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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 28th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

This lady replaces her country-man the disgraced Dominique Gaston André StraussKahn. 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.info)

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.info)

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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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 25th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

We just had a peaceful day today, Monday April 25, 2011 – a floating brunch on the Admiral Tegethoff of the Donauschiffe.at  – upstream from Vienna on the Danube – and in the evening we saw the great new release of a 3D – real life size documentary – about the work of the great Wupperthal, Germany, modern dance choreographer Pina Bausch who picked up from where Martha Graham left us by moving from the classics to ourselves. With Pima it was what we feel rather then what Oedipus felt – and what we saw was a cyber-monument to that lady.

The documentary started with Pina showing how she boils down life to the cycle of the Four Seasons. With her Spring is rather the fourth Season – the one when life bursts into explosion and starts anew. The other three seasons are just the preparation for the Spring when we get into a full renewal made after evolutionary developments in our feelings – important as they are in themselves – but springs frees the energies that were pent in until this season arrives.

Having explained herself and brought her dancers into a line-up demonstrating they got the message, she moved to renew the Sacres de Printemps of Igor Stravinsky and created by Vaslav Nijinski for the Parisian Serge Dijagilev Les Ballets Rousses, and even without having at hand a  Nijinsky dancer she manages to express raw emotions that make her version even stronger then the original.(Others that tried their hand on the “Rites of Spring” were: Maurice Brjart, Angelin Prelocjaj, Martha Graham, Uwe Scholz and Emanuel Gat.)

Think of Pina’s Wuperthal Arts Center, a real United Nations of talent, and the German Government and people backing she got, and you start thinking that High Standards of Living require culture and expenditures.

My mention in the title of Easter and Passover relates to the fact that this is still the Passover week. The Seder we participate in was at the Vienna Reform Congregation led Rabbi Walter Rothchild from Liverpool, Berlin and Vienna. It was a memorable, humorous and delicious event – as far as public Sedarim this was the best we ever participated in. It was relaxed, all inclusive, and delicious.

— 

Yesterday, Easter Sunday, I went to “Heaven” – that is the Austrian place called Am Himmel. There, next to the “Oktogon” which is at the corner of the Hights Street (Hoehengasse) and the Heaven Street (Himmelgasse) I found the Lebensbaumkreis – that is the big eco-circle where 40 trees arranged in a circle, and from all over the world, tell us about themselves having been wired to microphones. There are also four trees in an inner circle. These are the trees of life that help us understand how our lives can be made more pleasant if we just accept nature and the way our natural world functions.  Actually, the whole thing is not plain environmentalism, but also a mixture with spiritualism and some inputs of ethics that can be acceptable to any religion. I found this noteworthy considering the David Brooks piece we will see later in this posting.

After the visit at the Circle of Life, and watching the families picnicking around the circle or sitting in the Octogon Restaurant,  I continued to walk in the Vienna forest for several hours with the help of my trekking sticks and ended up at the Little Haus in Heaven where I ate a Pongauer Wedding soup and drank the semi-obligatory quarter liter of Austrian wine – this time the one made from local Blue Portuguese grapes grown on the slopes of the Vienna woods.

To make sure I did make it clear – all the above was described to prove we know – Vienna and Austria are now at the front of quality of life – the global leader.

In between yesterday’s activities and today’s there was my obligatory Sunday night activity of watching CNN – to be exact 10:00 pm local Vienna time – the Fareed Zakaria GPS program. As always it was an eye opener with extreme relevance to global concerns – where does the global economy go from here and what will this mean to the possibility to continue good life in Austria or changes for the better to life in the USA.

We all know that the US has overspent itself and like Greece, Ireland, and Portugal, is in effect bankrupt. We also know that Finland Has just voted for a new government that wants to stop the payments to bail out weaker EU partner governments. This ethic of work and do not come to ask for our hand-outs is spreading in the EU. Even Austria is not immune to this sort of demagoguery – or if you wish sound thinking. The third largest party in Austria – the “Blues” – may yet overcome next elections the “Blacks” and even the “Reds” by bringing up  conservative arguments and finding voters’ agreement. The result will obviously be the weakening of the future of the Euro-currency. Today the Euro is doing very well compared to the US dollar because of the US debt, but if the Euro itself becomes questionable, it will not be in position to replace the US dollar as world currency. So what is the world economic truth?

Here comes Master Fareed and makes it very clear – THE DANGER IN WORLD ECONOMICS IS NOT THAT THE US DOLLAR WILL COLLAPSE – BUT THE REALITY THAT ALL OTHER CURRENCIES ARE ACTUALLY MUCH WORSE OFF AND THEREFORE EVERYONE WHO HAS MONEY FROM TRADE SURPLUS IS READY TO INVEST IN US SHORT TERM DEBT MAKING THE US LESS EAGER, SEEMINGY EVEN LESS IN NEED, OFF  DOING SOMETHING ABOUT ITS OWN PROBLEMS.
The bottom-line becomes thus that in short term the US has now nothing to fear from, does believe that it can muddle through, and increases its problems, and the world’s problems, in the long term.

The Euro or the Yen cannot become a competitor to the US as for now, the Chinese, Brazilians, Indians, will continue for the time being to buy US short term debt, and the US might let its own debt rise to heaven and be exposed to a situation when things do indeed change and the US is allowed to plummet if this short term loans via the buying of short term securities ends. Further, this fake US economy does not create US jobs and without jobs US consumers will also decrease their spending. The real economy declines and standard of living declines rather then improves – it is only a sliver of the US citizenry that benefits from the fake economy. High quality immigration to the US declines, and from where will come the innovators that the economy needs? Now we hear the wheels of the real danger squeak. Not the short term danger the politicians talk about, but the long term danger they refuse to do something about – the funding for education and the positive reforms in health and social security programs – and we add to the list the change to innovative and more sustainable technologies.  

Fareed Zakharia had Messrs. Robert Rubin and Paul  O’Neill – both former Secretaries of the Treasury – the one under President Clinton and the other during the first year of the  G.W. Bush presidency (a question that never came about in the program could have been – why really was his tenure with the Bush Government so short?). Both agreed to the need to come up with ideas to start now programs to decrease the debt in the future, but were in agreement to raise the debt ceilling for the present – as nothing can be changed right now with the 2012 election on the horizon. 

The Secretaries were not the real stars of this CNN/GPS Program – that honor in our opinion went to the Journalist David Brooks who just came out with a book analyzing the US problems and reached the conclusion that it is the education system that did in the US. He is known for his conservatism when  it comes to economics planning but he also backs values that are different from what America calls success. Brooks says that pushing youth to go to best colleges and move up the ladder according to lines prescribed by conventions creates success but limits innovation. It is rather the C+ students with networking skills that work outside the accepted common norms that come up with creative ideas, and he has the real people-cases to prove his point. Now that is another block to America progress under the present landscape of Washington. He speaks of a new form of spirituality – the recognition of the value of your fellow man. The fact that every person has experiences from which you can learn something. It is the networker who does this sort of learning who eventually wins – not just that he becomes successful in the conventional capitalist sense, but he innovates in his own terms in league with his fellow men and thus becomes the real leader of progress. He has examples of real success stories – seemingly including also a chapter on Fareed Zakaria and a chapter on innovators we met on our US State Department sponsored trip to Idaho. We have not read the book yet and are not willing to go further then what we learned from this recent Global Public Square (GPS) program. We also intend to pick up the TIME Magazine of this week that has more about these topics.

The new book by David Brooks is titled – “THE SOCIAL ANIMAL: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement.” Please see – www.npr.org/2011/03/07/134329412/…
 globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/…
 

Brooks explains how the dry push for achievements by the Washington political elite has destroyed education – this because one learns from someone he loves and respects – but love is not something that legislators are ready to budget for.

So let me now summarize – that today Europe is ahead of the US in many areas even though young Austrians say the words “it is cool” as often as they find an occasion to use them, listen to American music and adore everything American, while enjoying the highest quality of life right here in Vienna.

So far as the US is concerned, the lack of a European Healthcare system and of a good education system is stressing American families and lowering their standard of living to the point that something will have to give.

On the other hand, in the short term, the collapse of the economy of some EU States will cause a weakening in the trust in the Euro which will help the US get foreign short term loans as a safe heaven for accrued surplus of trade funds that will create a fake belief that all is well with the US. The internal imballance in the US will increase, and may lead to very serious upheavals in the future that will benefit nobody.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 19th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)


The World Future Council (WFC)  www.worldfuturecouncil.org consists of up to 50 respected personalities from all five continents. They come from governments, parliaments, the arts, civil society, science and the business world. Together they form a voice for the rights of future generations. The World Future Council is a charitable foundation dependent on donations.

The World Future Council Foundation is a registered charity in Hamburg, Germany where its head office is located. Additionally,  staff is working in Brussels, London, Washington and Addis Ababa.

WFC works in close collaboration with civil society groups, members of parliament, governments, businesses and international organisations we research future just policies and legislation. We then advise political decision-makers, offer them tried and tested courses of action and support them in the concrete implementation of new policies. We make politicians aware that they have an ethical responsibility to assess every decision-making process on the basis of how it will affect future generations. As an independent non-profit organisation with no interest in short-term profit or prestige, autonomous from governmental and institutional interests, our organisation enjoys the highest level of credibility in its political advocacy. To identify holistic solutions on a wide range of issues and to enable the application of these solutions, the WFC has created the following programmes:

  • Future Justice
  • Climate and Energy
  • Sustainable Ecosystems
  • Sustainable Economies
  • Just Societies
  • Peace and Disarmament

What we want to achieve:

The lifestyle in industrialized countries has led to people using up natural resources at a threatening pace. Consequently, our environment is being destroyed and the unequal distribution of wealth and natural resources is increasing. Mankind today is living and consuming at the price of future generations. The World Future Council works to safeguard the rights of future generations. Our aim is to pass on a healthy planet and just societies to our children and grandchildren.

What makes us unique:

The lifestyle in industrialized countries has led to people using up natural resources at a threatening pace. Consequently, our environment is being destroyed and the unequal distribution of wealth and natural resources is increasing. Mankind today is living and consuming at the price of future generations. The World Future Council works to safeguard the rights of future generations. Our aim is to pass on a healthy planet and just societies to our children and grandchildren.

How we finance our international work:

The city of Hamburg and Hamburg entrepreneur Dr. Michael Otto provided initial funding for the period from 2007 to 2009. This has enabled the WFC to work effectively and professionally for the good of future generations. For us to continue our work in the years to come we are completely reliant on further donations by people who want to help us to protect the rights of future generations. We are committed to using donations conscientiously and utilize funds as efficiently as possible to realize our goal of creating a just and sustainable world.

More on organisation, council members and staff

Press release – Sustainability can be made a political reality.

WFC co-hosted in Lisbon a legal experts conference on intergenerational justice.

Lisbon, May 28, 2010. The international conference on “Ways to Legally Implement Intergenerational Justice“ brought international legal experts to Lisbon on May 27-28 in order to create anti-dotes to the political and economic short-termism that increasingly threatens our future living conditions.

The conference was co-hosted by the World Future Council and the Foundation for the Rights of Future Generations.

Its goal was to discuss policy concepts and concrete law changes that would help to finally make sustainability a reality: “The term sustainability can be found in almost every declaration and corporate report now, but policy advances to implement sustainable solutions are regularly watered down”, summarizes Dr. Maja Göpel, Director Future Justice of the World Future Council.

“Democracies have a strong tendency to favour present voters and lobbyists over future citizens that have no political or financial power. But the results of this myopic game are that we are rapidly closing the options for our children and grandchildren.”

