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

We do not assume for a moment that we know the facts – this like when most patriotic Americans were stuck with the Joe McCarthy hearings. Most important – What were the convictions mentioned here? Not all convictions in the USA are born equal – who knows? Some might be badges of honor!! It would be interesting to find out!


Politics: Armed contractor with criminal record was on elevator with Obama in Atlanta.

By Carol D. Leonnig September 30, 2014 – THE WASHINGTON POST.


There were some heated moments Tuesday when Secret Service Director Julia Pierson testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about two security breaches at the White House, one in 2011 and one less than two weeks ago. (The Washington Post)

A security contractor with a gun and three prior convictions for assault and battery was allowed on an elevator with President Obama during a Sept. 16 trip to Atlanta, violating Secret Service protocols, according to three people familiar with the incident.

The incident occurred as Obama appeared at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to discuss the U.S. response to the Ebola crisis.

The contractor did not comply when Secret Service agents asked him to stop using a phone camera to videotape the president in the elevator, according to the people familiar with the incident.

Agents questioned him, and used a database check to learn of his criminal history.

When a supervisor from the private security firm approached and learned of the agents’ concern, the contractor was fired on the spot and agreed to turn over his gun — surprising agents, who had not realized he was armed during his encounter with Obama.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said he was appalled when whistleblowers came forward to him with this account. The Washington Post confirmed details of the event with other people familiar with the review.

“You have a convicted felon within arms reach of the president and they never did a background check,” Chaffetz said. “Words aren’t strong enough for the outrage I feel for the safety of the President and his family. “

Elements of the breach were first reported Tuesday afternoon by the Washington Examiner.



Chaffetz added: “His life was in danger. This country would be a different world today if he had pulled out his gun.”

It is the latest in a string of embarrassments for the Secret Service, whose director, Pierson, drew criticism Tuesday from lawmakers in both parties during a combative hearing that focused on her agency’s security lapses. The hearing focused on a man who was able to foil Secret Service officers by jumping the White House fence Sept. 19 and also a 2011 shooting at the residence that the Secret Service failed to identify and properly investigate.

The elevator incident exposed another serious breakdown in the Secret Service’s safety protocols: this one meant to keep the president safe from strangers when he travels to events outside the White House. In close quarters or small events, when the president is on the road, all of the people who could have access to him must be checked in advance for weapons and any criminal history.

In response to a question at the hearing Tuesday, Pierson said she briefs the president “100 percent of the time” when his personal security has been breached. However, she said Tuesday that has only happened one time this year: Soon after Omar Gonzalez jumped over the White House fence Sept. 19 and was able to burst into the mansion.

A Secret Service spokesman said the agency would provide a response soon.

Some elements of the Atlanta incident were first reported Tuesday afternoon on the Washington Examiner’s Web site.

Under a security program called the Arm’s Reach Program, Secret Service advance staff run potential staff, contractors, hotel employees, invited guests and volunteers through several databases, including a national criminal information registry, and records kept by the CIA, NSA and Department of Defense, among others. Anyone who is found to have a criminal history, mental illness, or other indications of risk is barred from entry.

Local police and federal officers are not checked in the same way under the Arm’s Reach Program, with the Secret Service presuming they meet the safety standards because of their employment. But private security contractors would be checked, two former agents who worked on advance planning for presidential trips said.

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

REALLY?

Politics | News Analysis
Showing Concern for the President, Even While Criticizing Him

By PETER BAKER SEPT. 30, 2014

WASHINGTON — President Obama must be touched by all the concern Republicans are showing him these days. As Congress examines security breaches at the White House, even opposition lawmakers who have spent the last six years fighting his every initiative have expressed deep worry for his security.

“The American people want to know: Is the president safe?” Representative Darrell Issa of California, the Republican committee chairman who has made it his mission to investigate all sorts of Obama administration missteps, solemnly intoned as he opened a hearing into the lapses on Tuesday.
Continue reading the main story

Yet it would not be all that surprising if Mr. Obama were a little wary of all the professed sympathy. Although the target of the legislative scrutiny is the Secret Service, not the president, the furor over security has left the White House on the defensive. At Tuesday’s Capitol Hill hearing and at the daily White House news briefing, the questions fueled an air of scandal: Who knew what when, and was there a cover-up?

Democrats joined in the grilling, and some were as tough as or tougher than any Republican on the Secret Service director, Julia Pierson. . But privately, some Democratic officeholders and strategists have complained that the episode contributes to a broader impression that the Obama administration’s competence has come under fire on a variety of fronts, including last year’s botched rollout of Mr. Obama’s health care program, the breakdown of services at the Veterans Affairs Department and the handling of a series of international crises.

Coming just weeks before midterm elections, they said, the intense focus on the matter might further undercut confidence in the government Mr. Obama runs even though it was hardly his fault an intruder with a knife made it into the White House.

“This is an opportunity to make it seem like nobody’s in charge in the Obama administration, even though it’s almost certainly not the case that political appointees could have done anything to change the facts in this situation,” said Matt Bennett, a White House aide under President Bill Clinton and now vice president of Third Way, a political group. “I’m not surprised that they’re doing this.”

Like other Democrats, Mr. Bennett said Congress had a duty to exercise oversight over the Secret Service and investigate what went wrong, and he said serious questions had been raised in recent days. At the same time, Democrats said, if it happened to damage the perception of the president in the process, Republicans would not object.

“I do think for a lot of Republican congressmen, this is a twofer,” said Erik Smith, a former House Democratic aide and a campaign adviser to Mr. Obama. “The Secret Service may be in the line of fire, but they’re not the only target.”

Not every Democrat sees it that way. Paul Begala, no stranger to partisan warfare as a longtime adviser to Mr. Clinton, said Republican lawmakers were asking the right questions out of genuine concern. “This is totally on the level,” he said. “They’re acting like real human beings and patriotic Americans.”
Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story
Continue reading the main story

Other Democrats said Republicans had good reason to preserve that impression. “So far there is bipartisan outrage and concern,” said Margie Omero, a strategist for Democratic candidates for nearly 20 years who has studied midterm voters in swing Senate races this year. “But at this time of year, candidates will try just about anything to find an opening. It could definitely backfire if Republicans look like they’re making political hay out of a threat to the president’s life.”

Republicans rejected the notion that their inquiry had any political implications. “This is not a Republican issue or a Democrat issue,” said Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah, chairman of a subcommittee looking into the episode. “This is an American issue. I don’t want it to be the political football, but we in the United States of America are self-critical. It’s one of the beauties of our nation is we do hold ourselves accountable.”

And they were aided by the tough statements voiced at Tuesday’s hearing by several of the committee’s Democrats, who told Ms. Pierson that they did not have faith in her leadership and accused her of caring more about protecting her reputation than the president’s life.

While the director of the Secret Service is appointed by the president, the White House under either party typically defers to the agency on how to handle the president’s security. Even when a president is angry at missteps — as reports suggest Mr. Obama was after a 2011 shooting at the White House when one of his daughters was home — he rarely expresses that publicly. For one, it might come across as impolitic. For another, it might offend the very people a president depends on most.

So even though Mr. Obama had nothing to do with the various problems involving his security beyond appointing Ms. Pierson last year, his White House now finds itself in the position of defending the Secret Service to a degree.

At his daily briefing on Tuesday, Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, was buffeted with sharp questions about when the president found out about the intruder and whether the Secret Service had been candid in describing that incident and others. While acknowledging concerns over the incident, Mr. Earnest gave Ms. Pierson an endorsement at a time when some critics are calling for her resignation.

“What we saw was a willingness that she demonstrated in testifying before Congress under oath on live television today, a commitment to leading an agency with a very difficult mission,” he told reporters. “She is somebody who took responsibility for the incident that occurred about 10 days ago. She also took responsibility for ensuring that the necessary reforms were implemented to ensure it never happens again. That is a sign of leadership.”

And that is a conclusion that Republicans can disagree with, all with Mr. Obama’s interests at heart.

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

We knew Hank as a friend and tennis partner of Ernie Schneider who was the editor of the writings of Mr. Herman Kahn of the Hudson Institute (the Herman on the Hudson). We met Hank at the house of Suzy and Ernie Schneider. Suzy who was a daughter to a honored Austrian family was a colleague of my wife at the Austrian Consulate General in New York City and the Schneiders and Laventhols lived in Croton on the Hudson.

Hank liked to talk politics but professionally was rather a relaxed painter who liked classic music and jazz. We praised his work, and for disclosure I must say that we are proud of one of his piano/Chopin prints that hangs in our Vienna living room next to a New Orleans Jazz scene done by our son Gil.

When I first wrote the review I wanted to make reference to Hank’s whole range of work and realized that some of the reviews of his work were under a wrong spelling of his name that used the letter “a” instead of the “o” in Laventhol. I did not think that he should suffer from that seemingly widespread mistake and mentioned this other spelling as well. It turns out that Ms. Laventhol is upset with this alternate spelling – so I am taking it of my posting but have no power over all those other articles one finds on the internet.

Also, and this is more substantial, I was not careful in giving credits to the source of the material I quoted in that first posting. Now let me add here that probably all the photos of the paintings by Hank Laventhol were taken by his wife – Josay Laventhol. Probably much of the data about him was also taken from biography written by his wife, though I am sure I peppered it with material from some of the other reviews as well. Sorry if all of this has hurt feelings of the family.


THE FOLLOWING IS PART OF OUR ORIGINAL REVIEW OF DECEMBER 26, 2011.

HANK  LAVENTHOL  

Birth name     Henry Lee Laventhol

Born               21 December 1927

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Died               21 February 2001

Somers, New York

Field              painting, graphics, sculpture,

photography

Movement     neosurrealism

Laventhol’s mysteriously romantic  landscapes and  multiple  images evoke dream states and double meanings.” Pictures on Exhibit. N.Y.C.

shell wars, oil on linen, 20”X26”        Image 1

Hank Laventhol, an American painter,   made his early career in Europe. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Laventhol graduated Yale University with a B.A. in Fine Arts and did post graduate studies at Columbia University. At age 32 he left his business life in New York City for Europe to pursue his early vocation and life long interest in art. He studied at the Academy of Fine Art in Florence, Italy and eventually spent ten years in Europe, making his home in Mallorca, Spain. He had four solo shows in London and exhibited in  major cities in Western Europe.  He returned to the United States for good in 1970, settling in Westchester County, New York, with his  Dutch born wife.

Trained as a sculptor he  worked in many other media, including painting, print making, drawing and photography.  He said “ they all mesh for me.” Laventhol painted on wooden panels prepared with gesso using the ancient egg tempera technique until he towed an American couple  in a failing rental car to a garage outside Madrid.  In gratitude, they sent him a roll of Belgian linen which started him painting on canvas using oil and acrylics.

