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Posted on on August 19th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

Last night – August 18, 2015 – in New York City – we went to Philharmonic Hall at Lincoln Center to listen to a performance of perfection – Joshua Bell playing Bach – the Chaconne dating from 1720 and the Violin concerto in E major dating to “before 1730.”

I thought this became a subject for our website because of an article by Lars Gustafsson that was part of the printed program brochure that was handed out to us. The title “THE STILLNESS OF THE WORLD BEFORE BACH” – the fact that we might think that it might seem there was no great music before Bach – BUT THERE MUST HAVE BEN SOMETHING THERE BEFORE 1720.

Then I thought = wait the steam engine was developed over a period of about a hundred years by three British inventors. The first crude steam powered machine was built by Thomas Savery, of England, in 1698. Savery built his machine to help pump water out of coal mines – only in 1781 James Watt patented a steam engine that produced continuous rotary motion.

So we can say that the development of the steam engine, that brought about the industrial revolution, went on in parallel with the development of music that started with Bach and if we may say continued with Haydn, Beethoven and Mozart.

Could we say that some form of life did exist before we started to use coal en-masse and invented concepts of economic growth and development? What was the life we replaced? What was the cultural expressions we lost when accepting the progress in music?
The Gustafsson article stimulates our thoughts.

Gustafsson – since the late 1950s has produced poetry, novels, short stories, critical essays, and editorials. He gained international recognition as a Swedish writer with literary awards such as the Prix International Charles Veillon des Essais in 1983, the Heinrich Steffens Preis in 1986, Una Vita per la Litteratura in 1989, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for poetry in 1994, and several others. He has been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature. His major works have been translated into fifteen languages, and Harold Bloom includes Gustafsson in The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages (1994). John Updike offered high praise for Gustafsson’s The Death of a Beekeeper in his collection of criticism, Hugging The Shore.

Gustafsson said once “I listen. I listen and I look. Creativity knows no rules. You can get an idea for a novel from a little something someone says, or just a face you see. A rabbi once told me that when God spoke to Moses in that bush, it wasn’t in a thundering voice; it was in a very weak voice. You have to listen carefully for that voice. You have to be very sharp.”

In May 2009, Lars Gustafsson declared that he would vote for the Pirate Party in the upcoming elections for the European Parliament

Lars Gustafsson: The Stillness of the World Before Bach

There must have been a world before
the Trio Sonata in D, a world before the A minor partita,
but what kind of a world?

A Europe of vast empty spaces, unresounding,
everywhere unawakened instruments
where the Musical Offering, the Well-Tempered Clavier
never passed across the keys.

Isolated churches
where the soprano line of the Passion
never in helpless love twined round
the gentler movements of the flute,
broad soft landscapes
where nothing breaks the stillness
but old woodcutters’ axes
the healthy barking of strong dogs in winter
and, like a bell, skates biting into fresh ice;
the swallows whirring through summer air,
the shell resounding at the child’s ear
and nowhere Bach nowhere Bach
the world in a skater’s stillness before Bach.

published in New Directions Paperback NDP656, “The Stillness of the World Before Bach: New Selected Poems” by Lars Gustafsson.

Yes – there was a harmonious world even without the sound of Bach – that is what I took from the above poem.
Surely, I did not transform this into a feeling that this was a better world – simply I picked up that it was still a livable world that could exist with simpler pleasures.

Nevertheless we are thankful to Bach for having shown us the way to perhaps a higher level of civilized pleasures. How does this translate to the Steam-engine thought that we understand today as a step backwards – because of the dependence on fossil fuels?

But this would be a wrong conclusion – it would be more correct to see that we can get all those benefits from higher technologies like we get from Bach’s music, if we only opt to use Renewable Energy and even higher tech methods that allow us similar results without that pesky dependence on oil and coal. Gustafsson was right in in opting for the Pirates in his search for true enlightenment in a corrupt world.


Posted on on January 29th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (


With the US President out-of the country – courting the Saudis in Riyadh – the US East Coast experienced January 27 2015 winter storm Juno that while sparing New York City was nevertheless the most expensive storm in US history thanks in part to the anticipatory moves taken by the region’s mayors and Governors and the fact that it did bury Boston under a heavy layer of snow.

At the UN that date was bracketed in between two very important event. The one on Monday January 26th that was held as scheduled – right before the shut-down of the UN for Juno’s Tuesday the 27. The other event was supposed to be held on Tuesday the 27 Which was the Holocaust Memorial Day HMD, but was postponed for Wednesday the 28th – the day the UN gates were opened again.

We present here the two reports by Irith Jawetz who participated at the two events at the UN.

“Staying together – Dialogue in the Face of Extremism”

This event was the last one before the United Nations shut down because of the approaching of what was described as the “Blizzard of the Century” in New York City. When we left the building at 3 p.m. we were led out through the basement, since the main entrance and exit doors were already shut down. The UN expects to reopen again on Wednesday, January 28th. The Holocaust Memorial Ceremony, originally scheduled for Tuesday, January 27th, 2015 was postponed for Wednesday, January 28th due to the inclement weather.

It was a High-level Panel on “Staying Together – Dialogue in the Face of Violent Extremism” and took place on Monday 26 January 2015, 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm at the Trusteeship Council, UN Headquarters

The event was co sponsored by The Permanent Missions of Sweden and Indonesia to the United Nations.
It was chaired and moderates by Ghida Fakhry who did an outstanding job. Ms. Fakhri is a Lebanese broadcast journalist who has been one of the primary broadcasters for the news Al Jazeera English since its launch, and is currently based at the channel’s main broadcast center in Doha, Qatar.

Opening Remarks were given by H.E. Ms. Margot Wallström, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sweden who welcomes everybody and thanked us all for attending the event in spite of the weather. She started by quoting Mahatma Gandhi who said ” There is no way to Peace – Peace is the way” . Sweden has had its problems since it has taken in refugees from Iraq, and now Syria, but she believes that dialogue between ethnic groups and religious leaders is the right way to combat those problems. Sweden encourages dialogue between leaders of the Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders.

The panel included:

H.E. Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations;
H.R.H. Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights;
H.E. Ms. Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO;
H.E. Mr. Iyad Amin Madani, Secretary-General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC);
H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilisations (UNAoC);
Dr. Siti Ruhaini Dzuhayatin, representative of the Indonesian civil society;
Paul Berman the New York essayist;

Closing Remarks were given by H.E. Mr. Desra Percaya, Permanent Representative, Indonesia

Mr. Jan Eliasson stressed that we have to stay cool and find the root causes to the problem of extremism. It is important to stop recruitment of new extremists, we have to isolate extremists and the job should be done by everybody who has some power, i.e. political leaders, religious leaders, parents, Grandparents, teachers, community leaders, whoever comes in touch with the public. It should be a wake up call.

Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, who told us that she was marching on that march in Paris, stressed the importance of educating your children and young adults about Cultural diversity and global citizenship. She stressed that the most influential people would be the religious leaders. Their roles are important.

H.R.H. Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stressed the idea that violence and extremism are consequence of circumstances. Those people believe that their actions are justified because the circumstances created them. Torture and killing are wrong but necessary. Just like spying is wrong but necessary. What bothers him that there are no real protests in the Arab world against extremists.

Mr. Paul Berman introduced a new word: Islamism. By Islamism he does not mean Islam, or Islamists, but Islamism which is just like Fascism, Nazism, Stalinism. People who practice Islamism believe in conspiracy theory, the western world is against them, Zionism is against them, and he also stressed that those elements must be fought by all means.

The Consensus of the speakers was that recent acts of violent extremism around the world remind us that dialogue is more important than ever. We must stay together, united against those divisive forces which challenge the diversity and core values of our societies. A multifaceted and comprehensive approach is key. The counter-narrative to polarisation is inclusive participation.

This high-level event aims to give new impetus to the promotion of a culture of peace, dignity and respect for human rights, drawing on existing initiatives of the United Nations. Here, the UN Alliance of Civilizations and UNESCO’s “Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures” afford examples of intercultural confidence-building in practice. How can we together step up efforts to strengthen the voices of moderation? Can we, jointly, find new ways to co-operate in order to counter violent extremism whilst safeguarding a culture of dialogue?

The event was informative, and one can only hope that the ideas expressed will not stay only on paper and measures will be implemented.


2015 International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust.

The International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust is marked every year on January 27th, the date on which Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated in 1945 by Soviet troops. This year’s observance, on the theme ‘Liberty, Life and the Legacy of the Holocaust Survivors,’ coincides with two milestone events: the 70th anniversary of the Second World War’s end and the founding of the UN.

This year the event took place on January 28, 2015 at the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations in New York. It was originally set for Tuesday, January 27th, the correct date, but because of the snow storm on Monday on the East Coast of the United States it was postponed for Wednesday.

The Hall was crowded and the first rows were reserved for holocaust survivors.

Ther motto of the event was “Liberty, Life and the Legacy of the Holocaust survivors.”

Opening remarks were delivered by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. He started his speech by greeting the new elected Israeli President H.E. Mr. Reuven Rivlin, and all the holocaust survivors present.

“Anti-Semitism remains a violent reality; Jews continue to be killed solely because they are Jews. Extremism and dehumanization are present across the world, exploited through social media and abetted by sensationalist press coverage. The targets are as diverse as humankind itself,” the Secretary-General said.

“In Europe and elsewhere, Muslims are under attack, the victims of bigotry at the hands of political opportunists and ultra-nationalists. Vulnerable populations everywhere bury their dead and live in fear of further violence.”

“I take heart from counter-demonstrations, rallies and interfaith dialogue. We must all remain on our guard. We must uphold human rights, democratic freedoms and our responsibility to protect people at risk. And we must respond to terrorism and provocation in ways that resolve – instead of multiply – the problem,” he underscored.

“As we remember what was lost in the past, and as we recognize the perils of the present, we know what we must do – and we know we must do it together,” said Mr. Ban .

H.E. Mr. Reuven Rivlin started his speech in English and continued in Hebrew. He explained that the Hebrew language is the language of his parents, his people, and it is befitting that this talk should be delivered in that language.

In his address, Reuven Rivlin recalled the “brutal,” “perverted” extermination of Jews during the Holocaust “in the most horrifying crime ever committed in the history of the human race.” The United Nations rose on the ruins of the Second World War, he said, stressing that the International Day was not just a gesture because the pledge ‘Never again’ was “the very essence of the UN,” and the principle and primary reason for its existence.

However, since the UN was founded, more nations and communities had been slaughtered. “We must ask ourselves honestly: is our struggle – the struggle of the General Assembly against genocide – effective enough?” he said. “Are we shedding too many tears and taking too little action?”

Mr. Rivlin noted that the Convention on Genocide was now 64 years-old but remained a merely “symbolic document” that had not realized its objectives. The international community had a duty to lay down the red lines defining genocide and to make clear that crossing those lines must mean intervention. Humanitarian and moral considerations had to take precedence over economic, political or other interests in the fight against genocide.

“Nations cannot be saved and must not be saved as an afterthought or from considerations of cost-benefit,” Mr. Rivlin said. “Unless the moral fire burns within us, the lessons of the Holocaust will never be learned.”

The General Assembly must act as a determined and unified international community or else risk leaving the ‘Never again’ oath hollow and defiled.

“We must remain silent no longer. We must rise up and take action,” he said.

In his remarks, General Assembly Vice-President Denis Antoine also underscored the importance of drawing lessons from the tragedy of the Holocaust and the need to “pass them on to the present and future generations,” particularly as the world continued to confront instances of violent intolerance and brutal prejudice.

A very remarkable speaker was Youth Advisor Ms. Charlotte Cohen. In September 2013 British Prime Minister David Cameron announced the establishment of a national holocaust Commission in order to ensure that Britain has a permanent and fitting memorial to the holocaust and educational resourced for generations to come. Ms. Cohen won an essay contest on the subject “Why is it so important that we remember the Holocaust and how can we make sure future generations never forget”. Charlotte came to the United Nations to speak on that important day and t stress the need to “never forget”.

Two emotional speeches came from two Holocaust survivors. The first was Mrs. Jona Laks who was nine years old and living with her family in Lodz, Poland, when Hitler invaded Poland. Together with her family she was forced to live under inhuman conditions in the Lodz Ghetto, and in 1944 was transferred to Auschwitz. She and her twin sister were subject to the experiments undertaken by SS Dr. Josef Mengele. She described the horrors she had to endure and there was not one dry eye in the audience. She managed to survive the Death March and ended up in Israel, the sole survivor of her family.

The second survivor was Soviet Army Veteran Mr. Boris Feldman who spoke in Russian. He was born in 1920 in Vinnitskaya Oblast, Ukraine, and was taken by the Nazis to the “Chernevetsloe” ghetto where he remained until March 1944 when the ghetto was liberated by the Soviet Army. Later he joined the Soviet Army and fought as an infantryman in Eastern Europe against the German Army. He was decorated with several military medals.

For the “musical” part of the ceremony we listened to Israeli Grammy Award winning violinist Miri Ben-Ari who co-founded the Gedenk Movement. She explained that the word “Gedenk” means “Remember” in Yiddish. She helped create the non profit organization in 2006 to expand young people’s awareness about the holocaust and antisemitism and its negative consequences in today’s world.

Cantor Shimmy Miller from Congregation Ahavath Torah in Englewood, New Jersey recited El Maleh Racahamim and Ani Ma’amin. He was accompanied by Mr. Daniel Gildar on the Keyboard.

A moving ceremony befitting its motto: “Liberty, Life and the legacy of the Holocaust survivors”.


Irith Jawetz worked 1972-2010 – for 38 years – as part of the Austrian Government Foreign Service – with Austrian Holocaust survivors that restarted their lives in the United States.


