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Romania:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 24th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


We ask above question in light of the Romanian Mission to the UN sponsored ASUA promoted UN event which we covered at large in our posting:

A laudable ECO-DRIVE training for petroleum fuel-saving of conventional motor-vehicles was presented at the UN in New York by the Japanese ASUA Inc., at a time the world is watching attempts at innovation that replace both – the conventional engines and the fuel. Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 20th, 2014  www.sustainabilitank.info/#34692

If this is the case, how will it impact the price of carbon in the EU and will emission savings outside the EU be allowed as carbon credits into this market or will it all be an internai EU market? These are points that we expect to be followed with interest by by the world-wide auto-motive industry.

We expect the EcoDrive caravan to make Brussels as their next target.

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EU set to allow car emissions into carbon trading market

Date: 24-Oct-14
Country: BELGIUM
Author: Barbara Lewis
The European Union is set to make it easier to bring road transport emissions into the carbon trading market, a move that critics say could empower carmakers to push back against more effective curbs on greenhouse gases.

As posted by PlanetArk // Reuters from Brussels, EU leaders will attempt to agree on energy policy for 2030 when they meet in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, including an EU-wide cut in greenhouse gas emissions of 40 percent compared with 1990 levels.

The EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS), key to efforts to reduce emissions, has so far excluded road transport. It has focused on curbing pollution from heavy industry and the power sector by forcing more than 12,000 power plants, factories and airlines to surrender an allowance for every tonne of CO2 emitted under a gradually decreasing emission cap.

But a draft of the EU’s 2030 climate and energy package, seen by Reuters, says individual member states can include road transport in the EU ETS if they choose.

It also calls on the executive European Commission to “further develop instruments and measures for a comprehensive and technology neutral approach for the promotion of emissions reduction and energy efficiency in transport”.

The phrase “technology neutral” is often used by business to champion using the EU ETS to tackle emissions, rather than sector-specific targets.

Transport is Europe’s second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions after the power sector, and is also the fastest-growing one.

Bringing cars into the ETS could reduce the costs the car industry faces in meeting existing regulation as well as tackling the oversupply on the carbon market which has pushed prices of carbon allowances down to around 6 euros ($7.64) per tonne from more than 30 euros six years ago.

But the impact on emissions would be negligible, analysts say. A study published this week by consultancy Cambridge Econometrics estimated that bringing road transport into the ETS would curb emissions by 1 percent by 2030 at current ETS prices.

It also found that to achieve a vehicle emissions goal of 60 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer (g/km) by 2030 — the logical extension of existing car emissions targets — carbon prices would need to rise to over 200 euros per tonne, imposing huge costs on heavy industry.

Climate campaigners say heavy lobbying from business has already ensured a proposed emissions cut of 40 percent will not include a sub-target for transport, whereas the current set of 2020 targets includes a 6 percent cut in road fuel emissions compared with 1990.

Existing EU law also includes emissions standards to limit carbon dioxide pollution from cars, which extend to 2021 and have attracted stiff resistance, especially from the German luxury car sector, led by brands such as BMW and Daimler.

Several EU officials said there was no unanimity on bringing road transport into the ETS, so member states were likely to agree on asking the European Commission to look at ways to expand the carbon trading scheme.

But green campaigners say even the mention of flexibility in achieving targets could give carmakers more stick to persuade lawmakers to drop efforts for any further car specific standards, which they say have had a major impact on reducing vehicle fuel use and cutting pollution.

“The draft text makes the theoretical possibility of transport in the ETS move closer to reality,” said Greg Archer of environmental group T&E. “It is a dangerous precedent that will undermine reductions in transport emissions while damaging EU growth and jobs.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 12th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


EU regional projects see ‘encouraging’ shift in focus.

10.10.14 By Honor Mahony – The Euobserver

BRUSSELS – As he finishes up his mandate as EU regional affairs commissioner, Johannes Hahn says his “legacy” is getting member states to spend money on the real economy rather than hulking infrastructure projects.

Romania’s Corina Cretu (Partidul Social Democrat) is due to take over as EU regional affairs commissioner in November

Under his watch, rules governing how regional aid money – running to €325 billion between 2014-2020 – is spent were given a shake-up to encourage projects in line with the EU’s long-term economic goals.

Adopted at the end of December, the new rules have already resulted in a big decrease in spending on traditional infrastructure – such as roads – and a leap in spending on green and ICT projects.

“We see a clear shift from investment in infrastructure towards stimulation of the “real” economy,” Hahn told this website, adding that this is “encouraging”.

“I like to think [of this] as a legacy of my time as commissioner for this policy.”

Analysis by late September of the plans of various regions have showed that there was a 22 percent rise in spending (to €125bn) on projects dedicated to research & development, innovation, ICT, small businesses, and low-carbon economy compared to the last budget cycle (2007-2013).

Spending on transport and other major infrastructure has sunk by 21 pecent, to €60bn, while member states such as Belgium, Croatia, Italy, Portugal, and the UK have made helping small companies a priority.

On energy security and green projects specifically, the chunk of aid money has more than doubled to €38 billion.
Red tape – also in the member states

Hahn notes that while the more stringent rules mean that getting spending programmes agreed is more time-consuming, the “insistence” on focussing on what results will be achieved rather than just whether money will be spent is “very valuable”.

“Member states will have to spell out what they want to achieve and by when, and be monitored whether those results are there,” he says.

And while he admits that the rules are still complicated – or not simplified “as much as we might have wished” – leading to grumbling by some local authorities, he says member states themselves are just as much to blame.

“Many layers of red tape come from member states themselves – what we call ‘gold-plating’ and it is too easy to blame this on the so-called ‘Brussels bureaucracy ‘.”

On tying funds to good economic governance – a controversial innovation to the rules – Hahn said stopping EU aid because a member state is fiscally misbehaving would be a “last resort”, but underlines that “investments will deliver more in the context of budgetary discipline”.

“We are not talking about punishment but rather about an incentive to maintain financial and budgetary discipline so that funds can deliver for citizens.”

The Austrian politician, who is due to take over the European neighbourhood policy dossier from November, declines to give advice to his successor candidate, Romania’s Corina Cretu.

But he does suggest that, in future, GDP – or how rich a region is – should not be the only criteria for determining whether it should qualify for EU money.

“Other measures such as innovation performance could be taken into account,” he says, indicating that being a forward-looking region with clever ideas should be enough for a shot at EU aid.

 euobserver.com/regions/125754

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

Eastern countries (of the EU) oppose EU climate goals.

The EUObserver, By Peter Teffer, .October 2, 2014

Brussels – With only three weeks to go before the European Council is to make a final decision on new climate goals for 2030, six Central and Eastern European countries have declared their opposition to the proposed targets.

In an effort to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius, the European Commission proposed in January 2014 several targets for 2030.

Greenhouse gas emissions should be 40 percent lower; the market share of renewable energy should be 27 percent and energy efficiency should be improved by 30 percent.

In March and June, the European Council failed to agree on the commission’s proposal. When the EU government leaders meet again on 23 and 24 October in Brussels, they hope to reach a “final decision on the new climate and energy policy framework”.

However, the ministers and deputy ministers for environment of six Central and Eastern European countries, declared on Tuesday (September 30) their opposition to binding targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The six countries are the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania.

The six ask for a framework that “reflects different regional needs and circumstances”. The energy mix differs greatly among member states and reaching the targets will be easier for some than others.

The EU share of renewable energy consumption was 14.1 percent in 2012, according to Eurostat, but that average conceals regional differences.

Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and Czech Republic are below that average, with shares between 9.6 and 11.2 percent. Most of the six rely heavily on coal, which is one of the energy sources that emits the most carbon dioxide.

The question then is, which targets will be binding for the whole of EU, and which for each individual member state.

A group of 13 mostly western and northern European states, called the Green Growth Group, is in favour of a binding greenhouse gas target of 40 percent for member states.

But in March it said the “Council should agree on a binding EU renewables energy target which should not be translated into binding national targets by the EU, leaving greater flexibility for Member States to develop their own renewable energy strategies.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 26th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We picked the following article from the Austrian Erste Foundation Newsletter . We were intrigued by the fact that in Timisoara, Romanian West, there is nearly full employment and this makes for the need to change demands of worker skills in order to help bring in new investors when there is shortage of local labor.

At first the city grew after ouster of communism the usual way – it provided cheap labor to foreign investors. But since the 2008 economic crisis in the EU, above had to change and the level of skilled labor increased. The mayor dtill complains that not enough people can be offered to new investors, but nevertheless, as a total – the city is doing very well in the EU that evolves from the crisis. This is thus 2.0 in Timisoara’s post-communist economy. We are anxious to report on Timisoara 3.0 which will come when it will be obvious that industry has to take in consideration the environment. We say this when looking at the photo posted here.

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Return to Europe – Timisoara 2.0

timisoara


Dan Diaconu, deputy mayor of Timisoara, has an unusual problem. “Unemployment in our city stands at one per cent,” the 36-year-old, elected in 2012, explains. “This is a problem for attracting new investors. Some are scared away by this fact.”
In conditions of near full employment, labour is hard to find.

Yet this is a problem that most European cities would long to have. Diaconu concedes, with no sign of enthusiasm, that in his city of 320,000 people, “the economic indicators show that indeed there is no big crisis in Timisoara today.”

Diaconu was twelve years old in 1989, the year Timisoara became famous as the birthplace of the Romanian anti-communist revolution, which precipitated the fall of the Ceausescu regime. He was a student in the 1990s when the first Italian investors, mostly smaller businesses looking for cheap labour, arrived in Timisoara. When he graduated from the local Polytechnic University in 2000, the first multinationals, Siemens and Alcatel, had arrived in town. Many of his colleagues went to work for them. Diaconu decided instead to manage social projects, focusing on the plight of young people. In 2007, while Diaconu was running EU projects, the BBC called Timisoara a “revolutionary boomtown.” More than 2,600 Italian and 1,500 German companies had settled in the city. There was a growing number of multinational companies, from the tire maker Continental to the consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble. By this point, finding workers was already a challenge.

Romania’s membership of the EU in 2007 seemed to promise a continuation of this growth trajectory and an eventual catching up with EU living standards. It was a promise that seemed plausible until 2008. In the six years after Romania started its accession negotiations, GDP per capita rose from 30 to 47 per cent of the EU average. Romania remained poor, but salaries were rising. A new middle class – university graduates employed by multinational companies – found itself with money to spend. It began heading off with low-cost airlines for weekend trips. Timisoara airport offered daily direct flights to more than 20 European destinations.

Then, in late 2008, the European economic crisis hit Romania. Convergence with the EU stopped. Salaries ceased to rise. The citizens of one of the EU’s poorest economies were left to ponder whether the dream of “convergence” had gone.

Visiting Timisoara in 2013, one can get the impression that little has changed since 2008. If one asks businessmen about major recent foreign investors, many have difficulties coming up with even a single new company. But they also cannot name a single major foreign investor who has left. Unemployment, after increasing to 4.5 per cent in the Timisoara region, is back to 2 per cent. In the city itself, it is even lower. Yet salaries average just €400 net and are barely keeping up with inflation. The dynamism of the pre-crisis years has gone, leaving many with the impression of protracted stagnation. But is this really the case?

Florentin Banu, a casually dressed man with a firm handshake, has a remarkable story to tell. In 1994, he started producing wafers in a garage. The company and its “Joe” brand became so successful that Nestle bought it (and still today sells “Joe” wafers). With the proceeds, Banu started a local supermarket chain. He nearly went bankrupt, and had to bring in additional investors before the chain turned profitable. In 2005, he sold his share in the chain (now owned by French retail giant Carrefour). He started two new businesses from scratch: Banu Construct, a real estate developer, and Interpart, producing plastic parts. By 2008, before the crisis, Banu Construct turned in annual profits of more than a million Euros. Interpart made losses of half a million. At that time Banu said: “If I was interested only in money, I would only do real estate.” But with his passion for management, he persisted in his efforts to turn Interpart into a profitable company that would supply the automotive industry.

