mike is an internationally recognized expert in the sustainability field, with 20 years of experience advising corporations, non-profits and government agencies on the development, implementation and continuous improvement of sustainability strategies.  For the past four years, he led the successful re-entry and funding of GRI into the North American market after spending one year at GRI’s headquarters in Amsterdam.  BrownFlynn has known and collaborated with Mike during his tenure at GRI through our Firm’s role as GRI’s first U.S.-certified training organization and an organizational stakeholder. 


Though BrownFlynn is headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, Mike will be based in Los Angeles, California, which further expands our geographic reach and opens up new market opportunities. Our future is bright and we are excited to add Mike to our team.  To read the full press release, please click here.


Please join us in welcoming Mike to BrownFlynn.




Barb Brown                                         Margie Flynn

Principal & Co-Founder                    Principal & Co-Founder



Posted on on August 21st, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

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… Europe, Health, Rights & Justice, Drug Policy Reform


Posted on on May 22nd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

  May 22, 2013
May 22, 2013

The Society for International Development (SID), founded in Washington, D.C., United States, in 1957, is committed to stimulating dialogue and cooperation on global development issues, enhancing skills, knowledge and understanding among development practitioners, and providing a network for individuals and organizations working in various sectors of international development. Over the years, SID has consistently been at the forefront of shaping the theory and practice of development, challenging existing practices and suggesting alternative approaches.

Today, SID’s programme of work reflects the growing questioning of development as a point of reference for meaningful North-South dialogues. Accordingly, the Society’s focus has shifted from debates on how to advance development, to ways of opening up spaces for a reflection on how to ensure an agenda for social justice can be carried forward in a climate that is increasingly conservative and inward looking.

SID has a strong and vibrant network of individual and institutional members, local chapters and partner organisations, in more than 80 countries. It works with more than 100 associations, networks and institutions involving academia, parliamentarians, students, political leaders and development experts, both at local and international level.



From The Vienna Chapter – Please find attached an invitation to a lecture on 5 June 2013
by Kurt Bayer at the offices of OEGVN (The Austrian Society for International Relations),


“The Role of the International Financial Institutions ( IFIs ) –

What works and what does not.”

Lecture Kurt Bayer.docx Lecture Kurt Bayer.docx
53K   View   Download  
Vienna Chapter
Society for International Development,
SID ISRAEL: SID Israel has completed the recruitment of a wonderful team who will lead the chapter to new and great accomplishments. Meet our staff!

China’s Economic Cooperation and its Role for Economic Transition in Africa. The Frankfurt Chapter of the Society for International Development is organizing a public lecture series at the Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, 2013 summer semester.


SID NL’s core activity is its annual lecture series on a theme both relevant and current for the area of international and development cooperation. These lecture cycles are organised in cooperation with VU University Amsterdam and NCDO.
Follow SID Netherlands: Twitter | Facebook | Linkedin | YouTube

SID WASHINGTON: June 6, 2013 | You are invited to the SID-Washington 2013 Annual Conference: Development Goals: How We Got Here and What Comes Next.

If you have any questions, feel free to call (202) 331-1317, or email

SID HAMBURG: The Hamburg Chapter of SID has a new Board. The General Assembly decided to launch a lecture series on development policies at the University of Hamburg – summer semester. This initiative will also include a training program. If you want to become a member of SID Hamburg please visit
Follow SID Hamburg: Twitter | Facebook | Linkedin


Stay Tuned! Follow SID Forum via:

Twitter @SID_INT and @SIDEastAfrica

Facebook and LinkedIn @Society for International Development

Enjoy the latest episodes of the podcast series:

Interview with Manzi Rwegasira. In Episode 25 we discuss how technology and innovation can improve the education system in Tanzania and beyond.

Interview with Omari Issa. A conversation about the role of the private sector in sparking economic and social transformation.

Click here to view the full list of episodes.

  Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter


Posted on on May 13th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

A Festival of singing people – 440 of them – from 18 choirs – in 16 European Cities – May 9-12, 2013 – held with workshops at the reestablished historic Odeon Theater in Leopoldstadt – the previously mainly Jewish Second District of Vienna.

The Festival culminated in a public concert on Sunday May 12, 2013 at the Austria Center back-to-back with the offices of the Vienna UN compound. The Honorary Chairman of the event was Austria’s President – the Honorable Heinz Fischer.

This after the 2011 revival of the European States Makkabi sports-competitions that brought at the time 60,000 out-of-town visitors to Vienna.

The present event was dedicated to the revival of Jewish culture in European Communities – and at times the choirs including non-Jews as well.

The timing seems symbolical – it started May 9th – the Victory Day over Nazism and ended on Mothers’ Day – if you wish in memory of those Jewish self sacrificing mothers that helped continue Judaism in Europe that proving that Hitler was defeated.

At the workshops the choirs were taught new songs that were then performed jointly by all participants at the grand-finale of the Sunday event. These included Adon Olam with the Chief cantor of Vienna’s Jewish Community Shmuel Barzilay, Ose Shalom, and the israeli National anthem – The Hatikah (Hope).

The professional leader of the event was Choirmaster Roman Grinberg of the Vienna Jewish Choir whose President is a Young man Florian Pollack who was the organizer of the Sunday concert. Though performing also liturgical music, this choir is cultural in content – including both men and women, something that might have been difficult to do if it were directly part of the Orthodox stream of the majority of Vienna Synagogues – though quite normal with the Or Chadash Reform Vienna Synagogue. Nevertheless the Orthodox Chief Rabbi of Austria, Rabbi Chaim Eisenberg, who himself has in the past performed with the Vienna Jewish Choir outside the Synagogue, wrote an introductory note to the Sunday program booklet.

The MC on Sunday was Ms. Danielle Spera who is a well known Austrian TV personality, and in 2010 became the Director of the Vienna Jewish Museum. She was the top choice of Vice Mayor Renate Brauner, who is in charge of the Vienna Holding Company that owns the buildings of the two Vienna Jewish Museums that were up for renovation in the 2010-2011 years.

The meeting of the choirs cost 200.000 Euro and the money came from institutional contributions. The main backer was the Bruxells based European Jewish Union that was described by the MC as The Jewish European Parliament.

At the workshops, the nine choirs that belong to the Renanim organization – choirs from Amsterdam, Bruxelles, Dijon, Marseille, Nantes, Nice, Paris, Toulouse, and Utrecht chose to appear in a large united choir – thus reducing the number of choirs on Sunday from 18 to 10 facilitating a more manageable situation.

The Sunday event started with one choir on stage and all the others in various locations in the hall – singing together Uru Ahim- Hava Neranna. . .  with an added 1400 people in the large and full hall of the Austria Center (In the audience I spotted also several women with Muslim head-covers). Then, after the introductory, thankfully rather short  speeches, the line-up was thus as follows:

1. The Vienna Jewish Choir led by Roman Grinberg that was created 20 years ago by Dr. Timothy Smolka with 8 people and counts now on 50 active singers having performed at many events all over Europe. Their contribution was mainly in Jidish – old folk-songs.

2. The Assoziazione Coro-Kol of Rome led by Choirmaster Andrea Orlando that started with Verdi’s Va Pensiero and moved to Hebrew Shabbat and wedding songs. This choir was established in 1993 by the Great Synagogue of Rome and has usually a repertory that includes Ladino as well as Yiddish songs.

3. The Masel Tov Choir of Wuppertal, Germany with Rokella Rachel Verenina, formerly of Odessa, the Ukraine, as choirmaster.It is a choir established 15 years ago by Russian immigrants that finally wanted to express themselves freely. It has now 35 active members – Jews and non-Jews and is one of the best in Germany. They sang Yiddish and German. In the choir I spotted also one black man and many of the singers looked like hardened industrial workers – what they probably are indeed.

