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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 15th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Economy / AlterNet / By Janet Allon

Paul Krugman on Why the U.S.-China Agreement on Carbon Emissions Is a Really Big Deal
“It’s been a good week for the planet.”

November 14, 2014 |

The climate deal reached by the U.S. and China at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting this week is a very big deal, Paul Krugman writes in his Friday column.

The opposition to doing anything to save the planet has been long, idiotic and stubborn, and of course will continue in Republican circles, especially as Senator James Inhofe, who believes climate change is a hoax, takes over the leadership of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Climate change denialists have even pursued witch hunts against climate scientists.

There have also been the economic scare tactics, which argue that limiting emissions will destroy jobs and end growth. “This argument sits oddly with the right’s usual faith in markets,” Krugman writes. “We’re supposed to believe that business can transcend any problem, adapt and innovate around any limits, but would shrivel up and die if policy put a price on carbon. Still, what’s bad for the Koch brothers must be bad for America, right?”

There are those, like new Senate leader Mitch McConnell, who wring their hands over the “war on coal,” which is not making a lot of impact, Krugman points out, since coal mining employs few people, and they’ve already been defeated.

What makes the agreement truly meaningful, Krugman argues, is that even Americans who are worried about global warming (most people) have felt helpless to fight it with other developing countries like China continuing to pollute. And, until now, no one thought China would get on board to help protect the climate. In some ways, this has been understandable, Krugman writes.

America is not exactly the most reliable negotiating partner on these issues, with climate denialists controlling Congress and the only prospect of action in the near future, and maybe for many years, coming from executive orders. (Not to mention the possibility that the next president could well be an anti-environmentalist who could reverse anything President Obama does.) Meanwhile, China’s leadership has to deal with its own nationalists, who hate any suggestion that the newly risen superpower might be letting the West dictate its policies. So what we’re getting here is more a statement of principle than the shape of policy to come.

Still, though, there is a lot to cheer here, Krugman concludes.

Until now, those of us who argued that China could be induced to join an international climate agreement were speculating. Now we have the Chinese saying that they are, indeed, willing to deal — and the opponents of action have to claim that they don’t mean what they say.

Needless to say, I don’t expect the usual suspects to concede that a major part of the anti-environmentalist argument has just collapsed. But it has. This was a good week for the planet.

—————-
SENATOR IMHOFE IS FROM OILKLAHOMA AND HAS AN OIL-CRAZED WORKERS AND COMPANY CEO’S _ THAT IS WHY HE OWNS THE ENERGY COMMITTEE. SO BE IT! I Met him at Kyoto and like him did not think the Protocol was a good idea. But since then I could not accept any other idea he stood for. // SustainabiliTank
—————-

Charlie Wood for the whole 350.org team writes:

This week, just weeks after the largest climate mobilisation ever, the world’s two biggest polluters — the United States and China — announced their most ambitious climate action yet. That is not a coincidence: it’s a sign that our pressure is working, and that we need to apply much more.

The emissions of China and the US have been used by governments around the world as an excuse to dodge their own responsibilities. But this new agreement leaves these governments with nowhere left to hide and opens the door for real progress from global governments. Right now, world leaders are converging on Australia for the G20 leaders summit and we have momentum on our side.

But Tony Abbott, Australia’s conservative Prime Minister and host of the G20, is refusing to allow a meaningful discussion of climate change at the G20. Climate change is the elephant in the room and Tony Abbott is asking the G20 to ignore it.

Send a message to Tony Abbott and tell him that he needs to get out of the way of climate action at the G20 and put climate change back on the agenda.

The world is ready to act. Most countries want to talk about climate change but Australia’s climate denying government is using their position as President to block discussion. We are not going to let one politician block discussion on climate change get off easy.

Put the pressure on Tony Abbott to stop blocking discussion at the G20 and get out of the way of real climate action.

There is plenty that the G20 could talk about when it comes to climate action. G20 countries are wasting US $88 billion a year just to help fossil fuel companies find new fossil fuel reserves, despite numerous warnings from scientists that we need to leave the fossil fuels we already know about in the ground.

With the new agreement between the US and China, now is the time for the G20 to commit to ending fossil fuel subsidies and taking steps towards real action on climate change. But unless Tony Abbott lets them talk about it, no commitments will be made.

Keep the pressure on Tony Abbott. Tell him to get out of the way of real progress.

——————–

And from the Canadian International Institute based in Winnipeg:

US-China Climate Commitment first step in road to phasing out coal and welcoming increased renewables says IISD

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WINNIPEG—14 November 2014—The U.S. and China’s joint climate commitment is a strong boost for the international process and should pave the way for a phasing out of the use of coal and increased use of renewable energies, according to the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD),

This important step comes directly after Ban Ki Moon’s successful New York Summit, and very early on the “Road to Paris 2015” and the international agreement expected there. But what does the announcement tell us about how the two countries will meet these commitments, and what steps might they and other countries take next?

“The Road to Paris will see countries pledging what they can deliver within their domestic political constraints,” said Peter Wooders, group leader of the Energy program at IISD. “This realism is a pragmatic first step and a change from the ‘top down’ commitment process which has largely stalled the UNFCCC, and which the U.S. could never ratify in any event, given division in Congress.”

IISD analysis notes that the U.S. and China have been able to make this commitment thanks to the common factor of coal, a major source of electricity generation in both countries. The “Shale Gas Revolution” in the U.S., its existing mix of power plants which allow ready switching between coal and natural gas, as well as the opportunity to import hydro power from Canadian provinces, give the U.S. the opportunity to significantly reduce projected emissions. In China, further increases in coal mining and supply are not the low-cost option they were once thought to be, and financial and environmental drivers – with the air quality of Beijing the most well-known issue – will reduce the reliance on coal.

“The use of coal has traditionally been under-priced, i.e. subsidized. Financially, the exploration, mining, transport and construction of coal plants has been supported around the world. Environmentally, we have not fully accounted for the air pollution and other costs,” said Wooders. “When these costs are taken into account – which they should be – renewable technologies and energy efficiency become much more attractive. But this is a major change to the business models around electricity generation, and will bring resistance from the potential losers and lobbying from the potential winners. The Chinese government in particular – as China does not currently have the scale of shale gas available to the U.S. – will need to support the energy transition through good policy.”

IISD’s work in China, and more broadly, focuses on some of the key tools needed:

the identification of subsidies to coal and renewable energy suppliers, allowing for a debate on their costs; the strong link between the government’s renewable commitments and the development of their renewable technology industries (“green industrial policy”); how the fiscal system can be made to work for sustainable development (“greening the financial system”); sustainable public procurement as an enabler of change; and the creation of low-carbon economic zones; the more general policy implementation support which comes from understanding who is impacted and how much, and how these impacts may be mitigated or the vested interests confronted.

The door is now open for renewables, and can be pushed wider.

And what of Canada? Its government has aligned its climate change policies – including overall targets – to that of the U.S. in the past. Both countries recently introduced regulations on coal-fired power generation, essentially banning new coal plant construction and – in the case of the U.S. – imposing constraints on existing plants. For Canada to follow the U.S. in terms of an overall target, however, it will have to find savings elsewhere. It – and other countries with relatively low coal generation – will need to move to reductions in oil and gas consumption and production now; they do not have the luxury of the one-off gain from the phase-out of coal.

For more information please contact Sumeep Bath, IISD media and communications officer, at  sbath at iisd.org or +1 (204) 958 7740.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 12th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

In effect – what Ms Napoleoni says is that the Islamic State uses globalization and aim at creating an original Muslim State that is for the Muslim world a parallel to what Israel is to World Jewry – albeit the first stage overlaps the borders of the Caliphate of Baghdad and will claim besides Iraq and Syria also Jordan , Lebanon, and Israel.
Now an ebook – The book will be available in printed form December 2nd, 2014.
 www.sevenstories.com/news/introdu…

Introduction to Loretta Napoleoni’s THE ISLAMIST PHOENIX.

September 8, 2014

The following is the introduction to The Islamist Phoenix, a study of ISIS by Loretta Napoleoni, one of the world’s leading experts on money laundering and the financing of terror. Islamist Phoenix will be available as an ebook in early November, and as a trade paperback on December 2nd.

For the first time since World War One, an armed organization is redesigning the map of the Middle East drawn by the French and the British. Waging a war of conquest, the Islamic State (IS), formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (al Sham), or ISIS, is erasing the borders that the Sykes-Picot Accord established in 1916. The region where the black and golden flag of IS flies already stretches from the Mediterranean shores of Syria well into the heart of Iraq, the Sunni tribal area. It is bigger than the United Kingdom or Texas and, since the end of June 2014, is known as the Islamic Caliphate. “Caliphate” is the name given to an Islamic state led by a supreme religious and political leader known as a caliph, or successor to the Prophet Muhammad – the most famous being the Ottoman Caliphate (or Empire), which began in 1453 and lasted until the dissolution of the Caliphate and expulsion of the last caliph, Abdulmecid, at the hands of Kemal Ataturk in 1924.

Many believe that the Islamic State, like al-Qaeda before it, wants to turn back the clock, and indeed in Western media Syrian and Iraqi refugees describe its rule in their countries as a sort of carbon copy of the Taliban regime. Posters forbid smoking and the use of cameras. Women are not allowed to travel without a male relative, must be covered up, and cannot wear trousers in public. The Islamic State seems also engaged in a sort of religious cleansing through proselytism: people must either join its creed, radical Salafism; flee; or face execution.
Al-Baghdadi

Paradoxically, to deem the IS essentially backward would be mistaken. Indeed, during the last few years the belief that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the group’s leader and the new Caliph, is a clone of Mullah Omar may well have led Western intelligence to undervalue him and his organization’s strength. While the world of the Taliban was limited to Koranic schools and knowledge based upon the writings of the Prophet, globalization and modern technology have been the cradle of the Islamic State.

What distinguishes the Islamic State from all other armed groups that predate it, including those active during the Cold War, and what accounts for its enormous successes, is its modernity and pragmatism. So far its leadership has understood the limitations that contemporary powers face in a globalized and multipolar world – for example, the inability to reach an agreement for foreign intervention in Syria, as happened in Libya and Iraq. Against this backdrop the Islamic State’s leadership has successfully exploited the Syrian conflict, the most recent version of the traditional war by proxy, to its own advantage almost unobserved, drawing funds from a variety of people: Kuwaitis, Qataris, Saudis, who, seeking a regime change in Syria, have been willing to bankroll several armed groups. However, instead of fighting the sponsors’ war by proxy, the Islamic State has used their money to establish its own territorial strongholds in financially strategic regions, for example in the rich oilfields of Eastern Syria. No previous Middle Eastern armed organization has been able to promote itself as the region’s new ruler with the money of its rich Gulf sponsors.

In sharp contrast with the Taliban’s rhetoric and despite the barbarous treatment of the enemy, the Islamic State is spreading a positive and powerful political message in the Muslim world: the return of the Caliphate associated with happier and richer times for Muslims. This message comes at a time of great destabilization in the Middle East, while Syria and Iraq are ablaze, Libya is on the verge of another tribal conflict, Egypt is restive, and Israel has been once again at war with Gaza. Hence, the rebirth of the Caliphate and of its Caliph, al-Baghdadi, appears to many Sunnis not as yet another armed group but somehow as a political entity that is rising from the ashes of decades of war and destruction.

The fact that this Islamist Phoenix materialized on the first day of Ramadan 2014, the holy month of fasting and prayer, should be regarded as a powerful omen of the challenge that the Islamic State poses to the legitimacy of all the 57 countries that follow the Islamic faith. As clearly stated by its spokesman, Abu Mohamed al-Adnani: “the legality of all emirates, groups, states and organizations becomes null by the expansion of the Caliph’s authority and the arrival of his troops to their areas.” This is a challenge posed by a new political organization that, while claiming to trace its legitimacy all the way back to 7th-8th century Arabia and the first territorial manifestations of Islam, comprises a contemporary state and commands a modern army. As such it should not be underestimated, especially if the Islamic State consolidates its territorial conquests.

That the threat is real, and that it is particularly felt by those who share a border with Syria and Iraq, are facts: in July, 2014 the black and golden flag of the Islamic State appeared in Jordanian villages, and in August thousands of IS militants streamed into Lebanon from Syria and took Arsal. Even former sponsors fear the military power of the Caliphate: at the beginning of July, al-Arabiya broadcast that Saudi Arabia had deployed 30,000 soldiers to its border with Iraq after Iraqi soldiers withdrew from the area.

Under the religious veneer and the terrorist tactics, therefore, lays a political and military machine fully engaged in nation-building, seeking consensus after territorial conquest. Residents of the enclaves controlled by the Caliphate affirm that its arrival coincided with improvements in the day-to-day running of their villages, from fixing holes in the roads to organizing soup kitchens for those who had lost their homes to the daylong availability of electricty.

_76526461_iraq_syria_isis_caliphate_25.07.14_624mapWhile territorially the Islamic State’s master plan is to recreate the ancient Caliphate of Baghdad — an entity that the Mongols destroyed in 1261 and that stretched from the Iraqi capital all the way into modern Israel — its political goal seems to be the shaping of a twenty-first century incarnation. In his first speech as Caliph, al-Baghdadi pledged to return to Muslims the “dignity, might, rights, and leadership” of the past, and at the same time called for doctors, engineers, judges, and experts in Islamic jurisprudence to join him. As he spoke, a team of translators across the world worked almost in real time to release the text of his speech on jihadist websites, facebook and twitter accounts in several languages including English, French, and German.

The Islamic State wants to be for Muslims what Israel is for Jews, a state in their ancient land that they have reclaimed in modern times, a religious and powerful state that protects them wherever they are, something to be proud of. This is a potent message for the disenfranchised Muslim youth who live in the political vacuum created by disturbing factors, such as the corruption and inefficacy of the Free Syrian and Iraqi Army, the Maliki government’s refusal to integrate Sunnis into the fabric of political life, the absence of proper socio-economic infrastructures destroyed during the war, and a high rate of unemployment. It is a powerful message also for those living abroad, the disenfranchised Muslim youth of Europe. No other armed organization has shown such insight and political intuition into the domestic politics of the Middle East and Muslim immigrants’ frustration all over the world, and no other armed organization has adapted to contingent factors, such as the provision of basic socio-economic infrastructures in the territory it controls to succeed at nation-building.

Its leadership has also studied the tactical and structural mistakes of past armed groups as well as their successes, and has put these lessons into a modern context. Like the European armed organizations of the 1960s and 1970s, the Islamic State understands the power of propaganda, of fear at home and abroad, and has been skilfully used social media to propagate sleek videos and images of its barbarous actions. Fear is a much more powerful weapon of conquest than religious lectures, something that al-Qaeda has never understood. Equally, the Islamic State knows that the 24-hour media seeks ever more brutal images, because in a world overloaded with information, extreme violence sells the news: thus the plentiful supply of photos and videos of brutal punishments and tortures uploaded in formats that can be easily watched on mobile phones. Shockingly, in a voyeuristic society, sadism, when appealingly packaged, becomes a major attraction.

The Islamic State has closely analysed the propaganda machine that the US and UK administration employed to justify the preventive strike in Iraq in 2003, in particular the creation of the myth of al Zarqawi which US Secretary of State Colin Powell used on in his speech to the UN Security Council on February 5, 2003 to justify the invasion of Iraq. Thanks to an extensive and highly professional use of social media, the Islamic State has propagated equally false mythologies to proselytize, recruit, and raise funds across the Muslim world.

Crucial for the successes of this strategy have been the secrecy and mythology carefully woven around the Islamic State’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Bagdhadi. Again, in a world overloaded with information, mystery plays a major role in stimulating the collective imagination. The less people know, the more they want to know, and the more they imagine. Give people a few clips and they will complete the picture as they like it. Islam is premised on a certain nostalgia rooted in the return of the Prophet, while the West still fears Islam. Hence the IS is leading Muslims to believe that the Prophet has returned wearing the clothes of al-Baghdadi and at the same time it terrorizes Westerners with shockingly barbarous killings. Modern advertising has constructed a trillion-dollar industry atop these simple concepts. Now the Islamic State propaganda machine is using them to manufacture the myth of al-Baghdadi and his new Caliphate. What’s surprising is our surprise.

Finally, unlike al-Qaeda, the Islamic State is showing pragmatism. It seems to understand that, in the twenty-first century, new nations cannot be built and held together with terror and violence alone. To blossom, they require popular consensus. Hence the IS uses violence and Sharia law together with propaganda distributed over social media and a variety of popular social programmes aimed at improving the living conditions of the Sunni population trapped inside the Caliphate.

If this strategy succeeds, the world will be forced to turn a new leaf in the history of terrorism and nation-building, because the Islamic State will have provided a workable solution to the dilemma of terrorism. This, in a nutshell, is the true challenge that any armed organization poses to the modern state: whether to consider acts of terrorism as a threat to national security or to law and order. This dilemma springs from the ambiguous nature of terrorism: it has military aims – for example, among the goals of the Islamic State are freeing the territories of the old Caliphate of Baghdad from the tyrannical rule of the Shiites and the annexation of Jordan and Israel to recreate its ancient borders – but it employs criminal and barbarous methods like suicide bombings, the crucifixion of its opponents, and the beheading of hostages. Terrorism, therefore, could be defined as a crime with the aims of war. This ambiguity has allowed states to deny members of armed organizations the status of soldiers and enemies, relegating them to the ranks of outlaws even while using armies against them.

If the Islamic State succeeds in building a modern state, one that the world will not be able to ignore, using terrorism to gain territorial control and social and political reforms to secure internal popular consensus, it will prove what all armed organizations have affirmed: that they are not terrorists but enemies engaged in an asymmetrical war to overthrow illegitimate, tyrannical, and corrupted regimes. No matter how barbarous their actions are or have been, their status as threats to national security, as warriors, will be beyond doubt.

As the Islamic State’s war of conquest progresses, it is becoming clear that since 9/11 the business of Islamist terrorism has been getting stronger instead of weaker — to the extent that now it has morphed into a state — by simply keeping abreast with a fast-changing world in which propaganda and technology play an increasingly vital role. The same cannot be said for the forces engaged in stopping it from spreading.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 9th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

As GOP Swept Congress, Black Republicans Took Home Historic Wins.
reported by Hansi Lo Wang for CodeSwitch blog of NPR.com – November 08, 2014

The Republican Party made historic gains during this week’s midterm elections. Among their victories were three wins by black Republicans, who seem to be building momentum for diversifying the GOP ranks.