Among the delegates to the conference were personalities that have officially been given the role to defend such options. Dr. Sandor Fülöp, Ombudsman for Future Generations in Hungary, for example, pointed out that his mandate is to protect fundamental rights of every citizen when he is stopping projects destroying too much nature. “Every Hungarian has the right to life and to intact nature. We cannot irreversibly destroy natural wealth in order to realize high economic profit today. We determine the conditions for life tomorrow.”

While some speakers were more optimistic about the opportunities of technological revolution than others, consensus prevailed that we have to quickly change course to safeguard our environment and end poverty at the same time. Shlomo Shoham, former Commissioner for Future Generations in Israel, did not fall short from calling for changed future intelligence: “Humanity is facing a future in which change takes place at an ever-increasing speed. The unknown awaits us beyond the horizon and our ability to digest and deal with the sheer volume of change is diminishing. We need to find new paths, train ourselves to ‘let go’ of certain ideas, fears, and concerns and change not only our rules, but also the way we think and act. We need to create future intelligence – and use it.”

The World Future Council is currently launching a campaign on the promotion of such Guardians for Future Generations on the European and national governance level. In its most ambitious form these Guardians of the long view would not only speak up for long-term interests in decision-making, but also help develop the knowledge base we need to make sustainability a reality.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 12th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The elections for the UN Security Council are in:

Japan, Mexico, Turkey, Austria, Uganda have finished their two year term and will be replaced by
India, Colombia, Germany, Portugal, and South Africa.

Lebanon, Brazil, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nigeria, and Gabon are the hold-outs for 2011.

The only real contest was for the seats in the Western European and Other States Group (WEOG). The final contest there was between Canada and Portugal. Speaking after the vote, Portuguese Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Joao Cravinho said the fact that Portugal is a smaller country appealed to other states of similar size and power.

“Our own campaign had enormous amounts of receptivity in the message that we brought about our willingness to engage closely – not just for the purposes of the campaign, but to engage closely over our tenure in the Security Council with different regional groups, with countries big and small. Our campaign was also based on the idea that countries of small or medium-sized dimension should have a voice, be present in Security Council, this message had a lot of echo and, in the end, was the basis for our success,” said Cravinho. We believe that the US would have liked to see Canada win this contest.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told reporters that his country’s first round victory is a sign of international trust in Germany’s role in global affairs. We believe that Germany like Brazil, Japan and South Africa (G-4) should be permanent members of the UN Security Council. Next year Japan will be outside as they just completed their term.

These contests reminded us of the Island – Austria contest two years ago. Then both contenders were small States somewhat irrelevant in the UN structure – with one outside and one inside the EU. This time Canada was a larger contender, but Portugal has some similar-language former colonies that will back her. Then Iceland had the Scandinavian countries back her, but the economy was the miller’s stone around her neck – then, Austria fought as if the country’s life was at stake. In the larger context of the UN these fights point at the fact that the WEOG is a strange construct that has not got the feeling of the new UN forces yet, and is continuing under the assumption that nothing has changed, and that Europe can continue unchanged its post-World War II  multi-seating at important international bodies, even by over-ruling the non-EU members of the group. But unless the EU does unite into one strong force – these fights rather look like battles staged in an operetta.

The new elected States include India, Germany and South Africa which add up to Brazil and Nigeria from among the holdovers – to form a strongest quintet the UN has come up with in recent years. Only Japan will be missed. And let us see:

With India, South Africa and Germany winning three of the rotating non-permanent seats in the UN Security Council (UNSC), this is the first time the Security Council will witness the simultaneous presence of all BRIC, IBSA, and BASIC countries and three of the four G4 countries.

The BRIC countries comprise four emerging powers including Brazil, Russia, India and China who are set to becoming leading economies of the world by 2050. Russia and China are already permanent members of the UNSC – albeit not the original signers of the UN Charter!

Brazil was elected to a non-permanent seat last year and will remain there till end of 2011.

The IBSA comprises India, Brazil and South Africa, bringing three leading economies of three continents together.

The G4 comprising India, Brazil, Germany and Japan are aspiring for a permanent seat in the UNSC. India won the seat vacated by Japan from the Asia region.

The BASIC countries are The US and China – the so called G-2 – and IBSA. This is the leading group that chiseled out an approach to climate change in Copenhagen, will wait out changes in the US in Cancun, but will prepare some alternative approach for the 2011 meeting in Cape Town – not a moment too soon. So the UNSC will have the right configuration next year to deal with the subject.

India, as one of the four  countries seeking to expand the Security Council’s permanent membership,  G-4, U.N. Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri said his country would use its two-year term to work towards a longer-term stay on the body. He also spoke about what India’s presence will contribute to the council.

“We bring the voice of one-sixth of humanity. We have 63 years of experience in nation building, and I think that is what the U.N. can use. We have experience in peacekeeping. We would like to transcend that into peace building,” said Puri.

South Africa has returned to the council after only a two-year absence. Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said her country would work with states both inside and outside the council to keep Africa as a zone of peace, security and development. It seems that Africa gets it now – that they must have a permanent representation at the table.

The BRIC nations – Brazil, Russia, India and China – could present a united front on several contentious issues.

Earlier this year, Kazakhstan withdrew from the race leaving India as a sole runner from Asia for the two year term. The last time India had a seat on the Security Council was in 1992.

“BRIC coordination in the Security Council becomes a fact of life,” the Indian Foreign Minister said after a meeting with the foreign ministers of the three other countries.

BASIC becomes a way to tackle the global environment problems starting 2011 – we say. The subject was introduced to the UNSC by the UK in 2006 and no doubt will now come back strengthened with this new palette of members. Mexico’s membership at the Security Council, they are one of the States that are finishing their term, did nothing for Cancun – as if they were not there at all.

——

And an aside about the future of WEAG contests – for the 2013-2014 UNSC membership shift the competition in 2012 will be between Australia, Luxembourg and Finland. Australia is afraid that their fate will be similar to that of Canada this year – but we understand that Australia did not back Canada this time as it would have been even harder to replace Canada that has a similar background like Australia, then it will be to replace Portugal.

Another aside please see www.innercitypress.com/weog2junke…
It seems that some believe that the right-wing Canadian government policies had something to do with the outcome that allows the EU to end up with four out of the total 15 chairs around the UNSC horse-shoe table.

Canada until this year managed to get a seat on the Council 6 times – that is once every decade – this compared to India that had a seat also 6 times earlier – last time in 1992 – and  was badly defeated by Japan in 2006. We found a paper from Winnipeg that accuses the Harper Government directly for this loss rather then trying to understand that distributing maple syrup bottles to delegations and sending in the mounties to the UN and paying for African Ambassador junkets – simply does not work when the competitor is a multi-headed EU. It is wrong to think that the right wing government was the only reason, – the UN had no problem with Colombia even though they were opposed by the ALBA group.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 13th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)





































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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 7th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

For UNSC Seats, Canada & Germany Offer Junkets, Colombia Opposed by Chavez & Alba Group? India In, Zuma MIA?

By Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press.

UNITED NATIONS, September 2 — To choose the five new non permanent members of the UN Security Council, one contest is known, another only rumored.

India and South Africa are running unopposed, even though the latter’s president Jacob Zuma is now not coming to the UN General Debate in late September.

Colombia still maintains it’s unopposed, but sources say that the endorsement of the regional group GRULAC is by no means assured, due to opposition from Venezuela and members of the ALBA group.

Inner City Press asked Venezuela’s Ambassador Valero about the controversy on the evening of September 1. He acknowledged GRULAC support was being withheld, but said this might change if relations with new Colombian president Santos continued to improve.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s appointment of Alvaro Uribe to his panel of the assault on the Gaza flotilla continues to chafe the Grupo Alba. Venezuela is slated to head the Group of 77 and China in the coming year, and will act on that appointment at that time.

Skeptical observers link Ban’s Uribe appointment not only to a desire to please the U.S. and Israel, but also Colombia, as it would have a vote on Ban’s second term. Ban’s backtrack on Kashmir is also seen in this light.

The competition between Germany, Canada and Portugal for the two Western Europe and Other Group (WEOG) seats is heating up, with attempts to buy votes. The Permanent Representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo complained to Inner City Press about Canada flying five African Ambassadors north last weekend, and said he was not going.

Last month outside the General Assembly’s session on the floods in Pakistan, Inner City Press asked Canada’s foreign minister Lawrence Cannon how the campaign was going. Good, good, he said with a smile.

On the evening of August 30, simultaneous with Russia’s End of Security Council Presidency party uptown, Germany held a reception in the UN’s North Lawn building, promoting its funding of African border demarcations.

Sources told Inner City Press that Germany behind the scenes was topping Canada by inviting African and other developing world Ambassadors for a European junket.

Inner City Press asked the German mission to “please confirm or deny that Germany recently invited a number of developing world diplomats and their spouses to Germany. Please state how many diplomats and spouses were invited, including how many from Africa and from which countries, to where, and why. Please comment on the relation between these invitations and Germany’s run for a Security Council seat 2011-12.”

Six hours later Inner City Press received a response from the German mission to the UN, below.


UN’s Ban & Angela Merkel,
Gästeprogramm not shown

Subject: Re: press questions
From: .NEWYVN POL-2-6 Eberl, Alexander
To: “Matthew R. Lee” Inner City Press
Date: Wed, Sep 1, 2010 at 6:49 PM

Dear Mr. Lee, thank you for your mail… Within the framework of the so-called “Gästeprogramm der Bundesrepublik Deutschland” (Visitors Programm of the Federal Republic of Germany) the Federal Government and the German Bundestag jointly and regularly invite different groups of foreign personalities to Germany.

This well-established programme stretches back to the early years of the Federal Republic and has through time covered a wide variety of countries and topics. It is aimed at foreign personalities with an accentuated role in their country, be it in politics, society or culture – or journalism. The programme intends to foster the dialogue between Germany and other countries, societies and cultures. Please note, that spouses are not invited or covered by the programme.

Various groups – among them this year all in all around fifty diplomats from developing countries based in New York – were invited to Germany. They held fruitful meetings and talks both in Berlin as well as in other German places.

The aim of the Visitors Programme has always been to make insights available and thereby improve the understanding of Germany. It goes without saying that Germany – as a keen multilateralist – has an interest to provide decision-makers with opportunities of firsthand information.

Best regards,

Alexander Eberl, Press & Public Relations
Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations

Can Portugal, given its financial problems, keep up? Should UN Security Council seats be for sale?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 30th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

We really do not know what happened in Lisbon. We believe the Portuguese effort was correct and could have created momentum, but as we are connected here to the UN, and had no information forth-coming – we wonder if the organizers would not have been better off without the emptiness of a UN cover?
——————————–
UN DAILY NEWS from the
UNITED NATIONS NEWS SERVICE

20 July, 2010 =========================================================================

UN TO SPOTLIGHT MEDIA’S ROLE IN PROMOTING MIDDLE EAST PEACE

The role of the media in fostering dialogue and understanding between Israelis and Palestinians will be the focus of a two-day United Nations meeting to be held later this week in Portugal’s capital, Lisbon.

The upcoming media seminar, which starts on Thursday, will be the 17th such gathering organized by the UN Department of Public Information (DPI), and aims to sensitize public opinion on the issue of Palestine and the peace process.

With this year marking the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the landmark resolution 1325, which stresses the importance of giving women equal participation and full involvement in peace and security matters, their role in achieving peace will also be discussed.

