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

The Euro-Mediterranean Centre on Climate Change is glad to inform you on updates of news and stories around Climate Science&Policy.

What really happened in Lima? Climate Science & Policy: news, stories and updates.

[CENTRO EURO-MEDITERRANEO PER I CAMBIAMENTI CLIMATICI - CMCC -
un Consorzio di istituti di ricerca e università italiane che punta
ad approfondire le conoscenze scientifiche nel campo della variabilità climatica.]

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A different view on COP 20
Carlo Carraro comments the outcomes of the COP20 in this post taken from his blog: “The emphasis on emission reductions somehow obscures the real issue at the core of the COP 20 negotiations (that will be at the core of COP 21 as well)”.
 www.cmcc.it/article/a-different-v…

Climate talks: what was agreed in Lima
As expected, the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties in Lima wrapped up with a compromise text, a road map pushing for 2015 deal in Paris
 www.cmcc.it/article/lima-climate-…

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Many comments on the outcome of the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP 20) recently held in Lima have already been circulated. Most commentators focus on the broad consensus to adopt national commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). Some of them highlights the important benefits of reaching such broad consensus, even though not yet on ambitious mitigation targets. Others complain about the distance between existing commitments and the mitigation effort needed to maintain future temperature increase below the 2°C degree target. All of them agree on the crucial role of COP 21 in Paris to reach a final agreement on both ambitious Individually Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) and on an effective verification system to compare these mitigation efforts.

This emphasis on emission reductions somehow obscures the real issue at the core of the COP 20 negotiations (that will be at the core of COP 21 as well), namely the difficulty of agreeing on the resources that must be devoted to achieve mitigation targets, on their distribution across different world regions, on the mechanisms to fund the huge investments that will be necessary for both mitigation and adaptation.

The discussion in Lima was centered on the Green Climate Fund, established in Copenhagen in 2009, but the debate was more on distributional issues (how much will developing countries receive and how much will they contribute) rather than on efficiency issues (how best can the fund be used).

The Green Climate Fund
While there have been some murmurings of the need to focus on technology development, technology transfer and capacity building, the climate finance debate has been overtaken by the Green Climate Fund. How much should be given? Should quantitative limits be set? Should there be a legally binding system? Since there was so much focus on the Fund, it is encouraging to see that the first real milestone in this process – USD 10.2 billion pledged by the end of 2014 – has been achieved. Further, since 50% of the Green Climate Fund is to be allocated to adaptation measures, the prominence of adaptation in the COP 20 agenda should be welcomed. Specifically, the promise that a “loss and damage” scheme would be introduced to help poorer countries cope with the financial implications of a warming planet. Despite these steps forward, the funding required to decarbonize the global economy by 2050, address adaptation and meet the rising cost of loss and damage caused by extreme weather events, will be in the region of trillions of dollars over the upcoming decades. As such, the Green Climate Fund, even when it will hopefully reach the USD 100 billions in 2020, will be far from covering both the required investments in adaptation to deal with the impacts of ongoing climate change, particularly in developing countries, and the costs to support the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Policy signals:

One of government’s main roles in enabling climate finance is to send a clear, consistent, long-term signal to investors that there is a safe market for low-carbon technologies. There is a great deal of aversion to be overcome in this respect. Currently, low-carbon technologies are perceived to come only at a short to medium term trade off with economic growth.

This misconception (built into many model assessments) is based on the assumption that economies are perfectly efficient. As a result, any climate change policy is expected to lead to short and medium term costs. However, in reality, many such policies, particularly technology policies, in fact reduce market failures and the rigidities that lead to inefficient allocation of resources.

This understanding was woefully overlooked at COP20. Indeed, the very fact that governments spent so much time publicly quibbling over what to implement is signal enough to the private sector that investments in low-carbon technologies may not be supported by a sound policy environment (e.g. by a tax internalizing carbon externalities).

Some nations even went to say that private sector needs to be the driving force behind the transition. While developments in private sector do anticipate policy, their success is often dependent on a fertile policy environment.

As such, Brazil strongly cautioned against too strong a reliance on the private sector.

Even Australia was able to recognize the need to motivate businesses.

Kick-starting innovation:

There are two channels that governments can exploit to provide these policy signals.

First, government needs to stimulate innovation. Innovation is key to a low-carbon future. OECD projections of population growth indicate that population will increase from 7 billion people (2010) to more than 9 billion people (2050). With this, global GDP will nearly quadruple, requiring 80% more energy. To sustain this growth, energy must be mostly generated in a carbon neutral or low carbon manner.

At COP20, countries were asked to support all low-carbon technologies and not pick winners. Even so, each country demonstrated its aversions to specific technologies, notably nuclear and carbon capture and storage (CCS).The main way to incentivize innovation in low-carbon technologies is to put a price on carbon.

Carbon pricing is one of the strongest signals that governments can send to say they are serious about low-carbon. Not only does this provide a way – if effectively implemented – of progressively moving away from fossil fuel energy, it also provides financial benefits. Lobbying and sideline action abounded with pressure to develop carbon pricing mechanisms. Like the drop of water on stone, this is making an impact nation by nation. However, no concrete progress came forth from COP20 on this, even though important signals came from the UN Summit in New York last September and much more will emerge in 2015 in preparation to COP 21.

Investing:

Second, governments need to look to how and when they invest in low-carbon solutions. No public sector actors are yet fully successful in setting regulation, incentives, co-investment, risk-sharing instruments or other policy measures. Most developed countries firmly opposed internationally accountable commitments to climate finance.

Switzerland notably refused legally binding aims. Part of the unanimous aversion to strong investment is the fear that policies would require prolonged public sector support for low-carbon technologies. This assumption ignores the fact that government only needs to promote low-carbon innovation for a limited time. Just long enough to kick-start the low-carbon pathway. Once the technology is rolling along this path, the economy will be locked-in to low-carbon and there is no need for further regulatory intervention.

Another investment deterrent is the presumed high-cost, low-return nature of low-carbon energy. However, the higher upfront costs in low-carbon technologies are offset by avoiding the operating and financing costs that characterize fossil fuel energy. And by the increasing benefits of reducing GHG emissions and therefore the concrete, very costly, negative impacts of climate change on our economies.

The Lima Legacy:

COP20 concluded with a document that called for an “ambitious agreement” in 2015 that considers the “differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” of each nation. This common-but-differentiated-responsibilities approach has characterized climate change talks since 1992. It reflects the strong divide and attribution of responsibility that still exists between poor and rich nations. Meek language asking countries merely to go beyond their “current undertaking” on climate action does not instill you with confidence that any of the INDCs that will be announced over the first quarter of 2015 will be sufficient to keep the globe within the 2°C limit.

Perhaps, there is hope in the fact that some of the desired measures indicated above can be developed without the need for international agreements.

Even so, at the moment, none of these issues that will really make a difference in the effective deployment and use of climate finance have been seriously addressed by COP 20.

Much of this is unsurprising. Asking 194 countries to find consensus on the many issues implicated in climate change – not only climate finance – is, as UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres puts it, “very, very challenging”. Therefore, the resulting “range of key decisions agreed and action-agendas launched, including how to better scale up and finance adaptation” should be welcomed. However, as ever, we cannot let complacency take root and must maximize the pressure for the forthcoming INDCs to be meaningful and verifiable commitments.

Overall COP 20 in Lima was consistent with expectations. Together with other important events (the UN Climate Summit in New York, the EU Policy Framework on Energy and Climate, the US-China deal, etc.) it contributed to pave the way for an important agreement in Paris. The idea of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions was already circulated and debated months ago. It became concrete in Lima and this is a very positive change, crucial to achieve a large participation to the Paris agreement. Now it’s time to go back to climate finance and to agree not only on the size of additional resources to be devoted to climate mitigation and adaptation, but rather on the policy signals to redirect the huge amount of resources devoted every year to energy infrastructures, buildings, city development and transports towards a low carbon transition path.

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Almost two days later than scheduled, the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP20) in Lima, Peru, closed on Sunday, December 14th adopting a set of 32 documents aimed at progressing towards the definition of the new deal to be agreed at the COP21 in Paris next year.

Central element of the Lima deal are the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) which include in one term both developed and developing countries’ plans to fight climate change from 2020 on. All Parties are, indeed, invited to communicate them to the UNFCCC well in advance of the COP21 (the not mandatory deadline remains March 31, 2015). In addition, Lima made progress in elaborating the elements for a draft negotiating text that has been included as an Annex to the document and that would be the base for the future negotiating draft text to be released by May 2015.

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Major outcomes of the deal can be summarized as follows:

– common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances: developed and developing countries have both to act to cut their carbon emissions but considering their different financial and infrastructural capacities;

– Greenhouses gas plans: the document reiterates its invitation to all Parties to communicate their intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) by the end of March 2015 in order to facilitate clarity, transparency and understanding. The information provided may include quantifiable information such as time frames and / or periods for implementation, scope and coverage, planning processes, assumptions and methodological approaches including those for estimating and accounting for anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.?INDCs will be published on the UNFCCC website by the UN climate change secretariat which will prepare by 1 November 2015 a synthesis report on the overall climate effect of the INDCs communicated by Parties;

– Loss and Damage: a “loss and damage” mechanism was established to protect developing countries particularly vulnerable to the adverse effect of climate change in order to receive economic compensations;

– Climate finance: the document urges developed countries to provide and mobilize enhanced financial support to developing countries for ambitious mitigation and adaptation actions. Donations to a Green Climate Fund, launched to help poor countries cut their GHG emissions and adapt to climate change, have already surpassed the $10bn.

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For more information:

The full text of the deal

The summary of key outcomes provided by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
Overview of decisions adopted at COP20 and CMP10

The infographics realized by the Italian Climate Network, a synthesis of the Parties’ different positions

Events
IAERE Third Annual Conference

Adaptation Climate Change Impacts Climate Change Risks Climate Projections Energy Efficiency ETS – Emission trading scheme Extreme events Forestry management GHG – Greenhouse gases Hydrogeological Risk International negotiations IPCC Land use Mediterranean Area

Mitigation National policies Public opinion Rio+20 Sustainable development UN Climate Change Conference – COP

Related content:

COP20, a positive step forward or a skirmish before the real battle?

A different view on Lima COP 20

From Lima to Paris 2015: challenges on the road to 2°C

Climate talks: what was agreed in Lima

Safe navigation in the Mediterranean sea

Research papers:
RP0233 – High resolution climate scenarios on Mediterranean test case areas for the hydro-climate integrated system
RP0232 – The Passive Use Value of the Mediterranean Forest
RP0231 – Loss & Damage: a Critical Discourse Analysis
RP0230 – Performance evaluation of integrated system to model the climate change impacts on hydro-geological hazard
RP0229 – The stability and effectiveness of climate coalitions:
A comparative analysis of multiple integrated assessment models


Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici
Via Augusto Imperatore 16, 73100 Lecce, Italy
Tel. +39 0832 288650 Fax +39 0832 277603 Email:  info at cmcc.it

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

From the IISD Reporting Services that help the UN manage its information flow to Conference participants.

Lima Climate Change Conference – December 2014
1-12 December 2014 | Lima, Peru

 www.iisd.ca/climate/cop20/

The Lima Climate Change Conference convened from 1-14 December 2014, in Lima, Peru. It included the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 10th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 10). Three subsidiary bodies (SBs) also met: the 41st sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 41) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 41), and the seventh part of the second session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP 2-7).

The Lima Climate Change Conference brought together over 11,000 participants, including approximately 6,300 government officials, 4,000 representatives from UN bodies and agencies, intergovernmental organizations and civil society organizations, and 900 members of the media.

Negotiations in Lima focused on outcomes under the ADP necessary to advance towards an agreement in Paris at COP 21 in 2015, including elaboration of the information, and process, required for submission of intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) as early as possible in 2015 and progress on elements of a draft negotiating text. Following lengthy negotiations on a draft decision for advancing the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, COP 20 adopted the ‘Lima Call for Climate Action,’ which sets in motion the negotiations in the coming year towards a 2015 agreement, the process for submitting and reviewing INDCs, and enhancing pre-2020 ambition.

Parties also adopted 19 decisions, 17 under the COP and two under the CMP that, inter alia: help operationalize the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage; establish the Lima work programme on gender; and adopt the Lima Declaration on Education and Awareness Raising. The Lima Climate Change Conference was able to lay the groundwork for Paris next year, by capturing progress made in elaborating the elements of a draft negotiating text for the 2015 agreement and adopting a decision on INDCs, including their scope, upfront information, and steps to be taken by the Secretariat after their submission.

The Summary and Analysis of this meeting is now available in PDF format

at  www.iisd.ca/download/pdf/enb12619… and in HTML format at
 www.iisd.ca/vol12/enb12619e.html

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A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF THE LIMA CLIMATE CONFERENCE

“Brick by brick my citizens, brick by brick.”
– Attributed to Roman Emperor Hadrian

Arriving in Peru, delegates were welcomed by a decidedly positive spirit. As COP 20/CMP 10 President Manuel Pulgar-Vidal observed in his opening speech, prior to the Lima Conference, the world had received a number of “good signals” from the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit, the initial resource mobilization of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), “historic” announcements by several major greenhouse gas emitting countries, including the EU, the US and China, as well as momentum generated from the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report. This spirit of “unprecedented optimism and achievement,” as described by UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, was expected to help advance work on a number of key deliverables intended to provide what ADP Co-Chair Kishan Kumarsingh referred to as a “solid foundation” upon which to build a new agreement to be adopted in Paris.

In October, in an address to the ADP, Pulgar-Vidal indicated the outcomes he expected in Lima, including: a clear, structured and substantive text on the elements of the new agreement; defining the information to be submitted in 2015 as part of parties’ intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs); and a concrete plan for the pre-2020 period, including actions to ensure compliance with existing obligations, and the implementation of policy options with the greatest mitigation potential. He also emphasized the importance of confidence and trust in the process, as well as among parties. As many have learned from previous climate change meetings, no foundation for the future can be built without confidence and trust.

This brief analysis will assess to what extent these outcomes expected from Lima have been delivered, the implications of the ‘Lima Call for Climate Action’ for the negotiations towards the new climate agreement, and whether the Lima Conference succeeded in laying a solid foundation for constructing an ambitious global climate agreement in Paris, under which each country is able to find a “room.”

LAYING BRICKS

A fervent facilitator and an invisible enabler, the Peruvian Presidency spared no effort in ensuring that time during the Lima Conference was managed effectively. With most formal negotiating sessions scarcely going over the 6:00 pm mark and the Subsidiary Bodies concluding their work unprecedentedly early, delegates were able to roll up their sleeves and get down to work on the building blocks for the new agreement, the draft decision text on INDCs, and enhanced pre-2020 climate action.

Over six days, parties exchanged views on the Co-Chairs’ non-paper containing the elements for a draft negotiating text and made various proposals, which were all reflected in a revised document published on the UNFCCC website early in the morning on Monday, 8 December, by which time the text had swollen from 23 to 33 pages. Some worried that a proliferation of options, while indicating that the negotiating process is clearly party-driven, did not add to the draft negotiating text’s clarity and structure, and could complicate future work.

In the end, delegates agreed to annex this text to the COP decision on further advancing the Durban Platform with a disclaimer contained in a footnote stating that the elements for a draft negotiating text reflect “work in progress” and “neither indicate convergence on the proposals presented, nor do they preclude new proposals from emerging in the course of negotiations in 2015.” This disclaimer addressed concerns raised by many developing countries that annexing the elements text to the COP decision might preempt the legal form, structure or content of the Paris agreement and were therefore against “formalizing” any language that could potentially exclude some options from consideration in 2015, while locking in others. Limited substantive progress on the elements will no doubt put pressure on ADP negotiators meeting in Geneva in February 2015, which is expected to deliver a draft negotiating text for parties’ consideration later in the year.

MOVING WALLS IN A “DIVIDED” HOUSE

Discussions on elements for a draft negotiating text and on the draft decision advancing the Durban Platform were both underpinned by a number of broad political issues. These included differentiation, the role of the Convention and its principles and provisions in the future agreement, and the issue of legal parity between mitigation and adaptation, on the one hand, and mitigation and financial and other means of support, on the other. Many delegates pointed out that on those issues the ADP had a distinctly “divided house”?to the point that some felt trust among parties dissipating.

The question of how differentiation will be reflected in the Paris agreement permeated the ADP negotiations. For example, most developing countries, in particular the LMDCs, maintained that there should be differentiation, both in the 2015 agreement and the INDCs, in accordance with parties’ obligations under the Convention, and reflecting the principles of CBDR and equity. On the other side, the US advocated differentiation in accordance with CBDR and respective capabilities in line with varying national circumstances. The LMDCs also strongly opposed the formulation “parties in a position to do so” in relation to providing support to developing countries for the preparation and implementation of their INDCs, and to providing additional resources to the GCF, the GEF, the Technology Mechanism and the Adaptation Fund, arguing that such language disrupted Convention-based bifurcation, effectively dismantling the wall between Annex I and non-Annex I parties.

A related issue, namely that of legal parity between different components of the 2015 agreement, was also the subject of heated debate. Developing countries repeatedly cautioned against a “mitigation-centric” approach to INDCs, and urged for a balanced reflection of adaptation and means of implementation, with provision of finance taking the center stage. Of particular importance to AOSIS and the LDCs was that loss and damage be reflected as a separate element of the future agreement not only in the elements text, but also in the decision on the ADP.