4. The Boys Choir of The Vienna City Tempel – the Main Synagogue of Austria Shmuel Barzilai, the Chief Cantor in charge. It had 7 boys under the age 13. This Choir is modeled after the famous Vienna Boys Choir. Their songs were all in Hebrew and from the liturgy and were received with warm applause.

5. The Shalom Chor of Berlin led by Nikola David who is an operatic singer who after graduating from cantorial school has now a position with the Erfurt Synagogue. The 37 active members are from the community and from churches around Berlin. They sang in Hebrew and interestingly wore shawls of single colors – red, green, orange, blue, light green – which left me with the impression that they covered the political spectrum of Germany. I wonder if this was indeed the intent of these colors.

6. The Ensemble Vocal Zamir of Paris with Albert Benzaquen as choirmaster ranging in music from Shlomo Carlebach and Naomi Shemer to Chasidic and Ladino. It was created in 1980 from basically members of families from the Sephardic community. They have had many appearances in France and do not miss the choir festival in Israel – the Zimrya in Jerusalem. Working people – they clearly enjoy what they are doing and we were told meet twice a week.

7. The Jewish Choir “Eva” of Saint Petersburg with Elena Rubinovich as choirmaster. An all girls choir. The teen-age girls dressed in white blouses and blue long skirts. They had a large Magen David attached to their blouses above the heart. They started with Jerusalem of Gold in Hebrew, had a Russian song and moved to Yidddish – “Bei Mir Bistu Shein” the Jewish American song. Interesting – this was different then in the written program and clearly they have a large repertory and were excellent – real singing talent – lurks here. We were told that the girls are children and youth organized by the Welfare and Community Centre. Terrific applause.

8. The Varnishkes of Lviv, The Ukraine with Oleksandra Somysh as Band leader of what was indeed a Klezmer-music group.  Another example of terrific applause. The team was born 6 years ago and as they state it – they adore the magic of Yiddishkeit. They include volunteers and foreign students and are lovely. They reminded me of a similar non-Jewish group I saw in Cracow years ago and Elie Wiesel was in the audience then.
The Lviv group – the singing was all in Yiddish – and we understand that young German audiences love to listen to them.

9. Hor Bracha Baruh a Choir named after the Baruch Brothers of Belgrade. This choir is not by definition Jewish – but it was named after three brothers that were killed fighting in the resistance in WWII, and the choir comes to honor their Jewish culture. The choir was founded in 1879 as the Serbian Jewish Singing Society – perhaps the oldest Jewish choir in the world – then re-established under the present name when Yugoslavia split and the Serbs clearly were looking for Israeli recognition mentioning that it was Serbs that were most friendly in those terrible war-years.Their repertory is eclectic – included Serbian, Ladino and Hebrew and sounded well rehearsed. It is a nostalgic but hope-filled experience. The Choirmaster Stefan Zekic – a clear professional.

10. The Renanim combine with Avner Soudry as choirmaster and Therese Beuret-Sadoul as Administrator that gave us a Paul Ben Haim Hebrew composition, a Suite Judeo-Espagnole and a very appropriate Shir LaShalom, then Mipi El. They remained on stage and were joined by everyone else for the Grand Finale.

There were obviously no encores – but everyone, afyer milling around for a while, happily called it a night.



Posted on on April 22nd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (



In Europe, Paid Permits for Pollution Are Fizzling.


Andrew Testa for The International Herald Tribune

The trading floor at CF Partners in West London. The market for carbon permits is more volatile than its founders envisioned.



LONDON — On a showery afternoon last week in West London, a ripple of enthusiasm went through the trading floor of CF Partners, a privately owned financial company. The price of carbon allowances, shown in green lights on a board hanging from the ceiling, was creeping up toward three euros. That is pretty small change — $3.90, or only about 10 percent of what the price was in 2008. But to the traders it came as a relief after the market had gone into free fall to record lows two days earlier, after the European Parliament spurned an effort to shore up prices by shrinking the number of allowances.






“The market still stands,” said Thomas Rassmuson, a native of Sweden who founded the company with Jonathan Navon, a Briton, in 2006.

Still, Europe’s carbon market, a pioneering effort to use markets to regulate greenhouse gases, is having a hard time staying upright.

This year has been stomach-churning for the people who make their living in the arcane world of trading emissions permits. The most recent volatility comes on top of years of uncertainty during which prices have fluctuated from $40 to nearly zero for the right to emit one ton of carbon dioxide.

More important, though, than lost jobs and diminished payouts for traders and bankers, the penny ante price of carbon credits means the market is not doing its job: pushing polluters to reduce carbon emissions, which most climate scientists believe contribute to global warming.

The market for these credits, officially called European Union Allowances, or E.U.A.’s, has been both unstable and under sharp downward pressure this year because of a huge oversupply and a stream of bad political and economic news. On April 16, for instance, after the European Parliament voted down the proposed reduction in the number of credits, prices dropped about 50 percent, to 2.63 euros from nearly 5, in 10 minutes.

“No one was going to buy” on the way down, said Fred Payne, a trader with CF Partners.

Europe’s troubled experience with carbon trading has also discouraged efforts to establish large-scale carbon trading systems in other countries, including the United States, although California and a group of Northeastern states have set up smaller regional markets.

Traders do not mind big price swings in any market — in fact, they can make a lot of money if they play them right.

But over time, the declining prices for the credits have sapped the European market of value, legitimacy and liquidity — the ease with which the allowances can be traded — making it less attractive for financial professionals.

A few years ago, analysts thought world carbon markets were heading for the $2 trillion mark by the end of this decade.

Today, the reality looks much more modest. Total trading last year was 62 billion euros, down from 96 billion in 2011, according to Thomson Reuters Point Carbon, a market research firm based in Oslo. Close to 90 percent of that activity was in Europe, while North American trading represented less than 1 percent of worldwide market value.

Financial institutions that had rushed to increase staff have shrunk their carbon desks. Companies have also laid off other professionals who helped set up greenhouse gas reduction projects in developing countries like China and India.

When the emissions trading system was started in 2005, the goal was to create a global model for raising the costs of emitting greenhouse gases and for prodding industrial polluters to switch from burning fossil fuels to using clean-energy alternatives like wind and solar.

When carbon prices hit their highs of more than 30 euros in 2008 and companies spent billions to invest in renewables, policy makers hailed the market as a success. But then prices began to fall. And at current levels, they are far too low to change companies’ behaviors, analysts say. Emitting a ton of carbon dioxide costs about the same as a hamburger.

“At the moment, the carbon price does not give any signal for investment,” said Hans Bünting, chief executive of RWE, one of the largest utilities in Germany and Europe.

This cap-and-trade system in Europe places a ceiling on emissions. At the end of each year, companies like electric utilities or steel manufacturers must hand over to the national authorities the permits equivalent to the amount gases emitted.

Until the end of 2012, these credits were given to companies free according to their estimated output of greenhouse gases. Policy makers wanted to jump-start the trading market and avoid higher costs for consumers.




Beginning this year, energy companies must buy an increasing proportion of their credits in national auctions. Industrial companies like steel plants will follow later this decade.

Companies and other financial players like banks and hedge funds can also acquire and trade the allowances on exchanges like the Intercontinental Exchange, based in Atlanta. Over time the number of credits is meant to fall gradually, theoretically raising prices and cutting pollution.

The reality has been far different because of serious flaws in the design of the system. To win over companies and skeptical countries like Poland, which burn a lot of coal, far too many credits have been handed out.

At the same time, Europe’s debilitating economic slowdown has sharply curtailed industrial activity and reduced the Continent’s overall carbon emissions.

Steel making in Europe, for instance, has fallen about 30 percent since 2007, while new car registrations were at their lowest level last year since 1995.

Big investments in renewable energy sources like wind and solar also reduced carbon emissions, which have fallen about 10 percent in Europe since 2007.

