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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 15th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Excessive diesel car usage cause severe atmospheric hazard in Paris.

Published on : Saturday, March 15, 2014

 

atmospheric hazard in ParisParis has been hit by the worst kind of atmospheric pollution in seven years with unseasonably warm, windless days and cold clear nights which has covered Northern France with a sheet of warm air.

 

All public transport has been declared free until Sunday in Paris, Rouen and Caen Even the Velib. Short-term-hire bikes which fathered the Boris Bikes in London have been declared free to minimize public transport in France.

 

 Long usage of diesel-powered cars in France, and minuscule particles of pollution, have  contributed in accumulating pollution in France.

60 per cent of Paris is dependent on diesel cars as in the 1960s, French government and industry made a strategic decision that diesel engines were less polluting and would gradually supersede petrol. Big car companies Renault and Peugeot-Citroen invested heavily in diesel engines. Diesel fuel was taxed less heavily than petrol and it continues to do so.

 

The level of official “pollution alert” – 80 micrograms of tiny particles for every cubic meter of air – has been exceeded each day since Wednesday in 30 départements (counties) across northern France.

 

Visibility is all time low and how the bikers will be able to detect their path in the road is hard to fathom. In Paris it is near summer weather with daffodils gleaming, in the Tuileries gardens. Women were wearing summer dresses. The sky has turned a smudgy grey and the Eiffel Tower, and the skyscrapers in the La Défense office ghetto west of the city had been wrapped in yellow haze.

 

France has been aware for nearly two decades about its mistake on diesel engines being more polluting. But Successive governments have not issued anything against the French car-makers asking them to do away from diesel engines or to increase taxes on the diesel fuel used by two out of three motorists.

EU is dealing strongly with France as the growing atmospheric pollution has caused 40,000 premature  deaths and the government has to break free of the motorists’ lobbies, to give the people of France a better environment.

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In the 1970s, as part of an Organization of American States (OAS) mission to Colombia, I learned that through its Foreign Aid, France messed up also the air quality of the city of Bogota. It seems to us plainly insane to submit the people at the tremendous altitude of Bogota and the low oxygen conditions at such altitude, to the burning of diesel fuel.   Sure – the city was in perpetual smog – but Paris kept sending here their diesel buses that choked the people.
That was one of the things we reported back to the OAS that was looking at the idea of introducing ethanol motor vehicles, or at least gasoline that contained a percentage of ethanol.

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

 What we ask is whom do represent the black clad military people that took over Crimea?  Are they representing a new force or their old Russian military. We see a way out if the lack of insignia means that there is a new force being born.

FIRST CLEAR CASUALTY – THE SOCHI G8 MEETING THAT BECOMES IMPOSSIBLE WITH RUSSIA AT WAR.
SO – IT IS NOW CLEAR THAT SOCHI IS NOT THE PUTIN PLANNED  RUSSIAN GOLD MINE.

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Ukraine PR Says UN Charter Brutally Violated, Meeting Format Fight.

By Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press Follow Up

 

UNITED NATIONS, March 1 — As the UN Security Council on Saturday afternoon held its second emergency meeting in as many days on Ukraine, that country’s Permanent Representative Yuriy Sergeyev stopped and told the press it is now a Russian “aggression” and that the UN Charter has been “brutally” violated.
Video here.

 

 He said an appeal is being made to the US, France, UK and China, under the rubric of non-proliferation; he said there is still time, before Russian president Vladimir Putin signs the order for military moves in Crimea.

 

  Then the Security Council “suspended” for ten minutes; Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin emerged and said some members of the Council are trying to change the format of the meeting, that Russia agrees with the format proposed by Luxembourg, which took over today as Council president.

 

After UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s envoy Robert Serry spun the contents of a closed door Security Council consultation on Ukraine on which there was no agreed outcome, Ban himself did the same on Saturday.

 


 

   Could Serry go to Crimea?  Hours before Serry through the spokesperson had said no. But the purpose of the UN TV theater is to get this spin “on camera” – that’s the role Falk’s UNCA is playing.

 

   Also Ban said he is going to speak with Putin soon. Will his spokesperson take question, this time with notice, on that?

 

   On February 28, Serry’s impartiality as “UN” envoy on Ukraine was called into question, on camera, in front of the UN Security Council by Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin.

 

   A “Note to Correspondents” was put out Saturday morning by the UN Spokesperson’s Office in which Serry put his spin on the Security Council consultations at which he was not present, and at which not even a Press Statement was agreed:

 

Note to correspondents: Statement by Mr. Robert Serry, Senior Advisor to the Secretary-General, at the end of his mission to Ukraine

 

Kyiv, 1 March 2014

 

Following the consultations in the United Nations Security Council yesterday, the Secretary-General requested me to go to Crimea as part of my fact-finding mission. I have since been in touch with the authorities of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and have come to the conclusion that a visit to Crimea today is not possible. I will therefore proceed to Geneva, where I will tomorrow brief the Secretary-General on my mission and consult with him on next steps.

 

In Crimea, I would have conveyed, also on behalf of the Secretary-General, a message for all to calm the situation down and to refrain from any actions that could further escalate an already-tense environment.

 

It became very clear from yesterday’s Council consultations that the unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine is not to be called into question. This is a time for dialogue and to engage with each other constructively.

Note to correspondents: Statement by Mr. Robert Serry, Senior Advisor to the Secretary-General, at the end of his mission to Ukraine.

 

March 1, updated — After the Ukraine open meeting then consultations of the UN Security Council took place, Council president for March Sylvie Lucas of Luxembourg came out and read a short statement.

  Inner City Press asked her if this was a mere “elements to the press,” not even an agreed Press Statement. This seems to be the case. She politely answered, but not why China and the ten elected members did not speak in the open meeting.

  Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador Lyall Grant about the Budapest Memorandum — has it already been violated, including by the Western IMF side, in terms of economic coercion? Is it just a superseded document summoned up for pragmatic reasons now?

  Lyall Grant acknowledged that some time has passed. From the UK Mission transcript:

Inner City Press: The Budapest memorandum. There’s been a lot of talk about it. It requires the UK, Russia and France to seek immediate Security Council action if there’s a threat of force, so is this the end of your duties, or do you have a duty to defend Ukraine? And it also seems to commit the UK and others to refrain from economic coercion, so some people have been saying that on both sides, the economic coercion factor has been played. Has this memorandum been complied with since ‘94, or is it just pulled out at this time as a convenient document?

Amb Lyall Grant: Clearly, this document has become very relevant in the last few days. We believe that the first step should be a meeting of the signatories of the Budapest memorandum, as Ukraine government has suggested should take place. Proposals have been made for a meeting of the three signatories as early as Monday, but so far Russia has not agreed to that meeting.

 

  Lyall Grant also said his prime minister David Cameron spoke with Vladimir Putin and his foreign secretary William Hague will be in Ukraine on Sunday.

 

  Inner City Press asked Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson of Russia’s critique of envoy Robert Serry “getting played,” and of the leaked (US) audio about former US now UN official Jeffrey Feltman “getting” Ban to send Serry to Ukraine.

 

   Eliasson said Serry is an international civil servant, but that the UN is not mediating, he is only a go-between for now. Will that change?

 

  US Samantha Power came out, saying another things that President Obama is suspending participation in the preparation for the G8 in Sochi. She took only two questions; it was not possible to ask her about movement on loan guarantees, or her view of the US’ duties under the Budapest Memorandum. So it goes at the UN.

 

  When the open meeting happened, after two hours of wrangling about format, not all 15 members of the Council — not even all five Permanent members — spoke. (China didn’t).

 

  Instead, UN Deputy Secretary General Eliasson led off, saying that Ban Ki-moon would speak with Vladimir Putin. That had already taken place, but even an hour later, no read-out.

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

  • The Ukrainian note says 12 Mi-24 Russian attack helicopters flew from Anapa to Kacha on Friday (Photo: wikimedia commons)

Ukraine’s EU embassy details ‘Abkhazia scenario’

01.03.14 @ 12:56

  1. By Andrew Rettman

BRUSSELS – Ukraine’s embassy to the EU has detailed Russian military movements in Crimea, saying operations to seize control began one week ago.

The Ukrainian embassy, in a two-page note circulated to EU diplomats on Friday (28 February) – and seen by EUobserver – cited seven “illegal military activities of the Russian Federation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Ukraine.”

Going back to February 21 and 22, it says Russia moved 16 BTR-80 armoured personnel carriers of the 801st Marine Corps brigade from the Russian naval base in Sevastopol, Crimea, which it leases from Ukraine, to the Crimean towns of Kaha, Gvardiiske, and Sevastopol.

It notes that on 23 February three BTR-80s moved from the base to the town of Khersones.

On 26 February, 10 armoured vehicles from the 801st brigade moved “into the depth of the Crimean peninsula towards Simferopol.”

On 28 February, 12 Mi-24 Russian attack helicopters flew from Anapa in Russia to the Kacha airfield in Crimea “despite [the fact] clearance was granted only for 3 helos.”

The same day five Il-76 Russian military transport planes landed at Gvardiiske with no clerance at all, while 400 Russian troops from the Ulyanovsk Airborne Brigade moved to Cape Fiolent, near Sevastopol.

The Ukrainian document says that also on Friday: “Belbek airport (Sevastopol) was blocked by an armed unit of the Russian Fleet (soldiers with no marking but not concealing their affiliation). Simferopol airport occupied by more than 100 soldiers with machine guns wearing camouflage, unmarked but not concealing their affiliation to the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.”

It adds that Captain Oleksandr Tolmachov, a Russian Black Sea Fleet officer, led a group of 30 soldiers who blocked the Sevastopol Marine Security detachment of the State Border Service of Ukraine.

Speaking in Kiev on Friday, Ukraine’s interim president, Oleksandr Turchynov, said: “They are provoking us into an armed conflict. Based on our intelligence, they’re working on scenarios analogous to Abkhazia, in which they provoke conflict, and then they start to annex territory.”

He added: “Ukraine’s military will fulfill its duties, but will not succumb to provocation.”

He also said Russia’s actions violate the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, signed by Russia, the UK, Ukraine, and the US.

Russia in 2008 invaded Georgia saying Georgian forces had fired on its “peacekeeping” troops in Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia. After an eight-day war, Russia retreated from Georgia proper, but entrenched its occupation of South Ossetia and a second breakaway entity, Abkhazia, in what is widely seen as a way of blocking Georgia’s EU and Nato aspirations.

The Budapest document obliges signatories to “respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.” It also says they “will consult in the event a situation arises which raises a question concerning these commitments.”

There is no shortage of consultations.

The Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin on Friday phoned the British and German leaders and EU Council chief Herman Van Rompuy.

Lithuania, which currently holds the UN Security Council (UNSC) presidency, also called a meeting of UNSC ambassadors in New York.

Statements coming from the Budapest signatories echo the terms of the agreement.

A spokesman for British leader David Cameron said he told Putin “that all countries should respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.” US President Barack Obama said on TV “the United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.”

Meanwhile, Sweden, a close US ally, corroborated Ukraine’s accusations. “Obvious that there is Russian military intervention in Ukraine. Likely immediate aim is to set up puppet pro-Russian semi-state in Crimea,” Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt said.

The Polish foreign ministry noted: “Any decisions that will be taken in the coming days, including of military nature, could have irreparable consequences for the international order.”

The UN meeting in New York did little to calm nerves.

Ukraine’s UN ambassador, Yuriy Sergeyev, told press afterward: “We are strong enough to defend ourselves.”

Russia’s UN envoy, Vitaly Churkin, said all Russian military activity in Crimea is “within the framework” of a 1997 Ukraine-Russia treaty governing the use of its Sevastopol base.

Churkin added the EU bears “responsibility” for events because three EU foreign ministers – from France, Germany, and Poland – on 21 February signed a deal between Ukraine’s ousted president, Viktor Yanukovych, and opposition MPs which says he is to stay in power until December.

Yanukovych fled Kiev the next day when Kiev protesters rejected the agreement and threatened to storm his palace.

Churkin accused the EU of fomenting the revolution by criticising Yanukovych for refusing to sign an EU association and free trade treaty and by sending VIPs to Kiev to mingle with demonstrators. “They emphasize sovereignty. But they behave as if Ukraine was a province of the European Union, not even a country, but a province,” he said.

Budapest memorandum

For his part, Andrew Wilson, an analyst at the London-based European Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank, who was in Kiev during the unrest, told EUobserver on Saturday the Budapest accord should not be seen as a Nato-type treaty which obliges signatories to use military force

But he noted that the 1994 memorandum poses Cold War-type questions.

“Are we [the West] going to send a warship through the Bosphorus?” he said, referring to the channel which leads from the Mediterranean Sea to the Black Sea and Crimea.

“These kind of questions were asked in the Cold War: Would America be willing to lose Detroit [in a Russian nuclear strike] to save Berlin? Later it was about Vilnius [when Lithuania joined Nato in 2004], now it’s about Simferopol. Budapest is not Article 5. But if we are being logical, it does offer security guarantees and it is still in force,” he added, referring to the Nato treaty’s Article 5 on mutual defence.

Crimea is a majority ethnic Russian region which became part of Ukraine in 1954.

Its local parliament this week elected a new leader, pro-Russian politician Sergiy Aksyonov, who called a referendum on independence on 30 March.

The ethnic Russian population made up 49.6 percent of Crimea in 1939. It currently makes up some 58 percent, after Stalin deported its Armenian, Bulgarian, Jewish, German, Greek, and Tatar minorities during World War II. But Russians are in a minority in nine Crimean districts.

 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 28th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

“Their Mothers, their Fathers” – or maybe even ours -  a movie that tries to promote thinking about the triteness of the reality of an evolution of crime as a worm that eats into what looks like civilized normalcy.

These days in New York we host the Carnegie Hall Festival “Vienna City of Dreams” which is a celebration of culture of the last 100 years which is in effect the time-span since the break out of WWI on June 28, 1914, and as a matter of fact includes also WWII.

To above Festival The Calgary, Alberta, CHUMIR FOUNDATION for Ethics in Leadership contributed a three events Symposium – “Vienna’s History and Legacy of the Past 150 Years” – and this morning coincidentally I received the Uri Avnery mailing about the German Film “THEIR MOTHERS, THEIR FATHERS” that is being shown in Israel. We find it all connects – and we start looking into this by bringing here the Uri Avnery article.

Also, these days the Peace Islands Institute, which is connected to a Turkish Cultural Center, had its own events in New York of which one – linked – without mentioning it – to the previous mentioned events – it was a panel on Intergovernmental Relations among Balkan Nations & The EU with the participation of the Ambassadors to the UN from Bulgaria, Albania, Kosovo, and Macedonia, chaired by the President of the Federation of Balkan American Associations, that followed a similar earlier event that included Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Croatia but never looked at Slovenia or Austria. Then the same Peace Islands Institute followed on its studies of the three Abrahamic religions with a first inroad into Muslim – Buddhist understanding after quite successful previous activities into ethics of Muslim -Jewish mutual acceptance. These days such are events happening in  New York.

 

Uri Avnery

March 1, 2014

 

                                    Their Mothers, Their Fathers

 

IT IS the summer of 1941. Five youngsters – three young men and two young women – meet in a bar and spend a happy evening, flirting with each other, getting drunk, dancing forbidden foreign dances. They have grown up together in the same neighborhood of Berlin.

It is a happy time. The war started by Adolf Hitler a year and a half before has progressed incredibly well. In this short time Germany has conquered Poland, Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium and France. The Wehrmacht is invincible. The Führer is a genius, “the greatest military strategist of all times”.

So starts the film that is running now in our cinemas – a unique historical document. It goes on for five breathless hours, and continues to occupy the thoughts and emotions of its viewers for days and weeks.

 

Basically it is a film made by Germans for Germans. The German title says it all: “Our Mothers, Our Fathers”. The purpose is to answer the questions troubling many of the young Germans of today: Who were our parents and grandparents? What did they do during the terrible war? What did they feel? What was their part in the horrible crimes committed by the Nazis?

