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Obama Styling:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 24th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

from:  readersupportednews.org/opinion2/… January 23, 2015


Congress Seeks Netanyahu’s Direction

By Robert Parry, Consortium News

23 January 15


Showing who some in Congress believe is the real master of U.S. foreign policy, House Speaker John Boehner has invited Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session and offer a rebuttal to President Barack Obama’s comments on world affairs in his State of the Union speech.

Boehner made clear that Netanyahu’s third speech to a joint session of the U.S. Congress – scheduled for Feb. 11 – {now seemingly re-scheduled for March 3, 2015} - was meant to counter Obama’s assessments. “There is a serious threat in the world, and the President last night kind of papered over it,” Boehner said on Wednesday. “And the fact is that there needs to be a more serious conversation in America about how serious the threat is from radical Islamic jihadists and the threat posed by Iran.”

The scheduling of Netanyahu’s speech caught the White House off-guard, since the Israeli prime minister had apparently not bothered to clear his trip with the administration. The Boehner-Netanyahu arrangement demonstrates a mutual contempt for this President’s authority to conduct American foreign policy as prescribed by the U.S. Constitution.

In the past when Netanyahu has spoken to Congress, Republicans and Democrats have competed to show their devotion by quickly and frequently leaping to their feet to applaud almost every word out of the Israeli prime minister’s mouth. By addressing a joint session for a third time, Netanyahu would become only the second foreign leader to do so, joining British Prime Minister Winston Churchill who never used the platform to demean the policies of a sitting U.S. president.

Besides this extraordinary recognition of another country’s leader as the true definer of U.S. foreign policy, Boehner’s move reflects an ignorance of what is actually occurring on the ground in the Middle East. Boehner doesn’t seem to realize that Netanyahu has developed what amounts to a de facto alliance with extremist Sunni forces in the region.

Not only is Israel now collaborating behind the scenes with Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabist leadership but Israel has begun taking sides militarily in support of the Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in the Syrian civil war. A source familiar with U.S. intelligence information on Syria said Israel has a “non-aggression pact” with Nusra forces that control territory adjacent to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

The quiet cooperation between Israel and al-Qaeda’s affiliate was further underscored on Sunday when Israeli helicopters attacked and killed advisers to the Syrian military from Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Iran. In other words, Israel has dispatched its forces into Syria to kill military personnel helping to fight al-Nusra. Iran later confirmed that one of its generals had died in the Israeli strike.

Israel’s tangled alliances with Sunni forces have been taking shape over the past several years, as Israel and Saudi Arabia emerged as strange bedfellows in the geopolitical struggle against Shiite-ruled Iran and its allies in Iraq, Syria and southern Lebanon. Both Saudi and Israeli leaders have talked with growing alarm about this “Shiite crescent” stretching from Iran through Iraq and Syria to the Hezbollah strongholds in Lebanon.


Favoring Sunni Extremists

Senior Israelis have made clear they would prefer Sunni extremists to prevail in the Syrian civil war rather than President Bashar al-Assad, who is an Alawite, a branch of Shiite Islam. Assad’s relatively secular government is seen as the protector of Shiites, Christians and other minorities who fear the vengeful brutality of the Sunni jihadists who now dominate the anti-Assad rebels.

In one of the most explicit expressions of Israel’s views, its Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, a close adviser to Netanyahu, told the Jerusalem Post in September 2013 that Israel favored the Sunni extremists over Assad.

“The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc,” Oren told the Jerusalem Post in an interview. “We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” He said this was the case even if the “bad guys” were affiliated with al-Qaeda.

Saudi Arabia shares Israeli’s strategic view that “the Shiite crescent” must be broken and has thus developed a rapport with Netanyahu’s government in a kind of “enemy of my enemy is my friend” relationship. But some rank-and-file Jewish supporters of Israel have voiced concerns about Israel’s newfound alliance with the Saudi monarchy, especially given its adherence to ultraconservative Wahhabi Islam and its embrace of a fanatical hatred of Shiite Islam, a sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shiites that dates back 1,400 years.

Though President Obama has repeatedly declared his support for Israel, he has developed a contrary view from Netanyahu’s regarding what is the gravest danger in the Middle East. Obama considers the radical Sunni jihadists, associated with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, to be the biggest threat to Western interests and U.S. national security.

That has put him in a different de facto alliance – with Iran and the Syrian government – since they represent the strongest bulwarks against Sunni jihadists who have targeted Americans and other Westerners for death.

What Boehner doesn’t seem to understand is that Israel and Saudi Arabia have placed themselves on the side of the Sunni jihadists who now represent the frontline fight against the “Shiite crescent.” If Netanyahu succeeds in enlisting the United States in violently forcing Syrian “regime change,” the U.S. government likely would be facilitating the growth in power of the Sunni extremists, not containing them.


But the influential American neoconservatives want to synch U.S. foreign policy with Israel’s and thus have pressed for a U.S. bombing campaign against Assad’s forces (even if that would open the gates of Damascus to the Nusra Front or the Islamic State). The neocons also want an escalation of tensions with Iran by sabotaging an agreement to ensure that its nuclear program is not used for military purposes.

The neocons have long wanted to bomb-bomb-bomb Iran as part of their “regime change” strategy for the Middle East. That is why Obama’s openness to a permanent agreement for tight constraints on Iran’s nuclear program is seen as a threat by Netanyahu, the neocons and their congressional allies – because it would derail hopes for militarily attacking Iran.

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Obama made clear that he perceives the brutal Islamic State, which he calls “ISIL” for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, as the principal current threat to Western interests in the Middle East and the clearest terror threat to the United States and Europe. Obama proposed “a smarter kind of American leadership” that would cooperate with allies in “stopping ISIL’s advance” without “getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East.”


Working with Putin

Thus, Obama, who might be called a “closet realist,” is coming to the realization that the best hope for blocking the advances of Sunni jihadi terror and minimizing U.S. military involvement is through cooperation with Iran and its regional allies. That also puts Obama on the same side with Russian President Vladimir Putin who has faced Sunni terrorism in Chechnya and is supporting both Iran’s leaders and Syria’s Assad in their resistance to the Islamic State and al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front.

Obama’s “realist” alliance, in turn, presents a direct threat to Netanyahu’s insistence that Iran represents an “existential threat” to Israel and that the “Shiite crescent” must be destroyed. There is also fear among Israeli right-wingers that an effective Obama-Putin collaboration could ultimately force Israel into accepting a Palestinian state.

So, Netanyahu and the U.S. neocons believe they must do whatever is necessary to shatter this tandem of Obama, Putin and Iran. That is one reason why the neocons were at the forefront of fomenting “regime change” against Ukraine’s elected pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych last year. By splintering Ukraine on Russia’s border, the neocons drove a wedge between Obama and Putin. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Neocons’ Ukraine-Syria-Iran Gambit.”]

Even the slow-witted mainstream U.S. media has begun to pick up on the story of the emerging Israeli-Saudi alliance. In the Jan. 19 issue of Time magazine, correspondent Joe Klein noted the new coziness between top Israeli and Saudi officials.

He wrote: “On May 26, 2014, an unprecedented public conversation took place in Brussels. Two former high-ranking spymasters of Israel and Saudi Arabia – Amos Yadlin and Prince Turki al-Faisal – sat together for more than an hour, talking regional politics in a conversation moderated by the Washington Post’s David Ignatius.

“They disagreed on some things, like the exact nature of an Israel-Palestine peace settlement, and agreed on others: the severity of the Iranian nuclear threat, the need to support the new military government in Egypt, the demand for concerted international action in Syria. The most striking statement came from Prince Turki. He said the Arabs had ‘crossed the Rubicon’ and ‘don’t want to fight Israel anymore.’”

Not only did Prince Turki offer an olive branch to Israel, he indicated agreement on what the two countries consider their most pressing strategic interests: Iran’s nuclear program and Syria’s civil war. In other words, in noting this extraordinary meeting, Klein had stumbled upon the odd-couple alliance between Israel and Saudi Arabia – though he didn’t fully understand what he was seeing.

On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that Obama had shifted his position on Syria as the West made a “quiet retreat from its demand” that Assad “step down immediately.” The article by Anne Barnard and Somini Sengupta noted that the Obama administration still wanted Assad to exit eventually “but facing military stalemate, well-armed jihadists and the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, the United States is going along with international diplomatic efforts that could lead to more gradual change in Syria.”

    At the center of that diplomatic initiative was Russia, again reflecting Obama’s recognition of the need to cooperate with Putin on resolving some of these complex problems (although Obama did include in his speech some tough-guy rhetoric against Russia over Ukraine, taking some pleasure in how Russia’s economy is now “in tatters”).

    But the underlying reality is that the United States and Assad’s regime have become de facto allies, fighting on the same side in the Syrian civil war, much as Israel had, in effect, sided with al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front by killing Hezbollah and Iranian advisers to the Syrian military.

    The Times article noted that the shift in Obama’s position on Syrian peace talks “comes along with other American actions that Mr. Assad’s supporters and opponents take as proof Washington now believes that if Mr. Assad is ousted, there will be nothing to check the spreading chaos and extremism.

    “American planes now bomb the Islamic State group’s militants in Syria, sharing skies with Syrian jets. American officials assure Mr. Assad, through Iraqi intermediaries, that Syria’s military is not their target. The United States still trains and equips Syrian insurgents, but now mainly to fight the Islamic State, not the government.”

    Yet, as Obama adjusts U.S. foreign policy to take into account the complex realities in the Middle East, he now faces another front in this conflict – from the U.S. Congress, which has long been held in thrall by the Israel lobby.

    Not only has Speaker Boehner appealed to Netanyahu to deliver what amounts to a challenge to President Obama’s foreign policy but congressional neocons are even accusing Obama’s team of becoming Iranian stooges. Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, a Democratic neocon, said, “The more I hear from the administration and its quotes, the more it sounds like talking points that come straight out of Tehran.”

    If indeed Netanyahu does end up addressing a joint session of the U.S. Congress, its members would face a stark choice of either embracing Israel’s foreign policy as America’s or backing the decisions made by the elected President of the United States.

    ___________________________________________

    Precisely, and therefore the Boehner-Netanya hu arrangement is *illegal* by the simple *reason* of being obviously, and egregiously Unconstitutiona l.

    As Indian Weaver notes above, if the Justice Department and the White House bend over, lie down and accept *this* “rogering”, they deserve everything they get.

    And we, the American “observers” of Government, get a full shout out about the fact that Obama and Holder are COMPLICIT in this bullshit – simply demonstrated by their refusal to ENFORCE against a clearly cut violation of the U.S. Constitution.

    This Kabuki Theater that *IS* U.S. Government is really beginning to grow quite threadbare. It now takes nothing to “see through” all of the phony posturing.

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

    And Some of the Comments:

    +26 # nice2bgreat 2015-01-23 13:45
    .
    So Boehner is actually bringing a foreign leader into the — US — House of Representatives ‘ chamber? … to challenge the US President.

    Say it ain’t so, Joe.
    .

    +18 # nice2bgreat 2015-01-23 13:49
    .
    Or is it that this foreign leader will simply take the opportunity to challenge the President, even though he/she is in the US House of Representatives ‘ chamber?
    .

    +24 # ericlipps 2015-01-23 18:42
    Netanyahu is coming to Congress to give its new Republican members the opportunity to kiss his ring before he puts one through their noses. And of course to sound off against President Obama, something Republicans are always happy to hear someone do (they’d feel the same way if it were Bashir Assad)—but that’s just a bonus.

    +15 # X Dane 2015-01-23 19:52
    nice2bgreat.
    I am beyond furious. Why has nobody pointed out that Boehner and the republicans are TRAITORS. They are asking a warmongering prime minister of ANOTHER COUNTRY to dictate how we should conduct our foreign policy.

    This is what happens when so many in congress has dual citizenship with Israel. They do not grasp that they owe loyalty to USA …..NOT Israel.

    Traitors used to be thrown in jail and hanged for actions like this. Something is seriously wrong. And Netanyaho forgets who is propping up his country with BILLIONS annually.

    I can’t believe that Boehner is allowed to get away with this. It is sickening.

    -1 # wantrealdemocracy 2015-01-23 21:04
    I too am beyond furious! Our Congress is full of people who should be charged with TREASON!! Those corrupt creatures deserve to so charged and if guilty PUT TO DEATH!!

    The United States has no business to be sending billions of dollars and our armed forces to the Middle East. Day by day we are causing the growth of terrorist forces who have damn good reason to hate Americans. We are killing people day and night all over the Middle East. We sure as hell are not winning the hearts and minds of those people. We need to get the hell out and take care of our problems here at home. That money for the endless wars could be used to put Americans to work rebuilding our failing infrastructure.

    Don’t vote for anyone in Congress now. NO ONE! They are not working for us. They work for their Israeli paymasters.

    +3 # LGNTexas 2015-01-23 21:04
    Just another example of the racist reich-wing delegitimizing our first black president.

    +6 # Interested Observer 2015-01-23 19:52
    It will save the time usually spent getting our Mid-east policy translated from Hebrew.

    +34 # indian weaver 2015-01-23 14:35
    Hard to believe Boehner would do this – not. I think crass now amounts to treason, or sedition? Where is our worthless spineless AG now? Time for being cute is over. Attack Netanyahoo criminally, whatever it takes. Such is the state of the union – what union?

    +39 # MEBrowning 2015-01-23 18:20
    Yes! During Dubya’s presidency, the Republicans constantly harangued anybody they thought didn’t have “respect for the office of the president.” In other words, anyone who dared to criticize neocon chickenhawks who pandered to the 1% and ignored everybody else. Where’s their respect for the office of the president now? Hypocrites all.

    +14 # wrknight 2015-01-23 18:32
    With Republicans, loyalty trumps hypocrisy.

    +1 # randrjwr 2015-01-23 20:43
    Quoting wrknight:

    With Republicans, loyalty trumps hypocrisy.

    I presume you mean loyalty to Israel.

    +25 # wrknight 2015-01-23 18:30
    “Besides this extraordinary recognition of another country’s leader as the true definer of U.S. foreign policy, Boehner’s move reflects an ignorance of what is actually occurring on the ground in the Middle East.”

    Boehner’s ignorance extends far beyond foreign policy. In fact, one should question whether he is simply ignorant or just plain stupid.

    +20 # wrknight 2015-01-23 18:35
    Along with those who vote for him.

    +20 # fredboy 2015-01-23 18:33
    Makes you want to re-open the 9/11 and Iraq invasion investigations, doesn’t it? Sniff, sniff…

    +26 # fredboy 2015-01-23 18:34
    Get ready for a huge backfire if this happens. Putting both Israel and the GOP in the doghouse. Dumb bastards.

    +2 # randrjwr 2015-01-23 20:45
    Quoting fredboy:

    Get ready for a huge backfire if this happens. Putting both Israel and the GOP in the doghouse. Dumb bastards.

    I hope the doghouse has a big, tough lock on the door and a high fence topped with razor wire around it.

    +24 # Ausmar 2015-01-23 19:05
    Boehner’s action is despicable. He has snubbed the president, impaired his diplomatic efforts with Iran, and implicitly acknowledged the Congress subservience to the Israeli lobby. Clearly, by calling on Netanyahu, his aim is to put pressure on some hesitant, AIPAC intimidated Democrats to fall in line with right wing Israeli policy and thereby have enough votes to overcome a presidential veto on further immediate sanctions on Iran, thus opening the way to armed intervention in Iran alongside Israel. Hopefully, enough of the American people will support the president in expressing their disdain for this kind of devious, dangerous, and servile behavior by the US Congress, so as to put a strain on American-Israel i relations. It would be about time for the US to stop being a lackey of Israel.

    +12 # angelfish 2015-01-23 19:16
    WHO the Hell does Boehner think he IS? WHAT gives him the ability OR the right to invite foreigners to speak to our Congress? Murderous NAZI foreigners, at that? It smacks of subversion and outright TREASON! I am appalled at his lack of judgment in taking it upon himself to do this. My only hope is that this might be the beginning of the end of the ReTHUGlican Party. Sane Americans EVERYWHERE should rise up and demand that he be REMOVED as Speaker and that they search High and Low for a ReTHUGlican with Bat’s sense! I know it’s a stretch but there has GOT to be someone out there with a modicum of intellect and sense of decorum. God help us and save us from these intellectual defectives!

    +13 # NOMINAE 2015-01-23 19:34
    From the article : “The Boehner-Netanya hu arrangement demonstrates a mutual contempt for this President’s authority to conduct American foreign policy as prescribed by the U.S. Constitution.”
    ___________________________________________

    Precisely, and therefore the Boehner-Netanya hu arrangement is *illegal* by the simple *reason* of being obviously, and egregiously Unconstitutiona l.

    As Indian Weaver notes above, if the Justice Department and the White House bend over, lie down and accept *this* “rogering”, they deserve everything they get.

    And we, the American “observers” of Government, get a full shout out about the fact that Obama and Holder are COMPLICIT in this bullshit – simply demonstrated by their refusal to ENFORCE against a clearly cut violation of the U.S. Constitution.

    This Kabuki Theater that *IS* U.S. Government is really beginning to grow quite threadbare. It now takes nothing to “see through” all of the phony posturing.

    +10 # reiverpacific 2015-01-23 19:44
    Isn’t Mr “Cancer-bed-sun tan” Boner actually doing what he accused Obama of and wants to sue him for, as in “Overreaching his power” over the ACA, which actually helped a lot of people, it’s imperfections notwithstanding?
    All Nutty-Yahoo and his proto-Fascist and by default Rabidly Nationalist LIKUD party has done is press for “Israeli Exceptionalism” in committing attempted genocide, mass-murder, apartheid destruction of habitat and livelihood on a people forced to live in “The biggest open-air prison in the World”!
    They should both be locked up in the Abu-Grahib Country Club for delusional rogue leaders!

    0 # angelfish 2015-01-23 21:48
    Thank you reiverpacific, you are right ON the money!

    +1 # Paul Larudee 2015-01-23 20:18
    Can we commission a suitable crown that quickly?

    +2 # Activista 2015-01-23 20:19
    Great analysis and focus on the problem – this is essential – USA can NOT fight another war – can not afford it morally and economically.
    We are not helping Israel by solving their problems with neighbors by killing them.
    2014 killing of Gaza – 2140 Palestinians, mostly civilians – is direction where Netanyahu wants to go.
    Hope that people of Israel (and USA) wake up and stop this psychopath.

    +1 # Jayceecool 2015-01-23 20:31
    Does anyone else see the portents of a coup-de-etat here?

    +3 # jdd 2015-01-23 20:38
    While Boehner’s move is disgraceful, the bigger threat at this time if Obama’s quite open admission of financial warfare against Russia and his support for Unkrain’s assault on the Donbas region and intent to send advisors to the “National Guard.” Obama also made threatening statements against China. So while it is true that Obama realizes that he needs Russia’s help to defeat ISIS, he continues to threaten and harden relations with two of the world’s greatest nuclear powers.

    0 # Anonymot 2015-01-23 21:54
    Obama is not a foreign policy mind – he has none. The CIA dictates to him. His own policy advisors are all CIA oriented or simply stupid in the field of diplomacy.

    The last real foreign policy we had was Dick Cheney’s – who had a brain transplant as a boy. I think he got Palin’s.

    +2 # Shorey13 2015-01-23 20:43
    Boehner is both stupid and a traitor. He either doesn’t understand our democracy or chooses to violate it. Foreign policy is the province of the Executive Branch, with Congressional approval of Treaties, Wars and other formal matters. Boehner clearly has no interest in responsible governance.

    But, I was not really unhappy when the Republicans won the last election, because I like to see stupid, evil people given enough rope to hang themselves. The Republicans will be roundly defeated in 2016. You can bet on it.

    +1 # wantrealdemocracy 2015-01-23 21:14
    I hope they will be defeated but not by Democrats. The two corporate parties are equally bad. We need to follow the foot steps of Spain and Greece and form a new political party to represent the working people and throw the plutocrats out of our government. We don’t need endless wars and austerity. We need a government to serve the people of this nation and protect our mother the Earth. Down with this rotten government!

    0 # Saberoff 2015-01-23 21:14
    The world may well not last that long.

    0 # shgo 2015-01-23 21:36
    setting up for 2016 – hope it all backfires – on all these fools who purport to represent the people of this country. NONE OF THEM DO. They represent the corporate plutocracy. Maybe more of us will take to the streets, phones, legislators offices, and come together in a movement that says NO to all of it – but with a vision for social and economic justice for ALL!

    0 # Anonymot 2015-01-23 21:39
    All of this is historically normal. Mussolini invited Hitler to speak before the Italian parliament. Franco and Hitler were close allies in the Spanish Civil War. Fascists stick together. We and the CIA have always embraced dictators. So what’s new?

    I assume that Obama alone doesn’t have the power to shut off our payments to Israel.

    0 # CarolYost 2015-01-23 21:54
    I’m thrilled to see intelligent comments in relation to Israel, for once–no Zionists. Of course Boehner is stupid and treacherous. I would love it if, while Netanyahu’s away from his home, there was a coup d’etat in Israel and a good leader put in his place!–One who would work toward a single state for all, Jews, Palestinians, everybody, as there should have been all along. No Jewish state for Jews only. When you have a country set up on behalf of one religion or group, the results are ugly. The Holocaust taught us that.