Posted on on January 25th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

We find it astonishing how not even the Alternate Media sees the whole picture. The Glenn Greenwald following article is surely a great further contribution to his efforts to open hidden content – but even he missed a more up-to date point – the fact that January 27, 2015 happens to be the date much of Europe commemorates the freeing 70 years ago, January 27, 1945, of the Auschwitz death camp by the Russian Army. Simply put – even at the UN – January 27 is HMD – Holocaust Memorial Day while quite a few Muslim/Islamic States are effectively Holocaust deniers something outlawed in civilized States. I am just not sure where the Saudis present and past stand on this issue.

Many European leaders will be at Auschwitz that day but Putin will not be there. Oh well – he just was not invited by the Poles! Now come the news that President Obama will be in Ryadh! Ryadh of all places? A town where Jews are not allowed even as tourists – in 2015?

We did not condemn President Obama for not going to the Paris reunion of Heads of State after the ISIS/AQAP attacks on that Jewish supermarket and Charlie Hebdo. We felt that he was right to let the Europeans deal with this by themselves – rather then make a token appearance – but Auschwitz is just another matter. It was the US that took on the responsibility to save Europe from itself, and at that time the World at large as well. And that is something that calls for the US participation at highest level at this 70th commemoration that happens to be when the World is threatened again – and this time by Islamic fanatics – and don’t forget it – that started out in Saudi Arabia – and the White House and Congress choices seem all wrong.

So far we read that Bundespräsident Joachim Gauck, France President Francois Hollande, King Willem-Alexander of the Niederlands and Queen Maxima, Crown Princess Viktoria of Schweden, and Crown Prince Haakon von Norway are among the Heads of State that are going to Auschwitz for the January 27, 2015 memorial. Then the announcement that President Obama and Vice-President Biden go to Ryadh. President Obama even shortened his all-important trip to India to pass on the way back through Ryadh. This seemingly detours now also President Hollande and Prime Minister Cameron who seemingly will switch from going to Auschwitz and go to Ryadh instead. Oh well – this smells of oil. Today this means that the new Saudi King will be asked to reciprocate by continuing the policy of cheap oil that hurts mainly Iran and Russia while being a boon to short-sighted industrial economies.


It seems like somebody had an after-thought in the White House – and voila:

The White House – Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release
January 17, 2015
President Obama Announces Presidential Delegation to Attend the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau

President Barack Obama today announced the designation of a Presidential Delegation to Oswicim, Poland, to attend the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau on January 27, 2015.

The Honorable Jacob J. Lew, Secretary of the Department of Treasury, will lead the delegation.

Members of the Presidential Delegation:

The Honorable Stephen D. Mull, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Poland, Department of State

The Honorable Crystal Nix-Hines, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Department of State

The Honorable David Saperstein, Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Department of State

Dr. Charles A. Kupchan, Senior Director for European Affairs, National Security Council

Mr. Nicholas Dean, Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues, Department of State

Ms. Aviva Sufian, Special Envoy for U.S. Holocaust Survivor Services, Department of Health and Human Services

Mr. Israel Arbeiter, Auschwitz-Birkenau Survivor

Mrs. Irene Weiss, Auschwitz-Birkenau Survivor

Mr. David Harris, Executive Director, American Jewish Committee


But this is a Jewish delegation headed by the White House Jewish appointee – this is not the political delegation that the hour demands. Why is the trip to the family of the Tyrant King more important to President Obama and then – seemingly also Congress – did not yet think of sending someone to the Auschwitz Memorial?


Another e-mail we just got is from Antony Beevor of the Guardian
–…he tells us that Putin does not go to the Auschwitz Memorial because the Poles did not invite him – and this is a terrible mistake of the Europeans – to let the Poles take such a stand.

The note starts: “Why Vladimir Putin should be at the Auschwitz memorial ceremony.
We should forget neither the Soviet Union’s role in liberating the camps nor its antisemitic blind spots.”

It continues: “On 27 January 1945 a reconnaissance patrol from the Soviet 107th Rifle Division emerged from the snow-laden forest 70km west of Kraków. The soldiers were mounted on shaggy ponies, their submachine guns slung across their backs. In front of them stood Auschwitz-Birkenau, the grimmest symbol of modern history. Officers gazed around in disbelief, then called in medical teams to care for the 3,000 sick prisoners left behind.

It is a great shame that Vladimir Putin, having not been invited, won’t be present at a memorial ceremony next week to mark the 70th anniversary – at the very least, it would have reminded the world that the advance of Stalin’s Red Army forced the SS to abandon the extermination camps in the east. And yet the muted row over the Russian president’s absence is a reminder that this particular chapter in Russia’s second world war history was, and remains, full of contradictions.

. The first death camp to be liberated by the Red Army was Majdanek just outside Lublin, in July 1944. The novelist and war correspondent Vasily Grossman was on the spot with the 8th Guards Army, which had defended Stalingrad, but an order came down that he was not to cover the story. The job was given instead to Konstantin Simonov, a favourite of the regime, who managed to avoid mentioning that any of the victims in Majdanek were Jewish. Grossman, despite warnings from his friend Ilya Ehrenburg, had been slow to believe that antisemitism could exist within the Soviet hierarchy during the death struggle with Nazism. But in 1943 he had noticed that any reference to Jewish suffering was being cut from his articles. He wrote to complain to Aleksandr Shcherbakov, the chief of the Red Army political department. Shcherbakov replied: “The soldiers want to hear about [Russian military hero of the Napoleonic era] Suvorov, but you quote [German 19th-century poet] Heine”. Grossman joined Ehrenburg on the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee to chronicle Nazi crimes, unaware of how dangerous this might prove to be. Several of their colleagues were murdered by the secret police.

Certain truths about the Shoah could never be published in the Sovet Union. When Grossman wrote about the extermination camp of Treblinka, he could not reveal that the auxiliary guards were mostly Ukrainian. Collaboration with the enemy was a taboo subject since it undermined the rhetoric of the Great Patriotic War.

As the end of the war approached, controls became even stricter. Auschwitz may have been liberated at the end of January 1945, but no details were released until the final victory in May. The Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee soon found that its work was in direct opposition to the party instruction: “Do not divide the dead!” Jews were not to be seen as a special category of suffering. They were to be described only as citizens of the USSR and Poland. Thus in a way Stalin was the first Holocaust denier, even if his antisemitism was not quite the same as that of the Nazis. It was probably based more on a xenophobic suspicion of international connections than on racial hatred.

Soviet propaganda, while designating those killed at Auschwitz in collectively anonymous terms as “victims of fascism”, also portrayed the extermination camp as the ultimate capitalist factory, where the workers were murdered when no longer useful.

And there was a further twist away from the truth. The Stalinists emphasised how many Poles had died there to distract attention from their own crimes against the Polish people, both following the Red Army’s unprovoked invasion in 1939 under the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, and its brutal occupation from 1944. They portrayed Auschwitz as the place of martyrdom for the Polish nation. By talking only of the Polish Catholics who had died there, they hoped that the Poles might focus any anger at their bitter fate entirely against Germany and not against the Soviet Union.

Few Poles were taken in during those postwar years of Soviet oppression. And now Putin’s ill-disguised attempts to reassert Russian control over Ukraine have of course reminded the Polish people all too clearly of what Soviet “liberation” meant for them in 1945. It is not therefore surprising that we should be seeing a certain amount of diplomatic shadow-boxing in the background, while both sides insist everything is normal.

The Kremlin is pretending not to have been snubbed by the fact that President Putin has not been asked to the commemoration event; meanwhile, the Polish government insists it was not issuing formal invitations. The Auschwitz international committee, which includes a Russian representative, was simply asking each government who would be representing them.

Putin made a speech at Auschwitz 10 years ago on the 60th anniversary, and no doubt he will again proclaim in Moscow on 9 May – Russia’s Victory Day – that the Red Army’s defeat of “the fascist beast” saved Europe from Nazi slavery. {and we think he is right to claim that but this is obviously only a half truth as the Soviets did in effect exchange one slavery for another.}

But those countries, especially Poland and the Baltic states, that experienced the ensuing 40 years of Communist dictatorship glance nervously now east once more.

Russia, obsessed for centuries by a fear of encirclement and surprise attack, has always felt justified in dominating its “near abroad”. It was Stalin’s shock at Hitler’s invasion in 1941, and his consequent determination to create a defensive cordon, that led to the cold war. Putin, fortunately, is a very pale imitation of his hero.

• Antony Beevor’s next book, Ardennes – 1944: Hitler’s Last Gamble, is out in May 2015.


Glenn Greenwald | Compare and Contrast: Obama’s Reaction to the Deaths of King Abdullah and Hugo Chavez

By Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, 24 January 2015

Greenwald writes: “The effusive praise being heaped on the brutal Saudi despot by western media and political figures has been nothing short of nauseating; the UK Government, which arouses itself on a daily basis by issuing self-consciously eloquent lectures to the world about democracy, actually ordered flags flown all day at half-mast to honor this repulsive monarch.”

Hugo Chávez was elected President of Venezuela four times from 1998 through 2012 and was admired and supported by a large majority of that country’s citizens, largely due to his policies that helped the poor. King Abdullah was the dictator and tyrant who ran one of the most repressive regimes on the planet.

The effusive praise being heaped on the brutal Saudi despot by western media and political figures has been nothing short of nauseating; the UK Government, which arouses itself on a daily basis by issuing self-consciously eloquent lectures to the world about democracy, actually ordered flags flown all day at half-mast to honor this repulsive monarch. My Intercept colleague Murtaza Hussain has an excellent article about this whole spectacle, along with a real obituary, here.

I just want to focus on one aspect: a comparison of the statements President Obama issued about the 2013 death of President Chávez and the one he issued today about the Saudi ruler. Here’s the entire Obama statement about Chávez (h/t Sami Khan):

Statement covering the reaction from President Obama regarding the death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz (photo: The Guardian)

Statement covering the reaction from President Obama regarding the death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz (photo: The Guardian)

One obvious difference between the two leaders was that Chávez was elected and Abdullah was not. Another is that Chávez used the nation’s oil resources to attempt to improve the lives of the nation’s most improverished while Abdullah used his to further enrich Saudi oligarchs and western elites. Another is that the severity of Abdullah’s human rights abuses and militarism makes Chávez look in comparison like Gandhi.

But when it comes to western political and media discourse, the only difference that matters is that Chávez was a U.S. adversary while Abdullah was a loyal U.S. ally – which, by itself for purposes of the U.S. and British media, converts the former into an evil villainous monster and the latter into a beloved symbol of peace, reform and progress. As but one of countless examples: last year, British Prime Minister David Cameron – literally the best and most reliable friend to world dictators after Tony Blair – stood in Parliament after being questioned by British MP George Galloway and said: “there is one thing that is certain: wherever there is a brutal Arab dictator in the world, he will have the support of [Galloway]”; last night, the very same David Cameron pronounced himself “deeply saddened” and said the Saudi King would be remembered for his “commitment to peace and for strengthening understanding between faiths.”

That’s why there is nobody outside of American cable news, DC think tanks, and the self-loving Oxbridge clique in London which does anything but scoff with scorn and dark amusement when the US and UK prance around as defenders of freedom and democracy. Only in those circles of tribalism, jingoism and propaganda is such tripe taken at all seriously.

And Some of the Comments:

+37 # wrknight 2015-01-24 10:53
Democracy has never been a factor in determining whether a nation and its ruler are allies or enemies of the U.S.. All that matters is whether or not the ruler of that country allows U.S. Corporations to exploit their resources and/or their people.

Witness the fact that the U.S. has engineered the overthrow of numerous democratically elected presidents, while simultaneously supporting numerous ruthless dictators. The difference? The “allies” opened their markets to U.S. Corporate exploitation while the “enemies” put constraints on U.S. Corporations, nationalized U.S. Corporate assets or closed their markets entirely.

The pattern is consistent throughout U.S. history, is easily verified, and clearly tells who really dictates U.S. foreign policy.

+17 # reiverpacific 2015-01-24 11:22

So when has the US EVER NOT supported or imposed upon other nations trying to establish Democracy, a feudalist, regressive, violent or right-wing death-squad-enf orced regime, before but figuratively starting with Mossadegu’s Iran in 1953, Arbenz’s Guatemala in 1954 and almost annually since, most recently supporting the Oligarchy-drive n removal of Zelaya in Honduras, whilst high-handedly proclaiming it’s superiority, democracy and exceptionalism worldwide (for exceptionalism, substitute “‘Cause we can and if you don’t like it, we’ll do it to you too”, or “selective self-definition”).

I’m glad that Greenwald brought this up but unfortunately, the US owner-media will probably just ignore it all. In this case though, I can’t imagine even the average American somnambulistic infotainment-in formed citizen shedding any tears for this “Sheik of Arabee” leader of the oppressive Wahabist interpreters of much-abused Islam, whilst “Chop-chop square” continues as #1 public entertainment in Riyadh.

Very disappointing from Obama: I’d have expected it from Dimwits/Cheney after these revolting photos of Shrub the dumbest holding hands with the Royal Petroleum-pumpe rs, wielding a scimitar but being a lifelong incurious, clueless pinhead about the world in general.

None of them were fit to wipe Chavez’s boots!
This is proof, if any were needed, that much of International Diplomacy is forked-tongue bullshit and hypocrisy.
Good job Mr. Greenwald!

+2 # cordleycoit 2015-01-24 11:50

One has to be careful licking depots boots, Blood carries a price on the boot licker’s health. Mr. Chavez was not blameless as a leader. Of course the king shed rivers of blood to appease religious bigots men women it didn’t matter. Obama gets to supplicate to the late butcher.

+5 # Guy 2015-01-24 12:21
Nauseating is the most accurate wording for this behavior in the West .I can’t believe what I am seeing .A severe case of blindness has affected the Western view of reality.

+4 # Anonymot 2015-01-24 12:25
Well observed. Thanks.

What everyone has forgotten or never knew was how and why Abdulazis and his family became so rich. They were not poor, ever. Then came who? Richard Nixon! Wha?

After his successful re-election in 11/1973 Nixon owed a great debt to Texas oilmen who had financed his campaign. They wanted an oil pipeline from Alaska. I remember it as in the State Of The Union address, Jan. 1973 that Nixon promised to get the pipeline approved. Using the usual fear tactics he pointed out that oil prices had gone from $3 to $12 per barrel. “We cannot let OPEC have this Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads.” Nixon said.

