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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 23rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Contributor

Saudis Must Stop Exporting Extremism:

ISIS Atrocities Started With Saudi Support for Salafi Hate.

By ED HUSAIN,  

ALONG with a billion Muslims across the globe, I turn to Mecca in Saudi Arabia every day to say my prayers. But when I visit the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the resting place of the Prophet Muhammad, I am forced to leave overwhelmed with anguish at the power of extremism running amok in Islam’s birthplace. Non-Muslims are forbidden to enter this part of the kingdom, so there is no international scrutiny of the ideas and practices that affect the 13 million Muslims who visit each year.

Last week, Saudi Arabia donated $100 million to the United Nations to fund a counterterrorism agency. This was a welcome contribution, but last year, Saudi Arabia rejected a rotating seat on the United Nations Security Council. This half-in, half-out posture of the Saudi kingdom is a reflection of its inner paralysis in dealing with Sunni Islamist radicalism: It wants to stop violence, but will not address the Salafism that helps justify it.

Let’s be clear: Al Qaeda, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Boko Haram, the Shabab and others are all violent Sunni Salafi groupings. For five decades, Saudi Arabia has been the official sponsor of Sunni Salafism across the globe.

Most Sunni Muslims around the world, approximately 90 percent of the Muslim population, are not Salafis. Salafism is seen as too rigid, too literalist, too detached from mainstream Islam. While Shiite and other denominations account for 10 percent of the total, Salafi adherents and other fundamentalists represent 3 percent of the world’s Muslims.

Unlike a majority of Sunnis, Salafis are evangelicals who wish to convert Muslims and others to their “purer” form of Islam — unpolluted, as they see it, by modernity. In this effort, they have been lavishly supported by the Saudi government, which has appointed emissaries to its embassies in Muslim countries who proselytize for Salafism. The kingdom also grants compliant imams V.I.P. access for the annual hajj, and bankrolls ultraconservative Islamic organizations like the Muslim World League and World Assembly of Muslim Youth.

After 9/11, under American pressure, much of this global financial support dried up  {something this website doubts indeed – a PJ comment}, but the bastion of Salafism remains strong in the kingdom, enforcing the hard-line application of outdated Shariah punishments long abandoned by a majority of Muslims. Just since Aug. 4, 19 people have been beheaded in Saudi Arabia, nearly half for nonviolent crimes.

We are rightly outraged at the beheading of James Foley by Islamist militants, and by ISIS’ other atrocities, but we overlook the public executions by beheading permitted by Saudi Arabia. By licensing such barbarity, the kingdom normalizes and indirectly encourages such punishments elsewhere. When the country that does so is the birthplace of Islam, that message resonates.

I lived in Saudi Arabia’s most liberal city, Jidda, in 2005. That year, in an effort to open closed Saudi Salafi minds, King Abdullah supported dialogue with people of other religions. In my mosque, the cleric used his Friday Prayer sermon to prohibit such dialogue on grounds that it put Islam on a par with “false religions.” It was a slippery slope to freedom, democracy and gender equality, he argued — corrupt practices of the infidel West.

{ Above is an oxymoron – Wahhabism is the religious base that kept Salafism alive and is the base on which was mounted the Saudi throne. The Saudi monarchy and Wahhabism are one and the same so the Saudi treasury it is also the modern age father of Salafism. And what fills the Saudi treasury? Those are the foreign currencies spent at any gas-pump – be it by buying Saudi oil products or any oil products. As oil is fungible, any oil sold globally increases the value of Saudi oil sales.The bottom line is thus that anyone of us, by his thirst for oil, feeds ISIL.}

This tension between the king and Salafi clerics is at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s inability to reform. The king is a modernizer, but he and his advisers do not wish to disturb the 270-year-old tribal pact between the House of Saud and the founder of Wahhabism (an austere form of Islam close to Salafism). That 1744 desert treaty must now be nullified. 

{WHAT IS HE TALING ABOUT HERE – WHAT TENSION? IT REALLY IS A SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIP.
(PJ comment)}

The influence that clerics wield is unrivaled. Even Saudis’ Twitter heroes are religious figures: An extremist cleric like Muhammad al-Arifi, who was banned last year from the European Union for advocating wife-beating and hatred of Jews, commands a following of 9. 4 million. The kingdom is also patrolled by a religious police force that enforces the veil for women, prohibits young lovers from meeting and ensures that shops do not display “indecent” magazine covers. In the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the religious police beat women with sticks if they stray into male-only areas, or if their dress is considered immodest by Salafi standards. This is not an Islam that the Prophet Muhammad would recognize.

Salafi intolerance has led to the destruction of Islamic heritage in Mecca and Medina. If ISIS is detonating shrines, it learned to do so from the precedent set in 1925 by the House of Saud with the Wahhabi-inspired demolition of 1,400-year-old tombs in the Jannat Al Baqi cemetery in Medina. In the last two years, violent Salafis have carried out similar sectarian vandalism, blowing up shrines from Libya to Pakistan, from Mali to Iraq. Fighters from Hezbollah have even entered Syria to protect holy sites.

Textbooks in Saudi Arabia’s schools and universities teach this brand of Islam. The University of Medina recruits students from around the world, trains them in the bigotry of Salafism and sends them to Muslim communities in places like the Balkans, Africa, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Egypt, where these Saudi-trained hard-liners work to eradicate the local, harmonious forms of Islam.

What is religious extremism but this aim to apply Shariah as state law? This is exactly what ISIS (Islamic State) is attempting do with its caliphate. Unless we challenge this un-Islamic, impractical and flawed concept of trying to govern by a rigid interpretation of Shariah, no amount of work by a United Nations agency can unravel Islamist terrorism.

Saudi Arabia created the monster that is Salafi terrorism. It cannot now outsource the slaying of this beast to the United Nations. It must address the theological and ideological roots of extremism at home, starting in Mecca and Medina. Reforming the home of Islam would be a giant step toward winning against extremism in this global battle of ideas.

—————————

Ed Husain is an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a senior adviser to the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.

A version of this op-ed appears in print on August 23, 2014, on page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: Saudis Must Stop Exporting Extremism

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 24th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Presided upon by Mr. Richard N. Haass, the President of the Council on Foreign Relations, a panel of six of the Council’s experts in front of two rooms full in audience – one in New York the other in Washington DC, a whole gamut of Middle East problems was put on display and dissected.

The six experts were – Elliott Abrams who started out as staff member of Senators Henry M. Jackson and Daniel P. Moynihan and then moved on to the White House under Presidents Reagan and G.W. Bush;  Steven A. Cook who started out at the Brookings Institution, developed an expertise on Egypt, Algeria and Turkey, and is running a blog “From the Potomac to the Euphrates;    Robert M. Danin who started out as a journalist reporting from Jerusalem then worked at the State Department on Middle East Affairs and with Tony Blair as his Jerusalem based representative of the Quartet;   and Ray Takeyh, a widely published professorial expert on Iran – in Washington D C and Isobel Coleman who at CFR covers Civil Society, Markets and Democracy, comes from the business world, has written extensively on policy, was track leader at the Clinton Global Initiative, was named by Newsweek as one of 150 Women Who Shake the World and her blog is Democracy in Development; and Richard N. Haass who served in the White House at ambassadorial level but argued in a book that Foreign Policy starts at Home – the last two were with us in New York.

This discussion takes place at the beginning of the third week since this latest flare-up of Israel’s war against the Hamas of Gaza. A very fast consensus was reached among the four members of the Washington DC panel that to cool the situation without giving Hamas some credit is really difficult. Israel wants really to destroy the infrastructure of tunnels into Israel. Hamas points out that they managed to-date to beat Israel at that as just a day earlier they demonstrated they are capable to infiltrate Israel through such tunnels. Richard Haass evoked Henry Kissinger who said that what is needed to create a lasting equilibrium is (a) a degree of balance, and (b) a degree of legitimacy that comes from mutual recognition between the forces. The latter point does not exist here. Israel is united and out to eliminate Hamas – but if the fighting continues it is expected that the demand for change in the status quo will get louder in Israel – or just a return to a system that allows only breaks in the fighting will be unacceptable.

Asked about how to bring the Palestinian Authority back into Gaza – the prediction expressed was that Hamas demonstrating that only resistance keeps you in authority will allow Hamas to emerge as winner.  Today’s news that Israel bombed a UN managed school filled with displaced Palestinians, and probably also arms bearing Palestinians, will nevertheless put some more outside pressure on Israel.

Further, the news I get today from Vienna is that Saturday there will be large pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Europe on the occasion of the yearly celebration of the Al-Quds Day. This is a PR success for the Hamas – the show of harm done to the Palestinians that are being used as shield to those missiles, and then their misery exploited in order to achieve PR gains based in part also on the unleashing of an existing undertow of Antisemitism-comes-naturally to some layers of Christian Europe. These are aspects that were not looked at by the panel but which play now very seriously a role within Israel. My bet is that Israel will demand that the PA is reintroduced to Gaza at least at its borders – with a minimum role of making sure there are no tunnels. If this becomes part of the US and Egypt brokered solution, the other part will have to be a transparent start to the dissolution of some West Bank settlements. The military defeat of the Hamas can then be viewed as a success of the political leadership of the Hamas in ways acceptable to Israel.
Again – these ideas were not expressed at the Town-Hall meeting.

Steven Cook said that the present ruler of Egypt – President Abdel Fattah Saed Hussein Khalil al-Sisi, former Chief of the Army and Minister of Defense – is much more decisive then Mubarak was, and can be counted on to be more decisive in matters of Hamas. Now we have a situation that Egypt and the Saudis hate in full view the Muslim Brotherhood and their off-shoot – the Hamas,  while the Amir of Qatar is backing them.  So, now we have beside the Sunni – Shia Divide also a Sunni – Sunni Divide which is going and deepening and creates a further Divide between the Brotherhood & Hamas on the one hand and more extremist ISIS & Al Qaeda on the other hand. These latter without an official sponsor from any State.  Here again real life went beyond what was said at the CFR panel.

I made it my business to tell the organizer about the day’s news at the UN, the finding by investigative journalist Matthew R. Lee that the UN Secretary General’s charter flight to the Middle East was bankrolled by the Amir of Qatar, a sponsor of Hamas, does in effect put a notch in the UNSG effort in posing as an honest broker on Gaza. I thought this ought to be brought up at the Town Hall meeting and said I can volunteer to raise this as a question – but I could not – this because I was there as Press, and only Members of the CFR are allowed to ask questions. Members come from Think-Tanks but mainly from business. The reality is that the business sectors represented at the CFR are mainly those that belong to old establishments – Members of the International Chamber of Commerce, but no businesses that could profit from an economy less reliant on fossil fuels. The whole concept of energy seems here to still mean those conventional fuels – and it shows. It came up here as well when a question about Energy Independence was answered that though an Energy Revolution did happen lately in the US, we will never be Independent of “Energy” because the World Economy runs on “Energy.”

Many other points came up – and I will now highlight some of them:

  -  Iran was mentioned in the context that July 20th Vienna meeting was the rage at that time – but then came the Ukraine and Gaza wars. Now Iran was delayed to November 25th and is barely noticed. It was noted that it is only a 4 months delay while it was technically possible to delay it for 6 months. The Iranians believe that they already agreed to the red lines. Can these Red lines be adjusted?

  -  The Kurds will make now moves to go their own ways. The Turks now play more favorably to the Kurds – but the Kurds continue to be split and fight among themselves.

  -   Winner Takes All has been disproved for the Middle East. Maliki in Iraq learned it does not work, so did Morsi in Egypt who saw his Brotherhod and himself ousted merciless.  I found this an extremely valuable observation for all combatants of the region.

  -   New forms of COLD WAR. there is one between the Saudis and the Gulf States (Intra Sunni – Sunni) – and there is one between the Saudis and the Iranians. Like in the US-Soviet case this is not a fight between States. mainly it goes on now on Syrian Territory between parts of Syria a country that will be dismembered like Iraq was.  In the past governments were oppressive and economically weak, but had power internally – now this did collapse.

  -  Now we reached a favorite question about the UN. Are there any useful capacities remaining for the UN? Elliot Abrams said that if appointed to the UN he would try to get another job. UNRWA has become more and more controversial – specifically when there is a cease-fire.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Call for UN Reforms After Ban Flies on Qatar-Funded, UK Registered Plane

By Matthew Russell Lee, The Inner City Press at the UN – Follow up on exclusive

 

UNITED NATIONS, July 21, more hereWhy shouldn’t the UN be able to live up the most basic standards of transparency and good government?