    Yes, let’s rise up against the Boehner-Netanya hu fraud. And let’s end the US devotion to Israel once and for all. Buchanan was so right when he called Congress–what? –Israeli-occup ied territory.

    Refresh comments list

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

    Pincas Jawetz

    5:50 AM (5 minutes ago)

    to Uri, Uri
    Dear Uri

    IN CASE YOU DID NOT SEE THIS ALREADY – I THOUGHT IT MIGHT INTEREST YOU .

    Pincas

    from:  readersupportednews.org/opinion2/… January 23, 2015

    Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu with House Speaker John Boehner on Capitol Hill in Washington. (photo: AP)

    Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu with House Speaker John Boehner on Capitol Hill in Washington. (photo: AP)

    go to original article

    ALSO SEE: Obama to Netanyahu: Stop Pushing Congress Toward New Sanctions on Iran

    Congress Seeks Netanyahu’s Direction

    By Robert Parry, Consortium News

    23 January 15

    howing who some in Congress believe is the real master of U.S. foreign policy, House Speaker John Boehner has invited Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session and offer a rebuttal to President Barack Obama’s comments on world affairs in his State of the Union speech.

    Boehner made clear that Netanyahu’s third speech to a joint session of the U.S. Congress – scheduled for Feb. 11 – was meant to counter Obama’s assessments. “There is a serious threat in the world, and the President last night kind of papered over it,” Boehner said on Wednesday. “And the fact is that there needs to be a more serious conversation in America about how serious the threat is from radical Islamic jihadists and the threat posed by Iran.”

    The scheduling of Netanyahu’s speech caught the White House off-guard, since the Israeli prime minister had apparently not bothered to clear his trip with the administration. The Boehner-Netanyahu arrangement demonstrates a mutual contempt for this President’s authority to conduct American foreign policy as prescribed by the U.S. Constitution.

    In the past when Netanyahu has spoken to Congress, Republicans and Democrats have competed to show their devotion by quickly and frequently leaping to their feet to applaud almost every word out of the Israeli prime minister’s mouth. By addressing a joint session for a third time, Netanyahu would become only the second foreign leader to do so, joining British Prime Minister Winston Churchill who never used the platform to demean the policies of a sitting U.S. president.

    Besides this extraordinary recognition of another country’s leader as the true definer of U.S. foreign policy, Boehner’s move reflects an ignorance of what is actually occurring on the ground in the Middle East. Boehner doesn’t seem to realize that Netanyahu has developed what amounts to a de facto alliance with extremist Sunni forces in the region.

    Not only is Israel now collaborating behind the scenes with Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabist leadership but Israel has begun taking sides militarily in support of the Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in the Syrian civil war. A source familiar with U.S. intelligence information on Syria said Israel has a “non-aggression pact” with Nusra forces that control territory adjacent to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

    The quiet cooperation between Israel and al-Qaeda’s affiliate was further underscored on Sunday when Israeli helicopters attacked and killed advisers to the Syrian military from Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Iran. In other words, Israel has dispatched its forces into Syria to kill military personnel helping to fight al-Nusra. Iran later confirmed that one of its generals had died in the Israeli strike.

    Israel’s tangled alliances with Sunni forces have been taking shape over the past several years, as Israel and Saudi Arabia emerged as strange bedfellows in the geopolitical struggle against Shiite-ruled Iran and its allies in Iraq, Syria and southern Lebanon. Both Saudi and Israeli leaders have talked with growing alarm about this “Shiite crescent” stretching from Iran through Iraq and Syria to the Hezbollah strongholds in Lebanon.

    Favoring Sunni Extremists

    Senior Israelis have made clear they would prefer Sunni extremists to prevail in the Syrian civil war rather than President Bashar al-Assad, who is an Alawite, a branch of Shiite Islam. Assad’s relatively secular government is seen as the protector of Shiites, Christians and other minorities who fear the vengeful brutality of the Sunni jihadists who now dominate the anti-Assad rebels.

    In one of the most explicit expressions of Israel’s views, its Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, a close adviser to Netanyahu, told the Jerusalem Post in September 2013 that Israel favored the Sunni extremists over Assad.

    “The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc,” Oren told the Jerusalem Post in an interview. “We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” He said this was the case even if the “bad guys” were affiliated with al-Qaeda.

    Saudi Arabia shares Israeli’s strategic view that “the Shiite crescent” must be broken and has thus developed a rapport with Netanyahu’s government in a kind of “enemy of my enemy is my friend” relationship. But some rank-and-file Jewish supporters of Israel have voiced concerns about Israel’s newfound alliance with the Saudi monarchy, especially given its adherence to ultraconservative Wahhabi Islam and its embrace of a fanatical hatred of Shiite Islam, a sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shiites that dates back 1,400 years.

    Though President Obama has repeatedly declared his support for Israel, he has developed a contrary view from Netanyahu’s regarding what is the gravest danger in the Middle East. Obama considers the radical Sunni jihadists, associated with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, to be the biggest threat to Western interests and U.S. national security.

    That has put him in a different de facto alliance – with Iran and the Syrian government – since they represent the strongest bulwarks against Sunni jihadists who have targeted Americans and other Westerners for death.

    What Boehner doesn’t seem to understand is that Israel and Saudi Arabia have placed themselves on the side of the Sunni jihadists who now represent the frontline fight against the “Shiite crescent.” If Netanyahu succeeds in enlisting the United States in violently forcing Syrian “regime change,” the U.S. government likely would be facilitating the growth in power of the Sunni extremists, not containing them.

    But the influential American neoconservatives want to synch U.S. foreign policy with Israel’s and thus have pressed for a U.S. bombing campaign against Assad’s forces (even if that would open the gates of Damascus to the Nusra Front or the Islamic State). The neocons also want an escalation of tensions with Iran by sabotaging an agreement to ensure that its nuclear program is not used for military purposes.

    The neocons have long wanted to bomb-bomb-bomb Iran as part of their “regime change” strategy for the Middle East. That is why Obama’s openness to a permanent agreement for tight constraints on Iran’s nuclear program is seen as a threat by Netanyahu, the neocons and their congressional allies – because it would derail hopes for militarily attacking Iran.

    In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Obama made clear that he perceives the brutal Islamic State, which he calls “ISIL” for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, as the principal current threat to Western interests in the Middle East and the clearest terror threat to the United States and Europe. Obama proposed “a smarter kind of American leadership” that would cooperate with allies in “stopping ISIL’s advance” without “getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East.”

    Working with Putin

    Thus, Obama, who might be called a “closet realist,” is coming to the realization that the best hope for blocking the advances of Sunni jihadi terror and minimizing U.S. military involvement is through cooperation with Iran and its regional allies. That also puts Obama on the same side with Russian President Vladimir Putin who has faced Sunni terrorism in Chechnya and is supporting both Iran’s leaders and Syria’s Assad in their resistance to the Islamic State and al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front.

    Obama’s “realist” alliance, in turn, presents a direct threat to Netanyahu’s insistence that Iran represents an “existential threat” to Israel and that the “Shiite crescent” must be destroyed. There is also fear among Israeli right-wingers that an effective Obama-Putin collaboration could ultimately force Israel into accepting a Palestinian state.

    So, Netanyahu and the U.S. neocons believe they must do whatever is necessary to shatter this tandem of Obama, Putin and Iran. That is one reason why the neocons were at the forefront of fomenting “regime change” against Ukraine’s elected pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych last year. By splintering Ukraine on Russia’s border, the neocons drove a wedge between Obama and Putin. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Neocons’ Ukraine-Syria-Iran Gambit.”]

    Even the slow-witted mainstream U.S. media has begun to pick up on the story of the emerging Israeli-Saudi alliance. In the Jan. 19 issue of Time magazine, correspondent Joe Klein noted the new coziness between top Israeli and Saudi officials.

    He wrote: “On May 26, 2014, an unprecedented public conversation took place in Brussels. Two former high-ranking spymasters of Israel and Saudi Arabia – Amos Yadlin and Prince Turki al-Faisal – sat together for more than an hour, talking regional politics in a conversation moderated by the Washington Post’s David Ignatius.

    “They disagreed on some things, like the exact nature of an Israel-Palestine peace settlement, and agreed on others: the severity of the Iranian nuclear threat, the need to support the new military government in Egypt, the demand for concerted international action in Syria. The most striking statement came from Prince Turki. He said the Arabs had ‘crossed the Rubicon’ and ‘don’t want to fight Israel anymore.’”

    Not only did Prince Turki offer an olive branch to Israel, he indicated agreement on what the two countries consider their most pressing strategic interests: Iran’s nuclear program and Syria’s civil war. In other words, in noting this extraordinary meeting, Klein had stumbled upon the odd-couple alliance between Israel and Saudi Arabia – though he didn’t fully understand what he was seeing.

    On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that Obama had shifted his position on Syria as the West made a “quiet retreat from its demand” that Assad “step down immediately.” The article by Anne Barnard and Somini Sengupta noted that the Obama administration still wanted Assad to exit eventually “but facing military stalemate, well-armed jihadists and the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, the United States is going along with international diplomatic efforts that could lead to more gradual change in Syria.”

    At the center of that diplomatic initiative was Russia, again reflecting Obama’s recognition of the need to cooperate with Putin on resolving some of these complex problems (although Obama did include in his speech some tough-guy rhetoric against Russia over Ukraine, taking some pleasure in how Russia’s economy is now “in tatters”).

    But the underlying reality is that the United States and Assad’s regime have become de facto allies, fighting on the same side in the Syrian civil war, much as Israel had, in effect, sided with al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front by killing Hezbollah and Iranian advisers to the Syrian military.

    The Times article noted that the shift in Obama’s position on Syrian peace talks “comes along with other American actions that Mr. Assad’s supporters and opponents take as proof Washington now believes that if Mr. Assad is ousted, there will be nothing to check the spreading chaos and extremism.

    “American planes now bomb the Islamic State group’s militants in Syria, sharing skies with Syrian jets. American officials assure Mr. Assad, through Iraqi intermediaries, that Syria’s military is not their target. The United States still trains and equips Syrian insurgents, but now mainly to fight the Islamic State, not the government.”

    Yet, as Obama adjusts U.S. foreign policy to take into account the complex realities in the Middle East, he now faces another front in this conflict – from the U.S. Congress, which has long been held in thrall by the Israel lobby.

    Not only has Speaker Boehner appealed to Netanyahu to deliver what amounts to a challenge to President Obama’s foreign policy but congressional neocons are even accusing Obama’s team of becoming Iranian stooges. Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, a Democratic neocon, said, “The more I hear from the administration and its quotes, the more it sounds like talking points that come straight out of Tehran.”

    If indeed Netanyahu does end up addressing a joint session of the U.S. Congress, its members would face a stark choice of either embracing Israel’s foreign policy as America’s – or backing the decisions made by the elected President of the United States.
    __________________________________________

    And Some of the Comments:

    +26 # nice2bgreat 2015-01-23 13:45
    .
    So Boehner is actually bringing a foreign leader into the — US — House of Representatives ‘ chamber? … to challenge the US President.

    Say it ain’t so, Joe.

    +18 # nice2bgreat 2015-01-23 13:49
    .
    Or is it that this foreign leader will simply take the opportunity to challenge the President, even though he/she is in the US House of Representatives ‘ chamber?
    .

    +24 # ericlipps 2015-01-23 18:42
    Netanyahu is coming to Congress to give its new Republican members the opportunity to kiss his ring before he puts one through their noses. And of course to sound off against President Obama, something Republicans are always happy to hear someone do (they’d feel the same way if it were Bashir Assad)—but that’s just a bonus.

    +15 # X Dane 2015-01-23 19:52
    nice2bgreat.
    I am beyond furious. Why has nobody pointed out that Boehner and the republicans are TRAITORS. They are asking a warmongering prime minister of ANOTHER COUNTRY to dictate how we should conduct our foreign policy.

    This is what happens when so many in congress has dual citizenship with Israel. They do not grasp that they owe loyalty to USA …..NOT Israel.

    Traitors used to be thrown in jail and hanged for actions like this. Something is seriously wrong. And Netanyaho forgets who is propping up his country with BILLIONS annually.

    I can’t believe that Boehner is allowed to get away with this. It is sickening.

    -1 # wantrealdemocracy 2015-01-23 21:04
    I too am beyond furious! Our Congress is full of people who should be charged with TREASON!! Those corrupt creatures deserve to so charged and if guilty PUT TO DEATH!!

    The United States has no business to be sending billions of dollars and our armed forces to the Middle East. Day by day we are causing the growth of terrorist forces who have damn good reason to hate Americans. We are killing people day and night all over the Middle East. We sure as hell are not winning the hearts and minds of those people. We need to get the hell out and take care of our problems here at home. That money for the endless wars could be used to put Americans to work rebuilding our failing infrastructure.

    Don’t vote for anyone in Congress now. NO ONE! They are not working for us. They work for their Israeli paymasters.

    +3 # LGNTexas 2015-01-23 21:04
    Just another example of the racist reich-wing delegitimizing our first black president.

    +6 # Interested Observer 2015-01-23 19:52
    It will save the time usually spent getting our Mid-east policy translated from Hebrew.

    +39 # MEBrowning 2015-01-23 18:20
    Yes! During Dubya’s presidency, the Republicans constantly harangued anybody they thought didn’t have “respect for the office of the president.” In other words, anyone who dared to criticize neocon chickenhawks who pandered to the 1% and ignored everybody else. Where’s their respect for the office of the president now? Hypocrites all.

    +14 # wrknight 2015-01-23 18:32
    With Republicans, loyalty trumps hypocrisy.

    +1 # randrjwr 2015-01-23 20:43
    Quoting wrknight:

    With Republicans, loyalty trumps hypocrisy.

    I presume you mean loyalty to Israel.

    +25 # wrknight 2015-01-23 18:30
    “Besides this extraordinary recognition of another country’s leader as the true definer of U.S. foreign policy, Boehner’s move reflects an ignorance of what is actually occurring on the ground in the Middle East.”

    Boehner’s ignorance extends far beyond foreign policy. In fact, one should question whether he is simply ignorant or just plain stupid.

    +20 # wrknight 2015-01-23 18:35
    Along with those who vote for him.

    +20 # fredboy 2015-01-23 18:33
    Makes you want to re-open the 9/11 and Iraq invasion investigations, doesn’t it? Sniff, sniff…

    +26 # fredboy 2015-01-23 18:34
    Get ready for a huge backfire if this happens. Putting both Israel and the GOP in the doghouse. Dumb bastards.

    +2 # randrjwr 2015-01-23 20:45
    Quoting fredboy:

    Get ready for a huge backfire if this happens. Putting both Israel and the GOP in the doghouse. Dumb bastards.

    I hope the doghouse has a big, tough lock on the door and a high fence topped with razor wire around it.

    +24 # Ausmar 2015-01-23 19:05
    Boehner’s action is despicable. He has snubbed the president, impaired his diplomatic efforts with Iran, and implicitly acknowledged the Congress subservience to the Israeli lobby. Clearly, by calling on Netanyahu, his aim is to put pressure on some hesitant, AIPAC intimidated Democrats to fall in line with right wing Israeli policy and thereby have enough votes to overcome a presidential veto on further immediate sanctions on Iran, thus opening the way to armed intervention in Iran alongside Israel. Hopefully, enough of the American people will support the president in expressing their disdain for this kind of devious, dangerous, and servile behavior by the US Congress, so as to put a strain on American-Israel i relations. It would be about time for the US to stop being a lackey of Israel.

    +12 # angelfish 2015-01-23 19:16
    WHO the Hell does Boehner think he IS? WHAT gives him the ability OR the right to invite foreigners to speak to our Congress? Murderous NAZI foreigners, at that? It smacks of subversion and outright TREASON! I am appalled at his lack of judgment in taking it upon himself to do this. My only hope is that this might be the beginning of the end of the ReTHUGlican Party. Sane Americans EVERYWHERE should rise up and demand that he be REMOVED as Speaker and that they search High and Low for a ReTHUGlican with Bat’s sense! I know it’s a stretch but there has GOT to be someone out there with a modicum of intellect and sense of decorum. God help us and save us from these intellectual defectives!

    +13 # NOMINAE 2015-01-23 19:34
    From the article : “The Boehner-Netanyahu arrangement demonstrates a mutual contempt for this President’s authority to conduct American foreign policy as prescribed by the U.S. Constitution.”
    ___________________________________________

    Precisely, and therefore the Boehner-Netanya hu arrangement is *illegal* by the simple *reason* of being obviously, and egregiously Unconstitutional.

    As Indian Weaver notes above, if the Justice Department and the White House bend over, lie down and accept *this* “rogering”, they deserve everything they get.

    And we, the American “observers” of Government, get a full shout out about the fact that Obama and Holder are COMPLICIT in this bullshit – simply demonstrated by their refusal to ENFORCE against a clearly cut violation of the U.S. Constitution.

    This Kabuki Theater that *IS* U.S. Government is really beginning to grow quite threadbare. It now takes nothing to “see through” all of the phony posturing.

    +10 # reiverpacific 2015-01-23 19:44
    Isn’t Mr “Cancer-bed-sun tan” Boner actually doing what he accused Obama of and wants to sue him for, as in “Overreaching his power” over the ACA, which actually helped a lot of people, it’s imperfections notwithstanding?
    All Nutty-Yahoo and his proto-Fascist and by default Rabidly Nationalist LIKUD party has done is press for “Israeli Exceptionalism” in committing attempted genocide, mass-murder, apartheid destruction of habitat and livelihood on a people forced to live in “The biggest open-air prison in the World”!
    They should both be locked up in the Abu-Grahib Country Club for delusional rogue leaders!

    0 # angelfish 2015-01-23 21:48
    Thank you reiverpacific, you are right ON the money!

    +1 # Paul Larudee 2015-01-23 20:18
    Can we commission a suitable crown that quickly?

    +2 # Activista 2015-01-23 20:19
    Great analysis and focus on the problem – this is essential – USA can NOT fight another war – can not afford it morally and economically.
    We are not helping Israel by solving their problems with neighbors by killing them.
    2014 killing of Gaza – 2140 Palestinians, mostly civilians – is direction where Netanyahu wants to go.
    Hope that people of Israel (and USA) wake up and stop this psychopath.

    +1 # Jayceecool 2015-01-23 20:31
    Does anyone else see the portents of a coup-de-etat here?

    +3 # jdd 2015-01-23 20:38
    While Boehner’s move is disgraceful, the bigger threat at this time if Obama’s quite open admission of financial warfare against Russia and his support for Unkrain’s assault on the Donbas region and intent to send advisors to the “National Guard.” Obama also made threatening statements against China. So while it is true that Obama realizes that he needs Russia’s help to defeat ISIS, he continues to threaten and harden relations with two of the world’s greatest nuclear powers.

    0 # Anonymot 2015-01-23 21:54
    Obama is not a foreign policy mind – he has none. The CIA dictates to him. His own policy advisors are all CIA oriented or simply stupid in the field of diplomacy.

    The last real foreign policy we had was Dick Cheney’s – who had a brain transplant as a boy. I think he got Palin’s.

    +2 # Shorey13 2015-01-23 20:43
    Boehner is both stupid and a traitor. He either doesn’t understand our democracy or chooses to violate it. Foreign policy is the province of the Executive Branch, with Congressional approval of Treaties, Wars and other formal matters. Boehner clearly has no interest in responsible governance.

    But, I was not really unhappy when the Republicans won the last election, because I like to see stupid, evil people given enough rope to hang themselves. The Republicans will be roundly defeated in 2016. You can bet on it.

    +1 # wantrealdemocracy 2015-01-23 21:14
    I hope they will be defeated but not by Democrats. The two corporate parties are equally bad. We need to follow the foot steps of Spain and Greece and form a new political party to represent the working people and throw the plutocrats out of our government. We don’t need endless wars and austerity. We need a government to serve the people of this nation and protect our mother the Earth. Down with this rotten government!

    0 # Saberoff 2015-01-23 21:14
    The world may well not last that long.

    0 # shgo 2015-01-23 21:36
    setting up for 2016 – hope it all backfires – on all these fools who purport to represent the people of this country. NONE OF THEM DO. They represent the corporate plutocracy. Maybe more of us will take to the streets, phones, legislators offices, and come together in a movement that says NO to all of it – but with a vision for social and economic justice for ALL!

    Refresh comments list

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###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 23rd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 www.theguardian.com/sustainable-b…

Head of UN climate talks: ‘the pain in the shoe is not great enough’ for businesses to take action.

Businesses have a fundamental role to play in securing a climate deal, Christiana Figueres says, but don’t yet feel immediately threatened by the situation

World Bank chief makes climate action plea
Al Gore: ‘oil companies use our atmosphere as an open sewer’
World leaders failing on ‘social cohesion’

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, says “we all have a responsibility to the future”.