Well, the Arabs looked at each other, Abdulaziz included. They were smart like desert foxes. We didn’t realize we were a Sword of Damocles, they said – or something like that – and that was the end of cheap oil. Nixon had just given them the arms to destroy the West and they have used them ever since.

You won’t find this documented anywhere, not even in Wikipedia. I just happened to put several disparate things together when I was sitting on a veranda on the Kenya coast and said, “Whoa!!”

It was one of those great “unintended consequences” that our brilliant politicians make, like the little Vietnam War or the little topple Saddam incursion or the Arab Spring regime changes. The Ukraine, Venezuela, Putin, and China are waiting to be played out.

-9 # daruten1 2015-01-24 12:27

Why is it necessary to evaluate every ruler and country through the lenses of our own experiences and values? Mr Greenwald is ethnocentric, judgmental and unable to perceive where other cultures are coming from given their past historical cultures and experiences. Who is he to tell other countries that they do not measure up to the Western world’s values? The world is a complicated place and diplomacy is but one instrument of getting along with people and countries whose views differ from our values and who are difficult. The trick in life is getting along with people whether you agree or disagree with them. Obama has shown intelligence and emotional intelligence in this instance.

+1 # reiverpacific 2015-01-24 12:58
Quoting daruten1:

Why is it necessary to evaluate every ruler and country through the lenses of our own experiences and values? Mr Greenwald is ethnocentric, judgmental and unable to perceive where other cultures are coming from given their past historical cultures and experiences. Who is he to tell other countries that they do not measure up to the Western world’s values? The world is a complicated place and diplomacy is but one instrument of getting along with people and countries whose views differ from our values and who are difficult. The trick in life is getting along with people whether you agree or disagree with them. Obama has shown intelligence and emotional intelligence in this instance.

“Mr Greenwald is ethnocentric, judgmental and unable to perceive where other cultures are coming from given their past historical cultures and experiences.”
Au contraiare, it’s his job as an investigative and world-respected reporter, who has had his own share of Imperialist persecution and fingers pointed at him, to comment on what he perceives as inter-cultural hypocrisy!


Posted on on July 3rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


The New York Times July 3, 2014

An Alternative World Cup – the Conifa Cup in Ostersund, Sweden.


It was a World Cup full of goals, political intrigue and pressure of an expectant home crowd. Amid equal measures of excitement and agony, penalties decided most of the second round games. In the end, an unlikely champion was crowned.

Not to be confused with the World Cup finals now underway in Brazil, this tournament took place last month in the northern Swedish city of Ostersund. As 203 national teams fought a two-and-a-half-year battle across six continents to qualify for Brazil, the Swedish tournament, called the Conifa World Cup, was played by national teams not recognized by FIFA, the sport’s governing body.

The participating teams represent a collection of unrecognized states, ethnic groups, islands and “frozen conflict” zones. Some want to raise awareness of their unique culture, while others hope for greater autonomy and perhaps even a nation of their own. And one of the first steps toward that, they believe, is having a national soccer team.


Kurdish players showed team pride in Ostersund.Credit Manfredi Pantanella & Lavinia Parlamenti

The 12-team tournament included Iraqi Kurdistan, a self-governing region in the north of Iraq; Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both separatist states within Georgia; and Darfur, from Sudan.

Membership in FIFA can be intensely political. For many teams, membership confers legitimacy and a shot at reaching the World Cup finals, a huge stage from which to wave their nation’s flag.

Palestine — recognized as a “nonmember observer state” by the United Nations and a member of FIFA since 1998 — now has a national stadium near Ramallah and has attempted to qualify for four World Cup finals. Other teams, like Kosovo, have been unable to join European soccer’s governing body, UEFA, because of political lobbying from Serbia. When Gibraltar, a British overseas territory on the Iberian Peninsula claimed by Spain, tried to join FIFA, Spain threatened to pull all of its teams — including the powerhouses of Barcelona and Real Madrid — from the European Champions League and international football. Despite the political pressure, Gibraltar became a member of UEFA in 2013 and hopes to join FIFA next.


Players from the Countea de Nissa team celebrating their victory.Credit Manfredi Pantanella & Lavinia Parlamenti

Almost all of the teams in Sweden have little chance of political recognition, and little chance of joining FIFA or any of its six confederations. The Conifa World Cup is the best opportunity for some of them to play international football.

Darfur, playing its first games on a grass field, lost its debut match 20-0, and its second 19-0. In the quarterfinals Abkhazia met South Ossetia in the Georgian frozen conflict zone derby (South Ossetia won on penalties). But it was the county of Nice, from the South of France, and Ellan Vannin, the national team of the Isle of Man, a self-governing British crown dependency, that met in the final.

The match finished 0-0 and, like the 1994 World Cup final between Brazil and Italy, was decided by a penalty shootout. Nice prevailed, but for the players the tournament meant more than merely winning.
“This has been about culture and friendship,” Conor Doyle of Ellan Vannin told Isle of Man News. “We showed our culture to the rest of the world. We’ve done our island proud.”


Posted on on June 10th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


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.


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.

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


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.

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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.

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.”



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.


Posted on on March 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (

 What we ask is whom do represent the black clad military people that took over Crimea?  Are they representing a new force or their old Russian military. We see a way out if the lack of insignia means that there is a new force being born.



Ukraine PR Says UN Charter Brutally Violated, Meeting Format Fight.

By Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press Follow Up


UNITED NATIONS, March 1 — As the UN Security Council on Saturday afternoon held its second emergency meeting in as many days on Ukraine, that country’s Permanent Representative Yuriy Sergeyev stopped and told the press it is now a Russian “aggression” and that the UN Charter has been “brutally” violated.
Video here.


 He said an appeal is being made to the US, France, UK and China, under the rubric of non-proliferation; he said there is still time, before Russian president Vladimir Putin signs the order for military moves in Crimea.


  Then the Security Council “suspended” for ten minutes; Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin emerged and said some members of the Council are trying to change the format of the meeting, that Russia agrees with the format proposed by Luxembourg, which took over today as Council president.


After UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s envoy Robert Serry spun the contents of a closed door Security Council consultation on Ukraine on which there was no agreed outcome, Ban himself did the same on Saturday.



   Could Serry go to Crimea?  Hours before Serry through the spokesperson had said no. But the purpose of the UN TV theater is to get this spin “on camera” – that’s the role Falk’s UNCA is playing.


   Also Ban said he is going to speak with Putin soon. Will his spokesperson take question, this time with notice, on that?


   On February 28, Serry’s impartiality as “UN” envoy on Ukraine was called into question, on camera, in front of the UN Security Council by Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin.


   A “Note to Correspondents” was put out Saturday morning by the UN Spokesperson’s Office in which Serry put his spin on the Security Council consultations at which he was not present, and at which not even a Press Statement was agreed:


Note to correspondents: Statement by Mr. Robert Serry, Senior Advisor to the Secretary-General, at the end of his mission to Ukraine


Kyiv, 1 March 2014


Following the consultations in the United Nations Security Council yesterday, the Secretary-General requested me to go to Crimea as part of my fact-finding mission. I have since been in touch with the authorities of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and have come to the conclusion that a visit to Crimea today is not possible. I will therefore proceed to Geneva, where I will tomorrow brief the Secretary-General on my mission and consult with him on next steps.


In Crimea, I would have conveyed, also on behalf of the Secretary-General, a message for all to calm the situation down and to refrain from any actions that could further escalate an already-tense environment.


It became very clear from yesterday’s Council consultations that the unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine is not to be called into question. This is a time for dialogue and to engage with each other constructively.

Note to correspondents: Statement by Mr. Robert Serry, Senior Advisor to the Secretary-General, at the end of his mission to Ukraine.


March 1, updated — After the Ukraine open meeting then consultations of the UN Security Council took place, Council president for March Sylvie Lucas of Luxembourg came out and read a short statement.

  Inner City Press asked her if this was a mere “elements to the press,” not even an agreed Press Statement. This seems to be the case. She politely answered, but not why China and the ten elected members did not speak in the open meeting.

  Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador Lyall Grant about the Budapest Memorandum — has it already been violated, including by the Western IMF side, in terms of economic coercion? Is it just a superseded document summoned up for pragmatic reasons now?

  Lyall Grant acknowledged that some time has passed. From the UK Mission transcript:

Inner City Press: The Budapest memorandum. There’s been a lot of talk about it. It requires the UK, Russia and France to seek immediate Security Council action if there’s a threat of force, so is this the end of your duties, or do you have a duty to defend Ukraine? And it also seems to commit the UK and others to refrain from economic coercion, so some people have been saying that on both sides, the economic coercion factor has been played. Has this memorandum been complied with since ‘94, or is it just pulled out at this time as a convenient document?

Amb Lyall Grant: Clearly, this document has become very relevant in the last few days. We believe that the first step should be a meeting of the signatories of the Budapest memorandum, as Ukraine government has suggested should take place. Proposals have been made for a meeting of the three signatories as early as Monday, but so far Russia has not agreed to that meeting.


  Lyall Grant also said his prime minister David Cameron spoke with Vladimir Putin and his foreign secretary William Hague will be in Ukraine on Sunday.


  Inner City Press asked Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson of Russia’s critique of envoy Robert Serry “getting played,” and of the leaked (US) audio about former US now UN official Jeffrey Feltman “getting” Ban to send Serry to Ukraine.


   Eliasson said Serry is an international civil servant, but that the UN is not mediating, he is only a go-between for now. Will that change?


  US Samantha Power came out, saying another things that President Obama is suspending participation in the preparation for the G8 in Sochi. She took only two questions; it was not possible to ask her about movement on loan guarantees, or her view of the US’ duties under the Budapest Memorandum. So it goes at the UN.


  When the open meeting happened, after two hours of wrangling about format, not all 15 members of the Council — not even all five Permanent members — spoke. (China didn’t).


  Instead, UN Deputy Secretary General Eliasson led off, saying that Ban Ki-moon would speak with Vladimir Putin. That had already taken place, but even an hour later, no read-out.


  • The Ukrainian note says 12 Mi-24 Russian attack helicopters flew from Anapa to Kacha on Friday (Photo: wikimedia commons)

Ukraine’s EU embassy details ‘Abkhazia scenario’

01.03.14 @ 12:56

  1. By Andrew Rettman

BRUSSELS – Ukraine’s embassy to the EU has detailed Russian military movements in Crimea, saying operations to seize control began one week ago.

The Ukrainian embassy, in a two-page note circulated to EU diplomats on Friday (28 February) – and seen by EUobserver – cited seven “illegal military activities of the Russian Federation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Ukraine.”

Going back to February 21 and 22, it says Russia moved 16 BTR-80 armoured personnel carriers of the 801st Marine Corps brigade from the Russian naval base in Sevastopol, Crimea, which it leases from Ukraine, to the Crimean towns of Kaha, Gvardiiske, and Sevastopol.

It notes that on 23 February three BTR-80s moved from the base to the town of Khersones.

On 26 February, 10 armoured vehicles from the 801st brigade moved “into the depth of the Crimean peninsula towards Simferopol.”

On 28 February, 12 Mi-24 Russian attack helicopters flew from Anapa in Russia to the Kacha airfield in Crimea “despite [the fact] clearance was granted only for 3 helos.”

The same day five Il-76 Russian military transport planes landed at Gvardiiske with no clerance at all, while 400 Russian troops from the Ulyanovsk Airborne Brigade moved to Cape Fiolent, near Sevastopol.

The Ukrainian document says that also on Friday: “Belbek airport (Sevastopol) was blocked by an armed unit of the Russian Fleet (soldiers with no marking but not concealing their affiliation). Simferopol airport occupied by more than 100 soldiers with machine guns wearing camouflage, unmarked but not concealing their affiliation to the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.”

It adds that Captain Oleksandr Tolmachov, a Russian Black Sea Fleet officer, led a group of 30 soldiers who blocked the Sevastopol Marine Security detachment of the State Border Service of Ukraine.

Speaking in Kiev on Friday, Ukraine’s interim president, Oleksandr Turchynov, said: “They are provoking us into an armed conflict. Based on our intelligence, they’re working on scenarios analogous to Abkhazia, in which they provoke conflict, and then they start to annex territory.”

He added: “Ukraine’s military will fulfill its duties, but will not succumb to provocation.”

He also said Russia’s actions violate the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, signed by Russia, the UK, Ukraine, and the US.

Russia in 2008 invaded Georgia saying Georgian forces had fired on its “peacekeeping” troops in Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia. After an eight-day war, Russia retreated from Georgia proper, but entrenched its occupation of South Ossetia and a second breakaway entity, Abkhazia, in what is widely seen as a way of blocking Georgia’s EU and Nato aspirations.

The Budapest document obliges signatories to “respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.” It also says they “will consult in the event a situation arises which raises a question concerning these commitments.”

There is no shortage of consultations.

The Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin on Friday phoned the British and German leaders and EU Council chief Herman Van Rompuy.

Lithuania, which currently holds the UN Security Council (UNSC) presidency, also called a meeting of UNSC ambassadors in New York.

Statements coming from the Budapest signatories echo the terms of the agreement.

A spokesman for British leader David Cameron said he told Putin “that all countries should respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.” US President Barack Obama said on TV “the United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.”

Meanwhile, Sweden, a close US ally, corroborated Ukraine’s accusations. “Obvious that there is Russian military intervention in Ukraine. Likely immediate aim is to set up puppet pro-Russian semi-state in Crimea,” Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt said.

The Polish foreign ministry noted: “Any decisions that will be taken in the coming days, including of military nature, could have irreparable consequences for the international order.”

The UN meeting in New York did little to calm nerves.

Ukraine’s UN ambassador, Yuriy Sergeyev, told press afterward: “We are strong enough to defend ourselves.”

