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

 

Goa Carnival expects to attract more than 250,000 visitors this year.

GOA was a Potuguese Colony that was ceded to India. The people are mainly christian and still carry Portuguese culture.

Published on : Friday, February 14, 2014

Goa Carnival           West India Goa’s state annual Goa Carnival is expected to attract more than 250,000 visitors this year, Press Trsut of India (PTI) reported.

The non-stop festival will be held from March 1 to 5 in the main cities of the coastal state beginning with a float parade in state capital Panaji.

“Tourists are expected to arrive in droves to witness colourful parades scheduled in various cities,” said State Tourism Department director Nikhil Desai.

          “Occupancy in several hotels across the state is high. People have booked their tickets to participate in the festival,” Nikhil said.

           A float parade organised by the Tourism Department will be led by     King Momo, a ceremonial figure who proclaims the decree of eating, drinking and merry making during the carnival.

          The Goa Carnival is celebrated throughout Goa and ends days before the season of Lent that precedes Easter.

 

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THE MOST BRAZILIAN OF ALL SPANISH CARNIVALS.

 

Carnival

The Greatest event is THE FUNERAL OF THE SARDINE OF TENERIFE.

Actually – the climax comes on Carnival Tuesday with “el Coso”, a spectacular parade which will amaze everyone who sees it. The next day the Burial of the Sardine marks the end of the festivities: the spirit of Carnival, symbolised by the sardine, is carried through the streets on a funeral bier, and is then set on fire and consumed by the flames to the despair of the entourage of inconsolable and “grief-stricken” widows, widowers and mourners. The final ending, however, is really the celebration of the “Piñata Chica” at the weekend, with shows, dances and parades. If you are planning to come to the Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival you should make your arrangements well in advance. This already popular destination, with its year-round attraction of sun and beautiful beaches, is in even greater demand at this time.

 

Practical information:

Date:   From Feb 28, 2014 to Mar 9, 2014
Place:  Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Tenerife. Canary Islands)
CARNIVAL in SANTA CRUZ  and PUERTO DE LA CRUZ
YEAR   DATES PARADE Santa Cruz FUNERAL of the Sardine PARADE Puerto de la Cruz
2012 12/02-26/02 21/02 22/02 25/02
2013 03/02-17/02 12/02 13/02 16/02
2014 23/02-09/03 04/03 05/03 08/03
2015 08/02-22/02 17/02 18/02 21/02
2016 31/01-14/02 09/02 10/02 13/02

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 25th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 Questions for the European Left   by Pilar Rahola in The Guardian.
brought to our attention by a Canadian cousin who is very proud of Canada’s position on the Middle East – as expressed by its Prime Minister Harper’s recent visit to Jerusalem.

 


Dr. Pilar Rahola i Martínez is a Spanish journalist, writer (writes also for the Guardian – the paper we honor most) a former politician and Member of Parliament. 

Rahola studied Spanish and Catalan Philology at the Universitad de Barcelona. A Spanish Catholic leftist that denounces the anti Israel wave for its antisemitism – which is not socially acceptable  correct diplomacy anymore, but says anti Israel is the same – but seemingly the more accepted course to go.

Quite a lady.  What she writes is more impressive because she is NOT Jewish.  Her articles are published in Spain and in some of the most important newspapers in Latin America.          en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilar_Rahola

 Questions for the European Left   by Pilar Rahola

Why don’t we see demonstrations against Islamic dictatorships in London, Paris , Barcelona ? 

Or demonstrations against the Burmese dictatorship? 

Why aren’t there demonstrations against the enslavement of millions of women who live without any legal protection? 

Why aren’t there demonstrations against the use of children as human bombs where there is conflict with Islam? 

Why has there been no leadership in support of the victims of Islamic dictatorship in Sudan ? 

Why is there never any outrage against the acts of terrorism committed against Israel ? 

Why is there no outcry by the European left against Islamic fanaticism? 

Why don’t they defend Israel’s right to exist? 

Why confuse support of the Palestinian cause with the defense of Palestinian terrorism? 

And finally, the million dollar question: Why is the left in Europe and around the world obsessed with the two most solid democracies, the United States and Israel, and not with the worst dictatorships on the planet? The two most solid democracies, who have suffered the bloodiest attacks of terrorism, and the left doesn’t care. 

And then, to the concept of freedom. In every pro-Palestinian European forum I hear the left yelling with fervor: “We want freedom for the people!” 

Not true. They are never concerned with freedom for the people of Syria or Yemen or Iran or Sudan, or other such nations. And they are never  preoccupied when Hamas destroys freedom for the Palestinians. They are only concerned with using the concept of Palestinian freedom as a weapon against Israeli freedom. The resulting consequence of these ideological pathologies is the manipulation of the press. 

The international press does major damage when reporting on the question of the Israeli-Palestinian issue. On this topic they don’t inform, they propagandize. 

When reporting about Israel, the majority of journalists forget the reporter code of ethics. And so, any Israeli act of self-defense becomes a massacre, and any confrontation, genocide. So many stupid things have been written about Israel that there aren’t any accusations left to level against her. 

At the same time, this press never discusses Syrian and Iranian interference in propagating violence against Israel, the indoctrination of children, and the corruption of the Palestinians. And when reporting about victims, every Palestinian casualty is reported as tragedy and every Israeli victim is camouflaged, hidden or reported about with disdain. 

And let me add on the topic of the Spanish left. Many are the examples that illustrate the anti-Americanism and anti-Israeli sentiments that define the Spanish left. For example, one of the leftist parties in Spain has just expelled one of its members for creating a pro-Israel website. I quote from the expulsion document: “Our friends are the people of Iran, Libya and Venezuela, oppressed by imperialism, and not a Nazi state like Israel .” 

In another example, the socialist mayor of Campozuelos changed Shoah Day, commemorating the victims of the Holocaust, with Palestinian Nabka Day, which mourns the establishment of the State of Israel, thus showing contempt for the six million European Jews murdered in the Holocaust. 

Or in my native city of Barcelona, the city council decided to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the creation of the State of Israel, by having a Week of solidarity with the Palestinian people. Thus, they invited Leila Khaled, a noted terrorist from the 70′s and current leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a terrorist organization so described by the European Union, which promotes the use of bombs against Israel . 

This politically correct way of thinking has even polluted the speeches of President Zapatero. His foreign policy falls within the lunatic left, and onissues of the Middle East, he is unequivocally pro-Arab. I can assure you that in private, Zapatero places on Israel the blame for the conflict in the Middle East , and the policies of Foreign Minister Moratinos reflect this. The fact that Zapatero chose to wear a kafiah in the midst of the Lebanon conflict is no coincidence; it’s a symbol. 

Spain has suffered the worst terrorist attack in Europe and it is in the crosshairs of every Islamic terrorist organization. As I wrote before, they
Kill us with cell phones hooked to satellites connected to the Middle Ages. And yet the Spanish left is the most anti-Israeli in the world. 

And then it says it is anti-Israeli because of solidarity. This is the madness I want to denounce in this conference.

 
 Conclusion: 


I am not Jewish. Ideologically I am left and by profession a journalist. Why am I not anti-Israeli like my colleagues? Because as a non-Jew I have the Historical responsibility to fight against Jewish hatred and currently against the hatred for their historic homeland, Israel .

To fight against anti-Semitism is not the duty of the Jews, it is the duty of the non-Jews. 
 
As a journalist it is my duty to search for the truth beyond prejudice, lies and manipulations. The truth about Israel is not told. As a person from the left who loves progress, I am obligated to defend liberty, culture, civic education for children, coexistence and the laws that the Tablets of the Covenant made into universal principles. 
 
Principles that Islamic fundamentalism systematically destroys. That is to say, that as a non-Jew, journalist and lefty, I have a triple moral duty with Israel, because if Israel is destroyed, liberty, modernity and culture will be destroyed too. 
 
The struggle of Israel, even if the world doesn’t want to accept it, is the struggle of the world.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 8th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

THINGS GET MESSIER AND MESSIER – THE FOLLOWING IS A MASTERPIECE!OR SHOULD WE SAY – A MESSPIECE !!


“What If Snowden Was on Board the Bolivian President’s Jet?”

Violeta Ayala* – a *Bolivian “Imdian” filmmaker writes in The Huffington Post on July 4th but shown to us only now.

A month ago I was invited to a lunch in La Paz, the highest capital in the world and the capital of my country Bolivia. It was at the stylish residence of the French ambassador. We were a group of filmmakers, invited to wine and dine at the embassy. Two of us were indigenous and the rest belonged to the traditional ruling class of Bolivia. Sitting around a fancy table with diplomats, a butler served us quiche and wine.

During lunch, the French Ambassador made a comment about Bolivia, saying, it had taken France hundreds of years to become a Republic and that we need to forget in Bolivia about this business of being Indigenous or European. Then he said, “Bolivia is just being born.”

I felt like my head was about to explode and I can tell you, it wasn’t the wine or the altitude!

“Excuse me dear Ambassador, who has just been born? My people have lived on this land for thousands of years. We built an empire that you helped to destroy, but today we have an indigenous President of Aymaran origin, Evo Morales who was elected democratically in 2005. The idea of a Republic might have worked in France, but not in The Plurinational State of Bolivia, a multi-ethnic country with 38 official languages!”

This little incident made me think about how much respect European countries actually have for my people.

Last night, when I was in Paris of all places, I heard the news and I felt the fuzzy feeling of another head explosion. I’d just seen on Twitter that Bolivia’s presidential jet carrying Evo Morales was denied permission to fly through French, Portuguese and Italian airspace on route to Bolivia on the grounds of a rumor. It was suspected Edward Snowden was hiding on board winging his way to safety in Bolivia.

President Morales had been visiting Moscow, as one of the 13 members of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF). An overlooked fact, however, is that while he was in Moscow, President Morales’ jet was never at Sheremetyevo airport where Edward Snowden is supposed to be waiting in transit. It seems like a bad joke that with all the access the NSA has to everyone’s email and phone calls that they couldn’t figure out if one guy was on a plane.

So, where did the rumor start?

Was it the U.S. government’s intention to stop Evo’s plane? Or was it to scare Bolivia, because Evo Morales had said he would consider an asylum request from Snowden? Or to scare any country who might consider helping Snowden? Or was it to scare Snowden himself so he stays put in Russia and has no other option but to accept Putin’s condition to stop releasing more documents?

The intentions are anyone’s guess, but what would the U.S. response have been if Obama’s jet, Air Force One, had received the same treatment as Bolivia’s president and been forced down while on route to Washington?

As for the rumors about Snowden being on Evo’s jet… Beyond ridiculous. How do you think Russia would react if Snowden disappeared from under the watchful eye of Russian security? I have no doubt President Putin is happy to have Snowden in transit waiting to play him as a pawn at the right time. The U.S. Government can’t be that naïve to think a good-hearted Putin would let Snowden go so easily? Would the U.S. allow a Russian whistleblower to slip through their fingers at the airport in Washington?

I think we can say for certain that all the countries involved in this little saga knew Snowden wasn’t on or anywhere near the Bolivian presidential jet. But what if, hypothetically Snowden was able to sneak past the FSB, Russian police, airport security and get on that plane? The Bolivian government has the right to grant asylum to whomever they decide is facing persecution.

I would like people to know that today the U.S. hosts some of Bolivia’s largest criminals. One such person is the former president, Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, and two of his ministers who are wanted in Bolivia, not for information leaks, but to face charges for the killing of 60 people who were protesting against his government’s policies to sell Bolivia’s resources to U.S. corporations. Sanchez de Lozada escaped Bolivia in a jet in 2003 and to this day the U.S. refuses to accept Bolivia’s extradition request for him.

I can only wonder looking out my hotel window in Paris why the French government started this nonsense that could have put the life of Bolivia’s president at risk?

Remember, it wasn’t the U.S. refusing air space to a presidential jet; it was the Republic of France, an independent country founded on the principles of Liberte, Egalite and Fraternite, refusing air space to a jet carrying the first indigenous president of Bolivia.