   Inner City Press, and now the Free UN Coalition for Access, have been asking this question. From the UN’s July 21 transcript, video here from Minute 12:55

Inner City Press: As I asked you before, and I know that you had said you would answer at some point, how did the Secretary-General fly from New York to Qatar?  Was it on a Qatari plane, and what safeguards are in place? Would he take a flight from any nation?

Spokesman Dujarric:  Okay, Matthew, it was the Qatari Government [that] very generously chartered a plane for the Secretary-General to enable him to go about his visit.  This is not the kind of visit that we could do if we were not flying on a private plane.  It is not a Qatari plane; it was chartered.  It is a British-registered plane, as some of you will be able to see on the photos.  But, it is a private aircraft funded by the Qatari Government.

   Should the UN Secretary General in a mediation attempt accept free travel from a country with a particular interest in the conflict to be mediated?

   What review should take place? What disclosures should be made, and when? From later in the UN’s July 21 transcript, video here from Minute 31:

 

Inner City Press: you are saying that the use of private planes, generically if necessary, is signed off by the ethics office, but my question is, private planes provided by anyone? Would the Secretary-General, would he accept such service from any Member State, or would he accept it from corporations? The question becomes, given that particular countries have different views of the conflict, what review is made before accepting a particular country’s contribution?

Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq: Well, we do have, like I said, an ethics office and a legal office that can look into these things and see whether something is appropriate or not.

Inner City Press: Was this particular flight checked or you’re saying there’s a generic ruling in advance that any private plane is okay?

Deputy Spokesman Haq: No, I don’t think there’s a generic ruling about this, but certainly, if you need to justify this for essential needs, and something like this, a trip that the Secretary-General was able to embark on and made the decision on just at the end of last week and then had to travel, starting Saturday evening, something like that would have been extremely hard or basically impossible to do in a different sort of way.

Inner City Press: I’m asking because in the budget Committee, often many, particularly developing world countries, they say that things should be funded out of the UN’s general budget rather than taking voluntary contributions from States that then have influence. So, my question is, isn’t there a travel budget? We’ve asked in this room many times to know what the budget is, so I’d still like to know that. But, if there is a budget, why wasn’t the general UN budget used for this rather than taking a specific gift from a specific country? That’s the question.

Deputy Spokesman Haq: The worry is, of course, if you run out of money early, does that mean you can’t travel, even if there’s a crisis? In this case, there was a crisis that necessitated sudden travel.

  Inner City Press broke the story on July 19 — credit has been given, for example, by Newsweek, here — and has been asking Ban’s spokespeople for disclosure and what safeguards are in place.

   Lead spokesman Dujarric replied but did not answer on July 19. When he called in to the UN noon briefing from Cairo on July 21, Inner City Press asked him again on whose plane Ban is traveling.

  This time, Dujarric answered that Ban is flying on a Qatar government funded, UK registered plane.  But he did not answer if there are any safeguards against influence or conflicts of interest. Would Ban accept free flights from any UN member state? From anyone at all?

  Inner City Press asked Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq, who said  the UN Ethics Office said taking private planes is okay when necessary.

  But private planes from ANYONE? Any member state? A corporation? There have been no real answers, yet. But there need to be.

 Diplomats told Inner City Press that Ban would fly — on a Qatari plane — to Qatar, Ramallah (but not for now Gaza), Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait.

  The diplomats who complained to Inner City Press questioned not only Ban taking free flights from a particular country, but also how the use (and landing) of a Qatari plane will play in, for example, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

 Inner City Press asked Ban’s top two spokespeople, and the spokesperson listed as on weekend duty, the following:

“Please state whether the Secretary General is accepting free transportation from any member state or outside party for his current trip to the region concerning the Gaza crisis, and if so please explain the reason and any safeguards in place against influence or conflict of interest.

“Such disclosure should be common practice; if necessary, note that former Spokesperson Nesirky did answer such Press questions, for example concerning the Secretary General flying on a UAE plane (see sample below). On deadline, thank you in advance.

From: UN Spokesperson – Do Not Reply [at] un.org
Subject: Your questions
To: Matthew Russell Lee [at] InnerCityPress.com
Date: Thu, Jan 19, 2012 at 3:00 PM

- The UAE Government provided an aircraft to fly the Secretary-General from Beirut to Abu Dhabi because of time constraints.

     Later on July 19, the following was received, which we publish in full 25 minutes after receipt:

 

 

From: Stephane Dujarric [at] un.org
Date: Sat, Jul 19, 2014 at 5:30 PM
Subject: Re: Press question if SG is accepting free travel from any member state or outside party, as was disclosed in 2012, on deadline, thanks
To: Matthew.Lee [at] innercitypress [dot] com
Cc: FUNCA [at] funca.info

Dear Matthew, Thanks for your question and thanks for the draft answer. The logistical details of the SG’s trip, including the travel arrangements are still being worked out. Once we are in a position to confirm them, i will revert.

best

Stephane Dujarric (Mr.)
Spokesman for the Secretary-General

  But obviously the “logistical details” of getting to Qatar were worked out – Ban had already been to Qatar, then Kuwait before Cairo.

  One asked, what can you solve if you can’t even say how you got there?

  Inner City Press thanked Dujarric and his colleagues for the interim response and asked, “both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Poroshenko’s office say they have spoken with the Secretary General and give read-outs. Will a UN read-out be put out? If so, when? If not, why not?”

  On July 21, Inner City Press asked Haq, who confirmed the calls took place but nothing about the contents. What is happened with the UN?
The Free UN Coalition for Access is pressing for reforms.
We’ll have more on this.

 

 

###

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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


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

———–

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Iran’s centrifuge enrichment complex.

There are two stages in rationalizing the Current situartion:

Stage I

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

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

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

3) Continued minimization of stocks of low enriched UF6.

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

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

Stage II

 

National or Multi-National enrichment? A global Issue.

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

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

Building in Flexibility for Iran:

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

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

Dr. von Hippel COPLIMENTED his theory with  charts.

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

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

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

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

###

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

 

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

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

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

THE NEWS OF THE DAY ARE:

Merkel and Cameron in battle over European Commission.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More on This Story

Related Stories

From other news sites

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 2nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Scots Are Divided Over Independence, and Its Economic Costs.

 

The case for tearing apart the United Kingdom was made on a recent evening at a community center in Beith,  a small town near Glasgow. More than 200 people were packed into folding chairs and standing along walls lined with posters promoting an independent Scotland, like the one with the word “Aye” emblazoned on a Scottish flag. A disco ball hung overhead.

The official campaign period kicked off Friday for the referendum that will determine whether Scotland will remain in Britain. If successful, the vote, which will be in September, would fundamentally reshape America’s closest ally, redrawing the borders of a union that has existed for more than 300 years.

Although the pro-Britain unionists lead, momentum has swung back and forth. The spread narrowed to just three percentage points in an April poll by ICM Research for the Scotsman newspaper, but it widened to 12 points in mid-May, with 20 percent still undecided.

The movement goes beyond the nationalistic pride that has fed previous calls for a split. For Scottish nationalists, much of the discontent comes down to clashing politics. They believe that the British government is far too conservative and has pushed austerity on a Scottish government that never wanted it.

“We again take a different view about the macroeconomic choices available for the country,” John Swinney, Scotland’s finance minister, said in challenging the British approach.

The financial implications weigh heavily on the debate. Top British government officials have ruled out sharing the pound with an independent Scotland, though their resolve has been questioned. José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, has said it would be “extremely difficult, if not impossible” for Scotland to join the European Union. That raised the question of whether Scotland would be left to create its own potentially volatile new currency.

We at SustainabiliTank.info, specially now, with the EU elections in, and the fact that UKIP or the Independence Party of all of Britain won the election in the UK, and Prime Minister David Cameron is being cowed, himself,  into becoming a pain in the side of the EU – then a breakaway Scotland that chooses to be a founding member of a stronger European Union, is a welcome event indeed – and a way to reach out to a  more sustainable EU.  It is clear that the UK of today is closer to the US then to the EU and thus counterproductive to efforts to strengthen the European Union.

Wealthy Scots are choosing sides. The biggest donor to the pro-British pro-union advocacy group Better Together is Donald Houston, a Scottish hotel and whisky magnate who has said “ripping up” the union “is a ridiculous idea.”

The biggest individual donors by far to the pro-independence advocacy group Yes Scotland are Colin and Christine Weir, who won the $271 million EuroMillions lottery jackpot in 2011. Established Scottish business figures, including George Mathewson, former chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, have also spoken in support of independence.

Executives of large multinational corporations tend to see a breakup as a needless risk. More are speaking out, like the BP chief Bob Dudley, who said “Great Britain is great and it ought to stay together,” or General Electric’s top executive in Europe, who said “there would be some consequences that are unpleasant.” And two of Scotland’s largest employers, Royal Bank of Scotland and the insurer Standard Life, have mentioned a “yes” vote as a risk in regulatory filings. But are not such groups rather Wall Street oriented? The Scots-for-Independence could then realize that they live on a different continent indeed might find closer kinship to Denmark or Sweden, for instance, then the US.

The Weir Group, a large Scottish engineering company, released a study that found that independence would “create a number of costs and uncertainties, but fewer and more uncertain benefits.” The study cited increased borrowing costs and the likelihood of higher taxes and spending cuts. There would also be fees to convert a potential Scottish currency across a new border; the report projected $840 million in annual transaction costs.

The ruling Scottish National Party, however, sees a vibrant future for an independent Scotland, buoyed by North Sea oil wealth, free of nuclear weapons, and able to erect a firmer welfare state. This latter point being of importance to the Scots at large when looking back at Conservative London!   Several nationalists pointed to their own government’s analysis projecting that Scotland, on its own, would have the 14th-highest output per person among advanced economies. Their findings, however, were recently undercut by a University of Glasgow analysis that said “foreign ownership in key economic areas” was a drag on national income statistics.

Scotland already runs many of its own affairs after a 1997 referendum on so-called devolution of powers from London gave it authority over its health and education services, justice system and housing policy. The Scots also have some taxation powers.

Nationalists envision a fully independent Scotland as a petro-power. But oil revenue has fallen sharply, by 38 percent from 2010 to 2013. Last year, Scotland paid less into Westminster’s coffers than it took out. Total revenue, including its geographic share of North Sea oil, was about $89 billion, against spending of roughly $109 billion. Another recent analysis by the University of Glasgow’s Center for Public Policy for Regions projects that Scotland will be “significantly worse off than the U.K.” for several years to come, with a higher deficit of almost $1,700 a person in the fiscal year ending in 2016.

Then there is the debt. The cost of servicing Scotland’s proportional share of Britain’s debt “would be worth twice as much as North Sea oil,” said John McLaren, a professor at the University of Glasgow.

Photo

John Sweeney, the Scottish finance secretary, addresses an independence meeting in Edinburgh. A vote will be held in September.     Credit Robert Ormerod for The New York Times

 

Scotland is threatening to walk away from any share of its debt should it be kept out of a currency union. While there is precedent for that — Russia assumed all Soviet debt — it could lead to an acrimonious split and retaliation by Britain.

Creating a border with Scotland’s largest trading partner — the rest of Britain — could also be costly. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Stirling project that such a change could reduce Scottish output more than 5 percent.

Above might be quite true but it has a second side as well – the losses that England would have to carry in case of a belligerant divorce.

Over time, the conduct of business across the border would become more difficult,” said Iain McMillan, head of the Scottish office of the Confederation of British Industry, a leading British trade group. “People can move from Scotland to England to Wales to Northern Ireland without any restrictions whatsoever, and we believe that is the very best business and economic environment for Scotland.”

BUT THEN THE GENTLEMAN FORGETS THAT THERE IS AN EU THAT MAKES ABOVE POSSIBLE ANYWAY – IF HE WANTS ALSO TO SEE THE UK LEAVE THE EU, HIS THREATS AGAINST THE SCOTS – THAT MIGHT STAY WITH THE EU – HAVE TO BE ANALYZED MORE IN DEPTH, AND QUESTIONS ABOUT UK-US RELATIONS PULLED INTO THIS EQUATION IN FULL LIGHT FOR US TO ANALYZE THEM AS WELL.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s deputy first minister, spoke from a lectern covered with a tartan drape.

“As a country, we’ve spent an awful long number of years being told we’re too wee, too poor and probably a bit too stupid to be independent,” she said. “If we were too small and too poor and too stupid, if we were the economic basket case, if we were the subsidy junkies that some of our opponents try to imply that we are, then don’t you think Westminster might have offloaded us by now?”

After the applause died down, she asked, “What’s the downside?”

Plenty, in the minds of many business leaders and economists, who are concerned that an independent Scotland will not have the financial strength to prosper alone. The economy would lean heavily on revenue from North Sea oil, which has been falling, and its per capita government spending outpaces the rest of Britain.

