Richard Falk’s wife is top nominee for a post on the Human Rights Council
By Hillel Neuer March 3, 2014
As UN chief Ban Ki-moon today joins foreign ministers from around the world in Geneva to inaugurate a month-long session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, he should tell the 47-nation body to stop a controversial appointment that will expose itself to ridicule.
More than once, Ban had to take the extraordinary step of condemning one of his organization’s own human rights experts — Falk — for spreading “preposterous” 9/11 conspiracy theories. After six years, term limits finally require Falk to go.
Yet it turns out that Falk may not really be leaving after all: the Human Rights Council is set to appoint his wife and closest collaborator to a similar post at the end of the month, days after Falk makes his final presentation to the plenary.
According to a UN document circulated in Geneva, Hilal Elver — a Turkish academic on law and climate change who has been married to Falk for the past 18 years, co-authoring many of his articles — is rated first among three nominees to become the council’s next “Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food.”
The troubled history of this UN mandate suggests the practices Elver would likely follow.
Despite its lofty title, the position was created by Cuba in 2000 as a political tool to attack the West, one of several UNHRC mandates created by third world dictatorships to disguise themselves as victims of human rights violations committed by Western capitalism, imperialism and racism.
The first right-to-food expert was Swiss socialist politician Jean Ziegler, a long-time shill for Havana’s Castro regime, and the shameless co-founder (and 2002 recipient) of the Mummar Gaddafi Human Rights Prize.
Turning a blind eye to genuine starvation in places like Burundi, Ziegler spent much of his time finding imaginative pretexts to use his UN mandate on hunger to attack America and Israel. He condemned the Jewish state so often that journalists began to describe him, mistakenly, as the council’s investigator on Palestine.
Sadly, there are many reasons to suspect that Elver would follow in this politicized and prejudiced path.
Like Falk, Elver is explicitly acknowledged in the world’s leading 9/11 conspiracy book, “The New Pearl Harbor” by David Ray Griffin, for the help she provided the author.
In turn, Elver’s academic work cites to Griffin’s conspiracy book, which argues that the Bush Administration helped orchestrate the attacks on the World Trade Center to justify wars against Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Elver’s words are more cautious, but hint in the same direction. In a 2012 law journal article citing to Griffin’s notorious conspiracy tract, Elver compares 9/11 to Pearl Harbor, saying that both incidents “gave permission to the government to unleash the war power” and “invade countries”, “create new hegemonies”, and “racially discriminate against and segregate the people inside the United States.”
According to Elver, the “American establishment” – she singles out the media and Hollywood — is guilty of “hostility towards Islam.”
Second, like her husband, Elver’s work is infused with dogmatism and tendentiousness, with sloppy attention to facts.
In June 2011, after the Economist advised Turkish voters to vote against the party of Recip Tayyip Erdogan, Elver and Falk published an article on the Al Jazeera website accusing the British magazine of a “Eurocentric virus,” because it “never did venture such an opinion on the eve of the election of such reactionary and militarist figures as George W. Bush, Stephen Harper, or Binyamin Netanyahu.”
The magazine, they wrote, revealed “a mentality that has not shaken itself free from the paternalism and entitlements of the bygone colonialist days.”
Similarly, Elver’s very application for the UN post underscores her unprofessionalism. Her form is replete with spelling mistakes, non-sequiturs, and even self-disqualifying answers. Asked if she satisfied the job’s conflict-of-interest rules, she replied “No.”
Third, there is every indication that Elver would, like Ziegler, twist the hunger post to go after Israel.
In 2007, Elver connected the Jewish state to “genocide” and Israelis to “Nazis.”
As UN food expert, we know exactly what her first charge will be. At a December conference in Qatar, she gave a lecture on Israel entitled “Water Apartheid.”
Like Erdogan, Elver is obsessed with what she calls in her Turkish articles the “Yahudi lobisini” — “the Jewish lobby.”
On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Elver wrote that “the Jewish lobby” is “manipulating American politics” to ensure unlimited support for Israel.
In 2012, she warned about “the strong Zionist lobby” in the United States. Indeed, “many Muslim organizations are being controlled” in the American political arena by “pro-Israel lobbyist groups.”
Appointing Elver will be like appointing Falk. They travel, work and write together. She is not only his “constant companion,” says Falk, but also his “deepest collaborator.”
When in 2012 I urged Human Rights Watch director Ken Roth to finally remove Falk from one his organization’s influential committees, after he was condemned by the UK and other countries for anti-Semitism, they did so. Yet Falk’s wife remained on, allowing the couple to continue hosting HRW events in their home.
It seems like the UN is now trying to pull the same trick.
Hillel Neuer is the executive director of UN Watch.
THE FOLLOWING SHOWS THAT UNDER UK LEADERSHIP, AND US BACKING, THE UN TURNS TO ITS MEMBER STATES’ LEGISLATORS IN ORDER TO FIND A WAY TO TACKLE CLIMATE CHANGE. IT SEEMS THAT FINALLY THE UN HAS LANDED ON SOMETHING – AND WE GIVE A LOT OF CREDIT FOR THIS TO Dr. ROBERT ORR – a US citizen - UN Assistant Secretary General in the UN Secretary-General’s office.
We are told that In 2013 there was substantive legislative progress in 8 countries (passage of “flagship legislation”) and positive advances in a further 19 countries:
– Americas: Bolivia passed its Framework Law on Mother Earth and Integral Development to Live Well; El Salvador adopted its National Climate Change Strategy; In Ecuador, Decree 1815 established the Intersectoral National Strategy for Climate Change; and in Costa Rica a draft General Law on Climate Change has been introduced and is expected to pass in 2014.
– Asia-Pacific: China published its National Adaptation Plan and made progress in drafting its national climate change law; Indonesia extended its forest moratorium; Kazakhstan introduced a pilot emissions trading scheme; Micronesia passed its Climate Change Act in late 2013.
– Europe: Poland adopted its National Strategy for Adaptation and Switzerland overhauled its CO2 Act to increase ambition. – Middle East and North Africa: Jordan passed its National Climate Change Policy; and the United Arab Emirates launched a mandatory Energy Efficiency Standardization and Labelling Scheme. – Sub-Saharan Africa: Kenya adopted 2013-2017 Climate Change Action Plan; Mozambique adopted 2013-2025 National Strategy for Climate Change;Tanzania passed its National Strategy on REDD+; Nigeria’s Legislative Council approved the adoption of a National Climate Change Policy and Response Strategy.
BUT WHEN THINGS MOVE UP THEY MAY ALSO COME DOWN – SO - * Two countries began processes to reverse legislation: – Following an election, the new Australian government has proposed to repeal aspects of the Clean Energy Act in 2014. – Japan announced a lowering of its ambition on climate change in response to its reduced reliance on nuclear energy after the tsunami and resulting accident at Fukushima. Key information on the GLOBE Partnership for Climate Legislation (supported by the UN and the World Bank Group):
* The Partnership For Climate Legislation will support national legislators in 66 countries to share best practice and to develop and oversee the implementation of legislation on climate change, natural capital accounting and forests/REDD+. The Partnership directly responds to the demand from legislators for technical, policy and analytical capacity.
* Specific aims: i. To share best legislative practice through the annual GLOBE Climate Legislation Study, national case studies and the convening of GLOBE Climate Legislation Summits. ii. To provide a dedicated international process that supports legislators – on a demand-led basis – to develop and implement climate change legislation. iii. To explore how commitments made in national legislation can be recognised within the architecture of an international climate change agreement. iv. To develop a Climate Legislation Resolution to be agreed at the World Summit of Legislators and to be taken by legislators to their respective national parliaments. v. To support legislators to obtain, use and exchange relevant climate data. * Climate-related legislation and policies (including mitigation, adaptation and forests/REDD), once implemented, carry the potential to bring additional benefits including disaster risk reduction and resilience, new sources of income/livelihoods, sustainable energy access and positive effects on public health.
* Recognizing that developing and passing laws is not sufficient in itself, the Partnership will support legislators to ensure they are equipped to effectively oversee the implementation of the law by national governments, including ensuring national budgets are consistent with climate goals, as well as assessing the impact of climate-related laws on the national economy and key sectors of society.
About the Global Legislators Organisation (GLOBE): * GLOBE was established in 1989 by cross party legislators from the EU, Japan, Russia and the USA. Today GLOBE International is the world’s largest organisation of legislators dedicated to advancing laws on climate change, forests/REDD+ and natural capital accounting . * Legislators from 86 countries have participated in GLOBE’s dedicated policy initiatives and legislators from 40 countries work through formal national and regional chapters of the organization. * With headquarters in Great Britain, offices in 8 countries and over 25 locally-recruited policy advisors across a global network, GLOBE is uniquely placed to support national legislators to develop and implement laws.