It was a far-sighted decision. In late 2008, the construction sector imploded. Banu dryly lists the facts: “The demand for flats and real estate fell by about 90 per cent. The prices gave way by 50-60 per cent. Land prices decreased even more.” Banu’s company had just purchased a huge piece of land where he planned to build 300 flats. The land price was €200 per square metre. “Today it is worth 60 or 70.” Banu Construct only survived because it could cover its losses from profits accumulated in the pre-crisis years, and by shrinking dramatically. Of 170 employees, only 30 remain. Banu is “proud that we are still standing.” Of the bigger real estate developers in town, all but two went bust.

Interpart, Banu’s other company, has grown, however. He moved the factory premises to an industrial suburb southwest of Timisoara. The new building includes offices and even a flat, where Banu now lives. “It is very practical.” Down in the production hall, visitors are walked along a row of precision instruments producing metal moulds. Across the other side of the hall, large machines use the moulds to produce plastic parts of diverse shapes and colours, which drop continuously into large plastic boxes.

With only a slight increase in its workforce – from 100 to 120 – the company has managed to double its annual turnover in the last two years to €5 million. The investment has finally turned profitable. Sixty percent of production now is for the automotive industry, a growth sector across Romania. Interpart supplies various multinationals in the surrounding area, including in Hungary. Banu is optimistic: “The industry needs us. We are a local supplier for global players.”

Banu’s story, combining success, defeat and innovation, is telling. A lot has changed in Timisoara’s economy since 2008. One whole sector, construction, collapsed. Others, like IT and transport, have grown. Industrial producers have adapted. Domestic purchasing power, driven by credit growth, took a hit during the crisis and is only slowly recovering. Many smaller companies lacked the resources to survive the crisis and have had to close. However, with its focus on manufacturing and export, Timisoara weathered the crisis better than less industrial areas of South East Europe.

Peter Hochmuth is a German businessman who came to Timisoara 12 years ago as the financial director of the Continental tire factory. When the company wanted to rotate him to headquarters in Hannover, Hochmuth decided to quit and stay on in Timisoara. Since then, he has advised foreign investors and – more recently – Romanians on doing business with foreigners. “There is a clear transformation in the industry here,” he says. “Simple manufacturing jobs that were predominant in the 1990s are disappearing. Geox and Rieker, the Italian and German shoe giants, have closed their production facilities. But more skilled jobs, particularly in the automotive industries and IT, are growing.”

Hochmuth is also president of the German-speaking business club. Initially an informal gathering, the club today brings together over 150 German-speaking executives.

One of them is Dan Popovici, general director of the Timisoara plant of Dräxlmaier, a big German automotive supplier with production sites in more than 20 countries. Waiting for Popovici in the company’s entrance hall, one is left wondering how the floor of white tiles can be kept so impeccably clean, even on a rainy day. Popovici is in his 50s. His measured tone carries the authority of someone who has witnessed many dramatic changes. Asked about developments in the industry, he says: “We can talk about two waves: the first was labour intensive. The second is technology oriented.”

The automotive industry was particularly hard hit by the global financial crisis. Sales collapsed. The suppliers based in Timisoara first introduced shorter working hours and compulsory leave, before beginning to shed workers. Their headquarters quickly realized, however, that it made little sense to close efficient and cost-effective plants in Romania. Within six months, the industry was in full swing again.

In 2008, Dräxlmaier employed 2,000 people in Timisoara. They manufactured cable harnesses for higher end cars like BMW. Harnesses are a complex product, comprising all the electric cables in a car. “Every harness is different, depending on the specifications of the car,” Popovici explains. “In each car, you find 1.5 to 2.5 kilometres of cables.” Since 2008, Dräxlmaier has relocated the more labour intensive production steps to Serbia. In Timisoara, they invested in the automation and mechanisation of production and now mainly produce motor harnesses. “Few plants in this sector are technically as equipped as we are here. While since 2008 we have reduced our staff from 2,000 to 800 people, efficiency has risen,” says Popovici. “There is a constant battle to remain competitive,” he adds, pointing to new machines in the huge production hall.

The jobs in the plant have become more sophisticated. They are also better paid. The share of university-educated staff has tripled over the last five years to about 20 per cent. Over 100 jobs are in services for other plants of the company abroad. There is a service centre covering all locations except North America. When new factories are opened, often staff from Timisoara are sent there, be it to China, Mexico or Serbia.

“In the simplest sectors, Timisoara cannot compete anymore,” claims Hochmuth. “But it is competitive in the higher skilled production processes where you have to work closer with your clients. Take software system development. Engineers here earn at least €700 a month, much more than their colleagues in low-cost countries. But you can easily and cheaply fly a team from here to Germany, Austria or Italy. Many speak German, Italian or good English. They know what a consumer expects. They have the same way of thinking. Eventually, everything considered, it pays off to be here for these more sophisticated production activities.”

The fact that household incomes have not grown for many years is reflected in the city’s overall mood. Many people are slightly worse off than five years ago. There are many challenges for businesses: administrative hurdles, a shortage of skilled labour. And yet, it is not difficult to imagine Timisoara as a prosperous, bustling, global industrial centre a decade from now. This cannot be said for many cities in the region, and certainly not for those across the border in Serbia, where membership of the European Union still seems a distant prospect. There, politicians will continue to envy Dan Diaconu for his problem – convincing outsiders to keep investing under conditions of almost full employment.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Europe

 

In Taking Crimea, Putin Gains a Sea of Fuel Reserves.

 

 

Photo

Vladimir V. Putin of Russia visiting a Lukoil oil platform in the Caspian Sea in 2010. Credit RIA Novosti/Alexei Druzhinin, via Pool, via Reuters

 

When Russia seized Crimea in March, it acquired not just the Crimean landmass but also a maritime zone more than three times its size with the rights to underwater resources potentially worth trillions of dollars.

Russia portrayed the takeover as reclamation of its rightful territory, drawing no attention to the oil and gas rush that had recently been heating up in the Black Sea. But the move also extended Russia’s maritime boundaries, quietly giving Russia dominion over vast oil and gas reserves while dealing a crippling blow to Ukraine’s hopes for energy independence.

Russia did so under an international accord that gives nations sovereignty over areas up to 230 miles from their shorelines. It had tried, unsuccessfully, to gain access to energy resources in the same territory in a pact with Ukraine less than two years earlier.

“It’s a big deal,” said Carol R. Saivetz, a Eurasian expert in the Security Studies Program of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It deprives Ukraine of the possibility of developing these resources and gives them to Russia. It makes Ukraine more vulnerable to Russian pressure.”

Gilles Lericolais, the director of European and international affairs at France’s state oceanographic group, called Russia’s annexation of Crimea “so obvious” as a play for offshore riches.

In Moscow, a spokesman for President Vladimir V. Putin said there was “no connection” between the annexation and energy resources, adding that Russia did not even care about the oil and gas. “Compared to all the potential Russia has got, there was no interest there,” the spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Saturday.

Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell and other major oil companies have already explored the Black Sea, and some petroleum analysts say its potential may rival that of the North Sea. That rush, which began in the 1970s, lifted the economies of Britain, Norway and other European countries.

William B. F. Ryan, a marine geologist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, said Russia’s Black Sea acquisition gave it what are potentially “the best” of that body’s deep oil reserves.

Redividing the Black Sea.

Russia’s annexation of Crimea also gives Russia control of a large swath of the Black Sea, including deep oil reserves.

THE “BEFORE” and “AFTER” ECONOMIC ZONE MARITIME MAPS:

The RED is the newly acquired expanse.

 

 

Oil analysts said that mounting economic sanctions could slow Russia’s exploitation of its Black and Azov Sea annexations by reducing access to Western financing and technology. But they noted that Russia had already taken over the Crimean arm of Ukraine’s national gas company, instantly giving Russia exploratory gear on the Black Sea.

“Russia’s in a mood to behave aggressively,” said Vladimir Socor, a senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation, a research group in Washington that follows Eurasian affairs. “It’s already seized two drilling rigs.”

The global hunt for fossil fuels has increasingly gone offshore, to places like the Atlantic Ocean off Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico and the South China Sea. Hundreds of oil rigs dot the Caspian, a few hundred miles east of the Black Sea.

Nations divide up the world’s potentially lucrative waters according to guidelines set forth by the 1982 Law of the Sea Treaty. The agreement lets coastal nations claim what are known as exclusive economic zones that can extend up to 200 nautical miles (or 230 statute miles) from their shores. Inside these zones, countries can explore, exploit, conserve and manage deep natural resources, living and nonliving.

The countries with shores along the Black Sea have long seen its floor as a potential energy source, mainly because of modest oil successes in shallow waters.

Just over two years ago, the prospects for huge payoffs soared when a giant ship drilling through deep bedrock off Romania found a large gas field in waters more than half a mile deep.

Russia moved fast.

In April 2012, Mr. Putin, then Russia’s prime minister, presided over the signing of an accord with Eni, the Italian energy giant, to explore Russia’s economic zone in the northeastern Black Sea. Dr. Ryan of Columbia estimated that the size of the zone before the Crimean annexation was roughly 26,000 square miles, about the size of Lithuania.

“I want to assure you that the Russian government will do everything to support projects of this kind,” Mr. Putin said at the signing, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.

A month later, oil exploration specialists at a European petroleum conference made a lengthy presentation, the title of which asked: “Is the Black Sea the Next North Sea?” The paper cited geological studies that judged the waters off Ukraine as having “tremendous exploration potential” but saw the Russian zone as less attractive.

In August 2012, Ukraine announced an accord with an Exxon-led group to extract oil and gas from the depths of Ukraine’s Black Sea waters. The Exxon team had outbid Lukoil, a Russian company. Ukraine’s state geology bureau said development of the field would cost up to $12 billion.

“The Black Sea Hots Up,” read a 2013 headline in GEO ExPro, an industry magazine published in Britain. “Elevated levels of activity have become apparent throughout the Black Sea region,” the article said, “particularly in deepwater.”

When Russia seized the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine on March 18, it issued a treaty of annexation between the newly declared Republic of Crimea and the Russian Federation. Buried in the document — in Article 4, Section 3 — a single bland sentence said international law would govern the drawing of boundaries through the adjacent Black and Azov Seas.

Dr. Ryan estimates that the newly claimed maritime zone around Crimea added about 36,000 square miles to Russia’s existing holdings. The addition is more than three times the size of the Crimean landmass, and about the size of Maine.

At the time, few observers noted Russia’s annexation of Crimea in those terms. An exception was Romania, whose Black Sea zone had been adjacent to Ukraine’s before Russia stepped in.

“Romania and Russia will be neighbors,” Romania Libera, a newspaper in Bucharest, observed on March 24. The article’s headline said the new maritime border could become a “potential source of conflict.”

Many nations have challenged Russia’s seizing of Crimea and thus the legality of its Black and Azov Sea claims. But the Romanian newspaper quoted analysts as judging that the other countries bordering the Black Sea — Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania — would tacitly recognize the annexation “in order to avoid an open conflict.”

Most immediately, analysts say, Russia’s seizing may alter the route along which the South Stream pipeline would be built, saving Russia money, time and engineering challenges. The planned pipeline, meant to run through the deepest parts of the Black Sea, is to pump Russian gas to Europe.

Originally, to avoid Ukraine’s maritime zone, Russia drew the route for the costly pipeline in a circuitous jog southward through Turkey’s waters. But now it can take a far more direct path through its newly acquired Black Sea territory, if the project moves forward. The Ukraine crisis has thrown its future into doubt.

As for oil extraction in the newly claimed maritime zones, companies say their old deals with Ukraine are in limbo, and analysts say new contracts are unlikely to be signed anytime soon, given the continuing turmoil in the region and the United States’ efforts to ratchet up pressure on Russia.

 

“There are huge issues at stake,” noted Dr. Saivetz of M.I.T. “I can’t see them jumping into new deals right now.”

The United States is using its wherewithal to block Russian moves in the maritime zones. Last month, it imposed trade restrictions on Chernomorneftegaz, the breakaway Crimean arm of Ukraine’s national gas company.

Eric L. Hirschhorn, the United States under secretary of commerce for industry and security, said sanctions against the Crimean business would send “a strong message” of condemnation for Russia’s “incursion into Ukraine and expropriation of Ukrainian assets.”

