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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 8th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

ALDE – Distribution: immediate – July 8, 2009, 11:04 am
Watson to withdraw to give Buzek a clear mandate of support

Former ALDE Group Leader and EP Presidential candidate Graham Watson MEP today announced his intention to withdraw from the Presidential contest to give EPP candidate Jerzy Buzek a clear mandate of support from Parliament’s three major political families.

“The EU is mired in a crisis – economic, environmental and constitutional,” Mr Watson said; “and the three political families which founded our Union have decided to unite their forces to save it. The European Parliament is more divided than ever, with no stable majority possible. That is why I am withdrawing from the race to be President in support of a three-party agreement to save the EU.”

“Despite renouncing my plans for the Presidency of Parliament, I will continue to argue for a stronger and more effective Institution more focussed on the interests and concerns of the citizens and more engagement with national and regional parliaments.”

Note: Graham Watson MEP led the ELDR (later ALDE) Group in the EP for seven and a half years, two and a half years longer than any of his predecessors. He built the group from a membership of 46 MEPs in 2002 to a membership of 106 at its peak in 2008.

————

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 is a professor of technical science. He is also an honorary doctor of the universities in Seoul and Dortmund.
From 1997-2001 he was Prime Minister of Poland. In 1998 he became a laureate of the Grzegorz Palka Award, was nominated the European of the Year by the European Union Business Chambers Forum and Man of the Year of a Polish political weekly Wprost.
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 Częstochowa and professor in the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of the Opole University of Technology in Opole.

Jerzy Buzek comes from the well-known Buzek family, present in Polish politics since the 20 years of free Poland between the World Wars (World War I and World War II). His family comes from the Polish community in Zaolzie, a region of Cieszyn Silesia which is now part of the Czech Republic. He is a Protestant.
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 the communist Poland. He was 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 Solidarity was allowed to act legally.

In years 1997-2001 he was the prime minister of Poland, first of the right-centrist AWS-UW coalition government until 2001, and then of the rightist AWS minority government. His cabinet major achievements are 4 significant political and economic reforms: the new local government and administration division of Poland, reform of the pension schemes system, reform of the educational system and reform of the medical services system.

On 13 June 2004 Jerzy Buzek was elected Member of European Parliament from Silesian Voivodeship constituency, without printing of any posters, basing his election only on popularity of his name and on direct contact with the voters. He received the record number of votes in the whole Poland: 173,389 (22.14% of the total votes in this region).
His party is the Platforma Obywatelska which joined the European People’s Party and sits now on the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy.
Buzek is a substitute for the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety,
a member of the Delegation to the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Cooperation Committee and a substitute for the Delegation for relations with the countries of Central America.
On 7 June 2009 Buzek was reelected Member of European Parliament from Silesian Voivodeship constituency. Just as in the previous election, Buzek received the record number of votes in Poland: 393, 117 (over 42% of the total votes in the constuency).

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

The Original July 4, 2009 posting:

Will it be   Jose Manuel Barroso or Graham Watson at the helm of a strengthened EU?

Graham Watson MEP

225px-graham_watson_mepjpg.jpg
Leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Group

He is the candidate from ALDE to the left of The European Parliament to stand up as counter-candidate to Jose Manuel Barroso’s bid to become European Commission president for a second time.’s bid to become European Commission president for a second time.

It seems that the elections will now take place mid-September – under the Swedish Presidency of the EU.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 5th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

UNEP NEWS RELEASE

Three More Countries Say ‘Yes’ to Low-Carbon Future   On World Environment
Day

Ethiopia, Pakistan and Portugal join UNEP’s Climate Neutral Network

World Environment Day 2009 – Your Planet Needs You!

NAIROBI, 5 June 2009 – Three countries have pledged to promote low-carbon,
green growth by joining the Climate Neutral Network (CN Net) – an
initiative led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to
promote global action to de-carbonize our economies and societies.

Ethiopia, Pakistan and Portugal are the latest nations to join the CN Net
initiative, bringing the total number of countries that are going
low-carbon or even climate neutral to 10.   These 10 countries have a
combined population of over 266 million and cover the land area roughly the
size of Argentina or 2 percent of the world’s terrestrial surface.

The announcement was made on World Environment Day (WED) which this year is
held under the theme “Your Planet Needs YOU! Unite to Combat Climate
Change”.

While the main WED activities are taking place in this year’s host country,
Mexico, celebrations are being organized worldwide – from remote villages
to sprawling capitals – making it a truly global event.

Welcoming the new CN Net participants, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP
Executive Director Achim Steiner said:   “From setting world tree-planting
records to taking full advantage of the abundant sun, waves and winds to
promoting carbon finance investments, the three new countries joining the
Climate Neutral Network are offering diverse and innovative strategies to
combat climate change and benefit from low-carbon, green development and
growth.”

“However, these strategies will only succeed in the long-term if the
international community sends the right policy and market signals for
climate-friendly development. This year’s World Environment Day comes just
over 180 days before the UN climate convention meeting in Denmark where
Governments need to agree on a new, forward-looking climate treaty.   By
‘Sealing the Deal’ on a new climate agreement in Copenhagen, world leaders
will be delivering perhaps the most transformational and far-reaching
stimulus package of them all, now and for the coming decades”, Mr. Steiner
added.

Innovative national strategies Ethiopia is the first African country to
join the Climate Neutral Network.   While the nation is not a net
contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, it has expressed its
commitment to mitigating climate change.

Ethiopia is an active supporter of UNEP’s Billion Tree Campaign,
contributing more trees than any other nation – over 1 billion – towards
the global target of planting 7 billion trees by the crucial UN climate
change conference in December 2009..

Furthermore, through Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation, the Government
is distributing 5.4 million compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) – commonly
known as “energy savers” – country-wide to help consumers save money on
electricity bills and reduce their carbon footprint.

Pakistan is coming on board the CN Net with a vision of making the country
a destination of choice for international carbon finance investments and
Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects.   Already, CDM projects ranging
from biogas co-generation to energy and fuel efficiency are being
implemented nation-wide.

The Government of Pakistan has also set the 10% target for renewable energy
by 2015 and established the Alternate Energy Development Board to spearhead
this effort.

Portugal is the first EU member State to join the Climate Neutral Network.
The country expects to generate 31% of all its energy from clean sources by
2020, including 60% of electricity; and its renewable energy plans include
the world’s largest wind, wave and solar energy facilities.

National policies to promote renewable energies include investment
subsidies, tax breaks and fixed feed-in tariffs for photovoltaic, wave
energy, small hydro, wind power, forest biomass, urban waste and biogas.

Cities, companies join CN Net The Mexican city of Aguascalientes, the
Portuguese municipality of Cascais and the Brazilian city of Niterói have
also come on board the Network.

Taking its name from the abundant hot thermal springs found in the area,
Aguascalientes has embarked on an ambitious strategy to reduce greenhouse
gas emissions, which includes upgrading cycling lanes and suburban trains,
switching public lighting to solar power and capturing methane from
landfills to produce biogas.

Cascais, a small municipality outside Lisbon, has committed to making
itself carbon neutral.   As part of this effort, 25 municipal buildings are
subject to real-time monitoring of energy flows.   Cascais will also be the
focus of a rigorous scientific study to examine how climate change may
affect water resources, coastal zones, fisheries, agriculture, human health
and impacts on tourism, energy, forestry and biodiversity.

The Brazilian municipality of Niterói is the first city in South America to
join the CN Net.   Located just across the Guanabara Bay from Rio de
Janeiro, the city has a population of 500,000.   The municipality is taking
the issue of climate change as a priority and has set targets in the areas
of transport, energy and waste.

In addition, two high-tech giants – Dell and Cable & Wireless – are among
the new private sector companies joining the CN Net with plans to green the
ICT sector, which accounts for roughly 2 percent of the global greenhouse
gas (GHG) emissions and has a significant potential to use ICT solutions to
reduce GHG emissions from other sectors.

——–

About World Environment Day 2009 World Environment Day, commemorated each
year on 5 June, is one of the principal vehicles through which the United
Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances
political attention and action.   The theme for WED 2009 is “Your Planet
Needs You! UNite to Combat Climate Change”. It reflects the urgency for
nations to agree on a new deal at the crucial climate convention meeting in
Copenhagen some 190 days later in the year, and the links with overcoming
poverty and improved management of forests.

About Climate Neutral Network
Launched in February 2008, the Climate Neutral Network (CN Net) is a
high-profile outreach initiative led by the United Nations Environment
Programme (UNEP) to catalyze global transition to low-carbon economies and
societies.   Today, the CN Net counts close to 150 participants, including
10 countries, 12 cities, major international companies, UN agencies and
leading NGOs who have set the most ambitious greenhouse gas reduction
targets in the world. Based on a free of charge, interactive website, the
CN Net gives participants a platform to present their strategies in climate
neutrality to the world, providing visibility and inspiration to others. It
functions as a network for information exchange and sharing of practical
experiences, making the best available knowledge on climate neutrality
widely available to all. CN Net participants are already achieving
significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. As the Network grows and
expands, so will its contribution to global efforts to combat climate
change.   www.unep.org/climateneutral

For more information, please contact:

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson and Head of Media, on Tel: +254-20-7623084,
Mobile: +254-733-632755, or when traveling: +41-79-596-5737, or e-mail:
 nick.nuttall at unep.org

Or: Xenya Cherny Scanlon, Information Officer, UNEP Climate Neutral
Network, on Tel: +254-20-762-4387, Mobile: +254-721-847-563, or e-mail:
 xenya.scanlon at unep.org internet: www.unep.org/climateneutral

*********************************
Jim Sniffen
Programme Officer
UN Environment Programme
New York
tel: +1-212-963-8094/8210
 info at nyo.unep.org
 www.nyo.unep.org
*********************************

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 7th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

UN DPI PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release: April 7, 2009

Contacts:
Emmanuel Kattan:  kattan at un.org +90.531.747.5389 or +1.917.238.2043
Daanish Masood:  masoodd at un.org +90.531.747.5388 or +1.917.847.3084.

Istanbul Forum: Concrete Progress Made In Building Bridges, Connecting People Across Borders

Youth, Business Leaders Spearhead Efforts at Intercultural Understanding;   New Initiatives Use Technology to Break Down Cultural, Religious Barriers


(Istanbul) – Concrete progress toward a global agenda for intercultural dialogue was made at the Istanbul Forum of the Alliance of Civilizations as grassroots advocates join forces with heads of state and high-ranking religious and cultural leaders.

“The Alliance Forum is not only about dialogue. It is about dialogue that delivers. It is about concrete, practical projects that make a real difference to the lives of people” said High Representative President Jorge Sampaio.

“The world will not be able to pull out of the current global crisis through economic measures alone. For those measures to be effective in the long term, they need to be complemented by efforts to strengthen the social fabric and build trust and understanding among communities and nations,” said President Sampaio.

The key outcomes of the Forum include the launch of a number of new initiatives:

1.               A Global Youth Movement for the Alliance of Civilizations composed of youth organizations and individuals who make the objectives of the Alliance a central part of their daily lives through concrete projects and personal commitments.
2.               Dialogue Café, a highly innovative technological project aimed at creating a global collective of ordinary citizens, who will explore common interests across divides, and will be encouraged to collaborate on common projects. The project, led by CISCO, will be the first example of a true global public-private partnership, involving the business sector, foundations, universities and, we hope, local public authorities as well.
3.               “Restore Trust, Rebuild Bridges”, a cluster of Euro-Mediterranean projects, led by the Alliance and the Anna Lindh Foundation, to be developed by a number of partners, aimed at restoring trust and rebuilding bridges in that region in the wake of the Gaza crisis.
4.               An initial showcasing of the Alliance Fellowship Program to facilitate meaningful exchanges of young leaders from a number of countries and establish working relationships between them.
5.               Plural +, a youth film festival focused on migration themes to be launched in partnership with the International Organization for Migration.
6.               Doing Business in a Multi-cultural World – Challenges and Opportunities, a joint report of the Alliance of Civilizations and the UN Global Compact showcasing a range of best practices and case studies for companies to use in responding to the diversity of today’s business environments.
7.               The launch of Mapping Media Education Policies around the World, a joint publication by the Alliance and UNESCO on media education policies.
8.               A joint rapid response media framework developed with the Anna Lindh Foundation and the European Commission to serve the needs of journalists working across the Mediterranean region. This initiative will provide user-friendly access to information and expertise in the context of crises with cultural dimensions as well as a support mechanism to bring together international journalists, editors and relevant experts for media dialogue.
9.               The Alliance Research Network, which was launched with 12 universities from across the world.
10.               The launch of the Education about Religions and Beliefs Clearinghouse with 12 partners from around the world.
In addition, the Forum featured:

·               Announcement of new National Plans and regional strategies for intercultural dialogue by governments and multilateral organizations to advance AoC objectives in their respective countries and region – this is the case of several countries including Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Montenegro, Portugal, Russian Federation, Qatar and Slovenia. Regional Strategies for East-European countries, the Euro-Mediterranean region and the Ibero-American countries have also been announced With regards to the East-European Strategy, an International Conference in Sarajevo to take place in the second half of this year has been announced. Concerning the Euro-Mediterranean Regional Strategy, a set of initiatives will be carried out in order to prepare its adoption in a meeting to be hosted by Egypt.