 

These questions are not asked in the film explicitly. But every German viewer is compelled to ask them. There are no clear answers. The film does not probe the depths. Rather, it shows a broad panorama of the German people in wartime, the various sections of society, the different types, from the war criminals, through the passive onlookers, to the victims.

 

The Holocaust is not the center of events, but it is there all the time, not as a separate event but woven into the fabric of reality.

 

THE FILM starts in 1941, and therefore cannot answer the question which, to my mind, is the most important one: How could a civilized nation, perhaps the most cultured in the world, elect a government whose program was blatantly criminal?

True, Hitler was never elected by an absolute majority in free elections. But he came very close to it. And he easily found political partners who were ready to help him form a government.

 

 Some said at the time that it was a uniquely German phenomenon, the expression of the particular German mentality, formed during centuries of history. That theory has been discredited by now. But if so, can it happen in any other country? Can it happen in our own country? Can it happen today? What are the circumstances that make it possible?

The film does not answer these question. It leaves the answers to the viewer.

The young heroes of the film do not ask. They were ten years old when the Nazis came to power, and for them the “Thousand-Year Reich” (as the Nazis called it) was the only reality they knew. It was the natural state of things. That’s where the plot starts.

 

 

 TWO OF the youngsters were soldiers. One had already seen war and was wearing a medal for valor. His brother had just been called up. The third young man was a Jew. Like the two girls, they are full of youthful exuberance. Everything was looking fine.

The war? Well, it can’t last much longer, can it? The Führer himself has promised that by Christmas the Final Victory will be won. The five young people promise each other to meet again at Christmas. No one has the slightest premonition of the terrible experiences in store for each of them. 

 

 While viewing the scene, I could not help thinking about my former class. A few weeks after the Nazis’ assumption of power, I became a pupil in the first class of high school in Hanover. My schoolmates were the same age as the heroes of the film. They would have been called up in 1941, and because it was an elitist school, all of them would probably have become officers.

Half way through the first year in high schooI, my family took me to Palestine. I never met any of my schoolmates again, except one (Rudolf Augstein, the founder of the magazine Der Spiegel, whom I met years after the war and who became my friend again.) What happened to all the others? How many survived the war? How many were maimed? How many had become war criminals?

In the summer of 1941 they were probably as happy as the youngsters in the film, hoping to be home by Christmas.

 

 THE TWO brothers were sent to the Russian front, an unimaginable hell. The film succeeds in showing the realities of war, easily recognizable by anyone who has been a soldier in combat. Only that this combat was a hundredfold worse, and the film shows it brilliantly.

The older brother, a lieutenant, tries to shield the younger one. The bloodbath that goes on for four more years, day after day, hour after hour, changes their character. They become brutalized. Death is all around them, they see horrible war crimes, they are commanded to shoot prisoners, they see Jewish children butchered. In the beginning they still dare to protest feebly, then they keep their doubts to themselves, then they take part in the crimes as a matter of course. 

One of the young women volunteers for a frontline military hospital, witnesses the awful agonies of the wounded, denounces a Jewish fellow nurse and immediately feels remorse, and in the end is raped by Soviet soldiers near Berlin, as were almost all German women in the areas conquered by the revenge-thirsty Soviet army. 

 

 Israeli viewers might be more interested in the fate of the Jewish boy, who took part in the happy feast at the beginning. His father is a proud German, who cannot imagine Germans doing the bad things threatened by Hitler. He does not dream of leaving his beloved fatherland. But he warns his son about having sexual relations with his Aryan girlfriend. “It’s against the law!”

When the son tries to flee abroad, “aided” by a treacherous Gestapo officer, he is caught, sent to the death camps, succeeds in escaping on the way, joins the Polish partisans (who hate the Jews more than the Nazis) and in the end survives.

 

 Perhaps the most tragic figure is the second girl, a frivolous, carefree singer who sleeps with a senior SS officer to further her career, is sent with her troupe to entertain the troops at the front, sees what is really happening, speaks out about the war, is sent to prison and executed in the last hours of the war.

 

 BUT THE fate of the heroes is only the skeleton of the film. More important are the little moments, the daily life, the portrayal of the various characters of German society.

 

 For example, when a friend visits the apartment where the Jewish family had been living, the blond Aryan woman who was allotted the place complains about the state of the apartment from which the Jews had been fetched and sent to their death: “They didn’t even clean up before they left! That’s how the Jews are, dirty people!”

Everyone lives in constant fear of being denounced. It is a pervading terror, which nobody can escape. Even at the front, with death staring therm in the face, a hint of doubt about the Final Victory uttered by a soldier is immediately silenced by his comrades. “Are you crazy?”     

Even worse is the deadening atmosphere of universal agreement. From the highest officer to the lowliest maid, everybody is repeating endlessly the propaganda slogans of the regime. Not out of fear, but because they believe every word of the all-pervading propaganda machine. They hear nothing else.

It is immensely important to understand this. In the totalitarian state, fascist or communist or whatever, only the very few free spirits can withstand the endlessly repeated slogans of the government. Everything else sounds unreal, abnormal, crazy. When the Soviet army was already fighting its way through Poland and nearing Berlin, people were unwavering in their belief in the Final Victory. After all, the Führer says so, and the Führer is never wrong. The very idea is preposterous. 

It is this element of the situation that is difficult for many people to grasp. A citizen under a criminal totalitarian regime becomes a child. Propaganda becomes for him reality, the only reality he knows. It is more effective than even the terror.

 
THIS IS the answer to the question we cannot abstain from asking again and again: How was the Holocaust possible? It was planned by a few, but it was implemented by hundreds of thousands of Germans, from the engine driver of the train to the officials who shuffled the papers. How could they do it?

They could, because it was the natural thing to do. After all, the Jews were out to destroy Germany. The communist hordes were threatening the life of every true Aryan. Germany needed more living space. The Führer has said so.

 

 That’s why the film is so important, not only for the Germans, but for every people, including our own.

 

People who carelessly play with ultra-nationalist, fascist, racist, or other anti-democratic ideas don’t realize that they are playing with fire. They cannot even imagine what it means to live in a country that tramples on human rights, that despises democracy, that oppresses another people,  that demonizes minorities. The film shows what it is like: hell.

 

THE FILM does not hide that the Jews were the main victims of the Nazi Reich, and nothing comes near their sufferings. But the second victim was the German people, victims of themselves.

Many people insist that after this trauma, Jews cannot behave like a normal people, and that therefore Israel cannot be judged by the standards of normal states. They are traumatized.

This is true for the German people, too. The very need to produce this unusual film proves that the Nazi specter is still haunting the Germans, that they are still traumatized by their past.

When Angela Merkel came this week to see Binyamin Netanyahu, the whole world laughed at the photo of our Prime Minister’s finger inadvertently painting a moustache on the Kanzlerin’s face.

But the relationship between our two traumatized peoples is far from a joke.

——————————————————————–

THE 90 year young URI AVNERY NEVER ENDED HIGH-SCHOOL BUT HE IS NON-DISPUTABLE ISRAEL’S GREATEST JOURNALIST AND MOST FAMOUS EX-MEMBER OF THE KNESSET (PARLIAMENT). WHO COULD SAY WHAT GERMANY LOST – IF NOT FOR HITLER – HE WOULD HAVE HIMSELF BEEN NOW A SECULAR COMPLETELY ASSIMILATED GERMAN?

 

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

 

GeorgeSoros.com Newsletter

Dear Friends and Colleagues:
George writes persuasively about the need for Europe to reach out to assist Ukraine and at the same time not alienate Russia. See his Op-Ed in The Guardian and in German in Süddeutsche.
 
All best,
 
Michael Vachon

———————————————————————————————————


Sustaining Ukraine’s Breakthrough.

By George Soros

Following a crescendo of terrifying violence, the Ukrainian uprising has had a surprisingly positive outcome. Contrary to all rational expectations, a group of citizens armed with not much more than sticks and shields made of cardboard boxes and metal garbage-can lids overwhelmed a police force firing live ammunition. There were many casualties, but the citizens prevailed. This was one of those historic moments that leave a lasting imprint on a society’s collective memory.

How could such a thing happen? Werner Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle in quantum mechanics offers a fitting metaphor. According to Heisenberg, subatomic phenomena can manifest themselves as particles or waves; similarly, human beings may alternate between behaving as individual particles or as components of a larger wave. In other words, the unpredictability of historical events like those in Ukraine has to do with an element of uncertainty in human identity.

People’s identity is made up of individual elements and elements of larger units to which they belong, and peoples’ impact on reality depends on which elements dominate their behavior. When civilians launched a suicidal attack on an armed force in Kyiv on February 20, their sense of representing “the nation” far outweighed their concern with their individual mortality. The result was to swing a deeply divided society from the verge of civil war to an unprecedented sense of unity.

Whether that unity endures will depend on how Europe responds. Ukrainians have demonstrated their allegiance to a European Union that is itself hopelessly divided, with the euro crisis pitting creditor and debtor countries against one another. That is why the EU was hopelessly outmaneuvered by Russia in the negotiations with Ukraine over an Association Agreement.

True to form, the EU under German leadership offered far too little and demanded far too much from Ukraine. Now, after the Ukrainian people’s commitment to closer ties with Europe fueled a successful popular insurrection, the EU, along with the International Monetary Fund, is putting together a multibillion-dollar rescue package to save the country from financial collapse. But that will not be sufficient to sustain the national unity that Ukraine will need in the coming years.

I established the Renaissance Foundation in Ukraine in 1990 – before the country achieved independence. The foundation did not participate in the recent uprising, but it did serve as a defender of those targeted by official repression. The foundation is now ready to support Ukrainians’ strongly felt desire to establish resilient democratic institutions (above all, an independent and professional judiciary). But Ukraine will need outside assistance that only the EU can provide: management expertise and access to markets.

In the remarkable transformation of Central Europe’s economies in the 1990’s, management expertise and market access resulted from massive investments by German and other EU-based companies, which integrated local producers into their global value chains. Ukraine, with its high-quality human capital and diversified economy, is a potentially attractive investment destination. But realizing this potential requires improving the business climate across the economy as a whole and within individual sectors – particularly by addressing the endemic corruption and weak rule of law that are deterring foreign and domestic investors alike.

In addition to encouraging foreign direct investment, the EU could provide support to train local companies’ managers and help them develop their business strategies, with service providers remunerated by equity stakes or profit-sharing. An effective way to roll out such support to a large number of companies would be to combine it with credit lines provided by commercial banks. To encourage participation, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) could invest in companies alongside foreign and local investors, as it did in Central Europe.

Ukraine would thus open its domestic market to goods manufactured or assembled by European companies’ wholly- or partly-owned subsidiaries, while the EU would increase market access for Ukrainian companies and help them integrate into global markets.

I hope and trust that Europe under German leadership will rise to the occasion. I have been arguing for several years that Germany should accept the responsibilities and liabilities of its dominant position in Europe. Today, Ukraine needs a modern-day equivalent of the Marshall Plan, by which the United States helped to reconstruct Europe after World War II. Germany ought to play the same role today as the US did then.

I must, however, end with a word of caution. The Marshall Plan did not include the Soviet bloc, thereby reinforcing the Cold War division of Europe. A replay of the Cold War would cause immense damage to both Russia and Europe, and most of all to Ukraine, which is situated between them. Ukraine depends on Russian gas, and it needs access to European markets for its products; it must have good relations with both sides.

Here, too, Germany should take the lead. Chancellor Angela Merkel must reach out to President Vladimir Putin to ensure that Russia is a partner, not an opponent, in the Ukrainian renaissance.

Source: Project Syndicate

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

 

THE FOLLOWING SHOWS THAT UNDER UK LEADERSHIP, AND US BACKING, THE UN TURNS TO ITS MEMBER STATES’ LEGISLATORS IN ORDER TO FIND A WAY TO TACKLE CLIMATE CHANGE.  IT SEEMS THAT FINALLY THE UN HAS LANDED ON SOMETHING – AND WE GIVE A LOT OF CREDIT FOR THIS TO  Dr. ROBERT ORR – a US citizen -  UN Assistant Secretary General in the UN Secretary-General’s office.

We are told that In 2013 there was substantive legislative progress in 8 countries (passage of “flagship legislation”) and positive advances in a further 19 countries:

– Americas: Bolivia passed its Framework Law on Mother Earth and Integral Development to Live Well; El Salvador adopted its National Climate Change Strategy; In Ecuador, Decree 1815 established the Intersectoral National Strategy for Climate Change; and in Costa Rica a draft General Law on Climate Change has been introduced and is expected to pass in 2014.

– Asia-Pacific: China published its National Adaptation Plan and made progress in drafting its national climate change law; Indonesia extended its forest moratorium; Kazakhstan introduced a pilot emissions trading scheme; Micronesia passed its Climate Change Act in late 2013.

– Europe: Poland adopted its National Strategy for Adaptation and Switzerland overhauled its CO2 Act to increase ambition.
– Middle East and North Africa: Jordan passed its National Climate Change Policy; and the United Arab Emirates launched a mandatory Energy Efficiency Standardization and Labelling Scheme.
– Sub-Saharan Africa: Kenya adopted 2013-2017 Climate Change Action Plan; Mozambique adopted 2013-2025 National Strategy for Climate Change;Tanzania passed its National Strategy on REDD+; Nigeria’s Legislative Council
approved the adoption of a National Climate Change Policy and Response Strategy.

 

BUT WHEN THINGS MOVE UP THEY MAY ALSO COME DOWN – SO -
* Two countries began processes to reverse legislation:
– Following an election, the new Australian government has proposed to repeal aspects of the Clean Energy Act in 2014.
– Japan announced a lowering of its ambition on climate change in response to its reduced reliance on nuclear energy after the tsunami and resulting accident at Fukushima.
        Key information on the GLOBE Partnership for Climate Legislation (supported by the UN and the World Bank Group):

* The Partnership For Climate Legislation will support national legislators in 66 countries to share best practice and to develop and oversee the implementation of legislation on climate change, natural capital accounting and forests/REDD+.   The Partnership directly responds to the demand from legislators for technical, policy and analytical capacity.

* Specific aims:
i. To share best legislative practice through the annual GLOBE Climate
Legislation Study, national case studies and the convening of GLOBE Climate
Legislation Summits.
ii. To provide a dedicated international process that supports legislators
– on a demand-led basis – to develop and implement climate change
legislation.
iii. To explore how commitments made in national legislation can be
recognised within the architecture of an international climate change
agreement.
iv. To develop a Climate Legislation Resolution to be agreed at the World
Summit of Legislators and to be taken by legislators to their respective
national parliaments.
v. To support legislators to obtain, use and exchange relevant climate data.
* Climate-related legislation and policies (including mitigation, adaptation and forests/REDD), once implemented, carry the potential to bring additional benefits including disaster risk reduction and resilience, new sources of income/livelihoods, sustainable energy access and positive effects on public health.

* Recognizing that developing and passing laws is not sufficient in itself, the Partnership will support legislators to ensure they are equipped to effectively oversee the implementation of the law by national governments, including ensuring national budgets are consistent with climate goals, as well as assessing the impact of climate-related laws on the national
economy and key sectors of society.

           About the Global Legislators Organisation (GLOBE):
* GLOBE was established in 1989 by cross party legislators from the EU, Japan, Russia and the USA.  Today GLOBE International is the world’s largest organisation of legislators dedicated to advancing laws on climate
change, forests/REDD+ and natural capital accounting .
* Legislators from 86 countries have participated in GLOBE’s dedicated policy initiatives and legislators from 40 countries work through formal national and regional chapters of the organization.
* With headquarters in Great Britain, offices in 8 countries and over 25 locally-recruited policy advisors across a global network, GLOBE is uniquely placed to support national legislators to develop and implement laws.