FURTHER – A PRESS RELEASE – THAT WAS EMBARGOED UNTIL 00:01 UK/GMT 27 FEBRUARY 2014
STUDY REVEALS RAPID ADVANCE OF NATIONAL CLIMATE CHANGE LAWS CREATING BASIS FOR NEW INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE AGREEMENT
UN and World Bank support partnership with the Global Legislators Organisation (GLOBE) to encourage development of national climate change laws. ********
Thursday 27th February, US Senate, Washington DC, 115 senior national legislators from 50 countries along with the heads of key United Nations Institutions, United Nations Climate Negotiations and the World Bank Group receive the results of the most comprehensive analysis to date of the reach and depth of national climate changes laws in 66 of the world’s countries. The Summit will be hosted in the US Senate Kennedy Caucus Room by Senator Edward Markey.
The Study covering countries responsible for 88% of global carbon emissions was co-authored by the Global Legislators Organisation (GLOBE) and the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics (LSE). The Study sets out a series of politically significant findings that will have a direct bearing on success of the international negotiations. Legislators will also consider how national laws can be recognised within a 2015 international climate change agreement.
Responding to the Study, the Global Legislators Organisation is launching a major new international initiative, The Partnership for Climate Legislation, supported by the United Nations and the World Bank Group. The Partnership will help national legislators to develop and implement climate change laws. It will work across the 66 nations covered by the Study by sharing best legislative practice, provide detailed policy, analytical and legal capacity to cross party groups of legislators as they develop their own laws.
The GLOBE Climate Legislation Study findings show: * Almost 500 national climate laws have been passed in the 66 countries covered by the Study. The 66 countries account for 88% of global emissions. * 64 of 66 countries have progressed or are progressing significant climate and/or energy-related legislation. * Much of the substantive progress on legislative activity on climate change in 2013 took place in emerging economies, including China and Mexico, which will provide the motor of global economic growth in coming decades. * Whilst the legislative approach often differs (whether directly inspired by climate change, energy efficiency, energy security or competitiveness), national legislation is achieving similar results — improved energy security, greater resource-efficiency and cleaner, lower carbon economic growth. * While current national legislation does not yet add up to what needs to be done to avoid dangerous climate change, it is putting in place the mechanisms to measure, report and verify emissions, a pre-requisite for a credible global climate treaty. * There is an urgent need for those countries that have not yet passed climate legislation to do so
US Senator Edward Markey, said: “Climate action is happening in legislatures around the globe because climate change is harming countries and their people around the globe. We need an international movement to pass climate legislation, and nowhere is that movement needed more than here in the United States. The GLOBE study show legislators around the world are taking actives steps to develop significant national legislation and I urge colleagues here in the United States to acknowledge the movement and take action”.
President of the Global Legislators Organisation, Rt Hon John Gummer, Lord Deben, said: “The message from the 4th GLOBE Climate Legislation Study is clear – more countries than ever before are passing credible and significant national climate change laws. This is changing the dynamics of the international response to climate change and poses a serious question to the international community about how we can recognise credible commitments made by governments within their national legislature. It is by implementing national legislation and regulations that the political conditions for a global agreement in 2015 will be created.”
“Understanding this message from the Study and embracing it in how major international processes and institutions work between now and Paris 2015 will be critical. We must see more countries develop their own national climate change laws so that when governments sit down in 2015 they will do so in very different political conditions to when they did in Copenhagen. The Partnership for Climate Legislation will support legislators across party political lines to advance climate change-related legislation. The Partnership will provide a combination of political, analytical and administrative capacity. It will also serve as a platform where legislators from across the world can meet, discuss common barriers, issues and successes and share information about best legislative practice”.
Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Christiana Figueres said: “It is no exaggeration to say that theclean revolution we need is being carried forward by legislation. Domestic legislation is critical because it is the linchpin between action on the ground and the international agreement. At the national level, it is clear that when countries enact clean energy policies, investment follows. At the international level, it is equally clear that domestic legislation opens the political space for international agreements and facilitates overall ambition”.
World Bank Group Vice-President and Special Envoy Rachel Kyte said: “2014 is the year we need to step up climate action. Legislators have a critical role to play in raising political ambition and ensuring that effective laws and regulations support low carbon and resilient development. For this reason, we’re pleased to support the new Partnership for Climate Legislation”.
The President of the Mexican Congress, Hon. Ricardo Anaya Cortes said: “With the support of GLOBE, Mexico has passed ambitious climate legislation. We are here today in the US Senate to share our experience, to build a global coalition of parliamentarians against the damaging effects of climate change and to challenge inaction.”
UK Foreign Secretary Rt. Hon William Hague said: “A global and legally binding deal on emissions reductions in the UNFCC in 2015 is imperative. As we work towards that agreement, it is clear that domestic legislation has a key role to play in building consensus and cementing ambition, which is why GLOBE’s work is so important. The launch of GLOBE’s Partnership forClimate Legislation, with the backing of the UN and World Bank, is an important step towards sustaining this work for long term, which the UK Government wholeheartedly supports”.
Confirmed Keynote Speakers included:
Representing the United Nations Secretary General’s Office: * UN Assistant Secretary-General, Dr Robert Orr Representing the World Bank: * World Bank Group President, Dr Jim Yong Kim * World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change, Rachel Kyte
Representing the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: * UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Christiana Figueres
Representing the United Nations Environment Programmes: * UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner
Representing the Congress of Mexico: * President of Congress, Hon. Ricardo Anaya Cortes
————————————————— For further information, please contact:
On the occasion of the International Year of Family Farming 2014,
the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna, in cooperation with this human world (THW) Film Festival and Topkino,
presented the Ciné-ONU Vienna screening of the documentary“The Moo Man”
(by Andy Heathcote, UK 2013, 98 min, English)
followed by a Q&A session with invited guests, free entry.
Date / Time: 24 February 2014, 18:30 hrs Location: Topkino, Rahlgasse 1, 1060 ViennaParticipants of the panel discussion:
Elisabeth Sötz - Advisor for Environment and Natural Resources, ADA (Austrian Development Agency) Nikolaus Morawitz – Head of EU & International Affairs, Austrian Chamber of Agriculture Frank Hartwich – Industrial Development Officer, UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization) Janos Tisovszky – Outgoing Director, United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna (Moderator) ———————————————————————————————————————
as reported for SustainabiliTank by Ms. Irith Jawetz:
“The Moo Man” tells the remarkable story of a maverick farmer and his unruly cows, filmed over four years on the marshes of the Pevensey Levels*. In an attempt to save his family farm, Stephen Hook decides to turn his back on the cost cutting dairies and supermarkets, and instead stay small and keep his close relationship with the herd. However farmer Hook’s plans to save the farm do not always go down well with his 55 spirited cows. The result is a laugh-out-loud, emotional roller-coaster of a journey. “Heart warming, a tearjerker of a movie, about the incredible bonds between man, animal and countryside.”
Mr. Hook describes his cows as “family”. While the average life span of a cow on a farm is 5 to 6 years, his cows live 9 to 10 years. “We do not push them, they are more relaxed” he explains as the reason for their long life.
The film follows partly the story of his favorite cow, Ida. “Ida is a symbol of what we do” says Mr. Hook. We follow her life until she passes away and the sadness expressed by Mr. Hook is really touching. “She was a lovely cow the queen of the herd, and had a lot of character” Mr. Hook laments .
Farming is a 24/7 job, with no time off. Mr. Hook explains that the work is hard and you basically work for nothing. He milks the cows himself with little help, since he cannot afford to employ people, bottles them and brings them to the customers in his truck. This milk is literally brought from the cow to the consumers directly. However, it is a losing battle because of the high costs. As Mr. Hook explains nobody wants to farm anymore because you work hard for nothing. Family farms close down all over England and Wales.
The discussion after the film focused basically on how the private farms could be helped. They all agreed that farmers need subsidies, that is why the United States had the farm Bill. There is also a big difference between small farms in developed countries and those in developing countries – and that is where three essential facts were put forward to produce the best conditions for successful farming:
1) Stable policy on environment by the respective government;
2) Providing education, skills, and know-how to the farmers;
3) Organization, i.e. lobbying & marketing.
This is where developing countries falter, while developed countries are doing better. In the developed countries, especially in the EU, the farmers are well represented, have a strong lobby and basically do better.
One big problem for the farmers is Climate Change. Since they cannot predict the weather, it is difficult for them to know when to plant what and whether the weather will cooperate.
Sudden floods, drought may ruin the whole crop.
A second problem is urbanization. Young people move to the cities seeking easier and more profitable jobs.
Agri-tourism is a small help. Small farms, especially in the EU open B & B facilities for families, particularly city folks with children, to spend time on the farm. The income helps.
It was all in all an interesting evening, combining an endearing film with lots of emotions, yet also laughter, and a serious discussion afterwards.
Pevensey Levels NNR lies in the heart of a large grazing marsh which is home to many species of wetland bird.
This event – the showing of the movie to the public at large – by a UN Information Service/Center – shows what an outreach of the UN can do even in a developed country – that is not just assuming the role of the UN is just to teach the backward developing countries.