·               Establishment of a new set of partnership agreements which will enable the AoC to leverage networks and competitive advantages of partners in the implementation of its programs. We have signed 7 agreements – with the International Organization of Migration, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Ibero-American General Secretariat, the Anna Lindh Foundation, l’Organisation de la Francophonie, the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries and the Union Latine.

The Alliance Forum is unique in several ways:

1. It is the one global event that brings together the key players who are involved in promoting intercultural cooperation to galvanize them into action.

2. The Alliance Forum is not only about dialogue. It is about dialogue that delivers. It is about concrete, practical projects that make a real difference to the lives of people on the ground.

3. The Alliance Forum is also about innovation. The event will showcase the most original, inspiring and imaginative projects aimed at building understanding and trust among diverse communities and cultures. These projects will be showcased in a special session, the Marketplace of Ideas, in which a number of grassroots organizations will have the opportunity to present the results of their work and provide inspiration to others.

4. Finally, the Forum highlights the role of the Alliance as a global matchmaker. It connects innovative, groundbreaking grassroots initiatives with policy makers and potential funders who can help scale up these projects and give them global prominence.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 4th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 from:    gcr-eletter at angelnexus.com about Green Chip Review

Independence Day Greetings from Portugal.

By Sam Hopkins

It’s no accident that I’m overseas on America’s Independence Day. And maybe it’s no surprise either that the first tones of Portugal I’ve taken in on this trip are ones of energy freedom.

“New enterprise, generated by nature…”

So far my Brazilian-accented Portuguese has drawn some strange looks from police officers and shopkeepers as I ask for directions or coffee, but when I read this sign for the national power company’s new renewables division this morning, I only had to kick it around in my own noggin to understand.

International Companies are Dominating the Cleantech Space: Many of the world’s new energy technologies are being developed in countries outside the United States. Germany, for example, is mother to the modern solar industry. The Danes have all but cornered the wind industry with the now-famous Vestas Wind Systems. Green Chip International is taking full advantage of this phenomenon. Its latest German solar recommendation is up about 11% in under two weeks. Everyday, international renewables companies are delivering monster gains.

The new slogan for Energias de Portugal, which trades over the counter in the U.S. as EDPFY, not only exemplifies the transitional energy economy moving Europe from fossil fuels to clean power sources…

It also represents a fresh Age of Exploration in a country that was once one of the most powerful and adventurous empires in the world.

Along with Spain, Portugal is part of a 21st-century Iberian revival that mixes European Union green energy goals with the desire to stand out as individual national economies.
We’re seeing that phenomenon kick into high gear in Denmark, Germany, Norway, Scotland, and here in warmer climes too.

Spain’s Iberdrola Energy (MADRID:IBE) launched its own Iberdrola Renovables (Renewables) as a separate listing on the Madrid Stock Exchange in 2007. Most of Iberdrola’s renewable might comes from the stiff Spanish breeze. Tiny towns and big cities in Europe’s southwestern reaches are now getting electricity from wind turbines, and selling their surplus to the grid.

Now EDP is using its own country’s strength in wind, hydroelectric power, and the world’s largest wave energy array, Pelamis, to chart its course forward.

But here’s the interesting thing…

Energias de Portugal Renovables will be based in Spain, because Chairman Antonio Mexia knows the larger Iberian market can be cooperative and competitive at the same time, building a critical mass of companies and generation capacity that will benefit everyone.

The Lazy Investor’s Portfolio is whst this e-msail we got proposes

EDP has nearly 500 megawatts worth of new capacity in Spain planned for construction in the near term, helping it towards the goal of 10,500 MW worldwide just four years from now.

And you can tap that momentum with EDP Renewables’ forthcoming stock listing here in Lisbon, which we anticipate will be highly successful.

We’ll keep you up to date on EDP and the entire Iberian clean energy scene with Green Chip Review and Green Chip International.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 2nd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 30th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS), the world’s leading provider of information on global issues, is backed by a network of journalists in more than 100 countries.
Its clients include more than 3,000 media organizations and tens of thousands of civil society groups, academics, and other users.

IPS focuses its news coverage on the events and global processes affecting the economic, social and political development of peoples and nations.

Visit Inter Press Service at www.ipsnews.net

Rome, Italy, is where the headquarters are. Much of the news come from the 4th floor of the UN Headquarters in New York.


Today’s News from IPS in its Media Section – MEDIA: IPS Has New Chairman.

By Sabina Zaccaro

fmayor.jpg
Federico Mayor


ROME, Jun 25 (IPS) – The IPS International Association has chosen Federico Mayor as new chair of its Board of Directors. He replaces Mario Soares, former President of Portugal (1986-1996), who has been guiding the IPS Board since 2002.

IPS also elected its Board of Trustees, which includes two former U.N. secretaries general, Kofi Annan and Boutros Boutros-Ghali; two former presidents, Mario Soares (Portugal) and Martti Ahtisaari (Finland); two former prime ministers, Toshiki Kaifu (Japan) and Inder Kumar Gujral (India); and IPS founder Roberto Savio.

Federico Mayor, born in Spain in 1934, served as Director General of the Paris-based United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) from 1987 to 1999.

Mayor was earlier a member of the Spanish Parliament (1977-1978), Minister for Education and Science (1981-1982) and member of the European Parliament (1987).

After deciding not to run for a third term at UNESCO, he returned to Spain in 1999 to create the Foundation for a Culture of Peace. In 2005, the United Nations Secretary-General designated Mayor as Co-President of the High Level Group for the Alliance of Civilisations.

He is also member of the Honorary Board of the International Coalition for the Decade for the Culture of Peace and Non-Violence.

Mayor, who has worked on peace-related issues for more than 30 years, says the role of a news agency such as IPS in promoting peace is “essential, because the media power today is enormous, and we receive much partial and biased information.

“It is time for action and change, and to transform reality we must know reality in-depth,” he told IPS.

During his 12 years as head of UNESCO, Mayor’s work focused on the promotion of peace, tolerance, human rights and peaceful coexistence. Under his guidance, UNESCO created the Culture of Peace programme aimed at education for peace; human rights and democracy; the fight against isolation and poverty; the defence of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue; and conflict prevention and the consolidation of peace.

Access to independent information can make a strong contribution to handling the world’s conflicts, he said. “It has been misleading information that has led to war and invasions such as the one of Iraq.

“The present crisis shows how far unrestricted freedom of expression and media pluralism are crucial to overcome the present situations, particularly the food crisis, and start the process for the other possible world of which we dream,” Mayor said.

As new chair of the IPS Board of Directors, he said he will aim “to follow exactly the objectives of IPS, which are transparency, accuracy and farsightedness.”

mlubetkin.jpg
Mario Lubetkin

The recent triennial election of the IPS International Association appointed Mario Lubetkin Director General of IPS for a third term. A Uruguay born journalist, Lubetkin has served as correspondent for several Italian and Latin American print media, and as communications adviser for various U.N. agencies and regional integration organisations in Latin America.

“The key challenge before IPS today is to strengthen its role as a leading news agency covering all development and civil society issues. But our aim is also to get deeper analysis of globalisation’s impact, particularly from the South perspective,” Lubetkin said.

The IPS International Association also elected a new 16-member Board of Directors, with a geographical and gender balance. The Board includes journalists, academics, communications experts, and specialists in international cooperation.

———————

But when it comes to reporting about areas of conflict, IPS journalism is not imune of physical search:


MIDEAST: Israelis Assault Award Winning IPS Journalist.

By Mel Frykberg, IPS, June 30, 2008

GAZA CITY, Jun 28 (IPS) – Mohammed Omer, the Gaza correspondent of IPS, and joint winner of the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, was strip-searched at gunpoint, assaulted and abused by Israeli security officials at the Allenby border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank on Thursday as he tried to return home to Gaza.

Omer, a resident of Rafah in the south of Gaza, and previous recipient of the New America Media’s Best Youth Voice award several years ago, was returning from London where he had just collected his Gellhorn Prize, and from several European capitals where he had speaking engagements, including a meeting with Greek parliamentarians.

Omer’s trip was sponsored by The Washington Report, and the Dutch embassy in Tel Aviv was responsible for coordinating Omer’s travel plans and his security permit to leave Gaza with Israeli officials.

Israel controls the borders of Gaza and severely restricts the entrance and exit of Gazans allegedly on grounds of security. Human rights organisations accuse the Israelis of using security as a pretext to apply collective punishment indiscriminately.

While waiting in Amman on his way back, Omer eventually received the requisite coordination and security clearance from the Israelis to return to Gaza after this had initially been delayed by several days, he told IPS.

Accompanied by Dutch diplomats, Omer passed through the Jordanian side of the border without incident. However, after arrival on the Israeli side, trouble began. He informed a female soldier that he was returning home to Gaza. He was repeatedly asked where Gaza was, and told that he had neither a permit nor any coordination to cross.

Omer explained that he did indeed have permission and coordination but was nevertheless taken to a room by Israel’s domestic intelligence agency the Shin Bet, where he was isolated for an hour and a half without explanation.

“Eventually I was asked whether I had a knife or gun on me even though I had already passed through the x-ray machine, had my luggage searched, and was in the company of Dutch diplomats,” Omer said.

His luggage was again searched, and security then proceeded to go through every document and paper he had on him, taking down the names and numbers of the European parliamentary officials he had met.

The Shin Bet officials then started to make fun of the European parliamentarians, and mocked Omer for being “the prize-winning journalist”.

The Gazan journalist was repeatedly asked why he was returning to “the hell of Gaza after we allowed you to leave.” To this he responded that he wanted to be a voice for the voiceless. He was told he was a “trouble-maker”.

The security men also demanded he show all the money he had on him, and particular attention was paid to the British pounds he was carrying. His Gellhorn prize money had been awarded in British pounds but he was not carrying the entire sum on him bodily, something the investigators refused to believe.

After being unable to produce the prize money, he was ordered to strip naked.

“At first I refused but then I had an M16 (gun) pointed in my face and my clothes were forcibly removed, even my underwear,” Omer said.

At this point Omer broke down and pleaded for an end to such treatment. He said he was told, “you haven’t seen anything yet.” Every cavity of his body was searched as one of the investigators pinned him down on the floor, placing his boot on Omer’s neck. Omer began vomiting, and fainted.

When he came round his eyelids were being forcibly opened and his eardrums probed by an Israeli military doctor, who was also armed. He was then dragged along the floor by his feet by the Shin Bet officials, with his head repeatedly banging on the floor, to a Palestinian ambulance which had been called.

“I eventually woke up in a Palestinian hospital with the doctors trying to reassure me,” Omer told IPS.

The Dutch Foreign Ministry at the Hague told IPS that Foreign Minister Maxime Zerhagen spoke to the Israeli ambassador to The Netherlands and demanded an explanation.

The Dutch embassy in Tel Aviv has also raised the issue with the Israeli Foreign Ministry, which in turn has promised to investigate the incident and get back to the Dutch officials.

Ahmed Dadou, spokesman from the Dutch Foreign Ministry at the Hague told IPS, “We are taking this whole incident very seriously as we don’t believe the behaviour of the Israeli officials is in accordance with a modern democracy.

“We are further concerned about the mistreatment of an internationally renowned journalist trying to go about his daily business,” added Dadou.

A spokeswoman at the Israeli Foreign Press Association said she was unaware of the incident.

Lisa Dvir from the Israeli Airport Authority (IAA), the body responsible for controlling Israel’s borders, told IPS that the IAA was neither aware of Omer’s journalist credentials nor of his coordination.

“We would like to know who Omer spoke to in regard to receiving coordination to pass through Allenby. We offer journalists a special service when passing through our border crossings, and had we known about his arrival this would not have happened.

“I’m not aware of the events that followed his detention, and we are not responsible for the behaviour of the Shin Bet.”