—————————————

 

FURTHER – A PRESS RELEASE – THAT WAS EMBARGOED UNTIL 00:01 UK/GMT 27 FEBRUARY 2014

STUDY REVEALS RAPID ADVANCE OF NATIONAL CLIMATE CHANGE LAWS CREATING BASIS FOR NEW INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE AGREEMENT

UN and World Bank support partnership with the Global Legislators Organisation (GLOBE) to encourage development of national climate change laws.
********

Thursday 27th February, US Senate, Washington DC, 115 senior national legislators from 50 countries along with the heads of key United Nations Institutions, United Nations Climate Negotiations and the World Bank Group receive the results of the most comprehensive analysis to date of the reach and depth of national climate changes laws in 66 of the world’s countries.  The Summit will be hosted in the US Senate Kennedy Caucus Room by Senator Edward Markey.

The Study covering countries responsible for 88% of global carbon emissions was co-authored by the Global Legislators Organisation (GLOBE) and the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics (LSE).  The Study sets out a series of politically significant findings that will have a direct bearing on success of the international negotiations. Legislators will also consider how national laws can be recognised within a 2015 international climate change agreement.

Responding to the Study, the Global Legislators Organisation is launching a major new international initiative, The Partnership for Climate Legislation, supported by the United Nations and the World Bank Group.  The Partnership will help national legislators to develop and implement climate change laws. It will work across the 66 nations covered by the Study by sharing best legislative practice, provide detailed policy, analytical and legal capacity to cross party groups of legislators as they develop their own laws.

The GLOBE Climate Legislation Study findings show:
* Almost 500 national climate laws have been passed in the 66 countries
covered by the Study.  The 66 countries account for 88% of global
emissions.
* 64 of 66 countries have progressed or are progressing significant climate
and/or energy-related legislation.
* Much of the substantive progress on legislative activity on climate
change in 2013 took place in emerging economies, including China and
Mexico, which will provide the motor of global economic growth in coming
decades.
* Whilst the legislative approach often differs (whether directly inspired
by climate change, energy efficiency, energy security or competitiveness),
national legislation is achieving similar results — improved energy
security, greater resource-efficiency and cleaner, lower carbon economic
growth.
* While current national legislation does not yet add up to what needs to
be done to avoid dangerous climate change, it is putting in place the
mechanisms to measure, report and verify emissions, a pre-requisite for a
credible global climate treaty.
* There is an urgent need for those countries that have not yet passed
climate legislation to do so

US Senator Edward Markey, said: “Climate action is happening in legislatures around the globe because climate change is harming countries and their people around the globe.  We need an international movement to pass climate legislation, and nowhere is that movement needed more than here in the United States.  The GLOBE study show legislators around the
world are taking actives steps to develop significant national legislation and I urge colleagues here in the United States to acknowledge the movement and take action”.

President of the Global Legislators Organisation, Rt Hon John Gummer, Lord Deben, said: “The message from the 4th GLOBE Climate Legislation Study is clear – more countries than ever before are passing credible and significant national
climate change laws. This is changing the dynamics of the international response to climate change and poses a serious question to the international community about how we can recognise credible commitments made by governments within their national legislature.  It is by implementing national legislation and regulations that the political conditions for a global agreement in 2015 will be created.”

“Understanding this message from the Study and embracing it in how major international processes and institutions work between now and Paris 2015 will be critical.  We must see more countries develop their own national climate change laws so that when governments sit down in 2015 they will do so in very different political conditions to when they did in Copenhagen. The Partnership for Climate Legislation will support legislators across party political lines to advance climate change-related legislation. The Partnership will provide a combination of political, analytical and administrative capacity.  It will also serve as a platform where legislators from across the world can meet, discuss common barriers, issues and successes and share information about best legislative practice”.

Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Christiana Figueres said: “It is no exaggeration to say that theclean revolution we need is being carried forward by legislation. Domestic legislation is critical because it is the linchpin between action on the ground and the international agreement. At the national level, it is clear
that when countries enact clean energy policies, investment follows. At the international level, it is equally clear that domestic legislation opens the political space for international agreements and facilitates overall ambition”.

World Bank Group Vice-President and Special Envoy Rachel Kyte said: “2014 is the year we need to step up climate action.  Legislators have a critical role to play in raising political ambition and ensuring that effective laws and regulations support low carbon and resilient development.  For this reason, we’re pleased to support the new Partnership for Climate
Legislation”.

The President of the Mexican Congress, Hon. Ricardo Anaya Cortes said: “With the support of GLOBE, Mexico has passed ambitious climate legislation. We are here today in the US Senate to share our experience, to build a global coalition of parliamentarians against the damaging effects of climate change and to challenge inaction.”

UK Foreign Secretary Rt. Hon William Hague said: “A global and legally binding deal on emissions reductions in the UNFCC in 2015 is imperative. As we work towards that agreement, it is clear that domestic legislation has a key role to play in building consensus and cementing ambition, which is why GLOBE’s work is so important.  The launch of GLOBE’s Partnership forClimate Legislation, with the backing of the UN and World Bank, is an  important step towards sustaining this work for long term, which the UK Government wholeheartedly supports”.

Confirmed Keynote Speakers included:

Representing the United Nations Secretary General’s Office:
* UN Assistant Secretary-General, Dr Robert Orr Representing the World Bank:
* World Bank Group President, Dr Jim Yong Kim
* World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change, Rachel Kyte

Representing the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change:
* UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Christiana Figueres

Representing the United Nations Environment Programmes:
* UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner

Representing the Congress of Mexico:
* President of Congress, Hon. Ricardo Anaya Cortes

 

—————————————————
For further information, please contact:

Study results and policy:
Terry Townshend, Study Author and Policy Director, Mobile: +86 15011 289613
and +44 7900 912808. E-mail: Terry.Townshend@globeinternational.org

Washington Summit:
Andrew Hammond, GLOBE Media Relations, Mobile: +44 7792926576. E-mail:
Andrew.Hammond@globeinternational.org
Office of Senator Markey:
Eben Burnham-Snyder, Telephone +1 202 224 2742, Email
eben_bs@markey.senate.gov
www.globeinternational.org

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Surveillance revelations: Angela Merkel proposes European network to beat NSA and GCHQ spying.

 

 

 

 

Tony Paterson of The Independent writes from Berlin, February 16, 2014 – “Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany has announced plans to set up a European communications network as part of a broad counter-espionage offensive designed to curb mass surveillance conducted by the US National Security Agency (NSA) and its British counterpart, GCHQ.”

{we add here that expected to be left out of the new European defense will be the other Anglo-Saxon partners in the spying conspiracy – the Australian-New Zealand and Canadian allies for the US spying for business deal. We also predict that Germany would love an independent Scotland replacing the present UK membership in the EU.}

The move is her government’s first tangible response to public and political indignation over NSA and GCHQ spying in Europe, which was exposed last October with revelations that the US had bugged Ms Merkel’s mobile phone and that MI6 operated a listening post from the British Embassy in Berlin.

Announcing the project in her weekly podcast, Ms Merkel said she envisaged setting up a European communications network which would offer protection from NSA surveillance by side-stepping the current arrangement whereby emails and other internet data automatically pass through the United States.

The NSA’s German phone and internet surveillance operation is reported to be one of the biggest in the EU. In co-operation with GCHQ it has direct access to undersea cables carrying transatlantic communications between Europe and the US.

Ms Merkel said she planned to discuss the project with the French President, François Hollande, when she meets him in Paris on Wednesday. “Above all we’ll talk about European providers that offer security to our citizens, so that one shouldn’t have to send emails and other information across the Atlantic,” she said. “Rather one could build up a communications network inside Europe.”

French government officials responded by saying Paris intended to “take up” the German initiative.

Ms Merkel’s proposals appear to be part of a wider German counter-espionage offensive, reported to be under way in several of Germany’s intelligence agencies, against NSA and GCHQ surveillance.

Der Spiegel magazine said on Sunday that it had obtained information about plans by Germany’s main domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, for a “massive” increase in counter-espionage measures.

The magazine said there were plans to subject both the American and British Embassies in Berlin to surveillance. It said the measures would include obtaining exact details about intelligence agents who were accredited as diplomats, and information about the technology being used within the embassies.

Last year information provided by the whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that US intelligence agents were able to bug Ms Merkel’s mobile phone from a listening post on the US Embassy roof. Investigations by The Independent subsequently revealed that GCHQ ran a similar listening post from the roof of the British Embassy in Berlin.

Intelligence experts say it is difficult if not impossible to control spying activities conducted from foreign embassies, not least because their diplomatic status means they are protected from the domestic legislation of the host country.

Der Spiegel said Germany’s military intelligence service, (MAD) was also considering stepping up surveillance of US and British spying activities. It said such a move would mark a significant break with previous counter-espionage practice which had focused on countries such as China, North Korea and Russia.

Germany’s counter-espionage drive comes after months of repeated and abortive attempts by its officials to reach a friendly “no spy” agreement with the US. Phillip Missfelder, a spokesman for Ms Merkel’s government, admitted recently that revelations about NSA spying had brought relations with Washington to their worst level since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Der Spiegel claimed that on a single day last year, January 7, the NSA tapped into some 60 million German phone calls. The magazine said that Canada, Australia, Britain and New Zealand were exempt from NSA surveillance but Germany was regarded as a country open to “spy attacks”.

The move is her government’s first tangible response to public and political indignation over NSA and GCHQ spying in Europe, which was exposed last October with revelations that the US had bugged Ms Merkel’s mobile phone and that MI6 operated a listening post from the British Embassy in Berlin.

Announcing the project in her weekly podcast, Ms Merkel said she envisaged setting up a European communications network which would offer protection from NSA surveillance by side-stepping the current arrangement whereby emails and other internet data automatically pass through the United States.

The NSA’s German phone and internet surveillance operation is reported to be one of the biggest in the EU. In co-operation with GCHQ it has direct access to undersea cables carrying transatlantic communications between Europe and the US.

Ms Merkel said she planned to discuss the project with the French President, François Hollande, when she meets him in Paris on Wednesday. “Above all we’ll talk about European providers that offer security to our citizens, so that one shouldn’t have to send emails and other information across the Atlantic,” she said. “Rather one could build up a communications network inside Europe.”

French government officials responded by saying Paris intended to “take up” the German initiative.

Ms Merkel’s proposals appear to be part of a wider German counter-espionage offensive, reported to be under way in several of Germany’s intelligence agencies, against NSA and GCHQ surveillance.

Der Spiegel magazine said on Sunday that it had obtained information about plans by Germany’s main domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, for a “massive” increase in counter-espionage measures.

The magazine said there were plans to subject both the American and British Embassies in Berlin to surveillance. It said the measures would include obtaining exact details about intelligence agents who were accredited as diplomats, and information about the technology being used within the embassies.

Last year information provided by the whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that US intelligence agents were able to bug Ms Merkel’s mobile phone from a listening post on the US Embassy roof. Investigations by The Independent subsequently revealed that GCHQ ran a similar listening post from the roof of the British Embassy in Berlin.

Intelligence experts say it is difficult if not impossible to control spying activities conducted from foreign embassies, not least because their diplomatic status means they are protected from the domestic legislation of the host country.

Der Spiegel said Germany’s military intelligence service, (MAD) was also considering stepping up surveillance of US and British spying activities. It said such a move would mark a significant break with previous counter-espionage practice which had focused on countries such as China, North Korea and Russia.

Germany’s counter-espionage drive comes after months of repeated and abortive attempts by its officials to reach a friendly “no spy” agreement with the US. Phillip Missfelder, a spokesman for Ms Merkel’s government, admitted recently that revelations about NSA spying had brought relations with Washington to their worst level since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Der Spiegel claimed that on a single day last year, January 7, the NSA tapped into some 60 million German phone calls. The magazine said that Canada, Australia, Britain and New Zealand were exempt from NSA surveillance but Germany was regarded as a country open to “spy attacks”.

 

 

###

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

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

 

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

Launch media viewer
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.

—————————–====================————————

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.”

###

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

At this time, when the World watches how the President of Brazil shows full indignation in the news for the fact that her private phone was hacked by US pseudo-Security  services for BUSINESS reasons – and the same was done to the phone of the German President, but she does not complain about it in public, here comes an important German paper and provides us the explanation about this difference.

What Die Welt writes amounts to an ode to the United States for having given Germany its present Democracy.
It even goes so far as saying that Elvis Presley was the real German Revolutionary.

We are sure that Germany does, like Brazil, work hard at building a Cyber-wall with technology intended to keep out foreign snoopers including the US – but the Germans just do not talk about it out of respect for a very shady past and the reality that the US helped them free themselves of themselves.

In the case of Brazil there are no thanks to any favorable past as every Brazilians will tell you that it was the US Intelligence services that held them down for many years, and it was the United States that backed the Brazilian home grown dictators and helped depose any signs of democratization.

Brazil is sort of in the position of Iran – only that they are much nicer about it – but nevertheless have no reason to hold back their indignation at discovering that it was snooping related to their oil industry – the Petrobras company – that propelled the US activity – not any different to what the US did in its relations to Iran – albeit explanations mentioning Cold War reasons just do not hold the water in either case.

We post here the German original article that provides the background for the German side of this difference in attitude.

Links der Woche
Papst Franziskus hat in seinem Apostolischen Schreiben ein Programm seines Pontifikats entfaltet, in dem er für Freude und Begeisterung für das Evangelium Jesu Christi wirbt. Vor allem seine Kritik an den Auswüchsen eines schrankenlosen Marktes hat in Deutschland Aufsehen erregt und eine Debatte über eine dem Menschen dienliche Wirtschaftsordnung ausgelöst. Das vorliegende Papier der Konrad Adenauer Stiftung gibt zunächst den Inhalt des Schreibens in groben Zügen wieder, um danach die drei wichtigsten Fragen – Kapitalismuskritik, Kulturkritik und Kirchenkritik – im Spiegel der deutschen Presse zu erörtern. Mehr dazu unter Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.Seit dem NSA-Skandal droht uns Amerika fremd zu werden. Dabei vergessen wir, was wir Europäer den Vereinigten Staaten verdanken. Weil wir im Geiste alle Amerikaner sind, haben wir es besser. Mehr dazu unter Die Welt.Der Philosoph John Stuart Mill meinte, der Kapitalismus kann glücklich machen. Damit das funktioniert, forderte er Bildung, Gleichberechtigung und Erbschaftssteuern. Mehr dazu unter FAZ.net.
Politische Akademie der ÖVP
Tivoliga­ss­e 7­3
11­20 Wien
Telefon: +4­3-1-8­14­20
E-Mail: akademie@PolAk.at

Meinung 15.01.14 – OPINION IN DIE WELT – re-posted by the Political Academy of the Austrian People’s Party – OEVP.

USA-Bashing

 

Deutschlands Freiheit kommt aus Amerika

 

Seit dem NSA-Skandal droht uns Amerika fremd zu werden. Dabei vergessen wir, was wir Deutsche den Vereinigten Staaten verdanken. Weil wir im Geiste alle Amerikaner sind, haben wir es besser. Von Richard Herzinger

 

Foto: dpa Freundschaftliche Geste: Angela Merkel und Barack Obama beim Besuch des US-Präsidenten 2013 in Berlin

Seit dem NSA-Skandal droht uns Amerika fremd zu werden. Dabei vergessen wir, was wir Deutsche den Vereinigten Staaten verdanken. Weil wir im Geiste alle Amerikaner sind, haben wir es besser. Von Richard Herzinger

Eines der erregendsten Filmdokumente des vergangenen Jahrhunderts kursiert derzeit auf relativ verborgenen TV-Dokumentationskanälen wie ZDF info. Wann und wo immer es wiederholt wird – ich kann meine Augen nicht davon lassen. Und wenn das Amerika-Bashing, im Zusammenhang mit der NSA-Affäre oder bei irgendeinem anderen Anlass, in der deutschen Öffentlichkeit wieder einmal hoch schlägt, wünschte ich mir, diese Aufnahmen würden in regelmäßigen Abständen im Hauptprogramm der größten deutschen Fernsehsender ausgestrahlt.