Some 120 people from the Middle East, including both Israelis and Palestinians, and from around the world are set to attend, including Government officials, representatives of civil society organizations, academics, journalists and others.

Five panel sessions will be held during the seminar on topics such as the role of the Israeli and Palestinian media in reducing tensions, the use of new media to bring about positive change, and the part that mayors from both sides can play in advancing peace.

The participants will include Jorge Sampaio, the former Portuguese president and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, set up under UN auspices to promote better cross-cultural relations worldwide.

Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, and Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, will also address the event.

——————-

UN DAILY NEWS from the
UNITED NATIONS NEWS SERVICE

21 July, 2010 =========================================================================

UN POLITICAL CHIEF UNDERSCORES NEED FOR DIRECT ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN TALKS

With efforts to move to serious negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians on achieving a two-State solution having reached a “critical juncture,” the top United Nations political official today underlined the need for direct negotiations between the two sides to begin as soon as possible.

“These talks are essential for ending the 1967 occupation, ending the conflict and resolving all core issues between the parties, including Jerusalem, borders, refugees, security settlements and water,” Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe told the Security Council today.

Six rounds of proximity talks facilitated by United States Special Envoy George Mitchell have been held since they began in May.

The goal of the diplomatic Quartet – comprising the United Nations, the US, Russia and the European Union – continues to be US-facilitated direct negotiations as soon as possible, Mr. Pascoe said, urging Israel and Palestinians to take advantage of the current opportunity to make progress.

Direct talks, he noted, could boost “confidence in the possibility of genuine progress on the core issues and on the ground, including restraint in Jerusalem, implementation of Roadmap obligations on settlements and further measures to empower the Palestinian Authority.”

Earlier this month, in a move welcomed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other officials, the Israeli Government announced it was increase the scope and quantity of materials allowed into Gaza.

Since then, new food and productive items have entered the Strip and the volume of imports into the area has risen steadily, with a 40 per cent increasing in the number of truckloads entering Gaza every week.

“While these are positive steps forward, we hope they can be enhanced to address the deplorable conditions in the Strip,” Mr. Pascoe said, calling for additional steps to be taken to allow exports and movement of people, as well as to streamline procedures for approval for projects.

He also announced at today’s meeting that agreements agreed by the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) on ensuring the cargo onboard Turkish ships have been implemented.

Those ships were part of an aid flotilla intercepted by the Israeli military on 31 May, resulting in the deaths of nine civilians and the wounding of at least 30 others.

Mr. Pascoe said that arrangements are also being made to transfer material carried by a Libyan-sponsored vessel, which arrived in Egypt last week, to Gaza.

“Such convoys are not helpful to resolving the basic economic problems in Gaza and needlessly carry the potential for escalation,” he told the meeting, which heard from dozens of speakers.

During the reporting period, Palestinian militant groups fired 41 rockets and mortars into southern Israel, causing no injuries, while the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) carried out six air strikes and 21 incursions, killing four Gazans, including one alleged militant, and injuring 23 others, the Under-Secretary-General said.

Turning to Lebanon, he said that the situation in that country remains stable. The Lebanese Parliament has continued talks on draft legislation on the civil rights of Palestinian refugees.

“Consensus appears to be within reach and the United Nations would welcome this as a first step,” Mr. Pascoe said.

Paul Badji, Chairman of the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said at the meeting that serious direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians “can only be successful in an atmosphere of mutual trust and confidence in a comprehensive, just and lasting outcome.”

This, he said, requires both sides to implement their obligations under the Roadmap.

The Committee remains “alarmed” by Israel’s refusal to heed international calls to halt settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territory, including in East Jerusalem.

Also addressing the Council today was Israeli Ambassador Gabriela Shalev, who said her country called for direct negotiations with Palestinians with “no preconditions, no delays.

“With Jerusalem and Ramallah only 10 minutes apart, direct negotiations are the only path to bridge the existing gaps,” she stressed.

Ms. Shalev emphasized the need for mutual recognition, noting that Israel’s recognition of “a Palestinian State as the nation-State of the Palestinian people must be met with an acknowledgment that Israel is the nation-State of the Jewish people.”

For his part, the Palestinian representative, Riyad Mansour, told the Council that “it seems strange that such a volatile situation persists in light of the international and regional efforts being exerted for revival of the peace process.”

Although his side has taken part in the proximity talks in good faith, “the same cannot be said for Israel,” which he said has “repeatedly challenged those talks with illegal, reckless actions.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 24th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Global Clean Energy Forum – IHT – Join us in Lisbon, 30 September – 1 October, 2010.
The International Herald Tribune’s Business of Green series has set the agenda since 2007 with insightful reporting and analysis on energy and the environment. To download your special compilation of selected Business of Green articles, click here.

 www.eiseverywhere.com/ehome/index…

 www.ihtinfo.com/clean-energy/gce-…

THE SIX SAFE  TOPICS ARE:

1. The Threat of Village Soot.

2. Will Polluters Pay in Europe?

3. Eating for 6 Billion with Emission’s Labels for Climate’s Sake.

4. Leaching Electronic Waste World Wide.

5. Quest to Grow Aviation’s Fuel.

6. Electric Cars a Surer Thing.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 1st, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

July 1, 2001

The e-mail reads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 25th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

After the completion of the third round we know now that the 16 are made up from 6 Latin American teams, 6 EU teams, two teams from Asia, just one from Africa, and the US.

The six Latin American teams are all five teams of the Southern cone – the ABC and Uruguay and Paraguay, wth the addition of Mexico.

The six EU teams are the two Iberian countries, England, Netherlands, Germany, and Slovakia.

The two Asians are South Korea and Japan.

And then is Ghana, the only African State to make it, and the US. These two teams will meet immediately in the first round of the elimination games – thus making it clear that the upcoming eight eight might not include any African team, or it will miss the US.

The conclusion so far is that when one speaks soccer, the kings are again from the Latin cone and the Iberian Peninsula, with this year the addition of The Netherlands and Germany. The only teams that came out the full amount of 9 points – that is three wins – are The Netherlands and Argentina. The prizes for elimination-with-shame go to France and Italy. North Korea’s participation was a fluke. In their last game they lost to The Ivory Coast at 0:3.

Comparing with our interim article, we seem vindicated by what we wrote about these games and this week-end’s Toronto G-20.

————————-

After the completion of just two rounds of the pre-elimination stage in the World Cap games it is clear that Argentina, Brazil and Chile (the Latin ABC) and The Netherlands, will be among the competing golden 16. But Portugal wins our laurels. They shut out North Korea with a stunning 7:0, while Brazil played them only to a diplomatic 2:1 that allowed North Korea to crow that their Stalinism is succeeding.

On the other hand – it took just two rounds to show it clearly that Europe is in deep crisis.

France is in complete disintegration, England is preoccupied with the BP oilspill and even though they played an equalizer 1:1 with the US but it just does not cover the economic disaster of one of their top corporations and  economically they are sinking together with the US. Soccer-wise they also played an 1:1 game with Nigeria’s oil and may be left out like France from the golden 16. This is shocking indeed in both cases but quite obvious for someone who analyses Europe at large. Personally – for transparency – I have to confess that I did bet on the Nigeria draw and am making some money of the English disaster.

Then Italy and Germany and Spain – they may not make it either. Italy managed just two draws one with our favorite country – New Zealand (that is favorite in general but not in soccer).  Germany, having lost to Serbia is not assured either of a spot among the 16 (For transparency – I was not as bold as thinking they will lose, I only bet on a draw but they ended worse then our prediction).
Spain lost to Switzerland – right there at starting game?

Could anyone imagine a World Cup 16 without France, England, Germany, Italy …?  All of them having their independent seats at Toronto’s G-20 table? Can I say once more that there is not an EU Half-life Crisis – face up to it – it is rather that the rest of the world is moving up and Europe must Unite in order to have future value. This World Cup Chaos is a bellweather! The United Siates might make it into the circle of the 16 – in soccer of all things – because it is now more united then the EU. That is even stranger.

Thanks Portugal – you were the only ones to show there is still life left in Europe.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 2nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

We had the following sit in the computer in draft form for nearly a year. We did not post it because I thought – wait – we really may not see the depth of the problem yet. I watched today  Fareed Zakaria interviewing Lloyd Blankfein, the present CEO of Goldman-Sachs, and saw the pits – this reminded me of the article.

We heard that the Bush Administration employed ten graduates of the Goldman-Sachs school of doing business while the Obama Administration employs only three. This seems progress, but we learned that Hank Paulsen and Tim Geithner call Lloyd Blankfein to find out what goes on “on the Street” – read Wall Street. There is nothing wrong when the former boss calls the one that replaced him for information – but what if the information helps guide policy in ways the old House likes it? This does not have to be an issue of corruption – it is mainly an issue of business culture. This was not just in the Bush Administration – this is TODAY.

We know that Wall Street is doing fine again – only that most everybody else does not – and some of the meanest misery was exported to others. See Europe – the German and French banks lent to Greece, Spain, Portugal etc. and never checked country policies that might have been very different from their own. Even the EURO, having been structured without common fiscal policy, gets into this hot tub. If Greece falls – so will the German banks that invested in a financially failing situation with open eyes. If Greece fails, what will happen to the EURO? Then how does this compound the German loss. The German loss will then be the US win – after all exchange rates go by who loses least. Having started the ball rolling, the US banking institutions, having already gotten support, can now watch how the Europeans start rolling into the dust. But this is not all – we listen to Mr. Blankfein and realize that more shoes will be falling – so – more institutions will lose credibility and start rolling. There is ample space in the mud – for all of them. Possibly some space in the jails too.

John Paulsen was not the only Wall Street Wizard to figure out how selling of poison bundles will do him good. He was part of that school and stood his ground today explaining that giving rope to others to hang themselves is a good bet for the salesman.What is needed is seemingly the closing of schools that teach such science and for Washington to retain only reformed graduates of such schools. Knowing crime is a positive thing only if beholden friendship to the criminals is a thing of the past.

Perhaps George Soros could be an adviser in such matters to President Obama. Paul Volcker, Joseph Stiglitz are  excellent academics in these areas also. Paul Krugman and Thomas Friedman could further add a line or two.

We get now to the point that real reform is needed by all – in the US and in Europe. Will this ever happen? Will the politicians agree to seek the right track to survival that is not just a game of cannibalism? Will they allow financial reform to proceed?

—————————————————–

Arianna Huffington, June 15, 2009

Whistling Past the Economic Graveyard: The Audacity of Misplaced Hope – Banks, Economic Recovery, Financial Market, Geithner Plan, Obama Economic Recovery Plan, Public-Private Investment Program, Timothy Geithner, Toxic Assets…

Is it possible to have too much hope? To be too optimistic? Yes, if that hope keeps you from facing — and dealing with — unpleasant realities.

That seems to be what’s happening regarding the financial institutions responsible for the economic meltdown.

—–

Let’s start with the banks’ toxic assets. When Tim Geithner unveiled the Public Private Investment Program, he said that dealing with these assets was a “core” part of solving the financial crisis.

But the banks would much rather keep pretending that their toxic assets are not that toxic, and worth much more than they really are — a risky charade the relaxed mark-to-market rules allow them to continue to pull off.

So, last week, the PPIP program was apparently scrapped. Does this mean that the toxic assets are no longer a “core” part of the problem? Or that hoping they’re no longer part of the problem will somehow make them no longer part of the problem?