He was a master printer,  specializing in multi plate color etchings and aquatints, a demanding and precise process that provided him with a variety of color and texture, unrivaled by any other etching technique. He owned two Wright presses and pulled his own limited edition  prints. Publishers include Associated American Artists,  New York Graphic Society, Original Print Collectors Group Ltd., Georges Visat, Paris, and Pierre Chave, Vence, France.  Laventhol was a guest lecturer at Pratt Graphic Center, New York City and wrote articles about print making,   specializing in how to achieve perfect register in multiple color aquatint.

In the United States, his work was seen at four solo shows in New York City as well as  one man and group  shows across America.

Laventhol’s work is in corporate and private collections, museums and libraries, including the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., the Yale University Museum, the New York Public Library Print Collection, the Free Library of Philadelphia and the Bibliotèque Nationale,  Paris, France.  Laventhol has been listed in Benezit, the definitive international  Directory of Artists.

Published illustrated portfolios include: “Le Miroir Aux Alouettes” by Georges Visat, Paris, with six color aquatint etchings and a poem by Andre Serini. Later porfolios include “Les Crises” and “Eyedeas.”

Eggs, eyes, roses, and flying torsos were recurring themes. Some critics considered him a surrealist. Laventhol, however, preferred to think of his work as dealing with fantasy realism.

* * *

Hank Laventhol, a gregarious,  kind man with a fine, broad mind  enjoyed life to the fullest. Besides being a disciplined, hard worker he had a wide array of interests and hobbies. His art was his passion, but he rarely started a day without an early game of tennis. He was an eclectic music lover and an opera and chamber music buff.  It was hilarious to hear him sing along with all the voices while listening to an opera as he worked. He was well versed in American folk music and loved playing  his classical  guitar  -  not well,  he admitted. During the 1960s he sought out small locales all over Europe to tape indigenous music – Flamenco in Spain, Fado in Portugal, Stornelli in Italy and jazz in Northern Europe – using a huge reel to reel recorder.  Mexican and South American indigenous music  was another interest added to his music  collection .

He spoke fluent Spanish and Italian and said he knew enough French,  Dutch and German  to defend himself. Whatever the topic, he communicated. His sense of humor got him past being embarrassed. An adventurous traveler with an infallible sense of direction, Laventhol met his Dutch born wife over a chessboard in Mallorca, Spain, and was kind enough to let her win a few times during the ensuing 40 years. An imaginative chef, he made up his own multi cultural recipes. Stuffed trout was served with the head on. Asian wok-cooked food was a treat. Dill, unavailable in Mallorca, was imported from the U.S. to pickle a fresh crop of cucumbers in large clay pots placed around his Mallorca rental house.  When  they started fizzing,  it was time to serve them to his  “expat” friends, together with his amazingly good  baked beans. He used a wood chip smoker to prepare  fish and fowl and made his own gravlax and seviche. He said eating Dutch New Herring in the Netherlands was a life altering experience.

Frugal artistic life never held his ingenious imagination back. Any potential problem or road block was dealt with and solutions found. The Mallorcan car mechanic built an hibachi that was carried from his tiny fishing boat, which he called,  a “one lunger”, to friends’ houses. The same mechanic fabricated a roof rack for a convertible VW beetle  to carry paintings to art shows. Laventhol’s talents  converted what he saw as poetry into striking atmospheric work with a touch of the mystical.

* * *

1991                                                                       1992 – self portrait
hand /eye wind mill

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

Almonitor Week in Review
Monday, September 29, 2014

US leverages Iran-Iraq-Syria axis against Islamic State.

[Includes material from Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif address at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Sept. 17, 2014]

Last week – we saw US Secretary of State John Kerry’s remark to the UN Security Council on Sept. 19 that Iran has a role to play in the coalition against the Islamic State (IS) – “While the Obama administration has ruled out an alliance with Syria, Iran could be a bridge to Damascus within an international coalition against IS and in a subsequent political transition in Syria.”

This week, Reuters, citing unnamed senior Iranian and US officials, reported that the United States had informed Iran in advance of airstrikes against IS forces in Syria and assured Tehran that it would not target Syrian government positions.

Another bridge to Syria and Iran has been Iraq, according to Foreign Policy’s The Cable and The Wall Street Journal. Iraqi national security adviser Faleh al-Fayyad traveled to Syria on Sept. 16 to brief Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on the “latest steps taken in this regard, as well as discussing upcoming steps and possible measures to ensure the success of these efforts and eliminate terrorist organizations in all their forms.”

Although the deputy chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, Gen. Massoud Jazayeri, said that Iran’s nuclear negotiating team at the United Nations has no authority to discuss the campaign against IS, as reported by Arash Karami, it is an open secret that US and Iranian officials have been talking about just that on the sidelines of the nuclear talks.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, in his remarks at the UN, opened the door to even further collaboration against IS once a nuclear deal is reached, as reported by Barbara Slavin and Laura Rozen.

The United States and Iran cannot formally link arms in Syria, especially given the lack of progress in the nuclear talks. Iran has been an adversary and enemy, not an ally, and still supports and shelters terrorists, according to The Daily Beast.

Nonetheless, the trend to watch is the tentative emergence of what may be a truly regional counterterrorism coalition, with potential for a transformation in regional security, if managed carefully.

This column speculated back in January that the “new pulse” of the Geneva II process would be addressing the threat to counterterrorism in the region, with an essential role for Iran.

The Iran-Iraq-Syria axis provides a sectarian complement to the primarily Sunni Arab powers backing US airstrikes.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, after meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal on Sept. 21, spoke of “the first page of a new chapter” in Iran-Saudi relations, with consequences for many of the region’s most vexing conflicts.

Iran is in the fight against IS for its own interests, not to cull favor with the United States. Its efforts have won praise from Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government, who said at a press conference with Zarif on Aug. 27, “Iran was the first country to provide us with weapons and ammunition” to confront the IS advance toward Erbil.

While Zarif denied that Iran had provided any ground forces in Iraq, Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, who runs the aerospace division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), said this past week that IRGC forces were directly involved in the defense of Erbil, according to The Associated Press.

Iran was instrumental in the peaceful transfer of the premiership from Nouri al-Maliki to Haider al-Abadi in Iraq, and in managing the presidential transition from former President Hamid Karzai to Ashraf Ghani in Afghanistan. Cooperation in Afghanistan may be more urgent than ever, given the recent surge in Taliban violence in that country.

There are alternative perspectives on Iran’s role against IS. For some observers, the prospect of any type of accommodation with Iran is so alarming that they suggest giving a kind of pass to Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, which has aligned with other so-called moderate Islamist rebel forces, because of the perceived greater good of toppling Assad, and to assure Iran does not get an advantage in Syria.

Just a quick fact: Al-Qaeda, not Assad or Iran, was responsible for the terrorist attacks against the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, and until last year, Jabhat al-Nusra worked hand in hand with IS. The break between the two groups, both of which are designated by the United States and the UN as terrorist organizations, is the result of a power struggle, not a change of heart in either its hatred of the United States or its ambitions to impose Sharia in those areas it controls.

If there are US-backed opposition groups that are aligned with Jabhat al-Nusra and advocating a go-easy approach on the terrorist group, then perhaps the United States should reconsider funding those “moderate” groups. This column warned in December 2013 that the emergence of the Islamic Front among the opposition would be a “disaster for Syria’s opposition and future,” and here we are today with some in the Syrian opposition seeking to mainstream an al-Qaeda affiliate.

This should be a huge, neon warning sign about the perils of playing in opposition politics, where anti-Western jihadists, not pro-US democrats, carry the most sway.

The actions taken by Iran against IS to date contrast with what Turkey has done, or not done, until now against the terrorist group. The release last week of the 46 Turkish citizens held hostage by IS in Iraq may signal a new Turkish approach. Mustafa Akyol reviews polling data that reveals jihadism is a “marginal trend” in Turkish society.

Semih Idiz writes that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will need to overcome some troubling caveats in Turkey’s policies to date against extremist groups and step up against IS:

“It’s also not clear how the ruling Justice and Development Party’s Islamist roots will respond to active participation by Turkey against IS and other such Islamic groups, regardless of how radical they may be. Developments have shown, however, that Turkey is not as influential on its own in the region as it may have once thought, and that it has little choice but to move back to the multilateral track. This means it has no choice but to act with regional and global allies to confront situations that pose a danger to its national security.”

The trend toward a regional counterterrorism strategy is nascent and fragile, but — if managed carefully — has the potential, over time, of a breakthrough in regional politics, especially with a change in Turkish policies.

Despite the political constraints on Rouhani by hard-liners in Iran, his government is already taking its own initiative to battle extremists in the region and clearly signaling it is ready to do more. As Fareed Zakaria wrote this week: “When Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger decided in the 1970s that Iran would be one of their ‘regional policemen,’ they did so out of recognition of Iran’s geostrategic importance, not simply because they supported the shah.”

If Iran, over time, shifts from enemy to ally, beginning with a nuclear agreement and coordination in the fight against terrorism, then many of the region’s most vexing problems, including the role of Hezbollah, can be put in play. This column reported in February: “A discussion with Iran about Syria is a prelude to a broader discussion about Hezbollah, which is at the crux of the US tagging Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism.” That is the conversation that needs to be had during this transition. Given how far the US-Iran dialogue has already come, it is not out of the question to consider the potential of such a trend.

The Arab pulse

The trend toward a possible regional coalition against IS, under US leadership, could be the beginning of the end for the extremist force that, according to the latest US government estimates, number between 20,000 and 31,500.

While the threat of Islamic extremism will never be completely eradicated, there is a pulse among the peoples of the Arab world for a new politics, transparency and accountability from their leaders. The trend toward conflict resolution and good governance in the Middle East is fragile and not assured, but it can take hold if given a chance.

Look at Lebanon. More than two decades after a brutal sectarian civil war, the country today is a vibrant mosaic of its peoples and cultures. The leaders and groups that fought each other for decades now coexist, sometimes uneasily, but coexist nonetheless around a consensus on keeping the peace. It is fragile, for sure, but it is there. Lebanon’s universities maintain their reputation as a magnet for the best and brightest in Lebanon and the region.

Despite these nascent yet hopeful trends, there remains an approach to the region that pins the problems of the Arab world on its alleged “civilizational ills,” implying Arabs have a cultural predisposition to tribalism, corruption and religious violence, as if these phenomena do not exist in other cultures and societies. These culturally driven essays make good copy, especially when written by someone from the region who employs an abundance of “history” and metaphor.