Unter dem Titel “Als der Krieg nach Deutschland kam” zeigt die mehrteilige Dokumentation eine Auswahl aus hunderten Stunden Filmmaterial, das Kameraleute der US-Armee – darunter später berühmte Regisseure wie Samuel Fuller und Russ Meyer – von deren Vormarsch in Deutschland im Frühjahr 1945 gedreht haben. Man kann virtuell dabei sein, wie die GIs sich mühsam und gefahrvoll von Dorf zu Dorf, von Stadt zu Stadt vorarbeiten, um auf deutschem Boden die verbliebenen Bastionen der NS-Herrschaft zu zerschlagen.

Und man kann nachvollziehen, dass auch dieser letzte Akt des Krieges alles andere als ein Selbstläufer oder gar ein Spaziergang war, sondern den abgekämpften US-Truppen das Letzte an konzentrierter Kampfbereitschaft abforderte. In ihrer planen Nüchternheit, frei von jeglicher Heroisierung, führen diese Schwarz-Weiß-Aufnahmen vor Augen, was wir nachgeborenen Deutschen den Amerikanern zu verdanken haben.

Dank euch, ihr tapferen GIs

Ich jedenfalls empfinde das so, mehr denn je. Das wird mir spätestens klar, wenn ich die Originalbilder von der Eroberung meiner Geburtsstadt Frankfurt am Main sehe, die als Resultat der NS-Barbarei einer Trümmerwüste glich. Mir kommen diese Bilder vor wie ein unabtrennbarer Teil meiner ganz persönlichen Vorgeschichte.

Weil US-Soldaten sich unter Einsatz ihres Leben Straßenzug für Straßenzug durch mir wohl bekannte Frankfurter Schauplätze vorkämpften, konnte ich zehn Jahre später in dieser Stadt in Freiheit geboren werden. Einer Stadt, die dank der Anwesenheit der US-Armee sowie amerikanischen Finanzkapitals und Big Business’ rasch zum Turbo der Verwestlichung der Bundesrepublik aufstieg.

So konnte ich in einem Land aufwachsen, in dem unter amerikanischer Anleitung Demokratie und Rechtsstaat durchgesetzt wurden, das durch den Schutz der USA davor bewahrt wurde, dem kommunistischen Totalitarismus in die Hände zu fallen, und das 1990 seine Einheit niemals so reibungslos gewonnen hätte, wäre ihm nicht das Vertrauen und die vorbehaltlose Unterstützung der Vereinigten Staaten zu Teil geworden.

Elvis war der wahre deutsche Revolutionär!

Ich wurde hineingeboren in ein Land, in dem die sich entwickelnde Zivilität im Wesentlichen gleichbedeutend war mit der Amerikanisierung der Gesellschaft. Rock’n'Roll, Hollywood-Kino, legere Kleidung, ungezwungene Umgangsformen, fast alles, was das Leben in Deutschland lebenswerter machte, war dem kulturellen US-Import geschuldet.

Der Transfer klappte so gut, weil nur die amerikanische Massenkultur wirklich universell ist. Gut, auch die feine englische Art und das französische Savoir-vivre mag manchem Nachkriegsdeutschen aufgeholfen haben, doch nur die amerikanische Lebensart war so leicht und voraussetzungslos von jedermann adaptierbar.

Elvis Presley, der 1958 als Soldat in das Provinznest Bad Nauheim kam und mit “Muss i denn zum Städtele hinaus” demonstrierte, wie man auch einem biederen deutschem Volkslied eine Prise Sex einhauchen kann – dieser Elvis, und kein neomarxistischer und spätleninistischer Doktrinär der 68er-Bewegung, war der wahre Anstifter zur Auflehnung der jungen Generation gegen den Muff des deutschen obrigkeitsstaatlichen Autoritarismus.

Raubt uns Amerika die Freiheit?

Doch nicht nur die Trivialkultur, auch der große Einfluss amerikanischer Kunst, ernster Musik und Literatur trug wesentlich dazu bei, Deutschland in kürzester Zeit in die demokratische Moderne zu katapultieren. Und dieser Zustrom kulturellen und zivilisatorischen Know-hows hat ja bis heute nicht aufgehört. Kaum ein Musikstil, kaum ein Unterhaltungsformat, kaum eine technische Innovation, die sich hierzulande durchsetzt, die nicht aus Amerika käme. Selbst die Formen der Protestkultur, vom Sit-In bis Occupy, wurden und werden von dort übernommen.

Aber Dankbarkeit gegenüber den USA? Ist das nicht nur ein sentimentales Gefühl nostalgischer Transatlantiker, die sich unbelehrbar an der Vorstellung eines unvergänglichen deutsch-amerikanischen Freundschaftsbandes festklammern? Glaubt man publikumswirksamen Kommentatoren wie Jakob Augstein, dann sind Leute, die das tun, bestenfalls naive Vorgestrige, die von kitschigen Reminiszenzen blind gemacht würden für die vermeintliche Wahrheit, dass die USA längst zu einer feindseligen Macht geworden seien, die uns qua Totalüberwachung die Freiheit rauben wollten.

Augstein ärgert sich deshalb darüber, dass Angela Merkel und Joachim Gauck die russische Autokratie kritisieren, statt die Amerikaner als die “viel größere Bedrohung unserer Lebensweise” zu begreifen. Sie seien aber dazu nicht in der Lage, weil sie aus dem Osten stammen und daher ein “Russen-Trauma” hätten, an dem sie sich abarbeiteten, statt sich “auch mal um unsere Rechte zu kümmern” – die, versteht sich, von den bösen Amerikanern mit Füßen getreten würden.

Die Autokraten sitzen immer noch in Osten

Augstein ist nur ein besonders krasses, leider aber bei weitem nicht das einzige Beispiel dafür, wie weit es mit der Verwirrung der politisch-moralischen Maßstäbe hierzulande bereits gekommen ist. Im Gegensatz zu deutschen Intellektuellen, die unter dem amerikanischen Schutzschirm unbegrenzte Meinungsfreiheit praktizieren und sie ohne Risiko zur USA-Kritik einsetzen konnten, mussten Merkel und Gauck erleben, was Unfreiheit tatsächlich bedeutet.

Womöglich kennen sie daher viel besser den grundlegenden Unterschied zwischen einer Demokratie, in der geheimdienstliche Aktivitäten bisweilen auszuufern drohen, und einem Staat wie dem heutigen Russland, in dem die Geheimdienste an der Macht sind und der von ihnen mit rechtloser Willkür beherrscht wird. Und sie ahnen vielleicht deshalb viel besser, was wir verlieren würden, kündigten wir den USA tatsächlich die Freundschaft – oder würden vielmehr umgekehrt von ihnen tatsächlich nicht mehr als Freunde betrachtet.

Was Wladimir Putin kürzlich mit der Ukraine veranstaltet hat, sollte als Illustration ausreichen. Dass wir keinen Erpressungen und Nötigungen einer autoritären Macht ausgesetzt sind, verdanken wir in letzter Instanz dem engen Bündnis mit den Vereinigten Staaten. Ohne dieses wären wir, auch nicht im Verbund mit der EU, auch heute nicht stark genug, um um uns in einer Welt rüder Machtpolitik und globalen Terrors zu behaupten.

Ein moralisches Idyll sind die USA nie gewesen

Dankbarkeit mag keine Kategorie knallharter Interessenpolitik sein, im zivilisatorischen Band zwischen Nationen und ihren Bürger spielt sie jedoch sehr wohl eine entscheidende Rolle. Umso beängstigender ist die Vorstellung, dass die Erinnerung daran, was die Deutschen den USA zu verdanken haben, im Zeichen einer neuen deutschen Selbstzufriedenheit verloren gehen oder für wertlos befunden werden könnte – in der hybriden Annahme, den großen Bruder jenseits des Atlantik nicht mehr zu brauchen. Angesichts der weltpolitischen Rückzugstendenzen der USA müsste man sich aber doch eher sorgen, dass sie an uns wie an Europa insgesamt ganz das Interesse verlieren könnten.

Dabei sind die USA nun wahrlich nie das Gelobte Land oder der fleckenlose Träger des moralisch Guten schlechthin gewesen. Das Sündenregister der US-Außenpolitik ist lang. Im Vergleich zu dem, was die westliche Führungsmacht einst in Korea und Vietnam, aber auch Lateinamerika, angerichtet hat, erscheinen ihre heutigen machtpolitischen Methoden geradezu harmlos. Es ist daher heuchlerisch, wenn Amerikakritiker anführen, gerade jetzt überschritten die USA, etwa wegen des Drohnenkriegs, rote Linien von Recht und Moral, die es uns nicht mehr erlaubten, ihnen die Treue zu halten.

Seine Amerika-Kritik ist dem Deutschen heilig

Und absichtsvoll naiv ist es, zu suggerieren, die US-Geheimdienste hätten früher niemals deutsche Politiker abgehört. Überhaupt war das deutsch-amerikanische Verhältnis nie frei von zum Teil handfesten Konflikten. Irak war nicht das erste und letzte Mal, dass die Deutschen den USA die Gefolgschaft verweigerten, nur das Getöse darum war nie so groß, zum Schaden gereicht hat es der in der weltpolitischen Nische florierenden Bundesrepublik nie. Mag es Völker geben, die unter der US-Dominanz zu leiden hatten. Die Deutschen, die stets von ihr profitiert haben, gehören nicht dazu.

Dankbarkeit bedeutet bestimmt nicht, dass man sich deshalb etwa erwiesene Verstöße der NSA gegen deutsches Recht gefallen lassen müsste. Etwas Differenzierungsbereitschaft wäre freilich angebracht. Wie man die Privatsphäre im Zeitalter der totalen Internet-Kommunikation vor Geheimdienst-Ausspähung schützt und gleichwohl gegen den Terrorismus gewappnet bleibt, ist ein gemeinsames ungelöstes Problem aller westlichen Gesellschaften.

Stutzig wird man, wenn die Überwachungspraxis der NSA in der deutschen Öffentlichkeit zum Generalangriff auf Demokratie und Freiheit hochgespielt wird, die systematische Spionagetätigkeit Russlands und Chinas jedoch keinerlei Empörung hervorruft. Der Spaß hört aber ganz auf, wenn suggeriert wird, die USA, der politische und kulturelle Stifter und Garant unserer Freiheit, seien gar keine Demokratie mehr und sie führten irgendetwas Sinisteres gegen uns im Schilde. Etwa, deutschen Kolumnisten ihr Liebstes zu verbieten: die Amerika-Kritik.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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EU-Klimaziele 2030: Minus 40 Prozent CO2-Ausstoß

 

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

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

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

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Mindeststandards beim Fracking

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Obama promises not to spy on EU leaders

 

18.01.14  – THE EUobserver – by Andrew Rettman

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It promised to push for more, however.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transcript of President Obama’s Jan. 17 speech on NSA reforms.

Published: January 17, 2014

President Obama delivered the following remarks on changes to National Security Agency programs Jan. 17 at the Justice Department in Washington. Transcript courtesy of Federal News Service.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you so much, please have a seat.

At the dawn of our Republic, a small, secret surveillance committee, born out of the Sons of Liberty, was established in Boston. And the group’s members included Paul Revere. At night, they would patrol the streets, reporting back any signs that the British were preparing raids against America’s early patriots.

Throughout American history, intelligence has helped secure our country and our freedoms.

In the Civil War, Union balloons’ reconnaissance tracked the size of Confederate armies by counting the number of campfires. In World War II, codebreakers gave us insights into Japanese war plans. And when Patton marched across Europe, intercepted communications helped save the lives of his troops.

After the war, the rise of Iron Curtain and nuclear weapons only increased the need for sustained intelligence gathering. And so in the early days of the Cold War, President Truman created the National Security Agency, or NSA, to give us insights into the Soviet Bloc and provide our leaders with information they needed to confront aggression and avert catastrophe.

Throughout this evolution, we benefited from both our Constitution and our traditions of limited government.

U.S. intelligence agencies were anchored in a system of checks and balances, with oversight from elected leaders and protections for ordinary citizens.

Meanwhile, totalitarian states like East Germany offered a cautionary tale of what could happen when vast unchecked surveillance turned citizens into informers and persecuted people for what they said in the privacy of their own homes.

In fact, even the United States proved not to be immune to the abuse of surveillance. In the 1960s government spied on civil rights leaders and critics of the Vietnam War. And probably in response to these revelations, additional laws were established in the 1970s to ensure that our intelligence capabilities could not be misused against our citizens. In the long twilight struggle against communism, we had been reminded that the very liberties that we sought to preserve could not be sacrificed at the altar of national security.

Now, if the fall of the Soviet Union left America without a competing superpower, emerging threats from terrorist groups and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction place new and, in some ways, more complicated demands on our intelligence agencies.

Globalization and the Internet made these threats more acute as technology erased borders and empowered individuals to project great violence as well as great good.

Moreover, these new threats raised new legal and new policy questions, for while few doubted the legitimacy of spying on hostile states, our framework of laws was not fully adapted to prevent terrorist attacks by individuals acting on their own or acting in small ideological — ideologically driven groups on behalf of a foreign power.

The horror of September 11th brought all these issues to the fore.

Across the political spectrum, Americans recognized that we had to adapt to a world in which a bomb could be built in a basement and our electric grid could be shut down by operators an ocean away. We were shaken by the signs we had missed leading up to the attacks, how the hijackers had made phone calls to known extremists and traveled to suspicious places. So we demanded that our intelligence community improve its capabilities and that law enforcement change practices to focus more on preventing attacks before they happen than prosecuting terrorists after an attack.

It is hard to overstate the transformation America’s intelligence community had to go through after 9/11. Our agencies suddenly needed to do far more than the traditional mission of monitoring hostile powers and gathering information for policymakers.

Instead, they were now asked to identify and target plotters is some of the most remote parts of the world and to anticipate the actions of networks that, by their very nature, could not be easily penetrated by spies or informants. And it is a testimony to the hard work and dedication of the men and women of our intelligence community that over the past decade we’ve made enormous strides in fulfilling this mission.

Today, new capabilities allow intelligence agencies to track who a terrorist is in contact with and follow the trail of his travel or his funding. New laws allow information to be collected and shared more quickly and effectively between federal agencies and state and local law enforcement. Relationships with foreign intelligence services have expanded and our capacity to repel cyber attacks have been strengthened. And taken together, these efforts have prevented multiple attacks and saved innocent lives — not just here in the United States, but around the globe.

And yet, in our rush to respond to a very real and novel set of threats, the risk of government overreach, the possibility that we lose some of our core liberties in pursuit of security also became more pronounced. We saw in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 our government engage in enhanced interrogation techniques that contradicted our values. As a senator, I was critical of several practices, such as warrantless wiretaps. And all too often new authorities were instituted without adequate public debate.

Through a combination of action by the courts, increased congressional oversight and adjustments by the previous administration, some of the worst excesses that emerged after 9/11 were curbed by the time I took office. But a variety of factors have continued to complicate America’s efforts to both defend our nation and uphold our civil liberties.

        First, the same technological advances that allow U.S. intelligence agencies to pinpoint an al-Qaida (sale ?) in Yemen or an email between two terrorists in the Sahel also mean that many routine communications around the world are within our reach. And at a time when more and more of our lives are digital, that prospect is disquieting for all of us.

       Second, the combination of increased digital information and powerful supercomputers offers intelligence agencies the possibility of sifting through massive amounts of bulk data to identify patterns or pursue leads that may thwart impending threats. It’s a powerful tool. But the government collection and storage of such bulk data also creates a potential for abuse.