As a result, there is a vast surplus of permits — about 800 million tons’ worth, according to Point Carbon. That has caused prices to plunge.

The cost of carbon is far too low to force electric utilities in Europe to switch from burning coal, a major polluter, to much cleaner natural gas. Just the opposite: Britain increased coal burning for electricity more than 30 percent last year, while cutting back gas use a similar amount, and other West European nations increased their coal use as well.

“The European energy scene is not a good one,” said Andrew Brown, head of exploration and production at Royal Dutch Shell. “They haven’t got the right balance in terms of promoting gas.”

Fearing that prices might go to zero because of the huge oversupply, the European authorities proposed a short-term solution known as backloading, which would have delayed the scheduled auctioning of a large portion of the credits that were supposed to be sold over the next three years. But the European Parliament in Strasbourg voted the measure down on April 16.

Lawmakers were worried about tampering with the market as well as doing anything that might increase energy costs in the struggling economy.

“It was the worst possible moment to try to implement something like that,” said Francesco Starace, chief executive of Enel Green Power, one of the largest European green-energy companies, which is based in Rome.

The European authorities, led by Connie Hedegaard, the European commissioner for climate change, have not given up on fixing the system. But analysts like Stig Scholset, at Point Carbon, say that there is not much the authorities can do in the short term and that prices may slump for months, if not years.

That means more tough times for financial institutions. Particularly troubled is the business of investing in greenhouse gas abatement projects like wind farms or hydroelectric dams in developing countries like China. JPMorgan Chase paid more than $200 million for one of the largest investors in these projects, EcoSecurities, in 2009.

Financiers say these projects used to be gold mines, generating credits that industrial companies could use to offset their emissions elsewhere. But so many credits have been produced by these projects — on top of the existing oversupply of credits in Europe — that they are trading at about a third of a euro.

Market participants say they see many rivals pulling back from world carbon markets. Deutsche Bank, the largest bank in Germany, has cut back its carbon trading. Smaller outfits like Mabanaft, based in Rotterdam, have also left the business.

Anthony Hobley, a lawyer in London and president of the Climate Market and Investors Association, an industry group, estimates that among the traders, analysts and bankers who flocked to the carbon markets in the early days, half may now be gone.

But carbon trading is unlikely to fade completely.

For one thing, European utilities and other companies now must buy the credits to comply with the rules. And they can buy credits to save for later use, when their emissions increase and the price of credits rises.

Despite Europe’s sputters, carbon trading is beginning to gain traction in places like China, Australia and New Zealand.

In London, Mr. Rassmuson concedes that the business has turned out to be more up-and-down than he anticipated when he and his partner set up their firm in a tiny two-man office in 2006.

But he said his firm was benefiting from others’ dropping out. He is also branching out into trading electric power and natural gas.

Like many in the carbon markets, he says what he is doing is not just about money.

“Trying to make the world more sustainable is important to us,” he said. “It is a good business opportunity that makes us proud.”







Posted on on April 12th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


from material posted  on the Inner City Press website that reports from the UN Headquarters in New York City:


Taken in part from the Inner City PressUNITED NATIONS, April 12 report — “The reopening of UN Headquarters after its $2 billion renovation.


  In the past, the Delegates Lounge had a big wooden bar, and a second floor loft serving coffee. Now, the loft is gone, and so is the wooden bar, replaced by one of black stone.The lobbyists for different causes used to sit in the upper level coffee shop and watch who comes in at the lower level, then do their business later at the bar. Also, Journalists would come after hours and meet delegates at the bar and get answers to traditionally unanswered questions while having a drink.

Delegates were sitting or snoozing all day – in  the hall itself – supported by warm color furniture. Now it seems that these activities of old will be interfered with by a much more rigorous structure, that to our amazement is colored a bright green.

Inner City Press – photo here and Photo here – show green colored tables and a kindergarten-style set-up.

The computers in the Lounge are now covered with plastic half-spheres, like in a women’s beauty parlor.

  Inner City Press on Friday asked Capital Master Plan chief Michael Adlerstein where the wooden bar has gone. He said he’d look into it, and let it be known that the designer of the new Delegates Lounge was none other than noted Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas.

  The chairs are on wheels; there are spindly rocking chairs reminiscent for those who’ve been there to those in the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, writes Matthew Russell Lee – the Inner City Press coverage.


  Adlerstein explained the layout as based on Dutch berms around fields. An Inner City Press reader, seeing the Tweeted photo, chimed in that the “chartreuse tables actually look like my kids’ elementary schools. They still have 1960s Soviet liberation art, I guess.”


  Actually the art remains the same as before – donations from various countries Soviet-style art or not – this depends on the donor: the carpet or wall hanging of the Great Wall of China is back, returned from its sojourn in the UN’s North Lawn building.

We post this because of the green color that we are instinctively fond of – except when BP painted their oil tanks green in an attempt to tell us that they are a green company. WE ARE VERY MUCH AFRAID THAT THE UN GREEN IS INDEED OF THE SAME PHILOSOPHICAL CONCEPT LIKE THE BP OF OLD. This sort of green image does not sooth our nerves.


Posted on on April 5th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Search Results

  1. News for Did a Saudi judge order paralysis ?

    1. Saudi judge orders man surgically paralyzed to pay for childhood stabbing

      New York Daily News ?- 1 day ago
      A Saudi court has ordered that 24-year-old Ali Al-Khawahir be surgically I think about my son’s fate and that he will have to be paralyzed.”
  2. Saudi court orders man to be paralyzed as an Islamic punishment…/17601030-saudicourtorders-m...

    1 day ago – A young Saudi man faces being forcibly paralyzed as a punishment under she did not have even a fraction of this money, meaning the court

  3. Saudi Arabian court orders man to be surgically paralysed in ‘eye for

    Robert Williams
    by Robert Williams – in 25 Google+ circles – More by Robert Williams

    2 days ago – A Saudi Arabian court has ruled that a man should be paralysed as punishment for but your IP address will be logged to prevent abuse of this feature. Amnesty claims that the paralysis sentence would contravene the UN

  4. Saudi court orders criminal to be surgically paralyzed – The Globe

    2 days ago – Saudi court orders criminal to be surgically paralyzed Add to . A government-approved Saudi human rights group did not respond to requests

  5. Saudi judge orders man surgically paralyzed to pay – Mixed Martial

    1 day ago – A Saudi court has ordered that 24-year-old Ali Al-Khawahir be surgically paralyzed as A decade later and he will now be paralyzed for life.

  6. Surgical Paralysis Ordered in Saudi Arabia as Punishment for

    Steven Nelson
    by Steven Nelson – in 59 Google+ circles – More by Steven Nelson

    1 day ago – Surgical Paralysis Ordered in Saudi Arabia as Punishment for Ali Al-Khawahir, 24, is awaiting courtordered surgical paralysis in Saudi Arabia for an and said the defendants did not have legal representation during court

  7. Saudi court sentences man to paralysis…/20130404_Saudis_sentence_man_to_paral
    1 day ago – Unless he can quickly raise $270,000, a Saudi man will soon face courtordered surgical paralysis from the waist down, Amnesty International
  8. Britain ‘concerned’ after Saudi Arabia ‘orders man to be paralysed

    1 day ago – Saudi Arabian courtorders man to be paralysed’ has sentenced a man to be paralysed in retribution for causing the paralysis of a friend when he was fourteen years old. John Kerry: US will ’empower’ Syria opposition

  9. Saudi judge orders man surgically paralyzed to – Contacto Latino…/saudijudgeorders-man-surgically-para

    Saudi judge orders man surgically paralyzed to pay for childhood stabbing. By NY Daily News Latino | Published: 2013-04-04 19:47:21 UTC | Read more, click

  10. Saudi judge orders man surgically paralyzed to – One News Page

    1 day ago – Saudi judge orders man surgically paralyzed to pay for childhood his friend in the back and paralyzing him will be surgically paralyzed

Reports of Saudi Paralysis Sentence (Taken Question)

Taken Question

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
April 5, 2013

Question: What is the U.S. response to reports that a Saudi judge gave a court order for a prisoner to be surgically paralyzed?