Parties’ inability to reach consensus led to the adoption of a three-pronged approach, including continued negotiations under the ADP, ministerial consultations, and consultations by the COP President. After the Presidency’s consultations with negotiating groups that continued late into Saturday night?many hours after the Conference was supposed to conclude at 6:00 pm on Friday, the ‘Lima Call for Climate Action’ was concluded. This outcome document, arguably, shifts the wall of differentiation. Although the work of the ADP “shall be under the Convention and guided by its principles” and the new agreement “shall address in a balanced manner” not only mitigation, but also adaptation, finance, technology development and transfer, capacity building, and transparency of action and support, the ADP’s commitment to reaching an ambitious agreement in 2015 is nevertheless described as reflecting CBDR and respective capabilities “in light of different national circumstances.” This formulation appears to open the door to a subjective interpretation of differentiation. Some also wondered if it modifies the interpretation of CBDR as reflecting historical responsibility, even if it avoids using the controversial terms “dynamic” or “evolving.” On the issue of parity, however, the final text provides some assurances to developing countries by giving adaptation a more prominent role in the future agreement and parties’ INDCs, as well as, and in relation to, provision of support.

The Lima Call for Climate Action also refers to the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage in the preamble. Following the adoption of the decision by the COP, Tuvalu, for the LDCs, made a statement requesting that it be recorded in the report of the meeting. He stressed that the preambular text on the Warsaw International Mechanism, in conjunction with “inter alia” in the operative paragraph listing INDCs components, is, in the LDCs’ understanding, a “clear intention” that the new agreement will “properly, effectively and progressively” address loss and damage. While legally redundant, such declarations reaffirm parties’ positions and interpretations of agreed text, maintaining their relevance and visibility.

During the negotiations, an additional concern expressed by developing countries, similar to the one raised in relation to the elements text, was that a COP 20 decision on advancing the Durban Platform could be prejudicial to the outcome in Paris. In this regard, the Lima Call for Climate Action explicitly states that the INDCs-related arrangements specified in it “are without prejudice to the legal nature and content” of parties’ INDCs, or to the content of the future agreement.

TEARING DOWN THE WALL?

COP 20 was generally expected to help strengthen INDCs as a core component of the new agreement by clarifying their scope and specifying information required to facilitate their clarity, transparency and understanding. However, parties were also divided on their expectations for the text on INDCs, relating to information-related requirements, scope and communication. While the Lima Conference fulfilled these expectations to some extent, many parties and observers felt the decision has important shortcomings.

The Lima Call for Climate Action succeeds in delivering on a mandate from Warsaw to identify the “information that parties will provide when putting forward their contributions,” by referring to quantifiable information, time frames, coverage, methodological assumptions, and a subjective evaluation of fairness and ambitiousness. However, by stating that INDCs “may include, as appropriate, inter alia,” these various aspects, the text fails to set a minimum level of common types of information to be communicated by all parties, thus significantly weakening the prospects of comparability across, and a meaningful aggregation of, contributions.

A major area of divergence of views related to the scope of INDCs. This debate centered on the interpretation of the Warsaw decision, which states that INDCs should be aimed “at achieving the objective of the Convention as set out in its Article 2.” Developed countries interpreted this as referring to mitigation being the only component of INDCs, while developing countries insisted on the need to include adaptation and means of implementation as well, with developing countries providing information on their means of implementation needs and developed countries providing information on their financial contributions, as a precondition of enhanced action by developing countries. As a compromise between these two views, the Lima Call for Climate Action invites parties to “consider including” an adaptation component in their INDCs, which reflects broad agreement that adaptation action requires strengthening alongside mitigation. Parties were also able to agree on recognizing the special circumstances of LDCs and SIDS by allowing them to present “strategies, plans and actions” for low-emission development. Meanwhile, all other countries are implicitly expected to do something more. This latter aspect is yet another example of built-in flexibility, which translates into a lack of a clear requirement for parties to prepare a strong, quantitative mitigation component in their INDCs. Furthermore, in relation to the scope of INDCs, parties were unable to agree on any language on finance or other means of implementation, which left developing countries disappointed. Issues related to finance, therefore, remain a fundamental area for further trust building in 2015.

Another issue on which parties disagreed was how INDCs would be communicated and what their possible ex ante consideration or review might look like. Many developing countries insisted that Lima should only focus on the process of communication. Some delegations, including the US, preferred a “consultative” process or period. Others, such as the EU and AOSIS, demanded a strong review that would assess the aggregate effect of INDCs against the latest climate science and what is deemed necessary to avoid dangerous climate change. Considered by some the weakest link of the Lima outcome, the decision text simply requests that the Secretariat publish the communicated INDCs on the UNFCCC website and prepare, by 1 November 2015, a synthesis report on their aggregate effect. This translates into an absence of any kind of ex ante review of individual contributions in 2015. Further, it also leaves parties with less than a month for possible upward adjustment prior to COP 21 in Paris in December 2015. Resulting from strong opposition by some, such as the LMDCs, to a review of their INDCs, this outcome left many disappointed. Some disenchanted observers, however, felt that, irrespective of its content, the decision would not have strong implications for global climate action, suggesting that the major factors driving the level of ambition of national contributions are in any event external to the UNFCCC process.

RAISING THE CEILING

With regard to enhancing pre-2020 ambition (ADP workstream 2), the technical expert meetings (TEMs) emerged as an area where countries could find a common cause. Relating to the key question of how to carry work forward under workstream 2 beyond Paris, there was broad agreement that the TEMs, which have created a technical and less political space for discussions around scaling up implementation and which allow for “bringing down the brick wall of the UNFCCC” by engaging non-state actors, would be the proper vehicle. The Lima outcome sets out a clear process for building on the TEMs’ experience by providing guidance on their purpose, organization and follow-up, and seeking to further engage key institutions and mechanisms under the Convention. Views still diverged, however, on how to ensure the implementation of the Bali Action Plan, in particular with regard to the provision of means of implementation to developing countries, and enhancing mitigation efforts by all parties under the Convention. As a result, the final text does not include a proposed ‘Accelerated Implementation Mechanism’ to assess progress made in these areas?an idea originating in the conviction of developing countries that developed countries’ leadership pre-2020, which currently remains insufficient, will be essential for both addressing climate change and ensuring a successful 2015 agreement.

Discussions under the COP on long-term finance, which developing countries wanted to result in further assurances?such as quantitative milestones?on scaling up of climate finance by developed countries to US$100 billion annually by 2020, and beyond, were also disappointing to developing countries. Yet, an undeniable success was the initial resource mobilization of the GCF, which reached its target of US$10 billion, collecting a total of US$10.2 billion in pledges by the end of the Lima Conference from both Annex I and non-Annex I countries. While developed countries considered it a show of commitment and something they should be recognized for, developing countries felt GCF capitalization, together with the first biennial ministerial dialogue on climate finance organized during the second week as well as biennial submissions by developed countries on scaling up climate finance, were still insufficient. Some suggested that before celebrating the GCF pledges, they would first need to see how and whether they would translate into resources for the Fund.

The first session of the multilateral assessment of developed countries’ mitigation targets, organized as part of SBI 41, reflected a similar divergence in views. Annex I countries celebrated the event for “going beyond simple reporting,” and increasing transparency and building trust, while some developing countries felt the process required further strengthening in the form of a clear “follow-up,” such as substantive conclusions for the SBI’s consideration. Notwithstanding these differences and given the positive “Lima Spirit” characterized by an open exchange of views and transparency that persisted throughout the conference, these developments may have succeeded in “raising the ceiling” of pre-2020 ambition, and thus rebuilding some of the confidence and trust for the tough year ahead.

ENABLING CONSTRUCTION

Many expected that momentum created by the political events of the previous months would contribute to an atmosphere of trust in Lima. These events included the GCF initial capitalization, the EU’s announcement of its 2030 mitigation target and, in particular, the bilateral announcements by the US and China, on their respective mitigation targets for 2025 and 2030, as well as by the US and India, on expanded cooperation on climate change, including on phasing down HFCs. However, it soon became evident that too little time had passed for these external political events and high-level signals of change to translate into cardinal shifts in negotiating positions. Yet, some found discernible indications of a more immediate impact. For example, how CBDR and respective capabilities are defined in the Lima Call for Climate Action decision “in light of different national circumstances,” is a near-verbatim citation from the November joint announcement by the US and China. It remains to be seen if the ADP session in February will see further shifts in negotiating positions when parties have had the time to reflect on these events.

In spite of parties arriving in Peru with different expectations and widely diverging views, at the end most felt that, in the words of the South African Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa, the Lima Conference managed to strike a “delicate balance between very difficult issues” and laid “a solid foundation” for work towards Paris.

But did it really? The two key outcomes from Lima, the decision on Advancing the Durban Platform and its annex containing elements for a draft negotiating text, may have served to move the process forward and create a shared feeling of achievement and confidence in the process. However, given that key political issues, including differentiation and finance, remain unresolved, many parties are unwilling to declare the Lima outcome an absolute success.

The year of 2015 will be one that defines the true significance of the Lima Climate Conference. Many wonder if the positive “Lima Spirit” can continue in the run-up to Paris. But perhaps more importantly, the question may be if the Lima outcome can enable the construction in Paris of a “house” where all parties can coexist, while keeping in mind that in this process there is one party that does not negotiate?nature.

This analysis, taken from the summary issue of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin ©  enb at iisd.org, is written and edited by Beate Antonich, Rishikesh Bhandry, Elena Kosolapova, Ph.D., Mari Luomi, Ph.D., Anna Schulz, and Mihaela Secrieru. The Digital Editor is Kiara Worth. The Editor is Pamela Chasek, Ph.D. <pam@iisd.org>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <kimo@iisd.org>. The Sustaining Donors of the Bulletin are the European Commission (DG-ENV and DG-CLIMATE), the Government of Switzerland (the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) and the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC)), and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. General Support for the Bulletin during 2014 is provided by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, SWAN International, the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Japanese Ministry of Environment (through the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies – IGES), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Specific funding for coverage of this session has been provided by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the EC (DG-CLIMA). Funding for translation of the Bulletin into French has been provided by the Government of France, the Wallonia, Québec, and the International Organization of La Francophonie/Institute for Sustainable Development of La Francophonie (IOF/IFDD). The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD or other donors. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in non-commercial publications with appropriate academic citation. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at , +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11D, New York, NY 10022 USA

———————————————————————
Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI
Vice President, Reporting Services and United Nations Liaison
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) — United Nations Office
300 E 56th St. Apt. 11D – New York, NY 10022 USA

Direct Line: +1 973 273 5860 – Plaxo public business card: kimogoree.myplaxo.com

Email:  kimo at iisd.org

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

The key to nuclear’s future or an element of doubt?

Date: 14-Oct-14
REUTERS – PLANET ARK – October 13, 2014
Author: Geert De Clercq

The key to nuclear’s future or an element of doubt?

Work at the Cadarache CEA (Atomic Energy Authority) site near Saint-Paul-les-Durance, south eastern France, September 26, 2014.


For sodium, the sixth-most abundant element on the planet, is being held up as the key to one of several new types of nuclear reactor being developed as governments grapple with the problem of making atomic energy more environmentally friendly, safe and financially viable.

The 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan effectively brought a global nuclear boom to a halt, but a decade-old research program into new reactors has regained relevance of late.

Quite apart from Germany’s decision to phase out a large slice of its nuclear capacity in the wake of Fukushima, Britain and Belgium have recently switched off several aging reactors over safety concerns while a number of U.S. plants have closed because they can no longer compete with cheap shale gas.

Launched by the United States in 2000, the Generation IV International Forum (GIF) has 13 member countries including China, Russia, France, Japan and Britain, which have whittled down nearly 100 proffered concepts to focus research on six nuclear reactor models.

By far the most advanced of the six is the sodium-cooled fast reactor (SFR), developed by France, Russia and China from a concept pioneered in the United States in the 1950s.

The SFR’s main advantage is that it can burn spent uranium and plutonium. These unwanted byproducts from water-cooled reactors have been piling up for years and the World Nuclear Association estimates stocks at about 1.5 million tonnes.

“We could produce power for several thousands of years with that without getting new natural uranium,” said Christophe Behar, the vice-chairman of GIF.

Behar, also head of research at French nuclear agency CEA, points out that SFRs can also burn up uranium’s most long-lived radioactive waste products, reducing the need for deep storage.

EXPLOSIVE DRAWBACK

Liquid sodium is better than water at evacuating heat from the reactor core and its high boiling point of about 900 degrees Celsius allows SFRs to operate close to atmospheric pressure, negating the need for the thick, steel containment vessels at pressurized water reactors.

But sodium has significant disadvantages, too. On contact with air, it burns; plunged into water, it explodes.

Early SFRs built by France, Russia and Japan have suffered corrosion and sodium leaks. But these were not built to GIF standards and the CEA research facility amid the pine trees in Cadarache, southeast France, is working on how to tame sodium as the agency seeks to convince lawmakers to allow construction of its new Astrid reactor, a 600 megawatt SFR.

The Astrid project was granted a 652 million euro ($823 million) budget in 2010 and a decision on construction is expected around 2019.

The use of sodium, which occurs naturally only as a compound in other minerals, presents huge challenges, however.

Nitrogen-driven turbines are being designed to prevent sodium from mixing with water, while purpose-built electromagnetic pumps are seen as the solution to moving the superheated metal within reactors. Then there’s the headache of not being able to see through the liquid metal should something go wrong in a reactor core.

The other five concepts – including lead and helium-cooled fast neutron reactors and three very-high-temperature reactors – are less mature than the SFR and face similar technological hurdles.

But technology is not the only obstacle. Cost is key, as ever, and abundant U.S. shale gas and a renewables energy boom in Europe have undermined the viability of the nuclear industry, leading some GIF member states, including Japan, Canada and Switzerland, to scale back funding.

SCIENCE FRICTION

Regardless of which, if any, of the new concepts eventually holds sway, the inevitable political wrangling over commercial projects will almost inevitably bring further delays, as with Britain’s 16 billion pound ($26 billion) Hinkley Point C plant to be operated by French utility EDF.

“Between the ambition in the beginning and today’s status, the Generation IV research is not exactly on track,” the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency’s Thierry Dujardin said.

GIF’s target of having the first prototypes in operation around 2020 has been pushed back to 2030, with the first commercial plants not expected before 2040-2050, but such are the timescales in the nuclear industry.

The group does have some wriggle room, as many of the second-generation reactors built in 1970s and 1980s are expected to run for another decade, while third-generation plants built today by firms such as Areva and Westinghouse are designed to operate for up to 60 years.

Critics of GIF say that France and other nations have been too quick to focus research on the SFR and should have made a more audacious bet on newer technologies, such as the pebble-bed high-temperature reactor or the molten-salt reactor.

“There is not a single really new idea among the 4G models,” said Bernard Laponche, a retired CEA nuclear engineer.

Given sodium’s explosive potential, Laponche argues that the molten-salt reactor, the least developed technology, is the safest of the six models.

“It’s not a windmill, but it’s better than the others,” he said.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 30th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We knew Hank as a friend and tennis partner of Ernie Schneider who was the editor of the writings of Mr. Herman Kahn of the Hudson Institute (the Herman on the Hudson). We met Hank at the house of Suzy and Ernie Schneider. Suzy who was a daughter to a honored Austrian family was a colleague of my wife at the Austrian Consulate General in New York City and the Schneiders and Laventhols lived in Croton on the Hudson.

Hank liked to talk politics but professionally was rather a relaxed painter who liked classic music and jazz. We praised his work, and for disclosure I must say that we are proud of one of his piano/Chopin prints that hangs in our Vienna living room next to a New Orleans Jazz scene done by our son Gil.

When I first wrote the review I wanted to make reference to Hank’s whole range of work and realized that some of the reviews of his work were under a wrong spelling of his name that used the letter “a” instead of the “o” in Laventhol. I did not think that he should suffer from that seemingly widespread mistake and mentioned this other spelling as well. It turns out that Ms. Laventhol is upset with this alternate spelling – so I am taking it of my posting but have no power over all those other articles one finds on the internet.

Also, and this is more substantial, I was not careful in giving credits to the source of the material I quoted in that first posting. Now let me add here that probably all the photos of the paintings by Hank Laventhol were taken by his wife – Josay Laventhol. Probably much of the data about him was also taken from biography written by his wife, though I am sure I peppered it with material from some of the other reviews as well. Sorry if all of this has hurt feelings of the family.


THE FOLLOWING IS PART OF OUR ORIGINAL REVIEW OF DECEMBER 26, 2011.

HANK  LAVENTHOL  

Birth name     Henry Lee Laventhol

Born               21 December 1927

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Died               21 February 2001

Somers, New York

Field              painting, graphics, sculpture,

photography

Movement     neosurrealism

Laventhol’s mysteriously romantic  landscapes and  multiple  images evoke dream states and double meanings.” Pictures on Exhibit. N.Y.C.

shell wars, oil on linen, 20”X26”        Image 1

Hank Laventhol, an American painter,   made his early career in Europe. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Laventhol graduated Yale University with a B.A. in Fine Arts and did post graduate studies at Columbia University. At age 32 he left his business life in New York City for Europe to pursue his early vocation and life long interest in art. He studied at the Academy of Fine Art in Florence, Italy and eventually spent ten years in Europe, making his home in Mallorca, Spain. He had four solo shows in London and exhibited in  major cities in Western Europe.  He returned to the United States for good in 1970, settling in Westchester County, New York, with his  Dutch born wife.