In the meantime, Omer is still traumatised and in pain. “I’m struggling to breathe and have pain in my head and stomach and will be going back to hospital for further medical examinations,” he said

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 31st, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

From:      imourao at ecoprogresso.pt

Ecoprogresso is most pleased to inform and invite you to participate on the conference on adaptation to climate change – Portugal in a Changing Climate.

The main goal of this conference, taking place on the 23rd of June, is to start a society-wide debate on adaptation to climate change. Therefore, it is our wish to raise the awareness and contribute to inform a wide range of public and private actors on the impacts of climate change in their respective sectors and to alert to the need and urgency of mainstreaming adaptation in the planning and decision making processes.

This conference is the starting point of a wider initiative – …in a Changing Climate, promoted by Ecoprogresso, the Portuguese Environment Ministry and the British Embassy in Lisbon, and will be followed by a cycle of twelve thematic workshops:

§   In a Changing Climate: Scenarios, Impacts and Vulnerability
§   Water in a Changing Climate
§   Spatial Planning in a Changing Climate
§   Tourism in a Changing Climate
§   Bank and Insurance in a Changing Climate
§   Agriculture and Forests in a Changing Climate
§   Energy in a Changing Climate
§   Human health in a Changing Climate
§   Biodiversity in a Changing Climate
§   Natural Disasters in a Changing Climate
§   Coastal Zones in a Changing Climate
§   Cooperation and International Investment in a Changing Climate

For more information, please visit www.numclimaemmudanca.pt/en/index… or feel free to contact us.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 24th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

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Melaka’s modern history began in 1403 with the arrival of Parameswara, an exiled Hindu Prince from the Kingdom of Sri Vijaya on Sumatra Island.
He embraced Islam under the title Raja Iskandar and started the Sultanate of Melaka that evolved into a vibrant maritime trading center.

The Portuguese, led by Alfonso d’Albuquerque conquered Melaka in 1511 and held it for 130 years until it was taken over by the Dutch in 1641 who ruled
for 154 years until 1824 when it was taken over by the British.   Malaysia’s independence in was 1957. The Japanese ruled during the 1942 – 1945 years.

In addition to the obvious Portuguese, Dutch, and British influences, actually the main influence was that of the Chinese and Indians who ran the economy of Melaka.

Here we will deal with the so called “Straits Chinese” or “Pernakan.”   They are the “Baba-Nyonyas.” There are no Babas and Nyonyas, though a myth is being created
that made outsiders believe that the babas are the males and the nyonyas the females, while others think it the other way. In short – we were surprised to find that even
part of the publicity for the UN Delegates’ Dining Room special two weeks, included this inaccuracy.

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The straits of Melaka, between the Malay Peninsula and the long Sumatra Island is one of the busiest sea lanes through which today pass oil tankers, but even now, the straights are infested by pirates.
The Melaka city was thus an important fort in the colonial days, and still an important commercial center run in major part by the Nyonyas of today. Part of the Nyonyas and the Indians left Malaysia at a
time the Mahatir government took highly Malay ethnic nationalistic stand and tried to displace the Chinese and Indians from their positions. A Pernakan community exists now in New York and some
from that community came to eat at the UN. Three ladies sat at a neighboring table.

As the event was basically a really high caliber culinary event, I enjoyed immensely Chef Ismail Muhammad, who is something of a celebrity chef in Kuala Lumpur, run me through the ethnic background
of the food. I am thus happy to report that I ate spicy Malay meet, Portuguese inspired fish and Indian inspired curry-chicken, also a Chinese excellent vegetarian dish. There were terrific noodle dishes
and a desert   table that had sweets and not-so sweet works of art.

Now, what did I celebrate there personally – this is simple. I was in Melaka twice, in two separate visits to Malaysia. The fist time it was in 1987 when I went to investigate the smoke that was supposed
to have been caused by the Indonesian fires on Borneo island. I went then to see by myself the situation in Melaka and was convinced, that though highly polluted from the motor vehicular transportation,
Melaka suffered much less then Kuala Lumpur – this because the winds from the sea were able to dissipate some of the pollution – so I knew that the haze was not of Sumatra origin. In effect, probably,
Sumatra was getting Malaysian pollution and not the other way around.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 16th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

G8 leaders want China in climate forum.
Says Kyodo News on Thursday, April 17, 2008, according to search.japantimes.co.jp/mail/nn20…

Japanese and European Union leaders pledged to jointly call in their April 23, 2008,   talks in Tokyo for a new energy-saving framework to curb global warming at the Group of Eight energy ministers meeting in June in Japan, according to a draft of their postsummit statement.

“Japan and the EU agreed to help establish the International Partnership for Cooperation on Energy Efficiency through close cooperation with the International Energy Agency at the forthcoming G8 Energy Ministers meeting” in Aomori Prefecture for formal authorization at the G8 summit in July in Hokkaido, said the draft, which was obtained Wednesday.




IPEEC envisages allowing countries to set individual goals and action plans to improve energy efficiency, coupled with a review system by the IEA and financial and technological assistance by developed countries, an initiative aimed at ensuring the involvement of China, India and other emerging economies in the global fight against climate change.

The Japanese and EU leaders will also agree to strengthen international and bilateral cooperation to ensure the safety of food and other products, a move apparently stemming from concerns about Chinese products, the draft says.

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso will take part in the Tokyo summit. Slovenia currently holds the rotating EU presidency.

The three are also expected to discuss the Tibet, North Korea and Iran situations.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 11th, 2008

Declining Support for Tough Measures against Iran’s Nuclear Program: Global Poll by BBC for www.worldpublicopinion.org

 www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/a…

March 11, 2008

bbciran_mar08_img.jpg

Support for tough measures against Iran’s nuclear program has fallen in 13 out of 21 countries according to a new BBC World Service Poll.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at Columbia University in New York on September 24, 2007 (Photo: Daniella Zalcman)

Compared to results from a June 2006 BBC World Service Poll, support for economic sanctions or military strikes has declined significantly, including in countries that were previously among the highest supporters of tough action.

Support for these measures has dropped 10 points in Australia (52 per cent to 42 per cent), nine points in Britain (43 per cent to 34 per cent), nine points in Germany (46 per cent to 37 per cent), seven points in Canada (52 per cent to 45 per cent), six points in the United States (66 per cent to 60 per cent) and 30 points in Mexico (46 per cent to 16 per cent).

Only three countries show an increase in support for economic sanctions or military strikes: an increase of nine points among Israelis (62 per cent to 71 per cent), six points among South Koreans (47 per cent to 53 per cent), and 12 points among Turkish respondents (21 per cent to 33 per cent).

Most interviews were conducted following the release of the US National Intelligence Estimate that concluded Iran had stopped pursuing nuclear weapons in 2003.

Across all 31 countries surveyed in the latest poll (the 21 tracking countries plus an additional 10 countries polled for the first time), most respondents oppose the use of economic sanctions or military strikes.

Respondents were presented four options that the UN Security Council could use to address the fact that Iran continues to produce nuclear fuel in defiance of the UN Security Council resolution. The options of economic sanctions or military strikes were rejected in 27 out of 31 countries. Instead, the most preferred approaches are to either use only diplomatic efforts or not pressure Iran at all.

On average 57 per cent favor diplomacy (43 per cent) or no pressure on Iran (14 per cent). Just one-in-three favor economic sanctions (26 per cent) or military strikes (8 per cent).

bbciran_mar08_graph1.jpg

The poll also found that there are conditions under which many people would be willing to accept Iran having a limited capacity to produce nuclear fuel. The question asked: “If Iran were to allow UN inspectors permanent and full access throughout Iran, to make sure it is not developing nuclear weapons, do you think Iran should or should not be allowed to produce nuclear fuel for producing electricity?”

In 17 of the 31 countries more people favor than oppose the idea, while in 10 countries more are opposed and four countries are divided. Support is fairly strong in some of the countries in the forefront of the drive to stop Iran’s nuclear program, including the US (55 per cent), Britain (71 per cent) and France (56 per cent). On average 47 per cent are in favor while 36 per cent are opposed.

The results are drawn from a survey of 32,039 adult citizens across 31 countries conducted for the BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan together with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland. GlobeScan coordinated fieldwork between October 31, 2007 and January 25, 2008.

Steven Kull, Director of PIPA comments, “It appears that people in many countries are interested in ramping down the confrontation with Iran, while still using UN inspectors to ensure that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons.”

Detailed Findings

In three countries a majority today favors economic sanctions or military strikes to deal with Iran. These include Israel (sanctions 37 per cent, strikes 34 per cent), the United States (sanctions 45 per cent, strikes 15 per cent) and South Korea (sanctions 48 per cent, strikes 5 per cent). Canadians are divided between a strong approach (sanctions 35 per cent, strikes 10 per cent) and softer approaches (diplomacy 42 per cent, no pressure 6 per cent). In all other countries, the weight of opinion is towards the less aggressive measures of using only diplomatic efforts or not pressuring Iran at all.

Support for allowing Iran to produce nuclear fuel for electricity, alongside a full program of UN inspections, is found not only in the US (55 per cent), Britain (71 per cent), and France (56 per cent), but also among Egyptians (86 per cent), Mexicans (79 per cent), Australians (64 per cent), Portuguese (59 per cent), Canadians (58 per cent), Italians (58 per cent), Kenyans (56 per cent), Indonesians (56 per cent) and Chinese (51 per cent). More modest support is found in Spain (49 per cent), Ghana (45 per cent), Nigeria (46 per cent), and Russia (33 per cent).

Majorities oppose the idea in Israel (62 per cent), Philippines (60 per cent), Turkey (54 per cent), Japan (54 per cent) and South Korea (51 per cent). Half of Germans are opposed as are 38 per cent of Central Americans.

Indians, Argentinians and Chileans are divided, with large numbers not providing an answer.

In total 32,039 citizens in Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, El Salvador, France, Ghana, Germany, Great Britain, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Panama, the Philippines, Portugal, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, and the United States were interviewed face-to-face or by telephone between October 31, 2007 and January 25, 2008. Polling was conducted for the BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan and its research partners in each country. In 13 of the 31 countries, the sample was limited to major urban areas. The margin of error per country ranges from +/-2.4 to 4.4 per cent.

For more details, please see the full report (PDF)

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 9th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

GENERAL ASSEMBLY AGREED TO HOLD TOP-LEVEL MEETING ON AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT IN SEPTEMBER.

The General Assembly today agreed to convene a high-level meeting this September, on the eve of its annual general debate, on how to better meet the development needs of Africa, which is struggling to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the target date of 2015.

In a resolution adopted without a vote, Assembly members agreed both to hold the meeting on 22 September and that it should result in a formal political declaration on the issue.

The text calls for participation at the highest possible political level, including heads of State and government, and it also asks Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to submit in advance a comprehensive report, including recommendations, on African development needs.

The meeting “will constitute a significant event that will review the implementation of all commitments made to and by Africa in order to comprehensively address the special development needs of the continent,” the Assembly said in the resolution.

* * *

COMMUNITIES NEED MORE SOPHISTICATED METEOROLOGICAL SERVICES, SAYS WORLD METEOROLOGICAL ORGANIZATION (WMO).

Governments, businesses and the general public need more sophisticated information from their national weather services if they are to prepare adequately against natural disasters and better adapt to the threats posed by climate change, the head of the United Nations meteorological agency says.

Michel Jarraud, the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), told a workshop yesterday in Cape Verde that there is “a vital need to better understand the linkage between environmental protection and sustainable development.”

Mr. Jarraud noted that the global economy had become increasingly sensitive to the fluctuations of weather, climate and water phenomena. Climate change, the growing competition for water, ozone depletion and the impact of desertification all require countries to have access to the best available information.

“There are also raised expectations and demands for newer and more sophisticated types of services by most sectors of the economy, all of which are highly relevant to your respective societies,” he said.

The workshop, help on Sal Island on Cape Verde, runs until Friday and is aimed at helping Portuguese-speaking countries develop greater partnerships between government and civil society on environmental and climate issues.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 7th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Thursday, March 6, 2008, The European Union Studies Center of The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, with the help of the Alexander S. Onasis Public Benefit Foundation (USA), had the great opportunity to hear from one of Greece’s important political figures – Dr. Yannos Papantoniou.
Dr. Papantoniou currently serves as an Onassis Foundation Senior Visiting Scholar at the University of Athens. In 1981, he was elected as a member of the European Parliament and in 1984 became adviser to the prime minister on European Economic Community affairs.

Since June 1989, he has been an elected member of the Greek Parliament. He served as deputy minister of National Economy, then variously as minister of Commerce, minister of National Economy and Finance, and minister of National Defense under the Socialist, or Pasok, government.