Thursday 22 January 2015 – By Jo Confino in Davos

Christiana Figueres, who heads up the global climate change talks, was visibly moved as she urged business leaders to take action to avoid runaway climate change at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos on Thursday.

“This is the first generation that is becoming aware of what we have done, because the previous generation had no clue,” said the executive director of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. “We can’t blame them, we can’t blame ourselves because we’ve been put in this situation, but we do have a responsibility to do something about it and not to pass it on to the next generation.”

Looking at her daughter sitting nearby, Figueres’ eyes well up. Her desire to secure a meaningful climate deal later this year in Paris is clearly as much a personal concern as a global one.

While it is incumbent on the world’s politicians to secure a deal, it’s apparent they need help: just yesterday, the US Senate failed to pass resolutions acknowledging that climate change is the result of human activity. The private sector can play a pivotal role in giving politicians the confidence to act, Figueres said.

US tech giants launch fierce fightback against global tax avoidance crackdown.

“I don’t think anybody can question the fact the role of business is fundamental, independently of [on] what side of the spectrum business stands,” she said.

Engagement from the private sector, Figueres says, needs to come in three forms: vision, action and voice.

Vision is about business leaders understanding the consequence of climate change for their companies and ensuring they align their operations with staying within a 2C rise in global temperatures.

Executives then need to think through what they need from governments at both national and international level in order to pursue that path.

“This is about vision, not short-termism,” Figueres said. “It’s not just about energy efficiency measures today, which represents only a tiny, tiny little first step. It’s about starting there but then understanding where we have to be over the next 50 years.”

Once companies have a clear destination, they need to focus on closing the distance between where they are now and where they want to be, she says. The final step is to become much more vocal about the need for transformational action.

“It is no secret that we have a very small number of corporations that are being very vocal, and that there’s a huge number of companies – the silent majority – that are not participating in this discussion and are not engaging with governments with respect to the very clear guidance and regulatory certainty that they need,” she said.

Figueres believes the lack of advocacy by companies is due to the fact that most of them still do not feel immediately threatened by climate change. In a PwC survey this week, global warming didn’t even make the list of CEO’s top priorities or concerns.
‘It is profitable to let the world go to hell’

But Figueres warns that if executives continue to focus only on what’s in front of their noses, they will put their companies’ long-term survival at risk.

They can see that in the long run, having a stable planet and economic system is actually better for them in their operations and their business continuity, and that there is a huge opportunity for growth and for new profit, for new jobs, new industries and new technologies,” she said.

“But that is not compelling enough to actually have the CEO get up there and use his voice and leadership because the pain in the shoe is not enough. There is this abstract sense of yeah, we all want to be better off, but maybe somebody else should be doing something about that. In the meantime, I have my payroll to worry about.

Whereas those companies that are very active and do have a voice perceive that they’re immediately threatened.”

Businesses, regardless of their size, have largely failed to look deeply at the impacts of fossil fuels, she said: “They just use electricity and that’s the sum total of their engagement in this process.”

Despite the need for more action, Figueres said she was heartened by the number of major businesses that attended the climate change summit in New York last year, and in particular by the engagement by whole sectors, such as insurers and more progressive sections of the investment industry.

There has also been a sea change in the attitude from governments about the need to collaborate with the private sector.

“There has been quite an evolution in the understanding of the very positive contribution that the private sector can make,” she says. “I remember when I got to the secretariat five years ago that the private sector was a taboo word that never would have appeared in any text of governments. Yet now you have the text actually inviting quite openly the participation of corporations.

She acknowledged that there’s still a long way to go in what she calls “an evolutionary process”. But with just 10 months to go before the Paris talks open, Figueres also recognised the need for urgent action and referred to having a time bomb on our hands.
How concerned are CEOs about climate change? Not at all
Read more

When one strips everything away, Figueres says that what business leaders need to do most is get in touch with their common humanity.

We speak of business as though there was a head there, a thinking brain, and that’s not so,” she says. “We have a role to play in life, whether that is being the head of a Fortune 500 company, or being a junior professional in an NGO, and we must step up to those roles.

“However, what cuts across all of those differences is the fact that we’re all human beings, all of us, and we all are either parents or aunts and uncles or grandparents and we all have a responsibility to the future.”

This year’s Davos coverage is funded by The B Team. All content is editorially independent except for pieces labelled “brought to you by”.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 19th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times

The Keystone XL Illusion

January 16, 2015

by: Joe Nocera


Joe Nocera writes: Greg Rickford, Canada’s minister of natural resources, was in the United States most of this past week, on a trip that didn’t get much attention in the media with so much bigger news swirling about. So let me fill you in.

Rickford spent the first two days of his trip in Washington, where of course debate over the controversial Keystone XL pipeline is underway in earnest in the new Republican-led Senate. The Republican-led House, meanwhile, has already passed a bill giving the go-ahead to the pipeline, which, if it’s ever built, will transport heavy crude from the tar sands of Alberta to American refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. And of course President Obama has threatened to veto any such bill, should one land on his desk.

In Washington, Rickford met with his Obama administration counterpart, Ernest Moniz, the secretary of energy. Although the Keystone pipeline was not on the agenda, the two men talked about it anyway. Rickford paid a visit to Heidi Heitkamp, the Democratic senator from North Dakota, who strongly supports the Keystone pipeline. (In addition to the Alberta crude, the pipeline would transport shale oil from North Dakota.)

He met with State Department officials to get a Keystone update; because the pipeline would cross the U.S.-Canada border, the department has to do a review, which it has done several times, always coming down in favor of the project. In several speeches, Rickford talked up the close energy relationship between the United States and Canada, noting that Canada sends three million barrels per day to America — more than Venezuela and Saudi Arabia combined. He mentioned Canada’s new pipeline safety law. He said he thought the Keystone XL pipeline should be approved, which is essentially what Canadian officials have been saying for the past six years.

Then on Wednesday, Rickford went to Texas for two days. This is the part of his trip that really caught my attention. His main focus in Texas was on two new Canadian-controlled pipelines that became operational in mid-December. One is called the Flanagan South pipeline, which cost $2.8 billion. It covers nearly 600 miles, from Pontiac, Ill., to Cushing, Okla. The other pipeline, called the Seaway Twin, runs an additional 500 miles, from Cushing to Freeport, Tex., where the refineries are. It cost $1.2 billion. Guess where some of the oil that is going to run through those pipelines is coming from? Yep — the tar sands of Alberta.

If you are wondering why the environmental community hasn’t been chaining itself to the White House fence to protest these two new pipelines, the way it has with Keystone, the answer is that neither of these pipelines crosses the Canadian border, so they don’t require the same complicated approval process that Keystone requires. (The Flanagan South line will connect with a pipeline that already crosses the border.) More to the point, perhaps, they were never the symbol that the high-profile Keystone XL became, so that even the approvals they did require never aroused the same attention from environmentalists.

Yet these new pipelines are going to be carrying some 200,000 barrels per day of the heavy crude mined from the tar sands. True, that is only a third of what the Keystone XL would be able to deliver, but it essentially helps double the amount of tar sands oil that can be exported to the United States. In addition, there will be expanded rail capacity for Alberta’s oil, which is a far more dangerous way to move it than a state-of-the-art pipeline.

The point is: With or without Keystone, Canada’s tar sands oil is coming to the United States. One of the stated reasons that environmental activists wanted to prevent Keystone from being built was that doing so would force Canada to stop mining the oil. Without Keystone, it was said, Canada would have no means to export it. But that has never been a particularly plausible argument. Even before the opening of these two new pipelines, tar sands oil was coming to the United States, primarily by rail. Indeed, the only thing that can slow it down now is the rapid drop in the price of oil, which is likely to make expensive tar sands crude unprofitable.

Even as the Keystone debate reaches its current crescendo, all that is left, really, is the symbolism. The Republican right claims that Keystone will create jobs. It won’t, not to any significant degree. The Democratic left says that the oil Keystone will bring to the Gulf is so dirty, so carbon laden, that it will wreak havoc on the climate. It won’t do that either. If the president ultimately decides not to approve Keystone, he will do so knowing full well that he has not stopped the tar sands oil in any meaningful way. To expect another outcome is, well, a pipe dream. It always was.

Some Comments:

Why not refine the oil in Canada or a northern US state? Is building a pipeline to Texas the best option? I realize that the pipeline to…
Campesino
2 hours ago

Thank you for telling the truth that I and other commenters have been saying on other articles on this subject. If this oil doesn’t come in…
Fitzcaraldo
2 hours ago

Do I think we need to make a concerted effort to reduce carbon pollution? Absolutely. And methane too.Do I think scuppering the XL pipeline…

——————————-

OUR QUESTION IS – WHY DO THE CANADIANS NOT FOLLOW THEIR OWN INTERESTS AND BUILD THEIR PIPELINES TO THE WEST RATHER THEN TO THE SOUTH?

THE ANSWER IS VERY SIMPLE – THESE ARE NOT CANADIANS – THESE ARE THE AMERICAN OIL PEOPLE – AND FOLKS – WASHINGTON JUST CANNOT BEAT AMERICAN OIL INTERESTS!

——————————
A version of this op-ed appears in print on January 17, 2015, on page A17 of the New York edition with the headline: The Keystone XL Illusion.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 18th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

SundayReview | Op-Ed Columnis, at The New York Times

Smart Guns Save Lives. So Where Are They?

January 17, 2015 by Nichoals Kristof

BOULDER, Colo. — JUST after Christmas, Veronica Rutledge of Blackfoot, Idaho, took her 2-year-old son to a Walmart store to spend holiday gift cards. As they strolled by the electronics section, according to news reports, the toddler reached into his mom’s purse and pulled out a handgun that she legally carried. He pulled the trigger once and killed her.

The previous month, a 3-year-old boy in Washington State was shot in the face by a 4-year-old. Earlier, a 2-year-old boy in Pennsylvania shot and killed his 11-year-old sister.

About 20 children and teenagers are shot daily in the United States, according to a study by the journal Pediatrics.

Indeed, guns kill more preschool-age children (about 80 a year) than police officers (about 50), according to the F.B.I. and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This toll is utterly unnecessary, for the technology to make childproof guns goes back more than a century.

Beginning in the 1880s, Smith & Wesson (whose gun was used in the Walmart killing) actually sold childproof handguns that required a lever to be depressed as the trigger was pulled.

“No ordinary child under 8 years of age can possibly discharge it,” Smith & Wesson boasted at the time, and it sold half-a-million of these guns, but, today, it no longer offers that childproof option.

Doesn’t it seem odd that your cellphone can be set up to require a PIN or a fingerprint, but there’s no such option for a gun?

Which brings us to Kai Kloepfer, a lanky 17-year-old high school senior in Boulder, Colo. After the cinema shooting in nearby Aurora, Kloepfer decided that for a science fair project he would engineer a “smart gun” that could be fired only by an authorized user.

“I started with iris recognition, and that seemed a good idea until you realize that many people firing guns wear sunglasses,” Kloepfer recalls. “So I moved on to fingerprints.”

Kloepfer designed a smart handgun that fires only when a finger it recognizes is on the grip. More than 1,000 fingerprints can be authorized per gun, and Kloepfer says the sensor is 99.999 percent accurate.

A child can’t fire the gun. Neither can a thief — important here in a country in which more than 150,000 guns are stolen annually.

Kloepfer’s design won a grand prize in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Then he won a $50,000 grant from the Smart Tech Challenges Foundation to refine the technology. By the time he enters college in the fall (he applied early to Stanford and has been deferred), he hopes to be ready to license the technology to a manufacturer.

There are other approaches to smart guns. The best known, the Armatix iP1, made by a German company and available in the United States through a complicated online procedure, can be fired only if the shooter is wearing a companion wristwatch.

The National Rifle Association seems set against smart guns, apparently fearing that they might become mandatory.

One problem has been an unfortunate 2002 New Jersey law stipulating that three years after smart guns are available anywhere in the United States, only smart guns can be sold in the state. The attorney general’s office there ruled recently that the Armatix smart gun would not trigger the law, but the provision has still led gun enthusiasts to bully dealers to keep smart guns off the market everywhere in the U.S.

Opponents of smart guns say that they aren’t fully reliable. Some, including Kloepfer’s, will need batteries to be recharged once a year or so. Still, if Veronica Rutledge had had one in her purse in that Idaho Walmart, her son wouldn’t have been able to shoot and kill her.

“Smart guns are going to save lives,” says Stephen Teret, a gun expert at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “They’re not going to save all lives, but why wouldn’t we want to make guns as safe a consumer product as possible?”

David Hemenway, a public health expert at Harvard, says that the way forward is for police departments or the military to buy smart guns, creating a market and proving they work.

An interfaith group of religious leaders is also appealing to gun industry leaders, ahead of the huge annual trade show in Las Vegas with 65,000 attendees, to drop opposition to smart guns.


Smart guns aren’t a panacea. But when even a 17-year-old kid can come up with a safer gun, why should the gun lobby be so hostile to the option of purchasing one?

Something is amiss when we protect our children from toys that they might swallow, but not from firearms. So Veronica Rutledge is dead, and her son will grow up with the knowledge that he killed her — and we all bear some responsibility when we don’t even try to reduce the carnage.

———————–

Some Comments:

serban
14 minutes ago

A smart gun goes against everything the NRA stands for, mainly ensuring that even a 2 year old should be able to fire a gun. How else is…

Katie 1
28 minutes ago

Why would this not be refined and immediately endorsed by everyone with effect as soon as possible? After the spate of mass killings and…
tom
32 minutes ago

We have, in this country, long ago accepted the premise that a line in the constitution makes the unhindered proliferation of weaponry a must.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 18th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The following is an article that questions indirectly the concept that what the West called the Arab Spring and supported in terms that viewed those revolutions as moves towards democracy, were in major part nothing more then a way of putting extremist religion into politics. Nasser wanted to lead an Arab World – Sisi seems to be content to lead a more pluralistic Egypt. After the Paris events, ought not the West realistically line up now behind Sisi?

————————————————


Brushing Aside Media Criticism, Egypt’s Sisi Preaches Tolerance

by Raymond Ibrahim
PJ Media, January 13, 2015
 www.meforum.org/4978/egypt-sisi-t…

Sisi made history as the first Egyptian president to enter a church during Christmas mass.

Originally published under the title, “Sisi’s Brave New Egypt?”

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi with Coptic Pope Tawadros II on Christmas Day

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi continues to be the antithesis of longstanding mainstream media portrayals of him.

First there was his historic speech where he, leader of the largest Arab nation, and a Muslim, accused Islamic thinking of being the scourge of humanity—in words that no Western leader would dare utter. This remarkable speech—which some say should earn him the Nobel Peace Prize—might have fallen by the wayside had it not been posted on my website and further disseminated by PJ Media’s Roger L. Simon, Michael Ledeen, Roger Kimball, and many others, including Bruce Thornton and Robert Spencer.

Instead, mainstream media headlines on the day of and days after Sisi’s speech included “Egypt President Sisi urged to free al-Jazeera reporter” (BBC, Jan 1), “Egyptian gays living in fear under Sisi regime” (USA Today, Jan. 2), and “George Clooney’s wife Amal risks arrest in Egypt” (Fox News, Jan. 3).

Of course, the mainstream media finally did report on Sisi’s speech—everyone else seemed to know about it—but, again, to portray Sisi in a negative light. Thus, after briefly quoting the Egyptian president’s call for a “religious revolution,” the New York Times immediately adds:

Others, though, insist that the sources of the violence are alienation and resentment, not theology. They argue that the authoritarian rulers of Arab states — who have tried for decades to control Muslim teaching and the application of Islamic law — have set off a violent backlash expressed in religious ideas and language.

In other words, jihadi terror is a product of Sisi, whom the NYT habitually portrays as an oppressive autocrat—especially for his attempts to try to de-radicalize Muslim sermons and teachings.

Next, Sisi went to the St. Mark Coptic Cathedral during Christmas Eve Mass to offer Egypt’s Christian minority his congratulations and well wishing. Here again he made history as the first Egyptian president to enter a church during Christmas mass—a thing vehemently criticized by the nation’s Islamists, including the Salafi party (Islamic law bans well wishing to non-Muslims on their religious celebrations, which is why earlier presidents—Nasser, Sadat, Mubarak, and of course Morsi—never attended Christmas mass).

Accordingly, the greetings Sisi received from the hundreds of Christians present were jubilant. His address was often interrupted by applause, clapping, and cheers of “We love you!” and “hand in hand”—phrases he reciprocated.

Part of his speech follows:


Egypt has brought a humanistic and civilizing message to the world for millennia and we’re here today to confirm that we are capable of doing so again. Yes, a humanistic and civilizing message should once more emanate from Egypt. This is why we mustn’t call ourselves anything other than “Egyptians.” This is what we must be—Egyptians, just Egyptians, Egyptians indeed! I just want to tell you that Allah willing, Allah willing, we shall build our nation together, accommodate each other, make room for each other, and we shall like each other—love each other, love each other in earnest, so that people may see… So let me tell you once again, Happy New Year, Happy New Year to you all, Happy New Year to all Egyptians!

Sisi stood side-by-side with Coptic Christian Pope Tawadros II—perhaps in remembrance of the fact that, when General Sisi first overthrew President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, Pope Tawadros stood side-by-side with him—and paid a heavy price: the Brotherhood and its sympathizers unleashed a Kristallnacht of “reprisals” that saw 82 Christian churches in Egypt attacked, many destroyed.

Under Sisi, Egyptian police have vigorously defended Coptic Christian churches and businesses from Islamist attacks.

It is also significant to recall where Sisi came to offer his well-wishing to the Christians: the St. Mark Cathedral—Coptic Christianity’s most sacred church which, under Muhammad Morsi was, for the first time in its history, savagely attacked, by both Islamists and the nation’s security (the article shows pictures here).

Once again, all of this has either been ignored or underplayed by most mainstream media.

There is, of course, a reason the mainstream media, which apparently follows the Obama administration’s lead, has been unkind to Sisi. One will recall that, although Sisi led the largest revolution in world history—a revolution that saw tens of millions take to the streets and ubiquitous signs and banners calling on U.S. President Obama and U.S. ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson to stop supporting terrorism (i.e., the Brotherhood)—U.S. leadership, followed by media, spoke only of a “military coup” against a “democratically elected president,” without pointing out that this president was pushing a draconian, Islamist agenda on millions who rejected it.

That Sisi would criticize the Muslim world and Islamic texts and thinking — a big no-no for Muslim leaders — is unprecedented.

So what is the significance of all this—of Sisi? First, on the surface, all of this is positive. That Sisi would criticize the Muslim world and Islamic texts and thinking—in ways his Western counterparts could never—and then continue his “controversial” behavior by entering the Coptic Christian cathedral during Christmas mass to offer his greetings to Christians—a big no-no for Muslim leaders—is unprecedented. Nor can all this be merely for show. In the last attac
k on a Coptic church, it was two Muslim police officers guarding the church who died—not the Christian worshippers inside—a rarity.

That Sisi remains popular in Egypt also suggests that a large percentage of Egyptians approve of his behavior. Recently, for instance, after the Paris attacks, Amru Adib, host of Cairo Today, made some extremely critical comments concerning fellow Muslims/Egyptians, including by asking them “Are you, as Muslims, content with the fact that today we are all seen as terrorists by the world?… We [Egyptians] used to bring civilization to the world, today what? — We are barbarians! Barbarians I tell you!”

That said, the others are still there—the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafis, those whom we call “Islamists,” and their many sympathizers and allies.

Worst of all, they have that “corpus of [Islamic] texts and ideas” that has been “sacralized over the centuries” (to use Sisi’s own words) to support them—texts and ideas that denounce Sisi as an “apostate” deserving of death, and thus promising a continued struggle for the soul of Egypt.

——————————————————
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and a CBN News contributor. He is the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007).

Related To

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 5th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Crude Oil Dips Under $50 A Barrel, A Price Last Seen In 2009.
January 05, 2015

The price for a barrel of U.S. oil benchmark West Texas Intermediate fell below $50 Monday, matching levels seen in the spring of 2009. The drop is linked to both OPEC’s boosted production and a stronger dollar.

Oil’s latest fall came along with a dip on Wall Street, as the Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 330 points to finish at 17,501 — a drop of 1.86 percent that’s also seen as a reaction to new instability in Europe.

Petroleum has been in a free fall: In the U.S., the average cost for a gallon of regular gasoline has fallen from above $3.60 to below $2.20 since June, according to AAA.

The sharp drop has come as OPEC member nations seek to protect their market share by raising production levels to undercut profits for U.S. oil companies.

Both Iraq and Russia are now producing crude at record levels, as Bloomberg News reports.


“People are thinking about promises from OPEC, mostly Saudi Arabia, that they’ll continue to produce at very high levels,” TD Securities commodity strategy chief Bart Melek tells Agence France-Presse. “On the demand side of the equation, what we’re getting is basically a lack of demand growth … as Europe is potentially in crisis.”

The cheaper oil and gas prices come along with a surging dollar, which reached a nine-year high against the euro earlier Monday.