Answer: If these reports are true, they would be incredibly disturbing. We expect the Saudi Government to respect international human rights norms. We regularly make this point as part of our bilateral dialogue.

PRN: 2013/0374


Texas Refinery Is Saudi Foothold in U.S. Market.


The Motiva refinery in Port Arthur, the largest in the United States, ensures a bigger market for Saudi crude and a stronger global voice for the kingdom.




This can now be seen in context!


Jewish Times // The Times of Israel

‘Shell to dump energy firm over its ties to Israel’

Australia’s Woodside Petroleum has a 30-percent interest in Israel’s Leviathan natural gas field

April 5, 2013, 3:28 pm 2


THE HAGUE (JTA) – Royal Dutch Shell declined to comment on reports that it will divest its stake in an Australian energy firm because of that firm’s investment in Israel’s gas fields.

According to the RTL Dutch television network, a spokesperson for Shell said on Wednesday that he had no comment on a report by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia which said Shell would likely dump its 23.1-percent stake in Australia’s Woodside Petroleum.

The report said Shell planned the move to avoid the risk of boycott by Arab countries following Woodside’s agreement to purchase a 30-percent interest in Israel’s Leviathan natural gas field. RTL reported that Shell’s stake in Woodside is worth more then $7 billion.

Last year, Shell said that involvement with Woodside was “incompatible” with Shell’s “long-term plans.”


Posted on on April 4th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

The following is a presentation of facts that cannot be ignored anymore. Deserves close reading by those in the North that thought you can bumble your way through without creating a real union capable of calling out “it is all for one and not just one for all!” The EU is not just the fulfilling of the German dream of takeover of Europe by peaceful means. Cyprus dreaming of being the Mediterranean base of Russia? What else? Austria a bridge to the East? Yes, but only after twinning up with Finland.
The article does not mention the UK even once – we interpret this as a sign it has crystallized as the island off-shore that ought to partner with the US and stop bothering the decision making process of the continent at large.
It was the UK interest that created Cyprus in the first place by not letting it split and join Greece and Turkey. Who needed two weak Greek States in the Union? Malta? another UK invention? Slovenia was good – why not also a Catalunya or Catalonia?


english banner othernews

A Line Of Demarcation Through The Eurozone Is Taking Shape

Wolf Richter*  

Everyone learned a lesson from the “bail-in” of the Cypriot banks: Russian account holders who’d laundered and stored their money on the sunny island; bank bondholders who’d thought they’d always get bailed out; Cypriot politicians whose names showed up on lists of loans that had been extended by the Bank of Cyprus and Laiki Bank but were then forgiven and written off. Even brand-new Finance Minister Michael Sarris who got axed because he’d been chairman of Laiki when this was going on. His lesson: when a cesspool of corruption blows up, no one is safe. And German politicians learned a lesson too: that it worked!

“With the Cyprus aid package, it was proven that countries like Germany, the Netherlands, and Finland, if they stick together, are able to push for a strict stability course,” Hans Michelbach told the Handelsblatt. The chairman of the finance committee in the German Parliament and member of the CSU, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition partner, called for deeper collaboration of the triple-A countries in the Eurozone “to strengthen the confidence of citizens and investors in the common currency.”

There are still five in that euro triple-A club: Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Finland, and Luxembourg. “It would be good if we could also convince Luxembourg to participate more strongly in this stability collaboration,” he said. It would be in the best interest of Luxembourg as major financial center, he added. A reference to Luxembourg’s precarious status, as Cyprus had learned, of being a tiny country with banks so large that it can’t bail them out by itself.

To protect the euro, the alliance of the triple-A countries must be united firmly against large euro countries like Italy and France, he said. “Strong signals of stability would be of great importance for the Eurozone,” particularly now, given the “unclear situation” in Italy, renewed doubts about Greece, and the failure of the French government in its stability policies.

Exactly what French President François Hollande needs: the euro triple-A club breathing down his neck. He’s already in trouble at home. To reverse the slide, he got on state-owned France 2 TV last Thursday to speak to the French people so that they could see how his sincerity, wisdom, and economic policies would stop the country from sinking ever deeper into a quagmire.

And a quagmire it is: double-digit unemployment, a Purchasing Managers Index just above Greece’s, new vehicle sales that plunged almost 15% so far this year, a budget deficit that refuses to be brought under control…. He has tweaked some policy measures here and there. And he dug up a new version of the 75% income-tax bracket that had been squashed by the Constitutional Court. But Jérôme Cahuzac, the Budget Minister who’d tried to get the first version through the system, went up in flames over allegations of tax fraud and “tax fraud laundering.”

Now the people have had it. After the TV appearance, his approval rating, ten months into his term, plummeted another 6 points to 31%, a low that scandal-plagued Nicolas Sarkozy took four years to reach. And only 27% approved of his economic policies. “The French simply don’t want austerity,” lamented an unnamed government insider.

France was suffering the consequences of the “socialist experiments” of its government and was becoming less and less competitive, explained Michelbach. He emphasized that France would remain an important partner of Germany. He wasn’t kidding: France buys 10% of Germany’s exports and is crucial to the German economy. But if France didn’t change course, he said, that could become a “serious problem” for the Eurozone.

As opposed to the mere hiccups of Cyprus or Greece. More banks and more countries will require bailouts­Slovenia, Spain, Italy, and Malta are on the list. And no one wants to see France on that list. Even Italy is too large to get bailed out by other countries­though it’s rich enough to bail itself out, à la Cyprus [ A “Politically Explosive” Secret: Italians Are Over Twice As Wealthy As Germans].

But in Germany, a revolt against these save-the-euro bailouts has been brewing for a while. With elections in September, it’s taking on volume and voices, and the structure of a political party, the Alternative for Germany, not unpalatable radicals but the educated bourgeoisie, and they want to stop the bailouts and dump the euro.

The government is feeling the heat. No one can afford to lose votes. Michelbach’s triple-A club, a line of demarcation in the Eurozone, is one of the reactions. Merkel might benefit from it in the elections. The other four countries might find if appealing, though it will be of dubious appeal in the rest of the Eurozone. But if efforts fail to fix the Eurozone’s problems­and the Eurozone lumbering that way­a tightly knit triple-A club could weather the storm together, more stable and more unified than the Eurozone ever was. And Michelbach had just floated a version of that idea.

Every country in the Eurozone has its own collection of big fat lies that politicians and Eurocrats have served up in order to make the euro and the subsequent bailouts or austerity measures less unappetizing. Here are some from the German point of view…. Ten Big Fat Lies To Keep The Euro Dream Alive


Wolf Richter wrote also – “White House Hypocrisy And Trade Sanctions Against China.” –  Practically every car sold in the US contains Chinese-made components. But suddenly, in the middle of a heated presidential campaign, the Obama administration decided to do something about it.

Wolf Richter is a  San Francisco based executive, entrepreneur, start up specialist, and author, with extensive international work experience.

In… he explains “Having worked a bit on international deals, and for companies operating in foreign markets, cross border transactions have an even lower success rate than domestic ones. The big reason is the one mentioned here, which is marked cultural incompatibility between the seller and buyer. Here the Chinese did less badly than they could have (they could have tried forcing Chinese practices on the German operation, which would have destroyed the value of the asset). But the logic of the transaction was unclear. Was it technology transfer? Consolidation? It appears both might have been goals, and neither happened very much.