A more helpful, and truly analytical, historical approach to what is indeed a crisis in the Arab region would include an assessment of the effect of colonialism and the postcolonial experience on Arab societies; the impact of oil on the international relations of the region; the consequences of rentier economies in the Gulf; the role of outside, non-Arab powers including the United States, Russia, European countries, Israel, Iran and Turkey on the region’s politics; the impact of the creation of Israel and the Palestinian national movement; the influence of the Wahhabist tradition on current jihadist groups; the role of states, institutions and individuals, in and outside the region, which have backed the flow and emergence of these jihadist movements; and the economic and demographic trends that may shape the Arab region in the decades to come.

Arab civilization is not “sick”; its peoples are in the midst of a struggle for identity and democracy, where the forces of extremism command resources and influence. The people of the Levant love their culture, their cities and their land, and there is much to be proud of. There is no reason to believe the Arab peoples of the Levant will not reclaim their place in the world, as happened in Lebanon, with the assistance of an international community and region that is ready to put an end to those fringe groups that prey on the forces of division, not unity.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 29th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The weekend issue September 27-28, 2014 was amazing. We will pick up here just two items – both derived from WSJ being subservient to the oil and gas industries:

(1) The article titled: “FORGET ELECTRIC CARS. NATURAL GAS IS POWERING VEHICLES IN TEXAS” on page A13 headed OPINION.

(2) An insert of 8 pages “RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES” lauding Russian Stock Markets thanks to the availability of natural resources and not well defined markets. The material sells to the naive “Top 20 Undervalued Stocks” based on substance like coal which is defined as black gold, gas, and the renewal of “Metals and Mining.” The General Director of a large Nickel company teaches us that “Business is Not a Sport.” Great entertainment.

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

from: Chris Thomas, SierraRise


First Google, then Yelp and Facebook…but where’s eBay?

Tell eBay: Quit ALEC today!

————————————-


Dear Pincas,

Huge news!

Google is dumping the Koch-fueled American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an extremist group that pushes legislation like forcing public schools to teach climate denial.

The announcement comes on the heels of the People’s Climate March where more than 400,000 people hit the streets of New York City for a clean energy future and after you helped send 100,000 messages to Google asking them to stop funding ALEC. It’s clear our work is paying off.

But we can’t stop now! eBay is still funding these climate deniers. Tell them to join Google and the 50 other corporations that have quit ALEC.

America’s technological innovators have sent a message loud and clear: groups that promote a climate denying agenda have no place in the 21st century.

Just the other day, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt told National Public Radio’s Diane Rehm Show that “The people who oppose [climate change] are really hurting our children and grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. We should not be aligned with such people. They are just literally lying.”

BOOM!

Google, Yahoo, Yelp, Facebook, and Microsoft have all stopped funding ALEC. Tell eBay it’s time to join the exodus. Help us send 30,000 messages to John Donahoe, eBay’s CEO, today.

Thanks for all you do to protect the environment. Together we are showing ALEC and the Koch brothers that America won’t stand for its climate denying agenda any longer!

In it together,

Chris Thomas
SierraRise

P.S. Five signatures are even more powerful than one — after you take action, be sure to forward this alert to your friends, family, and colleagues!

—————————————————————-

ALSO:

Dear Pincas,

Momentum is building in our fight against the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Just this week, tech leaders like Google, Microsoft, and Yelp have announced their withdrawal from the shadowy corporate lobby, but AOL and Yahoo! are still financing ALEC’s backroom dealing.

Tell AOL and Yahoo! to cut their ties with ALEC and publicly separate from the organization.

Here’s our message to Yahoo and AOL:

notgoodbusiness4

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt had this to say about ALEC and its work on Monday: “Everyone understands climate change is occurring, and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. And so we should not be aligned with such people—they’re just, they’re just literally lying.”

What’s more, ALEC calls itself a charity, allowing its corporate members to deduct payments to ALEC on their tax returns. That’s right, ALEC lets corporate lobbyists write legislation behind closed doors, then sticks you with the bill! Nobody wants to associate with such shady behavior, which is why ALEC’s corporate sponsors are leaving by the dozens.

Sign our petition today and tell Yahoo and AOL to follow suit! We’ll deliver your message to their D.C. offices next Tuesday.

Thanks for all you do,

Jay Riestenberg
and the rest of the team at Common Cause


THE LATEST NEWS = YAHOO PULLED OUT = AOL DID NOT PULL OUT YET !!

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


In Seattle, compost your food scraps — or else.

By Sean Kennedy, CNN
Wednesday September 24, 2014

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

Seattle City Council mandates food waste composting
Residents will be fined $1 for violations
Critics say program is a waste of money
San Francisco was the first city to mandate composting

(CNN) — Have you ever thrown away a banana peel or dumped expired milk into the garbage? Well, if you do it in Seattle you are in for a fine.

Under a new policy, passed 9-0 by the Seattle City Council earlier this week, those who fail to compost “food waste and compostable paper” will be penalized.

The new program will come into effect in January 2015 for commercial establishments and residences. It will be enforced by the Seattle Public Utilities commission. Seattle has had a similar rule for noncompostable recyclables for nine years.

After receiving two warnings, residents and businesses will be fined $50 for dumpsters and a more modest $1 for waste at single-family homes. Previously, the utilities commission left residents and businesses a note that asked them to compost. If they did not comply, the city refused to collect the garbage.

4 ways to combat food waste at home

So, why is Seattle making residents compost? The city was not going to meet its self-imposed goal of recycling 60% of all waste.

“Compostables are about 30% of what is still in the garbage and they are the largest target we have to help us reach our goals,” said Timothy Croll, solid waste director of the utilities commission, which asked the city council for the change. “Also, composting food waste reduces emissions of methane, which is a strong cause of climate change.”

Although the utilities commission contends inspecting garbage and issuing fines for noncompliance will have “minimal costs” and save money in the long run by reducing landfill usage, not everyone agrees.

“This program is not free, it costs money and nobody is looking at the real cost of this [program],” said Todd Myers, environment director for the conservative Washington Policy Center.

Opinion: Composting in a city: Are you kidding?

Myers said the program costs could be put to better use.

“There are a lot of ways to spend this money to actually do good for the planet. … Seattle is very good at doing things that feel good, but very bad at doing things that do good for the planet,” said Myers.

But Croll said the program is worth it.

“Nine years ago, we prohibited recyclable paper and containers from the garbage and this created a significant rise in our recycling rate,” Croll said.

The program is modeled on a similar one instituted in San Francisco in 2009.

Last year, then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed requiring New York residents to compost. New York’s city council only extended the requirement to commercial establishments.

###

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

Common Cause
1133 19th Street NW, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20036
202.833.1200

from: Allegra Chapman, Common Cause  CauseNet at commoncause.org

about: National Voter Registration Day – NVRD

Dear Pincas,

Today, September 23rd, is National Voter Registration Day, and we’re asking you to take a moment to check that your voter registration is up to date before Election Day. Then, talk to your family, your friends, and others in your community to make sure they’re up to date, too. After all, democracy isn’t for the few – it’s for all of us.

America isn’t fully living up to its promise. Belief in our government is at an all-time low, with some questioning whether we can even call ourselves a democracy anymore. The widening inequality in every aspect of our society allows the wealthy to saturate the political process with billions of dollars in political “speech,” while police attack and arrest the most marginalized among us for peaceful protest.

But across the country, we’re making ourselves heard and fighting back against a broken system. Last weekend in New York, over 400,000 marched against climate change and the big money interests blocking action on it. Earlier that week, we gathered with our partners the names of over 500,000 Americans demanding Congress protect voting rights for all. And over three million Americans have contacted their lawmakers to say our democracy must be guided by the best ideas – not the biggest spenders.

Each ballot cast this November 4th helps shape the direction of our country. Your vote helps determine who gets into office – at a local level, in the state, and for the country – and therefore sets the agenda on whether we move forward together. Without it, your voice stays on the sidelines for the next couple years. Don’t let that happen.

Thanks for all you do,

Allegra Chapman
and the team at Common Cause

###

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


(CNN) — Is the world going nuts?
By Fareed Zakaria – Sat September 20, 2014

I get asked this question a lot these days, and for understandable reasons. Look at what’s been in the news in just the last few weeks. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s execution videos, Scotland’s bid for secession, Russian soldiers in Ukraine.

There is an unraveling taking place in parts of the world. In the Middle East, the old order that stretched from Libya to Syria has collapsed. In Russia, the rise of oil prices has empowered and emboldened President Vladimir Putin — and he wants a makeover on the fall of the Soviet Union. Putin is testing the stability of the old international order built after World War II, and sees that it is weaker than most people might have guessed.

But why is all this happening? In the Middle East, people were tired of the old dictatorships. They weren’t prepared for what should follow them, but they wanted greater space and voice. The result has been chaos and violence, but perhaps that is the brutal, ugly phase that will force people there to find a way to make their peace with the modern world. After all, Europe went through its own religious wars, wars or nationalism, and world wars before it became the stable continent it is today.
Where do Scotland and UK go from here?

Intel community underestimates ISIS: Similarly, in Eurasia, the real driver of what has happened there is not the West or Russia, but the Ukrainian people. They decided that they didn’t want to be vassals of the Kremlin. They look with longing at Poland, which in 1989 had a similar-sized economy to theirs and is now twice the size, and is a member in good standing of the European Union.

Of course there are Ukrainians who feel differently — that’s what’s causing the turmoil — but most, overwhelmingly, want to chart a future with the West. Whether they can remains an open question, given Putin’s firm resolve to sabotage their plans. But again, this is a sign of people searching for greater connections with the civilized world.

And look at the rest of the world. India and Indonesia have elected leaders who are friendly towards markets, the West, and America — resolutely democratic and yet strong nationalists. Mexico and Colombia have reformers at the helm. In Africa, there are many governments from Ethiopia to Rwanda, where you see real progress in health and living conditions. There are many pieces of bad news coming out of that continent — from Ebola to Boko Haram — but there is also good news, growing economies, a surging middle class.

And look at the world’s two largest economies. The United States remains economically vibrant, with a dynamic society, new technologies that dominate the world, and new sources of energy that will power it for a few generations. China, for all the noise, remains committed to economic development first, is embarking on anti-corruption and reform drives and has even begun to tackle pollution and climate change as an issue.

I’m not saying that all is well in the world — I’m really suggesting that we are in the midst of great global change. Much of this change is driven by good news — people’s desires for greater freedom and autonomy, new information technologies, etc. But all change is disruptive, and without the institutions of freedom and the civic culture of liberty, this period of transition can be dangerous. The forces of integration will not automatically triumph over the forces of disintegration. But there are many good forces out here that are also sweeping through the world these days.

And, of course, Scotland did not end up seceding. Score one for integration.

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

URI AVNERY LOOKS AT SCOTLAND AND THE ARAB WORLD.