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

 AUSTRIA, SINCE  THE MAY 11, 2014, CROWNING IN COPENHAGEN, HAS A QUEEN -
HER EXCELLENCY IS KNOWN AS CONCHITA WURST.

 

Original Lyrics

Eurovision Song Contest 2014 The winner
Flag of Austria Austria (ORF)

Performer: Conchita Wurst
Song title: Rise Like a Phoenix
Song writer(s): Charly Mason, Joey Patulka, Ali Zuckowski, Julian Maas
Song composer(s): Charly Mason, Joey Patulka, Ali Zuckowski, Julian Maas

Rise Like a Phoenix

Waking in the rubble
Walking over glass
Neighbors say we’re trouble
Well that time has passed

Peering from the mirror
No, that isn’t me
Stranger getting nearer
Who can this person be

You wouldnt know me at all today
From the fading light I fly

Rise like a phoenix
Out of the ashes
Seeking rather than vengeance
Retribution
You were warned
Once I’m transformed
Once I’m reborn
You know I will rise like a phoenix
But you’re my flame

Go about your business
Act as if you’re free
No one could have witnessed
What you did to me

From the fading light I fly
Cause you wouldn’t know me today
And you have got to see
To believe

Rise like a phoenix
Out of the ashes
Seeking rather than vengeance
Retribution
You were warned
Once I’m transformed
Once I’m reborn

I rise up to the sky
You threw me down but
I’m gonna fly

And rise like a phoenix
Out of the ashes
Seeking rather than vengeance
Retribution
You were warned
Once I’m transformed
Once I’m reborn
You know I will rise l the Israeli Dana Internationalike a phoenix
But you’re my flame.

—————————–

Eurovision 1998, that was held in  Birmingham, the UK,  was won by someone very similar to To Tom Neuwirth  / Conchita Wurst.

That person was the Israeli performer of  Yemenite and Romanian Jewish parentage, named Dana International, whose real registered name was Sharon Cohen born February 2, 1972 as Yaron Cohen.  She was a clear trans-gender woman that was born a man.

Dana was chosen to represent Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest  with the song “Diva“.   Orthodox Jews and others with conservative views were opposed to her appointment and attempted to void her participation in the contest. However, in May 1998, Dana performed “Diva” at the Eurovision final and won the contest with 172 points.

Conchita Wurst, a transvestite dressed in woman’s closing but sporting a beard to match in color her long black hair wig, won the Copenhagen 2014 Eurovision getting the smashing 290 points result. Indeed – in these last 16 years the world made tremendous progress in recognizing the human diversity as stressed by Tom Neuwirth when he chose to himself the name “WURST” which in German signifies – “it does not matter – all is equal to me.”

I am talking here politics and must notice that despite tremendous progress – nevertheless not every thing has changed. This is signified by the fact that nobody in the media has remembered Dana International. Is this because of her Israeli origin? Also, so far as I know, our website was the only example in the media that linked the Mauthausen Memorial of Sunday May 11, 2014 with the Eurovision Song Contest that gave such acclaim to Wurst – the person – and let us also say – the concept.

Further, let me stress that Austria is in the forefront of these achievements – the same Austria that it’s people were responsible for running the Mauthausen extermination plant in the 1940′s established to wipe out all diversity  has now a Chancellor, the Honorable Werner Faymann, Who sat for four hours on May 11th, and watched the march of memory at Mauthausen and gave recognition to the honored documentary journalist  Arnold Schwarzman who in 1981 helped prepare the Mauthausen documentary GENOCIDE and now was the US Representative at the 2014 Memorial. We wrote this up at:

Arnold Schwarzman
Arnold Schwarzman

 www.sustainabilitank.info/2014/05…

One week later, on Sunday May 18, 2014, the Chancellor and his Minister of Culture, Dr. Josef Ostermayer, and their wives, stood in the official halls of Austrian Government, in front of the Nation’s cameras – or all to see, and with 10,000 people gathered in front of his windows facing the Balhausplatz, and acclaimed Conchita Wurst’s victory saying this was a victory for Austria. We say – this was a recognition that not only Tom Neuwirth and his friends have risen from the Mauthausen ashes – but all of Austria ought to consider itself as risen from its ashes. Yes, we know that there are exceptions also in Austria – but at least the leadership is stating that the change is welcome.

We are not going to post our notes from the Balhausplatz event, which I watched on location as media,  and the Chancellor’s speech. Those were covered by the media in general. Watching the debates towards next Sunday’s elections for the European Parliament we are aware that not all Europe has not overcome the disease of excessive Nationalism and hatred of diversity. We will get back to this after the results of the elections are in and do not want to preempt this.

 

For now, trying to contribute here something the rest of the media does not focus on to their discredit,
I will post  about DANA INTERNATIONAL’s Career:

 

Career

1990–93: Dana International

At 18 years of age, Cohen (still legally male) earned a living as Israel’s first drag queen parodying many famous female singers. During one of her performances, she was discovered by Offer Nissim, a well-known Israeli DJ, who produced her debut single “Saida Sultana” (“My Name is Not Saida”), a satirical version of Whitney Houston‘s song “My Name Is Not Susan“. The song received considerable exposure and helped launch her career as a professional singer.

In 1993, Dana International flew to London for male-to-female sex reassignment surgery and legally changed her name to Sharon Cohen.Returning home with her new name, that same year Cohen released her first album, titled Danna International, in Israel. Soon after, the album was also released in several other countries including Greece, Jordan, and Egypt (In Jordan and Egypt the album sold illegally). Sharon’s stage name Dana International comes from the title track of the album, and was originally spelled with two n:s. Danna International soon became a gold record in Israel.[6]

1994: Umpatampa and Best Female Artist

In 1994, Dana released her second, Trance-influenced album Umpatampa, which built on the success of her debut and provided further hit singles. The album went platinum in Israel and has sold more than 50,000 copies to date. Because of her popularity and the success of this album, she won the award for Best Female Artist of the Year in Israel.

1995: Eurovision song contest

In 1995, Dana attempted to fulfill her childhood dream of performing in the Eurovision Song Contest.[8] She entered the Eurovision qualifying contest in Israel with a song entitled “Layla Tov, Eropa” (“Good Night Europe”) which finished second in the pre-selections, but became another hit single.

In late 1995, Dana released an E.P. called E.P. Tampa with three new songs and four remixes and special versions of her earlier songs.

1996–97: Consolidating popularity

In 1996, Dana released her third album, Maganuna. Although this album was less successful than her previous efforts, it still reached gold record sales in Israel and included the hits “Don Quixote,” “Waving,” and the club smash “Cinque Milla.” In 1997, Dana collaborated with the Israeli artist Eran Zur on his album Ata Havera Sheli, and together they sang the duet “Shir Kdam-Shnati (Sex Acher)” (“Pre-Bed Song (A Different Kind of Sex)”) which became a huge hit.[9]

1998: Diva and mainstream spotlight

Dana was chosen to represent Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest 1998 in Birmingham with the song “Diva“. Orthodox Jews and others with conservative views were opposed to her appointment and attempted to void her participation in the contest. However, in May 1998, Dana performed “Diva” at the Eurovision final and won the contest with 172 points. She became an international superstar, and was interviewed by CNN, BBC, Sky News, and MTV among others mostly focusing on her life as a transsexual person before winning the contest. Dana’s own words “the message of reconciliation” were; “My victory proves God is on my side. I want to send my critics a message of forgiveness and say to them: try to accept me and the kind of life I lead. I am what I am and this does not mean I don’t believe in God, and I am part of the Jewish Nation.”

Dana released “Diva” as a single in Europe[11] and it became a hit, reaching number 11 in the UK charts and the top ten in Sweden, Belgium, Finland, Ireland, and the Netherlands.

1999–2001: Stage falling, Streisand cover and new albums

In 1999, Dana released Woman In Love, a Barbra Streisand cover, but it was not the hit that “Diva” had been. In May 1999, Dana again participated in the Eurovision Song Contest held in Jerusalem. Dana was a part of the interval act and sang the Stevie Wonder song “Free”. She also presented the award to the winners of the contest but accidentally managed to steal their thunder. Whilst she was carrying the heavy trophy, one of the composers of the winning Swedish entry by mistake stepped on the long trail of her dress and she fell over on stage – in front of a television audience estimated be to one billion or more, making it one of the most memorable moments in the 50-year-long history of the contest.

She released her next album Free in Europe in 1999, which enjoyed moderate success. A few months later Dana moved back to Israel and started to work on different projects. Israeli and Japanese editions of Free were released in 2000. That same year, an Israeli documentary film was made about Dana called Lady D.

In 2001, after a break, Dana released her seventh album Yoter Ve Yoter (More and More).[12] The album put her career in Israel back on track and provided two hits called “I Won” and “After All”, which eventually both went gold.

2002–06: Fading from the scene and Sony incident

Dana was about to sign with a major label, Sony/BMG, for an international recording contract but something went wrong in negotiations. These were disagreements that led to Sony cancelling the deal before it was completed. In 2002, she released another album, HaHalom HaEfshari (The Possible Dream), which was a minor chart success. In 2003, she released an exclusive 8-CD box set, containing all singles from The Possible Dream and a new house version of the hit single “Cinque Milla”, titled A.lo.ra.lo.la. A few years later, in 2005, Dana participated in the 50th anniversary of the Eurovision song contest, held in Copenhagen, after “Diva” was selected as one of fourteen songs considered to be the best Eurovision songs. The song did not make it into the final top five but, Dana got the chance to perform both “Diva” and an old Eurovision favourite of hers; Baccara‘s 1978 entry “Parlez-Vous Francais?“. She also recorded the song “Lola” (sung in French), to which she released a video. This video can be found on the CD Hakol Ze Letova, released in 2007 as a bonus CD-rom video.

In 2005, Dana was voted the 47th-greatest Israeli of all time, in a poll by the Israeli news website Ynet, to determine who the general public considered the 200 Greatest Israelis.

2007–11: Return to music and Eurovision comeback

Dana International, alongside Boaz Mauda (2008)

After a few years away from show business, together with the relaunch of her official website, a first single of the upcoming album was released in March 2007: “Hakol Ze Letova” (“It’s All For the Best”). The second single to be released from the album, “Love Boy”, became the most played song on Israeli radio in a decade.[13] It also gained a respectable place on the airplay of the Greek radio station FLY FM 89,7. The following album, also titled Hakol Ze Letova, was released on August 15, 2007. “At Muhana” was the third single and “Seret Hodi” (feat. Idan Yaniv)[14] the fourth to be released from the album, which became a bestseller in many online stores. The next single released from the album was “Yom Huledet”.

On February 26, 2008, Dana gained an additional achievement when the song “Ke’ilu Kan” written and composed by her and performed by Boaz Mauda, was chosen on Kdam Eurovision to represent Israel at Eurovision Song Contest 2008 in Belgrade, Serbia. It came 5th in the semi-final and gained 9th place in the final rank.

Dana International in 2008

Dana also recorded the song “Mifrats Ha Ahava” (“The Love Bay”) for an Israeli version of the TV-show “Paradise Hotel”. She also collaborated with the Ukrainian duo NeAngely (Not Angels), recording “I Need Your Love” and releasing a video. In 2009, Dana starred in a mock reality show called Dana Kama/Nama for cellphone provider Cellcom

Dana campaigned for Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni shortly before 2009 legislative elections in Israel. At a women’s political rally in Jerusalem Dana performed a disco song alongside Livni onstage, announcing “I now formally invite you to the diva sisterhood.”

In April 2009, Dana performed in the opening concert of Tel Aviv-Yafo Centennial Year. She performed a cover version of Danny Robas‘ song “Lo nirdemet Tel Aviv” (Tel Aviv Doesn’t Fall Asleep) in front of 250,000 people.

Also in 2009, Dana International joined the 7th season of “Kokhav Nolad” (the Israeli version of Pop Idol) as a judge, also joining the 8th one in 2010.

Dana made a guest appearance, as herself, in an episode of the second series of UK sitcom Beautiful People, which was set around her Eurovision appearance.

On March 8, 2011, Dana International won the Israeli National Final for Eurovision with the song Ding Dong, and represented Israel at Eurovision for a second time.  However, she did not make it into the final; she was the first Eurovision winner not to do so.

2013–present: new singles, TV show and album

In April 2013, after a two-year break, Dana released a new single, “Ma La’asot”. It was released digitally worldwide on April 24, 2013. On May 29, Dana released a video clip for the song Loca, to promote the Gay Pride Tel Aviv 2013. Dana will perform on the main event for the Gay Pride on June 7. Her third single for that year, “Ir Shlema”, was released in July. Late in January 2014, Dana’s new music reality show “Yeshnan Banot” premiered. Dana is the main judge on the show, attempting to find Israel’s next girl group.