On February 27, 2008, Greece Named Yannos Papantoniou As its Candidate To Lead the the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development , (EBRD). He has also been Governor of the National Bank of Greece in 2000.

Over the 12-month period in 2002-03, when Greece held the presidency of the European Union’s Council of Defense Ministers, Dr. Papantoniou helped to coordinate the policies that led to the creation of the European Military Force and its engagement in international peacekeeping operations as well as the establishment of the European Defense Agency.

Dr. Papantoniou studied economics at the Universities of Athens and Wisconsin, history at the Sorbonne (France), and obtained his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Cambridge (U.K).

The topic at the CUNY presentation was: “Regional Security in Southeastern Europe.” We got obviously an explicit Greek point of view.

At first we got a tour of the European expansion from 15 to 27 States and we saw how this was possible. The Three Baltic States were adopted by the Scandinavian States and this helped their economic integration into the EU. Poland was helped by foreign investment and its relations to US Poles. The Central Europeans were helped by Germany and Austria (Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians – also Slovenia and the future accession of Croatia. The Creation of a partnership for peace at NATO helped Bulgaria and Romania.

So now we are left with the remnants of the Balkans. The situation came to an edge with Kosovo declaring unilaterally independence on February 17, 2008 and being by now recognized as an independent State by over 100 countries. Obviously Serbia and Russia do not recognize Kosovo – neither does Greece. We found in effect, on the internet, a 2007 official statement from Greece saying that they do not agree to an “imposed’ solution for Kosovo. They think of the old concept of Sovereignty under which you cannot dismember Serbia, this because if that succeeds, North Cyprus will also want to become an independent Turkish State …

Turkey? As an attached State to the West would be an important role player to stabilize the Middle East – that gave me a reason to think that one should also ask the Turks what they think.

“The EU is an economic organization with political ambitions.”

The requirements for accession are: a. Democracy; b. A market Economy; and c. Adaptation of EU law into National law.

“Turkey is a strong regional power. If it were to come into the EU it would come in as a 100 million bloc that would change the balance of power in the EU. They might have more power then Germany and the UK combined, and this is unacceptable. The EU would prefer a special linkage to be offered to Turkey. After 12 additions the enlargement may have reached a limit. The EU has already become less homogeneous and less coherent.”

For the Balkans, joining the EU gives them the best motivation to normalize their society and economy. The speaker would like this to happen eventually, but not immediately.

Here, Professor Hugo M. Kaufmann, Professor of Economics at Queens College and at the Graduate Center, who chaired the event, opened up for questions, and there were many very interesting questions. I will bring up mainly our own question that came about because of the suggestion of having special relationships between the EU and countries like Turkey, that want to join the EU, but are rebuffed – then offered a special compensation that looks good to some at the EU, but which they cannot accept. Internally their governments will look like losers, and they will become losers indeed because of internal politics.

My question was why look at special arrangements with single countries, while a special arrangement with a large group of countries would be much more palatable to these outsiders – and I named three such groups: The Mediterranean Group, The Black Sea Group, and the Turkic Group.

The Mediterranean group does exist in effect – this as a result of the Barcelona Process. It started as an alliance to clean up the Mediterranean Sea – as such it had to include the Southern States of the EU – those reaching the sea shores – the North African States, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey etc. It includes countries that do not have good relations with each other – but they have to cooperate – and you know what – it works and gives results.

The Black Sea International Council started out as an environmental organization with Greece as the only participating EU member. Now after the EU accession of Romania and Bulgaria, a new Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) organisation was created. This group that obviously also includes Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, has been extended to include the ‘frozen conflicts’ in Georgia, Moldova and between Armenia and Azerbaijan. (To others this reminds of the GUAM countries) This is indeed also an economic power house that can deal with quite a few oil and gas pipelines as well.

The Turkic group includes obviously Turkey and the five former Soviet republics of Central Asia. It could include also Azerbaidjan and Georgia. In effect it could be an oil backyard of the EU.

The bottom line of all this is that Turkey is a central part of all these three groups – it could in effect come in with all this dowry and thus be welcome in its special arrangement as leader of outside EU alliances. This – rather then thinking of Turkey as the EU opening to a Middle East where Turkey is indeed not welcome to the Arab feast – surely, even less, then its welcome to the EU table.

I had also a short question – what about Albania? Why actually not putting it ahead of all this talk about Turkey?

 

The respected Greek speaker said that Albania was one of the poorest countries in the world and he did not think Germany will want to finance Albania. (I clearly could not reopen this point – if I could I would have reminded him that the Kosovars are also Albanians, so are some 15% of the people of Macedonia. Nobody speaks now of a greater Albania, like nobody speaks now of rejoining the present Greek part of Cyprus with Greece. The latter came about because some sort of solution was found, but leaving Albania dangling brought once Mao to this country, now it could be Al Qaeda. This is just unsound policy.)

On the Barcelona process the answer was again money. The process does not go forward because of lack of money. Again I do not think that this is the case – it seems to be rather a jelousy of North EU not wanting to fund deals that favor the South States of the EU – sort of shooting themselves in the feet in the process. The speaker did not pick up the other two groups beyond saying that these are interesting ideas.

On the other hand, to a question about the name dispute between Greece and Macedonia, the speaker explained that the problem was that it worries Greece if later Macedonia would put claim to the areas in Turkey and Bulgaria that carry that name. He recognized that you cannot restrain people from naming themselves what they wish, but for international relations purpose they will have to pick for themselves some neutral name because even the temporary name of FYROM is not acceptable to Greece. Because of this – in our eyes total nonsense – Greece is vetoing Macedonia’s entrance to NATO – thus in effect hurting more NATO then Macedonia.

 

After all of this, when the meeting was called to end, in overtime, a Turkish Consul in New York asked for his right to say also a few words. He said flat that for 200 years Turkey is part of Europe. Turkey’s per capita income is now 1/5 to 1/4 of the average of the EU, but when Spain and Portugal entered the EU they were only 1/10. It is already 45 years that Turkey is trying to get recognition for its potential.

With the final end of the meeting I had the chance to talk to Mr. Basar Sen the Turkish Consul. He explained to me that the expectation of joining the EU has created its own logic and the government is now trapped by it, and turning away will have internal consequences. Surely I remember that starting with Ataturk and his “Young Turks,” a secular new Turkey was created out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire – a secular Turkey that wanted to be recognized, already then, as part of Europe. How can the speaker try to push them back into the Middle East from where these military men tried already then to escape?

But, sensing a friendly person, I followed up with a question I posed years ago to the Turkish Ambassador to the UN. Something that I think was the cardinal sin of Turkish thinking of last century. The question of the Kurds.

The Young Turks wanted to create a homogenized people out of the remnants of the Empire. They still had many – many different ethnic groups in the large piece of land that became Turkey – some say 154 ethnicities with language differences. But even if this was the case, there was only one minority that counted – these were the Kurds. What Turkey feared was that the Kurds will seek independence for their part of the land – so the Turkish government pursued them vehemently and turned them into real enemies. But even if the Kurds might have dreamt of having a larger Kurdistan to include also parts of Iraq, Iran, Syria and Azerbaijan, those other Kurds where not yet convinced that they, themselves, were ready to go for such a frame, with all this uncertainty hanging over the heads of their Turkish brethren. On the other hand, had Turkey realized that there were tremendous benefits in turning Turkey into a bi-national Turkish-Kurdish State, they could have indeed lured into their sphere of influence the Kurds of Iraq – the oil world would have looked differently, and the chances of having created an EU interest in their future would have helped more modernize Turkey, then the way they ended up fighting the greater majority of their people without showing for real economic results. We hope now that the Consul will find a way to provide us with think-tank material to help explain the the thinking of the Turkish leadership – past and present.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 23rd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Within One Week, On Sunday February 17, 2008 and on Thursday February 21, 2008, the Bodies of Two Austrian Passport Holders Had To Be Taken Out From The UN Headquarters Main Building – a sovereign site on Manhattan’s East Side – In Questionable Circumstances.

This posting is based on postings from the UN on www.InnerCityPress.com and on our own questions and research.

 www.innercitypress.com/un1ambulan…

 www.innercitypress.com/un1death02…

 www.innercitypress.com/un2death02…

 www.innercitypress.com/un1freepre…

The first case – of Sunday, February 17, 2008, involved the body of a woman, and as reported by Matthew Russell Lee of the Inner City Press: “1:10 p.m. February 17, 2008 update — New York City DCPI, called by Inner City Press, confirmed that at 8:09 a.m. NYPD responded to the UN, finding a 44-year old white female unconscious and unresponsive in the ‘back courtyard’ of the UN. No criminality is suspected at this time.” Asked by Inner City Press if the deceased was a UN staffer or cleaning contractor – or diplomat — the response was that the individual “was a worker at the location.” The location the body was found was – the South Mall or the area between the UN main building and the East River. Did the woman commit suicide by jumping from the 19th floor? Is this possible in that part of the building? Where there different circumstances?

UN sources put the deceased’s age at 45, nationality Australian, “floor of department, 19.” But above is not correct – or let us say a common mistake – as the nationality was listed as Australian rather then Austrian. Further, the UN would not be disclosing the identity of the deceased, even after her next of kin were notified. We found out independently that the woman held double citizenship – Uruguayan and Austrian – and that she was the daughter of a former Uruguayan diplomat who served in Vienna.

Lee writes: “An Inner City Press source, who ventured to the 19th-floor, found there rather dreary computer units entitled Systems Management Section and Service Co-ordination Section. Two staffers, there on a Sunday, confirmed that the deceased was a coworker, but referred all other questions to a man they called their boss, who declined comment.” Further – “one close observer consulted by Inner City Press wondered out loud about the lack of public information about this staff member and death in the UN’s important computer unit.” A very obvious question is what did the woman do at the UN so early on a Sunday morning? Also, some clouds seem to hover on this issue as Matthew Lee posted first photos of the body lying on the ground after having been bagged by the police. There was no face in the photo, only a fist that stuck out from the bag was seen in that photo, and an obvious question is thus what evidence was the police looking for. The Under Secretary General in charge of the Department of Public Information was displeased by seeing that photo on the website, and got Mr. Lee to remove it on February 20, 2008.

Then on February 21, 2008, at the day’s noon press briefing, Austrian correspondent Hans Janitschek from the Austrian Kronen Zeitung asked about that case alluding to discordant reports in the Viennese press. Spokesperson Michele Montas replied that there was no indication of foul play. Later in the briefing, a staffer handed her a note, and she amended her answer to say that the investigation is still underway.

Mr. Janitschek continued to be active that day, and at the 1:30pm press conference with Iceland President Olafur Ragnar Grimmson, he asked the Iceland President about the competing candidacies of Iceland and Austria for a seat on the Security Council as representing the Group of “Western Europe and Others” States (the UN WEOG) – this while Austria is part of the EU, and Iceland is not.

The strange thing is that Mr. Janitschek became by the end of that day the second Austrian casualty of the week. As reported – at 7:10 p.m. that evening of Thursday, February 21, he fell to the floor in his room. A coworker, according to his written statement, which Inner City Press has seen, immediately called the UN operator on three occasions “to report what had happened to Mr. Janitschek, however, they could not provide any assistance.” Regular New York City “911” emergency services were not called, due to previous difficulties and delays in them gaining access to the UN campus, which is international territory. Only after UN Security and Safety Services were called directly did anyone appear, and even then, with oxygen equipment that was less than functional.

According to the written account, in which a senior UN Security official was involved, it was fully 24 minutes until Emergency Services Technicians arrived, and by then it was too late. Another reporter on the UN’s press floor at that time states that the ambulance was held for precious minutes at the gate from First Avenue, as for example the bottom of its chassis was inspected with mirrors. The reporter questioned why ambulances responding to medical emergencies are searched for so long.

Was it a heart attack, and the 73 year old Hans Janitscheck was taken out of the UN by an ambulance, apparently too late? The UN was not prepared to handle a medical emergency, and the responding ambulance had to be searched at the 1st Avenue Gate? Is this good reason for a real shake-out of the UN security vs. medical emergency procedures?

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Hans Janitschek
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Thursday night, the room in which Mr. Janitschek had been was strewn with medical emergency detritus.

UN Security said that, in order to conduct an investigation, the room would have to be sealed, so that nothing could be taken, including computer files, the UN security official said. So, another investigation. “One wonders if this investigation will also extend to why ambulances responding to medical emergencies at the UN are searched for so long, and the impact on this case,” asks Matthew Lee. We ask further – is there any further connection between the two cases?