 

Alexandra Odynova contributed reporting from Moscow.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 8th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Europe

Without Scotland, Premier Says, Britain Would Be Less ‘Great’

LONDON — Marking the formal beginning of the British government’s campaign to preserve the United Kingdom, Prime Minister David Cameron made an emotional plea to Scots to vote in September to remain in the union, saying on Friday that without Scotland, Britain would be “deeply diminished.”

“We want you to stay,” said Mr. Cameron, an entreaty that signaled a shift from the current pro-union campaign, which has featured dark warnings about financial and legal difficulties for Scotland should the Scots vote for independence. With seven months to go until the vote, he said, the outcome is up in the air.

Mr. Cameron does not want to be the prime minister who lost Scotland and began the breakup of the United Kingdom, even as he has promised Britons a similar referendum during the next Parliament on remaining in the European Union. Without Scotland, Great Britain would be considerably less great, he argued, and would be faced with new problems about borders and income, even about where to base its nuclear submarines.

            The British prime minister, David Cameron, speaking in east London on Friday.
Carl Court/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Mr. Cameron chose the velodrome at the Olympic Park in east London for his first major intervention in the Scottish referendum campaign, trying to appeal to the national pride that surrounded the highly successful Summer Olympics here 18 months ago. Then, Scots were prominent in what was known as “Team G.B.,” and one of the local heroes of the Games, the Scottish tennis player Andy Murray, is known to favor remaining in the union.

Excerpts from the speech were provided to British political journalists overnight, ensuring two days of news coverage. “For me, the best thing about the Olympics wasn’t the winning,” Mr. Cameron said. “It was the red, the white, the blue. It was the summer that patriotism came out of the shadows and into the sun, everyone cheering as one for Team G.B.”

Mr. Cameron focused on the importance of the “powerful” United Kingdom brand and how much it mattered in the world, and how it could be damaged. Scottish independence would “rip the rug from under our own reputation,” Mr. Cameron said, arguing that “we matter more in the world together” — the same argument used by Britons who want Britain to remain in the European Union.

Mr. Cameron said that while the decision was up to the Scots, “all 63 million of us” — in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — “are profoundly affected.”

“We would be deeply diminished without Scotland,” he said.

He pulled out all the Scottish stops, citing the Scottish Olympian Chris Hoy, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his own West Highland heritage. He also mentioned Scotch whisky, saying it “adds £135 to the U.K.’s balance of payments every single second,” which in another context might be an incentive for Scots to vote for independence. However, with Britons anxious about making ends meet, Mr. Cameron did not mention Adam Smith, the Scot famous for his theory of the “invisible hand” of the free market.

About four million people over the age of 16 and living in Scotland will be able to take part in the referendum, promised by the governing Scottish National Party, on Sept. 18. Scots living outside Scotland cannot vote.

Early opinion polls have shown a large plurality of Scots intending to vote to remain in the union, but the numbers are soft. In some recent polls, greater numbers have said they intend to vote for independence.

Given the unpopularity of Mr. Cameron and his Conservative Party in Scotland, which is dominated by the Scottish National Party and the opposition Labour Party, Mr. Cameron has been wary of intervening too much in the debate, fearing a counterproductive effect. The pro-union campaign, which is meant to be nonpartisan, is led by Alistair Darling, a Labour member of Parliament from Scotland and former chancellor of the Exchequer, who had a cabinet post during the entire Labour reign from 1997 to 2010.

Mr. Darling and his team have been emphasizing questions about whether an independent Scotland would have to reapply to join the European Union, whether it could continue to use the pound or adopt the euro, whether it would have a truly independent central bank, and even whether oil and gas revenues from declining production in the North Sea would be enough to fund Scotland’s budget.

The immediate response from the Scottish National Party to the excerpts — the “preaction,” as one BBC radio announcer put it — was predictably critical, accusing Mr. Cameron of being afraid to come to Scotland and debate the party leader, Alex Salmond.

Mr. Salmond called Mr. Cameron “a big feartie,” or coward, for refusing a face-to-face debate.

Scotland’s deputy first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said in a statement, “This is a cowardly speech from a prime minister who uses the Olympic Park in London to give highhanded lectures against Scotland’s independence but hasn’t got the guts to come to Scotland or anywhere else to make his case.”

Touching on Mr. Cameron’s image as an elite, Eton-educated southerner, she said, “David Cameron, as the Tory prime minister, is the very embodiment of the democratic case for a ‘yes’ vote for an independent Scotland — and he knows it.”

She argued that using the Olympic Stadium on the day the Winter Olympics formally opened in Sochi, Russia, “seeking to invoke the successes of London 2012 as an argument against Scotland taking its future into its own hands,” only “betrays the extent of the jitters now running through the ‘no’ campaign.”

Watch Now: America’s first Muslim fraternity

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Leaked Recordings Lay Bare E.U. and U.S. Divisions in Goals for Ukraine.

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Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany issued a sharp statement denouncing the American diplomat’s remarks on the political crisis in Kiev. John Macdougall/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

BERLIN — “Really Pretty Stupid” was the headline chosen by the august Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Friday to describe an editorial on the latest eruption between the United States and Europe, this time over who should take the lead in trying to calm the crisis in Ukraine, and how to do it.

The headline spoke to the tensions that flared this week over the release of a recording in which a top American diplomat disparaged the European Union’s efforts in Ukraine. On Friday, a second recording surfaced in which European diplomats complained about the Americans.

But it was also a reflection of the disarray that has marked much of the West’s dealings with Ukraine since late November, when President Viktor F. Yanukovych spurned a pact with the European Union. He then turned to Russia for a $15 billion aid package that the Kremlin has since suspended because of continuing antigovernment protests in Kiev, the capital.

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Ever since Ukraine became independent as the Soviet Union crumbled in 1991, the United States and Europe have had different aims for the country, a large, troubled nation of 45 million whose very name means “on the edge.”

Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of state for European affairs, said her leaked conversation was “pretty impressive tradecraft.” Gleb Garanich/Reuters

With strategic considerations uppermost in American diplomacy, the United States helped, for instance, to rid Ukraine of old Soviet nuclear weapons. Europe, meanwhile, saw opportunities for trade.

As the European Union expanded eastward with the inclusion of Poland and Romania, the perception grew that neighboring Ukraine needed formal ties to regulate commerce and legal systems to facilitate the growing cross-border transactions. In 2012, Poland and Ukraine were even joint hosts of the continent’s premier sports event, the European soccer championship.

Russia, which has centuries of shared history with Ukraine and under Vladimir V. Putin has grown ever more painfully conscious of its loss of Soviet empire, looked on with mounting suspicion, and now seems to be intent on exploiting Western disarray.

The release of the recordings has further roiled the waters. In the first one, posted anonymously on YouTube, Victoria Nuland, the American assistant secretary of state for European affairs, profanely dismissed European efforts in Ukraine as weak and inadequate to the challenge posed by the Kremlin.

On Friday, a second recording was posted that featured a senior German diplomat, Helga Schmid, complaining in her native tongue to the European Union envoy in Kiev about “unfair” American criticism of Europe’s diplomacy.

“We are not in a race to be the strongest,” retorted the envoy, Jan Tombinski, a Pole. “We have good instruments” for dealing with the crisis.

Yes, replied Ms. Schmid, but journalists were telling European officials that the Americans were running around saying the Europeans were weak. So she advised Mr. Tombinski to have a word with the United States ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, the man whom Ms. Nuland was talking to in her recorded conversation.

While the Obama administration accused the Russians of making mischief by recording and then posting the Nuland conversation, neither the European Union nor Germany blamed the Kremlin for the second recording.

Illustrating how testy relations with Washington have become, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, earlier the target of American monitoring of her cellphone, issued an unusually sharp statement saying that Ms. Nuland’s remarks were “completely unacceptable.”

Germany, as befits its status as Europe’s largest economy and a country with centuries of dealings with lands to its East, has been heavily involved in the crisis over Ukraine. In a speech to the German Parliament on Nov. 18, Ms. Merkel, herself raised in Communist East Germany, emphasized that the Cold War should be over for everyone, including countries once allied with Russia but now independent. She made a forceful case for Ukraine to sign the European pact.Julianne Smith, a former national security aide to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. who is now at the Center for a New American Security, said there was a structural tension between the European Union and the United States because the Americans can speak with one voice and grow impatient waiting for decisions from a union with many voices.

“They all have different sovereign issues, different threat perceptions, different priorities,” she said. “As a result, there has always been this longstanding deep frustration on the part of the United States with the inability to get quick answers, quick responses and broker some sort of U.S.-E.U. agreement on whatever the issue of the day might be.”

The back-and-forth this week illustrates how many interests are a part of the mix in Ukraine — a mix that Western diplomats seem unable to keep free of their own differences.

In the editorial with the headline “Really Pretty Stupid,” Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger, the newspaper’s foreign editor, noted how the latest issue had been stoked by months of “bad blood” with Washington. “You can certainly criticize some parts of European policy toward Ukraine, but it is not as if American diplomacy has found the font of all wisdom. In fact, they can’t think of anything more than a few mini-sanctions against the regime in Kiev.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Frankenberger said, Mr. Putin “should certainly be laughing himself stupid.”

“If a top American diplomat could not care less about the Europeans,” he added, “then he will certainly bear more easily their absence from the opening of the Olympic Games in Sochi. And he will see in Ms. Nuland’s remark, which Moscow presumably disseminated, a confirmation of the bad opinion he already has of Europeans.”

The moral of the tale? “No disparaging remarks about partners on the phone.”

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

Remembering my old roots.

Czernowitz games:
When I was a little boy we played silly games.
 One of these was “Hokus Pokus Verschwindibus. “

  A game that made things disappear.
    The Great Magician was a boy from the Waechterweg.
    He asked we bring some object of value from home and he would make it disappear.
    We just had to hand him the object , close our eyes and he would say the magic formula: “Hokus Pokus Verschwindibus. “
    And the object was gone.
     Also the Magician.

    Hardy Breier of the Czernowitz and Sadagora Jewish History and Genealogy Site.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 24th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 
Via Expo is an organizer of high level international exhibitions and conferences in Bulgaria ( www.via-expo.com ) We will highly appreciate including in your listing the information and new dates of our events to be held in Sofia (Bulgaria) during 5-7 March 2014:
 
10th Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Congress and Exhibition for South-East Europevia-expo.com/en/pages/ee-re-exhibition. It corresponds to the  world trends and presents latest energy efficient solutions, technologies for the production of bio-, hydro, solar, geothermal and wind energy, energy from waste and electric vehicle innovation. The EE & RE Congress will bring together  all relevant players from the Region: from  the energy sector, grid operators and utilities, building industry, finance and state administration.
 
Save the Planet – 5-th Conference and Exhibition on Waste Management, Recycling, Environment for South-East Europevia-expo.com/en/pages/waste-management-recycling-exhibition.  The event encourages the waste and recycling technology transfer to South-East Europe. It will be again a meeting place for executives from the sectors: waste management, recycling, ecology and related industry branches, investors and entrepreneurs; municipal representatives e.g. government officials, mayors, ecologists; branch associations.
 
SEE Solar – South-East European Solar PV & Thermal Exhibition  – via-expo.com/en/pages/see-solar.  In line with recent trends, the 2014 edition will put the focus on the building-integrated photovoltaics and autonomous solar systems in industrial and residential buildings, energy storage products, as well  as  innovative home appliances.
‘Smart Cities’ – South-East European Exhibition & Forumvia-expo.com/en/pages/smart-cities. The  event will focus exclusively on Intelligent Energy, Intelligent Mobility & Transport, Intelligent Emergencies Management and ICT, Intelligent Waste Management. Smart Cities Exhibition and Conference are the logical successor of  Smart Buildings 2013 Expo. The event will be held in parallel to the 10th Forum and Exhibition on Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, Waste Management & Recycling and Solar PV & Thermal Exhibition.
LiftBalkans – South-East European Exhibition on Elevators and Escalatorsvia-expo.com/en/pages/liftbalkans . ‘LiftBalkans’ is the only specialized show in Bulgaria devoted to elevators, escalators, components and accessories, monitoring and safety systems, etc. The event will shape the forthcoming priority directions in the industry development – safety, accessibility and energy efficiency improving. A parallel Seminar will strengthen the networking between attendees and exhibitors which will debate on the new Lift Directive, safety rules and security solutions, noise prevention, retrofitting of the existing lifts, etc. LiftBalkans will be held parallel to events covering close related topics: Energy Efficiency and Smart Cities.
 