THE WORDS OF THE SONG “DIVA.”

 

She is all
you’ll ever dream to find
On her stage
she sings her story
Pain and hurt
will steal her heart alight
Like a queen
in all her glory

And when she cries
Diva is an angel
When she laughs
she’s a devil
She is all beauty and love

Chorus:
Viva Maria
Viva Victoria
Aphrodite
Viva le Diva
Viva Victoria
Cleopatra

Silent tears
drop from these eyes tonight
Tears of prayer
for all those aching hearts

And when she cries
Diva is an angel
When she laughs
she’s a devil
She is all beauty and love

Chorus

Songwriters
POLLOCK, NICK

###

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

 

Statement by UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant to the UN Security Council on the situation in Ukraine – 13 March 2014.

I welcome Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk to the Security Council today. The United Kingdom stands side-by-side with the Ukrainian people in this time of crisis.

We commend Mr Yatsenyuk, his government, and the people and armed forces of Ukraine, for the remarkable restraint they have shown in the face of repeated provocation. Because of their strength of will, there is still a chance for a peaceful, diplomatic solution.

Mr President,

Over the past week, we have heard in this chamber, and elsewhere, an attempt to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the transitional government in Ukraine. This is entirely unwarranted. Mr Yanukovych deserted his office and his people in the midst of a crisis. Rather than work to implement the 21 February Agreement, he abandoned his post. He was disowned by his own party and his removal approved by an overwhelming majority of Members of Parliament.

The transitional Government which replaced him has already taken important steps, steps which uphold the spirit of the 21 February Agreement and which lay the foundations for the future of Ukraine. They have restored the 2004 Constitution; they have begun the process of constitutional reform; and they have scheduled elections for 25 May.
These forthcoming elections will enable all Ukrainians to choose their own leaders. International monitors stand ready to ensure that these elections are free and fair. We urge all parties to support this effort.

We all agree that Ukraine needs our support in this time of transition. We all acknowledge that Ukraine has a pressing need for reform, for improvements to its political culture, for political stability, for inclusiveness and for an end to corruption. We all support the call for investigations into the violence of the past three months. We all back fresh elections under international observation. And we all agree on the importance of protecting minority rights. These points of agreement could form a basis around which we could coalesce to find a way forward.

But in order to move from away from confrontation, the Russian Federation needs to accept that the cause of current instability in Ukraine lies not in Kiev, nor in Donetsk.

It comes from the actions of the Russian Federation in the Crimean Peninsula where, against the expressed wishes of the Ukrainian Government, Russian military forces have taken control of a large part of the sovereign territory of Ukraine.

We utterly condemn this blatant violation of the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine and this flagrant breach of international law.

Russia claims that it is acting to protect its citizens. We have heard claims of Russian speakers and nationals under threat, the Russian language outlawed, rampant anti-semitism, hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing Ukraine. All these claims have been shown to be unfounded. The only part of Ukraine where minorities are under threat is in Russian occupied Crimea, where Ukrainian forces are besieged in their bases and hundreds of members of the Tartar community are fleeing Crimea in fear. Where, as we have heard just now from Mr Feltman, ASG Šimonovic has been denied access, denied the opportunity to investigate the disturbing developments taking place in Crimea. But those international observers who have visited Crimea, including Astrid Thors, the OSCE Commissioner on National Minorities, have found no evidence of any violations or threats to the rights of Russian speakers. They have, however, reported that, as a consequence of Russian actions, tensions between ethnic communities have increased.

Mr President,

We are deeply concerned by the decision by the so-called Crimean government – installed by an armed Putsch accompanied by Russian military intervention – to hold a referendum on 16 March to ascertain whether Crimea should become part of the Russian Federation. We are equally concerned by the legislative steps Russia is taking to facilitate this referendum.

It is absolutely clear that the proposed referendum would violate the Ukrainian Constitution. Article 73 sets out that any alteration to the territory of Ukraine must be resolved by an All-Ukrainian referendum. This is manifestly not an all-Ukrainian referendum.

Moreover, a free and fair referendum cannot possibly be held while Russian troops and Russian-backed militias dominate Crimea, where there is no electoral register, where there are restrictions on press freedom, and where voters are casting their ballots under the barrel of a gun.

Under such conditions, it is clear that any referendum vote in Crimea this weekend would be farcical. Worse, it would reopen ethnic divisions and risk a serious escalation in tensions. Such a referendum will not be recognised by the international community.

Mr President,

A window of opportunity remains to find a peaceful resolution to this crisis. The window is narrow, but it exists. But finding this solution requires Russia to take a number of important steps. It must de-escalate. Its forces must return to their bases in Crimea and to the force levels stipulated in the Black Sea Fleet basing agreements. International monitors must be allowed into Crimea. Their presence will ensure that the rights of people belonging to minorities are fully respected by all parties. Russia should distance itself from the proposed referendum, clearly indicate that it will not seek to use the result as a pretext for annexation, and publicly reaffirm its commitment to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. And Russia must agree to proposals for a dialogue with the Ukrainian Government either directly or through meaningful international diplomatic process.

Mr President,

The Council is meeting today in the gravest possible circumstances.

A referendum is set to take place on Sunday which is illegal under Ukrainian law and the consequences of which will clearly be inflammatory and destabilising – with serious implications for the UN charter and international norms.

There is no need for this. What we have just heard from Prime Minister Yatsenyuk confirms what many of us have been repeatedly emphasising in this Council: that there is a clear willingness on the part of the Ukrainian Government to address Russia’s stated concerns through peaceful dialogue, discussion and negotiation.

When there is a readiness for dialogue it makes no sense – indeed it would be dangerous and irresponsible – for Russia to take unilateral actions or to collude with unilateral actions of the Crimean authorities.

The United Kingdom urges Russia to refrain from such unilateral actions and to distance itself from the referendum set to take place on Sunday.

And the United Kingdom urges this Security Council to make clear that Ukraine’s sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity must be respected and that any attempt to modify Ukraine’s borders through unlawful means will not be tolerated.

Kind regards,
Press Office l UK Mission to the UN

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 13th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

World wide web inventor Tim Berners-Lee: 'Establish web's principles of openness and privacy' (photo: unknown)
World wide web inventor Tim Berners-Lee: ‘Establish web’s principles of openness and privacy’ (photo: unknown)

An Online Magna Carta: Berners-Lee Calls for Bill of Rights for Web.

By Jemima Kiss, Guardian UK

12 March 2014

Exclusive: web’s inventor warns neutrality under sustained attack from governments and corporations.

he inventor of the world wide web (www) believes an online “Magna Carta” is needed to protect and enshrine the independence of the medium he created and the rights of its users worldwide.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee told the Guardian the web had come under increasing attack from governments and corporate influence and that new rules were needed to protect the “open, neutral” system.

Speaking exactly 25 years after he wrote the first draft of the first proposal for what would become the world wide web, the computer scientist said: “We need a global constitution – a bill of rights.”

Berners-Lee’s Magna Carta plan is to be taken up as part of an initiative called “the web we want”, which calls on people to generate a digital bill of rights in each country – a statement of principles he hopes will be supported by public institutions, government officials and corporations.

“Unless we have an open, neutral internet we can rely on without worrying about what’s happening at the back door, we can’t have open government, good democracy, good healthcare, connected communities and diversity of culture. It’s not naive to think we can have that, but it is naive to think we can just sit back and get it.”

Berners-Lee has been an outspoken critic of the American and British spy agencies’ surveillance of citizens following the revelations by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. In the light of what has emerged, he said, people were looking for an overhaul of how the security services were managed.

His views also echo across the technology industry, where there is particular anger about the efforts by the NSA and Britain’s GCHQ to undermine encryption and security tools – something many cybersecurity experts say has been counterproductive and undermined everyone’s security.

Principles of privacy, free speech and responsible anonymity would be explored in the Magna Carta scheme. “These issues have crept up on us,” Berners-Lee said. “Our rights are being infringed more and more on every side, and the danger is that we get used to it. So I want to use the 25th anniversary for us all to do that, to take the web back into our own hands and define the web we want for the next 25 years.”

The web constitution proposal should also examine the impact of copyright laws and the cultural-societal issues around the ethics of technology.

While regional regulation and cultural sensitivities would vary, Berners-Lee said he believed a shared document of principle could provide an international standard for the values of the open web.

He is optimistic that the “web we want” campaign can be mainstream, despite the apparent lack of awareness of public interest in the Snowden story.

“I wouldn’t say people in the UK are apathetic – I would say that they have greater trust in their government than other countries. They have the attitude that we voted for them, so let them get on and do it.

“But we need our lawyers and our politicians to understand programming, to understand what can be done with a computer. We also need to revisit a lot of legal structure, copyright law – the laws that put people in jail which have been largely set up to protect the movie producers … None of this has been set up to preserve the day to day discourse between individuals and the day to day democracy that we need to run the country,” he said.

Berners-Lee also spoke out strongly in favour of changing a key and controversial element of internet governance that would remove a small but symbolic piece of US control. The US has clung on to the Iana contract, which controls the dominant database of all domain names, but has faced increased pressure post-Snowden.

He said: “The removal of the explicit link to the US department of commerce is long overdue. The US can’t have a global place in the running of something which is so non-national. There is huge momentum towards that uncoupling but it is right that we keep a multi-stakeholder approach, and one where governments and companies are both kept at arm’s length.”

Berners-Lee also reiterated his concern that the web could be balkanised by countries or organisations carving up the digital space to work under their own rules, whether for censorship, regulation or commerce.

We all have to play a role in that future, he said, citing resistance to proposed copyright theft regulation.

He said: “The key thing is getting people to fight for the web and to see the harm that a fractured web would bring. Like any human system, the web needs policing and of course we need national laws, but we must not turn the network into a series of national silos.”

Berners-Lee also starred in the London 2012 Olympics, typing the words “this is for everyone” on a computer in the centre of the arena. He has stuck firmly to the principle of openness, inclusivity and democracy since he invented the web in 1989, choosing not to commercialise his model. Rejecting the idea that government and commercial control of such a powerful medium was inevitable, Berners-Lee said it would be impossible: “Not until they prise the keyboards from our cold, dead fingers.”

Creator of web free to use for everyone:

As a boy growing up in south-west London, Tim Berners-Lee was a keen trainspotter, which led to his interest in model railways and then electronics.

But computers were already familiar concept in the family home – both his parents worked on the creation of the world’s first commercially built computer, the Ferranti Mk1.

Berners-Lee got a first in physics at Oxford and then worked in a series of engineering roles. But it was at Cern, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, in Geneva where he embarked on projects which would lead to the creation of the world wide web.

His aim was to allow researchers all over the world to share documents and his first proposals were judged as “vague but interesting” by a manager at Cern.

He combined existing technology such as the internet and hypertext and combined them to produce an immense interconnected document storage system. Berners-Lee labelled it the world wide web, although his Francophone collaborators found it difficult to pronounce.

The web was first open to new users in 1991, and in 1992, the first browser was created to scan and select the millions of documents which already existed.

Although the web has seen the creation and loss of countless fortunes, Berners-Lee and his team ensured that it was free to use for everyone.

Berners-Lee now works through various organisations to ensure that the web is accessible to all and that the concept of the neutrality of the net is observed by governments and corporations.

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 7th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 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.

FIRST CLEAR CASUALTY – THE SOCHI G8 MEETING THAT BECOMES IMPOSSIBLE WITH RUSSIA AT WAR.
SO – IT IS NOW CLEAR THAT SOCHI IS NOT THE PUTIN PLANNED  RUSSIAN GOLD MINE.

—————————————–

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.

 

 

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

 

THE FOLLOWING SHOWS THAT UNDER UK LEADERSHIP, AND US BACKING, THE UN TURNS TO ITS MEMBER STATES’ LEGISLATORS IN ORDER TO FIND A WAY TO TACKLE CLIMATE CHANGE.  IT SEEMS THAT FINALLY THE UN HAS LANDED ON SOMETHING – AND WE GIVE A LOT OF CREDIT FOR THIS TO  Dr. ROBERT ORR – a US citizen -  UN Assistant Secretary General in the UN Secretary-General’s office.

We are told that In 2013 there was substantive legislative progress in 8 countries (passage of “flagship legislation”) and positive advances in a further 19 countries:

– Americas: Bolivia passed its Framework Law on Mother Earth and Integral Development to Live Well; El Salvador adopted its National Climate Change Strategy; In Ecuador, Decree 1815 established the Intersectoral National Strategy for Climate Change; and in Costa Rica a draft General Law on Climate Change has been introduced and is expected to pass in 2014.

– Asia-Pacific: China published its National Adaptation Plan and made progress in drafting its national climate change law; Indonesia extended its forest moratorium; Kazakhstan introduced a pilot emissions trading scheme; Micronesia passed its Climate Change Act in late 2013.