Uri Avnery

September 20, 2014

Scotland on the Euphrates

TWO COUNTRIES competed this week for first place in news programs all over the world: Scotland and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

There could not be a greater difference than between these two countries. Scotland is damp and cold, Iraq is hot and dry. Scotland is called after its whisky (or the other way round), while for ISIS fighters, drinking alcohol is the mark of unbelievers, who should lose their head (literally).

However, there is one common denominator of both crises: they mark the approaching demise of the nation-state.

MODERN NATIONALISM, like any great idea in history, was born out of a new set of circumstances: economic, military, spiritual and others, which made older forms obsolete.

By the end of the 17th century, existing states could no longer cope with new demands. Small states were doomed. The economy demanded a safe domestic market large enough for the development of modern industries. New mass armies needed a base strong enough to provide soldiers and pay for modern arms. New ideologies created new identities.

Britanny and Corsica could not exist as independent entities. They had to give up much of their separate identity and join the large and powerful French state to survive. The United Kingdom, the union of the British isles under a Scottish king, became a world power. Others followed, each at its own pace. Zionism was a late effort to imitate this.

The process reached its peak at the end of World War I, when empires like the Ottoman Caliphate and Austria-Hungary broke up. Kemal Atatürk, who exchanged the Islamic caliphate for a Turkish national state, was perhaps the last great ideologue of the national idea.

But by that time, this idea was already growing old. The realities which had created it were changing rapidly. If I am not mistaken, it was Gustave Le Bon, the French psychologist, who asserted a hundred years ago that every new idea is already obsolete by the time it is adopted by the masses.

The process works like this: somebody conceives the idea. It takes a generation for it to become accepted by the intellectuals. It takes another generation for the intellectuals to teach the masses. By the time it attains power, the circumstances that gave it birth have already changed, and a new idea is required.

Reality changes much more quickly than the human mind.

Take the idea of the European nation-state. When it reached its final victory, after the Great War, the world had already changed. European armies, which had mown each other down with machine guns, were facing tanks and warplanes. The economy became world-wide. Air travel abolished distances. Modern communication created a “world village”.

In 1926 an Austrian nobleman, Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi, convened a pan-European congress. While Adolf Hitler, a hopelessly old-fashioned thinker, tried to impose the German nation-state on the continent, a small group of idealists propagated the idea of a European Union, which spread after another dreadful World War.

This idea, now still in its infancy, is generally accepted, but it is already obsolete. The multinational economy, the social media, the fight against deadly diseases, the civil wars and genocides, the environmental dangers threatening the entire planet – all these make world governance imperative and urgent – yet this is an idea whose realization is still very, very far away.

THE OBSOLENCE of the nation-state has given birth to a paradoxical by-product: the breakup of the state into smaller and smaller units.

While the world trend towards larger and larger political and economic units gathers strength, nation-states fall apart. All over the world, small peoples are demanding independence.

This is not quite as ridiculous as it looks. The nation-state came into being because realities needed societies of at least a certain size and strength. But by now, all the major functions of the states are moving towards much larger regional unions. So why does Corsica need France? Why do the Basques need Spain? Why does Quebec need Canada? Why not live in a smaller state with people like you, who speak your natural language?

Czechoslovakia has broken up, peacefully. So has Yugoslavia, not so peacefully. So have Cyprus, Serbia, Sudan – and the Soviet Union, of course.

(Let me remark in passing that this also concerns the idea of the so-called One-State solution for our little problem in Israel/Palestine. During the last three generations, the world has not seen a single instance of two different peoples coming together voluntarily in one state.)

The Scottish referendum is one of the opening scenes of this new epoch. The proponents of independence promised that Scotland could join the European Union and NATO, perhaps adopt the Euro. So why, they ask, should Scotland remain in the British straightjacket? After all, Britannia does not rule the waves anymore!

The failure of the vote for Scottish independence does not change the course of events. It just slows it down.

NATIONALISM WAS a European idea.

It never struck deep roots in the arid fields of the Arab world. Even in the heyday of Arab nationalism, it was never quite clear whether a Damascene, for example, considered himself first a Syrian or a Muslim, whether a Beiruti considered himself first a Maronite-Christian or a Lebanese, or whether a Cairene was first an Egyptian, an Arab or a Muslim.

During the Algerian struggle for independence, an angry French right-wing politician once complained to me: “Before we conquered North Africa, Algeria was never united! We created the Algerian nation!” He was quite right, though he drew the wrong conclusions. Many times I heard exactly the same from dedicated Zionists about the Palestinian nation.

The modern Arab nations were invented by European colonialists. Lately, it has become a fashion to mention Mark Sykes and Georges Picot, two mediocre bureaucrats, one British, one French, who drew up a secret agreement for the division of the Ottoman Empire. They and their successors created the states of Syria, Iraq, (Trans)Jordan, Palestine etc.

These “nation-states” were quite artificial. The European planners had generally very little understanding for local circumstances, traditions, identities and culture. Neither did they care very much. Iraq, with its different components, was created to accommodate British interests. The strange eastern borders of Jordan were shaped for a British oil pipeline from Mosul to Haifa. Lebanon, created as a home for the Christians, was shaped to include Muslim Sunnite and Shiite areas, just to make it larger. Al-Sham was stripped of Jordan, Palestine and Lebanon and became Syria. Later it also lost Alexandretta to Turkey.

ALL THESE imperialist manipulations ran counter to Muslim history and tradition.

Every Muslim child learns in school about the vast Muslim empires, stretching from the north of Spain to theborders of Burma, from the gates of Vienna to the South of Yemen, and then has to look at the map of mini-countries like Jordan and Lebanon. It’s humiliating.

First there were efforts to unify the Arabs under the umbrella of nationalism. The Ba’ath party strove (in theory, at least) to create one, single pan-Arab state, and the creed was taken up by the hero of the masses, the Egyptian Gamal Abd-al-Nasser, a secular military dictator. A pan-Arab state could also have created some equality between rich oil-states like Saudi Arabia and poor countries like Egypt.

Nasserism created a new ideology. Pan-Arab nationalism was “kaumi”. Local patriotism was “wotani”. The community of all Muslims was the “umma”.

(The same word, umma, means the opposite in Hebrew: a modern nation. Israelis are as mixed up as their neighbors. We have to choose our priority. Are we primarily Jews, Hebrews or Israelis? What exactly does “the Nation-State of the Jewish People”, as propagated by Binyamin Netanyahu, mean?)

THE HUGE attraction of the movement now called “Islamic State” is that it proposes a simple idea: do away with all these crazy borders drawn up by Western imperialists for their own purposes and re-create the classic pan-Muslim state: the Caliphate.

This seems like the opposite of the breakup of European states, but it means the same: the total rejection of the nation-state.

As such, it belongs both to the past and to the future.

It glorifies the past. Muhammad and his immediate successors (caliph means successor) are idealized as immaculate persons, the embodiment of all virtues, the possessors of divine wisdom.

This is very far from historical truth. All three immediate successors of the prophet were assassinated. Because of quarrels about the succession, Islam split into Sunnis and Shiites and remains so to this very day (now more than ever). But myth is stronger than truth.

However, while clinging to the past, the Islamic State movement (former ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) is very modern. With one swipe it clears the table of the nation-state and its derivatives. It carries a clear, simple idea, easily understood by Muslims everywhere. It seems to be vastly convincing.

THE WESTERN response is almost comically inadequate.

People like Barack Obama and John Kerry, and their equivalents all over Europe, are quite unable to understand what it is all about. With the traditional European contempt for the “natives”, they see nothing but head-cutting terrorists. They really seem to believe that they can vanquish a revolutionary new idea by forming a coalition with Arab dictators and corrupt politicians, bombing the rebels and finishing the job by employing local mercenaries.

That is a ludicrous misreading of the new reality. By now, IS, with just a handful of fanatical and cruel militants, has conquered huge territories.

WHAT IS the answer?

Frankly, I don’t know. But the first step for Westerners, as well as for Israelis, is to discard their arrogance and try to understand the new phenomenon they are facing.

They are not facing “terrorists” – the magic word that seems to solve all problems without the need to strain the brain. They are facing a new phenomenon.

History is in the making.

###

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.

###

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

Environment – The Guardian / By Fiona Harvey

Lord Stern Report: Transform Global Economy to Fight Climate Change: One of the most influential voices on global warming releases a plan to fight climate change while growing the global economy.

September 16, 2014 |

The world can still act in time to stave off the worst effects of climate change, and enjoy the fruits of continued economic growth as long as the global economy can be transformed within the next 15 years, a group of the world’s leading economists and political leaders will argue on Tuesday.

Tackling climate change can be a boon to prosperity, rather than a brake, according to the study involving a roll-call of the globe’s biggest institutions, including the UN, the OECD group of rich countries, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and co-authored by Lord Stern, one of the world’s most influential voices on climate economics.

The report comes ahead of a UN-convened summit of world leaders on global warming next week at which David Cameron has pledged to lead calls for strong action.

“Reducing emissions is not only compatible with economic growth and development – if done well it can actually generate better growth than the old high-carbon model,” said Stern.

It is his most significant intervention in climate politics since the landmark 2006 Stern review of the economics of climate change, which made the case that tackling climate change as a matter of urgency will be cheaper than attempting to deal with the effects of the problem decades in the future. That report marked a revolution in thinking on global warming, and was a major factor in the agreements forged in Copenhagen in 2009 by which developed and major developing countries for the first time set out joint measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The economic transformation proposed in the new report will improve the lives of billions, the authors argue, from people suffering from air pollution in crowded cities to farmers struggling with poor soils in developing countries, the authors found. But achieving this change will require strong political action to set limits on carbon dioxide emissions, while promoting alternatives such as renewable energy, sustainable cities, teaching modern farming techniques and better-designed transport.

The world is expected to add billions of people to the global population in the next two decades, and trillions of dollars in economic growth – but if the massive expected growth of developing world cities is poorly managed, and global investment is poured into existing high-carbon infrastructure, then a unique opportunity to change the pattern of prosperity will have been lost, and billions of people will be left the poorer as a result, the report warns.

Stern gave the example of cities, which if designed on public transport can have more efficient economies – because people aren’t spending hours commuting and polluting, with its attendant effects on health – as well as better quality of life and lower carbon emissions.

The energy and climate change secretary, Ed Davey, told the Guardian that the UK has already seen benefits from focusing on clean development, and was committed to helping developing countries do the same. He said: “It has required UK business and international investors to recognize the costs of failure and the benefits of change and it has been sustained by a strong, vocal and committed network of NGOs, pressure groups and activists who have been instrumental in sustaining political will and public acceptance.”

At next week’s climate summit, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, will convene heads of state and government from around the world to discuss climate change for the first time since the 2009 Copenhagen conference, which produced the first commitments from major developing countries such as China and India to curb emissions, and marked the first time the US agreed to binding emissions targets, but was widely derided for the scenes of chaos that accompanied it.