Mia Love — who is Mormon and Haitian-American — is one of those three, and Republicans in Utah’s 4th District will be sending her to Congress next year.

“Many of the naysayers out there said that Utah would never elect a black, Republican, LDS woman to Congress,” Love told a crowd on Tuesday. “And guess what? Not only did we do it, we were the first to do it!”

Another big winner was Tim Scott, who was appointed to the Senate in 2012, but won a full term in his own right on Tuesday. He’s now South Carolina’s first elected black senator, and the South’s first since Reconstruction.
Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. greets supporters after winning his Senate race over challengers Jill Bossi and Joyce Dickerson on Tuesday.

Texas also celebrated a historic win in Will Hurd, a former CIA officer who is the first black Republican from Texas ever to win a U.S. Congressional seat.

“It’s a start,” says Michael Steele, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee. “And yeah, I want more. You know, I want to get to the point where it’s not notable.”

Steele, the first black chairman of the RNC, is notable himself. He says these rising stars will follow the lead of former representatives Allen West and J.C. Watts, who, like other black Republicans, faced suspicion from many black voters.

“You still have to deal with the stereotype that somehow if you’re a black Republican, you’re not a real black person,” he says.

But Steele adds there are also legitimate questions about his party’s commitment to racial diversity.

“White folks get excited when they see, ‘Oh, got a black candidate running for office!’ ” he says. “OK, that’s great. But what are you doing to get them elected? It’s not just enough to have the face on the ballot.”
With his outspoken conservative views, Dr. Ben Carson is a hit among Republicans. He spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference last week.
Code Switch
Black GOP Stars Rise In A Party That’s Still Awkwardly White

Amy Holmes, a former speech writer for Republican Sen. Bill Frist and an anchor on the TheBlaze.com, says this newly-elected group represents an important part of the post-Obama era of politics.

“I think President Obama’s election in 2008 inspired a lot of African-American politicians, including on the right,” Holmes says.

Holmes points out these candidates also succeeded in places where black voters did not make up the majority.

“The old conventional wisdom has been that an African-American politician has to run from a majority African-American district,” she says. “Well, these three candidates prove that’s not true.”
Barry Goldwater greets an Indianapolis crowd during a campaign tour in Oct. 1964.

Why Did Black Voters Flee The Republican Party In The 1960s?

But the relationship between the GOP and black voters has to change as U.S. racial demographics continue to shift, according to Lenny McAllister, a former Republican candidate for Congress and the host of The McAllister Minute on the American Urban Radio Network.

Early exit polls show almost 90 percent of black voters supported Democrats on Tuesday, and McAllister says that allegiance to the Democratic Party diminishes black political power.

“We cannot continue to only access half of the political process,” McAllister says. “We need Republicans and Democrats being actively and efficiently responsive to our needs.”
Darius Foster says he wants to challenge racial and political expectations. “With me, unfortunately, everything is black Republican. Not Darius did this, but the black Republican did that.” Politics Alabama’s Darius Foster Wants To Bring Back ‘Fight For The People’ GOP

McAllister admits it will take more than these three winners for Republicans to earn the trust of black voters. But he says we shouldn’t forget how a young senator from Illinois beat the odds to become America’s first black president.

“The impossible happens in America, and if we’re going to open up the doors to what’s possible for more Americans, we have to take on this fight now,” he says.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 9th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

ON THIS DAY The New York Times reminds us in its only notion: On Nov. 9, 1965, the great Northeast blackout occurred as several states and parts of Canada were hit by a series of power failures lasting up to 13 1/2 hours.

Also, Nov. 9, 1989 – the Fall of the Berlin Wall – After 28 years, East Berliners were giddy with marvel that they could now visit the West. This rated today an article in The World Section of the New York Times – under title “On Berlin Wall Anniversary, Somber Notes Amid Revelry.” Also a link to a video: Video Video: Berlin’s Wall of Light
To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, artists created a border of lights. Related Article

But then there was another event – and this one did not rate an article by The New York Times – Nov.9. 1938 – the infamous exercise in terror that would be called “Kristallnacht,” or “the Night of Broken Glass,” because of the cost of broken glass in looted Jewish shops—$5 million marks ($1,250,000). This was when Synagogues were burned and some Jews killed – the beginning of the Holocaust Germans and Austrians imposed on Europe’s Jewry.

In Heydrich’s report to Hermann Goering after Kristallnacht, the damage was assessed: “…815 shops destroyed, 171 dwelling houses set on fire or destroyed… 119 synagogues were set on fire, and another 76 completely destroyed… 20,000 Jews were arrested, 36 deaths were reported and those seriously injured were also numbered at 36…”

The extent of the destruction was actually greater than reported. Later estimates were that as many as 7,500 Jewish shops were looted, and there were several incidents of rape. This, in the twisted ideology of Nazism, was worse than murder, because the racial laws forbade intercourse between Jews and gentiles. The rapists were expelled from the Nazi Party and handed over to the police for prosecution. And those who killed Jews? They “cannot be punished,” according to authorities, because they were merely following orders.

To add insult to massive injury, those Jews who survived the monstrous pogrom were forced to pay for the damage inflicted upon them. Insurance firms teetered on the verge of bankruptcy because of the claims. Hermann Goering came up with a solution: Insurance money due the victims was to be confiscated by the state, and part of the money would revert back to the insurance companies to keep them afloat.

The reaction around the world was one of revulsion at the barbarism into which Germany was sinking. As far as Hitler was concerned, this only proved the extent of the “Jewish world conspiracy.”

In effect one can say that the Kristallnacht and the Austrian “Anschluss” (Mar 12, 1938 when German troops marched into a willing Austria) set in motion the Hitler’s campaign to impose Germany on Europe.

Yes, the German lost WWII and a US/British/French/Soviet Peace was imposed over Europe. Germany’s occupation by the four “Victors” was a division into four Sectors and it ended up as two divided states – the former US, British, and French Sectors turned into West Germany, the former Soviet Sector into East Germany.

The Fall of the Berlin Wall – a development started by a Hungarian Government that was ready to help East Germans escape, at a time that a Soviet Government under President Mikhail Gorbachev did not think it was worth opposing it, helped reunite Germany and make possible a renewal of German strength. Germany became a motor for the unification of Europe and eventually history will show that what the Germans could not achieve by going to war against Europe – they did eventually achieve since the the Fall of the dividing Berlin Wall and the creation of the EU. But does this allow others to forget the Holocaust? Strangely, it seems today that Germany and Austria are not afraid of recognizing their people’s past savagery, it is the American media that does not see the way those historical events connect.

—————————————————–

We pick some other historical events that occurred on November 9th – our choice was so that we looked to some relevance to above mentioned three events. The list we found had 173 listings.

Historical Events on 9th November


694 – Spanish King Egica accuses Jews of aiding Moslems/sentenced to slavery

1282 – Pope Martinus IV excommunicates king Pedro III of Aragonorth
1313 – Louis the Bavarian defeats his cousin Frederick I of Austria at the Battle of Gamelsdorf.
1330 – Battle of Posada, Wallachian Voievode Basarab I defeats the Hungarian army in an ambush
1492 – Peace of Etaples (Henry VII of England & Charles VIII of France)
1494 – Family de’ Medici become rulers of Florence
1526 – Jews are expelled from Pressburg (Bratislava), Hungary, by Maria of Hapsburg

1620 – After a month of delays off the English coast and about two months at sea, the Mayflower spots land (Cape Cod)

1681 – Hungarian parliament promises protestants freedom of religion
1720 – Rabbi Yehuda Hasid synagogue set afire
1794 – Russian troops occupy Warsaw
1799 – Napoleon Bonaparte becomes dictator (1st consul) of France
1821 – French Emperor Napoléon BonaparteFrench Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte 1842
1848 – Robert Blum, a German revolutionary and MP (Liberal), is executed in Vienna.
1851 – Kentucky marshals abduct abolitionist minister Calvin Fairbank from Jeffersonville, Indiana, and take him to Kentucky to stand trial for helping a slave escape.
1857 – Atlantic Monthly magazine 1st published
1862 – US General Ulysses S. Grant issues orders to bar Jews from serving under him

1888 – US President & Union General Ulysses S. GrantUS President & Union General Ulysses S. Grant 1900 – China has resumed nominal control of Manchuria, but in a secret agreement the Chinese governor of Manchuria grants Russia such rights as keeping troops along the railroad lines and controlling civil administration
1906 – Theodore Roosevelt is 1st US President to visit other countries (Puerto Rico and Panama)
26th US President Theodore Roosevelt26th US President Theodore Roosevelt 1912
1914 – Off Cocos Island, near Sumatra, the Australian cruiser ‘Sydney’ sinks German cruiser ‘Emden’, which has been attacking ships in the Pacific
1915 – Italian liner Ancona sinks by German torpedos, killing 272
1918 – Bavaria proclaims itself a republic
1918 – Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicates after German defeat in WW I
1918 – Republic Germany proclaimed
1921 – Partito Nazionalista Fascista, forms in Italy by Mussolini

1922 – Dictator of Nazi Germany Adolf Hitler 1923 – Beer Hall Putsch-Nazis fail to overthrow government, 16 die/Hitler flees
1925 – German NSDAP form Schutzstaffel (SS)
1932 – Riots between conservative and socialist supporters in Switzerland kill 12 and injure 60.
1937 – Japanese army conquers Shanghai
1938 – Kristallnacht, Nazi Germany’s first large-scale physical act of anti-Jewish violence, begins.

1939 – “Ninotchka,” with Greta Garbo premieres
1939 – Nobel for physics awarded to Ernest O Lawrence (cyclotron)
1942 – German occupiers put Erik Scavenius as Danish premier
1942 – Transport number 44 departs with French Jews to Nazi-Germany

1944 – Red Cross wins Nobel peace prize – 33rd US President Harry Truman 1950
1953 – Cambodia (aka Kampuchea) gains independence from Fance, within the French Union
1955 – UN disapproves of South Africa’s apartheid politics
1961 – PGA eliminates caucasians only rule
1961 – Paddy Chayefsky’s “Gideon,” premieres in NYC
1962 – US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site
1963 – “Tovarich” closes at Broadway Theater NYC after 264 performances
1965 – Hurricane hits north east US/Canada
1965 – Several U.S. states and parts of Canada are hit by a series of blackouts lasting up to 13 hours in the Northeast Blackout of 1965.
1966 – John Lennon meets Yoko Ono at an avante-garde art exposition at Indica Gallery in London
1966 – “Let’s Sing Yiddish” opens at Brooks Atkinson NYC for 107 perfs
1967 – Surveyor 6 soft lands on Moon
1967 – The unmanned Saturn V rocket is launched on its first successful test flight into Earth orbit – USSR performs nuclear test at Eastern Kazakh/Semipalitinsk USSR
1970 – Trial of Seattle 8 anti-war protesters begins
1972 – US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site – Beatles Drummer Ringo StarrBeatles Drummer Ringo Starr 1973 – Ringo Starr releases “Ringo” album
1976 – UN General Assembly condemns apartheid in South Africa

1980 – Iraqi President Saddam Hussein declares holy war against Iran
1983 – Discovery flies from Vandenberg AFB to Kennedy Space Center
Iraqi President Saddam HusseinIraqi President Saddam Hussein 1984 – )
1989 – East Berlin opens its borders
1998 – Brokerage houses are ordered to pay 1.03 billion USD to cheated NASDAQ investors to compensate for their price-fixing. This is the largest civil settlement in United States history.
2003 – A suicide-terrorist attack in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, kills 17 people.
2012 – 25 people are killed and 62 injured after a train carrying liquid fuel bursts into flames in Burma
2013 – María Gabriela Isler, a 25yo Venezuelan, is crowned Miss Universe 2013 – Isler visited Austria to help crown the winners of Miss Austria on July 3, 2014 – she probably is a descendant of a Jewish refugee who escaped the NAZI world.
Her complete name is María Gabriela de Jesús Isler Morales

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 9th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Obama’s Last Chance

By Robert Parry, Consortium News

07 November 14

he Democrats clearly deserved to lose on Tuesday, though the Republicans may not have deserved to win. Indeed, there was almost a yin-yang quality to the Democratic rout/Republican victory in which the Democrats played into almost all the Republican themes, making the outcome feel inevitable.

Most notably, President Barack Obama and the Democrats shelved all the “contentious” issues that might have rallied their “base” to turn out and vote. Immigration reform was put on hold; release of the Senate report on “torture” was postponed; what to do about “global warming” was ignored; the argument about the value of activist government was silenced; etc., etc., etc.

On a personal level, supposedly polarizing “liberal” candidates, such as actor Ashley Judd in Kentucky, were pushed aside in favor of supposedly more “electable” candidates, like Alison Lundergan Grimes. Unwilling to say whether she had voted for President Obama in 2012, Grimes managed to win only 41 percent of the vote against the perennially unpopular Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Obama himself was virtually sidelined from many races in what was an implicit Democratic admission of the Republican theme that Obama was a failure and that he deserved an electoral repudiation. The smell of fear pervaded the Democratic ranks – and panic is not the most inspiring of emotions.

In some states, the Democrats seemed enamored with what might be called the “nepotism strategy,” counting on the “magic” of political names and family connections to somehow overcome their lack of message and their image of timidity: Pryor in Arkansas, Grimes in Kentucky, Nunn in Georgia – all went down to decisive defeat.

In the bigger picture, the Democratic failure seems part and parcel with the broader weakness of progressivism in the United States. The Right continues to dominate in areas of media and messaging, investing billions upon billions of dollars in a vertically integrated media apparatus, from the older technologies of print, radio and TV to the newer ones around the Internet. The Right also has layers upon layers of think tanks and other propaganda outlets.

By comparison, the Left has never made anything close to a comparable investment. And, even the ostensibly “liberal” network MSNBC and the purportedly “liberal” New York Times fall into line behind neoconservative foreign policy initiatives at nearly every turn, such as the “regime change” campaigns in Syria, Iran and Ukraine. So, too, do many of the supposedly “liberal” think tanks, such as the Brookings Institution and the New America Foundation.

Indeed, a remarkable reality about U.S. policy circles is that six years after the end of George W. Bush’s disastrous neocon-dominated presidency, the neocons continue to dominate America’s foreign policy thinking, albeit sometimes rebranded as “liberal interventionism.”

A ‘Closet Realist’

Though President Obama may be something of a “closet realist” – hoping to work quietly with foreign adversaries to resolve international crises – he has never taken firm control over his own foreign policy.

Obama apparently thought that neocon holdovers from the Bush years, like Gen. David Petraeus or Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, and Democratic neocons, such as his first Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, would somehow drop their ideological certitudes and cooperate with his approach.

Instead, the neocons and their “liberal interventionist” allies burrowed deep into the foreign policy bureaucracy and pop up periodically to press for their war-mongering agendas. A distracted President Obama always seems outmaneuvered – from the 2009 Afghan “surge,” to the 2010 stand-off over Iran’s nuclear program, to the 2011 civil wars in Libya and Syria, to the 2014 Ukrainian coup d’etat.

Arriving late at each new crisis, Obama usually signs off on what the neocons want, although he intermittently pushes for his “realist” approach, such as collaborating with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in avoiding a U.S. war on Syria in 2013 and negotiating a peaceful settlement to Iran’s nuclear program, which could be completed in 2014 if Obama doesn’t lose his nerve.

The big question now is whether the Democrats’ humiliating defeat on Nov. 4 will teach Obama and the party any meaningful lessons – or will the Democrats just kid themselves into thinking that “demographics” will save them or that they will prevail in 2016 by avoiding controversial stands and putting up another famous “name,” in Hillary Clinton.

Will Obama finally realize that he has to revert back to his inspiring messages of 2008 on issues such as his promise of government transparency? For the past six years, transparency has worked only one way: the government gets to look into the secrets of citizens while the citizens have no right to know about the government’s secrets.

There is a fundamental disconnect between this image of an intrusive federal government spying on everyone and the progressive concept that an active federal government is necessary to address fundamental problems facing the American people and the world, such as what to do about global warming, income inequality, corporate power, racial injustice, etc.

What I’m hearing from many young progressives is that they are so resentful of government intrusions into their lives that they are veering more toward libertarianism, even though it offers no solutions to most environmental, economic and social problems. If Obama hopes to stanch this flow of progressive youth to the right, he needs to finally recognize that the people need transparency on the government and the government must learn to trust the people.

An obvious first step would be to override CIA objections and release the report on torture during the Bush years. And while Obama is at it, he should make public the secret pages from the 9/11 report relating to Saudi funding for al-Qaeda terrorists.

I’m also told that Obama has information that contradicts his administration’s early claims blaming the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin gas attack on the Syrian government and faulting Russia for the July 17, 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine. Those two incidents fueled dangerous international confrontations – with the United States nearly going to war against the Syrian government in 2013 and starting a new Cold War with Russia in 2014.

If Obama has U.S. intelligence information that points the finger of blame in different directions, he should correct the impressions left by Secretary of State John Kerry and other U.S. officials. The neocons won’t like that – and some “liberal interventionists” may have egg on their faces, too – but misleading propaganda has no place in a democracy. False information must be removed as quickly as possible.

Similarly, Obama should commit his administration to expediting release of historical secrets. Currently, it takes many years, even decades, to pry loose embarrassing “secrets” from the U.S. government, often allowing false historical narratives to take hold or creating a hot house for conspiracy theories. It’s way past time for the U.S. government to give the American people their history back.

By releasing as much information as possible about important topics, Obama could finally begin to win back the people’s trust, not just in him but in the government. Nothing is as corrosive to democratic governance as a belief by the people that the government doesn’t trust them – and that they, in turn, have no reason to trust the government.

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Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, Democracy Now!
Excerpt: “How did the bank avoid prosecution for committing fraud that helped cause the 2008 financial crisis? Today we speak to JPMorgan Chase whistleblower Alayne Fleischmann in her first televised interview discussing how she witnessed ‘massive criminal securities fraud’ in the bank’s mortgage operations.”
READ MORE

Ralph Nader | Democrats Not Knowing What They Stand For – Lose
Ralph Nader, The Nader Page
Nader writes: “Did the Republicans win these mid-term elections? Or did the Democrats lose? The numbers show that in contested Senate races, where the Republicans picked up seven seats and will probably gain two more to take control of the Senate, voters did not support those Democrats who were the most wishy-washy.”
READ MORE

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

From: EESI – the Environmental and Energy Study Institute

1112 16th Street, NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20036-4819


Possible Actions on Renewable Energy & Fuels in the 114th Congress.