– Europe: Poland adopted its National Strategy for Adaptation and Switzerland overhauled its CO2 Act to increase ambition.
– Middle East and North Africa: Jordan passed its National Climate Change Policy; and the United Arab Emirates launched a mandatory Energy Efficiency Standardization and Labelling Scheme.
– Sub-Saharan Africa: Kenya adopted 2013-2017 Climate Change Action Plan; Mozambique adopted 2013-2025 National Strategy for Climate Change;Tanzania passed its National Strategy on REDD+; Nigeria’s Legislative Council
approved the adoption of a National Climate Change Policy and Response Strategy.

 

BUT WHEN THINGS MOVE UP THEY MAY ALSO COME DOWN – SO -
* Two countries began processes to reverse legislation:
– Following an election, the new Australian government has proposed to repeal aspects of the Clean Energy Act in 2014.
– Japan announced a lowering of its ambition on climate change in response to its reduced reliance on nuclear energy after the tsunami and resulting accident at Fukushima.
        Key information on the GLOBE Partnership for Climate Legislation (supported by the UN and the World Bank Group):

* The Partnership For Climate Legislation will support national legislators in 66 countries to share best practice and to develop and oversee the implementation of legislation on climate change, natural capital accounting and forests/REDD+.   The Partnership directly responds to the demand from legislators for technical, policy and analytical capacity.

* Specific aims:
i. To share best legislative practice through the annual GLOBE Climate
Legislation Study, national case studies and the convening of GLOBE Climate
Legislation Summits.
ii. To provide a dedicated international process that supports legislators
– on a demand-led basis – to develop and implement climate change
legislation.
iii. To explore how commitments made in national legislation can be
recognised within the architecture of an international climate change
agreement.
iv. To develop a Climate Legislation Resolution to be agreed at the World
Summit of Legislators and to be taken by legislators to their respective
national parliaments.
v. To support legislators to obtain, use and exchange relevant climate data.
* Climate-related legislation and policies (including mitigation, adaptation and forests/REDD), once implemented, carry the potential to bring additional benefits including disaster risk reduction and resilience, new sources of income/livelihoods, sustainable energy access and positive effects on public health.

* Recognizing that developing and passing laws is not sufficient in itself, the Partnership will support legislators to ensure they are equipped to effectively oversee the implementation of the law by national governments, including ensuring national budgets are consistent with climate goals, as well as assessing the impact of climate-related laws on the national
economy and key sectors of society.

           About the Global Legislators Organisation (GLOBE):
* GLOBE was established in 1989 by cross party legislators from the EU, Japan, Russia and the USA.  Today GLOBE International is the world’s largest organisation of legislators dedicated to advancing laws on climate
change, forests/REDD+ and natural capital accounting .
* Legislators from 86 countries have participated in GLOBE’s dedicated policy initiatives and legislators from 40 countries work through formal national and regional chapters of the organization.
* With headquarters in Great Britain, offices in 8 countries and over 25 locally-recruited policy advisors across a global network, GLOBE is uniquely placed to support national legislators to develop and implement laws.

—————————————

 

FURTHER – A PRESS RELEASE – THAT WAS EMBARGOED UNTIL 00:01 UK/GMT 27 FEBRUARY 2014

STUDY REVEALS RAPID ADVANCE OF NATIONAL CLIMATE CHANGE LAWS CREATING BASIS FOR NEW INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE AGREEMENT

UN and World Bank support partnership with the Global Legislators Organisation (GLOBE) to encourage development of national climate change laws.
********

Thursday 27th February, US Senate, Washington DC, 115 senior national legislators from 50 countries along with the heads of key United Nations Institutions, United Nations Climate Negotiations and the World Bank Group receive the results of the most comprehensive analysis to date of the reach and depth of national climate changes laws in 66 of the world’s countries.  The Summit will be hosted in the US Senate Kennedy Caucus Room by Senator Edward Markey.

The Study covering countries responsible for 88% of global carbon emissions was co-authored by the Global Legislators Organisation (GLOBE) and the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics (LSE).  The Study sets out a series of politically significant findings that will have a direct bearing on success of the international negotiations. Legislators will also consider how national laws can be recognised within a 2015 international climate change agreement.

Responding to the Study, the Global Legislators Organisation is launching a major new international initiative, The Partnership for Climate Legislation, supported by the United Nations and the World Bank Group.  The Partnership will help national legislators to develop and implement climate change laws. It will work across the 66 nations covered by the Study by sharing best legislative practice, provide detailed policy, analytical and legal capacity to cross party groups of legislators as they develop their own laws.

The GLOBE Climate Legislation Study findings show:
* Almost 500 national climate laws have been passed in the 66 countries
covered by the Study.  The 66 countries account for 88% of global
emissions.
* 64 of 66 countries have progressed or are progressing significant climate
and/or energy-related legislation.
* Much of the substantive progress on legislative activity on climate
change in 2013 took place in emerging economies, including China and
Mexico, which will provide the motor of global economic growth in coming
decades.
* Whilst the legislative approach often differs (whether directly inspired
by climate change, energy efficiency, energy security or competitiveness),
national legislation is achieving similar results — improved energy
security, greater resource-efficiency and cleaner, lower carbon economic
growth.
* While current national legislation does not yet add up to what needs to
be done to avoid dangerous climate change, it is putting in place the
mechanisms to measure, report and verify emissions, a pre-requisite for a
credible global climate treaty.
* There is an urgent need for those countries that have not yet passed
climate legislation to do so

US Senator Edward Markey, said: “Climate action is happening in legislatures around the globe because climate change is harming countries and their people around the globe.  We need an international movement to pass climate legislation, and nowhere is that movement needed more than here in the United States.  The GLOBE study show legislators around the
world are taking actives steps to develop significant national legislation and I urge colleagues here in the United States to acknowledge the movement and take action”.

President of the Global Legislators Organisation, Rt Hon John Gummer, Lord Deben, said: “The message from the 4th GLOBE Climate Legislation Study is clear – more countries than ever before are passing credible and significant national
climate change laws. This is changing the dynamics of the international response to climate change and poses a serious question to the international community about how we can recognise credible commitments made by governments within their national legislature.  It is by implementing national legislation and regulations that the political conditions for a global agreement in 2015 will be created.”

“Understanding this message from the Study and embracing it in how major international processes and institutions work between now and Paris 2015 will be critical.  We must see more countries develop their own national climate change laws so that when governments sit down in 2015 they will do so in very different political conditions to when they did in Copenhagen. The Partnership for Climate Legislation will support legislators across party political lines to advance climate change-related legislation. The Partnership will provide a combination of political, analytical and administrative capacity.  It will also serve as a platform where legislators from across the world can meet, discuss common barriers, issues and successes and share information about best legislative practice”.

Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Christiana Figueres said: “It is no exaggeration to say that theclean revolution we need is being carried forward by legislation. Domestic legislation is critical because it is the linchpin between action on the ground and the international agreement. At the national level, it is clear
that when countries enact clean energy policies, investment follows. At the international level, it is equally clear that domestic legislation opens the political space for international agreements and facilitates overall ambition”.

World Bank Group Vice-President and Special Envoy Rachel Kyte said: “2014 is the year we need to step up climate action.  Legislators have a critical role to play in raising political ambition and ensuring that effective laws and regulations support low carbon and resilient development.  For this reason, we’re pleased to support the new Partnership for Climate
Legislation”.

The President of the Mexican Congress, Hon. Ricardo Anaya Cortes said: “With the support of GLOBE, Mexico has passed ambitious climate legislation. We are here today in the US Senate to share our experience, to build a global coalition of parliamentarians against the damaging effects of climate change and to challenge inaction.”

UK Foreign Secretary Rt. Hon William Hague said: “A global and legally binding deal on emissions reductions in the UNFCC in 2015 is imperative. As we work towards that agreement, it is clear that domestic legislation has a key role to play in building consensus and cementing ambition, which is why GLOBE’s work is so important.  The launch of GLOBE’s Partnership forClimate Legislation, with the backing of the UN and World Bank, is an  important step towards sustaining this work for long term, which the UK Government wholeheartedly supports”.

Confirmed Keynote Speakers included:

Representing the United Nations Secretary General’s Office:
* UN Assistant Secretary-General, Dr Robert Orr Representing the World Bank:
* World Bank Group President, Dr Jim Yong Kim
* World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change, Rachel Kyte

Representing the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change:
* UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Christiana Figueres

Representing the United Nations Environment Programmes:
* UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner

Representing the Congress of Mexico:
* President of Congress, Hon. Ricardo Anaya Cortes

 

—————————————————
For further information, please contact:

Study results and policy:
Terry Townshend, Study Author and Policy Director, Mobile: +86 15011 289613
and +44 7900 912808. E-mail: Terry.Townshend@globeinternational.org

Washington Summit:
Andrew Hammond, GLOBE Media Relations, Mobile: +44 7792926576. E-mail:
Andrew.Hammond@globeinternational.org
Office of Senator Markey:
Eben Burnham-Snyder, Telephone +1 202 224 2742, Email
eben_bs@markey.senate.gov
www.globeinternational.org

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Today Is My Last Day at Rolling Stone.

By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

20 February 14

 

oday is my last day at Rolling Stone. As of this week, I’m leaving to work for First Look Media, the new organization that’s already home to reporters like Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill and Laura Poitras.

I’ll have plenty of time to talk about the new job elsewhere. But in this space, I just want to talk about Rolling Stone, and express my thanks. Today is a very bittersweet day for me. As excited as I am about the new opportunity, I’m sad to be leaving this company.

More than 15 years ago, Rolling Stone sent a reporter, Brian Preston, to do a story on the eXile, the biweekly English-language newspaper I was editing in Moscow at the time with Mark Ames. We abused the polite Canadian Preston terribly – I think we thought we were being hospitable – and he promptly went home and wrote a story about us that was painful, funny and somewhat embarrassingly accurate. Looking back at that story now, in fact, I’m surprised that Rolling Stone managing editor Will Dana gave me a call years later, after I’d returned to the States.

I remember when Will called, because it was such an important moment in my life. I was on the American side of Niagara Falls, walking with friends, when my cell phone rang. Night had just fallen and when Will invited me to write a few things in advance of the 2004 presidential election, I nearly walked into the river just above the Falls.

At the time, I was having a hard time re-acclimating to life in America and was a mess personally. I was broke and having anxiety attacks. I specifically remember buying three cans of corned beef hash with the last dollars of available credit on my last credit card somewhere during that period. Anyway I botched several early assignments for the magazine, but Will was patient and eventually brought me on to write on a regular basis.

It was my first real job and it changed my life. Had Rolling Stone not given me a chance that year, God knows where I’d be – one of the ideas I was considering most seriously at the time was going to Ukraine to enroll in medical school, of all things.

In the years that followed, both Will and editor/publisher Jann S. Wenner were incredibly encouraging and taught me most of what I now know about this business. It’s been an amazing experience. I’ve had a front-row seat for some of the strangest and most interesting episodes of our recent history. At various times, thanks to this magazine, I’ve spent days hiding in a cell at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, gone undercover in an apocalyptic church in Texas (where I learned to vomit my demons into a paper bag), and even helped run a campaign office for George W. Bush along the I-4 corridor in Florida, getting so into the assignment that I was involuntarily happy when Bush won.

I was at the Michael Jackson trial, so close to the defendant I could see the outlines of his original nose. I met past and future presidents. I shared Udon noodles with Dennis Kucinich in a van on a highway in Maine. And I paddled down the streets of Katrina-ravaged New Orleans, so deep into the disaster zone that a soldier in a rescue copter above mistook me for a victim and threw a Meal Ready to Eat off my head. I still have that MRE, it has some kind of pop tart in it – I’m going to give it to my son someday.

To be able to say you work for Rolling Stone, it’s a feeling any journalist in his right mind should want to experience. The magazine’s very name is like a magic word. I noticed it from the very first assignment. Even people who know they probably shouldn’t talk to you, do, once they hear you’re from the magazine Dr. Hook sang about. And if they actually see the business card, forget it. People will do anything to get into the magazine, to have some of that iconic cool rub off on them.

There were times when I would think about the great reporters and writers who’ve had the same job I was so lucky to have, and it would be almost overwhelming – it was like being the Dread Pirate Roberts. It was a true honor and I’ll eternally be in the debt of Will and Jann, and Sean Woods and Coco McPherson and Victor Juhasz and Alison Weinflash and so many others with whom it was my privilege to work. I wish there was something I could say that is stronger than Thank You.

No journalist has ever been luckier than me. Thank you, Rolling Stone.