      Third, the legal safeguards that restrict surveillance against U.S. persons without a warrant do not apply to foreign persons overseas. This is not unique to America; few, if any, spy agencies around the world constrain their activities beyond their own borders. And the whole point of intelligence is to obtain information that is not publicly available.

But America’s capabilities are unique, and the power of new technologies means that there are fewer and fewer technical constraints on what we can do.

That places a special obligation on us to ask tough questions about what we should do.

And finally, intelligence agencies cannot function without secrecy, which makes their work less subject to public debate. Yet there is an inevitable bias, not only within the intelligence community but among all of us who are responsible for national security, to collect more information about the world, not less. So in the absence of institutional requirements for regular debate and oversight that is public as well as private or classified, the danger of government overreach becomes more acute. And this is particularly true when surveillance technology and our reliance on digital information is evolving much faster than our laws.

For all these reasons, I maintained a healthy skepticism toward our surveillance programs after I became president.
I ordered that our programs be reviewed by my national security team and our lawyers. And in some cases, I ordered changes in how we did business. We increased oversight and auditing, including new structures aimed at compliance. Improved rules were proposed by the government and approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. And we’ve sought to keep Congress continually updated on these activities.

What I did not do is stop these programs wholesale, not only because I felt that they made us more secure, but also because nothing in that initial review and nothing that I have learned since indicated that our intelligence community has sought to violate the law or is cavalier about the civil liberties of their fellow citizens.

To the contrary, in an extraordinarily difficult job, one in which actions are second-guessed, success is unreported and failure can be catastrophic, the men and women of the intelligence community, including the NSA, consistently follow protocols designed to protect the privacy of ordinary people. They’re not abusing authorities in order to listen to your private phone calls or read your emails.

When mistakes are made — which is inevitable in any large and complicated human enterprise, they correct those mistakes, laboring in obscurity, often unable to discuss their work even with family and friends — the men and women at the NSA know that if another 9/11 or massive cyber attack occurs, they will be asked by Congress and the media why they failed to connect the dots. What sustains those who work at NSA and our other intelligence agencies through all these pressures is the knowledge that their professionalism and dedication play a central role in the defense of our nation.

Now, to say that our intelligence community follows the law and is staffed by patriots is not to suggest that I or others in my administration felt complacent about the potential impact of these programs. Those of us who hold office in America have a responsibility to our Constitution. And while I was confident in the integrity of those who lead our intelligence community, it was clear to me in observing our intelligence operations on a regular basis that changes in our technological capabilities were raising new questions about the privacy safeguards currently in place.

Moreover, after an extended review in the use of drones in the fight against terrorist networks, I believe a fresh examination of our surveillance programs was a necessary next step in our effort to get off the open-ended war footing that we’ve maintained since 9/11.

And for these reasons, I indicated in a speech at the National Defense University last May that we needed a more robust public discussion about the balance between security and liberty. Of course, what I did not know at the time is that within weeks of my speech an avalanche of unauthorized disclosures would spark controversies at home and abroad that have continued to this day.

Given the fact of an open investigation, I’m not going to dwell on Mr. Snowden’s actions or his motivations. I will say that our nation’s defense depends in part on the fidelity of those entrusted with our nation’s secrets. If any individual who objects to government policy can take it into their own hands to publicly disclose classified information, then we will not be able to keep our people safe, or conduct foreign policy. Moreover, the sensational way in which these disclosures have come out has often shed more heat than light, while revealing methods to our adversaries that could impact our operations in ways that we might not fully understand for years to come.

Regardless of how we got here though, the task before us now is greater than simply repairing the damage done to our operations or preventing more disclosures from taking place in the future.

Instead we have to make some important decisions about how to protect ourselves and sustain our leadership in the world while upholding the civil liberties and privacy protections our ideals and our Constitution require. We need to do so not only because it is right but because the challenges posed by threats like terrorism and proliferation and cyberattacks are not going away any time soon. They are going to continue to be a major problem. And for our intelligence community to be effective over the long haul, we must maintain the trust of the America people and people around the world.

This effort will not be completed overnight, and given the pace of technological change, we shouldn’t expect this to be the last time America has this debate.

But I want the American people to know that the work has begun. Over the last six months I created an outside review group on intelligence and communications technologies to make recommendations for reform. I consulted with the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, created by Congress. I’ve listened to foreign partners, privacy advocates and industry leaders. My administration has spent countless hours considering how to approach intelligence in this era of diffuse threats and technological revolution.

So before outlining specific changes that I’ve ordered, let me make a few broad observations that have emerged from this process.

           First, everyone who has looked at these problems, including skeptics of existing programs, recognizes that we have real enemies and threats and that intelligence serves a vital role in confronting them.

We cannot prevent terrorist attacks or cyberthreats without some capability to penetrate digital communications, whether it’s to unravel a terrorist plot, to intercept malware that targets a stock exchange, to make sure air traffic control systems are not compromised or to ensure that hackers do not empty your bank accounts. We are expected to protect the American people; that requires us to have capabilities in this field.

Moreover, we cannot unilaterally disarm our intelligence agencies. There is a reason why BlackBerrys and iPhones are not allowed in the White House Situation Room. We know that the intelligence services of other countries, including some who feigned surprise over the Snowden disclosures, are constantly probing our government and private sector networks and accelerating programs to listen to our conversations and intercept our emails and compromise our systems. We know that. Meanwhile, a number of countries, including some who have loudly criticized the NSA, privately acknowledge that America has special responsibilities as the world’s only superpower, that our intelligence capabilities are critical to meeting these responsibilities and that they themselves have relied on the information we obtained to protect their own people.

              Second, just as our civil libertarians recognized the need for robust intelligence capabilities, those with responsibilities for our national security readily acknowledge the potential for abuse as intelligence capabilities advance and more and more private information is digitized. After all, the folks at NSA and other intelligence agencies are our neighbors. They’re our friends and family.

They’ve got electronic bank and medical records like everybody else. They have kids on Facebook and Instagram. And they know, more than most of us, the vulnerabilities to privacy that exist in a world where transactions are recorded and email and text and messages are stored and even our movements can increasingly be tracked through the GPS on our phones.

           Third, there was a recognition by all who participated in these reviews that the challenges to our privacy do not come from government alone. Corporations of all shapes and sizes track what you buy, store and analyze our data and use it for commercial purposes. That’s how those targeted ads pop up on your computer and your smartphone periodically.

But all of us understand that the standards for government surveillance must be higher. Given the unique power of the state, it is not enough for leaders to say: Trust us. We won’t abuse the data we collect. For history has too many examples when that trust has been breached. Our system of government is built on the premise that our liberty cannot depend on the good intentions of those in power. It depends on the law to constrain those in power.

I make these observations to underscore that the basic values of most Americans when it comes to questions of surveillance and privacy converge a lot more than the crude characterizations that have emerged over the last several months. Those who are troubled by our existing programs not interested in repeating the tragedy of 9/11. And those who defend these programs are not dismissive of civil liberties. The challenge is getting the details right. And that is not simple.

In fact, during the course of our review, I’ve often reminded myself I would not be where I am today were it not for the courage of dissidents like Dr. King who were spied upon by their own government. And as president, a president who looks at intelligence every morning, I also can’t help but be reminded that America must be vigilant in the face of threats.

Now, fortunately, by focusing on facts and specifics rather than speculating and hypotheticals, this review process has given me, and hopefully the American people, some clear direction for change. And today I can announce a series of concrete and substantial reforms that my administration intends to adopt administratively or will seek to codify with Congress.

              First, I have approved a new presidential directive for our signals intelligence activities both at home and abroad. This guidance will strengthen executive branch oversight of our intelligence activities. It will ensure that we take into account our security requirements, but also our alliances, our trade and investment relationships, including the concerns of American companies, and our commitment to privacy and basic liberties. And we will review decisions about intelligence priorities and sensitive targets on an annual basis so that our actions are regularly scrutinized by my senior national security team.

            Second, we will reform programs and procedures in place to provide greater transparency to our surveillance activities and fortify the safeguards that protect the privacy of U.S. persons. Since we began this review, including information being released today, we’ve declassified over 40 opinions and orders of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which provides judicial review of some of our most sensitive intelligence activities, including the Section 702 program targeting foreign individuals overseas and the Section 215 telephone metadata program.

And going forward, I’m directing the director of national intelligence, in consultation with the attorney general, to annually review for the purposes of declassification any future opinions of the court with broad privacy implications and to report to me and to Congress on these efforts.

To ensure that the court hears a broader range of privacy perspectives, I’m also calling on Congress to authorize the establishment of a panel of advocates from outside government to provide an independent voice in significant cases before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

               Third, we will provide additional protections for activities conducted under Section 702, which allows the government to intercept the communications of foreign targets overseas who have information that’s important for our national security. Specifically, I’m asking the attorney general and DNI to institute reforms that place additional restrictions on government’s ability to retain, search and use in criminal cases communications between Americans and foreign citizens incidentally collected under Section 702.

            Fourth, in investigating threats, the FBI also relies on what’s called national security letters, which can require companies to provide specific and limited information to the government without disclosing the orders to the subject of the investigation.

Now, these are cases in which it’s important that the subject of the investigation, such as a possible terrorist or spy, isn’t tipped off. But we can and should be more transparent in how government uses this authority.

I’ve therefore directed the attorney general to amend how we use national security letters so that this secrecy will not be indefinite, so that it will terminate within a fixed time unless the government demonstrates a real need for further secrecy. We will also enable communications providers to make public more information than ever before about the orders that they have received to provide data to the government.

This brings me to the program that has generated the most controversy these past few months, the bulk collection of telephone records under Section 215. Let me repeat what I said when this story first broke. This program does not involve the content of phone calls or the names of people making calls. Instead, it provide a record of phone numbers and the times and length of calls, metadata that can be queried if and when we have a reasonable suspicion that a particular number is linked to a terrorist organization.

Why is this necessary? The program grew out of a desire to address a gap identified after 9/11. One of the 9/11 hijackers, Khalid al-Mihdhar, made a phone call from San Diego to a known al- Qaida safehouse in Yemen.

NSA saw that call, but it could not see that the call was coming from an individual already in the United States. The telephone metadata program under Section 215 was designed to map the communications of terrorists so we could see who they may be in contact with as quickly as possible.

And this capability could also prove valuable in a crisis. For example, if a bomb goes off in one of our cities and law enforcement is racing to determine whether a network is poised to conduct additional attacks, time is of the essence. Being able to quickly review phone connections to assess whether a network exists is critical to that effort.

In sum, the program does not involve the NSA examining the phone records of ordinary Americans. Rather, it consolidates these records into a database that the government can query if it has a specific lead, a consolidation of phone records that the companies already retain for business purposes. The review group turned up no indication that this database has been intentionally abused, and I believe it is important that the capability that this program is designed to meet is preserved.

Having said that, I believe critics are right to point out that without proper safeguards, this type of program could be used to yield more information about our private lives and open the door to more intrusive bulk collection programs in the future. They’re also right to point out that although the telephone bulk collection program was subject to oversight by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and has been reauthorized repeatedly by Congress, it has never been subject to vigorous public debate.

For all these reasons,  I believe we need a new approach. I am therefore ordering a transition that will end the Section 215 bulk metadata program as it currently exists and establish a mechanism that preserves the capabilities we need without the government holding this bulk metadata.

This will not be simple. The review group recommended that our current approach be replaced by one in which the providers or a third party retain the bulk records, with government accessing information as needed. Both of these options pose difficult problems. Relying solely on the records of multiple providers, for example, could require companies to alter their procedures in ways that raise new privacy concerns. On the other hand, any third party maintaining a single consolidated database would be carrying out what’s essentially a government function, but with more expense, more legal ambiguity, potentially less accountability, all of which would have a doubtful impact on increasing public confidence that their privacy is being protected.

During the review process, some suggested that we may also be able to preserve the capabilities we need through a combination of existing authorities, better information sharing and recent technological advances, but more work needs to be done to determine exactly how this system might work.

Because of the challenges involved, I’ve ordered that the transition away from the existing program will proceed in two steps.

               Effective immediately, we will only pursue phone calls that are two steps removed from a number associated with a terrorist organization, instead of the current three, and I have directed the attorney general to work with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court so that during this transition period, the database can be queried only after a judicial finding or in the case of a true emergency.

             Next, step two: I have instructed the intelligence community and the attorney general to use this transition period to develop options for a new approach that can match the capabilities and fill the gaps that the Section 215 program was designed to address, without the government holding this metadata itself. They will report back to me with options for alternative approaches before the program comes up for reauthorization on March 28th. And during this period, I will consult with the relevant committees in Congress to seek their views and then seek congressional authorization for the new program, as needed.

Now, the reforms I’m proposing today should give the American people greater confidence that their rights are being protected, even as our intelligence and law enforcement agencies maintain the tools they need to keep us safe. And I recognize that there are additional issues that require further debate. For example, some who participated in our review, as well as some members of Congress, would like to see more sweeping reforms to the use of national security letters, so we have to go to a judge each time before issuing these requests.

Here, I have concerns that we should not set a standard for terrorism investigations that is higher than those involved in investigating an ordinary crime.

But I agree that greater oversight on the use of these letters may be appropriate. And I’m prepared to work with Congress on this issue.

There are also those who would like to see different changes to the FISA court than the ones I’ve proposed. On all these issues, I’m open to working with Congress to ensure that we build a broad consensus for how to move forward. And I’m confident that we can shape an approach that meets our security needs while upholding the civil liberties of every American.

Let me now turn to the separate set of concerns that have been raised overseas and focus on America’s approach to intelligence collection abroad. As I’ve indicated, the United States has unique responsibilities when it comes to intelligence collection. Our capabilities help protect not only our nation but our friends and our allies as well.

But our efforts will only be effective if ordinary citizens in other countries have confidence that the United States respects their privacy too. And the leaders of our close friends and allies deserve to know that if I want to know what they think about an issue I’ll pick up the phone and call them rather than turning to surveillance.

In other words, just as balance security and privacy at home, our global leadership demands that we balance our security requirements against our need to maintain the trust and cooperation among people and leaders around the world. For that reason, the new presidential directive that I’ve issued today will clearly prescribe what we do and do not do when it comes to our overseas surveillance.

To begin with, the directive makes clear that the United States only uses signals intelligence for legitimate national security purposes and not for the purpose of indiscriminately reviewing the emails or phone calls of ordinary folks.

I’ve also made it clear that the United States does not collect intelligence to suppress criticism or dissent, nor do we collect intelligence to disadvantage people on the basis of their ethnicity or race or gender or sexual orientation or religious beliefs. We do not collect intelligence to provide a competitive advantage to U.S. companies or U.S. commercial sectors.

And in terms of our bulk collection of signals intelligence, U.S. intelligence agencies will only use such data to meet specific security requirements: counterintelligence; counterterrorism; counterproliferation; cybersecurity; force protection for our troops and our allies; and combating transnational crime, including sanctions evasion.

In this directive, I have taken the unprecedented step of extending certain protections that we have for the American people to people overseas. I’ve directed the DNI, in consultation with the attorney general, to develop these safeguards, which will limit the duration that we can hold personal information while also restricting the use of this information. The bottom line is that people around the world, regardless of their nationality, should know that the United States is not spying on ordinary people who don’t threaten our national security and that we take their privacy concerns into account in our policies and procedures.

This applies to foreign leaders as well. Given the understandable attention that this issue has received, I’ve made clear to the intelligence community that unless there is a compelling national security purpose, we will not monitor the communications of heads of state and government of our close friends and allies.

And I’ve instructed my national security team, as well as the intelligence community, to work with foreign counterparts to deepen our coordination and cooperation in ways that rebuild trust going forward.

Now let me be clear. Our intelligence agencies will continue to gather information about the intentions of governments, as opposed to ordinary citizens, around the world in the same way that the intelligence services of every other nation does. We will not apologize simply because our services may be more effective. But heads of state and government with whom we work closely and on whose cooperation we depend should feel confident that we are treating them as real partners, and the changes I’ve ordered do just that.