November 7, 2014

On October 5, with Republicans declaring a major victory in the Senate, the game of musical chairs for Committee leadership has already begun. Meanwhile, de facto Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker Boehner (R-OH), released statements that hint at their agenda for the 114th Congress. In reading the tea leaves, what might be expected from this Congress with regard to renewable energy, particularly biofuels? While there may not be the super majority needed to block a filibuster or overcome a Presidential veto on bills that would negatively impact renewable energy – renewable fuels may not fare so well in the upcoming Congress.

With their sights already set on the 2016 election, Boehner and McConnell are vowing to end the ‘grid lock’ and “put as much legislation on the President’s desk as possible in the next two years, starting with many bills which passed [the House] with bipartisan support—only to gather dust in a Democratic-controlled Senate that kept them from ever reaching the president’s desk.” Not surprisingly, McConnell and Boehner’s agenda includes voting on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. While not specifically mentioned in early comments from leadership, it is likely that several bipartisan energy issues will be raised again, including the renewable tax credits and the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill. It is also likely that the oil export ban, the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, and other proposed regulations and expansions of oil and gas drilling on federal lands will receive attention in the new Congress.

Within the renewable fuels industry, leaders were cautiously optimistic regarding the outcome of the election, reiterating that biofuels have historically enjoyed bipartisan support. In addition to being supported during a democratically controlled Congress, biofuels were included in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush. Renewable fuels did enjoy support on the campaign trail from both parties, particularly in the Midwest. Brian Jennings, executive vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol, expressed caution, stating, “Now is the time we have to hold newly-elected officials accountable for the promises made on the campaign trail.” And while for the most part Midwestern Senators state they are strongly in support of biofuels, it is less clear in other states with competing interests. In states with strong ties to the oil and gas industry, and ‘big food,’ making the case for biofuels has been more difficult, despite rising corn crop yields, falling corn prices, and advancements in renewable fuels.

Committee chairs wield considerable power in their ability to get legislation to the floor. Sen. Boxer (D-CA), chair of Environment and Public Works (EPW), has been a staunch supporter of renewable energy and the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). Just last month, she sent a letter in support of the RFS to Obama in October, along with Sen. Markey (D-MA). In the new Congress, Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) will most likely assume chairmanship of EPW, which oversees the EPA. Senator Inhofe has been a vigorous climate denier and a vocal opponent to the EPA’s regulation of the energy industry.

In early 2014, Inhofe expressed interest in repealing the RFS, and instead focus on expansion of domestic oil and gas drilling. Inhofe wrote that the RFS should be repealed, “allow[ing] ethanol and other biofuels to compete on a level playing field with all other transportation fuels”— a common refrain of renewable energy foes. Ironically, Inhofe makes no mention of the $4.8 billion in taxpayer funded subsidies to the oil and gas industry each year. But it is clear, without the support of the EPW Chairman, challenges to the RFS will be brought forward. In looking over previous anti-RFS legislation from the 113th Congress, a few patterns emerge. It is likely that efforts to modify the RFS could include capping ethanol at ten percent of fuel volumes, blocking or hindering mid-level blends, and possibly cuts to corn ethanol from the mandate. And while many environmentalists would like to see the focus shift solely to advanced fuels, such as those sourced from agricultural or other wastes, corn ethanol has provided the marketplace for the nascent advanced fuels categories. Indeed, many cellulosic plants coming online today are bolt-on technologies to existing corn ethanol facilities. Therefore, these two industries’ fates are intrinsically tied together and are both important to the future of biofuel and biobased products and our ability to move away from oil dependency.

What remains to be seen is if any of these bills could achieve the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster and make it to a vote on the Senate floor. Hopefully, it will not come to that point; the importance of support beyond the ‘corn belt’ cannot be ignored. The industry itself has already had ‘1000 cuts’; distribution has been severely limited by infrastructure issues created by the oil and gas industry; public perception issues still loom large, and a long-delayed 2014 renewable volume obligates (RVOs) has chilled industry investments in new technologies and feedstocks. The result is an industry that is increasingly looking abroad for investor certainty, as China, South America and Europe still remain bullish on renewable fuels. Therefore, it would be unwise for the industry to rely on historic support. Instead, the case needs to be made as to why ethanol and other biofuels are important to every district and state, by lowering prices at the pump, reducing reliance on oil, creating jobs and a globally competitive industry, and lowering exposure to toxic tailpipe emissions.

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For more information see:

Energy Policy Seen Ripe for Compromise in GOP Congress, Bloomberg

Will Ethanol Ride the GOP Wave?, Agriculture.com

Sen. Inhofe, denier of human role in climate change, likely to lead environment committee, The Washington Post

Congress Should Repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard, Washington Times

Contact at EESI:

Jessie Stolark
 jstolark at eesi.org

Newsletters:

EESI Update
Climate Change News (CCN)
Sustainable Bioenergy, Farms, and Forests (SBFF)

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


In an unprecedented move, a Saudi advisory council says it approves of lifting a ban on female drivers. The Shura Council proposes that certain restrictions be applied, however: Women must be at least 30, have permission from their male guardian, not wear makeup and drive only in daylight hours, The Associated Press reports.


For years, the kingdom has refused to review the ban on female drivers, which is unique to Saudi Arabia, where conservative Muslim clerics have expressed concerns that female drivers could spread “licentiousness.”

The AP reports:

“The Shura Council’s recommendations are not obligatory on the government. But simply making the recommendation was a startling shift after years of the kingdom’s staunchly rejecting any review of the ban.

“The council member told The Associated Press that the Shura Council made the recommendations in a secret, closed session held in the past month. The member spoke on condition of anonymity because the recommendations had not been made public.”

As The Two-Way’s Bill Chappell reported last year, there have been a number of bold protests against the ban, with Saudi women getting behind the wheel for a day. Thousands have signed online protests against the ban. The October 2013 protest highlighted by Bill was the third of its kind since 1990.

The AP says that the Shura Council recommended that women 30 and older be allowed to drive until 8 p.m. each day if they have permission from a male guardian. They would be allowed to drive from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday through Wednesday and noon to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, the Muslim weekend.

The council is also recommending a “female traffic department” made up of female officers to deal with female drivers, the AP says.

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

QUOTATION OF THE DAY:
“It doesn’t make me mopey. It energizes me, because it means that this democracy’s working.”
PRESIDENT OBAMA, on his party’s sweeping midterm losses.

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President Obama’s problems were in part caused by Senate Democrats who catered to demands from interests that claimed to speak for the people rather then backing foresight that was presented by the White House. Many of such Senators lost anyway and in their last two months in Congress are now free to vote their conscience having been freed from politics.
The Conservative winners see the danger looming now as a cloud of truth they say is manned by ZOMBIES.

For whatever this is worth – we post here the thoughts of Heritage Foundation’s President – former Congressional leader Jim DeMint – while eager to see what President Obama still manages to achieve during this interim two months of a “Zombie Congress” – the time he is facing a still a nominal Democrat Senate – at least by name. The following two years, with the fiction of a Democrat Senate out of the way – President Obama will be forced to govern by rulings from the White House and vetoes of Congressional legislation that he will not be ready to accept. We are thus optimists and say that the time of Gridlock will be over – a new era of compromise or clear confrontation is looming for these two years.

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Commentary By Jim DeMint
Washington’s Conservative Heritage Foundation President

With the midterm elections just behind us, Americans might think they can finally stop worrying about politics for a while. Not so fast! Now is when they need to be more vigilant than ever.

Although dozens of politicians were replaced with fresh faces on Election Day, the losers don’t have to vacate their offices for two months. That means they can keep on voting in a “lame duck” session of Congress.

While “lame duck” is the standard parlance in D.C., I prefer the more colorful term “Zombie Congress,” popularized in recent years by George Will and others. It more aptly conveys the peril of the situation. Zombie legislators are those unhappy senators and representatives who have been voted out of office, yet still stagger dutifully back to Washington for a month or so before Christmas break. ‘Tis the season when they are most dangerous.

Unlike their B-movie counterparts, these zombies don’t seek brains, though they could probably use some. With no electorate to appease, the newly politically “deceased” members have no incentive to restrain their more base urges to feast upon the hard-earned tax dollars of the living.
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Unfortunately, lame duck sessions have become more common in recent years and have been used to rush through liberal policies while most Americans are focused on the holidays. Obamacare was rammed through the Senate on Christmas Eve in 2009. Other lame ducks were used to pass bailouts, debt limit increases, big spending bills, special-interest tax breaks and even an ill-advised arms treaty with Russia.

Lame duck lawmakers could use this year’s post-election session to push through a costly omnibus spending bill … with total impunity. Those who want to further burden Americans by taxing their Internet purchases also are contemplating the chance to ram through the misleadingly titled “Marketplace Fairness Act.” The “fairness” here means you send more money to the government!

It’s not just a matter of electoral death and taxes, either. All sorts of controversial issues and massive bills could be brought up when We the People think it’s safe to turn our attention away from Washington and enjoy family, fall and football. Harry Reid has been clear in his desire to preserve corporate welfare for big “green” energy companies by tying it to good “must pass” tax provisions, instead of waiting until next year to consider them separately.

In the past two lame duck sessions of Congress, ill-advised treaties have arisen, such as the United Nations Disabilities Treaty, which violates American sovereignty in helping its citizens who need care. If the disability treaty rises from the dead this session, it would impose foreign educational and social agendas upon our country regardless of the will of the people.

Not all hazards arise from the legislative branch: President Obama has threatened to implement additional unilateral amnesty for illegal immigrants after the election. He already has “lit the beacon” of amnesty for further incoming waves under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and has hinted at expanding it to millions more who have entered the country illegally. A Congress where the balance of power is determined by folks with nothing to lose lacks incentive to stand up to the president’s executive overreach or work with him for a sane alternative to the border crisis.

Tackling these challenges will take time, deliberation and, most importantly, a legislative body which actually represents Americans and has a stake in the outcome. That’s not the kind of body you have in a Zombie Congress.

As of last night, the nation has spoken, giving a new generation of leaders the mandate to govern on popular conservative priorities such as school choice, increased energy production and more jobs. But the losers could still affect national policy even after the voters have made their wishes clear.

Harry Reid and John Boehner should insist the zombies shuffle homeward without hurting the country and begin the transition to real life as soon as possible. Americans don’t need divisive, expensive legislation forced on them in a lame duck session by senators and representatives they’ve already fired. We have big challenges to face as a nation, and we’ll face them best with a Congress that better reflects the will of the people. And it can all wait until January!

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Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint rose from modest South Carolina roots and a career in marketing to build and lead a resurgent conservative movement.

Jim DeMint @JimDeMint

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 5th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The White House, Washington

Yesterday, millions of Americans cast their ballots. Republicans had a good night, and I congratulate all the candidates who won.

But what stands out to me is that the message Americans sent yesterday is one you’ve sent for several elections in a row now. You expect the people you elect to work as hard as you do. You expect us to focus on your ambitions — not ours — and you want us to get the job done. Period.

I plan on spending every moment of the next two years rolling up my sleeves and working as hard as I can for the American people. This country has made real and undeniable progress in the six years since the 2008 economic crisis. But our work will not be done until every single American feels the gains of a growing economy where it matters most: in your own lives.

While I’m sure we’ll continue to disagree on some issues that we’re passionate about, I’m eager to work with Congress over the next two years to get the job done. The challenges that lay ahead of us are far too important to allow partisanship or ideology to prevent our progress as a nation.

As we make progress, I’ll need your help, too. Over the weeks and months ahead, I’ll be looking to Americans like you, asking you to stay engaged.

I am optimistic about our future. Because for all the maps plastered across our screens today, for all the cynics who say otherwise, we are more than a simple collection of red and blue states. We are the United States.

And yesterday, millions of Americans — Democrats and Republicans, women and men, young and old, black and white — took the time out of their day to perform a simple, profound act of citizenship. That’s something we shouldn’t forget amid the din of political commentary. Because making progress starts with showing up.

Let’s get to work.

President Barack Obama
The White House • 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW • Washington, DC 20500 • 202-456-1111

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


UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Climate Assessment of November 2, 2014.

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) – Climate change is happening, it’s almost entirely man’s fault and limiting its impacts may require reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero this century, the U.N.’s panel on climate science said Sunday.

The fourth and final volume of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s giant climate assessment didn’t offer any surprises, nor was it expected to since it combined the findings of three earlier reports released in the past 13 months.

[Rabbi Lerner on the tone of this A.P. article: it once again lulls one to sleep, with words like "didn't offer any surprises" when it could have said, "is yet another attempt to wake the world's peoples to rebel against governmental and corporate leaderships that have set this planet on a path toward environmental destruction of the life support system of Earth." But of course, the media hide behind their pretext of "value free reporting," though their values are constantly seeping through in their choice of what to feature and who to quote.]


But it underlined the scope of the climate challenge in stark terms. Emissions, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels, may need to drop to zero by the end of this century for the world to have a decent chance of keeping the temperature rise below a level that many consider dangerous. Failure to do so, which could require deployment of technologies that suck greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere, could lock the world on a trajectory with “irreversible” impacts on people and the environment, the report said. Some impacts are already being observed, including rising sea levels, a warmer and more acidic ocean, melting glaciers and Arctic sea ice and more frequent and intense heat waves.

“Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in their message. Leaders must act. Time is not on our side,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the report’s launch in Copenhagen.

Amid its grim projections, the report also offered hope. The tools needed to set the world on a low-emissions path are there; it just has to break its addiction to the oil, coal and gas that power the global energy system while polluting the atmosphere with heat-trapping CO2, the chief greenhouse gas.

“We have the means to limit climate change,” IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri said. “All we need is the will to change, which we trust will be motivated by knowledge and an understanding of the science of climate change.”

The IPCC was set up in 1988 to assess global warming and its impacts. The report released Sunday caps its latest assessment, a mega-review of 30,000 climate change studies that establishes with 95-percent certainty that nearly all warming seen since the 1950s is man-made.

Today only a small minority of scientists challenge the mainstream conclusion that climate change is linked to human activity.

Sleep-deprived delegates approved the final documents Saturday afternoon after a weeklong line-by-line review in Copenhagen that underscored that the IPCC process is not just about science. The reports must be approved both by scientists and governments, which means political issues from U.N. climate negotiations, which are nearing a 2015 deadline for a global agreement, inevitably affect the outcome.

The rift between developed and developing countries in the U.N. talks opened up in Copenhagen over a box of text that discussed what levels of warming could be considered dangerous. After a protracted battle, the delegates couldn’t agree on the wording, and the box was dropped from a key summary for policy-makers to the disappointment of some scientists.

“If the governments are going to expect the IPCC to do their job,” said Princeton professor Michael Oppenheimer, a lead author of the IPCC’s second report, they shouldn’t “get caught up in fights that have nothing to do with the IPCC.”

The omission of the box meant the word “dangerous” disappeared from the summary altogether. It appeared only twice in a longer underlying report compared to seven times in a draft produced before the Copenhagen session.

But the less loaded word “risk” was mentioned 65 times in the final 40-page summary.

“Rising rates and magnitudes of warming and other changes in the climate system, accompanied by ocean acidification, increase the risk of severe, pervasive, and in some cases irreversible detrimental impacts,” the report said.

World governments in 2009 set a goal of keeping the temperature rise below 2 degrees C (3.6 F) compared to before the industrial revolution. Temperatures have gone up about 0.8 C (1.4 F) since the 19th century.

Meanwhile, emissions have risen so fast in recent years that the world has already used up two-thirds of its carbon budget, the maximum amount of CO2 that can be emitted to have a likely chance of avoiding 2 degrees of warming, the IPCC report said.

“This report makes it clear that if you are serious about the 2-degree goal … there is nowhere to hide,” said Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group. “You can’t wait several decades to address this issue.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the report “another canary in the coal mine.”

“The bottom line is that our planet is warming due to human actions, the damage is already visible, and the challenge requires ambitious, decisive and immediate action,” Kerry said in a statement. “Those who choose to ignore or dispute the science so clearly laid out in this report do so at great risk for all of us and for our kids and grandkids.”

Pointing to the solution, the IPCC said the costs associated with mitigation action such as shifting the energy system to solar and wind power and other renewable sources and improving energy efficiency would reduce economic growth only by 0.06 percent annually.

And Pachauri said that cost should be measured against the implications of doing nothing, putting “all species that live on this planet” at peril.

The report is meant as a scientific roadmap for the U.N. climate negotiations, which continue next month in Lima, Peru. That’s the last major conference before a summit in Paris next year, where a global agreement on climate action is supposed to be adopted.

“Lima should be the place where we put the pieces together so we can move toward success” in Paris, said Peruvian Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal.

The biggest hurdle is deciding who should do what, with rich countries calling on China and other major developing countries to take on ambitious targets, and developing countries saying the rich have a historical responsibility to lead the fight against warming and to help poorer nations cope with its impacts. The IPCC carefully avoided taking sides in that discussion, saying the risks of climate change “are generally greater for disadvantaged people and communities in countries at all levels of development.”

[Rabbi Lerner's comment: The US has resisted taking any major steps toward climate rationality by refusing to impose a powerful and progressively more restrictive tax on climate emissions. The Obama Administration has instead foolishly embraced, and at that rather weakly, the notion of "cap and trade" which defacto means that the rich can purchase the right to pollute all they want. The only way this reality is likely to change in the near future is for the people of the advanced industrial countries to become vigorous supporters of the ESRA--Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the US Constitution www.tikkun.org Such a movement, because it threatens the ability of corporations to continue to function unless they take immediate and decisive steps toward environmental sustainability, will give the rich and their corporations a massive incentive to act to head off the almost certain climate disaster facing the world.]

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

U.N. Panel Warns of Dire Effects From Lack of Action Over Global Warming

By JUSTIN GILLIS, for the New York Times – November 2, 2014.

COPENHAGEN — The gathering risks of climate change are so profound they could stall or even reverse generations of progress against poverty and hunger if greenhouse gas emissions continue at a runaway pace, according to a major new United Nations report.

Despite rising efforts in many countries to tackle the problem, the overall global situation is growing more acute as developing countries join the West in burning huge amounts of fossil fuels, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said here on Sunday.