The UN’s Spokesperson – Farhan Haq – put forward, at the end of his Noon Briefing to the press, Friday, February 22, 2008, a completely different report from what was posted by Mr. Matthew Russell Lee:

” ***Correspondent’s Death

Before we go to questions and then to Janos, one sad bit of news: I have to announce that, last night, one of our correspondents, Hans Janitschek, a 73-year-old correspondent for the Kronenzeitung, an Austrian daily paper, appeared to have had a massive heart attack shortly after 7 p.m., while he was working on the third floor. Three UN security officers who are qualified emergency medical technicians immediately performed CPR on Mr. Janitschek until the ambulance arrived. The ambulance attendants continued CPR for a short time and then removed Mr. Janitschek to the ambulance and to the hospital, but he was pronounced dead at 8 p.m.

Mr. Janitschek had covered the UN at different times since 1998. He had just returned a month ago as an accredited correspondent for Kronenzeitung and he was with us at the noon briefing yesterday. We will shortly announce funeral arrangements for Mr. Janitschek, and our thoughts go out to him and his family.”

Comparing the UN statement with the testimony of UN staff present, it can be inferred that the UN is trying to hide the inefficiencies that may have cost Mr. Janitschek’s life. Obviously, an investigation is needed here and as Mr. Janitschek has left behind a wife and two children, if they can prove that the treatment of Mr. Janitschek, after his assumed heart attack, was not up to medical norm because of UN and security constraints, whom can they sue when faced with the UN special sovereign rights vs. the US, Austria, or New York City? Who would be responsible if it is found that the UN does not have appropriate emergency arrangements?

Further, just to show how insufficient are the arrangements between New York City and the UN, I feel here compelled to mention an observation that is of a completely different nature, but I feel very relevant nevertheless.

Friday, February 22, 2008 happened to be one of those rare snow days of this season. In Manhattan the snowfall was six inches. It started at night, and by the time I came to the UN around about 1pm it was about 5 inches. I had difficulty navigating that sidewalk. Buildings in Manhattan have the obligation to clear the snow from sidewalks – but has the city exempted of this obligation the UN? The reality was that by 1pm nothing was done along the long stretch of 1st Avenue between 42nd Street and 48th Street. I do not know if the snow was cleared in the afternoon before it turned into slush. What if someone trips and hurts a knee – or even worse? If they cannot sue the UN – will they sue Mayor Bloomberg? In this city people expect responsibility and are inclined to find redress in courts. Will they sue the US Government? Is there no obligation that the UN has towards its own staff and towards a passer-by from the host country, what about the diplomats – must they be pushed to be driven right into the UN compound?

Now – who was Hans Janitschek?

Born November 6, 1934, he studied law in Austria and in the US. We understand that he studied also at Haverford College and graduated, before 20 years of age, in 1954. He returned then in 1954 to Austria, and became a journalist for Reuter’s and various Austrian newspapers. He was a Free Mason and Socialist, and we were friendly with friends of his from those days.

He entered the diplomatic service in 1963 and in 1964 became Austrian press attaché to the UN in New York, then returned to Austria to become adviser to Bruno Pittermann in 1965 on the subjects of journalism and propaganda. (Bruno Pitterman was an Austrian social democrat politician who was imprisoned by the Nazis. He served as both the chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Austria from 1957 to 1967, and the Vice Chancellor of Austria from 1957 to 1966. From 1964 to 1976, he was president of the Socialist International.) The connection to Bruno Pitterman brought Hans Janitschek into the inner circle of Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky, and he became an Adviser on Foreign Policy to the Chancellor. Eventually Hans Janitschek moved to London as Secretary-General of the Socialist International (SI) 1969-1977. Those were the days of glory of the Trans National Party of Socialists like Willy Brandt, Olof Palme, Bruno Keisky and Mario Soares and the building of the European Community. It was also the turn-around in Portugal.

We found a 1981 article on www.heritage.org (the Washington DC right wing US Heritage Foundation) saying “the Socialist International long stood in the front ranks. Committed to democracy and the West’s tradition of individual liberties, for decades it waged an ideological and political battle against Leninism and other totalitarian variants of Marxism. In recent years, however, the Socialist International has begun to waver in its opposition to communism. Whether inadvertently or by design, the policies and proclamations of the organization seem to be converging, to an alarmin g extent, with those of Moscow on a number of critical matters. By so doing, the Socialist International betrays some of its most fundamental principles.” But let us note that by that time Hans Janitschek was nomore involved with the SI leadership. Under his name on Google, we found that in the 2002 elections in the US, he did contribute financially to the Republican Party of Florida.

Though having started out as a Socialist or Social Democrat, he moved more to the right, and with Austrian Kurt Waldheim as Fourth UN Secretary-General (1972-1981), Hans Janitschek eventually moved to New York and became special assistant to the Assistant Secretary-General for Public Information of the UN 1977-1982 – He was part of the Waldheim Cabinet. Hans Janitschek stayed on as a senior adviser at the UN till 1994 – that is through most of the UNSG days of the Sixth UNSG, Boutros Boutros-Ghali. After that, as “Retired Staff Member” he continued his involvement with the UN. For example, we found that on January 28, 1997, the Under-Secretary General for Administration and Management, in an official announcement to UN staff, appointed Hans Janitschek as Member of the Panel of Counsel at Headquarters, New York, on Assistance and Representation by Counsel in Disciplinary and Appeal Cases. Mr. Kurt Waldheim in the meantime had a stint as Austrian President from 1986 to 1992 and Mr. Janitschek moved further to the right, Eventually he became himself, unsuccessfully, a candidate for President from the most right wing party in the Austrian Parliament.

Hans Janitschek became a prolific writer. To his credit are four biographies – on Mario Soares, Oscar Arias, Hans Dichand and Arnold Schwarzenegger and he served also as President of the UN Society of Writers and Artists.

His journalistic career also bloomed. He was connected to United Press and Reuters, but then to the “Kurier” and “Express” settling eventually with the Kronen Zeitung that, according to Columbia Journalism Review of January 1 2002, with three million readers a day, Austria’s Kronen Zeitung has perhaps the highest per capita circulation of any newspaper in the world. Hans Janitschek was writing from the UN during all those years.

When Hans Janitschek died, Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer, a Socialist, said that Austria has lost a citizen of the world (“Weltburger”) and reminded Austria that the journalist, and UN man of today, was once one of the most important advisers to Bruno Kreisky.

Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik Mentioned Mr. Janitschek’s advocacy, and help, in matters related to Austrian emigrants living not only in the US – but worldwide.

Hans Janitschek was an unusual man with many different involvements at different times in his life. By members of the Austrian community in New York, he is remembered as a faithful member of the “Stammtisch” – that is the institution where you sit with your friends around plates of good food and mugs of beer and talk, on a regularly scheduled meeting time, about things that bother you in daily life and politics. Visitors to New York from Austria used to seek him out in past years.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 25th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

EU encouraged not to cut off moderate Islamists.

24.01.2008 – By Elitsa Vucheva for the EUobserver from Brussels.

The EU should include Mediterranean Arab states run by non-violent Islamist parties in more initiatives aimed at better governance and the development of civil society, as isolating them could lead to the reinforcement of radical Islamism, argues a study presented on Wednesday (23 January).

“Despite frequent assertions of a commitment to engage with moderate Islamists, Western governments have in fact remained reluctant to offer such groups support,” says the study titled Political Islam and European Foreign Policy – Perspectives from Muslim Democrats of the Mediterranean, published by the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS).

“Many talking shops have been convened on ‘Islam and democracy’ and ‘cultural understanding’ between Islam and the West. However, Western governments have declined to provide concrete backing for moderate Islamists engaged in pro-democracy campaigning,” it continues.

It is a “fair point” that the 27-member bloc has been neglecting civil society, said Merete Bilde, a policy advisor from the Council of the EU, underlining that she was speaking in a private capacity.

She added that the EU should start looking at the members of this civil society as genuine agents of reform, regardless of their religious beliefs.

However, the question of how to best approach “political Islam” very much depends on the different member states. Reaching a common EU position on the matter would be very difficult, she noted.

EU losing credibility
Alongside the recommendation that the EU needs to engage more with the so-called “Muslim democrats” of the Middle East and North African countries, the study also examines their views of the EU.

The EU has recently been losing credibility among these states, due in particular to its “procrastination over Turkey’s quest for [EU] accession” and the suspension of aid to the Hamas government in Palestine.

But the 27-nation bloc still has a more favourable reputation than the US in this region, the study notes.

In addition, members of Islamist political groups questioned by the different experts in the study mostly expressed positive views of European democracy, saying it could be used as a reference for their own countries.

The guarantee of freedom of association is particularly attractive to them, according to the document.

On the other hand, they are much less enthusiastic when it comes to liberal civil rights, rejecting in particular the “decline of spirituality, permissive homosexual rights, a certain conception of women’s rights, and the lack of ‘social justice’ judged to be prevalent in European societies”.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 21st, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 REAL EXCITEMENT At THE FINANCIAL TIMES, Further Reporting In The NEW YORK TIMES – ISRAEL TO JUMP-START ELECTRIC CAR MARKET – This and Other Renewables To Decrease Israel’s Dependence On Oil To Near Zero WITHIN ONE DECADE! Program To Start TODAY. RENAULT and NISSAN To Work With The Israelis FOR REAL ELECTRIC, NOT THE HALF-WAY HYBRIDS. SILICON VALLEY PROMOTER SHAI AGASSI and ISRAEL PRESIDENT SHIMON PERES are THE FORCE BEHIND THE $1 Billion PROJECT. “Project Better Place” has calculated that if Israel’s fleet of 2m cars were all electric, they would require 2,000MW of electricity per year, which could be provided by a one-off investment of $5 Billion in solar plants. In future, customers buying long-term recharging packages might even be offered “free” cars, much as some mobile providers offer handsets free of charge. IDAN OFFER IS AN ISRAELI REFINERY OPERATOR – HE INVESTS $100 MILLION AND SAYS THIS IS ISRAEL’S NOKIA. James D. Wolfensohn
is a Minor But Very Excited Investor.

The Crazy Way We Report on the Above Gives Away That At www.SustainabiliTank.info We Are Also Extremely Excited About These Announcements. In effect this is a dream come true for us, if you look at the many postings we have on our Israel button where we pointed out that technology for the reduction of world’s dependence on oil will come eventually from Israel because it is the country that has lost most because of world’s dependence on oil. We had interviews in the last 30 years with many Israeli officials asking them why they do not just make technology and ideas available for the world – FOR FREE – that is not in terms of developing patents for economic gain. Israel would get back in what it would invest in developing such ideas from the savings it could have then in its military expenses. The simple fact being that the perception the world is dependent on Middle East oil is the political burden, and the outflow of funds from the industrialized Nations to the oil exporters of the Middle East is the direct security burden.

Things have seemingly changed. The high cost of oil, the increase in world suffering from terrorism, the decrease in the American super-power status with its US oil-industry pushed negative influence against changing the strangle-hold oil has on our thinking – all this allows now for single bright individual entrepreneurs, to do what has to be done to answer the needs of the moment and of the future as well.

So, there is this confluence between environmental/climate change thinking, fear of flow of funds to potential indeologically or religious extremism driven backers of terrorism, the coming of age of the peak oil theory, and the availability of a small, highly technological and entrepreneurial State.

Mr. Shai Agassi, like his father, is prone to unconventional thinking and has a lot of experience in the cell phone technology and business. His idea is to base the introduction of the electric car on an infrastructure network similar to what was done in the mobile phone business. Idan Offer, did not grow into petroleum refineries because he has a love for oil – for him this is just business and he knows that the name of the game is energy not oil. Energy is solar based not fossil based. The distribution is a stationary network of battery replacement facilities. Shimon Peres, the old visionary has cooked up many ideas for the Israelis and the Middle East – he has had success stories also. Former World Bank Head, James Wolfensohn knows the world inside out and does not just contemplate – if needed he will put his shoulder to push the wagon. He was the one who bought the Israeli hot-houses in the Gaza region and turned them over to the Palestinians who could have started on the road to economic independence – he did provide the way for it and if the Palestinians did not make a go of it – that was not his fault. If this new project he gets involved is a success, the recipients of the benefits will be again not just the Israelis, but much of the rest of the world as well. With Wolfensohn involved we will hear shortly of many of his friends in the international money world coming in also. Who knows, there might even be some funds in Dubai or Hong Kong that will not want to miss an opportunity. We hope, that the timing of the release of these news has something to do with the Davos Economic Forum meeting later this week. We would be surprised if this does not get a threshing out there. We promise to keep our eyes open.