“Hope sustains life, but misplaced hope prolongs recessions.” So says Jim Grant, publisher of the Grant’s Interest Rate Observer newsletter, whom I interviewed last week on Squawk Box. Because of misplaced hope, Grant says, business people, homeowners — and administrations — often refuse to admit the truth and take the painful steps necessary to turn things around.

On Wednesday, President Obama will lay out the details of his administration’s plan to remake the financial regulatory system. Geithner and Larry Summers offered a sneak peak at the plan in an op-ed in today’s Washington Post, proclaiming, “we must begin today to build the foundation for a stronger and safer system.”

Among the proposals: “raising capital and liquidity requirements for all institutions”; “consolidated supervision by the Federal Reserve”; “robust reporting requirements on the issuers of asset-backed securities” including “strong oversight of ‘over the counter’ derivatives”; and providing “a stronger framework for consumer and investor protection across the board.”

The devil, of course, will be in the details. And on how much muscle Obama puts behind pushing these measures through and ensuring they become law without being watered down. Especially at a time when the latest stock market bubble has undermined the urgent push for reform, which seems to have given way to a push to move on to other things and leave that little financial kerfuffle behind us.

And investors seem anxious to do the same. Witness the “fierce rally” in the collateralized loan obligation market. CLOs are made up of sliced and diced assets (including high-risk and junk loans) — and are kissing cousins to the collateralized-debt obligations (i.e. crap) at the heart of the financial meltdown. But according to analysts at Morgan Stanley there has recently been a “remarkable change” in investor sentiment towards these securities, including an “exuberance” for the lowest grade junk being sold.

In other words, we are right back to risky business as usual. No harm, no foul. Let’s get back to the fun we were having before this whole worldwide economic collapse thing started happening.

It puts a whole other spin on the audacity of hope.

———-

Too many in Washington — and in the media continue to take the well-being of Wall Street as the proper gauge for the well-being of the rest of America. Yes, the Dow is up 33 percent since March. But another 345,000 jobs were lost in May, raising the number of the unemployed to 14.5 million, and the unemployment rate to 9.4 percent. Since the start of the recession in December 2007, unemployment has almost doubled.

What’s more, as the charts show it, over the past two decades, the top one percent of Americans has done very well in terms of wage growth. Things have not been nearly as good for everybody else.

Are the reforms going to be sufficiently fundamental to avoid a repeat of the boom and bust cycles, in which only a select few enjoy the boom and everybody else pays for the bust?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 2nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

This is a sequel that we announced in our article posted www.sustainabilitank.info/#14986 on the meetings at Columbia University on Friday, April 30, 2010.

This sequel  deals with the presentation, and the discussion following it, by the President of the European Parliament, Professor of Chemical Engineering Jerzy Buzek, formerly the Prime Minister of Poland (1997-2001). ( the speechwww.ep-president.eu/president/view/en/press/speeches/sp-2010/sp-2010-April/speeches-2010-April-3.html )

The European Parliament was created in 1979 as an eventual development from what was started May 9, 1950 – 60 years ago – by the Robert Schuman declaration that formed the coal community. The coal and steel industries of six European, previously warring countries, united to show that after WWII a new Europe was born. This led to new peaceful International relations as a way of reconciliation and eventually to the creation of the EU.

Jerzy Buzek was born on 3 July 1940 in Smilowice, a town in south-eastern Silesia which is now in the Czech Republic, to a prominent family, which participated in Polish politics in the Second Polish Republic during the period between the two World Wars. The family was part of the Polish community in Zaolzie. Buzek’s father was an engineer. After the Second World War, his family moved to Chorzów. He is a Protestant.

In 1963 Jerzy Buzek graduated from the Mechanics-and-Energy Division of the Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice specializing in chemical engineering. He became a scientist in the Chemical Engineering Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Gliwice. Since 1997 he has been a professor of technical science. He is also an honorary doctor of the universities in Seoul and Dortmund. Mr. Buzek  told at the meeting that he went to study a hard science because in those days you could go nowhere with politics – politics were “of one color and falsified”he said, but in politics you can influence much more then in hard sciences he also said.

Solidarity was the first non-communist party controlled trade union in a Warsaw Pact country. In the 1980s it constituted a broad anti-bureaucratic social movement. The government attempted to destroy the union during the period of martial law in the early 1980s and several years of political repression, but in the end it was forced to start negotiating with the union.
The Round Table Talks between the government and the Solidarity-led opposition led to semi-free elections in 1989. By the end of August a Solidarity-led coalition government was formed and in December 1990 Walesa was elected President of Poland.

in December 1989 Tadeusz Mazowiecki was elected Prime Minister. Since 1989 Solidarity has become a more traditional trade union, and had relatively little impact on the political scene of Poland in the early 1990s. A political arm founded in 1996 as Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) – a rather rightist or center-right party – won the parliamentary election in 1997, but lost the following 2001 election. Those were the years that Jerzy Buzek was Prime Minister 1997-2001.

In the 1980s Jerzy Buzek was an activist of the democratic anti-communist movements, including the legal (1980–1981 and since 1989) and underground (1981–1989) Solidarity trade union and political movement in communist Poland. He was an active organizer of the trade union’s regional and national underground authorities. He was also the chairman of the four national general meetings (1st, 4th, 5th and 6th) when the Solidarity movement was allowed to participate in the political process again.

Jerzy Buzek was a member of the Solidarity Electoral Action (Akcja Wyborcza Solidarnosc, AWS) and co-author of the AWS’s economic program. After the 1997 elections he was elected to the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish Parliament, and was soon appointed Prime Minister of Poland. In 1999 he became the chairman of the AWS Social Movement (Ruch Spoleczny AWS) and in 2001 he became the Chairman of the Solidarity Electoral Action coalition.

After losing the parliamentary elections in 2001, he stepped back from Polish political life (although he was elected a member of the European Parliament in 2004) and focused more on his scientific work, becoming the prorector of Akademia Polonijna in Czestochowa and professor in the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of the Opole University of Technology in Opole.

Buzek was elected to the European Parliament (MEP) from the Silesian Voivodeship, basing his candidacy only on the popularity of his name and on direct contact with the voters. He received a record number of votes, 173,389 (22.14% of the total votes in the region). His current party affiliation is with the Platforma Obywatelska, the governing party in Poland, which is a member of the European People’s Party – rather to the right in the European Parliament.

On 7 June 2009, in the European Parliament election,  Buzek was re-elected as a Member of the European Parliament from the Silesian Voivodeship constituency. Just as in the previous election, Buzek received a record number of votes in Poland: 393,117 (over 42% of the total votes in the district).

In the 2004-2009 European Parliament, he was a member of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, an alternate member of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, a member of the Delegation to the EU–Ukraine Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, and an alternate delegate for the delegation for relations with the countries of Central America. He served as rapporteur on the EU’s 7th Framework Programme for Research and Development, a multi-billion euro spending programme for the years 2007-2013.

On 14 July 2009, Buzek was elected President of the European Parliament with 555 votes, becoming the first person from the former Eastern Bloc and the first former Prime Minister since Emilio Colombo to gain that position. He succeeded the German Christian Democrat MEP, Hans-Gert Pöttering. He has pledged to make human rights and the promotion of the Eastern partnership two of his priorities during his term of office, which will last two and a half years until, due to a political deal, Social Democrat MEP Martin Schulz will take over.

At the meeting at Columbia University President Buzek said that we are in a time of transition period in the EU – going from treaty to treaty and enlargement. What does this mean for Europe and the US after Lisbon ? – and he will thus read from a prepared paper that said – A STRENGTHENING EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT IN THE TRANSATLANTIC PARTNERSHIP.

How does the EU work? – he asked. And proceeded explaining that it is in a rising curve of power in the last 25 years. We used to have a Council guided by a rotating Presidency and now we moved further on with Lisbon. To his credit, he sounded self-deprecating when mentioning that actually there will be now several Presidents. This because Lisbon still left intact that half-year-long rotating structure.

The EU Council is a system of Collective President. Europe 2020 is the project of how to learn to organize ourselves. There is still need for progress in the EU political system.

Will ever the collection of 27 proud Independent States really agree to give up some of their sovereignty to a Central Government? Will the Council agree to be a Senate to the Parliament’s House of Representatives?  How indeed can the US find its way across the Ocean and form a bridge with a body that has Three Presidents? THAT IS THE REAL QUESTION – and progress via just a strengthened Parliament will not do.

Nevertheless, Mr. Buzek pointed out that the European Supra-National level has been strengthened by doing away with the previous requirement of unanimity that is reduced now to a qualified majority. The inter-governmental contact at head of state level still exists – but it is less.

Passing on to the issue of Foreign Policy – with problems that are today global, there is the “Baroness” – Baroness Catherine Ashton or Lady Ashton – just one person now at the EU. She is a member of the Council and the Commission bringing thus one person to the position of power and the responsibility to deal in Foreign issues – and that is the point – unless the West is united – we will not be able to defend our interests in multilateralism at G8 or G20 etc institutions.

Then he digressed by saying that Transatlantic Community is not enough anymore – we need partners all over the world for a united purpose in democracy and civilization. He quoted by name an interesting  list of countries  – that we give here in the order he said them – Russia, China, India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, South Africa – that have to become stakeholders in the new order – they must have a sense of owner on issues like climate change. Everyone must feel that they are responsible.

Then back to the topic – on the Transatlantic economic Council – we must have a more ambitious program.

There is already freedom of flow of products, goods, capital, people in Europe – the four freedoms we have – transatlantic markets could build on these great success stories he said. The business community looks at the 800 million citizens of the Common Market in Europe. We must think of this common space of the Community.

Then came the Q & A:

Q: One big difference is that the US Congress spends 25% of the GDP but the European Parliament only 1.5% – will the Common Agriculture policy (the CAP) be decided bythe Parliament or the council?

A: The answer is not about money but on the organization. Money and budget are not important but the “community.” Two World Wars were started in Europe and we have to change. We like diversity in language – we have 23 – you have one. We say it is our strength – “Unity in Diversity.” We have buses that leave the Parliament to the regions every weekend. They come back with ideas from home. We will have a European Energy Efficiency new Policy.

The Consul-General from Austria – Ambassador Peter Brezovszky, who was Consul-General in Krakow at the time Mr. Buzek was Prime-Minster,  asked about the priorities – in democracy, on enlargement and what can the Parliament do to support parliaments in other Nations.

As Europe does not pass the budget through the Parliament such activities are more limited, but he had interaction with his meetings in Washington  (actually that was his main reason for coming to the States and I will be attaching more material on this) he had a meeting with Nancy Pelosi to develop the Transatlantic Parliamentary partnership.

There are the European Energy Community, the European External Action Service, The European Human Rights activities.

Next step in enlargement will probably involve Croatia and Iceland. He said that Iceland being located right in the middle between the US and Europe, had a hard time in deciding where they belong, but then Croatia and Turkey have problems that stem from ethnic conflicts – Croatia because of what goes on with the Serb minority and Turkey because of Cyprus. There is the Non-Visa regime and then the further potential of Bosnia-Hezegowina, Montenegro under some name, and Albania.

Mr. Buzek further evaluated European recent history in periods – the 1950-1960s as French-German reconciliation. then came the 1980-1990s as German-Polish reconciliation. Now we need not only Polish-Russian reconciliation that might have been made easier because of the dignified way Russia reacted  after the terrible  recent air accident, but also the reconciliation with further border neighbors. The real problem is what happened in Katyn 70 years ago.

Asked about an EU constitution, the President said – look  the UK is doing fine and also has no constitution.

——

These questions went on for an hour and Greece was not mentioned – this until someone observed the gap and said so!

