Henrik Ibsen 1828-1906 is for the Scandinavians what Shakespeare is for the Anglo-Saxons, Gogol and Chekhov for the Slavs or Cervantes for the Spaniards. These individuals saw man as he or she are and their writings become globalized. Take then a Bertolt Brecht “theater of ideas” approach to the staging of an Ibsen play – or a play of any of the great playwrights – get the acting up to an intelligent level so that there are hints to the daily live of the audience – don’t over-do it – let the audience participate directly – and the show turns into an event. That is great theater today and ever.
While on Broadway a Tennessee Williams great play – “The Glass Menagerie” – is these days over-staged, over-laud, over expensive – a must for tourists that can afford $300 for a seat, across the river in Brooklyn, at the incomparable masterpiece Harvey Theater – named after Harvey Lichtenstein – who was a former dancer who became arts administrator and for 32-year the executive director of the Brooklyn Academy of Music that he turned with his strong will from a struggling mainly unused opera house into a Mecca for new legitimate theater. At the Academy building started out people like Robert Wilson and the yearly New Wave Festival was just a natural outgrowth. Then there was the need of a second theater and The Harvey Theater Hall was born just one block away on Fulton Street. Now foreign directors bring their companies from overseas to teach America how to get back to the promise of good theater. We just got to witness there a truly great production of a play, for one tenth of the cost of the Broadway theater, and got to learn a lot about ourselves as well. These foreigners truly understood the US, while the US theater on Broadway showed very little understanding of the foreigners that leave the theater there with a feeling of being had.
Looking up via the internet we found – “The Enemy of the People” (1882), follows earlier Ibsen plays, where controversial elements were important and even pivotal components of the action, but they were on the small scale of individual households. In An Enemy, controversy became the primary focus, and the antagonist was the entire community. One primary message of the play is that the individual, who stands alone, is more often “right” than the mass of people, who are portrayed as ignorant and sheep-like. Contemporary society’s belief was that the community was a noble institution that could be trusted, a notion Ibsen challenged.
In An Enemy of the People, Ibsen chastised not only the conservatism of society, but also the liberalism of the time. He illustrated how people on both sides of the social spectrum could be equally self-serving.
An Enemy of the People was written as a response to the people who had rejected his previous work, Ghosts. The plot of the play is a veiled look at the way people reacted to the plot of Ghosts. In “Enemy” the protagonist is a physician in a vacation spot whose primary draw is a public bath. The doctor discovers that the water is contaminated by the local tannery. He expects to be acclaimed for saving the town from the nightmare of infecting visitors with disease, but instead he is declared an ‘enemy of the people’ by the locals, who band against him and even throw stones through his windows.
Then the source continues – As audiences by now expected, Ibsen’s next play again attacked entrenched beliefs and assumptions; but this time, his attack was not against society’s mores, but against overeager reformers and their idealism. Always an iconoclast, Ibsen was equally willing to tear down the ideologies of any part of the political spectrum, including his own. Ibsen thus liked more the interaction of positions rather then the taking of a position. In effect the whole society is being criticized by Ibsen.
The Wild Duck (1884) that followed The Enemy is by many considered Ibsen’s finest work, and it is certainly the most complex. It tells the story of Gregers Werle, a young man who returns to his hometown after an extended exile and is reunited with his boyhood friend Hjalmar Ekdal. Over the course of the play, the many secrets that lie behind the Ekdals’ apparently happy home are revealed to Gregers, who insists on pursuing the absolute truth, or the “Summons of the Ideal”. Among these truths: Gregers’ father impregnated his servant Gina, then married her off to Hjalmar to legitimize the child. Another man has been disgraced and imprisoned for a crime the elder Werle committed. Furthermore, while Hjalmar spends his days working on a wholly imaginary “invention”, his wife is earning the household income.
Dr. Stockman is the idealist who naively believes he can win by being right, but then encounters the truth that all levels of society are corrupt. Some start on the corruption path knowingly and others backstep into it because circumstances might otherwise turn them into major losers.
The Enemy that hit the Harvey Theater comes from the Schaubuhne at the Lehniner Platz (The Lenin Square) in what used to be East Berlin. The artistic genius – Director Thomas Ostermeier - was responsible for this production as he was for several previous shows that were seen previously at the BAM.
The acting was impeccable – down to the facial expressions of the stage dog. There were minutes of talking without words and you knew exactly what they were saying. Only very seldom did the actors shout – and that was in cases of natural crescendo. I was able to understand the clear German and compliment it with the flashed English. The updates were in many cases just results on inflection and accent rather then as changes in wording. Nevertheless we understood that the closing of the bath would lead to unimaginable economic losses that the town will not allow. The vested interests were ready to fight back and had already prepared an alternate study that says there is nothing at fault with those waters – this sort of the Koch Brothers funded pseudo-scientific studies that say there is no man-made global warming.
Then, if one was going to do any changes to the water system it would cost money and nobody will want to pay higher taxes in order to pay-off the debt that the town will incur. In the end this becomes the common attitude to all those involved – just like in the USA of 2013. At this point some of the actors moved over to the audience and an exchange started that brought in regular members of the audience. When eventually Dr. Stockman is bombarded with paint balls the audience seems like having been wrestled down as well – though those balls originated from the theater hall.
YES – WE ARE ALL THE ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE – this because except for Dr. Stockman and his faithful wife nobody is left with ideals – and the young couple themselves have been presented with the shares of those baths, bought up by the father in law who invested in this the money that he had intended originally for them as inheritance. Now they can be rich if they only declare that they have a way to save those baths.
Mr. Martin Nesirky, the Spokesperson for The UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, speaking to the UN accredited PRESS, Monday July 15th, ended his daily briefing by saying:
“This morning, the Deputy Secretary-General spoke to a large group of representatives from non-governmental organizations and the private sector on international migration and development. He emphasized the need to establish sustained and strong partnerships between different actors to harness the benefits of migration and improve the situation of migrants. He also commended the role played by civil society in building such partnerships.
He said that the General Assembly was meeting on international migration and development in October, and that this was an opportunity for member States to lay the foundation for improved local, regional and international migration policies.” That’s what I have. Questions, please? Yes, Pam?
This statement relates to full three days of activities right here at the UN Headquarters in New York and across the street in the Church Center – which followed a full year of preparations outside the UN in a process that was started in 2006 when there was a UN General Assembly mandated first “High-Level” Dialogue on this topic and was succeeded by yearly meetings and further regional meetings.
At Rio the recommendations included the removal of the non-producing Commission on Sustainable Development and its replacement with a High-Level Panel that will look into the creation of a system of Sustainable Development Goals that will follow in 2015 after the expiring Millennium Development Goals – and this allows for an unusual opportunity to try for making the avoidance of the need of Migration into a Sustainable Development Goal. But the UN seems to oppose this by all the means it has – and I will explain.
You see – when I walk the streets of New York these days I bump into people. This is because the daily temperature reaches 100 degrees Fahrenheit and people do not walk in a straight line. You must try to anticipate which way they will deviate – and I am as guilty as anyone else – this because global warming and Climate Change are already here with us. Relating to our topic here – MIGRATION occurs now not just because people are attracted by magnets of freedom from dictatorships, from religious or sexual oppression, or because of a chance to better education, but now – more and more – there is the push of hunger – climate change has made it impossible to support populations in their country of origin and this migration has become the highest security issue in our days. If heat and Climate Change is impacting New York, just think what this has done in Mali or Darfur!
The UN is not blind to this. The UN Secretary-General was supposed to be the opening speaker at the Monday, July 15, 2013 event at the meeting at the UN General Assembly with Mr. Vuk Jeremik, President of the General Assembly as Chairman of the session. But Mr. Ban Ki-moon chose to be on a July fact finding tour of Europe that took him to see the effects of glaciers melting in Iceland, and a visit in Paris on Bastille Day with the French troops fighting in Mali.