                 Finally, to make sure that we follow through on all these reforms, I’m making some important changes to how our government is organized. The State Department will designate a senior officer to coordinate our diplomacy on issues related to technology and signals intelligence. We will appoint a senior official at the White House to implement the new privacy safeguards that I’ve announced today. I will devote the resources to centralize and improve the process we use to handle foreign requests for legal assistance, keeping our high standards for privacy while helping foreign partners fight crime and terrorism.

I’ve also asked my counselor, John Podesta, to lead a comprehensive review of big data and privacy. And this group will consist of government officials who, along with the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology, will reach out to privacy experts, technologists and business leaders and look how the challenges inherent in big data are being confronted by both the public and private sectors, whether we can forge international norms on how to manage this data and how we can continue to promote the free flow of information in ways that are consistent with both privacy and security, for ultimately, what’s at stake in this debate goes far beyond a few months of headlines or passing tensions in our foreign policy.

When you cut through the noise, what’s really at stake is how we remain true to who we are in a world that is remaking itself at dizzying speed. Whether it’s the ability of individuals to communicate ideas, to access information that would have once filled every great library in every country in the world, or to forge bonds with people on the other side of the globe, technology is remaking what is possible for individuals and for institutions and for the international order. So while the reforms that I’ve announced will point us in a new direction, I am mindful that more work will be needed in the future. On thing I’m certain of, this debate will make us stronger. And I also know that in this time of change, the United States of America will have to lead.

It may seem sometimes that America is being held to a different standard. And I’ll admit the readiness of some to assume the worst motives by our government can be frustrating.

No one expects China to have an open debate about their surveillance programs or Russia to take privacy concerns of citizens in other places into account.

But let’s remember, we are held to a different standard precisely because we have been at the forefront of defending personal privacy and human dignity. As the nation that developed the Internet, the world expects us to ensure that the digital revolution works as a tool for individual empowerment, not government control. Having faced down the dangers of totalitarianism and fascism and communism, the world expects us to stand up for the principle that every person has the right to think and write and form relationships freely, because individual freedom is the wellspring of human progress.

Those values make us who we are. And because of the strength of our own democracy, we should not shy away from high expectations. For more than two centuries, our Constitution has weathered every type of change because we’ve been willing to defend it and because we’ve been willing to question the actions that have been taken in its defense. Today is no different. I believe we can meet high expectations. Together, let us chart a way forward that secures the life of our nation while preserving the liberties that make our nation worth fighting for.

Thank you. God bless you. May God bless the United States of America. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you.

 Video

President Obama criticized Edward Snowden's method of revealing classified information about the NSA's intelligence gathering during a speech Friday.

President Obama criticized Edward Snowden’s method of revealing classified information about the NSA’s intelligence gathering during a speech Friday.

Read more:

‘We must maintain the trust of the American people’

‘We must maintain the trust of the American people’

President ends eavesdropping on friendly foreign governments, changes system of data collection.

Five big takeaways from the speech

Five big takeaways from the speech

Here the major changes in U.S. policy on conducting surveillance both at home and abroad that Obama is proposing.

Obama acknowledges limits in changing intelligence policy

Obama acknowledges limits in changing intelligence policy

Candidate Obama criticized Bush-era policies, but President Obama faces responsibility, concerns about legacy.

Everything you need to know about Obama’s phone surveillance reforms

Everything you need to know about Obama’s phone surveillance reforms

Three changes that were bigger than anyone expected — and what’s still left unsaid.n. 17.

 

Comments

summakor
1/17/2014 10:35 PM GMT+0100
Ok, as a critic of the NSA domestic metadata program: this will do for now. Excellent speech. But speeches, and even presidential directives, are not laws or Supreme Court opinions. The domestic surveillance is too serious a matter to leave to the whims of this or the next president. So yeah, work with Congress to find a formal solution. In the meantime, Congress should simultaneously go ahead and end the current program (doesn’t have to be immediate) and the Court should decide whether it’s even constitutional.
Anthony Poland
1/17/2014 8:58 PM GMT+0100
Summary: Basically, the U.S. is involved in creating terrorism and counter-terrorism technologies, many of which have eventually become adopted by industry. A LOT of these technologies are being used today on YOU, and anyone can purchase them just by owning a business. It seems to me (and a lot of other people), that this is too much of big brother, and it seems like a good time to get out while there is still time.
zhuubaajie
1/17/2014 8:51 PM GMT+0100
So what did Mr. O just demanded of the world? “Trust us”?It’d be hilarious if it is not so sad.

Responding to the clamor over sensational disclosures about the National Security Agency’s spying practices, Mr. Obama said he would restrict the ability of intelligence agencies to gain access to phone records, and would ultimately move that data out of the hands of the government.

But in a speech at the Justice Department that seemed more calculated to reassure audiences at home and abroad than to force radical change, Mr. Obama defended the need for the broad surveillance net assembled by the N.S.A. And he turned to Congress and the intelligence agencies themselves to work out the details of any changes.

“America’s capabilities are unique,” Mr. Obama said. “And the power of new technologies means that there are fewer and fewer technical constraints on what we can do. That places a special obligation on us to ask tough questions about what we should do.”

Noting his own record of opposition to intrusive surveillance and the “cautionary tale” of unchecked state spying in countries like the former East Germany, Mr. Obama said the disclosures raised genuine issues of the balance between liberty and security.

The president gave Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. 60 days to come back with recommendations; the government, for the time being, will continue to collect the data until Congress decides where ultimately it should be held.

Civil-liberties groups and lawmakers who have been critical of the N.S.A.’s practices appeared divided over whether Mr. Obama’s proposal on bulk phone records should be greeted with applause or wariness.

Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon, Tom Udall of New Mexico and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico — three Democrats on the Intelligence Committee who have been outspoken critics of government surveillance — jointly called Mr. Obama’s embrace of that goal “a major milestone,” although they said they would continue to push for other overhauls Mr. Obama did not endorse.

But Anthony D. Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, was more skeptical, noting that Mr. Obama had warned of hurdles with moving the data into private hands. “The bulk collection and retention of data in government warehouses, government facilities, seems to still be an open question,” he said.

While nothing in federal statutes explicitly gives the court the authority to grant requests to obtain the data, the Justice Department decided that it would most likely consent to doing so, in part because for a period several years ago, the court signed off on each query, officials said.

Two strong defenders of the N.S.A., the leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, Representative Mike Rogers, Republican of Michigan, and Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, focused on that change as a potential problem.

“If instituted, that approval process must be made faster in the future than it was in the past — when it took up to nine days to gain court approval for a single search,” they said in a joint statement.

Mr. Obama also said he was taking the “unprecedented step” of extending privacy safeguards to non-Americans, including requiring that data collected abroad be deleted after a certain period and limiting its use to specific security requirements, like counterterrorism and cybersecurity.

“The bottom line,” he said, “is that people around the world — regardless of their nationality — should know that the United States is not spying on ordinary people who don’t threaten our national security.”

Google, which briefly considered moving all of its computer servers out of the United States last year after learning how they had been penetrated by the National Security Agency, was looking for a public assurance from President Obama that the government would no longer secretly suck data from the company’s corner of the Internet cloud.

Microsoft was listening to see if Mr. Obama would adopt a recommendation from his advisers that the government stop routinely stockpiling flaws in its Windows operating system, then using them to penetrate some foreign computer systems and, in rare cases, launch cyberattacks.

Intel and computer security companies were eager to hear Mr. Obama embrace a commitment that the United States would never knowingly move to weaken encryption systems.

They got none of that.

Perhaps the most striking element of Mr. Obama’s speech on Friday was what it omitted: While he bolstered some protections for citizens who fear the N.S.A. is downloading their every dial, tweet and text message, he did nothing, at least yet, to loosen the agency’s grip on the world’s digital pipelines.

White House officials said that Mr. Obama was committed to studying the complaints by American industry that the revelations were costing them billions of dollars in business overseas, by giving everyone from the Germans to the Brazilians to the Chinese an excuse to avoid American hardware and cloud services.

“The most interesting part of this speech was not how the president weighed individual privacy against the N.S.A.,” said Fred H. Cate, the director of the Center of Applied Cybersecurity Research at Indiana University, “but that he said little about what to do about the agency’s practice of vacuuming up everything it can get its hands on.”

Then – In fact, he did more than that: Mr. Obama reminded the country that it was not only the government that was monitoring users of the web, it was also companies like Apple, Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo that had complained so loudly, as members of an industry group called Reform Government Surveillance.

“Corporations of all shapes and sizes track what you buy, store and analyze our data, and use it for commercial purposes,” Professor Cate said. “That’s how those targeted ads pop up on your computer and your smartphone periodically.”

Translation: Corporate America wants to be able to mine Americans’ data, but fears business will be hurt when the government uses it for intelligence purposes.

In fact, behind the speech lies a struggle Mr. Obama nodded at but never addressed head on. It pits corporations that view themselves as the core of America’s soft power around the world — the country’s economic driver and the guardians of its innovative edge — against an intelligence community 100,000 strong that regards its ability to peer into any corner of the digital world, and manipulate it if necessary, as crucial to the country’s security.

But as Mr. Obama himself acknowledged, the United States has a credibility problem that will take years to address. The discovery that it had monitored the cellphone of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, or that it has now found a way to tap into computers around the world that are completely disconnected from the Internet — using covert radio waves — only fuels the argument that American products cannot be trusted.

That argument, heard these days from Berlin to Mexico City, may only be an excuse for protectionism. But it is an excuse that often works.

“When your products are considered to not only be flawed but intentionally flawed in the support of intelligence missions, don’t expect people to buy them,” said Dan Kaminsky, a security researcher and chief scientist at White Ops, an antifraud company whose clients include many of the nation’s biggest data users,

Mr. Obama will have to address those issues at some point. Every time he meets Silicon Valley executives, many of whom enthusiastically campaigned for him, they remind him of their complaints. But at the Justice Department on Friday, he reminded them that the battle for cyberspace runs in all directions.

“We cannot unilaterally disarm our intelligence agencies,” he said at one point in the speech. “There is a reason why BlackBerrys and iPhones are not allowed in the White House Situation Room. We know that the intelligence services of other countries — including some who feign surprise over the Snowden disclosures — are constantly probing our government and private sector networks, and accelerating programs to listen to our conversations, and intercept our emails and compromise our systems.”

BUT THE NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL is titled:

The President on Mass Surveillance

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

Restoring trust in government agencies requires more than a few good restrictions on collecting personal data.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 4th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Op-Ed Columnist at the New York Times.

Brazil Is Abuzz About Snowden

Published: January 3, 2014   –  7 Comments

 

RIO DE JANEIRO — When I visited China in June, my trip happened to coincide with the discovery that Edward Snowden was hiding out in Hong Kong. By then, Snowden’s revelations about the voracious data-collection operation by the National Security Agency was front-page news all over the world. Snowden hadn’t yet been charged for the leak of tens of thousands of pages of classified N.S.A. documents, but it was clear that it was coming. So it was only natural to ask — as many journalists did — would Hong Kong give Snowden asylum if he requested it?

Now I’m in Brazil, where I’ve spent the last few weeks, and wouldn’t you know it? A question very much in the air here is whether Brazil would grant Snowden asylum once his temporary stay in Russia comes to an end. In recent weeks, Snowden had twice expressed publicly his desire to gain asylum to Brazil, once in an open letter published in a newspaper in São Paulo — in which he said he would cooperate with Brazilian authorities investigating the N.S.A. once he was safely inside the country — and then, somewhat more cautiously, in a television interview.

With the possible exception of Germany, there isn’t another nation as publicly irate over the eavesdropping on its citizens and its government as Brazil. Upon learning that the N.S.A. had spied on her personal communications, Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, canceled a state visit. Then, during a speech to the United Nations, she excoriated the United States, even as President Obama stood in the wings.

Along with Germany, Brazil has rekindled a long-stalled effort to create a new structure for Internet governance, one that would be less dependent on American companies and American networks. Virgílio Fernandes Almeida, a government official who is chairman of the country’s Internet Steering Committee, told me that there is no question that the Snowden revelations helped jump-start the effort.

Indeed, two weeks ago, a $4 billion contract for a fighter jet, in which Boeing was said to be the front-runner, went to a unit of Saab instead. Although Saab was the lowest-cost bidder, “The N.S.A. problem ruined it for the Americans,” a Brazilian government source told Reuters.

“Brazil was one of the most targeted countries,” said Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who is based here and is closest to Snowden. “It was more than even Russia or China.”

What is also true is that Greenwald, who has published dozens of stories in The Guardian based on the documents Snowden supplied, did his best to stoke Brazil’s rage. After every print revelation — O Globo, a large Brazilian daily, was his vehicle of choice — he would appear on a popular show similar to “60 Minutes” to talk up his latest bombshell. “Snowden became almost a household name after that,” said Maurício Santoro, a Rio-based human rights advocate for Amnesty International.

And then Greenwald found the document about the surveillance on Dilma’s phone calls, text messages and emails, and all hell broke loose. “It wasn’t a supertechnical document,” Greenwald told me. “It was written for an idiot. It was like, ‘Great news. We have had great success eavesdropping on Dilma.’ 

Perhaps just as infuriating to the Brazilian elites was the discovery that the N.S.A., along with Britain’s secret spy agency, GCHQ, had apparently succeeded in penetrating the private computer network of Petrobas, a giant state-owned oil company and a source of national pride.

“Why did they have to do this to us?” asked Santoro, posing the question many Brazilians still want answered. “Of course we have our disagreements with the U.S., but we are not enemies. What has also been maddening has been the lack of a clear explanation from the Obama administration,” he added.

Yet for all that, Santoro doesn’t think that Brazil will give Snowden asylum. So far, the government has been coy, saying that because Snowden has not applied for asylum through the proper channels, there is nothing to talk about. The way it was explained to me, though, Brazil prefers to use what it likes to call “soft power” on the world stage — global consensus building, that sort of thing. Helping to create an Internet governance system fits nicely in that model. Giving Snowden asylum does not.

Meanwhile, the American government shows no signs of softening its stance of trying Snowden for espionage if it gets its hands on him. It’s worth remembering that another important whistle-blower, Daniel Ellsberg, was eventually put on trial for leaking the Pentagon Papers. The case was thrown out of court largely because of government misconduct, starting with the break-in of the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist.

At least as it concerns the N.S.A., government misconduct is now official policy. We know that thanks to Snowden.
He needs a place to live. Why not you, Brazil?

###

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

 

Yes – a most important outside reason for going to the Memorial for Mandela in Johannesburg was to make a public display out of the US effort to do right to its Southern Subcontinent starting with its largest democracy – Brazil.

Then, as I doubt it was mere coincidence, Obama also shook the hand of Brother Raul Castro. Fareed Zakaria observed these public happenings on his CNN/Global Public Square today.

Both events could have real consequences if followed up by the Administration. It was insane to tape Dilma Rousseff’s phone – now she is Prime Minister of Brazil but once was a Member of a National  Communist Party – like every dissent person was in those days  – including Nelson Mandela. But those days are gone – all what is left is a National reluctance to submit to US CIA-enhanced Capitalism that fights democracies world-wide.

The Castro’s are a different matter. What has been is passe – but what is now is a possible opening to Cuba with an honest effort to brig the Island-State to the fold of democracies, and as shown on TV in Johannesburg Raul is hoping for Dilma’s help. The US is closer by so it could actually be a tripartite cause that proves to Dilma that the US President is not just an occasional kisser.

And further – you convince Dilma and Angela Merkel of Germany as well, that a post-Bush era is started in Washington by giving full AMNESTY to Mr. Snowden who was the first to give them evidence that the bosses in Washington do not trust them – something that is not done among friends. And if it is done so these are clearly not regarded as  friends and Raul gets vindicated if he might insist on making his island into a future Chinese base – just an idea.