Trained as a sculptor he  worked in many other media, including painting, print making, drawing and photography.  He said “ they all mesh for me.” Laventhol painted on wooden panels prepared with gesso using the ancient egg tempera technique until he towed an American couple  in a failing rental car to a garage outside Madrid.  In gratitude, they sent him a roll of Belgian linen which started him painting on canvas using oil and acrylics.

He was a master printer,  specializing in multi plate color etchings and aquatints, a demanding and precise process that provided him with a variety of color and texture, unrivaled by any other etching technique. He owned two Wright presses and pulled his own limited edition  prints. Publishers include Associated American Artists,  New York Graphic Society, Original Print Collectors Group Ltd., Georges Visat, Paris, and Pierre Chave, Vence, France.  Laventhol was a guest lecturer at Pratt Graphic Center, New York City and wrote articles about print making,   specializing in how to achieve perfect register in multiple color aquatint.

In the United States, his work was seen at four solo shows in New York City as well as  one man and group  shows across America.

Laventhol’s work is in corporate and private collections, museums and libraries, including the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., the Yale University Museum, the New York Public Library Print Collection, the Free Library of Philadelphia and the Bibliotèque Nationale,  Paris, France.  Laventhol has been listed in Benezit, the definitive international  Directory of Artists.

Published illustrated portfolios include: “Le Miroir Aux Alouettes” by Georges Visat, Paris, with six color aquatint etchings and a poem by Andre Serini. Later porfolios include “Les Crises” and “Eyedeas.”

Eggs, eyes, roses, and flying torsos were recurring themes. Some critics considered him a surrealist. Laventhol, however, preferred to think of his work as dealing with fantasy realism.

* * *

Hank Laventhol, a gregarious,  kind man with a fine, broad mind  enjoyed life to the fullest. Besides being a disciplined, hard worker he had a wide array of interests and hobbies. His art was his passion, but he rarely started a day without an early game of tennis. He was an eclectic music lover and an opera and chamber music buff.  It was hilarious to hear him sing along with all the voices while listening to an opera as he worked. He was well versed in American folk music and loved playing  his classical  guitar  -  not well,  he admitted. During the 1960s he sought out small locales all over Europe to tape indigenous music – Flamenco in Spain, Fado in Portugal, Stornelli in Italy and jazz in Northern Europe – using a huge reel to reel recorder.  Mexican and South American indigenous music  was another interest added to his music  collection .

He spoke fluent Spanish and Italian and said he knew enough French,  Dutch and German  to defend himself. Whatever the topic, he communicated. His sense of humor got him past being embarrassed. An adventurous traveler with an infallible sense of direction, Laventhol met his Dutch born wife over a chessboard in Mallorca, Spain, and was kind enough to let her win a few times during the ensuing 40 years. An imaginative chef, he made up his own multi cultural recipes. Stuffed trout was served with the head on. Asian wok-cooked food was a treat. Dill, unavailable in Mallorca, was imported from the U.S. to pickle a fresh crop of cucumbers in large clay pots placed around his Mallorca rental house.  When  they started fizzing,  it was time to serve them to his  “expat” friends, together with his amazingly good  baked beans. He used a wood chip smoker to prepare  fish and fowl and made his own gravlax and seviche. He said eating Dutch New Herring in the Netherlands was a life altering experience.

Frugal artistic life never held his ingenious imagination back. Any potential problem or road block was dealt with and solutions found. The Mallorcan car mechanic built an hibachi that was carried from his tiny fishing boat, which he called,  a “one lunger”, to friends’ houses. The same mechanic fabricated a roof rack for a convertible VW beetle  to carry paintings to art shows. Laventhol’s talents  converted what he saw as poetry into striking atmospheric work with a touch of the mystical.

* * *

1991                                                                       1992 – self portrait
hand /eye wind mill

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

A Win-Win Solution for the Negotiations over Iran’s Nuclear Program – as reported by Irith Jawetz who participated at the UN in Vienna Compound July 15th Meeting .

 

The Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP) and Search for Common Ground  invited us to attend a panel discussion titled “A Win-Win Solution for the Negotiations over Iran’s Nuclear Program,” which was held on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 13:00 at the Vienna Center for Disarmament & Non Proliferation (VCDNP).

 
As P5+1 and Iran are meeting in Vienna at Foreign Ministers level to resolve the outstanding issues preventing a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear program before the 20 July deadline, a group of renown experts on the technical and political aspects of the negotiations have met at VCDNP to discuss and identify possible compromises.

 

Panelists: 
 
Dr. Frank von Hippel, Senior Research Physicist and Professor of Public and International Affairs Emeritus at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security 
 
Mr. Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association. Previously he was the Executive Director of the Coalition to reduce Nuclear Dangers, and the Director of Security Programs for Physicians for Social Responsibility.
 
Ambassador (ret.) William G. Miller, Senior Advisor for the US-Iran Program, Search for Common GroupHe is a Senior Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Institute of Strategic Studies, and the Middle East Institute. He is the co-Chairman of the Kyiv Mohyla Foundation of America and a Director of The Andrei Sakharov Foundation. He has also been a senior consultant for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

This was a very timely event, as the Foreign Ministers of the P5+1 group of Nations – the U.S., U.K., France. Germany, China, and Russia – spent the weekend in Vienna  discussing follow ups to the interim agreement reached between them and Iran in advance of this July 20th deadline.


At the start of the Panel discussion, it was announced that at that very moment Secretary of State John Kerry is giving his Press Conference before flying back to Washington to report to President Obama about the negotiations. He is willing to come back next weekend for the July 20-th continuation of the discussions.

———–

Ambassador Miller was the first speaker, and he gave a rather optimistic view of the situation. His presentation had more of a political nature.  In his presentation he said that the basic principles of the negotiations is to assure that Iran has no nuclear weapons . Iran has the capability, brain, expertise and knowhow but has no strategic moral or ethical reason to develop nuclear weapons to be used as weapons of mass destruction.
It is a fact, though, that the Iranians insist on use of peaceful nuclear energy – to what extent it is peaceful and how can the rest of the world be sure that it will be peaceful, this is why the negotiations have to succeed. Ambassador Miller is hopeful that, after 35 years of the current regime in Iran, those negotiations will result in a positive answer.
Ambassador Miller commended all the participating teams, the Press and Academia. First he mentioned the top quality Iranian team at the negotiations, many of the participants he knows personally. They were able, motivated, and anxious to find a solution. The US team, led by Secretary Kerry did a  remarkably good job, as did the rest of the teams. He commended the Press who were persistent – fully covered the negotiations and were very professional – and academia who helped with background information.
—————

Mr. Daryl G.Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association talked about a solution for the Iranian Uranium-Enrichment Puzzle. In his presentation he stressed that “Solutions that prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, lower the risk of yet another major conflict in the region, and still provide Iran with the means to pursue a realistic, peaceful nuclear program are within reach” – he said.
Progress has already been achieved on several key issues – stregthening International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections and oversight at existing and undeclared sites.  …   Iran has agreed to modify its Arak heavy-water reactor to drastically cut its plutonium output, and a general framework has been developed to waive, and eventually lift, sanctions against Iran.   …  Nevertheless, the two sides have more work to do to bridge differences on the most difficult issue: limiting Iran’s uranium-enrichment capacity.As part of a comprehensive deal, Iran and the P5+1 have to agree on several steps to constrain Iran: limit uranium enrichment to levels of less than 5% – keep stocks of its enriched uranium near zero – and halt production-scale work at the smaller Fordow enrichment plant and convert it to research-only facility.

He shares Ambassador Miller’s hope and positive outlook that the negotiations will succeed. Anything less than success will be a catastrophe.

—————-
The last speaker was Dr. Frank von Hippel who is a Senior Research Physicist and Professor of Public and International Affairs Emeritus at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security.Dr. von Hippel gave a very technical presentation about the Possible elements of a compromise on Iran’s Nuclear Program.

Potential sources of fissile material from Iran’s nuclear energy program are:

1. Plutonium presence in reactor fuel (current issue is Arak reactor)

2. Iran’s centrifuge enrichment complex.

There are two stages in rationalizing the Current situartion:

Stage I

Iran currently has installed 18,000 IR-1 centrifuges  – the compromise would be:

1) to retire IR-1  and replace it with already installed IR-2ms to support research-reactor LEU needs.

2) Continued transparency for Iran’s centrifuge production – possibly as a template for enhanced transparency for centrifuge production worldwide.

3) Continued minimization of stocks of low enriched UF6.

Stage 1 will provide time to cool down an inflamed situation and would provide Iran and the West an opportunity for a cooler assessment of the costs and benefits of diferent possible paths.

In stage II, negotiations might agree on a solution currently beyond reach and also lay a base for a new global regime for enrichment.

Stage II

 

National or Multi-National enrichment? A global Issue.

National – Every  state has the right to enrich fuel for power reactor fuel. However today only Brazil, China, Iran, Japan and Russia have completely independent national civilian enrichment programs.

Multinational – Urenco (Germany, Netherland, UK) . Today Urenco owns the only operating U.S,. civilian enrichment plant.

Building in Flexibility for Iran:

1. Iran should have access to nuclear reactor and fuel vendors worldwide – to ensure that it is getting a good price and reliable delivery.

2. Iran could build up stockpile of fabricated fuel for Bushehr. That would take care of Iran’s fuel security concerns and make it easier for Iran to postpone a large domestic enrichment capacity or depend on a multinational enrichment plant – perhape equiped with Iranian centrifuges in another country in the Middle East.

Dr. von Hippel COPLIMENTED his theory with  charts.

The consensus at the end of the discussion was that the negotiations seem to go well, and all panelists, as well as some members of the audience expressed their hope that they will indeed succeed. Ambassador Miller even went as far as to state that Iran at the moment is the most stable nation in the region, and we have to take advantage of it, make sure the negotiation succeed,  and bring Iran back to the International community.

In the news today it was reported that Secretary of State John Kerry was on his way to Washington to brief President Obama on the negotiations – rather then on a prior advertised new effort in the Israel-Palestine arena. He was hopeful, but also said there are still some points which need to be clarified.

==========================
Further last comment by SustainabiliTank editor – we add – taken from a Thom Friedman article about a different issue:
We accept that in the future the World true powers of today – The US, China, India, Russia, Japan and the EU – and we like to add Brazil as well – will have to meet their minds and harmonize what ought to be a global leadership for a safe future planet. Just ad hoc chaperoning specific issues will be proven to be not enough.

The way to find a solution to the issue of a nuclear Iran shows that in the globalized world of today there must be an international guiding force. But on this much more has to be written for the sake of Sustainability.

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

 

Europe

An Argentine and a German, but No Sign at the Vatican of a World Cup Rivalry

Pope and Predecessor Have No Plans for World Cup Final

By

 
Photo

 
Benedict XVI, pope emeritus, of Germany, with Pope Francis, of Argentina. Their countries will compete in the finals of the World Cup on Sunday. Credit L’Osservatore Romano, via Associated Press

ROME — They have prayed together and embraced each other as brothers, but Pope Francis and his predecessor, Benedict XVI, now pope emeritus, find themselves confronting an odd sort of schism: their two countries are competing in the finals of the World Cup on Sunday.

For many, this has raised the question of whether they will watch the game together. But the more basic question is whether Francis, 77, of Argentina, and Benedict, 87, of Germany, will be watching at all, given that the match begins at 9 p.m. in Italy and may not end until nearly midnight.

Francis and Benedict have both lived on the grounds of the Vatican since Francis was elected to the papacy in March 2013, after Benedict’s historic resignation. Initially, some analysts speculated that the arrangement might breed intrigue: Would the Vatican be divided between two popes? Instead, the two men have apparently forged a warm friendship, as Benedict has quietly receded from public life while Francis has emerged as a major global figure.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, who has fielded soccer questions this week with a chuckling amusement, doubted the two men would watch the game together, or at all. He noted that Benedict, a scholarly theologian and author of a multipart meditation on the life of Jesus, has never been much of a soccer fan, “though he clearly understands that it’s important to many people.” (In March 2012, Benedict did greet the German star Miroslav Klose at the Vatican.)

 

The first Latin American pope, Francis is unquestionably a fan, who as archbishop of Buenos Aires cheered for San Lorenzo, a local soccer club. After San Lorenzo won the Argentine championship last year, a small delegation of managers and players came to the Vatican in December to present Francis with a trophy and an inscribed team jersey that read, “Francisco Campeon,” or “Francis Champion.”

Last August at the Apostolic Palace, Francis welcomed the national teams of Italy and Argentina, including the star Argentine striker Lionel Messi, before the two sides played a friendly match in Rome. Francis managed to duck a question about which country he would be rooting for (Argentina won, 2-1), even as he called on the athletes to be role models for young people.

Francis also asked players on both teams to pray for him, according to The Associated Press, “so that I, on the ‘field’ upon which God placed me, can play an honest and courageous game for the good of us all.”

In that spirit, the Vatican Pontifical Council for Culture has launched a “Pause for Peace” campaign and is asking for a global moment of silence before Sunday’s match to remember people enduring war and conflict.

And will the pope be watching on Sunday night?

Father Lombardi said the pope “sent the Argentine team his best wishes before the tournament,” but added that Francis watches very little television, “and especially at that hour.”

“Above all,” he added, “I think they both want the best team to win. They’re above partisan passion. In this, they are united.”

 

A version of this article appears in print on July 12, 2014, on page A4 of the New York edition with the headline: An Argentine and a German, but No Sign at the Vatican of a World Cup Rivalry.

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

 

 

Priorities during the Italian Presidency of the Council of the EU.

 MEETING OF THE EUROPE CLUB, VIENNA.
Wednsday, 9. July 2014, 17:00 Uhr (Einlass ab 16:30)
Haus der Europäischen Union
Wipplingerstraße 35, 1010 Wien
 
Keynote:
S.E. Giorgio Marrapodi
The Italian Ambassador to Vienna
 
Moderation:
Johann Sollgruber
Europäische Kommission – Vertretung in Österreich, Leiter a.
the representative of the EU in Vienna.

——————————————————————

On July 1, 2014 Italy took over the Presidency of the European Union. The Europa Club Wien invited His Excellency Ambassador Giorgio Marrapodi, Italy’s Ambassador to Vienna to lay out Italy’s Priotities during the Italian Presidency of the Council of the EU .

Mr. Johann Sollgruber, Head of the Austrian Chamber of the European Commission was the Chair and Moderator of the event.

Mr. Sollgruber started the event by greeting HE Giorgio Marrapodi and thanking him for coming.

Itly’s Ambassador -
Mr.Marrapodi - lay out a vast program, which Italy will tackle during its Presidency. It is a very ambitious program.  He spoke of the main issues that Italy will try to solve – and we will just highlight in short a few of those:

Creating jobs among young people,  especially now with the high unemployment rate in many of the EU countries, which will require not only finding jobs, but also training and educating young people;

Economic growth and stability of the banking system througout the EU;

Developing a common EU position on Climate Change and Energy;

Tackling the very difficult problem of Migration, refugees who seek sylum in the EU countries and there he stressed the immense problem his country is facing ;
Fundamental Human Rights and equal rights for men and women;

The Global Role of the EU in getting involved in the problems of the Mediterranean Region, Middle East, Libya Syria, Iraq, Ukraine;

Economic Partnership between the EU, Canada and Japan  in Trade and Investment;

Promotion of Macro-Regional strategies;

For a full program of Italy’s challenges for their Presidency please log on to their website at:  www.italia2014.eu

Ambassador Marrapodi then went on to inform us of the EXPO Milano 2015 which will take place in Milan between May 1, 2015 to October 31, 2015. Expo Milan will be the largest worldwide event ever organized on the theme of Food: “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”.

For full information about the Expo please log on to their website at: www.expo2015.org.

Mr. Sollgruber introduced His Excellency Ambassador Edgars Skuja, Latvia’s Ambassador to Austria. Latvia will take over the Presidency after Italy from January 1, 2015 to June 30, 2015. Ambassador Skuja said that he is looking forward to work with his Italian colleague in preparing his country’s first ever Presideny and he will be happy to report to us in January 2015.

At the End of the event we were invited for a glass of wine and some delicacies from Umbria, courtesy of the Embassy of Italy.

For whoever is curious:    Umbria, is a region of historic and modern central Italy. It is the only Italian region having neither a coastline nor a common border with other countries. It includes the Lake Trasimeno, Cascata delle Marmore, and is crossed by the River Tiber


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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

ERDOGAN SAYS EUROPE WITHOUT TURKEY IS UNIMAGINABLE
International-Daily Sabah-18 hours ago
Anti-Erdogan protests held in Vienna
The Local Austria-22 hours ago

In between Koln in Germany and Paris, Erdogan, Turkey’s Prime Minister landed also in Vienna wher he was not invited by the local National Government. Austria’s Foreign Minister, after making public announcements that he has asked the Turkish Prime Minister not to stir trouble in Austria with a heated speech to his assumed voters among the Austrian Turkish minority, did nevertheless meet with him before his departure from Vienna to Paris. There the President will meet with him – here in Austria the Chancellor does not met uninvited visitors.

More to it – Vienna remembers the Siege of Vienna of 1529 – the Turks outside the gates of Vienna – clearly with unfriendly motives.   But today Turkish citizens that want to improve their life immigrate to Europe in large numbers and try to assimilate. In many countries it is possible to assume the local citizenship without giving up their citizenship in the land of origin. Obviously, the majority of Austrians harbor no friendly feelings to Turks in their midst that flaunt their diversity and show that they do not want to assimilate. If this is something bad – this is not our topic here.