Israel jump-starts electric car market.
By John Reed in London, On The Financial Times online.
Published: January 20 2008 22:21 | Last updated: January 20 2008 22:21

A venture capital-backed plan to be announced on Monday will aim to jump-start the stalled electric vehicles market and make Israel a national laboratory for the world’s first mass roll-out of rechargeable cars.

Renault/ Nissan and startup company Project Better Place, backed by Ehud Olmert’s government, will outline plans to blanket the Jewish state with half a million charging spots and battery-swap stations for electric cars.

Renault is developing an electric sedan to target the Israeli market, and wants to mass-market electric cars there by mid-2011, people briefed on the plan told the Financial Times last week. The carmakers are not commenting on the project ahead of a press conference scheduled for Monday, January 21, 2008.

The scheme will aim to make electric vehicle recharging facilities ubiquitous, and alter the sector’s punishing economics by making the cars’ batteries the property of an outside service provider akin to a mobile-phone infrastructure company. In future, drivers would be able to monitor the battery power remaining in their cars, with in-car software directing them to the nearest place to recharge their cars, or swap their spent batteries for fully recharged ones.

Carlos Ghosn, Renault and Nissan’s chief executive, is championing pure electric vehicles and has expressed scepticism about the hybrid petrol-electric cars promoted by rival carmakers such as Toyota, which he sees as an interim technology.

If successful, the plan could give the carmakers an early advantage in mass-producing electric cars, a growing focus in the industry as lawmakers in Europe, the US and Asia seek to improve cars’ fuel economy and cut their emissions. The scheme’s backing by the Israeli government could, however, prove controversial in the region’s oil-rich countries where Renault does business, including Iran.

Shai Agassi, Project Better Place’s founder, holds Israeli and American citizenship, and had been discussing the plan with Mr Ghosn, President Shimon Peres and other Israeli officials for the past year. Israel’s small size, anxiety about reliance on petroleum, and desire to promote high-tech industries all made it an ideal incubator for the plan, expected to cost about $1bn in total.

However, Mr Agassi has said he is in talks with officials in 15 other countries, including the UK, Denmark, and China. His company is targeting “transportation islands” – actual islands, or geographic regions small or self-contained enough to lend themselves to a dense enough network of recharging infrastructure to make its business plan feasible.

Automakers have to date failed to develop electric cars suitable for the mass market, due in large part to the high costs of the cars’ batteries, which can add $20,000 or more to the price of a vehicle.

The cars’ limited driving ranges, and patchy availability of recharging infrastructure, led to a basic customer-satisfaction issue that one GM executive last week described as “range anxiety.” Electric vehicles have been produced in small production runs, adding to the cost car buyers paid per vehicle.

Project Better Place is proposing to offer drivers “ubiquity of charge” by building about 150,000 recharging spots each located at Israeli workplaces, residences, and public parking spots, to be built over the next 18 months. Mr Agassi’s company will also build about 150 battery swap stations, similar to filling stations, where drivers can exchange their cars’ batteries within five minutes.

Mr Agassi’s company plans to offer driver long-term prepaid packages for recharging which, he said, would sharply bring down the cost of electric cars. In future, customers buying long-term packages might even be offered “free” cars, much as some mobile providers offer handsets free of charge.

Some rival carmakers have expressed scepticism about whether Mr Agassi’s company will be able to swap the cars’ batteries effectively and reliably.

It is also uncertain whether Israelis are prepared to move to shift on a large scale to electric cars.

Israel’s government last week approved generous tax incentives for electric vehicles, apparently aimed at laying the groundwork for the project to be announced on Monday. Other countries around Europe, including Sweden, France, and the UK, have recently begun offering tax incentives for zero-emission vehicles.


Israel plans electric car network.
By Fiona Harvey and John Reed in London and Tobias Buck in Jerusalem

Published, The Financial Times: January 20 2008 23:17 | Last updated: January 20 2008 23:17

Israel will set out plans on Monday to cut drastically its dependence on oil imports, with a private-sector initiative for a nationwide electric car network.

The privately funded plan to build 500,000 recharging points and battery-swap stations for electric cars in the next 18 months has the backing of the government and president, Shimon Peres. Renault and Nissan will develop an electric car with a range of more than 100 miles to be mass-produced from 2011.

Israel jump-starts electric car market – Jan-20

Mr Peres told the Financial Times the plan would cut Israel’s oil imports by half within a few years, and Israel could cut the remainder by building solar energy generating plants. “In one decade, we will not need oil.”

The infrastructure will be built by Project Better Place, a US start-up, which has raised $200m (€137m) for the purpose, enough to cover the initial stages. Further roll-out of the infrastructure and vehicles is expected to add about $800m to the cost.

Electric cars have failed to find mass-market acceptance due to their limited driving ranges, high costs relating to their batteries and small production runs. Project Better Place, founded by Shai Agassi, an Israeli-American, champions a business model that would see the costs of batteries borne by infrastructure companies.

Israel’s government this month approved tax incentives for electric vehicles.

The plan’s government backing could prove a sensitive point in the region’s oil-rich countries, where Renault does business; in Iran it assembles low-cost cars in a joint venture. The company was not available for comment ahead of Monday’s announcement.

Mr Peres made it clear the aim of the project was both economic and political. “The two greatest problems today are oil and terror,” he said. “Oil is the greatest polluter, and the great financer of terror. [Oil-producing nations] make a mockery of democracy.”

By contrast, he saw a bright future for solar energy to replace oil imports: “The sun is permanent, democratic, friendly, and it does not pollute.”

Project Better Place, which has held talks with carmakers other than Renault and Nissan, will also offer prepayment packages for recharging that it claims will bring down the cost of electric cars. It likens itself to the early infrastructure companies that made widespread use of mobile phones possible.

Caroline Öhrn, senior research analyst at Venture Business Research, said: “This may finally kick-start adaptation on a larger scale.” The take-up of electric cars had been inhibited by the lack of recharging sites, she said. “It’s great to own an electric car, but its use is limited if you’re only able to recharge it at home.”

If successful, the Israeli project may also be rolled out in other countries.

Electric cars are regarded as a “green” alternative to petrol or diesel driven vehicles because the only greenhouse gas emissions they produce arise from the generation of the electricity. If this comes from low-carbon sources, the resulting emissions are very low.

Project Better Place has calculated that if Israel’s fleet of 2m cars were all electric, they would require 2,000MW of electricity per year, which could be provided by a one-off investment of $5bn in solar plants.

Israel Is Set to Promote the Use of Electric Cars.

By Steven Erlanger, The New York Times, Published: January 21, 2008.JERUSALEM — Israel, tiny and bereft of oil, has decided to embrace the electric car.

On Monday, the Israeli government will announce its support for a broad effort to promote the use of electric cars, embracing a joint venture between an American-Israeli entrepreneur and Renault and its partner, Nissan Motor Company.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, with the active support of President Shimon Peres, intends to make Israel a laboratory to test the practicality of an environmentally clean electric car. The state will offer tax incentives to purchasers, and the new company, with a $200 million investment to start, will begin construction of facilities to recharge the cars and replace empty batteries quickly.

The idea, said Shai Agassi, 39, the software entrepreneur behind the new company, is to sell electric car transportation on the model of the cellphone. Purchasers get subsidized hardware — the car — and pay a monthly fee for expected mileage, like minutes on a cellphone plan, eliminating concerns about the fluctuating price of gasoline.

Mr. Agassi and his investors are convinced that the cost of running such a car will be significantly cheaper than a model using gasoline (currently $6.28 a gallon here.)

“With $100 a barrel oil, we’ve crossed a historic threshold where electricity and batteries provide a cheaper alternative for consumers,” Mr. Agassi said. “You buy a car to go an infinite distance, and we need to create the same feeling for an electric car — that you can fill it up when you stop or sleep and go an infinite distance.”

Mr. Agassi’s company, Project Better Place of Palo Alto, Calif., will provide the lithium-ion batteries, which will be able to go 124 miles per charge, and the infrastructure necessary to keep the cars going — whether parking meter-like plugs on city streets or service stations along highways, where, in a structure like a car wash, exhausted batteries will be removed and fresh ones inserted.

Renault and Nissan will provide the cars. The chairman of both companies, Carlos Ghosn, is scheduled to attend the announcements on Monday. Other companies are developing electric cars, like the Tesla and Chevrolet Volt, but the project here is a major step for Renault, which clearly believes that there is a commercial future in electric cars.

Israel, where the round-trip commute between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is only 75 miles, is considered a good place to test the idea, which Mr. Agassi, Renault and Nissan hope to copy in small countries like Denmark and crowded cities like London, Paris, Singapore and New York. London, which has a congestion area tax for cars, lets electric cars enter downtown and park free.

Project Better Place’s major investor, Idan Ofer, 52, has put up $100 million for the project and is its board chairman. He will remain chairman of Israel Corporation Ltd., a major owner and operator of shipping companies and refineries. “What’s driving me is a much wider outlook than Israel,” Mr. Ofer said. “If it were just Israel, I’d be cannibalizing my refinery business. I’m not so concerned about the refineries, but building a world-class company. If Israel will ever produce a Nokia, it will be this.”

Mr. Ofer has his eye on China, with its increasing car penetration, oil consumption and environmental pollution, where he has interest from a Chinese car company, Chery, for a similar joint venture.

Renault will offer a small number of electric models of existing vehicles, like the Megane sedan, at prices roughly comparable to gasoline models. The batteries will come from Mr. Agassi. The tax breaks for “clean” electric vehicles, which Israel promises to keep until at least 2015, will make the cars cheaper to consumers than gasoline-engine cars. “You’ll be able to get a nice, high-end car at a price roughly half that of the gasoline model today,” Mr. Agassi said.

He contends that operating expenses will be half of those for gasoline-driven vehicles, especially in Europe and Israel, where gasoline taxes are high. The company, and the consumers who use it, will normally recharge their batteries at night, when the electricity is cheapest, and they expect the batteries to have a life of 7,000 charges, though Mr. Agassi says he is counting on only 1,500 charges, which is roughly 150,000 miles, the life of the average car.

“Because the price of gasoline fluctuates so much during the life of a car, it’s hard to predict the cost basis for driving,” Mr. Agassi said. “But electricity fluctuates less, and you can buy it in advance, so I can give you a guaranteed price per mile, cheaper than the price of gas today.”

Mr. Agassi predicts that a few thousand electric cars will be on Israeli roads in 2009 and 100,000 by the end of 2010; Israel has two million cars on the road, and about 10 percent are replaced each year.

Mr. Agassi suggested this model for the electric car — concentrating on infrastructure rather than on car production — at a 2006 meeting of the Saban Forum of the Brookings Institution, which Mr. Peres attended. He was enthralled by the idea.

Mr. Peres, who is sometimes dismissed as a dreamer by more cynical Israelis, has in the past embraced and helped to develop some successful notions — like Israel’s nuclear weapons program. He is a strong believer in Israel’s mission to better the world, he says, and not simply sell arms to it. Israel is the 11th-largest arms exporter, as measured by dollar sales, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Mr. Peres, who knew Mr. Agassi’s father, said in an interview that after hearing Shai Agassi speak: “I called him in and said, ‘Shai, now what?’ I said that now is the time for him to implement his idea, and I spoke to our prime minister and other officials and convinced them that this is a great opportunity.”

“Oil is becoming the greatest problem of our time,” Mr. Peres said in an interview in his office. Not only does it pollute, but “it also supports terror and violence from Venezuela to Iran.”

“Israel can’t become a major industrial country, but it can become a daring world laboratory and a pilot plant for new ideas, like the electric car,” he said.

Mr. Peres sees this project as part of his “green vision” for Israel, arguing that what the nation may lose in tax revenue it will save in oil. He also supports a larger investment in solar power, saying that “the Saudis don’t control the sun.”

Mr. Ofer wants profits, but also thinks the project will help the environment, especially in developing countries. “China is on a very dangerous march from bicycles to cars without any notion of what they’re doing to this planet in terms of air,” he said.

And in Mumbai, he said, “you can’t even see the sky.”

James D. Wolfensohn, the former World Bank president, is a modest investor in the project.
“Israel is a perfect test tube” for the electric car, he said. “The beauty of this is that you have a real place where you can get real human reactions. In Israel they can control the externalities and give it a chance to flourish or fail. It needs to be tested, and Agassi is to be commended for testing it and the Israeli government for trying it.”