Both above visits, as well as the meetings in-between, would have made a great story had the UN Secretary-General returned to New York and told on Monday July 15th his impressions to the meeting here. But this seemingly did not cross his mind, and surely this is no reflection on the way Mr. Elliason presented the case. It must be said that seven years ago – at the first dialogue – Mr. Eliasson presided because it was his position of President of the UN General Assembly, so he is well versed with the issues – the roles of Civil Society, Labor Unions and Employers’ organizations, diaspora organizations, and academics. He stressed that the challenge is to reach to the help of the media – “Knowing the facts is the source of wisdom” he quoted.
Mr. Eliasson said he wants to see as a post 2015 program a five year action program in five areas of priority:
What he did not mention is the right of people to avoid migration that was pushed upon them because of changes in the local environment.
Mr. Jeremik reminded us of the Rio vision for the post-2015 as an aspiration to strive for equitable approaches to overcome poverty and inequality.
At the meeting on Monday participated over 200 Civil Society organizations and 80 UN member States.
I sat through the full three days and saw that very good people from all over the globe were present – but by no means was this an objective success.
Starting with the strong Swiss presence I must say that as Migration means Emigration from one place and Immigration to another – this except Migration within the same country, Switzerland is a country of poor record as it does not allow citizenship except when the candidate is weighed in gold – and I am not abstract on this – Just think of the Agha Khan and his Swiss based Foundation. So, when A good looking lady presented herself as a migrant from El Salvador to Switzerland, with dual nationality and diamonds sparkling from her earrings, spoke about the Global Economic Forum backing the economic advantages that come from migration – I had to wonder about what I was hearing. Then let us not forget that simple mortals could not stay in Switzerland when their life was in peril. In general – I was more impressed by the people in the room then by some of the presenters, as in UN fashion – the good turns easily into the trite, and good ideas can produce easily flying meetings that are not free to the introduction of ideas born outside the initiating circle. Trying to introduce the notion that the UN is changing and that MDGs are ending with new SDGs taking their place, and the fact that the UN just opened this month the office for Sustainable Energy – the SE4All concept, and that right now there is an opportunity to talk of migration in context of Climate Change – all that was beyond the interest of the organizers and the moderators – but very much of interest of many of the participants.
Civil Society is surely a mixed bag, and the stress on remittances from the Migrants back to their families in the homeland become very important part of the economies of some oppressive governments – so, indiscriminately stressing the economic value may not be any better idea then using military from countries in trouble in order to beef up the troops of UN Peace-Keeping forces in other countries in trouble, when the pay for this service is income for the government that sends these troops. This comment may have nothing to do with the subject at hand but is important to the understanding of the depth of the problem when you work in he UN context.
Without delving further in depth of what was said, this because the meetings were just an interactive exercise that will generate its own papers, the real news this Monday were not the Civil Society NGOs that were allowed to participate – but rather those organizations that were excluded in total lack of transparency and thus gave a blue eye to the UN institution as a whole.
The subject came up when the United States pointed out that three NGOs were eliminated from participation this last week by being BLACKBALLED by some secret member State. These were three organizations – one registered in the UK and two in Israel and the UN does not release the names of the countries that objected to their participation. TO ME THIS WAS THE REAL NEWS OF THE MEETING – COVERING ON ALL THE GOOD THINGS THAT WERE SAID AT THE MEETING.
After the US, spoke also Israel and the EU, and eventually this became an important part in the summary of the meeting, when at the end it was presented by the Chef de Cabinet to the UNGA President, Mr. Dejan Sahovic, who is also from Serbia like the UNGA President.
Mr. Sahovic explained that this had nothing to do with the organizers of the event but is a UN given. Whenever there is an event at the UN, after Civil Society makes up the list of registered NGOs, these lists are distributed to all governments which have then the veto right against any line on that list.
OK, we knew that China will take out any NGO that is based in Taiwan, but how is it that an observer organization at the International Organization for Migration (IOM), that is competent in the subject matter and is very active, could be eliminated? To make it sound even worse – the UN does not release the name of the blackballing country and the delegate for the EU said clearly that the EU is worried about the lately decreasing importance of Civil Society at the UN.
In this case it was with two NGOs with interest in Human Rights of Women – specifically women in Arab lands – even more specific – in Saudi Arabia – they DID SPEAK UP.
1. The Institute for Human Rights and Business Limited (IHRB) is the British organization.
2. Microfy – “Microfinance for African refugees and migrant workers in Israel” – an Israeli based NGO that provides assistance to African refugees and asylum seekers, many of them who fled the genocide in Darfur. www.microfy.org Clearly a highly ethical organization that might have difficulty being listened to by despots.
3.”The Center for International Migration and Integration (CIMI)” advises governments and NGOs around the world on migration and integration.
Culture Change Lauds Denmark – this because the people feel that the State is catering for the large majority of the people that are part of a large so called Middle Class with the garbage collector getting praise like the physician for a job done well..
The Candidates on Energy Policy. Would it not be nice if at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, the moderator asked the Candidates for Presidency about the removal of the Carter Solar Panels from the White House roof and what that meant to the security of the United States?
The Candidates on Energy Policy
Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Issue Tracker – ENERGY.
Updated: October 21, 2012
The cost and availability of energy resources have become contentious issues in the United States amid slow economic growth and high unemployment. On the presidential campaign trail, Republican candidate Mitt Romney has blamed rising gas prices on President Barack Obama’s decision to temporarily block construction of the Keystone oil pipeline from Canada to the United States. Obama, meanwhile, has called for investing in alternative energy sources to reduce U.S. dependence on oil and gas.
Still, both candidates have advocated for a reduction in foreign oil imports and for an expansion of U.S. energy production in order to boost the economy and create new jobs. They also agree that increasing energy independence is critical to national security. However, Obama and Romney are at odds over the role government should play in subsidizing energy production–as well as which sectors should be favored–and regulating its environmental impact.
ENERGY was the subject of two Fareed Zakaria programs on CNN/GPS this Sunday.
The second hour-long program was titled GLOBAL LESSONS and told us for a starter that Bill Gates has a dream – HE WISHES ENERGY THAT IS CHEAPER THEN COAL AND IS CLEAN – this seems to be the only way to solve the problems for our aching world – for the US as well.
President Jimmy Carter has installed solar panels on the White House roof, but they were taken down by the Republican Presidents and never put back up by the Democratic Presidents. Those panels were a mere symbol but let us not fake it – their removal was and is a badge of dishonnor to the US Presidency since Carter.
Fareed did not dwell on this but gave positive examples of forward looking countries.
Denmark, after the 1973 oil crisis unleashed on the world after the Yom Kippur war that the Arabs unleashed against Israel, decided to climb down from its energy reliance 99% on Middle East oil and developed a wind energy industry that made it independent of oil period – this even though later they found offshore oil and gas. They keep the alternate energy afloat thanks to solid taxation of the gas pump. It is $8/gallon in Denmark and there are no complaints. Vestas is the largest wind energy company in the world. 30% of the electricity in Denmark comes currently from wind power, they intend to bring this up to 50% by 2020 and plan for a totally renewable energy base by 2050. No CO2 emissions from Denmark by that target date – no ifs or buts.
Germany developed solar power in particular and surely it is not a very sunny country. What helped was the Feed-in-tariff that obligates an electric company to buy-back of electricity from homes and other solar collector devices. The repayment time for a solar installation is 7 years in Germany and after that it is all the investors gain. This amounts to an income equal to $3000/year after 7 years. The son is the free source of energy and 2% of the Sahara desert could provide energy for the whole world. Germany went solar after the Chernobyl disaster when it was decided not to expand nuclear power. In effect Germany is in the proces of decommissioning its nuclear plants.