But I find it intriguing that as lousy as the Japanese were at doing deals  (they found it hard to understand that the contract was the deal, and were too inclined to overpay), they were good at managing workers in manufacturing operations (service businesses were another kettle of fish, there they tended to drive Americans crazy).  This is a skill the Chinese will have to master, since they desperately need to re-invest their surpluses, and they are trying to acquire more real-economy assets.”    FASCINATING.

His insights in Wall Street machinations are also very good.




Posted on on March 29th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


THE NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE IS INVOLVED IN A GLOBAL REPORTING INITIATIVE (GRI) – Reporting on Sustainability with a G4 in their sight or front line – G4 is GRI’s fourth generation of Sustainability Reporting Guidelines and is now in development. G4 is part of GRI’s commitment to the continuous development of its Guidelines.

They say: The next generation of the GRI Guidelines – G4 – should address requirements for sustainability data, and enable reporters to provide relevant information to various stakeholder groups. It should also improve on content in the current Guidelines – G3 and G3.1 – with strengthened technical definitions and improved clarity, helping reporters, information users and assurance providers.

The Information they talk about is non-financial information and it could be thus part of very positive intent, but we are not sure if it preaches also the importance of true financial reporting that includes the so called externalities – or the passing on of the true expenses on the public at large – these ought to be part of the financial implications that make up the value of a stock and ought not be covered by bamboozle.    

At this stage we can just say that we do not know what that G4 will be like and that we have no information about the first three generations of guidelines that this posting – as received – talks about. It looks to us like some gibberish that business is throwing at the innocents.


We did our research and found:… for G3
and –… for G3.1 – a  photo showing Asian faces.
then –… for the new G4 saying –


North-American G4 Campaign: The kick-off event at the New York Stock Exchange  —
11 April NYC


G4 Campaign Sponsor

Register here for 11 April, New York

We are getting ready for our Global Conference in Amsterdam. Our 2013 Global Conference on Sustainability and Reporting (brochure) will be held on 22-24 May in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

We would like to give you the opportunity to meet with the Focal Point USA team at the New York Stock Exchange (GRI Sector Leader) on the 11th of April. In the morning of the 11th, we will explain what’s happening at the Global Conference, how you can join our Delegation and what side events will be organized in the USA and Canada. Next to this update, a Master Class will be held by our newest Certified Training Partner Deloitte who will refresh your knowledge of GRI. Here you can hear from Eric Hespenheide (Global Leader, Climate Change and Sustainability Audit and Enterprise Risk Services) and Kristen Sullivan (Partner, Sustainability Services) which items of GRI’s reporting process have remained untouched and receive an update on the G4 revisions. This event will be an interactive session where we will be joined by long-standing GRI reporter HP. Ellen Jackowski from HP will speak about their sustainability journey and Rina Levy from Bloomberg LP (GRI Sector Leader) will interview Ellen about the way in which HP discloses sustainability information. After the Master Class, there will be a networking lunch, after which our Organizational Stakeholders can join us for CR Magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens Event.

The Global Conference: a three-day, multinational event will include the latest information on sustainability and reporting, training sessions, workshops and unique networking opportunities. Most importantly, the next generation of GRI’s Sustainability Reporting Framework: the G4 Guidelines, will be launched. The event will host 1500 thought leaders and practitioners from all over the world and various constituencies: investors, regulators, businesses, civil society and mediating institutions. And..  Amsterdam in spring is the best host city for inspiring dialogues and new ideas.

Please note that Tuesday 21 May is the North American Networking Day!

As GRI’s US office were facilitating North American participation in the Global Conference by creating a special North American Delegation. You are automatically part of the Delegation when you are either a Founding Sponsor, a Sector Leader, a Certified Training Partner, an Organizational Stakeholder or a G4 Campaign Sponsor.

Special private events are being developed for Delegation members to complement the overall Conference and to provide Delegation members with tailored G4 information. In addition, we are organizing several special events and Master Classes in North America to introduce and educate our Delegation as well as the larger network on the latest G4 Guidelines. After attending the series of 3 Master Classes, participants will receive an acknowledgement. All G4 Campaign events will be announced on our blog.

You can access the Global Conference program (which is under development) here, and you can register here.

For more information about the G4 Campaign and sponsorship opportunities:

Please email us if you would like to join CR Magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens Event.


April 11, 2013

 Kick-off event GRI’s North American G4 Campaign at New York Stock Exchange – Master Class 1: GRI Refresher and G4 Update.

Date: April 11, 2013

Location: New York Stock Exchange, 11 Wallstreet, New York City, NY 10005, USA

Host: New York Stock Exchange and G4 Campaign sponsor HP



9.30 am – 10.30 am GRI Update by Mike Wallace and Marjella Alma on GRI’s Global Conference and G4 Campaign. Find out how you can join our official delegation!

10.30 am – 12.30 pm Master Class 1 – GRI Refresher and G4 Update – organized by GRI’s Certified Training Partner Deloitte featuring HP (reporter perspective) and Bloomberg (Sector Leader; data user perspective)

13.15 pm 25 of our GRI Organizational Stakeholders can join the CR Magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizen Announcements; email GRI to reserve your spot

4-5 pm CR Magazine Reception


Register here for 11 April, New York


Confirmed attendees

Bloomberg LP
BPA Worldwide
Casazza Herman LLC
Context America
CRM Communications
Curran & Connors, Inc.
Donnelly Mechanical Corp
Ernst and Young
FMC Corporation
Framework LLC
General Motors Company
Global Development Solutions, LLC
Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)
Governance & Accountability Institute, Inc.
GRI Focal Point USA
IRRC Institute
Lilium Consulting, LLC
Morgan Stanley
New York Stock Exchange
NYU-POLY     —  New York University that includes now also the former technically excellent Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn.
Owens Corning
Renewthink Inc.
Stewardship Action Council
The Linley Company
The Mosaic Company
W R Beer & Co.


Posted on on March 25th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


The Shame of the Netherlands: A Young Muslim Must Go Into Hiding for Fighting Anti-Semitism.

The Algemeiner, March 24, 2013 6:32 pm 10 comments

Passover. This week we will all eat more matzo then we ever thought possible, hear more commentary about the Haggadah and its multiple messages for our time, and sit back in awe and (hopefully) love at the site at of our extended family circle.

But this Pesach, let’s leave some space for one young Muslim who deserves the world’s attention and support. He is not a martyr and desperately wants to avoid becoming one. But as of now, he and his family are in hiding in an undisclosed location in the Netherlands, because of death threats.

His name is Mehmet Sahin, a doctoral student, who has volunteered to reach out to street youth in the city of Arnhem. A few weeks ago he interviewed a group of Dutch-Turkish youth on Nederlands TV2 during which several declared their unabashed hatred of Jews and open admiration of Hitler. “What Hitler did to the Jews is fine with me,” said one. “Hitler should have killed all the Jews,” said another.

While these teens knew all about the fate of iconic Holocaust child victim, Anne Frank, that knowledge did nothing to deter them from expressing their outright hatred of Jews over and over again, and insisting that everyone at their school harbored similar views. When you view the clip you will see that their smirks and body language confirm a deeply-embedded hatred. Watch the video as one boy smiles as he declares: “What Hitler said about Jews is that there will be one day when you see that I am right that I killed all the Jews. And that day will come.”

From where does such bigotry emanate? Here’s a hint. When Mehmet Sahin reprimanded the youngsters and committed to spend however much time it would take to debunk and remove their ignorance and hate, here is how his neighbors reacted:  They collected signatures to demand he leave the area. When Mehmet began to receive death threats, the Mayor of Arnhem, Pauline Krikke, urged him to go into hiding.

And that is where he and his family are today.

Is this the best solution that democratic Netherlands can come up with? A Witness Protection Program for a man guilty of fighting anti-Semitism and standing up for the truth? Are there no consequences for the hate and threats emanating from adults? Are authorities going to question the student’s parents or teachers?