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Israel Looks to Electric Cars
Sunday, Jan. 20, 2008
By BARBARA KIVIAT

israel_cars_0118.jpg

Traffic snakes its way from Haifa south to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
URIEL SINAI / GETTY
ARTICLE TOOLS

The Israeli government announced a major initiative to push the nation’s drivers toward electric cars on Monday, a move meant to both lessen dependence on foreign oil and address the environmental and health hazards of gas-burning vehicles.
It is not the first time a government has tried to promote electric cars on a mass scale. A 1990 California mandate requiring automakers to sell zero-emissions vehicles famously flopped. But the Israeli attempt is far more sophisticated than anything that precedes it. It aligns policy makers and a major car company with an outfit prepared to build hundreds of thousands of electric charging stations across the country. In an interview with TIME, Israeli President Shimon Peres called the project, “an experimental lab, a pilot project, before it’s applied to other, bigger industrialized nations.”
Automaker Renault-Nissan will manufacture the cars and Better Place, a California start-up founded by former SAP executive Shai Agassi, will build the infrastructure, which may eventually consist of 500,000 charging points and up to 200 battery-exchange stations. A pilot involving a few dozen cars will start later this year in Tel Aviv. A few hundred vehicles are expected to be on the road by 2009, with production scaled to the mass market by 2011. On Jan. 13, Israel slashed the tax rate on cars powered by electricity to 10% in order to encourage consumers to buy the vehicles once they are available.
The idea to take Israel electric was born in a white paper that Agassi, an Israeli native who now lives in the United States, wrote as part of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders forum. Peres was impressed and encouraged Agassi to pursue the project as a stand-alone business, helping to introduce the software-industry executive to auto executives, including Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault-Nissan. The Japanese-French auto alliance has separately said that it will manufacture a hybrid by 2010 and an all-electric car by 2012.
Electric cars, which have existed for more than 100 years, are becoming all the rage — both GM and Toyota have said they will manufacture plug-in hybrids by 2010. But Agassi’s plan stands out because it focuses on the infrastructure for recharging cars instead of on the vehicles themselves.
Battery technology has advanced markedly in the past few years, yet an electrically powered family-style car still can’t go much farther than 100 miles on a charge, and once a battery is drained it takes hours to power back up. Agassi’s solution: take the battery out of the car and make it part of the infrastructure. Agassi was being shown a battery at Tesla Motors, a California-based company developing its own electric car, when the thought struck him. “I’m looking at this thing,” says Agassi, “and I’m thinking, ‘Oh, I get it. This is oil. This is not the gas tank. It’s the gas.'”
In practice, that means consumers will buy cars from Renault-Nissan, then subscribe to a Better Place service that includes use of a battery and electricity from charging stations. The business model, Agassi says, is similar to how a mobile phone company sells airtime. Agassi figures that if he adds electrical outlets to at least 500,000 of Israel’s three to four million parking spots, people will feel like they can charge their cars whenever they need to. Since most people seldom drive more than 100 miles at a time, wiring workplaces and public spaces like shopping malls should keep most cars juiced. For longer drives, customers will be able to pull into a battery-swap station and get a fresh battery. Better Place, and not individual drivers, owns the batteries, which should keep the price of the cars comparable to gas-powered vehicles.
Even though full implementation is years away and not everyone is convinced the plan will work — Israel’s chief scientist says the plan is heavy on ideas but light on R&D and existing technology — the idea has already sparked interest elsewhere. Agassi says he is speaking to 15 other countries, many of which, like Israel, relish the idea of reducing their dependency on the world’s oil-producing nations. Idan Ofer, chairman of Israel Corp., the Tel Aviv-based industrials conglomerate that provided Better Place with half of its $200 million funding, has his sights set on China. Israel Corp. already has a joint venture with the Chinese automaker Chery, and if Agassi’s plan works in Israel, says Ofer, “it will work even better in China. Their pollution is killing them and the rest of us, too.”
with reporting by Tim McGirk/Jerusalem

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 6th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Monday, Jan. 7, 2008

Hope and betrayal in Kenya.

By GWYNNE DYER as picked up on The Japan Times.

LONDON — More than two years ago, when Kenya’s current opposition leader, Raila Odinga, quit President Mwai Kibaki’s government, I (that is Gwynne Dwyer) wrote the following: “The trick will be to get Kibaki out without triggering a wave of violence that would do the country grave and permanent damage. . . . Bad times are coming to Kenya.”

The bad times have arrived, but the violence that has swept Kenya since the stolen election Dec. 27 is not just African “tribalism.” Kikuyus have been the main target of popular wrath and non-Kikuyu protesters have been the principal victims of the security forces, but this confrontation is about trust betrayed, hopes dashed, and patience strained to the breaking point.

Nobody wants a civil war in Kenya, but it’s easy to see why Raila Odinga rejects calls from abroad to accept the figures for the national vote that were announced last Dec. 30. If Odinga enters a “government of national unity” under Kibaki, as the African Union and the United States want, then he’s back in the untenable situation that he was in until 2005, and Kibaki will run Kenya for another five years.

If Odinga leaves it to Kenya’s courts to settle, the result will be the same: There have been no verdicts yet on disputed results that went to the courts after the 2002 election. So when the opposition leader was asked by the BBC if he would urge his supporters to calm down, he replied: “I refuse to be asked to give the Kenyan people an anesthetic so that they can be raped.”

Despite the ugly scenes of recent days, Kenya is not an ethnic tinderbox where people automatically back their own tribe and hate everyone else. For example, it is clear that more than half the people who voted Mwai Kibaki into the presidency in the 2002 election were not of his own Kikuyu tribe, because the Kikuyu, although they are the biggest tribe, only account for 22 percent of the population.

Kibaki’s appeal was the promise of honest government after 24 years of oppressive rule, rigged elections and massive corruption under the former president, Daniel arap Moi. If he had been just another thug in a suit, most Kenyans would have put up with Kibaki’s subsequent behavior in the same old cynical way, but his victory was seen as the dawn of a new Kenya where the bad old ways no longer reigned. It is his abuse of their high hopes that makes the current situation so emotional.

By 2005, Kibaki’s dependence on an inner circle of fellow Kikuyu politicians was almost total and the corruption was almost as bad as it had been under Moi.

British ambassador Sir Edward Clay accused Kibaki’s ministers of arrogance and greed that led them to “eat like gluttons” and “vomit on the shoes” of foreign donors and the Kenyan people. The biggest foreign donors, the U.S., Britain and Germany, suspended their aid to the country in protest against the corruption.

Most of the leading reformers quit Kibaki’s government in 2005, and in the weeks before last month’s election their main political vehicle, the Orange Democratic Movement, had a clear lead in the polls. That lead was confirmed in the parliamentary vote Dec. 27, which saw half of Kibaki’s Cabinet ministers lose their seats and give the opposition a clear majority in Parliament.

The presidential vote was another matter. Raila Odinga won an easy majority in six of Kenya’s eight provinces, but in Central, the Kikuyu heartland, the results were withheld until long after the vote had been announced for more remote regions. Observers were banned from the counting stations in Central and the central tallying room in Nairobi, and on Dec. 30 Samuel Kivuitu, the chairman of the electoral commission, declared that Kibaki had won the national vote by just 232,000 votes in a nation of 34 million.

It stank to high heaven. Ridiculously high turnouts were claimed for polling stations in Central — larger than the total of eligible voters, in some cases — and 97.3 percent of the votes there allegedly went to Kibaki. It was an operation designed to return Kibaki to office while preserving a facade of democratic credibility, but no foreign government except the U.S. congratulated Kibaki on his “victory” — not even African ones — and local people were not fooled.

Within two days Samuel Kivuitu retracted his declaration of a Kibaki victory, saying the electoral commission had come under unbearable pressure from the government: “I do not know who won the election. . . . We are culprits as a commission. We have to leave it to an independent group to investigate what actually went wrong.”

But Kibaki is digging in, and innocent Kikuyus — many of whom did NOT vote for Kibaki, despite the announced results — are being attacked by furious people from other tribes.

Meanwhile, the police and army obey Kibaki’s orders and attack non-Kikuyu protesters. It is not Odinga who needs to accept the “result” in order to save Kenya from calamity; it is Kibaki who needs to step down.

He probably won’t, in which case violence may claim yet another African country. But don’t blame it on mere “tribalism.” Kenyans are not fools, and they know they have been betrayed.

Gwynne Dyer is a London-based journalist.

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The Way The UN Reported on the Kenya Event in Its Official Daily News:

UN DAILY NEWS from the
UNITED NATIONS NEWS SERVICE
4 January, 2008 =========================================================================

250,000 KENYANS DISPLACED BY POST-ELECTORAL VIOLENCE, UN ESTIMATES.

Some 250,000 Kenyans are now estimated to have been displaced by post-electoral violence, United Nations humanitarian officials reported today, as the world body’s independent human rights experts voiced deep concern at the ethnic dimension of the conflict.

Overall, between 400,000 and 500,000 people have been affected by the conflict.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke by telephone today with both President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, and called on them to resolve their issues through dialogue. The violence, which has reportedly claimed more than 300 lives, erupted after Mr. Kibaki was declared the winner of last week’s poll. Mr. Ban also spoke with Ghanaian President John Kufuor, current chairman of the African Union.

Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) reported that virtually all movement of food for both western Kenya and the entire region, including Uganda, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), was frozen for days due to the insecurity.

The 14 human rights experts, covering issues ranging from racism to sexual violence to freedom of belief, deplored the growing inter-ethnic conflict, citing the deaths of dozens of civilians, including children and women, after a mob set fire to a church where they had taken sanctuary.

“We are profoundly alarmed by the reports of incitement to racial hatred and the growing frictions between the different ethnic groups,” they said in a statement calling on the authorities, political, ethnic and religious leaders to put an end “to what may become the dynamics of inter-ethnic killings… in the light of historical precedents in the region.”

Rwanda, to the west of Kenya, was the scene of genocide in 1994, when ethnic Hutu extremists massacred some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Ethnic conflict between Hutus and Tutsis has also killed hundreds of thousands of people over the past four decades in Burundi, Rwanda’s southern neighbour.

In a litany of “great concern,” the experts said the massive displacement, especially in the Rift Valley, threatened the right to food, health, housing and education. They also cited reports of gang rapes and the attendant likelihood of HIV infection and reported curbs on free expression, in particular a ban on live coverage of events.

“While we recognize the prerogative and duty of the Kenyan authorities to maintain public order, we are, however, alarmed by reported instances of use of excessive force by Kenyan security forces against demonstrators and other civilians,” they added.

“We urge the incumbent Kenyan authorities to take all necessary steps and measures to bring an end to the present situation, including by addressing appropriately questions raised with regard to the latest election results. We also call upon the leaders of political parties to show restraint and control over their followers and supporters.”

WFP will shortly provide food through the Kenya Red Cross for 100,000 people displaced in the Northern Rift Valley, but it said: “The biggest problem is the difficulty for trucks carrying WFP food to reach areas in western Kenya.”

Some 200 trucks were loaded with WFP food in the Kenyan port of Mombasa from a ship that arrived over Christmas carrying 30,000 metric tons – enough to feed 1.5 million people for a month – for Uganda, southern Sudan, Somalia and the eastern DRC. The food for Somalia will be sent by sea, but the rest has to go by land, WFP said.

Some trucks left Mombasa but then were stranded due to insecurity on main roads and checkpoints set up by vigilantes in western Kenya. Fifteen trucks are stranded in or near Nairobi, 60 in Mombasa and others in Eldoret, near the site of the church massacre. Each truck carries 34 tons of food. “WFP is holding urgent talks to resolve this issue and get food to those who need it in Kenya and elsewhere,” the agency said.

Kenyan security forces recently escorted 20 WFP trucks carrying food for north-western Kenya, southern Sudan, Uganda and the DRC, but the insecurity and roadblocks are still hampering humanitarian access.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is trying to establish so-called “safe spaces” for displaced mothers and children, provide water and sanitation to over 100,000 people, and distribute family kits to supply up to 100,000 people with blankets, plastic sheeting, cooking sets, soap and jerry cans.

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The Dwyer article just validates our previous posting on the Kenya and of the UN problems.

Kenya will not be helped from the outside as long as the UN does not recognize the fact that the Head of State they deal with – Kenya’s President is the culprit. People will get killed because of this UN lack of honesty. Saying that this is like Rwanda, as we already wrote, is simply dodging the reality that Kibaki must be told he has to go – like Musharraf must be told he has to go. The UN was never able to take such positions and to make such statements – so it will be unfair to claim that it is because of the Libyan Presidency of the Security Council. Will Mr. Ban Ki-moon take steps in private that can be helpful, or his private contacts are no different from those stated words.