Convening world leaders again is a risky strategy, but is seen by the UN as essential to lay the ground for a crunch meeting in Paris next year, at which world governments will attempt to forge a new agreement that will cut global greenhouse gas emissions after 2020, when current pledges run out. The EU has vowed to cut emissions by 40% by 2030, compared with 1990 levels, but is the only major developed country bloc to have laid out clear plans.

Today’s report, the New Climate Economy, from the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, says that although technological “fixes” to climate change – such as renewable energy, low-carbon fuels, better urban design and better use of agricultural land – are growing fast, they are currently nowhere near enough to produce the transformation needed. As new power stations, cities and transport networks are built today, they are still being engineered on a high-carbon basis – coal-fired power plants, roads rather than public transport, slums without facilities rather than planned developments – and once these are built they lock in high carbon emissions for decades to come. Breaking that cycle requires a coordinated effort, from rich and poor countries, that prioritizes sustainability and penalizes high-carbon growth, for instance through a price on carbon.

Such efforts will come at a price, but this is far outweighed by the benefits in economic growth and improvements in health, the report suggests. For instance, reducing the world’s dependence on coal and other dirty fuels will cut air pollution and remove a key source of strain on healthcare systems.


The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, launched a year ago by the UK along with six other countries, has involved the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the OECD, the International Energy Agency and the UN, as well as several research institutes, and former world premiers. It has been chaired by the Mexican president, Felipe Calderón, and advised by leading economists including Lord Stern and Nobel prize winners Daniel Kahneman and Michael Spence.

Ottmar Edenhofer, chief economist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and an adviser to the report, said: “Economic growth and emissions reductions can be achieved together, the report clearly confirms …

Pricing CO2 is key. The heaven above us today is a waste dump for gases that harm our climate system. Wealthy states are disposing of them, free of charge, at the expense of all of us. If emitting CO2 came at a reasonable price, this would stabilize investors’ expectations so they can push forward the innovation of climate friendly technologies.”

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


The New York Climate Week: Where to discuss, rally and protest climate change in the Big Apple.

4 Big Activist Events for New York’s Climate Week

Cliff Weathers, AlterNet

Where to discuss, rally and protest climate change in the Big Apple. READ MORE»

—————-

The Climate March: Will It Be a Call to Arms For the Earth, Or Are More Radical Actions Needed?

By Bill McKibben and Chris Hedges, Democracy Now!, Truthdig

Two opposing viewpoints from the event’s organizer and an activist journalist. READ MORE»

—————-

We’re Wrecking the Planet for the Next Millennia: Biggest Rally Over Climate Change in Human History Coming Up

Eddie Bautista, La Tonya Crisp-Sauray and Bill McKibben, Tom Dispatch

We march because we know that climate change affects everyone, but its impacts are not equally felt. READ MORE»

—————

Paul Krugman Has Some Truly Shocking News About Climate Change

By Janet Allon, AlterNet

Hint: It’s good. But will deniers and despairers listen? READ MORE»

————–

Lord Stern Report: Transform Global Economy to Fight Climate Change

By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian

One of the most influential voices on global warming releases a plan to fight climate change while growing the global economy. READ MORE»

————–

People’s Climate March: How We’re Sharpening the Environmental Justice Movement

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance

It will take a mass ‘movement of movements’ to counter the power of money and corruption that prevents the change we need in regard to climate. READ MORE»

————-

What to Do When You’re Running Out of Time

By Rebecca Solnit, TomDispatch

When it comes to climate change, there’s still a window open for action — but it’s closing. READ MORE»

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Texas Proposes Rewriting School Books to Deny Manmade Climate Change

By Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian

In the proposed 6th grade texts, students were introduced to global warming amid false claims that there was scientific disagreement about its causes. READ MORE»

————–

How We Can Rescue a World That’s Going Up in Flames

By Rebecca Solnit, Tom Dispatch

Personal changes aren’t enough; only great movements and collective action can save us now. READ MORE»

—————-

Naomi Klein on the Great Clash Between Capitalism and the Climate

Don Hazen, Jan Frel, AlterNet

Klein discusses her new book, “This Changes Everything.” READ MORE»

————–

Do You Really Want to Save the Earth? After the Climate March, Flood Wall Street!

By Richard (RJ) Eskow, Huffington Post

Monday’s rally in NY’s financial district will target the role of global capitalism, the root cause of our environmental crisis. READ MORE»

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

THE FOLLOWING WAS POSTED BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BLOG CITY ROOM – NEW YORK TODAY

Climate March Countdown
- By Annie Correal – September 18, 2014.


The People’s Climate March is happening on Sunday in Manhattan.

We checked in with Lisa Foderaro, The Times’s reporter who covered the preparations for the march.

The climax will be a moment of cacophony at 1 p.m., when about 20 marching bands and church bells across the city will “sound the alarm” on climate change.

Horns, whistles, cellphone alarms and other disruptive noisemakers are encouraged, too.

The occasion is the United Nations Climate Summit next week.

The march is part demonstration, part parade. For months, people have prepared floats and huge props.

“The Rockaways group has this big 30-foot life preserver that is orange and silver that they’ll carry over their heads,” Ms. Foderaro said.

“Scientists have a chalkboard with calculations about carbon levels. Religious leaders have this ark that they will ride in. A Filipino group has a giant mop to symbolize having to clean up after the typhoon.”

The march, which as of this week had confirmed 496 buses coming from as far away as Kansas, will coincide with similar events in 158 countries.

Though the buses will be using gas, the floats will either be powered by biodiesel or pulled by hand, Ms. Foderaro noted.

Some things to know if you’re going:

• Central Park West north of Columbus Circle to 86th Street will be closed to traffic before the march.

• People can gather from 65th Street to 86th Street. These are the access points.

• The march starts at 11:30 a.m. at Columbus Circle and ends at 11th Avenue and 34th Street, where participants can join a party until 5 p.m. This is the route.

• At 12:58 p.m., there will be a moment of silence followed by several moments of loud noise.

• A list of things you should and should not bring.

• Share your experience of the march with us over Twitter using #nytoday and #peoplesclimate.

Here’s what else you need to know.

WEATHER

Nothing but blue skies. Sunny again with a high of 75.

COMING UP TODAY

• Climate March events: Al Gore speaks at an Interfaith Leaders Climate March Breakfast at Union Theological Seminary in Morningside Heights. 9 a.m. [Livestream] …

• … Anti-fracking advocates call for a statewide ban outside the Plaza, during a fund-raiser for Governor Cuomo. Noon. …

• … Naomi Klein talks about her new book, “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate,” at the New School. 6 p.m. [Livestream] …

• … And a panel on jobs and climate change at S.E.I.U. Local 1999 headquarters in Midtown. 6 p.m.

• Mayor de Blasio makes an announcement at the Bronx Zoo. 1:15 p.m.

• Officials preview a taxidermy mount of “Lonesome George,” the last known Pinta Island tortoise (he died in 2012), at the American Museum of Natural History. 3 p.m.

• “Photoville,” a sprawling exhibition in Brooklyn Bridge Park, opens with a D.J.-accompanied slide show capturing 30 years in Brooklyn. 7:30 p.m.

IN THE NEWS

• The gap between the rich and the poor in Manhattan is greater than anywhere else in the country, according to Census data. [New York Times]

• About 100,000 people who identify as Garifuna live in the Bronx. [NY1]

• Scoreboard: Yankees pin Rays down, 3-2. Marlins outswim Mets, 4-3.

AND FINALLY …

Once, fires in the city had to be detected by watchmen, who stood in towers, scanning the horizon for smoke.

One historic tower still stands today: a 47-foot, cast-iron tower, designed by Julius B. Kroehl, atop an outcropping in what is now Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem.

The watchtower, built in 1857, was decommissioned when alarms came along in 1878, and its fortunes have dwindled ever since. Now, it is about to be dismantled, The Times reports. It’s not clear when, or even if, it will be restored.

There was a time, though, when the tower guarded the entire upper end of Manhattan.

It served another purpose, too.

“At one period it governed time in all of Harlem and the surrounding villages. All watches and clocks within sound of the bell were regulated by it,” The Times noted in 1896.

Firefighters rang the bell at 8 a.m., noon and 9 p.m.

“It was proposed several years ago to tear the tower down on account of its shaky condition, but the residents raised such an opposition that it was left standing.”

New York Today is a weekday roundup that stays live from 6 a.m. till late morning. You can receive it via email.

What would you like to see here to start your day? Post a comment, email us at  nytoday at nytimes.com, or reach us via Twitter using #NYToday.

Follow the New York Today columnists, Annie Correal and Andy Newman, on Twitter.

You can always find the latest New York Today at nytoday.com.

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

 

From:  Vanessa, People’s Climate March    -    peoplesclimate.org

   PLEASE SEE - ” title=”http://peoplesclimate.org/march/” target=”_blank”>Click here to find a bus near you: peoplesclimate.org/transportation.

More buses are being confirmed every day, so there may even be more than one nearby.

If the bus fills up and/or you’d like to step up and organize your own bus, click here to volunteer to be a bus captain.

It’s pretty simple, and there’s even some funding available –  the awesome bus team  will support you every step of the way.

If you need more info on transportation (and housing) options for the People’s Climate March, click here.

We have a real chance to make a difference on the issue of our time – make sure you have a ticket to New York to be part of it.

Click here to find a bus near you: peoplesclimate.org/transportation.

We can’t wait to march with you,
Vanessa T & the bus team

P.S. If you already have a ticket (or after you buy yours now), join our Thunderclap promoting the march. It only takes a second — you can sign up with your Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr to join a huge simultaneous social media post on September 15th and make sure everyone knows that this is too big to sit out.

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

Sierra Club - Explore, enjoy and protect the planet


Dear Pincas –
Climate change is personal. March with us.

RSVP now!

RSVP now for the People’s Climate March!

Trapped and hungry, in the middle of New York City. Climate change is here.

That is what I thought when I drove into Brooklyn, after Hurricane Sandy. My name is Carl Giles. I am a groundskeeper for the New York City Housing Authority and was dispatched after the storm to clear debris and set up generators and pumps at some of our hard-hit public housing.

I and other members of my union, Teamsters Local 237, were out even before the storm, to keep city residents safe and to prepare for the damage that Sandy would bring. The images from those days will be with me forever. People without power, begging for just an opportunity to charge their cell phones and let family members know that they are ok. Families in public housing without heat as cold weather bore down on the Northeast. Signs of the storm surge left behind; water marks three stories high on apartment buildings and four feet of sand covering the street.

Pincas, we’ve seen what climate change can do. That is why I and my Teamster brothers and sisters will be marching in the People’s Climate March on September 21st. Will you join the fight and march alongside us?