The same is true for Germany and France – yet Mr. Erdogan chose to come to these counties to campaign among the Turkish minorities for his re-election in Turkey – this August. If nothing else this shows that he builds on some of them not wanting to become true part of their new country of residence. This is the Turk of 1529 in the Austrians mind. No special laws have ever impacted the Turkish minority in Austria like efforts are on the way in France. This has led to a softer approach by the French President to the Turkish visit. Austria not having the need to cover anything – just did not go beyond the minimum in courtesy.

So what does Erdogan really want? Does he want to stir animosity against Turkish immigrants to the EU? Does he want to decrease emigration of his talented young people? Does he just want to be the bull in the china store and be unworthy of relations between states? Is this the Erdogan that broke his country’s relations with Israel in messing with the blockade of Gaza? Does he expect to make friends this way outside Turkey or inside Turkey.

I spoke about this off the record with officials of a Turkish organization in New York and the man felt that the candidacy of Ekmeleddin ?hsano?lu might present some hope now because of this bullish behavior of Erdogan and his AKP politics, while Ihsanoglu does not belong to a party and can thus be seen as a unifier to a country in need of new direction.


Hurriyet Daily News
  1. Cihan News Agency ?- 2 days ago
    The opposition reached the decision on ?hsano?lu after holding talks for weeks. The former OIC secretary-general was picked for his academic …

 

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

Austrian foreign minister blames Turkish PM Erdo?an for ‘disorder’ in Vienna amid thousands’ protest.

VIENNA – Agence France-Presse

Kurz and Erdo?an met in Vienna on June 20. AA Photo

Kurz and Erdo?an met in Vienna on June 20. AA Photo

 

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an’s visit to Austria, which sparked mass demonstrations in Vienna, has drawn more sharp words from Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, who said the visit “clearly shows Erdo?an has brought his election campaign to Austria and has caused disorder.”

“We refuse to accept this. The only thing I can say is that respect for a country does not look like this,” Kurz told journalists on June 19, after as many as 10,000 people demonstrated against Erdo?an’s visit, according to figures provided by organizers and local police.

Kurz’s remarks came ahead of his meeting Erdo?an scheduled for June 20. The Turkish prime minister will meet the Austrian foreign minister before his departure for Paris, where he will meet with French President François Hollande.

Erdo?an has been increasingly accused of autocratic tendencies in Europe and a similar trip to Germany last month ruffled feathers after he spoke out against the assimilation of Turkish immigrants.

On July 19, he addressed a crowd of some 6,000-7,000 supporters from Austria’s 250,000-strong Turkish minority in a sports arena. A further 10,000 people watched his speech on a big screen outside the venue.

Erdo?an is touring European countries with large Turkish populations ahead of a widely expected run for the presidency in August. 

Austrian police said they used tear gas spray after a “minor incident” when a bottle was thrown at the protesters in the Austrian capital, most of whom were from the local Turkish community. No injuries were reported.

Austria’s government had warned Erdogan against making “provocative comments” and he appeared to heed the advice in his speech, telling the crowd that “no one has anything to fear from us.”

During his address, Erdo?an said that Europe needed his country, trumpeting Turkey’s economic growth under his stewardship.

“Europe does not end where the river Danube flows into the Black Sea, but begins where the Euphrates and the Tigris begin,” he said.

June/20/2014

 

Politik

Türkei

19.06.14

Erdogan erinnert Wien an die Belagerung von 1529

Wie in Köln absolviert der türkische Premierminister einen Wahlkampfauftritt in Wien. Tausende Anhänger feiern ihn frenetisch als “Sultan der Welt”. Fast genauso viele Menschen protestieren.

Von , Wien  – for DIE WELT published in Germany.
In der Wiener Innenstadt ist es am Donnerstagmittag noch ruhig. Das katholische Österreich feiert Fronleichnam, der Rest das schöne Wetter. Der angekündigte Besuch des türkischen Ministerpräsidenten Recep Tayyip Erdogan kümmert allenfalls die Polizisten, die entlang der Ringstraße auf die Anti-Erdogan-Demonstranten warten.

Einige haben sich schon neben dem Bahnhof Praterstern versammelt. Es ist eine bunte Schar aus türkischen und österreichischen Linken, Kurden, Aleviten und Armeniern, noch keine 10.000 wie angekündigt, eher 2000. Sie schwenken Fahnen in Landesfarben oder solche, auf denen der kurdische Rebellenchef Abdullah Öcalan oder türkische Kommunisten zu sehen sind, aber auch Schilder mit Porträts von Opfern der Gezi-Park-Proteste oder dem Bergwerksunglück von Soma.

“Auf wie vielen Ebenen Erdogans Politik versagt hat, sieht man an der Breite unseres Bündnisses”, ruft eine Sprecherin des Demokratischen Bündnisses gegen Erdogan von der Bühne. “Erdogan get out of Vienna”, steht auf einem Transparent dahinter. Die weiteren Redner nennen Erdogan einen Lügner, Verbrecher und Mörder.

Ein paar Kilometer stadtauswärts, vor einer Eissporthalle auf der anderen Seite der Donau, ist das Bild homogener. Die Menschen schwenken nur eine Art von Fahne: Stern und Halbmond auf rotem Grund, die Nationalflagge der Türkei. Ein paar Männer haben sie auf dem Boden ausgebreitet und beten, daneben sitzen alte Frauen mit Kopftüchern und picknicken. Aus einer Stretchlimousine werden T-Shirts mit Erdogans Bild verkauft, darunter steht: “Sultan of the World”.

Rosenblätter säumen seinen Weg

Drinnen in der Halle sind noch mehr Menschen mit noch mehr türkischen Fahnen. Sie schwenken sie im Takt eines Popsongs, dessen Refrain allein aus dem Namen des Stargastes besteht: “Re-cep Tay-yip Er-do-gan”. Immer wieder. Seine bevorstehende Ankunft lässt die Anhänger alle paar Minuten in frenetischen Jubel ausbrechen. “Erdogan ist die einzige Führungsfigur, die wir haben”, ruft ein Einpeitscher von der Bühne. Als er die Gezi-Park-Proteste erwähnt, wechselt die Halle von Jubel- zu Buhrufen.

Als der “Sultan der Welt” schließlich die Halle betritt, streuen ihm seine Gefolgsleute Rosen. Buchstäblich. Er winkt der Menge zu, begrüßt die Würdenträger in der ersten Reihe, dann setzt er sich neben seine schwarz verschleierte Frau.

“Die Türkei ist stolz auf dich”, rufen die etwa 7000 Menschen im Saal, zwei, drei, vier Mal. Der Moderator begrüßt den Ehrengast, dann ergreift Abdurrahman Karayazili das Wort, der Vorsitzende der Union Europäischer und Türkischer Demokraten. Seine Organisation hat den “Privatmann” Erdogan eingeladen, um ihr zehnjähriges Bestehen zu feiern. Sie gilt als Auslandsarm von Erdogans Partei AKP, was Karayazili genauso heftig dementiert wie den Vorwurf, Erdogan sei nach Wien gekommen, um wie Ende Mai in Köln und demnächst in Lyon um die Stimmen von Auslandstürken für die Präsidentschaftswahl im August zu werben.

Die Enkel der Wien-Belagerer

Mit eineinhalbstündiger Verspätung erklimmt der Premier die Bühne. Er dankt Österreich für die Gastfreundschaft. Er verurteilt die “Kampagne”, die es vor seinem Auftritt in Köln gegeben habe. Er mische sich nicht in die deutsche oder österreichische Innenpolitik, sagt er. “Mein einziges Ziel seid ihr!” Er beschreibt, wie gut die “neue Türkei” durch die Krise gekommen sei – und er sagt, dass sich niemand vor ihr fürchten müsse. Er erwähnt das Attentat von Sarajevo 1914, aber auch den Namen von Süleyman dem Prächtigen, jenem osmanischen Sultan, der die Türken 1529 erstmals bis Wien führte: “Wir sind alle seine Enkel”, ruft Erdogan, und das Publikum jubelt.

Am Höhepunkt der Rede formuliert er sein altbekanntes Credo: “Assimilation nein, Integration ja!” Dann ruft er seine Zuhörer dazu auf, im August wählen zu gehen, und schließt mit den Worten: “Wir sind alle Brüder und Schwestern.” Die Menge schwenkt ein letztes Mal ihre Fahnen, dann verlassen die Menschen die Halle und jubeln der Wagenkolonne hinterher, in der sie Erdogan vermuten.

Nicht einmal hundert Meter weiter sieht man wieder die bunten Fahnen der Gegner. Ihre Zahl soll auf 6000 angewachsen sein, bevor sie vom Praterstern in Richtung Eishalle aufbricht. Ihr Marsch über die Donau verläuft ziemlich friedlich, bis zum frühen Abend sind jedenfalls noch keine gewalttätigen Ausschreitungen bekannt geworden. Damit das so bleibt, hat die Polizei die Straße zwischen Erdogans Freunden und Feinden gesperrt. Die Stimmung, die bei den Gegnern erst Volksfestcharakter hatte und bei den Anhängern geradezu euphorische Zustände annahm, ist jetzt angespannt.

Drinnen in der Innenstadt ist unterdessen der deutsche Außenminister Frank-Walter Steinmeier eingetroffen. Sein Amtskollege Sebastian Kurz hat ihn vom Flughafen abgeholt und wollte, während Erdogan sich in der Eishalle bejubeln ließ, mit Steinmeier über die Ukraine und Russland sprechen, über Putins Besuch in Wien nächste Woche, vielleicht auch über die Mautpläne der deutschen Regierung.

Der Krisenlöser ist zum Problem geworden

Und Steinmeier richtet am Rande des Besuchs auch ein Wort an Erdogans Regierung – allerdings in Sachen Irak: “Wir sind interessiert daran zu erfahren, ob die Türkei eine Rolle spielt in der Auseinandersetzung – und wenn ja, welche”, sagt der SPD-Politiker. Er will am Freitag mit seinem türkischen Kollegen Ahmet Davutoglu zusammentreffen. Die Türkei hatte erklärt, sie prüfe die Voraussetzungen für einen Militäreinsatz gegen Islamisten im Irak, nachdem diese 80 türkische Staatsbürger als Geiseln genommen hatten.

Alle Regierungen in der Region müssten zur Deeskalation beitragen, mahnt Steinmeier noch. Die Türkei als großer Krisenlöser im Nahen Osten – so sah Erdogan seine Rolle einmal. Doch seine Regierung ließ die Islamisten im syrisch-türkischen Grenzgebiet gewähren und hat dadurch zu ihrem Erstarken beigetragen.

Den Abend wollen die Außenminister bei einem Heurigen in den Grinzinger Weinbergen verbringen. “Zu zweit”, wie ein Sprecher vorab bekannt gab. Den “Privatmann” Erdogan wird Außenminister Kurz erst am Freitag treffen, “auf neutralem Boden”, wie es hieß.

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Kritik an Erdogan-Auftritt in Wien: ”Gefährliches Spiel”

20. Juni 2014, 17:2 Der Standard

Außenminister Sebastian Kurz bat den türkischen Premier zu einem klärenden Gespräch.

Wien – Außenminister Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) ist am Freitagvormittag mit dem türkischen Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan zu einem nach eigenen Angaben “sehr klaren” und zugleich “sehr emotionalen Gespräch” zusammengetroffen. Kurz betonte nach der Unterredung vor Journalisten in Wien, es sei ihm ein Anliegen gewesen, Erdogan zu sagen, “was wir von solch einer Veranstaltung hier in Österreich halten”.

Mit der Veranstaltung war die Rede des türkischen Premiers vor tausenden Anhängern am Donnerstagnachmittag in der Kagraner Albert-Schultz-Eishalle gemeint. Bereits am Vortag hatte Kurz diese als “Wahlkampfrede” kritisiert, die “für Unruhe in unserem Land gesorgt hat”. Von “einigen Provokationen” sprach der Außenminister am Freitag, die Erdogan so jedoch nicht gesehen habe. Man habe festgestellt, dass man in einigen Punkten “ganz eindeutig nicht einer Meinung” sei.

Kritik an Erdogan-Auftritt in Wien: ”Gefährliches Spiel”

20. Juni 2014, 17:20 Der Standard – followed by tomorrow’s article.

Außenminister Sebastian Kurz bat den türkischen Premier zu einem klärenden Gespräch.

Wien – Außenminister Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) ist am Freitagvormittag mit dem türkischen Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan zu einem nach eigenen Angaben “sehr klaren” und zugleich “sehr emotionalen Gespräch” zusammengetroffen. Kurz betonte nach der Unterredung vor Journalisten in Wien, es sei ihm ein Anliegen gewesen, Erdogan zu sagen, “was wir von solch einer Veranstaltung hier in Österreich halten”.

Mit der Veranstaltung war die Rede des türkischen Premiers vor tausenden Anhängern am Donnerstagnachmittag in der Kagraner Albert-Schultz-Eishalle gemeint. Bereits am Vortag hatte Kurz diese als “Wahlkampfrede” kritisiert, die “für Unruhe in unserem Land gesorgt hat”. Von “einigen Provokationen” sprach der Außenminister am Freitag, die Erdogan so jedoch nicht gesehen habe. Man habe festgestellt, dass man in einigen Punkten “ganz eindeutig nicht einer Meinung” sei.

martin thür

Recep Erdo?an: “Wir sind die Enkel Kara Mustafas.” Der türkische Premierminister beim Auftritt in der Wiener Albert-Schultz-Halle.“Er hat das Identitätsthema, das ohnehin ein sehr schwieriges ist, uns noch einmal schwieriger gemacht”, fügte Kurz hinzu. Viele junge Türken in Österreich und Österreicher mit türkischen Wurzeln täten sich oftmals schwer mit der Identitätsfrage. “Und diese Art der Einmischung aus der Türkei ist schädlich für die Integration in Österreich”, so der Außenminister. Erdogan hatte wie bereits zuvor in Köln Auslandstürken empfohlen, sich zu integrieren, aber nicht zu assimilieren.

Der türkische Premier hat sich laut Kurz während des Treffens “in einer eher rechtfertigenden Rolle” befunden. Man habe Erdogan auf viele Inhalte seiner Rede angesprochen. Zudem habe man versucht, ihm den “Fortschritt” der Integrationspolitik in Österreich zu erläutern und auch “wie schwierig” dieser Prozess sei. So würde das Thema Integration heute “sachlicher diskutiert”, und es sei gelungen, “Emotionen aus dem Thema” herauszunehmen. “Daher war dieser Auftritt alles andere als hilfreich”, so Kurz.

Historische Anspielung

Auch die Grünen und die FPÖ kritisierten Erdogans private Wahlveranstaltung für die anstehenden Präsidentenwahlen in der Türkei. Die Klubobfrau der Grünen, Eva Glawischnig, warf Erdogan “ein gefährliches Spiel mit Symbolen” vor. Wie berichtet, hatte er hier lebende Türkeistämmige als “die Enkel des Sultans Süleyman des Prächtigen”, dessen Heer 1529 Wien vor den Toren Wiens stand, bezeichnet. Und weiter: “Wir sind heute nach Wien gekommen, um Herzen zu erobern. Keiner von uns hat Grund, Angst zu spüren oder nervös zu sein.” Davon gibt es auch Videomitschnitte. Der historische Süleyman steht aber freilich auch für eine blutige, osmanische Expansionspolitik.

Auch FPÖ-Bundesparteiobmann Heinz-Christian Strache hakte historisch nach: “Damit hat sich der türkische Despot endgültig als radikaler Nationalist und neoosmanischer Imperialist entlarvt.”

Polizeibilanz: 13.500 Anhänger bei der Rede Erdogans, 7850 Gegner bei Protestdemos, 14 Festnahmen bei Auseinandersetzungen nach Gegendemo. (APA/red, DER STANDARD, 21.6.2014)

  • Kurz und Erdogan beim Treffen am Freitag. Der Außenminister erläuterte dem türkischen Premier Integrationspolitik.  vergrößern (500×339)
    foto: apa/tatic

    Kurz und Erdogan beim Treffen am Freitag. Der Außenminister erläuterte dem türkischen Premier Integrationspolitik.

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AND AS PER AA – The 100 years old ANADOLU AGENCY – THE TURKISH GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL REPORT OF THE EVENT -  A POSITIVE COLLOR TO THE MEETING FOR WHICH THE AUSTRIAN GAVE HIS CLEAR FEELINGS TO THE PRESS.

Turkey’s Erdogan holds ‘positive’ talks in Austria.   it said

20 June 2014 16:27 (Last updated 20 June 2014 16:42)
Prime Minister RecepTayyip Erdogan met Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz in Vienna
 

VIENNA

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan held “positive” talks on Friday with Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz amid a critical reception from the Austrian media.

The 50-minute meeting, closed to the media, came after Kurz said Erdogan’s visit to address Turks living in Austria had “caused disorder”.

The Austrian press had reported that 70 percent of Austrians did not want Erdogan to visit after a similar trip to Germany was criticized for being “divisive”.

Turkey’s Minister for EU Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters the meeting was “very positive” and that Kurz was pleased with Erdogan’s message of integration to Austria’s Turks.