And now, the French government has said they didn’t know Bolivia’s president Evo Morales was on the presidential jet, the Spanish government say they didn’t do it, and the Portuguese say it was a technical problem.

Today is the 4th of July and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) is holding an emergency meeting in my hometown of Cochabamba to formulate their response to what was done to Bolivia’s presidential plane. Evo Morales has threatened to close the U.S. Embassy in Bolivia and the “Poncho Rojos” — Aymara Warriors have burned French flags outside the French Embassy in La Paz as a symbolic declaration of war.

As for me I celebrated the constitution of freedom of the founding fathers of the United States of America, with a glass of champagne next to a canal in the very country that gave the Statue of Liberty to the USA.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 8th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Daniel Ellsberg: Edward Snowden was right to flee.

The man who leaked the Pentagon Papers says the NSA leaker could not speak out if he had stayed.

That was then – and now is now!!!

Opinions
Snowden made the right call when he fled the U.S.
By Daniel Ellsberg, In The Washington Post of July 8, 2013.

Daniel Ellsberg is the author of “Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers.” He was charged in 1971 under the Espionage Act as well as for theft and conspiracy for copying the Pentagon Papers. The trial was dismissed in 1973 after evidence of government misconduct, including illegal wiretapping, was introduced in court.

Many people compare Edward Snowden to me unfavorably for leaving the country and seeking asylum, rather than facing trial as I did. I don’t agree. The country I stayed in was a different America, a long time ago.

After the New York Times had been enjoined from publishing the Pentagon Papers — on June 15, 1971, the first prior restraint on a newspaper in U.S. history — and I had given another copy to The Post (which would also be enjoined), I went underground with my wife, Patricia, for 13 days. My purpose (quite like Snowden’s in flying to Hong Kong) was to elude surveillance while I was arranging — with the crucial help of a number of others, still unknown to the FBI — to distribute the Pentagon Papers sequentially to 17 other newspapers, in the face of two more injunctions. The last three days of that period was in defiance of an arrest order: I was, like Snowden now, a “fugitive from justice.”

Yet when I surrendered to arrest in Boston, having given out my last copies of the papers the night before, I was released on personal recognizance bond the same day. Later, when my charges were increased from the original three counts to 12, carrying a possible 115-year sentence, my bond was increased to $50,000. But for the whole two years I was under indictment, I was free to speak to the media and at rallies and public lectures. I was, after all, part of a movement against an ongoing war. Helping to end that war was my preeminent concern. I couldn’t have done that abroad, and leaving the country never entered my mind.

There is no chance that experience could be reproduced today, let alone that a trial could be terminated by the revelation of White House actions against a defendant that were clearly criminal in Richard Nixon’s era — and figured in his resignation in the face of impeachment — but are today all regarded as legal (including an attempt to “incapacitate me totally”).

I hope Snowden’s revelations will spark a movement to rescue our democracy, but he could not be part of that movement had he stayed here. There is zero chance that he would be allowed out on bail if he returned now and close to no chance that, had he not left the country, he would have been granted bail. Instead, he would be in a prison cell like Bradley Manning, incommunicado.

He would almost certainly be confined in total isolation, even longer than the more than eight months Manning suffered during his three years of imprisonment before his trial began recently. The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Torture described Manning’s conditions as “cruel, inhuman and degrading.” (That realistic prospect, by itself, is grounds for most countries granting Snowden asylum, if they could withstand bullying and bribery from the United States.)

Snowden believes that he has done nothing wrong. I agree wholeheartedly. More than 40 years after my unauthorized disclosure of the Pentagon Papers, such leaks remain the lifeblood of a free press and our republic. One lesson of the Pentagon Papers and Snowden’s leaks is simple: secrecy corrupts, just as power corrupts.

In my case, my authorized access in the Pentagon and the Rand Corp. to top-secret documents — which became known as the Pentagon Papers after I disclosed them — taught me that Congress and the American people had been lied to by successive presidentsand dragged into a hopelessly stalemated war that was illegitimate from the start.

Snowden’s dismay came through access to even more highly classified documents — some of which he has now selected to make public — originating in the National Security Agency (NSA). He found that he was working for a surveillance organization whose all-consuming intent, he told the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald, was “on making every conversation and every form of behavior in the world known to them.”

It was, in effect, a global expansion of the Stasi, the Ministry for State Security in the Stalinist “German Democratic Republic,” whose goal was “to know everything.” But the cellphones, fiber-optic cables, personal computers and Internet traffic the NSA accesses did not exist in the Stasi’s heyday.

As Snowden told the Guardian, “This country is worth dying for.” And, if necessary, going to prison for — for life.

But Snowden’s contribution to the noble cause of restoring the First, Fourth and Fifth amendments to the Constitution is in his documents. It depends in no way on his reputation or estimates of his character or motives — still less, on his presence in a courtroom arguing the current charges, or his living the rest of his life in prison. Nothing worthwhile would be served, in my opinion, by Snowden voluntarily surrendering to U.S. authorities given the current state of the law.

I hope that he finds a haven, as safe as possible from kidnapping or assassination by U.S. Special Operations forces, preferably where he can speak freely.

What he has given us is our best chance — if we respond to his information and his challenge — to rescue ourselves from out-of-control surveillance that shifts all practical power to the executive branch and its intelligence agencies: a United Stasi of America.

Read more on this topic —- Eugene Robinson: We can handle the truth on NSA spying.

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

THAT WAS OUR ORIGINAL JULY 4th posting:

The British Guardian – an American Media — on the run-up to July 4-th, 2013.

By Dan Gillmore

How Did American Become So Fearful and Timid That We’ve Given Away Essential Liberties? Some Are Even Afraid to Speak up
America’s founders would be horrified at this United States of Surveillance

July 2, 2013

I’m a longtime subscriber to an Internet mail list that features items from smart, thoughtful people. The list editor forwards items he personally finds interesting, often related to technology and/or civil liberties. Not long after the Guardian and Washington Post first started publishing the leaks describing the National Security Agency’s vast surveillance-dragnet, an item appeared about a White House petition urging President Obama to pardon Edward Snowden. The post brought this reply, among others:

“Once upon a time I would have signed a White House petition to this administration with no qualms. Now, however, a chilling thought occurs: what ‘watch lists’ will signing a petition like this put me on? NSA? IRS? It’s not a paranoid question anymore, in the United States of Surveillance.”

As we Americans watch our parades and fire up our grills this 4 July, the 237th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence – the seminal document of the United States – we should take the time to ask ourselves some related questions: how did we come to this state of mind and behavior? How did we become so fearful and timid that we’ve given away essential liberties? Do we realize what we’re giving up? What would the nation’s founders think of us?

No one with common sense believes Obama is planning to become a dictator. But the mail list question was indeed not paranoid – because Obama, building on the initiatives of his immediate predecessors, has helped create the foundation for a future police state. This has happened with bipartisan support from patriotic but short-sighted members of Congress and, sad to say, the general public.

The American media have played an essential role. For decades, newspaper editors and television programmers, especially local ones, have chased readers and ratings by spewing panic-inducing “journalism” and entertainment that helped foster support for anti-liberty policies. Ignorance, sometimes willful, has long been part of the media equation. Journalists have consistently highlighted the sensational. They’ve ignored statistical realities to hype anecdotal – and extremely rare – events that invite us to worry about vanishingly tiny risks and while shrugging off vastly more likely ones. And then, confronted with evidence of a war on journalism by the people running our government, powerful journalists suggest that their peers – no, their betters – who had the guts to expose government crimes are criminals. Do they have a clue why the First Amendment is all about? Do they fathom the meaning of liberty?

The founders, for all their dramatic flaws, knew what liberty meant. They created a system of power-sharing and competition, knowing that investing too much authority in any institution was an invitation to despotism. Above all, they knew that liberty doesn’t just imply taking risks; it absolutely requires taking risks. Among other protections, the Bill of Rights enshrined an unruly but vital free press and guaranteed that some criminals would escape punishment in order to protect the rest of us from too much government power. How many of those first 10 amendments would be approved by Congress and the states today? Depressingly few, one suspects. We’re afraid.

America has gone through spasms of liberty-crushing policies before, almost always amid real or perceived national emergencies. We’ve come out of them, to one degree or another, with the recognition that we had a Constitution worth protecting and defending, to paraphrase the oath federal office holders take but have so casually ignored in recent years.

What’s different this time is the surveillance infrastructure, plus the countless crimes our lawmakers have invented in federal and state codes. As many people have noted, we can all be charged with something if government wants to find something – the Justice Department under Bush and Obama has insisted that simply violating an online terms of service is a felony, for example. And now that our communications are being recorded and stored (you should take that for granted, despite weaselly government denials), those somethings will be available to people looking for them if they decide you are a nuisance. That is the foundation for tyranny, maybe not in the immediate future but, unless we find a way to turn back, someday soon enough.

You may believe there’s no possibility of America turning into a thugocracy, that the amassed information – conversations, business dealings, personal health and financial data, media consumption, gun records and so much more – will never be systematically misused that way. But even if you do, ask yourself this: if a young employee of one of the countless private companies administering the surveillance state could get access to so much for idealistic reasons, how vulnerable is this material to people with baser motives? Do you suppose corporate spies or foreign security services might be able to tempt some of the holders of this information with money, or find others who are vulnerable to blackmail? We’re creating the ultimate treasure chest of information, and it’s value is nearly limitless.

America’s founders would be horrified at what we’ve done, and what we’ve become. They would have denounced our secret laws, Kafka-esque “no fly lists” and so many other recent creations of power-grabbing presidents emboldened by feeble lawmakers and compliant courts. While they wouldn’t have understood the modern concept of privacy – though they’ve have wanted to protect it once they did understand – they would have engineered checks and balances to prevent today’s wholesale abuses, made so much worse by active corporate participation, reluctant or not, in the digital dragnets.

I live in California. My senior US senator, Dianne Feinstein, is a former prosecutor and acts like it. In her no doubt sincere desire to protect Americans from harm, she has been a consistent Democratic enabler of untrammeled presidential and law-enforcement powers. She calls Edward Snowden, a whistleblower who unquestionably broke the law, a traitor. But he pulled back the curtain on an increasingly lawless surveillance state. She has helped shred the Bill of Rights. Who, in the end, will have done more to “preserve and protect the Constitution”? For me, that’s an easy call.

Will we confront what’s happening and move now to change our trajectory? There are glimmerings of rationality amid the fear-mongering, including the public’s growing understanding – despite politicans’ foot-dragging and the media’s longstanding refusal to do its job on this issue, like so many others – that the war on (some) drugs has been an international catastrophe and, at home, a useful tool for those who’d curb liberty.

Obama says he wants to have a “conversation” about surveillance, even though his administration works mightily to keep so much of its workings – on these and other matters – secret from the American public, Congress and the judiciary other than opaque, rubber-stamp courts. What we really need is a larger conversation about state power and the actual risks we face, with context and clarity. In the process we need to confront the people who amass power and profits by fueling the ever-expanding, increasingly militarized surveillance state, and insist that they explain and justify what they’re doing. Their “trust us” nostrums are hollow.

I don’t know what the American public will conclude if we ever have that conversation. I would do whatever I could to help everyone understand that a surveillance society is profoundly un-American. I implore journalists to be part of the truth-telling, to take a stand for the Bill of Rights by doing their jobs as the founders intended. If we’re to preserve the risk-filled but noble American experiment of trusting people with liberty, we’d all best get started.

I’m proudly American, in large part because we’ve so often faced hard facts and ultimately, if belatedly, done what’s right. I have faith that the American people want the unadorned truth and will think through what’s at stake this time – and that they’ll take to heart Benjamin Franklin’s eternally wise admonition: “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

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

AND THE INTERNATIONAL ANGLE:

New Rumor of Snowden Flight Raises Tensions.
By RICK GLADSTONE and WILLIAM NEUMAN
Published by The New York Tines: July 2, 2013

It began as a seemingly offhand remark by the president of Bolivia, who suggested during a visit to Moscow that he might be happy to host Edward J. Snowden, the fugitive former security contractor who is desperate to find asylum. It escalated into a major diplomatic scramble in which the Bolivian president’s plane was rerouted on Tuesday, apparently because of suspicions that Mr. Snowden was aboard.