 

 

###

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

###

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

 

Europe

Without Scotland, Premier Says, Britain Would Be Less ‘Great’

LONDON — Marking the formal beginning of the British government’s campaign to preserve the United Kingdom, Prime Minister David Cameron made an emotional plea to Scots to vote in September to remain in the union, saying on Friday that without Scotland, Britain would be “deeply diminished.”

“We want you to stay,” said Mr. Cameron, an entreaty that signaled a shift from the current pro-union campaign, which has featured dark warnings about financial and legal difficulties for Scotland should the Scots vote for independence. With seven months to go until the vote, he said, the outcome is up in the air.

Mr. Cameron does not want to be the prime minister who lost Scotland and began the breakup of the United Kingdom, even as he has promised Britons a similar referendum during the next Parliament on remaining in the European Union. Without Scotland, Great Britain would be considerably less great, he argued, and would be faced with new problems about borders and income, even about where to base its nuclear submarines.

            The British prime minister, David Cameron, speaking in east London on Friday.
Carl Court/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Mr. Cameron chose the velodrome at the Olympic Park in east London for his first major intervention in the Scottish referendum campaign, trying to appeal to the national pride that surrounded the highly successful Summer Olympics here 18 months ago. Then, Scots were prominent in what was known as “Team G.B.,” and one of the local heroes of the Games, the Scottish tennis player Andy Murray, is known to favor remaining in the union.

Excerpts from the speech were provided to British political journalists overnight, ensuring two days of news coverage. “For me, the best thing about the Olympics wasn’t the winning,” Mr. Cameron said. “It was the red, the white, the blue. It was the summer that patriotism came out of the shadows and into the sun, everyone cheering as one for Team G.B.”

Mr. Cameron focused on the importance of the “powerful” United Kingdom brand and how much it mattered in the world, and how it could be damaged. Scottish independence would “rip the rug from under our own reputation,” Mr. Cameron said, arguing that “we matter more in the world together” — the same argument used by Britons who want Britain to remain in the European Union.

Mr. Cameron said that while the decision was up to the Scots, “all 63 million of us” — in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — “are profoundly affected.”

“We would be deeply diminished without Scotland,” he said.

He pulled out all the Scottish stops, citing the Scottish Olympian Chris Hoy, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his own West Highland heritage. He also mentioned Scotch whisky, saying it “adds £135 to the U.K.’s balance of payments every single second,” which in another context might be an incentive for Scots to vote for independence. However, with Britons anxious about making ends meet, Mr. Cameron did not mention Adam Smith, the Scot famous for his theory of the “invisible hand” of the free market.

About four million people over the age of 16 and living in Scotland will be able to take part in the referendum, promised by the governing Scottish National Party, on Sept. 18. Scots living outside Scotland cannot vote.

Early opinion polls have shown a large plurality of Scots intending to vote to remain in the union, but the numbers are soft. In some recent polls, greater numbers have said they intend to vote for independence.

Given the unpopularity of Mr. Cameron and his Conservative Party in Scotland, which is dominated by the Scottish National Party and the opposition Labour Party, Mr. Cameron has been wary of intervening too much in the debate, fearing a counterproductive effect. The pro-union campaign, which is meant to be nonpartisan, is led by Alistair Darling, a Labour member of Parliament from Scotland and former chancellor of the Exchequer, who had a cabinet post during the entire Labour reign from 1997 to 2010.

Mr. Darling and his team have been emphasizing questions about whether an independent Scotland would have to reapply to join the European Union, whether it could continue to use the pound or adopt the euro, whether it would have a truly independent central bank, and even whether oil and gas revenues from declining production in the North Sea would be enough to fund Scotland’s budget.

The immediate response from the Scottish National Party to the excerpts — the “preaction,” as one BBC radio announcer put it — was predictably critical, accusing Mr. Cameron of being afraid to come to Scotland and debate the party leader, Alex Salmond.

Mr. Salmond called Mr. Cameron “a big feartie,” or coward, for refusing a face-to-face debate.

Scotland’s deputy first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said in a statement, “This is a cowardly speech from a prime minister who uses the Olympic Park in London to give highhanded lectures against Scotland’s independence but hasn’t got the guts to come to Scotland or anywhere else to make his case.”

Touching on Mr. Cameron’s image as an elite, Eton-educated southerner, she said, “David Cameron, as the Tory prime minister, is the very embodiment of the democratic case for a ‘yes’ vote for an independent Scotland — and he knows it.”

She argued that using the Olympic Stadium on the day the Winter Olympics formally opened in Sochi, Russia, “seeking to invoke the successes of London 2012 as an argument against Scotland taking its future into its own hands,” only “betrays the extent of the jitters now running through the ‘no’ campaign.”

Watch Now: America’s first Muslim fraternity

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

 

Leaked Recordings Lay Bare E.U. and U.S. Divisions in Goals for Ukraine.

Launch media viewer
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany issued a sharp statement denouncing the American diplomat’s remarks on the political crisis in Kiev. John Macdougall/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

BERLIN — “Really Pretty Stupid” was the headline chosen by the august Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Friday to describe an editorial on the latest eruption between the United States and Europe, this time over who should take the lead in trying to calm the crisis in Ukraine, and how to do it.

The headline spoke to the tensions that flared this week over the release of a recording in which a top American diplomat disparaged the European Union’s efforts in Ukraine. On Friday, a second recording surfaced in which European diplomats complained about the Americans.

But it was also a reflection of the disarray that has marked much of the West’s dealings with Ukraine since late November, when President Viktor F. Yanukovych spurned a pact with the European Union. He then turned to Russia for a $15 billion aid package that the Kremlin has since suspended because of continuing antigovernment protests in Kiev, the capital.

—————————–====================————————

Ever since Ukraine became independent as the Soviet Union crumbled in 1991, the United States and Europe have had different aims for the country, a large, troubled nation of 45 million whose very name means “on the edge.”

Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of state for European affairs, said her leaked conversation was “pretty impressive tradecraft.” Gleb Garanich/Reuters

With strategic considerations uppermost in American diplomacy, the United States helped, for instance, to rid Ukraine of old Soviet nuclear weapons. Europe, meanwhile, saw opportunities for trade.

As the European Union expanded eastward with the inclusion of Poland and Romania, the perception grew that neighboring Ukraine needed formal ties to regulate commerce and legal systems to facilitate the growing cross-border transactions. In 2012, Poland and Ukraine were even joint hosts of the continent’s premier sports event, the European soccer championship.

Russia, which has centuries of shared history with Ukraine and under Vladimir V. Putin has grown ever more painfully conscious of its loss of Soviet empire, looked on with mounting suspicion, and now seems to be intent on exploiting Western disarray.

The release of the recordings has further roiled the waters. In the first one, posted anonymously on YouTube, Victoria Nuland, the American assistant secretary of state for European affairs, profanely dismissed European efforts in Ukraine as weak and inadequate to the challenge posed by the Kremlin.

On Friday, a second recording was posted that featured a senior German diplomat, Helga Schmid, complaining in her native tongue to the European Union envoy in Kiev about “unfair” American criticism of Europe’s diplomacy.

“We are not in a race to be the strongest,” retorted the envoy, Jan Tombinski, a Pole. “We have good instruments” for dealing with the crisis.

Yes, replied Ms. Schmid, but journalists were telling European officials that the Americans were running around saying the Europeans were weak. So she advised Mr. Tombinski to have a word with the United States ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, the man whom Ms. Nuland was talking to in her recorded conversation.

While the Obama administration accused the Russians of making mischief by recording and then posting the Nuland conversation, neither the European Union nor Germany blamed the Kremlin for the second recording.

Illustrating how testy relations with Washington have become, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, earlier the target of American monitoring of her cellphone, issued an unusually sharp statement saying that Ms. Nuland’s remarks were “completely unacceptable.”

Germany, as befits its status as Europe’s largest economy and a country with centuries of dealings with lands to its East, has been heavily involved in the crisis over Ukraine. In a speech to the German Parliament on Nov. 18, Ms. Merkel, herself raised in Communist East Germany, emphasized that the Cold War should be over for everyone, including countries once allied with Russia but now independent. She made a forceful case for Ukraine to sign the European pact.Julianne Smith, a former national security aide to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. who is now at the Center for a New American Security, said there was a structural tension between the European Union and the United States because the Americans can speak with one voice and grow impatient waiting for decisions from a union with many voices.

“They all have different sovereign issues, different threat perceptions, different priorities,” she said. “As a result, there has always been this longstanding deep frustration on the part of the United States with the inability to get quick answers, quick responses and broker some sort of U.S.-E.U. agreement on whatever the issue of the day might be.”

The back-and-forth this week illustrates how many interests are a part of the mix in Ukraine — a mix that Western diplomats seem unable to keep free of their own differences.

In the editorial with the headline “Really Pretty Stupid,” Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger, the newspaper’s foreign editor, noted how the latest issue had been stoked by months of “bad blood” with Washington. “You can certainly criticize some parts of European policy toward Ukraine, but it is not as if American diplomacy has found the font of all wisdom. In fact, they can’t think of anything more than a few mini-sanctions against the regime in Kiev.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Frankenberger said, Mr. Putin “should certainly be laughing himself stupid.”

“If a top American diplomat could not care less about the Europeans,” he added, “then he will certainly bear more easily their absence from the opening of the Olympic Games in Sochi. And he will see in Ms. Nuland’s remark, which Moscow presumably disseminated, a confirmation of the bad opinion he already has of Europeans.”

The moral of the tale? “No disparaging remarks about partners on the phone.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 19th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

  • Obama: ‘No one expects China to have an open debate about their surveillance programmes’ (Photo: whitehouse.gov)

 

Obama promises not to spy on EU leaders

 

18.01.14  – THE EUobserver – by Andrew Rettman

 

 

 

BRUSSELSUS President Barack Obama has said he will not spy on EU leaders or conduct economic espionage, but will continue snooping on ordinary US and EU citizens.

He made the pledge in a TV speech on Friday (17 January) in reaction to the Edward Snowden leaks.

“I’ve made clear to the intelligence community that unless there is a compelling national security purpose, we will not monitor the communications of heads of state and government of our close friends and allies,” he said.

“We do not collect intelligence to provide a competitive advantage to US companies or US commercial sectors,” he added.

He justified the mass-scale collection of information on ordinary US or foreign nationals’ telephone calls, however.

“Why is this necessary? The programme grew out of a desire to address a gap identified after 9/11 … [It] was designed to map the communications of terrorists so we can see who they may be in contact with as quickly as possible,” he noted.

He promised to create a data privacy tsar to implement new safeguards.

The measures, enshrined in an executive order, centre round the future storage of intercepted phone data by an independent agency, which can only be accessed “after a judicial finding or in the case of a true emergency.”

Obama also ordered one of his spy chiefs, James Clapper, to draft better protection for US citizens whose internet data is caught in the NSA’s overseas operations.

He did not give non-US citizens any right of redress in US courts, however.

He also made no reference to the NSA’s most controversial exploits.

He said nothing on its introduction of bugs into commercial encryption software, on burglarising undersea cables, on hacking internet and phone companies, or bugging EU officials.

He also defended America’s right to spy in general.

He said: “The whole point of intelligence is to obtain information that is not publicly available.”

Counter-terrorism aside, he added: “Our intelligence agencies will continue to gather information about the intentions of governments … around the world in the same way that the intelligence services of every other nation does. We will not apologise simply because our services may be more effective.”

He noted that some foreign leaders “feigned surprise” on the Snowden leaks, while others “privately acknowledge” they need the NSA to protect their own countries.

He also claimed the US handling of the Snowden affair shows its respect for democratic values.

“No one expects China to have an open debate about their surveillance programmes or Russia to take privacy concerns of citizens in other places into account,” the US President noted.

For its part, the European Commission welcomed Obama’s words in a communique published shortly after he finished speaking.

“President Obama’s remarks and action show that the legitimate concerns expressed by the EU have been listened to by our US partner,” it said.

It promised to push for more, however.

It said it will seek “an improvement of the Safe Harbour scheme,” an EU-US pact on data handling by US firms.

It will also seek “the swift conclusion of an umbrella agreement on data protection in the area of law enforcement that will guarantee enforceable rights for EU citizens, including judicial redress.”

The European Parliament, which held an inquiry into the NSA affair, was more sceptical.

British centre-left deputy Claude Moraes, its NSA rapporteur, said Obama’s reaction is “substantial” but “weighted towards … a concerned US audience.”

He added that “lack of clarity” on the new safeguards mean “his comments may not have been enough to restore confidence.”

German Green MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht, who also took part in the NSA inquiry, was more critical.

He told EUobserver: “My impression is he [Obama] is making a change in rhetorical terms, not in substance.”