According to the FAO, “The family farming protects traditional foods, while contributing to a healthy and balanced diet, the conservation of the world’s agricultural biodiversity and the sustainable use of natural resources.”
For Madagascar, agriculture is the mainstay of the economy. However, this sector is now in danger. But often, rural households face the new challenges made by climate change, lack of technical expertise and funds, a particularly important level of isolation, etc.. But the most important remaining exposure to climatic and environmental shocks, against which their resilience is very low. The problems of food insecurity are the most immediate consequence of this poverty.
Flooding of rice fields after passing a downpour
However, Madagascar is a country with high rates of endemic biodiversity and rich natural resources. Of those, family farming is very promising because this practice contributes to the management and sustainable use of these resources. Small farmers become key players in the preservation of the environment and the fight against climate change. Of those, sustainable family farming helps fight climate change.
Member countries of the Indian Ocean Commission and IOC (Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Reunion and Seychelles) are highly dependent on fossil fuels at least 81% primary is imported (oil and coal) .
In Madagascar, in particular, wood is the main source of household energy.
Visit one of the turbines
Now the entire region has a vast potential for renewable energies (hydro, solar, wind, geothermal, wave energy etc.).
Regarding solar energy, for example, the region of the IOC has a tropical climate where all countries in the region are quite sunny throughout the year. About wind energy or energy waves, the majority of countries of the Commission of the Indian Ocean islands are composed of small islands. Seychelles as currently they are developing the field of wind energy. Since 2013, eight turbines (Wind Farm Port Victoria) have been established to contribute up to 12% of all electricity in the Seychelles.
Where is Madagascar?
River Namorona feeding a hydroelectric plant
Madagascar is the largest island among the members of the IOC (5000km range). However, access to electricity is very limited, especially in rural areas. However, 80% of the Malagasy are living in rural areas. Hence, rural electrification through renewable energy is an important measure to promote sustainable development in Madagascar. It is also a key technology in the fight against climate change, which could have a material adverse impact on ecosystems
Visit the River Namorona
fragile Madagascar. Balanced combination of renewable energy, sustainable agriculture helps preserve rainforests. On hydropower, for example, only 1.3% of 7800MW are being exploited.
A global journey to 2030: Reviewing the First Steps …
The article below is the excerpt of a commentary authored by Molly Elgin-Cossart, former chief of staff for the secretariat of the High Level Panel on the Post 2015 Development Agenda. In her commentary, Molly draws on her experience with the High Level Panel offering a valuable insight of the process by looking at its strenghts, weaknesses and lessons learned. Molly is a Senior Fellow on global development at the Center on International Cooperation (CIC), at New York University, USA.
by Molly Elgin-Cossart - now she is with the New York University Center on International Cooperation – published by The Society for International Development – original link: The SID Forum Alert – February 17, 2014
The UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the post- 2015 Development Agenda (HLP) – a group of 27 eminent world leaders including a Nobel Peace Prize-winning Yemeni journalist, a Nigerian Minister of Finance, a Brazilian Minister of Environment, the CEO of Unilever, and three Heads of State/Government from Indonesia, Liberia, and the United Kingdom – came together a few months ago to make a deceptively simple statement at the United Nations: we can end extreme poverty by 2030.
For the first time in history, we have the knowledge, tools, and resources to Leave No One Behind. Not only that, we can do it as part of a broader economic transformation that will lead to sustained prosperity for all, and in a way that preserves our planet, for this generation and those to come.
This is an extraordinary moment. Never before has the opportunity to share prosperity been more within reach. To say that not a single person need live in the most desperate circumstances may sound innocuous. It may sound as if it is inevitable. But that is not the case. Continued growth will continue to reduce poverty, but it will not end it.
Cycles of poverty, perpetuated by injustice and inequality, trap the most vulnerable individuals and prevent them from fulfilling their potential. Often the poor are subject to overlapping forms of discrimination. For example, women who live with disabilities in isolated rural areas face a fight even to survive, let alone prosper, due to the discrimination, lack of mobility, and social exclusion they face.
Only through a transformational approach can we hope to give every person on this planet the chance she deserves. The members of the HLP agreed that we can – and we must – transform the way we approach development, to tackle global challenges through a new global partnership to end extreme poverty and put the world squarely on the path to sustainable development.
Crucially, though, the HLP report, A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies through Sustainable Development, is not the final word on the post-2015 development agenda. The world’s next development agenda will be decided at a summit of Heads of State in September 2015.
Between now and then, global leaders will discuss the future of poverty and sustainable development. Will they rise to the challenge? Or will they let the chance pass them by, distracted by problems at home and the frustrations of international negotiation?
It will be a difficult journey to agreement in 2015. But the stakes are too high to allow leaders to shirk their responsibility to get serious about taking action to confront the challenges we face, from poverty to inequality to environmental degradation. Because the deliberations of the HLP provide a preview of the debates to come, reviewing some of the lessons of the Panel’s experience may provide insight into the next two years of negotiations.
The Panel’s journey from London to Monrovia to Bali – through debates, discussions, and consultations, led them to a worthwhile destination: a coherent, effective and sustainable road map to tackle global challenges.
Yet more than the destination, it is the Panel’s journey that offers insight on navigating the rough waters ahead to 2015.
What follows are a few key observations from my experience as Chief of Staff of the Panel secretariat that I think are worth highlighting as we head into two years of intense multilateral negotiations.
Vienna’s History and Legacy of the Past 150 Years.
Celebrating the Arts, Learning From Politics, War and Reconciliation.
In memory of the First World War – the 1914 War only 100 years ago.
A Symposium divided into three days – part of a larger 90 events Festival organized by Carnegie Hall.
VIENNA 1860 TO 1914:
CREATIVITY, CULTURE, SCIENCE AND POLITICS.Fin de siècle Vienna was creative, cosmopolitan, and modern, as well as a hothouse of political ferment. How did arts and politics intermingle and influence a city’s and country’s destiny? A panel of leaders in arts and science discusses creativity as well as historic and contemporary examples of the arts as both a political tool and healing mechanism. Participants: Eric Kandel, Andreas Mailath-Pokorny, Christian Meyer, Dominique Meyer, Helga Rabl-Stadler, Franz Welser-Möst; Moderator: Carol Off
HOW DID THE CULTURED, CREATIVE SOCIETY OF
VIENNA LOSE ITS MORAL COMPASS – COMING TO TERMS.
Vienna’s creative, cultured, and open society deteriorated in the years leading to the 1938 Anschluss. Why did it happen and why did Austria take so long to recognize the horrors of the Holocaust? A panel explores a new generation’s constructive efforts at remembrance and reconciliation.
Participants: Martin Eichtinger, Stuart Eizenstat, Clemens Hellsberg, Oliver Rathkolb, Alexandra Starr; Moderator: Morley Safer
A GLOBAL ETHIC, CONTEMPORARY RISKS
AND APPROPRIATE RESPONSES – LESSONS OF HISTORY.With the experience of past conflicts and an examination of contemporary problems and risks, how does an increasingly globalized and interdependent world deal with ongoing issues and tensions? A panel of diplomatic and crisis-response experts debates whether the world is doing enough to avoid moral atrocities and advance ethical behaviour. Participants: Louise Arbour, Robert Hormats, Ferdinand Trauttmansdorff; Moderator: Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal
The Symposium at a glance:
The symposium explores a specific period in history, seeking to inform
current thinking and facilitate participation in a dialogue on current
conditions and foster action on vital ethical choices:
• What makes a community creative, dynamic, productive and
comfort able? What can we do to inspire more of what was best
about that legacy in our communities today?
• What causes a society to become morally destructive? What
constructive measures can we take today, some years and even
generations of leadership later, to learn from past horrors
• Are there signs of trouble around us? What are the prospects of
doing what is needed for an ethical outcome?
The events take place at the Paley Center for Media
El Gouna, a resort city on Egypt’s Red Sea Riviera, is set to become the first carbon-neutral city in that nation, in Africa, and likely the entire Middle East North Africa (MENA) region. Masdar City, in continuing development in Abu Dhabi, initially targeted zero-carbon status, but has yet to hit that goal. Image of El Gouna from Shutterstock
The ambitious development agreement was signed last week by the Egyptian Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs, the Italian Ministry of Environment and El Gouna City.
Dr. Laila Iskandar, Egyptian Minister of State for Environmental Affairs, told Trade Arabia, “This agreement will help the Egyptian government to achieve a significant breakthrough in the fields of environment and tourism, enhancing Egypt’s global image and opening the door for Egyptian tourism projects and cities to rank among the leading carbon-neutral entities.”
Launched in 2007, GSHI is a cooperative effort between public and private sectors, the Egyptian and German tourism industries, and supported by key technical consultants. They promote use of environmental management systems and environmentally sound operations to improve environmental performance and to increase competitiveness of the Egyptian hotel industry.
Priority projects include conservation of natural resources such as clean beaches, healthy marine life and protected areas, which are the backbone of the Red Sea Riviera and the nation’s eco-tourism market.