France decided to go nuclear and gets 75% of its electricity this way. After Chernobyl it developed the European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) and never had an accident.
The United States did very little and now fell upon the Fracking Gas – so the system moves on by replacing coal with natural gas that is produced from oil shale strata. This is a step in the direction of a cleaner fuel but it requires serious government supervision of the industry because if gas will come out from water faucets or fires from toilets, that will be the end of this industry – never mind what other pollution occurs to the drinking water from heavy metals and chemicals.
The fifth fuel Fareed talked about is EFFICIENCY or the reduction of the need for fuel. Better insulation of homes, lighter materials for motor vehicles with the introduction of parts made of carbon fiber. Visiting with Amory Lovins at his place in Colorado you see a tropical garden that provides him with bananas and you hear of the 240 miles/gallon vehicle.
In the first program this Sunday Fareed Zakaria hosted Mr. Fred Smith the Chairman and CEO of Fed Ex company who runs 90.000 motor vehicles and 500 planes and who saw his expenses for fuel move up in the last 10 years from 4% to 6%. He said this is a consumption $1300 tax on every American. The country pays for the imported oil $350 billion/year – so the shale gas and oil are going to get the US a turn-around he said.
Then he proceeded and said that the Prius and the Xgevy Volt are great vehicles and a step in the right direction. He also said that now it is 80% cheaper to operate an electric vehicle and the expense is in the vehicle itself – this expense will decrease with better batteries. He spoke of the battery exchange system operated by “Better Place” in Denmark and ended by talking of a great future in aviation for biofuels from algae, urban waste, etc.
Our question is now – will this become part of the US 2012 Presidential Debate on Foreign Policy? The reason why the country was kept in slavery by the oil industry so that it could not follow in the steps of a Denmark or Germany and left in limbo a company like Fed Ex and every single citizen of the US? Will somebody cross his heart and declare he will re-install the Carter panels on the White House roof? Pity there was not a Susan Katz, who asked about President GW Bush, that in a positive way could have asked about the disruption of the Carter efforts on true Energy Independence – the independence from the use of oil?
But then arrived the CFR primer for the Lynn University – Third and Final 2012 Presidential Debate, and though we all understand that historically Energy means Security and is this was always the most important ingredient of US Foreign Policy, nevertheless no mention of Energy was made in this primer. We did expect from CFR to include questions on energy, though we agreed that climate change and the global environment are no subject for the 2012 US elections – BUT ENERGY?
President Barack Obama and former governor Mitt Romney will face off in Boca Raton, Florida, tonight for the final presidential debate. Here is a nonpartisan guide from CFR and Foreign Affairs on the most salient campaign issues. These and other resources can be accessed on the Campaign 2012 Project page.
The Candidates, In their Own Words
A collection of the candidates’ major speeches, statements, and op-eds. Browse the Essential Documents
Comparing the Candidates on the Issues
Get Up to Speed on Foreign Policy
Tonight’s Must-Ask Questions
Four CFR fellows weigh in on the questions they believe warrant discussion during the debate. Read the Roundup
Challenges for the Next President
CFR experts look ahead at the foreign policy issues confronting the next president, including Isobel Coleman on foreign aid, Stewart Patrick on the United Nations, and Elizabeth Economy on China. Watch the Video Briefs
How the Election is Viewed Abroad
Experts from South Africa, China, Brazil, Germany, and other countries share their take on the campaign, and what’s at stake for each country’s relationship with the United States. Browse the Views from Abroad Series
Romney Is indeed a good Olympian – see how bad rules punished eight competitors that made the best of the bad rules – so did Romney when he hid his money from taxes under what were clearly tax regulations set up to favor people like him.
Olympic Ideal Takes Beating in Badminton.
It is not strange at all what happened, people will tend to take advantage of bad rules – it is the best (or the richest in Romney’s case) that can take advantage of bad rules – it seems that the rules were skewed in their favor in the first place.
From material on the New York Times website – August 1, 2012:
On Tuesday night at the London Games, some of the world’s best badminton players hit some of the sport’s worst shots. Sad serves into the net. Returns that sailed far wide. Howls from the crowd were loud and instant, and the calls for investigation immediate.
On Wednesday, four women’s doubles teams — two from South Korea and one each from China and Indonesia — were disqualified. But the circumstances were complicated by the fact that the rules of the sport seemed to give the athletes an incentive to lose.
The eight players were found to have tried to lose their matches intentionally, apparently because they had determined that a loss would allow them to play a weaker opponent in the next round.
Badminton officials introduced a preliminary round at the Olympics this year so that each team could play at least three times and not risk traveling thousands of miles only to be eliminated in the first match. But athletes and coaches have always looked for any available advantage, including throwing a match to save energy or to face an easier opponent in the next round.
There was nothing subtle about how the four teams of players — all of whom had already qualified for the quarterfinals — performed Tuesday night. They repeatedly served into the net and hit shots well out of bounds. During one match, a Danish umpire took the drastic step of flashing a black card to warn the players that they could be thrown out.
The disqualifications threw the tournament into turmoil and prompted protests and calls for rule changes. Indonesia appealed the decision and then withdrew the appeal, while the South Koreans had their appeal denied after officials reviewed the matches, interviewed the umpires and spoke to the players.
The eight disciplined players, who were found to have not tried their best and to have conducted themselves “in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport,” had been scheduled to play Wednesday. After their sudden exits, they were replaced by women’s doubles teams from Australia, Canada, Russia and South Africa. No coaches or teams were penalized.
Though rare, examples exist for cases in which a quirk of a sport’s rules or competition format has given an athlete or team an incentive to lose — or at least not try hard.
In a World Cup soccer match in 1982, West Germany and Austria appeared to stop trying after West Germany took a 1-0 lead early in the game. Both teams knew that such a result would allow them to advance. That prompted soccer officials to mandate that the final games in a round-robin group-play format must all be played at the same time so teams could not know the outcome of other important matches.
The charges of match throwing have been biting, with teams from Western nations taking aim at their Asian counterparts, especially the Chinese.
Niels Nygaard, the president of the national Olympic committee in Denmark, which has some of the best badminton players in Europe, applauded the world federation’s decision and blamed the coaches, not the players, for the persistent match throwing.
“For me, it’s really a matter of principle whether things are done in a correct way,” Nygaard said after the announcement.
Still, the tactic of purposely losing has an inner logic that has been used in other sports like soccer and baseball.
When Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang from China lost to the South Koreans Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na on Tuesday, they were trying to avoid playing the world’s second-ranked women’s pair of Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei, from China. Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung of South Korea and Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii of Indonesia also tried to steer clear of high-level foes in the quarterfinals.
The Chinese did not appeal their suspension and defended their approach. “We would try hard in every match if they were elimination games,” Yu said. “Because they are group stage, that’s why we are conserving energy.”
Lin Dan, the top-ranked men’s singles player, stood by his Chinese teammates and blamed the federation for not anticipating that this strategy might be used. “Think in the U.K.: would your football team want to meet Spain in the first round?” he asked after winning a match on Wednesday. “Athletes think for themselves and would have their best interests at heart.”
“It’s perfectly legal but morally indefensible,” said John MacGloughlin, a Briton who has played club-level badminton for 30 years and paid almost $50 to attend Wednesday’s afternoon session. “At that level, you don’t do that.”
This being Britain, where a bet can be laid on practically any event, the question of whether the match was thrown for profit is reasonable. Kate Miller, a spokesman for William Hill, one of Britain’s largest betting companies, said her 200-person trading team did not spot any irregularities surrounding the match.
And badminton was not the only sport in which teams trotted through a preliminary-round game. On Tuesday, in Cardiff, Wales, the Japanese women’s soccer team, the 2011 World Cup champion, played to a scoreless tie against a much weaker South African side.