As Krishnadev reported for the Two-Way, the reasons for that gain include renewed instability in Greece and the possibility that the European Central Bank “could introduce quantitative easing to stimulate the eurozone.”

For many in the American oil industry, a central question has been whether companies can keep developing oil fields, even as the financial incentive to do so keeps shrinking.

As the industry site Fuel Fix notes today, the number of working U.S. oil rigs has fallen more in the past two weeks than in any similar period since 2009.

“The number of rigs operating in the United States declined by 29 last week to 1,811,” the site reports, “marking the fourth consecutive weekly decrease for the U.S. count, published by oil field services company Baker Hughes.”

—————

The euro fell by 1.2% against the dollar to $1.1864, marking its weakest level since March 2006, before recovering slightly to $1.19370.

The drop follows ECB president Mario Draghi’s comments indicating the bank could soon start quantitative easing.

Greek political turmoil also weighed on the currency.

Although the ECB has already cut interest rates to a record low level, and also bought some bonds issued by private companies, a full-scale programme of quantitative easing QE has not yet been launched.

But on Friday, Mr Draghi hinted in a newspaper interview that the bank might soon start a policy of QE by buying government bonds, thus copying its counterparts in the UK and US.

The purpose would be to inject cash into the banking system, stimulate the economy and push prices higher.

Speaking in an interview with the German newspaper Handelsblatt, Mr Draghi said: “We are making technical preparations to alter the size, pace and composition of our measures in early 2015.”
Greek turmoil

Political turmoil in Greece also weighed on the euro, with fears that the general election on 25 January, could see the anti-austerity, left-wing Syriza party take control of the country.

The possibility has sparked fears about whether Greece will stick to the terms of its international bailout and stay in the eurozone.

On Saturday, Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine said the German government believes the eurozone would be able to cope with a Greek “exit” from the euro, if the Syriza party wins the Greek election.

Reacting to Der Spiegel’s report, a spokesman for German Chancellor Merkel said there was no change in German policy and the government expects Greece to fulfil its obligations under the EU, ECB and IMF bailout.

French president Francois Hollande also commented, saying it was now “up to the Greeks” to decide whether to remain a part of the single currency.

“Europe cannot continue to be identified by austerity,” he added, suggesting that the eurozone needs to focus more on growth than reducing its deficit.

Analysts said the euro was likely to remain volatile for the next few weeks.

“The market is readying itself for action from the ECB. The first meeting of the year takes place on 22nd January, so the euro is likely to remain in focus and see heightened volatility as we approach that date, which is also a few days before the Greek General Election,” said FxPro senior analyst Angus Campbell.

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We go back to our base – the question what all this means to the answer of Clean Energy from Renewable Sources and Energy Independence in all parts of the World?

Our answer is that we are still optimists – now as the “Internet of Things” and our “Super-Connectivity” a la Rifkin – that we just posted – will help us get away from the reliance on fossil fuels. It seems thus that Russia may work in its best long term interest by squandering now its oil resources. I would not say that they do this because they have that foresight.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 5th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

In New York City – a Window of the US at the Start of 2015


The Mayor and the Police – By David Remnick, The New Yorker,

re-posted from readersupportednews.org/opinion2/…

04 January 2014

In 1960, James Baldwin, the American Orwell, wrote “Fifth Avenue, Uptown: A Letter from Harlem,” an essay that portrayed the ugly dynamic between white police officers and young black men in the neighborhood where he grew up:

Rare, indeed, is the Harlem citizen, from the most circumspect church member to the most shiftless adolescent, who does not have a long tale to tell of police incompetence, injustice, or brutality. I myself have witnessed and endured it more than once. . . . It is hard, on the other hand, to blame the policeman, blank, good-natured, thoughtless, and insuperably innocent, for being such a perfect representative of the people he serves. He, too, believes in good intentions and is astounded and offended when they are not taken for the deed. He has never, himself, done anything for which to be hated––which of us has?––and yet he is facing, daily and nightly, people who would gladly see him dead, and he knows it. There is no way for him not to know it: there are few things under heaven more unnerving than the silent, accumulating contempt and hatred of a people.

To contemporary readers, such a passage may seem a relic of a harsh past. Baldwin’s essay predates so many advances, including the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. The New York Police Department’s rank and file is no longer majority white. Crime rates are lower than they have been in decades. An African-American was elected President in 2008 and appointed an African-American to be the chief law-enforcement official in the land. American audiences go to see “Selma,” get teary-eyed, and think how far we’ve come. The temptation is to suppose that Baldwin has long since lost all relevance. Why, then, does the President gently remind us that if he had a son he’d look like Trayvon Martin? And why does the Attorney General say we are a “nation of cowards” when it comes to the discussion of race?

On January 3rd, a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict Daniel Pantaleo, an N.Y.P.D. officer, on any charge related to the homicide-by-asphyxiation, in July, of an African-American man named Eric Garner. New York’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, commented on the grand jury’s decision. He spoke with unapologetic honesty about the failure of the judicial system. He anticipated, and tacitly endorsed, peaceful protest, “the only thing that has ever worked” to advance social justice in America. And he spoke personally, saying that he and his wife, Chirlane, have had “the talk” with their son, Dante, about “the dangers he may face” on the street as a young man of color:

I’ve had to worry over the years, Chirlane’s had to worry. Is Dante safe each night? There are so many families in this city who feel that each and every night. Is my child safe? And not just from some of the painful realities—crime and violence in some of our neighborhoods—but are they safe from the very people they want to have faith in as their protectors?

De Blasio then echoed one of the most resonant lines heard since the protests began last summer in Ferguson, Missouri. “It’s a phrase that should never have to be said,” he insisted. “It should be self-evident. But our history, sadly, requires us to say that black lives matter.”

The demonstrations that followed were almost entirely peaceful. There were instances of protesters shouting despicable slogans, but those instances were isolated and rare. Most police officers showed no more disrespect to de Blasio and the protesters than de Blasio and the protesters had shown to them. The truth is that both protest and argument, conducted peacefully and with decency, can have the effect of easing the long-running tension between the police and the policed and bringing about the kind of change that is needed. The “techniques” that killed Eric Garner demand reform, and so does a system in which it is nearly impossible to bring a police officer to trial.

And yet some police groups, including the leadership of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, charged that the Mayor was fanning anti-police sentiment. Then came the assassination, in Bedford-Stuyvesant, of two N.Y.P.D. officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, by a young man who had just shot his ex-girlfriend. That horrendous event devastated New Yorkers, particularly police officers, who daily put their lives at risk in the name of public safety. It also brought the simmering resentment among some police leaders to a boil of accusatory rhetoric. Patrick Lynch, the head of the P.B.A., who has waged battles over contracts and other issues with previous mayors, used the killings as a political cudgel. The Mayor, he said, had blood on his hands. Michael Goodwin, a columnist for the Post, was among those who had amplified the case for blaming de Blasio; the Mayor, he wrote, had thrown “gasoline on the fire by painting the entire force as a bunch of white racist brutes.”

As a way to cool tensions, de Blasio asked that there be a halt to protests, at least until after the officers’ funerals. The most flagrant refusal to do so came at the funeral of Rafael Ramos, when hundreds of police officers in attendance, following Lynch’s lead, turned their backs as the Mayor delivered a eulogy. An occasion of mourning had been hijacked. The police commissioner, William Bratton, was diplomatic, calling the gesture “inappropriate.” It was worse than that. It was an act of profound disrespect not only to de Blasio but also to the Ramos family members, who were there to grieve, not to witness a petulant display of resentment.

At his press conference, de Blasio had referred to a history that preceded the death of Eric Garner and charged it with meaning. The story of civil rights is not an event that ends with a triumphal arrival at a Southern statehouse. Two generations after Selma, the Supreme Court has started to roll back voting rights. Two generations after Selma, one out of three black males born in America today will, if present trends continue, see the inside of a prison cell.

“One day, to everyone’s astonishment, someone drops a match in the powder keg and everything blows up,” Baldwin wrote. “Before the dust has settled or the blood congealed, editorials, speeches, and civil-rights commissions are loud in the land, demanding to know what happened. What happened is that Negroes want to be treated like men.” Some of the language is of its time, but the demand is just and everlasting.

Comments posted by RSN:

+54 # DaveM 2015-01-04 12:51
This begs a larger question which, alas, cannot be answered by homilies about racism or classism or any “ism” that I know of. That question is: who is in charge here? The people of the United States and their elected representatives , or the police?

+18 # Walter J Smith 2015-01-04 14:20
Nobody if not you. And me.

Remember that question being asked in the movie, Apocalypse Now?

The answer hasn’t changed.

As one CEO long ago said about the Pentagon, on their resume’s every general and admiral at the Pentagon runs the whole bureaucratic empire. Until you ask them a simple question. Then you immediately discover no one there knows anything about anything.

The same is true in the US Deartment of Veterans Affairs. I am now, as I have been since August, attempting to get the VA to give me the eye surgery their own doctors agree I need. Yet, the VA just keeps sending me for more appointments to have my eyes examined to determine if I need cataract surgery. And no one knows why. No one knows who makes the appointments. No one knows what can be done about it. No one knows who can schedule my cataract surgery. No one is responsible for anything. Except on their resumes. Where everyone of them is responsible for everything.

That is exactly as our bipartisan neo-American Congress & our Administrations & our Judiciary wishes things to be.
Throughout the entire empire.

+19 # Art947 2015-01-04 15:31
An America’s corporate CEOs say that they deserve high compensation for creating the companies that they lead while telling us that they know nothing when something goes terribly wrong!

Tell me which banker, hedge fund manager, corporate raider, etc. deserves the big bucks that they are paid when each has a hand in destroying the lives of average Americans? Are you listening, Mr. Romney? Mr. Dimon?

+9 # brux 2015-01-04 12:58
>> And why does the Attorney General say we are a “nation of cowards” when it comes to the discussion of race?

That’s a good quote, and true, but the meaning and point is very fuzzy.

Both sides here have valid arguments, and the conversations that arise around race simple cannot go anywhere.

If I simple express my opinions on it, not in a mean or racists way, I get branded a racists for not agreeing with the mobs of folks for example that tore up Ferguson, MO.’

If I do not exactly agree with sentiments such as put the cops on trial or shoot them I just get vitriolic hatred for it, despite the fact that I feel very bad for the negative experiences black people I have known have experienced and do empathize with them.

Having been sort of hippie-like in my youth I am familiar with being targeted or confronted with an attitude from the way I look. Driving through the South one time with my California license plate and needing a haircut I was almost involved in a fight was the redneck barbers kicked me out of their shop hair half cut.

I know the bad side of human nature, and the problem with discussing it is that people cannot get past their own experiences and need to vent about them instead of trying to come to a reasonable compromise about what is fair and just and how to enforce it.

0 # economagic 2015-01-04 21:23
Brux,

What have you done, beyond “feel very bad for them,” to change the institutional racism that Mr. Remnick, Mr. Baldwin, Frederick Douglass, and myriad others have written about for more than a century and a half? Are you even aware that institutional racism exists in this country?

How long? How many times? Yet the Supreme Court scales back the protections of the Voting Rights Act even as the Republican Party rams laws through state legislatures to restrict voting that in ways affect blacks disproportionately, on the basis of fraudulent “research” claiming voter fraud.

I was more than “sort of hippie-like” in my youth, and was also an activist who witnessed that racism up close. It was a lot different from what I experienced as a white hippie.

I have a friend who is smart and well intentioned, a really decent and generous guy. Yet he sends me emails with the most blatant, ugly racism this side of the Ku Klux Klan. It has not been that long since the Klan owned a little town near here that hosted some of the CIA “torture taxis.” As best I can tell my friend supports that too, but only for “terrorists.” He refuses to define that term, but clearly he means “them,” “the others,” “people not like us.”

He would be most indignant if I confronted him with his racism. He is a closet racist, in the closet only to himself and others who cannot take an honest look at their own hearts, or honestly say, “There but for the Grace of God (for being born white) go I.”


+27 # Shorey13 2015-01-04 13:26
I still think the problem is inadequate vetting of applicants for the job of policeman. One coward with a badge and a gun is all it takes to create social chaos, and to confirm the worst fears of the black community.
Please remember that after the police riots in Chicago in 1968 during the Democratic Convention, psychologists who were hired by the city to evaluate the department found that 85% (!!!) were psychologically unsuited for the job.
While it may no longer be 85%, as noted above, even one bad apple ruins the barrel.
Lastly, like firemen, doctors and many other professionals, police often close ranks and defend their indefensible colleagues.

+17 # Art947 2015-01-04 15:36
The “The Blue Line” subscribes to a code of silence when it comes to the actions of its members. As a consequence, when one of them does wrong, then as they are aiding and abetting the action, they have all done wrong. Until members of every police force decide that the code of silence will no longer prevail, then they will all be painted, and tainted, by the sins of their colleagues. BTW, one only needs to remember Frank Serpico and the evils that he suffered for trying to tell the truth about the NYPD.

+23 # wrknight 2015-01-04 13:56
“And why does the Attorney General say we are a “nation of cowards” when it comes to the discussion of race?”

And speaking of a nation of cowards, what about those attorney generals who are afraid of Wall Street bankers?

+20 # progressiveguy 2015-01-04 14:10
Someone should tell the good cops that they are not under attack by protesters or liberals or the mayor. The institutional racism of police forces in general and NYC in particular is and should be under attack. When the good cops condone the abuse of the bad cops then they are part of the problem. Cops that use unnecessary force must be separated from police forces.

+27 # angelfish 2015-01-04 14:36
When you have Police like the ones in New York who act like children by turning their backs on the Mayor rather than sitting down to TALK about the bad apples in their barrel, the REAL problems will never be solved. I know that MOST cops are good, decent people, however, they shield and protect the psychopaths that have NO business wearing the uniform! ALL professions have bad apples, the Police are not alone in this, but until they actively work at policing THEMSELVES, we will remain at an impasse. Police work is inherently dangerous but NO ONE deserves to die because they LOOK suspicious. Blacks, Latinos and other ethnic people are no more likely than their white peers to be guilty, yet it is THEY who suffer the indignities of being stopped, harassed and, in many cases shot dead! WHEN does it ever stop?


+5 # Art947 2015-01-04 15:41
There was interesting commentary by Linda Stasi in today’s (1/4/15) Daily News concerning the battles between the NYPD and NY’s mayors. Even mayor, including that paragon of despicability, Rudolf Giuilani, Bloomberg, Lindsay, Dinkens, etc., has been treated to shows of disrespect by the leaders and membership of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. It is only because the strident voices of the corporate news media have amplified this conflict that it has become such a national travesty.

+4 # lfeuille 2015-01-04 19:40
Quoting Art947:

There was interesting commentary by Linda Stasi in today’s (1/4/15) Daily News concerning the battles between the NYPD and NY’s mayors. Even mayor, including that paragon of despicability, Rudolf Giuilani, Bloomberg, Lindsay, Dinkens, etc., has been treated to shows of disrespect bu the leaders and membership of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. It is only because the strident voices of the corporate news media have amplified this conflict that it has become such a national travesty.

It is only because the national media, for whatever reason, has finally decided to pay attention to the problem that many people are even aware of it. You can’t fix what you don’t know about. It was happening even when the press wasn’t looking.

+12 # fredboy 2015-01-04 16:52
NY cops best wise up to recognize that their actions and attitudes support the unlawful police gang murder of an unarmed man who was breaking no law, not police excellence.

If I were the mayor I would clean house, starting at the top.

Their actions and attitudes are prompting citizens across the land to police the police–that’s how bad things are out there.

0 # leftcoast 2015-01-04 17:23
Walterj – what actually is your beef? Or is it that you just
don’t get the cartoons?

0 # corals33 2015-01-04 18:20
CORRECTION: No African-American was (s)elected as president in 2008.This man’s mother is and always was WHITE. Lest we forget.
The polioe and the prison guards should be investigated “Mcarthy style” for their membership of “secret organizations” before anything else. Start at the beginning folks instead of always looking (deliberately) at every other angle.

+3 # greenbacker 2015-01-04 22:02
[quote name="corals33" ]“CORRECTION: No African-America n was (s)elected as president in 2008.This man’s mother is and always was WHITE. Lest we forget.”

So let me get this straight. President Obama’s father was African, his mother was American. But he is not “African-American?” Am I missing something? “WHITE” is not (or should not be) synonymous with “American,” but for too many people it is, even if subconsciously. This is a huge part of the problem when it comes to discussing race in America. The fact of the matter is that a large portion, if not a majority, of Blacks born in America have some European as well as African ancestry. Henry Louis Gates (remember the “beer summit” after Gates’ encounter with police in his own house?) has a whole series on PBS dealing with this subject. In fact, in one episode it was revealed through DNA testing that the rapper Nas has Scandinavian/Viking ancestry. So, yes, an African-American was elected in 2008 and re-elected in 2012. No correction necessary. And if Obama was not President of the US, and his story so well known, and you saw him walking down the street, you would not identify him as a half-white guy, you would see him as a Black man.

0 # Rockster 2015-01-04 18:34
I totally agree with corals:33 re the prison guards and police as to their “secret fraternal orgs” but why say it with. @McCarthyism thrown in. And I’m curious what is the standard amount of blackness to qualify?

-3 # perkinsej 2015-01-04 19:00
The solution to all these problems is linked not just to gun control but to total gun abandonment. Last of the “liberal” program that requires attention and eventually enactment.

+1 # jstick 2015-01-04 20:27
Shorey13 says the issue is “adequate vetting of applicants for the job of policeman.” Correct. How many of these officers who commit homicide on the job are veterans back from Iraq and Afghanistan? Remember, over there they were trained to suspect and kill civilians. Same as in Vietnam. Prior to that the enemy wore uniforms.
They are merely doing what they were trained to do.

+1 # PABLO DIABLO 2015-01-04 21:10
Wake up America.

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

Op-Ed | Timothy Egan
Obama Unbound
By TIMOTHY EGAN

The president is acting like a man who’s been given the political equivalent of a testosterone boost.
 www.nytimes.com/2014/12/20/opinio…

Obama’s trademark caution in a crisis still serves him well. He kept his head during the Ebola meltdown when everyone else was losing theirs. Had we gone jaw to jaw with Putin over Ukraine, rather than building the case for sanctions, the world would be far messier. But in finally learning how to use the tools of his office, Obama unbound is a president primed to make his mark.

There may not be a lightness to his step, a lilt in his voice or a bit of jauntiness returned to his manner. The office ages everyone prematurely, and makes spontaneity all but impossible. But President Obama is acting like a man who’s been given the political equivalent of a testosterone boost.

He promised to be transformative. Instead, especially in the last two years, he’s been listless, passive, a spectator to his own presidency. Rather than setting things in motion, he reacted to events. Even Ebola, the great scare that prompted so much media hysteria it was awarded Lie of the Year by PolitiFact, was somehow his fault. No more. Of late, the president who has nothing to lose has discovered that his best friend is the future.

On normalizing relations with Cuba, on a surprising climate change initiative with China, on an immigration gamble that’s working, and executive orders to protect the world’s greatest wild salmon fishery in Alaska or try to root out gender pay disparities, Obama is marching ahead of politicians fighting yesterday’s wars. In setting an aggressive agenda, he has forced opponents to defend old-century policies, and rely on an aging base to do it.

Are Republicans really going to spend the first year of their new majority trying to undo everything the president has done — to roll back the clock? Will they defend isolation of Cuba against the wishes of most young Cuban-Americans? Will they restore a family-destroying deportation policy, when Obama’s de-emphasis on sending illegal immigrants home has already given him a 15-point boost among Latinos? Will they take away health insurance from millions who never had it before? Will they insist that nothing can be done on climate change, while an agreement is on the table for the world’s two biggest polluters, the United States and China, to do something significant?

The President Obama of the last six weeks is willing to take that bet. The tediously cautious, adrift president who governed before his party was rejected in November never would have.

Of course, it helps to have the wind at his back — gusts of good news.

Remember when Mitt Romney promised to bring unemployment down to 6 percent by the end of his first term? Obama has done him one better: two years ahead of schedule, unemployment is 5.8 percent. The economy added 321,000 jobs last month and average hourly wages actually rose, on pace to make 2014 the best year for financially battered Americans in almost a decade. And if there’s a Republican somewhere who predicted that gas prices would be well below $3 a gallon in year six of the Obama presidency, bring that prescient pol forward.

Remember, also, the man-crush that Republicans had on Vladimir Putin? Ohhh, Vlad — such a leader! Forceful, militarily aggressive, a manly man. Obama the plodder was getting played by Putin the Great. Now, the Russian president better keep his shirt on, for his country is teetering, increasingly isolated, its currency in free fall. Plunging oil prices have shown just how fragile a nation dependent on oil can be.

Perhaps the best thing to happen to him was the crushing blow his party took in the midterm elections. Come January, Republicans will have their largest House majority in 84 years — since Herbert Hoover was president. Granted, no politician wants to join Hoover and history in the same sentence. But Obama is not cowering or conceding. He’s been liberated by defeat, becoming the president that many of his supporters hoped he would be.