Russia’s UN envoy, Vitaly Churkin, said all Russian military activity in Crimea is “within the framework” of a 1997 Ukraine-Russia treaty governing the use of its Sevastopol base.

Churkin added the EU bears “responsibility” for events because three EU foreign ministers – from France, Germany, and Poland – on 21 February signed a deal between Ukraine’s ousted president, Viktor Yanukovych, and opposition MPs which says he is to stay in power until December.

Yanukovych fled Kiev the next day when Kiev protesters rejected the agreement and threatened to storm his palace.

Churkin accused the EU of fomenting the revolution by criticising Yanukovych for refusing to sign an EU association and free trade treaty and by sending VIPs to Kiev to mingle with demonstrators. “They emphasize sovereignty. But they behave as if Ukraine was a province of the European Union, not even a country, but a province,” he said.

Budapest memorandum

For his part, Andrew Wilson, an analyst at the London-based European Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank, who was in Kiev during the unrest, told EUobserver on Saturday the Budapest accord should not be seen as a Nato-type treaty which obliges signatories to use military force

But he noted that the 1994 memorandum poses Cold War-type questions.

“Are we [the West] going to send a warship through the Bosphorus?” he said, referring to the channel which leads from the Mediterranean Sea to the Black Sea and Crimea.

“These kind of questions were asked in the Cold War: Would America be willing to lose Detroit [in a Russian nuclear strike] to save Berlin? Later it was about Vilnius [when Lithuania joined Nato in 2004], now it’s about Simferopol. Budapest is not Article 5. But if we are being logical, it does offer security guarantees and it is still in force,” he added, referring to the Nato treaty’s Article 5 on mutual defence.

Crimea is a majority ethnic Russian region which became part of Ukraine in 1954.

Its local parliament this week elected a new leader, pro-Russian politician Sergiy Aksyonov, who called a referendum on independence on 30 March.

The ethnic Russian population made up 49.6 percent of Crimea in 1939. It currently makes up some 58 percent, after Stalin deported its Armenian, Bulgarian, Jewish, German, Greek, and Tatar minorities during World War II. But Russians are in a minority in nine Crimean districts.




Posted on on January 4th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (



Op-Ed Columnist at the New York Times.

Brazil Is Abuzz About Snowden

Published: January 3, 2014   –  7 Comments


RIO DE JANEIRO — When I visited China in June, my trip happened to coincide with the discovery that Edward Snowden was hiding out in Hong Kong. By then, Snowden’s revelations about the voracious data-collection operation by the National Security Agency was front-page news all over the world. Snowden hadn’t yet been charged for the leak of tens of thousands of pages of classified N.S.A. documents, but it was clear that it was coming. So it was only natural to ask — as many journalists did — would Hong Kong give Snowden asylum if he requested it?

Now I’m in Brazil, where I’ve spent the last few weeks, and wouldn’t you know it? A question very much in the air here is whether Brazil would grant Snowden asylum once his temporary stay in Russia comes to an end. In recent weeks, Snowden had twice expressed publicly his desire to gain asylum to Brazil, once in an open letter published in a newspaper in São Paulo — in which he said he would cooperate with Brazilian authorities investigating the N.S.A. once he was safely inside the country — and then, somewhat more cautiously, in a television interview.

With the possible exception of Germany, there isn’t another nation as publicly irate over the eavesdropping on its citizens and its government as Brazil. Upon learning that the N.S.A. had spied on her personal communications, Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, canceled a state visit. Then, during a speech to the United Nations, she excoriated the United States, even as President Obama stood in the wings.

Along with Germany, Brazil has rekindled a long-stalled effort to create a new structure for Internet governance, one that would be less dependent on American companies and American networks. Virgílio Fernandes Almeida, a government official who is chairman of the country’s Internet Steering Committee, told me that there is no question that the Snowden revelations helped jump-start the effort.

Indeed, two weeks ago, a $4 billion contract for a fighter jet, in which Boeing was said to be the front-runner, went to a unit of Saab instead. Although Saab was the lowest-cost bidder, “The N.S.A. problem ruined it for the Americans,” a Brazilian government source told Reuters.

“Brazil was one of the most targeted countries,” said Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who is based here and is closest to Snowden. “It was more than even Russia or China.”

What is also true is that Greenwald, who has published dozens of stories in The Guardian based on the documents Snowden supplied, did his best to stoke Brazil’s rage. After every print revelation — O Globo, a large Brazilian daily, was his vehicle of choice — he would appear on a popular show similar to “60 Minutes” to talk up his latest bombshell. “Snowden became almost a household name after that,” said Maurício Santoro, a Rio-based human rights advocate for Amnesty International.

And then Greenwald found the document about the surveillance on Dilma’s phone calls, text messages and emails, and all hell broke loose. “It wasn’t a supertechnical document,” Greenwald told me. “It was written for an idiot. It was like, ‘Great news. We have had great success eavesdropping on Dilma.’ 

Perhaps just as infuriating to the Brazilian elites was the discovery that the N.S.A., along with Britain’s secret spy agency, GCHQ, had apparently succeeded in penetrating the private computer network of Petrobas, a giant state-owned oil company and a source of national pride.

“Why did they have to do this to us?” asked Santoro, posing the question many Brazilians still want answered. “Of course we have our disagreements with the U.S., but we are not enemies. What has also been maddening has been the lack of a clear explanation from the Obama administration,” he added.

Yet for all that, Santoro doesn’t think that Brazil will give Snowden asylum. So far, the government has been coy, saying that because Snowden has not applied for asylum through the proper channels, there is nothing to talk about. The way it was explained to me, though, Brazil prefers to use what it likes to call “soft power” on the world stage — global consensus building, that sort of thing. Helping to create an Internet governance system fits nicely in that model. Giving Snowden asylum does not.

Meanwhile, the American government shows no signs of softening its stance of trying Snowden for espionage if it gets its hands on him. It’s worth remembering that another important whistle-blower, Daniel Ellsberg, was eventually put on trial for leaking the Pentagon Papers. The case was thrown out of court largely because of government misconduct, starting with the break-in of the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist.

At least as it concerns the N.S.A., government misconduct is now official policy. We know that thanks to Snowden.
He needs a place to live. Why not you, Brazil?


Posted on on December 22nd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


Wives of Ambassadors, Women Ambassadors and High Ranking Staff, organized to try to make more understandable issues being debated at the UN. Under the leadership of Mrs. Irmeli Viinanen they tackled the thorny Iranian issue with the help of Trita Parsi of the National Iranian American Council.


The mission of the Women’s International Forum at the UN (WIF)  is to “provide a forum for briefings and discussions on international affairs, in order to promote understanding and mutual appreciation among members of the diplomatic community, the United Nations Secretariat, and the United Nations community at large and to network, promote knowledge, and raise awareness about current international issues – particularly those related to the United Nations, and to uphold the purpose and the principles of the United Nations Charter.”

At present time the Executive Board includes: Irmeli Viinanen, President (Finland), Nelly Gicho-Niyonzima, Vice-President (Burundi), Mounia Loulichki, Sahar Baassiri,  Pamela Jacovides, Malini Nambiar, Muna Rihani, Ingrid Ruzicková, Nareumon Sinhaseni, Peggy Sanford Carlin, Berit Stanton and  Cristina Tortorelli de Errazuriz.

Many of the women who serve as their countries’ permanent representatives, or as high-ranking officials of the UN Secretariat, serve on the WIF Honorary Board.


At present time the Honorary Board includes: H.E. Ms. Maria Cristina Perceval, Argentina; H.E. Mrs. Bénédicte Frankinet, Belgium; H.E. Ms. Mirsada Colakovic,Bosnia and Herzegovina H.E. Ms. Edita Hrdá, Czech Republic; H.E. Ms. Mary Flores, Honduras; H.E. Ms. Gréta Gunnarsdóttir, Iceland; H.E. Ms. Byrganym Aitimova, Kazakhstan; H.E. Ms. Marjon V. Kamara, Liberia; H.E. Ms. Raimonda Murmokait?, Lithuania; H.E. Ms. Sylvie Lucas, Luxembourg; H.E. Ms. Isabelle F. Picco, Monaco; H.E. Ms. Marlene Moses, Nauru; H.E. Ms. Maria Rubiales de Chamorro,  Nicaragua; H.E. Ms. U. Joy Ogwu,  Nigeria; H.E. Ms. Lyutha S. Al-Mughairy, Oman; H.E. Ms. Simona-Mirela Miculescu, Romania; H.E. Ms. Menissa Rambally, Saint Lucia; H.E. Mrs. Marie-Louise Potter Seychelles; H.E. Ms. Sofia Borges, Timor-Leste;  H.E. Ms. Aksoltan T. Atayeva, Turkmenistan; H.E. Dr. Mwaba P. Kasese-Bota, Zambia; H.E. Ms. Paulette A. Bethel,Chef de Cabinet for the President of the 68th General Assembly
  Mrs. Ban Soon-Taek, wife of the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, is the Patron of the WIF.

trita_parsi_150x200         On December 11, 2013 WIF held at the UN ECOSOC Chamber a Briefing with Dr. Trita Parsi, President of the                National Iranian American Council and a generally recognized Senior Iranian analyst.

           The topic was “The Iran nuclear deal – how we got here and what it means”



Born in Iran to a Zoroastrian family, Parsi moved with his family to Sweden at the age of four in order to escape the political repression in Iran. His father was an outspoken academic who was jailed under the reign of the Shah and later under Ayatollah Khomeini‘s Islamic Republic.

He came to the US first in a high-school exchange program to Ohio where he lived in the house of Robert Ney, then of Ohio State Congress and later a US Congressman. This link with Congressman Ney turned out later of major importance to both of them.

Parsi earned a Master’s Degree in International Relations at Uppsala University and a second Master’s Degree in Economics at Stockholm School of Economics.  Parsi moved to the United States and studied foreign policy at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies where he received his Ph.D. in International Relations. In a personal statement as part of his application to a Harvard doctoral program, Parsi mentioned his success at converting Ney into Congress’s most pro-Iranian member. “In 1997,” he wrote, “I worked as policy advisor on MidEastern issues to Congressman Robert Ney of Ohio. My job was to reformulate Ney’s position vis-à-vis Iran. At the time, Ney was a supporter of the Clinton Administration’s isolation policy of Iran. By identifying the long-term strategic necessity of befriending Iran and showing how such a policy should be pursued, I was successful in convincing Ney to alter his position. In 1997, he became one of the first Congressmen to propagate dialogue with Tehran.”

In effect, Trita Parsi emerged naturally as a bridge between Iran, the  US and Sweden and even Israel. Early in his career he worked with the Swedish Permanent Mission to the UN in New York, where he served in the Security Council, handling the affairs of Afghanistan, Iraq, Tajikistan, and Western Sahara, and on the General Assembly’s Third Committee, addressing human rights in Iran, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Iraq.

In Washington he  served as an adjunct professor of International Relations at Johns Hopkins University SAIS, an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute and as a Policy Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars emerging as immensely influential on formulation of US policy in the larger Middle East, and as a link with Iran.

In 2002, Parsi closed down in effect the IIC (Iranians for International Cooperation – Iranian International Council – a trade lobby in Washington trying to fight the sanctions on Iran)  and founded the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), whose stated purpose was “to enable Iranian Americans to condemn the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks” and, later, to provide a “grass-roots group aimed at strengthening their voice.” Through the organization, he supports engagement between the US and Iran in belief that it “would enhance our [U.S.] national security by helping to stabilize the Middle East and bolster the moderates in Iran.” On the group’s formation, he commented, “We realized that our primary thing that separates the Iranian-American community from the Jewish-American community, the Arab-American community, the Armenian-American community is that the Iranian-American community has shunned political participation.” NIAC has received financial support from the Open Society Institute, the Tides Foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy, the Kenbe Foundation, and the Kamyar and Goli Foundation. In effect what Trita Parsi was doing is to create instead a Washington based lobby that works in favor of the Iranian people without supporting the mullahs. This was a tall task in the back-stabbing world of business lobbies in Washington, and clearly put him at the center of controversy – specially as his first mentor – Congressman Robert Ney – got involved in the Jack Abramoff scandals and was fined for supporting the permission to export one airplane to Iran (Bob Ney, Trita Parsi and pro-Tehran activities in Washington).

In 2007, Yale University Press published “Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States.” Parsi’s work is an expansion of his 2006 Ph.D. dissertation written at Johns Hopkins University under the supervision of his Ph.D. adviser Francis Fukuyama.  The book “takes a closer look at the complicated triangular relations between Israel, Iran, and the United States that continue to shape the future of the Middle East.”  The book basically argues that the struggle between Israel and Iran is not ideological but strategic. The book received many positive reviews. In Foreign Affairs, L. Carl Brown called the book a “well-constructed history” and former U.S. ambassador Peter Galbraith praised the book as “a wonderfully informative account.” The book was also praised by political scientist John Mearsheimer and former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski who was on his dissertation committee. In 2008, Treacherous Alliance was awarded the silver medal (runner-up) in the Council on Foreign RelationsArthur Ross Book Award. About that time I first encountered Dr. Trita Parsi at a book presentation sponsored in person by Arthur Ross at the Asia Society in New York and I was tremendously impressed by the fact that it seemed obvious – the man has direct relations with all four  protagonists in the Middle East – Iranians, Americans, Israel and the Saudis – and somehow manages to survive by not letting down any of them, while criticizing their governmental positions. In many ways he sounded like  Stephen Kinzer   who was talking of a RESET in policy that eventually ought to ring in US policies that will eventually be anchored on Turkey and Iran. To me – Trita Parsi was in effect an agent of the future.

In a 2011 interview with the Institute for Global Law and Policy at Harvard University, he asserted that his thesis had “been vindicated” by recent events. “I believe it is increasingly clear that efforts to divide the region between moderates vs radicals, democracies vs non-democracies etc is of little utility and has no real explanatory value. Israel, for instance, who had sought to frame its rivalry with Iran as a struggle between the region’s sole Western democracy against a fanatical Islamic tyranny, favored the status quo in Egypt and opposed the efforts to oust Mubarak.”