The tie, as opposed to a win, meant that the Japanese, who had already qualified for the knockout round, avoided having to travel to Glasgow to play France in the quarterfinals. Instead, they will remain in Cardiff and play Brazil.
Afterward, Norio Sasaki, Japan’s coach, said he put in substitutes and told them to keep possession of the ball. The players, he said, “were on the same page as me.”
And back to peole like Mitt Romney, please see the latest “CHECK THE LAW” successful event in Washington:
The House and Senate voted to close a loophole in an insider trading law that could have allowed lawmakers’ family members to profit from inside information. CNN uncovered and reported on the loophole last month.
The STOCK Act, one of the rare bipartisan bills passed this year, was signed by President Barack Obama in April.
Someone sneaked into law “the possibility to cheat by law” by telling your wife to buy stocks based on your inside information – how neat indeed!
At Rio – a Swiss – OPEC Tango Moderated by IISD dancing around the economic effects on the oil industry if subsidies are discontinued on fossil fuels. Only on the side-lines at a UN organized meeting! RIO CENTRO Convention Center, June 21, 2012.
BREAKING DOWN THE POLITICAL BARRIERS TO FOSSIL-FUEL SUBSIDY REFORM.
Sunday, January 22, 2012 ISRAELI COMPANY BETTER PLACE, on its fourth anniversary, launched in a convoy in the streets of Tel Aviv its first 100 completely electric vehicles that can operate in a fast-change of batteries technology besides being plug-ins. By the end of 2012 Israel will be the World’s first Nation with a national electric car network.
Better Place’s Electric Cars Hit the Roads
Israeli company Better Place celebrates fourth anniversary, officially inaugurates its first fleet of electrical cars.
By Elad Benari & Yoni Kempinski
First Publish: 1/23/2012, 5:44 AM
Better Place electric car
Israel news photo: Chen Galili
The Israeli company Better Place on Sunday celebrated its fourth anniversary. The company marked this special occasion by officially inaugurating its first fleet of 100 electric cars. A convoy of 70 cars, driven by dozens of the company’s employees, took to the streets of Tel Aviv for their first rides.
The electric car developed by Better Place has no exhaust pipe and no gas cap, but rather a simple electric socket. It runs on a 450-lb. lithium-ion battery and can go as far as 140 miles before the battery needs to be swapped or recharged at the recharging stations. 200 such stations are expected to be available around the country in the future.
Better Place announced that the delivery process of the new cars will take place in stages and will progress as the infrastructure across the country is completed. The company expects that the deliveries to the general public will begin in the second quarter of 2012.
In 2010, Israel’s Ministry of Transportation gave Better Place a permit to import 13 Renault Fluence electric cars for testing. Israel has long been committed to electric cars, and has expressed hope that by the end of this year it will be the world’s first nation to host a national electric car network.
One of the innovations of the electric cars is that its motor is silent, eliminating the loud exhaust noises in regular cars.
“You hear a noise that lets you know the car is on,” Zohar Beit’or of Better Place told Arutz Sheva. “It’s exactly like the noise that an electric camera makes.”
“The car is so silent that you can actually speak quietly and have a nice conversation without the need to shout,” he said. “It really makes you relax.”
Beit’or noted that he was very excited about the official launch of the new cars, adding he has worked for three years on this project.
“When I started, we only had plans on PowerPoint and we shared many ideas on how this day would look,” he said. “And it’s happening now. For me, it’s a piece of history.”
The company’s Oren Kassif explained that while the Renault company makes the cars, the infrastructure is Israeli and developed by Better Place. This includes charging spots, battery swap stations, and the command and control software.
“This is the first time you can say, at a country-wide level, that you can drive an electric car anywhere in the country,” he said. “What we’ve shown today is that we can deliver the cars, we can sell them, we can have customers driving on the road anywhere they wish.”
He added, “It’s a very exciting day. For the past four years we’ve been developing the systems and the infrastructure, recruiting people and bringing in more investors and customers.”
Photos by Chen Galili
HOW AND WHO GOVERNS THE EXTRATERRITORIAL WATERS? This is an old question at www.SustainabiliTank.info PROMPTBOOK ON SUSTAINABILITY. Now A FIELD roundtable discussion on “A new governance body for the oceans? Focus on MPAs” will be held at FIELD’s offices in London on 12 January 2012 (2.30pm – 5pm).
Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD) |www.field.org.uk
The FIELD roundtable “A new governance body for the oceans? Focus on MPAs” follows from a previous roundtable on “new rules for the oceans” held in July 2011 where the subject was the recent work of the UN Working Group on marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
This second roundtable will be an opportunity to continue discussions on UN developments, with a particular focus on the potential for a new global governing body dealing with marine protected areas in areas beyond national jurisdiction. This includes the role that a new global body may play in relation to the identification, designation and management of marine protected areas. These issues will be very relevant to continued discussions of the Working Group.
Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD) |www.field.org.uk
Tel: + 44 (0)20 7842 8522| Suite D, 1st Floor | The Merchant Centre | 1 New Street Square | London, EC4A 3BF | United Kingdom
The “KIMO definitive working report” of the UNFCCC COP17/CMP7 of 2011 in Durban, South Africa. The intricacies and futurism of the Global power games that use the planet as a football when the climate is changing.
KIMO’s IISD Reporting Services of the ENB (Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI International Institute for Sustainable Development Environmental News Bulletin) provided the unofficial definitive report of the Durban Climate Change Conference – COP17/CMP7.
This is an invaluable unofficial document that will guide negotiators and participants in the intricate steps of governments dealing with the threats of Global Warming and Climate Change.
KIMO makes it clear that South Africa’s determination not to have the Kyoto Protocol die on African soil, and the determination of EU Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard, to keep it alive, that eventually won the final night in the INDABA Diplomacy and kicked the ball down the road towards the next series of stops.
We hope our readers will take the time to read the report:
Fast reading, noting that there were 12,480 registered participants, among them over 5400 government officials, 5800 representatives of UN bodies and agencies, intergovernmental organizations and civil society organizations, and more than 1,200 defined as media, leads to the conclusion that it was a multi-level chess game that somehow ends up making some sense when seen as a whole. Indeed, the final outcome is to be blessed upon in the sense that it returned the game to the true players by creating new alliances. and it is evident that there is a sense now that the problem is real and something will have to be done about it.
An un-united Europe with its allies from the AOSIS and LDC groups cannot bring about a solution, but nevertheless was able to form a new bloc that can stand at those INDABAs to negotiate with India, China, the US, and Brazil. We accept this as an admonishment to our past postings, but will continue to write that a truly united Europe could be much more effective. Let us remember, though it was not mentioned in the Kimo report – Ms. Connie Hedegaard, a Danish politician, former member of the Conservative Party in the Danish Prliament, journalist, and public intellectual, was Danish Minister for Climate and Energy, and Danish Minister for the Environment, and honed her knowledge of the issues when she hosted the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009. She was there at the time the EU fell of the negotiation table and believed that in Brussels she could redress this. We give her now credits for having done the best she could with her divided flock of Ministers. Oh Well!
The European Archipelago experienced high turmoil the weekend of December 9-11, 2011 – in Brussels and Durban, South Africa. Will part of the EU decide that time has come to create a real United Europe in order to count on the World Globalized Scene?
The “Monday After” the papers asked: Was the European Summit a “Fiasko” or a “Quality Jump?” The papers also wonder about the effectiveness of the “Durban Platform” having noted the strong involvement of the EU 27 in the Durban Conference fight. The Minister says it ended with a breakthrough – others say it was a “Mogelpackung.”