East Jerusalem.
Editorial

The Embattled Dream of Palestine

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

A one-state solution? A two-state solution? Any solution?
… from the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and for recognition of a Palestinian state. He has …
 www.nytimes.com/2014/12/20/opinio…

With negotiations stalled and Israel narrowing the space for a peace deal by expanding settlements, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has made a desperation play for a two-state solution. He is pushing the United Nations Security Council to adopt a resolution that would set a deadline for full Israel withdrawal from the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and for recognition of a Palestinian state. He has strong support from Europe, where some governments have ratcheted up the pressure on Israel by individually endorsing Palestinian statehood.
The United States, trying to protect Israel’s interest, wants at the very least to delay a Security Council vote until after the Israeli election. That makes sense, since a showdown now almost certainly will benefit the opponents of a two-state solution. The campaign — in which a coalition formed by Isaac Herzog, head of the opposition Labor party, and Tzipi Livni, the recently dismissed justice minister, favors a two-state solution — is likely to focus on domestic issues. But the outcome could well determine the prospects for the elusive dream of a Palestinian state.

Op-Ed Contributor
Bring On the Dark
By CLARK STRAND

Night was once the only thing that put the human agenda on hold.

WOODSTOCK, N.Y. — WHEN the people of this small mountain town got their first dose of electrical lighting in late 1924, they were appalled. “Old people swore that reading or living by so fierce a light was impossible,” wrote the local historian Alf Evers. That much light invited comparisons. It was an advertisement for the new, the rich and the beautiful — a verdict against the old, the ordinary and the poor. As Christmas approached, a protest was staged on the village green to decry the evils of modern light.

Woodstock has always been a small place with a big mouth where cultural issues are concerned. But in this case the protest didn’t amount to much. Here as elsewhere in early 20th-century America, the reluctance to embrace brighter nights was a brief and halfhearted affair.

Tomorrow is the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. But few of us will turn off the lights long enough to notice. There’s no getting away from the light. There are fluorescent lights and halogen lights, stadium lights, streetlights, stoplights, headlights and billboard lights. There are night lights to stand sentinel in hallways, and the lit screens of cellphones to feed our addiction to information, even in the middle of the night. No wonder we have trouble sleeping. The lights are always on.

In the modern world, petroleum may drive our engines but our consciousness is driven by light. And what it drives us to is excess, in every imaginable form.

Beginning in the late 19th century, the availability of cheap, effective lighting extended the range of waking human consciousness, effectively adding more hours onto the day — for work, for entertainment, for discovery, for consumption; for every activity except sleep, that nightly act of renunciation. Darkness was the only power that has ever put the human agenda on hold.

In centuries past, the hours of darkness were a time when no productive work could be done. Which is to say, at night the human impulse to remake the world in our own image — so that it served us, so that we could almost believe the world and its resources existed for us alone — was suspended. The night was the natural corrective to that most persistent of all illusions: that human progress is the reason for the world.

Advances in science, industry, medicine and nearly every other area of human enterprise resulted from the influx of light. The only casualty was darkness, a thing of seemingly little value. But that was only because we had forgotten what darkness was for. In times past people took to their beds at nightfall, but not merely to sleep. They touched one another, told stories and, with so much night to work with, woke in the middle of it to a darkness so luxurious it teased visions from the mind and divine visitations that helped to guide their course through life. Now that deeper darkness has turned against us. The hour of the wolf we call it — that predatory insomnia that makes billions for big pharma. It was once the hour of God.

There is, of course, no need to fear the dark, much less prevail over it. Not that we could. Look up in the sky on a starry night, if you can still find one, and you will see that there is a lot of darkness in the universe. There is so much of it, in fact, that it simply has to be the foundation of all that is. The stars are an anomaly in the face of it, the planets an accident. Is it evil or indifferent? I don’t think so. Our lives begin in the womb and end in the tomb. It’s dark on either side.

We’ve rolled back the night so far that soon we will come full circle and reach the dawn of the following day. And where will that leave us? In a world with no God and no wolf either — only unrelenting commerce and consumption, information and media … and light. We need a rest from ourselves that only a night like the winter solstice can give us. And the earth, too, needs that rest. The only thing I can hope for is that, if we won’t come to our senses and search for the darkness, on nights like these, the darkness will come looking for us.

Clark Strand is the author of the forthcoming book “Waking Up to the Dark: Ancient Wisdom for a Sleepless Age.”

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

Obama Finally Acts Like a Nobel Laureate.

By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News

18 December 2014

Normalizing relations with Cuba was an act worthy of consideration for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The diplomatic thaw can lead to more peace and justice if it is the first step. The most important move that can be made would be to lift the cruel and unjust embargo against Cuba. For over 50 years the embargo has made a poor country poorer.

The failed policy has not weakened the Castro Government, instead it has exacerbated poverty in what was one of the most vibrant economies prior to the Cuban Revolution.

According to the Smithsonian: “By the late ’50s, U.S. financial interests included 90 percent of Cuban mines, 80 percent of its public utilities, 50 percent of its railways, 40 percent of its sugar production and 25 percent of its bank deposits – some $1 billion in total. American influence extended into the cultural realm, as well. Cubans grew accustomed to the luxuries of American life. They drove American cars, owned TVs, watched Hollywood movies and shopped at Woolworth’s department store. The youth listened to rock and roll, learned English in school, adopted American baseball and sported American fashions.”

For the Cuban elite and American investors all was great. But for many in Cuba, the resources were concentrated in the hands of an elite class that was enjoying life with their partners, the American Robber Barons. The inequality led to the Cuban Revolution. When the Batista regime fell and American-owned resources were nationalized by Castro, the capitalists in Washington decided that they would do all they could to make sure the revolution failed.

The Cuba policy reminds me of the Republican strategy for dealing with Barack Obama’s presidency. They did everything they could to make sure more Americans would suffer and blame the President for their pain.

The US embargo on Cuba was designed to inflict pain on the Cuban people and force them into regime change.

Regime change never came. Some would argue that the embargo helped Fidel Castro unite the Cuban people against the “real” boogeyman in Washington.

President Obama, while not fully lifting the embargo, did make some moves that will increase commerce between the two nations. While these actions should be applauded, we must be vigilant. A return to the day when Cuba’s economy is dominated by US corporations is not what the Cuban people need. Exploitation is not the answer, but if you listen to Obama’s cabinet it may be exactly what they seek.

In a statement released by the State Department, Secretary of State John Kerry said: “This new course will not be without challenges, but it is based not on a leap of faith but on a conviction that it’s the best way to help bring freedom and opportunity to the Cuban people, and to promote America’s national security interests in the Americas, including greater regional stability and economic opportunities for American businesses.”

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said: “These historic actions by the President chart a new course for our country’s relationship with Cuba and its people. It will improve the lives of millions and will help spur long overdue economic and political reform across the country. Expanding economic engagement between the Cuban people and the American business community will be a powerful catalyst that will strengthen human rights and the rule of law.”

So buyer beware, while increased economic activity between the United States and Cuba could be a good thing, we must make sure it does’t lead to more exploitation by Cuba’s powerful neighbor.

President Obama said in Cuba yesterday: “There’s a complicated history between the United States and Cuba. I was born in 1961 – just over two years after Fidel Castro took power in Cuba, and just a few months after the Bay of Pigs invasion, which tried to overthrow his regime. Over the next several decades, the relationship between our countries played out against the backdrop of the Cold War, and America’s steadfast opposition to communism. We are separated by just over 90 miles. But year after year, an ideological and economic barrier hardened between our two countries.”

Those differences have hardened for many Cuban Americans, but at the same time younger Cubans living in the United States support the president’s actions. They are the future, voices of hope and reconciliation. Let’s not listen to the voices of the past, being amplified by politicians like Marco Rubio who I am convinced express the view of an ideological fraction of the Cuban American community that will soon become the minority.

If we follow the direction the Obama administration is taking on Cuba, one day liberal Cuban politicians will start prevailing in South Florida and extremists like Marco Rubio will be out of office.

In a statement on Cuban television, Raul Castro called on President Obama to lift the embargo through executive action. Many are saying it will require an act of Congress. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait on the “just say no” Congress – since this policy was initiated by Obama, we know they will do everything they can to reverse it.

The Cuban and American people are pawns in the GOP’s political strategy. They will continue to do everything they can to make sure the Cuban and American people suffer, in hopes that they will blame the Castros and Obama. Let’s instead support the president’s Cuban policy and point the finger at the cruel politics of the Republican Party.

Scott Galindez was formerly the co-founder of Truthout.

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

Republicans were quick on Wednesday to accuse President Obama of appeasing our nation’s adversaries and showing weakness.

“First Russia, then Iran, now Cuba: One More Very Bad Deal Brokered by the Obama Administration,” blared the subject line of a release from Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Tex.) office.

“Unfortunately, this is yet another example of this administration continuing to show the rest of the world and dangerous leaders like those in Iran and North Korea that the United States is willing to appease them,” Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) said.

“It is par for the course with an administration that is constantly giving away unilateral concessions, whether it’s Iran or in this case Cuba, in exchange for nothing, and that’s what’s happening here,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said on Fox News.

But there’s one very important way in which Cuba differs from all of these other bad actors on the world stage. And it’s this: Americans aren’t scared of Cuba — like barely even a little bit.

Despite Cuba’s proximity to the United States (about 90 miles from Florida) and its alliance with other antagonistic countries like North Korea and Russia, Americans have grown progressively less and less concerned that the island country actually poses a threat to the United States.

A CNN/Opinion Research poll earlier this year, in fact, showed that just 5 percent of people viewed Cuba as a “very serious threat” and 21 percent said it was a “moderately serious threat.” Another 72 percent said it wasn’t a threat at all or “just a slight threat.”

Back in 1983, two-thirds of Americans viewed Cuba as at least a “moderately serious threat,” but that numbers has fallen steadily since then.

In addition, Cuba today simply can’t be compared to the likes of Iran, Russia, North Korea and the others as far as the threat it poses. Seven in 10 Americans say each of those countries poses at a least a “moderately serious threat,” compared to 26 percent for Cuba.

As President Obama makes his case that normalizing relations with Cuba is a good idea, this is a major factor working in his favor. As long as Americans aren’t afraid of Cuba, they will likely be more accepting of a diplomatic relationship.

It’s no coincidence, after all, that the sharp decrease in fear of Cuba has coincided with a sharp rise in support for diplomacy.

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


Obama secures Latin legacy

World leaders have welcomed a historic move by the US to end more than 50 years of hostility towards Cuba and restore diplomatic relations.

Pope Francis joined leaders from Latin America and Europe in praising the “historic” deal which saw the release of prisoners from both countries.


US-Cuba relations: Global praise for normalization of ties.

The BBC News, December 18, 2014
 www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-amer…

————————

Op-Ed Columnist – The New York Times, December 18, 2014
Welcome Back, Cuba!
By NICHOLAS KRISTOF

Sending in gunmen to liberate the Bay of Pigs failed, but perhaps we’ll do better with diplomats, tourists and investors.

Op-Ed Contributor – The New York Times, December 18, 2014
Hectoring Venezuela on Human Rights
By DIOSDADO CABELLO

Instead of punishing my country, the U.S. should check its own record.

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###

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

Breaking News from CNN December 17, 2014:

President Barack Obama announced plans to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba and ease economic restrictions, a shift he called the end of an “outdated approach” that “for decades has failed to advance our interests.”

Speaking from his own country, Cuban President Raul Castro lauded the move: “This expression by President Barack Obama deserves the respect and recognition by all the people, and I want to thank and recognize support from the Vatican.”

and then: President Barack Obama announced plans to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba and ease economic restrictions, a shift he called the end of an “outdated approach” that “for decades has failed to advance our interests.”

Speaking from his own country, Cuban President Raul Castro lauded the move: “This expression by President Barack Obama deserves the respect and recognition by all the people, and I want to thank and recognize support from the Vatican.”

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida was harshly critical of the move: “By conceding to the oppressors, this President and this administration have let the people of Cuba down.”

KUDOS FROM ALL OVER LATIN AMERICA THAT LONG AGO HAS ESTABLISHED RELATIONS WITH CUBA.
FROM OUR ANGLE – BACK TO THE 1970s WE ARGUED THE US CAN LEARN FROM CUBA ABOUT HOW TO DECREASE DEPENDENCE ON OIL IMPORTS.
THIS AFTER LEARNING IN !978 ABOUT THEIR USE OF BIOMASS AT A UNIDO MEETING IN VIENNA, AND THEN OUR ATTEMPT TO INVITE THEM TO MAKE A PRESENTATION AT The first InterAmerican Conference on Renewable Sources of Energy, New Orleans, Louisiana, November 25-29, 1979 that I had the honor to organize for the Cordell Hull Foundation for International Education BUT WAS TURNED DOWN BY THE US DEPARTMENT OF STATE THAT WAS NOT READY TO ALLOW VISAS FOR THE CUBAN SCIENTISTS. I made sure nevertheless that the conference knows that when you have no trees to cut down you can make paper from sugarcane bagasse.

Louisiana, Cordell Hull Foundation for International Education
The Conference, 1980 – Science – 302 pages

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


With Compromises, a Global Accord to Fight Climate Change Is in Sight.

By CORAL DAVENPORT, The New York Times World, December 9, 2014

LIMA, Peru — Diplomats from 196 countries are closing in on the framework of a potentially historic deal that would for the first time commit every nation in the world to cutting its planet-warming fossil fuel emissions — but would still not be enough to stop the early impacts of global warming.

The draft, now circulating among negotiators at a global climate summit meeting here, represents a fundamental breakthrough in the impasse that has plagued the United Nations for two decades as it has tried to forge a new treaty to counter global warming.

But the key to the political success of the draft — and its main shortcoming, negotiators concede — is that it does not bind nations to a single, global benchmark for emissions reductions.

Instead, the draft puts forward lower, more achievable, policy goals. Under the terms of the draft, every country will publicly commit to enacting its own plans to reduce emissions — with governments choosing their own targets, guided by their domestic politics, rather than by the amounts that scientists say are necessary.

The idea is to reach a global deal to be signed by world leaders in Paris next year, incorporating 196 separate emissions pledges.

“It’s a breakthrough, because it gives meaning to the idea that every country will make cuts,” said Yvo de Boer, the former executive secretary of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change.


“But the great hopes for the process are also gone,” he added. “Many people are resigned,” he said, to the likelihood that even a historic new deal would not reduce greenhouse gas levels enough to keep the planet’s atmospheric temperature from rising 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

That is the point at which, scientists say, it will become impossible to avoid the dangerous and costly early effects of climate change — such as melting glaciers, rising sea levels, extreme drought, food shortages and more violent storms.

The Lima draft represents the input of all the negotiating countries, though there are still several major hurdles to work out. But even then, experts say, at best the new deal might be enough only to curb global warming by about half as much as scientists say is necessary.

Until recently, the United States and China, the world’s two largest greenhouse gas polluters, have been at the center of the impasse over a climate deal.

Until this year, the United States had never arrived at the United Nations’ annual climate negotiations with a domestic policy to cut its own carbon emissions. Instead, it merely demanded that other nations cut their use of coal and gasoline, while promising that it would do so in the future.

China, meanwhile, was the lead voice among nations demanding that developing economies should not be required to commit to any cuts.

But in November, President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China announced plans to reduce emissions, helping inject new life into the global climate talks.

Negotiators here call the joint announcement between China and the United States the catalyst for the new draft, which, if approved at the climate summit meeting this week, would set the stage for a final deal to be signed by world leaders next year in Paris.

In the United Nations’ first effort to enact a climate change treaty, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the legally binding language of the agreement prescribed that the world’s largest economies make ambitious, specific emissions cuts — but it exempted developing nations. The United States Senate refused to ratify the treaty, effectively leaving it a failure.

The Lima draft does not include Kyoto-style, top-down mandates that countries cut emissions by specific levels. Instead, it includes provisions requiring that all nations, rich and poor, commit to policies to mitigate their emissions. Countries that sign on to the deal will commit to announcing, by March, detailed, hard-numbers plans laying out how they will cut emissions after 2020.

The draft that emerges this week “will look like a game of Mad Libs,” said one negotiator who was not authorized to speak publicly. Over the coming months, as countries put forth their emissions reduction pledges, the details of the final deal will be filled in.

It is expected that many countries will miss that March deadline. Officials from India and other countries have said that they are unlikely to present a plan before June.

In order to ensure that all countries are included in the deal, late announcers will get a pass. The point, United Nations officials say, is to ensure that the information exists to finalize a Paris deal by December 2015.

Negotiators concede that the “each according to their abilities” approach is less than perfect — but that it represents what is achievable.

“The reality of it is that nobody was able to come up with a different way of going about it that would actually get countries to participate and be in the agreement,” said Todd D. Stern, the lead American climate change negotiator. “You could write a paper, in theory, assigning a certain amount of emissions cuts to every country. That would get the reduction you need. But you wouldn’t get an agreement. We live in the real world. It’s not going to be perfect.”

And there are still many hurdles ahead.

While many major developing economies are now expected to follow China’s lead in preparing emissions plans, some countries remain wild cards. This year, the government of Australia repealed a landmark climate change law that taxed carbon pollution. Since then, its emissions have soared.

“Australia is left without any viable policy to cut emissions,” said Senator Christine Milne, the leader of the Australian opposition Green Party. “It’s going to drag its heels.”

Money, as always, is a sticking point.

The increasing likelihood that the planet’s atmosphere will warm past the 3.6 degree threshold, with or without a deal in Paris, is driving demands by vulnerable nations — particularly island states and African countries — that the industrialized world open up its wallet to pay for the damage incurred by its fossil fuel consumption. Under the terms of a 2009 climate change accord reached in Copenhagen, rich countries have agreed to mobilize $100 billion annually by 2020 to help poor countries adapt to the ravages of climate change. But a report this month by the United Nations Environmental Program estimates that the cost to poor countries of adapting to climate change could rise to as high as $300 billion annually — and vulnerable countries are stepping up their demands that more money be included in any final deal. Many vulnerable and developing countries insist that each country’s national pledge include not just a plan to cut emissions, but also money for adaptation.
Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story
Continue reading the main story

“The financing question will be one of the deepest divides,” said Jennifer Morgan, an expert in climate change negotiations with the World Resources Institute, a research organization.

Another element to be hashed out by negotiators will be devising an international number-crunching system to monitor, verify and compare countries’ pledged emissions cuts.

China has always balked at any outside monitoring of its major economic sectors, and is pushing back on proposals for rigorous outside scrutiny.

Hong Lei, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that his country “always supports increasing transparency” but that the new reporting system should reflect “the reality that developing countries’ basic capacities in areas like national statistics and assessment are still insufficient.” He added that “developed countries should provide appropriate support to developing countries.”

The United States has urged that a final deal not take the form of a legally binding treaty requiring Senate ratification, hoping to avoid a repeat of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol experience.

But many countries continue to press for a legally binding deal.

French officials have already given the yet-to-be-signed deal a working title: the “Paris Alliance.”

The name, they say, is meant to signify that many different economies are working together, rather than complying with a single, top-down mandate.

————————————————-

Edward Wong contributed reporting from Beijing.

Related Coverage:
Smog obscures the skyline in Shenyang, Liaoning Province. Populist anger over toxic smog has convinced some Chinese leaders that industrial coal consumption must be curbed.
At Climate Meeting, China Balks at Verifying Cuts in Carbon EmissionsDEC. 9, 2014
Burning debris from Typhoon Hagupit in the Philippines. At a United Nations summit meeting, officials from the nation, which scientists say is among the most vulnerable to climate change, are pressing every nation to reduce their use of fossil fuels.
Philippines Pushes Developing Countries to Cut Their Emissions DEC. 8, 2014
Investors Recruited to Restore Farmland in Latin AmericaDEC. 7, 2014
World Briefing: Secretary General Expresses Optimism About Climate MeetingDEC. 4, 2014
A child walking near her home with a coal-fired power plant in the background in Beijing, China.
Optimism Faces Grave Realities at Climate TalksNOV. 30, 2014
Global Warming Concerns GrowSEPT. 22, 2014

————————————————–
A version of this article appears in print on December 10, 2014, on page A8 of the New York edition with the headline: With Compromises, a Global Accord to Fight Climate Change Is in Sight.

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

Our original posting date was September 25, 2011, and we do this re-posting because we were just reminded of the article by a comment I received from India from seemingly a non-political person. We wonder ourselves if that article is still relevant after this week’s events at the UN, and on the eve of a new meeting today in Washington between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu.

—————————————————————————————–

THE LINK IS HERE AND YOU CAN READ IT BUT NOT COPY IT:
 www.menafn.com/qn_news_story_s.as…

of September 25, 2011.

MENAFN – stands for Middle East North Africa – read ARAB  Financial Network – it is   a Delaware-based corporation with a wholly owned subsidiary in Amman, Jordan.

So, it must be an American Oil Industry enterprise, probably close to the Republican party,  with a Jordanian address as well.

The site [www.menafn.com] offers regional and global business content in both Arabic and English. It attracts over 340,000 highly targeted visitors on a regular basis.