5-7 March 2014, Sofia, Bulgaria
Organizer: Via Expo
T/F +359 32 512 900, 960 011

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 4th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

March 3, 2013

Populists or Business (Banking) Lobbyists?

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

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

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

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

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

What are the alternatives?

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

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

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

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

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

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

MUSEUM OF TOLERANCE NEW YORK – ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE UNITED NATIONS

226 East 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017

presents on Thursday, February 21st, 2013

“AMERICA’S SOUL IN THE BALANCE” – a new book about the WWII US Department of State – by Gregory J. Wallace.


DOWNLOAD A FLYER

At the height of World War II, four lawyers in the U.S. Treasury Department discovered that the highly educated, patrician diplomats in the State Department had covered up reports of the Nazi extermination scheme—and then blocked the rescue of 70,000 Romanian Jews forcibly marched into the Nazi-conquered Ukraine and left to die of starvation and disease. The Treasury lawyers charged the diplomats with being “accomplices of Hitler.” The stakes were nothing less than the fates of countless European Jews, the historical reputation of FDR, and the soul of America itself.

Gregory J. Wallance uses rarely cited archival documents, memoirs, diaries, and transcripts to construct this gripping, nonfiction Washington political thriller. With exceptional narrative prowess, he examines the anti-Semitism and extraordinary heartlessness of the wartime State Department, whose behavior is a cautionary tale for world leaders weighing the costs of intervention to stop genocide.

The author is a partner at the law firm of Kaye Scholer LLP in New York; a former federal prosecutor; and the author of Two Men Before the Storm and Papa’s Game. He was a producer of the HBO movie “Sakharov,” which was an outgrowth of a 1979 human rights mission to the Soviet Union in which he represented families of refuseniks – Jews punished for attempting to emigrate to Israel – and personally presented legal petitions on their behalf to Soviet authorities.

Jessica Lang is Associate Professor of English and the William Newman Director of the Jewish Studies Center. Her specialization is in contemporary Jewish Literature, early American fiction, and women’s fiction.

$10.00 – General Admission

PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS ONLINE

Seating is limited. Registration is required.

For more information contact Melissa Hooper via email or call (212) 697-1180 ext. 102

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 15th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Yesterday I saw on TV a series of interviews in a hamlet in Texas where President Obama got only 5 votes while his opponent got 239 votes. It was said that this was the most one-sided voting-booth in the recent elections.The only person the journalist found who voted for Obama was afraid to give his name. Those that proudly acknowledged voting for Mr. Romney – simple people and not of high income – contended that the President was dictatorial, not a true American, not a Christian believer, he allows immigration that dilutes the values of the country … etc. This reminded me about The New York Times article that looked at the voting in the Ukraine. Antisemitism, not a factor yet in the US – but it can be banked upon that this sort of evolution will make it a factor as well. The attack on US military leadership and on the performance of the US government after the very serious mishap in Benghazi may be further proof that ultra-Nationalist elements in the US are on a roll again. The foot soldiers in such movements obviously do not come from the 1% of the extreme rich that help finance this.

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Ukraine’s Ultranationalists Show Surprising Strength at Polls.

By
Published: November 8, 2012

KIEV, Ukraine — The last time Oleg Tyagnibok was a member of Ukraine’s Parliament, his colleagues kicked him out over a fiery speech in which he described how Ukrainians, during World War II, bravely fought Muscovites, Germans, Jews “and other scum,” and then used slurs to refer to the “Jewish-Russian mafia, which rules in Ukraine.”

Eight years later, Mr. Tyagnibok is preparing to return to Parliament, not as a lone member of a broader coalition, as he was when he was ejected, but as the leader of Svoboda, the ultranationalist, right-wing party that will control 38 of 450 seats, or about 8.5 percent of the national legislature.

Svoboda’s surprising show of strength in the Oct. 29 election — polls had predicted that the party would fail to meet the 5 percent threshold to enter Parliament — has stirred alarm, including warnings from Israel about the rise of anti-Semitism and xenophobia in Ukraine, a former Soviet republic and a place with a firsthand knowledge of ethnic violence and genocide.

But in an interview in the downtown office building that Svoboda shares with an insurance company and a dental clinic named Smile, Mr. Tyagnibok said that fear of his party was misplaced and the accusations of racism and extremism unfounded.

“Svoboda is not an anti-Semitic party,” he said, seated behind a desk, a sport jacket stretched by his barrel-sized chest, his huge hands folded in front of him, speaking slowly and firmly in Ukrainian. “Svoboda is not a xenophobic party. Svoboda is not an anti-Russian party. Svoboda is not an anti-European party. Svoboda is simply and only a pro-Ukrainian party. And that’s it.”

Of course, that was not it.

Mr. Tyagnibok was just beginning to demonstrate the smooth charm that has helped Svoboda, which means “Freedom,” build support beyond its traditional stronghold in the Ukrainian-speaking west.

Tall, with beefy good looks, Mr. Tyagnibok, 44, who is a urological surgeon by training, has used his party’s pro-Ukrainian message to tap into frustration over the country’s stalled economy and growing disillusionment with the government of President Viktor F. Yanukovich.

From Mr. Tyagnibok’s frequent appearances on television talk shows, emphasizing national sovereignty and warning of encroachment by neighboring Russia, most viewers might never discern that some of his party’s members are unabashed neo-Nazis, while others shun the label but nonetheless espouse virulent hatred of Jews, gays and especially Russians.

Researchers who specialize in extremism say it is a talent shared by other leaders of far-right parties and has helped bring them into the mainstream in many European countries, including Hungary, Poland and Romania.

“This is a common phenomenon within these parties, that they have a front-stage image and a backstage agenda,” said Andreas Umland, an expert at the National University in Kiev. “The internal discourse, from what we can only suspect, is much more radical and xenophobic than what we see.” He added, “This is all much more radical.”

In the interview at his office, Mr. Tyagnibok said Svoboda’s message was only positive. “We do call ourselves nationalists,” he said. “Our view is love. Love of our land. Love of the people who live on this land. This is love to your wife and your home and your family. So, it’s love to your mother. Can this feeling be bad?”

“Our nationalism does not imply hatred to anybody,” he continued. “We formed a political party to protect the rights of Ukrainians, but not to the detriment of representatives of other nation.” He added, “So, if you ask about philosophy to be explained in two words: We are not against anyone. We are for ourselves.”

For a long time, they were for themselves and mostly by themselves. In the previous parliamentary election, in 2007, Svoboda received less than three-quarters of 1 percent of the vote, and that was an improvement. Until 2004, Svoboda was called the Social-Nationalist Party, which critics said was just a word flip of its true ambitions.

Born in Lviv, sometimes called the capital of the western, Europe-oriented Ukraine, Mr. Tyagnibok said he was raised to hate Communists, in part because his paternal grandfather was a victim of oppression under Stalin. He got his start in politics as a student organizer in the late 1980s, attended medical school and has been a member of the nationalist party from its inception in the early 1990s.

He served six years in Parliament, from 1998 until he was ejected in 2004. In 2001, with Ukrainian voters growing increasingly frustrated with the status quo, Svoboda made major gains in local and regional elections. Some voters who supported Svodboda said they believed that the party could present the strongest challenge to President Yanukovich. Many said they did not view the party as extreme.

“Those people who supported Svoboda in these elections, they don’t support racism, anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism,” said Vyacheslav Likhachev, who monitors extremism for the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress. “They support Svoboda because every vote for Svoboda was a vote against the ruling government.”

Still, Mr. Likhachev said, Svoboda’s rise was not a positive development for Ukraine. “It is bad for society,” he said.

In the days before the vote, Mr. Tyagnibok signed an agreement to work with other opposition parties, including the Fatherland party of the jailed former prime minister, Yulia V. Tymoshenko. Ms. Tymoshenko, who was barred from the ballot this year, recently began a hunger strike to protest what she said was fraud in the elections.

Mr. Tyagnibok’s ties to Ms. Tymoshenko and former President Viktor Yushchenko date to before Ukraine’s Orange Revolution in 2004, which Mr. Tyagnibok and other nationalists supported. Critics of the alliance say that it will give Svoboda more power than it would have on its own, and grant it further legitimacy as a mainstream faction.

Although his occasional use of ethnic and religious epithets is well documented — there was the 2004 speech to supporters, and in 2005, his public signing of an open letter to President Yushchenko and others demanding an end to “criminal activities of organized Jewry in Ukraine” — Mr. Tyagnibok called the allegations of hate speech “a fantasy and a serious exaggeration.”

The general prosecutor charged him with inciting ethnic hatred, but the case was dropped after the Orange Revolution. “In 2004, I was accused of anti-Semitism, but I won in all the court cases,” Mr. Tyagnibok said.

Mr. Tyagnibok said nationalist parties were enjoying a renaissance in Europe because of the Continent’s financial problems, as well as conflicts with Muslim immigrants in countries like Italy, France and Spain. “Europe is change,” he said. “Economic failures make people look for reasons.”

But he said it was all for the best. “In our view the ideal is to see Europe as one big flower bed full of different flowers, with Ukraine as one of the most beautiful flowers in it,” Mr. Tyagnibok said. “It has its own scent, its own beauty. It is different from other flowers, but it is in the same flower bed.”

He waved away any thought of nationalist strife. “Just imagine one nationalist talking to another nationalist,” he said. “There should be no problems between them. Everybody respects their interests, and everybody understands we live in one big world.”

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Also today’s:

Veteran F.B.I. Agent Helped Start Petraeus E-Mail Inquiry.

By , and ALAIN DELAQUÉRIÈRE
Published: November 14, 2012

DOVER, Fla. — The F.B.I. agent who spurred the investigation that led to the resignation of David H. Petraeus as C.I.A. director is a “hard-charging” veteran who helped investigate the foiled millennium terrorist plot in 1999, colleagues said on Wednesday.

Frederick W. Humphries II helped start the inquiry that led to the resignation of David H. Petraeus, center, as C.I.A. director and ensnared the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John R. Allen, left, shown with Leon E. Panetta in 2011.

The agent, Frederick W. Humphries II, 47, is also described by former colleagues as relentless in his pursuit of what he sees as wrongdoing, which appears to describe his role in the F.B.I. investigation involving Mr. Petraeus. Suspecting that the case involved serious security issues and was being stalled, possibly for political reasons — a suspicion his superiors say was unjustified — he took his concerns to Congressional Republicans.

“Fred is a passionate kind of guy,” one former colleague said. “He’s kind of an obsessive type. If he locked his teeth onto something, he’d be a bulldog.”

The question of how and why the F.B.I. opened the investigation that has had such momentous consequences has been central from the moment Mr. Petraeus stepped down Friday. The emerging portrait of the agent who initiated the inquiry is another step toward an answer.

Mr. Humphries, who was identified on Wednesday by law enforcement colleagues, took the initial complaint from Jill Kelley, a Tampa woman active in local military circles and a personal friend, about anonymous e-mails that accused her of inappropriately flirtatious behavior toward Mr. Petraeus.

The subsequent cyberstalking investigation uncovered an extramarital affair between Mr. Petraeus and Paula Broadwell, his biographer, who agents determined had sent the anonymous e-mails. It also ensnared Gen. John R. Allen, the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, after F.B.I. agents discovered what a law enforcement official said on Wednesday were sexually explicit e-mail exchanges between him and Ms. Kelley.

A spokesman for Ms. Kelley provided her version of events in two conference calls with reporters on Wednesday. Ms. Kelley’s concern when she took the e-mails to Mr. Humphries was that she feared the sender was “stalking” Mr. Petraeus and General Allen, said the spokesman, who asked not to be identified.

“She asks the agent, ‘What do you make of this?’ ” the spokesman said. “The agent said: ‘This is serious. They seem to know the comings and goings of a couple of generals.’ ”

General Allen himself had received a similar anonymous e-mail message, sent by someone identified as “kelleypatrol,” advising him to stay away from Ms. Kelley. The general forwarded it to Ms. Kelley, and they discussed a concern that someone was cyberstalking them.