The discussion also touched on further bilateral ties, Turkey’s EU accession process and regional developments, Cavusoglu added. Erdogan also asked Austria to be more active in Turkey’s EU membership process.

www.aa.com.tr/en

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 10th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

The title of the Second Correction of Second Correction – of June 1, 2014 -  to this article was:  “The Party of European Socialists …” for the backing of President for the New European Commission – as we find out serially that this will not be Brussels reality. Now it is crystal clear that the UK, with one foot in the US and one foot in the EU, will just not allow the creation of a strong EU that can become World Power at equal level with the US and China. The UK Prime Minister David Cameron takes cue from the anti-EU UKIP party that won the elections for the European Parliament in the UK, and organizes the resistance to those that represent the two major parties in the European Parliament by insisting that the new Commission has to be dominated by the Member States rather then by their people/citizens. This is nothing less then a hold on to the power that the Parliament was voted to wrestle out from them.

With this reality in lead we lose all hope that the EU can become anything more then the window dressing to a bunch of 28 rather small States united in form but not in fact. This will not lead to the stability that more enlightened Europeans were envisioning.

Our hope now is that the Scots do indeed vote for independence and become their own EU members reducing England to its correct position as an ally of the US and a candidate to join the the United States of America instead. That is what they want and that is what they deserve. The European continent will then be allowed to unite in its own interest and perhaps Russia would then be able to consider its own interest in realigning with it in a Eurasian Economic Union from Lisbon to Vladivostok that can hold the line versus China on its Eastern borders.

THE NEWS OF THE DAY ARE:

Merkel and Cameron in battle over European Commission.

(L-R) Dutch PM Mark Rutte, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British PM David Cameron and Swedish PM Fredrik Reinfeldt an informal meeting on 9 June 2014 in in Harpsund, Sweden. Swedish PM Fredrik Reinfeldt (far right) is hosting the wide-ranging talks at his summer residence in Harpsund

The leaders of Sweden, Germany, Britain and the Netherlands are meeting at a mini-EU summit near Stockholm to try to reach a consensus on European reform.

The controversial question of who is to head the European Commission is likely to be discussed, but not officially.

UK PM David Cameron is expected to try to get leaders on-side to block Jean-Claude Juncker taking the job.

It sets him against German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who publicly supports the ex-Luxembourg leader’s appointment.

Few details from the summit have emerged. However, job creation, institutional changes in the EU and structural reforms to boost EU competitiveness were said to be high on the agenda.

The UK, Sweden and the Netherlands are leading a campaign to block Mr Juncker’s candidacy, which has the support of the largest centre-right political grouping in the European Parliament, the European People’s Party (EPP).

David Cameron, Angela Merkel, Fredrik Reinfeldt and Mark Rutte talk in a boat near the summer residence of the Swedish Prime Minister The four leaders took to the river for a spot of relaxation before the talks began in earnest

Ahead of the two-day talks that began on Monday, Mr Cameron said he had the support of “all major UK parties” in opposing the appointment.

He also spoke to the prime ministers of Italy and Hungary, Matteo Renzi and Viktor Orban, by phone to discuss the matter, Reuters reports.

The BBC’s Ben Wright, in Harpsund, said the scene was set for a lengthy power struggle between EU leaders and the European Parliament over the appointment with the UK worried about the prospect of a “stitch-up”.

A news conference on the outcome of the talks is scheduled for 08:00 GMT on Tuesday.

Role of commissionMr Cameron is strongly opposed to Mr Juncker’s belief in a closer political union between EU member states and has described Brussels as “too big” and “too bossy”.

His hand was strengthened on Monday when the UK opposition Labour party said its MEPs in the European Parliament, which must approve the choice by EU leaders, would vote against Mr Juncker.

On arrival in Sweden, Mr Cameron said it should be EU leaders and not the European Parliament who decide who will head the commission.

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt also dismissed the idea of a stronger role for the European Parliament.

“We in principle dislike the idea of presenting front-runners from the different parties because we think that twists the balance between the institutions and the way that the Lisbon treaty is set up,” he said.

More discussions were needed on the role of the EU commission before looking at names, he added.

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Angela Merkel and Jean-Claude Juncker The German chancellor has given Jean-Claude Juncker her backing 

Juncker: For and againstAngela Merkel: German chancellor, after some hesitation, backed European People’s Party candidate. Some in Germany believe she may be willing to discuss alternatives

David Cameron: Opposed to former Luxembourg PM’s candidacy – said to see him as a “face from the 1980s” who cannot solve the problems of next five years

Fredrik Reinfeldt: Seen as opposed to Mr Juncker and reports in European media suggest Swedish prime minister himself could be compromise candidate

Mark Rutte: Opposed to Mr Juncker, and Dutch PM due to meet Irish prime minister after Swedish summit to discuss alternative candidates

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Dutch PM Mark Rutte told reporters that it was premature to put forward names for who should replace Jose Manuel Barroso as head of the commission.

“My belief is that we should first focus on content, discuss what the new commission should do… then discuss who fits that profile,” he said.

Mrs Merkel said the four leaders would not make a final decision on who they would back, adding that her position was well known.

EU leaders have traditionally named the commission head on their own, but new rules mean they now have to “take into account” the results of the European Parliament elections.

The EPP grouping, of which Mr Juncker is a member, won the largest number of seats in May’s polls, and he has argued that that gives him a mandate.

The decision will be made by the European Council – the official body comprising the 28 leaders – by qualified majority vote. That means no single country can veto the choice.

The decision is expected at an EU summit on 26-27 June although an agreement by then is by no means guaranteed.

More on This Story

Related Stories

From other news sites

 

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The first Correction title was: “Correction to “The Party of European Socialists that backs Martin Schultz for the European Commission presidency seems to have an advantage in the building of a ruling coalition for the EU” – but we found out that this will not be Brussels reality.”  But after 3 days even that title was overtaken by real Brussels life as directed from the 28 Member States’ Capitals – and even some non-member States as well —- Perhaps.

Turns out that while the great gains of the parties of the Right introduced to the EU strong elements that came to undo the EU – these parties will have a hard time creating a new faction in the EU Parliament. In effect there might be two such factions – one based on a UK-Hungary alliance and the other on an Austria-France alliance. Nevertheless, the Black and Red factions are afraid of this invasion of their previously calm and inactive EU. Rather then gearing up for strong leadership – seemingly they are opting for a united front like it is the Austrian Government norm. It loooks that the Austrian Chancellor Mr. Faymann (a Red) initiated this effort by saying he backs Mr. Jean-Claude Junker (a black)  for the position of the New President of the New European Commission, because he got the largest number of votes.

Perhaps this was done in agreement with other heads of State or Government, we will never know, but what we know is that Mr. Junker then turned around and suggested Mr. Martin Schulz, the candidate of the reds, the holder of the second largest number of votes and mandates, should be his only Vice President. In this case the Denmark Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt could replace Mr. Van Rompuy as permanent head of the European Council which according to protocol is the highest EU position {sort of a Senate to the Parliament’s similarity to a House of Representatives}.

Denmark is outside the EURO group and could thus be a bow to the non-Euro States. Similarly the Poland’s Foreign Minister, Mr. Radoslaw Sikorski is being mentioned as a professional, for replacing Lady Catherine Ashton at the EU Foreign Policy desk. Let us see if this short list will be the final one in what has become negotiations run from the Capitals rather then the one we thought will be handled directly by the heads of fracctions based in Brussels.

The Alliance of Socialists and Democrats won only 193 seats in the Parliament and is second largest faction to the 211  member European People’s Party, but when analyzing the rest of the colors’ pallet they seem to have an advantage when judging the potential for coalition building in the 752 member Parliament. A majority means having 376 votes. 

The news of these elections is the emergence of Euro-skeptic parties and Right extremists that are outside the reach of the two rather centrist contenders for heading the new Parliament who will eventually head also the Commission – being something akin to a first EU President. Extreme right and EU skeptists just do not fit in – and that was the target of those that stood up to their home governments anyway.

The two largest blocs that are positioned between the EPP and the S&D – the ALDE liberals and the Greens, amount together to 132 mandates, and they are much closer to Martin Schulz of the S&D who wants to introduce change with a more socially oriented set of policies, then to Jean-Claude Juncker of the EPP who would mean more of the same and a continuation of the policies that allowed the EU to fall into an economic crisis that was set up in the US.

If indeed the two parties mentioned join Martin Schulz, and yesterday I learned from Mr. Gerhard Schick of the German Greens that this is in the cards, then Schulz presents himself as the head of a 325 bloc, which makes it easier for him then for Junker, to reach out to the magic 376 number, or at least be indeed the leader of the largest bloc if it has to be a minority rule.  

Juncker stakes claim to EU commission’s top job  - might thus be premature.

We wonder if all new Members of the European Parliament already packed their suitcases and are off to Brussels to do there the negotiations that eventually will lead to the real results.

EU wakes up to Eurosceptic hangover.
- 26 May 2014
The EU’s mainstream political parties will move quickly to re-establish themselves as the voice of the European parliament, following EU elections that saw a significant increase in support for Eurosceptic, extreme right and anti-establishment parties.
ONE MORE COMMENT – WITH FRANCE BEING REPRESENTED IN THE EU by DELEGATES VOTED IN by 25% of ITS POPULATION THAT IS ANTI-EU, and THE UK HAVING ALSO A LARGE REPRESENTATION OF ANTI-EU MANDATARIES, Mr. SCHULZ COULD FINALLY MOVE AWAY FROM THE NONSENSE SECOND SEAT  IN STRASBOURG THAT WAS AN EXPENSIVE GIVEAWAY TO FRANCE. REALLY – HE WILL OWE THEM NOTHING.
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PES say Eurosceptic election swing sounds ‘warning bell.’

Written by Martin Banks on 26 May 2014 in News – The Parliament Magazine.

Party of European Socialists president Sergei Stanishev has conceded that the rise of far right and Eurosceptic parties in the elections sounds a “warning bell” for the political elite.

 

Martin Schulz and Sergei Stanishev at a Party of European Socialists event in the European parliament

Speaking at a news conference in parliament on Monday, the former Bulgarian prime minister said the big gains for such parties was “not so much about European politics but more about national policies and a protest vote”.

He went on, “The fact that parties like Front National and UKIP, which won more votes in the UK than another other party, can gain such support do so well is very serious and cause for concern. It should sound a warning bell to other parties and send a message that European people want change.”

“The EPP is the party which has run Europe for the last 10 years during the economic crisis and they were the big losers even though they remain the biggest group in parliament” Sergei Stanishev

Stanishev said the “big losers” in the election were the EPP, which he said had lost 60 seats and seen its share of the vote fall by some 20 per cent compared with the 2009 elections.

“The EPP is the party which has run Europe for the last 10 years during the economic crisis and they were the big losers even though they remain the biggest group in parliament.”

He said the Socialist vote share had remained stable compared with five years ago but voiced veiled disappointment that it had not done better. Even so, he said he was confident the party remained well placed to achieve its objectives in the next legislature, including further regulation of financial markets.

He also praised his colleague, German MEP Martin Schulz, a candidate for the commission presidency and parliament’s president, for an “outstanding” electoral campaign, saying he had “reached” 150 million citizens via social media. “His profile is now even bigger than it was before the election.”

Stanishev. who has led the Bulgarian Socialist party since 2001, also insisted that member states must “take account” of the outcome of the vote in deciding the next commission head, adding that, on this, he believes PES are in a “stronger position” than the EPP.

Addressing the same conference, PES general secretary Achim Post said, “It is now up to the political group leaders to form a ‘stable’ majority and the Socialists will play a decisive role in this.”

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BUT WAKING UP ON WEDNESDAY MORNING WE FOUND THAT THE POLITICAL REALITY IS SUCH THAT THE SOCIALISTS OF VARIOUS COUNTRIES WILL NOT WANT TO UPSET THE GERMAN CHANCELLOR Ms. ANGELA MERKEL WHO PREFERS TO BACK THE BLACK  PARTY CANDIDATE WHO HAPPENS TO BE FROM LUXEMBOURG, OVER THE SOCIALIST CANDIDATE WHO HAPPENS TO BE FROM THE GERMAN OPPOSITION.

Above is good for a Europe if it wants to be seen as a post-Nationalism Union that gives preference to ideas over National identity.  But then, Mr. Junker does not get yet free sailing as members of his own European Party – from the UK, Hungary, and Sweden seem to prefer alternatives from inside the EPP  – names from Finland and Italy being mentioned.

The political juggling seems even more interesting when the other positions to be filled are taken into account.

As possible  compensation for Mr. Schulz getting himself out of contention – he might then get to be the German Commissioner – although one would have expected someone closer to the German Chancellor. Austria seems to follow the German example with the Red Party Chancellor from the Red Party declaring his backing for the candidate of the Black Party as he got more votes. This opens the question whom will he support for Commissioner from Austria?

With a Catholic holiday on Thursday there is no chance now that the Parliament will have a prospective winner before the end of this week,  another week of politics is still in the cards, and in effect it might take all of the month of June.

Also, if Mr. Junker does not get full backing from his own party and does not reach a majority – then according to Parliament norm the ball is passed to the second largest faction and that is Mr. Schulz – so it might be that the wheel might still turn in his direction. Seemingly Mr. David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, has the ropes in his hands – but in mind he has the success  the anti-EU UKIP party had at these elections. Similarly France is looking at the success the Le Pen Front National had on Sunday. Does this mean that these two EU members are now favoring a weakened EU because this seemed to be the wish of their countrymen?

The French Christian Democrat Joseph Daul is leading the Black Faction negotiators and Austrian Commissioner Hannes Swoboda is leading the Red Party negotiators with outgoing Head of the Parliament, the Belgian Hermann Van-Rompuy the address of their efforts. Who will get his job? Could it be that this position will go to the Commissioer from Poland – Ms. Danuta Hebner?

 

 

 

About the author:   Martin Banks is a veteran freelance, Brussels-based journalist specialising in European politics.

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

 

Excessive diesel car usage cause severe atmospheric hazard in Paris.

Published on : Saturday, March 15, 2014

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

———————————–

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

###

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

 We wonder that anti-EU British and Dutch Right-Wingers were not mentioned among the invitees – perhaps that was an oversight of the reporter?

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

Russia invites EU far-right to observe Crimea vote.

from the EUobserver – 13.03.14

By Benjamin Fox

 

BRUSSELS – The Russian government has invited some of Europe’s far-right parties to observe this weekend’s referendum in Crimea.

The leader of France’s National Front party, Marine Le Pen, told press at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday (12 March) that her executive has not yet decided whether to go.

The Austrian Freedom party, a National Front ally, also got an invitation.

Crimeans will go to the polls on Sunday to pick one of two options: “Are you in favour of Crimea becoming a constituent territory of the Russian Federation?” or “Are you in favour of restoring Crimea’s 1992 constitution? [on semi-autonomy inside Ukraine].”With Russian soldiers and paramilitaries in control of streets and public buildings, the vote will effectively be held at gunpoint.

EU leaders have said the referendum is illegal.

The G7 club of wealthy nations, which also includes Canada, Japan, and the US, described it as a “deeply flawed process which would have no moral force.”

The OSCE, a Vienna-based multilateral body, has also declined to send observers because the vote was called in violation of Ukraine’s constitution.

But for her part, Le Pen voiced sympathy for Russia, even if it opts to annex the territory after Sunday’s result.

“Crimea is not like the rest of the country … it is very closely linked to Russia,” she said, adding: “We have to take account of the history of Crimea.”

“From the outset of the crisis we [the National Front] have said that Ukraine should maintain its sovereignty but allow the three main regions to have a lot of autonomy.”

She described the prospect of EU economic sanctions against Russia as “dangerous” and echoed Russian propaganda on the new authorities in Kiev.

“We should have some qualms about the new government because it was not elected … We know that there are neo-Nazis and extremists in this government,” she said.

With Europe’s far-right keen to play up the Ukrainian crisis as an EU foreign policy blunder, Austrian MEP Andreas Moelzer, from the Freedom Party, told Austrian news agency APA also on Wednesday that he is considering Putin’s offer.

“We are among the few who try to understand Russia,” he said.

———–

The Soviet Union made Crimea part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1954.

Some 58 percent of its 2 million people are ethnic Russians.

But ethnic Russians became the majority only in World War II, when Stalin deported hundreds of thousands of Armenians, Bulgarians, Jews, Germans, Greeks, and Tatars from the region.

The 800,000 or so Ukrainian speakers who live there now form the majority in nine districts.

The 250,000 or so Tatars in Crimea have appealed for EU, US, and Turkish help to keep them from falling under Putin’s rule.

 

Crimean Tatars Face Uncertain Future

Seventy years after Stalin brutally deported thousands of Crimean Tatars to Central Asia, the descendants of those who returned fear repression as Russia tightens its grip on the peninsula.

. Related Article

 

Amid Preparations, Mediator Says Syria Vote Would Doom Talks

By SOMINI SENGUPTA

Lakhdar Brahimi said there were many signs that Syria’s government was planning an election, though that would be counterproductive for talks.

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

OUR CONCLUSION:
ELECTIONS AT GUN-POINT ARE A FAKE DEMOCRATIC WAY TO HELP DESPOTS ACHIEVE THEIR GOALS. WE THINK THE US TEA-PARTY COULD ALSO TAKE A BREAK BY GOING TO THE CRIM.  WE SAY THIS WITHOUT
JUDGEMENT OF THE MERITS OF THE ISSUE AT HAND – RATHER BY THINKING ONLY OF THE SUSTAINABILITY OF THE APPROACH OF CALLING FOR DISPUTED ELECTIONS WITHOUT A WIDE RANGE OF OBSERVERS.