We just found that another swallow showed up in Washington – or was this a trained pigeon-carrier? We continue by re-posting it and hope it was not just a trial balloon to be shot down by right-wing Republicans with old-time Sugar-planting and cigar smoking Cubans of Miami friends.

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

NSA Official Offers Amnesty Deal to Edward Snowden

By Agence France-Presse, 15 December 2013

National Security Agency official said in an interview released Friday that he would be open to cutting an amnesty deal with intelligence leaker Edward Snowden if he agreed to stop divulging secret documents.

Related Stories

Rick Ledgett, who heads the NSA’s task force investigating the damage from the Snowden leaks, told CBS television’s “60 Minutes” program that some but not all of his colleagues share his view.

“My personal view is, yes, it’s worth having a conversation about” a possible deal, said Ledgett, according to excerpts of the interview due to air Sunday.

But Snowden would have to provide firm assurances that the remaining documents would be secured.

“My bar for those assurances would be very high… more than just an assertion on his part,” said Ledgett.

Snowden, a former intelligence contractor for the NSA, has been charged with espionage by US authorities for divulging reams of secret files.

He has secured asylum in Russia and insisted he spilled secrets to spark public debate and expose the NSA’s far-reaching surveillance.

But NSA chief General Keith Alexander rejects the idea of any amnesty for Snowden.

“This is analogous to a hostage-taker taking 50 people hostage, shooting 10 and then say ‘You give me full amnesty and I’ll let the other 40 go,’” Alexander told “60 Minutes.”

Alexander said an amnesty deal would set a dangerous precedent for any future leakers.

The four-star general, who is due to retire next year, also said he offered his resignation after the leak but that it was not accepted by President Barack Obama’s administration.

Snowden reportedly stole 1.7 million classified documents and Ledgett said he “wouldn’t dispute” that figure.

About 58,000 of the documents taken by Snowden have been passed to news media outlets, according to the editor of Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

The CBS report also said an NSA analyst had discovered malware designed in China that could “destroy” infected computers.

NSA Information Assurance Director Debora Plunkett said the weapon was called the “Bios Plot,” after the key component in computers that performs basic steps such as turning on the operating system.

The malware was supposed to be disguised as an update for software, and after the user clicked on it, a virus would turn their computer into “a brick,” Plunkett said.

If launched, “Think about the impact of that across the entire globe,” she said. “It could literally take down the US economy.”

The NSA spoke with computer manufacturers to preempt the possible effect of the malware.


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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 29th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Das demokratische Zeitalter

Rezension: Christian Moser [Müller, Jan-Werner (2013): Das demokratische Zeitalter. Eine politische Ideengeschichte Europas im 20. Jahrhundert. Berlin: Suhrkamp Verlag, ISBN 9783518585856, Preis: € 41,10]

Politische Ideen bewegen die Menschen

Das 20.Jahrhundert war das Zeitalter der Ideologien. Der deutsche Politologe Jan-Werner Müller definiert Ideologien als Formen eines leidenschaftlichen, mitunter auch fanatischen Glaubens an Ideen und Entwürfe zur Perfektionierung der Gesellschaft. Nach dieser Lesart stiften Ideologien nicht nur Sinn und versprechen innerweltliche Erlösung, sondern manche „politische Religionen“ wie der Nationalsozialismus oder der Kommunismus erheben den Anspruch, einen „neuen Menschen“ erschaffen zu können.

Mehr dazu unter www.PolAk.at.


Gewinnspiel

Die Politische Akademie verlost fünf Exemplare des Buches edition noir Band 24 „Wohlstandsatlas Österreich“ der Julius Raab-Stiftung.

Die Gewinnfrage lautet: Von wem stammt die berühmte politische Formel „Wohlstand für alle“?

a) Ludwig Erhard
b) Adolf Kolping
c) Alois Mock

Ihre Antwort samt Namen und Adresse schicken Sie bitte bis Di., 03.12.2013, 12:00 Uhr an judith.feldmann@PolAk.at.

Die Politische Akademie wünscht viel Erfolg!

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 20th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

conomic Scene

 

Unavoidable Answer for the Problem of Climate Change.

 

Tokyo Electric Power, via Reuters

Workers removing fuel rods from one of the reactors at the Daiichi plant in Fukushima, Japan, site of a nuclear accident in 2011.

 

 

 

 

Japan’s announcement last week that it would not meet its promise to sharply reduce its carbon emissions met a chorus of disapproval from around the world.

 

Delegates at the international climate talks in Warsaw, which end Friday, lamented Japan’s move as a blow to worldwide efforts to slow global warming. In the Philippines, which is still collecting the dead from Typhoon Hayan, it served as yet another example of the indifference of the rich world to the plight of the world’s poorest nations on the front lines of climate change.

But Japan’s about-face on its climate promises — which followed the government’s decision to shut down its nuclear power generators after the meltdown at the Daiichi nuclear plant in Fukushima — is also an opportunity for a reality check in the debate over how to slow the accumulation of greenhouse gases warming the atmosphere.

It brings into sharp focus the most urgent challenge: How will the world replace fossil fuels? Can it be done fast enough, cheaply enough and on a sufficient scale without nuclear energy? For all the optimism about the prospects of wind, sun and tides to power our future, the evidence suggests the answer is no.

Scrambling to find an alternative fuel to generate some 30 percent of its power, Japan had no choice but to turn to coal and gas. A few years ago, it promised that in 2020 it would produce 25 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than in 1990; last week it said it would, instead, produce 3 percent more.

Japan is unlikely to be the only country to miss its targets. In response to the Fukushima disaster, Germany shut down eight nuclear reactors and said it would close the remaining nine by 2022.

Everybody is promising to fill the gap with renewables. So far, however, coal and natural gas have won out. CO2 emissions in Germany actually increased 1 percent last year, even as they declined in the United States and most of Western Europe.

Between 2010 and 2012, worldwide consumption of nuclear energy shrank 7 percent. Over the same period, the consumption of coal, the dirtiest fuel and the worst global warming offender, rose 4.5 percent. Data released on Tuesday by the Global Carbon Project confirmed that coal accounted for over half the growth in fossil fuel emissions in 2012.

With energy consumption expected to grow by more than half over the next 30 years, the odds seem low that the world can avoid catastrophic warming without carbon-free nuclear power.

Opponents of nuclear energy say the case for nuclear power underestimates its costs and unique risks, including the fact that no other energy source can produce the sudden devastation of a nuclear meltdown. And they say that nuclear proponents overstate the challenge that renewable energy faces in replacing fossil fuels.

But while investment in renewable sources is crucially important to meet new energy needs, nuclear power remains the cheapest and most readily scalable of the alternative energy sources. Difficult as it may be to reduce dependence on coal, nuclear power is probably the world’s best shot.

Take the Energy Information Agency’s estimate of the cost of generating power. The agency’s number-crunchers include everything from the initial investment to the cost of fuel and the expense to operate, maintain and decommission old plants. Its latest estimate, published earlier this year, suggests that power generated by a new-generation nuclear plant that entered service in 2018 would be $108.40 per megawatt-hour. (A megawatt-hour is enough to supply an hour’s worth of electricity to about 1,000 American homes.)

This is not cheap. Even if the government were to impose a carbon tax of $15 per metric ton of CO2, a coal-fired plant would generate power at $100.10 to $135.50 per MWh, depending on the technology. Plants using natural gas could produce electricity for as little as $65.60 per MWh, even after paying the carbon tax.

Still, nuclear power is likely to be cheaper than most power made with renewables. Land-based wind farms could generate power at a relatively low cost of $86.60 per MWh, but acceptable locations are growing increasingly scarce. Solar costs $144.30 per MWh, the agency estimates. A megawatt-hour of power fueled by an offshore wind farm costs a whopping $221.50.

Even these comparisons underestimate the challenges faced in developing wind and solar power on a large scale. They might be clean and plentiful sources, but they require expensive transmission lines from where the sun shines and the wind blows to where the power is needed. Moreover, the sun doesn’t shine at least half the time. The wind doesn’t always blow. And we don’t yet know how to store electricity generated on hot summer days to use on cold winter nights.

The sun has provided half of Germany’s power on some days. On others it has provided next to nothing. It’s not easy to build a power network, let alone an economy, on the basis of such an unreliable energy source.

Perhaps the most levelheaded estimate of the relative cost of alternative fuels comes from the British government, which earlier this year published the price it was prepared to guarantee power generators as an incentive to develop renewable sources.

The exercise underscored just how uncompetitive alternative sources of energy are, compared with coal and gas. It also revealed that nuclear power generated at a new plant in Somerset was expected to be significantly cheaper.

The British government offered to guarantee a price of £92.50 per MWh of power generated at the Somerset plant. For offshore wind, the guarantees ranged from £155 per MWh at plants starting next year to £135 per MWh for those starting in 2018.

What about the danger of nuclear power? What about the fish swimming in cesium-laced waters off the coast of Japan or the tens of thousands of evacuees fleeing radioactive fallout?

In 2007 The Lancet medical journal published a study comparing deaths and illnesses associated with different sources of electricity — both from environmental pollution and accidents. Nuclear energy, it found, was about the safest around. Nuclear energy was responsible for 0.003 accidental deaths per terawatt-hour generated. Coal-fired electricity accounted for 15 times as many.

“More than 10 years of operations would be needed before a single occupational death could be attributed to the plant” at a new French reactor, wrote the authors, Anil Markandya from the University of Bath and Paul Wilkinson from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Chernobyl, the worst nuclear accident in history, produced 50 additional deaths from cancer in 20 years, according to a study by 100 scientists from eight United Nations agencies. Of 800,000 people exposed to its radiation, a maximum of 4,000 may eventually die from cancer, according to the World Health Organization.

Any such deaths are tragic, but there are downsides to all energy sources. The strongest evidence that nuclear energy is much safer than the public believes comes, of all places, from Japan.

In 1945, the United States dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Since then, 500 of the 100,000 or so survivors — 0.5 percent — have died prematurely because of radiation exposure. Six decades worth of analysis of this population suggests the risks from radiation are unexpectedly low.

The climate change scientist James Hansen, former head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, argues that nuclear energy will save lives. In fact, it has prevented some 1.8 million air pollution-related deaths already.

The good news is that the sun and the wind are not the world’s only alternative to fossil fuels. There are risks associated with nuclear power, but it looks a lot better than the energy we’ve got.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 16th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

from:  Holocaust Remembrance <holocaustremembrance@un.org> via sustainabilitank.com 
reply-to:  holocaustremembrance@un.org
 

 

 Holocaust Remembrance <holocaustremembrance@un.org> via sustainabilitank.com 

 

 

The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme, in partnership with
the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect
is organizing a high-level discussion titled

“From Prevention to Protection: the UN Genocide Convention 65 Years On”

Monday, 9 December 2013
10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
ECOSOC Chamber, UN Headquarters in New York

The high-level event will mark the 65th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and bring together experts to examine the challenges of genocide prevention today.

Speakers will include:

United Nations Secretary-General Ban-ki Moon;

Mr. Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information;

Mr. Adama Dieng, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide;

Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court;

Mr. Stuart E. Eizenstat, former Ambassador of the United States to the European Union (1993-1996);

Mrs. María Cristina Perceval, Permanent Representative of Argentina to the United Nations;

and Mr. Mustafa Haid, Founder and Executive Director of Dawlaty, a Beirut-based organization which encourages transitional justice in Syria.

The discussion will be moderated by journalist Tunku Varadarajan, Research Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and a columnist with the Daily Beast.

ONLINE REGISTRATION

For more information on the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme,
please visit www.un.org/holocaustremembrance or email holocaustremembrance@un.org

—————————————-

THIS EVENT IS A PRESENTATION AND REMINDER OF THE REAL REASON WHY THE UN WAS CREATED IN THE AFTERMATH OF WORLD WAR II AND THE FRESH MEMORY OF THE HOLOCAUST – THE EXTREME EXAMPLE OF WHAT THE HUMAN BEAST IS CAPABLE OF DOING.

SINCE THEN THE UN ALSO RECOGNIZED IN 1948 ALSO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL AND THE NEED TO FIGHT GENOCIDE. OTHER HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDED THE DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE PRINCIPLE OF THE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT.

THE UN AS AN INSTITUTION DID NOT LIVE UP TO THE HIGH STANDARDS IT SET TO ITSELF AND GENOCIDE IS PART OF OUR DAILY NEWS – THOUGH NOTHING COMPARES TO WHAT MADMEN ADOLF HITLER AND ADOLF EICHMANN DID.

NEVERTHELESS, PEOPLE LIKE AHMEDI-NEJAD – THE FORMER PRESIDENT OF IRAN AND REGIMES LIKE THE ONGOING ONE  THESE DAYS IN SYRIA OF THE ASSADS,  WERE CELEBRATED BY THE UN OF TODAY – TO ITS IMMENSE SHAME – OR AT LEAST NOT INTERFERED WITH – SOMETHING WE DO NOT TAKE EASY AS WE ALSO CANNOT ACCEPT THE UN INACTION WHEN IT COMES TO THE EFFECTS OF GLOBAL WARMING/CLIMATE CHANGE. THE FACT THAT THE HUMAN RIGHTS BODIES OF THE UN ARE LOADED WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF COUNTRIES THAT DO NOT KNOW HUMAN RIGHTS MAKES THIS DECEMBER 9-TH ASSEMBLY AT THE UN THE MOST IMPORTANT EVENT OF THE YEAR. PLEASE SEE THIS POSTING OF OURS AS AN EXPRESSION OF SUPPORT OF THE UN OF OLD.

ALSO PLEASE NOTE THAT UN SECRETARY GENERAL BAN KI-MOON WILL BE VISITING THE ETERNAL MUSEUM AT THE AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU HOLOCAUST EXTERMINATION CAMP ON NOVEMBER 18-TH WHEN HE PARTICIPATES AT THE ONGOING CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE IN WARSAW, AND THE MEMORY OF THE KRYSTALLNACHT OF NOVEMBER 9, 1938  JUST A MERE 75 YEARS AGO. WE BET HE WILL HAVE CONTENT IN HIS PRESENTATION AT THE DECEMBER 9TH EVENT AT THE UN.

WILL THE NATIONS OF THE UN LISTEN – OR WILL THEY SWAT THIS AS INTERFERENCE WITH WHAT THEY SEE AS POTENTIAL NARROW GAINS – LIKE REACHING OUT FOR THE RICHES THAT BECOMES REACHABLE WHEN THE ICE OF THE POLAR ICE CAPS MELT AWAY?

 THE

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 13th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

from: Holocaust Remembrance <holocaustremembrance@un.org> via sustainabilitank.com

 

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will visit Auschwitz-Birkenau

On 18 November 2013, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, the former Nazi concentration and death camp, to pay tribute to the victims and survivors of the Holocaust.

He will also stress the importance of the UN’s work for genocide prevention, tolerance and peace.

Following the visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Secretary-General will visit the Auschwitz Jewish Center’s Chevra Lomdei Mishnayot Synagogue and Konreich House (a Jewish family home that is now a museum on pre-war Jewish life in Osciwiecim.)

—————–

This will be part of the UN Secretary General’s trip to connect with the Warsaw meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC 19th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention – November 11-22, 2013) and in the shadow of the recent Typhoon Haiyan that devastated the Philippines as another example of humans’ brutality when in denial of the results of their actions.

Further, the visit to Osciwiecim – the city that became infamous under the Auschwitz name – is also in the shadow of the Geneva negotiations on removing the danger of a nuclear Iran that seems to be pledged to give birth to another Holocaust starting with the Jews of the State of Israel.

We hope the World will read into Mr. Ban Ki-moon’s visit of Auschwitz-Birkenau the above two meanings as well.
THE WORLD”S EYES MUST BE OPENED AND A VISIT TO A NAZI EXTERMINATION CAMP IS PROBABLY WHAT COULD JOLT IT TO START BEING SERIOUS WITH THOSE THAT,  INTENTIONALLY OR JUST COINCIDENTALLY,  ARE ON THE PATH OF CAUSING NEW IMMENSE HARM. GOOD JOURNALISTIC COVERAGE OF THIS VISIT COULD HIGHLIGHT THIS NEED.