He added that “With the decline of the US, Israel’s strategic paralysis and increased isolation in the region, the rise of Turkey, the ‘revolutions’ in Tunisia and Egypt, and Iran’s continued difficulties in translating its strength to regional acceptance, the region is experiencing momentous changes both in its political structure and in its balance of power. An ideology based approach towards understanding these shifts won’t get you far.”


As we already said – Parsi’s career is not all roses. In effect he is also a focal point in the fight between various lobbies in Washington – so in 2007, Arizona-based Iranian-American journalist Hassan Daioleslam began publicly asserting that NIAC was lobbying on behalf of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In response, Parsi sued him for defamation. As a result of the lawsuit, many internal documents were released, including e-mail correspondence between Parsi and Mohammad Javad Zarif, then Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations under President Ahmedinejad, and now under President Rouhani the Foreign Minister of Iran. In a November 2009 article, Washington Times national security correspondent Eli Lake reported on some of the facts disclosed in those documents. After Barack Obama’s election to the presidency, for example, the NIAC, fearing that Obama would put Dennis Ross, an anti-Iran hardliner, in charge of Iran policy, and thus scuttle their efforts to persuade U.S. officials to lift sanctions, deliberately set out to create a “media controversy” about Ross and thereby prevent his appointment.


Although Ross got the job, Lake noted that Parsi, whose “history suggests a continuing commitment to changing U.S. policy on Iran,” had “clearly become more influential in Washington since the change of administrations.” Now, wrote Lake, “a lawsuit has brought to light numerous documents that raise questions about whether the organization is using that influence to lobby for policies favorable to Iran in violation of federal law.” Those documents, according to Lake, “offer evidence that the group has operated as an undeclared lobby and may be guilty of violating tax laws, the Foreign Agents Registration Act and lobbying disclosure laws.” Although Parsi denied that NIAC was a lobby, he was previously connected with IIC – a trade lobby, which had openly advocated for the removal of the U.S. sanctions regime against Iran.


A former federal law-enforcement official, who asked to review documents showing that Parsi had helped arrange meetings between members of Congress and Zarif, said that anyone engaging in such activity should be registered as a foreign agent; another such official said that “this may be lobbying.” Lake also quoted Mohsen Makhmalbaf, an Iranian filmmaker and unofficial spokesman for Iran’s opposition Green Movement, as saying, “I think Trita Parsi does not belong to the Green Movement. I feel his lobbying has secretly been more for the Islamic Republic.”


In September 2012, after a more than four-year legal battle, a U.S. federal judge threw out the libel suit against Daioleslam on the grounds that “NIAC and Parsi had failed to show evidence of actual malice, either that Daioeslam acted with knowledge the allegations he made were false or with reckless disregard about their accuracy.” Parsi and the NIAC were ordered to pay part of Daioleslam’s legal expenses, and Daioleslam stated that “I have always believed that NIAC and Trita Parsi lobby for the Iranian regime. I maintained and reiterated this belief during the lawsuit, my deposition and in our last motions including the motion for summary judgment.”In January 2013, Daioleslam published a series of e-mails between Parsi and Zarif which suggested that the former was passing information to the latter.

Something we clearly find quite in accordance with what we observed about Trita Parsi and tried to convey in this long introduction.


Further, quite excited when I found out about the invitation the Women’s International Forum at the UN (WIF) had extended to Trita Parsi to give a briefing at the UN, I did in effect congratulate Mrs. Irmeli Viinanen for the group’s choice,  I went to the event as a guest of my wife, expecting to get perhaps quotable new insights to the Iran nuclear issue in particular, and to the Obama Administration position on the larger Middle East in general.

So now to what was actually said in this very vivid event at the UN which extended for about one and a half hours – half of it the Parsi presentation, and half for a very active Q&A period. I was amazed that only one UN accredited journalist – a reporter from Lebanon linked to the Hezbollah – was present and active at this event, which was announced in the UN Journal, and open to all who have access to the UN.

What was said?

Trita Parsi started by describing the Washington of 2012 as a place where the US Department of Defense expected in early 2012 a military confrontation with Iran – and now – just one and a half years later the atmosphere is very different. What happened in between?

(a) The elections in Iran. We doubted there will be a high participation – yet they came and voted for the most laid back name that was put before them. With him came to Government people that were marginalized in the last 8 years during the Ahmdinejad Administration.

(b) Trita Parsi pointed out that even in the past the Iranians had participated in the taming of  Afghanistan  as per the Bonn agreement signed December 10, 2011. (The conference, which was attended by 85 states, 15 international organizations and the United Nations, focused on three main issues involving the conclusion of the Afghan War and the transition of security responsibility to the Afghan Government, scheduled to occur in 2014. These were: civil aspects of the transition process, the role of international community in Afghanistan after the handover, and long-term political stabilization of the country. The conference concluded by issuing a statement affirming continued international support for Afghanistan for the next decade. Progress was not hindered by Iran, but was hindered by Pakistan‘s boycott of the conference following the 2011 NATO attack in Pakistan.)

(c) The Syria event showed the overwhelming opposition by Americans for a new involvement in the Middle East. There are credible threats on Members of Congress one way or the other and there is a realization that if this is not solved by diplomacy there will be costs to the US in any case.

(d) Paradoxically Iran looks now like the lowest hanging fruit in the Middle East. It has promise when compared with what may happen in a few years from now. The US Presidential legacy goal becomes attainable if both sides compromise – this because the sanctions on Iran did what they were supposed to do and impacted trade, currency etc. but did little on the nuclear issue. Iran increased its number of centrifuges from 164 to 19,000 and has by now over 1,800 kg. of enriched Uranium – slightly bellow 200 kg of 20% enriched Uranium. Parsi says that both sides – the US and Iran – pursued pipe-dreams objectives. Iran will never agree to have a zero program, and the Iranian dream was that the International community will come to accept their position. Parsi thinks that both sides came now to the realization that there will be no escalation risk while politicians talk of compromise and will quietly agree to something. Something like the acknowledgement that there will be an enrichment program on Iranian soil, and a very intrusive IAEA supervision and inspection mechanism. Trita Parsi says that this could have happened already 8 years ago under more favorable conditions to the US.

(d) Nevertheless, Parsi says that if not for a series of surprises, the whole thing could have gone in a different direction with a terrible outcome.
The fact that these surprises include the collapse of Syria, the various upheavals in Arab lands, the situation of Israel having become the only real superpower now in the Middle East created a specific case and it can not be a blue print for other situations when there is an attempt to develop nuclear weapons.

(e) Still, he is not over-confident right now because of the dysfunctional state of Washington today  and the fact that there are opponents to the Iranian Administration that wait to see the Rouhani started process fail.

(f) In Iran it is much more then about enrichment. It is rather about the determination who will be the face of Iran for many years to come.
Parsi says that it is for Rouhani to show that moderation pays – and for Washington to distance itself as well from what went on 8 years ago.
If successful – this could be constructive for the region as a whole, concluded Trita Parsi.

With this Mrs. Viinanen took over and asked the first question: “What has surprised you most at the Geneva talks?”
A.  Last day it was 23 hours non-stop.  The Surprise – Obama was ready to take the cost of taking on Washington and Congress.
The President spends now resources engaging with Congress. This is the first time he does so.

Trita Parsi then continued by talking about Iran. That Iran has been excluded from most political aspects of the region by its stands. Moderating the policies that come out from Iran will result in stopping the spoiler policy. They will have then moderating positions even on the issue of Israel.

It is nevertheless that the posture is changing and there will be repercussions on the Arab States – on the understanding of what it means to them. Had it not been for 2004 – 2006 – what is the impact of these proxy fights with Israel? Obama steps could put an end to wars – but at the time of the Bush Administration it was different – and Parsi talked of Dr. Efraim Sneh from Israel (a physician, military man, and politician who was also a minister in the government) who told him in 2006 that the Lebanon war is a prelude to an Iran War. The Pentagon was wrapped in cynicism already in 2004.


Who could be the spoilers? Israel? the Saudis?
A.  I do not share the opinion that Israel and the Saudis are losers. I cannot agree that the long term interest is to continue confrontation.
The spoiler could rather be US Congress if they pass sanctions against Iran. This is the primary element that worries the White House.
In Iran it is just 20 out of 290 deputies of Parliament that ask for calling Rouhani for questioning. In US Congress it is a majority that is against Obama.

Trita also pointed out that in the US, it was under a bill sponsored in Congress by Mr. Dick Cheney that asked to supply the Shah with 93% enriched Uranium – so in effect the Iranians were only asking to continue that US policy.

The parting words of Mr. Parsi were that now there is a possibility to get to a position to stop this confrontation.


The WIF women intend to have Ms. Amina J. Mohammed as their January speaker.
She will be dealing with RIO+20 and we expect to be there as well.

Upcoming Event


Ms. Amina J. Mohammed
“The Post-2015 development agenda – enabling a life of dignity for all”


By Ms. Amina J. Mohammed
Special Advisor of the Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning

Date: Monday, January 20th 2014
Time: 1.15 pm – 2.30 pm






    • Oct 01, 2007
      384 p., 6 1/8 x 9 1/4ISBN: 9780300120578





Posted on on December 19th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


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.




Posted on on September 10th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

By Degrees
A Climate Alarm, Too Muted for Some.

This month, the world will get a new report from a United Nations panel about the science of climate change, and behind the scenes, two big fights are brewing.

Scientists will soon meet in Stockholm to put the finishing touches on the document, and behind the scenes, two big fights are brewing.

Articles in this series focus on the central arguments in the climate debate and examine the evidence for global warming and its consequences.

In one case, we have a lot of mainstream science that says if human society keeps burning fossil fuels with abandon, considerable land ice could melt and the ocean could rise as much as three feet by the year 2100. We have some outlier science that says the problem could be quite a bit worse than that, with a maximum rise exceeding five feet.

The drafters of the report went with the lower numbers, choosing to treat the outlier science as not very credible.

In the second case, we have mainstream science that says if the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere doubles, which is well on its way to happening, the long-term rise in the temperature of the earth will be at least 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, but more likely above 5 degrees. We have outlier science that says the rise could come in well below 3 degrees.

In this case, the drafters of the report lowered the bottom end in a range of temperatures for how much the earth could warm, treating the outlier science as credible.

Climate change skeptics often disparage these periodic reports from the United Nations, claiming that the panel writing them routinely stretches the boundaries of scientific evidence to make the problem look as dire as possible. So it is interesting to see that in these two important cases, the panel seems to be bending over backward to be scientifically conservative.

Is it right to throw out bleeding-edge science in the one case while keeping it in the other? That is hard to judge for anybody who is not a working climate scientist. After all, we pay them for their expertise, just as we pay doctors to advise us if we are diagnosed with cancer. And we are talking about two distinct issues here, each with its own specialized body of research.

The group making these decisions is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a worldwide committee of several hundred scientists knowledgeable in the complex field of climatology. It won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, along with Al Gore, for helping to alert the public to the risks that are being run with the unchecked combustion of fossil fuels.

The group’s decisions will not be final until the official report is released on Sept. 27. We know about them only because a secret draft was leaked ahead of the final editing session coming up in Stockholm. Scientists from a few countries have raised objections to the preliminary decisions on sea level and temperature, and they could well change in the final report.

Perhaps they should; there are climate scientists not serving on the committee this year who think so. Their fear is that the intergovernmental panel might be pulling punches.

It turns out that the Nobel Prize, welcome as it might have been back in 2007, served the same function it has for many other scientists who have won it over the years: it painted a fat target on the committee’s back. The group has been subjected to attack in recent years by climate skeptics. The intimidation tactics have included abusive language on blogs, comparisons to the Unabomber, e-mail hacking and even occasional death threats.

Who could blame the panel if it wound up erring on the side of scientific conservatism? Yet most citizens surely want something else from the group: an unvarnished analysis of the risks they face.

To be clear, even if the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ends up sticking with the lowball numbers in these two instances, they are worrisome enough. As best scientists can tell, the question with sea level is not whether it is going to get to three feet and then five feet of increase, but merely whether it will happen in this century or the next.

Likewise, with temperature, the panel is saying only that the lowball numbers are possible, not that they are likely. In fact, the metric used in the scientific literature, the temperature effect of doubled carbon dioxide, is merely a convenient way of comparing studies. Many people make the mistake of thinking that is how much of a global temperature increase will actually occur.

At the pace we are going, there is no reason to think that we will stop burning fossil fuels when carbon dioxide doubles. We could be on our way to tripling or quadrupling the amount of that heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere. In that case, experts believe, even an earth that turns out to be somewhat insensitive to carbon dioxide will undergo drastic changes.

Obviously, the high estimates are even scarier. So it would be nice to hear an explanation from the drafters of this coming report as to why they made decisions that effectively play up the low-end possibilities. But with the report still officially under wraps, they are not speaking publicly. We are thus left wondering whether it is a matter of pure professional judgment — or whether they have been cowed by the attacks of recent years.

Assuming these decisions withstand final review, it will be fascinating to hear the detailed explanations in Stockholm.


Posted on on June 19th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

June 7, 2013 I was on my way to the Vienna International Club to listen to the Austrian Ambassador to Cyprus on matters of the EU.
At the Michaeler Platz in front of the Presidential Hofburg I saw a large Scania Bus and on it the words “CLEAN AIR IS A HUMAN RIGHT.”

It was a muggy day and I was going to listen to a muggy topic – so – to improve my spirits I decided to stop at the Scania bus on the way back.

This was a worldwide road show organized by a Swedish Air-Filters manufacturer – the company is at Trosa, 60 Km SW of Stockholm – on the coast line, is 50 years old, and has 28 production sites globally. The CAMFIL Company produces only air-Filters.

CAMFIL is opening now new offices in Austria at the Hermann-Mark-Gasse 7, 1100 Vienna. and this is the reason of the strong PR campaign.