Albrecht said almost all NSA programmes, including Prism, which intercepts data held by internet firms like Google and Microsoft, “will be the same as before, there are no changes.”

He also said people should pay attention to the small print in Obama’s language.

He noted that the ban on spying on friendly “heads of state and government” leaves the US free to spy on lower-rank officials, such as foreign ministers.

He also noted that Obama included numerous “security carve-outs.”

For instance, the NSA can still bug German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone if “there is a compelling national security purpose.”

“European leaders will have to decide if they want to follow him, and lose the trust of their citizens in their ability to safeguard their basic rights,” Albrecht said.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 14th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

I recognized the stories from decades of living in the East End of London.
There are fifty thousand homeless people in New York City and 22,000 homeless children.
Governments across the world have abandoned their poorer or disadvantaged citizens to their fate.
I didn’t find this story either hopeful or pleasant but I read it carefully.

I congratulate EKATERINA LOUSHNIKOVA on this piece of work.

 

 

The lower depths in Russia today.

Over a century after Maksim Gorky’s famous play about homeless people – ‘The Lower Depths’ – Ekaterina Loushnikova has been looking around her home city of Kirov to see if anything has changed.

 

The church porch

I stood in the porch of Kirov’s St Serafim’s church, a traditional place for beggars to congregate. I wasn’t asking for anything, but someone handed me two roubles (about 4p). Ordinary Russians are kindhearted and I didn’t turn it down. I passed it on to my new acquaintance, an elderly woman in a flower-patterned headscarf sitting on a wooden box that once contained fruit. Lyudmila Petrovna is eighty years old, and begs for alms outside the church during morning and evening services. She doesn’t get a lot – it’s a rare day that she collects one hundred roubles (just less than two pounds sterling) – but people also bring her food: bread, toffees, biscuits, pea soup in a glass jar. Lyudmila Petrovna is cheered by their offerings, and asks each of them if there’s someone they’d like her to pray for.


Lyudmila Petrovna on the church porch. Cast out of her apartment by her own family,
Lyudmila is now forced to supliment her pension with begging.. Photo (c) Ekaterina Loushnikova.

Lyudmila Petrovna rarely collects as much as 100 roubles (just less than £2), but people also bring her food… and she offers to pray for them in return.

The elderly woman has a monthly pension of 6000 roubles (£110); the average Russian earns about 30,000 roubles (£550) a month.
A third of Lyudmila Petrovna’s money goes on the rent for a room in a communal flat in a nearby jerry-built block; the rest has to meet all her needs for the month. In Kirov, bread costs 20 roubles, potatoes 30, milk also 30, tea 40, and sugar 50 roubles. You can survive, of course, but you can forget about buying meat, sausage, fish, eggs and other non-essentials, and you buy any clothes you need in the second-hand shop. Here, amongst a heap of clothing from Europe and the US, Lyudmila Petrovna finds a frilled linen skirt ‘made in Germany’, a Dutch-made jacket and American shoes, which are two sizes too big but will be fine if she wears three pairs of socks with them. She can buy the socks here too, and the whole lot sets her back about 500 roubles. The old lady is as pleased as punch at finding such cheap stuff from European countries she has never seen.

‘Lyudmila Petrovna,’ I ask, ‘do you know where Holland is?’

‘I couldn’t tell you exactly’, she replies, ‘but I know it’s in Europe. I used to get good marks for geography! I was a good learner; I had ten years of school.’

Down and out

Before she retired, Lyudmila Petrovna was a postwoman, but she’s not keen on talking about the years when she worked and had her own flat – or about her children and grandchildren either. ‘They said, “Go and stay with relatives or somebody, Ma… or we’ll put you in a care home. You’re in the way here, you get on our nerves with your preachifying.” I’d already transferred the flat to their names. I went to stay with my sister but it didn’t work out, so I came back, and was homeless. Sometimes I’d sleep in an attic, sometimes in a cellar, sometimes right on the street under a tree. People would beat me up, boys would throw stones at me, the police would pick me up and throw me in a cell, then they’d let me go – this happened over and over again. But what could they do with me? The children had taken my name off the register for the flat, but if I wasn’t registered anywhere I couldn’t get my pension. I was living off bread and holy water from St Tryphon’s well.’

‘They said, “Go and stay with relatives or somebody, Ma… or we’ll put you in a care home. You’re in the way here, you get on our nerves with your preachifying.”’

Lyudmila Petrovna didn’t go to the social services. She was too embarrassed about her tattered clothes, her hands black with dirt, and the rumbling in her hungry stomach, and even more about her inconsolable grief. Sorrow doesn’t like company: it prefers solitude, wrapped in a cocoon of tears that have dried to a crust around the heart. Many people find consolation in a bottle of wine, but you don’t get much wine or vodka in a church porch. What they drink here is hawthorn berries and hot peppers infused in spirit from a chemist’s shop or hardware store – cheap and cheerful at thirty roubles a bottle. It’s not something you can drink for long: after a couple of years your skin turns yellow and becomes ulcerated, you lose your feet, then your memory, and finally your right to be called human. If a living corpse like this is lucky, they get picked up and taken to a drug dependency unit or a psychiatric clinic; if not, it’s straight to the cemetery for burial at government expense. While homeless people are alive they survive whatever way they can. They try to avoid contact with social services and charities, thinking that instead of help they’ll end up with servitude.

A saviour appears

Lyudmila Petrovna was lucky – she was saved by a happy marriage. ‘I got married when I was eighty. My suitor lived in the block of flats next to the church, and would come and sit in the porch with us for a chat. The old fellow was lonely – all his family had died or moved away. But he was nearly ninety, and one day he said, “If only someone would come and help me a bit at home. I haven’t washed the dishes for three years; my porridge is full of grubs; I put my laundry to soak last year and never got round to washing it, and the neighbours are cursing me day and night because of the smell.” So I went round and did a bit of washing and cleaning for him. Then one day I said, “Well, you might give me a bit of floor and a coat to sleep on, it’ll be warmer than the street”. And he said, “You may as well come and live with me. I’m fond of you.”

Off we went to the registry office, all dressed up – him in a jacket with all his war medals on, and me in a nice flowery dress and I even put lipstick on, believe it or not!

‘He registered me at the flat, so I could claim my pension. But our happy life together didn’t last long. My old man’s health started going – if it wasn’t his heart it was his blood pressure; and I’d be phoning for the ambulance every day. One day he proposed to me: “Let’s get married, love. You never know when I’ll die.” So off we went to the registry office, all dressed up – him in a jacket with all his war medals on, and me in a nice flowery dress and I even put lipstick on, believe it or not! We arrived and they said they couldn’t marry us straight away: “You might change your minds, just wait for a month to be sure of your feelings for each other”. So we waited a month and went back, and this time we got married. We didn’t have what you’d call a proper wedding; we had tea and sweets and I baked a cake. I don’t drink wine, but I gave some to the winos to warm the cockles of their hearts on our special day. Everyone drank to us and wished us a long and happy life together, but my old fellow died not long afterwards. The drunks in the porch didn’t even have time to dry out – one day they were drinking to his health, the next to his eternal rest.’

Lyudmila Petrovna has a photo album to remind her of her husband, as well as his jacket with the medals, and, most importantly, a roof over her head. She’s also adopted a stray dog called Naida, and the two of them live happily together.

People of No Permanent Abode

Splavnaya Street still has wooden pavements from the time of the Second World War, and is lined with cheap one-storey wooden housing blocks of the same era, probably built by German prisoners of war. The only stone building in the area is the rather grandly named Centre for the Rehabilitation of People of No Permanent Abode or Occupation. Here the social services give homeless people a warm bed with clean sheets, a hot shower and a packed lunch consisting of pasta, vegetable oil, sugar, tea and instant Chinese noodles. There’s no meat for the homeless. It’s also not supposed to become a permanent place of residence: the rules state that you can spend the night there but in the morning you have to go to work. However, many of the people there are unemployed, and some are disabled as well. Aleksei, who was brought up in a children’s home, lost his toes to frostbite when he lived in an unheated hut. The 37-year-old, who looks 20 years younger, has nothing: no father or mother, no place to live, no work, no money – just a younger sister who has a bed in the next room. This is their home; they have nowhere else to go. And there are many like them. The centre has fifty permanent residents and no room for any more.


Former Lieutenant-Colonol Nicholas took to drinking while serving in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Chechnya.
His wife has left him and he now spends his days in the rehabilitation centre. Photo (c) Ekaterina Loushnikova.

‘Don’t take my photo!’ warns Valera, a thin man of indeterminate age with a swarthy impassive face. It’s not hard to tell that he’s spent a lot of his life behind bars; and indeed he recently left prison after serving a 20-year sentence. What for? Robbery, burglary – all sorts, but no, he’d never killed anyone.

‘Do you have a family, any relatives?’

‘Not a soul’, he tells me, ‘no relatives, no friends, no home. Just me. So I’m living here for the time being.’

It feels as though the ex-con is finding it difficult to get used to freedom. He needs to start a new life, but how do you do that if you’ve spent 20 years behind bars? After struggling on the outside for a few months or a couple of years, former prisoners usually revert to crime just to get back home – to jail.

Some have a bit of luck. One of Valera’s roommates, another ex-con, has found a job in the north. His name is Alexander and he did time for murder.

If only I can stay off the bottle!’ he says in the tone of a man who is doomed to suffering or some other unavoidable disaster.

‘Yeah, I stabbed one of my colleagues with a knife. I’d had too much to drink. They gave me 15 years, and I served every day. But now I’m out I’m starting a new life. My mother’s in a care home and I have two sons. I have no contact with one of them – his mother has a new family now and she doesn’t want to see me. But my elder son, from an earlier marriage, is doing his military service, and when he finishes he might join me. My mother can come and live with us too. If only I can stay off the bottle!’ he says in the tone of a man who is doomed to suffering or some other unavoidable disaster.

A retired KGB Lieutenant-Colonel

In the next room I meet a man who is in such a state of chronic insobriety that it’s impossible to tell when he last drank – this morning, yesterday, the day before – or whether his breath just permanently reeks of alcohol. He unexpectedly introduces himself as Nicolas, in the French manner, and he turns out to be a retired KGB Lieutenant-Colonel. ‘I served in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Chechnya’, he tells me. ‘Carried out government instructions. I have medals to show for it – and wounds. I started drinking on active service – war drives you to all sorts of things. But that’s it – I’m quitting. I’ve made my mind up.’

‘Do you get any visitors here?’

‘Yes, my wife came to see me yesterday, but she’s found someone else, she’s left me. Are you married? I’m still a young man, after all;’ and the retired colonel winks at me provocatively.


One-time murderer and career criminal, Yury Flegontovich now works as a religious activist. Photo (c) Ekaterina Loushnikova

I’ve never had so many conversations about marriage as in this homeless centre and the prisons I’ve visited. It’s like a dream of paradise for them. ‘I long to meet someone and have a family. There’s nothing worse than loneliness,’ says a talkative, plumpish man as he gets up from his bed, introducing himself as Yury Flegontovich. ‘Wait a minute while I get dressed and I’ll tell you everything about my life. I have such a tale to tell you!’

‘Wait a minute while I get dressed and I’ll tell you everything about my life. I have such a tale to tell you!’

I hear his ‘tale’ in the centre’s library. Its shelves are full of books by Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Durrenmatt and Cortázar, as well as contemporary detective fiction, but my new acquaintance’s life beats them all. He arrives for his appointment with a journalist in an expensive suit, a silk shirt and a colourful tie complete with tiepin.

‘I now work for the Church of the New Testament [an evangelical protestant church] but I used to be a professional criminal’, he begins. ‘When I was young I messed about a fair bit – thieved, murdered, beat people up, went to prison once or twice. The first time I got sent down I was 18 – I roughed up a cop and got two years for it. When I came out I got my own gang together, and we stole cars, took the windscreens off. Did good business! Then I got sent down again, this time to a high security place. Came out of there, and started thieving and murdering again. I don’t know how many people I killed. Our boss was a guy known as “Cheburashka” [after a children’s TV cartoon character], but then I set up my own business dealing in stolen precious metal goods. I had loads of money, a car, a flat – but I lost it all playing the machines in casinos. They tried to kill me and they buried me alive, but I managed to scrabble my way out.

I set up my own business dealing in stolen precious metal goods. I had loads of money, a car, a flat – but I lost it all playing the machines in casinos.

‘I repented of my sins and became a pilgrim – I walked 7,000 kilometres around holy places, churches and monasteries. The one that made a particular impression on me was the Holy Trinity monastery in Perm, where I walked into a cell to find one monk had pulled up another monk’s habit and was buggering him like there was no tomorrow! And he didn’t even stop when I came in – he just said, “Brother, you should knock before you come in.” I left the next day and went off the Orthodox Church. We have people living here in the Centre that were buggered in prison [and so considered the lowest of the low in the prison hierarchy], and you need to be careful around them. You can help them, but don’t shake their hands!’