Mr. Hisham Zaazou, Egyptian Minister of Tourism, told Trade Arabia, “We will also be working on implementing this project in other Egyptian cities.”
Chumir began his professional career as a tax lawyer with the federal Department of Justice in Toronto. In 1971, he joined a Calgary law firm. In 1976, he launched his own private practice focusing on civil liberties cases which on occasion provided representation on a pro-bono basis. He lectured on civil liberties and human rights at the University of Calgary Law School and founded the Calgary Civil Liberties Association.
Churmir was an active entrepreneur, he founded a small oil and gas company, and co-founded the entertainment promotion firm Brimstone Productions and engaged in real estate.
In 1983, he ventured into activism by creating “Save Public Education”, an organization which opposed public funds to support religious schools. The group ran a successful slate of candidates in a Calgary Board of Education election. As an MLA, Chumir advocated community service, and he advocated legislature that supported human rights and civil liberties.
Chumir was elected to a second term in the Legislative Assembly in the year 1989.
Chumir died in 1992. The unmarried Chumir having no close kin to bequeath to, left his estate to establishing the Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics Leadership. As a politician and human rights attorney Chumir was an advocate for human rights and believed ethical values are fundamental to a healthy society. The foundation was intended to advocate for leadership and legislature to further the cause of democratic legislation and social reform. The foundation offers internships and scholarships for students studying the field of Leadership and Law, publishes material pertaining to civil rights, and supports initiatives in the community.
Chumir was called one of Alberta’s New Mavericks by Jamie Komarnicki of the Calgary Herald, who in Chumir’s obituary described him as a “soft-spoken man with a quirky sense of humour [who] was a determined champion of public education and individual freedoms.”
In 2012, Chumir was posthumously honored by the Calgary Stampede Foundation with the centennial edition of the Western Legacy Award. This unique edition award recognized contributions of 100 Calgarians and their services to Calgary.
You can attend one, two or all three of the events. Free of charge, but REGISTRATION is required.
Download the full EVENT PROGRAM (pdf).http://www.chumirethicsfoundation.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/ViennaHistoryLegacyProgram_NY2014.pdf
VIENNA’S HISTORY AND LEGACY
OF THE PAST 150 YEARS
FEBRUARY 24, 27 & 28, 2014
THIS PROGRAM IS PART OF THE CARNEGIE HALL FESTIVAL
Fin de siècle Vienna was creative, cosmopolitan, and modern, as well as a hothouse of political ferment. How did arts and politics intermingle and influence a city’s and country’s destiny? A panel of leaders in arts and science discusses creativity as well as historic and contemporary examples of the arts as both a political tool and healing mechanism.
Participants: Eric Kandel, Andreas Mailath-Pokorny, Christian Meyer, Dominique Meyer, Helga Rabl-Stadler, Franz Welser-Möst; Moderator: Carol Off
Vienna’s creative, cultured, and open society deteriorated in the years leading to the 1938 Anschluss. Why did it happen and why did Austria take so long to recognize the horrors of the Holocaust? A panel explores a new generation’s constructive efforts at remembrance and reconciliation.
Participants: Martin Eichtinger, Stuart Eizenstat, Clemens Hellsberg, Oliver Rathkolb, Alexandra Starr; Moderator: Morley Safer.
With the experience of past conflicts and an examination of contemporary problems and risks, how does an increasingly globalized and interdependent world deal with ongoing issues and tensions? A panel of diplomatic and crisis-response experts debates whether the world is doing enough to avoid moral atrocities and advance ethical behaviour.
Participants: Louise Arbour, Robert Hormats, Ferdinand Trauttmansdorff; Moderator: Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal
CULTURE WARS: Yogurt spat throws off breakfast routines of US athletes at Sochi Olympics.
FILE–In this Jan. 13, 2012 file photo, Chobani Greek Yogurt is seen at the Chobani plant in South Edmeston, N.Y. Team USA sponsor Chobani, which is based in upstate New York, says it has 5,000 cups of Greek yogurt sitting in a refrigerated warehouse waiting to be flown to the Olympic village. But Russian authorities say the U.S. Department of Agriculture has refused to provide a certificate that is required for dairy products under its customs rules. (AP Photo/Mike Groll, File)
SOCHI, Russia (AP) — U.S. Olympians will have to make do without the team’s official yogurt — denying them a source of protein and potentially disturbing their daily routines as they prepare for the biggest competition of their lives.
Some 5,000 cups of Greek yogurt from Team USA sponsor Chobani isn’t getting to Sochi because of a customs dispute with Russia.
U.S. halfpipe skier Aaron Blunck said Friday that to traveling athletes, getting food from home is part of feeling fit and healthy. “And having the yogurt there, that helps you, gives you protein, gives you nutrition,” he said.
But teammate Lyman Currier said part of being an elite athlete is dealing with the unexpected.
“We all have different routines before competing but I think that part of the sport is adapting,” he said. “So whether we have our yogurt or not, we’ll be able to adapt.”
The U.S. Ski Team is not staying in the athletes’ village in Krasnaya Polyana in the mountains above Sochi. The Americans have their own place, with their own food and private chefs.
U.S. Alpine skiers Steven Nyman and Marco Sullivan said they were fine without yogurt.
“Our setup’s pretty good. I can get my Greek yogurt when I get back home,” Nyman said.
Sullivan noted that oatmeal was also missing from the breakfast menu; there was rice pudding instead. “I don’t really care about it, but I noticed it,” he said.
Russian authorities say the U.S. Department of Agriculture has refused to provide a certificate that is required for dairy products under its customs rules.
“American officials know what the requirements are, and I do not understand why they stood to the side and waited until the situation reached this point,” said Alexei Alexeyenko, an official at the Russian Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance. “This question can be resolved very quickly.”
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer this week implored the Russians to let the shipment through and said export trade rules should have nothing to do with it, since the yogurt isn’t for sale and is to be eaten only by U.S. citizens in Sochi.
U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul said Friday the trade dispute goes back four years and that he’s been working on it ever since he arrived as ambassador in 2012.
“Unfortunately, with this particular shipment, it came to an impasse,” he said. “We are still working it, we would like our athletes to be able to have the American yogurt.”
I just had one of those Chobani Yogurts as part of my New York breakfast today. It had in it passion fruit and tasted very good. The cup had imprinted on it “Naturally Powering Team USA” but instead of the athletes in Sochi it was me in New York eating it. The Dagostino Supermarket had them on sale 5 for $5 (that is one dollar per cup).
Senator Charles Schumer had in his declaration in Washington: “Chobani Yogurt is safe, nutritious, and delicious, and the Russian authorities should get past ‘NYET.’”
This little skirmish – on principle – is just one more reason Sochi and Russia were not a good pick for the Olympics. US goodwill for the future is being lost by the day.
So, what is this all about?
Russia and its Customs Union (that is Belarus and Kazakhstan) demand a certification from the exporting country according to basic WTO regulations and want a Certificate No. 28 – Milk and Dairy Products – from the US Department of Agriculture. This certificate asks for veterinary checks on the animals and for non-presence of live cells in the product. But this is a cultured yogurt that prides itself with active cells that help digestion. It is something like the great “stinking” cheeses of France that years ago US dairy interests tried to keep out – but later this got settled. The Russia/Customs Union asked thus for a document that could not be provided without actually having been targeted as a future market. We are talking here about a food to be consumed by Americans only and that ought to come under diplomatic immunity from shenanigans of trade. We suggest therefore that the US retaliate by forbidding the Russians to bring in caviar and vodka to their Missions in US.
Shenanigans I said, and these happen not only with Russia. Chiobani has a problem that came up in a London court where a claim was put in that being produced in the US, their yogurt cannot be called Greek Yogurt. Behind that fight was a Greece registered company – Fage – a competitor of Chobani in the US, where “Greek Yogurt” is understood as a generic like Greek Style Yogurt.
To muddy further the issue – another company – Danone – which is France based – and is the biggest yogurt producer in Russia and the World. Danone was the first company to invest in Russia after the collapse of the USSR, and by now has invested $1.6 Billion in Russia. Dannon is the name of their subsidiary in the US and they produce the Oikos brand of Greek Yogurt that is also a competitor with Chobani – the largest producer in the US. Another Greek Yogurt maker in the US has no Greek name pretense at all is Mueller Greek Yogurt.
In effect, I remember in my young days the culture yogurt was called Bulgarian Yogurt as Bulgarian families were priding themselves with generations old cultures of life yogurt – extending from one jar of milk to the next. These cultures were like family members and helped people have long lives. This is not a story – this is real natural medicine that ought to be left out of the hands of bureaucrats and dirty-business people.
All right – let us simply say that a national team that goes to an Olympics is entitled to diplomatic status and can bring along food for its own consumption – this ought to be part of the agreement with the International Olympics Committee when getting the OK for holding the games. The ongoing shenanigans are proof that goodwill is not a basis for the games.