One member of the Dutch Parliament, Ahmed Marcouch says he will raise the scandal in Parliament. “It is horrible that someone has to be afraid because he has done something that we all should do – teach children not to hate.”

Against the backdrop of Anne Frank’s legacy, how today’s Netherlands deals with such deeply embedded hatred of Jews will impact not only on the future of Dutch Jewry but also on the future of Dutch society. SimonWiesenthal, the late Nazi hunter was much revered by the post-WWII generation in the Netherlands. In the 21st century some have forgotten his oft-repeated warning: warned: “Hate often begins with Jews, but history proves, it never ends with the Jews.”

Mehmet Sahin has written these words; “Within a couple of days, I will move to another city of the Netherlands. My personal situation/story is a shame of the European civilization because it is inconceivable that such barbarism can occur in this country. After what happened in the last three weeks, I understood the eternal loneliness and pain of the Jewish population. In the rest of my life, I will tell the whole world that we all must resist this aggression…”

Dayenu – enough good guys being martyred. We don’t need another martyr. Those kids in the Netherlands and their peers in Europe need Mehmet Sahin and other heroic messengers of truth, peace and tolerance. While me may not be able to guarantee his future we can let him know today, he is not forgotten.  Push the pause button on our Matzoth marathon and take a moment to send a message of solidarity to Mehmet c/o and together we will let him know he is not alone.

Rabbi Cooper is associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.


Posted on on March 20th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP) – –   is the place for International discussions among representatives of civil society, governments, and organizations on nuclear disarmament & proliferation. This is a main reason for why there is still some value to the UN despite the fact that the UN in incapable of reaching decisions, it is a place like this, outside the perimeter of the UN, but nevertheless a center that was inspired and came into its existence because of the UN, that the bulky and unwieldy UN itself gets its lease for life.

Interesting to note that VCDNP is located in the Andromeda Tower which is just outside the perimeter of the UN Center in Vienna – clearly as a way to allow for the participation of those that UN Member States might want to keep out and thus on a different level – also a further example to how one could improve the performance of deliberations on topics of real interest to the UN organization – just do it outside the reach of forbidding rules or habits.

We post today on VCDNP having planned and hosted a seminar by H.E. Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), titled “The Chemical Weapons Convention: Making Disarmament Happen.” The event was held in the conference room of the VCDNP on Tuesday, 19 March 2013,  1:15-2:30 pm.

The background of the seminar is the very timely – newspapers front page issue, of the chemical weapons of the Syrian arsenal and the danger that they might be used by the Syrian government or by the opponents fighting the government. In the past fifteen years, the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have developed a robust verification and monitoring mechanism for chemical disarmament and non-proliferation. With almost 80 percent of the world’s global stocks of chemical weapons eliminated, the questions in focus are – what are the key issues on the agenda of the OPCW today? What are future objectives and activities? How to preserve the Convention and its core mission of the effective prohibition of chemical weapons? These and other issues were addressed by OPCW Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü.
The audience, and active participants, came from those involved in issues of nuclear weapons but clearly interested in all aspects of Weapons of Mass Destruction – even if not included under the terms of their own organization. The only limitation mentioned in the announcement was: “Due
to high interest in the event and limited seating, we advise you to register early. We will close registration once maximum capacity is reached.”


Organisation for the
Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

OPCW logo

Member states of the OPCW (green); non-Member States (red).
Formation 29 April 1997
Headquarters The Hague, Netherlands
Membership 188 member states
All states party to the Chemical Weapons Convention CWC are automatically members.
8 states are non-members: Angola, Burma, Egypt, Israel, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan and Syria.
Official languages English, French, Russian, Chinese, Spanish, Arabic
Director General Ahmet Üzümcü[1]
Official organs Conference of the States Parties
Executive Council
Technical Secretariat
Budget €74 million [2]
Staff approximately 500[2]

Angola, Burma/Myanmar, and South Sudan have started the process to destroy their Chemical Weapons stockpiles. This leaves only 5 remaining States without intention to join – a main concern now being Syria.

The OPCW works on the basis of countries declaring voluntarily their stockpiles and subscribing to a regime of destroying them. The organization’s present director was Turkey’s representative in Geneva and at NATO. He is only the third director and started his term July 25, 2010, following Rogelio Pfirter of Argentina who served for two terms starting July 25, 2002.

The first director was Jose Bustani – a Beazilian diplomat. His first term started May 13, 1997, but then fell into US disfavor.

The second term of the first Director-general, Jose Bustani, cut  on grounds of financial mismanagement.[17] There is much controversy surrounding the reasons behind Bustani’s removal. Bustani had been negotiating with the Iraqi regime, and was hoping to persuade them to sign up to the OPCW, thus granting OPCW inspectors full access to Iraq’s purported chemical weapons arsenal. If Bustani had succeeded, this would have placed a formidable obstacle in the path of the Bush administration’s war plans, by removing their ostensible motive. Bustani’s supporters insist this was the reason why the US forced him out. The Bush administration claimed that Bustani’s position was no longer tenable, stating three main reasons: “polarizing and confrontational conduct”, “mismanagement issues” and “advocacy of inappropriate roles for the OPCW”. Bustani’s supporters also claim that the U.S. ambassador issued threats against OPCW members in order to coerce them to support the U.S. initiative against Bustani, including the withdrawal of U.S. support for the organization. It has been said that Bustani was bullied out from the OPCW by John Bolton — something that appears consistent with what was said about Bolton’s practices during the U.S. Senate hearings prior to his appointment as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. This decision was highly controversial and deemed improper by the International Labour Organization.[18]   Following this he was Ambassador of Brazil to the United Kingdom between 2003 and 2008 and is currently Ambassador of Brazil to France.

The Hague was chosen as the location for the seat of the organization after a successful lobby of the Dutch government, competing against Vienna and Geneva.[12] The organization has its headquarters next to the World Forum Convention Center (where it holds its yearly Conference of States Parties) and storage/laboratory facilities in Rijswijk (on the premises of TNO). The headquarters were officially opened by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands on 20 May 1998[13] and consist of an eight-story building built in a semi-circle. There is a memorial to the victims of chemical warfare.

Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü is a Turkish career diplomat who is the director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Üzümcü was consul at the Consulate General in Aleppo, Syria and ambassador in Israel. This besides his appointments to Geneva and NATO.
He seems well positioned in this present problem with Syria. The problem is nevertheless that the Convention allows only for sort of an evaluation capability, but there is no effective management of the weapons’ destruction process. When I spoke with him here in Vienna, he told me that just three of the Convention member countries, Albania, India , and Korea (South) have completely eliminated their stockpiles. Now, the newly joining three States will try to do the same. In effect it is just the US and Russia that have very substantially reduced their declared Chemical Weapons arsenals.
Destroying those supplies is difficult and a very expensive undertaking. Facilities exist in Russia and the US and even the metal part s of the weapons have to be burned and there is a problem how to get rid in an environmental acceptable way even of this part of the weapon. The US is building now to sites – in Kentucky and in Colorado – the latter to be put in use in 2015. The Russians will have 4 facilities in 2015. Looking at problematic States – Libya is another one. They have repaired now equipment that can destroy mustard gas and it is expected the stock-piles will be destroyed under OPCW supervision. Syria has no facilities, no means, and at present probably no interest in destroying these weapons. Ambassador  Üzümcü  is looking into beefing up his capability to do an investigation if called upon in Syria – but he cannot send experts into a conflict zone – first a permissible environment has to be created if the inspectors are to be sent out.
What is worse – the Convention did not foresee terrorism as a danger from Chemical Weapons – it is intended to work with consigning States. As such for instance, Japan sends its weapons to China for decommissioning and destruction. States find Chemical Weapons ineffective today – but this is not the way terrorists think.
Also, Qatar (near Doha) and Kenya (near Nairobi) have proposed to establish destruction centers for CW material. The effort is to use the verification know-how and apply it in the context of a verification regime. In effect some 50 countries can handle this through their Chemical industries. A conference is planned for April 8, 2013 to discuss the findings of a report released three years ago. This in order to provide a further report on how to proceed.
Further, Chemicals is one thing – weaponization is something else – the development of delivery systems. Then Chemicals could be considered by some if it is just tear gas. All this makes it more difficult to read the news because much of it could be in the eye of the beholder and here com in the technical personnel of the convention’s verifiers – clearly very important when judging what is known about Syria.