Failure to reduce emissions, the group of scientists and other experts found, could threaten society with food shortages, refugee crises, the flooding of major cities and entire island nations, the mass extinction of plants and animals, and a climate so drastically altered it might become dangerous for people to work or play outside during the hottest times of the year.
Continue reading the main story


“Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems,” the report declared.

In the starkest language it has ever used, the expert panel made clear how far society remains from having any serious policy to limit global warming.

Doing so would require finding a way to leave the vast majority of the world’s reserves of fossil fuels in the ground, or, alternatively, developing methods to capture and bury the emissions resulting from their use, the group said.

If governments are to meet their own stated goal of limiting the warming of the planet to no more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, or 2 degrees Celsius, above the pre-industrial level, they must restrict emissions from additional fossil-fuel burning to about 1 trillion tons of carbon dioxide, the panel said.

At current growth rates, that budget is likely to be exhausted in something like 30 years. Yet energy companies have already booked coal and petroleum reserves equal to several times that amount, and they are spending some $600 billion a year to find more. Utilities and oil companies are still building coal-fired power plants and refineries, and governments are spending another $600 billion directly subsidizing the consumption of fossil fuels. Also, there has been no sign that national leaders are willing to discuss allocating the trillion-ton emissions budget among countries, an approach that would raise political and moral questions of fairness. On the contrary: They are moving toward a relatively weak agreement that would essentially let each country decide for itself how much effort to put into limiting global warming, and even that document would not take effect until 2020. {That is how the NYT evaluates the IPCC V Report.}

“If they choose not to talk about the carbon budget, they’re choosing not to address the problem of climate change,” said Myles R. Allen, a scientist at Oxford University in Britain who helped write the new report. “They might as well not bother to turn up for these meetings.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a scientific body appointed by the world’s governments to advise them on the causes and effects of global warming, and potential solutions. The group was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, along with Al Gore, for its efforts to call attention to the climate crisis.

The new report is a 175-page policy synopsis of a much longer series of reports that the panel has issued over the past year, culminating a five-year effort by the body to summarize a vast archive of published climate research.

It is the fifth such report from the group since 1990, each finding greater certainty that the climate is warming and that human activities are the primary cause.

“Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, and in global mean sea-level rise; and it is extremely likely to have been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century,” the report said.

A core finding of the new report is that climate change is no longer a distant, future threat, but is being felt all over the world already.

“It’s here and now,” said Rajendra K. Pachauri, the chairman of the panel, in an interview. “It’s not something in the future.”

The group cited mass die-offs of forests, including those in the American West; the melting of land ice virtually everywhere in the world; an accelerating rise of the seas that is leading to increased coastal flooding; and heat waves that have devastated crops and killed tens of thousands of people.


The report contained the group’s most explicit warning yet about the food supply, saying that climate change had already become a small drag on overall global production, and could become a far larger one if emissions continued unchecked. The reported noted that in recent years the world’s food system had shown signs of instability, with sudden price increases leading to riots and, in a few cases, the collapse of governments.

A related finding is that climate change poses serious risks to basic human progress in areas such as alleviating poverty. Under the worst-case scenarios, factors like high food prices and intensified weather disasters would most likely leave poor people worse off. In fact, the report said, that has already happened to a degree.

In Washington, the Obama administration welcomed the new report, with the president’s science adviser, John P. Holdren, calling it “yet another wake-up call to the global community that we must act together swiftly and aggressively in order to stem climate change and avoid its worst impacts.”

The administration is pushing for new limits on emissions from American power plants, but faces stiff resistance in Congress and some states.

Michael Oppenheimer, a climate scientist at Princeton University and a principal author of the new report, said that a continuation of the political paralysis on emissions would leave society depending largely on luck.

If the level of greenhouse gases were to continue rising at a rapid pace over coming decades, severe effects could be headed off only if the climate turned out to be much less sensitive to those gases than most scientists think is likely, he said.

“We’ve seen many governments delay and delay and delay on implementing comprehensive emissions cuts,” Dr. Oppenheimer said. “So the need for a lot of luck looms larger and larger. Personally, I think it’s a slim reed to lean on for the fate of the planet.”

——-

Related in Opinion: Panel’s Latest Warming Warning Misses Global Slumber Party on Energy Research November 2, 2014.

By contrast, the report found, less than $400 billion a year is being spent around the world to reduce emissions or otherwise cope with climate change. That sum is smaller than the revenue of a single American oil company, ExxonMobil.

The new report comes just a month before international delegates convene in Lima, Peru, in an effort to devise a new global treaty or other agreement to limit emissions, and it makes clear the urgency of their task.

Appearing at a news conference in Copenhagen Sunday morning to unveil the report, the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, issued an urgent appeal for strong action in Lima: “Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in their message,” Mr. Ban declared. “Leaders must act. Time is not on our side.”

——-

Further Related Coverage:
Times Topic: Global Warming & Climate Change
Greenland’­s immense ice sheet is melting as a result of climate change.
Panel’s Warning on Climate Risk: Worst Is Yet to Come – MARCH 31, 2014
Gov. Rick Scott, like many in his party, sidesteps climate change by saying he is not a scientist.
Political Memo: Why Republicans Keep Telling Everyone They’re Not Scientists – October 30, 2014
Where in the United States might you find the most protection from future climate change?
Detroit, Miami, Norfolk and Seattle may weather global warming very differently.
Nature in the Balance: On a Warmer Planet, Which Cities Will Be Safest? September 22, 2014

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


Hard-Nosed Advice From Veteran Lobbyist: ‘Win Ugly or Lose Pretty’ From Richard Berman Energy Industry Talk Secretly Taped as per The New York Times of November 1st 2014 – the weekend before US elections.

By ERIC LIPTON October 30, 2014

“Endless War” and Other Rallying Points: This transcript of the speech made by Richard Berman in June in Colorado Springs to a group of energy executives, as well as other documents, provides a unguarded glimpse of Mr. Berman’s lobbying tactics. OPEN Document October 30, 2014


WASHINGTON — If the oil and gas industry wants to prevent its opponents from slowing its efforts to drill in more places, it must be prepared to employ tactics like digging up embarrassing tidbits about environmentalists and liberal celebrities, a veteran Washington political consultant told a room full of industry executives in a speech that was secretly recorded.


The blunt advice from the consultant, Richard Berman, the founder and chief executive of the Washington-based Berman & Company consulting firm, came as Mr. Berman solicited up to $3 million from oil and gas industry executives to finance an advertising and public relations campaign called Big Green Radicals.


The company executives, Mr. Berman said in his speech, must be willing to exploit emotions like fear, greed and anger and turn them against the environmental groups. And major corporations secretly financing such a campaign should not worry about offending the general public because “you can either win ugly or lose pretty,” he said.

“Think of this as an endless war,” Mr. Berman told the crowd at the June event in Colorado Springs, sponsored by the Western Energy Alliance, a group whose members include Devon Energy, Halliburton and Anadarko Petroleum, which specialize in extracting oil and gas through hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. “And you have to budget for it.”

What Mr. Berman did not know — and what could now complicate his task of marginalizing environmental groups that want to impose limits on fracking — is that one of the energy industry executives recorded his remarks and was offended by them.

“That you have to play dirty to win,” said the executive, who provided a copy of the recording and the meeting agenda to The New York Times under the condition that his identity not be revealed. “It just left a bad taste in my mouth.”

Mr. Berman had flown to Colorado with Jack Hubbard, a vice president at Berman & Company, to discuss their newest public relations campaign, Big Green Radicals, which has already placed a series of intentionally controversial advertisements in Pennsylvania and Colorado, two states where the debate over fracking has been intense. It has also paid to place the media campaign on websites serving national and Washington audiences.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Berman confirmed that he gave the speech, but said he would have no comment on its contents.

Mr. Berman is well known in Washington for his technique of creating nonprofit groups like the Center for Consumer Freedom that secretly collect corporate donations to finance the aggressive, often satirical media campaigns his team conceives. They are intended to undermine his opponents, like labor unions or animal rights groups that have tried to spotlight the treatment of animals at meatpacking plants.

“I get up every morning and I try to figure out how to screw with the labor unions — that’s my offense,” Mr. Berman said in his speech to the Western Energy Alliance. “I am just trying to figure out how I am going to reduce their brand.”
Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story
Continue reading the main story

Mr. Berman offered several pointers from his playbook.

“If you want a video to go viral, have kids or animals,” he said, and then he showed a spot his company had prepared using schoolchildren as participants in a mock union election — to suggest that union bosses do not have real elections.

“Use humor to minimize or marginalize the people on the other side,” he added.

There is nothing the public likes more than tearing down celebrities and playing up the hypocrisy angle,” his colleague Mr. Hubbard said, citing billboard advertisements planned for Pennsylvania that featured Robert Redford. “Demands green living,” they read. “Flies on private jets.”

Mr. Hubbard also discussed how he had done detailed research on the personal histories of members of the boards of the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council to try to find information that could be used to embarrass them.
Continue reading the main story

Recent Comments:
Brad L.
Yesterday

This town is the county seat of the county which is the center of the oil industry in Colorado. We love the jobs here. Lies cuts both ways…
Debra
Yesterday

As someone who has worked in PR all my life I am so sickened and shamed by this. Evil for money, pure and simple.
Craig Maltby
Yesterday

Lee Atwater had a death bed epiphany: he had been wrong his entire political life to viciously attack opposition candidates with vile,…

See All Comments

But the speech, given in June at the Broadmoor Hotel and Resort, where the Western Energy Alliance held its 2014 annual meeting, could end up bringing a new round of scrutiny to Mr. Berman and the vast network of nonprofit groups and think tanks he runs out of his downtown Washington office.

Mr. Berman repeatedly boasted about how he could take checks from the oil and gas industry executives — he said he had already collected six-figure contributions from some of the executives in the room — and then hide their role in funding his campaigns.

“People always ask me one question all the time: ‘How do I know that I won’t be found out as a supporter of what you’re doing?’ ” Mr. Berman told the crowd. “We run all of this stuff through nonprofit organizations that are insulated from having to disclose donors. There is total anonymity. People don’t know who supports us.”

What is unclear is if the hardball tactics that Mr. Berman has pitched will succeed in places like Colorado. Already, The Denver Post editorial page, generally supportive of the oil and gas industry, has criticized Mr. Berman’s tactics, calling one video spot — featuring fictitious environmentalists who debate if the moon is made of cheese before calling for a ban on fracking — “a cheap shot at fracking foes.”

In fact, at least one of the major oil and gas companies that had executives at the event — Anadarko, a Texas-based company that operates 13,000 wells in the Rocky Mountain region — now says that it did not agree with the suggestions that Mr. Berman offered on how to combat criticism of oil and gas drilling techniques.

“Anadarko did not support Mr. Berman’s approach and did not to participate in his work because it does not align with our values,” John Christiansen, a company spokesman, said.

Mr. Berman probably appreciates the criticism. As he explained in his remarks, what matters is increasing the number of people who see his work, which is part of the reason he intentionally tries to offend people in his media campaigns.

“They characterize us in a campaign as being the guys with the black helicopters,” he explained. “And to some degree, that’s true. We’re doing stuff to diminish the other sides’ ability to operate.”

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

The Jihadi Connection between Sinai, Gaza and Islamic State.

by Jonathan Spyer
The Jerusalem Post
November 1, 2014

There is a burgeoning and violent salafi jihadist subculture that encompasses northern Sinai and southern Gaza.

 www.meforum.org/4876/the-jihadi-c…

What kind of relations do the jihadists of northern Sinai and Gaza have with Islamic State, and with Hamas? Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi declared a three-month national emergency this week, following the killing of over 31 Egyptian soldiers in a suicide car bombing carried out by jihadists in northern Sinai.

No organization has issued an authoritative claim of responsibility for the bombing, but it comes amid a state of open insurgency in northern Sinai, as Egyptian security forces battle a number of jihadist organizations. Most prominent among these groups are Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis and Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen; the attack on the Sinai military base came a few days after an Egyptian court sentenced seven members of Ansar Beit al-Maqdis to death for carrying out previous attacks on the army.

In subsequent days, Egyptian officials pointed an accusing finger at the Hamas rulers of Gaza, asserting there is “no doubt that elements belonging to Palestinian factions were directly involved in the attack.” Cairo is now set to build a new barrier separating the Strip from northern Sinai.

In a number of Arabic media outlets, unnamed Egyptian government sources openly accused Hamas members of aiding the assault, assisting with planning, funding and weapons supply.

Are the Egyptian claims credible? Are there links between Hamas or smaller jihadist movements in the Gaza Strip and the insurgents in northern Sinai? And no less importantly, is the armed campaign in northern Sinai linked to Islamic State? First, it is important to understand that jihadist activity in northern Sinai is not a new development. Long before the military coup of July 3, 2013, and indeed before the downfall of president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, this area had become a lawless zone in which jihadists and Beduin smugglers of people and goods carried out their activities.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis emerged from this already existing jihadist milieu in the period following Mubarak’s ouster.

At this time, Egyptian security measures in the area sharply declined.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has not confined its activities to the Sinai area; rather, it has directly engaged in attacks on Israeli targets. Recently, the group beheaded four Sinai locals who it accused of being “spies for the Mossad,” also carrying out two rocket attacks on Eilat this past January.

The claim of links between Hamas and Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has been raised in the past. In September, Egyptian security forces claimed to have found uniforms and weaponry identifiable as belonging to Hamas’s Izzadin Kassam brigades.

It is worth remembering that the current Egyptian government has, since its inception, sought to link salafi jihadist terrorism with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, as part of its strategy of marginalizing and criminalizing the Brotherhood.

The current statements seeking to link Hamas directly to Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis may form part of this larger strategy.

For its part, Hamas indignantly denies any link to this week’s bombing.

But what can be said with greater confidence is there is, without doubt, a burgeoning and violent salafi jihadist subculture that encompasses northern Sinai and southern Gaza – with various organizations possessing members and infrastructure on both sides of the border.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis itself and Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen both have members in Sinai and Gaza. Working tunnels smuggling goods and weapons exist between Gaza and northern Sinai, despite Egyptian attempts to destroy them.

It is also a fact that Hamas is aware of these tunnels and makes no attempt to act against them, benefiting economically from their presence.

From this standpoint, Hamas authorities in Gaza are guilty by omission of failing to act against the infrastructure supplying and supporting salafi guerrillas in northern Sinai, whether or not the less verifiable claims of direct Hamas links with them have a basis.

Given this reality, it is also not hard to understand the Egyptian determination to build an effective physical barrier between the Strip and Egyptian territory.

What of the issue of support for Islamic State? Should these jihadist groups be seen as a southern manifestation of the Sunni jihadist wave now sweeping across Iraq, Syria and increasingly, Lebanon? From an ideological point of view, certainly yes.

From an organizational point of view, the situation is more complex.

According to Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, an expert on jihadist groups currently based at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya and the Middle East Forum, neither Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis nor Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen have formally pledged their allegiance to the caliphate established by Islamic State in parts of Iraq and Syria.

Nevertheless, Tamimi confirmed, both organizations have expressed “support” for Islamic State and its objectives, while not subordinating themselves to it through a pledge of allegiance.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis is known to maintain contacts with Islamic State, which has advised it on the mechanics of carrying out operations. Islamic State, meanwhile, has publicly declared its support for the jihadists in northern Sinai, without singling out any specific group for public support.

Tamimi further notes the existence of two smaller and more obscure groups in Gaza with more direct links to Islamic State.

These are Jamaat Ansar al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi Bayt al-Maqdis (The Group of Helpers/ Supporters of the Islamic State in Bayt al-Maqdis), which carries out propaganda activities from Gaza and helps funnel volunteers to Syria and Iraq, and the Sheikh Abu al-Nur al-Maqdisi Battalion, a Gazan contingent fighting with Islamic State in these countries.

So, a number of conclusions can be drawn: Firstly, Hamas, in its tolerance of and engagement with smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Sinai, at least indirectly permits the jihadists networks operating these tunnels to wage their insurgency against Egypt – even if the claims of a direct Hamas link to violent activities in Sinai have not yet been conclusively proven.

Secondly, the most important organizations engaged in this insurgency support Islamic State, and are supported by them, though the former have not yet pledged allegiance and become directly subordinate to the latter.

Islamic State is not yet in northern Sinai, but its close allies are. Their activities are tolerated by the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip – as long as they are directed outward, against Egypt and Israel.

————————–
Jonathan Spyer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

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

We received the following and are posting it as we are open to any exchange of ideas – specially when the subject is theories.
This one is surprising as it lambasts the Russian semi-god Lomonosov and comes out backing his Western opponents that in general
used to be lambasted by the Soviets that credited all science to Lomonosov.


We wonder if this Houston new line is another Koch/Singer sponsored pseudo-science outlet – but as said – we will let true non-political modern scientists decide which theory has a backing from fossil material that comes with the oil. Truly amazing is that the use of the word MODERN in this mailing refers to the USSR and originates from a Houston padded with Republicans.

Please let me suggest that whatever the merits of these papers regarding exhaustability of petroleum – and note how the paper distinguishes between the origins of petroleum and natural gas, all this is totally irrelevant to the Climate Change//Global Warming debate and the issue that this calamity in MAN MADE because of MAN’S USE OF PETROLEUM AND NATURAL GAS thus increase the CO2 content in the atmosphere. So – really what is here the beef?

LAST OF OUR COMMENTS – Are we seeing here hope for new Russian-Ukrainian understanding?

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An introduction to the modern petroleum science, and to the Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins.

J. F. Kenney

Russian Academy of Sciences – Joint Institute of The Physics of the Earth.

Gas Resources Corporation, 11811 North Freeway, Houston, TX 77060, U.S.A.

The following articles take up, from different perspectives, the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins. Because that subject is one of which most persons outside the former U.S.S.R. are not familiar, a short synopsis of it and of its provenance and history, are given now.

1. The essence of the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins.

The modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins is an extensive body of scientific knowledge which covers the subjects of the chemical genesis of the hydrocarbon molecules which comprise natural petroleum, the physical processes which occasion their terrestrial concentration, the dynamical processes of the movement of that material into geological reservoirs of petroleum, and the location and economic production of petroleum. The modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins recognizes that petroleum is a primordial material of deep origin which has been erupted into the crust of the Earth. In short, and bluntly, petroleum is not a “fossil fuel” and has no intrinsic connection with dead dinosaurs (or any other biological detritus) “in the sediments” (or anywhere else).

The modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of petroleum is based upon rigorous scientific reasoning, consistent with the laws of physics and chemistry, as well as upon extensive geological observation, and rests squarely in the mainstream of modern physics and chemistry, from which it draws its provenance. Much of the modern Russian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum genesis developed from the sciences of chemistry and thermodynamics, and accordingly the modern theory has steadfastly held as a central tenet that the generation of hydrocarbons must conform to the general laws of chemical thermodynamics, – as must likewise all matter. In such respect, modern Russian-Ukrainian petroleum science contrasts strongly to what are too often passed off as “theories” in the field of geology in Britain and the U.S.A.

As will be shown explicitly in a following articles, petroleum has no intrinsic association with biological material. The only hydrocarbon molecules which are exceptions to this point are methane, the hydrocarbon alkane specie of lowest chemical potential of all hydrocarbons, and to a lesser extent, ethene, the alkene of the lowest chemical potential of its homologous molecular series. Only methane is thermodynamically stable in the pressure and temperature regime of the near-surface crust of the Earth and accordingly can be generated there spontaneously, as is indeed observed for phenomena such as swamp gas or sewer gas. However, methane is practically the sole hydrocarbon molecule possessing such thermodynamic characteristic in that thermodynamic regime; almost all other reduced hydrocarbon molecules excepting only the lightest ones, are high pressure polymorphs of the hydrogen-carbon system. Spontaneous genesis of the heavier hydrocarbons which comprise natural petroleum occurs only in multi-kilobar regimes of high pressures, as is shown in a following article.

2. The historical beginnings of petroleum science, – with a touch of irony.

The history of petroleum science might be considered to have begun in the year 1757 when the great Russian scholar Mikhailo V. Lomonosov enunciated the hypothesis that oil might originate from biological detritus. Applying the rudimentary powers of observation and the necessarily limited analytical skills available in his time, Lomonosov hypothesized that “… ‘rock oil’ [crude oil, or petroleum] originated as the minute bodies of dead marine and other animals which were buried in the sediments and which, over the passage of a great duration of time under the influence of heat and pressure, transformed into ‘rock oil’.” Such was the descriptive science practiced in the eighteenth century by Lomonosov and Linnaeus.

The scientists who first rejected Lomonsov’s hypothesis, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, were the famous German naturalist and geologist Alexander von Humboldt and the French chemist and thermodynamicist Louis Joseph Gay-Lussac who together enunciated the proposition that oil is a primordial material erupted from great depth, and is unconnected with any biological matter near the surface of the Earth.

Thus both ideas were delivered with powerful pedigrees: the wrong biological notion having been put forward by the greatest Russian scientist of his time; and the abiotic proposition approximately a half century later by, respectively, two of the greatest German and French scientists.

Historically, the first scientific repudiation Lomonosov’s hypothesis of a biological origin of petroleum came from chemists and thermodynamicists. With the nascent development of chemistry during the nineteenth century, and following particularly the enunciation of the second law of thermodynamics by Clausius in 1850, Lomonosov’s biological hypothesis came inevitably under attack.

The great French chemist Marcellin Berthelot particularly scorned the hypothesis of a biological origin for petroleum. Berthelot first carried out experiments involving, among others, a series of what are now referred to as Kolbe reactions and demonstrated the generation of petroleum by dissolving steel in strong acid. He produced the suite of n-alkanes and made it plain that such were generated in total absence of any “biological” molecule or process. Berthelot’s investigations were later extended and refined by other scientists, including Biasson and Sokolov, all of whom observed similar phenomena and likewise concluded that petroleum was unconnected to biological matter.

During the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the great Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev also examined and rejected Lomonosov’s hypothesis of a biological origin for petroleum. In contrast to Berthelot who had made no suggestion as to where or how petroleum might have come, Mendeleev stated clearly that petroleum is a primordial material which has erupted from great depth. With extraordinary perception, Mendeleev hypothesized the existence of geological structures which he called “deep faults,” and correctly identified such as the locus of weakness in the crust of the Earth via which petroleum would travel from the depths. After he made that hypothesis, Mendeleev was abusively criticized by the geologists of his time, for the notion of deep faults was then unknown. Today, of course, an understanding of plate tectonics would be unimaginable without recognition of deep faults.

3. The enunciation and development of modern petroleum science.

The impetus for development of modern petroleum science came shortly after the end of World War II, and was impelled by recognition by the government of the (then) U.S.S.R. of the crucial necessity of petroleum in modern warfare. In 1947, the U.S.S.R. had (as its petroleum “experts” then estimated) very limited petroleum reserves, of which the largest were the oil fields in the region of the Abseron peninsula, near the Caspian city Baku in the present country of Azerbaijan. At that time, the oil fields near Baku were considered to be “depleting” and “nearing exhaustion.” During World War II, the Soviets had occupied the two northern provinces of Iran; in 1946, the British government had forced them out. By 1947, the Soviets realized that the American, British, and French were not going to allow them to operate in the middle east, nor in the petroleum producing areas of Africa, nor Indonesia, nor Burma, nor Malaysia, nor anywhere in the far east, nor in Latin America. The government of the Soviet Union recognized then that new petroleum reserves would have to be discovered and developed within the U.S.S.R.

The government of the Soviet Union initiated a “Manhattan Project” type program, which was given the highest priority to study every aspect of petroleum, to determine its origins and how petroleum reserves are generated, and to ascertain what might be the most effective strategies for petroleum exploration. At that time, Russia benefited from the excellent educational system which had been introduced after the 1917 revolution. The Russian petroleum community had then almost two generations of highly educated, scientifically competent men and women, ready to take up the problem of petroleum origins. Modern Russian petroleum science followed within five years.

In 1951, the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins was first enunciated by Nikolai A. Kudryavtsev at the All-Union petroleum geology congress. Kudryavtsev analyzed the hypothesis of a biological origin of petroleum, and pointed out the failures of the claims then commonly put forth to support that hypothesis.
Kudryavtsev was soon joined by numerous other Russian and Ukrainian geologists, among the first of whom were P. N. Kropotkin, K. A. Shakhvarstova, G. N. Dolenko, V. F. Linetskii, V. B. Porfir’yev, and K. A. Anikiev.

During the first decade of its existence, the modern theory of petroleum origins was the subject of great contention and controversy. Between the years 1951 and 1965, with the leadership of Kudryavtsev and Porfir’yev, increasing numbers of geologists published articles demonstrating the failures and inconsistencies inherent in the old “biogenic origin” hypothesis. With the passing of the first decade of the modern theory, the failure of the previous, eighteenth century hypothesis of an origin of petroleum from biological detritus in the near-surface sediments had been thoroughly demonstrated, the hypothesis of Lomonosov discredited, and the modern theory firmly established.

An important point to be recognized is that the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of abiotic petroleum origins was, initially, a geologists’ theory. Kudryavtsev, Kropotkin, Dolenko, Porfir’yev and the developers of the modern theory of petroleum were all geologists. Their arguments were necessarily those of geologists, developed from many observations, and much data, organized into a pattern, and argued by persuasion.

By contrast, the practice of mainstream, predictive modern science, particularly physics and chemistry, involves a minimum of observation or data, and applies only a minimum of physical law, inevitably expressed with formal mathematics, and argues by compulsion. Such predictive proof of the geologists assertions for the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins had to wait almost a half century, for such required the development not only of modern quantum statistical mechanics but also that of the techniques of many-body theory and the application of statistical geometry to the analysis of dense fluids, designated scaled particle theory.

3. The organization of these papers.

The papers collected on the following public-access pages of this web site are organized into several categories and sub-categories: The principle categories are the Scientific Publications; the Economic Publications; and the Political and Sociological Essays. The organization of the following papers does not follow the historical development of the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins but instead orders them according to the different aspects of modern petroleum science. A number of these papers were delivered at the International Conference on the Production of Petroleum from the Crystalline Basement, held in Kazan, Russia, June 2001, in celebration of the half-century commemoration of the enunciation of that theory by Nikolai Kudryavtsev.

3.1. The scientific and technical papers.

The Scientific Publications are further divided into two sets of articles dealing, first, with the rigorous scientific foundations upon which rests the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins, and, second, with applications of modern petroleum science to petroleum exploration and production.

In the first subsection are several published articles concerned directly with the statistical thermodynamics of the evolution of the hydrocarbon molecules and the origins of petroleum. The first paper in this section reviews the constraints of irreversibility upon the evolution of the hydrogen-carbon [H-C] system as determined by the second law of thermodynamics. In this article, the formalism of modern thermodynamics is applied freely, and the prohibition of spontaneous genesis of hydrocarbons heavier than methane in the regimes of temperature and pressure of the near-surface crust of the Earth is easily noted. A following paper reviews, and refutes, the claims for “evidence”[sic] for a biological origin of petroleum (commonly asserted in typical British and American textbooks on petroleum geology), – e.g., the “biomarkers,” the observation of optical activity, the slight differences in the abundances of linear molecules with odd (or even) numbers of carbon atoms, the presence of porphyrins, etc. The claims for each (as evidence of a biotic connection for petroleum) are refuted, with unchallenged evidence published in first-rank scientific journals often as long as thirty or forty years ago. The continued, egregious claims of such as “evidence” of a biological origin of petroleum are acknowledged to be fraudulent. A recent paper describes very recent analysis of the thermodynamic stability of the hydrogen-carbon system in circumstances most favorable to the evolution of hydrocarbons, and shows that the hydrocarbons which comprise natural petroleum cannot evolve spontaneously at pressures less than approximately 30 kbar, which pressures correspond to the depths of the mantle of the Earth. In the second instance, this paper describes experimental demonstration of the foregoing theoretical predictions, whereby laboratory-pure solid marble (CaCO3), iron oxide (FeO), wet with triple-distilled water, are subjected to pressures up to 50 kbar and temperatures to 2000 C. With no contribution of either hydrocarbons or biological detritus, the CaCO3-FeO-H2O system spontaneously generates, at the high pressures predicted theoretically, the suite of hydrocarbons characteristic of natural petroleum.

3.2 The economic publications.

The second main group of papers deals with the important issues connected with the economic consequences of modern Russian petroleum science. In these papers are reviewed both some of the pseudo-economic fables (e.g., “the human race is going to run out of natural petroleum”) which have been traditionally connected with the error that petroleum is some sort of “fossil fuel,” for reason (supposedly) of having evolved from biological detritus, – albeit in violation of the laws of chemical thermodynamics.

3.3 The political and sociological essays.

The third main group of papers deals with diverse sociological and political aspects which have involved the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins, and which have too often obstructed persons, and governments, in the U.S.A. from learning it. In this section, are examples of some of the published efforts to misrepresent modern Russian petroleum science.

The modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins is extraordinary in almost every way, including the bizarre circumstance that it has been the object of probably the most daring attempt of plagiarism in modern science. The attempted plagiarism of modern Russian petroleum science is reviewed also in this section.

reference:  gasresources.net – specifically  www.gasresources.net
and www.gasresources.net

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

A while ago I received the following e-mail:

New World Disorder
with Kofi Annan

Please join the Foreign Policy Association for an evening with H.E. Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations and Founder and Chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation, who will discuss “New World Disorder: Challenges for the UN in the 21st Century.”

Mr. Annan will be speaking as part of the Andrew Carnegie Distinguished Lecture on Conflict Prevention in Honor of David Hamburg.

When
Thursday
October 23, 2014
From 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Where
PwC
300 Madison Avenue
New York City

I answered with an e-mail to the FPA addressed to Mr. McDara King, but as the place seems to be run by inexperienced interns that do not acknowledge mail and as it turned out did not list me either I got no notice about what turned out to have been a need to change the venue because so many people showed interest in the event. The event was moved to the old building of the Bernard Baruch College and nobody bothered telling this to the 6 guards at PwC.

I report this in order to say that I missed half of UNSG Kofi Annan’s presentation – but do not want to waste time in my posting about the event because I picked up there his very recently released volume:

“WE THE PEOPLES: A UN for the 21st Century.” by KOFI ANNAN

which is a collection of material including some of his original speeches or articles and some of others he obviously considers very pertinent.

I post this as I highly recommend this volume to anyone interested in how the UN works – or does not.

I am sure I will peruse the book going to original articles that point at things happening these days that were predicted and were avoidable – but this organization of Governments, not being turned in time to be an organization of Peoples as the Charter suggested, is like a huge ship running into icebergs and hard to steer.

Kofi Annan was the seventh Secretary-General of the UN and served two terms – January 1, 1997 – December 31, 2006.

In 2001 Kofi Annan and the United Nations under his leadership were awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace with the citation praising Annan’s leadership for “bringing new life to the organization.” Yes, looking at his record and his assembled material in the book it becomes obvious that even if much of what he tried he could not achieve, nevertheless, it is clear that it was not all a waste, and indeed he started to enlarge the scope of the UN by opening the door to Civil Society and by creating the Global Compact.

In the second half of his presentation above that I did hear – two innovation he promoted became clear points he prides himself with – but as he said – it is actually the R2P – THE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT – that he was able to introduce to the UN – that becomes his personal achievement pride most important life achievement – that was tested in Kenya in 2008.

We believe that since the acceptance of the UN Charter in 1945, it was only the Addition of the Declaration of Human Rights, and Kofi Annan’s R2P that add up to the UN reality.

Looking at my notes from last night – I quote him “When the whole World has Changed You Can Not Have Static Institutions.”
This in regard to the need to give recognition to the importance of Latin America (Brazil), India, Africa (South Africa or Nigeria – and if they cannot agree – the unpretentious Gambia). They ought to get seats at the Security Council, The World Bank and The IMF.

He said that Iraq and Afghanistan have shown that you cannot have military solutions anymore.

President Eisenhower already told us not to lose sight of the UN as a means to achieve peace.

Dealing with Climate Change is absolutely essential for the future of mankind. Who could have predicted this i San Francisco in 1995, he said? No society can survive either without Sustainable Development and Human Rights. On the economy he said this is a story of subsidies – like in the case of gas (he meant gasoline and I assume diesel just the same) – these are subsidies for the middle class and the rich. This is not good for the environment, he said.

To a question about borders he answered by mentioning Syria and Somalia.

In the book, under the title NOT JUST A REGIONAL CONFLICT, I discovered that Kofi Annan’s last Address to the Security Council was about the Middle East and the Arab World and it looks like it was then a prediction of things to come.

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

The New York Times, Politics Column

Rick S. Piltz, Firebrand on Climate, Dies at 71

By DOUGLAS MARTIN October 23, 2014

Rick S. Piltz, a climate policy analyst who resigned from the administration of George W. Bush in 2005, accusing it of distorting scientific findings for political reasons and then releasing internal White House documents to support his contention, died on Saturday in Washington. He was 71.

The cause was metastasized liver cancer, his wife, Karen Metchis, said.

When he resigned, Mr. Piltz was a senior associate in a White House group that coordinated climate research among a dozen agencies. He quit, he told PBS in 2006, because he thought he could no longer be “complicit” in what he viewed as “a conspiracy of silence.” He said his bosses had watered down language in scientific reports to play down warnings of global warming.

The essential issue in the climate change debate is whether human activities — particularly emissions of so-called greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels — will raise temperatures over the next century. Many in the Bush administration questioned whether existing scientific evidence justified spending billions of dollars to cut emissions.

Proponents of curbing global warming say there is already a scientific consensus that the problem is real and accelerating. In June 2005, Mr. Piltz sent The New York Times a fat FedEx package of documents that had been edited by Philip A. Cooney, a lawyer who was chief of staff of the Council on Environmental Quality, the White House office that oversees federal environmental initiatives. Some of the dozens of editing changes in the documents were as subtle as the insertion of the phrase “significant and fundamental” before the word “uncertainties.”


In an October 2002 draft report of a summary of government climate research, titled “Our Changing Planet,” Mr. Cooney amplified the sense of uncertainty by adding the word “extremely” to this sentence: “The attribution of the cause of biological and ecological changes to climate change or variability is extremely difficult.”

Mr. Cooney crossed out a paragraph describing to what extent mountain glaciers and snowpack were projected to shrink. His note in the margins said the report was “straying from research strategy into speculative findings/musings.”

The week that he sent the documents to The Times, Mr. Piltz, in a scathing memo circulated among government climate-change experts, declared, “Politicization by the White House has fed back directly into the science program in such a way as to undermine the credibility and integrity of the program.”

Before coming to the environmental council, Mr. Cooney had been a lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s main trade organization, which opposes taking what it considers precipitous action on global warming. Mr. Cooney was “climate team leader.” Less than a week after the Times article, he resigned to take a job in public affairs with Exxon Mobil in Dallas.

White House press officers voiced full support for Mr. Cooney but declined to make him available for comment.

In testimony to a House committee in 2007, Mr. Cooney, a bearish, softly spoken man, said he had been trying to “advance the administration’s stated goals and policies” in making the edits, which he said were approved by James R. Mahoney, director of the Climate Change Science Program, for which Mr. Piltz worked. He said that Mr. Piltz had not complained to him personally before going public.

Writing in National Review in 2007, Mario Lewis, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a research organization that is skeptical of global warming, pointed out that Mr. Piltz, like Mr. Cooney, was not a scientist. Mr. Lewis argued that Mr. Cooney “did not alter a single data point or bottom-line scientific finding or conclusion,” making only slight changes in inflection. He suggested that Mr. Piltz seemed most disappointed that the Bush administration had disregarded a sweeping Clinton administration assessment of global warming on which Mr. Piltz had worked.

After resigning, Mr. Piltz spent the next nine months without income or benefits. He cashed in his retirement money and took out a loan on his home to start an advocacy group called Climate Science Watch. He blogged, did many interviews with the news media and testified before Congress several times.

In 2006, two liberal groups, the Fertel Foundation and the Nation Institute, which is affiliated with The Nation magazine, awarded Mr. Piltz their Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling. “Piltz was the first insider to expose how politics worked to undermine the integrity of the federal science program,” the citation said.

Frederick Steven Piltz was born on July 29, 1943, in Detroit, and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from the University of Michigan. He then moved to Austin, where he taught at the University of Texas, worked as a legislative researcher and joined the state department of agriculture when Jim Hightower, a liberal activist, was commissioner.

In Washington, Mr. Piltz worked for the Center for Clean Air Policy, a think tank; Renew America, an environmental organization; and the House Science Committee under the chairmanship of George Brown Jr., Democrat of California.