Mr. Buzek said two words; SOLIDARITY and RESPONSIBILITY. We wish him luck and that this does the trick.

—–

As we said earlier, we found out that the reason for The EU Parliament President’s trip to the US was his opening a Washington liaison office for the Parliament with US Congress. This is the first office of the EU Parliament outside Europe. That was April 29, 2010. We have what was said there and the follow up speech at the Johns Hopkins University.

Also, the timing of this trip falls coincidentally when the EU is very much in the cross-hairs of the world economy because of the failure of Greece, the potential failure of Spain and Portugal, the danger to the EURO and what amounts – not to a strengthening of the EU, but rather to the unraveling of a system that created a common currency without having first secured a common policy. It is just inconceivable that voters in Germany can accept that their country pays tens of billions to save the people in Greece who enjoy much lower tax rates and get much better social conditions.

The same voters will not think that much of the Greek debt is actually owned by German Banks, while much of the losses of German banks came on because of a lack of regulation that did not stop them from buying low grade financial products that were inspired by the Wall Street self-enrichment gurus. Yes – we know – much of the global financial problem originated in the US, but then the EU had its own internal structure faults that created imbalances that were just as easy – foreseeable.

As Fareed Zakaria pointed out on CNN today the German voters talk of why they have to work for 45 years before being entitled to retire with a 46% pay, while a Greek worker gets 80% of his pay after only 35 years of employment. While the Greeks demonstrate now that they do not want a cut in their social conditions, the Germans by a majority of 92% say they will not let their leaders bail-out the Greeks. Is this leading to a call for the expulsion of Greece from the EU? The elimination of Greece from the EURO Club? The bailout by their own governments of German and French banks hurt by these debacles? Is it the end of the easy EU? Or are we moving into a stronger union where the member States give up some more of their independence?

All this shows that after all – the European Problematique has to do with money because they have not yet created the structure that some day may bring the EU into the China-US G2 league as a third partner to turn it into a G-3. Until then, we fear, the days of Transatlantic talk are over.

—————–

www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126436512&ft=1&f=1004

Crisis In Greece Puts E.U. At Risk

May 1, 2010

Greece’s debt woes aren’t all that’s plaguing the European economy. Spain and Portugal have also seen downgrades in their credit ratings, and the response by the European Union to the crisis is being watched around the world. Host Scott Simon speaks with Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament, about the financial crisis in Europe.

National Public Radio.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

We’re joined now by Jerzy Buzek, the president of the European Parliament. He’s at the European Union’s delegation to the United Nations office in New York. President Buzek, thanks very much for being with us.

Mr. JERZY BUZEK (President, European Parliament): Thank you for the invitation for this interview.

SIMON: You going to bail out Greece?

Mr. BUZEK: Yes. It will be a response as usual in the European Union. Solidarity is our main slogan in the European Union for last six years. And I’m confident that the decision will be taken during next days.

SIMON: I’ve read some opinion this week that suggests this was exactly what some people worried about with the euro, that thered economic problems in one, two or three countries and you couldn’t contain them because, of course, you had a common currency. And now you have Greece’s problems dragging in the rest of the eurozone. How do you address that concern?

Mr. BUZEK: First of all, we must say that we’re at the beginning of the process of organizing our eurozone. It’s less than 10 years yet, so it’s not so easy. On the other hand, we have very deep crisis all over the world. So, it’s nothing unusual is that also some countries from the eurozone are affected by the crisis. And I’m quite sure we can manage.

SIMON: But do you also, for example, in this case have countries with very different approaches to debt and spending? Say, between Greece and Germany.

Mr. BUZEK: Yeah, it’s also obvious because we are saying in the European Union that we, of course, base our community on solidarity. But responsibility every separate member state is also very important.

SIMON: May I ask, Mr. President, did the member states of the eurozone do a good enough job in checking out the Greek economy before they joined in 2002?

Mr. BUZEK: It must be checked maybe once again by the European Commission. I wouldn’t like to say anything about that being representative of European Parliament because it was not our responsibility. It will be not our responsibility in the future as well. But of course, as members of European Parliament, we are very, very interested in everything what is connected with the recovery from crisis, exit programs, and also about Greek’s crisis.

SIMON: So assuming a bailout for Greece, you think that that will have the effect of improving other particularly plagued economies in, let’s say, Spain, Portugal and Ireland, and that means they would be less likely to have to ever request a bailout?

Mr. BUZEK: I’m optimistic because if we solve, and I’m sure we will solve the problem of Greece, it will be much easier in other countries. I know very well. I talked to Mr. Prime Minister Papandreou a few weeks ago and they prepared a very tough, difficult program for Greece. It will be not easy, but if you start working, it would be great progress in Greece economy and then will be no danger for the whole eurozone.

SIMON: Jerzy Buzek, who’s president of the European Parliament, joining us from New York. Mr. President, thanks so much.

Mr. BUZEK: Thank you much.

———————————————————————–

Press Releases

Buzek to open the European Parliament Liaison Office with US Congress
Washington DC – Thursday, April 29, 2010

On Thursday 29 April European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek will formally open the European Parliament’s new Liaison Office with the US Congress, designed to help forge closer links between European parliamentarians and lawmakers on Capitol Hill.  The Liaison Office is the first office of the European Parliament in a country outside the EU.

The office will be opened by President Buzek at midday (US, East Coast time) on Thursday.

EP President Jerzy Buzek said:

“We have many ideas for deepening our relations.  The main purpose of the office is to build a much closer partnership between the European Parliament and Congress as the European Parliament is more powerful after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty.

The EU and the US need to be more coherent and well informed on legislation and political activity.  If we work together in advance of legislation we can improve the outcome for citizens and business in a huge transatlantic market.

Together, we must face the challenges that confront us across the Atlantic, from climate change to energy security, from maintaining free trade to improving global governance.”

Background

EP President Buzek has been in Washington since Monday for key meetings with the US administration including Vice-President Biden, Secretary of State Clinton and Speaker Pelosi.  President Buzek and will travel to New York for meetings at the UN, including with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon which will take place on Friday 30 April.

* * *

The Director of the new European Parliament Liaison Office with the US Congress is Piotr Nowina-Konopka, Ph.D.

Tel +1 202 862 4731
Cell +1 202 431 9433

Office details:
2175 K Street, NW
Washington DC 20037, USA

 www.europarl.europa.eu/us/ – website of the EP – Congress Liaison Office

For further information:
Inga Rosi?ska, Spokeswoman
Mobile: +32 (0)498 981 354
Richard Freedman, Press Officer
Mobile:+32 (0) 498 98 32 39

—————————————–

Press Releases

Buzek to open the European Parliament Liaison Office with US Congress
Washington DC – Thursday, April 29, 2010
On Thursday 29 April European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek will formally open the European Parliament’s new Liaison Office with the US Congress, designed to help forge closer links between European parliamentarians and lawmakers on Capitol Hill.  The Liaison Office is the first office of the European Parliament in a country outside the EU. The office will be opened by President Buzek at midday (US, East Coast time) on Thursday.

EP President Jerzy Buzek said:

“We have many ideas for deepening our relations.  The main purpose of the office is to build a much closer partnership between the European Parliament and Congress as the European Parliament is more powerful after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty.

The EU and the US need to be more coherent and well informed on legislation and political activity.  If we work together in advance of legislation we can improve the outcome for citizens and business in a huge transatlantic market.

Together, we must face the challenges that confront us across the Atlantic, from climate change to energy security, from maintaining free trade to improving global governance.”

Background

EP President Buzek has been in Washington since Monday for key meetings with the US administration including Vice-President Biden, Secretary of State Clinton and Speaker Pelosi.  President Buzek and will travel to New York for meetings at the UN, including with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon which will take place on Friday 30 April.

* * *
Notes to Editors:

The Director of the new European Parliament Liaison Office with the US Congress is Piotr Nowina-Konopka, Ph.D.

Tel +1 202 862 4731
Cell +1 202 431 9433

Office details:
2175 K Street, NW
Washington DC 20037, USA

 www.europarl.europa.eu/us/ – website of the EP – Congress Liaison Office

* * *

For further information:
Inga Rosi?ska, Spokeswoman
Mobile: +32 (0)498 981 354
Richard Freedman, Press Officer
Mobile:+32 (0) 498 98 32 39

— — —

President Buzek on “The New European Parliament: Politics and Power in Today’s European Union” at the School of Advanced International Studies – Johns Hopkins University
Washington DC – Thursday, April 29, 2010

Dear Students,
Dear Professors,
Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I am delighted to be able to address you today. As a professor myself, I always feel at home when I come to a university. My passion has always been knowledge and passing on knowledge to the next generation, my activity in politics only came later on in life.

I grew up in a system where art was censored, where history was falsified, and where politics had only one colour. This is why I chose the hard sciences and not political science – because even the Communists had to accept that ‘one plus one equals two’.

Or at least they accepted that most of the time!

Dear Friends,

I would like to make a few remarks about the political system in the European Union, following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, and what that Treaty means for both Europe and the United States.

I will keep my talk fairly short. After that, I would be delighted to take questions or comments. I would be especially interested to hear your own views on these issues.

=European Parliament=

First, let me say a word about the European Parliament, which I now have the honour to chair. The Parliament has been on a rising curve of power over the last quarter century. The Lisbon Treaty takes that power to a new level.

Already in most of the routine areas of law-making – like the single market, transport, the environment, employment, development policy, and intellectual property – the Parliament has been co-equal with the Council of Ministers for many years. It has long enjoyed a right of veto over EU law – first introduced by the Maastricht Treaty 17 years ago.

However, now with the Lisbon Treaty, we move a step further. We are co-equal with the Council in law-making on agriculture and fisheries, international trade policy, and justice and home affairs. Nearly all international agreements, including all trade agreements, now need the Parliament’s explicit approval. We have a right of veto. We have already seen the implications of that on final data transfer (SWIFT or TFTP).

In effect, like in the United States, we now have lower and an upper chamber – the European Parliament and the Council – in a single, bicameral legislature.

=EU Political System=

In parallel, things have changed on the executive side. The meetings of heads of state and government – the European Council – have been split off to become a separate, formal institution, chaired by Herman Van Rompuy. This body gives overall guidance to the Union, setting the big, long-term priorities for the Union. The European Commission remains the administration, with the special right to propose legislation.

Simply stated, the Council of Ministers is now the counterpart to the European Parliament, as Europe’s legislative and budgetary authority. The Commission and the European Council jointly form the executive.

In this system, the member states still remain very important, but the European level – the supranational level – has been strengthened and the exercise of power is shaped more than ever by the ‘Community method’.

Now qualified majority voting, not unanimity, is the norm in the Council of Ministers. Now co-decision between the Council and Parliament is the norm.

The ‘intergovernmental method’ still has its place, but in a smaller sphere – in decision-making on foreign and security policy, the financial resources of the Union, and some aspects of monetary union.

=Foreign Policy Structures=

We have also put in place new arrangements in the field of foreign policy. We have a new High Representative, also Vice President of the Commission – Baroness Cathy Ashton. She chairs the Foreign Affairs Council and is a member of the European Council: she is thus the only EU person officially in three institutions – the Commission, the Council of Ministers and the European Council.

The external departments of the Commission and Council will be merged into a new European External Action Service. This will give the EU a more coherent structure for developing and implementing foreign policy – and present a more united face to our partners and allies around the world.

=Transatlantic Perspectives=

Dear Friends,

So we have a new design to the political system of the European Union. The Lisbon Treaty should help Europe better coordinate its policies both internally and externally, and to develop a better way of dealing with the rest of the world.