CNN to textbreakingnews  –
Mar 19, 2013.

There is a “high probability” that Syria used chemical weapons against opposition forces, though verification is needed, U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday.

 The claims come amid pressure in the West to arm the rebels, long overmatched by the Syrian military and its allies.

 The embattled government of President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday accused rebels of a deadly chemical weapon missile attack on the town of Khan al-Asal in Aleppo province. The opposition has accused al-Assad’s forces of using such weapons.

 The civil war — which began two years ago after a government crackdown on Syrian protesters — has left around 70,000 people dead, the United Nations says, and uprooted more than 1 million people.

UN chief says chemical weapon use would be ‘outrageous’ March 19, 2013
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon “remains convinced that the use of chemical weapons by any party (in Syria) under any circumstances would constitute an outrageous crime,” the UN said Tuesday.

The comment came after Syria’s government and opposing rebels on Tuesday each accused each other of using chemical weapons for the first time in two years of unrest in Syria.

Ban and Ahmet Uzumcu, Director General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, “shared deep concern about the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria,” the UN said, in a statement following their conversation.

The two men pledged to “maintain close contact as developments unfold.”

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said that the UN was “aware of the report” that chemical weapons had been used in Syria, but said “we are not in a position to confirm it.”

Key Bashar al-Assad ally Moscow said it had “information” from Damascus that rebels had used chemical weapons, while Washington said there was “no evidence” the insurgents had staged their first chemical attack and warned it would be “totally unacceptable” for the regime to use such arms.



Remarks by Deputy Ambassador Philip Parham Deputy Permanent Representative of the UK Mission to the UN, on Allegations of Chemical Weapons Use in Syria:

Thank you very much.  Good evening everyone. As Ambassador Araud has said we have raised in the Security Council this afternoon the very worrying reports of the use of chemical weapons in Syria.  And I emphasise reports plural. As Ambassador Araud said, the National Coalition issued a statement today saying that there had been two cases of chemical weapons being used in Syria yesterday, one in the Damascus area and one in the Aleppo area. The Syrian Government has also issued statements about the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Aleppo area and have attributed that to the opposition. The opposition have attributed both the cases they cited to the Government.

Clearly, if chemical weapons have been used, this will be abhorrent. It will be very grave. It will warrant a serious response by the international community. And it will force us to revisit the approach that we have been taking so far. But the facts are not clear at the moment and this is the whole point, and the point that we raised in the Security Council. The facts need to be clarified. But I think on that point it is worth just remembering how many distortions and falsehoods we have seen from the Syrian regime over the last two years. Also remembering that it is the Syrian regime which has stockpiles of chemical weapons and materials in Syria and who are responsible under Security Council resolutions to ensure those are not proliferated. And it is also worth remembering too that we have seen many, many cases, all too many cases of the Syrian regime using heavy weaponry against its own people in an entirely disproportionate and unjustified way.

So what we have is reports and allegations. They are very serious and they need to be investigated. And what we said to our colleagues on the Security Council this afternoon was that we would be asking the Secretary-General to conduct such an investigation, swift, thorough and impartial, of any reports of use of chemicals weapons.

The request which the Syrian Government has apparently made to the Secretary-General is a request about only one alleged instance and the way that they have framed the request prejudges the outcome of the investigation by alleging that it’s the opposition that is responsible for that case of use of chemical weapons. What we want is an impartial, thorough and swift investigation which will come to the truth as far as that is possible. That is what we asked for. I would say also that we found among our colleagues on the Security Council that the vast majority of them supported this and I think will support the request that we put to the Secretary-General.


Q: Have you had any information earlier that the opposition in Syria seized some stockpiles, some chemical stockpiles.  Have you had any of this kind of information? If the allegations were to be proven right or true, have you heard anything about that before? That the opposition seized some stockpiles, chemical stockpiles?

A: No


Q: Ambassador Parham could you tell us what the next step is?  Are you planning to send a letter to the Secretary General signed just by those members of the Council who support a wider investigation of not just the Aleppo incident or are you going to try and see if all the Council members will sign on which from what Ambassador Churkin said doesn’t really sound like a possibility?

A: I think from what you’ve heard that’s pretty clear that Ambassador Churkin is not going to sign the letter and as we have also said speed is of the essence here so it will be a case of a number of a number of us, as many as possible, writing to the Secretary General.


A Syrian Army soldier, wounded in what was said to be a chemical attack, being helped in an area of Aleppo Province. Neither side presented clear documentation.

Syria and Activists Trade Charges on Chemical Weapons

Syria and Activists Trade Charges on Chemical Weapons

George Ourfalian/Reuters

A Syrian Army soldier, wounded in what was said to be a chemical attack, being helped in an area of Aleppo Province. Neither side presented clear documentation.


Related –  Syrian Rebels Pick U.S. Citizen to Lead Interim Government (March 19, 2013)

Published: March 19, 2013


The Syrian government said rebels fired chemical weapons in Aleppo; activists accused the government of the same attack. Neither account was confirmed.

BEIRUT, Lebanon — The Syrian government and Syrian rebels traded accusations about a lethal attack in the northern province of Aleppo on Tuesday, in which each side in the country’s two-year-old conflict said the other had used chemical weapons.

But neither side presented clear documentation, and two American officials said there was no evidence to suggest that any chemical weapons had been used. A Defense Department official said the claim should be treated with caution, if not outright skepticism.

The first report came from the Syrian state news agency, SANA, which reported that terrorists, its term for armed rebels, had fired a rocket “containing chemical materials” into the Khan al-Assal area of Aleppo Province, killing 16 people and wounding 86. It later raised the death toll to 25.

The news agency displayed photographs of what it said were the victims, but there was no indication in the photographs that they had suffered a chemical attack, like burns or skin discoloration or quarantine measures.

A senior rebel commander and spokesman, Qassem Saadeddine, later accused the government of using chemical weapons in the attack, citing reports of breathing difficulties and bluish skin among victims, but admitted that the reports were secondhand and that he could not provide documentation.

Another rebel commander, Abdul Jabbar al-Okaidi, head of the rebel military council in Aleppo, said in a telephone interview that he had witnessed the attack, describing it as an errant strike on a government-controlled neighborhood by Syrian warplanes flying at high altitude. He said the explosions from the attack emitted what he described as a gas that appeared to cause suffocation, and that some victims had been treated in a rebel field hospital.

The commander ridiculed government assertions that the rebels had chemical weapons. “We don’t even have ammunition for our Kalashnikovs,” he said.

Each side in Syria’s conflict has an incentive to accuse the other of using chemical weapons. President Obama has said that a chemical attack by President Bashar al-Assad’s government would cross a “red line” that could prompt military intervention by the United States.

The Syrian government seeks to portray its opponents as extremists who are a threat to regional stability. Israel has said it would intervene to prevent chemical weapons from falling into the hands of either the rebels or Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group allied with the Syrian government. Use or seizure of chemical weapons by rebel forces would embarrass the United States, particularly now, as President Obama has declared he will not oppose allied efforts to provide them with military aid.

Rebel factions have accused the government of using chemical weapons many times, with no confirmed cases. The term “chemical weapons” has sometimes appeared to be used loosely to include not just deadly nerve agents like sarin gas but also tear gas and other nonlethal irritants used for crowd control.