Evo Morales, president of Bolivia, was attending an energy conference in Moscow when he was asked in an interview if he would consider giving asylum to Edward J. Snowden.

Related

*
Snowden Is Said to Claim U.S. Is Blocking Asylum Bids (July 2, 2013)
*
Outrage in Europe Grows Over Spying Disclosures (July 2, 2013)
*
India Ink: India Denies Asylum to Snowden (July 2, 2013)

By day’s end, outraged Bolivian officials, insisting that Mr. Snowden was not on the plane, were accusing France and Portugal of acting under American pressure to rescind permission for President Evo Morales’s plane to traverse their airspace on the way back to Bolivia. Low on fuel, the plane’s crew won permission to land in Vienna.

“They say it was due to technical issues, but after getting explanations from some authorities we found that there appeared to be some unfounded suspicions that Mr. Snowden was on the plane,” the Bolivian foreign minister, David Choquehuanca, told reporters after the plane touched down in Vienna, where Mr. Morales was spending the night.

“We don’t know who invented this big lie,” the foreign minister said at a news conference in La Paz, Bolivia. “We want to express our displeasure because this has put the president’s life at risk.”

Rubén Saavedra, the defense minister, who was on the plane with Mr. Morales, accused the Obama administration of being behind the action by France and Portugal, calling it “an attitude of sabotage and a plot by the government of the United States.”

There was no immediate response by officials in Paris, Lisbon or Washington.

“We were in flight; it was completely unexpected,” Mr. Saavedra said on the Telesur cable network. “The president was very angry.”

Speaking by phone with Telesur, Mr. Saavedra said that Mr. Snowden was not on the plane. Later, Reuters cited an unidentified Austrian Foreign Ministry official as saying the same thing.

Bolivian officials said they were working on a new flight plan to allow Mr. Morales to fly home. But in a possible sign of further suspicion about the passenger manifest, Mr. Saavedra said that Italy had also refused to give permission for the plane to fly over its airspace. Later he said that France and Portugal had reversed course and offered to allow the plane to fly through their airspace after all.

On Monday, Mr. Morales, who was attending an energy conference in Moscow, was asked in an interview on the Russia Today television network if he would consider giving asylum to Mr. Snowden, 30, who has been holed up at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport for more than a week, his passport revoked by the United States.

“Yes, why not?” Mr. Morales responded. “Of course, Bolivia is ready to take in people who denounce — I don’t know if this is espionage or monitoring. We are here.”

He said, though, that Bolivia had not received a request from Mr. Snowden, despite news reports to the contrary.

It was already clear by then that the Moscow conference had been overshadowed by the drama of Mr. Snowden and his disclosures about American intelligence programs, which have deeply embarrassed the Obama administration.

President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, who was also at the conference, had suggested he might offer Mr. Snowden asylum but did not plan to fly him to Venezuela.

But Mr. Morales’s remarks appeared to open the door. At least that was the way they were interpreted.

The problems began even before Mr. Morales left Moscow, Mr. Choquehuanca said. On Monday, Portugal, without explanation, had withdrawn permission for Mr. Morales’s plane to stop in Lisbon to refuel, the foreign minister said. That required Bolivian officials to get permission from Spain to refuel in the Canary Islands.

The next day, after taking off from Moscow, Mr. Morales’s plane was just minutes from entering French airspace, according to Mr. Saavedra, when the French authorities informed the pilot that the plane could not fly over France.

There was also plenty of confusion in Moscow over how Mr. Snowden could possibly have left undetected on a government aircraft.

Government planes carrying foreign officials to diplomatic meetings in Moscow typically arrive and depart from Vnukovo Airport, which is also the main airfield used by the Russian government, rather than from Sheremetyevo, where Mr. Snowden arrived from Hong Kong on June 23 hours after American officials had sought his extradition there.

The speculation that Mr. Snowden would hitch a ride on a government jet was discounted by the fact that the plane would have to first make a quick flight from one Moscow airport to the other.

In an interview with the television station Russia Today, Mr. Maduro said he would consider any request by Mr. Snowden. Then, ending the interview with a dash of humor, he said, “It’s time for me to go; Snowden is waiting for me.”

Rick Gladstone reported from New York, and William Neuman from Caracas, Venezuela. David M. Herszenhorn and Andrew Roth contributed reporting from Moscow, and Monica Machicao from La Paz, Bolivia.

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

Venezuela’s Independence Day

Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
July 3, 2013

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Venezuela as you commemorate the day that Venezuela declared its independence 202 years ago.

Venezuela and the United States have much in common. For example, revolutionary leader General Francisco de Miranda also played a part in our own struggle for independence, participating in the Battle of Pensacola in 1781. His contribution is forever memorialized in a monument that stands in the heart of Philadelphia, the original capital of the United States. When a devastating earthquake struck Venezuela in 1812 the United States sent the Venezuelan people the first humanitarian assistance it ever provided to a foreign country. These two examples demonstrate that Venezuela and the United States have shared ties of friendship and common values since the birth of our two nations, and the ties between our people endure.

I wish Venezuelans everywhere health, happiness, and hope on the anniversary of your independence.

——————————–

The Washington Post of July 5, 2013 tells us:

““As head of state, the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young American Edward Snowden so that he can live in the homeland” of independence leader Simon Bolivar and the late President Hugo Chavez without “persecution from the empire,” Maduro said, referring to the United States.

He made the offer during a speech marking the anniversary of Venezuela’s independence. It was not immediately clear if there were any conditions to Venezuela’s offer.

Maduro added that several other Latin American governments have also expressed their intention of taking a similar stance by offering asylum for the cause of “dignity.”

In Nicaragua, Ortega said he was willing to make the same offer “if circumstances allow it.” Ortega didn’t say what the right circumstances would be when he spoke during a speech in Managua.

He said the Nicaraguan embassy in Moscow received Snowden’s application for asylum and that it is studying the request.

“We have the sovereign right to help a person who felt remorse after finding out how the United States was using technology to spy on the whole world, and especially its European allies,” Ortega said.

The offers came following a flap about the rerouting of Bolivian President Evo Morales’ plane in Europe earlier this week amid reports that Snowden might have been aboard.

Spain on Friday said it had been warned along with other European countries that Snowden, a former U.S. intelligence worker, was aboard the Bolivian presidential plane, an acknowledgement that the manhunt for the fugitive leaker had something to do with the plane’s unexpected diversion to Austria.

It is unclear whether the United States, which has told its European allies that it wants Snowden back, warned Madrid about the Bolivian president’s plane. U.S. officials will not detail their conversations with European countries, except to say that they have stated the U.S.’s general position that it wants Snowden back.

Maduro joined other leftist South American presidents Thursday in Cochabamba, Bolivia, to rally behind Morales and denounce the rerouting incident.

President Barack Obama has publicly displayed a relaxed attitude toward Snowden’s movements, saying last month that he wouldn’t be “scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker.”

But the drama surrounding the flight of Morales, whose plane was abruptly rerouted to Vienna after apparently being denied permission to fly over France, suggests that pressure is being applied behind the scenes.

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo told Spanish National Television that “they told us that the information was clear, that he was inside.”

He did not identify who “they” were and declined to say whether he had been in contact with the U.S. But he said that European countries’ decisions were based on the tip. France has since sent a letter of apology to the Bolivian government.”

———————————–

The bottom line is as reported by the Guardian:

“We are not colonies any more,” Uruguay’s president, Jose Mujica, said. “We deserve respect, and when one of our governments is insulted we feel the insult throughout Latin America.”

Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, said on Thursday he and other leaders were offering full support to Morales and called the rerouting of the plane an aggression against the Americas.

Cristina Fernandez of Argentina said Latin Americans treasured freedom after fighting for independence from Europe in the 19th century and then surviving Washington’s 20th-century history of backing repressive regimes in the Americas. She demanded an apology for the plane ordeal.

“I’m asking those who violated the law in calm but serious manner, to take responsibility for the errors made, it’s the least they can do,” Fernandez said. “To apologize for once in their life, to say they’re sorry for what they’ve done.”

Morales has said that while the plane was parked in Vienna, the Spanish ambassador to Austria arrived with two embassy personnel and they asked to search the plane. He said he denied them permission.

“Who takes the decision to attack the president of a South American nation?” Maduro asked. Spanish prime minister Mariano “Rajoy has been abusive by trying to search Morales’ plane in Spain. He has no right to breach international law.”

———————————–

It seems like time has come for a US face-saving diplomacy before true craters open up at US borders – East, West, and South.

We have previously outlined a draft that we did not publish – but think now that the airplane flap justifies a US Presidential pardon to Snowden – just to get the issue of the World table – the damage was done and no sense for the US to dig itself deeper into the hole it created.

———————————-

US senator from New Jersey, Robert Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told little Ecuadoran that he would block the import of vegetables and flowers from Ecuador if Ecuador gives asylum to Edward Snowden. The cost to Ecuador would be one billion dollars in lost revenues. Will he also forbid trips from the US to the Galapagos?

Will he be consistent and close US imports of Venezuela oil? Of Latin oil in general?
Ecuador and Venezuela happen to be also members of OPEC which Bolivia is not. A policy of threats presents many interesting angles and possibilities.
Will there be ways to enlarge this with some reaction to what happens in Egypt, in Saudi Arabia, some more grand-standing anyone?

———————————-

Thursday the leaders of Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina and Uruguay joined Bolivia’s President Morales in Cochabamba, for a special meeting to address the diplomatic row.

At the end of the summit a statement was issued demanding answers from France, Portugal, Italy and Spain. The United States was not mentioned in the statement.

“Europe broke all the rules of the game,” Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro said shortly after arriving at Cochabamba airport. “We’re here to tell president Evo Morales that he can count on us. Whoever picks a fight with Bolivia, picks a fight with Venezuela.”

Maduro said an unnamed European government minister had told Venezuela the CIA was behind the incident.

“We are not colonies any more,” Uruguay’s president, Jose Mujica, said. “We deserve respect, and when one of our governments is insulted we feel the insult throughout Latin America.”

Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, said on Thursday he and other leaders were offering full support to Morales and called the rerouting of the plane an aggression against the Americas.

Cristina Fernandez of Argentina said Latin Americans treasured freedom after fighting for independence from Europe in the 19th century and then surviving Washington’s 20th-century history of backing repressive regimes in the Americas. She demanded an apology for the plane ordeal.

“I’m asking those who violated the law in calm but serious manner, to take responsibility for the errors made, it’s the least they can do,” Fernandez said. “To apologise for once in their life, to say they’re sorry for what they’ve done.”

Morales has said that while the plane was parked in Vienna, the Spanish ambassador to Austria arrived with two embassy personnel and they asked to search the plane. He said he denied them permission.

“Who takes the decision to attack the president of a South American nation?” Maduro asked. Spanish prime minister Mariano “Rajoy has been abusive by trying to search Morales’ plane in Spain. He has no right to breach international law.”

Before the meeting, Morales said his ordeal was part of a US plot to intimidate him and other Latin American leaders.

He urged European nations to “free themselves” from the United States. “The United States is using its agent [Snowden] and the president [of Bolivia] to intimidate the whole region,” he said.

France sent an apology to the Bolivian government. But Morales said “apologies are not enough because the stance is that international treaties must be respected”.

Spain’s foreign affairs minister, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, said his country did not bar Morales from landing in its territory.

Amid the tensions, the US embassy in La Paz cancelled Independence Day celebrations scheduled for Thursday. In the eastern city of Santa Cruz, Bolivian government sympathisers painted protest slogans on the doors of the American consulate.

Bolivia has said it will summon the French and Italian ambassadors and the Portuguese consul to demand explanations.