By the way – I happen personally to know know what a “Mogelpackung” is. Back years ago in New York some character sold me what I thought was a video-camera, but in reality it was just the box filled with trash. Surely I could have tried to accuse him of fraud but I preferred to condemn myself to a form of self-punishment for having been so brain weak – laughed it off and wrote off my loss on my self-education bill. That was easy then, but what should an European State do now? Global 2000 NGO spokesman Wahlmueller said simply that another year in the war against climate change was just lost. We think he is right.
What happened in Brussels was indeed a “Tour de Force” of the Merkozy motor (Mme. Merkel and Herr Sarkozy) leading to the political exit of Mr. Cameron. Yes, English will continue to be the diplomatic language of the evolving new European Union, but the UK is free to sail off to the Anglo-Saxon bloc led by the US – that is if the US can get its act together and lead again!
To the travails of the British Islands we attach an article from today’s New York Times – this just to say that the problems with the UK are also internal. This will be our only borrowed article of this posting – all the other material is of our own making, and as we decided to write this up as we realized that we are not the only ones to think the way we do.
In the real world of the 21st century it seems that as Thomas Friedman observed – the Globalized World is Flat – HOT, FLAT, and CROWDED. We add to this that it is important as well to think about how you draw the flat Map of the World. The realistic way is to put the Americas in the center of the map with the Pacific Ocean to the West – the left – and the Atlantic Ocean to the East – the right – with the Northern Hemisphere that includes among other States, the US and China on top – the North.
This maps shows the Trans-Pacific connection of the US to Japan, Australia and Indonesia, and the Trans-Atlantic connection to Europe and Africa. In this map European Russia is in the periphery, but Asian Russia shows up closer.
A different map is the Euro-centric map. This map keeps Europe and Africa in the center with what the Europeans called the Western Hemisphere – the Americas – to the West – or left – and the huge Asian mass – all of it – to the East or right. The interesting thing is that on this map you see that Europe is just a small part at the West End of the Eurasian land-mass.
The history we learned in school was written by Europeans, and we never were given the true notion that in the last few hundred years it was the European tail that wagged the big Asian dog. We must now relearn our history and realize that the future belongs to big Asia and Europe could have an impact only if it unites and forgets some of the past grandeur, when small European States, Spain, Portugal, France, the netherlands, the British, Belgium, Denmark, later on Italy, Germany, even Austria, having developed their navies and rented armies, competed as colonial powers, and made inroads starting out from the coasts of that landmass. But even then – Europe was just an archipelago of small States with the British living on an actual island off the coast of Europe. And you know what? The colonies gone, this same picture stood on, though now, when the size of markets translates into economic power, these European economic islands are shrinking in size. Also, the former colonial powers that still have overseas possessions or linkages, create additional difficulties to their potential to create an integrated Europe. Denmark for instance, joined the EU without Greenland joining as well. Others, like France, the UK, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal had to find also ways to deal with their overseas possessions and linkages to their Francophone community or the British Commonwealth.
This last Friday, the unnatural division of the EU into 17 EURO-ZONE States and 10 Non-Euro States proved untenable and a much higher level of integration was suggested at least for the EURO-ZONE to be implemented with the agreement of the non-Euro States that will be called as well to contribute to the economic safety of the laggard States. Everybody agrees that the EURO idea was premature and showed up half backed, but now if the EURO laggards are not helped the whole global economy might collapse. A much higher level of integration is needed and the start is by calling for fiscal integration to back up the Euro-spending. After a lot of haggling 26 out of the 27 did bend to allow for the loss of some of their National decision making powers. But is it enough? The British opted out, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic showed unhappiness, so did the Hungarians, but in the end it was only the UK that did not vote in the positive and they may find out that the rest of the EU might now try to live without the UK as an active participant. Considering that what was decided upon will turn out to be insufficient, it may thus come to be that the UK will not be able to find its way back in = specially as 58% of the population might instinctively accept the notion that it will be to their advantage to leave the thinking Euro-ship.
But did the British lay people look at the Durban scene? That mob of 27 Environment Ministers that did not add up to a seat at the table with the China-India-US big polluters and nay-sayers of the UNFCCC event. In effect the EU 27 ended up being in alliance with over 100 of the smaller UN fray – the Small Island States, the Least Developed States and parts of Africa. Brazil and South Africa, even though they were not in full alignment with the other BASIC States or the US, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Korea … the other leading developing economies were still in the lead and the 27 Europeans were tripping over each other in trying to prove that they are on the side of the good and thoughtful. Oh well!
Kyoto is dead for all practical purposes with Canada, Japan, Russia, New Zealand, joining the US on the sidelines – so it is disingenuous to say that the individual EU States saved the day.
Please see the internal debate now in the UK:
Partner in British Coalition Criticizes Cameron’s Veto on Europe Treaty.
By SARAH LYALL
Published: December 11, 2011, Printed in the New York TimesMonday, December 12, 2011.
LONDON — Serious cracks appeared in Britain‘ s coalition government on Sunday, when Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, a Liberal Democrat, broke with the government line and said he was “bitterly disappointed” at the outcome of last week’s European summit meeting.
Mr. Clegg told the BBC that the decision by Prime Minister David Cameron, a Conservative, to veto proposed European treaty changes left Britain in danger of being “isolated and marginalized” in Europe. He added that if he had been in charge, “of course things would have been different.”
Mr. Cameron vetoed the proposals early Friday after seeking, and failing to secure, safeguards he said were vital for the health of London’s financial sector. But with the 26 other members of the European Union either agreeing to the proposed plan outright or saying they would put the matter before their Parliaments, Mr. Cameron’s veto left Britain alone on the margins at a time of great upheaval on the Continent, with the European Union struggling to resolve its financial crisis.
On Friday, Mr. Clegg appeared to support Mr. Cameron’s decision, although he warned the Conservative Party’s anti-Europe wing against being too triumphant about the problems facing the European Union. But his stance hardened over the weekend, and on Sunday he appeared to have backtracked, or at least tried to finesse his explanation to show that was in line with his party’s pro-Europe principles.
In fact, Mr. Clegg told the BBC that when Mr. Cameron called him at 4 a.m. Friday with the news that Britain had vetoed the plan: “I said this was bad for Britain. I made it clear that it was untenable for me to welcome it.”
Mr. Clegg has already lost the confidence of many Liberal Democrats by appearing to betray the party’s position when he has supported the government on other issues, like increasing the amount of tuition colleges can charge.
After the summit meeting, many prominent Liberal Democrats went further than Mr. Clegg.
A former party leader, Paddy Ashdown, described Mr. Cameron’s veto as a “catastrophically bad move” and said it would do nothing to shield London’s financial district, the City, from future European regulations. “In the name of protecting the City, we have made it more vulnerable,” he said.
Lord Ashdown also warned that the move had alienated Europe in a way that would haunt the United Kingdom.
“The anti-European prejudice of some in the Tory party,” he said, “has now created anti-British prejudice in Europe.”
Mr. Clegg, a former member of the European Parliament, said he would now “fight, fight and fight again” to make sure Britain remained an influential force inside the European Union. He said he would resist “tooth and nail” efforts by some Conservatives to take the country completely out of the union, particularly since the United States has found Britain a useful conduit to Europe.
“A Britain that leaves the E.U. will be considered irrelevant by Washington and a pygmy in the world, when I want us to stand tall in the world,” he said.
Mr. Clegg criticized Conservatives who had hailed Mr. Cameron as a “British bulldog” for his tough line on Europe.
“There’s nothing bulldog about Britain hovering somewhere in the mid-Atlantic, not standing tall in Europe, not being taken seriously in Washington,” he said.
To which one Conservative member of Parliament, Mark Pritchard, retorted, “Better to be a British bulldog than a Brussels poodle,” The Associated Press reported.