When the Republicans took over the House in 1994, Mr. Piltz moved to the Global Change Research Program in the Clinton administration. Its name was changed to the Climate Change Science Program in the Bush administration. Under President Obama, it went back to the original name.

Mr. Piltz lived in Bethesda, Md. Ms. Metchis, his wife, said he died at a hospice in Washington.

In addition to his wife, his survivors include a daughter, Shayne Piltz. A brother, James, died in 1975. A previous marriage, to Charlotte Crafton, ended in divorce.

Mr. Piltz’s allies say he coined the term “climate denier” to describe those who disparage evidence of planetary warming. Whether he did or not, there is little doubt that in his testimony, blogs and interviews, he helped popularize it.

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A version of this article appears in print on October 24, 2014, on page A25 of the New York edition with the headline: Rick S. Piltz, Firebrand on Climate, Dies at 71.

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

From George Soros, October 23,2014

In an essay published in the New York Review of Books entitled Wake Up, Europe George Soros says that European leaders are failing to show adequate financial and military support for Ukraine. The situation there, he argues, presents Europe with what amounts to an existential threat from Russia. “Neither the European leaders nor their citizens are fully aware of this challenge or know how best to deal with it.” he says. Soros goes on to propose a set of actions that Europe and US could take to assist Ukraine and, ultimately, further their own interests.

All best,

Michael Vachon

*****

Wake up, Europe

New York Review of Books

By George Soros

Europe is facing a challenge from Russia to its very existence. Neither the European leaders nor their citizens are fully aware of this challenge or know how best to deal with it. I attribute this mainly to the fact that the European Union in general and the eurozone in particular lost their way after the financial crisis of 2008.

The fiscal rules that currently prevail in Europe have aroused a lot of popular resentment. Anti-Europe parties captured nearly 30 percent of the seats in the latest elections for the European Parliament but they had no realistic alternative to the EU to point to until recently. Now Russia is presenting an alternative that poses a fundamental challenge to the values and principles on which the European Union was originally founded. It is based on the use of force that manifests itself in repression at home and aggression abroad, as opposed to the rule of law. What is shocking is that Vladimir Putin’s Russia has proved to be in some ways superior to the European Union—more flexible and constantly springing surprises. That has given it a tactical advantage, at least in the near term.

Europe and the United States—each for its own reasons—are determined to avoid any direct military confrontation with Russia. Russia is taking advantage of their reluctance. Violating its treaty obligations, Russia has annexed Crimea and established separatist enclaves in eastern Ukraine. In August when the recently installed government in Kiev threatened to win the low level war in eastern Ukraine against separatist forces backed by Russia, President Putin invaded Ukraine with regular armed forces in violation of the Russian law that exempts conscripts from foreign service without their consent.

In seventy-two hours these forces destroyed several hundred of Ukraine’s armored vehicles, a substantial portion of its fighting force. According to General Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, the Russians used multiple launch rocket systems armed with cluster munitions and thermal-baric warheads (an even more inhumane weapon that ought to be outlawed) with devastating effect. * The local militia from the Ukrainian city of Dnepropetrovsk suffered the brunt of the losses because they were communicating by cell phones and could thus easily be located and targeted by the Russians. President Putin has, so far, abided by a cease-fire agreement he concluded with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on September 5, but Putin retains the choice to continue the cease-fire as long as he finds it advantageous or to resume a full-scale assault.

In September, President Poroshenko visited Washington where he received an enthusiastic welcome from a joint session of Congress. He asked for “both lethal and nonlethal” defensive weapons in his speech. However, President Obama refused his request for Javelin hand-held missiles that could be used against advancing tanks. Poroshenko was given radar, but what use is it without missiles? European countries are equally reluctant to provide military assistance to Ukraine, fearing Russian retaliation. The Washington visit gave President Poroshenko a façade of support with little substance behind it.

Equally disturbing has been the determination of official international leaders to withhold new financial commitments to Ukraine until after the October 26 election there (which will take place just after this issue goes to press). This has led to an avoidable pressure on Ukrainian currency reserves and raised the specter of a full-blown financial crisis in the country.

There is now pressure from donors, whether in Europe or the US, to “bail in” the bondholders of Ukrainian sovereign debt, i.e., for bondholders to take losses on their investments as a pre-condition for further official assistance to Ukraine that would put more taxpayers’ money at risk. That would be an egregious error. The Ukrainian government strenuously opposes the proposal because it would put Ukraine into a technical default that would make it practically impossible for the private sector to refinance its debt. Bailing in private creditors would save very little money and it would make Ukraine entirely dependent on the official donors.

To complicate matters, Russia is simultaneously dangling carrots and wielding sticks. It is offering—but failing to sign—a deal for gas supplies that would take care of Ukraine’s needs for the winter. At the same time Russia is trying to prevent the delivery of gas that Ukraine secured from the European market through Slovakia. Similarly, Russia is negotiating for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to monitor the borders while continuing to attack Donetsk airport and the port city of Mariupol.

It is easy to foresee what lies ahead. Putin will await the results of the elections on October 26 and then offer Poroshenko the gas and other benefits he has been dangling on condition that he appoint a prime minister acceptable to Putin. That would exclude anybody associated with the victory of the forces that brought down the Viktor Yanukovych government by resisting it for months on the Maidan—Independence Square. I consider it highly unlikely that Poroshenko would accept such an offer. If he did, he would be disowned by the defenders of the Maidan; the resistance forces would then be revived.

Putin may then revert to the smaller victory that would still be within his reach: he could open by force a land route from Russia to Crimea and Transnistria before winter. Alternatively, he would simply sit back and await the economic and financial collapse of Ukraine. I suspect that he may be holding out the prospect of a grand bargain in which Russia would help the United States against ISIS—for instance by not supplying to Syria the S300 missiles it has promised, thus in effect preserving US air domination—and Russia would be allowed to have its way in the “near abroad,” as many of the nations adjoining Russia are called. What is worse, President Obama may accept such a deal.

That would be a tragic mistake, with far-reaching geopolitical consequences. Without underestimating the threat from ISIS, I would argue that preserving the independence of Ukraine should take precedence; without it, even the alliance against ISIS would fall apart. The collapse of Ukraine would be a tremendous loss for NATO, the European Union, and the United States. A victorious Russia would become much more influential within the EU and pose a potent threat to the Baltic states with their large ethnic Russian populations. Instead of supporting Ukraine, NATO would have to defend itself on its own soil. This would expose both the EU and the US to the danger they have been so eager to avoid: a direct military confrontation with Russia. The European Union would become even more divided and ungovernable. Why should the US and other NATO nations allow this to happen?

The argument that has prevailed in both Europe and the United States is that Putin is no Hitler; by giving him everything he can reasonably ask for, he can be prevented from resorting to further use of force. In the meantime, the sanctions against Russia—which include, for example, restrictions on business transactions, finance, and trade—will have their effect and in the long run Russia will have to retreat in order to earn some relief from them.

These are false hopes derived from a false argument with no factual evidence to support it. Putin has repeatedly resorted to force and he is liable to do so again unless he faces strong resistance. Even if it is possible that the hypothesis could turn out to be valid, it is extremely irresponsible not to prepare a Plan B.

There are two counterarguments that are less obvious but even more important. First, Western authorities have ignored the importance of what I call the “new Ukraine” that was born in the successful resistance on the Maidan. Many officials with a history of dealing with Ukraine have difficulty adjusting to the revolutionary change that has taken place there. The recently signed Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine was originally negotiated with the Yanukovych government. This detailed road map now needs adjustment to a totally different situation. For instance, the road map calls for the gradual replacement and retraining of the judiciary over five years whereas the public is clamoring for immediate and radical renewal. As the new mayor of Kiev, Wladimir Klitschko, put it, “if you put fresh cucumbers into a barrel of pickles, they will soon turn into pickles.”

Contrary to some widely circulated accounts, the resistance on the Maidan was led by the cream of civil society: young people, many of whom had studied abroad and refused to join either government or business on their return because they found both of them repugnant. (Nationalists and anti-Semitic extremists made up only a minority of the anti-Yanukovych protesters.) They are the leaders of the new Ukraine and they are adamantly opposed to a return of the “old Ukraine,” with its endemic corruption and ineffective government.

The new Ukraine has to contend with Russian aggression, bureaucratic resistance both at home and abroad, and confusion in the general population. Surprisingly, it has the support of many oligarchs, President Poroshenko foremost among them, and the population at large. There are of course profound differences in history, language, and outlook between the eastern and western parts of the country, but Ukraine is more united and more European-minded than ever before. That unity, however, is extremely fragile.

The new Ukraine has remained largely unrecognized because it took time before it could make its influence felt. It had practically no security forces at its disposal when it was born. The security forces of the old Ukraine were actively engaged in suppressing the Maidan rebellion and they were disoriented this summer when they had to take orders from a government formed by the supporters of the rebellion. No wonder that the new government was at first unable to put up an effective resistance to the establishment of the separatist enclaves in eastern Ukraine. It is all the more remarkable that President Poroshenko was able, within a few months of his election, to mount an attack that threatened to reclaim those enclaves.

To appreciate the merits of the new Ukraine you need to have had some personal experience with it. I can speak from personal experience although I must also confess to a bias in its favor. I established a foundation in Ukraine in 1990 even before the country became independent. Its board and staff are composed entirely of Ukrainians and it has deep roots in civil society. I visited the country often, especially in the early years, but not between 2004 and early 2014, when I returned to witness the birth of the new Ukraine.

I was immediately impressed by the tremendous improvement in maturity and expertise during that time both in my foundation and in civil society at large. Currently, civic and political engagement is probably higher than anywhere else in Europe. People have proven their willingness to sacrifice their lives for their country. These are the hidden strengths of the new Ukraine that have been overlooked by the West.

The other deficiency of the current European attitude toward Ukraine is that it fails to recognize that the Russian attack on Ukraine is indirectly an attack on the European Union and its principles of governance. It ought to be evident that it is inappropriate for a country, or association of countries, at war to pursue a policy of fiscal austerity as the European Union continues to do. All available resources ought to be put to work in the war effort even if that involves running up budget deficits. The fragility of the new Ukraine makes the ambivalence of the West all the more perilous. Not only the survival of the new Ukraine but the future of NATO and the European Union itself is at risk. In the absence of unified resistance it is unrealistic to expect that Putin will stop pushing beyond Ukraine when the division of Europe and its domination by Russia is in sight.

Having identified some of the shortcomings of the current approach, I will try to spell out the course that Europe ought to follow. Sanctions against Russia are necessary but they are a necessary evil. They have a depressive effect not only on Russia but also on the European economies, including Germany. This aggravates the recessionary and deflationary forces that are already at work. By contrast, assisting Ukraine in defending itself against Russian aggression would have a stimulative effect not only on Ukraine but also on Europe. That is the principle that ought to guide European assistance to Ukraine.

Germany, as the main advocate of fiscal austerity, needs to understand the internal contradiction involved. Chancellor Angela Merkel has behaved as a true European with regard to the threat posed by Russia. She has been the foremost advocate of sanctions on Russia, and she has been more willing to defy German public opinion and business interests on this than on any other issue. Only after the Malaysian civilian airliner was shot down in July did German public opinion catch up with her. Yet on fiscal austerity she has recently reaffirmed her allegiance to the orthodoxy of the Bundesbank—probably in response to the electoral inroads made by the -Alternative for Germany, the anti-euro party. She does not seem to realize how inconsistent that is. She ought to be even more committed to helping Ukraine than to imposing sanctions on Russia.

The new Ukraine has the political will both to defend Europe against Russian aggression and to engage in radical structural reforms. To preserve and reinforce that will, Ukraine needs to receive adequate assistance from its supporters. Without it, the results will be disappointing and hope will turn into despair. Disenchantment already started to set in after Ukraine suffered a military defeat and did not receive the weapons it needs to defend itself.

It is high time for the members of the European Union to wake up and behave as countries indirectly at war. They are better off helping Ukraine to defend itself than having to fight for themselves. One way or another, the internal contradiction between being at war and remaining committed to fiscal austerity has to be eliminated. Where there is a will, there is a way.

Let me be specific. In its last progress report, issued in early September, the IMF estimated that in a worst-case scenario Ukraine would need additional support of $19 billion. Conditions have deteriorated further since then. After the Ukrainian elections the IMF will need to reassess its baseline forecast in consultation with the Ukrainian government. It should provide an immediate cash injection of at least $20 billion, with a promise of more when needed. Ukraine’s partners should provide additional financing conditional on implementation of the IMF-supported program, at their own risk, in line with standard practice.

The spending of borrowed funds is controlled by the agreement between the IMF and the Ukrainian government. Four billion dollars would go to make up the shortfall in Ukrainian payments to date; $2 billion would be assigned to repairing the coal mines in eastern Ukraine that remain under the control of the central government; and $2 billion would be earmarked for the purchase of additional gas for the winter. The rest would replenish the currency reserves of the central bank.

The new assistance package would include a debt exchange that would transform Ukraine’s hard currency Eurobond debt (which totals almost $18 billion) into long-term, less risky bonds. This would lighten Ukraine’s debt burden and bring down its risk premium. By participating in the exchange, bondholders would agree to accept a lower interest rate and wait longer to get their money back. The exchange would be voluntary and market-based so that it could not be mischaracterized as a default. Bondholders would participate willingly because the new long-term bonds would be guaranteed—but only partially—by the US or Europe, much as the US helped Latin America emerge from its debt crisis in the 1980s with so-called Brady bonds (named for US Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady).

Such an exchange would have a few important benefits. One is that, over the next two or three critical years, the government could use considerably less of its scarce hard currency reserves to pay off bondholders. The money could be used for other urgent needs.

By trimming Ukraine debt payments in the next few years, the exchange would also reduce the chance of a sovereign default, discouraging capital flight and arresting the incipient run on the banks. This would make it easier to persuade owners of Ukraine’s banks (many of them foreign) to inject urgently needed new capital into them. The banks desperately need bigger capital cushions if Ukraine is to avoid a full-blown banking crisis, but shareholders know that a debt crisis could cause a banking crisis that wipes out their equity.

Finally, Ukraine would keep bondholders engaged rather than watch them cash out at 100 cents on the dollar as existing debt comes due in the few years. This would make it easier for Ukraine to reenter the international bond markets once the crisis has passed.

Under the current conditions it would be more practical and cost-efficient for the US and Europe not to use their own credit directly to guarantee part of Ukraine’s debt, but to employ intermediaries such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development or the World Bank and its subsidiaries.

The Ukrainian state-owned company Naftogaz is a black hole in the budget and a major source of corruption. Naftogaz currently sells gas to households for $47 per trillion cubic meters (TCM), for which it pays $380 per TCM. At present people cannot control the temperature in their apartments. A radical restructuring of Naftogaz’s entire system could reduce household consumption at least by half and totally eliminate Ukraine’s dependence on Russia for gas. That would involve charging households the market price for gas. The first step would be to install meters in apartments and the second to distribute a cash subsidy to needy households.

The will to make these reforms is strong both in the new management and in the incoming government but the task is extremely complicated (how do you define who is needy?) and the expertise is inadequate. The World Bank and its subsidiaries could sponsor a project development team that would bring together international and domestic experts to convert the existing political will into bankable projects. The initial cost would exceed $10 billion but it could be financed by project bonds issued by the European Investment Bank and it would produce very high returns.

It is also high time for the European Union to take a critical look at itself. There must be something wrong with the EU if Putin’s Russia can be so successful even in the short term. The bureaucracy of the EU no longer has a monopoly of power and it has little to be proud of. It should learn to be more united, flexible, and efficient. And Europeans themselves need to take a close look at the new Ukraine. That could help them recapture the original spirit that led to the creation of the European Union. The European Union would save itself by saving Ukraine.

* I am deeply disturbed by a report in the NY Times quoting the Human Rights Watch that subsequently – on October 2 and 5- Ukrainians also used cluster bombs, which I condemn. NATO should clarify both alleged Ukrainian and Russian use of such munitions.

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EU leaders gear up for heated climate summit

The EUobserver – October 23, 2014

By Peter Teffer

Brussels – The EU’s 28 leaders are meeting on Thursday (23 October) in Brussels for what are expected to be tough negotiations on climate targets.

The so-called climate and energy framework is expected to contain specific targets for 2030 in the form of percentages.

While the European commission, which did a sort of opening bid in January, emphasizes its targets are “in line with science”, the figures fall victim to political bargaining.

At least seven of the EU’s 28 member states, mostly central and eastern European countries, want a 25 percent target for energy efficiency by 2030, instead of the 30 percent proposed by the commission and laid down in the draft conclusions.

They fear too ambitious goals will harm their competitiveness towards non-EU states.

A diplomatic source from one member state predicted the negotiators will end up with an efficiency figure in the middle: “I guess it will be 27 percent.”

The talks of Thursday focus on three targets for 2030. In addition to the efficiency target, EU leaders will discuss what share of the EU’s energy should come from renewable sources in 2030, and by how much greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced.

However countries come with a shopping list of ‘wants’. The UK wants only a greenhouse gas target. Ireland wants its heavy dependence on agriculture taken into account. Central and easter European countries want “conditional targets” which can be adjusted depending on the outcome of global climate talks in Paris in 2015.

This is because the EU by itself cannot limit global warming – it will need to convince other countries to also cut back on emissions.

The average global temperature has already risen about 0.85 degrees Celsius between 1880 and 2012, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The European Commission, the EU’s executive organisation, believes that to achieve the goal of not having the global average temperature increase by more than 2 degree Celsius (seen by experts as the minimum that needs to be achieved) the EU should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent in 2050 – compared to the level in 1990.

The commission says that a 40 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emission by 2030 – again, compared to 1990 levels – will put the bloc on track for the 2050 goal of an 80 percent reduction, athough this is disputed by environmental groups.

Brigitte Knopf, researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, emphasizes that science alone cannot be the only basis for policy-makers.

“How to distribute the burden? Who has to reduce how much of the emissions? These are ethical questions which clearly belong to the policy side.”

These questions will be discussed in Brussels starting Thursday afternoon, evening and possibly night.
Economy

While EU leaders will tackle climate change on Thursday, tomorrow will see them talk about the economy amid heightened concerns about the health of the Eurozone.

A special meeting of the 18 single currency leaders, as well European Central Bank Chief Mario Draghi, will begin at lunchtime.

Worries about the eurozone have begun to increase again amid fears of deflation and with Germany, the biggest economy, suffering a slowdown.