It has a weekly e-Newsletter that reaches 55,000 subscribers. It summarizes major business news and events, market data and research for the Middle East region and the globe.

We hope that our readers in the Arab world see this posting of ours on www.SustainabiliTank.info so they understand the depth of the hole their leaders have dug for the Arab world. There is no way to bitch about Israel – if you are not ready to acknowledge the Israelis that try to find a way to peace. You will not have peace if you do not recognize Israel.
If some business interest thinks they can profit from the state of war the time has come that the Arab World distances itself from them.

——————————-

BUT THE ARTICLE IS AS FOLLOWS – AND WE GOT IT FROM URI AVNERY HIMSELF.

WHY DID MENAFN NOT POST THAT ARTICLE AS ORIGINALLY POSTED?  - THEY TOOK IT VERBATIM FROM AVNERY AND DID NOT MENTION HIM –  NEITHER DID THEY SAY  THAT AVNERY, – OR AT LEAST “THE WRITER” –  IS AN ISRAELI.  THIS SHORTCOMING POSES BIG QUESTION ON THE CREDIBILITY OF THIS MENA – MIDDLE EAST NORTH AFRICA – READ ARAB – FINANCIAL REPORT.

THIS REMINDS US OF THE ARAB SPRING, TAHRIR SQUARE,  LEADER WHOM I ASKED IN VIENNA, BEFORE AN AUDIENCE  - IF AN ISRAELI LIKE URI AVNERY APPROACHES YOU WOULD YOU OUTSTRETCH YOUR HAND IN PEACE?  SHE ANSWERED FLATLY – “NO! HE IS A ZIONIST.”

THIS IS THE REAL DOWNFALL OF THE ARAB WORLD – AND IN NO WAY CAN I HAVE SYMPATHY FOR SUCH HYPOCRASY.

WHY DID NOT THIS MENAFN ACKNOWLEDGE URI AVNERY? WHY DID THEY NOT HAVE THE GUTS TO SAY – WELCOME ABOARD – HERE YOU ARE THE ISRAELI WE WANT TO TALK TO.  IN THE LIGHT OF THIS LACK OF HONESTY AND LACK OF COURAGE  -  I THINJK NOW THAT URI AVNERY HAS INDEED GOOD REASON TO RETHINK HIS NOBLE VIEWS.

————————–

Uri Avnery

September 24, 2011

Abu Mazen’s Gamble

A WONDERFUL SPEECH. A beautiful speech.

The language expressive and elegant. The arguments clear and convincing. The delivery flawless.

A work of art. The art of hypocrisy. Almost every statement in the passage concerning the Israeli-Palestinian issue was a lie. A blatant lie: the speaker knew it was a lie, and so did the audience.

It was Obama at his best, Obama at his worst.

Being a moral person, he must have felt the urge to vomit. Being a pragmatic person, he knew that he had to do it, if he wanted to be re-elected.

In essence, he sold the fundamental national interests of the United States of America for the chance of a second term.

Not very nice, but that’s politics, OK?

IT MAY be superfluous – almost insulting to the reader – to point out the mendacious details of this rhetorical edifice.

Obama treated the two sides as if they were equal in strength – Israelis and Palestinians, Palestinians and Israelis.

But of the two, it is the Israelis – only they – who suffer and have suffered. Persecution. Exile. Holocaust. An Israeli child threatened by rockets. Surrounded by the hatred of Arab children. So sad.

No Occupation. No settlements. No June 1967 borders. No Naqba. No Palestinian children killed or frightened. It’s the straight right-wing Israeli propaganda line, pure and simple – the terminology, the historical narrative, the argumentation. The music.

The Palestinians, of course, should have a state of their own. Sure, sure. But they must not be pushy. They must not embarrass the US. They must not come to the UN. They must sit with the Israelis, like reasonable people, and work it out with them. The reasonable sheep must sit down with the reasonable wolf and decide what to have for dinner. Foreigners should not interfere.

Obama gave full service. A lady who provides this kind of service generally gets paid in advance. Obama got paid immediately afterwards, within the hour. Netanyahu sat down with him in front of the cameras and gave him enough quotable professions of love and gratitude to last for several election campaigns.

THE TRAGIC hero of this affair is Mahmoud Abbas. A tragic hero, but a hero nonetheless.

Many people may be surprised by this sudden emergence of Abbas as a daring player for high stakes, ready to confront the mighty US.

If Ariel Sharon were to wake up for a moment from his years-long coma, he would faint with amazement. It was he who called Mahmoud Abbas “a plucked chicken”.

Yet for the last few days, Abbas was the center of global attention. World leaders conferred about how to handle him, senior diplomats were eager to convince him of this or that course of action, commentators were guessing what he would do next. His speech before the UN General Assembly was treated as an event of consequence.

Not bad for a chicken, even for one with a full set of feathers.

His emergence as a leader on the world stage is somewhat reminiscent of Anwar Sadat.

When Gamal Abd-al-Nasser unexpectedly died at the age of 52 in 1970 and his official deputy, Sadat, assumed his mantle, all political experts shrugged.

Sadat? Who the hell is that? He was considered a nonentity, an eternal No. 2, one of the least important members of the group of “free officers” that was ruling Egypt.

In Egypt, a land of jokes and jokers, witticisms about him abounded. One concerned the prominent brown mark on his forehead. The official version was that it was the result of much praying, hitting the ground with his forehead. But the real reason, it was told, was that at meetings, after everyone else had spoken, Sadat would get up and try to say something. Nasser would good-naturedly put his finger to his forehead, push him gently down and say: “Sit, Anwar!”

To the utter amazement of the experts – and especially the Israeli ones – this “nonentity” took a huge gamble by starting the 1973 October War, and proceeded to do something unprecedented in history: going to the capital of an enemy country still officially in a state of war and making peace.

Abbas’ status under Yasser Arafat was not unlike Sadat’s under Nasser. However, Arafat never appointed a deputy. Abbas was one of a group of four or five likely successors. The heir would surely have been Abu Jihad, had he not been killed by Israeli commandoes in front of his wife and children. Another likely candidate, Abu Iyad, was killed by Palestinian terrorists. Abu Mazen (Abbas) was in a way the choice by default.

Such politicians, emerging suddenly from under the shadow of a great leader, generally fall into one of two categories: the eternal frustrated No. 2 or the surprising new leader.

The Bible gives us examples of both kinds. The first was Rehoboam, the son and heir of the great King Solomon, who told his people: “my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions”. The other kind was represented by Joshua, the heir of Moses. He was no second Moses, but according to the story a great conqueror in his own right.

Modern history tells the sad story of Anthony Eden, the long-suffering No. 2 of Winston Churchill, who commanded little respect. (Mussolini called him, after their first meeting, “a well-tailored idiot.”). Upon assuming power, he tried desperately to equal Churchill and soon embroiled Britain in the 1956 Suez disaster. To the second category belonged Harry Truman, the nobody who succeeded the great Franklin Delano Roosevelt and surprised everybody as a resolute leader.

Abbas looked like belonging to the first kind. Now, suddenly, he is revealed as belonging to the second. The world is treating him with newfound respect. Nearing the end of his career, he made the big gamble.

BUT WAS it wise? Courageous, yes. Daring, yes. But wise?

My answer is: Yes, it was.

Abbas has placed the quest for Palestinian freedom squarely on the international table. For more than a week, Palestine has been the center of international attention. Scores of international statesmen and -women, including the leader of the world’s only superpower, have been busy with Palestine.

For a national movement, that is of the utmost importance. Cynics may ask: “So what did they gain from it?” But cynics are fools. A liberation movement gains from the very fact that the world pays attention, that the media grapple with the problem, that people of conscience all over the world are aroused. It strengthens morale at home and brings the struggle a step nearer its goal.

Oppression shuns the limelight. Occupation, settlements, ethnic cleansing thrive in the shadows. It is the oppressed who need the light of day. Abbas’ move provided it, at least for the time being.

BARACK OBAMA’s miserable performance was a nail in the coffin of America’s status as a superpower. In a way, it was a crime against the United States.

The Arab Spring may have been a last chance for the US to recover its standing in the Middle East. After some hesitation, Obama realized that. He called on Mubarak to go, helped the Libyans against their tyrant, made some noises about Bashar al-Assad. He knows that he has to regain the respect of the Arab masses if he wants to recover some stature in the region, and by extension throughout the world.

Now he has blown it, perhaps forever. No self-respecting Arab will forgive him for plunging his knife into the back of the helpless Palestinians. All the credit the US has tried to gain in the last months in the Arab and the wider Muslim world has been blown away with one puff.

All for reelection.

IT WAS also a crime against Israel.

Israel needs peace. Israel needs to live side by side with the Palestinian people, within the Arab world. Israel cannot rely forever on the unconditional support of the declining United States.

Obama knows this full well. He knows what is good for Israel, even if Netanyahu doesn’t. Yet he has handed the keys of the car to the drunken driver.

The State of Palestine will come into being. This week it was already clear that this is unavoidable. Obama will be forgotten, as will Netanyahu, Lieberman and the whole bunch.

Mahmoud Abbas – Abu Mazen, as the Palestinians call him – will be remembered. The “plucked chicken” is soaring into the sky.


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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 25th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


NO! it is not as simple as that – it is our own evaluation of what we heard from the mouth of Heads of State.

For unclear reasons they like the number 3 as in the old shaky “TRIPOD” idea of Sustainable Development that was supposed to hold the planet on legs of “Social, Economic, and Environment nature – when they left out Good Governance from the structure.

Now we heard from the President of Niger about his three Ds – DEFENSE, DEMOCRACY and DEVELOPMENT, but then the Prime Minister of the Netherlands spoke of DEFENSE, DEVELOPMENT and DIPLOMACY.

We decided that there cannot be a trade-off between Democracy as in GOOD GOVERNANCE and Diplomacy as a way to avoid conflict – granted that there is a 2014 agreement that the post-2015 agenda is about SECURITY from terrorism and DEVELOPMENT for the poorer Nations.

I SUGGEST HEREWITH THUS the FULL SPECTER OF THE NEEDED Ds: DEFENSE, DEMOCRACY, DEVELOPMENT, and DIPLOMACY – and would like to see the 4Ds adopted by the Development-Poor, by the Oil-rich, and by the old-Democracy States of the North – all of them fueled by Renewable Energy based steam.

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


STORY HIGHLIGHTS:

Sally Kohn: The U.S. was quick to accept that ISIS could pose a potential threat.

She says this weekend’s climate march in New York highlights a known threat.

Studies show the U.S. is already feeling the harmful effects of higher temperatures, she says.

Kohn: Democrats and Republicans differ on their degree of concern.

(CNN) — There is an imminent threat facing the people, economy and territory of the United States of America.

A report by the Center for Naval Analyses Military Advisory Board calls it a threat to national security and a broader “catalyst for conflict,” domestically and worldwide.

The admiral in charge of U.S. forces in the Pacific says it poses the biggest long-term security threat to the region. A comprehensive study, with 16 terabytes of data, documents how this threat will affect every single county in the United States — costing coastal cities billions and decimating crops all across the Midwest.


Notably, the Department of Defense’s 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review, published in March 2014, doesn’t even mention ISIS. But it frequently mentions this other looming threat — climate change.

Sally Kohn

——————————–

As thousands of people are expected to join the People’s Climate March this Sunday, September 21, in New York City — calling on world leaders and businesses to take serous and urgent steps to reduce global warming — the threat that climate change poses to the United States is both direct and undeniable.

The rise in mega-storms like Superstorm Sandy is already hurting coastal towns and our economy, while the rise in temperatures is causing droughts in the Great Plains and Southwest. Scientists have shown these effects will only increase.
Rubin & Paulson on climate change report


Meanwhile, though American intelligence agencies continue to emphasize that they have not detected any imminent threat nor specific planning by ISIS to attack US soil, we are nonetheless marshaling our full political will and military muscle to “denigrate and destroy” this enemy.

Why aren’t we attacking climate change?

Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of Defense under President George W. Bush, famously tried to distinguish between “known knowns” and “known unknowns.” Well, the threat of climate change is a “known known” but we have hesitated to attack climate change with all the robust power and focus of our nation while we have quite quickly and decisively mobilized against ISIS, the actual threat of which is clearly a “known unknown” at best.

Why? Why are mobilizing our national will, treasure and muscle to so emphatically fight ISIS while generally wringing our hands about climate change? It appears the answer is simple: Republicans. As far as Democrats are concerned, while 65% see ISIS as a major threat to the United States, 68% believe climate change is also a “major threat.”

This is in stark contrast to Republicans, 78% of whom see ISIS as a threat but only 25% of whom feel the same way about climate change. The 43-point difference between Democratic and Republican views on climate change is the widest division between attitudes over any of the threats asked about in that poll, as the National Journal pointed out.

Republican political operatives and special interests have succeeded in making climate change taboo for their own base, instead breeding a skepticism that disregards basic facts and science.

In 2006, 59% of Republicans said they “see solid evidence of global warming.” That was at a time when Sen. John McCain, who would go on to be the Republican nominee for president, was a leading champion for “cap and trade” legislation to curb greenhouse gas emissions. But by 2009, only 35% of Republicans believed in solid evidence of global warming. Even though half of Republicans said in a poll last year that that climate change is a reality, the implications of that skepticism remain.

Most importantly, the belief that human activity is the main cause of global warming has increased among Democrats (from 57% in 2006 to 66% in 2013) but decreased among Republicans (from 31% in 2006 to 24% in 2013).

And if you don’t think human activity caused a problem, you likely don’t think human activity or policy or much anything else can solve it. Fully 7 out of 10 Tea Party supporters believe there is “no solid evidence” that the earth is warming. As we’ve seen across issues, this fringe but vocal minority has a disproportionate pull on politics.

Although President Obama is using his executive powers to take steps to address the threat of climate change, it’s no wonder we now have even Democratic candidates hedging their stances on the environment.

Perhaps the political reticence speaks to the fact that while ISIS offers a clear and distant enemy to demonize, in the case of climate change the problem is largely us and our lifestyle — or at the very least, the problem is our oil companies and other corporations no politician is eager to blame, especially not Republicans. Or maybe the objection stems from a sense that fixing climate change is just too expensive, even though that’s not true.

In fact a recent study found that addressing climate change will actually lead to economic growth, therefore in a practical sense not cost a dime. And either way, many Republicans didn’t balk at the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which could top $6 trillion not including what we’re now spending to fight ISIS.

So maybe it’s just a matter of political alignment. If we could bomb our way out of climate change, and thus use it as a rationale for bloating the already-bloated military budget, Republican voters and political leaders might then lead the call to action.

Let’s hope the hesitance certainly isn’t that we have to wait for the climate crisis to wreak even greater havoc all around us before we act.

Unlike ISIS, where the possibility of a future threat was enough to justify action, we absolutely know that climate change will strike America — and that, unaddressed, the severity of that threat will only grow. It’s a crisis we absolutely can solve –but first we have to acknowledge there is a crisis and act accordingly.

Read CNN Opinion’s new Flipboard magazine.

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

Our addition – based on the section on WWII of the new documentary series on the Roosevelt family – is that the slow entree of the US to WWII was caused by the reluctance of Republicans in Congress to see that the US is part of the World at large and that it is US business to dismember the Nazi and Japanese war machines that constitute a direct danger also to the US. This beyond economic interests that were obvious. A war industry provides jobs to the unemployed and that would have helped racial integration and higher income for the poor – something that was anathema to the white Republicans who were the only beneficiaries from the slow process of coming out of the Great Depression. Our point is thus that today’s Republicans are not very different from those of the start of the 1940s.

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

 

SundayReview | Opinion

The Climate Swerve.

By ROBERT JAY LIFTON,  The New York Times,

AMERICANS appear to be undergoing a significant psychological shift in our relation to global warming. I call this shift a climate “swerve,” borrowing the term used recently by the Harvard humanities professor Stephen Greenblatt to describe a major historical change in consciousness that is neither predictable nor orderly.

The first thing to say about this swerve is that we are far from clear about just what it is and how it might work. But we can make some beginning observations which suggest, in Bob Dylan’s words, that “something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is.” Experience, economics and ethics are coalescing in new and important ways. Each can be examined as a continuation of my work comparing nuclear and climate threats.

The experiential part has to do with a drumbeat of climate-related disasters around the world, all actively reported by the news media: hurricanes and tornadoes, droughts and wildfires, extreme heat waves and equally extreme cold, rising sea levels and floods. Even when people have doubts about the causal relationship of global warming to these episodes, they cannot help being psychologically affected. Of great importance is the growing recognition that the danger encompasses the entire earth and its inhabitants. We are all vulnerable.

This sense of the climate threat is represented in public opinion polls and attitude studies. A recent Yale survey, for instance, concluded that “Americans’ certainty that the earth is warming has increased over the past three years,” and “those who think global warming is not happening have become substantially less sure of their position.”

Falsification and denial, while still all too extensive, have come to require more defensive psychic energy and political chicanery.

But polls don’t fully capture the complex collective process occurring.

The most important experiential change has to do with global warming and time. Responding to the climate threat — in contrast to the nuclear threat, whose immediate and grotesque destructiveness was recorded in Hiroshima and Nagasaki — has been inhibited by the difficulty of imagining catastrophic future events. But climate-related disasters and intense media images are hitting us now, and providing partial models for a devastating climate future.

At the same time, economic concerns about fossil fuels have raised the issue of value. There is a wonderfully evocative term, “stranded assets,” to characterize the oil, coal and gas reserves that are still in the ground. Trillions of dollars in assets could remain “stranded” there. If we are serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions and sustaining the human habitat, between 60 percent and 80 percent of those assets must remain in the ground, according to the Carbon Tracker Initiative, an organization that analyzes carbon investment risk. In contrast, renewable energy sources, which only recently have achieved the status of big business, are taking on increasing value, in terms of returns for investors, long-term energy savings and relative harmlessness to surrounding communities.

Pragmatic institutions like insurance companies and the American military have been confronting the consequences of climate change for some time. But now, a number of leading financial authorities are raising questions about the viability of the holdings of giant carbon-based fuel corporations. In a world fueled by oil and coal, it is a truly stunning event when investors are warned that the market may end up devaluing those assets. We are beginning to see a bandwagon effect in which the overall viability of fossil-fuel economics is being questioned.

Can we continue to value, and thereby make use of, the very materials most deeply implicated in what could be the demise of the human habitat? It is a bit like the old Jack Benny joke, in which an armed robber offers a choice, “Your money or your life!” And Benny responds, “I’m thinking it over.” We are beginning to “think over” such choices on a larger scale.

This takes us to the swerve-related significance of ethics. Our reflections on stranded assets reveal our deepest contradictions. Oil and coal company executives focus on the maximum use of their product in order to serve the interests of shareholders, rather than the humane, universal ethics we require to protect the earth. We may well speak of those shareholder-dominated principles as “stranded ethics,” which are better left buried but at present are all too active above ground.

Such ethical contradictions are by no means entirely new in historical experience. Consider the scientists, engineers and strategists in the United States and the Soviet Union who understood their duty as creating, and possibly using, nuclear weapons that could destroy much of the earth. Their conscience could be bound up with a frequently amorphous ethic of “national security.” Over the course of my work I have come to the realization that it is very difficult to endanger or kill large numbers of people except with a claim to virtue.

The climate swerve is mostly a matter of deepening awareness. When exploring the nuclear threat I distinguished between fragmentary awareness, consisting of images that come and go but remain tangential, and formed awareness, which is more structured, part of a narrative that can be the basis for individual and collective action.

In the 1980s there was a profound worldwide shift from fragmentary awareness to formed awareness in response to the potential for a nuclear holocaust. Millions of people were affected by that “nuclear swerve.” And even if it is diminished today, the nuclear swerve could well have helped prevent the use of nuclear weapons.

With both the nuclear and climate threats, the swerve in awareness has had a crucial ethical component. People came to feel that it was deeply wrong, perhaps evil, to engage in nuclear war, and are coming to an awareness that it is deeply wrong, perhaps evil, to destroy our habitat and create a legacy of suffering for our children and grandchildren.

Social movements in general are energized by this kind of ethical passion, which enables people to experience the more active knowledge associated with formed awareness. That was the case in the movement against nuclear weapons. Emotions related to individual conscience were pooled into a shared narrative by enormous numbers of people.

In earlier movements there needed to be an overall theme, even a phrase, that could rally people of highly divergent political and intellectual backgrounds. The idea of a “nuclear freeze” mobilized millions of people with the simple and clear demand that the United States and the Soviet Union freeze the testing, production and deployment of nuclear weapons.

Could the climate swerve come to include a “climate freeze,” defined by a transnational demand for cutting back on carbon emissions in steps that could be systematically outlined?

With or without such a rallying phrase, the climate swerve provides no guarantees of more reasonable collective behavior. But with human energies that are experiential, economic and ethical it could at least provide — and may already be providing — the psychological substrate for action on behalf of our vulnerable habitat and the human future.

———————————-

Robert Jay Lifton is a psychiatrist and the author of “Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima,” and a memoir, “Witness to an Extreme Century.”