The Peace Islands Institute – driven by the JWF tried yesterday its hand at the above by letting African Ambassadors to the UN state their case – but then when the questions came from the floor it became obvious that representatives of the African Governments to the UN just are not the right people to devise the right solutions.
Ms. Sharene Louise Bailey, with a UN flag in front of her, was the moderator. She is Charge d’Affaires for politcal affairs at the African Union Observer Mission to the UN in New York.
Her panel included – in order of them speaking – Ambassador Dr. Mamadou Tangara of Gambia, Dr. T.A. Elias-Fatile, Senior Councellor for General Assembly Affairs representing Ambassador Professor U. Joy Ogwu of Nigeria, Ambassador Dr. Richard Nduhuura of Uganda, Ambassador of South Africa, The Ambassador from Mozambique was scheduled, could not make it, and so the unscheduled Ambassador from South Africa took over that slot. Also unanounced – for a short appearance we listened to Mageed A.Abdelaziz, United Nations Secretary-General‘s Special Adviser on Africa at the level of Under-Secretary-General. He was an Egyptian diplomat who had been Egypt’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations since January 2005 – he left after his presentation.
The 1990 were discussed – the conflicts – the genocides of 1994 – the Convention to Combat African corruption and the talk of an Agenda of Sustainable Development. The Ambassador for Gambia, an academic Social Economist – reminded the audience that Kenya was ahead of south Korea and where are they now? I admire South Korea ad am angree about Kenya, he said. The source of the conflicts are the riches of natural resources – take Liberia, Sierra Leone he said – we had mercenaries taking the diamonds. Unfortunately we see ourselves through the eyes of others – even in education we need money from the outside and they ask us to “put in things we want you to put in” – he said.
The talk is about Nation Building and the outsiders think they know more then the Africans themselves
The Ugandan spoke of African ownership, the South African about regional integration - then why does an Egyptian advise the UN Secretary-General on Africa – we ask?
Ms. Bailey asked – how do we Africans see ourselves this day when we say African Solutions for African Problems? Sharing lessons among ourselves – What have we achieved for Africans? Success issues of peace Keeping in Somalia? Investments? – How to get it? The naked ingredients for peace The promotion of regional cooperation with inter-African exchange of assets and concluded with the need for better financing. After that came the questions:
An African Student at Columbia University wanted to know – When do we have an African Charter on Human Rights? HE ALSO CORRECTLY MENTIONED – “WE ARE NET EXPORTERS OF DOLLARS!”
A lady born in Nigeria and who serves now in New York as a promoter of the rich African Culture here – Ms. Joyce Adewumi – spoke of the women of Africa – i”t seems we are ashamed now of our culture and of what we are doing” – she said. We buy foreign goods – we do not support our own products – We do not Support African Solutions she said to the Ambassadors without flinching. We are ashamed of being Africans!
Then we heard from Claudine Mukamabano, a beautiful young woman, a genocide orphan survivor who turned a life of hardship into one of leadership and advocacy. She has the recognition of the Assembly of the State of New York for what she is doing for refugees from Africa. “How can we resolve the ethic problems in our continent” she asked? What has the African Union done to prevent genocide, she asked?
When the answers came we heard how an EU good-doer could not provide the rather small amount of money that was needed to provide drinkable water to a particular community – this because there was no existing way to provide small grants. She had to push the EU to go for bigger projects. I was flabbergasted – where were the Africans themselves – why do they not get off the corruption bags and do something for their people? The basic human problem is that the colonizers put in our head that we are inferior and it stayed there. They divided us and we stayed divided – was the answer.
The Ugandan said that the Security Council will act on Genocide. He wants Peace Enforcement – Not Just Peace Keeping. The problem with elections – you do not get ideology but tribalism. They’ll make a constitution and go for elections later – then what? The idea is – let’s have the healing before the elections. Quite right but this does not even start to scratch the problem.
Why detest the colonial powers when the actual states they created along Administrative lines are themselves the reason for the in-fighting. If truly independent why not reorganize the continent along lines more acceptable to the population – with attention to the traditional leaders? Why wait for the Security Council where the former colonial powers hold power today and have continuing business interests in their former colonies and are tied to some of the new country leaders? Why not organize rather an African Union intervention force. Why not a minimum caring for the people before they are pushed to flee their homes?
Why not talk some more to these refugees living now in the diaspora and listen to their wisdom more often – like in this event at the Peace Islands Institute in New York?
Present at Peace Islands was also Ethiopian Professor Ephraim Isaac who teaches African languages and Religion at East Coast Ivy League Universities. He did not voice opinions but eagerly followed the discussion. He proudly showed me that Harvard is now awarding a yearly prize to honor him on his name – to a promising student in African languages.
Germane to the event at Peace Islands, is also our previous posting about the High-Level Panel on the Illicit outflow of funds from Africa – about $50 Billion/year as presented by former President of South Africa, Mr. Thabo Mbeki, on February 6, 2014.
There are too many camels in the Bible, out of time and out of place.
Camels probably had little or no role in the lives of such early Jewish patriarchs as Abraham, Jacob and Joseph, who lived in the first half of the second millennium B.C., and yet stories about them mention these domesticated pack animals more than 20 times. Genesis 24, for example, tells of Abraham’s servant going by camel on a mission to find a wife for Isaac.
These anachronisms are telling evidence that the Bible was written or edited long after the events it narrates and is not always reliable as verifiable history. These camel stories “do not encapsulate memories from the second millennium,” said Noam Mizrahi, an Israeli biblical scholar, “but should be viewed as back-projections from a much later period.”
Dr. Mizrahi likened the practice to a historical account of medieval events that veers off to a description of “how people in the Middle Ages used semitrailers in order to transport goods from one European kingdom to another.”
For two archaeologists at Tel Aviv University, the anachronisms were motivation to dig for camel bones at an ancient copper smelting camp in the Aravah Valley in Israel and in Wadi Finan in Jordan. They sought evidence of when domesticated camels were first introduced into the land of Israel and the surrounding region.
The archaeologists, Erez Ben-Yosef and Lidar Sapir-Hen, used radiocarbon dating to pinpoint the earliest known domesticated camels in Israel to the last third of the 10th century B.C. — centuries after the patriarchs lived and decades after the kingdom of David, according to the Bible. Some bones in deeper sediments, they said, probably belonged to wild camels that people hunted for their meat. Dr. Sapir-Hen could identify a domesticated animal by signs in leg bones that it had carried heavy loads.
The findings were published recently in the journal Tel Aviv and in a news release from Tel Aviv University. The archaeologists said that the origin of the domesticated camel was probably in the Arabian Peninsula, which borders the Aravah Valley. Egyptians exploited the copper resources there and probably had a hand in introducing the camels. Earlier, people in the region relied on mules and donkeys as their beasts of burden.
“The introduction of the camel to our region was a very important economic and social development,” Dr. Ben-Yosef said in a telephone interview. “The camel enabled long-distance trade for the first time, all the way to India, and perfume trade with Arabia. It’s unlikely that mules and donkeys could have traversed the distance from one desert oasis to the next.”
Dr. Mizrahi, a professor of Hebrew culture studies at Tel Aviv University who was not directly involved in the research, said that by the seventh century B.C. camels had become widely employed in trade and travel in Israel and through the Middle East, from Africa as far as India. The camel’s influence on biblical research was profound, if confusing, for that happened to be the time that the patriarchal stories were committed to writing and eventually canonized as part of the Hebrew Bible.
“One should be careful not to rush to the conclusion that the new archaeological findings automatically deny any historical value from the biblical stories,” Dr. Mizrahi said in an email. “Rather, they established that these traditions were indeed reformulated in relatively late periods after camels had been integrated into the Near Eastern economic system. But this does not mean that these very traditions cannot capture other details that have an older historical background.”
Moreover, for anyone who grew up with Sunday school images of the Three Wise Men from the East arriving astride camels at the manger in Bethlehem, whatever uncertainties there may be of that story, at least one thing is clear: By then the camel in the service of human life was no longer an anachronism.
We have some exciting news to share with you! Mike Wallace, former director of the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI’s) North American operations, has joined our Firm as Managing Director, effective immediately. In his new role, Mike will focus on expanding BrownFlynn‘s market presence and brand in North America, developing strategic partnerships, providing innovative sustainability solutions to clients, and helping shape the strategic direction of our Firm.
Mike is an internationally recognized expert in the sustainability field, with 20 years of experience advising corporations, non-profits and government agencies on the development, implementation and continuous improvement of sustainability strategies. For the past four years, he led the successful re-entry and funding of GRI into the North American market after spending one year at GRI’s headquarters in Amsterdam. BrownFlynn has known and collaborated with Mike during his tenure at GRI through our Firm’s role as GRI’s first U.S.-certified training organization and an organizational stakeholder.
Though BrownFlynn is headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, Mike will be based in Los Angeles, California, which further expands our geographic reach and opens up new market opportunities. Our future is bright and we are excited to add Mike to our team. To read the full press release, please click here.
and we get back to the same topic now – this because of the snow that pelted New York and a statement the new New York City Mayor made.