Working people are on the front lines of climate change. We live in the most vulnerable neighborhoods. We lead the recovery after extreme weather. And work in the industries that have to change to reduce emissions and clean our atmosphere.

For many Teamsters, Hurricane Sandy was a traumatic experience. I heard about one member working in an underground garage who drowned during the storm. Another Teamster lost two children. Too many lost homes and livelihoods.

At the same time, we were called on to put our city back together. Many Teamsters cleared roads and delivered supplies by day, while repairing their own homes at night.

We are marching because we want to tell our story and tell the world that workers are part of the solution to climate change. Teamsters in the private waste hauling industry are working to reduce pollution from their garbage trucks. Meanwhile, Teamsters in food distribution are working to build a more climate-resilient food system for our city.

We are all part of the solution. March with us on September 21st. RSVP now.

Thanks,

Carl Giles
Member, Teamsters Local 237

P.S. If this march is going to be big enough to get the world’s attention, we need everyone. After you RSVP, forward this message to five of your friends and family and share it on Facebook and Twitter to get the word out.

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

THE WASHINGTON POST AS PER AN EARTH INSTITUTE/ GALLUP POLL STUDY.

A fascinating map of the world’s happiest and least happy. countries

By Caitlin Dewey September 10, 2013

The results of Columbia University’s World Happiness Report, mapped. Click to enlarge. (Max Fisher/The Washington Post)

Denmark, Norway, Switzerland and the Netherlands are the happiest countries in the world, according to the U.N.-sponsored “World Happiness Report” released Monday by Columbia University’s Earth Institute. The report infers happiness using a number of social and economic metrics, measured using data from 2010 to 2012.

The very least happy countries, all in sub-Saharan Africa, are Togo, Benin, Central African Republic, Burundi and Rwanda. Syria also falls within the bottom 10. The United States ranks 17th of the 156 ranked countries, behind Mexico (16) and Panama (15).

The happiness metrics are highest in the Western, developed world: North America, Western Europe and Australia. But, as you can see in the above map, it’s also quite high in much of Latin America and on the Arabian Peninsula. It tends to be lower in poorer countries, with some interesting outliers and sub-trends.

The science of assigning a concrete number to something as abstract as happiness is, unsurprisingly, neither straightforward nor uncontroversial. This report used three measures of happiness, each evaluated by Gallup polls: life satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 10, positive emotional state the prior day (Did you smile a lot yesterday? Did you experience enjoyment?) and negative emotional state the prior day (Did you experience anger or sadness?). The researchers aimed for a sample size of 3,000 people in each country over three years of Gallup polls — which, as they point out, risks skewing the data as events change within those countries over those years.

Here are regional trends in happiness metrics over time:


(World Happiness Report 2013)

The statistics do, however, seem to mirror some wider medium- and long-term social trends, such as the global recession and the ongoing political instability in parts of the Middle East and Central Africa. Between the 2005-07 period and the 2010-12 period, happiness fell most in the Middle East than in any other part of the world. Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal also did not fare well: On average, people there rated their lives about two-thirds of a point lower than they would before the financial crisis.

Happiness also correlates to things like life expectancy and GDP per capita, though perhaps not quite how you’d expect. While longer lives and more money do correlate to national happiness, they’re not nearly as important as social support, which researchers define as “having someone to count on in times of trouble.” The report also found that perceptions of corruption and generosity (the latter measured by donations to charity in the past month) are better indicators than GDP per capita.

That could help explain, in part, why Scandinavian countries consistently rank at the top: Their wide-ranging social welfare policies, per Denmark’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Integration, tend to be much stronger than in richer Western countries and are based on the principle that all citizens have a safety net “in case they encounter social problems such as unemployment, sickness or dependency.”

But while there’s obvious value in understanding aggregate happiness — it contributes, after all, to things like health and economic productivity — it’s unclear how well reports like this one really capture that. Countless factors can influence an individual’s perception of her happiness: the order of survey questions, a bad day at work, the weather. As The Post’s Peter Whoriskey reported in 2012, researchers have debated a host of alternative survey methods, from diary-keeping to digital devices, just to overcome the tendency of people to answer these questions differently based on the time of day.

There’s also an entire discourse on the philosophy of happiness, which economist Deirdre McCloskey examined at enormous length in her article skewering happiness economics last year. At one point, she points to the case of a theoretical man “tormented by starvation and civil war” in South Sudan who rated himself as three, “very happy,” on a happiness scale of one to three. But if he won an immigration lottery and left South Sudan, McCloskey argues, he’d undoubtedly become happier. It’s all relative, a matter of perception and experience.

Other economists might point out that McCloskey’s example ties subjective happiness to public policy, which is exactly the type of link they’re trying to make. That’s the big so-what of these rankings and other reports like it: One day, with more and better data, policymakers could embrace happiness, rather than GPD per capita, as an end-goal metric. In fact, former British Cabinet secretary Gus O’Donnell argues that that t transition has already begun.

“This is only the second World Happiness Report,” he writes, “but already the importance of well-being as the goal of policy is spreading.”

Caitlin Dewey runs The Intersect blog, writing about digital and Internet culture. Before joining the Post, she was an associate online editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

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

As per e-mail from Maya Valcheva  —  Maya.VALCHEVA at unitar.org  – on behalf of  envdem.yale@gmail.com and envdem@unitar.org where ENVDEM siands for ENVIRONMENTAL GOVERNANCE and DEMOCRACY two topics that did not make it into the AGENDA of the RIO Conference of 1992 and are being tackled only now in the run-up to the Post-2015 decision making process.

————–

Human Rights, Environmental Sustainability, Post-2015 Development Agenda, and the Future Climate Regime.

3rd UNITAR-Yale Conference on Environmental Governance and Democracy
Yale University, 5-7 September 2014
 
 
The 2014 Conference on Human Rights, Environmental Sustainability, Post-2015 Development Agenda, and the Future Climate Regime will take place from 5-7 September 2014 at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
The Conference is organized by Yale University and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United National Development Programme (UNDP), and the World Resources Institute (WRI).
The Conference will bring together more than 100 scholars and policy experts to discuss state-of-the-art knowledge at the nexus of human rights and the environment, building on more than 70 papers which will be written by researchers and expert practitioners from 40 different countries as a contribution to the Conference.
The keynote presentation will be given by John Knox, the UN Independent Expert on Human Rights and the Environment.
Given that the Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals was just completed, and the upcoming climate change negotiations in Peru are approaching, the Conference also provides an opportunity to develop policy insights for strengthening the human rights-environment interface at the international level.
Details concerning the Conference are available on this Web Page.  
Inquiries may be sent to envdem.yale@gmail.com with cc to envdem@unitar.org.

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

ISIS is to America as Hamas is to Israel

by Alan M. Dershowitz

President Barak Obama has rightfully condemned the ISIS beheading of American James Foley in the strongest terms.  This is what he said:

“There has to be a common effort to extract this cancer so it does not spread. There has to be a clear rejection of the kind of a nihilistic ideologies. One thing we can all agree on is group like (ISIS) has no place in the 21st century.  Friends and allies around the world, we share a common security a set of values opposite of what we saw yesterday. We will continue to confront this hateful terrorism and replace it with a sense of hope and stability.”

At the same time that President Obama has called for an all-out war against the “cancer” of ISIS, he has regarded Hamas as having an easily curable disease, urging Israel to accept that terrorist group, whose charter calls for Israel’s destruction, as part of a Palestinian unity government.  I cannot imagine him urging Iraq, or any other Arab country, to accept ISIS as part of a unity government.

Former President Jimmy Carter and Bishop Desmond Tutu have gone even further, urging the international community to recognize the legitimacy of Hamas as a political party and to grant it diplomatic recognition.  It is hard to imagine them demanding that the same legitimate status be accorded ISIS.

Why then the double standard regarding ISIS and Hamas?  Is it because ISIS is less brutal and violent than Hamas?  It’s hard to make that case.  Hamas has probably killed more civilians—through its suicide bombs, its murder of Palestinian Authority members, its rocket attacks and its terror tunnels—than ISIS has done.  If not for Israel’s Iron Dome and the Israeli Defense Forces, Hamas would have killed even more innocent civilians.  Indeed its charter calls for the killing of all Jews anywhere in the world, regardless of where they live or which “rock” they are hiding behind.  If Hamas had its way, it would kill as least as many people as ISIS would.

Is it the manner by which ISIS kills?  Beheading is of course a visibly grotesque means of killing, but dead is dead and murder is murder.  And it matters little to the victim’s family whether the death was caused by beheading, by hanging or by a bullet in the back of a head.  Indeed most of ISIS’s victims have been shot rather than beheaded, while Hamas terrorists have slaughtered innocent babies in their beds, teenagers on the way home from school, women shopping, Jews praying and students eating pizza.

Is it because ISIS murdered an American?  Hamas has murdered numerous Americans and citizens of other countries.  They too are indiscriminate in who they kill.

Is it because ISIS has specifically threatened to bring its terrorism to American shores, while Hamas focuses its terrorism in Israel?  The Hamas Charter does not limit its murderous intentions to one country.  Like ISIS it calls for a worldwide “caliphate,” brought about by violent Jihad.

Everything we rightly fear and despise from ISIS we should fear and despise from Hamas.  Just as we would never grant legitimacy to ISIS, we should not grant legitimacy to Hamas—at the very least until it rescinds its charter and renounces violence.  Unfortunately that is about as likely as America rescinding its constitution.    Violence, anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism are the sine qua non of Hamas’ mission.

Just as ISIS must be defeated militarily and destroyed as a terrorist army, so too must Hamas be responded to militarily and its rockets and tunnels destroyed.

It is widely, and in my view mistakenly, argued by many academics and diplomats that there can never be a military solution to terrorism in general or to the demands of Hamas in particular.  This conventional wisdom ignores the lessons of history.  Chamberlain thought there could be a diplomatic solution to Hitler’s demands.  Churchill disagreed.  History proved Churchill correct.  Nazi Fascists and Japanese militarists had to be defeated militarily before a diplomatic resolution could be achieved.

So too with ISIS and Hamas.  They must first be defeated militarily and only then might they consider accepting reasonable diplomatic and political compromises.  Another similarity between ISIS and Hamas is that if these terrorist groups were to lay down their arms, there might be peace, whereas if their enemies were to lay down their arms, there would be genocide.

A wonderful cartoon illustrates this:  at one end of the table is Hamas demanding “death to all the Jews!”  At the other end is Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu.  In the middle sits the mediator, who turns to Netanyahu and asks:  “Can’t you at least come half way?”