Last week, the International Monetary Fund warned there is a 40 percent chance of the eurozone falling into recession again.

The meeting also comes against the backdrop of highly sensitive assessments of national budgets to be taken by the European Commission, with France particularly on Brussels’ radar.
Ebola

EU leaders are also due to discuss how to increase their support for Ebola-stricken countries in west Africa.

UK leader David Cameron is set to ask EU leaders to follow the UK in screening air passengers coming from the outbreak zone. Only France and Belgium have screening at their main airports.

Earlier this week foreign ministers agreed to more co-ordination of resources to fight the disease.
European Commission

Finally, in what is mostly a formality, the council wll appoint the new European Commission under the leadership of Jean-Claude Juncker.

This summit thus also is a send-off for Juncker’s predecessor, Jose-Manuel Barroso. It is also the last council summit chaired by Herman van Rompuy, who will be succeeded by Donald Tusk.

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Lobbying for Sustainable Development and Sustainability in general go on in parallel – like in:

“Beim Europäischen Rat am 23. und 24. Oktober werden die Staats- und RegierungschefInnen der EU über einen neuen Rahmen für die EU-Klima- und Energiepolitik bis 2030 entscheiden. In einem Lobbybrief an Bundeskanzler Faymann weist die AG Globale Verantwortung auf die Auswirkungen der EU-Klimapolitik auf internationale Entwicklung hin und fordert ambitionierte Zielsetzungen.

Der Lobbybrief der AG Globale Verantwortung erging gemeinsam mit einem Brief des europäischen Dachverbands CONCORD an Bundeskanzler Faymann sowie in Kopie an Vizekanzler Mitterlehner, Bundesminister Kurz und Bundesminister Rupprechter.”

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

First our posting of October 21st – then the Jewish Week article reporting from St. Louis that was coincidentally written also October 21, 2014 and todate is the best article we found in the printed press.

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We saw last night the Metropolitan Opera’s opening of the Opera titled “The Death of Klinghoffer” and we came out with a firm conclusion that the roaring controversy is all nothing more then a misunderstanding created by an unfortunate choice of the name of the Opera.

PROLOGUE:

Yesterday my wife was having lunch with one of her lady-friends at EJ’s Luncheonette. Her friend, a New Englander, has a daughter who is media-correspondent in the Middle East and the family is very much aware of what goes on in that corner of the world.
She asked my wife what she thinks of the brouhaha that surrounds the MET, and my wife said that we are going to see it “tonight” as I saw it years ago when it was first performed and do not recollect that I had misgivings at that time. That was the era of operas like “Einstein on the Beach” and “Nixon in China.”

Another lady, seemingly a grandmother having pancakes with her grand-daughter, before leaving the restaurant, turned to my wife and said that she is going to the opera – “to demonstrate.” My wife asked her – “did you see the opera?” The lady answered NO!
My wife said then that she is going to see it in order to be able to make up her mind and the lady answered – “Fair Enough!.

I did see the opera at the Brooklyn Academy of Music September 1991 still the days of President Bush the First, and coincidentally, was also at a Chamber Orchestra semi-staged performance at a modern restored building in Geneva, Switzerland, (1998) that was funded in part by a rich local Jewish Real Estate man and his Israeli wife. There were really no accusations of antisemitism that I remember.

The work, composed by John Adams with libretto by poet Alice Goodman – the same team that also wrote “Nixon in China” (1987) -
is presented as the memory of the Captain of the Achille Lauro passenger cruise-ship that was involved in the October 1985 highjacking by four members of the Palestinian Liberation Front (PLF) that ended with the murderous execution of American wheelchair-bound Mr. Leon Klinghoffer.

First let us note that John Adams, besides the mentioned two operas also created “On The Transmigration of Souls” (2002) -
a choral piece that commemorates the 9/11 2001 events – for which Adams was awarded the Pulitzer prize in 2003, and with Peter Sellars as librettist he created the “Dr. Atomic” Opera (2005) on J. Robert Oppenheimer, the Manhattan Project and the development of the atomic bomb – all three operas mentioned were produced also by the MET.

The 1991 production of Klinghoffer was staged with the help of Peter Sellars and the present days MET production was done with staging by Tom Morris. I seem to remember that the 1991 production started with the image of the ship – something non existent in 2014. This production starts with people running around with green Islamic flags and inducting Omar into the group. He is then bound to be one of the four hijackers. Later we see him interacting with one of the two Klinghoffer daughters.

We find it unacceptable to focus on corners of humanity when centering on lamentations by Palestinians for lost homes when seeing them run around with those green flags as if they were doing Allah’s work. And that is really the point – it looks like real daily life as presented on our TVs. That PLF is now – 24 years since the take-over of Achille Lauro – morphed into Al Qaeda, Hamas, ISIL, the Al-Nusra Front …and yes – Boko Haram, the Somali Shabaab, the Libyan and Yemen Islamists as well.

Leon Klinghoffer told the hijackers that they were wrong in what they were doing – in some ways he was actually a hero tied to his wheelchair. He saw the reality. He was on a trip to Egypt with his family – he did not hate Arabs as such – he was on his way to see the pyramids. His antagonists did hate the Jews because thy were from abroad – no recognition on the Arab side that these Jews must be fit somehow into their life as they were actually people that came home to the region for which they have historic ties as well.

Look again at those green flags and think for a moment. If those flags represent real life so just stand up and acknowledge that the show before you is a negative picture not of Klinghoffer but of what the four hijackers stand for – and yes – THEY EXECUTE KLINGHOFFER BECAUSE THEY CANNOT ACCEPT THAT THIS MAN IN HIS WHEELCHAIR HAS THE STRENGTH TO TELL THEM OFF.

The 100 people outside Lincoln Center sitting in wheel-chairs under a sign saying “I am Klinghoffer” did not demonstrate against antisemitism. They actually spoke up in my opinion against the green-flag-waving lunatics.

It is not about the death of Klingoffer – but about the lunacy of his executioners – so for Pete’s sake object to all those Middle-Easterners running around with colored flags – green or black – but stop accusing the whole world of antisemitism.
RENAME THE OPERA AND CHANGE NOTHING FROM WHAT YOU SEE – Do you not realize that whatever is your cause – this opera actually helps you by the mere fact that the artistic creators aimed at pure neutrality and brought to us a documentary?

In the hall there was one demonstrator who shouted as long as he could:”THE MURDER OF KLINGHOFFER WILL NEVER BE FORGIVEN.”
His intervention had clear echos – at first we heard only three people clapping their hands after the run of the flags, but there was strong applause at the end of the performance. THE AUDIENCE ACCEPTED THE TOTALITY OF THE SHOW.

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‘Klinghoffer’ As Gateway To Dialogue

In St. Louis, the controversial opera served as a foundation for new relationships across faith lines.
10/21/14
Maharat Rori Picker Neiss, Special To The Jewish Week

For the past few weeks, my email and social media have been inundated with discussions and links to flyers, articles and events that all support the opposition, protest and even disruption of the New York Metropolitan Opera’s production of John Adams’ “The Death of Klinghoffer.” And I disagree with each one.

Like many, if not most, of the protesters, I have not seen “The Death of Klinghoffer” or read its libretto. I cannot comment on its content nor its staging. I make no judgment to classify it as anti-Semitic or to argue against such a classification. I also cannot make any determination of its commentary on terrorism, those who perpetuate those heinous acts, and those who fall victim to these horrific crimes.

My disagreement is not with the offense that they take to the performance — although I would hope that each person would choose to at least read the text for themselves before coming to a final conclusion — but with the chosen response.

The Jewish community in New York has chosen to launch a passionate protest against the performance and, in doing so, they have let a tremendous opportunity fall by the wayside.

In 2011, the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis staged a production of “The Death of Klinghoffer” — the first staging of the full opera in the United States in 20 years. The Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis did not object to the performance, but instead partnered with the Opera Theatre and other faith-based and arts organizations to prepare study guides, coordinate community events, organize roundtable discussion and engage in deeper dialogue around painful and difficult subjects.

Instead of igniting hatred or perpetuating anti-Semitism, as some protesters have predicted, the opera served as a foundation for new relationships across faith lines. In fact, these initiatives sparked a new nonprofit initiative, Arts & Faith St. Louis, based on the belief that the arts have a unique power to inspire thoughtful discussion among diverse audiences, to bring people together and to bridge divides through shared experiences. This initiative has brought together leaders across the faith communities of St. Louis (Jews, Muslims and Christians) with leaders in the art world to respond to pressing needs in our region and to create innovative approaches to difficult discussions.

These conversations are not easy. Often, they are quite painful. To engage in dialogue around such profoundly tender and traumatic topics such as terrorism, anti-Semitism, extremism, hate crimes, identity, abuse and fear, by definition, requires a person to be immensely vulnerable.

The bonds that can form between two people who strip away their protective shells and open their minds and hearts to one another, however, is immeasurable.

I admire the monumental efforts of the organizers in New York to raise awareness for their cause, to coordinate partners and organize demonstrations. I am confident that, as the objectors state, “The Death of Klinghoffer” is both disturbing and uncomfortable. But a protest is easy. To protest the opera is to express a voice — a unilateral opinion shared through words on a placard or the dramatic imagery of 100 wheelchairs staged at Lincoln Center.

Instead, I invite all those who plan to protest the production to choose to engage. To take the difficult, likely painful step, to opt for dialogue over demonstrations, proaction over protests.

The Metropolitan Opera in New York is the largest classical music organization in North America, with the capacity for nearly 4,000 viewers at each opera performance. The opportunity here is monumental. We can choose to seize the moment, or to stand on the sidelines, holding placards, as it passes us by.

Please, choose the difficult path. Choose the disturbing. Choose discomfort. Choose dialogue.

Maharat Rori Picker Neiss is director of programming, education, and community engagement at Bais Abraham Congregation in St. Louis.

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

Friday, October 17, 2014, Under the Patronage of the Mission of Romania to the UN, and organized by the WAFUNIF Presidency at the UN – that acts in the name of the World Association of Former UN Interns and Fellows, at and of, the UN – The Japanese ASUA Inc. – the sponsors of the event – had obtained the opportunity to start their new World Campaign right here at the UN Headquarters in New York City.

Mr. Hiroji Maji established the ASUA Corporation in 1994, post-Rio I, in order to help the Japanese Auto Manufacturers Association in finding ways to decrease pollution and safety effects from running the motor-vehicles that tend to “despoil the beautiful earth.”

Mr. Maji says “We are committed to protecting the environment and to creating an accident-free society” and is set to achieve this by changing driving habits of those that use the commercially available conventional gasoline and diesel fueled motor vehicles. What he proposes is a driver education platform that besides saving fuel will also increase safety on the roads, saving lives as an extra-benefit from helping the environment.

ASUA has thus reacted with driver improvement activities whenever new questions about conventional transportation arose – cases like: The adoption of the Kyoto Protocol so corporate efforts called to address environmental issues when faced with important and challenging components of corporate social responsibility (CSR). The proposed answer being “Eco Drive” programs sponsored by the companies. It is reported that the “Eco Drive” program has not only been energy-saving but a tip of the hat to all ecology aspirations as well.

ASUA recognizes:
“With the rapid increase in petroleum consumption over the past 100 years, the average temperature of the Earth’s surface has increased by 0.3 – 0.6o degrees C. It is expected that, if this increase in global warming continues, the average temperature will rise by 2 – 4 degrees C over the next 100 years and that the sea level will consequently rise by 50 cm, causing serious problems for the inhabitants of lowland areas. The people of Tuvalu, a reef-fringed island nation in the South Pacific, suffered serious problems from February to April when a high spring tide produced waves which flooded over coastal areas and caused seawater to gush from the ground.
Any increase in global warming poses a crucial threat to low-lying countries because of the consequent risk that they may be submerged.
In addition, global warming has already caused many abnormal weather conditions and changes in the global ecosystem, requiring urgent, worldwide countermeasures.”

But its answer is:
“When you stop doing ‘jackrabbit starts’ and accelerating suddenly while driving, you consume less fuel. Making a conscious effort to adopt this sort of driving attitude is called the ‘Eco Drive’ way. According to the data obtained before and after it was adopted, ‘Eco Drive’ not only contributes to an improvement in fuel efficiency and environmental quality but also to a reduction in traffic accidents. Reducing traffic accidents is a societal challenge which companies that use automobiles must address and commit themselves to when implementing proactive preventive measures.”

And ASUA Inc. has worked out very well the data and teaches The correlation between improved fuel consumption and the ways the motor vehicle is being operated. An activity we admire but we were left amazed by the fact that at this time and age that was just all the company stands for.

The full day activity was advertised at the UN as: Special event on “The International Conference on Global Environment, Carbon Reduction, and Eco-Drive as Solution Towards Sustainability” – All are invited and further information at the Permanent Mission of Romania.

Before going further, for the sake of disclosure, I am compelled to mention:

(a) As the WAFUNIF Representative to the UN in Vienna, I take interest in all what goes on at WAFUNIF.
Further, my membership in WAFUNIF came about as I was a Special Fellow at UNITAR (The UN Institute for Training and Research) having been appointed by the UN Secretary-General, and working on the basis of $1/year with Under-Secretary-General Doo Kingue – manning the desk of Research with special interest in Renewable Energy.

(b) Beginning August 2014, WAFUNIF President Dr. Hassan told me that he would like to organize a one-day UN event – GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT – WHAT HAS TO BE DONE? and link this with the WAFUNIF role as Messengers of Peace. Furthermore, he checked with the UN and reserved space for October 17th. I said I would be delighted to help, added a parenthesis (Peace is a requirement for Ecology) and said that the timing is excellent as October 17th will be well after the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit and the UN General Assembly debates, so we could analyze what was achieved at the 2014 meetings and come up with what has yet to be done, while including as markers cases that show progress is possible.

I drafted a one-page “Concept note” that suggested two morning session with academia and Think-Tanks on “The Wrong That Was Done and Policies for Redress” chaired by people from outside the UN. This followed by a lunch with a noted speaker for which I contacted the appointments coordinator of Professor Jeffrey Sachs, of Columbia University Earth Institute, to ask about his availability. Then for the afternoon I envisioned two sessions with speakers from UN affiliates – UNEP’s Industry branch and the Global Compact. This as my belief was that in the September UN activities regarding Sustainable Development, Climate Change, and the Environment – it will become clear that it will be communities and industry that will be the obvious carriers on a path to achieve global redress to the present unsustainable trends.

Dr. Hassan agreed to my Concept note and on August 14th I took Dr. Hassan to the UNEP and Global Compact offices at the UN, and we discussed this proposal. We encountered a very positive reaction in both offices and only when Mr. Georg Kell, Executive Director of the Global Compact appointed one of his people to work with us, and I suggested that this person ought to be the moderator of an afternoon session that will include some of the best examples of Corporate Responsibility, I heard for the first time from Dr. Hassan that he already had a relationship with Japanese interests that will sponsor the event and provide speakers.
This obviously dampened spirits. Back at WAFUNIF I asked Dr. Hassan why he did not tell me that he actually had already committed himself to an outside group that wants to set up an event at the UN. That is when I learned that already since January he, Dr. Valdemar Prado, and Ms. Liliana Bucur were in discussion with the Japanese.

At that stage I was clearly upset of not having been told all facts, but did not pull out yet; this happened only when in parallel, in order to register WAFUNIF with the UNFCCC in order to secure our attendance at the 2015 Paris Summit, we were asked to submit a financial statement of our Not-For-Profit NGO, and it turned out I could not get one. I informed the Global Compact of my decision as well.


TO THE ESSENCE OF THE OCTOBER 17, 2014 PROGRAM AS IT UNFOLDED – let me say here immediately that I do congratulate the organizers for having pulled together a quite interesting event which intended to serve its backers but has somewhat isolated them from the trend of events as they are unfolding on the path of UN negotiations on SUSTAINABILITY.

It was obvious and no effort to hide it – this was a meeting of the Automobile Manufacturers – Japan and US.
But what denigrated from its effectiveness was that it depicted a rear-guard of the “is” and not enough of what could be a path to innovation – though – thanks to some outside speakers – reality emerged at times.

With Dr. Prado as Rapporteur, THE FIRST PANEL included the Vice President for Environment at the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (US)- Ms. Julie Becker; the Director of the Canadian Automobile Association – Ian Jack, and the Climate Change person from the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association – Mr. Hirotsugu Mauyama.

THE SECOND PANEL – “Global Environment: Energy and Transportation” – had an excellent Moderator – Samuel Lee Hancock, President and Executive Director of Emerald-Planet, a worldwide environmental and economic development movement with headquarters and television production studios in Washington, D.C., but a burdened panel that included Dr. Timothy Weiskel – trained as an historian and social anthropologist he joined the Cambridge Climate Research Associates (CCRA) and consults schools, universities, corporations, municipalities, and national governments to create on-site and online training programs to help them envision the necessary transformations we must all now undertake to enable the human community to move to a post carbon-fueled world – he teaches Climate Change at Harvard Extension School; Dr. George A. Garland – an Independent Consultant who is treasurer of the UN Association of the USA and was involved in US missions to rural areas in developing countries; and a lady that replaced the Transportation Committee Chair of the New York City Council.

My following comments are not from the panel as such, but from interaction with two of the people on this panel.

Samuel Lee Hancock was in our evaluation the high point of the event – he remarked from the floor in one of the discussions that when he was invited for an activity to the State of Carinthia in Austria he learned that 1,000 old unused telephone booths were turned into electricity outlets on Carinthian roads – this so that electric vehicles can be recharged. Then in clear drama – he said that he remarked – “but there are no electric cars in Austria?” and he was rebuked by the Carinthian – yes, but we have tourists coming from Germany that use electric cars and would not come to us if we had no outlets for recharging their batteries!
Above comment was made when one of the speakers was rejecting the idea that there is an alternative to the diesel or gasoline engines used in transportation. Hancock, like a good diplomat simply made the point that there might be obvious ulterior reasons to get away from the present systems that are so dear to the sponsors of the meeting.

Timothy C. Weiksel was in our evaluation the low point of the event – he remarked from the floor the oil-industry dictum that there is more oil being used in the production of biofuels then it is being said they are capable of replacing. At the meeting nobody contradicted him, but I made it my business to talk to him at tea-time and tried to explain to him that it is only an issue if you insist on approaching it the wrong way. I tried to explain to him the case of using ethanol not as a fuel – but in small quantities as needed – as an octane boosting additive to gasoline. This resulting in displacement of extra-crude – both in the motor vehicle and at the refinery that can be allowed to market a first cut of gasoline of lower octane – to be corrected with the addition of the ethanol from biomass. He wanted to have no part of this – like a bad oil-man would have done 30 years ago.