 ======================

THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF INFORMATION ABOUT US-RUSSIA DISCUSSIONS IS AS FOLLOWS:

Remarks

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Winfield House
London, United Kingdom
March 14, 2014

 


 

SECRETARY KERRY: Good morning, everybody. My pleasure to welcome Foreign Minister Lavrov to Winfield House, the American Embassy residence here in London. Obviously, we have a lot to talk about. I look forward to the opportunity to dig into the issues and possibilities that we may be able to find about how to move forward together to resolve some of the differences between us. And we look forward, I know, to a good conversation.

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via interpreter) Well, I’m also satisfied to have this meeting today. This is a difficult situation we are in. Many events have happened and a lot of time has been lost, so now we have to think what can be done. Thank you.

AND THAT IS HOW IT IS.

###

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

 

 

A Tsar’s Bride Dmitri Tcherniakov has set this Rimsky-Korsakov work, with Olga Peretyatko (in white suit) in the title role, in a TV studio, at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan. Credit Brescia/Amisano-Teatro alla Scala

 

MILAN — The Oprichniks were the murderous henchmen of Ivan the Terrible, torturing and killing the czar’s enemies.

It says a lot about the Russian director Dmitri Tcherniakov’s world view that he has chosen to reimagine these thugs as contemporary television executives in his exhilarating production of Rimsky-Korsakov’s “The Tsar’s Bride” at the Teatro alla Scala here. This lurid tale of jealousy, insanity and the search for a royal wife has become, in Mr. Tcherniakov’s alchemical hands, a vivid, unsettling reflection on the media and the fast-disintegrating line between what seems real and what is.

It isn’t the first time that this director has brought a new angle to an older work. His charged, often claustrophobic interpretations of operas like Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” and Verdi’s “Il Trovatore” over the past few years have revealed fresh narratives and unexpected emphases in well-trodden classics. Just last month at the Metropolitan Opera, his new production of Borodin’s “Prince Igor” added some sections, cut others and rearranged what was left to create a dreamy portrait of a ruler and society thrown out of joint by the hunger for war.

Ms. Peretyatko, left, and the mezzo Anna Lapkovskaja in ‘‘The Tsar’s Bride.’’ Credit Brescia/Amisano-Teatro alla Scala

 

But “Prince Igor” is a torso. Borodin never finished it and, as far as an overarching structure, barely even started it, a fact that even the Met’s strong production couldn’t conceal. While Mr. Tcherniakov’s version of “Igor” showed craft and care, it was bracing on Wednesday, at the second performance of “The Tsar’s Bride,” to see what he is capable of when he actually has a full opera to work with.

Like many Russian masterpieces, this Rimsky-Korsakov piece, which premiered in 1899, is still a relative rarity in the West, and it hasn’t always gotten the respect it deserves. It can seem, at first glance, a rather superficially sumptuous melodrama. But this performance made a strong case for its glimmers of forward-thinking angularity as well as its late-Verdian propulsion: it is an assemblage of set pieces — arias, ensembles, choruses — that presses forward with vigor.

The plot takes its cue from an encyclopedia footnote about which little is known: Ivan the Terrible’s brief third marriage to a commoner who was selected from 12 finalists for his hand and who died mysteriously a few days after their wedding. In the opera, this young woman, Marfa, is the pawn in a tangled love story that leaves her insane, succumbing to poison, and several other people dead.

The odd thing about Rimsky-Korsakov’s telling is that while there’s certainly a bride in it, there’s no czar. The one time in the original libretto that the fearsome Ivan seems to enter the picture, we’re not even sure it’s him: Marfa and her friend think they recognize his dreadful eyes in an anonymous man on horseback.

First at the Berlin Staatsoper in October and now in Milan, and both times with Daniel Barenboim conducting, Mr. Tcherniakov has taken this empty space at the opera’s core and run with it. The curtain rises on a TV studio where what seems to be a storybook pageant about old Russia is being filmed.

Before the overture is over, video projections bring us into an online chat among the Oprichnik-executives, who propose the need to invent a fake czar. A computer-generated leader is swiftly created for the public to revere and fear, and a “Bachelor”-style competition is started to help choose his bride.

At its heart this is yet another iteration of the theater-within-the-theater conceit that has tripped up even gifted directors. (See Stefan Herheim’s London production of Verdi’s “Les Vêpres Siciliennes” last fall.) But Mr. Tcherniakov makes it work with the fresh energy of his concept and the vital performances he draws from his cast.

All the world’s a screen in this “Tsar’s Bride,” a society distinguished most by the ceaseless generation and consumption of “content.” So Lyubasha, driven to desperation by jealousy, performs part of her first-act monologue in front of the cameras in an empty studio.

At the end, the innocent Marfa’s mad scene is filmed — ready to join happier, earlier clips flickering on the studio monitors. Becoming a media spectacle may be the most fitting way for her to go, in a live-by-the-sword, die-by-the-sword way: Throughout the previous acts, the Oprichniks’ product — a manufactured reality, half-news, half-entertainment — has been gobbled up from the television at Marfa’s family’s home. (We glimpse a few seconds of battle footage, too, lest anyone forget what all the fuss about a royal wedding is distracting from.)

Mr. Tcherniakov’s tweaks yield some of the production’s most effective moments. In the original libretto, the vindictive Lyubasha secretly spies on Marfa, her romantic rival. But here the encounter was face to face, making Lyubasha’s furious vows both more terrifying and more pitiable.

This director designed his own set, as is his usual practice, and it is a rotating wonder that makes possible, for instance, an elegant transition into the first-act trio. The world of the opera is rendered as a hermetic, arid interior. Nature is just another image, whether in the form of video of sun-dappled leaves or in the flowered wallpaper of Marfa’s living room.

The intense performances, not least that of the theater’s vibrant chorus, popped against this stark setting. The dusky-voiced mezzo Marina Prudenskaya’s Lyubasha was a small miracle of barely contained despair. The tenor Pavel Cernoch was a bright-voiced wimp as Marfa’s childhood sweetheart, Lykov, and the bass Anatoli Kotscherga a bearish presence as her father, Sobakin.

His baritone husky and lithe, Johannes Martin Kränzle was a bitter cynic at the heart of a cruel game as Gryaznoy, the Oprichnik mastermind of the czar’s bride scheme. The mezzo Anna Lapkovskaja was warm-hearted and warm-toned as Marfa’s friend, Dunyasha. The veteran soprano Anna Tomowa-Sintow was touchingly deluded as her mother, Saburova.

Her voice and manner agile and girlish in the early acts, the soprano Olga Peretyatko was transformed into a bitter Norma Desmond lookalike for a riveting mad scene, her eyes glittering under the studio spotlights. (She gets another descent into insanity next month as Elvira in Bellini’s “I Puritani” for her Metropolitan Opera debut.)

Mr. Barenboim brought out the music’s broad sweep and agitated details in moments like the febrile trembling as Gryaznoy toasts the bride-to-be in Act 3. He led the brass blasts at the start of the fourth act, each of which recedes into quiet unease, with a tautness and weight that revealed their debt to the opening of Wagner’s “Götterdämmerung.”

I wondered how the plusher Metropolitan Opera Orchestra would sound in this score, which has never been performed at the Met. I hope to have the chance to find out before too long, perhaps in Mr. Tcherniakov’s daringly theatrical production, a natural fit if ever there was one for media-driven New York.

The Tsar’s Bride. Directed by Dmitri Tcherniakov. Teatro alla Scala, Milan.Through March 14. teatroallascala.org.

 

 

###

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

###

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

 

Auschwitz survivor Leon Greenman displays his number tattoo. (photo: Ian Waldie/Getty Images)
Auschwitz survivor Leon Greenman displays his number tattoo. (photo: Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

Denying the Holocaust: What Would Hitler Do?

By Steve Weissman, Reader Supported News

26 January 14

 

erhaps Hitler did not kill enough,” lamented the deputy mayor, castigating Gypsies in his town last summer. If, in America, a local official said the same – whether about Gypsies, gays, Jews, or immigrants – decent people would condemn him, and the whole nasty business would quickly fade away. Not here in France, where the law makes it a crime to deny, minimize, or defend the Holocaust. So, Libération has now reported that the court found Gilles Bourdeleix guilty of “a crime against Humanity.”

This sounds really big, I know, but do not be fooled. The Frenchman’s punishment was a €3000 ($4,180) fine, which the court suspended, as seems par for the course. Even if the judges come down harder, an 8-time repeat offender like the openly anti-Semitic and Nazi-miming comic Dieudonné still has not paid a cent or served time in prison.

As an expatriate American who lives by free speech, I find all this bizarre. But prevailing French attitudes also offend the country’s older values. Remember learning about the eighteenth century Voltaire, who vowed to defend to the death the right to express ideas he detested? Not here. Not now. Too many of his countrymen no longer grasp the distinction between defending someone’s rights and promoting their views.

Drawing this all-important line can be tricky – and nowhere more painful than with the organized campaign to deny the Holocaust. Though few remember, this was a political movement in part “Made in America,” where die-hard defenders of Adolph Hitler used their First Amendment freedoms to pollute American politics and peddle their poison across the Atlantic and into the Middle East.

“Hitler’s defeat was the defeat of Europe. And of America,” wrote the organizer and conspiracist Willis Carto in a purloined letter that journalist Drew Pearson quoted in his syndicated column in February 1967­. “How could we have been so blind? The blame, it seems, must be laid at the door of the international Jews. It was their propaganda, lies and demands which blinded the West to what Germany was doing.”

Unabashed in his enthusiasm for the Nazis, Carto became “undoubtedly the central figure in the post-World War II American far right,” explains his biographer, the anti-extremist academic George Michael. In 1958, Carto founded the Liberty Lobby and made it “a big tent” for everyone from Ku Klux Klansman David Duke to the libertarian Ron Paul, who used the group’s mailing list to sell subscriptions to his own racist newsletters.

Believing that Jews were “Public Enemy No. 1,” Carto railed incessantly against “the Jew-Zionist international banker’s conspiracy.” Warning of “the inevitable niggerification of America,” he backed the segregationist Citizens’ Councils in the South and helped organize George Wallace’s 1968 campaign for president. Then, after the election, he joined with the long-time American Nazi William Pierce to create what became the more out-of-the-closet National Alliance. Carto soon broke with the group, while Pierce went on to write “The Turner Diaries,” which inspired The Order, the Aryan Republican Army, and Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

For years, Carto has remained a non-stop propagandist and purveyor of right-wing conspiracy theories, which would-be progressives too often buy. Carto’s hate sheet “The Spotlight” was “the most influential medium of the far right.” His Noontide Press peddled such classics as “The Protocols of the Learned Sages of Zion” and his mentor Frances Parker Yockey’s “Imperium,” which became the Mein Kampf of the postwar “Fascist International.” At various times, Carto sponsored the nationally syndicated daily talk show Radio Free America and had his hand in a string of unsavory publications, including “Western Destiny,” “American Mercury,” “Washington Observer Newsletter,” “Barnes Review,” and “American Free Press.” As far as I know, only the last two are still going, and both have continued to feature the fellow-traveling Ron Paul.

Carto’s most lasting legacy lives on in the Institute for Historical Review (IHR), which he created in 1979 to shepherd his fellow Hitler fans, both open and covert, into a concerted campaign to deny that the Führer ever set out to eliminate European Jews. Most of IHR’s arguments had circulated for years, often in Carto’s “Spotlight.” With his new institute, Carto tried to give them an academic gloss and a multi-national thrust.

A featured speaker at IHR’s founding conference and a member of its advisory board was a French university professor, Robert Faurisson, who had just emerged from well-deserved obscurity with an article in Le Monde called “The Problem of the Gas Chambers or the Rumor of Auschwitz.” His argument – and that of the IHR and its “Journal of Historical Review” – was deceptively simple: that the Nazis never committed sys­tematic genocide against the Jews. No gas chambers, except to disinfect clothing and kill lice. No death camps. No Holocaust. Many Jews might have died from exhaustion, hunger, or disease, Faurisson admitted. But the Germans never set out to exterminate them.

“Hitler no more committed ‘genocide’ than did Napoleon, Stalin, Churchill or Mao,” he declared. “Hitler never ordered nor permitted that anyone should be killed on account of his race or his religion.”

Such stories, Faurisson argued, were one huge historic lie, the invention of Allied propaganda and continuing media-hype. “The principal beneficiaries of the operation have been the state of Israel and international Zionism. The principal victims have been the German people – but not its leaders – and the Palestinian people as a whole.”

On the surface, Faurisson wrote in measured tones, presenting himself as a humane, even-handed scholar in the tradition of earlier revisionist historians like Harry Elmer Barnes who had ques­tioned one-sided anti-German interpretations of World War I. But, on closer reading, Faurisson showed exactly where he was coming from. He too easily dismissed all eyewitness testimony about the gas chambers, especially from Jewish survivors, whom he unfailingly portrayed as false witnesses, telling either fantasies or lies. He dis­counted or misrepresented thousands of state­ments, documents, and other evidence that ran counter to the case he was making. He overlooked some 1.3 million Eastern European Jews that SS leader Heinrich Himmler’s mobile killing squads, the Einsatsgruppen, systematically shot or gassed in specially built vans. He offered bogus “technical proof” that the gas chambers at Auschwitz and other death camps could not have existed as survivors described them. And, he tried to explain away Nazi imprison­ing of the Jews largely as a response to some interna­tional Jewish decla­ration of war against Hitler’s Germany.

Had Faurisson never read the banned “Mein Kampf?” Did he not believe the Führer, who wrote as early as 1922 that his “first and foremost task will be the annihilation of the Jews?”

Far from presenting the complexities of even-handed historical research, Faurisson put out simplistic propaganda of an obvious kind. As if to flaunt his ideological predi­lec­tions, he had aired an earlier version of his essay in Defense de l’Occident, a journal published by Maurice Bardèche, the country’s best-known Fascist intellectual and a founding father of French negationnisme, as critics here call it.

In his writing, Faurisson also celebrated his intellectual debt to another of the early deniers, Paul Rassinier, a veteran of the Resistance whom the Nazis had deported to Buchenwald. An ex-Stalinist, a Socialist, and an anti-Semite – a combination not unknown in France – Rassinier wrote several books that Bardèche published, first minimizing, then rejecting the existence of gas chambers, and denying the death of anywhere near six million Jews. Faurisson portrayed himself as a disciple of Rassinier.

Faurisson drew as well on other prominent anti-Semites. One was Arthur Butz, an American engineering professor whose “Hoax of the Twentieth Century” was pub­lished by Britain’s neo-Fascist National Front. Butz dismissed Auschwitz as just a rubber factory for the Nazi war effort. Another was an embittered German judge and ex-artillery officer, Wilhelm Stäglish, who wrote “The Auschwitz Myth.” He wrote it, he said, to free his fellow Germans from their “national guilt complex” and subservience to “international Jewry.”

All this came together in Willis Carto’s Institute for Historical Research, which became the world’s chief sponsor of Holocaust denial. Even after Carto lost control of IHR in 1993 in a very public, litigious feud, it has continued to promote the movement, while he has made his “Barnes Review” a competing revisionist journal.

One further note. In the U.S., denying the Holocaust has never won much of a popular following beyond the far-right fringe. In France and the rest of Europe, these neo-Nazi ideas have won a far broader base, encouraged in no small measure by restrictive speech laws and criminal prosecutions, which only give publicity to people like Faurisson and Dieudonné and turn them into anti-establishment martyrs. This is a lesson worth remembering on both sides of the Atlantic, especially today, the anniversary of the day Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz.


A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he is researching a new book, “Big Money: How Global Banks, Corporations, and Speculators Rule and How To Break Their Hold.”

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 19th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Brazil Snubs Boeing in Fighter Jet Deal

 

Fabrice Coffrini/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The aircraft maker Saab’s Gripen F. The company agreed to share more technology for Brazil’s Gripen NG jets with contractors.

 

 

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — In a disappointment for Boeing, Brazilian defense officials said on Wednesday that they had picked the aircraft maker Saab for a $4.5 billion contract to build 36 fighter jets over the next 10 years.

The Brazilian defense minister, Celso Amorim, told reporters at a news conference in Brasilia that Saab was selected over Boeing because it had agreed to share more technology with contractors and because many parts for the new jet, the Gripen NG, would be made in Brazil.

The decision “took into account performance, the effective transfer of technology and costs, not only of acquisition, but also of maintenance,” Mr. Amorim said in a statement. He was accompanied by Gen. Juniti Saito, the Brazilian air force’s chief of staff. “The decision was based on these three factors.”

The announcement comes at a time of heightened tension between the United States and Brazil. In September, the Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff, canceled a state visit to the United States after revelations that the National Security Agency was spying on foreign heads of state, including her.

In a speech at the United Nations that month, Ms. Rousseff gave a blistering attack on the United States for its “illegal interception of information and data.”

In a response to the outcry over the spying, a panel of advisers for President Obama on Wednesday recommended limiting the wide-ranging collection of personal data and restricting operations to spy on foreign leaders.

When asked at the news conference if the spying had anything to do with the decision to award the contract to Saab, Mr. Amorim did not answer directly, instead repeating reasons of cost and technology sharing.

Analysts said Brazil had many financial and practical reasons to award the contract to Saab.

Richard L. Aboulafia, an aviation analyst at Teal Group in Fairfax, Va., said that while Brazil’s disenchantment over the N.S.A.’s spying could have played a role in the decision, costs were probably a bigger factor.