Brazil was represented by Marco Aurelio Garcia, President Dilma Rousseff’s top international adviser. The presidents of Colombia, Chile and Peru, who have strong ties to the US, were not attending.

Colombia’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, said earlier on Thursday he supported Morales, but asked other leaders to remain cool and avoid an escalating dispute between Latin America and the European Union.

“We’re in solidarity with Evo Morales because what they did to him is unheard-of, but let’s not let this turn into a diplomatic crisis for Latin America and the EU,” Santos tweeted on Thursday.

—————————————

Our draft started: Thanks to the Egyptian military – their intervention got off the media front line the Snowden, Assage, Manning, WikiLeaks Warning Lighthouses – and replaced them with a renewed attention to the Islamic potential for acts of terror.

Furthermore – Latin America seems split between the go it alone States of the ALBA group – Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Venezuela, their new friends – Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and now Nicaragua – and their opponents – the strong US connected, Chile, Colombia, Peru and the Southern European States Italy, France, Spain, Portugal that acted out on unsightly pressure from the White House, and perhaps even Austria – if it turns out to be true that they searched the Bolivian President’s plane. What about Mexico? Will they want to be seen as residing in the US vest-pocket?

Today it seems that just the Greens, the so called Pirates, and some other non-political fringe parties, are left in Europe to stand up for Democracy – The Reds, Blacks, Blues, Yellow, Orange, and Purple – all established political parties – have abandoned the Democracy ship because of the Transatlantic breeze from the Potomac. Europe seems anew like the Europe of the thirties with governments worried about their business-ties. Any infringements of democratic inalienable rights are not noted now, like they were not noted then. But this is totally misleading – just read the Guardian where all these stories started. This at a time the voters in quite a few European States do take position on this – and we would not be surprised if Austria as well took back its “Neutral Mantle” to declare that they too are ready to give refuge to Snowden. The coming days will tell.

————————————–

And as if nothing happened – a US hand to the people of Argentina as if they have now no elected government?:

Western Hemisphere: Argentina’s Independence Day

07/05/2013 02:31 PM EDT

Argentina’s Independence Day

Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
July 5, 2013

On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I send best wishes to the people of Argentina as they celebrate their Independence Day this July 9.

The citizens of our two nations have a long history of productive and friendly relations, highlighted by educational and cultural exchanges and fruitful collaboration in the fields of science, technology, health, space, and energy.

The determination expressed by the patriots gathered at the Casa de Tucuman, to forge a free and independent nation, is a fundamental human longing, and one we share.

On this day, the United States wishes Argentina a happy celebration.

We look forward to working together to cultivate a strong bilateral relationship in the years to come.

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

Op-Ed Columnist – THE NEW YORK TIMES.

Prisoners of the Euro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Readers’ Comments:   Read All Comments (15) »

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

 

Breaking News

Ronaldo, Portugal soccer team land in Israel.

 

Published: 03.20.13, 22:48 / Israel News

Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the world’s top soccer players, has landed in Israel together with his Portugal teammates ahead of Friday’s game against Israel.

Dozens of fans welcomed the team at the Ben Gurion Airport. (Ynet)

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

March 3, 2013

Populists or Business (Banking) Lobbyists?

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

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

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

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

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

What are the alternatives?

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 24th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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International Earth Condominium Conference. 16 and 17 January, 2013. Gaia, Portugal.

from: Soraia Taipa  
to Sustainable

Dear all,

On the 16th and 17th of January 2013 the International Earth Condominium Conference will take place in the city of Gaia (Portugal). Participation is free but subscription is required.

The Earth Condominium Project proposes that the world’s climate and oceanic systems are recognized as a Global Intangible Heritage of Mankind. This may form the basis for a legal framework and a common accounting system for ecosystem services. This will allow the economic value of these contributions to be integrated into the economy, moving towards an economic system that drives towards ‘ecosystem-service growth’, while maintaining the use of ecosystem services within a safe operating space.

In the upcoming conference we wish to create a space of open discussion that addresses the following main themes:

  • Natural Intagible Heritage of Mankind;
  • Planetary boundaries;
  • Economic externalities;
  • Failed markets,
  • Rights of Future generations;
  • World Environmental Organization.

The conference will take place in ‘Parque Biológico de Gaia’. For a detailed program, which includes members of the panels and information on how to subscribe please check the following links:

? Clik here for Program

–> Click here for Subscriptions


We hope to see you at the conference!

Earth Condominium Project | Quercus
T +351 22 374 9249
TM +351 93 999 2185
E earthcondominium@quercus.ptBe a global neighbor www.earth-condominium.org

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 5th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

For the US it was the warning from President Dwight Eisenhower about the military – industrial complex. He was best positioned to understand the industry interest in supplying the military with materials they do not need. Today this is a political stand of Romney Republicans that pushes austerity on everybody else. Here an Obama campaign proposition that austerity itself is an unmanageable security threat to a State that allows unacceptable income gaps that destroy the middle class. The article uses the example of Europe in order to reflect on what might happen to the US.

Austerity Doesn’t Reduce Deficits.

By Terrance Heath from the Campaign for America’s Future
 ourfuture.org/blog-entry/20121144…

November 1, 2012

Austerity is back in the news, and the news about austerity is never good. We’ve only had de facto austerity on this side of the pond. So as usual, the news is from Europe, where the austerians are going full-tilt boogie. Our homegrown austerians, like their European counterparts, tell us that the kind of severe austerity underway in Europe is necessary to reduce the deficit. Everything from food stamps to Medicaid and Medicare — everything except defense spending — must be cut in order to reduce the deficit.

The thing is, it hasn’t worked. In Greece, Europe’s austerity poster child, austerity has shrunk the economy and increased the national debt.

Greece’s draft budget for 2013 has forecast a deeper recession and worse debt problems than previously thought.

The economy is expected to shrink by 4.5% next year, and government debts to rise to 189% of economic output.

Greece held inconclusive negotiations with its rescue lenders on Wednesday over the economic reforms needed to release further bailout funds.

The government also faces opposition to the reforms from coalition partners and unions have called a general strike.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras held a conference call on Wednesday with his counterparts from the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers, as well as representatives of the International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank.

The German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said afterwards that Athens still needed to do more.

Austerity is literally killing Greece. Yet the austerians demand more.

Austerity only increased inequality in Portugal. Now, after painful austerity measures that hit ordinary Portuguese and public sector workers hardest failed to reduce the deficit, Portuguese citizens are planning to rally against new tax increases.

Anti-austerity protesters in Portugal are planning street rallies as the country’s parliament is expected to approve big tax rises in a new budget.

The centre-right government in Lisbon is hoping to reduce its budget deficit as part of the 78bn-euro (£63bn; $101bn) EU-IMF bailout deal.

However, the proposed 2013 budget could face a challenge in court.

Portugal has already cut public sector wages and raised taxes, triggering a series of street demonstrations.

Unemployment in Portugal is at a record high, and people have faced sharp reductions in their incomes. None of it seems to have made a dent in Portugal’s debt problem. Yet the austerians demand more.

Austerity has been disastrous for Ireland, which once made the top ten on the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Independence.

The Central Statistics Office released its yearbook of Ireland, giving a comprehensive picture with facts and figures on key areas of life, including population, education and the economy.

It revealed that the look of the labour market worsened in 2011, with jobs and pay still in decline since the recession.

The number of people in work fell to 1.821 million since 2010, while those unemployed rose 3.7 per cent to 304,500.

… A staggering 23 per cent of people had hit the deprivation rate by 2010 and were experiencing two or more types of poverty.

In September, Spain braced for further austerity measures even as hungry Spaniards foraged in trash bins for food. But Spain’s economy contracted for a fifth quarter, because of austerity-driven inflation.

Spain’s economy contracted for a fifth quarter, undermining efforts to plug the budget deficit that’s pushing the nation closer to a bailout, while austerity measures kept inflation at a 17-month high.

Gross domestic product declined 0.3 percent in the three months through September and 1.6 percent from a year earlier, the National Statistics Institute said today, compared with an Oct. 23 estimate from the Bank of Spain of a 0.4 percent contraction. Consumer prices, based on European Union methodology, rose 3.5 percent from a year earlier, INE said.

The deepening of Spain’s five-year slump, which is prompting record loan defaults at the nation’s banks and job cuts at companies including Gamesa SA, adds to pressure on Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy as he resists requesting international aid. While tax hikes he’s implementing as part of his austerity program are depressing consumption, they are also spurring inflation, which threatens to add 3 billion euros ($3.9 billion) to the country’s pension bill.

All across the EU, austerity has driven joblessness to a record high.

The jobless rate in the euro area climbed to a record in September as the fiscal crisis and tougher austerity measures threatened to deepen the economy’s slump.

Unemployment in the economy of the 17 nation single currency area rose to 11.6 per cent from 11.5 per cent in August, the European Union statistics office Eurostat said today. That’s the highest since the data series started in 1995.

Some 18.5 million people were unemployed in the euro area in September, up 146,000 from the previous month.

At 25.8 per cent, Spain had the highest jobless rate in the currency bloc.

Portugal’s unemployment rate was at 15.7 per cent, while Ireland reported a jobless rate of 15.1 per cent. France’s jobless rate was at 10.8 per cent.

Italy’s jobless rate rose to its highest point in 13 years, at 10.8 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Yet the austerians demand even more.

Americans should pay attention to the saga of austerity in the EU, for a couple of reasons. First, because conservatives here at home are committed to the same agenda that’s failed in Europe.

If Mr. Obama wins, he’ll presumably go back to pushing for modest stimulus, aiming to convert the gradual recovery that seems to be under way into a more rapid return to full employment.

Republicans, however, are committed to an economic doctrine that has proved false, indeed disastrous, in other countries. Nor are they likely to change their views in the light of experience. After all, facts haven’t gotten in the way of Republican orthodoxy on any other aspect of economic policy. The party remains opposed to effective financial regulation despite the catastrophe of 2008; it remains obsessed with the dangers of inflation despite years of false alarms. So it’s not likely to give up its politically convenient views about job creation.

And here’s the thing: if Mitt Romney wins the election, the G.O.P. will surely consider its economic ideas vindicated. In other words, politically good things may be about to happen to very bad ideas. And if that’s how it plays out, the American people will pay the price.

Second, if good things end up happening to bad political ideas here in the U.S., we may need to follow the example of Europeans who are standing up and saying “No,” when the austerians keep demanding more.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 5th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Tancredo de Almeida Neves, Commonly called Tancredo Neves (March 4, 1910 – April 21, 1985) – was  born in São João del Rey, in the state of Minas Gerais, of mostly Portuguese, but also Austrian descent. [1]

Neves was the opposition candidate to replace President João Baptista de Oliveira Figueiredo – the last general-President of Brazil.

The campaign for direct elections failed. There was no popular public vote.[5] Neves was elected President by a majority of the Electoral College on January 15, 1985, where he received 480 votes.[6]

USING WIKIPEDIA LANGUAGE THE FOLLOWING IS THE OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION OF A CHAIN OF EVENTS:

On March 14, on the last day of his predecessor’s term, and on the eve of his own inauguration, Neves became severely ill, requiring immediate surgery. He thus was not able to attend his own inauguration on March 15.

The Constitution required the President and Vice-President elect to take oaths of office before the assembled National Congress.

The inauguration was accordingly held for the Vice-President only, the Vice-President immediately assumed the powers of the presidency as Acting President. At that time, there was still hope that Neves would recover and appear before Congress to take the oath of office.

However, Neves suffered from abdominal complications and developed generalized infections. After seven operations, Neves died on April 21, more than one month after the beginning of his term of office, without ever having taken the oath of office as President.[7] He was succeeded by José Sarney who was the Vice President. Neves’s ordeal was intensively covered by the Brazilian media and followed with anxiety by the whole nation, who had seen in him the way out of the authoritarian regime into what he had called a “New Republic” (Nova República).

His death caused an outpouring of national grief.