A version of this op-ed appears in print on August 24, 2014, on page SR4 of the New York edition with the headline: The Climate Swerve.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 28th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Council on Foreign Relations    
 

Ignoring Climate Change Could Sink U.S. Economy, Writes Rubin

 

“When it comes to the economy, much of the debate about climate change—and reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that are fueling it—is framed as a trade-off between environmental protection and economic prosperity,” writes CFR Co-Chairman Robert E. Rubin in an op-ed for the Washington Post. “But from an economic perspective, that’s precisely the wrong way to look at it. The real question should be: What is the cost of inaction?”

Rubin argues that, in economic terms, taking action on climate change will prove far less expensive than inaction. The findings come from an earlier bipartisan report on the economic risks of climate change:

  • “By 2050, for example, between $48 billion and $68 billion worth of current property in Louisiana and Florida is likely to be at risk of flooding because it will be below sea level. And that’s just a baseline estimate; there are other scenarios that could be catastrophic.”
  • “Then, of course, there is the unpredictable damage from superstorms yet to come. Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy caused a combined $193 billion in economic losses; the congressional aid packages that followed both storms cost more than $122 billion.”
  • “And dramatically rising temperatures in much of the country will make it far too hot for people to work outside during parts of the day for several months each year—reducing employment and economic output, and causing as many as 65,200 additional heat-related deaths every year.”

According to Rubin, one of the fundamental problems with tackling climate change is that the methods used to gauge economic realities do not take climate change into consideration. Rubin calls for metrics that accurately reflect climate-change risks, and requiring companies to be transparent in reporting vulnerabilities tied to climate.

“If companies were required to highlight their exposure to climate-related risks, it would change investor behavior, which in turn would prod those companies to change their behavior.”

Read “How Ignoring Climate Change Can Sink the U.S. Economy.”

You can also view the CFR InfoGuide “The Emerging Arctic,” an interactive guide examining the economic opportunities and environmental risks emerging in the Arctic.

You can also read a blog post on the U.S. oil boom by CFR Senior Fellow and Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies Michael Levi.

   
 

About CFR

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher dedicated to being a resource for its members, government officials, business executives, journalists, educators and students, civic and religious leaders, and other interested citizens in order to help them better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other countries.

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

 

With  Interference from Breaking News from the battle fields in the Ukraine and the Muslim World – the US and Russia are at Cold War level; Israel has already 20 dead (two civilians) and dozens wounded – Fareed Zakaria on CNN/Global Public Square did his best this Sunday July 20, 2014, to try to make sense from the present global wars.
I will try to reorganize the material into a neat tableau that can be viewed as a whole.

Fareed’s own introduction was about what happened in recent years is a “democratization of violence” that created an asymmetry like in Al Qaeda’s 9/11 where each of their one dollar generated the need for  7 million dollars to be spent by the US in order to counter-react. Thus, before, it was armies of States that were needed to have a war – now everyone can cause it with a pauper’s means.

Then he continued by saying that this is NOT what happened in Ukraine. There Putin was trying to fake it, by using his resources large State resources to create from former Russian soldiers a “rebel force in the Ukraine.”  The Kremlin is operating the rebels in a situation where the military expenditures by Russia, which are 35 times larger then those of the Ukraine, take care of the expenditures of this war.

But where Vladimir Putin miscalculated – it is that he did not realize that when he takes the ginny of Nationalism out of his dark box, he will never be able to cause it to go back. Putin unleashed both – Russian and Ukrainian Nationalism and it might be that by now he is no boss over the outcome anymore.

Let us face it – G.W. Bush played a similar game in Iraq and Afghanistan and the US will not be  master in the Middle East anymore.
Zbigniew Brzezinski was asked on the program what should Obama do?

He thinks this is a historical defining moment that allows still to Putin to redeem himself. It is for him – rather then somebody else – to call for an International tribunal and allow open investigation by telling the pro-Russians in the Ukraine, whom he supported and provided them with arms, that they crossed the line.  Brzezinski says this is a situation for Europe like it was before WWII.

The issue is that the Europeans are not yet behind the US. London is a Las Vegas for the Russians, France supplies them military goods, it was a German Chancellor before Merkel who made Europe dependent on Rusian gas.
Without being clearly united behind the US, the West will get nowhere.

On the other hand – Russia, seeing the sanctions coming, sees the prospect of becoming a China satellite if sanctions go into effect. Not a great prospect for itself either.

So, the answer is Obama leadership to be backed by the Europeans and Putin making steps to smooth out the situation and redeem himself. This is the only way to save the old order.

Steven Cohen, Professor on Russia at Princeton: The US is in a complicated situation by having backed fully the Ukrainian government.

It is the US that pushed Putin to take his positions. The Ukraine is a divided country and the story is not just a recent development. Putin cannot just walk away from the separatists in the Ukraine – they will not listen to him. The reality in the Ukraine, as per Professor Cohen, is very complex and there are no good guys there – basically just a complex reality that was exploited from the outside.

Christa Freeland, a famous journalist, who is now a Canadian member of Parliament, and traveled many times to the Ukraine, completely disagrees with Cohen and says a US leadership is imperative.

Our feeling is that all this discussion goes on as if it were in a vacuum – the true reality is that in the Globalized World we are far beyond the post WWII configuration that was just Trans-Atlantic with a Eurasian Continental spur going to China and Japan.  What has happened since is the RISE OF THE REST OF THE WORLD – with China, india, Brazil, and even South Africa, telling the West that besides dealing with Russia the West must deal with them as well !!
 The BRICS meeting in Fortaleza (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) where this week they established a $50 Billion alternative to the World Bank and a $100 Billion alternative to the IMF, ought to be part of the negotiation in the US and at the EU Member States  when talking about a post-Ukraine-flare-up World. The timing may have been coincidental – but the build-up was not.

These days there is the celebration of 70 years (1–22 July 1944) of the establishing of the Bretton Woods agreements system that created the old institutions that can be changed only with the help of US Congress – something that just will not happen. Those are the World Bank and the IMF – but In the meantime China has become the World’s largest economy and they still have less voting power at the World Bank then the three BENELUX countries.
The BRICS do not accept anymore the domination of the US dollar over their economies. If nothing else they want a seat at the table, and detest the fact that three out of five are not even at the UN Security Council.

So, the New World Order will have to account for this Rise of the Rest having had the old order based just on the West.

   Further on today’s program, Paul Krugman a very wise man, a Nobel Prize holder in Economics, was brought in to show  a quick take on the economy. He made it clear that there is an improvement but it is by far not enough.

It is more half empty then half full because by now it should have been better. But he stressed that despite the interference, Obamacare works better and ahead of expectations. Even premiums rise slower then before.

Yes, there are some losers, but this is a narrow group of young and healthy, but people that were supposed to be helped are helped.

On energy – yes – renewable costs are lower then expected.

Obama’s grade? Over all B or B-, but on what he endured from the opposition A-. Yes, we can trust Obama to decide the correct moves – and on International and Foreign Policy the White House has freer hands then in Internal, National, policy. His presidency is the most consequential since Ronald Reagan – whatever we think of Reagan – but in Obama’s case, he will leave behind  a legacy of the country having been involved in less disasters, but leaving behind more achievements – be those in health-care, environment, finances, energy, migration, etc. then any President of the last 40 years. But where does this leave him in relation to the Rest of the World?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 28th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 In an effort to distance himself and his Administration from isolationism, while stepping back from pure militarism – just because we have a hammer we will not see every problem to be a nail – he suggests to lead by example, while cooperating with partners.  He will do so because this is in America’s interest and it is also the ethical thing to do under his belief in American exceptionalism.

President Barack Obama defended his foreign policy record and laid out his plan for how to deal with the future.  He told those attending the graduation ceremony at the U.S. Military Academy that “America must always lead on the world stage.”   The military “always will be the backbone of that leadership,”  Obama said, but U.S. military action “cannot be the only — or primary — component of our leadership in every instance.”

“I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being,” Obama said. “But what makes us exceptional is not our ability to flout international norms and the rule of law; it’s our willingness to affirm them through our actions.”

——————-

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release                               May 28, 2014

 

 

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

AT WEST POINT ACADEMY COMMENCEMENT CEREMONY

 

U.S. Military Academy-West Point

West Point, New York

 

10:22 A.M. EDT

 

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Thank you.  And thank you, General Caslen, for that introduction.  To General Trainor, General Clarke, the faculty and staff at West Point — you have been outstanding stewards of this proud institution and outstanding mentors for the newest officers in the United States Army.  I’d like to acknowledge the Army’s leadership — General McHugh — Secretary McHugh, General Odierno, as well as Senator Jack Reed, who is here, and a proud graduate of West Point himself. 

 

To the class of 2014, I congratulate you on taking your place on the Long Gray Line.  Among you is the first all-female command team — Erin Mauldin and Austen Boroff.  In Calla Glavin, you have a Rhodes Scholar.  And Josh Herbeck proves that West Point accuracy extends beyond the three-point line.  To the entire class, let me reassure you in these final hours at West Point:  As Commander-in-Chief, I hereby absolve all cadets who are on restriction for minor conduct offenses.  (Laughter and applause.)  Let me just say that nobody ever did that for me when I was in school.  (Laughter.) 

 

I know you join me in extending a word of thanks to your families.  Joe DeMoss, whose son James is graduating, spoke for a whole lot of parents when he wrote me a letter about the sacrifices you’ve made.  “Deep inside,” he wrote, “we want to explode with pride at what they are committing to do in the service of our country.”  Like several graduates, James is a combat veteran.  And I would ask all of us here today to stand and pay tribute — not only to the veterans among us, but to the more than 2.5 million Americans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as their families.  (Applause.)

 

This is a particularly useful time for America to reflect on those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom, a few days after Memorial Day.  You are the first class to graduate since 9/11 who may not be sent into combat in Iraq or Afghanistan.  (Applause.)  When I first spoke at West Point in 2009, we still had more than 100,000 troops in Iraq.  We were preparing to surge in Afghanistan.  Our counterterrorism efforts were focused on al Qaeda’s core leadership — those who had carried out the 9/11 attacks.  And our nation was just beginning a long climb out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

 

Four and a half years later, as you graduate, the landscape has changed.  We have removed our troops from Iraq.  We are winding down our war in Afghanistan.  Al Qaeda’s leadership on the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been decimated, and Osama bin Laden is no more.  (Applause.)  And through it all, we’ve refocused our investments in what has always been a key source of American strength:  a growing economy that can provide opportunity for everybody who’s willing to work hard and take responsibility here at home.

 

In fact, by most measures, America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world.  Those who argue otherwise — who suggest that America is in decline, or has seen its global leadership slip away — are either misreading history or engaged in partisan politics.  Think about it.  Our military has no peer.  The odds of a direct threat against us by any nation are low and do not come close to the dangers we faced during the Cold War.

Meanwhile, our economy remains the most dynamic on Earth; our businesses the most innovative.  Each year, we grow more energy independent.  From Europe to Asia, we are the hub of alliances unrivaled in the history of nations.  America continues to attract striving immigrants.  The values of our founding inspire leaders in parliaments and new movements in public squares around the globe.  And when a typhoon hits the Philippines, or schoolgirls are kidnapped in Nigeria, or masked men occupy a building in Ukraine, it is America that the world looks to for help.  (Applause.)  So the United States is and remains the one indispensable nation.  That has been true for the century passed and it will be true for the century to come.

 

But the world is changing with accelerating speed.  This presents opportunity, but also new dangers.  We know all too well, after 9/11, just how technology and globalization has put power once reserved for states in the hands of individuals, raising the capacity of terrorists to do harm.  Russia’s aggression toward former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe, while China’s economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors.  From Brazil to India, rising middle classes compete with us, and governments seek a greater say in global forums.  And even as developing nations embrace democracy and market economies, 24-hour news and social media makes it impossible to ignore the continuation of sectarian conflicts and failing states and popular uprisings that might have received only passing notice a generation ago.

 

It will be your generation’s task to respond to this new world.  The question we face, the question each of you will face, is not whether America will lead, but how we will lead — not just to secure our peace and prosperity, but also extend peace and prosperity around the globe.

 

Now, this question isn’t new.  At least since George Washington served as Commander-in-Chief, there have been those who warned against foreign entanglements that do not touch directly on our security or economic wellbeing.  Today, according to self-described realists, conflicts in Syria or Ukraine or the Central African Republic are not ours to solve.  And not surprisingly, after costly wars and continuing challenges here at home, that view is shared by many Americans.

 

A different view from interventionists from the left and right says that we ignore these conflicts at our own peril; that America’s willingness to apply force around the world is the ultimate safeguard against chaos, and America’s failure to act in the face of Syrian brutality or Russian provocations not only violates our conscience, but invites escalating aggression in the future.

 

And each side can point to history to support its claims. But I believe neither view fully speaks to the demands of this moment.  It is absolutely true that in the 21st century American isolationism is not an option.  We don’t have a choice to ignore what happens beyond our borders.  If nuclear materials are not secure, that poses a danger to American cities.  As the Syrian civil war spills across borders, the capacity of battle-hardened extremist groups to come after us only increases.  Regional aggression that goes unchecked — whether in southern Ukraine or the South China Sea, or anywhere else in the world — will ultimately impact our allies and could draw in our military.  We can’t ignore what happens beyond our boundaries.

 

And beyond these narrow rationales, I believe we have a real stake, an abiding self-interest, in making sure our children and our grandchildren grow up in a world where schoolgirls are not kidnapped and where individuals are not slaughtered because of tribe or faith or political belief.  I believe that a world of greater freedom and tolerance is not only a moral imperative, it also helps to keep us safe.

 

But to say that we have an interest in pursuing peace and freedom beyond our borders is not to say that every problem has a military solution.  Since World War II, some of our most costly mistakes came not from our restraint, but from our willingness to rush into military adventures without thinking through the consequences — without building international support and legitimacy for our action; without leveling with the American people about the sacrifices required.  Tough talk often draws headlines, but war rarely conforms to slogans.  As General Eisenhower, someone with hard-earned knowledge on this subject, said at this ceremony in 1947:  “War is mankind’s most tragic and stupid folly; to seek or advise its deliberate provocation is a black crime against all men.”

 

Like Eisenhower, this generation of men and women in uniform know all too well the wages of war, and that includes those of you here at West Point.  Four of the servicemembers who stood in the audience when I announced the surge of our forces in Afghanistan gave their lives in that effort.  A lot more were wounded.  I believe America’s security demanded those deployments.  But I am haunted by those deaths.  I am haunted by those wounds.  And I would betray my duty to you and to the country we love if I ever sent you into harm’s way simply because I saw a problem somewhere in the world that needed to be fixed, or because I was worried about critics who think military intervention is the only way for America to avoid looking weak.  

 

Here’s my bottom line:  America must always lead on the world stage.  If we don’t, no one else will.  The military that you have joined is and always will be the backbone of that leadership.  But U.S. military action cannot be the only — or even primary — component of our leadership in every instance. Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail.  And because the costs associated with military action are so high, you should expect every civilian leader — and especially your Commander-in-Chief — to be clear about how that awesome power should be used.

 

So let me spend the rest of my time describing my vision for how the United States of America and our military should lead in the years to come, for you will be part of that leadership.  

 

First, let me repeat a principle I put forward at the outset of my presidency:  The United States will use military force, unilaterally if necessary, when our core interests demand it — when our people are threatened, when our livelihoods are at stake, when the security of our allies is in danger.  In these circumstances, we still need to ask tough questions about whether our actions are proportional and effective and just.  International opinion matters, but America should never ask permission to protect our people, our homeland, or our way of life.  (Applause.)  

 

On the other hand, when issues of global concern do not pose a direct threat to the United States, when such issues are at stake — when crises arise that stir our conscience or push the world in a more dangerous direction but do not directly threaten us — then the threshold for military action must be higher.  In such circumstances, we should not go it alone.  Instead, we must mobilize allies and partners to take collective action.  We have to broaden our tools to include diplomacy and development; sanctions and isolation; appeals to international law; and, if just, necessary and effective, multilateral military action.  In such circumstances, we have to work with others because collective action in these circumstances is more likely to succeed, more likely to be sustained, less likely to lead to costly mistakes.

 

This leads to my second point:  For the foreseeable future, the most direct threat to America at home and abroad remains terrorism.  But a strategy that involves invading every country that harbors terrorist networks is naïve and unsustainable.  I believe we must shift our counterterrorism strategy — drawing on the successes and shortcomings of our experience in Iraq and Afghanistan — to more effectively partner with countries where terrorist networks seek a foothold.

 

And the need for a new strategy reflects the fact that today’s principal threat no longer comes from a centralized al Qaeda leadership.  Instead, it comes from decentralized al Qaeda affiliates and extremists, many with agendas focused in countries where they operate.  And this lessens the possibility of large-scale 9/11-style attacks against the homeland, but it heightens the danger of U.S. personnel overseas being attacked, as we saw in Benghazi.  It heightens the danger to less defensible targets, as we saw in a shopping mall in Nairobi. 

 

So we have to develop a strategy that matches this diffuse threat — one that expands our reach without sending forces that stretch our military too thin, or stir up local resentments.  We need partners to fight terrorists alongside us.  And empowering partners is a large part of what we have done and what we are currently doing in Afghanistan. 

 

Together with our allies, America struck huge blows against al Qaeda core and pushed back against an insurgency that threatened to overrun the country.  But sustaining this progress depends on the ability of Afghans to do the job.  And that’s why we trained hundreds of thousands of Afghan soldiers and police.  Earlier this spring, those forces, those Afghan forces, secured an election in which Afghans voted for the first democratic transfer of power in their history.  And at the end of this year, a new Afghan President will be in office and America’s combat mission will be over.  (Applause.)

 

Now, that was an enormous achievement made because of America’s armed forces.  But as we move to a train-and-advise mission in Afghanistan, our reduced presence allows us to more effectively address emerging threats in the Middle East and North Africa.  So, earlier this year, I asked my national security team to develop a plan for a network of partnerships from South Asia to the Sahel.  Today, as part of this effort, I am calling on Congress to support a new Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund of up to $5 billion, which will allow us to train, build capacity, and facilitate partner countries on the front lines.  And these resources will give us flexibility to fulfill different missions, including training security forces in Yemen who have gone on the offensive against al Qaeda; supporting a multinational force to keep the peace in Somalia; working with European allies to train a functioning security force and border patrol in Libya; and facilitating French operations in Mali.

 

A critical focus of this effort will be the ongoing crisis in Syria.  As frustrating as it is, there are no easy answers, no military solution that can eliminate the terrible suffering anytime soon.  As President, I made a decision that we should not put American troops into the middle of this increasingly sectarian war, and I believe that is the right decision.  But that does not mean we shouldn’t help the Syrian people stand up against a dictator who bombs and starves his own people.  And in helping those who fight for the right of all Syrians to choose their own future, we are also pushing back against the growing number of extremists who find safe haven in the chaos.  

 

So with the additional resources I’m announcing today, we will step up our efforts to support Syria’s neighbors — Jordan and Lebanon; Turkey and Iraq — as they contend with refugees and confront terrorists working across Syria’s borders.  I will work with Congress to ramp up support for those in the Syrian opposition who offer the best alternative to terrorists and brutal dictators.  And we will continue to coordinate with our friends and allies in Europe and the Arab World to push for a political resolution of this crisis, and to make sure that those countries and not just the United States are contributing their fair share to support the Syrian people.

 

Let me make one final point about our efforts against terrorism.  The partnerships I’ve described do not eliminate the need to take direct action when necessary to protect ourselves. When we have actionable intelligence, that’s what we do — through capture operations like the one that brought a terrorist involved in the plot to bomb our embassies in 1998 to face justice; or drone strikes like those we’ve carried out in Yemen and Somalia.  There are times when those actions are necessary, and we cannot hesitate to protect our people. 

 

But as I said last year, in taking direct action we must uphold standards that reflect our values.  That means taking strikes only when we face a continuing, imminent threat, and only where there is no certainty — there is near certainty of no civilian casualties.  For our actions should meet a simple test:  We must not create more enemies than we take off the battlefield.

 

I also believe we must be more transparent about both the basis of our counterterrorism actions and the manner in which they are carried out.  We have to be able to explain them publicly, whether it is drone strikes or training partners.  I will increasingly turn to our military to take the lead and provide information to the public about our efforts.  Our intelligence community has done outstanding work, and we have to continue to protect sources and methods.  But when we cannot explain our efforts clearly and publicly, we face terrorist propaganda and international suspicion, we erode legitimacy with our partners and our people, and we reduce accountability in our own government.

 

And this issue of transparency is directly relevant to a third aspect of American leadership, and that is our effort to strengthen and enforce international order. 

 

After World War II, America had the wisdom to shape institutions to keep the peace and support human progress — from NATO and the United Nations, to the World Bank and IMF.  These institutions are not perfect, but they have been a force multiplier.  They reduce the need for unilateral American action and increase restraint among other nations. 

 

Now, just as the world has changed, this architecture must change as well.  At the height of the Cold War, President Kennedy spoke about the need for a peace based upon, “a gradual evolution in human institutions.”  And evolving these international institutions to meet the demands of today must be a critical part of American leadership. 