“You’re talking about a military service that doesn’t need a heavyweight front-line fighter and has suffered a budget squeeze and hasn’t been able to fly the planes that it owns,” he said.

He added that a basic version of the Saab jet might cost about $45 million, compared with $55 million for Boeing’s basic F/A-18 Super Hornet.

And the Gripen’s fuel costs would be half of that for the Boeing plane. Both jets use the same engine, but the Super Hornet has two engines and the Gripen one.

A study by the military publisher IHS Jane’s said that the Gripen costs about $4,700 an hour to fly — the lowest among modern fighter jets — compared with the $11,000 for the Super Hornet.

Boeing said that the decision was “disappointing” and that it would talk to the Brazilian air force to better understand it. The company, based in Chicago, said it would still look for chances to expand its partnerships in Brazil.

The loss was also difficult for Boeing because there are only a few fighter competitions going on around the world and the United States Navy plans to stop buying the F/A-18’s.

While most countries that want high-tech fighters are buying Lockheed Martin’s more advanced F-35, many other countries cannot afford even top older models like the F/A-18. So far, Australia is Boeing’s only export customer for the jet.

By contrast, Saab’s more workaday Gripen models are flown by several other countries.

Brazil originally began its quest for new fighters to replace its aging Mirages more than a decade ago. Brazil’s former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, wanted to buy Dassault’s Rafale fighter jets in 2009 instead of the F/A-18.

But a change in administration in Brazil, and the country’s deteriorating financial condition, helped alter the equation. A Brazilian news report on Saturday said that Dassault had already been eliminated from the competition even though the French president, François Hollande, backed the jet on a visit to Brazil last week.

Terms of the deal must still be negotiated over the next year, but delivery of the first batch of Gripen NG jets is expected in 2018.

Also on Wednesday, Boeing announced the promotion of Dennis A. Muilenburg, the head of its military business, to vice chairman, president and chief operating officer of the company.

Analysts said that move made Mr. Muilenburg, 49, the heir apparent to Boeing’s chief executive, W. James McNerney Jr., who is 64.

Ray Conner, the chief executive of Boeing’s commercial airplane division, was also named a Boeing vice chairman while keeping his current responsibilities. Christopher M. Chadwick, 53, will succeed Mr. Muilenburg as chief executive of Boeing’s military unit.

Dan Horch reported from São Paulo, Brazil, and Christopher Drew from New York.

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

These last days showed us that France might yet be the last bastion of common sense.

First the issue of the Geneva negotiations with Iran. It was the French that put their foot flat on the ground and said that the heavy-water, Plutonium producing  nuclear reactor must go. simply said – when they see a madman they recognize his truth. There is no sense in negotiating numbers of centrifuges for the enrichment of Uranium if in the background there is left a Plutonium producer. OK – that is clear to us.

But then the Krugman column in the New York Times tells us that France has the Best Health-Care System available, they have the best Safety Net for their people, and a reasonably sound economy as part of the EU, probably only second to that of Germany, so why does America’s – or to be more exact – Wall Street’s Standard and poor downgrade them? Krugman, a Nobel Prize winning economist, but not a Wall Street stuge, says plainly that their economy is better then that of Netherlands these days but it is the Dutch that still have an AAA rating.

Then comes Olli Rehn, Europe’s commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, who recommends that France undo its social benefits so they can be more like Republican America? That is all crazy and we hope the French continue to hold their own even if they read that Germans and Americans badmouth them as opponents of the Western majority.

I just spent ten minutes contemplating why this all happens and decided that it is because France was not allowed by Roosevelt and Churchill to be part of the Anglo-Saxon exploitation of the Middle East oil and extended therefore its reach into North Africa where it was the first to hit Islamic wrath. They fought back but the very unusual man – the long bodied Charles de Gaulle extricated them in time and squashed the French equivalent of the Tea Party in the process. Then, let it not be forgotten, it was France that helped in the nuclear aspirations of Israel – this so it would not be overrun again by an angry mob of Arabs as it happened in 1948.

Yes, France stood many times in America’s way but in many cases they may have had the more lucid vision. This week we have two examples of such a more positive vision and we feel like joining Paul Krugman in his campaign to stop bad-mouthing the French on issues they are right.

 

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The Plot Against France

 

 

 

On Friday Standard & Poor’s, the bond-rating agency, downgraded France. The move made headlines, with many reports suggesting that France is in crisis. But markets yawned: French borrowing costs, which are near historic lows, barely budged.

So, what’s going on here? The answer is that S.& P.’s action needs to be seen in the context of the broader politics of fiscal austerity. And I do mean politics, not economics. For the plot against France — I’m being a bit tongue in cheek here, but there really are a lot of people trying to bad-mouth the place — is one clear demonstration that in Europe, as in America, fiscal scolds don’t really care about deficits. Instead, they’re using debt fears to advance an ideological agenda. And France, which refuses to play along, has become the target of incessant negative propaganda.

Let me give you an idea of what we’re talking about. A year ago the magazine The Economist declared France “the time bomb at the heart of Europe,” with problems that could dwarf those of Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy. In January 2013, CNN Money’s senior editor-at-large declared France in “free fall,” a nation “heading toward an economic Bastille.” Similar sentiments can be found all over economic newsletters.

Given such rhetoric, one comes to French data expecting to see the worst. What you find instead is a country experiencing economic difficulties —
who isn’t? — but in general performing as well as or better than most of its neighbors, with the admittedly big exception of Germany. Recent French growth has been sluggish, but much better than that of, say, the Netherlands, which is still rated AAA. According to standard estimates, French workers were actually a bit more productive than their German counterparts a dozen years ago — and guess what, they still are.

Meanwhile, French fiscal prospects look distinctly nonalarming. The budget deficit has fallen sharply since 2010, and the International Monetary Fund expects the ratio of debt to G.D.P. to be roughly stable over the next five years.

What about the longer-run burden of an aging population? This is a problem in France, as it is in all wealthy nations. But France has a higher birthrate than most of Europe — in part because of government programs that encourage births and ease the lives of working mothers — so that its demographic projections are much better than those of its neighbors, Germany included. Meanwhile, France’s remarkable health care system, which delivers high quality at low cost, is going to be a big fiscal advantage looking forward.

By the numbers, then, it’s hard to see why France deserves any particular opprobrium. So again, what’s going on?

Here’s a clue: Two months ago Olli Rehn, Europe’s commissioner for economic and monetary affairs — and one of the prime movers behind harsh austerity policies — dismissed France’s seemingly exemplary fiscal policy. Why? Because it was based on tax increases rather than spending cuts — and tax hikes, he declared, would “destroy growth and handicap the creation of jobs.”

In other words, never mind what I said about fiscal discipline, you’re supposed to be dismantling the safety net.

S.& P.’s explanation of its downgrade, though less clearly stated, amounted to the same thing: France was being downgraded because “the French government’s current approach to budgetary and structural reforms to taxation, as well as to product, services and labor markets, is unlikely to substantially raise France’s medium-term growth prospects.” Again, never mind the budget numbers, where are the tax cuts and deregulation?

You might think that Mr. Rehn and S.& P. were basing their demands on solid evidence that spending cuts are in fact better for the economy than tax increases. But they weren’t. In fact, research at the I.M.F. suggests that when you’re trying to reduce deficits in a recession, the opposite is true: temporary tax hikes do much less damage than spending cuts.

Oh, and when people start talking about the wonders of “structural reform,” take it with a large heaping of salt. It’s mainly a code phrase for deregulation — and the evidence on the virtues of deregulation is decidedly mixed. Remember, Ireland received high praise for its structural reforms in the 1990s and 2000s; in 2006 George Osborne, now Britain’s chancellor of the Exchequer, called it a “shining example.” How did that turn out?

If all this sounds familiar to American readers, it should. U.S. fiscal scolds turn out, almost invariably, to be much more interested in slashing Medicare and Social Security than they are in actually cutting deficits. Europe’s austerians are now revealing themselves to be pretty much the same. France has committed the unforgivable sin of being fiscally responsible without inflicting pain on the poor and unlucky. And it must be punished.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

dates: 3-14 December 2014   -   location: Peru  

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

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

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UNFCCC COP 21

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

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

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

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

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See also, please -

 

Climate Change: The Road to Paris 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

On Kristallnacht anniversary, Obama calls for speaking out against intolerance.

President warns of ‘the tragic consequences of silence in the face of unmitigated hatred’

November 8, 2013, 11:47 pm
President Barack Obama (photo credit:AP/Cliff Owen)

President Barack Obama (photo credit:AP/Cliff Owen)

WASHINGTON — The lesson of Kristallnacht is to speak out “against anti-Semitism and intolerance,” President Obama said in marking the 75th anniversary of the pogrom that presaged the Holocaust.

“Kristallnacht foreshadowed the systematic slaughter of six million Jews and millions of other innocent victims,” Obama said.

“Seventy-five years later, Kristallnacht now signifies the tragic consequences of silence in the face of unmitigated hatred,” he said in a statement. “As we mark this anniversary, let us act in keeping with the lessons of that dark night by speaking out against anti-Semitism and intolerance, standing up to indifference, and re-committing ourselves to combating prejudice and persecution wherever it exists.”

Riots on Nov. 9 and 10 1938 organized by German authorities killed 91 Jews, destroyed 267 synagogues and were followed by the deportation of 30,000 Jews to concentration camps.

The systematized attacks, which came to be known as the Night of Broken Glass, anticipated the mass slaughter of European Jewry launched three years later.

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On this same date in 2013 we received from our friend Keyvon Afshari, who managed  Professor Hooshang Amirahmadi’s campaign for the Presidency of Iran. It seems now as if the winner – the academic-cleric Hassan Rouhani – backed by the religious establishment in Iran that also backed his predecessor – the accomplished mini-monster Ahmadi-Nejad – has in effect taken over the rational policies that the American Iranian Council proposed.

But the problem is that the credibility of the whole establishment in Tehran is about at the level of the NAZI party of Munich, Germany of 1933.
We believe they should be taken by their word and trusted that they will push for the victory of their crazy doctrine and could lead to a new Holocaust.

Personally, having campaigned with former Iran Ambassador to the UN, the present Foreign Minister of Iran, the same Mr. Javad Zarif, who spends now 8 hours in face-to-face meetings with his US counterpart Mr. Johm Kerry, and I asked him why does not Iran shoulder on the development of renewable energy as I know they have the needed scientists and could become leaders in this area – this rather the pursuing an economically  failed nuclear power policy? He answered me that Iran has an inalienable right to nuclear power like any other Nation and he will not give this up. But we all know by now that this was a fake contention and it was not electricity they were after – it is the BOMB they want and why should we trust them with a bomb when they declare openly that they want to use it in effect. And by saying THEY I mean people that believe in the after-life in the bosom of their privately-owned man-become-God. Yes this is a form of religion based racism that is of the NAZI kind.

I am all for bringing Iran back into the family of Nations. I took very seriously the RESET idea that US policy should reach agreements with the great Iranian Nation and the Turkish State as well – the true two Middle East Islamic powers – but this can be done only if Iran opens up FIRST and becomes completely transparent in matters of nuclear know-how in exchange for a complete acceptance of all their rightful economic needs like the unfreezing of their bank accounts and free trade in everything else except nuclear related goods.

In this respect we welcome the following report from the AIC about the technicality of negotiations but we call for a total freeze in practical moves unless – with clear agreements from the West – Iran does not open-up first – and this under a very clear time limit that cannot exceed one or two months. The talk about numbers of centrifuges is thus a waste of costly time if the goal is indeed to defang a dangerous regime .  President Obama knows this – so does President Hollande.

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The Geneva Talks: No Breakthrough, Yet much Accomplished.

 

Kayvon Afshari

Director of Communications, American Iranian Council

 

Saturday November 9, 2013

After three days of serious, high-level talks in Geneva, the P5+1 announced that a deal has yet to be reached on Iran’s nuclear program. Catherine Ashton, the European Union foreign policy chief, said that they would meet again on November 20th at the senior diplomat level, rather than the foreign minister level.

Secretary of State John Kerry tried to stay upbeat, telling journalists, “We came to Geneva to narrow the differences, and I can tell you without any reservations, we made significant progress. It takes time to build confidence between countries that have really been at odds with each other for a long time now,” he said.

 Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister in charge of the nuclear negotiations struck a similar tone, saying, It was natural when we started dealing with the details there could be differences of views. But we are working together and hopeful we will be able to reach agreement when we meet again

 

Meanwhile, some sources pointed fingers at the French negotiating team for spoiling a potential deal. Some diplomats told the Guardian Newspaper that they were furious with the role that French FM Laurent Fabius played, and accused him of revealing details of the talks upon his Saturday arrival in Geneva. The French team complained that the draft for a deal was prepared mostly by Iran and the US, and that they did not want to be stampeded into agreement.

 

 

Geneva Talks Zarif

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton Meeting

 

 

What does it mean?

 

While many observers who were hoping for a breakthrough view these developments as a failure, astute analysts should keep in mind that tremendous progress has been made in a short period of time and that a final resolution will be a long, arduous process.
For the first time in years, the two sides are sitting at the table and actively negotiating with one another on the highly-technical details regarding Iran’s nuclear program. In fact, Mr. Kerry had over eight hours of meetings with Mr. Zarif, something quite new in the post-Revolution history of US-Iran relations. It is now becoming normal for American and Iranian senior diplomats to directly engage with one another, something that was not yet the case just two months ago during the United Nations General Assembly. This is a meaningful accomplishment in the long process of normalizing US-Iran relations, and the American Iranian Council congratulates them for it.


The next ten days until the upcoming round of negotiations will give all sides the opportunity to think deeply about what lies ahead. Unfortunately, some detractors may see this as an opportunity to spoil a potential deal. Some US Congressmen may call for further sanctions on Iran in this interim period— an unwise move that would be against the national interest of both the United States and Iran. As Secretary Kerry remarked today when asked if he is worried about further sanctions, “This is an issue of such consequence that it really needs to rise or fall on the merits, not on politics… Each day that you don’t have an agreement, Iran will continue to enrich, Iran will continue to put centrifuges in, Iran will continue its program.” Echoing Secretary Kerry’s sentiment, AIC President Hooshang Amirahmadi said, “The diplomatic channel must remain open. If it were to close, the only option
left would be war and bombs, which would be damaging to both sides.”


The AIC has long maintained that the final resolution must be based on two principles: Iran’s inalienable right to domestically produce nuclear power and Iran’s obligation to verify to the International Atomic Energy Agency that there is no military aspect to the program.

In return for its transparency, Iran should have sanctions removed and should be encouraged to fully rejoin the world economy. Beyond this broad framework for a resolution, there is much room for negotiators to hammer out the technical details such as the number of centrifuges, level of uranium enrichment, extent of sanctions relief, and so forth.


While most of us were hoping for a breakthrough moment, we should bear in mind that conducting diplomacy in a relationship that has seen 34 years of hostility will produce many disappointments. As realistic supporters of normalizing US-Iran relations, we should manage our expectations, loudly reject the calls for war, and forcefully push for both sides to continue the diplomatic process.

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The proposal under consideration in Geneva was to have been the first stage of a multipart agreement. It called for Iran to freeze its nuclear program for up to six months to allow negotiations on a long-term agreement without the worry that Iran was racing ahead to build a bomb. In exchange, the West was to have provided some easing of the international sanctions that have battered Iran’s economy.

After years of off-again, on-again talks, the deal would have been the first to brake Iran’s nuclear program.Despite the diplomats’ insistence on progress, the failure to clinch an agreement raised questions about the future of the nuclear talks, given the fierce criticism that the mere prospect of a deal whipped up in Israel and among Republicans and some Democrats in Congress.

The announcement on Sunday November 10, 2013, was a deflating end to a long week-end of diplomatic twists and turns, after Mr. Kerry huddled for hours with Mr. Zarif and Mr. Fabius to try to close gaps on issues like curbing Iran’s enrichment program and what to do about the heavy-water reactor Iran is building near the city of Arak, which will produce plutonium.

Iranian officials had promoted the possibility of a deal for days, generating an expectant atmosphere that swelled when Secretary of State John Kerry cut short a tour of the Middle East on Friday to join the talks. He was joined by the foreign ministers of Britain, France, Germany and Russia and a vice foreign minister from China.

Now the participating States pledged to return to the table in 10 days to try again, albeit at a lower level – just on a Political advisers level.
France objected strenuously that the proposed deal that was suggested by Iran would do too little to curb Iran’s uranium enrichment or to stop the development of a nuclear reactor capable of producing plutonium.

Neither Ms. Ashton nor Mr. Zarif criticized France, saying that it had played a constructive role. But the disappointment was palpable, and the decision to hold the next meeting at the level of political director, not foreign minister, suggested that the two sides were less confident of their ability to bridge the gaps in the next round.

For all that, Mr. Zarif tried to put a brave face on the three days of talks, saying that the atmosphere had been good, even if the parties disagreed on the details of a potential agreement.

“What I was looking for was the political determination, willingness and good faith in order to end this,” he said. “I think we’re all on the same wavelength, and that’s important.”

But France was not ready to turn Geneva into another Munich and accept Tehran’s “politiking.” France allows for Iran credibility and is frightened for the World at large. This reminds us of Dionne’s article  at  www.npr.org/templates/story/story… that was titled:

The New Republic: Obama’s Disdain For “Politiking” – and we expect now a clear and uncompromising Washington position.