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

So, still hanging on to the Copenhagen COP15 of 2009 as last meeting that had substance – that is when newly elected President Obama went to Beijing and brought to the meeting the first signs that China is joining the World that tries to be serious about Climate Change – our website  expects that finally at Paris, in 2015, there will be something new to report. We intend to be there!

The upcoming two weeks will see all usual traveling itinerants gather upon Warsaw.
We will not go but recommend    unfccc.int/2860.php  as the information link for these two weeks – November 11-23, 2013.

Thanks to Mairi Dupar of the UK we learn the following – “Climate finance negotiations at COP19 in Warsaw”  to be  matter of substance:

 This new Guide provides negotiators with a synopsis of the key climate finance discussions undertaken during 2013 under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The Guide aims to inform negotiators and stakeholders who are interested in the different climate finance agenda items and deliverables at the 19th Conference of Parties (COP19) to be held in Warsaw. It assesses possible outcomes in Warsaw that can prepare the way – together with decisions at COP20 in 2014 – for the new global agreement on climate change, which will be agreed at the COP in Paris in 2015.

—————-

 So, after the UN as a whole is compelled to enter the post 2015 stage, whatever becomes available at the UN in 2015 becomes norm that is basis for new UNFCCC agreements and it would be ridiculous to expect anything before that. This is why we will introduce in 2015 in our website the new category COP21 of the UNFCCC to follow on our present COP15 category. Sorry – but this is realism. We expect that by that time SE4All will be fully functional and have taken over the goals that once were part of the Commission for Sustainable Development that was eradicated and declared non-functioning at the RIO + 20 ei2 meeting.

For the presently Stakeholders rolling material Download the Guide to climate finance negotiations at COP19 in Warsaw by Alpha Oumar Kaloga and Linde Grießhaber (Germanwatch) with supportfrom David Eckstein (Germanwatch) and Alix Mazounie (RAC-France).

 

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Before COP20 in Peru, there will be a pre-COP activity with the ALBA ministers in Venezuela – so South America will be fully integrated in the preparations that lead to 2015.

The 20th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC is expected to take place in December 2014 in Peru. Venezuela has offered to host a pre-COP ministerial meeting,

dates: 3-14 December 2014   -   location: Peru  

contact: UNFCCC Secretariat   phone: +49-228 815-1000   fax: +49-228-815-1999   e-mail: secretariat@unfccc.int   www: www.unfccc.int  

read more: climate-l.iisd.org/events/unfccc-cop-20/

—————

UNFCCC COP 21

The 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC is expected to take place in December 2015, in Paris, France.

dates: 2-13 December 2015   –   location: Paris, Ile-De-France, France [tentative]  

contact: UNFCCC Secretariat   phone: +49-228 815-1000   fax: +49-228-815-1999   e-mail: secretariat@unfccc.int   www: www.unfccc.int

read more: climate-l.iisd.org/events/unfccc-cop-21/

—-

See also, please -

 

Climate Change: The Road to Paris 2015

In November the next UN Conference of Parties on climate change (COP19) will meet in Warsaw. There is an enormous amount of work to do in Poland and subsequently if we are going to get a global, legally binding agreement on carbon emissions that we committed to achieve at COP21 in Paris in 2015.

Climate Change
In particular we need to set the political parameters around which a deal can be built.

The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, published in September, reinforced the need for a more urgent and effective response to climate change. The 2015 deal remains the most effective way of putting us back on track to limit the global temperature rise to 2 degrees or less.

I was delighted to see the OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría showing leadership on this issue with a major climate change speech last week at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change in London. My old boss Lord Stern chaired the event in which the Secretary-General denounced the lack of progress towards achieving climate security.

The framing of the speech was essentially that we have a much clearer understanding of climate risk than before, yet have done far too little to tackle it, and – unlike the financial sector – do not have a bailout option. The Secretary-General said policies need to be significantly more ambitious (e.g. on achieving a carbon price), coherent (with wider economic policies and goals) and consistent (with government providing better long-term policy certainty).

I was pleased to hear him pledge to make carbon pricing and other environmental policies key elements of the OECD Economic Surveys that assess countries’ comparative economic performance, and promise that the OECD would be closely monitoring countries’ performance in these areas up to 2015 and beyond. Those are significant steps.

The IEA put out complementary analysis in its ‘Redrawing the Energy Map’ in June, including accelerating the phasing-out of subsidies to fossil-fuel consumption, and better systems of protection against energy poverty which do not entrench a reliance on emissions-intensive consumption. And for many years the IEA World Energy Outlook’s Alternative Policy Scenarios have shown we are off-track from achieving sustainable energy policies.

It seems to me that the OECD and IEA’s strong environmental policy messages are even more powerful coming as they do from primarily economic and energy organisations. It helps to reinforce the message that action on climate can be good for the economy and good for energy security.

Both institutions know that, like national governments, they must continue do more to strengthen their message and get their own house in order. The OECD must align its economic, environmental and social policy advice to be consistent and mutually reinforcing. We should be able to move away from talking about ‘green’ policy to simply ‘good’ policy.

I know the IEA is also working hard to ensure it tackles energy and climate security as two sides of the same coin.

After all, following the Secretary-General’s speech in London, Lord Stern, author of the seminal Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, reiterated that we had no choice but to act on all these fronts. And that a focus on innovative solutions could usher in decades of prosperity: “this is a growth story, not a costs story”.

For its part, the UK will continue to meet its own ambitious and legally-binding emissions targets and carbon budgets, reform the energy sector to achieve energy and climate security, and play a leading role in an ambitious EU programme of economic and environmental transformation.

Meanwhile we will continue to be vocal supporters of the OECD and IEA on these issues as they work together to present the most compelling analysis and pragmatic policy solutions to governments. There is very little time ahead of the big 2015 meeting in Paris.

(Warsaw, 11 November 2013) – The UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw
began today with calls for governments to harness the strong groundswell of
action on climate change across all levels of government, business and
society and make real progress here towards a successful, global climate
change agreement in 2015.

The  President of the Conference of the Parties (COP 19/CMP 9), is
H. E. Mr. Marcin Korolec, Poland’s Environment Minister. He said in his
opening address that climate change is a global problem that must be turned
further into a global opportunity.
“It’s a problem if we can’t coordinate our actions. It becomes opportunity
where we can act together. One country or even a group cannot make a
difference. But acting together, united as we are here, we can do it.”

In her opening speech at the Warsaw National Stadium, the venue of COP 19,
Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on
Climate Change, called on delegates to “win the Warsaw opportunity” in
order to safeguard present and future generations.

“We must stay focused, exert maximum effort for the full time and produce a
positive result, because what happens in this stadium is not a game. There
are not two sides, but the whole of humanity. There are no winners and
losers, we all either win or lose in the future we make for ourselves.”

Ms. Figueres pointed to the sobering realities of climate change and the
rise in extreme events that climate science has long predicted, including
the devastating Typhoon Haiyan that just hit the Philippines, one of the
most powerful typhoons ever to make landfall.

Ms. Figueres highlighted the key areas in which COP 19 can make progress:

“We must clarify finance that enables the entire world to move towards
low-carbon development. We must launch the construction of a mechanism that
helps vulnerable populations to respond to the unanticipated effects of
climate change. We must deliver an effective path to pre-2020 ambition, and
develop further clarity for elements of the new agreement that will shape
the post-2020 global climate, economic and development agendas”.

In addition, the meeting in Warsaw will focus on decisions that will make
fully operational the new institutional support under the UNFCCC for
developing nations in finance, adaptation and technology. These are the
Green Climate Fund, the Technology Mechanism and the Adaptation Committee,
all agreed in Cancun in 2010.

Ms. Figueres stressed the fact that the meeting in Warsaw is taking place
against the background of growing awareness that climate change is real and
accelerating, and the growing willingness of people, businesses and
governments to take climate action, at all levels of society and policy.

“There is a groundswell of climate action. Not only for environmental
reasons, but also for security, energy, economic and governance reasons.
Political will and public support favour action now.       A new universal
climate agreement is within our reach. Agencies, development banks,
investors and subnational governments are on board. The science from the
IPCC is clear. Parties can lead the momentum for change and move together
towards success in 2015.

 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 10th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Henrik Ibsen 1828-1906 is for the Scandinavians what Shakespeare is for the Anglo-Saxons, Gogol and Chekhov for the Slavs or Cervantes for the Spaniards. These individuals saw man as he or she are and their writings become globalized. Take then a Bertolt Brecht “theater of ideas” approach to the staging of an Ibsen play – or a play of any of the great playwrights  – get the acting up to an intelligent level  so that there are hints to the daily live of the audience – don’t over-do it – let the audience participate  directly – and the show turns into an event. That is great theater today and ever.

While on Broadway a Tennessee Williams great play – “The Glass Menagerie” – is these days over-staged, over-laud, over expensive – a must for tourists that can afford $300 for a seat, across the river in Brooklyn, at the incomparable masterpiece Harvey Theater – named after Harvey Lichtenstein – who was a former dancer who became arts administrator and for 32-year  the executive director of the Brooklyn Academy of Music that he turned with his strong will from a struggling mainly unused opera house into a Mecca for new legitimate theater.  At the Academy building started out people like Robert Wilson and the yearly New Wave Festival was just a natural outgrowth. Then there was the need of a second theater and The Harvey Theater Hall was born just one block away on Fulton Street. Now foreign directors bring their companies from overseas to teach America how to get back to the promise of good theater. We just got to witness there a truly great production of a play, for one tenth of the cost of the Broadway theater, and got to learn a lot about ourselves as well. These foreigners truly understood the US, while the US theater on Broadway showed very little understanding of the foreigners that leave the theater there with a feeling of being had.

Looking up via the internet we found – “The Enemy of the People” (1882), follows earlier Ibsen plays, where controversial elements were important and even pivotal components of the action, but they were on the small scale of individual households. In An Enemy, controversy became the primary focus, and the antagonist was the entire community. One primary message of the play is that the individual, who stands alone, is more often “right” than the mass of people, who are portrayed as ignorant and sheep-like. Contemporary society’s belief was that the community was a noble institution that could be trusted, a notion Ibsen challenged.

In An Enemy of the People, Ibsen chastised not only the conservatism of society, but also the liberalism of the time. He illustrated how people on both sides of the social spectrum could be equally self-serving.

An Enemy of the People was written as a response to the people who had rejected his previous work, Ghosts. The plot of the play is a veiled look at the way people reacted to the plot of Ghosts. In “Enemy” the protagonist is a physician in a vacation spot whose primary draw is a public bath. The doctor discovers that the water is contaminated by the local tannery. He expects to be acclaimed for saving the town from the nightmare of infecting visitors with disease, but instead he is declared an ‘enemy of the people’  by the locals, who band against him and even throw stones through his windows.
The play ends with his complete ostracism. It is obvious to the reader that disaster is in store for the town as well as for the doctor.

Then the source continues – As audiences by now expected, Ibsen’s next play again attacked entrenched beliefs and assumptions; but this time, his attack was not against society’s mores, but against overeager reformers and their idealism. Always an iconoclast, Ibsen was equally willing to tear down the ideologies of any part of the political spectrum, including his own.   Ibsen thus liked more the interaction of positions rather then the taking of a position. In effect the whole society is being criticized by Ibsen.

The Wild Duck (1884)  that followed The Enemy is by many considered Ibsen’s finest work, and it is certainly the most complex. It tells the story of Gregers Werle, a young man who returns to his hometown after an extended exile and is reunited with his boyhood friend Hjalmar Ekdal. Over the course of the play, the many secrets that lie behind the Ekdals’ apparently happy home are revealed to Gregers, who insists on pursuing the absolute truth, or the “Summons of the Ideal”. Among these truths: Gregers’ father impregnated his servant Gina, then married her off to Hjalmar to legitimize the child. Another man has been disgraced and imprisoned for a crime the elder Werle committed. Furthermore, while Hjalmar spends his days working on a wholly imaginary “invention”, his wife is earning the household income.

Dr. Stockman is the idealist who naively believes he can win by being right, but then encounters the truth that all levels of society are corrupt. Some start on the corruption path knowingly and others backstep into it because circumstances might otherwise turn them into major losers.
Nobody is ready to lose intentionally.

The Enemy that hit the Harvey Theater comes from the Schaubuhne at the Lehniner Platz (The Lenin Square) in what used to be East Berlin. The artistic genius – Director Thomas Ostermeier -  was responsible for this production as he was for several previous shows that were seen previously at the BAM.

The acting was impeccable – down to the facial expressions of the stage dog. There were minutes of talking without words and you knew exactly what they were saying. Only very seldom did the actors shout – and that was in cases of natural crescendo. I was able to understand the clear German and compliment it with the flashed English. The updates were in many cases just results on inflection and accent rather then as changes in wording. Nevertheless we understood that the closing of the bath would lead to unimaginable economic losses that the town will not allow. The vested interests were ready to fight back and had already prepared an alternate study that says there is nothing at fault with those waters – this sort of the Koch Brothers funded pseudo-scientific studies that say there is no man-made global warming.

Then, if one was going to do any changes to the water system it would cost money and nobody will want to pay higher taxes in order to pay-off the debt that the town will incur. In the end this becomes the common attitude to all those involved – just like in the USA of 2013. At this point some of the actors moved over to the audience and an exchange started that brought in regular members of the audience. When eventually Dr. Stockman is bombarded with paint balls the audience seems like having been wrestled down as well – though those balls originated from the theater hall.

YES – WE ARE ALL THE ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE – this because except for Dr. Stockman and his faithful wife nobody is left with ideals – and the young couple themselves have been presented with the shares of those baths, bought up by the father in law who invested in this the money that he had intended originally for them as inheritance. Now they can be rich if they only declare that they have a way to save those baths.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 5th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 
UNFCCC COP 19
INVITATION FOR ARTICLES
Stakeholder Forum will be publishing daily editions of Outreach magazine during the 19th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP19) taking place from Monday 11th – Friday 22nd November 2013, in Warsaw, Poland and invites stakeholders to contribute material to be included in the magazine.
We also encourage stakeholders to sign up to the Outreach mailing list to receive the email version of the magazine during the conference. You can subscribe here.
The content of the daily editions will be based on a series of themes, which are listed below, along with the deadlines for content and publishing dates.
 
Publishing Date Theme
Final deadline for content (9am CET [GMT+1] each day)
Monday 11 November
Framework for Climate Action
Sunday 10 November
Tuesday 12 November
Energy and Climate Change
 
Monday 11 November
Wednesday 13 November
Disasters, Security, loss and damage
Tuesday 12 November
Thursday 14 November
Forests and agriculture
Wednesday 13 November
Friday 15 November
Climate Change and Health
Thursday 14 November
Monday 18 November Gender and Climate Change Friday 15 November
Tuesday 19 November Climate and development Sunday 17 November
Wednesday 20 November Private Sector, Innovation and Climate Change Monday 18 November
Thursday 21 November Cities, Urban Governance and Transport Tuesday 19 November
Friday 22 November Water and oceans Wednesday 20 November
Friday 29 November Wrap up edition – The road to Paris 2015 (reflections on the events of COP19 and looking forward to 2015) Wednesday 27 November
Articles should be 550-700 words in length and should be relevant to the COP19 negotiations and UNFCCC processes. Submissions can be previously published material, as long as the content is up-to-date and still has relevance. Please note that we are not a research journal and articles should present opinions, ideas and recommendations using non-expert language. Full guidelines for submissions are available here.
Please contact Amy Cutter acutter@stakeholderforum.org if you are interested in contributing an article on one of the above themes or if you have any questions. When getting in touch, please provide details of the article you plan to submit.

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