Inside the bus I enjoyed a video presentation that elucidated the afflictions from air-pollution. Today it is not just pollution from transportation – SO2 from burning coal. We have also the indoor pollution in part caused by particulates that result from cooking. Once we used to open widows to get in clean air – now we close the windows and must use filters to help us clean the air indoors.

The asthma numbers have skyrocketed. Further – the development of childrens lungs is harmed, heart and circulation diseases cause serious decrease in productivity. In some cities people walk around with gas masks.  They get tired while sitting at the computer? School kids have low attention in classes. The dependence on oil has done us in – quality of life has decreased as a result. Buildings got sick as well. The emissions led us to Climate Change and glaciers melt making things worse.

What can each one of us do? We can thrive to get better information and tell the politicians what we want them to do for us.

This by improving air quality with filters while obviously also change infrastructure and systems so we get away from the source of the pollution.
In the mean-time we do good by filtering out the bad – nothing wrong with this approach as long as we do not forget the larger goal which is the removal of the source of the pollution and not just the pollution itself.

We wish the best to this CAMFIL INITIATIVE.



Posted on on April 7th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


Who lives in Tallinn, travels free with public transport.

based on article by André Anwar of Der Standard of Vienna, 5 April 2013.
  • Passanten laufen in der estnischen Hauptstadt an einer Bahn vorbei. Seit Anfang des Jahres sind dort Fahrten mit Bus oder Straßenbahn gratis.  photo: apa / dpa / peer grimm

    Passersby walk past in the Estonian capital of a web. Since the beginning of the year there are free tours by bus or tram.

Since the inhabitants of the Estonian capital can drive for free on public transport, the traffic in the center of Tallinn is already decreased by 15 percent. Now also other cities consider to introduce free public transport.

Tallinn (from Stockholm) – Tickets are for sale on the buses and trams of Tallinn- but not for the citizen-residents of the Baltic metropolis. Since this year its 420,000 inhabitants, the capital of Estonia, the first capital in the world, they can be completely free and unlimited ride on public transport . This measure is intended to combat ever increasing number of traffic jams in addition to the air pollution.

15 percent less traffic

The city government now sees first successes. “The traffic in the city has declined by 15 percent,” said Allan Allaküla, traffic expert and head of the EU office of Tallinn, the standard. 21 percent of people say in surveys that they now use public transport more often. Last year, about 100,000 people a day used the public transport.

Mayor Edgar Savissar hopes that the number will increase significantly over the course of months yet. The new concept was flanked the year by numerous bus lanes on existing lanes in the city center. “Tallinn is innovative. Ours is the first capital, in which such a concept will be implemented on such a scale,” said Savisaar. The measure also increases the mobility significantly poorer families.

Controversial initiative

The initiative of the left-liberal city chief is highly controversial. Opponents – obviously from the right – criticize that with Tallinn’s bruised budget much more pressing social problems should be solved.

The transport had previously been heavily subsidized in Tallinn. A monthly ticket cost 18,50 €. Ticket proceeds from the end of 2012 show at least 33 percent of the cost of operating Öffi were covered. The loss is estimated by the opposition at 20 million euros. “The streets are full of potholes and there is no money for kindergartens,” criticizes Valdo Randpere of the bourgeois opposition.

Price increase for tourists

Tallin Mayor Savisaar disagrees saying that now more people are living in Tallinn, which ultimately increase tax revenues. In 2013, there were many people who take the public transport  and stay in Tallinn and its surroundings, yet continued to be registered for tax purpose in other municipalities. They now log on to Tallinn to enjoy the free electronic tickets – for only he who is registered in Tallinn, travels free.
For tourists and other visitors, the prices were doubled from 80 cents to 1.60 euros.

If the model works Tallinn in the longer term, it could set a precedent in the region as well. Namely the other two Baltic capitals Riga and Vilnius, as well as the Finnish Helsinki, consider the introduction of public transport for free as well.
(André Anwar, THE STANDARD, 6./7.4.2013)

We add to this that in a country like the United States this would not work – simply because it requires an identity card – and the US is reluctant at allowing the issuance of personal IDs. Progress in important issues – like the right to free transportation from a locality – to the people who are registered local tax payers – legal residents of the place – is just as important as the right to clean air and water – call it in UN fashion – an inalienable right.

So far as Austria goes – there will be a trip this month to Tallinn as part of the learning tour of Austrian local government – organized by the Think Tank Academy of the Austrian People’s Party. I will be on that tour and promise to make sure that the content of this article – originally brought to my attention by the left-of Center main Austrian newspaper – will not be lost to the members of the Austrian Right of center party. Mind you – both parties are part of long term government coalitions and starting to jostle in light of the September 2013 elections that could cause a relative change in strength that could lead to a change in the actual occupancy of the Chancellor’s office. We think that ideas like the one in this article should be on the table.


Posted on on December 1st, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Six EU leaders to skip Nobel gala

30.11.12 @ 09:51

By Andrew Rettman on

BRUSSELS – Six EU leaders, including the UK, are to skip the Nobel gala next month, as criticism of the award multiplies.

  • A Nobel – the EU award continues to stir debate (Photo: EUobserver)

Nobel Institute director Geir Lundestad told EUobserver on Friday (30 November) that 18 EU leaders will come to watch the Union’s top three officials – Herman Van Rompuy, Jose Manuel Barroso and Martin Schulz – collect the peace prize in Oslo on 10 December.

He declined to list them. But he indicated that they include the “big” countries – France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain.

He said six others – including the Czech republic, Sweden and the UK – have confirmed they are not going, while the rest are still making up their mind.

The British and Czech decisions come from two eurosceptic VIPs – David Cameron and Vaclav Klaus – and are likely to fuel talk on whether Cameron thinks the UK is on its way out of the bloc.

Sweden’s Frederik Reinfeldt cannot go because he is busy in a parallel Nobel event in Stockholm the same day.

Lundestad declined to speculate on whether Cameron and Klaus’ decision amounts to a boycott. “It’s up to them to explain why they are not coming,” he said.

But he did criticise four cabinet ministers from Norway’s eurosceptic Centre Party for also deciding to stay away.

“They put the emphasis on Norway and whether Norway should be a member of the EU or not. The committee dos not address that question. It recognises the EU’s contribution to a more peaceful Europe through six decades. It has nothing to do with Norway,” he noted.

The Nobel decision back in October prompted debate on whether the EU deserves the prize.

Some of the arguments were repeated this week.

For his part, the Austrian leader of the centre-left S&D group in the EU parliament, Hannes Swoboda, said in a debate in Brussels: “The EU was a vision for peace, after WWII. And the EU brought peace.”

But a joint letter by the World Council of Churches and the Conference of European Churches said: “The economic and humanitarian tragedy today in Greece challenges the EU as a peace builder for the next generation.”

Meanwhile, the recent Gaza crisis – which claimed 168 Palestinian lives and five Israeli ones – prompted a fresh rebuke.

A joint letter by 52 former peace prize laureates, artists, academics and diplomats on Wednesday said the EU should be disqualified for its ties to Israel.

“The role of the European Union must not go unnoticed, in particular its hefty subsidies to Israel’s military complex through its research programmes,” they wrote.

Former Nobel laureates Desmond Tutu, Mairead Maguire and Adolfo Perez Esquivel also wrote a letter attacking the EU as a party in conflicts around the world.

“The EU is clearly not ‘the champion of peace’ that Alfred Nobel had in mind when he wrote his will … The Norwegian Nobel committee has redefined and remodelled the prize in a manner that is not consistent with the law,” they said.

They called for the committee to withhold the prize money of €930,000, even though the EU has promised to give it to charities for child victims of war.

For his part, Lundestad said the Tutu letter was organised by Fredrik Heffermehl, a Norwegian jurist who has “protested for many, many years against every decision of the Nobel committee.”

He added: “The prize money has never been withheld.”


  1. Barroso and Van Rompuy win battle for Nobel limelight
  2. Pride, confusion and sour grapes after EU wins Nobel
  3. EU ambassador to attend Nobel gala despite Chinese ‘bullying’


Posted on on October 20th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Israeli navy boarded a ship attempting to break the sea blockade of Gaza on Saturday, and planned to take the passengers into custody.

Those aboard the ship were hoping to call attention to the blockade of the Palestinian territory, which has been under an Israeli blockade since 2007.

Vessels attempting to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza have sparked controversy — and violence — in the past.

In 2010, an Israeli raid on one flotilla ship resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish activists.


Even while the Prime Minister is considering bringing to his cabinet’s approval the report of Judge Edmond Levy, which asserts that the Palestinian territories are ‘not occupied’, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and his ally and rival Ehud Barak, have  ordered the Naval Commandos on a s resort to force, demonstrating that in effect  there is an occupation, and that the State of Israel is extending this occupation into international waters in the Mediterranean.Among the passengers on the Swedish ship “Estelle”, which is now being dragged to the port of Ashdod in Israel, are three Israeli peace activists – Elik Elhanan Reut Mor and Yonathan Shapira. They arrived at the boat a few days ago, going by speedboat from Greece, and dodging the Greek Coast Guard. Along with them came on board the “Estelle” five Members of Parliament, from Sweden, Norway, Spain and Greece.

Estelle’s passengers got yesterday a message from the Government of Israel, passed by the Finnish Foreign Ministry, in which they were warned that if they continue on their way they would be taken into custody in Israel and that they might be prosecuted for “illegal entry into Israel.” They asked the Finns to relay back their answer – that they have no intention of or interest in trying to enter Israel, and that their sole purpose is to reach the Gaza Strip which is not part of Israel and from whose inhabitants they got an explicit invitation.

Yonathan Shapira wrote that his decision to participate in an attempt to break the siege and bring humanitarian aid to Gaza, is a direct continuation to his taking part, back in 2003, in the “Refuser Pilot Letter”. Previous to the publication of this letter, Shapira had served in the Israeli Air Force as a helicopter pilot. Shapiro has been detained in the past when he sailed on “The Jewish Peace Ship” which was stopped off the Gaza shore in 2010.

The question is now how these events will impact the US electioneering debate.

from Adam Keller via
as posted on October 18th:

Swedish Ship to Gaza – Former Israeli Air Force combat pilot evades coast guards in Greece to get on Gaza-bound boat.

Former Israeli Air Force combat pilot boards Gaza-bound boat

Came by motor boat, evading Greek coastguard, greeted with cheers

“Estelle” due at Gaza shore Saturday or Sunday

Activists on board:”Determined to reach Gaza, consent to UN inspection”

Israeli peace activist Yonatan Shapira, who had been a combat pilot in the Israeli Air Force and refused to take part in the bombing of Palestinian cities, has arrived on board the Swedish boat “Estelle” which is making her way towards the coast of Gaza.

When the Estelle passed near the shores of Greece, Shapira and other activists made their way in a motor boat, evading vessels of the Greek Coast Guard which sought to bar their way. “Along with the Greek Coast Guard  we saw a ship which seemed very much like an Israeli Navy vessel, though it did not fly a flag,” said Shapira.

He was received with cheers by activists already on board. Shapira had taken part in a similar sailing last year, being taken off by Israeli Navy Commandos near the Gaza shore and spending time in police detention, but not charged with any criminal offence.

Meanwhile, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor has sent a letter calling on the United Nations to stop the Estelle from reaching her destination. To this activists on board respond: “If this means that Israel has decided to cede control over Palestinian territorial waters to the UN, this would actually be a step forward.

The UN and many other representatives of the International Community have for years characterized the siege of the Gaza strip as inhuman and incompatible with International Law.

“Ship to Gaza Sweden” assumes that that UN will not take over the implementation of this policy, by itself preventing a peaceful vessel from delivering humanitarian supplies.

“Ship to Gaza and the Freedom Flotilla have never opposed lawful inspections of cargo and vessel by representatives of the UN, as well as  by national authorities in the ports and waters we have passed through. We welcome further inspections of this kind by the UN, once we have anchored at Gaza City. What we refuse to accept is something which also the UN and the majority of The International Community oppose: The illegal siege of the Gaza Strip, with its devastating humanitarian results.”

The Estelle has now set course to Gaza and, weather permitting, is due to get there on Saturday.

Adam Keller, Spokesperson of Gush Shalom, who is in ongoing contact with the Estelle activists, says that Israel’s Prime Minister and Defense Minister still have some forty-eight hours’ grace to make a wise and courageous decision, and let the Estelle dock at the Port of Gaza – while implementing a thorough UN inspection of her cargo, to which the activists  specifically consent.

Ship to Gaza-Sverige -


Posted on on August 23rd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

In this release…

Source: Margaret Scott

CAFTA-DR Governments in Contrast to Small-Scale Owners Parcel Engines of Development


After 8 years of free trade agreement between Central America and the United States, CAFTA-DR has brought increased dependency on international markets for the region. Whereas this development decision was potentially positive for the countries’ economy, it has hindered food security in the region, representing a huge risk to peasant’s lives.

This article was prepared by Mar Guinot Aguado, Research Associate at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs.

To read full article, click here.

parts of it say:

Historically dependent on their neighbor to the North as the engine for development, the Central American countries agreed to fully open their markets to the United States in the late 2000s. The Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), initiated in 2002 between El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and the United States, strove to liberalize Central American markets in an effort to increase investments and create economic opportunities throughout the region. The neoliberal policy was aimed at eliminating trade barriers and tariffs on guaranteed agricultural and manufactured goods, investments, and services, which traditionally have led to misery for vulnerable peasants in the agreement’s less developed countries. Central America is the third largest U.S. export market in existence, and up to now the neoliberal ideals imposed by the agreement have mainly benefited large corporations that have migrated to the region. The decision of these governments to establish a free market has hampered the Central American agricultural sector and has decreased food security. This process intensifies the area’s dependency on volatile international markets in a region already threatened by structural malnutrition.