Mr. Cameron, meanwhile, was welcomed as a hero by his party’s anti-Europe right wing. “Up Eurs,” was the headline in Rupert Murdoch’s populist, anti-European tabloid newspaper, The Sun, along with a photograph of Mr. Cameron in a Churchillian bowler hat, holding two fingers up to Europe — the equivalent of an American middle finger.
“He did what I would have expected Margaret Thatcher to have done,” Andrew Rosindell, a Conservative member of Parliament, said approvingly.
But Kenneth Clarke, the Justice secretary and the Conservatives’ most prominent pro-Europe member, said in a radio interview that Mr. Cameron’s veto was a “disappointing, very surprising outcome.” He said he would be listening carefully to the prime minister’s statement in Parliament on the matter on Monday.
As upset as he is, Mr. Clegg said he did not want the coalition government to collapse.
“It would be even more damaging for us as a country if the coalition government was to fall apart,” he said. “That would cause economic disaster for the country at a time of great economic uncertainty.”
The UNDP 2011 Human Development Report – “Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All” – will have its Global launch In Copenhagen today, November 2nd and we suspect that it is in recognition that last real global effort came about when Presidents Obama and Hu tried to jump-start the Climate Change economy.
2011 Human Development Report
“Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All”
What: New York launch of the 2011 Human Development Report
When: Wednesday, 2 November 2011, at 10:30 a.m. EST
Where: UN Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium
Who: William Orme, Chief of Communications & Publishing, Human Development Report Office
Milorad Kovacevic, Statistics Advisor at the Human Development Report Office
Satinder Bindra, Director, Office of Communications
The annual Human Development Report is an editorially independent publication of UNDP, produced annually since 1990. The Reports are available in ten languages for free downloading as PDFs or e-Books at
The Global launch of the Human Development Report will take place in Copenhagen, at 11:00 am GMT. Live webcast: on.undp.org/v2nDEC
We’ll also live tweet from @UNDP – join the conversation by using #hdr2011 in your tweets!
Join the discussion on Sustainable Human Development in a World at 7 Billion: Twitter chat with UNDP Administrator Helen Clark 13:30 GMT (9h30am EDT)
You do not need to have your own Twitter account to read chat contributions.
These states are:
Seven independent States – AUSTRALIA, CANADA, LICHTENSTEIN, LUXEMBOURG, NORWAY, SINGAPORE and SWITZERLAND.
Seven EURO States – AUSTRIA, DENMARK, FINLAND, FRANCE, GERMANY, THE NETHERLANDS, and SWEDEN.
and HONG KONG that sits on the rib of China.
Of these France seems to be next State to fall of this economists’ tree of life.
An Austrian made SOLAR BUS WITH EXCHANGEABLE BATTERIES was launched June 27, 2011 at the Marktplatz of the Marktgemeinde Perchtoldsdorf outside Vienna. This is the first such bus in the world, they claim. I wish former Governor Schwarzenegger were here to bless.
An Austrian made SOLAR BUS WITH EXCHANGEABLE BATTERIES was launched June 27, 2011 at the Marktplatz of the Marktgemeinde Perchtoldsdorf outside Vienna. This is the first such bus in the world, they claim.
Thursday, June 16th, 2011 - The Austrian Greens will present Monday June 20, 2011 the proposition – “AN ENERGY SWITCH! YES, IT IS POSSIBLE!” But in Austria it is not only the Greens – the spirit of Hermann Sheer and push for EUROSOLAR is everywhere and yes we were at a great green event but to our surprise the first SOLAR BUS – initiated by the Austrian greens – is actually a Green and Black cooperative effort and this brings us back to the position we started to take a couple of years ago that success on issues of climate change, energy security and sustainable energy do succeed when a green and business oriented group – basically bourgeois middle class – decides to work in tandem.
Now we have a positive example.
And the mini-bus story is as follows:
Perchtoldsdorf is a small vineyards community in Lower Austria at the doorsteps of Vienna. There is excellent public transportation from Vienna to Perchtoldsdorf and people come to enjoy its wine restaurants – the “Heurigen.” What is needed is a sensible local bus transportation and much of the private cars and even busses will be taken of the roads. One really does not need large busses – a 35 seater will probably do provided that they show up frequently – let us say no more then each 10 minutes. If someone misses the bus and has to wait 30 minutes he will use his car next time.
We came to Perchtoldsdorf this Monday to watch the launching of such a bus – and to top it – it is a SOLAR BUS RUN NOT JUST BY PANELS ON ITS ROOF – BUT BY EXCHANGEABLE BATTERIES THAT ARE RECHARGED FROM SOLAR POWER SYSTEM THAT IS OUTSIDE THE BUS.
THIS IS IN EFFECT THE SYSTEM DEVISED BY BETTER PLACE – THE PALO ALTO COMPANY THAT HAS ALREADY CONTRACTS IN DENMARK AND ISRAEL. The novelty here is that this system is devised for a captive fleet of busses that needs just one central battery exchange place. It is not intended for small cars with small batteries – but for small busses that tend to have large batteries.
I saw the battery – it is a long rather flat devise that is located under the mid-section of the car and is rolled out towards the left side of the car – that is the driver’s side. The other side has the stairs that can be lowered for wheel chairs. The prototype I saw carries 35 passengers. A smaller model for 9 passengers will also be made available.
The Mayor of the place is Martin Schuster of the right of center peoples’ party and the Chairman of he Mobility and Sustainability Committee in the local government is Christian Apl of the Green Party. The Peoples’ Party is in the Austrian Federal Government where it holds all relevant portfolios to the cause of Sustainability – Environment, Science, Economics, and Foreign Affairs. There the Greens are not part of the government. The government makes great statetements – like it call for EU to disembark from use of nuclear power – but let us face the reality that there little real moves to demonstrate the introduction of the alternatives. Here in Perchtoldsdorf I saw an example that actually runs rather then talks. It was innitiated by the local Greens but got full backing by the local blacks and a list of enterprises got involved in the production of the vehicle and in designing the support system.
I was pointed to the Monday event by a local volunteer, Rosemarie Dietz, whom I met at the monthly table of Eurosolar in Vienna, and then I was introduced to the principals of the event by another Green volunteer – Andrea Kucera and eventually ended up that evening at the excellent Drexler-Leeb Heurigen. I also learned that the bus was shown already on June 14, 2011 at the Stephansplatz/Graben intersection in the center of Vienna – the spiritual geographic focal point of Austria.
The website of this example of Photovoltaic solar mobility – www.Solarmobil.at
SOLARMOBIL AUSTRIA – ZUKUNFT IN BEWEGUNG – That is Future in Mobility.
Oekostrom die echte Alternative – Wir fahren Sonnenstrom. (Solar Power is the Real Alternative)
Those involved include:
the bus construction company Kutsenits International bus construction of Hornstein in Southern Burgenland. That location will use the 9-seater bus for their own smaller community. telephone: 0043(0)2689/22-16-0
The electric system was designed by Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT) in Vienna. The battery uses on-the-shelf existing technology – so there are no hidden costs there. The battery exchange station also has no particular innovative hardware.
The security issues in the design were all worked out by the Department of Motor Vehicle Security at the Technical University in Graz.
The motors used are of 50 KW or 70 KW and each bus comes with two batteries – one that is mounted on the underside of the bus while the other is being charged. The bus is intended to go for 250 km per day.
The motor itself is produced by Frank & Dvorak of Pottsching in Burgenland.
The electronics by Polzl Components of Spillern, Lower Austria.
The construction of the battery at Geschutzte Werkstatte of St. Polten, Lower Austria. These are lithium-ion packs of batteries.
The solar roof was readied by Sunplugged of Schwaz, Tirol – it has a 1.2 kWp power production capacity.
The bus will do 80 km/h and the battery lasts for 80-100 km. The time to change the battery is 2 minutes.
Good luck and we hope this system gets commercialized in many communities that will thus become independent of the larger energy markets.