Critical to our success is the Transatlantic Partnership.
We need each other more than ever before. Neither of us is big enough in today’s global world is achieve our goals on our own.

In this second decade of the 21st century, the relative power of both Europe and the United States – and the rest of the West – is already decreasing.

By the year 2025, OECD countries are expected produce only 40% of the world’s output, compared to well over half at the moment. Asia’s share will increase to 38%, practically on a par with that of the OECD.

The rise of China, India and other new players makes this clear to Europe. In the United States, over the last decade, you have discovered the limits of American power.

How are we to respond? Together, I believe, that we need to take the lead in building and shaping a new form of global governance. I have always liked how my friend Bob Zoellick has put it – that we need to ‘modernise multilateralism’.

The hard truth is that unless the West is united, we will lose the ability to defend and advance our interests and values. If we are united, we can help define international responses, in the G8 or WTO or elsewhere.

Of course, we will not be able to solve all major international challenges on our own. We will need to cooperate – and should want to cooperate – with a range of new partners around the world. Our interdependence can and should make us stronger.

We need to use the Euro-Atlantic partnership to change the way global governance functions. The United States and Europe should play a key leadership role in defining the principles and structures of this new multipolar and multilateral world.

In such a world, America and Europe should still serve as an axis of global stability and enlightened values. I believe we need to use this partnership to put in place the right policies and the right institutions on a world-wide scale.

We all know the difficult challenges we face today – economic insecurity, energy independence, climate change, migration, money-laundering, piracy, and of course terrorism. Common action on these fronts is essential. And in addressing these issues, we will need to find ways of bringing on board, in different ways, Russia, China, India, Brazil and the other new regional powers.

They have to become stakeholders in the new world order, or disorder – so that they can expect to have a genuine sense of ownership in the way policy is set.

The time to do this is now, whilst Europe and America are still powerful enough to make a difference. If we fail, the 21st century will be a century of insecurity and instability for all of us.

Dear Colleagues,

Our transatlantic relationship is already very strong – we have the biggest trade and investment flows in the world. We share the same values – and very many of our interests are the same.

We do have some issues on specific areas of legislation and regulation. You all know the cases – Boeing vs Airbus; Chlorinated Chicken; the REACH directive and recently SWIFT.

We can address those in the Transatlantic Economic Council, but I think we should think bigger than that. We need to set ourselves a more ambitious challenge for the 21st century.

In ten years time let us implement a genuine transatlantic single market, based on the four freedoms which already exist in Europe – the free movement of goods, services, capital and (yes) people.

I would add a fifth freedom, the free movement of knowledge across the Atlantic.

A transatlantic market could build on one of the European Union’s greatest success stories – the single market that we have building continuously for over 50 years.

Yesterday I addressed the US Chamber of Commerce and challenged the business community to put forward their ideas and proposals to achieve such a free market, to look at both sides of the Atlantic as one space of 800 million citizens.

Today I challenge you, the next generation of Americans, to think of a Euro-Atlantic community – a common space where you can live, work and study on either side of this inner sea which is the Atlantic Ocean. That may seem a dream, but our challenge is to change the context and create a new reality.

Next weekend – on 9th May – we will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the famous declaration in Paris by Robert Schuman that lead to the European Coal and Steel Community.

Jean Monnet, who wrote that declaration, once said that ‘everybody is ambitious. The question is whether he is ambitious to be or ambitious to do’.

The pooling of sovereignty over coal and steel, which at the time was the core of a nation’s industry, was an incredibly bold and ambitious project. The six countries that took part changed Europe’s face and Europe’s future.

Today, let us also be ambitious to do. Let us dream not just of a strong Transatlantic Partnership – let us create a genuine Transatlantic Community.

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

Europe unravels in a tangle of national interests.

By Philip Stephens

Published: April 29 2010

Pinn illustration

Watching the slow-motion train crash that is the Greek debt crisis invites the question as to whatever happened to European solidarity. Listening to politicians in Berlin explain that parsimonious German voters will not stomach a bail-out of their spendthrift continental cousins offers only half an answer.

There is more to the story than an angry collision between Greek profligacy and German moral superiority. Behind the proximate threat lies a more unsettling truth. The crisis is symptom as well as cause. For all its upheavals, there used to be something reassuringly ineluctable about the European Union. Now the enterprise is beginning to unravel.

Greece’s predicament, and the response of its eurozone partners, holds dangers on many levels: a sovereign default within the single currency; contagion as markets test the resilience of Portugal, Spain and Ireland; and a breakdown of the political trust and mutual support mechanisms on which the monetary union depends.

As my FT colleague Alan Beattie observed in a searing commentary earlier this week, recent events have underlined also the sheer incompetence of those charged with stewardship of the eurozone.

Given Angela Merkel’s central role, perhaps we should not have been surprised at the vacillation. Berlin’s stumbling response to the collapse of Lehman Brothers provided a template for the ineptitude that has again left the authorities playing catch-up with unforgiving markets.

Lest I am accused by my German friends of taking the side of the sinner against the sinned against, Ms Merkel has right on her side in saying that Athens must not be rewarded for disdaining its solemn obligations to its partners.

It is no use writing cheques unless Greece has a credible fiscal plan.

As Berlin should have learnt, however, there comes a point when finger-wagging becomes self-defeating. The price of righteousness turns out to be chaos; and chaos does not discriminate – as the German banks holding billions of euros of Greek sovereign debt well understand. We sometimes have to live with moral hazard.

More worrying is what all this tells us about the fundamental cohesion of the Union. Until quite recently if someone asked what the EU would look like, say, 20 years hence my reply was that its essential contours would be pretty much unchanged. Sure, my argument would have run, the guiding purpose had changed with the end of the cold war, the reunification of Germany and enlargement to central and eastern Europe. But a collection of middle-ranking powers with common borders, values and interests had sensibly concluded that they were better together than apart.

The rise of new powers – China, India, Brazil and the rest – presaged a much diminished role for Europe on the global stage. Proud nations such as France, Germany, Britain or Spain would not surrender their identities; but they would pursue their interests collectively. Maddening as it could often be, “Europe” would always be around.

That is what I used to think. Even now, I still believe the logic is compelling. Look at any problem touching the peoples of Europe – from crises in the international financial system to global warming, from terrorism and uncontrolled migration to a newly assertive Russia – and they tell the same story. Europeans must act together if they want to exert influence.

For all that, Europe no longer carries the stamp of inevitability. Quite suddenly, it has become almost as easy to foresee a future in which the Union fractures. The risk is not so much of a great rupture – though if Greece defaults the immediate shocks will be profound – but of the atrophy that flows from the absence of political leadership.

European governments still pay lip service to the logic of co-operation; they are no longer willing or able – sometimes both – to admit its implications. They know where their national, and the continent’s, strategic interests lie, but they lack the purpose to marry them.

Germany relishes instead the chance to become a “normal” country, separating what it sees as its national from the European interest. Helmut Kohl’s historical insights are forgotten in the insistence that German taxpayers should not be asked to remain the continent’s paymaster. So too are Berlin’s long-term interests in European-wide political stability and in open markets for its exports.

France struggles with the dynamics of a Union in which more Europe no longer necessarily means more France. Nicolas Sarkozy’s admirable energy is unconnected to strategic purpose. Britain, as ever, stands half on the sidelines. Italy, led by Silvio Berlusconi, has removed itself from influence.

There have been moments of stasis before. But the rules have changed. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism have turned an enterprise of necessity into one of choice. If the Union falls into disrepair everyone will still be the loser; but the threat no longer seems an existential one.

The EU has become a victim of one of the awkward paradoxes of globalisation. Even as it robs nation states of power, global interdependence increases the domestic pressure on national politicians to shelter voters from the insecurities of a borderless world.

The response of Europe’s politicians has been to sacrifice the strategic to the tactical. They boast that they can “reclaim” power from the EU – and promise they will not be pushed around by Brussels. This explains Ms Merkel’s Germany-first approach to the single currency; and the reluctance of other leaders to match pieties about Europe’s role in the world with anything resembling common policies.

There is nothing strange or wrong about politicians pursuing national interests. That is what they are paid for. The problem for the EU is that governments now see this as a zero-sum game.

During the era of postwar reconciliation and the cold war the coincidence of national and European interests spoke for itself. Europe’s waning influence in a world no longer owned by the west means that the convergence is as powerful as it has ever been. But without the threat of war or invasion, it is harder to identify. It requires leaders of stature to make a case to their electorates. Look around the continent and there are no such politicians in sight.

philip.stephens@ft.com

More columns at www.ft.com/philipstephens

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

Speech by Professor Jerzy Buzek,President of the European Parliament,Columbia University, New York City
New York – Friday, April 30, 2010

Dear Professors,
Dear Students,
Excellencies,
Dear Friends,

When I look back upon my life I sometimes have to remind myself of the journey we in Central and Eastern Europe took to get here.

As some of you may know my true vocation has always been that of a scientist and academic. I am an Engineer not a political scientist. The science of politics came later in life but my passion has always been knowledge and passing on knowledge to the next generation.

I grew up in a system where art was censored, where history was falsified, and politics had only one colour. I chose science, because even the Communists had to accept the iron discipline of mathematics.

One of your greatest Presidents, Abraham Lincoln, once said that “you can fool some of the people all the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time”.

The Communist regimes tried to fool all of the people all of the time, but they forgot that liberty, that justice, that human rights, that dignity and solidarity will always beat a lie.

With the entrance of ten new member states to the European Union in 2004 and Romania and Bulgaria in 2007, we have reunited our continent, but more importantly we have reconciled our continent.

Today, we live in a different European Union, one where the President of the European Parliament is from a country that not long ago would imprison me for speaking to you freely, and would probably not give me a passport to come to Columbia University!

Dear Friends,
Over a year into the new Obama administration and now that the new European Parliament, Commission and other office-holders are in place, I think that this is a good moment to reflect on our Euro-Atlantic partnership.

First, let me say a word about the European Parliament. We have been on a rising curve of power over the last quarter century. The new Lisbon Treaty takes that power to the next level.

Already, in most of the routine areas of law-making – such as transport, the environment, employment, the single market, development, intellectual property – the European Parliament has been co-equal with the Council of Ministers for many years. It has long enjoyed a right of veto over EU law.

Now, with Lisbon, we are also co-equal with the Council in agriculture, international trade, and justice and home affairs. Nearly all international agreements, including all trade agreements, now need the Parliament’s approval. We already saw the implications of that on SWIFT which the European Parliament rejected in February.

In effect, like in the United States, we now have an upper chamber and a lower chamber – the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament – in a single legislative system.

Dear Colleagues,
So now that we have an enlarged European Union with a new design to its political system, what are we to use this power in Europe – and your power in the United States – to achieve?

The Lisbon Treaty will help Europe better coordinate its policies both internally and externally – and we hope, help both of us to develop a new way of dealing with the rest of the world.

I believe that together we need a new form of global governance. We need to ‘modernise multilaterism’ – as my friend Bob Zoellick has put it. This is something I have said over the past couple of days in Washington.

In this second decade of the 21st century, the relative power of both Europe and the United States – and the rest of the West – is already decreasing. By the year 2025, OECD countries will produce only 40% of the world’s wealth, as compared to 55% in 2000. Asia’s share will increase to 38%, practically on a par with that of the OECD.

The hard truth is that unless the West is united, we will lose the ability to defend our interests and values. Even then, we will no longer be able to solve major international challenges on our own.