Tancredo Neves is counted among the official list of presidents of Brazil as a matter of homage and honour, since, not having taken the oath of office, he technically never became President. An Act of Congress was thus necessary to make this homage official. Accordingly on the first anniversary of his death, a statute was signed into law declaring that he should be counted among the Presidents of Brazil.

BUT NOBODY I TALKED TO IN BRAZIL BELIEVED THAT TANCREDO NEVES DIED OF NATURAL CAUSES. THE BELIEF IS RATHER THAT THE GENERALS WERE NOT READY YET TO TRANSFER POWER TO AN ELECTED PRESIDENT AND THIS INCLUDED NEVES, EVEN THOUGH HIS OWN ELECTION WAS NOT YET THE STATE OF THE ART OF PURE DEMOCRACY.

During the period that he was President Elect I had the great honor to be invited to Hotel Pierre in New York to a Presentation he made as guest of the Americas Society and Mr. David Rockefeller. Shortly after that the Organization of American States was involved in a conference on ethanol fuels that was held in Bello Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Neves was the opening speaker and Aureliano Chaves, who later became the Energy Minister, and at that time was Governor of Minas Gerais, was the opening presenter. Here was a Brazil in motion that was talking independence of oil imports and local production of fuels. Was this something that ruffled feathers?

Above is my addition to the following article that does not mention Tancredo Neves. Nevertheless, if Brazil is ready to look under the rugs of dictatorship, even that an amnesty for the sake of internal peace has been declared, the Tancredo Neves case will eventually be touched upon as well. All what we can say nevertheless, the search for the truth of past dictatorships in the Southern Latin Cone, has in it the makings of unravelling as well US business involvement and CIA operatives that taught methodology  of torture in the region.

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Leader’s Torture in the ’70s Stirs Ghosts in Brazil.

By 
Published by the New York Times: August 4, 2012

RIO DE JANEIRO — Her nom de guerre was Estela. Part of a shadowy urban guerrilla group at the time of her capture in 1970, she spent three years behind bars, where interrogators repeatedly tortured her with electric shocks to her feet and ears, and forced her into the pau de arara, or parrot’s perch, in which victims are suspended upside down naked, from a stick, with bound wrists and ankles.

The Lady President of Brazil by Ricardo Moraes/Reuters

Ms. Rousseff, now president of Brazil, says little these days about the cruelty she endured.

And years ago by Adir Mera/Public Archive of the State of Sao Paulo

Dilma Rousseff at 22 as a captured guerrilla at a military hearing in 1970. Today, a panel is investigating the torture she and others endured under Brazil’s military dictatorship.

That former guerrilla is now Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff. As a truth commission begins examining the military’s crackdown on the population during a dictatorship that lasted two decades, Brazilians are riveted by chilling details emerging about the painful pasts of both their country and their president.

The schisms of that era, which stretched from 1964 to 1985, live on here. Retired military officials, including Maurício Lopes Lima, 76, a former lieutenant colonel accused of torturing Ms. Rousseff, have questioned the evidence linking the military to abuses. Rights groups, meanwhile, are hounding Mr. Lopes Lima and others accused of torture, encircling their residences in cities across Brazil. “A torturer of the dictatorship lives here,” they recently wrote in red paint on the entrance to Mr. Lopes Lima’s apartment building in the seaside resort city of Guarujá, part of a street-theater protest.

While a 1979 amnesty still shields military officials from prosecution for abuses, the commission, which began in May and has a two-year mandate, is nevertheless stirring up ghosts. The dictatorship killed an estimated 400 people; torture victims are thought to number in the thousands.

The torture endured by Ms. Rousseff, who was 22 when the abuse began and is now 64, is among the most prominent of hundreds of decades-old cases that the commission is examining. The president is not the region’s only political leader to rise to power after being imprisoned and tortured, a sign of the tumultuous pasts of other Latin American countries.

As a young medical student, Chile’s former president,Michelle Bachelet, survived a harrowing stretch of detention and torture after a 1973 military coup. And Uruguay’s president, José Mujica, a former leader of the Tupamaro guerrilla organization, underwent torture during nearly a decade and half of imprisonment.

Since Ms. Rousseff took office, she has refused to play the part of a victim while subtly pushing for more transparency into the years of Brazil’s military dictatorship. She rarely refers in public to the cruelty she endured; aside from ceremonial appearances, she has spoken sparingly about the truth commission itself. She declined through a spokeswoman to comment on the commission or the time she spent in prison.

Ms. Rousseff has evolved considerably since her days in the underground resistance, when she used several aliases, a trajectory similar to that of other leftists who ascended into Brazil’s political elite. The daughter of a Bulgarian émigré businessman and his Brazilian schoolteacher wife, she grew up in relative privilege, only to abandon that upbringing to join a fledgling guerrilla group, the Palmares Armed Revolutionary Vanguard.

After her release from prison, she moved to the southern city of Porto Alegre, where her husband at the time, Carlos Franklin Paixão de Araújo, was completing his own prison sentence for subversion. She resumed her studies in economics, gave birth to a daughter, Paula, in 1976, and entered local politics. Moderating her political views, she slowly rose to national prominence as a results-oriented technocrat. She served as chief of staff and energy minister for Brazil’s former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. He prevailed on her to run in the 2010 election.

She governs with a markedly different style from that of Mr. da Silva, a gregarious former union leader. Even as Brazil’s economy slows, her approval rating stands around 77 percent, as the government expands antipoverty spending and stimulus projects. She won plaudits from some in the opposition by acknowledging the economic achievements ofFernando Henrique Cardoso, Brazil’s president from 1995 to 2002.

She keeps a low profile in Brasília, where she lives in the Alvorada Palace, the modernist presidential residence, with her mother and an aunt (she is divorced from Mr. Araújo, though the two remain close). News media pore over her interests, which range from René Magritte’s surrealist paintings to the HBO fantasy series “Game of Thrones.”

At the same time, her hard-charging governing style — she has been said to berate senior officials until they cry — has been enshrined in Brazilian popular culture, with Gustavo Mendes, a cross-dressing comedian, attaining fame by imitating her on the raunchy national television program “Casseta and Planeta Go Deep.”

Such satirical derision on television of a Brazilian leader would have been almost unthinkable at the time of Ms. Rousseff’s incarceration, when Brazilians faced censorship, prison sentences — or worse — for criticizing military rulers. Her experiences in the dictatorship’s torture chambers remained unknown to the public for decades.

Some details emerged in 2005, after she was serving in Mr. da Silva’s cabinet, when testimony she provided to the author of a book on women who resisted the military dictatorship was published in Brazilian newspapers.

She described the progression from palmatória, a torture method in which a paddle or stick is used to strike the knuckles and palms of the hand, to the next, when she was stripped naked, bound upside down and submitted to electric shocks on different parts of her body, including her breasts, inner thighs and head.

It was generally thought that Ms. Rousseff’s torture sessions were limited to prisons in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, until an investigative report published in June described more torture interrogations, including sessions during a two-month stretch at a military prison in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais. When she was still an obscure provincial official, she gave testimony in 2001 to an investigator from Minas Gerais, describing how interrogators there beat her in the face, distorting her dental ridge. One tooth came loose and became rotten from the pummeling, she said, and was later dislodged by a blow from another interrogator in São Paulo.

Robson Sávio, the scholar who interviewed her then, said she had no obligation to respond to the request for testimony, since the Minas Gerais commission had already collected proof that she had been tortured. But she did so anyway; by the end of the encounter, after recalling interrogations resulting in other injuries, including the hemorrhaging of her uterus, she was in tears, he said.

“I remember the fear when my skin trembled,” she said back in 2001. “Something like that marks us for the rest of our lives.”

Mr. Lima Lopes, identified as one of Ms. Rousseff’s torturers in São Paulo and still living in seaside Guarujá, has denied torturing her, while defiantly calling her a “good guerrilla.” Other retired military figures, meanwhile, have adopted a similar stance.

Luiz Eduardo Rocha Paiva, a former secretary general of Brazil’s Army, called into question in a newspaper interview this year whether Ms. Rousseff had been tortured. But he also claimed she belonged to an armed militant group seeking to install a Soviet-inspired dictatorship. Both insurgents and counterinsurgency agents committed abuses, he said. “Was there torture during the military regime? Yes,” he said. “Is there torture in Brazil today? Yes,” he added, referring to the deplorable conditions in some Brazilian prisons.

Ms. Rousseff, who has insisted she never took part in an armed act against the government, has opted not to publicly clash with the former officers. Meanwhile, the commission continues without interference from the president. Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, a noted legal scholar who is one of its seven members, said the only time he met Ms. Rousseff was when he and his colleagues were convened this year in Brasília.

Here in Rio, the search for knowledge of the past has moved state authorities to pay reparations to nearly 900 people tortured in the state during the dictatorship. Among them is Ms. Rousseff, who said in May that she would donate her check of about $10,000 to Torture Never Again, a group that seeks to raise awareness of the military’s abuses.

Still, despite such moves, closure remains evasive. Rights activists here were stunned in July after the office of Torture Never Again was burglarized, and archives describing the psychological treatment undertaken by torture victims were stolen.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 17th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

There is ‘no need to fear a more federal Europe’

Europe needs to rediscover its élan and purpose or we will sleepwalk into disintegration and disunity – warns MEP and ALDE group leader

11/05/2012

There is ‘no need to fear a more federal Europe.’

by Guy Verhofstadt

Europe needs to rediscover its élan and purpose or we will sleepwalk into disintegration and disunity – warns MEP and ALDE group leader

The French and Greek elections last weekend both delivered a body blow to Europe’s austerity drive designed to rein in national over-spending and reduce the enormous debt mountains that have been accumulating over the past 30 years or more. That Francois Hollande picked up on the anti-austerity theme was probably as much to do with pragmatic politics as ideology. He knows very well that he will not be able to keep all his policy commitments from the campaign trail.

France is not Greece, but it does not have any laurels to rest on either. It was recently downgraded by one rating agency, has high youth unemployment at 25 per cent and a budget that has not been balanced in three decades. That the people voted for a candidate promising a brighter future, reversing pension reforms, creating thousands of new jobs and re-negotiating Europe’s fiscal compact is little surprise – but may shortly be rudely confronted by reality.

At least Hollande is a democrat and a good European. Nicolas Sarkozy was too when he took up office. His interventions in the European Parliament during the French Presidency of the European Union could not be faulted by federalists. And his energy and dynamism were deployed in the common interest. That is until he found himself facing likely defeat to his socialist challenger. He then turned abruptly to the right in a vain effort to woo the voters of Marine Le Pen. Time and again, EU leaders who experiment with populist messages have only served to strengthen – rather than weaken – the hand of the initiators of such messages. In the Netherlands, Finland, Greece and elsewhere – populist, racist and extremist parties have all benefitted from such heightened rhetoric. Why vote for a copy when you can vote for the original?

At the other end of the Mediterranean, the Greek elections delivered an anarchic result in which the two main parties rightly got punished for the decades of corruption and clientilism. But the anti-establishment parties that have reaped the benefit and filled the vacuum have largely vented their anger against the EU and international financial institutions that have imposed tough austerity measures in return for bailing them out from certain bankruptcy. The result leaves no party in Greece able to form a government and everyone promising to voters what cannot be delivered.

So the beleaguered Greek citizen continues to suffer from an inept and self-serving political class that now counts neo-Nazis among its ranks. On the other side of the spectrum is a new far left party, Syriza, which has blatantly and opportunistically capitalised on the country’s woes and the tough adjustment plan imposed by external creditors. It is disingenuous of the party leader to pretend he can tear up the bailout conditions, so painfully negotiated over the last two years, and offer a painless alternative.

The tendency of politicians in both France and Greece to blame foreigners – Brussels bureaucrats or third country migrants – for their country’s travails is a telling indicator that the construction of Europe over the last 60 years still remains a fragile structure that can be so easily and quickly overturned by irresponsible and populist rhetoric – leading to a recrudescence of the kind of nationalism that led us into two world wars, in the first half of last century. Growing Euroscepticism across member states must be countered by a radical renewal of those who are convinced Europeans. We cannot afford to become complacent or indifferent to events that are now shaping public opinion. Europe needs to rediscover its élan and purpose or we will sleepwalk to disintegration and disunity.