All construction and parts are Austrian – something in itself very unusual these days.
Five reasons why Europe is cracking up.
This article was first published in the El Pais daily newspaper, 15/05/11
José Ignacio Torreblanca joined the European Council on Foreign Relations as a Senior Research Fellow and Head of the Madrid Office in September 2007.
He found that:
In Germany, France and Italy, but also in many other places, we find ourselves confronted with a generation of leaders ever more shortsighted and given over to electioneering: among them, none speak to Europe nor for Europe.
Denmark has reintroduced border controls with the populist excuse of controlling crime. By taking the step, the country that was once a model of democracy, tolerance and social justice has placed itself on the frontlines of a Europe that is increasingly surrendering to fear and xenophobia.
Greece, meanwhile, has spent more than a year teetering on a cliff edge and few fellow European governments seem disappointed that it may abandon the euro – some of them are even secretly supporting the markets against Athens.
Finland has thrown itself into the arms of xenophobic populism and, following in the footsteps of Slovakia, has refused to finance the bailout of Portugal.
With elections around the corner, France and Italy have taken advantage of the Tunisian uprising to restrict the free movement of people within the European Union.
And Germany, unhappy at managing the euro crisis amid regional elections, has broken ranks with France and the United Kingdom in the United Nations Security Council, ignoring the Libya crisis and undermining 10 years of European security policy.
With the future of the euro in doubt and the Arab world erupting, European leaders are governing on the basis of opinion polls and electoral processes, hanging on to power through any means possible even if that results in undoing the Europe that it took so much time and so many sacrifices to build. Few times in the past has the European project been so questioned and its disgraces so publicly exposed. It would seem that in the Europe of today, having a large xenophobic political party is obligatory.
The truth is that Europe is cracking up along four fault lines: its values, the euro, foreign policy and leadership.
If there is no radical change, the integration process could collapse, leaving the future of Europe as an economically and politically relevant entity up in the air.
If interested to read further on issues like:
A project without fuel
Crisis of values and political shortsightedness
The end of solidarity
Absent from the world
The rebellion of the elites
please go to the original: www.opendemocracy.net/jos%C3%A9-i…
With every passing day, the sensation that Europe is fragmenting is more real and more justified. Can Europe break apart? The answer is evident: yes, of course it can. At the end of the day, the European Union is a human construction, not a celestial body. That it is necessary and beneficial justifies its existence, but that will not prevent it from disappearing. Just as a series of favorable circumstances led to the risky launch of this grand project, the unleashing of a series of adverse circumstances could very easily make it disappear, especially if those responsible for defending it shirk their responsibilities. Many committed pro-Europeans are conscious that the danger of Europe unravelling is very real, and they are duly worried about the course of events. However, at the same time, they fear that feeding pessimism with warnings of this nature could only serve to accelerate the collapse. But when, day after day, we see the red lines of decency and the values that Europe embodies being crossed by bigoted politicians who unscrupulously fuel the fears of citizens, it is impossible to continue looking the other way. Seeing the clarity of ideas and the determination with which the anti-Europeans pursue their objectives, it is hard to believe that mere optimism will be sufficient by itself to save Europe from the ghosts of doggedness, egoism and xenophobia that are haunting it at present. Without an equal level of determination and clarity of ideas from the other side, Europe will fail.
The David Hadley cloud over US-India relations. What can President Obama do to amend for the role US secret agencies had in further destabilization of the India-Pakistan border. The saga of the Hadley wives that plays very bad in India, we heard about this here first from questions of Indian journalists at US press conferences.
D.E.A. Deployed Mumbai Plotter Despite Warning.
By GINGER THOMPSON, ERIC SCHMITT and SOUAD MEKHENNET
Published: November 7, 2010
WASHINGTON — American authorities sent David C. Headley, a small-time drug dealer and sometime informant, to work for them in Pakistan months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, despite a warning that he sympathized with radical Islamic groups, according to court records and interviews. Not long after Mr. Headley arrived there, he began training with terrorists, eventually playing a key role in the 2008 attacks that left 164 people dead in Mumbai.
The October 2001 warning was dismissed, the authorities said, as the ire of a jilted girlfriend and for lack of proof. Less than a month later, those concerns did not come up when a federal court in New York granted Mr. Headley an early release from probation so that he could be sent to work for the United States Drug Enforcement Administration in Pakistan. It is unclear what Mr. Headley was supposed to do in Pakistan for the Americans.
“All I knew was the D.E.A. wanted him in Pakistan as fast as possible because they said they were close to making some big cases,” said Luis Caso, Mr. Headley’s former probation officer.
On Sunday, while President Obama was visiting India, he briefed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the status of his administration’s investigation of Mr. Headley, including the failure to act on repeated warnings that he might be a terrorist. A senior United States official said the inquiry has concluded that while the government received warnings, it did not have strong enough evidence at the time to act on them. “Had the United States government sufficiently established he was engaged in plotting a terrorist attack in India, the information would have most assuredly been transferred promptly to the Indian government,” the official said in a statement to The New York Times. The statement did not make clear whether any American agencies would be held accountable.
In recent weeks, United States government officials have begun to acknowledge that Mr. Headley’s path from American informant to transnational terrorist illustrates the breakdowns and miscommunications that have bedeviled them since the Sept. 11 attacks. Warnings about his radicalism were apparently not shared with the drug agency that made use of his ties in Pakistan.
The director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., began an investigation into Mr. Headley’s government connections after reports last month that two of the former drug dealer’s ex-wives had gone to American authorities between 2005 and 2008, before the Mumbai attacks, to say they feared he was plotting with terrorists. Combined with the earlier warning from the former girlfriend, three of the women in Mr. Headley’s life reported his ties to terrorists, only to have those warnings dismissed.
An examination of Mr. Headley’s story shows that his government ties ran far deeper and longer than previously known. One senior American official knowledgeable about the case said he believed that Mr. Headley was a D.E.A. informant until at least 2003, meaning that he was talking to American agencies even as he was learning to deal with explosives and small arms in terrorist training camps.
The review raises new questions about why the Americans missed warning signs that a valued informant was becoming an important figure in radical Islamic groups, and whether some officials chose to look the other way rather than believe the complaints about him. The October 2001 warning from the girlfriend was first reported Friday by ProPublica, the independent investigative news operation, and published in The Washington Post.
Fuller details of how the government handled the matter were provided to The Times by officials who did not want to be quoted discussing a continuing inquiry. They disclosed that the F.B.I. actually talked to Mr. Headley about the girlfriend, and he told them she was unreliable. They said that while he seemed to have a philosophical affinity for some groups, there was no evidence that he was plotting against the United States. Also influencing the handling of the case, they said, was that he had been a longtime informant.
The Indian government has been outspoken in its concerns that the United States overlooked repeated warnings about Mr. Headley’s terrorist activities because of his links to both American law enforcement as well as to officials in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate — a key ally of the United States in the fight against terrorism.
Mr. Headley, 50, born in the United States to a Pakistani diplomat and Philadelphia socialite, has pleaded guilty in connection with the Mumbai plot and a thwarted attack against a Danish newspaper that published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. As he has many times before, he is cooperating with the authorities, this time hoping to avoid the death penalty. Officials of the D.E.A., which has a long history with Mr. Headley, declined to discuss their relationship with him. The C.I.A. and the F.B.I. said that Mr. Headley had never worked with them. Privately, the agencies point fingers at each other.
The transcript of a Nov. 16, 2001, probation hearing in federal court in New York shows the government took great pains not to identify which agency was handling Mr. Headley, or whether he worked for more than one.
Mr. Caso, his former probation officer, recalled that Mr. Headley had been turned over to the D.E.A. Another person familiar with the case confirms this account. It was a world Mr. Headley knew well. After arrests in 1987 and 1998, he cooperated with the drug agency in exchange for lighter sentences. He specialized in the ties between Pakistani drug organizations and American dealers along the East Coast.