On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said he had asked the Senate to postpone a confirmation hearing for General Allen’s next assignment while the department’s inspector general reviewed his e-mail correspondence with Ms. Kelley, which was discovered by F.B.I. agents investigating her initial complaint.

Pentagon officials said the review covered more than 10,000 pages of documents that included “inappropriate” messages. But associates of General Allen have said that the two exchanged about a dozen e-mails a week since meeting two years ago and that his messages were affectionate but platonic.

A law enforcement official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, disputed that assertion on Wednesday, saying some messages were clearly sexual. Investigators were confident “the nature of the content warranted passing them on” to the inspector general, the official said.

In a statement on Wednesday, General Allen’s military counsel said he intended to cooperate fully with the inspector general’s investigation. “To the extent there are questions about certain communications by General Allen, he shares in the desire to resolve those questions as completely and quickly as possible,” said the statement from Col. John G. Baker, the chief defense counsel of the Marine Corps.

The F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, and the deputy director, Sean Joyce, briefed leaders of the Senate and House intelligence committees about the investigation. Mr. Petraeus is expected to speak to the panel behind closed doors on Friday about the attack on the American Mission in Benghazi, Libya. The events leading to his resignation are certain to come up.

A Pentagon official said the security clearance of Ms. Broadwell, a West Point graduate and officer in the Army Reserve, had been suspended pending the outcome of the F.B.I. investigation. F.B.I. agents on Monday night carried boxes of documents and a computer out of the house she shares with her husband and two sons. The law enforcement official said that Ms. Broadwell had cooperated with investigators in their effort to remove all classified material, which by law cannot be kept in an insecure facility.

The officials said Ms. Kelley was no longer permitted to enter MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa “with a wave,” as she has for years as a regular volunteer and visitor to ranking officers there. Now she has to get approval and sign in at the visitor’s gate, the official said.

Ms. Kelley, whose house has been besieged by reporters and television crews, has called 911 several times to complain about snooping reporters, according to tapes and transcripts of the calls posted on the Web. In at least one call, she asked for “diplomatic protection,” saying she is an “honorary consul general,” a designation she reportedly received from South Korean diplomats.

By all accounts, Mr. Humphries doggedly pursued Ms. Kelley’s cyberstalking complaint. Though he was not assigned to the case, he was admonished by supervisors who thought he was trying to improperly insert himself into the investigation.

In late October, fearing that the case was being stalled for political reasons, Mr. Humphries contacted Representative Dave Reichert, a Republican from Washington State, where the F.B.I. agent had worked previously, to inform him of the case. Mr. Reichert put him in touch with the House majority leader, Eric Cantor, who passed the message to Mr. Mueller.

Lawrence Berger, the general counsel for the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, who spoke with Mr. Humphries, said Mr. Humphries only received the information from Ms. Kelley and never played a role in the investigation.

Mr. Berger said Mr. Humphries and his wife had been “social friends with Ms. Kelley and her husband prior to the day she referred the matter to him.”

“They always socialized and corresponded,” he said.

Mr. Berger took issue with news media reports that said his client had sent shirtless pictures of himself to Ms. Kelley.

“That picture was sent years before Ms. Kelley contacted him about this, and it was sent as part of a larger context of what I would call social relations in which the families would exchange numerous photos of each other,” Mr. Berger said.

The photo was sent as a joke, he said, and was of Mr. Humphries “posing with a couple of dummies.” Mr. Berger added that it was not sexual in nature.

Two former law enforcement colleagues said Mr. Humphries was a solid agent with experience in counterterrorism. He has conservative political views and a reputation for being aggressive, they said.

Colleagues and news reports described the role of Mr. Humphries, who in 1999 was in his third year at the F.B.I., in building the case against Ahmed Ressam, who was detained as he tried to enter the United States from Canada with a plan to set off a bomb at Los Angeles International Airport.

In May 2010, after he had moved to the Tampa field office, Mr. Humphries fatally shot a knife-wielding man near a gate of MacDill Air Force base. A state prosecutor declined to prosecute the case, and the Justice Department’s civil rights division and an internal F.B.I. review board each also found that the use of force had been justified, according to bureau records.

A large American flag was flying on Wednesday in front of Mr. Humphries’s house in Dover, a half-hour drive from Tampa. A man standing in the driveway who appeared to be Mr. Humphries, approached by a reporter seeking comment, said his first name was not Fred. The man then walked into the house, closed the front door and did not respond to the doorbell.

In regard to his client’s speaking with Mr. Cantor, Mr. Berger declined to address the issue, saying only that his client “had followed F.B.I. protocols.”

“No one tries to become a whistle-blower,” he said. “Consistent with F.B.I. policy, he referred it to the proper component.”

A law enforcement official said disclosing a confidential investigation even to Congress members could sometimes violate F.B.I. rules. The official said that Mr. Humphries’s conduct was under review and that he had not been punished in any way.

On Wednesday, Mr. Cantor said he had no intention of “politicizing” the tip from Mr. Humphries, whom he did not name. “The information that was sent to me sounded as if there was a potential for a national security vulnerability,” Mr. Cantor said.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 7th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

ROMNEY SWITCHING TO THE CENTER SO HE CAN HAVE A POTENTIALLY WINNING POSITION BY REVIVING MODERATE REPUBLICANISM AND LEAVING THE RHINOCEROZATION BEHIND AS HIS LEGACY TO EXTREME REPUBLICANISM.

THE EXPLANATION AS PER FAREED ZAKARIA:

A greater challenge to Obama than a strong debater.

Watch “Fareed Zakaria GPS” Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

By Fareed Zakaria

Sometimes the conventional wisdom is right. Minutes after the Denver presidential debate, the pundits declared Mitt Romney the clear winner.
And he was. He seemed engaged, forceful and punchy. President Obama seemed passive, detached and glum.

But what’s more significant than how Romney said things was what he said.

Romney repeatedly insisted that he was not advocating a big tax cut. In fact, he declared unequivocally that he would not cut taxes at all if they added to the deficit at all. Now, as the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler points out in his fact checking column, for two years Romney has been campaigning on a tax cut that that would cost around $5 trillion over 10 years. Romney does claim that he would eliminate deductions and cut spending to pay for it but he hasn’t given any details. Well, he offered one at the debate. He would cut funding for public broadcasting, which was 0.01% of federal spending in 2012 {Including moderator Lehrer’s job and Big Bird – PJ}. Medicare was 13%.

But, anyway that appears to be off the table. Romney is also in favor of regulations, including parts of the Dodd-Frank bill, and repeatedly held up as a model his health care plan in Massachusetts, which has at its center the individual mandate, and on which Obamacare is based.

Romney’s transformation did not happen overnight. The candidate has been reworking his stump speech. In a very smart analysis, NPR pointed out that Romney now has a five-point stump speech.

The first four points are actually identical to Barack Obama’s stump speech: he argues for (1) Exports (2) Domestic energy (3) Retraining and (4) Deficit reduction.

It’s only on the 5th that they diverge. Romney talks about small businesses, Obama about national security.

I’ve long argued that Romney is an intelligent man trapped in a party that has forced him to embrace extreme and impossible positions. One of his advisers had predicted that once the Republican primaries were over, Romney would erase the image from the primaries and, like an Etch-a-Sketch, just draw a new one. Well, he appears to be doing just that. The Republican Party might hate Obama enough and be frustrated enough, to wink and let him do it.

If so, Obama faces something far more challenging than a good debater in the last weeks of the campaign. He faces a moderate Republican.



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

Background:

Mitt Romney Wins All-Important BS Contest

By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

06 October 12

didn’t watch the debate – I just couldn’t. I read it in transcript form afterwards. I know it is widely believed that Mitt Romney won, but I don’t agree. I think both candidates lost. I think they both sucked. Romney told a series of outright lies – the bit about the pre-existing conditions was incredible – while Barack Obama seemed unaccountably disinterested in the intellectual challenge of the exercise, repeatedly leaving the gross absurdities hurled his way by Romney unchallenged.

Romney’s performance was better than Obama’s, but only if you throw out criteria like “wasn’t 100% full of shit from the opening bell” and “made an actual attempt to explain who he is and what his plans are.” Unfortunately, that is good enough for our news media, which drools over the gamesmanship aspects of these debates, because it loves candidates who sink their teeth into the horse-race nonsense that they think validates their professional lives.

For instance: in my local paper, the Star-Ledger in New Jersey, I read an analysis entitled, “Romney’s debate performance was presidential game changer, analysts say.”

The unnamed authors of this analysis delivered a blizzard of sports metaphors about Romney’s performance. “It’s a new race for the White House,” they said, after Romney “changed the game with an aggressive, confident performance” – needed, because “Obama’s forces had hinted earlier that all they needed from the debate was one good punch to knock Romney out,” after the challenger “spent the summer and early fall stumbling.”

On the internet, they complemented this keen analysis with a cartoon picture of the two candidates as superheroes punching each other, complete with “Pow!” and “Bam!” Batman-style effects.

Why was Romney so effective, according to the Star-Ledger? Because “the Romney viewers saw during the nationally televised debate from Denver was the one his friends have long known: a conversational, smart, decent-on-his-feet guy, eager to defend his plans to cut taxes and change government health insurance for future generations.”

Obama, meanwhile, came off as “wonky and lacking punch,” because he was “so intent on answering questions.”

The piece literally had nothing to say about the substance or accuracy of the two arguments. Like, not one thing. It did, however, speculate that Obama might be in trouble if his performance ended up getting parodied on the Daily Show, because he might end up with a reputation for being “too academic, too cold and uneasy with being challenged.”

What the hell does any of this have to do with being president? It’s one thing for reporters to talk shop behind the scenes about which candidate they think is doing a better job of slinging bull. But to legitimize it as real is just nuts.

Analysts like this were, however, right in a way. Romney did come across as the more confident and aggressive candidate, and Obama did come across as “wonky” and “lacking punch.” Just visually and dramatically, Romney met the spectacle on its terms better than Obama did, much the way John F. Kennedy did in his celebrated debate with Richard Nixon. In that legendary meeting, radio viewers thought Nixon won, but TV viewers, blown away by Kennedy’s smile and tan, thought was a landslide for the Democrat.

Journalists who cite that Nixon-Kennedy debate always forget that the lesson of that night is that the new broadcast media technology made superficiality and nonsense more important – that thanks to the press, it was now possible to get someone elected to the most powerful office on earth because he had a superior tan. Reporters love this story because it reminds everyone that the medium they work in has the power to overcome substance and decide elections all by itself. What’s amazing is that they don’t have the good sense to be ashamed of this.

I read the transcript of the debate and all I got from Romney was either outright factual lies, or total rhetorical dishonesty. He even tried out a version of the for-years-debunked death panel business:

In order to bring the cost of health care down, we don’t need to have a – an – a board of 15 people telling us what kinds of treatments we should have.

Really? Hey, Mitt – what do you think health insurance is? It is, by definition, a bunch of people deciding what kinds of treatments we should have.

Of course, Romney’s point is that there’s allegedly going to be a bloodless government board somewhere deciding upon treatment options, as opposed to some bloodless corporate board making those decisions, but even that’s not true at all. Romney was talking about the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which exists solely to make cuts in Medicare if its costs rise beyond a certain level and congress doesn’t do anything about them.

That board is specifically barred by law from making the kinds of care decisions Romney is talking about. Obama did at least point this out, but weakly, and that’s not even the point. I mean, practically in the same breath of his “unelected board” attack, Romney criticized Obama’s plan because it cut Medicare. So he’s clearly not against government bureaucrats making decisions about treatment, because what the hell does Romney think Medicare does? He should try getting an eye job and billing Medicare for it. The whole thing was a non-sequitur, insincere and substantively meaningless – but if you had no clue what you were watching, it looked like Romney was confidently attacking and Obama was backtracking.

Romney’s entire debate performance was like this. He said absolutely nothing, but got lots of credit for style points. Here’s Romney’s answer on what budget cuts he would make, addressing perhaps-soon-to-be-ex-PBS employee, Jim Lehrer:

I’m sorry, Jim. I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m going to stop other things. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you too. But I’m not going to – I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it. That’s number one.