Ending the current economic crisis must be everyone’s top priority. No stone must be left unturned in finding a solution, even if that means further pooling of sovereignty. Germany for instance is currently deaf to some practical solutions, such as a European debt redemption fund – which would combine discipline with solidarity – because it fears a loss of sovereignty and accepting responsibility for other people’s debt. But the alternative – never-ending taxpayer funded bailouts – is surely worse.

It is too simplistic and economically nonsensical to argue that austerity is wrong and growth is good. They are two sides of the same coin. Governments cannot invest in growth if they are paying huge interest rates on their borrowing to cover their debts. Annual deficits need to be reined in by reducing unnecessary expenditure so that the resources subsequently liberated can be invested in productive jobs and growth strategies. Some countries have more to do than others in this regard but the rules agreed by European leaders and recently enshrined in a political pact on budgetary discipline remain sensible for long-term budgetary planning.

In this week when we commemorate the speech on May 9, 1950, by French foreign minister, Robert Schuman. The words launched the idea of European integration and pooled sovereignty. His message remains as relevant now as it did then. Europe will not stand still. It will either collapse under the weight of growing nationalism and scepticism or it will recover its sense of purpose, agree to make a qualitative leap in integration in response to the crisis and therefore offer the next generation the kind of peace and stability that we have enjoyed over the past half century. It is not enough to hope that the latter scenario will prevail for there are forces actively working to destroy it. There is no need to fear a more federal Europe, but every reason to embrace it.

Guy Verhofstadt MEP is leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group in the European Parliament
 www.alde.eu/press/press-and-relea…

[This article has been also published on PSblicserviceeurope.com and www.EUobserver.com ]

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 13th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Greek Tragedy.

By ARIANNA HUFFINGTON
Published, The New York Times as Opinion: May 12, 2012

{please note – she writes this on Mothers’ Day Weekend – and she knows how to write – then she must have inherited as well some genes from her unsuccessful father attempts at owning media. Clearly – for the Greeks it is all in the family – and  EU is not family.}

——

As I follow the modern Greek tragedy unfolding in Europe, I flash back to the 18 years I spent in Athens, walking to school in Plaka (the old part of the city), on the same streets that have recently been filled with protesters and violent clashes.

When I was growing up, my family was a tiny microcosm of the current Greek economy. We were heavily in debt; my father’s repeated attempts to own a newspaper ended in failure and bankruptcy. Eventually, my mother took my sister and me and left him. We all lived in Athens and we continued to see my father, though we had our own one-bedroom apartment. (It wasn’t the bankruptcy that got to my mom in the end, but the philandering; “I don’t want you interfering in my private life,” my father had told her when she complained.)

Further austerity was coming, but my mother was clear about one thing: she would cut back on everything except our education and good, healthy food. She owned two dresses and never spent anything on herself. I remember her selling her last pair of little gold earrings. She borrowed from anyone she could, so that her two daughters could fulfill their dreams of a good education — me at Cambridge, and my sister at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. At the time, Greek girls still offered dowries to be married. My mother used to tell me, “Your education is your dowry.”

As I contemplate the statistics — especially the 54 percent unemployment rate among young Greeks — I think of all the stories behind this appalling data. All the dreams dashed. All the promise unfulfilled. And all the guilt, shame and fear that so often go hand in hand with intractable unemployment and little hope for a better future.

The punitive path of austerity and relentless economic contraction is, not surprisingly, likely to lead to further stagnation in 2013 and cannot be allowed to continue. And as last week’s election results show, the Greek people are not going to allow it to continue; they will instead demand change through either the ballot box or violence in the streets — or some combination of both.

The dangers of violent protest are obvious. But there are dangers in the ballot box, too: an extreme right-wing anti-immigration party received almost 7 percent of the vote, while Pasok, the establishment party of the left, lost 119 seats in Parliament in a humiliating third-place finish. If the European Central Bank does not abandon its destructive obsession with austerity, Greece will have few options but to leave the euro zone. This would be fraught with its own dangers, of course, but the European Union has left Greece with few sustainable alternatives.

Argentina, which defaulted and restructured beginning in 2001, offers a point of comparison. The austerity crowd warned that Argentina would collapse if it stopped pegging the peso to the dollar and defaulted on its debt. There are many differences between Argentina and Greece. But Argentina’s default was followed by a few short months of economic crisis and then many years of steady economic growth — a dramatically different direction than the one Greece is now taking toward a potentially endless path of contraction that is destroying millions of lives and crippling the indomitable Greek spirit.

Yes, the Greeks acted irresponsibly before the economic collapse — the same way my father had acted irresponsibly in his private and professional life. But that is not reason to punish the children, to destroy their future as part of a remedy for a past for which they bear no responsibility.

I spent many nights last summer in Syntagma Square, directly across from the Greek Parliament. The protesting crowd was mixed, full of young people and old, self-employed, unemployed, activists, pensioners. Millions of outraged Greeks — who famously relish connection, expansiveness, intimacy — used social media to connect with the rest of the country and the world; those in the square itself connected and organized the old-fashioned way, face-to-face.

Everywhere waiters, taxi drivers, salespeople, storekeepers, people at the table next to you at dinner, were talking about the same thing. They were — and still are — giving voice to a desire for more say in their own future, a future with more choices than those on offer from the European Central Bank.

When George Papandreou, who was prime minister at the time but resigned last November, visited The Huffington Post newsroom, he expressed the same feelings: “People think they’re being punished unjustly, because they feel they weren’t to blame for this crisis,” he said.

Greece, like my mother, has always been devoted above all else to its children. When the future of those children is diminished, the future — and life — of the country will be diminished, too.

My favorite picture from the protests shows a young man pumping his fist at a line of riot police officers while his mother stands beside him, holding his jacket, to make sure he doesn’t catch a cold. If Greece stays on its current dead-end path of austerity-fueled recession, the children will revolt, and the parents will be right there beside them, cheering them on and watching protectively over them.

And if having a future means leaving the euro, that’s most likely what the Greeks will choose. They invented democracy, and now it’s time to rekindle that Greek spirit of innovation and ingenuity — before economic trouble generates further despair and its dangerous progeny in the streets and in the ballot box.

——-

Arianna Huffington is President and editor in chief of The Huffington Post Media Group, and author, most recently, of “Third World America.”

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

Recent elections in France and Greece pose significant challenges to the strict economic austerity policies Germany has called for in response to the eurozone sovereign debt crisis. Still, Germany has resolutely rebuffed any efforts to alter the European fiscal compact agreed to late last year, explains Council on Foreign Relation’s Sebastian Mallaby. “There’s a battle coming up between Hollande and his European partners as to quite what a growth agenda might mean,” he says. At the same time, the political situation in Greece is “more potentially cataclysmic in its consequences,” Mallaby argues, because it could not only signal a Greek exit from the eurozone, but also undermine European financial institutions and facilitate further sovereign debt contagion.

Voters in Greece rejected the country’s mainstream political parties, and, by extension, the latest EU-IMF bailout. In France, voters elected François Hollande to implement pro-growth policies in a worsening economic climate.What are the implications of these recent elections on EU efforts to resolve the eurozone debt crisis?

In the case of France, what François Hollande has done by defeating current President Nicolas Sarkozy is basically to put on the agenda a “growth pact.”

The question is how to define that rebalancing of European policies away from the austerity formula that has driven it so far.

We suggest – read some of the material that goes into the RioDialogues, throw out the books on Economics 101, and start formulating new economic policies that bring the interest in FUTURE GENERATIONS into your present CURRENT ACCOUNT policies. Oh Well! we know it is hard to create change when under pressure – but talk please to the mothers of Greece as depicted by Arianna Huffington.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 12th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The “Monday After” the papers asked: Was the European Summit a “Fiasko” or a “Quality Jump?” The papers also wonder about the effectiveness of the “Durban Platform” having noted the strong involvement of the EU 27 in the Durban Conference fight. The Minister says it ended with a breakthrough – others say it was a “Mogelpackung.”

By the way – I happen personally to know know what a “Mogelpackung” is. Back years ago in New York some character sold me what I thought was a video-camera, but in reality it was just the box filled with trash. Surely I could have tried to accuse him of fraud but I preferred to condemn myself to a form of self-punishment for having been so brain weak – laughed it off and wrote off my loss on my self-education bill.  That was easy then, but what should an European State do now? Global 2000 NGO spokesman Wahlmueller said simply that another year in the war against climate change was just lost. We think he is right.

What happened in Brussels was indeed a “Tour de Force” of the Merkozy motor (Mme. Merkel and Herr Sarkozy) leading to the political exit of Mr. Cameron.  Yes, English will continue to be the diplomatic language of the evolving new European Union, but the UK is free to sail off to the Anglo-Saxon bloc led by the US – that is if the US can get its act together and lead again!

To the travails of the British Islands we attach an article from today’s New York Times – this just to say that the problems with the UK are  also internal.  This will be our only borrowed article of this posting – all the other material is of our own making, and as  we decided to write this up as we realized that we are not the only ones to think the way we do.
In effect at  an off the record meeting at the Vienna Diplomatic Academy  we heard that in Brussels it is understood that going it alone, the individual 27, do not amount to much.

In the real world of the 21st century it seems that as Thomas Friedman observed – the Globalized World is Flat – HOT, FLAT, and CROWDED. We add to this that it is important as well to think about how you draw the flat Map of the World. The realistic way is to put the Americas in the center of the map with the Pacific Ocean to the West – the left – and the Atlantic Ocean to the East – the right – with the Northern Hemisphere that includes among other States, the US and China on top – the North.

This maps shows the Trans-Pacific connection of the US to Japan, Australia and Indonesia, and the Trans-Atlantic connection to Europe and Africa.  In this map European Russia is in the periphery, but Asian Russia shows up closer.

A different map is the Euro-centric map. This map keeps Europe and Africa in the center with what the Europeans called the Western Hemisphere – the Americas – to the West – or left – and the huge Asian mass – all of it – to the East or right. The interesting thing is that on this map you see that Europe is just a small part at the West End of the Eurasian land-mass.

The history we learned in school was written by Europeans, and we never were given the true notion that in the last few hundred years it was the European tail that wagged the big Asian dog. We must now relearn our history and realize that the future belongs to big Asia and Europe could have an impact only if it unites and forgets some of the past grandeur, when small European States, Spain, Portugal, France, the netherlands, the British, Belgium, Denmark, later on Italy, Germany, even Austria, having developed their navies and rented  armies,  competed as colonial powers, and made inroads starting out from the coasts of that landmass. But even then – Europe was just an archipelago of small States with the British living on an actual island off the coast of Europe. And you know what? The colonies gone, this same picture stood on, though now, when the size of markets translates into economic power, these European economic islands are shrinking in size. Also, the former colonial powers that still have overseas possessions or linkages, create additional difficulties to their potential to create an integrated Europe. Denmark for instance, joined the EU without Greenland joining as well. Others, like France, the UK, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal had to find also ways to deal with their overseas possessions and linkages to their Francophone community or the British Commonwealth.

This last Friday, the unnatural division of the EU into 17 EURO-ZONE States and 10 Non-Euro States proved untenable and a much higher level of integration was suggested at least for the EURO-ZONE to be implemented with the agreement of the non-Euro States that will be called as well to contribute to the economic safety of the laggard States. Everybody agrees that the EURO idea was premature and showed up half backed, but now if the EURO laggards are not helped the whole global economy might collapse. A much higher level of integration is needed and the start is by calling for fiscal integration to back up the Euro-spending. After a lot of haggling 26 out of the 27 did bend to allow for the loss of some of their National decision making powers. But is it enough? The British opted out, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic showed unhappiness, so did the Hungarians, but in the end it was only the UK that did not vote in the positive and they may find out that the rest of the EU might now try to live without the UK as an active participant. Considering that what was decided upon will turn out to be insufficient, it may thus come to be that the UK will not be able to find its way back in = specially as 58% of the population might instinctively accept the notion that it will be to their advantage to leave the thinking Euro-ship.