 

Now, there are a lot of folks, a lot of skeptics, who often downplay the effectiveness of multilateral action.  For them, working through international institutions like the U.N. or respecting international law is a sign of weakness.  I think they’re wrong.  Let me offer just two examples why.

 

In Ukraine, Russia’s recent actions recall the days when Soviet tanks rolled into Eastern Europe.   But this isn’t the Cold War.  Our ability to shape world opinion helped isolate Russia right away.  Because of American leadership, the world immediately condemned Russian actions; Europe and the G7 joined us to impose sanctions; NATO reinforced our commitment to Eastern European allies; the IMF is helping to stabilize Ukraine’s economy; OSCE monitors brought the eyes of the world to unstable parts of Ukraine.  And this mobilization of world opinion and international institutions served as a counterweight to Russian propaganda and Russian troops on the border and armed militias in ski masks.

 

This weekend, Ukrainians voted by the millions.  Yesterday, I spoke to their next President.  We don’t know how the situation will play out and there will remain grave challenges ahead, but standing with our allies on behalf of international order working with international institutions, has given a chance for the Ukrainian people to choose their future without us firing a shot. 

 

Similarly, despite frequent warnings from the United States and Israel and others, the Iranian nuclear program steadily advanced for years.  But at the beginning of my presidency, we built a coalition that imposed sanctions on the Iranian economy, while extending the hand of diplomacy to the Iranian government.  And now we have an opportunity to resolve our differences peacefully. 

 

The odds of success are still long, and we reserve all options to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  But for the first time in a decade, we have a very real chance of achieving a breakthrough agreement — one that is more effective and durable than what we could have achieved through the use of force.  And throughout these negotiations, it has been our willingness to work through multilateral channels that kept the world on our side.

 

The point is this is American leadership.  This is American strength.  In each case, we built coalitions to respond to a specific challenge.  Now we need to do more to strengthen the institutions that can anticipate and prevent problems from spreading.  For example, NATO is the strongest alliance the world has ever known.  But we’re now working with NATO allies to meet new missions, both within Europe where our Eastern allies must be reassured, but also beyond Europe’s borders where our NATO allies must pull their weight to counterterrorism and respond to failed states and train a network of partners.

 

Likewise, the U.N. provides a platform to keep the peace in states torn apart by conflict.  Now we need to make sure that those nations who provide peacekeepers have the training and equipment to actually keep the peace, so that we can prevent the type of killing we’ve seen in Congo and Sudan.  We are going to deepen our investment in countries that support these peacekeeping missions, because having other nations maintain order in their own neighborhoods lessens the need for us to put our own troops in harm’s way.  It’s a smart investment.  It’s the right way to lead.  (Applause.) 

 

Keep in mind, not all international norms relate directly to armed conflict.  We have a serious problem with cyber-attacks, which is why we’re working to shape and enforce rules of the road to secure our networks and our citizens.  In the Asia Pacific, we’re supporting Southeast Asian nations as they negotiate a code of conduct with China on maritime disputes in the South China Sea.  And we’re working to resolve these disputes through international law.  That spirit of cooperation needs to energize the global effort to combat climate change — a creeping national security crisis that will help shape your time in uniform, as we are called on to respond to refugee flows and natural disasters and conflicts over water and food, which is why next year I intend to make sure America is out front in putting together a global framework to preserve our planet. 

 

You see, American influence is always stronger when we lead by example.  We can’t exempt ourselves from the rules that apply to everybody else.  We can’t call on others to make commitments to combat climate change if a whole lot of our political leaders deny that it’s taking place.  We can’t try to resolve problems in the South China Sea when we have refused to make sure that the Law of the Sea Convention is ratified by our United States Senate, despite the fact that our top military leaders say the treaty advances our national security.  That’s not leadership; that’s retreat.  That’s not strength; that’s weakness.  It would be utterly foreign to leaders like Roosevelt and Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy.

 

I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being.  But what makes us exceptional is not our ability to flout international norms and the rule of law; it is our willingness to affirm them through our actions.  (Applause.)  And that’s why I will continue to push to close Gitmo — because American values and legal traditions do not permit the indefinite detention of people beyond our borders.  (Applause.)  That’s why we’re putting in place new restrictions on how America collects and uses intelligence — because we will have fewer partners and be less effective if a perception takes hold that we’re conducting surveillance against ordinary citizens.  (Applause.)  America does not simply stand for stability or the absence of conflict, no matter what the cost.  We stand for the more lasting peace that can only come through opportunity and freedom for people everywhere. 

 

Which brings me to the fourth and final element of American leadership:  Our willingness to act on behalf of human dignity.  America’s support for democracy and human rights goes beyond idealism — it is a matter of national security.  Democracies are our closest friends and are far less likely to go to war.  Economies based on free and open markets perform better and become markets for our goods.  Respect for human rights is an antidote to instability and the grievances that fuel violence and terror.

 

A new century has brought no end to tyranny.  In capitals around the globe — including, unfortunately, some of America’s partners — there has been a crackdown on civil society.  The cancer of corruption has enriched too many governments and their cronies, and enraged citizens from remote villages to iconic squares.  And watching these trends, or the violent upheavals in parts of the Arab World, it’s easy to be cynical.

 

But remember that because of America’s efforts, because of American diplomacy and foreign assistance as well as the sacrifices of our military, more people live under elected governments today than at any time in human history.  Technology is empowering civil society in ways that no iron fist can control.  New breakthroughs are lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.  And even the upheaval of the Arab World reflects the rejection of an authoritarian order that was anything but stable, and now offers the long-term prospect of more responsive and effective governance. 

 

In countries like Egypt, we acknowledge that our relationship is anchored in security interests — from peace treaties with Israel, to shared efforts against violent extremism.  So we have not cut off cooperation with the new government, but we can and will persistently press for reforms that the Egyptian people have demanded.

 

And meanwhile, look at a country like Burma, which only a few years ago was an intractable dictatorship and hostile to the United States — 40 million people.  Thanks to the enormous courage of the people in that country, and because we took the diplomatic initiative, American leadership, we have seen political reforms opening a once closed society; a movement by Burmese leadership away from partnership with North Korea in favor of engagement with America and our allies.  We’re now supporting reform and badly needed national reconciliation through assistance and investment, through coaxing and, at times, public criticism.  And progress there could be reversed, but if Burma succeeds we will have gained a new partner without having fired a shot.  American leadership.

 

In each of these cases, we should not expect change to happen overnight.  That’s why we form alliances not just with governments, but also with ordinary people.  For unlike other nations, America is not afraid of individual empowerment, we are strengthened by it.  We’re strengthened by civil society.  We’re strengthened by a free press.  We’re strengthened by striving entrepreneurs and small businesses.  We’re strengthened by educational exchange and opportunity for all people, and women and girls.  That’s who we are.  That’s what we represent.  (Applause.)  

 

I saw that through a trip to Africa last year, where American assistance has made possible the prospect of an AIDS-free generation, while helping Africans care themselves for their sick.  We’re helping farmers get their products to market, to feed populations once endangered by famine.  We aim to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa so people are connected to the promise of the global economy.  And all this creates new partners and shrinks the space for terrorism and conflict. 

 

Now, tragically, no American security operation can eradicate the threat posed by an extremist group like Boko Haram, the group that kidnapped those girls.  And that’s why we have to focus not just on rescuing those girls right away, but also on supporting Nigerian efforts to educate its youth.  This should be one of the hard-earned lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan, where our military became the strongest advocate for diplomacy and development.  They understood that foreign assistance is not an afterthought, something nice to do apart from our national defense, apart from our national security.  It is part of what makes us strong.

 

Ultimately, global leadership requires us to see the world as it is, with all its danger and uncertainty.  We have to be prepared for the worst, prepared for every contingency.  But American leadership also requires us to see the world as it should be — a place where the aspirations of individual human beings really matters; where hopes and not just fears govern; where the truths written into our founding documents can steer the currents of history in a direction of justice.  And we cannot do that without you.

 

Class of 2014, you have taken this time to prepare on the quiet banks of the Hudson.  You leave this place to carry forward a legacy that no other military in human history can claim.  You do so as part of a team that extends beyond your units or even our Armed Forces, for in the course of your service you will work as a team with diplomats and development experts.  You’ll get to know allies and train partners.  And you will embody what it means for America to lead the world.

 

Next week, I will go to Normandy to honor the men who stormed the beaches there.  And while it’s hard for many Americans to comprehend the courage and sense of duty that guided those who boarded small ships, it’s familiar to you.  At West Point, you define what it means to be a patriot.

 

Three years ago, Gavin White graduated from this academy. He then served in Afghanistan.  Like the soldiers who came before him, Gavin was in a foreign land, helping people he’d never met, putting himself in harm’s way for the sake of his community and his family, of the folks back home.  Gavin lost one of his legs in an attack.  I met him last year at Walter Reed.  He was wounded, but just as determined as the day that he arrived here at West Point — and he developed a simple goal.  Today, his sister Morgan will graduate.  And true to his promise, Gavin will be there to stand and exchange salutes with her.  (Applause.) 

 

We have been through a long season of war.  We have faced trials that were not foreseen, and we’ve seen divisions about how to move forward.  But there is something in Gavin’s character, there is something in the American character that will always triumph.  Leaving here, you carry with you the respect of your fellow citizens.  You will represent a nation with history and hope on our side.  Your charge, now, is not only to protect our country, but to do what is right and just.   As your Commander-in-Chief, I know you will.

 

May God bless you.  May God bless our men and women in uniform.  And may God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

 

                        END                11:08 A.M. EDT

###

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

 

Organ Mountains

President Obama has just signed a proclamation designating almost 500,000 acres of the Potrillo Mountains, Sierra de las Uvas, Robledos Mountains and the surrounding desert in southern New Mexico as the nation’s newest monument — Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks.

Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks is the crown jewel of the Southern Rockies and is one of the most deserving iconic places in America to receive this designation. The monument is filled with majestic mountains, big horn sheep, pronghorn antelope, rare plant species, petroglyph-lined canyons, the Apollo Mission training sites and historical events in western history that include people like Billy the Kid and Geronimo.

Iconic monument designations don’t happen every day. It’s important the president knows that when he protects America’s special places we have his back.

In addition to protecting invaluable landscapes, wildlife and cultural areas — economic studies show this designation has the potential to add more than $7.4 million in additional annual economic activity — doubling the number of jobs supported by outdoor recreation and tourism industry in the region. This is a win-win for the environment and the economy.

This designation also represents years of hard work by local communities and lawmakers to protect this region and is the president’s first large, iconic, landscape-scale monument designation. More than 15,000 New Mexicans submitted public comments in support of a monument, adding their voices to those of business leaders, elected officials, recreation, conservation, Native American and Latino groups and leaders like U.S. Senators Udall and Heinrich and retired Senator Bingaman.

Monument designation is an important tool the president has to protect our wilderness heritage. And thanks to years of hard work by people like you this beautiful landscape will forever be protected and enjoyed by future generations.

Thanks to President Obama for designating Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks as our nation’s newest monument.

 

 

###

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

 

Ban Ki-moon: China must offer global climate ‘leadership’

UN Secretary General hails Chinese efforts to combat climate change during trip to Shanghai

- See more at: 

Ban Ki-moon: China must offer global climate ‘leadership’

Last updated on 20 May 2014,  RTCC. org (Responding to Climate Change)

UN Secretary General hails Chinese efforts to combat climate change during trip to Shanghai.

- See more at: www.rtcc.org/2014/05/20/ban-ki-mo…

Ban Ki-moon is greeted by Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. (Pic: UN Photo/Mark Garten)

Ban Ki-moon is greeted by Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. (Pic: UN Photo/Mark Garten)

- See more at: www.rtcc.org/2014/05/20/ban-ki-mo…

By Sophie Yeo

China must provide “global leadership” in the fight against climate change, said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, speaking in Shanghai yesterday.

The UN chief is visiting China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, ahead of the climate change summit that he will convene in September, where world leaders are invited to make “bold pledges” on how their country can tackle global warming.

China should lead this global effort, Ban stressed during a talk to the Shanghai Institute of International Studies, and highlighted existing government actions to address the country’s rapidly rising greenhouse gas emissions.

“Here in China you are on the frontlines of the fight – with new carbon markets, large investments in renewable energy and strong new laws on pollution,” he said.

Since arriving in China on Sunday, Ban Ki-moon has held discussions with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. According to a UN spokesperson, Ban told Li that he hoped to see China present both its national and global climate vision during his September Summit.

In 2009 China pledged to reduce its output of greenhouse gases 40-45% per unit of GDP by 2020 compared to 2005 levels. Since Chinese emissions continue to grow, this does not equal a reduction in absolute emissions.

Development goals

Due to the rate of its greenhouse gas emissions, China’s contribution to a 2015 UN climate deal will be crucial to the global push to stop global warming reaching dangerous levels. China is engaging in intense diplomacy with other large emitters from the developed world, particularly the US, in order to figure out how to shape such a deal.

Ban also highlighted the importance of shaping the UN’s new development framework, called the Sustainable Development Goals, which will replace the Millennium Development Goals in 2015. The new targets, he said, will help to end extreme poverty and “allow us to focus on sustainable development as a model for the global economy.”

The impacts of climate change are already being felt across the world, said Ban: “Key resources – energy, food, land, water, clean air – are in progressively shorter supply.”

Scientists, economists and the military have all sounded the alarm on the negative consequences of a warmer world.

A report last week from ratings agency Standard and Poor (S&P) warned that climate change could threaten sovereign credit ratings, with vulnerable countries being hit the hardest. Bangladesh, Senegal and Vietnam were the placed at the bottom of S&P’s ranking of vulnerable countries.

The report explained: “This is in part due to their reliance on agricultural production and employment, which can be vulnerable to shifting climate patterns and extreme weather events, but also due to their weaker capacity to absorb the financial cost.”

 

Ban Ki-moon: China must offer global climate ‘leadership’

UN Secretary General hails Chinese efforts to combat climate change during trip to Shanghai

Ban Ki-moon is greeted by Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. (Pic: UN Photo/Mark Garten)

Ban Ki-moon is greeted by Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. (Pic: UN Photo/Mark Garten)

By Sophie Yeo

China must provide “global leadership” in the fight against climate change, said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, speaking in Shanghai yesterday.

The UN chief is visiting China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, ahead of the climate change summit that he will convene in September, where world leaders are invited to make “bold pledges” on how their country can tackle global warming.

China should lead this global effort, Ban stressed during a talk to the Shanghai Institute of International Studies, and highlighted existing government actions to address the country’s rapidly rising greenhouse gas emissions.

“Here in China you are on the frontlines of the fight – with new carbon markets, large investments in renewable energy and strong new laws on pollution,” he said.

Since arriving in China on Sunday, Ban Ki-moon has held discussions with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. According to a UN spokesperson, Ban told Li that he hoped to see China present both its national and global climate vision during his September Summit.

In 2009 China pledged to reduce its output of greenhouse gases 40-45% per unit of GDP by 2020 compared to 2005 levels. Since Chinese emissions continue to grow, this does not equal a reduction in absolute emissions.

Development goals

Due to the rate of its greenhouse gas emissions, China’s contribution to a 2015 UN climate deal will be crucial to the global push to stop global warming reaching dangerous levels. China is engaging in intense diplomacy with other large emitters from the developed world, particularly the US, in order to figure out how to shape such a deal.

Ban also highlighted the importance of shaping the UN’s new development framework, called the Sustainable Development Goals, which will replace the Millennium Development Goals in 2015. The new targets, he said, will help to end extreme poverty and “allow us to focus on sustainable development as a model for the global economy.”

The impacts of climate change are already being felt across the world, said Ban: “Key resources – energy, food, land, water, clean air – are in progressively shorter supply.”

Scientists, economists and the military have all sounded the alarm on the negative consequences of a warmer world.

A report last week from ratings agency Standard and Poor (S&P) warned that climate change could threaten sovereign credit ratings, with vulnerable countries being hit the hardest. Bangladesh, Senegal and Vietnam were the placed at the bottom of S&P’s ranking of vulnerable countries.

The report explained: “This is in part due to their reliance on agricultural production and employment, which can be vulnerable to shifting climate patterns and extreme weather events, but also due to their weaker capacity to absorb the financial cost.”

- See more at: 

Ban Ki-moon: China must offer global climate ‘leadership’

UN Secretary General hails Chinese efforts to combat climate change during trip to Shanghai

Ban Ki-moon is greeted by Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. (Pic: UN Photo/Mark Garten)

Ban Ki-moon is greeted by Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. (Pic: UN Photo/Mark Garten)

By Sophie Yeo

China must provide “global leadership” in the fight against climate change, said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, speaking in Shanghai yesterday.

The UN chief is visiting China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, ahead of the climate change summit that he will convene in September, where world leaders are invited to make “bold pledges” on how their country can tackle global warming.

China should lead this global effort, Ban stressed during a talk to the Shanghai Institute of International Studies, and highlighted existing government actions to address the country’s rapidly rising greenhouse gas emissions.

“Here in China you are on the frontlines of the fight – with new carbon markets, large investments in renewable energy and strong new laws on pollution,” he said.

Since arriving in China on Sunday, Ban Ki-moon has held discussions with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. According to a UN spokesperson, Ban told Li that he hoped to see China present both its national and global climate vision during his September Summit.

In 2009 China pledged to reduce its output of greenhouse gases 40-45% per unit of GDP by 2020 compared to 2005 levels. Since Chinese emissions continue to grow, this does not equal a reduction in absolute emissions.

Development goals

Due to the rate of its greenhouse gas emissions, China’s contribution to a 2015 UN climate deal will be crucial to the global push to stop global warming reaching dangerous levels. China is engaging in intense diplomacy with other large emitters from the developed world, particularly the US, in order to figure out how to shape such a deal.

Ban also highlighted the importance of shaping the UN’s new development framework, called the Sustainable Development Goals, which will replace the Millennium Development Goals in 2015. The new targets, he said, will help to end extreme poverty and “allow us to focus on sustainable development as a model for the global economy.”

The impacts of climate change are already being felt across the world, said Ban: “Key resources – energy, food, land, water, clean air – are in progressively shorter supply.”

Scientists, economists and the military have all sounded the alarm on the negative consequences of a warmer world.

A report last week from ratings agency Standard and Poor (S&P) warned that climate change could threaten sovereign credit ratings, with vulnerable countries being hit the hardest. Bangladesh, Senegal and Vietnam were the placed at the bottom of S&P’s ranking of vulnerable countries.

The report explained: “This is in part due to their reliance on agricultural production and employment, which can be vulnerable to shifting climate patterns and extreme weather events, but also due to their weaker capacity to absorb the financial cost.”

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Ban Ki-moon: China must offer global climate ‘leadership’

UN Secretary General hails Chinese efforts to combat climate change during trip to Shanghai

Ban Ki-moon is greeted by Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. (Pic: UN Photo/Mark Garten)

Ban Ki-moon is greeted by Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. (Pic: UN Photo/Mark Garten)

By Sophie Yeo

China must provide “global leadership” in the fight against climate change, said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, speaking in Shanghai yesterday.

The UN chief is visiting China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, ahead of the climate change summit that he will convene in September, where world leaders are invited to make “bold pledges” on how their country can tackle global warming.

China should lead this global effort, Ban stressed during a talk to the Shanghai Institute of International Studies, and highlighted existing government actions to address the country’s rapidly rising greenhouse gas emissions.

“Here in China you are on the frontlines of the fight – with new carbon markets, large investments in renewable energy and strong new laws on pollution,” he said.

Since arriving in China on Sunday, Ban Ki-moon has held discussions with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. According to a UN spokesperson, Ban told Li that he hoped to see China present both its national and global climate vision during his September Summit.

In 2009 China pledged to reduce its output of greenhouse gases 40-45% per unit of GDP by 2020 compared to 2005 levels. Since Chinese emissions continue to grow, this does not equal a reduction in absolute emissions.

Development goals

Due to the rate of its greenhouse gas emissions, China’s contribution to a 2015 UN climate deal will be crucial to the global push to stop global warming reaching dangerous levels. China is engaging in intense diplomacy with other large emitters from the developed world, particularly the US, in order to figure out how to shape such a deal.

Ban also highlighted the importance of shaping the UN’s new development framework, called the Sustainable Development Goals, which will replace the Millennium Development Goals in 2015. The new targets, he said, will help to end extreme poverty and “allow us to focus on sustainable development as a model for the global economy.”

The impacts of climate change are already being felt across the world, said Ban: “Key resources – energy, food, land, water, clean air – are in progressively shorter supply.”

Scientists, economists and the military have all sounded the alarm on the negative consequences of a warmer world.

A report last week from ratings agency Standard and Poor (S&P) warned that climate change could threaten sovereign credit ratings, with vulnerable countries being hit the hardest. Bangladesh, Senegal and Vietnam were the placed at the bottom of S&P’s ranking of vulnerable countries.

The report explained: “This is in part due to their reliance on agricultural production and employment, which can be vulnerable to shifting climate patterns and extreme weather events, but also due to their weaker capacity to absorb the financial cost.”

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