We need to cooperate – with each other, but also with our partners around the world. Our interdependence can and should make us stronger and should not be seen as a threat but as an opportunity.

We need to use the Euro-Atlantic partnership to change the way global governance functions. The United States and Europe can and must take a leadership role in defining the principles and structures of this new multipolar, multilateral world.

We all know the difficult challenges we face today – economic insecurity, energy independence, climate change, migration, terrorism. Common action on these fronts is essential.

And in addressing these issues, we need to find ways of bringing on board Russia, China, India, Brazil and the other new regional powers. They must have a sense of ownership since they too are stakeholders in this world’s governance.

I often use the small example of combating piracy in the Gulf of Aden. For the first time, Chinese war ships operate next to Russian, American, European and South Korean vessels. Why?

Because these pirates are a threat to the 30 000 ships which sail through this passage. Ships which are bound for Europe, and Asia.

But in such a world, America and Europe must still serve as an axis of global stability and enlightened values. We are home to the world’s most successful democracies. I believe we need to use this partnership to put in place the right policies and the right institutions on a global scale.

We represent 60% of the world’s GDP. If we have the right policies, the rest will follow. If we fail to work together the 21st century will be a century of insecurity and instability for all of us.

I believe fundamentally that the EU’s unique model of sharing sovereignty – of promoting common solidarity and common responsibility – is working well and can be a model for the rest of the world.

Dear Colleagues,
But we have to think bigger than that.

Next week is the 60th Anniversary of the Schuman Declaration, when six countries pooled sovereignty over coal and steel, making war between them virtually impossible and laying the foundation of today’s EU.

Schuman said that ‘Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity”  He was right.
.
We also need concrete achievements for our Euro-Atlantic relationship. It is time for us to think of creating a true transatlantic free market, so that the Atlantic Ocean becomes an inner sea, a mare nostrum, between America and Europe.

Our trade relations are already 95% problem free, we respect each others regulations, customs and laws. Our legislators and our executives talk and negotiate with each other non-stop.

It is time to create a space of freedom so that 800 million people can benefit from our relationship. An area based on the four freedoms we have in Europe – free movement of people, goods, services and capital.

I am convinced that this should be the next step in the evolution of our partnership. It is a dream, but it is up to you, the next generation of Europeans and Americans to make it a reality.

Thank you for your attention.

 www.ep-president.eu/president/vie…

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 24th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

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

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

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

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

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

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

ANDREW WILLIS

23.04.2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next steps?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Further on Greece:

 www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/con…

 www.nytimes.com/2010/04/24/opinio…

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New York Times Editorial

Greece and Who’s Next?

Published: April 23, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 www.ft.com/cms/s/0/3d5c4cea-4e6e-…

Fall of Belgium coalition threatens its Brussels chair role.

By Stanley Pignal in Brussels, The Financial Times

Published: April 23 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 20th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

At the UN a good journalist, not the ever-wish of the UN – the kind that just reports on the UN Press releases, can have fun indeed and throw some light on what goes on in the world.

We bring here the essence of the EU charade as seen by Matthew Russell Lee in his reporting of March 18 and February 4, 2010.

Matthew looks at the personal involvements of the IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn who might run against President Sarcozy – thus making an internal rivalry of France into one of the centrifugal powers active in the EU. So it is this rather then a German – French rivalry that puts in motion the threat of IMF undoing the EU with its involvement in the crisis named Greece. Could you imagine California going to the IMF, or as a matter of fact, Rhode Island or even Puerto Rico?

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With Euro Tanking On Reports of Greece Turning to IMF, of Half Answers, on Dodd Bill and Sri Lanka

By Matthew Russell Lee, UNITED NATIONS, March 18, updated.


Strauss-Kahn, ready to “intervene” in Greece, could leave IMF – “hypothetically”

As Angela Merkel speaks darkly about ejecting from the Euro zone non compliant countries like Greece, that country’s renewed threat of turning for help to the International Monetary Fund has the market selling off the Euro.

Near the end of the IMF’s fortnightly press briefing on Thursday morning, spokesperson Caroline Atkinson, beyond saying the IMF has not had a request for financial assistance, declined to describe various aspects of Greece’s relations with the IMF. Her boss, Dominique Strauss Kahn, previously bragged that the IMF would “intervene” in Greece upon request.

France’s finance minister Lagarde, belatedly added to the UN’s climate finance group after Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was confronted with the fact he’d named men to all 19 positions on the panel, has said the EU can still be Greece’s interlocutor and helper, not the IMF.

Her president Sarkozy has a personal motive to oppose IMF help to Greece: Strauss Kahn is polling ahead of him for the next French election.

Inner City Press submitted to the IMF during its briefing, but without answer yet, questions about financial reform and the Fund’s apparently stalled consideration of a third tranche to Sri Lanka. It was mostly Greece on Thursday, with few answers from the IMF.

Update: later these two answers came in from the IMF:

Re Senator Dodd’s bill, overall, we support the thrust toward comprehensive reforms that would address the gaps in financial regulation illustrated by the crisis. Strong and prompt implementation would both help to secure financial stability going forward.

Re Sri Lanka, not much update. As you know, staff will visit Colombo after the parliamentary elections and the formation of the new cabinet, to discuss with the government its plan for a 2010 budget.

Best regards,
Yoshiko Kamata
Media Relations, IMF

* * *

IMF’s Strauss-Kahn Coy on Opposing Sarkozy and Intervening in Greece, IMF and Greek Denials, Yemen Deferrals

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 4, updated — The managing director of the International Monetary Fund Dominique Strauss-Kahn bragged Thursday to radio station RTL in his native France that he might leave the IMF early — and perhaps challenge Nicolas Sarkozy for the French presidency — and that if asked by Greece, the IMF could “intervene” in the country.

Questions about both comments were dodged later on Thursday by the spokesperson for Strauss-Kahn and the IMF, Caroline Atkinson. Strauss-Kahn is quoted that “As it stands… I am planning to see out my mandate. But if you ask me whether in certain circumstances I could reconsider this question, the answer is yes, I could reconsider this question.”

This is consciously leaving open the door to reconsider and leave. But Ms. Aktinson emphasized only his “planning to see out my mandate” and called everything else “hypothetical.”

On Greece, Strauss-Kahn said regally, “I have a mission on the ground to provide technical advice requested by the Greek government. And if we’re asked to intervene, we will.” He added, “I understand that the Europeans don’t want this for the moment.”

Inner City Press on Thursday morning asked Dimitris Droutsas, Alternate Foreign Minister of Greece, to describe his government’s thinking about IMF help. Mr. Droutsas responded on the record, “Categorically may I state, any idea of the IMF… there is no idea about that.”

Still, at Thursday’s IMF biweekly briefing, Ms. Aktinson emphasized the “the IMF” — not just Strauss-Kahn — “had a technical team in Athens because the Greeks are very interested in getting any help from us on the technical implementation of the plan.”

Later on February 4 Droutsas told Inner City Press, on camera, that he was unaware of any IMF team having been in Athens. Video here, last question. One wag wondered, has the IMF become like the CIA, or Xe / Blackwater, whose presence is alleged and denied?

But the IMF under Strauss-Kahn brags about being present. As with the wider UN, the rush to be relevant.

It was surprising, then, that when Inner City Press asked Ms. Aktinson about Yemen — using as the lead in a quote by UK Foreign Secretary (Ivan Lewis) that “we address the economic problems that face Yemen, especially through the IMF program” — Ms. Atkinson said she didn’t have information about Yemen and would have to respond later to Inner City Press. But as February 4 hit midnight, no information was provided. Yemen is in the news, and one would expect the omnipresent Strauss-Kahn to be all over it. We’ll see.

Ms. Atkinson gave a pro-IMF spin in responding to Inner City Press’ question about the IMF’s new loan to Haiti, but we’ll be writing about that later, along with the IMF’s Yemen response.

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Top EU officials push for agreement on Greek aid next week

ANDREW WILLIS

19.03.2010

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – Two of the European Union’s most senior officials have called on member states to agree on a financial aid plan for Greece when they meet in Brussels for a summit next week.

It is essential that when we deal with a euro area country there is a European lead and a European responsibility,” EU economy commissioner Olli Rehn said at a conference in Brussels on Friday (19 March).

“It is important that the EU in the course of next week comes to a more specific conclusion, specific political conclusion about the European framework for co-ordinated and conditional action, if needed and required,” he told journalists afterwards.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso appears set to go further on Saturday, indicating the EU is ready to provide financial aid to Greece if it is requested, according to a leaked transcript of an interview with French radio, seen by Dow Jones Newswires. And despite recent suggestions that Germany is moving against the idea, Mr Barroso is set to include aid from Berlin in the potential package.

“Germany is ready in case Greece needs it, and so far Greece has not asked for financial support,” the commission president will tell radio channel France 24, according to the document.

All sides stress however that full implementation of the austerity measures announced by Athens in recent weeks is the best means to bring the country’s borrowing costs down.

Roughly €20 billion in Greek bonds are due to mature before the end of May, with Athens indicating its unwillingness to keep offering highly expensive interest rates that threaten to create future refinancing problems down the line.

In the interview transcript however, Mr Barroso does not exclude the possibility of a financing role for the IMF, insisting there would be no shame in this for Europe.

“What I want to remind is that Greece and all the member states of the EU are members of the IMF … EU member states are by far the biggest source of revenue for the IMF,” says the text.

“So it’s not a question of prestige. It’s a question of seeing what is the best way to respond to the situation,” he is set to say.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 22nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Saturday, February 20, 2010, Funchal and most of the the Portuguese holiday island of Madeira was hurt by torrential rains that caused massive floods and mud slides. Casualty numbers rose to at least 42 as search teams began digging for survivors and environmentalists blamed greed and overbuilding for the scale of the tragedy.

For full article:

 www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/feb…

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I also provide here a link to “Rediluvism as a distinct eco-faith.”

This is an effort to turn Global Warming into a flooding issue so it is easier understood by Climate Change Skeptics.
Official launch of our NEW FAITH  – Rediluvism – happened on 14 Feb 2010.

Please Join      cli.gs/REDIS        tr.im/REDIS
Pat Verma
follow me on twitter @cuddlendance

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 20th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The case of accession of Macedonia is no laughing matter. It is still unknown how Greece’s current financial and economic troubles will have an impact on the Macedonian name dispute. Athens is currently under tremendous pressure from big eurozone countries such as Germany and France to cut back spending and provide accurate data on its deficit, while facing unprecedented scrutiny by the European Commission.

Some diplomats suggest that this offers a window of opportunity for clearing the name dispute and should be seized, while others say that because of the painful economic measures, Athens will be even less inclined to compromise on the name issue, a matter of national pride.

But neither are some gestures from the government in Skopje of any help, such as naming the airport and a major highway after Alexander the Great, a king of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon – moves which prompted fierce criticism in Greece.

Brussels officials familiar with the matter say that if a solution is found, Macedonia’s membership could be coupled with Iceland’s, which has also applied to join the club. Their accession would happen after Croatia’s, which is the closest to EU membership at this stage.

“Once we open negotiations, people are in for a big surprise. Everybody thinks Iceland will have no problems in joining, but actually it is Macedonia who will be flying through the negotiating chapters. Apart from some classical problems with the judiciary and fight against corruption, Macedonia has harmonised its legislation and implemented a lot of EU requirements,” one EU source told this website.