But did the British lay people look at the Durban scene? That mob of 27 Environment Ministers that did not add up to a seat at the table with the China-India-US big polluters and nay-sayers of the UNFCCC event. In effect the EU 27 ended up being in alliance with over 100 of the smaller UN fray – the Small Island States, the Least Developed States and parts of Africa. Brazil and South Africa, even though they were not in full alignment with the other BASIC States or the US, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Korea … the other leading developing economies were still in the lead and the 27 Europeans were tripping over each other in trying to prove that they are on the side of the good and thoughtful. Oh well!
The final result was not satisfying at all and one could have imagined a united Europe with clear power to muscle its way to more concrete results – not just something that boils down to an agreement to meet again.

Kyoto is dead for all practical purposes with Canada, Japan, Russia, New Zealand, joining the US on the sidelines – so it is disingenuous to say that the individual EU States saved the day.

Please see the internal debate now in the UK:


Partner in British Coalition Criticizes Cameron’s Veto on Europe Treaty.

By 
Published: December 11, 2011, Printed in the New York TimesMonday,  December 12, 2011.
LONDON — Serious cracks appeared in Britain‘ s coalition government on Sunday, when Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, a Liberal Democrat, broke with the government line and said he was “bitterly disappointed” at the outcome of last week’s European summit meeting.

Mr. Clegg told the BBC that the decision by Prime Minister David Cameron, a Conservative, to veto proposed European treaty changes left Britain in danger of being “isolated and marginalized” in Europe. He added that if he had been in charge, “of course things would have been different.”

Mr. Cameron vetoed the proposals early Friday after seeking, and failing to secure, safeguards he said were vital for the health of London’s financial sector. But with the 26 other members of the European Union either agreeing to the proposed plan outright or saying they would put the matter before their Parliaments, Mr. Cameron’s veto left Britain alone on the margins at a time of great upheaval on the Continent, with the European Union struggling to resolve its financial crisis.

On Friday, Mr. Clegg appeared to support Mr. Cameron’s decision, although he warned the Conservative Party’s anti-Europe wing against being too triumphant about the problems facing the European Union. But his stance hardened over the weekend, and on Sunday he appeared to have backtracked, or at least tried to finesse his explanation to show that was in line with his party’s pro-Europe principles.

In fact, Mr. Clegg told the BBC that when Mr. Cameron called him at 4 a.m. Friday with the news that Britain had vetoed the plan: “I said this was bad for Britain. I made it clear that it was untenable for me to welcome it.”

Mr. Clegg has already lost the confidence of many Liberal Democrats by appearing to betray the party’s position when he has supported the government on other issues, like increasing the amount of tuition colleges can charge.

After the summit meeting, many prominent Liberal Democrats went further than Mr. Clegg.

A former party leader, Paddy Ashdown, described Mr. Cameron’s veto as a “catastrophically bad move” and said it would do nothing to shield London’s financial district, the City, from future European regulations. “In the name of protecting the City, we have made it more vulnerable,” he said.

Lord Ashdown also warned that the move had alienated Europe in a way that would haunt the United Kingdom.

“The anti-European prejudice of some in the Tory party,” he said, “has now created anti-British prejudice in Europe.”

Mr. Clegg, a former member of the European Parliament, said he would now “fight, fight and fight again” to make sure Britain remained an influential force inside the European Union. He said he would resist “tooth and nail” efforts by some Conservatives to take the country completely out of the union, particularly since the United States has found Britain a useful conduit to Europe.

“A Britain that leaves the E.U. will be considered irrelevant by Washington and a pygmy in the world, when I want us to stand tall in the world,” he said.

Mr. Clegg criticized Conservatives who had hailed Mr. Cameron as a “British bulldog” for his tough line on Europe.

“There’s nothing bulldog about Britain hovering somewhere in the mid-Atlantic, not standing tall in Europe, not being taken seriously in Washington,” he said.

To which one Conservative member of Parliament, Mark Pritchard, retorted, “Better to be a British bulldog than a Brussels poodle,” The Associated Press reported.

Mr. Cameron, meanwhile, was welcomed as a hero by his party’s anti-Europe right wing. “Up Eurs,” was the headline in Rupert Murdoch’s populist, anti-European tabloid newspaper, The Sun, along with a photograph of Mr. Cameron in a Churchillian bowler hat, holding two fingers up to Europe — the equivalent of an American middle finger.

“He did what I would have expected Margaret Thatcher to have done,” Andrew Rosindell, a Conservative member of Parliament, said approvingly.

But Kenneth Clarke, the Justice secretary and the Conservatives’ most prominent pro-Europe member, said in a radio interview that Mr. Cameron’s veto was a “disappointing, very surprising outcome.” He said he would be listening carefully to the prime minister’s statement in Parliament on the matter on Monday.

As upset as he is, Mr. Clegg said he did not want the coalition government to collapse.

“It would be even more damaging for us as a country if the coalition government was to fall apart,” he said. “That would cause economic disaster for the country at a time of great economic uncertainty.”

Related:

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 13th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Fareed’s Take: Only China can save Europe

By Fareed Zakaria, CNN, November 11, 2011

The European crisis that you’ve been reading about in the paper is worth watching carefully. In fact, it has now morphed into something much bigger than a European crisis – it could batter the entire global economy, which is pretty fragile anyway.

You’ve read a lot about Greece, but the problem in Europe is Italy. Greece is a nano-state; it makes up about 2% of the European Union’s gross domestic product. Italy, on the other hand, is one of the seven largest economies in the world. Its debts are greater than those of Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Greece combined. It has long been governed in an almost cartoonishly bad manner. Italy is too big to fail but might also be too big to bail. Even Germany might not be able to credibly bail it out along with all the other troubled countries. So what can be done?

I don’t think the leading proposals will work – creating Eurobonds or giving Brussels broader power to tax. They’re simply not going to happen. Governments oppose it and people oppose it. And anyway, creating a tighter European Union will take ten years. Markets needs reassurance now.

So I have a proposal: We need a big bazooka. Facing a similar crisis in 2008, then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson talked about the need for a sum of money large enough to scare markets into submission. A bazooka. But the problem is this: All of the EU combined doesn’t have one big enough. So who has the kind of money Italy needs?

Take a guess? They have $3 trillion in foreign exchange reserves. Yup, China. In fact, today, 10 trillion dollars of foreign exchange reserves are sitting around across the globe. That is the only pile of money large enough from which a bazooka could be fashioned.

The International Monetary Fund could go to the leading holders of such reserves – China, but also Japan, Brazil and Saudi Arabia – and ask for a $750 billion line of credit. The IMF would then extend that credit to the troubled EU economies, but insist on closely monitoring economic reforms, granting funds only as restructuring occurs. That credit line would more than cover the borrowing costs of both Italy and Spain for two years. The IMF terms would ensure that the two nations remained under pressure to reform and set up conditions for growth.

Now, the Chinese would have to devote at least half the funds. What’s in it for them? A new global role. This could be the spur to giving China a much larger say at the IMF. In fact, it might be necessary to make clear that Christine Lagarde would be the last non-Chinese head of the organization.

In a world awash in debt, power shifts to creditors. After World War I, European nations were battered by debts, and Germany was battered by reparation payments. The only country that could provide credit was the United States.

For America, providing desperately needed cash to Europe was its entry into the councils of power, a process that ultimately brought a powerful new player inside the global tent.

Today’s crisis is China’s opportunity to become a “responsible stakeholder” in the global system. If this doesn’t happen, hold on to your seat because we’re in for a rough ride.

For more of my thoughts throughout the week, I invite you to follow me on Facebook and Twitter and to visit the Global Public Square every day. Also, for more of my takes, click here.

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APEC currently has 21 members, including most countries with a coastline on the Pacific Ocean.

APEC member economies shown in green

APEC Members account for approximately 40% of the world’s population, approximately 54% of the world’s trade.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 13th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Europe’s real problem: Lack of growth

By Fareed Zakaria, CNN, written November 10, 2011 – posted November 13, 2011.

I was in Germany this week and the mood there is pretty grim: Europe is facing its most severe challenge since 1945. If the Greek crisis morphs into an Italian crisis – Italy being too large to bail out – the entire structure of post-World War II Europe could unravel.

Finally, European leaders seem to recognize that their strategy of kicking the can down the road has not worked. The result will not be a dramatic solution – that is not how Europe works – but, more likely, a series of steps that together will be more comprehensive than anything done before. But they will not address Europe’s core problem: a lack of growth.

The Europeans – by which I mean the Germans – are trying to find some solution to this crisis that will not let countries like Greece and Italy off the hook. Germans feel these countries need to feel the pressure – only then will they reform their budgets and their habits. So the solutions will be complex – trying to stop a crisis while not bailing out these countries entirely.

The real problem – however – is not so much that Greece has been unwilling to make sacrifices. It has made many. But Greece’s budget numbers look bleak because its growth forecast looks bleak. It needs to address a much larger question of competitiveness. What can the Greek economy do to attract capital and investment? And at what wage levels? These are questions most European countries will need to answer to fully solve their problems.

Italy’s economy has not grown for an entire decade. No debt restructuring will work if it stays stagnant for another decade.

Even Germany is not immune, with an average growth rate of only 1.5%. German officials know that with a declining population, in five to seven years the country is likely to grow at an annual rate of just 1%. That’s not much of an engine for Europe.

Europe needs a crisis agenda to get out of its bind, but beyond that it needs a growth agenda, which involves radical reform. The fact is that Western economies – with high wages, generous middle-class subsidies and complex regulations and taxes – have become sclerotic. Now they face pressures from three fronts: demography (an aging population), technology (which has allowed companies to do much more with fewer people) and globalization (which has allowed manufacturing and services to locate across the world).

If Europe – and, for that matter, the United States – cannot adjust to this new landscape, it might escape this storm only to enter another.

For more on this, read my column in The Washington Post. For more of my thoughts throughout the week, I invite you to follow me on Facebook and Twitter and to bookmark the Global Public Square. Also, for more of my takes, click here.

OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR to The New York Time MAURIZIO VIROLI – November 11, 2011.

Can Italy Put Berlusconi Behind It?

Silvio Berlusconi will fall, but his hold on Italy will remain until the country can undergo a moral awakening.

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OP-ED COLUMNIST to The New York Times, November 11, 2011, Paul Krugman:

Legends of the Fail.

With Italy following Greece off a cliff, it’s hard to see how the euro can survive. Now that the euro project is on the rocks, what lessons should we draw?

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Greece and Italy Seek a Solution From Technocrats

By RACHEL DONADIO

The question in both countries is whether the new leaders can succeed where their predecessors failed and dislodge the entrenched cultures of political patronage.

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Sovereign Debt of Euro Zone Turning Sour

By LIZ ALDERMAN and SUSANNE CRAIG

The debt crisis was fed by governments that borrowed too much, regulators that let banks treat the bonds as without risk and investors who viewed the bonds of all countries as solid.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 3rd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The facts are that the experience with the Libyan resolution is handicapping the procedure to come up with a Syrian resolution at the Security Council. Russia and China do not want to see another UN involvement and the IBSA effort turned just into an Indian effort – it is their presidency month – so they want to see a resolution.

Looking at the situation from Tel Aviv, thinking of September when the Palestinian topic comes up as well and the chances of having Syria still in the hopper – I hear more and more suggestions that an Intifada III with involvement of all other non-State factions – while in Israel there are  still many reasons for social discontent, might lead to unprogramed events.

Looking at Libya – “The fact of the matter is we are not able to get a ceasefire say the Indians. There are some attempts, and very useful attempts, by the African Union, through the AU roadmap. There are efforts being made by the special representative of the Secretary General. But I cannot say with any certainty that we are looking at a ceasefire in the immediate future. As events are unfolding, the Council’s attention is on other areas. But in Libya, the situation continues to be deeply worrying. And I would encourage all those who have a role to play to find a way to get the ball rolling.”