Number two, I’ll take programs that are currently good programs but I think could be run more efficiently at the state level and send them to state.

Number three, I’ll make government more efficient, and to cut back the number of employees, combine some agencies and departments. My cutbacks will be done through attrition, by the way.

So the answer to the question, “What will you do to rein in the biggest budget deficit in history?” comes down to, “I’ll cut PBS, which is about one millionth of the federal budget, and some other stuff.”

For God’s sake – “I’ll take programs that could be run more efficiently at state and send them to state”? Is that a joke? That’s worse than a Bill Belichick answer: “What’s our plan against the Broncos? We’re going to watch the film and do what’s best for our football team.”

Reporters should have instantly pelted Romney with bags of dogshit for insulting the American people with this ridiculous non-answer, but he was instead praised for the canny “strategy” hidden in the response. Despite the fact that Romney is running as a budget hawk and yet has refused to name any actual programs (except Obamacare and PBS) he will cut, reporters gave him credit in the debate for being willing to be the bearer of bad budgetary news, because he essentially advance-fired Jim Lehrer on TV. Many also complimented the “humor” of the line about Big Bird.

Typically, Obama is the recipient of the breathless media plaudits for meaningless imageneering and iconography, but Romney scooped it all up this time. Ugh. At least there are only two more!

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

Eugene Ionesco, of Romanian background with a French mother that had converted from Judaism, according to other information she was Romanian-Greek-Jewish and from Craiova, who lived in France when his parents first met. He survived the Nazi period by being allowed to to go to France in 1942 before the war was over – so he had personal experiences with totalitarianism – the fascist Iron Guard in Bucharest and the Vichy collaborators and Nazism in France. His close friends included Romanian intellectuals Emil Cioran and Mircea Eliade, he met at college and the three became lifelong friends though Eliade was later known as an anti-Semitic Rhinoceros.

When he started to write he concocted the Berenger figure that appears frequently in his “absurdist” plays. Bérenger is a semi-autobiographical figure expressing Ionesco’s wonderment and anguish at the strangeness of reality. He is comically naïve, engaging the audience’s sympathy.

In Rhinoceros which he finished in 1959 he denounces totalitarianism by showing how easy, and perhaps even pleasing it is to fall in line and fit in with the others.  In the end, even his girl friend leaves him and joins the rest – he is the only man left standin – he is the Berenger in the play.

The best staging of Rhinoceros was probably the one of 1961 with Zero Mostel on Broadway. Eli Wallach was Jean – the other protagonist. When Ionesco, who was never before produced in the US was conversing with the French speaking Zero Mostel – later of the Fiddler on the Roof fame – they spoke in Yiddish – an issue that puts to rest the dispute about Ionesco’s ethnic background as his own daughter disputed the Jewish background of her father’s mother. There is no doubt in my mind that the play is just about totaliarinism and how easy it is for people to fall into this trap. In effect this is the precondition to Hanna Arendt’s “Banality of Evil” that can, but does not have to, lead to consequences of types like Eichman – the executioners of an ideology with followers that their only sin was to fall in line.

I enlarged on the above because I totally refuse to accept the larger interpretation the new director of the play, Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota. is suggesting, that because the Rhinoceros is viewed as  dangerous, disturbing, or destroying everything in his path, he can be viewed as well in modern terms of 9/11, widespread terrorism, the collapse of some tyrants in Africa, and the criminal persistence of another one in Syria, as well as  earthquakes, cyclones, tsunamis, climate change? No – I do not accept the inclusion of the latter, but I have some other ideas that came to my mind.

The Rhinoceros is not the person involved directly in an action – he is not the active terrorist – rather the person ready to fit into a cult – this because it is cozy to belong to the club that everybody else is ready to belong to.

So here we have the people who watched the First debate and were ready to see in it a boxing game without paying any attention to the possibility of a content on higher level in this game. These people – led by the media – called the score and the result followed by Rhinos that left the Obama Berenger wondering where did all those go? He did not fight back as he believed the truth will come out anyway – and by god – coming out it will indeed.

I did not believe my ears when I heard the words “IDLERS AND UNEMPLOYED” (- you know those infamous 47% -) being uttered in the analysis of the happening by a logicist who tried to make sense of the situation talking about cat-paws and the logic that if a dog has 4 paws he must be a cat. So what about the pachyderm who trampled a cat?

That settles the Obama and the Rhino identities, but what about Romney? He is not Jean who is among the first to become a Rhino, he is simply a pragmatist who managed to cheat the Republican Right into electing him as their representative and now will court some of the Rhinos in order to back him in the final count accepting him as moderate Republican, America is becoming more and more a heard of permanent Rhinos – in order to survive America will do better by canceling the idea of two terms for the Presidency that creates a continuing election campaign, and replace it with a one term only 6 years Presidency.

The Ionesco play, in light French with English subtitles, charged into the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the revered Brooklyn Opera House BAM building, from the Theatre de la Ville of Paris, for a three days sojourn October 4-6, 2012, just in time to teach us something about us growing Rhinoceros horns. Clearly – they did their thing – will we learn from the theater experience and decide not to Rhinocerise? In horror I watched some friends and relatives Rhinocerise – will they stay on that path by saying it is all in name of pragmatism?

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 27th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From the Czernowitz Internet List that provided us with the jewish-voice-from-germany.de/cms/  and

ARTS AND CULTURE Nadine Weissmann A Jewish Berliner in Wagner’s Bayreuth

An interview with mezzo-soprano Nadine Weissmann…

A Jewish Berliner in Wagner’s Bayreuth.

by Sabine Dultz   –   July 4, 2012.

A conversation with mezzo-soprano Nadine Weissmann: “Suddenly I realized – this is my voice”

She is a native Berliner with dual citizenship – English and German – and she speaks four languages – German, English, French, and the language of song. Nadine Weissmann, a young mezzo-soprano, leads an international lifestyle. On the one hand, it comes with the job. Anyone who wants to make it as an opera singer has to be present in the world’s music centers. That means participating in competitions, performing at festivals, and always being ready for the call to perform on a stage anywhere in the world, whether in Glyndebourne, Weimar, Barcelona or Bayreuth.

On the other hand, Nadine Weissmann was practically born with extra pages in her passport.

Her parents and grandparents are Romanian Jews from Bucharest and the former Austro-Hungarian cultural metropolis Czernowitz (Chernivtsi), which was once the center of German-Romanian Bukovina, the home of the legendary tenor Joseph Schmidt. The latter was a cantor at the main Synagogue in Czernowitz before he launched his global career, in the late 1920s in Berlin, as a singer of classic roles. In 1933, Schmidt had to flee Germany. He died tragically in an internment camp in Switzerland in 1942. Today, the Berliner Nadine Weissmann says her paternal grandmother, Alma Wagner, was one of Joseph Schmidt’s voice students in Czernowitz. And so it comes full circle.

Judaism is a part of me

Nadine Weissmann has no doubt that she belongs in Berlin. After all, she was born here. “This is my home,” she says, calmly and casually. For her parents, it was not that simple. The family’s path to Berlin included stations in the ghetto and work camps, witnessing murder and enduring flight, and expulsion. “I was very lucky,” says Weissmann, considering the political upheaval and crimes of the past century, “that I grew up with all four of my grandparents.”

Her mother’s family left communist Romania in 1959 and settled in Bristol, England. Her father, Eduard Weissmann, emigrated with his parents to Düsseldorf in the early 1960s. After graduating from the University of Music in Cologne, he joined the RIAS Symphony Orchestra in Berlin (now Deutsches Symphonieorchester) as a cellist when the city was still divided into East and West by a wall. It was his first job as an orchestra musician, and he remained there until he retired. When he proposed to Gabriele, the love of his life, whom he had met in Romania, she packed her bags and moved from England to Germany. That was about 40 years ago. Has Berlin also become her parents’ home? “They will probably never feel that they belong 100 percent in this beautiful city,” says their daughter.

A Jewish woman in Berlin. For Nadine Weissmann that was just an everyday fact, nothing special. Of course, she went to the Jewish kindergarten. It took her a while to realize that not every kindergarten in the city is guarded by the police. Of her family, she says, “We are a very secular household, but we visit the synagogue on the high holidays and travel to Israel on a somewhat regular basis. Judaism is more of a cultural and spiritual identity for me than a religion. Still, it will always be a part of me. Growing up in a family that speaks so many different languages and comes from so many different countries really shaped me.”

A revelation

Nadine Weissmann went to the bilingual John F. Kennedy School and grew up speaking German and English. Her friends were there, and even as a little girl she had plenty of opportunities to participate in her favorite activities – singing and acting. Visiting her grandparents once in England, she saw the fi lm “Funny Girl.” “I knew that someday I wanted to do what Barbra Streisand was doing on that screen,” she says. When she made this decision, Nadine Weissmann was just five years old – but she has stayed the course. She never completely ruled out the musicals genre, at least in the early years of her career.

{The photo above we assume is from Carmen – the final moments. PJ’s Comment}

Since she didn’t want to submit to the kind of compartmentalized thinking that persisted in the cultural sphere in Germany, she went to London after high school to train as a singer. At that time, she, along with everyone else, believed she was a soprano. After her graduation four years later, she left for the United States to earn a Master’s degree in opera singing at the University of Indiana in Bloomington. The music school there is considered an exemplary modern institute, with a stage and auditorium modeled on that of the Metropolitan Opera in New York. The students in Bloomington produce eight operas per year.

Weissmann studied with Virginia Zeani, an opera singer who also happened to come from Romania. During their second lesson, she told Weissmann that she was not a soprano, but a mezzo-soprano. It was like a revelation, she says, “A stone dropped from my heart. She taught me everything over again, starting from the beginning. Finally, I was singing the sound that I always suspected was inside of me. Suddenly I knew – this is my voice.” The discovery opened up a whole new repertoire for the young singer. “These roles, these fabulous, spirited personae, were so much more me than the soprano roles, eternally loving and suffering on the stage, and then of course dying. Weissmann was much more attuned to enigmatic, passionate, and sometimes dark women like Carmen, the role she sang in her fi rst engagement at the Osnabrück Theater. “Returning home after my studies was the right thing to do, because the opera scene in Europe and especially in Germany is much more alive than that in the United States.”

She remained in Osnabrück for two-and-a-half years after her debut there. At the time, only fi ve Jews lived in the northern German city, after the ravages of the war and Nazi rule. Today, there are nearly 1100, and Jewish life is once again present in Osnabrück.

Weissman’s years at a theater that presents opera, operettas, musicals, drama, and ballet was a time for learning and trying out new things, where she had the opportunity to conquer her first roles without too much scrutiny. And she learned all too quickly what was good for her voice and what was not. Of the three our four different roles she would sing each week, mastering 13 roles in twoand- a-half years, Weissman says, “you are just happy to survive that as a singer. I’ve always trusted my instinct to leave when the time comes,” she says. She left in 2004.

Booked for Wagner

The Nationaltheater in Weimar was an important stepping-stone in Weissman’s career. Weimar is world-famous as the city of Goethe, and it is still brimming with culture and an international flair. Here, Weissmann had her first encounter with Richard Wagner. “I never would have thought,” she admits, “that Wagner would one day play such a major role in my career as a singer.”

In 2006, she was engaged for the entire Ring cycle in Weimar. “The ‘Ring’ was one of the most unbelievable experiences of my life,” she admits. She played Erda in “Rheingold,” a Valkyrie, Erda in “Siegfried” and Waltraute in “Götterdämmerung.” Does it get any better for a singer? The staging in Weimar was filmed for Arthaus and a DVD version went “a bit” global, according to Weissmann.

She has since bid farewell to Weimar, but the “Ring” has stayed with her.

Barcelona is coming up, and the Wagner Festival in Bayreuth has booked her for its new “Ring” in 2013. Kirill Petrenko, the Maestro renowned all over the world and future Music Director of the Bavarian State Opera, will conduct. Nadine Weissman is already very excited about next summer: “A Jewish girl from Berlin singing in Bayreuth for a Jewish conductor … now that’s really something.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 19th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

ic.pics.livejournal.com/whasup/9748234/6126780/original.jpg

The  old Czernowitz we see today was built in
the second half of the 19 th century by the Austrians.
Beautiful facades but shabby backyards to accommodate
as many lower middle  working class population as possible.
Mostly Jewish.