As for Iceland, although it is part of the EU’s internal market, negotiations are likely to run into trouble over fisheries and other topics dear to the Nordic islanders. The current financial dispute with Great Britain and the Netherlands is also not looking good for the EU prospects of Reykjavik. And contrary to the situation with the Balkan country, some parts of the Icelandic political establishment are against EU membership.

For now, both Macedonian and Greek officials, despite the declared willingness to find a solution, have not yet inched closer to a result. The UN mediator on the issue, Matthew Nimetz, is due in Skopje next week. The UN is just the bigger international body to stir the EU soup.

OK, more important to us seems the Financial Times comment from Washington about “Baroso’s man goes to Washington.”

The comment is by Tony Barber who runs a Brussels blog and he addresses the EU appointment of Joao Vale de Almeida to be EU’s next Ambassador to the US.

The outgoing Ambassador is John Bruton who was a former Irish Prime Minister and well known to Congress and the White House when he got his appointment in 2004.

The incoming Ambassador is a Portuguese Eurocrat who worked for Mr. Baroso and is totally unknown to Washington. Indeed some in Washington have seen him as involved as a by-stander to the G8 and G20 meetings, but when faced with him, following the EU elected so called Permanent President and sort of Foreign Ministers, both of whom are totally unknown to Washington, all what they see as qualifications for Mr. Vale de Almeida is that for five years – 2004 – 2009 he was Chief of Staff for the EU Commission’s President Mr. Baroso – the non-permanent and non-rotating – third EU President – of that nebulous intractable – so called European Union – the symbol of its refusal to be united, even though he was the one that did in effect push for the Lisbon rules for creating that goal of a United Europe.

The laughs come up when the author of the note points out that the perception is reinforced by the fact that Baroso has engineered the Ambassadorial appointment for his man in advance of the newly being created EU foreign service under Dame Ashton – who will have her job as who chooses ambassadors.

OK, we hope the EU helps squeeze Greece into allowing its neighbors to chose their own names, and to squeeze Island of allowing its fish to be caught by Greek fishermen. The mess in Cyprus can then be left to the UN to handle that other tough issue and in the meantime – the EU of 27 will require from the world to be seen as an EU of 28 – with the EU itself being the added state that enlarges meeting tables with one more unproductive participant.

The sad thing is that the world needs an EU that amounts to the missing G3 with which China and the US can sit down at a small table before inviting over India, Brazil, South Africa, Turkey, Mexico, Japan, Australia, Russia . . . one or two more, and start looking at what is of highest importance for the future of the Planet – issues such as global warming and climate change.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 2nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The White House has said that the US President would not be attending what used to be the regularly scheduled EU-US talks, which have been planned to take place in Madrid in May 24-25, 2010 by the Spanish Rotating EU Presidency for the First half of 2010.

Honestly, why should he participate in the European Games while there are so many real problems on his plate?

The EU has three Presidents – if they cannot decide who is their President in fact – do they really expect for Obama to travel trans-Atlantic, and sit at Summits chaired by all three of them – Herman Van Rampuy, The Permanent EU President, Jose Manuel Baroso, the President of the European Commission, and the Spanish Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero,    who is presently the Rotating President of the EU?

Papers write of a “Snub.” This is ridiculous and for us who watched the Copenhagen Conference that was saved by President Obama under a G-2 arrangement with China, because he had to act fast if he wanted to save the meeting from itself, and there was no strong man or woman of the EU to stand at his side, the above “News” are old hat – and we say – we told you so!  Actually, we welcome Charles Forelle writes as “World News” in the Wall Street Journal of today: “Things haven’t been good recently for Europe’s position on the world stage. Despite the new treaty ambition to make the EU a bigger player, the bloc has sometimes seen itself shut out.  At climate talks in Copenhagen in December, Mr. Obama hammered out a last-minute accord with China and other emerging nations. The Europeans were left out of the picture.” This recognition of reality in a WSJ article is very unusual – but this is real life. If the EU does not get together – and still claims 7 seats at the G-20 – rather then one seat for real – they are turning themselves, by their own choice,  into world political irrelevancy. The same is true at the UN where we see more and more a 2 1/2 seats situation – with France and the UK in Security Council seats but Germany on practical UN Security Commissions, and no EU representative with any powers what so ever.

Obama’s decision not to go to Madrid is no snub to Mr. Zapatero or to Spain – but rather the cleareeded sign that he wants to go and meet the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED EUROPE. Had Obama decided to go to Masdrid it would have been as if someone from Europe would come to a meeting of the US Governor’s Association. Just think – Germany id California, France is New York, the UK is Texas, Spain is Florida, Poland is Illinois, Austria is Vermont … etc etc. Perhapse indeed Van Rampuy should come to the US Governor’s Association meeting in order to learn what is needed in order to create out of the EU the neededpartner for Obama in order to turn the G-2 into a G-3 and to create out of the G-20 a new meaningful global body.

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The best article on this we found is from The Telegtaph:
Barack Obama has snubbed the EU amid confusion in Washington over which “president” of Europe he would be expected to meet at a trans-Atlantic summit this spring.

By Bruno Waterfield in Brussels  – from Telegraph.com
Published:  01 Feb 2010 –

 www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnew…

The White House has said that Barack Obama will not be attending the EU-US talks planned to take place in Madrid in May.
The White House has said that the US President would not be attending the regularly scheduled EU-US talks, which have been planned to take place in Madrid in May 24-25, 2010 by the Spanish Rotating EU Presidency for the First half of 2010.

Honestly, why should he particioate in the European Games while there are so many real problems on his plate.
US officials have expressed frustration because the Lisbon Treaty, which was supposed to give the EU a single global voice, has created a number of European presidents competing for Washington’s attention.

Even the venue for the summit, Madrid or Brussels, has been “up in the air” after a tussle between Spain, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency and Herman Van Rompuy, the new created President of Europe.

Under the terms of the Lisbon Treaty, Mr Van Rompuy, President of the European Council which represents EU heads of government, should host the summit in Brussels as Europe’s lead negotiator in global bilateral talks.

But Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the Spanish prime minister, insisted that he should host the summit because the EU was in “transition” after the Lisbon Treaty entered into force in December.

A US official told the Wall Street Journal that President Obama had not yet received an a formal invitation to the EU-US summit, a twice yearly meeting that has taken place since 1991.

“We don’t even know if they’re going to have one. We’ve told them, ‘Figure it out and let us know’,” said the official.

Other American diplomats have blamed confusion over which of the three EU “presidents” is in charge of the summit – Mr Van Rompuy, Mr Zapatero or José Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president.

“Who attends from the US and at what point will depend on who’s calling the meeting,” said a US state department official.
“There’s a competition in Europe because you now have the standing EU architecture.”

Many national and EU diplomats are dismayed at the institutional infighting that has followed the entering into force of the Lisbon Treaty.

“The Spanish are behaving badly. They’ve made a mess of the summit but Van Rompuy and the post-Lisbon EU institutions will carry the can in the long term. The squabbling has damaged the EU in the eyes of the most powerful nation in the world,” said a senior source.

A European Commission spokesman hinted that the meeting would have to be downgraded or cancelled if Mr Obama did not show up.

“Normally a summit is a summit because it is attended by heads of state and government,” said the spokesman.

A Spanish foreign ministry spokesman said: “The EU-US summit is scheduled to take place in May in Madrid, as was foreseen and we are still preparing it.”

US officials have indicated that Mr Obama might reschedule talks with the EU in the wings of a Nato summit in Portugal this autumn.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 30th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Has Portugal Solved The Electric Car Problem?

Date: 31-Jul-09
Reuters from PORTUGAL
by Paul Ames

LAGOS – It’s a hot summer weekend and the parking lots around Lagos marina are filling quickly with the BMWs, Range Rovers and Porsche SUVs of the Portuguese yachting set.

The scene is repeated across the sun-splashed Algarve coast, but a new government plan could make the gas-guzzling race to the south coast a thing of the past.

Prime Minister Jose Socrates is seeking to make Portugal a European trendsetter in green transport. In June, he launched groundbreaking plans for a nationwide network of recharging stations that would allow battery driven electric automobiles to cruise the highways.

By 2011, Socrates’ Socialist administration wants 1,300 stations around the country where environment-friendly motorists can plug-in their electric cars as part of a drive to “liberate Portugal from its dependency on foreign oil.”

The first station in the Mobi-E network opened in Lisbon on July 23. A hundred are due to be up and running by the end of this year and 320 should be in place in 2010. In the meantime Renault-Nissan says that Portugal will be one of the first markets for the launch of its electric vehicles in 2011.

The charging network is part of a wider Portuguese plan to switch to green energy that involves investments in wind-turbines, solar panels and wave farms. The plan takes advantage of the country’s location on Europe’s sunny, but breezy, southwest tip.

Socrates’ motives are not purely ecological. Portugal has no domestic coal, natural gas or oil and has been forced to import most of its energy. By investing in renewables, Western Europe’s poorest nation is seeking to find cheaper energy alternatives for itself and to create a niche as an exporter of green technology.

Portugal already produces over one-third of its electricity from renewable sources, double the average of the 27 European Union nations. Socrates says the proportion will rise to 45 percent by 2010.

Near the southern town of Moura, Portugal has built one of the world’s biggest photovoltaic power stations. The world’s first commercial wave farm began producing electricity from the coast of northern Portugal last year. Hill tops and cliffs around the nation are covered by giant wind turbines, many operated by the power company EDP, Portugal’s lead electricity supplier that has emerged as a world leader in wind technology.

“Portugal is a global leader in renewable energy. The next step is to make Portugal a pioneer in zero emission mobility,” Socrates said announcing the decision to create a web of recharging sites in gas stations, shopping malls, hotels, airports and parking lots.

Socrates hopes the state investment will encourage vehicle manufacturers to locate new production facilities in his country, which has been hit hard by the global recession.

On July 20, Renault-Nissan announced it will build a new 250 million euro ($355 million) plant in Portugal to produce 60,000 lithium-ion batteries a year for electric cars.

The Franco-Japanese alliance has also agreed to make Portugal one of a number of pilot markets for the roll out of electric cars over the next few years, along with Denmark and Israel. The first vehicles should be on the Portuguese market within the next two years.

Although the early Renault-Nissan models will be made in France and Japan, Portugal is hoping the battery plant and recharging network will be stepping stones to a much greater investment in car manufacturing in Portugal.

The cooperation between Portugal and Renault-Nissan aims to overcome the chicken-and-egg dilemma that has long dogged electric car projects.

Manufacturers have been reluctant to invest in mass production of battery-powered vehicles without guarantees that customers will have a recharging network. At the same time, governments and power companies have been wary of investing in the networks when the cars are not on the market.

To kick start the battery car market, the Portuguese government says it will give the first 5,000 buyers a 5,000 euro ($7,100) reduction on the price of their battery-powered car, plus tax breaks for companies that turn to electric for their fleets. Setting an example, the authorities say 20 percent of all new public vehicles will be battery-run by 2011.

The first phase of the government’s plan will set up recharging sites in 21 cities. Customers are expected to be offered a range of charging options from a cheaper six- to eight-hour recharge, to an express deal lasting less than 30 minutes. Drivers will be able to pay using a pre-paid charge card. No announcements have been made about the price of recharging.

The first generation of mass-produced electric vehicles are expected to have a range of 160 kilometers (100 miles) before needing a recharge, meaning they are more suited to urban driving than long-distance trips.

However, according to government estimates, Portugal could have 180,000 electric autos on the roads by 2020. The network of recharging stations could have expanded to 25,000 by then, it says. EDP, a partners in the project, estimates the recharging market could be worth up to 2 billion euros ($2.8 billion) by then.

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