A September 1998 letter that prosecutors submitted to court after an arrest then showed that the government considered Mr. Headley — who had admitted to distributing 15 kilograms of heroin over his years as a dealer — so “reliable and forthcoming,” that they sent him to Pakistan to “develop intelligence on Pakistani heroin traffickers.”
The letter indicates that Mr. Headley, who faced seven to nine years in prison for his offense, was such a trusted partner to the drug agency in the 1990s that he helped translate hours of tape-recorded telephone intercepts, and coached drug agency investigators on how to question Pakistani suspects. The courts looked favorably on his cooperation, according to records, sentencing Mr. Headley to 15 months in prison, and five years’ probation.
While he was on probation, in October 2001, a woman told the F.B.I. that she believed her former boyfriend, Mr. Headley, was sympathetic to extremist groups in Pakistan, according to a senior American official who has been briefed on the case. The government was flooded with thousands of such tips at that time, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
William Headley, an uncle, recalled that agents called his sister to ask if her son had terrorist leanings. “She didn’t seem upset at all by the call,” William Headley said. “And I didn’t think much of it either because at that time, I thought the government was checking out anyone who had ties to Pakistan.”
It is unclear how widely disseminated the warning was. But in that probation hearing one month later, the government enlisted Mr. Headley’s help again, suspending his sentence in exchange for what court records described only as “continuing cooperation.” According to the transcript, it was a rushed affair. The probation officer apologized for not being properly dressed, and the lawyers explained that they had not been able to make their case in writing. Mr. Headley was a potential gold mine, according to an official knowledgeable about the agreement to release him from probation. One person involved in the case said American agencies had “zero in terms of reliable intelligence. And it was clear from the conversations about him that the government was considering assignments that went beyond drugs.”
American authorities have not disclosed what happened after Mr. Headley resumed his role as an informant. But in December 2001, the same month Mr. Headley departed for Pakistan, the United States designated the Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taiba as a terrorist organization. Less than two months later — in February 2002 — Mr. Headley began training with the group on “the merits of waging jihad.”
Between 2002 and 2005, Mr. Headley attended at least four additional Lashkar sessions, including training on surveillance and small-arms combat. Then in 2007, he began scouting targets for the group to attack in Mumbai, staying at least twice at the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel, and hiring fishermen for private tours of the port that helped him identify where the sea-traveling attackers could land. It is unclear when and why his connections to the United States government ended.
After the Mumbai attacks, Mr. Headley apparently turned his attention to Europe, according to recently released transcripts of his questioning by the Indian authorities. He contacted Ilyas Kashmiri, widely considered one of Al Qaeda’s most dangerous operatives, and begin plotting the attack against the Danish newspaper, according to his own account. Mr. Kashmiri put Mr. Headley in touch with Qaeda operatives in Europe who would help. He traveled to Britain in August 2009, then to Stockholm.
British intelligence authorities alerted the United States to Mr. Headley’s August meeting in Britain, saying that they believed he was involved in a plot against the Denmark newspaper. He was arrested in connection with the Denmark plot last October.
American authorities had no idea that he was also involved in the Mumbai attacks until he told them. Since then, he has been in federal custody in Chicago.
An American counterterrorism official said that agents who had questioned Mr. Headley called him “dangerously engaging.” The official said Mr. Headley was “a very charming individual who clearly knows how to manipulate the system to get what he wants” and added that agents steeled themselves before meeting with him so as not to “get sucked into his mind games.”
In Israel’s Self Interest – It Is Now Intent In Helping The World Disengage From Dependence On Oil. In The Case Of The United States This Means More Electricity In Transportation And The Introduction Of Biofuels – Israel Is Leading In Both These Areas.
We are extremely gratified by the following article I just received as this is about one of the tenets we put forward many years ago: It is Israel’s self interest to be a leader in efforts to decrease the WORLD’S dependence on oil – not just because it improves air quality and helps combating climate change – but it also decreases the funds that are made available to its enemies. In past years, because of US politics being driven by Washington lobbyists for Big Oil, the Israelis kept very low on these topics – seemingly now – because of open disagreements on Middle East policy with the United States – they seemingly feel free to do the right thing and step closer to the leadership position in energy technologies that they are so capable of.
Back in 1959 – then again in 1974 – we suggested Israel develop its oil-shale resource for supply reasons. We got off that track when we moved our interest to biofuels – which we suggested the Israel Refinery become the global example and start using ethanol as an octane enhancer to replace lead compounds – that would have created an 8 – 15% replacement of the gasoline used in the global market. Some in Israel understood the argument, but others looked to the non-forthcoming US leadership.
Then we trumpeted on www.SustainabiliTank.info technologies being developed by Israeli academic institutions – advances in electric batteries, algae, cellulosics, solar energy, geothermal installations, mini-turbines, the “Better Place” management concept. We spoke with some Israeli politicians and found an echo with the budding Green Party representatives in the Tel Aviv municipality, and some of Israel’s representatives at the UN. Our argument was – “Yes you can” – you can innovate and make technologies available free to the global market – free in the sense that you do not charge patent fees – as the country will get repaid by the decrease in military expenditures. The world’s attention to climate change allows you a leadership position because of your high level of scientific research. The following article shows that things-are-changing and Centers of Diplomacy and Communication – not just Science – are being created in Israel in order to promote these ideas. Would it not be nice to see other countries, i.e. India, Germany, Denmark, Brazil, New Zealand, join with Israel in promoting these ideas and push as well the UN institutions that deal with sustainable development and climate change?
by Dr. Emmanuel Navon
BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 118, November 7, 2010
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The emergence of China as a major oil importer is feeding geopolitical tensions with the United States over the securing of oil supplies. Russia’s oil resources – a significant source of that country’s increasingly aggressive foreign policy – are also of concern to the US, as is the expected depletion of oil resources over the coming decades. The solution to this problem lies in the ending of oil’s monopolistic status by promoting the use of biofuels and electricity for transportation, something in which Israel can assist thanks to its technological lead in electric cars and second-generation biofuels.
In January 2008 Better Place signed a partnership agreement with Renault-Nissan to launch a new electric car project. Renault-Nissan is building the vehicles while Better Place is building the electric recharge grid, which will enable its customers to recharge their cars wherever they park. More significantly, battery switching stations will enable drivers to switch their car battery in less time than it would take to fill a gas tank. These stations will be spread out just like gas stations, and switching batteries will not involve any extra cost for the customer since the customer is charged only for kilometrage.
Israel is certainly aware of the need to dethrone the monopolistic status of oil, and it has recently taken initiatives in that regard (such as the launching of the yearly international renewable energy conference in 2007, the establishment of the Institute for Renewable Energy Policy at the IDC in 2008 and the setting-up of a national commission for the replacement of fossil fuels in 2009). In September 2010, the Israeli government decided to invest nearly NIS 200 million over the next ten years in R&D projects aimed at creating alternatives to oil. (The plan also calls for government money to be supplemented by donations from the private sector to the tune of NIS 180 million a year).
To avoid the risky dependency on electric cars exclusively (an electric blackout caused by natural disasters could cripple transportation for entire regions), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), which run on electricity and automatically keep running on liquid fuel (including biofuel) when the electrical charge is used up, are most likely to become the most widespread vehicles in the future. Moreover, replacing gasoline cars with electric cars would only partially reduce the world’s dependency on oil because of the massive use of petroleum by ships and airplanes (both civil and military). Hence, the importance of biofuels.
Dr. Emmanuel Navon is a lecturer at Tel Aviv University’s Abba Eban Graduate Program for Diplomacy Studies and a senior fellow at the Center for International Communication at Bar-Ilan University.