Inner City Press asked about the fight about if and how to condemn, and where in the test to place reference to, violence against Assad’s security forces.

Ambassador Puri replied, “It’s like this: this is standard in a negotiations. When you’ve got square brackets around something, they always add one or two extra to have negotiating chips.”

Given that Lebanon blocked the first attempt at a Council statement on Syria, Inner City Press asked about Ambassador Puri’s floated idea of a “decision” not subject to such blockage.

Ambassador Puri said, “I continue to remain confident that this is doable.”

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At UN in Run-Up to Meeting on Syria, Brazil Says Could Agree to Presidential Statement at the Security Council.

IBSA is on the Road to Damascus to look for form or elements – Inner City Press asked US Ambassador Susan Rice about the IBSA trip, did she think it might be positive. “I don’t even want to characterize the trip. Our business here is to speak strongly on behalf of the Council. The Assad government is prepared to use extraordinary violence against civilians.” (August 2, 2011)

From: Matthew Russell Lee of the Inner City Press at the UN in New York.

UNITED NATIONS, August 1 — With deaths in Syria mounting, on July 31 outgoing UN Security Council president Germany asked its successor for August, India, to convene an emergency for August 1 on Syria. At 9 am on Monday, a spokesman of the German Mission to the UN told the press that the request was granted, and the meeting would be at 5 pm.

In front of the Security Council on Monday morning, Inner City Press asked Brazilian Permanent Representative Maria Viotti what Brazil expected from the 5 pm meeting. After meeting with the Indian presidency she said Brazil could agree to a Press Statement or Presidential Statement on Syria, but not a resolution.

She told the Press, “We would be able to go along with a press statement, even with a PRST, I think that we would support that… Not a resolution, but a PRST or a press statement.”

Inner City Press has exclusively reported that Brazil, India and South Africa say their deputy ministers will travel to Damascus soon — “in the coming days,” Viotti said Monday — to “engage” with the Assad resolution. Western members of the Security Council have been dismissive of this trip.

When France’s Deputy Permanent Representative exited the Security Council after meeting with the Indian presidency, Inner City Press asked him if France had joined in Germany’s request for the meeting — “yes” was the answer — and told him what Viotti had said.

“That’s news to me,” he said. So news it is.

Footnote: Given the position Lebanon is in, it remains more than possible that it would block any press or presidential statement of the Council, which requires unanimity. Or, Lebanon could “disassociate” itself. We’ll see.

Update of 11:24 am — the Portuguese, when they emerged, said that for a Presidential or Press Statement, Lebanon could be a problem. But they pointed to a precedent from the 1956 Suez crisis, a statement can be adopted without all members present.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 28th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

This lady replaces her country-man the disgraced Dominique Gaston André Strauss-Kahn. She got prepared for the job while handling Euro’s crisis with Greece which is indeed the crises of Europe’s banks that are over-exposed to debt of the members of the EU.

The news these days in Europe is China’s move to buy Euro-debt and thus buy up European assets as well. This makes China a growing player in Europe’s financial system, as they already are in Latin America and Africa, not talking about the US itself. China will thus play the role of the IMF directly, and by gaining increasing power at the IMF as well.

China does this for many reasons but it is not the least of these reasons its Attempt to strengthen the world financial boat just to make sure that european banks do not go under. China needs them in order to keep growing worldwide while develop its own country internally.

With Ms. Lagarde’s appointment for 5 years, and doing what is needed while backing EU laggards, it seems just reasonable that next time around, or even at next year’s election of a new head of the World Bank, the major emerging States might feel strong enough to pick a choice that is different from what the old Transatlantic Alliance heads of State have in their   traditional minds formed at San Francisco in 1945 and later at Lake Success on Long Island, just outside New York City.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 7th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The World Economic Forum on Europe and Central Asia will be held in Vienna, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday June 7-9, 2011.

Vienna, Austria: venue for Euro World Economic Forum

Above is the Vienna venue for the WEF meeting – the place will be surrounded by security forces to make it sure the place does not turn into a demonstrators haven. Vienna just survived attacks by German hooligans that came over to accompany the German soccer team playing the Austrians. Papers called them neo-Nazis making the Hitler salute. But those were just one segment of a possible barrage by protesters invoking financial reasons for disaffection with the EU, the US, and the results of government sponsored capitalism. Seattle comes to mind of what Vienna might look in a few days.

So, Schengen or no Schengen Austria took note of Denmark closing its borders for immigration reasons and closed its borders as well for Global Economics reasons as per this conference. In the Europe of today – what this means is that vehicles at border crossings will form long lines and have delays with border police checking papers. Same at airports, train crossings and boat landings. What do you do with those crossing on foot on village roads? Oh well – solutions will be found for them too and the idea of a united Europe is out the window because of mutual mistrust. How do you decide that someone is unwanted? Do you check their tatoos or haircuts? Do you have a policy discussion with them or take the example from Turkey and look up past records that made them deny to former Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik her job as head of the OSCE - Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

Will they let in UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, if he decides to show up, considering his leniency on UN member States positions on Human Rights? He will have declared his running for reappointment to his position for a new term by the beginning of the week and might indeed find this conference as a good venue for a revisit. He was years ago Korea’s Ambassador to Vienna and has friendly relations to Austria.

The Kronen Zeitung of Sunday June 5th carries two revealing pieces of “Readers Mail” that stress the difference between Denmark and Austria. In both cases the argument goes that Denmark is closing its borders in order to safeguard its own citizens from the effects of migration caused by the events in the Arab World, in the Austrian case this happens always – the Austrian taxpayers’ money is used in order to safeguard foreign political and economic leaders and nothing is done when the issue is the security of the Austrian citizen. This comment hides the fact that Austria is suffering from bands of EU citizens from Eastern countries that come to enrich themselves from break-ins here but nothing is done to check their entree. Oh well, what do you do with the fiction of this Union?

The above mention of the closing of Austria’s borders officially is because of the  June meeting of the World Economic Forum will convene more than 500 leaders from business, government and civil society to discuss policies and reforms aimed at their views of rebalancing the global economy.

The diverse yet highly interdependent economies of Europe and Central Asia have reached a critical juncture, according to experts at the World Economic Forum.

While the advanced economies of the European Union are experiencing fiscal austerity and slower growth, emerging economies further east and in Central Asia are grappling with the pressures of rapid growth.

In addition to these regional challenges, Europe and Central Asia must respond to far-reaching global events such as the ‘Arab Spring’ and the earthquake in Japan.

The objective of the Vienna meeting is set out in the statement from the European Commission’s Communication on Innovation Union: “Europe’s competitiveness, our capacity to create millions of new jobs to replace those lost in the financial crisis and, overall, our future standard of living depend on our ability to drive innovation in products, services, business and social processes and models,” it says.

Will the Washington of President Obama push for a similar meeting between the USA and the fast growing economies of Latin America – the backyard in the Western Hemisphere ?

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The Underground open protests are being organized:

Attack WEF summit in Vienna, Austria, June 2011!
Smash imperialism and all its institutions!

please see: cpgml-news.blogspot.com/2011/06/a…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 5th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

I went today to XANADU as per an email invitation that promised this is a Chinese restaurant – and so it was.

The place is frequented by Chinese people and the food is General Asian. It has a well stocked Teppanyaki self-choice buffet, soup, vegetables, fruit, and a good choice of deserts. It is beyond the Naschmarkt at the U4 stop at Kettenbruekengasse 13, 1060 Wien.

From there I took the subway to the Am Hoff Square to see those preparations for events next week that will be open to the public. It promises fun.

XANADU to me had magical-mystic connotations. After all the name had meanings with the Citizen Caine – his fictitious mansion, with Bill Gates – Xanadu 2.0, the nickname of his futuristic private estate, as well as Mandrake the Magician‘s fictitious home. XANADU is also  a mountain in the Arrigetch Peaks in Alaska and an enigmatic bright feature on the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan.

XANADU/XANGDU thus migrated to all sorts of places, to Spain, Brazil, and outer space but what I learned looking up the internet it actually originated from China – Xanadu, or more accurately Shangdu, was the summer capital of Kublai Khan’s Yuan empire – so, to my honest surprise – it really has Chinese connotations – a reference to the past and a guide to the future ?

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From Wikipedia at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xanadu :

Xanadu (Chinese??pinyinShàngd?) was the summer capital of Kublai Khan‘s Yuan Dynasty in China, before he decided to move the seat of his dynasty to the Jin Dynasty capital of Zh?ngd? (Chinese??), which he renamed Dàd?the present-day Beijing. The city was located in what is now called Inner Mongolia, 275 kilometres (171 miles) north of Beijing, about 28 kilometers (17 miles) northwest of the modern town of Duolun. The layout of the capital is roughly square shaped with sides of about 2,200m; it consists of an “Outer City”, and an “Inner City” in the southeast of the capital which has also roughly a square layout with sides about 1,400m, and the palace, where Kublai Khan stayed in summer. The palace has sides of roughly 550m, covering an area of around 40% the size of the Forbidden City in Beijing. The most visible modern-day remnants are the earthen walls though there is also a ground-level, circular brick platform in the centre of the inner enclosure.

The city, originally named K?ipíng (??), was designed by Chinese architect Liu Bingzhong and built from 1252 to 1256 during the Mongol invasion.[1] In 1264 it was renamed Shàngd?, the “Supreme Capital”.[2] At its zenith, over 100,000 people lived within its walls. In 1369 Shàngd? was occupied by the Ming army and put to the torch. The last reigning Khan, Toghun Temür, fled the city.

Today, only ruins remain, surrounded by a grassy mound that was once the city walls. Since 2002 a reconstruction effort has been undertaken.

In March 2008, China submitted a proposal to UNESCO to make the ruin a World Heritage Site under the title “Sites of the Yuan Dynasty Upper Capital (Xanadu) and Middle Capital”.[3]

  1. ^ Shangdu city uncovered
  2. ^ Frederick W. Mote, Imperial China 900-1800,Harvard University Press, 2003 p.457
  3. ^ whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5326

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Whatever the story – I thought that the fill of Chinese food this Sunday will do me good this coming week.

As we posted already - www.sustainabilitank.info/s=+Regi…

Whatever will be decided there – it is clear that China will be called to finance it. In this context we found funny the news that 31 Chinese weddings were performed to couples at the Ludwig Castle in Bavaria – a neat inflow of money from China to Germany.
This in context of 20 times 10 to the 12th in EU and US Government debt (20 trillion) EURO – you guess how much of this to China. Will the Vienna meeting try to co-opt the Central Asian former Soviet Republics to stand with their oil at the EU side? We think that the best the economists will find in Vienna this coming week will be the Am Hoff activities including the Burgenland Wines and Beers.
In regard to what the papers started to call the “VERGURKUNG” of Europe – this is what happens when the internal disagreements about everything – from basic ideology to money  - is bursting in the open because of a serious series of infections by a mutant of Escherichia Coli. The situation is serious indeed and the New York Times editorial of today ( www.nytimes.com/2011/06/05/opinio…) is witness, but the articles in European Press are ridiculous because rather then trying to find the reason for the outbreak, we see attempts at trading blames and in seeking advantage for this or the other agriculture interest. Spain was crucified, but who looks into genetic engineering that might occur right under your own nose at home? Are there any transgressions when switching to Bio-products?

After talking Greece out of the Union – will some local interests want preventively to talk out of the union also Spain and Italy who indeed might pose much higher financial strains on the Union when their turn comes to default? Oh well – we will opt for XANADU.

Even though Matteo Ricci and Bento de Góis had already proven that Cathay is simply another name for China, the English cartographer John Speed in 1626 continued the tradition of showing “Cathaya, the Chief Kingdome of Great Cam” to the northeast of China. On his map, he placed Xandu east of the “Cathayan metropolis” Cambalu


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