No democratic nation can accept its own destruction.  We cannot compromise—come half way—with terrorists who demand the deaths of all who stand in the way of their demand for a Sunni caliphate, whether these terrorists call themselves ISIS or Hamas.  Both are, in the words of President Obama, “cancers” that must be extracted before they spread.  Both are equally malignant.  Both must be defeated on the battlefield, in the court of public opinion and in the courts of law.  There can be no compromise with bigotry, terrorism or the demand for a caliphate.  Before Hamas or ISIS can be considered legitimate political partners, they must give up their violent quest for a worldwide Islamic caliphate.

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What Barack Obama Can Learn from Richard Nixon on Israel and Foreign Policy.

August 26, 2014  -  3 comments

Richard Nixon and Barack Obama are rarely compared.  But the way these two presidents have dealt with crises in the Middle East provides instructive contrasts on the nature of leadership.

This summer marks the 40th anniversary of the resignation of President Nixon, a man more associated with skullduggery than leadership.  But in October 1973, when his Vice President was resigning in disgrace and the congressional investigation into his own misconduct was moving to its fatal conclusion, Nixon demonstrated how a leader can take command, master events, and shape history.

His example provides a contrast to the current President, whose concept of leadership involves “leading from behind.”  To the extent it involves taking initiative, it is the initiative of “avoiding doing stupid shit.”

President Obama has not abandoned Israel, nor has he declared himself neutral in its current struggle against Hamas. But time after time, he has undercut Israel’s position, in an effort to curry favor with a hostile world.

His Secretary of State tried to involve Turkey and Qatar, two implacable foes of Israel, in the cease-fire negotiations, even though their financial support enabled Hamas to amass the missiles and build the tunnels that threaten Israel. After an Israeli shell landed close to a UNRWA school in Rafah, his Administration joined the global anti-Israel chorus. Before any investigation could be conducted, the State Department immediately declared itself “appalled” by Israel’s “disgraceful” act – even though Hamas rockets have been found in UNRWA schools at least three times, and even though the U.S. armed forces conducted similar attacks against schools used by hostile forces in Afghanistan. (The Israeli 4-year old boy killed on Friday was the victim of a missile fired from a site near a UNRWA school.)

Most disturbing, Obama’s White House has recently changed the military-to-military relationship by which American weaponry has been transferred to Israel, to require White House and State Department approval. Now these are U.S. weapons, and it is of course up to the U.S. government to set the protocols for their transfer. But to change the rules so abruptly, while Israel is under daily bombardment, is unprecedented.

Once again, it represented the Obama Administration’s tendency to placate the world, rather than stand by a lonely ally. This emerges from an observation by a “senior Obama Administration official” to the Wall Street Journal:

“We have many, many friends around the world. The United States is their strongest friend,” the official said. “The notion that they are playing the United States, or that they’re manipulating us publicly, completely miscalculates their place in the world.”

In other words, the Administration was telling Israel by these leaked remarks: We have many friends.  You do not. Don’t ever forget it.

Sniping at friends to placate their enemies is not leadership. It is not even shrewdness. The United States has won no new friends from undercutting Israel.

To see a different kind of leadership, travel back in time and consider the performance of Richard Nixon in October 1973.

Israel faced a military crisis. Egypt and Syria, backed by nine Arab states and lavishly supplied by the Soviet Union, attacked on Yom Kippur. Israeli forces were thrown back in the Sinai and on the Golan Heights. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan told Prime Minister Golda Meir that Israel faced imminent defeat. The situation was so dire, that the Israeli government considered resorting to a last ditch nuclear option.

In this crisis situation, Richard Nixon ordered a massive airlift of military supplies to Israel. During a 32-day period beginning October 14, jumbo U.S. military aircraft touched down in Israel 567 times, delivering some 22,300 tons of material.

Conducting such an operation was a complicated task. Then, as now, Israel was not popular on the international scene. Fearful of the Arabs’ oil weapon, NATO allies refused to allow U.S. transport planes to refuel in their countries – even while NATO members Turkey and Greece were allowing Soviet supply planes to overfly their territory. Ultimately, the U.S. managed to pressure Portugal to allow landing in the Azores for refueling.

Meanwhile, in Washington, bureaucratic hurdles threatened to delay the airlift. Nixon took charge personally. White House counsel Leonard Garment recalled:

It was Nixon who did it. I was there. As [bureaucratic bickering between the State and Defense departments] was going back and forth, Nixon said, “This is insane….He just ordered Kissinger, Get your [behind] out of here and tell those people to move. “

Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger, concerned by the reaction of the Arabs and Soviets to the airlift, advised sending just three transports. Nixon responded: “We are going to get blamed just as much for three as for 300…Get them in the air, now.”

Nixon worked closely with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on the airlift. When Kissinger gave him a list of the type and quantity of weaponry sought by the Israeli military, Nixon ordered him to double it, then added: “Now get the hell out of here and get the job done.” Informed of a delay caused by disagreements in the Pentagon over which planes to use, Nixon shouted at Kissinger: “[Expletive] it, use every one we have. Tell them to send everything that can fly.”

The airlift helped turn the tide. Egyptian President Anwar Sadat proposed a ceasefire enforced by Soviet and U.S. troops on the ground. The U.S. rejected the proposal. Soviet leader Brezhnev then threatened to send Russian troops to the Middle East unilaterally. Nixon ordered that U.S. military to be put on high alert. Air Force strike units were prepared for attack, and two aircraft carriers were deployed to the Eastern Mediterranean. Brezhnev backed down.

Richard Nixon neither sought nor received any political gain for his decisive leadership. The Watergate investigation intensified, culminating in his resignation ten months later. American Jews, who voted overwhelmingly for Humphrey in 1968 and McGovern in 1972, remained, and remain today, hostile to the man.

But Golda Meir never forgot Nixon’s leadership. For the rest of her life she referred to him as “my president.” She once said, in tones reminiscent of the Passover haggadah: “For generations to come, all will be told of the miracle of the immense planes from the United States bringing in the material that meant life to our people.”

It is doubtful that any Israeli, of any political persuasion, will ever remember Barack Obama as “my president.”

It is also doubtful that friends of the United States in other parts of the globe will remember him that way. When Iranian populists remember Obama, they are likely to remember him as the President who reached out to the regime’s theocratic dictators, but failed to support the courageous demonstrators of the Green Revolution. When the Poles and Czechs remember Obama, they are likely to recall him as the President who reneged on the promise to build a missile defense shield in Europe, to avoid irritating the Russians.  When Ukrainians remember Obama, they are likely to recall him as the President who, after the non-irritated Russians annexed the Crimea, responded by airlifting, not weapons, but 300,000 ready-to-eat meals.

The irony of leadership is that it often proves a more effective tool to win over foes than supplication.  Obama’s forbearance has won the United States no points from Russia or Iran, or any of our other opponents.  It has only disappointed our friends. In contrast, Richard Nixon steadfastly supported Israel during wartime – and was lionized by Egyptians in the aftermath of that war after brokering a ceasefire.

In June 1974, just weeks before his resignation, Nixon visited Egypt and rode in an open railway car from Alexandria to Cairo with President Sadat. An estimated 6 million Egyptians lined the route, cheering him. Sadat saluted Nixon with these words:

Since the 6th of October, and since the change that took place in the American foreign policy, peace is now available in the area. And President Nixon never gave a word and didn’t fulfill it; he has fulfilled every word he gave.

Richard Nixon was a man of many flaws, not least of which was a strong strain of anti-Semitism. But he was also a leader. The current President, driven to make America liked again, may have more charity in his heart, but he has far less spinal fluid in his backbone.

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Lawrence J. Siskind is a San Francisco attorney, who blogs on issues of politics, foreign policy, law, and culture, at ToPutItBluntly.com.

 

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

August 25, 2014

To: Listings/Critics/Features
From: Jazz Promo Services
Press Contact: Jim Eigo, jim@jazzpromoservices.com
www.jazzpromoservices.com

 

For the eleventh consecutive year, on a glorious end-of-summer night, the intersection of Wall and North Front Streets in Kingston will become “The Jazz Corner of Upstate New York.” Once again, in an evening of music that should not be missed, the Wall Street Jazz Festival presents an array of some of today’s finest jazz artists – pianist Laura Dubin’s trio, saxophonist Virginia Mayhew’s quintet, pianist Roberta Piket’s sextet, plus two all-star ensembles featuring saxophonists “Sweet” Sue Terry and Claire Daly, singers Jay Clayton and Teri Roiger, pianist (and the festival’s Artistic Director) Peggy Stern, among others. For many years now, this annual event has been one of the highlights of my summer, an exciting and engaging way to enjoy the music I love in an elegant, intimate, and inviting setting. 

The Wall Street Jazz Festival, “where the traditions meet the progressives, and all the leaders are women,” it’s happening Saturday, August 30, from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m. in Kingston, NY – and it’s all free!

www.wallstreetjazzfestival.com/home.html

 

Bob Bernotas, Host of “Just Jazz,” Sunday nights, 10:00 p.m-3:00 a.m. at

www.wnti.org

 

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Zephyr Teachout teaches at Fordham Law School. She is the former National Director of the Sunlight Foundation and Director of Online Organizing for Howard Dean’s Campaign. She is a Board Member of Public Campaign Action Fund and Fight for the Future.

She wrote: “In a blog post this week, Former White House Counsel Bob Bauer critiqued an essay I wrote recently entitled “Constitutional Purpose and the Anti-Corruption Principle.” The basic argument of my essay is that the global purposes of the Constitution should be relevant in making hard Constitutional decisions. We ought look beyond the purposes of particular clauses and to the Constitution as a whole when making sense of the application of particular clauses. As I point out in the essay, Courts already do this: they interpret clauses to be consistent with the global principle of Separation of Powers, for instance, even though there is no “Separation of Powers” clause. Therefore, given the strong historical evidence that anti-corruption concerns were as fundamental as any other at the Constitutional convention, anti-corruption concerns should get significant constitutional weight when interpreting other clauses, like the First Amendment.

She was a Professorial adviser to “Occupy Wall Street” – and that is why we make the connection here.

N.Y. / Region

Cuomo Opponent Unbowed by Underdog Status.

By

 

There she was, Prof. Zephir Teachout of Fordham University, just to the right of the stage, waving her arms furiously, hoping that the event’s host, Eric L. Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, would see her and give her a shout-out. No such luck; a tall security guard was in the way.

As Zephyr Teachout was leaving the gospel concert in East Flatbush, a man in a wheelchair called out, “Who are you?” Ever eager, she explained that she was running as a progressive against Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in the Democratic primary.

The man, won over, pointed to a homemade campaign button pinned to Ms. Teachout’s jacket. “Can I have your button?” he asked. She gladly obliged.

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Just a few months ago, Ms. Teachout was a popular Fordham University law professor with ties to Occupy Wall Street and a keen interest in political corruption. But after the liberal Working Families Party approached her to run against Mr. Cuomo — before it arrived at a bitterly contested decision to stick by the governor — Ms. Teachout decided, with the encouragement of other liberal activists, to mount her own long-shot campaign.