Time will tell – but according to other news we picked up in the media, the Western town of Kisumu, a town of 500,000, third largest in Kenya, is being ravaged. This is a town where the main Street is called after Mr Odinga’s father – Oginga Odinga – and people here got furious when they realized that the election was stolen by the President.

In effect the platform of Raila   Odinga’s “Orange Democratic Movement” is nothing else then a revival of the party that won the 2002 elections for Mr. Kibaki – only to see that once elected he forgot its multi-tribal composition that was intended to create a Kenyan National image, and for all practical purpose turned the country over to his Kikuyu tribe.

Odinga, and others, left the government in 2005 and prepared for the new elections in 2007. They thought they won on the basis of returns from all regions except the Central region where the Kikuyus live. Kibaki delayed the release of the votes from that region, and furtively swore himself in for another 5 years. Hell broke lose, and most probably now, besides having to get Mr. Kibaki to let in foreign observers to supervise new elections, it will also be needed to write a new Constitution that gives more power to the tribes and the regions – this in order to answer some of the needs created by the last 5 years of Kibaki’s rule in Kenya. Kenya attempted to become a real State that was going to be above tribalism, but the Kikuyus destroyed this by the attempt to rule alone – think of the Sunnis in Iraq! This sort of behavior does not succeed when you are an absolute minority, and now there will have to be made an attempt to go back to some sort of Federal System that can take away the thorns that Kibaki will leave behind.

And the UN? As long as the UN presence continues in Nairobi, there will be the need for the UN to voice suggestions for a   positive approach to move the country from the present rot. Actually, December 2006 people at the UN in Nairobi saw things coming – so why was no attempt made to Show Kibaki that he is mounting a hill of problems by giving all to just those that belong to his tribe, the main tribe that resides in the area of the Capital. The UN could have informed him that similar situations caused disaster in other post-colonial States in Africa. The US sent to Kenya Ms. Jendayi E. Frazer, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, that will have to bring the two contenders for leadership into the same room and have them negotiate a settlement. To shuttle between them will just prolong the killings. It is important to realize that the problem is still political, and yet not really a full blown ethnic conflict and it better be tackled before it gets worse.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 5th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Slovenia is a 2 million-people State – one of the smaller States in the EU, but it will hold the EU presidency January-June 2008. Usually in such a case one of the bigger Member States helps out by providing from their professional staff when the leading country requires help. This time we assumed for granted that the help will come from Austria, and that is why we looked with surprise on the Financial Times report that it will be the French that will provide this help. Considering that France will hold the EU presidency for the second half of 2008, above makes sense indeed.

We look at these arrangements because of our interest in the G8 meeting in Japan, in July, and the meeting in Poznan of COP14 to the UNFCCC. Both these events, among other things,   will be extremely important on the follow up to Bali – or on creating an alternate system for the post 2012 arrangements on global warming. What the Financial Times article says that France wants to get back Center Stage in Europe and move also into the driver’s seat on the environmental questions and climate change – so doing it uninterrupted, at least   for the full year, makes sense. 2006 was a UK year and 2007 was a German Year on these topics, 2008 promises thus to be a French year.

france002.gif

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 3rd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Africa – Rich nations attacked for failing Congo.
By Frances Williams in Geneva, for the Financial Times,   January 2 2008.

The head of the United Nations refugee agency has accused the rich world of failing to respond adequately to the humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, even as its multinationals “systematically loot” the country of its resources.

In an interview with the FT shortly after his return from the DRC, António Guterres, UN high commissioner for refugees, said western assistance came nowhere near meeting people’s needs in a vast country where continuing instability and widespread poverty had created one of the worst humanitarian situations in the world.

Mr Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister, attributed this neglect in part to the fact that, unlike Iraq, Afghanistan or even Somalia, misery in the DRC involved no perceived threat to western governments.

“While multinational corporations extract the country’s natural resources, governments around the world have done little to address the needs of the Congolese people suffering from conflict and poverty,” he said.   He actually stoped very short from using the word looting.  www.SustainabiliTank.info comment)

“Even if we face a humanitarian disaster, as in North Kivu where there has been a dramatic increase in violence, nobody in the outside world feels threatened and so the international community is not really paying attention to DRC.”

Aid groups say 3m-4m people in the DRC, a country with a population of about 60m, have died in recent years as a result of conflict, poverty and disease. While most of the country is now stable – the civil war ended in 2003 and UN-supervised elections were held in 2006 – 400,000 people have been uprooted in the past 12 months by a resurgence of violence in the eastern province of North Kivu.

The UN estimates that 800,000 people have been displaced in North Kivu, which has also seen violence against women, including rape and mutilation, reach terrifying proportions.

Although international agencies and donor governments are providing some assistance, and the UN has mounted its biggest-ever force of some 16,500 peacekeepers, this is small in comparison with needs, Mr Guterres says. He points to the sheer size of the DRC – about four times that of France – and the high cost of operating there, given a lack of infrastructure that requires everything to be transported by aircraft.

Failure to improve living conditions would put at risk the democratic process and could threaten regional stability, he warned.

“One of the most frustrating things is to see a country in which you had [successful] elections but then you have to say to people: nothing can be improved in the next few months, even in the next few years, in infrastructure, in water, in sanitation, in health, in education, in jobs. And so the population starts to ask itself whether democracy has any value.

“Think about the amount of resources that have been taken out of this country. Lots of companies operate in DRC, taking out its resources, in many circumstances, without a minimum respect for any rules. The international community has systematically looted DRC and we should not forget that.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 22nd, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/eo20071222a1.html
Saturday, Dec. 22, 2007, WRONG APPROACH TO AFRICA, by David Howell, former UK Minister and Now Member Of The House of Lords, for The Japan Times.

LONDON — An acrimonious summit meeting between EU leaders and the leaders of African countries ended last week in Lisbon. The EU was trying to offer the Africans a new trade deal, but many of the African representatives argued that the deal would make them worse off, not better off. They denounced European efforts as a continuation of colonialism that would “amputate” African state budgets and ruin African industries.

The atmosphere was further soured by the presence of Robert Mugabe, who has brought his own nation of Zimbabwe to its knees in a frenzy of repression — a living symbol of human rights abuse who ought never to have been invited to the gathering. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown stayed away from the event in protest.

It was not meant to be like this. The declared intention of the European Union policymakers in Brussels was to wash away postcolonial guilt, forge a new strategic partnership and open a new development chapter for the peoples of 76 former European colonies, 40 of them former British colonies and the others mostly part of the Francophone group.

The central idea was to offer these countries better preferential tariffs on their exports into EU states than what they’ve enjoyed for more than 40 years and, in return, to require the African economies to cut their tariffs on the import of European goods. The new deals were to be presented as so-called Economic Partnership Agreements.

This stuck in African throats. They did not see the concept as one of partnership, and 10 of them refused point-blank to sign up, including major participants South Africa, Nigeria, Zambia and Senegal. For them it was tantamount to exposing their infant industries to fierce European competition and, in the words of one leader, “slamming the door on development.”

Poorer countries of Africa, they insisted, with their weak and fledgling economies, need more protection, not less. They also claimed that the EPAs would damage African trade with Pacific countries.

Behind the European approach was a deeper fear — namely that Europe is losing its influence on the African continent to the Chinese. The Chinese are indeed everywhere in Africa these days with ready cash and no strings attached, “sweet” and easy agreements to provide infrastructure, as well as weapons and military support. Their products are also highly competitive with European goods.

As one delegate put it “For the price of one European car, you can buy two Chinese cars.”

Why was the European approach so clumsy? At root are two major flaws in EU policy. The first is to push the theory of absolutely free trade too far and too fast and to ignore the practical realities of development in very impoverished economies. A belief lingers in official minds in Europe that protection in all circumstances is bad and must be swept aside. Inequalities in trade relations, they appear to believe, can be compensated for with large aid packages.

This completely overlooks the fact that much of Europe’s own industry grew under cover of protective tariffs and that without a certain amount of well-focused tariff protection, the infant industries in Africa’s struggling economies will just never take off. It also overlooks the glaring fact that most of Europe’s agriculture is still protected by high tariffs, subsidies and quotas.

The second and much deeper fallacy is that Africa is a bloc or that Europe is a bloc, and that by putting the two together, face to face, trade and development solutions can be found.

Not only is the geographical continent of Africa a conglomeration of vastly diverse societies and cultures, each with its own unique problems that require understanding and solutions. But on the European side interests vary and a real unity of approach is lacking.

The proposition that if the EU countries all stick together they will always carry greater weight in trade negotiations — with America, China, Japan or anybody else — sounds superficially true.

In practice, and in the modern global context, it could well be that bilateral negotiations and bargains — say between Britain and Nigeria, or France and Senegal, or Germany and South Africa — could create more business opportunities and generate more growth than mighty deals between the whole of Europe and the whole of Africa — which anyway are proving impossible to achieve except in general, watered-down terms that have little impact on Africa’s starving millions.

The one area where a united European approach might really help African states is in promoting techniques of plain good governance and in standing up strongly for human rights at every opportunity. That would at least help distinguish European engagement from Chinese involvement, which hitherto has shown itself to be somewhat blind to human rights matters and to the records of regimes being assisted and supported.

By letting Mugabe come to the Lisbon table, the Portuguese government, the summit host as holder of the EU presidency (shortly to pass to Slovenia), made a colossal error of judgment. They have sent the clear signal that even in this vital area the EU, while it may talk of putting human rights at the top of the agenda, in practice has no principled position and is ready to hob-nob with dictators and men of darkness. The misplaced ambition to show that the EU is a big shot and has a central place on the world stage has pushed aside common sense and practical measures.

And that is a tragedy both for Africa and for Europe.

David Howell is a former British Cabinet minister and former chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. He is now a member of the House of Lords  www.lordhowell.com).

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 22nd, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Most Important Lesson From Bali – The Appearance Of A New Leader From Just One Important Country Produces Wonders – Will The UN Learn And Postpone The Poznan COP? Australia’s Kevin Rudd did it! Not Just Al Gore.

This posting is intended as an in depth advice to the leaders of the UN, the UNFCCC, the EU, Poland and Denmark.

Look – it was the appearance of a new Prime-Minister from Australia, Mr. Kevin Rudd, that created the momentum that saved the Bali event from its well advertised destiny – a clear failure. It was not a failure because of the open stand taken by a new Australia. The timing of the Australian elections was fortunate – the result was not sure, but it was clear that one way or the other, it would bring better clarity to where the multi-Nation deliberations were going.

The COP 14 of the UNFCCC is planned for December 2008 – that is after the US Presidential elections, and one way or the other – the US delegation will have less authority then a lame-duck delegation. Why have a predictable fiasco in the making while a much more solid meeting could be envisioned with the real boss of America at the table? Oh! yes – we wrote about a US II delegation headed by a President-in-Waiting delegation. There was precedent – but it is not as efficient as having the real leadership of the US present. We know that for several years the US is not represented at these meetings by a delegation representing the majority of its population, but then the majority of the UN Membership is neither.

But this time it is different. The real boss will be a Democrat that will effectuate a clean brake from the present Administration, or a Republican who will seriously deviate from the present broken leadership of his country.

In either case the US will stop being a by-stander having to be asked to step aside and stop blocking the “roadway.”

The US is destined to become a leader – as we said so many times – because of US business being interested in reconnecting with the world at large. These folks, in addition to those who look at climate change as an environmental issue – will after January 20, 2008 take over the White House and as said aim at putting the US back in the leaders chair where the country belongs indeed. Everybody can see this by now.

So, it is up to the EU to talk this over with Poland and Denmark and then go to the UN and ask for the UNFCCC to change the COP 14 (Poznan) date – then perhaps the COP 15 date (Copenhagen), if this be needed, could also be moved to the beginning of 2010 rather then the end of 2009, or at least to the mid-December 2009 time spot in order to preserve the magic of the 2009 figure.

Also, as there is no leadership at present at the UN Commission On Sustainable Development, the UN CSD, it really should be the EU to step forward, in spite of the unpleasant Zimbabwe Chairmanship of that body, tell the UN that it sees the importance of reviving this presently moribund UN limb – so it is ready to participate at the 2009 UNFCCC Copenhagen table as a locus where much of the execution of adaptation and mitigation in the middle- and lower-developing countries will be picked up. By that time, with Zimbabwe gone, even the more reticent EU members will be able to return and see what programs they can have with Africa, for instance. A new Secretary of the CSD, a person that has the background to bridge between the sides – viscerally-good and protestation-bad – has to be in place already by 2008, in order to pull this off.

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