Free-trade advocates had argued that CAFTA-DR would decrease poverty in rural areas and accelerate the development of Central America, substantially benefiting consumers by decreasing prices of consumer products and improving their purchasing power. But years after its implementation, CAFTA-DR has re-structured the countries’ economies by flooding their markets with subsidized grains coming from the Unites States. In fact, between 1995 and 2011, the U.S. government spent $277.3 billion USD in agricultural subsidies, exporting many of these products to Central America.[6] Since the free-trade agreement, Central American countries and the Dominican Republic have been transformed into net food importers, with their governments unable to dedicate as much investment to the agricultural sector. As a result of the international economic integration with trade liberalization, the region has dramatically increased its dependency on imports supplemented by diminishing amounts of aid, and thus has been exposed to the volatility of commodity prices. Yet, low food prices in Central America have not effectively mitigated hunger.

According to the 2008 State of the Region Report, “An increase of 15 percent in the price of food could mean 2.5 million more people in extreme poverty, particularly in Guatemala and Honduras.” The report shows “a model of rising imports (wheat, rice and corn went up to about 30 percent in available food between 1990-2003) with tripled prices for wheat and doubled prices for corn and rice (2008-2009),” which not only “leads to profits for the companies that import the goods, but growing malnutrition, especially among the region’s rural and indigenous poor.”[7] For example, El Salvador imports 79 percent of its rice and 43 percent of its corn. Similarly, Costa Rica imports 77 percent of its beans while Guatemala imports 100 percent of its wheat and 70 percent of its rice.[8] Food prices have risen internationally; wheat prices have grown 152 percent and maize prices have grown 122 percent between 2006 and 2008.[9] This price inflation, therefore, has negatively affected poor people in the region, who suffer from a huge dependency on agricultural imports promulgated by CAFTA-DR.

Instead of growing yields destined for local consumption, the trade agreement has led to a decrease in the diversification of production and a concentration on exportable crops in Central America. From the 1990s to 2005, local food production—such as rice, beans, and corn—shrank by 50 percent.[10] Prior to the agreement, 75 percent of Central American exports had free access to the U.S. market through bilateral agreements. This slashed CAFTA-DR’s developmental benefits for Central America.[11] Moreover, the huge size differences between the United States’ and the other countries’ markets seriously hindered Central America in seeking an equal negotiation.

Developed countries are promoting the cultivation of biofuel crops, such as palm oil in Guatemala, as a sustainable development project strategy. Yet, this expansion deepens food insecurity in this afflicted region by weakening rural sustainability.

According to USA Rice Federation Chairman Lee Adams, echoing the upbeat attitude of other unalloyed boosters, “support for CAFTA-DR means more jobs for rural America, and greater stability for U.S. agriculture.”[18] Their argument is that CAFTA-DR has positively impacted agriculture in the U.S., increasing its exports to the region by 84 percent from 2005 to 2011, which represented $4.2 billion USD in 2010.[19] For the United States, removing agricultural barriers to this market has thus created a beneficial solution to its overproduction of farming goods. In that sense, the trade agreement is destroying any possibility of balanced regional integration within a Central American common market. Yet, the Central American governments continue to push toward a developmental model through free trade agreements, signing the new Association Agreement with the European Union in June 2012.[20] Similar to CAFTA-DR, this economic integration allows at least some kind of cooperation within Central America. While other trade alternatives exist such as ALBA, based on a more cooperative perspective, Central American governments chose the CAFTA-DR approach for their countries, which appears to only support narrow development.

The neoliberal policies implemented in the region through the CAFTA-DR agreement have negatively impacted these less developed countries. Subsidized production from the U.S. and superficially sustainable biofuel projects from developed countries have repeatedly devastated rural economies


Ecuador’s Correa Sounds The Bugle

Senior Research Fellow Sean Burges examines the political ramifications of Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa’s decision to grant Wikileaks founder Julian Assange asylum. In this piece, Burges examines how Correa is expanding upon his tradition of a reformist populist agenda that confronts the established political orders of more Westernized countries. As the media focus on Assange, Correa is using the distraction to further implement his domestic agenda while using the splash tiny Ecuador has caused to solidify his leftist credentials.

This article was prepared by Sean Burges, Senior Research Fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs.

To read full article, that explains the Correa Ecuador stand vis-a-vis the UK and the US please click here.

Some excerpts are:

The situation with respect to the US is not much different from the way Correa views the UK which has its entanglement with Latin America because of the Malvinas Islands. Correa can bank on Latin support versus the UK – this includes the strong Brazil. Relations with Washington remain stable despite sustained provocations. In 2009 Correa delivered a major blow to US drug interdiction policy by refusing to renew the Pentagon’s lease on the Manta airbase in southern Ecuador. This was followed last year with the expulsion of the US ambassador, ironically because of the material released in the WikiLeaks Cablegate.

These provocations and a habitually anti-imperialist rhetoric from Correa had little impact on trade with the US. From 2005 to last year, exports to the US grew by 20.5 per cent. More importantly for Correa’s strategic thinking, the US share of Ecuador’s exports fell from 49.7 per cent to 34.6 per cent, and this trade was concentrated in the fish, fruit and oil that have a ready Chinese market.

The foreign policy and economic cost of provoking Britain and US is thus remarkably low for Correa, allowing him to use Assange to further burnish his anti-imperialist credentials among his domestic political supporters. For Correa, maintaining credibility as a forceful voice against imperialism and a staunch rhetorical critic of the US is a domestic political necessity. His entire agenda is directed towards transforming the political and social structure of Ecuador, which automatically threatens the interests of the established political and economic elite.

Given that the three presidents elected before Correa were belted from office by massive indigenous popular protests or congressional conspiracy, it is hard to argue that there was not a need for constitutional reform in Ecuador. At issue were the twin problems of the near impossibility of electing a congress that would co-operate with the president and the systemic exclusion of the country’s indigenous peoples (25 per cent of the population) and the mixed-heritage mestizos (65 per cent) from real political participation.

Correa wasted little time in pursuing reform after his 2006 election. To facilitate inclusion and break gridlock, Correa called a constitutional convention in 2007, which duly drafted a new magna carta for Ecuador. In 2008, the document was put to a national referendum and approved by 64 per cent of the population as the country’s 20thconstitution. The established political and economic elite is not happy and is doing all it can to undermine Correa. Although poverty rates in Ecuador have dropped from 37.6 per cent to 28.6 per cent over the past five years, the political reality is that it is very easy to spin a quarter of the population remaining impoverished as a cataclysmic failure of governmental policy.


Posted on on July 25th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

please see also our previous posting:

Posted on on February 18th, 2012


Cut air pollution, buy time to slow climate change: US.

Cutting soot and other air pollutants could help “buy time” in the fight against climate change, a senior U.S. official said on Tuesday as seven nations joined a Washington-led plan.

Air pollution, from sources ranging from wood-fired cooking stoves in Africa to cars in Europe, may be responsible for up to six million deaths a year worldwide and is also contributing to global warming, the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) said.

Seven countries — Britain, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy and Jordan — formally joined the U.S.-led Climate and Clean Air Initiative, bringing the total of members to about 20 since the plan was launched in February.

“If we are able to do this we could really buy time in the context of the global problem to combat climate change,” Jonathan Pershing, U.S. deputy special envoy for climate change, told a telephone news briefing from Paris.

Pershing said that time was “desperately” needed to slow global warming. Unlike other developed nations, the United States has not passed laws to cut greenhouse gas emissions despite proposed cuts by President Barack Obama.

Pershing said that Washington was in talks trying to attract more nations to the air pollution plan, including China and India which are the number one and three emitters of greenhouse gases respectively, with the United States in second.

The U.S.-led plan in Paris focuses on limiting soot, heat-trapping methane, ground level ozone and HFC gases. Soot, for instance, can speed the melt of Arctic ice when it lands as a dark dusting that soaks up more heat and thaws ice.

Soot can also cause respiratory diseases.

By contrast, U.N. plans for fighting climate change focus mainly on carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas released by burning fossil fuels that are blamed for causing more droughts, floods, wildfires and rising sea levels.

The U.N. Environment Programme, which is a partner with the U.S. initiative, said that success could reduce the projected rise in global temperatures from a build-up of greenhouse gases by 0.5 degree Celsius (0.9 Fahrenheit) by 2050.

By 2030, fast action could also prevent millions of premature deaths and avoid the annual loss of 30 million tons of crops, it said.

Pershing said that the small amount mobilized so far in pilot projects — $13 million — could catalyze wider change. And many projects paid for themselves in greater efficiency.

Karen Luken, of the C40 Partnership and the Clinton Climate Initiative, said that exploiting methane from trash decomposing in a landfill in Mexico City had reduced greenhouse gases and was providing energy for 35,000 homes.

“We will use that model in other places, such as Lagos.”

Quotes from new partners

“The need to limit short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) has grown.  In the Arctic region, in particular, black carbon emissions and deposition must be reduced.  Controlling all SLCP emissions will complement international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in order to combat climate change as effectively as possible.  Limiting fine particulates will also alleviate health risk”, states Ville Niinistö, Finland’s Minister of the Environment.

“The German Government is delighted to be a part of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants.  Germany has already initiated extensive measures at national and international level to curb these substances.  The Coalition can play a key role in achieving this and thus supplement the efforts of international climate policy and other environmental areas such as air quality control and the protection of the ozone layer”, according to the Federal Environment Minister of Germany, Peter Altmaier.

The initiatives were agreed at the first ministerial of the Coalition held in Stockholm, Sweden, in April during the celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the first UN Conference on the Human Environment.

Methane Emissions from Municipal Waste
Waste generated world-wide is responsible for an estimated one-third of global methane emissions—a greenhouse gas over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide and one linked to the generation of ground level ozone that is not only damaging to crops but human health.

The Coalition is working with the Global Methane Initiative and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, which is partnered with the Clinton Climate Initiative, to assist urban areas to cut methane emissions from across the waste chain including from landfills and pollution linked with organic waste like food.

The initiative is also planning to assist cities in reducing open burning of municipal waste, which results in harmful black carbon emissions.

A dedicated web-based platform, through which cities world-wide can share experiences, achievements and best practices, will be launched.

At today’s meeting in Paris, the Coalition discussed progress on this initiative, including plans to work with an initial group of up to 10 cities during the next 12 months through measures such as waste inventories, enhanced composting and recycling, landfill management, and comprehensive waste sector planning.

Emissions from Brick Kilns
The manufacture of bricks in developing countries is often linked with significant emissions of toxic fumes including black carbon.

The Coalition is assessing how to assist countries to switch to more efficient and mechanized “firing” technologies.

A recent study in India and Vietnam indicates that modernizing 35,000 old brick kilns in the region could cut black carbon emissions by 40,000 tons, equal to 27 million tons of CO2.

Mexico, which has secured close to $1 million from the Global Environment Facility to carry out the first national assessment of SLCPs including those from its estimated 20,000 traditional brick kilns, is planning a Coalition workshop in September to advance action in the region.

The Coalition is also putting in place the awareness raising and knowledge generation needed to fast track demonstration projects.

Reducing Black Carbon Emissions from Heavy Duty Diesel Vehicles and Engines
The Coalition discussed many different methods of reducing black carbon from heavy duty diesel vehicles and engines—emissions that are not only a health risk but contribute to melting in the Arctic.

The use of low-sulphur fuels opens up the possibility of one method — fitting particle or black carbon filters to heavy duty vehicles.

Efforts under the UNEP-hosted Clean Fuels and Vehicles Partnership, originally established to phase lead out of petrol, are now focused on reducing sulphur levels in transport fuels.  The Coalition is planning to build off of UNEP’s existing sulphur reduction efforts to also tackle black carbon emissions.

Promoting Alternatives to HFCs
HFCs are increasingly being used  as replacements to CFCs in areas such as air conditioners, refrigeration and foams because they have zero impact on the ozone layer–the Earth’s shield that filters out dangerous levels of the sun’s ultra violet rays.

However, studies indicate that some HFCs are powerful greenhouse gases and if these become widespread they could be responsible for emissions equivalent to 3.5 to 8.8 gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon dioxide (Gt CO2eq) — comparable to current annual emissions from the entire global transport system, estimated at around 6-7 Gt annually.

There are many climate-friendlier replacements available and opportunities to reduce HFC emissions through advanced technologies as well as best service practices.

The Coalition is catalysing awareness of the risks and the alternatives. This week it convened a packed meeting of industry and governments in Bangkok, Thailand, aimed at fast tracking these aims.

Emissions from Oil and Gas Industry
Venting and leakage from oil and gas systems account for over a fifth of global man-made methane emissions and represent estimated economic losses of $27 billion to over $60 billion a year.

An estimated one-third of these losses can be reduced at zero cost with existing technologies and practices. Meanwhile, flaring also leads to emissions of black carbon.

Action is underway to address the issue through initiatives such as the Global Methane Initiative, the Natural Gas STAR International programme, and the Global Gas Flaring Reduction (GGFR) Partnership.

The Coalition is planning to build upon those efforts by working with industry, countries and investors to catalyse accelerated action.


Posted on on July 22nd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Dear Reader,

We have all been greatly saddened by the horrific shooting last night in Aurora, Colorado. Our hearts go out to the victims of another senseless act by a killer with access to dangerous weapons. If you feel strongly about keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people and wish to express your condolences to the victims and their families, please click here. Join with more than 700 U.S. Mayors committed to ending gun crime.

Don Hazen
Executive Editor, AlterNet


YES – but not enough. Let us understand finally that we have been hijacked by our own inaction.

The papers this weekend want us to believe that the two greatest things that are happening right now are the start of Olympics 2012 in London and the opening of  ”The Dark Knight Rises” or Batman III. What goes on in Syria is just a distraction from above focal points of our lives.

Just in case – if we want a little bit more then tragicomedy in our lives – the main attraction at the London Olympics – the first since 1948 – will be the helicopter-carrier positioned in the middle of the Thames River, and the main advertisement for the Batman movie was done with the help of news from the killings at Aurora, Denver, Colorado.

For the honest reality show – the whole world was placed in a Ghetto by the terror act at the Munich Olympics in 1972.