Photo

 
Ms. Teachout, a candidate for governor, gave away her campaign button to a potential supporter this month after a gospel concert in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. Credit Andrew Renneisen/The New York Times

Yes, she knows that few New Yorkers have heard of her. Yes, she knows that she will not have enough money for television ads. And yes, she knows that her best shot at statewide exposure — a debate with Mr. Cuomo — is unlikely. Still, she insists that she is gaining momentum, and is zestily campaigning with a kind of cynicism-free optimism that makes her a sunny surprise.

“I didn’t know politics would be this much fun!” she beamed after a South Asian festival in Queens a week ago.

Privately, Ms. Teachout’s admirers say that her campaign has already succeeded, by forcing Mr. Cuomo to embrace more liberal causes. If she gets more than 25 percent in the Sept. 9 primary, some argue, then Mr. Cuomo might need to worry about liberal angst heading into a general election against the Republican candidate, Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive.

Ms. Teachout does not pretend that her task will be easy. But she said the worst that could happen would be that she got only 1 percent of the vote, and that she became known as an idealistic but politically naïve professor.

“We’re underdogs, we know that, but we’re serious underdogs,” she said at a house party near her apartment in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

Ms. Teachout and her running mate for lieutenant governor, Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor, talked about winning over the small number of Democrats who actually vote in primaries.

They hope to tap into disillusionment or even anger with Mr. Cuomo among teachers, public employees and upstate residents opposed to hydraulic fracturing.

Photo

 
Ms. Teachout speaking at a cocktail party in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, where she currently resides. Credit Andrew Renneisen/The New York Times

“In the face of Andrew Cuomo’s silence, I am being loud,” she said in Fort Greene.

Mr. Cuomo has not publicly mentioned Ms. Teachout by name, and his campaign has declined to comment on her candidacy.

Still, avid Democrats are getting to know her. A Vermont native, Ms. Teachout, 42, worked as a death penalty lawyer in North Carolina and co-founded an organization intent on breaking up Wall Street banks. The author of a coming book on political corruption, she is on track for tenure at Fordham early next year.

Her most formative political experience came in 2003, when she became the director of online organizing for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign.

“She was terrific; she was hard-working,” Mr. Dean said during a 10th-anniversary celebration that Ms. Teachout attended for Democracy for New York City, a Dean-inspired group.

She often mentions two United States senators — Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sherrod Brown of Ohio — as role models. She also raves about State Senator Gustavo Rivera of the Bronx and Letitia James, the New York City public advocate.

She even buys into the anti-“crony capitalism” message, if not the prescription, of Dave Brat, the Virginia professor and Tea Party upstart who defeated Eric Cantor, the former House majority leader, in the Republican primary in June.

Photo

 
Ms. Teachout tried on a sari this month at the Chatpati Mela festival in Jackson Heights, Queens. She spoke with the vendors about the challenges of running small businesses. Credit Andrew Renneisen/The New York Times

Like Mr. Brat, Ms. Teachout has little money. But contributions have increased so much since Mr. Cuomo unsuccessfully tried to kick her off the ballot that a highly targeted online advertising campaign is planned. She has a paid staff of about 10, and shares a cramped office in Midtown Manhattan with lawyers, real estate brokers and a casting company.

On the trail, she often asks people what they want in a governor. She has also honed a stump speech, talking about her unusual name (yes, that is her first name, and her last name is Dutch), then touching on public schools, small businesses, transportation and infrastructure.

“In my vision we can have an economy and a democracy that works for all of us, not just the wealthy and well-connected,” she said at a street fair outside the Bronx Zoo a week ago, eliciting a few “that’s right” replies.

To get around, Ms. Teachout usually takes public transportation or relies on rides from volunteers, especially when she travels to Ithaca, Binghamton and other areas to fire up “fractivists.” One afternoon she spent $65 to take five people, including an aide and an independent filmmaker, from the Bronx to Queens by livery cab.

Things do not always go according to plan.

At the Chatpati Mela celebration in Jackson Heights, for example, she could not distribute any campaign literature (black-and-white photocopies) or speak onstage — it was a strictly nonpartisan affair.

Unfazed, she talked excitedly with vendors until she stumbled upon some Bangladeshis selling saris. After hearing about the travails of establishing small businesses, she bought an orange one for $20, and tried it on.

“Should I wear this to my debate with Governor Cuomo?” she joked.

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A version of this article appears in print on August 25, 2014, on page A15 of the New York edition with the headline: Cuomo Opponent Unbowed by Underdog Status.

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

 From Daniel Pipes:

Dear Reader:

The article below began life as a presentation at a Muslim conference in Toronto a week ago and is today published in Turkish and English by a newspaper in Turkey.

Also: I appeared August 22 on Sun News Network’s The Arena with Michael Coren, and discussed “Hamas and ISIS on the Rampage.” It’s studio quality and 8 minutes long. Click here.

Yours sincerely,

Daniel Pipes


The Caliphate Brings Trauma.

by Daniel Pipes
Ayd?nl?k (Turkey)
August 24, 2014

www.danielpipes.org/14791/caliphate-trauma

Without warning, the ancient and long powerless institution of the caliphate returned to life on June 29, 2014.
What does this event augur?

The classic concept of the caliphate – of a single successor to Muhammad ruling a unified Muslim state – lasted just over a century and expired with the emergence of two caliphs in 750 CE.

The power of the caliphate collapsed in about the year 940 CE. After a prolonged, shadowy existence, the institution disappeared altogether in 1924. The only subsequent efforts at revival were trivial, such as the so-called Kalifatsstaat in Cologne, Germany. In other words, the caliphate has been inoperative for about a millennium and absent for about a century.

 

“The Kaplan Case,” a German magazine cover story about the “Caliph of Cologne.”


The group named the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria conquered the city of Mosul, population 1.7 million, in June; days later, it adopted the name Islamic State and declared the return of the caliphate. Its capital is the historic town of Raqqa, Syria (population just 220,000), which not-coincidentally served as the caliphate’s capital under Harun al-Rashid for 13 years.

Under the authority of an Iraqi named Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim, the new caliphate projects boundless ambition to rule the entire world (“east and west”) and to impose a uniquely primitive, fanatical, and violent form of Islamic law on everyone.

 

{Harun al-Rashid was the fifth Abbasid Caliph. His actual birth date is debatable, and various sources give dates from 763 to 766. His surname translates to “the Just,” “the Upright” or “the Rightly-Guided.”  He died: March 24, 809 AD, Tous, Iran.

Al-Rashid ruled from 786 to 809, during the peak of the Islamic Golden Age. His time was marked by scientific, cultural, and religious prosperity. Islamic art and music also flourished significantly during his reign. He established the legendary library Bayt al-Hikma (“House of Wisdom”) in Baghdad in modern-day Iraq, and during his rule Baghdad began to flourish as a center of knowledge, culture and trade.

In 796, he moved his court and government to Ar-Raqqah in modern-day Syria.

Since Harun was intellectually, politically, and militarily resourceful, his life and his court have been the subject of many tales. Some are claimed to be factual, but most are believed to be fictitious. An example of what is factual, is the story of the clock that was among various presents that Harun had sent to Charlemagne. The presents were carried by the returning Frankish mission that came to offer Harun friendship in 799. Charlemagne and his retinue deemed the clock to be a conjuration for the sounds it emanated and the tricks it displayed every time an hour ticked.  Among what is known to be fictional is  The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, which contains many stories that are fantasized by Harun’s magnificent court and even Harun al-Rashid himself.

Amongst some Shia Muslims he is despised for his role in the murder of the 7th Imam, Musa ibn Ja’far.

(These lines above were  added by PJ when editing this material for SustainabiliTank.info as we wonder how the ISIS fighters reconcile their deeds with the historic image that put the Ar-Raqqah town on the Caliphate’s map?)}

Caliphs of Baghdad
(749–1258)

 

 

Harun al-Rashid as imagined in a 1965 Hungarian stamp.

 

I have predicted that this Islamic State, despite its spectacular rise, will not survive: “confronted with hostility both from neighbors and its subject population, [it] will not last long.” At the same time, I expect it will leave a legacy:

No matter how calamitous the fate of Caliph Ibrahim and his grim crew, they have successfully resurrected a central institution of Islam, making the caliphate again a vibrant reality. Islamists around the world will treasure its moment of brutal glory and be inspired by it.

 

Looking ahead, here is my more specific forecast for the current caliphate’s legacy:

1. Now that the ice is broken, other ambitious Islamists will act more boldly by declaring themselves caliph. There may well be a proliferation of them in different regions, from Nigeria to Somalia to Afghanistan to Indonesia and beyond.

2. Declaring a caliphate has major implications, making it attractive to jihadis across the umma (the worldwide Muslim community) and compelling it to acquire sovereign control of territory.

3. The Saudi state has taken on a quasi-caliphal role since the formal disappearance of the Ottoman caliphate in 1924. With the emergence of the Raqqa caliphate, the Saudi king and his advisors will be sorely tempted to declare their own version. If the current “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques” (as the Saudi king like to be called), who just turned 90, does not indulge this claim, his successors might well do so, thereby becoming the first caliphate in a recognized state.

 


Pope Benedict XVI (right) met in 2007 with Saudi king (and future Caliph?) Abdullah.
{is this picture a sign of things to come – the Saudi King’s ambition to speak for all Islam?}


4. The Islamic Republic of Iran, the great Shi’ite power, might well do the same, not wanting to be conceptually out-gunned by the Sunnis in Riyadh, thus becoming the second formal caliphal state.

5. This profusion of caliphs will further exacerbate the anarchy and internecine hostility among Muslim peoples.

6. Disillusion will quickly set in. Caliphates will not bring personal security, justice, economic growth, or cultural achievement. One after another, these self-declared universal states will collapse, be overrun, or let lapse their grandiose claims.

7. This caliphate-declaring madness will end some decades hence, with a return to roughly the pre-June 29, 2014, conditions. Looking back then on the caliphal eruption, it will appear as an anachronistic anomaly, an obstacle to modernizing the umma, and a bad dream.

 

In short, declaring the caliphate on June 29 was a major event; and the caliphate is an institution whose time has long passed and, therefore, whose revival bodes much trauma.

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Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum. This paper was first delivered at a QeRN Academy conference on “The Caliphate as a Political System: Historic Myth or Future Reality?” in Toronto on August 16, 2014. © 2014 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.

Related Topics:  History, Islam This text may be reposted or forwarded so long as it is presented as an integral whole with complete and accurate information provided about its author, date, place of publication, and original URL.

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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.

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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 August 23rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Contributor

Saudis Must Stop Exporting Extremism:

ISIS Atrocities Started With Saudi Support for Salafi Hate.

By ED HUSAIN,  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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