The Foreign Ministry of Russia, Mr. Assad’s most powerful international backer, indicated that it was taking the government’s claim seriously, calling the supposed use of chemical weapons by the opposition an “extremely dangerous development” and a new reason to refocus energy on finding a political solution to the conflict.

A Syrian official told state television that the Aleppo attack would be reported to human rights organizations and to countries that support the rebels.

A Reuters photographer was quoted in a report by the news agency as saying that he had visited victims in Aleppo hospitals and that they had breathing problems.

“I saw mostly women and children,” said the photographer, who Reuters said it could not identify out of concern for his safety. “They said that people were suffocating in the streets and the air smelled strongly of chlorine.”

Rebels have long tried, without success, to overrun a weapons plant near Safira, in Aleppo Province, where chemical weapons are believed to be stored. The Syrian government said in December that rebels had plundered supplies of chlorine gas, but the government’s stores are believed by American officials to consist of other types of chemical weapons.

An Obama administration official said the White House had “no information suggesting opposition groups have chemical weapons capability.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an anti-Assad group based in Britain that has a network of contacts in Syria, said that 16 government soldiers and 10 civilians had been killed after a rocket landed on Khan al-Assal. Activists said that the government had tried to hit the police academy there, which had recently been taken by rebel forces, with a Scud missile, but that it accidentally fell on a government-controlled area instead.

In Washington, the White House cast doubt on claims that the opposition had used chemical weapons and said it was evaluating the possibility that the government had used them.

“We’re looking carefully at allegations of C. W. use, chemical weapons use,” said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary. He said the administration was “deeply skeptical” of the assertions by President Assad’s government that the opposition had mounted a chemical attack.

At the State Department, a spokeswoman also dismissed the Syrian government’s claim as an effort to distract from its use of long-range Scud missiles against civilians. The spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, said the United States was looking into rebel claims that the government had used chemical weapons and tried to blame its opponents.

Another American official said that officials do not believe a chemical attack took place, but that they are “nervous” about what the Syrian government may be thinking. The officials spoke anonymously because of the delicacy of talking about chemical weapons intelligence.

At the United Nations, diplomats reacted to the unverified reports with caution, although they did not totally discount the possibility. Sir Mark Lyall Grant, the British ambassador, told reporters that “clearly if chemical weapons were used then that would be abhorrent and it would require a serious response from the international community.”

Reporting was contributed by Isabel Kershner from Ramallah, West Bank; Peter Baker, Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt from Washington; Hwaida Saad from Beirut; and Rick Gladstone from New York.


Posted on on February 10th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Plugging In, Dutch Put Electric Cars to the Test


The Netherlands, with its small size and $8.50-a-gallon gas, may be the ultimate feasibility test for electric vehicles.


We will keep updating this post and we will be suggesting that good government will be pushing people to renounce wasteful motor-vehicles.


Posted on on February 8th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) is currently calling for expressions of interest and an invitation to tender for three major knowledge management projects. Please respond if you are interested, or pass to others in your network who may be well placed to respond:

Call for expressions of interest: CDKN learning programme on climate compatible development at subnational level

CDKN is seeking a partner organisation to lead its new initiative to capture and synthesise learning from projects at the sub-national level.
Deadline for submissions of Expressions of Interest: 17.00 GMT 14 February 2013

Invitation to tender: National climate compatible development planning: learning from experiences in Africa

CDKN is seeking a partner organisation to lead its new initiative to capture, synthesise and share learning from national climate compatible development (CCD) planning in Africa.

Deadline for submissions of Invitation to Tender: 17:00 GMT 25 February 2013

Call for expressions of interest: CDKN inside stories on climate compatible development

CDKN is looking to commission a set of policy briefs on developing countries’ practical experiences in climate compatible development.
Deadline for submissions of Expressions of Interest: 18.00 GMT 28 February 2013

Any questions about these tenders should be addressed not to me, but to CDKN’s Procurement team on: who will be pleased to respond.


KMAF-0014 – National climate compatible development planning: learning from experiences in Africa.


CDKN is seeking a partner organisation to lead its new initiative to capture, synthesise and share learning from national climate compatible development (CCD) planning in Africa.

CDKN’s overall purpose is to support developing countries to design and deliver climate compatible development. We provide a combination of advisory work, research and knowledge-sharing, tailored to countries’ needs. We are partnering with progressive national and local governments to design and deliver policies that combine low carbon, climate resilient, and inclusive green growth. We are now working in 40 countries, disbursing GBP20 million a year. CDKN began in 2010 with funding from the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID) and now also receives funds from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. It runs initially for a five year period to 2015.

As CDKN enters its fourth year, we are embarking on a range of initiatives to share learning from our programme to date. One of these is a major initiative to synthesise and share African solutions and best practice emerging from national climate compatible development planning to support learning, policy development and possible replication and up-scaling efforts in other countries.

With a number of mature and maturing projects in implementation, African governments have a strong body of evidence and experiences to communicate regionally and globally and ensure that it is transferable and catalytic. In the fourth year of CDKN, we are committed to bringing experience-based knowledge and insight from Africa to the forefront.

We welcome tenders from organisations and consortia that specialise in organisational learning to partner with us on this endeavour. The work will run to December 2014. This initiative will broadly involve:

  • Working closely with a core CDKN team to identify learning priorities and formulate key learning questions for our Africa projects, in consultation with key stakeholders;
  • Conducting learning processes around the key learning priorities and questions identified;
  • Liaising with CDKN partners (governments and researchers) and individual project teams (including external suppliers) to write up a first round of analysis;
  • Co-producing a variety of knowledge products with partners and project teams; and
  • Delivering an eight-month outreach programme to share the learning in a targeted and systematic way with the aim of influencing CCD policy and practice.

The Learning Partner’s team must include the following skill sets:

  • Specialism in organisational and project learning;
  • Experience in comparative case study research for policy audiences;
  • Understanding and knowledge of CCD planning at national levels in developing countries and Africa specifically;
  • Established track record of engagement with policy audiences in a range of African countries;
  • Demonstrable expertise in climate compatible development, including a firm grasp of common climate adaptation and mitigation issues in developing countries and Africa specifically;
  • Excellent Africa networks in the climate change and development arena;
  • Highly honed editing and writing skills in English; Portuguese and French fluency an asset but not essential;
  • Expert facilitation skills and previous experience in facilitating similar learning processes in multi-stakeholder settings;
  • Demonstrated effectiveness in producing and disseminating policy briefing materials across a range of formats (e.g. PowerPoint, policy briefs, background papers, multimedia); and
  • Experience in the countries where CDKN has mature projects is desirable but not essential.

In order to express an interest in this opportunity, please complete the following 2 steps:

Step 1:

Send an email to the CDKN Procurement team ( including the following information:

  • Subject line: Expression of interest: KMAF-0014 – National climate compatible development planning: learning from experiences in Africa
  • Organisation/company name
  • A sentence confirming your interest in bidding for the work
  • The name of any partner organisations you anticipate that you will work with
  • A contact name(s), email address and telephone number for the most appropriate person(s) to send further information to regarding bidding

Step 2:

Your nominated contact(s) will receive an email from the CDKN Procurement team, including [an Expressions of Interest selection document] / [Invitation to Tender document], a Non Disclosure Agreement, a copy of CDKN’s Expense Policy and the CDKN Terms and Conditions.  Complete the documents where relevant and submit these to the CDKN Procurement team ( cdknetwork.procurement at before the deadline stated below.

Your documents [including the signed Non-Disclosure Agreement] should be submitted by the deadline of 17.00 UK time on 25 February 2013.

Please note, we will accept and respond to questions with respect to this opportunity and the associated documents, provided they are received by CDKN Procurement before 17.00 UK time on 15 February 2013.