The present Olympics Committee – just a mere 40 years later, did not even agree to have a special ceremony at this year’s Olympics – the tenth since that on-TV event of 1972. Now the TV programs amaze us with the killings of Arab-against-Arab, as in the Damascus routine, and the pre-Olympic celebration in Burgas near the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. There, a terrorist blew himself up, and took along six other people – five of them Israelis – his presumable targets.

Who was the terrorist of Burgas? We do not know and do not assume to know, but we read that Israel says Hamas, and the US know that it was a Hezbollah man backed by Iran, while  the Bulgarian official version is simply – he was not Bulgarian but someone who came from the outside with a pre-conceived plan. Strangely – a Bulgarian journalist had more to say.

He wrote on hat the killer, Mehdi Muhammad G. (33) was born in Sweden, son of immigrants – an Algerian father and a Finnish mother, and went to Pakistan to absorb Islamic teachings. There he was found by the US and brought to Guantanamo on December 1, 2001.

July 2004 (that is still during the G.W. Bush US Presidency – something worthwhile noting right here in the light of the potential of politicizing the event – if true)  he was subsequently released upon request from Sweden. We have no proof that this story is true, but if it is there will clearly be repercussions at the EU and in the US.  So far we read only in Austrian papers, whatever the facts, Bulgaria’s chances to join the Schengen agreement are now diminished.

But above mishap, or perhaps an Olympic reminder to the survivors of the Israeli 1972 team, that went this week to re-visit the Munich site, was coincidentally only a first step – followed by an unrelated event – that we argue to be related nevertheless.

The second event is the Aurora shooting in at a movie house near Denver, Colorado – the killing of 12 people, and injuring 59 more, by what the papers try to describe as a deranged person who had – in a US crazy way – legal access to buy guns and ammunition. (The amo bought on internet and delivered to his home and school, the guns bought directly from official dealers based on his having a clean record.)

James Eagan Holmes, a 24 year young student of neuroscience, hair dyed red, with a gas mask on his face, armed with tear gas and guns, did his thing at the midnight premiere of Batman III, a movie officially titled “The Dark Knight Rises,” that was going to bring in a lot of money to its producers – who prepared as well a great advertising campaign with the help of a website The website itself, though managed by the film-critics community is owned by Warner Brothers – the studio that produced this film.

The critics, based on seeing trailers or having been at previews, posted 197 articles out of  which 86% were positive.
The first negative review earned the critic, Marshall Fine, threats to his life.

The film, like all Batman films, deals in hidden ways with what is interpreted as a glorification of the George W. Bush, post 9/11 War on Terror. That would not have excited us. We decided to write this posting only when we read that Rush Limbaugh, the fire-brand of the US Tea-Party, and the storm-trooper of the fight against an Obama Presidency, pointed out that the character’s name  in the film – Bane, is a hidden psychological hint at the Bain Capital Company (same pronunciation) owned by Mitt Romney in real life, and this is no coincidence according to Rush.

Rush expressed the certainty that this was intended so that it plants in the mind of the viewers the idea that Romney is a personification of evil. The fact that the book was actually written in 1993 by a conservative writer –  Christopher Nolans – and the character was already there – is a detail of no importance to Rush – but we fear  that in real political life of the Republican Party  in the USA of 2012, facts have no importance.   …. It is the figments of imagination that are being expressed as facts, and weak minds draw weak conclusions. The real  problem is that such conclusions can kill.

Holmes booby-trapped his apartment in Aurora, and now the police must be very careful in gaining access – we hope they do not proceed by blowing up the place and losing whatever further evidence can be found there.

In Paris the opening of  The Dark Knight Rises was cancelled, in Vienna the Tuesday preview is still on, and the opening is scheduled for Wednesday. In New York, supposedly the movie’s Gotham City – a sin city of the stock exchange if you want this sort of interpretation for creation of good ticket-box results, Mayor Bloomberg, who calls for gun-control laws, has made sure that the movie house is supervised by no-nonsense police.

Also, we understand that some wise person wrote a pro-guns’ proliferation piece contending that had there been more guns in the theater room, the number of casualties would have been smaller. I guess, if this logic holds, our lives would be safer living in a wild west coral – like in the movies – all of us would would be drawing guns.


Our posting is very short – if interested here are some further material that throws light at the low state we find ourselves in the post-Munich insecurity that benefits only the arms producers and the outspoken and powerful moron politicians:


Posted on on June 6th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

From The Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation:

New publication: Development Dialogue no.59

No future without justice – Report of the Civil Society Reflection Group on Global Development Perspectives

The world faces an unprecedented coincidence of global crises. They testify to the failure of the dominant model of development and economic progress that is oriented on a technocratic modernisation path, is blind to human rights and the ecological limits of the global ecosystem, confuses growth of Gross Domestic Product with progress in society, and regards poverty as a primarily technical challenge in which categories of inequality and social justice are neglected.

The Civil Society Reflection Group on Global Development Perspectives brought together 18 civil society activists and scholars from different disciplines from around the globe. Its members jointly drew lessons from the current crises, looked beyond conventional development concepts and goals, questioned the models and measures of development and social progress, and presented alternatives.

This report is the main outcome of the joint deliberations. It describes the root causes of the multiple crises, reconfirms the framework of universal principles and rights, reconsiders development goals and indicators, and draws conclusions for the post-2015 development agenda. It seeks to stimulate debates about alternative development paths, participatory and inclusive governance structures, and the transformation in politics and societies that future justice for all will require.

Read online

Download as pdf


Have a nice day,

Henning Melber

Executive Director
Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation.


Posted on on May 23rd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (


Campaigns and Advocacy / Campañas y Defensa

22 May 2012

Seventeen states request respect for freedom of expression

SOURCE: Andean Foundation for Media Observation & Study (FUNDAMEDIOS)

(Fundamedios/IFEX) – 21 May 2012 – Seventeen states from the Americas, Europe and Asia suggested that the Ecuadorian government should respect and guarantee the freedoms of the press and of expression in the country.

They made these observations on 21 May 2012 during a session of the UN Human Rights Council, where the states assessed Ecuador using the mechanism known as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

Germany, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Costa Rica, Estonia, United States, Slovakia, Latvia, Luxemburg, Norway, France, India, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom were the countries that presented observations to the Ecuadorian State that it should promote and respect freedom of expression and eliminate laws that criminalize opinion. Some of them also requested that Ecuador should make possible a visit by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression to examine the situation of freedom of expression in the country.

The European countries’ delegations were the most critical.
Sweden, for example, mentioned the case that led to the conviction of a former feature writer and the directors of the newspaper El Universo; and although President Correa abandoned the lawsuit, it recommended that the Ecuadorian State should protect freedom of expression.

Meanwhile, Switzerland emphasized that an atmosphere of censorship and self-censorship prevails in Ecuador and that the State has the obligation of respecting this fundamental right, while Luxembourg expressed concern for the intimidations against Ecuadorian journalists.

Among countries in the Americas, the United States was one of the most critical, showing its concern for attacks against journalists and because in Ecuador freedom of expression is not fully guaranteed. Canada and Costa Rica also issued recommendations to establish measures that guarantee the protection of this fundamental right in accordance with international regulations.

The criminalization of social protest and free association concerned Belgium, Canada, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Latvia and Luxembourg, all of which recommended that guarantees should be in place to allow opposition groups and communities to protest freely, without being condemned as terrorists or saboteurs. In regard to this issue, Spain recommended reviewing the restrictive legislation against NGOs and the criminalization of social protest in the country.

Faced by these pronouncements, the Ecuadorian delegation, led by Vice-president Lenin Moreno; the Minister of Foreign Affairs Ricardo Patiño; the Minister of Justice Johana Pesántez and the National Communication Secretary Fernando Alvarado affirmed that the press is neither censored nor persecuted in the country and that there are no jailed journalists in Ecuador. “Freedom of expression is absolutely and wholly respected in Ecuador”, stated Minister Patiño.

The 17 observations exceed in number those issued against Venezuela during last October’s UPR, when 13 recommendations concerning freedom of expression were presented, all of them were eventually rejected by that government.

The official report will be presented on Friday 25 May and the Ecuadorian government will have to accept or reject the recommendations issued today, as well as those that the states present in writing.

Fundamedios will attend this session and will provide news coverage through its twitter accounts, @LoFundamental and @Fundamedios, and its Facebook pages Fundamedios and LoFundamental.

For more information:
Andean Foundation for Media Observation & Study (FUNDAMEDIOS)
Unión Nacional de Periodistas E2-32 e Iñaquito
Edificio UNP
Piso 4, Ofic. 403
Quito, Ecuador
info (@)
Phone: +593 2 2461622/ 2461636/ 2461642
Fax: +593 2 2230 821

22 mayo 2012

Diecisiete estados piden respeto para la libertad de expresión

FUENTE: Fundación Andina para la Observación y el Estudio de Medios

(Fundamedios/IFEX) – 21 de Mayo de 2012 – Diecisiete estados de América, Europa y Asia realizaron sugerencias para que el gobierno de Ecuador respete y garantice de forma efectiva las libertades de expresión y de prensa en el país.

Esas observaciones se realizaron este 21 de mayo de 2012, durante la sesión del Consejo de Derechos Humanos de la ONU, en donde los Estados evaluaron al Ecuador bajo el mecanismo conocido como Examen Periódico Universal (EPU).

Alemania, Australia, Austria, Bélgica, Canadá, Costa Rica, Estonia, Estados Unidos, Eslovaquia, Letonia, Luxemburgo, Noruega, Francia, India, Suecia, Suiza, Reino Unido, fueron los países que plantearon observaciones al Estado ecuatoriano para que promueva y respete la libertad de expresión y que elimine leyes que criminalizan la opinión. Algunos de ellos también solicitaron que el Ecuador posibilite de forma real la visita del Relator Especial de Libertad de Expresión de la ONU, para que constate la situación de la libertad de expresión.

En este sentido, los países de las delegaciones europeas fueron los más críticos con este tema. Por ejemplo, Suecia mencionó el caso por el que se condenó al exarticulista y directivos de diario El Universo y, pese a que el Presidente desistió de aquel juicio, recomendó al Estado ecuatoriano la protección de la libertad de expresión.

Por su parte, Suiza fue enfático en señalar que el Ecuador se vive un clima de censura y autocensura y que el Estado tiene la obligación de respetar este derecho fundamental, mientras que Luxemburgo se mostró preocupado por las intimidaciones a periodistas ecuatorianos.

Del lado del continente americano, Estados Unidos fue otro de los Estados más críticos y que mostró su preocupación por los ataques a periodistas y porque en Ecuador no se garantiza plenamente la libertad de expresión. Canadá y Costa Rica también formularon recomendaciones para que se tomen medidas que garanticen la protección de este derecho fundamental, de acuerdo con las normas internacionales.

La criminalización de la protesta social y la libre asociación también fueron temas que preocuparon a muchos países como Bélgica, Canadá, Estonia, Francia, Alemania, Hungría, Letonia, Luxemburgo, quienes plantearon sus recomendaciones en el sentido de que deben existir garantías para que los grupos opositores, así como las comunidades puedan protestar libremente, sin ser condenados bajo figuras como el terrorismo y sabotaje. Al respecto España recomendó revisar la legislación restrictiva para ONG y criminalización de la protesta social en el país.

Frente a estas inquietudes, la delegación ecuatoriana, encabezada por el vicepresidente Lenin Moreno; el canciller Ricardo Patiño, la ministra de Justicia Johana Pesántez y el secretario nacional de comunicación Fernando Alvarado, aseguraron que en el país no se censura ni se persigue a la prensa y que tampoco existen periodistas encarcelados. “En Ecuador se respeta absoluta y totalmente la libertad de expresión”, mencionó el canciller Patiño.

Las 17 observaciones formuladas superan a las realizadas a Venezuela, en el EPU de octubre pasado, en dónde se plantearon 13 recomendaciones sobre libertad de expresión, todas las cuales fueron rechazadas por dicho Gobierno.

El próximo viernes 25 de mayo, se presentará el informe y el Gobierno ecuatoriano aceptará o rechazará las recomendaciones realizadas hoy, o aquellas que los estados presenten por escrito.

Fundamedios estará presente en esta sesión y acompañará la cobertura noticiosa a través de sus cuentas de twitter, @LoFundamental y @Fundamedios y sus páginas de Facebook, Fundamedios y LoFundamental.

Para mayor información:
Fundación Andina para la Observación y el Estudio de Medios
Unión Nacional de Periodistas E2-32 e Iñaquito
Edificio UNP
Piso 4, Ofic. 403
Quito, Ecuador
info (@)
Tel: +593 2 2461622/ 2461636/ 2461642
Fax: +593 2 2230 821


Posted on on April 13th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Given the slow progress of international climate talks, many have come to see the “green economy” as a more promising approach: If we can make low-carbon technologies profitable, reliable and affordable, they argue, they could be successfully deployed around the world even without mandatory emission-reduction targets.

In a new article in the journal Climate and Development, researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), and PricewaterhouseCoopers test the viability of this strategy by examining trends in Europe’s electricity sector.

They find that changes are occurring in the political, policy, and regulatory landscape in Europe, as well as North Africa, that are consistent with a continued and accelerated deployment of renewable power in the region. This supports the proposition, they write, that a technology push could be sufficiently substantial and sustained to make some renewables economically competitive with fossil fuels, perhaps by the end of this decade, or the beginning of next. And if this occurs, renewables could potentially become attractive and viable globally, even in the poorest of countries, and even in the absence of a global treaty.

The article is “An alternative to a global climate deal may be unfolding before our eyes,” by Johan Lilliestam, Antonella Battaglini, Charlotte Finlay, Daniel Fürstenwerth, Anthony Patt, Gus Schellekens and Peter Schmidt. It appears in the forthcoming Climate and Development 4(1), DOI:10.1080/17565529.2012.658273.  If you do not have access to the journal but would like to read a copy of the article, please email me or Tom Gill, Managing Editor of the journal, at

Marion Davis
Stockholm Environment Institute – Communications

+1(617) 245-0895 / Skype: marion.s.davis