Mr. Kerry said during his recent visit to Israel that the United States was asking Iran, as part of an interim accord, to agree to a “complete freeze over where they are today,” implying that Iran’s plutonium production program would be affected in some way as well. And in a news conference at the end of the talks, Mr. Kerry made clear that limits on the Arak reactor should be part of an initial agreement.

Once the reactor at Arak is operational, as early as next year, it might be very hard to disable it through a military strike without risking the dispersal of nuclear material. That risk might eliminate one of the West’s options for responding to Iran and reduce its leverage in the talks.

The Arak reactor has been a contentious negotiating point because it would give Iran another pathway to a bomb, using plutonium rather than enriched uranium. Moreover, the Iranian explanations for why it is building Arak have left most Western nations and nuclear experts skeptical. The country has no need for the fuel for civilian uses now, and the reactor’s design renders it highly efficient for producing the makings of a nuclear weapon.

Israel has been vocal about not letting the new reactor get to the point where the fuel is inserted, after which military action against the reactor could create an environmental disaster. Israel has destroyed two reactors from the air in the past three decades, in Iraq in 1981 and in Syria in 2007. Both attacks took place before fuel had been put in the reactors.

French officials also noted a difference between the United States and Europe on the issue of sanctions relief. The most sweeping American sanctions on Iran’s oil and banking industries were passed by Congress, giving President Obama little flexibility to lift them.

That has led the Obama administration to focus on a narrower set of proposals involving Iranian cash that is frozen in overseas banks. Freeing that cash in installments, in return for specific steps by Iran, would not require the repeal of any congressional sanctions.

France and other European Union countries, however, face fewer political restrictions on ending their core sanctions, which means any decision to lift them could be more far-reaching. In addition, officials said, the measures would be harder to reinstate should the talks unravel or Iran renege on its pledges.

Those considerations left the Europeans more hesitant to consider easing sanctions than the United States was.

Still, European officials appeared to be balancing their wariness of Iran with a hopeful sense that these negotiations were fundamentally different from the fruitless sessions during the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who left office in August. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not conceeding that Iran has changed and has demanded that Iran close the Arak nuclear reactor and give up all enrichment of uranium, not just the 20 percent enrichment that is at issue in the negotiations.

Mr. Netanyahu earlier said the proposed agreement would be a “deal of the century” for Iran. On Friday, Mr. Obama called Mr. Netanyahu to brief him on the talks and to assure him that the United States was still committed to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb.

“There are very strong feelings about the consequences of our choices for our allies,” Mr. Kerry said. “We have enormous respect for those concerns.”

Mr. Netanyahu sees the need to treat Iran the same way as Israel treated the nuclear ambitions of Iraq and Syria. Israel is wondering if it has not allowed too much time to pass already and is sorry for not having acted while Ahmadi-Nejad was still in power.
There just cannot be an Arak  plant. That drink has too high potency and no sweeteners.

To show that we researched all positions before posting this, we also have to note that I jwaited with posting this until I ust watched the November 10, 2013 live Fareed Zakaria CNN/GPS show that obviously already touched on this weekends activities in Geneva thanks to the time difference and was able to bring in also Joseph Cirincione of Ploughshares and Kenneth Pollack of Brookings – both former US government officials that were supposed to have opposing points of view – but did not really.  Fareed himself, who normally is our only TV “Guru” seems to be too remote and too young for Holocaust history, seem to think that in order to become a real danger the Arak plant is still 4 years away. But they did not realize that even the potential of having a bomb, this before the actual building of the bomb, is just unacceptable when it is in the hands of madmen.

Too big to fail is an issue not just for banks but also for outsized madmen, and despite the history of American intervention in Iran in the Shah’s days – the throttling of democracy in Mosaddegh’s days, that we accuse and find as cause of what happened, the present Iran State is too front-loaded with madmen not to be dealt with due respect for what they say.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 27th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Uri Avnery

 

September 28, 2013

 

 

 

                                                            The Real Bomb

 

 

 

YEARS AGO I disclosed one of the biggest secrets about Iran: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was an agent of the Mossad.

Suddenly, all the curious details of his behavior made sense. His public fantasies about the disappearance of Israel. His denial of the Holocaust, which until then had been typical only of a lunatic fringe. His boasting about Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

Cui bono? Who had an interest in all this nonsense?

 

There is only one sensible answer: Israel.

His posturing depicted Iran as a state which was both ridiculous and sinister. It justified Israel’s refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention. It diverted attention from Israel’s refusal to discuss the occupation of the Palestinian territories or hold meaningful peace negotiations.

 

ANY DOUBT that I may have felt about this international scoop has evaporated now.

Our political and military leaders almost openly bemoan the demise of Ahmadinejad.

Obviously, the Supreme Guide, Ali Khamenei, decided that I was right and has quietly disposed of this clown.

Worse, he has reaffirmed his deadly enmity to the Zionist Entity by pushing forward a person like Hassan Rouhani.

 

Rouhani is the very opposite of his predecessor. If the Mossad had been asked to sketch the worst possible Iranian leader Israel could imagine, they would have come up with someone like him.

An Iranian who recognizes and condemns the Holocaust! An Iranian man who offers sweetness and light! An Iranian who wishes peace and friendship on all nations – even hinting that Israel could be included, if only we give up the occupied Palestinian territories!

 

Could you imagine anything worse?

I AM not joking. This is deadly serious!

 

Even before Rouhani could open his mouth after his election, he was condemned outright by Binyamin Netanyahu.

A wolf in sheep’s clothing! A real anti-Semite! A cheat out to deceive the whole world! A devious politician whose devilish aim is to drive a wedge between Israel and the naive Americans!

 

This is the real Iranian bomb, far more threatening than the nuclear one that will be built behind the smokescreen of Rouhani’s sweet talk!

A nuclear bomb can be deterred by another nuclear bomb. But how do you deter a Rouhani?

 

Yuval Steinitz, our failed former Minister of Finance and at present responsible for our “strategic thinking” (yes, really!) exclaimed in despair that the world wants to be deceived by Iran. Binyamin Netanyahu called it a “honey trap”. Commentators who are hand-fed by “official circles” (i.e. the Prime Minister’s Office) proclaim that he is an existential threat.

All this before he had uttered a word.

 

 

WHEN ROUHANI at long last made his Grand Speech at the UN General Assembly, all the dire forebodings were confirmed.

Where Ahmadinejad had set off a stampede of delegates from the hall, Rouhani packed them in. Diplomats from all over the world were curious about the man. They could have read the speech a few minutes later, but they wanted to see and hear for themselves. Even the US sent officials to be present. No one left.

 

No one, that is, except the Israelis.

The Israeli diplomats were instructed by Netanyahu to leave the hall demonstratively when the Iranian started to speak.

That was a stupid gesture. As rational and as effective as a little boy’s tantrum when his favorite toy is taken away.

Stupid, because it painted Israel as a spoiler, at a time when the entire world is seized by an attack of optimism after the recent events in Damascus and Tehran.

Stupid, because it proclaims the fact that Israel is at present totally isolated.

 

BY THE way, did anyone notice that Rouhani was constantly wiping his brow during his half-hour speech? The man was obviously suffering. Did another Mossad agent sneak into the UN maintenance room and shut down the air-conditioning? Or was it just the heavy robes?

I never became a priest, not only because I am an atheist (in common with many priests, I suspect) but also because of this obligation to wear the heavy clothes which all creeds demand. Same goes for diplomats.

After all, priests and diplomats are human beings, too! (Many of them, at least.)

 

ONLY ONE Israeli cabinet member dared to criticize the Israeli exit openly. Ya’ir Lapid. What has come over him? Well, polls show that the rising star is not rising any more. As Minister of Finance he has been compelled to take very unpopular steps. Since he does not speak about things like the occupation and peace, he is considered shallow. He has almost been pushed aside. His blunt criticism of Netanyahu may bring him back into the center.

However, he has put his finger on a central fact: that Netanyahu and his crew behave exactly as the Arab diplomats used to do a generation ago. Meaning, they are stuck in the past. They don’t live in the present.

 

Living in the present needs something politicians are loath to do: thinking again.

Things are changing. Slowly, very slowly, but perceptibly.

It is far too early to say much about the Decline of the American Empire, but one does not need a seismograph to perceive some movement in that direction.

 

The Syrian affair was a good example. Vladimir Putin likes to be photographed in judo poses. In judo, one exploits the momentum of one’s opponent to bring him down. That is exactly what Putin did.

President Obama has painted himself into a corner. He mouthed belligerent threats and could not retreat, though the US public is in no belligerent mood. Putin released him from the dilemma. For a price.

 

I don’t know if Putin is such an agile player that he pounced on a side remark by John Kerry about Bashar Assad’s chance of relinquishing his chemical weapons. I rather suspect that it was all arranged in advance. Either way, Obama got off the hook and Putin was in the game again.

I have very mixed feelings about Putin. He has done to his Chechen citizens very much what Assad is doing to his Sunni citizens. His treatment of dissidents, such as the Pussy Riot band, is abominable.

But on the international stage, Putin is now the peacemaker. He has taken the sting out of the chemical weapons’ crisis, and may quite possibly take the initiative in providing a political settlement for that dreadful civil war.

 

The next step could well be to play a similar role in the Iranian crisis. If Khamenei has come to the conclusion that his nuclear program may not be worth the economic misery of the sanctions, he may well sell it to the US. In this case, Putin can play a vital role, mediating between two tough traders who have a lot to trade.

(Unless, of course, Obama behaves like the American who bought a carpet in a Persian bazaar. The seller asked for 1000 dollars, and the American paid up without haggling. When told that the carpet was worth no more than a hundred dollars, he answered: “I know, but I wanted to punish him. Now he won’t be able to sleep, cursing himself for not asking 5000 dollars.”)

 

HOW DO we fit into this changing scene?

 

First of all, we must start thinking, much as we would prefer to avoid it.
New circumstances demand new thoughts.

In his own US speech, Obama made a clear connection between the Iranian bomb and the Israeli occupation. This linkage cannot be unlinked. Let’s grasp it.

The US is today a bit less important than it was yesterday. Russia is a bit more important than it was. As its futile attack on Capitol Hill during the Syrian crisis shows, AIPAC is also less powerful.

 

 Let’s think again about Iran. It’s too early to conclude how far Tehran is moving, if at all.
But we need to try. Walking out of rooms is not a policy. Entering rooms is.

 

If we could restore some of our former relationship with Tehran, or even just take the sting out of the present one, that would be a huge gain for Israel. Combining this with a real peace initiative vis-a-vis the Palestinians would be even better.

Our present course is leading towards disaster. The present changes in the international and the regional scenes can make a change of course possible.

 

Let’s help President Obama change American policy, instead of using AIPAC to terrorize Congress into blindly supporting an outdated policy towards Iran and Palestine. Let’s extend cautious feelers towards Russia. Let’s change our public stance, as the leaders of Iran are doing with such success.

 

Are they more clever than us?

 

 

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FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES OF TODAY  NOTES OF THE GOING ON AT THE UN:

The diplomatic breakthrough on Syria came as Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said progress had been made toward a resolution of the nuclear dispute between his country and the West, suggesting it could happen in a year.

Mr. Zarif spoke optimistically after emerging from what he called a “very substantive, businesslike” meeting at the United Nations with representatives of the big powers. He also met face to face with Secretary of State John Kerry in one of the highest-level discussions between the estranged countries in years.

The Syria resolution was a major milestone for the United Nations after years of largely unproductive discussions in the Security Council over the civil war in Syria, which has killed more than 100,000.

Syria, the resolution states, “shall not use, develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile or retain chemical weapons, or transfer, directly or indirectly, chemical weapons to other states or nonstate actors.”

By November, international monitors are to inspect all of Syria’s declared sites, and equipment to produce and mix chemical weapons is to be destroyed, according to a so-called framework agreement that was negotiated by the United States and Russia this month and that is to be enforced by the new Security Council resolution.

Syria’s entire arsenal is to be eliminated by the middle of 2014, according to that accord, a process that Mr. Assad has said could take a year.

Skeptics worry that the process may become drawn out as it was during the 1990s when the United Nations sought to inspect Saddam Hussein’s arsenal in Iraq. Syrian compliance, they fear, may be only partial, and the Russians, they worry, may use their veto power in the Security Council to buy the Assad government more time.

Proponents of the measure say Russia may be cooperative because it shares the West’s concern about maintaining zero tolerance for chemical weapons use.

The diplomatic maneuvering over Syria came amid another drama at the United Nations

Mr. Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, emerged smiling from a meeting with six world powers late Thursday afternoon as American and European officials announced that negotiations on “details” would be worked out in Geneva next month.

The meeting, led by the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, took place with the five permanent members of the Security Council, along with Germany. Mr. Kerry’s separate meeting with Mr. Zarif lasted 30 minutes.

Ms. Ashton said she envisioned an “ambitious timetable” of next steps that would be discussed when the group meets in Geneva next month. The details, she said, would address what Iran needs to do, how soon, and how the international community can verify whether Iran is keeping its word. “Twelve months is a good time frame to think about implementation on the ground,” she said.

Mr. Zarif said Iran hoped to reach a détente “in a timely fashion” that would preserve its right to enrich uranium and persuade the world community that it is for civilian use. “Now we see if we can match our positive words with serious deeds,” he said.

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Those who watched Mr. Rouhani closest this week describe him as serious, controlled and single-mindedly focused on message. He prefers to be called Dr. Rouhani, for his doctorate in law, rather than by his clerical title.  He seemed intent to convey that he was prepared to take concrete steps to normalize relations with the West, that he was reasonable and that he enjoyed the backing of the street and his country’s religious establishment. He also seemed to be in somewhat of a rush, even while saying events might have been moving too fast.

“He did not come to New York to negotiate with speeches or throw in the towel and surrender. He came to New York to start negotiations,” said Vali Nasr, dean of the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. “He is very clever, very pragmatic, but he’s also now showing himself to be bold, a risk-taker. He is taking the biggest risk any Iranian has in reaching out to the West.”

“He’s far from being a traditional Shia cleric,” said M. Hossein Hafezian, who worked with him for nearly 10 years at his Center for Strategic Research in Tehran. He described Mr. Rouhani as a political “insider” and a moderate, but one who has shunned being called “westernized or liberal, because that would be a curse.”

One diplomat here described him as so composed while meeting one of his Western counterparts that he seemed hard to grasp. The diplomat, who asked not to be identified because of the delicacy of the bilateral meeting, said he was struck by the fact that Mr. Rouhani “didn’t have advisers whispering in his ears the whole time.”

The contrast with his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, could not be more stark. Mr. Ahmadinejad used his podium at the General Assembly to criticize Israel, deny the Holocaust and dangle the notion that Sept. 11 was the handiwork of Americans. Mr. Rouhani, in his public speeches, has mentioned Israel only once, calling on it to sign the Nonproliferation Treaty.

All the same, he has insisted on Iran’s right to build what he says is a civilian nuclear program. At a dinner for about 20 former diplomats and Iran scholars on Tuesday at the One UN New York, a hotel across the street from the United Nations building, one guest recalled that Mr. Rouhani was bluntly asked: What is Iran doing and why is it doing it?

“His answer was very simple,” said the guest, who could not be named because it was a confidential meeting. “We are enriching. We are doing it because it is our right.”

The only time the usually unflappable Mr. Rouhani was mildly exercised, the guest said, was when he spoke of Israel’s complaints about Iran’s nuclear program. Mr. Rouhani, he recalled, sharply pointed out that Israel itself had nuclear weapons.

The next morning, speaking at a meeting on disarmament, Mr. Rouhani called on Israel to give up its nuclear weapons.

Remarks like that prompted some critics to say that Mr. Rouhani was simply a camouflaged version of Mr. Ahmadinejad, pressing the same aims. “Rouhani came here today to cheat the world, and unfortunately many people were willing to be cheated,” Israel’s minister of intelligence and internal affairs, Yuval Steinitz, said Tuesday at the United Nations.

Gary Samore, a former Obama adviser, and now the president of United Against Nuclear Iran, said the substance was “very similar to Ahmadinejad’s, but he says it in a much kinder and gentler way.” “That’s the definition of a charm offensive,” he continued.

———

Mr. Rouhani’s interest in lowering tensions with the West is most directly helped by his closest aides. He has surrounded himself with men, who, like other Iranian bureaucrats, favor trim beards and suits without ties, but who speak the language of the American elite. Several, like his foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, were educated here.

Perhaps the most unexpected — and closely guarded — encounter this week was attended by Mr. Rouhani’s chief of staff, Mohammad Nahavandian. He attended a breakfast meeting on Tuesday, organized at his request, with about a dozen New York business leaders, most of them retired, from the banking and energy sectors. His message, according to the breakfast organizer, was that Iran is now pro-business and welcomes private investment, if and when sanctions are lifted.

“This was the beginning of exploring if something like that could happen,” the organizer said, asking to remain anonymous because of the delicacy of the gathering.

Still, said William H. Luers, a retired United States ambassador who now runs an advocacy group called The Iran Project, Mr. Rouhani’s greatest challenge would be to convince skeptics in Iran and the United States. “He has to demonstrate this is more than a charm offensive, that he means what he says, that if there’s a response he’s ready to be engaged,” Mr. Luers said.

The same applies to Mr. Obama, he added. “It’s too far along,” Mr. Luers said. “We’ve said too much on both sides. There’s too much distrust to just say we had a good conversation.”

 

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