Czernowitz was getting industrialized.
New factories were popping up every other day:
Saw mills, textiles, breweries, soap, sausage, matzes,   lapzedeckel and laptops.
New shops , eateries , beerhalls ,hotels were created.
The Jews were moving up from the  Judenstadt.
Nothing could stop them.
Unchanged it stands so up to now.
If you visit Czernowitz go and see them.
In some court you may find my slingshot.

The word Czernowitz brings up following connections
in my mind sorted by priority:
1. Deportation
2. Ghetto
3. Shooting
4. Hunger
5. Cold
6. Soviets
7. Repatriation
8. School
9. Friends
10. Smell of the lilac blossom in the spring.
In this order.
Do you love Czernowitz ?

Hardy


———————————-

In Czernowitz everybody made Powidla.
It was made from plums . In Bukovina there were a lot of plums.
Many plum trees were in public places and you could pick them for free.
But usually we bought the Slyvo at the house gate.
Then the big cauldron was brought down into the yard.
The plums were cleaned  the stone removed and then cut into pieces.
The it was boiled in water and stirred until the desired density.
Some added sugar.
Then it went into jars.
In winter we ate this spread on dark bread over a layer of butter .
Also fine  for making Pirogen.

PS. Povidla could also be used for catching flies.

Hardy

“FROM RUTH’S KITCHEN WITH LOVE”

POWIDLA( Lekvar/Prune jam)

Dear Powidla lovers,
Since  we are on the subject POWIDLA, I am happy to offer you  the recipe from
my cookbook, which will taste just like the original one  made from  fresh
plums.

The Hungarian name for Powidla is LEKVAR (Prune   Butter), a version of which is
available in the supermarkets but does  not taste like the one we are used to.

1   lb  dried prunes
1   lb   sugar
6    oranges
2    bay leaves
2    tablespoons    honey

Put  the pitted prunes in a pot and cover with water. Cook on low heat
until tender. When cool, puree them in a food processor or  blender.
Return to pot, add the juice of the 6  oranges, the sugar and the bay
leaves. Cook stirring constantly  until mixture gets thick. Cool and fill
several jars with the  prune jam. Can be kept refrigerated for many
months.

Ruth Glasberg Gold

(our comment – do not think they had oranges and bay leaves in Czernowitz –
thus this must be a modernized version perfected in Israel and Florida.)

Well, you started it and I guess it’s because in Israel the “Sagiv” (the
Israeli version of plums) season started . We lived in a house in
Novoselitsa with a big backyard where quite a lot of fruit trees grew. Among
them also plum trees that yielded (as far as I can judge after 72 years)
something like 500-700 kilograms of fruit. This small plantation was tended
through the year by 3-4 farmer women (one of them my wet nurse) whom we hired on the base that they get
all the surplus harvest that we didn’t use. When the picking of the plums
was finished a few huge vessels were brought and acordingly big fires were
lit in a free space of the backyard. The vessels filled with plums were hung
over the fires and the process of making povidla (including the stirring)
lasted over the night by “our” women aided by friends with my mother serving
refreshments. Always on the Sunday after the distribution of povidla (but sometimes on other Sundays too),
I was taken by the coachman Mishu to a square to watch the farmers dance “Horah” at the “Joc” (a dance festivity).
When I was put by the British in detention camps in Cyprus, I was very much surprised that they called the Israeli dances “Horah” too.

Our relation with those Romanian women was very close and they used to come to our house in the evenings after the shearing of the sheep with small bales of shorn wool and their spindles and sat for hours spinning the wool thread that my mother would buy from them .

It was a peaceful and friendly atmosphere. In 1940 we went back to Czernowitz in order to avoid being deported to Siberia by the Soviets. Maybe this saved our lives, because when the Romanian returned in 1941 – 839 jews were massacred in the first two days, houses were burned, and plundered, and after 3 weeks all the remaining Jews were driven to Transnistria where many if not most of them perished. I know that there were locals that joined the Jandarms in all this. I don’t know if any of the people I told about were among those locals.

All I know is that I’m glad I can remember (just remember) those days despite what Romanians did to me and my family.

This from Jerry Yossi Yosef Eshet

In the Slavic languages it is called “Povidlo”, in Yiddish it is
Povidl…why are people calling it Povidla with an a on the end??
Cornel

As Hedwig pointed out in Romanian it is magiun, but  they also call
it povidla with an inverted comma sign on the a – To make it sound  Czernowitzer German.

——–

Enough already with povidl and pirogen.
Yesterday I left the city which I love Czernowitz.
While in Czernowitz I overdosed on pirogen-vareniky.
I had vareniky filled with potatoes smoldered with fried onions and smetana – sour cream;
For lunch I had vareniky filled with farmers cheese topped with fried bread crumbs in butter and sugar ;
and for desert I had vareniky filled with sour cherries -weiksel-vishnie, topped with smetana.

So how about starting with galuschken-sarmale, mamaliga or malai.

Guten appetit

Arthur

Hi Arthur, Sarmale: german Krautwickel, can be made from sauer cabbage (roumanian) filled with meat and put in the cabbage some smoked meat, or jewish, with fresh cabbage, broiled onion,etc…

Everyone knows mamaliga, polenta,and how to do… and Malai, filled wirh cheese – with the roumanian “burduf”  – a roumanian speciality, a backed polenta with eggs, oil, flower and yogurth…
Bon Appetit
Hedwig

—————————–

Der Turkenbrunnen

Reinhold Czarny reports from Czernowitz that the Turkish Fountain
is going to be renamed as Saint Mary fountain.

It is there where they have the plate in  memory of the  Czernowitzer Jewish Ghetto.

Hardy


(our comment – I have on the wall a map of Turkey in Europe. Czernowitz was the most northern city under the rule of Turkey.Putting at that fountain the plate to memorialize Jews shows they tried to say the Jews were a foreign body like the Turks.

Renaming the place after Saint Mary, is like adding insult to injury.

Let us better stick to the memory of original Powidla making.    —- Pincas)

To my comment got the following note from Hardy:
The location of the plate is OK,
here was the epicenter of the Ghetto.
Under the Austrians and Rumanians this place was
also called Marienplatz.
. . . and my answer is that this does not change the essence of my original comment.  The fact that Christian Austrians, and then Rumanians, took a Turkish well and stuck on it the St. Mary name is quite understandable. Also, historic truth is that the Turkish Well was in the middle of the Rumanian Nazi Getto is accepted fact.
Nevertheless, the totality of these observations, the Ottoman well, the Ghetto for the Jews, then officially re-naming the well for St. Mary after that plate for the Jews was stuck on it, says to me that someone was at least insensitive to the fact that Jews and Muslims are not Christians.
I think we are better at writing about powidla, varenicky, malai and mamaliga then about writing on politics.

I wish we had the courage to tell the Chernivtsi Oblast that calling that well – The Turkish Well around which the powers during WWII established the Ghetto for the Jews – is more appropriate then calling it under the Ukraine regime – St Mary’s Well.                 ( This is the opinion of Pincas Jawetz – as expressed on www.SustainabiliTank.info )
I see nothing wrong in naming the Turkenbrunnen area as St. Mary,
since this was its name previously. Nor is it a sign of lack of sensitivity
to the plight of Jews during WW2.

Actually, this location may be the one place in Czernowitz in which there are
more historical markers than anywhere else in the city;
there is also a commemorative plaque to “Alexandru cel bun”, Romanian ruler
of the 14th century.

Mimi Taylor

Alexandru the Good also has a street : Dobrovo – Dr Rotgasse down from
Herrengasse.
He is considered founder of the town and signer of the first Cz document-
the trade agreement with the Polish merchants of 1408 displayed on
the wall behind the statue on the Ringplatz.
Highly respected.
As to rename places to their historic form – I am completely
in favor . Lets start:
1. Judengasse
2. Tempelgasse
3. Synagogengasse
4. Theodor Herzl Platz.

Hardy

GREAT – that is really what I am saying as well – when I will see that the cinema & club, that used to be a Temple, will start looking like an old temple structure again, and the street will be renamed as Templegasse in its Ukrainian form like Dobrovo was for the Romanian “Cel Bun” – then one could accept the St. Mary argument as well! Until then – I do not bow my head. (Pincas)
————-

The name Judengasse could be seen as a sign of recognition or as a  sign of discrimination.
Calling the street Shalom Aleichem street is in my opinion less ambiguous. .
From time to time Soviet governments wanted to show off their “lack  of Anti-Semitism”
or equal treatment of all minorities and one way of doing this, was  to recognize exceptional
artists in other languages, or promote schools which taught the  languages of minorities.

That is why Shalom Aleichem was given due respect, also Eliezer  Steinbarg and why in 1944
the Yiddish school was opened at the beginning of June, only two  month after the conquest
of Czernowitz and even though the school year finished at the end of June.
My age group, who could not start school when we were supposed to,  either because of being
in Transnistria, or because Jewish children were not allowed to go to school in Romania
during the war, all learned in one month what other children usually learn in one year.

Mimi

All major towns in central Europe have Judengassen.
Their Jews are long gone.
This is the history of the Jewish people.
The confinements of the Jews to Ghettos.
Our history.
The Jews are gone ,       Remove the memory ?
Vienna, Frankfurt,Salzburg,Rothenburg, Worms,Koln – Czernowitz.
We just have the new plate to remember the Cz Ghetto!
Why remove Judengasse?
Hardy

from:Miriam Taylor mirtaylo@indiana.edu
Hardy is right that very many European cities have their Judengasse.
Mostly or always, these are the streets to which Jews were confined,
while they lived in those cities. These are the ghetto streets in which Jews
lived for hundreds of years.

In Czernowitz the ghetto existed only for 9 weeks, the rest of the time,
Jews lived in all parts of the city.

When Edgar first published the Czernowitz Address directories,
I thought that it would be interesting, to tabulate the streets on which
most Jews lived. I have not done this tabulation.
But in my own case, my great-grandparents when they first moved to Czernowitz,
lived on the Hauptstrasse, then they moved to the Tempelgasse, then
to the Karolinengasse and my grandparents moved to the Schmiedgasse
and my parents to the Blumengasse.
Mimi

I dont know the history of the Judengasse, Czernowitz.
It probably dates back to the  times before the liberal Austrians.
Of times of Moldovan restrictions when Judengasse was possibly
a Ghetto like in Frankfurt .
Does somebody know ?

Hardy

Mimi, that is interesting – my first home was on Karolinengasse – the house where Geffner had his Restaurant/Inn – I think it was number 10 and it was at the other end of the bloc where at the upper end was the Temple. We had the first floor left side. When I visited the year of the break-up of the USSR, with the help of a cousin who, though only two years older – but with 4 years more Czertnowitz memory then myself – we located the place and found that our apartment was broken into two with the second family using the kitchen entrance. Not only that the street name was changed – but also the house numbers – though with the help of the Cityhall ore can locate old addresses. Eventually I was allowed to visit the two apartments – one of the families was quite friendly – the other one was afraid that I may cause trouble. My cousin was luckier – he developed a friendly relationship with the family were relocated after the war to his place – sort off from one war refugee to another …
Pincas
——————————-
A friend on Facebook pointed out this Facebook page to me:  www.facebook.com/yiddishkayt, and today’s news.

Today in Yiddishkayt (8/30) | Czernowitz Yiddish Conference (3 photos)
Today marks the anniversary of the opening of the first international conference in support of the Yiddish language, which was convened from August 30 to September, 4 1908 in Czernowitz (today Chernivtsi, Ukraine). The agenda included discussions on Yiddish schools; the Yiddish press, theater, and literature; the tendency for young people to prefer Hebrew or major coterritorial non-Jewish languages; and the overall status of Yiddish as “THE” national or only “A” national language of the Jewish people.

Helene Ryding
hryding@yahoo.co.uk

Hi,
As far as I remember, the International Yiddish conference was held in 1909 and not in 1908.