We believe that Urbanization ought to mean enhanced Sustainability for All and not just a way for increasing the value of the Real Estate in favor of the top 1%. A Mayor’s job ought thus to be the supervision of improvement of quality of life for All the residents, the vistors, and the migrants that work in the city.
The recent snow falls in New York City gave us an occasion to think about this. I am talking of the snow storms of this last Monday – February 3 and Wednesday February 5. The issue is snow removal – something that the New Mayor – Bill De Blasio – said he will make sure it happens in all five boroughs and not only in Manhattan. All right – this is an issue of quality of life for all – it helps transportation, but what about side-walks – the main road for the pedestrians?
About 11 am I walked on Wednesday on the East side of First Avenue from 72 Street to the UN. Many businesses were open but some did not bother cleaning the snow in front of their business and the walkways were not passable. In quite a few places people had to walk in the street among traffic. In effect the UN opened only at 11:30 because of the snow.
In the evening, about 6 pm, on my way back, I decided to walk with paper and pen in my hands and note the places that made still for difficult walking. In my mind I had the idea that posting the offenders might be of some help to change behavior. Further, getting home I was surprised that the new Mayor declared on TV that there is a city law that owners have to clean up before their buildings or businesses by FOUR HOURS after the snow-fall. We never heard of such a law from his predecessors, but then we really did not expect from them this sort of sensibility to the common Joe’s needs. With this Mayor we now dare to have expectations.
I did not post this on Wednesday but decided to wait another day – so now here we have my findings AT THE END OF THE SECOND DAY AFTER THE SNOW-FALL.
Then at second thought I decided to note only the largest culprits this time and see if shaming a culprit works eventually.
Starting from the North-West corner of the UN compound – next to the 49 Street entrance to the FDR highway, and next to where it connects with Mitchell Place, there is a completely snow covered passage that blocks pedestrian crossing and people end up going into the traffic that emerges there from the tunnel under First Avenue. A little further up that block there is a bus stop structure that narrows the sidewalk in front of the entrance to the Bangkok Grand Palace Thai Seafood and vegetarian cuisine Restaurant at 882 1st Avenue. They do not think of cleaning the snow and the passage is narrowed just to one person width. I do not think this restaurant would me missed. (The snow at the Mitchell Place entrance and along the wall towards the FDR ramp – a place were missions to the UN park their cars, this was chopped and salted by someone on Friday morning. As it seems the place belongs to the city it was done either by the city or by one of the Missions as a present to the host city. But the passage in front of the Thai restaurant became narrower by Friday as the restaurant returned there their bicycles for delivery to customers.)
Another Restaurant, this one a recent addition to First Avenue, The Mexican fast food Chipotle Branch at 1288 First Avenue, that for unclear reasons got an A rating, and is filled with young students, also has no inclination to clean their sidewalk. Here I even think the city ought to look at how they got that A rating.
Next very serious culprit is at the North East corner at 66th street and stretches for half a block – the St. Napomucene Roman Catholic Church that stretches for half a block, has its sidewalk ice covered after two full days. (by Friday morning the solid ice cover had only a one person width clear walk-way).
Similarly – a large stretch around the North East corner of the heavily trafficked 57th Street there used to be The Ultimate Pizza and Restaurant that after over-extension went bust and seemingly the landlord does not care. Someone ought to think that if a leg is broken here he will be responsible. (By Friday morning somebody actually broke the solid ice cover on the 1st Avenue side, but on the 57 Street side – in front of a flower store – the ice was still there on the third day after the snow-fall).
The Apple Bank at the North East corner of 64th Street does not care either – why should anyone use this bank?
Other locations that needed attention:
At the 51street corner there is a Chase Bank outlet that did not clear the snow. Ditto the Verizon store at 996 1st Avenue and the Nail place at 1062 1st Avenue.
At 1166 First Avenue there is a 7-11 store – and at 1066, North East corner at 58 Street – there are four stores in one building – all did not remove the snow. Do they think it is on the landlord? Then at 400E 54 Street the large building cleared their side-street front, but the 1st Avenue side with a large storefront that is close for a long time seems out of their interest.
So, what is the bottom line? Will the city now tell these house or business owners that real estate is not just for receiving rent but has to do also with a license on city-space that must be tended for?
CVS/pharmacy stores will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products by October 1, its parent company, CVS Caremark, says.
Pharmacy chain CVS said Wednesday it will stop selling tobacco products at its 7,600 locations across the United States, a move that public health advocates hope will become a watershed and pressure other large drug store franchises to follow suit.
CVS executives said the decision could cost billions of dollars in revenue because cigarettes draw so many customers in their stores. But by jettisoning tobacco products, CVS can further evolve their pharmacies into full-fledged health care providers and strike more profitable deals with hospitals and health insurers.
Read more at: www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/02/05/why-cvs-thinks-it-can-win-big-by-ending-cigarette-sales/
Ending tobacco sales “is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health,” Larry J. Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Caremark, said in a statement.
The company also announced that it plans to launch a national smoking cessation program in the spring.
The retailer estimates it will take an annual loss of $2 billion from tobacco shoppers. CVS Caremark hasn’t reported its year-end results yet, but it took in nearly $94 billion in revenues in the first nine months of 2013, according to its most recent earnings report.
UNITED NATIONS, February 4 — Palau’s president Tommy Remengesau returned to the UN on February 4, promoting a stand-alone Sustainable Development Goal about the oceans and speaking of a marine sanctuary which would ban all commercial fishing in an area as large as France.
Inner City Press asked President Remengesau how the ban on fishing would be enforced, given for example the illegal fishing that takes place off Somalia and, doubly illegal, off Western Sahara.
Remengesau responded that drones could be part of the solution. Palau’s Ambassador Stuart Beck added that drones could take photographs which could be evidence.
Remengesau explained that sharks are worth substantially more to Palau alive than dead, given its eco-tourism economy. Inner City Press asked about other countries joining the shark sanctuary movement that Palau started. Beck mentioned Mexico, and hoped that the broader marine sanctuary idea would also spread. The oceans being a Sustainable Development Goal would be a good step in that direction.
Background: With fifteen months to go until the “Sustainable Development Goals” are determined by the UN General Assembly, Palau’s Ambassador Stuart Beck back on June 25 made the case for an oceans SDG. He recounted that only last night, Palau had its highest tide ever.
The seas have become so acid, he continued, that mussels and clams are having a hard time forming their shells.
Inner City Press asked Beck about Palau’s shark sanctuary, which became with 600,000 square kilometers and is now up to 12.5 million square kilometers, with subsequent joiners like Mexico, Honduras and Costa Rica, Bahamas, Barbados, Micronesia and the Maldives. If sharks could say thanks, he concluded, they’d give thanks for the sanctuary. Video here from Minute 7:05.
Accompanying Beck was Ghislaine Maxwell of the TerraMar Project, who said the oceans account for 16% of humanity’s food and spoke of using social media in the campaign. It must target all 193 states, Beck pointed out. (Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, it is understood, doesn’t know much about the idea.)
So Inner City Press went to the February 3 UN noon briefing and asked for whom Bloomberg is speaking, the UN or himself? Video here from Minute 14:52. UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky replied that his deputy Farhan Haq had answered on this on January 31.
But Haq on January 31 after citing “terms of reference” said they are not public, instead to look at a press release which, it turns out, contains no safeguards. Nesirky said this is an early stage, and that is true. But it already seems clear that safeguards will be necessary. For now: UNIFEED video of Ban Ki-moon and team dining with Bloomberg, here.
On January 31 Inner City Press asked Haq if any thought had been given to possible conflicts of interest, or restrictions on how information or access from the post could be used, given Bloomberg’s businesses.
The UN’s Haq replied, “I believe appropriate terms of reference have been worked out with former Mayor Bloombeg, that should be an acceptable arrangement devised between them.” Video here and embedded below.
Inner City Press asked if these “terms of reference” were public and could be seen. Haq said “No… What’s public is a lengthy press release available in our office.”
But the press release does not address any safeguards on conflict of interest at all.
Now, according to one gushing report, he is poised to move to the United Nations, as envoy on cities and climate change. What about new conflicts of interest, and the above critiques?
To give what credit is due, on the evening of January 30 Reuters’ UN bureau issued a breathless “exclusive” with nothing but praise of Bloomberg — not a word of any criticism, nothing on the conflict of interest with Bloomberg News purporting to cover the UN and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Given the percentage of the piece praising Bloomberg, that would seem to be the (anonymous) sourcing.
Inner City Press: there’s one of the [Edward] Snowden-released documents, but there’s a reason I’m asking you is it’s published in a Danish website “Information” and it talks about the Copenhagen climate change talks of 2009. And this seems to be the document and it says that the NSA [United States National Security Agency] was involved in monitoring communications at the discussions in order to advise the United States on the position of other Governments and presumably at the UN. So, I’m wondering, this seems to get more closely into things that are of much import to the UN, to the Secretary-General. Is there any response as to this memo coming out and the propriety of such surveillance?