‘I’ve been shaking everyone’s hand!!!’ I cried in horror. Yury Flegontovich gave me a look of sympathy. ‘You’d better wash your hands with household soap then. Of course you’re a woman, not a bloke, but wash them anyway. You could catch some kind of itch or heaven knows what – they’re all tramps here, after all. In Perm I used to crash out in a shaft at a district heating plant, and I’d wake up in the morning on top of a thick black pile of cockroaches, all crawling around under me. Men and women would be sitting around eating and drinking, and there’d be a stinking corpse lying in the corner. No one had even thought about burying it!

‘And listen to what I saw here yesterday. There was a fight between an amputee and his girlfriend, who’s completely off her head. She had epilepsy and it’s turned into schizophrenia. She bashed him over the head with his own crutch, and he broke a stool over her. When the manager found out he threw them both out. He’s a strict man, but fair.’

Managing – just…

The Centre’s manager is Vladimir Zmeyev, a retired Lieutenant Colonel of police from Soviet times. He began his career as a police officer attached to the women’s department of a sexual health clinic, and later was in charge of detention centres and sobering-up stations for arrestees and alcoholics. Now he runs a homeless centre. Such is life. There’s never a dull moment.

‘My predecessor here was a woman, who sometimes had to hide under her desk when inmates got rough…. ’

‘My predecessor here was a woman, who sometimes had to hide under her desk when inmates got rough,’ he tells me. ‘One of our employees even got murdered by a homeless guy. The member of staff made some critical remark to him, and he grabbed a knife and stabbed him. The blade pierced his lung and he died instantly…’

The dead man’s wife still works at the Centre. She is coming up to retirement age so it’s not easy to find another job. Not that it’s easy here – staff salaries are sometimes lower than the wages of some residents. A construction worker, even if he’s a former tramp, can earn up to thirty thousand roubles a month, while an administrative worker at the Centre can’t earn more than five thousand, and there’s nothing they can do about it, that’s the rate for the job. Staff usually have two jobs, just to survive. After the murder, CCTV cameras were installed everywhere – a mouse would find it difficult to avoid them, but experienced ex-cons can and do.


A new arrival to the centre. Having fallen on hard times, he had taken to drinking fufyrika, a chemist-grade pepper lotion. Kirov, a city of 473,000 people, has about 2,000 homeless residents. Photo (c) Ekaterina Loushnikova

‘They still bring in drink and food, from who knows where,’ laments Vladimir Zmeyev. ‘We can’t feed them properly here. We have an annual budget of just 150,000 roubles (£3,000) for food and drink. But we do get donations and residents who are earning well help the rest out. We’ve had businessmen, bureaucrats, intellectuals; all kinds of military people living here. I remember one police officer that spent a long time working in Chechnya and came home to find his wife had left him for someone else. He did the right thing by her – didn’t take her to court over the flat, left her everything and went to live in a vault in the cemetery. Started to drink of course – his friends brought him here.’

‘And do people really get back on their feet after coming here?’ I asked.

‘Unfortunately, most of them go back to where they came from – cellars, doorways, heating plant shafts. They stay here for the winter, but as soon as it gets warmer they’re off. What can you do, it’s their decision.’

As I’m leaving I see one more sight. They’ve just signed in a new resident. His face is covered in bruises and ulcers, he has the watery blue eyes of a habitual drunkard, and the look of someone who no longer expects anything out of life…

The Centre staff fuss around the newcomer; they will wash him, give him medical treatment, delouse his clothes, establish his identity and renew his papers, but how can they re-establish his life, half of which is already lost?

Back at home, I spend a long time washing my hands with household soap, and wipe them with disinfectant, just in case. After all, you can’t avoid yourself…

 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 9th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

The poorest pay the price for austerity: Workers face biggest fall in living standards since Victorian era.

The number of public sector workers on low wages doubles to more than one million, with women and part-time staff disproportionately affected by squeeze on incomes.

The biggest drop in living standards since the Victorian age is seeing low and middle earners suffering an unprecedented squeeze on their incomes as austerity measures continue to bite, with women and part-time workers disproportionately affected, research reveals today.

More than five million  people are officially classified as low paid and an increasing number of public sector  workers are struggling to make ends meet, according to the New Economics Foundation (NEF) think-tank.

It warned: “Workers on low and middle incomes are experiencing the biggest decline in their living standards since reliable records began in the mid-19th century.”

The NEF has calculated that the public sector now employs one million low-wage workers – double the previous estimate – with health and social care staff, classroom assistants and council employees trapped on small earnings.

Sales assistants and retail workers make up the largest group of low-paid workers in the private sector, with large numbers also working as waiters, bar staff and cashiers.

The study blames the continuing drop in disposable incomes on pay freezes and below-inflation rises, leading to wages steadily lagging behind prices.

Separate research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation concluded yesterday that for the first time the number of working families living in poverty exceeds those without anyone in work. The cost of living has moved up the political agenda in recent months with Labour claiming that the average person is £1,600 worse off than when the Coalition Government took power in May 2010.

Ministers counter that economic recovery is finally under way, with employment levels growing steadily, and that they have taken steps to lower the cost of petrol and energy and to raise the income tax threshold. However, one in four local authority employees is now on low pay, which is defined as less than 60 per cent of the average national income – equivalent to £7.47 an hour or £13,600 a year.

Helen Kersley, a senior economist at the think-tank, said: “Up to now it was assumed low pay was confined to the margins of the public sector. But take into account the 500,000 low-wage workers employed by outsourced service providers and you can see the problem runs a lot deeper than that.”

As squeezed local councils award contracts to the cheapest providers, these workers are often even worse off than their counterparts employed directly by the public sector. “A care worker earns only £6.44 to £7.38 per hour in the private sector compared to £9 to £11 in the public sector,” the report adds.

Karen Jennings, assistant general-secretary of Unison, which commissioned the report, said: “Wages are being benchmarked against those in the worst parts of the private sector… the public sector needs to start proving that society benefits from decent wages.”

Frances O’Grady, the TUC General Secretary, said: “The Chancellor has revelled in his attacks on the living standards of those who educate and care for our families.”

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “Our welfare reforms are designed to further increase work incentives and improve the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities, with the [new benefits system] universal credit making three million households better off.”

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

USA’S NEW SCANDAL
USA’S NEW SCANDAL

[December 2013] This looming scandal could ruin the 44th President and disrupt the entire country… Read More »
———————————————————–

Op-Ed Columnistat The New York Times

The Punishment Cure

By PAUL KRUGMAN

The Republican response to the unemployed is a mix of callousness and bad economics.

—————-

A NEW YORK TIMES Editorial

Mr. de Blasio’s Fiscal Challenge

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

Pain is on the way for the next mayor, despite Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal for a balanced budget.

—————————————————–

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 1st, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The New York Times reminded us that -

“On Dec. 1, 1959, representatives of 12 countries, including the United States, signed a treaty in Washington setting aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve, free from military activity.”

This triggered our interest in the fact that the treaty was signed in Washington and not at the UN in New York – as well we remember having visited a Chilean military base in the Antarctica – “grandfathered” by the treaty as it was established before the signing of the treaty. As well – a large number of States have bases in the Antarctica – call them scientific – but be sure they may have military meaning as well. So far as science goes – the South Koreans have based their scientific work around the Chilean military base.

Looking up the internet we found for THE ANTARCTIC TREATY:

A lot of the major powers of the world (UK, Australia, Russia, and I’m sure some others) all have bases on Antartica. All are scientific, and I’m pretty sure the American ones are run by the military. I know the McMurdo Base (American) is huge in comparison to all the others. I think it staffs a couple thousand people, too. It’s all science though, no wars or anything being fought down there (though others may beg to differ.)

www.upi.comBusiness NewsSecurity IndustryFeb 20, 2012 – Chile is going ahead with a multibillion-dollar plan
that includes Antarctica, including defense and tourist options.
——————

Some important provisions of the Treaty:

 

Antarctica shall be used for peaceful purposes only (Art. I)

 

Freedom of scientific investigation in Antarctica and cooperation toward that end … shall continue (Art. II).

 

Scientific observations and results from Antarctica shall be exchanged and made freely available (Art. III).

 

Among the signatories of the Treaty were seven countries – Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom – with territorial claims , sometimes overlapping. Other countries do not recognize any claims. The US and Russia maintain a “basis of claim”. All positions are explicitly protected in Article IV, which preserves the status quo:

 

No acts or activities taking place while the present Treaty is in force shall constitute a basis for asserting , supporting or denying a claim to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica or create any rights of sovereignty in Antarctica. No new claim, or enlargement of an existing claim to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica shall be asserted while the present Treaty is in force.

 

To promote the objectives and ensure the observance of the provisions of the Treaty, “All areas of Antarctica, including all stations, installations and equipment within those areas … shall be open at all times to inspection ” (Art. VII).

———-

“Signed in 1959, the Antarctic Treaty provides the legal framework for the region beyond 60º South latitude. It reserves the region for peace, promotes scientific investigations and international cooperation, requires an annual exchange of information about activities, and encourages environmental stewardship. Representatives of the 29 voting nations (Consultative Parties) and the 21 non-voting (Acceding Parties) meet regularly to discuss Treaty operations.

 

Agreements negotiated within the Antarctic Treaty system include environmental protection measures for expeditions, stations, and visitors; waste-management provisions; a ban on mining; establishment of specially protected areas; and agreements for the protection of seals and other marine living resources.”
The original Parties to the Treaty were the 12 nations active in the Antarctic during the International Geophysical Year of 1957-58.

The Treaty was signed in Washington on 1 December 1959 and entered into force on 23 June 1961. The Consultative Parties comprise the original Parties and other States that have become Consultative Parties by acceding to the Treaty and demonstrating their interest in Antarctica by carrying out substantial scientific activity there.

 

The primary purpose of the Antarctic Treaty is to ensure “in the interests of all mankind that Antarctica shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and shall not become the scene or object of international discord.” To this end it prohibits military activity, except in support of science; prohibits nuclear explosions and the disposal of nuclear waste; promotes scientific research and the exchange of data; and holds all territorial claims in abeyance. The Treaty applies to the area south of 60° South Latitude, including all ice shelves and islands.

 

The Treaty is augmented by Recommendations adopted at Consultative Meetings, by the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (Madrid, 1991), and by two separate conventions dealing with the Conservation of Antarctic Seals (London 1972), and the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (Canberra 1980).

BUT – The Convention on the Regulation of Antarctic Mineral Resource Activities (Wellington 1988), negotiated between 1982 and 1988, will not enter into force.

THE CONFLICT BETWEEN ARGENTINA AND THE UK SHOWS WHAT ANIMOSITY CAN COME UP WHEN THERE IS HOPE TO FIND OIL.

 

The Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) is now held annually. During each ATCM, there is also a meeting of the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP). The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) is an observer at ATCMs and CEPs, and provides independent scientific advice as requested in a variety of fields, particularly on environmental and conservation matters.

 

For more information on the Antarctic Treaty, please visit the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat website.

 

Contact
By phone
+ 54 11 4320 4250
+ 54 11 4326 2174
By Fax
+ 54 11 4320 4253
By Email
ats@ats.aq
By Post
Secretaría del
Tratado Antártico

Maipú 757 Piso 4
C1006ACI – Buenos Aires
Argentina

————–

The Antarctic Science meetings cycle can be found at:

Logo for 33 SCAR, Auckland, 2014

XXXIII SCAR Meetings and Open Science Conference

22 August – 3 September 2014, Auckland, New Zealand.

The Open Science Conference will be held on 25-29 August. A draft list of sessions is available.
Abstract submission is open until 14 February 2014.

'New!' Second Circular now available.

For more information, please see the [pdf] Second Circular and visit the Conference website.

 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 16th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Shout Out UK: The 10 Largest Protests in Human History.

 
 mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?shva=1…

Shout Out UK subscribe@shoutoutuk.org via mail181.wdc02.mcdlv.net
We received this e-mail and decided to post it also for our own audience because we recognized the value of the truth it presents – the fact that it takes organized masses of people to bring about change. Today we seem to be at another junction
of the same kind – it will take masses of people to express the need to take seriously the dangers of Climate Change and stop exploiting the peanuts uncovered because of the effects of changed climate.
Their posting reminded us about LES MISERABLES (book by Victor Hugo and film) and theatrical ways of bringing about true change.
Washington DC needs now a dose of this – so do the people of Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and Australia – those with religion and those without. Think also Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Texas as examples of how religion can blind people to apply the wrong mass.

 

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