Honestly, I honor a good car salesman that wants to sell his product, but cringe when an academic tries to bamboozle an audience with his position like shining medals. Many years ago I testified in a US Congressional hearing that the honorable gentleman, who was a professor emeritus at MIT that taught thermodynamics, who just testified that the lower BTU content of ethanol will cause us to use more gallons of ethanol then gasoline, ought to note that if he wants to fry an egg on his motor-vehicle engine he is right to measure this by calorimetry (BTUs), but if his intent is to run on that engine – he better measure the output in miles/gallon and will see that the difference in octane values will give better results then expected from BTU measurements.


After lunch – THE THIRD PANEL – titled EcoDrive AS A SOLUTION – was the obvious reason for the event.

Chaired by distinguished professor Yasuhiro Daisho, Dean Graduate School of of Environment and Energy Engineering, Director of Environmental Research Institute, Waseda University located in Shinjuku, Tokyo – introduced at the meeting as the School of Creative Engineering – it included – Keiji Endo, Director of Environment, Tokyo Trucking Association (TTA) and his American counterpart Glen P. Kedzie, Vice President for Energy and Environment, American Trucking Association (ATA).

Also on the panel: Mr. Brandon Schoettle, Project Manager, Sustainable Worldwide Transportation, University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, and Yoshimori Suzuki, President Yamagata Branch of the Japan Automobile Dealers Association.
Yamagata is a one million people prefecture and later in the evening I was convinced it makes some of the best Saki in Japan.

Professor Daisho covers: Various types of engines’ performance, combustion, clarification of toxic exhaust element, energy saving, new combustion system, hybrid system, fuel battery system and new fuel. Experimental manufacturing and performance assessment of various types of new clean-energy cars. Suggestion for local traffic mobility system.

As the second private university to be founded in Japan, Waseda University is considered to be one of Japan’s most prestigious universities. The university holds a memorandum of agreement with Cambridge University, the University of Hong Kong, and Yale University among its 432 partnership institutions in 79 countries .

Japan is the fifth largest CO2 emitter in the world and the Tokyo area 80,000 trucks are part of the story.
In the US, ATA acknowledges for 2013 the use of 52.7 billion gallons diesel (72%) and 37.7 Billion gallons gasoline (28%).
Also we heard that the increase of the fuel cost in the US by 1 cent/gallon would increase the expense to the trucking industry at large by $350-375 million. This explains the importance of fuel saving when improving driving habits.

Mr. Schoettle told us that ExxonMobil and ARAMCO are members of his institute but we wonder if they pursue any interest in fuel saving? On the other hand we learned from the Yamagata source that the prefecture has no subways and that the population is the most aging in Japan – living in single homes and thus with highest number of cars/household in Japan, and highest CO2 footprint/person in Japan. Yamagata Prefecture is located in the southwest corner of T?hoku, on Honshu island facing the Sea of Japan.

A question from the floor was if there is any incentive from the government for more fuel efficient trucks and there was a positive answer from Japan only – not from the US. In the case of the US, because of a shortage of good young drivers, there is even no supervision of performance related to fuel saving. The average age for truckers is 53 and companies will not fire young drivers. So how can this training for better driving even make a dent in US trucks fuel consumption? According to ATA – thus clearly – there is really no eco-driving push in the US. ATA said that as an organization they are fuel neutral – diesel packs most energy. He sees no chance for electric trucks because of range. Bio-diesel is currently 3% of the fuel – this because of local laws. A hydrogen fueled truck costs $100,000 more – so no chance either. With all this – the conclusion is still that the only way to save fuel is eco-driving that could reduce consumption by 10%.

THE FOURTH PANEL was about ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY and was chaired by Kunihiko Shimada, President KS International Strategies Inc. (KSIS). KS stands for Kunihiko Shimada and they “provide strategic consulting and advisory services to corporations, other entities and individuals on environment strategies as well as environmentally-friendly management.” KS is involved in climate negotiations since 1997 (we assume since the Kyoto meeting) and since 2010 advised the Japan Ministry of Environment. He worked also for the UN and seemingly was instrumental in organizing the present event as he gave an end – summary before the Concluding Remarks from Mr. Hiroshi Maji – the President of ASUA Inc. – the sponsor.
This last panel included Mr. Hugues Van Honacker, Team Leader, European Commission’s Directorate of Mobility and Transport, and Dr. Ryutaro Yatsu, Adviser and Former Vice-Minister of the Environment, Government of Japan; William Milczarski, Urban Affairs and Planning, Hunter College, City University of New York.

Liliana Bucur was the Rapporteur for both these last two panels.

Van Honacker, from Germany, is part of the EU Directorate in charge of fuel alternatives and the needed infrastructure.

The oil bill for the EU is $1 billion/day – this is 94% for transportation. Air quality in cities is also a problem
How can one defend the European Automotive industry? What about the facts that 40% of the CO2 comes from road transport and 70% of other pollutants as well? So his major role was to develop an Alternative Fueled System of Transport. But the 28 States of the EU have different markets with different standards, approaches, etc. Even different plugs for electricity.

Natural Gas, biofuels, Biogas, CNG, electricity, H2 – all are considered. Biofuels fit best for airplanes. Some, like Germany and Austria already have CNG sysyems.

Professor Milczarski presented slides from a paper he co-authored with Peter Tuckel and asked if a Sustainable Transportation system can be of help at a local level, and came to the very logical conclusion that the problem is one of LAND USE POLICY.

HIS PRESENTATION WAS NOT ABOUT DRIVING DIFFERENTLY – BUT ABOUT DRIVING LESS.

His concept tackles city sprawl and he talks of households defined as a unit with 1-4 people living in a building and talks of walking and biking but wants stores and outlets to mingle with residence areas.

Ryutaro Yatso enlarged on the EcoDrive idea by talking Asia-Pacific regional conferences and the yearly event at Nagoya.
He pointed out at the importance of taking on the road the work done in Japan and see how this could help overseas – mentioning Vietnam as a first example.

It is at this panel, that from the audience Mr. Hancock made his comment about the Carinthian electricity refueling booths.

Following this fourth panel and an awards presentation interlude, our generous Japanese hosts treated us to music – a great instrumental trio from Japan led by Jiro Yoshida, a singer known in all of the Far East, and a surprise – a singing Romanian Ambassador H.E. Simona Mirela Miculescu – the UN host of the event. Then the Japanese made it possible for the participants to mingle in a nice environment across the street from the UN. The Japanese participants – and the audience was highly Japanese, were
open to discussion and those from motor-vehicle producing companies intent on hearing things that were not said in public.

Conference material is already available in part at  ecodrive-conference.com/login/in…

Sponsor Company Profile

Name ASUA,inc.
Company Address Headquarters
ASUA Building
1-11 Ougondouri, Nkamura-ku, Nagoya
Aichi 453-0804,Japan
Phone: 81-52-452-5588

Tokyo office
4F Sanshi-kaikan
1-9-4 Yuraku-cho,Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 100?0006,Japan
Phone: 81-3-5220-3800

NY office
700 West 192nd Street, Suite 806
New York, NY 10040
Phone: 1-347-722-4252

Establishment Date July 15, 1994
President Hiroshi Maji
Number of employees 104

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LATE ADDITION:

The EU has managed, Friday, October 24th to agree on Carbon Emission Cuts:  www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-2…
but the EU has no clear emissions rule for transport.

With a suggestion that the EU will now enlarge on Carbon Trading business, there is the possibility to award credits for saving of all carbon emissions.

We thought that this can be then also a home for EECODEIVE with measures of saving becoming a bankable tool in a new effort of this carbon credits market. Our second posting is at: www.sustainabilitank.info/#34730

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


How Billionaire Oligarchs Are Becoming Their Own Political Parties

By JIM RUTENBERG OCT. 17, 2014 – The New York Times Weekend Magazine

In August, Tom Steyer and seven campaign advisers sat in a small conference room in Coral Gables, Fla., trying to figure out how to save the world. Steyer, who is 57, has a fortune of roughly $1.5 billion, and his advisers were among the most talented political operatives in the United States. Steyer is especially concerned about climate change, and his immediate goal, the object of discussion that day, was to replace the sitting governor of Florida, Rick Scott, a Republican who has questioned the very existence of anthropogenic climate change, with Charlie Crist, the previous governor, whose environmental views hew more closely to Steyer’s.

The lead Florida strategist, Nick Baldick, was running through the campaign numbers. “There’s a problem here,” he said, brandishing a printout. Two bars, blue and red, were labeled “Total Raised,” and the red Republican bar was notably longer. “It’s just ugly,” Baldick said, with a shake of his head: “$74 million to Crist’s $24 million. And they have $38 million cash on hand to his $15 million.”

Tom Steyer is expected to spend $50 million of his own money supporting candidates who have strong environmental records.

In the spring, when Crist was riding a double-digit lead, Florida looked like a safe bet, but then Scott unleashed an $18 million ad campaign against Crist, painting him as a hack careerist who loves Obamacare and lays off teachers. Not only had Crist’s lead vanished, now he was losing in the key swing district of Tampa, winning by too little in Democrat-friendly West Palm and losing by too much in Republican-leaning Fort Myers. And as Baldick’s numbers showed, neither the state Democratic Party nor Crist could match the barrage.

Baldick is stocky and bald in the way that suggests he should always have a cigar jutting from his mouth. He is known in Democratic politics for his irascibility. It’s part act — political consultants make their trade in bad news — but he was truly annoyed this morning, he told me, largely because I was present at the meeting. Steyer and his communications team had invited me into their inner sanctum partly to make a point, namely that Steyer was more transparent than his rival powers, the conservative billionaire Koch brothers. Baldick saw it as a needless risk. In his decades of experience (in the Clinton, Gore and Edwards presidential campaigns, to name a few), reporters were not invited into sensitive strategy sessions like this one. It wasn’t done and shouldn’t be done, he told me.

Steyer, though, saw visibility as part of the job. He made his money as the founder of a successful hedge fund called Farallon Capital Management and so had spent most of his adult life wading through prospectuses and annual reports. He seemed enthralled and energized by his new course of study in domestic politics, with its incongruent mix of idealism and cynicism. This was democracy in action, real people making real change, not just mysterious figures behind closed doors. Tall, with grayish blond hair and shaggy sideburns, Steyer was in constant motion: his arms waving, his hands slicing the air, his tie — always the same stiff, scotch plaid — swaying to and fro as he spoke. In talking about the political offshoots of his money, he sometimes had the air of a new father.


Steyer’s long-term goal was to build an organization called NextGen Climate Action, which could mirror and oppose the rival private interests who devoted their own fortunes to blocking any action on climate change. Chief among those rivals were Charles and David Koch, the brothers who run Koch Industries. Steyer was especially interested in enacting a cap-and-trade system, which would allow companies to buy or sell emission rights under a strict state or federal limit. The Koch brothers, meanwhile, have worked hard to prevent, among many other government interventions, the adoption of a cap-and-trade system, which they view as the ultimate in reckless government intervention.


If Steyer didn’t step in as a counterweight, he reasoned, no one else would; after all, no one else had so far. Steyer pledged to spend at least $50 million of his own fortune this election season by way of NextGen on behalf of Democrats or, perhaps more accurate, against Republicans, in Florida and six other states: Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. Most of the races were for the Senate, which Republicans are in a position to retake this fall. But the race that was closest to Steyer’s heart was here, in the state “most vulnerable to climate change,” as he put it; a crucial swing state where the Koch brothers had already spent millions to establish a political presence. Charlie Crist himself journeyed to NextGen’s San Francisco headquarters in June, to tell Steyer and many of these same strategists about sea-level rise in Miami, its troubling effects on drinking water and flood insurance and about the many ways in which he differed from Rick Scott. (“There couldn’t be a clearer choice,” Crist told me later. “I’m, like, the opposite of this guy.”)

Crist had been a Republican for most of his long career in Florida politics — as a state senator in 1992, as an education commissioner, as an attorney general — but after a single term as governor, during which he later claimed to have become increasingly alienated from a party that he described as “anti-women, anti-immigrant, anti-minority, anti-gay, anti-education, anti-environment,” he sought an independent U.S. Senate seat instead. He lost that bid to Marco Rubio, and in 2012 he announced (via Twitter) that he had registered as a Democrat. In November 2013 after an encouraging meeting with Steyer, he announced that he would seek the governor’s seat again. In his last turn as governor, Crist took climate change seriously; he pushed through a law that authorized the state’s Department of Environmental Protection to develop a cap-and-trade system. Scott and the Legislature dismantled the law, and Scott redirected the agency instead to “ensure that Florida leads the nation in new partnerships between government and industry.”

At the cramped conference table, Baldick rattled off more news, both good and bad. A series of recent polls found that both candidates were extremely unlikable. (“Crist and Scott Could Make History by Being So Unpopular in Florida” was the headline of one recent report at FiveThirtyEight.com.) Baldick said this could actually be a positive development. “Both of them are not liked,” he explained, but “if you think people are going to show up because they hate, not love — I do — there’s more people who hate Scott.”

Steyer leaned back in contemplation.

“You think that’s what gets people to vote?” he asked.

“Oh yeah, hate, fear —”

One company to which Vinyard granted a permit was Georgia-Pacific — the permit it had been seeking for many years under the Crist administration. The Department of Environmental Protection under Scott required some containment and monitoring measures that environmentalists had sought — officials of the department say it was among the strictest permits they had ever issued — but not the extra dioxin test. The Legislature also passed a provision banning the state from requiring any environmental test that was not on its officially recognized list. In Rinaman’s view, this language seemed suspiciously designed to exclude the test that the Crist administration had been pushing on Georgia-Pacific. Scott signed the provision into law; he also instituted a freeze on any new regulations, and then shed existing regulations by the hundreds.

Scott’s deregulatory efforts did not go unnoticed. Americans for Prosperity invited Scott to speak at the group’s Defending the Dream summit in 2013. “Here we are, two and a half years into his term, and he’s created more than 370,000 jobs in the state of Florida,” Slade O’Brien, the Florida director of the group at the time, said by way of introduction. “And one of the ways he did that was by eliminating over 1,000 burdensome regulations.” When Scott spoke, he noted that the number had grown to 2,600.

At a NextGen fund-raiser in July, the host, Mitchell Berger, a prominent Florida lawyer, told a group of wealthy Democratic donors in Miami that the choice was stark: New ideas and new energy in direct combat with the old coal and gas barons — “Tom Steyer versus the Koch brothers, right?” Steyer, in the speech that followed, offered a gentle corrective to this. It was not just about him, he said; he was hoping like-minded donors would join him. Right now, climate change is nowhere near the top of the list of items that motivate people to vote. He knew that he would never create the sense of a consensus for action if only one billionaire was behind it.

Near the end of September, as the race was entering its final phase, Steyer met once again with his team, this time in a borrowed conference room on the campus of the University of South Florida in Tampa. NextGen data showed that in total, Crist and the local Democrats had raised $44.4 million; that was roughly half what Scott and the Republicans had raised, but still good news, considering how far down Crist had been just a few months before. The money was flowing. The Florida Democratic Party, still the big player, had spent $16.8 million thus far, and the Crist campaign was just behind, with $16.4 million. NextGen was in for $7 million so far, and about to commit to $5 million more.
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Steyer got good value for his money. Crist now held a three-point lead in a head-to-head race; he and Scott were tied at 41 percent when the Libertarian candidate, Alfred Adrian Wyllie, was included. In the three markets where NextGen was advertising in August — Tampa, Fort Myers and West Palm Beach — Crist had moved into a lead of 2 percentage points from what two months earlier had been a deficit of 8. The Duke Energy ad, in particular, had been effective in dampening Scott’s support in Tampa. Scott had just $4 million more in his cash reserves than Crist, and Baldick predicted that Scott, who had a large personal fortune, might eventually be forced to cut himself a check.

“I mean, the bottom line is that what we did worked and worked in a fairly significant way,” his pollster, Geoff Garin, said.

“Yeah,” Steyer said, “it feels good.”

In fact, though, Steyer seemed tired. He had been traveling across the country, visiting his battleground states. He was also, as he would learn the following day, suffering from a kidney stone.

The campaign seemed to have pushed Scott to temper his image on environmental policy. Scott announced that he would reverse some of his earlier cuts to springs protection and the state’s land-buying conservation program. He also said he would get tougher on polluters. He had even agreed to meet with a group of scientists who offered to explain to him why so many of them thought climate change was a genuine threat. (The scientists were disappointed by the meeting, though; during its 30-minute duration, the governor did not ask a single question about the climate.)


With six weeks left before Election Day, NextGen and Americans for Prosperity were each gearing up for aggressive get-out-the-vote efforts, befitting their strange new role as political parties in all but name. A.F.P. had spent the year visiting 280,000 households as part of a “voter education” program, knocking on doors and leaving door-handle placards: “Thank you Gov. Scott for creating jobs.” Chris Hudson, the group’s Florida director, said he expected to follow up with as many as 120,000 of them before Nov. 4.

In Tampa, Steyer and his team were tending to some details about their last-minute commercial blitz. The Crist campaign, Baldick said, had asked if they would extend their advertising in Fort Myers and Tampa; he suggested Steyer do Tampa, but skip Fort Myers. The additional $2 million for new television and online ads would come out of Steyer’s own pocket. The big-money donors that he had hoped would join him had not yet materialized, at least as of mid-September, when federal and Florida election filings showed that Steyer had provided $31.6 million of the $35 million NextGen raised nationwide.

After the meeting, Steyer sat down with 10 student volunteers in the University of South Florida alumni hall. They told him about their interest in solar power and restoring sea grass, their hopes to reduce emissions in India and oil dependence in Trinidad. Steyer could not have been happier. “The younger you are, the more you agree, the more urgent you think it is,” he told them.

By the time he stood up and took a few of them to a NextGen call center near campus, the exhaustion I’d seen in him earlier that day had dissipated. The swing was back in his arms, in his gait. He took his place beside the students to hit the phones. This was democracy at work. “I know you’re in the checkout line, but. . . .” he said to one contact who picked up. Then, to another he said, “If you can believe it, I’m the person who started NextGen Climate Action.”

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