Acting Deputy Spokesperson: Well, we wouldn’t have any specific response to this because ultimately, again, this is a case where we’d need to know what the basic facts are and whether there was any such surveillance that’s happened. However, our basic point that we’ve articulated many times in recent months still holds: that the inviolability of diplomatic premises needs to be respected by all States.
If Bloomberg is named on Friday, or is named at all, what will the coverage of criticism and conflicts of interest be?
UAE to Host High-Level Meeting in May Leading up to the UN Secretary-General’s Climate SummitLeaders to meet in Abu Dhabi 4-5 May on Climate Action
New York, 3 February—A special two-day high- level meeting will be held from 4-5 May in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to encourage announcements of greater action and ambition by world leaders at the Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in September, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and United Arab Emirates Minister of State and Special Envoy for Energy and Climate Change, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, announced today.
The Climate Summit will take place on 23 September, at UN Headquarters in New York, one day before the UN General Assembly begins its General Debate. The Secretary-General has invited leaders of government, business, finance and civil society to bring bold announcements and actions to address climate change. The Summit will focus on solutions that demonstrate how early action can result in substantial economic benefits.
The “Abu Dhabi Ascent,” as the May meeting will be called, will bring Ministers as well as business, finance, and civil society leaders together to develop a range of proposals for action and determine how their countries, businesses and organizations may become more involved in various initiatives so that partnerships can be broadened and deepened to deliver concrete action at the Summit.
The Secretary-General welcomed the UAE’s offer to host this meeting. “The UAE initiative to host the Abu Dhabi Ascent is an important concrete contribution to the Summit. This meeting is a critical milepost on the way that will help build the momentum we need for a successful Climate Summit. I look forward to working with all leaders to ensure that the Summit catalyzes major steps on the ground and towards an ambitious global climate agreement.”
“The United Arab Emirates is at the forefront of international efforts to mitigate climate change,” said Dr. Sultan Al Jaber. “As a key mitigation strategy, the UAE has made significant investments to develop and deploy clean energy technologies globally.”
“The high level meeting in Abu Dhabi will be integral in encouraging and enhancing commitments from the public-private sectors and ensuring the Summit in New York is a success.”
By spurring action on climate change, the Abu Dhabi Ascent leading up to the Climate Summit will complement and boost momentum toward a climate change agreement at the Paris Climate Conference in December 2015.
More information on the Summit can be found at www.un.org/climatechange/summit2014/
Kerala bags an United Nations award for sustainable tourism initiatives.
Published on : Friday, January 24, 2014
Kerala, God’s own country is recognized for its sustainable tourism policies by the United Nations. Kerala tourism is awarded by the United Nations for creating innovative initiatives in sustainable tourism.
This is the first ever UN award for any state in India.
The coveted award from the United Nations was mostly influenced by the sustainable development initiative in the world famous backwater resort of Kumarakom. According to a press release from the Kerala tourism, they received the award at the UNWTO Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism held in Madrid, Spain.
Kerala won the UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance, the highest honour given to the government bodies for shaping global tourism policies through innovative initiatives.
Kerala Tourism was chosen for the honour for its path-breaking ‘Responsible Tourism’ project in Kumarakom, which has successfully linked the local community with the Hospitality industry and government departments, thereby creating a model for empowerment and development of the people in the area while sustaining eco-friendly tourism.
The Kumarakom initiative had earlier won the National Award for Best Rural Tourism Project in March last year and also the PATA Grand Award for Environment.
Dr. Tej Vir Singh awarded the UNWTO Ulysses Prize for the Creation and Dissemination of Knowledge.
Dr. Tej Vir Singh, professor and Founding Director of the Centre for Tourism Research & Development (CTRD) in India, has been named winner of the 2013 UNWTO Ulysses Prize for Excellence in the Creation and Dissemination of Knowledge. The Award honors outstanding members of the academia for their significant contribution to the development of tourism education and research.
Dr. Singh, the Founding Editor of Tourism Recreation Research, the oldest and highly respected, international tourism journal in Asia, is a pioneer in introducing extensive tourism research in the region. A specialist in Himalayan tourism, Dr. Singh has produced several books on tourism and many papers on tourism development and its impacts.
“I would like to commend Dr. Singh´s lifelong dedication to tourism research and his pioneering the concept and practice of sustainability in the field of tourism. His work has inspired many other academicians to develop their own research in the field, contributing greatly to the advancement of tourism education and of the tourism sector as a whole,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.
As the Founding Director of the Institute of Himalayan Studies and Regional Development at the University of Garhwal, Dr. Singh started the first Himalayan tourism training course. In 1976, he established the CTRD, a non-government organization devoted to the cause of tourism academics and research, with a special focus on India. Under his leadership, the Centre started an outreach programme that included education, training, research guidance, consultancy, curriculum design, and tourism programme initiation to several Indian universities, management institutions and colleges. Today, the CTRD is recognized for the generation and publication of valuable research on recreation and tourism, and is well-known as a leading organization for developing and disseminating scholarships in tourism in India.
The UNWTO Ulysses Prize for Excellence in the Creation and Dissemination of Knowledge will be presented during the UNWTO Awards Ceremony to be held on 22 January 2014, within the framework of the International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR) in Madrid, Spain.
Volatile Bangkok turns out positive for Indian tourism.
Published on : Thursday, January 23, 2014
While Bangkok faces a tourism fall due to the ongoing political crisis, Indian tourism reaps the dividends. Thailand government’s decision to impose emergency in Bangkok is supposed to cause a loss of almost B10 billion for the Thailand tourism industry. On the contrary, foreign tourists are preferring to book a holiday in India. According to the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), the volatile political condition in Bangkok has spurred a huge interest of international travelers seeking holiday escapades in Indian. Political volatility has been on the rise in Bangkok, especially in the past few days. A couple of bomb blasts took place in the capital amidst wide protests. Protesters have been trying for more than two months to bring down the government. The Indian embassy in Thailand too is continuously tracking the situation and coming up with updates.
The global tourism industry has seen such shift of choices due to political and violent condition in a particular destination. To site an example, Spain tourism had a major share of international travelers last year owing to the political strife in Egypt. While Bangkok is one of the most popular destinations in Asia, India enjoys the advantage of volatile currency and a plethora of destination choices. In fact, domestic tourism also got a boost as many Indians are also going for home holidays rather than opting for Bangkok as every year about 500,000 Indians visit Bangkok.
Tourism can foster sustainable development in Central America – UN General Assembly.
Published on : Friday, January 24, 2014
Sustainable tourism is an ally of poverty eradication in Central America and the three dimensions of sustainable development – social, economic and environmental – as reflected in the UN resolution on “Sustainable tourism and sustainable development in Central America”.
The 193-member UN General Assembly adopted the resolution unanimously during its 68th session. This represents an important step towards mainstreaming sustainable tourism in the international development agenda and the post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (New York, USA, 22 December 2013).
Emphasizing that sustainable tourism in Central America is a cross-cutting activity with close linkages to other sectors and thus generating trade opportunities, the UN General Assembly recognizes tourism as a fundamental pillar of regional integration and an engine of social and economic development, income, investment and hard currency in the region. The resolution further “encourages giving appropriate consideration to the issue of sustainable tourism in the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda”, which will follow the deadline of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Against this backdrop, the UN General Assembly invites States and other stakeholders, as well as the World Tourism Organization, to continue to support the activities undertaken by the Central American countries for the promotion of responsible and sustainable tourism and extend the benefits of tourism to all sectors of society, in particular the most vulnerable and marginalized groups of the population.
International tourism in Central America grew significantly in recent years. In 2012, Central America received almost 9 million international tourists who generated US$ 8 billion in revenues, up from, respectively, 4.3 million arrivals and US$ 3 billion in 2000. Today, international tourism accounts for as much as 17% of all Central American exports.
The UN resolution was sponsored by 51 Member States: Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Canada, Cape Vert, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Maldives, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, United States of America, Ukraine and Uruguay.
Central America poised for tourism growth: SITCA
Published on : Sunday, September 15, 2013
The Secretariat of Central American Tourism Integration (SITCA), along with the tourism authorities of the seven Central American countries – Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvado r, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama – have conducted a study on the evolution of the tourism sector in the region over the past 12 years and found a positive forecast of expected 6.1 per cent growth for this year.
In the period between 2000 and 2012, tourism to Central America has grown by 122.8 per cent from 4.23 million visitors in 2000 to 9.39 visitors in 2012, an annual increase of seven per cent on average stated the study.
Domestic tourism from within the region accounts for 40 per cent while North America accounts for between 35 per cent and 40 per cent of visitors. Costa Rica and Guatemala received the highest number of visitors, but Nicaragua and Panama have registered the biggest growth in the period covered by the study, moving from fifth and sixth position (in terms of the total number of visitors received) to fourth and third respectively.