Abraham Kogan

——————————-

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 11th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From the internet chatter we learned these very interesting news at a time The Rumanian Government under Prime Minister Victor Ponta (after trying to oust  President Traian Basescu, an EU NO!-NO! – specially as the population sees in Basescu the guarantor of democracy in Romania) is now bringing in a Holocaust denier, Senator Dan Sova, as part of his team of Ministers – “Liaison Minister between the  Government and the Parliament of  Romania.”

Recently on the other hand, a committee centered around the Holocaust museum of the United States sponsored, with the agreement of the local Administration of Chernivtsi (the former Czernowitz), the marking of the house where Traian Popovich lived, with an official memorial plaque.


“This is such good news. Thank you Mimi and all others who contributed to making this happen!” – writes Eytan Fichman, the son of one of the survivors, Pearl Fichman (born Spiegel).

—–Original Message—–
From: Miriam Taylor <mirtaylo_at_indiana.edu>
To: Czernowitz Genealogy and History <czernowitz-l_at_list.cornell.edu>
Sent: Mon, 22 Dec 2008 10:06 am
Subject: [Cz-L]Popovici plaque more…

More information about the approval of the plaque:
This was sent to me bu Luda Aliyeva, member of our list in Chernivtsi:

The press-centre of the City Council has issued a press-release stating  That they approved the plaque to T.Popovici. The following information  appeared in the largest Chernivtsi newspaper. The E-version of the news can  be accessed at:
www.molbuk.com/news/17787-u-chernivcjakh-vstanovljat-memorialnu-doshku-na.html

It says:
Title: The Mayor saving thousands of Jews will get a memorial plaque.

Text:
“The Jewish community of Bukovina received approval to install at their own expense a memorial plaque in honor of Traian Popovici of the facade of the building at #6 Zankovetska Street. The memorial plaque will state in Ukrainian, English and Romanian the following text:


“In this building lived Traian Popovich (1892-1946). As mayor of Chernivtsi
in 1941, he saved 19600 Jews from deportation to Transnistria and probable
death. In sincere gratitude and eternal memory. Jews of Chernivtsi”.

The decision was taken considering applications of the Director of Department of International Archival Programs of the Holocaust Museum of the USA, R.Ioanid and the Head of Jewish community of Chernivtsi Oblast L. Kleyman. The press-centre for the City Council reported on that.”

I believe that there will be an official unveiling and will start making  arrangements for it. I would like to suggest to the city officials and the Chernivtsi Jewish community, that the unveiling take place either on March 30 or 31, or on April 21st. Any members of the list who would like to be present at the unveiling, please write me no later than Jan. 5th, to let me know whether you have a preference for either one of the March dates or the April date.

About the cost and payment for the plaque: At this time, I as yet do not know the exact cost of having the plaque made. The estimate WAS between 2320 and 2760 UAH. I was given this estimate in August of this year. At that time the exchange rate of the Hrivna was about 4 Hrivna = $1, so that the total cost estimate was between $600 and $700. I will look up the exact rate of exchange at the time and will pay the designer and engraver accordingly.
Once I know the exact cost, I will let you know and ask for contributions.

Mimi

================================================——————————-

AND THIS WEEK:

Hi CZ’ers…Just heard from Zoya that last night  on Russian
>> television
>> they announced that American actor, Dustin Hoffman (age  75) is
>> beginning to
>> shoot a new film where he will be playing Trian Popovich!  The
>> movie will be
>> partly made on location in Chernowitz!! Does anyone else know
>> about this?
>> So exciting…and I can almost see him playing  Popovich…


Well!!!  Romania as much as other countries has selective amnesia and a talent of denial.
Sadly Trajan Popovici was a Jewish hero deserving accolades, to the Roumanians he is tainted
because he saved Jews. As recently (last week he renewed the claim) one Roumanian Minister Sava expressed his
convincing doubt about the barbarous massacre in Jasi as an exageration.


Further on the chatter:
Anyhow, I do not think that Dustin Hoffman would
> be right for the part. He is too old. It is my impression
> that Traian Popovici was in his fifties in 1941.
>
> What astonishes me, is that the Romanians do not make
> a movie about Popovici. He is their only hero during
> the last 75 years.
>
> If not him, who will they make a movie about?
> Alexandru Cuza? Octavian Goga? Petru Groza?
> King Carol?

Probably Antonescu. He is their REAL hero, if you ask quite a few of
them.

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

ABOUT CZERNOWITZ:

The pearl of the Carpats, Little Vienna, Little Paris .
These and many more accolades were attributed  to our
little home town.
Of all these I was not aware during my stay in Czernowitz.
Houses? Yes there were some beautiful houses, streets in
our town but this was not the cause of our affection.
What then  made the Jews to so much love  the town ?
The answer is simple : We felt good.
With such an overwhelming majority the Jews felt secure.
In the city center and main streets mostly Yiddish was heard.
This made us feel safe.The rich as the poor.
We felt good.
This made Czernowitz our city .
Not buildings, not streets ,synagogues and Temples.
All these are empty shells.
Without the Jews Czernowitz  lost its aura.
Now it is one more town where Jews used to be.
An empty oyster shell.
The pearl fled in 1946.


by Hardy Breier

——-

Being the majority of the population in Czernowitz, certainly
made our parents, grandparents and us feel good.
But that was not the only reason for our feeling of well being
and love for the city.

When we consider the generations of Jewish Czernowitzers
born between 1870 and 1920 it is obvious how much they were
ahead of their parents and grandparents in wealth, education,
political opportunities and self esteem.
Jews were mayors of the city during the Austrian period, and
even during the Romanian period, there were Jewish members
of the city council, Jewish deputies to the Romanian Parliament,
Jewish physicians and lawyers, even though, they may have had
to study abroad.

But I think that the Ukrainian,German and Romanian inhabitants
of the city were just as proud of Czernowitz as the Jews.
Compared to many cities of the same size, in Romania, Poland
and Ukraine, Czernowitz was more progressive, better maintained
and better planned.

Mimi

###

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

Zum Zustand der ungarischen Demokratie.- Ungarische Sackgassensozialisten.

by Mario Schwaiger

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Man wird standhaft bleiben und die Gesetze respektieren.

Spätestens 2014 muss Premier Orbán seine Rechnung begleichen!

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

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

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

———————————————————————————–

References:

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

###

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


Analysis / Crises with Turkey and Egypt represent a political tsunami for Israel. The political crisis has become a reality well before the Palestinians declare their independent state, writes Haaretz editor-in-chief Aluf Benn, leaving Israel isolated in facing Iran, Turkey and Egypt.
By Aluf Benn
HAARETZ online, September 10, 2010
The anxiety caused by the Arab Spring among the Israeli public became a reality this weekend, when protesters broke into the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, and expelled the Israeli diplomats from their country.
The embassy staff’s urgent evacuation in a special IAF plane in the wake of President Obama’s intervention is a stark reminder of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. Seven months after the downfall of Hosni Mubarak’s regime, Egyptian protesters tore to shreds the Israeli flag, a symbol of peace between Egypt and its eastern neighbor, after 31 years. It seems that the flag will not return to the flagstaff anytime soon.
The historians who will write about the collapse of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty will start their stories during the twilight years of the Mubarak regime, when the government gradually lost control over the Sinai Peninsula, turning the desert into an abandoned frontier of weapons smuggling, human trafficking, and African refugees.
The demilitarization agreements, which removed the Egyptian army from Sinai and were slowly eroded following Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip, have accelerated sharply in the last several months. Time after time, Egypt requested and received permission to “temporarily” deploy more troops and weaponry along the border, in order to restore order and security in the region.
For the Egyptians, this was an opportunity to shake off the limitations imposed on them by the peace agreement, and regain their full sovereignty over the buffer zone that lies between the Suez Canal and the Negev.
In the 70s, when the peace accords were signed, the Egyptian military’s presence in Sinai posed a great security threat. Now, Egyptian soldiers seem like the lesser evil and an antidote to the much larger threat of a political and security vacuum across the border.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is concerned that the Sinai Peninsula will turn into a larger version of the Gaza Strip, full of weapons and launching pads aimed at Israeli territory. The fence that Israel is building along the Egyptian border is intended to ensure routine security measures aimed at preventing terrorists and refugees from spilling over the border. Israel will not be able to handle the strategic dangers that are bound to unfold on the other side.
The “embassy crisis” exploded in the wake of the killing of five Egyptian soldiers on August 18 during a border skirmish that came on the heels of a terrorist attack against Israeli civilians on their way to Eilat.
The Tahrir protesters and Egyptian politicians, frustrated with the slow pace of regime change, have directed their anger toward the most hated target in Cairo – the Israeli Embassy. Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s public expression of regret, and the Israeli promises to cooperate with Egypt in investigating the incident did not interest the Egyptian public.
The protests continued, and a week after the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador from Ankara on similar grounds – anger stemming from the killing of Turkish citizens aboard last year’s Gaza flotilla – the Israeli ambassador was expelled from Cairo. The only difference is that in Turkey, the government initiated the downgrading of ties, while in Egypt the people did so against the will of their rulers.
Netanyahu and his government have prided themselves on their steadfast commitment to national ideals, and the prime minster is convinced that he was right in refusing to apologize to the Turks for killing their citizens. According to his perspective, the Arab world scrutinizes Israel’s actions, and an apology to Turkey would be interpreted as a sign of unforgivable weakness.
But Netanyahu was not content with merely refusing to apologize. Instead of attempting to calm the conflict with Turkey, Israel was dragged into a dangerous battle with Ankara.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to send a Turkish naval fleet to accompany the next flotillas to Gaza, and Netanyahu responded with a widely-covered visit to an Israeli naval base. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who consistently outflanks Netanyahu from the right, suggests, publicly, that Israel aid the PKK Kurdish insurgency, in order to balance out Turkey’s support for Hamas.
Netanyahu and Lieberman are heroes of the media, but when the chips are down, it turns out that Israel has direct influence on Egypt. Thus, Netanyahu must resort to asking for help from Obama, his great opponent, in order to evacuate the embassy employees. Once again, it becomes clear that Israel cannot manage without help from the United States.
Netanyahu now hopes that Israel might be able to get close with Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States, who also seek to block the possibility of an Arab Spring in the region. In the West, Netanyahu is hoping to circumvent Turkey by strengthening ties with Greece, Bulgaria and Romania. During his visit to the Balkans, he was shown photos and statues of national heros, sent to their deaths by the Ottoman Empire. A real basis for friendship.
These are but minor comforts. The political tsunami that Ehud Barak foresaw has come true prior to the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state in the UN. Israel is left isolated facing Iran, Turkey and Egypt, which in the past were considered close allies. Netanyahu is convinced that the Arab Spring uprisings are a decree of fate, leaving Israel with little to do but to stand firmly in its place.
Israel cannot prevent the rise of Erdogan or the fall of Mubarak, the same way that it cannot halt Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The fall of the American superpower is not Netanyahu’s fault. But he has not done a thing to mitigate the fallout from the aforementioned developments. Israel’s political and strategic positions are far worse under his leadership.
———————————————————
THE NEW YORK TIMES ECHOES THE ABOVE ARTICLE BY ALUF BENN WITH:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/11/world/middleeast/11israel.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha2 By  from Jerusalem

“Beyond Cairo, Israel Sensing a Wider Siege”

With its Cairo embassy ransacked, its ambassador to Turkey expelled and the Palestinians seeking statehood recognition at the United Nations, Israel found itself on Saturday increasingly isolated and grappling with a radically transformed Middle East where it believes its options are limited and poor. The diplomatic crisis, in which winds unleashed by the Arab Spring are now casting a chill over the region, was crystallized by the scene of Israeli military jets sweeping into Cairo at dawn on Saturday to evacuate diplomats after the Israeli Embassy had been besieged by thousands of protesters.

It was an image that reminded some Israelis of Iran in 1979, when Israel evacuated its embassy in Tehran after the revolution there replaced an ally with an implacable foe.

###

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

We were informed of a Press Briefing

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

Adaptation to Climate Change by Spatial Planning in the Alps.

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

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

Rosario Bento Pais
DG Climate Action, European Commission

Andre Jol
Head of vulnerability group, European Environment Agency

Marco Onida
Secretary General, Alpine Convention

George Reberning
Managing Director, Federal Environment Agency Austria

————-

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

Climate Change Adaptation by Spatial Planning in the Alpine Space.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 18th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Save The Date

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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