The average spend by tourists has also grown considerably over the last 12 years, thanks to an increase in the amount of products consumed, moving from an average spend per person of US$700 in 2000 to US$1,016 in 2012. Based on the results of the study, it is expected that the number of visitors will increase by 6.1 per cent this year compared to last year, with an expected total of 9.96 million visitors.
For 2013, the average spend per tourist is expected to reach US$1,016.63, compared to US$1,016.18 in 2012. Revenue from tourism revenue is expected to be highest in Panama and lowest in Nicaragua.
The data presented by SITCA shows that the tourism sector in Central America is becoming the main source of revenue for all seven countries and a true driver for the economic growth of the region.
International tourism exceeds expectations with arrivals up by 52 million in 2013.
International tourist arrivals grew by 5% in 2013, reaching a record 1,087 million arrivals, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Despite global economic challenges, international tourism results were well above expectations, with an additional 52 million international tourists travelling the world in 2013. For 2014, UNWTO forecasts 4% to 4.5% growth – again, above the long term projections.
Demand for international tourism was strongest for destinations in Asia and the Pacific (+6%), Africa (+6%) and Europe (+5%). The leading sub-regions were South-East Asia (+10%), Central and Eastern Europe (+7%), Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+6%) and North Africa (+6%).
“2013 was an excellent year for international tourism” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “The tourism sector has shown a remarkable capacity to adjust to the changing market conditions, fuelling growth and job creation around the world, despite the lingering economic and geopolitical challenges. Indeed, tourism has been among the few sectors generating positive news for many economies”, he added.
UNWTO forecasts international arrivals to increase by 4% to 4.5% in 2014, again above its long-term forecast of +3.8% per year between 2010 and 2020. The UNWTO Confidence Index, based on the feedback from over 300 experts worldwide, confirms this outlook with prospects for 2014 higher than in previous years
“The positive results of 2013, and the expected global economic improvement in 2014, set the scene for another positive year for international tourism. Against this backdrop, UNWTO calls upon national governments to increasingly set up national strategies that support the sector and to deliver on their commitment to fair and sustainable growth”, added Mr Rifai.
2014 regional prospects are strongest for Asia and the Pacific (+5% to +6%) and Africa (+4% to +6%), followed by Europe and the Americas (both +3% to +4%). In the Middle East (0% to +5%) prospects are positive yet volatile.
Europe welcomes most of the new arrivals
Europe led growth in absolute terms, welcoming an additional 29 million international tourist arrivals in 2013, raising the total to 563 million. Growth (+5%) exceeded the forecast for 2013 and is double the region’s average for the period 2005-2012 (+2.5% a year). This is particularly remarkable in view of the regional economic situation and as it follows an already robust 2011 and 2012. By sub-region, Central and Eastern Europe (+7%) and Southern Mediterranean Europe (+6%) experienced the best results.
In relative terms, growth was strongest in Asia and the Pacific (+6%), where the number of international tourists grew by 14 million to reach 248 million. South-East Asia (+10%) was the best performing sub-region, while growth was comparatively more moderate in South Asia (+5%), Oceania and North-East Asia (+4% each).
The Americas (+4%) saw an increase of six million arrivals, reaching a total of 169 million. Leading growth were destinations in North and Central America (+4% each), while South America (+2%) and the Caribbean (+1%) showed some slowdown as compared to 2012.
Africa (+6%) attracted three million additional arrivals, reaching a new record of 56 million, reflecting the on-going rebound in North Africa (+6%) and the sustained growth of Sub-Saharan destinations (+5%). Results in the Middle East (+0% at 52 million) were rather mixed and volatile.
Russia and China – leading in growth in 2013
Among the ten most important source markets in the world, Russia and China clearly stand out. China, which became the largest outbound market in 2012 with an expenditure of US$ 102 billion, saw an increase in expenditure of 28% in the first three quarters of 2013. The Russian Federation, the 5th largest outbound market, reported 26% growth through September.
The performance of key advanced economy source markets was comparatively more modest. France (+6%) recovered from a weak 2012 and the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia all grew at 3%. In contrast, Germany, Japan and Italy reported declines in outbound expenditure.
Emerging markets with substantial growth in outbound expenditure were Turkey (+24%), Qatar (+18%), Philippines (+18%), Kuwait (+15%), Indonesia (+15%), Ukraine (+15%) and Brazil (+14%).
Ahead of the 20th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP20) to be held this year in Lima, Americas Society/Council of the Americas hosted UNFCCC Executive Secretary ChristianaFigueres, the principal voice on the international climate change negotiations, onTuesday, January 14, 2014 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
At the November 2013 UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, governments took a step toward a new, universal climate change agreement said Ms. Figueres in her presentation at AS/COA, Ms. Figueres addressed the concrete steps that must be taken in 2014, which will pave the way for the 2015 conference in Paris, where a new global climate agreement for the post-2020 period is to be adopted.
With 195 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by 192 of the UNFCCC Parties and its ultimate objective is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.
ChristianaFigueres was appointed executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2010 and was reappointed for a second three year term in July 2013. Ms. Figueres has been involved in climate change negotiations since 1995.
Americas Society (AS) is the premier organization dedicated to education, debate and dialogue in the Americas. Established by David Rockefeller in 1965, our mission is to foster an understanding of the contemporary political, social and economic issues confronting Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada, and to increase public awareness and appreciation of the diverse cultural heritage of the Americas and the importance of the inter-American relationship,” it says.
Council of the Americas (COA) is the premier international business organization whose members share a common commitment to economic and social development, open markets, the rule of law, and democracy throughout the Western Hemisphere.
The following day – January 15, 2014, Ms. Christiana Figueres, participated at the UN Headquarters at the
Investor Summit on Climate Risk at UN Headquarters – 15 January 2014 – co-hosted by the UN Foundation, UN Office for Partnerships,and Ceres.
Complete agenda can be found at: www.ceres.org/press/press-releases/500-global-investors-to-gather-at-united-nations-summit-on-climate-change
In that room were insurance company and re-insurance companies and other investors – and I was told that about $13 Trillion were represented there. The talk was that $1 Trillion will be invested in clean energy – this is an economics must.
Christiana Figueres – on a panel that included the relentless Timothy Worth who as maverick Senator was part of the US “B” (the Senate) delegation to the Rio 1992 Conference and now heads the UN Foundation that was created with a one Billion US Dollars by Ted Turner, and Mr. Orr representing the UN Secretariat. The agreed conclusion was that INVESTORS OUGHT TO MOVE OUT OF HIGH-CARBON ASSETS.
Why this enhanced interest of Latin America in Climate Change? Is this only because of Brazil that over-extended itself in these topics?
Brazil was host of the Rio 1992 Conference that introduced Environment and Development into the routine lingo of the UN as a double helix of Sustainable Development. They were hosts to creation of the high-level product AGENDA 21 and the three conventions – on Biodiversity, Desertification, and Climate Change. But the majority of the Developing Countries were not ready for it yet – they just wanted DEVELOPMENT – read INDUSTRIALIZATION – and professed not to be the address for Global Sustainability.
The Developed/Industrialized States on the other hand thought that the whole concept was just a give-away to the poorer Nations – something that the established ethics thought to take care of with simple hand-outs of Foreign aid – not an issue of rights.Sustainable Development just did not work in practice.
Then we had the stale-birth of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, and the answer five years later – the Millennium Development Goals.
After another 10 years, at the Rio 2012 meeting, Brazil stepped into the breach again, and with excellent diplomacy, and got rid of the Sustainable Development Commission establishing a new debating platform that will channel its activities to a new Agenda – the post 2015 Global Agenda built on a set of Sustainable Development Goals. Part of this process is anchored in Paris at a COP21 meeting of the UNFCCC.
To get there we have the Lima, Peru, meeting of 2014 – and that is the last chance for Latin America to have an impact.
So, here we get to the Latin Year of which Costa Rican Chrstiana Figueres wants to take advantage of, and she is lucky in many respects. The UN stars seem to line up in her direction.
The idea was to have the 2014 UNFCCC meeting in Latin America and at first it was Venezuela that wanted to host the event. In parallel they also wanted to be at the UN – the G77 leaders this year. Bolivia decided to contest both posts. Bolivia won the G77 position – but with the strong opposition from the US to both original candidates – it was Peru that got to be the location of the COP with Venezuela hosting – as a consolation prize – the last preparatory meeting. That is how this year’s Latin UN stars are Bolivia, Peru, and Venezuela.
Costs to the economy – The amount of money invested into the 200 biggest fossil fuel companies through global financial markets is estimated at 5.5 trillion dollars. The costs to human and environmental health that is another matter. But luckily – fossil fuel consumption is already in decline — not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it makes economic sense. But do not count on it – the financial moghuls will not step aside easily. – See more at:
Considering the central place of Bolivia in all of this – them speaking for the ALBA group – the micro-finance answer to the mega-finance of the UN makes sense as well and the Latin Year might turn out to be an ALBA year to be followed by a Developed & Already Emerged Economic States at the Paris Summit with the real power to lead.